Category Archives: Ethics

Trump alienates everyone but his sycophant base

Donald Trump is quickly being isolated for his comments on race, left only with his sycophant personality cult supporters.  Wednesday was a “critical mass” day for loss of support.

The New York Times reports, Trump Comments on Race Open Breach With C.E.O.s, Military and G.O.P.:

President Trump found himself increasingly isolated in a racial crisis of his own making on Wednesday, abandoned by the nation’s top business executives, contradicted by military leaders and shunned by Republicans outraged by his defense of white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

The breach with the business community was the most striking. Titans of American industry and finance revolted against a man they had seen as one of their own, concluding Wednesday morning they could no longer serve on two of Mr. Trump’s advisory panels.

But before Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest business confidants, could announce a decision to disband Mr. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum — in a prepared statement calling “intolerance, racism and violence” an “affront to core American values” — the president undercut him and did it himself, in a tweet.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Thank you all!”

The condemnation descended on the president a day after he told reporters in a defiant news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan that “alt-left” demonstrators were just as responsible for the violence in Charlottesville last weekend as the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who instigated protests that led to the death of a 32-year-old woman, struck down by a car driven by a right-wing activist.

UPDATE: Lawrence Summers: Trump’s CEOs resigned. His Cabinet should do the same.
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Donald Trump to darken Arizona’s doorway again

Donald Trump is under intense political fire for his defense of Neo-Confederate and Neo-Nazi white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

When in trouble, Trump sets up a campaign rally in a state that he won so he can appear before his cult followers and bask in their unquestioning adulation.

So naturally, Trump is coming to Phoenix where former Governor Jan Brewer defends President Donald Trump’s Charlottesville remarks, and Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature have uniformly voted in favor of Neo-Confederate and “Tenther” legislation for years, as we have documented at this blog. These are his people.

President Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign-style rally in downtown Phoenix next Tuesday, making his first presidential trip to the West as his administration confronts an uproar over his tepid response to a deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Donald Trump makes it official: He’ll hold a downtown Phoenix rally:

Trump will take the stage at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m., according to an announcement Wednesday morning. Attendees must register to obtain tickets.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wrote in a statement Wednesday he was disappointed to learn of Trump’s visit so close to the violent events in Charlottesville. The mayor called on Trump to delay the visit.

“If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation,” the statement said.

Break out those Confederate and Nazi flags! As the “Unite the Right” alt-right protestors in Charlottesville chanted, “Heil Trump!” Show us your true colors. Trump has made it acceptable for you to come out of the shadows and to let your freak flags fly.

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Trump is the ‘vessel’ of a right-wing ‘movement’ using him and the alt-right, but who is the real power behind the throne?

In all the media analysis since last Saturday about President Donald Trump’s defense of and false equivalence between Neo-Confederate and Neo-Nazi white supremacists — a key constituency of Trump supporters — and the counter-protestors who were the victims of their hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia, the focus has been on when GOP politicians will finally disassociate themselves from Trump and disown him as their standard-bearer. It is indefensible for Republicans to stick with Trump.

But what is missing from this analysis is that Trump is a demagogue who hijacked the GOP for his own purposes, and the GOP made a Faustian bargain with the devil believing that they in turn could use him for their own purposes.

Trump’s supporters are a cult of personality who worship at the feet of this dangerous demagogue. Trump was quite literally correct when he said that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” among his supporters. They are unquestioning devoted to him.

The GOP can disown Trump, and Trump in turn will disown the GOP, forming his own Trump-centric political party, and taking his cult followers with him. I fully expect to see this happen before 2020.

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Donald Trump doubles down on ‘both sides to blame,’ energizing the alt-right

As I posted yesterday, the takeaway from Monday’s “press availabilty” is that Trump was forced to make a more forceful condemnation of white supremacist groups because he had to staunch the flood of bad press he has been getting since Saturday. The sincerity of his statement was seriously in doubt.

If you have not seen Tuesday’s press availability, you really must watch a replay. Donald Trump had a total meltdown today, returning to his “blame both sides” position on Saturday, and destroying whatever political cover he gave to Republicans yesterday with the prepared remarks that he had obviously been forced to give. Trump made things worse today.

Watch the entire heated exchange between Trump and reporters over Charlottesville.

This was a big “fuck you!” to his White House staff, to reporters and pundits, and to other critics of his belated and weak response to events in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was Donald Trump unchained and out of control.

It is being reported that Trump was not supposed to take any questions today and went rogue. His staff  is reportedly stunned by what they observed today, as were reporters.

This Washington Post report really does not do this press availability justice. You have to see it to fully appreciate what happened. Trump again blames both sides in Charlottesville, says some counterprotesters were ‘very, very violent’:

President Trump said Tuesday that counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville acted violently and should share the blame for the mayhem that left a woman dead and many injured.

Speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the president called the events of Saturday at the “Unite the Right” rally a “horrible thing to watch,” but he emphasized that both sides acted irresponsibly.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said.  “No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

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CBO: Trump sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ would send premiums and the deficit skyward

The Trump administration is going to have to file a status report in House v. Price regarding its position on the continuation of cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies under “Obamacare.”

On August 1, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion for leave to intervene filed by several state attorneys general and the District of Columbia. As part of that order, the Court ordered “the case shall continue to be held in abeyance. Appellee, appellants, and intervenors are directed to file status reports at 90-day intervals.” A status report was due on or about August 22 after a continuation in May.

[T]his bizarre lawsuit could still blow up the ACA insurance markets:

A pending court case, House v. Price (née House v. Burwell — and so much turns on the name change), has given the administration a bomb it could use to blow up insurance markets across the country. At stake is the legality of the payments the federal government makes to insurance companies to help cover the medical expenses of low-income people.

If Obama’s appeal continues, then the payments continue. But if President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions were to decide not to continue the appeal, that’s a game changer.

By moving to defuse House v. Price, the Trump administration could signal that it means to make the best of Obamacare. At the same time, however, the case may represent the last best chance to rip the statute up from the roots. Skittish insurers are watching closely to see what the administration will do. Time is short: Insurers will have to decide very soon whether they want to participate on Obamacare’s exchanges in 2018.

Without the subsidies, insurance markets could quickly unravel. Even more insurers could withdraw from the public marketplaces where more than 10 million Americans obtained coverage last year.

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Pandora’s Drone

By Michael Bryan

Note: This is a think piece that has been languishing in my drafts for some time. I am publishing now in order to see what, if any, feedback readers may have, not in response to any current events, although it does briefly touch upon the terrorist attack in Charlottesville in my last revision.

In a complete reversal of American norms before 2001, Americans have come to expect that our foreign, sub-state political foes will be dealt with by assassination. That might seem a shocking assertion, but the policy of targeted killings of those identified as enemies of the United States by drone can only be euphemized, not denied. Bush and Obama placed such assassinations at the heart of our military strategy against those groups and individuals seen as a terrorist threat to America, and regardless of who the President might be, that tool will not be disposed of unless its use is wholly rejected by Americans. Given that no great outcry or mass movement has yet denounced the continued use of drone assassination in our foreign policy, it seems very likely to continue. In fact, Donald Trump has re-authorized the CIA to carry out its own drone strikes, lowering accountability and reporting requirements in place under Obama, when only the military was empowered to carry out lethal drone operations.

Our desire for the perception of safety and demand of bold action by our leadership against possible terrorist threats has swamped any scruple we may once have held against merely murdering our geo-strategic enemies. We have always killed in war, but killing specific people, and all persons believed to be members of designated organizations, anywhere they may found, even in countries we are not hostile to, is a new thing entirely. But no modern politician will run the risk of being accused of not having done everything possible when the next mass casualty attack on American soil comes, as it inevitably will, therefore a tactic that began as an expedient use of a new technology in a crisis seems to have become the centerpiece our de facto anti-terrorism strategy.

Americans seem to have decided that extra-judicial state murder, even of some American citizens, is justified in our fight against terrorism. Despite the fig-leaf of “due process” of review within the executive branch that was constructed around the practice by the Obama administration, targeted drone strikes and so-called signature strikes on suspected terrorist activity are extra-judicial executions, pure and simple. We may hide behind the fiction that we are “at war” with some ill-defined terrorist organizations and thus those killed are “enemy combatants,” and any innocents killed as a result are unfortunate “collateral damage”, but this only semantics. Since we are not going invade Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen, or Syria, or (re-re-re-invade?) Iraq, or any of the other failing or weak states where terrorist cells might find sanctuary, in order to end the threat of these sub-state organizations pose to our security, we are going to continue to fight these “wars” with proxies, intelligence assets, and drone strikes. We will continue to make targeted killings, i.e. murder, a key component of our foreign policy.

My point is not to suggest an alternative, or even to suggest that the policy is necessarily wrong or immoral. There may be no more effective, more politically acceptable, or more morally inoffensive alternative. My point is to question what effect this will have on the evolution American political culture, and on the normative behavior of governments visa-vis their own citizens – including our own toward us.

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