The World Hates Us

We’re only five months into Trump’s Make America Great Again project and the damage is enormous. It’s far greater than just what has resulted already from Trump’s attacks on our environment, our educational system, our health care system, our judicial system, our security services, our legislative processes, our independent media, and a wide range of individual citizens who have been reproached, vilified, and ridiculed.

It’s our place in the world that has suffered most.

pariah

Our allies don’t trust us. Our treaty commitments are up for “re-negotiation”. The “soft power” we have exercised worldwide through the example of our institutions, political culture, educational opportunities, and our economic and philanthropic outreach is diminished.

This WaPo piece describes the precipitous decline of our status in Western Europe and our tremendous surge of esteem in Russia. It offers some explanations, including,

What is surprising, said Frank G. Wisner, a former diplomat who served under Democrats and Republicans, is the degree to which Trump has scorned principles the United States has not only long espoused but also helped to define in the previous century. These include democratic governance, free markets, collective security, human rights and the rule of law — commitments that together, Wisner said, delineate the liberal international order.

This Pew Research Center piece describes a poll of 37 nations, summing it up by saying, “Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.”

There is a  ton of information and detail in the Pew study – well worth a look. Here are a couple of highlights:

confidence

favorability

ratings

The image, esteem, and power of the U.S. has been enormously diminished in just a few months, but it’s Trump himself that takes the biggest hit:

A median 22 percent are confident that Trump will do the right thing in global affairs, down from 64 percent who had confidence in Obama.

The Failing New York Times rated Trump’s first 100 days as the “Worst On Record”, but that’s the sort of fake news that explains why they’re failing.

Trump’s view of his own success is, of course, entirely different. In that “cabinet meeting” he held recently, where the agenda consisted of each cabinet member in turn describing how unbelievably great Trump is, he said,

“There has never been a president, with few exceptions, who has passed more legislation, done more things.”

Way to go, man-baby. And thanks for nothing.

cabinet

Health care for Grizzlies

Everyone knows the Trumps are the real conservationists, not like those phony climate science hoaxers.  That’s why they need to shoot the last few large wild animals we have left. You know, to protect them.

But, really, why should these young heroes have to travel all over the globe to find big animals to assassinate, when there are still a few left alive right here in the good ole U. S. of A.?

griz

Well, we have some good news for you today. Very soon, they’ll be able to roll up on one of the few Grizzly bears left around Yellowstone and blow its brains out with a high-powered weapon from a safe distance, possibly from the comfort of a Humvee.

humvee

All this will be possible because the Trump administration is removing the Grizzly from the Endangered Species list after 42 years. In that time, the population of Grizzlies has managed to recover from the last 150 left alive to a whopping 700 now, and the man-baby and his pals figure that’s plenty. Who needs ’em? Do they vote?

Here’s some background about the joyous changes.

Here’s a clip of young Donnie checking out the latest in silencers. Definitely a necessary add-on.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/93a45c7e-ceb8-11e6-85cd-e66532e35a44

Well, at least it will be a fair fight, not like what happened to Maxine, who was just sleeping when she was executed.

maxine

Our Civil War

No, not that one.  A new “War Between the States” has been brewing for a long time and it’s heating up.

Your President was calling for “unity” at the congressional picnic the other day. He was referring to the baseball field shootings that seriously wounded Representative Steve Scalise, and the many expressions of bi-partisan feeling that followed. The message was certainly appropriate and much needed, particularly coming from this president, who seems to enjoy fighting with everybody more than just about anything else. Except maybe eating. (Yes, I know fat-shaming is a no-no, but I’m making an exception here. OK?)

tennis

So diplomatic. So presidential. So hypocritical.

The man who so solemnly called for much-needed unity had just come from taunting Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (on Twitter, of course), for losing the special election in Georgia. Not that she was running for anything in Georgia, but that doesn’t matter. The election had been thought of as a referendum on Trump’s popularity, but somehow turned out to be a referendum on Pelosi. At least it did in the estimation of FoxNews and, therefore, the man-baby.

She lost. So, of course, a good presidential twitter-taunting was in order as it always is for any loser. He could have simply praised and congratulated the winner, Karen Handel, but apparently that wouldn’t have been very satisfying.  Or, apparently, very unifying.

But zinging Pelosi wasn’t enough. He had to include a dig against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who will now be forever known as “Cryin’ Chuck”.

schumer tweet

Anyway, none of this is really new – we’re all now inured to Trump’s bullying and bellicosity. Amazing, but it’s true. We’re just worn down by it all and no one in Congress or on Foxnews will admit it’s a bad thing. They’re all abetting it and must share the blame for allowing it all to become “normal”.

Which brings me the the War Between the States. Texas vs. California, that is.

This article reports that California has now declared that it will not support travel to Texas. It says,

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed controversial legislation into law that allows child welfare providers — including faith-based adoption agencies — to refuse adoptions to hopeful parents based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

In response, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that his state will prohibit its employees from traveling to Texas because Texas has enacted laws that, he said, discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families.

Texas, home to the nation’s second-largest economy, joins California’s growing list of states — Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota were added at the same time — to which state-sponsored travel has been curbed because of similar legislation.

The Blue vs. The Gray was bad, but we can at least understand why it happened. The Blue vs. The Red is just baffling.

Is this how we want to live? Who does it help? Can you imagine this happening during the administration of any other president?

Beyond Good and Evil

Remember Google’s slogan back when it was called Google?

“Don’t Be Evil”.

They dropped it in 2015 when they became a sub of the new company, Alphabet.

At that point, Google came under Alphabet’s umbrella “Code of Conduct“, which states in part,  “Employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries and controlled affiliates should do the right thing — follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect.” Of course, it doesn’t cover cases where the law is ambiguous or where it simply hasn’t yet caught up to all the new possibilities in the ever-evolving tech world. As long as you follow the law, you don’t have to worry about “evil”.

I’m not sure dropping the old slogan was any kind of tacit permission for an employee to go ahead and be evil at that point, but it doesn’t much matter because the business practices that Google had in place from the get-go were already deep into a gray area that could easily qualify as “evil” in the estimation of many. In other words, their definition of “evil” was sufficiently fungible as to be meaningless in the context of a code of conduct.

I’m thinking of this today because I saw a headline link (on my Google News feed – where else?) that said, “Google will stop scanning your GMail messages to sell targeted ads.” As you may have forgotten, the extremely popular, “free”, web-based GMail service has been scanning the content of every message you’ve sent or received from day one, trying to figure out how to better target you for ads it wants to sell. At least, that’s the explanation they’ve given for this practice, as if that in itself wasn’t already “evil”.

Do you care? Did you have any expectation of privacy when using GMail? Does someone in the employ of the U.S. Postal Service “scan” your mail to see how it might “serve you better”? Would you be upset if they did?

Anyway, they’re not going to do it anymore. You’re probably thinking that the outcry from angry users finally convinced them to live up to their stupid slogan. But, no, that’s not it at all. They’re allegedly not going to look at your emails anymore because,

“the practice has made it difficult for Google to find and retain corporate clients for its cloud services business, according to Diane Greene, Google’s cloud division head, who spoke with the Financial Times. This is due to general confusion over Google’s business tactics and an overall apprehension to trust the company with sensitive data.”

They’re going to stop doing an evil thing because it’s costing them money. That’s pretty much what Nietzsche was saying, right?

nietzsche

 

President Jackass obstructs justice. Again.

So today the man-baby came clean about not having any recordings of his conversations with James Comey.  That in itself could be newsworthy, as Trump virtually never “confesses” to anything.

Actually, he didn’t “confess” this time either, but rather indicated that it was all a bluff to influence Comey’s testimony before congress – meant to keep him “honest” – and he bragged about how well it worked.

Hang on a second while my head stops spinning. There, OK. Let’s see if I have this right.

  1. The President of the United States fired the Director of the F.B.I., James Comey, and then explained on national television that he did so because he was unhappy with the investigation of Russian meddling in the election, and wanted to somehow end it. He thereby confessed to committing Obstruction of Justice.
  2. The President of the United States then tweeted a veiled threat about having recordings of his discussions with Comey before Comey was to testify before Congress.
  3.  The President of the United States is now bragging about not actually having any such recordings after all, but being successful in his attempt to influence Comey’s testimony (by “keeping him honest”), thereby committing Obstruction of Justice. Again.

The President of the United States appears to be a bit clueless about some of the basics of what is and is not appropriate for him to say. Actually, he appears to be a complete jackass.

As always, though, the people who need to understand this don’t care and aren’t listening.

 

trump blather

What’s with all the Pelosi hate?

In the aftermath of the most recent Democratic Party failure, the defeat of Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district seat, I’ve seen approximately 10 zillion articles explaining the result as a repudiation of Nancy Pelosi.

The winner, Karen Handel had campaigned heavily on the made-up notion that Ossoff was a Pelosi admirer and therefore must be defeated. Here is an “explanation” piece about the Georgia election entitled “Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go”, that says, in part,

Nancy Pelosi is not where we need to go. She’s failed leadership. While she might be doing some great things in her district, the truth is she’s the person who’s been leading this front that we’ve been running on for years, so she has to go as leadership.

What she’s doing isn’t working. She’s the leadership, it’s failed and, ultimately, it’s her responsibility.

Her name alone is apparently some sort of dog whistle about what’s wrong.

What’s going on? Maybe it’s because I don’t follow politics as closely as I should, but I am completely unaware of the damage Pelosi is doing and has done to America that makes her so radioactive. I mean, I get it, she’s the Minority Leader in the House, so she’s perhaps the most “powerful” Democrat left standing at the moment, but is that it?

Obama and Hillary are out of the picture (though Trump is still campaigning against both of them), so, um, we have to pretend Nancy Pelosi is the devil?

As far as I can make out, the knock on Pelosi is that she is from San Francisco, and that’s enough. That makes her “cosmopolitan” and not really “American”, a member of the 1% not like the rest of us, and someone who is heavily immersed in the “culture” that San Francisco represents, i.e. “progressive”.  She therefore is the poster-child for Everything That’s Wrong With America.

The comments section of the piece linked above has many mentions of Pelosi. All agree that she is the problem, but they’re all over the map about why. This one explains she’s not strong enough:

Time to face the facts, the Democrats are all but uselessly ineffective. They don’t have the machine, the rigged districts not the balls to deal with the GOP. It’s like watching a Girl Scout go up against The Hell’s Angels. Is it lack of guts, naivte, or just ineptness? Whatever it is, they can’t save us from even the likes of trump. An inconsequential bunch of flower children unable to stand up to real force. Step one, get some spokespersons. Nancy Pelosi may well be a brilliant strategist or diligent soldier but she is not the bulldog we need to hear from. Reserved and well spoken work best when the enemy knows you can actually bring something, other than shaming words, to the fight. They don’t see it. Take the gloves off or just go home, we don’t need anymore of your empty kumbaya pleading. It’s a knife fight, get up, get ready and go to battle!

While this one says she has the wrong focus:

I agree that Ms. Pelosi has to go. She is too closely aligned with Identity politics that panders (not addresses) to every minority concern. We as a nation must begin to break free of identifying ourselves as Liberals or Conservatives.

They don’t agree on why Nancy Pelosi is the problem, but they agree that she is.  And from the Republican point of view, Nancy Pelosi is the gift that keeps on giving. 

I really don’t get it, which, I guess, is why Trump is president and so many of us are wondering how it could happen.

 

 

You can’t stop free enterprise

Trump’s proposed budget includes steep cuts for many programs designed to help low-income Americans, the homeless, and others who need shelter. It keeps one program, though, and of course that program benefits Trump personally.

It’s a housing subsidy that pays landlords directly, and Trump has a 4% stake in a Brooklyn building that’s part of the largest subsidized housing development in the country. According to his recent financial disclosures, this position earned him $5 million between January 1, 2016 and April 15, 2017.

It doesn’t matter whether Trump is still personally involved with this investment in any way or whether he personally saw to it the subsidy wouldn’t be cut, though I would imagine that both are true given his long track record. What matters is that this is the very definition of “the appearance of a conflict of interest”, and the reason it is so important that elected officials avoid it by divesting such holdings. Except Trump, who has divested nothing.

starrett

Starrett City, Brooklyn

I simply do not understand why this one crazy bully is immune from standards that everyone in this country has been held to for years, irrespective of political affiliation.

Some prescient fretting about Trump’s “divestment” strategy in this WaPo piece from just before inauguration.

Another potential boost for Trump’s revenue could come if HUD reverses a 2007 decision in which the agency blocked owners from selling the property as Brooklyn’s real estate market boomed.

Trump clashed at the time with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other opponents of the sale, who accused owners of seeking to make money at the expense of poor tenants. “You can’t stop free enterprise,” Trump told the New York Daily News. “This is not Communist China.”

pockets