You might have missed this rather important news since our media is deeply mired in the Donald Trump “Destroy America Campaign” for the Presidency, but over there in the Middle East, a piece of good news has emerged.   No, not the assault in Iraq to retake Mosul, but in adjacent Syria where anti-ISIS fighters have retaken the small town of Dabiq.  And why you might ask is this important?  Well, when Dabiq was overrun by ISIS back in 2014, it was hailed as the beginning of the final, apocalyptic, Grand Battle between the faithful of Islam and the Christian infidels.  This apocryphal prediction dates back to Islam’s founder, the Prophet Mohammad. 

In a prophecy attributed to Muhammad, the Prophet predicts the Day of Judgment will come after the Muslims defeat Rome at al-`Amaq or Dabiq, two places close to the Syrian border with Turkey. Another prophecy holds that Rome’s allies will number 80. The Muslims will then proceed to conquer Constantinople.

The meadow outside the small village of Dabiq, Syria is a strange setting for one of the final battles of the Islamic apocalypse. Although close to the Turkish border, “Dabiq is not important militarily” observed a leader in the Syria opposition. And yet the Islamic State fought ferociously to capture the village this summer [2014]  its members believe the great battle between infidels and Muslims will take place there as part of the final drama preceding the Day of Judgment.

Back in 2014 when ISIS overran territory in Iraq and Syria, on June 29, 2014, the apparent leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared that he stood at the head of a Caliphate, a Muslim state that spanned Syria and Iraq.  Of critical import, is that the Islamic Caliphate cannot exist without territory.  Recall, if you will, that the last Islamic Caliphate, The Ottoman Empire, extended from it’s home in Turkey, across the Middle East, to southern Europe and North Africa.  It was between its beginnings at the start of the 13th Century until it’s collapse after World War I, one of the most long lasting, powerful, advanced and tolerant (for the times) empires in history.  This is the ultimate goal of ISIS, the establishment of such a Caliphate and why Dabiq was crucial to their rise, it was a propaganda gold mine and brought ISIS thousands of new recruits to the cause.   Now that it’s gone – and Mosul hangs by a thread – the dreams of world domination by ISIS are pretty much dashed.

Also somewhat obliterated by the Trump “campaign” has been the slow loss of ISIS held territory throughout the Middle East.  Some 40% of ISIS held territory has been recaptured.  Forty percent, of course, is not 100% and this slow, methodical, recapture of territory from ISIS does not please everyone.  In particular, it does not please Donald Trump who has vowed to “Bomb the shit out of them” much like, let’s remember, the Bush strategy in Iraq that worked out so well.  One assumes that the Trumpettes are also in agreement with the Trump Middle East foreign policy.

This penchant for the “Big Quick Fix” is nothing new among that part of the country who lean conservative and love The Donald (who apparently will wave his magic reality wand as President and solve all our problems) is all into the dramatic quick fixes.  Immigration? Build a wall, deport and jail them.  Trade?  Slap tariffs on imports from China.  Jobs?  Cut taxes.  Abortion? Punish women.  Crime? Law and Order.  Environment?  End EPA “mandates.”  Foreign policy?  Use nuclear weapons.

Sure, this is just a smattering of Trump’s “policies” (which are difficult to discern at best) but in all of what can be called his domestic and foreign policy pronouncements, it is clear that the quick fix is his preferred option.  And why not?  It sounds good.  Sadly, for decades now, conservatives have championed this very approach to solving problems rather than actually figuring out what might be required to, for example, create more, better paying jobs rather than the quick fix of “cutting taxes.” The Tea Party’s remedy for big, overreaching, lying government?  Shut it down, another quick fix.  House Speaker Paul Ryan’s annual remedy to beef up a sluggish economy?  More tax cuts.   Crime?  Law And Order.  Big Fixes all over the map. 

Now it’s true that most people want things to get better – no matter how this is defined – quicker rather than later.  It’s more a less a human condition – when we have a cold or the flu we just want it to end NOW.  But in reality, whether we are discussing public policy or the slow pace of recovering from a case of the flu, most often quick fixes are not “fixes” at all, but emotional balms to make us feel better even when they don’t, in reality, make us physically better.   Now I don’t believe that Donald Trump is stupid even though his policies generally are.  Anyone in the development world (like yours truly) knows very well – excruciatingly well – how governments work, how difficult it can be building a building anywhere.   And if Trump has ever done work in Paris or China, for example, he would know – as I do - that their governments and their regulations are much more difficult to overcome than here in America.  We can't hold a candle to the nit-picking French and forever negotiating Chinese.  

On the other hand, Trump’s “quick fixes” resonate profoundly with his supporters.  It’s exactly how Ronald Reagan was able to bamboozle the American public into electing him twice.    The Trumpettes believe that they have been discriminated against, ignored and disenfranchised by One World, multi-cultural, minority favoritism for decades (by us libruls) and they want this fixed NOW!  This is the very bedrock of Trump’s popularity.  But change, surely when we are talking about tax reform, trade reform, political reform, immigration reform cannot be accomplished quickly.  All of these issues – if or when they might be addressed seriously – would take new legislation, the enactment of new laws, to fix them.   No magic reality wand is going to have the slightest impact.  Our tax code for example, hasn’t been reformed in almost three decades (27 years to be precise) and the prospect for such legislative action under the current conditions in Congress are nil.  But this is the only way that Middle Class families will not continue to be crushed by tax cut proposals that greatly benefit the wealthy and corporations but leave them with a few hundred dollars more in their pockets after each and every “tax cut” Congress enacts all the while continuing the long, slow slide into virtual impoverishment. 

Looking for the “quick fix” is a route that only leads to short term results that might “feel good” but don’t actually change the fundamental issues and problems that underlie some of the nation’s most pressing problems.   In a way, I find all the “proposals” that Donald Trump is throwing out to the public refreshing.  While House Speaker Paul Ryan can propose even more tax cuts in his “A Better Way” that have been ignored by the media,  the media attention Trump has sought and received means that the press (at long last) is examining his policy proposals and they are pretty damning and damaging.  It is estimated that Trump’s “biggest tax cut in American history” would result in the following according to Forbes magazine:

1.  47% of Trump tax cuts would flow to the richest 1% of Americans.
2.  Reduces the top rate for business income to 15%
3.  Trump’s tax plan costs the U.S. Treasury $6.2 trillion and would result in an increased debt of $7.2 trillion. 
4.  The poorest 20% of Americans would receive a $110 savings raising their after tax income by 0.8%.
5.  Middle income households would receive a $1010 savings raising their after tax income by 1.5%.
6.  The top 1% of Americans would receive a $214,690 savings raising their after tax income by 13.5%.

I’m not sure what you call this.  But what I am sure of is that it is exactly what 30 years of tax cuts have accomplished:  made the rich wealthier and working and middle class families poorer.  On the other hand, just as soon as the words “tax cuts” emerge from any politicians mouth, a certain segment of the American public (too large in my view) immediately champions this cry without understanding that they are – in reality – getting screwed.  This “tax cut” meme is exactly the kind of quick fix that continues to bamboozle the Trumpettes and makes them even more devoted to him.  But the facts of the matter, simply do not support this public policy.  We’ve had thirty years of this sloganeering passing for public policy rather than public policy based on research, data and facts. 

We simply cannot stand any more of this bullshit.

Have A Good Day Folks!    


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