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Posts published in “Day: August 16, 2016”

When Burnim Woods to Dunsinane Might Come


As I listened and watched the Republican’s proposed leader of the free world rail at his faithful minions and promise them millions and millions of dollars in tax relief, new jobs, cheaper trade, and better health care. As I heard of his intention to up-end and renegotiate all of our foreign trade arrangements, to reorganize NATO, to re-examine our relations with Putin, and to have heart to heart talks with all of our allies who he thinks might owe us money.

And as I watch the polls come crashing down, shifting into double digits in some areas and turning other regions purple that have not seen a tinge of blue for 30 years. And as I watch Hillary’s ground game begin to swell and her advertising fill the airwaves, and learn that he has none. No game. No ads. Nothing organized, nothing planned and no money to start.

And as I watch, the Republican movers and shakers literally begin to twist in the wind, with all up on bicycles pedaling backwards as fast as they could, with ashen faces and blank looks, some heading for the exits, others beginning to mutter and plan.

There came to my mind the noble Thane of the days of the Bard, with his frustrations as his world began falling apart around him. How apt the words spoken then are today, of this potential leader of the free world, this standard bearer of Republicans, as the words spill forth, first of Hillary, then of the 16 stalwart companions he defeated to get to this position, and finally to himself and this predicament he finds himself in, with a speech just given that was scripted for him by others, and which he was forced to deliver verbatim as written, and which he so obviously disdains.

And as he wonders who amongst them will claim his head to display for all to see, as others in times gone by claimed the head of Macbeth and held it high.

Can’t you all see him pacing and pacing and as these heavy words come so finally crashing forth?

(Of Hillary)

“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.”

(Of his campaign)

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,”

(Of the 16 wannabes he vanquished in the primaries)

“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”

(And finally, of himself, his campaign, and the results of his reading what others have written for him …)

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”


Trump 85: Surveillance


This ought to give us some pause about anyone we entrust with the job of president: They will have at their disposal the most sophisticated and sweeping surveillance network the world has ever known, getting more elaborate by the day.

We know what the law is, but realistically, on a day to day basis, we're reliant on having a president who will to some reasonable degree at least exercise enough self-control not to put that system to use for bad reasons. We can debate what the outer margin of that may be, but we could at least say that it should not include the use of the system for anything less than serious national security reasons. There are laws in theory restricting how that system might be used, but in practice, if an order comes down from the White House . . .

If you say that giving this kind of surveillance power to anyone makes you uneasy, join the club. There is at least some reason to believe, though, that at least in recent years, as the system developed the sweeping capacity to grab, store and analyze great masses of communications has come into place, in the last quarter-century or so (the technology was simply less advanced before that), the presidents over this time - Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - seem to have shown some restraint in using it.

Some restraint. An article in Vox has pointed this out too: "The NSA, of course, is supposed to focus these resources on hostile foreign governments and terrorist groups. But in principle, a future president could turn those capabilities inward, using them to spy on domestic political opponents, journalists, and activists. As we learned during the early years of the George W. Bush administration, there are few practical limits on the president’s surveillance powers. When lawyers advised Bush that a proposed dragnet surveillance program exceeded the NSA’s authority under the law, the president ordered the NSA to do it anyway."

Anyone coming into the job is legitimately the subject of some concern in this area. But so far as we know, Hillary Clinton, who was in a position to have pressed for abuse of the system if she'd sought it, never did. There isn't evidence of abuse in periods when it could have occurred.

We have no such experiential base to draw on with Donald Trump. The main cause for worry might simply be his shoot from the hip style, his lack of an internal governor stopping the execution of a bad idea.

But there is a little more. Every so often, in his speeches and other public places, you see an indication of the itchy trigger finger, the willingness to, as Nike promotes, Just Do It.

In a rambling answer to a question about who hacked the email server of the Democratic National Committee, he remarked, "Honestly, I wish I had that power. I’d love to have that power."

Yeah, he probably would. Which is why he shouldn't. - rs