Monday Reads: Unwanted Ivanka and “Je ne suis pas amusé” LegardPosted: July 1, 2019
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
Just when you think the Trump Family Crime Syndicate couldn’t embarrass the country any more we get another command performance at the G-20. Ivanka Trump showed up in what looked like a pink nightie (it reportedly cost about $4500) and barged unwanted into circles, conversations, and pictures with World leaders. Democratically elected Presidents and PMs got Ivanka. Dictators got the Russian Potted Plant. C’est la guerre.
The abiding image from this year’s G20 summit will not be Donald Trump sharing another chuckle with Vladimir Putin. It is the clip of his daughter, Ivanka, inserting herself into an awkward circle of world leaders.
The video, released by the French government, shows varying expressions of tortured politeness as Ms Trump intrudes on a discussion between France’s Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF. Ms Lagarde, in particular, was unable to conceal her irritation.
What they were discussing is secondary. Mr Macron made a point about social justice. Mrs May replied that people notice when the economy is brought into it. Ms Trump then interrupted with a non sequitur about how the defence industry is male-dominated. The real point is that America’s self-named “First Daughter” is rarely out of the frame at global summits. Other Trump officials are almost invisible compared with Ms Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, the only two White House players who are thought to be immune from Mr Trump’s trademark phrase: “You’re fired.”
By contrast, leaders of patrimonial countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are very comfortable with Ms Trump’s role. Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, conducts much of his US communication over WhatsApp with Mr Kushner. The first son-in-law is also a favoured conduit for other leaders. Rex Tillerson, the former US secretary of state, recently disclosed that he had found out his Mexican counterpart was in Washington when he stumbled across him dining with Mr Kushner.
The absolute audacity of all these displays of nepotism, despot adoration, and stupidity just shows how low we’ve fallen in a few short years. The WAPO and writer Ann Gearan put it this way: “‘Surreal’: Ivanka Trump plays a prominent role in her father’s historic Korea trip”. I call it insulting to every woman that ever had to earn her way to the top with degrees, jobs, and personal skills that exponentially pass all of her peers.
Few Americans alive today have set foot inside North Korea, the isolated, nuclear-armed dictatorship sometimes called the Hermit Kingdom.
On Sunday, Ivanka Trump became one of them, capping a consequential three-day Asian trip in which the president’s eldest daughter played a very public role that blended family ties with diplomatic work that is usually performed by diplomats.
She pronounced the short walk to the other side of one of the world’s most fortified borders “surreal.”
Previously, at the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan, Ivanka Trump was everywhere — at her father’s side at times when other leaders’ spouses were present (first lady Melania Trump skipped the trip), in meetings where her presence puzzled other participants, and even giving an awkward video “readout” of Trump’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another video of Ivanka Trump talking with British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde at the G-20 also went viral over the weekend. Lagarde’s impatient side-eye as Ivanka Trump interjects in what appears to have been a back-and-forth between Macron and May suggested irritation at finding herself standing alongside the daughter of the U.S. president — rather than the president himself.
“As soon as you charge them with that economic aspect of it, a lot of people start listening who otherwise wouldn’t listen,” May can be heard saying, as Lagarde nods in agreement.
“And the same with the defense side of it, in terms of the whole business that’s been, sort of, male-dominated,” Ivanka Trump then says, as a startled-looking Lagarde turns toward her, then purses her lips.
The first daughter’s prominence in Japan and South Korea appeared to be by design — a sign of her influence with President Trump and the current absence of influential opponents within the administration.
It’s not clear, however, to what end.
This led to some surreal fun last night on twitter. The HuffPo notes:”‘Unwanted Ivanka’ Is The Latest Meme After *That* Awkward G20 Video.The president’s daughter tried to insert herself into a conversation between world leaders and it ended in… ridicule.” The most unreal moment is that of her actually sitting next to her father in her Princess Jasmine nightgown ($4500) flirting happily with him while every other leader of the G20 looks quite hostile, put out, and disgusted.
Enjoy yourself some “Unwanted Ivanka” photoshop play! Then watch Sarah Kendzior talk about how far off the rails our country has gone with Trumpism.
This is from New York Magazine: Trump’s G20 Trip Was a Victory for Dictators.
When Trump wasn’t posing for smiling snapshots with this all-star cast of brutal dictators, he was taking potshots at real U.S. allies like Europe and Japan. Prior to the summit, he said Europe “treats us worse than China” and repeated his talking point about NATO members not paying their fair share of costs, while also somehow claiming credit for the fact that NATO still exists at all. His talks with European leaders at the G20 were friendly enough, but seemed to skirt around the heaviest issues weighing on the American-European alliance.
On Saturday, he dropped another pointless bombshell, saying he had told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the post-World War II security treaty between the U.S. and Japan would need to be rewritten because it was unfair to the U.S. in that it commits the U.S. to defend Japan but not vice-versa. (The New York Times’ Gary Bass explains why this is absurd, even by Trump’s standards). Withdrawing from the pact would mean pulling large numbers of U.S. forces out of Asia at an extremely bad time, which means it’s a total nonstarter with the Pentagon and has little to no chance of actually happening. All Trump accomplishes by picking this fight is insulting a longstanding ally and signaling to China and North Korea that this security alliance is negotiable.
To be sure, Trump isn’t the only reason why authoritarianism is on the rise in rich and middle-income countries. Putin’s dark assessment that Western liberalism has failed and will soon fade from this earth has an element of truth to it, and Trump is much more a consequence than a cause of that failure. Yet it is impossible to feel good about the future of liberal democracy around the world when the president of the United States consistently praises and accommodates its enemies, such that the U.S. is no longer seen as reliably on the side of the angels.
Well, we already have Gulags for children at the border. Add to that the fact that our democracy is dying then read this Third Reichish request: “Trump asks for military tanks on the Mall as part of grandiose July Fourth event.”
National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith faces plenty of looming priorities this summer, from an $11 billion backlog in maintenance needs to natural disasters like the recent wildfire damage to Big Bend Park.
But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith’s attention: how to satisfy President Trump’s request to station tanks or other armored military vehicles on the Mall for his planned Fourth of July address to the nation.
The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as a prop for Trump’s “Salute to America” is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.
Trump — who has already ordered up a flyover by military aircraft including Air Force One — is also interested in featuring an F-35 stealth fighter and involvement from Marine Helicopter Squadron One, which flies the presidential helicopter, two government officials aid. The Navy’s Blue Angels were supposed to have a break between a performance in Davenport, Iowa on June 30 and one in Kansas City, Mo. on July 6, but will now be flying in D.C. on the Fourth.
Paging Republican Deficit Hawks? Wasteful Government spending clean up on Aisle Trump!!!
A number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.
The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.
We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.
It’s a hard sell to make for one very simple reason: It doesn’t have a name, this thing the Republicans are trying to do. It’s not true democracy that they want. But it’s also a bit much to call them outright authoritarians. And there’s nothing in between.
We need only look to the Supreme Court and notice this: “The Supreme Court, gerrymandering, and the Republican turn against democracy.A bigger threat to American democracy than Donald Trump.” This was written by Zack Beauchamp at Vox.
The Supreme Court’s Thursday morning ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause amounts to a blank check for partisan gerrymandering. Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion holds that federal courts should not have the power to declare particular maps unconstitutional, as doing so would be “unprecedented expansion of judicial power … into one of the most intensely partisan aspects of American political life.”
What this means, in practice, is that local authorities get to decide on the shape of House and state legislative districts. Parties that control statehouses will be freer to not only cement their own hold on power but ensure that their party sends more representatives to Washington as well.
While Republicans and Democrats both gerrymander, there is no doubt that Republicans do it more and more shamelessly. North Carolina Rep. David Lewis, who helped draw one of the maps at issue in Rucho, was admirably honest about his motives in a 2016 statehouse speech.
“I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” he explained. “So I drew this map in a way to help foster what I think is better for the country.”
This principle — that Republicans believe their rule is better and are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they take and hold power — does not merely lead to gerrymandering. It has produced a whole host of undemocratic actions, at both state and federal levels, that amount to a systematic threat to American democracy. Indeed, some of the best scholarship we have on American democracy suggests that this is even more alarming than it sounds; that it fits historical patterns of democratic backsliding both in the United States and abroad.
In her dissent to Roberts’s ruling, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that “gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government.” I’d take it a step further.
The Court’s ruling in Rucho reveals that there’s a threat to American democracy more subtle and yet greater than the Trump presidency: the Republican Party’s drift toward being institutionally hostile to democracy.
The Court’s ruling permits a systematic attack on democracy
Partisan gerrymandering is, on its face, an obviously anti-democratic practice. State legislators pack large numbers of voters from the opposing party into a handful of legislative districts, thus ensuring their voters dominate the bulk of districts and hand them a majority. It gives their supporters’ votes more weight, a direct violation of the core democratic principles relating to equal citizenship and representation.
We can look no further than to our know-nothing President and his Russian mentor for clues. This is from New York Magazine. “Trump Thinks Putin’s Attack on ‘Western-Style Liberalism’ Was About California.”
Putin was expressing a broadly fashionable argument that he has promoted for years, and that has recently taken hold among reactionaries in several Western countries, including the United States. Their critique is not of liberalism in the sense of the American center-left tradition identified with the Democratic party, but the longer historical tradition of liberalism that emerged from the theories of John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and other traditional philosophers whose beliefs created the foundation for democratic government. Most graduates of an elite college who took any humanities courses would have some rough familiarity with their work, which is a cornerstone of what’s called a “liberal education.” The “West,” of course, refers to Europe and the United States, where liberal ideas first took hold.
Trump did not recognize this debate at all. Instead, he concluded that “the west” means California, and “liberalism” means the Democratic Party.
Believing Putin had criticized life in California rather than America’s philosophy of government, Trump explained that, yes, Putin is correct that things are terrible in cities in California (“he does see things that are happening in the United States that would probably preclude him from saying how wonderful it is.”) But, Trump added, this is the fault of the Democrats, not him. He then assured reporters he’s not offended, because Putin has congratulated him on the overall state of the American economy.
Trump’s riff encapsulates the comic and sinister aspects of his political rise. As demographic change has made the U.S. population more progressive, Republicans have embraced more authoritarian methods to preserve their minority rule. Just this week, Florida Republicans imposed a poll tax to prevent enfranchised former prisoners from exercising their right to vote.
Trump himself is an instinctive authoritarian. He demands subservience, identifies himself completely with the state, denies the right of journalists to criticize him, believes he has the right to start or stop any prosecution at his discretion, refuses to acknowledge Congress’s right to conduct any oversight of his administration, and praises foreign dictators for their strength. Bonding with Putin, Trump joked at their shared disdain for independent media. “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?” Trump said. “You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress have nothing better to do than lie in wait to attack Mueller and the Russia Investigation. This is from Natasha Bertrand writing for Politico.
Democrats have been dying to hear directly from special counsel Robert Mueller for months, but they’re not alone. President Donald Trump’s GOP allies in Congress are salivating at the chance to bruise Mueller’s reputation and cast doubt on the integrity of his work.
Mueller’s intensely anticipated July 17 testimony will bring him face to face with the Republican lawmakers who have savaged his reputation and called him the ringleader of a “coup” against Trump. While Democrats attempt to squeeze morsels of new information out of the notoriously tight-lipped investigator, these Trump defenders are signaling that they’ll use the historic moment to try to undercut his credibility and paint him as a political pawn in Democrats’ efforts to undermine the president.
“He’s done some irreparable damage to some things and he’s got to answer for them,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, one of 25 Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees who get to grill Mueller during the back-to-back hearings.The Texas congressman added that his reading of the special counsel’s report did little to temper his long history of animosity for the former FBI director: “It reinforced the anal opening that I believe Mueller to be.”
Many House Republicans on the committees set to interview him have actually supported Mueller in the past, even if they’ve criticized his Russia investigation; they’ve sought to separate the man — a senior Justice Department appointee dating to the George H.W. Bush administration and Marine Corps veteran — from the probe.
But Mueller will also face a grilling from Trump’s top Republican allies in Congress, including Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Devin Nunes (Calif.) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.). They intend to press him on long-held articles of Trumpian faith: that Mueller’s team was biased against the president from the start and that the Russia investigation was tainted by inappropriate surveillance.
It seriously amazes me that Louie Gohmert has not gone off with those nice young man in their clean white coats yet for an extended stay. The Daily Beast says they will focus on those two FBI agents who fucked each other. Like the Republicans should pearl clutch about that.
Republican lawmakers, as well as prominent allies and legal advisers to this president, want to turn it into a hostile referendum on the nexus of the “deep state” and sexual dalliance and infidelity—which is to say that they want to use Mueller’s testimony to zero in on the duo that President Trump has repeatedly slammed as “the FBI lovers.”
What the hell is this shit? And why can’t we focus on this? Recognize the Nobility Clause of the US Constitution?
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
The Framers’ intentions for this clause were twofold: to prevent a society of nobility from being established in the United States, and to protect the republican forms of government from being influenced by other governments. In Federalist No. 22, Alexander Hamilton stated, “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” Therefore, to counter this “foreign corruption” the delegates at the Constitutional Convention worded the clause in such a way as to act as a catch-all for any attempts by foreign governments to influence state or municipal policies through gifts or titles
We’re coming up on the celebration of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence of which I am the descendant of six signers of that Document and I can tell you my family takes our heritage on this very seriously. Two of my ancestors signed the US Constitution. Members of my family have fought in every war on the right side of the Republic since the Revolution.
We’ve get some idiot president’s idiot daughter acting like an heir apparent in a Princes Jasmine Nightie (at $4500) who can’t find her way around a cogent economics discussion because she HAS NO FUCKING CLUE OR QUALIFICATIONS. We have the Russian Potted Plant saying Russia go ahead and collude with me again on TV. We have evidence that the desire for planting Hotels with his name on it in countries run by a despot is his priority. Can we please get some fucking oversight here and maybe a damned impeachment on the road?
So, I leave you something uplifting. Here’s a parade that represents what American is about and a candidate I believe that will uphold it in a Levis Jacket that probably didn’t cause the annual food expense of your normal family of four.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?