Point of View Columns

War is No Game

In the military, efficiency is based upon training, practicing and training and practicing. Some of that practice involves simulations of combat and those are called “war games”. However, it is clear to anyone and everyone connected to the military that war is not a game.

That particular wisdom has not seeped into the American bunker also known as the Trump White House. It appears that Trump and his enablers, particularly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, have concocted an international policy modus operandi that entails threats and faux confrontations, goading and threatening adversaries and then stepping back from the brink of actual confrontation and combat….just…. in…. time.

But if anyone seriously thinks that tightrope diplomacy is a good thing in these days and times of instantaneous communications and response, they also think that dancing on active airplane runways is a good thing.

What is most disturbing in the recent near-clashes with Iran is that there are people in the Trump administration who think that a war with Iran is a viable option and that it is “winnable”, whatever that means. Even more disturbing is that some of these people are the same people who said that a war with Iraq was “winnable” and that a war in Afghanistan was a viable option.

How these advisors can be credible after a trillion dollars of expense and the loss of life of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children is a wonder in an of itself. One would think that John Bolton and his running partners – like Mike Pompeo and Liz Cheney – should be banned from ever advising anyone about anything, much less advising the President of the United States on matters involving war and peace.

Mike Pompeo is graduate of West Point and served in the Army for five years. He never went near a combat theater and left the military to pursue a career in business and politics. John Bolton was eligible for the draft during the tail end of the war in Vietnam and joined the National Guard as a way of assuring that he would not have to go into combat. Research does not indicate any military service by Liz Cheney.

So the three loudest voices in favor of military action against Iran have never been in combat and have avoided combat when there was any opportunity to do so (Pompeo could have re-enlisted in participated in Desert Storm, the war in Afghanistan and the 2003 war in Iraq). They are certainly intellectually capable of understanding the human and financial costs of war, but they ignore these costs so as to support a world view that could turn apocalyptic in a literal nanosecond.

It almost seems that these pseudo-war hawks look at war as being part of some great global game where they get to play Masters of the Universe. But in fact, they are playing with the lives of Americans and men, women and children all over the world. And if they think for even a brief moment that America is not vulnerable to a counterattack by Iran then they clearly have managed to erase 9/11 from their collective memories.

But Americans in New York and Washington remember 9/11. Americans who are in veteran’s hospitals suffering from PTSD and countless other injuries and disabilities remember the cost of war. And if these pseudo war hawks think that bombing Iran today and North Korea tomorrow will make America safe they are either stupid or deranged or both.

America and Americans have interests all over the world – therefore we are vulnerable all over the world. No American city will be safe in the event of another conflagration along the lines of an Iranian war. No American who travels anywhere in this world will be safe at a time when America is at war with the world.

Trump has shown some signs of baseline intelligence and common sense by calling off a missile strike against Iran – 15 minutes prior to launch. How close did we come to Trump Induced Trauma throughout the world, we may never know.

But Trump cannot continue to play with fire without America getting burned.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Trump Has No Sense of Decency

On June 9th, 65 years ago, the United States was awash with the stench and slime that was the result of Senator Joseph McCarthy‘s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation – a true Salem-style witch hunt for Communists in every nook and cranny. As the abuse and human wreckage mounted, Joseph Welch, who was counsel to the United States Army in these hearings, confronted the beast that was McCarthy as he endeavored to destroy the life and career of yet another witness and stated – “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” And that question marked the beginning of the end of the American nightmare that was McCarthyism.

We fast forward 65 years and we get to witness Trump attending D-Day 75th anniversary ceremonies. As Roger Cohen of the New York Times pointed out, someone almost certainly had to tell Trump that the D in D-Day did not stand for “Donald”. And it was during a pause in these solemn ceremonies that Trump was interviewed by Fox News in the actual cemetery where thousands of American soldiers are buried. And it was in that hallowed and sacred space that Trump saw fit to ignore the sacrifice and sadness of the venue and instead launch yet another infantile, brainless attack on one of his political enemies – this time it was Nancy Pelosi.

Somehow, there is not even a shred of decency or self-awareness in this man for him to recognize that the D-Day ceremony at the U.S. military cemetery at Normandy was not the place for him to engage in school yard catcalls and insults. The men and women who were buried just a few feet from his over privileged and pampered self deserved better than Donald Trump as President of the United States, and the same can be said for all Americans.

There are multiple partisan and philosophical divisions in this country. There have always been multiple partisan and philosophical divisions in this country. There will always be multiple partisan and philosophical divisions in this country. But with Trump there is something different going on.

The normalization of nasty and disgusting is there for all to see. The ordinariness of stupidity and lying is now part of the national atmosphere. The consistency of error and stubborn adherence to ignorance is the new normal. And then there is the racism, always bubbling beneath the surface of his self-proclaimed outsize persona, his blisters bursting and oozing slurs, invective, dog whistle stereotypes and more flammable fuel for the tiki torches that may one day light his way to his own personal, custom made hell, complete with his name in lights for eternity.

Of course there is the misogyny and sexism and dissolute frat boy attitude towards women that seeps into his rhetoric and even worse, into the governmental policies that he supports. But the fact that he thinks that demeaning the appearance (or “energy”) of a female critic provides meaningful insight into how he could easily look at any woman as either an object for his enjoyment or a target for his cruelty.

The nativism, white supremacy, xenophobia and slavish worship of stupidity goes so far beyond politics and policy it is almost as if Trump is some kind of alien from a planet that destroyed itself many eons ago – kind of like Krypton. Except that instead of Superman we got Trump.

The American people deserve better than Trump. The people of this planet deserve an American president that is better than Trump. Every day that he is in office he represents a moment that is pregnant with disaster. Every time he tweets he reveals new depths in that subterranean morass of unintelligible logic and just plain dumbness that serves as his brain. And every time he speaks he manages to recycle old lies while weaving horrific fantasies that clearly seem to hypnotize his so-called base.

The thing is, his base deserves more than the thin gruel of lies and moronic imagining that he serves them. Certainly all of the American people deserve more. His normalization of the basest of instincts and the worst of behaviors is not normal and never should be.

And finally, sometime soon someone, somewhere must address this question to Trump, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”, and that will mark the beginning of the end of our national nightmare.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Trump is Only the Symptom and Impeachment is Not the Cure

I have been writing Point of View columns for the past decade and if you were to choose to review some of those columns you will find some very real consistency when it comes to The Matter of Donald J. Trump. First, I have always tried to usefully express my disdain, dislike, disapproval and total absence of respect for anything and everything Trump – long before he became president and certainly during every minute of every hour of every day of his presidency. And I cannot imagine anything that Trump can say or do change my Point of View.

Second, even a cursory review of my columns over the past years will reveal ongoing expressions of concern regarding the growth, proliferation and embedding of right wing of the right wing visions of this country going into the ascendancy. The white backlash in this country predates Trump and will be with us long after he descends into that special brimstone subterranean golf course that awaits him. This backlash, which belongs almost exclusively to a significant and meaningful segment of white America is not only race-based, it is also misogynistic, xenophobic, tax averse and cross-eyed crazy about limiting the power of government to help people.

Donald Trump certainly has found a way to give a voice to those who perceive themselves to be voiceless and fear the loss of their white supremacy and their male domination and that their brave new world that will be more brown than white, more female than male and more embracing of difference. Trump has adapted his voice to be profane, vulgar, ignorant and totally devoid of fact, science, knowledge or logic. And there are over 50 million men and women who would vote for him today knowing all that we know about his corruption, his lies, his disgraceful behavior and sheer meanness.

The point is, that if somehow Trump were to be impeached his Republican enablers in the Senate would simply never convict him, so he will never be removed from office by that mechanism. And the further point is that if the Democrats spend the time and energy and effort to impeach him by “proving” his high crimes and misdemeanors in detail, Trump will turn impeachment into a badge of honor and his supporters will swarm to the polls to save their savior.

And even with a successful impeachment, Democrats will provide history with a textbook example of a pyrrhic victory by succeeding with the impeachment process but diminishing their own supporters who will be exhausted and demoralized when they see Trump still in office – and – in the process mobilizing Trump’s “base”. The result being four more disastrous years of a Trump presidency.

It may be better to reveal his high crimes and misdemeanors through investigations and hearings and using the results of those proceedings as talking points for the twenty plus three Democratic presidential candidates.

It is important to change the narrative that Trump currently controls. Impeachment is simply not the solution as tantalizing as that piece of poison fruit might be. Changing hearts and minds is more difficult, but it is the answer.

Standard