Category Archives: Americana

Explain to me why North Korea is an existential problem

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Across 25 years and five administrations, we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road. National Review

The threat, dubbed “the worst problem on earth,” has persisted across U.S. administrations and only grown more alarming over time. Outgoing President Barack Obama warned Trump during the transition that North Korea was the most urgent and vexing problem to confront. NPR

Across the political spectrum, all the news reports on North Korea act as if North Korea is an existential threat to the World and, especially, the United States. I don’t understand it. Nobody seems to have an explanation of why North Korea is such a big threat (I’m guessing somebody must have but if so, I missed it). We are told that Kim Jong-un is crazy and while he does seem to have a crazy haircut, he doesn’t seem to do crazy stuff. Except for the Kim Jong-uh is crazy stuff, nobody explains why North Korea is such a big problem, they just assume that you know, or everybody knows, that it is obvious.

What I do know, or think I know, at least is that North Korea is a country of about 25 million people ruled by Kim Jong-un, the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the dictator appointed by and backed by the, then, Soviet Union. North Korea is next to China in the north – and China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and, theoretically, its biggest external influence – and South Korea in the south (duh!). Its people are starving poor and it still has a larger standing army than we do with (although it is considered to be ill-equipped by modern standards). What it does have is a limited nuclear capacity and an increasingly sophisticated ICBM program which North Korea is trying to parlay into an operational nuclear missile fleet – that’s probably the wrong word – capable of hitting anywhere in the United States. The treat of this program has scared the shit out of us going all the way back to the first Bush. The mainstream media have fanned these fears for over twenty-five years alternating between mocking Kim Jong-un – and he does seem easy to mock – and screaming “The sky is falling!” with no explanation of why this is such an existential problem.

What I think, or know I think, at least is that all this hysteria is made up, there is no real danger, North Korea is like a spoiled kid trying to get the world’s attention. Let’s just imagine, for a minute, that North Korea is fabulously successful in their schemes and they have a hundred nuclear-tipped ICBM ready to go. What are they going to do with them? Nothing, the same as Pakistan or Russia (Russia has about 7,300 nuclear warheads, with about 1800 ready to fire, by the way). If they use them on us or South Korea or Japan, the retaliation would annihilate North Korea along with the Kim Jong-un regime. The only thing a nuclear weapon does is prevent an attack. I read that North Korea is irrational to want nuclear weapon, I think it is irrational to not want them, just ask Moammar Kadafi. We have demonized North Korea since Jun 25, 1950, and we do have a record of attacking countries that we demonize. I think what North Korea wants is attention and the Kim Jong-un regime wants recognition as legitimate.

Demonizing North Korea sells newspapers and magazines, it gets people to watch the nightly news, and it gives the American regime in power a useful distraction. It does not contribute to a better world.

Happy 4th of July….sort of

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I – all of us really, I think – are constantly barraged with Trump; he is always on the front page of some newspaper and on the cover of at least one mag a week – this week it’s The Economist – he is almost always the lead story on the Daily Show or John Oliver, CNN has become obsessed with him, and my Facebook friends and enemies are  screaming back and forth like they are in the third grade. Trump is changing our world, our country, in a way that I don’t like and I am reminded of that many times every day. This new normal tempers my usual 4th of July enthusiasm, I am both mad at my country and frightened for it. And it’s not just Trump buffoonery, it’s our Forever Wars, our pious outrage when Russia does to our political system what we feel we have the right to do to anybody we damn well please, it’s our slide into a corrupt oligarchy.

But, from here, where we live, from the edge of Silicon Valley, California, USA, it’s a great Fourth! (and the influence in our day to day lives is really in that order). On Saturday, we went to the San Jose Earthquake~Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer Professional Football Game at Stanford. The tickets were from my Little Brother, Edwin, who now works for the Earthquakes. It was a full house – predominately, but far from entirely, upscale Hispanic – and it felt so American. Really, when you think about it, what is more American than the immigrant experience, all of us are from immigrant stock. Immigrants are what turned a backwater set of colonies into the most powerful country the world has ever seen and today, here, in Silicon Valley, immigrants or the sons of immigrants, are changing our world, they have given us Intel, eBay, Google, and Apple to name a couple. Watching The Earthquakes/Galaxy struggle on a cool summer night also felt typically Californian, another form of the Northern/Southern California rivalry. The game itself was great, LA scored early but The Quakes played a better game finally tieing the game at the 75 minute, and then winning during the Stoppage time.

I was going to continue this post with some pictures of the Redwood City 150 Year Anniversary and Parade, for some reason unfathomable to me, I cannot upload them.  The Parade had all the usual players, The Mounted Sheriff’s Patrol, firetrucks – lots of firetrucks which came early in the Parade –  and our local SWAT Team marching through the streets like an occupying army, but it also had lots of floats and marchers that would not fit in most parts of America. The largest group at the parade, by far, was Falun Dafa, which touts that it is an advanced self-cultivation practice of the Buddha School and the DAR was represented by the Gaspar de Portola Chapter – which, since Portola was the first governor of Baja California having been appointed by the Spanish crown in 1767, is more irony than I can grasp standing up –  for example.

Anyway, while it is still July, I want to say, again, Happy Fourth of July.

A couple of pics from the Angeles Crest Highway with totally unconnected thoughts

Rules-00751I am not a big rule follower. One of the things that really bugs me is being told to do something only because it is the rule rather than being given a reason. But there are rules, conformities really, that just make life smoother; walking on the right side of a path for example or answering a question when you are the one who brought it up. Trump is one of those people that say – by their actions – “It’s my path, I’ll walk on any side I want” or “There might be tapes of my conversation with Comey.” and then, FORTY-ONE days later, says “I was only kidding.”. Everybody thinks that Trump must have had a good – as in real – reason for saying it in the first place, but I’m not sure, I think it is more likely that he is just a dick with no social graces. He is doing it just because he can. If theree is a reason, it is just of seeing how long he can keep people looking at him. He is the kind of guy that never gets invited back after a “get to know you invite”. He is sad…and a dick.

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Baldy-00753Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’ headline in the New York Times

What most pisses me off about the Democratic Establishment is their complete cluelessness about the Nation they say they should be ruling. Until Trump won, they – they being everybody from the New York Times to Hillary Clinton who was already picking out her cabinet – didn’t have any idea that Trump was actually going to win. Sure, the Polls were off, but only the Liberal Polls, some of the Conservative Polls said Trump was going to win but they were dismissed as Fake News. What was really Fake News, it turns out, were the news sources we want to trust. That is also sad.

Memorial Day

Cemetary-01193Somehow, the post that I made about Memorial Day disappeared into the either, or, maybe, the Dark Web. Rather than trying to reconstruct it, I’ll take it as a sign to write something different.

For Memorial Day, Michele and I went up the Golden Gate National Cemetery and then went home and watched Hacksaw Ridge, a true-story war movie by Mel Gibson. While we were walking around at the Cemetery, I felt like a voyeur and it struck me that I have nobody to mourn who is here. Other people did, other people who were here had friends or family members who were killed in combat, but nobody I loved or even knew, died in combat and I don’t think any of my friends mourned anybody either.  Cemetary B-01203

America has been at almost constant war my whole life and it hasn’t personally touched me. That is more than sad, it is tragic. Not for me,  but for our country. By eliminating the draft, we have separated most of the American people from the consequences of our constant war.  By eliminating the draft, the Military-Industrial Complex – us, really, as in our country – have been able to change the dynamic from people protesting the war because they or their loved ones might get killed to fetishizing our military.

When we had the draft, most rich people could get deferred still enough people got drafted for it to change our national dynamic. Enough people actually went into the military to see how stupid the military was. During the 60s and early 70s – when we still had the draft – people joked that “military intelligence” was an oxymoron because enough people saw the military from the inside. They were much less likely to believe the fantasy of an all heroic, all-conquering military. When a large portion of the population are faced with the potential of being sent into whatever meat-grinder our government is currently touting as critical to saving the world, they are more likely to question the actual worth of that war. I think that lack of national involvement is tragic. Cemetary A-01177

 

 

Bloomberg Businessweek on Trump, “Would You Let This Man Run Your Company?”

Blomberg-01174But in many ways the more appropriate perspective [to judge Trump] is through a  business lens: The immediate issue is whether a boss tried to halt embarrassing revelations about his company; the underlying one is whether he knows how to run it. Bloomberg Businessweek

Several months ago, I got a complimentary copy of Bloomberg Businessweek and really liked it. Several weeks ago, I got one of those cut-rate subscriptions – something like a year for eight bucks – and subscribed. I’m glad I did. This article, in this issue, is especially fascinating. Almost all my usual news sources – except, most of the time, The News Hour on NPR – are slightly to massively hysterical about Trump (although most haven’t sunk to the level of many of my facebook friends who have just given up any pretense of thinking about Trump rationally). So, when The New Yorker has an article on impeachment, say, I have a hard time judging its accuracy.

The Bloomberg article is refreshingly dispassionate. So when Bloomberg says, Behind this list of individual transgressions sit four larger failings: This CEO-in-chief has failed to get things done; he has failed to build a strong team, especially in domestic policy; he hasn’t dealt with conflicts of interest; and his communications is in shambles. it packs a more devastating punch than, say, The New York Times saying the same thing.

Check it out: if you are a Trump fan,  you might find a couple of things that will give you pause and if you think Trump is evil, you might find some things that will give you a more reasonable perspective (as well as getting some good arguments for The Cause).