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It Takes A Village – VNV Monday: We the People – 5/15/17



 

HOPE ALL THE MOTHERS AND MOTHERS TO BE HAD A GREAT MOTHERS DAY. Here is The History of Mother’s Day

Meet Anna Jarvis, the founder — and fighter — of Mother’s Day

2 / 29

Laura T. Coffey

 

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The Founder Of Mother’s Day Ended Up Hating It
Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to honor her beloved mother, then spent the rest of her life fighting the holiday’s commercial and political exploitation. She died alone in an asylum.Her story — and the modern-day story of Mother’s Day — began, of course, with her own mother. Here’s how it all got started.

1858

In the beginning

Mother of Anna M. Jarvis, Founder of Mother's Day: Anne Reeves Jarvis, mother of Mother's Day founder Anna Jarvis© Bettmann Archive via Getty Images Anne Reeves Jarvis, mother of Mother’s Day founder Anna JarvisIn 1858, Ann Reeves Jarvis (Anna Jarvis’ mother) organizes Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve sanitary conditions and stem her community’s appalling infant mortality rates. In her lifetime, Jarvis has 13 children and only sees four of them live to adulthood.

1868

Foes unite

In the wake of the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis (Anna Jarvis’ mother) coordinates a Mothers’ Friendship Day in West Virginia to bring former foes on the battlefield back together again. The initially tense day goes well, with veterans from the North and South weeping and shaking hands for the first time in years.

1870

Sacred right

Julia Ward Howe: American feminist, abolitionist and reformer Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)© Getty Images American feminist, abolitionist and reformer Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)Julia Ward Howe, a mother and another forerunner of modern-day Mother’s Day celebrations, suggests a “Mothers’ Peace Day.” She makes the case that war is a preventable evil and mothers have a “sacred right” to protect the lives of their boys.

1873

Howe’s holiday

The inaugural celebration of Howe’s “Mothers’ Day” takes place in June of this year.

1905

Jarvis dies

Ann Reeves Jarvis dies on the second Sunday in May.

1907

Enter Anna

One of Jarvis’ surviving daughters, Anna Jarvis, organizes a small service in honor of her deceased mother on the second Sunday in May at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia.

1908

This holiday sticks

The first formal “Mother’s Day” commemoration is marked with another service on the second Sunday in May at the same church in Grafton, and with a much larger ceremony in Philadelphia. Jarvis has white carnations distributed to the mothers, sons and daughters in attendance in Grafton.

1910

It’s official in West Virginia

The governor of West Virginia makes Mother’s Day an official holiday on the second Sunday in May.

1912

Vision for Mother’s Day

While waging a relentless letter-writing campaign to drum up support for Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis creates the Mother’s Day International Association and trademarks the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day.” “She wanted Mother’s Day to be a very private acknowledgment of all the mother does for the family,” said Katharine Antolini, a history professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “It was very sweet.”

1914

National holiday

Woodrow Wilson© Getty Images Woodrow WilsonPresident Woodrow Wilson makes Mother’s Day an official national holiday. Jarvis is gratified by her preferred placement of the apostrophe in “Mother’s Day” — making it singular possessive, not plural possessive, so each family would honor its one and only mother.

1915

Movement spreads

Mother’s Day becomes an official holiday in Canada.

1915

Changing tide

Shortly after 1915, Jarvis begins to sense that she’s created a monster when she sees the florist, card and candy industries cashing in on Mother’s Day and public interest groups using the holiday to make political statements. She rails against exploitation of what was supposed to be a special, reverential day for families.

1922

Battle with florist industry

Jarvis endorses open boycotts against florists who raise the prices of white carnations every May.

1923

Threats of litigation

Jarvis threatens to sue the New York Mother’s Day Committee, of which New York Gov. Al Smith and Mayor John Hylan are members, over plans for a large Mother’s Day celebration. The event is canceled.

1925

Disorderly conduct

Jarvis crashes a Philadelphia convention of the American War Mothers, a group that had its own Mother’s Day commemoration and began using a white carnation as its emblem. The American War Mothers push for Jarvis’ arrest, but charges of disorderly conduct are dismissed.

1934

Commemorative stamp

Jarvis is slighted when the American War Mothers successfully lobby President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Postmaster General James A. Farley to unveil a Mother’s Day stamp. The stamp features a portrait of painter James McNeill Whistler’s mother with white carnations and the words, “In memory and in honor of the Mothers of America.”

1935

Taking on the first lady

Anna Jarvis accuses first lady Eleanor Roosevelt of “crafty plotting” by using Mother’s Day in fundraising material for charities trying to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates.

1940

Increasingly reclusive

Sensing that she can’t contain her creation, Jarvis threatens to end it during the 1940s. “She told me, with terrible bitterness, that she was sorry she had ever started Mother’s Day,” said one journalist who allegedly pretended to be a deliveryman so he could meet the increasingly reclusive Jarvis.

1944

Asylum bound

Jarvis, now 80, is placed in a mental asylum called the Marshall Square Sanitarium.

1948

Jarvis dies at 84

Jarvis dies at age 84, alone and penniless from the various legal battles she waged over the holiday she started. She never made any profit from Mother’s Day, and she never had any children.

2017

Ever since Consumers spend big bucks on their moms each Mother’s Day.

Source: “Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother’s Day,” a dissertation by Katharine Lane Antolini
Portrait of mother and baby

CURRENT EVENTS:

THE VAGINA GRABBER IN CHIEF DANCE WITH PUTIN AT A GLANCE:

What we know about investigations into Trump campaign and Russia

Maureen Groppe, Eliza Collins, and Bartholomew D Sullivan7 hrs ago

Comey’s fired. Here’s what we know about probes into Trump campaign and Russia

President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey raises a ton of questions, including how this will affect the FBI and congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

Here’s what we know — and what we still don’t know.

Why did Trump fire Comey?

First, let’s start off with the basics.

In recommending Comey’s firing, the Justice Department leadership excoriated the FBI director for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State.

In a letter released by the White House, Trump said he agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Comey “was not able to effectively lead the bureau.” As Trump told reporters on Wednesday: “Very simply, he was not doing a good job.”

But wasn’t he running the FBI’s Russia investigation?

Yes. Comey in March confirmed publicly the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year’s election. Trump has repeatedly denied any connections and has dismissed the Russia story as a “hoax” from Democrats committed to sabotaging his presidency.

White House aides spent all of Wednesday arguing the timing of the firing had nothing to do with the agency’s ongoing investigation.

Where does the FBI’s Russia probe stand now?

That’s what everyone wants to know.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Russia investigations will “continue whether Jim Comey is there or not.”

“Any investigation that was happening on Monday, is still happening today. We encourage them to complete this investigation so we can put it behind us,” Sanders told reporters Wednesday. “Nobody wants this to be finished and completed more than us.”

But Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., expressed concern on Wednesday that the investigation would continue in full force, confirming reports that Comey had asked for more money for the FBI’s probe of Russia’s interference in the election days before being fired. “I’m told that as soon as Rosenstein arrived, there was a request for additional resources for the investigation and that a few days afterwards he (Comey) was sacked,” said Durbin, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and FBI.

Durbin said he did not know the details of the request, which The New York Times reported the FBI director made to Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation who also recommended Trump fire Comey. Durbin also said he did not have direct evidence that the request was related to Comey’s firing. But he had a general takeaway: “I think the Comey operation was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives and this was an effort to slow down the investigation.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Comey made no request for additional funding or personnel in meetings with Rosenstein. “No resources — personnel, money or otherwise,’’ Flores said. “That is false.’’

If the FBI doesn’t investigate, who could?

Democrats are unifying around the call for a special prosecutor. If Trump were truly upset with Comey about his handling of the Clinton probe, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, he could have fired Comey on his first day in office. Instead, Schumer said, the president waited until Congress and FBI investigations into Russia heated up.

“Given the way the President has fired Director Comey, any person who he appoints to lead the Russia investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey if they run afoul of the administration,” Schumer said. Without an independent special prosecutor, he added, “every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

How would a special prosecutor be appointed?

Not easily, it turns out. 

The responsibility would fall to Rosenstein, who wrote Tuesday’s memo justifying Comey’s firing. While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has legal authority to make the appointment, he has recused himself from investigations relating to the 2016 campaign after his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, came to light.

The post-Watergate independent counsel law that gave Congress the authority to call on the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor lapsed in 1999. And passing a new version is unlikely in a GOP-controlled Congress.

An independent counsel isn’t needed, Sanders said, because Congress is also investigating — and because Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Justice Department’s probe, “is about as independent as it comes.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Schumer said Rosenstein’s role in Comey’s dismissal had cast “serious doubts” on his impartiality. Democrats now say the authority to name a special prosecutor should fall instead to the highest-ranking career civil servant at the Justice Department.

James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill on May 3, 2017.©

Carolyn Kaster, AP James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill on May 3, 2017.

So will Congress take any action, then?

There are five key committees looking at aspects of Russia’s involvement in the election.

After the U.S. intelligence community accused Moscow of orchestrating a campaign of cyberattacks against Democratic political organizations, and leaking the stolen information to websites such as WikiLeaks with the goal of undermining public confidence in the election, congressional panels offered to take up the charge.

So far, though, there have been some hearings, but little definitive progress — at least that’s visible to the outside observer.

Here’s where things stand:

Senate Intelligence Committee:

The committee hasn’t held open hearings on its Russia probe since it heard from some academic witnesses on Russian “disinformation” efforts on March 30.

On May 5, committee leaders asked four Trump campaign associates — including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign advisers Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — to provide records of meetings with Russian officials. The committee announced late Wednesday that it sent a subpoena to Flynn for Russia-related documents.

Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said Tuesday night that he was “troubled by the timing” of Comey’s firing, adding it “confuses an already difficult investigation.” Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said it was “shocking” that Comey was fired “during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.” He tweeted that the situation “demands the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

But some members of this investigating panel might not support a special prosecutor. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the panel, said Wednesday such an appointment “would probably shut down our ability to do our work because a significant amount of information would now be denied on the basis of an ongoing investigation.” He urged patience in letting the committee continue its work.

Comey has been invited to testify before the committee during a closed hearing next Tuesday.

House Intelligence Committee:

This panel’s effort is stalled, with staff continuing to go through evidence but no hearings scheduled. After Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., recused himself from the probe and handed the matter over to Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the committee heard from Comey in a May 4 closed session — but that’s about it.

Nunes stepped aside after reviewing evidence at the White House he said proved some Trump associates were inadvertently caught up in surveillance by the intelligence community of legitimate foreign agents during the presidential transition. Nunes shared that information with Trump — before informing fellow committee members, prompting calls for his ouster.

With this as a backdrop, the panel’s top Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, questioned whether the White House was inappropriately interfering in the probe after Comey’s firing Tuesday. “The decision by a president whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an attorney general who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” he said.

Conaway spokeswoman Emily Hytha said he has not addressed the Comey firing, adding the committee’s investigation will continue “as planned.”

Senate Judiciary Committee: 

This committee, which has been one of the most publicly active in its investigation, hosted two hearings that provided critical information in recent days.

The hearing with Comey appeared to be part of the impetus for his eventual firing. On May 3, Comey said in his appearance before the panel that “hundreds and thousands” of emails had ended up on former New York congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop because of Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. Comey said Abedin made a “regular practice” of forwarding emails to her now-estranged husband.

But it turned out that Comey misspoke. After ProPublica reported Monday night that his testimony was not accurate, the FBI issued a statement the next day to the committee attempting to clear things up. That was just hours before Comey’s firing was announced.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday it was within Trump’s right to fire Comey after the FBI director had lost the public’s trust. Grassley also criticized the way Comey had provided information to the committee. But ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., praised the way Comey had worked with the panel, calling a past briefing “comprehensive” and “precise.”

On Monday, Senate Judiciary panel hosted former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James Clapper. In that hearing, Yates told lawmakers that she was so concerned that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador that she warned the White House counsel he was vulnerable to blackmail and could even face criminal charges. Eighteen days later, Flynn was fired.

House Judiciary Committee: 

In a non-binding list of activities the committee adopted for the year, the panel promised to “continue to conduct oversight into allegations of misconduct” by the executive branch. Other than that, there hasn’t been much public movement.

Following Tuesday’s developments, ranking member John Conyers, D-Mich., said Comey’s firing “obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis.” Yet Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., pointed to the recommendations of the attorney general and deputy attorney general in encouraging Trump to fire Comey. “The FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world and it is critical to have a director who holds the trust of the American people,” he said.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent shockwaves through Washington when the they announced last month that Flynn may have broken the law in relation to payments he accepted from Russia for speaking engagements. They came to that conclusion after the committee viewed classified documents related to Flynn.

Cummings said the White House had refused their requests for documents related to Flynn’s tenure. There is “no data to support the notion that Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz said at the time. A Chaffetz spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Comey’s firing, while Cummings called for “immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General Sessions, the deputy attorney general, and FBI Director Comey” for answers.

“There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job,” Cummings said Tuesday.

Contributing: Fredreka Schouten, David Jackson, Deirdre Shesgreen

 QUESTION OF THE DAY:

By TOM MURPHY, AP Health Writer5 days ago
Fact Check: Rumors, Claims and Context on G.O.P. Health Bill
Pregnancy, sexual assault and domestic violence could be considered “pre-existing conditions” that make it hard to keep insurance coverage under the Republican health care bill, according to a number of news articles and social media posts.The bill doesn’t specifically refer to any of these things, and headlines suggesting that it does are misleading.

But the bill does allow insurers, in limited circumstances, to charge more for a health condition that existed before the patient’s coverage starts if that person has had a lapse in insurance. Because of that, there might be the potential in some states for a pregnant woman to be charged more for coverage.

THE CLAIM: Twitter is overflowing with lists of pre-existing conditions, patient testimonials and posts with the #iamapreexistingcondition hashtag. People living with a host of medical conditions are worried about the future of their coverage if the Republican plan becomes law. Concern has focused in particular on women’s health issues, and especially pregnancy. And claims that rape victims are singled out has stirred outrage.

THE FACTS: One of the bigger changes to health care under the Republican plan is that it would allow insurers to consider the health risk of customers applying for new coverage if they had a recent gap in coverage. This is possible only if states apply for a federal waiver to allow it. The Affordable Care Act, which remains in place, does not permit this.

Carrying a baby also carries some risk, so insurance companies see pregnant women as risker — and more expensive — customers when they apply for coverage. The same goes for a person who was injured or sickened with a chronic illness. They consider medical conditions, not how they got injured or sick. For example, if someone sees a therapist because they have been raped, the condition that the therapist treats might be considered pre-existing but the rape would not.

Insurers have generally considered conditions treated within three months of the start of coverage to be pre-existing, health care industry consultant Robert Laszewski said.

Before the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition, and insurers frequently denied coverage because of it.

They can no longer do that. But, under the Republican bill, insurers may be able to charge higher prices for a limited time due to a person’s recent medical history.

British breakfast and Euro-punditry

It’s been an, er, interesting week, to be sure. European views of what’s happening in America are, I’m afraid, not what you might call particularly varied. Despite Herr Drumpf’s Germano-British ancestry, there seems to be a remarkable lack of trust being shown in the US President pro tem. (Although, to be fair, most of the comment from Britain’s serious Right is paywalled, so I haven’t read it.) Indeed, some even go as far as to say that America’s elected President is a teensy bit odd. I realize that this may well be quite shocking to some of you, but you should perhaps be aware that we don’t have much access to the excellent Fox News Channel over here, and are thus somewhat handicapped in the search for knowledge and understanding.

Laboring under this ignorance, people are liable to come up with strange pieces like this one from Nash Riggins:

We live on a planet bound by resolute, scientific principles and concrete facts. Up is up, down is down and blatant lies are blatant lies. It’s all pretty straightforward, actually. But as the days and weeks slowly wither to ash, it’s become increasingly clear that Donald Trump doesn’t live on the same planet that you and I have been occupying all this time.

You see, in Donald Trump’s dystopian and suspiciously orange world, all truths are totally subjective – and everybody is a pathological liar with the memory of a haggard old goldfish. It’s the only possible explanation left after this week’s anomalous FBI pantomime performance.

In fact, our benevolent alien overlord only gave Comey the heave-ho because the US Attorney General made him do it. If Trump had gotten his way, things could have worked out a lot better for everybody.

Or that was the narrative for about half a day, anyway.

By Thursday night, Donald Trump appeared on the ultra-fake NBC News to tell us “this Russian thing” actually played a huge role in his decision to send Comey packing. But then again, maybe it didn’t – because several minutes into the exact same interview, Trump sternly declared the FBI hadn’t even been investigating him in the first place.

Every time Donald Trump utters a single syllable, he tarnishes the integrity of his sacred station that much more. He treats voters like mindless meat bags incapable of independent thought, and whimsically wields his presidential powers like a toddler might curiously pull a cat’s tail. He’s got no clue how the world is supposed to work – and if nothing else, the repulsive duplicity he’s demonstrated over the past four months has proven he doesn’t very much care how it’s supposed to work, either.

In the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole says something rather similar:

What do you do if you’re a reality TV star and your show is flagging?

Easy: you generate conflict. Get people up in arms, keep them talking about you.

So what if some of them are apoplectic? – apoplectic is good. But what if you’ve already started lots of fires and they’re spluttering out? You do what everyone in Hollywood or TV land does when things are not going well – you revive an old idea that worked before. If it grabbed the ratings last time, why not roll it out again? This is what Donald Trump has done with the dramatic sacking of the FBI director James Comey. He is trying to keep his fans happy by reviving his catchphrase from the Apprentice: “You’re fired!”

To suggest that there is some method in Trump’s madness is not to deny that the firing of Comey is indeed mad. The chaotic implementation of the move – with Comey learning of his sacking from breaking news stories on TV and Trump’s surrogates utterly unprepared for the task of defending his latest outrage – suggests that it was largely impulsive. The impulse in question is the narcissist’s rage that the world is refusing to conform to his desires.

Trump’s instinctive gamble has always been that his fans would be happy to live vicariously through him. His self-gratification gratifies their own desires. He is for them a kind of wish-fulfillment, a figure of untrammeled power who doesn’t have to abide by rules, who can grope anyone he wants and fire anyone he wants.

It’s an absurd gamble but of course it paid off with the presidency of the US. It ceases to pay off, however, the moment he begins to look like a man who acknowledges ordinary limits and common laws.

Decorum would destroy him.

There may be many reasons why Trump fired Comey but two of them loom largest: he wanted to and he could.

He is entirely incapable of doing his job, but it happens to be a job that allows him to fire missiles and fire people.

For as long as he survives, he will never be able to resist the gesture for which his fans learned to adore him: pointing his stubby finger and saying “You’re fired!”

Or this, from Simon Riesche:

It is no secret that Donald Trump is greatly concerned with the results of  research into his person. “I get very good marks for foreign policy”, he was pleased to say this week in an interview with the magazine “Time” . That his general popularity continues to be very bad, the President did not say. About the unflattering result of a recent survey – according to which the top three concepts Americans have of Donald Trump, “idiot” (1st place), “incompetent” (2nd place) and “liar” (3rd place) — he unsurprisingly uttered not a  syllable.

It is always the same pattern, the author and blogger Paul Waldman analyzed a few weeks ago. First, the President said “something ridiculous”. Then his helpers would come together to assure either that what Trump was saying was true, or at least had a true core. Subsequently, most media would then deconstruct Trump’s alleged truths and even some Republicans would distance themselves from the president. At the same time, right-wing commentators would rush to help Trump and hastily spread conspiracy theories. “When it’s over, we all feel disoriented, as if someone has just awakened us from a deep sleep and tells us that we have two minutes to come up with support for 20 lies and solve a crossword puzzle.” And then comes the next tweet.

Waldman also has a name for Trumps alleged Masterplan: “Bombardment of baloney”.

Der Spiegel’s Veit Medick has this to say:

Trump’s Putsch from above is a sign of how serious the situation is for him. The Russia affair is not only still there, it has now become a rather unpleasant problem. Ex-Justice Minister Sally Yates put the question on Monday on the issue of why the president held his first security adviser Mike Flynn in office, even though there were warnings that he had misrepresented talks with the Russian ambassador. In addition, it became known that the FBI has now also taken action specifically against Flynn’s associates. That now needs to be stopped – Trump’s decision was  driven by this desire.

We should be careful with historical comparisons, but at this point it is difficult not to think of Richard Nixon. In October 1973, Nixon, then himself under pressure, fired Archibald Cox, the special investigator in the Watergate scandal in which the president was so deeply involved. The dismissal was the beginning of Nixon’s end. Trump hopes that he will come through by making his decision. And so the matter becomes a great test for the US.

Trump and his rhetoric have long been a burden on the independence of the institutions. If the Republican majority now nods through a successor to Comey, the president will not only erode this independence, but also the confidence in the rule of law in the United States.

However, if a person who is supported by Republicans and Democrats and is beyond any doubt is found, the system of “checks and balances” endangered under Trump may experience a certain revitalization. This also includes the use of a non-partisan special investigator, who investigates the Russian affair to the last detail.

In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Marie-Astrid Langer says all this is endangering the Trump project:

In the past few days, Trump has not only shown how impulsive and thoughtless he is, but also how much he is ignoring the influence of his advisors. He has demonstrated above all his low opinion against the independence of the FBI. His behavior feeds a well-known narrative. Earlier, he had compared CIA’s foreign secret service with the Nazis and threatened uncooperative judges. Those who still needed proof of how Trump stands on the separation of powers and the independence of the institutions received him this week.

This behavior may shock Washington, partly also disgust, and harms America’s reputation as a democracy. But the fact is: it hardly changes the minds of Trump’s base. None of what the President has revealed in the past few days is new, but follows his pattern. A majority of the electoral districts voted for him nonetheless. What interests Trump’s voters are perceptible reforms, especially economic. That is why they carried him to the White House, and they will measure him or the Republicans in the mid-term 2018 elections.

But Trump could stumble here: the Russia affair with its ever-new episodes threatens his reform agenda. Firstly, scandals such as the recent ones soak up resources in Washington and delay the implementation of electoral promises, specifically health reform or new tax legislation. Both Trump and the Republicans want to whip the Congress as soon as possible, as long as they have the majority there. Secondly, Trump risks his backing among Republican Congressmen. So far, many of them have shut their eyes, but the president is likely to overstretch loyalty, especially when it comes to a red flag like Russia. Only a few Republicans would have to turn their backs on him, and the majorities in Congress would be destroyed.

And there’s a lot more in a similar vein.

But the NZZ in particular has some other articles less focused on the immediate problems of the Trump administration.

Ivo Mijnssen has an article about the crisis of democracy:

Presidential candidates generally praise the virtues of their country. Donald Trump is different. His America is so degenerate that it is no longer a model for anyone. Asked whether he would stand like his predecessors for the promotion of democracy, he simply said: “We have no right to give lessons. We must go to our own door. “ The statement is symptomatic of the crisis of the promotion of democracy, especially in the country which for decades, with messianic self-assurance, stood for freedom and human rights worldwide.

Trump meets the Zeitgeist. The one-time hopes for the unstoppable global advance of democracy and market economy have given way to a skepticism that often slips into cynicism. At best, it derives from legitimate criticism of the trench between Western realpolitik and humanitarian ideals. In the worst, rulers in Russia or China abuse this temporising to pursue their goals. More and more populists in Europe are joining the choir. The democratic promise has become a concept of struggle.

The Copenhagen Criteria of 1993 for EU candidate countries provided clear legal and market-based standards. This gave the Union a strong leverage in the democratization and opening up of the post-communist states in the 1990s. In return for the costs, Western companies opened up new markets. Democratization in the course of the EU eastward enlargement was a success.

However, the EU did not welcome the movement of democracy on its eastern edge with open arms. The Europeans supported many citizens’ initiatives and , at the beginning of the millennium, spent almost ten percent of their development aid on democracy projects – about the same as the US . They did not open up a prospect of accession to the poor and politically unstable states.

The cost, lack of consensus, and the consideration for the reviving Russia, they held back. The non-committal neighborhood policy, without any prospect of EU membership, which offered Brussels, for example, to Ukraine, was not enough to democratically sustain them.

The US under George W. Bush also contributed strongly to the crisis of democratic promotion. They discovered this as a means against terror , which they applied independently of whether the prerequisites for a liberal order were given in a country. The disastrous armed democracy campaign in the Middle East and the excesses of the war on terror damaged the credibility and led to quarrel with the Europeans. This played into the hands of the enemies of democracy in Eastern Europe.

These conspiracy theories and merging strategies are still valid today – even with a Western audience. They serve the Putins and Orbans of the world as a general purpose weapon to deprecate criticism. The discussion is hardly ever about the difficult to justify promotion of democracy with weapons. Rather, the autocrats attack civil society, the free media and the independent judiciary. Cynically, they do not argue openly against a free society. They merely undermine the credibility of their bearers by branding them as artificial, imported, and unpatriotic.

Expanding particularly on Putin, Andreas Rüesch discusses the new Russian offensives:

A sigh of relief went through Europe, when Emmanuel Macron won the election to the top of France last weekend. The horror of a seizure of power by the authoritarian nationalist party of Marine Le Pen seems to be defeated; the second largest economy in the euro zone remains on a predictable course However, the feeling of being able to sit back and rest easy is wrong. This is not only due to Macron, who will hardly be able to fulfill his hopes. It is also a matter of concern that France – like before the US – was the victim of an externally-driven campaign to influence the elections. The pattern was the same as in the previous year with the American Democrats: hackers got themselves using fraudulent emails access to computers of the Macron camp, captured internal documents and revealed these shortly before the election with the goal of putting the favorites in a bad light.

Unlike in the USA, the trick did not work this time. The publication was far too near the election to have an effect. But this is only a weak consolation, because the leaders of the disinformation campaign will not be beaten, but will draw from this error the necessary lessons for their next action. Interferences such as these threaten to become a permanent companion of Western election campaigns.

Disinformation is now one of Putin’s favorite occupations. The modern communications society offers resources, of which he could only dream as a young agent. Geographic distances have become irrelevant thanks to the Internet, online platforms such as Wikileaks help uncover discrediting documents, and robot programs ensure that propaganda is automated and spread over social networks. It is no longer enough for the Kremlin to stifle democracy in its own country, but it also wants to manipulate it abroad. This fits into Russia’s goal of weakening the West and causing fear on the world stage as a great power. Putin has billions of dollars in his hacking brigades and propaganda budgets; However, it is a cost-effective instrument, much cheaper than a conventional military deployment

….
Trump would probably have been elected without Putin’s help. But the goal of weakening America from within has reached Moscow. The dispute over the Russian interference in the election campaign is like a long-term poison, which paralyzes American politics. The de facto dubious dismissal of the FBI chief, who wanted to track Trumps Russia’s intertwines, was another omen this week that Washington could slip into a real state crisis.

Against this background, it is tragic that the traditional preeminence of the free world is governed by a president who has no sensitivity to the danger from Moscow and who constantly lies to his people. Nevertheless, it is necessary to put Putin within limits. It is not enough to equip the western cyber defense system technically and with personnel. It also needs a new concept of deterrence. Russia must be credibly aware that further manipulation campaigns would result in painful retaliation. Finally, the West also has a rich arsenal of nonmilitary resources. It is conceivable to strengthen the persecution of Russian hackers, who are often confused with the criminal underworld, as well as the freezing of assets of the Putin regime in the West. A discussion is needed before the Kremlin continues to intensify its unstoppable attacks on the foundations of Western democracy.

But it’s fair to say that neither combatting Putin nor ousting Trump is going to be accomplished within the next few days. Trump is about to do some real Presidenting, taking a tour of various countries which host the headquarters of major religions other than Trumpism. So if you aren’t worried enough yet, read the redoubtable Patrick Cockburn:

Many people view Donald Trump as the most dangerous man on the planet, but next week he flies to Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit during which he will meet a man who surely runs him a close second as a source of instability. This is deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31 – the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia since his father King Salman, 81, is incapacitated by old age – who has won a reputation for impulsiveness, aggression and poor judgement in the two-and-half years he has held power. Early on he escalated the Saudi role in Syria, thereby helping to precipitate Russian military intervention, and initiated a war in Yemen that is still going on and has reduced 17 million people to the brink of famine. Combine his failings with those of Trump, a man equally careless or ignorant about the consequence of his actions, and you have an explosive mixture threatening the most volatile region on earth.

Prince Mohammed, who is also defence minister, is not a man who learns from his mistakes or even notices that he has made them. Less than a year after his father became king in January 2015, the BND German intelligence agency issued a warning that Saudi Arabia had adopted “an impulsive policy of intervention” abroad and blamed this on the deputy crown prince whom it portrayed as a naïve political gambler. The degree of alarm within the BND about his impact on the region must have been high for them to release such a document which was swiftly withdrawn at the insistence of the German foreign ministry, but its predictions have been fulfilled disastrously in the following eighteen months.

Trump has already ordered greater US support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, but the deputy crown prince will be primarily bidding for US backing for his confrontation with Iran. Words are already turning into action with reports of the US and Saudi Arabia being at one in planning to stir up an anti-government insurgency among minorities in Iran such as the Baluchis in the south east, something that has been done before but with limited impact.

Saudi leaders were overjoyed by the election of Trump whom they see as sympathetic to them and the Gulf leaders whom he will meet after he arrives in Saudi Arabia on 19 May, before going on to Israel. It is a chilling tribute to the authoritarian instincts of Trump that his first foreign visit as President should be to the last arbitrary monarchies left on earth and to a state where women are not even allowed to drive. On the question of confronting Iran, he is unlikely to be restrained by his Defence Secretary, James Mattis, and his National Security Adviser, HR McMaster, both former generals scarred by America’s war in Iraq, where they see Iran as the main enemy.

The White House is doubtless conscious that the one-time Trump has won universal plaudits in the US was when he fired missiles in Syria and dropped a big bomb in Afghanistan. Trump and Prince Mohammed may be very different in some respects, but both know that fighting foreign foes and waving the flag shores up crumbling support at home.

So there we are. If the weather is even halfway decent where you are, I strongly advise going outdoors and seeing something uplifting.

Petit Déjeuner and other European stuff

Having spent last weekend campaigning, I expected to produce a decent diary this week. However, as I sit down to compile this, I have a streaming cold, so it’s going to be rather less substantial than I’d hoped.

Anyway, today is election day in France, the Presidential run-off between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. The polls all expect Macron to win handsomely; Mme Le Pen is naturally saying she can still win, but her campaign staff are saying that they will regard it as a victory if she gets 35%. That may well be pitching expectations so that they can appear jubilant if she hits 40%, but it will take abstentions on a massive scale for her to win. The purity-obsessed Left are encouraging abstention because Macron isn’t sufficiently progressive for their delicate sensibilities, but it would be astounding if that happened. Apart from the far Left and Le Pen’s own party, political figures from the entire political spectrum are urging people to vote for Macron.

It Takes A Village – VNV Monday: We the People – 5/1/17



 

Excellent report I wanted to share with you:

Welcome to the latest issue of Greenlining’s #ResistReport, which appears on our blog every Thursday. With so many harmful policies coming out of Washington, we hope this will help our friends and supporters plug into grassroots activities to resist these policies here in the Bay Area and around the country.

If you find this weekly compilation of actions, updates, and resources useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Individual actions:
    • Resist negative stereotypes and celebrate Muslim and immigrant mamas this Mama’s Day, thanks to these beautiful images from Forward Together.
    • May Day actions to resist dangerous policies and protect communities are coming! Catch up on the latest Beyond the Moment nationwide “road to May Day” call here (discussion actually starts at about 34:50).
    • Resist on May Day! Stand up for immigrants, workers, womxn, and people of color wherever you are! Find local events, digital resources, posters, and other info here.
    • Connect theory with action through Harvard’s free Resistance School videos.
    • Practice self-care — check out wisdom from Jen Hofmann here.
  • Political & Social Justice Events:
    • March for Science on Earth Day, Saturday 4/22! Rallies in Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, and around the U.S. Find local events here.
    • Learn more about sanctuary policies at the Sanctuary Jurisdiction Symposium, hosted by the Santa Clara Law Center for Social Justice and Public Service on Friday 4/21 at 9 a.m.
    • Join Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Prof. Lowell Bergman for “45 from the Mexican Perspective,” on Friday 4/21 at 6 p.m.
    • Untangle the relationship between (neo)liberalism and Islamophobia at Cal’s 8th Annual International Islamophobia Conference on Friday 4/21-Sunday 4/23.
    • Livestream Sen. Kamala Harris’ first Town Hall as California Senator at Shotgun Players on Friday 4/21 at 3 p.m.
    • Support young people in conversations about race, gender, and power dynamics; attend “Talking with Kids about Race: A Panel Discussion,” hosted by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), on Saturday 4/22 at 3:30 p.m.
    • Learn to resist unlawful evictions and learn more about your tenants’ rights. Join the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, the East Bay Community Law Center, and others on Saturday 4/22 at 2 p.m.
    • Join this multigenerational conversation on the LGBTQ movement’s involvement in electoral politics, hosted by the GLBT Historical Society on Tuesday 4/25 at 7 p.m.
    • Protest ICE detentions and deportations in Richmond on Sunday 4/23 at 11 a.m.
    • Discuss Angela Davis’ “Freedom is a Constant Struggle” at a Racial Justice Reading Group. Meets in Alameda on Tuesday 4/25 at 7:30 p.m.
    • Protest Berkeley’s participation in Urban Shield at the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday 4/25 at 7 p.m.
    • Fight for justice and jobs, peace and the planet: Join the People’s Climate Movement Bay Area at Lake Merritt on Saturday 4/29.
    • Explore emerging threats and learn how to resist authoritarian trends at ‘Facing the Right: A Conversation with Tarso Luis Ramos.’ Hosted by the Center for Political Education, featuring Ramos, ED of Political Research Associates, on Tuesday 5/4 at 7 p.m.
  • Trainings and Discussions:
    • Register for a webinar discussion with Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s EPA Administrator from 2013-2016, on Thursday 4/20 at 5 p.m. Thanks to Interfaith Power and Light for hosting this conversation.
    • Explore social justice and the healing power of art at “The Art of Seeing,” a workshop through OneLife Institute with funding from the Akonadi Foundation, Thursday 4/20 at 6:30 p.m.
    • Practice public speaking at the “Speak from Your Strengths” workshop, hosted by the Asian American Women Artists Association on Saturday 4/22 at 1 p.m.
    • Join the Legal Observer Training for a Rapid Response Team, hosted by Sacramento Immigration Coalition on Tuesday 4/25 at 6 p.m.
  • Arts Events:
    • Uplift over 60 art pieces by trans and gender nonconforming artists across the US at the “Trans Life + Liberation Art Opening” on Friday 4/21 and Saturday 4/22.
    • Support local storytelling at “Stranger in a Strange Land,” on Saturday 4/22 at 7 p.m.
    • Cheer on local musicians at a concert benefiting ScienceDebate.org, fiscal partner for the March for Science. Concert on Saturday 4/22 at 7:30 p.m.
    • Screenprint shirts, hoodies, and fabric to support immigrant justice! Join the Berkeley Animal Rights Center and Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy on Saturday 4/22 at 1 p.m.
    • Build art for the May Day March and Strike on Monday 4/24 at 4 p.m.
    • Drum alongside BoomShake Music and Batala SF on Monday 4/24 at 7 p.m.
    • Celebrate SF MOMA’s Birthday Bash with Solange on Wednesday 4/26 at 6:30 p.m.

WINS FOR COMMUNITIES OF COLOR:

  • Thousands March Nationwide to Demand 45’s Taxes:
    • In over 150 cities on Saturday 4/15, people rallied to demand 45’s tax returns. Thousands gathered in San Francisco alone (with over 10,000 marked interested on the FB event). Speakers included SF Supervisor and Greenlining Leadership Academy alum Jane Kim.
  • 45’s Lawyer Retreats on Sanctuary Cities:
    • On Friday 4/14 the Trump administration’s lawyer told a federal judge that 45’s recent executive order doesn’t actually deprive sanctuary cities of funding. SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, “President Trump tried to take a scorched-earth approach to immigration, and San Francisco stood up to him. Because San Francisco faced down this bully, and because others like Santa Clara County joined us, President Trump had to back down.” Whether this constitutes a real change or a temporary tactical retreat as cities resist remains to be seen. Read Herrera’s full statement here.
  • Sanctuary Restaurant Movement Sweeps Bay Area and East Coast:
    • The Sanctuary Restaurant movement has swept the Bay as well as cities around the country, including Philadelphia, Boston, L.A., Miami, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Though lacking legal force, the effort at least symbolically “protects restaurant workers from harassment and [promotes] diverse workplaces and communities regardless of immigration status.”
    • With an estimated 30% of SF restaurant workers undocumented, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association announced last week that it will formally educate its 1,000 member restaurants on immigrants’ rights for employees and patrons alike.
  • New Fruitvale Restaurant and Worker-Owned Cooperative Incubator to Support Workers of Color in Fine Dining:
    • Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights purchased a building in Fruitvale for a new restaurant, Colors, to serve as a training facility and worker-owned cooperative incubator. The effort seeks to usher more workers of color into fine dining and higher-wage restaurant industry jobs by specifically addressing the intersection of race and income inequality.
  • Foundation Earmarks $90 Million to Girls of Color:
    • Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, Pamela Shifman, noted that “minority girls are disproportionately affected by a number of social ills, including poverty and sexual assault, but are largely overlooked in philanthropic giving.” Over seven years, the $90 million will fund community-based groups that specifically work with girls of color, as well as national policy and research organizations focused on issues for women and girls of color.

RESOURCES:

  • Intro Materials:
    • Explore how one Korean-American woman understands being a woman of color and how a Chinese-American woman grapples with the absence of Asian Americans in U.S. history books.
    • Unpack the ‘Model Minority’ Myth here. Learn how this myth has pitted AAPI communities against black communities in the US here.
    • Check out these “10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read.”
    • Decolonize your history with this article, “8 Times the US Government Gave White People Handouts to Get Ahead”’
    • Listen to Prof. Duchess Harris’ presentation, “Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA,” the inspiration for the movie Hidden Figures

 

 

Status of the Latest Distraction from Russia– Tax Reform:

The Vagina Grabber In Chief has introduced his “Bernie Madoff” tax reform principle that has the potential to create a black hole of financial debt and send the country into a recession. That bastion of liberalism Jennifer Rubin [snark], even scoffs at the Tax reform effort backed in March.

” In the case of taxes, both Trump and Ryan ignore palpable distaste for widening income inequality and the risk of enlarging the already enormous debt. However, in this case, Ryan is more wrong than the president, if only because Ryan offers the working poor and middle class so little. At least Trump would have the argument that the middle class gets something along with the rich:

Trump’s plan arguably reflects his unique style of conservative populism. The proposal would be extremely costly for the government, and the president’s past comments suggest he would be willing to put the federal government deeper into debt to fund breaks for the middle class.

Ryan’s plan would instead simplify and streamline the tax code in accordance with conservative orthodoxy, eliminating the goodies for households with modest incomes that Trump would preserve or expand.

In all, taxpayers with roughly average incomes could expect a tax cut of around $1,100 a year under Trump’s plan, compared to just $60 under Ryan’s plan once the proposals were fully implemented.

Ryan’s plan gets worse, however. Ryan want to fill the revenue gap created by his plan with a border adjustment tax. That idea makes the Ryan plan even less likely to pass the Senate and less friendly toward middle- and lower-class Americans who spend more of their income on imported necessities (e.g., food, clothing, household goods) that will include a new tax paid by consumers.

Frankly, we don’t think any cut of the top marginal rate for individuals makes sense at a time of huge debt, when neither party has the nerve to address entitlement reform. Revenue-neutral corporate tax reform, pro-growth trade and immigration policies, smart regulatory policy and investment in both worker skills and physical infrastructure have much more appeal politically and are likely to bear equal or better results than another 1980’s-style tax cut for those at the very top.

Most Corrupt ever!

Trump’s White House Family Affair Looks A Lot Like The Most Corrupt Nations In The World

Presidential advisers Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner are still connected to their own businesses.

ILLUSTRATION: JON SHIN/HUFFPOST; PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON ― For decades, the United States has worked with other countries to eliminate nepotism. There’s a good reason for that: Nepotism breeds corruption.

“You’ve seen it in countries all over the world where they’ve appointed family members, whether it’s their son, daughter, in-laws — it provides for tremendous opportunities for corruption,” said Shruti Shah, an international anti-corruption expert at Coalition for Integrity, a good-government nonprofit. “People who want to curry favor find their way to provide favors to family members as a way to get closer to the person in power.”

But President Donald Trump, who has entrusted more power to his family members than any recent president, puts that agenda at risk. “I like nepotism,” Trump told Larry King in 2006, the year he replaced his “Apprentice” costar, Trump company executive Carolyn Kepcher, with his daughter Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, hold broad portfolios at the White House that include everything from diplomacy with China, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, women’s issues, cybersecurity and reinventing government.

They determine who else has power in the Trump administration. Trump sidelined Steve Bannon, a close adviser, after he butted up against his daughter and adviser-in-law, and he elevated former Goldman Sachs employees Gary Cohn and Dina Powell based in part on their friendly relationships with Ivanka and her husband. And the couple act as presidential emissaries, with Kushner traveling to Iraq at the suggestion of the Pentagon and Ivanka heading to Germany.

Ivanka and Kushner — the two Trump advisers least likely to be fired — now rule the White House. And, although Ivanka and Kushner are not being paid, they maintain ownership stakes in their own businesses. Ivanka owns her own personal brand, which produces shoes, clothing, jewelry and accessories, and has a stake in her father’s businesses, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Kushner, like Trump, is a real estate magnate with numerous holdings throughout the U.S. who inherited his wealth from his father.

The nepotism in the Trump administration would seem familiar in foreign countries with high rates of corruption, according to U.S. diplomats who have served in them.

“For many countries and governments, certainly in the Gulf, in the Middle East, they would recognize this pattern immediately,” Gerald Feierstein, who served as ambassador to Yemen from 2010 to 2013 and worked as a deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, told HuffPost. “I think that they would find it completely normal that leaders mix personal business interests with government affairs and would use family members in various official responsibilities.”

THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES
Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law, listens to Donald Trump during a White House session with cybersecurity experts.

Joseph C. Wilson IV, former ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe from 1992 to 1995 and deputy chief of mission in Iraq during the first Gulf War, told HuffPost, “If you’re an overseas businessman or politician who wants to curry favor with the Trump family, it doesn’t hurt to provide these little niceties to them. Things such as having a conference at the Trump hotel in Washington or entertaining at the Trump hotel, that you already see.”

Foreign countries have indeed taken advantage of the continued business ownership of Trump and his children/advisers.

China approved five new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s business on the same day she met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ivanka’s business already had 16 registered trademarks in the country and has 30 more pending. The new trademarks covered the brand-name rights for jewelry, spa services and purses. The vast majority of Ivanka Trump’s product line is made in China and imported to the U.S.

Kushner’s company was seeking an investment from a politically connected Chinese bank into the largest property he owns. Those negotiations ended after members of Congress and others questioned whether it would create a conflict of interest with his work as a go-between for the White House and Chinese leadership. (Kushner sold his stake in the building to a private trust controlled by his family members.)

Foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Turkey, have held or plan to hold events at Trump’s D.C. hotel, which both the president and his daughter have a stake in. It is not known how many diplomats and foreign dignitaries have decided to book rooms at Trump hotels or properties since the president took office.

“I think the Chinese have already completely figured it out,” Feierstein said. “I would say the Arabs have figured it out. Because, again, from their perspective, this isn’t an unusual thing. One way of ensuring favorable treatment is you take care of the business interests.”

SABAH ARAR VIA GETTY IMAGES
Supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrate in Baghdad on Feb. 8 to demand reforms from Iraq’s leading parties, which they accuse of corruption and nepotism.

Not all former diplomats see Trump’s nepotistic governing arrangement through the lens of foreign nations.

“Actually I would compare it to what I’ve seen in Washington,” Ambassador John Herbst, who headed the embassy in Uzbekistan from 2000 to 2003 and in Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, told HuffPost.

Herbst is right: The U.S. has its own long tradition of political nepotism. President George Washington was opposed to nepotism, but his successor, John Adams, appointed his son John Quincy Adams as minister to Prussia. Unlike Kushner and Ivanka Trump, John Quincy Adams had already, perhaps against his wishes, worked as minister to the Netherlands during Washington’s administration. “I rather wish it had not been made at all,” Adams lamented about the Netherlands posting. Later, President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert as attorney general.

When PresOident Bill Clinton tapped his wife, Hillary Clinton, to lead an effort to reform health care in 1993, conservative and medical industry groups charged that her appointment violated either a 1967 anti-nepotism law or a federal advisory committee law requiring public meetings. But two appeals court judges ruled that Hillary Clinton’s White House role was not a violation of the anti-nepotism law. The decision stated that the nepotism law probably did not apply to White House adviser positions, particularly if they were unpaid.

“The anti-nepotism statute, moreover, may well bar appointment only to paid positions in government,” D.C. Circuit Court Judges Laurence Silberman and Stephen Williams wrote in their 1993 decision. “Thus, even if it would prevent the President from putting his spouse on the federal payroll, it does not preclude his spouse from aiding the President in the performance of his duties.”

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel made the same argument in a 14-page memo rationalizing Trump’s appointment of his son-in-law as a White House adviser. The legal counsel also argued that a subsequent law providing the president with unilateral hiring authority in the White House superseded the possibility of the nepotism law restricting the employment of children or in-laws.

Or, as Eric Trump, the co-head of the president’s multibillion-dollar international business, puts it, “Nepotism is kind of a factor of life.”

One Hundred Days of Incompetence:

There is frustration all around. During his first hundred days in office, Trump has not done away with populist rhetoric, but he has acted almost entirely as a plutocrat. His Cabinet and his cast of advisers are stocked with multimillionaires and billionaires. His positions on health care, tax reform, and financial regulation are of greatest appeal to the super-wealthy. How he intends to improve the situation of the middle class remains obscure. A report in Politico described thirty staffers holed up in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, attempting a “rebranding” of this first chapter of the Trump Administration. The aides furiously assembled “lists of early successes” on whiteboards.

One success they can name is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, although Democrats rightly judge that his seat was stolen from Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. The first hundred days are marked most indelibly by Trump’s attempted ban of travellers from six Muslim countries, which failed in the courts, and the effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which imploded in the House of Representatives. The list of domestic initiatives is largely confined to reversals of achievements of the Obama era. Trump has proposed an expansion of the prison at Guantánamo and ordered the easing of Dodd-Frank financial regulations. He has reversed plans to save wetlands and protect waterways from coal waste; he has reversed executive orders that banned gun sales to the mentally ill and that protected L.G.B.T. federal employees from discrimination; his Vice-President voted in a Senate tiebreaker to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood clinics. Trump, because of the lavish travel habits of his family, is shaping up to be the most expensive executive in history to guard. At the same time, his budget proposals would, if passed in Congress, cut the funding of after-school programs, rental-assistance programs, the Community Development Block Grant program, legal assistance for the poor, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scorekeepers will credit these as promises kept. Guardians of democratic values and the environment, champions of economic opportunity and the national well-being will view them as an ever-growing damage report.

“There’s a slight madness to thinking you should be the leader of the free world,” Obama admitted before he went ahead and ran for President. But even after Richard Nixon’s anti-Semitic rants and Ronald Reagan’s astrology-influenced daily schedule, we are at a new level of strangeness with Donald Trump—something that his biography had always suggested.

Trump emerged from neither a log cabin nor the contemporary meritocracy. He inherited his father’s outer-borough real-estate empire—a considerable enterprise distinguished by racist federal-housing violations—and brought it to Manhattan. He entered a world of contractors, casino operators, Roy Cohn, professional-wrestling stars, Rupert Murdoch, multiple bankruptcies, tabloid divorces, Mar-a-Lago golf tournaments, and reality television. He had no real civic presence in New York. A wealthy man, he gave almost nothing to charity. He cultivated a kind of louche glamour. At Studio 54, he said, “I would watch supermodels getting screwed . . . on a bench in the middle of the room.” He had no close friends. Mainly, he preferred to work, play golf, and spend long hours at home watching TV. His misogyny and his low character were always manifest. Displeased with a harmless Palm Beach society journalist named Shannon Donnelly, he told her in a letter that if she adhered to his standards of discretion, “I will promise not to show you as the crude, fat and obnoxious slob which everyone knows you are.” Insofar as he had political opinions, they were inconsistent and mainly another form of performance art, part of his talk-show patter. His contributions to political campaigns were unrelated to conviction; he gave solely to curry favor with those who could do his business some good. He believed in nothing.

By the mid-nineties, Trump’s investment prospects had foundered. Banks cut him off. He turned to increasingly dubious sources of credit and branding opportunities at home and abroad. A typical deal, involving a hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan (described at length in these pages by Adam Davidson), included as partners an Azerbaijani family distinguished for its outsized corruption and for its connections to some Iranian brothers who worked as a profit front for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. There is little mystery as to why Trump has broken with custom and refuses to release his tax returns. A record of his colossal tax breaks, associations, deals, and net worth resides in those forms. It may turn out that deals like the one in Baku will haunt his Presidency no less than his grotesque conflicts of interest or any of the possible connections to Russia now being investigated by the F.B.I. and congressional committees will.

As Trump struggled in business, he made a deal with NBC to star in “The Apprentice,” which, for fourteen seasons, featured him in a role of corporate dominance. It was there that he honed his peculiar showmanship and connected to a mass audience well beyond New York City, perfecting the persona that became the core of his Presidential campaign: the billionaire populist. That role is not unknown in American history: in the eighteen-seventies, wealthy leaders of the Redeemer movement, a southern faction of the Bourbon Democrats linked to the Ku Klux Klan and other white paramilitary groups, set out to defund public schools, shrink government, lower taxes for land owners, and undercut the rise of a generation of black politicians.

It Takes A Village – VNV Monday: We the People – 4/24/17

Grass Roots Activism- Our salvation



 

 

Glad to see that President Obama will be making a speech soon. Sent encouragement to the French Presidential Candidate Melacon.

Popular vote winner Hillary Clinton blasted the Vagina’s Grabber In Chief recent anti-LGBTQ attacks, urging Americans to “remember 2018, the midterm elections” and “resist, insist, persist and enlist and make sure our voices and our votes count.” Hillary said:

“We have to face the fact that we may not ever be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues,” the former Democratic nominee said during a speech at a fundraising event for The Center, a community LGBT organization in New York City.

Clinton singled out the Trump administration’s February directive revoking Obama-era protections for transgender students, with the Justice and Education Departments telling schools to disregard memos instructing them that preventing students from using bathrooms that aligned with their sexual identity would violate federal law.

The 2016 Democratic nominee added that if LGBT advocates wanted to see progress from the federal government, they needed to focus their efforts on the next round of congressional elections.

Protests during the presidency Just a reminder

Protest in Chicago on January 20

  • January 20 – Fifty women from El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, demonstrated against the proposed wall and the Trump Administration immigration policies by standing on the US/Mexico border, linked by hands and braiding scarves or hair together between 7am and 9am.[290][291] The women were part of an organization called Boundless Across Borders.[291]
  • January 20, inauguration – Multiple protests took place in connection with the inauguration of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America.[292]

Women’s March in Washington D.C.

  • January 21, Women’s Marches – A series of political rallies known as Women’s Marches took place in locations around the world.[293][294] Estimates suggest between 3.3 and 4.6 million people took part, making it the largest protest in United States history.[295]
  • January 25 – Seven Greenpeace members climbed a construction crane belonging to Clark Construction and displayed a large banner saying “Resist”, blocking traffic and interrupting work on a new office building a half mile from The White House.[296]
File:Trump Immigration Order Sparks Protests at NY Airport.webmhd.webm

‘Trump Immigration Order Sparks Protests at NY Airport’ report from Voice of America

February 2017[edit]

Protests in St. Louis

LGBT Solidarity Rally on February 4

Day Without Immigrants 2017 – Protesters in Washington, D.C.

File:Not My President's Day Protest VOA.webm

‘Not My President’s Day Protest’ video from Voice of America

  • February 20Not My Presidents Day, thousands of protesters in cities around the country demonstrated against Trump.[347]
  • February 21 – Protesters participated in a “Resist Trump Tuesday” protest in Chicago where 8 clergy members of different faiths were arrested.[348]
  • February 22 – After the Trump administration rescinded the protections for transgender students to use school restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, protests took place. [349] There were around 200 people demonstrating in front of the White House in support of transgender students’ rights.[350] The city council of Richmond, California passed a resolution which supported an investigation of Trump in relation to the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.[351]
  • February 24 – The United Talent Agency (UTA), which had already cancelled its Oscars party, hosted a rally against Trump, called “United Voices.”[352] The event helped raise $320,000 for the ACLU and the International Rescue Committee.[352] At the rally were Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Keegan-Michael Key and other celebrities.[353] There were nearly 2,000 attendees.[352]
  • February 27 – A peaceful protest that stopped some traffic occurred in Minneapolis in the evening. The protest drew between 150 and 200 demonstrators who protested Trump and were in support of $15 minimum wage.[354]
  • February 28 – Protesters in Vancouver demonstrated anti-Trump sentiment during the grand opening of the Trump hotel in Vancouver.[355] Outside the White House, despite pouring rain, Rosie O’Donnell led a few hundred protesters against Trump.[356]

March 2017[edit]

  • March 1 – Protests against Trump using the hashtag, #CampusResistance, occurred on college campuses across the United States.[357]
  • March 2 – Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protested proposed budget cuts for their department. There were a “few dozen” protesters at the Federal Plaza in Chicago.[358]
  • March 3 – Around 1,000 protesters in Chicago demonstrated for transgender rights and against the Trump administration.[359] In Palm Beach, around 100 protesters demonstrated against Trump, and one protester was arrested and given a traffic ticket and then released.[360]
  • March 4 – Counter-protesters at Pro-Trump rallies (Spirit of America) occurred on March 4, with one protest, at Berkeley, becoming a violent clash between pro and anti-Trump groups.[361] Ten people were arrested in connection with the violence and the protest briefly shut down the BART station at Berkeley.[362] In Minneapolis, anti-Trump and pro-Trump supporters also clashed and six people were arrested for setting off firecrackers.[363]
  • March 6 – A rally held outside of the White House against the new travel ban. Tom Perez was one of the speakers.[364]
  • March 8A Day Without a Woman, a call for women not to work on International Women’s Day.[365]
  • March 10 – Thousands of protesters marched from the US Army Corps of Engineers headquarters to the White House to protest the Dakota Pipeline decision by Trump.[366]
  • March 12 – In Baltimore, several groups protested the revised travel ban.[367] On Sunday morning, an anonymous environmental group carved the message “NO MORE TIGERS. NO MORE WOODS.” into the greens of the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes.[368] On the same day, in Brentwood, Los Angeles, roughly 50-60 people protested outside the offices of Breitbart News aiming to “hold the Trump Administration accountable for its unprecedented assault on the free press.”[369]
  • March 14 – Tech industry workers protested Trump’s policies on Pi Day.[370] There were a few hundred protesters in Palo Alto.[371]
  • March 15 – Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside of a Trump rally in Nashville.[372] A physician, Carol Paris, interrupted the rally with a sign reading “Improved Medicare for All” and when she was met with boos from the crowd, Trump stopped speaking and she was asked to leave.[373] In Detroit, about 300 protesters demonstrated at the Willow Run Airport and denounced Trump’s environmental policies.[374]
  • March 17 – A small protest against Trump took in took place in Aspen.[375] In New York, the “Irish Stand” event took place. It was led by Aodhán Ó Riordáin in Riverside Church and opposed Trump’s stance on immigration.[376]
  • March 18 – Protests in London, Cardiff and Glasgow against Brexit and Trump’s “anti-migrant hysteria.”[377]
  • March 20 – Hundreds of protesters on Monday waved signs and gave fiery speeches at the gates to Freedom Hall ahead President Donald Trump’s visit to tout his plan to replace Obamacare, booing as Air Force One passed overhead for landing. [378][379]
  • March 21 – In opposition to “Trump Care,” around 300 protesters held a “die-in” outside of the office of Representative Darrell Issa in Vista, California.[380]
  • March 25 – Trump supporters clashed with Protesters after the Trump supporters path were blocked by the protesters.
  • March 28 – Anti-Trump Protesters Gather Outside Senator Cornyn’s Houston Office and voice their opinion.

April 2017

Tax March demonstrators outside the United States Capitol

  • April 1 – Hundreds of protesters showed up for a “dance party” protest outside of Ivanka Trump’s Washington, D.C. home.[383]
  • April 2 – Around 300 people, both pro and anti Trump came to a rally at Esther Short Park.[384]
  • April 3 – Protesters displayed a banner with the words “Impeach Trump” at the opening day game at Nationals Park.[385]
  • April 4 – Movie theaters across the United States and in five other countries screened 1984 in a protest against Donald Trump.[386][387]
  • April 9 – More than 3,000 people came to the Dallas MegaMarch demonstration to protest Trump’s immigration policies.[388][389] Protests against Trump’s strike on Syria occurred in Milwaukee.[390]
  • April 10 – Children and young adults from the group, We Belong Together, start their spring break trip to Washington D.C. to protest Trump. They first protested on Monday outside of Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office because the mayor of Miami-Dade County has agreed to work with Trump.[391]
  • April 11 – Protests against both Trump and Representative Marsha Blackburn took place in Clarksville, Tennessee.[392]
  • April 12 – The “first protest in space” was carried out by the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) by printing a tweet against Trump and flown into the near-space atmosphere.[393]
  • April 13 – Around 25 protesters from the group, “Rise and Resist” were arrested while protesting immigration policies at Trump Tower.[394] Around 200 young people and other activists from We Belong Together protested in front of the White House.[395]
  • April 15 – The Tax March demanded that Donald Trump release his tax returns. Thousands attended rallies and marches held throughout the U.S.[396][397] At least 21 people were arrested as Trump supporters and opponents clashed Saturday at the Civic Center Park in Berkeley, California, police said. Another eleven people were also injured.[398]
  • April 18 – Protesters came to Snap-on Inc. in Kenosha, Wisconsin to urge Trump to release his tax returns. President Trump was there to sign an executive order.[399]
  • April 19 – Anti-Trump protesters showed up at Auburn University after “word got out that white nationalist Richard Spencer would be speaking at an event.”[400]

Planned protests

 Resistance Continues:

Jon Ossoff was 3200-3700 short of a clear win, but will win in June. Dems need to keep strong during the Budget negotiations, shut the Gov down if necessary, I will be directly affected.

Rev. Barber Silence is not an option https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1529379923760159/

It Takes A Village – VNV Monday: We the People – 4/17/17

Grass Roots Activism- Our salvation


 

 

This week post will be short due to illness and PC Issues:

The continue dismantling of regulations and rules enacted to protect the most vernable continues with the resolution  to let states not fund planned parenthood.

We drop the Mother of all bombs on a another Nation of Color, shades of Doctor Strange Love.

Vagina Grabber In Chief wants to ride in a Carriage when he visits Britain.

7 executions in a role, what have we become as a nation.

 

 Resistance Continues:

Thousands March for The Vagina Grabber In Chief ‘s Tax return

Easter Breakfast

I’m writing on Saturday, so let’s hope we’re all still here to read it on Sunday.

As is becoming almost usual, I’m leading off with Patrick Cockburn:

War-whoops and loud applause from foreign policy establishments and their media supporters have greeted President Trump’s missile strike in Syria, the dropping of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan and the dispatch of a naval task force in the direction of North Korea.

This spurt in belligerence over the last week has as much to do with domestic American politics as any fundamental new development in the rest of the world. Trump needed to defuse the accusation that he was too close to President Putin and too tolerant of a Russian ally like Bashar al-Assad. The resort to military action was largely in keeping with the old Pentagon saying that “defence policy ends at the water’s edge”, meaning that it is politics inside, not outside the US, which is the real decision-maker.

Simple-minded though some of Trump’s declarations might appear, others were more realistic than anything said by Hillary Clinton or Senator John McCain.

In Syria, for instance, the main problem for the US and its allies is and has long been that, though they would very much like to get rid of Assad, the only alternative appears to be anarchy or the empowerment of Isis and al-Qaeda clones. Clinton’s policy, insofar as she had one, was to pretend that there already existed, or could be created, a “third force” in Syria that would fight and ultimately replace both Isis and Assad. This is the sort of fantasy that is frequently common currency among think tanks and dedicated experts, often retired generals or diplomats working as TV commentators.

Trump’s summary of what was happening in Syria expressed during the presidential campaign was far more realistic. He said that his attitude was that “you are fighting Syria, Syria is fighting Isis, and you have to get rid of Isis. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful because of us, aligned with Syria… Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.”

Obama could see what was going wrong, though he generally responded with stoic resignation rather than attempting to change the course of events. But his analysis of the weaknesses of the US foreign policy establishment and its policies is full of fascinating insights relevant to the more conventional policy on which Donald Trump is now apparently embarking. Goldberg says that Obama “questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally.” He had similar misgivings about US links to Pakistan.

One thing I very much like about Cockburn is his skepticism about politicians of all stripes. I’ve not been able to detect him pushing any particular line while writing about the ME conflicts beyond a slight sympathy for the Kurds’ wish to have a safe space where they can be left alone.

I don’t mind his criticism of HRC in the slightest: I was a strong supporter of her candidacy, but I was never under the illusion that I’d be entirely comfortable with her military stance (although I never bought the idiot Left’s lurid depictions of her as a bloodthirsty warmonger).

It’s been pretty clear to me for some time that there are no good guys in the Syria/ISIS conflict: Assad is a monstrous butcher, but the Syrian opposition aren’t exactly models of upright decency either. So I’ll continue to let Cockburn explain to me what’s going on.

One thing is evident, though. POTUS* is changing his little mind. Mark Steel comments:

What a relief to discover that after all our worries, Donald Trump is full of heart. Now many people who suggested he was a narcissistic, bigoted maniac have realised they misunderstood him and he’s a tender emotional sort, because his order to bomb Syria proves he was moved by the pictures of children attacked by President Assad.

There’s no real indication of whether the bombing had any military impact or what it was designed to do, but that doesn’t matter. It was a symbolic gesture and Assad now knows if he uses any more chemical weapons, he’ll be dealt another one. Trump might poison his fish or even unfollow him on Twitter, because he’s motivated by his heart.

It may be true that other bombing sessions out there, such as the ones in Iraq or Libya, didn’t go entirely to plan, but this is a much simpler situation, and carried out by a President known for carefully nuanced subtlety, so it’s hard to see a problem.

This time the bombing is simple. So if you don’t support it, you’re helping Assad. This is different from a couple of years ago when we were asked to support the bombing of Isis, who were fighting against Assad. At that point anyone not supporting the bombing was told they were helping Isis, and not backing Assad enough. Sometimes we might change sides during a bombing campaign, but then we simply shout down to everyone and ask them to move around so the bombs land on the right people.

As proof of his careful planning, Trump now claims Nato is not obsolete after all, which some journalists who follow him closely suggest could indicate a possible change from his earlier claims that Nato was an utterly obsolete useless turd.

Mention of NATO leads naturally to some coverage of POTUS*’s meeting with its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Frithjof Jacobsen has some thoughts:

The same day that Jens Stoltenberg spent an entire afternoon in the White House – he was there much longer than the time it took to meet Trump – the Washington Post published an article about how difficult it is for leaders to get something concrete out of meetings with Trump. Several sources in Washington’s diplomatic corps have said that the meetings with Trump created uncertainty and doubt, because the president just sat there, seemingly without a plan for what was to come out of them.

An unnamed source said it was like getting into a bar and just ending up talking to a stranger on the stool beside. In and of itself one of the nicest things to happen in a bar, but not so fine for creating order in international politics. Had it been the Irish prime minister could perhaps live with it, but everyone who comes into the Oval Office does so with a deep need for direction, leadership and oversight. That is not what they get from Trump

As far as I understand, Stoltenberg’s most important meeting happened before he met the president. The meeting also took place in the White House, but not in the Oval Office. It was the office of the National Security Advisor HR McMaster, at which  Defense Minister James Mattis was also present. The two former generals, along with Secretary of Rex Tillerson, seem now to be those that in practice create and execute US foreign and security policy.

This is in a way good news for NATO and Europe, since they both have a safe and traditional approach to the things NATO cares about. But it also shows how confusing and person-based power relations are in Trump’s administration. And a little disturbing is to see how apparently quickly Trump can park counselor Steve Bannon and his wing, which barely one hundred days ago seemed to be the central political power around Trump. If they can be sidelined so quickly, we have no guarantee that the generals will not be sent to the doghouse at short notice.

Now let’s move on to something else, such as the special election in GA. Annett Meiritz has a clear-eyed report for Der Spiegel:

Since Donald Trump entered the White House, the Democrats have had an identity crisis. In Ossoff, the party sees the first opportunity for revenge against Trump – although the candidate is only competing in a district election in the state of Georgia.
Ossoff is trying to win a congressional district in the north of Atlanta, which has been won by Republicans for almost 40 years, for the Democrats. His chances are not bad.

Outside Georgia, Ossoff has supporters all across the party, but on the ground it is almost exclusively women who are active for him. One of the largest on-site groups, Pave it Blue, has more than a thousand members and comes from a Facebook group for mothers from the neighborhood.

“Up until recently I had nothing to do with politics, I sat on the couch and screamed at the TV,” says supporter Sheila Leby. Now she knocks on doors, starts telephone chains, distributes stickers in shopping centers and pubs.

Elsewhere in the US the protest against Trump is also driven by women, as the movement around the Women’s March showed. Nevertheless, one ought not to conclude too much from Ossoff’s home district on the mobilization potential of an entire nation. Many women who live here can afford to wave posters on a weekday morning. The area – white, prosperous, high SUV density – hardly represents the average.

Should Ossoff finally turn the district from red to blue, this may be due to a desire for feel-good politics. Ossoff, who wants to make Atlanta the “Silicon Valley of the South” and wants to defend “democratic values”, has a polite and smart effect on people. He wears a suit, is well-groomed, and grips the hands of his visitors often a second longer than necessary.

Moving quickly on again, Davin O’Dwyer has some views about Jared Kushner’s new role.

Trump isn’t the first leader to add the word innovation to the name of a government department, of course – Canada, Australia and, yes, Ireland also have departments nominally dedicated to innovation. Indeed, we currently have two Ministers with innovation in their job titles – Mary Mitchell O’Connor and John Halligan are tasked with keeping Ireland at the cutting edge.

However, in these cases, innovation is being tacked on to add a veneer of modernity to the same government apparatus that has always overseen industrial policy. The rebranding is a swift, cheap way of giving the impression that the old departments of industry are all over the burgeoning technology sector.

In the case of the Kushner Office for American Innovation, however, the goal is far more pernicious. Discussing the new department, President Donald Trump told the Post: “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

Here we have the purest distillation of that persistent canard – that government must be run more like business. It is the logical conclusion of a sort of radical free-market ideology that sees a “business” approach as the only solution to whatever problem faces society. It is certainly not a new idea, with versions of it gaining popularity at various stages over the past few centuries, but its most ardent devotees seem resistant to all contrary evidence.

That’s not to say that government can’t learn anything from the world of business, but rather that the lessons are not universally transferable.

Sascha Lobo has some thoughts about the world of business occasioned by Dr Dao being dragged off United’s plane:

The unbelievable handling of the passenger by United Airlines and its vicarious agents is a direct result of the lack of choice of the customers, which can also be seen in the fact that in a crowded aircraft not a single passenger was willing to leave for 800 dollars. The ugly face of a monopoly is the fact that you can treat your customers like crap. They have no immediate alternative.

This is where social media and their power comes into play, which is amplified by billions of electronic eyes and ears on smartphones. Digital social networking can have a regulating effect – for fear. Because every single customer could theoretically put precisely the video, exactly the photo, exactly the posting into the world which will damage a company as much as the United video.

Social media can drive the price of bad customer care to astronomical heights. Economically, one could say that lack of consumer protection or lack of competition is a counter-force: a regulation gap is filled with the foaming indignation of the public….

The bloody doctor has become a symbol of the miserable treatment of customers by corporations. And together with the tangle of rage in social media, it also symbolizes the fact that customers will not be able to afford everything, even if they do not have a real market choice due to a lack of competition.

Unfortunately, the emphasis here is on “symbol”, because social media are too discontinuous, too fast and too volatile to be able to counteract a market that is dysfunctional by monopolies or oligopolies in the long term.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it’s the Spanish media which is keeping the closest eye on El Muro. Here’s a piece from ABC:

Trump is behind the times: the famous wall already exists. And in some parts there is even a double barrier. When a passenger leaves the terminal of the Tijuana airport, the first thing he sees on the other side of the road is the approximately six meters of fence that divides both countries. And immediately afterwards there is a second wall to reinforce the entrance to the United States. But not all the border is walled. They are more than 3,000 kilometers of dividing line and about 1,000 kilometers have already been entrenched with barbed wire, steel rods and cement. However, illegal immigration has continued to flow into the world’s first economy .

“Right now it takes migrants 20 seconds to jump the current wall. With Trump’s it will be 40 seconds, it will not stop them “, says Enrique Morones, founder of the NGO Ángeles de la Frontera, dedicated to the support of undocumented immigrants in the United States. The current barrier – which was begun in 1994 – was created to curb drug trafficking and Latin American immigrants to the United States. But both have kept coming.

“The only thing that this wall has done is to cause the death of 11,000 people,” a figure they calculate in Angeles de la Frontera, but it is difficult to know because there are no data for many of the dead in the desert. They are three days walking, carrying very limited reserves of water in an area where it is very hot by the day and very cold at night. Many die from hypothermia and dehydration to achieve their dream of treading on American soil.

President Trump now seeks funds to surround the 2,000 kilometers that are missing from the border (almost from Madrid to Berlin by road), a project estimated by Congress to cost around $ 21.6 billion (the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail link cost approximately 9,000 million). Enrique touches a rudimentary forged iron staircase in his office. “I found it near the wall. You know what’s going to happen if Trump builds a 13-meter wall? There will be stairs of 13 meters, “he said.

I present this next piece with some trepidation, because I know a number of people are already sick to death of NYT pieces explaining how Trump voters are the salt of the earth who need particular attention (not to mention various supposedly liberal politicians touting a similar line), but this article by Franziska Bulban is a thoughtful attempt to make Trump supporters comprehensible to bemused Europeans:

Anyone who wants to know what the main table thinks must get up early in Yadkin County. Between six and eight o’clock, while the sun is shining over the hilly foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the family restaurant “Mount Olympus” is a lively place to visit. 25 to 30 farmers are sitting around a long table, ordering Hashbrowns and Bacon, drinking iced tea and coffee, talking about the surprising cold weather in March, about new tobacco regulations, cars, family and politics. Almost eighty percent of voters in Yadkin County – roughly two hours in a car from North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh – voted for Donald Trump in November, one of his strongest constituencies in the competitive “swing state”.

Many Europeans may be inclined to ask what Trump could do for a conservative Baptist like Chief Parks to consider it inappropriate. However, on the journey through Yadkin County conversations reveal: people do not even believe that Trump can implement all his plans. As soon as one moves away from the election campaign, some sentences that come up can also be said by Democrats. In the end almost everyone wants the same: an affordable health system. To feel safe. Economic success

….Lee Zachary – 70 years old, Republican, Representative for Yadkin County in the House of North Carolina – looks thoughtfully through his rimless glasses. “I have a friend, he’s from an old Democratic family, and perhaps, if we take away the political labels, we would be amazingly similar.”

Zachary is a lawyer in Yadkinville, but when the House is in session, he is at least three days a week in the capital, Raleigh. Here in the House of the Legislature he has an unadorned office with gray painted masonry stones and a desk that is overflowing with requests. Zachary has long been involved in local politics in order to “swing the pendulum in both directions,” as he puts it. Trump has not been in office long enough to allow himself a verdict.

That the president had announced, for example, the “draining of the swamp”, but now depends on employees of Wall Street, he does not necessarily find to be a contradiction – on the stock exchange one can find people with the view of the big picture. “You know what many people do not understand: people accept the weaknesses of The Donald as long as he does something about professional politics. And the media, “says Zachary. He was afraid some voters were simply disgusted by compromises. “As a lawyer, I know: If after some negotiations only one is happy, this is a bad result, because the other side will always doubt and challenge. A good result is when both sides are a bit dissatisfied – but can live with it. “It is an interesting comparison that Zachary makes. When looking at elections as a negotiation about the representation of a society, then perhaps one side was too happy under Obama. And maybe now the other side is too happy under Trump. True success would be to celebrate the compromise more than the victory of one’s own side.

Could there be something the President could do wrong for Yadkin County? “Hardly,” says Zachary. “He could drive us into a war or a depression, but not much else. If Trump manages to bring back a few jobs – great. If not, we have lost nothing. “

Now, that wasn’t so painful, was it? Some of what some Trump supporters say is reminiscent of Patrick Cockburn’s evident frustration with an establishment which is entirely comfortable with the conventional wisdom, whether or not the conventional wisdom makes sense or gets us anywhere.

I don’t think there is much bad in the idea that the conventional wisdom needs to be challenged. It’s honestly appalling that it takes someone as bonkers as Trump to do it: it’s what sensible people ought to be doing a lot more of. The conventional wisdom may well be right in a lot of cases, but even that needs to be checked every so often to see whether it’s still right.

Which is a way of segueing over to the French election. From my admittedly superficial knowledge of Emmanuel Macron’s program, there are some bits I like and some I dislike, but he is a centrist with imagination who doesn’t believe in the conventional wisdom or the traditional totems of left or right. Being a centrist doesn’t necessarily mean that you want more of the same or that you’re comfortable with where things are — it just means that you’re not on one extreme or another.

Predictably, the ideological left are going around saying that Macron isn’t progressive enough to deserve their vote assuming he gets to the run-off. In this piece,  Jérôme Perrier replies to such a case being made by the political scientist Thomas Guénolé and offers this progressive argument for a Macron run-off vote:

Thomas Guénolé continues his pretended demonstration by explaining why Emmanuel Macron can not be considered a left-wing man when he defends, he says, the uberization of the economy, intends to “suppress the allowances of a Unemployed person who would refuse two offers paid 25% less than his previous job “, while proposing to ” lower the taxes of the shareholders “ and increase the CSG.

Clearly, the spirit of our political scientist has never been touched by the hypothesis that a man of the left, while remaining true to his values, may want to reform the labor market by putting an end to a certain number of rigidities, As the Social Democrat Schröder did in Germany some fifteen years ago; With the aim of finally putting an end to this insidious and catastrophic French preference for the unemployment which has plagued our society for some forty years (and that the “social treatment” engaged by all governments, right and left, Has never managed to defeat). After all, taking a model on our neighbor across the Rhine, where the unemployment rate has fallen to around 5%, is perhaps a way of defending labor value that is otherwise more relevant than the universal income of Benoît Hamon Or the 32 hours advocated by a left ensconced in the fallacious ideology of the end of work.

A Cold War Manicheism

On the other hand, in the matter of taxation, rather than opposing the rich and the poor in a cold-war manicheism, it must be possible for a left-leaning man with a minimum of common sense to admit that when one beats At the same time, all the records of taxation and public deficits, there is something rotten in the kingdom of France, and that it is not by eternally repeating the old antiphon of the “let’s pay the rich” Will lead to a solution that benefits everyone. Finally, even if Thomas Guénolé does not mention it, it can be argued that being a leftist is to defend Europe against the populists of all kinds, as – alone and courageously – Emmanuel Macron, rather than Seeking his models in the ruinous Bolivarianism of Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela or in Putin’s authoritarianism that seduces Jean-Luc Mélenchon – for whom the only devil that is worth is in Washington.

Regardless of Thomas Guénolé, one can indeed be liberal, European, Atlanticist, progressive and leftist.

I make no apology for supporting Macron: we saw last November what preciousness about one’s progressive principles can lead to.

Those who know of Les Événements of May 1968 may remember Danny the Red, who now prefers to be called Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He too has weighed in:

How do you judge the tone of this campaign?

I think a lot of people are derailed. I do not understand the options some want to take. Take for example Thomas Piketty, a great world-renowned economist who advises Benoît Hamon but says today that in the second round he will vote Mélenchon and not Macron. This amounts to saying that the useful vote on the left is Mélenchon. Even Hamon said the same thing. It is a desertion in open country, a suicide in full flight. For there will never be a run-off between Mélenchon and Macron!

To find you with Bayrou, Villepin or Perben, it does not make you feel weird?

But stop. If I were with the PS or Mélenchon, I would also find myself with strange people. I am simply saying that today the coalition to repel Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon is there. Let us not forget that the ultrathatcherian right, reactionary and catholic, is still standing. She’s prepared to fuck businessmen as much as the far right supports Le Pen. Today, the candidate to get out of this slump is rather Emmanuel Macron. But I frankly admit, to decide for him is to take a risk.

Which ?

The risk is that Emmanuel Macron has a liberal-social or social-liberal program with an ecological platform that defends itself, even if Hamon goes further. I am a demanding supporter, not a blessed-yes-yes. Is he in favor of reducing the share of nuclear power to 50% in electricity in 2030? That means you have to close more than a nuclear power plant. Not just Fessenheim. When he says he is going to hand over an ecological taxation to relieve that of labor, it will have to be done. I will be demanding.

Will he not end up with a much more right-wing majority or be condemned to a standstill at the center?

Yes, there is a risk. But again, who will have a majority? None elected on May 7 will have an absolute majority in the legislative elections. There will likely be a strong representation of Launching the Assembly if Macron is elected, but he will not have the majority on his own. His ability to act will thus depend on the political intelligence of the Reformers on the left and on the right to find a compromise to govern. This is interesting and new in the current political period.

Lastly, here’s a piece surveying all the leading candidates by reference to the countries they have been visiting, of which I’m only excerpting a little:

Marine Le Pen, in search of credit and accustomed to misfires

Not obvious, for the president of the FN, as formerly for her father, to be received abroad. On the list of misses, recently: Canada, where the “officials” fled Marine Le Pen and England, where the candidate wanted to be seen hobnobbing with the pro-Brexit camp. The trip was eventually canceled.

In New York , in January, it was not quite that bad. Sold to the press as a private trip and not an official stay, the trip will still have been the occasion to see Marine Le Pen drinking a coffee at the bottom of the Trump Tower while the entourage of the American president hammered that no meeting was planned. But this move had perhaps another objective: money. As Libération had raised , the president of the FN was accompanied by Pierre Ceyrac, a former French representative of the Moon sect, who had organized the handshake between Reagan and [Jean-Marie] Le Pen.

François Fillon, the staging of the warlord

In June, the images were seen on almost all TV channels: François Fillon in Erbil , on the front line, with peshmergas. And beware, Daesh is only “a few kilometers away,” said a Kurdish fighter. A good comms operation, as evidenced by Paris Match , embedded in the suitcases of the candidate : “This passionate racing and mountaineering is never as comfortable as in dangerous situations.” If someone had doubts about Francois Fillon’s ability to wear the costume of a warlord, that is what is settled. And for the most skeptical, there was another trip, in Niger and Mali this time, for a visit to the French soldiers engaged in Operation Barkhane. Note that defense is just one of the only items of expenditure that the candidate wants to increase.

Benoît Hamon, moving as a political marker

For his first visit, Benoît Hamon chose Portugal . Random? Surely not. There, socialists, communists and the radical left have ignored their differences to govern together. A signal sent to the French left when the candidate still hoped for a large gathering, even irritating some socialists, not really delighted at the idea of ​​topping with Mélenchon. He will also meet with the Director of the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction, while the country has decriminalized the use of all drugs. Accident? Always not. The candidate promises to legalize cannabis. In short, through this displacement, it is a “look, it is possible” that launched the candidate.

It’s a good read, although the odd paragraph emerges badly damaged from GoogleTranslate. Next Sunday is polling day.

And this Sunday is Easter Sunday. Whatever that means to you, have a good one.