4/16/2018

President Trump's Airstrikes Against Syria

During the early hours of April 14, 2018, the United States of America, under the careless leadership of President Donald Trump, and with the foolish assistance of the United Kingdom and France, carried out airstrikes against several targets in Syria. The stated reason for the airstrikes was to offer a forthright response to the apparent use of chemical weapons, in actions against Syrian civilians, by President Bashar al-Assad, the current ruler of Syria, in his ongoing fight to maintain a malign grasp on absolute power. The truth of the situation, however, is somewhat different, and not nearly as straightforward.

President Trump, in announcing the action that he had taken against Syria, also directed comments toward Russia and Iran, the primary supporters of Bashar al-Assad, asking, "What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?" What kind of nation, indeed. Actually, America knows a fair amount about the mass murder of men, women, and children, having killed many, many thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of the 21st century, as well as killing many civilians in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. One might even say that killing civilians in foreign lands is what America does best.

As for the leaders of the United Kingdom and France, there is no excuse for their questionable decision to join in America's crude display of useless force. Theresa May, the ineffectual Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, seemingly lacked the necessary will to preserve the moral interests of her own nation, choosing instead to share in America's violent intentions. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, already had clearly shown himself to be a desperate self-seeker and a pompous weasel, so it was not unduly surprising that he would choose to ally himself with President Trump. In time, both Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron are likely to regret their choice.

The airstrikes do not accomplish anything worthwhile, in either the short term or the long term. They were stunning in their bold shamelessness and repugnant in their sweeping hypocrisy, but they will not help the people of Syria (who have suffered, long and greatly, at the hands of their own government, the governments of Russia and Iran, and Islamic terrorists), and they will not bring the wretched conflict in Syria any closer to a peaceful conclusion. If the future of that region, and the future of the world beyond that region, is to be decided through brutish acts of reckless warfare, the prospect of ever attaining a final peace are dangerously slight.

3/26/2018

The Perpetual Tyranny of Vladimir Putin

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was "chosen" to continue, for another term of six years, as the President of the Russian Federation, in a fixed election that was carried out under his own strong control, to serve his own dishonest purposes, with no chance whatsoever of there being any other outcome. It appears that Russia, having endured a Bolshevik revolution, World War I, and World War II in the 20th century, has, in the first quarter of the 21st century, suffered the misfortune of being ruthlessly consumed by the savage ambition of one man.

In 1991, when President Mikhail Gorbachev's well-intentioned attempts to effect a host of broad reforms in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics resulted, contrarily, in the downfall of Soviet communism, it was widely assumed that capitalism would bring a better way of life to the Russian people. It did bring McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC, but whether those businesses should be viewed as offering a better way of life is subject to opinion. It also brought the crude ascension of Vladimir Putin, who now has taken up permanent residence in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia, assuming the duties of either President or Prime Minister, since December 31, 1999, when he took over from President Boris Yeltsin, who had resigned. He rose to power the old-fashioned way, by means of corruption, brutality, and murder, which is not particularly surprising for a former Director of the Federal Security Service. (He has shown a special enmity toward journalists and activists who seek to uncover the truth about him, and is presumed to have approved the wanton killings of Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Natalia Estemirova, Stanislav Markelov, and others.)

Apart from Vladimir Putin's overtly malign qualities as a leader, he is, as a person, thoroughly laughable and completely transparent. In his general demeanor, he is fond of conveying a sullen disposition to coldhearted violence, as if daring anyone to challenge his sinister authority. His frequent boasts of physical strength, combined with his childish love of weaponry and his irrational loathing of homosexuals, are undeniable signs that, beneath his comic displays of rough masculinity, he is deeply uncertain regarding the credibility of his own manhood.

Given the surfeit of repugnant leaders in the world, an extreme degree of wickedness is required to stand out from the crowd, but Vladimir Putin has succeeded in earning that vile distinction. During his hardhanded tenure, he has clumsily projected a thin pretense of democracy, while comporting himself, in all matters, with the overbearing assurance of a tsar. He has waged a relentless war against the people of Chechnya, brazenly annexed the territory of Crimea, directed airstrikes against civilians in Syria, shamelessly granted shady favors to his corporate accomplices, openly tolerated the activities of Russian gangsters, and vigorously persecuted his adversaries.

Vladimir Putin is a figure of stubborn evil, a cutthroat villain whose perpetual tyranny constitutes both an unforgivable offense against the integrity of the Russian nation and, owing to the nuclear forces under his command, an unmistakable threat to the safety of humanity itself. As to the future, it seems the Russian public, being glumly accustomed to a condition of abject submission after a long history of oppressive rulers, is willing to accept his dictatorship, which means that his unwholesome reign is likely to continue for as long as he wants it to continue.

1/04/2018

One Year of President Trump

At this time last year, as 2016 surrendered its domain to 2017, and Donald Trump prepared himself for the beginning of his ill-boding Presidency, many millions of people were at their wit's end, distraught to the utmost degree. They writhed and wailed at every opportunity, losing themselves in unrestrained fits of self-deceiving misery. They wrongly believed, with a deep, desperate fervency that only those who have fallen, completely and hopelessly, under the spell of a powerful delusion can summon, that having Donald Trump as President was the worst of all imaginable outcomes for the United States of America.

One year later, an honest observer is compelled to closely examine the situation, calmly and rationally, and finally ask, "Are most things actually worse, in ways that are clearly perceivable, as a direct result of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States?" The answer to such a straightforward question, if duly arrived at through the deliberate application of knowledge and reason, is both unmistakable and unavoidable: "No." That answer, however, clearly is not what President Trump's wild-eyed enemies want to hear, because it conflicts with the hollow precepts of their own muddle-headed outlook.

The burdensome problems that weighed heavily on America during 2017 were not solely created by Donald Trump. Indeed, it is beyond dispute that nearly all of those problems first began to manifest themselves under the watch of former Presidents, who were aided and abetted in their actions by the casual assent, freely given, of a careless public. The towering amount of reckless debt, for example, that currently is owed to lawless banks by several generations of spendthrift Americans came into being many years before Donald Trump had ever conceived the slightest thought of running in an election.

The murderous wars that are being waged by America now, in a number of countries around the world, already were being brutally waged before Donald Trump became President. (His predecessor, Barack Obama, did much to promote and expand those wars.) The huge corporations that stealthily control and remorselessly exploit every corner of our lives had achieved a malign state of unassailable dominion long before Donald Trump blustered himself into the White House. American values had been steadily undermined and continually degraded by the dark forces of capitalism for many decades before Donald Trump sought to be the Chief Executive.

Things were bad (and likely to get worse) before Donald Trump became President, things are bad (and likely to get worse) now that he has become President, and things will continue to be bad (and likely to get worse) when his Presidency has withered into a foul residue. The first year of Donald Trump's leadership has not been an altogether happy experience for anyone (least of all, it seems, Donald Trump himself, who frequently conveys the impression that he is suffering from an advanced case of perpetual tetchiness), but, even at his most damnable, he is no more than a minor figure in the general decline of humanity.

11/09/2017

A Refusal to Keep Quiet

When surveying the prevailing trends of 2017, especially as reflected in the press and social media, one can only conclude that the 21st century is not destined to be renowned as a period of unabridged freedom. Human rights are faltering in varied ways, as a result of being under continual assault from all sides. Freedom of speech, in particular, is being curtailed and diminished by a sour gathering of heavy-handed forces, and could, in the future, be entirely lost.

Any utterance, whether spoken or written, that stands in open defiance to the narrow mainstream of liberal thought in 2017 is certain to be swiftly pounced upon by those who have, quite presumptuously, ordained themselves as the primary guardians of self-righteous acceptability. Thus, the range of what is deemed "acceptable" to the tender minds of the oversensitive masses becomes narrower and narrower, causing clear detriment to the integrity of free discourse. Unfortunately, glaring examples of this narrowness are distressingly abundant.

Nowadays, the casual exchange of endearing gestures between men and women has become nearly as treacherous as walking across a minefield. Hardhearted feminists, in their ongoing battle to vanquish the quaint traditions of heterosexual romance, seek to eradicate the expression of even the mildest sentiments between males and females. If a man so much as smiles or nods at a woman, he is likely to be accused of making unwanted advances. If he makes the well-intentioned mistake of praising her appearance, he is asking to be hit with a lawsuit.

If white musicians choose to play the blues (a form of music that is acknowledged as being "black" in origin), they are found to be guilty of "cultural appropriation." (By the same token, it ought to follow that black musicians should not be allowed to perform the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.) If a man who enjoys the harmless practice of dressing as an alluring woman is perceived as an old-fashioned transvestite, rather than as someone who happens to "identify" as "transgender" or "non-binary," it is regarded as being close to a punishable offense.

If someone who is undeniably overweight (owing to a habit of gluttony and a lack of exercise) is referred to as being "fat," it is received as a gross error of thoughtless description. In the world of high finance, extreme greed must never be referenced as such, but instead comes under the general heading of "wealth management." When a ruthless corporation rids itself of longtime workers, it is merely engaging in an act of "downsizing." In one situation after another, forthright declarations of unreserved truth are avoided, discouraged, disparaged, and deliberately excluded.

The same trend is evident in other, more serious, realms. Any person who questions the current patterns of worldwide immigration will be branded as a racist. Any person who condemns Israel's vicious persecution of Palestinians in Gaza will be judged as being antisemitic. Any person who objects to the unbending doctrines of Islam (such as women being required to cover themselves, from head to toe, at all times) will be excoriated as a shameless bigot. Any person who denounces the Chinese custom of eating dogs will be seen as bearing deep-seated prejudice toward all Asians.

Any person who opposes abortion, on the thoroughly reasonable grounds that an abortion necessarily involves the willful destruction of a human life, will be scornfully rebuked for attempting to deny a "woman's right to choose." When the Pentagon pursues a savage policy of wholesale violence against civilians in the Middle East and elsewhere, the inevitable casualties will be dismissed from the public mind as being no more than unfortunate instances of "collateral damage," rather than being reported, examined, and discussed as pitiless actions of reckless murder.

It seems that soon, no one will be allowed to express, or indeed form, an opinion in regard to anything, and therein dwells a foul threat. Freedom of speech, in common with all modes of freedom, tends to become weak and worthless when it is not put to frequent use. Freedom can abide, and thrive, only to the extent that it is active and flexible. Other people may do as they wish, but as for me, I value my fundamental right to express myself, and therefore I refuse to keep quiet.

8/29/2017

The Enduring Fallacies of American Liberalism

Public life in the United States is continually shaped (and continually perverted) by the "conflict" that supposedly blazes between liberals and conservatives, between those who imagine themselves to be on the "left" and those who imagine themselves to be on the "right." In truth, of course, there is not much difference between the two sides (both sides being guided by faulty reasoning and threadbare delusions), but liberals, in particular, appear to thrive on the false disputes that effectively separate one half of America from the other.

Most American liberals are happily dedicated to following a self-satisfied way of life, subscribing to a collective outlook that carefully avoids any hint of contamination by untoward verities. They read The New York Times and The New Yorker. They watch PBS and MSNBC, and listen to NPR. They vote for any Democrat who happens to be running at any given time. They eat organic food, practice yoga and mindfulness, promote "green energy," travel to third-world countries, and offer mild sentiments in favor of peace. They espouse equality, tolerance, and diversity, and pride themselves on being open-minded. In short, they are utter hypocrites.

They generally are affluent (or, if not, are actively seeking to be so), and display no shame or regret at being far more comfortable than millions of other people. They tend to be highly educated, believing that holding a marketable degree is the key to achieving a life of wealth and luxury. They are attentive in regard to worldly matters, with money and security as their main priorities. They do, when pressed, express a middling concern for the unseemly plight of those who are deprived, but they refuse to abandon their acceptance of capitalism, thereby ensuring that current patterns of widespread poverty will continue without hindrance.

They become slightly uneasy when America openly engages in the killing of civilians in foreign lands, but they are loath to take a firm stand against America's wars. They are adamant in maintaining their faith in the United States as, essentially, a "good" nation. They steadfastly dismiss the many offenses against humanity that America has regularly committed throughout its history, choosing to view such acts as rare deviations which are not, in any way, representative of the "true" America. They are hopelessly resolute in their support of this fantasy, and no amount of knowledge or information can induce them to question or relinquish it.

For American liberals, the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States was a gift from the gods. With Donald Trump as their President, ungraciously showing himself to be a total blockhead at every turn, liberals need do no more than frequently excoriate him to feel good about themselves. His temerity allows them an opportunity to wallow in the enduring fallacies of American liberalism. Whatever will they do when Donald Trump no longer is their leader, and no longer provides them with a daily supply of bounteous inspiration for their narrow animosity?