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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Some Thoughts on Trump, Putin and the Summit

The Daily Escape:

The North Window, Monument Valley UT – 2016 photo by Dsdugan, CC BY-SA 4.0

(Wrongo and Ms. Right are heading for the hills, literally. We are spending the next few days in the Berkshires with another sub-set of our kids and grandkids. Blogging will be light. Expect the Monday Wake Up on Tuesday, 7/24.)

It’s time for Republicans to take off their MAGA ball caps. Via the WaPo:

Trump on Monday refused to support the collective conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin had given him an “extremely strong and powerful” denial during their private talks here….Trump went on to condemn the expansive federal investigation of Russian interference as “a disaster for our country” and “a total witch hunt,” arguing that the probe, along with “foolish” America policies, had severely impaired relations between the two countries.

It is a good thing for the US president to speak with the Russian President, they should do it face-to-face at least twice a year. We should get Russia back into the G-7 (it used to be the G-8 until Crimea). Wrongo isn’t one of these hardliners who insist on something impossible before a meeting, say having North Korea disarm before talking, or insisting that Putin return Crimea to Ukraine before inviting him back into the G-8.

Wrongo isn’t yet certain how far the Russians went to swing the election. He’s far from sure that the Trumpets played an active role in the Russians’ efforts. Wrongo doesn’t believe Trump’s actions amount to a treasonable offense, and desperately hopes that Democrats steer clear of saying anything like that.

Wrongo DOES know that the Trump/Putin press conference gave Robert Mueller much more job security.

But, we must demand much, much more from Republicans who observed the shit show of a press conference and say that they can do nothing. Politico Playbook got it just right:

REPUBLICANS TO THE WORLD: WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO? There was a general consensus in the Capitol yesterday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP thoroughly embarrassed the United States standing next to Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN on the world’s biggest stage.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-ARK.), a reliable Trump ally, criticized the president — albeit not by name. REP. WILL HURD, a Texas Republican who was a covert CIA operative before becoming a politician, told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in my career, and I never thought the U.S. president would be one of them.” SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), Trump’s golf buddy, even had choice words.

BUT, PRIVATELY, senior-level Republican aides and lawmakers had a second message: WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT US TO DO?

Republicans saying that they have “no idea what more we should be doing” means that they are cowards who are afraid to make the Redcap partisans in their party angry.

Let’s go back a few years. Obama signed the nuclear deal with Iran, effectively ending their nuclear program. Republicans in Congress disrespected the Democratic president’s foreign policy purview, and sent a letter to Iran, saying Obama didn’t know what he was doing. They added that the GOP Congress would unwind the deal as soon as they got the opportunity.

Now, with the GOP in control of the White House and Congress, Trump sells out America to Putin, yet THESE SAME Republicans have no idea what they can do about it.

None. Because, remember, foreign policy is the president’s purview, not theirs. They’re saying: “We’ve tried nothing, and we’re fresh out of ideas!”

They’d better figure something out. What if Dog forbid, Trump gets worse?

The mainstream news outlets are saying that: “Most Republicans condemned Trump’s press conference with Putin“. Next week, it will seem as if Republicans actually stood up to him on Russia.

Even though they’re really standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him.

What Democrats must continue to do is stay on message with voters that Trump is a clear and present danger, and that the GOP won’t do anything about it.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Peter Strzok Edition

If you had your fill of Trey Gowdy during the Benghazi hearings, you can be excused for vomiting if you watched the FBI’s Peter Strzok’s hearing last week.

In the hearing, the Republicans wanted to make America believe there was an FBI conspiracy to prevent Trump from being elected president. How did the FBI go about it? First, by mounting an investigation of what nearly everyone now acknowledges was a comprehensive effort by Russia to help Trump get elected. But then, the FBI kept that investigation completely secret from the public, to prevent news of it from affecting the outcome of the election.

You also have to set aside the fact that the Director of the FBI may have thrown the election to Trump when he violated FBI protocols, and announced 11 days before the election, that the Bureau was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the FBI engaged in a conspiracy, and the GOP’s claim is contradicted by everything the FBI actually did.

And so far, Republicans have not produced any evidence that Strzok, or anyone else, took any official action that was biased or inappropriate with respect to the Trump campaign.

Fake news, folks. But Gowdy’s committee managed to set a new low during their show trial of Strzok:

This is where we are: The American right have become Trumpers. The head Trumper is free to say and do whatever he likes, and so are his lackeys in Congress.

Today, there is no institutional check on Republicans, except another Republican, Bob Mueller. Ultimately all he can do is provide a report to Congress, which the Trumpers will ignore, regardless of the validity of any accusations it contains. The fate of the nation now hangs on the midterms. And since the electorate failed the country in 2016, we shouldn’t be too hopeful about the odds.

On to cartoons. Strzok tells it like it is:

Trump’s move to remake Supreme Court goes a little too far:

Trump’s new guardian is Judge Kavanaugh:

Trump was poorly received in UK:

Trump took on Germany at the NATO meeting. It wasn’t hard to know why:

Trump’s moving on to his Monday meeting with Putin:

The first Helsinki meeting will be very private:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 8, 2018

The trade war has started. Bloomberg has an interesting map that shows how Chinese retaliation is directed at creating political damage for Republicans in the mid-term election this November. Soybeans are among the largest targets for the Chinese, and here is how Congressional districts most affected break down by political party:

From Bloomberg: (edit and emphasis by Wrongo)

Of the 30 districts most reliant on soybeans, Republicans represent 25 and Democrats 5; all [30 districts] voted for Trump in 2016.

Bloomberg thinks this could hurt farm state Republicans in the midterms. Maybe. Wrongo will become a believer if it actually happens. These are Trump voters, they aren’t economics voters. Unless he revives DACA or creates a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship for a whole lot of people, Wrongo believes Trump is fireproof in farm country.

On to cartoons. Last week, Justice Kennedy retired, EPA head Scott Pruitt quit, and Secretary of State Pompeo met with North Korea, and it didn’t go well. Next week, Trump heads to Europe to meet with our NATO partners. He’s also meeting the Queen while in London. Then it’s off to his annual performance review with Mr. Putin.

When Kennedy hung up the robe, a few other things also got hung up:

Pruitt climbed out of the swamp:

Trump’s trade war and its potential to hurt the economy doesn’t bother the GOP so much:

Trump can’t wait for his really cool meeting:

Trump says nobody can attend the first hour of his meeting with Putin:

Trump misunderstood that what happened in Singapore was supposed to stay in Singapore:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 1, 2018

Welcome to Sunday. It’s beastly hot in the Northeast of the US. Three things to help you cool off: Did you realize that the Trump/Putin Summit in Helsinki on July 16, takes place one day after soccer’s World Cup final? We know that Trump doesn’t care about soccer, but since the World Cup is taking place in Russia, Putin wouldn’t meet until after the World Cup was over. They settled on having the meeting the very next day.

Second, everyone should read Cheryl Russell’s blog. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine. She recently wrote about median household income:

Median household income in May 2018 climbed to $61,858, according to Sentier Research. This is a higher median than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The May 2018 median was 1.8% higher than the May 2017 median.

Median household income in May was 3.7% higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It is 13.3% higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. The trend line has been positive for nearly seven years. This should be looked at very carefully by people who think Democrats have an easy path to winning the House of Representatives this fall.

Third, it’s doubtful you knew that the University of Tulsa has an Institute of Bob Dylan Studies. The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa acquired the Bob Dylan Archives, and now is the national hotbed of all things Dylan. Unsurprisingly, Dylan hasn’t visited.

On to cartoons. Mitch is large and in charge:

Republicans treat the Constitution like they do the Bible, picking and choosing parts they like for personal benefit:

Trump picks a surprising nominee:

(And the GOP would probably confirm him.)

Kids need to get their priorities straight:

Trump has new idea for the Wall:

Supreme Court hands public unions a big loss:

Bonus: 2012 Tom Toles cartoon on the Court. Bottom line − we all lost:

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