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Total number of comments: 1042 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • George W. Bush & GOP lack standing to bash Trump for Racism
    • What's really motivating Bush etal is Trump's failure to serve the Republican establishment, even as he ultimately does seem to be serving their unduly agenda.

      There is the matter of Trump's style, embarrassing as it is, but its more a matter of how he fails to supplicate himself.

      This failure to take a knee, notwithstanding his incompetence, is what stands to stop him before his term is up. Its the ultimate sin in any scenario where Power for its own sake motivates everything else.

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • Chancery Gardner, despite being a moron, kept his mouth shut and let other people project. It was a testament to the lack of an individuals importance.

      Here we have the bull in a China shoppe, overworked as that cliché has become.

    • Since Israel would also have to see US withdrawal from the JCPOA as encouraging Iran to become a nuclear state, its a puzzle why they have been working so hard to destroy the deal.

      Of course, Israel's real problem with Iran has more to do with its existence as a big, viable, regional state, whose government is by and large empowered by its people.

      Like Saudi Arabia in its own way, Israel lacks any real legitimacy with its neighbors that isn't coerced, and as such will remain extraordinarily vulnerable. Especially to a country like Iran, which at this point is pretty well inoculated to economic sanctions or conventional military intimidation.

      It doesn't matter what Iran's history of non-aggression or declared intentions are, as Israel is quick to point out. In fact, their policies could change on a dime—which will also forever be a problem for Israel with the rest of the world, as a matter of fact. There's a chronic pathology at work here, largely self-inflicted as it is.

      The only solution for Israel, with all its neighbors, is to see them either emasculated or destroyed as viable states. Hence, they need to maneuver the US into doing to Iran what they did to Iraq. That would be success, and beneath all the other talk this is what they are really angling toward.

      That would leave KSA and Egypt intact. But Egypt has been neutered by its reliance on the US aid, and the KSA's legitimacy is also such that they have to buy their security from the US. They can be tolerated as such.

      What remains is to be seen is if the rest of the world, since the US is already lost, will stand up to Israel.

  • As Trump & Pruitt unleash Climate Demons, Scientists dream of Atlantic Wind Farm
    • Wish I could take credit for this thinking, but Trump's behavior is absolutely consistent and predictable, based simply on respudiating everything Obama thought, said or did:

      link to nationalinterest.org

      Drawing on this hypothesis your question is answered. It is true that Obama was a (relatively) progressive public servant rather than a self-serving corporate tool, so there will naturally be a conflict of perspective on many issues. But in terms of understanding what actually animates Trump, making it easy for his to tend to his constituency, this seems to explain things nicely.

  • Trump and the Faustian Bargain of Corker and the GOP
    • The rationale and momentum of the scenario you describe leads directly to getting rid of Trump, opting for the more reliable execution of his essential vision by Pence.

      What any autocrat really wants is control and predictability, after all.

  • Former US Allies peeling off under Trump: Turkey halts US Visas
    • Seems to me the UK and Israel have committed themselves to the management of the US as the strategic lynchpin of their foreign policies. All countries tend to that relationship, since in terms of economics (aside from any other issues), when the US sneezes the World catches cold.

      Israel has succeeded at this better than the UK, since it has done so well financially through the exercise of its power. The UK, at least historically, has at least been listened to sympathetically, but it comes off more as a supplicant. Never a good posture to assume.

      As for Erdogan shooting himselve in the foot with American tourists and trade, has there ever been that much compared to what Turkey does with Russia? Erdogan has the experience of cutting them off from a couple years ago, so he should know. What's more interesting is how, in his egomania, the guy may begin to stray into the irrational. He's always struck me as pretty shrewd, but evidence of that is more consistent in his past. I wonder at what point Erdogan's current cunning becomes terminal hubris.

      ALSO, most embassies have dozens, if not hundreds of locals working for them, in service and support roles. Is it really true that the the host country, or international law, grants the gardeners and janitors some special status?

  • Was Ayatollah Khamenei right about Washington? Trump Reneges
    • You and another poster make the point of the hollowness of these agreements.

      The real point of them would then be to build PR legitimacy amongst those who don't know better.

      And selling oneself is the first step to creating such an alternative reality.

      The real agenda is to secure obedience.

    • Right. The US military is in many ways now depleted. It'd get eaten alive in an ouright invasion, short of a national mobilization and long build-up.

      On the other hand, a couple thousand cruise missiles would make Raytheon etal very happy and at least satisfy Israel (for the moment).

    • In this Al-Jazeera interview Iranian FM Javad Zarif makes a remarkably clear and succinct presentation of the situation, not just from the Iranian perspective, but from that of the realities.

      link to aljazeera.com

      The mechanics of how the JCPOA is written will make it difficult for the EU to maintain it if the US withdrawals. However, there are mechanisms already in-place that can be activated to offset sanctions against companies that buck them. Perhaps more importantly, Zarif makes the point of their simply being on the right side of the issue, which ultimately should go far to carry the day for Iran, and the World in many ways.

      There is another article on this blog, about the influence of what some (at their own peril) dare to call the Israel Lobby: link to juancole.com

      The current Girardi controversy goes along with the Chas Freedman denunciation when he dared to speak Truth to (the real) Power driving things here a few years ago. Nobody in power in the US really gives a fig about the Palestinians, and its nothing to leave them twisting in the wind, but screwing up the JCPOA in this way is another thing altogether.

      What people of the US need to deal with is just HOW another country has somehow managed to hijack the foreign policy of the US, manifestly against its own best interests.

  • Top 5 signs Donald Trump might be an effing moron
    • Everyone seems to be echoing the same thought in their own way. But, here's something else to chew on:

      Is it possible that The Donald reasonably reflects the engaged American polity, for better or worse? And, what drives his bluster is a reasonable reading of one part of the national mood?

      Sure, it's not a black and white thing, and he lost in numeric terms, but if America looks in the mirror, it does look somewhat like Trump. So that's the first thing to come to terms with.

      After recognizing that POTUS really only is the salesman in Chief, rather than the Daddy so many people are so desperately seeking, you get to a second point: how much of a difference can THIS guy really make?

      He has proven to be incompetent, but his judicial appointments stand to recast the courts profoundly. So, there is that. But, I read where there are (theoretically) strong checks on his ability to use nukes offensively. And the generals, and the bureaucracy in general, stand to hold things together, other than a strong rightward drift.

      So, I'm not sure he's doing any worse than any other common Moe who just fell into a job for which he was unprepared, that will largely self-execute.

      Sure, the guy is dangerous, and heaven help the world if any real challenges emerge (which consistently do in every administration). But let's get beyond this business of expecting the president to be some sorta Big-Daddy.

  • Saudi King seeks Recognition for letting Women Drive, a basic right
    • One cannot help but think this is all disingenuous.

      Seems to me their ONLY motivation is one of optics in the US. The KSA has undoubtedly been told by the good folk at Hill & Knolton (or whomever), that the repression of women compromises their control over US policy, which is the linchpin for the regimes survival.

      On the other hand, you have the deal the Saudi's essentially made with the religious conservatives for power in the first place.

      Seems a rather transparent ploy to reap a PR gain, which they anticipate reneging on later, one way or the other.

  • Failing dam in Puerto Rico, endangering 70,000, a reminder that Climate Denialism Kills
    • I wonder how much of this is the natural order, historically speaking.

      Outright slavery has been the natural order until very recently. And indentured slavery, or the status you describe, is a hairsbreadth away. In fact, those tricks were standard in Latin America until quite recently.

      Non-competeagreement for fast food workers? It's happening. I could go on, chapter and verse.

      What you're describing is underway right now, only it's being done incrementally and with appropriate nods to the "free market".

    • The GOP agenda & platform: We've got ours, so screw you.

  • Iranian Leader: Trump is "Disturbed," speaks like a Cowboy or Mobster
    • In this and other of your posts I see you hitting all around a rather profound vision, and the only explanation that accounts for the trends in any sort of determistic sense: that this is all part of a plan.

      That plan, or vision, being driven by an terminal us versus them mindset. And at this point, many of those who strive so hard to gain power, will read this and laugh, saying, "that's the way it is."

      So, those who have dug the hole Israel now finds itself in have infected their mindset upon on the US, who with their neocolonial imperatives of consumption couldn't be more primmed for their wisdom.

      In other words, what you're observing is a slow-motion sucking of the worlds physical and intellectual assets into the US, with Europe slated as the last to go. Increasingly robust walls will be constructed to keep out the barbarians, even as the reigning oligarchy increasingly feeds on those within the walls from it's gated communities.

      At some later stage we can now see looming into view, there will only be the 51 (!) States hunkering down behind their walls, sending out roving mercenaries (the invisible hand in action), to maintain the external chaos, and co-opt those with talent for service within the walls.

  • Trump blasts Iran for backing Syria, ignores Russia, Praises Saudis
    • I suspect Trump is barely aware of the embassy standoff or Iran's involvement with blowing up the US marines barracks in Beirut back in the day.

      Mattis, the neocons, and the neocolonial establishment certainly didn't forget, along with Iran's most egregious crime of all: failure to submit. And if Iran is allowed not to pay a price FULLY commensurate with that last offense, it emboldens others, and the whole edifice of US economic existence is imperiled.

      Trump's ignorance is irrelevant: he exists to be managed.

      Notice that wapo account, of how he was brought about by The Generals to double down on Afghanistan? It involved showing Trump pictures of Afghan women in miniskirts during happier times.

      With that in mind, absolutely anything can happen, and probably will.

    • Having now read the speech and thought about it, I think it's far more important than most here realize. This speech represents Trump having totally boxed himself into a guarantying the worst sort of failure, with Iran, NK, and for US interests in the World.

      Unless he soon repudiates strongly everything he just said, here is how it games out:

      He will abrogate the agreement. The rest of the World (apart from Israel, KSA and Samoa) will continue with the agreement, despite desperate efforts to coerce new sanctions the US and Trump no longer have the political capital to insist on. Merkel etal have anticipated this change in any number of statements.

      The US and then must attack Iran, given how he has no other choice at this point but to look like a toothless sap.

      The US military doesn't have the means to invade Iran successfully, so there would have to be a lot of stand-off missle strikes, along with whatever Israel and KSA might do. The US will become the World's great pariah, as Iran just absorbs it all, now fully and thoroughly supported by the rest of the World.

      NK and SK ,noting how any agreement they might reach with the US would be worthless, cut a deal directly between themselves. It would see all US forces kicked out of SK, which is quite strong enough to defend themselves.

      Maybe this is Trump's intention, crafty as he is: the US becomes ostrasized and irrelevant, while Iran and NK become more stable with their new relationships.

      NKwill keep a few nukes for protection, and the rest of the world would finally get past the US, leaving it and Israel isolated and irrelevant.

  • Russia rebuffs Israeli demand for 40 mi. Buffer with Iran in Syria (Haaretz)
    • This post may answer the question you asked (implied?) A few weeks ago, about Netanyahu's agenda for complaining about Syria. Many of us then speculated a new round of settlements he wanted to distract the world from noticing.

      It seems Israel will be able to get away with that particular bad behavior, but out-migration could become a real existential threat.

  • Saudi Arabia wants to improve Image; Here's How
    • People, and governments even more, invest hugely in their personal stories and legitimacy-enhancing mythes. That investment is even more critical when the substance of their histories are so painfully thin on any real, sustaining legitimacy. Saudi Arabia and Israel are great cases in point.

      On the one hand, Saudi Arabia has read the writing on the wall and would be the first to agree to the need to adapt economically, and they now have any number of initiatives underway to do so. But expecting them to give up some of their more deep-seated biases and counterproductive premises, that go to the heart of their self-image, is expecting a lot.

      Along this same line of thinking, Naomi Klein just did an excellent piece at the intercept. It insightfully chalks up the underlying denialism of Climate Change (and a number of other intransigent problems) by the Usual Suspects, to their brain-free investment in free-market ideology.

      link to theintercept.com

      It's a great piece, along with much of her more recent writing, because she transcends her earlier polemics and here puts her finger on one of of the true drivers behind the backwardness that so frustrates the rational world in the face of a very real problem that can only be addressed by objective science.

      In the case of CC denialists and the KSA, there is another factor, however, that may be more critical. That would be sheer, rank, short-sighted, animalistic greed. In my salad days I spent untold hours with smart, aggressive characters on the make, whose ideology was the dollar and whose MO was legal manipulation to set-up no-risk killings.

      It's important to recognize what few distinctions there really are between impulsive thievery and the more patient and well-educated variety. Relying on good PR may seem shallow, and it is, but it can also be damned powerful if well handled. Michael Corleone made the transition he promised and is now personified by the likes of Jamie Diamond, obviously pulling the strings of people like Hillary Clinton, as well as those of folks like Paul Ryan, with their childish adoration of Ayn Rand's half-baked "philosophy".

      It's this whole, glib, easy-to-swallow line about the Invisible Hand and a "free" market that never was and never will be, that has had such a pernicious impact on the world, particularly in the last 30-odd years.

      True Believers like Paul Ryan really are just children, carrying water for the agenda of the above opportunists. My point is that those with real power know better, as demonstrated by their manipulation of putative "free market" forces.

      Nothing short of a revolution will result in any real change, and the transparency of Trump's corruptness may inadvertently be setting the stage for it. Aside from more active measures, one can only hope; and do their best to see things for what they really are.

  • What will Iran do if Trump tears up the Nuclear Agreement?
    • And why is it that every time I think of Israel and the US I think of George and Lennie, in Of Mice and Men?

      It Isn't as though Israel cares about the US, other than as a place to fleece and otherwise do business.

    • It seems the obvious Iranian move would be to align more strongly with the rest of the world, sans Israel and the US. Who needs them, really?

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is really all about Israel and it's power to influence US policy against it's own self-interest. That is, all the lost trade opportunities, nevermind lessening the possibility of armed conflict.

      What I don't get is how the US has been able to coerce the EU to participate in sanctions. While one can understand why they were able to do so in the past, at this point the landscape has totally changed.

  • Gov. Rick Scott enabled Irma's Fury through Climate Denialism & Should Resign
    • Shame seems to be unknown to such characters. I suppose it was always so.

      That doesn't mean they cannot be called out loudly in public.

      All they would be motivated to do is initiate legislation against the malcontents, but action would add to the momentum of the resistance and be a net positive.

      These issues need to brought into the open and the Truth shown for what it is.

      People will at some point come to understand the depths of their duplicity and change become possible.

  • Bannon & Trump lost Long ago: White Christians not a Majority in US
    • That's really it. Obama couldn't have been purer in terms of being uncompromised upon election, but look at how long that lasted.

      Trump offered the same promise, really. HRC, on the other hand, was and remains the pridefully entitled Queen of Business As Usual (with yet another self-serving book being released), whose self-righteousness, along with that of the DNC, has not been diminished one whit.

      There was NEVER any dispute about how inappropriate Trump was: his election was a matter of desperation.

      Assuming something like a fascist consolidatation of power under Pence isn't pulled off, the US will be primmed for yet another Grifter 3 years from now.

      This desperation to buy anything from anybody who will squarely speak to peoples frustrations is going to be repeated.

      The situation here is too obvious, the structural problems too intractable, and the opportunists too numerous for the story not to repeat: Until either the fascists succeed in consolidation of power or we hit bottom and there is a systemic change from the bottom-up.

    • Old thinking settles in and ossifies, and it never goes without a fight. Progress has always been a two-steps forward one-step back proposition, but don't consider a ratio so benign in the face of an actively backward vision.

      Recent court decisions in the US have been repudiating GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression schemes transparently designed (in the words of the courts) to make some pigs more equal than others. Similar ploys have recently been extending into other areas, including laws against anyone that criticizes certain governmental programs (Texas). With Trump, these initiatives have been ramping-up.

      The courts have been stopping many of these moves, as well as Trump's immigrant bans, but don't expect the front to hold. The one area of appointments in which Trump has been getting things done when it comes to making judicial appointments.

      My question is, when has there ever been a time of widespread emancipation (or whatever you call it when there is NO slavery), when minority didn't call the shots, or wasn't working hard to make it so? I'd say some version of that old, traditional order of subjugation—or a kinder and gentler neoliberal variation—is what these guys are really pining for.

      This mindset has gone away; its just been underground, and barely at that.

  • As Trump probes move against Iran, IAEA certifies its Compliance with Nuclear Deal
    • Unlike Iran, NK is basically holding SK hostage, with all that artillery zeroed in on Seoul with 25 million citizens and many of the 100,000 Americans in SK. This is as opposed to whatever few significant offensive options Iran may have (and wisely choose not to use).

      The US, as usual, acts with the predictable thoughtlessness empowered by unmanned weapons, leading to a misunderstanding how weak it makes them to rely so heavily on these tools. With its Navy safely out of the Persian Gulf (forever?), the US could easily send 10-20+ billion of cruise missiles—whatever their masters in Israel/KSA finally decide on and shortly manipulate the US into launching.

      As long as there are no downed US pilots paraded on TV, its all good. This is all showbiz as far as our Fearless Leader is concerned, like his "attack" on the Syrian airfield.

      More knowledgeable people than me can gauge when Israeli posturing for internal political reasons, or shaking down the US for more $, becomes a need to start a actual fight. And of course, the KSA has a different set of needs. But the inability of the US to resist their imperatives, and put them behind its own needs, is clear.

  • Is Israel's Netanyahu preparing for War on Iranian Special Ops in Syria?
    • I wouldn't argue with much of this, except for the fact this line continues to work objectively, in terms of US dollars and a free pass for Israeli malfeasance.

      Everybody knows the game here, but it is bought and paid for. Still, not to say how long any one salesman will last once past his good PR expiration date is past.

    • Of course, your final paragraph sums it up. In fact, Netanyahu has a rather limited range of BS.

      From all this sudden talk I'd presume either a looming election, or plans to tighten the screws on the Palestinians. With no elections, I'd expect some sort of impending action. More land grabs would be the most obvious thing.

  • Trump Exploits Harvey Victims in Stealth Pardon of Arpaio
    • There's enough in the way of greed, evil, and stupidity to go around.

      To the extent Trump inadverdently inspires countries like Germany out of their complacency, for lack of a better word, maybe some lemonade will come from this lemon.

    • Just when you thought the Trump had reached the depth of his creativity in inappropriate behaviour, there you go giving the guy ideas....

      I can see him now, Leaning on Kelly as he did Comey. "Hey, he's a good guy..."

  • Germany's Merkel: A Selfish & Isolationist America isn't "Great Again"
    • You know, this observation goes to the heart of what passes for public diplomacy.

      All theses enormously expensive gestures would at first appear to be nothing more than self righteousness based on nothing, really.

      They do, however, amount to something when you consider the metaphysics of creating our own realities, which I've come to understand really is crucial to better managing our fate. This is especially true when faced with the reality that others will be able to create their own vision a whole lot easier if we just sit back and effetely intellectualize about things, putting forth no alternative vision.

      If they succed in nothing more than convincing themselves the US does not stand alone (for practical purposes), this BS is gold when it comes to motivating themselves and the many, many minds out there who hunger for easy answers and the low, authoritative tone of someone tall and loud.

      The trick for those in the opposition is to hew closer to the truth, and certainly to know better when selling their own easy answers to The Masses, who in no case will want to drink a whole glass of Reality straight, with no leavening chaser.

  • Trump, the Magical WASP, Deepens Racial Divide again in Phoenix
    • Maybe I've been watching too much House Of Cards, and attribute too much competence to the GOP. But, one needs to recognize the demonstrably low, animal-like cunning of Mitch McConnell.

      What you envision may just be a matter of timing. Remember how Underwood's initial plan was to let Russo blow-up 'spontaneously', due to his fundamental charachter, later in his campaign for governor. Russo proved unmanagable, hence he was flushed earlier than originally planned.

      Ergo, as you noted, it makes too much sense not to flush Trump, especially for the GOP. And how many friends has Trump still got in Congress of any stripe?

      The answer to your question may be that it's simply a matter of timing, with the mechanics now being attended to apace.

    • There's this dimension to Trump which really is magical: that he can go back on everything he's promised, in the process totally screwing over his truly downtrodden constituency, and still keep their support.

      Methinks they're too psychologically invested, desperate, or maybe just too dense to get it.

      A little different than Stockholm Syndrome, which could be seen as the often wise inclination to go with the flow and adapt when facing great danger.

      No, Trump is tapping into something far more troubling about human nature.

  • Trump Pledged to Carpet Bomb ISIL, but Little Lebanon is Taking them On
    • Plenty of more knowledgable people than me have written about the idea that in the battle of ideas for souls, technology will never substitute for boots on the ground. Motivated individuals will be needed to be genuinely effective against other motivated individuals.

      Bullets ultimately fall to ideas if the bullets aren't backed up by something more compelling in terms of vision. The attraction of drones and raining bombs from 40,000 ft is such an easy mistake because its so easy to buy, and unless used with great care and balance these sorts of things are liable to do more harm than good.

      This becomes another one of the ideas that brushes up against the limitations of uninformed/misinformed, simple-minded, black & white thinking. Nothing is simple and these tools do have a place, but the US has such a mercantile mindset that technology has been successfully sold by the Usual Suspects as a panacea. Still, it isn't as though US efforts would be more legitimate and effective if they only went mano a mano after "the bad guys" (the overused phrase of choice amongst the above mentioned simpletons).

  • Trump fires Bannon: Who are the Winners & Losers Globally?
    • There are layers within layers when prognosticating along these lines. Within some of the HRC links there was a candid presentation she made to The Bankers really running things, where in realpolitikal terms she explained why the existed armed status quo in Korea was to everyone's benefit. An enlightened criticism of her remarks, I recall, would have been that she was being short-sighted, but it was a disturbingly sound argument nonetheless.

      No, I'm afraid your ideas may serve to draw out better ones, but we have to avoid overly simplistic end of the bar thinking, such as what has been coming out of the White House recently and is regularly falling flat on its face.

  • Top 5 Ways White Terrorism means never having to Say you're Sorry
    • I just heard McMaster do the same thing.

    • With ALL the posting you've done beating around this particular bush—over the course of years—you are failing to call out that while individual manifestations of this propaganda (because that is precisely what it is) may be spontaneous, its overall occurrence is hardly accidental.

      In fact, I think you know exactly how this has all come about, and I admire and respect your forbearance in broaching this phenomena in the careful, deliberate and measured way you have. Still, I'd suggest you rethink whether the forbearance you have shown to this point needs to be re-calibrated. Certainly, you have to make an actual difference rather than merely vent in a way that only marginalizes or discredits you, but the impact of this influence is entirely too powerful and the stakes too high not to call a spade a spade and continue on in this tepid a manner.

  • If an Iranian president talked like Trump we'd think them all nut cases
    • Don't know what provoked this invective against a guy whose really just another neocon. Give Frum the discount he's due and move on.

      My comment is that its not only worthwhile but important to read those who at least pass for "conservative thinkers" on the right (as they certainly abuse the idea of people who do their homework and plan for doing the smart thing over the long haul). Brooks, Wills, Frum, etal: the better ones are at least good writers and (other) people follow do their lead.

      This is as opposed to the congress, who are simply bought off. For all their lack of values and judgement, as a group these pundits are as appalled by T as anyone else. The hope is that the right will join the left in limiting the damage Trump seems determined to inflict on the US and the World. And that may be what we should all hope and aim for.

      A even more dangerous future might just be Pence, unencumbered by Trump's fundamental incompetence and empowered by a genuinely terrifying sense of his personal God-Given destiny.

  • Kissinger pushes Iranophobia, fear of 'radical empire' as ISIL declines
    • That "belt" you're referring to is the infamous "Shia Crescent". It's been sold to us for years now, and is what this article is attempting to debunk with facts. Somehow, however, the realities be damned.

      I'm reminded more and more of the old "creating your own reality" mindset. While reality can and will bite you on the ass if you ignore it, there is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy and the power of positive (or negative) thinking to impact an inherently malleable world. A particular vision becomes real when the circumstances as perceived by people in the region and around the world are successfully conned. Ultimately it all becomes a matter of salesmanship, and this is clearly what the Usual Suspects are up to here.

      This information about the local religious make-up is doubtlessly sound. And how religions are absorbed by their adherents over time, and how they are interpreted and evolve in response to circumstances, is beyond anyones direct control, as is evident in their histories. Still, evil politicians and misc power-grubbers have always done their best to harness religion's power to make their own realities. Playing with fire, as it were.

      Who is to say their attitude is any worse than throwing up your hands and saying our futures are a matter of fate? It becomes a rather basic philosophical question of ones mindset re free will and destiny, eh?

  • "Fire & Fury" or "Shock and Awe": it is always the start of a Quagmire
    • We shouldn't discount the body language when its this unmistakable. Yes, a cigar is often just a cigar, and the room may have just been drafty, but what I sense is seriously sweaty palms.

      The US military has been studying the NK problem for a long time, and I'm confident they have a non-nuke option ready to neuter them. Remember that demo of the MOAB a little while back in Afghanistan? Dozens of those things could have the impact required.

      Not saying the poor saps in SK and Seoul in particular wouldn't get their hair mussed, but...

      NK has either got this whole business (correctly) gamed out, and will pull off the Mother of all diplomatic shake-downs, which is very possibly their intention, or Trump will feel compelled to pull the trigger one Friday afternoon when everyone's taking a nap.

  • America's Passionate Intensity: What Rough Beast Slouches toward Mar-a-Lago?
    • What I took from this piece was mainly the diagnostic, which seems to be spot-on. As for his prescription, those seemed to be a few thoughts to get the ball rolling.

      Indeed, at the state level the Republicans are close to the threshold for a constitutional convention that could radically change the US, as opposed to a progressive agenda.

  • Trump's Worst Nightmare: Mueller's Grand Jury Subpoenas Russia Documents
    • Good point. And not to put too fine a point on it, but Pence is the soulmate of those guys.

      He, and they, are certainly less vulgar than Trump, but they also fancy themselves having a leading role in the rapture.

      Talk about a real nightmare scenario.

    • I've no clue re forensic accounting, but would a paper trail of that even exist? And any sweetheart deals would be chalked up to his deal making skills, tapes to the contrary with Australian PM and Enrique Pena Nieta not withstanding.

      With hundreds if not thousands of offshore partnerships and shells, which cannot (?) be pierced, all I sense forthcoming is the enduring stink of corruption.

    • Ah, The Generals....

      Whatever their predictably conservative style of politics, as well as those in the IC, does anybody for a New York Minute think any of these folks are anything approaching sanguine
      about Trump?

      Get out the echo chamber amd read the National Review.

      These are serious people, who are conservative in a do-no-harm sense, as opposed to the congress and yahoos in general. Its inconceivable they are at all in-syn with whatever pathogies are extanct with Trump.

      Given the mix, its also inconceivable this show can go on for another 3 and a half looooong years. A palace coup? Who knows? What's the betting line on Trump finishing his term anyway?

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  • The Dragon Arrives: 1st Chinese overseas Military Base in Djibouti
    • Perhaps you want to make a correction?

      I don't know, but it looks like one of those big ships has maybe 150....?

  • Top 6 Falsehoods Embraced by new WH Chief of Staff John Kelly
    • Ah, but he's tall, and just look at those cheekbones.

      Unlike Trump and many others of his crew, I sense an ability to get things done.

      Administrative competence, in this case, is what I find scarey.

  • Top 5 Trump Secrets of Sadism, from Trans People to Priebus to Police
    • And don't forget the timing and other circumstances surrounding Comey's sacking, when he was giving a speech on the West coast.

  • Is Trump's Cabinet Collapsing?
    • Perhaps you guys lack imagination. Things could and likely will get far worse, at least as determined by body bags and mass graves. Nevermind the economy or the influence of the US on world affairs.

      Think of what's happened so far in terms of what some call "shaping" the environment for calamities to follow.

      It'd struck me that it'd take 3-4 months, for Sessions to get his goons in place, before any arrests would happen . Now, we've received a respite due to administrative incompetence. But, this isn't going to last. At some point Trump's frustrations will boil over, and all the little things now being done on the margins will be felt.

      There's simply too much time involved for a softer landing; quite the contrary.

      As I've said before, we all need to pave ourselves for a long, ugly slog.

    • There's a lot less rationality than people like to think about how events unfold, aided and abetted by the opportunistic.

      On the morning of 911 several of us were setting off on a long bike ride. We'd departed thinking those towers went down with ALL hands. (30,000 v 3,000 souls). For 3 hours we thought about this, focused by our spinning wheels.

      Our sober judgement was the mother of all swat raids on Afghanistan, followed by a refocused CIA with enhanced funding. Nada mas.

      But that omitted all the other influences. When you try to factor in human weaknesses and foibles, all magnified and empowered by technology, it becomes far to much for any sort of declarative judgement.

  • Unpopular: Trump's low Polls one reason for Healthcare Defeat
    • So, why can it not be tweaked? Let the bad press subside for a few weeks, put some lipstick on the big, pay off the foot-draggers, and it'd be done.

      This is about a core tenet of the GOP agenda, and Trump has always been a sideshow: a tool that is useful or not.

  • Influence: Russia just Imitated the Rupert Murdoch/Fox Model
    • Once again, with all due respect to those who fall for it, there's this line about a perfect storm against Hillary. Bunk.

      Fact is that any of those factors could/ should've been better managed and she'd have won. Trump did everything right and she did everything wrong, as you enumerated. In fact, something like 60000 votes, in the right places, swung it.

      But, the demos need more than better "messaging", or otherwise flogging more and better lies, and eyewash.

  • Now they hate Universities: Trumpie anti-Intellectualism infects GOP
    • True. For a great many people, at best, college represents an opportunity to "learn a trade."

  • Record: Germany at 35% Renewables in Electricity Production
  • Top 5 things Trump is doing to us Worse than insulting Mika
    • Hedley Lamar struck me immediately as Trump's Bannon. The observation of how every buffoon will have an opportunistic cynic to take advantage of them, is only one of the things that made that movie a timeless work of art.

      Was traveling in South America and found an old copy of Trevanyne, an early Robert Ludlum potboiler (of Jason Bourne fame) from the 1980's. The scenario of governmental corruption Ludlam painted for those times works for current events every bit as well now: its part of the human condition.

      Art, from sensitive and talented hands, high-lites reality, especially in comedy and satire. We recognize truth and it's often laughingly obvious once exposed for what it is. I'm waiting for some great art, as opposed to Robert Redford's sanctimonious lecturing or even reasonable well produced drama's like the movie Fair Game. It's a tall order, but this is where the artists make their contribution.

  • Syria: Russians alarmed, Washington Befuddled, by White House threats
    • Backing up a bit, this sort of endemic confusion goes along way to invite, if not guarantee big, spontaneous mistakes of judgement. And in this neighborhood, with combustable military forces from multiple sides pressed tightly up against each other, its seems inevitable that something very bad will happen.

      Here is a post by Paul Pillar which enumerates the things that are now encouraging war with Iran. link to nationalinterest.org

      Most of the factors he notes existed before Trump, but have been mushrooming in their potential impact since he came into office. There's little new in his analysis, but seeing all this stuff summarizes makes an important point. I would add Trump's befuddlement, and the resulting lack of any offsetting strategic focus, to Pillar's compellingly long and depressing list.

    • Unless I'm mistaken, S-300's, especially deployed in #'s, would defend against cruise missiles nicely. As opposed to manned aircraft, it's become way too easy to choose the cruise option.

      The very existence of those systems serves to make (rational) planners wake up and smell the coffee, or to exercise their impulses elsewhere. Robust burglar alarm systems can always be overcome, but more often they just serve to make thieves seek softer targets.

      Success as a bully means picking targets who cannot effectively defend themselves. Merely being able to defend yourself goes a long way to keeping aggressors away, while weakness invites the idea.

    • That would be a classic sweet lemon rationalization on their part. Not inconsistent with this gang of positive/magical thinkers. The question now is whether the lesson sunk in well enough to repeat.

  • Trump accuses Syria of Planning Gas attack as Haley attacks Russia, Iran
    • Yes, the initial US response to the earlier episode also stunk.

      What I've noticed is how hamstrung US politicians are by the emotional PR optics of such weapons.

      It would be easy, and irresistible, not to try a false-flag with a target so big, powerful, and demonstrably gullible.

      Obama may have even suspected something amiss. His red line "promise", was merely that such an attack would "change the calculus", not that it'd trigger any particular action. He hardly hesitated to grab for that Russian lifeline. Later, note how he described that act of resisting political pressure as one of his proudest moments.

      Trump's knee, in this case was clearly flailing. We need to expect more fishy "provocations" along these lines.

    • Questioning this is not like drinking JFK conspiracy kool-aid. The many details support Hersch's version.

      There are two scenarios to weigh: what happened in Syria and what then happened in Washington.

      Whatever else Asad may have done helps establish his own pattern of behavior, but it doesn't seem ton fit the circumstances of this case.

    • Israeli influence, to at least shape US Syria policy so as not to inconvenience.

      Not the same as really needing to be there....

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera
    • Having reflected more on the Saudi list and their geopolitical positioning, I think this may be what they really want. It'd also be consistent with the otherwise excessive investment they've made in Yemen. Salman is young enough and rash enough to perhaps think of the local politics as being as manageable as a simple chessboard.

    • Why does this remind me of Israel? Hmmmm. Could be that in the Good 'Ol Day's if a big, strong country coveted another that couldn't really defend itself, it would just straightforwardly conquer them.

      Now they've world opinion and PR considerations. Drat.

      Take a look at the full list of conditions: really nothing more than Qatar forfeiting its sovereignty. Kinda like the sort of sovereignty Israel would allow a Palestinian state.

      Anyone notice what Israel is up to at the moment? Making moves, predictably enough, while people's attentions are diverted by other things.

    • This recent intensity of animus toward Qatar doesn't seem to add up. Similarly, the Saudis southern flank in Yemen would be more than a passing concern to them. But there must be more at play strategically to account for the scope of these two moves.

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out?
    • Eloquent as always, the author tracks why the WHAMs bought into the con, but then just notes how there'll be hell to pay once they find out they've not only been conned but royally screwed. Fine. But there's more to what this all means, and his piece failed to deliver the insight it was building up to, or any possible vision for the future to aim at. A kiss and a promise.

      One observation here was how historians can endorse and support identities and the ensuing realities, and how the author nuzzles right up to the edge of the power of alternative histories to drive (if not outright create) different realities. The power of a skillful narrative to empower cannot be overstated, and histories can be written to connect the dots any way one wishes, to support whatever self-serving agenda may be at stake. After all, what is any successful history, even if it sticks to defendable facts, but a well-told tale? Any number of such narratives, supporting any number of visions and agendas, could be spun by those sufficiently skilled. And that's before focused, ruthless people, start just making stuff up.

      Modern history, if not a oxymoron, might be seen as being written by journalists, especially those doing investigative work. So, we get to the argument Glenn Greenwald and others have engaged, that having a perspective and a bias is only being honest. Where does that sort of thinking take us and what does it portend?

      I'll opine, and WELCOME better thinking, that there is an incredible leadership vacuum at the moment, and we may have been lucky with Trump in that he is proving to be, at bottom, an incompetent conman. Or so we hope, and that he doesn't start delegating to people who have what it takes to start following through on some particularly twisted vision. That's the absolute nightmare scenario we have to hold our breath over, for at least another four years.

      So, flash forward, and after four years of muddling through by Trump and zero genuine reform by the DNC of its current corruption. At that point those WHAM's will indeed be really pissed: tar, feathers, and pitchforks, facing another choice between transparent fecklessness and authoritarian panaceas.

      What happens then? What sort of narrative can be written and extended into the future as a constructive vision, anywhere on the political spectrum, of an inclusive nation going forward?

  • Russo-US dog fights over Syria?
    • PS::: In regard to making Democracy actually work, true representation has been foiled in large part due to gerrymandering. If we look past all the crying symptoms we hear everyday to their root underlying causes, this is perhaps the biggest: The GOP has gamed redistricting so as to essentially "choose" their voters, negating the impact of democratic mobilization. (This would be the most important item in a larger "electoral reform" basket of issues).

      Here is an article that gets into the politics of a looming SCOTUS decision that could make all the difference: link to theatlantic.com

      If Justice Kennedy retires too soon, Trump would get to put in one of his stooges and all hope might really be lost. With control over the states consolidated, they might even go for a constitutional conventional, which they would control. Just try to imagine what would come out of that.

      As things now stand, Kennedy alone may be in a position to allow sufficient equity back into our elections for at least nominal democratic representation in the midterms to be possible.

    • Since the 2016 election there have been, I believe, 4 congressional elections. In all of these the Democratic candidate lost, the latest just now in Georgia. Whatever hope exists would come from administrative obstruction until the midterms, when a more substantial congressional shift is possible, but democratic mobilization so far has not been encouraging. It is a race against time in any case, with the odds against survival without enormous damage.

    • This all gets to my thought that it isn't just Trump's bad decisions, mitigated as they are by incompetent execution, but how he seems to willfully inflame volatile situations. Its a pattern, and it seems almost like a strategy to keep us from noticing, while he and the GOP loot the country, directly and through systemic changes.

      Here, combustible materials are being crowded together and he is making sure there is nobody around who can deescalate things. A crisis, effectively created for what purpose?

    • Trump's direct actions have often proven to be incompetent. So, it has become the way he is indirectly shaping the environment for spontaneous disaster that needs to be recognized.

      This is a massive case in point. Trump is "delegating" military decisions in Syria, which could leave local commanders with the authority to escalate a confrontation with the Russians, to heaven knows where.

      Maybe Trump will choose to get this all sorted with Putin in Hamburg, but in terms of a relatively safe and reliable accommodation I'd look instead to his track record.

      How this all ends, nobody can even guess. But to get through his 4 years without a disaster is beyond imagination. Its like letting an entitled 7 year fly a 747.

  • London Mosque attack: Did Trump's Tweets embolden Bigots?
    • Seems to me there is a ocean seperating Trump's mentality from the UK. Their politicians are all solid behind calling this incident out as terrorism, presumably reflecting the people's feelings in general, which were also such as to get Trump to cancel a planned visit.

      This might also say something else: either about how our two systems of political representation differ, or about how the perspective of the two peoples differ. Scarey.)

  • Putin's End Game in Syria
    • It shouldn't be too much for the US to carry the two notions in it's head at the same time that Putin may be a dangerous snake, and that he may also have a reasonable perspective and approach with which to approach the Syrian situation.

    • Yeah, somehow that business never added up. The Iranian proxy story was always a rather threadbare excuse.

      With Qatar there's some reasoning that the pressure is a first step to minimize funding of these groups (conveniently and especially including the Brotherhood, which the Saudi's hate for their own reasons). This could all be some sort of deal with the US along those lines, with the promise to clean up their own act to follow. I stand to be better informed.

  • In March for 1st Time, 10% of US Electricity came from Wind and Solar
  • Top 6 signs Trump Really doesn't like being Investigated
    • So...how would Comey's testimony compromise Mueller? And why can't he use whatever Comey may have turned up? Are you referring to the limitations of his remit, or is there something else? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • It'd work out better in the committee scenario, since he could go where the evidence leads. Trouble is, and someone else can clarify the details, but it seems that investigative subpoenas have to be approved by chairmen, who are mostly Republicans.

      And, given this congress, how bad would Trump's malfeasances have to be to get him impeached AND thrown out?

      The goal should be to keep him on his back foot, if that's possible, and inspire a turnout for the midterms that makes a difference.

      It'll be a tough couple years, even as he waits for some crisis with which to extend his power and agenda, beyond what we can now contemplate or plan for.

    • Consider, perhaps, that for businessmen, particularly of his ilk, one always wants to keep the world of potential opponents off-balance and ignorant. Even if there's nothing to a complaint.

      Consider that the real agenda of Trump and the GOP is economic looting, and systemic restructuring to support that goal.

      In which case, he's distracting us all with one hand, while the other does its dirty business.

  • Obama's last Victory: Syrian Democratic Forces hold Parts of ISIL Capital
    • And, after this becomes an accomlished fact, watch Trump try to take credit for it.

      There are patterns that have emerged that we need to recognize. Not to get off-topic, but a well organized campaign to launch Naomi Kline's new book has just been launched. And its good its being handled so competently. Her piece on The Intercept is particularly direct and pointed about what we need to expect and be prepared for on the home front.

      This business in Syria is interesting and important, but the battle that promises to unfold here, more so.

  • Sorry, Trump, Electric Car sales doubled last Year, dooming dirty Fossil fuels
    • Chalk it up to cynicism (experience) about Trump, but do you think he and his masters really believe their own weak bull shit about letting the sacred Invisible Hand work its magic?

  • Tillerson-Trump Rumble over Qatar shows White House Divisions
    • Good thing I'm not Commander-In-Chief.

    • There was also a story, developed I believe on CNN, that Trump was just improvising with his tweets, and was unaware of the US air base and fleet based in Qatar. This would explain things and is quite consistent with Trump's prior behaviour.

  • UK hung Parliament: Is Trumpism pushing Europe Left?
    • We'll have to see, therefore, if the Trumpeters now attack him as a supporter of terrorism, given he isn't behind Trump. If he isn't for victory he's against it, you see.

      The counterattacks so far have been predictable, but we can expect for them to become absolutely audacious as Trump gets closer to the edge. He isn't as likely as Nixon to just slink back to NYC when it becomes checkmate in 3 moves. At that point I'd expect a Sicilian defense.

  • Did Trump's Climate Disavowal just kill Capitalism?
    • You and Nel, below, alude to antiquated economic thinking, whose inadequacies constitute an important part of our problem.

      Nakedcapitalism.com offers many excellent and well-informed critiques of breaking events, often from a fairly technical economic perspective. It is influential, illuminating, and worth following.

      Apart from valuable debunking, well informed econic thinking is worthwhile for purposes of anticipation. I'm very much looking forward to hearing what the economic upshot of all this might be.

    • The ramifications of this move are enormous. Apart from the environment, and what it means for capitalism that go even deeper than you mention, is its impact on the world order.

      Iraq 2003 was a colossal mistake, but ultimately short term and theoretically something that could be recovered from. Here we'd have to go back to America's repudiation of the league of nations for a worse move. No, its worse.

      How about abdication of the US role in the world, with all its flaws, to the tender mercies of China?

      How about not having the underlying economic strenght to pull out of the next depression, which is coming.

  • Trump, Paris Accords and the End of the American Century
    • Naomi Klein has an interesting piece piece up at The Intercept, which might be seen as trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Or, maybe not. Going with the flow often yields new and better opportunities, whether or not they are forced.

      Aside from his vulgarity, incompetence, and lack of human values, Trump's disruption may yet provide a service. If the effect of repudiating Paris is to brush US obstructionism, masking as leadership, away, it could be for the best. HRC would have stood by Paris, whereas with the US out of the way, a more aggressive agenda might be pursued.

      And maybe, just maybe, this drama is all just a head feign, and Trump will stick with the agreement: that would be the way for him to inflict the most damage.

  • Germany: We Europeans must Depend on Selves, not Trump's USA
    • In the past EU members could just punt when faced with US fecklessness on world issues more important than troop deployments.

      Merkel got her Wake-Up Call during her first meeting with Trump. I doubt the various ministers needed to compare notes after this meeting. Eyes would've met and locked in a shared understanding, and they simply couldn't dismiss the situation with mere eyerolls.

      This may be for the best. The EU may now press on some of these more important issues far harder.

    • Asras--- We appear to have diametrically opposing perspectives, and I'd ordinarily defer to longstanding, direct observation. But the geopolitical imperatives here appear to be too compellingly for Merkel to just bow her head, shuffle away, and hope everything will somehow work out.

      As politicians, she and those before her have had to reflect a psychology that has chosen to regard itself as on perpetual probation. In all matter of concerns with regard to power, policy and leadership, Germany found it more comfortable to defer on such issues to the US, one way or the other. That attitude will at some point die out, even as that older generation fades away.

      Within the EC, a good deal of EU rudderless behavior has in the past been due to Germany not assuming a role appropriate to its position. Germany is not just the beating heart of Europe, but factoring out the UK it could represent much of its torso. (Forgive the limits of the metaphor, which would have France as Europe's head).

      I'd be open to Merkel just flogging red meat, but it did not sound that way to me. It did, indeed sound very, very careful. Careful and deliberate.

      Events often have a way of driving politics, and here the geopolitics and the stakes for Germany and the EU appear too high for business as usual.

    • This string may unravel a relationship that has served to define the European balance of power since WW II. There's no telling where this will end up.

      Merkel could not make this statement in such a deliberate way unless she was prepared to commit Germany to the leadership vacuum, and that's the story here.

      This is because Merkel must think she has the domestic support to do so. Certainly her appraisal would have been the consensus of the other ministers present. It would have been foolish to make this statement otherwise (despite its obvious truth), and she is anything but.

  • Allies Furious as Trump w/draws from G7 Climate Commitment, May leave Paris Accord
    • In the larger scheme quite big and significant news, so if all bold is your intention....

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism
    • You have a point: I thought 110 was IT. Perhaps it bears revisiting the cost of this stuff. Bear in mind, any deliveries must defer to Israel's requirement for a qualitative edge. But there must be a plot/understanding in play. KSA's predilection to fight to last (US) soldier is understood, so that's one place to watch as events unfold. Something deeper must be afoot.

    • Gotta know which Cohen. Leonard, perhaps? Link?

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election
    • Not really knowing what I'm talking about, but making a few defensible observations:

      I'd imagine that $110BM is structured over a number of years, and it takes time to accept and integrate that sort of stuff. The most expensive weaponry would be essential to offset the reality KSA would be the aggressor against Iran. Projecting across the gulf, and facing a big population disparity with a very efficient defensive posture, they will need the most expensive guns available to leverage the forces they do have.

      Increasing conflict, very like kinetic, between KSA and Iran appears inevitable as the economics surrounding oil/gas devolve. This is particularly true with a non-diversified KSA economy, which appears to be on a collision course with negative time and space. As you imply, their actions seem kind of desperate, which suggests what we can increasingly expect.

      War, civil or external, is the endpoint of regime survival imperatives. There is pressure building on Israel and KSA due to Iran, albeit for different reasons, as neither has legitimacy to spare and what they do have is leaking pretty badly. What they also both have is US politicians in their pocket, and in the case of the KSA a lot of money. When an individual or a country lacks any deeper legitimacy, recognized internally and externally, it has to compensate for its vulnerability with the exercise of raw power. They cling to their Guns and Religion (who said that?). In this case, however, either alone or collectively (dragging in the US if at all possible), Israel and KSA will want to neuter Iran, which is far more legitimate and only growing stronger, particularly if it continues to moderate politically and strengthens its ties with the World more broadly. Iran is poised to ascend, legitimately, and that's a serious threat to the poseurs in Israel and KSA.

      Iran is actually making do reasonably well at the moment, despite sanctions, and is stronger for the adversity. Its relationships with the EU/China stand to improve even as Trump seems poised to (perhaps) cut off his nose to spite his face. However, I read that Trump's substantive moves behind the scenes are for the improvement of commercial relations with Iran, which he understands, values and appreciates, notwithstanding posturing as he must for the interests of Israel and KSA. So, from his perspective, selling a lot of guns will be good for the US economy and let them blow up the Gulf in a few years: It'll be good business in a short-sighted way, and that seems to define Trump.

      Keep in mind, Israel chose the time and place of the six day war as Nassar's regional political offense was beginning to gain traction. Note that KSA and Israel have been getting increasingly chummy recently. Sure, Egypt was beginning to bring back their troops from Yemen to the Sinai in '67, which must've pushed the Israeli timetable, but it was the changing political picture which really threatened them.

    • Really, Trump is proving to be nothing more than a simple tool.

      Whereas a guy like Obama would've started out with ambition for some vision, he would find himself, ultimately, just doing his best not to do too much harm. And, by and large, doing what he was told, maneuvering through the limited options available.

      Trump, on the other hand, is a shameless huckster, saying anything to keep driving the big car, forever compensating for his countless inadequacies. To him there is no inconsistency in what he's now doing in Saudi Arabia.

      But, once past his vulgarity, incompetence, and shallowness, Trump really is more like a Reagan, fronting an agenda.

      The difference, and what makes it sadder, is that it isn't even his own.

  • Trump calls Special Counsel a "Witch Hunt": But what is his relation to Russia?
  • Erdogan & Trump: Can the Confict over Syria be Resolved?
    • Interesting assessment, and it could serve to highlight the impact of Trump's 'perfectly legal' conflicts of interest.

      Of course, his intentions would be central to piercing that legal position, at which point we run into his magpie mind (hugely appropriate phrase).

      So, the GOP will back him if he serves their domestic agenda, regardless. That means that sooner or later, very probably sooner, a whole, whole lot of people are going to get unnecessarily killed.

  • "Can you believe the World we Live in?" Trump doesn't understand "Classified"
    • Just think about it: every week a new blow against the US and the institution of the presidency. It's what he promised, right?

      Now, think about how this can possibly continue for rest of his term. This last move sure got our minds off Comey. It's beyond me. Something has got to give.

  • Clapper Lied & Spied, now charges Trump w/ assault on Gov't Institutions
    • Its occurred to me that many of these public posturings really are nothing but sales presentations on those who don't know better. Has anyone ever been convicted of lying here? Yeah, stuff does come out, but it has to have backing to be invited.

      The point is better made by POTUS. Obama and Trump couldn't have more different styles, but once in office they will do what they're told, or pick from the options offered.

      Trump has become the GOP's useful idiot, poised to sell every wet dream they've ever had. For that sort of front man they'll tolerate anything, as we now see.

  • GOP Greatest Single Threat to Mothers on Mother's Day
  • The Sadism of creeping Dictatorship
    • So, what's to be done now? There are plenty of alarmists out there, but they need to somehow penetrate the self-centered ears of an obstinate GOP, otherwise no Special Prosecutor. To this point Comey—whatever one thought of him—was our single remaining check.

      We are now rather quickly reaching a tipping point, beyond which things stand to get ugly, and there may be no turning back from the worst fears of this post. Here's some pertinent informed thinking of the if/thens involved:

      link to theatlantic.com

  • Which Middle East Authoritarian Leader is Trump most Like?
    • Incredibly conspicuous in its absence from immediate MSM, including AJ, reports of the Comey sacking, was the elephant in room of Yates testimony just 24 hours prior. Given the medias negligible attention span, why couldn't Trump have waited a mere week to ax him? On the one hand you have his impulsiveness and incompetence, and on the other hand you have the stink of fear and desperation.

      Or, maybe he's doing stuff like this and his silly tweets in the manner of a pickpocket or magician: distracting his audience with one hand while the other does the real business.

      All along, the judiciary has loomed as the center of gravity for whatever impact his administration might have in the immediate and (very) long term. The story doesn't end with the Merrick/Gorsuch affair. Mitch McConnell and the GOP had put the quietus on a huge number of federal judgeships as well. There's a larger story here some reporter needs to stitch together that I've learned in scraps. But essentially, by a series of senate rules, not unlike those that led to the Gorsuch appointment, the Demos appear to have been outmaneuvered in their influence over this backlog of judicial appointments.

      There's only so much you can blame on the Russians, Hillary.

  • NSAgate: Trump was warned (by Yates and Obama), and yet He Persisted
    • Sounds like you don't have much faith in Business As Usual either.

    • There's no telling exactly how events are going to unfold, but that heat-seaking missile of hubris has been launched and appears locked on.

    • Don't give them too much credit, as these are proving to be bad liars, adding to their general incompetence.

      I also suspect that Pence is a true believer, for better and worse, and it would not come easy to him.

    • Not to disagree with you at all, and she would not be pulling Trumps boners, but would Hillary do anything to drain said swamp? Our thinking needs to go deeper.

  • GOP Rep. Labrador: "Nobody dies b/c they don't have... Health Care"
    • Not to otherwise split hairs for this guy, but *nobody* is turned away at the emergency room. If cornered, he would undoubtably continue to blur the distinction between stabilizing a condition in a crisis and genuine healthcare. He would also sidestep how emergency-room 'healthcare' is the worst sort economically apart from efficacy, and contributes heavily to the runaway costs of the US system.

      What is most troubling, is that guys like this, however, is that they DO know better, as evidenced by how they shade their answers and otherwise steer around the issues. It is not their ignorance that people need to get upset about, but their values and a lack of accountability.

  • Trumpcare is the best Advertisement for Nationalizing Insurance
    • What you don't want to do, were it conceivably possible, is just cave in to the current healthcare industry, making it affordable with defense dollars. They'd just soak up those dollars as well.

      There either has to be a genuinely functioning market, which is inherently impossible due to the vital nature of its services, or regulate it like an essential utility: a single payer system allows provides that control and balance. And variations of that basic solution are in every other developed country in the world.

    • Of course, business practices like accounting must be harnessed to manage the operations within any industry as complex as medicine, and is there even another industry of its complexity?

      The problem is that the efficiciecies of this industry are not kept in check by overly lauded free-market mechanisms and medicine is not just another marketplace, where it possible for a consumer to apply theoretical rational expectations to their purchase practices.

      Instead, it is an industry that has grown by its inefficiencies, and paid for them by gouging people with no choice but to pay WHATEVER price is demanded of them, and which is rarely ever known beforehand.

      Of course, as well, there's nothing in the above you didn't already know, right?

      The question is how to get out of this hole, given the people and parties that profit from this system, and how its inefficiencies are so integrated into the overall economy.

    • It seems glib to say it, but I think TV fills a large cultural, and maybe even a psychological void, in the US.

      Having left the alienating, automobile culture, and having lived in pedestrian cities for the several years now, the difference is stark.

      Fox, especially, mainlines a sort of simplistically plausible source of moral indignation to these alienated souls, which stimulates lifes that have been becoming increasingly barren and futile. And its messages are delivered in the background by TV, passively, slipping by whatever critical thinking capabilities may exist. At a minimum, it will succeed in creating the all-important framing of issues, against which reality is going to have a tough, tough fight.

    • But you won't (usually?) die because of being cornered into using bad software. Healthcare should be understood as a basic human service, like a utility; same goes with the net neutrality.

    • As of a few years ago the US life expectancy was on par with Mexico, with the difference being cost. Things may have changed since 2011 but your point remains.

    • I'm curious about details. Maybe there's a link or you could comment more about Australia. What's the incentive for the private hospitals and doctors if the public option is better than just adequate? What I've seen abroad in these two tier systems is that the public service is strictly limited to a what is genuinely necessary, with nothing elective. There are other problems as well, but it may have more to do with the integrity of the systems in developing countries versus a place like Australia.

  • As Millions March for Climate, Stab in Back by EPA & NYT
    • The point is to look directly at the situation, and the people mentioned, for what they are and what this all means. What's to be done.

      1) They know better, and they. Just. Do. Not. Care. This isn't a matter of persuading or education.

      2) These people are the Usual Suspects, who cannot even be safely described directly, due to their power. Suffice it to say that in foreign affairs they represent the two main flavors of neoconservative.

      3) The current system of government has become corrupted to the point it no longer belongs to The People.

      Now. What to do?

    • We could all stand to be better informed here, and when things simply make no sense its best to question ones assumptions.

      First, these people, as cited, cannot be that stupid. Could it be that they are compromised by industry, but rationalize things with a knowledge that legacy energy is on its last legs and the situation will resolve itself in 20 years by free market mechanisms? While there is a price to pay, maybe they think they can have their cake (bribes) and eat it to. The march 27 NYT quoted Pruit, parsing how it was impossible to measure climate change with "any great precision." It was the sort of BS line one gets from the lawyer of a guilty dependent, who is cornered into questioning his opponents grammar: the guy really does know better.

      Second, why is it that the deeper background and demonstrated allegiances of the people cited so consistent and predictable (do a quick wiki on any of them)? Their ultimate allegiance is consistently only to their tribe and/or sheer power. So, the greater good is simply not part of their values equation. This is something to accept and deal with.

      Third, even when elected, its a mistake to think politicians represent The People. Demo/GOP candidates, especially at the national level, represent corporate and elite interests, and vary only in the style of salesmanship they offer to the masses. Trump distracts people with one hand while doing their bidding with the other; Hillary's style wouldve been different, but she would have to answer to the same masters. House representatives come from increasingly gerrymandered districts, representing ideologically narrow and mindless constituencies on both ends of the spectrum. At best, a minority of eligible voters who do vote cancel each other out, which ordinarily might be a good thing. But at the national level, policy alternatives are out of The People's hands.

      What's to be done is a tougher question, but getting a more accurate read of the realities tends to clarify things and resolve some of the more intractable frustrations before effective action might become possible.

  • Trump's Warmongering on Steroids: But who Supplied the Steroids
    • Keep in mind its only been 100 days. After one factors-in Trump's demonstrated track record and temperament, things might very well get a whole lot worse before he (maybe) decides to reconstitute some sort of conventional administration and just let it run.

      I suppose this would be your point and Tom's: that as a chameleon with no real values or agenda other that his own aggrandizement, Trump CAN turn on a time and become the pale, second-generation photocopy of whatever half-witted, garden-variety Demo/GOP politician you might choose to name. He can then delegate, spending his time tweeting as needed to keep his political (stock?) up, while he and his friends loot the system for all its worth. All he has to do is pick from among all those re-treaded backbenchers now waiting so anxiously in the wings. He seems to have already done so somewhat, judging from this Syrian business.

      The above is the best case scenario. Trump also shows a pattern of redefining his failures, potentially just reconciling himself to muddling through his (single?) term in a (relatively?) benign manner, personal vulgarities and embarrassments to one one side. Dream on. Remember, we have FOUR LONG YEARS of him to look forward to, and if his history is any guide he will at some point be challenged in some way we can not now possibly begin to fathom (HT, Colonel Jessep).

      In fact, his incompetence, failures and frustrations, are bound only to grow, and they are bound to at some unconsciously level irk him to no end. The question then becomes what's going to happen when they become impossible for him or anyone else to any longer deny, or when a real crisis besets him/us (e.g., think of Trump trying to sucker punch North Korea and seeing Seoul razed with a half-million casualties: who would've thunk it?). It's impossible not to see the day (absent a heart attack) when he'll need to blame others in a serious way, given his track record. And I'm not talking about throwing a few generals under the bus. I'm talking about going after internal dissidents and traitors.

      So, is the AG's incompetence enough to bank on, given his history of political prosecution in Alabama? Or can we bank on Gorsuch and the SCOTUS defying him once defining cases on his authority reach that level (and they will)? Maybe; maybe not. We can also look to the foot-dragging of the Civil Service and so-called deep-state. But what will Trump do if the various institutions don't either constrain or give him satisfaction, in order to salvage his all too precious ego?

      The thing that's hard for me to get my head around is the fact it has only been 100 days. As Trump comes to know his toys and prerogatives, and grows in confidence within the insulation of the White House bubble, I wonder what he will do when the crunch, real and/or to his ego, inevitably bears down on him (and us).

  • ISIL Terror-Trolls French Election, Supporting far Right; Will French Fall for It?
    • You're right in your conclusion about the underlying question.

      It was interesting hearing a mainstream US commentators condescending tsk-tsking of the French who "seem to just be getting use to these things.". What really is at issue is perspective, eh?

      One could even haul out various dictionaries and have a nice debate about the difference between terrorism and anarchism, and whether Daesh "qualifies" for an exemption from the former, being a state of sorts. All of which misses the truth of this phenomena and the wisest way for states or individuals to deal with it.

      Especially today we may need to look more to nations like France for such wisdom, if not leadership.

  • The Coming Muslim Century: Bad news for President Bannon
    • Remember Paul Ehlich's best-seller, circa 1970, The Population Bomb?

      Demographics trends are real, but reading them, and seeing the chemistry of the world unfolding just as forcast...fugetabutit.

  • As Leftist Turks Protest, Trump congratulates Erdogan on Authoritarian Turn
    • Cok iyi!

    • There have been several commentators here in the past who were exceptionally insightful about Turkish politics and it'd be good to hear from them.

      What I've found is these waters run deep. Turks ate extraordinarily passionate, proud and patriotic. E is respected even by his detractors as an incredibly shrewd and sensitive politician, so some thinking would be that he will continue to handle things successfully. Or not.

      People usually put their lives on the line when hungry and/or cornered. E doesn't seem so stupid as to force the issue and the economy isn't so far gone. Still, too many people there know better than for us to assume they will just accept things.

      I wouldn't make any assumptions here.

  • Why Population Exchange Fails: Over 100 Dead as Buses Bombed
    • The exchange of Turks and Greeks from Western Turkey and many now Greek islands is another example that did not go so badly.

      Seems to me we have to be careful drawing such parallels. The underlying circumstances are inevitably quite unique.

  • In 3 months, Trump has Charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no Avail
  • Washington's demonization of Foes jumps Shark with Sean Spicer on Hitler
    • It's interesting how, between very different cultures, The Godfather films resonate. In the US I think we've often become socially atomized, and we tend to ignore or minimize the power and absolute necessity of primordial relationships elsewhere.

      In addition to your observations, I'd also note the underlying competence of Michael and how he assumed the responsibility and weight for doing what had to be done, at least by his own lights. We have to question whether Assad is doing what 'must' be done, or whether he has (inadvertently?) become a monster, as per Diane Keeton's indictment of Michael.

      At that point in the film Michael told her he's just a powerful, responsible guy, like a Senator or Governor; Diane riposted that Senators and Governors don't have people killed; his retort was to ask who was being naive, which is a fundamental question for us all.

      But as to Syria, was it ever anything other than a family business?

  • Russia's not Leaving: Syria is about old-Fashioned Sphere of Influence, not Oil
    • Your final metaphor is a nice one, and seems very apt.

    • The logic and realities here seem to be pretty clearcut. What remains is to discount simple posing to the contrary, as the administration at some level perhaps understands these things.

      However, the impulsiveness that unleashed those missles is not factored in, so all bets remain on the table. While we can reasonably bet on the Russian reaction, what we cannot anticipate is Trumps, personally.

      It was encouraging to see the Nimitz task force heading for Korea, suggesting those missiles were as much a signal to NK as anything else. Which suggest there is some thought going into these decisions, somewhere in the administration.

      Trump is clearly unqualified and dangerous. But, when you've got lemons, make lemonade. If his style and impulses can be managed by more thoughtful people there is hope. It may not hold much for a progressive agenda, but at least for surviving Trump.

  • Sharpening Contradictions: ISIL Strikes Egyptian Christians on Palm Sunday
    • You're selling that consortium link way short!

      Although inspired by Bill Maher, that post is the single best cutting through the historical BS I can recall reading. It puts the last 50+ years of (often) self-delusion into a beautiful perspective that couldn't be more relevant.

      Whenever a person or a country gets all frustrated and cannot understand why-o-why things have all gone to hell, their problem is usually that they have deluded themselves about the reality of things, or have allowed someone else to con them about it.

      It's inevitable that reality eventually always bites the deluded in their ass.

  • Al-Sadr: Russia, America and al-Assad should all get out of Syria!
    • The neocons always seem to find some smooth, reassuring expat/exile with all the answers, who they can feel comfortable with socially, over drinks on the Georgetown party circuit. Toss in an endorsement from the WINEP (aka, the Likud's US branch office) and the fellow can do no wrong.

  • Russia: US attack on our Sovereign ally Illegal
    • Its not now handy to check all your links, but that one to the Guardian was 5 months old.

      Regardless, Putin, of all people, is now in the position of having to handle, for lack of a better word, a spoiled child with a loaded gun.

      Actually, that understates his problem massively. And the circumstances have undoubtedly now been further aggravated by the positive reinforcement being given to T by all sorts of people for his impulsiveness.

    • Volatile as the situation you describe is, it goes through the roof with T and his little hands involved. Obviously.

      What makes it even worse is that Putin cannot back down if T goes for a straight up major naval confrontation, say by dispatching a carrier task force to evict the Russian naval presence.

      When T took office we all knew things were going to go badly, individual political values aside. It was only a matter of when. I was rather thinking he'd arrest Hillary before this sort of scenario loomed. Now that it has (accidentally, since he cannot grasp how foreseeable what follows is), he'll be drawn to it like a moth to fire.

      Dust off those Duck and Cover drills.

  • Trump, al-Sisi and Tightening up the Pressure Cooker
    • In terms of competence, I'm not sure I'd put Trump in the same class as Vito Corleone.

      Still, it looks like we are going to see how our Hood handles his peers. Who knows, he may be effective. Perhaps being less shy about making offers that cannot be refused.

      Think positively, the next President will get to apologize for him doing things others wouldn't dare. One can always hope.

    • The reporting is remarkable here for its lack of context. The same could be said for the fight for Gorsuch on the Supreme Court now shaping up.

      In the case of Egypt, the obsequiousness of US behavior (including direct and indirect foreign aid exceeded only by Israel), commenced with the Camp David peace the US underwrote. Those two accounts need to be viewed as one. To be fair, our behavior and subsidy of Egypt is driven by US fealty to Israel, to keep their Western front docile.

      As for Gorsuch, I just don't get why reporters simply cannot bring themselves to mention the denial of a hearing or vote on Merrick Garland. The GOP hypocrisy begs to be questioned as their leadership now accuses the Democrats of threatening 200 years of tradition.

      In both cases "reporters" simply tee-up prompts for canned responses, avoiding the real issues.

  • The Hundred Days From Hell
    • Love your rhetoric. The sad part is that when read closely and critically it is far, far from an inaccurate summation; quite the contrary.

  • Putin joins ranks of Climate Denialists in support of Trump
    • I've looked into this business with melting permafrost and resulting release of methane, and have quickly gotten lost in the weeds. I'll leave it to some relatively even-handed scientist to sort out and put this stuff in digestible form (hint).

      Amongst all the talk, one can screen out the amateurs and agenda-ladden. The remaining thinking and studies seem to agree the prognosis is already very, very bad, and getting worse. The questions now seem to be around precisely when and how some fully un-anticipatable, yet certainly dire inevitability, is going to unfold.

      There seems to be no credible consensus other than very bad. Prior studies, including from Russia, seem to have angled for setting best and worst case bounds, but in the past this approach has turned out to be too optimistic compared to what actually transpired (I'm thinking here of the pace of temperature increases and icepack melting).

  • Was Michael Flynn Russia's “primary channel of communication with the Trump team”?
    • There is plenty of evidence in his prior words and deeds of "witless."

      Maybe his contributions here have all been organic; don't give him or the Russians too much credit.

    • Comey and any number of smaller things would've made the difference to the election, but not to the country, given how weak HRC and the DNC platform were. The point remains, Russia does not absolve them of the blame.

    • So what? I know we wouldn't want to torture the statutes excessively, to indict Fynn/Trump for negotiating with a foreign power prematurely, when civilians talk politics with foreign officials everyday; especially incoming policy makers.

      What we should be interested in is monetary contributions to Trump by Russia, or strategic coordination of leaks, etc. Then there is this incredible business of Trumps Boy Nunes running to report, and spread disinformation for the White House, while purporting to investigate things?

      No, there's enough genuinely shadey stuff going on to avoid being distracted by amateurism, incompetence, and the DNCs wishful thinking.

      This focus allows the DNC narrative to survive, that HRC would've won but for those dastardly Russians, and allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own inadequacies across the board.

      This sort of thinkinking allows them to avoid facing up to the fact that Trump did not win the election, but that they and Hillary, against all the odds, practically gave the Presidency to Trump.

  • Are Progressives Suffering from Trump Fatigue?
    • Speaking of a Single Payer System and Universal Coverage as a progressive issue may useful, but it distracts us from a state of politics where "conservatives" are willing to cut off their nose to spite their own greedy face.

      Even under Nixon, healthcare was hardly the economic drain on the US economy it has become. And even with that old GOP plan, pioneered by Romney in Massachusetts, the economic stakes were hardly what we now face. Healthcare has become an incredibly drain on the US economy and will only get worse, while delivering results that leave us on par with Mexico in term of longevity. Even for a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, reforming healthcare with some type of single payer model should be an obvious move for their own self-interested financial reasons.

      The underlying problem appears to be that an endemic corruption has permeated even these soulless, bottom-line hearts. US healthcare is no longer a system that needs fixing as a matter of human compassion, but for economic well being. Forget the damned 99%, this is essential for the 1% who now have full access to the Mayo Clinic without blinking and eye (that basic ACA coverage, BTW, is really rather nominal compared to what is to be had by those with real money). The overall economy, and the wealth of the 1% itself, is now being drained indirectly by this runaway healthcare industry.

    • "So, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

      This is hardly a situation that only effects a Progressive agenda: its rampant, prideful stupidity, run amok. There are plenty of very conservative people who are aghast at how things are going as well.

      What we need to look at is how the Trump agenda is being driven by a small minority, empowered by gerrymandering and the FAILURE of the Democrats, or traditional GOP, to field a viable alternative. The question becomes whether the country can find a vision and somehow recover a merely sane footing. There's a real chance that they might consolidate their control, beyond Trump, by focusing on SCOTUS and selective AG enforcement.

      The best chance to turn this thing around is fueled by the backlash to Trumps EOs, and his now evident intent to betray many of those who did vote for him. Even with the absence of a competing vision, this could neuter him. This impact could be felt in the midterms if he does not consolidate his power, as noted above.

      This danger and stakes here reach far beyond parochial Progressive values.

  • It's Class Warfare, Stupid. The GOP crusade against Health Care
    • There's actually more of a prefunctory ad hominem dismissal usually given when the concept is voiced, since its history is a bit pink.

      The phrase is also often appropriated by the Right preemptively, whenever they make a move like this one on healthcare. Its like how Israel has learned to scream as loudly as possible about the Palestinians, at the moment the Israelis instigate new violence. The first thing a pickpocket does when you catch his hand is to start screaming about how you're assaulting him.

      So, whatever else one might day about this administration, one should also add "incompetent", for failing to deploy the indicated invective, as they have in the past.

    • Very insightful. Seems to me this issue is so much more directly important to peoples lives that it easier to track and perceive the underlying realities.

      How things are handled and resolved becomes more telling about Americas fate as a nation than relatively abstract issues, like how ISIS is dealt with.

      Of course, in both cases the question is what the country and its citizenry stand for.

    • Even more succinct and pithy.

    • Nice summary.

    • No plan along theses lines begins to touch the underlying problem of unrestrained, runaway health care costs due a monopolistic system, which cannot in this case be resisted, since we cannot really shop.

      The industry grumbles but makes do because of this reality. Its still business as usual for them under any such plan. Neoliberal economic doctrine falls on its face under theses circumstances, but its easy to understand and self-serving, so the GOP clings to it, even as the industry sucks the blood out of the overall economy.

      Healthcare has to be addressed by a single payer model or you'll get what we've got, going downhill, every time.

  • Daesh/ISIL encouraging Loner attacks to Mask its Death Spiral
    • The intention of these acts, at least when nominally controlled and not the byproduct of some Loser acting-out, is to provoke over-reaction. Not recognizing this particular instance, for example, for what it actually was: hardly even an act of criminality, much less one of genuine 'terrorism'.

      Where such provocations to The System ultimately lead, however, is to the people being constantly on edge, fearful of a guy who uses one too many plastic spoons down at the Burger King. And that's about where we now find ourselves.

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