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July 24, 2016  - Donald Trump stole the Republican Party, from right under the Republicans.

He stole the Party by never being a committed Republican with core conservative values, but was at times a registered Democrat, or an Independent, with lifelong held values that would be considered....
August 7, 2016 - The latest economic and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers for the major economies were not reassuring. Even the United States which was touted by the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and prominent analysts, as being upon a solid path to recovery (we scratched our heads)... 
Donald Trump
Hazy Outlook

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Donald Trump’s Dummying-Down of America

by Ashok Dhillon on 08/18/16

Donald Trump has caught the attention and adoration of that part of America that does not want to deal with complexity, ambiguity, endless promises, raised expectations, and equally endless disappointments and compromises (the very essence of politics). There is a large enough population in America that does not want to have to think through the complex social, racial, economic, foreign conflicts/defense, and security problems, that America is struggling with currently. To them, Donald Trump’s simplistic - improbable (nay impossible) and mostly silly solutions, have real and understandable appeal. Trump knows his audience and he is catering to their needs, going with the ‘KISS’ principle - ‘keep it simple stupid’. It’s so much simpler and easier than delving into the troublesome details of complex and difficult problems that are in part the ongoing reality of a radically changed World, such as the emergence of countries and societies that can produce widgets and services at a far more cost effective basis, than America can.

As to those problems that are seemingly fixable, such as stemming the flow of people across the southern border, Trump comes up with a simple solution. Build a wall on the southern border, and have Mexico pay for it. Apart from the questionable viability of such a solution to the migrant question from the South, it is practically certain that Mexico will not pay for it. And if Trump is insinuating that America will use its economic clout to threaten and coerce Mexico into paying for it, then he really hasn’t a clue how international political/economic relationships work, and that it is almost always a two way street. It is certain his supporters don’t know how such complex relationships work, and why should they; it’s not their job to know. But it is his. He doesn’t know, but his supporters simply don’t care if he really knows, they just want the problem fixed, and he assures them that he can fix the problem, while making Mexico pay for it. Damn reality.

And so it is with his other popular ‘policy’ statements, such as the outright ban on Muslims, abandoning NATO and the allies (and making the allies pay for protection, just like the Mob), and all the rewrites of international trade agreements, and putting China in its place and making it play fair trade, letting everyone have nuclear weapons as a deterrent from each other, restoring law & order, and of course killing ISIS; among other great policies like “Make America Great Again”, and all this is just for the first term! It is all ethereally light on details but who cares, the man says he can do it, so surely he can.

Trump is already being forced to back-off and modify most of his controversial statements, and he will have to continue to do that with any other silly or crazy stuff he comes up with in the coming weeks of the campaign. The reality is, his supporters surely hear his recantations and back tracking, but ignore them, firm in their belief that he can still make everything alright for them, with no pain, or compromise, and no need for the political and economic systems he promises to disband and dismantle, to bring in the utopian simple system that fixes everything ‘tweet-sweet’, costs nothing, or at the very least, costs far less, somehow, (one cannot know any of the exact details as he never gives an explanation as to how he is going to accomplish such grand designs so easily, and within budget).

Remember the leaders of Brexit? They had convinced their supporters that not only would Brexit not hurt, but that there was plenty of money they would save by not sending it to the EU; that tons of opportunities and money was there after Brexit for Britons to live happily ever after. Well there wasn’t a lot of money (in fact there was none, they had lied) and it did hurt immediately and will continue to hurt for a very long time coming. Both Nigel Farage & Boris Johnson quit the movement right after the win, when the realities of dealing with the fallout had to be faced. Now Britain is stalling the process, and is trying to stay in as long as possible, while more than half the population doesn’t want to leave at all, especially the younger generation (the ‘future’ of Britain). And those that had bought into the simplistic false narrative of Farage and Johnson, some of it based on outright lies, and had voted to leave, now wished they hadn’t.

We are not saying that there were no problems in the EU and that Britain and other member countries had no cause for complaint. But Europe’s most outrageously bold and visionary project had the input of all its member countries in its formation, including England’s. And as the structure and policies of the EU began to go in a direction that England didn’t approve of, or agree to, then tough and perhaps long term negotiations were far preferable to an exit.

The benefits, the free trade zone, and in particularly for the younger Brits, the free movement and open opportunities within all the member countries of the EU was what made membership in the Union so worth it. But, for those ‘ultra nationalist’ leaders like Farage and Johnson, who wanted ‘exit’ on national identity basis, the recovery of full autonomy, fear of being swallowed up into a mass of unidentifiable European countries, and being dictated to by ‘faceless non-elected bureaucrats of Brussels’, who kept exacting more and more cash from England (not accurate) while dictating increasingly invasive regulations to England (true), the fear was so much easier and simpler to sell. 

Negotiating better and more acceptable terms on an ongoing basis, and ‘staying in’, would have been so much more complicated, testing and tiresome, and ultimately so much more beneficial, and in-line with future trends that only the younger generation seemed to get. The older generation scared much easier, and wanted the simpler, albeit the regressive solution, and they got it. It was so much easier to sell fear, protectionism, closing of the borders, non-existent savings and prosperity, and ‘make Britain again’, then deal with hard and complex realities of a ‘Great Britain’ in a changed World.   

Great Britain suffered from an almost immediate ‘morning after’ blues after the Brexit win. Well, we’re afraid that Donald Trump supporters may face a similar post election blues-check, as reality kicks in with a possible Trump win. It will be equally disheartening for his supporters, and painful for America, to find out that like Farage and Johnson, of Brexit fame, Trump had lied to them all along, just to win.

Donald Trump’s campaign has had lots of problems as of late. True to character, he spoke before thinking it through, as to the impact his statements would have on his already questionable image, and his increasingly shaky campaign run.

As he got criticized for his callous and at times outrageous and consistently ill-advised statements, he of course took those criticisms as he normally takes criticisms, badly. And as usual, made matters worse by lashing out defensively at those that pointed out the deficiencies in what he had said. He can’t help himself. He obviously has deep rooted insecurities and the ‘schoolyard bully’ mentality that only knows unrestrained aggression in a supposedly civil (barely) contest. He knows only one way to handle criticism, which is NOT to consider his own behavior that brought on the negative reactions to his statements in the first place, and thereby change his behavior and/or response, but stay true to character and lash out petulantly and personally at the accusers/offenders.

Now dropping in the polls, and being criticized almost universally, including by the leaders and the elite of the Republican Party, of which he is the Presidential candidate, Trump does what one would expect him to do when under pressure, which is to double down on exactly that which is hurting him, from the ‘no policies please we are the Trump campaign’, so-far, to plenty of out-of-control vitriol that he loves to spew unrestrainedly. To ‘flip the bird’ at all those telling him to tone it down, he ups-the-ante and takes on new and more aggressive members into his campaign team, that will pull out all the stops and go on a relentless attack, sans substantive policy issues of-course, ‘to win at all costs’ in the good old fashioned American way. He shuffled aside the existing team members as another bunch that didn’t know how to win (not that he was at fault).

Lately, Trump is trying to convince his supporters (and himself perhaps) that if it wasn’t for the ‘crooked media’ deliberately distorting his words, there wouldn’t be any problems with his campaign. His words always have different meanings when he is called out on them, but it’s never the outrageousness or inappropriateness, or more mundanely, the inaccuracy of his words that is the problem, it’s always someone else’s wrong interpretation or misuse of them.

Trump’s campaign is aimed at the Americans that are tired of trying to figure out all the reasons and solutions to the very real problems they have been facing for years now. These people only want simple and quick solutions to some of America’s most complex and persistent problems, of social and racial divide, gun violence, wealth inequality, and some of the more recent ones such as job losses in manufacturing, R&D, and services to China and other emerging economies, resulting in persistent trade deficits. These people only want to hear that someone is going to fix these problems and don’t want to hear cumbersome explanations as to the depth and complexity of such issues. Trump likes this dummying-down of the election issues, and he loves the ‘just fix it’ crowd.

He likes to address people that will not challenge his simplistic but impossible one sentence or half sentence solutions. People, who he does not have to fear will ask him for explanation and clarification on his nonsensical statements, and won’t pose difficult questions. He caters to a voter base that does not want clear and well thought out policies but just a simple statement that whatever it is - it can be done, no matter how obvious that it can not. They want simple! And he is more than happy to give them simple and thoughtless, to Hillary’s detailed and exhaustive. He revels in and thrives on, a dummied–down America that believes everything can be fixed if someone just goes and does it, not a questioning one that knows the complexities and compromises that face a changing America, in a changed World.

Recurring Attacks in France - Ongoing Insanity of Mass Killings

by Ashok Dhillon on 07/17/16

France has been under sustained terrorist attacks for some time. Recently, a French/Tunisian dual citizen took it upon himself to right the perceived wrongs of France, whatever they may be, by mowing down by a heavy truck and killing 84 people, and injuring over 200, some critically - men, women, and children - as they gathered in Nice to celebrate France’s Bastille Day. 

The attacker must have been convinced he was doing the right and honourable thing and was going to be a righteous martyr for his cause, whatever that cause may have been. His targeting of the general public was deliberate, and obviously remorseless, as he considered them to be an integral part of and inseparable from the State of France and not just innocent people. IF that was the case, it would seem he was condemning France for its war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and perhaps in a larger context, for wars in the Middle East, and thus France's war on Islam. 

This conjecture of ours is just that, conjecture, and not confirmed motive(s). But, the authorities, particularly French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, seem to be drawing just such a conclusion. He has labeled the driver to be a ‘jihadist’ of some sort - more than likely drawing that conclusion from the identity of the (killed) attacker, a 31 year old Muslim man.

However, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a "terrorist without doubt linked to radical Islamism in one way or another".

(We reiterate this allegation is not proven yet).

On the other side, ISIS is just as quick to claim this driver to be an ISIS "soldier" even though from the currently known facts about this man, it does not seem likely he had joined the organization in any formal fashion, but may have been influenced by their claim to be fighting for Islam. 

But in such ideologically inspired battles each side is willing to ignore or distort the facts for gaining any propaganda advantage whatsoever.

France and the World are in mourning for another tragic and senseless mass killing of innocent people. Such attacks are recurring much too frequently in France, America, the Middle East, and in the rest of World.  

This modern day scourge of attacks upon regular citizens in the West, and elsewhere, is not confined to outraged young Muslims bent on exacting revenge for the long decades of war on, and in, Muslim countries; and/or the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslim civilians in those wars, excused as unfortunate but unavoidable collateral damage. These attacks are also not confined to Muslim 'jihadists' but are also perpetrated by non-Muslim Western nationals, angry for some other belief or perceived injustice, or cause, or whatever peeve against society or authority triggers them to attack innocent people in their own countries.

These mass killings are fairly common place in the US, but they also occur in most other countries, to a greater or lesser degree.

The ultra-right wing Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik comes to mind in this context. An ultra right wing, white supremacist, ethno-nationalist who called himself "culturally Christian" but practicing "Odinism", and was against Islam and Marxism, and wanted to rid Europe of all Muslims, and who, to promote his cause(s), detonated a van in Oslo, and shot dead 69 unarmed fellow Norwegians in cold blood at a youth camp.

Many other cases of such behavior are known as fairly regular but random events the World over. But, in the case of mostly young Muslim men and women, carrying out deadly attacks in the West, and in Islamic countries, it has become an all too frequent an event, and in fact an epidemic. 

In the aftermath of all such horrific incidents, the reaction of the relevant governments is quite predictable. They all vow to stamp out this scourge by seeking out all collaborators in the country, and intensifying their war on global terrorism at the source, usually outside the country.

Currently, in light of these terrorist acts, the stamping out is supposedly to be accomplished by the destruction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

But is ISIS really the only source? Long prior to the advent of ISIS, was Al Qaeda (the ones responsible for 9/11, and other most grievous attacks), and prior to that (and currently) perhaps the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, there have always been some source, group or organization, country or cause that has spawned terrorists of one kind or the other, with only one thing that has been constant – the targeting of innocent civilians in the name of some cause that the people being targeted have nothing to do with, at least not directly.

For years there was the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its many factions and faces, and to the British a scourge of bombings, kidnappings, and murder. And in the late 1960s and early 1970s were numerous Western, Asian, and South American groups like: the West German Red Army Faction (RAF); Italian Red Brigades; the French Action Directe; and Spain’s Basque ETA; Japan's Red Army; Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers; Nicaraguan Sandinistas; Peruvian Shining Path; and others in the United States, and still other groups numbering in the hundreds that are listed on government lists of terrorist organizations; and still more whose names, organizations and causes have long been forgotten.

Just about all these groups targeted civilians, government installations and agencies, trains, buses, airplanes, buildings etc. to get maximum casualties and notoriety. The causes were also innumerable and according to the members – just – and worthy of murder, torture and terror. 

Today, the ‘Islamic’ terrorists are the most active and the most lethal. And that maybe because of the wholesale destruction of Islamic countries by the West in the name of democracy, equality, justice, and other worthy causes, such as removal of weapons of mass destruction, and/or evil dictators who were previously our friends, but now for some inexplicable reason are a general threat and danger to the free World.

Many a time, in the aftermath of such attacks it is said by our free World leaders that these attacks are an attack on our cherished Western values, and our superior way of life. That these attackers can't stand our liberal values in the West, our great way of life, and therefore with irrational and unreasonable hate, they want to destroy us.  

That standard accusation unfortunately does not stand the most rudimentary of observations or reasoning, as 'theirs' are sporadic attacks by a few individuals over many years, while we in the West (with the liberal values) have been 'over there' for many decades, manipulating and interfering with their politics, raiding their resources, and in recent decades waging full war upon them. We have caused wholesale destruction of their countries, and inflicted mayhem and death on the citizens. These attacks may be a bit more than 'they' not liking our liberal values. 

On the whole, horrific, and evil as these attacks in France and elsewhere are, they pale in comparison to the wholesale slaughter carried out by our governments and armed forces, for decades, in the name of – ‘western values of democracy, equality, justice, security of the World’, etc.

In light of such one sided bias, are these really attacks on our value systems and our way of life? Or are these attacks, the action taken by outraged people who see our destruction of their countries and cultures as horrific attacks on their way of life, their values, culture, religion, and most critically, unjustified wars declared on their countries and on innocent populations? Our "war on terror" did not confine itself to known and proven terrorists, but was war on entire countries and their populations, often those that had little to do with the attacks upon us.

When tens (even hundreds) of thousands of innocent civilians get killed, men, women, children, in the years of endless air raids (bombers, jets, and drones) and ground attacks (assault troops, tanks, missiles) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and now Syria, and we in the West don’t even blink, but callously put it down to unfortunate ‘collateral damage’, we dehumanize them and their ability to feel deep anger, grief and despair.

Their hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, infrastructure, power plants, water treatment plants, roads, shops, houses, cities, entire countries get targeted and decimated (and we get to watch it all on television in real time) and we do not feel enough horror, disbelief or outrage, and we certainly don't grieve enough for them. Would we be so accepting if the roles (God forbid) were reversed?

We do not stand up for their rights. In fact, by and large we are all quite callus to their decades of misery, and the destruction of their countries, homes and their lives.

Now, as so many of them flee these devastated areas and countries, trying to escape with their shattered lives, we in the West find them to be a nuisance, an irritant, a topic of discussion for our political debates and policies. And through it all, we allow our governments to carry on waging war on these people and countries, who never really were a credible threat to us all. In fact, many of these countries (and their rulers) were an ally or friends of the West, when it suited us to call them friends. 

With this wholesale destruction being carried out year after year, and to the West it is only strategic resource calculations and overall global maneuverings (as these countries are no  threat), we cannot possibly imagine the sense of outrage that people of such countries and cultures must feel towards us. These increasingly frequent suicidal attacks are manifestations of that despair and outrage, and not attacks on our value systems. In fact, our values and way of life are what most young people across the World want, and aspire to. 

Instead of making available those opportunities, we send them endless war, usually on trumped up charges.

We have a strange way of demonstrating our value system of freedom, democracy, equality and justice for all, by holding them to a different standard, and holding ourselves to an entirely different standard of perpetual war on them, but peace for us.

If we want these 'jihadist' attacks to stop, we will have to stop attacking them wholesale as countries, there are too many innocent people in the way. We will need to only attack and destroy actual known terrorists. Surely with our ultra sophisticated technology, intelligence (cough) and superior fighting skills, we can take down terrorists without taking down entire countries and populations. 

As for the other non 'jihadist' mass shootings and killings, taking place ever more frequently in America, and elsewhere, those issues need a whole different analysis and approach. 

Vote Brexit - And WE All Fall Down!

by Ashok Dhillon on 07/05/16

The way the top British political leadership has been falling down, on both sides of the Brexit vote, since the vote, triggers the nursery rhyme in one's head: Ring-a-ring o' roses, A pocket full of posies, A-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down!' (one of many versions of the rhyme).

And of course, the post Brexit situation regarding England itself, also reminds one of the other famous children's rhyme of Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall and having a great fall, and none of the King's horses or men being able to put it back together again. Currently, Britain seems to fit these descriptions of leadership and national shortfalls very well. 

That the Country was going to suffer damage if the 'Leave' campaign won, was entirely predictable, and to a large degree anticipated. What was not anticipated was the sudden and unthinkable abdication of duty from the key political leaders of the Remain and Leave sides. 

At the most critical moment of danger in the Country's recent history, the fact that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, quit (understandable but not ideal), and, that the two most influential and critical leaders of the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, also quit, was simply unthinkable.

This collective abdication of responsibility, in such an immature manner, was not expected from the hereto respected Country and leadership of the once 'Great Britain'.

Post Brexit, Britain faces a crisis of political and economic uncertainty, and a crisis of identity and confidence. The cumulative damage from those dangers are already exacting a heavy price in the form of internal political and social turmoil, and a trashing of its venerable currency the Pound-Sterling (at a 31 year low), and the undermining of its financial and real estate markets. And this is just the beginning of the political, social and economic damages to come. 

As uncertainties mount regarding the way forward, and the negative impact of Brexit becomes more fully quantified, Britain could experience fairly severe damage to its political and economic standing in the World, at least in the near and mid-term.

It was precisely at this time, and for precisely this reason that the Country needed its most influential, dynamic and experienced leaders, from both sides of the question, to step up and provide the leadership that was needed, to guide the damaged nation to a safe harbour, wherein long-term repairs could have been initiated and undertaken. Not Leave a gaping hole! Instead, they all fell down.

~ Ashok Dhillon
   Editor in Chief