Friday, March 24, 2017

Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy Is Bigger Than Trump

As the whole “Russian connection” drama plays out in Washington, D.C., we might want to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, Russia has adopted a new foreign policy strategy that is far less reliant on military aggression and far more about covert, subversive activities. The new tools of Russian expansionism are computer hackers, powerful, wealthy oligarchs aligned with Putin and alliances with western alt-right media outlets and politicians.

Of course, you can hardly keep track of the Trump administration players whose Russian connections have been exposed, but the Russian strategy is bearing fruit in Europe, as well. Just today, we learned that French far-right leader Marine Le Pen met with Russian diplomats in Moscow just months before the French presidential election. Russian agents and oligarchs are clearly stoking the flames of nationalism and assisting far-right politicians in their quest for power.

And Russia’s tactics aren’t always highly sophisticated. Good old fashioned blackmail still works, and there are hints and leaks that western politicians, including Donald Trump, have been caught in very compromising situations while guests of the Motherland. Little sets Putin’s government apart from an organized crime ring, as evidenced by political critics and Trump enemies experiencing tragic “accidents” before they are able to spill the beans.

Like every organized crime web, the threads all lead to money. Rachel Maddow has done an exemplary job of putting together the pieces of the Trump/Russia money connections that have stretched back years, and Moscow is today funneling money to nationalist candidates and organizations throughout Europe and the U.S. Media organizations like Breitbart and Alex Jones’ Info Wars are being investigated by the FBI for their possible relationships with Russian agents.

What is Russia’s end game in all of this? It doesn’t take a PhD in international affairs to see that helping countries elect leaders sympathetic to Putin is in the best interest of Russia. Having Western politicians in your pocket is like having money in the bank. There are, however, also great risks to this strategy. Trump is a dangerously unhinged character and a destabilizing force in America. Russia managed to get it’s man into the White House, but he is such a loose cannon that the possibility of this presidency crashing and burning have become very real, and this would not be in Putin’s best interests.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No, Trump Did Not Inherit A Mess. We Have That To Look Forward To.

Since taking office, Trump has said on more than one occasion that he inherited a mess from President Obama. I have run across Trump supporters in comment sections repeating this absurd assertion, once again proving that Turmpland is a fact-free amusement park where you can believe any old thing you want. The earth is 6,000 year’s old? Sure. Dinosaurs and people coexisted? Okay. There’s no such thing as human-influenced climate change? You betcha. Barack Obama left Trump a country in the midst of economic ruin? Why not?

I am not a huge Obama fan, and I believe some of his decisions during his tenure were misguided and not in the best interests of America BUT, for Trump to claim Obama left him a mess simply flies in the face of reality. And let’s also try and be honest about President Obama’s tenure. During his eight years in the White House, the man was faced with a Republican congress that tried, and in many cases succeeded, in thwarting the President’s policy agenda at every turn. The fact that Obama got as much done as he did seems amazing based on his relentless opposition in congress. And the economic mess that George Bush left behind (remember 2008?) put Barack in a hole before he even started.

What Trump actually inherited is a country with an economic expansion that was the third longest on record; an economy that had been adding jobs every month for the past six years; and a federal deficit that had sharply declined from a high of 9.8 percent at the height of the last recession to 3.2 percent last year. In addition, worker wages have been climbing for the past four years and the median household income jumped 5.2 percent in 2014-2015 (the last years records are available).

This isn’t to say everything was rosy when Obama left Washington. Unemployment, income inequality and sluggish growth remained problematic, but has anyone heard from Trump solutions to these issues that don’t involve massive program cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy? No, the mess is currently underway and will only get worse over time. Trump’s plan for the economy will work just as well as Bush’s did, with huge, untenable deficits, declining jobs and wages falling further behind the rising cost of living.

The one who is going to inherit a mess is the president following Trump.

Friday, March 17, 2017

I Have Traveled Back In Time And I Have Proof

Who says time travel is impossible? I have been teleported to the early 17th century and I can prove it. Yes, the clothes and the technology around me are mysteriously similar to what I remember of the 21st century, but daily life in my settlement is clearly pre-enlightenment and therefore I can only conclude I must have been sent back in time. My proof? By Dickens, here is my proof. This country’s leaders:

Reject science.

Don’t care if the poor, the elderly and children are neglected.

Believe wealthy people are inherently superior people.

Support constant war and an obscenely bloated military.

Believe Christianity is superior to all other religions and want to create a theocracy.

Want women to remain second-class citizens and believe the government should control their bodies.

Believe in white supremacy, and want to keep minorities underclass citizens.

Want to build a wall to keep brown-skinned people out of the country.

Treat anyone who disagrees with them as the enemy.

Act as if citizens are fools by brazenly lying day after day.

Insist only positive news about their activities is factual news.

I am trying to get back to the 21st century but I can’t seem to find my time machine. Send help if you can.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trump Is Literally Making Us Sick

During a recent clinic visit, my doctor said she was seeing a lot of people coming in suffering from depression and anxiety directly related to Trump’s election. I believe her. The fact that a racist, misogynist, fascist man won the White House is bad, but what is truly shaking people’s mental health is that we can’t seem to do anything about it. Day in and day out we are bombarded with news reports recounting Trump’s lies, incompetence, treasonous activities, financial corruption, policy blunders, callousness and total indifference to the people who elected him, and yet no justice is in sight.

Congressional Republicans have put ideology and “winning” above everything else, and will never do what is right and impeach Trump. He’s helping them destroy democracy and replace it with either a theocracy or a dictatorship, so he remains a useful idiot. Emotionally, we know that we have to continue fighting the Trump regime, keep the pressure on, but intellectually, we can clearly see that stopping Sauran…sorry, Trump, will be a titanic struggle, and might require the equivalent of throwing a magic ring into the heart of a volcano.

Many Americans feel a sense of helplessness right now. They are watching lunatics dismantle America from behind a glass wall, willing, but unable to stop the madness. I understand this, but we must continue to resist in big and small ways, from calls and emails to representatives to town hall meetings to protest marches, we need to make our voices heard. We also need to put a great amount of effort into the 2018-midterm elections. Getting Democrats elected in 2018 needs to be primary focus if we are to have any hope of stopping or slowing the Trump/GOP train wreck. These are dark times, but we can’t afford not to press forward.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

How Long Will Trump Supporters Buy Into His Lies?

There were a lot of bad reasons to vote for Donald Trump in this past election:

“I hate Hillary.”

“I hate immigrants”

“I hate minorities.”

“Trump is a successful businessman.”

“Trump understands me.”

“Trump tells it like it is.”

“Trump is a leader.”

As dizzyingly divorced from reality as these beliefs are, you can look at Trump, listen to Trump, and understand how these noxious notions were reinforced. But what about the campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again?” That isn’t on the list. Ah, but it is, if you know how to interpret it.

Trump’s campaign slogan has a very different meaning to Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters. If you were a fan of The Donald, you understood the real message behind “Make America Great Again”: Get rid of immigrants, crush minorities, continue treating women as second-class citizens and trash the constitution and government red tape. That, to many voters, is how you make America great again.

It didn’t matter to Trump’s fans that he offered no concrete plans to stimulate the economy, create jobs, improve conditions in rural America, strengthen public education, make higher education more accessible…or do anything to improve the lives of the people who voted for him. Why that didn’t happen shows just how emotionally bound certain segments of the population are to the idea that they are victims of some grand liberal conspiracy. And Trump, the (supposed) billionaire, managed to exploit Ma and Pa Red State’s feelings of victimization and convince them he was going to put them back at the top of the ladder again.

It’s impossible to know how many Trump supporters have come to their senses since the election, but the number will undoubtedly grow as their healthcare options dwindle, the unemployment rate increases, water and air pollution worsen, and the trajectory of economic health in Midwestern and southern states continues to plummet. Obama can’t be the scapegoat forever. 

The one question is, how long can Trump and company sustain the lie that he’s working to better the lives of the people that voted for him? How long will they swallow it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Future of the Republican Party is Dependent on One Thing: Money

Here is the bottom, bottom line on what’s happening in Washington D.C. right now. Set Trump aside for the moment. In many ways, Trump is being used by Congressional Republicans as a diversion from what is going on under the Capital Dome. The important work is being done in Congress, and that work involves helping rich Americans become richer.  Why? Ahh, here is the method to their madness.

The majority of Americans do not share the radically conservative ideology of today’s Republican party, and as time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer adherents going to the voting booths. Take the last election. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Republicans in positions of leadership can read the writing on the wall, and they understand they have only one option if their party is to survive into the future, and that is money. In today’s Wild West political environment, if Republicans have enough money, they can counteract the will of the majority of voters and remain a viable political force in America. Money is the key.

What better way to guarantee the influx of money to Republican politicians than by helping the wealthiest Americans grow their already grotesque bank accounts? Elites tend to be conservatives because they believe the current system helped them get where they are, so why try and change it? These are Donald Trump’s pals, and like Donald, they live in a cloistered world where the price of bread or a gallon of gas is as important to them as the current temperature on Venus.

While there may be cheering and applause in the penthouses of New York city and Moscow today, the elites of the western world will soon be gaping in horror watching Trump bring the house down on himself and those who stood with him. Why? Trump is an idiot. A moron. The delusional billionaire class equate their wealth with innate superior wisdom and knowledge, which will be their ultimate downfall, because they are really well-connected thugs, con-men with pedigrees, names that get you into clubs and international deals. Despite what they tell themselves, their riches have nothing to do with their inner worth. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

I am not a psychic, but I can tell you with some certainty that, like the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty will have a great fall. Trump’s lies will be his downfall, and all of those who celebrated him will soon be forced back into their shadowy crevices and passed over as history marches forward.