Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, July 14, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 14, 2018 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden


In 1949, President Harry Truman led the way in forming 
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, known today as 
NATO. For more than 60 years, this alliance, founded on 
the idea that “an attack on one is an attack on all,” has stood 
as a cornerstone of the interconnected world that Truman 
worked to build - one of allies who share common interests 
and common values working together for the greater good. 

NATO’s collective defense provision, Article V, has only 
been invoked once in its decades-long history. But the alliance wasn’t activated to 
answer a move of Soviet aggression, or for a stronger ally like the United States to 
come to the aid of a smaller, weaker one. 

The only time NATO has committed troops to a cause was when it came to our 

Article V was invoked on September 12, 2001, less than 24 hours after the Twin 
Towers were struck. The first military action, Operation Eagle Assist, began less 
than a month later with pilots from 13 different countries flying sorties across 
American skies. Since then, more than 1,110 troops from NATO-allied countries 
have given their lives alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

This is all relevant now because President Trump - who has been attacking NATO 
since the campaign trail - just concluded a NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels. 
After a week of hostile rhetoric, he opened the conference with an attack on 
Germany and then stayed up sending angry tweets late into the night. 

The president’s standard gripe with NATO is the cost-sharing. Currently, member 
states are working towards a goal of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense. 
President Trump, who has railed against U.S. contributions to collective defense 
efforts since the late 1980s, has arbitrarily demanded that this target be increased 
to 4 percent - a monumental ask for those not yet hitting the original goal. 

The core of the president’s critique is not wrong. It has been a longstanding 
bipartisan U.S. foreign policy goal to encourage our NATO allies to spend more 
on national security. As in all things, however, his opinion is tainted by ignorance 
and mistruths; he continually insists that NATO members are ‘behind on dues’ 
or ‘owe us money,’ while neither is an accurate description of how NATO works. 
And of course, his blustering and cajoling delivery is unhelpful. Would a good 
businessman convince someone to invest in a project by degrading both them and 
the partnership you want them to invest in? 

The modern benefits of NATO, meanwhile, transcend just what happened in 
2001. Sharing bases with our allies saves the United States billions of dollars, and 
having troops around the world keeps our transportation costs down. There are 
also strategic benefits of the alliance - including the ability to train our troops 
alongside those of our partners. This increases readiness, including both lethality 
and effectiveness, and ensures interoperability, or the technical compatibility of 
our forces and hardware. 

But the fundamental benefit of NATO is that it remains a preventative mechanism. 
The alliance was founded as a check on Soviet aggression (one still needed today, 
given that Vladimir Putin has invaded two European countries in the past ten 
years), but it was also an effort to keep the world from collapsing into global 
conflict. The costs of the alliance are a drop in a bucket compared to the carnage 
wrought by past world wars. 

The collaborative deterrent power of NATO is what makes it the bedrock of the 
international system that President Truman built. The idea that countries can 
work together and pay into something that produces not profit but a common 
good - specifically, more peace - is critical. Unfortunately, it may also be anathema 
to President Trump’s views of politics and ‘negotiation,’ which so often focus on 
dominance and maximalism. 

President Trump would do well to think on Truman’s worldview - as well as 
NATO’s demonstrated commitment to the security interests of the United States 
- as he concludes the summit. One can only hope that U.S. leadership in a historic 
organization will continue, even on his watch.


Copyright 2018 Graham F. West, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons 
newspaper syndicate.

Graham F. West is the Communications Director for Truman Center for National 
Policy and Truman National Security Project, though views expressed here are his 
own. You can reach West at

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You may not have noticed it amid the White House’s bluster on NATO 
this week, but Congress utterly face-planted in its effort to rein in President 
Donald Trump’s ever-escalating global trade war.

 As The Washington Post reports, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate 
courageously approved a non-binding resolution that says Congress 
should have “a role” when the White House imposes tariffs for national security reasons.

 The resolution, which came after retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., dropped his demands 
for a “substantive” measure constraining the president’s ability to impose tariffs, does not actually 
say what the role should be.

 Flake said he’d hold up filling federal circuit court vacancies until he got that vote. Then he 
folded like a cheap suit in exchange for that toothless language, the newspaper reported.

 The ‘motion to instruct’ was so harmless that it passed on an 88-11 vote, The Post reported.

 In case you missed it, the White House is using national security concerns for its slender justification 
for slapping punitive tariffs on steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European 
Union - who are actual U.S. allies.

 It’s also hitting China, a geopolitical rival, with steep tariffs.

 Canadian officials, including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin 
Trudeau, have each decried the White House’s heavy-handed tactics. And Canada has moved to 
impose punitive tariffs on American goods in retaliation.

 As The Post reported, Trump is threatening to invoke that same standard to hit foreign cars, 
distorting the intent of the 1962 tariff law. But this White House has never been one to be deterred 
by such formalities.

 “It’s a non-binding vote, but if we had a substantive vote, it would fail today,” Flake said. “To 
put members on record, 88 of them, in support of Congress having a role in determining the 
national security implications of [Section 232] of the tariff law is substantive.”

 No it’s not. It’s a joke. And it’s an abdication of Congress’ authority.

There is an easy way for the Senate to determine what its role should be, It could stand up, exercise 
its power as a co-equal branch of government, and vote on tariffs imposed on national 
security grounds.

 But it won’t.

 Of course, the phenomenon is hardly new. Congress, under both parties, has been gradually 
surrendering its power to the White House for years now. On issues from immigration to war-
making, the co-equal branch of government has only been too happy to leave the heavy lifting to 
the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 “Congress has been dropping in relative power along a descending curve of 60 years’ duration, 
with the rate of fall markedly increased since 1933... The fall of the American Congress seems 
to be correlated with a more general historical transformation toward political and social forms 
within which the representative assembly - the major political organism of post-Renaissance 
Western civilization - does not have a primary political function.”

 American political theorist James Burnhan wrote those words ... in 1959. The curve has only 
grown steeper since, conservative columnist George F. Will wrote in late 2017.

And true to form, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked an effort by Republican 
Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Corker to close a national security loophole on the issue of trade. 

 Senior Republicans, who have proven spectacularly inept at standing up to the White House, 
are even more reluctant to do so in a mid-term election year when there’s a chance that Democrats 
could flip the chamber in November.

 The pointless vote (sort of) immunizes Republicans facing tough re-election races (especially 
in farm country) from accusations that they didn’t up stand up to the White House on polices 
that are potentially destructive for their home states.

 The House is even worse. There, retiring Speaker Paul J. Ryan, R-Wisc., has said he has zero 
plans to try to rein in the White House. And Ryan opposes the tariffs.

 Still, there’s almost zero downside for the White House in the face of this Congressional acquiescence. 
A Post poll found that, among the 15 hardest hit states, Trump’s approval rating stands 
at 57 percent.

And with lawmakers more concerned about self-preservation in November than their constitutional 
prerogatives, that’s reason enough to play along. 


Copyright 2018 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

 An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/
The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and 
email him at


Recently, business reporter Harrison Jacobs accurately described China 
as a “techno-authoritarian” state. Where the Nazis used inaccurate Phrenology 
and calipers to identify enemies of the state, China uses the latest 
in technology to constantly identify, monitor, exhort and if need be, 
round up recalcitrant citizens.

 The government’s reach is so pervasive that the fleeting appearance of a Taiwan flag emoji is 
enough to crash an iPhone the first time it appears. (The second time a functionary of state security 
will crash the phone with a hammer.)

 China’s “Sharp Eyes” program will to install a nationwide surveillance camera network extending 
from public spaces to inside businesses and even private homes. The goal is for everyone to be on TV 
by 2020. 

 The accelerated development of facial recognition software makes the program feasible. The program’s 
rollout doesn’t leave much time for worries about early software bugs connected with real 
time surveillance of 1.4 billion people. Chinese state security is so efficient that even if the wrong man 
is identified, they’ll make sure he’s guilty of something.

 The data produced by “Sharp Eyes” will be used to build an individual “social credit” score for 
every Chinese citizen. In the U.S., a low credit score might prevent you from buying a car. In China, 
a low social credit score will keep you from buying a train ticket. 

 According to Breitbart, by using surveillance cameras, informers and state security the government 
“closely monitors the behavior of all individuals…People considered loyal, law-abiding 
members of the Communist Party are assigned high social credit scores, while those who violate the 
law…are assigned lower scores.”

 By May of this year 11 million Chinese with low social credit scores had been prevented from 
boarding airplanes, and another four million couldn’t get on a train. No reports as yet of low scorers 
being forbidden to buy shoes.

 The social credit system originally documented Internet activity - where Chinese went on the 
web, what they posted and even what they bought. Now the system has grown to encompass a wide 
range of transgressions including “jaywalking, returning library books late [or] possessing frowned-
upon religious or political materials, or [exhibiting] insufficient patriotism.”

 Regardless of how much this system would improve the quality of life in San Francisco and the 
NFL, it still sounds ominous to me. And now that China has announced a cicada infestation, the 
other shoe has dropped.

 For those of you who don’t keep current on bugs, cicadas are noisy critters who are chained to a 
calendar cycle, much like comets and women. Only the insect’s cycle is once every 17 years. Cicadas 
make their way out of the ground in multitudes, produce an incredible amount of noise and then 
molt out of their current body into a completely new version, something like aging trophy wives.

 `My local Washington Post is so obsessed with these bugs that it almost has a cicada beat. As the 
time for Peak Cicada approaches one finds the paper filled with headlines like:

 Are Cicada Infestations Harsher and More Frequent Due to Global Warming?

 Insect Activist Is the First to Take a Selfie With a Cicada

 Trump and Cicadas: Is There a Russian Connection?

 Even the Style and Food sections join in the excitement: ‘Expert Suggestions for Removing 
Cicadas from Your Shoes’; and ‘Cicada Crunch: A Protein-Packed, Summer Casserole With No 

 Some claim cicadas even taste like shrimp which, if true, will come in handy, because that’s what 
the Chinese government wants citizens to do. The South China Morning Post reports the city of 
Hangzhou, located in eastern China, is under attack by cicadas and a city official is urging residents 
to save the trees by eating a bug.

 “Sun Xiaoping, the official in charge of green spaces…[said] the best way to deal with the problem 
was for the local community to turn the tables on the creepy-crawlies and do some eating of their 

 Cicadas travel in swarms that can approach one million bugs per acre. That’s enough insects to 
feed an extended Chinese family of 48 for almost a year or a North Korean family for a decade.

There’s been no talk of consumption quota, but it’s still early in the infestation. How cicada crunching 
will affect one’s social credit score is unknown, too. Will eating just one be enough to preserve 
your social credit score or will you get bonus points for sharing recipes?

 Vegans may also face a Hobson’s Choice between obeying their dietary neuroses or maintaining 
a mass-transit level social credit score.

 The fact cicadas as a whole are able to defeat predators by swarming in such large numbers may 
offer hope for fastidious Chinese. The trick is to enter a swarm, eat nothing, but emerge smacking 
their lips. Just don’t forget to face a camera.


 Copyright 2018 Michael Shannon, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A 
Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at mandate.

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