Can the President read?

…’When Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live in 2015, none of the regulars were happy about it, according to an interview with Killam in Brooklyn Magazine… But here’s an observation from Killam about Trump that brings us to a serious question.

“What you see is what you get with him, really,” he said. “I mean, there was no big reveal. He struggled to read at the table read, which did not give many of us great confidence. Didn’t get the jokes, really. He’s just a man who seems to be powered by bluster.”

It’s an interesting question, which has been asked before. In news reports of how briefings unfolded before recent air strikes on Syria, multiple accounts say Trump asked for more pictures, no text…’

Source: Boing Boing

Top Democrats Are Wrong: Trump Supporters Were More Motivated by Racism Than Economic Issues


‘Since Donald Trump’s shock election victory, leading Democrats have worked hard to convince themselves, and the rest of us, that his triumph had less to do with racism and much more to do with economic anxiety — despite almost all of the available evidence suggesting otherwise…

Look, I get it. It’s difficult to accept that millions of your fellow citizens harbor what political scientists have identified as “racial resentment.” The reluctance to acknowledge that bigotry, and tolerance of bigotry, is still so widespread in society is understandable. From an electoral perspective too, why would senior members of the Democratic leadership want to alienate millions of voters by dismissing them as racist bigots? …

Philip Klinkner, a political scientist at Hamilton College and an expert on race relations, has pored over the latest data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), and tells me that “whether it’s good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants, and Muslims were a key component of Trump’s appeal.” For example, he says, “in 2016 Trump did worse than Mitt Romney among voters with low and moderate levels of racial resentment, but much better among those with high levels of resentment.”

The new ANES data only confirms what a plethora of studies have told us since the start of the presidential campaign: the race was about race. Klinkner himself grabbed headlines last summer when he revealed that the best way to identify a Trump supporter in the U.S. was to ask “just one simple question: is Barack Obama a Muslim?” Because, he said, “if they are white and the answer is yes, 89 percent of the time that person will have a higher opinion of Trump than Clinton.” This is economic anxiety? Really?

Other surveys and polls of Trump voters found “a strong relationship between anti-black attitudes and support for Trump”; Trump supporters being “more likely to describe African Americans as ‘criminal,’ ‘unintelligent,’ ‘lazy’ and ‘violent’”; more likely to believe “people of color are taking white jobs”; and a “majority” of them rating blacks “as less evolved than whites.” Sorry, but how can any of these prejudices be blamed on free trade or low wages? …’

Source: The Intercept

The Outrage of Bipartisan Praise for Trump’s Bombing of Syria

Instantly falling behind Trump as he ejaculates with Cruise missiles ensures that he keeps doing so: There is no more reliable factor to reflexively unite people behind any leader than war, and Trump now sees how true that is. The same political leaders who have spent the months since his election denouncing him as a mentally unstable inept Fascist and an unprecedented threat to democracy are now lauding him uncritically for his missile attack on Syrian government targets. Even if you are someone who on principle wanted the US to attack Assad, shouldn’t your view that Trump is a fool and a monster prevent endorsement of this war with this Commander-in-Chief?

And, as always in war, the American media is immediately converted into state media. In the first 24 hours after, the five leading US newspapers had eighteen op-ed pieces in praise of, and zero in opposition to, the attack.

The unexamined questionable claim that this attack serves humanitarian goals exerts such a powerful appeal that it overrides all rational considerations. The Trump blockade on refugees fleeing the horrors of the civil war gives the lie to any sentiment for the victims of the gas attacks, though, doesn’t it? The US does not blow things up for altruistic reasons, it does so when it believes there will be some self-serving benefit, but we always want to believe that our bombs and missiles will be filled with love, help, and freedom. In the last two months, Trump has ordered a commando raid in Yemen that has massacred children and dozens of innocent people, bombed Mosul and killed scores of civilians, and bombed a mosque near Aleppo that killed dozens.

While Trump said it was in the “vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons”, there is no conceivable self-defense pretext for Trump’s action. The greatest threat it solves is that to Trump’s infantile ego, instantly giving him the media respect he craves with his most popular action since he took office, changing the indubitable perception of disarray in his administration as his popularity rating continues its steady downward crawl. Trump himself had accused Obama in 2012 of preparing to start a new war in response to falling poll numbers. Instantly falling behind Trump as he ejaculates with Cruise missiles ensures that he keeps doing so. As NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman observed, “This action is a feel-good kind of thing for Trump. Blow away aircraft; you don’t kill any Russians, and that’s it. It’s good optics.”

Those who voice opposition to the bombing campaign are met with two predictable and pervasive toxic conceits driving American decision-making: that we must “Do Something” and “Look Strong,” predicated on the false and dangerous premise that the US military can and should solve every world evil. Democratic policy-makers are in thrall to these same principles. Critics have spent months claiming Trump is a traitorous puppet of Putin’s unwilling to defend US interests and that anyone who refuses to confront the Russians or their proxies like Assad is a sympathizer of or a servant to foreign enemies. Thus, they have no ability or desire to oppose Trump’s wars. Even those Democrats who have criticized the bombing campaign have done so on process issues rather than on the merits – with very few exceptions such as Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

And even the procedural objections to this action have been cowardly and inept. Is no one concerned that he was able to order this attack without any democratic debate, not to mention Congressional approval? The action was without even the pretext of anti-terrorist legal justification Obama drew upon through the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force when he started bombing ISIS in Syria.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard professor and former George W. Bush lawyer, said, “I can imagine the smile on Trump administration officials’ faces when they figured out that they would both enforce a red line that Obama wouldn’t and rely on Obama administration legal thinking to provide cover for doing so.”

The Congressional abdication of war-making authority to an all-powerful imperial presidency has been jointly built by both parties and handed to Trump gift-wrapped.

The autocratic presidency only works in the hands of a clever and moral man. One of Obama’s best decisions, and one of which he said he was very proud, was his resistance to bipartisan demands that he use military force against Assad. In contrast, we knew where Trump’s morality stood long before he was elected, with his explicit vows to commit war crimes — torturing detainees and purposely murdering the families of terrorists.

US war fever waits for nothing. Wanting conclusive evidence before we drop bombs is roundly condemned as support for evil. The chemical weapons claim rapidly became the gospel truth even though questioned in multiple world capitals. How do you know whether there really was a sarin gas attack and, if there was, that the Assad government was responsible? Susan Rice just two months ago boasted to NPR: “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.” Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, for one, had urged an investigation to determine what had actually happened before any action was undertaken in response. No US allies could be enlisted to cooperate and give broader legitimacy to the action. Britain, for example, “said it would not participate if asked,” the Washington Post reported.

Trump made it clear that this was a limited action designed to punish and warn Assad for the use of chemical weapons rather than the start of a new war to remove him. But crossing a line with our aggression often quickly becomes impossible to contain. And I am skeptical that Congress would demand a role in deciding on any wider effort, or that they would prevail if they did. As Glenn Greenwald summarized it:

‘Ultimately, what is perhaps most depressing about all of this is how, yet again, we see the paucity of choice offered by American democracy. The leadership of both parties can barely contain themselves joining together to cheer the latest war. One candidate – the losing one – ran on a platform of launching this new war, while the other – the victor – repeatedly vowed to avoid it, only to launch it after being in office fewer than 100 days. The one constant of American political life is that the U.S. loves war. Martin Luther King’s 1967 denunciation of the U.S. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” is more accurate than ever.’

#notmypresident #notmeinfuhrer