Monday, April 10, 2017

Eleven Weeks In

Did President Trump have to be the one to enforce Obama’s red line? I’m not sure. No one else would act to punish Syrian President Assad for using chemical weapons. Ideally, it would be the United Nations, but nobody has taken them seriously since Korea. How about we just quit the UN, tell them to leave New York City and go somewhere else — like Brussels maybe? That city can have two useless international bureaucracies to COEXIST with the 300,000 Muslims who live there. Can you picture it? One big, multicultural city full of smiling, happy people holding hands? It’s a  fitting image for the capitol of the EU and the UN, right? Just watch out for airport bombers and careening trucks.
Trump let the world know last week that he’s not Barack Obama, and that’s worth something. He’s not a wuss and he’s not predictable. Now Kim Jong Un can worry that Trump might do to him what he’s threatening to do to us — at any time. Iran can worry too. It won’t likely capture any more US sailors in the Persian Gulf with President Trump as commander-in-chief. All that is great.
It’s not good, however that Trump has put US Marines in Syria. That is contrary to what he said during the campaign. A month ago I wrote about the danger:

[Ethnic groups like the] Sunni Kurds, for example, are a minority in the border areas of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey — all of which, along with Russia now, are fighting ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Kurds want to be a nation-state too, but none of the aforementioned countries will cede them their ancestral territory which overlaps all. The US is arming Kurds. Last week, President Trump put US Marines on the ground in Syria. US soldiers must now fight alongside all these groups — some of which are still fighting each other — against ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot could go wrong, of course, especially after last week’s missile attack. Trump got a lot of votes promising not to mess around in the Middle East without a clear US national interest. Sending in the Marines contradicts his “America First” rhetoric.
Among the sixteen Republicans running in 2016, Trump was my last choice, below John Kasich. He won the nomination and I resigned myself to vote for him, but I wrote several columns detailing my concerns last fall. I won’t go into detail again here: suffice it to say that Hillary was “the devil you know” and Trump was “the devil you don’t,” but I went against the prevailing wisdom that the devil you know is preferable. However Trump turns out, I figured, he wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Hillary would be.
People from different parts of the country who read those columns wrote me about their support for Trump. He alone, they claimed, had guts enough to kick a** in Washington. He certainly had the confidence, but my misgivings remained. Democrats and Republicans both needed serious a**-kicking, yes, but would Trump be the best one to do it? I’m still not sure.
During transition, he picked an outstanding cabinet but it also became evident early in that process that Obama was laying mines for him. Days before his term ended, Obama signed an executive order making wiretap transcripts of Trump campaign officials available to hundreds of people in sixteen different intelligence agencies. This made leaking hundreds of times more likely. If that wasn’t Obama’s intention, it’s hard to imagine what was. Democrats and Mainstream Media — please excuse the redundancy— were, and are, out to get Trump, no question. They’ve pulled out all the stops, but Trump is fighting back and they’re not used to that. They coined the term “fake news,” to use against him, for example, only to have Trump immediately turn it around on them. That was brilliant.
Trump’s inaugural speech was wonderful, echoing what he promised during his campaign. Many of his tweets, however, reflect an obsession with inaugural crowds and the number of electoral votes he got compared to other recently-elected presidents. His claims were obviously erroneous and they undercut his leadership. I found myself wishing his advisors would take his phone away or at least temper his impulsivity. It’s embarrassing. When asked my opinion of our president lately I say I still don’t like him, but I like what he’s doing — except for the tweets and the troop deployments.
We’re eleven weeks in now. Here’s Trump’s report card from this former teacher:

Domestic policy  — A. He reversed most Obama executive orders and is enforcing immigration 

Economy — A. He’s reducing needless regulation and spurring energy development.

Foreign policy — C. He started well, telling other countries he’s putting America first, but he’s made some risky moves lately.

Deportment — D. He’s impulsive and he doesn’t play well with others.


Anonymous said...

You still don't get it. The war on Syria is a complete fraud as was the war on Iraq. Bush and the Neocons started our outright imperialism in the Middle East with the invasion of Iraq. Obama and the Neocons continued it. Trump was supposed to be an antidote to Neocon foreign policy. This recent turn of events is disappointing. It remains to be seen if this is a one-off event or if it signals a real change in US policy towards Syria.

There are only two reasons the US is involved in the Middle East: 1) control over oil and gas resources (including pipeline routes) and 2) defense of Israel. Everything else is just a public relations cover.

Brian said...

I knew I was in for a doozy when I read the opening line: "Did President Trump have to be the one to enforce Obama’s red line?"

Oh, suddenly some predictable hypocrites come out of the closet...

In August of 2013, after Assad used chemical weapons in a similar scenario against people in the Syrian city of Ghouta, Obama requested congressional permission to launch air strikes against the Assad regime.
Many Republicans opposed his request. One of the most prominent was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Friday tweeted out his support for Trump's strike. As for Trump himself? Here are some of his tweets:

What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
2:14 PM - 29 Aug 2013

“What I am saying is stay out of Syria,” Trump added days later. “AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER,” he emphasized, “DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!”

Hmmm. I guess things have changed. Not with the latest US bombings though. That changed nothing. The place is up and running again minus a hanger or two.

As for the claim that Obama rigged the system with the NSA to make it tough on Trump, c'mon, do a little simple research. For example if you actually read the link you gave about this matter, then you would see the following:

"The change was in the works long before there was any expectation that someone like Trump might become president. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent"


And you give good marks to Trump for enforcing immigration. How? What is he doing that the previously called "Deporter-in-Chief" wasn't doing? Trying to get taxpayers to pay for his delusional, (and supposedly Mexican paid for) "great, big, beautiful Wall"?

What will be the result of Trump and his getting rid of "needless regulation", which you praise hime for? Well, living and loving and wandering frequently through our surrounding woods, rivers, lakes, mountains, etc, I hope for the best, and that this beauty will be experienced by many generations to come, but the early signs shown by Trump are discouraging. Unless, that is, you are one who places a greater value on the profits of some pollution spewing corporations than in all of that nature stuff. Then things are looking up. Oh, but some of that will "trickle down" to the common folk, right? You still trying to swallow that crap? You think our economy can't thrive and be good to the environment at the same time? Does it sound like some "coexisting" hogwash to you. What a strange mindset, to actually be offended at the very notion of trying to live together peacefully. Because it is pie-in-the-sky? Because it is an "un-achievable" heaven? Set your limits of what we can accomplish at a low bar if you want, but why scoff at those that strive higher.

As usual, I doubt you can muster a response to the many questions posed. Which is a loud answer in itself.

Tom McLaughlin said...

If you're a local, Brian, why don't you come on my TV show? We can discuss things face to face for a whole hour.

Anonymous said...

Tom admits to several examples of Trump's complete and utter disregard for truth and facts, but thinks the "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" defense to be "brilliant. Some people haven't risen past 3rd grade modes of thinking.

Brian said...

The TV thing would not be very convenient for me. It would be more tempting if you ever showed any signs of defending any of your initial statements...I don't buy that you can only do that on TV and not online. But just in case it does becomes possible for me, what days are these shows taped?

Tom McLaughlin said...

Every other Wednesday, but we can be flexible. When are you available?

Brian said...

I'm just not convinced it would be worth going out of my way and being inconvenienced, when the same thing can be accomplished here. I also have a minor phobia of being in the spotlight, public speaking, that sort of thing. So I think I will just be content with poking holes in your columns and allow my unanswered questions to speak for themselves. Thanks for the offer though.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Ok, but I'm not inclined, nor do I have time, to engage in back-and-forth commentary with you and the rest of the commenters. I'll make an occasional comment, but my time is spent working on my book and writing weekly columns.

If you change your mind, my email is posted at the top of each page.

I am looking for another left-winger to fill in for Gino on the program from time to time, so if you have liberal friends who may be willing, please tell them to contact me.

Anonymous said...

"...but my time is spent working on my book and writing weekly columns."
And apparently, spiffing up the blogsite!

Tom McLaughlin said...

Yeah. That took several hours yesterday. A cybernerd I am not. It was very frustrating at times, but I finally figured it out.

Anonymous said...

Nobody believes you don't have time to take a minute or two to defend your beliefs. I am sure you are not "inclined" to for the simple reason that you can't.

Brian said...

Trump is not a wuss?

In the words of the National Review, Trump is a "yuuuuuuge, preposterous little trust-fund wuss. The man is not really a “fighter” or an “alpha male” or an iron-cored “enemy of political correctness.” He’s a thin-skinned performance artist whose peculiar shtick falls to pieces the moment someone useful elects to return a punch.

Why else is he a complete wuss? By wussing out of Vietnam by claiming that bone spurs hurt his little footsies.

The guy is a thin-skinned, blubbering, big wussy baby.

Anonymous said...

"Trump let the world know last week that he’s not Barack Obama"

He certainly isn't. He will go down as one of the worst presidents in history, while Obama will go down as one of the greats.

Anonymous said...

Trump himself used to have the very same naive opinions about the UN as Tom, until he found himself in a position that allowed him to see their importance. But still, I'm sure people like Tom somehow magically know more about this.

Anonymous said...

NATO, China, Russia, Syria, abortion, hiring new federal workers, Export-Import Bank, Yellen, gay marriage, kicking out all illegals, electoral college, torture, etc etc etc. It is very hard keeping up with the positions of the King of the Flip-Floppers.

Brain said...

Seems strange that a guy who supposedly wanted to "drain the swamp" has now reversed the Obama policy calling for transparency concerning visitors to the White House. In an unabashed move to secrecy, big donors,lobbyists, and special interest groups can now have unknown levels of influence in the White House. If Obama had pulled this.....oh, the outrage!