Posts tagged ‘North Korea’

Level of Frustration and Other Topics

Today is one of those days I truly hate being old. I look at the devastation in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, and I want to get out there and help. I look at the devastation in Puerto Rico and I want to hop on an airplane and help them rebuild. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be much help. I would just get in the way. That wasn’t always the case, but I simply can’t do it anymore. It is this stark reality of my limitations. It is that reality that I am not what I used to be nor am I going to be again when I could take on almost anything.

I think what makes this doubly frustration is there is so much that could be done and we have a government led by a moron. His best attributes are his ability to tear things down, lie, pander with ignorance and racists, and connive. I know in California, we have good government and good people who will rise to the occasion. So does America, but under the leadership of Republicans and the village idiot, we see a wrecking ball, not leadership to build from the ashes. There is no vision there except some super capitalist utopian hell envisioned by Ayn Rand. I read this this morning about one Santa Rosa woman who lost her home and wanted to get in my car, but again, I would just get in the way:

She’s answering the logistical questions one-by-one: Where will they live? When will the children return to school? She has no answer for the most difficult questions about her upended life: Will things ever be the same?

“Our house had a certain smell to it,” she said. “It was our house. When you come home it has that smell. How can I replicate that smell for my kids, or is it gone forever?”

“This is ranking up there with when my brother died. It’s right up there — one of the worst things that’s ever happened in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my husband and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.”

I like to think that we Americans are optimistic and enterprising, that we can fix these things. We are actually, and we can, except we now have a Republican led government that can do nothing, and wonders along with their leader, how they can blame the victims for this tragedy. Remember in Puerto Rico it was their fault because they were in debt (again aided and abetted by Washington and profit sucking financial institutions).

I guess my biggest frustration is there is so much that we could do. There is so much to fix and I want to leap out of my chair and get at it. But like our now Republican enfeebled country, my knees won’t allow any leaping, So I sit here and write. My time on this planet is now limited. But couldn’t we just start fixing a few things so when I do leave I know we are moving in the right direction? I have to figure out how to turn this ship around if only one mind at a time. Like the woman above, and I will rephrase: This is ranking up there with one of the worst times in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my wife and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.  We so need a leader to lead us out of the wilderness we have gotten lost in.

Okay, perspective. I can only control what I can control and I am actually a very very lucky man even with the prostate cancer. The world (bubble) which I live in is very blessed. So let’s turn to baseball. Last night the LA Dodgers beat those uppity Cubs and there was a controversial call at home plate. Since some of the disastrous injuries in baseball occur with the catcher trying to block the plate with a runner trying to score (See Buster Posey), it was ruled that unless you have the ball, you cannot black the plate. In this game, as the catcher was catching the ball, he stuck his leg out behind him to block the plate (good way to get your leg broken) and tagged the runner out. On replay it was overturned ruling the catcher was blocking the plate before he had the ball. The old farts in baseball were all aghast. Stupid rule! That is the athleticism of the game! It was great play!

On the contrary, I think they made absolutely the right call. To do anything else would have once again announced open season on catchers trying to catch the ball or make a tag. It would have turned baseball into football at home plate. The thing I love about baseball is that it is driven competition without the violence and hate. This would change that. What I get from all this is how hard change is for people who are used to a certain way of doing things. And that is in a microcosm the problem this country faces as change is accelerating and the Republicans feed fear promising to drag us back to a time that never existed.

One last thought from Nicholas Kristof who took some criticism for his trip to North Korea, which I actually thought was quite informing and alarming as we move toward war and the DIC has no clue what game he is playing. Nicholas defended his actions with this and in this world where news is now a profit center so on-site reporting is at a minimum, we ought to think about:

Being on the ground in a country lets you see things and absorb their power: the speaker on the walls of homes to feed propaganda; the pins that every adult wears with portraits of members of the Kim family; the daily power outages, but also signs that the economy is growing despite international sanctions; the Confucian emphasis on dignity that makes officials particularly resent Trump’s personal attacks on Kim; the hardening of attitudes since my last visit, in 2005; and the bizarre confidence that North Korea can not only survive a nuclear war with the U.S. but also emerge as victor…

I left North Korea fearing that we are far too complacent about the risk of a cataclysmic war that could kill millions. And that’s why reporting from within North Korea is crucial: There simply is no substitute for being in a place. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, when the reporting was too often from the Washington echo chamber rather than the field. When the stakes are millions of lives and official communications channels are nonexistent, then journalism can sometimes serve as a bridge — and as a warning.

And let’s never forget how they failed us with the DIC, right here in our own country. Not my President.

“Dotard” or WTF Friday

Maybe Kim Jong-un isn’t as crazy as we thought. He nailed that one and it is quite a step up from “rocket man”. Maybe Kim will have that song by Elton John as his new theme song like Hail to the Chief. Dotard according to Dictionary.com is “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person.” Nailed it. And he still does not get Kim. The teenage food fight is going to lead to violence. As I have argued before, Kim needs this kind of aggression to survive. And the Village idiot in Charge (VIC) is the perfect adversary that goads him on. WTF over.

Meanwhile in the ‘homeland”, Facebook has turned over 3000 possible add buys by Russian proxies and the Dotard’s response reported in the Daily Beast was:

In his latest early-morning tweetstorm, President Trump called the reports of Russian ads on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election a “hoax” and pointed the finger, once again, at former challenger Hillary Clinton: “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”

Crooked Hillary? So clear and direct evidence of Russian interference in our election is a hoax, and facts and data don’t matter. The Dotard believes what he wants to believe and if you extend this to other policy positions, you kind of have to say, WTF! Of course we have had this evidence for some time, not only with the Dotard in Chief (DIC), but his dotard party. They believe what they want to about healthcare and as Jimmy Kimmel has shown us, either lie or don’t believe their own words. Then there is “tax reform” which of course is a tax cut for the wealthy even though the DIC says there will be no tax cuts for the wealthy. What does he think a 15% corporate tax is? WTF!

Meanwhile in Alabama, for those of you who want relief from disaster pictures and stories, the two candidates are a nightmare. One did a deal with Sessions and the Governor for the post, the other can’t quite figure out that separation of church and state thing. It does tell you one thing. Make any excuses you want about down trodden workers railing against the government, these two make dotard operative as everyday speech. One has to wonder what they put in the water in Alabama (WTF country).

I have to go to the doctor this morning and I want to write something about the first half of PBBS’s Vietnam so I am going to cut this short, but with all the power lines down in the hurricane devastated region, could they not learn from our own military that hardens their bases by burying all those lines? Nope, that would be too expensive, except when you figuring in how many more times they will get knocked down. Oh wait! That would be believing in global warming and Dotard says it is junk science. Got go with him right? WTF

Protect and Defend (Themselves)

I am not going to comment in detail on the bull in the UN shop that has sent so many embarrassing and conflicting messages that world leaders are left wondering what happened to the United States of America.  Let me just say that as he announces the latest sanctions on Kim Jong-un, I will try to remind you that it is the threats and economic attacks that feeds Kim Jong-un.  And the tighter the noose, the more likely a response, the tighter his grip on his nukes, and his response would not be negotiations.  You have to note that as the Village Idiot in Charge threatens to back out of our agreement with Iran (or renegotiate it which is a pipe dream) he sends a strong message that you cannot trust us.  Turn over your weapons and we will leave you alone.  Even I don’t believe that.

I have to ask, where is the U.S. Navy, Hospital ships, even cruise ships that could provide safe haven for those in Puerto Rico and the outlying islands that now have nothing?  Are we flying in generators? In Mexico, where are our trained structural teams to help extricate people from the rubble?  Maybe they are out there, but it is clear this President (not mine) does not put this very high on the importance level.

I should not also miss mentioning the outright lie the Republicans are telling about their repeal and replace healthcare plan.  Of course why should that be a surprise when their “tax reform” bill is nothing but a tax cut for the wealthy, paid for by the cuts they are going to make in healthcare.  Oh, and notice how they are rewarding states who did not expand Medicaid, while penalizing those who did.  If any of those fools vote for this that held out before, there is nothing left of the Republican Party but a lap dog for the base. Rational thought does not enter their brains.

But to the subject of this blog.  Are you getting concerned with the number of times police are called out and ending up killing someone?  The latest was in Oklahoma City where a cop shot a deaf man who would not put down a pipe while bystanders were shouting, “He is deaf, He can’t hear you.”  There was that case last week of the student at Georgia Tech wielding a knife and was obviously on a death by police mission. It would seem that police are really good at handling handicapped, mentally ill, or autistic people with the use of their gun. Here is another one. . Remember the kid in the Park with an air pistol?

It goes on and on.  Search on police kill son after call by parents and you get hundreds of stories. The message here is don’t call the cops, they may start shooting.  Who are they protecting, and the answer is themselves.  Sure there are shootings that really are self-defense, but most are perceived self-defense, and parents who called the police thought they would help, not kill their son.   In other words, they are way too eager to shoot first to protect themselves than to do their job. Yes it is a dangerous job, but that is why you got in it right? Where are non-lethal ways of controlling the situation?  Why is the gun the weapon of choice in these situations?

Look, I know that this is a minority of police, but it makes no difference.  The shootings of blacks are outrageous and most of the time the cop gets off.  See the latest in St Louis.  What this does is delegitimize the police in the eyes of citizens, and when they lose that trust, they lose the ability to be an effective policing force.  I would think twice about call the police on anything, because it is becomes the wild wild west, and I am white well off citizen.  We have a giant problem here Houston, and I think the easiest way to solve it is training and more nonlethal tools to control suspects.  Then when they get it wrong, it doesn’t end someones life. For now all we got is body cameras so we can see the tragedy up front and personal.

North Korea, Again

Well, they are at it again.  The North Koreans may have set off a more powerful hydrogen bomb:

North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test early Sunday in an extraordinary show of defiance against President Trump, who responded by declaring the country “hostile and dangerous to the United States” and criticizing an American ally, South Korea, for “talk of appeasement.”

To me the choices are very simple.  For once, Trump is right. Appeasement (or sanctions) have not worked and North Korea is determined to get a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.  China has been ineffective and I see no reason to believe they will be in the future.  So if that assumption is correct, we only have tow choices:

  1. Take out their program with pre-emptive strikes and cripple the government
  2. Live with it

That’s it.  Pretty stark, huh.  Option 1 removes the threat to the United States, but at what cost? There are estimates.  There could be retaliation with much of Korea and Japan using chemical and conventional weapons.  Estimates of casualties are in the millions.  The whole region would be massively unstable and the disruption of our world economy would be massive.  One would have to wonder how South Korea, China, and Japan might feel about this.  And the war could spiral into a long blood conflict.

Option 2 says we have to accept they will get the weapons and we can try additional steps to convince them to come over from the dark side, while using the old strategy of MAD to thwart them.  The downside here is that if North Korea continues to develop their arsenal, more of the United States is threatened and from a blustering fool of a president, he looks weak. On the other hand, MAD worked until the USSR collapsed. but then we did not face a country or government as unstable and insecure as this one.  War just might suit them.

So there you have it.  Unless I am sadly mistaken (and wishfully so) there are no other choices.  My biggest fear is that the military can convince the Village Idiot that they can limit the casualties and a pre-emptive strike is a rational move.  Tell that to one of the millions who go up in smoke.

 

Holy Mackerel, or Republicans are Evil

I don’t know what to tell you. I started this blog to write about policy and the failed logic of conservatives and some Democrats and now I am reduced to trying to explain insanity. Oh, and I would have titled this particular blog Holy Shit, but I am trying to clean up my language. I listen to the news now and must say holy shit at least 50 times a day. Oh what I would give for a slow news day.

I have spoken of the fire and fury and then the doubling down, the myriad of contradictory messages coming out of the government, but the one that got me the most was the Village Idiot’s comments about the 755 State Department employees told to go home, actually thanking Vald:

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So people who have dedicated their lives to foreign service are just dead weight on a payroll? Now you know how he really feels just about all Americans, they are a means to an end and when they are no longer necessary, kiss your ass goodbye. If you did not think there was Russian collusion or some kind of a Russian hold on the Village Idiot, this should give you pause.

Republicans are living out a self-fulfilling prophesy. They claim government is incompetent and now, by cracky, they have instituted one that makes incompetent look absolutely first-rate. I have said many times, and been accused of hyperbole, that Republicans are evil. But step back for a moment and think about it. The Village Idiot is not an aberration, but the result of a long campaign to dumb down and lie to the American people. Then they are shocked, shocked I tell you at the monster they have created. Then when he got elected, they all fell in line.  How’s that for evil?

The critical evidence in their evilness was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. They only needed 50 votes in the Senate and lo and behold, some of them figured out they had no solutions for the replace part of the replace and the repeal, and at least for some, was too cruel (and maybe career ending which is the only thing most politicians respond to). In fact Republicans have no workable solutions for almost any of our critical challenges we face today. They never had to have any as they opposed Obama and became ever more ideological, and now their ideology is a dead-end with no space to turn around. The difficult problems like economic inequality, global warming, failing infrastructure, education costs going through the roof, and loss of high paying middle class jobs are not solved “by the miracle of the market place”.

But we are faced with an increasingly insane* approach to North Korea which could kill millions and destroy much of the world’s economy, and no approach on the “nonexistent” global warming, both will have dire consequences for it now turns out, us, and our children, and we have insanity and evilness at the helm. Had we elected the establishment Hillary and a few progressive Democrats, both situations would have been in good hands.

And all of this makes no mention of a federal budget or the debt ceiling crisis looming. Once again ideology is going to get in the way. The Republicans will scream deficit, deficit, deficit and they will not authorize any more debt, except we already incurred it when they voted for things so now what they are doing is welshing on paying their bills. An it has become an article of faith with many Americans that debt is just bad and we should balance the budget. There is an element of truth herein controling our debt, but in general both are wrong and I have written copiously about why they are wrong so I won’t go into it again.

So they are poised to destroy America as a leader in the world, maybe start WWIII, do nothing about global warming that will destroy much of the world as we know it, destroy our economic standing in the world, and have no workable solutions for any of our domestic challenges except less government and cutting taxes, and you wonder why I know they are evil? They enabled everything we see before us. The people who pride themselves in believing hard work and discipline is all that is required to succeed, have been selling us a free ride for the last 50 years and nothing is free. Government leveling the playing field and making investments in our future, not our rich is what it is going to take. That would be heresy in Republican land.

One final thought. I watched the Village Idiot claim that Manafort is a nice man, but basically who knows. He knows. He put him in charge of everything for two months. He now knows that the government has the goods on collusion and illegal financial dealing and he is trying to distance himself, with the defense, “I had no idea.” It won’t wash which is why we should be very afraid about North Korea. It is the ultimate subject changer. Have a lovely weekend. I am stocking up on survival rations. That would be wine and lamb. Oh, and some beer and wings when I play my DVD recordings of all ball games. I already have a generator.

*You know I do have one crazy thought. While North Korea is crazy and unpredictable, maybe if they see that Trump is the same way, they might actually fear him. Then again they might actually engage him in a war. We will see.

Surprise!

North Korea is not a surprise, yet it captured the news yesterday, whether true or not. Sooner or later they were going to get there and like Trump the President, who they are is no surprise from who they have been. China and the United States, the two parties that could have solved this together, have failed to, looking to their own selfish needs and kicking the can down the road. The can has now arrived. No more road to kick down. And North Korea is no Soviet Union of old. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may not force people to be rational. I have argued for years that North Korea is a living hell on earth and that China and the United States could not or would not force regime change was a political and moral failure. Now we have saber rattling with a moron for President.

Make no mistake, the United States could not solve this without China. And China in its own self-serving needs for trade and a firm border to keep immigrants out and buffer to US backed South Korea, could not bring itself to deal with a painful problem. And too many times we have thrown our hands up and just said well, maybe the government will fall. In North Korea, falling means taking everyone with you. That is the critical understanding we have failed to understand. So now we have entered very dangerous times because we refused to do the hard things when we needed to. Now the hard thing is unimaginable. And we have a moron for President.

Oh, and global warming is happening faster and may be more drastic than anticipated. Surprise! Not. We have known about global warming since the 1980’s. We have seen our impact on the planet, not just its weather, but its species for hundreds of years and we do nothing. Oh there are little movements around the edges, but business must come first. Now we are faced with the reality of once again kicking the can down the road, and the road is coming to an end. No more kicking. But like the North Korea problem, we have a moron for a President (not to mention a whole Party in charge of the country whose litmus test is not believing in science).

There has been some debate about whether the latest government report on the rapid increase in the impacts of global warming might force the moron President to change his stance. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are on. Donald Trump got here illegally by laundering money for the Russians and he certainly colluded with them in the election. The investigation is tightening and he needs his base to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the other shoe drops, as it most certainly will. So he is not going to change on global warming, and we are going to see it it full force, and like the Korean thing, the outcome will be disastrous.

Meanwhile in the world of economic inequality, the inequality grows. And sooner or later the markets will come crashing down because the part of the pie that goes to the majority of consumers will be too small to sustain it. The markets are at record highs this week, believing that our moron President will cut regulations and taxes so they can further increase their profits with no concern for the damage they are doing. We have legitimized economic inequality by believing a high tide lifts all boats, except it hasn’t, and we have also kicked this can down the road, and sooner, rather than later, the market is going to crash.

Are you sensing a trend here? We Americans, who can do anything, have done nothing. When things got hard, we went looking for easy simple answers that ignore reality. Enter the Republican Party, facilitated by the Democrats, who know how to pander to Americans looking for the easy answer. Ronald Reagan, the prince of government is the problem, told us to be selfish and seek out gains for ourselves and everyone would prosper. Kiss “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” goodbye. We got tax cuts pay for themselves and the private sector will solve all problems. Driven our roads lately? We are starting to look third world. But don’t forget their main message, investing in government through taxes is a waste of money. Now look at us.

We are reaching a point where ignorance is considered a virtue (remember the rural wisdom of Sarah Palin?),where the ignorance of the base chose a leader that could finally push us over a cliff. We are approaching a critical turning point in the history of our world, conservatism has run its course and almost destroyed us, and we have a moron for President. I don’t think we can wait four years. If Trump continues his “fire and fury” (remember how well shock and awe worked out?) rhetoric, we may not have to worry about global warming as the aftermath of a nuclear war could be much worse. But if we somehow get through this, will we have learned our lesson? Or will we go looking for the next easy answer and not doing the hard things that make life and our country great? I am not optimistic after watching the last 50 years.

America really does have some amazingly hard working and smart individuals and we could solve these problems if we had a leader that made Americans aware of their failures and showed us a path forward.  Even the mindless base of Donald Trump might be led out of the wilderness of ignorance if they understood the challenges before us and a leader who inspires sacrifice.  But where is he/she?  Right now the one we got thinks the solution to jobs is to bring back coal which is never coming back and backed up by a pack or sience and reality deniers.  Hey! Bring on the fire and fury! All we need is a leader who can one again inspire us with, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and get on with it.  So far we got the moron President and his scared shitless Party.

Monday Morning

I drove my son to the airport at o’dark thirty this morning. It is about a 65 mile drive each way and we left my place at 4:20 am for a 6:30 flight to San Diego. Nothing is ever simple. It turns out that they are doing major work on the bridge that crosses the Sacramento River so we were warned of massive traffic backups. So we were seeing how close you can get to our normal turnoff (I-5) before you get caught in traffic and running alternate routes through our heads. It actually wasn’t that bad and we were able to stay the normal route with little delay, sort of. Then about 2 miles from the Airport, stop and go traffic on a real straight stretch of I-5 and sure enough some kind of spin out and major crash. All I could think of is how do they do it? It is straight, there are no on or off ramps, and they run into each other. Made it to the airport on time so no problem there, but on the return trip I noticed that we got through the construction just in time as there were major backups. Do we drive anywhere anymore that does not have some kind of delay/construction?

Okay on to news of the day. All the talk is about sanctions on North Korea that were worked out in a conference in the Philippines with all the South East Asia nations and us of course. I hope it works because the alternative is very frightening. It really is the only way to go at this time, but I have little optimism. The big assumption here is that North Korea wants more than anything else to stay in power and they will see that to do this they will be willing to give up their nuke program. The thinking is that China wants to maintain North Korea as a southern buffer to USA aligned South Korea, and China has no interest in seeing North Korea fail because there would be a massive refugee problem as North Koreans have a chance to flee their living hell.

I don’t think this logic holds because North Korea is first and foremost an abomination as a country. There is no way for the North Koreans to continue to hold power without the extreme dictatorship and threat from the wicked United States. The assumption that this mentality is rational, I believe, is flawed. Or maybe it is rational. The only way they can stay in power is to hold on to their nukes and continue to stoke the fears of invasion. If things got materially better there, would not the improved economic situation drive change that would be antithetical to the North Koreans holding power? The calculation has to be what can prevent a war until the North Korean regime collapses under its own weight hoping they don’t decide to take Southeast Asia with them. Then there is the dubious calculation that we will empower this brutal dictatorship to remain as long as there is no nuclear threat. I think North Korea sees through this one.

Paul Krugman has an interesting discussion about where Democrats should go on healthcare and I think he is dead on. If you followed my discussions before, to reduce the cost of healthcare for all of us, we have to share the costs with the widest possible pool (universal coverage) and ensure that the plans we have cover most of our needs (regulated market). Now how you get there is the issue (and not counter to what Republicans are pushing which is “choice and deregulated markets” which the CBO scores again and again as a failure). So is single payer the answer? The answer is maybe, but he points out that other countries get there by everything from Obamacare expanded to Government healthcare:

Look at the latest report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, comparing health care performance among advanced nations. America is at the bottom; the top three performers are Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands. And the thing is, these three leaders have very different systems.

 

Britain has true socialized medicine: The government provides health care directly through the National Health Service. Australia has a single-payer system, basically Medicare for All — it’s even called Medicare. But the Dutch have what we might call Obamacare done right: individuals are required to buy coverage from regulated private insurers, with subsidies to help them afford the premiums.

 

And the Dutch system works, which suggests that a lot could be accomplished via incremental improvements in the A.C.A., rather than radical change. Further evidence for this view is how relatively well Obamacare, imperfect as it is, already works in states that try to make it work — did you know that only 5.4 percent of New Yorkers are now uninsured?

So he then argues that give the systems in place, instead of focusing on single payer, we improve Obamacare with maybe a single payer option as politically and functionally the best way forward. I have to agree. I have argued for single payer forever, but I am not ideologically wedded to it and neither are most Democrats although that is how they are painted. What we want is universal coverage and the best way forward to do that. That is the real debate and I think Krugman nailed it.

Finally, I think what is worth noting this morning is how the Trump administration is trying to open up public lands in the West to coal mining. Now aside from the argument that coal used in anything destroys the planet with its CO2 emissions and the damage done to the environment itself in the mining, the question has to be, who wants the coal when there are cheaper cleaner fuels? Also one might ask, what jobs when coal mining in general is going to more and more mechanization. But the real point here is that there is not a shortage of coal based up demand and so this is an attempt to say, if we supply it they will buy it. I think we have already seen this fail over and over again. There has to be pentup demand. So this, besides destroying the environment and contributing to the overheating of the planet will be another experiment like Kansas (tax cuts will pay for themselves) where we will see the failure of Republican ideas. As Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again. Time to move on.

Shooting in Washington, Julius Caesar, North Korea, and Little Jeffy Sessions

I am not surprised.  Sadly sooner or later someone was going to go postal as the Republican Party did their damage to lives and our country.  Of course it will just make the situation worse, and like all or at least most Americans, hope no one was seriously hurt.  This is how one loses a democracy because as bad as I and others think Republicans are, violence just begets violence.  One of the representatives at the GOP softball practice that was not shot, who, according to reports, was helping the wounded said this:

“My adrenaline is raging. It’s not easy to take when you see people around you being shot and you don’t have a weapon yourself.”

Softball uniforms with guns.  Perfect.  They will never see the connection between their hard hearted policies and more guns for an answer to everything. We still don’t know who the shooter was or what was his motive so all of this is just supposition.  But the irony here is ripe.  If it is a disgruntled constituent, it was not the Democrats who were pushing violence and 2nd amendment solutions to take back their country.  We will certainly get the both sides do it argument again, but after this election, that is hard to justify.  

All of this again plays into the ongoing brouhaha about Julius Caesar in the park:

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America drew headlines this week for pulling their support from New York’s Public Theater in response to criticism about its production of “Julius Caesar,” in which the titular character — made up to look like Mr. Trump — is assassinated.

Apparently most people only got the scene where they killed Caesar, not how it destroy the democracy they were trying to save, and let slip the dogs of war.  It is a warning tale not a prescription.  Oh, and whether you remember or not, a few years ago they had an Obama like character play Julius.  Where was the false outrage then?  It is just a dramatic ploy to try to make the play more contemporary for those who can’t draw the obvious lines.  Also clearly as even Ross Douthat noted:

The theater goers who show up to watch a Shakespeare play in Central Park are — I hope — not high on the Secret Service’s watch list. And the play’s tragic arc does not exactly make tyrannicide look like the wisest of strategies…

Enough said.  It is nice to know that companies like Delta and BofA are looking out for our best interests by dumbing us down.  Let’s talk North Korea.  Again it is truly sad about young Otto Warmbeir, but, and a big but, what was he thinking going to North Korea.  I spent some of my young life flying reconnaissance along the DMZ and I was well versed in just who they were.  Otto learned the hard way.  I cringe when I see his sobbing plea for leniency which of course they will not grant.  One, if one could, should spit in their eye and die quickly rather than be used as a pawn in their games. At least that was my thinking back in the day. I cannot recommend The Orphan Masters Son enough.  It is fiction and a fantasy, but captures the inhumanity and insanity perfectly.

Finally, just some  thoughts about Little Jeffy Sessions.  Little because of stature and heart, he is very little.  I think Frank Bruni caught it perfectly when he said:

But as I watched him, a flustered Gump in the headlights, I saw a broader story, a dark parable of bets misplaced and souls under siege. This is what happens when you draw too close to Trump.

You’re diminished at best, mortified at worst. You’ve either done work dirtier than you meant to or told fibs bigger than you ought to or been sullied by contact or been thrown to the wolves.

One day, you’re riding high on the myth of Trump as a transformative figure and reasoning that some tweaking of norms and maybe even breaking of rules are an inevitable part of the unconventional equation.

The next, you’re ensnared in his recklessness, at the mercy of his tempestuousness and quite possibly the butt of his rage…

And we as a nation, thanks to those who did not vote, voted third party, or were stupid enough to believe his lies, are also diminished at best.  When will this nightmare ever end?

Festering

When we ignore our issues, they always come back to bite up. In fantasy television (Arrow, Flash, Blacklist, Blindspot) they are always keeping secrets which is most of the plot and you just want to scream, “JUST TELL THEM or JUST DEAL WITH IT!”  I can think of many shows that don’t need this nonsense to give us good drama, like Madam Secretary, Elementary, or for that matter Victoria on PBS.  Oh, and Dr. Who (yes it’s back) doesn’t either.  It gets rather tiresome as a plot device and in real life it can be disastrous.  There is also the tendency at least of Flash and Arrow to jump into the fray without a plan, and it never works out well. There is a lesson here too.

Enter North Korea:

State media in North Korea on Thursday warned the U.S. of a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” following remarks from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in which he said the U.S. was looking for ways to increase pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear program. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly threatened the U.S.—and hit back at admonitions from China and the UN Security Council over its missile tests. “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” said the Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper run by the North Korean Workers’ Party. Tillerson said Wednesday, “We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held.”

I have noted before that the Trump administration is truly scary in dealing with this situation*, but in truth, there is no easy answer and the problem is because we have let it fester without resolving it for over 50 years.  Now it may in intractable.  Nicholas Kristof tells us this morning:

Concern about the North Korean response is what prevented Richard Nixon from a military strike in 1969 when the North shot down a U.S. plane, killing all 31 Americans on board. And it’s what has prevented presidents since from striking North Korea as it has crossed one red line after another, from counterfeiting U.S. hundred-dollar bills to expanding its nuclear program.

And every year we wait, the damage gets more and more extensive if we move.  We kept hoping he/they would collapse on their own, and with China’s help they won’t.  Make no mistake.  Korea is a living hell of mind control and propaganda.  Their people are starving and routinely die or get sent to labor camps.  Adam Johnson wrote a defining novel (mostly fantasy), The Orphan Master’s Son, but the backdrop is real) that would wake you up to what they have created.  He has been criticized for being too dark and exaggerating and I don’t think so.  I used to fly reconnaissance on the DMZ and immersed myself in North Korea.  I think he nailed it.

So the point here is really fairly simple.  There are good reasons we did not win the Korean War, the main one is that we did not want to fight a full-blown war with China.  And China has been central to us not taken military action since then.  China is terrified of the rush across the borders if North Korea ever collapsed.  They all want out and if there is an opening, they will take it.  Now we face catastrophic blow back for a military strike on North Korea, and it will only get worse.

We keep hoping he will fail and we fail to recognize that his fear of failing is what keeps North Korea going.  We, the world should have taken action a long time ago on a country as immoral and inhuman as North Korea.  We did not and now we face an uncertain future with even fewer choices and those could be much more costly.  Hard decisions are hard.  Not making them may turn out to be far more damaging than facing the blow back when you could have.  Isn’t that something all our mothers used to tell us.  Own up to your problem now because it will only get worse?  Well here we are at worse.

*Oh, and if you are wondering what our Dear Leader is worrying about this morning, it is the attack on dairy farmers by Canada.  No, I am not kidding.  “Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers, it’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “Farmers in Wisconsin and New York state are being put out of business.” How is it the most powerful and wealthy nations on earth is always a victim? Really Candada? Eh?

Compromise, Eqivocating, and All That Jazz

What Me Worry?

Trump took two major national security decisions in the past few weeks. One was to strike Syria for using poison gas. Trump summoned his national security team, asked for options on Syria, chose the cruise-missile strike — which was right — and won praise for acting “presidential.”

The other decision you didn’t see. It was Trump dismantling budgets and regulations undergirding U.S. climate and environmental protection policies — in his nutty effort to revive U.S. coal-fired energy — while quietly announcing plans to withhold a promised $32.5 million U.S. contribution for the U.N. Population Fund, which supports family planning and maternal health.

Unlike the Syria decision, Trump made the second move without seeking a comprehensive briefing from experts — he controls the world’s greatest collection of climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, the E.P.A., the Pentagon and the C.I.A. — and without ever asking for an intelligence briefing on how the combination of climate change, environmental degradation, drought and population explosions helped trigger the civil war in Syria, spawn terrorist groups like Boko Haram around Africa’s central Lake Chad (which has lost 90 percent of its water mass since 1963) and become the main force pushing tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into Europe each year, and from Central America up to the U.S.


I promise you that Trump will spend the rest of his presidency dealing with the disruptions caused by this cocktail of population explosion and climate/environmental degradation — and his generals know it. But in today’s politics, bombing is considered presidential and ignoring science and defunding family planning, when populations are exploding and droughts expanding, are ho-hum back-page news.  Thomas Friedman

So lobbing bombs with no real strategic policy is presidential and being an idiot on science and not making the hard choices about our future is just ignored? Yep that is it.  People, even media types don’t like complexity.  It is why the North Korean problem is being played as the bully in the school yard. You just have to stand up to him.  Right?

It is an amazing world we live in today where rational thought just seems to have drifted away. I watched the Senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst give a town hall meeting where she was challenged head on with questions like how she can support a man who treats women so poorly and watched her equivocate away. While she finds some of his behavior “wrong”, she supports his conservative ideas, except of course the Wall and his stand on NAFTA because Iowa needs to export corn to Mexico.  What is it in her little conservative brain that says it’s okay to legitimize Cheeto-Head with her support even though many of his policies will hurt Iowans?

Meanwhile in the White House the President calls Turkey’s President to congratulate him on…?  He had just passed a referendum to turn the democracy into a dictatorship.  Did the Trump White House even know this?  Speaking of did they know anything, where oh where is the “armada” sailing to North Korea?  Involved in a training exercise in Australia.  We either got a lie or total obliviousness from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security advisor.  Oh and let’s not forget their puppet, Sean Spicer.  Is it incompetence or is it,,,?

In media land I listened to Kate Snow, who wants to be everybody’s friend, not respond to an outrageous claim by a Republican spinner about how Republican Congressmen where being challenge about Cheeto-Head’s taxes in town hall meetings and it was just stupid because there was nothing they could do.  Really Kate?  You believe that garbage?  There was a bill in the House to make all Presidents show their tax returns and it got nowhere because Republicans were not going to have it.  Do you even know what is going on in the world?  Maybe there will be a place for you at the White House after Spicer self-destructs.

Then there is always those appeals for compromise.  Why can’t the two sides just work together?  Well take global warming.  If one side doesn’t believe it exists, there is no problem, ergo, no need for a fix.  Take health care.  One side doesn’t believe government has any place in providing health care and the other thinks universal health care is a right.  Obamacare was the great compromise.  Now what?  How do you compromise with dismantling it?  Take tax cuts.  There was the perfect mindless op-ed in the NYT about how Republicans just need to keep it simple* and reduce the corporate rate down to 15%.  Anybody know what the Fortune 500 actually pay in taxes?  No where near as high as 15%.  But they go on and on based on the belief that if the rich had more money, we would all benefit.  Corporate profits are greater now than they have ever been and do you see jobs? So where would you compromise on that one?

Does anybody have their brain engaged anymore?  We have an incompetent and ignorant White House.  We have a President who has the vocabulary of a 4th grader (probably because he does not read). We have a Republican controlled Congress that is pushing policies that further enable the rich and fail miserably for the rest of us.  We have a media that ignores facts and pretends this is all just partisan differences.  And the Holy Grail is compromise?  WTF?  We are with Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole and we are pretending up is down and down is up.  I simply can’t watch it anymore.

*You really ought to read the op-ed and the comments.  You know who you are dealing with when they make this statement:

One sure lesson from the health care setback is the old admonition “Keep it simple, stupid.” The Republicans tried to fix the trillion-dollar health insurance market instead of keeping the focus on repealing Obamacare.

Okay, you get it.  The people who wrote this don’t give a damn about all the people who would die once they lost Obamacare.  They also don’t care about jobs because if they did they would know that corporations are not creating them.