Wednesday, December 26, 2018

And So 2018 Ends, Finally

And so the year drags on into oblivion. Another big stinker in the years that Trump ruins.
Being of sound mind, but an aging body, I am inclined to keep hoping for sanity to return to America. But two things keep getting in the way: Trump and Fox News. Fox News: since I don’t watch Fox News, except through the lens of a comedian, one might imagine that Fox has no effect on me. But, because Fox is watched by millions of Americans, most of whom still support Donald Trump, that affects me.

Because I am old, I have managed to survive through decades of traumatic events. Think:
The Great Depression: It began with that crash of the stock market in 1929, well before I was even a passing thought in Daisy’s mind. But its effects lingered so long and so wide that it ruined many in our family, who lost most of their limited money during the 1930’s.

World War II: yes, I was alive during all of that awful war, although I was barely aware as a human. I was 7 when the war began and 11 when it ended, old enough to remember life and events during that time.

The Cold War: well the shooting had largely stopped, but not the antagonisms, which continued to grow during that post-war period. It was almost as though the world powers could not stand peace, and had to act just this side of another suicidal war.  So, despite “peace”, world tensions continued to grow, along with the rhetoric of war.

Korea: Well, I guess we had to start shooting somewhere. This was perhaps the first of so many proxy wars. And what is a proxy war? Well, instead of shooting and bombing your enemies directly, you make believe by instead shooting and bombing people in another land, pretending to be shooting and bombing your enemies directly. It’s slightly less dangerous, unless you live in one of those “proxy countries”. Korea was one of the proxy countries. And we shot up the place pretty vigorously, until we decided to just call it off for a while.

Vietnam: we had relatively minor skirmishes until about 1968. We had been fooling around a lot in places like Eastern Europe . . . remember that Berlin Wall thing in 1949?? But largely, the guns remained silent, until . . . until what?  Well, that Cold War might have remained relatively quiet on the guns blazing thing, but the competition to gobble up space and allies never even remotely ceased. The “West” (us) and the “East” (Russia and China) spread their respective wings by forging “allies” (countries who thought like them, or countries that could be purchased through gun diplomacy).  Throughout Asia, the competition was especially intense, with China routinely flexing its muscles, supported vaguely by Russia. And, so first Korea, and then Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam, Cambodia, et, al.   And so, after JFK had been shot and killed by an idiot armed and stupid, LBJ had to take over the reins. And then that incident. Was one of our warships stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin attacked, or did we just fake that attack? Who knows? It seemed not to matter, because it was the designated trigger.  Now, to be fair, we had been supporting South Vietnam since at least 1954, with Eisenhower’s full support in his zeal to fight the good fight in that Cold War.  But we hadn’t done much in the way of actual shooting. Then the Gulf event, and lo and behold, the guns came out blazing. I assume that LBJ thought, or was persuaded by his generals that the shooting would cease as soon we demonstrated how big and powerful we were.  Wow, were they wrong. So, the shooting began, big time, and did not quit, despite massive bombing of the north, and even bombing into neighboring countries, until we decided to just quit in disgust. Johnson had decided not to run in 1972, and Tricky Dick Nixon swept into power, along with his republican BFFs.  And Tricky Dick also thought he could win by muscle flexing.  Alas, he was as wrong as Johnson, and so, Nixon just quit and walked away—March 29, 1973 I believe.  Many now classify that even as the first time the US was actually defeated in a war.  We called it an “armistice”, like the ending of WW I. But we simply failed to gain victory, and our guns were pulled out of the conflict.

The Middle East Mess: When did that mess begin? Well, some might say it has always been a mess. For hundreds of years, the mess was contained by one or more dictatorial regimes, mostly kings. Afghanistan is a great example. That country has always been controlled by kings, or “warlords”. The Brits, after “invading” India sometime in the 1600’s, first under the guise of the East India Trading Company and then via proper military rule during the 1700s and 1800s, decided to “subdue” the surrounding countrysides—Burma, Afghanistan. They periodically sent forth armed missions. They worked at it for a while but then gave up in the mid-1840s.  Then, the Russians decided they would like to own Afghanistan, if for no other reason than to sit atop part of the olde British Empire.  So, during the late 1970s, they invaded Afghanistan.  The Brits and the Americans began resisting, even to arming and creating the Taliban, but mainly the locals resisted and a full scale armed resistance began fighting the Russians (Soviets actually), creating the Russian Vietnam War, with similar results. Finally, after almost ten years, and chaos throughout the Soviet Union, the Russians quit, as we had done in Vietnam, leaving an even bigger mess in Afghanistan than before they began.  Now, 1979 also revealed the mess in Iran, with the overthrow of the Shah (our BFF) by the religious tyrant, the Ayatollah Khomeini. Poor Jimmy Carter, tried to overcome, but Saint Ronald of Reagan began working his magic backstage in Iran, and arranged a trade of hostages for super arms. Ronnie never minded doing bidness with tyrants. Turns out it’s a republican thing—see Donald Trump. So, the mess continued throughout the Middle East, with tyrannical regimes taking hold, lots of fighting, and just an ongoing, very bloody mess.

And then 9/11—with the bombing of American cities by Saudi’s residing in Afghanistan. And that really set off the shooting throughout the Middle East, from Afghanistan all the way into the proper Middle East. The Saudi’s, of course, kept on their white gloves throughout—turns out we liked their oil too much, so we tolerated the gross hypocrisy of the Saudi kings.  And then we elected one of our dumber presidents, Bush junior, aka Shrub. Since Daddy had failed in his quest to take over Iraq (actually he succeeded by kicking Sadaam in the ass, but junior didn’t understand that).  So, junior decided to go Daddy one step beyond, and actually invaded Iraq, thereby setting off the entire Middle East mess, that continues to this day. The Taliban grew, ISIS began, and the Middle East simply fell apart into a killing field that continues to this day. And President Stupidhead’s decision to retreat in Iraq, by removing all troops is just another in a long line of presidential stupidities about the Middle East.

But even given all these traumatic messes, for the most part we have had presidential leadership that was at least sane. Yes, I disagreed with many of our presidents, specifically, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush junior. But not all the time, about everything.  I even worked for a time under Reagan, and found him exhausting. But again, not all the time every day, every minute.  With Trump, he exhausts me daily. Every time I read about him, or listen to him, I am exhausted with the sheer stupidity of his utterances.  He cannot write, I understand that. So, his moronic tweets are his only method of pseudo-written communication. In his tweets, he reveals daily that he does not think and cannot write.  I shudder in anticipation every time he approaches any subject of domestic or, god forbid, global significance.  He is utterly exhausting, and he kills any sense that sanity might some day return to the United States.

Fox News, by acting as his amplifier, simply exacerbates the basic problem of a President who is perpetually out of control and who cannot think beyond his penis, or perhaps his empty stomach.  But I am growing to understand that the daily insanity is his world. It surrounds him and has for his entire life. Why/how anyone could tolerate him at work or in his private family life is beyond me. It is clear why he is on wife #3, and why he has destroyed that third relationship. It is clear why he has destroyed multiple businesses, and that he engages routinely in scams—see Trump University. But really, almost everything he touches turns into a scam of some kind.

But, even given Fox’s role in perpetuating his crooked image, and forcing him onto the world of otherwise sane people, I confess to not understanding most of his supporters. When he said, way back when, that he could walk out onto 5th Avenue, pull out a gun and shoot someone, and his support numbers would go up, I now believe him, but without any understanding of why that should be. That is what troubles me. Why would his numbers go up? And how does he manage to remain at 38% approval? What in heavens name does he give his supporters?  He’s a scam, way worse than Bernie Madoff. His tariffs are destroying any sanity in the world of economics, and he continues to walk away from our global responsibilities.  His border wall thing is the stuff of childhood tantrums, bearing no relationship to anything real. Even if you are a racist, you surely could not believe in the Wall.

That’s what drives me nuts. People, grown Americans, still support him. That seems nuts to me. I understand that most of his supporters are racist, but surely even they could not be getting enough of his daily stupidities to still support him.

And finally, I am drawn to the awful prospect that his supporters love him because they are like him—racist, unthinking, uncaring, bitter people who just want to blow things up. They don’t want our country to return to sanity and a civil course of national actions. They like hating “the other”. And they especially hate the “elites” (anyone not like them).  So, they will continue forever following him until he actually manages to destroy everything.  And then they will laugh, just before they die.

And that thought depresses me, as I enter my 46th 39th year of existence. How could this be? I don’t know Richard, but it is. And so, I have to continue to hope that the rest, the young, the restless, the thoughtful, may re-enter public life. And that sanity might someday to return and the Trumpies will go back into our collective national closets, from whence they came.  And how will this happen? Well, voting in massive numbers comes to mind. Voting in such large numbers that even threats of voter fraud from the republicans cannot quiet the vote. And even idiots in our courts like Kavanaugh, cannot withstand the logic and the fervor of America, as it seeks to return to an honest, caring civil society. So, that is my hope for America, for 2019 and beyond. Even if I don’t make it out there, that we will continue as a Nation of mostly honest people, and we will return to the world from whence we ran away. So, be kind 2019. We must prepare ourselves to reclaim our destiny.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Poppy Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush.  A one-time president who followed arguably the worst president (at the time) in modern times, St. Ronald of Reagan. I know, I know, republicans revere St. Ronnie, but republicans seem to revere anyone who promises to open the coffers of America to them.  And Ronnie knew how to open those coffers. He produced perhaps the largest deficits of our time simply by following the “Laffer Curve”, that pseudo-economic theory arguing that, if one reduces overall tax rates, overall tax revenues will rise. See, that’s why it was called the “Laffer (or Laugher)” curve. Now, to be fair, we don’t know what Poppy Bush had to do with all that Ronnie economics drivel. He never had much of a chance to demonstrate his understanding of anything real while St. Ronald of Reagan was in the catbird seat.

But Poppy did seem a portrait of sense and sensibility after 8 years of the idiot president (now, be fair, Richard. Reagan was a model of intellectual brilliance when compared with our current idiot-malenfant, Comrade Trump).

But Poppy Bush seemed at the least a thoroughly honorable man.  He served his country honorably during war time, and he seemed at the least a decent man who tried to do right by his fellow countrymen.  His legacy in the mess that is called the Middle East is at least reasonable, especially when compared with his idiot son.  He at least tried to build an international coalition, unlike Junior.  
He also raised taxes, something considered heresy after Reagan, but he was actually trying to be responsible.

He is criticized a lot for indifference during the building AIDs crisis. But Reagan was actually Mr. Indifference. Reagan did nothing during the building AIDS crisis (he was too busy increasing the Nation’s public debt), whereas Poppy Bush passed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, which, while not an AIDS bill, nonetheless enabled assistance to people with AIDS. He also, on the heels of the Exxon-Valdez catastrophe, passed into law the Clean Air Act, building on public awareness of the risks to the environment from pollution.

Although he was a reasonable president, especially when compared with his predecessor St. Ronald, he was unable to build a constituency that could keep him in office and he succumbed to the Clinton charm act.  But when we examine our current status, as the joke of the universe, George H.W. Bush seems a paragon of virtue.  Actually, almost any of our preceding presidents do also. But even by comparison with his idiot son, Poppy looks pretty good.

Our standards have changed, perhaps forever. However much we might yearn for presidents in our past (oh, Barack Obama, where are you when we most need you?) we need to get on with the work at hand. And what is that work you might ask? Well, mainly, I see our main job as Americans, as limiting the long term damage done by our incompetent, dishonest, corrupt . . . oh you know—Trump.  I don’t even see impeachment as being part of that game. I think we need to let it all play out. First of all, if we impeach Trump, successfully, we get Pence. And how would that be better? Pence is even more of an idiot than Trump.  His religion so gets in the way that there is perhaps no way to even figure out if Pence is halfway intelligent.  So, no, I do not want Pence as the replacement president. I want us to suffer under Trump for two more years and then to see him voted out of office by a large vote margin. He will scream voter fraud, but he will be wrong as he is about almost all of the issues facing our country.  If the people vote to retain him in office, then I have no further hope for this Nation. We will be officially at an end.

But I do not anticipate such an outrageous election result. No, I imagine that reason will prevail and we will vote into office someone else, perhaps this time a woman of some decent intellect and moral character. Perhaps Kirsten Gillibrand, but perhaps someone else. We don’t know yet. But we must choose and choose wisely, because our nation is on borrowed time. We cannot afford another gigantic mistake like Trump. We simply no longer have the financial or emotional resources left. It is time, folks. Think, and think hard about whether we wish to see our nation continue.