Trump, America First, and Venezuela


Trump, America First, and Venezuela

America First, as Trump proclaimed it during his campaign for the presidency in 2016, sounded good to some Americans (MAGA). Trump promised to put America’s interests first. He railed against all our allies who, according to his reckoning, had let America pick up the tab for far too many military operations over too many years. His followers, the Trumpers, also were led to believe that Trump intended to take care of the forgotten Americans who had lost their jobs to outsourcing and industrial migration.

To give some credit to Trump, he has tried to do this. Someone said on the news just today that the problem Trump has is that he is trying to bring back the America of 20 or 30 years ago and that the world does not do business the same way now (not an exact quote). Trump does seem out of step with economic changes that are most likely irreversible. He tried to save the Carrier plant in Indiana. That fell through. He tried to help Harley Davidson but made things worse. He celebrated when FoxConn said it would bring 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin, but today’s news suggests that that will not happen. Of course he also stepped all over his attempts to keep jobs in America with his tariffs.

Trump said he would deport illegal immigrants who were taking American jobs and using American benefits. Trump backed himself into a corner when he promised a wall that many think is a waste of money and which will not address the real reasons for high numbers of folks living here without proper documents. Despite the fact that just building a wall is an oversimplification of a more complex problem, to his “cult” members it said not only America First, but Americans First.

America First is a slogan that was not greeted with cheers by many other Americans who did not end up being followers of Trump. It harkens back to things that Hitler promised the German people that lead to World War II and the murder of 6 million Jews. It echoed the words of Nazi sympathizers in American who liked to repeat the slogan ‘America über alles’, because it echoed Hitler’s slogan for Germany. There are far too many authoritarian and genocidal memories to make this stance palatable to Americans who remember the history of the slogan. Did the President know about the connections to Nazism? His family immigrated to America from Eastern Europe so he probably did. It doesn’t matter if he makes the connection or not, and we cannot read his mind, but it matters to many Americans who don’t like the slogan and don’t like the isolationist positioning that goes with it.

But this America First policy may have a lot to do with speculations about our future activities in Venezuela and with the drumbeats of war that are sounding, at least in the media. It happens that John Bolton, for one reason or another, did not hide his notebook from the press. The list on his legal pad had the mysterious entry 5000+ troops to Columbia. Guess where Columbia is? It’s in South America, bordered by Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.

This is John Bolton we are talking about, a man with a reputation as a war monger. If his list has an item that says 5000+ troops to Columbia, media sees that as a possible step towards intervening in Venezuela. Venezuela is an oil rich nation, but Nicolás Maduro, dictator-in-charge is either not good with economics (at all), or is a big time thief because his people, living in what was once a thriving economy and what is now a failed state, are starving. Oil is a commodity that has fallen prey to a set of market circumstances that have hurt its value. There is a lot of competition in the oil market these days and price per barrel rates have vacillated accordingly. Natural gas is readily available because of fracking and is cleaner to burn than oil, so that is helping to drive down the price of oil. Perhaps Maduro is not completely to blame but has still proved to be incompetent.

When Trump was running for the presidency he often chided America for leaving Iraq without taking over the oil and annexing those sites for America. He attributed the fact that we left the oil wells for Iraq (or perhaps ISIS) to the wimpy behavior of President Obama, who took the last troops out of Iraq. It appears that Trump would fit in well back in the Age of Imperialism.

It is not as if modern America has never been guilty of taking advantage of another nation; we have meddled often and deeply in the name of both democracy and capitalism. Since World War II many nations give space to American military bases, berths to our ships, and hangers for our planes, and not always out of the kindness of their hearts. But it’s not easy to steal oil  or annex oil wells. There is the problem of manning these operations, even if ownership is not disputed, the problems of shipping the oil, and the problems of optics, since the media sees all.

So, although Trump’s eyes may light up at the thought of all that oil, that is unlikely to be the reason that we are backing Juan Guaidó as the man to take Maduro’s place. He is the man the people of Venezuela want, but so far Maduro controls the military.

Perhaps the reason for tiptoeing so close to the regime change line has to do with Trump’s passion to stem migration from Venezuela and neighboring countries. People have been flooding out of Venezuela. Many have gone to Chili and Columbia. Current wisdom advises Trump that if he wants to stem migration he needs to attack the problems people are facing in South America from bad leaders, to violent gangs, to changes in climate that have made food production unpredictable. Add these problems to those that are plaguing oil markets and you have a perfect storm. People cannot stay where life has no quality, where food is scarce, and where their children are either starving, or forced to join a gang or die.

Trump’s America First stand has him withdrawing from international entanglements around the globe. He took us out of the Paris Climate Accord, decided not to join the Trans Pacific Partnership. He wants to leave NATO and the UN. His isolationist tendencies argue against American involvement in the affairs of South American nations. However, if propping up South American economies and cleaning up violent gangs will end the caravans of people so traumatized that they can’t wait to leave home, if it will end the lines of “undesirables” seeking asylum in America, then sending troops to Columbia sounds like something Trump’s people might suggest (or that Trump might suggest). Trump does not want brown people, people who don’t speak English, or people who are poor. He says there is no room for these people in America. He wants a wall to keep them out. But he may be hedging his bets on the wall by supporting a little regime change and a little military action to reverse the decline of certain South American or Central American nations.

Perhaps that cryptic note on Bolton’s tablet meant that sending 5000+ troops to Venezuela is imminent, especially since the first thing on the list had to do with Afghanistan, but experts say that sending troops into a large failed state like Venezuela would be like getting America involved in another Vietnam. Experts also tell Trump that a wall is not what we need to solve the problems of migrants who enter America illegally. However, once Trump decides that he know best, all the expert advice in the world will not sway Trump. He is busy listening to his gut, which he tells us he trusts more than he trusts experts.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – New York Post

This is a view from the cheap seats.



Bop Bag Politics

clown bop bag

Our president is basically a human bop bag. If he gets knocked down he pretends it is due to his magnanimity as a leader (an emotion he does not possess) and then he just pops back up. This bop bag toy works as a symbol for a lot of politicians; but it may just be the quintessential symbol for Donald Trump, not just as a politician but also as a businessman.

Ending the shutdown is a victory for many Americans who spoke up about the everyday repercussions of working without pay; a victory over a president’s empty words about one-sided loyalty. Nancy Pelosi probably never intended to gloat. She used the power of her office, which she understands completely, and the power of the Constitution, to help put an end to the shutdown. The only extraordinary thing about it is the skill with which she wields the gavel. Gloating does not have good outcomes given Trump’s pathologies. He hates losing and will stubbornly hold his ground.

It is entirely possible that Trump only decided to end the shutdown for three weeks so he could give his State of the Union address in the House chambers amidst the pomp and spectacle of regular order, in these times that are anything but regular.

However Trump could have decided to do the authoritarian thing and force his way into the House chambers and he didn’t. Perhaps he realized how quickly opposition might escalate if he used that play from the authoritarian playbook at this particular moment, if he sidelined a Congress that now shows some promise of offering the checks and balances that signal a healthy democracy/republic. Don’t be too comforted; this play is still available for future use.

In the Rose Garden he made a formal announcement of a temporary (3 week end) to the government shutdown but he did not back down at all from his insistence on the necessity for a wall on our southern border.

“Trump’s quest for at least some portion of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is not over, however. Friday’s agreement only temporarily reopens the government, providing a three-week period for Congress to negotiate a longer-term spending agreement. The president said he would continue advocating for his signature campaign promise and threatened to again shut down the government or declare a national emergency to use his unilateral powers to build the wall if Congress does not appropriate funding for it by Feb. 15.

‘Let me be very clear: We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said Friday. He also tweeted in the evening that his decision “was in no way a concession.’”

He does seem, however, to be willing to accept pieces of wall as opposed to sea to sea wall. He also seems willing to accept a steel barrier rather than a monumental medieval concrete wall that can be seen from space. (Although perhaps with his push to get to Mars while he is still President, he will have to leave some kind of monument that will be visible from space.)

So the bop bag we call Donald Trump is now back in the upright position. What will happen next? Will it be some money for barriers and will Nancy Pelosi and her Dem peeps accept a bit of defeat gracefully? Will it be the declaration of a National Emergency, which promises to damage our constitutional democracy “bigly”? Will it be another shutdown after Trump gets to deliver his SOTU address?

What can the president possibly say in his SOTU address that anyone but loyal Republicans will want to listen to? We have not yet reached the point where Americans can be forced to watch the address. Someone will tell us what he said after the fact. If you are a person who sees through this man you will probably have to tune out the SOTU address to save your TV from mayhem. Perhaps you could order a bop bag to take your frustrations out on. Remember also that a bop bag can be put down permanently; all you have to do is take the hot air out of it.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search –

Nancy Pelosi and the Dems versus Donald Trump

pelosi ltr to trump

Nancy Pelosi and the Dems are standing up to Trump to make the point that he cannot expect the people’s House to host the State of the Union address when the government is shut down.

Now I’m really worried.

Trump is a counter puncher

Trump believes in unlimited executive power.

Trump has no respect for the protocol of our Democracy/Republic

Trump has said that the invitation to give the State of the Union address was already offered and that he will come to the House on January 29, 2019.

Nancy Pelosi, as the speaker of the House, has responded that he cannot come if the government is still shutdown.

This sounds like something Trump will see as a declaration of war.

Will he bring troops?

Will he just order House staff to make sure the chamber is unlocked and ready? [Will he defile the House by defying its will.]

Will the Dems stay away from the SOTU address?

What will the media do?

Nobody had better end up in jail or that will reveal all.

Will we be saying goodbye to our democracy publicly? Is this when we become an overtly authoritarian state?

There is no way the Dems can give Trump another compliant house in the Congress; so this war of wills cannot end well.

This is a view from the cheap seats.

If You Give Trump a Phone

If you give Trump a phone

trump with phone

If you give President Trump a phone he will want to tweet.

trump tweeting - yahoo news

And if you let a Trump tweet he will want covfefe

covfefe mug - redbubble

If you give him covfefe he’ll want chocolate cake.

mar a lago choc cake the av club

If you give him yummy chocolate cake he will want China to stop misbehaving economically.

trump and xi

If he gets President Xi in the mood to talk he will want to slap some tariffs on Chinese goods because that’s what he wanted to do all along.


If you give Trump his tariffs he will turn a deaf ear when everyone complains.

us china trade war vox

If you leave his tariffs in place he will want a wall so he can keep people from Central America and South America from immigrating to America.

border-wall-american greatness

If he doesn’t get a wall he’ll want a government shutdown.

government shutdown 2019

If he gets his wall he will want to go on Fox News to preen.

trump on fox news supernewsworld

After he preens before the world he will want his PJ’s.

trump in pjs medium

Once he dons his PJ’s he will want his hamberders and soda.


While he eats he will want to see himself on Fox News until he is finally ready to stop wanting things……

sean hannity pinterest

At least until he wakes up and wants his phone and some covfefe.

This seems as if it will never end.


Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – Trump with phone, Politico; Trump tweeting, Yahoo News; Coffee,redbubble; chocolate cake, The AV Club; Trump with Xi,; Trump tariffs,; Tariff complaints, Vox; Wall, American Greatness; Gov. shutdown,; Trump on Fox, SuperNewsWorld; Trump in pjs, Medium; hamberders,; Sean Hannity, Pinterest


Trump, Pelosi, the Wall, and the Government Shutdown

shutdown-chester energy and policy

Arguments about the standoff between Nancy Pelosi and the Dems and Trump have gotten complex and passionate, something that would not be true if we were not in the first government shutdown ever called by a President.

Thoughts on the government shutdown-

Our president never lets compassion for his pawns (oops, people) get in the way of trying to make a deal.

Dems do not want to make a deal as long as the government is shutdown. They define the federal workers who are not being paid as ‘hostages’. I guess this makes Trump a terrorist. We don’t make deals with hostage-takers.

Thoughts about the wall-

The President wants $5.7 for the wall and has already spent over $7 b to get his way, because experts say that is the cost of the shutdown so far. People are upset with the Democrats and they are saying the Dems are being unreasonable and should take the newest deal on the table that offers the left a few tantalizing tidbits,

One, like a 3 year extension for some DACA young people.

What will happen after 3 more years in America, when these young folks, who have never lived in the country of their parents, or were too young when they left to remember it now, if they are deported to a land that is no longer their country?

Two, the President has offered to build wall (barriers) in noncontiguous arrangements.

The Democrats do not want to pay for a wall at all. It is a symbol of our President’s racism and white supremacy(which he expresses all the time, although he says he doesn’t). MSNBC is showing a piece of film in which MLK is standing before the Berlin Wall and expressing his sorrow about any efforts towards separating humans from each other. MLK knew what walls were for.

So two reasons not to give inon the wall: because the President wants it for immoral reasons and, because the President has taken ‘hostages’.

Here’s another reason, the President is only concerned about getting reelected. This was his election promise and right wing media people like the scary-mean Ann Coulter are holding Trump’s feet to the fire, reminding him he will never get reelected if he doesn’t build the wall.

Trump’s New Deal

These are the things that Trump offered in his speech to America on 1.19.19. There are some things that Trump offered that people think will help at the Border

  1. 800 m. for immediate humanitarian aid (used how?)
  2. 805 m for improved drug technology at legal ports of entry
  3. Hiring 2,750 new border agents
  4. Hiring 75 more immigration judges to help with asylum backlog
  5. Installing a new system that allows minors to apply for asylum before they leave their home country (A pretty transparent way to end caravans but good for young people and children if they are granted asylum. However, will everyone just be turned down? Is this just a way to get this out of view of Americans)
  6. Steel barriers along 230 more miles of the border

Media begins to blame Nancy Pelosi for being stubborn when workers are suffering

The media is beginning to turn on Nancy Pelosi. They are upset that she turned down the deal before the American people even heard it.

They do not seem to give credence to the importance of ending the shutdown first. Are we now in a fight over ‘order of operations’?

The American people are also beginning to turn on Nancy Pelosi. They think she is being heartless to the federal workers who aren’t being paid and that she should be more flexible now that Trump has offered those tantalizing tidbits.

The Democrats in the House can pass all the legislation they want but they know that any of their passed bills are unlikely to be taken up in the Senate. Their power is limited by strong opposition. Winning the House was not winner-takes-all.

Democrats have planning they can do and investigations they can do put beyond run-of-the-mill House Resolutions the only other thing they control is the purse strings.

Democrats would not be in any hurry if it were not for the ‘hostages’. Trump may have no compassion, but Democrats do. Trump is pretty sure he can break the Democrats if things get bad enough for workers affected by the shutdown.

How much of this is just about power? Should Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who just won control of the Congress allow themselves to be humbled? What negative effects could that have on the country? We already have spent two years without any checks and balances. Can Trump have a long-view strategy for sidelining the Dems in the House so he still has no checks and balances?

Is this just an arm wrestling match with a side show of unpaid workers looking on woefully from behind the President, directly appealing to their only hope, the Democrats’ to throw the match?

Is this really about the Southern Border at all? When did the Southern Border become a crisis that had to be solved right this very minute, the Republican way, with no input from the Democrats? The only reason this issue is front and center right now is because our President made it so and the right wing nuts will not let him back down. (Most people must agree that Ann Coulter and Steven Miller are wing nuts.) Ann Coulter is not even in our government. No one elected her or appointed her to any office in our government.

However, I believe that the Democrats will have to caveso people can go back to work. Otherwise we may never again be able to see Democrats as being the party with a heart, the party of ‘we the people’. If the Democrats let Trump win he may use this tactic over and over again and that is a risk we will have to take if public opinion gets any more negative.

Can Nancy Pelosi sell a cave-in to the newest Democrats and still keep the speakership? How?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Chester Energy and Policy



Your Turn-Design and Submit a Border Security Plan

mexico us

It’s Your Turn-Design and Submit a Border Security Plan


It is entirely possible that our president, Donald Trump, wants zero immigration at the southern border, plans to accept zero asylum seekers at our southern border, and doesn’t want to honor any BCC’s or Border Crossing Cards. He wants to block off South America and Mexico and other nearby neighbors completely so that those nations, in a sense, cease to exist. If this is the case, then only a concrete wall will suffice and sophisticated border security with lots of digital bells and whistles will be totally unnecessary. Brute force and the wall, that will stop everyone (maybe).

There are several problems with 45’s plan. For one thing his plan ignores our current immigration laws and the court rulings that have upheld those laws – thus Trump’s derision of the 9thcircuit courts. Soon the Supreme Court will decide if the ways Trump has used immigration law will become acceptable. Another difficulty is geography. There are places along the border where it will be impossible to build a wall without leveling mountains, a very expensive proposition. A wall will not only stop most people; it will stop animal migration, which could have unknown environmental effects. And then there is the eminent domain problem, and the fact that the border runs down the middle of a river and through a desert (more geography), the problem that some border towns don’t want it, and the problem that humans are ingenious (people will find work-arounds like tunnels).

So, if you are a Trumper, zero immigration over our southern border probably sounds good to you, and you don’t want to feel like a sucker who chanted ‘wall’ with such verve and zest for nothing. I don’t believe Trumpers are as frightened of an invasion of terrorists and gangs as they say they are. Perhaps they enjoy being perverse to anyone who leans left. Trumpers have such fun telling off a few libtards and watching them attempt to use reason against irrational convictions.

If you happen be someone who believes a wall is old technology, or will be ineffective, or is a waste of taxpayer money then your own defense right now is in the hands of one tiny grandmother, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, who is in a pitched battle with Trump right this very moment. 800,000 people are working or not working but still have federal jobs with no pay because Trump has shut down the government and will not reopen it until Nancy Pelosi and the Dems in the House agree to give him the initial down payment on that ill-conceived wall. Pelosi says that since the government is shut down she will not expect her people to come up with plans for border security that don’t involve a wall. Trump will speak to the nation again tomorrow. Will he end the shutdown?

Well, whether he does that or not, I say we have a lot of talent out here in America. If you have great ideas, come up with a plan for border security that doesn’t involve a wall, and send a copy to Donald Trump, a copy to Nancy Pelosi, and a copy to Mitch McConnell. Flood Washington with plans for border security. Let the paper flow. Use pictures as much as possible, because 45 is not literate and has no patience with words.

Here are some facts to get you started. Most of this information is from Wikipedia. If you don’t trust the source there are lots of other sources on the internet.

****If you like graphics rather than words thanks to the Washington Post you are in luck. Skip to the **** at the end of this post.

Geographical Facts

The border is 1,954 miles long from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The border extends (by agreement) 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and 18 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

Border details are the province of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC).

Where there is no river to act as a boundary there are monuments set into the landscape at regular intervals.

American states along the border are California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas.

Mexican states along the border are Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas.

There are 48 US-Mexico Border Crossings with 330 ports of entry.

“At these points of entry, people trying to get into the U.S. are required to open their bags for inspection.[12] Border crossings take place by roads, pedestrian walkways, railroads and ferries. From west to east, below is a list of the border city “twinnings”; cross-border municipalities connected by one or more legal border crossings.

The total population of the borderlands—defined as those counties and municipios lining the border on either side—stands at some 12 million people.

What is Already in Place

The US Immigration Act of 1924 established the Border Patrol.

In June 2018 a facial recognition system is being installed.

Our border control strategies have had considerable success:

Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, CA

Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, TX

Operation Rio Grande in McAllen, TX

Operation Safeguard in Tucson, AZ

There is also the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI) along the Arizona border.

As of 2010 there are more than 20,000 border agents.

Our southern border has the highest number of legal crossings of any land border in the world.

Our border patrol only covers 1,100 miles of border (out of 1,954).

We have the ability to stop or prevent illegal entries along 129 miles of border.

We also have a system of parallel checkpoints within 25 – 75 miles of the border in America, and within 50 miles of the border in Mexico.

Illegal entries are about 350,000 per year since 2007.

America has made $395 billion from undocumented labor.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for the construction of 700 miles of high-security fencing.

The Mexican government and various US-based organizations oppose extending the fence.

# of deaths along the border has steadily increased as people try dangerous places to seek entry unnoticed.

June, 2018 began the policy of separating parents from children at the border.

Also in June, asylum seekers were turned away and told that the US has no room for them. These matters are now in the courts.

Within 100 miles of the border is a designated border zone established by the US Dept. of Justice. Officials have the right to stop and search anyone within the zone. They can enter private property without a warrant within 25 miles of the border. And they may establish interior checkpoints in the zone.

There are some limits on Customs and Border Protection that allow searches of vehicles only with a warrant and do not allow pulling people over using profiling, but these limits are routinely ignored.

And we have Operation Streamline which includes zero-tolerance policies and permission to expedite removal of undocumented immigrants.

That’s what we already have at the border.

Your Turn

Now go, make a valid plan – use a map with short notes, or an infographic, or engineering and computing suggestions, or use any skill you possess to come up with a viable border security plan that keeps illegal entry down to an absolute minimum.

Make 3 copies to send to:

President Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Nancy Pelosi

1236 Longworth HOB (House Office Building)

Washington, DC 20515

Mitch McConnell

US Senate

317 Russell Senate Building

Washington, DC 20510-0001

You can also send to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Judiciary Committee if you like redundancy.

Final Note

I keep imagining that we build a great wall at the behest of our fearful leader and then aliens land in Canada and we try to run South to escape them and we either come up against the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the wall. If this seem too far-fetched an image, what if what we have to run from is extreme flooding or extreme weather? Could we migrate out of America by foot if there was an impenetrable wall between the US and Mexico?

Thank you Wikipedia.–United_States_border

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search –

****Wow! Be sure to take a look at this flyover graphic of the entire US border with Mexico; it shows why blocking migration across our Southern border, legal or illegal, is so difficult to manage.







Curb Your Nostalgia for Political Process

wm. barr usa today

Tuesday, January 15, was the congressional hearing/job interview to determine William Barr’s fitness to serve as our new AG. I watched most of the proceedings on TV with occasional gaps to deal with some loads of laundry. For a warm, mushy minute the hearing harkened back to the calm, respectful order of less partisan days. Hard to believe there is nostalgia for a political process that can seem as uneventful as watching paint dry, except that recently such occasions have offered something more akin to fireworks.

Everyone treated William Barr with seriousness and regard because he certainly has the chops for the job, having been AG thirty years ago (in a Republican administration) and having lived a life of public service. William Barr had with him his 8 year old grandson, apparently a child with some charisma, but the presence of family did not prevent the confrontational tone of the Kavanaugh hearing.

These days we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of comfort. Underneath the welcome civility of a well-conducted political ritual, the content revealed during questioning was more problematic. While Barr obviously trusts Mueller to refuse to conduct a “witch hunt” style investigation, he made no promises that the public will ever learn what the special prosecutor has found. He said it nicely. He said he could not answer the question until he saw the report, but he firmly insisted on his absolute power over whether to release the information and over exactly what information he will release. Then there is the question of why he, or indeed anyone, would want this job.

So I was yanked from my sentimental swoon and reminded that, while these hearings seem civil on the surface, they are an empty form. Democrats will only be allowed to ask questions. Republicans have the votes to confirm William Barr without any assistance from the Democrats and nothing would be negative enough to deter them.

We are being humored, swayed by phony protocol, until we forget that we still have no power to approve or disapprove Trump appointees. Republicans in the Senate are just putting on a show at taxpayer expense, but have actually bought themselves a rubber stamp. They need the show hearing because without it everyone would see that there is no such thing as regular order and wishing for it will not make it so.

It seems Republicans are also willing to reveal that the money we spent on a special prosecutor does not give ‘we the people’ access to Robert Mueller’s findings. My heart sank; I had not considered this until it came up in discussions over the past few weeks. (And then there was that moment when Lindsay Graham – in a very calm tone – asked Barr to promise to investigate Mueller’s staff because of rumored bias – the word liberal is understood – and Barr agreed that he would.) We cannot afford to let sentiment cloud our vision. Our power to check this administration will not really exist until we win at least the Senate in 2020.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search ; USA Today