On the eve of Tuesday’s important Republican debate, all eyes, once again, are on Donald Trump. As most readers of this blog are aware, early last week Trump made his most inflammatory anti-Muslim proposal to date*, calling for: “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States (until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on).” He compounded the invective by citing, as precedent, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. His proposal followed the bombings in Paris and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. By applying a religious test for admission, most constitutional scholars felt that it was unconstitutional. Others noted that the internment of Japanese-Americans is considered one of the darkest governmental acts in U.S. history. Condemnation of Trump was immediate. Nearly all Republican leaders and candidates (with the notable exception of Ted Cruz) denounced Trump’s proposal as “un-American,” “disgusting,” “not who we are,” and much worse. Several said it disqualified him from being the Republican nominee. He was, many said, playing... Read More
By now most of you have heard that Turkey, our NATO ally, shot down a Russian military jet on Tuesday, November 24th. Some of the details are murky at this writing. Russian President Putin claims it was a “stab in the back,” that their plane had not crossed into Turkish air space, and the pilot was not given any warnings. Turkey, for its part, insists that their air-space was encroached and that they gave the Russian pilot ten warnings before their F-16 shot him down. The Turkish military has released a recording of a Turkish speaker saying, “change your heading.” Konstantin Murakhtin, the Russian navigator who was rescued yesterday, insists that they received no warnings. Videos of the Russian plane being hit and going down has gone viral on the internet, but it focuses on the distant sky and does nothing to answer the questions of airspace location and the presence or absence of warnings. Nor does it deal with the meaningful issue of what the Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber was doing... Read More
The attacks in Paris have the potential to be game changers. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls exclaimed, “nous sommes en guerre” (we are at war), and President Hollande told the world that “France will destroy IS.” President Obama announced that the U.S. stands together with France, and Secretary of State John Kerry announced meetings with his French counterpart to determine exactly what form the response will take. Talks of war are in the air, and it has been seized upon by many of the Republican hopefuls, and some Democrats have lent their voice to the jingoist chants. Whichever path of response that we choose, we would do well to make sure that we don’t repeat the disastrous invade-first and think-about-what-happens-next-later mode that produced the Iraqi mess and the resultant ISIS conundrum. ISIS has been successful in recruiting Western Muslims, in part, by framing it as a war between Islam and Christian Crusaders–a reminder of the humiliation, plundering, and rape that accompanied the Crusader’s conquering march to the holy land. Meanwhile, candidate Donald Trump, whose ten hour... Read More
Trump seems to blame everything that goes bad on someone else. He’s non-stop in his blames of Obama, most of his Republican competitors for the nomination, Hillary, China, Japan, Mexico, and of course The Media, for a number of Donaldsins–but he’ll be the greatest diplomat we’ve ever had. Here’s just a sampling of his blames: Obama: for the riots in Baltimore; for Ebola in the U.S.; for “intentionally letting an American soldier rot in a Mexican jail”; for Russia beating the United States in the Olympics; for high oil prices (“OPEC leaders are laughing at us); for (along with Mental Illness) the Virginia Shootings; for the Seattle Seahawks losing final play call in the Super Bowl; for poor race relations in the U.S.; (Trump accused Obama of being a Muslim, then he blamed Obama) for the audience’s questioner for being a plant; Hillary: for ISIS; For his own birtherism stance; for starting the birther movement; for blaming him for the Charleston riots (which she didn’t); for Univision for pulling his Miss USA and Miss Universe shows... Read More
Donald Trump’s insults plus his absurdly simple solutions–which fall totally apart under even the slightest close examination–to complex problems, keeps him the center of attention. And the joker in the deck is that apparently these kinds of policy statements appeal to at least a fifth of the Republican electorate. So far, at least. I wonder how well the Trump style will wear-It’s frightening to think about.
Trump did keep himself at the center of the very early Republican nomination discussion. I don’t think it possible that he will wear well with voters whose support he doesn’t now have, and must get.