Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some Notes and Three Timely Quotes from a Roman Republican

by Nomad

It's time to take a breather from the hectic pace of present politics. I wanted to share some reflections on a noble Roman who also lived in troubled times.

For much of my life, I have been fascinated by Roman history, especially the transition from Republic to Empire. The first century after Christ was full of drama and plot twists all driven by larger-than-life characters, some very ambitious and evil-minded and some very noble and admirable.

A Man at the Center

One such character was Marcus Tullius Cicero, better known as simply. Cicero. As a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist, Cicero was at the very center of politics during the Fall of the Republic, even as that center was spinning wildly out of control.

Interesting times to say the least. Interesting but lethal. He would eventually become one of its notable early victims, murdered by a power-hungry man's squad of hit men, on the road outside his villa.
In defiant fashion, he bared his neck for the killing blow and told his killers:
"There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly."
There's a lot more to Cicero than meets the historian's eye. His writings, (which include his essays, speeches, and letters) were somehow salvaged throughout the Dark Ages. That has become Cicero's legacy to countless generations.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

11 Smart Ass Questions I'd Like to Ask Trump's Press Secretary, Sean Spicer

by Nomad

Trump Spicer

As Donald Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer's take-no-prisoners style came as a bit of a shock to reporters who had gotten used to the laid-back demeanor of Obama's Josh Earnest.
We got used to a lot of nice things in the Obama administration, like civility, well-presented facts and, more importantly, a lack of covert Russian involvement in US politics.
Alas, those good old days are gone.

Of course, in his position, Spicer is supposed to represent Trump and in that regard, he does succeed. Spicer's  hyper-aggressive adversarial manner is an accurate reflection of his boss' distaste for journalism that refuses to flatter him and refuses to ask only nice questions.

I don't know what it is but there's something about Spicer's bully behavior that brings out my juvenile smarty-pants side. Admittedly it never takes very much.

So, to get that out of my system, I composed a list of eleven questions that I would enjoy asking Spicer if the White House would ever be insane enough to let me in the door.

1. Who told you that it was a good idea to open your first press conference by saying "Okay, which of you incompetent assholes wants to ask me something?"

2. Have you always been a jerk? Is it the effect of deep insecurity?

3. So, how much longer do you think you'll be able to hold onto this position? (Follow-up: Do you plan to resign or let Trump fire you?)

4.. Who cut your hair? Is it on purpose? 

5. Is mocking laughter frowned upon in the White House briefing room or should we all just step outside?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Middle East Mayhem: Why Trump's Foreign Policy in Syria is a Disaster in the Making

by Nomad

Recently Foreign Policy magazine conducted an in-depth analysis of President Trump's domestic and foreign policy strategy.
The article is bluntly entitled Trump’s Grand Strategic Train Wreck and was authored by Colın Kahl and Hal Brands, The pair examined Trump's stated policies objectives and came up to one stunning conclusion: as hard as it might seem, Trump really does have a grand strategy.
That's the good news.
The only problem is, however, it's not so grand. In fact, it's a nightmarish mess.

If you have a few sober hours without distractions, the Foreign Policy article's a must read. But don't expect to walk away feeling buoyant and relieved. Au contraire, mon beau amis, anticipate a feeling of exasperation with a touch of despair. 

According to the article, none of the pieces of the Trump grand strategy seem to actually fit together.
According to some analysts, Trump’s endless streams of erratic and apparently improvisational ideas don’t add up to anything consistent or purposeful enough to call a grand strategy. We see it otherwise. Beneath all the rants, tweets, and noise there is actually a discernible pattern of thought — a Trumpian view of the world that goes back decades. Trump has put forward a clear vision to guide his administration’s foreign policy — albeit a dark and highly troubling one, riddled with tensions and vexing dilemmas.
Troubling is an adjective that just doesn't quite capture the full scale of the problem.