Archive for the ‘World affairs’ Category

Turkey’s tragedy. France next?

April 17, 2017

Yet another bad day for optimists and believers in progress. It really feels like the lights are going out.

Turkey matters, a lot. This key nation has been a NATO bulwark, and poster boy for the idea that democracy and Islam can be compatible. That idea just took a huge hit with Turkey’s referendum vote approving President Erdogan’s proposed new constitution, basically abolishing checks on his power and making him a dictator.

How could anyone vote for that? But Erdogan already had a strong core of voters who back him no matter what (sound familiar?), who feel forgotten by the country’s elites (sound familiar?), and religious fundamentalists (ditto). And then he exploited last year’s coup attempt to whip up a nationalist hysteria against legions of imagined enemies, domestic and foreign. The constitutional change was presented as a way to smack down those bad guys once and for all. Indeed, anyone questioning this was demonized as an enemy of the people.

Erdogan

This was accompanied by a vast repression. With the coup attempt as pretext, Erdogan has jailed tens of thousands, and around a hundred thousand others have been sacked. This includes huge numbers of not only military personnel, but lawyers, judges, journalists, politicians, civil servants, teachers; a gigantic witch-hunt persecuting anyone whose fealty to the regime is questioned. And of course no criticism of the proposed constitution was tolerated. Opponents were cowed into silence. Erodgan had already destroyed independent press and media in Turkey.

Evet means yes

Considering all this, it may seem remarkable that half the country still had the intestinal fortitude to vote “no.” Yet given the ugly climate of repression and fear Erdogan has created, it’s sobering that half the country would vote to endorse and even worsen it.

An optimistic hope is that having finally achieved his long-sought aim, Erdogan will ease up. But giving bad men more power does not make them better. Erdogan actually started out in 2003 as a good guy, doing a lot right. But then power corrupted him, making him a monster of megalomania. He’s already shown what extremes he’s capable of, even under the old system with some constitutional brakes. Removing those brakes is insane.

Suffering particularly is Turkey’s persecuted Kurdish minority. In his earlier, better incarnation, Erdogan was moving toward resolving those ethnic tensions. But then he switched back to violence, as part of his program to foment nationalist hysteria. Now the repression of Kurds is utterly vicious. This too is insanity for Turkey’s future.

The next light flickering is France’s. I wrote recently about its presidential election, whose first round is April 23. Conventional wisdom says Marine Le Pen, the Trumplike populist, will place first, but surely lose the subsequent run-off. Conventional wisdom had said Trump could not win either.

Pray with Macron

When I wrote last, it seemed the likeliest second round would be Le Pen against Emmanuel Macron, whose economics are rational. But I have no confidence in the French voting uncharacteristically for such a candidate. And indeed the one now surging in the polls is Jean-Luc Melenchon, a far left firebrand, backed by the Communist party, who appeals to France’s inveterate romanticist hostility to globalism, trade, and markets. A run-off between Le Pen and Melenchon — Skylla and Charybdis — could well be curtains for the European Union.

Putin and the Kremlin have been messing with France’s election too, trying to undermine Macron and boost Le Pen — for the same reason they backed Trump — to cripple an adversary nation. This should, in a rational world, put French voters off Le Pen in droves. But every day it seems the world grows less rational.

The Syria strike

April 8, 2017

Having been a relentless critic of Trump, I will give the Devil his due. I approve of the Syrian airstrike. I’m glad it was done.

President Obama’s passivity on Syria was execrable. Early in the conflict we might very possibly have achieved something greatly serving our interests. Inaction as well as action has risks and consequences; in this case they were horrific. And then the “red line” fiasco made things even worse, shredding U.S. credibility. Obama let himself be played for a fool by Putin with a phony deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, which they were never seriously going to honor. And when Assad later resumed chemical attacks, Obama had little choice but to look the other way. The latest chemical attack was indeed one of many, if perhaps a particularly egregious one.

Around a hundred were killed, which Trump said significantly changed his view of the Assad regime. A really stunning thing to say, considering the 400,000 killed in this 6-year-long atrocity, with millions (half Syria’s population) made refugees (whom Trump still refuses to help), and the well-documented reports of industrial-scale torture venues where tens of thousands, including many children, have been murdered in hideous ways. After all this, a hundred deaths changed his mind? Does he even have one?

At least, in contrast to Obama’s sorry record, Trump not only acted, but acted swiftly, with no second-guessing or crawling fecklessly to Congress for an unlikely approval. And at least, as David Brooks commented, this moves Trump toward a somewhat normal presidency, with America again the upholder of an international system.

“How many ears must one person have before he can hear people cry?”

However, while our action was long overdue, it wasn’t much of one. Hardly even a pinprick, it changes nothing (and might actually prolong the war, that we still have no plan for ending). Better an airstrike on a significant target, like a command-and-control facility. Like, say, the presidential palace. And better yet if Assad is home.

Trump’s foreign policy: a feckless fog of foolishness

April 5, 2017

You know the slogans: America first. Make America great again. No more playing patsy for other countries.

The reality: the opposite.

But this, like all Trump’s “policies,” is not a matter of considered strategy. Instead it’s the product of his incompetence, mental disorder, vile character, and monumental ignorance about how the world actually works. He’s stumbling around in a feckless fog of foolishness.

Trump says China is “raping” us on trade. So what’s the first thing he does? Kills the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP, as Thomas Friedman points out, was our made-in-America deal with 12 other Pacific nations to shape regional trade to our interests and values. A powerful move against China on the global chessboard. Trump’s cancelling it hands China a tremendous victory. Now it’s China that will make the region’s trade rules, and those other countries will be forced to play China’s game – not ours.

Calling the TPP a bad deal was another of Trump’s huge lies. Likely he never bothered to check the facts, choosing instead to pander to voters phobic about trade. The TPP would have been a super deal for us, benefiting our most dynamic industries, and with unprecedented labor, environmental, and human rights standards. It would have lowered prices for our consumers on imported goods. A Peterson Institute study concluded the TPP would have boosted annual real U.S. incomes by $131 billion, with no job losses.

And then Secretary of State Tillerson goes to China, hiding from the press, and kowtowing about mutual respect and nonconfrontation – music to the ears of China’s Communist bosses as they aggressively strive to dominate their region and banish U.S. influence.

And remember how America used to be a magnet for all the world’s best and brightest? Coming here to build their careers – greatly enriching and strengthening America in the process. But Trump has effectively put up “Keep Out” signs, signaling all those smart energetic foreigners they’re not welcome here. Surely many more Chinese technology whizkids (whose talents we actually desperately need) will now choose to stay home – again boosting China to our detriment. Foreign tourism, unsurprisingly, is way down too, another self-inflicted economic wound.

Also, in the global game, trust and credibility are a golden currency. It does not help if the world sees our president as a pathological liar. He touts himself as the Great Deal Maker, but what country will trust his word? Not to mention his insulting and picking fights with our friends. Further, we have lost the moral high ground from which to push other nations on issues like corruption, transparency, human rights, and adherence to the whole panoply of international norms of behavior. Trump cozies up to bad guys, even saying the U.S. is no better than Russia! And America’s biggest asset in world affairs has been its attractiveness as a culture others want to emulate. Trump is trashing that asset too, in countless ways blackening America’s international image. Nobody wants to emulate this crassness.

Then there’s Trump’s proposed budget, drastically slashing funds for the State Department, foreign aid, the UN, climate change, and the World Bank. True, some of that spending is wasted (as is much military spending – yet Trump wants to shower the Pentagon with money). But the reason we do foreign aid and those other things is because they increase American influence throughout the world. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Moreover, they make a more prosperous, humane, peaceful, stable world – thus a better neighborhood to live in. A huge benefit for us: fewer countries making trouble, fewer humanitarian disasters to deal with, and bigger markets for our exports. Trump is clueless how America’s role as the linchpin of a web of international institutions makes a better world, which amply advances our interests. Withdrawing from such global engagement, behind walls of our own making, is not a recipe for American greatness.

Everything discussed above is called “soft power,” as distinguished from military might. Trump does, as noted, want to boost Pentagon spending. As if there will be another WWII or Vietnam War. Our military budget already exceeds the next seven countries’ combined. Spending even more — on capacities very unlikely ever to be needed — won’t make us better off. Especially not if it’s at the expense of soft power (which yields more bang for the buck anyway).

This is all bad news not just for us, but for the whole world. As America tosses away its global leadership role, guess which countries will jump in to fill that void? Not Denmark and Switzerland. We will not like what results. Not a nice neighborhood to live in.

That’s why the Kremlin tried to get Trump elected. They understand all this perfectly, and that Trump does not.

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

April 2, 2017

What is more precious than freedom and independence?

The answer: nothing.

But this has a sardonic double meaning; and that’s key to The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

Nguyen is a Vietnam-born American. The book’s narrator (never named) is the bastard child of an American priest and a Vietnamese girl. Toward war’s end he is a close aide to a South Vietnamese general in charge of the police. But the narrator is the “sympathizer” of the title; i.e., a Communist sympathizer. More, he is actually working for the other side, as a mole.

Nguyen is a wonderful writer. Not just a good story-teller; the prose itself scintillates. Sentences are not given flatly, but usually with a wry kick. At one point he refers to beer tasting like baby’s piss. A lesser writer would just say piss; but that’s banal; comparing beer to baby’s piss is not. (Though even if one knows the taste of piss, would the particular flavor of a baby’s be recognizable?)

There is a delicious sex scene between the narrator in youth and a squid (destined for dinner). It recalled the episode in Portnoy’s Complaint with a piece of liver. I’ve always liked liver; I’ve never liked squid. But Thanh’s writing was so erotically charged it made me want to give squid another try.

And how about this passage:

“The Chinese might have invented gunpowder and the noodle, but the West had invented cleavage, with profound if underappreciated implications. A man gazing on semi-exposed breasts was not only engaging in lasciviousness, he was also meditating, even if unawares, on the visual embodiment of the verb ‘to cleave,’ which meant both to cut apart and to put together. A woman’s cleavage perfectly illustrated this double and contradictory meaning, the breasts two separate entities with one identity. The double meaning was also present in how cleavage separated a woman from a man and yet drew him to her with the irresistible force of sliding down a slippery slope. Man had no equivalent, except, perhaps, for the only kind of male cleavage most women truly cared for, the open and closing of a well stuffed billfold.”

This meditation (prompted of course by the narrator’s experiencing “the gravitational pull” of a woman’s display) continues further. And its cynicism is wholly characteristic. The book is mainly about politics, not sex, and reads very cynically indeed.

That was me (1973 photo by Jack Henke)

In April of 1975 the Communists suddenly win the war. Despite actually working for them, the narrator stays with the General and his entourage escaping Saigon, for America, by air. That chaotic evacuation is evocatively described. On that day I happened to be typing away on a fantasy novel, coincidentally with a comparable episode. The radio was on. And a sentence I heard on a newscast slid, perfect and unaltered, directly into my manuscript, as though I was taking dictation. One of life’s weird moments. (The novel, Children of the Dragon, was published by Avon in 1978.)

Nguyen’s narrator, after coming to America, gets involved as a consultant on Vietnamese authenticity for an unnamed “auteur” making a movie, shot in the Philippines, scathingly satirizing Francis Ford Coppola and Apocalypse Now. Meantime, he also continues doing dirty work (including killings) for the General, as the latter organizes an expatriate army to reinvade Vietnam (this really happened); while the narrator continues as a spy, reporting everything to his Communist superiors. Eventually (against their wishes), he joins the General’s ragtag force on its doomed mission, is promptly captured, and despite his mole role he’s sent to a “re-education” camp.

And so we get the obligatory “enhanced interrogation” scenes. He isn’t exactly tortured. Not exactly. But this section of the book is not for the squeamish.

I’ve mentioned cynicism. That certainly pervades the Apocalypse Now sequence. But unsurprisingly the main canvas for cynicism is America’s war role itself. Yes, that history is not entirely glorious. War is hell, and a lot of bad things happen in war. But I remain a rare unrepentant defender of our Vietnam involvement. We sought to help an independent nation, with at least some degree of freedom, against aggression aiming to impose a Communist tyranny. The justness of that cause was borne out by the aftermath, in which two million Vietnamese “boat people” risked their lives, and many lost them, trying to escape what we fought to prevent.

So I found it grating to read the narrator’s words, so full of corrosive cynicism toward America. “After all,” he says, “nothing was more American than wielding a gun and committing oneself to die for freedom and independence, unless it was wielding that gun to take away someone else’s freedom and independence.” Those words again. And your standard empty anti-capitalist blather. Set against misplaced romanticism about the Communist cause. It was easy to infer that the author was using the narrator as a vehicle to express his own viewpoint.

But not so fast. The narrator is not the author, but a character, and ironically enough, he does get re-educated in that re-education camp. The reality behind the slogans peeps through for him (and the reader). At long last, he grasps the subversive alternate meaning to the catch-phrase formula: nothing is more precious than freedom and independence — communist style. He realizes that’s what the war was fought for — for nothing.

He becomes a boat-person himself, rating his chances of survival at fifty-fifty. But those, he decides, “are excellent odds, as the chances of one ultimately dying are one hundred percent.” (Something we should always remember.)

And finally, he declares, “We remain that most hopeful of creatures, a revolutionary in search of a revolution.”

The French election sex drama

March 10, 2017

Hollande

I have written snarkily about French politics. (Not that today’s U.S. politics is to brag about.) I considered Socialist President Hollande ridiculous when elected, and apparently the French themselves soon did too. He isn’t even trying for re-election.

Yet the Socialist presidential nomination was won by a doubling-down purist left winger, Benoit Hamon – consigning the party to irrelevance. (Democrats take note.)

Le Pen

But the big story is Marine Le Pen. Her National Front party was founded by her father as a racist, quasi-fascist one, toxic to most French voters. But then she took over, booted Dad out, and aimed for detoxification and political seriousness.

Some of Le Pen’s critique of the French status quo is actually on target. Its voters have long dwelt in a fantasyland that romanticizes a paternalistic state and reviles the “harshness” of business and commerce. But unfortunately Le Pen’s platform is  a farrago of populist garbage much like Trumpism. Anti-trade, anti-globalist, anti-EU, anti-immigration, promising to restore the 1950s. (I’ve heard her called a rightist candidate with leftist economics — showing how mixed up these categories have become.) Catastrophic if her program were actually enacted. Yet, after the dimwitted Brexit and Trump victories, Marine Le Pen has been seen as threatening to consummate a populist trifecta by riding the same sort of voter rebelliousness into the Élysée Palace. And thus as profoundly threatening Europe’s whole future.

France votes in two rounds, with a run-off between the first round’s top two contenders. (Nobody ever gets a first-round majority.) Daddy Le Pen once managed to sneak into the second round (pipping another limp Socialist nominee), but then an overwhelming decent-minded majority voted for the conventional alternative. Now Marine Le Pen is considered a shoo-in to also reach the second round – and with far better chances there.

Yet there’s much doubt the French would really break so dramatically with conventionality. Hence whoever faces her in the run-off was still expected to be an overwhelming favorite.

Fillon

Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy tried for a comeback, seeking the nomination of his center-right party. But he lost to Francois Fillon after they battled to outdo each other in Muslim-bashing, even advocating idiotic burkini bans. Considering too Fillon’s Trumplike pro-Putinism, he did not seem like France’s savior.

And that was before scandals blew up on him. Fillon was charged with giving family members no-show government jobs with fat salaries. And then with failing to declare a big crony loan. How odiously corrupt the French elite is! No wonder outsider Le Pen attracts support. So far, Fillon refuses to quit the race.

So Hamon, Le Pen, Fillon – take your pick. What a depressing menu of choices.

But wait . . .

Here comes the man in the white hat. Running as an independent, Emmanuel Macron, only 39, former investment banker and economy minister, who – in France! – actually seems to believe in open free markets and trade, globalization, and curbing the hand of the state. Maybe even that prosperity is created not by government largesse but by productive work, making goods and services people want to buy. How thoroughly un-French; equivalent to being a bomb-thrower.

Naturally this heretic’s chances were rated at approximately zero. Until Fillon’s scandals. Now Macron is on a tear in the polls, and might even beat Fillon into the run-off.

Macron

Pity those poor French if faced with a choice between two run-off candidates neither of whom presents the comforting political pablum they’re accustomed to. Will they swallow Le Pen’s guileful snake oil or bite the unpalatable bullet of Macron’s economic reality?

The world is watching. Let us hope the tide of madness can finally be turned back.

Selling girls in Afghanistan

February 19, 2017

You’re a thirteen year old girl, in Afghanistan, when your father sells you to a warlord as his fourth wife; with two of your sisters thrown into the deal, for his henchmen. (One soon burns herself to death.)

unknownThis is The Pearl That Broke its Shell, a 2014 novel by Nadia Hashimi. I’ve written before about how such “traditional” culture blights male-female relations, reviewing Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. At least the guy in that book was almost a human being, almost trying.

Pearl tells the stories of Rahima, the thirteen year old, and her great-great-grandmother Shekiba. Here’s something I learned about: Rahima spent some time as “Rahim,” a bacha posh, a girl living as a boy. This is not a transgender thing. Rather, it’s to evade all the societal restrictions on girls, and people wink at it. Thus “Rahim” could go to the market alone and haggle with vendors, thus helping her mother.

As a wife, Rahima was strictly confined in the warlord’s house and her role consisted of household chores, sexual servitude, and taking beatings. The only difference from being in prison was child-bearing. So maybe the better analogy is to slavery.

unknown-1Being a warlord with four wives might sound like a cool gig. Would I want it? No thanks. And a Henny Youngman joke is not coming here. When I compare the deep, warm, human relationship I have with my (one) wife against the cold, harsh, inhumane ones portrayed in these books, I weep with gratitude for our culture and what it gives us – and I weep for people in societies like Afghanistan’s, who don’t even know what they’re missing.

One thing missing is romance and seduction. Being a sexual object is a wife’s duty. Thus, her own sexuality is no part of the equation. It was striking that the lone male character in Pearl portrayed with a modicum of humanity nevertheless, when deflowering his new wife Shekiba, did it with no preliminaries. Not even an explanation to soften what was about to happen (and it didn’t take long). Whatever word Afghans use for this act, it cannot rightly translate as “lovemaking,” and sounds about as much fun as Trump’s pussy grabbing. Again , no thanks.

Hirsi Ali

Hirsi Ali

I think often of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s memoir Infidel, talking of her arrival in the Netherlands as a refugee, after life in various Muslim countries. It was like landing on a different planet. Very quickly her eyes were opened to this being a good society, that enables people to live good lives. Much unlike her own past homes.

As for Rahima, her warlord hubby develops buyer’s remorse, and spots another chick he fancies; but a Muslim can’t have more than four wives. images-2Rahima realizes this does not bode well for her. She is disposable, literally; can be simply killed to reopen the fourth-wife slot, and nobody would do a thing. But there’s a happy ending; Rahima manages to escape to a women’s shelter in Kabul.

Unfortunately most Afghanis have no escape route.

What “Charles” did yesterday

February 11, 2017

unknownAt yesterday’s joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump welcomed him to “the very famous white house.” When I mentioned this to my wife, it cracked her up as much as it did me.

Meantime, though, I was mildly surprised to hear Trump pronounce Abe’s name correctly (“AH-bay”).

But that was countered moments later when the Prime Minister remarked how previously Trump had mispronounced his name as “Abe,” as in Abe Lincoln. Followed by a riff on how great Abe Lincoln was.

unknown-1Trump is no Abe Lincoln. You might think a president, preparing to meet a foreign leader, would be sure to ask his staff how to pronounce the guy’s name. But our president believes he already knows everything. No matter how often that’s proven wrong.

We are experiencing technical difficulties

February 3, 2017

Notice to the World:

unknownWe are currently experiencing technical difficulties. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please be patient. We hope to have normal service restored
. . . in about four years.

Sincerely,

A M E R I C A

My wet dreams of The Gambia

February 1, 2017

As America’s president trashes a world order that has sustained peace and rising global prosperity, it is reassuring to know that progress is still nevertheless happening.

I wrote in 2013 about it happening in Africa, despite a long dire history. I mentioned South Sudan, but unfortunately, since then it’s exhibited the worst of Africa’s baleful syndromes. It’s not simply ethnic conflict; it’s stoked and exploited by individuals for the sake of their own power and enrichment, looting the state. But South Sudan is only one of more than fifty African nations; and more are climbing out of that syndrome than are falling into it.

images-1I also wrote there of Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). In 2010, President Gbagbo lost a presidential election, but refused to give up power. When I first heard that news, I said to myself, “How many will die?” The answer was in the thousands. But in the end, after a short civil war, with the help of French forces, Gbagbo was not only ousted but arrested and sent for trial to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Now that’s progress.

More recently, President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia (another small African nation) similarly lost an election and refused to leave. “Here we go again,” I said to myself.

Jammeh

Jammeh

Jammeh had been in power since a 1994 coup, and was not a nice man. It was actually surprising that a real election was held, in which a real opponent was tolerated, and in which votes were counted fairly. I suspect that Jammeh was actually surprised he didn’t win. Guys like that often become such narcissists with such bloated egos they imagine everyone loves them, and surround themselves with toadies who flatter those delusions (sound familiar?). Maybe Jammeh thought people actually like being tortured.

Yet, when he lost, Jammeh at first — another surprise — said he’d accept the result and even graciously congratulated the winner. But then he changed his mind; maybe because people started talking about an accounting for his past crimes. “Here we go again.”

But this is not your father’s Africa any more. In fact, neighboring African nations took a stand, saying this kind of crap would no longer be tolerated in their midst. And it was not just talk. They sent troops into The Gambia.

images-3Please linger upon this breathtaking fact. African nations sent soldiers into a neighbor country, not to pillage it, but to help enforce an election result. This is, for an idealist liberal interventionist like me, the stuff of wet dreams.

And it succeeded. Jammeh has stood down and flown out of the country into exile (taking with him millions in booty, including shipment of several posh cars). Unlike in the case of Ivory Coast, there was no bloodshed.

Note that this was not a triumph of pacifism. Nobody favors war, but a pacifist ethic doesn’t help us resolve real conflicts. Negotiation and diplomacy are all very nice; those African nations did engage in diplomacy and negotiation with Jammeh; but they backed it up with guns, and that made the difference.

A world like this is good for America’s own national interest. This is what America should be actively promoting.

America’s Shame

January 28, 2017

President Trump’s Muslim travel restrictions are a sickening betrayal of what America stands for. Or used to stand for.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

unknownMy mother came through that golden door in 1938 as a refugee from persecution and violence. But most German Jews were not so lucky. America’s WWII refusal to do more for them remains a stain on our national honor. Today we add a new stain by slamming the golden door against victims of the monstrous horror in Syria, and other Muslim victims.

Another thing this nation used to stand for was religious openness. images-1George Washington wrote that Jews are not merely tolerated in America, they are Americans. Non-discrimination among religions was a bedrock principle on which this nation was built. Yet Trump’s order exempts Christians from the travel ban.

His action caters to the basest, dumbest prejudices of his followers. Make us safe from terrorism? While these people have an insane love affair with guns, that kill hundreds of times more Americans than terrorism? Where is the common sense? The San Bernardino and Orlando shooters killed far fewer people than die every week through gun accidents. But anyhow they were U.S. citizens who would not have been affected by Trump’s stupid action.

Meantime, he has singled out seven Muslim nations for his travel ban. None of the 9/11 terrorists came from those seven. They all came from four nations not on Trump’s list. But those four (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and UAE) are all countries for which a ban would be politically problematic. So instead Trump picks other ones.

But even if the countries were the right ones, this would still be an exceptionally silly action. As if would-be terrorists would go through the vetting process. As if people willing to massacre others, even to blow themselves up, could not find ways to sneak in. images-2Trump’s despicable action will hurt tens of thousands of desperate, suffering people, while inconveniencing bad guys not at all. (How hard is it to masquerade as “Christian?”)

George W. Bush, in launching the war on terror, took great pains to make clear that it was not a war on Muslims. He understood how catastrophic it would be to antagonize all of Islam. Trump does not; he is doing exactly what Bush took pains to avoid. This will only increase conflict and terrorism.

The action is ostensibly temporary, a “pause.” But when, pray tell, do you suppose Trump will feel able to lift the travel ban without enraging the assholes who love it?

images-3The raw truth is that some people just don’t like people who are different from themselves. That’s what this is really all about, at rock bottom.

Well, some Americans at least are still working to uphold true American values. My daughter is employed in Iraq, with the Danish Refugee Council. After I drafted this, I saw that she had written something on her own blog more eloquent. Please read it here.

But let me quote her: Trump’s “America First” actually “puts America last — last in humanity, last in compassion, last in lifting up the tired, the poor, the huddled masses — which is what made America first, in so many ways, to begin with.”

UPDATE: Today two Syrian families arrived in Philadelphia, with valid visas and green cards, having worked for years to get them. They were sent back.