What American patriot would advance and promote Russia and their President Putin over the reputation of the United States of America? What American patriot would defend Russia and their President Putin over the interests of the United States of America? There have been decades and decades of mistrust, rancor, disagreements, competition, conflicts, and, yes, cooperation with the two countries’ space programs. And yet over the past two years we have seen Donald Trump, the candidate (and again since his election) speak in defense and on behalf of this country’s antagonist. Why? How can this be? Is he so uninformed that he is not aware of Mr. Putin’s past and present atrocities against his own people and those of other countries? Or does he just look with a blind eye for some reason?
IS TRUMP BEHOLDEN TO PUTIN?
These questions will hopefully be answered in the coming months with the naming of the special counsel by the U. S. Justice Department. What we already know is that the Trump organization has relied on money coming out of Russia to fund their projects for many years. The two older Trump sons broadcast several years ago that their organization no longer needed funding from United States Banks, who quit writing the Trump organization loans because of their frequent bankruptcy filings.
They had all the funding they needed coming in from Russia. Hmmm, so if you are beholden to Mr. Putin and his rich cronies for multiple millions of dollars in various projects around the globe, you are very likely not going to want to disappoint the man. Right? You are going to sell your soul to the devil to keep yourself from disappearing in the middle of the night only to be found floating face down the next morning in the middle of the Mockba River–like so many other Putin dissenters.
The “dear” president of Russia, Mr. Putin, is a thug and a murderer, and has been for many years. He has his eye on world domination and becoming more than just the next czar of Russia. His climb to his self-proclaimed throne started in earnest with his last “election” to the presidency. He has demonstrated that he will stop at nothing and will use (and abuse) anyone to fulfill his dreams. Unfortunately, for the U.S., our hapless Mr. Trump has fallen into his web and cannot easily get out.
You are probably asking, how does a typical guy in Florida know this, and how can this guy make such outrageous claims? This is how….
I LOST A RUSSIAN FRIEND TO PUTIN’S “MARAUDERS”
Before making a trip to Moscow in 2011, to satisfy a personal curiosity, I befriended online a fellow from Moscow. We communicated for several months, and he agreed to be my personal guide during my stay in Moscow. Over the time we spent together and, afterward, we became good friends (albeit long distance). At that time he worked for an American architectural firm as an architect by day and an aspiring writer by night. Sergey was verbally fluent in English, though not confident with his writing skills in English. He would write his first draft in Russian, then go back and translate it into English. Several times over the years he asked me to assist him with some of his projects to make sure his grammar and sentence structure were correct.
I grew to greatly respect him. He was honest, caring, sensitive, intelligent and very generous. He lived in very modest accommodations, but had big aspirations. Sergey was fortunate to be able to travel abroad and visited his editor in Los Angeles fairly regularly. He also submitted his first play into a competition in London and was awarded first place in his category. I admired his determination.
That as until last summer, when I could no longer reach him. He was not returning any messages. In August, I learned from his Facebook page that he had abruptly “gone missing” in June. He was to meet friends for dinner and never showed up at the restaurant. Our last communication was in May–his requesting that I support an initiative he was promoting for President Obama. He had signed an online petition at the White House website requesting that the President intervene with Putin, as he may be able, against the erosion of personal rights which were under attack in Putin’s Russia. He disappeared approximately three weeks after that communication. We (Facebook friends) learned not long after this that the Russians had hacked into the White House computers and my guess is that the petition site was one of the non-secure areas that was breached. Putin’s thugs had Sergey’s name.
Sergey was also becoming more and more verbally anti-Putin in Moscow and online during this time.
He had told me of Putin’s “Marauders” who were attacking the Putin dissenters as, when it came to Putin, no criticism as being tolerated. We have since learned of the many names of the more well-known dissenters who have been found dead by one means or another over the last year or so. A Facebook friend in Helsinki shared that he had observed Sergey being “unwisely fearless” in his online activism.
My friend met the same demise as other Putin “enemies.” We found out in September that his cremated ashes were unexpectedly delivered to his family. There was no known, or released, information or explanation. We all “knew” what had happened. Last summer, according to some posts by one of Sergey’s friends, approximately 1,000 Russians were “going missing” every month!
THE TRUMP-PUTIN IMPERATIVE
So, is this the man President Donald Trump is defending? A hideous murderer and power hungry madman? Sociopaths of a feather stick together, I suppose. Trump is power hungry, as well, with visions of grandeur. He has Putin’s power and fame, and I think envies the same thing for himself. He is either unwilling or unable (due to his delusion) to objectively look at the real Vladimir Putin. Then again, maybe he just doesn’t care. Trump also, on some level, realizes in his current predicament and indebtedness to Putin, that if he does not promote Putin, he could find himself or some members of his family…well, eliminated.
This socio/political experiment with Donald Trump in the highest office of the land must end! Experiment results: Failure! It never did compute!
[This narrative was received by Columnist with a View for publication at my (the editor’s) request, as I have known about Richard’s experience for some time now. I chose to do very little editing on this piece because I wanted it to be real, unpolished, and as close to the original manuscript as possible. My personal thanks to Richard Moberly for his being kind and generous enough to share his personal experience and editorial remarks.]
GEORGE WILL PREDICTS OBAMACARE TO BECOME SINGLE-PAYER BECAUSE OF THIS INCONVENIENT FACT by Egberto Willies
GEORGE WILL SPOKE AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH TO THE TRUMP VOTER
George Will realized that America’s health care reality means that not only is Obamacare unrepealable but that we are on our way to a single-payer system. He seemed resigned to the fact that the failed market-based health care system he wants to retain is likely dying a slow qualified death.
“Barack Obama said as a candidate that he would prefer a single-payer plan but couldn’t get there,” George Will said. “As President when they were going through the Obamacare agonies, he said, look upon Obamacare as a starter home. The beginning, the thin end of an enormous wedge heading toward that. What does Donald Trump say? ‘Single-payer works fine in Scotland.’ So I don’t see any particular animus he has as you say against a single-payer plan. And, what we’ve learned in this debate about repealing Obamacare is that the essence of Obamacare is the expansion of Medicaid. Who has benefited from that? Probably disproportionately white working-class males, Trump voters.”
I have been saying that Obamacare was designed to be a stepping stone to single-payer health care for years. It is clear that it is the only solution.
It’s about time that Conservatives come to the realization that those that benefit the most from the policies enacted by Progressives are people in the Red States. Ironically if Trump, Ryan, and their Republican cohort were successful in repealing Obamacare and instituting their draconian health care policies, their constituents would bear the brunt of the pain. While that eventuality would likely flip both the House and the Senate, it is something we cannot wish on our brothers and sisters who bought into the lie.
This is why we #resist — not only for ourselves but the country as a whole.
[The interview this piece excerpts first appeared on MSNBC and can be viewed in full by googling “George Will on Healthcare.” Recently progressive-leaning, Trump critic George Will is a long-time, noted Conservative columnist and pundit. This excerpt first appeared in Daily Kos and is reprinted here with permission.]
“Flip-flopping” once sounded the death knell for presidential candidates or politicians. President Donald Trump holds the record for “flip-flopping” and outright lying. It doesn’t seem to hamper his relationship with his base constituency. According to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, during the campaign, Trump flip-flopped so often it was impossible to determine his actual policy positions on anything. President Trump still flip-flops and lies on a regular basis!
Candidate Trump asserted many times that he would not reduce funding for Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor. He tweeted: “THE REPUBLICANS WHO WANT TO CUT SS & MEDICAID ARE WRONG.” Now, the president embraces congressional plans to replace Obamacare (ACA), changing the financing base for Medicaid to a block grant system.
In a Fox News interview (Aug. 9), Trump discussed the stock market. “If rates go up, you’re going to see something that’s not pretty. It’s all a big bubble.” Campaigning in Ohio on Sept. 5, he said: “We have a very false economy. The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market.” Now that the stock market is reacting somewhat positively, presumably, to the Trump presidency, the president has repeatedly celebrated the continued rise of the stock market as evidence that his presidency is positively affecting the U.S. economy. (Kessler, The Washington Post)
Trump maintained that unemployment figures are “a complete fraud as evidenced by the jobless claims number.” He claimed during his campaign that the real unemployment was anywhere from 15% to 43%. He tweeted in August, 2016, the employment rate is “ONE OF THE BIGGEST HOAXES IN MODERN AMERICAN POLITICS.” Now, accepting unemployment numbers as reported, he told WH spokesperson Sean Spicer, “[unemployment statistics] may have been phony in the past, but [they’re] very real now.”
Trump often declared NATO outdated because it doesn’t cover terrorism, and, because the various countries do not pay their dues. After a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg, he changed his tune, saying it was no longer obsolete. “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”
Trump has frequently stated that China is a currency manipulator–as recently as ten days before he announced China is NOT a currency manipulator. He said China was a “‘world champion,’ of devaluing the yuan.” Trump flip-flopped following his meeting with China’s president in Mar-a-Lago, his posh Palm Beach, Florida resort.
In more than a dozen tweets in 2013 and 2014, Trump consistently opposed U.S. military action in Syria, urging then-President Barack Obama against launching air attacks on Syria for allegedly deploying chemical weapons. Trump said the United States should focus on domestic issues instead. President Trump took military action days after a chemical weapons attack in Syria, mocking Obama for inaction after declaring a “red line in the sand.” About his decision to order the airstrike [against a Syrian airbase], Trump offered no acknowledgment of his previous strong stance against such action.
Does President Trump know Russian President Vladimir Putin personally? As recently as April 12, 2016 Trump claimed: “I don’t know Putin.” In November, 2015, Trump repeatedly asserted he not only knew Putin, but knew him “very well,” and that he had a “relationship” with the Russian president.
Candidate Trump stated several times that he would be in the White House essentially “all the time” since there is so much work to be done. President Trump has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency, at tremendous taxpayer expense, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida playing golf!
Additionally, he is flying his wife Melania (who is a “more-or-less” First Lady) from Trump Tower in New York City along with members of his staff to Florida for the weekends. He is holding top-level meetings with foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago, while the White House in Washington, D.C. (which is staffed and maintained by the United States government for such purposes) stands virtually vacant. Is the president billing the taxpayer for the use of his “winter White House?” Who knows?
These are merely a few examples. It’s difficult to know what policies, or lack thereof, are “firmed up” in President Trump’s mind. If we don’t know precisely where he stands on important policy concerns, how can we expect to be functional in our dealings with countries around the world? It is paramount that countries, and particularly adversaries, know where the United States stands while dealing with crucial questions–war and peace depend upon it!
According to a survey (April, 2017) Pulse (MSNBC) over 90% of responders agreed that violence is on the rise since Donald Trump was elected. I believe one of the reasons for this is a growing uncertainty about where we are going and what lies ahead with an administration that is becoming increasingly hawkish; while, at the same time, becoming obviously more and more unstable. Is President Donald Trump flying by the seat of his pants? We don’t know!
This winter, Maury and I completed another “bucket list” adventure, which included visits to China, Japan and South Korea. Two decades ago Maury and I spent a week in China, which then appeared to be a sleeping dragon. Now, that dragon appears to be breathing economic fire.
A week in China and conversation with informed sources does not make me any type of authority on China’s economy, but some things stand out. Whether the United States likes it or not, China is determined to be the world’s major economy. Our country must make sure that the current American isolationism stance does not catapult China into the world’s trade leadership position.
In 1996 we visited Hong Kong, long a British possession, to see this region before the communists took it over the following year. It was lively and economically prosperous; the American expectation was that it would be ruined by communist involvement. Today there is political conflict between old Hong Kong attitudes and Mainland Chinese, but the 40 square mile area with about 7.5 million people is thriving with construction and ultra modern skyscrapers.
Two decades ago, when we visited China’s capital, Beijing, it was in an early state of 20th Century growth and was dominated by bicycle traffic. Roadways were being constructed. Pollution from coal burning plants was high. It’s worse today; many Chinese wear protective masks, not just for illnesses, but also to cope with the frequent bad air quality. Now, traffic jams abound; one highway reportedly has 50 lanes of traffic.
This trip, we also visited Tianjin, a city of 12 million, about which we had no previous knowledge. It had traffic congestion and a majestic art museum. The most amazing part was its port area, about an hour from the city center.
The area has been identified as the Free Trade Zone of Tianjin, which The Wall Street Journal covered extensively in early March. It is immense and under development. Recently paved unused streets, vast numbers of new sparsely occupied high rises and shipping containers stacked like Legos abound. By the way, Lego has recently announced that its sales are now flat in the U.S. and so they will be concentrating on China. The port of Tianjin is part of China’s trade future.
The main thoroughfares of major Chinese cities are illuminating. It’s not the occasional McDonald’s that makes one wonder about this brand of communism, but the large numbers of truly upscale stores. Tiffany’s and world-renowned upscale clothing stores with sky-high prices are common. All sorts of vehicles are clogging the roads; BMWs and Mercedes are everywhere. China rules its people with an iron communistic fist, but it understands business and capitalism.
From a country that was building roads by hand in the 1990s to the city of Shanghai that now has about 30 million residents, a skyline of skyscrapers and boasts an elevated expressway that runs above the city for 135 miles, China is no longer a third world economy or one that is just producing inexpensive merchandise.
Our brief experience in China shows that our government needs to develop long-range, realistic economic trade policies. Writing in the Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer noted that, “Trump’s isolationism is pushing countries into China’s arms.” China is serious about becoming the world’s dominant economic power. America will suffer if it simply embraces isolationism and avoids mutually beneficial trade agreements.
[Diane W. Mufson is a regular contributor to the editorial page of the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. This article first appeared in the H-D Thursday, April 6, 2017. We felt it was so interesting our readers around the world (even in China!) would enjoy it. Diane and her husband Maury live in Huntington, West Virginia. Diana is a retired psychologist.]
Tomorrow [January 20, 2017], the 45th president of the United States of America will be sworn in. Never in my wildest dreams did I, nor millions of Americans envision Donald J. Trump in that role.
Millions of Americans, myself included, are scared, apprehensive, curious (add other adjectives at will) how President Trump will act as our nation’s leader. During the presidential campaign and even recently, his behavior has been unpredictable and viewed as racist, misogynist and crass. Looking back in history, it is somewhat comforting to know that more than a few presidents have displayed arrogant, obnoxious or “unpresidential” behavior and our country has remained whole.
Most Americans, even those who admire and support the future President Trump, have no idea of what he will really do. Will he build that wall and who will pay for it?
Will he completely abolish “Obamacare?” One of his promises was to “drain the swamp of political and Wall Street insiders in Washington, but it looks like there are quite a few of those “alligators” circling the White House moat.
But, back to history and past presidents’ behaviors. Writers for the Christian Science Monitor, Pew Research and the New Republic have suggested that our next president has some personality characteristics in common with John Adams (second president), his son, John Quincy Adams (sixth president),
Andrew Jackson (seventh President and John Tyler (tenth president). Although these men were viewed as bright and politically experienced, they were seen as temperamental, bull-headed, impulsive and having numerous interpersonal crises.
John Adams’ difficult interpersonal issues were humorously portrayed in the musical “1776” and he was reported to accept advice only from one source–his wife, Abigail. He signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, the former dealt harshly with immigration problems and the latter permitted punishing journalists if they made what was considered malicious or false claims against government officials. According to a biographer, Paul Nagel, John Quincy Adams, the son of President Adams, was “notorious for his harshness, tactlessness and even rudeness,” yet also appreciated for the Monroe Doctrine and ending the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson was said to be arrogant and involved in brawls, yet respected for his opinions, John Tyler’s wife died while he was president. He then married a much younger woman and bragged about his sexual prowess. He vetoed legislation he promised to sign and five out [of] six of his cabinet members resigned.
Other presidential scholars suggest that Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson had some personality traits similar to our newest president. Both were known for their domineering and controlling behavior as well as “earthy” language. Other presidents have been under scrutiny for their behaviors. Richard Nixon apparently believed that any means justified the ends; we know how that saga ended.
Bill Clinton led this nation through much prosperity, but his sexual indiscretion left a lasting memory. Without accurate evidence and faulty rationale, George W. Bush led us into a war that destabilized the world.
No one in this nation, except perhaps the three oldest Trump children and his son-in-law, have a real understanding of America’s 45th president and what he will or will not do as he takes control of the highest office in the land.
History tells us that our nation has survived numerous past presidents who have made poor choices or had difficult personalities; some have even achieved good results. For our nation’s sake, we must hope that this holds true for President Donald J. Trump and that he will not twitter away his potential for positive effects.
[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch, where Ms Mufson is a regular contributor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]