Cold War Redux

Let’s assume for the moment that President Trump is correct in his assertion that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign. Indeed, to this point, there is nothing but conjecture and innuendo to show any such collusion.

PutinLet’s accept that premise.

Let us also agree that there is compelling evidence that the Russians intentionally interfered with the 2016 election seeking to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected President. I think this is a legitimate contention. Not certain, but less speculative than most other scenarios.

Which leads us to the question, why did the Russians go to such extreme lengths to interfere in the election and derail Hillary Clinton’s candidacy?

Let’s consider the question.

While there would have been minor differences in Clinton’s domestic policies compared to President Obama’s, her foreign policies would likely have been much different. She might have sought to alter or solidify the Iranian nuclear agreement, take a harder stance on North Korea, or (here’s the key) enforced the sanctions against Russia as voted on by Congress. (https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/29/politics/russia-sanctions-announced-by-white-house/index.html)

As it has turned out, the Trump administration did exactly that, deciding not to impose sanctions. (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/29/russia-sanctions-white-house-congress-376813)

President Trump also makes another viable contention. The Russian interference began as early as 2014, long before he announced his candidacy when it was clear that Hillary Clinton was favored (as it turned out, the fix was in) to win the Democratic nomination and, at that point, the Presidency.

If these reasonable and defensible points are factual, then the Russians feared a Clinton presidency more than any other candidate back in 2014. One could conclude they saw Mr. Trump’s later entry into the process in the same light. Better for Russian interests.

If this is the case, one can also suggest one of two probable corollaries. Mr. Trump’s campaign actively worked with the Russians to secure their own purpose or were duped by the Russians.

Either one is troubling.

Divining Russian motives is not an exact science, but once again we can rely on ole’ Occam’s razor for guidance. Look for the simplest explanation.

Любой, кроме Хиллари (Anyone but Hillary)

Conspiracies: Imagined or otherwise

One of the frustrating characteristics of debating with supporters of Mr. Trump is their proclivity to interject accusations or criticisms of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or other Democratic figures. I have often asked the question if, assuming all these various charges are true, how does that mitigate or negate the criticisms leveled against the President?

The most common answer is that I am deflecting the discussion. A reasonable interpretation of this response is that they are guilty of their accusation. No one answers the question. I can only assume that his supporters believe pointing out some perceived grievous behavior in the past serves to inoculate Mr. Trump from any criticism.

Nonsense. Someone getting away with robbing a bank does not automatically grant absolution for another caught in the act.

This got me thinking about the most absurd accusation promoted by the right. President Obama, fresh off his fooling the entire country with his birth certificate scam, convinced the FBI, CIA, NSA, DOJ in their entirety to target the Trump campaign and help Hillary win.

gIBSOThis must be the worst conspiracy in the history of conspiracies.

The other conspiracy propagated by the right is Mr. Mueller orchestrating his investigation for the sole purpose of dethroning Mr. Trump. Once again, it boggles the mind.

On September 8, 2001, the FBI was considered the premier criminal investigative agency in the world. It’s reputation outstanding, not perfect, and universally admired. With the advent of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI transformed itself, almost overnight, into the premier terrorist hunting agency on the globe. They added enormous intelligence-gathering tools to the US arsenal, targeted and captured the chief conspirators of the 9/11 attack, killing Bin Laden with the cooperation of US Special Forces as the point of the spear.

Robert Mueller guided the transformation of the FBI.  Talk to anyone at the FBI. They will tell you this is a fact. Mueller is as honest, capable, and incorruptible as they come. If he can’t be trusted, no one can.

The other laughable conspiracy theory is the Clinton Murder Machine. Some rightwing nuts would have you believe the Clintons have methodically, surreptitiously, and, so far, successfully eliminated those who would offer evidence against them by having them killed.

Not even the best written Stephen King novel could pull this off convincingly.

If you looked at the history of President Clinton and the FBI, Clinton held Louie Freeh, his FBI director, in contempt. They did not care for each other. Since a Republican followed Clinton in the Whitehouse, if such an allegation of organized homicide to silence critics were true the FBI would have jumped at that chance.

These conspiracy theories are nothing but childish games dredged up from some immature and uninformed minds.

The real problem isn’t just Trump, or the Republicans, or the Democrats.  It is a combination of them all.

Democrats and Republicans all seek power, the path to power is the key here. The difference is the path they choose. One caters to a pro-business, isolationist America the other caters to an open border welcome all and keep them dependent.

The pendulum of politics swings back and forth from conservative to liberal. The voters are supposed to limit the swing of the pendulum, to keep it from the extremes. But our world of instant unfiltered, unverified, unsubstantiated continuously breaking news has altered reality. Made-up headlines and slanted reporting replace in-depth analysis and thoughtful discussion. 255 character Tweets, complete with spelling and grammatical errors, are considered Pulitzer prize level writing.

Both sides are guilty.

The genius of the founding fathers was a government that to function it must cooperate. No one policy dominates, but the blending of the best each offers. The beauty of our system emulates a time-tested recipe. Taken alone some ingredients may be bitter, or spicy, or overly sweet, but in combination with just the right blend, they create a masterpiece.

Both parties have chosen to ignore the recipe for success in their selfish pursuit of power. Until we insist, by way of the voting booth, to a return to a government of compromise and cooperation nothing will change.

A forceful debate is a powerful tool for creating ideas. However, it is only useful if both sides listen. Maybe the first qualification for a candidate should be a hearing test.

The next big hurdle to take back control of government is term limits. There are people in Congress who have been there before the invention of cell phones and personal computers.  Think about that for a minute.

P.S. As always, dissenting points of view are welcome.  I’d be happy to post your thoughts on this or any topic of interest. If you would like to submit a piece feel free to contact me.  No topic is off-limits.
joe.broadmeadow@hotmail.com

J’accuse…!

The prevalence and curse of sexual abuse within society is a well-established fact. The drive of sexuality with all its iterations; procreation, pleasure, dominance, and power, is an element of human behavior held in check by morality, rationality, and societal norms.

Throughout history, rape has been a most potent weapon of terror. There can be no compromise on the insidious nature of such barbaric actions. Evolution and sexual dimorphism placed the overwhelming burden of the victim on the female, although rape occurs across the sexual spectrum. Regardless the victim, our goal as a civilized race should be to eradicate such barbarism.

Today, we face a similar, more insidious challenge. What was once an openly ignored element of the interaction between a person in a position of power and a person dependent on that power, the abuse of position through the use of sexual advances, is rightfully being exposed.

However, there is a risk here. It is also human nature to see evil in the actions of those with whom we disagree and seek explanations or mitigation of similar actions by those with whom we agree.

The danger is complex.

We accept an accusation as a fact, or we ignore such allegations as it fits our view. This phenomenon is readily evident in the reaction to the latest series of complaints.

I dare say there are things I’ve done in the past that would not bear me proud.  I would hold we all have similar moments in our history. If our behavior changed, it demonstrates the maturing process. If the practice continued, there would be more than just J’accuse.

This is not to excuse such behavior. Our goal should be to make it easier to report such actions when they happen and to address such behavior at the onset. Education from the earliest age is key. These accusations serve a great purpose, raise awareness of the problem. It’s what we do with these accusations alone that concerns me.

Actions have consequences, but they should also have a shelf-life. Even in criminal acts, there is a statute of limitations designed to ensure a fair trial. Memories are volatile and unreliable.

Before we impose sanctions as a society on an individual there must be something more than an accusation.

witchAs a matter of conscience, one can decide if an accusation is enough to change your opinion, your view of an individual, or your vote.  But as a matter of practice, society imposing its will on someone based solely on accusations risks reawakening the practice of burning witches.

Supermoon: Portal to the Past

There is a newly discovered phenomenon caused by the soon to be visible Super Moon. A window to the past  has opened in the fabric of the universe. This allowed NASA scientists to speak to the Founding Fathers at the original Constitutional Convention.

When asked what they thought of the current condition of The United States of America, these are the exact words from these great men.

“Are you f#%^*ing kidding me?”  The words were difficult to hear over the sobbing and self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Whether it was a celebration of the Second Amendment or despair was unclear.

The portal was forced closed by Jefferson and Franklin then sealed on that end. They left a message for us to take their name off the country.

A Lifetime of Presidents

The list of presidents I have survived.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George Bush, Barrack Obama.

The first presidential election I was eligible to vote in, 1976, pitted Gerald Ford against Jimmy Carter. I picked the winner. Since track records are so important in selecting a candidate, I thought I’d share mine. You’ll see I often cross party lines in support of the candidate I believe most qualified.

In hindsight, I may not have always made the best choice but I am on a winning streak and you cannot argue with success.

1980 Reagan V. Carter (Picked the winner)

1984 Reagan V. Mondale (Picked the winner)

1988 Bush V. Dukakis (Picked the winner)

1992 Clinton V. Bush V. Perot (Picked the winner)

1996 Clinton V. Dole V. Perot (Picked the winner)

2000 Bush V. Gore (Missed this one courtesy of the United States Supreme Court)

2004 Bush V. Kerry (Missed this one)

2008 Obama V. McCain (Picked the winner)

2012 Obama V. Romney (Picked the winner)

2016 Clinton V. Trump (I will pick the lesser of two evils.)

I bet my winning percentage continues. I consider my record to be 8-1-1.  8 wins, 1 loss, and 1 forfeit.

As of today, I am 80% successful in for voting for the winner. After Tuesday, I expect that to climb to 82% and my record to go to 9-1-1. Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for. A 911 for America, rescue us from the abyss.

Father Bob’s Fatwah: Inteference in the Political Process

The Rev. Robert L. Marciano, from the pulpit of his church, has chosen to interject himself and the power of the church into the presidential campaign. Many of the Catholic faithful applaud this. His dire warning that one’s “immortal soul” is in peril if one chooses to vote for Hillary Clinton received resounding support among the parishioners.

Aside from the fact that the good father offers no proof of such claim other than his faith, he has put himself and his church at risk of breaking the law.

The Catholic Church, as with most recognized religious sects, is a tax-exempt organization. As such they are restricted from certain types of political lobbying or candidate support in which they may engage.

The law is clear.

To remain tax-exempt under 501(c)(3), churches must abide by strict guidelines that prohibit election activity

  • Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
  • Cannot make any communication—either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin—which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
  • Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
  • Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
  • Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
  • Cannot display political campaign signs on church property

The test for such compliance is clear as well

  • “Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office;
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval for one or more candidates’ positions and/or actions;
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election;
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed in the communication has been raised as an issue distinguishing candidates for a given office;

I would say the good father may have violated several, if not all, of these parameters. The church, like other groups, has engaged in behind the scenes manipulation of elections for years. It was one of the reasons for including the separation clause. To mitigate the power of religion over the faithful and its effect on secular matters.

Now, the good father may answer that he follows the teachings of a man who also broke the law. That is true. But, if one accepts the teachings of this man, he also accepted the consequences of his actions.

If you cannot the see the danger of such religious interference in the selection of political candidates you are blindly tossing yourself off a cliff.

I wonder how those who support these actions would react if an Imam issued a Fatwah against Mrs. Clinton? I bet the reaction of the Catholic faithful would be a bit different.

The Right Choice: A Vote for Trump

I have decided to vote for Donald Trump. This was not an easy decision. There are any number of reasons not to vote for him. But, in the interest of America being great again, the choice is clear.trump

He embodies everything that is good about this country through his take no prisoners approach to honoring contracts. Think of the money he’ll save us.

He knows how to avoid taxes, within the law. I’d like to learn how.

He is not troubled by any sense of fairness of these laws. A conscience is an unnecessary burden. It is a handicap for a man with his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Speaking of nuclear weapons, he’ll reduce the nuclear launch window to three minutes. Our enemies will never expect the missiles to arrive so quickly.

He knows how to create a successful image as evidenced by the very mention of his name. I mean, come on, is there anything better than the Trump name?

He is a world class negotiator who will put the rest of the world to shame with his skills. Russia, China, and Luxembourg do not stand a chance.

He is a brilliant educator. Imagine an American educational system based on the Trump University model. That shuld be reesin enuff ta vote en makes we grate agin.

He is not a nasty woman.

Most women in the world have not filed any complaints about him. This may be a limitation of time or opportunity, but it is still true. The number of women complaining about him is statistically insignificant.

He’s fooled Vladimir Putin into investing in his success. He could have ended the cold war before it started.

He needs to open his eyes only about 15% to 20% to see the problems with Hillary. Squinting is efficient, he uses less light.

He can Tweet with the best of them. It’s time we had some 2:00 a.m. tweet wars with the terrorists.

He’ll get rid of the Mexicans, Muslims, Canadians, and unattractive women. Although the Canadians have voluntarily stayed away, the Mexicans are going home to the better-paying jobs (or still coming here, I’m confused on that point), and the Muslims are, at the moment, scarce.

The military will be stronger and better equipped due to his four years of military education and marching skills. Nothing like a good parade to strike terror into the heart of ISIS.

His opponent is a nasty woman. (See above)

His opponent uses preparation in seeking an unfair advantage in debates. He wings it. He is jazz to her classical. You want swinging ignorance or boring competence in the White House?

His opponent has spent years in government. How hard can it be to do better with no experience?

He will eliminate the Affordable Care Act and redirect the money to more important health issues, breast enhancements. Now there are some warheads that will make America great.

President Kennedy set a goal of putting Americans on the moon by the end of a decade. Imagine what the end of this decade will look like after a Trump Presidency.

So, I’m voting for Trump. He will remake America in the image of Garrison Keilor’s Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong (and 10s), all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

I took a hard look at things and have seen the light of his brilliance. I don’t need to know how he will make us great, or when he will make us great, I am satisfied with his promise TO make us great.

The voices in my head are right and I’ve decided to listen.

P.S. The original title of this piece was Descent into Madness. The voices said no.

Words to Inspire: Lost in the Past

At his inaugural address, John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”

I remember that. Those words inspired me and a generation.

It would seem, since then, those that would inspire us are gone.

LBJ took American service personnel to Vietnam. 56000 never came back. The only words I remember from him are, “I shall not seek…”

In other words, he quit.

Richard Nixon took his place. His most memorable words, “I am not a crook.”

Gerald Ford had a brief run. I cannot remember his words of any note. Perhaps, “Fore…Oops.”

Jimmy Carter followed. Sadly, I cannot think of any words by him worth remembering.

Ronald Reagan came next. The words I recall are, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Not the most inspirational of words.

George Bush the First came next…. drawing a blank on that one.

Then came William Jefferson Clinton. “I did not have sex with that woman.” 

The most memorable words from this President are so disheartening. He sounded like a drunken husband, lipstick on his collar and cheap perfume on his clothes, making excuses to his wife.

George the second came next. It’s hard to find a cohesive written thought by him, let alone words that inspire a nation. Oh wait, “Mission accomplished…” 

Wrong. (to quote another would-be President)

Barrack Obama reignited the concept of an articulate President. His words as the first African American President offered a renewed hope. The hope of positive change as our future.

We almost made it.

And now we face a dilemma.

The next president is going to be one of two people. One whose every word incites scorn and disdain. 

Another who defies explanation. You figure out who is who.

Where has this country gone? A country that once inspired words like, “When in the course of human events…” or “We the people of the United States….” Where has that country gone?  

The best we can offer today is a scowling face that says “Wrong” and “She’s a nasty woman” or a woman who best comeback is “Well Donald, maybe you should ask Bernie Sanders.”

That’s the inspiration for a new era?

I mourn the death of the days of Presidents and those that would-be President who inspired us. I am saddened that the candidates today force us to choose a lesser evil.

I want a candidate that will speak and act in a way that generations will remember, not long for.

Can anybody here find us one of those?

Donald Trump: Divine Right of Ascendency

In the third and final debate, Trump handed America the single greatest reason not to vote for him. By refusing to say he would accept the results of the election, he goes against 240 years of American tradition.

The one aspect of America that differentiates us from some countries, the thing which many countries have come to emulate, is our peaceful transition of power.

Elections are always contentious. Candidates are expected to go after their opponent’s ideas, concepts, plans, and experience. It is how we measure and evaluate their suitability for office.

Yet we expect, no demand, that every candidate accepts the results once the votes are counted. There is no room for “keeping the country in suspense.” Trump’s statements on this point border on incitement to anarchy.

Is there voter fraud in elections? Of course. Yet the overwhelming majority of voters cast their votes honestly and within the law.

Every campaign has zealots. There are those on both sides of this election who see their candidate as the only choice and are willing to do anything they can to ensure victory.

The problem with the Trump campaign is it is headed by a zealot with delusions of grandeur. He, alone, will decide the validity of the election process.

Is the existence of voter fraud justification to nullify the results because one candidate is dissatisfied with the election? Of course not.

If Trump has evidence of “widespread” voter fraud involving millions of votes, the time to produce this information is now. Before the election. Not wait and see. Instead, Trump says he’s “seen” evidence of voter fraud and warns the election is rigged.

That is a beautiful thing, Mr. Trump. We should just take your word for it.

What Trump is saying is clear.  If Clinton wins, it’s because of fraud. If he wins, it’s because America has spoken.

Americans will speak on November 8th. And I, like most patriotic and rational Americans, will accept the results.

If Clinton wins, it will not be as a result of voter fraud. If Trump wins, it may well be the results of voter insanity. Choosing a candidate who tells you that he will only accept one result is as un-American as one can be.

That’s not making America great again, that’s turning America into a 10th century Dark Ages kingdom led by someone who sees themselves as having the divine right of ascendency.

A Modest Proposal: Choose Clueless

Perhaps we’re missing an opportunity with the Libertarian Party. While I don’t believe Gary Johnson or Bill Weld are completely clueless, perhaps a little cluelessness might be just the sedative we need for this election.14523018_1439657252726278_6508428197223627262_n

Consider if you will a Johnson/Weld administration. The Presidential Daily Briefing lies sealed and unread in the White House bathroom, buried beneath a copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The National Security staff gathers in the situation room.

Mr. President, the Russians have positioned tanks on the borders of Kazakhstan. What should our response be?

President Johnson: Where?

Mr. President, the Chinese have devalued their currency again. It will cause an economic tidal wave of financial disasters in the Nikkei and Hang Seng. What should we do?

President Johnson: I had a dog named Hang Seng. He died. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. That’s life.

Mr. President, remember Aleppo? The place that caused a bit of a controversy during the campaign. It’s under siege by the Syrians.

President Johnson: Nope.

If an earlier President Johnson hadn’t been able to find Vietnam on a map, I can think of 56000 Americans who’d be better off.

Maybe an absent-minded professor type is what we need. Oblivious to the international scene, yet still with his hands on the nuclear code. What could go wrong?

Mr. President, Albuquerque has sued the government for more federal aid. What is our response?

President Johnson: Hmm, Albuquerque, Albuquerque, that sounds familiar. Better be safe than sorry. Help me open the suitcase and we’ll nuke’em.  After all, what do we have all these nuclear weapons for if we’re not gonna use them?

Let me know when they hit, I need to take a nap.