The deep and mystical allure of fishing has been with me since I can remember. I’ve loved the mere presence of the ocean — I could stare at for hours, and be nurtured by it, and calmed by it. And as I watch it form the sore, or a balcony, or a bridge, I’m always tantalized by the possibility that at any moment I might see something — a dolphin surfacing, a pelican diving, baitfish chopping up the surface as something larger chases them beneath the surface. It’s calming and exciting at the same time — and never boring. My one constant dream since early childhood is to one day live “on the water”, with a daily view of all of the beauty and changeability and abundance that the sea represents for me.
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Here are some key election related links everyone should keep in mind.
There is going to be a crucial shortage of poll workers. Why not sign up to be one if you can? Here’s how: How to Register to be a Poll Worker.
Here is where you can check and find out: Am I Registered to Vote?
Here is how you Request an Absentee Ballot.
Here is how you Find Your Nearest Polling Place.
Here is the US Election Commission Home Page.
Here is my sincere description of what’s in it, based on actually reading it, carefully, from start to finish.
VOLUME I: RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE AND THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN
Russian Interference was “sweeping and systematic”
First, and most importantly, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” There were two components — the social media campaign and the hacking-and-release campaign. The Russian campaign began in 2014 as an effort to simply fan the flames of polarization and discord, but over time evolved into support of Trump.
The FBI Investigation into Russian interference and involvement with the Trump began with a report from a foreign government, not the Steele Dossier.
The investigation into the Trump campaign began in July 2016 based on a report from a “foreign government” about a meeting in May 2016 in which Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos told Professor George Mifsud that the Russian government had Hillary Clinton’s emails. This was before anyone in the US Government had seen the so-called “Steele Dossier.” The report states: “Papadopoulos had suggested to a representative of that foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That information prompted the FBI on July 31, 2016, to open an investigation into whether individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities.”
The Trump Campaign had many links to the Russians.
The report documents over 100 meetings between Trump campaign officials and the Russians. That’s about 100 more than would be “normal” in any other campaign. That said, the context of this campaign was different — i.e. Trump was a businessman who had long ties to Russia, so some degree of contact might be understandable. But the number of meetings with Russians, and the number of people in Trump’s orbit who had meetings with Russians, and the degree to which those people tried to hide the meetings, was extraordinary.
The Russian Government and the Trump Campaign had the same goal — defeat Hillary Clinton and get Donald Trump elected.
The many meetings between Trump campaign personalities and Russian government represented took place within the context of shared objectives (to help Trump defeat Hillary) and a belief that Russia could help the Trump campaign achieve his objective. Russian help was appreciated and desired.
For the collusive Actions of the Trump Campaign to be chargeable as conspiracy, a “high bar” must be cleared.
The report reminds that “collusion” is not a crime — and thus the crimes that they were looking at were conspiracy, campaign finance violations, failure to register as a foreign agent, and lying to cover up unsavory contacts. The report makes the point that in all cases, the “bar” was high because of the way the laws are written. In particular the “scienter” element was a problem — scienter meaning prosecution would have to show that the actions were “knowing and willful.” There was concern that in many cases the individual in question did not know the law, and many of the laws require knowledge in order for intent to be proven — and without establishing intent, the prosecution would fail. For campaign finance violations, there was concern about the “thing of value” dimension to what was being offered — would it prove substantial enough to hold up in court as a felony? In all cases, Mueller was guided by Justice Department prosecution standards that require he have a “high probability” of success.
The Inquiry Was Hampered by Deceitful Behavior by Many Trump Campaign Individuals
The inquiry did the best it could, but was faced with repeated efforts by Trump and Trump allies to obfuscate and frustrate the investigation. In addition to lying (some of which resulted in prosecutions and some did not), individuals: “deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases , the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts. Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.” All of that amounts to a big asterisk, that the investigation may not have gotten to the actual bottom of the situation.
In sum, Trump Campaign Officials cooperated with Russia toward a shared goal, but did not “coordinate or conspire” sufficiently to meet the standards used by DOJ in deciding to prosecute.
The report details the many contacts, the shared objectives, the deceitful behavior toward investigators, but in the end concludes that the high standard the DOJ uses for making prosecution decisions, no prosecution would have the high probability of success that the DOJ requires, and so no charges were brought. A key consideration was the need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the charged individual “knowingly and willfully” violated a law about which they were knowledgable and aware. Mueller made he judgment that successful prosecution was, in essence, a 50-50 proposiion, and DOJ standards require a 90% probability of success. Hence, although the report documented a wide range of deceitful, inappropriate behavior, no charges were brought.
VOLUME II: INVESTIGATING OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
Mueller accepted the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel position that a sitting President cannot be charged.
At the very beginning of this part of the report, Mueller says he is an employee of the DOJ and the DOJ has taken the position in a memo from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting president cannot be charged. Therefore the investigation of obstruction will NOT attempt to determine yes/no, prosecute or not, but rather will conduct ” a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.” He explains that while the OLC memo precludes prosecution, it does not preclude investigation, and further, once out of office a President can be charged. So the purpose of the investigation is to find the facts, report them, and save evidence so that options such as impeachment or indicting after Trump is out of office, are preserved.
Mueller expects Congress to review the report and make its own decision about impeachment proceedings.
In various ways, the report signals that it is intended to support “constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct” — which refers to impeachment. It repeatedly makes clear that Congress is expected to review the findings and if further action is appropriate, it is up to Congress to take it. At no point does the report indicate any expectation that the attorney general will make such determination. “Constitutional processes” and “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” are referred to repeatedly — all pointing in the direction of Congress holding the power to make a decision about further action.
If the investigation had exonerated the President, it would say so. It doesn’t.
In one of the most widely quoted portions of the report, it makes clear that if the fact-finding had exonerated the President, the report would so state. It doesn’t. The full passage is: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice , we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards , however , we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President ‘s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Presidential conduct is examined in detail and analyzed against the “elements” of “Obstruction of Justice.”
To prove a crime occurred, the “elements” of that crime must be shown. So in each of the ten categories of presidential conduct that were examined for evidence of Obstruction, the conduct was first presented factually, then was analyzed in light of he elements of obstruction. Keep in mind — it was stated at the outset that no conclusion would be drawn. Rather the “format” of the report was to find the facts, then compare those facts to the elements of obstruction, then leave it up to Congress.
The report examines ten categories of action by Trump that raise concerns of obstruction.
The examples examined included basically all the things we’ve been hearing about in the media for two years — trying to get Comey to go easy on Flynn, firing Comey, trying to get McGahn to fire Mueller, etc. It also includes some we hadn’t heard about — notably an effort to get Corey Lewandowski, who was no longer part of the administration, to carry a message to Jeff Sessions to get Sessions to unrecuse himself and then redirect the Mueller investigation to only investigate future acts of Russian interference.
In each and every case, at the end of the presentation of facts, the report analyzes those facts as to whether or no they meet the “elements” of obstruction. In virtually every case, the analysis shows how those elements of obstruction have been met. The report states: “Three basic elements are common to most of the relevant obstruction statutes: ( 1) an obstructive act; (2) a nexus between the obstructive act and an official proceeding; and (3) a corrupt intent.” In most cases, the three elements are met to a great degree.
The report analyzes the argument, put forward by the President’s lawyers, that firing Comey (or anyone) cannot be obstruction.
The report also notes and acknowledges the defense argument that when the President takes a legal act such as firing someone under his authority, he is exercising “Article II” authority as President, and exercising such authority cannot be, according to the President’s lawyers, an act of obstruction. The report acnkowledges that this is an argument, and takes a long and detailed look at it. It finds that if the firing is done for corrupt purposes, then it can be obstruction, but acknowledges that this would be an area of contention in legal proceeding. but notes: “The obstruction statutes thus would restrict presidential action only by prohibiting the President from acting to obstruct official proceedings for the improper purpose of protecting his own interests.”
The President tried to obstruct, but was frustrated when subordinates refused his orders.
The report cites example after example of the President trying to obstruct the investigation by ordering subordinates to take obstructive actions-but the subordinates refused. McGahn refused to fire Mueller; Lewandowski failed to take the message to Sessions; Reince Priebus, Hope Hicks, all refused orders that were obstructive.
The Final conclusion of the obstruction section clearly does not exonerate the President.
The final paragraph of the report is: ” Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President ‘ s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time , if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
MY COMMENTS ON THE REPORT
Balance, Probity, and Sober Analysis
First of all, it was a pleasure to read something as carefully and thoroughly researched, investigated, and analyzed as this. It is hard to believe that a rational person could actually read the report and not conclude that it was undertaken fairly, without a partisan bias. Already we know that partisans, starting with the President himself, are claiming otherwise–but the report itself is an example of balance, probity, and sober analysis.
The report exposes the shallowness of much of the “legal analysis” we get on television.
One thing the report exposes is the shallowness of most of the “legal analysis” we are subjected to on cable news and elsewhere. The depth and quality of the legal analysis of, for example, what it would take to achieve a conviction for conspiracy with the Russians, is significantly more detailed and nuanced than what we were getting from the pundits. The same is true for the analysis of obstruction. This analysis — particularly in the “collusion” area — among other things illuminates the inadequacies of current laws in an age of social media and instantaneous global communication. A key takeaway is that bad behavior occurred on the part of Americans that contributed to the compromise of our electoral process — but the laws as written are not adequate to curtail this behavior.
The report exposes Attorney General Barr as a political operative.
No rational person could read the entire report and conclude that Attorney General Barr’s four page letter, or his press conference recitation, were a fair presentation of the contents of the report. He clearly assumed the role of partisan political operative. That’s really indisputable at this point. He directly lied about what the report found about obstruction, claiming that Mueller was unable to reach a conclusion because the facts left him unable to do so, when it is clearly and unequivocally stated in the report that he never even attempted to reach a conclusion, but rather limited what he did based up on the OLC memo. Barr knew this and his misrepresentation is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s as if he didn’t care that people were going to read the report and see, clearly, that he had lied — because he knew that what he said would be what was reported on Fox News, etc, and it was what the President wanted, and that was what mattered. That is the calculation of a political operative.
How much can one man lie?
I am left wondering how much one man can lie and get away with it. The report exposes Trump’s deceitful nature on virtually every level imaginable. Whether it is responding to a question “did you insruct McGahn to fire Mueller” with “fake news”, or surreptitiously choosing a then private citizen (Lewandowski) to carry backchannel messages to Sessios, Trump systematically is shown to engage in blatant lying. This of course is not news …. it has been “in the news” throughout his Presidency. But seeing it on the pages of this authoritative, investigative report is sobering, and leaves me wondering how anyone could actually read this and come away from it with a positive impression of the President.
What About Impeachment?
There is no doubt whatsoever that the report provides a “road map” for impeachment. It’s all there. The question is — is the evidence so compelling that impeachment must be undertaken as a moral imperative in order to protect the office of the presidency and the integrity of our institutions, even if undertaking impeachment is ultimately politically damaging? Or, alternatively, does the report leave us in a gray area where yes, impeachment is justified, but it is not absolutely required, and the political calculation that a failed impeachment bid by the dems will hurt their chances in 2020 should be a major consideration.
I’m still mulling this. Principles are important, and those who today, like Elizabeth Warren, are claiming impeachment is a must as a matter of principle, have a point. But so too do those, like Nancy Pelosi, who say it’s not worth it, and the election is just around he corner, keep your eye on the ball, dems.
At this point, I come down slightly on the side of Pelosi, and I mean slightly — as in 52-48 or thereabouts. It wouldn’t take much to move me to the other side of this divide. What shades me on the side of “move on” is that I fear the damage done by this President to the country is so great, and will be so much greater if he gets four more years, that the strategic imperative is to end Trump’s era in office, and the more the focus is on the election that is fast upon us, the more likely a dem win in 2020. If instead the national focus is on the psychodrama of impeachment, I fear it will erode dem prospects in the election. And winning the election in 2020 is the overarching imperative, at least for me.
America’s official involvement in the Philippines began in 1898 when Commoodore (soon to be Admiral) Dewey sailed the Asiatic squadron from Hong Kong and defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. With the help of Filipino revolutionaries who fully expected to be granted independence, , the Americans succeeded in ousting Spain — but after doing that, rather than give the country its freedom, America took the Philippines as a colony. The Philippine-American War ensued, followed by fifty years of American colonial rule of the Philippines.
For me, it is difficult to find any American “heroes” emerging from this. But there is one: James H. Blount.
Blout had a unique perspective. He fought against Spain in Cuba in 1898 , then was transferred to the Philppines where he saw combat as an Army officer from 1899-1901. He was one of five American Army officers who were asked by Governor Taft to resign their commissions in order that they may accept civil position in America’s colonial administration in the Philippines. He was appointed a judge, eventually trying cases through Mindanao and the Visayas. He became intimately acquainted with the Philippines, and came to believe that the Filipinos were deprived unjustly of the liberty that had already won. He returned to the US in 1905 and became a leading voice in Anti-Imperialist Circles, giving speeches and lectures and writing articles all of which were focused on calling attention to the injustice of America’s policy toward the Philippines, culminating in 1913 with the publication of “The American Occupation of the Philippines 1898-1912”.
His introduction to his book says it all–and in a way, articulates not only what he set out to do with his book:
This book is an attempt, by one whose intimate acquaintance with two remotely separated peoples will be denied in no quarter, to interpret each to the other. . . .The task here undertaken is to make audible to a great free nation the voice of a weaker subject people who passionatelyy and rightly long also to be free, but whose longings have been systematically denied. . . . sometimes ignorantly, sometimes viciously, and always cruelly, on the wholly erroneous idea that where the end is benevelot, it justifies the means, regardless of the means necessary to the end.
“Occupation” begins at what is arguably the beginning of America’s adventure in the Philippines — with American Ambassador Spencer Pratt in Singapore in April 1898 at the time of the outbreak of war between America and Spain. Meticulously researched and vividly re-created, Blount recounts how Pratt approached Philippine leader Emilio Aguinaldo, then exiled in Singapore, and engineered for Aguinaldo to go to Hong Kong and present himself as an ally to Admiral James Dewey, who was then preparing to sail to Manila to confront the Spanish fleet. Blount is unequivocal in stating that Pratt absolutely did promise Philppine independence to Aguinaldo, doing so without authority and with the result that soon thereafter, Pratt was separated from the consular service and forced to retire.
Blount then traces Aguinaldo’s dealings with three crucial Americans: Dewey, and Generals Andersen, Merrit, and Otis. Out of these four relationships comes the most reasonable and balanced account I have ever read of just how it happened that America granted independence to Cuba but not the Philippines — yet gave Filipinos the clear impression that independence would indeed be forthcoming. My Filipino friends who think much about such things tend to simply believe that Dewey “lied through his teeth” to Aguinaldo, to gain the latter’s cooperation. Blount’s beat by beat explanation, coming from someone who is sympathetic to Filipino aspirations but also a good researcher and one who is aware of “the way things are” in the US Government — manages a compelling explanation for just how Dewey came to mislead Aguinaldo which has the ring of truth and reality.
One of the first points which Blount reminds us of is that Aguinaldo never met with Dewey in Hong Kong — he arrived the say after Dewey sailed, and came across from Hong Kong to the Philippines on the Mccullough, arranged by Pratt’s counterpart in Hong Kong, Consul Wildman, who like Pratt clearly led Aguinaldo to believe that Philppine independence was in the offing , as evidenced in a letter he wrote to Dewey in which he wrote:
Do not forget that the United States undertook this war for the sole purpose of relieving Cubans from the cruelties under which they were suffering, and not for the love of conquest of the hope of gain. They are actuated by precisely the same feelings for Filipinos.
General Andersen, one of the other interlocutors who would be implicated in misleading Aguinaldo, was quoted in 1900 in the Chicago Record as saying:
Every American citizen who came in contact with the Filipinos at the outset of the Spanish-American War, or any time within a few months after hostilities began, probably told those that he talked with that we intended to free them from Spanish oppression. The general expression was, “We intend to whip the Spaniards and set you free.”
One of the interesting aspects of Blount’s account is the degree to which it shed’s light on the state of Dewey’s likely knowledge, or lack of knowledge, about America’s ultimate policy toward the Philippines during the period between May 1, 1898, when he defeated the Spanish Armada in Manila Bay, and June 30th, when American ground forces finally arrived, bringing with them not only their military capacity but also news of the evolving view of the Philippines as seen by an America who had wandered into the Spanish American conflict without much thought about the Philippines–most of the focus being on Cuba.
As recently as December 1897 President McKinley had gone on record stating that war with Spain would never be fought with “forcible annexation” in mind: “That by our code of morality would be criminal.” And indeed the Teller Amendment, necessary to gain the vot in Congress necessary to authorize the war, explicitly stated that American could not take Cuba as a colony, but would instead grant independence. The Americans first present n the Philippines seem to have assumed that the Teller Amendment and statements of the “criminality” of forced annexation would apply — and thus freedom would be granted to the Philippines, same as Cuba.
Blount doesn’t give Dewey a “pass” on having contributed to the deception – rather he just provides the kind of intelligent context necessary to make the whole sorry episode understandable to anyone who cares to try and imagine how it actually went down.
Chapter after chapter, with great verve and not a little caustic wit, Blount recounts each of the beats of America’s historic involvement in the Philippines. He buttresses his own observations with extended quotations from the subsequent congressional testimony of Dewey and others, and puts a microsope onto the performance of a series of American military leaders, and then governors general, in the Philippines.
In the end, Blount throws his backing to the Mcall Resolution, which was then a proposal popular among anti-imperialists for an early grant of independence to the Philippines, coupled with guarantees that the Philippines would be “neutral” in a manner analagous to Switzerland (this to counter the argument that if America left, another great Power would move in and take over).
The McCall Resolution read:
declaring the purpose of the United States to recognize the independence of the Filipino people as soon as a stable government can be established, and requesting the President to open negotiations for the neutralization of the PHilippine Islands.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America: in Congress assembled:
That in accordance with the prinicples upon which this overnment is founded and which were again asseterd by it at the outbreak of the war with Spain, the United States delares that hte Filipino people of right ought to be free and independent.and announces its purpose to recognize their independene as soon as a stable government, republican in form, can be established by them and thereupon to transfer to such goeverment all its rigths in the Philippine Island s upon terms which shall be reasonable and just, and to leave soverignty and ctonrol of their country to the Fililpino people.
Resolved, That the Preisdent of the United States be, and he hereby is, requested to open negotiations with such foreign Powers as in his opinon would be parties to the compact for the neutralization fo the PHilippine Islands by international agreement.
That was 1913. In the end, it was 1946 before the Philippines would be released from the ‘claws of the eagle’ — but it is worth remembering that there were good Americans like Blount who “got it” long before the American government finally “let go” ….. they are worth remembering, as Blount is, for taking a stand that was less than popular, but which was right and consistent with the veryp rinciples on which America had been founded, and which its leaders seemed to forget.
It’s a great book and it’s free.
One headline reads: Trump’s Travel Ban Off to a Disturbing Start. Another: Refugees Detained, Legal Residents Blocked, as Trump’s Order is Implemented. As the reports come in of chaos around the world as legitimate visitors to the US, including students, scientists, green card holders, and vetted and approved immigrants, are barred from entry, — I just feel sick. When the “ban all Muslims” idea came up during the primaries, I spoke up. Now I have to speak up again. Because this us just the Muslim ban with window dressing to make is arguably (and probably not really) constitutional.
When this country was founded, those who decided to risk their lives did so not for a plot of land, not out of spite, they did it for certain ideals that became the moral foundation of what would become the United States of America. Ever since then, imperfect as the country often is, the United States of America (I am saying the long name for a reason) has stood for certain values. One of those values is tolerance of all religions. Another is that we are welcoming to immigrants and visitors. We proudly display the Statue of Liberty as if that is a value we believe in — not just the word “liberty” but the values on the inscription, you know, the whole “huddled masses yearning to be free” thing. America, warts and all, is a beacon.
Well, it’s one thing to have warts. It’s another to be consumed by cancer. This is cancer. It is eating away at the fabric of our nation, at our soul, at our conscience, at our core self. There is no indication whatsoever that this Executive Order is needed. Immigrants from these and other countries are not attacking us. America has not suffered an attack from visitors since 9/11, sixteen years ago. Our existing procedures are protecting us, so why this? If you’re an American living on American soil, you are more likely to be attacked by, as someone said, a “shark who won the lottery,” than by a terrorist from abroad.
And even if you can somehow twist the argument and say that this is somehow making us safer — at what damned price? Is being completely, totally, 1000% safe the only value that matters? What about being honorable? What about being just? What about sticking to the principles that have guided this nation for 200 years? Will you abandon all that … why…because you’re scared? The idea that nothing matters except being safe, and abandoning our principles in order to advance an agenda of eliminating even a demonstrably tiny (as in next to zero) risk, is utterly shameful.
For us to have elected someone this cowardly, this xenophobic — and for this sickening policy to actually have support, I feel nothing but shame and anger. Is this who we are, America? Really? Do we not realize that this is not defending us against terrorism, it’s attacking ourselves by attacking our values. Do we not realize that this policy is endangering our diplomats, endangering our military, endangering Americans abroad, far more than any imagined sense of security it is achieving at home.
Grow a pair, America.
UPDATE: There are demonstrations at many airports around the US; there are lawsuits being filed; there is what appears to be a powerful and growing surge of protest against this. That, at least, give me heart. That is America, not this cowardly policy.
Betty White through the years, in videos. Happy 95th!
Yesterday a former CIA colleague who rose to a very senior position at CIA and has spent forty years watching the Kremlin, the KGB, and the FSB reached out to me. He’s been reading what I and my Facebook “commentariat” have been saying of late, and felt compelled to offer some thoughts on the controversy that is bubbling over Russian hacking, the election of Trump, and the reality of what Putin is attempting to accomplish. He emphasized these are non-partisan thoughts,and I believe him. I don’t know what his politics are, but I’m confident his concerns transcend partisan thinking. He’s a genuinely patriotic American who devoted his life to service. He asked not to be named because he doesn’t normally engage in public discussion – but he has some important thoughts to share.
The Russian Hack is Nothing New
His first point: Let’s not lose sight of the fact that even if Russia hacked the election and influenced it, this is not the first time Russia or Russian intelligence has dipped deeply into US internal affairs and stirred the pot. It is well established that the KGB “Service A”, who were responsible for “active measures” ranging from disinformation all the way up to the occasional assassination, attempted to influence the civil rights movement in the United States, and the anti-Vietnam protest movement. Martin Luther King himself was a target, and when he frustrated the KGB by refusing to identify his movement with the international struggle against American imperialism, and instead identified it with the fulfillment of the American dream, they tried discredit him and replace him with someone more to their liking. (For details on Service A’s efforts with civil rights and Vietnam, I suggest you read The Sword and the Shield by Christopher Andrew and Vasil Mitrokhin, a KGB defector.)
What are Putin’s Objectives?
Consistently, the goal of Russian intelligence has been twofold: Internally, in America, it seeks to destabilize American society and governmental institutions, thereby making it more difficult to govern at home. A divided nation consumed with domestic unrest is less willing to pursue anti-Russian policies, whether during the Cold War or now. Further, and perhaps more importantly, a divided, struggling America cannot be perceived abroad as a “shining example of democracy” — a disrupted, chaotic America exposed America in the eyes of the world as a “fake democracy” which is in fact an unjust, hypocritical society and state not fit to “lead the free world”. Whether during Cold War times or today, Russian interests are helped when America stumbles and looks bad.
The Russian Election Hack Seen in Context
If you keep in mind the foregoing, it’s easy to see the Russian election hack in context. The intelligence community got it more or less right when it stated the goals were two-fold: first, to undermine American confidence in our democratic electoral process and; second, to undermine Clinton. But my friend makes an important distinction on this second point, and I think he’s right. He emphasizes that the Russians weren’t choosing sides so much as they were pursuing a plan to undermine either candidate when they became President:
The Russians certainly assumed Clinton was going to win the election, as did all other pundits in the U.S. from which the Russians were collecting intelligence. And while I have no doubt there was personal animosity between Putin and Clinton, the disinformation campaign had far greater goals than to address a personal grievance. They sought (and seek) to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. President. They want to make it hard for the President, whoever it is, to govern; they want the President to have to govern a contentious, divided America; they want the world to see America as in chaos, and American democracy as in crisis, even illegitimate.
Treating Trump as Illegitimate Plays Into Putin’s Hands
For starters America must understand and acknowledge the competition that is being waged by Putin; the game that is being played; his objectives and his methods. He is actively working against stability in America and against American leadership in the world. This is not a partisan observation; it is objective fact. To be in denial about this is dangerous. We must understand what was one, and how. We must take appropriate action against Putin and further establish our defenses in the event of future action, which surely will occur.
But here’s the even more important point — the big takeaway from my old colleague: We can’t view our democracy or the results of the election as something other than legitimate. Russians have been probing our democracy and attempting to influence it for many years, and this election hack needs to be seen in that context. It’s yet another effort, the latest in a long line going back to the early years of the Cold War, and neither this hack nor any of the previous efforts can or should be seen as de-legitimizing American democracy. He writes:
The latest Russian initiative will only be successful if we allow it to be successful. . . .What can be done to resolve this issue and what do we do in the meantime? What we should not do is to characterize Trump’s victory as “illegitimate” due to Russian interference. Even as patriotic and heroic American like Congressman Lewis is unintentionally damaging America by doing this. By claiming Trump is illegitimate, he is fulfilling the objectives of the Russian disinformation campaign by undermining our electoral process, undermining the office and the person of the U.S. President, and delivering up to Russia just what Putin wants–a fractious, chaotic, dysfunctional vision of American democracy. Yes, the Russians influence the election, but does that make the President illegitimate? No. Would Congressman Lewis or the others calling Trump illegitimate characterize the civil rights movement as “illegitimate” because the KGB was in there mucking around with it? Or the Vietnam anti-war movement? I think not. Yes, there was Russian influence, but no, this did not render illegitimate those movements, nor should it render illegitimate the Trump Presidency. The Soviets/Russians have been involved in these types of activities for a long time and their actions should not automatically discredit their targets. . . . .The current path of political divisiveness, vitriol and hate are playing directly into Putin’s hands. Russia certainly initiated this latest round, but we should not enable their further success by behaving precisely the way they are trying to make us behave.
My Take on His Take
I think he’s gotten at something very important that I’ve been struggling to articulate. Because of the hyper-partisan nature of our current political culture, it seems that we have largely fallen into two warring camps on the issue of the Russian hack: Americans on the left claim it’s real, it happened, and because of it they push the agenda that Trump is not a legitimate President. And because it’s seen as a blatant attempt by the left not to address a genuine security concern, but rather to attack and delegitimize Trump as President, Americans on the right refuse to accept that it happened. And meanwhile we descend further into partisan chaos, which was the objective of Putin’s hack anyway.
Somehow we need to arrive at a place where we as a nation accept with clear-headed rationality that yes, Putin and Russia hacked and influenced the election — but this does NOT delegitimize the election of Trump any more than the KGB’s efforts to influence the civil rights or anti-war movements delegitimized those movements. Our democracy isn’t perfect; foreign influence can’t be completely rooted out; but we need to move forward with confidence in our institutions while learning from what happened and being more vigilant in the future.
Another old CIA colleague, not the one who wrote me yesterday, used to refer to our work “back in the day” with a wry, self-deprecating expression. At the end of the workday he would say: “Another day spent puttying the windows of democracy.” What just happened in the election suggests that a draft of cold Russian air got through the window, and some puttying indeed needs to be done — but the window is intact, and to suggest it’s broken hands Putin a victory he doesn’t deserve.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Russian influence operation against the American elections. I’ve read and reread the declassified report, and I’ve thought about it from the perspective of both an American observer in 2017 and the perspective of a former Cold War era intelligence officer. I’ve tried to digest all the inputs and come to some conclusions. This is my Sunday morning effort to articulate them.
What Putin Doesn’t Want
Putin is not a friend of the “American led liberal democratic world order.” He is not supportive of American interests as we have defined them since WWII. Fareed Zakaria traces Putin’s desire to disrupt this to the Arab spring, which seemed to presage a wave of democratic upheaval and caused him to feel threatened. I would trace it to at least the end of the Cold War and his perception that America took aggressive advantage by expanding NATO into the former Soviet sphere of influence, which he perceived a very threatening move. There are more reasons, but the bottom line is that Putin does not want a world order in which America and the Western democracies dominate and threaten to export and expand their “liberal democratic” world order. He is against that, and we should be aware of that as a starting point for interacting with him.
What Putin Does Want
In 2013 the chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, wrote about responding to the Arab Spring and other democratic revolutions which were threats because when these revolutions happen, “a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.” His article put forward the argument that Russia must develop the full arsenal of tools to discourage “Arab Spring” type democratically inspired uprisings — tools that ranged from special operations to information operations. Putin agreed with this assessment and continues to see it to be in Russia’s interests to keep future “Arab Spring” type democratic uprisings from happening. He prefers populism, nationalism, rather than a unified US led liberal democratic front.
As Molly McKee writes, what Putin wants is ” what the Kremlin calls a “multi-vector” foreign policy, undermining the strength of Western institutions by coalescing alternate — ideally temporary and limited — centers of power. Rather than a stable world order undergirded by the U.S. and its allies, the goal is an unstable new world order of “all against all.” The Kremlin has tried to accelerate this process by both inflaming crises that overwhelm the Western response (for example, the migration crisis in Europe, and the war in eastern Ukraine) and by showing superiority in ‘solving’ crises the West could not (for example, bombing Syria into submission, regardless of the cost, to show Russia can impose stability in the Middle East when the West cannot).” The important thing here is to understand that Putin is not our friend–he is at a minimum a proponent of a revised world order that takes America down several notches and ends the era of domination the US and NATO. This doesn’t make him an implacable enemy …. but neither is he what Trump seems to see him as — a “bro” just waiting to be shown a little respect, and he’ll be our pal. It’s more complicated than that.
How Putin is Trying to Achieve His Goals
Putin sees the achievement of his objectives not as something that can be negotiated or bargained — he sees it at minimum as a stern contest between nations, and arguably he sees it as a multidimensional non-linear war in which the war machine includes everything — military is part of it, but also all the other tools are in play — technology, cyber attacks, overt information operation, , diplomatic efforts, economic efforts, cultural — all of this must be orchestrated toward the strategic objective. Perhaps it’s good to think of this as “political warfare” — meaning combat which stops short of armed conflict but uses everything else in the arsenal to try to achieve the desired outcomes for the Kremlin. As McKew writes, oftentimes the goal can be as simple as replacing “Western-style democratic regimes with illiberal, populist, or nationalist ones.”
Against this background, the US election was a golden opportunity to undermine the whole concept of western democracy and show it not as a shining example of the way things should be — but instead, to highlight it as not really democratic, as hypocritical, as a sham, etc. And so the Kremlin undertook a full range of “political warfare” operations in support of the first objective, undermining the whole liberal democracy paradigm. Given this first objective, it can be argued that it did not originate as a partisan effort against Hillary — it was designed to chip away at America’s standing as the leading liberal democracy; to cast doubt on the legitimacy of American democracy; to diminish America in the eyes of the world; and to undermine American citizen’s own confidence in their core institutions. Trump unwittingly helped this effort with his claims, when he was behind in the polls, that the election was “rigged”, and his open call, joking or not, for the Kremlin to steal more emails. All of this chipped away at American trust in our institutions, and so was consistent with Kremlin objectives.
Now …. keep in mind that part of the Kremlin policy is to pursue “illiberal, populist, or nationalist” outcomes in elections in the west, rather than the perpetuation of “Western-style democratic regimes.” Hillary was clearly the option in our election who would perpetuate western style democratic regimes and the “US led liberal democratic world order”. Putin didn’t want this. Trump was “illiberal, populist, nationalist.” Trump thus fit the mold of the kind of populist leader that the Kremlin wants to see come to power in as many places as possible. It is strategically consistent for the Kremlin to prefer Trump — and it took actions that supported that, not as some sort of wild-ass decision to take sides in the US election, but rather as an extension and a continuation of its strategic approach to the whole situation in the world.
So actions were taken that attacked our democracy in general, and which secondarily supported Trump vs Clinton.
Many of those actions fell within the acceptable spectrum of international give and take between nations. After all, a US election affects every nation on earth. Every nation, every citizen on earth, has reason and right to voice an opinion. So some of Russia’s efforts were “business as usual.” Russia’s development of its RT Network as a powerful internet mouthpiece is “within the rules” of acceptable international norms of behavior. So to are the use of all the overtly pro-Russian bloggers and talking heads, pushing a line that the Kremlin wants pushed.
But the effort included some actions that are perceived by most American leaders, including Republicans, as having “crossed the line” from acceptable international propaganda efforts to unacceptable hostile actions that reached deeply into internal US processes — a “hidden hand” seeking to achieve a partisan outcome in the US election. This category of actions that “crossed the line” of acceptability includes the publication by the Kremlin via its ally Wikileaks of the Podesta emails; the creation and promulgation of “fake news” using advanced social media techniques to cause the fake news to go viral; the use of an army of undeclared paid “trolls”, frequently posing as Americans, to amplify the impact of fake news and to further the strategic messaging objectives. All of these are similar to techniques used during the Cold War — but they are made infinitely more effective and powerful by the technology of social media, and so in 2017, the Russian efforts had a far greater impact than similar efforts in the Cold War did. And it is because the actions a) crossed a perceived line, and b) resulted in literally billions of individual “impressions” being made on the minds of voters, that it became such a big deal in the minds of so many. It was not only blatant “poltiical warfare” that break the norms of accepted behavior — it was damned effective in the the first election in US history where more news “impressions” were made via social media than via traditional media. And so you have, today, everyone from Obama to McCain and Lindsey Graham railing against this crossing of the line, while Trump either denies it happened, or simply accepts it as the new normal.
Is this state of “political warfare” where all of these actions are pursued the new normal? Should it be? Or should a sovereign nation like the US say no, this goes too far, and if you are going to do this, then we will retaliate? Many feel that it does go too far, that retaliation is appropriate and necessary. Some, and apparently Trump falls into this category, don’t see it as anything other than the new normal, to be accepted as part of the landscape.
What Does It Mean?
As a nation, we need to clearly understand the nature of the aggressive contest, if not a fullscale war, that is happening here. Does Trump fully understand it? Does Trump understand that Putin seeks a re-structuring of the world order that is very much against the world order that America and the western allies have been trying to develop since World War II. He is against the idea that western style democracy with America as the leading example of it, is “the answer” for nations across the globe.
Does Trump even favor the perpetuation of that “American led liberal democratic world order” that we have been working to build since WWII — or is he against it? His “America first” populism, his denigration of NATO and the UN, all of this suggests that he’s not really in favor it. But is this a truly carefully thought out position? Does he understand what will be lost if we let this slip away? Is it a position that Americans who voted for Trump truly want? Trump framed it as “America first” but what if that means abandoning the post WWII global structure in which America is first among a functioning coalition of western democracies? Is Trump ready to jettison that entire structure in favor if … what?
I worry that Trump has not thought deeply about any of this. I worry that he doesn’t fully understand the forces that are in play, or what the stakes are. At a minimum, I want Trump to grapple with and understand what Russia and Putin are actually trying to accomplish, and to arrive a true understanding of the competition, the contest, the “political war” that is happening. I don’t think he’s there yet.
Is that too much to ask?
Therapy exercise for the day:
Dear President Trump,
Since the travel ban was enacted last week, protests have erupted and the polarization of America has accelerated. Like many, I’ve been engaged in social media dialogue and debate about this, and in the course of that debate I’ve learned that there is a fundamental concept that seems to matter deeply to “our side” — and is lost on “your side.”
I want to try and explain it.
You say that the ban is to protect Americans and I accept that you’re sincere in that even though an argument (with which I agree) can be made that it has created a net loss in security by putting our Embassy staffers, our military, and our intelligence personnel at greater risk and by stimulating further recruitment of Isis.
But that’s not my point in writing you.
My point is this: The Radical Islamic Terrorists whom you seek to protect us from are attacking our society in two ways, and you are only considering one. The aspect of their attack that you are considering is the physical one — terrorists attack America and some of our citizens are injured or killed. You seem to believe that any measure that impedes such attacks and protects Americans from physical danger is worthwhile and justified.
But there is a second danger from the opposition and you are ignoring that. That second danger is not the physical attack — it is the attack on our values, our identity, and our way of life, and these are all things we must protect as vigorously as we protect our physical safety. Your calculus is that they only win when they launch a physical attack, and if such attack is thwarted they lose. But they also win even when they don’t successfully attack, if by their threat they cause us to abandon our principles, our core values, and our way of life. These are sacred and they must be protected just as vigorously as our physical well being is protected.
Will you protect these values?
A core value of America is that we are a country who is open, welcoming, hospitable to people of all races and especially all religions. There have been setbacks in the past when we faltered, but the greater arc of history can be seen evolving from the origins of America in flight from religious persecution, through the safeguards in the constitution, to the continued renewal of our country by wave after wave of immigrants who infuse a unique energy, entrepreneurism, and optimism into our culture. All of this makes America unique. We believe these values must be cherished and protected just as vigorously as our physical safety is protected.
When a security threat presents itself, we believe that your duty is not simply to enact any and every action that could possibly make us physically safer. We believe that your duty is to weigh both the physical threat, and the threat to our identity, values, and way of life. When you look at the threat as two-pronged, and you seek to protect both our lives and our way of life, the focus shifts.
We see the ban you have implemented as an overreaction to a threat that is already well managed with existing structures and procedures. We see it as an irrational and emotional reaction that fans our weakest instincts and only incrementally adds to our physical safety. Yet the cost of this incremental increase in physical safety is great; the cost is that it degrades us morally and damages the core values and fabric of our society in ways that far outweigh any slight improvement in our physical security.
Mr. President, America is more than a place, more than a community, even more than a nation — it is a unique repository of hopes, dreams, and ideals that were articulated by our founders and have been carried forward for two hundred years. You have been elected to be the keeper of that flame. Your desire to protect us physically is a good thing; but you must balance that desire to keep us safe with an equal desire to protect our way of life and our values and keep them safe too. We Americans are not cowards. We are willing to accept some risk to protect our way of life, especially when a leader steps forward an illuminates what is at stake, and why our physical well being is not all that is at risk.
I realize there is very little hope my words will reach you, but I had to try. It is in our American DNA for the country to be courageous, not timid. Inspire us and enable that courage to be shown, don’t stifle it by playing to our weakest nature.
Let us be patriots.
Michael Sellers and all who feel the same way.
For Americans of a certain age, December 7, 1941, will forever be, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt labeled it — “a day that will live in infamy”. It was on that day, at 7:48 am, that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, in the process decimating the U.S. Pacific fleet and precipitating America’s entry into World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor is rightly remembered as a devastating moment in American history. But forgotten in the retelling of Pearl Harbor is that the Japanese attack on that day was not limited to Hawaii. The Philippines — America’s only colony (also a forgotten fact)– also came under attack by the Japanese and the American air base at Clark Field was decimated. The story of the attack on the Philippines deserves to be remembered alongside Pearl Harbor.
The American Colony of the Philippines
In 1898 America declared war on Spain over human rights issues relating to Spain’s mistreatment of the inhabitants of Cuba, a Spanish colony on America’s doorstep. Cuban expatriots in the US fanned anti-Spanish fervor to the point that in America of 1898, sympathy for Cuban insurgents ran high — particularly so after the Spanish military commander Valeriano Weyler y Niclau instituted reconcentrado — the use of concentration camps — whereby Cuba’s rural population was forced into garrison towns. A series of events in 1898 — particularly the mysterious explosion and sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor — brought the calls for war to a crescendo.
Meanwhile, Spain held another colony, the Philippines, half a world away where many of the same policies were in effect, and where insurgents had been battling Spain for control of the islands for years.
America went to war with Spain and fought the war on two fronts — in Cuba, and in the Philippines. Commodore (soon to be Admiral) James Dewey and the American Asiatic Squadron defeated the Spanish Fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay, and at the successful conclusion of the brief war America gave Cuba its freedom, but took the Philippines as a colony. Philippine insurrectionists who had made common cause with America against Spain objected but to no avail. In February 1899 war broke out between the US and the Phililppines — a war that started as a conventional affair, and quickly devolved into a Vietnam-style insurgency. In 1901 the US declared military victory and began a period of civilian rule.
Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines
In 1903, the young Lt. Douglas MacArthur was ordered to the Philippines along with the 3rd Engineer Battalion. MacArthur was sent to Iloilo, and went on to conduct surveys in Tacloban City, Calbayog, and Cebu. The Philippines charmed MacArthur, who wrote, they “fastened me with a grip that never relaxed.”
MacArthur returned to the Philippines in October 1922, to assume command of the Military District of Manila. MacArthur’s friendships with Filipinos like Manuel Quezon offended some Americans who found MacArthur inadequately colonial in his behavior. In June 1923, MacArthur assumed command of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Division. In 1925, at the age of 44, he was promoted, becoming the Army’s youngest major general and returned to the US where in 1927 he assumed command of the Philippine Department and in subsequent years spent considerable time in the Philippines as part of his duties.
In 1935, as the Philippines achieved semi-independence, Philippine President Manuel Quezon called upon MacArthur to supervise the creation of a Philippine Army. MacArthur then took on a dual assignment as Field Marshal in command of the Philippine Army and as the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Governmet of the Philippines. In 1937 MacArthur retired from the Army but remained in the Philippines. He ceased to represent the U.S. as military adviser to the government, but remained as Quezon’s adviser in a civilian capacity.
News of The Attack on Pearl Harbor Reaches the Philippines
On 26 July 1941 as war with Japan loomed, Roosevelt federalized the Philippine Army and recalled MacArthur, who had made his home in the Philippines, to active duty in the U.S. Army as a major general, appointing him as commander of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East(USAFFE) — a joint American-Filipino force. MacArthur was in command of this force when the attack on Pearl Harbor came.
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor at 7:48am Hawaii time, which was 2:18 AM on the 8th in Manila. A Navy radioman in Manila heard news of the attack within 5 minutes after it began and passed it on to the officer of the day, who telephoned Admiral Hart in his hotel room at the Manila hotel at 3:00 AM.
An hour and a half later General George C. Marshall, USA Chief of Staff, sent a radiogram to MacArthur which was given to MacArthur at 5:30 AM. It stated: “hostilities between Japan and the United States … have commenced…. ”
At Clark Field, Base commanders received prompt notification and all units were placed on combat alert.” An Army history states “By breakfast, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor had reached all ranks. The men had for so long accepted the fact that war with Japan might come that the event itself was an anticlimax. There was no cheering and no demonstration, but “a grim, thoughtful silence.”
The Japanese Attack
In spite of the activity noted above which began at 3:00 AM, at 11 in the morning all of the aircraft at Clark Air Base were on the ground. Military historians have long debated precisely what happened, and how it came to be that MacArthur’s air force was caught on the ground. But the reality is — the attack came, and the air assets at Clark Field were decimated.
At 11:27 A.M. radar in Iba, Zambales, on the west coast of Luzon, picked up a flight of aircraft over the Gulf of Lingayen north of Iba Point. The sighting was reported to Nichols Field (Villamor Air Base today). By 11:37, the report was teletyped to the 24th PG Headquarters at Clark Field. While this initial report is clear — what followed is not, and the trail of exactly who knew what, and when, is unclear.
It is certain, however that no American aircraft intercepted any Japanese aircraft.
Defeat in the Philippines
By the time the Japanese left an hour later, half the B-17s and one-third of the P-40s were destroyed, and two of the four P-40-equipped pursuit squadrons were eliminated as combat units.
On December 10, two days later, the Japanese bombed and strafed Nichols and Del Carmen Fields, leaving those bases in shambles and destroying about half the remaining P-40s and all but five P-35As.
So, only three days into the war, the Japanese had eliminated U.S. airpower in the Philippines.
Without a functioning air force, US and Phililppine troops defended against Japan, but ultimately the defense was unsuccessful. On April 9, 1942, the combined US and Philippine forces surrendered.
MacArthur escaped to Australia where he would be credited with masterminding the eventual defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific.
As Michael Gough writes: “The surrender of the Philippine Islands marked the largest surrender of U.S. troops and the largest loss of U.S. territory in history. It extended the reach of the Japanese Empire 1,000 miles into the Pacific, and the Naval Base at Cavite, near Manila, the excellent harbors on Manila Bay, and the American airfields were valuable additions to Japanese naval and military strength.”
But of course, the defeat at the beginning of the war was far from the whole story . . . .
As I watched the final night of the Republican convention, I experienced a weird emotional ride. First there was Ivanka Trump, undeniably intelligent, poised, articulate — and apparently compassionate, thoughtful, and “aware”. She did a spectacular job introducing Donald Trump — so spectacular that I was thoroughly softened up and open-minded to Trump as he took the stage. I would never vote for him, but maybe, just maybe, I could accept him without enormous angst. Ivanka pushed me that far.
Then Trump took the stage and ten minutes later I was feeling a sense of overwhelming despair that this man could rise to such a position in our country. I believe he will never become President, but he might, and if he does . . . But even if he never becomes President, the fact that he has secured the nomination of one of our two major parties is already beyond comprehension.
Fortunately for me — there is a voice out there that has articulated what I’m feeling, and it’s not a democratic voice. It belongs to Chris Ladd, lifelong active Republican party member, who blogs at GOPLifer.com. Ladd has just submitted his resignation letter to the Republican Party. You can read the entire letter here.
Meanwhile, here is the section of the letter that articulates precisely what I feel when I contemplate the Trump candidacy.
There is something darkly profound going on in America political life and discourse. The rise of Donald Trump is, I’m beginning to think, more than a political shift. It’s a deeper cultural and psychological shift that is the logical outcome of the polarization and gridlock that has gripped our democracy ever since the emergence of the Tea Party and quite possibly sooner than that. The truth is, there had to be payback from the people to those who govern when they let themselves get so mired in partisan polarities that they just stopped doing their damned jobs in any reasonable and productive way. Think about all those polls showing 10% approval rating for Congress. Trump is perceived as a kick-ass antitote to the foolish, selfish, stupidity that has resulted in what is widely perceived to be dysfunctional democracy. Trump is perceived as the anti-politics solution to Washington’s failure to deliver satisfaction to anyone, left or right.
Robert Reich has put a finger on it when he writes:
Anti-politics pits Washington insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a growing number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no center, only hostility and suspicion. Americans who feel like they’re being screwed are attracted to an authoritarian bully – a strongman who will kick ass. The former reality TV star who repeatedly told contestants they were “fired!” appears tough and confrontational enough to take on powerful vested interests.
What’s going on is not so much political as it is psychological. People are so disgusted with the failure of political discourse and hence with politicians, that they are willing to overlook Trump’s many obvious flaws and just roll the dice and take a chance that he’ll get in there and kick enough ass to break up the gridlock and get things moving again. They’re willing to sacrifice some of their political ideology in favor of “let’s turn this guy loose and shake things up.”
The scariest part is not that this is just a unique phenemonon. Writing about democracy two thousand years ago, Plato (who was not a fan of democracy) foresaw the emergence of a demogogic strong man as the inevitable outcome of late stage democracy.
Reich point out that Trump’s recent rise in the polls from a 50-39 defict to a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in less than two weeks has happened at a time when “Trump has been the object of even more unfavorable press than he was before – about his treatment of women, his propensity to lie, his bizarre policy proposals. Before this came months of news coverage of his bigotry, megalomania, narcissism, xenophobia, refusals to condemn violence at his rallies, refusals to distance himself from white supremacists, and more lies.” Yet in spite of all of that — look what’s happening?
What will be the outcome in November?
I will say this.
Anyone attempting to project what will happen needs to be studying psychographics as much as demographics.
If you’re a democrat, the situation is not helped by the fact that the dem candidate is the ultimate insider, a poster icon of the entitled elite. She is the perfect foil for Trump. And he knows how to get the most out of Hillary as an opponent–how to use her to stoke the sense that the system is rigged, that it’s all about the elite and not about me.
Will America finally, at the eleventh hour, sober up and make a sober choice? Or will will the nation collectively cash in its 401k, buy a Harley, and take off into a brave and frightening new reality with Trump?
Dems be forewarned. Don’t think for a minute that he can’t win, because he can. America is just that pissed off, just that filled with rage.
Take a deep breath and get ready for the very real possibility of President Trump.
My all-time favorite movie is in the game for the 2016 election. Can’t stand Trump. Hate Hillary? Vote for President Merkin Muffley, played by my namesake, Peter Sellers . . . .who was Merkin Muffley. Where do I begin? Well, we’re talking about Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) . . .
Well, I guess I should start with the trailer for anyone who isn’t familiar with this work of genius by Stanley Kubrick.
Here’s the short trailer — and remember this is 1964. Do you remember what 1964 trailers were like? Guarantee you – -they weren’t like this. Completely innovative.
And the second version is a fan remaster in HD which is beyoootiful.
Now then, Dmitri….
Now then, Dmitri, YOU know…how…we’ve alllways talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dmitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now, what happened is…uh, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of…well, he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little…funny. And…uh, he went and did a silly thing! Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes…to attack your country. President Merkin Muffley
Who’s More Sorry?
Don’t say that you’re more sorry than I am, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are Dimitri. President Merkin Muffley.
Ten to twenty million killed, tops!
“Mr. President, I’m not saying we won’t get our hair mussed. I do say, no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops! Depending on the breaks.” General Buck Turgidson.
Survival Kit Contents
Survival kit contents check: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, vitamin pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Sheet, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff. Major King Kong
Review by Simon Miraudo (a particularly perceptive review)
Stanley Kubrick‘s blistering Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb opened on January 29, 1964, simultaneously screening in New York, London, and Toronto. Despite there being no evidence to prove as much, I have a sneaking suspicion the usually-reasonable Canadian audiences enjoyed it most. In the States, at least, it was accused by some of being Soviet propaganda. There were also those who thought its premise was implausible at best and actively evil at worst. For Kubrick, who had previously unleashed Lolita on the world, and within the decade would begin work on A Clockwork Orange, this backlash probably seemed quaint. Strangelove was as close as he got to making ‘a lark’ – why was everyone freaking out?
Concerning a Yankee air force general going rogue and inciting a nuclear apocalypse while the President and his incompetent advisers fret about, basically achieving nothing, the flick is hardly an “Oo-rah!” celebration of American excellence. Based on Peter George’s novel Red Alert – as loosely as something can be while still being classified as an ‘adaptation’ – Kubrick’s grand farce stars Peter Sellers, offering up three gargantuan comic performances for the price of one: the diplomatic-to-a-fault President Merkin Muffley; the flustered RAF captain Lionel Mandrake, forced to negotiate with the crazed, nuke-firing Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden); and, of course, Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi consultant to the President with a not-so-secret lust for nuclear winters.
Actually there are Endless Memorable Quotes
President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel… that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.
Colonel “Bat” Guano: That’s private property.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel! Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed a telephone call to the President of the United States? Can you imagine? Shoot it off! Shoot! With a gun! That’s what the bullets are for, you twit!
Colonel “Bat” Guano: Okay. I’m gonna get your money for ya. But if you don’t get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what’s gonna happen to you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: What?
Colonel “Bat” Guano: You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Sir, you can’t let him in here. He’ll see everything. He’ll see the big board!
[the President calls the Soviet Premier]
President Merkin Muffley: [to Kissoff] Hello?… Uh… Hello D- uh hello Dmitri? Listen uh uh I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb… The *Bomb*, Dmitri… The *hydrogen* bomb!… Well now, what happened is… ahm… one of our base commanders, he had a sort of… well, he went a little funny in the head… you know… just a little… funny. And, ah… he went and did a silly thing… Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes… to attack your country… Ah… Well, let me finish, Dmitri… Let me finish, Dmitri… Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?… Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?… Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?… *Of course* I like to speak to you!… *Of course* I like to say hello!… Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened… It’s a *friendly* call. Of course it’s a friendly call… Listen, if it wasn’t friendly… you probably wouldn’t have even got it… They will *not* reach their targets for at least another hour… I am… I am positive, Dmitri… Listen, I’ve been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick… Well, I’ll tell you. We’d like to give your air staff a complete run-down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes… Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we’re unable to recall the planes, then… I’d say that, ah… well, ah… we’re just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri… I know they’re our boys… All right, well listen now. Who should we call?… *Who* should we call, Dmitri? The… wha-whe, the People… you, sorry, you faded away there… The People’s Central Air Defense Headquarters… Where is that, Dmitri?… In Omsk… Right… Yes… Oh, you’ll call them first, will you?… Uh-huh… Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri?… Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Omsk information… Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm… I’m sorry, too, Dmitri… I’m very sorry… *All right*, you’re sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well… I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don’t say that you’re more sorry than I am, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are… So we’re both sorry, all right?… All right.
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.
General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
General Jack D. Ripper: Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!
[first title card]
Title Card: It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film. Furthermore, it should be noted that none of the characters portrayed in this film are meant to represent any real persons living or dead.
[Strangelove’s plan for post-nuclear war survival involves living underground with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio]
General “Buck” Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?
Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious… service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Well, boys, we got three engines out, we got more holes in us than a horse trader’s mule, the radio is gone and we’re leaking fuel and if we was flying any lower why we’d need sleigh bells on this thing… but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain’t gonna spot us on no radar screen!
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Well, boys, I reckon this is it – nuclear combat toe to toe with the Roosskies. Now look, boys, I ain’t much of a hand at makin’ speeches, but I got a pretty fair idea that something doggone important is goin’ on back there. And I got a fair idea the kinda personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin’. Heck, I reckon you wouldn’t even be human bein’s if you didn’t have some pretty strong personal feelin’s about nuclear combat. I want you to remember one thing, the folks back home is a-countin’ on you and by golly, we ain’t about to let ’em down. I tell you something else, if this thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just might be, I’d say that you’re all in line for some important promotions and personal citations when this thing’s over with. That goes for ever’ last one of you regardless of your race, color or your creed. Now let’s get this thing on the hump – we got some flyin’ to do.
General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk… ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: [very nervous] Lord, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I… no, no. I don’t, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard-core Commie works.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, Jack, Jack, listen… tell me, tell me, Jack. When did you first… become… well, develop this theory?
General Jack D. Ripper: [somewhat embarassed] Well, I, uh… I… I… first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love.
General Jack D. Ripper: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue… a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I… I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.
General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh… women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh… I do not avoid women, Mandrake.
General Jack D. Ripper: But I… I do deny them my essence.
General “Buck” Turgidson: General Ripper called Strategic Air Command headquarters shortly after he issued the go code. I have a portion of the transcript of that conversation if you’d like me to to read it.
President Merkin Muffley: Read it!
General “Buck” Turgidson: Ahem… The Duty Officer asked General Ripper to confirm the fact that he *had* issued the go code, and he said, uh, “Yes gentlemen, they are on their way in, and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our country, and our way of life, I suggest you get the rest of SAC in after them. Otherwise, we will be totally destroyed by Red retaliation. Uh, my boys will give you the best kind of start, 1400 megatons worth, and you sure as hell won’t stop them now, uhuh. Uh, so let’s get going, there’s no other choice. God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural… fluids. God bless you all” and he hung up.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Uh, we’re, still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase, sir.
President Merkin Muffley: There’s nothing to figure out, General Turgidson. This man is obviously a psychotic.
General “Buck” Turgidson: We-he-ell, uh, I’d like to hold off judgement on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.
President Merkin Muffley: General Turgidson! When you instituted the human reliability tests, you *assured* me there was *no* possibility of such a thing *ever* occurring!
General “Buck” Turgidson: Well, I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.
[after learning of the Doomsday Machine]
President Merkin Muffley: But this is absolute madness, Ambassador! Why should you *build* such a thing?
Ambassador de Sadesky: There were those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
President Merkin Muffley: This is preposterous. I’ve never approved of anything like that.
Ambassador de Sadesky: Our source was the New York Times.
General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well… yes I was, matter of fact, Jack. I was.
General Jack D. Ripper: Did they torture you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese. Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story.
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, what happened?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, well, I don’t know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well… what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff’s.
General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you. Did you talk?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no… well, I don’t think they wanted me to talk really. I don’t think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.
President Merkin Muffley: You mean people could actually stay down there for a hundred years?
Dr. Strangelove: It would not be difficult, Mein Führer. Nuclear reactors could – heh, I’m sorry, Mr. President – nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Hmm… Strangelove? What kind of a name is that? That ain’t no Kraut name is it, Stainesey?
Mr. Staines: He changed it when he became a citizen. Used to be Merkwürdigliebe.
[the German word for “Strangelove”]
General “Buck” Turgidson: Well, a Kraut by any other name, uh Stainesey?
General “Buck” Turgidson: Is that the Russian ambassador you’re talking about?
President Merkin Muffley: Yes it is, General.
General “Buck” Turgidson: A-A-Am I to understand the *Russian* ambassador is to be admitted entrance to th-the War Room?
President Merkin Muffley: That is correct, he is here on my orders.
General “Buck” Turgidson: I… I don’t know exactly how to put this, sir, but are you aware of what a serious breach of security that would be? I mean, he’ll see everything, he’ll… he’ll see the Big Board!
[Strangelove admits that he investigated making such a machine]
Dr. Strangelove: Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious.
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, if I may speak freely, the Russkie talks big, but frankly, we think he’s short of know how. I mean, you just can’t expect a bunch of ignorant peons to understand a machine like some of our boys. And that’s not meant as an insult, Mr. Ambassador, I mean, you take your average Russkie, we all know how much guts he’s got. Hell, lookit all them Nazis killed off and they still wouldn’t quit.
Sign: Peace is our Profession.
Miss Scott: It’s 3 o’clock in the morning!
General “Buck” Turgidson: Weh-heh-heh-ll, the Air Force never sleeps.
Miss Scott: Buck, honey, I’m not sleepy either…
General “Buck” Turgidson: I know how it is, baby. Tell you what you do: you just start your countdown, and old Bucky’ll be back here before you can say “Blast off!”
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, about, uh, 35 minutes ago, General Jack Ripper, the commanding general of, uh, Burpelson Air Force Base, issued an order to the 34 B-52’s of his Wing, which were airborne at the time as part of a special exercise we were holding called Operation Drop-Kick. Now, it appears that the order called for the planes to, uh, attack their targets inside Russia. The, uh, planes are fully armed with nuclear weapons with an average load of, um, 40 megatons each. Now, the central display of Russia will indicate the position of the planes. The triangles are their primary targets; the squares are their secondary targets. The aircraft will begin penetrating Russian radar cover within, uh, 25 minutes.
President Merkin Muffley: General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.
General “Buck” Turgidson: That’s right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority.
General “Buck” Turgidson: If the pilot’s good, see, I mean if he’s reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low… oh you oughta see it sometime. It’s a sight. A big plane like a ’52… varrrooom! Its jet exhaust… frying chickens in the barnyard!
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.
President Merkin Muffley: And why haven’t you radioed the plans countermanding the go-code?
General “Buck” Turgidson: Well, I’m afraid we’re unable to communicate with any of the aircraft.
President Merkin Muffley: Why?
General “Buck” Turgidson: As you may recall, sir, one of the provisions of Plan ‘R’ provides that once the go-code is received, the normal SSB Radios in the aircraft are switched into a special coded device which I believe is designated as CRM-114. Now, in order to prevent the enemy from issuing fake or confusing orders, CRM-114 is designed not to receive at all – unless the message is preceded by the correct three-letter recall code group prefix.
President Merkin Muffley: Then do you mean to tell me, General Turgidson, that you will be unable to recall the aircraft?
General “Buck” Turgidson: That’s about the size of it. However, we are plowing through every possible three-letter combination of the code. But since there are 17,000 permutations… it’s going to take us about two-and-a-half days to transmit them all.
President Merkin Muffley: How soon did you say our planes will be entering Russian radar cover?
General “Buck” Turgidson: About 18 minutes from now, sir.
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don’t want no horsing around on the airplane?
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones. You sure you got today’s codes?
General Jack D. Ripper: Your Commie has no regard for human life, not even his own. And for this reason, men, I want to impress upon you the need for extreme watchfulness. The enemy may come individually, or he may come in strength. He may even come in the uniform of our own troops. But however he comes, we must stop him. We must not allow him to gain entrance to this base. Now, I’m going to give you THREE SIMPLE rules: First, trust NO one, whatever his uniform or rank, unless he is known to you personally; Second, anyone or anything that approaches within 200 yards of the perimeter is to be FIRED UPON; Third, if in doubt, shoot first then ask questions afterward. I would sooner accept a few casualties through accidents rather losing the entire base and its personnel through carelessness. Any variation of these rules must come from me personally. Any variation on these rules must come from me personally. Now, men, in conclusion, I would like to say that, in the two years it has been my privilege to be your commanding officer, I have always expected the best from you, and you have never given me anything less than that. Today, the nation is counting on us. We’re not going to let them down. Good luck to you all.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Erm, what about the planes, sir? Surely we must issue the recall code immediately.
General Jack D. Ripper: Group Captain, the planes are not gonna be recalled. My attack orders have been issued, and the orders stand.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, if you’ll excuse me saying so, sir, that would be, to my way of thinking, rather… well, rather an odd way of looking at it. You see, if a Russian attack was in progress, we would certainly not be hearing civilian broadcast.
General Jack D. Ripper: Are you certain of that, Mandrake?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, I’m absolutely positive about it.
General Jack D. Ripper: And what if it is true?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, I’m afraid I’m still not with you, sir, because, I mean, if a Russian attack was not in progress, then your use of Plan R – in fact, your order to the entire Wing… Oh. I would say, sir, that there were something dreadfully wrong somewhere.
General Jack D. Ripper: Now why don’t you just take it easy, Group Captain, and please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you’d like.
[Mandrake snaps to attention and salutes]
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: General Ripper, Sir, as an officer in Her Majesty’s Air Force, it is my clear duty, under the present circumstances, to issue the recall code, upon my own authority, and bring back the Wing. If you’ll excuse me, sir.
[He finds the doors locked]
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I’m afraid, sir, I must ask you for the key, and the recall code. Have you got them handy, sir?
[Turgidson advocates a further nuclear attack to prevent a Soviet response to Ripper’s attack]
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.
President Merkin Muffley: You’re talking about mass murder, General, not war!
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.
Major T. J. “King” Kong: Stay on the bomb run, boys! I’m gonna get them doors open if it harelips ever’body on Bear Creek!
[General Turgenson’s phone rings in the war room]
General “Buck” Turgidson: Hello…
General “Buck” Turgidson: I told you never to call me here, don’t you know where I am?… Well look, baby, I c-, I *can’t* talk to you now… my president needs me!… Of *course* Bucky’d rather be there with you!… Of *course* it isn’t only physical!… I deeply respect you as a human being… Some day I’m gonna make you *Mrs* Buck Turgidson!… Oh, listen uh, you go back to sleep hon, and Bucky’ll be back there just as soon as he can… All right… listen, sug, don’t forget to say your prayers!
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: [trying to pay for his phone call] Just one second, operator.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: They won’t accept the call. Have you got 55 cents?
Colonel “Bat” Guano: What, you don’t think I’d go into combat with loose change in my pocket, do you?
Ambassador de Sadesky: No, sir! It is not a thing a sane man would do. The doomsday machine is designed to to trigger itself automatically
President Merkin Muffley: But surely you can disarm it somehow
Ambassador de Sadesky: No, it is designed to explode if any attempt is ever made to untrigger it
General “Buck” Turgidson: It’s an obvious Commie trick, Mr. President. We are wasting valuable time! Look at the big board, they’re getting ready to clobber us!
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel! Colonel, I must know what you think has been going on here!
Colonel “Bat” Guano: You wanna know what I think?
Colonel “Bat” Guano: I think you’re some kind of deviated prevert. I think General Ripper found out about your preversion, and that you were organizing some kind of mutiny of preverts. Now MOVE!
[discussing the Doomsday machine]
President Merkin Muffley: How is it possible for this thing to be triggered automatically and at the same time impossible to untrigger?
Dr. Strangelove: Mr. President, it is not only possible, it is essential. That is the whole idea of this machine, you know. Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the FEAR to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision-making process which rules out human meddling, the Doomsday machine is terrifying and simple to understand… and completely credible and convincing.
General Jack D. Ripper: The base is being put on Condition Red. I want this flashed to all sections immediately.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Condition Red, sir, yes, jolly good idea. That keeps the men on their toes.
General Jack D. Ripper: Group Captain, I’m afraid this is not an exercise.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Not an exercise, sir?
General Jack D. Ripper: I shouldn’t tell you this, Mandrake, but you’re a good officer and you’ve a right to know. It looks like we’re in a shooting war.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, hell. Are the Russians involved, sir?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: If you don’t put that gun away and stop this stupid nonsense, the court of Enquiry on this’ll give you such a pranging, you’ll be lucky if you end up wearing the uniform of a bloody toilet attendant.
Narrator: For more than a year, ominous rumors had been privately circulating among high-level Western leaders that the Soviet Union had been at work on what was darkly hinted to be the ultimate weapon: a doomsday device. Intelligence sources traced the site of the top secret Russian project to the perpetually fog-shrouded wasteland below the Arctic peaks of the Zhokhov Islands. What they were building or why it should be located in such a remote and desolate place no one could say.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Is it that bad, sir?
General Jack D. Ripper: Looks like it’s pretty hairy.
Ever since it became clear that Rodrigo Duterte was likely to win the Presidency in the PHilippines, I’ve been having a two track reactions. One one track, I’m excited to see someone who is definitely not “more of the same” take the reins in the rambunctious Philippines, and hopeful that intractable problems may actually seem less intractable with a forceful, dynamic leader at the helm. But on the other track is concern that democratic freedoms are about to be seriously eroded, or worse.
So I read the following with a certain sigh of relief:
“Maybe, when I sit as president, I will be asking, but I am not going to prosecute,” Duterte said. “I am not up to it, actually, going after political enemies,” he added.
The tough-talking mayor said that if the public wants to know about any transactions in government, he will order transparency. Duterte also assured the media that he can receive criticisms and won’t go after them. “Wala naman akong ginagawa sa kanila e so bakit sila magreklamo sa akin,” Duterte said when praised for handling the Mindanao media, which Soho raised as an example.
Very glad to hear this.
I have to confess, I’m struggling to figure out how I feel about the new President Elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte. Western Media is calling him the “Trump of Asia” but that comparison only applies to his outspoken and sometimes outrageous statements. But the similarites end there. Duterte is a lawyer, a prosecutor, and for 23 years has served as the mayor of Davao, a tough town in the toughest part of a tough country. In terms of personal style — there is no comparison. Trump lives in billionaire splendor — and Duterte by all accounts lives humbly; Trump is brash and crude–while Duterte is that too — but increasingly I’m beginning to believe he’s also tough and shrewd. I worry whether he may have the capacity to to destroy Philippine democracy — yet I thrill at the thought he might finally give the long-suffering non-elite regular people of the Philippines the leader they deserve.
In short, I’m confused.
I decided to start maintaining what amounts to a file of interesting things that I come across regarding Duterte. This is the first installment of that file. It will include anything I find interesting — good, bad, neutral. I’m just going to shake the tree and see what falls out.
Communist Party of the Philippines Founder Joma Sison Was His Mentor
Anyone who was around in the 70’s and 80’s knows that Jose Mari Sison founded the Communist Party of the Philippines –and before that, Sison was a professor at Lyceum in Manila where one of his students in the lates sixties was Rodrigo Duterte. Sison now lives in exile in Utrecht in the Netherlands. He gave an interview to Khaleej Times in which has a message for foreign journalists which was this: You’re off base with the Trump comparisons, and what you may well have with Duterte is not the Trump of Asia — it could be the Hugo Chavez of Asia. Sison said:
“As a student, he was modest and laid back but he learned much. I am very proud to have a part in his political moulding against imperialism and the local oligarchs. . . . I hope that he will actually serve the Filipino people in their fight for national liberation, democracy, social justice, development. . . . . (Duterte) was my student in Political Thought at the Lyceum of the Philippines in the late 1960s. He became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (patriotic Filipino youth group) . . . . Duterte became a landslide winner because he responded to the people’s clamour for change and became their voice to protest against the Aquino regime, its corruption and criminality, especially the widespread drug trade.
He has put the word out: Simple Vehicles for Cabinet Members, No Fancy Cars
PDI is reporting that Bong Go, Duterte’s executive assistant, said the presidential race front-runner scoffs at luxurious vehicles. He said Duterte uses a pickup, while his staff only have AUVs. “Si Mayor talaga, since first term, hindi talaga pumapayag sa luxurious vehicles,” (The may really, since his first term, did not permit luxurious vehicles.”) Go said. He is certain that Duterte will continue in this style and require his cabinet members to follow suit.
Duterte Wept When Visiting His Mother’s Grave After His Election
Human Rights Watch Calls Him the Death Squad Mayor
Here’s what HRW has to say:
According to the New York Times:
Luzviminda Ilagan, a congressional representative for Gabriela, one of the most active women’s rights groups in the country, would seem a natural enemy of a man who boasts of being a womanizer and has joked about wanting to rape a missionary. But Ms. Ilagan, who was once a city counselor in Davao City, has a more nuanced view of Mr. Duterte.
“His colorful language can be disconcerting,” she said. “But his actions can be contradictory to his statements. He might appear to be insensitive to women, but during his time as mayor he supported policies on behalf of women and programs for children.”
Under Mr. Duterte, Davao City developed a “gender and development code” that tried to equalize opportunities for women in government. The program has won multiple awards and has been cited by the national government as an example for other cities. Mr. Duterte also helped set up a crisis center for female victims of violence.
The same NY Times article quotes Jess Saplala and Benny Gopes, Davao businessmen who have known Duterte for more than a decade.
“His jokes are his connection to the common man,” Mr. Gopez said. “He knows what he is doing. He is a lawyer. He graduated from one of the top law schools. He passed the bar. He is a very intelligent fellow.”
Mr. Saplala, who became friends with Mr. Duterte after hearing him sing those Sinatra songs years ago, said many of the mayor’s most contentious statements came from an opinion of criminals he developed while working as a prosecutor in Davao, one of the most violent cities in the country at the time.
“He will never humiliate people,” Mr. Saplala said. “He is softhearted.”
He added: “But he changes when he starts talking about criminals. He gets very hard. He has a deep personal hatred for criminals.”
Duterte to Visit Pope, Apologize for “Putang Ina” Comment
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit the Vatican to make a personal apology to the pope for calling him a “son of a whore”, the politician’s spokesman said on Thursday. “The mayor repeatedly said he wants to visit the Vatican, win or lose, not only to pay homage to the pope but he really needs to explain to the pope and ask for forgiveness,” Peter Lavina told reporters in the southern city of Davao.
He Does Appear to Have Plan
And here it is:
CRIMES & DRUGS
-Suppress drugs & crimes within 3 to 6 months.
-Increase police salaries to P75,000 to P100,000 within 3 years.
-Installations of CCTV in all thoroughfares.
-Revival of the Special Courts to serious crime.
-Unite the country by healing of deeply-ingrained differences and shifting to Federal forms of government.
-Passage of the “Freedom of Information Act” and “Anti-Dummy Law”
-Lifting of the Bank Secrecy Law
-CCTV in all government offices
-Industrialize and build factories
-Build a Philippine Steel Mill
-Build a “business Island” with ideal business atmosphere for foreign investors
-Limit 5 signatures for business permits (30 to 60 days)
-Maintain “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” or 4Ps
-1 Billion “Small Capital Fund” outside Metro Manila
-Establish tourism, agricultural, and industrial hubs to create jobs in countryside.
-Lower Cost of Food
-Get rid of middle man loan sharks
-Build food terminals with advanced facilities in their provinces.
-Build Mindanao railway system
-Free irrigation and subsidized fertilizers and seeds for farmers.
-Ban mining firms with records of exploitation
-Study renewable energy
OFW and WORKERS
-Improve labor conditions for Filipino workers
-No income tax for workers with P20,000 and below.
-No more contractualization.
-Gradual increase of salary for all other jobs/workers
-Back for OFW remittance
-Bring home OFWs in case of abuse.
-Tracking for protection of Filipinos abroad
EDUCATION and HEALTH
-Double the salary of teachers
-Build adequate classrooms and double the shifts
-Teach values and Filipino Pride
-Require all hospitals to treat very poor patients using government programs like Phil Health reserved funds and Department of Health budget
-Add more carriages to train lines
-Build fast lane linking airports and seaports to Metro Manila
-Decongest Metro Manila
-Develop Clark Airport and Batangas Seaport to ease traffic congestion
-Pursue arbitration case
DISASTER & CLIMATE CHANGE
That’s enough for this installment.
More to come.
At latest count 24 states, including one with a democratic governor, have declared they will not host Syrian refugees. Why? Because one of the terrorists who attacked this past weekend in Paris apparently posed as a Syrian refugee. Am I the only one who just feels sickened at the lack of compassion and lack of spine that this movement betrays? Is this really who America has become?
At most, there would be 10,000 and each and every one of them would be vetted thoroughly by Homeland Security, as has been the case with the two thousand or so that are already here. Most are families with children who have suffered immesurably as a result of the Syrian conflict — a conflict that is destroying these people’s lives. So there is next to zero REAL THREAT.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday, “Defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. Governors who reject those fleeing war and persecution abandon our ideals and instead project our fears to the world.”
But here we are: blind, foolish, cowering, cringing, cowardly fear.
In Paris, what are they doing? They’re gong back to where it happened and defiantly sitting in outdoor cafes, and going about their business.
Meanwhile our states are closing their borders to the people who need America most.
I am saddened, disappointed, and if this doesn’t turn around, I will be ashamed. This fearful, xenophobic, spineless America is not the country I love and which I served. I can’t help but feel that the meanspirited and xenophobic debate that has been central to the Presidential campaign is partly to blame for this. But only partly. A contributing factor.
Let’s do a checklist.
Xenophobia. Oh yeah.
I’m pretty sure somebody here or on FB will come at me and blame it on Obama. Give me a break. Even if you blame Obama for the Paris attacks, which is ridiculous but some one will do it — you can’t possibly, conceivably blame him for the mentality that led 24 governors (maybe more now) to do this.
America’s Finest Hour?
Yeah, right. Speak up, people. Don’t let this define us.
And by the way — by doing this, we are telling ISIS: You know what, you’re right. We are exactly who you think we are.
And this is NOT a partisan issue. Witness the fact that although most of the governors are Republican, some are Democrats — and listen to what Shep Smith, a conservative commentator on Fox News, just wrote about this.
“Our shining city on a hill is vulnerable. We’ve always known that. If we change it to accommodate the savages, have they won? And what then would be left to protect? We profess to stand as an example for all the world. Our unique experiment in freedom, tolerance, openness, and equality is our gift to societies and peoples everywhere. Come, join us. Enjoy a chance at the American dream. Today, we mourn, but we cannot allow ourselves to become like those who want to destroy us. We cannot resort to the tactics of the barbarians. We must fight for what we believe in and who we are, guard our freedoms faithfully for the generations to follow. And we must not let the rhetoric of potential and political extremists among us lead us to self-destruction. When there’s panic, we show resolve. When there’s calm for extremism, we resist. We are America. We must lead.”
The headline in the Philippine Daily Inquirer read: ‘Yaya Dub’ misguided in support for ‘lumad,’ says military exec. The article then goes on to quote Brigadier General Joey Kakilala, who is the commander of the Civil Relations Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as saying of Mendoza and others: “‘Yung social media support naman. Hindi alam nina Aiza Seguerra, Maine Mendoza, hindi nila alam ‘yung real story. Kung malaman siguro they would have reservations,” said Kakilala, who is a commander of the Civil Relations Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
So what is the “real story”?
General Kakilala did not offer any explanation — nor did the Inquirer author press him for any specifics.
As most anyone knows who’s been following the story of the Lumads, the AFP’s so-called “real story” is basically a time warped rendering of early 1980’s martial law mentality projected forward into 2015, where those who oppose the AFP and strive for social justice are labeled communist sympathizers if not actual communists. But that was 35 years ago. Today, really, that’s the line? Meanwhile — this is more than a struggle for control of ancestral lands. Last Sept. 1, Emerito Samarca, the director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo were killed by suspected paramilitary groups in Sitio Han-ayan in Lianga, Surigao Del Sur. Samarca was found dead in a classroom, hogtied, stabbed and with his throat slit . Social media sentiment exploded when photos of the killing in a lumad school circulated online.
Meanwhile Maine Mendoza, who is a smart young woman, and others including, as the general notes, Aiza Seguerra but also none other than Wally Bayola, Maine’s stablemate on Eat Bulaga, are standing with the Lumads, and no, they are not “misguided” or “misled”. They get it. A protest on twitter using the hashtag #LumadDinAko has sprung up; Maine Mendoza’s brother in law is leading support from AlDub Nation; and updates flow at @aldubforlumad on twitter.
Most compelling of all is a letter written by Lisa Dino-Seguerra and published on Facebook.
Dear Brigadier General Joey Kakilala,
How funny for you to easily accuse my husband of being misled in our stand against the oppression of our LUMAD brothers and sisters without supporting it with any reason. You say “…hindi nila alam ‘yung real story. Kung malaman siguro they would have reservations”. You were given the floor in the article to tell us the real story and yet you did not disclose your side.
You say that the Manilakbayan LUMADS are appealing to our emotions…
Oh yes they are…and we are moved. Try going to Liwasang Bonifacio and you will see the ALCADEV students who are raring to go back to their schools and study again; the tribal leaders who feel so powerless because they can no longer look after their own people;the fathers who cannot go back to their farms and feed their families;the mothers who had to leave their children in the evacuation centres, travel to Manila with heavy hearts in the hope that they can go back there with ANSWERS.
In fact, they, too, were trying to appeal to YOUR emotions sir.
For the longest time, the Lumads have remained in their communities hoping that if you see how peacefully they live, your military troops will leave them alone. They opened their homes to you,fed you, because they believed all of you when you said the military will protect them. They did not need your presence, they were ok on their own, but your men insisted, so they relented.
But what did your MEN do?
Your military men used the schools as camping grounds, disrupted classes, harassed the teachers, interrogated the students and forced them to admit that their parents are Rebels. I talked to these students and they are all afraid of you.You even accused ALCADEV as being used as a front to indoctrinate lumad children with the communist ideology of the NPA. Wow. Wasn’t it just a year ago that the school received a National Literacy Award from DepEd? Now, more than 80 schools are under attack and depriving these children with the opportunity to learn. Oh, and sir, just yesterday, a teachers’ cottage of ALCADEV was torched down along with books, school supplies, a sewing machine, rice stocks, the school generator, audio-visual equipment and other materials. Yeah, talk about being misled.
Oh sir, don’t even get me started on the killings. Last night, I met Ate Yosie, wife of tatay Emok, the executive director of ALCADEV who was hogtied, stabbed and his throat slit in the room of the school by your Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group. The military has been openly accusing the school of poisoning the minds of the lumads and double as “training” centers for rebel recruits. Regardless if this is true or not, does this give you all the right to KILL him? I cannot imagine the pain she is going through right now as well as the students of ALCADEV who are grieving because of the loss of their mentor. And what about Michelle Campos? Daughter of Dionel Campos, a Manobo leader who was shot in the head in broad daylight in front of the whole community by your people.I talked to Michelle personally as well the residents of the community and they told me the story of how your men kicked the doors of their houses and forced all of them to gather together by the basketball court to witness the execution of Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo. Your men told all the residents to stop supporting the NPA or else they will all suffer the same fate. You, the supposedly protectors of our FREEDOM!!! I must admit though sir Brigadier General, it was quite genius of you to choose a paramilitary group composed of lumads who no longer live in their communities to kill their own kin. In that way, you can wash your hands and claim it as “tribal war”. For a moment, we were a bit “misled”. Tsk tsk tsk. Almost but not quite.
In short, contrary to what you want to spread in the media na pati kami ngayon ay MANGMANG—- “misled”, “misguided” ,ginagamit at nabubuyo….I tell you this.
WE STAND WITH THE LUMADS.
WE stand with the 700 of them right now who travelled for days to get to Manila to air out their sentiments as well the more than 3,000 others who were forced to evacuate their homes because of military operations. These people have first hand experience of all the atrocities done by your military men and their paramilitary counterparts. Marami sa mga Ata Monobong nakausap namin ay lider ng kani-kanilang organisasyon. Hindi man nakakapagtagalog ang iba, pero hindi na sila mangmang sa mga nangyayaring kaguluhan. Alam nila ang kaibahan ng rebelde sa militar.They have been empowered by the people na naniniwala sa pinaglalaban nila at sa mga paaralang nagsisilbing liwanag para magkaroon sila ng kaalaman. Now they are being robbed off of that opportunity. So please, dont tell us that we are misled and misguided. HINDI KAMI MANGMANG. We believe in their cause. We empathize with their plight…kaisa kami sa pakikipaglaban nila sa kanilang karapatan at naniniwala kami sa kanila. Ang gusto nila ay katahimikan at kapayapaan at bumalik sa kanilang lupang tinubuan.
So ask you now sir….WHAT IS THE REAL STORY?What is your story?
For a serious look at the Lumad situation, I recommend Inday Espina-Varona’s excellent in-depth blog post.
I intend to look more deeply into this, and will have more to say about it in coming days and weeks. I believe that engagement in matters such as this by #AlDub Nation and the #AlDub team represent a very positive manifestation of what I would call the “Spirit of AlDub” — and I hope that efforts to shine a light on this issue will continue.
On the eve of the second anniversary of super typhoon Haiyan’s devastation of the central Philippines, thousands of survivors walked along a highway in Tacloban City from Leyte and Samar provinces. Many carried placards protesting the pace of reconstruction efforts.
“It will be the second year anniversary of Yolanda (Haiyan), but many of them have not yet been given permanent housing. We think the government has been spending heavily on this project, but the housing and basic services that they should have given these folks after Yolanda have not yet been built or provided,” said Alicia Murphy of Urban Poor Associates, an NGO which advocates for the survivors’ right to adequate care and housing.
A year after Yolanda’s devastation, President Benigno Aquino III approved a $3.74 billion six-year master plan to rebuild housing, social services, and public infrastructure. Per figures of the National Housing Authority, 205,000 new houses are needed to accommodate the families in Leyte alone (never mind Samar) that have been displaced by Yolanda. Yet to date, only 17,000 units have been completed by the government. Budget officials said that an additional $700 million is needed for the other 103,000 housing units.
Struck by the slow pace of rehousing, United Nations special rapporteur Chaloka Beyani said after a visit in July that he was concerned about financial constraints on finding durable solutions and providing basic services for survivors.
How cool is this? Thanks to Bing Credo for posting this video of the last 2 mins of the game between Philippines and China in the FIBA Asia U16 tournament. Phils. down by 5. Credo drives and dishes off to Pagsanjan at the 3pt area… Boom! Phils. now just down by 1. Stopped China on their offensive… Phils. on the attack! Belangel passes to Credo at the 3pt area… BOOM! Phils now up by 1… Phils again stops China’s offensive by Tibayan’s tap and eventual steal by Mamuyac… Mamuyac rushes down to drive to the basket and dishes off to Tibayan to finish the layup… Again Phils. stops China’s offensive… Credo deffensively rebounds the ball and off to Belangel… to Mamuyac to Tibayan and back to Belangel then a foul on Belangel. Inbound to Credo, dribbles the ball, pass to Belangel. Credo provides screen for Belangel to shoot eh 3pts to seal the deal… and the rest was HISTORY! 🙂
Remember the imbroglio two years ago during the immediate aftermath of Haiyan/Yolanda, when Korina Sanchez called out Anderson Cooper of CNN, claiming his reporting was biased and disrespectful? The hero of that moment was Geraldine Uy Wong, who was in Tacloban, saw what was happening, and wrote a passionate post on Facebook, addressing it to Anderson Cooper and confirming that what he was reporting was accurate. See this link to refresh your memory. Geraldine’s example of heartfelt citizen journalism was one of the most important moments of the immediate aftermath of the typhoon that decimated the central Philppines — especially Leyte and our home province of Samar.
[[Don’t forget to share on Facebook and forward this post to Anderson Cooper on Twitter at @andersoncooper and @AC360.]]
I’ve gotten to know Geraldine and I am absolutely certain that she is not someone who in any way sought attention or celebrity status — but she had the heart and spirit to speak out. Since then, she has continued to be a voice for sanity, compassion, and resilience — and now, with the two year anniversary of Haiyan (Yolanda) upon us, she has drafted a compelling message to Anderson Cooper and published it on her facebook page. So now the next step is — how to make sure Anderson Cooper sees it. I and others are going to work on that. But everyone can help by sharing it. It’s picking up views and shares on facebook, and as I write today, updating the post about twelve hours after I put it up, it’s approaching 1000 shares here as well. Please get the word out.
One additional thought: As I see it, the value of Anderson Cooper coming to the Philippines has nothing to do with him being an American. The value is that he’s a journalist who, if you don’t know, played a key role in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated that city and exposed the inadequacies of the government’s response. He went there during the storm, and he went back — “keeping them honest” as he says. The going back part was really important — as it would be important in the Philippines after Yolanda. It’s a human story, and a human tragedy — and it’s still going on. His vlaue is that he is a credible, compassionate journalist who if he comes will shine an unblinking light on a situation, speak truth to power, just as Geraldine has done, and help raise global awareness that two years on, the situation has not been resolved and people are still suffering.
First of all — here is the first part of the text of Geraldine’s message:
Dear Anderson Cooper:
It’s been 2 years so I wanted to say hello. Of course, you know this is more than just that. But this time, I will TRY to be brief and sweet. Please come back and visit us. There is no better time than now. First of all, APEC will be held here in the Philippines – CNN and everyone will be here to cover. I’m sure you have the clout to ask your bosses to send you over to rub shoulders with Obama, Putin, and our very own PNoy. And while you’re here you might want to take a side trip to visit Tacloban. You said so yourself, remember? You promised those people back then that you will come back one day and check on them. I have gone back to Tacloban myself since that time. Glad to report that thay have their smiles back on now, only because they are one of the most resilient people in the world, right? Sad to tell you though, that most of them still live in crappy bunk houses and transitional shelters. Those that were able to move into real honest-to-goodness decent housing were sponsored by the UN, NGO’s, religious groups, and private citizen donors. As I write this, only 572 permanent houses have been built by our beloved government out of the 14,000 that they promised. Where did all the international donations go? The ones whose figures ran to unending zeroes in dollar currency that we ordinary citizens could not even calculate, read, nor fathom how global humanity could have poured such expressions of love and sympathy to us? We don’t know, you tell us Anderson. We have come to the point of exhaustion when it comes to asking and finding out the truth. Finding out and exposing the truth – CNN and Anderson Cooper ace those skills so you are practically our only hope for now. Last time you spoke on our behalf, the whole world listened, our government chafed in embarrassment, Korina Sanchez bristled, and even I had to reach out to you to say my piece. Just look at it this way, if you come back and do your thing, you will be completing a big part of the jigsaw puzzle of your life, knowing that you have fulfilled a destiny that the universe has assigned to you. There – I just had to get that off my chest.
So now I come to the part why I really had to write you. Again. You see lately, we have been getting screwed up by a bunch of aliens assigned at the international airport here in Manila. I’m not sure if you have ever passed by our airport because the last time, you might have flown in and out through CNN’s private aircraft and landed straight in Tacloban. But yes, we are having those extra-terrestrial invasion problems right now. It is a festering source of national irritation that has smoldered in our hearts for the past weeks now and it is threatening to implode right in our faces. Travelers coming in and out of the country have been caught with bullets inside their luggage or hand-carried bags. Just one bullet – no gun. Every person who got caught has had to undergo the harrowing experience of being escorted to a room, interrogated by a bunch of master aliens, and having to decide which of the 2 options – succumbing to extortion or missing their flights and being detained – would be the lesser of the two evils. A greater majority would shell out money in quiet indignation just so as not to mess up their travel plans and their entire lives altogether. After all, this is small money compared to the hassle of hiring a lawyer, appearing in court, languishing in jail, etc. – you know how it works. I don’t blame them; I know I would do the same thing and just blast away at them on my facebook wall later on. But the others who ‘didn’t know any better’, those that either refused to pay up, or were too naive to think that arguing to defend their innocence will put them in good stead – they are now detained and facing a case. The saddest part here is that most of the victims are the Filipino OFW’s, translated as Overseas Filipino Workers, the members of the Filipino diaspora who are spread out all over the world in tens of millions as we speak. They leave the country and go out to work and slave away literally with their blood, sweat, and tears, and send money back home to their families. I have spoken with a lot of them in my travels, and their stories are so heart-wrenching both in terms of the courage they bear and the sheer magnitude of the sacrifice that they do. It makes my blood boil just to even write this. Makes me want to ask the syndicate – why don’t you take on me instead? So I can call on my friends both on the left and on the right, hah! One of those currently detained for the past two weeks and counting is Nanay Gloria, Nanay being the respectful term for an elderly woman, meaning ‘Mother’. She is a Filipina domestic worker who has been working as an OFW for the past 30 years now, the past 13 years of which she has served as a domestic helper for a family in Hong Kong. She came home for a vacation and on her way back to this same employer, was victimized by this syndicate, and since then has been the poster girl for this evil twist of fate that has befallen our country. And it is not enough that these aliens, oh for God’s sakes, let’s just call them Filipino airport personnel, just victimize our own people – after all, we Filipinos have somehow mastered the art of taking up our own. But they have had the audacity to victimize even the tourists and foreign travelers too! You have one of your own on record here, an American missionary at that! This is going to hurt like hell for our tourism, our economy, and God knows what else.
So please come back Anderson, I beg of you.
And here is the link to the rest of it on Facebook. As long as you’re logged in to FB — you can read it all there.
Now the next issue — how to get this to Anderson Cooper’s actual attention.
Working on it.
Don’t forget to share on Facebook and forward this post to Anderson Cooper on Twitter at @andersoncooper and @AC360.
For me there was never any doubt — Maine Mendoza fascinated me as a self-made internet star whose dubsmash genius includes not only what she does in front of the camera — but what she does with the camera as well. I was fascinated by all the characters; by her fearless willingness to present herself in a non-sexy, non-attractive way — something you don’t often see in someone who has beauty-queen good looks to begin with. I am intrigued by the intelligence she displays in putting together the dubsmash pieces.
That’s not to say I’m not also intrigued by what and the Eat Bulaga brain trust have done with Yaya Dub.
But enough about what I think. Google Philippines has tweeted out some stats that show that AlDub Nation is, like me, more intrigued with Maine Mendoza than Yaya Dub … or at least there are more searches for Maine than Yaya…..check it out:
— Google Philippines (@GooglePH) October 29, 2015
As is not unusual, I’m the last one to the party. I don’t follow the Binibining Pilipinas situation all that closely …. In fact, other than “Major Major”, I’m not sure I’ve ever notice or been aware of anything any contestants said. But today I’ve been genuinely moved by a speech by any of the Binibining Filipinas winners–Janicel Lubino, Bb. Filipinas International, who gave her speech in the competition in Japan a few hours ago and she has caught my full attention with her heartfelt sincerity. Here is here speech — check it out.
Here wikipedia page says “From her beginnings as a kasambahay (lit. housemaid) alongside with her mother, Lubina was spotted by a make-up artist who later became her handler to join beauty pageants.”
Here she is being interviewed by Boy Abunda….she’s from Palawan.
And here’s a good story from PhilStar: Janical Lubina, a Cinderella Story
Dear Secretary of Transportation Joseph Abaya
I am taking this opportunity to reach out to you because as someone married to a Filipina who travels back and forth to Manila frequently, I am truly concerned by what seems to be your failure to grasp the dynamics of what is going on in the minds of the traveling public with regard to the laglag bala scandal Based on the many reports emanating from your press conference, your core positon seems to be that the whole matter has been blown out of proportion as less than .004% of passengers have been caught with ammunition in their bags, so walang actual problema. You cited the annual figures for the past four years: 1,394 cases so far in 2015; 1,813 in 2014; 2,184 in 2013; 1,214 cases in 2012. Your point, apparently, was that there has not been a radical increase so the the surge in reporting on this is not warranted. You also broke down the cases since September 15, showing that some passengers acknowledged owning the bullets; some carried them as anting-anting amulets; and some carried them as souvenirs from firing ranges. Only two, you said, were suspect laglag bala. Your bottom line: ” We cannot simply demonize the people to whom we entrust our safety,”
It is difficult to read your comments without concluding that you and the government you represent fail to grasp that this has become an international media story that is instilling widespread fear; is costing the Philippines much needed tourism revenue; it is hurting NAIA porters who are losing half their income; and is inflicting real damage on the aready battered reputation of the Philippines as a crime-ridden destination. It is doing all this first because such scams exist and are being reported in the global media; and second because the scam is seemingly allowed to exist by a government who is not only insensitive, but enables the scam by prosecuting victims of the scam even when common sense says they are no threat to anyone. The international media is starting to get hold of the story — (Greta Van Susteren on Fox News just did a story on it as I’m writing this) and the image of the Philippines as a lawless environment with disinterested government leadership is being promulgated. It’s so damaging — and unnecessarily so if you would just deal with it forthrightly.
It seems that you and your colleagues simply don’t grasp or don’t care to grasp the deeper meaning of the problem, which is the deep sense of helplessness and pervasive fear that a scam like this, if allowed to continue, creates in travelers. I’m reminded of the 80s’ when the infamous Wakaoji kidnapping sent the entire Japanese expat community into a panic and decimated Japanese travel to the Philppines, costing millions of dollars and damaging the country’s reputation internationally. To follow the analogy — your presentation today was as if back then, a Philippine government official had stood up and said to Japan — you are blowing this out of proportion. Only .004% of foreigners in the Philppines have been kidnapped. Just as that statistic, while true, would not have helped back then — it doesn’t help now either. Even one kidnapping is too many; and even one traveler being extorted is too many. Worse — and this is the really, really bad part — if the victim refuses to be extorted, the government seems intent on letting the victim go to prison. There seems to be no sense of duty to protect the travelers from these predators — or to sort out real criminals from victims of a scam. The point is that people trust the government to protect them and the government in its official utterances needs to convey that they understand this.
Respectfully — if you had said what needs to be said, after your presser we would be reading headlines like: “Philippine officials vow to protect travelers; will ramp up efforts againt laglag bala.” Or: “Multi-level strategy vs. laglag bala proposed” Instead — the dominant takeaway from the presscon is that the government blames the media for blowing it out of proportion.
What the public needs to hear is something along these lines:
- Genuine commitment by the government to work on shutting down the laglag bala scheme.
- Commitment by the government to look at each case in its totality and not prosecute unless there is compelling reason to believe there was an actual intended threat. This is the “common sense” part of it. Such a commitment would in itself act as a disincentive to those carrying out laglag bala.
- Commitment by the administration to seek legal reforms that further diminish the likelihood that laglag bala can be successfully employed.
This is offered respectfully and in the hope that it might be read by someone who can have an impact on the situation before even greater damage is done.
I just came across a blog post entitled “Why Men Go Gaga Over Maine Mendoza”from a blogger who goes by Vilo Velky in a blog called The Omelette Station. Now I’m obviously not the first to discover this post — there are 180 comments there from various #AlDub fans, so that gives you an idea. There are some good thoughts in the post. I’m going to highlight two of them, then provide a link.
Let’s start with this:
It was when she became Yaya Dub that we immediately sensed the raw honesty of Maine’s personality in the character. Her real emotions shined through. She is not there for the financial benefits of fame but for the realization of an ultimate dream. Her expressions are very revealing- the first time she saw Alden was looking, her eyes sparkled and grew big, she dropped her guard down and revealed the sweetest smile, the purest face a thousand ships would launch for. A few times her jaw dropped and she fell into a convulsive, very animated excitement. When she got the flowers and chocolate the first time, when she was handed the teddy bear and when she saw Alden kiss her standee, she was unable to hold back her thrill! She can’t get as real as that.
Just to refresh memories (not needed, I know) … here is that segment.
And about Alden:
And we want him to feel the way we feel, to champion the standards and principles of how real men fall in love- anything less and he becomes the bad guy… We become very protective….It is not as much as trying to win her heart from somebody else, but trying to make her feel that if that guy is not that into you, we are here. We get filled with so much emotions that we feel like the knights of old, willing to become violent to protect our one true love! But as soon as we realize that Alden is beginning to show real interest, we back off and cannot but feel happy for Maine. We get back into enjoying the show, confident and very proud that our representative is willing to do everything to get the girl of his dreams, embodying our ideals and intentions the way we expect him to.
There’s more, and it’s worth reading the whole post. Thanks for the good thoughts!
Filipino Muslims are up in arms over Muslim garb worn by Joey De Leon and Tito Sotto in Eat Bulaga’s Halloween broadcast. The two hosts wore a thawb, an ankle-length garment with long sleeves usually worn by Muslims. The local government of the Autonomous Region in Muslm Mindanao (ARMM) took offense to the costumes. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said that the costumes “equated the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, in the way that zombies and ghouls are to be feared.” Hataman demanded that Eat Bulaga issue an apology. “This display betrays an insensitivity by these hosts, as they equated the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, in the way that zombies and ghouls are to be feared,” Hataman said in the statement.
“What Eat Bulaga did in its Halloween Special was a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim, apparently in the name of entertainment.”
“On behalf of the Filipino Moro people, we demand that producers and hosts of the noontime show issue a public apology,” Hataman said.
I have three thoughts.
First, it’s definitely insensitive and inappropriate and at a minimum Eat Bulaga should apologize.
Second, Governor Hataman exaggerates when he says that this equates Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, the way zombies and ghouls are to be feared. Governor Hataman seems to be unaware that while some Halloweed costumes are ghoulish — plenty of others are not. People dress up for Halloween as Superheroes, doctors, policemen, sports figures, movie stars, pirates, ninja turtles, and a near infiniite list of other characters that are not ghoulish or fearsome. So while it was inappropriate and deserving of criticism — it is not fair to say it turns the costume into something fearsome. The manner in which Tito and Joey posed in the costume also reinforces this fact — it is not depicted as fearsome. To interpret it that way is to overthink it. Here are samples — just google “superhero Halloween costumes” or “doctor halloween costumes” and you’ll see hundreds of these. Not all Halloween costumes are fearsome.
Third — I think Eat Bulaga should consider going beyond a simple apology. I think they should channel some of the creativity and values-oriented writing that has gone into AlDub, into this situation, and come up with a way to turn this into more of a “teachable moment” — in the process displaying and encouraging Filipino values of respect and tolerance. I’m not sure exactly what this would be — and the writers and producers would have to be very careful to not misfire and just make matters worse. But some gesture is needed. One possibility would be to send a delegation from the show to Mindanao to meet respectfully with the Governor and deliver the apology while in the process filming a segment for the show that promotes awareness of Philippine Muslim issues and traditions. How about send the AlDub tandem (with Lola Nidora chaperoning, of course) on the mission?
Think it through, EB Producers and writers. Turn this into something positive. You can do it if you try.
In one of the better intentational articles about the #AlDub phenomenon in the Philippines, the Singapore Straits Times headlines “Old Style Love Story has Modern Philippines in a Tizzy.” . The high point of the article includes some excellent observations:
Sociologists and marketers are now poring over this pop culture phenomenon to find out what makes it tick.
Experts say AlDub has been a huge success because it resonates with Filipinos pining for a return to old-fashioned values as a counter-balance to the crass culture that has become pervasive online.
The loose plot is based on the now anachronistic Filipino tradition of “pamanhikan” – a long, supervised courtship – and all the virtues that go with it: Respect for elders, loyalty, fidelity and a well-earned reward for hard work.
Beyond the storyline, the two lead stars appeal to millions because they come off as believable bearers of the values their show represents, unlike many other celebrities, who are regarded as caricatures of excess and superficiality.
“They are redefining what it means to be a celebrity: Not snobbish, but kinder, more approachable, more sincere, and morally upright citizens,” said TV writer Elmer Gatchalian.
I think “believable bearers of the values the show represents” is right on target. There is a confluence of the show’s values and what Maine and Alden seem to actually be. The fact that Maine rose up through social media outside the Philippine star machine adds to that impression. And Wally Bayola’s Lola Nidora is the perfect foil and driving force for it.
The more I think about it, the more I think that Wally and Lola Nidora may be the key to keeping this phenomenon on track. I wonder how much of what Lola Nidora does is coming from Wally, and how much from the Eat Bulaga writers? In other words, who is truly the author of Lola Nidora? My impression is that the writers provide an outline, suggestions, major plot points, but Wally adlibs a lot of it. We’ll see. Meantime — congrats on more international recognition.
Jerrold Tarog’s epic historical film Heneral Luna, which will represent the Philippines in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film Category, has been reviewed in the New York Times by Ken Jaworski. The review is mixed but ultimately favorable. Here it is:
I’m only a little embarrassed at liking “Heneral Luna,” an audaciously manipulative movie that’s more involving than it should be. But really, when a film works this hard to rouse you, there’s no shame in just giving in.
A patriotic biopic that veers toward propaganda, “Heneral Luna” is about Antonio Luna, who in the late 1800s led the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War. Early in the story he’s given command of the military. (“General Luna, it’s up to you now. This war is in your hands.”) Cue the sweeping orchestral music.
Battles are waged, speeches are made and foreign enemies soon become the least of Luna’s problems: Bureaucrats, cowards and other homegrown spoilsports continually try to sabotage his unconventional plans. “General Luna, you may be a military genius, but you do not understand politics,” one of those skeptics whines.
And here’s the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_T1ykhy3Fg
I haven’t seen the film yet — but I’m thrilled that someone backed and produced such a movie — and that it appears to have been a box office success. I truly hope this encourages more well-made historical movies in the Philippines. Luna is a great subject for such a movie. Back in the 90s when I was making movies in the Philippines, I considered trying to develop a film about him but decided not to because the material felt too dark. Jerrold Tarog is right to pin the movie to the statement: “Brothers, we have an enemy bigger than the Americans — ourselves” as that concept is embedded in Luna’s story, particularly considering the way he died. But … it resonates from Filipino to Filipino — coming from an American filmmaker it doesn’t feel right
The latest international media outlet to pick up the story the Philippine #AlDub phenomenon is Bloomberg News. As international coverage goes, this is NOT the most exciting coverage I’ve seen. (That would be an understatement.) But the mere fact of its existence is another indicator that the Philippine phenomenon is rising to the level of something that is getting international attention.
Here’s the video —
Meanwhile Inquirer has a nice summary article about all the international coverage of AlDub —
Kudos to Fil-American artists Jeff Huntington for his beautiful Jose Rizal collage. Ironically — the best place to view this particular piece is on a eToday, a Russian website, where he is identified as a “45-year-old contemporary artist with a special recognizable style. Jeff loves Italian food and comfortable shoes …” You can see his other work on the Russian, which is also collage based and is very interesting.
He’s also been recognized by the U.S. Embassy in Manila, who have showcased this piece of art as well in the Art in Embassies program and on their Facebook Page.
And his personal website: http://jeffhuntington.com/
UPDATE: Here’s another great place to view Jeff art: http://www.stylenochaser.com/article/in-flux-and-ever-evolving-with-jeff-huntington
As some of you know, I served at the U.S. Embassy in Manila from 1986-1989. Have to say I’m tickled to see the Embassy getting into the act and joining in the #AlDub fun. They posted this video of staffers doing pabebe waves and have gotten 210,000 shares on FB.
Good for them. A little lightness of spirit helps everyone, kahit na ang mga Amerikano sa Embassy!
I’ve been searching for some cogent entertainment industry analysis of the AlDub phenomenon and in a Eureka moment, I’ve found it. It’s an article by Veronica Uy, senior editor of Interaksyon — and it’s an article that is built upon two interviews, one with advertising executive Vincent Pozon, and one with former GMA writer Elmer Gatchalian. This is really good stuff — I want to comment on some of the key points, but you should read the whole article which is available here.
The headline is: How #AlDub is a game-changer in Philippine television, advertising, social media …. (and by the way — it’s got 7k FB shares so I’m not the first to discover it.)
The Dif Between Real Chemistry and Manufactured Kilig
Gatchalian nails the fact that the audience can tell the difference between manufactured kilig and something real. “AlDub is a hit because I think they [Alden and Yaya Dub] are the complete antithesis of manufactured stars and love teams. Their unexpected and innately potent chemistry is a breath of fresh air in local showbiz that is so used to manufacturing kilig.
Riding on the Social Media Quality of “Fresh” and “Bold”
This is the part I especially like. Traditional broadasters have a long time harnessing the “freshness” and “boldness” of social media. It almost always feels clunky when TV networks try to behave like social media. But EB got it right in this one.
Riding on traditional media, both the segment and the show have tapped into the social media principles of freshness and boldness, and the enduring qualities of authenticity and expectation.
“The whole thing was born when the whole world watched a girl blush on television,” said [ad executive] Pozon.
“Eat Bulaga” saw the audience reaction and ran away with it building on this first blush with standard teleserye plots, which Gatchalian listed as: ampon (foundling), long-lost daughter, diary, hostage-taking, lola as kontrabida (villain), against-all-odds love story of Yaya and Alden, etc.
I think that’s really at the heart of the genius — they saw the social media moment, which they created with the split-screen matchup at just the right moment….lightning struck with Maine’s reaction to Alden….but then they carefully employed themes and plots that gave storytelling structure to the situation. It’s that combination of social media reality and thoughtful, values based structure that has caused it to become, as Donald Trump would say, “huge“….
Eclipsing The Competition
“Aldub’s persistent and pervasive relevance has the tendency to make all other celebs, love teams, and TV shows irrelevant…Niluluma niya ang lahat ng mga love team, artista at TV show sa ngayon. So producers of TV content have to really up the ante in terms of innovative storytelling and content production,” said Gatchalian.
And that’s really the point — this is “innovative storytelling and content production” — and the weird part is that the 1% intelligentsia in the Philippines who accuse it of “shallow” are themselves mababaw because they’re the ones who dont’ get the difference between manufactured kilig and this. They mistake the innovation and creativity of AlDub for the manufactured kilig they deplore — in the process exposing their own lack of insight.
Special Space – Between Scripted and Reality
Here’s how Uy winds up the article:
AlDub occupies the still-undefined space in television and pop culture, balancing reality and make-believe, giving respectful distance to whatever relationship is developing between Maine and Alden (if any), between reality and make-believe, between romantic-comedy and suspense-drama. “Somebody in there (‘Eat Bulaga’) is thinking, ‘We’re not going with what worked in the past, we’re not going with experience or what is world-class. We’re going to keep a respectful distance and watch this blossom and we will water and take care of it,’” said Pozon. “I am sure there is a tug-o-war between scriptwriting it and giving it space,” he added. The timing was also perfect. “They are the love team of this millennial and social media-obsessed generation. And I think ‘Eat Bulaga’ has found an enduring brand with AlDub — and they were found by a new audience too,” said Gatchalian.
I think that explains it perfectly– keep a respectful distance and water and take care of it — and see what blossoms. That’s a very different attitude than would be the case in a fully scripted situation, and it reflects the supercharge nature of this situation in which elements of reality and fantasy are blended.
Big kudos again to Veronica Uy for this article, and thanks to Elmer Gatchalian and Vincent Puzon for their insights. Brilliant stuff.
Pleae, go read the whole thing: How #AlDub is a game-changer in Philippine television, advertising, social media by Veronica Uy on InterAksyon
Year of the Spy Book Trailer
Above is the Year of the Spy Book Trailer — for my upcoming non-fiction book about espionage upheavals on the streets of Moscow in 1985.
Below is a “trailer” showcasing the writing and video services I provide to clients.
Michael Sellers — Writing and Video Services
- How to help save American Democracy this election year
- What the Mueller Report Actually Says
- Remembering James Blount, an American Who “Got” the Philippines in 1901
- America the Beautiful? You Mean America the Pitiful. I Am Ashamed
- Betty White, National Treasure, Just Turned 95; 10 Great Video Clips from 1954 until Now