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March 23, 2018

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I just watched Trump ramble in his typically incoherent and self-aggrandizing way why he signed a spending bill he was thinking of vetoing. Republicans love Dreamers more than Democrats who wouldn't do a deal on DACA. The military was depleted, but now thanks to Cadet Bone Spurs, it's great again! On and on and on. Trumpism is the overwrought response to its own hysterical psychodrama.

America voted for this hot mess despite the near-infinite warning signs about his low character, vile business practices, and pathological lying. Of course, Hillary played fast and loose with e-mails. Better to roll the dice and see what a man as stupid as his average voter could do.

Democracy has never been a sure bet. Right-wing populism found a way to entice low-information voters with tribal drumbeats. This method preceded Trump who does embody its worst impulses. Republicans in Congress, however, have been exemplifying its horrors for a couple of decades now. Michele Bachmann, anyone?

I'm an example of a liberal elitist. That is, I want smart and informed people in government, not crazies like Trump, Bolton, and Kudlow. Government is complex, and so are economics, science, health care, and political pragmatism. To be sure, reality is frustrating and exasperating. You grow up when you stop trying to make it reflect your own piety and wishful thinking. Trump will have performed a great service if he rouses people from the daydream that democracy can endure despite their insolent cynicism.

Well said, Jon
for sure,
Insanity is the rule of the day!
And while we can look forward to mass destruction and slave camps in empty Wall Marts
Donald's most infamous bombing days are better called bonking.

It's a good thing that Bolton has a cool-headed commander in chief to rein him in. (Joke.)

I don't panic easily but this set of ingredients has me very concerned.

One can only hope trump remains so full of himself that he twitters ad nauseam and is kept hostage by both Mueller and the "women" until November.

There is also the matter of the Chinese retaliatory tariffs hitting the spending power of the trump storm-troopers to the point some of them turn against him. Indeed, if the trump storm-troopers experience a marked decline in their purchasing power from a trade war, that may be a key factor in Congressional support for impeaching and removing trump.

The majority of Americans (who are NOT trump supporters) need to be vigilant if war with either North Korea or Iran becomes imminent by raising hell with their Congressional members so that they oppose the prospect. I suspect most of the trump supporters have a rose-colored, idealized view of war as restoring America's "rightful place" (as a bully) in the world, so, on the subject of war, they are likely a lost cause.

If we liberals are given the opportunity of November to rein in trump by Congressional majorities (as it currently seems likely), our Representatives and Senators must be made aware (by us "common folk") of the absolute necessity that trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy. If they don't impeach and remove trump then, our country is going to face an existential threat from this authoritarian and the cabal of "yes people" around him.

We liberals must strive to render trump as ineffectual as possible until we can vote in November. The Republicans have NO idea of the threat trump poses because they really don't believe in a democracy where people are seen as assets needing protection from the authoritarianism of which trump is so fond. These Republican trump toadies and (poor) excusers have no interest in taming trump because they obviously put party power above working for the common good. What they don't realize is that they are making the same mistake the German industrialists of the early 1930's did in thinking they could bring Hitler to heel. That mistake was risking the very underpinnings of the German state in allowing Hitler to run amok--as they are risking America by letting trump go unchallenged. trump will be emboldened even further if we lose the chance to gain Congress back from the crazies and trump excusers.

Another thing...I don't think Mueller will release anything unless his findings are actionable. The only way any indictments would be actionable would be if Democrats gain both the House and Senate, because the Republicans value party over the country.

Serious, indeed....

If Russia fulfills it's commitment to N.K. the WW III you talk about will be over in minutes,not days or weeks or even months.We are headed in the wrong direction obviously,If that makes me a liberal elite,so be it.
P.S. Just came back from March for your Life at Az Captiol and it was refreshing to see teenagers getting involved in politics.Maybe,it's like a disease.It skips a generation.If so,the GOP is screwed.

Mike Doughty, the GOP won't immediately be screwed, if only because November and 2020 are some time away. This is more than enough time for trump to screw things up so badly the high schoolers of today may very well have MUCH MORE serious problems to deal with than attacks on students.

Bradley,you may be right.Reading a book called the Retreat of Western Liberalism and author points out the not all Trump voters were racists.Many also voted for Obama and are just looking for change-any change as the system has not given them a raise in 30 years and everything boils down to economics.Very interesting concept and points out that whites are going to be in the majority for a long time,so Dems. need to be more than just against Trump and his kind.

Mike, I can recall back in the early '80s Ronald Reagan telling unemployed workers in the Rust Belt to vote with their feet. In other words, follow opportunity. Fast forward 35 years and Donald Trump tells those "left behind" folks that you don't need skills, or sound economic policy, just enemies. These "enemies" won't change the reality on the ground but they'll give demagogues a reason to further enrich the rich at the expense of the working class.

Both Trump and Bernie are busy fighting a war that's been over for over a generation. Both opposed the TPP which would have made America the preeminent economic leader in the Pacific region. Ooga booga messaging killed it and China will reap the rewards.

What the economic landscape shows is that people who are technologically adept and connected fare better than those who are not. Globalization is a fact that wishful thinking will not reverse. The Luddites will scream but there's only one future worth having and it looks a lot like the success you see on the west coast, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic states.

soleri, For a while, I have had a theory about the Republicans' political aims--and it revolves around "predictability."

Remember the dollar bet the two tycoons had over Eddie Murphy's future in "Trading Places?" My theory revolves around the Republicans' attempts at eliminating the middle class because it is so "unpredictable." Here's why...

The rich have two main aims--keep their wealth and accumulate more. The poor want to get wealth--whether by work or crime.

But many in the middle class simply want a manageable existence--and have no desire to be a slave in the pursuit of wealth. It is this definition of "quality of life" being things other than the pursuit of wealth that makes the middle class so unpredictable. They don't value money and wealth to the extent the rich and poor do.

Power, which the Republicans crave beyond measure, loves predictability. The rich and poor are predictable in their behavior. The middle class is less predictable for the reasons above.

I posit that this is the great impetus behind the Republicans' distaste for the middle class--their refusal to submit to a relentless pursuit of capital gain has made the middle class expendable in the Republicans' eyes.

To me, that explains the decline of the middle class from Reagan to today. Their policies are designed to achieve a two-class society.

What do you think?

Bradley, thanks for your theory. I have a zillion of my own as you might have guessed. We hairless apes are a grand if frustrating mystery. I recently read a book by the eminent social scientist Robert Wright, Why Buddhism Is True. The book isn't theological or even metaphysical. Rather, it delves into the knotty problem with human nature, which can be self-defeatingly greedy and power-driven. Darwin would posit that is what nature wanted in order that our DNA gets replicated. You might say nature is a reward system for some fairly unfortunate traits.

The problem both for society and individuals is that these traits make us miserable. For Buddha, the problem is called dukha, the kind of dissatisfaction with life that no amount of beer, sex, or dessert will satiate. From that he taught The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path, which can lead to "liberation".

Our political debates actually reflect aspects of this problem. Republicans want to control most human impulses under the rule of tribal chieftains who monopolize the grasping nature of humans. In this sense, Donald Trump is no longer a mere horror show of a human being. Rather, he's the ultimate expression of nature picking a winner who is unapologetically greedy and piggish.

From my armchair in Portland I survey the vast spectacle of human misery and wonder why anyone thinks winning the lottery would make you happy. Ditto, winning the presidency. Trump is doing what nature wants and he's utterly miserable except when he travels to Dogpatch to hold one of his rallies. His nightmare presidency won't end well for him or the country. But Republicans have been aiming for this crack-up over a couple of generations. The political economy works best when outlandish greed is curbed and wealth is redistributed. Democrats prove this over and over. But nature is not easily fooled. It has planted a brain-eating prion in the minds of many if not most Americans: you can't be happy unless other people are miserable.

Our current unpleasantness is actually a grand opportunity. Why not have an explicit conversation about the "good life" since we're already doing it albeit unconciously? Don't worry: I'm not proposing a TED talk but something Oprah is ideally suited to lead. Why do we punish ourselves and others so much? Politics per se doesn't make us miserable, but it almost certainly reflects our chronic bad mood. Our social contract is fraying before our eyes and we blame one another for something that might actually be our human endowment.


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