Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things keep getting more distressing

So as London recovers from yet another terrorist attack, the flames of anti-Islamic fervor are being stoked again by a culpable media.  Repeated air strikes though by a combination of US-led forces and Russian forces against ISIS has done little to quell terrorism in the West.  Despite the lack of of success of eliminating, or at least reducing, the threat from radical Muslim terrorists the latest attack in London is sure to have the hawks ready for more blood.

The terrorist attack in London comes amidst the go ahead for Brexit, along the French getting ready to elect a new president (and for now it still looks like it will be Le Pen) and an increasingly tumultuous White House administration.  The attack will give even more ammunition towards the isolationist tendencies of the three nations.

But even if terrorism is no longer the incentive du jour, Mr. Trump continues to agitate North Korea, China and Iran. 

North Korea threatens US with "Merciless Attacks"

US Bomber warned by Chinese officials

US Carrier on station in Persian Gulf, first time in 3 months!

Unlike the Global War on Terror, which is dragging nearly into its second decade, these nations not possess conventional militaries but in the case of North Korea and China, nuclear weapons as well!   

Mr. Trump in particular but many of his advisors in general seem to be hellbent on showing their strength by attacking some foreign power.  Compounding this pugilistic attitude is the defection of pretty much all of the senior and middle level diplomats at the State Department upon the election of Mr. Trump.  The current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has no former experience as a diplomat.  He has been remarkably silent on matters and seems to be content with allowing Mr. Trump to set the tone of international affairs via the President's Twitter account.

Even as a young officer during the Reagan build-up, it never felt like we were as close to a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union as we do now with either North Korea or China.  It does not seem the White House is going to settle down any time soon and Trump haters are becoming more desperate each day (not to mention their numbers are increasing).  At this point, if we can make it through the summer without starting a war with someone, that may be the most we can hope for.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Big Bird, School Lunches and Foal Eagle

The Donald, aka President Trump, is not even 100 days into his Presidency and it has been wholly unwatchable.  The Trump Administration has self-inflicted multiple wounds to itself and seems unable to successfully vet candidates.

Yesterday Mr. Trump decided to slay Big Bird (PBS), Lake Wobegone (NPR), the California Zephyr (AMTRAK), Meals on Wheels, and school lunches all in one mighty swoop!  The collective swooning of the left was nearly matched by the head-shaking and second guessing of the more moderate right who are beginning to question whether the new President is ever slowed down by thought.

Mr. Trump is keeping good to his campaign promise of reforming government but now even some of his fans are beginning to wonder what exactly that is going to look like once he gets done.  He is incasing spending on the military (+10%) and the VA (+6%) as well as DHS (for building the wall, now at taxpayer expense instead of Mexico's).

The US seems to be transforming under Mr. Trump into an isolationist, fortified nation with a large military.  The obvious question is after years of globalization, can the US really survive as a continent on to itself?

Whilst the mainstream media continues to publish every salacious detail of the Trump Administration's faults, the public remains largely in the dark on several items that should gravely concern all of us.

Foal Eagle is an annual FTX (field exercise, as opposed to table top or command post exercise) conducting between US and South Korean forces.  This year, in addition to the normal rotation of troops and equipment into South Korea, Mr. Trump has added drones, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), as well as a huge increase in Special Forces.  Some have conjectured that this may be in preparation for taking out Kim Jun Un (other kidnapping or assassinating).  These same fringe strategist feel this may be so Mr. Trump can prove just how tough he is.

What makes this a little more believable is Mr. Trump's statement that he may just go ahead and blow up the Russian spy ship that has been patrolling the eastern seaboard for the last few weeks!  It isn't that the Russian ship poses a threat, in fact the US Navy has publicly stated that the spy ship is unable to detect any information about US submarine operations.  So why does Mr. Trump want to blow it up?  To prove he isn't weak!

Going back to Korea, if Mr. Trump tries some heavy-handed overthrow of the North Korean government (and assuming is doesn't result in North Korea launching a nuclear counter-attack), we are left with two big questions.  One, what does China do?  Two, what does Russia do?

By all means, be pissed off about the demise of public broadcasting or sloop joe's but don't lose sight of the fact something far worse may be right around the corner.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

More invasive TSA searches

TSA announces a more invasive, process to streamline pat-downs http://dailym.ai/2mCzsIM via http://dailym.ai/android

So TSA still is only looking in one direction...what happens when a terrorist group decides to attack the airport instead of the airplane?  Just a few months ago, someone ran amok in an airport brandishing a machete.  TSA has no impact on this atrack.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Fake News

A legacy of the "Trump era" will certainly be the introduction of the term "fake news".  It is amazing how both liberals and conservatives think they own the term whenever the disagree with the other side. Liberals for some reason seem to be particularly taken with the notion that only they can discern which news sources can be trusted (which unequivocally means liberals news sites).  But as anyone who has ever studied propaganda, stage magic, behavioral psychology, or even marketing can tell you is the best techniques are the ones that make people think one thing is happening, while doing something else happens.

The invention of "fake news" is a brilliant ploy.  It greats both the belief that the "other guy" is at fault and keeps doubting everything that they read.  It's so perfect that it is frightening.

Just this morning, Kellyanne Conway is making news for referencing a massacre at Bowling Green as justification for the Trump travel ban….except of course no such massacre happened.  So did Ms. Conway make a mistake (thereby causing the liberal left to have further proof of the duplicity of the Trump administration) or was she planting a subliminal thought of a fictional event to create even more cognitive dissonance amongst the masses?

Part of this might be to keep our attention diverted from the build-up by both US and Russian troops throughout Europe.  The significance of these moves get lost in the noise generated by the heavy-handed and obtuse moves by the Trump administration, which in-turn have energized the liberal left to protest nearly every announcement out of the White House these days.  In-turn, the conservative right feels vindicated in their condemnation of all things liberal.  It is a perfect storm that is both self-sustaining and shows no signs of abating.

What should be concern for everyone is the loss of the middle ground.  Calling someone "deplorable" or "progressive" in no way convinces the person being labelled to reconsider their opinion.  The Million Woman March pandered only to a very narrow segment of American women, while completely ignoring all men.  If liberals want to start a revolution, they will have to first start by converting those who don't agree with them.  Conservatives need to abandon their victory dances and realize their neighbors, friends and maybe even relatives are very frightened by what just happened.  Keeping both sides polarized and not talking is NOT in the best interest of the American public.

Keeping liberals and conservatives divided allows things to go on without notice or consensus.  The travel ban happened with no discussion and immediately liberals went to social media to decry the decision.  In turn, conservatives criticized liberals.  No one really was looking at what the ban was (a legacy of the Obama administration) used to target Iran.  What makes me say that?

Today it was announced by the White House has placed new sanctions against Iran for testing ballistic missiles.  The issue is very messy as the wording of the UN treaty does not specifically prohibit missile testing, it is more of an encouragement not to.  Regardless, Mr. Trump has jumped on this to ramp up the rhetoric with Iran.  Given the lack of direct communications between Washington and Tehran, this is very alarming and could mean hostilities.

Of course, this could all be fake news as well to keep us from seeing something else such as China or North Korea.  The use of social media keeps everything moving so quickly that it is difficult to keep track and whenever you try, it is designed to exhaust you.

Rather than shut down, keep the dialog open with those who don't think like you.  You might just surprise each other.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A little perspective on 2016

Hillary fans and Trump Haters (which are not necessarily the same) are convinced 2016 is the worst year ever.  For the non-politically minded, the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, Ron Glass, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael and Bob Denver (to name a few of the celebrities who passed away this year), 2016 has also been the worse year ever.

But was 2016 nearly as bad as April 1945 was for Japan when the US dropped two atomic bombs killing 128,000 Japanese?  Or was it as bad as 1979 in Cambodia, the final year of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields which estimates are over 1 million executed Cambodians?  Or what about 1353, the final year of the Black Death which by then had seen the deaths of over 100-125 million?  Perspective is a mothefucker sometimes.

For all of Mr. Trumps shortfalls, are let's be honest he has many, since winning the election he seems to have calmed much of his anti-immigrant and anti-NATO rhetoric.  But fear not for Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry are spending their final days in office pissing of Israel and Russia.  For an administration that has prided itself on using diplomacy over force, the handling of the Israeli settlements (which Mr. Obama and company successfully ignored for the previous years) and the 35 Russian "spys" (which Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry knew about for years!) that were expelled seem particularly ham-fisted approaches.  It is telling that now Mr. Putin appears to be the elder statesman compared to Mr. Obama's rather petulant approach.

As I had been saying all year, 2016 is certainly one of the more interesting years of late but is is by no means deserving of all of the angst and tears (real as well as virtual) that I've seen being shed on social media.  Mr. Trump is the next President, no matter how much many don't want that to be.  Funny how these are the same people who were so angered and puzzled by Mr. Obama's critics and demanded that they (his critics) remember that he is their President.  Absolutely correct except guess what?  Now you all have to do the same thing for Mr. Trump.

Going into 2017, there is potential for the US and Russia to form a new relationship that hasn't been seen since WWII.  Old alliances and relationships may change or fall by the wayside as a result but that should deter the US from trying.  Thus far, Mr. Putin has stayed his hand even after a Russian ambassador was assassinated in Turkey, Russia was accused of hacking our elections, and even after 35 of his diplomats were sent back home.  Could all just be a ruse of course but let's take it a face value for now and try to forge something new and better in 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

37 Days Later

It has been 37 days since Donald Trump won the election and guess what?  We are still arguing about the results!  Hillary Clinton supporters, and Donald Trump haters which are not necessarily the same thing, have hit upon a new strategy….blame the Russians!  Mr. Obama and the White House are going along keeping everyone's tempers at full even though there are many questions that should be giving all some pause;

1.  As the Hillary fans and Trump haters point out, Hillary won the popular vote by 2.3 million!  Okay, so if the Russians were behind this why did Hillary win in the popular vote?

2.  The CIA is now convinced the Russians "hacked" the results!  Okay except why is the CIA the agency coming forward with this allegation?  The Department of Homeland Security had been charged with protecting our voting systems from just such outside meddling yet they have been remarkably quiet throughout this time.  Also, if the Russians did hack into our voting systems…exactly how did the CIA determine this?  If any agency has the expertise and equipment it would be the NSA, not the CIA, coming forward with proof.  Again, more crickets.

3.  The Russians hacked into our voting systems!  But why then aren't any state board of elections coming forward?  Even in backwards ass Ohio, where the county and NOT the state controls your right to vote, no county board of elections have been reporting incidents of hacking. Voting systems vary by county (in Ohio alone there are 88 counties).  Russia would have to be be able to hack each individual county, not just the state to insure the results were skewed towards Trump.  In so doing, would not the popular vote also have gone to Hillary?

 (Want to know why we have an electoral college?  Because only recently has technology caught up to where a national voting system could be possible.  Throughout most of the US history, ballots were paper and had to be hand-counted.  There was no possible to insure there would be no voting fraud with paper ballots so each state was responsible for establishing their voting system.  Based on their poll results, electors would then go to Washington and represent their state's results.)

4.  Russian was meddling in US affairs in retaliation against Hillary!  Putin maybe many things but he is not dumb-enough to do something that could easily be traced back to the Kremlin and give the US a legitimate reason to attack Russia!

5.  Vast right wing conspiracy!  In Michigan, voting fraud was discovered…to have been committed by Democratic voters voting for Hillary.

What we have here, to paraphrase my favorite character actor Strother Martin, is a failure of intellect.  Much like the movie "Inception", we are going through a story within a story wrapped up in an enigma.  Trump haters are so desperate to invalidate the results they are willing to suspend any rational analysis of the absence of facts and go chasing down the rabbit hole after Russians.  The White House has tacitly gone down the rabbit hole as well, barring Congress from receiving the CIA briefing until after Mr. Obama's approval.  Our favorite intellectual giants, celebrities, are all calling for electors to violate their own state's results and vote for a third part candidate.

The very people now willing to buy into the CIA unannounced findings are the very ones that were apoplectic just a few years ago about the CIA's findings of WMDs in Iraq that proved to be untrue.  Russia would suddenly have a far greater cyber ability than has ever been experienced in order to have pulled this off.  Why risk retaliation of war or an attack on its own elections if discovered?

No the evidence is too anecdotal to be believed.  Trump's victory is still so unimaginable to most that they would rather believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, or Russian hackers, than in the reality that their fellow Americans chose Mr. Trump over Hillary.  They forget that continuing to deny the results means future elections will constantly be subjected to this type of disbelief and then people will wonder why no one comes out to vote any more.