One Nation, Divisible

 

Just when you think the establishment GOP couldn’t sink any lower…

Republican senators Johnson, Lankford propose making Juneteenth a federal holiday and dropping Columbus Day

In response to bipartisan efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and James Lankford have proposed eliminating a different federal holiday “in exchange.”

The choice?

Columbus Day.

“We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange. We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated, and least disruptive to Americans’ schedules,” Johnson, of Wisconsin, said in a statement Wednesday.

Johnson and Lankford of Oklahoma will be seeking to amend a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

This is the “Republican” response? What happened to all of that standing athwart history stuff?  This isn’t standing athwart; it’s running over with a steamroller.  What could possibly be conservative about this?

Johnson said adding to the number of federal holidays would give federal workers an additional day of paid leave and increase the government’s costs. He called his amendment a “counter-proposal that does not put us further in debt.”

Oh this.  Gotcha.

The further we get from the civil war and slavery, the more enflamed we become by it.

In the continued undoing of e pluribus unum, The NFL makes its contribution.

NFL will play Black national anthem ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before each Week 1 game

Starting with the nationally televised regular-season opener between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black national anthem, will be performed before every Week 1 kickoff, before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” according to a person familiar with ongoing discussions. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because plans have not yet been finalized and announced by NFL officials.

I’ll freely admit my ignorance that there even is a “Black National Anthem.”  I also don’t know the American Indian, Hispanic, or LGBTQWERTY national anthems either, but I’ve a feeling I’ll be educated on that soon enough.  And as for the “White National Anthem,” would that be The Star Spangled Banner?  Serious question I’m afraid.  I’ve no idea if we are still one country anymore, or if we’ve already spun off into our identity groups fighting over the spoils.

The George Floyd effect may turn out to be the most socially significant movement in American history, not the least because it seems to be effectively ending US history.  When everything that happened the day before yesterday becomes verboten, and we no longer even aspire to be one country, what holds us together?

Something to think about this July 4th; when greater and greater numbers of the nationality formerly known as Americans look at the flag and think, “not my country,” and “not my independence day.”  Of course, this is a wave of hysteria and the tide could well break  and thing return to something close to normal, but the longer it goes on, the more we’re looking at a new normal, when everyone has their own independence day, holidays, and carefully nurtured grievances.

Happy Independence Day.  I hope the next one is better than this one, or that there simply is a next one.

 

“Defund the Police!”

Trying to parse the policy preferences of a mob is difficult at best. “End Racism,” or “Equality Now” tell me nothing about how to achieve that.  During the civil rights era, there were marches to end specific practices or support specific legislation.  This?  Who knows…

Well wait, there actually is one policy suggestion I’ve seen in the many images and videos of these protest/riots:

I think it goes without saying that defunding the police is, in a wheelbarrow of stupid ideas, one of the stupidest.  Even during the Obama era, during the Ferguson and Baltimore riots, there were no calls to do that.  But luckily, Democrat and leftist politicians are too canny to do anything so dumb…

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Officials Cutting $100 Million-$150 Million From LAPD Budget, Funds To Be Reinvested In Communities Of Color

“We will not be increasing out police budget,” said the mayor. That allocation is pegged at $1.8 billion in the mayor’s previously proposed budget.

Garcetti spoke of “reinvesting in black communities and communities of color.”

The mayor proceeded to announce $250 million in cuts to the proposed budget and to reallocate those dollars to communities of color, “so we can invest in jobs, in education and healing.” L.A. Police Commission President Eileen Decker then announced that $100 million-$150 million of those cuts would come from the police department budget.

L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez made it official Wednesday by introducing a motion to cut LAPD funding, “as we reset our priorities in the wake of the murder of #GeorgeFloyd. This is just one small step. We cannot talk about change, we have to be about change,” Martinez tweeted.

Well that will certainly be some change.

Of course that isn’t nearly good enough.

The amount of police spending in L.A. has long been a source of frustration for activists. This year, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles teamed up with other grassroots organizations to survey Angelenos about their budget priorities and draft their People’s Budget.

Under their alternative spending plan for the coming year, police would receive only 5.7% of the city’s general fund — a reduction of nearly 90% compared with the mayor’s budget.

Well that sounds interesting.

Naturally this lead to some interesting twitter commentary.

Of course this led to some amusing comments from the right.

And an actual suggestion.

Frankly I’m with Byron York on this one.  I would love to see how this experiment plays out in some big blue cities.

And if they don’t defund their police, they’re racist.

Mitt Romney and His Oath

At the start of the impeachment trial in the Senate, each Senator took an oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts:

“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you god? “

I’m going to argue every Democratic Senator, plus Mittens, violated that oath.

During the impeachment trial, the Democrats made an argument that witnesses were absolutely needed to for the Senate to have all the evidence needed to conduct a fair trial.  To that end, the Senate voted on the issue of calling witnesses:

“The final tally was 51 votes against the motion, and 49 in favor.

The vote dashed Democrats’ hopes of hearing testimony from former Trump national security advisor John Bolton, and it shifted the weeks-long trial into its final stages.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Utah’s Mitt Romney, broke with their party in order to join Democrats in voting to admit additional evidence, but the majority, 51 Republicans, did not.

Democrats had needed at least four GOP senators to vote with them, and they fell short of that threshold by two votes. “

So every Democratic Senator plus Susan Collins and Mitt Romney voted to include witnesses because they regarded witnesses as vital to determine what happened.  As an aside, I would have preferred witnesses myself.  Considering how absurd this impeachment was, it would have benefited the country to have an impeachment trial in which everyone involved, from the whistleblower, to Adam Schiff, to Nancy Pelosi and the Bidens, testify under oath.  Heh, it could have been an amusing couple of months!

So what happened at the conclusion of the trial?

“On Feb. 5, the Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump on the abuse of power impeachment article and voted 53-47 to acquit Trump on the obstruction of Congress impeachment article. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the only senator who broke with his party, voting to convict Trump on abuse of power. “

So every Democrat, plus “Pierre Delecto,” after arguing that they didn’t have enough evidence and they needed more, decided to say, eh fuck it, and vote guilty anyway.  That seems a pretty clear violation of their oath to do “impartial justice.”  Justice was never on the menu.

 

 

Iran with Egg on its Face

What a difference a week makes!  Since I last wrote about the drone killing of Quds Force commander General Soleimani, we’ve gone through press hysterics unmatched since Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court.  The draft and World War III trended on twitter as the media primed up young people to be very afraid that the cost of their student loans was conscription into Trump’s war machine.  Even the creaky anti-war movement, in a coma since the election of President Obama, roused from its slumber to beclown itself in cities across the world.

Instead, the entire crisis played out in Trump’s favor.  Iran fired Ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq, with no US casualties; then declared their revenge over. Meanwhile scores of Iranians were killed in a bizarre stampede at Soleimani’s funeral and Iran Air Defense, using a SA-15 air defense system, shot down a Ukrainian jet liner, killing more Iranians as well as people all over the world, but no Americans.  So while the world is trying to get answers from Iran as to what happened, Trump is back on the golf course, crisis over.

The only hanging chad over the Trump response is the claim that there were imminent attacks against four other embassies in the area, a claim that was apparently not made during the classified briefing to Congress.  That is the sole issue that the MSM was left with to tangle with Trump administration officials on the Sunday morning talk shows.  After promising World War III, if that’s all you got, then it’s hard to see how this issue isn’t a victory for Trump.

Personally I think the “imminent threat” claim was just something Trump ad-libbed during the Laura Ingraham interview.  But I have to admit I don’t really care about it, because an “imminent threat” isn’t a necessity for taking out a terrorist.  We didn’t need an “imminent threat” to take out al-Baghdadi or Bin Ladin; they were terrorists who had an ample list of charges against the US for terrorism, and so did Soleimani.

Predictions for 2020

I had a pretty good prediction run for 2019 so hopefully I can continue that; however it’s an election year so everything should be extra crazy.  So with that in mind, I present my 2020 predictions.

Reparations will be on the Democratic Platform

After several of the Democratic Presidential candidates came out in support of reparations, it’s hard to imagine that this year reparations wouldn’t finally make the platform somehow.

There will be an independent never-Trump candidate in the race

I don’t know how well-funded he or she would be, but for the purpose of sapping GOP votes from Trump to throw the election to the Democrats, there will be an effort to promote someone to give the several hundred never-Trumpers some voting alternative.

Joe Biden will not be the Democratic Nominee.

I’ve been saying it for months, in spite of his rather constant lead near the top of the polls, but the issue is that ultimately, it’s not the gaffes, but the fact that the gaffes will look more and more like dementia rather than “that’s just Joe.”  I think the Democrats would prefer a crazed socialist to an obviously mentally failing “moderate.”

There will be an additional impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives this year to consider new impeachment charges.

This of course, is the action of a crazed opposition, but that’s where we are, so I’m confident the House will consider new charges for impeachment.

There will be a Supreme Court vacancy this year.

Even though the Supreme Court prediction burned me last year, I guess I’m a moth driven to the flame on this, so I’m going to say that either due to retirement or death or disablement, there will be an opening.

There will be some sort of Brexit this year.

Democrats will retain control of the House.

Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

 

 

You may notice that I didn’t make a prediction on who wins the Presidency.  In 2016 I held off until August…and got it wrong.  My prediction on what makes the difference in the race is that this will be a turn out election; whoever gets their people to the polls in high enough numbers will win, and as of now, Democrats tend to dominate the ground game.

 

Also, a not quite prediction:

I wouldn’t really say this is a prediction, both because it’s outside the one year window of this post and because at this point it’s more guess than prediction, but this could move up to a full blown prediction in the future (but that’s just a prediction).

Notre Dame, when rebuilt, will have some sort of Islamic imagery included.

 

2019 Predictions Wrap Up

I had a fairly substantial improvement in the predictions biz success rate this year so let me take a moment to brag:

Whoohoo!

Now to my predictions!

Mueller’s Investigation will not show any collusion between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia to “hack” the election.

Easy win.  The charge was absurd to begin with, so the only uncertainty was when the report would be released, not what it would say.  So the much awaited “Mueller Time” turned out to be a big goose egg for the Democrats and media.  Not that it mattered.  They still believe Trump is a Russkie spy anyway.

The House Judiciary Committee will vote on articles of impeachment this year.

This was getting a little down to the wire, but the Judiciary committee finally voted on impeachment. Of course, even if they hadn’t I might have taken the credit for this anyway since the House did hold an “impeachment inquiry” then of course a full vote in the House.  But I still win even with my very specific prediction.  I must have powers!

Sorry Bill Maher, but no recession by the end of this year.

Not just Maher, but multiple economists all generated “reports” stating that the economy had topped out and would begin sliding into recession or that Trump’s crazy trade policy would push us into recession; in any case, the economy would be in recession in time for the 2020 election.  This sounded like a lot of wishful thinking, and considering some of the sources (I’m looking at you Mark Zandi!) I figured this was a hope, not a data driven prediction.

No Brexit.

In spite of that “hard date” of October 31, 2019, I had a suspicion that with a government jam packed with remainers, it would be next to impossible to push Brexit through this year, and on that I was correct.  Of course, the recent British elections have cleared that logjam, so next year may be a different story.

President Trump will have another Supreme Court nomination to make by the end of the year

This was my choke point.  I thought that Clarence Thomas might see the opportunity to resign and get a strict constructionist, a much younger one, to replace him.  Instead, Thomas is having the time of his life and shows no sign of leaving.  RBG is apparently much sicker than was known this time last year but I saw a Thomas graceful exit as more likely than Ruth Bader Ginsberg being carried out.

So that gives me an 80% success rate this year.  Let’s see if I can maintain that level of success next year!

With a short impeachment trial, more GOP sabotage of Trump

I almost popped out of my chair when I saw these headlines:

U.S. Senate leader McConnell raises possibility of quick impeachment trial

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised the prospect on Tuesday of a short Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump in which no witnesses would be called.

Unless McConnell’s goal is to damage Trump’s re-election chances, that’s one of the dumbest things he could do.

While Trump has repeatedly called the House Democrats’ impeachment investigation a “witch hunt,” he also has called for a trial with witnesses testifying.

In a tweet on Dec. 5, he wrote: “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify.” He was referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Biden, his son Hunter and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all Democrats.

Last week, Trump dispatched his top White House lawyers to attend a lunch with Senate Republicans to discuss the possible impeachment trial.

White House legislative liaison Eric Ueland told reporters after that meeting that in order for Trump to make an effective case to the Senate, “We need both a full trial and the opportunity to call witnesses,” pointing to the Senate chamber.

This guy gets it.

McConnell unfortunately does not. Either a short Senate trial, or a motion to dismiss, will make it look like the fix was in and instead of giving Trump a chance to make his case, it will make him look guilty as hell, saved only by slavish Trumpies in the Senate.  Of course, there are no Trumpies in the Senate, slavish or otherwise. So that makes McConnell’s statement all the more confusing.  Does McConnell actually want to taint Trump and damage his re-election chances?

Senator Lindsey Graham is also another one who wants to end this quickly.  Version 1.0 has been trying to masquerade as Graham version 2.0.  It didn’t work.  He wants to let the managers present their case, then vote.  No witnesses called.

“My goal is to end this as soon as possible for the good of the country because I think it’s a danger to the presidency to legitimize this,” Graham stated.

“Does that mean no witnesses at all?” Hemmer asked.

“I don’t need any witnesses at all. I am ready to go,” Graham replied, adding that the issue of Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine can be addressed outside of impeachment hearings.

No it can’t.  Nothing will be addressed, ever if it’s not addressed during the impeachment trial.  That’s the necessity of having a trial in the Senate for as long as it takes to pick apart this fake frame job.  If that means calling every single witness who was called in during the House hearings, and pick apart exactly what they think the President did that was impeachable, including Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, so be it.  Sure there is a fun aspect to this too.  The prospect of getting Hunter under oath and finding out exactly how much his father knew is tantalizing, as well as getting Adam Schiff under oath and pick apart the timeline of his contact with the whistleblower, and scheduling it during the Iowa caucuses would be high political art.

However the Senate GOP establishment types who want to give the House Democrats a pass on this snow job raises my alarm bells.  Is the goal to harm Trump by not giving him a chance to expose this fraudulent impeachment, or are they trying to hide something else?  I don’t know, but this is yet another reminder that the goals of GOP office holders and GOP voters don’t always, or even most of the time, line up.

 

Not Wired for Democracy

Although skepticism of democracy is usually an aspect of the right (and the founders BTW), in the Trump era it is seeping over to the left.  After all, what good is democracy if it doesn’t elect the people I like?  And that seems to be exactly the conclusion that UC Irvine Professor Shawn Rosenberg has come to, as noted in this Politico article.

“Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.

His prediction? “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.””

Reading that paragraph, I rub my chin and thoughtfully consider the meaning behind the text and can only conclude…

HaHaHaHah!

So “society’s “elites”—experts and public figures” have lost control of the narrative so democracy stinks.

Of course, the left has always been a bit transactional when it comes to Enlightenment concepts like representative government and individual rights.  They by and large agree with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that democracy is a train, and when it takes you where you want to go, you get off.  They are not as explicit as the Turkish President was in saying that, but it’s fairly easy to read between the lines given the #resistance and the more or less permanent coup that’s been ongoing since inauguration of President Trump.

In another left leaning “end of democracy” porn, this time from The Atlantic, How America Ends, senior editor Yoni Appelbaum, goes down the predictable, yet totally opposite of reality view of; what if Trump and his supporters don’t accept the consequences of his all but inevitable defeat in 2020?  Or as he states, “democracy depends on the consent of the losers.” In its own way, that’s actually profound.  But he’s got his article aimed at the wrong direction.  Appelbaum and his allies in the media specifically and the left in general, never consented or accepted their loss in 2016. They’ve totally rejected the election results, and have acted in a way that regards the current administration as totally illegitimate.

I wrote about this strain on the idea of representative government back on Inauguration Day in 2017 when I posted how gob smacked I was that the left still hadn’t got over their election defeat.  Well here we are almost 3 years later and in the midst of an absurd impeachment battle, it’s clear to me that the left isn’t wired for democracy.  The problem is, both sides have to accept the rules to make representative government work, and since one side has categorically rejected the rules, Rosenberg’s prediction, “democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail,” is likely to come true.

 

Universal Basic Income and the Dearth of Good Ideas

Andrew Yang isn’t doing gangbusters in the Democratic polling, but of the bottom tier Democratic candidates, he was one of two that I found most interesting (the other of course being Tulsi Gabbard).  Although when you aggregate all of his mostly left leaning positions, there is no way I could have voted for him.  However I acknowledge that he was out there with a message that needs to be addressed; and that message?  The Robot Apocalypse of course!  Not the Skynet-destroy-all-humans, but the Skynet-destroy-all-jobs type.

I’ve been worrying about this for several years, and wrote about it in 2014 when I discussed the problem.

Automation over time has made things easier for us since it’s reduced the demand of physical labor, which we’ve benefited from.  But automation is not only continuing to reduce the number of boring, repetitious jobs, it’s now going after higher end jobs.  An Oxford Study predicted that 47% of US jobs could be lost to automation in 20 years.  Burger flippers and baristas for sure, but also lawyers and doctors are at risk. There is a lot fewer tax preparers now then there were in the days before tax preparation software.  So it’s not just low end drudge jobs that will be going away, it’s upper end jobs that require education that used to provide a lot of middle class and upper middle class incomes.

These long term trends will lead to pretty dire economic consequences in our lifetimes.

If these trends continue, with more and newer jobs being for the more educated class and few new low skilled jobs created, what are we going to do with people who are just not smart enough? We are improving automation along the lines of Moore’s Law, but there isn’t a Moore’s Law for human intelligence or ability. That is my concern. Not that we hit the Singularity and every human is unemployed and targeted for termination, but that the gradual change in the economy means few jobs for people on the  left hand side of the Bell Curve. We’ll have a growing cadre of people permanently unemployable no matter how great the stock market is doing or how much increase in GDP there is.

So it’s the economic and social robot apocalypse that I worry about.  And in the several years since I’ve really become aware of the issue, there just hasn’t been a good solution presented.  Yeah I know, “more money for education!”  After all, look how well that’s worked out?  But wait; there is one more go-to idea when the issue of automation eliminating jobs comes up; Universal Basic Income (UBI).

Andrew Yang’s proposal is the Freedom Dividend.”  As Yang’s campaign website put it, “Technology is quickly displacing a large number of workers, and the pace will only increase as automation and other forms of artificial intelligence become more advanced. ⅓ of American workers will lose their jobs to automation by 2030 according to McKinsey. This has the potential to destabilize our economy and society if unaddressed.” 

He’s not wrong about the problem but the solution?

“Andrew would implement the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year, for every American adult over the age of 18. This is independent of one’s work status or any other factor.”

Whee!  Free Money!

“Other than regular increases to keep up the cost of living, any change to the Freedom Dividend would require a constitutional amendment. It will be illegal to lend or borrow against one’s Dividend. “

Well good luck enforcing that one.

So to the question, what do we do about no jobs, Yang’s answer is simply free money.  However I will give Yang credit. Unlike most advocates of UBI, Yang actually has a way to pay for it, a 10% Value Added Tax.  That is at least a more honest answer than the one you usually get from UBI advocates, which range from “the rich,” some version of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), or an Ocasio-Cortez-esque “You Just Pay for it.”

Free money sounds great and I can absolutely see the attraction to it.  Would I like an extra thousand bucks a month?  Absolutely!  Most people, and certainly a voting majority, could use extra cash each month.  In fact, it’s hard not to even discuss UBI without fantasizing about what we would do with the money.  It’s almost like lotto winnings, and like lotto winnings, it would wreak havoc on the recipients.

As much as I would love an extra twelve thousand bucks a year, Universal Basic Income is a total disaster as a social policy. We already have some great examples of a society dependent on welfare.  We have ghettos all over this country, of all races, in which cash benefits have totally flipped the incentive structures that a normal society has.  The bourgeois norms of thrift, work ethic, and responsibility have totally broken down in those areas, and I can’t imagine anyone who would want to replicate that nationwide.  In spite of Yang’s alleged safeguards, it’s easy to see how this would reorder politics into those who want to increase benefits (for the people!) and those who want to hold the line.  If history is any guide, the hold the line types are destined to lose.

UBI as a societal cancer probably won’t discourage those who want the government to make it rain with dollars, but even if UBI was the smartest idea ever, why would you want to institute it now?  Unemployment rates across all demographic groups are at historic lows. It certainly sounds difficult to justify a multi-trillion dollar program for a problem that has not arrived yet, and we don’t have a clear idea when it will arrive.  Of course, when the automation hammer falls, it’s not going to fall on the people who advocate for it now, primarily young people who can’t wait for an extra thousand bucks a month for weed and pizza.  It will hit people, in the way automation advances always have, on middle aged and older workers who suddenly find themselves laid off in their 40’s or 50’s with a set of work skills that are now obsolete. Common sense would seem to dictate that at the point it becomes a real societal problem, a program to provide a bridge for older workers to retirement would make more sense than starting a Freedom Dividend retirement program for people who are just graduating from high school.

The robot job apocalypse is a real issue that needs to be addressed.  The only solution out there, UBI however, is probably the dumbest of all answers. UBI doesn’t fix the problem.  People who are left unemployed by automation will still be unemployed, they’ll just have a long term welfare/unemployment check to buy groceries and pay rent. Of course, I didn’t have a solution in 2014 and I still don’t have one, but I don’t want to make things worse with an idiotic universal basic income scam.  It’s simply an end-stage democracy idea to buy votes.

This election season has the Democrats running on a maximum wish list of items that totaled up, exceed the GDP of the entire world, let alone the United States.  Between a Medicare for all, Green New Deal, Fee healthcare for illegals, and free college for all, the country would have long been a smoking financial ruin before UBI ever got put on the agenda.

Andrew Yang won’t get the nomination, but like reparations, UBI will continue to exist as a Democratic talking point and will probably show up as an issue in every Presidential election from here on out.  Why not?  It’s only money.

More Hysteria Over Another Syria Withdrawal

I must be the only person left who is not in a full-fledged panic over President Trump’s decision to pull out 50 to 150 US troops in northern Syria.  In fact, every news article on the issue that I came across dealt more with the “backlash” to the decision rather than the actual decision itself.

Of course the decision shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.  It’s very much in line with the Trump Doctrine.  Trump views foreign policy through a narrow lens of US national interest, an abhorrent concept to most of our media and political establishment.  Trump’s withdrawal of troops leaves northern Syria open to Turkish attack, which is…bad I guess, but I’m not sure what the alternative is.  We are allied with Kurdish groups that are categorized as terrorist groups by Turkey, our NATO ally.

I believe it was a good decision to withdraw, or at least a “not bad” decision, but it was, as usual with Trump, handled poorly. It came out of the blue when really he should have called in the relevant GOP senators and briefed them on his rationale so they would at least have understood his reasoning, even if they disagreed with it. Instead, they’re caught flatfooted. However I think at this point we know Trump just isn’t going to do that, so every few months he makes a unilateral decision that catches everyone by surprise, with no media or PR prep.

As for the decision itself, at some point we are going to have to realize that we are trapped in a military alliance with an Islamic authoritarian that we have very little foreign policy agreement with. This decision is a good example, while we have interests with the Kurds and interests with the Turks, and they both want to kill each other. I sympathize with the Kurds and admit they’ve gotten a raw deal historically, and if there was true justice in the world, they should have their own state.

However Turkey is in NATO. So that’s that. No one wants to deal with the consequences of that, and it gets brushed over in our public discourse, but it’s at the root with dealing with the Kurds. We can’t accept that if it were not for NATO, Turkey would be, if not an enemy, at least an adversery.  We really need to have a discussion about NATO.  In a post-cold war era, does it really make sense that we’re joined at the hip with an increasingly erratic Erdoğan?  Either the United States doesn’t belong in NATO or Turkey doesn’t.  I’d rather not wait until we’re dragged into a war not of our choosing to think about dealing with this.