Another American Death (Again)

Closing Thought–13Jul18

Our stay in Afghanistan, 17 years and counting, has not been without costs….the deaths of our troops is that cost.

I am sorry to report that yet another American soldier has died in Afghanistan…..the AP is reporting……

The U.S. military says a service member died Thursday of a wound sustained in combat in eastern Afghanistan.

The name of the service member was being withheld pending notification of family members.

It was the second U.S. military death in Afghanistan in less than one week. On Saturday, Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel, of South Gate, California, was killed by what the U.S. is investigating as a possible attack by a member of the Afghan military.

In Thursday’s incident, the U.S. military said an Afghan security force member also was killed and several were wounded. No other details were provided.

I offer the family our heart felt condolences…..May he rest in peace…..and thank you for your service.

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Enter The Congressional Circus

Finally!  Proof we have all searched for…….we have watched these pathetic losers for a long painful time……and not being amused at their lies and antics and now they have done what I thought they could not possibly do……

On many occasions I have called the Congress a circus…..and yesterday in a 9 and half hour tear proved my point beyond a shadow of  doubt…..I watched most of it (as much as I could stomach) and have never been more proud of the GOP for showing their true face…..

The FBI agent who got caught up in a texting scandal over his views about President Trump testified on Capitol Hill Thursday, and it was volatile from the very start. “Heated and sometimes chaotic” is how the Washington Post describes it, and the AP had the same vibe with “bitterly contentious and occasionally chaotic.” Peter Strzok testified that he regretted sending those anti-Trump texts, including one infamous one in which he says “we’ll stop” Trump’s election, but emphatically insisted that his personal views in no way affected his work on two investigations in 2016 of Hillary Clinton and Trump. Republicans, however, weren’t buying it. Details:

  • Opening statement: “Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok said in his opening statement. “There is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.” He also said the hearing by the House judiciary and oversight committees “is just another victory notch in (Vladimir) Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.” Read the full text via Politico.
  • Versus Gowdy: GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy went after Strzok quickly. “Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him,” he said. “That is bias. Agent Strzok may not see it but the rest of the country does, and it is not what we want, expect or deserve from any law enforcement officer much less the FBI.” At one point, Strzok accused Gowdy of twisting his words and said he didn’t appreciate it. “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate,” responded Gowdy. “I don’t appreciate an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations in 2016.”
  • Contempt threat: When Strzok said he wouldn’t answer questions about the FBI investigations, GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte threatened to hold him in contempt. Democrat Eric Swalwell then countered about holding Steve Bannon in contempt for refusing to answer questions at an earlier hearing, reports Fox News. In the end, nobody was held in contempt. Throughout the hearing, however, “Democrats tried to run interference for Mr. Strzok, using parliamentary points of order and other tactics to protect him from Republican prying,” per the New York Times.
  • Video: Mediaite has a clip of the “absolute chaos.”
  • Notorious text: “I don’t recall writing that text,” Strzok said of the one in which he wrote “we’ll stop” Trump’s election, reports Axios. “What I can tell you is that text in no way suggested that I or the FBI would take any action to influence the candidacy of candidate Trump.” Strzok also said the text came after Trump’s criticism of the family of a US soldier in Iraq. “You need to understand that was written late at night, off-the-cuff,” he said, per the Wall Street Journal. “My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, [was] that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States.”
  • Lisa Page: Strzok is under internal investigation by the FBI and is on what amounts to administrative leave. The FBI lawyer with whom he shared anti-Trump texts, Lisa Page, left the agency. She will meet behind closed doors Friday and Monday with members of Congress, reports CNN. Trump tweeted about her on Wednesday. “What can she possibly say about her statements and lies,” he wrote.

I would like to thank the GOP especially the slugs in the Tea Party’s Freedom Caucus for proving that I was correct when I called US Congress a silly unprofessional circus.  Thank you for proving my point!  It’s Miller Time!

NATO–The Week That Was

And a helluva week it has been!  (This is a lot to take in but it is all very informative)

Our dear leader has pissed off NATO and then went on to the UK and in his wake are so many questions about NATO and for NATO……

At least the US Congress is trying to save the organization as best they can…….

Lawmakers in Washington worked quickly Tuesday to set legislative guardrails in support of NATO as President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bashed the alliance, arrived in Europe for a NATO summit and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the week.

Hours after Trump landed in Brussels, the Senate passed a non-binding measure, 97-2, that expresses support for NATO, its mutual self-defense clause and calls on the administration to rush its whole-of-government strategy to counter Russia’s meddling in the U.S. and other democracies.

With the established global order on shaky footing, Trump’s weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of America’s closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office.

https://www.defensenews.com/smr/nato-priorities/2018/07/10/us-senate-votes-to-defend-nato-as-trump-attacks/

The presidential rhetoric has many foreign policy wonks and international relations is holding their breath…….

These days, Europe’s NATO observers are a bit like members of a doomsday cult waiting for the end of times. Many are bracing for this week’s NATO summit with grim determination, all the while counting down to the apocalypse by collecting the insults that President Donald Trump is lobbing at NATO. Within a week, he has proclaimed that the alliance is “as bad as NAFTA” (the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump loves to hate), that “NATO is killing us” and that the European Union is “as bad as China.” And, of course, there was his already infamous statement at a rally in North Dakota late last month: “Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends and allies.”

Only the most devoted NATO fans are likely to know the alliance’s official motto, “animus in consulendo liber” – a phrase so obscure that even NATO admits it doesn’t have a satisfactory translation (what does “man’s mind ranges unrestrained in counsel” even mean?). But almost everyone is familiar with the alliance’s unofficial motto, coined by the first NATO secretary-general, Hastings Ismay: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Today, however, European attitudes are much more complex than Ismay’s tripartite formulation. In April and May, the European Council on Foreign Relations sought to track the views of political elites in European Union member states through a survey of researchers that incorporated interviews with more than 150 policymakers and analysts, along with extensive research into policy documents, academic discourse, and media analysis. This scorecard suggests that stakeholders in the EU member states, 22 of which are NATO members, – disagree – in some cases with one another, but almost always with Trump – on each vector of this once-unifying narrative: the role of the United States, Russia, and Germany.

https://warontherocks.com/2018/07/watching-for-signs-of-natos-end-of-times/

If NATO is to survive there are those that think there needs to be a reset….

President Donald Trump will undoubtedly criticize allies for not spending enough on defense and for pursuing their own economic wellbeing, in part at the expense of the United States. The president has been lambasted for criticizing U.S. allies and indeed, our alliances are important and represent some of the greatest achievements of U.S. foreign policy. However, Trump’s criticisms are justified. NATO must reform; it is not sustainable in its present form.

The alliance is ill-structured, ill-equipped and ill-financed to deal with the European region’s two major security problems—an aggressive Russia and the spillover of instability and terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa—leaving aside emerging global security challenges. Worse, at times some members can even be said to have enabled the threat. One example being the massive German purchase of Russian gas, which provides Putin with ongoing financing. To deal effectively with these challenges on an equitable and sustained basis among allies, the terms of the partnership must be renegotiated and its common ground redefined. This is in Europe’s best interest too.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/strategic-reset-nato-25396

Will NATO survive?  I think it will but the best question should be will the US remain a member?

NATO is always looking for new members to expand its reach and the newest is a country that has just settled a long running dispute……Macedonia.

NATO leaders agreed on Wednesday to invite Macedonia to begin accession talks to join the Western alliance, extending its reach in the Balkans in defiance of Russia following a landmark accord with Greece over the ex-Yugoslav republic’s name.

Macedonia will become NATO’s 30th member state, though its people must first back the deal with Greece in a referendum. Under the accord, the official name of the country will become ‘Republic of North Macedonia’.

“We have decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join our alliance,” the leaders said in their summit communique.

The invitation to the small Balkan state of two million people comes despite opposition from Russia, which sees its influence in the region diminishing. A small pro-Russian party in Macedonia also opposes NATO membership.

(reuters.com)

And Ukraine waits…..and speaking of Ukraine…….

Hungary’s efforts to block Ukraine from the NATO Summit play into the hands of Russia. Hungary stated that it will block the NATO-Ukraine Commission from meeting at the upcoming NATO Summit on July 11 – 12 due to Hungary’s opposition to a recent language bill that Hungary asserts infringes on the rights of Hungarians in Ukraine. The Kremlin is pursuing a comprehensive campaign to target Ukraine via Hungary as outlined by the Institute for the Study of War in 2017. The Kremlin has attempted to influence a wide range of decision-makers in Hungary and fostered separatist narratives among Hungarians in Western Ukraine in order to destabilize Ukraine and distance it from the EU. The Kremlin is actively pursuing a broader region campaign aimed at driving a wedge between Ukraine and its neighbors such as Poland.

The U.S. and NATO allies should pressure Hungary to support the membership of Ukraine in NATO. Russia will continue to seize similar instances of bilateral friction as opportunities to distance Ukraine from NATO and erode the overall cohesion of NATO. The U.S. and NATO should use the upcoming summit to pressure Hungary to find an alternative venue to resolve its disputes and support Ukraine as a strong signal of united resolve towards Russia.

(ISW blog)

Now we go to Helsinki (a beautiful city) and the big meeting between spy and handler…..Trump and Putin…..and good time will be had by all.

Liberals…….

Liberals!  You know who they are according to most so-called conservs….they are anyone who does not meet what they consider a conserv ideology.

I would try to have an academic debate on this situation but that would be a waste of time and would end up with the so-called conserv saying “whatever” or their favorite retort “moving on”.

If there is half a brain out there then they will realize that we are witnessing the demise of democracy….but then few will see it for it is happening all around them slowly with a barrage of slogans……it is as if the world has lost all confidence in democracy…..

Democracy across the world is under siege. This according to the latest Freedom House report documenting that for 2017, “democracy faced its most serous crisis in decades” as seventy-one countries experienced declines in freedom or fair government, including the United States, and only thirty-five an improvement. This was the twelfth consecutive year of decline in democracy world-wide.

The question is why? Why has confidence in democracy retreated? Freedom House does not provide an answer, but there is a reason. It is democracy’s marriage to neo-liberal capitalism has fostered the conditions leading to its own undoing, similar to the way Karl Marx once described in the Communist Manifesto the “gravedigger thesis” (What the Bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers”) where capitalism would produce the conditions that would undermine its own existence.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/28/neo-liberalism-and-the-retreat-of-democracy/

Back in the early days of this republic a young Frenchman came to observe the founding of a new nation…..his name was Tocqueville and his book “Democracy In America” is required reading for a political scientist…..could this Frenchman save the US from itself?

The modern world differs from antiquity and the Middle Ages, a disjuncture Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835, 1840) proposes to explain and illustrate. In the past, societies were organized on the assumption that men were naturally unequal. However, the Christian idea of human equality provided the impetus for a “democratic revolution,” or a gradual reordering of the world based on the equality principle. Democracy in America shows what a difference equality makes by constantly contrasting modern, democratic forms of politics, work, family life, and the arts and sciences with their old, aristocratic counterparts.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/what-would-tocqueville-do/

This country needs all the assistance it can get….if it can be saved from itself…..I mean there are still those old farts that see a socialist behind every Democrat…..as always these people are afraid of something they cannot identify.