Saturday, December 3, 2016

I'm Sure this Won't Happen Every Day

Eyebrows might be raised by PEOTUS Donald Trump's phone call with Taiwanese leader President Tsai Ing-wen because it suggests either a break with current US foreign policy or a lack of knowledge of it (or, maybe, just self-interest). It's really hard to say, isn't it?

And that's the problem. This is, after all, a person whose advisers assured Japanese officials that they should not take things Trump says in public literally. It leaves you with very little idea how to take him, at all. So when he speaks with leaders in Pakistan or Kazakhstan, there is a certain alarm...

How do leaders around the world decide to "take" what he says, publically and privately?  I guess one thing they could do is keep an eye on Trump's business interests and finagle accordingly. (There is no trust so blind as one the entire business-pages reading world can see.) How does Trump "take" what they say, in turn? Who knows?

This is not how any of this is supposed to work.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Don't Rush to Give Trump Credit

There was an amusing story from just the other week where Donald Trump took credit for stopping a Ford plant from moving to Mexico when it never was actually going to go to Mexico. That was a cute way for Trump to telegraph that he was taking no prisoners in his quest to give himself the best possible press for genius deal-making. It doesn't have to be true, it just has to play into his campaign persona.

So, take the Carrier deal as a great example of this: he used Carrier many times in his stump speech about companies draining jobs away from the US. So it was "trumpeted" just recently that he negotiated another of these great deals to keep Carrier--his regular stump speech bogey--operating in Indiana. Well, a portion of the staff. And with a considerable tax break from the governor of that state. Who is the VP-elect, Mike Pence. More details are pending. But some jobs are definitely still going.

Surely, offering local tax deals to any company thinking of leaving the US or willing to say they are mulling it over isn't an especially sustainable method of keeping businesses here. Local municipalities depend upon "ratables"--and when the option to gain revenues from a local business is eliminated, that business is essentially receiving local government services gratis. It's corporate welfare. How many corporations might like a piece of the action where the threat of flight rains down an operational cost-assist? They aren't being cajoled, badgered,  or leveraged into behaving as good citizens of the areas in which they were making their profits--they are being rewarded for having "tried it". I'm not even sure this model disincentivizes "trying it again" to see if better rate-paying can be gained.

What I do know is that this model doesn't promote fair taxation or equitable distribution of social responsibility, which is, in part, what we'd like the relationship of taxpayer to taxing authority to be. Arbitrariness is a lethal trust concern.  Some companies "getting over" is a bad case of cronyism, lather, rinse, repeat. And it sort of betrays the whimsical association Trump makes with the relationship of entities (whether individual or corporate) to government altogether--he has never considered whether government has a point. Ours- the US of A's, has very much a point laid out in the Constitution. I do not know if he has read it--he just burbled some anti-1st Amendment nonsense on the Twitter-machine that should really give us all pause. He considers flag burning to possibly be worthy of losing one's citizenship. Becoming stateless? For what has previously been ruled an exercise of free speech? What can we expect from such a mind regarding unfavorable press?  (Even regarding, perhaps, D-list bloggers?

But among things Trump has tried to take credit for--trying to "apparently" divest from his business holdings while not actually divesting and hoping the world pats him on the back for it  takes the taco. There is a Twitter thread o' snark from the US Government Office of Ethics that uses the term divest to try and shame Trump into admitting that handing his business' reins over to his kids (who seem to also be his gov't advisors) and pretending he will pay no attention to those multi-million dollar assets is just weak-sauce, and leaves plenty of room for conflict-of-interest.

In other words--I feel like the media should wait until they have found the "damn" before they trot out even faint praise.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Curious Standards

There is a reasonable possibility that Donald Trump is considering former CIA Director and general David Petraeus for Secretary of State--and for what it's worth, I really think I like him as a pick better than I do Rudy Giuliani (who I just see as a very bad fit all around--not a diplomatic guy!) or Mitt Romney (who, based on what KellyAnn Conway has been telegraphing, and the open idea that Romney should have to crawl a little bit in abject penitence for defying Team Trump--makes me want to yell at him: Run away Mitt! Run far away! They are coming for your dignity!)

But can we admit it's just a little bananas that Trump is considering someone who FBI Director Comey explained has violated the rules regarding handling classified information way worse than anything Hillary Clinton ever did?

Because I think this would be important. Hillary Clinton was the subject of chants to "lock her up", and calls from the RNC Convention demonizing her and making a case against her because of her email server, from people like Rudolph Giuliani and NJ Governor Chris Christie. But what Petraeus did is okay in Trumplandia--he is still fine for a sensitive cabinet role. And Gen. Michael Flynn, who was tapped for National Security Adviser, was also reckless as heck regarding "forbidden" communications. He's fine, too.

I bring this up because even though Donald Trump was, as some might term it, "gracious" about not prosecuting Hillary Clinton over her emails anymore (like this would actually be up to him?) it's still being held over her head as if he might take an interest. Call it the "potato peeler of Damocles", perhaps. At anytime, if he finds her dangerous, he'll consider using the Department of Justice to just skin her. (Which, I don't hesitate to add, isn't how a Chief Executive should be using the Justice Dept. at all!)

Is it because they are military men that they get the pass? Conservatives? Is it because there's just this something about HRC that makes what might be considered "bucking the rules" or "making mistakes" for Flynn and Petraeus, a federal case about shadiness when it pertains to Hillary Clinton?

I don't know--it just looks like one hell of a double standard.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump's Twitter is A Problem

The above graphic represents a Twitter exchange that happened basically right now where Trump is berating a CNN reporter and also retweeting a 16-year old, while depicting Hillary Clinton as having lost in a landslide (which isn't what the popular vote says), alleging voter fraud (with no proof) and maintaining that CNN as a network was 100% supportive of Clinton despite having Jeffrey Lord and Corey Lewandowski on regularly who were totally supportive of Donald Trump.

That's a whole lot of really not-vetted spontaneous and ill-advised communication. People accustomed to working in government, or even who just really care about the public relations aspect of their own brand, don't perform publically in this way. Privately, individuals have freedom of speech--but the choice in how to use one's freedom to speak becomes complicated with the level of responsibility one carries.

You know--for example if one represented the leadership of an entire country, the indispensable nation for the free world. Or something like that.

Now, Trump has not yet been inaugurated, but having somehow won despite that massive voter fraud he believes was perpetrated against him, maybe he should think about getting his social media shit together a little bit? And if he wants to post on his Twitter timeline that there's no valid proof that "Trump" wasn't facing "millions of FRAUD votes" against him, maybe he could put up or shut up by petitioning for a recount himself in VA, NH, and wherever the hell else he thinks he got diddled.

Otherwise, he just seems like he came in second in a dick-measuring contest to a girl and has lost his mind over it. Not a good look. Sad!

(And if there is absolutely no one on his campaign/transition staff who has let him know how bad the optics are--really? Malpractice! He's an outsider and has his own rules and doesn't know--but someone has to let him know, right?)

Former Rep. Joe Walsh is Very Entertaining

Or he would continue to be about the money changers in the temple and turning the other cheek and be totally accepting of what His Father's children needed for comfort and healing because he too was persecuted and oppressed? Also, he would continue to share loaves and fishes because he being a Son of Man hungered also. And the sharing of meals would be the sharing of his body, because the creation of the Father was for all of us. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Nothing--the world is nothing you can keep, your soul is all you have.)

I'm an atheist and got this much catechism down. Bro, do you even lift Scripture?

This Argument is Not Very Good

In response to the recount effort initiated by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, President-elect Donald Trump has been on something of a...roll. On one hand, he thinks the recount effort is a waste of money and time and feels pretty certain that he won, but then again, on the other side, he seems to think this thing where he lost the popular vote is definitely a sign of voter fraud. It's kind of alarming that he seems to be uncritically accepting of unfounded conspiracy theory about voter fraud from his very good friends at InfoWars. 

But it's also kind of a dumb argument is two respects: for one thing, if you're trying to say that a recount is a perfectly stupid waste of time, maybe it isn't so smart to suggest that the actual vote tabulation is basically false--which really suggests further investigation should be required? But for another, wouldn't it be really awkward if there was a vote-rigging conspiracy so incredibly clever that it escaped detection despite mobilizing millions of illegal voters--but distributed those voters in states like California which was already Hillary country and failed to cover the spread in key swing states? What kind of moron Machiavellis does he take the Left for?

Leaving the issue of whether there's any factual basis for his Tweets aside, is this actually presidential? Conspiracy theory, poor sportsmanship, casting doubt on the electoral system that, by the way, declared him a winner? I just don't get what he's about, unless this isn't even strategic and is just some kind of lashing out. (Why no, I don't really think he does sleight of hand "Twitter War!!!" distractions to divert media coverage away from bad news like his many, many business conflicts of interest. It just looks that way because he sleeps like, two hours a night and hits social media up like a an attention junkie. That and there just actually is always other bad news that needs to be distracted from. )

But really, as I said before, if he truly, really, legitimately won, a recount in one state or any number of them doesn't stop him from putting together a cabinet and keeping on with the transition and getting intelligence briefings and all those good things.

It is really up to him what he does with his shot.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro Has Finished His Speech

The revolutionary who became a dictator of Cuba has died. His speech has ended. Clap, you buggers.

Clap for the people he silenced. Clap for the harm he had done to his people. Clap for the exiles and the refugees. Clap for the self-aggrandizement. An era there is nearly over. He chose quite a year to die. But he has. And something must come after Castro. Something more democratic and free. Fidel Castro hung over the recent history of Cuba like some heavy pot lid. But the lid is off.

My condolences to those who mourn him, but my best wishes for those who are creating a better post-Castro future for Cuba.