Closing Thought–03Jul17

Where Is The News?

There are some here on the blogging world that use people like Alex Jones and Infowars as a news site…..they quote him and use him as some sort of “journalists”…..at best he is a con man and his news balances on the absurd…

Recently he and a guest went on and on about sex slaves and Mars…..

NASA says child sex slaves have not—we repeat: have not—been kidnapped and taken to Mars. NASA issued the ridiculous denial to the Daily Beast after a guest Thursday on The Alex Jones Show claimed otherwise. Robert David Steele—who Space.com notes was listed as a “CIA insider”—told Jones children are being kidnapped, forced into a 20-year mission in space, and ending up on Mars, where they are used as slave labor and killed for their blood and bone marrow. Steele claimed the children are sexually assaulted before being killed to “adrenalize their blood.” Jones chimed in, calling such a process “the original growth hormone.” He also claimed 90% of NASA missions are secret, adding, “Clearly they don’t want us looking into what is happening.”
NASA spokesperson Guy Webster explained to the Daily Beast that while there are rovers on Mars, there aren’t any people. He says he’s shocked there’s “only one stupid rumor on the Internet” he has to debunk this week. This isn’t the first outlandish conspiracy theory Jones has given credence to. The Washington Post reports Jones, who has millions of listeners nationwide, claims the Sandy Hook massacre is a hoax and promoted “Pizzagate,” which tied Hillary Clinton to a pedophile ring being run out of a pizza restaurant. During the campaign, President Trump said Jones’ “reputation is amazing” and promised not to let him down.
But that is okay for he gives the public real news while NY Times and CNN only peddle fake news…..
Damn!  At what point does sanity return?  Or will it ever?
And the war on facts goes on……society is losing its battle with ignorance.
Tomorrow will be a short day for me…..I will be spending time with family…..a bit of fun….everyone have a good evening….chuq

The Passion of General James Longstreet

As we prepare to celebrate the founding of this country we should keep in mind that a pivotal battle of the Civil war took place the same month as well celebrate the DoI……

Most Americans that follow the Civil War know that this is the time when the South faced off against the North in the town of Gettysburg…..some say that this battle was the beginning of the end of the South’s insurrection.

I thought I would throw a little more history at my readers during this time as we celebrate the founding of this country.

It is said that one of Lee’s generals, Longstreet, had tried to convince Lee to by-pass Gettysburg and attack DC which was not that far away.

Of course Lee did not take the advice and we all know the consequences the South played for this engagement.

Longstreet in my opinion was Lee’s best general and tactician……

Time’s unrelenting march is always ticking down to things known and unknown, never celebrating or mourning what once was. This is especially true regarding the nature of war. For General James Longstreet, the awful minutes passing before 2 p.m. on July 3rd, 1863, are marked by the roar of a cannonade whose concussions shake his broad frame. At least, that is why he hopes he is shaking. Weeks of marching and two days of vicious fighting over rocky hills and tidy fields wears on him. How their misadventure ends now falls to him. On this occasion, he knows too much.

Dark Pennsylvania soil plays host to Longstreet’s anxious boots as he paces. Amidst the trees around him, Pickett’s division huddles against Federal counter-battery fire. Pettigrew and Trimble’s boys do the same, completing a line of battle running north towards the old seminary. The rawest of them press themselves flat on the ground, seeking shelter against the Earth’s bosom. Ragged veterans stare off into the distance, content to pass the time reliving the glories and horrors of past battles. At some point, all of them will think of home. Longstreet shudders. Faith holds each man in place. It’s a faith born in those who trust the gun in their hands and the perceived miracles they have seen conjured up by their commanders. Commanders such as Longstreet. The Staff of Lee’s Right Hand. Why should this battle differ from all the others?

Source: The Passion of General James Longstreet | RealClearDefense

This was a fascinating time for us history buffs….there is so much that has not been studied about this war…..

Hope you learned something…..that is all I can ask….

Our Foreign Policy Sucks!

My regulars know that I am a bit of a foreign policy wonk and that I do some consulting on the side just to keep my mind sharp.

In all my time of working in foreign policy and conflict management and resolution I have NEVER seen a worse time for the US internationally.

The Trump administration’s lack of structure or experience is hobbling its ability to conduct an effective foreign policy, argues Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations. “I think it is a recipe for disaster to have multiple centers of authority, to have informal lines of authority,” he said. “I think this administration is doing itself a disservice.

“It’s a decentralized, improvisational administration,” Haass said; he dubbed it an “adhocracy.”

Haass, who served as a high-ranking State Department official in the administration of President George W. Bush, was sharply critical of the results of that organizational incoherence. “It’s very hard for the administration to have a single doctrine or policy,” he said, citing rival factions within the administration and widespread vacancies in its senior ranks.

Source: Trump’s Foreign-Policy ‘Adhocracy’ – The Atlantic

Originally I was not too receptive to Tillerson as SecfState because he had no diplomatic chops he ran Exxon…..but since his nomination the Trump admin has been hostile to him and his duties….even going so far as letting son-in-law handle delicate negotiations…..not cool.

Tillerson recently showed some cajones by going off on a Trump-ite in the WH…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly took out his frustrations on a White House official Friday after facing negative news reports and delays in getting appointments approved.

Tillerson went after the head of presidential personnel office, Johnny DeStefano, for dismissing his appointments to senior State Department positions and questioning his judgment, Politico reported Wednesday.

Tillerson complained that President Trump promised him room to make the decisions and hires that he deems best, a senior White House aide familiar with the conversation told Politico.

He, however, has faced delays and blocks to his proposed hires, saying that DeStefano’s office should not “have any role in staffing,” a person familiar with the meeting said.

The secretary also expressed frustration that people within the Trump administration are leaking negative reports about him to the press, the source said.

(thehill.com)

His, Trump’s, policies, whatever they are, have done nothing to solve any of the problems facing the US….if anything his attitude is making things worse….

Since Tillerson has been boxed out by the Trump boyz people are starting to ask….and I am one of those…..who is making US foreign policy?”

It’s a time of trial and tribulation for America’s allies and adversaries alike. Just what is U.S. policy these days? More fundamentally, who is deciding U.S. policy?

A presidential transition always creates uncertainty. Even when the Oval Office is passed between members of the same party, approaches and emphases differ. Personal connections vary. But today the differences are within a single administration.

Indeed, in virtually no area is policy settled.

President Donald Trump came into office committed to rapprochement with Russia. Yet even before taking office his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, sounded like bombastic Sen. John McCain in calling Moscow the greatest threat facing America. Later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanded Russia’s withdrawal from Crimea—a political impossibility—before bilateral relations could improve. Now the U.S. military has shot down a Syrian plane, fielded by the Assad government, a Moscow ally, triggering Russian threats against U.S. aircraft.

Source: Who Is Making U.S. Foreign Policy? | The National Interest

Best answer is amateurs and idiots…….people that have no idea of the nuisances of diplomacy….and that is making this worse……

An Australian paper has seen this rise in ineffectiveness……

Donald Trump is unique among US presidents not for his rough treatment of America’s enemies but of its allies. His Vice-President, Mike Pence, must be aware of the problem. He offered Julie Bishop a way around it: “If you ever have any issues with the boss”, he told Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, “give me a call”. It’s the diplomatic equivalent of a detour around a crash scene, a scene that Malcolm Turnbull had to fight his way through in his notorious first phone call with Trump.

Source: A ‘dangerously erratic’ Donald Trump doesn’t solve crises, he creates them

The world is losing all respect for the US under the boot of Trump…..his decisions are not made with the eye on the US but rather an eye on Trump Industries….

Five months into the era of President Trump, the world’s perception of the US and its leader has sunk to the level it was at late in George W. Bush’s presidency, according to a new Pew Research Center poll of people in 37 countries. The poll was conducted among more than 40,000 people between February and May. Among the findings:

  • There has been a massive decline in confidence in the US in its nearest neighbors, Pew says. The proportion of people saying they have at least some confidence in the American president has dived from 83% to 22% in Canada, and from 49% to just 5% in Mexico.
  • Some 55% rated Trump as a strong leader, though 75% said he was arrogant, 65% intolerant, and 62% dangerous. Only 23% said he cared about ordinary people.
  • Overall, just 22% of people polled worldwide had confidence in the US president to do the right thing—and only 49% had a favorable view of the US, down from 64% two years ago.
  • The Guardian notes that this is the first time in Pew polling history that a majority of Canadians have not seen the US as a force for good in the world.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin also had low marks worldwide, though not as low as Trump.
  • The decline was especially steep in western Europe and Latin America, but the fall in confidence was widespread, reports Reuters. “The share of the public with a positive view of the US has plummeted in a diverse set of countries from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa,” Pew says.
  • Poll respondents disapproved of all five Trump policies they were asked about, including the US-Mexico border wall and withdrawal from trade agreements.
  • There are two bright spots for Trump: Russia and Israel. Confidence in the US president is up in both countries and favorable views of the US are up to 41% in Russia from 15% two years ago.
  • Former diplomat Frank Wisner links the fall in confidence in the US to Trump’s lack of commitment to principles including free markets and the rule of law. “America’s image has taken hits in recent years, from the decision to invade Iraq to the events of 2007 and 2008, when the American financial model took a huge hit,” he tells the Washington Post. “But the most consequential is the ascent of Mr. Trump to the Oval Office.”

I am hoping that Trump will eventually see the light…after all he has been Prez for only 6 months and has a long way to go……our reputation is dying and as I look at the line-up I do not see it getting much better in the foreseeable future.

If nothing changes are we, the US, lose our standing as the beacon of leadership in the world….then who will step up and try to replace us?

It is increasingly clear that US President Donald Trump represents a departure when it comes to America’s global outlook and behavior. As a result, the United States will no longer play the leading international role that has defined its foreign policy for three quarters of a century, under Democratic and Republican presidents alike.

We have already seen many examples of this change. The traditional US commitment to global organizations has been superseded by the idea of “America first.” Alliances and security guarantees once regarded as a given are increasingly conditioned on how much allies spend on defense and whether they are seen to derive unfair advantage from trade with the US.

Source: Who Will Fill America’s Shoes? by Richard N. Haass – Project Syndicate

My advice is to keep an eye on China and its moves internationally.

Unless the Trump posse gets their crap together the US will lose all standing in the world….and that will not be a good thing for the people of the nation.

There is a foreign policy debate the we as a nation need to have……but will we?

Donald Trump’s presidency is having multiple pernicious consequences for American power and policy in the global arena. Yet one of the most harmful — if least noticed — of these is that America is missing the opportunity to have the searching debates has been missing out on since the Cold War’s end. The international environment has changed dramatically in recent years, in ways that are upending longstanding patterns of American policy. But the prospects for constructive debate on these issues are being swallowed up by the chaos and unforced errors that have so far characterized Trump’s presidency.

In some ways, Donald Trump should be ideally suited to lead such a debate, simply because no recent US president has been less attached to America’s self-evident truths. During the campaign and the early months of his administration, Trump challenged conventional wisdom on issues from trade to counter-terrorism to relations with Russia. To be clear, many of the changes that Trump has proposed making to US policy are of debatable merit at best. But there is no denying that fresh thinking is needed, if only as a spur to greater creativity in a more difficult world.

Source: The Foreign Policy Debate America Needs – Raddington Report

Something needs to change in our approach to foreign policy……but will it?

The Death Of Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili

Who?

Let’s take a trip in the “way back” machine…..

When I was at university I took a course on Russian history….now there is a subject with everything……sex, intrigue, murder, espionage, war etc……

Back to the question…..who?  Nobody special in Russian history….but you may know him by his “other” name….Josef Stalin.

His death was just an interesting case of intrigue?  Some say so.

Since his death there has been all sorts of speculation about the circumstances around his death…..but first let’s look at the man, the leader…..

Joseph Stalin was born Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili on December 18, 1878, or December 6, 1878, according to the Old Style Julian calendar (although he later invented a new birth date for himself: December 21, 1879), in the small town of Gori, Georgia, then part of the Russian empire. When he was in his 30s, he took the name Stalin, from the Russian for “man of steel.”

Source: Joseph Stalin – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com

The death of Stalin was interesting…some say he had a stroke, others say he had a heart attack, and others say the he was assassinated by his closest friend, Beria…..

I am to the mind that Beria had his chance to rid Russia of Stalin and he took it…..below is a study about the mysterious death of Stalin.

For weeks, Joseph Stalin had been plagued with dizzy spells and high blood pressure. [ Figure 1 ] His personal physician, Professor V. N. Vinogradov had advised that Stalin step down as head of the government for health reasons. That was not what Stalin wanted to hear from the good doctor. Soon the professor would pay for this temerity and indiscretion with his arrest and alleged involvement in the infamous Doctor’s Plot (dyelo vrachey).
Stalin has been dead for almost 65 years and yet he is still popular in some quarters in Russia……

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin has been voted the most “outstanding” figure in Russia’s history, beating the country’s most beloved poet, Alexander Pushkin, and current Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The poll, by Russia’s independent Levada Center, is the latest to showcase the changing view amongst Russians of Stalin, who presided over mass deportations, a network of concentration camps—or gulags—and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of around 20 million Soviet citizens.

Source: Stalin More Popular Than Putin, Russians Say

Do Russians not remember the agony that Stalin inflicted on the country?  Or is that one of those “facts” that gets lost in translation?  Maybe they suffer from “fake news” as well.

Must We Fight This Thing Again?

The US and its allies fought a war while Clinton was president…..that would be the 1990’s…..in the region called the Balkans.

I have been keeping my eyes on the region for some grievances were not addressed when the ceasefire went into effect…..

Source: The Tinderbox That Is The Balkans – In Saner Thought

Source: The Balkans: Smoldering Ashes Of Conflict – In Saner Thought

Few people are watching the crisis unfold….but many will weigh in when it comes to a full fledged shooting conflict….

On April 27, masked nationalists stormed the Macedonian parliament, injuring Social Democratic Party leader Zoran Zaev, among many others.

It wasn’t an isolated incident in the Western Balkans, a region that comprises Albania and the former Yugoslav countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Twenty-five years after the fall of communism, Western Balkan countries have become halfway democracies and the region struggles with ethnic, religious and nationalist tensions.

Here are three main issues that can explain the political crisis in these countries:

Source: Why are the Western Balkans in crisis? These are the three primary tensions. – The Washington Post

Not much has changed in 26 years…only all out war has not yet taken the place of debate……but as things escalate there is only a matter of time before the region returns to all out conflict….

It can be avoided but not by ignoring the problems….right now it looks like we are trying to ignore the gorilla in the room….this could be very disastrous to the region and to the US policies…..

Time for someone to take this bull by the horns….

Why Americans Feel So Good

Trump came to office on the promise of the American economy will boom…he will ax crappy trade agreements….he will make the free market blossom for ALL Americans.

The stock markets are going well and Trump points to that as proof positive that he is doing what he promised.

It is true that markets are doing well……sadly the same cannot be said for the economy of this country….at best it is mediocre.

Then why are Americans pleased and satisfied with this situation?

A strange thing seems to be happening to the US economy. On surveys, businesspeople and consumers say the future looks bright. But recent economic activity hasn’t appeared very robust.

Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times noted this in a recent article about mergers and acquisitions. A number of surveys have been reporting that chief executive officers are highly optimistic. For example, the website Chief Executive and the Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey both report a surge in CEO confidence since the 2016 election, while Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey finds an average level of confidence.

But as Sorkin reports, M&A activity is at its lowest level since 2013, and has fallen 40 percent in the past two years. Share buybacks have also slowed. Those “hard” numbers indicate that whatever CEOs are saying on paper, they aren’t taking actions that signal confidence in the future of their businesses. Capacity usage, which fell slightly in May, is another indicator of that true business sentiment is far from giddy.

Source: Why Americans Feel So Good about a Mediocre Economy – ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English

It is typical….Americans have always been satisfied with mediocrity.