Wednesday, July 18, 2018
In the meanwhile, the rest of us continue to puzzle over why the President of the United States is so unswervingly loyal to Vladimir Putin. Let's look at some of the most prominent suggestions:
The Pee Tape Hypothesis
By comparison with some other embarrassing episodes that have come to light, the tape described in the Steele dossier is small potatoes. Even if Tr*mp was in the bed, naked, and photographed from an extremely unbecoming angle, religious conservatives would find it in their hearts to give him another "mulligan" — and the rest would call it a CGI "forgery" by "Hollywood liberals."
The Fragile Ego Hypothesis
While his reluctance to believe that Putin helped him win the presidency may explain Tr*mp's hostility to the Mueller probe, it does not explain his affinity for Putin. In truth, he ought to be more likely to resent Russian interference if it detracts from his "glorious victory."
The Fred Trump Hypothesis
It seems obvious that Our President's hyper-authoritarian, racist, and conscience-free father was instrumental in warping young Donald's tender infant psyche and demagnetizing his moral compass. While this helps to explain Tr*mp's admiration for the likes of Rodrigo Duterte and Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Fred never taught his son to knuckle under to a competitor — and certainly not to a competitor significantly weaker than himself.
The Arrant Corruption Hypothesis
The Nixon-era admonition to "follow the money" seems like the most promising path to understanding the Tr*mp-Putin connection. It remains unclear whether or not the Mueller task force has gained access to Tr*mp's tax returns, or how carefully cash transfers from Russian kleptocrats to the Trump Organization may have been laundered, but investors in Manhattan real estate never have been known for their moral rectitude. If the corruption hypothesis is correct, it may be advisable for Tr*mp to give up the presidency in time for President Pence to issue a blanket pardon.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Formula for Profits
Delegates to the UN's World Health Assembly were blindsided by US opposition to a resolution encouraging breast feeding and condemning misleading promotions of infant formula; apparently they forgot that breast milk is free and that infant formula is the product of a $70 billion industry. Ecuador, threatened with trade sanctions and suspension of military aid, had to withdraw its sponsorship; other developing nations faced similar threats. The final, slightly weakened resolution had to be sponsored by Russia.
Susan Collins says she won't vote to confirm a Supreme Court candidate who shows "hostility" to Roe v. Wade. Rest assured that Kavanaugh will show no hostility at all until he votes to overturn it. Given that readiness to overturn Roe was a requirement for inclusion on the list of jurists the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation prepared for Tr*mp, Collins should have opposed all of them from the start, including Neil Gorsuch.
While insisting that all NATO members rapidly increase their military spending to 2% of GDP, Tr*mp strongly suggested the extra money be used to patronize American military contractors. In truth, 2% of GDP seems a very reasonable expenditure for defense, and the US could set a good example by reducing its military spending to 2% of GDP (from 3.5%). Do we really need all that overpriced hardware to combat jihadists wearing suicide vests?
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
On this date in 1776, an assembly of wealthy planters and merchants signed a document asserting it was "self-evident, that all men are created equal." It was America's founding hypocrisy.
What actually is self-evident to anybody over the age of 12 is that wealth creates power, and that power creates wealth. With only minimal interruptions, that has been the story of America — and the story of the world. Once in a while, economic disaster combines with an especially incompetent plutocracy, resulting in a need to make enough concessions to placate an angry mob. If things are especially bad, a new gang of plutocrats will push the old gang aside.
Whoever replaces Anthony Kennedy, rest assured she or he will be a committed corporatist, just as Kennedy has been. Kennedy joined in the Epic Systems v. Lewis decision, which places crippling limitations on class-action lawsuits, making most legal actions against corporate abuse exercises in futility, for both consumers and labor organizations. Janus was just the icing on the cake.
Since corporate America really couldn't care less about abortion rights, the fate of Roe v. Wade will be purely a political decision; but the Supreme Court already has allowed reproductive choice to be nickel-and-dimed away over much of the country, so there may be little practical change no matter how Susan Collins chooses to vote. (Corporations do care about trade policy, though — so Tr*mp's hold over corporatist Republicans may be less secure than he believes.)
So, what's a frustrated leftist – or even a small-d democrat – to do? Historical approaches include mass civil disobedience, boycotts, and strikes, preferably cloaked in populist patriotism. Sharpen your pitchforks, peasants — but always remember to point them where the money is.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
I don't have to be "civil" to Nazis. I don't have to be "respectful" to white supremacists, oppressors of women, gay bashers, holy hypocrites, baby snatchers, or any of their self-serving enablers. Kirsten Nielsen can choke on her fajita, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders can shove her cheese plate up her ass.
I don't have to feel any sympathy for the gun toting cretins in their MAGA hats, no matter how fearful or confused or flat-out stupid they happen to be. When they parrot their despicable Fox News hatemongers, I will not be bothered to hide my disgust or restrain my contempt.
Recent actions in the service of our Psychopath-in-Chief, too numerous and too despicable to describe in this small space, have left me to choose between anger and despair. I choose anger. Watch out.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Most Americans are horrified by the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at our southern border, and plenty of politicians, whatever their real feelings, have concluded it is in their best interest to say they are as well. Even our Psychopath-in-Chief has mouthed concern, while blaming Democrats for the damage he has done.
The "deterrent effect" claimed by Jeff Sessions is a ruse: desperate families are unlikely to believe that emigration to the US presents a greater threat than the gang violence and poverty that drives them from their homes. Immigrant children are just the latest bargaining chips in the Republican effort to remake American immigration policy: holding DACA recipients hostage was not enough to sway Democratic votes in Congress, so Republicans have upped the ante. "If we kidnap the babies," one imagines Stephen Miller whispering in Tr*mp's ear, "you'll get your Wall."
One only can hope this latest "negotiating tactic" is ineffective: that Democrats will hang tough, and that enough Republicans will find (or feign) the decency required to reject the radical and racist Ryan "compromise" bill, forcing a humane, immediate resolution of the current showdown. Too much damage already has been done.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Our President has advised us that we can "sleep well tonight" because "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." Presumably, that means he will ignore entreaties from John Bolton and refrain from a first strike: there never was any threat that North Korea would begin a war with the US.
While Tr*mp is deciding where to display his Nobel Peace Prize, most of the world is trying to figure out just what the US may have gained from the strikingly nebulous Singapore agreement. Kim achieved his primary objective: China and Russia now can gracefully back out of the US imposed sanctions regime. As a surprise added bonus, he got an end to the annual joint military exercises the US has conducted with the South. (Tr*mp accurately described those as "war games.")
As for the "Great Negotiator," one more opportunity to strut across the screens of Fox News viewers seems hardly worth the trip. One wonders whether North Korea's famously skilled hackers may have penetrated Russian computers and secured a copy of the Piss Tape. And wouldn't it be wonderful if Canadian, French, or German hackers could do the same?
Monday, June 11, 2018
Reflection on the G7 meeting leads to two inevitable conclusions:
• The "American Century" has ended a bit early.
• That piss tape must be truly extraordinary.
It is hard to imagine anything more Our President could have done to antagonize our closest allies and advance Russia's diplomatic agenda; and his ad hominem attacks on Justin Trudeau were the icing on the cake. While ignorance, hubris, and a perishingly fragile ego may go a long way towards explaining the latest presidential tantrum, it is hard to ignore the fact that so much of the Tr*mp "agenda" accrues to the benefit of Vladimir Putin.
I will not venture to guess what new mayhem may be unleashed tomorrow in Singapore, but I have a strong suspicion that Kim Jong-un is the better prepared and better advised partner to the negotiations — and that, somehow, Russia will come out ahead. In the meanwhile, here's my nominee for tweet of the week: