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Video Games & High Value Targets

July 20, 2018

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Anybody remember the name of that guy who headed up the House intelligence Committee investigating the relationship between Trump campaign and transition team players and Russian hacking? No?  My bad.  I meant the guy looking into Obama’s wiretapping of Trump Tower.  Yeh, that guy.  Devon Nunes.

Devon Nunes, what a chump?  He witlessly stepped into the corridor of “me” and now he’s yesterday’s news. Trump played him like a fiddle. Called into the Whitehouse to be given information by the Whitehouse that was to be delivered to the Whitehouse and no one else, now how stupid is that?  Devon had a secret, one that he wouldn’t share with the American public, one that he failed to share with his committee.  His only answer was, “I know something you don’t know, but I’m not gonna tell.”  C’mon Devon, grow the fuck up!!

Ah, but not to worry.  Loyalty has its rewards.  Trump has your back.  Fifty-nine Tomahawks can go a long way to wiping clean public memory of your blind devotion.

Back then, all the news was about those babies killed by Bashar al-Assad and Trumps’ military action.  While it may have been the right thing to do, I have to question Trump’s sincerity regarding his motivation.  Was it those babies he was thinking about or was it his own image and his need to appear strong in the face of aggression?  Well, every news agency gave him a free pass on that one.  Not me.  He has yet to demonstrate even an ounce of sincerity in any matter whatsoever. No, Tomahawks were the right answer to Assad’s murderous spree, but Trump?  c’mon, he’s still the same old Trump. He doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself.

Whoever said Americans don’t have the stomach for war was wrong.  Americans just don’t have the stomach for losing.  The lesson of Vietnam was simple.  In spite of our extreme military might, our numbers, our military intelligence, and our wealth, we got our ass handed to us by a band of rag-tag peasants living in tunnels in the jungle, eating rice and rats.

But did we learn anything?  Consider Afghanistan, an endless war with no victory in sight.  In spite of our extreme military might, our numbers, our military intelligence, and our wealth, we get our ass handed to us by a band of rag-tag peasants living in caves in the mountains, eating God knows what.

No, Obama had the right idea—reduce our occupying forces and accomplish pinpointed attacks on high value targets remotely with drones. Oh, but there was just this one little thing.  Collateral damage.  Occasionally, innocent civilians got caught up in the attacks.  The bad guy’s wives and children, cousins, neighbors and accomplices were also killed.  Innocent?  Maybe, for the most part, but surely babies and children are innocent?  Were Americans really that squeamish or was this just the party of “no” doing business as usual?  Look at any war and ask yourselves, when were innocent people excluded from bombing raids? Surely the numbers of civilian casualties in drone warfare is infinitesimally small compared with say, Dresden?

So, I have to disagree with this criticism of Obama.  Stealth warfare and drones, the use of technology and small highly skilled, ninja style forces are the answer for our need to win. It’s a string of small victories, a chain of successes for citizens of the nation that invented serialized entertainment and video gaming. We move from one cliff hanger to another and amass an ever growing score, gather prizes and feel good about ourselves.

If the last election was about anything, it was just that.  Americans wanted a winner.  To be American is to win.  It’s our destiny. We created “Trump Nation” long before we created Trump to rule it.

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Fair Trade (is there such a thing?)

July 20, 2018

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Trade…  it’s the whole reason we are here.  Were it not for powerful European nations seeking a shorter trade route to India, the Americas might not have ever been discovered and we’d all still be living in a “flat” world.  Trade began immediately, the net flow being more positive towards Europe than to the native peoples of the Americas.  Gold, beaver hides, tobacco, anything of value, could be gotten in trade for metal tools, tradecloth, mirrors and trinkets.  We knew a good deal when we saw one, but clearly this was the land of really great deals.  So it was that on May 24, 1626 Dutch colonists purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans, by all accounts Canarsee Indians, in exchange for beads worth sixty guilders or twenty four US dollars. So the plot of land on which Trump Tower now sits was acquired for mere pennies.  Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  The real dealmakers may all be dead, but their philosophy lives on.  Value is subjective, but the willingness to take advantage of someone is universal and lives on in the dark side of the human spirit.  Are we being led astray by that spirit?

From an early age all cultures expose their children to trade. Whether it’s in the open air markets of underdeveloped nations or by way of sports-related, bubble-gum trading cards here in the US, children learn to practice trade.  I’ll give you a Ted Williams and a Stan Musial for that Mickey Mantle.  Eventually as teens we follow sports news, watching as real life sports figures are traded one team to another. It’s just business.  It’s all business, right?

So as we reach adulthood, we move on to more meaningful endeavors— futures, commodities, stocks and bonds, currencies, or on the national level, spies for prisoners, or arms for hostages.  It’s an acquired skill held in high regard.  It takes a special person to make that extraordinary deal.  If someone could sell us the Brooklyn Bridge, well that would be the ultimate dealmaker. But consider this. The very best dealmaker would sell us something that we would never own—something that we could just keep paying for, something such as a concept, something completely ephemeral. Ultimately that’s where it falls when you run out of things of real value to sell.  Sell an idea.  In and of itself an idea has no intrinsic value.  It’s value lies in the mind of the beholder and the ability of the dealmaker to assign a value by stimulating desire.  Well yes, that is what we bought into with Trump, a dream, an imagined alternate reality.

But let’s get back to trade for a moment.  Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, made some very enlightening remarks regarding trade in a recent interview.  He cautioned us to look at trade through the lens of globalization and not exclusively through import statistics, as the Walmart model provides.  As an example, GE exports 70% of its output while it imports only 30% from it’s factories on foreign soil.  The net effect of this current trade balance is to create more American manufacturing jobs to support the export needs of overseas orders.  Furthermore, GE has a policy of building plants close to and within the market they service.  As a result, economies are achieved regarding shipping and its environmental impact.  The simple broad stroke solution to the perceived trade imbalance is some form of tariff and that may well create a trade imbalance that would reduce our exports and eliminate jobs.  It’s a delicate chaotic system, where each input variable affects the other and resonates back and forth in unpredictable ways.  For more information on chaotic systems read James Gliecke’s book “Chaos.”  Its a fascinating read. The best kind of trading involves the best kind of dealmaking, “win/win.”  It would be wise to keep that in mind.

But in politics it’s just “WIN.”  And if Trump taught us anything in the last campaign it’s just that.  The problem with our current government is that it’s staffed with one great big pissing match of traders.  It begins with the campaign and corporate lobbyists, trading financial support for legislative action. Once in Office, it’s “ I’ll vote your way on this bill if you give me what I want on my pork barrel project.”  Or how about this one?  “I’ll remove hindering sanctions on your country in return for your initiating dirty tricks via cyber-hacking aimed at my election opponent.”  Pretty soon it’s “I’ll trade you a vote on healthcare reform for an ammendment defunding planned parenthood” and it just keeps rolling on. It’s all about the deal. Gim’me what I want and if I can shift the cost to someone else, well so much the better. So just who might that be?  The answer is really so simple and so obvious.  It’s not the fat cats.  They’re the beneficiaries.  It’s not the unemployed and working poor.  There’s just no money there. That only leaves the middle class.  Guess what, that means you.

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All for One?

July 20, 2018

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All for One

Was it Alexandre Dumas in his classic novel, “The Three Musketeers” who coined the phrase, “All for one and one for all” or is this just the product of a childhood memory of a time long-gone, when watching the popular TV show of the same name, I often heard the phrase repeated with regularity?  The idea of unity of resolve, commitment and deep loyalty imbued in that phrase was not lost on my young mind.  Today in our upside down political world it has suffered, being twisted by our foes and abandoned by those who could use it to further good ends.

Donald Trump certainly understands this paradigm.  That is why he demands loyalty and rejects unity.  In his world, it is “All for One.” His surrogates and his cabinet, all survive on loyalty alone. The GOP keeps him in office solely to push their agenda, despite the bitter loyalty pill they must swallow to maintain it.  Yes, in Trump World, it is “All for One” under extreme duress. Trouble is that the “One for All” part of the equation is sorely missing. His deal making is never reciprocal. It has been proven that like water he flows downhill.

NATO, an organization designed to protect free democratic nation states against aggression was founded on the very same, basic principle, “All for One and One for All,” and has survived since World War II without incident until recently, when Russia attempted to annex Crimea and attacked the Ukraine.  Now, under Putin’s spell, Trump is shattering the NATO alliance, repudiating our allies and questioning our commitments.  His attacks on the European Union and the trade tariff wars initiated against virtually every significant trade partner, further substantiate his intent.

And so, we must question, “Who is in charge in a democracy, the One or the All?” If one can claim, as Trump does, that he was legitimately elected, logic follows that the One represents the All. But in reality, that is not necessarily the case.  However, if not legitimately elected, the logic does not follow.  Either way, the majority of the country and privately in the opinion of our congressional members, openly the media as well as military leaders and intelligence officers and our allies abroad, ALL do not agree with the ONE!.

What can be done?

Unity is the answer.  We must embrace the latter part of the equation, “all for one,” in support of each other. Take for example, the Press Corp.  When Jim Acosta attempted to ask a question of the President and was rebuked as fake news, Trump refused to take his question. Instead he moved on to FOX news and John Roberts for a question. Where is the unity among the Press Corp when Roberts asked his question?  What should have happened was that Roberts should have refused to ask his question until Acosta was first allowed to ask his.  ALL hands in the room should have gone down until Acosta was treated respectfully and answered. An attack on Acosta is an attack on the ALL, the entire Press Corp, and should have been treated as such. Don’t they know that, or is their competitive aggression so overwhelming that they no longer care?

And take our Intelligence heads, FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, all in agreement, surely, they must by now realize that to share intelligence with Trump is to share it with our enemies. Where would Trump be if they all resigned? Better yet, what if in a single act of unity, they all declined to take meetings with him, a strike of intelligence to force his resignation.  There can be no doubt that we are being led by a proven liar, an admitted moral degenerate, a raging narcissist, a man with no moral compass, an uninformed reality show actor who prefers not to read his briefs and plays fast and loose with no apparent agenda, spouting vague assertions of his success while absent of any revelation, documentation or verification.

Is this how we chose to be governed, “All for One?”

 

 

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The Idiots Guide for Family Reunification

July 2, 2018

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Where have I heard this before?  “I have a plan, but I’m not going to reveal it.  Wait and see. It’s a great plan.  You’ll be very happy.”  Seems like that’s Trump’s answer for just about everything.  Is he that clueless or just that devious?  Or both?

What can be so hard about reuniting the immigrant, asylum-seeking children with their parents?  The administration says that they know where they all are, but they don’t want to reveal where.  Why?

Let’s assume for the moment that they are not lying. So, here’s a plan that even the most mentally-challenged idiot could enact.  Take all the children and all the parents and transport every last one of them, along with their papers, to the same location. Now with everyone in the same spot, matching children to mothers and fathers will be very easy.

C’mon Donald, do something right for once in your life.

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Captain Kangaroo Court

June 30, 2018

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I no longer recognize the country I used to live in.  In the 60’s there was much social upheaval and repression took many forms—illegal wars, violent action on the part of the government, assassinations of our best leaders and political manipulation of the rest.  But today it has been magnified exponentially.

Flagrant and blatant abuse of basic rights and human decency is no longer kept in the shadows or the private offices of corrupt politicians but stands in the light of day embraced by a faux-President and his appointees, surrogates and party enablers. Take for example the latest iteration of madness, the separation and jailing of small immigrant children and the subsequent court proceedings to rule on their asylum. In the most evil and despicable manner Trump is using the “rules” to inflict pain and punishment on the least able to defend themselves.

As we all know by now, immigrant children seeking asylum with their mothers are being separated and transported, in many cases thousands of miles, to “holding pens” cages, being callously spun as “summer camps,” and held by privatized detention entities for extended profits.   Managed as they are, witnesses have testified that often these children are tortured, some by being tied to a chair, ankles, wrists and waist, bound for days with a hood over their head, as if they were in Abu-Graib.  Others are given injections and drugs to facilitate their easy management over their rightful protests and objections.  What’s next? Waterboarding?

No, what’s next is a trial.  Small children and infants are taken into court without any representation (as non-citizens they are not entitled to representation) and without an accompanying adult, often sitting for hours alone in a chair without toys, games, snacks or food, until the judge rules on their asylum claim.  Many are so young they cannot even speak, yet alone understand the proceedings and without a parent to speak for them, cannot represent themselves.  For Trump, the bully, this must feel like a slam-dunk. Deportation is inevitable.  Why bother with the formality of a Kangaroo Court? Is not the outcome as predictable as a Taliban ruling? Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

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From The Safety of Rocks

June 30, 2018

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In the old TV westerns, the bad guys always hid behind the safety of large rocks to take pot shots at the good guys, cowboys like Roy Rogers, Hopalong, Cisco and The Lone Ranger. It was safe behind those rocks and there was always that quick getaway, horses waiting in the pass behind them.  Nothing much has changed as Sarah Huckabee Sanders so aptly demonstrates time after time.

Using the safety of her podium to take pot shots at the press, the Dems and anyone who questions the Trump administration, never answering a question directly, she is always dismissive, often deferring to someone else not present in the room, while glibly mouthing the rehearsed script of her puppet-master.  These so-called press conferences never amount to much by way of meaningful information or news other than her obfuscation of the events of the day and the administration’s role in them.  As the return fire heats up, and after sufficiently ridiculing the press, she announces “one more question,” pretends to answer it and then abruptly wheels to her right and heads for the waiting horses in the pass just beyond the door to the press room, for her getaway.

After the TV bad guys had their quick getaway, they would sooner or later get caught up with in the nearby town as they tried to go about their regular lives pretending to be normal town citizens. But soon they are uncovered by Hopalong or Cisco with the help of the local townspeople and brought to justice and the waiting jail.

Who says you can’t learn something from TV?  These old-fashioned morality tales used to seem unrealistic, but they have a lot to teach us about managing criminals by banding together as a community. Criminals are seldom caught in the field but more often in their lair and haunts. It’s the diligent public that spots them and focuses the attention on them that results in their demise. In their private lives and in public spaces they are vulnerable.  They have no rocks to hide behind.  While the media cowers in compliance, shackled by corporate policy and corporate lawyers, it is up to us, regular private citizens, to publicly flush them out.  There is force in numbers. If we can’t jail them, we can at the very least put them on the run.

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Cheaters Never “Win”

June 28, 2018

Casino-696x392A card shark travels to Vegas and sits down in a casino to play poker.  Being an experienced cheat he wins big and continues to win.  Now should he be discovered and caught, what do you think would happen to his winnings?  Does he get to keep them?  I think you know the answer to that. The Casino would take them back.  Cheaters are not entitled to keep their ill-gotten gains.

When it is finally confirmed that Donald Trump cheated to win the 2016 election, we must ask ourselves, “did he really win?”  If he cheated to win the presidency, was he truly “elected to that office?”  Is he entitled to all that the office has to offer by way of power and influence, decisions, and agreements?  Any reasonable person would have to say “no.”  If he cheated to be elected then he was not truly elected and therefore has not been the president during the entire time from the inauguration until the day he is removed from office.  He has been a Faux-President not a legally elected President. While certainly there has been corruption in previous elections, smear tactics and foul play, none have risen to these proportions by way of his treasonous methods and alliances.

If we agree that cheaters are not entitled to keep their spoils and that Donald Trump was not fairly elected, then we must call into account the legitimacy of all his actions and policies during his administration as illegal.  Every single policy needs to be reversed.  Every executive order killed.  Every appointment terminated.  And without doubt, all Supreme Court nominations voided. The winnings of a cheater must be returned to “the house.”

Every expense he has taken from the taxpayers needs to be repaid… all the secret service protection, all the travel expense on Air Force One, and on and on.  These are privileges he was not entitled to by way of cheating.  They should be repaid.  Ah, but there is no precedent for that, no protocol to follow.

When that day comes, and it will, will we have the courage to demand justice or will we wither under the pressure to not be seen as a failed democracy?   Are we willing to suffer the next 40 years in the shadow of his appointments to the Supreme Court, his policies on health care, taxation, the environment, education and the notion that a narrow religious ideology can pre-empt basic human rights?

This is where the game gets very tough.  The Dems are boxed in by their own wish to return to power and are immobilized with the fear of GOP criticism at making the wrong move (which is any move.) I heard an idea floated today on the news.  If the Dems didn’t show up to work and the Senate did not have a quorum, then there could not be a vote on a Trump SCOTUS appointment. They would need to keep that up for months and the heat would rise above anything we have ever seen.  It would be extreme.  The fear that it would turn the midterm elections against them would be ever-present, but this would be an act of courage and faith that the American people would have their backs.  I just hope somebody is listening.  This is radical stuff, the kind of fight required when backed into a corner.