Category Archives: American Politics

PLEASE THINK: News or Rumor?


wfb

While I am trying to be fair and dispassionate in my opinions the news is making it difficult. About the news conference the President held for almost 1 ½ hours, the media has blown it up into evidence the President is mentally unstable and trying to destroy free press by calling them out. The press has set itself up in an adversarial situation, which is fine they should, but are upset that their adversary is responding in the same manor.

The biggest story pushed recently is the communications between the Trump campaign and Russia. This is being fueled by both sides of the aisle with calls of bipartisan investigations into the alleged connection as reported by several news outlets. The problem with this is that once the stories are dissected it becomes apparent that is all they are, stories. Even the latest report by the New York Times stays, in the fourth or fifth paragraph, that following investigations and speaking with intelligence sources there is no evidence to back up the claims. Let me repeat that “There is no evidence…” The president however had to withstand several questions on this rumor.

Then we go to the ridiculous. Again the New York Times puts out a report about twitter erupting over a report the President said he wants the women around him to dress like a woman. Social media went nuts even in the comments of the report on Face Book Trump was attack by all sorts of replies. The problem, if you go to the body of the report its says they cannot find where Trump ever said it or where the report came from.

Today AP put out a report that the Trump administration is planning to mobilize up to 100,000 National Guard troops to assist in immigration enforcement in several states. On its face, it does not make sense and the White House as well as the states identified have denied or said they have never heard of it. After the denials and obvious mistakes in reporting the AP went on as if it was a fact, citing unnamed sources.

I believe strongly in a free and open press. I also understand for the press to do its job it must be adversarial with any government, a situation missing in the last eight years. It has an obligation however to work to confirm the facts before reporting. Does it take much to confirm fact vs. rumor? Last week the New York Times reported a tweet by LTG Flynn following his resignation that he had been scapegoated. This brought an press conference on the hill with Congressman Cummings and Leader Pelosi demanding that this be investigated and castigating Flynn for using such a term. As you likely know it was a fake tweet. How do we know it was fake, a quick click on the id showed up as “parody”

Next time you see reports that don’t seem to ring true, PLEASE THINK.       

 

Please Think About Consequences


 

Gen Michael Flynn (ret) has resigned (or was forced to resign) from the office of Director of National Security. It can be said that either he was sacrificed on the altar of politics or had to go since he lied to, at least, the Vice-President of the United States. In full disclosure, I worked for Gen. Flynn when he was Director of Intelligence (J2) for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and again when he was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is an intelligent and fair man, but difficult to work for. As J2 he left early to become CJ2 for Gen McChrystal in Afghanistan and was forced into early retirement from DIA. At least in the later it can be said he ran afoul of entranced bureaucrats. Michael Flynn has a mind of his own and is not afraid to speak out on what he sees as right. This trait serves well for an intelligence officer and a general, but not for a public official.

 

As I said yesterday, the fact that he spoke to the Russian Ambassador prior to Trump assuming office is a nothing. The fact that he lied to the VP and others is the real problem. Yet we will continue to hear about the Russian connection in the Trump administration ad nosism. It is being reported that the White House was informed that Flynn was potentially a subject to Russian blackmail, yet blackmail does not work when everyone knows the secret. He had to go because of his lie, not because of anything else. He lost a high-profile job because of a lie.

 

Yet there are additional consequences of this drama. The world is a dangerous place and getting more dangerous by the day. The loss of someone with Flynn’s talents and the subsequent turmoil at the National Security Council leaves the President partially blind as to what is happening in this dangerous world. With Iran and North Korea playing with nukes and missiles and Russian continuing to threaten eastern Europe this is no time to play politics as usual. With politicians posturing and citizens demonstrating and in some cases rioting, we are playing into Russia’s hand. This is what they wanted by the reports of them interfering into the election and the planting of fake news. This chaos is exactly what the Kremlin wants. This is the consequence of party politics replacing a national agenda.

 

It is time to stop the hysteria over everything the President does or tweets. There are still over 3000 girls and women being held as sex slaves by ISIS, everyday women are stoned to death and homosexuals are hung or thrown off the tops of buildings. North Korea and Iran continue to flaunt the rules of the international community, and the response to all this by America is: Yesterday a group gathered in Chicago and “mooned” a Trump building.

 

PLEASE THINK.

 

Please Think Why Trump Lost the Appellate Court Decision


 

Listening to the reports on the recent 9th circuit court decision on the Immigration executive order, the reasons for the counts ruling are very clear. The courts are biased and the ruling is political with no base in law, or the executive order was a violation of the constitution and a reason to begin impeachment proceedings against the President.

 

The fact is, after having read the decision I can report that is a fairly typical court decision based on the narrowest principles they could find. The actual ruling is:

 

 “To rule on the Government’s motion, we must consider several factors, including whether the Government has shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal, the degree of hardship caused by a stay or its denial, and the public interest in granting or denying a stay.  We assess those factors in light of the limited evidence put forward by both parties at this very preliminary stage and are mindful that our analysis of the hardships and public interest in this case involves particularly sensitive and weighty concerns on both sides.  Nevertheless, we hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay.”

 

 In other words, for the rest of us, there is not enough evidence to prove the government would be harmed or that they will ultimately win in court. Other points to understand is that the court did not rule on the merits of the executive order but on whether the lower court had the authority to put in a temporary hold until a full hearing could take place.  All of this has had the effect of stopping the order from being implemented, not on the legality of the order. Courts, to be honest, do not make these stays lightly and only when they believe the plaintiff, in this case the states of Washington and Minnesota, have a chance of winning. I would have to say that, in my opinion, the order exceeds the authority of the President and the government would lose in court. The reason for this is the order included valid Green Card holders, legal residents, and stopped entry to people with valid visas issued before the order. These last where in fact walked back but it was too late. Once something is said it cannot be unsaid. Had the order been simply that the US would not issue new visa’s in those cited countries and put a halt on refugees it would likely not have gotten this far in the court system.  The order then was too broad in scope and rolled out too quickly and without proper vetting.

 

At this point the Trump administration has two options. The first is to continue to proceed through the courts with a likely result of losing, or to vacate the order, which makes any further court actions moot, and issue a more limited order that fits the current law. I hope for the latter but fear the former will be the favored action of the current administration.

 

I now return you to your regularly scheduled extreme mass media reporting.

 

The Trump Immigration Ban, Its Meaning and Impact


trump

 

Donald Trump has now been President of the United States for a little over a week. Unlike other Presidents he has implemented many of his campaign promises without delay. Of those the most controversial is the enactment of a 90 to 120 day ban on visas and immigration from several nations , and denial of entry to those holding valid Green Cards, until there is a satisfactory process in place to screen potential terrorist from the US. Many in the US and others around the world have protested this ban and legal action has brought a suspicion to parts the order. The problem with the Executive Order is that it goes against everything America has stood for, except self-preservation.
As I write this I must in all honesty tell the reader that this is not the first time something like this has occurred, nor is it the first in modern times. The most recent was a pause in visas for Iraqi refugees by President Obama in 2011. While it is argued that the Obama ban was more limited in scope, only refugees, it was within the same context to stop terrorist from entering the country. Trumps is more wide ranging in that it stopped ALL visa applications, canceled those that were already approved and denied those granted permanent resident status, Green Card. Prior to this however were bans on classes of people that were longer and more dire.
Exclusion of the Chinese:
President Chester A. Arthur, Signed on May 6, 1882. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned “skilled and unskilled laborer’s and Chinese employed in mining” from entering the US for 10 years, it was the first significant law restricting immigration to the country. When it expired it was extended for 10 more years.
Jewish refugees during World War II:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that German Jewish refugees posed a serious threat to the country’s national security. Drawing on fears that Nazi spies could be hiding among the refugees he limited the number of German Jews who could be admitted to 26,000 annually.

Anarchists banned:
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Anarchist Exclusion Act which banned anarchists and others deemed to be political extremists from entering the US.
Communists banned:
Passed by Congress on August 23, 1950, despite being vetoed by President Harry Truman.
The Internal Security Act of 1950 – also known as the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 or the McCarran Act – made it possible to deport any immigrants believed to be members of the Communist Party.

Iranians:
President Jimmy Carter cut diplomatic relations with and imposed sanctions on Iran in 1979. He also banned Iranians from entering the country.
Ban on HIV positive persons:
In 1987, under President Reagan, the US banned HIV positive persons from arriving in the US. The laws were influenced by homophobic and xenophobic sentiment towards Africans and minorities.

President Trump has issued a new ban to last from 90 to 120 days that is designed to give time to institute a new process for admitting persons from regions as designated. The problem with this new ban is that it is too broad and was poorly thought-out and executed. The agencies responsible for enforcing the ban were neither consulted nor informed as to the intent or implementation. I would offer the new president a word of advice, you are no longer a CEO of a company but the leader of a nation. While even most companies, preparing a new product roll out, look to get buy-in from stake-holders, it is more incumbent on the president to talk to congressional leadership and his cabinet. I understand from the experience of business this may have been considered a trial balloon or a Beta test but the division in the US today will not allow for this.

Now to the upside to the ban. For too many years the immigration system in the US has been broke, and I do not mean only on the Mexican border. I have friends from the Middle East, especially from Kurdistan, who wait far too long to get visas either for themselves or family, for no other reason than the draconian rules and regulations that make the process glacially slow. For far too many years the congress has bemoaned this fact and failed to do anything about it. The reaction to the ban may be the stimulus needed to “Reboot” the system. Are there legitimate concerns with a too weak or open border process, yes. My maternal grandparents immigrated from Italy when Italian immigrates where not welcomed. My mother-in-law was a refugee from Nazi Germany after the war and even though she was living in a refugee camp the vetting process took a long time and she had to have a relative in the US vouch for her and a job waiting. While she was going through the process many actual war criminals where let into the country. This last is important as we analyze further.

The cause of the ban put in place by President Obama was the discovery of two Iraqis who had made it through the process and were in the US planning to send support to Al-Qaida in Iraqi. The two were in the US as asylum seekers and had been bomb makers in Iraq and their fingerprints were discovered on a piece of an IED. In other words, they should never have been let in. With the individual attacks over the years such as Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, Boston and Florida as well as the problems seen in Europe coupled with a lack of any concrete actions by the Obama administration to act, Donald Trump acted.

The actions taken on the ban, in my opinion, were too harsh, too wide spread and implemented without thought as to impact and consequences. I give thumbs up to intent, protecting the country, but thumbs down on implementation. In business, there is always time to correct a mistake, not always in government actions. In this case, there is time to repair the damage and continue to move forward. Donald Trump is a far different person then was Barack Obama, or most other politicians. He will move too quickly and make mistakes so we need to get used to it. The makeup of the US government with its checks and balances will hold most of the executive actions in place.

As I have said before I was not a supporter of Trump during most of the primaries but did support him in the end as being the best of the chooses given us. No this is not a resounding endorsement but I am confident that his ability to learn far exceeds others and that given time he will find the middle ground that US policy so desperately needs. In the meantime, it’s going to be a wild ride

 

 

 

2016 Another Political Upheaval in America


My country, the greatest in the world with an unbelievable diversity in culture and citizens will soon be faced with an impossible choice for its next leader, or so it would seem

The Republican Party started out with 17 candidates running for the nomination. Five withdrew before the primaries even started while another 11 have since dropped out of the race. This leaves Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. On the Democratic Party side, we started with what could be called five viable candidates and are now down to two. Of the two, Hillary Clinton, is the choice of the party elite, and barring unforeseen problems or an indictment, likely the nominee.

Donald Trump was considered a side show and a joke. Coming with what many considered a ton of baggage and no political background, all he had was name recognition and a lot of money. The power elites and the political pundits saw no future in his candidacy and down played early victories. Hillary Clinton on the other hand was the anointed one.  In the beginning she had what was seen as a clear path to the nomination, since none of her announced opposition had the money, standing, name recognition or power base that she did.  

So what went wrong? Trump beat all of the political professionals while Clinton faced, and may still face, an unexpected challenge from an unlikely source, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Following the primary in Indiana Trump defeated Sen. Ted Cruz, his closest rival, by double digits, Sanders then beat Clinton. Up until the week before, the polls had Cruz winning and up until the day of the primary Clinton was in a tight race but still leading. Even with this victory Clinton is still on track to win the nomination based on her past wins and a large number of “Super Delegates” in her pocket. Still it was not the cake walk/ Coronation she was expecting.

Again, what went wrong? While the main stream media ignores the plight of the democrats there is no end to the death notice for the GOP. Within its own ranks there is talk of the end and the need to find the soul of the party. Maybe this is not the end of either party just a restructuring and/or an update.

From time to time there are upheavals in the body politic, such as the recent advent of the tea party on the right and the new progressive movement on the left. In the tumultuous ‘60s we saw Barry Goldwater on the right and George McGovern on the left rise, and then go down in flames.  The existence of political splits is not new in America. The Progressive Party of the US, better known as the Bull Moose party split from the republican party over policy difference between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Then there was the Native American Party also known as the Know-Nothing-Party, which formed to oppose immigration. The immigrants where mostly German and Irish Catholics. Any quick study of these parties will show that many of the issues then are the same as now.

Why then is the world coming to an end for the Republicans and what are the problems being faced by the Democrats. Historically these types of movements die out quickly. Neither of the parties above lasted long and neither of the reform movements of the left or right held power come the next election cycle. The difference today, if there is one, is 24/7 news coverage and social media. The political elites and the talking heads/pundits have not caught up with the change. The ascendance of Trump and the intransigence of Sanders campaign have caught those who should know better off guard. Rather than the party controlling the people the people are controlling the party.  I am very concerned about the reaction of the power elites. From the beginning the Democratic National committee has made no secret about their desire to see Clinton the nominee and has manipulated the process to ensure that outcome. Sanders has managed to challenge the status quo and has made a fight of it. The advantage the Sanders insurgency has over Trump is that he cannot be challenged over his position relative to the political spectrum, he is a liberal. The republican leadership however is having a hard time reconciling their definition of conservative and Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz continued to tout that he was the only “true” conservative in the race. Going so far as to call Trump a New York liberal.

Since Trump has apparently vanquished all others he is now facing a revolution of the republican leadership because he does not fit the ideal. Recently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in an interview the reasons he is having trouble backing Trump is that he does not understand “conservative values.” Among these values and principles Ryan pointed out was limited government, the role of the executive, and adherence to the Constitution. These points and some others have been used to show Trumps lack of orthodoxy. I would point out to those conservatives gathering feathers and melting tar that the one overriding principle of the country is the voice of the people. I must tell the Republican elites that Trump won the primaries and the people may be changing the definition of conservatism. 

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor for the National Review in a past article quoted a conservative stalwart of the past, Russell Kirk, author of such books as “The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Elliot,” stating “Russell Kirk, who could not define conservatism in a paragraph, much less a sentence, would consider it folly to even try. Kirk wrote, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma.” Rather it is a recognition that life often pits some values against others, and that men are not always brilliant at sorting out which value should trump which in any given situation. As Edmund Burke noted, “The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man’s nature or to the quality of his affairs.”

In a similar vein William F. Buckley was asked in an interview if he agreed with the following:   Q. Book publisher Henry Regnery once said, “Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the times.” Buckley agreed whole heartedly. So what’s up with today’s conservatives?

Nothing is the answer, it’s the so called conservative leadership that is the problem. While Clinton fights the “true” liberals of her party in her march toward the nomination we hear of many on the left bailing out and promising, at the least, not to vote. The well-known conservatives are doing the same and much worse, they are actively seeking an alternative candidate to run as a third party conservative. In other words, they are doing everything in their power to elect Hillary Clinton. The logic is that she will be so bad that they get to pick the candidate in 2020 after a disastrous four years of Clinton.

The irony of this is that major conservatives such as Bill Kristol are talking to Mitt Romney as a possible savior of the conservative cause and third party candidate. You remember Romney, he lost as the republican party candidate four years ago because 3 million conservatives sat out the election, as they are threatening to do this year. Romney is also the person who refused to run during the republican primaries. The Romney who held so much sway over the republican rank and file that after he came out and attacked Trump no one listened and Trump just continued to roll forward.

Many writers are asking what has happened to the party of Lincoln and saying things like Clinton is more conservative than Trump. I will remind those that the party of Lincoln was a third party that was considered the left wing progressive party of the time and stayed in power until FDR. The democrats did not begin there swing to the left until FDR and still were mostly conservative until JFK in the 1960’s.

What we are seeing today then may be nothing more than another swing and realignment of ideals. The stance conservatism of Goldwater day’s finally giving way to a more pragmatic branch of conservative. The beginning may well be traced back to Reagan and the Bush’s. The democrats on the other hand are holding to dogma at least 50 years out of date. What we are then actually seeing is what has always made America great, the people are taking charge and making changes. Power elites should not worry, they will adapt to the changes and once more be in charge as the people go back to their lives, with the warning that they can do this again, as they have done before.