Sunday, December 10, 2017

Republicans Are Learning To Enjoy The Taste Of Fascism

While the vandals holds the White House they also hold the Congress and the Judiciary as hostages. We can change the Congress. The courts are more permanent.

The New Yorker reports on Trump's plan to nail his regime into place via lifetime court appointments.

In Newsweek, Robert Reich describes how Trump's regime is using strategies used against organized crime to shut down the free speech of his opponents.

In the Guardian we learn that Session's DOJ is using video produced by the bogus propaganda outfit Project Veritas as evidence against people who protested at Trump's inauguration.

Recognizing the ironies won't save us. Irony is passive. We need outrage.

Think Trump is too outrageous for most people’s taste? He may win out by becoming ever more outrageous, the way Roy Moore has done, the way many outrageous autocrats have done down through history, by outrunning norms, by harnessing the anger of a minority to cow everybody else. By turning “He won’t do that” into “He did that."

At this point the Republicans in Congress seem uncomfortable with him but they are enabling him. A year ago when he boasted about sexual assault they abandoned him then quickly crawled back to him, a process they have repeated several times since as he has said and done increasingly outrageous, hateful, and insane things.

The Republicans are creeping toward fascism. They are saying they dislike it but are obviously trying very hard to get used to the taste. Soon they will ask for seconds. Then they will put it on the menu. Then it will be the only menu item. Then the menu will be made compulsory.

By refusing to seat judges appointed by an elected president for two years they violated norms. By seating and supporting this president (who the evidence increasingly indicates gained office with the help of a foreign enemy, who boasts about sexual assault, who lies daily, who hurls insults at our foreign allies and flatters foreign enemies, whose businesses have apparently engaged in massive money laundering for decades, who obsesses over conspiracy theories any ten year-old would know are bogus, who is loudly racist, who admires Nazis and Klansmen and foreign dictators, who appears to be losing his mind) the Republican Party is engaged in a bizarre ritual. They say they abhor the behaviors of this president then they solidly support and defend him.

As if they have discovered a gang rape in progress––for the past year they have said they are not in favor of what is going on and plan to halt it… just as soon as they have had their turn…

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How America Is Adopting The Russian System

Can anyone else see this administration getting their orders from a foreign enemy? That’s what appears to be going on. They don't wake up every morning thinking "How can I weaken America today?" but the orders they carry out do just that. Shutting down the foreign service leaves us blind and deaf and mute. What country would do that to itself? Alienating allies isn’t a wise policy. Doing the bidding of a foreign rival in key parts of the world is also unwise but that is what Trump is doing in Europe and the Mideast. The world that used to admire and work with us now distrusts us. (MinnPost's Eric Black writes about the sudden decline in America's standing in the world)

We base our policy on what we know and we secure our safety with intelligence gathering. What do the Republicans do? They shut that down. (Here is a POLITICO article about one piece of that shutting down of our intelligence gathering system) Partly because the intelligence agencies found out that Trump was working under the direction of a foreign enemy, that his national security advisor was on the payroll of that enemy and various other Trump officials were also employed by the Russian spy agencies. The solution, say the Republicans, is to shut down our spy agencies. Why have spy agencies when our orders are coming from the spy agencies of our enemy? OK, I exaggerate, but this year has unfolded in an exaggerated and unlikely fashion. This is the direction we are headed in.

But it isn’t as simple as that. The Republicans’ BIG IDEA has always been to privatize everything. Private schools, private healthcare, privately run roads and public lands and waterways owned and operated by rich corporations run by rich friends. Now the idea is privatized national security. Why have oversight by democratically elected officials when you can have the spies run by rich friends. You’re more likely to gain intelligence that matches your preconceptions and your delusions. Intelligence that you can weaponize without anyone stopping you.

The Intercept has a new article about how the Trump junta is seeking to create its own private spy service, under the direction of Erik Prince, one of the intermediaries who sought to create back channels between Trump and his masters in Moscow)

This extreme privatization of the public sector is the Russian model. After the collapse of Gorbachev the entire Soviet infrastructure was sold off cheap (or given outright) to the cronies of the new leaders. Putin’s oligarchs are the former mobsters who ran the criminal underworld and black market under the Soviet system. Everything now belongs to them, the water rights, the mineral rights, the forests, the land, the industry, the roads, the railroads, the workers, everything. The people are dependent on these things owned by the Putinists so they hear and obey what their new masters tell them. And the new masters hear and obey Putin who can jail and execute any oligarch who crosses him or fails to pay him his kickbacks. This is the new model being set up by the radical Republicans and Trump: a kleptocracy as ugly as any central African state where the oligarchs are obscenely rich and own everything. The biggest, baddest, richest autocrat of them all is now the boss of our president. In effect Vlad Putin is our leader now. Trump, by comparison, is a small time hoodlum and con artist. A petty criminal.

Is it any wonder millennials have doubts about capitalism? (Today's NYTimes column by Michelle Goldberg is about this) Weaponized capitalism is something that’s evolved in recent decades, after the Lewis Powell memo and the Reagan Revolution, as Americans stopped questioning the absolute unquestionable perfection of the capitalists. The Republican tax bill nails down the absolutism of the people who own for a living and the impoverishment and submission of the people who work.

If there were any question about Republicans’ contempt for working people it was clarified perfectly in the comments of Senator Grassley and Senator Hatch. We are now a divided people: a handful of extremely rich people on top and below them, far below them, a rabble of workers half of whom despise the system and half who worship and obey the capitalists without question.

Our history didn’t need to lead us here.

After capitalism failed in 1929-33, FDR saved it and put it on a fairer and stabler footing with the New Deal. Capitalism in this form created several decades of prosperity and contentedness from 1945 to 1980 or so.

Then Reagan began reconverting it into the Harding/Coolidge/Hoover model that triggered the 1929 collapse. This reconversion eventually led to inequality and unfairness and predatory fraud and instability and collapse in 2008, when Obama rescued it again.

After eight years spent blocking Obama’s efforts to restore the fairness and stability we enjoyed for those great decades the Republicans have regained power and are making the final draconian changes that will restore the bad old days. Perhaps they realize they’ll need to uphold this with a fascist government, full surveillance and a removal of free and fair and honest information. Their goal is to make our misery and deprivation and ignorance and deception as profitable as possible.

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

How To Make The Harm Permanent

As we are calculating how many ways Trump and the Republicans are screwing all of us, and how bad it will be, we wonder what we can do. Where else is this shit happening?

The Guardian reports that Tony Blair is working to reverse Brexit

Americans are envious of a system that makes it possible to undo the harm done by political fraud. In our country we have a situation where the bank robbers have been discovered in the bank, they have taken 350 million hostages, and are busily looting everything from the building before they burn it down. Our only solution under the U.S. Constitution is to throw out the leader of the criminal gang and appoint the deputy gang boss as the new president of the bank.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Keeping Our Eye On The Ball

While the Congress enacts mass transfers from working people to the very rich we can't let ourselves forget why this is happening and how it happened.

This kleptocratic government that's screwing us is set up along the lines of Russia's kleptocracy. The rubles that Putin is using to buy our government was first stolen from his own people. Now it's our turn.

Why does Trump defer to Putin and act like he’s Putin’s poodle?

From NYMagazine: Trump defers to Putin like he's his boss

How Putin got his hooks into Trump, explained by former intel director

John McClaughlin in Politico

How Trump walked into Putin's web.

The Long Read from the Guardian

How Trump is being played by Putin…

In Vanity Fair

When our leader is under the thumb of an enemy power, this stuff happens… His administration puts our Russian embassy in the control of the Russians.

From the BBC: How Trump gave our Moscow embassy security operations to Putin's former KGB boss

Putin's control over Trump via an army of trolls. From Bloomberg

Why are open democracy’s vulnerable? From the New Yorker

Trump has fascist tendencies, says Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz in the Guardian.

Trump is corrupt, therefore his administration is corrupt. It does as he does. Reported by VOX

There is a new media model out there to enable and empower dictators and suppress and manipulate people. Trump loves it.

The global armies of fake news trolls being used to fuck with democracy, reported in the Guardian.

With Trump in the White House, the mob is in control. But the mob is under his control. And he is under Putin’s control. And the control of the billionaire class. Only they get real information, by sucking it up via our social media. What they force back out on us via social media is disinformation. Which is why they fear real journalists and real journals. From the NYTimes

The key to fascism is to routinely and vigorously poison the public discourse, make people fear and hate each other. Trump learned this trick from Putin.

In the New York Review of Books, the great Russia watcher Masha Gessen.

Why do Americans feel more stressed and afraid than ever? Because they can sense our democracy is in peril. Along with our entire planet. Reported out by APA

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump And The End Of American Democracy

The authors of new books about Trump's degradation of American democracy appeared on Morning Joe today.

The Steel Dossier allegations are being corroborated making it clearer all the time that Putin had his hooks into Donald Trump from the beginning. That Donald Trump has been and continues to be a Putin puppet.

What does Putin want? Besides overturning the sanctions the US imposed on his oligarchs after the invasion of Crimea, Putin wants to create chaos in the U.S.

Where have we heard that before?

Chaos is Steve Bannon's brand

Steve Bannon has compared himself to Lenin, which is odd enough for a right wing operator. His overarching theory or goal is to create chaos. He has said this repeatedly in his safari jacket TED style talks. He sees this moment as his “Fourth Wave” where the whole system is overturned. He thinks of himself as a Robespierre figure, a Lenin, an agent of mass destruction tearing down democratic institutions he doesn’t like. His goal, apparently, is to create a new American dictatorship with himself at the top, securely fastened there by his connections to shadowy billionaires whose fortunes came from disruption.

We see the damage he’s doing in every government department where Trump has appointed disruptors to top positions. The nominees may just as well have been sent from Moscow. The Dept of Energy, which safeguards our nuclear stockpile, is run by a doofus who wanted to shut down the department. His Health chief was a pawn of big Pharma. His Environmental Protection chief built his career on defending and lobbying for polluters. Their mission is focused on destruction and dysfunction.

Putin whispers in Trump’s ear and Trump insults our allies, undermines our alliances, rubbishes our treaties, exits global agreements American leadership crafted, seeks to pit one ally against the others. And then Trump gives big warm kisses to the worst dictators and kleptocrats around the world. He admires and envies the skill with which democracies have been destroyed and coups have been accomplished. He envies the mass murders of Duterte in the Philippines. He does nothing when Turkish dictator Erdogan brings his dark-suited thugs into the heart of Washington to attack and brutally beat peaceful protesters. This is the style Trump admires and envies. This is how Trump has disgraced the American brand and degraded American leadership in the world.

The Trump junta has had a plan from the start: destroy American democracy and the American way of life, create an angry mob, and ride that angry mob into dictatorial power.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

James II/ Duke of Windsor/ Nixon/ Trump

It's easy to see troubling historic parallels in Trump's behavior as president. Is Trump turning America into a client state like Vichy France? Like Jacobean England? Like the client state Hitler hoped to install––with the Duke of Windsor restored as a puppet king? He also appears to be in the pocket of wealthy Americans, the way Nixon was. That has been a concern in America for decades, but domestic puppetry is less worrying than having foreign puppet masters.

Here are some parallels from history.

James II [like Trump] was compliant and deferential to a foreign power, the French “Sun King”, Louis XIV, who [like Putin] gave him massive financial support. James II was on a foreign allowance. It appears Trump has been on a foreign allowance for decades now.

The Duke of Windsor [like Trump] was flattered, manipulated and seduced by the Nazis [think Putin] who feted him and flattered him and squired him around during his Nazi-paid tour of Germany in 1937. (There's considerable evidence Windsor shared secrets of the allies' defense plans with his Teutonic pals and made it easier for the Germans to blitz France in 1940.)

I also see resemblances between Trump and the way Nixon was bribed by the committee of California bankers, oilmen and real estate magnates who paid into his slush fund in the early 50s––after Nixon made it clear he couldn’t get by on the measly salary paid to members of Congress. The Checkers speech fooled a lot of Americans. Anthony Summers’ Nixon book picks those deceptions apart pretty effectively. Nixon’s financial allowance from his rich backers came in the form of a slush fund, which he hid and denied. Bribery? Slush Fund? Or proper Tribute to a Great Man? Which way do you think Nixon interpreted it? Trump does the same.

If you were to look at these two analogies in a single context, what Trump is involved in seems to fit the definitions of both treason and bribery. Because of his narcissism it’s possible Trump doesn’t understand what treason is. But he appears to have been bribed and lived on bribery from Russia since his empire collapsed in the 90s. He’s lived like a wastrel heir dependent on an allowance managed by his guardians, who are Russian not American. America let him go bankrupt. America refused to bankroll his life ever since, but Daddy Russia does support him, giving him the respect he deserves. The respect a dog owner gives to the pug sitting on his lap.

Nixon’s rationalization for accepting money from wealthy backers resembles Benedict Arnold’s rationalization for his treason: he deserved better pay. And Arnold subsequently felt a greater loyalty toward those who paid him what he was worth. Gen. Arnold also felt slighted by his countrymen’s failure to recognize his genius, which fits the ease with which Putin can manipulate Trump via flattery and praise. (Nixon was less easily manipulated in this manner.)

The Duke of Windsor’s tour of Nazi Germany was one long parade of military pomp and fancy parties, very much like the Asian tour which has transformed Trump from someone who accuses China of rape and theft into someone who happily praises the Chinese and shifts all blame onto his fellow Americans.

Trump has a reputation for loving military pomp. He envies the Russian parades of nuclear missiles and probably even envies the North Koreans’ mass rallies and parades. When these displays are put on for him he is putty in their hands because he is told it is all for him. They bring out all the toys for him which his own people won’t let him play with.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Putin's Plan For US

If a foreign enemy wanted to harm the U.S., wanted to knock us out of our dominant position in the world, what would they do?

The first thing they’d probably do is blind us so we can’t see what is going on in the world.

They’d make us mute so we couldn’t assert ourselves or persuade other nations to find common cause.

That is what has been happening this past year under the Trump presidency.

VOX reports on what Trump is doing to our State Department

Rachel Maddow reporting on the same story

Rachel Maddow has been telling this story for months now. (Her report back in March) Trump’s degradation of our State Dept, our eyes and ears and voice in the world, is exactly what a foreign enemy would want done if they wanted to knock us out of our leadership position in the world, wanted to make us impotent.

Why are so many people becoming a obsessively focused on the Russia story? Because it fits what is happening. It explains what is happening. The puzzling events of this past year make more sense when you acknowledge this unthinkable possibility.

As the Russia connections among Trump appointees multiply you begin to realize this is the kind of administration Putin would appoint––if we let Putin appoint our government…

Politico lays out the web of Trump/Russia connections

CNN describes the cast of characters

The #2 post in the Executive Branch is the Secretary of State. Trump appointed Rex Tillerson, whose most notable accomplishment was his recent mega oil deal with Putin. For which Putin gave him Russia’s most prestigious medal. Tillerson’s oil deal was iced after Putin invaded Ukraine. Is this Tillerson’s main motive for taking the post? If Putin wanted to appoint our Secretary of State I think he would have picked Rex Tillerson. Someone who shares his, Putin’s, interests and goals.

It goes beyond Tillerson. The Secretary of Commerce is Wilbur Ross, co-owner of the Russian oligarchy’s favorite money laundering bank, a business partner with Putin’s son-in-law. Wilbur Ross's Russia connection via the Guardian

Trump’s campaign was run during the key period where he won nomination by Paul Manafort, who earned millions advancing Putin’s interests, including switching a plank in the party platform that armed independent Ukraine with one that didn’t. Manafort earned his Russian millions strategizing for pro-Russians in Ukraine hoping to return Ukraine to the Russian empire.

There are more, officials high and low, some of them pro-Russian, some simply eager to do things the Russians would love to see us do to ourselves. Degrading education, degrading our environment, degrading alliances, breaking agreements, sowing disunity abroad and at home, abandoning key strategies like the ones opposing climate change (our military has called climate change our biggest current and future threat globally.) Putin has to be enormously pleased at all the stupid shit we are doing to ourselves. He must be astonished that our president and his team are happy to oblige.

Did Putin appoint the president and his team?

Why were the Republicans cool with this?

The Ballad of Sam Clovis via NYMagazine

The sorry saga of Jared's Russia complicity from the Atlantic

From MSNBC, the long story of Trump's Russia connections

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