Democracy #Featured

The Dotard Wants War and Concussions

Take that, you John McCain you.

And NFL players who kneel for the national anthem? You need to speak the way we want you to speak. And hit harder, man! Be like Aaron Hernandez.

But what’s happening with Stephen Curry you ask? We don’t want your NBA Championship demeanor and terrific play and ambassador-like personality anywhere near the White House. You’re not invited!

Kim Jong-un should not, in any way, feel singled out. But I certainly understand how hurt he must be that the old man in the White House is yelling at him for having a nuclear program and firing missiles into the air above our allies’ heads. ‘Rocket Man’ is a good song. He should see it as a compliment.

In other words, international diplomacy has been reduced to name calling and 6th grade playground theatrics. Remind me again; who thought it was a good idea to elect Donald Trump? Yes, I’m sure the base loves the muscular response, which they see as a refreshing change from those pantywaist presidents named Clinton, Bush and Obama. Threatening a scurrilous, dangerous, immoral dictator will get us what we want because, after all, we’re the United States and all dictators cower when the president tells them he is unhappy.

Just look at Iran. They can certainly see that Donald Trump is going to decertify the nuclear agreement we signed with them two years ago. What the president doesn’t see is that this is going to make him an unreliable deal-making partner with Iran, North Korea and any other country who might have an interest n United States’ affairs and trade. The simple, elegant “No” will be this year’s most diplomatic response, and one that will not make the White House happy. Not that the past 30 years of State Department public and private efforts have done much about North Korea. They’ve ignored agreements, broken them and generally thumbed their noses at us. But we could always say that we acted in an adult, dignified, internationally-approved manner while it was happening. In short, we were a role model for the democracies we represented. This administration has spent all of that political capital in nine months. Pregnancies should go better than this.

Just to show that a lack of diplomacy should not be limited to the world stage, the president has now picked a fight with Senator McCain for rightly opposing a disastrous bill that’s not really related to health care, but to the tax savings it can generate for the $1.5 trillion dollar giveaway to the rich that the GOP has been salivating over since January.

Our federal system is a wonderful creation, but health insurance should not be subject to the whims of governors and state legislators who have, shall we say, a spotty record when it comes to science, women’s health care, birth control, budget-balancing tricks and recognizing that religious belief will not cure all of our ills. All Americans should receive health care that takes into account their basic needs and doesn’t allow anyone to charge them more for pre-existing conditions, maternity care, mental health or addiction services. What’s worse is that this bill would penalize those states that expanded Medicaid to cover their most vulnerable citizens and give more money to those that shunned Obamacare. 

Which means, in our contradictory world, that those states that despise federal involvement in their affairs will be the largest beneficiaries of…federal largess.

And really, some people, like the president, should just stay away from sports. Yes, the man plays golf. Oh, does he play golf! But in every other way, he misunderstands the professional sports culture in the same way that he misunderstands larger American culture. The athletes and teams that have decided not to visit the White House are doing so because of the president’s words and actions, rather than as a result of some media cabal his supporters blame for his low poll numbers. Because, really, will professional football become a better game by having more players suffer concussions and brain damage and CTE?

As for the national anthem? Until 2009, NFL players used to stay in their locker rooms when the national anthem was played. You’d think the players had stood on the sidelines since 1814, when the song was written, but in fact that is not the case. You’d also think that they were the first athletes to cause controversy around the anthem, but that isn’t true either, if you take Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos and a host of other athletes into account. The opposition to the president’s words have come from players, coaches and NFL owners, many of whom are staunchly Republican. They get it. The president does not.

I understand that Trump is angry because it looks like the health scare law will lose, North Korea will not back down and his preferred candidate in the Alabama Republican Senate primary is behind in the polls. He’s not the first president to face multiple crises.

But he’s not helping himself or the country with his shameful responses.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Democracy #Featured

The Trump Doctrine: Shoot Off Mouth, Then Foot

At this point, the main difference between President Trump’s (shudder) relationship with Kim Jong-un and Mitch McConnell is that Trump has asked only McConnell to resign. Kim just gets the bluster treatment. Of the two, McConnell is in the biggest trouble.

Here in New Jersey, and only about 10 miles from the president’s retreat in Bedminster, there is calm. The area is primarily Republican, so most of the population either supports Trump or would never think of voting Democratic no matter who’s on the ballot. In fact, Bedminster, one of the horsiest places in the state, is fast becoming more Democratic due to the building of a huge condominium development, the Hills, back in the 1980s. Prior to that, the area was solidly GOP when the party was sensible. The Hills included the demon seed of New Jersey politics, affordable housing, which brought in moderate income people like me, and just like that, Democrats began being elected in the land of Malcolm Forbes.

There’s a reason that wealthy towns in New Jersey fight tooth and nail not to have to build affordable housing, or prefer to sell their housing credits to more, ahem, modest towns. Of course, you’ll never hear Trump talk about affordable housing or how the neighborhood surrounding his golf club is changing. That’s for losers. Not winners like him who’ve signed major legislation to…to…so sad!

It is in this context that our chief executive has taken to his Twitter account, threatening fiery death, destruction, ruin and an eternity in hell to…Mitch McConnell, whom the president blames for not getting a terrible, horrible, hellfire health care bill through Congress, a Congress that finally realized the political peril of throwing 22 million people off their healthcare. That’s not good enough for our once and future dear leader. He was absolutely no help in the process, mainly because he knows nothing about health care policy, and focused on threatening Senators who have stouter backbones than he does and who do not fear his empty suit.

Now Trump wants tax reform and infrastructure, but these will fail for the same reasons that repeal and replace failed; because the president does not know enough to lead on these issues and cannot speak in more than 140 character bursts. Tax reform is also looking more and more like reform to make wealthier people even more wealthy, while here in New Jersey we might lose the state tax deduction, which will result in the savaging of the middle class taxpayer.

Infrastructure will also go badly because the plan is for the government to spend $200 billion and private industry to spend $800 billion. But if there’s no profit, why would private concerns pony up that kind of money? It’s pretty obvious that we, the people, will end up paying more in fees and tolls to reimburse the private concerns, who might cut corners if their projects turn out to be too costly. Say what you will about public works projects; most of them last if you maintain them.

All this will be moot if we get into a nuclear war with North Korea, which we won’t. And without a coherent policy, or an actual diplomat in South Korea to carry our messages – which we don’t actually have – this will remain a war of words which we can’t win. And our allies and China should now be convinced that our man in the White House cannot be trusted to confer with them or to behave diplomatically. Trump figures he can yell at them like he did the plumbers and spackle guys in his towers when they didn’t do the job as he expected. Then he stiffed them.

What Trump did with North Korea is the diplomatic equivalent of stiffing a contractor. We, the people, unfortunately, will get stuck paying the invoice with our souls.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Featured

Former Army Colonel Confesses He’s Very Concerned about America’s World Relations

You got Vladimir Putin and Russia saying that relations between the U.S and Russia is at an all time low. You got Donald Trump authorizing 60 missiles dropped in Syria, you got another massive bomb called, The Mother of All Bombs raining down in Afghanistan and you got Donald Trump and North Korea threatening nuclear destruction. And all this is happening within Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Put all that together and you have a recipe for global destruction, a time that concerns a seasoned veteran of U.S foreign affairs history.

“I’ve been through the Cuban missile crisis, I’ve been through the Bay of Pigs before that, Vietnam War, the two Iraq wars and so forth,” Former Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson told MSNBC. “And I’ve got to tell you, though, I’ve never been so concerned, as I am now, for the state of this country and world relations.”

Video

Democracy #Featured

Who Knew It Could Get So Dangerous?

On the (months ago) heels of a 40 watt light bulb going off in the president’s head about how complicated health care could be, comes another revelation – unstated, about how dangerous the world could be.

Perhaps Donald Trump believed that throwing 59 missiles at Syria would startle Presidents Assad and Putin to the point that they would give up the fight and flee. Or maybe Trump giving his generals the green light to MOAB the Afghani desert would cause ISIS to run a white flag up a flagpole like the Vietcong did (not) when Richard Nixon decided we had too many leftover bombs in our arsenal and thought that Christmas would be a fabulous time to send a message of peace war.

In any case, this is now getting dangerous.

Never mind that North Korea’s attempts to rattle us ended in a failure that can be traced back to President Obama’s program to disrupt Kim Jong-un’s military through cyber-warfare. President Trump (shudder) will try to take credit for waking up in the morning and thinking that his actions will solve any and all real world problems. This is the kind of diplomacy we’ve seen before from politicians who believe that sending a military message without any diplomatic follow-up will yield meaningful fruit. It will not. Add the yeasty smell of a candidate who questioned the validity of NATO, and you have the makings of a loaf of something that makes matzah seem like a 7 layer cake.

For three months we saw Donald Trump’s attempts at domestic policy and the utter failure that resulted from his ineptitude. Foreign policy is much trickier and, as we’ve seen, can kill far more people than repealing the ACA. Rex Tillerson has his work cut out for him.

Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a president with some foreign policy and diplomatic experience? Like…

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest