Nothing Of Consequence Happened In Helsinki, So Relax America

The summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was touted to be a major event. It’s not often that the leaders of the US and Russia meet to discuss pressing issues. So with this in mind the media, Congress and many Americans were anticipating some dramatic announcements.

Anyone who’s observed the progress of similar high-level summits knows that nothing concrete is going to be accomplished after just a few hours of one on one conversation. The media creates great anticipation that usually falls short. The two world powers are diametrically opposed to each other on many fronts. It was just an opportunity for both men to talk face to face about situations that piss them off.

The world knows Putin is a megalomaniac and a liar who dreams every day about a resurgence of former Soviet dominance throughout the world. It was dashed when Ronald Reagan bankrupted the country in 1991. Putin was not about to cede a thing on any important issue without getting a pound of flesh.

For Trump is was all theatrics and high drama. He actually believes that Putin and Xi (of China) can be swayed by his charms and superior negotiating skills. The president has been disappointed by Xi relating to North Korea and will be similarly frustrated by Putin moving forward when the negotiators have difficulty finding common ground. But Trump carries two very big sticks, military might and economic power, that he will likely use when the time is right.

Just because Trump was solicitous of Putin doesn’t mean he’s a traitor. A political hack from the Obama administration used this word to describe the president. This shtick is vintage Trump. He kisses butt so long as his adversaries agree to do his bidding. When they resist, he attacks. In recent days the president has had falling-outs with several other world leaders who he previously called good friends, great states people and allies. Trump’s act starts sweetly and always ends in conflict, for the benefit of America.

I didn’t respond to the summit immediately because nothing important happened. The negotiators have a lot to talk about and to disagree on. Hopefully the meeting between Trump and Putin will eventually lead to some progress. What might it be?

Both leaders seem inclined to keep Israel out of the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu is not shy about attacking insurgents, rebels or partisans of Assad that approach his borders. The leaders discussed keeping warring parties away from Israel.

There will be no agreement about Syria. The Russians are supporting Assad, so he is going to stay in power. But it appears that Trump made a case to extract Iran from the conflict. Russia may agree to this in exchange for the US accepting Assad’s regime. It is shameful that a mass murderer like Assad will most probably survive. With Russian support this is likely to happen.

Trump has bludgeoned NATO members to increase their funding to the organization to negotiated levels. Putin indicated that NATO poses an existential threat to Russia, which is a total exaggeration. It’s really moot. If Russia decides to pick off another former SSR that has become a NATO member, Europe and the US would look the other way. Would they initiate a world war if Latvia were to be overrun by Russia? Hardly.

Putin is irate about US support of Ukraine, but he really can’t do anything about it. The country will likely be under total Russian control in a few more years despite the tepid efforts of the US to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Critics of Trump from the left, right and center are complaining that he is cozying up to Russia. They seem to forget that Trump has initiated harsh sanctions against Russia and many of it oligarchs for meddling in US elections and for other misdeeds.

Trump has proven yet again that he is unlike any past presidents. His news conference presentation was abominable in several regards that have been delineated without end by the press and others. But it really wasn’t harmful. He’s now saying that Russia was probably trying to influence our 2016 elections. Apparently a double negative in his speech tripped him up. And not supporting his own intelligence community was a dumb error and demoralizing to members of various agencies that spy for their country at great risk.

Personally I cringed every time Trump congratulated himself for doing a great job as president. It’s more meaningful when third parties laud a president’s performance. He’s just the worst orator and there’s nothing that’s going to change. And he craves adulation, which is difficult to come by these days in political circles.

No deals were made in Helsinki so we all need to take a deep breath. If Trump starts to give away freebies to the Russians (like Obama did with Iran’s nukes) we can all join together and object. I don’t think that’s going to happen, and I’m sure Trump and Putin will not be best buddies after all the negotiating has ended. Given that the countries possess 90% of all nukes in the world, it’s probably a good idea for these guys to find a way to work with each other. Nuclear disarmament might be a good place to begin this effort.

Trump Should Continue His Crusade To Decrease Trade Deficits

This past weekend I had a debate with a friend about President Trump’s efforts to improve trade agreements and decrease trade imbalances around the world.

I indicated that Trump’s aggressive attitude about unfair trade deals was justified. My friend said that abusive tariffs were imbedded in all trade agreements and the US was as culpable as any other country. I set out to find the real issues relating to trade.

What are trade deficits? Last year the US had a trade deficit of $568 billion according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the US Census Bureau. That means that the US purchased that much more goods than it sold in 2017.

Certain countries are able to manufacture products cheaper than other countries. This could be related to lower labor costs, energy, distribution and other selling expenses. If these advantages are abused and/or subsidized by a manufacturer’s country, it may be considered unfair trade competition.

The production of goods could move from one place to another for any number of reasons including the ones mentioned above. When this occurs the country that gains the production puts more people to work, while the country that loses production will suffer job loses.

In order to protect state owned enterprises, some countries impose tariffs on products that enter the country so they cannot not sell at a price lower than domestic producers. In fact the tariffs may cause the price to be substantially greater than domestic prices.

How does this all impact the US? The Economic Policy Institute said that “unfair trade deals have lowered the wages of US workers by displacing jobs and weakening the bargaining position of low and middle wage workers.”

President Obama indicated that free trade would lead to growing exports and job creation. Data after NAFTA in 2001 and KORUS in 2007 tell us that these deals stimulated more imports than exports for the US leading to staggering trade deficits.

Exacerbating the situation is that often, higher paying jobs move out of the country forcing workers to accept lower paying employment in other industries, or unemployment.

China has the largest trade imbalance with the US. Between 2001 and 2011 exports to China supported 538 thousand US jobs that paid, on average $872 per week. The growth of US imports from China between the same years displaced nearly 3.3 million US jobs that paid $1,021 per week.

Jobs in non-trade industries paid an average of $791 per week. This meant that those who lost jobs to China experienced a cut in pay if they were able to find new employment at all.

Overall the US trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2011 eliminated a staggering number of jobs. Total wages lost in 2011 alone were $37 billion. These numbers are a bit dated, but the deficit has continued to increase somewhat to the present.

What should Trump do to decrease the deficit and the impact it has on our economy and employment? Should he impose tariffs to protect domestic industries, or should he allow foreign countries to steal large chunks of our economy and countless jobs? The answer seems obvious. Trump should impose or threaten to impose tariffs to decrease the advantages of foreign manufacturers. At a minimum tariffs overseas should not exceed tariffs in the US.

 

Democrats Are Doing Everything Wrong To Attract Voters

It’s time someone called out Democrats. The current strategy of obstruction and criticism towards the president is bad for America. Their plans will denigrate their party even further during the midterm and presidential elections.

High expectations for a “blue wave” are a pipe dream. Democrats will not regain any ground this November because they have nothing to offer voters except twisted and exaggerated perspectives. The Democratic alliance with the liberal press has not served them well. Fox News and their affiliates have called out every misstep, fake news broadcast and mean-spirited effort by liberal politicians.

Let’s get specific. What are some of the most egregious actions by Democrats that will ultimately erode their power base in America? Here is a short list.

Democratic opposition to the nomination of Justice Bert Kavanaugh is moot. The legal community has been extraordinarily complimentary of this man’s intellectual acumen and dedication to the law. He is a strict constitutionalist, something that Democrats consider blasphemous.

There are three important issues regarding the nomination of Kavanaugh that should be noted. One is that Republicans can confirm Trump’s nominee with their current majority in the Senate. Two complicating factors are John McCain’s (R-AZ) absence (as he is battling cancer) and possible objections by two Republican senators, Susan Collins (R-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AL). The latter two are concerned that a conservative judge might support a reversal of Roe v. Wade. This concern is bogus. Most importantly Roe is embedded in our society and is protected by precedent. Stare decisis, the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent, will make it virtually impossible for the Supreme Court to abrogate current law that protects a woman’s right to choose, no matter what Democrats say.

The second issue is that three Democrat senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitcamp (D-ND) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are running for reelection. Their states voted strongly for President Trump, and the pressure is on them to support the Kavanaugh nomination. Democratic leaders are suggesting they vote against the nominee even if it costs them their seats in the Senate. I think we all know how they will respond- just the way they responded with the Gorsuch confirmation.

The third issue is a conservative judge (Kennedy) will likely be replaced by another conservative judge (Kavanaugh). Democrats have been exaggerating the “liberal propensity” of Kennedy. In fact, he has supported conservatives on the court vigorously over the years.

Notwithstanding the fact that the deck is stacked against Democrats, they will scour all of Justice Kavanaugh’s decisions and his personal life to find dirt to discredit him. Americans should expect a disgusting and inappropriate grilling of a dedicated man of the law.

For weeks Democrats have been saying, over and over again, that the Trump administration is tearing children, who have entered the country illegally, away from their parents. Until a recent mandate issued by Trump, a law that was signed by Barack Obama required the aforementioned action. Trump’s mandate changed the process and children are being re-united with their parents at this moment.

Immigration policies are pitting members on both sides of the aisle against each other. There is great differentiation between the opposing factions. Democrats, apparently, want to open borders without extreme vetting to weed out criminals, sexual offenders, gang members and other undesirables. One must suppose that the opposition party will accept a new vote from just about anyone.

Exacerbating the situation is the formation of sanctuary states and cities. Politicians are spurning the law and immigration agents in an attempt to give illegals asylum. This is not how our immigration system is supposed to operate. Every year the US gives immigrants an opportunity to come to America and become citizens in several years if they are productive and follow the law. The system protects our borders and inspires the American dream. The tsunami of illegals stealing their way into the country is financially and culturally irresponsible.

Simply put, Republicans want orderly immigration in which every applicant is vetted to insure they will become productive and law-abiding citizens. To do less jeopardizes our country. The US should do everything possible, including building a wall to stop any further illegal immigration to occur. And Congress should begin to work on new policies to assimilate the 10-15 million illegals presently in the country.

Democrats should support Trump’s efforts to rein in Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea. It will be a harrowing journey to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula, but it is better than having a madman launching missiles across the Pacific Ocean. The backbiting by Democrats is disgraceful. Criticism will be warranted if Trump gives away more than he receives from negotiations, just like Obama did with Iran. Trump must negotiate the end of North Korea’s nuclear aspirations. There is no compromise on this issue, so the US must continue to increase economic pressure on North Korea.

The Russian investigation has gone on for well over a year. Robert Mueller has done little during this time other than to indict a few unimportant political hacks. Even the indictment of General Flynn is being reconsidered. The Special Counsel and his brazen band of Trump-haters have searched far and wide for incriminating evidence and have found nothing. We know this because it would have been leaked if it existed.

Democrats are reiterating the importance of the investigation because it is embarrassing for the president. It’s a cheap political ploy that will backfire when the Special Counsel finally admits that his witch-hunt was a waste of time, money and energy.

It’s getting close to the midterm elections, and a last minute disclosure would result in another “Comey moment.” As a skeptic I find it difficult to believe that Mueller is not embarrassed he found nothing on Trump and is threatening every witness to find some dirt. I say set a time limit, after which Mueller must reveal what he has discovered.

“It’s still the economy stupid.” Republicans are not going to experience wholesale losses in the midterm elections if the economy continues to improve. The dream of a blue wave will not happen just like a Clinton victory did not happen in 2016.

Democrats led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters are encouraging violence against and public humiliation of conservatives. Really? Waters’ vision of democracy is one where there is only one political party, and all dissenters should be ridiculed. The outcry for this type of violence mongering is not American. When will Democrats throw out radicals like Waters?

Republicans lived through eight long and unproductive years with Obama in the White House. Very few wished bad things to happen to America when Obama was in control, even though many wanted to replace him. Real Americans don’t hope for bad times, they support the president.

It seems like many liberals I speak with hope for a recession or some other event that embarrasses our country. Even though Trump is not the kind of person I would choose to lead the country, I find it disgraceful that a sitting president is treated with such scorn and disrespect, especially since he is making progress in many areas.

The day of reckoning is at hand for Democrats. If they have a poor performance in November, there’s no telling what will happen to the party. For sure the current liberal leaders will take a fall. And Democrat prospects for victory in 2020 will be seriously impacted.

Family Values And The Problems Without Them

How important is family in the development of a balanced and productive child? Nearly all sociologists believe family values are critical to our society.

Like almost every species of animals, humans care for their young. If the relationship between parent and child is curtailed for any reason,  he or she will likely encounter serious disadvantages as they attempt to deal with the travails of everyday life.

The primary functions of parenthood include security, emotional support, nourishment and training. If a newborn human is torn away from its parents, anything is possible. But generally the child will likely struggle when it becomes an adult.

Society employs numerous methods to give an abandoned child an adequate upbringing. Orphanages provide security and nourishment, but not very much emotional and personal attention. Adoption and foster care sometimes works out well for children, but it’s often fraught with abuses of varying severity.

But, there is nothing like having a mom and dad to lean on when you’re young, and in many cases to advise you even after your reach adulthood. Extended families often fill in for parents that are unable to raise children by themselves. Everything from babysitting while parents work to actually taking responsibility for the rearing of the child are available in loving families.

In today’s world the role of a parent has been distorted in many settings. For instance families with only a single mom have become far too commonplace. How difficult is it for moms to provide the love, affection, training and security for their kids, when they are working hard to make ends meet without the assistance of a partner?

How pervasive is the decline in two-parent families, you may ask? Significant, as the 2016 US Census indicated that among 73.7 million children under 18, 69% live with two parents, while 23% live with one. Between 1960 and 2016 the percentage of families with two parents declined from 88% to 69%. During the same period children living with only one parent went from 8% to 23%.

One interesting question is: Do children from single parent homes perform at lower levels in school? There has been much debate on this issue. One sociologist said, “Research shows that children in single parent households score below children in two parent homes.” Another researcher said, “Very high rates of family fragmentation in the US are subtracting what very large numbers of students are learning in school and holding them back in other ways.”

Of course one-parent families are not all the same. Extended family members may support some of them, and some may benefit by high incomes. But generally one-parent families exist in lower socioeconomic circumstances, and most single parents do not have the energy to motivate children and/or teach them values and character that would improve all aspects of their lives.

The massive breakup of families from divorce and other problems also results in fewer educational successes. How can a busy single mom find the time to give her children adequate emotional support, motivation and the values and character traits that colleges think are so desirable?

Granted, scholarships are readily available for the needy students, especially those that have high academic performance. But convincing children that education is critical in improving one’s status and lifestyle could be daunting for a mom.

This compares to two-parent affluent families that work diligently to push their children towards academic achievement. How can a child of a single parent family ever compete for choice admissions to the best schools in this country?

This essay has focused only on one of the major issues confronting the growing number of single parent families in America. There are many more. Strong family ties, which appear to be ebbing over time, are necessary to bring out the best in our children. Therefore family stability should be a primary issue for the federal government and leaders across the country.

 

 

 

A New Democratic Superstar??

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (age 28) defeated long-time  stalwart Joseph Crowley in a Democratic primary race that includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. Crowley was considered a potential replacement for Nancy Pelosi, the beleaguered Democratic Leader.

Crowley, who has not been challenged in recent years, decided to ignore the brash young woman’s determined effort to take his seat. The press indicated that Crowley didn’t even attend a debate,  choosing to send an aide in his place. This apparently infuriated many of his constituents.

Almost immediately the liberal press picked up this Cinderella story.  A relatively unknown entity outside of her neighborhood, an attractive and articulate Hispanic woman, beats a well-connected political hack. It’s a perfect story for a movie script. But I think Hollywood moguls should wait to see whether Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has any staying power and can make a difference.

Votes are so hard-up to make changes that they sometimes vote for very inexperienced candidates. Consider Obama and Trump. Neither man had any substantive government credentials. You get what you pay for. Obama was an ineffectual president who botched health care reform,  destroyed America’s reputation abroad and left his political party in shambles.  And we all know how Trump, an equally inexperienced politician, is handling the affairs of state.

Why would the voters of a relatively poor section of lower New York State vote for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez? [Note: she is expected to easily defeat her Republican opponent in the election.] Certainly this woman has a promising future. It could not have gotten off to a better start. Or maybe not.

Did anyone who voted for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez read her resume? She’s worked as a bartender, waitress, children’s book publisher and a community activist, Additionally she is a member of the Democratic Socialists of American and supported Bernie Sanders (who is also a socialist). Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s experiences will do little to help her make wise votes in Congress relating to health care reform, immigration, terrorism, international foreign affairs, nuclear proliferation, etc.

It’s sort of like sending a promising baseball player to the major leagues directly out of high school. In more times than not it’s advisable to give the prospect an opportunity to learn the ropes. So it is with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. She will receive no important assignments in Congress for an extended period of time. She will likely talk too much in an effort to gain notoriety, which will offend her colleagues who are also hungry to be in front of the cameras. Yet the media will be all over her until the fad wears off. She’s already appeared on Morning Joe.

I wish Ms. Ocasio-Cortez great success. But I believe first going to Harvard Law School and then working for an experienced politician for a few years would have been the preferred track. I would have advise her accordingly if she were my daughter.

The World Cup Runneth Over With Unsportsmanlike Behavior

The Group Stage of the World Cup soccer tournament is nearing an end. There have been some surprises and many close calls. In fact, South Korea defeated Germany yesterday, eliminating last year’s champion from the competition. The Knock Out Stage with the 16-quarter finalists will begin in a few days on June 30.

Many of the matches have been really exciting and undecided until the final moments. Not to rain on the World Cup parade, but there is one pervasive issue that has tainted the matches— the players are poor sports for the most part.

Professional soccer is a pretty rough sport even though there’s no blocking or tackling in the American football sense. But the contestants have been hitting new highs, literally. Unnecessary grabbing, pushing, tripping, elbowing and violent actions away from the ball are occurring constantly during the games.

Exacerbating the situation are players feigning injury trying to encourage yellow and red cards against opponents. How many times have you seen a player writhing on the field in pain until the referee makes a decision, and the offended jumps up like nothing has happened? So often a simple bump is dramatized by a “dive” making an observer think someone has been seriously injured. More than often it’s a ruse that detracts from the game. In some cases referees penalize players who are too effusive about being fouled.

Another annoying and unsportsmanlike activity is badgering referees. For some reason the refs are very lax responding to complaints, bad-mouthing and even physical contact. In almost all other sports, a player who accosts an official is ejected from the game. For some reason referees give too much latitude to the soccer crybabies.

Some of the teams have a huge chip on their shoulder. They clearly resent the most celebrated players on other teams. In fact super stars like Messi, Rinaldo and Neymar are abused from the beginning to the end of matches. In order to temper the far superior skills of the opposition, teams resort to aggression. In some cases this works, but not usually.

A new development is the replay available to referees, and sometimes imposed on them. I have mixed feelings about second-guessing officials. As an old school fan, I prefer as little high tech interference as possible. The game of soccer has persevered for hundreds of years without reconsideration of referee decisions. And besides it destroys the continuity of the game. The same thing has happened to football, baseball and even basketball. I find constant interruptions unappealing.

The World Cup is a gigantic party as most people around the world play soccer and/or are huge fans. Unfortunately fans can become rabid when things don’t go well for their teams. Soccer games are famous for huge melees between supporters of competing teams. They really don’t need encouragement from the players in this regard.

Nevertheless the nationalistic spirit is really fun to observe. Attendees root with their hearts and souls. During the World Cup everything is even more dramatic especially when the teams of rival countries meet on the pitch. Better to fight it out with a soccer ball and one’s feet than with guns and bombs.

The World Cup is a grand worldwide event. It would be even better with more sportsmanship for the benefit of the millions of young people who watch it and play the sport themselves.

The Immigration Debate Is Crazy

Every day competing political factions in the country find or manufacture new issues that tear America apart. In each case the stakes are very high, and the drama is turbocharged by the media. Both sides, usually liberal versus conservative, try to convince Americans that these issues have the potential to destroy our nation and besmirch our Constitution.

The latest controversy is immigration. For some reason our leaders, over the past several decades, have enabled, or turned a blind eye towards, millions of illegal immigrants that have entered the country. This group of 15 million or more has not been vetted, is very poor, has been encouraged by Mexican authorities and is subjected to cruel and vicious desperados who steal their money and treat them like chattel.

But most importantly the tsunami of humanity crossing our borders is changing the dynamics of our society and threatens our country’s financial security. It’s pitted American against American on yet another issue. Liberals believe that these destitute people have a divine right to escape whatever horrible conditions they faced at home, and that Americans have a divine obligation to assist them.

The results of this grand migration are financial issues of huge proportions for the states that have been forced to accept illegals, and a future dislocation of our social and political balance as the group grows. Our laws that provide automatic citizenship to anyone born in the US, even to children of illegals, have and will be a major issue moving forward.

All the mistakes, blind eyes and kicking the can down the road relating to immigration have now come to a head. On the one hand our borders are porous and the spigot of illegal immigration has not been turned off. On another hand these people are desperate in many regards and are seeking asylum from terrible conditions in Mexico and points south. And finally the 15 million plus immigrants already in the country will likely be given a path to citizenship. Our nation will be permanently changed because of this eventuality.

Ironically sensitivity towards innocent children of illegals has been the catalyst to stoke political jockeying by both parties. First it was the DACA kids who were brought to the country illegally and have now been here for several years. Most politicians believe this group should be protected even though they are just as illegal as their parents, although not responsible for their fate.

And now, existing laws require border agents to separate children from their families when officials apprehend them. The shame of this quirk of the law, enacted prior to the election of Trump, is the impetus of his efforts to make things right in our immigration practices. The whole issue of immigration has now totally dominated our government even while terrorism and nuclear proliferation, along with a plethora of other issues, are screaming for attention.

When one discusses human kindness and cruelty is seems inappropriate to consider financial ramifications. Yet, the cost of immigration to the American taxpayer to care for those already in the country is gargantuan. The annual net cost of illegals, after considering the benefits of their presence in the country, is at a minimum over $100 billion annually, and could be much higher according to experts. The situation is not improving as we look ahead. The spigot of immigration has not been closed because of delays to the president’s plan to secure the border.

How much will it cost in ten years to pay for the services needed by more than 20 or 25 million illegals? How much will it cost to end the continued surge of mankind over our southern borders?

It is true that illegal aliens have benefitted our country by working in the fields and doing manual labor that Americans shun. But many of these people don’t pay taxes, and they use government services extensively for health care and education.

Liberals scream xenophobia whenever anyone objects to illegal immigration. But it’s a fact that many people that cross our borders illegally are criminals, gang members and destitute. They bring very few skills to our country. In spite of this liberals insist that they deserve the same rights as Americans.

The ultimate rub is that certain municipalities throughout the country have established so called sanctuary states and cities. The leaders of these places are “protecting” immigrants who broke the law by entering our country illegally. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are prevented from accomplishing their mission to secure America.

Many Americans are wondering why sanctuary leaders are not allowing ICE agents to do their job and weed out the undesirables and criminals. And a growing number of Americans are asking why the Attorney General of the US has not issued warrants for the arrest of state and city leaders that are breaking the law, It’s becoming more obvious that Americans living in sanctuary municipalities are growing more unhappy every day, especially in California.

Many countries around the world are trying to deal with illegal immigration. The reason is that it is disruptive and costly to assimilate huge numbers of people. Making matters worse is that governments are having trouble differentiating between immigrants and refugees from tyranny.

The cost of illegal immigration has reached a point that politicians must be responsive and enact laws that honor legal immigration that has made our country strong and discourage those who enter our country illegally.

Americans At War With Other Americans

America is at war on many fronts. They are not violent, for the most part, and involve economics, social injustice, financial stress, trade, nuclear proliferation and political gamesmanship. We are also at war with ourselves, Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal, wealthy vs. middle class, men vs. woman.

President Trump has a plan to engage with every world leader, country, religious group and ethnic group that poses a risk to the US. Frankly the president has had some success in these areas and more and more Americans are beginning to appreciate his modus operandi. At times, his actions are considered to be biased, racially provocative and heartless. Trump has also been attacking unfavorable arrangements with other countries that have been in place for many years, and demanding they be amended or abrogated because they have been and continue to be unfavorable to American interests.

China is one of the president’s most important targets. It steals our technology, invokes unfair tariffs on American goods and attacks us regularly with cyber warfare tactics. How can such a nation ever be a close ally of the US?

Similarly, Russia has interfered with our elections, supported our worst enemies (Iran and terrorist groups in the Middle East) and invaded a sovereign nation (Ukraine).

The Mexican government has turned a blind eye to the tsunami of illegal aliens that pass through its country into ours. These interlopers have created huge social, political and financial problems and pitted Americans against each other.

And now Europe has concluded that the US is no longer a trusted ally, and whose stance on trade, immigration and global warming are untenable. This is occurring even after the US saved Europe twice in the 20th Century from German aggression. And to make matters worse the US has entered into treaties in which we guarantee the security of Europe while US taxpayers pay most of the costs. Some NATO members are not even spending on defense what is required by agreement, assuming the US will always protect them.

Trump, rightly, has a lot of axes to grind in all the aforementioned situations. Notwithstanding his unsavory disposition and attitude, the president is making the world a better place even as many around the globe and in the US are hypercritical of him.

What is totally unacceptable, however, is the growing war between Americans, which has become a real tragedy. Americans have the best of everything- security, prosperity, freedom, opportunity, education, health care and so much more. So why do we fight with each other so vociferously about every issue. Our national strength has been diluted, and our enemies have been emboldened.

The immigration fiasco is a perfect example of the chasm between Republicans and Democrats, Trump and Democrats, Trump and fellow Republicans and Republicans and Republicans. We need new immigration laws and policies to stem the tide of illegal immigration and to give those in the country a fair and comprehensive path to citizenship.

It’s disconcerting to see Republicans that control the presidency, the Senate, the House and the Supreme Court (conservatives generally have a 5 to 4 advantage) bickering over policy and unable to compromise with each other. Given this advantage, our government is still in state of political and legislative paralysis.

Children of illegal immigrants are being separated from their parents at the border because of arcane laws and regulations. Under no circumstances is this situation acceptable or beneficial to anyone. Interesting, every American seems to agree that changes are in the best interests of America, the illegals and the children.

Yet the progress is slow and the president’s enemies have twisted the facts and his priorities. Conversely, Trump blames Democrats for the existing laws that force immigration officials to take hurtful action (separation of children from their parents). He’s calling for new legislation and reform to deal with the problem, rather than using presidential power to install changes. [Note: Democrats think new legislation will take to long too enact.] As I write this essay, the president appears to be willing to finally use his powers to stem the tide of outrage among Americans by calling for more humane treatment of illegal children.

Conservatives believe that liberals want unencumbered acceptance of all who enter the country, for political reasons. This perspective has resulted in over 10 million illegals over the past few decades, which has damaged the certain states and facilitated the proliferation of undesirables in America including gangs, drug dealers and other felons.

So the problems persist along with life and death debates about every issue. The media has done everything possible to stir controversy and even creates “fake news” to stimulate the sale of their ideas in printed material and on TV.

So how can we change the attitudes of our politicians over time? The answer is obvious. The current leaders that dominate the political scene are both incompetent and unwilling to compromise on any issue. Most of the worst offenders have been in Washington too long. They exist in both parties and have consolidated their power in Congress with arcane laws that affect elections. Term limits are the answer. Over time Americans can recreate Congress and the presidency.

The president is not without fault, an understatement. His methods may be helpful with the worst of our enemies, but they are tearing our country apart. It’s inconceivable that the man does not recognize that name-calling and vicious tweets aren’t moving us forward. I’ve indicated that Trump will not be reelected, but his own successes may make my prediction wrong.

 

 

Shinnecock Brought The Pros To Their Knees, And I Loved It

Yesterday Brooks Koepka, an American, won the United States Open golf championship in a hotly contested and exciting competition. But the tournament had many sidebars that gave golf duffers like me some comfort about how tough it is to play the game of golf.

Suffice it to say I’m very unhappy with my game. I played competitive sports in high school and college, so I pride myself on being a pretty good athlete, even at my age.

But golf, which I stared playing over 50 years ago, has been my nemesis. In summary I’ve made little progress over the years. In recent times I began to play more and take lessons with little improvement.

What is my problem, you ask? It has nothing to do with athletic prowess and everything to do with what’s going on between my ears. In a nutshell I need a golf shrink, not a golf coach.

My wife is amazed with the self-loathing that my play evokes every time we are on a golf course. She is shocked when I lose my cool and start to whine over a silly game. But golf is not silly, and I want to play better. Yet I always return for more disappointment.

This year’s US Open was refreshing. I loved the fact that all the studs on the PGA Tour were struggling mightily. I didn’t have to witness final scores of 15 or 20 shots under par, drives over 350 yards in the middle of the fairway and spectacular up and downs from off the greens. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the site of the US Open, brought the professionals to their knees, a place where I spend most of my time (on my knees, I mean).

Many of the pros were whining, just like me, about the wind, rain, high rough, fast greens, pin placements and tight lies. Alas, Mother Nature beat up the professionals, and bad. In the end the winning final score was over par.

It was cathartic to see these great players shanking from the two-foot high fescue grass and topping chips across lightning fast greens into more trouble. Double and triple bogies abounded. The players actually seemed human at times. The spread between my average score and theirs for a round actually decreased.

Of course I could never break 100 playing a course like Shinnecock, especially in those condition. But it made me feel better.

Frankly I was a little disappointed by some of the pros that complained about the course. Everyone knows the USGA (United States Golf Association) tries to increase the difficulty of the course for this championship. The usual tactics are to grow the rough, increase the speed of the greens by mowing and not watering and hoping the Mother Nature delivers some bad weather.

The fact is everyone is playing the same course, so the degree of difficulty is moot. The man who shoots the lowest score wins, plain and simple. If a hole is 490 yards long, uphill and against a 30 mile per hour wind, everybody plays it.

One golfer said the course was fine except the pin placements on two holes were unfair. To whom, I ask? For everybody, I respond.

I really enjoyed the US Open telecast. The young fellows are, at last, replacing the old timers like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Phil turned 48 years old over the weekend so he should start thinking about the Senior Tour where he will win every week. His behavior after making a bad putt was weird and unbecoming. I still like Phil.

The golf world is hoping that Tiger returns to his old self, but it’s unlikely. I appreciate that he’s good for the game of golf, but he doesn’t have it anymore. The fans screamed for him, and the TV announcers made excuses for his poor performance. But Shinnecock ate his lunch, and Tiger missed the cut. It’s not easy to get old as an athlete.

I’m trying to draw inspiration from the US Open. It hasn’t happened yet. Nevertheless I will continue to hack away.

Something Is Rotten At The F.B.I.

As my source, I used a New York Times front-page article to recapitulate the missteps of James Comey and the FBI. Things are truly rotten at the FBI.

It must have been difficult for the Gray Lady, aka the Times, to indict the FBI, a supposedly apolitical government organization, for breaking rules, distorting the truth, supporting Hillary Clinton, denigrating Donald Trump, leaking to the press and trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The comments you are about to read below are those made in the Times and were not subject to editorialization.

 

  • The FBI has a destructive culture and Comey, specifically, was insubordinate.
  • Senior officials of the FBI implicitly and explicitly backed Clinton.
  • Comey broke longstanding policies.
  • Comey publicly discussed an investigation of Clinton relating to her misuse of a private server handling classified information.
  • The Inspector General referred five FBI employees for possible discipline over pro-Clinton or anti-Trump commentary in electronic messages.
  • FBI agents were far too cozy with journalists.
  • There was a breakdown in the FBI chain of command, as the Attorney General acceded to Comey during the most controversial moments of the Clinton inquiry.
  • Public confidence in the FBI has been damaged.
  • There is doubt about the FBI’s mishandling of the Clinton investigation, and it remains politically divisive two years hence.
  • Two senior FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, exchanged disparaging texts about Trump.
  • Christopher Wray, the current FBI head, said he took the IG report seriously but that “[The FBI’s] brand is doing just fine.”
  • Comey injected the FBI into presidential politics.
  • FBI officials have been reprimanded for injecting their opinions into legal conclusions.
  • Comey withheld his plans about future investigations from his Department of Justice superiors.
  • FBI agents wanted prosecutors to be more aggressive [with Clinton] creating tension between them and FBI leadership.
  • Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI was dishonest.
  • A large number of FBI personnel in constant contact with journalists impacted the FBI’s ability to identify the sources of leaks. [This comment makes no sense. In effect the number of leaks is preventing an investigation of leaks.]

 

The big question is: should Americans be disenchanted and disappointed with the FBI for its actions relating to the 2016 election? Absolutely yes. The FBI was biased towards one candidate, and it and tried to protect Clinton while simultaneously attempting to discredit Trump. Ironically, Comey and his people were so incompetent that they hurt Clinton’s chances for reelection.

What rubs many Americans is that Comey is still on the loose, lying and distorting events and denying his culpability while earning millions from his book. Since when does our country allow scoundrels to earn money from their misdeeds? It happens too often.

The FBI’s reputation has been besmirched whether anyone in Washington wants to admit it or not. It’s time that new leadership is installed that isn’t stained by the actions of Comey and will not give wrong doers a pass on their misbehavior.

FBI field agents are just as effective as ever. It’s management of the organization that needs to be revamped, starting with Wray who feels that everything is just fine.