Reprinted with permission from The Chief. The draft of President Trump’s first Executive Budget indicates he will make double-digit funding cuts to dozens of non-military agencies as diverse as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. State Department. If his budget gets Congressional approval,… Continue Reading →
Not-my-president-elect Donald Trump cannot handle criticism of any kind so he lashes out on Twitter where he has over 7.3 million followers. He’s just not the sort of guy you want having the nuclear codes. Vanity Fair is Trump’s newest target after a scathing review was published about Trump Grill. “Has anyone looked at the really… Continue Reading →
Many American administrations have featured acts of venal corruption, and Trump’s will likely feature more than most. The larger risk, however, is that Trump’s lack of grounding in ideological principles or party networks will create a systemically corrupt government. Such governments, Wallis writes, “are rent creating, not rent seeking, governments” that operate by “limiting access to markets and resources in order to create rents that bind the interests of the ruling coalition together.”
This is how Vladimir Putin governs Russia, and how the Mubarak/Sisi regime rules Egypt. To be a successful businessman in a systemically corrupt regime and to be a close supporter of the regime are one and the same thing.
Those who support the regime will receive favorable treatment from regulators, and those who oppose it will not. Because businesses do business with each other, the network becomes self-reinforcing. Regime-friendly banks receive a light regulatory touch while their rivals are crushed. In exchange, they offer friendly lending terms to regime-friendly businesses while choking capital to rivals. Such a system, once in place, is extremely difficult to dislodge precisely because, unlike a fascist or communist regime, it is glued together by no ideology beyond basic human greed, insecurity, and love of family.
All is not lost, but the situation is genuinely quite grave. As attention focuses on transition gossip and congressional machinations, it’s important not to let our eyes off the ball. It is entirely possible that eight years from now we’ll be looking at an entrenched kleptocracy preparing to install a chosen successor whose only real mission is to preserve the web of parasitical oligarchy that has replaced the federal government as we know it. One can, of course, always hope that the worst does not come to pass. But hope is not a plan. And while the impulse to “wait and see” what really happens is understandable, the cold, hard reality is that the most crucial decisions will be the early ones.
Trump’s first 100 days could also be the last 100 days in which America’s system of republican government can be saved.
Now, this is probably an oppo dump. (Remember, Michael Isikoff was the conduit for many Clinton stories that were later debunked.) But I’m not surprised that Donald Trump would be associated with mob types:
In a bombshell new report, Yahoo reporter Michael Isikoff, who was a key figure in exposing the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton scandal, writes that the daughter of a reputed New Jersey mobster says her dad had a long, cozy relationship with Trump. She told Isikoff her father, Robert LiButti, gambled heavily in Trump’s casino, rode on his helicopter and hung out on his yacht.
Trump has denied in the past and now again that he had any personal relationship, or even recognized the name, with LiButti, who was banned from Atlantic City casinos over his ties to New York mob boss John Gotti.
But LiButti was a well known figure to gaming investigators, who in 1991 investigated and then fined Trump Plaza $200,000 for accommodating LiButti’s desire not to have African Americans or women at his gambling tables.
Nine employees alleged that the casino “repeatedly removed African-Americans and women from craps tables after LiButti, one of the highest-rolling gamblers in the city’s history, loudly complained about their presence when he was playing,” Isikoff wrote in the report.
LiButti was found to have used racist and vulgar language at the craps table, and investigators concluded that Trump Plaza accommodated the high roller by removing blacks and women from his tables.
Treudeau wins, Harper to resign….
Liberals won big Monday, lifting the son of a former prime minister to lead Canada in the most costly election in the nation’s history.
Justin Trudeau, 43, is Canada’s prime minister-elect after his Liberal Party won 184 seats in the nation’s parliament. The sweeping victory was by a wider margin than predicted and ended the 10-year run of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As of 12:30 p.m. local time behind the Liberal Party’s 184 seats, Conservatives won 102 seats, New Democrats 41, Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party 1 seat.
Liberals promised they would take on short-term budget deficits in order to rebuild public infrastructure. Conservatives promised fiscal responsibility and various tax breaks.
Here’s a quick list of what may occur under the new leadership…
Liberals vow to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria
Trudeau’s party did not support joining the U.S.-led bombing mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But Liberals do believe Canada has a role to play in combating ISIS…
Rather than dropping bombs, the Liberal leader said in his stump speeches, Canada should be helping to train local forces to defeat ISIS on the ground. He has also pledged to increase humanitarian aid.
A more generous approach to refugees
The refugee crisis in Syria — and a Canadian connection to that heartbreaking photo of a little boy’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach — prompted reflection on Canada’s role as a generous global partner.
At a September debate that was supposed to focus on economic matters, Trudeau accused Harper of shirking his responsibilities on refugee resettlement..
Liberals have pledged to immediately accept 25,000 government-sponsored refugees from Syria — a larger commitment than the one made by the more left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) to welcome 10,000 before the end of the year. Liberals say they will spend $100 million this fiscal year to increase refugee settlement in Canada, and another $100 million for United Nations refugee programs.
Yes, Trudeau wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline
In what may come as a surprise to American progressives, Trudeau is doggedly in favour of building a pipeline to carry crude from Alberta oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It’s a position that puts him offside with the likes of Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders…
Support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (most likely)
The massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was reached roughly two weeks before Canadians voted.
Although the deal was lauded by Tories and opposed by the NDP, the Liberals held their cards close to the vest, saying they wanted to see the fine print of the deal before weighing in either way. That marked a shift away from Trudeau’s early and vocal support of the Canada-European Union free trade deal.
But Trudeau often repeated that his party is “resolutely pro-trade” and that he would make the case as prime minister that Canada has resources and goods to share with the world…
Liberals aim to make Canada the latest country to legalize pot
One of the earliest policies associated with Trudeau was his pledge to legalize marijuana so that it can be regulated and taxed. He’s said current laws make it easier for kids to access the drug, enriching only gangs and criminals.
That commitment, made shortly after he became Liberal leader in 2013, sparked near-constant derision from the Tories, who continue to favour prohibition…
A fresh face at the Paris climate conference
Canada’s recent reputation as a climate-change laggard is a sore spot for many who care deeply about the issue. With a global climate conference in Paris approaching in mere weeks, Liberals have committed to putting a price on carbon and ending the practice of setting — and ultimately missing — arbitrary emissions-reductions targets…
Of course, the Liberals’ commitment to resource development conflicts with research suggesting most oilsands crude should remain in the ground to truly combat climate change.
An inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women
The estimated 1,200 cases of missing and slain indigenous women in Canada is this country’s national disgrace, and the international community has taken notice.
For years, Harper’s Tories have rejected demands to hold a national inquiry into the matter. Those calls grew louder in 2013 when a United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples endorsed an inquiry to address what he called a “disturbing phenomenon.”
Canada’s longest campaign season in recent history will conclude Monday night, much to the delight of politics-weary citizens and even wearier political journalists.
“It’s been a long, endless 11 weeks,” said Gloria Galloway, a veteran political reporter for the Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.
Wait, what? Eleven weeks?
“Well, the first week didn’t entirely count because that’s the week in August that people go to their cottages, so it’s safe to say most people weren’t paying attention,” said Chris Hannay, also of the Globe and Mail. “But it was still twice as long as normal, and people felt that.”
To put this in perspective: When the Canadian election season started way back in August, the United States had two presidential candidates named Rick (Santorum and Perry) who had already spent 19 months going to and from Iowa. (One, of course, has since left the race, while the other still has his eyes on the prize that is more than a year away.)….
A longer election cycle doesn’t just give citizens more time to get to know their possible leaders. It also allows for more delicious scandals. To wit: Someone dug up Canadian Broadcasting Corp. video footage of a parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party urinating into someone else’s coffee cup while he was working as a repairman. Another candidate dropped out after videos him mocking people with disabilities surfaced on YouTube….
I wish we, here in the U.S., would have a shorter election season. I already have primary fatigue syndrome, but, I guess that would not sit well for the Election Industrial Complex.
Who does he remind you of? Via Digby:
According to this new YouGov poll, these same patriotic Republicans still love the military passionately but are no longer attached to that moldy old concept of civilian control:
“Republicans (43%) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (20%) to say that they could conceive of a situation in which they would support a military coup in the United States.”
More to the point, only 32 percent of Republicans state unequivocally that they would not conceive of a situation in which they would support a military coup. One would be tempted to think this is simply a matter of partisanship, but there is no evidence that Democrats have ever entertained the notion of a military coup, no matter who was president, even one as widely loathed as George W. Bush. It’s as “un-American” as it gets.For years the right has accused the opposition of being unpatriotic and failing to properly love America. And here they are, endorsing something that’s only seen in Banana Republics and totalitarian police states.
But there is some good news in all this. It’s likely that as soon as they get a president they like, they will once again discover that the Constitution is sacrosanct and the president is worthy once again to be the Commander in Chief. For instance, the latest Washington Post poll shows that they are not so cynical that they cannot imagine anyone having the qualities that are required for such a job:
1) Republicans say by 64-35 that Trump is “qualified to serve as president.”
2) Republicans say by 60-35 that Trump is “honest and trustworthy.”
3) Republicans say by 53-45 that Trump understands the problems of people like them.
4) Republicans say by 54-42 that Trump “has the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president.”
So we can all rest easy. As long as a qualified leader like Donald Trump is in charge they are unlikely to support something as radical as a military coup. But Barack Obama has clearly worn on their last nerve. And you don’t even want to think about what will happen if Hillary Clinton becomes Commander in Chief. One can easily imagine them calling for this coup and telling themselves “it’s the American way.”
For these folks the American way is whatever they want it to be including, apparently, a military dictatorship.
Ah yes, I remember when the Obamabots kept explaining to me how much we needed the constitutional law professor in the White House, so fake wars would never happen again! Funny, how few of them admit they were wrong. Glenn Greenwald:
Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” was to some degree an invention of the American government. NBC’s Engel, the day after he reported on the U.S. government’s claims about the group for Nightly News, seemed to have serious second thoughts about the group’s existence, tweeting:
Indeed, a Nexis search for the group found almost no mentions of its name prior to the September 13 AP article based on anonymous officials. There was one oblique reference to it in a July 31 CNN op-ed by Peter Bergen. The other mention was an article in the LA Times from two weeks earlier about Pakistan which mentioned the group’s name as something quite different than how it’s being used now: as “the intelligence wing of the powerful Pakistani Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.” Tim Shorrock notedthat the name appears in a 2011 hacked Stratfor email published by WikiLeaks, referencing a Dawn article that depicts them as a Pakistan-based group which was fighting against and “expelled by” (not “led by”) Bahadur.
There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from….All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” As The Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan … had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”
What happened here is all-too-familiar. The Obama administration needed propagandistic and legal rationale for bombing yet another predominantly Muslim country. While emotions over the ISIS beheading videos were high, they were not enough to sustain a lengthy new war.
So after spending weeks promoting ISIS as Worse Than Al Qaeda™, they unveiled a new, never-before-heard-of group that was Worse Than ISIS™. Overnight, as the first bombs on Syria fell, the endlessly helpful U.S. media mindlessly circulated the script they were given: this new group was composed of “hardened terrorists,” posed an “imminent” threat to the U.S. homeland, was in the “final stages” of plots to take down U.S. civilian aircraft, and could “launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001.””
As usual, anonymity was granted to U.S. officials to make these claims. As usual, there was almost no evidence for any of this. Nonetheless, American media outlets — eager, as always, to justify American wars — spewed all of this with very little skepticism. Worse, they did it by pretending that the U.S. government was trying not to talk about all of this — too secret! — but they, as intrepid, digging journalists, managed to unearth it from their courageous “sources.” Once the damage was done, the evidence quickly emerged about what a sham this all was. But, as always with these government/media propaganda campaigns, the truth emerges only when it’s impotent.
Boy, NBC really doesn’t have a clue why we hated David Gregory, or they wouldn’t be replacing him with someone so similar:
Chuck Todd, a political obsessive and rabid sports fan, is the likely successor to David Gregory as moderator of “Meet the Press,” with the change expected to be announced in coming weeks, according to top political sources. The move is an effort by NBC News President Deborah Turness to restore passion and insider cred to a network treasure that has been adrift since the death in 2008 of the irreplaceable Tim Russert. Although Todd is not a classic television performer guaranteed to wow focus groups, his NBC bosses have been impressed by his love of the game, which brings with it authenticity, sources, and a loyal following among newsmakers and political junkies.
See? Every five minutes, it changes!