The Weiner Component V.2 #25 – North Korea & the United States

The Weiner Component V.2 #25 – North Korea and the United States

 

Geographically, North Korea is a mountainous country located in East Asia on the northern half of the Korean peninsula.  Its borders face three countries: China, Russia, and South Korea.  Both China and Russia are separated by rivers, South Korea is separated at the 38th parallel where 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed.

 

Most of North Korea is a series of medium-sized mountain ranges and large hills, separated by deep narrow valleys.  There are some coastal plains.  Its population is in the area of 25.2 million and it has a problem feeding its population.  In the mid-1990s the country went through intense shortages of food and people there faced starvation.  Several times emergency food was shipped into the country, even from the United States.

 

Historically Korea was a separate kingdom with its own language and culture.  After the 1905 war between Russia and Japan, which the Japanese won, Korea was made into a protectorate of Japan.  Within a relatively short time Japan imposed her own culture upon it, attempting to force it to become an adjunct of Japan.  Korean culture and language were forbidden.  This process continued until 1945 when Japan surrendered to the United States and World War II ended.

 

Korea had been liberated by the United States in the South and the Soviet Union in the North.  For occupation purposes it was divided at the 38th Parallel.  In the North the Russians set up a Communist Government called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with its capital at Pyongyang.  In the South the United Nations (UN) established the Republic of Korea with its capital at Seoul

 

While North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has no law of succession the head of the Kim family has ruled since 1946.  Kim il-Sung ruled until his death on July 8, 1994.  His son, Kim Jong-il was the nation’s leader until his death on December 12, 2011 and Kim Jong-Un, Jong-iI’s; younger son became ruler then.  He was born in 1984 and is currently 33 years old.

 

Kim Jong-Un’s older half-brother was murdered within the last year.  He had been a critic of the North Korean government.  What was used was a strong chemical which kills within minutes after being applied to the skin.

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On June 25th 1950, the North Korean army invaded South Korea crossing the 38th Parallel.  The Russians had built a North Korean army while the U.S. had built a South Korean police force strong enough to control the South but not strong enough to invade the North.  The North Korean army practically pushed the American GI’s off the peninsula.  Reinforcements were immediately sent from Japan.  The War lasted until 1953 when a truce was signed stopping the fighting at the 38th   Parallel.  The reason it was signed was that President Eisenhower was threatening to use atomic weapons against the Northern Korean army.

 

By that time Communist China, under the rule of Mao Tse-tung, had sent into Korea most, if not all, of its army that had originally been loyal to Generalissimo Chang Kai-shek, as volunteers, but who had switched sides when the Communists won.  Chairman Mao Tse-tung was not unhappy to lose them.

 

A peace treaty was never signed with the United States after the 1953 Truce.  Technically North Korea is still at war with the United States and South Korea.  Consequently it has built a series of concrete bunkers in the region north of the 38th parallel and throughout North Korea.  In addition the country has engaged over the years in atomic weapon and missile development.

 

To the Democratic Republic of Korea they are still at war with the United States.  They see this country as their unyielding, corrupt enemy, who they would love to destroy.  But, so far, they have done nothing because they would be attacking a mass area containing 350 million people that is considered the strongest nation on earth.

 

Today North Korea has atomic bombs and recently shot off an intercontinental rocket which was capable of reaching the United States.  Verbally, Kim Jong-un, has threatened to blow-up the U.S. but outside of talk has taken no actions.  The country claims to have developed an H-bomb.  The probability of that is low but it is a possibility.

 

The presumed atomic bomb test on Thursday, July 12, 2017 may have caused a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in the Sea of Japan.  North Korea tests its atomic weapons in old mines or deep caves.  Exploding a bomb above ground adds to the radio-activity in the atmosphere.  Enough explosions could make the surface of the earth toxic to humans.

 

The probability is that an H-bomb may be too powerful to even sanely test underground but that North Korea recently did test one.  The United States did so on November 1, 1952.  The thermonuclear weapon is 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb.  It was exploded over Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific.  The island was melted down well below the water level.  It disappeared.  The Soviet Union detonated theirs the following year in deserted parts of Siberia.  I do not believe any have been tested since, at least not above ground.

 

Briefly an atomic bomb is a nuclear device that splits innumerable atoms giving of massive amounts of energy.  It is exploded about 2,000 feet above ground.  The H-bomb is an implosive device that would be exploded well above the level for the atomic weapon.  It creates complex elements from simpler ones giving off far more heat/energy than the atomic bomb.  These are the explosions on the surface of the sun that generate the heat that fuels the galaxy and allows life to exist on this planet.

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Kim Jong Un gained control of North Korea late in 2011.  His rule has seen the economy improve.  He has not compromised or opened talks with any country unlike his father who occasionally held talks with Washington in order to gain concessions.  Kim Jong Un seems uninterested in any negotiations until he perfects a nuclear missile that is capable of striking anywhere in the United States.  He is not quite there yet.

 

He has had three of the five atomic test explosions.  On July 4th of 2017 he had a successful ICBM missile launch which told the world that North Korea could launch intercontinental missiles which could reach parts of the U.S.

 

Kim Jong Un’s propaganda has argued that nuclear deterrence is a “treasured sword” that can cope with U.S. aggression.  Seemingly he doesn’t want to resolve issues with diplomacy.  Instead he wants to protect North Korea by continually strengthening the country’s military ability.  He has continually promised to achieve Korean unification.  Presumably after achieving a maximum buildup he could win big outside concessions in return for imposing a moratorium on nuclear and missile development such as large aid packages and the suspension of United States and South Korean military drills.  North Korea sees these as a rehearsal for an invasion.  They also want a formal peace treaty officially ending the 1950 to 1953 Korean War.  This will allow for, among other things, the withdrawal of 28,500 American troops that have been stationed at the 38th Parallel since 1953.

 

It should be remembered here that the truce for the original Korean War came about because President Eisenhower threatened to use atomic weapons against North Korea.  Apparently that inspired the North Koreans to develop its own atomic weapons and to use them as a threat against the United States.

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President Donald J. Trump has continually been attempting to get other nations to get North Korea to back off its missile and nuclear testing.  According to Xi Jinping, the current head of China, when speaking to Trump during a United States visit, he explained that North Korea has historically gone its own way and it is impossible to force them to do anything.

 

This may be historically true but today China is its main trading partner with whom it does 90% of its foreign trading.  Among other things North Korea gets most of its oil from China almost for free.  If China were to significantly decrease the amount it sold/gave to North Korea that country would have trouble keeping its military going.  Airplanes and motor vehicles, both military and civilian, among other things, are dependent upon oil.

 

North Korea has and supports a large military but it is a very poor nation.  The probability is that China, although friendly with America does not want to face the possibility of a North Korea collapse which would take place if the oil imports were cut.  It would then have South Korea and its ally, the United States on its border.

 

For the last 2,000 years, whenever China was in a position to do so, China has not allowed strong nations on its borders.  The probability is that Kim Jong Un is relying on this fact.  Obviously China’s goals here are not those of the United States.

 

Kim Jong Un’s position is that he can threaten the United States or anyone else and make them very uncomfortable but he cannot really use his weapons.  Once he uses a missile and atomic bomb he leaves his country venerable.  The United States is 3,000 miles from East to West and over 1,000 miles from the North to the South end.  He can kill a lot of people but there is no way he can totally destroy the nation.  Besides that in one of his European trips President Trump inadvertently announced that there were two atomic submarines in the Sea of Japan.  They carry atomic weapons and can fire them from under water.  One H-bomb could destroy his capital, Pyongyang, and the coastal areas around it.  For Kim Jong Un to fire a missile with a nuclear warhead would be an act of national suicide.

 

The problem here could be the erratic behavior of President Donald J. Trump.  He has been reaching around for some way to force Kim Jong Un and North Korea to stop both missile and nuclear tests.  To date, he hasn’t had much success and is getting more and more frustrated.  Hopefully he will not begin a military action.

 

Can the problem with North Korea be resolved?  There are actually several possibilities for this goal to be achieved.  North Korea does about 90% of its trading with China and probably most of the other 10% with Russia.  It would like to be accepted a modern nation by the United States and other countries.  Both the United States and most of the nations belonging to the United Nations have applied economic sanctions.  These are increased every time North Korea tests a new missile or tests a new atomic bomb.

 

The American National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Dennis Rodman, has visited North Korea several times over the last few years.  Kim Jong Un has told him more than once to have the President call him, while holding his hand up to his face, with his thumb over his ear and his pinky over his mouth.  The last time this occurred Barack Obama was President.  The phone call was never made.  Is President Trump capable of making the phone call?  Would it start the process of a suspension of nuclear and missile activity?  It’s very possible.

 

Another possibility is to let China broker a deal with the U.S calling off its yearly dress rehearsal of an invasion of North Korea.  Is the U.S. capable of that or is it waiting for North Korea to act first?

 

The question is moot.  Currently each leader is waiting for the other to act first.  Currently the U.S. expects China or Russia to begin the process.  While North Korea feels that nuclear and missile development protect it.  Meanwhile Kim Jong Un and Donald J. Trump are getting more and more frustrated.

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The Weiner Component V.2 #24 – Trump at the G20 Summit

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

0n the 7th and 8th of July in this year of 2017 the G20 Hamburg Summit met in that city in Germany.  The G20 Meeting is held yearly at a different city.  In 2016 it was at Hangzhou in China.  In 2018 it will be at Buenos Aires in Argentina.

 

The leaders of 20 major nations, that are permanent members, are present. They deal with the issues of international concern to all modern countries.  Present in alphabetical order were the elected heads of Argentine, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.  In addition the presidents of Guinea, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Vietnam were also present.  The heads of the following prominent organizations also were represented: World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Financial Stability Board (FSB), United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labor Organization (WTO), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC), and the World Health Organization, (WHO).

 

In addition to dealing with international trade, climate change, and energy policy they emphasized global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation, mainly issues of global significance.

 

President Donald J. Trump, who represented the United States, marched to a different drummer from practically everyone else.  As the world’s greatest negotiator, by his own admission, he tended to flaunt how America came first and generally disagreed with many established positions and scientific beliefs held by the other countries and world organizations.  The other leaders tended to be polite to him while ignoring both him and the United States.  Many had met him earlier when he had removed the U.S., from supporting the stoppage of climate change, at a prior meeting.  He had denied that its occurrence was being brought about by the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.  A Republican position supported by the U.S. oil industry which contributes heavily to the Republican Party.

 

In fact Trade Agreements were formulated around him.  Japan and the European Union seem to be in the process of working out a free trade agreement between themselves.  The assorted nations tended to mostly ignore Trump.

 

When it comes to diplomacy Trump is a rank amateur.  Unlike what he has done in business he can’t bully his was through.  Trump works on the premise that everyone needs the cooperation of the United States.    It was true at the end of World War II and into the 1950s with the Marshall Plan.  It is certainly not true today with many nations far ahead of the United States with healthcare and also in other areas.

 

Both the European nations and those in Asia rebuilt after the Second World War.  Their infrastructures date back to that period.  The U.S. infrastructure dates back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  The world can easily get along without the United States, if necessary.  If Trump cancels or attempts to renegotiate the varies Trade Agreements that the U.S. has signed or refuses to sign new ones then all the other nations involved can make agreement without the U.S. being involved.  If necessary the U.S. can be totally ignored.

 

With Trump’s basic attitude that America Comes First, which he usually announces, he can by his basic crude negotiating skills bring about a trade war between the United States and all its traditional allies.  Will this happen?  Apparently that depends upon Trump’s actions in antagonizing all the United States’ former friends.

 

Trump’s basic attitude has been erratic toward the U.S. allies and treaties.  He has been approving toward semi-dictators and dictators like Vladimir Putin.  He has spoken about renegotiating all American trade treaties, which he calls “terrible.”

 

So far, five months into his presidency, he has not attempted to renegotiate or even negotiate anything.  He has loudly complained about China selling or “dumping” cheap steel in the U.S. and disagreed with and essentially upset all America’s traditional allies.

 

It is interesting to note that earlier when Trump was building his Trump Towers he used cheaper Chinese steel in building some of them.  He seems to call upon everyone else to do what he now considers proper but did not do himself.

 

If he does generate a trade war by placing a 20% tariff on Chinese steel or otherwise with the rest of the world by placing heavy tariffs upon their trade goods, all the other nations of the G20 have stated that they will reciprocate immediately.  The overall effect of that upon the U.S. would be to raise the price of all trade goods 20% or more and have all other nations essentially stop purchasing American goods.  The effect would not only be a significant rise in the cost of all imports it would also generate large scale unemployment for goods and services and bring about an immediate overproduction of food products that ordinarily would be exported.  So much for the world’s greatest negotiator!

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Trump took a giant step at the G20 Hamburg Summit.  In essence he took the first major step in reducing the U.S. from being a major nation, a leader among the industrial nations, toward becoming a secondary country in the world today.  He did this by disagreeing with the other 19 permanent members upon the concept of global warming, international trade, and most other policies brought up.  In the main his attitudes are based upon what he knows and believes.  Scientific or other forms of proof have nothing to do with his conclusions.  He just knows what he knows and seems to be incapable of learning anything new.

 

Trump has successfully alienated the leaders of the other nations present at the G20 Summit so that most of their agreements bypassed the United States.  He very successfully removed the U.S. from a leadership position.

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Of far more interest to Trump was a meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  The meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, it lasted over two hours.  Present were Trump and Putin.  In addition Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was present with Russian foreign minister Serget Lavrov and two translators.  Trump did not have any of his foreign policy experts at the meeting.  He winged it.

 

Among other things, early on Trump asked Putin directly if he had interfered in the American Presidential Election and Putin answered that he did not.  This to Trump apparently was absolute proof that Russia had not interfered in the election.  The fact the every American intelligence agency had come to other conclusions was immaterial.  Putin had given his word so it must be true.  A few days later when it emerged that his oldest son, Donald junior, and son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, had colluded with a Russian lawyer in June before he was elected to office apparently is immaterial.

 

It was their first face to face meeting.  Trump shook Putin’s hand several times from a seated position for Russian news photographers.  No American news person was allowed into the meeting.

 

The object of this face to face get-together was for the two leaders to look beyond the 2016 Presidential Election controversy and for the two countries to find a way to move forward from there.  There was no specific agenda.  The topics were whatever President Trump wanted to talk about.  Presumably the conversation covered a range of subjects which included Ukraine, Syria, North Korea nuclear threats, terrorism, and cyber security.

 

In fact Trump wanted to cooperate with Russia in setting up a combined cyber security task force.  When he returned to Washington, D.C. Republican members of Congress and advisers talked him out of this.  Trump, who never backs off anything he says, declared that he was testing the waters and would have separate cyber security.

 

It was announced later that the two nations along with Jordan had brokered a cease-fire agreement in the southwest of Syria to take effect on Sunday.

 

No agreement was reached on the two diplomatic compounds in the United States, one in Maryland and one in New York, which President Obama had taken as part of the sanctions over Russia’s behavior in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Presumably they have been used for spying.  No agreement was reached on North Korea.

 

The meeting was extremely cordial between the two presidents.  U.S. officials were surprised by the Russian state news agency’s immediate release of photographs of the visit.  These showed Trump and Putin engaged in jovial conversation.

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Obviously Trump had used one half of one of the two G20 Summit days in an attempt to upstage the meeting, draw attention to himself and attempt to debunk the fact that Russia had interfered with the U.S. Presidential Election.  To Putin and Russia the face to face meeting was important because it showed Russia as an equal with the United States, demonstrating to the world who the two dominant powers are.  The meeting was celebrated as a victory on Russian state media.

 

Ordinarily when the leaders of nations meet for major negotiations the meeting is planned well in advance with an agenda strictly worked out by subordinates of both nations.  The leaders have specific purposes in getting together.  It is a major event.

 

In this case it was on Trump’s part almost a casual event.  Actually he wanted to dispel the fact that Russia interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election.  He did not succeed.

 

In fact it would be a little over a week later that his oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr. would publically state that he had colluded with a Russian lawyer to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June well before the Presidential Election.  In admitting this and saying he would cooperate with the government Trump Jr. verbally changed what happened, to date, three times.  And the number of Russians present has also increased.  Will there be more revelations from him?

 

Now Donald, Sr. is busy justifying what his son did, stating that anyone would have done this and totally ignoring the fact that his son committed a federal felony, which, in anybody else’s case, would now have them in prison awaiting trial for having committed a serious crime.

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What we have seen at the Summit is the world’s greatest amateur, in the name of the United States, deal with other nations; being friendly to adversaries and unfriendly to former friendly nations.  Will this behavior go on for another 3 1/2 years?

The Weiner Component Vol.#2 – President Trump, the Mighty Warrior

On Friday, April 8, 2017, President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian military airport from where he believed planes, on April 4th  originated, that dropped poison sarin gas upon onto a Damascus suburb killing up to 1,423 people, mostly civilian adults and a large number of children.

 

Trump commented at a news conference about watching television and seeing the results of the raid upon young children.  “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact.  That was a horrible, horrible thing.  And I’ve been watching it, and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”  He spoke about the “beautiful little babies” that had been killed with poison gas.  “It crossed a lot of lines for me.  When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal.  That crosses many, many lines.  Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

 

On Friday when he met with the Chinese President at his resort in Florida he had ordered as Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles to be sent to the Shayrat Air Base, where the Syrian planes carrying the poison gas had presumably originated.  In doing this Trump changed his “America First” policy.

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To understand both Syria and the Middle East it is necessary to look at this region historically.  The Ottoman or Turkish Empire began toward the end of the 13th Century, when it conquered most of what is today the Middle East.  After 1354 it crossed into Europe conquering the Balkans.  During the 16th and 17th Centuries it became a multinational, multilingual Empire, consisting of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.  For various reasons the Ottomans suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and 19th Centuries.  In the early 20th Century they allied with the Central Powers during World War I.  Its defeat in that war led to the occupation of parts of its territories by some of the Allied Powers.  This resulted in the loss of itsremaining empire.  The Middle East territories were divided between England and France.  A successful revolt against the occupying allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey, which is today modern Turkey.

 

The Middle East was split-up by the two Allied Nations in such a way as to accommodate their new possessions as colonies and protectorates.  The indigenous needs, religions, and otherwise of the people were ignored.  The divisions were decided totally upon requirements or whims of the victorious European nations that took them over as possessions that would be used for essentially economic purposes.

 

After World War II these colonies began revolting in order to gain their independence.  When it was realized that it would be cheaper to grant them independence and trade with them rather than continue to hold them in line militarily the Middle East nations gained their freedom and the Age of Imperialism ended.

 

The boundary lines that were set at the end of the First World War are the same boundary lines that exist today.  The Middle East nations are essentially conglomerates of different groups of peoples.  In a few cases there is a majority but in most instances the countries are made up of many minorities, usually with one of them ruling the country.  Such is the case in Syria.

 

In 2011 the Arab Spring occurred.  It was a movement of a number of Middle East nations attempted to move in the direction of democracy.  In most cases these countries ended up with a new minority ruling and the rest of the population being more or less repressed as they were before 2011.

 

In Syria the Arab Spring generated a conflict between Bashar al-Assad’s regime that represents a minority of its citizens and a majority of different groups that wanted it gone.  Assad is supported by about one third of the population and the army.  Over the last six years the situation has spiraled into an immensely complicated international war.  On the one side there is the government of the country headed by President al-Assad, who is supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia and on the other side innumerable groups, supported by Saudi Arabia and to some extent by the U.S., fighting Assad’s government and each other at times.  Some of the groups are extremely reactionary or radical and some are more moderate but the political positions the groups adhere to changes at times, putting the U.S. in an impossible position as to whom to support militarily.

 

In addition ISIS or ISIL has set up what it calls a Worldwide Caliphate (world state) which it claims has religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has controlled a large section in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people.  In addition to warfare they have conducted televised mass beheadings of prisoners and civilians, which have included two American newsmen.

 

In the constant six years of civil war over 4 ½ million people in Syria have been displaced.  This has led to a constant stream of refugees leaving or trying to leave the country.  The mass of refugees have caused strains in other Middle East countries, in Europe, and even in the United States, where   President Donald Trump has unsuccessfully attempted to keep, among others, all Syrian refugees from entering the country, calling them potential terrorists.

 

While earlier the United States under President Barack Obama wanted Assad gone they had largely participated in arming the Kurds, a group situated in a region in both Iraq and Syria, whose agenda is mainly to set up their own Kurd state.  The U.S. is mainly bombing ISIS in both countries while the Kurds are fighting them on the ground.  Largely but not completely the United States had, has avoided specifically supporting anyone in the Syrian Civil War.  But they are continuing to fight ISIS, mainly from the air.

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In 2013, after a chemical poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Russia had supposedly removed all poison gas chemicals from Syria after it they were initially used by them.  President Obama, at that time had drawn a red line, the United States would not allow the use of chemical warfare.  Presumably he was stopped from taking any actions by the Republican Congress.  But Assad did agree to give up all his chemical weapons, which were removed by Russia and presumably destroyed.  But it would seem that Assad held back some of the poison gas and this was used in the early April 2017 bombing in the rebel held area of Khan Sheikhoun.

 

The raiders dropped barrel bombs, which in this case were canisters of sarin poison gas. In addition to be breathed in the gas can enter the body through the pores in the skin.  There were some very dramatic television pictures of people trying to wash the poison off the bodies and clothing of young children by hosing them with water.  There were also pictures of children and adults undergoing great torment painfully trying to breathe.  This apparently is what caused Trump’s reaction.

 

Assad claims that he is not responsible, that he gave up his supply of poison gas in 2013.  Putin and Russia support his claim.  The United States and President Trump blame the Assad regime.  Not too long ago Chlorine gas was used against one of the rebelling groups in Syria by Assad.  Apparently chlorine, which is used to etch glass, in not a poison gas!  The situation in Syria is complicated, particularly with issuing blame.

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My last point concerns President Donald J. Trump.  How sincere is he?  He has stated that he doesn’t like to read, that he gets his information by watching television.  His reaction to the chemical poison gas attack in Syria has been shock, watching young children suffering from poison gas.  His reaction to the sight was to punish the perpetrators of the bombing.

 

There was no investigation of who had dropped the gas bombs.  It was broadly assumed that only al-Assad was capable of doing it.  Assad, backed by Russia, claimed that he did not order it or even that he had any poison gas.  He claimed that his government had turned over their supply of poison gas to Russia in 2013, who had destroyed the supply.

 

Would Assad order the dropping of the poison gas?  I suspect the answer is, yes, if he had a reason to do so.

 

Trump seems to change his attitudes as quickly as a chameleon changes its color.  He has claimed that he wasn’t interested in what was happening overseas, that his basic policy is America first.  Yet, after watching some television newsreel about children suffering and dying from being gassed in Syria he ordered the bombing of the Syrian airfield where the planes are supposed to have come from.  He was emotionally moved and reacted to the sight of the atrocity.

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It should also be noted that President Trump likes to change the topic at times that the media is using when it is negative.  This is particularly true in terms of him and his staff being associated with Russia during the Presidential Campaign and earlier.

 

In doing this he’s come up with real nonsense, such as President Obama illegally bugging his facilities during the Presidential campaign.  There is no proof of this and it has been emphatically disclaimed by all the government agencies like the FBI, but still Trump persists in this bit of alternate reality.  I get the impression that Trump’s version of a fact is whether, if he were in the other President’s position then it is something he would do.  Apparently, to him, everyone else has the same low code of honor Trump has!

 

One of Trump’s former aids is registering retrogressively as a foreign agent.  Another was fired after lying to the Vice President.  Numerous others have associations with foreign countries.  Trump has stated in different speeches that he both personally knows and that he has never met Vladimir Putin, the Russian premier.

 

It has been suggested that the American bombing of the Syrian air force base was arranged by Trump with Putin’s support and that Assad’s government knew about it in advance.  From what I understand only six Syrians died from the exploding 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles, that is 59 separate tomahawk missiles each costing one million dollars.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  Could it be true?  There were no Russians anywhere in or near the airbase.

 

Will Trump do it again?  President Putin has stated that there will be serious consequences if he does.

 

Looking at what’s happening in Syria from President Trump’s prospective, it’s alright to kill people and children as long as poison gas is not used.  There seems to be something wrong with that attitude.

 

If this is the only effort made against Assad and his government then what was the real point of the 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles dropped on the Syrian air base?  Or was this a message being sent to North Korea, telling them to back down on their atomic bombs and missile development tests?

 

Somehow a lot of what has happen here makes no sense unless it is an outpouring of Trump’s ever-changing emotional states.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #13 – President Trump, the Mighty Warrior

 

On Friday, April 8, 2017, President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian military airport from where he believed planes, on April 4th  originated, that dropped poison sarin gas upon onto a Damascus suburb killing up to 1,423 people, mostly civilian adults and a large number of children.

 

Trump commented at a news conference about watching television and seeing the results of the raid upon young children.  “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact.  That was a horrible, horrible thing.  And I’ve been watching it, and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”  He spoke about the “beautiful little babies” that had been killed with poison gas.  “It crossed a lot of lines for me.  When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal.  That crosses many, many lines.  Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

 

On Friday when he met with the Chinese President at his resort in Florida he had ordered as Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles to be sent to the Shayrat Air Base, where the Syrian planes carrying the poison gas had presumably originated.  In doing this Trump changed his “America First” policy.

******************************

To understand both Syria and the Middle East it is necessary to look at this region historically.  The Ottoman or Turkish Empire began toward the end of the 13th Century, when it conquered most of what is today the Middle East.  After 1354 it crossed into Europe conquering the Balkans.  During the 16th and 17th Centuries it became a multinational, multilingual Empire, consisting of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.  For various reasons the Ottomans suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and 19th Centuries.  In the early 20th Century they allied with the Central Powers during World War I.  Its defeat in that war led to the occupation of parts of its territories by some of the Allied Powers.  This resulted in the loss of itsremaining empire.  The Middle East territories were divided between England and France.  A successful revolt against the occupying allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey, which is today modern Turkey.

 

The Middle East was split-up by the two Allied Nations in such a way as to accommodate their new possessions as colonies and protectorates.  The indigenous needs, religions, and otherwise of the people were ignored.  The divisions were decided totally upon requirements or whims of the victorious European nations that took them over as possessions that would be used for essentially economic purposes.

 

After World War II these colonies began revolting in order to gain their independence.  When it was realized that it would be cheaper to grant them independence and trade with them rather than continue to hold them in line militarily the Middle East nations gained their freedom and the Age of Imperialism ended.

 

The boundary lines that were set at the end of the First World War are the same boundary lines that exist today.  The Middle East nations are essentially conglomerates of different groups of peoples.  In a few cases there is a majority but in most instances the countries are made up of many minorities, usually with one of them ruling the country.  Such is the case in Syria.

 

In 2011 the Arab Spring occurred.  It was a movement of a number of Middle East nations attempted to move in the direction of democracy.  In most cases these countries ended up with a new minority ruling and the rest of the population being more or less repressed as they were before 2011.

 

In Syria the Arab Spring generated a conflict between Bashar al-Assad’s regime that represents a minority of its citizens and a majority of different groups that wanted it gone.  Assad is supported by about one third of the population and the army.  Over the last six years the situation has spiraled into an immensely complicated international war.  On the one side there is the government of the country headed by President al-Assad, who is supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia and on the other side innumerable groups, supported by Saudi Arabia and to some extent by the U.S., fighting Assad’s government and each other at times.  Some of the groups are extremely reactionary or radical and some are more moderate but the political positions the groups adhere to changes at times, putting the U.S. in an impossible position as to whom to support militarily.

 

In addition ISIS or ISIL has set up what it calls a Worldwide Caliphate (world state) which it claims has religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has controlled a large section in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people.  In addition to warfare they have conducted televised mass beheadings of prisoners and civilians, which have included two American newsmen.

 

In the constant six years of civil war over 4 ½ million people in Syria have been displaced.  This has led to a constant stream of refugees leaving or trying to leave the country.  The mass of refugees have caused strains in other Middle East countries, in Europe, and even in the United States, where   President Donald Trump has unsuccessfully attempted to keep, among others, all Syrian refugees from entering the country, calling them potential terrorists.

 

While earlier the United States under President Barack Obama wanted Assad gone they had largely participated in arming the Kurds, a group situated in a region in both Iraq and Syria, whose agenda is mainly to set up their own Kurd state.  The U.S. is mainly bombing ISIS in both countries while the Kurds are fighting them on the ground.  Largely but not completely the United States had, has avoided specifically supporting anyone in the Syrian Civil War.  But they are continuing to fight ISIS, mainly from the air.

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In 2013, after a chemical poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Russia had supposedly removed all poison gas chemicals from Syria after it they were initially used by them.  President Obama, at that time had drawn a red line, the United States would not allow the use of chemical warfare.  Presumably he was stopped from taking any actions by the Republican Congress.  But Assad did agree to give up all his chemical weapons, which were removed by Russia and presumably destroyed.  But it would seem that Assad held back some of the poison gas and this was used in the early April 2017 bombing in the rebel held area of Khan Sheikhoun.

 

The raiders dropped barrel bombs, which in this case were canisters of sarin poison gas. In addition to be breathed in the gas can enter the body through the pores in the skin.  There were some very dramatic television pictures of people trying to wash the poison off the bodies and clothing of young children by hosing them with water.  There were also pictures of children and adults undergoing great torment painfully trying to breathe.  This apparently is what caused Trump’s reaction.

 

Assad claims that he is not responsible, that he gave up his supply of poison gas in 2013.  Putin and Russia support his claim.  The United States and President Trump blame the Assad regime.  Not too long ago Chlorine gas was used against one of the rebelling groups in Syria by Assad.  Apparently chlorine, which is used to etch glass, in not a poison gas!  The situation in Syria is complicated, particularly with issuing blame.

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My last point concerns President Donald J. Trump.  How sincere is he?  He has stated that he doesn’t like to read, that he gets his information by watching television.  His reaction to the chemical poison gas attack in Syria has been shock, watching young children suffering from poison gas.  His reaction to the sight was to punish the perpetrators of the bombing.

 

There was no investigation of who had dropped the gas bombs.  It was broadly assumed that only al-Assad was capable of doing it.  Assad, backed by Russia, claimed that he did not order it or even that he had any poison gas.  He claimed that his government had turned over their supply of poison gas to Russia in 2013, who had destroyed the supply.

 

Would Assad order the dropping of the poison gas?  I suspect the answer is, yes, if he had a reason to do so.

 

Trump seems to change his attitudes as quickly as a chameleon changes its color.  He has claimed that he wasn’t interested in what was happening overseas, that his basic policy is America first.  Yet, after watching some television newsreel about children suffering and dying from being gassed in Syria he ordered the bombing of the Syrian airfield where the planes are supposed to have come from.  He was emotionally moved and reacted to the sight of the atrocity.

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It should also be noted that President Trump likes to change the topic at times that the media is using when it is negative.  This is particularly true in terms of him and his staff being associated with Russia during the Presidential Campaign and earlier.

 

In doing this he’s come up with real nonsense, such as President Obama illegally bugging his facilities during the Presidential campaign.  There is no proof of this and it has been emphatically disclaimed by all the government agencies like the FBI, but still Trump persists in this bit of alternate reality.  I get the impression that Trump’s version of a fact is whether, if he were in the other President’s position then it is something he would do.  Apparently, to him, everyone else has the same low code of honor Trump has!

 

One of Trump’s former aids is registering retrogressively as a foreign agent.  Another was fired after lying to the Vice President.  Numerous others have associations with foreign countries.  Trump has stated in different speeches that he both personally knows and that he has never met Vladimir Putin, the Russian premier.

 

It has been suggested that the American bombing of the Syrian air force base was arranged by Trump with Putin’s support and that Assad’s government knew about it in advance.  From what I understand only six Syrians died from the exploding 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles, that is 59 separate tomahawk missiles each costing one million dollars.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  Could it be true?  There were no Russians anywhere in or near the airbase.

 

Will Trump do it again?  President Putin has stated that there will be serious consequences if he does.

 

Looking at what’s happening in Syria from President Trump’s prospective, it’s alright to kill people and children as long as poison gas is not used.  There seems to be something wrong with that attitude.

 

If this is the only effort made against Assad and his government then what was the real point of the 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles dropped on the Syrian air base?  Or was this a message being sent to North Korea, telling them to back down on their atomic bombs and missile development tests?

 

Somehow a lot of what has happen here makes no sense unless it is an outpouring of Trump’s ever-changing emotional states.

The Weiner Component #175 – Part 2: Notes on Donald Trump

Currently there is little going on between the Trump Group

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the CIA and other intelligence services.  For one thing Trump is refusing to attend daily Intelligence Briefings more than once a week.  He claims he is smart enough to know what is going on in the world and that the meetings are redundant.  He is having his Vice-President, Mike Pence, attend daily. 

 

On the other hand there is heavy dissent over the issue of Russia having influenced or tried to influence the Presidential Election by hacking and releasing through WiliLeaks thousands of Clinton and others Democratic emails.  There is even a possibility of Russia having hacked into actual voting in the rural areas of the smaller states.  These assertions have come from both Democrats and Republicans, marking the first time he had been officially called out by his own party.  In fact Senator John McCain, the chair of the Armed Services Committee called for an investigation of Russian interference in the election.

 

The Trump people are mockingly pointing out that the CIA supported the concept of weapons of mass destruction during the first Bush Jr. administration, which incidentally they did not do.  They were surprised by this Bush assertion and stated then that it wasn’t true, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Bush and Cheney had found a pseudo expert who propounded this theory.  Bush Jr. wanted the invasion because the ruler of Iraq had attempted to assassinate his “Daddy.”

 

Currently leaders in Congress are attempting to form a bipartisan group to investigate this situation.  Trump is insisting that this finding by the Intelligence Community is nonsense for two reasons: (1) He didn’t need any help in winning the election, and (2) He has specific plans for dealing with Putin and Russia under his administration and the move by Congress could force him to alter them.

 

Trump’s rationale seems to be that the Intelligence Community has “no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else.  He called their report “Ridiculous.”  Of course he knows this without looking at the CIA’s evidence.  Remember, he does not attend Intelligence Briefings.

 

In the first postelection pushback that Trump has encountered from the Republican Party that belatedly and reluctantly embraced the unconventional candidate whose views often clash with traditional GOP ideology, the majority and minority heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated: “Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to defer and defend against further cyberattacks.”

 

During the final weeks of the campaign thousands of emails, many stolen from the Clinton campaign were released to WiliLeaks on an almost daily basis.  On Friday December 9th President Barack Obama ordered the CIA and other intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of foreign based digital attacks aimed at influencing the election. 

 

On Friday December 16th in his final Press Conference President Obama stated that he had seen the evidence that the hacking had been done by Russia in order to influence the American election in favor of Trump.   He also stated that this would never have happened unless Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the action.  President Obama further stated that the United States would take action, some visible and some publically invisible against Russia.

 

President Obama has a fraction over one month to take action or actions against Russia.  On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States for the next four years and he has a positive view of Vladimir Putin. 

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Trump was elected by numerous individuals, many of whom probably voted for the first time because of Trump’s promises.  In fact choosing him as the Republican candidate was a populist revolt over Congress’ inaction over the last six years.  The group or groups in the individual states that caused him to win the election were both high school graduates and non-graduates who couldn’t stand the Democratic Party but had gotten nothing from the Republican Party in return for their votes in the past.  Trump, the so-called billionaire, became the representative of this group throughout the United States.  At the Republican Convention he promised to be their voice, to represent them and to bring back the past.  That is, to bring back the jobs which have gone overseas or had technologically disappeared during the last forty or fifty years, which their group supposedly had in those earlier decades when life was simpler and, presumably, these people prospered or at least were able to earn a decent living.

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Trump made all sorts of promises during the campaign.  Now we begin to see, in a vague manner, where Trump is going politically by his Cabinet choices.  He seems to favor generals, billionaires, and Wall Street.  This is a strange group to satisfy the needs of the “forgotten man” or woman.  He has chosen one of the most consistently conservative policy teams in the total history of the nation.  In fact, most of these people chosen seem to hold opposite views in terms of the offices to which they are being appointed.

 

Trump vigorously campaigned against Wall Street and big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sacks partner who is a billionaire, Steven Mnuchin, to run the Treasury Department.  Mnuchin is the co-chief executive of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  He has served as chairman of the One West Bank after he led a group to purchase it.  The bank has been criticized for a large number of foreclosures and for discrimination against minorities.  It has also financed several high-profile films.  Prior to that Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sacks.  According to the Progressive Orange Campaign Committee Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on working family homes.  This is the man Trump has chosen to oversee the financial structure of the United States.

 

A former lobbyist for the Koch brothers, who led a group that argued that solar energy would dramatically raise the cost of electricity is Trump choice to take over the Energy Department.  Thomas Pyle is the man.  For years Pyle has led a national assault on renewable power.  Pyle has tweeted that he expects the new administration would go beyond a mere rollback of President Obama’s climate change actions.  This is the man that Trump would have run the Energy Department.

 

In Health and Human Services, Social Security and Medicare, which Trump promised to save he has chosen Representative Tom Price, who has advocated major revisions in both, to run those services.  Price is a six term Georgia Congressman who has led the charge to privatize Medicare.  Trump did not mention Price’s plans for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid.  Price wants to privatize Medicare and give participants in the program medical vouchers.  He wants to save the government money by actually gradually making the beneficiary more and more responsible for paying for his own medical care.  In terms of Medicaid give grants of money to the states.  In this fashion the Federal Government can gradually decrease what it pays for these social programs.  These programs mostly serve poor Americans.  These changes would slowly decrease their benefits.  He probably would also privatize Social Security. 

  

 His choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE that owns Hardees and Carl Jr., who will control the working people and has spoken of the advantages of using automation instead of people at Carl Jr.  He named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man that has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Presumably his choice for Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the Exxon Mobile Corporation.  Tillerson has had dealings with Vladimir Putin and Russia.  In fact in 2013 Putin gave him the highest civilian medal that could be awarded to an individual, the Russian Order of Friendship.  It has also recently been released that Tillerson is a Director for a Russian-American oil company based in the Bahamas.

 

For Attorney General Donald Trump has chosen Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true Southerner with strong Southern values who claims he is not a racist.  Republican Representative Mick Mulvancy, a Tea Party deficit hawk is Trump’s choice as his budget director.  He is cofounder of the hard right House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for pushing deep spending cuts in order to balance the budget.

 

For Transportation Secretary, Trump choose Elaine Chao.  She served eight years as George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary and is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate.  Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was named as National Security Adviser.  Flynn was fired by the Obama administration for erratic behavior and has used anti-Muslim language that even the most strident Republicans have avoided.  He has used the words “radical Islamic terrorism in a way that blurs the lines between a war on terrorism and a war on Islam.  Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was chosen to become Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

Trump is still looking for people to appoint to other departments and there are others he has already appointed.  The point has been made that most of Trump’s appointments are people who are opposed to the departments they are heading.  Their function, apparently, will be to do a hatchet job on their departments, destroying any progress that has been made toward a cleaner, nonpolluting environment.  The country has chosen a rather depressing four years.

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In order to save jobs in Indiana Trump got the air conditioning company, Carrier Corporation to not move 2,000 jobs to Mexico.  Instead for a state tax rebate of seven million dollars voted by a committee headed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, Carrier, the highly financially successful company, is only moving twelve hundred jobs to Mexico.  Trump saved eight hundred jobs.  It only cost Indiana seven million dollars in lost taxes. 

 

What emerges here is essentially a negative pattern in which President Donald Trump by placing people who basic philosophy is counter to the departments in government to which they are appointed can in a relatively short time wipe out the achievements of their departments and bring the country back to where it was prior to 2008 when the Housing Debacle occurred.  They can relatively quickly get rid of all or most government restrictions on industrial and banking development.  Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party group, applaud these choices by Trump.  A small percentage of the Republicans do not appreciate them. 

 

There are currently 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic ones in the Senate.  Most of Trump’s appointments require “advice and consent” by the Senate.  I can think of no way in which all the Republican Senators will give Trump a blanket vote.  Trump may find it impossible to get many of his choices for Cabinet department heads through.  The Democrats will give negative blanket votes against almost all of them.  It will only take 3 Republican votes to get a person rejected.  The hearings should be interesting and dramatic.

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What we see here seems to be a pattern of what the two major political parties stand for and where they currently are in terms of historical time. 

 

The Republicans seem to be in the late 18th Century, when this country was started, and in the 19th Century when life and work was simpler.  Their basic premise seems to be that the function of government is to take care of wars and provide a safe environment where business can take place.  The people of the nation are responsible for themselves.  This type of government did function during the early period of our history, when men could pack up their families and go west.

 

The Democratic Party, which was begun by Thomas Jefferson, initially was the party of the yeoman farmer, it served the little man as he and his family made their way through life.  This changed in the 20th Century when life became mostly urban and monopoly arrived, virtually totally exploiting the common man.  A young lawyer, Louis Brandeis, introduced sociological evidence, the living conditions of workers, in his trials for the first time and essentially changed the concept of what was considered evidence.  For this he was rewarded or punished by being placed upon the Supreme Court.

 

Brandeis was followed by the Great Depression of 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt who redefined the functions of the Democratic Party as the Party of the common man.  Its functions, in addition to the normal ones of a National Government, became those of assuming responsibility for the functions of society that individuals could not handle for themselves, making the nation safe and positively functional for everyone.

 

With the election of Trump we seem to be at the beginning of a return to the past.  Of course, with doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which the Republicans have tried to do multiple times under President Obama and claimed should be done, we could, at some point in 2017, see well over 20 million people lose their medical coverage.  In addition the entire medical insurance industry could be totally disrupted as the insurance companies base their premium rates upon their knowledge of their clientele.  A disruption of this sort could cost the Republicans both Houses of Congress in 2018.  And it’s interesting to note that toward the end of 2016, after Trump became President-Elect, there has been a massive surge of sign-ups for Obamacare.  It is in the millions.

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Donald Trump has promised, among other things, not to change Obamacare other than to make it better.  The Republicans in Congress have promised to do away with it for the last six years.  Over 20 million people who had no medical insurance prior to Obamacare are now insured.  The Republicans have promised to replace it with something better but in six years they have come up with nothing better.  What are they going to do?  Twenty million or more people suddenly losing their health insurance will, no doubt, make their feeling known in the next Congressional Election in 2018.

 

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently was questioned by the press about Obamacare.  He equivocated, saying that nothing has been decided yet.  The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress for nearly two years and nothing has been decided.  Apparently the Republicans do a good job of objecting but a lousy job of legislating.  It would seem that the different shades of conservatism are incapable of coming to agreement on most things among themselves or, to put it more simply, compromising even among themselves.

                  

In terms of Trump and the majority of Congress, both claim to be Republican, but do they really agree on all or even most traditional conservative policies?  Keep in mind that the conservatives in Congress have problems functioning as a single unit, then add the President-Elect, who has his own version of conservatism and would come to different conclusions on many issues, and try to visualize what will probably happen.

 

The issue is Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  There are also innumerable other issues.  One gets the feeling that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, doesn’t quite trust Donald Trump.  The two smile a lot together but don’t really trust one another.

 

First: Ryan was the only Republican in the House of Representatives that all the Republicans in the House could accept as their conditional leader after John Boehner was forced to resign as Speaker.  Second: Ryan is using the same techniques against Trump that he used against President Obama.  The Finance Bill, which funds the Federal Government, traditionally was passed for the entire fiscal year.  Ryan changed that.  It is now passed on a four month basis.

 

According to the Constitution all money bills have to originate in the House.  The Bill then goes to the Senate.  They can pass it exactly as it is or they can change it.  If they change it the Bill then goes to a Conference Committee, made up of Representatives from both Houses of Congress.  Both Houses vote on the new Bill; and when passed, it goes to the President for his signature.

 

Paul Ryan changed that pattern.  The House would pass the money Bill just before the House adjourned for some sort of break.  The Bill sent to the Senate had to be passed just as it was.  There was no time for the Conference Committee to meet.  Attached to the money Bill were riders the President would not ordinarily approve.  The choice was to pass the Bill or allow the government to run out of money.

 

The last money Bill that Congress passed was in the middle of December of 2016.  The next money Bill will have to be passed in the middle of April of 2017.  Ryan has left himself with leverage that can be used against President Trump if it is necessary.

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Trump’s Presidency should be loud and vociferous.  Trump will be highly frustrated every time he doesn’t get his way.  The frustration will begin with many of the appointments he has made.  Only a percentage of his appointments will be approved.  He should be denouncing congressmen loudly, accusing them of all sorts of things.  In addition he will want to perform assorted actions that Congress does not approve of and he will be reacting to that.  At some point the House may even vote a Bill of Impeachment against him for conflicts of interest or for some other reason.  The next four years will be colorful and probably, at times, very emotional.

 

The Weiner Component #93 – The U.S. & the World

English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets wit...

President Barak Obama has had absolutely no support for anything he does or tries to do by the Republicans in Congress who constitute the filibustering minority party in the Senate and the majority party in the House of Representatives. Their fervent goal has been and is to denounce any action he takes or tries to take.

House Speaker John Boehner has been recently making statements that it is not Congresses job to make policy decisions. But Speaker Boehner is presumably suing the President for taking actions without the consent of Congress.

The country is currently facing a number of international emergencies that defy simple solutions. In fact, each seems to be a no win situation. In the Middle East

Members of both major political parties in Congress have argued for immediate action without specifically stating what the action should be. A number of Democrats want the president to be more resolute while members of the Republican Party seem to want immediate action, the sending of troops to Iraq and Syria. Others want action without suggesting what that action should be. In the Ukraine there seems to be a war going on between the Separatists and Russia. Congress has not passed any resolution supporting any position. And no one in Congress seems to be ready to vote for any kind of war, or for that matter, any kind of action. At least this was their position before they went on vacation for the month of August. They will return to work on the second week of August.

In Syria and Iraq ISIS or ISIL has set up a separate Islamic State in areas they have been able to conquer and control. Here they are freely beheading and otherwise freely killing people. They have attempted genocide of a group within Iraq, forcing these people without food or water, to flee up an arid mountain. They have beheaded an American reporter because the U.S. has refused to pay a ransom of several million dollars and because they objected to the U.S. rescuing the group on the mountain and because of other military participation against them in Iraq. ISIS has also beheaded another kidnaped reporter, presumably because the U.S. did not stop its air strikes against them in Iraq. The effect of this has been the reverse of what they want.

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ISIS or ISIL is reminiscent of the old Nazi Party in Germany. They have essentially been able to organize an army of people who psychologically are losers, not able to successfully function in a normal society. As members of the group they are now the strong, the successful, the leaders, and they have absolute power within the areas they dominate. They can arbitrarily put anyone to death. They are now the feared winners within the regions they rule. Recently, I understand, they have also been providing social services for many of the poor within their state. They follow an old primitive form of the Sunni Islamic faith.

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The U.S. invaded Iraq, under the Bush Administration, in the year 2003 after the al-Qaida suicide attack and destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City and after the invasion of the al Qaida stronghold in Afghanistan. Its stated goal was to search out and remove weapons of mass destruction such as atomic bombs making material and poison gas. Its real purpose, which it failed to achieve, was to gain control of Iraqi Oil.

The United States completed its withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011, during its ninth year there after helping to set up an elected government. The agreement to leave had been drawn up by the Bush Administration after the Iraqi Government refused to continue a policy toward Americans of immunity from Iraqi law. Actually both the Americans and the Iraqis wanted the U.S. forces out of the country.

Unfortunately Iraq ended with a Shia prime minister, Maliki, and a Shia dominated government which gradually discriminated against the Sunni minority within the country, arresting their leaders and other in the group. The result being that a percentage of the population did not and does not trust the government. ISIS, as we’ve seen, is a Sunni terrorist group that has cut out for itself a state that consists partly of Syrian and partly of Iraqi territory. It has voiced claims to other parts of the Middle East.

The population of Iraq tends to be mixed and confused at this point; the government is largely ineffective. If the United States were to become involved in a full military capacity now it would be in Iraq not only fighting ISIS but also supporting the Shia government against the Sunnis living in the country.

President Obama has called for and continues to call for a democratic reorganization of the Iraqi Government, with both sides fairly represented, before the U.S. takes any large scale decisive action. Under these circumstances he apparently feels Iraq will be able to mount an effective military force against the Sunni terrorist group, ISIS.

Currently the U.S. is effectively supporting the Kurds, another ethnic group within Iraq, with air support.

On Monday, September 1, 2014, President Obama formally notified the U.S. Congress that he had authorized air strikes and humanitarian airdrops over the Iraqi city of Amerli, the preceding weekend where ISIS militants had trapped the civilian population.

Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militias and Kurds on Sunday broke the two month siege of Amerli and entered the city after U.S. military carried out air strikes on the attacking forces.

In this case, with American help, the Kurds, a non-Islamic ethnic group, were able to save their city and defeat ISIS. Will the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis be able this time to form a democratic government which is fair to all groups living in Iraq; and will this allow them to form an effective military that can successfully fight ISIS? And how long will this take? Can the United States be marginally involved until this occurs? An interesting question.

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What should the U.S. do in terms of Syria which has been involved in a civil war for the last few years? There is the original absolutistic government led by Assad who is fighting over a dozen different revolutionary groups of which ISIS is the most extreme and probably the most successful since it now rules a section of the country. By attacking ISIS there we strengthen Assad’s government, which is in the middle of a civil war, and weaken the Arab Spring in their attempt to reform Syria.

We are, in a manner of speaking, caught on the horns of a dilemma. Any move we make in Syria is a no-win move. We do have drones, pilotless planes, flying over Syria and presumably mapping out everything. This is even though Assad has officially stated that he will allow no planes to occupy Syria’s air space unless that government were cooperating with the Syrian government. What should President Obama do in Syria? Should we aid the more moderate groups with shipments of arms? Eventually we may have to bomb ISIS bases there.

President Barak Obama’s strategy seems to be to gather as many allies as he can, form cooperating coalitions, both in the Middle East and Europe, who are opposed to ISIS as a terrorist state that is both anti-Arab and anti-Occidental. He seems to want to build a coalition that is anti-terrorist. He has also stated in a letter to Congressional leaders on September 1, 2014, of his decision under the War Powers Act that he chooses to broaden the U.S. military role in Iraq. He will deliberate carefully before making final decisions on whether to expand U.S. air strikes into Syria. He has avoided military intervention to date during the three years of civil war.

There is also the situation in the Ukraine with Russia. Under Putin’s leadership Russia is trying to forcibly take over Ukraine. This presents another problem. How does the United States and its European allies (NATO) stop them short of war? The Russian premier, Vladimir Putin, has threatened atomic war. This is something that was never done during the Cold War. During the Cuban Missile Crisis the two countries were on the point of war but both backed off. Chairman Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba and the U.S. secretly agreed to remove our missiles from Turkey six months later. If Khrushchev had not backed down then President Kennedy was ready to openly remove the missiles in Turkey in exchange for the missiles in Cuba. Neither man would consider an atomic war.

As a footnote: Joseph Stalin’s daughter married an American and settled in the United States. Khrushchev’s granddaughter currently teaches at a university in the United States

If Congress wanted to defuse the situation between the two countries it would end its vacation prematurely, return to Washington, D.C., and authorize the President to take whatever action(s) necessary in dealing with Russia, including war. This would give Putin second thoughts and he would be forced to act as an adult in the situation. It would also give President Obama a full range of possible actions in dealing with Russia. It would mean the U.S. is standing together, which it is not doing, with the Republicans jockeying for political advantage against the President and the Democrats.

During the last week of August 2014 President Obama stated that his administration did not yet have a strategy to combat ISIS, at least in the areas it controls in Syria. By the end of the following week in Wales at the summing up of the results of the NATO meeting between its 27 members the President had a fully worked out strategy. Obama spent the week at the Conference building coalitions against the radical Islamic group and also spelling out a response to Putin’s war threat. He specifically stated publically more than once that an attack upon any NATO member would be treated as an attack against all of them. It seems that even though Ukraine does not belong to the group they will be allowed to join.

Toward ISIS the United States and its allies aim to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group. The process will include NATO and the majority of Islamic states including those that are Sunni. ISIS, he believes, is a threat to all the nations.

Even though the Ukraine and Russia are not technically at war on Saturday, September 6, they agreed to a cease fire agreement and an exchange of prisoners. On Sunday, September 7, the truce is holding in Ukraine with a few violations on both side. Will it break down or end up in some sort of peace settlement?

Congress returns on Monday, September 8, the second week of September from its monthly vacation. What will be their response to President Obama’s requests under the War Powers Act and will they support or ignore the President’s actions. It should be interesting to see what happens. Particularly with an interim election coming up early in November.

Official photographic portrait of US President...