As a retired military officer, I watched last night’s Republican debate from Detroit (transcript here) with a special focus on which candidate is qualified to lead the military as commander-in-chief. I knew, of course, that Donald Trump had promised in the past to use torture against America’s enemies (last night, he called them “animals”), that he would pursue and kill not only terrorists but their families (apparently because the families always know, according to Trump, what their father/brother/sister is up to, as if there are no secrets in families). Trump, in short, is an Old Testament “eye for an eye” man: if they behead us, we’ll torture and kill them, end of story.
But Trump was put on the spot when he was asked what he would do if the U.S. military failed to carry out his unlawful orders. Instead of saying he wouldn’t issue unlawful orders, that he would support and defend the U.S. Constitution, which as president would be his sworn duty to uphold, Trump boasted that the military would follow his orders no matter what.
America: those are the words of a dictator.
Here’s what was said:
BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.
So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?
TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.
BAIER: But they’re illegal.
TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding.
This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last — two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it’s fine. And if we want to go stronger, I’d go stronger, too, because, frankly…
… that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.
BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?
TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.
Our military does not follow blindly orders issued by “The Leader.” Our military swears an oath to the Constitution. We swear to uphold the law of the land. We don’t swear allegiance to a single man (or woman) as president.
Trump’s performance last night reminded me of Richard Nixon’s infamous answer to David Frost about Watergate: “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” No, no, a thousand times no. The president has to obey the law of the land, just as everyone else has to. No person is above the law, an American ideal that Trump seems neither to understand nor to embrace.
And that disqualifies him to be president and commander-in-chief.
54 thoughts on “Last Night, Donald Trump Disqualified Himself”
I was surprise to hear Michael Hayden bring up the issue of refusing illegal orders. As CIA director, he had full knowledge of the destruction of CIA torture tapes, which he justified as lawful. Refusing illegal orders needs a better spokesman.
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Great point, Walt.
Yes. Former Air Force General and CIA Director Michael Hayden has quite the set of brass cojones to prattle so about military aversion to carrying out illegal orders. Since when has any evidence of such squeamishness come to light? I haven’t seen any. Not in all my sixty-eight years of life on this planet. For some truly gritty details of this awful subject, I suggest reading Nick Turse’s fabulous book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. Then substitute Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, etc., etc., for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Just more of the same casual carnage.
Personally, I thought that the cunning buffoon, Donald Trump, missed some wonderful opportunities to point out the decades of crimes committed by our vaunted Visigoths at the command of our serial commanders-in-brief. For example, Just the mention of President Obama’s assassination of two U.S. citizens in Yemen: namely, Anwar Al Awlaki and his sixteen-year-old son, Abdullah, ought to have silenced Trump’s hypocritical False Noise interlocutors and fellow political aspirants. Shoving the blade in just a little deeper, Trump could have pointedly observed that when asked why the sixteen-year-old American boy had to die, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs casusally quipped: “He should have had a more responsible father.” Yes, fellow Crimestoppes. Death for having insufficiently responsible parents! How positively American! But bringing up such evidence of American military cruelty and obliviousness would only lend credence to President Obama’s boast of having “gotten really good at killing people.” And no self-respecting Republican would ever want to credit President Obama — a black man and a Democrat — with the obtuse and self-serving contempt for human life that he regularly exhibits. That badge of dishonor proudly belongs to a Republican. And Donald Trump just gleefully laid claim to it.
I’ll take Edward Snowden and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning any day over former Air Force General and CIA Director Michael Hayden. What a pompous ass.
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I notice that you targeted Obama in your argument but failed to mention the thousands of innocents that Bush murdered in the illegal war in Iraq. Why is that?
Yet it hasn’t stopped Obama …and no one has stood up and said he is not qualified to be Commander in Chief. He has consistently given “illegal” orders and consistently, blatantly ignored and dishonored the Constitution. Now you want to cry “unconstitutional”?? At least he is willing to stand up for America and defend it….not commit treason to destroy it!
Hey.. when it was discovered that our current president was not vetted prior to running for president and ultimately not qualified once all info was gathered and re-gathered (i.e. multiple fraudulent birth certs.), VIRTUALLY NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT IT! When certain high-ranking military officers refused to obey orders from Obama, they were simply removed (i.e. given an ultimatum and forced to retire if they didn’t accept it.)
So now what????? Wait and see what happens when he gets in? Hmmm..hardly a way to govern “by the people”.
Wowwwwww. Birth certs? Seriously? That’s been debunked 1000 times over. Climb out of your hole, turn off your conservative radio, and open your eyes.
As true as the military oath may be,
Its very simple to send them oversea
allowing Chinese or Russian military here and they have their solution to the refusal of “orders”. #Dictatorship
A bad gaffe, to be certain, and a product of a hubris overload. But who of the rest of those shills onstage will cause any changes to occur as the juggernaut of the system just keeps rolling over all traditionalists who feel they are good Americans who believe in borders or the Constitution?
None of the other candidates have even hinted that foreign interventionism is a stupid path. Vets of the Cold War/Vietnam era are just ignored because the money is so good and political contributions from the profiteers keeps rolling in. The rest of the candidates just keep on script with Big Money, hoping to hornswaggle all of Middle America like they did in the 2014 elections.
Please explain any choice we have that will cause actual improvement and not just sound bites.
Of the candidates in both parties, Sanders and Kasich seem the most reasonable and level-headed. Sanders was against the Iraq War, unlike Hillary Clinton. Kasich at least has some experience in the realm of national defense, and seems less likely than Cruz, Rubio, or Trump to embrace torture and carpet bombing and other war crimes.
The other choice is Jill Stein of the Green Party. At her website, jill2016.com, she says the following: “Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.”
She’s on the right track, but she’s also completely ignored by the U.S. media.
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I’m from rural Ohio. Kasich has been a surprisingly good governor; maybe he has just been lucky that fracking has been so successful, environmental issues aside. When he was in the House he was a party hack. I think he would be exceeding the Peter Principle if he ever got out of Ohio again.
Middle America- read that, taxpayers in flyover country – cannot afford Sanders.
“Voting” for a Green Party candidate would again be merely expressing an opinion, the likes of which we used to refer to as spitting in the ocean. I like the Stein quote, with the exception of the obligatory “human rights abusers” mantra, but it’s still functionally just words.
I will most definitely vote for Dr Jill Stein this November. I only have one vote, the same as anyone else, and I wish to use it as an expression of my approval for proposed policies and programs. I never vote for someone simply because other people tell me that I must do so because they do so and only the people I loathe can actually “win.” So what? I don’t want to “win” by associating myself with loathsome parasites. What a miserable excuse for accepting an intolerable status quo. I cannot possibly vote for a war-slut like You-Know-Her or a wanna-be-warlock like Donald Trump or any other of that pitiful rat pack of Republican candidates. As a former resident of the Left Coast of America, I never could afford to subsidize flyover-country and the reactionary political yokels who dominate so much of that desolate cultural backwater. I would prefer Senator Bernie Sanders except for his spineless support of the Apartheid Zionist Entity and military contractors in his home state of Vermont. I understand that socialists in that state call him “Bomber Bernie,” with good cause. He had no trouble voting for America’s illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (currently ongoing). Until and unless he attacks and undermines You-Know-Her for her mindless militarism and ruinous “free trade” policies, I can’t really take him seriously.
With these things in mind, then, I have only Dr. Jill Stein as my preferred candidate. Her inclusion in any of the forthcomeing Presidential “debates” would really shake things up, so of course the Democrats and Republicans will not allow her to participate. What cowards. Vote for one of them so you can “win,” too. Oh, brother.
Anyway, if Dr Jill Stein does not win the presidency of the United States, then I can’t help that. I can only do my individual part. As the Chinese say: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Way past time to start stepping away from the enforced cororate duopoly. Perhaps even time for another constitutional convention to redesign the republic. As presently constituted, it simply doesn’t work anymore. Voting for either a Republican or a Democrat will only assure that I lose. And losing with the loathesome does not make me feel like a winner.
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It is a fact that George Bush’s administration tortured including water boarding, and irresponsibly was responsible for over 100,000 civilians plus. Did you speak up then.?
Yes. See this story that I wrote in 2008. http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00386
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Just as a brief followup here at 3:00 am in southern Taiwan, I see where The Donald has reversed himself on ordering the commission of war crimes by the U.S. military — an institution which has shown little evdidence of ever worrying about such things. Certainly, I cannot remember any prosecutions of senior political or military officials for the many crimes against international and human rights laws that they regularly commit. But anyway, the Wall Street Journal has an article up now wherein The Donald promises not to do what U.S. presidents and their military minions do all the time with utter impunity. Read about it here:
Trump Reverses His Stance on Torture
More to the point, though, and getting further into the gross hypocrisy of U.S. commanders-in-brief rhetorically disavowing the many crimes regularly committed by them and their careerist military subalterns, Salon.com has a good article by Mattea Kramer of TomDispatch. See:
We the people, bathed in blood: American foreign policy is no less barbaric than Trump’s (The Donald plans to target terrorists’ families. The Obama administration merely considers them collateral damage)
So, yes, The Donald has reversed himeslf and now promises not to do what U.S. presidents routinely do with the sure and certain expectation that their military minions will do exactly as ordered, with only the occasional enlisted man with a conscience going to jail for telling his or her fellow citizens just what the U.S. military regularly does to hapless foreigners gathering for their “bad weddings,” “bad funerals,” and “bad baby-naming ceremonies.” And of course, let us never overlook the heinous crime — punishable by drone or special-forces death — of “being Muslim and of military age,” as in:
“Felonious Military Age Muslims”
You’ve reached the age of sixteen years
Or maybe thirty-five
This makes of you a “militant”
So why are you alive?
Our president can kill you now
His list contains your name.
Intended, or if by mistake,
He’ll kill you just the same
The bomb will kill the one it hits,
As well as those nearby
Who had no business being born
Unless it was to die.
A free-fire-zone we called this dodge,
All over Vietnam,
Which meant to shoot just anywhere.
Who gives a bloody damn?
Obama’s body counts reveal
Upon his magic map
Some “progress” after decades spent
Repeating this same crap.
But Democrats now think him “tough”
And cheer at each new kill.
Republicans, of course, do not,
And never ever will.
And so the country lurches right
As scapegoat Muslims fall,
And fascist brownshirts thrill to see
Obama “standing tall.”
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2012
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Glenn Greenwald, as usual, nails all this official militarist hypocrisy. See: Donald Trump’s Policies Are Not Anathema to U.S. Mainstream, but an Uncomfortable Reflection of It. Just one excerpt made my day:
“In 2009, Gen. Barry McCaffrey said, “We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” The notion that the U.S. intelligence and military community will collectively rise up in defiance of the commander-in-chief if they are ordered to obey polices that are illegal is just laughable.”
Anyway, the whole article merits reading and keeping for future reference. The official U. S. hypocrisy about torture and murder reeks like an open Saigon sewer in mid-July. The Donald keeps uttering unpalatable truths about bestial American belligerence only to receive much oprobrium, not for the truth of the matter, but only for the unstylish vulgarity with which he expresses it.
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Glenn is always worth reading. But Trump’s statement was more than a difference in degree: it was a difference in kind. In the debate, Trump was laying down the law: When I am the leader, the military will obey me. No matter what.
That is how a dictator thinks — and acts.
Some of us want leaders who aspire to better than the worst that the U.S. has done. We all know what we did to the native americans and to the slaves. So, we surrender to fear and quit trying to do right? If our leaders do worse than they admit, where would that put us under a president Trump?
If Trump is merely reflecting the rude truth of what the military has done and is still doing, yet becomes more popular, that reminds me of Machiavelli (the bloke who wrote “The Prince”). He was vilified because he wrote down the actions taken by the riulers of the day. Everyone knew about them but it was an unwrtten rule (huh) not to actually write them down for everyone to read about.
Have the outcomes of telling the truth changed recently? Does it depend on whom tells and how it is told? Remember how successful the Daly Show was, simply because it sued humour
Let’s stretch our horizons and hear a different take from a guy with a smaller audience than Greenwald’s. Not as irreverent as Fred Reed, but almost always also worth the time, I offer:
Good for you, sir. I’m a State Department brat who grew up around career military officers and my friends on the left have often been puzzled by my abiding esteem for them, especially in the sadly tarnished years after 9/11. So I shared your post on FB and basically told my pals, “This is the kind of military man I mean and the kind I will always admire.” Maybe it’ll change some of their sillier preconceptions, who knows?
I’ll just add here one more comment regarding our vaunted Visigoths (both uniformed and corporate mercenary) who will do whatever their commander-in-brief tells — and pays — them to do. [Cross-posted at TheContraryPerspective blog]. I have already made numerous observations regarding The Donald’s vulgar but frank assumption that the self-described “leader of the free world” can pretty much do whatever he wants, to whomever, wherever, etc., without the slightest fear that he or she will face any form of legal accountability, much less resistance from his or her military minions.
Apropos of Nick Turse’s recent book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, I would like to mention that David Halberstam — author of The Best and the Brightest — won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his reporting from the field with our troops in South Vietnam. In 1967, he published a novel entitled, One Very Hot Day, which accurately portrayed a typical U.S./ARVN patrol which ran into a typical ambush which produced the typical “friendly” casualties: one or two dead “insurgents” for the body-count statistics, no enemy automatic weapons captured, and the air force finally arriving once the engagement had already broken off. Not one to pass up the chance to detonate surplus ordnance once finally made available, the U.S. Army captain/adviser instructs the chain-of-command where to have the incoming pilots lay their explosive eggs:
“I want it all over the goddamn place. I want it where they were supposed to get us, and I want it north, because they’ll probably head north, and you tell the zoomies that if they see anything moving, any mother’s sons, white pajamas, black pajamas, no pajamas to zap their goddamn yellow ass. Anything moves, kill it. I’ll take the responsibility.” — David Halberstam, One Very Hot Day (1967)
“Precision” work, got it? “Surgical Strike,” got it? No wonder our enemies multiply like mosquitoes the more indiscriminate carnage we lay on them. But all with the best of intentions, you know. Too bad that The Donald doesn’t actually know anything about the U.S. military, our dogs-of-war mercenaries, or corporate camp followers. If he or any other of the pretenders on that stage actually did, they might start sounding more like Dr. Jill Stein and less like the war-pigs You-Know-Her and President Barack Obama: the real right-wing “heroes” that Republicans seek to emulate but dare not name.
“Hiding Behind the Troops,” we used to call it back in the day. Still works in America today. The longest and most successful money-laundering scam ever invented to fleece the “patriotic” rubes.
Thankfully, Trump changed his mind. Thanks for speaking out. It helped.
Abu Ghraib, anyone???
fabulous WashPost opinion by Jonathan Turley ..
we really DO need a revolution, a legal and long-lasting people’s revolution … from te bottom up AND the top down at the same time
I’ve said it before: we need to wage peace, not war … it’s productive for everyone, not just the few
Finally, I would like to say that Donald Trump’s recent reversal of his announced position on ordering the U.S. military to commit war crimes does not mean that — as commander-in-brief — he will not order our military to commit such crimes. Nor does it mean that the U.S. military will not commit such crimes if ordered to do so. The publlic relations reversal in fact means that a President Trump (like any other American president) will order the commission of such crimes and the U.S. military (uniformed and non-uniformed mercenary) will dutifully commit them — but with the understood proviso that both the commander-in-brief and his military minions will continue the present practice — perfected by presidents Bill Clinton, Deputy Dubya Bush, and Barack Obama — of (1) simply lying about the commission of such crimes, (2) covering up all evidence of them, and (3) harshly persecuting any lowly subaltern with a conscience who tries to inform the American public about them. In the United States such a duplicitous policy goes by the self-constructed neologism, “transparency.” See?
Yeah, he backtracked on that so now in Trumpworld it’s like it never happened.
I once thought he would be okay because he would have experts around him to direct him. He has, however, proven me wrong since. He showed up in Nevada where 80+% of the state lad is “owned” by the Feds and had no clue how to address the issue…
Of course the act of voting is the expression of “opinion,” but it is not “merely” so. It is a matter of public record. Jill Stein will be on the ballot in most states. This didn’t happen overnight. If she were to gather 20% of the vote the media might just have to stop ignoring her, setting the stage for broader debate and public awareness.
Jill Stein represents a choice. Her views represent my own. So she will get my vote. I would not otherwise be voting because I’ll be damned before I’ll ever again try to parse out the lesser of evils or the relative demerits of the establishment parties. If one is still at the stage of worrying that support of what you truly believe in will detract from the support of the eventual D or R “winner,” causing your least favored candidate to win, then I say good luck with that.
That Hayden is a hypocrite and pompous ass is worth repeating, so I did. I’m just a little curious as to whether the same “outcry” would have been forthcoming had say, Jebbie boy been the one to utter (albeit in a dissimilar fashion) the infamous Republican applause lines.
In his book Empire of Illusion, the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Chris Hedges quotes the late Sheldon Wolin as follows:
“Imperial politics represents the conquest of domestic politics and the latter’s conversion into a crucial element of inverted totalitarianism. It makes no sense to ask how the democratic citizen could ‘participate’ substantially in imperial politics; hence, it is not surprising that the subject of empire is taboo in electoral debates. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire.” [emphasis added]
If for no other reason than her upfront critique of rampant American militarism and its empire of innumerable, resource-devouring bases abroad, Dr. Jill Stein deserves a place in the national political debate. And precisely because Dr Stein refuses to conform to this Republican/Democratic taboo about discussing the most important factor in America’s precipitous decline — i.e., the standing imperial military (or “racketeers for capitalism,” as General Smedley Butler called our vaunted Visigoths) — the ruling corporate oligarchy will not permit her participation. For his part, I give Senator Bernie Sanders credit for introducing the word “oligarchy” into this national election cycle, but even he will not violate the establisment proscription against any analysis, much less deconstruction, of rampant empire and the debilitaring militarism that upholds and sustains it.
No American should vote for any candidate who will not discuss, analyze, and deconstruct American Imperial Militarism. If the national media had any real reason for existence, it would assure that this discussion take place. Instead, total silence on the subject reigns supreme.
All this means that no American should vote for anyone running on either the Republican or Democratic Party tickets. If Americans truly resent the corporate status-quo which has reduced millions of them to near feudal serfdom, then they should act accordingly and vote for Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party, or any other party that seeks the demilitarization of American life and culture. Only a few million votes of this kind would ensure that someone who deserves to lose, does. Whether that means You-Know-Her or The Donald, makes no difference. First eliminate one of them and then, in the next cycle, eliminate the other. Start impeachment proceedings on the first day of each Republicrat administration. Rinse and repeat with each and every new administration. Ruthlessly thin out the bloated ranks of the senior military officer corps. Close the unnecessary and ruinously expensive overseas military/CIA “bases.” Germany, South Korea, and Japan can certainly afford to maintain such “defense forces” as they truly require against rumored “threats” that they either do not face — like Russia and China — or can easily handle without the American military getting involved and mucking up everything they touch. And so on and so forth. This will take several electoral cycles to accomplish. Time to get started with The Great Purge and Cleansing.
As Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin have pointed out, the studious refusal to debate and investigate the most important reason for our national decline — namely, the American Military and “Security” money-laundering scams — ensures nothing but empty, cynically manufactured illusion and spectacle, like a flight of Air Force jets over a superbowl football game. The Donald understands illusion and spectacle only too well, and has exploited both to the hilt. His adopted Republican Party does not disagree with his nurturing and exploiting of ignorance and nativist fascism, only that his crude exhibitionism makes the exploitation too obvious and potentially self-revealing to its intended victims: us.
As for career military flunkies like General Michael Hayden?
I appreciate your thoughts and wholeheartedly agree with you. I am in the middle of Sheldon Wolin’s book and am also someone who finds Chris Hedges work more than worthwhile. Let the Purge begin.
Can we trade trump to North Korea for a Dictator To Be named Later?
How ’bout we just release him on waivers and see if Mexico picks him up.
I’m not american but I admire trumps courage to front up say what he has to say…america needs a leader and brave enough to get things done. A fighter and a businessman to propel the country once again and not wallow at the side line like Obama has done. You Americans need him to stay on top and the world needs him to counter the greedy, swarming China and the axis of evil like Isis all Qaeda….north Korea….and Iran among others…
All due respect, if you are not an American, you really shouldn’t be telling Americans what they need. I understand sometimes people may think they have a good idea of what’s going on in another country, but unless you live through it everyday, you can’t possible truly grasp that country’s needs or wants. Quite frankly, what I hear from all of Trump’s speeches,debates, etc. is that, should he win, racism, sexism, and bigotry will all be perfectly ok, and even encouraged, again. Nobody from other countries will be able to come to America, whether for vacation, to start anew, or looking for refuge. People will be profiled and harassed by the government just because of insignificant things such as their heritage, religion, race, etc. Finally, Trump will get so caught up in trying to let everybody know how well endowed he is (allegedly) that he will recklessly get us caught up in more wars than you could count on both hands. I would be willing to bet my entire net worth that within 2 years, we would be, if not in full blown war, at least in conflicts with Russia, China, North Korea, maybe Venezuela, and who knows how many countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Quite frankly, again in my opinion, Trump is not qualified to do any of the tasks required of being President of the United States of America. He doesn’t seem to realize that he would be leading a country and making decisions for all of its citizens, not just making investment decisions and trying not to lose more of his father’s money. This is not a game, it is the future of our country, MY country. So, respectfully, if you are not American do not tell us what we need. We are well aware of our true needs.
Very well said….I respect your opinion. As I see it , everyone is entitled to their opinion….including me so you should do the same. I may not be american but who cares…its free to comment. Judging by your sarcastic remarks, you seem to know everything what goes on about your country and I don’t. Well youre probably right. Its so obvious that you are prejudicial towards my comment because I’m not american, well tell you what! This is the kind of attitude, arrogance, superfluous pride that
Makes you hated…and I would very much laugh at your sorry face if he wins…and he will…I’m glad I’m not american !
In the You-Just-Can’t-Make-Up-This-Kind-Of-Shit department, I caught a segment of CNN International here in Taiwan this morning wherein the program host interviewed a gentleman claiming to have worked in “intelligence” for the now-defrocked David Petraeus: the former U.S. Army general who resigned in disgrace as Director of the CIA following disclosures that he had divulged highly classified material to his mistress/biographer. The program host made no mention of this background for the benefit of CNN’s viewers but he did allow the spokesperson for David Petraeus to express his profound distaste for Donald Trump’s now-notorious comments regarding the power of a U.S. president, as commander-in-brief, to order the commission of torture and other war crimes by his military and CIA minions.
To my utter disbelief as the interview progressed, however, behind the vapid face and moving lips of the ostensible “expert” on matters militarily legal and moral, vivid scenes unfolded showing heavily armed U.S. marines and soldiers kicking in doors and invading the homes of middle-eastern persons – probably Iraqis and/or Afghans – in flagrant violation of the U.N. charter and International Law, since the U.S. Congress had not declared war on any of these countries, nor had the UN Security council authorized any such military attack upon them. So, while the so-called “expert” on things militarily moral and legal mouthed his inane slogans and empty euphemisms, the moving pictures behind him put the lie to every syllable he uttered. I do not believe that I have ever seen as perfect an illustration of Orwellian doublethink, the ability to both sincerely and cynically lie at the same time, both to oneself and others.
Not long afterwards, when I logged on to the Internet to view the latest “Crosstalk” program on Russia Today, one of the program participants, Eric Kraus, noted that “What makes the neocons in Washington so scary is their sincerity. They lie to the press and then believe what they read in the papers.” What an apt description of Orwellian doublethink, the staple form of political schizophrenia upon which the U.S. government now depends utterly.
As just one more note, I would like to add the observation that General David Petraeus, as both an Army general repsponsible for Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Director of the CIA unquestionably knew of the torture and war crimes committed by the U.S. military and CIA in numerous middle-eastern countries. As well, he obviously knew about and approved of capturing civilian “suspects” and shipping them to countries like Egypt, Syria, and Libya for those governments to torture for us. And yet none of this — not his knowledge of, ordering of, condoning of, covering-up of, or lying about war crimes and torture — has resulted in any accountability whatsoever. President Obama has admitted that “we tortured some folks,” but nonetheless he says that we should “look forward, not backwards” — by which he means we must not look at the crimes committed nor hold those accountable who committed them.
One can rightfully disparage Donald Trump for his outrageous comments, but one can also, at the same time, understand his wide-eyed innocence in assuming that as President and Commander-In-Brief he could do everything that U.S. presidents and their leading generals routinely do all the time with utter impunity. Hopefully, Donald Trump will continue to stumble and bumble his way into illuminating the rank hypocrisy pervading the corporate U.S. government and military.
Funny Every person in the white house has either agreed or been involved with torturing foreign prisoners and yet keep it quiet or lie about it and yet trump admits he agrees with it and he’s terrible. Let’s not forget about all the Americans killed due to Hillary
First, we need to amend all of our dictionaries as follows: Under ‘consummate ass’, definition: DONALD TRUMP!
My reply is about Mr. W. Astore, retired military officer comments. I think he is right. I am not absolutely sure that Donald trump will become president of the United States. And I am not sure that he is telling the truth and that he will carry out all his threath against innocent people. But his language qualifies him as a would-be dictator. And it is not impossible for a would-be dictator to come to power through a democratic election. It happened in Germany in 1933. If a majority of Americans wish to be run by a tyrant, it means that something is wrong with them. It means that they have lost part of their sanity. In such a case, the rule of the majoritry is not acceptable. The party that accept to be run by a would-be dictator should be outlawed. It is not enough to have the woul-be dictator to speak a more decent language. The man has shown to the face of the world that he can lie at will. No matter what he says in the future, he can never be believed. The people in the United States that have remained sane, even if they are a minority should act now, for their own safety and that of the world. They should ask the military to be ready to assume the power if the republicans are elected with Donald Trump as their leader, then to outlaw the republican party, to facilitate the birth of a new party respecful of the law to run against the democrats, and then to orgaqnize a new election in which hate will not tolerated. I am speaking as a Canadian. In our country it is against the law to hold a heinous language agains any group or person. We have kept the best British traditions, and they protect us against a lot of excesses. Our culture promotes diversity, just as in the United States when the wheels are not blocked by some unwanted material.
My dear Andre – in regard to your bizarre suggestion that the U.S. military assume power and establish a dictatorship in America should Donald Trump become President and Commander-In-Brief, I suggest that you first apply that remedy to your own country’s political system. Then, let us know how you like it — if your military overlords will even allow you to express an independent opinion. Such persons, once in power, rarely ever allow any such thing. We U.S. citizens who prize what remains of our democratic Republic — and not much of value does, I admit — will then make our own decisions based on the evidence provided by your own example. Good luck with that military dictatorship thing. Perhaps you could issue an immigrant visa to retired General Michael Hayden so that he could educate Canadians through his own sterling example of unparalled veracity and unequaled moral virtue.
Again, regarding the “outrageous” comments by Donald Trump to the effect that he would order the U.S. military and CIA to commit egregious war crimes should American voters elect him President and Commander-In-Brief, I refer interested persons to another typically insightful article by Glenn Greenwald, namely: Nobody Knows the Identity of the 150 People Killed by U.S. in Somalia, but Most Are Certain They Deserved It (The Intercept, Mar. 9 2016).
Yes, fellow Crimestoppers, the President of the United States — currently one Barack Obama — has ordered the murder of another 150 foreigners whose identities he does not know, in a country not at war with the United States, for the crime of assembling together for some sort of graduation ceremony — and the U.S. military, those paragons of principled integrity, have dutifully carried out the mass assasination without qualm or quibble. Now I ask you: where could Donald Trump have possibly gotten the absurd, ridiculous, incomprehensible notion that a President of the United States can order the commission of war crimes anywhere on earth, for any reason or no reason at all, with the sure and certain expecation that his uniformed military, private CIA shadow army, dogs-or-war mercenary-thug proxies, and corporate camp followers will happily comply? I mean, where could anybody have gotten such a fantastically immoral, not to mentiion illegal, idea?
I recommend reading the entire article for its many succinct criticisms of American Persidental criminality, but the following — apropos of the poem I wrote above about “Felonious Militlary Age Muslims”– makes me want to scream in disbelief:
“There are numerous compelling reasons demanding skepticism of U.S. government claims about who it kills in airstrikes. To begin with, the Obama administration has formally re-defined the term “militant” to mean: “all military-age males in a strike zone” unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” In other words, the U.S. government presumptively regards all adult males it kills as “militants” unless evidence emerges that they were not. It’s an empty, manipulative term of propaganda and nothing else.”
As much as I agree with what Mr Greenwald has written, he doesn’t go anywhere near far enough in his condemnation of American presidential and military lawlessness. For example, as a lawyer he would most certainly agree that no one has to prove their innocence. Ever. The very basis of law grants the presumption of innocence to everyone as a universal human right. Only those who lodge accusations against others bear the complete burden of proof. To insist that accused persons bear any responsibility for proving their innocence simply has no basis in law and absolutely no basis under the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights enshrines this absolute truism. So the Obama administration’s claim that murdered persons deserved to die unless they can prove why they shouldn’t have had their lives taken from them has to rank as one of the most asinine, patently ridiculous assertions ever made by someone pretending to some acquaintance with the law. I cannot believe that any court in the land would countenance such a bogus and indefensible claim for a moment. And yet U.S. courts say nothing. Hence, as Orwell wrote in 1984:
“In Oceania there is no law.”
Even more absurd, if not clinically insane, is the Obama administration’s claim that murdered persons not only have to prove their own innocence, but must do so after they’ve been murdered. Exacly how does one return from the grave — assuming enough of the incinerated person remains to have warranted a burial — in order to do this proving of assumed innocence that they shouldn’t have to proove in the first place? Obviously one cannot, so that renders the entire presumption of “posthumous proof” moot on its face. What do the empty words “guilty” or “innocent” mean to a person who has already had their unique life and its human possibilities terminated by an arrogant, pompous ass in the U.S., White House? What justice accrues to prematurely and illegally dead persons should they miraculously resurrect themselves so as to resume their interrupted lives on earth as if untimely and unwarranted death had not even occurred? What kind of a country with pretentions to intelligence and culture could entertain for even a moment such incredibly obtuse and manifestly impossible legal presumptions?
Answer: the United States of Absurdity.
So let all American males ages 18 to 55 understand that their own government has now established the “legal” principle that the military forces of any other country may, at the command of its “democratic dictator,” at any time or place, and for no required reason, have them summarily murdered for the following heinous “crime”: BEING OF MILITARY AGE.” And people wonder where Donald Trump gets his “outrageous” ideas.
Yes. I read Greenwald’s article and have been thinking about this, Mike. It’s a manifestation of the WE ARE AT WAR mentality, which apparently can be used to justify almost anything. It’s the culmination of the “Global war on terror.” Somalia is on the globe; there were evil-doers bent on terror (so the U.S. government says); therefore the “terrorists” were smited, end of story.
The problem for any thinking U.S. citizen is: How do we know? We’ve been lied to so often by our government. And when does it end? How many “terrorists” must we smite until we’re “safe”? And how long before the smiting spreads — why shouldn’t China, Russia, and other nations act preemptively to smite their “evil-doers” around the world?
Very few people in the USA seem to care about such questions. Most seem content to accept the government’s story, despite all the past evidence of lies and deceit and blunders and incompetence.
“Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.” ― Graham Greene, The Quiet American
The Dumb American Leper has grown rather noisy over the past several decades, laying waste to entire nations, if not subcontinents. Nevertheless, to hear most Americans describe themselves and their murderous, maniacal government as “innocent” and “well-meaning,” simply beggars credulity. How can a people who have done so much damage still regard themselves as such saints? Echo answers.
Sadly, the brutal reality is that a relatively fixed proportion of Americans (due to a complexity of factors) are incapable and/or unwilling when it comes to “difficult” realizations. And, there are many (who “should know better”) who will twist in pretzels of rationalizations before allowing their “safe” ego-centered world view to be punctured. The internalization of notions of American righteousness or superiority is a significant factor.
That many lack knowledge is, to an extent, understandable. That people are somewhat “programmed” is factorable. But where it really gnaws me is when people are just simply vain, arrogant, hypocritical, or otherwise morally infantile. Kneejerk reaction to criticism of American “deeds” often includes the thought-shutdown of “you just blame America for everything,” or “you’re not a realist.” There comes a point (with the capable) when lack of knowledge is just willful ignorance.
There is no accounting for some things. Why was media cheerleading of “Shock and Awe” instinctively distasteful (and reprehensible) to some, yet a source of glee for others? Human nature is a bitch. I know there was manipulation with the anthrax “scare” and the mushroom clouds (trying to tie-in Iraq with 9/11 and “terrorism” in general), but it was truly mystifying to me that so many Americans in 2003 thought Saddam had something to do with it! Even a cursorily informed consumer of mass media with a nominally functioning intellect at that point shouldn’t have even had that thought in their head.
Anyway Michael, it’s too much for me.
Oh, yes. To add just one more note to your comment, Bill. I suggest that you refrain in future from using the prepositional phrase “at war,” since as you well know, the U.S. Congress has not declared war on another nation-state since 1941. To keep up with the ongoing euphemistic meaninglessness of official American pronouncements, then, I council use of the phrase-du-jour, “at AUMF” (pronounced like “owmph”). So ask instead: “Don’t you know we are at AUMF? (even when we’re not.)
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