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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

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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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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Saturday Soother – December 17, 2016

Welcome to Saturday. For the rest of the year, we are going to rely heavily on music and cartoons to help get us through to the inauguration of El Jefe, our Orange Overlord. This is how Wrongo expects it will go on January 20th:

Our collective futures have been placed on hold by electing Donald Trump. His big idea is that America should return to doing what grandma and grandpa did, because fifty years ago those policies were just so darn successful.

Generals will be in charge of foreign policy, while banksters will run our domestic policy.

The lesser agencies will be re-designed to make America great again. They will be run by people specifically picked to destroy them from within. The white shoe classes are about to get free rein, knowing America will soon be willing to work for food.

And all it took to achieve this brilliant result was fooling the usual suspects, those who started following Trump when he yelled about the birth certificate, and who stayed for the yelling about the emails.

America is finally getting the government it deserves.

Today’s musical soother is no soother. It’s a Christmas partying song that pokes fun at the issues we all see when we get together with family on the holidays. Here are Dropkick Murphys with “The Season’s Upon Us”. Play this early and often:

This is for Wrongo’s Irish family, and all families everywhere!

Sample Lyrics:

The season’s upon us, it’s that time of year
Brandy and eggnog, there’s plenty of cheer
There’s lights on the trees
And there’s wreaths to be hung
There’s mischief and mayhem
And songs to be sung

There’s bells and there’s holly, the kids are gung-ho
True love finds a kiss beneath fresh mistletoe
Some families are messed up while others are fine
If you think yours is crazy
Well you should see mine

My sisters are whack-jobs, I wish I had none
Their husbands are losers and so are their sons
My nephew’s a horrible, wise little twit
He once gave me a gift wrapped box full of shit

My mom likes to cook, push our buttons and prod
My brother just brought home another big broad
The eyes roll and whispers come loud
From the kitchen I’d come home more often

If they’d only quit bitching

The table’s set, we raise a toast
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
I’m so glad this day only comes once a year
You can keep your opinions, your presents, your “Happy New Year”
They call this Christmas where I’m from
They call this Christmas where I’m from

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 27, 2016

Are you sick of all the winning yet?

You have probably heard that Fidel Castro died yesterday. Wrongo was in college in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. We were glued to TV waiting for a nuclear attack that never came.

That Castro survived JFK by 53 years is remarkable, particularly since at least two American Presidents tried to kill him. At the time, Kennedy offered two things in exchange for Soviet removal of the Cuban missiles: (1) the US would pledge never to invade Cuba and (2) the US would secretly withdraw missiles from Turkey. The removal of the nukes from Turkey was delayed several months, so that the US would not appear weak in the face of the Cuban missile threat. The Soviet Union accepted this offer the next day.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, their archives of the Missile crisis showed that Castro wanted the USSR to fire the missiles at the US. Khrushchev came to regard Castro as a lunatic, bent on war. We came very close to invading Cuba, and the Soviets never fully trusted Castro again.

In most ways, Castro’s death is anticlimactic. He retired, and appointed his brother Raul to head the government years ago, and recently, the Obama administration has been effective in improving relations with Cuba. Had Fidel died during a period of greater tension, it might have signaled the possibility of a positive change in relations between our two countries. Sadly, it is probable that the next great change in Cuban/American relations will move us backward under a Trump Administration.

Onward to cartoons. Thanksgiving and Trump’s staffing plans dominated the week.

Many avoided politics at the family repast:

cow-i-survived

Democrats weigh their strategy with Trump:

cow-turkey-talk

Trump meets with the New York Times, tells them how to cover the news:

cow-trumpy-times

Our Orange Decider has yet to decide a few things:

cow-the-decider

Paul Ryan is locked and loaded for 2017:

cow-paul-ryans-targets

Many who voted for Trump have little or no retirement savings, or regular savings for that matter. Ironically, a majority of them will be reliant on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in later life. Sadly, they can’t seem to connect the dots between Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams of privatization, and how it will affect their lives. It may be too late for many of them.

Deficits are part of the Art of the Deal:

cow-white-house-puppy

Those “responsible Republican deficit hawkswanted to restore earmarks the week after the election, but Ryan is making them wait until the new Congress is seated. That way, they won’t destroy the PRETENSE of budget deficits mattering.

The GOP really can’t wait to take off the debt girdle:

cow-deficit-girdle

 

 

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Won’t Get Fooled Again

Wrongo and Ms. Right watched the”60 Minutes” Trump interview on Sunday. Basically, it was a low-information session, long on atmosphere and short on what is likely to happen in the first 100 days of Trumptopia.

There were hints that low information may be emblematic of the future relationship between the press and the new administration. In the interview, there was this: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Lesley Stahl:…A lot of people are afraid. They’re really afraid. African Americans think there’s a target on their back. Muslims are terrified.

Donald Trump: I think it’s horrible if that’s happening. I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this countryand they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.

More press paranoia by the Donald-elect. To think of the media as liars destroys one of the only protections we have for our democracy.

And Fortune Magazine, not exactly a haven for lefty journalists, said this:

What does that future look like? It looks like a pitched battle between a man who made his own media rules and rode them to victory, and a traditional press that has lost much of its power.

It seems obvious that President-elect Trump’s relationship with the press could be more contentious than even that of Richard Nixon.

Trump’s spokesperson, Hope Hicks, had to go out of her way to reassure the media that Trump was planning to operate a normal press “pool,” in which the president travels with reporters who share their news reports with others. The press is concerned, since they were not permitted to travel with Trump during the campaign.

But the media holding the Trump administration’s feet to the fire was is made very difficult by Trump’s points about social media in the “60 Minutes” interview: (brackets and emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Lesley Stahl: But are you going to be tweeting [about] whatever you’re upset about…when you’re president?

Donald Trump: So it’s a modern form of communication, between Face– you know, Facebook and Twitter and I guess Instagram, I have 28 million people. 28 million people

Taken together, the major network and cable TV outlets account for 26.5 million viewers.

So, Trump has the ability to talk directly to more people than the networks. During the campaign, Trump took advantage of that to spread both accurate (and inaccurate) information that helped his cause. In effect, the Trumpets were using the media equivalent of modern military technology while the mainstream media (and the Clinton campaign) used tanks and bayonets.

Going forward, what will happen when Trump, who has continued to attack the motives of the press, has to deal with them as president? Will Breitbart News and Fox get preferential treatment while the New York Times and the Washington Post are left scrambling for the scraps they leave behind?

And if that happens, who is in a position to stop him? In 2016 and going forward, how will you find out what is really going on in the world?

And think about the parallels to the GW Bush presidency: Pence has the operations role. This could very well turn into another Cheney Administration, where Pence actually runs the government in the background while Trump soaks up all the attention playing Mister President on Twitter and for the cameras.

The parallels are frightening. Fortune has this vision of the future:

A weakened and increasingly marginalized traditional media, fighting with the tools of a previous era, surrounded by more nimble adversaries who know how to use social platforms for their own ends, and a president who is actively hostile to the traditional press. Not that long ago, it probably felt like things couldn’t get any worse for the media—but they just did.

Let’s not lose hope completely. Why? This administration will enter office with close to zero credibility with the press. Think about how few newspapers endorsed Trump.

Second, the media remembers its failures to follow the facts during the Bush administration. So, the fear of being called unpatriotic as those few in the media were when they spoke out against Bush’s Iraq policy, will be tempered by the press’s memory of their complicity in Iraq War.

Finally, blogs and social media can work both ways. They may have helped elect Trump, but social media in particular will not allow Trump to operate unchallenged.

That challenge will force the MSM to follow stories in a way that didn’t happen in the GW Bush administration.

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