Sunday, July 7, 2019
Donald Trump's big July 4 "celebration" was the week's big non-event,
so naturally garnered plenty of press attention. We'll collect the links
here, to try to keep the silliness of the event from infecting everything
Some scattered links this week:
The Trump administration is trying to make war with Iran inevitable:
"We should view Iran's recent posturing for what it is: retaliation to
the Trump administration's unnecessary and deliberate provocation."
Related: Phyllis Bennis:
If war breaks out with Iran, it won't be an accident.
Why aren't Democrats talking about ending patent-financed drug research?
Good question, especially since "free market drugs are a really big deal."
One point I'd stress more is that public funding of drug research is not
only more efficient, and much more transparent, but that it would also
demolish borders which impose artificial costs. Free market drugs would
spread out research investment, allowing all to benefit.
Nuclear weapons: experts alarmed by new Pentagon 'war-fighting' doctrine.
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
How Hitler's rise to power explains why Republicans accept Donald Trump.
Back when GW Bush was president and still popular, I bought a copy of
Richard J Evans' The Coming of the Third Reich, figuring it might
be interesting to compare the machinations of the Bush-Cheney regime to
the ascent of the Nazi party in Germany. I never got around to reading
that book, but that same question arose again with Trump, and this time
I did some reading: Benjamin Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy:
Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic,
James Q Whitman's Hitler's American Model: The United States and the
Making of Nazi Race Law, and Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works:
The Politics of Us and Them. The unstated assumption here is that
similarities between now and early stages of Hitler's arc to disaster
predict the path we will follow if we don't change direction. Given how
bad things turned out, it's hard to be shocked by each unfolding step.
But Chait makes a key point (leaving out the parentheticals):
All this is to say that German conservatives did not see Hitler as Hitler --
they saw Hitler as Trump. And the reasons they devised to overcome their
qualms and accept him as the head of the government would ring familiar
to followers of the 2016 campaign. They believed the responsibility of
governing would tame Hitler, and that his beliefs were amorphous and
could be shaped by advisers once in office. They respected his populist
appeal and believed it could serve their own ends. Their myopic concern
with specifics of their policy agenda overcame their general sense of
unease. Think of the supply-siders supporting Trump in the hope he can
enact major tax cuts, or the social conservatives enthused about his
list of potential judges, and you'll have a picture of the thought
Today in 'Donald Trump's campaign is a garbage fire'.
Sorry, Obama: Donald Trump is a populist, and you're not: Sorry,
Chait, Trump isn't a populist either, even according to either of your
- "The ideological definition of populist means traditionalist
on social issues and interventionist on economic policy -- the opposite
of libertarianism, in other words."
- "Populism can also be defined as a certain kind of political
style. Populists believe the government has been captured by evil and/or
corrupt interests, and that it can be recaptured by a unified effort by
the people (or, at least, their people)."
I've long identified with populism (see the little blurb top left:
"An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music"), most
likely because the political movement it refers to was most identified
with the people and place I came from (three generations of Kansas
farmers before my father got his job in a Wichita airplane factory).
Chait's definitions are wrong for that particular movement, and do
little to capture the populist impulse as it has periodically erupted
in various situations since then. The essential demand of populism is
that power serve the people. It's easy enough to show that liberal
technocrats like Obama at best give lip service to real democracy,
but reactionary demagogues like Trump veer even farther from the
principle. They only appear "populist" to elitist pundits who regard
the masses as nothing more than a seething horde of prejudices. The
more general historical term for such demagoguery is fascism.
AOC's Green New Deal is just the start. Next let's make it global.
The Supreme Court just legitimized a cornerstone element of voter
War With . . . ?: "We're not the good guys: why is American aggression
missing in action?"
So here's the strange thing, on a planet on which, in 2017, U.S. Special
Operations forces deployed to 149 countries, or approximately 75% of all
nations; on which the U.S. has perhaps 800 military garrisons outside its
own territory; on which the U.S. Navy patrols most of its oceans and seas;
on which U.S. unmanned aerial drones conduct assassination strikes across
a surprising range of countries; and on which the U.S. has been fighting
wars, as well as more minor conflicts, for years on end from Afghanistan
to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Niger in a century in which it chose to
launch full-scale invasions of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), is it
truly reasonable never to identify the U.S. as an "aggressor" anywhere?
One should add that there are two major forms of aggression that
aren't even being counted here: cyberwarfare and economic warfare in
the form of sanctions.
Where John Roberts is taking the court.
Jeannie Suk Gersen:
The Supreme Court is one vote away from changing how the U.S. is
Democrats don't need David Brooks: Response to Brooks'
Dems, please don't drive me away.
Restoring forests may be one of our most powerful weapons in fighting
climate change: "Adding 2.2 billion acres of tree cover would capture
two-thirds of man-made carbon emissions, a new study found." But we're
still cutting down more trees than we plant -- especially in Brazil.
See Alexander Zaitchick:
Rainforest on fire.
Bolton of Mongolia: "The national security adviser's banishment during
Trump's big diplomatic weekend suggests his days may be numbered."
Sudan's military and civilian opposition have reached a power-sharing
Thoughts on the impromptu Kim-Trump summit: Regarding the US media:
"One doesn't hear common sense: that this was a rational friendly gesture
towards a country that Trump has rationally decided not to attack."
Related: Christine Ahn:
It's time to formally end the Korean War.
Trump's Fed nominee pledges to serve as a partisan hack: Judy
Shelton, who established her credentials as a partisan back in 2010
when she lobbied for raising Fed interest rates when unemployment
topped 10 percent, but insists that we should lower them now that
unemployment rates are at a record low. The difference, of course,
is the party affiliation of the president.
How the worst values of sports are taking over America:
A half-century ago, the sporting Cassandras predicted that the worst
values and sensibilities of our increasingly corrupted civic society
would eventually affect our sacred games: football would become a
gladiatorial meat market, basketball a model of racism, college sports
a paradigm of commercialization, and Olympic sports like swimming and
gymnastics a hotbed of sexual predators.
The Cassandras then forecast an even more perverse reversal: our
games, now profaned, would further corrupt our civic life; winning
would not be enough without domination; cheating would be justified
as gamesmanship; extreme fandom would become violent tribalism; team
loyalty would displace moral courage; and obedience to the coach would
Okay, I think it's time for a round of applause for those seers.
Let's hear it for Team Trump!
The Alabama woman indicted after a miscarriage will not be prosecuted.
Stephanie Grisham, new White House Press Secretary, has already been
3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake: This questions some
of my longest and most deeply held beliefs, but for the record:
- Abolution would have come faster without independence.
- Independence was bad for Native Americans.
- America would have a better system of government if we'd stuck with
The more you watch, the more you vote populist: Another entry in
the "television rots your brain" sweepstakes, using Italy and Silvio
Berlusconi as the example.
Republicans dominate state legislatures. That decides political power
The legal battle over the Trump administration's "domestic gag rule,"
George Soros and Charles Koch team up for a common cause: an end to
"endless war": "The controversial billionaire philanthropists are
launching a new anti-interventionist think tank": The Quincy Institute
for Responsible Statecraft, named for John Quincy Adams ("who said in
an 1821 speech that America 'goes not abroad in search of monsters to
There is no 'right' v 'left': it is Trump and the oligarchs against the
rest: Actually, that's the very definition of right v left. Such
naivete Makes me doubt Reich his own title for the otherwise reasonable
Avbolish the Billionaires!
The viral video of Ivanka Trump at the G20 perfectly captures the problem
State of exception: Review of Noura Erakat: Justice for Some: Law
and the Question of Palestine, asking "what role has local and
international law played in the Occupied Territories?"
Did Justin Amash leave the GOP, or did the GOP leave him? The
only Republican member of Congress willing to consider impeachment
spared the Party the embarrassment of his presence, writing an
op-ed announcing his exit from the party. Trump cheered him on:
Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest &
most disloyal men in Congress is "quitting" the Party.
Related: Bianca Quilantan:
Justin Amash: GOP was broken even before Trump's presidency.
Tim Wu explains why he thinks Facebook should be broken up. I will
add that buying competitors to put them out of business has been a very
business practice for quite a while now. The startup I worked for from
the late 1980s (Contex Graphic Systems) was eventually sold off to a
competitor (Barco), which shut it down within a year. Other antitrust
matters: Steven Overly/Margaret Harding McGill:
Google's onetime hired gun could now be its antitrust nightmare.
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Two earthquakes shook southern California this week. More could come,
but predicting them isn't easy.
The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity: "Support for Trump
comes at a high cost for Christian witness." Wehner has been described as
"an outspoken Republican and Christian critic of the Trump presidency."
But the article is less interesting for what he fears Trump idolatry is
doing to evangelical Christianity that for its description of how
deranged Trump's evangelical fans have become. Wehner has a recent book:
The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.
Biden often praises Israeli racists -- but don't expect Kamala Harris
to call him out.
A brief history of US concentration camps.
Trump couldn't ignore the contradictions of his foreign poicy any longer:
"The president moves to straighten out his own foreign policy -- and leaves
his hawkish national security adviser on the sidelines."
Democratic candidates' school integration plans, explained: "Bernie
Sanders and Julián Castro have one, Kamala Harris doesn't really."
Democrats are learning the wrong lesson from Donald Trump: He ran
as a moderate -- and it worked." A moderate, that is, only compared to
his fellow Republican candidates, who weren't moderate by any measure.
Moreover, since his election, he has regularly surrendered his promises
to Republican orthodoxy, except in cases like immigration where he is
the lunatic fringe. But Yglesias didn't write this piece to change our
perception of Trump. He wrote it to disparage those Democrats who see
Trump's extremism as reason to driving the Democratic platform further
to the left.
Britain is run by a self-serving clique. That's why it's in crisis.