By Robert A. Vella
There are the objective realities of the world around us, and there are our subjective perceptions of it. The narrower this gap is, the clearer our awareness is and the healthier our mental states can be. The wider this gap is, the deeper we can descend into psychological problems. Our personal opinions, no matter how strongly we hold and assert them, matter not. The cosmos is oblivious. Reality is what it is, and egos which dare to challenge it fall into madness.
Such is the case today with a megalomaniac who happens to be President of the United States. Donald Trump’s warped perceptions of the world, which serve no purpose other than self-gratification, have thrust him into a continuous and increasingly difficult series of predicaments. The latest one, a rash decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, might be the worst of all because it has triggered intense opposition from everywhere save his most devoted followers.
Adding insult to injury, Trump’s foreign policy blunder has apparently ruined the very relationship he was trying salvage by withdrawing from Syria – i.e. his personal rapport with President Erdogan of Turkey. With attacks coming from all sides, with reality crashing down upon him, and with his own failures staring in his face, Trump is losing what remains of his rational mind. It’s analogous to the last weeks and days of Adolf Hitler who isolated himself in a bunker, issued a barrage of nonsensical orders which were mostly ignored, and who directed imaginary armies against overwhelming forces converging on him from east and west.
That’s today’s focus. I’ve included other news stories too; but, I’m skipping developments in the impeachment inquiry until tomorrow because nothing really consequential has transpired since yesterday’s post.
Update: The following article has been completely rewritten to reflect new developments. The original text remains below the link. Here’s the latest:
Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that the U.S. and Turkey had agreed to a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria to allow for a Kurdish withdrawal from a security zone roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border, in what appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey’s position in the week-long conflict.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A senior U.S. delegation led by Vice President Mike Pence pursued an uphill mission Thursday to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call for a cease-fire in his fight with Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Armored SUVs carrying Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien entered the vast Turkish presidency complex in Ankara. Photos released by the Turkish government showed Pence and Erdogan wearing dour expressions as they shook hands before their one-on-one meeting.
That meeting lasted a little less than an hour and a half. A second meeting with the full delegations was still ahead.
The U.S. officials were expected to warn Erdogan that he will face additional economic sanctions if he doesn’t halt his assault on Kurdish forces once allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.
President Donald Trump earlier spoke dismissively of the same crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse. The U.S. delegation’s visit came hours after Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America’s partners against Islamic State extremists.
Trump suggested Wednesday that Kurdish fighters might be a greater terror threat than the Islamic State group, and he welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left after he ordered the removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria amid a Turkish assault on the Kurds.
“Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine,” Trump said. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So, there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”
He added: “Let them fight their own wars.”
A head-turning letter President Donald Trump wrote to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently ended up in the trash, according to a senior Turkish official.
Images of the letter from Trump attempting to convince Erdogan not to attack U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria became public on Wednesday and drew both condemnation and ridicule from critics in Washington.
But it apparently angered no one more than the recipient himself, according to the official, who recounted the incident to a Turkish newspaper on Thursday.
WASHINGTON — President Trump faced off against both parties in Congress on Wednesday in an extraordinary confrontation over his decision to abandon America’s Kurdish allies as the vast majority of House Republicans joined Democrats to condemn his policy in an overwhelming vote.
Mr. Trump found himself increasingly isolated after withdrawing troops from Syria and clearing the way for a Turkish offensive against Kurds who had fought alongside the United States. The president all but washed his hands of the conflict, saying that it “has nothing to do with us,” generating withering criticism from Republicans and leading to a stormy clash with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Bereft of supporters and under pressure from an impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump spent much of the day defending his decision and lashing out against rivals. He dismissed the Kurds, who until last week shared outposts with American soldiers, saying they were “no angels” and fought for money. And he berated Ms. Pelosi as a “third-grade politician” or “third-rate politician,” depending on the version, prompting Democrats to walk out of a White House meeting.
“I think now we have to pray for his health,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters afterward. “This was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.” She said Mr. Trump seemed “very shaken up” by the cascade of criticism.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced at a news conference outside the White House on Wednesday that they had just walked out of a meeting with President Trump on Syria policy, after he apparently called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and angrily suggested the Democrats probably appreciated communist Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East.
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say,” Pelosi, D-Calif., remarked.
She said later, at the Capitol: “I pray for the president all the time, and I tell him that — I pray for his safety and that of his family. Now, we have to pray for his health — because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a committee chairman known for his devotion to Baltimore and civil rights and for blunt and passionate speechmaking, died of longstanding health problems early Thursday morning, his office said. He was 68 years old.
The Democrat, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, at approximately 2:45 A.M., a spokeswoman said.
Cummings, who had been absent from Capitol Hill in recent weeks while under medical attention, had health issues in recent years.
BRUSSELS — Britain and the European Union on Thursday agreed on the draft text of a Brexit deal, setting up a fateful showdown in the British Parliament on Saturday, where it was not clear that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could marshal the votes to nail down his plan after three anguished and politically damaging years of debate.
But Mr. Johnson may already be thinking beyond whether Parliament approves his plan. Even if he loses, analysts say, he may call for a general election, hoping voters will rally behind him and deliver him a strong majority.
However it comes out, it all suggests a recipe for continued political tumult over at least the next weeks and months.
New York City Ferry employees refused to allow three Muslim families to board a ferry because of a “security issue,” according to a discrimination complaint filed with the New York City Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday.
Nearly 300 drinking water wells and other water sources in California have traces of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, new state testing has found.
Testing conducted this year of more than 600 wells across the state revealed pockets of contamination, where chemicals widely used for decades in manufacturing and household goods have seeped into the public’s water supply. An analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that within this class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the two most common compounds were detected in 86 water systems that serve up to 9 million Californians.
Toxic heavy metals damaging to your baby’s brain development are likely in the baby food you are feeding your infant, according to a new investigation published Thursday.
Tests of 168 baby foods from major manufacturers in the US found 95% contained lead, 73% contained arsenic, 75% contained cadmium and 32% contained mercury. One fourth of the foods contained all four heavy metals.
One in five baby foods tested had over 10 times the 1-ppb limit of lead endorsed by public health advocates, although experts agree that no level of lead is safe.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A jury in Wisconsin has awarded $450,000 to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting after he filed a defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist writers who claimed the massacre never happened.
A Dane County jury on Tuesday decided the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.
Fetzer, a retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor now living in Wisconsin, and Mike Palacek co-wrote a book, “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” in which they claimed the Sandy Hook shooting never took place but was instead an event staged by the federal government as part of an Obama administration effort to enact tighter gun restrictions. A judge earlier ruled Pozner was defamed by statements in the book that claimed he fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate.