Within 48 hours of Trump’s swearing-in , it became clear that Donald J. Trump does not intend to serve as President, but rather as Petulant of the United States.
We are going to give Sean Spicer, White House press secretary and communications director (usually two jobs) the benefit of the doubt. Only this once will we give him that benefit; it was his first full day on the job. But, it was the most petulant, pathetic, putrid and pointless performance on that stage that we have ever seen.
He didn’t just insist, he ranted that what we estimate to be far fewer than 450,000 in attendance at the Trump inaugural was larger than the official estimate of 1.8 million who attended Obama’s first.
We’re going to allow, just this once, that Petulant Trump shoved him out there to deliver his delirious diatribe against his wishes, and too new in the job to resist doing something so stunningly stupid. (His appearance was followed the next morning by Chief Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s incredible claim to have “alternate facts.”)
His combative hate-filled performance was not that out of character; that was his style in the same jobs in the campaign and for the Republican National Committee, working directly under Reince Priebus, who didn’t know which way to jump after the party lost control of its primaries. Now, he is the new White House chief of staff. That experience belies the benefit of a doubt we offer Spicer.
Ironically, one of his biggest lies was delivered a little over two weeks earlier when he said that he could not do his job as press secretary if he had to lie because it would hurt his credibility.
In his first appearance on the job, the fool asserted that the inauguration the previous day was attended by the largest crowd ever. Petulant Trump estimated the attendance at “a million, million and a half people.” He and Spicer hatefully denounced news media and other reports that the crowd was far smaller than that.
Estimating crowds actually is not that hard. As a Washington, D.C., journalist, once as UPI reporter in charge of covering frequent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and similar events, we learned the art early on. In my case, I would section off the crowd into a certain size, count the number of people in that section and then walk around and count the sections on out to the periphery and multiply the results. My estimates were never far off the official ones that used to be announced later.
We did not attend Trump’s inaugural, but the press published comparative photos (of the same size, taken from the same window at the top of the Washington Monument) of the Obama’s first inaugural in 2009 when the official crowd count was put at 1.8 million people attending on the mall between the monument and the Capitol where the ceremony took place for both men.
We printed out the Reuters photos, each taken between one-half hour and an hour before the ceremony, and sectioned off the same city blocks in each. In the Obama inaugural photo of not all of the 1.8 million we divided part of the mall in the photo into 10 sections, and cautiously limited the crowd size in each to 150,000. In that photo, all the blocks were jammed with people.
Not even close in Trump photo; several of the blocks were less than half full. In the first one west of the Smithsonian Museum Castle appeared the first sizeable crowd of people, bunched in an eighth of the block. We gave that block 20,000 people. Counting that way on up to the Capitol, and being generous, we arrived at our estimate of far short of 450,000.
Similar photos of the women’s march the following day look more the Obama crowd than Trump’s, thus the estimate the women drew more.
We will pontificate in another article here later on the dangerous road that Trump’s media effort, including the threat to remove the press from the White house, is not just to the press corps or journalism, but the nation as a whole.
SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
—Get a grip folks and follow Jim Croce’s advice: “blow up your TV.” We won’t, but at least we can hit the mute button and note the advertiser we can boycott. It’s turning us into a nation of addlepated imbeciles. As this is written, it’s hard to find any “news” on TV, by definition that which is new or unusual.
In the latest Europe terrorist attack, at least as this is written, TV feeds us a repetitive stew of glop, all because three dozen people were killed in Belgium, a nation of 11 million people. That’s a ratio one in 306,000.
TV “news” is going ape-guano about three dozen people? That’s the average number of Americans who die of gun violence every day. (Gun suicides are not counted.)
On our own 9/11, 3,000 people lost their lives, a ratio of one in 110,000, triple the odds in Belgium. We trashed our Constitution, resorted to torture, imprisoned men in Guantanamo captured and kept in a way we denounce in others, and continue to hold them without basic human rights, such as a lawyer.
Nearly 15 years later, we suffer the response to a terrorist attack no worse than losing one in 110,000 people, a statistic important only if a victim was a relative or friend.
The odds of being hit by lightning at any time in our lives are just one in 3,000, and here the coincidence gets weird; that’s three dozen times more likely than being killed by a terrorist.
–It’s High Time for a GOP Exorcism-Part II–
Strange as it seems, the two parties were just the opposite of what they have become today—Republicans anti-slavery, Democrats dominated by southern senators firmly opposed to civil rights. The fact the Democrats adopted labor unions (segregated then, of course) as a major cause was not enough to overcome what was still a losing strategy, keeping the party out of the White House for more than half a century until the Great Depression and President Franklin Roosevelt.
After the mid-1960s and President Lyndon Johnson’s manhandling leadership in getting civil rights legislation through Congress, both parties made simultaneous switches into what they have become today.
Now seeing a greater pool of voters not likely to see things its way, Republicans adopted a “southern strategy” to attract into what it would call the “big tent party” the crusty southern Democrats who fought tooth and nail against desegregation and all that came with it.
Richard Nixon was to face Johnson in 1968, so the strategy was put into full force on his side. Southern Democrats felt they had no choice but to retire, leave their party and throw their lot in with Republicans, or at least not support its candidate. It worked and Nixon won against unabashedly liberal Hubert Humphrey.
The GOP has been riding that win ever since, now equally balanced with the Democratic Party which tended to control both houses of Congress. In and out of the presidencies, the parties managed the nation’s affairs in a spirit of collegiality and statesmanship, practicing politics as it was meant to be practiced in a democratic society—give and take under the rubric, “compromise.”
Those men included Republican Sens. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, Howard Baker of Tennessee and Bob Dole of Kansas. Their counterparts in the House were Gerald Ford of Michigan, John Rhodes of Arizona and Bob Michel of Illinois.
As those men represented their party and country loyally, productively, honorably and successfully, they dealt with leaders generally less so in the other party, with the exceptions of Rep. Tip O’Neill as House speaker and Sen. Mike Mansfield as Senate majority leader and his equally effective, but less admirable successor Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Then it descended into string of bad choices before finding George Mitchell of Maine for a brief stint.
Then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, both parties became dominated by what the aging leaders called “young Turks” in the House who wanted things their way, highly partisan with a low tolerance for compromise.
Richard Gephardt of Missouri came first, in the late 80s, launching a successful attempt to oust O’Neill, leading to the affable Bostonian’s early retirement. New Gingrich came second, early in the 90s to do the same against Michel, with the same outcome. Congress was never the same, especially on the Republican side.
Adults among the Democrats managed to stave off its party’s attempted revolution while the Republicans acquiesced to total destruction and rebirth as a nasty, hateful party reflecting its new Speaker Gingrich. Compromise was out, hateful, obstructionist politics was in and that’s where the GOP is today and descending.
Now the party is hoist by its own petard, having attracted like-minded and increasingly ignorant members to both houses, each reflecting the unflinching anti-government hostility of the constituents who sent them there.
The “big tent” idea actually was intended to attract minorities, women, Hispanics, the poor, the middle-class and all those who traditionally identified with the Democratic Party because of policies that generally favored them or helped them gain a modicum of equality.
Unfortunately for the GOP, it continued to behave towards those groups just as it had before, no welfare, no choices for women, fewer civil rights and what middle-class? as it moved to satisfy the yearnings of the rich and stingy. Obviously, why would people from those groups want to enter a tent like that?
No wonder the right-wing nutcases who tend to hate more than love, was able to take de facto control of the party.
The only answer we see for getting the party back is for the adult leaders still around to reject seemingly all of its presidential candidates toadying to the nutty right and tell them to find their own party, the GOP is going in the opposite direction and no longer wants their kind. The big tent has shrunk.
Obviously, that would split the opposition to the Democrats and almost certainly lead to several years of that party’s domination of Washington. A democratic government is not well-suited to long-term solutions that extend beyond the longest term, which is six years for a senator. Who would want to run now in a party doomed to serve a minority role for how many years?
Thus, the idea of a split and rebirth would be extremely hard to swallow, so hard it is highly unlikely, bordering on impossible, for it to happen.
Too bad for it. The Democratic party is not all hugs and kisses among its members. Liberals have chafed as its two recent supposedly liberal presidents over-bent to the middle.
Who knows, a new old GOP rising like a phoenix might be more successful sooner than we think.
—It’s High Time for a GOP Exorcism-Part I—
The Republican Party has become the laughing stock of national politics. It has been, to use a favorite phrase from Shakespeare, “hoist by its own petard.”
Now the party is floundering, not knowing what to do as its presidential nomination process spirals out of control of the adults in the room into the hands of what may be America’s most ignorant voters, or at least potential voters.
We have the answer, but it would be so ugly for the party for the next several elections, it is highly unlikely it would adopt the solution. It would mean self-sacrifice for a while, handing control to the Democrats. But, if it doesn’t and be willing to lose elections, it stands to morph into the not-so-grand new party. It’s a Hobson’s choice.
GOP adults, the titular and non-titular leaders of the party, are laying plans to block Trump at the convention, using some of the tactics borrowed from Congress. We fear that will not be the answer. Something must be done now, something also fearful to the party and what is left of its sane adherents.
For 50 years, beginning with the “southern strategy” and continuing to the present, the party has attracted and invited the worst of Americans into its “big tent.”
The “big tent” intent was to attract into the party minorities, women, Hispanics, everyone not its usual white suburban middle-age man. That was laughable because Republicans on city councils, legislatures and Congress continued to work against all of those voter segments even more repelled by the party’s ideals than before.
Still desperate for numbers, the party readily accepted anyone who would vote on its side, regardless of how nutty they were. Now it faces the prospect that the nuttiest of them just could get the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
Rising from the ooze and slime with the party’s acquiescence is a bigoted demagogue whose aim appears to be, judging by his words, the equal of the World War II era’s biggest bigoted demagogues, Hitler and Mussolini and supposedly on the side of the our allies, Stalin.
Some may laugh at that idea, or at least want to laugh as they choke back what is attempting to be regurgitated, but we have become a different American society over the past decade. A large portion of our electorate is becoming ignoramuses.
Thanks to the Internet and the ability of anyone, including us, to post anything we want on it regardless of whether we have the credentials for doing so, we have become a society of insulated minds, accepting and believing only what we want while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
Taking advantage of that characteristic of complete ignorance has been the supposed “news” network of an Australian who made his first millions publishing tabloid magazines of the quality of the supermarket rag National Inquirer, which made up crap about celebrities and others to pander to the weak of mind.
Today, the weak of mind are being corrupted by the FUX network, which lies up front in its slogan, calling FOX News “fair and balanced.” Nothing on television has failed to live up to that slogan more than FUX.
Today, the GOP might as well be called the FOX. Its slobbering followers now have brought Congress to a halt and flummoxed the party leadership to the point that the adults, including Speaker John Boehner, facile liar that he is, decides he can’t deal with them any more. It’s only a matter of time before the reluctant Speaker Paul Ryan, also throws in the towel, particularly if Donald Trump continues to attract voters so racist, xenophobic and all the other worst things one can say about another human being.
Just as it must be one of the most painful acts a human being can perform to save a loved one, practicing “tough love,” the party must sacrifice itself for the near future for the sake of its own future, even if it does emerge from the ashes like a phoenix, with a new name.
The adults of the GOP must reject Trump and all of his followers and tell them to go form their own party; they are no longer welcome in the Republican. Perhaps they can join Ben Carson.
How that decision could be enforced and upheld in today’s legal environment is unclear. In addition, it would be political suicide in the near term. Call it an exorcism, if that term is easier to accept.
—-Israel versus Palestine—-
60 Years of a Bad Decision
-A pearl from our past
One of the dumbest decisions a collection of nations ever made occurred in the years immediately after World War II. The consequences of that decision, based as much on emotion as anything else, is playing out today as it has done for 60 years.
The conflict between the Muslim Arabs of the Middle East and Jewish Israel has no end as long as those who might have an impact on a resolution continue to try to make a dumb decision work. If ever there was an up-to-date illustration of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, it is the Bush administration incursion into Iraq. The Barack Obama administration needs some new thinking on the issue and the rest of the involved world needs to take heed. We do not know what the solution is, we only know there needs to be a new way of thinking about the situation.
We do know that this back and forth revenge, retaliation, tit for tat, whatever you want to call it, has been going on since 1948 without a solution, so why continue looking for one in the same old worn-out policies.
The time to think outside the box is becoming urgent as Russia works to restore the cold war, meaning aid and support on the side of opponents of anything the United States favors, in this case, Israel.
The region between Syria, Iraq, Arabia and Egypt to what is now the Suez Canal was handed over to the British Empire to administer after World War I. That empire has a poor history of preparing any of its minions for independence.
Also, as we have learned most recently with the fall of the Soviet Union and other empire collapses of recent decades, artificial mergings of conflicting ethnic, cultural religious, historical or any other pairings of groups that have their own ways of life simply do not work.
In Iraq today, it is the Shiites vis a vis the Sunnis, kept unified, as usual, through dictatorial means. That is no different than the British attempt to keep India unified as one country, even though present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh were totally unrelated to India, even hostile to it. Pakistan still is, Bangladesh is just trying to survive.
What could world leaders have been thinking when they created a Jewish state in the aftermath of discovering the holocaust? To give Jews land, they had to take it from someone else. The someone else lived in the British Mandate of Palestine.
There probably is no greater conflict in the recorded history than the religious schisms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which came about within a few hundred years of each other in the same area before and during the Dark Ages, a period when nothing good or rational was accomplished.
Since religion is not a product of rational thinking, there is no rational solution to a religious problem. We need to recognize that and chart a new course in the Middle East, and not just in the area once known as Palestine.
The United States was only 85 years old when it fought a Civil War over a fundamental split of the populace. Why would we expect countries in steady conflict for more than 85 decades to come to terms with differences even broader, particularly ones largely based on religious differences.
The three religions have been at war with each other for nearly two millenia, so why would a collection of countries created after World War II as the United Nations believe that Resolution 181 dividing what was then Palestine between Jews and Arabs would work, particularly when nearly all of the Jews were foreigners at the time. That only added xenophobia to the mix.
Not only were lands of the Palestinians taken from them to create a state at odds with their religious beliefs, the land happened to contain Jerusalem, seen by all three of the area’s religions as their home base. Of course the Palestinians would resent the action and not go quietly into a goodnight.
Six decades later, what is left of Palestine and the created state of Israel naturally remain at loggerheads, both employing the eye-for-an- eye, tooth-for-a-tooth attitude. The dispute is not going to be resolved by giving the scrap of land now considered Palestine its own statehood, even though that would be a fair concession. There remains this surrounding wedge of land now known as Israel from which ancestors of Palestinians were driven and which continues to be a thorn in their sides.
The U.S. position of defending Israel at all costs is a holdover from the Cold War when the Soviet Union sided with the Arabs and the United States with Israel—our disastrously failed enemy-of-our-enemy- is-our-friend policy.
This isn’t to say we should abandon Israel; it is to say we need a new way of thinking about the situation and to move away from the same policy that has failed for the past 60 years.
Who knows what foreign affairs geniuses might come up with once challenged. Perhaps the answer is a well-patrolled demilitarized zone similar to the one that has been successful for about the same length of time in keeping the two Koreas apart. Perhaps it is a corridor to Jerusalem cut across Israel from Gaza similar to the one from West Germany through East Germany to Berlin that lasted almost as long.
New thinking is the challenge facing the Obama administration, which in turn must convince the rest of the United Nations to think outside the box.