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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 2D On the Matter of Making American Great, Again

After eight years of daily doing this, my first one-day posting of four articles.  Last one, too.  I might have a second here and there if warranted on this trip.

A person can be lucky all his life and the plane you're on could crash, and that would be the end.  Politics do not work that way.  There are so-called pendulum swings, and about the only thing that can cause a sudden change is something like Pearl Harbor and World War II.  Mind you, that top tip could also move, but only gradually.

I can just about predict the next four years.  In the summer of 2018 the idiocy of the Trump Administration will practically destroy the Republican Party and the House will go Democratic.  See, the thing is that with each new issue there will be a different source of internal opposition.  The Freedom Caucus is only two years old and sabotaged the Ryan-Trump healthcare bill.  It's not that they didn't like the direction.  It's that the bill did not go far enough.  Trump's tax reform legislation will mostly push for America First.  It will alienate traditional Republicans and any company that imports.  The Senate will neutralize it anyway.

The environment and climate change?  A whole different set of Republicans will come out of the woodwork.  Democrats can safely sit back and recite motherhood and liberty.  In the end, when all is said and done, there will be no Reagan-like Republican party anymore.  Want to bet whether the next president will be a Democrat?

The bombastic non sequitur of Donald Trump to Make America Great Again, is a theme I kept asking myself:  How can so many Americans believe such nonsense?  What is non sequitur, you ask? As a scholar who took French for my PhD requirement (mind you, I spent only six weeks in an intensive summer course on how to pass the French Graduate Record Exam), this term applies to something that does not logically follow the previous argument.

First of all, to give discredit its due, this was the theme of Ronald Reagan when he first ran for President in 1980.  In his day, he was close to being logical, because President Jimmy Carter was woefully being non-presidential, and this attitude of change made some sense.

The truth of this matter is that America has been great since the end of the Cold War a little more than a quarter century ago.  Let me start with an international poll that asked adults where they would like to move.  The USA was #1, with the United Kingdom behind by more than a factor of three, and Canada at #3.  Ask me how many wanted to permanently go to China or Russia?

Let me start with the fact that the USA is the only supreme power in the world.  We spend more on war than the next eight countries combined.  Donald Trump wants to add $54 billion more.  Why?  There are no worthy enemies.  We can cut the defense budget in half and apply these funds to education, the environment, re-building the infrastructure and a million other higher priority matters.  Why we spend so much is simply the power of the Military Industrial Complex.  Plus jobs.  Every state has significant defense monies.  Every state wants to maximize their share.

Let me only focus on the most symbolic piece of hardware, aircraft carriers.  There are 20 in operation, the U.S. has 12.  You know how many Russia has?  Zero.  China?  One, and this is an obsolete makeover of a former Ukrainian ship.  You'll never guess which country has two?  France?  Germany?  Japan?  UK?  France has one, and Germany, Japan and the UK have a combined zero.  Oh, Italy has two.

The Gerald Ford (right) will be commissioned this year and the John F. Kennedy and Enterprise are next.  The U.S. Navy told Trump we only have 274 ships, all in various stages of obsolescence, and we need a new fleet of 355.  He believed them!  Does he know that aircraft carriers are considered to be strategically obsolete?  Plus, you can't effectively fight terrorists in the ocean.

Well, what about China?  That above poll indicated that their #1 hope for emigration was to America.  Sure, but China has the biggest economy.  Only so because they have too many people.  On a GDP/capita basis, China is #84 ($14,340) in the world.  Mind you, the U.S. is at #11 ($56,084).  #1?  Qatar at $132,870.  I've been there.  You won't want to live in that desert.

Okay, then, who are our competitors?  Japan?  I'm there now, and the disaster at Fukushima could cost them another trillion dollars for the next 40 years.  There is even one estimate of $51 trillion.  Yet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to increase the defense budget.  Remember, Japan and Germany re-became great because they lost World War II and were thusly prohibited from spending money on war.

Russia is a shell of the Soviet Union and getting old quickly.  In 2050 Vietnam is projected to have 20 million more people than Russia.  That's because the Russian population will drop by 20 million and Vietnam will add 30 million.  And I've been there, you can't even safely cross the street anymore because of the motorbikes...and the polluted air.

European Union?  They are a basket case looming to dissolve after a 60-year experiment.  Remember how great Greece was, once?  Or the Romans?  Now they're called Italians.  There was a time when Portugal and Spain were discovering the New World.  Great Britain once ruled the world.  Even Germany is now showing signs of declination.  What happened?

American athletes regularly win the Summer Olympics.  Where we excel more than anything else, of course, is our heart.  We are mostly honest.  Free enterprise works.  We have freedom.  We care about the environment.  President Donald Trump is worrisome, if not scary, because he not honest, he makes fun of the environment and has the attitude of what have the poor done for me lately.  Read Nicholas Kristof's editorial in The New York Times on Trump's Triumph of Incompetence.  It is not a matter of returning America to greatness.   We appear to be in grave danger of squandering our greatness. 

Tropical Cyclone Debbie, with wind gusts of 162 MPH, slammed into the Queensland Coast as a Category 4, dropped as much s 30 inches of rain in 24 hours and, as a slow moving storm, continues to cause floods:


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