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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 2, 2017

Governments last only as long as the undertaxed can defend themselves against the overtaxed.” Bernard Berenson

(There is an extra ration of cartoons today. Wrongo is taking a few days to celebrate the hot dogs and potato salad he found in the fridge. Posts will resume on July 5th.)

If this week shows how well we are playing defense, we are all screwed. The party of personal responsibility always blames their opponents when things go wrong. The party of fiscal responsibility will blow up the budget whenever they get in power.

And the party of family values is merrily slashing away at programs that support families:

When it comes to health insurance, the GOP has all the right viewpoints:

Trump revealed his true self with the “Morning Joe” tweets:

The Court-tested, Judges approved Muslim ban is now in effect:

Trump (or his lackeys) made fake Time Magazine covers featuring the Donald:

Trump’s Press Team orders no cameras at most press conferences. So on to Virtual News:

Trump Election Commission asks states for each voter’s personal data, like party affiliation and social security number. What could go wrong?

Why the Fourth of July?

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North Korea Poses a Problem for Trump, Bigly

The Daily Escape:

(Key West flower by Denise M. Riggs)

CNN reported that on Monday, North Korea (NK) fired four ballistic missiles into the Japan Sea. CNN was told by a US official that a fifth missile failed to launch. More from CNN:

Later on Monday, two US officials told CNN that US intelligence is closely monitoring the underground nuclear test site via satellite amid signs the regime could be preparing for another underground test…A US official also said that Washington is continuing to see activity including missile engine tests at another North Korean launch site, that signal potential additional launches — which the US widely expects.

This creates a strategic problem for the Trump administration. Trump has already signaled his preference to respond aggressively to NK’s missile program. In a Twitter post after Kim Jong-un issued a warning on New Year’s Day, Trump tweeted “It won’t happen!

Obama used a different approach:

Three years ago, President Barack Obama ordered Pentagon officials to step up their cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea’s missile program in hopes of sabotaging test launches in their opening seconds.

Soon a large number of the North’s military rockets began to explode, veer off course, disintegrate in midair and plunge into the sea. Advocates of such efforts say they believe that targeted attacks have given American antimissile defenses a new edge and delayed by several years the day when North Korea will be able to threaten American cities with nuclear weapons launched atop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But other experts have grown increasingly skeptical of the new approach…Over the past eight months, they note, the North has managed to successfully launch three medium-range rockets. And…North [Korea] is in “the final stage in preparations” for the inaugural test of its intercontinental missiles — perhaps a bluff, perhaps not.

The US lacks the ability to fully counter the NK nuclear and missile programs. The NYT’s reporting indicates that the NK danger was great enough that as Obama left office, he warned Trump it was likely to be the most urgent problem he [Trump] would confront.

As a presidential candidate, Trump said “we’re obsolete in cyber”. Now, one of the immediate questions he faces is whether to accelerate, or scale back existing cyber efforts. The US is also looking at ways to freeze the Kim family’s assets, some of which are held in Chinese banks. The Chinese have opposed the US deployment of the US high-altitude missile defense system known as THAAD in South Korea; but the Trump team may also deploy THADD systems in Japan.

A Trump administration official told the NYT that they are looking at pre-emptive military strike options, although the challenge is huge, given the country’s mountainous terrain, deep tunnels and bunkers. This is complicated. NK missiles are fired from multiple launch sites and are moved about on mobile launchers in an elaborate shell game meant to deceive adversaries.

Putting American tactical nukes back in South Korea (they were withdrawn 25 years ago) is also under consideration, even though that could accelerate a regional nuclear arms race.

Trump could re-open negotiations with NK to again freeze its nuclear and missile programs, but that would leave the current threat in place. He could prepare for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, but there is little chance of hitting all targets. He could press the Chinese to cut off trade and support for NK, but Beijing has always stopped short of steps that could lead to the regime’s collapse. The NYT said:

In two meetings of Mr. Trump’s national security deputies in the Situation Room, the most recent on Tuesday, all those options were discussed, along with the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a dramatic warning. Administration officials say those issues will soon go to Mr. Trump and his top national security aides.

Dealing with NK requires a steady hand, and an ability to sort through complex relationships. Rash decisions will not work, while well thought-out tactics might.

Sadly, Trump has not convinced us that he has the temperament to deal with a complex situation like NK presents.

Here is the Moranbong Band, an all-female North Korean group whose members were personally selected by Kim Jong-un. Here they are performing “My Country Is The Best!”:

Everyone thinks their country is the best.

This has a decidedly Euro pop flavor. One wag said all that is missing is Robert Palmer standing in the foreground singing “Addicted to Love”. Check out the woman playing lead guitar at 2:34.

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

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Monday Wake Up Call – March 6, 2017

Wrongo’s investment in popcorn futures is looking better all the time. The circus surrounding whether Trump’s people had, or didn’t have a secret relationship with Russia has a life of its own. Now that Trump has accused Obama of wiretapping his campaign, it is time to sit back and watch what’s gonna happen next.

As the WSJ’s Peggy Noonan said in 2000, it would be irresponsible not to speculate: While the story is moving fast, and new players pop up almost daily, Trump’s inopportune tweet opens the door for Republicans to investigate Obama, and that’s exactly what the Trump administration has done:

Republicans are of course happy to enable Trump’s fantasy, vowing to investigate this “latest Obama scandal:

A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee says he believes President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that his predecessor ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower will become part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton says, “We’re going to follow the facts wherever they lead us. And I’m sure that this matter will be a part of that inquiry.”

This is more likely than not to lead to more damaging revelations about Trump’s associates’ ties to Russia. Then, in mock sorrow, the GOP will have to go after Trump, or else look like they ignored evidence in order to get a few Right Wing policies enacted.

Wrongo’s guess is that the GOP will start preparing the Proletariat for Trump’s departure, and the investiture of President-in-Waiting, Michael Pence. Sadly, Trump doesn’t see two moves ahead:

  • FBI gets a warrant to wiretap a target, via the ordinary FISA procedures.
  • The reaction of a normal person when they learn of that should be: “There must be something going on
  • The reaction of any normal target would be: “I’d better start covering-up (or come clean)”
  • But not Trump: “They wiretapped me! That’s an illegal crime, and I will investigate/prosecute!

When the Overlord learned that the FBI was using a FISA warrant to look at Trump Tower emails and phones, he didn’t see an arm of the US government legitimately investigating a possible crime. He didn’t think “if they find anything, I could be in trouble“.

No, he doubled down, saying, “Obama attacked me, with wiretaps! That’s illegal!” Even though it’s not even remotely illegal, as any 21st Century Republican knows full well, because they wrote the legislation that made it legal.

In the meantime, Jeff Sessions is in damage control mode. He was the butt of the joke on Saturday Night Live this weekend. Republicans who support Sessions need to wake up and remember that it is never the action, it is always the cover-up that kills members of the political class. Here is Lynyrd Skynyrd doing their monster hit “Sweet Home Alabama”, the redneck national anthem, in honor of native son, Jeff Sessions:

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

Key Lyric:

Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

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February 15, 2017

The Daily Escape:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The Philology library at Berlin’s Free University. Designed in the shape of the human brain)

Trump’s National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is out. His lies or charitably, his misremembering whether his communications with the Russian ambassador included discussing the sanctions that had recently imposed by the outgoing Obama administration, were too much even for the fact-challenged Trump administration. That became patently obvious after the WaPo dropped the bombshell that Trump was warned about Flynn’s ties by the Justice Department before the inauguration.

Who notified them? Then-acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates. You remember that Yates was later fired by Trump for advising the President that his Muslim ban was unconstitutional.

She informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

When she notified the White House that the FBI had Flynn on tape talking with the Russian Ambassador, she also told then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan.

So the Trumpets had more than enough of Ms. Yates by the time she advised them that the Muslim ban wouldn’t fly.

Flynn resigned Monday night. Most Republicans say there is nothing more to see here, and that we should move along. Democrats want an independent investigation.

Whether this issue is over or not probably depends on whether you believe that Flynn was a rogue actor, operating without any cooperation or involvement by others in the Trump administration. Was something larger at work? Was it just Flynn lying to Pence, and then Flynn lying to Trump?

That’s possible, but considering the character of some of the people in this administration, from Trump to Bannon, to Miller and Conway, it seems unlikely that Flynn was acting alone.

And on Tuesday, Trump tweeted, after accepting Flynn’s resignation, that:

The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?

We all know that isn’t the real story. Thank you Sally Yates!

Here is The Who with “Behind Blue Eyes” from their album, “Who’s Next”. It was recorded in March, 1971. It describes the Orange Overlord to a “T”:

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

Sample Lyrics:

No one knows what it’s like
To be a rich man
It’s a bitch, man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it’s like
To be hated
To be baldpated
Telling only lies

No one knows what it’s like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it’s like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren’t as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That’s never free

No one knows what it’s like
To feel these feelings
Like I do

And I blame you

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 13, 2017

Wrongo and Ms. Right went to a concert by Buster Poindexter on Saturday. Poindexter is a stage persona for David Johansen, a glam rocker from the 1970s, when he fronted a group called the New York Dolls. Poindexter’s thing is to look suave and sophisticated, holding a drink, while singing an eclectic song book. He tries to say something humorous as a lead-in to the next song. His first comment was that he had been drinking steadily since November 9th.

The venue is in rock-solid conservative territory, but the line mostly drew laughs from a decidedly middle-age audience, except for one guy who screamed “bullshit” loudly and often during Poindexter’s first song. Eventually, the local police came, and the guy became a model of passive resistance, going to the floor limp, and unresponsive. After assuring themselves he hadn’t collapsed, the police ushered him out to a standing ovation, again, in a solidly Republican part of Connecticut. But think about this:

That sort of indicates that Trump voters are a forgiving lot. They were prepared to lock up Hillary Clinton for using a private email server because it jeopardized national security. Now the Trump administration is doing the same thing, and many think its no big thing. From The Hill: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

The [poll] results are surprising, considering Trump’s campaign included calling out Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State.

According to Newsweek, at least four senior officials in President Trump’s White House have active accounts on a private Republican National Committee (RNC) email system. Counselor Kellyanne Conway, White House press secretary Sean Spicer, chief strategist and senior counselor Stephen Bannon and senior advisor Jared Kushner all have rnchq.org email accounts. More from Newsweek: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The system (rnchq.org) is the same one the George W. Bush administration was accused of using to evade transparency rules after claiming to have “lost” 22 million emails.

Think about that. If it weren’t for double standards, Republicans would have no standards at all. But maybe the crowd reaction at the Poindexter concert showed us something: Buyer’s Remorse.

Remorseful Republican voters can help bigly in 2020 (and maybe in 2018), because all it takes is a few of them to make a difference in who becomes the next president. Presidential elections are won on the narrowest of margins, so if, 3-4% of Trump voters show remorse and flip, or decide to stay home, Trump could lose by a wide margin, even while maintaining the vast majority of his support.

Moreover, if many of them are demoralized or turned off by 2018 that could flip midterm Senate seats. Think back to 2006: the Democratic Senate pickups that year were in four states Bush had won (MT, VA, MO, OH) and one he had only lost by 2.5% (PA), which ended up in a 17 point blowout. Why? GW Bush voters stayed home, or switched.

OTOH, the only Republicans up in 2018 are the ones who survived 2006 and 2012, the year the Tea Party decided to debate “legitimate rape”).

There is virtually no way to make the 2018 map good. There are only 9 Republican-held seats up for election at all; three of those would have to go to Democrats in order to flip the Senate, even if all the vulnerable Democratic seats were held. The best that can be hoped for is mitigating the damage.

As Kathleen Parker in the WaPo said:

Thus far, Trump and his henchmen have conducted a full frontal assault on civil liberties, open government and religious freedom, as well as instigating or condoning a cascade of ethics violations ranging from the serious (business conflicts of interest) to the absurd (attacking a department store for dropping his daughter’s fashion line). And, no, it’s not just a father defending his daughter. It’s the president of the US bullying a particular business and, more generally, making a public case against free enterprise.

Parker is a conservative columnist. To an objective observer, it would seem that quite a few Republicans will decide not to defend the indefensible.

To help them arise from their slumbers, which at least a few did on Saturday night, here is Buster Poindexter with Hot, Hot, Hot from 1987:

That’s Bill Murray pouring the martini @ 2:00.

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

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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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Monday Wake Up Call – January 23, 2017

After the Women’s March, both Trump and his press bunny, Sean Spicer, said that the numbers of attendees at the Trump Inaugural was the largest of all time. How can Spicer explain this?

Why bother explaining? From Media Matters:

In a surreal turn, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tonight denied reality, lashed out at the press for its supposed “shameful and wrong” coverage of the size of the crowd that attended President Trump’s January 20 inaugural festivities, instructed the White House press corps on what they “should be writing and covering,” declared that the administration intended to “hold the press accountable,” and left the briefing room without taking questions

For those who think they can trust Spicer, here are a few more links:

Trump inauguration crowd: Sean Spicer’s claims versus the evidence (Guardian)

White House Disputes Inauguration Attendance Estimates (WSJ)

Trump inauguration draws nearly 31 million U.S. television viewers (Reuters) Absolute numbers were fewer than Obama, better than Clinton and both Bushes.

Trumpism Corrupts: Spicer Edition (Weekly Standard)

With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift (NYT)

If Spicer wanted to avoid a confrontation, he could have shut down the discussion by saying that Trump’s supporters had to work on a Monday, because of the terrible jobs situation in America. But he tried ju-jitsu instead.

We should be very concerned about the lying and the angry effort to turn the tables on the press by Trump and his press secretary. They wouldn’t even tell the truth for something that is totally knowable, and then they attacked those who reported truthfully.

It is clear that the Trump administration plans to bully the press until: a) they stop attending press conferences, and/or b) stop digging for the real facts behind any bald-faced Trump administration assertion.

There are just three choices here:

  • You think lying is wrong
  • You think lying is OK
  • You are a hypocrite who moves between options 1 & 2 depending on whether you’re benefiting from the lie, or being harmed by it

The Overlord thinks he has no need to speak the truth, because he can just deny that whatever he disagrees with is true, and have some 20 million of his diehard twitter followers re-trumpet that he is correct.

This is a real threat to democracy! It is looking like Trump will be the Bullshitter-in-Chief, broadcasting a daily smokescreen of “fake news” (formerly, propaganda) while his cabinet of billionaires work to enrich themselves and Trump’s friends, and the Republican Congress tries to turn America into Paul Ryan’s granny-starver version of Ayn Rand’s paradise.

Bush’s and Rove’s “we manufacture our own reality” ultimately failed, and it seems Trump is trying the same thing but with a much weaker hand. We thought that Bush was incompetent and couldn’t do the job, and he was well on his way to proving that when 9/11 happened, and suddenly everyone was “rallying around our president“. Trump would also be seen as a terrific leader by a majority if he was talking through a bullhorn from the top of a pile of rubble.

And Trump won’t miss any opportunities to tweet glowing assessments of his performance. Thus, he has no need to engage in an honest evaluation of anything when a quick, preemptive hit works so well for him.

So time for the press to wake up and flay the Trump administration whenever they dissemble. The press now has a new organizing principle called the quest for truth. Something that has been missing for nearly 30 years.

To help them wake up, here are the Eagles with “New Kid in Town” from their 1976 “Hotel California” album. Released as the first single from the album, the song became a number-one hit in the US. Glenn Frey died late last year. He is missed. Here is “New Kid in Town” in a live version from their show in Washington, DC in 1977 at the old Capitol Center:

Time to hold the new kid responsible for his lying.

Sample Lyrics:

There’s talk on the street, it sounds so familiar.
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you.
People you meet they all seem to know you,
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new.

Johnny-come-lately, the new kid in town,
everybody loves you, so don’t let them down.

There’s talk on the street, it’s there to remind you
That it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.
You’re walking away and they’re talking behind you.
They will never forget you till somebody new comes along.

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

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Is It Legitimate To Say Trump’s Not Legitimate?

“As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew”Lincoln

Everybody’s been talking about the dust up between Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Donald Trump. Lewis’s statement that Trump is not a legitimate president obviously hit our Overlord-elect in a soft, squishy spot, and he immediately lashed out at Lewis.

Advocates from both sides rushed to defend their guy’s actions. Lots of people are saying “not my president”, which doesn’t necessarily imply illegitimacy as much as disapproval, but many like the sound of saying Trump is illegitimate:

  • There are misguided people who sincerely think that Trump wasn’t elected in a fair election, that votes were somehow stolen from Hillary Clinton, despite the lack of evidence to support that contention.
  • There are others who think the result was unfairly influenced by outside forces ranging from the FBI here at home, to foreign governments, principally Russia. If you believe that FBI Director Comey’s actions were illegitimate, or that Russia intervened, you could conclude that the result may be illegitimate.

But, most think the election results reflect what happened in the voting booth; that the outcome was how people voted, and Trump won according to the rules.

Charles Blow in the NYT defined two types of legitimacy: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

It is true that Donald Trump is, by all measures of the law, the legitimate president-elect and will legitimately be inaugurated our 45th president on Friday…There simply is no constitutional or statutory mechanism to nullify the installation of an elected president based on election influencing, even by a hostile state actor. The framers of the Constitution had no way of anticipating digital warfare being used in a propaganda attack. The Constitution was ratified before electric lights were invented.

But there is another way of considering legitimacy, another test that his election doesn’t meet: That is when legitimacy is defined as “conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards.”

Here, [John] Lewis and his fellow believers are on solid footing.

Trump overreacted to Lewis, saying that John Lewis’s Congressional district is poverty stricken, and all Lewis does is talk, Trump is simply wrong on the facts. Lewis’s district includes a combination of prosperous and less prosperous bits of Atlanta. From Atrios:

But basically this is Trump’s view that all black people live in hellholes and all urban areas not within 15 feet of his golden palace in the sky are hellholes…Which is fine, he’s entitled to his preferences. But 70 years on this Earth and it seems like he’s seen his penthouse, some golf courses, the occasional glance out his limo window, and that’s it, other than 24/7 cable news. Strange life, given his resources.

Charles Blow reminds us: (brackets and emphasis by the Wrongologist)

[Trump is] A lecher attacking a legend; a man of moral depravity attacking a man of moral certitude; an intellectual weakling attacking a warrior for justice…Trump attacks Lewis as, “All talk, talk, talk — no action”; Lewis, who repeatedly thrust his body unto the breach for justice, who was arrested, beaten and terrorized, including during the time that young Trump was at his well-heeled schools, receiving draft deferments from the Vietnam War.

In fact, one of Trump’s five deferments was in 1965, the same year as the Selma marches and “Bloody Sunday,” during which Lewis was struck so violently by a state trooper wielding a billy club that Lewis’s skull was fractured.

Let’s stop focusing on whether the Overlord-elect is “legitimate”.  The important thing is that we now have a president who wants to help Putin destroy the European Union. He wants to dismantle NATO, tear up the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and confront China.

At home, we will lose the ACA. There will be malicious surgery to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Corporate and personal income taxes (at least for the wealthy) will go down. (In fact, the rash of corporate commitments to build new production facilities in the US may be in anticipation of a corporate tax deal). We may see a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 20%-30% to pay for it all. VAT’s fall disproportionately on the middle and lower classes.

There will be ideologically-driven Supreme Court appointments as well.

It is worth emphasizing that Trump has the most conservative Senate and House since at least 1930. Part of the reason he is dangerous is that the restraint centrist Republicans once placed on Republican Presidents is largely gone.

America’s center and left are so weak, they can’t stand against the programs that conservative Republicans, the Tea Party and the alt-right coalition that will govern us, are now preparing.

The question shouldn’t be whether Trump was elected legitimately, that ship has sailed.

But how will we derail his program?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 8, 2017

Congress returned, and immediately shot itself in the foot by being against ethics before they were for them. That made no sense, even to Overlord Donald I, so Congress backed down. Then Congress got down to business: They revived a rule allowing them to reduce the pay of individual government workers, which was why they were building lists of pro-climate change bureaucrats. Now, they are working on the process for dismantling Obamacare. Dr. Pence nailed the GOP theme:

The GOP will try to baffle the people by guaranteeing “Universal Access”, to health care. That does not ensure that anyone actually has insurance:

The big story of the week was the Russian hacking. Trump was briefed on Friday. Wrongo is skeptical that it made any difference to the election result. Trump’s public skepticism that Russia was behind it is also troubling:

Don’t worry about Trump releasing any secret stuff. The hacking report is 50 pages long, so he’s not reading it. He’ll watch the declassified stuff on Fox News and tweet what he thinks:

The Inauguration is coming. It might look like this:

(This cartoon is by Marian Kamensky, Slovakia)

Once in office, here is Trump’s foreign policy:

(This is from Tom Janssen, The Netherlands)

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Congress Is Back, And the Revolution Begins!

Here is food for thought from David Weigel of the WaPo: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

When the 115th Congress begins this week, with Republicans firmly in charge of the House and Senate, much of that legislation will form the basis of the most ambitious conservative policy agenda since the 1920s. And rather than a Democratic president standing in the way, a soon-to-be-inaugurated Donald Trump seems ready to sign much of it into law…

That plan was long in the making. Almost the entire agenda has already been vetted, promoted and worked over by Republicans and think tanks that look at the White House less for leadership and more for signing ceremonies

There is little reason for Republicans to seek bipartisan support for middle-of-the-road legislation. They will simply work as a hive to turn America into Kansas. You remember Kansas, the state that has such a terrible record of job creation and economic growth? Kansas governor Republican Sam Brownback launched the orthodoxy of Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers on the state. And Brownback and Steven Moore who helped Brownback with his disastrous legislative agenda, are both economic advisors to Trump.

We have seen lots of hand-wringing about how to stand up to the Trump agenda that will begin raining down on America on January 20th. Most calls to action are from single-issue activist groups that lack the resources to get media attention, or to make a difference.

But there is a clear need for collective action on national, state and local levels. And that movement needs a leader.

How about an anti-president? Maybe Bernie Sanders? When Trump governs by tweet, he would be countered by the anti-president. Americans might come to know that, while Trump and company are cutting healthcare, the shadow government led by anti-president Sanders and vice president Warren are passing and signing a national healthcare bill.

When Trump cuts taxes on the rich and corporations, the shadow government is raising taxes on the rich and penalizing corporations that locate overseas to avoid paying tax at home.

When Trump appoints an anti-abortion, pro-Citizens United Supreme Court Justice, the shadow government appoints someone who is for social justice.

This can begin to build a consensus about what Trump is doing wrong.

We don’t have a parliamentary system, but, most Americans have no idea about political theory, or political facts. So, few will realize that a shadow government isn’t consistent with our Constitutional system!

And the new shadow government MUST not contain Pelosi, Schumer, or any of the geriatric Democrats in the House and Senate. That will de-legitimize the effort.

On New Year’s Day, Wrongo and Ms. Right attended a Baroque music concert at an old Congregational church in Washington CT that dates from 1741. Within a beautiful program, we heard a piece by the Italian composer, Domenico Zipoli. Zipoli has an interesting history. He studied with Scarlatti, he became a Jesuit, and worked as a missionary and died in 1726 in Argentina at age 38. Zipoli’s music was a revelation to us. Here is Zipoli’s “Elevazione” for oboe, violin, organ and cello. It was wonderful to hear it in a place with a good pipe organ.

The “elevation” is the point in the Catholic mass when the chalice and host are presented to the congregation. The performance lasts for eight+ minutes, much longer than what Wrongo prefers to present to you, but it is achingly beautiful, so please have patience.

It may be the perfect antidote to the shenanigans we will be seeing from the Trump administration, and we may need to watch it daily for a few months:

It begs the question, why was the 18th century blessed with so many great composers while the 21st century was given Justin Bieber?

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

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