Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Womp, Womp

The title of this post consists of two words uttered by Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski:

Corey Lewandowski dismissed the story of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was reportedly separated from her mother after crossing the border illegally.
While appearing Tuesday on Fox News, former senior Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas shared an anecdote he had read about "a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome" who had been "taken from her mother and put in a cage."
"Womp womp," the former Trump campaign manager responded.

Who knows what Lewandowski may have meant by that deep utterance.

What it means to me is an excellent synopsis for the slow death of all ethics and even pretend-ethics in the Trump Reich: 

Trump praising the strength of the North Korean dictator who has murdered many and keeps his people like some farmers keep cattle?  The pictures of Trump with the French president Emmanuel Macron in the White House replaced with pictures of Trump with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator?

Womp, womp.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My Trump Rant, Saturday 6/16/18

While we are mesmerized by the circus our Dear Leader is giving us (the panem et circenses principle of governing), the busy little Republican termites are gnawing at the floor of this republic,  and the bully boyz and girlz in the administration of our Dear Leader are redecorating the public rooms of this republic by demolishing most everything which doesn't benefit the interests of the moneyed elite or of the radical right-wing religionists.

These are among the things which are happening:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Today's Anti-Feminism: Young Women's Leadership Summit And The Lack of Feminist Critique of Islam

1.  The conservative Young Women's Leadership Summit takes place between June 14th and 17th:

Turning Point USA, the student-aimed conservative organization that raises its money by stoking fear among rich conservative donors about the alleged liberalization of college campuses, will host its fourth annual Young Women’s Leadership Summit June 14 through 17. Slated to address the young women attending is a roster packed full of misogynists.
And, indeed, there's an anti-feminist for each of my ten fingers, as the linked story tells us.   Many are of the "biology-is-destiny-but-only-for-women-psst-your-eggs-are-getting-old" type, others like the variation of "boys-will-be-boys-and-will-harass-girls, " and yet others are of the "feminism-is-cancer" type.  It's wonderful to think how such speakers will motivate young conservative women toward leadership!

Maybe in the sense of the Aunties in Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale?

And the Republican Party wonders why they have trouble getting women to run for political office...

Even Jordan Peterson will be present!  Maybe he will introduce those young conservative women to this question of his:

“Is it possible that young women are so outraged because they are craving infant contact in a society that makes that very difficult?”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Summit

I listened to Trump's press conference while cleaning behind the bookcases*.   I learned that his memory is so good he doesn't need to have any information archived, and I also learned that no previous American president could manage to do anything about the problem of the Korean peninsula, because they weren't focused on it, and even if they were, they didn't have Trump's negotiation skills or the great people he has.

I also learned that Trump loves Kim Jong-un**, but he doesn't love Justin Trudeau, and the iconic photograph of the G7 meeting where Angela Merkel appears to scold him is just not real, because he gets on with Merkel very well.  And of course I learned that this short summit was a great success.

Which it may well have been, at least for North Korea***, given that I didn't catch anything about how the promised denuclearization of the country would be verified.  Perhaps that is something for future "hashing-out of details?" 

And all those pesky human rights violations?  Well, the two countries may become more similar over time through a different developmental path, what with the current US practice of separating children from their parents at the southern border, for those who lack proper travel documents.

I don't want to be too cynical.  A face-to-face meeting of the two "dictators" is certainly a noteworthy event and could well lead to some easing of the tensions in the two Koreans if competent people continue the needed negotiations.

Finally, here's the picture of Trump with Kim Jong-un and the flags of the two countries.  I'm going to momentarily cease my slightly more serious writing to note that aliens from outer space would get weird ideas about Terran men's hairstyles if all they had as evidence was this one picture:


*  Yes, I am bonkers.  But I'm also getting rid of hundreds of books.

The bookcases are tall, not moved for years, because books have the odd habit of multiplying when removed from the shelves and then there's no floor-space to move the cases.  I found dog hair behind them and one embroidery I had forgotten I made.

**  He loves dictators, warlords and strong men, probably, because he loves adulation and people who wish to keep their heads attached to their necks will adulate the dictators, warlords or strong men who hold the power over them.  Trump wants that adulation.

He doesn't love democratically elected leaders, because they are all beta men or crooked women and weak.  Very weak.

***  Even getting the dictator normalized by having him stand next to America's very own dictator-to-be is a victory.  And Trump seemed to promise to cease the military training exercises that the US military has been carrying out with the South Koreans.  That came as a surprise for many South Koreans and the US military stationed there.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Listicle of Trump News, To Mess Up Your Day

The only mentally sound way to read news about Trump is as a form gallows humor.  It would be perfect if we were watching the end of the Western liberal coalition from another planet while drinking beer and munching on popcorn.

1.  Speaking of beer, Trump's tariffs on aluminum will be paid by those who drink beer in the US:

Tariffs on aluminum used for beer cans “does kind of hit home” in Wisconsin, Sensenbrenner said.
American brewers fill and sell about 36 billion aluminum cans and bottles per year. Those cans hold 62 percent of the beer volume sold in the U.S., according to the Beer Institute that represents the industry.
Aluminum cans are the single largest cost in U.S. beer production, according to an analysis from the economic research firm John Dunham & Associates.
“The aluminum tariff is a tax on beer and will have severe consequences for brewers,” John Dunham said.
Beer drinkers will “ultimately” bear the cost of it, he said.
Hilarious, and so is the rest of that linked article, talking about the great costs of Trump's tariff policies to rural America.  That, my sweet friends, is where Trump's base is located.*

Friday, June 08, 2018

Winning Bigly In The Trade Wars?

I love Catherine Rampell's take on the trade wars Trump started.  She explains in very simple terms what is new about Trump's tariffs, and what the likely consequences for the US will be:  Mostly negative.

That is because the other countries are not led by narcissistic simpletons.  When they decided on their first counter-attack in this war Trump began, they chose to put tariffs on only those US products which they can easily buy from other countries than the US (which keeps the suffering of their own consumers and industries low), AND they chose to put tariffs on products which are more likely to hurt Trump's base (items such as Kentucky bourbon, Iowa-farmed pork and Ohio-made washing machines).

In terms of the potential effects on the US, Rampell gives us these estimates:

A report released this week by the Trade Partnership, a consulting and research firm, estimated that the ratio of jobs lost to jobs gained from Trump’s trade actions will be about 16 to 1: 26,280 steel and aluminum jobs gained, compared with 432,747 jobs eliminated throughout the rest of the economy.
But not to worry!  Things have never been this great under any other president!  That the current strong labor markets are due to Obama's policies (as these things work with a time lag) will be ignored by all, though the slump which now will follow from the trade wars is probably going to be attributed to Obama among the right-wingers.*

I managed to write nicely until that last paragraph.  There I failed, because I read about Trump's temper tantrums.  He doesn't want to go to the G7 meeting, because the other kids were mean to him, and narcissists cannot take that. 

Indeed, he plans to leave before the discussion would turn to climate change and the environment.   How dare the other six leaders be angry at Trump for breaking the liberal Western alliance and endangering the environment!

Well, there will probably be the G6 in the future**, with Angela Merkel leading it.

* In this odd tribal era with its strong racist tinge, everything that Obama achieved must be dismantled. 

Hence the court case by several states concerning "Obamacare" (ACA), which may well remove the protections ACA has provided to individuals with pre-existing conditions. 

Before the ACA, insurers in the individual markets could turn people down if they were deemed too expensive to insure, or charge them much more for any policy. 

And this is a likely outcome from the court case by several Republican-led states:

The Trump administration won't defend central provisions of the Affordable Care Act, saying in a legal filing Thursday night that key parts of the Affordable Care Act should be invalidated and that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
The filing came in a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states who have filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging the constitutionally of the Affordable Care Act. The states argue that after Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate last year, effective in 2019, it destabilized other sections of the law.
"In its filing the DOJ said that it agrees with Texas that the individual mandate is now unconstitutional and therefore it will not defend key provisions of the law in the suit," said Timothy Jost, of Washington and Lee University School of Law.
The provisions DOJ says should be invalidated are central to the ACA and would gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Got it?  The Trump administration first removes the individual mandate, then agrees that without the individual mandate ACA cannot work.   We can all now rejoice, for the horrible burden of having almost all the citizens in the country with access to health care will now be taken off our backs!  Should that back later break, however, we are on our own.

** This is not to be read as general support for the kind oligarchic political power relationships which currently prevail in international politics.  But all Trump is offering is chaos.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Worrying About the Online World And Democracy

1.  In May Timothy Snider wrote an opinion piece on the return of fascism in the Washington PostHe argues that the Internet has not spread freedom around the world but rather its opposite:

According to Freedom House, every year since 2005 has seen a retreat in democracy and an advance of authoritarianism. The year 2017, when the Internet reached more than half the world’s population, was marked by Freedom House as particularly disastrous. Young people who came of age with the Internet care less about democracy and are more sympathetic to authoritarianism than any other generation.
As usual, correlation does not prove causality.  But it's certainly true that the serious harms of the Internet have not yet been addressed.