HELLO

Whether you're a fan of my OSCARBLOGGER site, or if you're just casting your way 'round the web, I hope you enjoy my new blog: WHISPERING IN A WIND TUNNEL. Here I will discuss issues of politics, religion, race, gay rights, gender, you know, the big stuff.

Monday, January 30, 2017

WELL, THAT WAS FAST





It is generally believed that the first 100 days of a new presidency  is a real make or break period, in which a generally positive feeling from the public combines with new cabinet members to make some real changes in both the country and the world.  If that's true, the next 90 days are going to be hellish.
Donald Trump spent the first week of his presidency lying about the size of his inauguration, attacking the media, and lying about how he would have won the popular vote if millions of  undocumented  immigrants hadn't illegally voted.  (While defending that last claim, Sean Spicer, the president's press secretary, was reduced to saying the president "believes what he believes", without any proof whatsoever.)
He also signed a number of executive orders (while Republicans who once attacked Obama for signing such orders were strangely silent).  Most of them passed with some debate in the media but there was not a lot of outcry; and then came last Friday when the president signed an  order entitled "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States".   And with that, ten days into his presidency, with all the dignity of a hippopotamus trying to tap dance, Trump  hit his first Constitutional crisis.
The order indefinitely suspends the resettlement of Syrian refugees, and temporarily bans all people from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the US.  One of the worst of many lies that Trump stated on the campaign trail was the notion that refugees from Syria were not being vetted before entering the country; they are, in fact, heavily vetted in a process that lasts over a year.  And now many of them, who are literally fleeing for their lives, are having the door to safety shut in their face. Just how far this ban extends has already become debatable, with green card holders initially shut out, and then later allowed.  Trump has said it not about religion, but the fact that it makes exceptions for Christians from those banned countries shows what a lie that is.  It's also mysterious that of the seven countries that are banned, none of them have any ties to Trump's economic empire, but countries that do have such ties  are not on the list.  Saudi Arabia, for example, where 18 of the 19  terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 came from, is not  on the list; according to the New York Times, recent financial disclosures showed that Trump had several limited liability corporations there.  What could possibly be worse about this order?  How about that it was signed at the behest of White House Advisor Steve Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News, an "alt right" white supremacist web site.
It should also be pointed out that this order is terrible even when the war on terror is considered: this kind of divisive, America against all Muslims move plays into the very West Vs. Middle East ideas promoted by ISIS and other terrorist groups, aiding their recruitment.  If America is ever going to win the war or terror, it can only be done with the help of Muslims standing up to terrorism with us.  This order alienates many potential allies.
On Saturday, a federal judge ruled that people already in airports in the US  could not be deported, but the ruling stopped short of taking on the very Constitutionality of the order.  Legal challenges will inevitably continue, and hopefully the whole thing will be thrown out.  Also, the chaos of the order has lead to enormous protests taking place in airports nationwide; this marks the second massive protest against President Trump only ten days into his first term.  And I say, keep up the pressure America.   Let the world know that our president does not speak for all of us.

Monday, January 23, 2017

NO SURPRISE






President Trump's advisor Kellyanne Conway recently gave an interview in which she defended him by coining an interesting term:"alternative facts," as in, you have your reality with your set of truths, and we have ours. Alternative facts could be the perfect term for Trump's entire political career.  While anyone who thinks they can be president has to have a sizable ego, It's clear that Trump's is so big that when he believes something to be real, he honestly thinks it must be, evidence be damned.  So if his inauguration had less people than Obama's, he can just say that the media is lying about it and leave it at that.   This  worldview has some frightening ramifications; in his inauguration address he painted a view of America in "carnage", wracked with violence and unemployment.  Even though violent crime is mostly down in this country, and unemployment is also low, his unrealistic,  almost apocalyptic view of the country means we may be in for an increase in tough on crime laws that could swell our already bloated prison population, combined with roll backs of "job killing" environmental  regulations that will make our air and water less clean and contribute to climate change.
And that's just of the tip of the iceberg that he could be steering us into; Trump clearly intends to be the same kind of president that he was a candidate.  Which means he will lie, insult and boast constantly, which was bad enough before, but now that he has the biggest military in the world behind him, could bring disaster on a global scale (his apocalyptic world view could become a reality!). Honestly, the best thing we can hope for with him is that his well documented short attention span will keep him from focusing too much on one thing, and that he will spend most of his time giving speeches in front of adoring crowds or engaging in pointless twitter wars with celebrities, while his more mature cabinet members (extreme conservatives  though they may be) actually engage in running the country.    It's depressing to think that former Exxon CEO and soon to be secretary of state Rex Tillerson may be all that stands between America and World War III, but here we are.

If anything positive can come from Trump's victory, it's that he has united and enraged the world against him; last weekend saw the women's march against Trump bring in what might have been the biggest protest in American history, with thousands more marching in cities like London, Paris and Berlin.  Let's hope this anger doesn't dissipate; really, what the left needs to do is what the Tea Party group did so effectively against Obama back in 2010: outspoken protest combined with electing congressional candidates who pledge to keep the president in check.  If they can somehow claim a mandate against a president who won the popular vote, then certainly the left can against one who didn't!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

HOW LEGITIMATE WAS THIS ELECTION?



And in another odd turn, the  CIA has submitted direct evidence that Russian hackers, working on the orders of  leader Vladimir Putin himself, hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee with the express purpose of undermining the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.  This raises the truly odd notion that for the first time ever, both the FBI and the KGB were on the same side, working to influence the election of the most powerful person on the planet.  In typical Trump fashion, the President-elect first denied Russia's involvement, going so far as to berate the CIA and compare their findings to their failed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq back in  2003.  But after a full on information briefing for him and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, even Trump himself has admitted that the DNC hacking came from Russia.
So just how much influence on the election did Putin have anyway?  We'll never really know, but it's undeniable that the leak of thousands of emails from the DNC, and their inevitable inspection and analysis by the media, dominated the headlines for weeks during the election.  Even though there was nothing criminal in them, and only a few things that could be considered truly embarrassing, to Clinton they put the words "Clinton" and "emails" next to each other in headlines, and that was enough to implant  the idea that she was somehow corrupt in the minds of voters.  This was then exploited by  Trump and his supporters gleefully, with chants of "lock her up" in regards to Clinton echoing through his speeches.  So Putin definitely had some influence.
Things get even stranger when one considers that Trump's refusal to release his tax returns (which, sadly, never became the major issue that it should have) may very well reveal that he has enormous financial dealings with Russia.  In fact, Trump's son Donald Jr. according to the Washington Post, in a posting on the website of eTurboNews, once said at a real estate conference in 2008, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets."  He also added "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."  Surely  Putin was aware of  that money pouring in, and he knew that he could use it  to leverage Trump, if Trump were elected, into dropping economic sanctions put in place by the Obama administration after Russia tried to annex Crimea.  Yes, it is entirely possible that we have a president who will ignore enormous human rights violations because he wants to protect his own wealth.  This may very well be true, and it's breath taking.  And something even a Republican congress should investigate.
While, sadly, there is no way to overturn the presidential election, can the country just agree that Trump is now a deeply weakened president with little to no mandate? When you  combine this hacking revelation with the fact that he lost the popular vote by three million people, how could anyone other than Trump himself come to that conclusion?