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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

THIS AND THAT

I have worked so hard and worried so much in the last two weeks preparing our apartment for the market that I have lost four pounds.  Every little bit helps.

I am simply skipping this past week's Friday List.  I shall return to it this coming Friday.

Meanwhile, Trump and his family are openly, unashamedly cashing in on the presidency with deals large and small, right down to Kellyanne Conway hawking Ivanka Trump's goods on national television.  It is clear now, if there was ever any doubt, that the Republican Congress will never act to call him to account.  This means that our only hope and recourse is to defeat as many Republicans as possible in upcoming elections.  

I see that another King Kong movie has been released.  If Google is to be trusted, this is the thirteenth film with "Kong" in the title [including Wasei Kingu Kongu in 1933.]  I have a personal attachment to the 1976 version with Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Charles Grodin and Rene Auberjonois [familiar to Star Trek aficionados as the shapeshifter from Deep Space Nine.]  I took my young sons to see it in a huge thousand seat theater in West Springfield, so jammed that in the minutes leading up to the showing, a sepulchral voice could be heard on a loudspeaker saying "there are now nine more seats available, none together."  It was a genuine event, and the boys loved it.  I mean, I do understand the sentimental attachment to Fay Wray, but each of us has his or her own memories.

12 comments:

howie b said...

The important thing is what's good for Trump, after all he's the single most important person in history, or why else would he be elected President by such an overwhelming landslide?
And Octavius, he'd easily beat Octavius as Emperor. And Hitler? No match for the art of the deal.
What's good for Trump is good for America

s. wallerstein said...

Why do you now believe that the Republican congress will not call Trump to account?

A week or so ago you convinced me that the dam was beginning to crack and that if we waited a while, the flood (revelations about Trump's conflicts of interest and his dealings with Putin) would destroy Trump and lead to his impeachment. Why did you change your mind?

levinebar said...

Some Republicans in Congress must have noticed that if Trump hangs on that long, the prospect of electing a new Congress in 2018 to impeach him will be a HUGE draw for Independent and Democratic voter turn-out. That threatens Paul Ryan's and Mitch McConnell's positions, too. Recently, federal courts have ruled the gerrymandered maps used in the 2016 election in Wisconsin, Alabama, and Texas unconstitutional; that should suggest to any Republican who's paying attention that the dominance they enjoy today is less than secure.
Donald Trump has few fans in Congress; he defeated the RNC no less than he defeated the DNC in 2016. Many Republicans in Congress would be more comfortable with Pence (a standard young-earth creationist Christian dominionist enemy of women's rights and labor rights movement "conservative").
All of which suggests to me at least that this Republican Congress can't afford to do nothing forever.

Chris said...

Oh gee everybody, would you look at that:

https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

"The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Obama’s former CIA chief also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the infamous, explosive “dossier” originally published by BuzzFeed, saying that its author, Christopher Steele, paid intermediaries to talk to the sources for it. The dossier, he said, “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

Morell’s comments echo the categorical remarks by Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, who told Meet the Press last week that during the time he was Obama’s DNI, he saw no evidence to support claims of a Trump/Russia conspiracy. “We had no evidence of such collusion,” Clapper stated unequivocally. Unlike Morell, who left his official CIA position in 2013 but remains very integrated into the intelligence community, Clapper was Obama’s DNI until just seven weeks ago, leaving on January 20.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote."

Chris said...

"For so long, Democrats demonized and smeared anyone trying to inject basic reason, rationality, and skepticism into this Trump/Russia discourse by labeling them all Kremlin agents and Putin lovers. Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report using the language of treason to announce the existence of a “Fifth Column” in the U.S. that serves Russia (similar to Andrew Sullivan’s notorious 2001 decree that anyone opposing the war on terror composed an anti-American “Fifth Column”), while John McCain listened to Rand Paul express doubts about the wisdom of NATO further expanding to include Montenegro and then promptly announced: “Paul is working for Vladimir Putin.”

But with serious doubts — and fears — now emerging about what the Democratic base has been led to believe by self-interested carnival barkers and partisan hacks, there is a sudden, concerted effort to rein in the excesses of this story. With so many people now doing this, it will be increasingly difficult to smear them all as traitors and Russian loyalists, but it may be far too little, too late, given the pitched hysteria that has been deliberately cultivated around these issues for months. Many Democrats have reached the classic stage of deranged conspiracists where evidence that disproves the theory is viewed as further proof of its existence, and those pointing to it are instantly deemed suspect."

Tom Cathcart said...

Chris, what do you make of the fact that Trump has dissed many heads of state, but has only glowing things to say about Putin? Or that the only plank in the Republican platform that the Trumpers fought to change was the one about sanctions on Russia? Or that Trump still refuses to show us his tax returns, when it's known that Donald Jr. and many Trumpers have close ties to Russia? This is all, of course, very circumstantial, but I don't think one has to be a "deranged conspiracist" to be suspicious. Do you, really?

Jerry Fresia said...

I might as well jump in here; it's a slow day.

Tom: being suspicious is one thing, but the Dems have forsaken their crumbling, perhaps non-existent, base in favor of a
witch hunt, and they will have to pay the price or to put it another way, the evil-Trump-evil-Putin breathless mantra is going to come back and bite the Dems and boost Trump; and the corporate media, if it had done its job, might have spared the Dems (and themselves) further embarrassment and pity.

The Dems will lead us to where?

From the same column that Chris quoted it from (a must read):

https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

"Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

"The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

"But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to 'cast doubt' on 'allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.' 'On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,' he said, adding, 'There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.' "

Chris said...

I think even malignant narcissist are sometimes attracted to fellow malignant narcissist if they see in something they either 1) hope to attain, or 2) think they already attain and thus see a reflection of themselves. Trump's love of Putin isn't too hard to explain.

Just like Trump's love of wikileaks but hatred of internal leaks isn't hard to explain either.

Or as usual, I agree with everything Jerry said.

Chris said...

Further, Tom, I don't know if you saw the SNL bit where John Cena plays Trump, but that essentially is a compelling (comical) argument why he may like Putin.

Tom Cathcart said...

Don't forget, guys, Bob's citing of the fact that it was tax evasion, not murder charges, that brought Al Capone down. My bet is that the Russia thing has a way better chance of undoing Trump than the class interest fight, at least at this moment. And, yes, whatever Democratic Congress we can elect is unlikely to suddenly become the party of FDR. But it's also unlikely to defund Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, after-school programs for kids of working moms---real programs that low-income people depend on for their existential security. As Ari said, it's the art of the possible, not the ideal, and right now it looks possible to tie Trump to a felony. It doesn't look possible to bring back FDR just yet. And the worst imaginable Democratic regime would be far better than what we have. Let's bring him down by any means possible.

Chris said...

"it was tax evasion, not murder charges, that brought Al Capone down."
Because Al Capone ACTUALLY was engaged in tax evasion. We don't KNOW Trump is guilty, but presuming he's guilty until proven innocent is also likely to lead to egg on the face of Democrats when this whole witch hunt blows up in their faces. Hence the linked article above.

" My bet is that the Russia thing has a way better chance of undoing Trump than the class interest fight, at least at this moment."

That's not what polls suggest. Sanders, and his goals, remain more popular than Trump even among Trump voters! Even in Fox News polls!

"whatever Democratic Congress we can elect is unlikely to suddenly become the party of FDR"

Which is why Trump and Anti-Establishment (emphasis here) Republicans are attractive to independents and 'low information voters'

s. wallerstein said...

The fact that Sanders scores so well in the polls should be explored. I would wager that the fact that he's clean is as important to his high popularity as his policies.

In Chile two young (around age 30) independent congressmen, Gabriel Boric and Giorgio Jackson, constantly top the polls as the most respected political figures. They are to the left of the two major political coalitions which have governed Chile since the return of democracy in 1990, but above all, they too are clean. No scandals in their past, no corporate contributions to their campaigns, the ability to criticize their own errors, and they have introduced a bill in congress to halve congressional salaries, a bill which was not especially welcomed by veteran congresspeople.

Everyone else in Chilean politics seems to have been involved in something dirty or fishy or corrupt at one time or another. I have the impression that their popularity is at least half due to their being clean. This year both will run for congress again and they are forming a coalition, el Frente Amplio, to run a presidential candidate (they are both too young to run for president) to challenge the candidates of the two major political coalitions. The disillusion with establishment politics in Chile is so strong that they may do well if people bother to vote: I doubt that they will elect the president, but they may well get at least 15% of the vote, a good start for a new political movement.

Anyway, Sanders is notable because he is clean and over 70. It gets to people very favorably that someone has a led a life in politics and has come out clean.
I wonder whether there is not space in the U.S. for a third party movement which stays clean, just plain clean,.