Now, let us see whether we have a Congress and an administration of patriots or quislings, combatants or collaborators.
Now, let us see whether we have a Congress and an administration of patriots or quislings, combatants or collaborators.
Posted at 03:16 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Music, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Television, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: date that will live in infamy, DNC, Donald Trump, FDR, Helsinki, Hillary Clinton, Jonathan Lemire, POTUS, quislings, Robert Mueller, Russian Federation, servers, Vladimir Putin
Posted at 03:04 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Music, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Television, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Broadway musicals, Congressional Republicans, Donald Trump, George and Ira Gershwin, George S. Kaufman, Helsinki, Mitch McConnell, Of Me I Sing, Robert Mueller, Vladimir Putin
Posted at 04:34 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Environmental Issues, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Television, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Angela Merkel, Charlevoix, China, Chrystia Freeland, Donald Trump, DPRK, Emmanuel Macron, G-7, Heiko Maas, Iran, James Fallows, Japan, JCPOA, John McCain, Justin Trudeau, Kim Jong-un, Larry Kudlow, North Korea, Paris Accord, Peter Navarro, PRC, Shinzo Abe, Singapore Summit, South Korea, Theresa May, TPP, Xi Jinping
Posted at 05:34 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Television, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Betsy DeVos, CDC, Constitution , Donald Trump, FBI, James Comey, Jeff Sessions, Joe Arpaio, Presst Bharara, Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Robert Mueller, Rudy Giuliani, Ryan Zinke, Sally Yates, Scott Pruitt, Spygate
A Reckoning with Women Awaits Trump
Donald Trump is the least mysterious figure in the history of the American Presidency. His infantile character, duplicity, cold-heartedness, and self-dealing greed are evident not merely to the majority of the poll-answering electorate but, sooner or later, to those who make the decision to work at his side. This is manifest even in Trump’s favored medium, reality television. Recently, fans of “Celebrity Big Brother” witnessed Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all, tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,” she said.
No kidding. Sooner or later, Trump’s satraps and lieutenants, present and former, come to betray a vivid sense of just how imperilled and imperilling this Presidency is. In their sotto-voce remarks to the White House press, these aides seem to compete in their synonyms for the President’s modesty of intelligence (“moron,” “idiot,” “fool”); his colossal narcissism; his lack of human empathy. They admit to reporters how little he studies the basics of domestic policy and national security; how partial he is to autocrats like himself; how indifferent he is to allies. They are shocked, they proclaim, absolutely shocked. In the past few days, it has been Trump’s misogyny, his heedless attitude toward women and issues of harassment and abuse, that has shocked them most. And those who know him best recognize the political consequences ahead.
Last month, the journalist Joshua Green watched the Golden Globes ceremony on television with Steve Bannon, a Trump ideologist and self-described nationalist “revolutionary.” Green’s book on Bannon, “Devil’s Bargain,” was among the best on the 2016 campaign, and now Green was in search of material for a preface to his forthcoming paperback edition. He got it. As the two men watched the awards show—the women dressed in black to commemorate the #MeToo movement and the downfall of the likes of Harvey Weinstein; Oprah Winfrey winning such sustained applause for her speech (“Their time is up!”) that she was soon fielding questions about a Presidential run—Bannon could not fail to see it in terms of Trump’s political future.
“It’s a Cromwell moment!” Bannon said. “It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that—this is the Puritans. It’s anti-patriarchy.”
Bannon, whose history is hardly one of feminism, was stunned by the fervor of what he was seeing, and, charmingly, he spoke of it not as justice but as a threat of wholesale emasculation. “If you rolled out a guillotine, they’d chop off every set of balls in the room,” he said.
And yet Bannon, who is partial to grand pronouncements, acknowledged the political stakes, not least for the President. “You watch. The time has come,” he said. “Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward . . . The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.”
Bannon, who has failed to return to Trump’s good graces since his ouster from the White House, last August, has relinquished the rhetoric of personal loyalty. Green told Jake Tapper on CNN that Bannon told him, “I’m sick of being a wet nurse for a seventy-one-year-old.”
Green’s publisher wisely released Bannon’s remarks because they meshed so well with Trump’s own behavior following the downfall last week of two of his White House aides. When Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, left his job after charges, and evidence, of abuse from his two ex-wives became public, the President showed not a trace of sympathy for anyone but Porter himself. This was striking. One former wife had obtained a protective order against Porter; the other presented the F.B.I. with a photograph of herself with a black eye, the result, she said, of a beating Porter delivered her while on vacation in Italy. And yet Trump went to great lengths, in a public statement, to sympathize with the “tough time” that Porter was enduring, to praise the “very good job” he had done, and to express confidence that he had a “wonderful career” ahead of him. As for Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennie Willoughby . . . nothing.
One could barely get a night’s sleep before another White House aide, the speechwriter David Sorensen, was forced to resign after it was revealed that, during a background check, his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, had told the F.B.I. that he had abused her by, among other acts, putting out a cigarette on her hand and running over her foot with a car.
Trump’s response on social media to these allegations was not entirely surprising. He tweeted his suspicion of the #MeToo movement, saying, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Trump responded with similar fellow-feeling when charges were levelled at Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, and Roy Moore, the right-wing former judge who had seemed headed to victory in an Alabama Senate race. (Trump, of course, is unforgiving when it comes to Democrats like Al Franken and John Conyers.)
Kellyanne Conway, whose defenses of Trump’s most preposterous statements are sometimes so tortured that they become the stuff of late-night satire, could not bear to back the President on this one. She told CNN that she saw “no reason not to believe” Porter’s former spouses. “In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury,” Conway said. “You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.” This was hardly a condemnation, but, in the context of this White House and these times, she showed, if fleetingly, common sense.
Trump’s cruel and clueless remarks are of a piece with the tactics he has used to tamp down all his other scandals, miscues, and embarrassments. Just as he tries to divert attention from his, and his circle’s, errors and wrongdoing in the Russia scandal by shouting “fake news,” by casting blame on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, and by deploying a congressional lackey like Devin Nunes, he diverts attention from his own encyclopedic record of miserable behavior toward women by casting doubt on the accusers. This is a neat trick, yet hardly original. It has come to the point when even Trump’s closest aides know that a reckoning is coming. It’s not going to be O.K.
Posted at 04:00 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Environmental Issues, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Religion, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Ash Wednesday, David Remnick, FBI, Fred Trump, John McCain, Mexicans, moral code, Muslims, Roy Cohn, The New Yorker, Trump, Valentine's Day
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”
Most readers are familiar with the poem, but perhaps not its genesis. Longfellow composed it nearly nine decades after Revere’s eponymous ride, hoping it might be a call to reason for a nation on the brink of secession and disunion. Here’s an explanation from the archives at Boston’s Old North Church:
Posted at 06:18 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: archetypal defenses, Carl Jung, Donald Trump, Dr. Bandy Lee, Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, Dr. Robert Lifton, Duty to Warn, Goldwater Rule, malignant narcissistic personality disorder, malignant normality, Paul Revere's Ride, psychopath, psychopathology, sociopath, Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California
Posted at 06:01 PM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Environmental Issues, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Religion, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Alabama, Donald Trump, impeachment, New York Times, Nick Kristof, Roy Moore, Senate special election, The Guardian, Vladimir Putin
Posted at 11:08 AM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Environmental Issues, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Religion, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Charlottesville, Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, domestic terrorism, Donald Trump, Heather Hoyer, hinge moment, James A. Field, malignant narcissistic personality disorder, Nativists, Neo-Nazis, Paranoid Style in American Politics, Steve Bannon, White Supremacists
Posted at 07:10 AM in American Politics, Books, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Religion, Television, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Anthony Scaramucci, chief of staff, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Louis XIV, New York Times, POTUS, press secretary, Washington Post
“President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner updated a federal disclosure form needed to obtain a security clearance three times and added more than 100 names of foreign contacts through the updates after initially providing none at all, reports CBS News' Major Garrett.
“Then the team submitted the second one after they updated it with all of the names except for one — the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnetskaya . . .
“After omitting her name in the second form, that meeting was then conveyed to the FBI in the third revamping of the form before July.”
And now, presumably, Kushner will need to update the form to include Rinat Ahkmenshin. All in good time, of course.
Add to Kushner’s propensity for Trumpian transparency, this story from the July 14th Washington Post:
“The Justice Department on Thursday released a single redacted page from Attorney General Jeff Session’s security clearance form from November that indicated he had not had any contact with a foreign government official in the past seven years.
“That contradicts his later admission that he had met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, twice last year. At the time, Sessions was a U.S. senator and an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The meetings occurred in July and September.
“Sessions’s omission may not be a violation of security clearance rules as long as the contacts occurred in his capacity as a lawmaker, U.S. officials say. But other experts say he should have erred on the side of transparency.
Before we leave this landscape of tattered transparency and the accumulation of shards showing collusion with Russian interests, although not yet conspiracy, we will note there is growing scrutiny on the question of how Russians were able to so successfully target American political precincts and voter cohorts with their disinformation campaign. It seems apparent that targeting could only have come from those with the most sophisticated data analytics. Newsweek and other sources are investigating whether that source might be a domestic resource and whether it may have connections to the Trump campaign.
This is another story that bears watching.
A closing thought.
There is no joy in undertaking the research required to follow the trajectory of the 45th presidency. And there is certainly no satisfaction from observing how the dots connect, how they proliferate, and how they lead to subterranean, surreptitious places most American never thought another presidency might travel.
But there is a civic duty to be honored here. Each of us can choose to exercise that in whatever way best suits our interests, resources, and strengths.
The majority of Americans did not wish for this 45th presidency, but we have it. Tens of millions did, or at least saw it as preferable to the alternative. This is an unhealthy bifurcation in an already uber-polarized polity, and the distressing truth is that as distasteful as POTUS 45’s antics are, as destructive as they are to the framework of our long-established alliances, and as hapless as POTUS’ shared leadership with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan are proving to be, there is the possibility that their failure might ultimately serve a larger national purpose — of forcing Americans to understand what happens when partyism and opponent derangement trump the real national interest.
So, as Pogo observed decades ago, we know who the enemy is: our task is to see what we can do about ourselves. And if we can begin to redirect our deeply divisive trajectory, perhaps some smart political leader will come along and get out ahead of the parade.
Posted at 05:43 PM in American Politics, Current Affairs, Foreign Policy and National Security, Political Commentary and Analysis, Public Diplomacy, Public Policy Issues, Think Tanks, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tags: Charles Krauthammer, collusion, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Natalia Veselnetskaya, Paul Manafort, POTUS, Reince Priebus, Rinat Akkhmetshin, Russian interference with elections, Trump Tower