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Showing posts from February, 2017

A truly revealing paragraph from President Trump

Every once in a while a president or some other public figure will make a speech so revealing and so defining of his attitudes or character that it bears remembering. When you're dealing with a verbal loose cannon like President Donald Trump, the real job is sorting through the appalling verbiage while all the while thinking, "Surely he can't actually mean what he said here." Of course, that in itself is defining, in its own way.

But we just had an example of Trumpian rhetoric no reasonable person can or should ignore. Which is not to say. of course, that most Republicans inside or outside of Congress will pay it the slightest attention, or that most Americans will have the hair on the backs of their necks stand up quite as straight as it should when they read it. But it needs to be put out there anyway.

President Trump said at CPAC:

A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they (sic) are. They are the enemy of the people. … But I am only ag…

The Falcon has landed

I referred to the reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle last week.

Here is a historic moment in space exploration: the return of the recoverable first stage of a Falcon 9 after delivering supplies via the (human passenger-capable) Dragon capsule, which will eventually become America's way of sending astronauts as well as supplies to and from the ISS, to Cape Canaveral.

And no. The video is NOT being run backward! This is Falcon 9's eighth successful landing in thirteen tries.

The time has come for private enterprise in space exploration.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Morroco, not France, is our oldest ally. We signed our treaty with the Moroccans a full year before Lafayette and his crew got on board. But the French have historically been good friends.


In war, anyway, if not necessarily in peace.


We naturally regard our Mother Country, Great Britain, and our neighbo(u)r to the North, Canada, as our particularly tight buds. And they are. But our most consistent and faithful ally- one that has stood with us through thick and thin, even when nobody else would- is Australia. Our national characters as friendly, informal, outgoing, good-hearted, loud and obnoxious peoples have always bound us firmly together and comforted us with the thought that somewhere in the world there was at least somebody who more our less understood us.

And here is what the Australians think of Donald Trump. Or more precisely, here is what Mr. Trump's election has done to our relationship with the one country that has always stood with us, and trusted u…

Brother Star, Sister Planet

Yeah, I know. It's TRAPPIST-1, not FRANCISCAN-1. But never mind.

NASA has announced that a relatively nearby red dwarf ("only" 42 light-years away), boasts not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven Earth-sized planets in its "Goldilocks zone" ("not too hot, not too cold, but just right"), any or all of which may well feature liquid water and- assuming the right kind of atmosphere- could support life as we know it. And we've known since May that at least some of their atmospheres contain methane, indicating the presence of organic compounds.

But what would life be like on one of the members of this stellar monastery?

To begin with, there's an awful lot of ultraviolet radiation that close to a star like TRAPPIST-1. Either a stout ozone layer or (in the case of marine life) a nice, substantial ocean would be necessary for life to thrive there at all. Alternatively, there are a few biological adaptions that might work. For…

Through the Looking Glass

Early in the Republican race last year, Jeb Bush called Donald Trump "the Chaos Candidate." A month into his administration, he has now become the Chaos President.

He doesn't know how the government works, and he clearly has no idea what he himself is doing- or what he's going to do next. He's undermined our alliances in ways which cannot readily be fixed. The entire Flynn affair is a confused jumble. If 45 knew about his National Security Advisor-Designate's phone call to the Russian ambassador, the legal implications alone are staggering; if he didn't, he isn't in control of his own administration. Michael Moore believes that our new president's election was due to an outpouring of anger by slighted and ignored working class voters determined precisely to break the system, neither knowing or caring what would happen next, Well, that seems to be what they have done.

Judah Grunstein of "World Politics Review" writes that

The hallmark of …

Our once and future last, best hope on 45's rocky start

Huzzah! Once again, 45 does something majorly right!

First. he appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and now 45 has- at long last- initiated a sensible space policy, with a plan to promote a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon carried out by private enterprise by 2020.  Afterward, it will be onward to Mars and beyond.

This is a great idea for three reasons. First, private enterprise is the future of space exploration, and as far as I know we will be the first spacefaring nation to put most of its eggs in that basket. Second, it's nice to have eggs! Since the Obama administration canceled the Constellation program to develop the Ares booster and the Orion crew vehicle (though it subsequently reinstated the Orion part of the program), the United States has been twiddling its thumbs while China has taken great leaps toward the moon and other countries- including Russia, India, and Japan- have to various degrees intensified their own space programs. It would be both tragic and foolhardy for the nation which first…

A change in nomenclature

Came across an interesting suggestion in a McMullin Facebook group: stop using Donald Trump's name. After all, he's a narcissist; it's the worst thing we could do to him.

As the article suggested, I'm going to start referring to him as "45." Appropriate not only because he's the 45th president, but because of his penchant for going off half-cocked.

Common sense from Kelly, and an anthem for the Trump movement

At least one member of the Trump administration not only has his head on straighter than most but has cut to the chase on what we really have to do to solve the problem of illegal immigration.

Increased border security is required, sure. But if you really want to halt the flood of undocumented immigrants, do what Homeland Security Secretary and retired Marine general John F. Kelly recommends: everything in our power to support and bolster Mexico's economy, so that people will have no motive for trying to sneak into the United States.

Instead, the Trump administration is talking about blackmailing Mexico by threatening to hurt its economy. Taxing Mexican goods imported into the United States in order to pay for Mr. Trump's mythical wall will not simply mean that it will still be the American taxpayer who foots the bill. It will also increase the motive for poverty-stricken Mexican seeking a better life to sneak across the border!

By the way... come to think of it, wouldn't …

A good start

Fox News reports that President Trump's National Security Advisor, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, has resigned. Gen. Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency fired by the Obama administration for abusing his employees, insubordination, inefficiency, and "a loose relationship with the facts," was controversial because of his strong pro-Russian and anti-Muslim positions.

Gen. Flynn was at the center of a storm over his telephone conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the controversy over the Russian hacking of the computers of the Democratic and Republican National Committees. They included discussion of American sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration after the invasion of Ukraine. The conversations took place while Flynn- and Mr. Trump- were still private citizens, barred by law from conducting negotiations with foreign governments.

Flynn and Vice-President Pence had previously denied that the subject came up. Fly…

Knives, noses, and the faces of the American working class

From the American Enterprise Institute,  25 reasons why people think that protectionism- the economically disastrous policy that lies at the heart of President Trump's appeal to the working class- is actually going to help them, despite all the historical and economic evidence to the contrary.

Just as the President's "America First" isolationism will actually put China first and America last, his enormously popular plans to create barriers to foreign trade in order to benefit the American worker will, by all historical precedent prompt foreign nations to retaliate by refusing to buy American goods and driving American companies out of business, costing people the very jobs they thought they were saving by voting for Agent Orange.

Mike Lee on the GOP in the Age of Trump

FiveThirtyEight herein interviews Sen, Mike Lee, who did not endorse President Trump but is now one of the less consistent opponents of the president among prominent members of my former party.

I'm grieved to hear him say that it's too early to consider a primary challenge to the president. It just reinforces my impression that the Republican party as we know it is dead. If by this point we don't know whether there will be a challenger in the primaries in 2020,  the party has lost its soul.

Although I should say that I'm confident that Ted Cruz will challenge President Trump. Whether a more palatable candidate (to me) like Carly Fiorina or Marco Rubio might emerge I don't know. But I have my doubts. I continue to believe that the future of the conservative movement lies outside the GOP, probably in a coalition including Stand Up Republic and the Evan McMullin people.

NSA Flynn met with the Russian ambassador before taking office

A U.S. intelligence official reports that Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn discussed the sanctions against Russia imposed after the invasion of Ukraine with the Russian ambassador before taking office.

Flynn, who was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by the Obama Administration for abuse of subordinates, inefficiency, a "loose relationship with facts," and insubordination, has denied the conversation, which may be in violation of the Logan Act forbidding negotiations between private American citizens and foreign governments.

Flynn, a strong Islamophobe who is also strongly pro-Russian, did not offer or receive any quid pro quo during the conversation, the official told NBC News. Flynn, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, and Vice-President Mike Pence have all denied that the conversation took place.

The critical concern is that the president and members of his administration could stand to profit from the dropping of sanctions due to their investments in…

Not good

Two current and one former official familiar with the conversation have reportedly told Reuters that during their first phone call since Mr. Trump's inauguration his friend Vladimir Putin asked POTUS about his attitude toward the New Start Treaty.

Mr. Trump had to put him on hold to ask his aides what the New Start Treaty was. He then returned to his call with Putin and said that he didn't like it.

Cyber Brief also reports that Russia is stepping up efforts to help the Taliban defeat the United States in Afghanistan.

The problem with Putin. And Trump. And Tillerson, And Flynn.

This is a wonderful summary of where things stand between the United States and Russia right now,

I should say right off the bat that I believe the more benign explanation for Donald Trump's pro-Russian policy. I think POTUS is simply naive  rather than corrupt as regards his attitude toward Russia, and certainly not treasonous. But it's important to contrast the benign, Wilsonian underpinnings of American foreign policy in general with the paranoid view of foreign policy history has taught Russia. We cannot fathom a power which, in looking at the world, can see "only enemies and vassals." Russia's compulsion to have a buffer zone of client states insulating it from the West strikes us as unnecessary and archaic. But both things are very much a part of the Russian psyche. They are why an alliance or even a friendly relationship with Russia will always by an illusion apart from some temporary emergency like World War II. The Russian view of the world simply doesn&…

Putin's next Anschluss- Belarus?

The Chinese love Trump too. And no wonder.

Ambassador Richard Boucher, former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, says that "China seems to be the main beneficiary of 'America First.' Indeed, one Chinese scholar told me last summer, 'We like Trump because he’ll vacate space for us to move into.'”

You would think that given the popularity of Mr. Trump with America's enemies his domestic supporters would be a bit uneasy. But they remain as clueless and self-deceived as ever as our new President continues to unravel America's position in the world and enable the ambitions of those who wish us ill.

One wonders how long they can remain in denial- and how much damage President Trump will do to our country before they wake up.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird. But even he never dreamed we'd have one for a president. Especially one so big and clueless.

Trump unhinged; the 25th Amendment beckons

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration th…

The eight REAL greatest sports moments of my lifetime!

There has been a lot of talk in the past 24 hours about the Patriots' overtime win in the Super Bowl being the greatest moment in sports history. Well, there's no doubt that it was one of the greatest moments. But here, in chronological order, are eight others I've witnessed that I have to rank ahead of it, in five cases with the home-town call.

After two weeks, 42% of Americans want Trump impeached

A new poll shows that 42% of the American people already want Donald Trump impeached.

Not only that but bookies in England are now offering even odds that he will be impeached or will resign before the end of his term.

Ladbroke's is giving him only a 4-1 chance of remaining in office longer than six months. Personally, I think he's probably safe for that long and quite a bit longer.

But given his personal instability, impulsiveness, and long-standing pattern of playing fast and loose with the law (he was already in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution the moment he took the oath), I would be very surprised if Mike Pence were not the Republican nominee for the White House in 2020.

Which is not by any means to say that he would win in November.

Making Russia Great Again?

President Trump's response to Bill O'Reilly's criticism of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was to attack his own country.

Meanwhile, refugee and chess great Gary Kasparov calls Trump "Putin's agent of chaos."

Mr. Trump's connections to Russia are still under investigation by the FBI. His tendency to let his mouth get ahead of his brain is a chronic problem. He might want to reconsider defending Russia by running down the United States.

Spider agrees to peace with fly?

POTUS wants to broker a peace between his buddy Vladimir Putin's Russia and its dinner  neighbor Ukraine.

I imagine this will be predicated on a declaration by Putin that the Crimea is his last territorial demand in Europe.

Good luck with that, Mr. Trump

It's ironic.

This from Der Spiegel is an indication of how our European allies view our new president.

I wonder what the Greatest Generation would say if they were told that the day would come when Germany was holding the line for Western democracy against the threat posed by an American president.

Trump's bizarre, bullying phone calls to the leaders of friendly nations can't be tolerated

Please.  Just READ this.

And when you're done,  read this.

Know that Australia is the most loyal ally America has, more loyal even than the Brits or the Canadians. They fought by our side in Vietnam. They fought by our side in the Second Gulf War. They have stood by us when nobody else would. If the UK is our mother country, the Aussies are out brothers. Each of us as individuals would be blessed to have a friend in our personal lives as loyal and as staunch as Australia has been to the United States down through the years, and remains today.

Depending on how you count, Mexico is either our second or our third largest trading partner. President Trump has already alienated them to the point where they're looking to China to trade with instead of with us. And even if this were not the case you don't threaten to invade a neighboring country if it doesn't solve its own domestic problems. Not if you're of sound mind, anyway.

This is not the way a country should treat it…

Another one bites the dust

Norway's state "Lutheran" church hasn't been in anything resembling a healthy theological condition for a long time. Now it's joined the ELCA and numerous other pseudo-Lutheran denominations in the "Lutheran" World Federation in abandoning Christian and biblical sexual ethics and embracing marriage redefinition.

I was ordained in a predecessor church of the ELCA. I took an oath on that occasion to "offer no occasion for false hope or illusory comfort." I've endeavored to keep that oath ever since; sadly, the ELCA and other denominations which value political correctness more than biblical orthodoxy have changed their priorities.

Kyrie eleison.