The Radar is Crowded Tonight!

Puff-magic-dragonIf you could see my radar screen tonight … blips all over the place!  Oh yeah, 2019 is going to be the year that finally drives Filosofa to lose her marbles and do something crazy like streaking nude through Grand Central Station screaming, “Run for your lives – Puff the Magic Dragon is attacking!!!” Long story short, this morning’s hodgepodge are not snarky snippets, but out-and-out rants … mini-rants, but rants nonetheless.  Hold your ears …

Trump’s history lesson:

Yesterday, Trump called a cabinet meeting, apparently for no reason other than to brag about the things he says he has accomplished but hasn’t, to blame everyone but himself for everything that is wrong, and to give us a new view of world history.

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. So you take a look at other countries—Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight.”   Anybody want to buy him a copy of World History for Dummies or The Idiots Guide to World History?

While it is true that the former Soviet Union was financially drained by its 10-year campaign in Afghanistan, and collapsed only two years later, there were many other long-term factors in the USSR’s demise. In addition, the Soviets didn’t invade Afghanistan because “terrorists were going into Russia,” as Trump said, but because they wanted to shore up their pro-communist puppet government there.  And by the way, Donnie … Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, not fighting them.

A few other preposterous statements he made at the meeting …

“I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. I want Europe to pay. I don’t care about Europe.” This one was apropos of nothing, other than to criticize Germany, repeating for at least the millionth time that they are not contributing what he, Trump, considers proper to their own defense.  There are reasons for this, but they require an explanation of the history of Germany, and … well, let’s just not go into history with Trump anymore, okay?

Trump now claims, falsely, that he fired General James Mattis.  Not even a shred of truth to this … Mattis resigned in response to Trump’s utterly asinine plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan without even consulting his military advisors or our allies.  Period.  Trump did not fire him.

And he has new justification for his abominable wall … that the Vatican “has the biggest wall of them all”. 

The meeting lasted 95 minutes, after which all cabinet members likely headed to the nearest bar.


Another child is dead …Jazmine BarnesThe little girl in the picture above is Jazmine Barnes.  Correction … was Jazmine Barnes.  Jazmine was 7-years-old when she was murdered while riding in a car with her three sisters and her mother, LaPorsha Washington, in Houston, Texas.  The gunman has not yet been caught, even though the police know the vehicle he was driving.  Ms. Washington was also hit, albeit not fatally. Two things about this infuriate me.  First, that it happened.  Even though the majority of people in this nation are in favour of realistic and sensible gun regulation, thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and corrupt politicians, we have almost none.  And so, little Jazmine Barnes is dead, and her mom, dad, and sisters are bereft.

Porshia Washington

LaPorsha Washington

The second thing that inflames me about this is that I only found this news on the BBC, three days after the fact!  The BBC!  British Broadcasting Corporation!  Where was The Washington Post?  Where was the New York Times? I had to cross the pond to find out that a child was shot to death in my own country! This should have been front-page news, but if it was even reported, it was tucked far behind all the Trump-related headlines.  I did find the news on a Houston news outlet,, and The Root.  Two days after the shooting, CNN finally reported on it.  C’mon, media!  Trump is not the only show in town!

What am I, chopped liver???

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

This was a Trump tweet last Thursday morning.  Two days prior, he had told reporters that the furloughed federal workers were fully in support of Trump holding the nation hostage as he holds out for his abominable wall.  In just two days, the workers went from being on his side, patting him on the back, to being “just democrats” in his rhetoric.  Does this ‘man’ ever take time out to think???

The president, senators, representatives, governors, et al, are elected officials who are chosen by the voters to represent all citizens of the United States.  Their job is not only to represent the specific party with which they are affiliated.  Their job is not to represent only the people they like, or the people who approve of them or agree with them.  They are to represent We The People … ALL of ‘We’!  In addition to the aforementioned books, we should also send him a copy of U.S. Constitution For Dummies!

As a member of We The People, I am calling for the immediate resignation or impeachment and removal from office of the ‘man’ occupying the Oval Office, for he is not representing all of us, but only the minority.  He is endangering the lives of the people he is tasked with protecting and he must be removed NOW!  Hear that, Mitchell McConnell?  Hear that, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and the rest of you in the House “Freedom” Caucus?  Get. Him. Out.

Okay, well … I had one more rant, but I got so worked up over these three that I have forgotten the other.  Consider yourself lucky, I suppose.  Yep, folks, welcome to 2019.  Have a lovely day!Maxine-2019.jpg

Friend or Foe???

Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Foe: an enemy or opponent.syp-v-spy

Shouldn’t be too hard to tell the difference, should it?  Sure, sometimes we think somebody is a friend, only to learn later that they weren’t at all, but most of us are pretty fair judges of character and we don’t often make serious mistakes in choosing our friends.  Donald Trump is the exception to that rule.  But then, Donald  Trump is the exception to most every rule in the book, so why are we surprised?

On Saturday, Trump was interviewed by CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland.  The full interview will be broadcast on Monday, but a few snippets have been released. Asked who he thinks is the biggest foe the U.S. has right now, he replied …

“Well I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.”

President of the European Union Donald Tusk had a good comeback: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

I imagine Trump considers Canada and Mexico among the other foes. Lest you fall into the trap of believing a single word this man says, allow me to clarify.  The European Union and the countries that comprise it are our allies – our friends.  The UK is also our friend and ally. North Korea, China and Russia are not.  They are foes.  They are our antagonists.  They do not seek an alliance where both sides stand to gain.  Russia, in particular, has a goal, an endgame in mind whereby Russia dominates a large portion of the globe, and because of the ignorance of Donald Trump, Russia – specifically Vladimir Putin – views the United States as a pawn in their game.

Typically, a president has many advisors, each an expert in his or her field, and the smart president will listen to those advisors, process the information they are given, then make what seems the best decision at the moment.  By ‘best decision’, I mean that which will keep the world safest, and benefit the citizens of the U.S.  That style of leadership went out the window the day Trump took office and because of it, the world becomes a little less safe every day.

In the past week, Trump has been rude & crude – his trademark – to the Queen of England, to Prime Minister Theresa May, and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – all are leaders of nations that are our friends, our allies.  On the flip side of that, he has praised DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, saying, “He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator.”

And, of course, he is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, just three days after indictments were handed down for 12 of Putin’s henchmen who are accused of having acted as agents to sway the 2016 election in favour of Trump.  Many things are concerning about his meeting with Putin, not the least of which is his insistence that the meeting take place without advisors, staff, note-takers or other witnesses.  This is highly unorthodox and should not be allowed.  Presidential conversations are a matter of record – documented.  Period. One might speculate that Trump has an agenda for the meeting that is not in the best interest of the U.S.  Yep … one might just speculate that …

Trump is very angry over the indictments of the 12 Russians on Friday … angry, but not at Putin, not at Russia … no, he is angry with his own people, angry with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  He says he may ask Putin about the data theft conducted by the 12, but will absolutely not ask for their extradition to the U.S.  Ask yourself “WHY?”

Trump claims the data theft was solely the fault of the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

“I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”

Oh yes, I forgot … the democrats are also a foe.  And it was all Obama’s fault for letting it happen.  Barack Obama is also a foe.

The world should be concerned about the Trump-Putin meeting without credible witnesses or documenters.  Trump says he has low expectations for the meeting, but that nothing bad will come of it.  Sorry, folks, this man’s ‘word’ has about as much value as the rotten milk in my refrigerator.  He cannot even tell the difference between a friend and a foe, and in truth, the U.S. may not have many friends left after the past week.  Think about it.

Protest ahead of Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of Putin-Trump ‘summit’

Did We Forget To Be Human?

The news from Ghouta takes a backseat to the affair between Donald Trump & Stormy Daniels in the U.S. media.  An extra-marital affair, a payoff, misuse of campaign funds, are all juicier news to the average consumer of news in the U.S. than 1,000 dead and 4,800 wounded so far in 2018 in a nation on the other side of the globe.  Even our leaders turn a blind eye, caring more about partisan bickering and filling their own campaign coffers than human lives.

For those who still think that Ghouta is something to eat, a bit of clarification:

Ghouta is a suburb of Damascus, Syria, the last rebel-held enclave close to the Syrian capital, that has been bombarded by Bashar al-Assad’s forces for weeks on end, with Russian air support.  Perhaps the pictures can explain it better than my words.

Many of the dead are children.  People are bleeding to death, starving to death in the streets.  An estimated 400,000 are trapped with nowhere to go and no way to get there if there were some safe haven.

“France and Britain convene an emergency meeting of the Security Council and press for enforcement of last month’s Resolution 2401, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. In this effort, the United States is nowhere, silent, AWOL, as President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian sidekick do their worst. The message to Moscow is clear: Donald Trump’s America does not care about Syria, or war crimes, or human rights. Russian cynicism and American absence produce disaster.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, calls Putin. He dispatches his foreign minister to Moscow and Tehran in an attempt to stop the slaughter. Trump, to whom moral indignation — indeed morality itself — is a stranger, does not care. His Middle East foreign policy has two components: Back Israel, bash Iran. With respect to Putin, he is compromised, or enamored, to the point of incapacity. Let Syria burn.” Roger Cohen, New York Times, 09 March 2018

Perhaps a personal story might make it more real:

Marwan Habaq and his infant daughter, Yasmina, would spend hours at home watching their fish swimming in circles in a tank at home. Mr. Habaq bought the fish before the war. As supplies dwindled, fish food was harder to find. But nine fish survived.

“Me and Yasmina loved the fish, but my wife used to get jealous, because we were paying more attention to the fish than her,” he said.

Yasmina also loved her stuffed toy, a bright red bumblebee bought by her father.

“Usually babies react to colorful stuff, and Yasmina did the same,” he said.

When the airstrikes intensified, Mr. Habaq and his wife grabbed their daughter and fled into the basement, leaving the aquarium and stuffed bumblebee upstairs.

On Feb. 23, their home was bombed. His voice broke as he described the wreckage.

“Every corner of the house was dear to me, but Yasmina’s stuff was the most precious,” he said. He found the bumblebee, half scorched.

As for the aquarium: “I only found one burned fish under the rubble, the rest were ashes.”

There are many, many other stories, and this is not the worst of them.

The new isolationist stance of the U.S. has gone too far when we, as a once-powerful nation, turn our back on this level of grief and suffering.  These are human beings, each with people who love them, each with lives to live, each with stories to tell.  They are not just statistics to be relegated to page 15 of the New York Times.  Ghouta is not a Hungarian stew!  Ghouta is a city with nearly a half-million people, every one of whose lives are in danger at this very moment.

For now, Yasmina and her family are alive.  Many others are not.  Meanwhile, the U.S. media salivates over news of Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump.  Every “news” story has the word ‘Trump’ in the headlines.  And we sit back eating our morning Cheerios while reading the salacious gossip, hanging on Trump’s every insignificant tweet.  Across the globe, people are starving, wandering amidst the rubble searching for loved ones, for a scrap of food or a bit of water.  And the bombs keep coming.

The World Is Not Impressed With Us …

Yesterday I came across an article in the German publication, der Spiegel,  about Donald Trump:

A Danger to the World … It’s Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump

Donald Trump has transformed the United States into a laughing stock and he is a danger to the world. He must be removed from the White House before things get even worse.

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump’s confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Witnessing an American Tragedy

Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn’t care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I’m president after all.

After reading this, I wondered what other countries thought, so I went in search of information, and here is what I found:

From El País (Spain) on 19 May 2017:

el pais

Trump Investigated

Although he hopes to, Trump cannot insulate himself from a political climate which grows ever more precarious with every passing day.

Once again, the incumbent in the White House has shown signs of a total and reckless failure to understand the responsibilities of the position he holds. His opaque relationship, and that of a large number of his team, with Russia, a rival great power to the U.S., is a topic of extreme gravity. As much as Trump tries to deflect the controversy and give the appearance of normalcy to the intimate relationship he has with Putin, neither his campaign team’s contacts with the Kremlin nor his intelligence leaks on terrorism to Moscow are acceptable. Even less so is his response, thuggish and raucous, to accusations over his relations with Russia and the pressure he piled on FBI Director James Comey, in order to protect himself and his subordinates from the investigation.

It is also worth mentioning the president’s ridiculous claim that “no politician in history has been treated more unfairly.” The list of people who stand above him in this regard is endless. Rather than spouting nonsense on Twitter, Trump ought to cooperate fully with the authorities, adhere to the law and clear up exactly what has happened with regard to some of these serious incidents.

From (Russia) on 3 May 2017

Life.ruThe Middle East Is Not Letting Trump Go

Trump repeatedly said that he does not need the Middle East … But he has underestimated its importance.

It’s already been 100 days since the eccentric Donald Trump became president of the United States. And thus, it’s already been three months since the global community began trying to guess and predict the next step of the billionaire who is now in charge of the Oval Office.

There is no doubt that the U.S. president’s policy will be transformed. Those things that Trump said during the election campaign and things that he will make come true will not be the same things. This was early Trump. Some 100 days later, he was replaced by an average Trump.

The Middle East will not let the U.S. go, but how Trump and his team will react to it is unclear. It is hoped that the region will not return to the old and still not forgotten state, the way it was under President Bush.

From Excélsior (Mexico) on 14 May 2017


Trump’s Visit To The East

Trump has … failed with domestic politics, and … his problematic character, lack of experience, and tendency to lie and cheat will be … similarly revealed in … international relations.

Trump has categorically failed with domestic politics, and soon his problematic character, lack of experience, and tendency to lie and cheat will be known and similarly revealed in the field of international relations.

From Huanqiu (China) on 1 May 2017


The Trump Administration’s First 100 Days – Has the US Changed?

Trump’s aspiration to fundamentally change American politics is separated from reality, the thwarted implementation of his policies inevitable.

Trump’s aspiration to fundamentally change American politics is separated from reality, the thwarted implementation of his policies inevitable. First of all, giving power back to the people is not an empty political slogan. To achieve a change of power of this kind would first require a fundamental systematic change to a form of government which serves the people. As a very rich man, Trump clearly has no intention of overthrowing the current capitalist system which serves the rich.

The claims Trump made during his election campaign regarding rapidly improving relations with Russia, calling NATO outdated, and claims of putting China under pressure have proved inopportune and not beneficial to the U.S.

Significantly reducing taxes for businesses and citizens to raise the economic competitiveness of the American economy, to promote economic growth and to increase citizens’ income will no doubt make a bad situation worse considering the $20 trillion deficit. Hoping for rapid economic growth to increase household incomes by cutting taxes is very likely to fail. During the first 100 days of the Trump administration, the federal budget deadlock has once again caused problems for the White House, with both parties playing games which threaten the regular functioning of government. This just demonstrates Trump’s inability to overcome the restrictions of the capitalist system’s market dominance to implement real change. Fundamentally closing the widening gap between the rich and poor, racial discrimination, increase in violent crime, and fierce political battles are problems that are so hard to solve they feel unachievable.

‘Twould seem that the Trump regime is indeed the laughingstock of the global community, though the laughter is tongue-in-cheek, as other nations realize, even when Trump does not, that we are all inter-connected and what Trump does has the potential to send shock waves round the world.  We laugh at the antics of a clown, but somewhere deep inside, we are frightened.

Breaking News: President Shared Classified Data With Russians

Last Wednesday Trump met with top Russian officials in the Oval Office. The Russian press was allowed in, the U.S. press was barred. This was noteworthy in and of itself, but in light of today’s news, it is more than highly suspect. Trump gave away highly classified information to the Russians on that day. Gronda, as I knew she would be, was on top of the story when it broke this afternoon in the Washington Post, and her post sums up everything we know to this point. This is too important to let slide by, so please take a few moments to read Gronda’s excellent post. I am sure she will update us as more information becomes available. Thank you for your excellent work, Gronda!

Gronda Morin


The republican President Donald Trump seems to be on the downward roller coaster ride of self-destruction and the ride hasn’t ended yet.

Remember all the fuss republicans raised about the democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton having possibly placed classified data at risk while she was Secretary of State (2009- 2013) because she had used a private server to transmit and receive work product emails. Her intent to do this was never proven because as per the state department’s protocol, any classified data was supposed to have already been separated out to be used via other secured systems. As audits have proven in the past, a certain percentage of the data that Hillary Clinton worked on with via her private server would be retroactively marked classified and in this case, 3 pieces slipped through which had…

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The Games Little Boys In Men’s Bodies Play …

fishIt was just another week in the White House and beyond.  I almost feel guilty about writing some of the juvenile posturing going on with Trump & Friends … it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel … I don’t even have to work at it.

First there was Trump’s poke at North Korea, when he said an “armada” was on the way to the Korean Peninsula, eliciting threats from the North Korean government.  Only trouble … the “armada” wasn’t actually heading to North Korea, but rather to the coast of Australia to play … war games!

Now the latest in the little boys’ games:

Russian Planes Buzz Alaska Four Nights in a Row  

My first thought, on reading the above headline was that perhaps they had seen Sarah Palin on her front porch watching them and had come buzzing by for a closer look at America’s #1 Bimbo!  But no, that cannot be right, for she is in Washington with former Idiot of the Week, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock.


Nugent, Rock, Trump, Palin

So what was Russia so interested in at our back door?  Nothing.  Just like Trump’s blustery implied threat to North Korea, it is nothing more or less than a game of cat and mouse. It is a game that has been played for decades: I still think the pilots were hoping to get a closer look at Sarah sunbathing on her porch.


“Over the Baltic, just off the coastlines of NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Russian military aircraft were intercepted 110 times by allied planes in 2016. That was a decrease from the 160 recorded intercepts in 2015, but it has been enough to keep both sides well-versed in the protocols of flying in close proximity.” Paul McCleary, Foreign Policy, 21 April 2017

But then there was Jeff Sessions who, for some reason unknown to mankind, at least the portion of mankind with a cerebrum, said this:

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”  Okay, so Jeffrey does not have his hands on the playthings that Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un have, but he is still one of their gang and has his own toys.  Unfortunately, he spent so much time playing with his toys that he failed History 101 and did not realize that Hawaii is not just some little ‘island in the Pacific’, but in fact is actually the 50th state in the nation and has been since 21 August 1959. The other thing he may have forgotten is that Judge Derrick Watson came up for confirmation in 2013, Sessions himself voted to confirm the judge to the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.  Well, what the heck … Sessions is 70 years of age … the guy really cannot be expected to remember everything, now can he?


An island in the Pacific:  Kaneohe, Oahu – 2010

A number of fun & funny comments stemmed from Sessions’ ignorance, but these were my favourites:

  • “Please don’t dis[respect] Hawaii as it gives us papaya, coffee, helicopter parts and the last competent president.”  
  • “We should let @jeffsessions know that New Mexico is a state too. Otherwise the wall might get built in the wrong place.”  laughing

And then on to Trumpie himself who is getting bored since the generals took his toys away … so he decided to play ‘bully’ over … cows!

cows “In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others, and we’re going to strategy working on that. Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, it’s a disgrace.”  What, you may ask, did Canada do to draw the wrath of the playground bully?  Canadian dairy producers recently decided to collectively lower their prices in order to compete with cheaper, American imports. About 70 dairy producers in both Wisconsin and New York are reportedly affected by the new policy. Best I recall from my college economics courses, this is competitive business practice and does not signify “a disgrace”.

Donnie T., for his part, is threatening to “tear up” the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but he was threatening that even before the election, so … ho-hum.  What else is new? One comment I found humorous in the UK’s Independent was: “Don the Con is a great example as to why boys and girls should learn history and to read, write, and speak clearly. He lacks these basic building blocks and has unenviable analytical skills. The word “moron” comes close to capturing the extent of his abilities, although lumping him in with morons might be disrespectful to morons.”

As you can see, it has been a week of business at the playground, complete with toys and playground bullies.  Stay tuned next week for more fun and games …

Why Is Rep. Nunes (R-CA) Acting So Erratic?

Rep. Devin Nunes, one of the people in charge of the House investigation into the connections between Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government, has been acting in an extremely erratic manner and seems to be intent on compromising the investigation. Fellow-blogger Gronda has been following this situation and wrote this post, summarizing Nunes strange behaviour. I hope you will take a minute to read it … this investigation is extremely important, and it appears that Nunes is not up to the challenge of putting his dedication to Trump aside in order to keep an open mind to the information he is receiving. Thank you, Gronda, for your hard work on this excellent post!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of devin nunesIt seems that when the US House Representative Devin Nunes held his press conferences on Wednesday (3/22/17) about having viewed intelligence data which troubled him and which seemed to him, to be unfair to the republican President Donald Trump, he forgot to mention that he had studied this material at the White House. He says that he went to the White House’s secure location to meet with his source because the computers there, make it easier to pull up sensitive data and these computers are not available in the US congressional building.

On 3/27/17 David A. Graham of The Atlantic penned the following news item,The Ever-Deepening Mystery of Devin Nunes.”

“As House Intelligence Committee chairman, Representative Devin Nunes’s job is to oversee American spycraft. But Nunes’s own actions over the last few days suggest more the cloak-and-dagger actions of a would-be John Le Carré character than those of a sober government…

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Do We Even HAVE A Secretary Of State???

Self-absorbed says it best.  The U.S., if not fully isolating itself from the international community, is so self-absorbed that it is pulling back from global commitments.  Already in his eight weeks in office, Trump has done much to anger and concern allies and adversaries alike. As Keith Wilson mentioned yesterday in his post, our allies are already concerned and mistrustful of the current administration, quite understandably.

On February 1st, Rex Tillerson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of State, but is he qualified, and does he have the power of the office, or is he merely a shadow figure? Trump failed to consult with Tillerson on his policy change on Palestinian statehood or putting Iran “on notice” for its most recent ballistic missile test, and he nixed Tillerson’s choice for his deputy, Elliot Abrams, because last year, Abrams questioned Trump’s fitness for the job of president. Abrams, by the way, is highly qualified, having served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In reality, Abrams is more qualified to be Secretary of State than Tillerson, who has no prior government experience.

Tillerson was absent from the president’s key meetings with the leaders of Israel and Canada and largely invisible in Trump’s encounters with the prime ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as the White House’s diplomacy with Mexico so far.

Trump’s budget plan, submitted to Congress last week, calls for a 29% cut to the State Department budget, a cut that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an enthusiastic Trumpeter, called ‘inappropriate’.  “America being a force is a lot more than building up the Defense Department. Diplomacy is important, extremely important, and I don’t think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate.”

Many analysts believe that Tillerson has been largely kept out of the loop when it comes to key foreign policy decisions.  Neither he nor his staff were consulted on Trump’s initial executive order imposing a travel ban. When Trump decided over a dinner to approve a special forces counter-terrorist raid in Yemen, there was no one from the state department present who would normally have highlighted the dangers of civilian casualties from such operations for wider US interests in the region. The raid on 29 January went badly wrong and 25 civilians were killed, including nine children under the age of 13. The purpose of having advisors is to listen to their advice, but this thought apparently evades Trump.

Analysts further suggest that the budget cuts, lack of staffing, and keeping Tillerson in the dark on key issues may be the work of none other than Steve Bannon, self-professed disruptor of the Washington establishment and its normal ways of functioning. Early on, Bannon gave himself, through an executive order signed by Trump but drafted by Bannon, a full seat on the Principals Committee of the National Security Council (NSC). It is speculated that Bannon is second only to Jared Kushner in terms of influence on Trump.  Neither Bannon, nor Trump, nor Kushner are educated in matters of foreign affairs and none are qualified to be making decisions.  But then, neither is Secretary Tillerson, whose background is in business, and whose Russian ties are circumspect, at best. And in fact, Tillerson claims he never wanted the job to begin with:

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

Which brings us to this week, and the endpoint of this post.  Tillerson has announced his plans to skip an April meeting of NATO foreign ministers in lieu of attending a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington.  This is seen by some of our closest allies as a snub.  Some reactions from the foreign policy community:

“Unprecedented.” – Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO and current president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“US allies are alarmed and worried.” – Jenny Mathers, a Russia expert at Aberystwyth University.

“I would say as a NATO veteran, a NATO junkie, that the presence of a U.S. secretary of State, particularly his first opportunity to join his counterparts, at a ministerial is something that shouldn’t be passed up, especially when we face so many challenges.” – Alexander Vershbow, the former No. 2 official at NATO

“I think it’s a most unfortunate signal. I would blame it on schedulers. I do think that is part of the problem. He will have met with a lot of ministers in other venues, but given the discussion that’s going on about NATO, I think it’s an unfortunate scheduling problem.” -Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The NATO meeting of foreign ministers is April 5-6, and Xi Jinping will be in Washington April 6-7, so conceivably Tillerson could have worked his schedule to accommodate both.  To add insult to injury, at the same time he announced he would skip the NATO meeting, he also announced that he would travel to Russia the week after.

President Trump has come under scrutiny for his overtures on improving relations with Russia. Trump has also repeatedly blasted NATO as “obsolete” and questioned whether he would come to the defense of allies if they didn’t pay more for their defense. And now the Secretary of State is casually blowing off an opportunity to meet with NATO ministers, but planning a trip to Russia.  One must ask the question:  do we actually have a Secretary of State, or is Rex Tillerson merely another of Steve Bannon’s puppets?

Ready for the Main Event?

Blogger-friend Erik Hare, writing as Barataria, has once again hit the nail on the head in his assessment of the Trump administration, and the Russian issue. Please take a moment to read his post …. then buy the popcorn! Thank you, Erik!

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

Before the circus came to town, it was Barataria’s position that we’d all be wise to ignore it as much as we possibly can. Obviously, we don’t heed our own advice.

Then again, things are happening which may point right at the heart of the problem – the flurry of Washingtoonia that actually winds up making a difference. In the great three ring circus of government it’s time to keep your eyes firmly on the center ring – and whether the supposedly tamed bear eats the Ringmaster.

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A Post That Isn’t

Today, feeling the effects of cold weather, the political climate, and the subject matter of my last several posts, I find that my frame of mind is just a wee bit on the sad side.  So, I thought it might do me good to write about something other than Trump and the lunacy that surrounds him.  I wanted to write about anything other than Trump.  Something upbeat and positive. But what?  Every single headline on The Washington Post’s website has that ugly word, Trump, in it:

  • Trump’s national security adviser shared secrets without permission, files show

  • Trump recruits army of business titans to do battle in Washington

  • Trump displays unorthodox style in how he made State Department pick

  • Pence plays role of Trump’s ambassador to nervous Republicans

Sigh.  Okay, moving on to The Guardian.  Human tragedies in Aleppo; genocide in South Sudan; Duterte personally killing criminals; China wary of Rex Tillerson; Yemen airstrikes; Putin’s new ghetto …

New York Times …. Again, Trump is in every single bloomin’ headline.

The Intellectualist:

  • Report: Women In Syria’s Aleppo Choosing Suicide To Escape Rape

  • Assad’s Forces Enter Syria’s Aleppo And Begins Executing Civilians

  • Trump Owes At Least $3B To Creditors, Including Chinese Gov’t

Ah wait!  Here’s one about a 73-year-old man … with dementia … shot 7 times by a police officer.  Sigh.

Okay, I give up.  It is obvious that there is a media conspiracy to keep my mood from improving today, so I shall now return to my laundry, grocery list-making, and perhaps go clean some windows or something equally fun.  Since I have cheated you out of a coherent blog post, here are a few funnies for your viewing pleasure.