Saturday, April 21, 2018

Read Madeleine Albright

I recently bought a copy of Madeleine Albright's latest book: Fascism.

Like Albright, I lived through much of the Fascist era.

In 1937, it was still uncertain whether Western Democracies would prevail against authoritarian dictatorships.

By 1946 the results were clear! Democracies were stronger.

Historians still debate what was the turning point of World War II?

Was it the Battle of Midway that made victory inevitable? Was it the Battle of Stalingrad? Was it Normandy? Was it the London Blitz?

I personally like the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, but really I believe it was none of these battles.

Instead, I believe it was the signature of the Atlantic Charter at Argentia, Newfoundland on August 18, 1941.

The Atlantic Charter laid the diplomatic foundation for the western alliance and for victory.

Diplomacy is critical.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Nikki Haley Not Confused

With the possible exception of Jim Mattis, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is emerging as the strongest member of Donald J. Trump's cabinet. On Sunday, she announced a strong set of sanctions on Russia, a set of sanctions obviously prepared by the administration. When the president apparently changed his mind, possibly after receiving a complaint from Putin.   Trying to pick up thr pieces, Larry Kudlow (the president's economic adviser who is not an economist) declared that Nikki Haley just got confused.

Nikki Haley made it plain "I don't get confused."

The main conclusion I draw is that this White House would have difficulty organizing a two-car parade.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Scott Pruitt is Really Not From Oklahoma - He's From Kentucky

Neither is James Inhoffe from Oklahoma - he's really from Iowa.

As a native of Oklahoma, who knows there are decent people there, I just don't want to be blamed for anything these fools do.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Russia Meddled: Let's Make Sure It Doesn't Happen Again

Let's be clear. Russia is a hostile power.

The Government of Russia opposes democracy.

Russian government interference in the 2016 US election was an intelligence operation.

Russia interfered in elections in Europe as well as the US.

Putin is a thug and an assassin.

Trump is weak.

Congressional Republicans are feckless.

Get out and vote.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Girl In The Spider's Web

Stayed up late last night reading The Girl In The Spider's Web. The novel, written by David Ladercranz, a well known Swedish author, is the fourth volume in the saga of Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, a very peculiar young woman and experienced hacker. A good thriller series started by Stieg Larsson. Salander's hacker handle is Wasp. This volume reveals that the handle comes from a Marvel Comics female superhero admired by Lisbeth when she was a child.

Reminds me that I read Superman, for example, whose ideals were "truth, justice and the American way." Superman, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior and other superheroes of my generation fought for the betterment of mankind, not for themselves. They did not seek wealth or self aggrandizement, they fostered diversity and cooperation.

Those of us who went to Sunday School learned about the Sermon on the Mount.

We despised dictators and authoritarian figures and valued mutual cooperation.

Internationally, Roosevelt and Churchill laid the foundation for victory in WWII when they signed the Atlantic Charter in August, 1941. Other nations wanted to join in the effort and our alliance was victorious. We joined together to, in the words of Woodrow Wilson, "make the world safe for democracy." That laid the foundation for postwar peace and prosperity.

Keeping that peace was hard work.

Our American Dream was the same as Lincoln's: Government of the People, By the People, and For the People. All of them, not just the white people.

Now we are led by a president who thinks he was elected Dictator.

The Great White Hope.

How did we get to this place?

How do we get out of it?

One thing I know for sure - we can't rely on superheroes. Only we can fix democracy and we'd better start the job right now!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pentagon Papers

We have seen two excellent movies this week. Both are historical dramas.

Darkest Hour is about Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain. What did Churchill do? In the space of a few days in 1939, he mobilized the English language to defend the British Empire and ultimately the western world against a tyrant.  To see (and hear) how he did it, go see The Darkest Hour.

Note that he used language that was both powerful and clean. No obscenities. Not a single word you wouldn't want your children to hear.  Masterful invective. Example: describing a member of his war cabinet as "a sheep in sheep's clothing." That language is powerfully contemptuous but clean as a hound's tooth. We can take lessons from him.

The most powerful weapons in Winston's strategic arsenal in addition to language: 1. imagination; 2. determination.

The second powerful movie: The Post. This is the story of a strong willed woman who took a gamble against great odds and powerful opponents and triumphed. The woman was Katherine Graham, owner and publisher of the Washington Post, whose lawyers and financial advisors counseled prudence. She rejected their advice and turned a local newspaper into a national and international force. If you want a lesson in what the First Amendment is about and how it works, go see this movie.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Some Thoughts After Alabama

I'm an old white guy from Mississippi.

I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two.

Last night I was excited to watch MSNBC interview Patricia Gaines, a white volunteer for Doug Jones on Tuesday who had been a child in Selma in 1961.

The last Time she had been in Selma was the night her family fled in the middle of the night because they had been threatened by the Klan. Her father had been pastor of a white church in Selma who announced that he would welcome black worshipers. In 1961 threats by the Klan were not to be lightly dismissed.

It was exciting to watch how thrilled she was to attend Doug Jones' victory celebration Tuesday night and to celebrate what a good man Alabama has elected. My wife and I shared her excitement.

In 1957, we were students at the University of Mississippi. I was president of the state Methodist Student Movement. We had tried to arrange a social event with an African American choir from a nearby black college who was performing at our church. It was absolutely prohibited by both church and university officials. I know the forces at work and was as thrilled as Patricia Gaines at what just happened.

I knew many courageous students and ministers who spoke up after Brown vs Board of education. Students from all of the major denominations led in examining racial issues. In fact, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission complained that the students who headed each of the religious groups at Ole Miss were integrationists. It was at least true that student religious activists wrestled mightily with the important issues of the day and mostly rejected white supremacy.

Student Christians seem to be freshly addressing these issues. Good.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Strange Case Of Michael Flynn

For anyone who has been following the Mueller investigation, The recent guilty plea by Retired General Michael Flynn was no surprise.

What was a surprise is the lack of professional integrity exhibited by General Flynn.

For that matter, he didn't seem too bright.

How can he not have known that his telephone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak would be monitored?

How can he not have recognized Russian efforts to recruit him to their cause?

He was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency?


To give him the benefit of the doubt, he seems to have had little or no awareness of Russian intelligence methods.

Note to our intelligence officers: Russia is not our friend.

And Putin despises democracy.