Category Archives: Blog

Unfiltered Information Could Be Our Undoing

Donald J. Trump has 65.2-million followers on Twitter. So, whatever idea might pop into his head, no matter how crazed, he can immediately blast it out to all 65.2-million of his minions. That, is political power. It is also frightening, because it is totally unfiltered.

Not long ago, in a time before cellphones, there were the newspapers and three major over-the-air broadcasting networks controlling most of the flow of information in America. For the most part, they had professional news organizations staffed with journalists who took their craft seriously, taking care to uphold the public trust with a standard for quality journalism, while serving as a filter for their readers, listeners and viewers, ensuring a degree of accuracy and truthfulness in what Americans read and heard. The worst thing these journalists could do, and they knew it, would be to betray the public trust and lose their credibility. And so, they took their work seriously.

Consequently, when CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told America that the Vietnam War had us mired in a stalemate, that the war was unwinnable and that a negotiated settlement was needed, the nation listened. Polls indicated Cronkite to be the most trusted man in America. There were calls for him to run for public office. Journalists were held in high esteem.

There were lapses of course, like “Yellow Journalism” during Hearst’s battle with Joe Pulitzer, but for the most part it worked pretty well. For the most part, America was protected by her journalistic filter. Then came cable, satellite news and the internet, and all bets were off.

And now here we are, with no filter to protect us and a highly questionable personality in the Oval Office with his finger not just on the nuclear trigger but on his massive Twitter feed as well. I’m not sure which might turn out to be more threatening to the country, or what we should do about it going forward. Clearly, what technology has given us may be more than our Democratic Constitutional Republic can handle. In a very real sense, it may be a clear and present danger.

Things I’m Hearing

A couple of reasonable questions: Why are the harmful and even deadly effects of vaping being felt here in the U.S., but apparently not in Europe? Are the Europeans immune?

Should we all listen more carefully when Donald Trump says “that’s what I’m hearing,” because he may in fact be hearing things that no one else can hear? In his head? That would be a problem. Do his aides in the White House have to worry about what he might be hearing from one moment to the next?

And finally, where did all the killer bees go? Not long ago we were threatened by an invasion of killer bees from the south. The horror. The horror. Did NAFTA take care of that? Might the hazards of vaping eventually go the way of the killer bees? Inquiring minds want to know. That’s what I’m hearing.

Where Are The Democrats?

In this age of Trump, it’s something every day, so why should today be any different? King Donald is now sending troops (more troops) over to Saudi Arabia (Sunnis) and the United Arab Emirates (Sunnis), to help defend against Houthi rebels (Primarily Shia) in Yemen. Once again, His Majesty is militarily inserting the United States into a 15-hundred year-old holy war perpetuating the insanity of the past 18 years with the absence of anything even roughly resembling a coherent policy to deal with the Middle East and North Africa.

What is our goal? Is there a plan for an end-game or is the U.S. military the world’s new police force courtesy of American taxpayers with no end in sight?

On CNN, military experts expound upon how vulnerable the Saudis are to drone attacks, adding that the U.S. is equally vulnerable so we should all be very afraid. Okay fine, but why ask someone whose career is built around going to war about going to a war we shouldn’t be in at all? A better question would be, “Why not let the Saudis, who are swimming in oil money and who have the third largest military budget in the world, defend themselves?”

“As long as little children were being bombed in Yemen by the Saudis, no one cared. But touch a Saudi oil pump and it’s WW III!” – FB meme

Could it be because King Donald and his royal family have some personal connection to the Saudi Royal Family? Some debt to be paid, such as it were, that might be revealed should we the people finally come into possession of an actual accounting of his business practices over the past many years? Is there some reason we are still talking to a country that stones women, beheads lawbreakers with swords and murdered a journalist working here in the U.S., by some accounts cutting his body into pieces before secreting it out of the country?

Oh wait, it’s the oil, isn’t it? Even though the United States now exports more oil than it imports?

All of that’s more than bad enough, but true to his disgusting fashion, His Majesty is now calling upon the elected leader of another country to intercede in the upcoming election by digging up dirt on one of his opponents. He’s using the Office of the President as leverage and he see’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. He would say that of course, as he’s openly done it before with the Russians, calling upon them to hack into the private email of a former Secretary of State.

Nothing wrong with any of this, right? Of course something’s wrong. An American election is supposed to be held by and for Americans, without interference from outside parties, who hold their and not our best interest at heart. It’s just that simple. Like His Majesty, King Donald. Simple. Like firing public officials because they’re carrying out proper oversight by investigating the King or treating the Attorney General of the United States as his private attorney, his very own Roy Cohen.

I used to think Nancy Pelosi’s “go slow” technique on impeachment was the smart way to go, as it would drag things out into next year, bringing even more of the madness of King Donald out into the open, in closer proximity to the election. But now, the way things are going as his madness seem to be growing by the minute, I’m afraid the slower Pelosi and the Democrats go, the more perilous the situation will become.

He’s not even trying to hide his absolute belief that he has absolute unchecked power. That he’s in charge with no checks and balances coming from the Congress because Republicans in the Senate refuse to fulfill their pledge to protect and defend. He thinks he can get away with anything because they’re letting him do pretty much anything he wants. As with any spoiled child, it’s only going to get worse.

Those who sit by doing nothing while this madness continues are traitors to the country. The danger King Donald poses is real and immediate, and it must be dealt with now by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House. I’ve always feared that Pelosi, or at least her image, was just too weak to lead. Image is important. Look what it’s done for Donald J. Trump. Is Pelosi tough enough to take him on? Does she appear to be? Where the hell is she? The country needs a lion, not a mouse. Those of us who had reservations about bringing Pelosi back as Speaker were told she’s a brilliant tactician and tough as nails. Really? Right now it feels like the Democrats are afraid. Like they’re off somewhere cowering in a corner. In some ways it feels like the party could be headed into 2016 all over again.

At the very least the record must show that we tried, that we did something to fight back, as a spoiled man-child tyrant from New York surrounded himself with sycophants and did all he could to disassemble our institutions and tear down our democracy. Congress must do something to re-establish its power as an equal-partner in government and it must act now, even if that means the House taking the lead with impeachment or possibly the power of the purse, and hoping traitorous Republicans in the Senate can be shamed into doing the right thing.

God only knows what King Donald may be doing at this very moment and where it might take us.

Needed: Another Edwin Newman

Just heard a local newscaster talk about making an intersection “more safe.” Whatever happened to “safer?” Are they also going to start proclaiming things to be “more fast” instead of “faster?” Is it just me? Used to be that if the word preceding the comparative had three or more syllables, you’d drop in the “more.” Otherwise, just add the “er.” It gets complicated, which is why this stuff needs to be drummed into kids heads while they’re still in “grammar school.”

Meantime, if you aren’t sure, go ahead and drop the “more” and just add the “er.” Keep it simple when and if you can. I myself, (that would be me), tend to use too many commas. I have a word for it. I call it “over-commatization.” Picked it up in grammar school where I was taught to drop in a comma every place where a reader would stop to take a breath. Well, hey. That doesn’t always work. The English language is tough. Consequently, I assume no responsibility for you getting it wrong with the “er” thing. You were supposed to have picked this stuff up in grade school. Provided you got there before all the cuts to public education.

Public officials lower our cultural and intellectual bars every time they make another cut to education. Some inner-city schools have no heat in the winter or cooling in the summer. As a group, we are becoming stupider by the moment so that the wealthiest among us can horde their millions while paying tens of thousands to bribe college officials to get their under-educated kids into the best schools.

It’s madness, but then evolution is a difficult thing to watch.

Also bugged about people calling trucks cars and referring to caps as hats. Not long ago I watched a local reporter standing in front of a truck that had crashed into a storefront talking about the car that had smashed into the building. Then there was a ballgame the other night with the announcers talking about a “ballcap” promotion that was coming up. The ballpark, they explained, would be giving out custom baseball caps emblazoned with the insignia of local colleges and universities. A minute later, one of those same announcers was talking about the “hats” the ball players were wearing. Difficult to watch this stuff. Think maybe I’ll open a consultancy biz for tv news. Edwin Newman, where art thou? More dead now than ever before? Deader than a door nail?

Also hate it when writers fail to use personal pronouns. That one really bugs me.

Trump Again Manages To Astonish, Abandoning A Peace Deal With The Taliban

Just when one thinks there is nothing more Donald Trump can possibly do to further amaze and astonish, he again tops himself.

The BBC is reporting that Trump’s pulling the U.S. out of peace talks with the Taliban had nothing to do with the death of a U.S. solider in Afghanistan. No, they say it had more to do with the Taliban’s refusal to take a trip to Camp David, purely to provide Trump with a bigger public relations splash, as a deal had already been reached at the table in Qatar, and the Taliban wanted to sign it. Instead, with a peace treaty at his fingertips, Donald Trump pulled out of the talks because he wanted the signing to take place at Camp David, presumably because he wanted to give the appearance that only he had the skill to get it done.

If anyone on the Republican side has had any reservations at all about continuing to support this president, then with this, those reservations should be fully erased. This president is not well. Agreeing to peace with the Taliban and ending a 20 year war would have been a monumental accomplishment, giving his party and his reelection bid a tremendous boost, with or without a meeting at Camp David. In fact, in refusing to take the trip before signing the deal, the Taliban were inadvertently doing him a favor, as the politics of the situation would probably have left Trump and his party in a weaker position had the Camp David meeting taken place.

Republicans should take heed of what conservatives in the U.K. are doing in response to the madness of Boris Johnson. They are leaving their party, or being ejected from it, in far greater numbers than the few Republicans who have abandoned their party here in the U.S. In other words, British conservatives have the strength and conscience to put the good of their country above their party and their own financial self-interest. Something most American conservatives have not seen fit to do. Their silence makes them implicit with the inexplicable mentality and failures of Donald Trump, who once again appears to be making decisions with all the maturity of a petulant child.

The “walkback” from the Trumpists on this one should be massive.

He did what, now?

Can it be true that Donald invited the Taliban to come to Camp David and then changed his mind? My God, this idiot would have asked Hitler over for tea. Or asked Russian agents into the oval office. Or for a summit with Korea’s Mr. Kim. Oh wait, he actually did those last two, didn’t he?

When each day brings a new and incomprehensible act or pronouncement it feels increasingly like we’re going code blue, a situation made worse by the Republican Party threatening to cancel primaries in an effort to prop up Putin’s puppet for yet another term. History, will see these people as flirting with or perhaps committing treason. And 44% of registered Republicans approve?

No wonder Biden blew out an eyeball at the town hall.

How Can Trump Have A Base?

Riot police have just entered the airport in Hong Kong, where pro-Democracy activists are trying to maintain what freedom they currently have from being taken away by the Commies in Beijing.

In North Korea, a smiling Kim Jong-un, continues firing rockets into the sea.

In Russia, thousands of anti-Putin protesters are in the streets, demanding real elections as opposed to an ongoing dictatorship that either imprisons or murders the opposition.

Here in the U.S., Donald Trump thinks Putin is a good guy and – as has been indicated by his words and actions – wishes our system was more like Russia and North Korea, so he could declare himself president for life and throw big military parades on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Donald Trump obviously does not believe in government of, for and by the people. He’s taking this ride strictly for himself.

Why is this so difficult for some to understand? How can Donald Trump still have a “base?” Who are these people who support a leader who favors tyranny over democracy and his own personal enrichment over promoting “the general welfare” and securing the “blessings of liberty?”

A Bad Hair Day For The Brits

Shed a tear for the Brits and another for the free democratic world. Former London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is the U.K.’s new prime minister. He is promising to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, even if that means “crashing out” with no agreement on how to move forward. The results could and quite likely will be enormous and potentially damaging for the U.K. and its allies as well.

The poor Brits now have their very own version of Donald Trump. The two have more in common than curious coiffures. Both front conservative parties. Both were born in New York City. Like Trump, Boris has a reputation for bluster, the occasional antic and saying whatever he must to win an argument regardless of the facts. They are both living caricatures. Trump, oblivious to factual information and ignorant of history and Johnson, apparently oblivious to Parliament’s many past failures in reaching a deal on “Brexit.” He appears to epitomize those who have no knowledge of that old saying that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

The markets are said to be very nervous with Johnson’s election. They should be. We should be too. Disunity among democratic nations is to Russia’s advantage. There is in fact some evidence that Putin and his cyber-spies helped engineer the popular push for taking the U.K. out of the European Union, just as they helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. (Read the Mueller Report. Please.)

The British people were convinced that leaving the E.U. would be a good idea, so they voted for it, just like the American people voted for Donald Trump. Not unlike the British system, the American system is so fouled up with its Electoral College, that Trump won the presidency without a majority of the popular vote. And now a man named Boris is the Prime Minister because he leads a party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons.

It is worth noting that Johnson was so disliked as London’s Mayor, that Londoners got as far away from his conservative persona as they possible could in their next election, bringing in a labor party Muslim to replace him. His two years as Foreign Secretary have been called “disastrous.” And now, because of the hazards, rancor and chaos of parliamentary politics, he has been named Prime Minister. That said, the British system might still be superior to American politics. We’re the ones saddled with Donald Trump, who has just vetoed a bill banning arms sales to the Saudis, so that they can ramp up the war in Yemen, a war the U.N. has declared to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Boris Johnson in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the U.S. It’s so obviously bad for the world’s democracies and good for bullies, tyrants and strong men. Good for all those who prefer dictators, oligarchs and Neo-Feudalism, even though a majority of the British were conned into voting in favor of Brexit, which is where the situation gets really twisted for the British Parliament. It’s almost as vexing as America having to deal with a President who was elected even though he lost the popular vote, ignores the Constitution and is widely believed to have issues demanding a doctor’s care. He’s lost control. He’s now yelling at reporters when he doesn’t like their questions. His mental condition is the Republican elephant in the middle of the room that nobody wants to talk about.

Somewhere, Vladimir Putin must be smiling. Again. He’s probably been smiling a lot since he helped put Trump in the White House. We can only hope that America follows London’s lead in 2020, and votes in a new president who is as far away from Donald Trump as we can possibly get. We need to recover from this mess before recovery becomes next to impossible.

As for our cousins across the pond, all we can do is wish them the best of luck in surviving their very own version of “The Donald” and his call to “Make America Great Again.” Most of America, I think, held the belief that we were already a great nation. We were the county that was essential in winning World War II. Remember? We are also the folks who put a man on the moon.

It’s difficult to determine if Johnson is mimicking Trump as some kind of heroic ideal but it’s certain that they have more in common than bizarre hair. Johnson’s admonition on his first day as PM was to “make this country the greatest place on earth.” I wonder how Her Majesty feels about that? If Boris Johnson feels there is a better place to be, then why isn’t he living there? Maybe he and Trump can find an island somewhere and leave the rest of us alone?

The Dangers Of Becoming Emotionally Invested In Baseball

My home team, the Baltimore Orioles, have just traded away one of their strongest pitchers, Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox, for a pair of unknown 17 year-old “prospects.” Holy cow. I know they’re at the front end of rebuilding a losing team, but would it hurt to win a few games along the way? You know, balance things out by keeping a few really good players during the rebuild, instead of pinning their hopes on unknowns who may or may not develop into something two or three (or four) years down the road?

I read in the paper this morning that the O’s had an option to keep Cashner through 2020.  He’d only just come on board in February of 2018. Damn, damn and double damn.  Maybe they’ll trade away Trey Mancini as well?  That way, they’ll lose both their best pitcher and their best hitter.  What the hell, they might as well?  Bring on the 17 year-old unknown prospects from the Dominican League.  Who needs a winning team now?  That beautiful stadium is gonna get pretty empty if the losses keep piling up. 

The truth, is that the Orioles have everything but pitching.  So what do they do?  They dump a guy who is arguably their strongest pitcher.   I am beyond unhappy.   All those years in L.A. ignoring the Angels and the Dodgers. Then, I come back and buy into supporting my old team, the O’s.  This is what happens when you allow yourself to become emotionally invested in a sports franchise – not a local team, mind you, a local business enterprise.  Ah, the folly of mixing human tribalism with free trade!

For me though, it goes beyond even that. The Orioles were my alternative to politics and Trump.  Something to focus on other than the daily political madness. And now the guys managing the team have left me with nothing. I can’t stay with a team that does something as mindless as booting Cashner for a couple of unknown teenagers. But what the hell, I’m only a fan.  Even though I was “christened” an O’s fan by Orioles’ superfan Wild Bill Hagy himself, who placed an O’s cap on my head with his very own hands back in 79. I’ve been stuck on the Orioles ever since.

Don’t know if you ever heard how Wild Bill left the Orioles?   He would always bring a cooler of beer to the stadium for his friends in section 34.  Stadium managers decided to stop fans from bringing beverages to the games, including Wild Bill, who kept bringing in his cooler anyway.  When they told Bill that either his cooler would have to go or he’d have to leave, Bill got angry and threw the cooler down onto the field and left, never to return except for an appearance when Cal Ripkin broke the record for most consecutive games played.  The “roar from 34” has never been the same.

Hagy, a cab driver from Arbutus, is in the Orioles Hall of Fame. The people who manage the O’s get kudos for that. But not for trading away Cashner during a rebuild when what they really need is better pitching. Makes no sense. None at all. But then, what do I know? Could be their computers are spitting out some magic formula for winning at some point down the road? A formula that involves dumping the best they’ve got and betting on what? That their fans will still be there win or lose?

“Wild Bill” Hagy at Memorial Stadium (Baltimore Magazine)

(William Grover “Wild Bill” Hagy died at his home in Arbutus, in 2007 – RIP)

Trump Hijacks The 4th

It appears NBC,ABC, CBS and MSNBC will not be covering Trump’s speech tonight. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I feel like congratulating the networks for having the courage to refuse coverage to this narcissist who would be king. On the other, Trump’s base (lemming people) will automatically go to FOX to watch the “salute to Donald,” so they will miss nothing by the nets refusals to provide coverage. And yet, there might be those who would be repulsed by what Trump is doing, but who will not see the bloviating blowhard doing his thing complete with tanks on display and a military flyover. So there’s that, as well. There is also the fact that even for those of us who are repulsed by the man, he is nevertheless, the president. Not covering his official 4th of July publicity stunt may serve only to give more firepower to the far-right. And maybe not. Not sure how I feel about this. Personally, I won’t be celebrating the 4th until Trump, and the threat he represents, is out of office.

I’d prefer to ignore everything the man says and does, but God only knows what he is liable to do or say next.

At the same time, no matter how we feel about Trump hijacking a national holiday, we can all feel good about the U.S. women’s soccer team, which appears to be headed for victory at the World Cup on Sunday. They are true champions, especially their star striker, Megan Rapinoe, who has already stated that she won’t be answering an invitation to visit the White House. Hopefully the other women on the team will follow suit, as U.S. women’s soccer gives us all something we can feel good about. Even while Trump, exhibiting his usual rhetorical elegance and wit, has called Rapinoe, “a loser.” Mr. Trump’s habit of transferring his personal shortcomings onto others is becoming so tiresome.

The Simpson Trial – A Story That Has No End

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Ron Olsen and Kitty Felde

25 years ago today, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were viciously murdered on Bundy Drive in Los Angeles. And so it began. An event that would mark our lives and change news coverage forever. Regularly scheduled panel discussions with legal and other experts on live tv began here, as did the mainstream media following reports in supermarket tabloids – some of which turned out to be accurate in spite of checkbook journalism – and tv helicopters following every “slow speed chase” that came down the freeway.

Some believe the “wall to wall” coverage of the case by KTLA-TV, Court TV and CNN, laid the groundwork for the 24-hr news cycle and the explosive growth in reality show tv. There were no “Kardashians” on tv, before Robert Kardashian joined the “dream team.” The case made the phrases “It’s a no-brainer” and “The question’s prejudicial impact outweighs its probative value” famous as Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark became legal superstars with an entire nation transfixed on the “trial of the century.” According to Time Magazine, 57% of the country tuned in to watch the verdict in the criminal trial, with a summer filled with depositions and the civil trial in Santa Monica, still to come.

At the time, KTLA was coast to coast on cable and satellite and worldwide on SkyTV. We were in the eye of the storm. Only those who were there will be able to understand all that it was, and in some respects, continues to be, as the continuing divide between black and white America has again been painfully highlighted by Charlottesville. It was suggested by one therapist who was interviewed for a series done by local radio, that for those covering the case, it was not unlike going to war.

For those of you who may be new to the story, football star O.J. Simpson, was found “not guilty” in a criminal trial in Los Angeles, and then conversely, he was found liable for the deaths of Ron Goldman and his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, in a civil trial in Santa Monica, and was ordered to pay damages in the amount of $33.5 million. Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, has repeatedly complained that Simpson has never willingly paid one penny of the settlement, which now, with interest, reportedly amounts to around $70 million.

According to the AP, Simpson is currently living in Las Vegas, with pensions keeping him fiscally afloat. An analysis done by CNN/Money indicates that Simpson’s NFL pension could run as high as $100,000 a year, with more pension money coming in from his work in the movies and from Social Security which could run as high as $42,000 a year. Retirement income is protected from any civil court judgement.

The two children he had with Nicole are reportedly in the real estate business in Florida.

Early One Morning In Brentwood

Early on the morning of June 13, 1994. After getting a tip, my shooter, Bill Knight and I pulled up at the murder scene on Bundy. Photographer Carl Stein of CBS was already there. I remember thinking that whatever it was, I was the first reporter to see it. Two bodies and all that blood. None of us knew how big it would eventually be, that through two trials it would eat up nearly three years of our lives. The story of a lifetime. 25 years ago this week. Seems like yesterday. All I feel now is sadness.

We Still Have Baseball

It was so quiet for a while and now he (it) is back. The great orange buffoon tweeting out that the Russians really did help him win the election. Which we already knew. There’s also word that the White House asked the Navy to hide the destroyer, the USS John McCain, so that it wouldn’t be visible while the orange one was in Japan.

It’s just too painful. Nothing to do but ignore politics and hope we make it to the next election intact. Baseball, is a good option. It’s a game where the rules still apply and players are held accountable for their actions. The way America is supposed to be.

Remember the words of James Earl Jones as Terence Mann in the movie, “Field of Dreams.” – “The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. ”

Angst filled though we may be, we are still all playing on the same team. God willing, America will survive Donald Trump. When it gets to the point where you think you can’t take it any more, go down to your local ballpark (or as my former colleague at KDKA, Bill Curry used to say, “down to the ball yard”) and watch a baseball game. Buy a ticket, take a seat, and let the past come rushing back. Let yourself be immersed in real American values, “all that once was good, and that could be again.”

Wag The Dog To Win The Election?

British intelligence says there is no “increased threat” from Iran. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has a carrier task-force backed up by heavy bombers headed for the Persian Gulf and is reportedly considering sending in more than 100-thousand troops. Trump has also ordered the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in nearby Iraq.

The Republicans haven’t wagged the dog this hard since the W. Bush Administration was finding yellow cake in Niger and aluminum centrifuge tubes all over Iraq.

How many times are we going to fall for this same ploy? How many times are we going to let the Republicans take the country to war to win an election? How many times have you speculated that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in place, which would have meant no ISIS? Was Saddam that much worse than Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has imprisoned journalists, judges, and pretty much anybody who opposes his regime while he continues his war against our allies the Kurds?

It’s easy to forget that Saddam had our implicit support when he went to war with Iran, and that he would still be holding the Iranians in check had the Untied States not demonized him before invading his sovereign nation in the name of regime change. Sure, Saddam was a nasty guy, but preventing the formation of ISIS and holding Iran in check while eliminating the need for a massive deployment of U.S. troops is no small matter.

What George W. Bush said about “democratizing” all the of Middle East popped into my head the other day. One wonders how many in the current administration continue to believe that’s a good idea? How many there are who think that leaving our troops permanently scattered across the Middle East and North Africa at the U.S. taxpayers expense is a viable option? Presidential adviser John Bolton, is a known supporter of regime change in Iran. In simple terms, Bolton thinks it would be a good idea to invade another sovereign nation to overthrow another sitting government.

We never used to even contemplate doing that kind of thing unless a nation-state or other entity presented a clear and present danger to us or threatened a country with whom we had a mutual defense agreement. It just wasn’t what America did. We were better than that. Apparently that ended with Vietnam, another country we invaded based upon an apparent lie. More than 58,000 Americans died in that one. Sadly, documents and tapes in the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library prove that Johnson had both the South and the North Vietnamese ready to sign a peace treaty, but that the deal died when Richard Nixon’s campaign convinced the South Vietnamese that it would be to their advantage to keep the war going until after Nixon was elected. It would be years later before a disgusted American public became so disenchanted with the unending war that they took to the streets and demanded that the military-industrial complex disengage.

When did the very idea of peace become unreachable while ongoing war feels like the norm? Something we simply cannot avoid? Do you suppose the profitability of war factors into any of this?

Which do you prefer? Educating our kids and giving the country a national healthcare program, or killing strangers on foreign soil? Why isn’t that even discussed? When did the very concept of peace become not just unfashionable, but un-American?

An “exit strategy” to pull our people out of the Middle-East and North Africa, has been all but forgotten, as has an actual long-term game plan for why we are still there. Also nearly forgotten is the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the need for national healthcare, the overwhelming need for campaign finance reform along with real immigration reform and the role the Russians played in rigging our last election.

War with Iran, might very well ensure our national lapse in memory continues long enough to get Donald Trump re-elected. Until then, the chaos this one man has created continues to provide Republicans with excellent cover to continue putting the self-interest of a relative few above the national interest of the many.

Our real enemies appear to be the Russians, who, our intelligence services tell us, continue plotting ways to rig our next election, and the Saudis, who have never stopped spreading a worldwide campaign of anti-American hatred. All the while, Donald Trump, in his infinite wisdom, is laying the groundwork for another war. The ultimate diversion heading into 2020.