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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – Tulsa Edition, June 22, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Trump Tulsa loyalist – photo by: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

(Blogging for the rest of the week will be light and variable, as Wrongo and Ms. Right embark on our first trip since COVID entered our lives)

Wrongo’s initial reaction to the smaller-than-expected crowd in Tulsa on Saturday was that quite a few Trump supporters actually had common sense, despite what they might have said to the press about COVID.

CNN said the venue estimated that 6,200 people were in the arena. The blue section where the lone Trump supporter above is seated, is the highest level of the arena. It holds 9,000, and was largely vacant. Despite that, the Trump campaign said that 12,000 went through the metal detectors.

Wrongo was wrong about the Trumpets. It turned out that teenage users of TikTok were behind the early huge crowd estimates by the campaign:

“TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank.”

And the NYT reports there’s a story behind the story:

“Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, said she had been watching black TikTok users express their frustration about Mr. Trump hosting his rally on Juneteenth. (The rally was later moved to June 20.) She “vented” her own anger in a late-night TikTok video on June 11 — and provided a call to action. ‘I recommend all of those of us that want to see this 19,000-seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now, and leave him standing there alone on the stage’….When she checked her phone the next morning…the video was starting to go viral. It has more than 700,000 likes, she added, and more than two million views.”

This will be spun many ways over the next few days, but a few days ago, the campaign claimed the equivalent of a quarter of Oklahoma’s population had requested a ticket. Today, they blamed invisible Antifa’s for both the cancellation of the planned overflow outdoor speech, and that the indoor venue was not even half full.

This shows how far the Trump campaign has to go in the next 132 days.

Today’s real topic is AG Barr’s firing of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Geoffrey Berman. First, Berman was asked to resign, and he refused to comply. Then Barr said that Trump had fired Berman, so Berman then agreed to leave.

Wrongo has no position on Berman’s worth as a federal prosecutor. He was the Assistant US Attorney for the SDNY while Rudy Giuliani was the US Attorney. He later became a partner at the law firm, Greenberg Traurig. Still later, Rudy Giuliani also joined Greenberg Traurig.

The SDNY has pursued a series of highly visible cases that are Trump-adjacent. It handled the arrest and prosecution in 2018 of Michael D. Cohen. Then there was the indictment last year of a state-owned bank in Turkey. Turkish president Erdogan wanted Trump to quash the investigation. Bolton’s book says Trump promised Erdogan that he would get rid of the current leadership of SDNY, and then they’d “take care of it.”

Berman also has an inquiry into Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Berman’s dismissal seems to be either questionable judgment, or an effort to obstruct ongoing investigations. We’re way past the point of optics. Trump and Barr are in a scramble to do ANYTHING to get re-elected. Their hope is to keep the conspiracy going for four more years.

And their latest effort, to short-circuit the ongoing criminal investigations of Trump’s affiliates and associates, is only the most recent evidence. If Barr continues down this road, he will make John Mitchell, Nixon’s disgraced attorney general, who did time for his transgressions, look like a man of principle.

When Barr was up for Senate confirmation, he was the old Washington hand everyone respected and who, we were assured, had nothing but respect for the law. Now it’s clear that he’s someone who had a pedigree and the right connections, but no moral center.

Trump plans to replace Berman with the head of the SEC, Jay Clayton. Clayton is a lawyer who doesn’t have any criminal experience. His former client, Deustche Bank, is party to a Trump tax return case that is before the Supreme Court.

Time to Wake up America! None of Trump’s people have a moral center. We have a few weeks remaining to register and turn out voters in such overwhelming numbers that these bastards are thrown out of office.

To help you wake up, consider this quote from John Adams:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

And right now, we have a government without ethics or morals.

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Tillerson Replaced By Pompeo

The Daily Escape:

South Africa – 2012 photo by Wrongo. (Or it might be another member of the administration heading for the door)

Rex Tillerson is updating his resume and Mike Pompeo is adding to his. NPR reminds us that Pompeo already had an outstanding resume:

He graduated at the top of his class at West Point. He served as a tank officer in Europe. He went to Harvard Law School. He was a corporate lawyer who launched a successful aerospace business. He got elected to Congress as a Tea Party Republican from Kansas in 2010. For more than a year, he has run the CIA.

Now, assuming he gets confirmed by the Senate, he can add Secretary of State (SoS) at the top of the page. The LA Times reports that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expects to hold confirmation hearings on Pompeo’s nomination as SoS next month, and he should win bipartisan support. In January 2017, the full Senate confirmed him as CIA director by a vote of 66 to 32.

Here’s what we know about Pompeo. NPR quotes Ian Bremmer, of the Eurasia Group:

Pompeo is very much a hard-liner on issues of national security, broadly…He’s smart, but he’s also quite bombastic, and that plays well with Trump. But that doesn’t necessarily support a balanced national security policy.

Pompeo recently said that the US would not soften its stance on North Korea ahead of planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump. Pompeo has previously suggested he favors regime change in North Korea, although he has backed off that recently, suggesting that diplomatic and economic pressure could help resolve the nuclear crisis.

Pompeo is a harsh critic of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Colonel Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis gives some additional background on Pompeo’s experience at West Point, noting that: (brackets by Wrongo)

He concentrated his study there in Mechanical Engineering and graduated first in his class. By the time he graduated the war in VN [Vietnam] was over. He served just enough time to repay his service debt to the army, then resigned his commission to go to law school. So, he never served in combat. War is an abstraction to him. In other words, this is probably a game for Pompeo, a power game played on a global map board.

Lang also noted that Pompeo holds both hard line anti-Iranian views and has unshakable sympathy for Israel. We can only guess whether Tillerson played a role in restraining Trump’s poorer angels, and whether Pompeo will support them. Lang feels that Tillerson’s ouster leaves General Mattis at the Defense Department as the only adult in the room, and that it makes a conflict with Russia in Syria much more likely.

Wrongo had almost no opinion of Tillerson, except that his global deal-making gave him an interesting perspective on how to get things done as SoS. Tillerson seemed to be a moderate on Iran, so Pompeo seems worse on that score. Tillerson was also more likely to call out Russia than are Trump or Pompeo. Mostly, Tillerson seemed directionless, other than having a vague commitment to cutting back the State Department’s overheads. Perhaps whatever direction he tried to establish was countered by his boss.

Some who voted for Trump thought they were getting a CEO who knew how to run a business. One way you can tell whether a company is managed well is by how high their turnover is.

Or, by how well they handle money.

Or, how they stay on message.

Or, how individuals are empowered to do their jobs, without micro-management.

Trump doesn’t celebrate steady progress, he likes churn.

So, churn is what we have.

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Saturday Soother – February 18, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(Home library, Dallas TX)

It’s Saturday, and Wrongo wishes he was sitting in that beautiful 5,000 book home library, drinking a Grande Chai Latte, listening to music, and distracted from the world at large.

But reluctantly, Wrongo watched some of Trump’s press conference on Thursday (transcript and video here). His presentation style is obnoxious. He adds opinions and adjectives to everything that he, or anyone else says. The point is that he NEEDS to tell you that his shit is great, and yours stinks.

He has memorized a list of both positive and negative adjectives, and he fires them in volleys as he speaks. He said that he has made “incredible progress” so far. Every new POTUS claims to make progress on something in the early weeks, but generally, they leave it to the media and public to evaluate the claim. Trump however, gives us the first glowing review of his work, and if possible, the first negative review of his opponents.

This is highly problematic for fact-based observers, because they have to evaluate not only “progress” but “incredible progress”

He is willing to lie about things that a ten year old could fact check. A lot of his shtick is a continuation of his basic campaign speech, and nobody needs to waste time refuting that BS. We can just roll our eyes, and move on.

However, we should be very concerned about how completely he controlled the press conference. It seemed to Wrongo that the press corps acted in a less than first-rate manner when on their feet. They had few sharp or pointed questions, and they allowed Trump to repeatedly call them out for trading in fake news.

Why didn’t anyone point out that the slow confirmation process for Cabinet positions is due mostly to Trump naming his appointees late, followed by submitting the required paperwork slowly?

Trump gets away with his whining because the press spends time trying to play “gotcha” with the Jedi Master of gotcha: Did you see what he did to Rep. Elijah Cummings? They should be exposing that half of what Trump thinks he knows is wrong. But he sure knows how to hold a press conference, and we should probably expect him to do more of them than any previous POTUS.

The Trumpets like the notion that he’s going to “Shake things up“, but he plans to go well beyond shaking things up. For example, he wants to change the balance of power with the other two branches, and it appears that many of his supporters actually want that to happen.

It he pulls that off, say bye-bye democracy.

Wrongo gets incensed when powerful people attack the weak and vulnerable. He believes in the importance and value of facts and rational thought. But Trump, and his so-called mainstream Republican buddies keep moving farther and farther away from these values.

We could try to look at each lie or obfuscation in Trump’s press conference, but something is lost when you look at the trees rather than the forest.

And its Trump’s forest of total bullshit that needs to be chopped down by what remains of the independent media.

Enough! It’s Saturday, and we need to kick back and relax. Here is Anne-Sophie Mutter playing “Méditation”, which is a symphonic intermezzo from the opera Thaïs by French composer Jules Massenet. The piece is written for solo violin and orchestra. The opera premiered in Paris in 1894:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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February 16, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(London library during the Blitz)

Politico reports that President Trump has actually done little since entering office despite White House aide Stephen Miller’s bragging on the Sunday Pundits:

We have a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration.

That simply isn’t true, but the thrust of the article is that, when you tune out the noise coming from the White House, very little has actually happened. From Politico:

So far, Trump has behaved exactly like he has throughout his previous career: He has generated intense attention and sold himself as a man of action while doing little other than promote an image of himself as someone who gets things done.

Sorry, but this is characteristic of the gleeful DC narrative that Trump is failing, that he’s bumping up against the institutional/Constitutional realities of Washington. This meme seems to repeat the same mistakes that smart people made during the campaign — misreading and underestimating Trump. They see him challenged on a few things and assume that since Trump thought he’d show up, wave a wand, and make things happen immediately, and is now stymied, therefore he must be frustrated. They presume that clashes with other branches of government, or with the unfawning press, or the “resistance” from the 52% that didn’t vote for him to begin with, has made him cool his jets.

Why should we think it upsets him that his first bolts out of the gate are stymied?

Wrongo thinks that so far, Trump is winning. His fights with what he calls “the Establishment” and the “fake news media” are a win from the perspective of the Trumpets. They figure that’s what he was sent to DC to do.

If he’s not trying to learn the ropes? That goes in the plus column. And if it’s reported that he shows impatience or impulsiveness? Plus column. To his base, the furor in the media makes the infuriated ones, and those who report it, seem like smug elitists, determined to enforce the status quo through the usual DC tactics.

Really, everything Politico says are problems for Trump are the opposite. He’s ginned up a national hissy fit over his ill-conceived Executive Order on immigration, while managing to mostly get his cabinet choices confirmed (sorry Mr. Pudzer) − a cabinet more radical and unqualified than any traditional Republican would dare to nominate.

Dems obsess over each offense and announce “resistance” but have no real strategy. They raise money but can do little, while being viewed as unseemly in Trump’s flyover country.

When the Republican obstruction to Obama took shape in 2008, they assumed a posture of cooperation, only to be “disappointed” by the “extreme” positions of the President. Rarely in Obama’s first term did they announce obstruction in advance of his actions. By his second term, Democrats had lost enough seats that they no longer had the ability to override Republican inertia, and the GOP’s naked obstruction was visible.

Now Democrats have fewer votes as a minority party than the GOP had in 2016, and have no way to block anything but the most obnoxious Trump moves, assuming that a few Senate Republicans join in the blockage.

Trump has no need to figure out or to get along with Washington — in fact, that’s the opposite of what he wants. He has staked his political fortune on an “own the mob” strategy — which worked just fine in November. He doesn’t need to deliver on his election promises. He needs to let Republicans push through the horrifying agenda they’ve salivated over for decades. And he will.

He needs a riled up Establishment to blame for any stymied efforts. This means the more cartoonish his behavior the better, as the Establishment will be all too happy to jump on his missteps.

Trump won’t suffer if he never comes up the learning curve.

The rest of us, the country, the world, will. We actually need things to work.

Here is Robert Cray with “Smoking Gun” recorded in 1986. With all the Trump people who seem to be on the wrong side of the CIA and FBI, it seems appropriate:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Sample Lyric:

I’m havin’ nasty nasty visions,

And baby you’re in every one.

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 12, 2017

Another week of the Trump administration is in the bag, just 205 weeks to go! No worries, they’ll make great progress in destroying the country while hurting our most vulnerable. Here is this week’s example:

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) wants kids to learn early in life that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To make sure they absorb that lesson, he’s proposing that low-income children do some manual labor in exchange for their subsidized meals.

He’s remembering fellow Georgian Congressman Newt Gingrich who suggested in 2011 that poor kids work in schools replacing janitors:

Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools…

As Atrios said, many people think being born in the lucky sperm club makes you a better human being, and those who weren’t need to learn just how horrible and inferior they are because their parents are poor.

Who doesn’t want to see kids well-nourished? Republicans. Before Reagan, charitable works were a good thing, but now we know that helping folks out just makes them weak, and unable to contribute to society.

On to cartoons. Leave it to the GOP. We now need three cans for recycling:

Nordstrom’s decides on a new spring line:

Ivanka’s dad tries to measure up:

New Education Secretary Betsy DeVos loves vouchers:

Dems adopt Tea Party tactics by shouting down Congress Critters at Town Halls:

Trump says that busloads of fraudulent voters were the difference in NH Senate race:

Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton. On Thursday he told a group of senators that he lost because of the “thousands” of people “brought in on buses” from Massachusetts to “illegally vote” in New Hampshire. Former NH Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who lost in November was there.

It was reported by Politico that there was an “uncomfortable silence” in the room, and here’s why: If thousands means at least 3,000, and if a bus holds 50 people, that would be 60 buses rolling up US 93 or US 91 from Massachusetts to NH that nobody noticed.

Then came the cherry on top of Trump’s crumb cake: He told Democrats in the room (Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester) that he was glad “Pocahontas”, his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was “becoming the face of the Democrats.”

That’s sure to win friends among the Dems that he needs to help confirm Neil Gorsuch as a SCOTUS Justice.

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Saturday Soother – January 28, 2017

We’ve made it to Saturday, all the while trying to sort through the blizzard of executive orders issued by our Orange Overlord. As we cruise into the weekend, we need to reflect on Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. The Senate Judiciary Committee will probably vote on the nomination on Tuesday, after which it will go to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Wrongo agrees with Charlie Pierce:

At a moment like this one, it simply will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge 30 years ago. It will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who launched a dirty-tricks prosecution of voting-rights activists when he was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama. It will not do to have someone in the attorney general’s office who greeted the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by noting that it was “good for the South.”

Pierce says that no (zero) Democrats should vote for Sessions:

There is no room for compromise or horse-trading. The Democratic Party should stand for the expansion of the franchise and for a greater ease in exercising it.

Voting rights will be at risk if Sessions is confirmed. The AG will follow Trump’s lead and focus on a “voter fraud” investigation in the big liberal states and urban areas that do not vote Republican. This is something the right wing has been doing for years. From what Trump said this week to David Muir on ABC, he believes that the problem exists only in places he didn’t win. He told Muir that every one of the alleged 2 million to 3 million illegal votes went to Hillary Clinton.

If it isn’t clear by now, this is a powerful new national campaign of voter suppression coming down the road to a polling place near you. We don’t know at this point who will be heading Trump’s “investigation,” or what form it’s likely to take, but Jeff Sessions is just the man for the job.

We could also tell our Senators that they should not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos and Tom Price, but both will probably get a few Dem votes. Wrongo isn’t arguing for complete resistance as the only response to Trump, but we can’t appoint Sessions.

Will even a single Republican Senator have the backbone to vote against the president’s hand-picked bigot? The prospects are not heartening.

Glad that’s off of Wrongo’s chest. Time to grab a cup of Bengal Spice Chai tea, and mellow out with the Saturday Soother. Today we are going acapella with the University of North Carolina Clef Hangers. They have been around for 35 years, and have released 17 studio-produced albums. Here are the Clef Hangers doing “You Never Need Nobody”, a song by the Brooklyn NY-based The Lone Bellow:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Are Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson Soul Mates?

President Trump has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the oval office. Several of Trump’s spokespeople have heaped praise on Jackson, so Trump has picked Old Hickory as his populist role model.

Really? Did anyone on Trump’s staff even read the Cliffs Notes about Andrew Jackson? Here is the surface view:

A presidential candidate who strikes a wide range of observers, including leaders of his own party, as dangerously abrasive, arrogant, and racist. Partly because of those qualities, the candidate appeals stylistically to common-man voters who feel threatened by change, despite his being one of the super-rich himself. While this is Donald Trump in 2016, it also describes Andrew Jackson in the 1820s.

According to Benjamin Studebaker, when Jackson was elected, the accepted view was America needed strong economic growth to compete with Europe. Most thought the country needed to be industrialized quickly to turn us into an independent power. Tariffs should protect infant American industries from their established British competitors. Infrastructure investments should be directed towards transportation.

Jackson was uninterested in industrialization. He won the election because of slaveholding, agricultural states. The southern states had not industrialized, and they hated tariffs. Tariffs made British manufactured goods expensive, and made the price of Southern cotton uncompetitive. South Carolina attempted to nullify the tariffs, which led to tough talk and threats by Jackson to invade. But, ultimately, he signed legislation to reduce the South’s tariffs.

At the time, Jackson was praised for averting a violent confrontation, but his compromise left the issue of nullification unresolved. This eventually led to our Civil War.

The Second Bank of the United States (created by John Q. Adams, Jackson’s predecessor), was designed to stabilize prices and facilitate commerce. Jackson refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the US. Public monies were then directed to state banks, called “pet banks” since they were located in states that were Jackson’s core base of support. This deprived the industrial northeast of the investment funds it needed to grow.

The favored state banks began lending the new money feverishly, inflating land prices, and exposing the banks to undue risk.

Jackson blamed the resulting inflation on paper money, so he issued the “Specie Circular”, an executive order requiring all land purchases from the federal government to be made in gold and silver. This destroyed the value of the country’s paper currency, causing land prices to crash.

Executive orders can come back to bite you, Donald.

There is supreme irony that Jackson waged war on the Second Bank of United States, but he is on our $20 bill. Jackson found support for his economy policies among white men who felt threatened by changing from an agrarian to an industrial economy. But his war on the Bank, and the Democrats’ commitment to limited federal government helped propel the country into a four-year depression after the Panic of 1837.

Jackson created the spoils system. Thereafter, newly elected presidents would purge the civil service and hand out government jobs to friends, supporters, and even relatives. Jackson fired 10% of the federal workforce, replacing experienced hands with his buddies and lackeys. This practice continued for decades, ensuring that the federal government was consistently full of incompetents.

Jackson drained the swamp, and then recharged it with camp followers. Just like Trump!

Many on the right revere Jackson for the same reason they admire Donald Trump – he acts like a badass. Jackson killed people in duels. He spoke his mind. He may have rolled over on tariffs, but he used the word “treason” to describe South Carolina before he compromised. That made him seem tough.

The Right lets Jackson’s tough manner obscure the reality, that often he had little notion of the consequences of his actions. He sank the country’s economy for a decade, and handed its civil service over to generations of mismanagement.

A reappraisal of Jackson’s presidency forces us to look at the now-infamous policy of Indian Removal, whereby Jackson approved the confiscation of Native lands and then forcibly evicted them to the far West. He ignored John Marshall’s Supreme Court ruling that his Removal policy was unconstitutional.

He thought those in the abolitionist movement were traitors. His Postmaster General suppressed their mailings, and his party passed the Gag Rule in 1836 suppressing all antislavery petitions and discussion in Congress.

Trump’s new Gag Rule on Abortion limits the funding of global family planning providers if in any aspect of their work, they recommend, discuss, or even mention abortions to clients.

In most ways, it’s a fool’s errand to compare Trump to Andrew Jackson. Although there are gross similarities, Trump isn’t Jackson. Jackson was a military hero, but a failure at national policy. Trump has no heroic resume, and the jury is out on the success of his national policy.

For one thing, Trump confuses military school with military service.

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Monday Wake Up Call – December 19, 2016

Wrongo can’t lie, Democrats are in dire straits, and are barely able to put up any sort of defense against the coming Trump disaster. Obama will not save us. Schumer and Pelosi have no clue how to save us. We’re going to have to do the hard work to build a foundation strong enough to get back in the game, and that’s going to mean lots of time, resources, and people willing to spend them effectively.

Speaking of effective spending: Politico reports that the Trump campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan. Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign.

In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.

“It’s math,” Kushner said. Apparently, Hillary Clinton turned down a similar offer by Sinclair.

El Jefe appointed Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, and a budget hawk. It will be interesting to see how Mulvaney reacts if Trump really planned to spend a quarter-trillion dollars on infrastructure. Mulvaney was a leading player in the debt ceiling fights.

Here are a few reactions:

Or, this from Lizzie O’Leary, a reporter for NPR’s Marketplace:

Another Trump appointment was Monica Crowley, Fox commentator, to be senior director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council. Crowley sent this tweet in October:

She apparently has no clue about the Berlin Wall, the purpose of which WAS TO KEEP PEOPLE INSIDE. CNN reported that Crowley repeatedly pushed an unfounded conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin has ties to Islamic extremists. Now she will be on the inside, influencing the National Security Council. But, on the plus side, Trump’s draining the Fox News swamp of one of its morons.

We have our first capture of the Trump administration, and it is Donald himself. Even by Republican standards, some of these picks are embarrassingly bad (We mean you, Michael Flynn). He is now completely in thrall with the hard right members of the GOP. Within a few months, there won’t be even nominal opposition to Trump from within the Republican Party.

So, time to wake up America! You need to roll up your sleeves and get to work building a party that can defeat the hard right. It might not be the Democrats.

Fortunately, you get a hall pass until New Year’s Day.

To help you relax about the horrible things that you can’t control, here is Affinití, an Irish group of three women who play a fusion of classical, Celtic and rock music. They have a Kickstarter that you may want to support. Here is Affinití with “Oh, Holy Night”:

Consider yourselves soothed.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 18, 2016

Wrongo had hoped to avoid writing about the Russian email hacking, but it seems that it is all that the pundits will talk about. The argument is that Russia interfered in the US election, and the intervention gave the election to Trump. The drumbeats have gotten louder as Monday’s Electoral College voting looms.

Mainstream TV news anchors are reporting with indignation, and as fact, that Russia (specifically Vladimir Putin) not only sought to influence the US election and promote “doubt” about the whole legitimacy of the US electoral system, but to throw the vote to Donald Trump.

The main accusation by the government is that the DNC and Podesta emails leaked through WikiLeaks were provided by state-backed Russian hackers, while no Republican materials were leaked. The leaked emails seemed to be genuine, since no complaints about the contents were made by the victims of the leaks.

The case against Russia is plausible, but many questions remain. Jeremy Scahill and Jon Schwarz of The Intercept have asked Obama to disclose the government’s secret evidence:

US intelligence agencies have repeatedly demonstrated that they regularly both lie and get things horribly wrong. In this case, they may well be correct, but they cannot expect Americans to simply take their word for it.

The current debate about Russia’s possible hacking is plagued by innuendo similar to what we saw in the McCarthy era. There is a disturbing trend emerging that dictates that if you don’t believe Russia hacked the election or if you simply demand evidence for this tremendously significant allegation, you must be a Trump apologist or a Soviet agent.

Wrongo is neither. The growing lack of trust in government and news media means that few of us know what to believe. It will take facts to make a case that this isn’t just more fake noos. Even if a few CIA or NSA secrets are made public.

Putin needs a password:

Are Putin and Trump running a con? From The Economist:

When asked about the hack by Obama, Putin said nothing:

Trump picks Rick Perry:

Trump helps make coal great again:

Trump offers presents for the rest of us:

 

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