Tag Archives: Trump

The Circus that Never Leaves Town

The circus that is called U.S. governance continues to entertain with its bizarre acts. This week, an awestruck public witnessed yet another one, this time with the Cohen clown testifying before Congress.

Yes, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and ‘fixer’ (is that really a thing?) Michael Cohen stood before a Congressional committee and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is the same man who, in May, will begin a prison sentence for, among other things, lying to Congress.

And what did we learn? Let’s look at just a few tidbits of information; we won’t call them facts, due to Cohen’s known record of lying to Congress.

+ Trump ordered Cohen to pay porn star and alleged former mistress (or perhaps one-night stand) Stormy Daniels, and then reimbursed him for that payment. Cohen claimed that his initial statements about that payment were not lies; he never said Trump didn’t reimburse him. He carefully said that no one from the Trump campaign reimbursed him. So there.

+ Cohen threatened people and organizations 500 times in ten years, under Trump’s direction.

+ Trump never tells people to lie, break the law, or even skirt it. He simply tells them what he expects as results. If achieving those results means his underlings must lie, or break or skirt the law, so be it. But Trump never tells them to do so.

+ When the infamous Billy Bush tape was made public, Cohen was immediately contacted by Trump aide Hope Hicks (a one-time member of his staff who, like so many others, became a victim of Trump’s employee revolving door), who told him to position Trump’s disgraceful, misogynist remarks as ‘locker room talk.’

Democrats on and off the House Oversight Committee, the hosts of this week’s spectacle, were gleeful; despite there being no actual smoking gun, there was enough innuendo for any normal person to conclude that Trump probably broke all kinds of laws, not only during his campaign for the presidency, but throughout his life as a real estate mogul.

These Democrats seem to forget that they were listening to testimony from someone who has been convicted of lying to them previously. Cohen may have been telling the truth, or he may not have been. His record in such things is not exemplary.

The Republicans, on the other hand, were filled with righteous indignation that anyone would dare to impugne the good name of St. Donald the Great. They were so outraged that they even arranged for one Matt Gaetz, a representative from Florida, to sit in the gallery, despite the fact that he isn’t a member of the House Oversight Committee. Gaetz, an ardent worshipper at the Trump altar, gained notoriety for threatening to expose Cohen’s extra-marital affairs, an accusation he made without any corroborating evidence. When asked for evidence, Gaetz replied: “As the President loves to say, ‘We’ll see.’“ One newscaster compared Gaetz presence in the gallery as akin to trials of organized crime figures, when enemies of witnesses were brought in to sit in the courtroom to intimidate the witness just by their very presence.

Today, some Republicans are referring Cohen and his testimony to the Justice Department, saying they have evidence that he committed perjury during his appearance this week. Whether or not their evidence falls into the Trump-Gaetz category of ‘we’ll see’, remains, ahem, to be seen.

Trump, meanwhile, was visiting his good friend Kim Jung-un, North Korea’s leader, to discuss nuclear disarmament. We must understand that this disarmament only applied to North Korea; Trump and most, if not all, of the U.S.’s elected officials only want the ‘bad guys’ (as they define them) to get rid of nuclear weapons, while the ‘good guys’ (again, by their twisted definition), can keep theirs. In U.S. parlance, the one nation that has ever used nuclear weapons, and on a civilian population no less, falls into the ‘good guys’ category. Go figure.

That this endeavor wasn’t successful, and that the world’s self-proclaimed best deal-maker wasn’t able to make any progress, isn’t too surprising. Additionally, while in Vietnam, Trump limited press access, because those pesky reporters wanted to ask about Cohen’s testimony. Why waste the president’s time with such trivia? Who cares about his relationships with porn stars, or his threats against people and companies? How dare that Cohen upstart attempt to upstage him? No wonder he fell into disfavor. The former ‘fixer’ better not expect a presidential pardon now!

This writer, watching such happenings from the relative safety of the U.S.’s neighbor to the north, is continually astounded. Republicans in Congress rally around their incompetent, petulant president, despite his erratic behavior and the fact they he can barely string two words together coherently. They attempt to explain away his behaviors or, worse yet, justify them.

On the other side of the aisle, the reality-show buffoon is universally despised, as the Democrats react in horror to each of his shocking behaviors, conveniently forgetting their own, and those of their past leaders. Democratic stars in the polluted firmament slowly announce to a world that hardly wants to hear the news, that they have decided to seek the party’s nomination for president, thus offering a viable alternative to the Great Orange one. Sadly, they seem to be stuck in the rut of believing that the voters will choose anyone other the current incumbent, as they hesitate to make any bold proposals, not wanting to alienate any voting bloc, and content not to please any, either. There are some exceptions, but most of them try to ride in the middle of the road, some being PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine), but mainly presenting themselves as the anti-Trump candidate.

Can neither member of either party learn nothing? Must they put party over principle? Why is this writer even asking? Of course they must! That is how they get re-elected, and for them, that is the highest goal. Statesmanship, integrity, the good of the people and other such lofty principles don’t have powerful lobby groups, and so such things are beneath notice.

The 2020 election is still a long way off; Trump may still be president by then, but his vice-president, Michael Pence, could assume that office if The Donald is found guilty of criminal activity and is removed from office. Pence, a conservative Christian, would probably be worse than Trump, if such a thing can be imagined. But in 2020, this writer, still a U.S. citizen despite his fourteen years living in Canada, will probably vote for a third-party candidate. That is where one looks for integrity, honesty and real caring for the people.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Afghanistan, Venezuela and U.S. Interference

In this troubling week, this writer has seen a variety of disturbing news stories. Ok, that’s nothing new, we all know. But there are two that he would like to focus on today.

First, he saw an editorial saying that the U.S. must not abandon Afghanistan.  He attempted to make some sense of this series of words, but while each is easily understood, when strung together, they lose all meaning. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and has been bombing and terrorizing that nation every day since then. What the U.S.’s goal there is one cannot say; the war is certainly, in the minds of many in the U.S., a forgotten war, although it is all too real for its Afghani victims. As of November, 2018, civilian deaths are conservatively estimated at 80,000. The infrastructure is destroyed, and the air quality has become one of the worst in the world. One would think that the people of Afghanistan would be desperate for the U.S. to ‘abandon’ their country.

With Venezuela currently big in the news, this writer saw a second article, another opinion piece, saying that U.S. President Donald Trump is right on Venezuela. Trump, in usual U.S. fashion, wants to ignore and thwart the will of the people, by declaring an opposition candidate as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. If the consequences were not so dire, this would be a laughable statement, coming from someone who can hardly be seen as the legitimate leader of the United States. There is an old adage that ‘majority rules’, but that doesn’t apply in the U.S. If it did, Trump would be back on his reality television show, where he belongs, and Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States (heaven help us all!).

Why does the U.S. government feel it needs to insert itself into every trouble spot in the world? Is it because of its sterling reputation in solving global problems? Is it because, wherever it chooses to intervene, after just a short time, the opposing forces in whatever nation it has ‘helped’ all join hands and sing Kumbaya around some giant campfire?

And as we consider these trouble spots, it’s certainly worthwhile to note that it is the U.S. that frequently causes these problems in the first place. Already it is being suspected that the U.S. is arming anti-government forces in Venezuela. In Afghanistan, it was the U.S. who armed and trained the Taliban when it was a rag-tag group opposing the Russians during that long and deadly war. When the Russians left, U.S. government officials seemed surprised and puzzled to learn that the people they supported against the Russians weren’t willing to hand over the government to some U.S. puppet. As a result, the U.S. is now engaged in Afghanistan in the longest war in its long and bloody history.

Where else has the U.S. caused untold suffering? Let’s consider Chile, where, under the rabid anti-Communist president, Richard Nixon, the U.S. government overthrew the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende, and supported the seventeen-year long reign of terror of dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

We could look to Iraq, where the U.S., in the 1963, overthrew the government of Abdel Karim Kassem, and threw its support behind a young, anti-Communist leader named Saddam Hussein. In the decades between that first support and the overthrow of Hussein in 2003, the U.S. ranged from naming Iraq a state sponsor of terrorism, to supporting it with advanced weaponry when Iraq was at war with Iran.

And while we’re speaking of Iran, let’s take a quick look at the U.S.’s violent history there.

In 1953, the U.S. overthrew the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and replaced him with the brutal Shah of Iran. Relations between the U.S. and Iran were quite cozy during this time, although the people of Iran suffered horribly. The Shah’s oppressive, barbaric reign ended when the people of Iran overthrew him, and installed a government of their own choosing. The U.S. government has never forgiven Iranians for daring to indulge in the luxury of self-determination, and as of this writing, continues to threaten Iran as it continues with cruel sanctions (illegal under international law, since they violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)), and even threatening its closest allies with sanctions if they dare comply with the terms of the JCPOA.

Need we even mention Vietnam? Perhaps we should; there were many lessons to be learned from that imperial disaster that, if they had indeed been heeded, would have prevented much of the international suffering that has occurred since then. In the south, the U.S. first selected Bao Dai, who had a long record of collaboration with Vietnam’s previous colonial masters, the French and the Japanese. Later, the U.S. supported Ngo Dinh Diem, a repressive dictator, who provided many rights and privileges to the Catholics in that nation, but not so many to the vast number of Buddhists.  Ho Chi Minh, who, despite his education and international travel, never lost his native identity, led Communist North Vietnam, and sought to reunite the nation. But the U.S. was determined that Vietnam not ‘fall’ to Communism, despite the wishes of the Vietnamese people. And so it launched its war, which killed at least 2,000,000 people, decimated the countryside, nearly destroyed the U.S. economy and tore the U.S. apart. Despite all that, the people of Vietnam were victorious.

And now we have the brilliant pundits and politicians telling us that the U.S. must not ‘abandon’ Afghanistan; rather, it should continue to destroy the country. Certainly there are many people left to be killed. And the U.S., we are also told, is right to support an opposition candidate over the democratically-elected one in Venezuela. Will the outcome of either of these disastrous mistakes be as successful as, say, the U.S. intervention in Iraq? Will they bring the same ‘benefits’ to either country that U.S. ‘help’ brought to the people of Chile?

For two centuries, the U.S. has run amok on the world stage, killing millions upon millions of innocent people, causing the torture of millions more, and destroying prospects, hopes and dreams for more people than can be counted. The world will be a more peaceful and just planet when the U.S. is eventually eclipsed in terms of military and the economy by any other nation. This cannot occur soon enough for the people of Afghanistan, Venezuela, and too many other nations to mention here.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Venezuela, the United States and Hypocrisy

United States hypocrisy, thy name is legion.

The number of examples of this are truly stunning, and this writer has commented on them more than once. He will take this opportunity to shine his spotlight on yet another one that is currently prominent in the news.

In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro was elected president, in an election generally thought to have been fair. He is, horror of horrors, a leftist, much to the chagrin of that mighty moral arbiter of world values, the U.S. So what did President Donald Trump and his minions do, which was followed quickly by many other world leaders who march in lock-step with the U.S? They recognized his opponent, one Juan Guaido, as the president of Venezuela.

This brings up so many questions, that one almost hesitates to count them. But we will ask just one:

What right does the U.S. have to determine who is the leader of any other nation on the planet?

Let us consider a hypothetical situation. We will ask the reader to think back to the U.S. presidential election of November, 2016, when the county was faced with a choice between a vile, corporate-owned elitist candidate, and one that was even, incredibly, worse. The hapless voters selected the former, who won the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes, yet the bizarre Electoral College installed the latter in the White House.

Now we will get to the hypothetical part. Imagine, if you will, the U.S. response if Russian’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Elizabeth May all declared that they recognized Hillary Clinton as U.S. president. What then-outgoing president Barack Obama would have said would have been nothing compared to the bellicose, belligerent Twitter storm that would sure have been unleashed by then president-elect Donald Trump.

The U.S. has, for months, been watching the Robert Mueller investigation into possible Trump collusion with Russia during the campaign; imagine the horror of a foreign nation attempting to influence the outcome of a U.S. election! How could such a thing possibly have happened?

Yet the U.S. is happy to recognize people other than duly-elected candidates as another nation’s leader. And if we are going to discuss foreign interference in U.S. elections, might we consider the millions upon millions of dollars donated to the campaigns of U.S. candidates and officials by pro-Israel groups? Is it mere coincidence that, once these candidates are elected, pro-Israel lobbies actually write legislation for them to introduce? The U.S. senate recently voted overwhelming for just such a bill that would make boycotting Israel illegal. These same senators proclaim their reverence for the U.S. constitution, but ignore Supreme Court rulings that clearly state that boycotts are protected by the constitution. What is that, when campaign contributions must be considered? The U.S. constitution? Who needs that old thing!

But let us return for a moment to Venezuela. The U.S. is concerned about ‘irregularities’ in the election that maintained Maduro in power. We have already mentioned that curious U.S. electoral ‘irregularity’, the Electoral College. However, that is just one of many.

In the U.S., in some states, government-issued photo identification is required in order to vote.

Despite what Trump says, U.S. citizens are not required to present photo identification when grocery shopping. One understands that preventing voter fraud is important, but, again despite the pronouncements of the raving lunatic in the White House, there is no evidence whatsoever of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the United States.

Where, one might ask, is photo identification most likely to be required for voting? This is a requirement in some states that have large minority (read: generally vote Democratic) populations, which include states with significant voters of African or Hispanic descent. Also, some university students study in states with such a requirement. Is it a simple coincidence that they, too, tend to vote for Democratic candidates?

A common form of photo identification is a driver’s license, which not every person of voting age has. One can get a government-issued photo identification card, but one must travel to a government office that provides them. Without a driver’s license, getting there is often a challenge.

In Canada, the nation to which this writer fled following the 2004 election of George Bush, everyone has medical coverage (which U.S. government officials seem to believe is Satan’s finest achievement), with an accompanying photo-identification card. We must present that when visiting a doctor, but it is not asked for when one presents oneself at one’s voting place. One states one’s name, the voting official looks it up on the list, and one signs that list, and then votes. If this writer, for example, returned later that same day to the polling place and attempted to vote a second time, the poll worker would note that his signature had already been placed on the appropriate line, and he would be prevented from voting a second time.

Some U.S. officials decry the large number of deceased people whose names appear on voting records. Yes, it is true that there are many such names. But this writer’s experience in this context may not be uncommon. When his parents died several months apart in 2016 and 2017, his first thought was not to contact the voting board, and remove their names. It was also not his second thought. He must confess that the thought never occurred to him. Is there a possibility that, in a future election, someone will go to the local polling place, give their name as that of his late mother or father, and vote? Yes, that is possible. Is it likely? When pigs fly.

Can voter repression, which is part of the U.S. electoral system, be seen as an ‘irregularity’? Can the Electoral College, which defeats the will of the people who actually vote, also be so seen? And we have not even mentioned the fact that, without being independently wealthy, it is almost impossible to run an effective campaign for public office (for exceptions, see Alexandra Ocasio Cortez). What has Venezuela done to deserve the wrath of the U.S., that is so much worse than what the U.S. routinely does?

While the U.S. condemns injustices around the world, it perpetrates its own that are usually far worse than those it criticizes. It also overlooks major violations of international law and human rights (see Israel; Saudi Arabia) if those countries provide it with some benefits.

The people of Venezuela do not need to be schooled in the art of democracy by a country whose government doesn’t know the meaning of the word. U.S. hypocrisy must be understood for what it is, and that country’s official pronouncements must be held up for ridicule. It is tempting to then ignore them; unfortunately, with the most powerful military on the planet, and leaders not hesitant to use it to force their will on other nations, ignoring the U.S. is not an option.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries

In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as “sh*ithole countries”, asking, “Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?” Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in the new book she has edited, How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries, (Clarity Press) has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

McKinney

The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, The End of Washington’s ‘Wars on the Cheap’, The Saker sums up U.S. foreign policy as follows: “Here’s the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in ‘defense’ of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’ (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts).” The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

This introduction and explanation of U.S. foreign policy is followed by essays on some, but certainly not all, of the countries that have been victimized by the United States, usually following this template. As McKinney says in her essay, Somalia: Is Somalia the U.S. Template for All of Africa, “…while mouthing freedom, democracy, and liberty, the United States has denied these very aspirations to others, especially when it inconvenienced the US or its allies. In Mozambique and Angola, the US stood with Portugal until it was the Portuguese people, themselves, who threw off their government and voted in a socialist government that vowed to free Portugal of its colonies.”

In the essay, How the U.S. Perpetuates the Palestinian Tragedy’, Sami Al-Arian writes:

It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and myths to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible, indeed reprehensible, for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of American political leaders’ rhetoric or media coverage of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents.”

The U.S. leads in these distortions, with its officials proclaiming, each time that Israel bombs Gaza, that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. There is hardly mention of the brutal, illegal occupation and blockade; never a discussion of the fact that Palestine has no army, navy or air force, and Israel’s military is one of the world’s most powerful thanks to the U.S. It is never stated that international law allows an occupied people to resist the occupation in any way possible, including armed struggle. The countless United Nations resolutions condemning Israeli actions in Palestine are ignored by U.S. officials.

Once again, U.S. hypocrisy is on very public display.

The third section of this informative book describes the United States’ mostly-successful efforts to camouflage its vile intentions and international crimes. Christopher Black, in his essay Western Imperialism and the Use of Propaganda”, clearly articulates how this is done:

The primary concern they [U.S. government officials] have, in order to preserve their control, is for the preservation of the new feudal mythology that they have created: that the world is a dangerous place, that they are the protectors, that the danger is omnipresent, eternal, and omnidirectional, comes from without, and comes from within. The mythology is constructed and presented through all media; journals, films, television, radio, music, advertising, books, the internet in all its variety. All available information systems are used to create and maintain scenarios and dramas to convince the people that they, the protectors, are the good and all others are the bad. We are bombarded with this message incessantly.”

Our memories are short, indeed, if we have forgotten both President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, telling the world from the United Nations the blatant lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, threatening civilization. We are not paying attention if we are unaware of the many innuendos given of the ‘dangers’ of all Muslims. Yes, the government fosters fear, proclaiming subtly and not so subtly that there is danger everywhere, and it is the role of the mighty United States to protect the world, whether or not such protection is wanted or needed.

Lastly, the U.S. Itself can be described as a ‘sh*thole’ country. Its many violations of international law, and crimes against humanity, are summarized by Richard Falk, in his essay The Sh*thole Phenomenon at Home and Abroad:

This kind of nationalist pride covered up and blindsided crimes of the greatest severity that were being committed from the time of the earliest settlements: genocide against native Americans, reliance on the barbarism of slavery to facilitate profitable cotton production and the supposedly genteel life style of the Southern plantations. This unflattering national picture should be enlarged to include the exploitation of the resources and good will of peoples throughout Latin America, who, once freed from Spanish colonial rule, quickly found themselves victimized by American gunboat diplomacy that paved the way for American investors or joined in crushing those bold and brave enough to engage in national resistance against the abuse of their homelands.”

The final essay is the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on his Mission to the United States of America, authored by Philip Alston. While Trump decries “sh*thole” countries, the conditions that the U.S. put those countries in are not unknown in the U.S. A few facts from Alston’s report will suffice:

  • The U.S.’s “…immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world.”
  • The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”
  • For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

The information in these essays is all rigorously documented with extensive footnotes. The writing is clear and the facts are presented in a concise manner that is highly beneficial for the average reader or academic.

For anyone who questions U.S. policies, at home or abroad, and who has perhaps become more aware of such issues since Trump’s election,

How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries is an indispensable read.

Originally published by Consortium News.

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Trump and Chaos

Once again, the political world is agog over new, ‘shocking’ revelations about the Donald Trump presidency. With excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’, being leaked, and an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times supporting some of the book’s major premises, there is, once again, talk of impeachment, this time focusing more on the mental state of the president.

This entire bruhaha brings up many questions, which this writer will attempt to answer.

  1. Is any of this new?

No. This is business as usual in the Trump White House. The chaos surrounding this administration is obvious to anyone who follows any news; even aficionados of FOX news must surely have gleaned that all is not well at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. With contradictory announcements, multiple bizarre tweets, top advisors arriving and departing with lightening speed, and trusted allies shunned, surely it’s clear to everyone that something is rotten in the state of D.C.

  1. Where is the Republican opposition?

Hiding under their desks, hoping the storm blows over while they still have their high-paying, low responsibility jobs. South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham has basically said ‘so what?’ to the NYT op-ed. House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to comment on the book, other than to say that he didn’t provide Woodward with any information; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel did the same.

Wouldn’t one think that, perhaps, the nation’s ‘leaders’ would show some concern about this? It isn’t as if there aren’t piles of public evidence that support the idea of major dysfunction in the White House. Like an ostrich when it senses danger, do they simply bury their empty heads in the ground, hoping it will all blow over?

We all know, of course, that politicians on both sides of the aisle will only take a ‘brave’ stand once they have measured the direction of the political winds, and consulted with the special interest groups which are their true constituency. With the GOP base still gaga over their racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic president, they are grabbing onto his tattered coattails for all they’re worth.

  1. Was the NYT op-ed a real picture of reality?

In the ‘through-the-looking-glass’ world of U.S. politics and governance, it is never a good idea to seek reality. That anonymous writer praises some of Trump’s ‘accomplishments’. We will digress for just a moment to review them.

  1. “Effective deregulation”. What this actually means is that protections for the public against air and water pollution have been relaxed, resulting in increased profits for big corporations, and increased cancer and other diseases for the common man and woman (you know, those people like you and me who pay taxes and vote, for whatever that’s worth).
  2. “Historic tax reform”. One wonders how ‘historic’ this actually was, since during the administration of George W. Bush the rich also got a huge tax benefit. Again, for the common man and woman? Not so much.
  3. “A more robust military”. The U.S. spends more on the military than the next eight largest nations combined. The infrastructure is collapsing, public schools are in shambles, health care is beyond the reach of most citizens, and a university education leaves students with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Was the military not sufficiently ‘robust’ under the presidency of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, when seven nations were being bombed, and troops were in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are not hundreds of military bases threatening the world, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers manning them, sufficiently ‘robust’?
  4. Is Trump going to purge the White House to remove the leakers?

Why not? Employment in the current administration is a revolving-door anyway, so why not simply increase the speed? According to preliminary reports, Trump has accepted the proclamation by Chief of Staff John Kelly, widely considered on of the ‘adults’ in the room (heaven help us), that he didn’t provide information to Woodward. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration of unbreached loyalty has also been accepted.

We will note, however, that what Trump accepts and believes today has no bearing on what he may accept or believe tomorrow; actually, we must look at the present minute, not the day, and consider the next one. So, Kelly and Pompeo are naïve indeed if they consider their positions in the administration safe. But if they are fired, just think of the books each will write.

  1. With the Republicans so cowed by Trump, will the Democrats unite to stop the madman president?

The chances of this happening, even should they gain majorities in the House and/or Senate with the November elections, are slim and none. Doing so would demonstrate courage and statesmanship, something that has been lacking on either side of the aisle since at least the presidential campaign of George McGovern (1972, just in case you were wondering). And that wasn’t a typical circumstance (please remember Lyndon Johnson, much as we’d all like to forget him).

  1. Lastly, are we actually doomed?

Probably. As much as this writer likes to consider himself an optimist, he doesn’t see any positive outcome from the current mess the U.S. has gotten itself into. Perhaps Trump will be removed from office; then the country and the world will be stuck with Mike Pence as president, someone less disturbed but certainly as dangerous as Trump. If Trump manages to muddle along and run for re-election in 2020, it’s highly possible that the Democrats, hardly the saviors of anything at all, will repeat their colossal mistake from 2016 and again nominate someone who has a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected. And with Donald Trump as the opponent, that should be difficult to do, although the Democrats managed it two years ago.

Yes, this writer will continue to vote for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning, because the Democrats and Republicans have arranged things so they maintain their stranglehold on public office. Yes, Democrats in the mold of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will continue to topple long-term, entrenched Democrats, but will be silenced or marginalized by the party’s power-brokers. And yes, the oligarchy that masquerades as a democracy, an illusion perpetrated by members of the oligarchy for their own benefit, and not believed much outside of U.S. borders, will continue to run the show.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Partisanship in the Extreme

Is there some point in time when elected Republican officials will say ‘enough’? Is there any boundary that their beloved president, Donald Trump, can cross that will be the last straw on the back of the much-overburdened camel? Is there absolutely nothing he can say or do that will tarnish their willingness to look the other way?

This isn’t a new dilemma. During the campaign, Trump disparaged women, Mexicans, Muslims, gays, the poor, the handicapped and just about everyone who wasn’t white. Since his election, he hasn’t stopped, but has praised racists, filled his cabinet with the super-rich, several of whom have resigned in disgrace, and alienated many of the country’s oldest and strongest allies.

He has relaxed laws protecting waterways and air, weakened protection for sexual assault victims on campus, and proclaimed that a free press (not that the U.S. has one, but that’s a topic for another essay) is the enemy of the people.

Now, his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been convicted of eight felonies, and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, a man who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump, has confessed to eight of his own. This includes misuse of campaign funds to pay off women who ‘allegedly’ (Nod! Nod! Wink! Wink!) had affairs with Trump.

This is the man that most, but not all, Republican officials praise and defend.

Is that not bizarre? How would you react, if your next-door neighbor was a loud mouth, arrogant, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic misogynist? Would you be comfortable if convicted felons were visiting his home day and night? Would you not worry about your safety, let alone your peace of mind?

But for Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives, this is all just fine. A spokesperson for that most illustrious Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said this: “We are aware of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point.” It seems to this writer that there is certainly sufficient information to make a more definite statement than that.

Senator Lindsay Graham, R-SC, dropped this pearl of wisdom:  “The American legal system is working its will in both the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen cases”. This seems to be a strange choice of words; perhaps working its way, or working as it is meant to, but working its ‘will’ does put an odd connotation on it. But that is neither here nor there; the main point is that neither of these august politicians mentioned Trump.

Partisanship is a hallmark of U.S. governance. Often, when a major bill passes, it is said to be a ‘victory’ for the president, or the party that rammed it through. Never is it said to be a victory for the citizenry. When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed into law on March 23, 2010, it was pronounced a major victory for President Obama. There was little mention of how this was a victory for over 20 million U.S. citizens who were previously without health care.

The recent tax bill, a major giveaway to the rich, was viewed as a victory not only for Trump, but for Ryan also, since enactment of a tax law to screw the poor, squeeze the middle class and shower treasures on the rich was long a goal of his. It wasn’t proclaimed a stunning defeat for the common man and woman; the fact that a difficult bill passed, regardless of its merits (or lack thereof), was a great victory for the Republicans.

This is U.S. governance; not Monday Night Football. In the latter instance, it’s fine (although perhaps a tad bizarre) to pick a side, and cheer and shout at the television screen as one’s selected team gains yardage or makes a touchdown. Your side can be praised to the skies, while the opponent is vilified, because it doesn’t matter. At the end of the season, one team will win the Super Bowl, and the winning quarterback will make millions more than he’s already earned. Big deal.

But running a country is not playing a football game; there are serious consequences within the country, and around the world. One Party doesn’t ‘win’ as the other ‘loses’; they are, in theory, people voted into office to represent constituents with differing philosophies on how life should be. It is their responsibility to work together to reach compromise on many topics, and to unite to defend the ‘sacred’ Constitution. So when the Supreme Court says, for example, that marriage equality must be the law of the land, these politicians might say that they disagree with it, but must uphold it nonetheless.

Also, while football fans can criticize and disparage the fans of other teams, this is not an option for elected officials. Republicans and Democrats might respectfully disagree with each other; but name-calling and juvenile criticisms have no place in the White House or the hallowed halls of Congress.

We could take the time and space to list the many, many names Trump has called his opponents, but we will not; suffice it to say that saying other politicians have low IQs; calling former aides ‘dogs’, or referring to a U.S. senator as ‘Pocahontas’ are simply not acceptable.

Yet while Trump runs amok on the world stage, slowly descending into apparent madness, ‘tweeting’ his wrath on an almost-daily basis, his fawning minions in Congress either look the other way, or jump on his bandwagon, oblivious to the fact that the wheels are all loose and a major crash seems to be in the offing.

It is beyond terrifying to think that this is the most powerful country in the world, one whose power and influence are waning, making it all the more dangerous. While it is horrifying to think of what Trump has said and done to date, it is chilling to think that he acts with near impunity, and to imagine what Congress and the yes-men and women who surround him might allow, considering all they have condoned thus far.

Mid-term elections are a scant three months away, but they will be, as always, nearly meaningless. Democrats may win; they will verbally criticize Trump, but support every war, every tax bill and every sanction he proposes, all to the detriment of the U.S. and the world.

This is the much-vaunted ‘land of the free and home of the brave’; a more honest assessment would call it an oligarchy, the land for the rich and the home of the oppressor.

 

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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The Hypocrisy of Trump on Iran

As United States President Donald Trump slowly descends into madness in front of the entire world, he seems determined to destroy Iran in the process. This would keep intact the U.S. government’s age-old policy of destroying countries that dare to defy it in any way, regardless of the toll in human suffering that that causes.

We’ll look at a few of the statements made by Trump and his various minions, and then compare them to that illusive concept that he seems to be completely unaware of: reality.

  • S. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas ‘tweeted’ this: “The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the courageous Iranian people protesting their corrupt regime.”

Apparently, according to the august Mr. Cotton, standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with people means issuing brutal sanctions that cause untold suffering.

Government officials say that sanctions are benign, that they only target the government.

However, the U.S. has been highly critical of an organization called ‘Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order’ (EIKO). When EIKO was established, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.” By targeting EIKO, the U.S. is intentionally targeting the innocent people of Iran.

In this regard, author David Swanson said this: “The U.S. does not present sanctions as tools of murder and cruelty, but that’s what they are. The Russian and Iranian people are already suffering under U.S. sanctions, the Iranians most severely. But both take pride in and find resolve in the struggle, just as do people under military attack.” Two points are worth considering here: 1) sanctions hurt the common man and woman more than they do any government, and 2) the Iranian people have a fierce pride in their nation, and will not succumb to U.S. blackmail.

And let’s pause for a moment and consider Cotton’s idea of Iran’s ‘corrupt’ regime. Was it not elected in free and democratic elections? Did the Iranian government not work smoothly with the previous U.S. administration, several other nations and the European Union to develop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S., under Trump, violated?

If Cotton wants to discuss ‘corrupt’ regimes, he’d be better served to start at home. Did not Trump assume office after losing the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes? Is not the Trump administration involved in numerous scandals reflecting the president’s own personal corruption, as well as that of several of his appointees? Has not the U.S. government supported terrorist groups in Syria? If Cotton believes that Iran is corrupt and the U.S. isn’t, he has an odd opinion of a ‘corrupt regime, indeed!

  • Trump himself seems to govern by ‘tweet’. On July 24, he ‘tweeted’ the following in response to a ‘tweet’ from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, unlike Trump, was elected with the majority vote: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” (Please note that the upper-case letters are Trump’s, not this writer’s).

Trump is hardly one to be talking about ‘demented words of violence and death’. The U.S. is bombing several countries, continues its brutality in Afghanistan, and is threatening Iran.

And what was it that Rouhani said that was so terribly offensive? Exactly this: Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace.” These words seem to invite the U.S. to make its own selection: start a deadly and devastating war with Iran, or reach out in peace for trade and mutual security. Trump, obviously, is far more interested in the former.

  • The U.S.’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, said this: “President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”

Let’s look at another country that does things ‘to the negative’ and suffers no consequences. Israel occupies the West Bank of Palestine in violation of international law; it blockades the Gaza Strip in violation of international law; it targets medics and members of the press, in violation of international law. During its periodic bombing campaigns in Gaza, it targets schools, places of worship, residential neighborhoods and United Nations refugee centers, all in violation of international law. It arrests and holds without charge men, women and children,  all in violation of international law. Why does Israel not “pay a price like few countries have ever before”? Instead, it gets more financial aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. Could the vast amounts of money that pro-Israel lobbies contribute to U.S. government officials possibly be the cause of this?

And should we mention Saudi Arabia? Women are stoned for adultery, and public executions are common. Its human rights record is as bad as Israel’s, and it is run by a crown prince, rather than a democratically-elected leader, but the U.S. says nothing critical of it.

Additionally, the U.S. is backing the terrorist group, Mujahedeed-e-Khalq (MEK). This group is external to Iran, and its stated goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. Perhaps Trump wants to replicate the ‘success’ of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who overthrew the stable government of Iraq, thus causing the deaths of at least a million people (some estimates are much higher), the displacement of at least two million more, and who never cared about the chaos he left behind that remains today. This is what Trump wants for Iran.

With the U.S. violating the internationally-accepted JCPOA, which was endorsed by the United Nations, the country has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Diplomatically, this is a problem for the other nations that are part of the JCPOA, since they all wish to remain in the agreement, but Trump has threatened them with sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran. In Iran, the sanctions damage the economy, which is Trump’s goal; he hopes, naively, that the Iranian people will blame their government, rather than the real culprit – the United States – for these problems.

What is behind Trump’s hostility to Iran? Prior to the signing of the JCPOA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress, urging that body to disapprove of the agreement. He is the leader of one of the only two countries on the planet that endorsed Trump’s violation of international law in his withdrawal from the JCPOA (Saudi Arabia was the other country that supported Trump’s decision). Trump has surrounded himself with Zionists: his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law, Jared Kushner; John Bolton, and his vice-president, Mike Pence, to name only a few. These are the people who are in Trump’s inner circle, and whose advice and counsel he seems to take at face value. These are the people who support the concept of Israel as a nation-state for the Jews, which by definition makes it apartheid. These are the people who disdain international law, and want to continue ‘negotiations’ that only buy time for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land. And these are the people who want Israel to have complete hegemony in the Middle East; its main rival is Iran, so in their twisted, Zionist minds, Iran must be destroyed. The amount of suffering that would cause is never factored into their deadly equations.

With a president as unstable and erratic as Trump, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy what he will do next. But hostility toward Iran is one thing if it is just words; any attack on that nation would cause more trouble and problems than Trump can possibly imagine. Iran is a powerful country in its own right, but is also allied with Russia, and any aggression towards Iran will bring the strength of the Russian military into play. This is the Pandora’s box that Trump is threatening to open.

Originally published by The Balkan Post.

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Has It Really Come to This?

As a United States citizen who fled the country when George Bush (a great statesman compared to the orange buffoon now in the White House) was elected president in 2004, this writer has since observed conditions in the land of his nativity from the relative comfort and safety of his adopted home in Canada. To say that he is puzzled would be to understate matters.

Let us look at just a few of the items causing his bewilderment.

  • President Donald Trump embraces racism, and has never, from the start of his campaign for the presidency, attempted to hide that fact. Indeed, he has broadcast it proudly, from insulting Mexican immigrants, to attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country, to saying that, when violence broke out at a racist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were people to blame on all sides.
  • Trump makes up things as he goes along, and not just in the category of trivia. In that category, he proclaimed proudly that his inauguration was viewed by more people than any other presidential inauguration in history, despite the fact that that was a blatant falsehood. But he also says that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud (no evidence), denied making misogynist statements he was videotaped making, brags about accomplishing more in one year than all his predecessors did in their entire terms, with the possible exception of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and calls every news item he doesn’t like ‘fake news’.
  • He denounces U.S. intelligence agencies (more than worthy of denunciation, this writer might add), not based on evidence, although there is plenty available, but because that’s his gut feeling.
  • Trump has stated that the free press is an enemy of democracy.
  • He criticized football players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism in the U.S. One might think that, 1) shining a light on racism would be a good thing; 2) the president of the United States might want to take seriously such charges, and 3) the president might have more important considerations than what happens at football games.
  • One hesitates to criticize a member of Trump’s family, but First Lady Melania Trump, whose sartorial choices are observed the world over, went to visit children in U.S. ‘tender age facilities’, where children and toddlers who were cruelly ripped from their parents’ arms by her husband’s henchmen are stored like so much cattle, wearing a coat saying “I really don’t care; do you?” To whom is this acceptable?
  • Lobbies run the government. This includes pro-Israel lobbies, which are so powerful as to get U.S. elected officials to overlook the most shocking violations of international law and human rights that exist on the planet today.
  • A special investigation is underway to explore possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, yet there have been no Congressional or special investigations to explore U.S. meddling in elections around the world, meddling that has cost millions of lives.
  • Opinion polls that repeatedly show support or opposition to something are ignored, if certain powerful lobby groups find them displeasing. For example, surveys continually indicate that an overwhelming majority of citizens support sensible gun laws, including banning semi-automatic weapons, but the NRA (National Rifle Association) will not tolerate any such thing. And the NRA is one of the lobby groups that is very generous to the members of Congress that it has purchased.
  • Congress accepts, with only the most minimal grumbling, all of the above.
  • Trump’s approval rating continues to hover around 40%, with that number much higher among Republicans. What is wrong with these people?
  • And to top it all off, these very members of Congress, who ignore the will of the people, sell themselves to the highest bidder, and kiss up to the abominable president, all announce at every possible occasion that U.S. ‘democracy’ is the envy of the world.

This writer doesn’t know exactly when he fell down the rabbit hole, but it seems he’s drinking tea with Alice while the Mad Hatter runs the show.

With the mid-term elections, and control of the House of Representatives and the Senate possibly hanging in the balance, fast approaching, various candidates have obtained this writer’s email address, and are constantly imploring him to send money, in order to defeat Republicans. Sometimes they send him a lengthy survey; after dutifully answering the questions (probably in ways unexpected by the sender), he reaches the end, and learns that, in order for him to be able to send in his completed questionnaire, he must donate to the Party. This makes him most suspicious about how interested they really are in his views, as opposed to his money. They receive neither.

Yet seldom do they state what they will do; they seem to assume that registered Democrats (this writer hasn’t yet bothered to register with the Socialist Party; he enjoys seeing the stupid things Democratic leaders and candidates say to him in their solicitation letters) see the GOP as evil incarnate, from which only the angelic Democrats can save the country. Sadly for them, this writer doesn’t adhere to this view.

Trump has fallen into some disfavor even with Republican officials, due to what is seen as complete capitulation to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is darkly suggest that perhaps Putin ‘has something’ on Trump, that the great orange one doesn’t want exposed. What on earth, we might ask, could that possibly be? For a man whose public behavior would humiliate the most delusionally- narcissistic individuals among us, but who seems to bask and glory in it, what could possibly coerce him to behave in any way against his own wishes?

Can anyone wonder why this writer views the currently happenings in the U.S with horror-stricken amazement? Is there some logical explanation that he’s overlooking?

This is how Trump would ‘make America great again’, although the U.S. never achieved anything near the mythical greatness that he and his minions claim to want to replicate. That so-called ‘greatness’ was based on genocide, slavery, racism and unparalleled death and worldwide injustice. Members of both parties only recoil in horror at such atrocities when perpetrated by the other party, if they object at all.

Much of the world’s leaders seem only interested in money and power, to the detriment of much of the world’s population. It will take more than farcical elections in the U.S. to change that tragic situation.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Trump’s Proposed ‘Deal of the Century’ Will Only Prolong Palestinian Suffering

United States President Donald Trump, who has no bigger fan than himself, is frequently heard to discuss ‘deals’. He states, and probably believes, that he is the best deal-maker of all time. His book, The Art of the Deal, further proclaims his alleged deal-making abilities.

However, when it comes to actual deals, the evidence to support his self-declared greatness simply doesn’t exist. He criticizes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the ‘worst deal’ of all time, despite the differing opinions of his military advisors, and all but one of the U.S.’s allies. His violation of that agreement, which also violated international law, is not any concern of his. He brags that he will make a better deal, although he has never explained why he thinks the Iranian government would trust the U.S. to keep any agreement now.

Since his successful campaign for the White House, he has said that he will make the ‘deal of the century’, ending the Palestine-Israel ‘conflict’. One views any such statements from Trump with suspicion, considering that some of his biggest campaign financiers are dedicated Zionists, and he has given responsibility for this ‘deal’ to his obnoxious and ill-qualified son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has investments in illegal Israeli settlements, and is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After teasing the world that he was working on such a deal, details have now been leaked. It seems, from this preliminary view, that Netanyahu himself could have devised the plan, since it gives Israel everything and Palestine nothing.

Before we look at some of the details, we’ll review a few provisions of international law as they relate directly to Israel and Palestine.

The international community recognizes Palestine’s and Israel’s borders as those that were established by the United Nations in 1947. The immorality, unfairness and criminality of the decision to partition Palestine will not be discussed here.
Citizens of the occupier’s country cannot be moved permanently into the occupied nation. Over 500,000 illegal settlers now live in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Netanyahu has stated that not one will ever be required to depart.
Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of Palestine. This was reiterated by an overwhelming vote of the U.N. General Assembly not three months ago.
The occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, have all been declared illegal by international law.

Now, on to some of the details of Trump’s proposed ‘deal of the century’, and what it would mean for Palestine.

Palestine would be granted ‘limited’ sovereignty over about one-half of the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The rest would be under the control of Israel, which would result in maintaining the status quo. Under the dubious leadership of the traitor Mahmoud Abbas, Israel controls the entire West Bank with checkpoints, house raids, kidnapping and murder. Under Trump’s deal, nothing would change.
The Palestinian capital would be located in a suburb of Jerusalem, Abu Dis. Palestinians believe, and rightly so, that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. There is no way this proposal will ever be acceptable to them.
Hamas would be required to disarm. The West Bank disarmed a decade ago, and that has resulted in untold suffering for the Palestinians, as they have been shot, arrested without charge, imprisoned for long periods of time, brutally harassed and oppressed in every way imaginable. They have seen their land stolen to make room for Israel-only residences and roads. Should Hamas disarm in the Gaza Strip, the result there would be the same.
There would be no contiguous nation of Palestine; the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be separated by Israel. As it is today, the ‘deal of the century’ would still prevent Palestinians in the West Bank from ever visiting family or friends in Gaza, and vice-versa.
To summarize, Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ would give Israel everything it wants, and Palestine nothing it wants. Palestine would be a separated nation, without the means to defend itself, and with only partial sovereignty. The annexation of the entire nation of Palestine, which has been slowly happening for decades, would be accelerated.

Since it is blatantly obvious that there is no possible way Palestine, even under the treasonous leadership of Abbas, would accept this agreement, why is it being made? There can only be one purpose for the introduction of such a one-sided deal, one that is consistent with U.S. policy towards Palestine for decades. Once this deal is officially offered and rejected, the U.S. and Israel will say that the Palestinian government and its people are not interested in peace, they only want the destruction of Israel, they aren’t willing to negotiate, etc., etc. The corporate-owned media will repeat these lies, and lies told often enough are often believed.

People around the world who support Palestine are faced with a challenging situation. International condemnation of Israel is ever-growing as its constant atrocities are brought to light. However, with some social media outlets, including Facebook, now censoring news of these atrocities, supporters of justice, human rights and international law must increase their efforts. Israel must not be allowed to continue its U.S.-financed oppression of the Palestinian people.

There is, however, real progress being made. Last week, a bill passed the Irish parliament’s upper house that would ban Israeli products produced in the occupied territories from being sold in Ireland. In the U.S., the General Convention of the Episcopal Church moved to divest from companies that are complicit in Israel violations of international law. Also in the U.S., a pro-Palestinian political newcomer, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez defeated an incumbent Israeli puppet in a primary election in a New York City district last month. Due to the fact that far more Democrats than Republicans are registered in that district, it is likely that Ocasio-Cortez will go to Congress in January.

Yet for all this, nothing has changed for the better for the Palestinians; if anything, conditions continue to deteriorate. Trump’s proposed ‘deal of the century’ will only prolong their suffering.

There is much work to be done, and those of us outside of Palestine who support international law, justice and human rights, must redouble our efforts.

Originally published by AHTribune.

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Juvenile Delinquency in U.S. Government

Just when, one wonders, did United States political discourse become the juvenile embarrassment that it is? Today, of course, we are in an environment when the president immediately responds to any criticism, usually using personal attack or insults to do so. One current brouhaha is instructive.

On December 11, Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on the illustrious President Trump to resign, due to the many, many allegations of sexual harassment and assault with which he’s been accused. This, of course, didn’t sit well with the president. In his response via ‘Tweet’, he called her a lightweight and a flunky, and said she would do anything for campaign contributions.

Rising to the bait, Gillibrand ‘bravely’ proclaimed that she would not be silenced. She again called for his resignation.

The current darling of whatever passes these days for the liberal establishment, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who Trump, in his mature, statesman-like way refers to as ‘Pocahontas’, felt compelled to support her New York counterpart, weighing in with yet another ‘Tweet’, one more applicable to the playground than the halls of Congress. Said she: “Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that.” Fight on the schoolyard! Don’t let any grown-ups catch you!

But the combative Trump, and the elected officials who take delight in baiting him, are just the current manifestations, showing that things have gotten totally out of hand. Looking back at the pre-2016 election primary season, there were more taunts, with Trump insulting the appearance of his female competitor, and himself being ‘accused’ of having small hands. Things got even more childish when the size of his anatomy was questioned. These were the words of people seeking the highest office in the land, the worst of whom actually found his way there.

We will turn our attention now to Alabama, where a judge who was twice removed from the bench for defying Federal orders was narrowly defeated this week in his bid for senate. The first time he was removed was in 2003, when ordered to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments that he’d had installed in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. He refused to do so. Sadly for him, his defiance, like that of any unruly child, gave way to the authorities in control.

Thirteen years later, after he’d been elected again (what is wrong with the people of Alabama?) the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional. Now, one would think that it’s the responsibility of federal judges to uphold federal law. But Moore didn’t like that new law! He instructed Alabama’s probate judges to continue to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bad boy hadn’t learned his lesson from a decade earlier, and he was once again sent to his room, and told he couldn’t be a judge anymore.

During the last week of his campaign for U.S. Senate, it seemed that someone must have grounded him, since he was unavailable for interviews, and was not spotted on the campaign trail. This might be a result of a desperate attempt to prevent people from talking about his penchant for dating girls as young as 14, when he was in his thirties. The GOP must be breathing a major sigh of relief today, since the party wasn’t looking forward to the fun and games they would have had, trying to deal with that particular overgrown juvenile delinquent.

Trump responded to the defeat of the candidate he’d endorsed in his own, childish manner, when he ‘Tweeted’ this: “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right!” I told you so! Nah! Nah!

Other examples abound in recent history. One recalls former GOP candidate Mitt Romney dismissing 47% of the electorate (not the popular kids, obviously), and bossing around the staff at the restaurant where that infamous quotation was filmed, like some schoolyard bully. Four years earlier, John McCain shocked the Republican establishment when he suspended his campaign activities to deal with a financial crisis, not having the maturity to handle more than one issue at a time.

And what of his loose-cannon running-mate? Sarah Palin’s inability to form a coherent sentence did nothing to raise the esteem in which U.S. officials would like to bask, among the hapless citizenry. When she resigned as governor of Alaska, she said she was making her own way, because “only dead fish go with the flow”.  Her sophistication and eloquence astound!

The media, which, other than a few far-right outlets, has no fondness for Trump, seems to be gloating collectively at Moore’s defeat, calling it a ‘stinging loss’ for the president, and seeing an increasing possibility of the Democrats retaking the senate next year. While one supposes there is some benefit in that, the Democrats are hardly riding in like the Calvary in a bad movie, to rescue the damsel in distress, or in this case, the sinking pseudo-democracy known as the United States. Under the Democrats, there may be some diminution of overt racism, but Blacks will still be disproportionally incarcerated for minor drug crimes, as wealthy white criminal bankers go free. Muslims may be allowed freer entry to the U.S., but any ‘terrorist’ acts by anyone purporting to support Islam will be met with demands that all ‘law-abiding’ Muslims reject terrorism. Israel will still be able to oppress, humiliate and murder innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinian men, women and children with complete impunity, as that apartheid nation defies international law and basic human decency.

But what is any of that? We are back on the schoolyard, and the clique that ran the show last year, and was so popular with so many of the kids, isn’t doing so well this year, and so the rival clique is going to try even harder.

The grown-ups have all gone home; a most unfortunate situation for the U.S. and the world.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

 

 

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