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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – May 14, 2017

(Wrongo and Ms. Oh So Right are heading to Europe today. We will be gone for 10 days, so blogging may be sparse. Please keep America great while we are away.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all. A few more thoughts about BLOTUS (Big Liar of the US): Not only does he have the worst approval ratings of any president at this point in his term, but he’s also incapable of moving the needle of public opinion toward his positions. Ironically, for all of Trump’s sycophants’ talk that Trump’s words ARE his actions, his tweets and public pronouncements are making his positions more unpopular.

What matters most to Wrongo is his non-adherence to basic rules and norms, and here, there’s a lot to be concerned about. His fear of an investigation into possible Russian influence, and his refusal to release his tax returns probably mean he’s hiding something. Now we learn that Trump’s law firm, Morgan Lewis, which wrote a statement saying Trump’s tax returns showed no significant business ties to Russia, itself has extensive ties to Russia, and received a “Russia Law Firm of the Year” award in 2016. The swamp is reaching flood stage. On to cartoons.

Trump wanted a different dog:

Comey’s resume shows poor reviews by former employer:

McConnell plans to protect The Donald:

Trump thinks any negative story about him is made up:

Trump creates new versions of the truth faster than his team can spin them:

Trump hears from a guy inside the White House that he doesn’t know:

 

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Sean Spicer Searches Staff

The Daily Escape:

(Baby Baboon – Kenya)

Trump press secretary Sean Spicer is trying to catch the sources of White House leaks. (Link below sourced by the Wrongologist)

Spicer called his White House staff into his office last week to reiterate his frustration with the continuing leaks of WH information, sources with knowledge of the matter said. He informed them that the use of encrypted texting apps, like Signal and Confide, is a violation of the Federal Records Act.

NOW they care about the law? Using a Republican National Committee email server for official business is illegal, but that hasn’t stopped the White House from using it. Does Spicer have any concerns about the unsecured Android smartphone his boss tweets from every day? More:

Then, with White House counsel Don McGahn standing by, Spicer asked his staff to provide him with their cell phones so he could ensure they were not using those apps or corresponding privately with reporters.

Spicer then specifically asked his staff not to leak information about the meeting or his efforts to crack down on leaks to the media.

But someone in the room leaked all of it. They leaked that the leaky White House is trying to stop the leaks, (except for WikiLeaks) which, of course they love. Maybe someone should take a look at The Donald, who is currently taking a leak on the First Amendment.

Perhaps the gang who can’t shoot straight should have realized that people could delete incriminating information, or communicate with reporters in some way that might not be on their phones at all. Wrongo reveres the TV series “The Wire”. Apparently, Mr. Spicer has never watched it, and hasn’t heard of “burner” phones.

And it’s got to be difficult trying to maintain your loyalty to a team when the boss distrusts the team members. Unless there is a national security issue, there can’t be a reason to allow a government official to “inspect” your private mobile phone.

Many fun nicknames have been suggested for Sean Spicer (Cranky Spice, Whiny Spice). Wrongo’s current favorite is “Searchy Spice”, although his nickname in college was “Sean Sphincter” suggesting that he is in the right job: Hanging out with one of the world’s biggest assholes.

Thank you to the brave Americans inside the belly of the beast who put their country first. LEAK ON!

Next week in Spicer’s office: colonoscopies.

Here is a video about office investigations from the ever-popular TV series, “Office” (BBC version):

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

And enjoy (not) watching the Overlord’s address to the joint session of Congress tonight.

After all, you can read both fake news and alternative facts about it everywhere tomorrow.

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 27, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(A Great Grey Owl on the hunt – photo by Christina Anne m)

The last weekend in February is now in the rear view mirror. The shortest month seemed like an eternity to most of us. Even thinking about looking forward is madness, March Madness that is, a favorite time for Wrongo, one of the few times when watching televised sports dominates at the Mansion of Wrong.

Perhaps you have heard that Mr. Trump will not be attending the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner roast. Instead, maybe the press can get George W. Bush to show up, and search under the podium for a free press, like he did when pretending to look for WMD at the WHCA Dinner in 2004.

The Wrong family is off to Florida this week for the annual visit to his family. So columns may be like the Florida breezes, light and variable.

Remember Tuesday is Mardi Gras, which for some of you is your last guilt-free celebration until Easter. If you prefer less partying and more angst, by all means watch Donald Trump’s Tuesday address to a joint session of Congress.

Politico reports that House Democrats plan to troll Trump during the speech. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), is leading an effort to have his colleagues bring diverse guests to the speech on Tuesday. The effort is designed to focus on Trump’s immigration and refugee policies, perhaps stealing a bit of the spotlight from the president’s speech. Wrongo’s advice to Dems is to respect the office of the president. They can sit on their hands when Republicans applaud the Overlord, but they should avoid overt displays that make them look like loonies on the floor of the Congress. Wrongo’s further advice is not to attend this manufactured event. After all, there is no requirement in law or custom for it; it isn’t a “State of the Union” speech. And it’s the first time since Eisenhower that a president has given this type of out-of-sequence address.

So don’t expect that each time Trump tells a whopper, Dems will yell out “you lie!” despite the fact that since Republican Rep. Joe Wilson did it to Obama, it seems to be ok. And most likely if the Orange Overlord is speaking, this time, it will also be true.

So let’s wake up with a song about lyin’ politicians. Here is “Politician Lies by Steve M:

Sample Lyrics:

Politician lies
Hide what money buys.
They know right from wrong
Still they come on like King Kong
With a fat superpac
You can’t get them off your back.

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

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 26, 2017

Five weeks into the Trump Ascendancy, and things look worse than ever. Wrongo has not had much time for the Trump/Russia conspiracy. If anything beyond the DNC hack surfaces, we can discuss the possibility of election interference. But as of now…unpersuaded. That is, until this coincidence occurred at CPAC:

From the Atlantic:

Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.

The stunt made waves on social media, as journalists covering CPAC noticed the scramble to confiscate the flags. It was a gutsy and (mostly) harmless gag, unless you count the damage to Conservative egos. That the gag was carried out by two people who should fit the neo-con profile for Normal and Safe shows that the tribe cannot tell members from interlopers.

Trump’s team refused to let accredited journalists from certain news outlets attend Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s “gaggle” on Friday. This is where American news is heading:

It is more important than ever to know who the real enemy is:

Kim Jong-Un channels the Donald, and there are surprising similarities:

Trump walks away from supporting LGBT rights:

GOP Congresscritters are terrorized about meeting their constituents:

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 19, 2017

President Trump is engaged in an open war on the US press. While he can’t be impeached for that, it is time to recognize what he intends: His plan is to neutralize what is our most vital check on authoritarianism. If he succeeds, it will still be called the “free press”, but we will hear only the official story from the White House. Our media must change its game, or democracy will die. Right now, its Trump’s facts first, and THE facts second, if at all. This is a battle the public must make certain Trump loses. Only 47 months to go…

Trump’s press conference was all we needed to know:

The Westminster dog show was controversial in some circles:

There were leaks on both coasts last week:

Netanyahu met with the Donald:

Betsy DeVos hit the ground running:

The conclusion after one month in office:

But it’s a tiny handbasket.

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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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Trump’s Revealing Visit to the CIA

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32, (Etched into the wall of the main lobby of the CIA)

On his first full day in office, President Trump spoke at the CIA headquarters, in front of the hallowed CIA Memorial Wall. The wall memorializes over 100 CIA persons who died while on duty.

Trump gave a rambling, self-serving speech suggesting that the media had created a feud between himself and the intelligence agencies (except he created it). He complained that the media had mischaracterized the crowd size at his inauguration. Then he crossed a bright line:

Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me…But I will not ask you to raise your hands.

CIA personnel do not speak about policy, only about analysis. Policy, they feel, belongs to politicians. Trump bringing up whether they voted for him, set off alarm bells inside the agency, according to ex-CIA chief John Brennan. The CIA’s concern is that last time intelligence was highly politicized, the pressure came from Bush and Cheney. It produced the notorious National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that the Agency hasn’t lived down.

The most alarming thing Trump said, however, regarded Iraq: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

The old expression [is] to the victor belong the spoils. You remember, you always say keep the oil. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq, I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong. I always said…if we kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place…But, okay. Maybe we’ll have another chance. But the fact is, we should have kept the oil…

And Trump was wrong again. From Juan Cole:

The UN Charter and other treaty instruments that are part of US law actually abolished the principle of ‘to the victors go the spoils.’ Conquering states in a war are not allowed to annex territory from the vanquished as of 1945.

That wasn’t all. Saying that the US should “take the oil” in Iraq creates a yuuge issue for the 6,000 US troops in Iraq. Trump’s unthinking talk could put them in danger from Iraqis. Why would they continue to see us as allies against ISIS, when our president says “take the oil”? This isn’t speculation. Juan Cole quotes Borzou Daragahi of Buzzfeed who says that some Iraqis are now indeed ‘pissed’ and ready to fight to keep their oil away from the US.

Trump has no idea about Iraq’s political geography. Most oil in Iraq is either in Shiite territory (the South) near Basra (the vast majority of the oil that Iraq pumps) or up in Kurdish-held territory near Kirkuk. ISIS in Iraq had relatively little access to Iraqi petroleum.

His idea about ISIS profiting from oil might be true in Syria, but he was speaking about Iraq.

Trump doesn’t realize that you can’t export oil against its people’s will. They have too many ways to sabotage the effort. Moreover, you’d have to overthrow the current Iraqi government (who would never agree to Trump taking the oil), and then re-occupy Iraq.

And if the US ‘took’ Iraqi oil in a way that reduced oil profits for Iraqis, it would enable ISIS to overthrow the then weakened government and install an ISIS Caliphate, the exact opposite of our current policy!

In any case, the US doesn’t need Iraq’s oil. China’s economy has slowed enough that world oil demand has leveled. Fracking in the US has also lowered our needs for more imported oil. So the fact is, US petroleum companies wouldn’t want to “take” Iraqi petroleum.They don’t need it, and wouldn’t want the security hassles it would create.

At 7:35 AM on Sunday, Trump tweeted: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!

CBS reported that there were about 40 Trump invites and, while the front rows were senior CIA who were not cheering (on the video you can see their heads pivot to the cheers and laughter while not joining in). The cheers came from the Trump claque.

No standing “O”. No truth.

And worst of all, no thinking before speaking.

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January 20, 2017 – Trump Inaugural Edition

Today is the Trump Inaugural. So many preparations, and so much detail for the transition team to worry about. From the no stone left unturned department, comes this from the WSJ:

 Workers preparing for the Trump Inaugural have taped over the name of the company — “Don’s Johns” — that has long supplied portable restrooms for major outdoor events in the nation’s capital…Virginia-based Don’s Johns calls itself the Washington area’s top provider of portable toilet rentals. But the name apparently strikes too close to home for inaugural organizers.

Too close to Donald John for Donald John Trump? Of course. Somebody placed blue tape over the company name on dozens of portable restrooms installed near the Capitol for the inauguration. The company says they didn’t do it. But, the company’s name is clearly blocked from the TV cameras:

Once Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the US, he will certainly push the agenda that got him elected. We all will need a way to sort the signal from the noise that we will hear from both his partisans and his opposition (which includes the Wrongologist). When you hear people raising reasoned questions and objections to Trump’s proposed policies, odds are that you’re listening to the kind of dissent that’s essential to our democracy, and you ought to take it seriously. For the kinds of arm-waving, emotional, knee-jerk support (or criticism) that you will hear every day, feel free to ignore that. You will know the knee-jerk stuff, since it will be sung in harmony by all the other partisans. And the media will repeat it often for your consideration.

Wrongo has serious problems with Trump, but is hopeful that his administration will:

  • Live up to his populist domestic promises, and
  • Simplify our country’s confusing foreign policy

If he normalizes relations with Russia, extracts us from the messes in Iraq and Syria and if he encourages domestic jobs growth, Wrongo will likely sign up for all of that. If he pushes through a big infrastructure bill that isn’t a wealth transfer to corporations, Wrongo will probably go along with that as well.

Wrongo does not trust Trump or the GOP on health care insurance. He worries that Republicans will throw a number of Americans under the bus, causing a great deal of unnecessary pain.

You can be sure that Trump is going to try to do some terrible things over the next four years, such as appointing ideologues to the Supreme Court. But, Congressional Republicans will clearly attempt far worse things than will The Overlord.

So the terrible fact is, we have to count on Trump to rein in the worst of the GOP’s ideas and instincts.

Needing to trust Donald Trump is enough to frighten anyone.

Trump tweets continually to rally his supporters while simultaneously manipulating the media. It’s unnerving. Saying that Trump is terrifying, while correct, is useless. The most obsessive of his opponents focus on worst-case scenarios that are designed to rally (and raise money from) the anti-Trump troops among us. Sadly, that strategy largely guarantees that the opposition will look disorganized and fragile. It also causes the American center-left to be fragmented issue by issue, and therefore, unable to broadly challenge the GOP, at least in the short run.

The Dems need to coalesce around only the potentially win-able issues. Otherwise, they should “just say no” to any Trump legislation intended to weaken or break our social contract. Sen. Schumer is correct when he says that the GOP needs to own 100% of the pain they cause the average person, whenever they break the contract. Any Democrat that breaks ranks to support issues like cuts to Medicare or privatization of Social Security must be challenged from the left in the next primary.

Democrats did not believe they would be in this political mess. They are trying to find their footing, but establishment Democrats want to simply tweak the message, and stay the course.

However, the battle against Trump and the GOP majority must move from “Republican Lite” to a fight to put social justice and progressivism back on the table as viable options for all Americans.

Otherwise, it will be a precipitous fall from political relevancy for Democrats.

Establishment Democrats who profit from the status quo, have no incentive to come up with an agenda that appeals to people who are suffering because of that status quo. The great weakness of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was that she aimed her appeals at the minority of voters who would benefit from the established neoliberal order, while largely ignoring those who suffered under it.

That decision could cost the Dems for a generation.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 15, 2017

In a week filled with news that forces you to look at it, one thing stands out: The “Dossier” on Donald Trump which purports that the Russians have collected some things that could be used to blackmail our Orange Overlord. There are many things to “get”, in order to understand this story, but let’s focus on the blackmail element.

According to the 35-page Dossier, Russia (supposedly) has blackmail material on Trump but isn’t using it. OTOH, the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community (IC), and certain media players are using it, both by making sure we know that the Dossier exists, and that Trump and Obama were told about it.

The story, which had apparently been around DC since the summer, was retailed to the rest of us this week. Trump’s reaction was typical, blaming the IC, while saying it was more fake news. And it could be just that, no one seems to know.

Then, Trump was warned by Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader, saying on MSNBC: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Wow! The president-elect threatened by the Senate Minority Leader, implying that the IC will get back at him if he doesn’t stand down. And there was no shock from Democrats, who have decided that they are the CIA’s best buddies, and that they love, love the rest of the IC.

Yet, when Clinton was being skewered for her emails, Dems protested loudly about the interference by the FBI. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece about the IC inserting itself into the US election, along with the Russians and others. As part of the story, he has this to say about the Democrats:

Did Russia attempt to interfere in the US election? Of course, and Democrats condemned it. Did the agents of the FBI et al attempt to interfere in the US election? Of course, and Democrats condemned it. Is the national security state today interfering in the outcome of a US election, by trying to destabilize and force its will on the incoming administration? Of course, and Democrats are cheering it.

The Dems are seeing just what they want to see, and that’s the (for now) flesh wound inflicted on Trump by the IC. They are not looking at what’s in plain sight. Which is the many efforts at false news stirring the pot of presidential illegitimacy, by domestic state actors as well as foreign.

Democrats should not support this; it’s dangerous…for them as well as for America. More about this next week.

The IC is far from happy with the Donald:

The GOP has started on their Repeal and Replace plan:

The GOP wants to take care of at least one pre-existing condition:

Trump’s cabinet nominees began their Senate hearings this week:

Secretary of State Nominee, Rex Tillerson, has to prove he’s not channeling Exxon:

Obama gave his farewell speech, and headed into the sunset:

 

 

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