Thursday Thoughts

He wrote me beautiful letters — then we fell in love!

W.J. Astore

Here are a few random thoughts I’ve had over the last few days.

1. I’m still reeling from Donald Trump confessing how he and Kim Jong-un “fell in love.” Imagine if Barack Obama had gushed about falling in love with a communist dictator? Fox News and the Republicans would have crucified him.

2. Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice. But imagine if he’d been black. Would he have survived sexual assault allegations from three white women?  Or imagine if he’d been a woman and boasted of liking beer, lots of beer, while losing self-control before the Senate judiciary committee.  A female Kavanaugh would have been dismissed as hysterical and unsuited for the pressures of the court, methinks.  In sum, a certain type of privilege still exists for certain types of white males.

3. Last night, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of colluding with the Russians. Trump’s tactics on this issue have run the gamut from denying he colluded, to saying it’s not illegal to collude, to charging his opponent with the (apparent) crime of colluding.  This is not to say I believe Trump colluded with the Russians (though his constant denials make me think he’s got a lot to hide).  While we wait for the Mueller investigation to conclude, it’s worth recalling that candidate Trump asked the Russians to hack Hillary’s server to find her missing emails. Perhaps this was merely a snide remark by an unhinged candidate, but why were Trump campaign staffers meeting with Russians? To help speed adoption of Russian kids by Americans?

But here’s a key point: Trump didn’t win because of Russian “collusion.” He won because Hillary ran a poor campaign. The collusion story (assuming there’s something to it) is a minor issue compared to the real damage Trump does every day as president, e.g. dismissing the perils of climate change as a “Chinese hoax.”

4. At, Juan Cole has a fine piece on Islamophobia and how it’s promoted by the Trump administration. It has at least three components.  The first is resentment stemming from 9/11, which embarrassed the Republicans since it happened on their watch.  The second is religion, that old crusading spirit of evangelicals and conservative Catholics.  The third is entitlement/resentment.  You know the saying: Who put America’s oil under the desert sands of the Middle East?  America’s leaders, and so many of their countrymen, believe all that oil should be theirs.

5. There’s an argument that Trump is no worse than other politicians like Obama or the Clintons. Indeed, that in some way his mendacity is refreshing: that he’s torn the mask off American exceptionalism, revealing all the hypocrisy, all the duplicity, all the crimes against humanity, that other politicians work to keep hidden.

It’s tempting to say “they all do it.” But Trump’s dishonesty is constant. He lies just to stay in shape. And his lies are calculated to sow discord — to divide. Divide and rule is his strategy. Reaping profit for himself is his goal.  He’s always been a con man, but now the entire country, indeed the entire world, is his mark.

Because he’s anti-democratic, because he’s a divider, because he loves dictators while mocking people weaker than him, for these and many other reasons, Trump is worse.  Trump is making cruelty normal, even admirable (at least to his followers).  He’s not so much ripping a mask off America as he is reveling in his own nastiness while encouraging likeminded people in America and around the world to join him.

Trump: Making the world nastier again.

7 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts

  1. Agree on all points. About a year ago, I sat down and read Hoffmann’s History of the German Resistance:
    And was struck by the structural similarities between 1930s Germany and present-day America. Conman sells a story to just enough people that even though they can only muster a bare plurality of the vote in a free election, they end up in a position of power. Their movement embraces a weird form of victim narrative that ultimately boils down to: WE deserve better, and THEY are what is keeping us from our just due. A disorganized opposition fails to realize the threat until it is too late, and the wicked organism gets in a position to formally change the rules of national politics. Tragedy ensues.

    I have this nasty feeling that we’re re-living the first half of the 20th century, in much the same way it was a replay of the early 19th. There may be something inherent in the nature of the Westphalian state system that produces episodes where a major power goes rogue, and takes the world system down with it.

    To make things even more ‘interesting’, the global economy is due for another recession, and things are looking an awful lot like 2007 all over again – but nobody aside from the Fed is paying attention, because in the USA so long as stocks stay buoyant, Wall Street traders could care less about economic fundamentals. Here’s a piece detailing some of the mechanisms at work:

    And the climate, of course, is the long-term risk nobody in power is willing to mitigate, because no one wants to bear the up-front costs, no matter how beneficial a restructuring of the global economy to promote local production, fair trade, technology transfers to developing nations – all that good stuff – would be in the long term.

    Here’s a good one looking at the impact of a completely unprecedented event near where I grew up – a place where a strong majority of voters (and this in California) love Trump, hate immigrants, and don’t believe in climate change.

    And for those in the Southeast, there’s the endless procession of record-breaking hurricanes, which sooner or later will cause insurance companies to raise rates so high that people won’t be able to live along the coast, and will have to move somewhere (probably altering politics in the South in the process).

    America’s political elites remain paralyzed, and I think are playing ‘wait and pray’ much like Europe’s elites did during the Euro Crisis (which hasn’t fully ended) and the UK elites are doing with the Brexit fiasco. Unfortunately for the USA, Trump isn’t Brexit, though both have similar backers. You can’t just pull the world’s leading military and economic power out of the system it created and sustained for eighty years without serious consequences. Brexit will probably go down in a general election or referendum.

    Trump? Listen to the rhetoric. He, like any conman, tests and probes his audience. He sees what he can get away with. Hence, “I could shoot someone in Times Square”, “millions of illegals voted”, so on. He’s telling people exactly what he wants to do, and because he suffers no meaningful consequences he’ll keep on doing it.
    (check his approval numbers on 538:

    And yet, the Democrats can’t even agree on whether to run against Trump. Just got my Oregon voter pamphlet in the mail, and does Kurt Schrader (D) even mention opposition to Trump? Nope.

    A political crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and no one in power wants to accept the reality, outside of op-eds and stump speeches. Just wait and pray and kick that can down the road, leaving the initiative to the people with the capability and, I suspect, the will, to destroy the Republic.


  2. In the not-at-all-random-thought department, after all the Sturm und Drang surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation circus, we have the typical cave-in from the usual-suspect “opposition”:

    Democrats Agree To Confirm More Of Trump’s Judicial Nominees — Again. They believe campaigning for November’s midterm election is more important right now., by By Igor Bobic, Huffington Post (10/11/2018)

    “WASHINGTON ― Democrats on Thursday agreed to expedite votes on 15 of President Donald Trump’s nominees to lifetime federal court seats so they could allow vulnerable members to campaign less than a month before the November midterm elections.”

    “Normally, Senate rules require up to 30 hours of waiting time for each nominee ― something Democrats typically take advantage of to delay action on confirming Trump judges. But with a handful of endangered Democrats up for re-election this year, they agreed to vote immediately on three Circuit Court judges and 12 District Court judges, who were all successfully confirmed on Thursday, and head home on recess.”

    Buy some Republicans, they’ll shout “Gawd Bless!”
    Rent a few Democrats, they’ll lose for less.

    And working-class people should vote for the Democratic party congressional candidates because they’re “not” the Republican party junior varsity?


      1. It is funny you should bring up the name of Joe Biden for 2020. I had dyed in the wool Democrat the other day give me a lecture on why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are “too” Progressive for America. Her choice – drum roll please – Joe Biden.

        No matter how far Right the Reactionary-Right Wing-Evangelical Republican Party goes the Democrats continue to turn right with them. The Center is shifted to the Right.


  3. From the above: “Trump is making cruelty normal, even admirable (at least to his followers). He’s not so much ripping a mask off America as he is reveling in his own nastiness while encouraging likeminded people in America and around the world to join him.”

    This is a true statement. Now those who responded to the dog whistles, have their hero in President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence, loud bells and sirens of a brutish call to arms feed the beast.

    The 1% may have been uncomfortable with President Agent Orange at first for tearing the make up off of them and revealing their vile intent of dominating we Proles by any means necessary. Funny thing though a significant section of the Proles ate it up. A totally Corporate Hillary, who came across as the embodiment of entitlement – It’s Her Turn – was dredged up. Clinton will go down as a joke for losing to a reality TV Show Barker.


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