Trump’s kleptocracy

John Gruber on shithead’s kleptocracy:

We’ve now reached the point where Trump’s kleptocracy is just out in the open. Any true believer in democratic norms would agree that the same ethical standards — not to mention laws — apply equally to everyone, regardless of their party. Democrats still believe this; there’s no way Democrats would stand for a president from their own party who used the office to line their own pockets. Nor would they stand for a president who used foreign policy as a cudgel to persuade other countries to open investigations into the president’s political rivals here in the U.S. Republicans’ continuing support for Trump is a rejection of democracy and the rule of law. It really is that simple.

Serious question: Shouldn’t the other G-7 nations refuse to attend? Attending — and spending their nation’s money at a Trump resort — will make them complicit in Trump’s kleptocracy. This is as much a violation of ethical norms — and the Constitution’s emoluments clause — as it would be if the summit were held at a neutral location but the other world leaders were expected to hand Trump envelopes stuffed with cash. Even if Trump were willing to foot the bill for the entire summit out of his own pocket — which, let’s face it, is not his style — it would still be grossly inappropriate and illegal on the grounds of the event’s significant promotional value alone.

We’re way past ‘three strikes and you’re out’.

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Politics

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Tim Cook & Tariffs

Neil Cybart: Tim Cook Continues to Thread the Needle:

Taking a step back to look at the big picture, Apple is not being targeted by either the U.S. or China. If anything, Apple is being boosted by the U.S. with tariff exemptions and delays.

The tariffs that were set to be placed on Apple’s product line on September 1st have been delayed until December 15th. Looking through the list of products that benefit from the delay (iPhone, MacBook, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV), the decision to delay could have very well be renamed the iPhone exemption. It would seem that Tim Cook had a direct role in delaying the tariffs as he apparently talked to Trump about the latest round of tariffs.

Cook made the bet to engage with the current U.S. administration (he has explained his decision numerous times over the years) and it would appear that his bet has contributed to Apple successfully navigating the current environment with just some minor cuts and scrapes here and there.

It is certainly possible that the 15% tariffs will be applied to Apple’s entire product line once December 15th rolls around. However, at this point, it’s probably just as likely that certain exemptions will be granted to Apple as we approach December.

To be human is to make shit up as we go along. Tariffs are tariffs until they aren’t tariffs.

Nothing we make is concrete. Ever.

quote from Above Avalon via Phillip Elmer-DeWitt

“the prisoner of his own impulse”

Inside Trump’s shutdown turnaround:

His poll numbers were plummeting. His FBI director was decrying the dysfunction. The nation’s air travel was in chaos. Federal workers were lining up at food banks. Economic growth was at risk of flatlining, and even some Republican senators were in open revolt.

So on Friday, the 35th day of a government shutdown that he said he was proud to instigate, President Trump finally folded. After vowing for weeks that he would keep the government closed unless he secured billions in funding for his promised border wall, Trump agreed to reopen it.

He got $0 instead.

Trump’s capitulation to Democrats marked a humiliating low point in a polarizing presidency and sparked an immediate backlash among some conservative allies, who cast him as a wimp.

Elected as a self-proclaimed master dealmaker and business wizard who would bend Washington to his will and stand firm on his campaign promises — chief among them the wall — Trump risks being exposed as ineffective.

“He was the prisoner of his own impulse and it turned into a catastrophe for him,” said David Axelrod, who was a White House adviser to President Barack Obama. “The House of Representatives has power and authority — and now a speaker who knows how to use it — so that has to become part of his calculation or he’ll get embarrassed again.”

The dog learns to heel.

“The result is a two-track presidency.”

The New York Times published an anonymous Op-Ed essay by a senior member of the Trump administration, something they’ve never done before:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Scathing.

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Politics, Tromp

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant”

From the Editorial Board of The New York Times:

The last time President Trump claimed that “both sides” were responsible for bad behavior, it didn’t go well.

That was nearly a year ago, after a march of neo-Nazis descended into violence and a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a woman.

On Monday, Mr. Trump again engaged in immoral equivalence, this time during a gobsmacking news conference after his meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A reporter referred to last week’s indictments of 12 Russian military officials for a coordinated cyberattack on the 2016 election and asked Mr. Trump if he held Russia responsible. “I hold both countries responsible,” Mr. Trump said.

Even in a presidency replete with self-defeating moments for the United States, Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, which were broadcast live around the world, stand out.

The title of this opinion piece is ‘Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?’ and they don’t answer that question because no one but Trump knows, yet.

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Politics

Russia’s got the clearance to run the interference.

12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation:

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, on Friday announced new charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The announcement came just a few days before President Trump is expected to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland.

The 11-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy by the Russian intelligence officials against the United States, money laundering and attempts to break into state boards of elections and other government agencies.

The indictment is part of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s become increasingly obvious over the last 2 years Russians have been interfering in American politics for quite some time. The Mueller investigation is just further confirmation.

A good trick I learned when listening to Trump is just think of the opposite of what he says to know what’s really going on. If he says the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, it’s not a witch hunt. If he says Putin is a strong leader, he’s really a scumbag. If he claims he didn’t criticize British prime minister Theresa May yesterday, he did criticize her.

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Politics, Tromp

Man up, Dems

Obama offers Democrats tough love ahead of midterms: ‘Enough moping’:

At one point, he turned to the crowd and declared, “Enough moping, this is a mope-free zone.”

And the former President even suggested to the roughly 200 donors in attendance, who also enjoyed a performance from Christina Aguilera, that Democrats can’t get fixated on the glitz and personality of politics.

“We shouldn’t expect (politics) to be entertaining all the time — and Christina Aguilera was wonderful — but you don’t need to have an amazing singer at every event,” he said. “Sometimes you are just in a church basement making phone calls and eating cold pizza.”

Word. Dems need to toughen up, fight back. The old rules of politics are no longer valid. This doesn’t mean lying, cheating, and treating others with hostility and prejudice like Trump does, but it does mean fighting back.

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Politics

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Net Neutrality Dismantled

F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules:

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service.

The action reversed the agency’s 2015 decision, during the Obama administration, to better protect Americans as they have migrated to the internet for most communications. It will take a couple of weeks for the changes go into effect, but groups opposed to the action have already announced plans to sue the agency to restore the net neutrality regulations. Those suits could take many months to be resolved.

Today was a very bad day for Americans.

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Business, Politics

“Trump is the darkness.”

Josh Marshall on how Trump destroys everything he touches:

I puzzled over this for some time. Eventually I sensed that Trump wasn’t inducing people’s self-destruction so much as he was acting like a divining rod, revealing rot that existed already but was not apparent. It may seem like an odd comparison. But I’m reminded of the effect in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series where the cursed pirates appear to be flesh and blood bodies. But the moonlight reveals them as desiccated skeletons, animated but undead. The rot was there but hidden. Trump is the moonlight. Perhaps better to say, to invert our metaphor, Trump is the darkness.

I would add to this that Trump increases the rot. He brings out the worst in people.

Because he’s constantly lying, he’s creating conflicts were none existed.

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Politics, Tromp

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There’s the door, Texas.

In Texas, Distrust of Washington Collides With Need for Federal Aid:

Few places need the federal government right now more than Texas does, as it begins to recover from Hurricane Harvey. Yet there are few states where the federal government is viewed with more resentment, suspicion and scorn.

For Republicans, who dominate Texas government, anti-Washington sentiment is more than just a red-meat rhetorical flourish — it is a guiding principle.

Gov. Greg Abbott, the Republican former state attorney general, once described a typical day in his old job as, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.” His predecessor as governor, Rick Perry, wrote a book titled “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington.”

The sentiment is not limited to politicians. In June, the legislature of Texas Boys State — the mock-government exercise for high schoolers, run by the American Legion — voted overwhelmingly to secede from the union.

Texas has been a pain in the side of the United States since Day 1. I wasn’t aware of this until I started reading Battle Cry of Freedom and began reading more articles about Texas.

As much as I don’t like the idea of a flag with 49 stars in it, I’m willing to let that go so we can let Texas go.

Let’s see how long Texas can make it on it’s own.

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Community, Politics

“Relief for the Rich Act”

In his op-ed piece, Understanding Republican Cruelty, Paul Krugman explains the redistribution of wealth going on with Republican health legislation:

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

It’s fucked up to see an administration so hostile towards the people they represent.

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Politics