Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Hit Him in the Base

Posted on August 14, 2018
You want to beat Trump? Hit him in the base.

But in a nice way. Sort of like how Reagan beat Carter and Kennedy beat Nixon and Obama beat Romney. Cheerful, with a bit of self deprecating humor, not angry. More mensch not momzer. (Harry Truman was a mensch, Rick Santorum a momzer).

What we need, right now, is for someone to go out into Trump Country and take it to him. Go to where he goes. Speak before he gets there and after he leaves. Stalk him. Rebut him. Correct him. Kid with him. Make it fun. Turn it into a debate. Bring a band. Make it a show. Follow the advice of my old friend Sheldon Adelson (who I haven’t met) “do something different and success will follow you like a shadow.”

By the way, I like Sheldon Adelson and Steve Bannon and Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. I don’t like sappy suck ups like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton and John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. Oh, yeah, and I like Pat Buchanan and I don’t like Rachel Maddow and I like Babara Boxer and I can’t abide Joey (Jo-Jo) Lieberman and I think Steve Kornacki is great and a damn sight better than many of the MSNBC hosts that have their own shows and he doesn’t. I also like Malcolm Nance, Bob Costa and Ian Bremmer . I’m even starting to like Jennifer Rubin, but that took a while, a really long while. But, I digress…

We need a happy warrior. A fearless warrior. Doesn’t have to be a Democrat or a politician. It has to be someone known and respected. Could be retired military, business, academia or it could be a politician. The key qualification is that the person has to view Trump’s continued presence as President of the United States as an ongoing insult that has to be checked in the short term by, at a minimum, flipping control of the House of Representatives. Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Foreign Relations in the Age of Trump

Posted on July 26, 2018
One of my mother’s favorite expressions, invariably addressed to me, was “make yourself useful as well as ornamental.” Another helpful bromide, this one of uncertain provenance, is “tell your own story or someone else will tell it for you.” Practical advice for individuals, businesses and governments.

How does this relate to Trump as an actor on the world stage with foreign countries? You know I’m going to get to Israel and Jews, right? Of course. It’s what I do.

If you’re interested in how public policy is made in the United States and how the conventional wisdom becomes the conventional wisdom, the American Jewish Community is not the only game in town but it is, by far, the most effective game in town. They tell their story (and sometimes your story) constantly. They make themselves not only useful but essential.

At a bare minimum we can say that, in terms of foreign relations advocacy, Israel and the American Jewish community are playing three dimensional speed chess while the rest of the world is still reading the instructions for slow motion special ed tic-tac-toe.

Don’t laugh…it’s true.

Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is costly and deadly.

In the field of foreign affairs, let’s look at who has found favor in the Age of Trump and who hasn’t.

ISRAEL. Nobody has received better treatment from the Trump Administration than Israel. Trump never talks about a two state solution or criticizes Israel for additional or expanded settlements in the Occupied Territories …which always impressed me as two parties agreeing to share a pizza while the stronger party eats most of it. The US Embassy has been moved to Jerusalem and Trump gives carte blanche on Israel’s execution, from a safe distance, of demonstrators at the wall separating Israel from Gaza. Unlike our NATO allies, Israel has never fought and died with us and they are regularly the largest annual recipient of US AID, receiving $250 billion, inflation adjusted, since their founding which makes them the largest recipient of US Aid ever.

EUROPE. From Trump, Europe and Canada get the shaft. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: What’s the Problem?

Posted on June 19, 2018

Is it not enough outrage or not enough responsibility? Or both?

The answer is both.

Benjamin Franklin pointed us in the right direction on September 17, 1787. The Constitutional Convention had just concluded its work. A citizen called out to Franklin as he was exiting the hall

…”what have you given us Dr. Franklin?” Franklin’s response, “a Republic, if you can keep it.”

What Franklin was saying to his questioner is that the Constitution is the beginning of the American experiment, not the end. If the people who hold power act in such a way that is, far and away, contrary to established American values and our sense of right and wrong it is the duty of the populace to become outraged and take responsibility for what they find to be outrageous and, in so doing, change it or end it.

It all comes down to whether you think it’s your country, as much as anybody else’s, and if you do, whether you’re willing to miss a gym workout or yoga class (or, in my case, a Martini) to actually do something about it. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Adelson and Murdoch

Posted on May 21, 2018

If it was a boxing match, they’d stop it. Two Jewish octogenarians, Sheldon Adelson and Rupert Murdoch, are beating the jack crap out of decades of American policy and tradition that has had the US pursuing peace as a first option, keeping commitments, and supporting those that have supported us.

In its place, Adelson and Murdoch are substituting an Israel-centric screw our-real allies, no peace with any mideast country without Israel’s permission “policy” that makes the US position in the world a shadow of what presidents of both parties have created and maintained since World War ll.

But Adelson and Murdoch are not President you say. Trump is. True, but without Adelson and Murdoch, Trump cannot survive. Tump knows it and Adelson and Murdoch know it. They are in the catbird seat. They’ve turned Trump into their useful idiot.

First, lets be clear on who is an ally and who isn’t. Scripture tells us, “no greater love hath a man than he lay down his life for his friends.” If Scripture is not your cup of tea, try common sense. Those who will fight and die for you are your allies those who won’t aren’t. The proposition speaks for itself.

When we were hit on 9/11 our allies joined us as we pursued the perpetrators in Afghanistan. Twenty nine countries put troops on the ground and suffered fatalities helping us. Major contributions were made by the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, New Zealand, and Australia. Even little Belgium had troops on the ground and lost a soldier. Jordan, an Arab country, lost two. Unknown to most, even Iran helped us right after 9/11 laying the foundation for our installing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan president.

As usual, Israel was of no help. Since the country’s formation in 1948, Israel has received more money from the US than any other country and has never put a soldier at risk with us. Israel’s excuse for non-participation is that the Arabs would be upset if the Jewish state were to join in battle with or against them. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: “Jew Haters” and Other Words to Kill Debate

Posted on April 26, 2018

“Jew Haters.” Nasty language, right? Absolutely.

But it can get worse. How about “Jew hating anti-semite?” The double-whammy. That’s the language that came out of the mouth of Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America.

Klein directed that language at Barack Obama. Obama’s offense in Klein’s addled mind? In 2016, then President Obama had abstained on a UN Security Council vote that criticized Israel for expanding settlements in the Israeli occupied West Bank. The measure passed 14-0. One would have to assume that Klein’s opinion of the leaders of the 14 countries that voted to criticize Israel, including Theresa May of the UK, was something worse than a “Jew hating anti-semite”… whatever that might be.

How about charging someone with “betrayal and anti-semitism?” Sounds like a pretty nasty individual that would warrant that description. It happens to be the language used by Menachem Begin, former Prime Minister of Israel, to describe President Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan, for Pete’s sake…are you kidding me?

What could Reagan, of all people, have done to incur the wrath of the Prime Minster of a country, Israel, that, at that time and now, is the recipient of the lion’s share of US Foreign Aid? Reagan wanted to do what American Presidents are supposed to do…manage the foreign policy of the USA.

Specifically, Reagan wanted to take a step towards normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia by selling unarmed advanced radar equipped aircraft called AWACS to the Saudis. To close the deal, Reagan had to win a vote in the US Senate. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Likely War in Iran by End of September 2018

Posted on March 19, 2018

The likelihood of the US getting involved in actual combat operations against Iran by the end of September is closing in on 50% for the following reasons:

ONE. Trump needs something to get his job approval rating above 40%. War always gives a sitting president a short term boost in the polls. When we were hit on 9-11 Bush got a 40%…that’s correct…FORTY PERCENT rise in his Gallup job approval numbers. When he commenced military action against Iraq he got a 12% boost. Trump hasn’t had poll numbers above 40% since June of 2017. With low poll numbers Trump is in a difficult position to fire Mueller. A war would get Trump’s numbers up a bit…who says it has to be necessary…if it helps Trump get rid of Mueller why not? And if people die…hey, people die every day.

TWO. Any accomplishment by Obama, who left office with a 59% Gallup Job Approval, reminds Trump that Obama was an actual functioning President. Any accomplishment by Obama has to be destroyed. Why? I can’t help on that one, but I have observed that bashing Obama still gets a rise out of that 20% of the population who get apoplectic at the mere mention of Obama’s name. The Iran Deal was a magnificent accomplishment bringing the US, UK, France, Russia, Germany, and China together in a major step towards less conflict. In Trump’s head, that means it must be destroyed.

THREE. Sheldon Adelson wants a war with Iran. He didn’t give $35 Million to Trump for good government. In response to a question about how to negotiate with Iran, Adelson replied “what’s there to negotiate?” He went on to say we should nuke Iran in the desert and tell them to do what we want “or the next one is in downtown Tehran.” Adelson funds people and organizations that want a war with Iran. Adelson did not like Tillerson and he wants H.R. McMaster gone. He’s interested in slipping an Israeli born woman, Safra Catz, or John Bolton into McMaster’s job.

FOUR. Netanyahu wants and possibly needs the US to go to war in Iran. Netanyahu has a number of scandals to deal with in Israel that have brought his poll numbers down. Part of Netanyahu’s political strength in Israel is based on his perceived ability to get the US to do his bidding. He was once caught on a hot mic saying “the United States is very easy to move.” Netanyahu has always benefited domestically when he can play the “they’re out to get us” card. Nothing like a war to make him look strong…especially if he can get the United States to fight it.

FIVE. Rupert Murdoch, the Jewish Australian-born immigrant, who owns FOX, The New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal wants a war. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Trump – Too Big for the Job

Posted on March 12, 2018

Henry David Thoreau famously observed “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” After 14 months in office Donald Trump has demonstrated one thing for sure…he ain’t “most men”.

The things that have burdened and constrained all of our previous presidents are, for Trump, inapplicable. We’re talking about things like facts, truthfulness, study, consultation with experts, and thoughtful implementation of policy.

Trump is way too big for that Mickey Mouse. Those are the kind of things “low energy” Jeb Bush or “crooked” Hillary or “little” Marco Rubio or “lying” Ted Cruz would be doing if they could have beaten Trump. But they couldn’t. They didn’t have the Trump formula..the Trump magic.

So what is the Trump formula? First, know yourself and know what has always worked for you. Second, never apologize, never admit a mistake, and never let them see you sweat. Third, talk like a winner…use superlatives…”disaster…it’s going to stop…best in history.” Fourth, protect the Trump brand, trust your gut, and fight to win every news cycle.

Its working so well that it leaves him almost nothing to do. He blocks out three hours every weekday morning for what the schedule refers to as “Executive Time”. Trump uses that time to watch FOX and get affirmation. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: The Country Wants a Real Fight

Posted on February 14, 2018

That’s what a real Presidential Election is supposed to be. When it’s over the country should feel a sense of cleansing and accomplishment. The winner invariably enjoys a job approval rating over 50% on Inauguration Day.

In the the ten elections from Carter versus Ford in 1976 to Obama versus Romney in 2012, the country got the benefit of competent candidates giving it their best shot. You could say we got the benefit of a good fight in those campaigns and a sense of finality, at least for a little while.

Trump-Clinton 2016 was a horse of a different color…a tremendously dissatisfying affair. It seemed as though each candidate represented the only person that the other candidate could possibly beat. Many felt like me: Trump was a totally unqualified liar who was impossible to not watch; Hillary was an intelligent grating deceiver who was impossible to watch.

Trump entered office with a 45% job approval, topped out at 46%, and presently sits at 40%…which means he remains unpopular but Impeachment Proof and very dangerous.Trump’s 40% number represents his base’s taunt to Trump Resistance…”you ain’t got game.”

His base is right. The Resistance is diffused and, in some cases, counterproductive. Trump is given the luxury of choosing who to counter-punch against. Not good.

Time to go to Plan B. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Nobody Knows Anything

Posted on January 9, 2018

About twelve years ago I was in Florida, somewhere between Tampa and Orlando, watching a golf tournament. I’m walking down the street in a little town with The New York Times under my arm. A lady about fifty, probably Jewish probably New Yorker, comes up to me and demands…”where did you get that New York Times?” I tell her and she says, “Finally. Nobody down here knows anything!”

The comment startled me at first…then I thought…BINGO!…the lady knows whereof she speaks.

In that part of the world it seemed to me the major preoccupations were putting together a dependable golf foursome, securing tee times, and getting to your favorite restaurant in time for the reduced price Early Bird Dinner. Political arguments were not welcome…too upsetting…might threaten one’s place in the foursome or the regular Dinner Group. Intellectual curiosity was viewed as odd…what possible purpose could it serve…what are you some sort of kook, or what?

I haven’t been in Florida since that trip. Applying Groucho Marx’s reasoning, I couldn’t envision myself joining a Golf Club that would let someone like me in it.

I was thinking about the Florida lady over the Christmas Season when I talked with friends in Washington and New England about our Maximum Leader.

Everybody has an opinion on Trump, along with their favorite adjectives and observations…”narcissist, totally unqualified, pathological liar, etc.” But then the conversation sort of trails off…nobody (with apologies to Tom Steyer the Hedge Fund guy who has thrown serious money at some TV ads calling for Impeachment) has a plan. Nobody has the kind of fire in their belly that it takes to lead a movement and take him down. Continue Reading…………….

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Back to Basics

Posted on November 15, 2017

When things get crazy slow everything down and go back to basics. The great truths have not been repealed….ignored, yes…but not repealed. Consider:

NATURE (AND POLITICS) ABHORS A VACUUM (PARMENDIES, PHILOSPHER, GREECE, 485 BC)

The Office of President of the United States is essentially vacant. The occupant is happy to spend his days at parades and lavish ceremonial occasions. He has learned how to execute a handshake. Actual leaders like Merkel in Germany, Putin in Russia, and Xi Jinping in China allow him to mug and act like a boor. They smile in a tolerant sort of way. Then, they go about the business of filling the vacuum. Others have plans for “properly directing” an easily manipulated Empty Suit in the Oval Office. Sheldon Adelson has plans for the Suit. He didn’t kick in $35 Million to the Suit’s Campaign for good government. For that kind of money one ought to be able to vaporize a Country (like Iran) for Pete’s sake.

PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL (PROVERBS 16:18)

The Suit is all about appearances. Did the other leaders really look happy to see him? Are they “strong” leaders? The Suit likes leaders who kill their dissidents and opponents. People like Duterte in the Philippines and Putin in Russia are his kind of guys. He likes to huddle and “joke” with these guys and mug for the cameras giving the implied message “we’re special people, we’re killers. We know how to get our way, we never apologize, get out of our way we’re going to another parade in our honor.”

PATRIOTISM IS THE LAST REFUGE OF SCOUNDREL (SAMUEL JOHNSON)

Politicians love to wrap themselves in the flag. Nixon was a master. He represented the “silent majority”. The people who opposed him were not, in Nixon’s view, “real Americans”. To emphasize the point, he became the first President to wear an American flag lapel pin. Now, its standard attire for conservative politicians and FOX TV hosts. The threat from an “outside enemy” is fertile ground for a politician with sagging poll numbers to mine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done that for a long time. Continue Reading……..