Friday, July 13, 2018

Trump Is Perfectly Normal (*Updated)

Let me qualify that. Donald Trump is every bit as perfectly normal as the pathological soul-destroying capitalism which passes for democracy in our so-called free world.

That's why I find the overreaction (*see update below) to his gaslighting tour of Europe this week to be so amusing. Once again, our renegade president is single-handedly destroying all the advanced Norms of Civilization, which, legend has it, reached their finest hour in the McCarthyite post-World War II years of American Empire. The smell of neoliberal punditry in the morning, mourning Decline and Fall, is both bracing and nauseating.

The earthshaking news is that Trump insulted Theresa May in the pages of a British tabloid (yuck) when she'd so movingly laid out the red carpet for him at Winston Churchill's palatial estate, and he so awkwardly grabbed her hand like an adolescent swain wearing his first tux to his first prom. Fetch the smelling salts, pronto, to alleviate the horror of what the New York Times called this "remarkable breach of protocol!" 

You'd think he'd pulled a Poppy Bush and puked all over her bright red dress or something, when all he was doing was making the world safe for capitalism, but minus the normal feel-good concern-trolling mask of smarmy neoliberal spectacle.

But n-o-o-o-h. He had to insult America's NATO client states right to their faces, demanding that they pay their fair share for continued inclusion in the Military-Industrial Complex welfare state for the very, very rich and the very, very powerful. It's extortion, I tells ya! And the defense contractors of America are laughing all the way to the bank while their media lackeys on CNN and MSNBC are phonily tut-tutting Trump's etiquette breaches in exchange for their seven-figure salaries.

What's being billed as the ultimate coup de grace to the so-called World Order is yet to come, when Trump meets Putin in Finland. What will he "give away" to this vile dictator, who so rudely annexed Crimea and who is so abnormally meddling in Iran and Syria and Eastern Ukraine? If you listen to the servants of the Military-Industrial Complex tell it, tiny Estonia with its thousands of heavily armed US troops protecting it is becoming newly vulnerable to the ghost of Stalin himself, thanks to our Kremlin Stooge-in-Chief. 

 And most distasteful of all, the over-hyped "bromance" of Trump and Putin is having the awful side-effect of eliciting latent anti-gayness in all those lovable liberals for whom celebration of diversity substitutes for actual progressive policies. (see the homophobic... er, I mean iconoclastic, New York Times animated cartoon treatment of the imagined TrumPutin sodomy if you don't believe me.)

"Trump must not capitulate to Putin!" shrills former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice in the latest of her long series of fear-mongering moralistic op-eds selling the concept of Russophobia to explain away all of her own boss's decisions favoring Wall Street over Main Street.
( )... precisely because President Trump is anything but typical — including in that his campaign is under investigation for possibly coordinating with Russia to win the presidency and that he consistently lauds Vladimir V. Putin while denigrating our closest allies — his coming summit with Mr. Putin in Helsinki is a dangerous and counterproductive undertaking. The risks are many and the benefits, if any, are difficult to discern.

It's Donald Rumsfeld's damned known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns all over again. But in keeping with the prescribed Bromance narrative, Rice at least tries to keep it subliminally sexy, if not quite Kama Sutra-ish: 
In normal circumstances, the American president would press Russia on multiple fronts. He would refresh demands that Russia: withdraw from Ukraine and renounce its illegal claim to Crimea; cease backing the murderous Assad regime in Syria and work for a diplomatic outcome that protects the rights and security of all Syrians; stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan; halt provocative military actions on NATO’s periphery and harassment of United States personnel in Moscow; extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on nuclear weapons and come clean on its violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty; press the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, to denuclearize completely; cease destructive cyberoperations; and halt interference in America’s electoral processes and domestic politics, or face harsh additional sanctions. There is a rich and full agenda to pursue, if only we had a president who cared to advance American interests.
As a loyal member of the Duopoly, Rice doesn't even have to outline what "American interests" are, because she is not writing for a general audience. Through the ever-reliable Times, she is addressing her own class, aka the Establishment-in-Exile, aka the Flailing Brotherhood/Sisterhood of the Travailing Pants (as in very heavy breathing, not couture) Still, I do have to admit that her arcane prescription for "split-yielding" at the Bromance summit does have some teasing erotic potential.

Meanwhile, where would aphrodisiacal Resistance punditry be without Paul Krugman?

According to his latest column, the United States leadership spectacle was absolutely chock-full of considerate lovers and moral heroes before Trump came along to destroy the myth of great American male-centered greatness. Ignoring Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and all the CIA coups in between, Krugman defends the Pax America myth with all the passionate punditry he can muster:  
The institutions Trump is trying to destroy were all created under U.S. leadership in the aftermath of World War II. Those were years of epic statesmanship — the years of the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, in which America showed its true greatness. For having won the war, we chose not to behave like a conqueror, but instead to build the foundations of lasting peace....

 And what Trump is trying to do is undermine that system, making bullying great again.
My published response:
  Trump is the personification of capitalism run amok.

He fires at whim. He's immune to public shaming.. His pursuit of wealth and power is relentless. He cares for nobody but his immediate gene pool, just as the capitalistic system itself has no regard for anyone other than owners and the investor class.

He's a very stable crook and a master gaslighter. Taunting his prey one minute and fawning over them the next is how he keeps them off-balance before either lunging for the kill or leaving it for later.

This is exactly how bosses, from CEOs all the way down to middle managers, instill fear into workers every day of their precarious lives.

Thanks to both our major parties moving further right in the past 50 years, there are now few legal restraints against either public and private tyrannical behavior or graft. 
 It's no surprise that Trump confuses "the country" with "my company." It's no surprise that the longstanding, pre-existing world order of profits over people has produced such a glut of reactionary global leaders like him.

It's no use griping that Trump is destroying "norms," or pretending that everything was cool before he came along. More than a dozen wars, with millions killed and trillions of dollars wasted since World War II, coupled with the constant assaults on our social programs, have created a virtual Petri dish for all kinds of Trumps to grow and thrive like Blobs.

We need some social democracy, and we need it right now.

A new New Deal or bust.


*Update 7/14: I wrote the above before Friday's indictment of the dozen Russian hackers, announced just as Trump was breaching all kinds of protocol with the queen, not least of which was failing to bow and walking ahead of her while reviewing the guards with the beaver hats.

It's not surprising that #Resistance, Inc. is treating the indictment as a conviction instead of the standard accusation requiring presentation of evidence in a court of law. That is because the accused will never show up for a trial. That is because the Justice Department and Robert Mueller do not expect there ever to actually be a trial, other than the kind performed in the media. Otherwise, they would have indicted Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who, unlike the Russians, is very vulnerable to extradition. 

This is so obviously a political wrench in the works of the Trump-Putin summit it doesn't even bear further analysis. The New York Times is even editorializing on its news homepage that Trump ordered Russia to "hack" the computers of Hillary and the Democrats, and that Russian intelligence became Trumpist lemmings in the space of a New York minute.

It seems to me that if there were true treason at work here, Trump would have been gone by now.

All Mueller would probably have to do to get Trump on felonies is produce his tax returns and bank records to prove any number of sordid financial (not treasonous)  ties to Russian oligarchs. I suspect the problem with that gambit is that it would expose too many other valuable Establishment figures and political donors to be worth the risk. John Podesta's lobbyist brother has already been tainted from the Manafort indictment, after all, so I'm sure there are more where he came from. Trump has gotten where he is today by importuning all kinds of politicians from both establishment parties, along with their bankers, factotums and relatives. 

I can't help wondering whether Hillary Clinton will use the indictments as vindication, proof that Donald Trump is a Russian stooge who stole the election and therefore a rationale for a third time's-the-charm rerun. My suspicions are raised not by her relentless fundraising emails on behalf of various progressive veal pens, but by the planted news stories last week of her and Bill flying coach on not one, but two, occasions. She is telegraphing her born-again down-home populism, folks! 

Happy Bastille Day.


voice-in-wilderness said...

Oh for the good old days when Tony Blair was Bush's poodle!

Anna Radicalova said...

Charles Blow is high on high treason by Trump. I have a different take, although it will probably never be published there so here it is here:

Coincidentally or NOT, it was Obama who meddled in Ukrainian elections and gave support to neo-Nazis with U.S. billions. Victoria 'F**k the EU' Nuland admitted it, and it was an open secret.

Did it ever occur to Americans that Russian meddling in our elections is PAYBACK to Obama? Why did Obama do nothing to protect this country during this alleged attack when it was done entirely on his watch? Let's look back.

It was President Obama who was caught on a hot mic whispering a message to Putin via Medvedev that he 'could do more' after he was re-elected. If Trump or anyone else said that, it would be taken as a hint, suggestion, or request that he'd welcome their help in winning re-election because of an implied quid pro quo. That whispered message was never supposed to be heard and it might as well not have been given the lack of scrutiny it got.

It looks like Obama didn't live up to his side of the bargain after winning. Why is it that Trump's remark about the Russians maybe finding Hillary's deleted emails is evidence of treason but not Obama's not so subtle hint that Putin had an interest in seeing him win re-election. Did he double-cross Putin? In Ukraine, most definitely yes.

We'd better take a hard look at how the world really works. Obama knows.

Karen Garcia said...

True, Anna.

Not only is Trump a traitor, according to Blowhard, he is a "treasonous traitor"... of course, that was not deemed oxymoronic by whatever editors edit his drivel I think the title was likely inspired by one of those alliterative Perry Mason potboilers, like The Case of the Breaking-In Burglar or The Case of the Solipistic Sob Sister. I didn't bother leaving my own comment on Blow, it would only have been buried beneath an avalanche of Gasps of the Groveling Groupthinkers.

I no longer subscribe to cable TV but do retain Netflix for the time being, or at least until they raise their subscription rates again, which they will, especially in the wake of Obama's $50 million contract to produce bullshit happy-talk stories. I love Michelle Wolf's show, though. Last night she pulled the phony punditory outrage trick and called Trump something like Satan with horns sticking out of his head. This elicited the desired booing, hooting and applause from the hip studio audience, whereupon Wolf switched to a photo of a herd of sheep. And then the audience got very, very quiet. I wonder how long before her show gets cancelled.

Jay–Ottawa said...

As pointed out by Anna above, electoral interference by one nation against another is long standing and routine. So the question before us is not whether the Russians interfered at all in 2016, but whether their involvement (hacking) was decisive to the outcome (Nov 8, 2016).

Are you still unsure about Mueller's investigation of Russia's impact on the outcome, as well as the substance and the purpose of his latest indictments? Let me help you to get off the fence.

James Risen, when he was with the NY Times, earned some respect––and a Pulitzer––for revelations about the NSA. Since then he's moved on to the curiouser and curiouser "Intercept," but in a less skeptical role about Washington's operations. At "The Intercept" Risen has been endorsing the DNC's whataboutery and Mueller's ham-sandwich indictments claiming Russia helped Trump steal the White House from its rightful heiress.

What I would draw your attention to is not so much Risen's best shot at equating unproven charges with facts but reactions among the 700-plus comments that followed.

Seven hundred comments, many off topic or repetitions by the SOSO trolls, are too much to wade through. Here are the nicknames to SCROLL UP TO and read. Yes, dive down to the bottom of the comments and scroll north for these names: Pete, VivekJainMD, Scandinavian, bigbill, photosymbiosis, Mirza, Masie, Liam, and the ever-ironic Benito_Mussolini. If you only have time for two or three comments, read phtosymbiosis and Benito.

Erik Roth said...

Well, Jay-Ottawa, that's quite a scrolling challenge you pose, but in pursuing that I found another comment with this reference deserving our attention:

"No, Robert Mueller and James Comey aren’t heroes —
the former FBI directors have acceded to numerous wrongful abuses of power in the post-9/11 era."
~ by Coleen Rowley

Also worthwhile, are the two segments from today's broadcast:

Mass protests greeted President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as they met for a summit Monday in Helsinki. As the two leaders drove from the airport to their summit, they were met by 300 billboards in English and Russian that were posted by the country’s leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and drew attention to their strained relations with the media. Greenpeace activists unfolded two large banners from the bell tower of Kallio Church in Helsinki that called on the presidents to “Warm Our Hearts, Not Our Planet.” Meanwhile in Helsinki on Sunday, thousands took to the streets to demand human rights, equality and a focus on the climate. We speak with Heidi Hautala, a Finnish politician and member of the European Parliament from Finland, who addressed the protests on Sunday. She is also a member of the Green League, part of the European Green Party.

As President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, we host a debate on U.S.-Russia relations. In Washington, D.C., we speak with Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Greenwald calls the Trump-Putin meeting “excellent” and adds that President Obama also sought diplomacy with Russia. Cirincione calls the summit “a danger to America and to the West.”

Jay–Ottawa said...

Bravo to the Greens for making a fuss in Helsinki. Global warming belongs on the front page above the fold everyday. Its effect will be as profound as the Fifth Mass Extinction triggered by a meteor hit that wiped out dinosaurs expeditiously and 75% of just about everything else of size then living on the planet.

Our very own Sixth Extinction will unwind––has begun unwinding––at a more leisurely pace. Be thankful you're not young. Not long after you're gone, all the globe's coastal cities will be inundated, and the deserts of the interior will multiply and spread. Nation states will disintegrate. No more smart phones to distract you. No more taxes. No answer when you dial 911. Most of humanity will hit the road as nomads in search of food and fresh water and one more day of life on a dying planet. Elon Musk will play Noah on a rocket bound for Mars. Pity children and expectant mothers left behind in those days.

Enough of that. Hey, how about the French soccer team winning the Cup? All of Paris was in the streets.