A Comment on Trump’s Charlottesville Statements

In the course of discussions about the events of Charlottesville last week, one of my oldest friends, Bruce Brill, posted a reply to something I said about President Trump’s comment. I wanted to blog here both Bruce’s comment and my response.

In response to my posting about the corporate leaders response to Trump’s Charlottesville comment, Bruce Brill wrote two things:

I’m a Jew. I found nothing Trump said offensive in any way… the opposite I saw in what he said words of healing, unlike the perennial Trump-bashers’ divisive comments.”

and then;

You know I respect you and your opinions. On the two items that you brought up (1.”that he gave both sides moral equivalency”, and 2. that you saw nothing healing in what he said),…. We can discuss these two items by listening to and analyzing WHAT TRUMP SAID and not what the fake media said he said.”

My response to Bruce Brill’s post is as follows:

Bruce, we have great mutual respect and friendship that dates back 45 years. You prefaced your remark as coming from a Jew. You know my own background as a student of Jewish history and culture and I think you have a copy of my most recent book which tracks a young woman’s search for understanding and meaning of her own Jewish heritage. But, I am not a Jew, and any attempt by me to counter your opinion of Trump from the vantage point of a Jew would be cultural appropriation in its truest sense. I can report that the two most important organizations of American rabbinical leaders have gone public in their disagreement with Trump’s recent comments about Charlottesvile.

Also, I can comment, logically, and from the standpoint of an American, that I found Trump’s statement that there were “fine people” on “both sides” to be contemptible. “Fine people” would not have marched in an after hours foray through a college campus carrying flaming torches while slogans made famous by 1930 Nazis were shouted. “Fine people” would have left before marching alongside armed quasi-military garbed brown shirted men who also wore Nazi-themed symbols. “Fine people” would have had no part in a rally that was organized and peopled by the vilest types of hate groups.

On the other hand, I must admit Trump got a bad rap for his comments that both sides were at fault. Both sides did have organized groups of people who came with shields, clubs and chemical sprays meant to allow physical confrontation with opposing groups. I saw shields brandished and used to attack others that had Neo-Nazi and White Power emblems on them, and I also saw shields likewise used that had Code Pink and Antifa identifying marks on them. There are social media postings by both the Neo-Nazi and Antifa groups urging their followers toward involvement in Charlottesville and warning of intended open hostilities. The right to peaceful assembly and protest in America does not include the right to physically assault the opposing side. A person’s or group’s right to protest stops when the purpose or result of the protest is injury and physical harm to others, or when other citizens, including police, are put in danger by a protest activity. However, Trump’s attempt at communicating what I just said fell woefully short when he tried to say there were bad actors on both sides. He forgot to talk about how the initial protest by the Neo-Nazi groups and their intended threat of open confrontation over the Lee statue was wrong at the outset and that Charlottesville citizens were correct in their right to disagree with that hateful action. That the Antifa attack groups also opposed the neo-Nazi protest is irrelevant to whether the original Neo-Nazi action was a worthy cause.

Overall, Trump handled the entire response to Charlottesville very badly. Trump needs to get professional staffers and speech writers to craft a wise message in cases like this and a message worthy of the office of the President. And, Trump needs to stay on message and not let his spur of the moment comments blacken the image of his office. A little thought and statesmanship needs to be inserted in Trump’s public comments and he needs to lose the Twitter account, or at least hire a thoughtful staff who does it for him after the Tweet has been properly staffed through WH political and national security channels. A statement by the leader of the free world cannot be ad lib banter by a person inexperienced in world affairs, politics and security and law enforcement issues. Trump may be the elected leader, but he needs to learn to think for a moment before opening his mouth or Tweeting and trust the high-priced and experienced staff the US government provides for him and who are able to fully think out the ramifications of a Presidential comment in a very complicated world.

By the way, the book about the Jewish woman seeking her Jewish heritage can be found here, https://www.amazon.com/Angels-were-Jewish-Kevin-Ready-ebook/dp/B01GQRXTQC/ 

Statement on North Korea by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis


08/09/2017 11:53 AM CDT
Aug. 9, 2017
Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability.  The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.  The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Fearing Iranian Expansion Dr. Kissinger Warns Against Destroying ISIS

From JewishPress.com  http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/fearing-iranian-expansion-dr-kissinger-warns-against-destroying-isis/2017/08/08/

By David Israel

Dr. Henry Kissinger

The Iraq War that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that toppled the government of Saddam Hussein cost the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis, and just under 5,000 American personnel; with a total financial cost to the US economy estimated at between $3 trillion and $6 trillion. The most profound results of the war were the elimination of the one serious Sunni bulwark against the Shiite Iranian expansion effort in the Middle East, resulting in the rise of a largely pro-Iranian, Shiite government in Iraq. The Sunni remnants of Saddam Hussein’s government and military eventually emerged as the ISIS “caliphate,” spreading fear and dread in Iraq and Syria, with the occasional terrorist eruption in Europe.

In an article published a week ago in CAPX, Dr. Henry Kissinger points out that by destroying ISIS, an endeavor that appears to unite East and West these days, the US would contribute to the further expansion of Iran: “If the ISIS territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire,” he writes.

Kissinger notes that the “system of order that emerged in the Middle East at the end of the First World War,” largely expressed in the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France, “is now in a shambles,” as “four states in the region have ceased to function as sovereign: Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen have become battlegrounds for factions seeking to impose their rule.”

Not surprisingly, in every one of these battleground you’ll discover the long arm of Tehran, the only true beneficiary of US foreign policy next to Israel. And so, barring a full-fledged military effort against Iran, which would eliminate its nuclear potential and bring down its repressive clerical regime, the West should avoid doing to ISIS what it did to Saddam Hussein, who had today’s ISIS commanders on his payroll.

“In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be regarded as your friend no longer applies,” writes Kissinger. “In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy.”

Kissinger points out the complex role of the newly-Islamist and Sunni Turkey in the Middle Eastern calculus, seeing as Turkey is more troubled by the bolstering of the separatist Kurdish state in northern Iraq—natural enemies of ISIS but also potential allies of the large Kurdish minority in Turkey—than it is by the threats posed by ISIS. In this context, the relatively warm relationship between the Trump administration and Ankara could be worrisome.

Finally, the question that has troubled the West since the Napoleonic Wars: what to do about Russia? “The new role of Russia will affect the kind of order that will emerge [in the Middle East],” writes Kissinger. “Is its goal to assist in the defeat of ISIS and the prevention of comparable entities? Or is it driven by nostalgia for historic quests for strategic domination?”

He could have written “entrenched paranoia” instead of “nostalgia,” but then he wouldn’t be invited again to those Beluga and vodka balls at the Kremlin. The fact is, though, that international politics abhors a vacuum, and should the West—mainly because oil is no longer the magical and powerful commodity it used to be—finally walk away from the Middle east mess, rather than accept that it is a troubled garden that requires permanent weeding, “great powers like China and India, which cannot afford chaos along their borders or turmoil within them, will gradually step into the West’s place together with Russia. The pattern of world politics of recent centuries will be overthrown.”

Clearly, at 94 Dr. Kissinger’s understanding of world politics (he covers other areas of the globe in his piece) exceeds the wisdom of our three most recent presidents with many IQ points to spare.

This Day in History

It is interesting when you realize that a certain date is the same as some important historical or personal date. A lot of people think back on what they were doing on the day JFK was shot, or similar. Wedding anniversaries are good for that, but birthdays seem to merge into the ancient past for me.The eighth day of August is a day that works to remember the past for me. On 8/8/74, I was a 22 year old who had recently come home from the Army with my BA degree in hand and I had accepted admission in the University of Tulsa law school and was planning on moving to that unknown (to me) city to go become a lawyer.

Then, in the mail that day I got a letter from University of Denver, giving me a late admission chance to go to law school in my hometown, if I could confirm my intent to do so immediately. I quickly decided to surrender the $400 tuition deposit I had made to Tulsa and go to D.U. I was working that summer as driver and advanceman for Gary Hart’s US Senate campaign in Colorado. I drove downtown Denver to let the campaign manager know that I would not be available to drive Gary for the final push to the primary election in early September, since D.U. law started in mid-August. When I told the campaign manager, Hal Haddon, the news, he said, “I’m glad Gary and Dick’s letters helped get you in.”

It seems Gary Hart and gubernatorial candidate Dick Lamm, both of who I had driven around together that summer, had sent letters of reference as attorneys, adjunct professors and possible Senator and Governor, to D.U. Law school admissions office. I had not been network-savvy enough to ask for that assist, but Gary had been, after I told him I was thinking of going to Oklahoma for law school. Gary Hart had gone to undergraduate school at a private religious college in Oklahoma and he spoke strongly against the experience.

Anyway, on 8/8/74, I found out where I would become a lawyer and the part our future Colorado Governor and US Senator had played in that milestone. Then, as I turned to leave Hal’s office, we heard a cheer go up from the group of college age campaign workers stuffing envelopes with campaign brochures in the back room. They were watching TV as they worked and they had just seen the flash announcement that President Nixon was resigning. Quite an event for a bunch of Democrats working on an upstart political campaign to unseat Peter Dominick, the incumbent Senator who was a close Nixon ally. Our campaign’s main election poster was not our candidate’s picture, but a photo of Nixon and Dominick together in an arms high victory salute. It worked in those days of Watergate, especially for Gary, who had cut his political teeth as McGovern’s campaign manager against Nixon (see below).

So, after the jubilation in the campaign office settled down I went down to the D.U. Admissions office and gave them my acceptance and started to look for a cheap apartment in Denver’s Capital Hill area, near the law school. Thus, when I hear that today is the anniversary of the day Nixon announced his resignation from the presidency I have a flood of nostalgic memories of that day that changed my life, and the whole nation’s.