U.S. Cyber Action vs. NK Missiles?

We have witnessed a new approach to North Korea’s Kim Jung Il and it has been a decidedly more daring approach…we seem to be daring him to try more launches.  If that is what we’re doing, then we must think/know we can affect those future launches to protect our assets.

We used the Stuxnet virus on Iran to alter the curve on their nuclear program development and send it back to the ‘dark ages’ in that area.  We seem to be daring Kim Jung Il to “go ahead, try another launch; give us your best shot”.  If that is what we’re doing, it probably will work since he is not the most stable and thoughtful leader in the world today.

Notably, the last attempt by Kim saw the missile blow up shortly after lift-off.  That coupled with some indications from our side that we just might have such a capability seems to be part of this latest puzzle posed by the despot leader of North Korea.  There are other things that could be in play, also.  Tools such as long range lasers are possibly in play or even satellite-based actions have been talked about, too.

We understand that we’ll not know about this for obvious reasons.  If we have such capabilities, we don’t want to share that news with other countries.  Leaving our potential enemies wondering is probably the best defense we could hope to have.

We have more strategic force on its way to this part of the world, and our leaders have made no attempt to dissuade people who believe that additional military actions are on the docket.  That could simply be us playing with whatever mind Kim has remaining at his disposal, or it could be that we are going to flatten his development effort.  Maybe the use of the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) in the Middle East was a double-edged sword; maybe it set an example there and served as a deterrent threat to North Korea.  We have other MOABs in our inventory.  Much of the military development core in North Korea is supposedly underground.  Sounds like a good fit.

The people of North Korea do not deserve what they have for a leader, but that is beyond our ability to undo without the use of assets that could bring harm to some innocents.  None of us really want that to occur, but weighing the options versus the possibilities for harm to us might make the decision an easier more clear-cut decision.  Our current President does not seem to have a problem deciding what to do and when to do it.

China obviously shares a border with North Korea.  We are certainly cognizant of that, and we know how terribly dependent we are upon China’s good feelings toward us (which also serve them extremely well).  But, there may well be a concern on the part of China’s leaders that this next-door neighbor could easily go off against them either intentionally or accidentally.  There also could be residual effects on parts of China depending on how we choose to handle this situation.  It is highly unlikely that we will initiate actions against North Korea without having messaged that intent to China prior to taking the action.

There is an even greater danger for the people of North Korea very few of whom have any blame in this situation, but one has to ask just how much more they could be forced to suffer than is already demanded of them.  That is good and unnecessary given other assets we have available.  The population of North Korea has little access to the power grid so we might decide that would be where we’d prefer to cause damage.  Without computers and the electrical grid, North Korea would be rendered virtually weaponless presuming we have other capabilities up our sleeve such as have been rumored.

We likely have the means to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and we probably could convince China to sit quietly by as we undo the regime in North Korea which has to have caused them concerns as well.  If they prefer, we could literally partner with China to make all this happen.  They would have as much or more to gain if they participated and among that would be the good will of the rest of the world.

One thing is certain: we, the world, need to handle this problem sooner rather than later.

Trump’s First 100 Days…

This seems the test applied by the news corps for every new President, and it is probably even more important for President Trump than others.  He has been a breath of fresh air from my perspective.  True, there are some rough edges, but I have been pleased with his accomplishments to this point.

Justice Gorsuch represents one of the great moves he has made.  Trump has not been awed by the Oval office nor has he let all the ‘advisors’, whether asked or simply volunteering their advice, dissuade him from his core beliefs.  He has, essentially, shown he is a solid person in spite of the persona he has sometimes cultivated in his business dealings.

President Trump found a lot of issues needing attention from Day 1 forward and he has dealt effectively with each of those issues from the very start.  He has engaged Russia, China, Israel, etc. and done so with a feeling of authority and competence in every situation.

Congress, in his first 100 days, has been a disappointment but that has been largely the result of the Democrats planting political landmines where ever possible and as often as possible, and renegade Republicans seeking to make names for themselves no matter the cost.  His selection of Gorsuch and his powering that through Congress shows that he can and will do so in other situations, as well.  In fact, I think he has shown his opposition in Congress, as well as some reticent Republicans, that he is not to be toyed with without consequences being involved for those playing the games.

Public sentiment has seemingly been solid from Day 1, and there is no sign that is weakening.  If anything, the public’s opinion has been growing more favorable each week.  The press still seems intent on making him stumble, but they need to heed the fact that he is pretty good on his feet.

I have been quite surprised with his grip on the world issues he inherited, and his ideas as to solutions in those situations.  The ease with which he stepped into the issues of the world at large likely stems from his worldwide business initiatives and his friendships and acquaintances made in that capacity.

These first 100 days have pointed up some of the issues that exist with members of the Republican Party that are petty, personal political issues of those who were never fans of President Trump.  I won’t mention names but you know who they are.

The Democrats have tried their best and have probably slowed some of the potential initiatives that President Trump would advance.  They have, in my opinion, gotten dangerously close to showing they care more about themselves than they do about Americans.  Democratic leadership needs to come to grips with reality lest they damage their own careers as well as their party.  They look petty in the process.

President Trump seems to have been most comfortable in world affairs given his business dealings worldwide.  He put on that role like it was a pair of well-worn shoes he’d had for years.  He has had a business presence worldwide, so that served him ably.

Congress has been the source of some complaints laid at President Trump’s feet but that will subside as the months pass.  The Dems will always seek ways to derail or at least delay Trump’s initiatives.  That is how they see their roles as the opposition.  Unfortunately, they give more credence to their roles as the opposition than they sometimes do to those things that are good for the country simply based apparently on political spite.  Trump has been pretty good about chiding the Dems when necessary, too.

I voted for President Trump since he, even with his issues, was so much better than the Democrats’ candidate even though it was ‘her turn’ to occupy the office her husband had held.  I cast that ballot with some trepidations, but I have been very favorably impressed with his ease of entry onto the world stage.  There may be things that happen as we all go forward together that will be more challenging for him, things like North Korea’s child-like dictator being miffed, but I think the world will find itself embarrassed if it simply assumes that this President is not capable of handling his office.

Were I on active military duty today, I would be much more comfortable with President Trump than with many of his predecessors, no matter their party affiliation, being my Commander-in-Chief.  I think we see that in the images of the men and women in uniform whenever he is in their midst.

The first 100 days have passed very quickly and seem to have passed smoothly.  President Trump has stepped up to issues that had laid in wait from the last Administration.  He has done very well in his first 100 days.  I hold hope for this President going down in history as one of the best we’ve had, but I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.

I believe each of us who voted for this man can be quite pleased with what we got for that vote.

Bill O’Reilly: In, Out or Who Cares?

Bill O’Reilly has made himself a lot of money with his gig on Fox News and his series of books…”Killing This” and “Killing That”.  Certainly, there may also be public appearance money sloshing around, too.  But it seems he is at the end of the trail vis a vis Fox News if the rumors are to be believed.

The most often heard rumors have either Dana Perino or Tucker Carlson taking over the seat if O’Reilly is moved out.  Tucker Carlson is a bit too smug for my taste but he is smooth and he is easy to watch.  I’ve liked Dana Perino since I first saw her.  I don’t know why, but I have not wavered in my liking of her.  I am, however, not so sure she is ready for this kind of spot.  Getting tabbed for this spot could be the worst thing that could’ve happened to her at this point in her career.  Is she ready or is this still a bit premature?  This might be a lesser-of-evils choice in the making.

The rumors concerning O’Reilly may or may not be true.  If the Fox News Board moves to remove him today, as is expected, he will be presumed to have committed some kind of a no-no.  Everything being heard right now says he will be gone by tonight.  I have not been able to become a real O’Reilly-liker, and I’ll not be terribly disappointed if I do not have to watch him.  His smugness was off-putting.  His self-congratulating “I told you so” looks into the camera got old fast.

If O’Reilly is dumped, what will that mean for him in terms of his career as well as in terms of his potential for being sued for big bucks if these rumors prove to have been sufficient to get him ousted?  One would think that the old bromide of “where there is smoke, there is fire” would be in play in this situation.  That outside forces would’ve teamed up to get him ousted seems a real reach.  If it happens, I’ll have to presume that he did it to himself.

How will this, if it comes to pass, effect Fox News?  It may result in a bump in viewers who have either not been Fox News followers or who have shied away due to O’Reilly’s style.  I have been a Fox News follower because I think it is less liberal than any other outlet.  I have had some concerns where I didn’t think it to be conservative enough as you might’ve felt to be the case from the immediately preceding sentence.  But regular readers would likely expect that would have been the case.  Fox News can sound conservative simply by comparison to its competition.  That doesn’t mean it always has been true to the conservative cause.

One thing is probably for certain, the liberal media outlets, which basically is all of them, will see this as a victory for themselves.  They will be mistaken but that won’t help or hurt their ratings.  They have a group of viewers/listeners that will always want their version of the news.

Updated @ 2:15PM:  O’Reilly out per Fox News a few minutes ago.

Trump’s Tax Return Release?

The tax return release issue is dogging President Trump, maybe rightfully so since he has said that he will do so.  Originally there was the ‘issue/excuse’ of his being audited; some believed that was the case while others thought it simply a convenient dodge.  Audit or not, he should honor his word; if he doesn’t, he will pay a price in public opinion polls and that could hurt in the event he runs for a second term.  It will certainly be a favorite launchpad for his critics.

I can recall a member of Congress from Texas who started his career as a grade school teacher, became our President and who left public life a wealthy man owning a string of television stations in Texas.  Those kinds of ‘success’ stories beg for some level of public disclosure, if not an investigation.  We don’t pay members of Congress that well…and if we do maybe there need to be some changes in their compensation package in addition to the element of full disclosure.

Maybe this is the time for President Trump to personally and preemptively take this discussion to the nation. Maybe it is time for him to say that he has asked Congress to set a requirement that all public officials elected/reelected to a seat in Congress, or higher office, in the future, release their tax returns for the past decade, and that he has requested this be applied retroactively and uniformly to all current members of Congress as well as to the President and Vice President through a bill passed by this Congress.

I would expect that such a pronouncement, made as President Trump releases his returns as he promised, would bring some of the members of Congress to high dudgeon.  Sen. Schumer (D-NY) would have spittle flying in a hurry claiming this was simple retaliation for him insisting the President keep his promise, etc. etc.  That might well be true, but it also would place Congress directly in the spotlight, a spotlight that members would not relish especially at a time when we tend to have suspicions whether or not founded.

This would be essentially making Congress take its own medicine or looking to be guilty of something needing to be hidden from the light of day.  Might there be some turn-over in Congress of those who refused to make public their tax returns?  Yes, except refusal to comply would certainly add emphasis to the assumption that person had something to hide rather than that he or she was simply standing on precedence, etc., etc.  They can comply and run again or not comply and be thought of however their constituents would prefer.

This is the kind of thing that one might expect President Trump to announce as his goal at the same time he makes public his returns for X period of time.  This would also provide him the opportunity to fine-tune the proposal so that there could remain an element of privacy for certain things that might’ve been extraordinary, even as those things were disclosed to the IRS in keeping with tax regulations.  This would also be a stroke of political genius as a stick-in-the-eye for certain members of Congress who feel they’re above such requirements.

After all, that old saw “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” has a distinct element of basic truth to it.  It is something that we ‘commoners’ could understand, and I think it would be very well-received by the general public even though it might make a few seats become available if sitting members decided to avoid this disclosure for whatever their reason.  Even that decision would be exposed to the light of day, as well.

This would be a “Trumpian” move if ever there were such a move.  I suspect there would be a groundswell of public support instantly, and that support would likely grow over time.  It would help the voters sift and sort, and it would restore any lost luster to the Congress whose members would be seen as being treated like the rest of us.  It might result in new blood which is probably not a bad idea on its face.  We seldom remove a member of Congress, either in the Senate or the House so I doubt this would bring a huge change in the experience level of Congress generally.  If it did, so be it; maybe that was necessary and necessitated by such a move.

I can visualize the press conference in the White House as this were laid out for public consumption.  This might be of such a nature as to bring President Trump out to meet with the press, to demonstrate he has nothing to hide by disclosing his returns and by telling the nation he expects that of every member of the U.S. Congress.

This would be a “Trumpian” moment that would live for decades in public lore.  Worth considering, Mr. President!

 

Boston Marathon…Safe & Secure?

The Boston Marathon gets underway a few short hours from now; the preliminary events are already underway.  I don’t know about you, but among my first thoughts having recognized this was the day of the Marathon had to do with terrorism.  We in America have become accustomed to at least having to give some thought to the possibilities of problems.  That is precisely what terrorists have desired and strived to make happen.

To our credit, we have not gotten into the habit of canceling such events as has sometimes occurred overseas.  We have, however, engaged in tactics that were distant thoughts a decade or so ago.  The idea of having heavy trucks loaded with earth in place as barricades at critical points has gotten to be standard procedure.

Many of us have become accustomed to actually looking at our pathways and being more cognizant than we used to be…back in the good old days when we had virtually no concerns about terrorism.  Those ‘good old days’ go back about a decade or so.  This all ties in with talk of border security and welcoming foreigners to America as they seek better lives for themselves and their children.  We have had some exposure since the buildings collapsed in NYC but nothing so bad as the quite regular occurrences we see today in Europe.

My patterns have changed as I’ve written in the past.  I have ideas of where I’d turn if something were to occur that put me in danger.  I have formed the habit of keeping an eye on my surroundings and the people in that area.  That habit may be worth nothing if there is never a need for the options, but I don’t know that and I’m trying to remind myself to always be aware of surroundings.  Sure, I slip sometimes but usually remind myself before too much time has passed.  I have never been entirely comfortable in large crowds so this is just a bit of an expansion of those feelings.

We appear to have a good President this time so far as our personal protection is concerned.  He has tightened our procedures and processes.  He is doing enough that liberals are uncomfortable.  That is a good gauge in my world.  Conservatives have always been labeled as being too controlling as compared to liberals.  That is a good way to be thought of in this time of unrest, terrorist activities, and borders that are not impenetrable.

So far as liberals vs. conservatives, there is a reason for the difference on this issue.  The majority of immigrants who come into our country and who become citizens tend to vote for liberals since they have the idea that it is the liberals who give them benefits that conservatives would not provide.  The long and the short is that liberals ‘buy’ those votes with programs that provide benefits.  Conservatives care but get no credit for caring.  Our form of caring is that of equipping the immigrants to make good lives for themselves in our country.

The press has, in my opinion, been complicit in this process by neglecting to mention the differences between the two major parties on this issue.  Conservatives deport bad actors; liberals ignore and forgive thus creating more bad actors since they always seem to be the ones that ‘win’ when their counterparts look at these situations.  Mexican immigrants with families still in Mexico tend to take their earnings minus what is absolutely needed for their survival and send that money to Mexico to support their families left behind.  I have no big problem with that so long as the immigration is done legally and within the norms we establish.  That does, however, suck tens of millions of dollars out of our economy annually.

This may very well have contributed to the numbers of Americans living primarily on welfare for a couple of reasons.  The jobs they might’ve been qualified to do have been taken by others willing to work for less per hour, and the Democrats have made it quite possible for this to continue given welfare programs and tax policies.  We have only to look at the south side of Chicago to see how well that works.  It has become an armed bastion with hundreds of murders annually.  No wonder the former President does not want to return to his home city.  And Mayor Rahm Emanual, a solid Dem, so far seems to have found no solutions.

We have only to look at the most recent election cycle to see what might well have caused this historic shift.  The vast amount of this country is now geographically ‘conservative country’ with the exception of the major population centers that remain ‘liberal country’.  That, as discussed before, shows the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who apparently foresaw such a shift being possible.

Stay safe and stay conservative…and talk to your friends who’ve yet to make the switch.

Holy Saturday. NK Nuke Test Day?

The despot who also poses in his ‘day job’ as the leader of North Korea has made threats about something happening today, and the world, both non-free and free, awaits the arrival of this day and whatever it is that Kim Jung Un decides to do to make a ‘splash’.  This psychopath, who ruthlessly rules his part of the Korean peninsula, has proved before that the only thing certain about him is his unpredictability.

So the United States has brought more naval power to the region and has attempted to work with the other countries in the area to mount a united front likely without the support of China…although China has much to lose if North Korea goes off the deep end and actually detonates a nuke weapon as it has threatened.

This is much akin to being between a rock and a hard place for us, for China and for all the countries in that area.  Kim is deranged and is the perfect example of someone who ought to be eliminated permanently for the good of the world.  That is easier said than done.  The North Korean people will suffer no matter what we do or don’t do about Kim.  Who or what would follow if we took Kim out at the knees?  That might prove to be worse although that is difficult to imagine.

I suspect that China would step in immediately given that North Korea is its next door neighbor and that they share a common border.  The U.S. has interests in that area certainly including the people of South Korea.  If China takes over the northern end of the peninsula, how long would it be before it took over the rest?

What would President Trump do?  With an increased naval force in the vicinity would he feel compelled to show that the U.S. also believes it has a stake in the region?  How would our trade relationship with China be affected?  Presume they called their loans to the U.S., and that we had no ability to simply pay off that debt (which we don’t).  What happens next?  We squeeze them and they squeeze us.  Elephants dancing cause a lot of disturbance for the mice that try to stay out of their way.

Situations such as this show us just how little would be necessary to cause a major, virtually worldwide, conflagration.  It also points up the relative lack of actual authority possessed by the United Nations.

Is it likely that China will consult the U.N. before taking action?  Is it likely that the U.S. will do more other than possibly notify the U.N. of an impending action a few minutes before a strike?  What happens to the neighboring countries in that area?  Does the U.N. see the necessity for it to engage somehow?

The world could be changed overnight, either for the better or for the worse.  Would the killing of Kim do anything much to change the situation?  It might slow the process but a replacement for Kim from North Korea would not make much of a difference, at least in the short term.

We in the U.S. sail blissfully along without much thought for these potentialities.  We seem a long distance away from the scene.  Our world seems safe for the foreseeable future…and we have stuff to do today and tomorrow and next week.  ‘Never mind’ as Mad magazine used to say.

Our world has shrunk in all senses.  Weapons can be launched from one side of the world to destroy the other side of the world.  Economic chaos could envelop the entire planet in a matter of weeks or months.  What had been worldwide peace, such as it is, could become a worldwide conflagration.  We and others have the weaponry to make that happen and all that would take is for a madman or woman to make the wrong decision.

Hair triggers of one kind or another exist around the world and some trigger fingers are itchier than others.  They might be economic hair triggers or nuclear hair triggers.  North Korea simply points up the relatively short time span that would be required for the planet to be fully engaged in war, either as antagonists or protagonists or relatively innocent bystanders.

We all would be wise to remember the fragility of this planet and the life that exists here.  We all would be wise to engage in prayer that wo/men in positions of power would come to their senses before pulling that trigger.  An unstable peace is far better than all-out conflict.  It would not, unfortunately, be unthinkable anymore for such an outcome.  We are already in the unstable peace era.  It is not unthinkable when we see the likes of the North Korean leader.

Ideally, calmer more reasoned God-fearing minds would prevail.  At least they have for the most part to now.  A sad reminder at Easter time that this is, indeed, the right time to make amends with our Lord.

Words With vs. Without Actions…

We have seen the difference that ‘words without actions’ and ‘words with actions’ can make in the world.  We are witnesses to this quite simply when we compare the words with actions of our current President to the words with a lack of actions by our immediate past President.

President Obama made all kinds of pronouncements but failed to display what might occur if those pronouncements were not heeded.  The bad actors in this world are very quick to pick up on those not-so-subtle subtleties.  The press often fails to see those differences or, if they do see them, they fail to note the importance of the difference.

Eight years of former President Obama had a sum total of zero uses of ‘rhetoric accompanied by actions’ if the rhetoric wasn’t effective standing alone.  President Trump appears to be nearly on the exact opposite side of that scale.  He has made use of weaponry to enforce his warning statements to bad actors on the world stage. Bashar Assad ignored words and found himself minus one airfield and a bunch of weaponry.  The ISIS dudes who were in the ‘safety’ of their underground tunnel lair are likely now in their self-created graves courtesy of a MOAB explosive device.

MOAB stands for ‘Mother-of-all-Bombs’ and it sure looks to be an accurate description for weaponry that is non-nuclear.  This weapon was designed for such needs and has been ignored until a few days ago when President Trump made the decision to send a real strong message to ISIS.  The MOAB is said to be the most powerful bomb in our arsenal short of a nuke device.  It also has a sister that is designed for maximum penetration prior to detonation so it can reach far deeper into the ground or a building complex before it goes ‘boom’.

Certainly, we cannot go around blowing everything up.  But, we can go much further with our diplomatic outreach if there is the knowledge that, pushed too far, we can be a tough adversary.  This ought to, if anything can, help the North Korean head-of-state better understand the ramifications of the use of weapons against his neighbors.  He may not be sane enough to grasp this and make the proper connections to comprehend that his belligerence has consequences.  He may not see that subtle connection, however, his supporters in the region, China maybe, will be able to easily make the connection and ideally would help him better understand.

President Trump is further establishing himself as anything but a toothless tiger.  He is showing that lines drawn are drawn to be observed if there is to be no further action.  This is anything but a subtle defense.  Even if the leader it is aimed at is unable or unwilling to recognize the potential consequences, there are others in that leader’s circle of influence who will recognize and, ideally, counsel.

It is nothing short of amazing to witness the differences a few months of this new President have made as compared to the eight years of a leader who wouldn’t consider pulling the trigger.  This has to be driving the political opposition crazy, but it is simply the reality of the world today.  President Trump has come at about the right time for a man of his “my words are backed by actions if necessary” positions.

We needed a man of words coupled with actions when necessary.  His business background is very much a part of this man of action character.  He has put his money where his mouth is in effect by showing that those words are going to be backed up by actions if ignored.  This is essentially a ‘sea change’ when compared with our most recent previous President who had nothing but his eloquence in his bag of tricks.  This is creating a new level of diplomacy impact.  Our words are now backed by actions if and when required.  There ought to be no question about that from this point forward.  If there is any question, and someone somewhere wants to find out for sure if there is any ‘there’ there, this is the President that will help them better understand.

The difference in the prior eight years as compared to what we can predict will be the case in the coming four to eight years is very significant especially for all the other world powers.  President Trump has established where that red line is and has proved there are consequences if it is ignored.