Aug 092017
 
 August 9, 2017  Posted by at 5:20 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »
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Jean-Michel Basquiat Self Portrait 1982

 

A Guardian headline today shouts: “Trump Has Taken Us To The Brink Of Nuclear War. Can He Be Stopped?”. And I’m thinking that is such obvious nonsense, how dare you print it? The North Korea nuke build up has been going on for decades, and neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush nor Obama ever took any decisive actions against it. And now it all falls into Trump’s lap. But that doesn’t mean he’s ‘taken us’ anywhere at all. The last thing Trump wants is this.

It’s not the last thing people like John McCain want, however. Who said about Trump’s “fire and fury” threat to Kim Jong-un that you shouldn’t make that threat unless you’re willing to execute it. Yeah, that’s exactly what McCain and Lindsey Graham and their entire entourage of friends and servants on Capitol Hill have been looking for for ages: war. And they see this in the same way that their peers saw Grenada in the Reagan era.

Small country, no challenge, good publicity. But Kim, crazy as he may or may not be, has learned a few lessons on the way. Cheney, W. and Rumsfeld ‘regime-changed’ Saddam Hussein, and Obama/Hillary ‘came saw and he died’ Gaddafi. They got offed before they could develop nukes. Kim knows that’s the dividing line. Sure, as I said, he may be crazy, but then everybody in this movie is.

That “Trump Has Taken Us To The Brink Of Nuclear War” line is based on da Donald’s “fire and fury” comment. But that is just him trying to talk to Kim in his own language. It was my first thought as soon as I heard it. Every other approach has failed, try this. My second thought was it was directed as much against Beijing as it was against Kim: Xi Jinping, once again, you have to stop this.

Xi has taken notice. He has a crucial Communist Party convention looming this fall, and he can’t afford to have a war in his backyard. He just didn’t have a reason to prevent it before. A few hours after Trump’s “fire and fury”, North Korea released a Canadian prisoner sentenced to hard labor for life. Coincidence? That’s not likely.

What Trump, what America, would need right now is open conversation with Putin, who can make or break things in the area. But given the recent sanctions etc., he doesn’t have much incentive. And the White House has few channels left to communicate with the Kremlin, because every single phone line is under investigation from one grand jury or another, and no line can be trusted to be secret anymore.

That hampers Trump and his people, but it even more hampers Putin in expressing his opinions. At the very moment, when there are nuclear threats being openly, publicly, bandied around, and the US Congress has tied its president’s hands in a very questionable fashion, which makes it impossible for him to talk to the one nuclear power in the world that matters.

The strange, and worrisome, thing about the ‘Orwellian’ 99% vote to take Trump’s powers away from him when it comes to communicating with Putin is that Capitol Hill decided to take it away, only to endorse itself with it. While you can discuss into the wee hours and then some what a US president’s powers should be, and what not, for any political ‘entity’ to vote another’s entity only to have it fall upon itself is legally dangerous.

And that’s not just because John McCain has seemed hellbent on ending his life with a big bang, forever. It’s even more because Capitol Hill has proven that it can effectively strangulate any president it doesn’t like, even if the American people have voted him/her in.

The very ironic consequence, at some point we wish will never come, would be that if Da Donald wants to strike Kim with anything at all, he’ll have to ask McCain and Graham for permission. And they will say: of course: when can we do it, can we do a little bit more just to be sure?

But if Trump wants to prevent that war, be it conventional or nuclear, who does he have to turn to? Not McCain and Graham, McDonnell, that set. They’re lost in the pockets of the military-industrial complex. As are Hillary and Obama and whatever is left after the Democrats go through a court-induced DNC fall-cleaning. They are paid by the exact same sources.

So who? The generals he’s surrounded himself with in the West Wing? Come to think of it, they may be the only sane voices left in Washington. But at the same time, does that feel like a real confidence booster?

Look, America, there are a 100,000 things wrong with Trump. But he is your president. And even if the whole Robert Mueller dig ever gets anywhere, it may first of all be too late, second of all lead to absolute mayhem if any impeachment process gets anywhere, and third of all have you end up with something far worse, president Pence, president Hillary, whatever.

What little-big-boy Kim should be telling you is that it’s time to support your president, no matter how flawed and despicable you think he may be. Because, and this is not the first time I’ve said this, he may well be the only thing standing between you and war. And don’t listen to the voices who claim he’s eager to start it. Or at least don’t listen only to them.

There’s a real chance that Trump will start a war somewhere, but it won’t be because he wants one. Other people in Washington do though. Just about all of them, given that 99% vote on Russia sanctions.

It is time to support your president, America. Not because you like him, or because you agree with him. But because your country elected him and because if you don’t, god help you.

 

 

Dec 212014
 
 December 21, 2014  Posted by at 10:56 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  21 Responses »
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Edwin Rosskam Provincetown, Massachusetts 1937

Michael Moore once famously – though by no means famously enough yet, because he was so dead-on – said that ‘you can’t declare war on a noun’. If only Americans had paid better attention. That would have shone a whole different light on, if not outright prevented, insane, expensive and terribly deadly concepts such as the ‘war on drugs’ and the ‘war on terrorism’. Now it looks as if John McCain is fishing for a fresh noun to declare war on.

Talking about Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Franco’s ‘The Interview’ movie, and the hackers known as ‘Guardians of the Peace’ who made Sony Pictures pull the movie’s Christmas release, McCain told CNN’s State of the Union that “It’s more than vandalism. It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in and we need to react, and react vigorously.” President Obama earlier said the opposite, that it’s not war, but vandalism.

I’d say it’s neither, it’s a bunch of hackers who penetrated Sony’s digital systems quite deeply, encouraged by the apparent lack of true security used to protect the systems. In essence, I don’t understand what either Obama or McCain are doing talking about the issue in the first place. The FBI claims they are certain the hackers are North Korean, but they have provided no proof of that claim. We have to trust them on their beautiful blue eyes.

I think if anything defines 2014 for me, it’s the advent of incessant claims for which no proof – apparently – needs to be provided. Everything related to Ukraine over the past year carries that trait. The year of ‘beautiful blue eyes’, in other words. Never no proof, you just have to believe what your government says.

But so, maybe they were/are North Korean hackers. And then? Is it such a bad thing that a group of people show us that the US is not the world’s sole master of technology, that there’s a certain degree of democracy, or of equality if you will, when it comes to computers and high tech? Doesn’t seem all that bad to me. It would seem much scarier if one party controls it all.

It might be worse of those same people hack the Pentagon, or the control of nuclear weapon systems, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to assume those systems are better secured than Sony’s movie-related files. If not, you can’t really blame the hackers for that.

And I know, maybe I should shut up about the whole thing, it’s not really my field, is it, but then, shutting up is not one of my strong points. You see, there are a few things about the whole ‘The Interview’ issue that I simply don’t understand.

I have no idea why the American President goes on TV to simultaneously protect and chide a Japanese company. It just seems weird. Or why, now that Vladimir Putin, and Russia as a whole, have been declared such awful people and such terrible enemies of the US that they need to take the place of Cuba as the worst possible adversaries of the American Dream and suffer blinding sanctions, Obama still reaches out to Russia for help against North Korea and its alleged team of hackers.

I’m trying to find the logic in all this, and I fail. I also don’t understand why the board at Sony pictures agree to spend who knows how many millions of dollars to produce a movie that evolves around the assassination of a head of state. I mean, I’ll be the first one to agree that the Kim Yung-Il and Kim Yong-Un dynasty looks strange to our western eyes and standards, but still, we’re talking about heads of state.

So me, I start wondering what other people’s ‘funny’ assassinations Sony would have agreed to finance a movie about, and whose deaths Rogen and Franco would have found sufficiently amusing to make that movie.

I’m guessing, albeit with with a certain degree of confidence, that attacks on the Japanese royal family would not have been on the list, given Sony’s origins. I also very much doubt the movie would have been made if the Pope had been the ‘comedic target’, though that would also have been redundant, since The Godfather 3 already features the murder of a Pope.

Perhaps my questions are better explained by using as potential victims of a CIA murder plot examples such as Queen Elizabeth, or her adorable little great-grandson prince George, William and Kate’s firstborn and future king of England if that is God’s will. I think in those potential cases, and I could name many more, Obama himself is an obvious one, the humor factor would be way less than now that Kim Jong-Un is the – fantasy – victim.

And if such a movie would have been made not by Rogen and Franco, but by people from North Korea, or perhaps, ISIS, or Venezuela, or Russia or East Ukraine, I’m thinking ‘WE’ would not be amused at all, and John McCain would be on Sunday morning talk shows spewing his convictions that said movie was an act of war against the US, and/or the free world as a whole, whichever comes first, and ‘we need to react vigorously.’

I sort of understand why Rogen/Franco figured it was a funny topic, but I don’t understand why they thought so for more than two seconds, and I certainly don’t see why Sony gave the project the go-ahead. It all doesn’t look terribly smart to me, none of it.

America creates its own enemies out of thin air, because that keeps the empire going and the people obediently following that empire, I get that. But don’t get started about -artistic – freedom of expression, because if you want to play that card, let’s all laugh our socks off about little baby Prince George or his great-grandmother being killed. Or Malala, not a bad example either. That would make Seth and James real men.

Now, they merely look pretty dumb. But I know, that’s just in my eyes, and for many other people it will be different. But people laugh to a large extent because their ideas have been shaped by the images, ideas and pictures the media feed them, whether it’s about Kim Jong-Un, Obama, Malala or little Prince George.

Murdering people is hardly ever a reason to laugh, and murdering heads of state, no matter what you, or your media, may think about them, is even a little bit less so. It has a lot to do with respect. So if you try anyway, don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a backlash.

One last thought: if The Interview had not been about a head of state, but about an ‘ordinary citizen’, what do you think the odds would have been of the US head of state getting involved in the whole mess? Maybe there is some respect after all… And now we return to our regular scheduled programming…