MTCR References

Following are some references to the Missile Technology Control Regime, which I helped create.  Most deal with India’s membership.

I concur in the following Bulletin criticism of controls on drones.  When I was at State, the Pentagon was always trying to expand the MTCR controls to cover any thing or any country they didn’t like.  One of the worst incidents in my career came when the Pentagon vetoed the sale of a ground-based satellite tracking system that Brazil planned to use to download information on the environment in the Amazon.  The Pentagon said the ground stations could be used to track test launches of nuclear-capable missiles that Brazil might develop.  Brazil had no such missiles, and the ground stations would not have been very useful for this purpose.  It was like banning the sales of automobiles because they could be used to run over and kill people.  The Penatagon decision was ultimately reversed, but only after the Brazilians were very mad about the denial.

Election Process

One reason we have such poor candidates for President is that the election process is so terrible. The Republican debates and primaries for both 2012 and 2016 tended to destroy the chances for the best candidates. In 2012, Mitt Romney was not a terrible candidate, but he had to debate with a bunch of idiots with crazy ideas, several of whom led him in the debates and polls. By the time he emerged as the leader, any chance he had of being elected had been significantly reduced. By appearing with uninformed, extremist hacks like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorium, Romney trivialized himself.

More or less the same thing happened in the 2016 Republican debates, but it was worse because they had more worthless hacks onstage, and there was no front runner like Romney. It was not even clear that Donald Trump was a Republican. It turned out that Trump spoke to a slice of Republicans that none of the other candidates did. He was color in a Republican world of gray. He was a clear voice amidst a group of mumblers. But his speeches turn out to be well described by Shakespeare as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of all the political evil in the Washington establishment, expected a coronation, but got a fight from Bernie Sanders. The comparison between the honest, forthright Sanders and the devious, lying Hillary was striking. She is like the basest whore; there is nothing she won’t do for money or power. (See “House of Cards.”) She might even be seen as a latter-day representative of the whore of Babylon described in the Book of Revelation, but that might be giving her a little more importance than she deserves.

While the American electoral system has been dragging the country through the mud, Britain named a new prime minister, Theresa May, in only a few days, and she has hit the ground running, dealing with the huge mess that Brexit has dumped on her. Part of the difference is the British parliamentary system, but part of it is the long, corrupt, expensive process that our political parties have created for their own benefit, aided by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Because of this terrible process, good people will not run for office. Almost everyone has done something that they later wish they had not done, even if they have lived otherwise exemplary lives. If they run, the media will find that one bad thing and trumpet it from the rooftops (and cable and the Internet). Trump and Hillary seem to have unusual characters that are immune to such slander and obloquy. I don’t think we get what we deserve, we get what the political establishment has forced on us. Hillary is the product of that establishment, and Trump is the result of the public’s pained cry against what the system has forced on it. There are better men and women in America who would be better candidates, but the system is not designed to find them.

Attitudes Toward Military Service

I find the op-ed unconvincing in the NYT today by someone who avoided the Vietnam War draft and now repents for doing so. He fails to address the hatred and vitreol directed against returning Vietnam veterans, and the moral sef-righteousness displayed by those who did not go. He does not address the way that the war was portrayed as inhumane slaughter, and returning vets as baby-killing perverts. Even at the relatively conservative University of Alabama, which I returned to, the only vets who got positive feedback from other students were those who confessed to committing atrocities. Veterans who did not commit atrocities were very conflicted by feeling that after sending them to Vietnam, where they thought they gave honorable service, their country now denouced them as war criminals. Serving in Vietnam was only part of the “sacrifice”; returning to a hateful US was another part. While the op-ed writer wishes he had “served” he still feels morally superior to his war-criminal cohorts who did in fact serve.

Relatively few Vietnam veterans have had much political success. Three who did, all started out with silver spoons in their mouths. John McCain’s father and grandfather were senior admirals. John Kerry’s mother was a Forbes heiress. Al Gore’s father was a senator. They did not come back to the same obliquy as other vets. Both McCain and Kerry went into some Navy VIP program for returning VIP veterans. McCain in particular was treated as a returning hero, unlike the vast bulk ofther returnees, including some who were also combat heros. They all ran for President, but they were all rejected by their country. Veterans don’t always make good Presidents; General Ulysses Grant was one the worst in history. The same could have been true for one of these three. Al Gore actually won more votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 election, but the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to Bush. Bush, of course, avoided going to Vietnam by using his family influence to get into the Alabama National Guard, where he spent the war skipping even his National Guard duties, drinking heavily, and becoming an alcoholic. Of course, Bill Clinton, like Donald Trump, avoided the draft, and Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama were never subject to the draft, and did not volunteer to serve.

America now appears to have come full circle, and venerates military service almost religiously. If you look closely, however, you find that the best people don’t volunteer to serve. How many graduates of Harvard or Stanford are serving in the military? How many children of the top 20% of the population, much less of the 1% or 0.1%? No, nice people don’t serve in the military. And the press is always quick to note if someone in the news for some horriible crime has served. They protray the US Marine Corps as the breeding ground for mass murderers.

There was a period, right after 9/11, when nice people went into the militarr, because it looked like America was really under threat. But the political and military leadership botched the wars so badly that military service became a bad thing again. A lot of the praise for the military today is because people want some other fool to go fight so that they don’t have to. It’s selfish, not loving. If we reinstated the draft there would be a sea change in attitudes toward military service.

This is not to take away the honor of the sacrifice made by soldiers, particularly those killed or wounded in action, like Captain Khan. But it is to say that a lot of the furor about dishonor to the gold star parents is politically motivated, not genuine sympathy for those involved. It’s more like, “Thank goodness that’s not me, but shame on anybody who says that out loud.”

The Battle of the Grieving Parents

Donald Trump has completely blown his interaction with the Kahn family, which criticized him at the DNC.  Since Mrs. Kahn did not say anything, it was pretty clear that she was there only to show the headscarf and silenly imply that the Democratic Party supports Muslim women.  When asked why she did not speak, she said that seeing images of her dead son was so distrubing that she could not speak.  If that is the case, Hillary’s DNC forced her to deal with the death of her son, in a way which iwas hard for her.  It was a cruel thing for the DNC to do, but it worked on Donald.  He took the bait, hook, line and sinker.  This was a cynical use of a mourning Muslim worman, but Hillary gets no criticism for it, because Trump, by attacking the gold star family has made the whole issue about him, not about Hillary.  

It may be that the Kahns were the DNC’s response to the RNC’s use of Patricia Smith, the grieving mother of one of the Benghazi victims, as the Washington Examiner noted.  If that is the case, the DNC got much more mileage out of its grieving parents than the RNC did.  Interestingly, Patricia Smith said that Hillary Clinton lied to her when they met.  Normally I would be inclined to believe that the Secretary of State would be more believable than a grieving mother who may not have been completely focused during their conversation.  But we know that Hillary lied to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday about what James Comey, the head of the FBI, said publicly about her use of the private email server that she should not have used as Secretary.   If she would lie on TV about something that is on the public record, she might certainly have lied about a private conversation, but that question has never come up, certainly not to the extent that Trump’s remarks about the Kahns have been covered by the media.  

Hillary Follows Obama’s Failures

Obama has been a pretty good President.  So why are the people calling for change, Trump and Sanders, doing so well?  Obama saved the US from falling into a depression when he took over from Bush during the 2008 financial crisis.  He and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke did this by bailing out the big banks and other big institutions — AIG Insurance, General Motors. etc.  The banks and the government have made a big point of the fact that the big institutions paid the bailout money back.  The government did much less to help the little guy, not just the people who bought houses with “liar loans,” but people who lost 401(k) money in the stock market on the eve of their retirement, who were transferred and had had to sell their houses while house values were depressed, etc.  In addition, it looks like there was a massive transfer of wealth during this period from regular people to the super rich.  It’s not clear to me exactly what happened, but for example, smart invstors in the stock market made much greater returns than regular people with conservative investments.  House prices have risen, but not like the stock market, or other riskier investments like private equity, hedge funds, or high yield bonds.  Interest rates on bank accounts and ordinary bonds ave been close to zero for about a decade.  

Ordnary Americans, including me, don’t knew exactly what happened, but they know something bad happened to them.  While their lives in general are not terrible, they are relatively worse off vis-a-viz the one percent, and may be actually worse off than they personally were a few years earlier.  They know something went wrong under the Obama administration.  In a sense, Obama saved their lives, but made their lives worse.  So, do you thank Obama for saving your life, or blame him for giving your money to the extremely rich who bought him with their contributions, lobbying and backroom political power.   Plus, Obama did not send any of the Wall Street crooks to jail.  The super rich Jews bought the Clintons, and it looks like they have bought the Obamas, too.  Oddly, Hillary is running as the cadidate of the Jewish insiders ike Michael Bloomberg, while the insider Jews oppose Bernie, an ethnic Jew who is an outsider to whatever the Jews are who control Wall Street, Washington, and part of Silicon Valley (e.g., Facebook).  It’s interesting that two Jews, Al Franken and Sarah Silverman, were instrumental in putting down the Bernie supporters at the Democratic convention.  The insider Jews apparently hate Bernie, but love Hillary, a Methodist.  

As a transplanted Southerner, I should like Hillary for being first lady of Arkansas, a southern state, but I don’t think Hillary ever abandoned her Illinois, liberal roots.  Bill Clinton could get along with good ole Southern boys, as well as New York Jews, but Hillary made her mark, such as it was, in Arkansas by siding with the blacks against the good ole boys.  Her black conections helped the Clintons in Arkansas, and remain one of her stongest political pillars.  But Hillary doesn’t appeal to white men.  She has a love-hate relationship with her white man, Bill, who has dragged her throught the mud, but has also put her on the Presidential stage.  

Stepping in as Obama’s surrogate successor will not be entirely easy, because Obama, while being a basically good President, left many expectations unfulfilled.  He has not proved himself worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, in part because of some things that Hillary did as Secretary of State, like invading Libya.  He reduced American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the wars go on.  Fewer Americns are dying, but Obama has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Arabs on his hands.  His call early in his presidency for Muslims to rise up and overthrow their dictatorial leaders, like Mubarek, Qaddafi and Assad, resulted in bloody chaos in the Middle East, particularly in Syria,  It has now destabilized our NATO ally, Turkey.  So far, I credit Obama for not assassinating Assad or Erdogan with a cruise missile as he did Osama bin Laden, which he could do.  

Obama promised to close Guantanamo, but he has failed to do so.  The Republican Congress has done everything it can to block him, but nevertheless he failed.  It’s another case where he failed to live up to the promise of the Nobel Peace Prize.  America remains a member of the club of nations that tortures political prisoners.  We may have stopped waterboarding them, but the prison itself is a form of cruel and unusal punishment.  

Obama did expand healthcare with Obama Care, but he failed the progressives in his party by not establishing a single payer system.  Obama basically sold out to the super rich medical establishment to preserve the private insurance system, that makes them rich.  Oddly to me, while there are a lot of Jewish doctors, the rich people running heathcare tend to be gentiles.  The part of the medical establishment that benefits the least from the current system are those doctors who do the most good, those who practice general or family medicine.  Even they find it difficult to work in the present environment because of the huge bureacracy made up of private insurance, Medicare and Medicade.  As a result doctors who really want to help people end up joining hospitals or big medical practice groups to let somebody else do the paperwork while they save lives.  The administrators love this because they can add on their percentage to every bill.  While many patients get good care, it’s a system that favors the adminsitrators over the doctors and the doctors over the patients.  The people at the bottom of the healthcare pyramid in the US are the patients.  Obama left this system in place.