A notes piece — to be developed further in another post or onstage — looking at dumb power through use of force, and intelligent decision making.

There’s nothing wrong with power. What’s wrong is when stupid people get it and use it. How do stupid people get power? That’s an easy one. They just bully and lie. They scare smart, weak people. They impress stupid, weak people who want to identify with mere power.

What stupid people who get power don’t understand is that you can have power, and be intelligent, have a sense of justice and morality and ethics, and serve others.

Comic book writers do us a disservice with all of their evil geniuses. The American tyrant is the dumb jock who likes to smash nerdy little weaklings into their lockers. The cartoon character that suits the American fascist is Biff Tannen.

A few Biff Tannens with the Chicago Police Department roughed up Dr. David Dao, the 69 year-old man, randomly selected to be removed from that overbooked Chicago-to-Louisville flight this week. They didn’t have to handle the situation the way that they did. They are untrained professionals and maybe too dumb for their difficult jobs. In 2001, I worked at the Gang Crime Prevention Center of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office. I worked with a lot of cops. Many of them, and many of their bosses are idiots. They just want to solve problems by pushing people around. Dr. Dao has a concussion, a broken nose, lost two teeth, needs reconstructive surgery and who knows what else. Good job, idiots, you are and your masters are going to have your asses sued off — and if we are lucky smart people will take over your whole airline and airport security culture by employing intelligent power.

I taught cops in a criminal justice program at Lewis University. Those cops wanted to know about the law and the constitution. They saw power in intelligence. They wanted to serve. We need cops like the ones that I taught, and we need to get rid of the hacks who nothing but mob muscle for the rich and stupidly powerful.

i worked with attorneys who worked on death penalty cases. I didn’t work on death penalty cases. The death penalty is clearly stupid, and I am not stupid. The death penalty has been proven not to be a deterrent, is too often misapplied to innocent people, is ridiculously expensive to administer, and is a no-brainer in terms of morality. AFTER a felon is removed from the public sphere, put in jail and no longer an immediate threat to public safety — you kill him? What does that accomplish? Revenge? So-called closure? Bullshit. You just encourage more violence. Criminals believe that they are justified in their actions because they see established society as being more immoral than they are. The death penalty is their best argument. It’s that simple and the death penalty is that fucking dumb.

Donald Rumsfeld said people against the Iraq War were likely against the death penalty. Right.

The blind use of force isn’t the solution to anything. IT IS FUCKING STUPID.

The Iraq War cost trillions and created generations of terrorists that want to kill us.

Three American-led coalition airstrikes in the last month may have killed civilians and allies according to the New York Times. The last strikes definitely killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States to fight ISIL according to the United States Central Command. Not too fucking clever.

Looks like Trump has ceded his decision making power on military tactics and strategy to his generals. Yeah, good. Grrrr. Why listen to Founding Fathers’ teaching regarding civilian control of the military? The Founders thought that democratically elected leaders should decide the methods and objectives of war, and military leaders should execute them. That disposition allows for warriors to serve the objectives of our democratic society not their own potential objectives for money, power and glory. Trump, a bullying liar who did not legitimately win the Presidency, happily cedes the people’s power to military careerists because he doesn’t know what to do, and feels incapable of making the decisions himself. I’ve run out of synonyms for stupid.

America dropped a real big bomb on Afghanistan today. Let’s see how stupid that was when the smoke clears and we see what the bomb “accomplished.”

Of course, the Yemen raid was reckless and stupid — killed children and a Marine and achieved nothing.

The Tomahawk attack on Syria was a public relations stunt — a transparent one.


President Obama is a recent example of a person who understood that you can have power, and be intelligent, have a sense of justice and morality and ethics, and serve others. I wrote about his intelligent use of power which included force in some circumstances in this blog post last week:

The Dogs of War; The Best a Peaceful President Could Do

Obama wanted the West to accept Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants, and to control the terrorist problem — which in the grand scheme of things is a relatively small problem and not an existential threat.

The American warlords have wanted full scale military engagement in the Middle East. Now they have a better chance of getting their way. Many more people will die that way than Obama’s way, and the warlords have more influence now than two days ago (4/5/17) before the attack.

Presidents often don’t have good options, they just have to choose the best of bad ones. Obama made good choices.

Obama deserved that Nobel Peace Prize. The world was a much less bloody place under his leadership. That cool, dispassionate reserve he demonstrated at times of crisis masked a great reverence for human life.

Everything Obama did was intended to make life safer and better for people IN THE REAL WORLD. Not the perfect world which doesn’t exist. Now … here comes the “winners” who want to be in control of the uncontrollable. War — the greatest of the repetitive failures of the human race. All wars have an implicit promise that they are the last of their kind — the solution to the problem. They never are. World War I was “the war to end all wars” and there have been more than a few more since the Armistice.

This new potential war would have happened under Hillary too. We should be so thankful for our eight years with Obama. They were a kind of miracle.

Trump is just a prop in the age of active militarism we are now entering. In certain ways, he is already out of power and Mercer and Putin, Trump’s patrons have already lost control.

The Presidency is in a vacuum. Other people are stepping in.

The Rick Blog sadly expands its portfolio. Topic 2: The War. Topic 3: Who are the Bosses (related to different aspects of our governance)?

History accelerates.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

Obama sent military operations in Syria authorization request to Congress because he knew they’d do nothing. He didn’t want to go into Syria and he was right. The request to Congress was necessary politics. He just wanted a viable threat to Assad, not a war.

Trump’s weakness and unclear policy created the opportunity for Assad to use chemical weapons and test Trump. (If Assad did it. I still don’t get the strategic advantage. Why test Trump?)

Obama was a President of Peace in the real world.

Did Putin overreach or did he want the war?

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

Comments on Facebook

xxxxxx Obama dropped over 26,000 bombs. US President and peace don’t go together. Either party.

Like · Reply · 32 mins

Richard Thomas See your point but not what I am saying — he did the best anyone could given the reality of the job.

Like · Reply · 1 · 30 mins

Richard ThomasThings could’ve been much worse, as we are now about to see.

Like · Reply · 29 mins

4/7/17 7:51 pm

Squinting Through The Fog of an Act of War

Evolving Views With New Information and Reflection

A Lot More to Process

We aren’t at war, but attack was an act of war with many risks even if it was good thing to do if it was. Obama agonized over this same situation in 2013. If Syria, Russia and/or Iran retaliates, we are at war. If our war hawks use this as a first drumbeat of Syrian intervention, and successfully beat the drum more, we are at war. McConnell wants to discuss intervention in Syria in Congress. Wag the Dog scenario? Similar time to time of run up to Iraq War? Also I wonder if Assad did it. Doesn’t make strategic sense. First reports weren’t sure if it was him and then quickly they all said he did it. Who told them that? The Trump Administration. What are the next steps? Refugees yes, but hawks will argue carving out a nation for them too or as an alternative. That’s war. An act of war — last night’s attack — most often leads to war. Let’s hope the proportions stay right.

What can we do to resist if things go south?

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

4/7/17 9:40 pm.

The fucking boys are back in town … fascist judge, Mid East drama, untax the rich and shred the safety net etc. etc. — Nazi worries over, replaced by Bush III with a side of Watergate — super sized and extra spicy?

Our eclectic menu includes borscht, falafel and grits, all served with a glowering stare, and a kick in the nuts and a shiteating grin for dessert.

Try our new Carnage Asada.

And it’s all served on a bed of refried Condoleeza Rice.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

4/7/17 9:30 pm

Did Assad do it? Doesn’t make strategic sense to me. More Trumpy collusion with Putin? No proof but just wondering. Gulf of Tonkin? Weapons of mass destruction? Not saying, just saying. A citizen wonders when the President is a lying sack of shit? Putin is KGB and a mass murderer. Are we being played? Did Putin do it or manipulate Assad to slit his own throat? What does Russia lose if Trumpies criticize them? Putin gains if Trump gains stature, doesn’t he?


Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

I also wrote about Trump’s Syria missile decision last week:




Look, everyone was stunned by that video of innocent people including small children and babies suffocating after that chemical warfare attack in Syria. Images can be very emotional and powerful. They are not a good basis for Presidential decision making, or for decision making by citizens for that matter. Emotion can be valuable in a decision making process, but it must be accompanied by rationality, critical thinking, analysis of evidence and the context of higher level and considered thought. In other words, we have a duty to use every aspect of our being in the quest for truth to guide our actions. Emotions help let us know what we feel about things. Thought helps us figure out what to do about them.

Look at fairly recent history. 9/11 was, of course, a gigantic horror. But was Bush’s response rational — from the point of view of national security? (It was obviously rational from a war profiteering perspective.) Bush’s response was irrational. More Americans, and more nationals of other nations, particularly those of Afghanistan and Iraq, died and suffered in Bush’s wars than died and suffered on 9/11.

My second response to Trump’s (when I say Trump in this piece I mean his whole administration and supporters in Congress) attack was that it may have been the right thing for the wrong reason. My first response was more accurate. It was an unnecessary, ill-considered act that will make us and the people of the Middle East less safe, and may well have been motivated by corrupt intentions.

After a couple of days the toxic fog has cleared a bit. Here’s what I can see:

1) Trump’s response was an act of war.
2) There is no such thing as a “measured response” as Haley said at the UN after the Tomahawk attack. Any act of war bears the risk of motivating an escalation of acts of war by the attacked or the attacker.
3) No evidence has been presented that Assad did the attack, or that the attack was not the result of Russian influence on Assad (that may have been related to collusion with Trump). The collusion point is not out of bounds because of the next point.
4) A President under a criminal and counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI decided and executed an act of war on behalf of the American people.
5) The Tomahawk attack has not been explained to us as part of any coherent strategy.
6) Emotionalism, as discussed above, is not a good basis of Presidential decision making. As horrible as the chemical warfare event was, a knee jerk reaction to that event could lead to even more tragedy.
7) Hawks like John McCain for example, are using this as a platform to push deeper military involvement in Syria and the Middle East in general.
8) The chemical warfare event was only the latest in a long series of humanitarian disasters in Syria. Why did it really surprise anybody? How does this change anything related to how we deal with Syria? How do we deal with Syria exactly? No coherent policy has ever been offered by Trump.
9) The military response was not framed as part of a piece with diplomatic, refugee, immigration, cultural, international education and information, intelligence and humanitarian efforts. The military can’t do everything.

There is every reason to be skeptical about Trump’s Tomahawk attack of Syria. Was it pure emotionalism and therefore incompetent? That’s doubtful, although Trump the individual probably operated in that fashion. Mattis and McMaster don’t work that way. Was it part of a military-industrial complex build-up for a big war in the Middle East a la Bush’s Iraq War? Distinct possibility. Is this drumbeat for war for the purpose of war profiteering for war corporations — like Cheney’s Halliburton war constituency in Iraq War II? Distinct possibility. Is Trump doing this as a “Wag the Dog” distraction? Distinct possibility. Did Trump and associates collude with Russia in relation to the attack? Distinct possibility.

Our diligent vigilance as citizens over Trump has grown more complex.

We must watch:

1) The White Nationalists of Mercer and Bannon and like Jeff Sessions
2) The Plutocrat Robber Barons like Mnoochin and Ross
3) The Kleptocratic Trump family
4) The Cruel Conservatives of Congress led by Ryan and McConnell and including administration figures, Pence and Priebus
5) and now the return of the Neocons who brought us the second Iraq War.

In short, we are in the same struggle that we have been in since the birth of our Republic. We are in a battle with the forces dedicated to greed and power to have our country work for the progress of our citizens and the people of the world. We have won so many of those battles in our history (we took down Hitler and slavery for starters, built a remarkable middle class — currently under great attack, of course) and we will win many battles now.


Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

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