Friday, April 13, 2018

Bye for a couple of weeks

I feel a little guilty for leaving the United States now when I might be needed to join the Resistance should Trump attempt to dissolve the Justice Department, but my travel plans were made months. However, I'm visiting Israel which may be involved in a war with Syria, Russia, and Iran by the time I get there. So, karma.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Will the Last Trumpite Please Remember to Turn Off the Lights

Paul Ryan is skedaddling just a month and a half before the filing deadline for candidates in Wisconsin. Republicans now will be scrambling for a replacement who will have little time to get together a campaign staff and fundraising apparatus. So far all the have is a white supremacist Paul Nehlan and Nick Polce who has to date raised $325 for his campaign.

The Democrat in the race, Randy Bryce, has raised nearly $5 million for the campaign.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Trump News of the Day

FBI Raids Cohen
I've known a lot of lawyers, more than average for someone who is not a career criminal. Michael Cohen, Trump's jackleg shyster, always struck me to be on the lower rung of legal intelligence. Sure, he's good at threats and would have made a fine enforcer for Dutch Schultz back in the day, but as a lawyer he sucks.

When Trump threw Cohen under the bus last week by claiming he had no knowledge of the Stormy Daniels NDA, Trump gave clear probable cause of Cohen having committed fraud. That just adds to Cohen's double dealing with Russia. Based on what I've seen of Cohen's lawyer, David Schwarz, Cohen is in deep shit. Schwarz is even dumber than Cohen.

Suck It Farmers
Trump has told American farmers that they will have to be good patriots and suffer (with bankruptcy) for Trump's ego trade war with China. Of course there are always winners and losers. And while American farmers will be the big losers, the big winner will be Trump's BFF Vlad Putin. Russia's vast agricultural production will be happy to take over trade to the Chinese.

Syria Quandary
Trump wants a big, splashy attack on Syria, especially now with the Cohen news, but where? All of Assad's government military bases have Russian troops or advisors attached. Attacking them means killing Russians. That would miff Putin and Trump is afraid of Putin. ISIS troops are dispersed and there is no convenient concentration of forces to bomb. He could bomb a few isolated camps but that isn't nearly showy enough.

He could order an attack on defenseless civilian neighborhoods or firebomb a wide swath of the Syrian desert, kill a few score Bedouins, and claim a huge victory.
Faces of the enemy.

Friday, April 06, 2018

China Trade War - History Matters

It bears repeating. China will not meekly surrender in a trade war.
China has a history in trade wars unlike anything the United States has ever experienced. If Trump could read he would do well to study the history. The humiliation of China during and after the Opium Wars is taught in Chinese schools from an early age. It is a lesson seared into Chinese consciousness - never again. The Chinese will not allow themselves to suffer indignities.

Trade deficits with China are a recent thing, only a couple decades old. China didn't really emerge on the global stage until it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
American businesses, like dress maker Ivanka and tie seller Donald, have gone to China seeking sweatshop labor that is illegal in the United States. The products are then marked up extravagantly for sale in the US. American businesses have made billions of dollars from this "unequal" trade. Ford sells more cars in China than in the United States, earning $1.5 billion from the Chinese market in 2016. General Motors has done even better. Trade with China has made American fatcats significantly fatter.

From the Chinese perspective they have been more than fair. They help American businesses be prosperous and use the trade surplus to invest in American bonds, keeping US interest rates low. They see it as a win-win. Trump wants to create a lose-win scenario where China is the big loser.

China has the second largest economy in the world and is leading the United States in emerging technologies like solar power. The Chinese may view this trade war as a dying gasp of a fading superpower that seems determined to return to the 19th century.
They will not be submissive in facing the US. The Chinese do not remember the 19th century kindly.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Trump Hits the Bottom of the Barrel

Trump's recent hiring decisions are not the cream of the crop.

The VA
When Harry Truman wanted to solve problems with the Veterans Administration he appointed four-star general Omar Bradley. Bradley had a deserved reputation as a soldier's general, someone who cared about the men under him, and a superb manager of large, complex organizations. His 12th Army Group held four armies and nearly one million men.

Trump is appointing the last guy to give him a prostate exam. Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson is probably a competent physician, although his overly effusive description of Trump's health makes that questionable. He has never commanded more than a handful of doctors as physician supervisor at Camp David and director of the White House medical unit. The VA has over 370,000 employees and 152 medical centers plus over 1400 out-patient facilities.

Trump Hires Matlock
Trump's new personal lawyer for the Russia probe has never been employed at a major law firm and never served as a defense attorney. He is an elderly, cracker-barrel attorney who is a part time assistant to the Georgia Attorney General. His CV is replete with unpublished articles about medieval history. I'm sure he is folksy and will be able to entertain Mueller's crack team of prosecutors with stories about sixth century popes but Andy Griffith would probably have been a better choice.

Federal Aviation Administration
He hasn't picked him yet, but high on Trump's list for director of the FAA is John Dunkin, his personal pilot. The post has been empty for over a year. The previous administrators have had both significant private sector management experience and governmental experience in the field.

Bush the Younger's choice, Marion Blakey, had run a consulting firm that specialized in transportation issues and had previously been chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Dunkin's major accomplishment is avoiding turbulence so as to not upsetting Trump's stomach.

National Economic Council
The new Director, Larry Kudlow isn't an economist, but he plays one on TV.

Gina Haspel's principle experience is running CIA torture camps in Thailand and destroying video evidence of CIA torture. At least she is experienced.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Rick Santorum: Asshole of the Week

There were a lot of candidates. Dom Giordano, a Philly radio magpie, accused the teen activists fighting gun violence of acting "as if they are bulletproof." Actually, it was their knowledge that they are not bulletproof that has powered their activism. But the winning loser is Mr. Frothy.

Santorum thinks students shouldn't be involved in useless political activities (politics is how Santorum has spent his entire career). They should do something useful like learning CPR (so they will know how to revive the victims of the next mass shooting). He wants them to abandon their powerful united efforts to change the country and focus on weak, individual hobbies.

Friday, March 23, 2018

FBI Director's Reading Habits

It is interesting to know that FBI Director Chris Wray appears to think century old pulp fiction is intelligence research. Last month, Wray told a Senate committee, "One of the things we’re trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole-of-government threat, but a whole-of-society threat on their end."

China a threat to the whole of American society? That's classic racist Yellow Peril stuff.
But he is supposed to be a reasonable voice in the administration. Sounds like just more 19th century bigotry.