Thursday, December 21, 2017

Response to After The Victory

(See: Just Above Sunset: After The Victory)

You’d think it might have occurred to Democrats in the last month or so that repealing the individual mandate was tantamount to a "repeal-without-replace" of Obamacare.

And you’d think that they then might have sounded the alarm — not just to other Democrats, but also to moderate Republicans who might then notice the danger zone their party was walking into, and even Maine Senator Susan Collins, who could have helped spread the alarm further, since the danger of Americans losing health coverage seemed to be what had motivated her no-vote on Trumpcare.

I suspect the Democrats decided not to talk this up in the lead-up to the tax vote for much the same reason that Trump didn’t. Maybe Trump didn’t want to remind the Democrats to get up in arms, while maybe the Democrats didn’t want to remind conservative Republicans, in case they hadn’t noticed, that their chance to repeal Obamacare was just another good reason to vote for the tax bill.

I hate to admit this, but Trump is right. The Democrats blew it.

Yes, next year, we can use the fact that the Republicans repealed-without-replacing as talking points against them, but I see no guarantee that will get us much traction. I think the Democrats lost their chance to do some good, and got snookered by the kind of small-time pompous shithead mob godfather who demands his capos heap praise upon him in public.

I really don’t like criticizing my own party for not getting out in front of an issue, but that’s exactly what they didn’t do this time. We do need to work on that. Oh, well, spilt milk.

But meanwhile, there are two things I want to mention about what to expect from this tax bill, and then I’ll shut up for the rest of the day.


You could see this whole thing as a bait-and-switch, with the “bait” happening with just enough time before the 2018 elections to possibly effect them, and the “switch" happening so long afterward that everyone will be on to something else by then. It will be left to be handled by future generations of Republicans, who will probably explain it all away by blaming it on Democrats.

And they’ll probably get away with it, too, since remembering the truth doesn’t count for much in a world ruled by bullies, so I don’t advise assuming Republicans have filled out their own death certificate with passage of this tax bill.


When you think about whatever good effects Republicans are trying to get us all to expect from this bill, you have...

(1) “The tax cuts will improve the economy", and
(2) “The improvement of the economy will be enough for the tax cuts to, essentially, 'pay for themselves'”.

On the first, yes, we should expect some improvement in the GDP, since experience and models seem to show there usually is, but maybe not as much as conservatives think, because of this from a few days ago:
CEOs may like the idea of a big tax cut for businesses, but that doesn't mean they'll use the savings to create American jobs.

Just 14% of CEOs surveyed by Yale University said their companies plan to make large, immediate capital investments in the United States if the tax overhaul passes. Capital investments, like building plants and upgrading equipment, can lead to hiring. 

Only a slim majority of the CEOs, 55%, said the Republican tax package should be signed into law. The Yale CEO Summit surveyed 110 prominent business leaders of Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 companies last week.

The findings, along with other surveys, suggest that the tax plan may not have the dramatic impact on jobs that President Trump and Republicans in Congress have promised.
In other words, there is already evidence of this. The so-called “smart money” is already pretty sure of what’s going to happen:
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who leads the Yale CEO Summit, said in an interview that it's "astounding" how few companies plan to reinvest their tax savings.

He called the idea of a jobs boom from the tax plan "a lot of smoke and mirrors," especially because the unemployment rate is just 4.1% and companies already have plenty of cash to make investments. 

Sonnenfeld declined to name the CEOs who participated in the poll. He said it included "Trump supporters" and former members of the president's now-defunct advisory councils of business leaders.
Yes, Wall Street wants this bill, but maybe it’s not so much for the reasons that Trump says they do:
Wall Street expects companies will use a big chunk of the tax savings to reward shareholders with fatter dividends and stock buybacks, which makes stocks more attractive. That's one reason stocks have surged all year, putting the Dow in sight of 25,000. 
"Markets just love it," Michael Block, chief market strategist at Rhino Trading Partners, wrote in a note on Tuesday. He said it's "malarkey" to think that cutting corporate taxes will boost spending and wages. 
"As we've seen in history, this doesn't raise wages," he wrote. "What it does lead to is richer shareholders.”  
In 2004, when Congress offered tax breaks for companies to bring foreign profits back home, businesses used much of their cash on share buybacks.  
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities later concluded that the 2004 tax holiday "did not produce the promised economic benefits" because companies mostly bought back stock instead of investing to grow their businesses.
But onto number (2):

As we all know, maybe including most Republicans, while tax cuts may or may not boost growth, they never pay for themselves.

Still, the question is, do Republicans really care about whether tax revenues increase? In fact, have conservatives ever really cared about how much money government gets to do what it’s supposed to do?

Not noticeably.

If they did, they wouldn’t be constantly (and almost recklessly) looking for ways to cut taxes, even if doing so means cutting popular deductions. In fact, as far as Republicans are concerned, the less money government has, the better, since government seems to be always spending most of its money on doing things that only the Democrats want done anyway, such as "buying" the votes of "special interests" (such as poor people) with "giveaways".

Democrats, conservatives might argue — and they do! — are not really interested in helping the poor and the minorities who’s votes they court, they’re only interested in the power that comes from doing it. (Of course, Democrats don’t come across as “power hungry”, or not nearly much as the Republicans do, but that just goes to show how duplicitous those greedy bastards are.)

But, you may be asking, if Republicans don’t really care about government having revenue, shouldn’t they be worried about how to pay off the $1.5 trillion dollars they’re adding to the debt?

Okay, but hold the phone! We must not make the common mistake of conflating “budget deficit” with “national debt”, since “deficit" only becomes “debt” when and if you spend it!

In other words, expect some time in the future for Republicans to notice that we, for some reason nobody can explain, have this huge deficit that needs reducing! And what’s the best way to reduce a deficit — without, of course, raising taxes, which we’ve all decided should never be done?

You guessed it! We’ll need to cut spending!

And assuming you’re well off enough to have your own nest-egg and own health insurance — like any good American does, and should — then you probably won’t mind if we reduce the benefits of Social Security and Medicare (and not to forget, Medicaid, which only losers use anyway!), which is the largest chunk of change that the U.S. Government “wastes" every year.

We have to get used to the fact that, while for a very long time — probably dating back to the late 19th century as the United States became a global power — liberal assumptions about what this country represented prevailed in the country and throughout the world. America did believe in what Emma Lazarus wrote, that immigrants should be welcomed here because they helped make America great, just as former slaves deserved the same rights as the rest of us, and women deserved the right to vote. We saw to it that everyone had the same opportunity to strive and survive, no matter how poor, and we reached a landmark when we finally passed a national health program, to make sure that nobody, nor their children, suffered for not being able to see a doctor or go to a hospital.

That was then. All that liberal claptrap is now collapsing. Historians may someday look back and take note that Barrack Obama presided over the peak of America’s potential — it’s “spring of hope", in the words of Dickens, followed abruptly by its "winter of despair”.

You see where all this seems to be leading us?

If our answer to that was, “Yeah, somewhere out there in the Third World!”, then I think we may finally be coming to our senses.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Response to Not Quite Better Than Nothing

(See Just above Sunset/Not Quite Better Than Nothing)

I agree with Nancy LeTourneau and disagree with Kevin Drum, at least this once.

I think the Republicans are approaching everything they do these days like those football players when they try to explain themselves in those post-game press conferences — they have no idea what the big picture is, since they play just one game at a time. That way, even if they’re headed for the Super Bowl this year, next year they might end up totally out of the running based on things they’re doing now. But meanwhile, ignorance is bliss.

But what amazes me is how Trump’s base — which, let’s face it, is the new Republican base, whether Republicans are ready to admit it or not — goes along with all this! I don’t blame them for voting against their own self-interest. I do that, too, but in my case, the GOP tax bill, which probably will neither help nor hurt me, will (I think) probably hurt the U.S. economy, and at least hurt the middle class and the poor.

I’m pretty sure Trump’s base votes for him because they like his style, not because they believe he’ll get things done that they like. Sure, they’ve depended on Obamacare to stay alive, and sure, Trump is killing Obamacare, but they don’t seem to understand that he’s really doing that. They believe him when he says Obamacare’s failure is Obama’s fault, simply because they didn’t like Obama, and they do like Trump. Before they ever learn the truth — that Trump himself sabotaged Obamacare and blamed it on the Democrats, just as he said he would — it will be just someone else’s version of history that nobody really cares about.

And speaking of history, if you’re interested in where Republicans first came up with this “trickle-down” stuff, you should read this Isaac Martin article in the NY Times from a few days ago. You may have heard that Arthur Laffer invented the idea…
But the man who first put this strategy to work for rich people was Andrew Mellon, the millionaire who became secretary of the Treasury after World War I. Poor veterans of the war were clamoring for expensive public benefits. Rich men wanted their income taxes rolled back. 
Mellon squared the circle by inventing a supply-side argument: Cutting income tax rates would actually increase tax revenues. In particular, he said, cutting the top income tax rates would encourage rich people to pull their money out of tax shelters and invest in creating jobs… 
Instead of an economic model, he gave his readers a folksy anecdote about an overtaxed farmer. He also raised money for a grass-roots campaign to mobilize support for income tax cuts in parts of the country where almost no one was rich enough to benefit personally from those tax cuts. These activists did not have to win a majority of the public. They just had to win enough grass-roots support to intimidate members of Congress in a few key districts... 
Veterans of the campaign for the Mellon plan kept campaigning for income tax cuts through World War II. When runaway inflation put tax reform back on the agenda in the 1970s, conservative activists dusted off those old policy proposals. They copied the old tactics, too, including the recruitment of organizers to run grass-roots campaigns far outside Washington. These conservative activists picked up Mellon’s book and they copied Mellon’s argument: Tax cuts for the rich will pay for themselves with economic growth. 
Today’s Republican Party is the party that those activists made. Congressional Republicans who came up in the populist tax revolts of the 1970s abandoned the old party orthodoxy of balanced budgets and rebranded themselves as the tax-cutting party. They embraced the idea that deficits don’t matter as long as those deficits result from Republican tax cuts.
So did Mellon’s tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves? Here’s tax historian Joe Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts in WaPo:
Did the 1920s tax cuts bolster economic growth? Probably. Did that growth help defray the cost of the tax cuts? Probably. Did that growth cover the full cost of those tax cuts? No... 
Historically, tax cuts have tended to generate some economic growth that in turn helps cover part of the cost of the cut itself. But to my knowledge, no major tax cut has ever generated enough growth to pay for itself completely.
But what I’m really curious about is how much Republicans believe that a bill that cuts middle class taxes in the short run and helps rich people and corporations in the long run — especially one that seems to be tremendously unpopular with most Americans because of those things — will really help America in spite of its massive unpopularity. Yes, economists don’t like the bill, but economists are “experts", and in fact, it certainly doesn’t help that more of them are liberal than aren’t.

But I guess the idea is that, after we (Republicans) get past the vote and all this crap becomes law, the people will eventually learn that they (economists and citizens) were wrong and we (Republicans) were right, and that someday they’ll — what, maybe thank us? Maybe America will apologize to Trump and the Republican party for not believing in them?

I don’t really know what silliness is going on in their brains. Maybe somebody should ask them if they can explain what they're doing.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Response to Taking Things Too Far

(See: Just Above Sunset: Taking Things Too Far)

 We should all be thankful that America’s version of The Enlightenment didn’t mimic the French version, even their PRE "Reign-of-Terror” version, with committees of so-called “citizens” running the country instead of elected presidents and representatives — the “too MUCH democracy” that our founders wisely avoided — and not to forget the mob rule and terror that followed, and eventually, even an emperor, of all things!

But is it because we’re now living in our own bizarre "Reign-of-Trump", where mob-think seems to carry more weight than facts and reason and justice, that a whole bunch of senators can force a possibly-innocent senator to voluntarily put his head in the guillotine?

Yesterday, before his announcement, I was agnostic about whether Franken should resign, but afterward, I decided he should not have — not just on moral grounds but also political ones. (And wouldn’t it be nice if America got back to a time when the “moral” and the “political” shared the same grounds?)

In fact, even as Minnesota’s Democratic governor Mark Dayton expressed his "deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken” in his statement yesterday, he added this:
"Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota.”
Let’s face it, whoever replaces Franken is unlikely to do as much for the Democratic national cause as Franken has proven he is capable of doing, and his staying, in the long run, will have done a lot more good for our side than whatever questionable short-term political advantage, if any, the party gets from his leaving.

So now I’m wondering if, in the next few days, when the time comes for governor Dayton to announce Al Franken’s replacement, how nice it might be if he announces that his choice is Al Franken.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Response to The Trump Transformation

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Trump Transformation)

Breaking news! This just in! Trump changes his mind again on Moore:
In a stunning reversal this morning, President Trump says he has now listened a little closer to what Roy Moore’s accusers have been saying, and has withdrawn his support for Moore in the upcoming special election. 
“She totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Leigh Corfman, who has insisted she isn't lying about being molested as a 14-year-old girl by then 32-year-old Moore.  
“She says it absolutely did happen,” the president told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. where he is spending his five-day Thanksgiving vacation. “You have to listen to her, also.” 
Asked by a reporter about whether he worried about Alabama electing “a liberal Democrat” to the senate, Mr. Trump responded by insisting that, “Hey, this isn’t about politics, it’s about morality, and about doing the right thing for a change!” 
“After all,” he continued, “what does this say about Alabama that they can’t find just one measly Republican senator to send to Washington that isn’t a child molester?” 
When asked how he feels about Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent, possibly winning the election, Mr. Trump replied, “What’s the big deal? He’s not such a bad guy! 
"A lot of people don’t know this, but as United States Attorney, Jones prosecuted two Ku Klux Klan bombers of a church that killed four innocent little African-American girls!” 
“And,” he added, “as far as I know, at least nobody’s accused Doug Jones of molesting little girls!” 
The president later announced he was ceasing his attacks on his former political opponent, Hillary Clinton, after hearing she has denied any wrongdoing in her use of emails as Secretary of State, her handling of Benghazi, and allegations that she gave uranium to Russia. 
“Somebody recently asked her about all those things,” the president said, “and she denied it! And by the way, she totally denied it! You have to listen to her, also.”
Talk about a Trump Transformation!

But no, none of that's true. It’s all fake news. (You knew that, right?)

Still, for just one moment, it felt strangely calming to forget what a jerk the guy is in real life, and to imagine him being one of the good guys.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Response to Now Burning in Hell

(See: Just Above Sunset: Now Burning in Hell)

One thing nobody seems to be suggesting as to why Trump might be keeping quiet about Judge Roy right now is the close resemblance between Moore's practice of chasing teenage girls as young as 14 through 16, and that story of Trump walking through the dressing room to see naked 15 year old beauty queen contestants back in 1997:
Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing. 
"I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’ " said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA. 
Trump, she recalled, said something like, "Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before." 
Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it "shocking" and "creepy." The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump. … Of the 11 (contestants) who said they don’t remember Trump coming into the changing room, some said it was possible that it happened while they weren’t in the room or that they didn’t notice. But most were dubious or dismissed the possibility out of hand. 
Allison Bowman, former Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, cast doubt on whether it happened. "These were teenage girls," Bowman said. "If anything inappropriate had gone on, the gossip would have flown.” … Billado said she told Ivanka Trump (Trump’s daughter), about Donald Trump entering the room while the girls were changing their clothes. Billado remembers Ivanka answering, "Yeah, he does that.”
Polifact dodged grading that story on their Truth-O-Meter, but there seems to be enough to it, and in light of Trump's own telling Howard Stern about his habit of doing this at other beauty pageants, I tend to believe it.

Can't you imagine the public blowback from the judge if Trump keeps tweeting that he needs to drop out of the race because he's a dirty old man who lusts after 15 year olds? In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Moore has already warned Trump of this possibility, on the down-low.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Response to Losing the Republican Party

(See: Just Above Sunset: Losing the Republican Party)

I’m not sure I buy that "the party is over", but I’m still a bit confused by all these Republicans turning against Moore and saying he should drop out of the race.

I suppose it may be in part that they’re tired of being cast as the party that doesn’t believe women, but from the practical-politics point of view, it seems to make no sense: if Moore drops out, the likely outcome is that the Democratic candidate wins and the Republicans are down one more seat in the Senate. They have to realize that a “write-in” campaign will fail. You’d think the best thing for them would be to let Moore win, after which they can all demonstrate their purity by voting to expel him, at which point he would be replaced by a Republican appointed by Alabama's Republican governor.

But if the Republican party is dying, does this mean the Democrats will take over?

No, the simple reason being that, while everyone may be dismayed by all the incompetence and constant fumbles of the hapless Republicans, they still believe in “Republicanism" — or maybe more to the point, "anti-Democratism”.

To much of the nation, Democrats don’t believe in “personal responsibility”, illustrated by their constantly putting the “takers” (and yes, most of those, in their imagination, being “non-white”) into the position of living off someone else’s wealth. If it were ever proven conclusively that every male elected Republican official, when in their thirties, molested at least one fourteen-year-old, most of the electorate would consider it beside the point, the real point being that we would rather the country be governed by Republicans, even if they all be rascals and rogues, than Do-Gooder Democrats who keep insisting on turning the farm over to all those lazy bums.

I kept waiting for all the Republican phony bullshit to be exposed — the Benghazi's, the emails, and that incredibly stupid Uranium One thing — and for people to finally realize that Hillary Clinton was obviously the most qualified candidate. Sure, she was boring — certainly not a crowd pleaser like Trump, but he’s only charismatic because he’s a goofy dunce who’s able to grab the headlines every other day by contradicting something stupid he said two days before. Sooner of later, even those who voted for him would tire of his shenanigans and were certain to abandon him, wouldn’t they?

I even imagined a circumstance when Republican voters might come to their senses, and we might all actually have an honest debate over differing philosophies of governance — the conservative minimalist view of ever-smaller government and ever-lower taxes, where it’s every citizen for himself, versus the liberal view of a community that looks out for all its members, rich and poor, making sure all have opportunities to become productive contributors, and that those beyond hope at least don’t live out their lives in misery and die a lonely death.

Silly me.

The truth is, at least at this point in our history, just enough of us will never care how smart and competent Hillary Clinton was. The truth is, we didn’t want her to be our president, so we looked for excuses to not trust her, such as her doing something or other with her emails, and somehow seemingly let four Americans die in Benghazi, and maybe something or other about her giving away lots of American uranium to Russia, scandals that nobody can quite explain, but hey, you know, she seems to be surrounded by these "unanswered questions".

The truth is, we just can’t trust her to be president, because to do that, the Democrats would be running things, and we just can’t allow that, even if it means some colorful doofus is in the White House, pissing off the rest of the world, and getting absolutely nothing done.

But that’s okay, because other than getting a conservative on the Supreme Court — which we got! — there really is nothing more we really want government doing anyway, right?

So according to some, "the party is over"? What does that even mean?

Think about it: The Democrats, who seem to be smart enough to be in charge, are in fact just a bunch of smarty-pantses that nobody trusts, and the Republicans, seemingly feckless and dysfunctional and maybe of questionable morals, but in fact, are the party of “non-governance” and not-filling-political slots, now have their hands on the tiller and are steering the ship of state in circles.

Has it ever occurred to us that maybe this is exactly the way they want things to be?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Response to That Southern Man

(See: Just Above Sunset: That Southern Man)

And don’t forget that Neil Young is from Canada! Who was this libtard foreigner to be lecturing Americans on their own glorious history? I’m surprised Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t pick up on that.

(Although I hate to admit, all politics aside, that “Sweet Home Alabama” is a lot catchier a tune than “Southern Man”.)

I think some Republicans predicted back then that the "Access Hollywood” tape would finally finish Trump off among his base, who they may have imagined to be evangelical prudes. If so, they misjudged Trump’s supporters. They were not moralists, they were anti-establishment everyday pitchfork rabble who were not offended at all by a man acting like a man, even if it might break a law or two.

The trouble with Moore is he follows his own so-called conscience, the law be damned, and since his followers didn’t mind him scoffing at the law in the Ten Commandments and gay-marriage cases, they probably don’t mind throwing in a little statutory nookie, especially since he actually listened to that fourteen-year-old girl when she said “no” and then took her home, which is the very least of how we ask our sexual predators to behave.

And to be perfectly honest, who amongst us has not, at some time or other, at least fantasized about having a dalliance with "jailbait”? So can we really blame him? Besides, it was long ago, and also, nothing happened!

Personally, I never liked this Judge Roy Moore character to begin with, and all this latest stuff adds nothing to my dislike of people who refuse to obey good laws in the first place — especially those who are applying for the job of writing those laws! — so if I were a congressman walking the halls of Washington, I would probably avoid eye contact with reporters. I’d have nothing more to say as to whether Moore should drop out of the race, which I fully expect him not to do anyway.

Unless, of course, Leigh Corfman, the fourteen-year-old who is now 53, files charges, since, as I understand it, there is no statute of limitations on soliciting sex from a minor, which is anyone under sixteen years in Alabama. But I have to admit, I am looking forward to watching Moore once more ignore the law, once he’s found guilty.

And while I’m here, because I got too busy last night to respond to yesterday’s column, “Screaming at the Sky”, I’ll do so now:

I suspect the reason that Donald Trump is pretty much not getting his way, other than being a reflection of his skills as a leader and a deal-maker, has something to do with most of America not really agreeing with the things he wants to do.

Most of us don’t want Obamacare to be repealed and/or replaced; most of us don’t want a wall built between us and Mexico, no matter who pays for it; most of us want clean air and water and worry at least a little about how much we humans are making the earth warmer; most of us want to save the lives of Syrian refugees, if we can; most of us, on mention of Russia hacking our election, don’t immediately think it all had something to do with Hillary Clinton; nor do we want to cozy up with Putin’s Russia, and are not that happy with the fact that Trump has the rest of the world looking elsewhere than the U.S. for leadership.

In short, Donald Trump is a minority president who most Americans didn’t vote for, and would replace if we had the chance.

And in fact, "President Trump” is the kind of thing that happens when you don’t allow the citizens of America to pick their own president. 

Yes, we can say Trump probably won the election “fair and square”, but that’s only because of our stupid “electoral college”. But just because we can say that does not give us the right to say, “the American people elected him.” In truth, the American people didn’t.

When we look at the election map from last year, we need to realize that all that red represents where there’s more dirt than people, while all that blue represents where there’s a higher percentage of human beings in relation to dirt. If things were the way they ought to be, we would allow the people to choose the president, not the land.

And yet, Trump, for some reason, is still suffering under the delusion that it’s harder for a Republican to win the Electoral College than a Democrat!

I keep dreaming that maybe we can somehow take advantage of his ignorance and get him to actually help us change the system to a popular vote, on the slim hope that we could get it done before someone clues him in to reality.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Response to Just Hitting Back Harder

(See: Just Above Sunset: Just Hitting Back Harder)

It’s the Battle of the Tweets!

First, this shot, from Donald Trump:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!
Followed by this reply from Howard Dean:
Howard Dean @GovHowardDean
Oh shut up!
Okay, I think we Democrats may have just found our nominee to face Trump in 2020.

But let’s talk about Trump: Calculating, or Impulsively Dimwitted? I tend to believe it's mostly the latter.

After all, he’s probably not in this presidency gig for the money, although this is not to say that, after years of doing everything he’s been doing, money isn’t always somewhere in Donald Trump's thoughts, not too unlike my cat who instinctively makes that staccato eh-eh-eh-eh-eh sound when she spots a bird out the window. Here he is in an account by Jerry Useem in Fortune magazine back in early 2000, when Trump was considering a run for president on the Reform Party ticket: 
Another thought occurred to him: "You know I am the highest-paid speaker in the country?” 
Trump had inked a deal with Tony Robbins, the frighteningly upbeat motivational speaker, by which Robbins would pay Trump $1 million to give ten speeches at his seminars around the country. Crucially, Trump had timed his political stops to coincide with Robbins' seminars, so that he was "making a lot of money" on those campaign stops. "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it," Trump said, adding that "there's no way a good businessman" would have blown the kind of money Steve Forbes had. 
Okay, I take that back: maybe making money IS a motivation for Trump being in the White House, but an equally-major motivator is his maybe-pathological need for being extremely-highly regarded. From that same Fortune article:
"Hey, I've got my name on half the major buildings in New York," he said. "I went to the Wharton School of Finance, which is the No. 1 school. I'm intelligent. Some people would say I'm very, very, very intelligent." Plus, he had written three best-selling books. "Not bestsellers," Trump clarified. "No. 1 bestsellers."
As president, he’s been known to fire at least one high official who refused to swear loyalty to him, and open an on-camera cabinet meeting by going around the table and have everyone, as if unsolicited, sing his praises. If some governor thanks him for his administration’s help in cleaning up after a disaster, in Trump’s version, it will sound like the governor had recommended Trump’s name to the Vatican for canonization for sainthood.

He wants to be “liked”? Maybe “adored”? Something like that. Because he never got love from his parents? Maybe.

But there’s also the possibility that he’s always been a natural-born jerk, possibly because he was born so rich that there was neither opportunity nor reason to develop the normal social skills that normal human beings have to learn in order to survive, and so he instead learned to compensate for this lack by competing with everyone — making more money, buying bigger things, gold-plating and putting his name on them. (Also from that article: "When I don't put my name on it," Trump explains, "nobody knows that I own it.”)

It’s all about the kind of stature that only a bully can appreciate. He doesn’t so much need to be “liked” or “loved” as “respected”, “envied”, “feared”, and “worshipped”.

So is it possible, with Kim, that Trump is cleverly playing bad-cop to Tillerson’s good-cop?

Possible, but I think doubtful. Trump really doesn’t seem to have a history for actual political calculation beyond giving a humiliating nickname to an opponent, such as “Little Marco” or “Pocahontas” or “Rocketman”, none of which serves any pragmatic purpose other than making him feel like he’s won some sparring match with an enemy, which comes as natural to him as brushing one’s teeth comes to you or me.

Forget helping people in need during a natural disaster, Trump's comfort zone is soaking up that adulation he receives afterward for, what, just being there after the dust settles?

His problem, of course, is he doesn’t have the patience to wait until it’s all over, insisting on prematurely blithering on, in tweets and speeches, on what an incredible job he and his people did in doing whatever it is that they were supposed to be doing, never seeming to realize how it sounds like “Mission Accomplished” or “Heck of a job, Browny!”

But regardless of much evidence that anything was done at all, the important thing is to think of it as a “good news story”. It's never so much about the truth, it’s really about what he wants people to believe about himself and his imaginary good works.

And speaking of that comfort zone, Trump never gets as much comfort anywhere else as he does when he’s out rallying with his peeps, chatting up all those issues they have in common, such as people showing disrespect for those things that good American patriots pride themselves on holding dear, despite anything else that might be worth considering. The irony of Republicans is that, despite being in a decades-long refusal to acknowledge a distinction between fact and opinion, putting the party in a death spiral, they continue to provide comfort for delusionals such as Trump and his base, who seem to actually believe that coal jobs will miraculously arise from the dead, tax cuts for rich people will pay for themselves, and that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya. 

Why did Trump pick a fight with the NFL?

If he were a purely calculating politician, he might be returning to earlier years of Republican “wedge issues” politics — remember Vice President Dan Quayle picking a fight with TV-sitcom-character Murphy Brown for choosing to give birth to an out-of-wedlock baby, as if it were just another “life-style choice”? — but if he knew his history, he’d remember the veep got trounced by the fictional character in that one, hands down.

More likely, that NFL thing wasn’t calculation on Trump’s part. More likely, it was Charles Foster Kane, in search of that “Rosebud” sled of his early years, when troubles were few and life was simpler, back when he could get all the things he wanted by just imagining them into existence, without much hassle and without anybody stopping him, and he was happy.

So which is it — crazy like a fox, or the impulsive dimwit? Ockham’s razor or Hanlon’s razor?

My vote goes to Hanlon’s dimwit.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Response to Beyond Football Sunday

(See: Just Above Sunset: Beyond Football Sunday)

"This has nothing to do with the flag and patriotism. This is a matter of who owns whom – as personal property."

Yeah, that’s what Trump thinks, but the truth, of course, is that Trump doesn’t ever really think things through to their logical conclusion, which is that the so-called “owners” don’t own the players, they only own the teams!

The owners realize that, even if Donald Trump doesn’t, which is why tweeting this, as Trump did, is stupid:
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, you’re fired. Find something else to do.”
If he were a team owner, he might realize that he is not the one ultimately paying the star-player’s salary, that the money is coming from the fans, and that he would actually value someone he’s paying millions of dollars to, rather than think he can just fire him willy-nilly, especially if you want the other players to win games for you. It just so happens that, in this case, doing the honorable and right thing is also in the owners’ best interest, and if he knew anything about business, Trump would know this.

But, in fact, I would argue that it’s "the privilege of making millions of dollars” from his sport that probably helped prompt Colin Kaepernick to take a stand, so-to-speak, in the first place. Rather than just taking the money and running, he chose to not ignore the problems of the country that pays his salary, even if doing so costs him a million dollars here or there. 

And lest we forget, it’s not just the right to express an opinion at play here, it’s also what that opinion is about, which is that the republic for which that flag and anthem stands needs to find a way to stop allowing its peace officers to kill those they have sworn “to serve and protect” — specifically, those of racial minorities.

But is the sports venue a place to solve this problem?

My first answer would be, sure, why not!

Yeah, but by disrespecting the flag and the national anthem?

Once again, sure, why not! — even if it’s not really a very good way to do call attention to a problem, since it’s so easy to be misinterpreted as unpatriotic by people who don’t understand America, in the same way that some people overreact when protestors burn an American flag — which, by the way, is considered an okay way, under the law and the U.S. Constitution, to register your dissatisfaction with something your country is doing wrong. And, in fact, there seems to be no very good alternative way for the Kaepernickians to make their case.

But one nice thing about this whole controversy is that it’s just one more vehicle for reminding us that Barrack Obama, when confronted with this same issue — and being a much smarter president than the one we have now — handled this situation with much more understanding of the opinions of the Americans on both sides of the issue:
“I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing… but I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”
God, I miss that guy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Response to The Birth of a New Nation

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Birth of a New Nation)

Okay, it’s a little complicated. We need to parse it a bit:
TRUMP (answering reporters’ questions): Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible] – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

What about this? What about the fact that they came charging – they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.

As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group – you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent. 
(I could just listen to this nitwit talk all day long!)

Still, he makes a good point!

On the one hand, you had a group that drove a car into a crowd of protestors, injuring about twenty and killing one of them; on the other hand, you had another group — equally bad! — that came in charging without a permit!

Both bad? I don’t know, you be the judge!

But levity aside, it should be noted that Trump somehow got his “alt-left” mixed up with his “Antifa”:
Antifa is a far-left, anarchist political movement of autonomous, self-described anti-fascist groups in the United States. The term is loosely used with anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, as well as Anarchism and anti-capitalism. 
According to The Economist, the "word Antifa has its roots in Anti-Fascist Action, a name taken up by European political movements in the 1930s" and which was revived in the 1990s, particularly in Germany. 
Peter Beinart writes that "In the late ’80s, left-wing punk fans in the United States began following suit, though they initially called their groups Anti-Racist Action, on the theory that Americans would be more familiar with fighting racism than fascism.” 
They are known for militant protest tactics, including property damage and, sometimes, physical violence.
Note that last part, about “physical violence”.

It’s been said that the Antifa is like any typical leftist anti-rightwing group, but without the snowflakes, who argue that the anti-violence approach of the past has failed. So no, Trump was not imagining it when he saw the counter-protestors on Saturday sometime being the aggressors.

And yes, in all the hoo-hah about the violence in Charlottesville for the past several days, there’s been very little mention of “Antifa”. I’m guessing that’s because it would step on all the agreement we see from both sides, that you shouldn’t be shy about blaming the white-national racists for starting the whole thing.

Which is true, but what is also true is that you shouldn’t be shy about telling the whole truth about all this, that being that,

(1) while the violent tactics can justifiably be blamed on both sides,

(2) only one side are the actual bad guys.

In other words, when it comes to assessing  the relative despisability of the “causes” — that is, "racist white superiority" vs “not” — nobody, of either party, even Republican, should feel embarrassed or ashamed to come out in favor of Enlightened Western Civilization.

Both causes are opinions, and as such are equally protected by the Constitution, but they aren’t really equal in the sense of being what America wants to be. We Americans may disagree with how to get there, but once we arrive, we all want to be the good guys.

Got it?

So is the Trump administration as naive about Antifa as it seems? Maybe not:
In what is shaping up to be a contentious battle over privacy rights and free speech, the Department of Justice has formally requested that web hosting firm ‘DreamHost’ turn over 1.3 million IP addresses and other information to ‘unmask‘ visitors to the anti-Trump Antifa website ‘,’ as part of the investigation into crimes committed on and around January 20 by protesters. DreamHost has challenged the request, claiming the scope of data requested violates the first and fourth amendments because it is too broad. was registered in October of 2016 by the ‘DC Anti-fascist Coalition,’ and promoted along with the hashtag #DisruptJ20, as a central resource for anti-Trump protesters to coordinate various plots over social media intended disrupt the presidential inauguration on and around January 20. 
The website connected users through mailing lists and planned meet-ups, and provided a calendar of anarchistic events as well as resources to help people prepare for the mayhem. The site also provides a ‘legal guide’ for those arrested.
The article goes on about those violent activities at the swearing-in in Washington, that "after inauguration related chaos, organized and coordinated in large part through the DisruptJ20 website, 230 ‘black-bloc‘ protesters were arrested and subsequently indicted on felony rioting charges after the “anti-fascists” rioted in the streets – smashing storefronts, setting a limousine on fire, and injuring six police officers.”

So yeah, “Antifa” violence is really a thing.

Still, speaking of not being able to tell the difference, there was also this:
TRUMP: George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down – excuse me. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Okay, good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue?
Someone needs to tell Donald that one not only needs to know his American history, one has to understand it. But he also needs to know his current affairs:

Governments all over the South are not taking down statues of people because they were slave-owners, but because they were Confederates!

To help you understand the difference, General George Washington fought for the United States of America, while General Robert E. Lee fought against it!

And not only did Lee fight against America, he fought in defense of a nation slapped together by states who seceded almost exclusively to preserve the “rights” of their citizens to own human beings, a practice that even white Southerners of the time were concluding was evil and would not be surviving for long. 

In fact, the existence in town squares across the South of the symbols of an American enemy nation has, to me, always been a bit weird — just part of the extraordinarily generous efforts that we, the victors, took to welcome them home, I guess.

But once the nation realized the pain that the Confederate legacy caused to the true victims of the Civil War — the slaves, and the descendants of slaves — it came to its senses and realized that, it was one thing to remember your ugly heritage, but it was another to celebrate it in the public square. It was time for the celebrations to end.

I heard Don Lemon, a black CNN anchor, ask the other day, can you imagine being Jewish, living in post-war Germany as a kid, going to Joseph Goebbels Middle School, and after you graduate from there, attending Adolf Hitler High? That’s what it was like for him, he said, growing up in the South.

Does Donald Trump realize this? Probably not, but he’s got a very good excuse: He was born with the brain of a lizard! He can’t help being unlearnable!

I’m starting to sound like a broken record in an echo chamber. I’m getting out of here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Response to The Job at Hand

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Job at Hand)

In a classic case of “Man Bites Dog”, we now see the elephants sweeping up after the man with the shovel, who can’t seem to figure out what to do with all the poopy he keeps leaving behind himself.

Here’s how E.J. Dionne puts it:
Advisers to the president tried to clean up after this moral failure, putting out a statement Sunday morning – attributed to no one – declaring that “of course” his condemnation of violence “includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” 
But if that “of course” is sincere, why didn’t Trump say these things in the first place? And why hang on to the president’s inexcusable moral equivalence by adding that phrase “and all extremist groups”?
Not to mention the fact that Trump apparently couldn’t bring himself to tell us this himself, in his own words, maybe because he’s reluctant to ever admit he did something that needs clarification — for fear of messaging “weakness” — but probably also because he wants deniability to all his alt-supporters.

I also can’t help but wonder if the flaming rebukes Trump has received from his fellow Republicans, Lyin’ Ted Cruz and Little Marco Rubio, concerning his response, might be the result of both ex-candidates feeling that there might be no real price to pay for payback — which, in itself, is a sign that his scorched-earth, tough-guy, bullying approach during the primaries may not have been such a good idea after all, especially when it comes to trying to build the coalition he would later need to lean on, to get things done during his presidency.

Oh, well, at least America can chalk that up to just another "rooky mistake". Next time, we'll know not to elect an amateur.

By the way, this incident should also serve as a reminder of what Hillary Clinton was talking about when she alluded to much of Trump’s support coming from a “basket of deplorables”:
”You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? (Laughter/applause)

The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket ... that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change.

It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
Back then, many Trump supporters chose to misinterpret that “deplorables” comment as referring to all Trump voters, but it didn’t; she was talking about all the haters, the racists, the white-supremacists, the extremist vermin who now felt liberated enough by Trump’s candidacy to come out of hiding from the American fringes, to declare for Trump. He has pretended to not see them standing there behind him, but we know he knows they’re there because of the obvious care he takes not to say anything to offend them.

Something else new in all of this is that, never do I remember in the past our ever having to demand the same level of specificity from our president in statements of lamentation they've had to make following a tragedy. I think the closest we’ve come is in the complaints from many on the right after Barrack Obama observed that he imagined Trevon Martin as being the son he never had, during his comments after that Zimmerman guy murdered him.

But other than that — or at least as I remember it — we’ve never expected our president to take sides in a violent clash between political demonstrators.

Why is that?

Maybe because, back then, we could also assume that we all knew which side was the good guys and which the bad. It doesn’t speak well for the Donald Trump era, much less for the man himself, that even those on the right are demanding he clarify where he himself stands on the deplorables spectrum.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Response to Discounting Experience

(See: Just Above Sunset: Discounting Experience)

Here’s what Kevin Drum thinks:
Liberals like to think that maybe more diplomacy will stop North Korea’s nuclear program. It won’t. Conservatives like to think that tougher sanctions, or possibly military force, will stop their nuclear program. They won’t. Donald Trump likes to pretend that China can stop their nuclear program. They either can’t or won’t. Like it or not, this is where we are.

There are only two options left. Either we accept a nuclear-armed North Korea or we launch a nuclear strike to take out their capabilities. Since a nuclear strike is insane for too many reasons to list – including the fact that it might not even work – this means we really have no options at all. We can, if we want, maintain a hostile attitude toward North Korea as a signal to others about the price of developing nukes, but we basically have to accept the reality that North Korea is a nuclear state.
But wait! One of those two options — that is, accepting a nuclear North Korea — might be an actual option, but only if Kim’s plan weren’t to go ahead and use his nukes on us — but it seems that is his plan. And this leaves us with only one option, which would be to launch a nuclear strike to take out their capabilities.

And that’s especially true after hearing today that Kim’s thinking about taking out Guam with one of his maybe 60 newly-released mini-warheads, each small enough to fit inside a missile. I suppose it’s a good sign that he’s threatening one of our territories first, which he probably wouldn’t do if he were serious about hitting our mainland, since he must know that destroying Guam would likely be immediately followed by us destroying North Korea.

Which means he’s probably bluffing — although you willing to chance that?

But let’s back up a bit. Since we already know that the “bomb North Korea” option is extremely problematical, maybe we should leave that as the absolute last alternative. As stupid as this may sound, I happen to believe some sort of diplomacy is more likely our only hope, assuming there is any hope at all of avoiding massive death and destruction.

And if we’re going to negotiate, maybe we should try to figure out what all these things the U.S. is doing that Kim finds “threatening” — other, that is, than us just telling him to stop threatening us or we’ll rain fire on him like nobody’s ever seen?

The most I could find is he’s still pissed off about things we did to them back in the early 1950s, during the Korean War. That story comes from WaPo’s Anna Fifield, back in May: 
The Kim family has kept a tight grip on North Korea for some seven decades by perpetuating the idea that the Americans are out to get them. From the earliest age, North Korean children are taught “cunning American wolves” — illustrated by fair-haired, pale-skinned men with huge noses — want to kill them. 
Kindergartens and child-care centers are decorated with animals holding grenades and machine guns. Cartoons show plucky squirrel soldiers (North Koreans) triumphing over the cunning wolves (Americans). 
“North Koreans live in a war mentality, and this anti-American propaganda is war-time propaganda,” said Tatiana Gabroussenko, an expert in North Korean propaganda who teaches at Korea University in Seoul. 
The thing is: there is some element of truth to the North Korean version of events. It’s only a kernel, and it is grossly exaggerated, but North Koreans remember very well what most Americans have forgotten (or never knew): that the Korean War was a brutal one. 
“Korea is called the forgotten war, and part of what has been forgotten is the utter ruin and devastation that we rained down on the North Korean people,” said John Delury, a professor in the international relations department at Yonsei University in Seoul. “But this has been ingrained into the North Korean psyche.”
Remember Dean Rusk, Secretary of State under JFK and LBJ? He figures in this story:
First: a little history.

The Korean Peninsula, previously occupied by Japan, was divided at the end of World War II. Dean Rusk — an Army colonel at the time, who went on to become secretary of state — got a map and basically drew a line across at the 38th parallel. To the Americans’ surprise, the Soviet Union agreed to the line, and the communist-backed North and the American-backed South were established in 1948 as a “temporary measure.”

On June 25, 1950, Kim Il Sung, installed by the Soviets to lead North Korea, decided to try to reunify the peninsula by force, invading the South. (Although in the North Korean version of events, the South and their imperialist patrons started it.)

The push south was surprisingly successful until Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed his troops on the mudflats at Incheon, sending the northern troops back. Then the Chinese got involved, managing to push them back to roughly where they started, on the 38th parallel.

All this happened within the first six months or so. For the next two-and-a-half years, neither side was able to make any headway. The war was drawn to a close in 1953, after exacting a bloody toll.

“The number of Korean dead, injured or missing by war’s end approached three million, 10 percent of the overall population,” Charles K. Armstrong, a professor of Korean history at Columbia University, wrote in an essay. “The majority of those killed were in the North, which had half of the population of the South.”

But the war ended with an armistice, not with a peace treaty. That means that, to this day, North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war.
But while it lasted, we were brutal. We dropped more bombs in Korea than we did in all the Pacific in WWII:
The United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs in Korea, not counting the 32,557 tons of napalm, Bruce Cumings, a University of Chicago professor who’s written several books on North Korea, wrote in “The Korean War: A History.” This compared with 503,000 tons in the entire Pacific theater in World War II. 
“If we keep on tearing the place apart, we can make it a most unpopular affair for the North Koreans,” Defense Secretary Robert Lovett said after the napalm and aerial bombing campaigns of 1950 and 1951, according to Cumings. “We ought to go right ahead,” Lovett said. 
Rusk said the United States bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops, former Post correspondent Blaine Harden wrote on these pages in 2015. 
Air Force commanders complained that they’d run out of targets. 
“The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating U.N. forces,” Armstrong of Columbia wrote.
And the Kim regimes haven’t let their people forget:
The Kim regime keeps its people afraid by constantly blaming the United States for its situation, especially sanctions for its economic plight. But this also helps it unify the populace against a supposed external threat. ... 
“When a new and untested American president starts dangling out the prospect of a surprise missile attack as the solution to the North Korean problem, it plays directly into their worst narrative that the regime tells its people,” Delury said.
The regime punctuates their war narrative with many museums throughout the country designed to remind their people of the atrocities, such as the "Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities", south of Pyongyang, commemorating a massacre there in which 35,000 women, children and old people were said to have died in 1950, at the hands of American troops, according to the North, but doubts about the culprits remain
US troops did indeed commit several massacres of Korean civilians during the war, such as at Nogun-ri in South Korea on July 26, 1950, when American soldiers shot South Koreans fleeing the war zone, an event for which then-President Bill Clinton expressed his “regrets” in 2001. However, several scholars have put US responsibility for the Sincheon massacre in doubt, as did famous South Korean novelist Hwang Sok-Yong, who traveled to North Korea in 1989. 
In his book “Sonnim” (The Guest), based on eyewitness reports of the Sincheon atrocities, Hwang affirms that Korean Christians fleeing toward South Korea and Korean communists perpetrated the massacre, not US soldiers. Hwang says he did not see any evidence that American troops were involved.
Still, they continue to talk about this sort of thing in Korea. While we see that war as being over long ago — even if technically it isn’t — apparently, for some reason, the North Koreans don’t.

So as farfetched as it sounds, getting Kim to see the Korean War the way the rest of the world does, might help. Maybe China and Russia could host a meeting in Geneva or somewhere, giving Kim a chance to meet representatives of other countries face-to-face, showing him what’s really going on out here, which might even lead to a peace treaty that actually ends the Korean War, instead of it continuing as an anomaly in history as just a cease-fire.

Maybe we could get Bill Clinton involved, and somehow return us all to the so-called “Agreed Framework”, in which they stop testing nuclear weapons, while we supply them with the sorts of things that keep their energy needs satisfied, as well as their needs for food for the populace, at the same time as we offer help in modernizing their economy and reintegrating them into the rest of the world.

The hardest part, of course, will be sneaking all this past Donald Trump. Hmm.

Okay, well, see you all after the apocalypse.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Response to The Day Came

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Day Came)

“What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” Trump said, to uproarious applause. “And they should be looking at the paid Russian speeches. And the owned Russian companies. Or look at the uranium that she sold that is now in the hands of very angry Russians.”

That, of course, came from his rally in West Virginia last night, before a crowd of cheering admirers primed to swallow whatever poop he fed them as if it were ambrosia from heaven. The truth about these claims, which Trump must have heard before since he regurgitates all this stuff on a regular basis, did not likely have any advocates in attendance.

Still, if nobody ever revisits it, people will start to believe that the truth is not true, since they never hear anybody say it:

* Clinton’s deleted emails: Trump’s line on the maybe 33,000 private emails that Hillary “deleted” is that she destroyed them under subpoena, which is not true. After she had left office, Congress asked — not subpoenaed — the State Department for copies of any old emails from ex-Secretaries of State having to do with official business, and State onpassed the request to her.

At the same time that she turned over the emails to State in early December of 2014, she ordered that all her old private exchanges having nothing even close to a connection with government business be deleted. Maybe she should have kept them, just so she could later prove they had nothing to do with her job, but there didn’t seem to be a reason to at the time.

In early March of the following year, two days after the New York Times reported that Hillary had used a personal email account when Secretary of State, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued a subpoena for all emails having to do with Libya. Later that month, an employee of Platte River Networks, the subcontractor who had been charged with dispatching the emails, had what he termed an “oh, shit! moment” when he realized he hadn’t gotten around to the deletions, so he erased the archive at that point, at about the same time that Clinton’s lawyers sent a letter to the committee to inform them that the pertinent Libya emails had all been included in the December turnover.

Did Clinton issue a deletion order after the subpoena had arrived, as Trump claimed? According to Politifact, the FBI looked into that, and
the FBI learned no one on Clinton’s staff specifically asked the employee to delete the emails following the New York Times story and subpoena. Rather, the employee made that decision on his own.
In other words, it’s been checked out already by the FBI, and they decided that there’s nothing to it. Case closed.

* Uranium Hillary sold to the Russians: The uranium story is a convoluted one, but the bottom line is that there wasn’t any. Zip!

This fable originated in the book Clinton Cash, by Breitbart’s Peter Schweizer. Here’s how Snopes summarizes the issue:
The mining company, Uranium One, was originally based in South Africa, but merged in 2007 with Canada-based UrAsia Energy. Shareholders there retained a controlling interest until 2010, when Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, completed purchase of a 51% stake. Hillary Clinton played a part in the transaction because it involved the transfer of ownership of a material deemed important to national security — uranium, amounting to one-fifth of U.S. reserves — thus requiring the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), on which the U.S. Secretary of State sits.
Sounds like trouble for Hillary? Maybe not so much:
Among the ways these accusations stray from the facts is in attributing a power of veto or approval to Secretary Clinton that she simply did not have. Clinton was one of nine cabinet members and department heads that sit on the CFIUS, and the secretary of the treasury is its chairperson. CFIUS members are collectively charged with evaluating the transaction for potential national security issues, then turning their findings over to the president. By law, the committee can’t veto a transaction; only the president can. According to The New York Times, Clinton may not have even directly participated in the Uranium One decision. Then-Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, whose job it was to represent the State Dept. on CFIUS, said Clinton herself “never intervened” in committee matters.
And as for Trump’s, "look at the uranium that she sold that is now in the hands of very angry Russians”?
Russia doesn’t have the licenses to export uranium outside the United States, pointed out, "so it’s somewhat disingenuous to say this uranium is now Russia’s, to do with what it pleases." The Kremlin was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer.
The fact that Trump keeps making this claim is further proof (as if anybody needs further proof) that Trump is either (1) too stupid to be president of the United States, or (2) too much of a jerk to be president, or (3) possibly both.

* As for Trump’s suggestion that prosecutors "should be looking at the paid Russian speeches" and "the owned Russian companies”, it’s hard to know what the hell he’s talking about.

I wasn’t able to find out if Hillary ever got a paying gig to speak in Russia, although her husband got paid $500,000 to speak there in 2010. Then again, according to Politifact, Bill Clinton has made a lot of speeches in a lot of places, sometimes getting paid even more:
Bill Clinton regularly delivers speeches for fees of $500,000 or higher — such as a $750,000 speech in Hong Kong in 2011, paid for by a Swedish communications company, and a $600,000 speech in the Netherlands, also in 2011, paid for by a Dutch finance corporation.
But none of that has ever been linked with charges that either Bill or Hillary may have helped Russia intrude in our elections, or that they have ever taken any meeting with Russian spies offering quid-pro-quos for helping to repeal U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Nor, by the way, have I any idea what Trump means by “the owned Russian companies”, but sometimes, as evidenced by those phone conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico, he just blurts out things that have nothing to do with anything.

Does he actually believe the stuff he says, or is he just playing the village idiot for effect? I don’t know.

But maybe it’s Dada?
Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. …

Many Dadaists believed that the 'reason' and 'logic' of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality.
Sometimes I wonder if Donald Trump’s whole life might someday be revealed to be one long Dada-esque “happening”, some early 21st Century example of impermanent “performance art”, and wondered if future generations might celebrate this man as America’s one and only original, home-grown, true creative genius.