By James A. Kidney Endless wars over dry desert lands.  Ancient Muslim myths promulgated to the young by old men demanding a return to the nomadic life of 700 years ago or longer, an unachievable goal pursued at the cost of those young lives, but not of the old.  If your dreams are not of the nomadic Muslim life as described in the Quran, demand instead that we relive the equally ancient lives recounted in the Old Testament and the Torah, with all the violence, hatred and – again – mythology those texts provide.   In the Middle East, it is easy to find those far more loyal to an ancient, tribal story of division as a substitute for logical and scientific thinking, modern achievement, and a welcoming community. But why not look to restore the past in the Middle East?  The present and a thousand years of history have … Read more of this post . . .

Will the Supreme Court Authorize Open Warfare at the Mexican Border?

By James A. Kidney The Supreme Court appeared split 4-4 Tuesday during oral arguments over whether the family of an unarmed Mexican teenager can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed him.  The agent was on U.S. soil firing into Mexico to kill the boy.  You can find the details here and here.  The matter was being argued before the Court.  A decision is expected by summer.  But the description of the argument raises troubling issues. Foremost among them, but not directly raised in the dignified court arguments 20,000 feet above reality:  Is it OK for the Border Patrol and civilians to kill Mexicans across the border without liability to the families of those murdered, or even to the country whose land was invaded by U.S. bullets? Briefly, an unarmed teen-aged Mexican was playing with friends at a culvert dividing the two countries.  The game was to … Read more of this post . . .

Rules to Live By In Trump’s Autocracy

The day after the presidential election, The New York Review of Books published an online article by Masha Gessen, a Russian and American journalist who was an outspoken critic of the Putin regime, initially for treatment of gays and lesbians and later more broadly.  She moved to the U.S. in December 2013. The article, titled “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” laid out six rules based on her personal experience under Russian autocrats.  You can read the longer article linked here, but these are the rules and part of the descriptions as written by Ms. Gessen.  As Trump recruits his cabinet, condemns our intelligence agencies and appears planning to rule the world with Russian President Putin (“Hey, there are two hemispheres. One each.”), these rules are worth recalling. Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is … Read more of this post . . .

The Democrats:  McGovern Redux?  Really?

By James A. Kidney

bigger fly swatter cartoon

The “top stories” section of The New York Times online this morning featured news articles about “Bill Clinton Unleashes a Stinging Attack on Sanders” and another about Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem criticizing women who support Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton.  All three essentially called female Sanders supporters traitors to their gender – “Aunt Thomasina” rather than “Uncle Tom.”

Bill Clinton also blamed Sanders for internet trolls who, according to Clinton, used vicious, sexist language in online comments directed to female columnists and others, male and female, supporting his wife.  This raises a question:  Has Bill Clinton ever looked at internet comments before?  Does he understand that internet trolls are mostly folks holed up in their basements with no friends?  They are not manning the computers at presidential candidate headquarters.  Those folks instead are sending out bothersome emails about the virtues and pressing financial needs of their own candidates.  Well, Bill has his own server as well as servants, so maybe he doesn’t see email spam.

The cause of these attacks is that young voting-age females in New Hampshire are polling overwhelmingly for the old guy and Clinton is getting desperate in the state.  Young and even middle-aged women don’t seem attracted to the Hillary Clinton drumbeat that, no matter how cozy she is with Wall Street and the Robert Rubin crowd, she is a proud standard-bearer for every self-identified racial and sexual group on the planet demanding its rights — except those who are male, straight and white.

Here is an excerpt from her opening statement at the debate with Sanders last week in which she barely recognized the importance of economic issues and jumped to race and gender, which Sanders has not made a focus of his campaign:

“Yes, of course, the economy has not been working for most Americans. Yes, of course, we have special interests that are unfortunately doing too much to rig the game.But there’s also the continuing challenges of racism, of sexism, of discrimination against the LGBT community, of the way that we treat people as opposed to how we want to be treated.”

[Let’s make it clear that either Sanders or Clinton would be head-and-shoulders better than any Republican running for president.  This was proved conclusively at last week’s Democratic candidate debate – the first in which it was just Sanders and Clinton, head-to-head. It was mostly a mature, thoughtful discussion of issues, with much agreement. Backers of either candidate would be stubbornly wrong-headed to stay home on election day if the other person was nominated instead.]

A key issue in the Democratic race is electability.  It always is for both parties. That is where the attacks on Sanders by Clinton supporters are most pronounced and effective.  The second, and as effective, attack on Sanders is for lack of foreign policy chops. There is merit to the second claim,

Read more of this post . . .The Democrats:  McGovern Redux?  Really?

Why Thanksgiving Is the Best Holiday

By James A. Kidney

            Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It conjures up feelings of family, community, warmth and charity to fortify us against the first chilly days of winter. It celebrates those values as part of the mingling of fact and myth we call the story of the founding of America.

Thanksgiving is an occasion to dress informally in our fall clothes, fresh from storage perhaps, including a comfortable heavy sweater, to watch a football game (once limited to the Lions – now, thankfully, there are more choices), share a drink or maybe even converse, with cellphones securely stored away.  As families are increasingly mobile and distant, generation to generation, Thanksgiving is a time to bring family back together to reminisce and plan the future.  If they are fortunate, grown children and their children alike can be cosseted in the warmth of the family home and parents.THanksgiving

Thanksgiving does not separate us as Americans, but brings us together.  There are no different Thanksgiving days for Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims or other denominations.

Read more of this post . . .Why Thanksgiving Is the Best Holiday

Some Questions About ISIS for Our Politicians (and You)

Here are some questions I wish someone in authority would answer about how the U.S. should proceed against ISIS.  If you have some ideas, please comment here or on my Facebook page. For the President: Isn’t high altitude aerial bombing among the most inhumane ways to proceed in war and guaranteed to slaughter the most innocents? While sending on-the-ground military obviously is more dangerous for the troops, isn’t it the most likely way to actually drive ISIS to ground? Have you explored the possibility of a unified multi-national command to direct a ground and air war against ISIS? If not, why not?  If so, what were the obstacles identified preventing such a command? Some have suggested that you are correct and that a reason ISIS is fomenting terrorism in Beirut and Paris, and threatening Washington, is that it is losing in its homeland and desperate. Do you buy that?  What’s … Read more of this post . . .

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