Musings from George

Immigration, moral authority, and the military
November 1, 2017, 9:04 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

For anyone who has spent time in a nursing home, or has cared for an aging parent, this article about foreign-born caregivers will bring tears to your eyes. The nurses in Saudi Arabia were all Filipino when I was there (yes, in Riyadh) and the caregivers in my mother’s nursing home were all born elsewhere. The love of family and the religious faith that is common in these cultures is much needed today in our country at war with itself.

As #TraitorTrump swirls down the toilet, it is disturbing to see General Kelly not only defending #DodgerDonny, #GroperInChief, but amplifying the little man’s worst instincts. Belittling a woman for criticizing #DodgerDonny’s insensitive comments to a Gold Star widow is no more attractive coming from a four-star general than it was from an odd little orange-hued man. The great respect that the general has earned is squandered when he takes up politics — he is no better than the viewpoints he projects. When a general says that the right level of immigration is between zero and one each year, he insults the many immigrants in our armed forces and he insults our history. When he likens the bloodiest, most divisive period in American history to a “misunderstanding”, he insults the memory of US forces that defeated the Confederacy and ignores the travesty of slavery that the south (and the Confederacy) were built upon. Treating people like cattle was never okay, and “compromise” after “compromise” (see Missouri Compromise if you really are that ignorant #RacistTrump, #IncuriousPOTUS) just kicked the can down the road. Kelly’s observation that Lee chose his state (Virginia) over the United States of America is exactly the problem he ignores — Lee was a great man, AND he was a traitor. Traitors don’t get statues, sorry.

This presidency is slowly gas-lighting all of us, with #DodgerDonny always pointing to a distraction (“Uranium One!” “Clinton Foundation!”) to keep us from seeing the corrosion and treason that underpins his family and his administration. Traitors, tax cheats, and liars … oh my! We can only hope that Papadopoulos was wearing a wire, which would be a  true comeuppance for #LyinDonny who keeps claiming to have evidence that he remembered La David’s name. It stands to reason that #DaftDonny would stumble on that name, since he probably doesn’t have many friends named La David.

Kelly stumbles and reveals his true inner feelings about immigrants and racists (“good guys on the other side” … where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, #NaziDonny). There goes the argument that the #AdultDayCare is actually run by a serious patriot — it’s just an echo chamber of incurious racists, slowly tearing down the functions of government run by those who hate government. It will be a long four years if Mueller doesn’t find something good soon.

WTF? Trump has no connection with reality
February 17, 2017, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics, Uncategorized

TRUMP: “I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our that representatives are representing.”

Is this supposed to be the president of the United States, representing all Americans, or is this the man trying to satisfy the minority of the voters that chose him over Hillary? As he rants about his electoral win (fact: smaller than either of Obama’s), he just keeps proving his disconnect from reality.

He repeals (through executive order) lots of hard work by others who have come before. He creates Chaos, and then decries the chaos. He has done NOTHING positive or proactively for the United States. He apologizes for Russian transgression, dances around Flynn’s crimes, and grandstands about leaks. He begs Russia to leak Hillary’s email, but he cries “treason” when his own actions are revealed in public.

It’s not fake news. It’s a fake President. If our elected leader cannot accept provable facts, why do we endure this clown? Why does he think his golden showers, or his angry phone calls with Mexico and Australia, are going to remain confidential.

Here’s a clue: DON’T LIE if you will be embarrassed by the truth when it is revealed.You are a duplicitous, two-faced liar and history will record (and we will enjoy) your disastrously short stint as a minority-elected leader. You are a loser. You are FIRED.

February 2, 2017, 1:18 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

My ears hurt each time I hear the Trump minions cite Obama’s decision to label some countries as sponsors of terrorism as the reason to oppress them.

We all knew Nazi Germany was bad, but we didn’t cite that as the reason we should not accept refugees from the countries that Nazi Germany invaded. That stain on our national history persists, and Trump is doubling down on it (and borrowing the clarion call that resonated then — let the poor b**tards burn, we are looking out for our own!)

Trump has been manipulated again by Bannon, who despises Jews and Muslims. As long as our President lets Bannon man the bully pulpit, we will get policies that many Americans abhor. We lost the electoral college, but … “have you no decency, sir?”

My call: we need three rational Republican Senators to defeat DeVos — are there three rational Republicans left in the nasty stew of Bannon and the Tea Party? We’ll know soon.


1984 – Pence / anyone in 2017!
January 28, 2017, 10:17 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Nonprofit, Politics

From the NYT today (yes, I do):

For Ms. Goodwin, Mr. Trump’s week of reality distortions brought to mind Lincoln’s address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 27, 1838, where he made an appeal to Enlightenment values as the best antidote to what he called the “mobocratic spirit.” “Reason — cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason — must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense,” he said.

“He was worrying about authoritarian behavior,” Ms. Goodwin said.

Many of us who precede the web thought that equal access to information would drive more intelligent conversations. We fell for the appealing illusion that everyone wanted to be better educated, and that an educated citizenry would be an enlightened citizenry. We felt sorry for those poor ignorant citizens repressed by rulers and fed a state-sponsored version of the truth. Citizens of the USSR didn’t know they were poor, aging alcoholics; North Koreans didn’t know they were starving. We though that the truth would make them free.

The joke’s on us. Trump has enlisted support (even begged for it on the air) from the Russian government to expose other’s truths, while refusing to reveal his own. His promise to release his tax returns if he got the nomination turned out to be as worthless as shares in his casino empire. His gag orders in settled law suits outnumber his properties, and his conflicts of interest radiate to many countries (notably, he has no business interests in the countries from which he banned immigrants; notable as well is that none of those countries were involved in 9/11, and the countries that *were* are not on the list).

So, what to do? Bloomberg suggests that residents of five states could make a huge difference by letting their Senators know that they need the health care delivered by ACA

Five Senators are willing to break with Trump on ACA. We need to contact all of them, and donate to all of them.

Bob Corker of Tennessee, 
Rob Portman of Ohio, 
Susan Collins of Maine, 
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and 
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska 
Trump’s executive order denying funds for any organization that provides health care is equally disturbing. The best way to counter this is to donate to those very organizations. Here are a few that will be affected, give if you can “in memory of” Trump:
National Public Radio (and find your local affiliate and give there)
Doctors Without Borders (because they are where the bombs are falling)
While the rallies last weekend were reassuring, we woke up to #DopeyDonald and his flurry of ill-planned executive actions.
Last, we *must* support those who deserve justice for Trump’s past sexual misdeeds. The precedent was set by the Senate when they prosecuted Clinton. My outreach to Gloria Allred failed — if someone can convince her office to run a GoFundMe account to enable every woman who was (and will be) mistreated by Trump to seek justice, many of us would like to do our part. We don’t need Peter Thiel if we get enough well-intentioned people to act — Gawker was less offensive than Trump is and will be.

Former ‘Apprentice‘ contestant Summer Zervos filed a defamation suit in NYC Tuesday, claiming Trump defamed her when he publicly called her a liar, claimed the assault never happened and referred to her allegation as “totally made up nonsense.”

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, she also calls him out as a “sexual predator.”

The suit goes on to claim Trump used his platform as a presidential candidate to denigrate and verbally attack Zervos and other accusers.

She’s asking for a retraction and/or an apology, plus damages.

Zervos and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced the lawsuit with a news conference … where she reiterated her claim Trump sexually assaulted her during a 2007 business meeting.

Stumbling towards misery
January 5, 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

We all know that elections have consequences, and many of us have been waiting for the Trump shoe to drop. It is hard to react to Tweets, since many contradict each other and are intentionally vague. But it is clear that we have elected a petulant buffoon who is going to antagonize our potential allies with his 140-character burps late every night. It is hard to accept that the leader of the free world views Julian Assange as a more credible source than … the heads of every US intelligence office.

Trump has chosen to antagonize just about everyone, except Putin. He has insulted career diplomats and intelligence officials, fought against the party establishment, and pissed on just about every precedent from modern history (1. Keep your mouth shut during the transition; 2. Treat those in power with some respect; 3. Accept decades of established wisdom in China and Israel until you really have a plan). It is time to say … gee, Donald, until we see your tax returns and understand your conflicts of interest we are going to oppose you every step of the way.

How can anyone accept Trump’s assertion that Julian Assange (a traitor, liar, and fugitive) could be the source of information so valuable that Trump can say “I know things no one else knows!”? The clown elected to lead the circus is now bringing out the spotted dog and calling him a hyena. We know Assange is a duplicitous traitor LIVING IN RUSSIA, protected by Putin. How can anyone (even a buffoon) think that this exiled traitor is a more reliable source than the many paid professional intelligence officers in the US government?

It is time to be afraid of Trump, and to figure out what opposition is most effective and least disrespectful. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. A wealthy American could choose to fund every suspended lawsuit against Trump ever filed. Bonus points for buying the true story behind any settlement with a gag clause (where Trump pays someone like Ivanka not to tell her side of the story);
  2. Gloria Allred should file twelve sexual assault charges tomorrow. The Republicans established the precedent with Bill Clinton (a sitting President who had to sit for depositions over Paula Jones), and the Democrats need to develop the guts to use the same razor against Trump.
  3. FORCE Trump to reveal his taxes. Offer a reward to Guccifer or Assange for posting recent Trump taxes online, even if he trusts them to couriers with wax seals … someone has them.
  4. FORCE Trump to divest his holdings, or sue him (more precisely every member of his extended family) every day for conflict of interest. Each meeting with a foreign leader should result in a new lawsuit; each seat at the meeting with Silicon Valley titans should have been rented out at $400M per seat, the Trumps owe $1.6B (and are again, bankrupt).

That’s all the anger I can muster tonight. Trumps BS this week about his secret sources and insider knowledge being revealed as Assange is a bridge too far. Who can defend this buffoon, and why do they keep trying? I really hope that he collapses like Sarah Palin did, and just resigns so we can move forward without him.

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst-


A week later, some perspective
November 14, 2016, 9:17 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

We have spent a few late nights with friends, sharing drinks and perspectives. It has been helpful to hear what others have heard from friends and family, and to get the salient summary of things they have read.
Brett Miwa offers a great summary here, which is well-written and informative. He points out that a majority of white women opted for Trump, which is something I had not realized.
Interesting observations from others include concern about the death of the Voters Right Act, with significantly fewer people voting in certain states that tried hardest to restrict voting. The drop in participation was greater than Trump’s margin of victory in every swing state, and fewer people voted for either candidate than voted for Romney four years ago.
The Democratic party has suffered the largest ever loss of power during Obama’s reign — more Republican governors and congressmen than ever before.
The last time the Republicans had complete control (under George W), we ended up with the Great Recession and two un-funded wars. A surplus in 2000 turned into a huge deficit and fiscal meltdown by 2008.
Yet we are one nation, undivided. This statement from the California Democratic leadership leaves me wondering how they can ignore the voice of the nation, and why they cannot look at the blue / red split by county in our own state and recognize that our neighbors share the same frustration (for varied reasons) that so many others do around the country.

I noted last week that Bush’s reelection in 2004 left me speechless for many reasons. A week of listening to new voices and perspectives has led me to accept that many are not living my happy life, and their concerns are urgent and painful. While some of us can lament global warming, some are unable to find a job that they want or which will do more than pay the bills. One paycheck or injury away from homeless, burning coal doesn’t seem all that bad.

We’ll see how Trump rules, which starts with the team he names. We may find that he has the courage of Lincoln, and that he recruits a team of rivals to field an awesome cabinet. Maybe he can renegotiate deals that have changed the world, despite his party’s commitment to those principles of free trade and open markets. Perhaps unleashing innovation in education will work this time.

We owe it to democracy to give Trump a chance to succeed, and I sincerely hope he does.

Random Walk
September 18, 2016, 12:21 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Random walk

I just commented on an article in the NY Times, and thought it was time to write more than 140 characters or 1500 words about important topics.

KPFA is a local NPR station that does amazing things on its own small budget. One of their most popular services is interviewing very smart people in town-hall settings in Berkeley, California. Berkeley is one of the most liberal communities in the world, and people who like to be interviewed by KPFA tend to be pretty liberal.

I donated to KPFA this year, as I find their appeals hard to resist (are you listening? have you paid? freeloader!!). One of the gifts for donating was a USB thumb drive with almost four hundred interviews with interesting people, a gift of serendipity for a person with no ability to seek out those interesting people or to read their books.

Two retired CIA employees were interviewed as one of these many informative talks. The man had spent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and he was fairly blunt about our (the US government’s) prospect of success there: zero. What we portray as a democratically elected government fighting a terrorist organization is better represented as our decision to support our puppet in power (a Tajik) against the majority of the population (Pashtuns). Together with some additional powerful tribes (Uzbeks, Hazaras), the mix in Afghanistan looks oddly familiar (think Iraq) and equally unsolvable.

We drop bombs, we write checks, and occasionally an American soldier dies doing something that he / she believes is important. In the grand scheme of things, we are NOT helping. We prop up a minority-led government, we kill at times indiscriminately, and we get nothing in return.

Status quo is attractive. Inertia is powerful. But we really should *stop* doing things that do not benefit us. Even one more dollar, one more death is too much. I understand the Pottery Barn rule (you break it, you bought it) but that is capitated at the cost of the item you broke. We clearly did not break $850 BILLION in assets in Afghanistan … let’s cut our losses, bring home the troops, and make friends with the Pashtuns. Let’s stop buying heroin, and see if they plant fewer poppies. Hunting down their leaders, who have no argument with the US, is a waste of time and money.

I’m just saying …