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grantcart

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Member since: Sat Jan 5, 2008, 07:45 PM
Number of posts: 44,023

Journal Archives

Flake's speech is important

We don't have to like Flake's legislative record to understand, and cheer, his latest speech.

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/17/politics/jeff-flake-speech/index.html

It is important, and beneficial for three reasons:

1) It is obvious that he is putting down a marker for leadership in a post Trump Republican Party and that is also not an inherently bad thing because it is based on the premise that Trump will have to crash and burn before they can rebuild it.

2) Impeachment can be done with a majority of the House but it takes 2/3 for removal. President's aren't removed because they committed a crime, Reagan clearly broke the law with Iran/Contra. Removal of office is a political act and it cannot be done by a single party. It doesn't have to be unanimous but a significant number of the President's party must agree.

Flake makes the strongest case for Republicans to abandon the President because he bases it on a clear attack on First Amendment issues and attacks on basic American values of supporting a free and independent press. We will need more like this but getting the first Republican to stand up and call Trump a neo-Stalinist is a good first step.

3) It puts Republicans in the crucible. He is giving Democrats valuable footage for ads in November that will make the case that opposition to the President is a bipartisan affair and it gives cover for those Republicans who are looking for an excuse to vote for the Democrat.

AZ is clearly one of those places where it will make a difference. Trump didn't even get a majority here. He won with less than 4% of the vote and less than 100,000 votes. His speech was carefully crafted to pull on the heartstrings of Mormons. There are 400,000 Mormons in AZ.

More importantly it will force Republican candidates to answer questions whether or not they agree with Flake's speech. In the Congressional campaign season I expect that you will get some favourable Republican responses. More importantly it will drive many Republican candidates further to the right in the primary and sabotage their GE campaigns chances of winning.

In AZ McSally is the likely Republican Senatorial candidate but she is currently only polling at 31%

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/01/16/poll-shows-mcsally-frontrunner-arizona-senate-race-but-can-she-snag-donald-trumps-endorsemen/1036669001/

In order to win the primary she will have to be anti Flake and pro Trump. That may get her on to the GE ballot but it will likely be the difference in her being able to win in the GE. If she were to run a campaign based on "I am an independent" she might win, she is a good campaigner. Jeff Flake just did everything he could to force her to a pro-Trump position in a way that will undermine her GE chances.

It is possible that his speech will force other Republican primary candidates to have to answer tough questions that will make them more Trump for the primary and less electable in the general. If McSally loses by a small percentage and a Democrat takes his seat then his speech are likely to be the difference.

Why polls underestimate a wave election

One of the regular events that follow a wave election is a review why the polls underestimated just how big a wave it was.

This is an example of one of those reviews after 2014:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/polls-republican_n_6158158.html

Now we have Larry Sabato warning Dems that we shouldn't be "over confident" as posted in highplainsdem thread: https://demu.gr/100210098814

Sabato tries to sound reasonable but I remember when Romney was tanking and almost no donations were coming in Sabato started pimping all of the suspicious polling that showed Romney rebounding, Romney got a rebound in donations and I always suspected Sabato of being compensated for his strong opinions on what was obviously puff polling. His opinions at the time were all wrong.

What Sabato isn't saying is that this next election is "baked" and by that I mean that while, obviously, we shouldn't be over confident there are some key irreversible points in the election cycle that have already passed. The most important of these are incumbents retiring and candidate recruitment.

When you can't find candidates to run in high profile safe Senate seats it is an indicator of a tremendous blast that is coming because there are dozens of good candidates being recruited in Congressional and Gubernatorial and hundreds for down ticket races. That part of the election cycle is almost over and the Republicans are getting skunked. Nine plus months to go and the Republicans can't find a candidate for the Senate seat in North Dakota?



https://www.twincities.com/2018/01/12/republicans-struggle-to-woo-candidates-in-states-where-trump-won/

It’s the latest in a string of complications for Senate Republicans, who are clinging to a paper-thin majority and entering a midterm election year saddled with Trump’s low approval ratings and a history of losses for the party in power.

“The president made a very patriotic case for me to run for the Senate seat, and told me he would be behind me 100 percent and campaign for me and with me,” Cramer said.

His decision came as Republicans in Ohio scrambled to find a replacement on the ballot for Josh Mandel, the favorite in the GOP Senate race who left the race Friday out of concern for his wife’s health. Now the possibility looms of a primary race between four-term Rep. Jim Renacci and investor and author J. D. Vance, a contest that could leave the nominee hobbled.

. . .
“I think everybody’s eyes are wide open about the midterm,” said Josh Holmes, a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It is going to be extremely difficult to hold the House and the Senate, but we are doing everything we possibly can do to that.”Cramer’s decision was the second time in recent weeks when Trump had been rebuffed in trying to woo a candidate to run for Senate.



I recently had an extended trip to Eastern Washington where I grew up and stayed until 21 and I was struck that almost everyone, regardless of political affiliation said,

"I don't want to talk about it".

"I don't want to talk about it but Trump is an idiot" would be a typical Democratic response and "I don't want to talk about it but Trump is nuts" was a typical Republican response. A very close friend that I have had who has voted Republican for decades because of his position on abortion said "I don't want to talk about it but if the Democrats don't win in a landslide then the country is finished.

There are no more undecideds in the country. There are a lot of people who hate Trump including all Democrats, most Independents and many Republicans. There are a small number of Trump supporters but they are keeping their head down. The only unknown is how many Republicans who don't like Trump will simply stay home at the election.

The reason that the polls don't register an even larger number for each Congressional district is that most people are not just "baked" they are "burnt", they already have made up their mind and are trying to avoid any more nauseating news until the election, they don't want to talk to pollsters.

The most astonishing finding from my visit to Spokane, not a single person, Democrat or Republican, had a good thing to say about Morris-Rogers.

Everyone thought that the Democrat candidate Dr. Lisa Brown was going to win and here is what Sabato and the others are missing. Democrats aren't just recruiting candidates they are recruiting super stars to run.

Here is her wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Brown_(Washington_politician)

The most impressive new urban redevelopment in Spokane was the join medical facility that brought a large leading age medical facility under WSU to the city. Dr. Brown was Chancellor of WSU. This is the kind of development that the polls for generic candidates don't register.

We still need to finish the job, and it is going to be rewarding this time but we should also be confident that something very big is going to happen in November.

Adverse Selection and how the Republicans just killed the ACA

The whole idea of insurance is to spread the risk among the largest population. Let's say that we want to help people who get Multiple Sclerosis a terrible condition that attacks people at random. If everyone is covered by MS insurance we can amortize it over 300 million and have a per capita charge of $ 1.00 per person.

If the number of people who buy the insurance is reduced the per capita charge increases.

If we force the insurance company to provide care for all of the MS but don't require a mandate this creates a situation of "ADVERSE SELECTION";



here is how adverse selection is explained with life insurance and smokers/non smokers

The term "adverse selection" was originally used in insurance. It describes a situation where an individual's demand for insurance is positively correlated with the individual's risk of loss.

This can be illustrated by the link between smoking status and mortality. Non-smokers typically live longer than smokers. If a life insurance company does not vary prices according to smoking status, its life insurance will be more valuable for smokers than for non-smokers. Smokers will have greater incentives to buy insurance from that company and will purchase insurance in larger amounts than non-smokers. As smokers are at higher risk of early death due to their smoking status, and more smokers than non smokers will purchase life insurance, the average mortality rate increases. This increase means the insurer will spend more on policy payments, leading to losses.

In response, the company may increase premiums. However, higher prices cause rational non-smoking customers to cancel their insurance. The higher prices combined with their lower risk of mortality make life insurance uneconomic for non-smokers. This can exacerbate the adverse selection problem. As more smokers take out life insurance policies and increase the insurer's mortality rate, its prices will continue to rise, which in turn will mean fewer non-smokers will purchase insurance. Eventually, the higher prices will push out all non-smokers and the insurer will also be unwilling to sell to smokers. No more interactions will take place, and the life insurance market will collapse.



Legislative Adverse Selection occurs when legislation destabilizes the natural selection then it creates a death spiral for the insurance plan. When you mandate that the insurance company must accept everyone regardless of pre existing conditions BUT then takes away the individual mandate they are creating Legislative Adverse Selection.

If we require Health Insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions but don't have an individual mandate we will set up a death spiral for the ACA.



https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/safeguarding-americas-health-system-from-sabotage_us_5a1ecf33e4b0e37da0447b66

Susan Blumenthal, M.D., Contributor

Public Health Editor, The Huffington Post; Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General

Repealing the Individual Mandate would not only create an influx of adverse-selection by depleting the Marketplace of many young and healthy individuals who abandon the Marketplace while seeking “skimpy” insurance plans, but might also result in the Marketplace becoming victim to an exodus of individuals abandoning purchasing health insurance altogether. On November 26, 2017, the CBO reported that repealing the ACA’s Individual Mandate might increase the number of uninsured Americans by 4 million by 2019 and by 13 million by 2027 while reducing the federal budget deficit by less than originally forecast. Sick and older Americans, some of the most vulnerable individuals needing insurance coverage, would likely remain in the Marketplace and be subject to higher premium prices — projected to increase an additional 10 percent over the next decade — resulting from instability caused by adverse-selection.




Unable to kill the ACA by guillotine the Republican Senators killed by slow strangulation.

Senator Collins, Senator Murkowski and all of the others who said that they would protect the ACA and healthcare for the middle class and poor lied.

The ACA is now a dead health plan walking. It will take a couple of years but without the mandate it will be a plan that will end up only with those who have current conditions signing up for it and others opting out as premiums will start to radically increase.

This is the most cynical move possible. Keep the popular requirement mandating insurance companies must take everyone and then take away the individual mandate so that the plan becomes unsustainable.

In Trumpism epistomology was the first casualty, and why there is still hope.

At some time in the 5th century BC Aeschylus enumerated a truth that has been repeatedly confirmed in our lifetime, "In war, truth is the first casualty."

We can now update that with “In neo fascism, epistemology is the first casualty”

Systemic philosophical or theological discussion doesn’t start with what you know but the more important question “how do you know what you think you know”. Up until Copernicus knowledge was thought to be the recitation of the obvious: God made us, we live by simple rules and noting that which can be easily observed.

When Copernicus established that the most obvious known fact, that the Sun “rose in the East and set in the West” was not a fact and that we were instead a sphere rotating through space, human reasoning went through a crises of epistemology. How should we know anything? Are we even human beings or could we be (in the absurd) a butterfly dreaming that we are humans. Descartes established a new foundation with “I think therefore I am”, that knowledge can be certain on the basis of rational discourse and the use of the scientific method.

In 1970 Alvin Toffler observed in “Future Shock” that technological change would continue to speed up until it would happen at a rate that was faster than the psychological ability of society to absorb it. It would create pockets of fear. That is exactly what we are witnessing.

Please take a minute and read this disturbing article by The Guardian. It documents that farmers in the US are committing suicide at a rate much higher than not just the population but higher than other high risk groups, like veterans.



WHY ARE AMERICAS FARMERS KILLING THEMSELVE IN RECORD NUMBERS

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/06/why-are-americas-farmers-killing-themselves-in-record-numbers


Last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation. The data suggested that the suicide rate for agricultural workers in 17 states was nearly five times higher compared with that in the general population.

After the study was released, Newsweek reported that the suicide death rate for farmers was more than double that of military veterans. This, however, could be an underestimate, as the data collected skipped several major agricultural states, including Iowa. Rosmann and other experts add that the farmer suicide rate might be higher, because an unknown number of farmers disguise their suicides as farm accidents.

The US farmer suicide crisis echoes a much larger farmer suicide crisis happening globally: an Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days; in the UK, one farmer a week takes his or her own life; in France, one farmer dies by suicide every two days; in India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995.


When we look at the irrational embrace of neo fascism in Trump and scratch our heads why rural parts of the country (and other countries), even those that are located close to normal urban and progressive communities, embrace policies of tribalism, we can see the reason, they are filled with fear. Fear is the fuel that has empowered fascism for a hundred years. In their fear they cling to their guns, their bibles and the false memory of a simpler time when society could be ordered by the simple observation in known truths; The sun rises and sets and human society was based on families that had a simple formula – a man, a women and children, that all you needed to succeed in the work place was to show up and work hard.

We need to face that what we are seeing is in fact a new branch of fascism. It is a world view that is not based on reason or fact but the Nietzsche like birth of the “strong man” who intends to reorder society not by reason but as an extension of their personality camouflaged democratic institutions. In this way Trump is like other “strong men” of fascism like Mussolini.

Truth, for people like Trump, is simple; it is not in a fact but in bellicose repetition of a lie where the truth of a thing is established not by reason but by the forceful assertion of a phrase. In the New York media and property world Trump was able to establish a win by simply wearing down critics by an obstinate repetition of a lie and that is the game that he is playing now.

Where the News Media went wrong with Trump is when they allowed him to state a known lie and after a few attempts at questioning “went on” to the next object. When Trump entered the absurd world of “birtherism” the news media should have never asked him another question, never moved on. They should have repeatedly asked him to explain how he arrived at that lie. Until he conceded that lie then they should have not let him make any other point. He won by his persistence.

We must now re-establish reason as the currency of public conversation. We should never again let one of our courageous leaders be targeted by absurd allegations that parallel Trump’s tactics of bellicosity and repetition as a substitute for fact and reason.

We should also understand that for many in the rural areas of our country the embracement of Trump is a cry for help. The are afraid of the future that takes their children to live in urban areas far away and eliminates jobs that have provided stability for families for generations.

How can we take the higher road, understand the pain that has mobilized our political enemies into an eruption of fascist irrationality and find a path forward that unites our common interest based on shared values? I would suggest we could accomplish this by simply recalling the wise leadership of the man who spent 8 years doing it day in and day out. The strange reality we live in is the country that has tens of millions that support Trump is the same country that elected and re-elected President Obama.

We must insist on a return to compassion and reason. Exhaustion, lassitude and defeat are not options.

Russian Roulette Republicans

It is entirely possible that all 51 Republican Senators want to pass a terrible tax bill.

However there is, I believe, a much simpler explanation for the Senate vote.

They passed a terrible bill that will not get past the debt hawks in the House and the House Republicans will make substantial changes and return it to the Senate where it will lose at least two more Senators and fail.

Why would the Republican Senators who are seriously against this legislation (and there may be more than those that telegraphed a problem with it) vote for it?

They are tired of being blamed by the radicals in the Republican House and getting challenged in primaries by Tea Party. The House can pass the Senate bill without any changes and send it to the President. If they make any changes the Senate Republicans can say "we did what we had to do but it is the purists in the House that sabotaged it".

Of course if the House Republicans pass the Senate bill then it will hurt the Republican Senators in the General Election but not in the primaries and that is their greatest concern. Senator Lugar, Bennet and Murkowski all lost in the primary and would have easily won in the GE. Murkowski won on an independent ticket.

The Senate Republicans have put a bullet in the chamber and dared the House to pass it knowing that if it goes back to the Senate it will not pass, especially if they lose on Tuesday and the responsibility will be 100% on the House Republicans.

Stupid on stupid: "The lawyer ate my tweet homework"

Woke up to this



John Dowd, President Trump's personal lawyer, tells me that a Trump tweet that caused an eruption yesterday was "my mistake," made in a tweet he had drafted and passed to White House social media director Dan Scavino.



It is a stupid excuse of course but the question who drafted it is of no consequence. The point is that Trump tweeted it out and found nothing untruthful with it.

However this is just more lies on other lies. No attorney is drafting tweets for Trump to send out. All attorneys are telling Trump to stop talking about the case, stop tweeting about the case and refer all questions to a single attorney that represents the entire defense team. If that attorney says anything more than "We have no comment" he will be sacked.

Have Dowd and Savino explain minute by minute before FBI agents what happened and maybe we can get these asses understand that they have to stop lying but more likely we are going to get more guilty verdicts.

Evidence of a cover up (lawyer ate the tweet) about a cover up (the actual tweet) of a felony obstruction claim(Flynn lying to the FBI) about the conspiracy (conspiring with the Russians to modify the sanctions) of sedition (not treason).


Sedition:

Congress has passed laws creating related offenses that punish conduct that undermines the government or the national security, such as sedition in the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, or espionage and sedition in the Espionage Act of 1917, which do not require the testimony of two witnesses and have a much broader definition than Article Three treason. Some of these laws are still in effect. Some well-known spies have been convicted of espionage rather than treason.



We are literally watching people commit felonies before our eyes in slow motion. If the lawyer states before FBI agents that he drafted the tweet and did not, its another level of obstruction. Whether he drafted it or not it has been tweeted out and Trump hasn't disowned it. Who "drafted" the tweet is of zero relevance.

The Paradise Tsunami: 13.4 million pages 1.4 Terabytes 100 media outlets

We are all about to become experts in the Paradise Papers, a follow up on the Panama Papers.

It consists of 13.4 million pages, 1.4 Terabytes of Data all of which has been sent to 100 media outlets.

It has already showed that Ross and Kushner have DIRECT ties to Russian government entities. It includes offshore transactions for Tillerson, Mnuchin, Huntsman, as well as the Queen of England and Prime Minister Trudeau. We are going to see a nightly revelation as all of the media outlets start wading through 13 million pages of transactions.

Here is a good summary of what we know as of today:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Papers




https://www.buzzfeed.com/talalansari/massive-document-leak-reveals-use-of-tax-havens-by-trumps?utm_term=.vgDWR6qLk#.taeA3GnXV


A massive leak of financial documents appears to reveal that many of US President Donald Trump's advisors, members of his cabinet, and donors hold accounts in offshore tax havens. Those individuals include US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trump's ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, among others, according to reports.

The leaked documents also show that Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, retained business investments with a Russian shipping company with ties to a Russian oligarch subject to US sanctions, and Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, according to the New York Times.

The massive leak of 13.4 million financial documents also paints of a picture of how the world's most powerful individuals and companies — from the Queen of England to Apple — use and benefit from offshore tax havens.

The documents, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, come a year after the Panama Papers similarly revealed the inner workings of offshore tax havens. As with the Panama Papers, Süddeutsche Zeitung handed over the 1.4 terabytes of data to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which then distributed the documents to around 100 media outlets around the world.

"Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy," wrote the BBC, one of the media outlets that received documents from the ICIJ.



The BBC, The Guardian, The NYT and 97 other media outlets competing for the Pulitzer Prize. We are going to need bigger federal prisons.

Senator Corker is a rare Republican. On 3 big issues he has put country above party.

Senator Corker has put country before party and before ambition three times this year.

1) After working with President Obama to get the deal passed he affirmed this year that the Iranians are in compliance with a good agreement.



https://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/iran-nuclear-agreement-review-act

“After more than a year of bipartisan work and a veto threat from the White House, I am pleased to see this bill become law so that any final nuclear agreement with Iran will have to go through Congress where the American people will have a say and lawmakers will have a vote,” said Corker. “I appreciate the strong bipartisan support for this effort that demonstrates Congress’s determination to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. With the role of Congress now guaranteed, the administration must address the many significant concerns raised by Congress, and our negotiators should take advantage of the added leverage to force further concessions from the Iranians so that any agreement reached is verifiable, enforceable and can assure the American people Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon.”





https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-live/wp/2017/07/26/transcript-securing-tomorrow-with-david-ignatius-and-sen-bob-corker/?utm_term=.eadf721b89b7

The Iranian agreement requires that the President certifies their compliance every 120 days. The ONLY reason that Trump hasn't decertified is because that Corker keeps saying "they are in compliance:

So you look at where we are, there’s some nuance to this certification. What it actually says is that they are implementing the deal. Iran is implementing the deal. They do have technical violations that take place. Most of them have not been what I would—it’s like a loan covenant. This is the way I’ve talked to the president, “Mr. President, we’re in loan covenant.” There’s a technical issue and then there are material breaches that matter, right? Well, right now, they’ve had some technical non-compliance but they get back into compliance from time-to-time.



Senator Corker, more than any other single person, is the obstacle keeping Trump from ripping up the Iranian Nuclear Agreement.


2) Senator Corker has openly question Trump's competence. The removal of a President cannot be done with a partisan brush. There must be independents and Republicans who agree to the basic premise of competence and that Trump is a danger. Corker took the first shot.



http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/17/politics/bob-corker-criticizes-trump-charlottesville/index.html

"The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful," Corker said, according to a video posted by local news website Nooga.com.
"He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he's got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that," Corker added.




3) Today Corker killed the Tax Cut Bill



https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/full-corker-won-t-support-gop-tax-plan-if-it-adds-to-deficit-1059037763567


In an exclusive interview on Meet the Press, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tells Chuck Todd that if the GOP’s new tax reform plan adds a penny to the deficit he won’t support it.



This will give the Republican debt hawks enough of a spine stiffening that it will kill the Tax cut insanity of the Goldman Sachs clique. It will doom their "Tax Reform" con.

The reason that I am a debt hawk (besides stimulus and other similar legislation) is that Republicans use debt to give away big ticket items to the business establishment and leaves the budget strangling to find money for the poor and middle class. If we didn't have to pay interest on the current debt we would have sufficient revenues to fund most of a single payer health care system.

While we don't agree with Corker on many issues I think we should respect Corker for putting the country above the party on Iran, Trump's competence and the Tax cut for the rich.

When they come to rebuild the Republican Party they will need people like Corker to return it to sanity.

It, almost certainly, is about to get worse.

A week ago I had a business meeting and the fellow started with something that was obviously on his mind, "I don't want to get into a partisan thing, and I don't agree with everything that Trump says BUT I do agree with him about athletes standing for the national anthem and not disrespecting the flag".

We talked for a bit and I gave him an alternative way of looking at it but then remarked, "its about to get much worse, much worse." He was curious and I explained that we weren't getting news from PR but when we did the news was going to be much worse than people thought. I explained that in modern society when you wipe out the electrical grid you have wiped out the foundation of society. Not only refrigerated food and drugs but also fresh drinking water, and much worse, sewage. When I told him that we were facing a real cholera epidemic that could effect tens of thousands, very quickly, I couldn't really follow the football drama or the stupid tweets. Cholera in the US affecting thousands should be everyone's first concern.

As the situation in PR allows for more interaction we will start getting the details and the pictures. When the basics have been established then there will be a house by house search for victims and it will take weeks to find all those that didn't survive the hurricane.

It will be a relentless day by day record of pain and suffering, some of which is not the fault of anybody and a lot of how Trump's cluelessness caused unnecessary death, suffering and loss.

At that point it will, almost certainly, get worse, much worse.

Trump has only one out. Trump isn't just a vacuous narcissistic semi-literate superficial performer, he is a vacuous narcissistic semi-literate superficial ONE TRICK performer. He has only one out - escalate the buffoonery to a new and higher level of confrontation, reframing, alarmist, scape goading.

The only way that he will get to out flank the pincer movement of bad Puerto Rico stories, general mismanagement stories, Bannon taking over the Republican Party stories, and the drip drip drip leaks from the Mueller investigation is to engage in a military confrontation.

China's closing of most of North Korean expat businesses has put China in the driver's seat in dealing with the North Koreans, along with almost everyone, including Russian revulsion at Trumps wild gestures.

That leaves Iran. At a time when Iran has swerved to its most rational course and made every effort to respond positively to the international agreement including large purchases of Boeing civilian aircraft Trump will be able to stir anti Iranian hysteria that too many including Senator Schumer have used for cheap and dishonest appeals to their bases.

A simple confrontation that triggers brief firing confrontations that doesn't lead to an actual open ended conflict (that would disrupt too much of Trump's golf and social schedule) could bring him weeks of headlines, threats, bombastic tweets and vitriolic nonsense wiping all of the other news of the front page.

It would also bring other benefits for Trump. Any military activity in the Straits of Hormuz will invalidate the underwriting of insurance for the shippers and disrupt 40% of the worlds freely traded oil. Oil prices would go up and bring immediate relief to Russia, OPEC (especially Saudi Arabia who is having an inconvenient debt crises) and the petroleum base of the Republican Party.

It is bad now but we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that it is about to get much worse.

Heartbreak at the UN

For those of us who have had the privilege to work as international civil servants in the UN/Intergovernmental Committee institutions (most UN work is done by stand alone intergovernmental committees, like UNHCR, UNICEF and so on and don't report to either the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council) watching the buffoonery by Trump at the UN was an additional heartbreak to what we all have had to bear these last 8 months.

There are many countries that make generous contributions to the UN from Denmark, Norway to Australia, and so on. The US however has been the anchor, its membership on the governing committees is the only one that has the 'heft' to keep these agencies pointed at long term humanitarian goals.

Today we saw the US become untethered from its role as sextant to help a complicated world work together to plan a common objective. With the similarly banal abandonment of the voluntary Paris Accords the US has established a new drum beat that will appeal to the darkest natures of the craven and ambitious in every country: Everyone for themselves.

The churlish and juvenile threat to "wipe North Korea off the map" reveals a casual indifference to the loss of tens of millions of lives, not just in North Korea but also South Korea. It will not be long before not only our traditional allies abandon our common cause but we are met with unified opposition by Russia, China and all nations who see the casual tossing of nuclear weapons to be a precedent in no one's interest.

We need to establish a line, not between the factions of the Democratic Party but between Trump and all rational people, a national coalition of all people who oppose his madness, nothing else is of consequence.

The best case scenario is now a bar so low as to be incomprehensible: The best outcome is that the rest of the world responds in disgust at what is promoting. The worst case scenario is an apocalyptic horror initiated by the richest country in the world with a chip on its shoulder.

Trump's message is "The people that support the higher morality of international cooperation, understanding and mutual development are CHUMPS. It is everyone for the themselves between countries and within countries". There are deplorables in every country who will hear this clarion call for tribalism and rip their countries apart trying to advance their personal fortunes and power.

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