Saturday, March 17, 2018

Donald Trump's Great Weakness

Under pressure from President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions just fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.  On the heels of this announcement, Trump's attorney, John Dowd, called on the Justice Department's Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, to close Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump's potential collusion with Russia during and after the 2016 Presidential campaign.  (See  This seemingly heavy-handed announcement could be read to imply that if Rosenstein doesn't close the investigation, he'll be fired. 

But so what?  What if Trump fires Rosenstein, and later engineers the firing of Mueller?  Rosenstein and Mueller could easily become martyrs in the eyes of large numbers of people, and end up making big money at prestigious law firms.  They might also get lucrative book deals and become featured commentators on network television.  Look at what happened when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey:  Comey got a multi-million dollar book deal and a position teaching law (which probably would give him time to write the book). 

But what would happen to Trump if he fired Rosenstein and Mueller?  He would look like a demagogue trying to undermine the rule of law.  He could easily trigger a constitutional crisis, in which there would be considerable pressure on members of his own party to impeach him.  If the Republicans in Congress failed to impeach Trump, they would look weak and ineffectual--just as they usually appear.  Thus weakened, their ability to deliver further on the Republican agenda would diminish.  Trump and his Republican cohorts in Congress would end up flailing around futilely even more than they do now.

Donald Trump's great weakness is he doesn't understand people like Rosenstein and Mueller.  They proceed on the basis of law, truth, principle and integrity.  These concepts are utterly foreign to Trump, who seems to believe that he can use money to solve any problem he has (although the Stormy Daniels contract doesn't seem to be working out so well).  Trump can't effectively deal with Mueller's investigation because he doesn't even begin to understand the rules--in this case, the rule of law.  He threatens, like a fascist dictator, to fire anyone who gets in his way.  But in a nation of law, as America is, Trump can't win because he doesn't want to comply with the law.   He's like a player in a basketball game who wants to move the ball without dribbling and tackle opposing players without being called for a foul.  That's not the way to win the game, and Trump won't win, either.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Russia's Nuclear Missile Defeat

When Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, recently announced an array of new Russian nuclear weapons (see, he unwittingly acknowledged another strategic defeat for Russia.  To be an effective threat, these weapons will have to produced in significant numbers.  Russia is relatively poor nation with a falling life expectancy.  The price of petroleum, its primary export, has fallen sharply in recent years, causing economic contraction.  It has massive environmental problems and a slow birth rate that will lead to the same demographic time bomb that bedevils many nations today. By any reasonable estimation, Russia doesn't have the money for these new weapons.

Putin, like a bad general, is fighting the last war.  For understandable reasons, Russians are paranoid about being attacked militarily by other nations.  They suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, losing 20 million or more people.  But generals who prepare for the next war, not the last one, are the ones headed for victory.  Whether or not Putin believes it, America won't attack Russia militarily.  It will only defend itself, as it did recently when Russian mercenaries attacked U.S. troops in Syria.  The lopsided American victory in that instance should give Putin pause about further military engagement with the United States.  But who knows what goes on in his head.

By diverting large sums of money into weapons technology and the building of a new, large nuclear arsenal, Putin guarantees that his nation will be economically crippled for decades.  The United States won the Cold War because its economy vastly outgrew the Soviet economy, and the Soviet Union no longer had the wealth to maintain its Eurasian empire.  It had to break up and it did.  China is far more powerful than Russia today, not because it has better weapons but because it has a far stronger economy.  America, too, is far more powerful because it is economically way ahead of Russia and widening the gap.  By designing and building more nuclear weapons, Putin has put Russia on the path to another defeat.