Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Elitist Trump White House Reveals ‘Compassionate’ Rationale Behind Cuts to Meals on Wheels

Ho, ho, ho!

It's the Christmas season, and this seems like the right time to share some heartwarming stories that show human beings at their most compassionate!

Here is an inspiring story that you might want to explore about how the White House is cutting funding for Meals on Wheels, out of compassion!

Kind of brings a tear to your eyes, huh?

The rationale behind it, surely, is that these people are lazy and relying on entitlements, which they of course tell us stifles creativity and personal ambition. So, this group of filthy rich bureaucrats led by Donald Trump, a man who never in life had to wonder where his next meal was coming from, and who never knew anything but the most ritzy, gilded, elitist life, is encouraging these people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

True, this story was from earlier this year, but it seemed so much in keeping with this Trump White House, as well as with the evangelical Christians who were so instrumental in bringing us President Trump to begin with, that it seemed worth sharing this holiday season.

Ho, ho, ho! And remember, this story is brought to you by the man who was elected by the good Christians who strongly emphasize keeping Christ in Christmas, although they sometimes forget Christ's message in Christianity.

White House Says Cutting Meals on Wheels Is ‘Compassionate’ By  Eric Levitz March 16, 2017:

Miami Dolphins Upset New England Patriots on MNF

New England Patriots 


Miami Dolphins

Miami 27, New England 20 - Well, this was a bit of a surprising result, in keeping with other results this weekend. It looked like a typical game through the first half, with the Pats doing just enough to win, in trademark fashion. They were not dominating - hell, they were not even winning -but a close win for the Pats appeared to be the most likely scenario.

But then, the Miami Dolphins came out swinging in the third quarter, dominating and scoring 14 unanswered points, to build up a comfortable 27-10 lead. 

New England's offense did not look spectacular, and in fact, had a bad day, at least by their standards. The running game was not a factor, and Tom Brady completed 24 of 43 passes for 233 yards in a losing effort, with one touchdown and two interceptions. 

Jay Cutler had a terrific night for the Dolphins, completing 25 of 38 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns to help lift Miami to a much needed victory.

Miami's playoff chances are slim, and they need a lot of help, as they do not control their own destiny. Still, all of that said, the fact of the matter is that they played extremely well when they absolutely had to, handing New England a rare loss, as they had not suffered a defeat in over two months. 

A solid win for the Dolphins, and a flat performance that led to a potentially costly loss for the Patriots. The Pats will go to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, in what will likely be a game for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Dolphins, meanwhile, go up to Buffalo, in a game where the winner will surely stay alive in the playoff hunt, while the loser likely will see their playoff hopes extinguished.

Monday, December 11, 2017

NFL 2017-18 Week 14 Review

Chicago 33, Cincinnati 7 - This was one of those mild surprises from yesterday. Here, I expected the Bengals to show some pride and strength, being at home, and having some (albeit not much) hope for some miracle scenario that they might qualify for the playoffs. But first and foremost, they needed to win, and not only did they fail to win, they got blown out and humiliated at home. Chicago's offense looked like it had not in a long, long time, and the Bears defense was all over Cincy, containing them to a pedestrian single touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky once again played well enough to give fans in Chicago reason to be optimistic about the future. The Bengals? Not so much.   My pick: Inaccurate

Detroit 24, Tampa Bay 21 - The Lions absolutely needed to win this one, and even though it was not pretty, they did manage to do that much, and kept their playoff hopes alive in the process. They seemed to have the edge for most of this game, seemingly dominating as they built up a 21-7 lead. But Tampa Bay rallied in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns to pull even, although Detroit was able to keep composed enough not to blow it. In fact, they were able to get a late field goal to clinch the win, as they more escape with a win than anything else. But again, they got done what they needed to get done in this one.  My pick: Accurate

Green Bay 27, Cleveland 21 (F/OT)- The Browns are really hungry for a win, obviously. They have performed well in recent weeks, fighting tough opponents and coming close to finally winning. Yet, wins just barely elude them, time and time again. The Browns looked like they would finally produce a solid win, taking a sizable lead against Green Bay in this one. However, the Pack battled back, with two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Then, a horrible pass by DeShone Kizer in overtime resulted in an interception in Cleveland's territory, which obviously presented a golden opportunity for the Pack. They capitalized, with Brett Hundley throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams, who scored the touchdown and kept running right into the lockers, like Flipper Anderson did against the Giants in the playoffs, or like Forrest Gump did in that wonderful movie. Victory to Green Bay, and the Browns look increasingly desperate to avoid the ignominous fate of  a winless season. Time is running out for them, and this might have been their best shot out of the remaining games to produce that long elusive win.  My pick: Accurate

Buffalo 13, Indianapolis 7 (F/OT) - Buffalo was very snowy, and that added to the dramatic effect in this one, big time! The Bills and Colts both struggled, as the weather conditions were obviously brutal for this game. Visibility was as bad as I remember seeing it for an NFL game, reminiscent of the Fog Bowl many years ago up in Chicago. Obviously, that did not make for a high scoring contest. But the Bills and Colts went into overtime, and the Bills found a way to win, to stay very relevant in the AFC playoff picture.  My pick: Accurate

Carolina 31, Minnesota 24 - Sooner or later, it seems, the big winning streaks end. And so it was, with the Vikings suddenly looking potentially like the NFC powerhouse, and the Panthers fighting with everything that they have for their playoff lives, Carolina pulled off a big upset win and, in the process, humbled the Vikings. True, Minnesota will will the NFC North anyway, they just have to wait another week or two to make it official. But they lost their privileged position for home field advantage, at least for now, with this loss, coupled with Philly's big win at the Rams. As for Carolina, they manage to get back into a first place tie with the Saints, which means that they control their own destiny at least to qualify for the playoffs, and still have a decent chance to win the division, unless New Orleans goes undefeated the rest of the way. A huge win for Carolina, and a bad loss for Minnesota.  My pick: Accurate

Kansas City 26, Oakland 15 - With their backs very much against the wall, Kansas City finally came out swinging, and showed a little bit of the talent and resolve that saw them get off to such a hot start earlier this season. The Chiefs jumped all over the Raiders in the first half, grabbing a commanding 19-0 lead, and held on to win for a convincing, and very timely, win. Just when the Raiders seemed to have recovered enough to pose a serious threat to KC, the Chiefs delivered what is likely a knockout blow to their chances of a division title, or even to reach the playoffs. A critical win for the Chiefs, and a crushing loss for the Raiders.  My pick: Inaccurate

San Francisco 26, Houston 16 - The 49ers won two big road games in a row now. They handled the Texans, earning a road win, and only the second win for them this season. No, they are not as good as playoff teams, but they do play hard, and are tougher than that 0-9 start to the season suggested. Now, they are showing it. As for the Texans, it seems that they have long ago given up on this season, knowing full well that everything is out of reach for them. This was just another in a long list of disappointments for a Texans team that should have been better than they are, frankly. My pick: Inaccurate

Dallas 30, N.Y. Giants 10 - The Cowboys appeared dead just a few weeks ago. but after two straight division wins, they once again look very much alive. Not that circumstances favor them, because they are on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in, and needing some help. If they win out, they likely will win it, but not definitely. After all, they are two games behind New Orleans and Carolina, and a game behind the Falcons, who hold the tiebreaker over Big D. So do the Packers. So do the Rams, if they should lose the division race to Seattle (which I personally still feel is likely). Dallas is not likely to make the playoffs, but at least they are fighting to stay alive, and that is something. And they had absolutely no problem lassoing my Giants, who are among the weakest teams in the league. Frankly, I am glad the Giants are not playing Cleveland, because the Browns probably would not longer be winless after that one, the way these Giants are playing! My pick: Accurate

Denver 23, N.Y. Jets 0 - The Broncos played so poorly for so long, that you kind of got used to them continually losing. I figured that they had given up on the season, but they not only won yesterday, but pitched a shut out against a playoff hopeful team. Sure, the chances that Gang Green would make the playoffs were slim, and now, those chances are basically completely gone. But it was not just the the Jets lost, but the way that they lost, failing to produce any points, and not being a factor for most of the game, that hurt the most. At precisely the time when a win seemed certain, and when the playoffs (at least continuing to compete for them into late December) seemed not just within reach, but almost a sure bet. Instead, they get pounded by a team that had not won a single game in over two months. Go figure! My pick: Wildly inaccurate!

Arizona 12, Tennessee 7 - This was a costly loss for the Titans. They lost to a fairly weak team that they should have beaten, and it set them back for both the division lead and hopes, as well as their playoff hopes. Right now, they would not be in. They need to regroup, but the big game for them is that showdown upcoming against Jacksonville. The Jaguars won, but the Titans need to keep pace with them, at least keep on their heels, to make that big showdown meaningful. They simply cannot afford more losses like this one. As for Arizona, it was an impressive win, but far too little and much to late to really help them stay relevant in the playoff picture.  My pick: Inaccurate

L.A. Chargers 30, Washington 13 - The Chargers are heading to the playoffs. I am almost sure of it. This is a red hot team, despite what appears, on the surface, to be a modest regular season record. Remember, this team started off 0-4, and seemed dead in the water, continually losing games in heartbreaking fashion, one near miss after another. Well, right now, they seem to have found more solid footing, and they look like a team with a serious killer instinct. They were all over an overwhelmed Washington team yesterday, and they looked very much like a playoff bound team and even, dare I say, a division winner, with the way that they played yesterday. I think the Chiefs might be in trouble, despite winning against Oakland yesterday, and even with home field advantage when the Chargers and Chiefs meet next weekend.  My pick: Accurate

Philadelphia 43, L.A. Rams 35 - Just one week after suffering their first tough loss in roughly two months, the Eagles bounced back in a big way with a huge win against the Rams. It was their second consecutive game on the West Coast, but they fared much better this time, holding their own in a tight, back and forth contest against the Rams, and eventually, finding a way to pull this one out. This, coupled with the Vikings loss, puts the Eagles right back on top of the NFC playoff picture, and home field advantage once again looks very much within reach. There was good news, also, as this win finally officially secures the NFC East for Philly, and a playoff bye is virtually assured, as well. The bad news? Carson Wentz left the game with an injury, and it remains uncertain how serious it is, or how long it will impact the team. Otherwise, only good news for the Eagles with this win. My pick: Inaccurate

Jacksonville 30, Seattle 24 - Okay, I have to admit that I underestimated the Jaguars in this one. My expectations were what they have been for several years, that the Seahawks surely could not have fallen so quickly back into the pack, since so many of the tools that got them to elite status a few years ago are still in place. Yet, they seem to have lost a step or two, as they keep losing big games like this one. It went back and forth, and the Jaguars more survived this than dominated it, or anything. Yet, the win allows them to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South once again, and they assured their first winning season for the franchise since 2007. A solid and huge win for Jax, another disappointing loss for the 'Hawks. My pick: Inaccurate

Sunday Night Football - Pittsburgh 39, Baltimore 38 - Another incredibly boring result involving the Steelers. It was a back and forth game, and just when it seemed that Baltimore surely would win, Pittsburgh predictably pulled through in the end. Thrilling, huh? Sorry, but I cannot get excited for the Steelers, when they have a criminal behind center serving as their star quarterback. he should be in prison, rather than making his millions on the football field. Hopefully, they lose somewhere along the line before ever making it to the Super Bowl. I seriously have lost a lot of respect for this franchise ever since they opted to not only hang onto Roethlisberger, but to outright protect him for his inexcusable actions.  My pick: Inaccurate

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Our Visit to Snowy New York City

My son and I visited the big city one day after the first snowfall of the season.

Trump Impeachment Vote Will Not Take Place - Thank the Democrats

Al Green, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Texas, had formally introduced a vote to impeach President Trump.

The measure was defeated...by his fellow Democrats.

We have all witnessed the enormous irresponsibility of this man in his tenure in office, which feels long already, but has actually been quite short, at not even one full year!

During that time, he has shredded the Iran deal, announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Accord on the grounds that he does not feel that climate change is actually as serious an issue as the rest of the world does and does not believe that humanity is responsible for it. He also just announced that the United States would be moving it's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, so that in yet another way, the United States stands alone, this time as the only nation to officially recognize the disputed city as the official capital of Israel. In an incredibly short period of time, he has managed to turn off numerous other world leaders, most notably traditional allies. Now, we have Pope Francis showing visible dismay after meeting with this king of narcissism. Just after Trump's meeting with European world leaders, several European heads of state - most notably Germany's Angela Merkel, the head of the largest and most powerful European nation - announced publicly that the United States could no longer be relied upon, and Europe needed to take matters increasingly into it's own hands.

Of course, that is just some of what he did before the rest of the world. What has he done domestically? Well, after several failed efforts at repealing Obamacare, he finally gutted it with Executive Orders - the very same kinds of Executive Orders that supporters of Trump acted so offended and outraged by when President Obama did them, and they blasted him for executive overreach at the time. And now, the Trump Tax Plan, which many are rightly calling the Trump Tax Scam, which feels like a more apt and honest description of what it actually is. It will hurt the middle class and the poor, and very predictably, will benefit the most privileged Americans, and the major corporations, of course.

Through all of that chaos - and this presidency has been nothing if not chaotic - we have had to endure Trump's lies, his excessive narcissism, and classlessness and cluelessness, and his damn tweets. His approach is not only beneath the office that he is supposed to represent, but far, far beneath it. When you think of some of the great minds and great men who have held the office - for all of their imperfections - and you think of Donald Trump, it just makes you shake your head and wonder how in the hell we have reached such depths in this nation now.

Out of 194 Democrats in the House, 127 Democrats (roughly two-thirds) voted against the measure to even bring up a vote on the impeachment of President Trump.

I can understand politically why they did it. After all, next year is an election year, and Democrats supposedly want to wait until they have a majority (they are assuming they will have the majority) before they take any such action. After all, with Republicans in control, they clearly will not actually go through with getting rid of a Republican president. If they bring the vote up before Congress, than numerous Democrats would have to explain during an election year why they voted against impeachment. Also, President Trump is very unpopular right now, but a vote to actually impeach him might galvanize his base, even those who's support was wavering. Suddenly, we might see a political resurgence of what is increasingly being referred to as Trumpism, which frankly, should never have come into existence in the first place.

However, I think the Democrats are, predictably, miscalculating. They only think in terms of conventional political strategy. In other words, they think only of the results, which for them is all about winning elections. And they think that a more conventional approach works, or will work.

They learned nothing from their humiliating defeat last year. 

The Democrats, obviously, are supposed to be the opposition party. We were told by many Democrats that there should be no normalization of Trump, because there was nothing normal about this guy. Yet, for all intents and purposes, we have seen exactly that here, domestically, in the United States, even while Trump himself has produced nothing but chaos for the United States, both domestically and especially internationally. 

This is exactly how most of us skeptics expected the Democrats to react. They acted outraged at first, but before too long, it was overly cautious and opportunistic. Yes, opportunistic, like Trump himself, just waiting in the grass like a coiled snake, ready to pounce.

Except that Trump and the Republicans are much better, and much more natural at it, which is why they continue to win election after election. That is why Democrats keep losing major elections in supposedly shocking fashion, despite polls showing a vast majority of Americans being opposed to Donald Trump, and a ridiculous majority of Americans being opposed to the Republican controlled Congress. 

Want to know the sad truth of the extent of how warped politics has become in the United States? President Trump's approval ratings not hover around 35 percent, according to recent polls. He is lower than any other man who has held the White House this early into their term. Yet, he remains firmly in power, and some are suggesting - with legitimacy - that he could, and probably will, win the 2020 election. The Republican Congress is even lower, at about 16 percent. Yet, Congress members are re-elected over 95 percent of the time. A majority of Americans want a better, more affordable healthcare system, yet we never seem to get that. What we got was Obamacare, and even when a majority of Americans wanted to keep that, Trump killed it with his Executive Order, as well as some sneaky additions in this ridiculous tax plan. Speaking of that tax plan (or rather, tax scam), approval ratings for that were never higher than 25 percent. Yet, it passed the Senate, and it seems like a mere formality before it is on President Trump's desk, where he will sign it into law. Never mind that it passed the Senate in the middle of the night, before any single Senator was actually able to read the approximately 500-page bill. 

Yes, this is where we are in American politics. We have a President who lost the majority vote last year by nearly three million, yet he claims to have won a historically dominant vote, claiming that it was a wide mandate. We have a majority of Americans increasingly catching on that trickle-down economics does not work and has not worked historically, yet this tax bill effectively reformed the American economy to make it the very picture of trickle-down economics. Marijuana legalization is now supported by a majority of Americans, yet the Trump administration wants to crack down on this wave of legalization in individual states. According to polls, 70 percent of Americans believe in climate change and feel that we need to do something, while the Trump administration officially wants to do nothing. No, worse than nothing. They pulled us out of a binding international agreement, have made dumping in streams far more easy for major polluters, and have opened up national parks for drilling and for plundering. 

What does it matter what the polls say, when we so clearly are being occupied by a hostile force?

And by that, I mean both President Trump's Republicans, as well as the complicit, mainstream Democrats!

Most Americans now feel that the Democrats stand for nothing except opposition to Trump. That is why they lost the 2016 election, because all they talked about was why Trump would be so bad. They were right, he is bad. But what did the Democrats stand for, exactly? A majority of Americans could not say. Hillary Clinton claims that she talked at length about some of what she stood for, but what were those things again? All I remember her doing last year was "defeating" Bernie Sanders while effectively controlling the clearly rigged Democratic primaries, thus reinforcing doubts about her honesty and integrity, and then talking at length about how bad and unstable Trump was. She could hardly stand on solid ground when discussing what she stood for, because she only stands for things when she could possibly get some measurable political gin from them. That, or some money, like those speaking fees she received by those big Wall Street banks.

So, can anyone really tell me, concretely and with no ambiguity, what Hillary Clinton actually stood for, rather than allegedly stood against? And even if there some ideas or proposals that she stuck to, were they detailed, and did she truly possess the consistency in character that would allow most Americans to believe that she would actually fight for them once in office? I mean, the mainstream Democrats seemed to have no problems with her character, but it seems that they also were to dismiss clear indicators of her not being trustworthy. When she is caught lying about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia, mainstream Democrats too easily dismissed it, while the rest of us paid attention to something truly revealing about her. When she told the Wall Street banks that she felt that it was fine to have both a public and a private position on banks, they too easily and quickly dismissed it, but the rest of the country paid attention. When she asked for help from Democratic party leadership, like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz outright stated Clinton did, the mainstream Democrats too conveniently dismissed it, but the rest of the country paid attention. Is it any surprise, then, that they too easily and quickly dismissed unfavorable polls that showed Trump beating her before she officially got the nomination?

Some might dismiss this as old news, as irrelevant, because it is part of the past. But it is not the distant past and, most importantly, the mainstream Democrats have not shown any serious signs of having learned any lessons. They are still turning their hopes towards other mainstream Democrats, dreaming of a Joe Biden run, or perhaps to Kaine, or other very mediocre, frankly untrustworthy candidates. I saw one person writing about their hopes that Al Franken would basically get past these recent allegations against him, and make a run for the presidency, even though he himself has suggested that he would never run for the White House, and this was well before these charges were brought up.

Many of these people, and like-minded people, were as dismissive of Bernie Sanders and his ideas, as they were with any seemingly glaring imperfections associated with Hillary Clinton. I saw a number of them dismissing what they called "pie in the sky" ideas, such as a single-payer healthcare system that covers everyone, or free college - even though both of these things exist in numerous countries already, and are hardly unrealistic goals for us to achieve. The message from mainstream Democrats for people who believed that these things were not only possible, but downright necessary for the nation to keep improving and for our standard of living to remain competitive with these other nations is that we Americans could not do it. Talk about defeatism. Why would these things not only be possible, but have already been done in so many other nations, yet somehow impossible here in the United States?

But, of course, private interests and the profit motive trump everything else here in the United States. These profit motives kill the good ideas that could truly improve out national standard of living, and both the Republicans and the Democrats are guilty of this. Why do we not have some kind of truly universal, affordable healthcare system in this country? Because it cuts into the profits of the healthcare industry and big pharmaceutical industry. Why do we not have free college? Because it would threaten the profits of private education institutions, as well as for those wealthy Americans who can actually easily afford the costs, and want to keep the wealth, and the most plum positions, within family, rather than having to compete for them. Why do we have such an unfair and outrageously oversized prison system? Because doing away with it, dismantling that system, would obviously hurt the for profit prison system, because people are obviously raking in the dough from what has become a new version of slavery in this country. Why do we not have legalized marijuana? Because it would cut into the profits of the alcohol, tobacco, and paper industry, to name just a few. 

Yes, the profit of the few is the reason that we have seen our standard of living decline for decades now, and it is also the reason why we are unlikely to raise that standard of living, at least if we continue to vote for the mainstream parties, the two major parties. Why? Because they are like auctions for special interests, who look to purchase investments in essentially owning politicians, who will then do their bidding. When corruption becomes endemic in the marbled halls of Congress, this becomes the real agenda, the real priority, for these politicians, which is how we got to the point we find ourselves now, with a de facto corporate supremacist state. Everyone knows it, but no one knows how to dismantle it.

I will tell you one thing, however. We are not going to see this end if we keep electing the same types of corrupt politicians. That is why Hillary lost, because for far too many, she represented exactly a continuation of the same old same old in Washington. At a time when people were fed up with politics as usual, the mainstream Democrats truly believed that her experience, which was seen as tainted, should stand to her benefit. As unbelievable as it seems, despite how everyone knew that Trump had such an extensive and well-documented history of being a liar and a con artist, he was more trusted than Hillary, and probably precisely because he could rightly claim not to be a Washington insider, and he correctly identified that Washington corruption had reached epic proportions and needed to be reigned in. True, most people, including myself, had absolutely no faith that he could bring integrity back to Washington. But many believed his claims that he could not be bought or sold, and they would never believe Hillary if she made the same claim, and really, that was not without some justification. Also, many just voted for Trump to shake things up, knowing that he would piss off "the establishment." That he did not represent serious improvements in people's lives seemed to be lost on them, when he convinced people that he would do for the country what he had done for himself, in building up his financial empire. 

That is why so many of his supporters remain loyal to him, and why they get so outraged whenever there is any mention of possible impeachment. Indeed, with the current political climate in this country, such an action might just wind up triggering an actual second civil war. Why? Because to them, it would be the corrupt elitists in Washington trying to get rid of a threat to their privileged status. Again, facts do not matter. That Trump has proven himself to be an elitist, which he has been all of his life, does not matter, or is not believed. The fact that Trump has proven himself to be incompetent as leader according to many around the world is also easily dismissed, because when the president throws this absurd notion that any and all criticisms of him automatically fall into the category of "fake news" and his supporters buy into that, there really is no arguing against it.

And so, Democrats once again predictably walk away, despite how bad things are getting. Trump clearly is a threat to our democracy (what remains of it, anyway), and is a dangerously unstable leader. He predictably pushes a narrow, elitist agenda, yet he claims otherwise, and his legions of gullible supporters believe his every word, while he laughs all the way to the bank. And the Democrats, who see opportunity in all of this, are once again very cautious, to a fault. 

That is why they will lose, because they are trying to outmaneuver the current Republican party at the game that Republicans themselves have long ago mastered: profiting from manipulation and propaganda. 

Really, it is not a secret why Republicans continue to win, and even to dominate, what is going on in Washington. It is not a secret now, and has not been a secret for decades. As Harry Truman once said, "If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time."

The Democrats will continue to swirl the rope of opportunism around in hopes of drawing attention, and getting a large crowd to donate money and, ultimately, to vote. In their attempts to lasso golden opportunity, and they are doing it now as we speak, they are attempting to appear like a unified opposition party, while simultaneously trying to purge Bernie supporters from the party. They believe that the middle ground will continue to win elections, even though it clearly did no such thing for them last year. And all too predictably, the Republicans will give the Democrats enough rope to allow them Democrats to hang themselves with. Really, this is something that we have seen time and time again, like Charlie Brown lining up to kick that football that Lucy is holding, only to have it pulled away at the last moment, and to fall flat on their backs. If they keep going this way, you can bet that after the 2020 election, they will once again, also predictably, be finger pointing towards anyone and everyone but themselves for yet another dismal and dispiriting failure.

ABC News: Majority of Americans Say Democrats Stand For Nothing Except Being Against Trump (VIDEO):

Trump impeachment vote shot down as majority of House Democrats join Republicans to kill resolution by Emily Shugerman, December 6, 2017:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Under One Year of President Trump, Germany Has Had Enough

Earlier this week, Donald Trump announced that he would be moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And like with so many other things that this man has said and done since becoming President, reaction was swift and mostly negative. There were calls for violent protests, and indeed, protests were seen in much of the Middle East. For many Arabs, this latest move was just confirmation of what they largely suspected, that Americans might claim to be somewhat neutral in the debate between Israel and Palestine and a potential two state solution, but the reality is that the United States always seems to side with Israel, and that despite some window dressing to appear neutral, the United States will forever side with and favor Israel. 

Now, there were some who were jubilant about this announcement. Many Israelis were, obviously. They made the move to make Jerusalem the national capital many years ago. However, no nation had their embassy there (although some used to), because it was recognized by the world community as disputed territory. For all intents and purposes, Jerusalem is a divided city. There is West Jerusalem, which belongs to the Israelis. And there is East Jerusalem, which has been recognized as belonging to the Palestinians. But Trump's announcement is being regarded as legitimizing Israeli claims to all of Jerusalem, so indeed, many Israelis are happy. Netanyahu looked downright jubilant.

But again, most of the world was clear in condemning Trump's actions. Like so many of his decisions and opinions, it is being regarded as reckless and not well thought out at all. While Trump himself has remained defiant, and suggests that this is just an acknowledgement of reality, most of the world clearly seems to reject his thinking, and reinforcing America's increased isolation since Trump took over. Indeed, the United States sees itself as more and more isolated with seemingly every action and every policy coming out of the Trump White House. Americans had better get used to it.

Case in point would be the reaction out of Germany. Now Germany, along with the rest of western Europe, are traditional allies with the United States. That is understandable, as these nations, by and large, share some similarities politically, economically, culturally, and historically. Western Europe and the United States became especially close particularly in the postwar years, when they joined together to form NATO to keep the Soviet threat in check. Also, there were clear signs of mutual cooperation and respect both economically and politically. 

That period appears to be ending. If there were signs of that - and to be sure, there were always differences of opinions that resulted in friction - those signs have never been as blatant and transparent as they appear to be now. The close cooperation between the United States and western Europe was seriously threatened during the administration of George W. Bush in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and it clearly existed when it was discovered, under President Obama, that the United States had wiretapped the offices of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.

Yet, even those earlier signs of rising tensions and suspicions pale in comparison to what has been going on ever since Donald Trump won last year's presidential elections in the United States. That election result shocked and alarmed - some might even suggest horrified - many around the world. Coming as it did just months after Britain had similarly disappointing and horrified the world, and especially Europe, by voting to leave the European Union (Brexit), there was growing feeling in Europe that they were dealing with two English speaking countries, and close allies, who were choosing to go in a very different direction than the rest of the world, and perhaps especially away from Europe.

Still, once Trump's official election win became clear, despite some obvious and serious trepidation, there was a general response of let's just wait and see what we end up having, from the masses of people opposed to Trump both inside and outside of the United States.

Well, we have waited, and we now have seen what the Trump presidency will be like. As most skeptics predicted, it has offered nothing of real substance, much like the main man behind it. It is a reflection of Trump himself: loud and boisterous and overly sure of itself, despite no real cause for all of this bravado for any thinking, halfway objective person. His America first policy betrays and overly, overly paranoid way of thinking, and very public dismissal of science and good taste more generally has sickened the world. His recklessness and crass approach has rubbed many people the wrong way, and this is especially true in Europe - perhaps especially in Germany.

Some German citizens - not the government - were warning about the dangers of having a populist politician with a big  mouth and with a certain bravado like Trump in charge, and in a thinly disguised comparison with a certain former leader of Germany, they warned that Germany as a nation had tried it, too, and look how well that turned out.

Indeed, a vast majority of Germans disapprove of Donald Trump, and that is no secret or surprise. What might be a surprise, at least to Americans, is that they view the United States under Trump as a more serious threat than either Russia or North Korea, in a poll and news story that actually reminded me a bit of a similar poll in Canada about a decade and a half that revealed that a wide majority of Canadians viewed the United States as a more serious threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Indeed, after European leaders first met with now President Trump earlier this year, several European heads of state warned that they no longer felt that they could rely upon Britain and the United States - again, two former longtime allies - as reliable partners anymore. The most notable world leader to do this was, of course, Angela Merkel of Germany, just hours after first meeting Trump in person. It should also be noted that just days earlier, Trump's trademark style of empty bravado, so beloved by tens of millions of Americans apparently, even sickened the Pope, who looked visibly unhappy and distressed after meeting with President Trump.

Those differences only grew over time, especially after President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, insinuating that it had been a "bad deal" for the United States, and that the entire world was laughing at his nation. In fact, it seemed that the whole world was more disgusted by Trump's crass but typical dismissal of science than they ever were laughing at the United States for joining the world community on the international accord.

And now, with this latest announcement, Merkel went even further, not merely suggesting that the United States was no longer a reliable ally, but that the United States, at least while Trump is in charge, is in fact not an ally at all. 

Can you blame her?

Indeed, this is exactly what millions of American opponents of Trump were worried about, that this man's shallowness, which tens of millions of Americans apparently cannot see through, is all too transparent for the rest of the world. Nobody outside of American borders seems fooled in the least. And traditional allies are leaving us in droves. Allies like Germany, and much of the rest of western Europe. And Mexico, of course, because whatever some paranoid Americans believe, the United States and Mexico were close allies and partners in trade, but this has been greatly compromised. And indeed, some other nations are starting to think twice, such as Saudi Arabia, a nation that has been extremely reluctant to criticize this country before, but which blasted Trump's decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. 

As many people warned and predicted, the United States under Trump is making very bad decisions, decisions that might haunt it for years to come. In less than one full year (although it feels like Trump has been in there longer than that), the United States has indeed lost close allies and grown ever more isolated, while China's power and influence grows. The Trump presidency has benefited them, as they have used every opportunity to step in and assume leaders roles around the world that Trump's isolationism and provincial way of thinking is leaving open.

The world is trying to warn Americans, and indeed, the increased isolation should be alarming enough to anyone paying attention. The rest of the world is screaming, trying to warn Americans that they are heading for a crash, and tens of millions of arrogant and ignorant Americans are convinced that they are doing so only out of jealousy or hollow anger. 

In fact, they are trying to warn us of the clear dangers that seem all too clear to them when an idiot like Trump takes charge. And nowhere are they screaming out warnings faster or more fiercely than in Germany.

Again, can you blame them?

Germans see Trump as bigger problem than North Korea or Russia Reuters Staff, December 5, 2017:

Germany Denounces the United States Under Trump's Leadership, Releases Historic Statement

Friday, December 8, 2017

John Lennon Remembered Three Decades and a Half After His Murder

One last blog entry dedicated to the anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Hopefully, I am not overdoing it. But one of my earliest memories of actual news events in my lifetime was the death of John Lennon. Also, since both of my parents, and other adults that figured prominently in my life while a child, either had been into the Beatles or still very much were, the music of the Beatles, as well as Lennon's solo works, were pretty huge for me. I loved their music and their history, as well as their message. This was most likely the case with Lennon in particular. My father even carved Lennon's caricature on a piece of wood, and was hugely influenced by Lennon. He still recalls the one time that he saw Lennon in New York City.

So, there are two links to articles on Lennon here.

The first one is a nice article overall, with CNN reflecting on the ex-Beatle, as well as solo musician in his own right, and noted peace activist.

The second one is about this particular anniversary being recognized this year at Strawberry Fields in New York City, not far from the spot where he was killed.

I have been to Strawberry Fields, and visited just outside of his old apartment, where he was shot. There was a feeling of serenity and reverence at Strawberry Fields not all that different than being in a place of worship. One of these days, I intend to go there on the anniversary of his death, as well as on his birthday, which should bring extra added significance.

35 Years Ago: John Lennon Murdered (NBC News Archived Video):

Remembering John Lennon, 35 years after his death by Todd Leopold, CNN, December 7, 2015

John Lennon's Last Days: A Remembrance by Yoko Ono, December 23, 2010:

How the World Reacted to John Lennon’s Death 35 Years Ago by Lily Rothman, Dec. 8, 2015:
John Lennon fans offer peaceful tributes to slain Beatle at Central Park’s Strawberry Fields memorial 35 years after his death BY JOSEPH STEPANSKY, STEPHEN REX BROWN  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, December 8, 2015:
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/john-lennon-fans-gather-35th-anniversary-death-article-1.2458979?cid=bitly#_gus&_gucid=article - new york - top&_gup=Facebook&_gsc=CF2poEE