Closing Thought–02Mar17

Live from the holodeck!

I am not a techno geek but for some reason I keep finding all these technology stories that I feel the urge to share with my readers.  Hopefully this will entertain my regular readers…..and generate comments from those among you who have a handle on this technology thing.

Remember all those Star Trek shows and the elaborate scenarios that were played out on their holodecks?

I bring this up because of something I recently read…..

On February 5, political activist Hugo Poidevin attended a rally in Paris to listen to a speech by the French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, a leftist politician with a penchant for cutting edge technology.

But Melenchon was not actually at the Paris rally – at least not in the flesh. He was delivering a speech in Lyon, nearly 400km away.

Poidevin, along with thousands of others, gathered in the French capital, facing an empty stage, in anticipation of what would be a first in French politics.

“Resistance!” the crowd in Lyon chanted, as Melenchon began to speak there.

“Where am I? In Lyon?” Melenchon said, rousing the Lyon audience. He snapped his fingers. “And now, in Paris.”

Source: The dawn of cyber politicians | France | Al Jazeera

Is this the future?

It could help all those American politicians that are running like scared rabbits from their townhalls….they could do their thing without having to actually face the people.

Behind Closed Doors

Nope not some chessey country song from the 80’s……

We have had a little over a  month of a new president (really?  Seems like more than that)….and in all that time there has been one “scandal” after another…..granted none are proven scandals but the whispers are there….like them or not.

And the newest one involves our recently confirmed AG…..

Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the US twice in 2016, but he didn’t disclose those communications during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general. When asked about possible contact between Moscow representatives and Trump campaign members, Sessions specifically said he “did not have communications with the Russians” during the campaign and that he was “not aware of” any other campaign members doing so. Per the Washington Post, the revelation from Justice Department officials could spark more calls from Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Russia’s alleged attempts to interfere with the 2016 election. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal US investigators have looked into the newly released contacts between Sessions and Russia, though it’s not clear whether the investigation has concluded. Following the disclosure of the conversations, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” per the AP.

One of the conversations between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak happened in September, when Sessions, then a senator, was a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and one of Trump’s top advisers; officials say Sessions didn’t remember the details of his conversations with Kislyak by the time his confirmation hearing came around, and that the meeting was related to Sessions’ work on the armed services panel, not the Trump campaign. Sessions’ spokesperson says there was nothing “misleading” about his answers at the confirmation hearing because he was only asked about communications related to the campaign, not to his work as a senator. Following the latest revelations, top Democrats have called for Sessions to step down as AG, Mediaite reports. Republicans are split on whether Sessions should lead any potential probe into Russia’s alleged election tampering. A conversation with Kislyak is also what forced Michael Flynn to step down as Trump’s national security adviser.

After the news broke the other night then the slugs came out from under their rocks…….first the Dems gave their typical response…..

Democrats don’t just think that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from an investigation into Russian ties with the Trump campaign, they think he should step down from his post, period. “The Attorney General must resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement, per the Hill, because he “lied under oath.” Her call for him to resign, echoed by Democrats including Elijah Cummings in the House and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, comes after the Washington Post reported that he met with the Russian ambassador to the US twice during the 2016 campaign. Sessions, an early Trump backer, says he did nothing wrong because he met with Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a senator, not as an advocate for Trump. During his confirmation hearing, he declared, “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Even his party is not above the rhetoric…….

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that while he doesn’t know if the Trump campaign had improper communications with Russians, the attorney general would have to recuse himself from an investigation. “It is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump,” he said, per Politico.

There is more and more calls from all sectors of the government for an investigation into Russian influence, if there is any……

Top Republicans said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from federal investigations of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during an appearance on MSNBC that Sessions should bow out to maintain “the trust of the American people.”

Minutes later, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) joined McCarthy’s call, tweeting that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

The calls from two of the House’s most prominent Republicans follow revelations that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during election season. Under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions had said that he had not met with any Russian officials.

(WaPo)

Like I said this news just broke recently…..but it will be very telling to see what track this situation takes from today forward…..

Any bets on how long Sessions will survive as AG?

Update:  There has been turn after this post was published and I would like to get my readers caught up……

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday he would recuse himself from any investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election because he was involved with President Donald Trump’s campaign

“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” Sessions told reporters in the latest twist of the controversy over ties between Trump associates and Russia that has dogged the early days of his presidency.

Now you are caught up….for now……chuq

The Day Diplomacy Died

There is no secret that I am a liberal….and no I am not talking about some political BS (so you mental midgets on the Right can hold your twisted tongues) in this case I am referring to a theory of international relations which states…..

Liberalism emphasizes that the broad ties among states have both made it difficult to define national interest and decreased the usefulness of military power. Liberalism developed in the 1970s as some scholars began arguing that realism was outdated. Increasing globalization, the rapid rise in communications technology, and the increase in international trade meant that states could no longer rely on simple power politics to decide matters. Liberal approaches to international relations are also called theories of complex interdependence. Liberalism claims the following:

  • The world is a harsh and dangerous place, but the consequences of using military power often outweigh the benefits. International cooperation is therefore in the interest of every state.
  • Military power is not the only form of power. Economic and social power matter a great deal too. Exercising economic power has proven more effective than exercising military power.
  • Different states often have different primary interests.
  • International rules and organizations can help foster cooperation, trust, and prosperity.

That also means that I believe that diplomacy is the best way to deal with conflicts than the use of military might be only the last resort.

The title says “the day diplomacy died” and I use it with good reason…..

The Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent spending cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to multiple reports.

U.S. officials say the suggested decrease would likely require laying off employees, including security contractors at diplomatic facilities overseas, The Associated Press said Tuesday.

The AP said development assistance would likely take the biggest hit, citing officials familiar with the proposal.

(thehill.com)

This move will seriously injure the State Department and its efforts internationally.

In essence this could kill any and all diplomatic missions around the globe…..the State Department will not be needed….so turn over all international situations over to the Defense Department…..and we can settle all disputes with our military might.

Without the influence of the US in diplomatic situations the hegemony will go to those that use diplomacy over military……our so-called “exceptionalism” will be greatly diminished.

And not to mention the harm this could do to our national security…….

Source: President Trump’s Proposed Budget Is Bad for U.S. National Security – Center for American Progress

This is all a purposed policy change……we can only hope that sanity will return to the process…..but I have my doubts.

How We Got Here

I recently wrote a post about the US record of failures in conducting war…..(read for background)………

Source: A Staggering Record Of Failure – In Saner Thought

Of course I got the usual stuff from those that think we have won everything we have ever attempted……

After I wrote that post I read something in the American Conservative that would have fit nicely in the original post…..I include the article here as further background (for those that are interested that is)……

The United States has already lost—its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all those hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles just came up short. (So how about lots more of them, maybe even a nuke?)

Source: How We Got Here | The American Conservative

This whole “realistic theory” of international relations needs to be re-thought…..as it is the practice is doing little other than making the M-IC extremely wealthy and influential….and it does not solve any situations that we are now facing across the planet…..they only get worse as mistakes are applied.

We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government

I agree with the premise of this article….we have SCOTUS legislating from the bench….we have a Congress that seldom works and when they do they do nothing of substance and we have a president that circumvents the Congress…

In essence we NO longer have what was set up in the Constitution….3 branches of government….

Below is an article written by an ex-member of Congress and a Civics teacher about his observations of our government….

It has been my habit to begin each semester by slowly taking students through the Constitution, each article and section in turn, emphasizing not only each provision but why it was included. Fundamental to the constitutional process, I taught, was the unique delineation of authority and responsibility: the separation of powers that so cleanly distinguished American government from those that had gone before it. There were three branches, independent of each other, with varied duties and roughly equal. The greater power—overtaxing, spending, deciding whether to go to war, confirming members of the president’s Cabinet and justices of the Supreme Court—had been placed in the Congress, I said, because while the Founders had created a republic, they also added a sprinkling of democracy: The people would choose who would do the actual governing. I would underscore this point by noting the provisions that made clear the Framers’ deliberate rejection of a parliamentary system like the ones they had known in Europe, where legislative and executive power were joined. Here, it was to be the people, not the parties, that ruled, I told my students.

Source: We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government – POLITICO Magazine

I totally agree and before this country can be “great” again we need all 3 branches doing their job and only their job.

He, Trump, has had his time in the light…time for him to start acting like the president and become part of the legislative process….

(Side note:  If SCOTUS is not a political position then why is there a political ad for the newest nominee?)

Towards a New Trade Policy

I have been looking at our trade policies recently……most are horrible for the worker and there is a consensus that we need to find a new and improved trade policy….

I have found a pretty good piece that covers this situation…..

International trade deals have lost their consensus support as more workers view them as anathema to good-paying jobs, requiring the U.S. politicians to rethink these strategies

On Jan. 23, President Donald Trump signed an order directing the U.S. Trade Representative to withdraw the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal that the previous administration had spent years negotiating with eleven other nations around the Pacific Rim. This executive action represents a first step towards a controversial new direction in trade policy.

The TPP was already on life support, as the 2016 election campaign made it toxic with the majority of American voters. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump all focused great energy on the trade pact as an example of the failed economic policies of recent decades. Even Hillary Clinton, despite her previous public support for the TPP and other trade agreements, was forced to come out against it, to fight off criticism from Sanders in the primaries, and Trump in the general election.

Source: Towards a New Trade Policy – Consortiumnews

I understand the need for economic growth….but I do not think it should come at the expense of the workers and the Middle Class.