Friday, July 20, 2018

Trump's Outrages Do Not Matter

Unless they hurt the Republicans in Congress.  As long as the Republican base wants Trump, other Republican politicians will give lip service, reluctantly, against some of the worst of Trumpism.  But they will not act.

The checks and balances have failed.  The executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government are all in Republican hands.  Thus, even though Republican voters are not the majority of Americans, they control everything.

And the role of the press, in a democracy, is severely hampered by a president who calls it the enemy of the people.

Just thought that you want a reminder about the reasons I write such dismal posts, these days, and why they show an obsession on Trump:  I believe in democracy.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Weird Coincidences? Or Does The R Stand For Russia or Republicans?

Are these very weird coincidences or something else?  You decide.

First, on Monday, the US Treasury department

said it planned to end requirements that certain tax-exempt organizations identify their financial contributors on their tax returns.

The decision means groups such as the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, and the AARP will no longer have to tell the IRS who’s giving them money.
This plan would make it easier for dark money to hide. 

Then,  on Wednesday, a Russian citizen, Maria Butina,  was  indicted for working as the agent of a foreign power in the US without registering as one, and perhaps for even spying.  She used the NRA (National Rifle Association) to infiltrate various conservative groups.  Her Russian handler is reported to be Alexander Torshin, a close ally of Putin who used to be a Russian senator.    And:

...the FBI reportedly is investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the Trump campaign through the NRA—which backed Trump with a record $30 million.
There we see a reference to possible dark money, funneled through the NRA.

Another similar pairing caught my eye:

First, we have all been debating if Trump will ever admit that Russia meddled with the 2016 elections, but the rest of us know that Russia did exactly that, and plans to meddle in the 2018 elections, too.*

Then, this happened:

House Republicans plan to vote Thursday on a spending bill that excludes new money for election security grants to states, provoking a furious reaction from Democrats amid a national controversy over Russian election interference.
At issue is a grants program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission and aimed at helping states administer their elections and improve voting systems; Democrats want to continue grant funding through 2019, while Republicans say the program already has been fully funded.

The Republicans in the House are acting in a way which might lend itself to several explanations.  But the most obvious one is that they don't want to have the elections monitored too closely, because that would stop some plan which benefits them.

And, perhaps also coincidentally, all this is exactly what Vladimir Putin desires.  His foreign policy aims at causing distrust in democracy inside the so-called Western liberal countries and at creating mistrust in the government among their citizenry.


* The Washington Post wrote:

Officially, Russia admits nothing about interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections, but Kremlin-controlled state media is not as reserved in its messages designed for internal consumption. Russian state TV hosts brazenly assert, “Trump is ours,” and joke that the U.S. lawmakers traveled to Russia “to make deals with our hackers, so they can rig the midterms in favor of Trump’s team.” They gleefully anticipate that Putin will run circles around “political neophyte” Trump, “educating” him about world events from the Russian perspective.
I don't know if that lawmakers' visit was the one a group of Republicans made over the US Independence Day, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.  The optics, as people say these days, are terrible about making a trip like that on the fourth of July.  But nevertheless, eight Republican Congress critters did exactly that. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How Trump Thinks. My Theory.

 Auguste Rodin:  Thinker

It's impossible for me not to try to understand Donald Trump's mind.  I think it's impossible for a lot of other people, too.  And so I have spent some time making up theories about how he sees the presidency, how he sees the elections and how he sees the press.

These theories do not rule out his narcissism, his megalomania, his unpredictability or his very thin skin, but one, in particular, tends to explain his behavior well. (Let me know what you think.)

Here's the gist of that theory:

Trump's thinking is rigid and concrete and linked to the cult of personality.  He sees the presidency as a dictatorship, and the elections as a way of picking the personal characteristics, beliefs and values of the winning candidate for the nation as a whole,   from that point onward. 

When Trump was declared the winner in November 2016, he interpreted the meaning of this as follows:

Everything he believes is now what America believes.  Because he was already known to hate the European Union when he won, Americans showed that they want a president who hates the European Union, and because he was already known to love Putin* when he won, Americans showed that they want a president who loves Putin. 

Trump doesn't have to learn anything more.  It could even be against the will of the people who wanted what Trump already was.

This theory explains why Trump is so angry with any media criticism and why he equates that media criticism with being an enemy of the country.  The country has  chosen him as the dictator, he and the country are now the same, and to criticize him indeed IS to criticize the country.  Besides, people elected his values, opinions and actions.

The theory also explains why Trump could not anticipate the severe kind of criticism he received after the meeting with Vladimir Putin.  He is now the personification of the country, and any criticism is treasonable, or at least fake news.

Last, but not least, the theory explains Trump's obsession with the 2016 elections.  Now, any president would dislike doubts about his (or, perhaps one day in a thousand years, her) legitimacy, but given Trump's thought patterns, those doubts present an incredible threat to him.  If he didn't win fair and square, then all of what he is was rejected.

* Now why he loves Putin is a different question.  It could be that Putin has something on Trump, or it could be that Trump simply worships warlords and dictators.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

And Then Trump Said:. Or On the Helsinki Meeting And Its Aftermath.

There's a reason
 for treason
and a season, 

That's as far as I have gotten with my political ditty for yesterday, to celebrate the Helsinki* meeting (Putin looking like a sleek gray cat playing with a large tufted orange cat-toy, enjoying its squealing and its skittering, moving a firm paw to redirect it when needed).

Now, treason is a strong word to use, a word we should handle carefully, a word like a red-hot rain of doom, not to be splashed over all the Internet in cat-sized letters.  Let's keep the powder dry for the day when it's really needed... 

And if we keep screaming that the sky is falling, who will believe us when it actually does fall?

By the way, did you notice when it fell?  That might have been some time in 2016.  We may not have a proper word for what happened, a word strong enough, but we all felt that seismic shift.

So take it for granted that I was joking about treason in the above paragraphs, or not**.  Besides,  Trump is still loyal to himself and for him loyalty to himself is loyalty to the country  (" l'├ętat, c'est moi").

After the debriefing with Putin, Trump tweeted this:

And in the meeting itself:

... Mr Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to allegations of meddling in the 2016 presidential vote.
"President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be," he replied.

Who are you gonna believe?  Your own intelligence agencies or Vlad the Impaler?

This is such fun (of the sinister kind):  Now Trump tells us that he misspoke, 24 hours ago,  and had meant to say he saw no reason why it was not Russia that meddled.

His aides got to him, to get that correction,  though it will be fun to see how long that restraining hold might stick.  Or perhaps (I'm bending over backward to be kind here), Trump decided to wait a full day before correcting a mistake that completely changed the meaning of the sentence, one with great political significance, too?

Trump's antics are like a newly-formed scab on a scratch or a cut.  I can never keep my paws off that scab, even though I know that I shouldn't remove it, just to see what's happening under it. 

But I always do.  And so I write about the Trump Reich when there's no real value in such writing.


*  Helsinki is pronounced HELsinki, not HelSINKi.  That was the one informative bit in this post.  You are welcome.

**  I'm learning from the master of manipulation here, our Dear Leader.  Meaning is always whatever one means at a particular moment, truth is what makes one feel good, and every opinion and value can change in the blink of an eye.  The later is why other countries love our Donnie:  He keeps things fresh, life exciting,  and people on their toe tips.

Monday, July 16, 2018

And Then The Incredible Offer!

This is such a hilarious time to be alive (in the tragic sense, of course).  Trump traveled to report to his liege-lord (at the Helsinki briefing) and all went well.  Putin even made an incredible offer about the twelve Russians who work(ed) for Putin's government  and who have now been indicted for interfering in American elections in 2016:
Trump said Monday that Putin made an “incredible offer” to allow US investigators work alongside Russian investigators.
“He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer,” Trump said.

I cannot stop laughing.  I sound like a hyena now.   I bet Putin cannot stop laughing, either.