The Presidency is not for Amateurs


Until the most recent presidential election, this country has never had a president who had absolutely no experience working within the government. Lincoln is the closest be he did hold a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives and was a captain in the state’s militia. Trump, however has had no such experience what-so-ever and it is beginning to show in spades.

Our country has had several presidents who held no previous elective offices but all were army generals. Two, Polk and Grant, were no good as president and served just a single term. But even they had some understanding of the nuances of governing. Historically, flag officers, generals and admirals, have had to deal with politicians if only to promote a part of the military needing funding or other political favor. As an aside, of the 44 individuals who have served as president, only 13 had no military service. But of those 13, FDR had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and William Howard Taft served as Secretary of War.

In the 19th Century and into the beginning of the 20th Century, our country was isolationist. We were far more worried about what was happening on the home front than on being a force, either economically of militarily, on the world scene. World War 1 brought us part way out of that malaise, and World War 2 ended any lingering effects of isolationism. The United States had become a world leader first militarily and then economically. And since 1945, our responsibilities in both areas have steadily increased to where the rest of the world, even those countries who do not like us, look closely at what we do. This is particularly true of our economic and military partners.

President Trump just showed on the world’s stage how ill-suited he is for the job of president. He took a victory lap for landing a billion-dollar military deal claiming it will mean jobs for Americans. It may mean a few jobs, but the truth is, the contracts will be for equipment American companies are already producing and those companies are not likely to find the need to add many, if any, new employment positions. But Trump missed the more important deal to be had. Saudi Arabia flatly refused to put sanctions on ISIS groups existing within its own borders. Trump’s move was to leave the country with no military deal. For all his bluster about getting tough on ISIS, when the first chance for him to back up his rhetoric, he cowered. He seemed to forget that Saudi Arabia needs us more than we need it.

We live in an extremely dangerous world. There is no shortage of governments who want to take shots at the United States. Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and a number of other countries are not our allies and each has been known to give aid to terrorists. And while we have been able to clamp down on Iran and have decent trade pacts with China, neither of these countries would come to our aid.

The middle east is likely to remain unstable for years, if not decades, to come. Extremist groups in middle eastern and central Asia are not likely to be neutralized any time soon as can been seen in Afghanistan. But a more present danger lies in North Korea. The North Korean leader seems hell-bent on creating a war in his region. The peace that has been experienced on the Korean peninsula has been a tenuous one at best since 1953. One of our staunchest allies is South Korea but even with the tensions that exist there now, President Trump has not seen fit to schedule a visit. Why?

Not far from Korea is a long-time friend we are fast losing, the Philippines. I had the chance to talk to a well-educated Filipino recently and he informed me that even though his country has begged the United States for assistance militarily, none has been given. There is an insurgency in that country that if successful would put the Philippines at odds with U.S interests. My fear is that since the Philippines do not present the military or economic power to gain front page news, something negative will happen there if we do not treat them respectfully, recognize their difficulties and work with them for a resolution.

The Presidency is not place for amateurs and yet that is exactly what we have there now. He has surrounded himself with his billionaire friends who also have no government experience. The American people should consider this to be a most troubling of the Trump regime. Is difficult to navigate a mine field when you know what you are doing and impossible when you do not.

Despotic Donald: The Ultimate Narcissist


Let me start by telling you that I have over 30 years of service in the federal government, am now retired.  I spent the first almost 11 years of that service as a member of the U.S. Army on active duty: 1968 – 1979.  Then from 1987 – 2007 I was a systems analyst/computer specialist for the U.S. Department of transportation.  I mention this to validate what I know from experience within the government.

I have listened very carefully to Donald Trump and two things occur to me, both scary.  He is an absolute narcissist.  A narcissist cannot image that anything he says or does is wrong.  He believes that he is always misunderstood when people try to correct him.  But worst of all, a powerful narcissist, as Trump is, feels he can do just about anything with impunity; he believes he is above the law, that he has certain privileges that set him apart from most everyone else.  And as a despot, he wields his power without an sense of responsibility when things go wrong.  In his case, he does not feel stiffing people their wages when his companies went belly up is wrong.  And just last night (September 26), he thought the fact that he did not have to pay any income tax on over $600 million income meant he was smart.  Those were his words actually.  Had he paid only the 14% tax rate most of the middle class pays, he would have paid $84 million.  Don’t you think some school systems, some public health agencies, some poor municipality could have used that money?  It makes me wonder just how much income over the years he has paid nothing on.  And in that same sense, how many others do the same?  But that’s another subject.

Trump stated last night that he had been endorse but the Federal Agency ICE.  That is a very interesting statement since no agency, by law, can endorse or engage in any political activity.  And to do so would require action from that agency’s inspector general with possible criminal charges.  Every year I worked for the federal government I was required to attend ethics training and that is one subject, particularly during election years, that was emphasized.  It is a prohibited action.  I think more likely he got some official to say he is support Trump in his run.  But that official cannot say those words publicly as a member of ICE for to do so would “give the appearance of a conflict of interest,” very damning situation in the government.

Trump was born June 14, 1946 which means he was required in 1964 to register for the draft.  Curiously when he registered he was a student at the New York Military Academy, a military prep school.  I too went to a military prep school and I can tell you with certainty that a very large portion of my classmates went into the military.  We had 10 out of a class of 69 who went to one of the service academies, several others went to Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel.  We had a feeling of duty to our country.

Trump, like so many, got a college deferment while he attended Fordham University and after 2 years transferred to Penn.  That means he graduated in 1968, the height of the Vietnam war.  He did not continue on to grad school and probably would not have gotten a deferment had he, the exceptions were medical school and theological studies.  We know he is neither Dr. Donald nor Rev. Donald, so how did he avoid military service.  He was not married until 1977 so that was not it either.  He was quite the patriot!  What he was doing during the early 70s was using his family money to buy real estate, housing mainly.  It was also the first time, of many, that he was charged with “anti-black bias” in a suit brought by the Dept. of Justice.  In turn he filed suit against the federal gov’t for $100 million because he said the gov’t was trying to force him to rent to welfare recipients.  Contrary to what Trump said last night, the affair ended 2 years later when he settled with the DOJ.  The narcissist looks back upon such incidents and claims no wrong doing, no fault, no responsibility, and states he was innocent of anything said against him even when the facts show the opposite.  He cannot see such facts because they do not suit the narcissistic mind.

One of the strong-holds of the Republican Party has traditionally been the military.  Trump claims to have been endorsed by over 2o0 admirals and generals.  Why have we not seen this list?  You would certain want such a list front and center to prove your validity as Commander-in-Chief.  I suspect he had 2 or 3.  I noticed time after time during the debate Trump’s penchant for speaking in hyperbole.  And since he refuses to show proof, then hyperbole of the worst kind it is then.  Our military is literally tired from all the wars it has been forced to fight.  They are war weary.  But if you listen to Trump, it takes no imagination at all to see he is hell-bent on starting a war somewhere.  He thinks that is the was to kill of ISIS, and other undesirable elements.  Trump will probably still get a large portion of the military vote but it is unlikely he will get the 90% most Republican candidates have enjoyed over the years.  It is very difficult to have confidence in a commander-in-chief who has absolutely no military or government service experience.  And as an aside, if elected, he would be the first president to have neither.

There is one thing all president over the past 50 plus years have understood implicitly.  They knew you dealt with friends and enemies both via diplomacy.  The military necessarily is the last resort, when all forms of diplomacy have failed, AND, you are under attack.  Trump definitely does not understand this.

The man is dangerous and I am at a loss for what people see in him as a realistic leader, as someone who will keep our country safe and do what is best for the country, not what suits him.

 

 

The Evil That Is Donald Trump


Every four years we have an election for the office of President of the United States. For over 150 years we have had one Republican, one Democrat and always someone from other smaller parties. Some of those from smaller parties made people extremely uneasy because their world view seemed so skewed from the norm. But we never feared the American Communist Party or the American Fascist Party would be able to win even a single state let alone the presidency itself. This year’s election cycle, however, has changed all that with the rise of Donald Trump.

That Trump’s ego is so large is of no surprise to anyone. But he has shown us sides of himself which should scare all Americans. He is absolutely a misogynist, xenophobic and a racist. We can live with his arrogance but his blatant lack of fairness and decency is so totally lacking it is almost incomprehensible how he is leading the Republican party in delegates and is likely to get the Republican nomination in spite of the best efforts of the Republican National Committee to derail him.

But this brings into focus a much larger and more ominous question, what does this say about the millions upon millions of Americans who have voted for him thus far? It is impossible they have missed those parts of Trump’s campaign that most of us find offensive. We have always thought of ourselves as Americans as being ultimately fair in all things. But Trump’s campaign has moved that into doubt.

What’s next? Next I think will be the Republican leadership running a candidate, likely Kasich of Ohio. It will split the conservative ticket and likely guarantee the Democrats a November victory. Why would they do this? To maintain as much of a good image as is possible. And to maintain control of Congress. Were Trump to be elected, he would likely so polarize Americans that moderate Republicans would likely migrate towards Democrat politicians.

But American urgently needs to do a gut check in the form of a personal inventory. Just how racist are we? And are we so xenophobic that the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty just that, words?

Although Trump has brought out the worst in us, I still believe that the vast majority of Americans are better than he is, that they are good and decent people who are neither racist nor xenophobic. While Americans may struggle to understand Islam, most bear it no ill will towards those of that faith and certainly do not want to exclude them from entering the U.S. I think it highly unlikely that Trump can be elected but when this election is over, Americans have their work cut out for them.

In our Declaration of Independence, it is stated in very exacting terms what our new country cannot tolerate and what we have to expect of ourselves. If we are to continue to be the leader of the free world, then we have to clarify our intentions towards that world. We must redouble our efforts in the areas of human rights, basic human needs, and fairness. We must make positions such as those expressed by Donald Trump to be unacceptable under any circumstance. We must hold ourselves to the highest of standards, set the bar extremely high, and we must make it more than just a little bit uncomfortable for those who would do otherwise.

America is greater and better than Donald Trump. Every few generations his ilk shows its ugly face and America has found a way to overcome them. I suspect such will be the case this time as well.

 

Dealing With ISIS


The terrorist attack on Paris is despicable, to say the least. The group that calls itself ISIS claims responsibility. Those are all the facts, there are no more. Politician in this country, and probably all others, debate what sort of response should be taken. The responses I have heard from politicians in this country have been anywhere from measured to outrageous.

The good thing about this country is we get to say whatever we believe and the government cannot restrict that. That works well until you enter the national and international arena. Once you find yourself on the national stage this wise response is always the measured response. Many of the Republican presidential candidates have made the decision that the best and only response the U.S. can make to terrorist attacks is by sending in the army. Such remarks are not only ill-considered but irresponsible.

Governor Christie has said he would send in the troops. Trump, Rubio and Bush have said as much. It is this kind of thinking that gets the United States into trouble over and over.

The military of the United States, and of any country, is an extension of that country’s political system. The two prime reasons for having a military is first to defend your country against those who attack you and second, to take the battle to those countries which present a real and present danger to your well-being. A secondary reason is going to an ally’s aid and defense.

That ISIS presents a real and present danger in the world is unarguable. ISIS, however, it not presently claimed by any country in particular nor has any country come out in support of ISIS. It is my belief that there is not a country in the middle-east, North Africa, southeastern Europe, the Balkans and probably all of central Asia which does not have a contingent of ISIS living within its borders. This makes attacking ISIS problematic, at the least, because of where it exists. For example, ISIS probably exists substantially in Lebanon and Lebanon borders Syria. Right now, neither of those countries have invited the U.S. inside its borders.

Former President Bush used the pretense of weapons of mass destruction the attack Iraq. We now know for fact that we were fed half-truths and absolute lies when the real motivation was to remove Saddam Hussein from power. I only mention that to pre-empt the idea of entering Syria to eradicate ISIS, and oh by the way, we remove Assad from power.

Right now the only nation that has an iron clad reason to attack ISIS with troops on the ground is France, and so far they have shown no desire to do such. Why? Because they probably realize that their chances of successfully destroying the entire central leadership of ISIS with infantry is minimal at best. And even if France were to decide to use ground troops, I think anything beyond existing NATO agreements and UN agreements is unwise. And anything beyond logistical support would be going too far. And that logistical support would exist only in Iraq in the Middle East.

The greatest threat ISIS is to the world now is mostly peace of mind. It is obvious that Europe has got to figure out a way, quickly, to secure its borders. The U.S. is already doubling down on its security, really the only thing we can do. The next right step the leadership of the world has to figure out is how to contain ISIS. For all the Middle Eastern countries this means they will have to use a combination of civil policing and military actions within their borders. For the U.S. this means we are going to have to secure the borders of both Afghanistan and Iraq. That may require additional infantry troops. Neither country is strong enough by itself to provide for its own security against the likes of ISIS.

The United States has a lot of experience in attempting to deal with an unseen enemy such as ISIS. That enemy was called the Viet Cong and the war, of course, was Vietnam. We failed miserably trying to root out the Vietcong with conventional military. ISIS is no different.

The bottom line is simple: we are already stronger than ISIS, we just need to be smarter than them to defeat them.