Category Archives: General Interest

A recipe for more chaos

In September of last year, Hurricane Dorian was heading toward the Atlantic coast.  Most Americans have probably forgotten about this hurricane, because it didn’t turn into one of those major catastrophic hurricane hits on the United States.  However, Dorian does provide a clear historical template for how America’s partisan spin warriors (including the vast numbers of media spin warriors, who pose as “objective journalists) fight their petty spin battles in a potential national emergency situation.

The Dems and mainstream media spin warriors and Trump with his FOX News and Twitter spin commandos, are repeating their same stupid spin battles as this corona virus threat escalates.  Of course, it’s too early to know if, like Hurricane Dorian, America will receive only grazing coastal type damage with the corona virus or if it will turn into a Cat 5 level national emergency, but it’s clear that our president, a large number of our politicians, and our media remain more committed to their scorched earth spin war than to putting the welfare of the American people first.

During that Sharpiegate fiasco, I wrote:

“What’s so disturbing to me about this situation is that Trump decided to engage in fighting the media and demanding an apology from the media, all while Hurricane Dorian is still barreling up the Atlantic coast and thousands of Americans are in the path.  This is a weather emergency situation and the POTUS is obsessed, not with providing the most accurate and timely information to Americans affected by this storm, nope he’s fixated on winning a spin battle against the media.  The truth is Trump’s spin fight isn’t part of his DUTIES as president, especially during a weather emergency involving numerous states.

It’s easy to just blow this off as another Trump vs. media spin battle and brush it off as trivial, but here’s why it matters,

The executive branch owns our national emergency response and information, so the President has a duty to manage emergency services and information.  A large part of that information responsibility centers on providing the most accurate and timely information available.  Credibility is crucial.  The president scribbling on an official weather map with a sharpie destroyed the Office of President’s credibility.  Trump’s staff sitting silently throughout this destroyed their credibility too.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2019/09/06/sharpiegate-matters/

This corona virus spin battle shows every sign of becoming a repeat of the Hurricane Dorian spin battle.  The media launched into attacks that Trump was failing to respond appropriately to the corona virus crisis.  Trump countered by appointing Vice President, Mike Pence, as the administration’s point man on dealing with the crisis.  Dems and the mainstream media responded within minutes launching a massive smear campaign against Pence, to undercut his credibility immediately.  Trump, his Fox news mouthpieces and his Twitter spin commandos jumped into action attacking Dems and the media, but as usual, Trump can’t be quiet and let the government’s medical experts or his point man speak to the corona virus situation.  Trump jumped right into more attacks on the media, more bs statements about the stock market, discounting the danger the virus poses, and he blabbered on about the media creating a “hoax” at a Trump rally.

Yesterday, Michael Brendan Dougherty at National Review wrote:

“The wrong Donald Trump has shown up to deal with the coronavirus. One might have expected Donald Trump, a germophobe who spent much of his campaign lambasting the Chinese, to take an aggressive approach on the Wuhan virus. You’d expect the Trump who breaks taboos and shuts things down until “our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

As the spread of the new and still somewhat mysterious virus ramps up in Italy and Iran, and a few more cases emerge in the United States, maybe that’s the Trump we’ve needed. But we’re getting Trump the market whisperer. We’re getting a Trump who is obviously bothered by the drop in the Dow Jones. We’re getting a Trump who plans to campaign on the conventional measures of success favored by his predecessors. We’re getting a Trump who is downplaying the seriousness of this disease, who is probably acting too late, and who is making promises he can’t keep.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/02/coronavirus-president-trump-takes-wrong-approach-to-threat/#slide-1

Trump seems  determined to downplay the virus, all to counter the Dems and mainstream media hysteria about of the virus.  This is becoming the Trump Sharpie map level spin effort during Hurricane Dorian, where Trump insisted Alabama was in the direct path of the storm and he drew a black line, which included Alabama, on an official weather map.  While Trump dug in on his Alabama claim, the media ramped up attacks on Trump’s altered map antic.

During the Hurricane Dorian map situation, Trump was also spinning (lying) about job numbers, which is very similar to the unfolding stock market decline this past week, as fear and uncertainty about the corona virus grew:

“The day after he shared the Sharpie-doctored hurricane map to justify his belated suggestion that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama, Trump tried to spin the state of the US economy, which has emerged as his chief concern heading into the 2020 campaign. “Really Good Jobs Numbers!” he tweeted on Thursday.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/06/politics/sharpie-logic-trump-hurricane-economy/index.html

Before this blog post has even been completed, there’s a new twist.  Trump gave a corona virus update on the situation this afternoon.  The first US citizen has died from the corona virus.  The media peppered Trump with questions about Trump’s previous “hoax” comment and Trump-centered matters, not about the actual corona virus situation.  As usual, it appears to be a media determined to take down Trump and Trump determined to bolster Trump, when what America really needs is selfless leadership from our elected officials and a news media, who could step back from wallowing in victim hood and Trump derangement syndrome.

Trump running the Office of the President like a reality TV show comes at a serious cost to not only President Trump’s credibility, but it comes at a cost to the welfare of the American people.  Trump coming out and doing another briefing, trying to erase his mistakes and acting like this is just a Hollywood second take, erodes trust in both Trump and the entire executive branch.

This corona virus seems likely to spread in America and that assuredly will increase the death toll, all while America remains held hostage to a scorched earth partisan spin information war being fought out across American media and on Twitter.

It’s just a recipe for more chaos.

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Filed under General Interest, Information War, Politics

2016 spin déjà vu all over again

Although following politics has taken a backseat in my interests these days… once a political junkie, always a political junkie.  I still catch bits and pieces of our domestic spin information war, which seems to still be blowing hot air, unabated and still driven mostly by the media and political crowd on Twitter.  Last week, I saw President Trump on TV bragging about how important he believes his social media platform is to his political success.  He still remains 100% committed to his spin war effort, just as the Dems and their mainstream media loyalists are committed to their #Resist spin effort.

Our 2020 presidential election portends to be as surreal as 2016 and we can’t blame the Russians for so many Americans buying into Trump’s spin garbage, Dem spin garbage or the Bernie Sanders far-left nuttiness.

2020 being as off-the rails as 2016 is the only concrete prediction that seems incontrovertible at this point.  The Democratic Party now has a front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders, who isn’t even a Democrat, just like the “GOP Insurgent” in 2016 was a reality TV star, liberal media gadfly, NYC realtor, who spent decades buying influence among prominent Dem. politicians.  With enough influential Republicans willing to sacrifice their integrity to kiss Trump’s ring, an aggressive Fox News spin operation advancing Trump spin and an even more aggressive social media spin operation, Trump weathered the most relentless Dem/mainstream scorched earth spin effort ever.  And that brings us back to another Dem/media Trump-Russia spin effort in recent days.

It’s surreal in the past few days to see Dems and the mainstream media trying to generate another Trump-Russia hysterical spin effort, claiming Russia is trying to interfere in our 2020 election and promoting Trump, citing unnamed US intelligence sources, again.  Russian interference isn’t the largest information war threat to America.  Our own domestic scorched earth spin information war, which Trump, Dems, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, Wapo, NYT and most other media in America, who report on American politics, avidly participate in 24/7, on TV, on radio, but especially on social media poses way more danger to America than anything hostile foreign info war operations do.

Our domestic scorched earth spin information war remains a hamster wheel America can’t stop or get off.

Watching the Dem disarray and in-fighting being played out across the media airwaves and online, it’s rather amusing to think back to the beginning of the Dem primary season and the “we will not attack other Democrats” proclamations.  The long knives, wielded by Democrats, are now out for Sanders, assuring the Democrats will be in disarray, probably up until their convention.  The collapse of moderate Democrat efforts to gain enough momentum to check the far-left surge bolsters Trump’s reelection chances.

This 2016 déjà vu aura still makes me wonder about a Clinton machine effort to stage some sort of convention upheaval and push Hillary as the only real Democrat, who can pull the party together to defeat Trump.  While this sounds impossible, there’s a growing panic mode festering among a large swath of the Dem. chattering class and Dem power-brokers.  All of this simmering panic will feed unconventional gambits and even support for changing the rules to allow the party to put forth a candidate to take down Trump.  If there’s one group of Americans who live by spin, it’s the liberal mainstream media, especially those who were Hillary loyalists in 2016.

Admittedly, this idea sounds far-fetched, but I just feel Hillary’s steady media effort, has all been planned to keep her in the news, while Clinton operatives try to find a way to get her into this 2020 race at the convention.  This is her last chance to become the first female president in America and  I believe she will seize any opportunity (even one orchestrated through a corrupt spin effort and changing the rules) to try again.

Several years ago I bought Robert Bork’s, 1996 book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, on sale for $2.99  as a kindle book, but hadn’t read it.  I’ve started reading it, because somehow with both major political parties totally corrupted by liberal cultural rot, Bork’s book seems timely.  Trump is a product of that 60s liberal cultural rot and he’s corrupted the entire GOP with that rot and especially conservatives.  Reality TV culture is unarguably liberal garbage and Trump is a king of that medium, to the point he’s running his presidency as a cheap reality TV show.  Trump assortment of supporters and mindless followers have bought into Trump’s sideshow antics, his Twitter attacks, daily childish and cruel attacks and most will likely vote for him again.  Dems and the Democratic Party are now facing the prospect of far-left, Marxist, Bernie Sanders, also a product of the 1960s turmoil Bork wrote about, looks like he might walk away with their Democratic nomination.  Both major political parties are now in a state of collapse from corruption and abandonment of core principles.

What remains to be seen is if there’s a bottom or any realization by our spin combatants that our domestic scorched earth spin information war, which they are waging, has zero chance of “saving our democracy.”

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Pelosi’s “Italian grandmother’s move” failed

Two weeks into my husband’s home hospice care, some things don’t change.   My husband, laying in a hospital-type bed here at home, still wants his TV on FOX News 24/7, even though he pays very little attention to it.  Likewise,  I didn’t listen to any of the impeachment speechifying, but did catch bits and pieces of President Trump’s State of the Union address.

While I haven’t followed much politics, I’m learning that caring for someone confined to a bed is a challenge and I’m acquiring new skills by watching and talking with the CNAs and the RN, who make several home visits a week.  I’ve mastered changing a bed with a patient in the bed, because they don’t want my husband out of bed (not sure yet if that’s permanent or if he’ll regain enough strength to sit in a chair some) and I’m learning a lot of ins and outs of 24/7 bedside care.  These home hospice CNAs and RN have become my lifeline and I am grateful beyond words for their care and kindness.

Sitting with my husband, I did watch Nancy Pelosi’s staged spin stunt of dramatically tearing up her copy of Trump’s speech at the end.   Our American politics, despite the weeks of dramatic speeches about “upholding our constitution,” remains just endless, boring spin soap opera/reality TV antics.  Our American political class in Washington’s, only bipartisan work seems to be destroying the dignity of our constitutional republic.  It’s embarrassing watching so much of Trump’s reality TV/sideshow presidency, but it’s also embarrassing watching so much of the Dems and media staged spin show too.

When Nancy Pelosi regained the Speaker of the House position last year, the mainstream media tirelessly spun up Pelosi as this larger than life feminist Amazonian warrior/goddess persona, a woman who would beat Donald J. Trump into submission by the sheer awesomeness of her presence.  Pelosi’s daughter, Christine Pelosi, the Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus Chair, has become a mainstream media fixture since 2019, fabricating and amplifying this “I am woman hear me roar” mystique about Nancy Pelosi’s toughness and political superpowers.  The mainstream media hypes these insipid and disingenuous Christine Pelosi takes on her mother:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is from San Francisco and her daughter Christine Pelosi, the California Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus Chair sat down today with ABC7 news anchor Kristen Sze.

She says the Speaker’s move to rip up the President’s speech was completely unplanned and came after a string of events.

Being seemingly snubbed by the President when she extended her hand to shake his before the speech and having to sit through what the House Speaker calls a series of untruths.

In fact, the Speaker was quoted today saying that the President shredded the truth, so she shredded his speech. Christine Pelosi says it’s an Italian grandmother’s move.

The House Speaker’s own mother once took away the dinner plate of a rude guest and then came back to the dinner table and carried on as normal.

Christine Pelosi also dismisses critics who say that Madame Speaker’s move was not reflective of taking the high road and that it’s standing up to the President as she has done many times before.”

https://abc13.com/5906883/

Yet watching the steady stream of Chuck Schumer/Nancy Pelosi staged preemptive spin antics, as they traipsed to the White House to do battle with Donald Trump, this post SOTU Pelosi spin antic came across as weak, pathetic, beneath the dignity of her office and a new low in this destructive spin war, not as some tough “Italian grandmother’s move.”  C’mon, as far as optics go, Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech comes nowhere close to the impact of the horse’s head in the bed optic in the movie, The Godfather.  Pelosi ain’t the spin warrior queen who can slay Trump and she’s looking sillier and more unhinged the further she goes trying to beat Trump at these absurd spin war antics.

Trump’s loud, lowbrow reality show presidency receives constant criticism from the mainstream media, much of it deserved, but this same media fails to hold Dems to the same standard (just like FOX News and most conservative media make excuses for Trump’s excesses).  Pelosi didn’t come across as strong by tearing up Trump’s speech; she looked like an angry, vicious shrew.  And it appeared to me that she had planned this spin stunt, as tossing a bone to her rabid far-left faction, who wanted to boycott the SOTU address.  Her explanation that tearing up Trump’s speech was “the courteous thing to do” speaks volumes about the complete collapse of ethical standards in Washington.  Her daughter trying to cast tearing up Trump’s speech as some bold “Italian grandmother’s move”  made me wonder how many Dem spinmeisters worked on coming up with that spin line.

Pelosi looked petty, vindictive and frankly afraid of her far-left base, which added to the complete disarray of the Democratic Party’s 2020 primary process, bodes poorly for Dems chances in 2020.  It also makes me still believe that somehow, someway, the Clintons are going to orchestrate a spin narrative and political maneuver for Hillary to swoop in as the avenging angel, who will unite Dems and lead the charge to finally defeat her 2016 nemesis, Donald J. Trump.  How this might come about, I have no clue, but if anyone can finagle a political path for Hillary, Bill Clinton, one of the smartest political minds in America, would be the person to do it.

Yes, I’m still of a mind that the mainstream media’s other feminist goddess might rise from the ashes of her 2016 defeat to try save the Democratic Party… and America from a second President Donald J. Trump term.

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Careening down the road to self-destruction

President Trump went one step further than I predicted in my last blog post, although I’m not feeling any satisfaction for calling Trump’s course of action correctly.  All I feel is increasing concern for America’s future.

Instead of just a victory lap interview, Trump opted for going big, where he went to Toledo, OH last night for a rousing victory lap rally.  He hurled out insults, taunts, plenty of dishonest statements all to a wildly cheering crowd.  He worked hard to ramp up rage against Democrats, while wrapping himself in the American flag.

What he did not do is treat this serious foreign policy crisis seriously.  For Trump it was all about him and how great he handled it, acting as if this one skirmish with Iran means he won.  He also did not buckle down and start personally preparing for the many challenges to come in dealing with Iran and other foreign policy crises that will assuredly follow this change in US policy toward deterrence.

This Trump victory lap rally was an appalling spectacle of poor judgment, venality, lack of seriousness and the same old Trump Reality Show presidency.  The main thing, I believe, galvanizing much of Trump’s support is the Democrats’ alarming Trump derangement spin antics.  Yesterday news broke that the Ukrainian airliner crash, just hours after the Iranian missile strikes against US forces in Iraq, was caused by an Iranian missile attack.   Dems began ramping up a spin effort shifting blame for this very likely major Iranian error by Iran, to blaming Trump.  Here are the Dem spin messaging efforts, which I retweeted with comments:

The two words these Dem spin attacks corrupted were “crossfire” and “collateral damage” absolving Iran from responsibility for their missile taking down a commercial airliner, killing all 176 people on board.  That plane took off from the airport in Tehran, where Iran has total control over that airspace, failed to halt commercial flights and then likely mistakenly shot down a commercial airliner.  There was no “crossfire,” since only Iran was launching missile strikes that night and the “collateral damage,” was caused by Iran firing that missile at a commercial airliner that they allowed to take off from the airport in Tehran.

Interestingly, some liberal journalists and Dem mouthpieces realized this spin attack against Trump was making them look like Iranian propagandists, so they tried to quell this Dem spin attack from amplifying even more. Chuck Todd changed course quickly, as did Michael McFaul, former Obama ambassador to Russia, who has a very active Twitter spin presence, plus I noticed many other Dem spin mouthpieces on Twitter work to try to stop their own Dem spin attack.

It was a disturbing American spin cycle to watch last night, with the Dem spin attack trying to shift blame for Iran’s missile strike to Trump (America) and Trump taking to the stage in Toledo, OH to do an appalling, saber-rattling, dishonest,victory lap rally.  Trump reverted back to form – lying, recklessly disregarding facts and blurring details, but the overarching theme was to incite his followers to hating Democrats and hurling out streams of ad hominem attacks.  Trump leaves all the heavy-lifting duties of his presidency to other people, while he wallows in his trash reality show antics.

Both parties continue to hurl America to a state of being seething, mindless mobs or raging partisans led by shallow, corrupt charlatans.  Even worse, most of the media in America behave even more dishonestly and corruptly than the partisan politicians and operatives, who orchestrates this endless scorched earth spin war.

America continues to careen down this road to self-destruction, with no leaders stepping forward to press on the brakes.  Just full SPIN ahead, 24/7.

 

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A quick Trump score card on the Iran crisis

American foreign policy decisions about America’s role in the world, especially in the Middle East, always remain deeply controversial and hotly debated.  My first interest in foreign policy began at the tail end of the Vietnam War, when I was probably around 11 or 12 and started trying to understand politics.  It’s funny that one of my most vivid memories is watching TV with my paternal great-grandmother, who despised Richard Nixon (and Republicans) and spewed anti-Semitic aspersions whenever Henry Kissinger was mentioned on the news.

As things go in families, my mother was a staunch Republican.  My great-grandmother also loathed my mother even more than she hated Nixon and Jewish people and we lived in the same house.  My mother insisted we care for our ailing great-grandmother each and every day, talk to her respectfully, and my mother did her best to make sure my great-grandmother was properly cared for as her health declined.  My mother never argued with my great-grandmother, no matter how many mean or spiteful things my great-grandmother said and did.

Besides being a Republican, my mother grew up in a neighboring county in northeast PA and my mother told us, the people where my father grew up didn’t like the people where she grew up.  She said they called them Pine Swampers, if you can believe it.  My mother was hated by my great-grandmother for being a Pine Swamper… seriously.

That’s the thing we all have to keep in mind when arguing about politics and foreign policy.  First and foremost, while it’s easy to look at the world with a tribal mind-set, dividing every issue into an Us vs. Them equation, the truth is the world is filled with people – we are all people.  If Americans lose sight of that in our politics and allow ourselves to become rabid partisan animals, then all the virtuous “American values” we claim to be fighting to uphold, will be lost.

Last night when Iran launched some missiles into Iraq and for several hours tensions ran very high, it sure looked to me that America’s already unhinged scorched earth spin war got hit with a massive waft of hostile foreign propaganda messaging.  Twitter turned into an even crazier disinformation and misinformation zone than usual.

President Trump responded today with a careful speech that sounded Reaganesque in tones of deterrence and urging Iran to engage in diplomacy.  It was a pitch perfect speech, I think.

While I firmly support a policy of deterrence and believe President Trump handled this situation appropriately, it always comes back to Donald J. Trump is no Ronald Reagan.  People knew where Reagan stood on politics, especially foreign policy, because he’d consistently articulated where he stood and people, both friends and foes, knew it.  With Donald J. Trump, he’s a complete mishmash of conflicting opinions that often compete in the same word salad sentence.  He’s a man who thrives on being the star of the show, not on setting his ego aside for the good of the team – whether that team is his own national security team, the Republican Party, or the American people.

It was a welcome sign to hear President Trump deliver a speech moving American foreign policy back toward deterrence being a anchor.

However, I felt anything but reassured, after the first moments of genuine relief.  I don’t know if he’ll stick with this, go rogue embracing some other bizarre crap he hears on cable TV, or if he will start lashing out at the sure to follow diplomatic and likely military challenges that will assuredly follow.

Instead of buckling down and working closely with his foreign policy team to develop comprehensive plans, develop an organized, professional White House press operation, beyond his personal Twitter account, or start working to rebuild relations with America’s allies, which are in tatters due to his own reckless disregard for America’s need for friends in the world, I saw on Twitter, that President Trump will be doing an interview with Laura Ingraham, likely a victory lap for Trump to brag and and pat himself on the back.

My gut reaction was Trump’s speech was just an act and his Twitter Trump petty attacks and reality TV show presidency is the real Trump.  All you’ve got in life as a leader is your credibility and Trump’s own one-man show spin circus presidency has greatly damaged Trump’s credibility.  His misguided attacks on America’s allies, while sucking up to America’s enemies in hopes of striking some big deal, has fed Dems and mainstream media endless spin ammo, but even worse than that, he’s burned bridges with America’s friends, while getting nothing in return for sucking up to Putin and Kim Jong Un.

The initial Israeli reaction after Trump’s careless tweet threat about 52 targets and Iran culture sites, seemed hesitant.  I wondered if the Israelis were worrying they might get Twitter Trump handling this Iranian crisis rather than a serious American president.  Once Trump walked back his attacking Iranian cultural sites threat and delivered a serious, calm, professional speech articulating a clear policy, Israel got publicly on board.

America deserves the calm, professional President Trump every day, not just in a crisis.

Trump’s failure to understand the self-inflicted damage he does to himself by feeding his political enemies endless spin ammo, which they beat him with 24/7 boggles my mind.

Even among many Americans who support his policies and his handling of this crisis, there are still doubts about whether Trump can be trusted.

All is not lost, Trump can still begin the process of building trust and rebuilding relations with our allies, but first he needs to realize his own mistakes.

For America’s sake, I hope he does.

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Trump gives “conventional wisdom” the boot

In the wake of the news that President Trump had authorized a military strike to kill Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, I had high hopes that a new American strategy would emerge and perhaps it might, but… President Trump’s thin-skinned outbursts will assure the every step of the way for U.S. diplomats, military commanders and political supporters ends up mired in endless, Trump-inflicted controversies, that were completely avoidable.

I spent the weekend tweeting support for President Trump’s decision to authorize the military strike, but just like with his digging in insisting his call with President Zelensky of Ukraine was a “perfect call,” Trump on Saturday tweeted:

The media leaped on attacking Trump’s mention of Iranian cultural targets as threatening to commit war crimes and it descended into an all-out spin attack against Trump from Dems, mainstream media, and even Iranian officials, playing for international sympathy and support.

All of this could have been avoided if Trump had been more careful about the words he speaks… and tweets.

Instead, on Sunday Trump went on a diatribe – doubling down on his threat to target cultural sites in Iran.  He even went a step further and threatened to impose heavy sanctions on Iraq, if they kick the U.S military out of Iraq.

It sometimes seems like Trump believes his only adversary is the mainstream media in America.  I believe it stems from his anger over the media turning on him in 2016, after months of giving him endless free media to wreak havoc on the GOP primary.  The media turning on him seems to have enraged him to the point that getting even with them is the thing that drives him more than any of his presidential duties and responsibilities.

Trump could have just walked back that Iranian culture comment and selected a less inflammatory choice of words.  Or really he could have just said, “We will follow the law.”

Instead, he chose to lash out.

The mainstream media and Dem hypocrisy will aid Trump, of course, and most Republicans will stick with him too, but his fragile ego over criticism and unwillingness to ever admit to a mistake will assure every step of the way will be much harder, because of his doubling down on a poor choice of words.

For America’s sake, a new approach to dealing with Iranian terror is welcome and long overdue.  Stepping away from the carved in stone “conventional wisdom” also seemed like a breath of fresh air, because for decades, “fear of all-out war with Iran” or “igniting a larger regional war” held American foreign policy thinkers trapped into accepting a self-imposed helplessness.  Trump’s saying no more to taking Iranian aggression as our only option, has created an opportunity to finally check Iran’s reign of terror.  Whether Trump can curb his most self-destructive impulses to follow through and capitalize on this opportunity remains to be seen.   Even if he fails, at least, he threw a wrench into buying into decades of fear-mongering masquerading as sacred “conventional wisdom.”

Too often foreign policy and military strategists become trapped by fear-induced “catastrophic thinking,” that they begin to believe adversaries are omnipotent or any forceful action might precipitate a crisis that propels us into a nightmare scenario that we can’t control.  Of course, catastrophic outcomes aren’t impossible, but neither are they inevitable.  The death toll and carnage from decades of unchecked Iranian terrorist activities has been a very heavy price to pay, all because “conventional wisdom” fearfully warned us we are powerless to do anything forceful to stop it.

We should not let fear control our destiny.

 

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New horizons for 2020… reading more books

Well, it’s after 11 pm on New Year’s Eve and here I am writing, because I don’t want to end 2019 without getting a blog post finished.

After writing so much about politics, this blog post will be about books and reading, plus whatever else flits into mind that’s generally related to books and reading.  On various sites, including Twitter, there seem to be a lot of year’s end type stories about “best books of 2019” or “I read 127 books this year.”

While I peruse other people’s book lists and jot down books from their lists that interest me, my own reading tastes veer from historical romance novels to serious books on foreign policy, military affairs, U.S. history, spy novels, general fiction, and even the classics, so it’s doubtful anyone would find my reading list very useful.

Numerous articles have been written about General James Mattis’ voracious reading habit and I always find it interesting what books generals recommend, although most of them stick to military-themed novels, which is what makes Mattis so interesting to me.  He has mentioned The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye.  I knew I had that novel somewhere and I finally located it among some of my old historical romance paperback novels.  I bought this somewhere around 1979/1980, I think.  The copyright of this paperback is 1979 and hard to believe it cost only $2.95.  I read some of it, but never finished (it’s 1189 pages), so perhaps in 2020, I’ll give it another go.   Mattis also recommended Scipio Africanus: Greater Than Napoleon by B.H. Liddell Hart and I actually have that book too… along with Marcus Aurelius, another of Mattis’ faves.

The one stand out novel I read this year was the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, a WWII story with characters who stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.  The writing alone soars, but then there’s the captivating cast of characters, and a plot that was way larger than “just another WWII novel.”  It’s the type of story that can touch just about every human heart, even those who have no interest in WWII, I think.

Reading matters a great deal and while harping on reading sounds like a tired old public service message, being able to read truly does open doors of opportunity.  Even more importantly, it allows even the poorest people the chance to explore and learn about the world.  With books anyone can travel to new and fascinating places, travel through time, and even travel to imaginary worlds.  The ability to read is one of the great equalizers around the world, but especially in a republic like the United States of America.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave in 1818, but he died a world-renowned abolitionist, orator, writer and most of all a free man in 1895.  Teaching slaves to read was against the law, but after his mistress began teaching him to read, the fire was lit in Douglass to acquire an education despite the risks.  His master caught his wife teaching Douglass and forbade her to continue the lessons, propelling Douglass on a lifelong journey to acquire an education:

“Seized with a determination to learn to read, at any cost, I hit upon many expedients to accomplish the desired end. The plea which I mainly adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of using my young white playmates, with whom I met in the streets as teachers. I used to carry, almost constantly, a copy of Webster’s spelling book in my pocket; and, when sent of errands, or when play time was allowed me, I would step, with my young friends, aside, and take a lesson in spelling. I generally paid my tuition fee to the boys, with bread, which I also carried in my pocket. For a single biscuit, any of my hungry little comrades would give me a lesson more valuable to me than bread. Not every one, however, demanded this consideration, for there were those who took pleasure in teaching me, whenever I had a chance to be taught by them.”

Douglass, Frederick (2009-10-04). My Bondage and My Freedom (p. 85). Public Domain Books Kindle Edition.

My Bondage and My Freedom is in the public domain and available free online at gutenberg.org and in kindle format at amazon.com.

The love of books and reading is one of the best gifts you can pass on to your children and grandchildren. My four granddaughters are all teenagers now and all of them love to read.  My daughter made going to the library a part of their ordinary routine, which is what my husband and I did with her and her siblings.  When my granddaughters were younger, I bought them kindle fires, so imagine my surprise a few years ago when they told me they prefer reading actual books, because it’s more enjoyable holding an actual book.  My kids bought me a kindle many years ago, in hopes that I would buy fewer actual books, since my bookshelves are crammed full.  I still read kindle books, but I also still buy some actual books (some habits never die).

While it’s easy to get caught up in the constant doom and gloom prognostications about how everything in America is going to hell in a hand basket… because of evil Trump or the evil Dems, perhaps the truth is there’s still plenty for us to remain hopeful about.

Despite concerns about the demise of reading in America, Pew Research Center found that roughly 72% of Americans said they had read a book in the past year, across several formats and that statistic has remained unchanged since 2012.  Audiobook usage is up, but print books still remain the most popular book format.

In April 2019, I moseyed to my local public library and got a new library card, since I hadn’t been to the public library in several years.  My public library resides in a lovely, brand new building and a lot had changed besides the building.  I learned about free digital services, Hoopla and RB Digital, that I can access from my phone, tablet or desktop PC and sign out audiobooks and ebooks,  all with just my library card number.  I can renew library books and pay fines just by signing into my library account online.  Using Hoopla and RB Digital, I joined the audiobook listener ranks in 2019 and while I still prefer reading an actual book best, the production quality of some of these audiobooks completely exceeded my expectations and kept me captivated from beginning to end.  Of course, there were a couple audiobooks where the performer’s voice grated on my nerves and I just couldn’t finish the book.

We’re now into 2020, so let me wish everyone a very Happy New Year and if our crazy political sideshows get too tiring, just pick up a book, find an ebook or listen to an audiobook to escape the politics and media madness.

Goodnight.

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Merry Christmas!

https://thegraphicsfairy.com/retro-image-adorable-foxes-christmas/

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Are we headed toward a civil war?

If anyone asked me if I think President Trump should be removed from office today, well, the truth is I don’t care one way or the other.  I do care about, to use the constantly hyped phrases, “preserving our Constitution” and “saving our democracy,” but frankly these yahoos in Washington and the media hysterically spinning 24/7 about the yahoos in Washington have zero capacity to preserve or save anything.  Ditto that for the political Twitterati crowd/political punditry puff dragons.

When both sides in a political battle are thoroughly corrupt, the Dems orchestrating this impeachment inquiry and President Trump, who lies about almost everything and cares nothing about The Constitution or rules of any sort, so long as they benefit him, how does carrying out an extremely divisive political process like impeachment remedy any wrongdoing?  Will removing Trump end the political corruption or bring American politics back to some sane standards?

Would removing Trump “save our democracy” or “preserve our Constitution” or would it just lead to more political chaos and a weakening of our ordered liberty?

With a Republican-controlled Senate, at best this impeachment effort seems like a poorly orchestrated spin effort.  At worst it’s another effort of powerful Dems to appease the radical #Resist fringe of their party, to quell an internal revolt after Dem leaders have failed to deliver on removing Trump from office, after 3 years of promising, “Trump’s going down” and “this is the beginning of the end.”

Hypothetically speaking, if Trump was removed from office before the 2020 election, Dems would not graciously accept a President Pence – they would begin spinning up impeaching Pence too and doing everything they could to wreak havoc on the GOP… just like they did in 2016.  In fact, Dems and their media cohorts would be energized (emboldened) to engage in even more extreme scorched earth spin info war tactics.

Trump would not go quietly and just more chaos would ensue.

It seems to me that changing our media culture, where extreme spin information warfare is the norm, to more objective, less overwrought political reporting and punditry appears the only path leading to actually “saving our democracy” and “preserving our Constitution,” but don’t hold your breath waiting on our political class and the media, who provide the platforms and fuel that enable spin war to even operate, to ever willingly forswear their vicious and corrupt spin information warfare.  They gain power and make a fortune off of spin war and the American people literally are virtual prisoners whenever they tune in to watch or read American news reporting and commentary.

If you wonder where the epicenter of the American scorched earth spin war is, it’s currently Twitter.  That could change if the American media and political class decide to relocate to some other online social media hub, but for now it’s Twitter.  President Trump understood the blue check-mark crowd politicians, journalists and pundits generate spin cycles on Twitter.

Twitter is a modern public square where many voices discuss, debate and share their views. Media personalities, politicians and the public turn to social networks for real-time information and reactions to the day’s events. But compared with the U.S. public overall, which voices are represented on Twitter?”

https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/

Pew Research Center came up with some interesting statistics about Twitter usage in America, like only 22% of Americans actually use Twitter.  Out of that 22%, the actual number of Twitter users generating and keeping America’s spin war blowing is even smaller:

“In addition to teasing out these differences between Twitter users and the population as a whole, this analysis also highlights the sizable diversity among Twitter users themselves. The median user tweets just twice each month, but a small cohort of extremely active Twitter users posts with much greater regularity. As a result, much of the content posted by Americans on Twitter reflects a small number of authors. The 10% of users who are most active in terms of tweeting are responsible for 80% of all tweets created by U.S. users.”

Most of the social media spin attacks generate from Twitter amplification, even if the original video or photos originated on a different social media platform.  For instance, the Covington Catholic video started on Instagram, was picked up and amplifed on Twitter:

“Late on Friday, the account posted a minute-long video showing the now-iconic confrontation between a Native American elder and the high school students, with the caption, “This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protester at the Indigenous Peoples March.”
That version of the video was viewed at least 2.5 million times and was retweeted at least 14,400 times, according to a cached version of the tweet seen by CNN Business.
The video shared by @2020fight did not show what preceded the confrontation between the Native American elder and the high school students.
The video had been posted earlier on Instagram by someone who was at the event, but it was @2020fight’s caption that helped frame the news cycle.”

Of course, the biggest Twitter “influencer” in the world is President Donald J. Trump and he knows it.  Twitter gives him a direct path, bypassing the mainstream media gatekeepers, to tweet instantly.  He uses his Twitter account to generate his own spin attacks and incite his followers, but he also disrupts or blows-up Dem/mainstream media spin attacks, often with a single tweet.

The main thing working against America actually having another “civil war” in the sense of actual combatants engaging in real war is this 10% of the American population on Twitter running 24/7 agitation propaganda (our domestic spin war) would have to put down their cell phones and get off their butts to make that happen…

I just don’t see that happening, although it seems prudent to expect more random loons getting incited and acting out and more of the silly mob street protest antics, where loudmouth political agitators spew from their soapboxes , while their “followers,” and especially their media enablers, rush to tweet out video highlights and hype the “crowd size”…

I suspect more blood would be spilled, as heads exploded from the mind-crushing stupidity, than from actual “war,” as America’s scorched earth spin war spewed into more virulent partisan divides.  Spin war has real impacts for the American people being ruthlessly manipulated by agitation propaganda 24/7, but for the participants, well, many of them get noticed and gain a following to whom they can hawk books, elicit campaign donations, and become a blue check-mark worthy “influencer” on Twitter…

So much “winning.”

 

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A different kind of Christmas arrangement

Who says you can’t find some interesting stuff on Twitter:

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