Donald Trump

Tale of the Tapes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


Would an “N-Word Tape” tell us anything we didn’t already know?

Where Have All the Nazis Gone?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/08/2018 - 6:30am in

So it appears Antifa has scared Trump’s army of emboldened Nazis back into their hidey holes, or at least that’s the spin the Resistance is putting on the deeply weird events of last Sunday. In case you missed it, what happened was, thousands of “anti-fascist” protestors converged on the streets of the nation’s capitol to deny a platform to (or just beat the snot out of) twenty or thirty racist idiots who were trying to assemble in Lafayette Square and stand around shouting racist slogans at each other. The organizer of this idiotic fiasco (i.e., the racist fiasco, not the protest thereof) was the same attention-seeking, racist idiot that had organized the original “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville in 2017. During that weekend, as I’m sure you’ll recall, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman, numerous other people were assaulted, and a few hundred racists in polo shirts and khakis marched around with tikki torches hollering neo-Nazi gibberish in an attempt to launch some sort of race war, or protest the removal of a statue, or something.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat to the Republic? Not Even Close.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/08/2018 - 5:06am in

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This past week more than 300 American newspapers colluded — if the word fits… — to simultaneously publish editorials declaring themselves, contra Trump, not “the enemy of the people.” Shortly thereafter the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring that it too did not consider the press to be, in a phrase that evokes the rhetoric of the former Soviet Union, state enemies.

The Boston Globe organized this journalistic flash mob.

“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful,” the Globe‘s editorial board wrote. “To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.” President Trump has repeatedly derided the media as “the enemy of the people” and purveyors of “fake news” on Twitter and at campaign rallies.

The First Amendment guarantee of press freedom, the Globe wrote, “has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat.”

Is it really?

The surprise election of Donald Trump has elicited more the-sky-is-falling handwringing than any other political event in my lifetime (I will turn 55 next week). Very Serious People have warned in Big Important Newspapers that the rise of Trump harkens the transformation of the U.S., and other Western democracies, into fascist states. Even before he took office, the ACLU called Trump “a one-man constitutional crisis.”

No doubt, Trump’s rhetoric evokes the president’s authoritarian instincts: deriding his foes as anti-American, calling for and ordering mass deportations, supporting torture, and yes, press-bashing showcase the mindset of a man who doesn’t support democratic values and probably doesn’t even know much about the history or philosophy behind them.

But let’s separate Trump’s crude rally remarks and crass online rants from his Administration’s policies. What is he actually doing? How does his day-to-day governance represent a radical departure from the norms established by presidential precedents?

When you set aside Trump’s talk in order to focus instead on his walk, it is hard to conclude that he is an outlier by American standards. A better analogy, a friend observes, is Kaposi sarcoma, a cancer commonly associated with AIDS. It can kill you. But it’s not the main reason you’re having problems.

In other words, Trump isn’t — despite what 300-plus newspaper editorial boards would have us think — a root cause of American crisis. He is a symptom of preexisting conditions. This is important. Because if we delude ourselves into thinking that getting rid of Trump will fix what ails us, things will only get worse.

Running down the list of what offends people about Trump, there is nothing here we haven’t seen before — and ignored when other presidents did them.

Trump stands accused of colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election. There is still zero evidence that this happened. It’s still just vague insinuations leaked to newspapers with histories of cozying up to the CIA-FBI-NSA by anonymous CIA-FBI-NSA spooks.

There is, on the other hand, ample evidence that Ronald Reagan colluded with Iran to delay the release of the 52 American embassy hostages held in Tehran in order to destroy Jimmy Carter’s reelection chances.

Richard Nixon colluded with a shadowy Taiwanese business executive with ties to South Vietnam in order to scuttle the Johnson Administration’s last-ditch attempt to negotiate peace between South and North Vietnam just before the 1968 election. Nixon squeaked by the Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, by 0.7%. LBJ said Nixon was guilty of “treason,” but nothing happened.

Trump has been criticized for mass deportations of illegal immigrants, including separation of children from their parents, and rightly so.

But there is nothing new about Trump’s actions on immigration. Bill Clinton deported 12 million people, George W. Bush deported 10 million and Obama deported 5 million. (Obama’s numbers were lower but more robust because he ordered ICE to charge illegal immigrants as criminals. They faced prison if they returned. Previous presidents merely sent them home on buses and planes.)

As the National Immigration Law Center points out, “President Trump is exploiting the tools and infrastructure set in place by previous administrations to (1) expand the definition of who should be banned and deported and (2) militarize federal agencies and build up the deportation machine.”

Separating children from their parents at the border began under Obama, albeit in smaller numbers.

Trump has legitimized the “alt-right,” i.e. the psychotic right-wingers we used to call Nazis, Klansmen and fascists. Even after a fascist murdered a woman and injured others at an alt-right riot in Charlottesville, the president wallowed in false equivalence: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” Coddling racists is disgusting. But it’s not new to American politics.

During the 1990s then-First Lady Hillary Clinton called some African-American youth “superpredators.”

Reagan relied on racist dog-whistles during his 1980 campaign, which he launched in the small Mississippi town where the Klan murdered four Freedom Riders during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. “I believe in states’ rights,” Reagan said. States right was political code for supporting racial segregation.

Reagan also referred to Cadillac-driving “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps on the campaign trail.

On substance, legislation and regulation, Donald Trump is virtually indistinguishable from his predecessors, many of whom are responsible for far more serious attacks on democracy.

George W. Bush alone is guilty of far more heinous crimes. He introduced the dangerous explosion of “signing statements” in which the president signs a bill into law and then crosses his fingers behind his back, secretly ordering that the law not be enforced. And he invaded Iraq preemptively, an extreme violation of international law, which states that nations may only go to war in self-defense or when faced with a grave and imminent military threat.

Where Trump differs from previous presidents is in tone. He is obnoxious and obscene. He lies — loudly. At least in public — they all swear in private — Americans like their leaders calm, deliberative and low-key.

It isn’t surprising that Trump’s trash-talking is freaking people out. But we shouldn’t conflate rudeness with an existential threat to democracy. Democracy, decency and civility were never real American values in the first place. That, not Trump, is the real problem.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s independent political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

Worst Amendment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


Why is Trump mad at the press?

Orphaned Logic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


Trump basically admitted that the Trump Tower meeting wasn’t about adoption. But it wasn’t even a good alibi!

Only The Best People

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


Who would have guessed that Trump’s administration would be rat’s nest of grifters and two-bit criminals?

Bash the Fashion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/08/2018 - 5:01pm in


The Newseum in D.C. removed its “Fake News” t-shirts but kept its MAGA hats on the shelves.

Trump is Dealing a Blow to Iran’s Economy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


Trump yanking the U.S. out of the Iranian nuclear deal means new sanctions - and a tough economic outlook for 82 million people.

Actually, it’s Trump’s Monster

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/08/2018 - 5:00pm in

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Donald Trump

Trump Is Giving Protectionism a Bad Name

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/08/2018 - 3:58am in

By William G. Moseley (guest post)

While it might not seem like it now, President Donald Trump is a gift to free market-oriented economists and policymakers. His clumsy approach to protectionism has ignited a trade war that inevitably will harm the U.S. economy. When the pendulum inexorably swings the other way after the Trump fiasco, free trade ideology will return with a vengeance. This is a potential tragedy for left-leaning policy analysts who have long been concerned about the excesses of neoliberalism and argued for a more measured use of tariffs to foster local economic development. As such, it critical that we distinguish between Trump’s right-wing nationalist embrace of tariffs and the more nuanced use of this tool to support infant industries.

As a development geographer and an Africanist scholar, I have long been critical of unfettered free trade because of its deleterious economic impacts on African countries. At the behest of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the majority of African countries were essentially forced, because of conditional loan and debt-refinancing requirements, to undergo free market–oriented economic reforms from the early 1980s through the mid-2000s. One by one, these countries reduced tariff barriers, eliminated subsidies, cut back on government expenditures, and emphasized commodity exports. With the possible exception of Ghana, the economy of nearly every African country undertaking these reforms was devastated.

This is not to say that there was no economic growth for African countries during this period, as there certainly was during cyclical commodity booms. The problem is that the economies of these countries were essentially underdeveloped as they returned to a colonial model focused on producing a limited number of commodities such as oil, minerals, cotton, cacao, palm oil, and timber. Economic reforms destroyed the value-added activities that helped diversify these economies and provided higher wage employment, such as the textile, milling, and food processing industries. Worse yet, millions of African farmers and workers are now increasingly ensnared in a global commodity boom-and-bust cycle. Beyond that cycle, they are experiencing an even more worrying long-term trend of declining prices for commodities.

One of the consequences of the hollowing out of African economies has been the European migration crisis. While some of this migration is clearly connected to politics, war, and insecurity in the Middle East and Africa, a nontrivial portion is related to grim economic prospects in many African countries.

After the global financial crisis of 2007, as well as the global food crisis of 2008, even mainstream economists and policy analysts began to realize that unfettered free markets were a problem for the development of African economies, not to mention other areas of the world. As a consequence, some in the development policy community began to reconsider the strategic use of limited tariffs and subsidies to protect and support infant industries. After being demonized for 30 years, import substitution—the idea that some goods could be produced at home rather than imported from abroad—was beginning to have a renaissance.

For example, the middle-income African nation of Botswana has long mined and exported diamonds. In fact, Botswana was and continues to be the largest exporter of gem-quality diamonds in the world. Nearly all of these were exported as rough diamonds, with the actual cutting and polishing done in countries like India and the Netherlands. Beginning in 2013, Botswana made a concerted attempt to onshore some of these value-added activities by subsidizing a domestic diamond-cutting and -polishing industry. Such industries take time to develop, since you need to cultivate a highly skilled labor pool. But the payoff is more and better-paid employment for a country’s population.

While the Botswana example is still unfolding, it is worth noting that both South Korea and Taiwan also skillfully protected industries in the 1960s and 1970s before breaking onto the world stage as export-oriented manufacturers.

Now the recent Trump fiasco with tariffs is threatening to tar and feather the whole idea of fostering local economic development for decades to come unless the left pushes back with a more nuanced perspective. After the inevitable crash of the American economy, not to mention the collateral damage, the global policy community, and broader publics, will likely reembrace free-market policies because they appear to be the opposite of Trump’s racist, nationalist, and nativist stance.

This potential scenario is eerily reminiscent of what unfolded in South Africa in the early 1990s. With the African National Congress (ANC) and Nelson Mandela coming to power, one would have expected that they would have adopted left-leaning, redistributive economic policies given their socialist history and the economic divisions in the country. Instead, what ensued was the full embrace of free market policies. This remarkable shift has been attributed to a global policymaking community that deftly associated any use of tariffs, subsidies, and protection with the Apartheid regime and South Africa’s National Party. This sleight of hand allowed them to position free-market policies as the foe of Apartheid and the friend of the rainbow nation. Sadly, while these policies initially spawned economic growth, they also deepened inequality, creating a problem that continues to plague the ANC and South Africa today.

We need to be sophisticated enough to disentangle policies that promote local economic development from the horrific antics of the Trump regime. Import substitution and the fostering of infant industries are critical aspects of economic development for many countries in the global South. These policies must not forever be associated with the right-wing nationalism of Donald Trump.

William G. Moseley is a professor of geography and director of the Program for Food, Agriculture and Society at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. He may be found on Twitter @WilliamGMoseley.

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