Friday, August 18, 2017

Was Russian Intervention In US Election Good For Russia?

This article argues that covert intelligence operations suffer "blowback" if they are discovered.  US intelligence agencies have uncovered enough information to determine that Russian agents had been involved in covert activities during the 2016 election.  It also lists many of the responses in the US and in Europe that are part of the blowback.  However, it remains to be seen whether the covert operation was good or bad for Russia.  They helped to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House and they got the guy they wanted in the White House.  They may have wanted Trump to be in position to end sanctions that have been harmful to Russian economy.  That will not happen.  Trump has given them some things, however, that they may not have anticipated.  He has inspired hate groups in the US that had been dormant for many years.  We will be forced to deal with the resulting divisions in our society for years to come.  They have also disrupted the normal operation of the federal government.  Trump has lost the confidence of many Americans whose support he will need to make important decisions that might arise in the future.  He is no longer trustworthy.  It is also apparent that the relationship between Trump and members of Congress has been seriously impaired.  He is not trusted by many Republicans as well as almost all of the Democrats in Congress.  Congress has important duties to perform that normally require a respected president in the White House.  Trump is not longer an effective president who is able to work with Congress.  If Russia's primary goal was to disrupt the US government and the operation of our democratic system they can declare victory.

Trump May Stop Bragging About Being On The Cover Of Time Magazine

Donald Trump has boasted about the number of times that Time magazine had placed him on its cover.  Of course, he lied about the frequency of his appearances, but that is not news for most Americans.  The current cover of Time magazine will not make Trump happy.  Trump boasted about his appearances on the cover for a good reason.  It is an important symbol of one's importance in our nation, and the world.  It won't help Trump's image with most Americans to be depicted as a promoter of ideologies that many consider to be anti-American.  He has endeared himself to a radical cult in his base at great expense. 

An Interview With Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon endeared himself to Donald Trump by helping him to win the presidential election.  He focused the Trump campaign on economic populism.  That turned out to be very helpful in the Rust Belt states that had voted for Obama in the last two elections.  Trump won Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by a very narrow margin.  Hillary Clinton would have won those states if she had received 50,000 more votes out of the 13 million total votes caste in those states.  Many of the voters in those states were influenced by Trump's populist simple populist message.  He promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the area by ending bad trade agreements with China and other nations.  His anti-immigration messages also promised to reduce competition from low wage immigrants in the labor market.

This interview delves more broadly into Steve Bannon's current position in the White House.  He and his supporters in the White House remain advocates for economic populism.  Bannon believes that Trump will also be reelected in 2020 with that message.  He argues that is much more effective than the identity politics message that been dominant in the Democratic Party.  I ignored most of the gossip about Bannon's current status in the White House.  The real issue is whether the economic populism messages that Trump is still using, by claiming credit for millions of jobs, will remain powerful in 2020.  The unemployment rate can't really go beyond its current rate and many of Trump's promises will be hard to defend.  Its also not clear what the Democratic Party will offer to voters beyond personal identity messages.  Of course, Trump may not be any position to run for office in 2020 if he continues to self destruct.  He may also resign from office if he determines that his Trump brand is being eroded by his performance in office,  or by investigations that may uncover damaging information about business financial relationships that could bring down his family businesses.

CEO Of 21st Century Fox Criticizes Trump On Charlotteville Statements

The CEO of the corporation that owns Fox News criticized Trump's positions on white supremacy and neo-Nazi's.  He donated $1 million to the Anti Defamation League and asked his friends to also make donations to ADL.  That may relieve him of some form of guilt, but it is small change for James Murdoch.  He could do much more for our nation by changing the mission of Fox News which defends almost everything Trump says or does.  He won't do that because it would not be a good business decision.   Fox News targeted the market segment that supports politicians like Trump when it was established by James Murdoch's father who knew what he was doing.  Fox News contributes millions in profits to the parent company managed by James Murdoch.  He father responded to critics of Fox News by referring to its success as a business.  He simply targeted a market segment that was largely ignored by the major news networks.  Fox News has been marketed as the alternative to the mainstream media which it denounces for having a "liberal bias".  Trump has taken Murdoch's marketing segmentation a step further.  The so called "liberal bias" has now become "fake news". 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Liberation Of Donald Trump

This article describes the turmoil within the Trump administration created by Trump's unplanned comments about the protests in Charlotteville during his news conference.  Trump had been advised to follow the script at the press conference and to confine his remarks to his infrastructure plan.  His daughter and his son-in-law are both Jewish, and so are several of his top aides.  Neo-Nazi's participated in the protest along with the white supremacists.  They chanted anti-Semitic insults along with their allies among the white supremacists.  Racism and ethnic purity was an essential component of Nazi ideology.  Trump claims that he is not anti-Semitic and one of his defenders supported him by saying that "in his heart he is not anti-Semitic.  That may be true.  However, Trump was extremely bothered by the criticism that he received after his first comments about the protests in Charlotteville. He does not handle criticism well.  The quote below may explain why he deviated from the script that he was supposed to follow:

In contrast, the president told close aides that he felt liberated by his news conference. Aides said he seemed to bask afterward in his remarks, and viewed them as the latest retort to the political establishment that he sees as trying to tame his impulses.
 Impulse control is not consistent with Trump's need to do battle with the "political establishment" that does not give him the respect which he demands. Despite his wealth he was never accepted into the real estate elite in Manhattan as well.  This aligns him with many of his supporters who cherish fantasies and conspiracy theories about those above them.

"That's What Friends Are For" Fox News Attempts To Resue Trump

All of the major TV networks provide "fake news" along with the major newspapers in the US.  There is only one cable news show that tells the truth.  One of Donald Trump's great achievements is that he has persuaded many of his supporters that Fox News tells the truth, and that the rest of media (with the exception of talk radio) tell lies about His Majesty.  In case you are interested in "truthful" news coverage you may want to read this article by a journalist who watched three hours of "Fox and Friends" as they attempted to clean up the mess he created by equated white nationalists and Nazi's with those who protested their march in Charlotteville.  Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Fox Network and other sources of "yellow journalism" in the UK and Australia,  has marketed Fox News as the alternative to the liberal mainstream media.  Donald Trump followed Murdoch's lead when he told his supporters that mainstream media are providers of "fake news".   Trump does not need a state network like those in autocratic states.  He uses Fox News and talk radio to spread his propaganda.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tom Friedman's Ariticle Should Be Required Reading For Trump

Donald Trump is our president and the commander in chief of our armed forces.  Tom Friedman is in the Mid-East and traveling with the US military command.  The military force that he describes is representative of America.  It is pluralistic.  Donald Trump has spent the last few days defending white supremacists who voted for him in the last election.  They look nothing like the soldiers under his command.  We have a pluralistic military and a pluralistic society.  Donald Trump seems to believe that he is the president of his political base.  He is not fit to be our president, or the commander in chief of our military.

Friedman also points out that many of the nations in the Mid-East are like the kind of America that he tends to promote.  They are not inclusive.  Muslims who belong to different segments of Islam are at war with each other.  We might be better off using the talent and financial resources expended in this futile effort on rebuilding our cities and providing more opportunities in our pluralistic society.