Christians under fire


Although Andrew Brunson called on Pres. Trump in Washington after leaving Turkey in a U.S. military plane, worldwide persecution of Christians has reached an all time high.

The former Christian missionary was arrested on bogus charges over alleged links to political groups, including the banned Gulenist movement after the failed coup attempt in 2016 against the Turkish Erdogan regime. Brunson spent two years in Turkish prisons.

But despite Brunson’s celebrated release, for the third year in a row, the persecution of Christians worldwide has hit another record high. Approximately 215 million other Christians experience high, very high, or extreme persecution with North Korea remaining the most dangerous place to be a believer

Islamic extremism is responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 34 other countries. And there is no equivalent counter movement by church groups in the U.S. and the West to oppose it.

In the West, persecution of Christians is an anti-establishment form but in Asia it is fueled by dramatic religious nationalism and government insecurity. Tottering governments aim to gain support by scapegoating Christians.

Persecution in the top 50 most dangerous countries increased, with the most violent occurred in Pakistan surpassing previous higher levels in northern Nigeria.

In “Open Doors” 2018 World Watch List (WWL), an annual ranking of the 50 countries where approximately 215 million Christians experience high, very high, or extreme levels of persecution, one in two Christians live where Christianity is “illegal, forbidden, or punished”.

Islamic extremism remains responsible for initiating oppression, a part of the Moslem embracing shari‘ah [Islamic religious] law. In Muslim-majority countries shari’ah is used to radicalize society, and in Muslim-minority countries to radicalize the Muslim communities.

The Roman Catholic Church has sought to negotiate tolerance from governments like the Chinese Communists who prosecute the religious, but particularly Christians.  Just how futile such negotiations and agreements may be is that while reports emerged that a long-awaited deal between China and the Holy See was imminent in early September, Beijing was shutting down Zion Church, a large house church in Beijing, and further tightening restrictions on sharing religious material online.

In fact, China is currently engaged in the worst crackdown on Christians in decades.

Asia News, the official press agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, reported authorities were “burning crosses on the bell towers, replacing them with the red flags of China; slogans praising the Party and the values of socialism are displayed on religious buildings, erasing sacred images that are considered too Western.”

Persecution of Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners also continues, and in Xinjiang up to a million Uyghur Muslims have been detained in “re-education camps”.

The crackdown in China’s most western areas is severe with Muslims detained without charge, sometimes for activities as simple as praying, wearing Islamic clothing, refusing to eat pork or drink alcohol, or reading the Koran. Families of those sent to re-education camps are not told where their relatives are being held or when they will be released. There is no access to legal counsel or the right of appeal.

Chinese Communists have always restricted religious activity. In the first three decades of communist rule it used violent tactics. But after the death of Mao and over the past 40 years, the policy was one of control rather than outright repression, and there were periods of relaxation in some areas.

However, Xi Jinping has pursued a severe crackdown on all human rights, including religious freedom, since he came to power in 2013. In March this year, it was announced that religious affairs would now be “Sinicized” by placing the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department in charge of them.

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The new NATO


Considered by many historians as the most successful alliance in history, the 89-year-old North American Treaty Organization has a new lease on life.
NATO’s largest war games in more than 16 years, the Trident Juncture exercise in Norway, Oct. 25-Nov. 10, will include more than 45,000 Alliance troops combining land, air and sea elements. It will include about 150 aircraft, more than 60 ships and 10,000 rolling or tracked vehicles. [The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group and its 6,000 service members will participate.] The U.S. had already increased its military presence in Norway in recent years by adding a quasi-permanent force of some 300 Marines with a planned doubling soon.

Although the exercise would take place more than 600 miles from Russia and NATO aircraft won’t be within 300 miles of the former Soviet Union, it’s no secret why the Alliance has again gone into high gear: Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, his continued support for armed dissidents in eastern Ukraine and his propaganda against the three Baltic states the Soviets once ruled, have again raised the spectacle of Russian aggression.

Meanwhile, the current Exercise comes after a contentious NATO summit in the summer when President Donald K. Trump threatened to withdraw American membership unless other members raised their contributions.

“I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening” about defense spending, he said. “And as a result, they are going to up it to levels like they have never thought it before. What they are doing are spending at a much faster clip,” he said.

NATO was established in 1949 for the purpose of providing collective security against Soviet expansion. Ten European nations signed on to the original agreement along with the United States and Canada. In signing the treaty, the original members agreed that “an armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all” to which each member would respond by taking “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.”

As of 2014, NATO’s collective agreement instructed member countries to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. According to NATO’s most recent report detailing members’ defense expenditures, only five countries currently satisfy that threshold: the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Latvia.

Trump in the heated closed-door session warned: “I can do whatever I want because this alliance has no legitimacy.” Trump was quoted telling the other delegates that “spending must be raised by January 2019 or the US would go it alone.”

But in subsequent public statements following the tiff, he said “… that the United States had not been treated fairly but now we are. I believe in NATO; NATO is now a fine-tuned machine,” he said.

As of June 2017, in NATO’s most recent estimate, only six nations met the 2 percent target for participants: the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland and Romania. Trump had demanded that members must double their defense spending to 4 per cent of GDP. He now claims “total credit” for other members raising their defense spending by $33bn last year and a big splurge allegedly due to come

Trump also tangled with Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel arguing she was beholden to Moscow over Berlin’s involvement in the Nord Stream gas pipeline project aimed at doubling Russia energy imports. The issue has become even more aggravated with the U.S. now potentially again an energy exporter with the enormous breakthrough in the development of shale oil and gas.
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The Kavanaugh scandal


It will be years before the full implications of the scandal surrounding the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court by President Trump are understood. Ironically, the structure of the scandal which has played out for weeks in political discussions and the media is relatively simple.

For despite accusations by opponents of the appointment, their grounds for opposition were bumptiously political and could not be justified in any measure by arguments about his extensive political and professional credentials. The arguments marshaled behind his principal opponent, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, have found no corroboration, even among her closest colleagues.

And those arguments by his critics were never factual. Sen. Susan Collins made a complete refutation of these charges in her very long and at times somewhat tedious refutation of the attack against Kavanaugh and her defense of his qualifications. Unfortunately, not an awful lot of people, even those interested in the case, are likely to have stayed with her during her hour and a half speech or read the text since.

There was never any question that Kavanaugh with his 28 years in the legal profession was qualified for a role as the 114th U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Rather, although it was rarely stated, his opponents in the Democratic Party and elsewhere opposed his candidacy because of his well known mainline conservative political opinions. They never questioned in any reasonable substance his qualifications. Rather their opposition was based entirely on innuendo and political intrigue.

In fact, the Democrats had denounced the list of his choices of candidates at the time Trump announced them in November last year, itself an unusual and remarkable effort for more transparency in the nominating process.

Some media have made comparisons between the current Kavanaugh scandal and the events surrounding Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy [R.] in the 1950s. It is true, of course, that innocents were named by McCarthy on the floor of the Senate where he could not be indicted, but the fundamental truth of the Wisconsin senator’s accusations of naiveté and infiltration of pro-Soviet and Communist counselors in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt were true. This unsophisticated view which even tough old Winston Churchill as well as FDR displayed at the 1943 Yalta Summit and other later international conferences of Josef Stalin’s motives led to the surrender of much of the Allied army’s gains and the subjugation of much of central and Eastern Europe to the Soviets for several post-World War II generations.

Also to bear in mind, that while his opponents opposed Kavanaugh strictly on ideological grounds, it would not be the first time were he to change his ideological approach through the test of time over the 25-30 years he would likely serve on the Court. [He is only 53. Our children might even see a Kavanaugh Court with the controversial figure as the chief justice!] The most notorious of such cases was Felix Frankfurter, whom FDR appointed to the Court in 1939 [serving to 1962] as a New Deal “activist” but who became a noted advocate of judicial restraint going to great lengths to avoid unpopular decisions, including fighting to delay court decisions against laws prohibiting racial intermarriage.

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Public vs. private morality


At a time when public policy appears to be in deep crisis, it is perhaps the moment again to return for help to the thinking and writing of Reinhold Niebhur, one of the 20th century’s most illustrious intellectuals and theologians.

Niebhur studied and wrote for more than 30 years about the intersection of religion, politics, and public policy. Like so many of his generation, although he started as a minister with working-class sympathies in the 1920s and shared with many of his fellow theologians a commitment to pacifism and socialism, his thinking evolved during the 1930s to neo-orthodoxy. Niebuhr battled with religious liberals over what he called their naïve views of the contradictions of human nature and the optimism of the Social Gospel, what he viewed as their naïve view of scripture and their narrow definition of “true religion”.

In an article over the issue over what is a just war — given the Western/Christian opposition to violence, a central theme in public discussion on the eve of World War II — Niebhur stresses “that in the final analysis, the individual conscience is the arbiter of ‘the just war’.” This pragmatic overall approach has the huge merit of simplicity in the face of changing crises. It accepts that individual criteria for argument are constantly in dispute and, perhaps more important, cannot be stated in the precise language that “legalism” would demand.

A good example is Adam Smith who called himself a “moral philosopher”. The separate field of “economics” didn’t exist in the eighteenth century. And the book he was proudest of wasn’t “The Wealth of Nations”, the work we know him by generally, but his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” — about the ties that bind people together into societies.

Applying his pragmatism, “Progressives” like Niebhur saved capitalism twice from its own excesses by appealing to public morality and common sense. In the early 1900s, when the captains for American industry had monopolized the economy into giant trusts, U.S. politics had sunk into patronage and corruption, and many factory jobs were unsafe — entailing long hours at meager pay and often exploiting children. In response, we enacted antitrust, civil service reforms, and labor protections.

And then again after the stock market collapsed in the 1930s and a large portion of the American workforce was unemployed, we set up regulations for banks and insured private banking deposits, cleaned up the stock market, and provided social insurance to the destitute.

Today when we are disputing the meanings of such words as “moral” and “immoral”, “practical” and “impractical”, “meaningful” and “insignificant”, it may be a time again to take stock of where we are. The project would be much more difficult since we are dealing with intangibles instead of the relatively hard concepts of those earlier successes.

Reforming, or indeed, organizing a vocabulary in any language would be extremely difficult. It is further complicated for some of us — Britishers and Americans — since our language, English, has become the universal instrument for communication between non-native, non-Anglo-American speakers who have often added words from their own native languages. We are thinking of [East] Indian English with its additions of words from the lingua francas in the Subcontinent, Urdu-Hindustani and Tamil, both of which have histories that predate English, the language of their 18th century conquerors.

But it seems to us that it may be time for scholars with the powers-that-be to put together some new authoritative body with semi-state status that will seek to sort out a new vocabulary for English, the international language, both as a vehicle for native English-speakers and the world at large using it as the most common intercommunication denominator.

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The President’s UN speech


While the United Nations remains crippled in so many ways as an effective international organization, it is the main forum for the expression of foreign policy issues among the nations.

And in a detailed and outspoken message, President Trump has used that forum to complete the public presentation of his announced Administration program.
Trump’s line is a new American nationalism, what he calls “America First” [unfortunately with the unhappy recollection of the same words used in the pre-World War II movement which included even pro-Nazi sympathizers].

But Trump emphasized that his promotion of American sovereignty in contrast to multinational aspirations not only was basic to his own program. He told his listeners that they, too, should uphold their own sovereignty. That should they do so with a kind of fairness he recommended for America’s international interests, thereby a balance of international power could be achieved.

President Trump came to the UN from a strong position:

Behind him was a huge American economy, a GDP of approximately $19.39 trillion, due to high average incomes, a population reaching toward 350 million, a new wave capital investment bringing in huge foreign investment, moderate unemployment, high consumer spending, a relatively young population, and the world’s leading technological innovation. Trump returned the U.S. to the UN, with an overwhelming economy — at a time when the rest of the world economy is dawdling — and its growing military with two record annual budgets of $17 and 17.6 billion.

In 1917 the U.S. economy represented a quarter of the global total economic activity [24.3 percent], according to World Bank figures. [China followed, with $11 trillion, or 14.8 percent of the world economy.]

Furthermore, that economy is currently roaring along at more 4 percent annual growth.

Trump reminded his listeners that the U.S. directly will contribute a quarter of the international organization’s budget. But its incidental assistance throughout the world is also an unacknowledged additional factor, perhaps more important than its cash contribution to its budgets.

The Trump speech was highly nuanced, not that different from the speech he has made repeatedly domestically, recently, but presenting an unexpectedly complete and frank a picture of the U.S. relationship to the international organization.

In a sense, the UN speech added the final details to the ambitious Trump foreign policy that has characterized the less than two years of his administration. Gone, except for its historical reference, are the eight years of “leading from behind” of two reluctantly pseudosophisticated international Obama Administrations.

This honest approach to the reality of the American position and its world leadership role can also only be a return to the world as it exists rather than any attempt to return to the modified position of “isolationism” dominant in the pre-World War II United States. It was, indeed, this attitude which encouraged the ravages of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe, Africa and Asia and the Japanese military in China and Southeast Asia, but which ultimately drew the U.S. into the world conflict.

And, without false modesty, Trump emphatically returned the U.S. to its acknowledged world leadership as champions of an alliance of the European democracies, Australasia, Japan, and India which it has occupied since the end of World War II. There was no mincing of this position and implications of the responsibility they lay on the U.S. and its leadership.

The President’s snafu


The snafu around the organization of the president’s office has reached monumental proportions.

It isn’t as though the table of organization isn’t clear. It is rather that the passage of time and use has led to contradictions that are now difficult if not impossible to resolve.

The conflict at the moment is concentrated in the office of the attorney-general.

First of all, the office of the attorney-general was created as the President’s lawyer, to be used by him politically in the way he uses other parts of the Administration. But as more personal counsel to the President has developed, and the activities of the Attorney-general have exploded, it has been seen in some quarters as a source of objective decision-making. It should not have been; it was originally conceived as just another part of the highly political and parochial office of the President.

In fact, the attempt to make the Office of the Attorney-general an independent and objective organization is in effect an attempt to create still a fourth branch of what the Founders laid out, in gross, as the Republic. We already have an independent judiciary in the courts system. And by an accumulation of the power to call legislation by the Congress or the States legislatures “unconstitutional” — something acquired but not written in the formal Constitution — the courts have firmly established what the Founders intended, a carefully balancing if sometimes bitter action among the three branches of government.

It was, indeed, this conception of government at independence and the formation of “the united states” that made this country from its inception unique and a new model for other governments — unsuccessful alas! for the most part — around the world.

Now, we have the “reformers” on “the side of the angels” increasing their drive to make the office of the Attorney General not a crass political function of the Presidency but another imitation of the objectivity of the courts system which already exists at both the federal and the state levels.

It is unlikely that this effort, underway for many decades if not now speeded up, is going to be halted and the office of the Attorney General left to its original concept as the legal adviser to the president. But it does mean that the once tidy little concept of a government of three distinct parts again is being eroded. And it is likely to become an even greater precedent for the independence of various “boards” and “commissions” which have grown so numerous in the federal and even the state governments. However, practical and efficient their activities, these administrative and legislative organizations are increasingly a threat to the founding principle of all government in the new country being directly or at least indirectly authorized by the citizens through their ballots for elected leadership and occasionally mandated law.

This threat is one that should become an increasing concern for those who believe that we are, indeed, constantly “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure”.

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Mission to Moscow


There are haunting echoes in the meeting Presidential National Security Advisor John Bolton has just completed in Moscow.

In another era, now just a hundred years ago, the U.S. and its Western allies made a deal with Moscow to oppose an even more threatening enemy, Nazi Germany and its growing rabble of fascist allies including Italy. That gave the Europeans and the Americans a short period of a phony war. But it was not to last.

Just as then, setting up a meeting between the leaders, this time President Donald Trump and Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin, it was a bitter compromise, swallowed with difficulty. Putin is no Josef Stalin, then Soviet absolute ruler the like of which the world had not seen. But Putin’s combination of political thuggery, he is after all is a graduate of the KGB, the Soviet/Russian secret police — including murder of political opponents — is not the only reminder.

Bolton said in the meeting he discussed “strategic stability in the world, control over nuclear weapons and, in general, a disarmament dossier.” A Russian spokesman said they also discussed the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, North Korea, and the Iran nuclear deal. Neither Bolton nor the Kremlin said whether he and Putin discussed Russia’s fumbling in American elections. Nor did either spokesman broach the subject of sanctions or the diplomatic spat between the U.S. and Russia which brought them to any negotiation at all.

Washington swallowed hard, and despite mumbled protests from its European allies, made a deal to ignore for the moment Russian Putin’s grab of Crimea, his support of armed pro-Moscow dissidents in Eastern Ukraine, and growing threats to its former captured nations in the Baltic.

Nor did anyone point to the leading figure offstage where so much of this was aimed: the Chinese Communists whose growing ambitions in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, pose a threat to both powers. But Beijing was very much a part of the international balance of power that was implied in any deal which may be coming out of a Putin-Trump Summit.

Dealing with Moscow meant Washington had to face the reality of an aggressor regime with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. And, until recently, Russia held a whip hand over the U.S. NATO allies in Europe by being a monopoly supplier of natural gas.

It’s a change here that may, if anything, offer hope of the U.S. coming to terms with Putin through bis eroding economic weapon.

Its new shale technology has made the U.S. again, for the first time since before World War II, a net exporter of energy. That plus access to Central Asia reserves — no longer the property of a Soviet Union — through new pipelines being built through Turkey and the Balkans – begin to erode the elements of Putin’s domestic claptrap regime.

Unlike his legendary forbear Stalin, he does not rule by terror alone, but through a combination of his own clever manipulation of an imitation of the Soviet bureaucracy and his alliance with oligarchic billionaires who have built their empires on the energy exports. It remains to be seen if the steadily enlarging European markets can accommodate all these providers. If they cannot, Trump’s temporary accommodation against China with Putin could usher in a period of unshaken international stability. But that would require, too, American pressure to reduce its own growing dependence on Chinese imports and markets.

Foolish optimism


There is a good deal of dangerously false thinking about results to be expected from the summit meeting between President Donald K. Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Kim presides over one of the world’s most cruel and inefficient regimes.

North Korea now lives off the bounty of its mineral resources swapped to China for food and other support. With the American and UN sanctions squeezing Pyongyang toward negotiations with Washington and its allies, 90 percent of its international trade is with China; the rest black market activities with such other fellow pariah states such as Iran.

The oft repeated formula that Kim would be ready to open his regime to economic development funded by the U.S., Japan and South Korea is much too glib. Kim’s North Korea is a police state with tens of thousands of political prisoners and the little freedom even known in its Chinese neighbor.

Political modification of the regime would have to come with a revolution, if a managed one. Managed revolutions are rare.

It is true, of course, that South Korea’s economy, now the fourth largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world, might offer a model for Pyongyang’s moderation. The South, after all, began its journey toward industrialization and modernization with only a surplus population as its only natural resource.

The North’s trove of mineral resources theoretically offers more opportunities as both the Japanese Occupation [1910-1945] development, and the current trade with China indicate. It is also true that South Korea began South Korea’s modernization under Park Chung-Hee, now seen as a dictator [from 1963 until his assassination in 1979].

But with hindsight we now see Park as a remarkable leader with his apprenticeship as an officer in Japanese Imperial military schools and his close relationship with the Japanese leader and longtime civilian manager, Nobusuke Kishi. Kishi was first the economic tsar for the Japanese military including during its occupation of Korea and then prime minister twice in U.S.-sponsored postwar Tokyo governments.

If there is a historical parallel we can look to — and all historical parallels are innately faulty — it is East Germany. By far the most efficient state in the former Communist bloc [not excluding the Soviet Union itself], it was nevertheless where the Soviet Empire began to unravel. Only with the total collapse of the East German state and the Soviet Bloc’s dependence on it that the end of the Communist Bloc came and the fall of the Soviet regime in Russia itself.

Kim will not be able to have it both ways. Either his personal dictatorship with all its repression inherited from his father and grandfather will have to go, or any attempt to build a modern economy — and not one drained of resources dedicated producing weapons of mass destruction — will fail.

Can that take place without a political explosion and the ouster of Kim himself? It seems unlikely that American, Japanese and South Korean generosity would be enough to absorb such revolutionary developments.

And what will be Beijing’s attitude toward such developments if they should occur, with the overall threat of Korean reunification hanging over the whole project? It is no secret that not only Beijing but Tokyo as well are dubious about a uniting of two powerful Koreas which would introduce a new if traditional player in East Asia. That is an outcome that even the Japanese fear and Seoul sees only as a possibility under its tutelage, now a likely route of when events begin to move.

Therefore all the glib talk about the peaceful emergence of a cooperative — much less democratic — regime in the North are, for the present, so much wishful thinking.

Golden California goes Brown


There always seemed to be the possibility that there could be a really big rumble along the San Andreas Fault and Hollywood, San Francisco’s hills and the wild northern California coast would slide into the Pacific.

The state has had its Brown-outs with two governors, father and son, and their spendthrift administrations, with other similar governments spread along the way of Junior’s present tenure.

Still, with its almost forty million people, the crumbling welfare state carries on with a quarter of the country’s illegal aliens, half of whom are 6% of its total population. They don’t speak English at home nor do these “undocumented” seem to be bothered with U.S. citizenship much less legal residence: two-thirds have lived in the state for at least a decade.

But California’s increasingly shaky finances [a current $190 billion state budget has an estimated $1.6 billion deficit] and what appears to be a switch to a net outflow of population may be redrawing the picture of what has been. Most of the population growth this past year came from local births, which outpaced deaths by 220,000. Although total net migration added 80,000 people, more moved out of California than in from other U.S. states.

In fact this out-migration has increasingly been the state’s middle class, taking with them the longtime admired entrepreneurial history of the state, to the benefit of welcoming Texas among California’s other Western neighbors.

Foreign immigration made up the difference between the outflow and the relatively stable total, bringing it nearer the 40 million mark, larrger by far than Canada or Australia.

That these in-migrants are “illegals”— or “undocumenteds”— may explain more than anything else why California’s Democratic politicians are all for allowing even illegal felons to get a pass not only escape deportation but criminal prosecution as well. The state has enacted a sanctuary law which supposed to protect otherwise illegal aliens in the U.S.

This has led to a free-for-all between federal officials [particularly ICE, Immigration and Custom Enforcement] and some local state and municipal authorities. This, in turn, is leading to a civil war among local and state government jurisdictions who oppose the protection of felons.

The current free for all between the federal authorities of the Trump Administration with Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland [its long term unemployed average of 8.52 percent] went so far as for her to warn local illegals with criminal records — some of them convicted felons —– that the Feds were coming to get them.

California city and state officials as a result of all this are using California’s size —its population bigger by a third than Texas, its nearest rival — to defy federal law. Nothing quite like it judicially has been seen since the 1850s — an argument then which had to be decided in a fearfully bloody struggle, still more casualties than all our other conflicts.

The policy and legal confusion being created is hard to exaggerate. And the Trump Administration is going to be forced to take up the cudgels for federal jurisdiction. The longer the wait, the more likely the confusion will grow.

There was a time, when California was supposed to set the patterns for progressive [the old use, not the new use of the word] development in the rest of the country. [e.g., remember when no one ate their salad first] Let’s hope that is now a bygone American custom.

Don’t look now but…


Don’t look now but Donald K. Trump has won his war with the traditional media, the Hollywood luminaries – and left the Democrats gasping for breath [and a missing program for action].

It will take historians a while to figure out just what happened.

But our colleagues in the leading news media continue to carp at every misstep Trump makes, especially those sometimes uninspired uses of the alternative media. The fact is we have a politician who has learned to use these new communication tools to his advantage even when he sometimes does so awkwardly. That goes for a lesson to Hollywood’s politicians too who finally may be learning that while that whatever their popularity in their make-believe roles, they are rejected by the general population as authorities on government policy.

The naked truth is that neither the leading media titles nor Hollywood’s luminaries have accepted the fact that a rebellious public decided they would not take the instruction in the 2017 elections from what my Mother and a few of her rebellions old lady friends in retirement in Florida used to call “the all-rightnicks”. They turned down both Establishments’ candidates. They voted in the outside choice as president – and even as their somewhat tainted continuing opponents’ opinion polls suggest, may even have increased their support.

And while nothing could be as dangerous as predicting where a free and vocal forgotten majority of the electorate is going to go in November, we are willing to lay a small wager that not only will they not follow the usual history of major losses for the incumbent president’s party, they may even boost the Republicans in the House – that minority who support him enthusiastically and those more lukewarm Trumbites – and nibble at that wavering stand-off in the Senate.

The confusion is rampant, of course. We have a major investigation that was supposed to sort out of the domestic mess under Robert Mueller, a man who seems to have turned leading such investigation as a profession. So far what we have from him and his commission is an expansion to other subject than those they were originally named to find. [There was no Russian-Trump collusion, but growing evidence, to the contrary, that there has been a crossing of the palm with silver by the Russians and Hillary Clinton’s minions.]

There isn’t much of a secret in Trump’s success. As a successful businessman who inherited a small fortune and turned it into a gigantic one, he is a gambler. He proffers something out of the extraordinary – even his original slogan of “making America great again” – then doubling back to compromise with his adversaries,

The fact is he has gone on to successfully pass the greatest tax reduction in American history – the political effects will only be felt after this spring’s reductions are being calculated. He made an unsuccessful pass at the massive problem of the American health system, something that probably shouldn’t be undertaken in one piece of legislation anyway. He is well on his way toward a bombastic attack on the trade disparities the U.S. has given its European, Japanese, and more recently, Chinese partners. He won’t get those massive across the board tariffs he has proposed, but, of course, like his other policy exercises, he never expected to get all of it.

Note that a second term is almost an accepted fact in the general political discussion. That infuriates – and discombobulate his proponents even more – but one the majority of American voters probably now accept.

Sooner or later, the President is going to have to turn his full attention to foreign policy.

They are not problems which turned up only on his watch but have been around for a while and festering. First, of course, is what to do about a rogue regime in North Korea which maybe close to getting a transcontinental nuclear-clad missile. That would be an unbearable threat for U.S. domestic security and our role as leader of the Free World. It’s China’s direct and indirect support to Pyongyang that appears to be the Gordian’s knot which will have to be cut, not a small job. In the Middle East, the festering mess Washington had faced since the beginning of the post-World War II is worse. Tehran’s aggressive revolutionary regime is under domestic pressure and the U.S. will have to find ways to apply non-military pressure, agajn sometimes despite our European allies’ greedy trade ambitions there. Not the least is the third threat – Vladimir Putin’s attempt to pick up the imperial roles of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. already threatening Ukraine and the Baltic states.

But then no one ever said the presidency of the U,S. was not a demanding job even when challenged by an inventive and original Trump, our first businessman to take on America’s business as business.

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The Russians are not coming! But . . .


Much too much is being made of the naming of Russian agents operating in the U.S. and their ostensible efforts to thwart our electoral process.

There is a suspicion that part of the hullabaloo is an attempt to draw attention away from more important scandalous matters, including the lagging effort of the U.S. to rearm as the overwhelming force dedicated to peace and stability in the world.

Looking at Washington’s description of these Russian operatives indicates we are a long way from the expertise of the Soviet KGB and its predecessors tracing back to Vladimir Lenin and his theories of dictatorship of the proletariat. It was in effect an increasingly bureaucratic Russian regime that reached its apotheosis with Josef Stalin’s totalitarian dictatorship. For one thing, and the most obvious, Moscow no longer commands the loyalty and services of either ideological cynics or well meaning idealists abroad in national Communist parties forming a vast espionage network run out of the Comintern.

The Russians have a structural problem in any effort to affect American elections: one of the many blessings of our Founding Fathers in their creation of their new federal republic was leaving the concept of suffrage to be an issue decided locally by the states. There has never been nor should there be a serious attempt to have a federal voters’ law, although requirements and restrictions, i.e., to protect the rights of minorities, can and have been written into overriding federal legislation.

Of course, the attempt to avoid a continental criterion for the vote has caused problems. For most of the history of the Republic, race was used to ban a large portion of our fellow citizens from the franchise, a remedy for which has only finally been effected in our lifetime.

But the very variety of electoral laws – whether for local, state or national elections has assured the inability to create a centrally dictated electoral law and thereby the threat of all-yes-or-no plebiscites.

That network of different laws and customs, of course, was what the Russians were facing when they decided to try to affect the American elections.

The realists in Moscow must have understood that all they could accomplish was to cast doubt on the process wherever and however it was conducted. And that perhaps explains why they supposedly both supported and opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy.

They have nevertheless achieved widespread publicity and some success in creating confusion. But it has been done with the help of the U,S. authorities in their highly publicized indictment of the Russian agents describing their activities in detail that the public really didn’t have to know.

But bottom line is that the Russian intelligence organization, again a shadow of its former Soviet ancestor, has spent resources and used personnel it could not afford. Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine must have already taxed those resources along with his attempt to further threaten the U.S. and the West with subversion in the Baltic States which the Russian Empire and the Soviets [both at their zeniths] occupied.

The Russian Federation, with the world’s second largest nuclear inventory of 4,500 strategically operational warheads, remains along with China and Iran — one of the three current principal American concerns for world peace and stability.

Putin’s Russia reversed Moscow’s emergence from communism as an unstable but democratic state with his aggression in southeastern Europe. That has called for deployment since 2017 of four multinational battle groups totaling approximately 4,500 troops to the Baltic nations and Poland as a manifestation of the U.S.-led North American Treaty Alliance [NATO]continuing shield for the Western democracies.

Although President Trump has indicated he is willing to negotiate the West’s differences with Putin, the threat to peace and stability from Moscow has to remain one of the U.S. principal foreign policy concerns and threats.

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Straight talk


Diplomats like to believe they speak a special language because of their knowledge of other cultures that logic which may apply elsewhere is not always applicable to their transactions. That explains, as much as anything, the present undercurrent of animosity between the State Department’s Foreign Service establishment and the Trump White House.

The Trump Administration’s initiative to officially move the US. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is now a case in point.

No issue is as political sensitive and emotive in Israeli politics. Psalm 137 of the Jewish and Christian Bibles sings: If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem. may my right hand forget its skill, May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

But the New Year’s statement of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, a politician appointed to that office by President Donald K. Trump, has aroused an international fracas. Perhaps the explanation lies partly in the fact that Halley hails from her previous office as governor of South Carolina, a state throughout its history noted for its drama.

Haley laid out the Trump foreign policy and the international scene in stark terms. She made no secret of the basic turnabout Trump has provided to the Obama Administrations famous leading from behind.

Haley signaled:

The U.S. will no longer lean on international organizations , as its principle tool in internatiuonal policy as the world’s largest economy and overwhelmingly largest military force.

Trump will end more than six decades and a total of $18 billion in military and economic aid from the United States, a net transfer of $8.647 billion to Pakistan.

Trump will move to end the Iranian missile program negotiated by the Obama Administration in an effort to postpone a nuclear-class Tehran regime.

Trump threatens to end Palestinian funding [more than $5 billion in since the mid-1990s] if the PLA continues to violate UN decisions to recognize Israel and proceed with serious negotiations for two states.

Trump will support Iranian dissidents in dramatic contradiction to Obama’s ignoring the previous Green Revolution in 2009 after elections almost overthrew the dictatorship. Trump reiterated his threat to destroy North Korea if that rogue regime persists in developing nuclear weapons.

Trump is pressuring Burma in regard to its expulsion of Muslim from its southeastern provinces.

Trump is concerned about Venezuela where the president has become a dictator, ally of Communist Cuba and an enemy of the U.S….

All in all, what was a enunciated was a new American foreign policy which will be activist and aggressive rather than responsive the Obama Administration attempts to lead from behind.

Haley has also reminded other members of the United Nations that the U.S. sees their votes an indicator of their support of the American effort. Haley’s announcement moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem follows decades in which both the Congress and presidents have announced that American policy. No issue is so emotionally charged in Israel politics nor with its Arab neighbors despite the fact no Arab or Muslim regime had ever claimed Jerusalem or the Holy Land as its capital.

We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations, she said of the UN vote. Washington supplies roughly 22 percent of the U.N. budget. And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

Haley, called the UN vote condemning the American action null and void, declaring that no vote in the United Nations will make any difference on the United States plans to move its embassy which she called the right thing to do.

With only Guatemala so far following the American initiative of recognizing Jerusalem as the site of the Israel capital and locating its embassy there, Haley threatened that the 22 UN nations which had vote a resolution condemning the American action who now receive U.S. aid might pay a price. Major allies like Britain, France, Germany and Japan voted for the resolution, though some allies, like Australia and Canada, abstained. with 33 other abstentions and 21 delegations that were absent, representing a significant chunk of the total membership of 193.

The vote against the U.S. was more than anything else an expression of the atmosphere of hostility in the organization toward Washington. That was manifest although hardly noticed in the U.S. this year when the U.N. dispatched a special rapporteur to investigate poverty in the U.S. American taxpayers effectively paid a progressive professor to lecture them about how evil their country is.

38 Ukraine’s Future


The Trump Administration’s decision to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons is an historic decision with implications far beyond the two countries themselves. It is, in fact, a belated decision since the future of the former Soviet state has hung in the balance after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression against Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow’s aggression, first the seizure of Crimea by the Russian Federation in early 2014 and the peninsula, Ukrainian territory since 1954, is too much like the old story of a rapacious European power’s aggression that has set off two world wars. The continued sponsorship by Moscow of anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine has confirmed the worst suspicions about Russia’s eventual intentions. Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, has made no secret of his belief that restoration of the Russian Empire/Soviet Union’s most expansive former territorial borders is his aim. He has said,”the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

Meeting the Russian onslaught on Ukraine requires such weapons as the U.S. has now promised, i.e., American Javelin antitank artillery capable of destroying the Russian tanks leading the insurgents. The State Department official announcement said Washington was going to provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.” The State Department spokesman said, “U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself.”

Outspoken members of Congress have long called for meeting the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government’s request for assistance. Following that announcement, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election which he lost to Barack Obama., issued a statement calling on Trump “to authorize additional sales of defensive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions,” to Ukraine. “Vladimir Putin has chosen war instead of peace in Ukraine. So long as he makes this choice, the United States and the Free World should give Ukraine what it needs to fight back,” McCain added.

Moscow countered the American decision to supply Ukraine with weapons meant the United States “is clearly pushing [Ukraine] to new bloodshed.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Washington and Ottawa of making false claims about the conflict in Ukraine as a “pretext to begin large-scale lethal weapons deliveries to Ukraine.” The Russian response continued, “American weapons can lead to new victims in our neighboring country, to which we cannot remain indifferent,” adding, “the United States in a certain sense had crossed the line” and accused it of “fuelling the war” rather than acting as an intermediary.

Observers expected Russia would use the American moves as a pretext to take further action in Ukraine. The action comes amid a recent spurt in clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, and the same week the Trump administration announced it would permit sales of some smaller arms to Ukraine from U.S. manufacturers.

Outspoken members of Congress have long called for meeting the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government’s request for assistance.

Perhaps as important as the direct assistance to Kiev, the assistance to Kiev is seen as support to the whole network of the North Atlantic Alliance [NATO] which is increasingly being invoked to meet Putin’s to reinforce its eastern defenses. Perhaps as important as the direct assistance to Kiev, the assistance to Kiev is seen as support to this whole network of the North Atlantic Alliance [NATO] which is increasingly being deployed to meet Putin’s aggressive actions on Russia’s western borders.

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36 Sex, the marketplace and common sense


The effort to reform one of the great blots on American society, using authority in relationships with subordinates to intimidate them for sexual favors, has reached a crescendo.

And like such reform movements before – one recalls the The Methodist Episcopal Church Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals attempt to curb alcoholism which ended in the disaster of creating organized crime – it now runs the risk of getting out of hand. The chief reason, of course, is that we are dealing with one of the most powerful forces in human nature – the attraction of one human being for another which can result in sensory satisfaction for its culmination.

We are of course, dealing with that most complicated of issues, human emotion. And it is also one of the most difficult to analyze because of its attachment to each of us as individuals to the issue or its potential.

In fact, we are talking about at least four different human activities. In a time of less forthrightness in the 19th and 20th centuries, these manipulations were casually and euphemistically known as “the casting couch” and “womanly wiles”. In fact, the very fact that commonplace titles were given them was virtual acceptance that they were part of “business as usual” in complex human and specially gender relationships.

The first of these activities is, of course, the use of human sensory resolution which is simply the commonest attraction of one individual for another. When women began entering the workforce a hundred years ago – in the West – it was inevitable that this relationship would not only be involved but would become central to it. Men and women working together can be only attracted toward one another in the physical pursuit by their nature.

The second, and the chief object of our search for perfidious activity, is when that attraction is knowingly used by the male party to advance his or another’s career or for an accumulation of wealth or both.

The third is a combination of the two and the great difficulty of untangling them in any attempt at analyses.

The fourth and most obscure is when on that rarer occasion, the female arts of seduction are used for similar purposes.

The crux of the growing problem is that the combination of a woman’s reluctance to expose such activities to public scrutiny and therefore the ability if such accusations to be made without substation is leading to indiscriminate charges without validation. Innocent names and reputations can therefore be besmirched since there is no final court of verification of the charges or absolution in the case of such unjust slanders.

It may therefore be a time for all but the most serious of these charges make public their sponsors. One way, of course, is simply to demand that any of those – usually women – making such charges are willing to come forward publicly with their accusations. In that way, those who are among the accused have an opportunity to confront their accusers for evidence and truthfulness of the actuation.

That is a painful process for many women who point out that their violation has often been at a legitimate but secret relationship for what there is no guilt associated.

As onerous as this process nay be, it is our belief that by going public with the accuser’s identity is the only way to establish its validity. If the process is too painful for the aggrieved woman [or in that rare case, man], it may well be that it is better to ignore it, or treat it as one of the many individual ills in our society for which there is no immediate solution.

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35 Saudi revolution


The reformation of Islam stalled in Andalusia [Spain] since the 16th century — may finally be underway in Saudi Arabia and for all the wrong reasons.

Unlike Judaism and Christianity from which it has borrowed so heavily, Islam has remained a combination of religious belief and totalitarian politics. That dichotomy often confuses Western observers, ever vigilant in the modern world to maintain at least a modicum of tolerance.

Now a coup by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s in early November has led to the arrest of more than 200 princes and government ministers, ostensibly in a corruption probe. They are members of the far-flung royal family which until now with its enormous oil wealth set world energy prices. But with the recent advent of U.S. technological advances in shale oil and gas exploration, price dips have ended the structure of the Persian Gulf exporters, and the debt-ridden princes are having to reorganize Salman’s accession to the throne is being modeled on the role of the Queen of England. But it is significant that Salman has already clipped the wings of the dreaded Saudi religious police who brutally enforced the Saudis’ hold on power. Its pogroms have been used in the past against rebellion among the Saudis’ 35 million Moslems and its satellite states on the Gulf — including a constant underground rebellion of Shia in its Eastern oilfields.

Western “right thinkers” have called any attempts to get at the heart of these political and ideological aspects of Islam as Islamphobia. The current wave of terrorism with its insistence on using the phrase “Radical Islamic Terrorism” are after all based on aspects of Islam itself – they are not drawn from Christian Science or Methodism.

Salman plans, we are told, to adopt the moniker “protector of the holy shrines” to cover Saudi Arab’s hosting Mohammed’s birthplace at the center of the Arab and Moslem world.where hundreds of thousands of the faithful make the onerous required pilgrimage in every Moslem’s lifetime. It was her that Islam broke out of this heart of the desert to conquer older and wealthier Middle East empires and twice threaten to overwhelm Western European culture itself

Now with an unprecedented wave of Moslem refugees from Syria and Africa descending on a Europe with its rapidly declining native birthrate, the threat of Islam is as an ideology again faces Western Europe and Judeo-Christianity.

Perhaps luckily for the West, a competing threat of Islamic terrorism has arisen among Iranian fanatics in the bitter rivalry between the majority Sunni and minority worldwide community of over two million.

Recent resignation of and flight of Saad Harir, prime minister of Lebanon to Saudi Arabia and then to France, is a manifestation of this contest within Islam. Hariri was Beirut’s Sunni Moslem prime minister. [The president has according to the formula been a Christians, usually a Maronite Catholic, and the speaker of the parliament a Shia]. The Middle East has now fallen victim to the growing power of the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon given full backing by Tehran,

As Salman has moved to clean up corruption – and gather power – he has formed a tacit alliance with Israel, also threatened by events in Lebanon. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot in an unprecedented article in a Saudi newspaper has just written: “Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shi’ite crescent from Lebanon to Iran, and then from the Gulf to the Red Sea. We must prevent this from happening.” The Israeli official continued: “With President Donald Trump, there is an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region and a major strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat…. We are ready to share intelligence, [with Saudi Arabia], if necessary.”

Only a few months ago, a Saudi-Israeli alliance would have been unthinkable. But as Salmon assumes dictatorial powers in what has been a freewheeling family business, Mideast politics – and Islam – are undergoing earthshaking changes.

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34 Turkish threat


Turkey is rapidly developing into a threat to peace and stability in the Middle East.

The regime of President [formerly Prime Minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP Justice and Development Party are increasingly authoritarian. Their effort to obtain nuclear power with its military offshoots would make it an imposing and new threat to the whole region.

Behind Erdogan’s efforts, of course, is nostalgia for Turkey’s once dominant role in that part of the world. The Turkish Empire at its zenith in the early 19th century stretched from the gates of Vienna to Aden to Gibraltar, incorporating most of the eastern Mediterranean. Its collapse in World War I left behind a truncated nationalist state dedicated to linguistic Turks although with considerable racial and ethnic minorities.

Today the Republic of Turkey stretches from the peninsular of Anatolia in Western Asia across the Dardanelles Straits separating the two continents with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by eight countries. Some 80% of the country’s 80 millions identify themselves as ethnic Turks, with Kurds, altogether a 45-million ethnic minority spread throughout the region. making up another 20% of its population. Kurdish nationalists recently have agitated for autonomy against resistance in Ankara,, especially in southeastern Syrian border areas where they are dominant.

Meanwhile, Erdogan announced over the summer that he had signed a deal with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation [ROSATOM] to begin building three nuclear power plants. Since 2001 Ankara has refused investment in its dilapidated conventional power structures largely dependent on imported natural gas. for the country’s inadequate electricity supply..

The $20 billion deal with Moscow, in the works since 2010, involves the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant — Turkey’s first-ever – theoretically to be operational in 2023. Turkey is only the latest to benefit from Russia’s ROSATOM, with Moscow’s earlier nuclear cooperation deals signed with Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This growing civilian nuclear sales program is generally seen not only as a Moscow play for power in the Middle East but also providing desperately-needed revenue for Russia, hurt by sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

With the highest rate of growing energy demand among OECD countries over the last 15 years, Turkey has long been looking to the possibility of nuclear power. Prior to the 2015 Tehran and Moscow were Turkey’s main suppliers of fossil fuels for its conventional plants. Pressure to abide by the U.S.’s sanctions against Iran has been one of the factors which has pushed Turkey to consider nuclear energy a viable option to supplement or replace its conventional fossil-fueled industry. Ankara is looking at China as well as Russia with Beijing having ratified a nuclear agreement it reached with Turkey in 2012, a $20 billion deal for the construction of four nuclear power plants. Although there have been no sales, in 2008 Turkey also reached an”Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation” with the United States.

Turkey claims its budding nuclear power program is for civilian purposes only. And while it is true that Ankara’s interest in nuclear energy dates back to the 1960s, when it studied the feasibility of building a 300-400 megawatt nuclear power plant, three decades before the rise of Erdogan and his AKP party, it is clear the program has taken on new significance.

A nuclear power base could easily move on to weapons production and given Erdogan’s pretensions for return to imperial Turkish ambitious, that could be the ultimate outcome of the power program.

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33History Does Repeat


 

 

If you were to believe many – if not most – of the current political and historical mainstream media commentators, almost everything we see and hear is new or at least never happened before.

 

The fact is that little is.

 

A brief check of the historical record – which of course is very limited since it stretches back only several centuries in an almost infinite past — proves that conclusively.

 

Let’s start with the assertion that the U.S. political scene today is more deeplydivided deeply than ever before. The truth is, of course, that from its very origins the Republic has than been rocked by different schools of political persuasion, some dangerously violent. The controversy over slavery which among other issues produced the Civil War. It was perhaps the most significant example of a more troubled, or certainly equally troubled time.

 

George Washington, the first president, refused to permit the House of Representatives to examine his Jay Treaty regulating commerce with Great Britain arguing that only the Senate was assigned that role in the Constitution. And as early as 1807 Pres. Thomas Jefferson warned the Congress that Aaron Burr, a prominent politician who had killed Jefferson’s rival, Alexander Hamilton in a duel, was plotting from New Orleans to create a new country beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Burr was placed on trial for treason. But Jefferson, invoking the concept of “executive privilege”, refused to submit evidence supporting Burr. Burr emerged from the trial, his reputation further besmirched losing any hope for the presidency he had coveted.

 

A country divided?

 

Similarly the assertion current repeated endlessly that the war between the Trump White House and the mainstream media is a new phenomenon is equally false. President Abraham Lincoln, although he was conducting a war, permitted newspapers which were openly sympathetic to the South to publish materials opposed to his policies. The “Copperhead press”, as this group of papers sympathetic to the South was called, was vitriolic in its protests. In riposte, a Massachusetts mob of Union soldiers tarred and feathered Ambrose Kimball, editor of the Essex County Democrat. He was targeted for printing anti-Union stories and editorials.

But Lincoln did find it necessary to withdraw the five freedoms otherwise theoretically secured by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Zechariah Chafee Jr., a noted free speech scholar writes.: “Undoubtedly [Lincoln] permitted a very large number of arbitrary arrests …… ‘Must I shoot a simple soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert?’, Lincoln asked in response to his critics …He was proceeding against men who were so far within the test of direct and dangerous interference with the war that they were actually causing desertions, and even then he acted to prevent and not to punish.”

 

A former Ohio congressman, Clement L. Vallandigham, a diehard Copperhead and a defender of state rights although personally opposed to slavery, claimed the national government could not constitutionally compel the states to end what was called the “peculiar institution.” The war, he said, was waged by ‘King’ Lincoln … for the purpose of crushing out liberty and erecting a despotism” calling for Lincoln’s removal from office. Vallandigham’s supporters burned the offices of a Republican newspaper, the Dayton Journal, and was arrested and charged him with uttering “disloyal sentiments and opinions, with the object and purpose of weakening the power of the Government in its efforts to suppress unlawful rebellion. The former congressman was sentenced by a military tribunal to “close confinement” until the end of the war but Lincoln, changed the punishment to banishment to the Confederacy.

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27The Meaning of Words


 

 

One if the effects of the many invasions and conquests of Britain has been the enrichment of its language by the conquerors until today that universality is recognized throughout the world. It is helped – along with the power of the British Empire and then its successor, the U.S., in international affairs – make it the world’s common language.

From the earliest British Beaker folk [named after their vessels buried with them], one new linguistic tide after another swept over the British Islands bringing with it first the Celtic language, then the Germanic Saxon, the Danish, and the French Norman. It is perhaps this heritage that gives English we speak today such a wide range of possibilities of expression, and, sometimes, to confusion because of it.

In this context what is to be made of the current commotion over President Donald K. Trump’s attempt at consolation for a grieving widow of Green Beret Sgt. La David Johnson? Johnson’s body was recovered in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerian troops nearly 48 hours after he was discovered missing in the wake of an attackearlier this month against his Green Beret training and assistance unit. The U.S. has maintained about 800 US troops in Niger among its other posting in Africa. The US military has been in the northwest African country for five years, with small groups, US Special Operations Forces advising local troops. Their targets have been jihadists, including “ISIS in the Greater Sahara” and the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram operating in Niger and neighboring Mali..

Lara Trump, the President’s daughter has confirmed, referring to a transcript of the call with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David, her father’s thought. She paraphrases hin as having told Johnson’s widow “your husband went into battle, you know, knowing that he could be injured, knowing that he could be killed.”  Although the words might sound stark out of context, it is clear that the President was trying to help console the grieving survivor by reminding her of her husband’s dedication and devotion to military service and his undoubted recognition of its risks including his death.

Rep. Frederica Wilson [D., FL], has decided to twist these remarks and their meaning into an attack on the President as unfeeling and inadmissible. Wilson’s campaign has blossomed as Trump has responded to her accusation and further carried the argument to earlier Wilson claims as an effective Congresswoman in representing the financial concerns of her district.

White House chief of staff John Kelly criticized Wilson for allegedly taking credit for securing funding for an FBI field office two years ago. Kelly had denounced Wilson after the Democratic congresswoman publicly criticized President Donald Trump’s comments during a phone call with the widow of a fallen soldier.

“I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured,” the Florida Democrat responded.”So that’s a lie. How dare he! However, I named the building at the behest of [then-FBI Director James Comey] with the help of [then-House Speaker John Boehner], working across party lines. So he didn’t tell the truth.”

Kelly was referring to an FBI field office in Miramar, Florida, that was dedicated in 2015 to two FBI agents who were killed during a gunfight with drug traffickers. The chief of staff said he had been “stunned” by Wilson’s public comments at the ceremony dedicating the building.

The whole bickering exchange is demeaning to both parties. Wilson’s language leaves much to be desired from a pubic figure. But we think that the President’s chief of staff, a four-star retired U. S Marine general himself, ought to have better sense than to get down into the mud and roll around with Wilson

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24Snobbery and Vox Populi



There is no end to the admiration for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. Not only did they conceive and implement the most representative government the world had known, drawing on their knowledge of The Greek and Roman Classics. But when they anticipated a particularly galling problem – or, as in the case of the competition of the larger and smaller of the original 13 British colonies which were to form the new Republic.

 

They also understood that the U.S. Constitution which established America’s fundamental law, and guaranteed certain basic rights to its citizens, would in the end be at the mercy of impulse and fads. When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed it on September 17, 1787, presided over by George Washington, they faced an issue in the fear of smaller members they would be dominated by the numbers and wealth of the larger states such as Virginia. In 1790, Vermont, for example, had only 85,539 free whites and slaves compared to its neighbor, Massachusetts with its 378,787. [Yes, violations of Vermont’s anti-slavery law, a part of its 1777 constitution when it broke away from New York, were not unusual].

In the Federalist No. 10, James Madison argued against “an interested and overbearing majority” and the “mischiefs of faction” in an electoral system. Madison defined a faction as “a number of citizens whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Madison and others hope and planned what was then called republican government [i.e., federalism, as opposed to direct democracy], with a distribution of voter rights and powers, would countervail against factions. Although the United States Constitution refers to “Electors” and “electors”, neither the phrase “Electoral College, or as until the early 19th century when the name “Electoral College” came into general usage for the electors selected to cast votes for president and vice president. The phrase was first written into federal law in 1845 and appears in the Constitution as “college of electors.

In a sense, what the Founders feared has come to pass in the creation by the system itself of a privileged c political lass, the so-called Establishments of both parties. They have come to dominate the federal government through their expertise in its intricate operations and skill in maneuvering in its constantly growing bureaucracy,. But in a largely unanticipated reaction, a general popular reaction took place in 2016 with the election of Donald K. Trump. Trump’s election, was unforeseen by even the most astute political observers – particularly those in the mainstream media who still are smarting from their failure.

Trump’s decisions since his election have further confounded these media observers along with the leaders of both the major parties. His unpredictability – from their standpoint – has led not only to inability to anticipate them but to a originality to the Trump Administration that has not been equaled for decades.

In that sense, even though he received a smaller popular vote than the Establishment’s candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, he has very much become the successful candidate of the vox populi, the voice of the people, or indeed, from the original Latin phrase, vox populi, vox dei – the voice of the people as the voice of God..Trump may indeed be the voice of “the forgotten man” in the American society to which he so often refers. One thing is clear: the continued struggle between Trump and his base against the Inside the Beltway Establishment aided and abetted by its Hollywood apparatus will continue to dominate the American political scene for some time. The ultimate victor is not now predictable but there is little doubt which side the Founders would have chosen.

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23Sliding into U.S.-China crisis


 

 

Despite Pres. Trump’s repeated claims of friendship with China’s Boss Xi Jinping, Washington-Peking relations have been slid by slow motion into crisis. [Trump might be reminded of British 19th century Prime Minister Lord Palmerton’s quip: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”.]

 

The depth of the crisis has been obscured by dramatic domestic news and the war of words between Trump and most of the national media.

 

The issues exist at every level – political, economic and military

 

The crisis entered a critical stage when Pyongyang flew a missile over Japan into the Pacific [Sept. 15] with the strongest possibility of North Korea’s an accidenta; strioke given North Korea’s poor navigational history

 

The United States is committed to automatically respond to any such attack on Japan’s defense by treaty as the keystone of its East Asian security system.

 

Washington now looks to Beijing to force Pyongyang to discontinue its weapons of mass destruction and threats to attack America territory. China could do that with its control of the North Korean tiny economy. Last year China bought two-thirds of North Korea’s exports, worth $2.6 and provided almost imports $3.9 billion in imports..

 

Although China voted September 3 with all the other members of the UN Security Council to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, it remains to be seen if Beijing will enforce the UN restrictions. Beijing did follow the UN vote with an announcement it was cutting petroleum shipments immediately.

 

 

But there is little doubt that Chinese leadership – perhaps Xi himself – remain conflicted over the North Korean issue. However much Xi’s increasing control in China, the Chinese Establishment – particularly the military with its bloody intervention in the Korean War [1950-53] – maintain the closest ties although Beijing dropped direct financial support in 2014.

 

Communist China fears pressure on Pyongyang and its collapse could bring reunification of the Peninsular and a reunited Korea, either neutralized or more likely with a tacit alliance with Washington.

 

In the crunch, the U.S. probably would have to take severe measures against U.S. China trade if it wants to force Beijing to curb Pyongyang. Even with a total world trade of more than $3.6 trillion, the 2016 estimate of almost $500 billion in American trade accounts for almost half the U.S.’ worldwide $737 trade deficit. That obviously would pose severe disruptions on the American economy.

 

Beijing has refused Washington’s offer to take  a more conciliatory view of other trade issues– the imbalance, intellectual property rights, processed food imports, etc. – if they were linked to sanction North Korea sanctions.

 

Meanwhile, Chinese planners are trying to move away from the heavy dependence on exports by continued forced urbanization of, some 1.4 billion. half its population, still living in rural areas. They hardly benefited from recent rapid growthbut worsening the situation of several hundred thousand “temporary” residents floating in its largest cities without official benefits.

 

China has, in fact, been exporting capital to the U.S. with below cost prices for thousands of household and capital products that have wiped out 5 million American manufacturing jobs since 2000, sme including imoported foreign exchange elements. And under attack from some Chinese economists, as an export of capital for a still underdeveloped economy.

 

Some American observers have wrung their hands over Beijing’s role as the chief government purchaser of U.S. Treasuries. Beijing this spring raised ownership of U.S. government bonds to $1.09 trillion   But China’s American debt do not provide China with undue economic influence over the United States. As the British economist John Maynard Keynes put it, “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”

 

While Trump’s $700-billion program to renovate the U.S. military begins, Beijing continues to move aggressively on its perimeters — in the Japan Sea where it has taken over islands returned to Japan at the end of American Occupation, building naval and air bases  military bass on coral strands a thousand miles from Continental China athwart  one of the main commercial naval arteries of the world, and most recently, opening up old sores on the eastern Himalayan border with India, in support of its growing program of base-building in Pakistan at the entrance to the Persian Gulf from which it proposes a pipeline to carry across the country to western China.

 

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