Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Save So Much Money By Cancelling "War Games" - Trump

First off, military exercises are not games of any kind.

By the same rationale, our hospitals and medical personnel could save a lot of money by cancelling mass casualty exercises. Mass casualties, after all, are very rare. Therefore there is no need to practice.

And there are other ways to save money. Calvin Coolidge, for example, was alarmed at the bill for US Army plans to purchase military aircraft.

"Just buy one airplane," he suggested, "and let the pilots take turns flying it."

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Netflix is showing a TV drama about the CIA employee, Aldrich Ames, who spied for the Soviet Union and later for Russia, who revealed the identities of Russians who provided information to the CIA.

Ames was disloyal. He greatly harmed the US. It is clear from the drama that Russia continued to spy on the US long after the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

I thought the drama was well done and did a good job of revealing the techniques of espionage and counter espionage.

It is by now quite clear that Russia's effort to insure the election of Donald J. Trump as president and prevent the election of Hillary Clinton was a successful espionage effort. It incorporated skills developed in Russia over the centiries by Russian despotic regimes.

I don't claim to be an expert on Russia, though I speak the language pretty well and have studied Russian History, Government and military affairs since about 1957.

Are there any genuine experts on Russia?

Yes. One such expert is Christopher Steele. If I wanted to know what was going on, I would consult him.

Our own most noted home-grown expert on Russia was the late George Frost Kennan, who not long before his death advised against expanding NATO to the east.

He may have been wrong about that, but we should at least have listened.

Back to "Assets."

Over the past several years, it appears that Russia recruited many assets, including many in the Trump campaign.

To understand the dynamics, we need to resurrect some terms from World War II: "fifth column," for example, and "Quisling."

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.