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The Un-Calm Before the Storm

So far as we can tell from his “tweets” and other public pronouncements, President Donald Trump is intent on some sort of military action against North Korea. The public pronouncements from the nutcase dictatorship of North Korea make clear that they consider Trump’s words a declaration of war, and the idea isn’t so nutty.
Trump has “tweeted” that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time” seeking a peaceful resolution to North Korea’s nuclear provocations, adding “Save your energy, Rex, we will do what has to be done.” At a photo-op with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Trump chided the generals for being slow in delivering him “military options,” later saying, as they all smiled for the pictures, “This is the calm before the storm.” Numerous questions about what that meant were answered with “you’ll see,” but Trump’s latest “tweets” said the past 25 years of diplomacy with North Korea have been “making fools of U.S. negotiators,” and “Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
That one thing clearly isn’t a negotiated resolution, and Trump is clearly impatient with the economic pressure that has lately been exerted on North Korea, by now even Trump doesn’t hold out much hope the Chinese can resolve the matter, so that doesn’t leave many non-military options. Trump and his most die-hard supporters appear quite confident that they’ll prevail in this game of nuclear brinksmanship, but it’s making the rest of us in pretty much the entire world rather nervous, and we can only guess at what that nutcase dictatorship makes of it.
If it does come down to a war America will win it, and Trump is right to emphasize that persuasive argument, but that’s no reason to start a war that could possibly be avoided. Any bar brawler can show you the scars and still-nagging injuries he got in the fights he won, cemeteries around the world are filled with the graves of soldiers from wars America won, and the best case scenarios for a quick win against North Korea include millions of enemy and allied deaths. We don’t advocate appeasement, as North Korea’s newly-upgraded nuclear capabilities are indeed intolerable, but we’d feel calmer if Trump heeded President Theodore Roosevelt’s advice to speak more softly as he wields a big stick, and didn’t render his Secretary of State’s efforts at a peaceful resolution a waste of time.
We’d be calmer yet if we thought that America had an effective Secretary of State on the job, or a cohesive foreign policy and an effective foreign service to go with it. Some of those southeast Asian allies Trump is making very nervous don’t have American ambassadors or fully staff embassies, key State Department positions have gone unfilled, and it’s not clear who’s advising Trump that calling the nutcase North Korean dictator “Little Rocket Man” and ruling out talks is sound diplomacy. Trump has some solid foreign hands around with his Defense Secretary and Chief of Staff and national security advisor, all multi-starred generals with hard-earned first-hand knowledge of how horrible even won wars are, all far more knowledgable about military realities in general and on the densely populated Korean peninsula in particular, but we notice they’re all striking a less bellicose tone in the very rare public pronouncements.
Trump’s grousing about the all the generals who have been slow in providing him military options suggests to us that the entire military is less enthusiastic about war with North Korean than is Trump, and we assume there are some relatively sane functionaries in the nutcase dictatorship that have reached the same conclusion. They’ve probably also noticed Trump’s dysfunctional relationship America’s foreign policy establishment, with the nutcase dictator amused that Trump’s own Secretary of State called him a “moron” and didn’t get summarily executed, and they’re probably less impressed with Trump’s bluster than his die-hard supporters.
The nutcase dictator probably pays even less attention to his sanest advisors than Trump does, though, and he might decide that so long as Trump has already declared war he might as well get it started with a strike on South Korea or Japan or the American territory of Guam or, if the most alarming claims are true, the west coast of America. At this point even the most sane advisors won’t advise him that Trump hasn’t already more or less declared war, and even if the nutcase dictator realizes somewhere in his deranged brain that he’ll lose the war he’ll figure that if he’s already lost he might as well get a few licks in along the way. So far as we can tell from the news reports he’d get a lot of licks in, and the generals and the military in general seem to agree, and with anything short of outright appeasement we’d rather put that scenario off to very last possible moment.
Perhaps this is the grand strategy that Trump and his die-hard supporters believe, and we have to hope so, although we wonder with  how Trump came to know more than generals or any previous head of state in history during his real estate and reality show career. If it comes to war, we hope it’s only because it was waged to avert an immediate threat to American lives, could not have been avoided otherwise, and that the Commander in Chief who ordered it could convincingly explain that to his countrymen and our allies and the rest of the nervous world.

— Bud Norman

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Two Tales of One Speech

President Donald Trump delivered a speech to the entire world from the podium at the United Nations on Tuesday, but as always he seemed to be speaking mostly to his fans. As always the fans loved it, even if the UN-bashing was watered down somewhat from the campaign speeches, and the rest of the world was less enthusiastic.
After opening the speech with some self-congratulatory talk about the American stock market and unemployment rates, both of which have indeed lately improved at a slightly better pace than before he took he office, Trump welcomed the UN’s general assembly to his home town of New York City as if they had recently arrived solely to hear him speak. After that he got to more substantive matters, including a threat to completely annihilate North Korea, a warning that America will no longer share its traditional burdens in enforcing world order elsewhere, a promise that America would no longer attempt to impose its values of freedom and democracy on an unwitting world, some harsh criticisms of certain countries that are unfree and undemocratic, some more subtle criticisms of certain other countries that are also unfree and undemocratic but more formidable foes, and a full-throated announcement of the “America First” policy he successfully ran on.
The fans surely loved almost all of it, and the rest of the world will have a hard time arguing with much of the speech.
A threat by an American president to utterly annihilate another nation is unusual in a UN speech, but that has long been the unavoidable American policy in response to a nuclear attack, which North Korea has lately been threatening in clear terms, so Trump might as well have said so. Using the taunting “Rocket Man” nickname for the nutcase North Korean dictator that Trump had previously “tweeted” was unnecessary and probably not helpful, and we along with most of the rest of the world would have preferred some added lines about our hopes for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, but Trump is still on the same solid ground as any other American president would be in vowing a devastating response to a nuclear attack against America. He also seemed to leave room for a preemptive nuclear attack based on intelligence reports of an imminent threat, though, and given Trump’s past remarks to the world press about the unreliability of America’s intelligence community and his harsh criticisms of its previous preemptive military actions that’s a more complicated matter.
Trump is also on solid ground with his complaints that America has borne an unfair share of the burden of enforcing the world order, along with the implicit argument that the UN is charging us too much for its small role, but right now is probably not the best time to be making that argument. Trump’s savvy UN ambassador Nikki Haley has recently convinced both the Chinese and Russian members of the Security Council to sign on to harsh sanctions against North Korea, which might prove helpful if either country is as good as their word, and there’s still a chance that a peaceful resolution worked out in the UN will make our outsized bills to the usually worthless organization well worth the cost. Trump did tamp down his past criticisms of the UN and didn’t threaten a complete withdrawal, though, so the disappointment of his fans should be well compensated by the relief of the rest of the world.
By now both the American left and right and all those Trump fans who fit somewhere in that spectrum agree the country shouldn’t be imposing all of its values on the rest of the world, and the rest of the world surely won’t argue with that, but Trump’s oration leaves plenty of room for other arguments. He spoke of each nation’s sovereign right to settle its own domestic squabbles, but singled out North Korea and Iran and Venezuela for scorn about they’re handling it, and didn’t make clear what standards he expected from the rest of the world. North Korea and Iran and Venezuela well deserve America’s scorn, and whatever pressure America can apply, but so do China and Russia and other more formidable foes that Trump left largely unmentioned, and at this point a Trump Doctrine seems vague.
Trump made it clear that his guiding principle is “America First,” and he rightly noted that every American president has had the same priority and that every other world leader has also put his nation’s interest first, so the rest of the world has only self-interested arguments about that. Still, those Americans who aren’t fans of Trump, along with the rest of the world, can argue Trump doesn’t espouse an enlightened view of America’s self-interest. That “America First” slogan always bothered us, given its historic association with the pre-World War II isolationists who were sure America would fare just fine in a world dominated by the Axis powers, and it doesn’t sound any better coming from Trump.
It could have been a lot worse, though, and we’ll take some solace in our longtime and old-fashioned Republican conviction that the United Nations isn’t really that big a deal. Our reading of the English language  editions of the foreign press suggests that the rest of the world mostly regards Trump as a boastful and boisterous buffoon, so we’re left wondering how they’re taking the speech, and worrying if Trump cares about that so long as the fans are pleased.

— Bud Norman

As the World Turns

Shortly before the health care bill he backed went down in the flames of 17 percent approval and strident opposition from both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, President Donald Trump infamously shrugged and admitted to the members of the National Governors Association that “Who knew health care was so complicated?” Throughout his winning campaign Trump had always been similarly cocksure that foreign relations is similarly simpler than all the eggheads make it out to be, but by now he’s surely realizing that it’s also pretty damned complicated.
There’s a meeting scheduled today at Trump’s still-wholly owned Mar-a-Lago resort with the well experienced Chinese President Xi Jiping, which will inevitably entail even more complex negotiations than a deal with a New Jersey gambling commission, and it’s coming on the heels of some pretty complicated developments in the already vexing enough countries of Syria and South Korea. There’s also that ongoing hubbub about Trump’s possible ties to the Russian regime that he’s often made excuses for and his criticisms of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has long stood against Russian expansionism, and all that business about accusing Great Britain of spying on him and Australia of exporting Islamic terrorism and the continued insistence that Mexico pay for a wall along its northern border. All in all, who knew that it could be so complicated?
The Syrian situation got thornier this week when that unfortunate country’s grotesque government once again used chemical weapons in an attack that killed dozens of non-combitatant women and children during a civil war that has already killed hundreds of thousands of innocents, and although that crosses a clear line of what should be 21st Century lines it’s not simple as that. This isn’t the first or even the second or third time that that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people, and after one occasion the administration of President Barack Obama boldly declared a “red line” of American intervention if they ever did it again, but when they provably did it again nothing happened. Obama’s apologists will rightly note that Republicans thwarted an attempt to get congressional authorization to retaliate, but we were among the Republican dissenters because Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry were describing a “pinprick” response that didn’t satisfy our war-mongering neocon sensibilities at all, and suffice to say it was all pretty damned complicated.
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific Syrian chemical attack Trump did the requisite tsk-tsking on Tuesday while asserting “These heinous actions of the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” which seems about right to our old-fashioned Republicans selves, but the immediate response of the mostly Democratic media was to dig up all the past “tweets” when reality-show star and recently registered Republican Trump advised Obama to stay out of Syria altogether. By Wednesday Trump was telling the press that the photographs of gassed women and children had “made an impact” and that it was now his responsibility to deal with it, and we’re heartened he seemed to realize how damned complicated it was. It’s complicated further by the fact that the Russian dictatorship that Trump is always making excuses for is backing the Iranian regime that Trump has promised to deal with severely which is backing the grotesque Syrian government that Trump has to admit is pretty awful but has withdrawn the previous bi-partisan policy of calling for its eventual overthrow, and given that nobody in Syria at the moment seems to deserve the United States’ backing the plausible arguments for that policy only complicate matters further.
Meanwhile, over on the other side of the globe in the Korean peninsula, the megalomaniacal rich kid running the North Korean regime is holding nuclear bombs he got his hands on despite the the best efforts of the past several Democratic and Republican administrations and launching missiles east ward into the ocean. Sooner or later even the buffoon running North Korea will find someone who can get those missiles all the way to Los Angeles or San Francisco, and they’ve already got plenty of relatively old-fashioned weapons that can wrak all sorts of havoc on nearby Seoul, South Korea, or Tokyo, Japan, which would make for one hell of a global economic crisis even if you don’t care about any Korean or Japanese people, and for pretty much all of our lives that’s been a sticky wicket.
All that Korean peninsula stuff is bound to come up in those Mar-a-Lago talks with the Chinese, which were already pretty damned complicated. Back during the campaign when Trump made it all sound simple he explained that he’d threaten the Chinese with a 45 percent tariff if they didn’t agree to stop manipulating their currency and running up a multi-billion dollar trade imbalance and otherwise game the international economy. By today’s meeting at the Mar-a-Lago the currency manipulation charges are outdated and Trump is threatening a fight with the Federal Reserve Board if they don’t keep up something close to the Obama-era quantitative easing that you have to admit is a currency manipulation, the ridiculous 45 percent tariff threat is by now long discarded the Trump administration and even Trump himself seems to understand how much of that trade deficit comes back in much-need foreign investment, and when it comes to the fact the Xi represents a a grotesque communist government that committed atrocities you have to remember that Trump has applauded their strength i nputting down protests.

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The past few days have seen former self-described “alt-right platform” editor and Trump “senior advisor” Steve Bannon expelled from from his inexplicable seat the National Security Council, and some old Republican foreign policy hands brought on board despite their publicly stated reservations about Trump, and there’s some hope that things will turn out the way the way even our fatalistic Republican souls dare hope for. We’ve got the president’s son-in-law is charged dealing with Iraq and that complicated Israel-Palestinian thing while re-invent the entire federal government along free-market lines, and the situation with Russia is still very much in the air, and that spoiled rich kid in North Korea truly is crazy, and once again there are all sorts of complicated historical forces that can’t be warded off with the slogan of “America First.”
At the moment the only alternative is that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, and pretty much continued the foreign policy of Obama, and we can’t lament that never never came to pass. Obama’s inaction in Syria did wind up one way or another with Tuesday’s atrocities, Clinton’s full-throated insistence on action in Libya did prove a disaster she felt obliged to be lie about, and the general weakness of Democratic foreign policy in general make it think it could have turned out worse yet. This is is all pretty damned complicated stuff, though, and we’re not all sure the guy with the R next to his name will necessarily get it at all right.

— Bud Norman

The Enduring Truth of the Latest Outrageous Fiction

Those with a good memory for all the accumulated outrages of the past seven and a half years or so might vaguely recall the name of Jonathan Gruber, “the architect of Obamacare” who couldn’t keep himself from gloating at an academic conference about all the clever lies that were used to foist that awful law on an unwitting land. Some enterprising internet muckraker got his hands on the video of his remarks well after the fact, it gradually “went viral” on all the conservative sites at a time when the more conservative party was still firmly opposed to federal control of the health care system, and the uproar was sufficient that even the more polite media were forced to acknowledge for a brief news cycle that it really was rather outrageous. We’d almost forgotten the name ourselves, despite our good memories and constant score-keeping, but were reminded by the recent gloating of Ben Rhodes and the outrage it has produced for this brief news cycle.
Rhodes is described by even such a polite medium as The New York Times as “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru,” and he was so comfortable with the paper’s politeness that he felt free to boast that President Barack Obama’s even more catastrophic-than-Obamacare deal with Iran regarding its obvious and undeniable and still-ongoing nuclear ambitions was also sold on a pack of lies. He frankly acknowledged that the Republican argument of the moment that the election of a supposed “moderate” president didn’t mean that the hard-liners in the Iranian theocracy weren’t still in charge was entirely, and that Obama’s claim the Republicans opposed to the deal were effectively in cahoots with those hard-liners fighting their own country’s more radical elements was the sort of ingenious fiction that he once aspired to as a creative writing major.
Even such a polite medium as The New York Times couldn’t help noting that the 38-year-old “Boy Wonder of the White House” didn’t have any more applicable academic credentials to become the president’s most trusted foreign policy advisor and speechwriter other than their shared disdain of the policies of the George W. Bush administration and preference for spinning tales, and even the headlines of such usually diplomatic sources as Foreign Policy Magazine have resorted to language that we do not condone but concede is pretty much apt, and we must admit that even our more liberal counterparts once again have acknowledged that this is pretty darned outrageous.
We’d like to think that after another half year or so things will start to get better, but at this point it is a dim hope. The presumptive nominee of the putatively more conservative party lists health care as one of the core responsibilities of the federal government, and has expressed his admiration for Scotland’s totalitarian systems, but assures us it will be a great deal, believe him, and the more liberal party’s presumptive nominee is offering the suddenly seemingly plausible offer of dancing with the devil we know, and the Democrat is standing by the deal and the Republican won’t disavow the deal because promising he can out-deal the Iranian rug-merchants just as he out-dealed all his casino-and-strip-joint creditors, and both seem quite certain that their fanciful fictions can be sold to a gullible public just like the rest of the outrageous reality shows they’ve been starring in for many years.

— Bud Norman

The State of the Dis-Union

President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union address Thursday night, and barring the remote possibility that those quadrennial conspiracy theories about a presidential coup at long last prove true it will be his last. The speech marks a point in history when just a few weeks more than a year a left until the end of the Obama error, there is still some faint hope left that at least the next four years after that will be at least somewhat better, and we are glad of such small favors. Everything else about the speech, alas, did little to hearten to us about the true state of the Union.
The speech began with a promise to be brief, which of course was not kept, and went downhill from there. Without any major policy initiatives or other big ideas to announce, and with no hope of getting anything that he might have thought of past the Republican-dominated Congress he has brought into being, Obama mostly used the occasion of his last prime-time network special to make the case that he truly is the Messiah that his post-religious mania of a campaign in ’08 promised. He cited the seemingly healthy unemployment rate of 5 percent but neglected to mention that the number of working age Americans actually working is at a 38-year-low and getting lower, or that the thousand points the Dow Jones averages have already shed in this still-new year has everybody spooked that it’s going to get worse yet, and we doubt he convinced any of his scant viewership here in flyover country that happy days are here again.
There was talk of how deficits have been cut in half since the record-setting first years of his administration under a compliant Democrat-controlled Congress, but not talk of the $8 trillion in debt that has been racked up in his seven years. He mentioned the supposed millions of Americans who now have health insurance under Obamacare, but he didn’t mention how many of them are getting better health care under the Medicaid program they’ve wound up with, or how much more the rest of the country is paying for their premiums, or that randy younger hipsters are forbidden to purchase the catastrophic plans that would have been their best bet in a free market system and that celibate nuns are being forced to purchase contraceptive coverage to subsidize those young hipsters’ appalling sex lives, and that it all seems destined for the long-predicted death spiral of fiscal insolvency, and that at this point relatively few Americans are any longer sold on Obamacare.

There were the Reagan-esque uses of specially invited heroes, with this the honorific chair being filled by one of those pitiable Syrian refugees, presumably a more a savory character than the Syrian refugees who have been implicated in a number of gang rapes in western cities in past weeks, and an empty chair for the victims of National Rifle Association-inspired gun violence, but none for those killed in Benghazi or the Chicago’s gang districts, and we doubt anyone will be persuaded by that.

There’s that breakthrough deal with Iran to allow it regional hegemony and apocalyptic nuclear status anytime it wishes, along with a $150 billion signing bonus, but that went unmentioned because of Obama’s usual bad timing. His embarrassing dismissal of the Islamic State as the “jayvee team” of terrorism just before it gained control of an Indiana-sized territory, and his premature declaration that the terror group was “contained” just before it launched deadly attacks against Russian airliners and Parisian rock ‘n’ roll fans and the social services workers of San Bernardino, apparently kept him from touting his touting his peace breakthrough with Iran just hours after that country took 10 American sailors hostage. He did blather on about those crazy Republicans who seem to think that Islam might have something to do with the 1,400-year-old clash between Islam and the once Judeo-Christian West, but we sense that even Obama realizes that nobody out there in flyover country is still buying that. There was also something about Vice President Joe Biden curing cancer with another moonshot, but we’ll skeptically await the results.
The most striking part of the speech by far was Obama’s uncharacteristically humble concern about the political rhetoric that has resulted from his seven years in office and the year of campaigning that preceded it. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency,” he shockingly said, “that the rancor and suspicions between the parties has gotten worse than better. There’s no doubt that a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying better so long as I hold this office.” There’s some uncertainty as to whether he was referring to the Republican or Democratic Roosevelt, but in either case it’s a touching use of the old humble bit. It certainly represents an improvement over telling his loyal opposition that they can still be involved in government so long as they “sit in the back of bus,” or advising his Latino supporters to “punish their enemies,” or charging that his opponents want dirty air and water and what’s worst for everybody, or any of the similar rhetoric that has characterized the last eight years of Obama’s national prominence, but we’ll have to await the results of that promise as well. We don’t doubt that our president regrets that his “get in their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight” style of rhetoric that has suddenly allowed a bumptious billionaire and sudden Republican to employ equally harsh and ad hominem rhetoric against the status quo that Obama insists is so comfortable. Obama might have been grousing at least in part about the more honest self-described Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is currently gaining ground in the Democratic Party’s presidential race by admitting those dire work force participation rates and other glum economic realities and proposing even kookier solutions, but in any case he at least forced to concede that is legendary oratorical gifts have not proved adequate to the moment.
There’s another year and a few weeks left of America’s enemies seizing on the mont to advance the evil plans, and so far it doesn’t look like a roaring year for the economy, and even Obama is meekly conceding that the public discussion he has dominated over the past eight years about what to do about it it is likely to yield any solutions, and we are left with a less sanguine assessment of the state of the Union than our president can offer.

— Bud Norman

What’s Not in the News

There’s not much in the news this time of year, what with all the newsmakers being off on their expensive vacations, so now is as good a time as any to take notice of what’s not there. In the eerie silence of the current news cycle we can’t help noticing that several important stories seem to have prematurely vanished.
That awful deal with the Iranian government regarding its nuclear weapons program has largely gone unmentioned since President Barack Obama announced it was done, even though that’s not the end of the story. So far as we can tell nothing has yet been signed by either side, there’s no still public agreement about what’s been agreed to, even the United Nations admits that Iran’s recent inter-continental ballistic missile test violated any understanding of agreement, despite the administration’s infuriating pleas for leniency on behalf of the totalitarian theocracy, and Congress is wisely proceeding with fresh new sanctions that disagree with the whole awful deal. Given that the deal makes an Iranian bomb inevitable, which in turn would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and thus make Armageddon imminent, one would think this would be getting more attention.
Obamacare is just as bad as ever, too, although that’s no longer news. By now the public knows that it won’t be getting an average $2,500 a year savings and won’t be able to keep its plans or doctors and that all the other promises that were made won’t be kept, but that was already obvious when the public went ahead and re-elected Obama back in ’12 and the media are no longer obligated to mention of that. They are forced to mention that premiums are going up, more plans are set to be cancelled, the poor who were supposed to benefit are paying ever more for less coverage, major insurers are pulling out of the exchanges and leaving the rest of the suckers in the long-predicted “death spiral,” and few seem to expect the law will survive into the next decade. Even the Republican presidential candidates rarely mention Obamacare, however, and even the most conservative news media don’t seem to ask about it.
Most of those Republican candidates also go unmentioned, of course, and judging by all the “Bernie” bumper stickers we’re seeing we think there’s more going in in the Democratic race than you’d know from reading the news. Perhaps when the all the newsmakers and news reporters get back from their vacations we’ll start to find out more about Donald Trump’s latest insulting “tweet” and all the reasons that Hillary Clinton’s latest scandal isn’t really that a big deal, but we can always hope they’ll starting paying attention to other things. In some cases the silence is becoming deafening.

— Bud Norman

Another Nervous Sept. 11

Today is September 11, and it seems as good a time as any to assess how America and the rest of Western Civilization are faring in the 1,400-year-old onslaught by the more bellicose adherents of Islam. We note with great relief and considerable nervousness that the west has suffered no attacks as deadly as the one that occurred in New York City and Washington, D.C., and over the skies of western Pennsylvania 14 years ago today, and hope and pray this will remain true throughout the day, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to be going very well for our side.
Smaller-scale but still horrific attacks on America and its allies have since become so commonplace they are largely forgotten after a 24-hour news cycle, and the ones in faraway places of which we know little, such as Mumbai and Moscow and Paris and London and Moore, Oklahoma, barely make an impression through the day. Each story comes carefully packaged with caveats about how it would be wrong to draw any conclusions about anybody but the particular individuals responsible for the carnage, who probably had legitimate grievances, not at all like the more infrequent stories about crazed white guys with guns who might have been listening to talk radio, and the cumulative death count is never mentioned. Although the death count is troublesome enough, the West’s instinct to ignore it is all the more so.
Meanwhile, the more bellicose adherents of Islam are rapidly gaining power in ever larger swaths of the religion’s Middle Eastern birthplace. A self-proclaimed Islamic State is imposing the most brutal and barbaric version of Sunni Islam in a growing portion of what was once Iraq and Syria, and the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism on behalf of Shiite Islam’s most murderous manifestation is about to get a $150 billion signing bonus from the West for a treaty that won’t prevent from them from acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them to Western targets and implicitly acknowledges their rightful role to regional hegemony. Such assertiveness by the most bellicose adherents of both branches of Islam is troubling enough, but the West’s passivity is all the more so.
The head-chopping, crucifying, burning-at-the-stake depravity of the Islamic State has occasionally forced its way onto the otherwise pristine pages of America’s newspapers, but even the most stomach-turning stories always end with assurances from the administration that the Islamic State remains a “jayvee team” of terror and that the coalition of unaccountably moderate amateurs that has been assembled is somehow is not only holding its own against them but also the Syrian Assad regime’s professional Iranian-supported troops and the crack Russian soldiers that have lately been showing up in the middle of this convoluted conflict. This happy talk has lately been undermined by an Inspector General’s report, prompted by the complaints of more than 50 intelligence analysts working for the military’s Central Command, alleging that frank talk about the Islamic State’s worrisome gains have been censored. This seems all the more plausible given the administration’s determination to describe the Fort Hood, Texas, massacre as “Workplace violence” rather than Islamic terrorism, despite the culprit’s self-status status as as “Soldier of Allah” and his chants of “Alahu Akbar” as he gunned his victims down, or use any other explanation that will subtract from that troublesome death count of small-scale yet horrific terror attacks on American soil.
The same administration assures us that the deal delivering $150 billion and free reign to pursue intercontinental ballistic missiles and all sorts of ways to get nuclear warhead is the only alternative to what would surely be an unwindable war against the same Iran that president in his first successful campaign called a “tiny country” that “doesn’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union did.” There are still plausible options available to the Republicans and their more level-headed Democratic allies to scuttle the deal, but it remains to be seen if they’ll be willing to hold that crucial line. At this point, the best hope is that the deal will go down as an executive treaty that can be undone more a rock-ribbed president early in 2017.
Most of the rest of Western Civilization and its media seem to be on board, and only France, of all people, seem to have put much of a fight about it, and that this is not at all surprising is the most disturbing news of all. Europe’s government, if not its people, seem intent on welcoming what will eventually be millions of new arrivals from the lands where the most bellicose adherents of Islam predominate. A long-shot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination thinks it plays well with his party to advocate that America take in at least a few hundred thousand, the same front-runner for the Republican nomination who’s grabbed the lead by talking tough about Mexican Catholics takes the same position as that Democrat regarding Islamic Syrians, and nobody seems to be insisting on the democratic and republican and unabashedly Judeo-Christian yet rigorously secular values that have Western Civilization during its 1,400-year onslaught by the more bellicose adherents of Islam. So far the West has ceded to demands that there be no criticism of Islam, that even the most belligerent emigres to the west be afford their right to undermine the hosting civilization, and that western culpability always be presumed.
That Republican front-runner has admitted that he can’t think of any favorite passages from the Bible, and we’re sure that all the Democratic contenders will think of something about greed and covetousness in the unlikely event they’re ever asked the same question, but on this day we’re reminded of of the book of Jeremiah, chapter six and verse 14: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”

— Bud Norman

The Latest Defense of That Awful, Awful Deal

Our favorite conspiracy theory is that everything that has happened throughout history has been the according to the nefarious design of a secret cabal of Jews and Masons, and that Jackie Mason is the diabolical mastermind of it all, but even this attempt at satire cannot compare to the Obama administration’s defense of its awful, awful nuclear deal with the Iranian government.
Secretary of State John Kerry has granted an interview to the ever-faithful interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg over at the once-venerable Atlantic Monthly, a few Hollywood types have weighed in with a video saying the only alternative to the administration’s Iran deal is melted Frisbees and dead children and global Armageddon, the president himself has addressed a friendly audience at American University and gotten laughs with his ridicule of the deal’s opponent, and one of our crazier Facebook friends has posted a video purporting to prove that a millennial Christianist worldview is the other element in the only opposition to this awful, awful deal. In every case, we noticed, there was an implication that the only alternative to this awful, awful deal is an even more awful war with Iran, that such a conflict should properly be put off until Iran acquires the nuclear weapons that can be easily acquired under this deal and acquire the inter-continental ballistic delivery systems that are explicitly allow, which will surely be after the present administration has passed, and that anyone who disagrees is probably one of those people who belong to a certain unnamed ethnic group that is currently a beleaguered minority in the Middle East, or one of those other demographically significant yet unfashionable religious categories that retain their belief in the wisdom of the earlier three-fourths of the Christian bible as well as the later fourth and stand steadfast on religious ground in support of Israel, where even the left-wing crazies understand how very, very awful this deal is.
If there’s any good news to be gleamed from this it’s that the demographically significant yet currently unfashionable portion of the Democratic party that has a certain familial affinity for a Jewish state steadfastly is showing signs of defending that noble race’s existence in some misbegotten portion of the world rather than being wiped out by an agreement an awful, awful agreement that comes to no good end. One significant Jewish Democrat has already gone to the opposition, another significant Jewish Democrat was reported to have “lost it” while trying to defend the deal to his demographically significant constituencies. This suggests some chance to peel off a few vital votes from the administration’s otherwise solid partisan support, and there’s the Republican party’s seemingly solid votes, moved by types who believe all fourths of the The Bible make more sense than this cockamamie “agreement,” which apparently isn’t even a treaty, which would require three-fourths of the Senate’s approval and would be dead in the water, so the conspiracy of Jews and all those Masons who drive their mini-cars around the local festivals is apparently gaining some steam. Enough for the administration and its Secretary of State and those Hollywood celebrities and our Facebook friends to all cast scorn on anyone who opposes this awful, awful deal.
This won’t necessarily prevent the deal or its awful, awful consequences, sd a certain ethnic minority in the Middle East and that demographically yet currently significant yet currently unfashionable minority, formerly known as Judeo-Christian civilization, no longer constitute a majority, and although the even the undecided yet have to weigh in, and probably never will, the deal might yet ben undermined enough that a subsequent and more sensible administration could completely un-do it. We’ll cling to such faint hopes in times such as these, or at least that’s what our puppet=master Jackie Mason is telling us to say.

— Bud Norman

The Celebrity Case for the Disastrous Iran Deal

At this point we have nothing but a general indifference and otherwise mild contempt for the celebrity class, but every now and then it exerts it influence in ways that demand our protestation. One such case is the latest celebrity-laden propaganda on behalf of the Obama administration’s godawful deal with Iran regarding its unabashed nuclear ambitions.
You probably haven’t already seen it, but the White House-sanctioned video features notable yet probably unfamiliar personalities such as Morgan Freeman, Jack Black, Natasha Lyonne, Queen Noor, and some exotically handsome fellow of fashionably unidentifiable ethnicity that we swear we’ve never seen before, all explaining that either Congress goes along with the administration’s obviously flawed deal with Iran or that we all die in one of those post-apocalyptic nuclear holocaust movie scenarios that were a staple of early ’70s cinema. The argument’s flaws are obvious enough to anyone who has been paying attention to details of the obviously flawed deal, which allows Iran to blatantly cheat on all the other terms and continue it’s anti-western and generally genocidal rhetoric and actions until the 10-year band on Iranian nuclear programs expires, but it might prove persuasive enough to that portion of the population that is taken with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Jack Black, Natasha Lyonne, Queen Noor, and whoever that exotically handsome fellow of of fashionably unidentifiable ethnic origin are. For the benefit of those few readers who are even less hip to celebrity culture than we are, Morgan Freeman is a gray-haired and distinguished-looking African-American actor with an intimidating voice who routinely portrays God or other God-like characters in popular motion pictures, Jack Black is an overweight hipster who until recently convincingly and entertainingly played overweight hipsters in popular comedies, Natasha Lyonne is an actress with offbeat yet fetching good looks who has appeared in a number of critically acclaimed independent movies and as a lesbian prison predator in the Netflix sensation “Orange is the New Black,” Queen Noor is the aging but still-beguiling western gold-digger still married to the King of Jordan, and we still have no idea who the exotically handsome fellow of fashionably unidentifiable ethnic origin is, but none of this causes their well-read statements to make any sense.

Freeman is a convincing enough God, Black is always completely believable and often hilarious as an overweight hipster dude, Lyonne is always fetching in an offbeat sort of way even in her most degrading roles, Noor is an undeniably handsome woman who really is married to the king of a country that surely is high on the list of Iran’s intended targets, and we still have no idea who that exotically handsome fellow of unidentifiable ethnic origin might be, but none of this leads us to believe that a deal that allows an Iranian theocratic dictatorship that makes no secret of its genocidal and ant-western and anti-modernity plans to develop a nuclear bombs to proceed openly with its plans. There’s some talk about how the Iranians love their children as much as westerners do, as though westerners were also strapping suicide vests onto their children, and an implied argument that not allowing Iran to develop a nuclear bomb would cause it provoke a nuclear, and something about crazed Republican congressman working in lockstep with the nefarious Jews to bring about Armageddon, but the gist of it is that these are celebrities making these ridiculous arguments and that should be good enough for the rest of us.
So far these relatively minor celebrities aren’t attracting many “hits” on the internet, and the anonymous likes of Arkansas’ Sen. Tom Cotton, an Iraq War veteran who dealt with Iran’s improvised explosive devices in the the hell of that war, seem to be getting the better of the argument. We surely hope this will prevail, because as God-like as Freeman’s baritone can sound, and not matter how hip Black might seem with his kids and Frisbee, and and no matter how hot Lyonne is in an off-beat and independent-flick sort of way, or how very western Noor is in her own handsome way, or how exotically handsome and unidentifiably ethnic that other guy is, all their arguments lead to an Iranian nuclear bomb. That would be ugly, and not at all funny, or the least bit God-like, and it’s best that the public remain indifferent at best and mildly contemptuous of their of opinions refer to common sense instead.

— Bud Norman

The Worst Deal Ever Gets Even Worse

Several weeks ago we reached the conclusion that the nuclear accord the Obama administration has reached with Iran is the worst deal ever struck in the history of diplomacy, and since then it looks even worse. There have been revelations of contingent side deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran that the administration has signed on to without reading, constant taunts by the Iranians about how they have defeated the western powers and are now free to continue their sponsorship of international terror and pursue nuclear weaponry, and proof that the administration is going headlong into this disastrous deal despite the opposition of a majority of the American public and its elected officials.
The existence of the two side deals was discovered by our very own Kansas’ fourth congressional Rep. Mike Pompeo during a fact-finding mission in Vienna, although he he wasn’t able to learn what the side deals say, just that the administration has apparently agreed to them even though it was also unable to learn what was involved, and given how very awful the known facts of the deal are we’re going to assume the worst about the unknown. In the highly unlikely event that the deals ultimately prove more or less benign there’s still the worrisome fact that the administration is signing off on them without notifying Congress, which strikes us as pretty darned unconstitutional even by the degraded standards of the moment, and the relative lack of attention being paid to this alarming development is an an alarming development in itself.
Then there’s all that gloating by apocalyptic suicide cult running Iran about how it’s nuclear programs and international sponsorship of more low-tech terrorism and general global trouble-making will continue unabated with the blessings of the Americans and their equally gullible western partners. One of the “tweets” by Iran’s “supreme leader” featured a illustration of President Barack Obama committing suicide along with text about predicting the futility of western resistance to Iran’s ambitions of global dominance, which is certainly more extreme than anything the “Tea Party” or any domestic opponents of the administration have ever dared. Even Secretary of State of John Kerry, whose enthusiasm for anti-American barbarism dates all the way back to this days as a hippie protestor of the Vietnam War, admits that he’s “disturbed” by such imagery and language. He’s not so disturbed that he’ll reconsider the disastrous deal he’s made, of course, but it’s a telling admission nonetheless.
Given that this is supposed to be a representative democracy there’s also something troubling about the fact that all the disastrous known deal and the possibly even worse unknown deals are all proceeding despite the fact that a clear majority of the country seems to know better. There are polls that ask the country if they support a deal that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions against that country, with the predictably supportive response, but even those reveal that most Americans somehow understand that this particular deal won’t achieve that that response. There’s perhaps still a slight chance that Israel and the Sunni Arab countries and the western powers within reach of the inter-contentinental ballistic systems that Iran is free to develop under the proposed agreement will somehow survive this awful agreement, but it’s far less likely that our constitutional system of representative democracy will be unscathed.

— Bud Norman