Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cruz's new plan re: domestic Muslims.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Foreign policy : who would make it worse...Trump or Clinton?

 If it comes down to a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, voters will have a choice between which one of them would be the best to conduct our foreign policy and win our fight against ISIS and their kindred terrorists.  The question could also be it is not just the one who would make us greater, but who would not make it worse. 

Clinton was a team player, whether she initially agreed with the decision or not. In any case, in politics criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy becomes criticism of her. So should his successes be attributed to her, to be fair, and there is no one in the race with more experience in foreign policy or ready to be commander in chief day one.

A successful foreign policy also depends on wisdom and experience. Trump has neither. Trump’s response to a question on MSNBC’s Morning Joe lately, asking him who he is consulting on foreign policy, was not reassuring.  He answered “I’m speaking with myself. I have a very good brain”.

For insular Americans the argument put forth by Trump and the GOP sounds plausible, that the US is weak and disrespected. They tell us often enough that it becomes a truism.  However, a Pew research poll taken of residents in 40 countries concluded that, except for Russia and Israel, President Obama is more respected than his predecessors because they trust him to make the right decisions. What is true is that Obama has kept the US from engaging in more major wars and he has significantly reduced our ground troop commitments, a policy for which he was largely elected twice. His fight against ISIS has relied on air and drone strikes and taking out their command, control, and leadership, inserting  more special forces when called for and beefing up allies and Iraq forces. Most in the GOP have only called for more of the same, and quibbled over the numbers.

The exception is Trump who would like to” make America great again.” His strategy is to ban Muslims “temporarily” from the US, to bomb ISIS into the sands along with civilians, reinstate torture, and then when we have finished, simply withdraw. To gain respect, he believes we get it by the use or threat of military might.  Simply withdrawing after successful military action, Trump’s exit strategy, indicates he has learned nothing from the Iraq experience, other than to defeat ISIS “we must get other nations involved”.

“Getting others involved’ would be hard for Trump since he has made himself persona non grata with critical allies. British Prime Minister David Cameron has criticized Trump’s Muslim ban as "divisive, stupid and wrong” and Trump had to cancel trips to Jordan and Israel. German newspapers call him 'a bad joke that might become reality' and leaders there tagged him the 'Ugly American' that has come to life”, “a threat to peace and societal cohesion”. Trump has said Saudi Arabia should pay the United States for "protection."  "In response to Trump's hallucinations: God and Saudi Arabia's army will protect it," per an editorial retort in a news site authorized by a Saudi Ministry.

.A version of this appeared in the Sky Hi Daily News April 1 2016  www.skyhidailynews.com

By Kevin Drew of US News, March 14, 2016, http://news.yahoo.com/trump-world-sees-ugly-american-175214434



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Watching the Chicago Trump rally: is this the kind of country we want?

Watching the Chicago rally: is this the kind of country we want?

In watching the violent Donald Trump rally  in Chicago March 11,   I ask myself, if this is the kind of country we want or a leader who gins up the anger and racism that was manifested in the clash. Will this be the hallmark of four years of a  Trump presidency?

The  person who has laid the groundwork for such  incidents is Trump himself, by painting  entire bodies of minorities with the brush of a fewer  bad apples. Trump has also made an issue  of being against political correctness. What that means is that he has given the go ahead to be openly racist and uncivil to  others that are  not like his supporters. .For him to expect that there would not be a backlash is either naive or calculating. 

There have been those throughout history like Trump who exploited anger to gain political support, scapegoated ethnic, racial and religious groups to blame for  their troubles,  and who incited violence against those who protested. This kind of a campaign conducted by Trump  is becoming daily  more worthy of comparisons with the rise in Europe in the 1930's  of such strongmen. We as voters still have the ability to stop this at the ballot box. 

Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were eloquent in their condemnation of Donald Trump's exhortation to his followers to punch protestors in the nose and condoning other such violent actions. John Kasich was his usual reasonable adult self in his criticism.

 Of course both Rubio and Cruz had to insert a brief comment that, while Trump himself was the major contributor to such confrontations because of his rhetoric, somehow or other Pres. Obama was a bit guilty, too, alluding vaguely to conducting class warfare.  For that I am scratching my head.  I fail to see the connection, other than Obama is  just being who he is, the first Black president of the United States and a Democrat who has traditionally looked out for the underdog. I will take these brief comments  as simply a placating  bone tossed to their constituents to make clear theirs is still a partisan race..

The irony of it is that President Obama's job approval has risen to 50% favorability from 47%  in the past three years according to a recent Gallup poll, and the pollster's speculation is because in contrast with the candidate field, he looks pretty good to voters.  That, by the way, is on par with the polls of President Reagan when he left office.  That is not bad for a president whose opponents have called a failure or a divisive figure.  

A comment disconnected from reality made by Donald Trump in the GOP debate March 10 was that President Obama was so weak, America was the laughing stock of the world.  A recent Pew Research Poll of world opinions found something else.  "Globally, Obama’s image is mostly positive. Across the 40 countries polled, a median of 65% say they have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs" and he polled higher than his predecessors.

The US is not being laughed at but world reaction has been one of shock and disappointment  at the tone of the Trump campaign inciting  hate, fear and disrespect of nearly everyone who is a minority, from Hispanics and Muslims, and African Americans. For a review, visit http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/28/opinions/presidential-election-international-views-roundup/ This is not the America that has before this  set the standard of civil democratic behavior world wide. Shame on us if we do not stop this kind of campaign.

Additional note: Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist, Washing Post, has written a column that is a plague on both sides, those who disrupted the rally and on Trump.  He listed the ways Trump has "condoned" violence.  I would say, fomented it.  For his  view,  see his column at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/theres-an-air-of-menace-about-th

Friday, March 11, 2016

The issue: war more or less

There is an undercurrent in the presidential campaign that has gotten little attention.  It loosely falls into the category of  war  or not.  Among my circle of friends and relatives are those supporting Bernie Sanders. Their reasons are fear of blundering into another Iraq.  On the other hand, there is the most likely GOP  candidate for president, Donald Trump . He has no rational  foreign policy but instead gins up hatred of a religion with 1.5 billion Muslims that contains exactly the allies we need to fight ISIS.   

For the record, I have not felt the Bern because I think his domestic policies, while identifying the right issues, are not realistic enough to make it through the legislative process and to get agreement on tax increases to pay for them. I still have questions whether a self-defined Socialist would get the moderate partisans and independents to vote for him needed  to win the White House.   On the other hand, some of his supporters have given some good  reasons for supporting him.

 The Sanders enthusiasts with whom I have spoken think that Sanders would be the least likely to get us into that repeat disaster of Iraq of any of the others vying for the Presidency since he was the only candidate now in the race who voted against the Iraq invasion. He saw the consequences that we may crush the opponents with military might at the beginning, but what happens after that is the issue. Hillary Clinton’s approach is to avoid inserting  massive ground troops to fight ISIS,  softer, but  more acceptable than others in the GOP.

One feeling the Bern is my 21 year old grandson who fears that more of Iraqs in Syria and Libya would mean that the draft would have to be instituted since fighting a two front war with ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exhausted our volunteer military forces.    The other are several retired military who are veterans of Viet Nam through the Cold War and after. They do not want another Iraq either. They have seen too much of the futility of such wars. Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Kill one monster and another rises from the ashes fed on the mess and hate we leave behind.

Donald Trump seems ready to order US troops to kill family members of ISIS and advocates reinstating the use of torture.  His newest line is that most followers of Islam hate us, as if  more bombing them would make them like us. Furthermore, such rhetoric has already made himself persona non grata with Europe  and the very allies we need to help us on the ground, Muslim  Sunni Arabs . We would be spending  our own  blood and treasure.

 Most frightening is Trump’s willingness to violate both US  and international law to do it. His answer in the March 10 debate regarding currently illegal actions:  change the laws. That would make America a pariah on the scale of the very worst actors on the planet. Any moral authority would be gone with the wind .  It would give tacit OK  that any other nation could conduct their wars that way with impunity.  That would make America strong again, but hardly great, and no longer  a “"shining city on a hill." 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The irony of it all: Hillary's server was safer from hackers than the State Department's.

The irony is Clinton's email server was safer from hackers than the State Department's.
The GOP inspired hunt to turn over every pebble to find proof that Hillary Clinton was a liar about her emails, that there were no classified email on her private server, has a new twist. Reports are that her log shows her private server was not hacked. What server was safer from hackers? The State Department's or Hillary Clinton's private one? The answer: Clinton's. That may not have been her intent when she set up the system to have a safer server, but the irony was hers was safer. In 2014 and 2015  the State Department and White House email servers were hacked. Fingers pointed to Russians.
Trying to pin Benghazi missteps that proved guilt for her misstatements and actions causing  the attack or finding criminal misdeeds in the private email server records so far have been factual dead ends . However it has served the GOP well in damaging Hillary's personal credibility with both their own base and even potential Democratic support of her.

Is that fair?  While all is fair in politics, love, and war it seems, the fact checkers show exactly the opposite. Her statements ranks high in truthfulness when compared to most other candidates in the race or other politicians.   It is especially true when compared to Donald Trump, to whom all major fact checkers awarded the Liar of the Year title. Yet in polls she is tied with Trump on that issue.

These attacks on Hillary's trustworthiness verifies the success of  a political tactic,  When opponents repeat an accusation or suspicion time and time again and then cite their own attempt to prove their  point, the attempt itself  takes on its own credibility and it becomes the gospel truth.

This is not to say that Clinton is off the hook for not being completely truthful or  touting her half of half truths, Two wrongs do not make a right.  Relatively speaking when compared to others, she comes out fairly well, though.

So far her claims about her private server and Benghazi  are cases in point. Trying to pin Clinton directly to  Benghazi missteps that caused miscommunications or the attack itself, and even criminal guilt on the private email server records, so far  have  been factual dead ends . However it has served the GOP well in  damaging Hillary's personal credibility.  In polls, she is shown as the least honest and untruthworthy of all candidates and the perception is held by both Democrats and Republicans .

There is another element of telling lies.  What was the intent.? Did the accused know otherwise or was the statement based upon ignorance or faulty knowledge of intelligence?  Was the alleged lie used to exaggerate or hype a point, such as Donald Trump's continued assertion many Muslims cheered the fall of the Twin Towers even after evidence to the contrary was revealed? Did George W Bush intentionally lie about weapons of mass destruction as a reason to invade Iraq or was faulty intelligence a contributor to his statements on which he acted.

 The bottom line, though, should be if  Hillary Clinton's  statements claimed to be false had any impact on national security or shaping national security policy. So far, that has not even been the  accusation made  by her most partisan critics. To the contrary, the Benghazi result was beefing up funding  and changing policies and military strategies protecting US embassies.