Saturday, November 26, 2016


It's the end of another era.  One of my adolescent heroes, Fidel Castro, managed to yank the chain of US presidents for over fifty years.  I still chuckle over the Mariel boatlift.  Adios, Fidel.  You pretty much won.

Betsy DeVos
While most of the Left is caught up in bemoaning the appointment of Stephen Bannon, I'm a lot more upset by the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.  DeVos has been trying to "reform" public education in much the same way the Islamist State has tried to "reform" the Yazidis: extermination.  An advocate of public funding (vouchers) for the "Christian academies" that proliferated in response to desegregation, she also supports charter schools as a path towards the complete privatization of education.

The State Department
Romney? Giuliani?  It's hard to imagine Tr*mp settling on either of those.  Maybe he's setting us up for a "compromise" — like John Bolton, perhaps: just as rabid as Giuliani, but with more of Romney's "look of a statesman."  He wasn't terribly statesmanlike when he was W's ambassador to the UN, but I guess you could call his raucous stint there "experience."

Conflict of Interest
There is no way the Tr*mp family can effectively detach itself from its financial entanglements in foreign countries, but can it resist self-dealing?  I am reminded of Aesop's fable about the scorpion and the frog: "It's my nature," the scorpion replied.

Saving the Iran Nuclear Agreement
Trump Tower Teheran?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Outlook outlook

This post was supposed to be the foreign policy outlook, but who the hell knows?  First, I figure, our esteemed leader-to-be has to figure out who is a safe bet to do it for him.

In the meanwhile, it's nice to see backtracking on a bunch of campaign promises.  Somebody probably mentioned that a special prosecutor for Hillary, or  an investigation of the Clinton Foundation might look bad when nobody can find any malfeasance, and it turns out they actually can't "lock her up."  Better to express "pity for the vanquished."  Is it conceivable that the USofA might adhere to the Paris agreement on climate change, or are we just being teased?

This is not to say that plenty of damage won't be done in the name of "law and order" -- Jeff Sessions has the potential to make the concept of civil liberties seem quaint.  Add to that a resurgence of mandatory minimum sentences and a new surge of voter suppression, and the triumph of vindictive moralism will be nearly complete.

Are there two Republican Senators with enough conscience to hold back the worst of the worst?  Maybe.  Probably not.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sociologic Outlook

Stephen K. Bannon.  Need I say more?  Probably not.  Nevertheless, I shall.  I doubt that any of us seriously considered the possibility of a crypto-fascist dictating social policy in the USofA, but now it's time to get serious.  I know I swore off making predictions, but some things are pretty obvious:

It's unlikely that Bannon himself could care less about the right of women to have control over their own bodies, but it's important to a major segment of the Tr*mp coalition: Evangelicals.  Women's reproductive rights will be in serious trouble with any Tr*mp appointment to the Supreme Court, unless one of the sitting conservative Justices is too conservative to approve overturning a decision that's been in place since 1973.  As for birth control, protection from sexual assault, equal pay for equal work, etc., the Magic 8-Ball says, "Uh-oh!"  Opposition is mounting, but will it be enough?

Clearly, disenfranchisement of black and Latino voters through voter suppression will continue, especially since it worked so well in the recent election.  "Law & Order" policies in Republican dominated states and localities will breathe new life, and the prosecution of killer cops will continue to be distressingly rare.  The only bright spot may be some degree of criminal justice reform, since prisons are just too expensive for the tax-cut zealots.  Lobbyists for private prisons, though, continue to spend freely, claiming "cost savings" that don't exist.

The "huddled masses" will keep right on "yearning to breathe free."  While the "wall" will remain a figment of xenophobic imagination, Bannon's Breitbart followers and the National Border Control Council (the pro-Tr*mp union that represents border control agents) will keep up the pressure to expand Obama's already onerous deportation policy.  The budget deficits this will entail will be significant, leading to devastating cuts in funding to more productive areas of government.

The various permutations of gay and trans Americans can expect their rapid gains in civil rights to come to a screeching halt.  Although Tr*mp says that marriage equality is "a settled issue," presidential opinions don't count for much when a conservative Supreme Court issues its rulings.  Hopefully eighty-year-old Anthony Kennedy is in good health.  Meanwhile, the green light is lit and burning brightly as far as gay-bashings and attacks on the transgendered are concerned.

Look for state funding of private and religious schools, defunding of public education at both the K-12 and university levels, new lawsuits challenging affirmative action in admissions, and all federal aid to education provided in the form of block grants with no strings attached.  States will accelerate takeovers of "failing" schools, ensuring that they continue to fail.

Tr*mp's ideas for maintaining the popular parts of Obamacare while eliminating the rest is obviously untenable.  Forget about reining in Big Pharma.  Drug rehabilitation programs will succumb to Evangelical moralism, despite the enormous impact of the heroin epidemic on rural America.  Bannon probably would like to end CHIP, since that would lead to more deaths among the "mud people," but it's probably safe because Tr*mp is too much of an approval whore to countenance killing children.  Congress will delight in defunding the NIH and the NIMH.  Don't get sick!

Did I hear somebody say "block grants?"  The Earned Income Tax Credit is safe, but no longer likely to be expanded to childless families.

Season one of "Political Apprentice" will continue to earn high ratings on cable news.  Intellectuals and artists, both left and right, will be on their own.

What?  Are you kidding?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Economic Outlook

Although the Times still is publishing an extra section to cover election "news," and a lot of young people in urban centers haven't figured out that you're supposed to organize and get active before bad things happen, the dust is beginning to settle.

Somebody seems to have assured Wall Street that our next president will not be starting any trade wars, so the markets have stabilized.  Given Tr*mp's anti-regulatory instincts and the promise of even more tax advantages for the rich, a bit of a bull market certainly isn't out of the question.  Economically, it looks like Republican-as-usual on the horizon.

The narrow Republican majority in the Senate means that Obamacare, such as it is, will be safe for a while — although steady defunding seems inevitable.  In a way, it's a shame: the total elimination of Obamacare could pave the way for genuine national health insurance down the line.  The biggest beneficiaries of the ACA were those newly qualified for Medicaid, and it's pretty clear that letting market forces determine health spending continues to be unworkable.

I wonder how successful Tr*mp can be in moving expensive infrastructure projects past the deficit hawks.  They even might balk at a substantial expansion of border controls.  Forget the "wall" altogether: if there is any real progress towards seizing remittances to Mexico, invest in virtual currency exchanges — or, perhaps, organized crime cartels.

The biggest damage will be done to the fight against climate change — but even there, it seems to be too late to save the coal industry.  Hopefully, though, the industry's last gasps won't be a prelude to our own.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

oh shit...

Well, it's over.  I guess we have no choice but to wait and see what happens next — for example, who actually will be running the country.  We are in for some interesting times.