Notes on Trump 40

I started this post a month ago and have not been monitoring news on Trump (or Brexit) much since so had better get it out now with just a bunch of links at the end but no explanation of them.

1. Recent developments seem to confirm my take on Brexit a month ago:

Brexit April Fool’s day joke could be nearly over

Ministers now openly confirming they will have to request a postponement until after April Fool’s Day to sort themselves out whatever happens now:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-theresa-may-deal-article-50-extend-parliament-commons-eu-withdrawal-a8723281.html

I’m not following the death throes, but May seems focussed on defanging the Brexiteers screams of “Treason” when Brexit fails by setting up a situation in which they take the blame for voting “No Deal” to the only deal available thus making “No Brexit” inevitable after initial postponement.

2. As predicted when focus was on campaign finance, the campaign about Trump is now back where Trump wants it – firmly focussed on Russia:

Insane version:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/here-are-18-reasons-why-trump-could-be-a-russian-asset/2019/01/13/45b1b250-174f-11e9-88fe-f9f77a3bcb6c_story.html?utm_term=.6a08d7dee4b4

Less insane version (“we already knew”):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-putin-revelations-are-nothing-new-why-are-people-so-excited/2019/01/13/a3ab6434-1775-11e9-88fe-f9f77a3bcb6c_story.html?utm_term=.b815ec58de7b

The less insane one sort of prepares readers for a Mueller report expected to not provide any way to get rid of Trump while not preventing them from continuing to bloviate about him being a Russian “asset” instead of developing actual policies.

I haven’t followed the latest “shutdown”. Trump approval currently down to 45% after near 50% late last year. Seems plausible that he will end it with a “State of Emergency” to be quashed by Supreme Court so he consolidates his base by having done everything he could to deliver on promises but was stopped by Democrats.

Meanwhile Democrats have gone out of their way not to actually fight on immigration issues but support border security. So support for “the wall” (now actually a fence) has RISEN from a year ago:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-gop-blamed-shutdown-crisis-fewer-oppose-wall/story?id=60337670

Now the minority support is 42%/54% while a year ago it was 34%/67%.

So Trump takes the blame for fighting hard for his promises while winning greater support for his policies.

Not much sign of “bipartisan” moves to help relect Trump by delivering on infrastructure spending, healthcare and massive deficits yet.

But this item on prison reform actually delivered is a straw in the wind – especially relevant to reducing the black turnout for Democrats:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/19/trumps-prison-reform-win-great-trump-paradox-it-reveals/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bcf87f0d94d8

3. I don’t know what’s going on with Syria policy.

Kurds and Turks clashing in northern Syria indicates increasing irrelevance of both Daesh and Assad regime, despite Daesh still existing and regime still holding ALL the cities.

Turkey seems to be stepping forward as the protector of Sunnis with a US withdrawal and Russian military police in areas that fighters withdrew from under cease fire agreements potentially able to hand over to them.

Al Qaeda is now the main threat to democratic revolution and has strengthened its position in Idlib embedded in close alliance with other Sunni forces, although now isolated from the opposition to regime in other areas. Interesting that Turkish tanks are being openly moved to the border of Idlib:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey/turkey-reinforces-troops-on-border-with-syrias-idlib-anadolu-idUSKCN1P51MU

Some deal was arranged between Russia, Iran, Turkey and the more democratic resistance long ago, but I only know it could not be for long term occupation of Syria by Russian and Iranian forces and the other option of an Alawi enclave in Latakia has been foreclosed by the regime’s occupation of all cities. Media claims victory for Assad (and Russia and Iran). They are clearly wrong but I don’t know what is happening or when.

For an opposite view, here’s “Voice of America”:

https://www.voanews.com/a/arab-nations-inch-toward-rehabilitating-syria-president-assad/4741186.html

Meanwhile Trump’s focus is clearly domestic and his withdrawal announcement will be popular with the overwhelming isolationist sentiment in both his base and the Democrat base while the denunciations for “playing into Russian and Iranian hands” will only reinforce isolationist sentiment among Americans who might support democratic revolution but are rightly unenthused about maintaining imperial boundaries against other powers. As long as there are few US casualties it won’t matter much domestically whether the announced withdrawal actually happens or whether covert and air operations continue. Isolationist sentiment will still be strengthened and Trump will still benefit from the announcement. As for the impact in Syria, the Turks are far more important and the Kurds would be well advised to pull back and not turn towards the regime.

4. Now here’s what I started a month ago:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/byron-york-sudden-shift-in-get-trump-talk-now-its-campaign-finance-not-russia

This summary of current Democrat theme looks about right to me. Only missing a couple of points.

1. They won’t drop Russia and are starting to convince themselves that Trump’s lawyer thinking about bribing Putin with an apartment at a hoped for Trump tower in Moscow could at last be proof the Kremlin has something on him that explains how they lost the election.

2. Trump benefits from Democrats impeaching him and splitting about such idiotic tactics.

But it does confirm they are headed straight for it, even on something as utterly pointless as trying to convince more than a third of GOP Senators to remove him from office (and later get removed themselves by GOP primaries), for using his own money to pay off people he had sex with not to talk about it during his campaign.

Sudden shift in get-Trump talk; now it’s campaign finance, not Russia

by Byron York

December 10, 2018 03:48 PM

Prosecutors investigating President Trump made big news Friday, but it wasn’t about Russia. Rather, in their sentencing recommendation for fixer Michael Cohen, lawyers with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York wrote that in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump directed Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who wanted money to keep quiet about sexual dalliances. While such arrangements are legal, prosecutors argued that since the payoffs occurred during the campaign, they were violations of campaign finance laws.

Cohen, who is cooperating because prosecutors nailed him for tax evasion and bank fraud in his private business, pleaded guilty to two felony campaign finance violations. So no one has to talk about an “alleged” campaign finance scheme; there’s already a guilty plea. But what was really significant about the sentencing memo was that prosecutors specifically said Trump told Cohen to do it.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” prosecutors said. “He acted in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump].”

Those words caused a sudden shift in the debate over investigating the president. What had been a two-year-long conversation about Trump and Russia instantly became a conversation about Trump and campaign finance.
“Prosecutors are now implicating the president in at least two felonies,” said CNN.

“Federal prosecutors in New York say that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to commit two felonies,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“At least two felonies,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.

“Implicated in two felonies,” said anti-Trump gadfly George Conway, husband of top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.
And so on.

“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who will become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee next month, “that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

Jerry Nadler, the Democrat who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, said the campaign finance charges “would be impeachable offenses because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.” Nadler said he has still not determined whether the charges, even thoughthey could be the basis for impeachment, are important enough to actually go forward, at least yet.
Nadler’s public caution is understandable; his committee will have the responsibility of starting the impeachment process, if that is what Democratic leaders decide. But the fact is, a number of Democrats clearly believe they already have enough evidence to impeach.

One significant problem could be that the campaign finance charge against the president is a pretty iffy case. Back in 2010, the Justice Department accused 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards of a similar scheme — an alleged campaign finance violation based on a payoff to a woman with whom Edwards had had an affair (and a child).
Edwards said he arranged the payment to save his reputation and hide the affair from his wife. The Justice Department said it was to influence the outcome of a presidential election.

The New York Times called the Edwards indictment “a case that had no precedent.” Noting that campaign finance law is “ever changing,” the paper said the Edwards case came down to one question: “Were the donations for the sole purpose of influencing the campaign or merely one purpose?”

The Justice Department failed miserably at trial. Edwards was acquitted on one count, while the jury deadlocked in Edwards’ favor on the others. Prosecutors opted not to try again.

President Trump would point out that the accusation against him differs in at least one key respect from Edwards. Prosecutors accused Edwards of raising donor money to pay off the woman. Trump used his own money, which even the byzantine and restrictive campaign finance laws give candidates a lot of freedom to use in unlimited amounts.
So even more than Edwards, if the Justice Department pursued a case against Trump, it would be on unprecedented grounds.
But the political reality is, it doesn’t really matter if it is a weak case. And it doesn’t matter if Trump himself has not been indicted, or even that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Because now, Democrats can say, “The Justice Department has implicated the president in two felonies. Two felonies. TWO FELONIES!”

Politically, that’s as good as an indictment of Trump. Perhaps even better, since it does not give the president a forum to make a proper legal defense.

The last few days have seen a big pivot in the campaign against Donald Trump. For two-plus years, it was Russia, Russia, Russia. But despite various revelations in the Russia probe, the case for collusion remains as sketchy as ever. Now, though, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have given Democrats a new weapon against the president. Look for them to use it.

A subsequent item indicates there is more solid grounds for eventually convicting Trump of a campaign finance violation than the Edwards case:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/trumps-john-edwards-defense-further-dissipates

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/06/how-trumps-approval-rating-has-evolved-according-data-scientist-donald-trump/

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/trump-s-tariffs-could-clinch-electoral-college

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/huawei-arrest-gives-u-s-leverage-over-china-on-technology

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2018/12/07/latest-filings-show-that-nobody-can-save-trump-now/?utm_term=.2bf06befaf27

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/08/donald-trump-denies-wrongdoing-amid-accusations-prosecutors-mueller/2249001002/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/07/michael-cohen-sentencing-memo-key-takeaways/2243428002/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/08/donald-trump-mueller-investigation-cohen-manafort

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/08/donald-trump-mueller-investigation-cohen-manafort

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/08/europe/russia-putin-trump-bromance-intl/index.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/07/opinions/mueller-is-putting-the-puzzle-pieces-together-on-trump-honig/index.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/07/opinions/mueller-is-putting-the-puzzle-pieces-together-on-trump-honig/index.html

https://www.newyorker.com/news/swamp-chronicles/the-michael-cohen-sentencing-memos-are-damning-for-trump

https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/trump-s-tweeting-veers-into-suspected-witness-tampering-territory-20181204-p50jzk.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/08/george-conway-blasts-trumps-claim-that-cohen-filing-totally-clears-president/?utm_term=.71abf94e1d8e

Assassinations of Raed Fares and Hammoud al-Jneid – the democratic revolution continues

Raed Fares best one

The assassination of Syrian democratic revolutionaries Raed Fares and Hammoud al-Jneid in Kafr Nabl was very bad and sad news. Raed was an icon of the people’s uprising, especially in Kafr Nabl, from where he ran an alternative anti-regime, anti-Daesh, radio station called ‘Radio Fresh‘.

It had received US funding until five months ago when President Trump stopped the US government’s $200 million in ‘stablilization aid’ to Syrian civil society organisations and humanitarian groups, including Radio Fresh. (Which must have pleased the anti-US-interventionist pseudo-left).

I followed Raed Fares on facebook over the years. Images of his satirical cartoons and political banners went viral. They had a distinct style and could be savage in their mocking of the regime and of the west’s failure to effectively support the revolutionaries.

There’s a lot of muck on social media but also great stuff, like the photos of Raed’s cartoons and banners, usually held up by groups of men in Kafr Nabl.

I’m republishing below a letter seeking support for Radio Fresh, to allow it to keep going.

Also, I’ve been gathering images of some of Raed’s work and share them here, after the letter below. My favourite is the one linking the Syrian uprising to the bigger picture of democratic revolution beyond Syria.

* * * *

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Dear friends,

I am still reeling from the news of Raed Fares’s assassination on Friday. The heartbreak and collective grief so many Syrians and people around the world share at his loss are almost unbearable. But with every hour that passes it becomes more obvious what we need to do. We need to keep his work alive, we need to keep Radio Fresh on the air and power the work of the hundreds of journalists and activists he trained.

As a prominent civil society leader and media activist, Raed knew his life was in imminent danger, especially in his last weeks. His work was always very dangerous and he knew that both the Syrian regime and Al-Qaeda’s thugs wanted him dead. However he was determined to stay in his hometown of Kafranbel and continue his work. Fearing he might be assassinated, he gave instructions to his loyal students about how to continue what he had built. Radio Fresh would continue. The United Revolutionary Bureaus he set up would continue.

I’ve had many conversations over the last couple of days with Raed’s kids and his team. No one is giving up. Everyone wants to continue what Raed started — he made it clear that that’s what he would’ve wanted.  

Raed launched a campaign to fund Radio Fresh three months before his death when international aid was cut to the project. His family and colleagues have called on us to do everything we can to continue the campaign, fund his work and keep Raed’s dream of independent radio alive.

Please donate now to keep Radio Fresh on the air, and share the link with all your friends.

Radio Fresh is an independent radio station in northwest Syria that resists both Assad and extremist groups. Raed considered Radio Fresh an essential service to the community – its brave reporters discussed local issues, investigated cases of injustice, and held authorities to account. They even warned the community of incoming airstrikes.

When he survived his first assassination attempt by an armed group in Idlib in January 2016, Raed posted this to Facebook:

“Freedom is an idea, and an idea cannot die

Fresh is an idea, and an idea cannot die

Ideas cannot die, people die, and we will stay here so the pain goes away

Oh my homeland, of sacrifices

I cannot thank enough those who stood in solidarity, and letters cannot do justice to my emotions, all I can say is: You are the Revolution, and the Revolution saved its children”

Let’s put our support now behind the hundreds of journalists and activists trained by Raed and let’s help continue their critical work. The extremists will not defeat his indomitable will.

Donate now to keep Radio Fresh on the air.

Raed’s death is huge loss to humanity, to everyone everywhere who believes in freedom, democracy and equal rights for all. The only way to honour him is to continue his incredible work.

Thank you.

Yours,

Kenan Rahmani

 

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Notes on Trump 39 – Democrats on about obstruction of justice and Russia again

I was wondering whether Trump getting Session’s resignation refuted my previous claim that Trump was deliberately playing up conflict with his Attorney General so liberal media would rally behind the Attorney-General that ends up prosecuting somebody. It was certainly strong evidence that I was wrong as the Democrats didn’t seem to make much of a fuss after having claimed any move to replace Sessions would be obstruction of the Mueller inquiry and a constitutional crisis.

Despite Trump’s best efforts the Democrats did not carry on much about Russia during the mid-terms and seemed resigned to the fact that the Mueller inquiry doesn’t look like delivering them from Trump.

But now it looks like they are falling for it AGAIN:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-22/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-mathew-whitaker/10517430

Scheduling acting appointments during vacations to avoid obstruction in the Senate is a long established practice. Obama needed it a lot because of a hostile Senate. If there was to be any replacement of the Attorney-General it was certain to be during the vacation after the midterms as even some GOP Senators had indicated they would hold up confirmation of any replacement. But I didn’t think there would actually be a replacement.

Now it turns out that Democrats have found a way to help Trump’s effortless maneuvers to get them to keep digging that hole.

There are over a 160 instances where a vacation appointment has promoted a replacement who has never been confirmed by the Senate for any office at all. So three Senators are asking the Supreme Court (which no longer has a liberal majority) to declare the latest such appointment unconstitutional.

If they succeed, they will have driven home the message that Jeff Sessions should be treated as trustworthy. That could be embarassing if he gets reappointed to fill the vacancy.

But there is little danger of them succeeding. The point is simply to make a fuss and carry on about the vital need to protect the Mueller inquiry thus further embarassing themselves when it winds up without saving them from Trump. Looks like they are committed to keeping the Trump obstructing justice “Russia thing” in the news just as Trump keeps begging them to. What I didn’t guess was that the way to ensure they kept digging that hole would be to follow up months of threatening to sack Jeff Sessions with actually doing it after merely repeating the threat had worn thin.

Notes on Trump 38 – midterm results

Final results not yet in but looks pretty much as expected.

Wikipedia on Republican factions is hopelessly out of date but it seems clear Trump now has a large party in Congress, including many GOP incumbents who will do as they are told because they will lose primaries if they don’t. That is all he needs to get bipartisan legislation through that will help Trump win in 2020.

Democrat side far more seriously divided into factions that will not be able to unite on tactics or strategy.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/progressive-caucus-new-dems-blue-dogs-prepare-growth

Here are two reasonably perceptive articles from party apparatchiks, Matthew Yglesias warning against helping Trump on infrastructure and Ezra Klein warning against opposing Trump blindly on popular issues. First Matthew:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/9/18075086/house-democrats-trump-infrastructure-deal-trap

Matthew makes the brilliant tactical suggestion that Democrats derail infrastructure programs by insisting on a “visionary” program of “clean energy generation” and “carbon-cutting transportation”. I said it was reasonably perceptive and tactically brilliant as it conceivably might appeal to enough Democrat senators not facing re-election to block the 60% majority needed for an infrastructure program that would help Trump get elected. I am not aware of any other proposed maneuver that could prevent something bipartisan from emerging. But it won’t be very helpful for 2020 as most Americans are not likely to be impressed by posturing about “clean energy” and “carbon cutting”.

Now here’s Ezra, also from “American Prospect” and so in roughly the same liberal/progressive faction:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/12/18065602/trump-pelosi-house-democrats-investigations-impeachment

His report of various competing views also shows some real insight and a more realistic expectation that Democrats are not going to be capableof any sort of disciplined approach and will in fact go for endless investigations of Trump (which is one thing all factions and their entire base coud agree on, against the sound advice of their apparatchiks).

But despite this insight his solution is directly opposite to Matthew’s. He wants Democrats to come up with realistic “progressive” policies and actually believes that Trump will be stuck because he is intimidated by traditional GOP opposition to those policies. Perhaps more of a journalist than an apparatchik. Didn’t notice that Trump defeated the GOP before he defeated the Democrats.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/12/18065602/trump-pelosi-house-democrats-investigations-impeachment

As well as the identity politicians and the impeachers, there was the expected increase in “moderates” from “purple seats” who won primaries because they were more likely to defeat incumbent GOP candidates, especially in better off suburbs. This has a double effect in tightening Trump’s grip on GOP by removing old guard incumbents while also weakening Democrats ability to resist deals that help Trump get elected again in 2020.

With the old GOP crushed there will be clear majorities for improved healthcare and infrastructure spending.

There was also the expected increase in “progressives” who will have a double effect in being noisy enough to help consolidate Republican voters while also helping push through the massive deficits Trump needs, even if other Democrat factions try to “resist”.

As shown by the midterm campaign, Democrats are not going to fight Trump on isolationism or protectionism and they won’t be effective opponents on immigration either.

Wikipedia on Democrat factions not updated yet but worth checking after final results in:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factions_in_the_Democratic_Party_(United_States)

Perhaps its still too early to tell whether they can agree on a plausible strategy after getting hit by reality, but I see no sign of such agreement even within a single faction let alone among several with far less in common than those two.

Notes on Trump 37 – midterms almost over

For what it is worth I still assume most pundits are right in guessing slightly increased and more Trumpist majority in Senate and small Democrat majority in House.

But “small” is really too close to call either way for House.

Daily voter approval polls currently fluctuating around 50% for and against Trump:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history

I would have expected both sides to try harder to avoid having majority in House.

Cannot tell whether Democrat pathetic campaign is intentional or they just cannot help themselves.

GOP focus is on Senate but they could still end up with another 2 years of majority in both houses plus Supreme Court and President. That would make it harder in 2020 to blame Democrats for Trump not having achieved much.

Trump doesn’t seem able to focus hard on losing while Democrats can do that by instinct. Though he has managed to not say as much about economy as he would if he actually WANTED more GOP and less Democrats in House because he does need the opposite for ease of pre-2020 deficits infrastructure spending and healthcare plus still being able to rant about building wall and he DOES know it. Just cannot put his heart and soul into losing.

Meanwhile John Stewart has some sound advice for liberal journos, but they don’t seem capable of getting it, let alone acting onn it:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/31/media/jon-stewart-christiane-amanpour-interview/index.html

What’s DNA got to do with it? Senator Warren, tribalism and opposing the politics of ‘volk’…

US Democrat Senator, Elizabeth Warren, seems to think she has scored some kind of point against Trump by proving in a DNA test that she might have 1/64th or 1,024th Native American ancestry going back six to ten generations.  All she has achieved is making the Democrats look even sillier than they have thus far in taking every morsel of Trump bait in the absence of alternative practicable policies.

Something else she achieved was condemnation from the Cherokee Nation whose spokesman rightly saw the claim as patronizing.

But, really, for heaven’s sake, what does it matter? Has our political culture moved so far to the Right that it is now acceptable to believe that DNA is connected to culture? That one’s ‘race’ or ethnicity influences, in some organic way, one’s outlook? That there is a ‘white outlook’ and a ‘black outlook’? Etc. Etc.

I expect this when it comes from the racialist overt Right – like the Hansonites in Australia and ‘Proud Boys’ in the US – but it is just crazy when it comes from people who identify as being on the left. A core left-wing belief for at least 170 years has always been that humanity rises above the volk, and it is our common humanity that matters.

The left that I joined back in the Sixties argued that we were all one, ‘coloured’ and ‘white’ together, with a common class enemy, and that all outlooks are stamped with the brand of a class as the overriding factor, not by the brand of skin tone.

* * * *

Some comments on the above from comrades:

‘I was glad to see the Indian response was to tell Warren to go forth and multiply.
‘The disturbing and deeply reactionary undercurrent to all this is the defacto valorizing of and return to tribalism. My guess with the Cherokee position is that tribalism is a place we have come from – the Toronto piece was pretty explicit with this, speaking of Indigenous peoples as opposed to this or that tribe – not a place we wish to simply return to. Part of the synthesizing journey is to take pride in where you have come from, in other words. The current fetish with identity stuff promotes a stepping back. In the very old and tribal days other tribes people were regarded with mistrust and as not really human, meaning ‘not like us’ and were devalued accordingly. There are parts of Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday, describing his lengthy contact with remotely located hill tribes in New Guinea where he describes precisely this. And I seem to have heard of a time in the 30’s and 40’s of last century when identity politics became a big ‘thing for some Ayran mob…
‘Warren is an opportunist joke. What she is appealing to is as reactionary as all blazes’.
****
‘I agree but think the point is that the Democrats like the ALP are not left. Not sure if we can rescue the “left” or socialism and I prefer to focus on the ideas and drop the labels. The democrats are right wing but it doesn’t matter just that their policies, ideas are wrong and so are the Republicans. They represent the same people and want to focus on the real difference between them, their personalities. Think most people want change and unfortunately there seems no alternative.
‘Am not sure if they are taking the Trump bait or whether Trump is aware they have no option. They cant debate policy as most of their members have the same policies’.
****

‘The Wall Street Journal had an article pointing out that millions of American whites have a speck of African or Indian. So we are all oppressed minorities now.

‘I haven’t really been following “identity politics” closely, so I can’t say too much. It seems hard to counter without being given a nasty label.  And the right is having a field day. Great for class unity, not’.

****

 

 

 

 

Notes on Trump 36 – media gives up?

On Thursday, like many other days, President Donald Trump boarded the presidential plane Air Force One. But eagle-eyed onlookers noticed something unusual was tagging along for the ride: a bit of paper stuck to the president’s left shoe.

The gaffe occurred during the president’s trip to Minnesota where he held a rally in Rochester on Thursday calling upon his supporters to reject what he called Democratic attempts to “destroy” his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In the video, which has been widely shared on social media, Trump exits his vehicle and makes it all the way to the top of the steps, paper in tow. After he turns to wave and enters the plane, the piece of paper is dislodged.

Trump is soon followed by four men in suits, the last of whom actually bends down to pick up the paper.

The faux pas has sparked speculation about what exactly was stuck to Trump’s shoe. Many Twitter users wondered why none of his staff alerted him to the issue.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/10/05/trump-air-force-one-paper-stuck-shoe/1534322002/

Perhaps this is a reporter’s rebellion against being assigned to report twittering?

Or perhaps they have figured out that they will actually be even worse off if Democrats win the House in mid-terms than the mere catastrophe of Trump pressing home victory. It the sort of “gaffe” and “faux pas” and “speculation” that one might write about if ordered to actively campaign for liberals to stay home in despair.

That does seem to be the message from CNN:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/06/politics/donald-trump-presidency-supreme-court-economy/index.html

But it its hard to believe anybody could coordinate a campaign to cover this “news” about a piece of paper stuck to a shoe that would include:

WAPO:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/05/trump-toilet-paper-video-president-boards-air-force-one-with-what-appears-be-toilet-paper-stuck-shoe/?utm_term=.55e9e12392bc

Trump boards Air Force One with toilet paper in tow. (Or was it a napkin?)

October 5 at 9:32 AM

“Excuse me, Mr. President, I believe you have some toilet paper stuck to your shoe” — said no one.

Alas, President Trump made an embarrassing climb into Air Force One on Thursday with what appeared to be some sort of paper product attached to the bottom of his shoe.

Video showed him step out of a limousine in front of the aircraft at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and start up the staircase with a couple squares of toilet paper or, perhaps, a napkin, billowing in the wind with each step. What about the dozen or so people surrounding him? (Bueller? . . . Bueller?)

As he reached the top, the president — seemingly oblivious — turned around and waved goodbye.

Historically, toilet paper and shoes have gone together much like humiliating faux pas and deep, tear-inducing belly laughter.

Those who had the privilege to see it happen — either live or later on while watching videos on social media — couldn’t help but share it.

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro posted a clip on social media. “Starting the day with a little comic relief,” she wroteFriday on Twitter.

… [yes there’s more]

Here’s the worldwide “related coverage”.

I haven’t read any more of the first one hundred stories but its well worth scanning the headlines to get a sense of the collapse.

My guess is they really have just given up.

Meanwhile it seems the West has also given up on dealing with the rather serious issue of the Russian state use of novichok.

I wrote here earlier:

If, as is plausible, somebody with access to illegal Russian stockpiles did this without authority one would expect the Russian government to try to evade responsibility while being extremely cooperative and anxious to help establish the facts so as to ensure any culprits were found and stopped from seriously damaging Russian as well as other interests.

Instead Russia is churning out the usual stuff from Sputnik and threatening retaliation.

If that is the result of ineptitude on the part of both the British and Russian governments that is not terribly unusual.

But there is the other alternative that the Russians were deliberately testing Western responses. So far those responses are completely inadequate if based on a firm conclusion that the Russian government is either complicit in testing Western responses or unable to control its security personnel who decide to do so without authority.

I also wrote here:

The latest reports suggest that Western governments are comfortable with merely mocking the bumbling incompetence of GRU clowns:

https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/10/04/the-west-indicts-the-gru

I feel rather less comfortable about the Russian State not being able to manage its own agencies that are equipped with nerve agents.

If they weren’t clowns they would know how to remotely monitor WiFi networks instead of sitting in a car with the equipment

While enjoying the collapse of mainstream politics I would have thought there would be some insistence that the clowns with nerve gas be dealt with rather than ridiculed. Is nobody functioniing?