CNN is not exactly “fake news”, but…

cnnignoringalleppogasattack

When Trump and some of his supporters call media outlets like CNN “fake news”, establishmentarians love to snort in derision.  “Oh you Trump supporters.  You just hate facts.”  Neither Trump nor his supporters are known for their eloquence, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

The civil war in Syria has been raging since 2010, and it is absolutely crucial for us to understand it.  ISIS has emerged out of the civil war, and as I write this, a new group is emerging called Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, which includes the former Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front.  As this group seems to have some of the characteristics of Al Qaeda, and some of ISIS, it is a group that Americans should seriously be warned about.  Instead, CNN would rather devote most of their time to mocking Trump’s gaffs, or something as trivial as eating fried chicken with a knife and fork, and defending their wounded pride (ya know, from the Clinton loss despite expert predictions to the contrary) with more elitist arrogance.

CNN isn’t fake news because of fake facts.  It’s more an issue of relevance.  All mainstream media has done a poor job of informing the American public of what is going on in Syria.  As I’ve explained many times before, if Americans knew about these dangerous terrorist groups, and the fact that the Assad regime, for all their faults, are fighting AGAINST these terrorist groups, we wouldn’t even be considering regime change in Syria.  The only thing we’d be debating at this point is whether to help Assad, or just stay out of the way and let him take care of it.

But, ya know, Trump just says all those crazy things, and we just gotta report that.  And as a southerner, I take deep offense to Trump butchering that fried chicken with a knife and fork.  Pick it up with your hands, foo!

As Trump would say,

Sad!

Now, let me do CNN’s job for them.  The above briefly mentioned gas attack.  We aren’t yet sure who did it.  It may have been the Assad regime, as air craft were likely required.  But it very well could have been a rival terrorist group.  The area that was attacked is firmly held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.  So, the attack was on an area held by an Al Qaeda linked group, though this group has no present official ties to Al Qaeda.  It’s just another example of the kind of ruthless tactics that are used in this ongoing, brutal civil war.  If it was indeed by the Assad regime, we should remember that it was directed at a very dangerous terrorist group that is clearly hostile to the US.  But it should also be noted that the attack showed no regard for civilian lives.

There, CNN!  That’s how it’s done!

5 Things I don’t like about President Trump

Between Clinton and Trump, I supported Trump.  There are some things I love about Trump, especially his trade policies.  But while I shower praise on Trump for getting us out of TPP, and hopefully will for more excellent trade policies to follow, I want to go on record for where I think he is wrong.

  1. “Make Mexico Pay for it!” We are a sovereign nation, we have borders, and we have a right to enforce those borders.  But I don’t support antagonizing our neighbor Mexico in the process or trying to make a poor country pay for a $14 billion wall.  Furthermore, attempting to do so with tariffs in misplaced, not that I’m against tariffs.  But you aren’t making the Mexican government, or even necessarily Mexico pay for it with tariffs.  Tariffs are paid by exporters from Mexico to the US, some of whom are American, and others of varying nationality.
  2. Iran The truth is that Iran has been fighting ISIS more effectively than our own government.  We should be competing with Iran to fight terrorists even more effectively, rather than antagonizing them just because they are an Islamic Republic.  That’s also the problem with this whole “radical Islam” thing.  Muslims can be “radical”, without being terrorists.  What has Iran actually done to US since 1979 other than words?
  3. Torture Trump made an excellent choice of Gen. Mattis for Sec. of Defense, and I wish he’d take his advice on this.  Torture via “waterboarding” was used throughout much of the Bush administration and there is no evidence that any useful information was gathered that way.  It isn’t even a question of whether or not terrorists deserve it, it’s just ineffective.  The information gathered this way is very unreliable and can send us on a wild goose chase!  Fortunately, Trump is at least going to let Mattis use his methods while he is Sec. of Defense, so there is unlikely to be any torture for the time being.
  4. Restricting Scientists from revealing their research EPA Scientists funded by the government will have to have their research approved by Trump’s bureaucrats before it can be published, and the USDA is facing similar hurdles.  This is a horrible affront to academic freedom!  As an academic myself, I highly value and know the importance of academic freedom in promoting new ideas and studies that can change the way we think of the world.  I will agree that academic freedom is already impeded by much of the political left, and they are clearly pushing an alarmist agenda on “global warming theory”, but they should be countered with legitimate research to the contrary, not suppression.  (For the record, I myself am agnostic on the extent of global warming caused by human activity.)
  5. Trump’s disregard for racial injustice in the criminal justice system I saved the most important for last.  Trump has a very long history of always, without question, siding with the police.  I respect our many good police officers who put their lives on the line for our safety, but justice should be color blind, to black and blue alike.  There is significant evidence of racial injustice that needs to be addressed.  It’s a difficult balancing act, because it is also unjust for certain crime ridden black communities to be neglected by police.  Sadly, you try to fix one problem and you can create another.  Reforming our criminal justice system in a way that addresses systemic racism while simultaneously ensuring that the police can effectively do their jobs is going to require the kind of nuance and thoughtfulness for which Trump is severely lacking.  I just hope that Trump makes some very wise appointments to address this issue and leaves it in their hands.

So there you have it!  Just because I love certain things about Trump doesn’t mean that I am a blind follower of his cult of personality.  I have mixed opinions of the temporary moratorium on refugees by the way, but don’t necessarily oppose it.  But in practice, I find myself constantly defending Trump on social media because of the cacophony of vicious attacks from the hypocritical center-left who seem to think their shit don’t stink…that shit being their last nominee for President.  You tried to shove Hillary Clinton down our throats when Bernie Sanders was right there!  Now, you have to deal with Trump!

Trump and Emotional Politics

TrumpYelling

Some are angry with Trump, others are angry at Trump.  Either way, Trump evokes lots of anger.  The anger at Trump is certainly justified.  Trump has claimed that Mexico sends its worst people into America, including rapists and drug dealers.  To be fair, he also said “…some, I assume, are good people.”  Trump’s views on Islam are far more disturbing.  He has called for shutting down mosques in the US, and banning Muslims from entering the country.  Some have tried to justify this by bringing up former President Carter’s temporary ban on Iranians during the hostage crisis.  It’s one thing to ban people from a particular country with whom we have hostility.  It’s another to ban an entire world religion, especially considering that some Muslims are native born American citizens.  How do you ban them?!

So, in short, Trump is nuts!  And I am deeply concerned that all of the anger he is able to invoke will cause large segments of the middle and working class population in America to vote against their own interests…by voting for Hillary Clinton!  Trump, for all his faults, knows that we can’t continue to allow China to erode our manufacturing sector.  Though he may seem like a “shoot first, aim later” type, he also has enough sense not to get us tangled up in the Syrian civil war trying to attack both sides (The Assad regime and ISIS).  Trump wants to focus on going after ISIS, while Clinton seems to think we should try to take out ISIS AND Assad.  Most of the political establishment wants to take out ISIS AND Assad!  This is pure lunacy!  You don’t go into the middle of a bloody civil war, and start attacking both sides.  If you must get involved, pick a side.  Otherwise, instead of killing each other, they both kill you instead.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, IS the establishment.  She’s Dick Cheney in a pants suit and a “D” next to her name instead of an “R”.  She has a long history of supporting “free trade” agreements that cripple the economy for working Americans, and her husband signed the devastating “China Free Trade Act” into law in 2000.  (Recession of 2000, weak recovery, and “Great Recession” follow…coincidence?)  Blacks and Hispanics are hit the hardest, by the way.  On foreign policy, Clinton, like any Republican neocon, claims that ISIS exists because we didn’t take out Assad!  This is your “serious candidate”?  She seriously thinks that we can take out ISIS by attacking the very regime that is also fighting to take out ISIS?  If Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Carson, etc. ever proposed a foreign policy so utterly absurd, the media would be all over them talking about how unrealistic it is and how it shows their lack of “experience”.  But Clinton, Bush, Rubio are free to propose these kinds of lunatic foreign policies and be only politely questioned by the mainstream media.  Sure, once in a while a journalist might mention, “psss….you know Assad is on the other side of the Syrian Civil War, right?  He is fighting against ISIS, right?”

The base of Trump’s support is highly emotional, and often dismissed as a bunch of narrow minded poorly educated whites who hate diversity.  Trump does appeal particularly to working class whites who have been feeling the shaft from the establishment for decades.  He also seems to have a sizeable portion of the black community supporting him, for many of the same reasons.  They are angry at career politicians, and they are angry that their job opportunities are diminishing.  As whites are losing their middle class status, blacks who were reaching so close for middle class status that they could feel it at the tip of their fingers have had it yanked away and sent to China.  Most of them haven’t considered the policy positions I’ve laid out above.  They vote for Trump with their hearts, not their heads.  But even if by pure chance, emotions have led many to the perfectly logical conclusion that Trump is preferable to the establishment, were there better choices?  Of course!  Jim Webb and Rand Paul, to name two.  But neither of them can stir the emotions of the masses like Trump, or Sanders.

And so, the current narrative from the main stream media goes something like this…

There’s a lot of anti-establishment sentiment.  Instead of looking at experience and qualifications, voters are angry, and that’s why Trump and Sanders won in New Hampshire.  But neither has executive experience.  Neither has much electability. 

Then the interviews follow, where the media speaks to pundits who sound something like this…

(Insert Clinton, Rubio, Bush) is clearly more qualified than (insert Sanders, Trump, Cruz) as he/she has a history of getting things done.  Many may be excited by (Sanders, Trump, Cruz) but his policies are very unlikely to pass through Congress.  (Clinton, Rubio, Bush) on the other hand, knows how to work across the aisle and get things done.  And (if Clinton) we’ve never had a woman president before!

Let me break it down for you.  None of these candidates will get much of what they propose in domestic policy!  None of them!  We live in the era of congressional obstructionism.  Congress has learned that the people praise the president when things get done, and blame the president when they don’t.  Therefore, it is in the best interest of the opposite party in Congress to block anything and everything until they get 110% of what they want.  If Clinton becomes president, the only way she’ll get funding for whatever domestic programs she wants from Republicans (and remember, Republicans only need 41 out of 100 Senators to block everything via filibuster), is to give, give, and give.  I’m sure if she bloats the military budget by another $200 billion, slaps new sanctions on Iran and stations troops on their border, the Republicans will let a little birth control subsidy or two slip into an omnibus budget bill which will include massive tax cuts for Wall Street.  And Clinton will say, “See?  I’m a progressive who gets things done!”  Nothing will be done about job loss to SE Asia, and little to nothing will be done to curb risky behavior by the big banks.  Much of “Dodd/Frank” is still up to interpretation by the President, and don’t expect Clinton with all her Wall Street/big bank support to interpret Dodd/Frank in a way that her financial campaign support doesn’t like.

A Trump Presidency would probably look more like this.  There will be no wall on the border of Mexico.  Yes, technically the President is already legally authorized to build a wall, but that cost bucks!  We ain’t got ‘em.  And Mexico is not going to build a wall for the US on their border.  Here’s the good news for you Trump supporters, if he wins…and for all of us who work for a living (including Sanders supporters and misguided Clintonites).  Even if Congress does nothing about trade, simply based on current trade agreements, Trump can enforce portions of these agreements against currency manipulation.  He can and will slap tariffs on China at least, if not many others who suck our jobs.  On foreign policy, there will be no ban on Muslims.  It’s blatantly unconstitutional and impossible to enforce.  But here’s the good news!  Trump knows that ISIS is the enemy.  Not Assad, not Iran, and certainly not Russia.  He’ll be firm when negotiating with Iran, but he knows that we need to focus on ISIS.  While the establishment candidates seem to think we can take out all of the bad buys and democratize the world, Trump knows better.

So, in short, I am not moved by Trump’s populism.  With Paul out, if the Democrats nominate Sanders, I’d choose Sanders over Trump.  Sanders can win, but it’s an uphill battle for him.  In the more likely “Clinton vs. Trump” scenario, I’ll take a reality show patriot over a “serious” candidate whose loyalty is with the international community, Wall Street, and the global banksters.  Some say, “Vote blue no matter who!  There’s too much at stake to let the Republicans win!”  I say there’s too much at stake to let the establishment win.  We can’t afford to keep losing our manufacturing jobs, and we can’t more neocon military adventurism that destabilizes the Islamic world further empowering ISIS.  If I have to hold my nose and vote for Trump, so be it!

 

Time for Rand Paul to Go for Broke?

PaulTrumpCNN

Is it time for Rand Paul to “go for broke”?  I’ve been urging caution.  I know the GOP base, they’re a bunch of apes, and Paul has to appeal to them.  The apes are well trained by a GOP establishment to react positively to certain buzz words and catch phrases like “take back America”, and “fight radical Islam”.   They also know to fling their feces at anyone who sounds like they “hate uh’mer’ca”.  But when you’re surrounded by apes, remember – they’re still apes.  They are irrational primates who respect vulgar displays of power.

That’s why they love Trump.  At the CNN debate, I saw Trump mostly doing more of the same.  He refused to apologize to Jeb Bush’s wife for claiming that she being Mexican had softened Bush on immigration.  He hurled insults, completely unprovoked, at Rand Paul.  But Trump remained bold.  He had the courage to look right at Bush and criticize the mess his brother left this country in, right in front of an audience of Republican basers.  Nobody else showed such courage, including Paul.  When Paul had an opportunity to criticize Bush for being a rich kid who smoked marijuana, and later become Gov. of Florida, Paul hesitated.  Apes don’t respect that.

When Paul did finally show some courage and explain point blank that the policy of removing secular dictators like Saddam Hussein, and possibly Assad, leaves instability and bites us in the back; Paul finally got some of the apes to clap their paws.  They’re so like us, aren’t they?

As the actual primary draws near, I’m wondering if Paul should stop worrying so much about not offending the apes, and instead just tell it like it is.  Trump had no qualms about calling out Bush, criticizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and slapping hands with Ben Carson for doing the same.  These normally provoke the Republican basers to hurl feces, yet, they don’t.  They respect Trump as the alpha.  Paul was right to say what he did about secular dictators, but maybe it’s time to take the next step.

As Lindsey Graham spoke of ISIS, Iran, and Assad, and I struggled to keep my lunch down, I kept thinking, “Will nobody call him out?”  Graham keeps talking about the growth of ISIS, and saying how we should have taken out Assad, and be prepared to use force against Iran.  NEWS FLASH!  Iran is doing more to stop ISIS than we are right now.  Assad was too until Obama took Graham’s advice and armed the “rebels”.  Yeah, long story short, ISIS has those arms now.  If Paul got a gentle but positive response from the apes for criticizing the reckless toppling of secular dictators in the Middle East, how much more of a response will he get for calling out disastrous policies that played into the hands of ISIS?  I’m not an anthropologist, but I am an academic, and I’m sure anthropological departments across the country would like to see the results.

On a more serious note, Paul isn’t doing great in the polls.  Trump is at the top, Carson is gaining on him, and Fiorina is picking up the pace.  All three of them look like leadership material to the GOP base.  I’m thinking it’s time for Paul to take some risks like a good leader must, and show the GOP base that he can lead.  I know he can lead, a handful of libertarian leaning Republicans know that.  Some libertarian leaning liberals also know that.  But this is the GOP primary, the planet of the apes.  While I respect Paul’s consistent reverence for the 10th amendment, the rule of law means little to primates.  They respect strength, and Paul needs to show it now.

Another interesting take on this:

Julie Borowski’s hilarious parody of the GOP debates

PS If I thought any GOP basers actually read my blog, I wouldn’t be calling them “apes”, but I can’t imagine this offending my 50 or so readers who are likely Paul supporters, or people who came due to my social commentary and don’t care much about this subject.

PPS  The above is more of a rant.  Sometimes it’s healthy to blow off steam.  It’s not an issue of being a bad sport.  It’s that I’m seriously frustrated that after all the mistakes we’ve made in the last few decades, I fear that some demagogue (Trump) is going to distract the GOP base from our best hope (Paul) of not making those mistakes again.  Honestly, if Trump actually does win, he’ll have my support.  He’s nuts, but he is a patriot, and I don’t think he’ll hurl us into another pointless war.

Nuclear Iran? Here are our options

Professor Wag explains that there are four ways this could turn out:

1. No further action, resulting in Iran getting a nuclear weapon
2. A weak deal, resulting in a nuclear weapon
3. A full scale war, defeating Iran – no nuclear weapon
4. A strong deal, no war – no nuclear weapon

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Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent – My Peer Reviewed article!

If I’ve been a little slow with my blog and vlog lately, it’s because I was wrapping up this article.  The full title is “The Decline of Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent: Why Grassroots Conservatives in the United States are Embracing a more cautious foreign policy“.  I cannot post the entire article here, but it is a free, open access journal provided by Sage Publications.  You can either read it directly on their website, or have a PDF emailed to you.  Just follow the hyperlink I just gave.  I can at least post the abstract, as follows:

It is now clear that the American conservative movement can no longer be easily categorized as “hawkish” on foreign policy. This essay examines the different perspectives, ranging from intellectuals and experts to grassroots conservatives and popular political culture, to grasp the widening range of foreign policy preferences that currently make up the conservative movement (or conservative big tent). Second, this essay considers the challenges that these hawks, mainly the neoconservatives, are likely to face due to the realities of generational politics. This essay will therefore provide a useful analysis of the different foreign policy preferences in the American conservative movement in the 21st century.

The Love Affair with Netanyahu – Pseudo-conservative Hypocrisy knows no bounds

NetanyahuandBoehner

What are the “conservatives” trying to conserve?  The recent love affair with Israel’s Netanyahu only further proves the hypocrisy of the American right wing.  The same people now praising Israel’s Netanyahu; a decade ago were saluting the flag, praising George W. Bush, and unquestioningly following him into war.  Anyone disagree?  Their response was, “If ya don’t like uh’mer’ca, leave da country!”  Remember that?  Now these same people say, “I wish Netanyahu was our President”.  I want to first expose the hypocrisy of the American right (the pseudo-conservatives) and then move on to show that Netanyahu is not showing great leadership in this situation.

Whatever you think of Obama, he is our President (and birthers, just take a hike right now…seriously).  If the “conservatives” valued any of the principles they claim, they would not go against our Constitution, undermine our national sovereignty, and bring a foreign Head of Government into the middle of our internal political disputes.  According to Article II, “The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…”  The final decision is to be made jointly between the President and the Senate, but the President is to be our chief negotiator in foreign affairs.  Furthermore, there is a long tradition of Congress putting aside partisanship in foreign affairs for the sake of keeping a united front when facing the rest of the world.  If we are to be strong internationally, we can’t air our dirty laundry to the rest of the world.  But since when do these so-called “conservatives” let that pesky constitution get in the way of partisanship?  The right wing isn’t interested in conserving our Constitution, the separation of powers, or America’s sovereignty.  They at least defended our sovereignty when Bush was in the White House, but even that no longer matters.  Russell Kirk, a true conservative, once said that “some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States”.  Lindsey Graham is clearly one of those neoconservatives, as he has said to Netanyahu “We will follow your lead”.

So what ARE these so called “conservatives” trying to conserve?  Israel?  Well, the next time one of the neoconned* starts with all their praising of Netanyahu and how they wish he were OUR President, I’m going to respond, “If ya don’t like uh’mer’ca, leave da country!”

As for Netanyahu, is he really such a great leader right now?  I do want to make it clear that I support our alliance with Israel.  But does Netanyahu really feel the same way?  I wouldn’t think of intervening in Israel’s internal political disputes.  I don’t blame Netanyahu for initially accepting the invitation from Congress.  However, when he saw how much internal controversy it was causing in the US, and how controversial it was with the American people**; he should have politely declined.  If I were him, I would have sent a very polite letter to Congress, something like…

“I continue to value Israel’s friendship with the United States of America, and in the interest of that friendship, I will not, as Prime Minister of Israel, interfere in America’s internal political disputes.  Therefore, out of respect for America’s sovereignty and our continued friendship, I must politely decline your offer to meet with Congress without also having the approval of your President.”

That is what a good leader and good ally would do.  But Netanyahu has decided that short term political gain, and supporting the neocon agenda, is far more important than America’s sovereignty and even Israel’s long term best interest.  Israel desperately needs the US, and this will not be remembered fondly by Americans (neocons perhaps, but they are globalists first and Americans second).  I think Netanyahu now should issue either an apology, or at least some kind of clarification that he hopes that he did not get involved in America’s internal disputes nor did he intend to disrespect the Office of the President of the United States.

*I call them “neoconned” because I speak of your average, grassroots Republicans.  They have been manipulated by the neocons, such as Bill Kristol, Sean Hannity, etc. but they themselves think they are “conservatives” and many have never even heard the term “neocon”.  They have been neoconned.

**I have seen several polls with varying conclusions on this, so in the interest of fairness, I will show you several.

This one shows that a majority of those who answered considered the speech inappropriate without Presidential approval.

This one shows pretty much the opposite of the above