Sunday, July 19, 2015

Donald trump is a joke but his constituents are not

Donald Trump has no more chance of becoming president of the United States than William F Buckley, and Buckley is dead.  Which is a shame because one of Buckley's greatest gifts to conservatives when he was the leading intellectual voice on the right was to keep the crazies out of mainstream conservatism - that is, he kept out the lunatic John Birch Society, the toxic hatred of the racists, and the paranoid fringes that are consumed with apocalyptic visions and paranoid howlings.  Yes, there was a time when conservatism had actual intellectual groundings and ideas.  Alas, in the age of the Tea Party and right wing talk show ravings designed to boost their ratings at all costs, apocalyptic visions, racist dog whistles, and paranoid conspiracies have taken over too much of the "conservative movement."  Scare quotes because they aren't conservative, they are delusional revolutionaries.  Or so it seems to me.

The problem isn't Trump.  To me he just seems to be a sad old man lost in delusions of his own grandiosity, who actually thinks that being rich is reason enough to elect him to the presidency.  I think his only motivation is his insatiable need to be in the spotlight.  It must be a terribly galling thing for his ego to realize that the history books will write about Obama and other presidents, and he will long be forgotten after his demise.  So, what better solution than to become president? or at least make enough of a splash in this presidential race that he gets some kind of mention in the future?

I don't know if Trump has ever honestly expressed a political opinion of his own.  His public views seem to align with whatever will get him headlines, and his view of previous decades are quite different than his public views today.

I have avoided any posts on Trump because I think he will be a momentary headline.  But the problem isn't Trump, it is the extremist right wing base that is excited by his cynical, opportunistic ravings.

Racism?  How about accusing Mexicans of being rapists?  Tough guy to the max? How about accusing John McCain of not being a war hero because he was captured, and the mighty Trump has no respect for captured people?  Mr. Success Himself? How about having no respect for losers like McCain and Romney?  Oh, what a mighty man Mr Trump thinks he is. 

He's not, of course, he's a national embarrassment, and a Republican embarrassment, as Republican denunciations pouring in from all sides testify to.

No, the problem is that he has a constituency in the extremities of the Republican base that say, Way To GO, tell it like it IS.  Good grief.  And these people vote.  They won't end up voting for Trump in the end, of course. But they will vote for someone. And that is something for all of us to be afraid of, indeed.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dunford's evaluation of threats to the United States

Marine General Joseph Dunford testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in his confirmation hearings to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He looks to me like someone who understands the world.  When asked what the greatest threat to the United States was, he said it was Russia.  Followed by China and North Korea.  Of these three, only Russia is actively making dangerous moves.

I am especially heartened that he did not say ISIS or al Qaeda in answer to that question.

It seems to me that the bloodthirsty fundamentalist extremist segment of the Muslim world can harm us, and is certainly trying.  But they really don't represent an existential threat to this country.  They are a terrorist threat, which is quite different.  They could blow up another building, they could kill hundreds of Americans and Westerners, they could shock our sensibilities with horrific atrocities, they can do all that they can imagine to do to promote deep and disgusting depravities of violence.  But they aren't an existential threat to our country.  

I believe their intent is to act so atrociously as to bait the United States into making the same mistake that W made - send ground troops into the Middle East and wage war against - Muslims (which side to we pick in this horrible civil and religious war, and why?) This would frame the fanatic jihadists barbarities as Islam against the crusading U.S.  This would be an amazingly stupid mistake for us to make.  It would be a tremendous aid to the recruitment of Muslims to the barbarous jihadist side.  It would grow the threat rather than reduce it, or so it seems to me.

I don't believe Russia is out to destroy the U.S. but it does have enough nukes to do so, so they actually could be an existential threat.  And good for four star General Dunford for seeing that and being willing to take that threat seriously.  

Protect ourselves against terrorism, don't get sucked into their pathetic civil wars.