A string of observations
Obama’s question. Why are they so angry??? After they won. Good question. On cnn last night (Nov.5), Don Lemon had a bunch of talking heads from both parties. They spent their Time arguing but not listening. Particularly one person angrily questioning Obama’s right to be speaking out during an election, as in “What gave him the right…?” under which you could sense the racial animus.
From the New Yorker (Susan Glasser): 1/7/18
Can we move on? No matter the outcome, no one will ask that question this year. There is a dark certainty to what will follow this election. If the Democrats win, they will go for Trump’s jugular. Investigations, subpoenas, perhaps impeachment will unfold. These moves will not be accepted as legitimate by the millions of Americans who have kept the faith in Trump no matter what he does and says. If Republicans hold on, Trump, emboldened further, will show us what a Presidency unfettered by fears of congressional oversight really looks like. Few doubt that he may fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Defense Secretary James Mattis, or the special counsel, Robert Mueller, or perhaps all of them. He already believes himself to be a political “genius” who defied history and the collective wisdom of the experts to take the White House; it takes little imagination to see how he would respond to the validation of a second history-defying win.
If nothing is really changed, what happens during the next 2 years? Trump re-elected? The thought causes nausea extreme. Yet there seem to be too many of us who believe the lies he sells and who prefer fear to hope. People I saw at his rallies on TV; the women who need someone to tell them what to do, who don’t understand or ignore the lies he tells them, what motivates people like that? They are like the good Germans who believed what Hiitler and Goebels told them and went on with their lives in the face of the horrors of the “final solution” as if nothing unusual was happening.
News conference at the Whitehouse. Trump tears into Jim Acosta for no apparent reason and the escalates the battle with an aid trying to take the mic away from the reporter. Acosta just stands there holding on to the mic. Trump calls him names says he mistreats him and Sarah Sanders. A ugly, totally unnecessary incident followed by Acosta losing his White House accreditation and Sanders tweaking a doctored Vid clip making it look as if Acosta raises his arm against the intern so she can say he threatened the intern with violence. Civilized?
Theater for tv cameras. Major erosion of first amendment free press.
Settled by the Court? Acosta should have his badge back by now, but does he?
The Fires and Travel
Terrible, horrible fires in California. So many lives lost. Parts of Paradise look like the Apocalypse has happened. Of course, the Donald has to have something to say, so he criticizes California for poor forest management when if he looked at a map, the forests in California are National Forests under the tender care of his USDA Forest Service. Too much trouble to go look at a map, I guess. Easier to cast blame and talk nonsense about Finland.
Terrible trip to France for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Makes you wonder why he went after losing the midterm elections if all he was going to do was sulk in the Embassy and complain about the weather. Poor baby! Does he melt in the rain? He would have been better off staying at home. Maybe then he would have made it to Arlington Cemetery. This is not a President.
The new House of Representatives is full of the victorious from last week’s election. Some of the “progressives” seem determined to be as disruptive as the the Tea Party members were in 2010 only in a totally opposite way. There is something very destructive about the “take no prisoners” attitude of many in politics today. The new young members need to settle in together with the existing leadership before they jump to change everything. Learn the job before you start upending the Leadership.
Not satisfied with his fight with CNN, Trump has to take to Twitter to spew insults at members of Congress (Representative Adam Schiff). It was Sunday. Give it a rest!
Sorry, Mr. President, special counsels do not need Senate Confirmation. Attorneys General do. Decorum for everyone else. Sad, sad, sad.
Obama is getting it from all sides.
It’s so easy to criticize, and it seems that the overturning of Mubarak has made it the perfect week for all the assembled pundits to call it Obama’s fault and his failure. Writing in Newsweek, Niall Ferguson puts most of the blame on white House national Security advisor James Jones, who comes off badly in Ferguson’s comparison with Kissinger because Jones developed no “grand Strategic Design”. That kind of design belongs to the Imperial past, and it seems to me that Ferguson doesn’t seem to understand that the world had already changed even before the failure of the Bush era policies.
He’s pretty harsh:
Grand strategy is all about the necessity of choice. Today, it means choosing between a daunting list of objectives: to resist the spread of radical Islam, to limit Iran’s ambition to become dominant in the Middle East, to contain the rise of China as an economic rival, to guard against a Russian “reconquista” of Eastern Europe—and so on. The defining characteristic of Obama’s foreign policy has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to recognize the need to do so. A succession of speeches saying, in essence, “I am not George W. Bush” is no substitute for a strategy.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t recognize that what got us into trouble in the Middle East and radical Islam is exactly the “grand strategy” that Ferguson is so keen to bring back. The Age of Empire is over, at least the way that Bismark and Kissinger, so admired by Ferguson and others, envisioned it. Since the end of the Second World War, America has tried hard to replace all the controllers of colonial empires with itself driving a devil’s bargain between our promises to ourselves and our ways of behaving in the world beyond our shores. In the name of “safety” we have propped up too many unsavory dictators to count. We made fearful boogie men out of communists or any other leftists who just might want to threaten us, whether they did in reality or not. We overturned democratically elected governments all over the world in the name of safety from the “boogieman”. It made us as hated by the oppressed as the rulers of the former colonies and showed us to be hypocritical seekers of world domination. Now we have substituted al-Qaeda, Hamas, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood as the bogiemen of the 21st century. We are no more correct now in our estimation of so-called threats than we were about the “Communist Menace”. Our politicians have played on our fears for so long that the paranoia has become deeply ingrained even in places like the State Department as seen by Clinton’s instinct to follow the same old line with Israel and the other Middle Eastern autocrats by sending Frank Wisner as a special representative, and hiring thugs like Raymond A. Davis to play deadly off-the-books contractor spy games in Pakistan and elsewhere.
When liberals like Juan Cole see Obama’s reaction to events in Egypt as weak and indecisive, there’s something wrong with American perceptions of reality. What could Obama have done about a popular revolt against a brutal autocrat? What would a Grand Strategy have done but resort once more to force making the situation worse. It’s time for the elites of the world to begin listening to what their people are really saying, and what they are saying all over the Arab-speaking parts of the world is that they want freedoms long denied them by their leaders and by us. It’s long past the time for the “yankee” to “go home”. We can deal and trade with the rest of the world, but we need to do so fairly and without the implicit condescension that has been so apparent. Israel may have to learn to survive on its own, or not. They are no longer victims of anyone’s oppression, but oppressors themselves of those who do not belong to their exclusive religious club. They too, will stand or fall by their respect (or lack of it) for the humanity of others.