Monday, December 19, 2016

A Report Card on the Trump Transition Five Weeks After the Election

Now that Donald Trump has received the necessary Electoral College votes to become President, it may be appropriate to hand out a report card on his first 5 weeks of transition.

I voted for Trump, as I wrote here the day before the election, much to the consternation of many of my family and friends.  But I did it because I believed that Trump was not the crazy, mindless demogogue and bigot that the Clinton campaign and much of the media portrayed him to be.  And because there were quite a few issues that he was addressing (or might address) that I thought to be very important to our future, important enough to sustain the 'slings and arrows' of outrage from my family.  Obviously, I could be wrong about Trump, so I've watched with considerable interest and (at least some) anxiety.

So how are things turning out, now that we've watched Trump begin his transition to the Presidency?

The first thing to consider is his pick for the White House chief of staff position.  Trump had already picked the well-thought-of Mike Pence as his VP, a widely applauded choice in terms of his political experience, intelligence, and overall conservative philosophy.  Now, he selected the head of the RNC, Reince Priebus, who knows everybody in the Republican Party, to be his primary assistant in the Oval Office.  A wise way to start the transition, without a doubt, because this gives you two experienced and conservative Republican professionals right next to him all the time.  For this he gets from me a grade of A+.

The second thing to consider is Trump's choice for Secretary of Defense, certainly one of the most important of the Cabinet positions.  In a very (and unusually) public process conducted in Trump Tower in NYC, Trump finally settled on retired Marine General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis.  This selection has been praised across the board as excellent.  Another A+.

Trump's choice for CIA Director is congressman Mike Pompeo, and it is (like the others) a widely praised selection.  Homeland Security will be led by universally admired General John Kelly.  His UN Ambassador nominee will be Nicky Haley, the very capable governor of South Carolina and the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India.  All of which earns Trump an  A+.

One of the most important Cabinet positions is, of course, Secretary of State, and for that Trump has picked Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.  This choice has been a bit more controversial, primarily because of the recent sensitivities over our relationship with Russia, and Tillerson has a long-standing relationship with Putin because of the Russian oil industry.  However, assuming the second-in-charge under Tillerson is an knowledgeable and experienced State Department pro, then I think Tillerson is an excellent choice, given his extensive knowledge of the world and the world's leaders, and especially in terms of working out a more cooperative and less dangerous relationship with Russia.  I give Tillerson an A+.

I like Jeff Sessions at the Attorney General position, and give him an A+.  This will be controversial because of a statement of his that will be dredged of from 40 years ago, but he should be approved because of his long Senate service and because of his past experience.

When it comes to all the domestic Cabinet positions, they appear to me to be conservative choices who will be in synch with the Republican-controlled Senate and House.  I don't necessarily agree with all their positions, but they seem to be capable people who will definitely bring change to Washington.  And that is probably a good thing, although continued discussion of many of the relevant issues is also a good thing.  I give Trump's domestic picks for the Cabinet a B.

Oddly enough, Trump has managed to sideline three of his earliest and most devoted supporters: Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich.  All three could have done a good job in certain positions, but for different reasons, either were not chosen or themselves chose not to serve.  Probably just as well.

Donald Trump decided to do a 'thank you' tour of the country, especially the states that he needed to win.  It has had the effect of keeping his base on board, while the MSM, along with the Democrats and the Left in general, continue to hammer him.  It also seems to energize him and give him a break from the tedium of the transition.  Probably a good idea.  B.

The one thing I wish (along with most people, according to polls) that Trump would stop is his tweeting.  It is undignified, dangerous, and unnecessary.  For that, and that alone, I give him an F.

All in all, I am pleased (and relieved) with the way the Trump Transition is going (except for the tweets).  I haven't yet mentioned his (to all appearances) good relationship with President Obama.

Contrast all this with the disarray in the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, their contesting of the election through protests and sundry statements, their refusal to take responsibility for their loss, and their pushing of scapegoats.  Compared to all this, the Trump Transition looks like a well-oiled machine!  This is indeed an auspicious sign for the future.



Just Remember this, Mr. Potter

As for the election whiners in Hollywood, trying to change the outcome of the Electoral College with their obnoxious televised appeals, this writer from the American Thinker blog responds superbly....
Imagine a guy who “play acted” as a wartime doctor during the Korean War (when he was actually filming in Malibu Creek State Park in sunny southern California) telling some blind veteran who’s in a wheelchair, missing several limbs because of an IED, that the vote that he and so many have fought and died for shouldn’t count.

Or how about the “celebrity” who “play acts” as a cop from the safety of a sound stage, telling the surviving wife and kids of a “real life” hero patrolman, executed solely for wearing a badge, that their votes shouldn’t count.
 
Well, these real life “play actors” who get paid outrageous amounts for pretending to have skills they don’t, have appeared in a PSA calling themselves “Unite for America” -- really. The PSA should actually be called “Sore Losers”.

With the sound turned off, it looks like a Medicaid ad, but turned up, it is a bunch of whiney liberal “play actors” urging the members of the Electoral College to ignore the law, centuries of fair play and tradition, and do what they say, because Hollywood actors know what’s best for us rabble.

What qualifies these people who have personal assistants, makeup artists, stand-ins, stunt men, plush motor homes, and their specific brand of chilled sparkling water and treats to even think for a second that they are qualified to comment on “real life” issues much less subvert a long standing election process?

Apparently when you “play act” as a ruthless bad guy who goes around shooting as many people on film as you can qualifies you in “real life” to push gun control on the millions of responsible citizens that don’t commit gun crimes.

Perhaps an actress worth countless millions who tells “real life” working moms how tough it is being a “working” “play actress”, having to leave for weeks at a time to make millions qualifies them?

Does working in an industry rife with addicts, alcoholics, and perverts qualify them?

Liberal Hollywood actors are entirely out of touch with reality; overpaid, pampered, egotistical, out of step with regular hard working Americans, yet they somehow feel qualified to act as a force majeure and have the Electoral College consider disregarding their word of honor.

Those of us who go to work every day to take care of our families, often working two or three jobs to pay the bills, buy food and hopefully have enough left over for gas and some extras, have spoken, and after eight years of these spoiled brats getting their way, we are sick and tired of their temper tantrums.

We’re in the trenches, doing it every day, year after year, while whiney “play actors” receive thousands of dollars an hour, yet many Americans would be happy to earn $12.00 an hour.

Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood has produced some great actors, one of the top being Jimmy Stewart. In It’s a Wonderful Life he tells Mr. Potter; “Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community”.

We’re not rabble, you’re just lousy losers.

The Whiniest Democrats Ever

Watching the Democrats (and their allies in the media, academia and, especially, Hollywood) thrash around in pain and suffering after their loss in November's election is a sight to behold.  I have never in my life seen such poor, pathetic sore losers.  And to think that before the election, they and their media friends were so skeptical of Trump's willingness to accept the election results.

It's FBI Director Comey's fault!  It's Anthony Weiner's fault! It's those Fake News sites' fault!  It's White Supremicist Steve Bannon's fault!  It's those young Clinton staffers' fault!  It's Michigan's voting machines fault!  It's Bill Clinton's fault (for being too charismatic)!  It's Vladimir Putin's fault!  It's the Constitution's fault (for setting up the Electoral College)!  Blah blah blah....

Come on, Democrats.  Stop your childish whining!  No one, outside your tight circle, wants to hear it.   It only makes us think less of you than we already do, if that's possible. 

If one wants to 'blame' anyone, obviously that has to rest on the shoulders of one person alone. Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Let the buck stop right there with one of the weakest (or unluckiest, or both) candidates ever to run for President.

Here's a word of advice for Democrats.  Stop trying to blame anyone and look inside your own hearts.  As a national party, you are really in bad shape right now.  But this is a good opportunity to get your house in order.

But that won't happen if you just keep acting like spoiled brats.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rex Tillerson on Life and Work

An interesting video on Rex Tillerson, Trump's possible Secretary of State, in which he presents a lot of information about his background.  Filmed within the last year or two, I think.  At about the 37 minute point, he addresses his relationship with Putin and Russia.  At about the 50-51 minute mark, he talks about climate change.


Robert Kagan and the Fury among Neoconservative Hawks

If you want to read one of the truly hysterical reactions to the election of Donald Trump, read this op-ed in the Washington Post by Robert Kagan.
This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der F├╝hrer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death.
This man has clearly gone off the deep end.  Perhaps the leading neo-conservative foreign policy guru in the United States, Kagan shifts back and forth between the Republican and Democratic Party, depending upon which of their candidates is the most hawkish, especially toward Russia.  In 2008, he supported 'bomb-bomb-bomb' John McCain, and in the 2016, he deserted the Republican Party to become a Democratic supporter of Hillary Clinton, the woman who said about Qaddafi,  'we came, we saw, he died'.

To be this viciously opposed by such a war-monger as Kagan is really a great compliment, actually.  It must mean that you are a peace-maker as heart.  So take heart, DJT!  To be called a fascist or Hitler or tyrant or Napoleon by Robert Kagan, is really a great compliment.

As Oscar Wilde once put it, "you can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies."

Rex Tillerson and Normalizing US-Russia Relations

Let me start this post by stating the obvious.  The United States spies (hacks?) on every important nation around the world, whether it is friend or foe.  Proof?  How soon we forget:
The US National Security Agency tapped phone calls involving German chancellor Angela Merkel and her closest advisers for years and spied on the staff of her predecessors, according to WikiLeaks.

A report released by the group on Wednesday suggested NSA spying on Merkel and her staff had gone on far longer and more widely than previously realised. WikiLeaks said the NSA targeted 125 phone numbers of top German officials for long-term surveillance .

The release risks renewing tensions between Germany and the US a month after they sought to put a row over spying behind them, with Barack Obama declaring in Bavaria that the two nations were “inseparable allies”.
That was just a little over a year ago, and with one of our closest allies.

Now, can you even begin to imagine the spying and other shenanigans that our intelligence community engages in against adversaries like Russia and China (including in their elections)?  I'm sure it would boggle the mind of any normal person.

So, do you really think that anyone in the know in Washington is the least bit surprised that Russia may be spying on us in return?  Isn't that simply what Great Power opponents do?  That's not to excuse it, of course, but simply to explain it and to say that there's little reason to get all up in arms about it.

As Jesus said once, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."

In any case, all the hubbub about Russia is not really about their recent spying, such as it may be.  It is simply one more example of a bigger problem in the Washington foreign policy establishment: an obsession with Russia and its current leader, Vladimir Putin, as if the Cold War had never ended and the Soviet Union had never collapsed.

Frankly, none of this would be under discussion if Trump had not won.  If Hillary Clinton had won, or if any other Republican had won, everyone would be fine and Russia would not be under discussion.  Why?  Because the ongoing demonization of Putin and Russia would have been vindicated by the election, and the bizarre effort to bring us back to a Cold War standing would be ongoing.  It wouldn't need to be discussed in public, because it would be full-speed ahead in private and sub rosa.

The only reason this is now being raised in the MSM is because Donald Trump is threatening to carry out his election promise to begin normalizing our relationship with Russia.  And the first major sign of this is his apparent intention to nominate Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon, as his Secretary of State.

I should reiterate that one of the very first things that attracted me to Trump many months ago was his interest in normalizing our relations with Russia.  As I put it in my post explaining my vote:
The second thing that caught my attention were his statements on Russia. DJT was the only candidate of all seventeen Republicans who didn't try to demonize Russia or paint them as our primary enemy in the world. Instead, he talked respectfully about Russia and their current leader, Vladimir Putin, and emphasized the importance and possibility of working with them as two great world powers, instead of going back to old, now antiquated Cold War stereotypes.

I have in recent years felt like a real outlier in my views on Russia. While the MSM and the political establishment have basically taken to viewing Russia as if nothing has changed from the old days of the Communist-era Soviet Union, and in the process painting Putin as essentially an expansionist tyrant, I see Putin as a talented Russian leader who has brought his great country back from the brink of social, political, and economic anarchy and chaos. And he has done it while rejecting Communism, encouraging the growth of Christianity in Russia after decades of persecution, establishing the basic rule of law, and reaching out to the countries of the world to establish a variety of normal international relationships.

My research on Russia goes back to around the 2012 Sochi Olympics. It was clear that the US was going to effectively boycott those Olympics for all intents and purposes, which led me to do a lot of reading about the issues related to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union and the evolving relationship between the US and Russia. I found myself taking the contrarian view expressed in the preceding paragraph and opposed to this ongoing effort by many in the US Establishment to isolate and demonize both Russia and Putin.

So how is it that Trump shares this contrarian position on Russia? No one seems to be able to explain it, yet I think it tracks better with the reality in Russia and around the world than other views. We don't need to return to a Cold War-style relationship with Russia, and in the process risk a nuclear confrontation. That is truly foolhardy and dangerous.
I am gratified that my instincts about Trump and his interest in a kind of 'detente' with Russia were correct, and that he is actively moving on that front.  The Tillerson nomination has not yet been formally announced, but if it is, I think he will be a fine choice.

On Morning Joe this morning (perhaps the best source of real news--instead of 'fake news'), the panel seemed to believe that Tillerson would be able to survive a tough Senate grilling from the Republican neo-cons (especially McCain and Graham) because of strong support from Republican 'realists' like James Baker, Condie Rice, and Robert Gates (all Bush people).  It helps of course that Tillerson is an oil man from Texas!

I am greatly encouraged by all this.  If all Trump manages to do is to reduce tensions with Russia and get us back on track to a normal Great Power relationship, he will done us all a great favor.


The Russian Hacking BS

So Trump won the election because of Russian hacking?  That's such sore loser bullshit, albeit a very predictable attempt (along with all the 'fakenews' hysteria going on in liberal circles) to, one, avoid seeing the plain truth and, two, try to delegitimize if not overturn Trump's victory.

I mean, who even remembers any of the Wikileaks emails that supposedly Russia supplied to them?  The only one I remember is John Podesta supposedly going to some 'spirit dinner' or something strange like that.  Totally forgettable.

This Russian nonsense is being peddled by the same Russian demonizers--the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, John McCain and the other rabid neo-cons--who have been doing the same thing for years now, seemingly trying to ramp up the Cold War all over again.

The email scandal that actually might have helped Clinton lose was of her own doing, namely her own private email server, the FBI investigation into it, and Jim Comey's public communication about it.  THAT was damaging, without a doubt, and frankly, Hillary's own damn fault.  I fully expect much more information to come out about that in the near future, that will be even more damaging to her long-term reputation.

Perhaps it takes a Canadian to spell out the very plain reasons why Trump won (political scientist Clifford Owen at the University of Toronto, writing in the Globe and Mail):
Donald Trump’s victory was surprising and, to those of us who failed to predict it, downright abnormal. Yet sift through the still smouldering data and you’ll find an election that was in many respects quite normal.

According to the exit polls, 88 per cent of avowed Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton and 89 per cent of avowed Republicans for Mr. Trump. Those leading Republicans who had repudiated Mr. Trump ended up with elephant egg on their faces. It’s a two-party and highly partisan country. (Mr. Trump triumphed among independents, 46 per cent to 42 per cent.)

There was not, overall, any popular upsurge for Mr. Trump. He received about as many votes as Mitt Romney in 2012. Mr. Trump’s votes were just better distributed. He lost Romney voters he could afford to lose (in no-hope states like California and New York, for example). He won Obama voters that Ms. Clinton couldn’t afford to lose, in the “Blue Wall” states of the industrial Midwest, in Iowa and in North Carolina. The surge of white working-class support for Mr. Trump, in urban and rural areas alike, was indeed crucial to his victory.

Was this then the decisive factor in the election? Well, not exactly. It was necessary for a Trump win, but not sufficient. He still had to do better with black and Hispanic voters than Mr. Romney.

He did. With Barack Obama off the ticket – and Ms. Clinton on it – higher percentages of both groups voted Republican last month. Black voters helped Mr. Trump even more by staying home. In crucial Michigan and Wisconsin, Ms. Clinton received an estimated 129,000 fewer of their votes than Mr. Obama, more than Mr. Trump’s combined margin of victory in the two states.

In so close an election presenting a puzzle of so many bits and pieces, we can’t point to any one as decisive. Each, like a winning basket at the buzzer, is so only in the context of all the others, any of which can therefore claim to be as decisive as it. (The first basket counts as much as the last.) It just happened to add up to a narrow Trump victory, in the Blue Wall states and overall.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Generals and the Commander in Chief

It should be kind of hard for liberals to criticize President-Elect Trump for selecting three retired generals for his Cabinet and top staff: Gen. James Mattis for Defense, Gen. Michael Flynn for the NSC, and Gen. John Kelly for Homeland Security.

After all, 8 years ago President Obama chose three retired military leaders for his top leadership posts: retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as national security adviser; retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary; and retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence.

I don't remember any grousing from liberals back then (I was one of them liberals, and I didn't complain then, and I'm not complaining now).

Yet the New York Times said that Trump's "Focus on Generals for Top Jobs Stirs Worries Over Military's Sway."    Slate website asked, "Does Trump Want to Put Generals in Charge of Everything?"  Politico’s Julia Ioffe tweeted: “Three generals and maybe a fourth. Can we just cut to the chase and call ourselves a junta?”   The New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson mused on Twitter: “How many generals do you need in government before you technically become a junta?”

Okay.  Here's why these concerns are misplaced.

In the first place, all these retired military officers are just that....retired.  That actually makes them civilians again, because only 'active' military officers are considered non-civilians.

Whoops.

Second, many of our Presidents, including some of the best ones, were themselves former/retired military officers.

Our very first President, George Washington, had served as the Commander of the Continental Army that won the Revolution for the infant United States.

Abraham Lincoln was a Captain in the Illinois State Militia, back in the day when most abled body men were soldiers in their state militias.

Before he was President, General Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander that won the War in Europe against Hitler.

JFK was a Navy Lieutenant and the commander of a PT boat in the Pacific during WWII.

Jimmy Carter was a Navy Lieutenant, with duty on nuclear submarines.

George H.W. Bush was a Navy Lieutenant and piloted a Aircraft Carrier bomber in the Pacific theatre during WWII.

Of course, many other Presidents have not served in the military, including the two most recent Democratic Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and of course President-Elect Trump.  All the more reason to have former military leaders surrounding them as they make fateful decisions about foreign policy and war and peace.

Third, the military is currently the most respected institutions in the nation.  Why not pick its leadership for key roles in the national government, especially concerned about national security, war, and the military?

Fourth, in terms of the issue about civilian leadership of the military, there should be little concern, it seems to me.  American military officers at all levels understand their place in the constitutional order of our Republic.  Furthermore, there are plenty of checks and balances to constrain any military officer who threatens to misuse his/her power.

Finally, it seems to me that high-ranking military officers are not more prone to go to war, but less so. They know the great risks and dangers of battle, and don't want to go to war unnecessarily.  David French writes in National Review:
Critically, however, if Trump truly listens to his generals, that does not mean that America will necessarily be more interventionist. No one is more familiar with the capabilities and (crucially) limits of American power than the class of officers who’ve been fighting jihad since 2001. No one knows the costs of war more than those who’ve led men in combat or — like General Kelly — lost children in war. The crucible of combat combined with the inherent frustration of fighting an enemy such as ISIS or al-Qaeda has created widely divergent viewpoints among senior officers. The military isn’t an ideological or strategic monoculture....
One last point.  It is well known now that one of the most influential persons on foreign policy in the Obama Administration has been young Ben Rhodes, best known as a speechwriter and writer of fiction.  Perhaps that one of the reasons that Barack Obama's foreign policy record has been widely panned as ineffective or worse.  Give me a general whose actually fought the terrorists and the enemies of the United States any day.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Climate Change, Leo DiCaprio and Donald Trump

Leo DiCaprio and the head of his climate change foundation met with President-Elect Trump, Ivanka Trump and other members of the transition team yesterday in New York:
Leonardo DiCaprio and the head of his foundation met Wednesday with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss how jobs centered on preserving the environment can boost the economy.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Terry Tamminen, the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, confirmed the meeting at Trump Tower in New York City. Tamminen said the pair gave a presentation to Trump, daughter Ivanka, and other members of Trump's team on how focusing on renewable, clean energy could create millions of jobs. 
"Today, we presented the president-elect and his advisors with a framework — which LDF developed in consultation with leading voices in the fields of economics and environmentalism — that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure," Tamminen said. "Our conversation focused on how to create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation."
The Oscar-winning actor has been a strong advocate of fighting climate change and preserving wildlife, and his recent documentary, Before the Flood, addresses the peril that the world faces because of climate change.
So now Trump has met with both former Vice-President Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio, the two leading American faces of concern about climate change (and both liberal Democrats).  It appears to be the initiative of his daughter Ivanka.

That's pretty amazing, given the scoffing on the conservative side of things about the issue of global warming.  It's pretty hard to imagine someone like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio having those meetings in the midst of his busy Presidential transition schedule.

It tells me that Donald Trump is, as many of us have said all along, a pragmatist and not an ideologue when it comes to many national issues of concern.

Of course, it doesn't quite fit the liberal-left narrative that most of the MSM continues to peddle.  For example, even though the meeting happened yesterday, the 'newspaper of 'record', The New York Times, has yet to mention it (or at least I couldn't find any mention in a search I just did of their website, via my digital subscription).  No surprise there, since their anti-Trump narrative continues to dominate not only their opinion columns, but also their news reporting.

And honestly, that drives me crazy, since I've been reading the New York Times since college.  It's one of the reasons why many people don't trust the MSM these days to be fair and objective.  And it's also one of the reasons why 'fake news' can get such traction (literally, for a moment I thought that perhaps this meeting with DiCaprio was one such 'fake news' story, since the NYT wasn't covering it).

No one knows whether these meetings with Gore and DiCaprio will result in any substantial policy in a Trump administration when it comes to environmental issues.  But is it just for show?  Who knows, I sure don't.  But my gut level is that it is significant.  There are plenty of other controversial issues where he's NOT meeting with the 'opposition', so to speak.  This issue of climate change is clearly a serious concern of Ivanka Trump (and her generation), and in this case, I'm glad that she seems to have her father's ear.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Tidal Wave That Was the 2016 Election


It is still hard for me to believe that the Donald beat Hillary a month ago.

Trump had little going for him this year.  At least half of his primary opponents in the Republican Party were either sullen or outright opposed to his nomination and thus refused to give him their support in the general election, which I can hardly ever remember happening before.

Furthermore, much of the conservative punditry were ferociously anti-Trump, including most of the writers of the longstanding conservative journal National Review, the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, and the conservative columnists for the New York Times and the Washington Post.  The only folks for Trump were a few outliers like Matt Drudge, David Horowitz, Breitbart.com, Pat Buchanan, and Sean Hannity, hardly household names for most people.

The mainstream media was almost totally in the tank for Clinton, including the major networks, the cable political shows, and the major newspapers.  Normally there is a half-hearted attempt to appear objective and non-partisan, but not this year.

And then the Clinton machine got revved up and, while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on (mostly scathingly negative) advertising, led in the polls the entire way throughout the entire fall.  By election night, the champagne corks were flying before the counting had even begun.

To top it off, Trump did things that would have sunk any normal candidate, like criticizing John McCain for having been a prisoner of war.  When that happened back early in the primaries, and Trump didn't lose significant support, I knew something unusual was happening here.

A writer for the National Review  (a #NeverTrumper, I believe) put it this way just today:
Donald Trump won while being relentlessly attacked with negative media coverage of his every lie and scandal. He received a variation of every criticism ever thrown at a Republican presidential candidate — the alleged nuclear warmongering of Goldwater, the alleged ignorance of George W. Bush, the alleged erratic temperament of John McCain, the alleged plutocratic greed of Mitt Romney — and was elected anyway.
So how to account for his ability to overcome all of this and still get sufficient states/electoral votes to win?

I wrote back in the fall of 2015, long before the primaries were concluded:
Donald Trump is stirring the pot like no one else has in a long time. Oh yes, there have been the 'flash in the pan' Republicans, starting back in 2012, who rose for a couple of days or weeks to the top of the pile and then shrunk back down out of sight. Just off the top of my head, you had Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and probably others as well. All the while this was going on, Mitt Romney was hovering at the number 2 spot just biding his time.
It looked like the same thing was going to happen this year, and to some extent it has. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and at the present moment, Ben Carson, all have their moments of glory and spotlight, when it looked like they might be capable of moving into the top spot.
But only Donald Trump has been number one and stayed number one, contrary to all the political pundits. Trump is giving them, one and all, fits. And just the other day, on FOX News Sunday, the host Chris Wallace made what was almost a confession when he said something like "I think this guy can win the nomination." And that kind of remark and admission began to heard all other the TV and the internet.
A tidal wave.  That's all I can figure, that this extremely unusual political figure swept through the 2016 election season like a tidal wave, and was in that sense unstoppable.  In one post last spring, I called him a 'force of nature' and that seems to be true.  Like a tidal wave, he unrelentingly plowed through (or around) everything in his path, wreaking much political destruction in his wake.

And now, the tidal wave has receded and we are surveying the damage, trying to understand the new landscape before us.  And trying to get our lives back together after this freakish event.

To put it in more political/human terms, Trump rode a humongous wave of national discontent, anger, and resentment that had been seething out there in the heartland.  He was its embodiment, its expression, and its incarnation.  Many say that it was primarily an economic anger, but I tend to disagree.  Yes, it was partly economic, without a doubt, but I think it was more cultural and nationalistic (especially regarding illegal immigration), a rising up against political elites who they saw as out-of touch and threatening.  It was, as someone put, half of the country flipping the establishment the bird, along with a loud 'go to hell'.

You can slice and dice the political game any way you want, criticize Hillary and her staff for this or that, but in the end, I think it came down to the tidal wave.  Now we have to recover our sensibilities, gather our belongings and start rebuilding.

Monday, December 5, 2016

General James Mattis on War

I found this extended interview with General James Mattis, Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense.  I'm not sure of the date of the interview but it's certainly within the last couple of years.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

General Mattis to be the Secretary of Defense in a Trump Administration

President-Elect Trump has picked Gen. James Mattis to be his nominee for Secretary of Defense.  Everybody seems very pleased with the selection (as the video below amply demonstrates).

This was a very important pick in terms of allaying the fears of many in Washington and around the country about Trump.  It's becoming quite clear that the President-Elect is going about the selection of his Cabinet with the kind of consideration, thoughtfulness, openness, and generosity that is, honestly, shocking his enemies and greatly pleasing his friends and admirers.

It bodes well for the next four years.  In military matters, weakness invites disrespect, contempt, and aggression, while strength commands respect, caution, and, hopefully, peace.

This Cabinet selection, along with a number of others, puts the lie to the notion that Trump is some kind of mindless boob, as portrayed on the late night 'comedy' shows like SNL here.  To those with eyes to see, it's been clear for a long time that Trump is an intelligent, energetic, pragmatic businessman (and now politician), as I wrote here over a year ago.  But of course, it was much more fun for the press and his political enemies to ridicule and make fun of him.  Fortunately, those days are now over.

My previous post on General Mattis from two weeks ago, with some of his famous sayings, is here.