Monday, February 20, 2017

Red Scare, Yellow Peril

It seems there is a revival from the 50’s! Bobby stockings? No. Drive In’s and soda fountains? Nah. Elvis? Maybe on some oldie stations.

No, what I’m talking about is the Red Scare! We also had the Yellow Peril back then. Mao Tse-tung was the leader of the Communist party in China until he died in 1979 and was its Chairman during the 50’s. He was a bad guy until Richard Nixon opened up normal relations with the People’s Republic of China starting in 1972. So they’re OK today.

But the Reds! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics! We had Stalin, Malenkov, and Khrushchev during the 50’s. Then Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and Gorbachev. That was a time of duck and cover. Students were taught to immediately get under their desks if the warning sirens went off. Civil defense shelters were built in every city equipped with two way radios and food and water. Khrushchev banged his shoe on a table and shouted, “We will bury you!” Then we had the Cuban Missile crisis. We have never, before or since, been in as dangerous a confrontation with the Soviets.

President Kennedy negotiated with Khrushchev. Together they came to a satisfactory end to the Cuban Missile crisis. What could have been a nuclear war was averted. Yet the arms race was on. Both sides feared the other. Each thought that the other would strike first if they thought they had the nuclear advantage. More and more people realized that this was insane. An acronym appeared, MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction. If the two sides were equally matched, if it could be certain that any nuclear war would result in both sides obliterating each other, then peace would be assured. This was truly mad.

And then came several treaties. The Nuclear Non Proliferation treaty. The SALT treaties. Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. The START I treaty. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Then came the agreement between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan to dismantle the Soviet Union. A constitution was created for the newly created Russian Federation. They were reforming themselves to be more like a European Parliamentary government. They have been trying to achieve that goal until recently. Boris Yeltsin was their first president.

The nuclear arms negotiations didn’t stop there. Start II came under George HW Bush. Bill Clinton and Yeltsin negotiated a START III treaty. This, sadly, was never implemented. George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin negotiated the SORT treaty. Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty. A New START treaty was negotiated between Obama and Medvedev. There were also other, non-strategic treaties and agreements to destroy stockpiles of weapons grade plutonium. During the Cold War a tremendous amount of diplomacy and negotiations occurred between the two superpowers. Nuclear arms were reduced by over 90% between the 70’s and the year 2000. Not to forget numerous cease fire and peace agreements concerning conflicts in other countries.

So it was possible to negotiate with the likes of Stalin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev. All leaders of the Communist Soviet Union. The country of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. We even negotiated with the new Russian Federation under Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev. Communication, cooperation, and mutually beneficial compromise are possible. During that whole period the American and Russian people held no animosity to each other. We both wanted peace and we wanted our governments to make it happen. Some of us remembered WWII and that we had been allies with the Soviets. What had happened? Trotsky had wanted world communism, but Stalin was content to stay in his own communist paradise. He never wanted to enter the western hemisphere. We know that now, but not then.

So, with all this d├ętente, reduction treaties, and agreements between both the old Soviet Union and the new Russian Federation, why are we back to the 50’s? Why a new Cold War? Or worse. More and more people are talking about a winnable nuclear war. And that’s not from the Khrushchev’s on the other side. And no more talk about duck and cover or civilian shelters. Though Russia has recently completed fallout shelters in Moscow that will hold all of the residents of the city. What are they afraid of?

Shouldn’t we be continuing to make agreements to reduce weapons and lessen the chance of nuclear exchange, either by war or by accident? Now we are in a worse condition with Russia than we had been under the Soviets. How did that happen? Some people believe that the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wants to bring back the Soviet Union. Maybe he should. At least we were willing to talk to them!

Where’s MAD? Where are the leaders who want to reduce tensions and not escalate them? Where is the peace party calling for more talks? Every American leader who has negotiated with the Soviets has been accused of being soft on Communism or a stooge of the Kremlin. Roosevelt. Kennedy. Nixon. Reagan. Obama. But in every case their willingness to stop sabre rattling and start treaty talking resulted in something that was in the best interests of both sides. Every single time. The news media reported on it hopefully. Talks are looking good. An agreement between the Soviets and the United States is possible. Both sides are looking forward to a reduction of tensions and increased cooperation. This was a good thing. This is a good thing.

But now. Are we mad?

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Crazies

My first introduction to politics was the 1976 election. I voted for Jimmy Carter. Before that I was aware of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy's assassination, Johnson's great Society, the war in Viet Nam, and the peace protests against the war and Nixon, but I was not involved. I watched. I grew up. I was aware of the discussion, and disagreement, in my family.

So I kept track. The horrible inflation years of the 70's. The gas lines. People watching as their pensions and their livelihoods disappeared around them. I got a meaningless degree when one was affordable. I got a job as a cook in a restaurant. Not bad. It should have been a living. Night school improved my lot, luckily. Jimmy Carter was a good president. He was the last one who treated the American people like adults. We replaced him with an actor who entertained us.

I followed Reagan as he promised it would be 'Morning in America.' It was a con, of course. The morning was paid for with a mortgage on the afternoon and evening of America, which we are paying for now. Carter told us to tighten our belts. Reagan told us to expand them. It was all smoke, mirrors, and excess debt. It was during the Reagan era that American blue collar jobs started bleeding offshore. Remember that, Trump supporters. Our multi trillion dollar debt today started with Reagan. Or maybe Nixon. Hard to tell. Still, he ended the Cold War. Not won. He did not want to win the Cold War. Just end it in partnership with Gorbachev. Later butchers claimed victory. Reagan did some good, some bad. Like Nixon.

Then we got George H. W. Bush. He was the head of the CIA. Not a low level analyst like Vladimir Putin when he was a KGB agent in East Germany. Bush was the head spook. I never felt quite comfortable with someone outside of the law as the civilian commander in chief. Still, he did some good things as president. Some.

I'm still not sure about Clinton. Oh, not because of the bogus impeachment hearings. Kennedy did worse. Johnson did worser. I was uncomfortable with the Bush war against Iraq and Clinton just kept it going, plus Serbia and Kosovo. It was then that the so called Neocons ramped up their Neo-Cold War agenda. Bush Sr. called them 'The crazies in the basement.' Well, Clinton, in Pandora fashion, let the crazies out.

Bush 2 was pretty much a stooge of the Crazies. 9/11 was a perfect alibi to let them have their way. So we got needless and endless wars against countries which had done us no wrong and which had nothing to do with 9/11. Afghanistan, Iraq.

When Obama was elected I hoped for sanity at last. A stop to suicidal wars, torture, and neglect at home. But it didn't end. Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Yemen. And we decry Russian aggression? When will our leaders be sent to The Hague?

We still have hostility abroad, no closure of Gitmo, and endless war. Who's in charge, anyway? The Crazies? Now we have Trumpo the Orange Clown in charge. He spews out tweets and executive orders. Too bad nobody in real power will pay any more attention to him than the last four presidents.

War, anyone?

Man of the City

When you meet someone. When you eat with them. When you dance with them, even if you don't know their language or how to speak with them. When you come close, too close for prejudice, but close enough for contact. When you are at a complete loss. When you don't know who they are and they don't know who you are, but you are glad of the company, anyway. This is new. This is old. This is different from what I expected. This is. Something.

I met Arabs in Gaza. Jews who came to my school and taught us folk dances. Bedouin who made us coffee over a charcoal fire. A Jewish family who had us over for Seder. And Muslims who took us into their home in Bethlehem, the City of Bread. I walked through the streets of Jerusalem. Be careful of the stairways, there is a ramp down the middle for wheel barrows. Don't trip. I visited the souks. Bought coffee from vendors. I always asked them to add the spices. Cardamom. Cinnamon. Cloves. I loved making an evening cup of rich coffee before bed. It was a wonder I slept at all. Must have been the opium.

And I watched novice Americans get taken big time for cheap, Holy Land crap. It was embarrassing. It was enterprising. It was not surprising. They saw our kind coming, like all good con men. And they had camel leather jackets and water pipes and Roman oil lamps to sell a'plenty. All for outrageous prices. I could bargain them down to a tenth of the price, if I even wanted the crap. I had become a Yerushalmi. An inhabitant of Jerusalem. I started to see them coming, too. It was obvious. And I cringed. These are my people! Um. Were my people? Where's my souk? I can fleece them as easily as the next guy. How easy it is to go native. I was a man of the city. I was starting to understand. To know how to be one of them. To be one of us. And to look at them.

You can't hate these people, once you know them. Any of them. All of them. I was one of them.

Oh, dear. Who am I now? Wanna buy a water pipe?

Judge Barons

The Judge-Barons had had enough. King John of Trump had been flaunting his absolute powers for too long. First, it was by royal executive orders. Then, he so ordained that his tweets were law. No more swamp. No more Federal bureaucracy. No more 'so-called' judges letting the kingdom sink into ruin. Sad. Now he had the power to make himself great again!

From now on the law of the land is: Trump tweeted it. I believe it. That settles it. If the snowflakes don't like it, they can go back to Mordor where they came from. Look it up. It's on a map I saw in a book somewhere. What's a book?

So, tweet by tyrannical tweet, Trump the Oblivious made the land free of reason and turned back the tide of liberal, whiney poor people stealing from the honest, hardworking pockets of defense contractors and the impoverished 0.0000001%, which pretty much included only King Trump and that hot Ivanka.

But the kingdom groaned under the weight of all that bad hyperbole. One Judge-Baron dared to defy King Trump by issuing a stay of tweeting, stating that the King's tweet was against The Law of the Land. The King just tweeted back, Oh. This so-called Judge-Baron, Robot is his name? What is he, a man or a... not man? Sad. He's just in the swamp with his make believe {Please deposit 40 million dollars for an additional 140 tweet units} Rules of Claw. Whatever. When the illegal Celts invade, and you know they will. It'll be his fault!

So the Judge-Barons rolled their eyes and wondered where this idiot came from, anyway. So they held the King down and took away his Ivanka until he tweeted the Magna Tweeta, thus insuring the rights of the people to be governed by the Rule of Claws, or whatever. King Trump was getting bored, anyway.

Go Judge-Barons!

Go Away

So the Trumpflakes want me to get out of America because I won't support President Trump. OK. Fair enough. Let's see. I can go to the Ukraine where my Russian maternal grandfather came from over a hundred years ago. Oops. That's where Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State, bragged about spending five billion dollars to overthrow the Ukrainian government and installing a puppet regime that is hostile to Russians. It kicked up that whole civil war and stuff. Guess I can't go there. I'd still be in the American sphere of influence.

I could go to Poland where my mother's mother came from. Well, no. The US is pushing NATO power pieces through Poland to the Russian border. Not to mention major joint exercises in the Baltic Sea to counter all of that Russian aggression that they keep on doing within their own borders. Can't get out of America there.

Well, there's my father's heritage. English, Irish, Scott. Don't we have Trident submarine bases in the British Isles? And American service people all over the place? No fleeing gentle, stay at home, peace loving America there. Sorry. So far I just can't get out of America by going back to where I came from.

Hold it! My last green trump card! France! That's the last bit of my lazy, immigrant entitled, welfare defrauding, snowflake gimmy, gimmy-ing, freebie demanding, refugee ransacking relatives came from.

It seems that France doesn't have any American military bases there. How exciting! I can be kicked out of the Trumputopia for good. If only they could get out of NATO, the IMF, dollar hegemony, and the EU, they'd truly be out of the American sphere of influence. Gee, America just seems to be everywhere. Maybe the rest of the world should tell us to go home?

Sorry. Wherever I go up my immigrant family tree, I'm still in America's grasp.

Got any other ideas?