Trump’s Cruise Missile Viagra; Gorsuch; and a PODCAST: Bataan Death March–75 years later; and beyond whitewashing of “Ghost in the Shell”


Mr. America First, Donald Trump, the man who never met a wall he didn’t like, has no compassion for the undocumented. Same for the 24 million people he’d gladly lop off Obamacare, or the countless others impacted by his pro-military budget. He’s never shown any real concern for Syrian refugees. But show him pictures of the latest victims of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s sarin gas attack in Syria, and Trump is a different guy–at least, that’s what we’re supposed to believe.

Like a guy who’d cry at Mike Flynn’s going away party.

If you buy that, I have a set of Trump University DVDs I’d like to sell you.

In a video statement Thursday night from Mar-a-Lago, Trump spoke of the “slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.” Said Trump: “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

A touch of humanity?

Sorry. Not buying it.

It’s just his way of soft-selling nearly 60 tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria.

Trump didn’t even seek Congressional approval, although some were told beforehand.

It may not be needed, if it’s just a signal to the world that the U.S.–despite Trump’s inaugural message–was still going to be the moralistic big dog in the fight against chemical weapons.

Trump implied the strikes were retaliation for Syria’s violations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, calling for “all civilized nations to join us.”

So maybe this will be a limited action.

But maybe not.

Syria is as complicated as the Middle East gets. More complicated than health care. More complicated than putting together a travel ban. And you know how good Trump’s been with those.

One strike may not be good enough in a land where wars last forever.

It’s easy to rail out against a brutal dictator like Assad. But I have a hard time believing Trump is staying up late at night crying for the innocent.

Trump is an opportunist. And a showman.

Consider what a few cruise missiles do for a limp presidency.

On the night he entertains China’s President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Trump flexes a little muscle for his guest and interested parties in places like North Korea. Tomahawks anyone? Message delivered.

This is also the week his approval ratings have dipped to 35 percent. Nothing like flashes of humanity and military strikes to goose up the numbers.

And with all Trump’s problems concerning Russian meddling, a military attack works wonders for all that. Devin Who?

Although news reports say the U.S. did not consult Syria’s enabler, Russia, “for approval” prior to the attacks, CNN reported that Russian ground forces were tipped off to “reduce Russian casualties.” Courtesy call?

There’s enough to suggest to Trump’s doubters that he’s not 100 percent beholden to Putin. Maybe just 40 percent.

All that this week, plus the Senate goes nuclear to assure that by Friday afternoon, the next Supreme Court justice is Trump’s pick, Neil Gorsuch.

That will be no cause for celebration, considering the humanity Gorsuch showed in dealing with the case of Grace Hwang.

So much is happening that it’s spoiling the joy of seeing Steve Bannon demoted to millionaire toady and hanger-on. It’s a comedown for a man who just in January was seen as the de facto president.

Will the weekend promise even more? More strikes? A response from other countries? An opportunity for the Philippines’ Duterte, in the same way Bush got the very first support from the Philippines for his Iraq war? As you’ll learn in the podcast, the Philippines has always been there for the U.S.

And then there’s the visit of China’s Xi Jinping. Will he be impressed by any of what he’s seen? He’s a non-golfer with Trump in Mar-a-Lago. Will it be a working weekend? Maybe they’ll do takeout?

PODCAST–Emil Amok’s Takeout

Trump is mushy about the brutal killings in Syria.

I wonder if he’ll mention the brutal treatment and war crime that was the Bataan Death March.

Sunday, April 9th is the 75th anniversary of that historic event. The American Filipino community is commemorating it at the Presidio in San Francisco on Saturday.

Few people seem to know much about the significance of Bataan in World War II.

For example, did you know 10,000 Filipinos died, compared to 650 Americans, during the march?

Maybe that’s why it is often left out of high school history books.

In California, a new initiative has succeeded in getting Bataan back in the 11th grade curriculum.

So while MacArthur returned, maybe we will see Bataan return to the history books.

Here’s one thing I learned. Many of the Filipino vets were members of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. The USAFFE. They were Filipinos in the Philippines answering President Roosevelt’s call to serve. They made up most of Bataan veterans. They also made up the bulk of the Filipino WWII vets who fought for benefits denied by the Rescission Act.

The Filipino vets from the Philippines were different from those Filipinos already in the U.S., who arrived as “American nationals.” Bataan affected them differently. It inspired them to join the war effort.

On the podcast, I speak to Daniel Phil Gonzales, Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University, to put Bataan into context 75 years after.

Daniel Phil Gonzales.jpg

For many people, all they know about Bataan is likely from the 1945 movie, “Back To Bataan,” starring John Wayne.

There was one other main character in that movie.

General Masharu Homma helmed the death march for the Japanese Imperial Army. He was convicted and executed for his war crimes on April 3, 1946.

But the height of indignity may be the portrayal in “Back to Bataan.”

He was played by Leonard Strong, a white man, who made a living in Hollywood playing



Playing Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans was his bread and butter.

In fact, Jenn Fang, author of the Reappropriate blog, said the director of “Ghost in the Shell” mentioned “Back to Bataan” as an example of Hollywood’s love of whitewashing Asian characters.


On the podcast, I talk to Jenn about how Hollywood destroyed the inspirational manga film of her youth in the live action remake of “Ghost in the Shell.”

She said “whitewash” is too benign a term for what it does to Asian women in particular, and Asians in general.

It’s all on Episode 8 of _Emil Amok’s Takeout_.

Listen to that episode and all the others in the player here:

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.
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