Friday Reads: The Nadir of American Life and Influence (e.g. We’re all Gonna Die)Posted: March 23, 2018
Well, Sky Dancers, it’s just getting more difficult to explain what’s going on in the USA. The Republican Party has been completely captured by a Criminal Enterprise beholden to Vladimir Putin backed by End Time Cultists and led by completely clueless, self-dealing Oligarchs. We’re now seeing a return of the War Criminals. I’m not sure how much worse it can get. As Jonathan Chait succinctly puts it, “Nobody Is Left to Save the World From Trump Now”.
The people who joined the government to save Donald Trump from himself, or to save the world from Trump, are leaving. Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson are gone. Trump is reorganizing his legal team, mobilizing for war against the special counsel. And now he has finally cast off his most important minder, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and replaced him with John Bolton.
Bolton is in some ways the foreign-policy analogue of his domestic counterpart, Lawrence Kudlow, the incoming head of the National Economic Council. Like Kudlow, Bolton is a true-believing ideologue firmly encamped on his party’s right flank, who appears regularly on Fox News to propound ultrasimplistic solutions to the world’s problems, which Trump can easily grasp on his sofa. Also like Kudlow, Bolton has given every indication of being personally committed to Trump, and has not condescended to him.
The difference, however, is that Kudlow’s kooky ideas have little chance of enactment given the tenuous Republican control of Congress. Bolton’s foreign-policy notions can be quickly operationalized, given the near-total command the Executive branch has over foreign policy. What’s more, those ideas have the potential to kill large numbers of people.
The Republican party is captured by Trump’s base which is basically an end times cult of religious fanatics. It is not only supercharged by white identity politics and white grievance but represents an extremist religious cult that actively seeks THE big end. They see climate change as a sign the mothership is coming for them. They do not seek a continuation of anything but being hyperfocused on removing what offends them while they actively work to make all life a brief an interim as possible.
John Bolton is as much a mad man as KKKremlin Caligula himself. He’s known for terrorizing people who disagree with him with threats and outbursts rivaling the monster in the oval office. He also is one of the few people who think the war in Iraq was a good thing. He supports pre-emptive strikes in both North Korea and Iran. He’s not just a War Hawk on steroids. He’s the Angel of Death.
President Donald Trump finally jettisoned National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Thursday afternoon. His replacement is John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations in the Bush administration — and one of the most radically hawkish voices in American foreign policy.
Bolton has said the United States should declare war on both North Korea and Iran. He was credibly accused of manipulating US intelligence on weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war and of abusive treatment of his subordinates. He once “joked” about knocking 10 stories off the UN building in New York. That means his new appointment to be the most important national security official in the White House has significant — and frightening — implications for Trump’s approach to the world.
Bolton’s new job was announced on Thursday evening, when the president tweeted that McMaster planned to resign and Bolton would replace him. “I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, [John Bolton] will be my new National Security Advisor,” the president wrote.
Bolton had been rumored to be the frontrunner for the job for months, but that doesn’t make the pick any less jarring. His track record in government, connections to anti-Muslim groups, and stated views in op-eds and public speeches all suggest that he will push Trump to take extremely dangerous positions on issues like North Korea, Iran, and ISIS.
“I operate on the assumption that John Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible,” says Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I think I would rest easy if he was dog catcher in Stone Mountain, Georgia. But maybe not.”
Bolton’s elevation illustrates the degree to which the president is influenced by the conservative infotainment sphere, most notably Fox News — where he has long been an on-air fixture. Bolton was, prior to this appointment, a marginal figure in Washington foreign policy circles since his departure from the Bush administration. But he got himself one of the top jobs in the country because of his savvy work in the world of conservative media and advocacy groups.
You read that right. We’re getting Fox Propaganda Pundits as advisers on the most significant policies we could enact. It’s so bad that lawyers are leaving. But wait, Dowd left, McGahn wants a sidewise promotion away from the West Wing.
President Donald Trump’s top White House lawyer, Don McGahn, is expected to step down later this year, though his resignation is contingent on the president finding a replacement and several other factors, according to four sources familiar with McGahn’s thinking.
McGahn, according to two of the sources, has signaled interest in returning to the Jones Day law firm where he previously worked and reprising a role he had during the 2016 campaign by handling legal matters for Trump’s reelection.
ut the exact timing for McGahn to make any move remains in flux. He’s told associates he’d like to leave the White House by the summer, but it could also be put on hold through the 2018 midterms.
Concerned about the velocity of turnover inside his White House and beyond — Trump personal lawyer John Dowd resigned on Thursday, and the president has made changes atop the State Department, CIA and the national security adviser slot — sources said Trump wants to have a new White House counsel in place who he’s comfortable with before clearing McGahn for the exits.
Who the fuck wants to re-elect this madman? Look no further than the white evangelical cultists. It’s them and no one else.
In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.
At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous.
But the miseducation of Donald Trump is endlessly on display to encourage them. No one wants educated workers, Trump insists. They want trained widgets.
President Trump loves vocational training. Community colleges? Not so much.
Trump on Thursday appeared at the “Generation Next” White House forum alongside Charlie Kirk, a conservative campus activist who heads Turning Point USA. In between talking up tax cuts and his administration’s work rolling back federal regulations, the president weighed in on the value of vocational training. And repeating a sentiment he expressed to a conference of conservative lawmakers last month, he again appeared to dismiss community colleges. As they did after his earlier remarks on those institutions, community college leaders said they showed the president was misinformed.
In the midst of answering a question from Kirk about tax cuts passed last year, Trump repeated an anecdote he tells frequently about a former classmate who was “not going to be Einstein academically” but could fix an engine or a motor blindfolded.
“But he’ll never be a student, nor did he want that kind of learning, that kind of whatever you want to call it,” Trump said. “So we need vocational schools. Now, they call them, a lot of times, community colleges. I don’t think it’s an accurate definition.”
The comment echoed a statement from February in which he complained to Republican lawmakers that many people don’t know what a community college “means or represents” and suggested that “vocational” is a preferable term. Those earlier remarks prompted several leaders in the community college sector to complain that Trump had taken an overly simplistic view of the mission of those institutions and downplayed the significant role they have in training students for new careers even as they prepare others to move on to four-year colleges.
The about-face comes a day after the White House had said Trump would sign the legislation despite his misgivings. The government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday if Trump does not sign a funding bill into law.
In a tweet, Trump said he is “considering a VETO” because the proposal does not extend protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants or fully fund his proposed border wall.
It’s just one thing after another that rattles investors and the nerves of those not seeking Armageddon.
U.S. stock-market indexes traded between small gains and losses on Friday, a day after equities plunged on the prospect of a global trade war as China fired its first retaliatory salvo against tariffs on at least $50 billion of Chinese goods announced by the Trump administration.
Investors sought shelter in gold and the Japanese yen, which was trading at its highest levels since the U.S. presidential election in 2016, after one of the worst days for Wall Street in weeks.
China stopped short of penalties on the biggest salvos in a potential trade war, leaving off soybeans, sorghum and Boeing BA, +1.83% aircraft, indicating Beijing may be looking for leverage in any negotiations with the U.S.
In one bright spot, the White House late Thursday formally approved tariff reprieves for the European Union plus six other nations, including Canada and Mexico.
It’s difficult for old ladies like me to handle all this unnecessary death and destruction. I may have to find a nice cave and settle in to paint animals.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?