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About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College

A Binary World is Only for the Simple Minded

I completely understand how, for the simple minded, life would be so much easier to grasp and deal with if every ethical, philosophical, or political issue truly existed in an “either-or” world.  But the idea that “if you are not for us you must be against us” is a stupid, simplistic, and intellectually poverty-stricken concept.  Nevertheless it seems to be the one perspective at play in the press and in social media these days.

Perhaps it really does speak of a complete failure of insight for those whose input of data comes only from sources singing with their own particular choir.  Perhaps it reveals a concession to intellectual laziness that is endemic to our increasingly entitled and brain-numbed society.  But from wherever it stems, it is a failure that has led us to near complete governmental dysfunction and gridlock at one of the most dangerous and vulnerable times in our history.  And it has created a world of intellectual retardation that, if allowed to continue, can lead us only backwards into a devolution of spirit and knowledge that will make the Hobbesian prophesy of a life that is “Nasty, brutish, and short” seem like a vacation in paradise.

This “with us or against us” perspective pretty much eliminates the inclusion of anyone with more than a few brain cells to rub together and it is an outlook honed and polished by the simple expedients of demonizing all whose philosophies that are not sung about in the hymnals of a particular choir.  Surrounding oneself only with “like minded” people is a sure prescription for a narrowing of view and a constraint upon incoming information that might be accurate but tends to remove one from the safe comfort zone of their own myopia.

Sincerity of belief does not, and never has been, an indicator of reality any more than a localized or even broad consensus of opinion.  Human history is riddled with sincerely held but now discredited beliefs in virtually all areas of inquiry from philosophy to hard science that fell because one person, usually vilified and persecuted at the time, had the intellectual honesty and personal courage to say, basically, “I don’t think that is right…”

And yet, at universities, the places allegedly dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge and broadening of intellect and intellectual pursuits, we are seeing a frightening closure of minds.  From political correctness run amuck to what appears like a primal terror of opposing ideas and ideals, students and faculty collude to shut down even the option of hearing ideas contrary to their own.  No longer satisfied simply to not show up and hope the speaker found themselves speaking to rows of empty seats, out of control students now bully faculty and administrations into prohibiting the speech in the first place.

If the loyalists in the late 18th century on this continent had adopted those behaviors we would still be a colony of Great Britain.  There can be few things more in conflict with the American ideals than the prohibition of the free flow of ideas including those with which we disagree.

That was a problem we addressed back when it was accepted that ideas and philosophies about how a people would govern themselves were complex and derived from an incredible diversity of resources from ancient literature and the Bible to the (then) modern debates between the intellectual giants such as Locke and Black and Rousseau and Godwin.

But the crowd whose memes and tropes I now read on Facebook would be incapable of grasping the nuances of those towering essays and their internal complexities because none of them were easily reduceable to one-liners, demonizing labels, or bumper sticker philosophies.  They are blithely unaware of the fact that by grasping at simple and single concepts stemming from both sides of those great debates that ultimately found their way into what we now loosely refer to as Liberal and Conservative perspectives, we now would make those past thinkers on all sides of the discussions stunned at our collective ignorance of what they were all about.  I think they would all be ashamed of the poor quality of the progeny, both intellectually and educationally, that followed them, in other words… us.

Because we no longer grasp the nuances and subtleties of the underlying concepts we claim to follow and, worse, cannot see past the cherry-picked sub-concepts we decided, for our own preferences and needs, were the ones to be adhered to and accepted as our own gospels, we no longer have the intellectual ammunition to be able to see areas of overlap with other concepts from which compromise can be found.  If you only know the letters “A” and “Z” then any inclusion of something such as “L” or “M” is not even possible.

r intellectual myopia has blinded us to the forest of ideas than can be harvested for personal and culture growth and we see only the trees, and worse yet, only those trees that fit with our preferences independent of any connection to reality or the larger impact of those selected views on the broader culture of our own society, much less those of others.

While social media is increasingly filled with voices terrified of counter ideas, for my part I am terrified of that crowd seeking to shut down debate and the free expression of ideas, even those I despise.  This is self-righteous book burning that does not even allow the book to be created before its ideas are vilified and its authors run out or locked out of town lest their scurrilous ideas contaminate our precious little ears.

When I was young we knew that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”  Today we have grown so fragile of insight and psyches, and so vulnerable to words that we deem some of them harmful in and of themselves and seek to shelter ourselves from even hearing them.

We should stand ashamed of ourselves for our moral and intellectual cowardice.  We should stand ashamed of how we have dumbed down education and basic parenting to foist a generation of thin-skinned, entitled, victimized, intellectual cowards on this world.  And, especially for the so-called educators who have joined in on this embrace of a binary world view when if any group should know better it is that credentialed, self-benighted crowd, their well-deserved shame should put them on their knees in a collective revival of their forgotten calling to expand the minds of their students instead of narrowing them down to where they can see only the world as the Prof sees it.

Teaching critical thinking does NOT mean teaching students they should learn to see the world as the professor does.  It means giving them the tools to see the broader collection of influences having an impact on THEIR world and then formulate their own conclusions as to what collection of concepts they wish to assemble to make it work for them.

But that revival of intellectual courage and moral honesty is not likely to happen anytime soon.  Adams wrote that a republic for of government could last only so long as the citizenry shared an ethical moral code.  We’ve not just lost that code, in a successful effort to remove consequences from behaviors we have thrown it away.   I think we are seeing his sad prophesy coming to fruition.  And the rallying call of the destructive force is being broadcast in post after post on social media for all to see.

 

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Posted by on February 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Second Amendment Deja Vu

Back in 2012 I wrote a long piece explaining in detail my beliefs about the issue of guns and gun control, going so far as to propose a set of federal rules I think would do no violence to the Constitution and yet make a public show of trying to do something to address gun violence and mass shootings.  Of course it was long and required the heretical act of actually READING so it had very few hit despite my posting it on FB for the purpose of addressing posts aimed at me, a known supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

Last week, however, the craziness that happened in Las Vegas brought the usual reflexive responses showing little evidence of reflective thought.  I’d like to simply ignore those simple minds grasping desperately for a simplistic answer since their mind set has ossified into its current position and there is nothing but frustration to be gained by trying to have something bearing at least a casual resemblance to a discussion of the issues with them.

I see two issues existing, at least at this early stage in the investigation, to address.  One is specific to this crime: the shooter’s motives.  The other is a general review as to what, if anything, can be done to address this increasing violence.  Let’s start with the easy one: motivation.

I do not think this guy was insane.  This was far too carefully planned and over a long period of time.  There was, I believe, a method underlying the apparent madness; a purpose and an objective.  So far at least, I see no reason to connect him to organizations like ISIS or Al Qeada, but I believe, nevertheless, that this act was a desperate action to achieve attention for some purpose.  Whether it was logical or rationale is another issue, but to ferret out the motive I think we need to start looking at the results and responses, some reflexive, some reflective.

This was no alt right nut.  According to the left wing politicians and media, the victims were all redneck Trump supporters, some anchors or on-camera contributors going so far as to even publicly say the victims deserved no sympathy and one even hoped it was Trump supporters who were killed.  Let’s for the moment set that disgraceful display of blind partisanship aside and stay on point… why did he do it?

If he were a far right winger he would have been knowingly killing his own folks.  Makes no sense.  So what does?  Why would you want to kill people in that specific crowd. With all the preparations he knew precisely what the demographics of the crowd were.  Perhaps the CNN pundits with the above attitudes inadvertently told us the answer…

If that shooter, for example, believed that the attendees to that concert were, as one MSNBC idiot put it, “…all probably Trumptards” and because of their assumed beliefs were dangerous, why would it not be OK to mow them down for the sake of the country following that ideologically sound logic?

Perhaps it truly is a work of insanity, a person wanting to hold a record, even an evil one, to give some surrogate immortality to his name.  He can join the ranks of Genghis Khan, Attila, Vlad, Hitler, etc to go down in history even if on a list of dark deeds.

But at the moment, I am highly skeptical of that theory and see a dark, well conceived purpose but one as yet not made public at least by main stream news.  It makes no sense that for this level of killing he left no note, no manifesto to explain and rationalize his well thought out plans.  Or… maybe he did but it is not one that is comfortable to the mainstream and they have quashed it.  It will be interesting to see what his girlfriend says, or at least what is reported about what she says.

Now for action on gun laws.  Personally I do think focusing on gun laws is more of a distraction to show the “Choir” the purity of one’s heart than any real effort at finding solutions.  There are “feel good” additions to bans already in place one could do but not one of them would have stopped a massacre of some sort in LV.

By the way, let me be clear: I have no problems with a full auto ban and since that ban is not about a mechanism but about a result, I have no problem banning any device that can simulate full auto fire.  There is no competitive or sporting use of a full auto capability to justify its use.

At this point please read or re-read my post from 2012 on The Second Amendment.  You can simply type “amendment” in the search box in the right hand column to see it.  Then you can come back here and we’ll go from there.

There are, as pertains to gun laws, a few steps we might take that would cut down the instances of sheer evil intent: identifying and profiling unusual arsenal builders, for example, background checks to include psyche issues which can be defined as exclusions.  But sheer lunacy is not all that controllable until we make up our minds to contain it.   Shoving people with serious issues out onto the street is madness.  But this shooter was no homeless wretch; he was a millionaire.  So that doesn’t fit neatly into the narrative.

The Supreme Court has ruled that NO right is absolute.  The old law school cliché that “I have an absolute right to swing my arms but that right stops at the end of our nose” is reasonable and logical.  No matter the underlying “right” or freedom, it does not bestow on me the additional right to harm someone else or take aware their rights.  But that really creates some unintended consequences for an increasingly thin-skinned populace.

For example, how are we to modernly define “Harm?”  Physical injury is obvious, but where, in terms of rights maintenance, are the limits.  Does being offended constitute a “harm” under that view?  Does being frightened constitute a harm?  Apparently for many it actually does (and that, to me, is truly frightening…)

I’m OK with banning full auto guns but not in favor of banning guns because they are scary looking.  Threatening me with one, coercing me to do something with one is certainly a harm.  But a lawfully acquired and carefully, legally used gun that just looks like an assault rifle is no more dangerous that a plastic kids toy that looks like an assault rifle.  It is not the looks that make it dangerous.

A real “Assault Rifle” is, by definition, one that is capable of sustained full automatic fire.  A rifle that is semi-automatic that looks like the assault rifle is NOT an assault rifle.  A civilian AR-15 is NOT a military M-16 Assault Rifle.  And as I said a few paragraphs above, any additional modifications or devices that allows it to simulate the real Assault Rifle need to be banned… not the core piece.

In law there are crimes and then “Aggravated” crimes performed with a deadly weapon.  Anyone using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime should be hammered right into the ground because the resulting reflexive fear is pervasive enough, whether grounded in any reality or not, that it threatens my right to own one peacefully.

But we have a larger issue:  do words really now do harm?  Are we so fragile a people that now words as well as sticks and stones can harm us?  Really?

When I was a kid it as axiomatic that the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was a priori truth. But now we contend that words can hurt and be harmful.  Oh man, do you not understand that opens up an immense logical can of worms.  If words can truly harm me then why cannot I not defend myself from that harm just as I would if the threat were from a weapon with more tangible existence?

I contend and believe strongly that it is not a gun problem we have, but an ethics and morals problem, facilitated and perpetuated by the idea that behavior and choices should have no consequences.  And if one sub-authority can rebuke a higher authority and ignore their laws, then what should compel us to do any different?

To make matters worse, the entertainment world has glorified those stepping outside the law for their own sense of vengeance starting with “Death Wish” and continuing with anti-heroes such as “The Punisher” series.  Being judge, jury, and executioner is seen as a justifiable act by them.

Well, maybe it is justifiable to deal with a personal issue such as an attack on one’s family and loved ones — I would be hard pressed to be constrained had someone killed a loved one of mine.   But the moment it goes outside that tight world, or beyond normal “Self-defense” laws, the actor becomes the aggressor and needs to be shown as such and treated as such.

But when we allow municipalities to ignore laws of higher levels of authority because they do not like them, what precedent does that set for the rest of us?  Does that mean we can ignore laws we do not like?  Why not?  How dare a state tell me I must obey THEIR laws when they are clear they do not need to obey Federal laws they do not like?

We are in dangerous water here.  What we need is careful well thought out responses not just the frightened, knee-jerk ones.  Comparisons with other countries is, as always, simple but irrelevant.  Solutions intended to last and be accepted need to come from the core values of the culture itself.

But what if we are in the transition period of throwing away those core values?  What then?
 

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Consensus and the Myth of Scientific Certainty

This is an edited “repost” of a Facebook entry in which I waded off into the deep water when one time too many I was told that any opposition to scientific consensus was too stupid to be taken seriously.  It came after I questioned a Facebook meme using a quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, someone I like a lot but this time it pushed me over an edge.

Let me start by making it clear: I like Neil DeGRasse Tyson a lot. He is a brilliant presenter and top rate speaker and, I assume, a first-class scientist in his own field. (Yes, I confess I much preferred Carl Sagan’s original version of “Cosmos” but still I did enjoy the Tyson remake.)  But I am tired of seeing meme after meme using his picture or quotes to back up some claim or other about science, especially when it carries the implication of him asserting something he would certainly know better than to affirm.

Appealing presenter of palatable science that he is, his presentation was not entirely free of somewhat grievous error, especially when he steps outside his actual discipline.  Sometimes he allows the narrative to stray into other disciplines and in one case it strayed into mine.  And into a topic in which I knew him to be in error.  Like Ptolemaeus, the brilliant mathematician and astronomer of ancient Alexandria who went on to essentially codify what we now refer to as Astrology, he can be brilliant and still be dead wrong.  In Episode 4 of Tyson’s remake of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” there appears a fascinating assertion: that William Herschel, one of the great scientists of his day, invented photography.

I’ll just let that sink in for all you photographers… especially those of you who are familiar with photo history and that can spell “Niepce” and therefore know better.  Herschel did, it is true, some tinkering and important improvements in the development of the photo image, notably in the chemistry of “fixing” the image; and he was the subject of a delightful portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron — but he was certainly not its inventor,

But the real issue here is the pretense of the validity of consensus in the scientific world. If anyone on the planet should know that scientific consensus has nearly zero value as an indicator of final scientific truth, it should be Tyson — or anyone mildly conversant with scientific inquiry and history or even, for that matter, just familiar with such names as Eratosthenes, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Brahe, Huygens, Darwin,  Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, Schroedinger, Planck,  Hawking — all of whom are rightly famous for major advancements in science achieved by crushing the existing consensus over some bit of commonly accepted scientific ‘truth’ that was the consensus of the day.

If Columbus had accepted Eratosthenes’s calculation as to the earth’s circumference instead of the consensus thinking of his day, he would have known that when he made landfall in the Americas, he was not nearly far enough from his point of origin to be where he claimed he was.   Had he known and claimed the truth that he was setting foot on land unknown to the Europeans, he would have been acclaimed an incredible hero instead of earning his latter reputation as the leader in the greatest navigational blunder in the history of seafaring.

If ever a red flag should be waved fiercely in front of your mind it is when someone tries to convince you of a position because there is a consensus of any group, even scientists, who accept it.  In no field is truth revealed by popular vote or majority rule; and science is, historically, no exception.

Science is not advanced by consensus but by verifiable, repeatable experiments to prove hypotheses following out-of-the-box concepts that take current thinking from an existing plateau to a new level.  It is about quantifiable provable data and not about acceptance or rejection by people with a vested, often career-saving interest in a particular interpretation or preconceived outcome… much less by people with an ideological axe to grind.  Contrary to real scientific traditions and processes, there are, today, certain propositions to which if you do not openly and publicly swear acceptance and allegiance you will not be admitted into the halls of academia because they fit the political narratives and agendae of the current “choir.”.  That is not science; and acquiescence and acceptance of it is not science but rather, in my mind, a betrayal of the scientific traditions.

The problem is that science — good science — exists outside the world of human wishes, beliefs, hopes, fears, and other emotional reactions to phenomena.  Were it not for people refusing to accept an existing consensus we would still be believers in a flat earth and a heliocentric model of the universe, viruses would not exist much less effect health, dinosaur bones would be hoaxes placed by a capricious deity to confuse our minds and tempt us to stray from the proper path, and we would still have no idea about how such common things as “light” actually work and impact our lives.

We are all free to believe or not believe whatever suits us.  Huxley wrote that, “…we tend to believe what we tend to prefer.”  Until it directly effects me I am divinely indifferent to your personal beliefs about most anything.  But if you wish to persuade me of a proposition of ANY sort, especially if it appears to defy common observation or logic, then you need lead your “proofs” with more than simply an assertion of some group’s consensus, even scientist’s groups.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof or verification.  Collective or “group-think” may be extraordinarily (and increasingly) prevalent as a shield from the horrors of intellectual initiative; but it is not extraordinarily likely to be accurate.

The positions or theories about whose truth or accuracy you seek to convince me may or may not actually be accurate, but that status is not a function of any collective believing it to be true.

You could, of course, argue, that I am not a scientist so what do I know about it.  Well, I can read (a dying art these days, I admit).   But still it is a valid counter so I ran this by my friend, Dr. Jeffery Forrest, who teaches earth sciences (among other things) and this was his response.

“There is no “truth” in science. There is only a set of conclusions or premises bases on a plethora of STATED assumptions, delimitations, and limitations – these conclusions are accepted or rejected based on a shared reality of the state-of-being of some construct or system.

“As you have detailed, science reveals clues about the state of some matter (physical or otherwise) that is not absolute – ergo, the infamous disclaimer, “all other factors held constant.”   

“Humanity is a highly insecure animal. Its individuals look to science or faith for the illusive state of Truth – something to sleep well with. It’s a real shocker for most to be confronted with the realism that credible scientists are in the business of describing uncertainty and in doing so perhaps reveal new knowledge (discovery), and that advocates of security through faith, require courage to have that faith despite the uncertainty.”

I rest my case…


 

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Was Keenes Right in a Quote Liberals Ignore?

Former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman. who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, said in a recent interview as reported by retired economist Charles Hayek (not to be confused with the world famous famous economist Frederich Hayek, the patron saint of Milton Friedman) responding to questions about Trump’s programs for spending money on military, etc.and assertions that under his amazing leadership the economy would soon really rebound,

“I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. The debt now is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP…Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books… 

“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

He also noted,

“The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand.”

If that is an accurate assessment, then Trump’s plans are simply unattainable.  His base seem to think that he can, by the strength of his claimed unique expertise, turn the U.S. economy around because he says he can and because so much of this country desperately needs him to pull it off.  But if we hit that new debt ceiling quickly and become 20 trillion dollars in debt, all the while we, as we are currently,  adding about a trillion dollars a year to that total, I don’t see any possible way that Trump can cut taxes, increase military spending, build a border wall, spend much more on veterans much less spend an extra trillion dollars on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.  We already are technically bankrupt as a nation (more debt than we have revenue via production to cover).  So it is possible that in a VERY short period of time, Trump (and the rest of the country) will get a very hard economic slap in the face.

Before you think of this as an anti-Trump rant, let me be clear: I don’t think it would have been any different under Clinton; the end date of that “debt ceiling holiday” was already set into law by Obama and she would simply have wanted to spend as much as Trump just on different programs.  He will, of course, be blamed for it since it will happen on his ‘watch’ regardless of when it was set in motion.  I don’t think he or Clinton could have stopped it without Draconian measures that would loose their respective basses as their pet causes were gutted. His ego and her conviction we can spend our way out of debt would have precluded either from tackling the problem appropriately.

And there is too much pain to go around for the weak willed and desperate-to-keep-their-cushy-jobs congress to even propose such austere measures as would be needed. And the people as a whole, in direct contradiction to JFK’s admonition, simply want to know how the government can better take care of themselves and relieve them of all consequences for their personal choices and behaviors.

So it will be interesting to see if Stockman’s prediction comes to pass as predicted and it is not like we will have to wait very long to test them.  Unfortunately he did not also say what would be the outward effects on us all if he was right, just that Trump’s plans would be made unattainable.  But their unattainability is due, in his view, to the government essentially running out of cash.

From a practical standpoint I’m not exactly sure what that means since we already know there is not enough currency in circulation to cover the debt already (the Federal Reserve says we have about $1.5 trillion in circulation).so where does the rest of the $18.5 Trillion come from to retire the debt were it called in? Can we continue forever addicted and euphotic from overdoses of what he calls “Hopium?” Much of the debt is intergovernmental to agencies such as Social Security and held in the form of Treasury Bonds.  If that failed then they would have to shut down.  THe current administration would, of course, be blamed for “shutting down the government” but the policies and situation that came to that was set in motion well before they had any say in it.

Over $6 Trillion of the debt is foreign held.  Some pundits assert that China would never simply call in its $1.1 Trillion debt because it would basically kill the dollar on the world market which would hurt everyone including themselves.  But if they had sufficiently divested themselves of dollar holdings to allow their own currency and gold to sustain them trough a rocky period, and the world reserve currency was now also held in Chinese currency, (which, thanks to the IMF it now is a part of their Special Drawing Rights currencies mix), and the result was to essentially destroy the U.S. economy and with it our ability to wage even a defensive war to stop their expansion into other areas (think about the economic ruin of the Soviet Union and its effect on them), I am personally not so sure of their benevolence on our behalf.

Whether anything happens on Match 15th or not, I think this could be a VERY interesting year… and, for us, not an altogether positive one.  And it has nothing to do with Trump or Clinton as it has been set in place and grown over a long period of time.  THe economic patron saint of liberals, Charles Maynard Keene, in a quote liberals ignore, wrote that the easiest way to destroy a country was to debauch the currency.  We have done that with reckless abandon and I think we shall soon see whether or not he was right.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Blind Anger Is Going to Destroy Us…

History is clear about some things and among those is that if you give anger enough fuel it will lead to violence.   Charles Hayek wrote, “It doesn’t take much of a trigger to push extremely large crowds of very angry protesters into committing acts of rioting and violence. And rioting and violence can ultimately lead to widespread civil unrest and calls for ‘revolution’.”  Among the photos and videos of the latest protests is a picture of a woman holding up a sign that reads, “Remove Trump by any means necessary!”  My God people, don’t you see where this is going?

Many of you are already engaged in selective amnesia over Trump’s Executive Directive to temporarily restrict immigration from 7 (of the 50) predominantly Muslim countries in the world, having forgotten that in 2011 Saint Barack issued an identical temporary ban on refugees from Iraq until a better vetting system could be created.  His administration also was the compiler of the list that Trump used to designate countries for his temporary ban.  But for disciples of Saint Barack he was just trying to keep us safe while the evil Trump demon is seen as being un-American and simply tearing down the fabric of our country.  The only substantive difference was in scope and that as disciples you were prostrating yourselves at the feet  of your political messiah and now are in rending your clothes and engaging in emotional self-flagellation in shock that there are actually people out there dumb enough to reject his (to you) enlightened teachings.  Therefore even for similar or even identical actions if Saint Barack does it, it has to be good and if Demon Trump does the same thing it has to be bad and therefore, by definition based on initiator and despite identical effects, they cannot be the same things.  But the only REAL differences, other than length of ban, was that Obama was smart enough to do it quietly and Trump was narcissistic enough to make a production and spectacle of it.   Even arch liberal attorney from Harvard, Allan Dershowitz opined that whether one favored it or not on a policy basis he thought this would pass Constitutional muster.

I was not completely sold on the efficiency of the ban when Obama did it and feel the same now.  There are too many holes in it to be effective and thus far no details on the better vetting being promised.  But good grief, folks, get a grip.  Obama’s temporary ban was for 6 months and whether or not it actually kept any bad guys out the country still stood and no massive upheaval took place.  I assume there was no evidence of it working because if there were ANY evidence it stopped so much as one attack we would have heard about it endlessly from Obama the same as he claimed he killed Bin Laden.  Trump’s ban is for 90 days and the odds are good we will survive it as well.

But the amnesia goes deeper into territory beyond the merely hypocritical and into the dangerous zone.  For those with at least a smattering of remembered history, you have to recall that only once in the political history of the planet has an attempted revolution ended upon a better note than it started and that was our War of Independence from England.  Every other  Revolution, from France ending in the Reign of Terror to Russia ending in the Stalin blood baths, to the Chinese atrocities by Mao’s Red Army, revolution has been a predictable recipe for long term disaster for the country.  Over a century and a half later our own country is really not completely over the rancor from our own civil war.  Almost a century ago, the National Socialist Party in Germany was correct that the Weimar Republic was destroying their country but the result of their overturning existing structures was Adolph Hitler.  Statistically the attempts at regime change by extra- systemic means is most likely to lead to something worse than what was overturned.

For me, the division that created the grid lock of the last years has ossified in the congress and culture to fashion a division that threatens to tear us apart with far greater power and skill than any foreign enemy could do.  And continuing the dialogue of hatred simply exacerbates the problem.  The continued ad hominem slurs flung wildly at each other do not serve to persuade anyone to change sides and only cause the warring factions to dig their heels in deeper.  There is so much history to let you know that you are, on both sides of this, simply hurting the country more that the hated other side could ever do by itself.  My ancestors, the Highland Scots were too busy launching clan against clan to have any chance of a strong coordinated front against the British.  The American Indian tribes were too busy counting coup on each other to join forces to hold the Europeans at bay.  One time tribes united and wiped out Custer but then quickly broke apart and were easy prey.  Is your growing hatred so great you cannot see what you are doing to the far more important entity than your sainted candidates? (That would be the country by the way.)  You claim you want to save the country from the evil hordes massed on the other side of the political spectrum; but they, equally fervent and sincere in their beliefs, claim exactly the same thing.  And together you leave us broken and defenseless from the real enemies out there.

Some of you are so taken by the hatred for the other side I am frankly embarrassed to admit I know you.  And that statement is aimed in BOTH directions.  But this time the overt hatred seems to be coming mostly from the left.  You were scandalized by the rightwing stonewalling Obama accusing them, accurately I think, of not thinking about the country.  Well guess what guys, now you are doing the same.

The real problem I see is that you are high centering on a basket of red herrings when other more important and problematic activities are taking place quietly.  From an internal perspective, Trump’s creating a private security force to replace some of the Secret Service responsibilities has some frightening negative potential from a historical perspective.  His declaring as a candidate for 2020 is hard to explain other than as a ploy to allow funding available to candidates but not to presidents along with other shields for activities that would be blocked for him as a president.  His reshuffling of his intelligence and security departments and meetings may be a good thing but it needs to be explained to a skeptical nation because it could also be easily interpreted as a means of consolidating power for a coup into tyranny.  I think many of the departments need a major shaking up, but because such shake up can go in multiple directions I think the initiator of those actions needs to explain them and his rationale to the public.

From a geopolitical perspective, we are a single step away from chaos and war on a grand scale. Let’s review…  Iran is testing ballistic missiles claiming it is for “defense.” Really?  Their intercepted communications are exploring the concept of using HEMP (High altitude ElectroMagnetic Pulse) weapons against the great Satan which, in case you have forgotten, is us.   North Korea is testing nukes and delivery vehicles.  China has been creating new militarized islands in the territorial waters of Vietnam and Philippines and a few months ago, sent a naval fleet into U.S. Territorial waters.  Russia has taken and claimed other neighboring countries and twice strafed U.S. naval vessels in international waters.  India is busily damming and redirecting water from a river that flows through Pakistan and is considered their “river of life” and over which they have stated they would go to war and pre-emptively use their nukes. And ISIS continues its harangue to kill Americans wherever they can be found.

Meantime on the home front, to help coalesce opposing parties into a unified front we have idiots openly supporting the concept of an assassination as an acceptable solution to the demon Trump situation.  Maybe we have reached the end of track for our country and between internal morons trying to take us apart in violence and outside villains doing all they can to destabilize us even further and then pick us off we are way into borrowed time.

Your reality checks have bounced… you are sitting on the back of a tiger but worried about the rats.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Be Careful What You Ask For 

I never knew so much vilification could be rained down on one living man before, but wow, Donald Trump will surely have some sort of “most hated” title to go down in history.  Vlad The Impaler, Ghengis Khan, Tamerlane, Attila, Lorenzo D’Medici, Torquemada, Ivan the Terrible, these were all pikers compared to Trump.  Hitler was a Boy Scout and Stalin was a choir boy by comparison.  Wow, c’mon now, get a grip… he isn’t even in office yet.

What is equally fascinating is the litany of brutal social media posts all seeming to encourage and push him and his new administration toward a galaxy class failure.  Well, as many know I did not support and did not vote for the man but… but … regardless of your fondest desires, boys and girls, he is the next president.  You have tried every ploy in the book now even cooking up sordid allegations but you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  By the rules of the game he won fair and square.  The bizarre attempt to get the entire electoral college to go rogue failed miserably.  Accept it, he is the next President.

So why are you all clamoring for him to fail?  Remember when Obama was elected (I didn’t vote for him either) how you were all exercised about the idiots hoping for his failure?  You were right, they were idiots; like or loathe the president we are in this, as citizens, together and the president’s failure is our failure as well.  So why is it now OK to hope for Trump’s failure?

Let’s stipulate, for purposes of this discussion, that all of the terrible things said about him are true.  It doesn’t change a thing and isn’t going to, despite all of the last minute shenanigans.  Good guy, bad guy, idiot, or savant, he enters a world about which there is little disagreement among close international observers as to how dire it really is.  Consider this:

We live in a world at a time where geopolitically it is more dangerous than at any time since the Soviet Union failed.  ISIS is now a full-fledged Army with the avowed goal of wiping out the west and all infidels and apostates and ushering in a new world Caliphate.  We push them out of one city only to watch helplessly while they take over another.  Iran has the avowed goal of destroying the Jewish State and, while they are at it, the “Great Satan,” which is us.  They even have been busy with their new uranium from the Russians (bought with our hostage money), creating plans for a HEMP (High altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse) explosion that would fry our grids (plural) and most of the electronic devices across the U.S.  (However the same result could be achieved by taking out under a score of selected transmission sites manually by conventional explosives and operatives on the ground.)  Then while we quickly descend into chaos killing and eating each other in the dark their sponsored terrorists can make short work of us in the name of Allah.  China is taking over the South China Seas even creating new islands and militarizing them while working hard at building a huge modern navy ignoring UN complaints.  North Korea is boasting ballistic missile capability and a desire to fire one at us and laughing at the UN.  And Russia itself under a leader who seems to want to be the next Peter The Great is expanding into neighboring states and thumbing its nose at world complaints.

Economically, chaos is also just over the horizon.  The Chinese currency has been accepted into the basket of currencies for the IMF’s “special drawing rights” as reserve currency for international trade in furtherance of a goal to devalue the dollar already weakened with unrestrained printing.  If the dollar’s value drops sufficiently then those holding debt from us will want repayment and maybe NOT in dollars.  China is already divesting of dollars in trade for gold   And speaking of the debt, at now almost $20 Trillion (it doubled in the last administration) it would take over $168,000.00 from each taxpayer in the country to repay it.  How likely do you think that is?  Really?

In any case, to pay taxes we must have jobs to create taxpayers.  The government loves to point out that fewer people are filing for unemployment.  Who cares?  That is not the real measure; it just tells us few people are applying.  The REAL measure of employment is the Bureau of Labor Statistics on “Labor Participation Rates” that show we have a lower percentage of people who can work and want to work but are employed than at any time since the 1970s.  We have increased the number of people below the poverty level and massively increased the number of food stamps.

Of course the planet is warming up.  Given where we are statistically between glacial periods some scientists ask why isn’t it warmer?  Given precession and wobble of the earth’s orbit we are prey to the sun and its storms which have historically warmed us up dramatically.  Indeed by sheer luck and a few hours of planetary travel through space we barely missed a solar storm that would have engulfed us just recently (making a HEMP explosion seem like a firecracker). But what are we doing?  We’re wasting time arguing about whether the warming is completely natural or completely human caused and who does or does not believe either side.  We will have lots of time to debate that, what we have very little time for (if the worst case predictions come true which is always the safe course to follow ) is preparing for the results if the sea levels do rise dramatically.  As far as I’ve read, only Boston is taking preparations that will channel the water if it rises and even if not will create an attractive feature along a modified waterfront.  California?  Nope.  They’re still arguing over tidal generators and desalinization displacing a few fish along the shore and how to keep water from the farmers in the Central Valley in order to save the Delta Smelt and Snail Darters.  Meantime true believers keep pointing so an alleged consensus of scientists (as if a consensus in science has EVER been an indicator of reality throughout history) that is largely irrelevant especially as other concerns present a far more existential threat to the country in the short term.

Despite the delusion of the left, Trump is walking into a left over and developing quagmire that could well be beyond ANYONE’S ability to fix.  If he fails, especially if he fails on several of those fronts, this country will be in deep trouble, and could perhaps become a true 3rd world country overnight if the power goes down.  So, given all of that, what level of idiocy does it take to root for him to fail?  What special kind of stupid is required to want to see him unable to stabilize any of those issues much less all of them?  What manner of historical, sociological, political, economical, philosophical ignorance is needed to think that if he fails the result of that failure will be better for us and the country than if somehow, even magically, he succeeds?

Whether you hate him or love him, whether you think his is spawn of the devil or a saving angel, whether you think his is any or all of the scurrilous labels that have been applied to him in the time since the election, you sure as Hell better hope he succeeds as president in getting this country back on its feet and strong again. Given the world we are facing I’m not sure any living human could succeed in saving us over the next few years, much less Trump.  But I am hoping against hope that I am wrong.

I wrote back in the mid-1990s that I believed that by the elections of 2012 we had not turned this country back from its current course we would have passed the point of no return on the slide into our eventual downfall, ready to turn the reins over to the next super power, God Help us, because I thought it would be China.  But that was before ISIS found the vacuum it needed to grow into the threat it has become.

However, we did not make that course correction by 2012.  I do not know but that it might be too late or whether, even if we make it now, we can escape the same fate as all the other great civilizations; and for exactly the same reasons.  So whatever I may believe about Trump’s competence or personality or psychology or intellect, I have no option but to hope he can pull it off, succeed as president and get this country back on track.

Obama said, in his farewell address, there is no greater title than Citizen of the U.S.  I happen to agree with that statement.  And I think our duty, as citizens, is to put the animosity of the election behind us and try to work together at least civilly to help our new president succeed.  That means we have to remind him when we think he is off track, but it also means we have to support him when he actually seems to be making things improve.  And we must learn to do both in a respectful manner likely to appeal to those we seek to persuade rather than simply drive the wedges between us deeper.

No one individual is either all good or all bad, and certainly that is also true of any collective or humans including political parties.  If we cannot objectively see the bad things our guy is doing and work to correct it, but also see the good thing their guy is doing and work to help support it, then we  do not deserve the title of Citizen.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Evolving “Trump Doctrine” — The Good and the Bad.

I’m so tired of all of the desperate cries of knee-jerk revulsion at the new President Elect that pretend to know with absolute certainty that, among other things, he is a spawn of the Devil to put even the previously hated “Bush Demon” to shame, and that he is, by liberal definition, the political and geo-political AntiChrist that will usher us rapidly down the road to ruin and perdition, darkness will envelope the country shore to shore and we will all be living wretched lives in caves surely by, oh, say, mid February at the latest… 

True, Trump certainly is not a supporter of socialistic tendencies as desired by the alt-left and is, to their increasing horror, an unabashed, unrepentant capitalist.  Viewed in a vacuum, that does, I confess appeal to me in terms of economic philosophies; but that does not lend itself to quite so simple a conclusion for either side when placed in the context of a government leader as opposed to a business leader. 

But there are somethings that the business world, especially that part of it that is international in application, does better than governments, and one of those is gathering and interpreting geo-political intelligence on the areas and governments in which it must do business.  Why do I say that?  After all literature is overflowing with tales of the intelligence exploits of CIA, MI6, KGB and GRU.  As some of you know, my military service was in an intelligence capacity so I do know of the vast capabilities of governmental information gathering using both overt and covert methodologies.  But there is a huge weakness in governmental intelligence and it was seldom more evident than in my time during the Vietnam era.  It is always in the service of the political institution which oversees it and its results are too often, perhaps most often, filtered through that political filter and arrives tainted and spun for the pleasure of the administration.  This is not done by the field operators who risk their lives to gather information, but by the top level political appointees and courtiers who must present it and hopefully walk away with their jobs intact.  In my opinion, in doing so they betray the operators in the field AND their country but I admit they have to operate in an environment of political capriciousness in which I would not long survive.

Intelligence in the business world is, on the other hand, far more pragmatic.  They do not care about the political issues other than how they effect the business bottom line.  More importantly, to successfully operate under foreign authority and oversight, you have to know the reality of the situation in the areas you wish to operate whether you like it or not. 

Therefore, private intelligence, while perhaps not as granular as governmental intelligence, is, in my experience and opinion, frequently more accurate in its final presentations.  One of the best sources of business-oriented intelligence has, for many years, been the organization “Stratfor.”  And once again, they have reviewed a subject too clouded in emotion and personal paranoia (or euphoria) to yield workable conclusions for mass consumption, to wit, the geopolitical approaches and views of our about to be installed newly minted President, Donald Trump.  So with their kind permission, here is a reprint of their latest paper on the evolving geopolitical “doctrines” of a President Trump. 

As usual and typically for Strafor, they objectively present the good and the bad to help businesses prepare for the world stage which is about to change dramatically.  I would recommend this to folks who are so overwrought with the current epidemic of emotional incontinence over the election that they are polarized into the “Trump can do nothing right” or the “Trump can do nothing wrong” camps.  As usual the truth lies in the middle and Stratfor analysts are among the very few to try to objectively sort it all out.

——— Republished Paper by Stratfor on the Evolving “Trump Doctrine”———–

THE TRUMP DOCTRINE: A WORK IN PROGRESS

By Reva Goujon, Stratfor

The world is in a “frenzy of study,” Henry Kissinger said in a recent interview. At home and abroad, strategists and pundits are trying to piece together a blueprint of American foreign policy under U.S. President-elect Donald Trump from a stream of tweets, some campaign slogans, a few eye-catching Cabinet picks, meetings at Trump Tower, and a pingpong match already underway with Beijing. Highbrow intellectualism can be a handicap in this exercise. Commentators among the Washington establishment have been quick to dismiss Trump’s foreign policy moves outright as erratic and self-serving over the past few weeks. In an op-ed entitled “Trump Failed His First Foreign Policy Test,” for instance, columnist David Ignatius admonished the president-elect for the “hot mess” his phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen precipitated. Trump makes people uncomfortable. It’s what he does best, in fact. But how this quality applies to foreign policy is a question that merits deeper exploration than knee-jerk displays of stricken disbelief. After all, as Kissinger noted in his Dec. 18 interview, “a president has to have some core convictions.”

So what are Trump’s? From what we can discern so far from his upbringing, the trajectory of his career and the profiles of those who have infiltrated his inner circle, Trump prizes business acumen and a “killer” instinct for managing affairs. He has enough corporate firepower in his Cabinet to fill the next Forbes’ list. By nominating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, he has demonstrated his belief that tough deal-making — identifying sources of leverage and showing a willingness to use them — is the secret to running a country and presiding over the international system. Trump does not fear nationalism; he sees it as the natural and rightful path for every state, the United States included, to pursue in protecting its interests. He also seems to have internalized the idea that the United States is losing its competitiveness and that internationalist foreign policy is to blame. Finally, Trump apparently believes that U.S. foreign policy has become too predictable and overwrought with diplomatic formality. Better to say it like it is and call out institutions and conventions that have outlived their usefulness.

This, at least, is the worldview at a distance. When we come in for a closer look, however, some of the cracks come into clearer view. In 1953, General Motors Co. CEO Charles Wilson was asked in his Senate confirmation hearing to become President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s secretary of defense whether his decisions in office could end up harming his company. He answered that they might but that he could not imagine such a scenario since “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.” In fact, what is good for a business will not always be congruent with the national interest. A company is answerable to its shareholders, just as a president is answerable to some degree to Congress and the American public. But the mission of the CEO — maximizing value for its shareholders — entails different considerations when pursuing the raison d’etat and preserving a social contract with a nation’s citizenry. The latter entwines economic arguments with the social and moral obligations of the state, a nebulous territory where inefficiencies, compromise and the social consequences of massive deregulation are unavoidable.

Driving a Hard Bargain

Trump sees it as his mission to repair the social contract with the American public by bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. This will be easier said than done, however. Across-the-board tariffs against big trading partners, such as China, might have worked 20 years ago but not in today’s globalized environment. Raising import tariffs now could cause the price of goods no longer produced domestically to skyrocket and disrupt international supply chains, turning many U.S. businesses into pawns in various overseas trade wars.

It could be argued that China depends more heavily on exports than the United States does and cannot afford to risk its vital supply lines in a major confrontation with the world’s most powerful navy. This, in effect, leaves Washington with the upper hand in its trade tussle with Beijing. In the search for additional leverage against China, Trump has shown a willingness to expire Washington’s “one-China” policy, a holdover from the Cold War that dodged the question of Taiwan’s statehood to drive a wedge between the Soviets and Communist China.

But that’s just one side of the equation. China has twin imperatives to maintain access to export markets and raw materials and to prevent an outside power from blockading its northern coast through the Taiwan Strait. If Trump’s policies interfere with these objectives, Beijing has levers it can pull to retaliate. Should the United States play the Taiwan card to try to exact economic concessions from Beijing, China can strong-arm U.S. companies operating on the mainland. Beijing can also use its enormous economic clout over Taiwan — whose semiconductor manufacturing and assembly industry is tightly intertwined with the mainland — to threaten a disruption to the global tech supply chain. Furthermore, as its recent seizure of an unmanned U.S. naval drone illustrated, China can flex its maritime muscle, albeit cautiously, to raise the stakes in a trade dispute with the United States. Though Trump would rather leave it to regional stakeholders such as Japan and South Korea to balance against Beijing, his compulsion to correct the United States’ trade relationship with China will draw him into stormy security waters in the Pacific.

A Different Kind of Negotiation

Just as Trump regards the one-China policy as a relic of the Cold War worth revisiting, he intends to update Washington’s relationship with Moscow. As Trump sees it, the United States is not fighting an existential battle with Russia deserving of Cold War-era collective security commitments. Russia is no longer preoccupied with forging an empire under an ideology that is anathema to Western capitalism. Instead, Moscow is focused on the more basic task of constructing a national identity and insulating the state and its borderlands from Western encroachment in anticipation of greater domestic turmoil to come. As Kissinger recently put it, Russian President Vladimir Putin is like one of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s characters, for whom “the question of Russian identity is very crucial because, as a result of the collapse of communism, Russia has lost about 300 years of its history.” If Russia were to try to build a state by expanding its already sprawling territory, nationalism would not be enough to hold it together. Consequently, Putin is trying to defend the areas surrounding his country and compel the West to recognize and respect that sphere of influence.

Taking a less alarmist view of Russia’s intentions, the Trump administration sees an opening to develop a new understanding with Moscow, one that could put to rest the question of Crimea and perhaps recognize Russia’s influence over eastern Ukraine. Syria, a peripheral issue for both Moscow and Washington, would be recognized as such. Since sanctions are a drag on business and Russia sorely needs investment, Trump could ease the measures to get a dialogue moving on what an understanding would look like without sacrificing the U.S. military presence along Europe’s eastern flank.

Should Tillerson be confirmed as secretary of state, Trump would rely on his knowledge of Kremlin personalities and their internal feuds to advance the negotiations. After all, if a company needs good inroads with the Kremlin to do business in Russia, the same must go for a government that wants to negotiate with Moscow. But negotiating access to Russia’s Arctic shelf on ExxonMobil’s behalf is not the same as conducting talks centered on Russia (or China, for that matter) trying to get the West out of its backyard.

Russia has no illusion that a shuffle of personalities in the White House will reverse U.S. policy and cede the former Soviet sphere to it. The United States will still be compelled to keep a check on Russia’s moves in Europe just as Moscow will maintain its levers across several theaters, from cybersecurity to arms control to proxy wars in the Middle East. Though Trump’s administration may change the tone of the conversation and broach the topic of tactical concessions, Russia will still be driven by an unrelenting distrust of Western intentions that will keep defenses up on both sides. Nonetheless, the very notion of a private bargain developing between Washington and Moscow will inject uncertainty into long-standing collective security arrangements as the European Continent is undergoing another Machiavellian moment in history where the assertion of state interests is breaking the bonds of its flawed union.

An Unlikely Precedent

Despite the changes that Trump will doubtless bring to the presidency, his foreign policy is not as unprecedented as the world’s pundits may claim. The bridge between President Barack Obama’s foreign policy doctrine and the one evolving under Trump is not entirely sturdy, but the foundation is there. As president, Obama was a realist. He considered it his mission to rebalance the United States after the country had overextended itself fighting wars in the Islamic world. His resistance to expanding U.S. military commitments in the Middle East was deeply ingrained; as he said in an interview in The Atlantic, “it is literally in my DNA to be suspicious of tribalism.” He held strong convictions that the United States would once again be trampled under a sectarian horde in the Middle East if it tried to extend its ambitions beyond the more immediate and visible threat of the Islamic State. He also pressured even close U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom to pay their fair share in security commitments because, as he put it, “free riders aggravate me.” Obama was a follower of 20th-century American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who held a rather Hobbesian view of the world as a struggle among self-interested groups. (It was Niebuhr who wrote, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”) The current president built a foreign policy on extreme restraint while addressing his own set of geopolitical anachronisms: the United States’ relationships with Iran and Cuba.

But Obama, unlike Trump, applied an internationalist lens to his realist views. He wanted his allies to pay their share but was resolute in keeping the U.S. security umbrella over their heads. He viewed foreign trade as a means to build alliances and contain conflicts. Still, protectionism was already well underway during Obama’s tenure. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the United States has led G-20 countries in carrying out discriminatory trade measures on selective industries (particularly metals), according to a report by Global Trade Alert. At the same time, Obama saw that the world was changing with technology and that old jobs would give way to advances in manufacturing. He preferred to think in longer horizons, at times to his own detriment: For Obama, the long-term impact of climate change was existential compared with the short-term threat posed by the Islamic State.

By contrast, Trump’s realism is steeped in nationalism and tends to be more myopic in assessing threats. His solution to displaced American labor is to punish foreign trade partners rather than to retool the workforce to adapt to demographic and technological change. Under Trump, climate change concerns will take a back seat to the more immediate desires to ease regulations on business. Rather than play a restrained globalist role, the next president would sooner respect countries’ rights to defend themselves, irrespective of the long-term consequences of undermining time-honored collective security arrangements. Though a departure from an already defunct two-state solution in Israel’s favor acknowledges the current reality, it also risks further destabilizing the balance of power in the Middle East as Turkey continues its resurgence and multiple civil wars rage on. A short-term escalation with Beijing over trade and Taiwan could cost Washington a much bigger strategic discussion over China’s attempts to achieve parity with the United States in numerous spheres, from cyberspace to the seas.

Keeping the World on Its Toes

Perhaps the greatest difference between the Obama and Trump foreign policies lies in what may be Trump’s biggest virtue: his unpredictability. Obama has been criticized as overly cautious in his foreign policy and thus too much of a known entity for U.S. adversaries. Trump, on the other hand, gives the impression that he is willing to throw caution to the wind and rely on instinct in shaping foreign policy. This matters immensely for U.S. allies and adversaries alike that have to be kept on their toes in developing their long-term strategy while avoiding the unexpected with the world’s superpower.

Regardless of who occupies the presidency, the United States’ strong geopolitical foundation gives it options. As opposed to more vulnerable countries in less forgiving locales, the United States, buffered as it is by two vast oceans, can debate the merits of isolationism and intervention. George Kennan, a diplomat during the Cold War era, may have captured the immense power of the country’s unpredictability best:

“[American democracy is like] one of those prehistoric monsters with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin: He lives there in his comfortable primeval mud and pays little attention to his environment; he is slow to wrath — in fact, you practically have to whack his tail off to make him aware that his interests are being disturbed; but, once he grasps this, he lays about him with such blind determination that he not only destroys his adversary but largely wrecks his native habitat.”

Aloofness in international affairs is a geopolitical luxury, but it cannot be taken for granted. That may be the basis for the Trump doctrine.

Top of Form

The Trump Doctrine: A Work in Progress is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

———-End of Republished Essay on the Evolving “Trump Doctrine”———

I hope this was enlightening and hopefully a little calming.  We, as a country, need to rapidly get over our emotional paralysis and work together.  When Obama took office the left accused the right of refusing to cooperate in anything leading to a gridlock that was bad for the country.  Well, now the shoe is on the other foot and what remains to be seen is whether the left will act as they said the right should have done, or whether they will simply now repeat the old ills they once excoriated and take us into the tragically flawed state of playing tribal level “payback” and thereby guarantee the failure of us as a nation among nations.

Time will tell…

 

 

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