“Research shows that diversionary wars — wars started to distract the public from domestic unrest — are hard to start in democracies and rarely have the intended effect. Military operations in an already existing conflict are much easier to manipulate — and are not as risky as starting a war.”—Washington Post, April 13, Carrie A. Lee, an assistant professor at the U. S. Air War College.
I’m not saying the recent U.S.-led attack in Syria was entirely a mere diversion from all manner of things such as Donald’s sex life and infidelity, his low overall popularity rating, the budget, his attempts to ax social programs, investigation into possible Russian involvement with his election campaign or his current administration. That this was simply some noble-warrior gesture aimed at raising his poll numbers, overshadowing his misogyny, nepotism, croneyism, racism, his lowbrow name-calling, his petulant never-ending harping about “fake news,” his daily lies and exaggerations, his denigrating references to the less-fortunate as “losers,” etc.
That Syria operation did seem a proper thing in response to Assad’s gassing of civilians. The missile-attack on a few selected targets was the least Donald Trump could do. However, the suspicion remains among many that it actually accomplished little and was intended more for appeasing the public and regaining a little personal stature on the world stage.
Then there’s the way Donald has waffled on the imposition of additional economic sanctions on Russia for its support of Assad. (April 19—“President Donald Trump personally made the decision to abandon plans to impose more sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria's chemical weapons attack on civilians, according to three senior administration officials and a source familiar with the discussions.”) I can just hear Donald at the next one-on-one summit meeting: “I did the best I could get away with under the circumstances, Vlad.”
Duplicitous, Deceitful Donald is pretty impossible to trust. His motivation is ever suspect. He’s brought that all on himself. He also hasn’t made any attempt to disguise his love for military might at his fingertips over the everyday plight and problems of the individual citizens who make up our American society. Epitomized perhaps by his desire to blow $30- or $40,000,000 on a grand parade of military might down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C.—while at the same time attempting to gut the “food stamps” program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). As of January this year, the program involved 40,739,084 needy low-income people in 20,379,606 households.
This is the mental mood being enforced in the West Wing these days—where it’s “hit the road, Jack” for those who don’t dish out enough overt adulation or who give off hints of personal initiative.
This is a guy who would fire all professional athletes kneeling during playing of the National Anthem on football Sundays, seeking equal justice for Blacks on the American scene. Donald plays to his voting “base,” which is heavy with self-anointed macho white guys eager to worship a brute mentality. He appeals “bigly” for a guns, brass knuckles, “keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant” outlook on life for the hoi polloi . . . a “push that wimp of a loser off the edge of the sidewalk” sort of swagger by undistinguished sorts in search of supremacy on the cheap. He’s attempting to build a foundation for a greedy, immoral autocracy to be approved by voters in 2020. He’s an aging grump devoid of social conscience. (There is a word of Jewish origin describing “one who is stupid or foolish, or an obnoxious, contemptible or detestable person” that the censor found inappropriate here.)
In today’s muddled society I stand firm in the belief that “Black lives matter” more than money in the form of football ticket sales. Ostracized protest leader Colin Kaepernick, former Super Bowl quarterback, continues refusing to cave in by promising to no longer champion Black justice in return for being hired back into professional football. Bless him for not selling out. He’s a modern version of Rosa Parks, and I have no doubt that history will honor his example over Donald Trump’s. Donald would summarily defame and revile by executive order and personal tweets any Black man using an available pulpit in a humanitarian and altruistic manner.
Amsterdam, April 21—Kaepernick was awarded Amnesty International’s “Ambassador of Conscience” Award.)
Which brings us to what most recently illustrated to me what a two-faced double-dealer our occupant of the Oval Office really is. It was reported March 26 that "Congress was in a generous mood when it passed a spending bill last week, giving the military at minimum an additional $61 billion and boosting its overall budget to $700 billion this year.” See: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/03/26/596129462/how-the-pentagon-plans-to-spend-that-extra-61-billion
I recall how the mealy-mouthed horse-trading by Trump’s forces squeezed out a few key votes to gain passage of that budget bill. Like seducing Republican Susan Collins of Maine by promising that soon the Congress would deal with the DACA aspect of migration (an issue the resolution of which Trump now proclaims will go nowhere until he receives total funding for his border wall). Donald was pleased with the military money and signed the bill. But he was disgruntled over the lack of full funding for his dreamed-of anti-Hispanic wall along our country’s border with Mexico—plus some social-program funding that lent a bit of a bipartisan air to the overall bill.
By April 12 Donald was continuing his endless pushing of the envelope by announcing his desire to roll back certain spending in the massive omnibus spending bill that he’d just signed into law. Legally it would be called a “recission.” Translated: Donald’s word and promises aren’t worth squat. Congress generally, to its credit, rebelled against this proposed renege. Donald remains frustrated over not having a presidential line-item veto he can apply to legislation with a dictatorial flourish.
Much of the general public, of course, remains out of the loop on this sort of chicanery, as legitimate news goes unread or unheard by a great mass of those caught up in the detail of their daily lives in other regards. And for those led down the primrose path of Fox/Faux News, they don’t get much real information of this sort from Sean Hannity and his cohort.
Donald’s impatient shot at recission was precluded with his whining about his wall with which he wants to make history on behalf of his nationalistic high-fiving white guys.
Another story on April 11 was headlined “White House cracks down on public-aid progams.” The Washington Post story began: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs.”
These are indeed “the times that try men’s souls” as described in Tom Paine’s inspiration to the American Revolution and also a resurrection of the Biblical query in Genesis: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” There shouldn’t be any real doubt in the minds of average Americans that Donald Trump’s soul has been placed in the spotlight and found wanting.
Blather from Andrew Bremberg, director of Trump’s domestic policy council, included: “Common sense reforms to help Americans reclaim their independence” and to ensure that tax dollars are being spent on the truly needy. Somehow I see this all as part of a mind obsessed with rounding up taxpayer dollars to build a wall on the Mexican border.
Donald wants to institute broader work requirements on a variety of assistance programs. On the realist side, Valerie Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute, said a majority of those on assistance already were working—but that wages in many jobs remained too low for people to get by. “Work requirements are inconsistent with the realities of poverty in America and are unlikely to provide any resolution . . . The truth is that a majority of poor people who can work, do so—more than 60%.”
Casting one’s lot with Donald Trump—his appeals to greed, fear and individual supremacy—is a losing bet for humanity.Wealth’s comfortable and convenient, but it’s not justifiable by the misery of others. Prominence also is nice but only has virtuous meaning when it does not come to pass through the self-serving domination of others.
If there ever a year illustrating the importance of voting, it’s 2018—mid-term election in November that will determine the character of the U. S. Congress, which is our best bet at present in reining in a not-so-subtle painful and traumatic dictatorship.
DONALD’S TWEETS—One of his latest: “The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunky who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will flip . . .” That sort of thing’s beyond pathetic for a president of the United States.
Trump’s name-calling over recent years has been largely directed at women. He’s called them “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.” Of Carly Fiorina, opposing him for the Republican nomination he said during the debates: "Look at that face!” as an image of Fiorina popped up on the television. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” “She's been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby, OK," he said of Angelina Jolie to Larry King on live TV in 2007. "And, I just don't even find her attractive.” And there was no end to his remarks about Hillary. And others (Google something like “Tr ump’s insults of women”).
And that all reminds me of the admonition in the Bible (Galatians 6:79) that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Or consider Hosea 8:7—"They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.” So much for bullies and cowards.
And, by the way, Donald, next time you insult someone else’s intelligence, stop and consider that the “who” in your tweet above should be “whom.” It doesn’t take a self-proclaimed “genius” to know that.