Rachel Maddow asserts that the Trump team is a “clown car of incompetent catastrophe”; the L A Times issues a blistering take-down of all things Trump in a five-part series of editorials. And in my seven decades of looking at the political landscape through the prism of my father’s experience, then my own, I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on is Washington these days.
At the top of the news, Trump and Syria, images of children choking to death after the Assad regime gassed it’s citizens – once again. Trump, long a critic of escalating our involvement, saw images of those children and something got through to him. The immense weight of being President, perhaps? Being the man who commands the tip of the spear. The awesome responsibility to act in a manner that befits the office.
My take? He passed this first test with flying colors. With Bannon in retreat and McMasters in firm control now, perhaps we’ll see a deeper retreat from the destructive course the alt-right seems certain to otherwise hold him to.
The House Republican Investigation into RussiaGate has stalled, and my guess is that’s more by design than accident. That Devin Nunes, a Trump loyalist, was ever put in charge of this inquiry is a sad comment on the state of the Republican Party. We need words like “impartial” and “independent” when the country faces an existential threat from a potent adversary, yet the Republicans continue to play their favorite game: Party over Country, time and time again, and even with his recusal another partisan hack has stepped into the breech. Where’s Howard Baker when we really need him. No, this isn’t your father’s Republican Party, and there are signs of hope, but too many mainstream Republicans are embracing Putin’s ‘New World Order.’ This new, rough beast is slouching towards Bethlehem as blindly as Putin could have hoped, enabling a ‘useful idiot’ with match in hand, all Putin needs to set our world ablaze.
So, is RussiaGate all just coincidence run amok? Hardly possible Trump knew about all this, you say? Read this for a look into the web of intrigue surrounding new developments that spring up every day.
Or what about Bannon’s ouster from the NSC? Is this really a war within the White House, a war between Bannon and the Nationalists vs the Goldman Globalists? Troubling question as we head into the first phase of Trump’s alleged realignment.
Then take the Gorsuch nomination, and all the bleating hysteria coming from Republican offices this week, which sounds like ‘Democrats are the cause of all this “nuclear option” talk.’ Well, does the name Garland ring any bells? Does taking a dump all over the Constitution and Senate rules come to mind? No, apparently not. Republicans cloak their mendacious, pernicious and, in the end, overtly cynical power-grab in all sorts of mind-blowing hypocrisy. Then they blame it all on Democrats. As in: SSDD = same shit different day. If the formula works don’t mess with it, so of course they triggered the nuclear option and set the Senate down the same dysfunctional path they’ve managed to create in the House. If nothing else, Republicans are doing Putin’s work for him. Obstruct, lie, create a new, alternate reality and move on. John McCain seems to be the last Republican to realize what’s going on, too. We know what Trump thinks of McCain, of course. Blame, blame, blame…’my heroes are the pilots who didn’t get shot down.’
Like Syria. Assad gases his own people in the worst chemical attack in the Syrian civil war, and who do Trump & Co blame in the run up to their attack? Obama. The Democrats. Of course, Trump’s been following the same tactical line in Syria that Obama did – and he has to unless he wants to commit US troops to another mindless, protracted religious proxy war – yet Obama’s strategy was one most of his generals wanted. Hypocrisy? Oh, heaven forbid! Just play to the base, blame it all on “that African-American” (insert the N-word if you want a full taste of Republican thinking) and everything else is just smoke and mirrors. Move along here, folks, no such things as facts anymore. Just put those news reports out of your mind…and remember, Reporters are your Enemy.! Truth is what we tell you it is!
But, enough of that. There are other things happening “out there” – some good, some not so good, and some just downright interesting in their implications.
Take, for instance, a semi-tractor trailer rig that traveled up Interstate 25 this week, carrying a load of beer from Colorado Springs to Ft Collins. Earth shaking news, right? Well, it was an earth shaking event. Know why? That’s right, the 18-wheeler was driverless. This news is anecdotal, too, as it wasn’t heavily publicized. Word reached me at my monthly Wednesday night tequila bash by way of a visiting Peterbilt exec. Long haul truck drivers take note: you better start looking for another line of work. You got about 5-8 years before your job is gone, first out west, then increasingly in the crowded Northeast Corridor. Trucking will increasingly be a hub and spoke operation too, with driverless long haul rigs running between regional distribution centers, where manned, much smaller rigs will complete local deliveries. Expect trains to re-emerge in this marketplace more heavily too. That’s the inside line, and you heard it here first. Well, maybe third.
So, about those Wednesday nights…well, once a month a bunch of old hands who’ve been involved in government one way or another get together for Carne Asada and Margaritas at a quaint old Mexican place in Steamboat, and there we compare notes and solve all the world’s problems in two hours and thirty seven minutes. We blow off steam, drink tequila, talk politics, drink tequila – and well, you get the picture, as long as that picture includes lots of tequila. Good group, too. My neighbor, the ex-Carter administration lawyer, a former NSC staffer in the Reagan White House, a retired ten term Republican congressman who now runs a transsexual escort service in Oak Creek… Odd group, very partisan make-up, but a very intelligent group of men. No women would dare join us, even if we begged them to, so that takes care of that. We had a chap from Australia sit in one night recently too, and the poor guy had never had tequila before. This hole in the wall has nice 30 ounce maggies, and this guy tossed the first one down like Gatorade on a hot summer afternoon. Within minutes a second one disappeared, then a third, and a fourth. Then the bloke tumbled into the restroom and went all Linda Blair on us in there. Very embarrassing. I thought Aussies could hold their liquor, but apparently not. I, for my part, went in and took a few pictures of him in action. I told him I plan to send him a new image every year on his birthday. I think he’s looking forward to my death.
Of course Trump dominates these discussions, as he has for over a year now, but Trump is the one thing that unites our little group, too. A year ago everyone hated Trump, ridiculed the very idea he could win, yet I was the lone hold out, thought his winning not only possible, it was likely. The old hands scoffed. What possible reason could you have to say that, they asked? Well, says stupid ole me, you underestimate the depth of anger in this country. Bosh – bah, humbug – no way. Still, our group is still united around the idea of Trump. He represents, to us, the end of the first phase of America, the first 240 years. What comes after is still anyone’s guess, but by the time Trump gets through with his demolition of the DC establishment, notably the Department of State, things will never be the same. Things will be less safe, less sane, and a whole lot more unpredictable, and it all comes back to that anger thing. Everyone is angry. Like long haul truck drivers are about to become angry.
Problem is: anger and clear thinking are rarely used in the same sentence. And we are generally correct about where angry thinking leads: Chaos and Confusion. Except word leaking out from staffers in the Trump White House is that Paranoia reigns supreme around those august water coolers. Like deja vu all over again, folks. The ghost of Nixon’s Past, come by for another little visit.
Many in our group are coming to another tequila-soaked conclusion: this country, perhaps life on earth, is one little miscalculation away from “some serious shit.” And with all that’s going on in and around our world, part of our group of old hands, the moderate Republican establishment part, sees one common denominator: China.
China, playing the long game, they say, working towards global dominance. Russia, Syria, the South China Sea. China is there, behind the scenes. Central America, West Africa, all over the Middle East – there’s China, soft selling a neo-capitalist version of Maoist revanchism. Kill the colonialists who dominated China for hundreds of years. Kind of a Freudian thing going on too, I think, but hell, tequila does that – just before you get dizzy and the room starts to spin.
China is dependent on Middle East Oil the way we were in the 60s. So, what do you think would happen if major instability engulfed, say, Iran, one of China’s biggest oil and gas suppliers. Why was the Iran nuclear deal so important? Well, it’s output is vital to one country: China. And China has bought off more politicians in our Congress than any other country, right Mitch? What about that wifey of yours? All those weird shipping deals you managed to sweep under the rug? Is that why she made it into Trumps cabinet?
Here’s the fly in your ointment, Mitch. What happens when Israel has had enough of your duplicity. Do they launch pre-emptive strikes against a whole range of targets throughout the Middle East, turn Iran into a glassed over parking lot? What does China do then? Or, say, what happens when someone in Washington kind of ‘wink-nods’ to Israel and hints ‘now’s the time to take out Tehran.’ Does Xi move on Taiwan then? Does Xi tell the fat kid to rattle a few sabers, maybe cross the DMZ and march for Seoul? It’s getting complicated, isn’t it, Mitch?
At any rate, I think it odd that these moderates see China as more dangerous than Putin. Their position is closer to the alt-right’s lead, the ‘civilizational threat’ model posed by Islam tied to global dominance of China through trade. Yeah, maybe, but Putin has his finger on the trigger. Xi poses a threat but not quite like a man in your house pointing a gun in your face.
So now Trump is making noises about Assad and Syria, like he’s got ‘all options on the table’ again (this seems to be his all-purpose bluff these days, doesn’t it?), yet after this attack Putin is not going to be happy with his puppet. Also, as Syria is Iran’s proxy in this whole Sunni-Shia mess, and if Trump plays escalatio with Damascus, what happens if that draws Iran in deeper. Say Iran decides to lob one at Tel Aviv in retaliation? Then what? This is high stakes poker, and Trump appears to be in way over his head. Yet with the military asserting control – call it a passive coup, perhaps? – our ability to handle these matters improved. Talk about a double edged sword.
And the real cup of fat: the Russians and Chinese signed kind of NATO thing of their own a few years ago, kind of a ‘if someone attacks you we’ll attack them’ kind of thing. How fast can things spiral out of control WHEN Trump has effectively killed off the one institution that could keep things sane, e.g., the Department of State.
Speaking of webs. Did you read all that stuff about Eric Prince of Blackwater acting as intermediary between Trump and the Russians during the transition? It’s kind of odd, too. The timing of things. The tit-for-tat. Like Eric Prince’s sister? Betsy De Vos, our new education secretary. The one with no experience in education? You didn’t know she’s his sister? And that Blackwater has what is essentially the largest standing army on American soil? Because it’s tentacles run into the heart of the American military, where does the center of power really reside? And wow! – the sister of a quasi-Amerikan über-monster is now in charge of shaping the hearts and minds of all our little children? Any idea what the military’s opinion of all this is? Well, read this one.
Try Nexxium. Works for me.
So I listen to that quote from Rachel Maddow, about all her clown-car presumptions and I’m here to tell you, she’s just way off base. Chaos and confusion, yes, but not unplanned. Cooler hearts and minds than ours are watching now, looking over plans placed in action decades ago, watching as things fall into place.
Big change coming, folks. Get out of stocks now. If you want to do research on buying opportunities, look at basic industries like tool & die manufacturers. This country will have to go, a la 1941, from fat, lazy service industries to hard corp industrial mobilization – just to keep the lights running and food on the shelves. That’s where the smart money is going these days. The smart money is betting on collapse, so what does that tell you about your retirement portfolio? About what lies ahead?
Maybe the warning wind is about to blow itself out. And that what comes next promises to be a real show-stopper.
(insert a military chorus humming Onward Christian Soldier right about here)
So, in the gnews. But first, what’s in a picture?
So, just who is this charming looking troll?
Next month’s centerfold from the Journal of Ufology?
The picture of a man-troll who just went down on a porcupine?
I don’t know, folks. This one eludes me. It can’t be Trump, because look at that hair. It’s red. Recent pictures of our befuddled leader show precariously white hair. Like something is happening to the old boy real fast. Kind of like the sturm und drang of leading the free world ain’t nothing like being a real estate developer? Golly, his daughter’s only worth 740 million. The poor guy.
The LA Times editorials are worth reading, as they encapsulate our uncertain zeitgeist quite nicely. Here’s a bit from part 1:
“In a matter of weeks, President Trump has taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they are not reversed, will rip families apart, foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the calamitous effects of climate change and profoundly weaken the system of American public education for all.
“His attempt to de-insure millions of people who had finally received healthcare coverage and, along the way, enact a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich has been put on hold for the moment. But he is proceeding with his efforts to defang the government’s regulatory agencies and bloat the Pentagon’s budget even as he supposedly retreats from the global stage.”
The link will take you to part one, and you can follow the trail from there.
One other thought: the whole God thing seems to underly much of Republican thinking these days, but really, what’s this whole God thing all about? Well, here’s a lucid examination of the ideas linking God and political authoritarianism. Below, the opening paragraph of an interesting article:
“Of all humanity’s eccentricities, religion could very well be the most baffling. Even though no one has produced a fleck of evidence for the existence of the gods, people will engage in repetitive, often taxing behaviours, under the impression that some ethereal being out there knows and cares. And regardless of whether or not they believe, many thoughtful people have burned considerable numbers of calories trying to unravel the mystery that is God’s mind and the implications it has for, quite literally, everything.”
The political walls closing in on Trump? That’s one way of looking at it. Former RNC Chair Steele telling clients to prepare for President Pence? That’s another way of looking at things. Captain Sulu running against Nunes? Uh-huh, another way of looking at our changing world.
But “follow the trail of dead Russians?” In America? Well, only in Trump’s America. And yes, this is a headline from CBS news.
But what about the other America, the real America. Remember, back in the day, when Wal*Mart used to proudly advertise all their goods were Made in American? Been in a Wal*Mart lately? Even the hamburger meat comes from South America, or parts do, anyway. Still, things are about to get even more interesting. Enter: Amazon.
Another symptom of our times? How about cops getting armed drones. Sound far fetched? Well, don’t move to Connecticut anytime soon.
What is a hypersonic missile, and why should you care? Read on, carefully.
The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), America’s futuristic new aircraft carrier, will finally hit the open water for sea trials this week, and equipped with everything from a new, rapid fire catapult system that replaces the old steam system to missile systems and new hanger deck options, she’s something to behold. Looks different, too. Handsome. Worth a read if interested in these things, which I still am, but hypersonic missiles will make these beasts vulnerable. New arms race, anyone?
Oh, here’s a fun one about flying the A-10 Warthog. From a woman’s perspective.
“PHILADELPHIA—Visibly trembling as he wiped beads of perspiration from his forehead, Arcelis Pharmaceuticals CEO Paul Corrier told reporters Wednesday that he could stop profiting off the nation’s opioid crisis anytime he wants. “Getting these lethally addictive drugs into the hands of vulnerable communities across the country is just something I do from time to time for a little profit—I can drop it whenever I choose,” said Corrier, clawing at his sweat-drenched shirt as he insisted he could “quit in a heartbeat” if generating billions in revenue by misleading the public about the dangers of opioids ever got out of hand. “Sure, every now and then I’ll launch an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at getting doctors to overprescribe fentanyl sprays, but it’s honestly not a big deal. Seriously, it’s fine. Just because I’ll occasionally partake in making money off the devastation wrought by drugs hundreds of times more potent than morphine doesn’t mean it controls me.” At press time, Corrier had collapsed in a boardroom meeting and was choking on his own tongue after hearing the projected profit margins for a secondary medication used to treat opioid-related insomnia.” from The Onion (who else?)
Is there a common theme between Trump and Brexit? Read on, right here.
So, just how pernicious is racism in America, and perhaps, the world. One measure might be found in comic books. Marvel has recently introduced more minority superheroes, but how has the reception been to these changes? Surprising? No, not really, but read on for another glimpse inside our not-so-surprising world.
What would you do if you found out someone with your name and birthdate lived just a few miles away. And that this doppelgänger of yours was racking up traffic tickets and driving with a suspended license – and that the fallout was slamming into YOU. Interesting story with an unexpected ending.
At any rate, the tenor of the news these days is unlike anything I’ve seen during my lifetime. Even at the height of Watergate the sense of impending doom was never so troublingly strong, nor so pervasive. Recent polls by Pew, taken before the Syrian missile attacks, put Trumps approval at 35%, with a clear majority, in the mid-50s, saying that Trump is simply an embarrassment. Post missile attack polls will be interesting: my bet is Trump’s approval rating will jump to the mid-40s, and he’ll be seen as more ‘presidential’ in the aftermath. He should, too. I hope he reflects on the past two months a bit and changes course.
As I’ve said, in my mind the Trump phenomenon is all about anger – the long-haul truck driver’s anger, but I guess Hate is the real word at work here. As when Yoda said: Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, hate leads to the Dark Side. Well, we’re there, folks. The empire has struck back. Where do we go from here?
On the writing front, I’m taking a rest, taking care of some medical things the next few weeks. Working on Elemental Mysteries when I can, but it won’t be much. Don’t expect three stories a week…okay?