Thursday, October 26, 2017

How is the "Deal Maker" Doing in Foreign Policy?

He was elected, many non-racists say, to bring his deal making capabilities and business acumen to the White House.  So, how is he doing?

I would argue, badly; but let us look at where he is.

Business Deal wise...

Candidate Trump promised to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership and he did that.  That is a political good, in that he followed up with his promise. Me, personally, I think the TPP would have done a good job of both protecting our intellectual property (where it gets stolen too much today) and would have helped integrate Asia into our soft-power sphere - but I wasn't running for President and he was. Candidate Trump (and a rather craven Hillary Clinton) both trashed the TPP for probably costing jobs. We won't ever knwo. What pulling out of the TTP does do, objectively, is states that our economic policy is now subject to the whims of our political system and we are not to be trusted.

President Trump's policy towards NAFTA shows the same disdain for international economic treaties. He opened negotiations, but has stated so many US only goals, that he is not seen as seriously looking at re-negotiating, but at leaving NAFTA. He probably will be held in the treaty because America workers and companies will be really hurt if he pulls out. The lesson here is, again, our economic policy is subject to the whims of our political system. The only question is if the voices of business and workers that benefit from NAFTA are heard.

The President's recent tariffs on Canadian / British aircraft say US companies will be protected. If Bombardier actually adds another manufacturing line in the United States, this tariff will have been successful in creating some more jobs here (but, Boeing would say at the expense of jobs in Seattle / the South).

So, he is following up on his promises to destroy, but has yet to make any positive "deals".

His Political Deal side looks worse...

His open overtures to buy influence with Saudi Arabia and Israel have led to boycott of Qatar, home to our military bases - and opened up Iraq and the Gulf to greater Iranian influence.

His insistence on denying the Iranian military deal has destroyed our international credibility to a great extent.

His Iranian posturing has meant there is very little to zero non-military options for North Korea. Despite his words and threats North Korea has tested more nuclear weapons and better missiles that ever in history.

His withdrawal from the Paris accords followed up on a campaign promise. The actual effect might be limited, vis-a-vi Carbon Emissions, as states and cities pick up the slack. But politically, the US has lost influence, much of it to China.

His dithering on NATO - I hate them / I love them / I hate them / they owe us money / they are freeloaders - has reduced our influence in many organizations. The President is unaware of how foreign policy in general, and NATO in particular, work. That never builds trust.

So, it seems to me, he has squandered the United States reputation, for no benefit. He has told the world that it is America First, but hasn't explained to anyone how this new policy benefits us. It seems more a child flipping off passers-by than a policy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ed Is Impossible to Buy For...

So my Eddie is a fantastic person, but almost impossible to buy presents for. If he wants something, he gets it - generally. Which is great and he proposes the same for me. Also great.

But it does make it hard to buy presents - particularly surprise presents...

But I occasionally do it.

This year in Lisbon, he saw some plates the royal family used, that he kind of loved. He loves dragons.  He took this picture...

There was no information about it, so he wrote the castle. They wrote back it was the King's crest used on everyday china. The King's father designed it for him.

So I took this picture, and had the design turned into a image file - redrawn - and changed the scroll to our initials.

Then I worked with a firm that makes china and dishes for companies to create a salad plate with the full, new, crest for Eddie and a dinner plate with a lot of the Dragon on the edge.  They came yesterday and they are amazing...

And my Eddie loves them....

While Princess Tiny-Hands Was Distracting You

While Princess Tiny-Hands is busy on twitter wars with Republican Senators, Military Widows and any female of color who dares stand up to him...

Well the administration was busy screwing us all. These two things happened yesterday that screw over anyone that a) banks or b) cares about National Parks.

You know, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain - I could use a little less self-congratulation about how you "refuse to cow-tow to Trump" and little more actually fucking standing up to Trump!


 So... Ryan Zinke (that great Montana hope as Secretary of the Interior - "he rides a horse") has moved to slash the size of National Monuments with a vote (against precedence and the law),  has already opened more public land - both government owned and parts of the National Park Service managed - to coal production (because coal mining is environmentally friendly) and now wants to double entrance fees to National Parks.

Oddly - and I am actually serious about this: look it the fuck up - the administration is using more budget money to restore and preserve Civil Ware battle fields, because they are int he South.  The Parks where increases are proposed are Far and Mountain West - and Maine. The Southern States that voted Republican are spared in this.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

You Can't Have Nice Things Because You Just Break Them....

Things Donald Trump has ruined by politicizing - in just the last few weeks.

The NFL... Can't just "watch" anymore you have to be pro or anti-knee
Military Families that lost loved ones - why didn't Obama or Bush call?
Military - If you weren't in the Military you can't question Trumps Chief of Staff, because he is a General.
Ex-wives... I thought we all agreed on these?

Irony... Because the above shot is real and it makes the joke below superfluous....

Gloria Grahame has an amazing back story

A story I didn't know and couldn't imagine...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Poker Tells of Socipathic Liars

Most liars have a "tell". The basics are known to all and sundry. Shifting eyes, drop in voice, upper lip sweat.  But serious Sociopathic liars - their tells are harder to see and define.  You have to be around them all the time.

With my father,  it was quoting the exact date of something he read. You would question a comment he made (like "California makes so much cheese, they have to send it to refrigerators in Wisconsin.") and he would say, "No, I read it in an article in Time Magazine."

But then came the tell, if you said something like, "really?"

"Yes," he would say, "March 17th's issue."

That was his tell. The more exact his lie was, the bigger the lie.
- - - - - - -

Trump's tell used to be quoting his "friend" John - who never existed.

Now it is the comment "I have proof". That is his tell that he is lying.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

While Trump Plays Wack a Mole, Our (lack of) Iraq Policiy Drives a New War AND Iran Gains

While Trump is busy saying Obama never called any soldiers' survivors, Iraq is heading down the toilet.

As you all know, the Kurdish fighters were our front line in the ISIS fight. Well, about a week ago, they voted for independence from Iraq. We first spoke out against this, then Trump said we didn't care. (link)

 The Kurds had expanded into Kirkuk during the ISIS wars.  They drove ISIS out of Kirkuk and Mosul. Well, last week, Iranian forces (with Shiite Iraqis) pushed the Kurds out of Mosul, setting up the revolutionary guards there.

Again - our President - who committed troops to this fight - said .. well I'll just quote the article.

Trump not interested. President Trump appeared to wash his hands of the matter on Monday. “We never should have been there,” Trump said Monday, referring to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, “but we’re not taking sides.”

Hallstat: Picturesque Austria

Hallstat is a super picturesque town in Austria.  It hugs a lake with it's back to a mountain. We were there ion September on a drizzly day, so the locals v. townsfolk ratio was okay, but apparently

"Other Presidents Didn't Call Families Killed in War, I do."

Welcome to Trump's USA; where the gutter is the new normal.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wurzburg Rococo

Eddie and I went to Wurzburg on our trip to Germany last month. We had been to Wurzburg before, but this time we stopped at the "Residence" - kind of the unofficial palace. It was occupied during the Holy Roman Empire (which was neither Holy, nor Roman nor an Empire) but the Prince Bishop, who ruled the city.

These semi-independent cities would elect a local to run the city, then send his name to Rome and he would be made a Bishop, and then he ruled the city.

Anyway, the Residence is gorgeous - AND I found the difference between Baroque Rococo and German Rococo, see the detail on the picture of the roof.

The Front and Forecourt

 The fountain above shows the Goddess giving the crown to the Price Bishop. Below her are figures should philosophy, art (and behind - science), which Wurzburg was known for (or the P-B wanted to be known for).
 Above the entrance is the Royal Seal with lions holding up the crest, a crown on top and angels heralding the P-B.
Most (not all) of the front. You can see the fountain in the left - middle and the Royal Seal above the 3 arch entrance.

The roof inside (before I was told not to take pictures).
 Here the Gods (Greek) are celebrating the new Prince Bishop. You can tell it is German Rococo because the way the tapestry actual exits the picture into the third dimensional space.

 Another shot of the Garden room .
The ceiling of the Grand Entrance hall.  AMAZING.  Again, on the lower left of the ceiling, you can see the figures break out of the mural to the third dimension.

And the outdoor gardens - where you could take pictures.
 Off balance, artsy no?
 My honey had me at "Scooter pose"
Me and the back of the building.

knock knock

- he sneaks back onto the stage