Thursday, August 31, 2017

No Orange Crush

Quebec politics have always been mercurial. What has applied for a decade can be reversed in the next decade. And so it is that, in la belle province, the NDP fortress has crumbled. Chantal Hebert writes:

The enthusiasm that attended the 2011 orange wave has given way to widespread voter indifference as well as internal discomfort within the province’s depleted NDP ranks.

None of the four candidates has emerged as a panacea for the party’s post-election blues. Many of the province’s New Democrats see little light at the end of the leadership tunnel.

A Léger Marketing poll published this weekend by Le Devoir, the Gazette and the Globe and Mail found 80 per cent of respondents unable or unwilling to state a preference for any of the contenders for Thomas Mulcair’s job.

At the moment, all indications are that Jagmeet Singh will win the leadership. In Montreal his victory might be cheered. But, in the hinterland, euphoria would probably be hard to find:

It is increasingly common in the dying days of this campaign to hear some Quebec New Democrats warn that under a turban-wearing Sikh leader, the party will hit a wall in the province.

On Sunday in Montreal, Singh asked the audience attending the campaign’s only French-language debate to look beyond his turban and beard. But the fact is, his identity is a major, and in some instances, the main attraction for many of his supporters.

It is not primarily the ideas and the policies he has put forward in this campaign that have some party members dreaming of a big NDP breakthrough in the more multicultural quarters of Canada.

Quebecers are not the only ones who could be repelled by a Singh victory. But, more importantly, he is no native son -- as was the case with Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair. 

Guy Caron can make that claim. However, "of the 124,000 members eligible to vote for the next leader, fewer than 5,000, making up a measly 4 per cent of the total, are from Quebec. When the party selected Mulcair to succeed Jack Layton, it had almost three times as many Quebec members."

What it all means is that, in the next election, there will be no Orange Crush.

Image: Pinterest

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do They Still Exist?

Masha Gessen writes that Vladimir Putin encourages vigilante justice:

Turn on Russian television any day of the week and you are certain to stumble upon a show in which a group of people who appear to be regular citizens (that is, they have no uniforms or government-issued documents) stage a raid of one sort or another. They barge into a store or a restaurant, for example, and demand to see employees’ identity documents, the storage area, or the cooking facilities. Without fail, they find violations of laws or regulations: the staff, natives of Central Asia, don’t have work permits! The store stocks vodka bottles with no alcohol-tax stamps affixed to them! The cook doesn’t cover her hair! At the end of the show, the raiders often pass their tearful, terrified victims to uniformed law enforcement officers, who sometimes appear less than enthusiastic about the task being handed to them.
These raiders have no official titles or legal powers. What directs their actions are the militant rhetoric and the promise of broad impunity that emanate from the Kremlin—and, of course, the glory and recognition of being on television.
Putin did not invent vigilantes, of course: autocrats frequently rely on delegating violence to extralegal actors or, as in the case of Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, on the willingness of law enforcement officers to carry out extralegal violence in exchange for the promise of impunity. Duterte has made this promise explicit; more often, incitement to violence contains a tacit guarantee of protection.

Donald Trump has copied Putin's rough justice:

Over the last two weeks, we have seen Donald Trump send out both kinds of signals to the vigilantes of his own choosing. His refusal to condemn the violent marchers in Charlottesville, in pointed and repeated break with political convention, was rightly interpreted by the white supremacists as a signal of encouragement. And his pardoning of former sheriff Joe Arpaio—before he was even sentenced—protected a law enforcement officer from facing any consequences for a long history of brutal violations of constitutional rights. Trump had encouraged extralegal violence in the past—like when he called on police not to be “too nice” to suspects. But the two weeks bracketed by the violence in Charlottesville and the pardon of Arpaio herald a definite turn away from the institutions of a government he despises.

In Russia, there are no institutions to rein Putin in. In the United States, those institutions used to exist. The question Americans -- and the rest of the world -- faces is: Do those institutions still exist?


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Evil That Men Do

That wind is blowing up from the South. Ontario's elementary teachers want to remove John A. Macdonald's name from public schools in the province. The issue is Macdonald's treatment of native peoples -- more particularly the role he played in setting up the residential school system. Tom Walkom writes that, if Macdonald's name is erased from public institutions, the names of several prime ministers will also have to be expunged:

Wilfrid Laurier, the Liberal prime minister whose government famously urged Eastern European “men in sheepskin coats” to settle the West, was in the broadest sense pro-immigration. But he also did his best to keep the Chinese out of Canada.

William Lyon Mackenzie King, the long-serving prime minister who steered Canada through the Second World War was, in the mid-1930s, a secret fan of Adolph Hitler’s labour relations policies.

Under King, Canada was extremely reluctant to take in Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler.
J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of what is now the New Democratic Party, was a fierce advocate of workers’ rights. But his 1909 book on immigration, Strangers Within our Gates, uses race-based language that would get him expelled from today’s NDP.

Robert Borden is generally regarded as a nation-builder who steered Canada through the First World War and into international prominence. But he can also be seen as a nation-buster, whose decision to introduce conscription fanned animosity between English and French Canada.

Even modern politicians are complicated. Pierre Trudeau was at one level a civil libertarian whose efforts led to Canada’s constitutionally entrenched charter of rights and freedoms.
Yet he was also the man who, during the FLQ crisis of 1970, casually suspended civil rights, a move that led to the arrest without charge of almost 500 innocent people.

The problem is -- and it has always been -- that  public figures are deeply flawed. If we are to remember them, they must be remembered warts and all. Given the standard which is being set here and to the south, very few people would pass muster with succeeding generations. Marc Antony was right: "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

Remembering what we did wrong is no excuse for not recalling what we did right. That rule applies to all of us -- public figures and the least among us.

Image: Pinterest

Monday, August 28, 2017

That Kind Of Contempt Can Get Expensive

Last week, Mike Duffy launched a lawsuit against The Senate and the Attorney General. No one should be surprised. Michael Harris writes:

Who could seriously argue that both the political system and the justice department failed Duffy in spectacular fashion given what came out at his criminal trial? On April 21, 2016, the senator was acquitted on every single one of the 31 criminal charges against him. The judge laid the blame for this whole charade at the door of the Harper PMO, which he concluded was doing damage control for its own purposes. Duffy was the scapegoat, a mere diversionary sideshow.

Judge Charles Vaillancourt asked, “Was Nigel Wright actually ordering senior members of the Senate around as if they were mere pawns on a chess board?” Vaillancourt answered his own question with an emphatic “yes.”

 Given what has happened since the trial, Duffy's suit was inevitable:

After his acquittal, Duffy tried to resolve matters of lost salary and legal fees with the Red Chamber. On December 12, 2016 he wrote to the Senate asking for reimbursement of his salary, living allowances, and pension accruals.

To date, he hasn’t even been given the courtesy of a response.

The Conservatives still control the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (CIBA). Despite being acquitted after a brutal criminal trial, despite a finding that his expenses were permissible under the rules, the Senate is still treating Duffy as if he were guilty. The Conservative brain trust seems to believe it is possible to crucify the same person twice.

I have written several times that the Conservatives have learned nothing from their defeat. It's true that  Duffy is no abandoned child, left to the mercy of a callous society. Nonetheless, Vaillancourt's decision makes it clear that Duffy was wronged.

And Stephen Harper's senators believe -- like their bloated orange cousin to the south -- that they can ignore a judge's order. That kind of contempt can get very expensive.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Boiling Cauldrons of Contradiction

Donald Trump says he pardoned Joe Arpaio because of his long and distinguished government service. But Dara Lind writes that you don't have to dig too deep to find the real reason for the pardon:

Sheriff Arpaio played a key role in validating Donald Trump, whose candidacy was initially seen as a joke, as the champion of hardline immigration policies and the cultural anxieties that came alongside them. Trump’s first truly major campaign rally, in August 2015, was in Phoenix with Arpaio and some of the “Angel Moms” (mothers of people killed by unauthorized immigrants) he would continue to co-opt as a candidate and president. Arpaio formally endorsed Trump in January 2016 — before a single primary vote had been cast. He took a gamble, and he won.

So it makes sense that Trump, who has some apparent loyalty to people who supported him back when he was one of 17 Republican presidential candidates, would think warmly of Arpaio. But the endorsement isn’t really the basis of their simpatico. It’s just an acknowledgment of the political truth that Trump is engaging in exactly the same brand of politics that Arpaio pioneered a decade earlier. As politicians, they used tough-on-crime rhetoric and breaches of “political correctness” to give the impression of sticking up for law and order; as government executives, they exercised their power to the greatest possible extent, without a ton of attention paid to the rule of law.

Like Trump, Arpaio communicated toughness through big, theatrical stunts — raids conducted with armored vehicles, the pink underwear, the tent cities — that often happened to violate the rights of their targets. (The tent cities were ultimately shut down after being cited as violations of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”) His “law and order” policies weren’t successful as anti-crime measures (911 response times went up hugely during the heyday of Arpaio’s sweeps), but succeeded in terms of targeting and victimizing the intended people.  

Both men are oxymoronic soul brothers. They claim to stand for law and order while simultaneously having complete contempt for the law. Both men are boiling cauldrons of contradiction. One can only hope that they fall into their own pots.

Image: Critics At Large

Saturday, August 26, 2017

There's Now Only One Objective

Donald Trump's opponents are outraged -- as they should be. But Trump is the Master of Distraction. One outrage is rapidly followed by another. He constantly shifts the focus of his critics. Jonathan Freedland writes:

If Trump succeeds in moving past Charlottesville, it won’t only be thanks to an unavoidable process of attrition that has worn liberals down. I’m afraid Trump’s opponents made a tactical error. He wanted to change the subject to the question of Confederate statues – and they let him. Days after those violent clashes had seen an antiracist protester murdered, the national conversation centred not on that act of terrorism but on which historical figures should be remembered, and how.

Make no mistake, that’s an important argument. But it is inevitably a nuanced one that, as we have seen in Britain too, divides liberal opinion. Two people, equally fervent in their loathing of racism, might disagree on whether it’s better to remove a monument, or keep it as a reminder of a shaming past. And there will never be an easy consensus on where to draw the line. If owning slaves is the key criterion, should the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson come down too?

Trump’s opponents have spent much of the past two weeks talking about Confederate generals and US history, when they should have maintained a laser focus on the key and shocking point: that an American president spoke with sympathy and admiration for neo-Nazis; that he put these fascists on a moral par with those who oppose them; and that he was more animated in condemning what he called the alt-left than he ever was in lambasting those who parroted the slogans of the KKK, who brandished the symbols of white supremacism and who chanted: “Jews will not replace us.”

I doubt that this is a conscious strategy on Trump's part. His brain is simply too chaotic to arrive at such a strategy on its own. But it's that chaotic brain which has enabled him to survive and to shift responsibility for his actions on to others.

Trump's latest outrage is issuing a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The implications for the rule of law in the United States are ominous.

All of the outrages add up to one indisputable conclusion. Trump has no respect -- for the law, for history, for those he claims to represent. So now it is time to focus on one objective -- removing them from office.

Image: Newsweek

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Call For A Change In Direction

Earlier this week the UN rebuked the United States for recent displays of racism. Nserine Malick writes:

A UN committee charged with tackling racism has issued an “early warning” over conditions in the US and urged the Trump administration to “unequivocally and unconditionally” reject discrimination. The warning specifically refers to events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the civil rights activist Heather Heyer was killed when a car crashed into a group of people protesting against a white nationalist rally. Such statements are usually issued by the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (Cerd) over fears of ethnic or religious conflict. In the past decade, the committee has only issued six warnings. Those admonishments went to Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria.

You may have the impression that the ugliness in Charlottesville is something new. But those familiar with the history of the United States know that what happened in Virginia is as old as the Republic itself. The problem is that economic inequality brings out the worst in people. It rips a country's culture asunder:

Civilisations are undone in many ways, not all of them obvious. We tend to think of decline along military or economic lines but it is actually a nation’s culture, particularly in terms of equality, that determines its civilisational credentials. America’s descent into what looks like a full on race crisis is graphically dragging it down the “development” scale. Reality is closing in on the country’s exceptionalist self-perception.

In difficult times, the rights of minorities always come under attack:

 It is no coincidence that the rights most easily dislodged and taken back – whether it is those of transgender members of the military or Muslim US citizens of certain origins – are those of minorities. Even in the United Kingdom, it is no coincidence that the first jubilant spasm after the Brexit vote was manifested in a rise in hate crime. It is no coincidence that making America great again, or taking back control, inevitably involves wanting to claw back whatever little space was ceded to diversity and equality. This reclamation lies at the very heart of the US and UK’s modern nation-building.

The Trump Administration is following a well trodden path. The UN simply pointed that out -- and called for a change in direction.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Our Summer Of Discontent

We live in a time of multiple crises -- the dangers from climate change, economic inequality and revived racism are real. But E. J. Dionne argues that the most pressing question we face is: "Can liberal democracy survive?"

I’d argue that the challenge to liberal democracy is far and away the most consequential question facing the world. If liberal democracy does not survive and thrive, every other problem we face becomes much more difficult.

Liberal democracy is, in principle, a simple if also profound idea: a belief in governments created through free elections and universal suffrage; an independent judiciary; and guarantees of the freedoms of speech, assembly, religion and press. Some of my more libertarian-leaning friends — and in our shared desire to defend liberal democracy, we are friends — would define it as excluding various forms of regulation and redistribution.

The trend towards libertarianism is partly responsible for the problems we face:

I’d agree with them that the right to private property is a characteristic of liberal societies but insist that there is also an important place for social insurance, government provision of various services (education and health care among them) and rules protecting workers, consumers and the environment. Indeed, the vast inequalities that capitalism can produce when unchecked typically undermine liberal democracy and are doing so now.

And authoritarianism is on the rise:

History is starting to scowl as once-solid democracies (Hungary, Poland and Turkey, along with many outside Europe) move in an autocratic direction. China, meanwhile, offers a path to development and growth that involves neither freedom nor democracy.

Even where liberal democracy has its strongest foundations, authoritarian brands of populism have gained ground by exploiting widespread discontent.

This is, indeed, our summer of discontent. The choices that spring from that discontent will make all the difference.

Image: Daily Mail

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Little Light Of Mine

David Suzuki writes that in dark times -- and these are dark times -- "we must shine brighter:"

Charlottesville was a tipping point, not so much because hatred and ignorance were on full display (that happens all too often), but because so many people stood up and spoke out against it, and against President Donald Trump's bizarre and misguided response.

The effects spilled into Canada, most notably with the implosion of the far-right (and misnamed) media outlet The Rebel. The online platform, born from the ashes of the failed Sun News network, is a good illustration of the intersection between racism, intolerance and anti-environmentalism. Rather than learning from Sun News' failure that racism and extremism are unpopular and anti-Canadian, Rebel founder Ezra Levant ramped up the bigoted and anti-environmental messaging, with commentators ranting against feminists, LGBTQ people, Muslims and Jews (Levant is Jewish), along with rejecting climate science and solutions to environmental problems!

Levant has been spewing his venom for years. But the good news is that -- rather than ignoring him -- people are taking him on in the full light of day:

The Rebel's Faith Goldy was at Charlottesville, sympathetically “reporting” on the band of mostly male white extremists. When a racist drove his car into a crowd of anti-Nazi protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Haley and seriously injuring others, it was too much for some of Levant's long-time supporters.

Rebel staff and commentators -- including a co-founder -- cut their ties. Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled a scheduled Rebel fundraising cruise, hundreds of advertisers pulled out and principled conservatives dissociated themselves. Trying to salvage the site's ragged reputation, Levant fired Goldy.

We are not immune from the same forces that have seized the White House. But we are also not powerless in their presence. There are times when our little lights can accomplish much good.

The National Post

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What Comes Next

There is some disagreement about whether or not Mark Twain actually said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but often it rhymes." Be that as it may, Geoff Smith writes that these days, in the United States, you can hear the rhymes -- with the 1920's:

Americans in the era both celebrated and recoiled from the impact of cosmopolitan urban culture upon long-standing rural values. Nervous citizens also rued the corrosive effect upon tradition of what journalist Walter Lippmann termed the “acids of modernity” — the automobile, radio, “black” music and literature, and, of course, bootleg liquor — upon accepted social mores.

The U.S. certainly helped win the Great War against the Central Powers, but to judge from events in the following decade, the country was as anxious as it was excited about the novel developments. Despite flappers, bootleg gin, colourful gangsters, and a loosening of old rules, one is struck by the American postwar dynamic of “taking back” America from inferior races and minorities.

And, despite the roaring economy, all kinds of nasty things were coming up for air:

In its purging of socialists and other radicals, the Red Scare of 1919-20 sought to revitalize an older, Anglo-Saxon America, as did restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924, which closed the gates to Asians and Southern and Eastern Europeans.

Race riots and a spike in lynchings in the South, meanwhile, warned blacks not to traverse Jim Crow. The Ku Klux Klan assumed national prominence, similarly disposed against anything new or strange. The Klan was a many-splintered thing — anti-Semitic in the Northeast, anti-black in the South, anti-Catholic in the Midwest, and anti-Asian on the West Coast.

Other developments, included the burgeoning of Fundamentalist Christianity and the famed “monkey trial” in Dayton, Tenn., which featured three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan defending the literal truth of Jonah and the Whale, bespoke fiery Fundamentalist defences of Protestant Christianity, the Calvinist faith of the Fathers against all forms of religious liberalism.

In Michigan, automobile mogul Henry Ford railed against “international Jewry,” which, he charged, had taken control of American banking and entertainment circles. Ford’s calumnies against Jews everywhere caught the eye of a hopeful German politician named Adolf Hitler. His subsequent testament of hate, Mein Kampf, lifted passages verbatim from Ford.

It all came crashing down in 1929. One wonders what comes next.

Image: tr20'

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Jury Is Still Out

Today, as the sun is temporarily blotted out over the United States,  Barbara Will wonders if her country is in a permanent state of eclipse:

Pick up any newspaper and the evidence is clear: most Americans feel pessimistic about the nation’s future. Since 2009, polls consistently show that over 70% of Americans worry that the country is on the wrong track. A full 65% believe the country is now “in a state of decline.” More than 40% fear an imminent terrorist attack.

Worries over race relations are at a record high. Bookstore shelves are lined with titles like The Plot to Hack America; White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide and Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium.

The Great Experiment managed to survive the carnage of most of the 20th century:

For a large part of the 20th century, America was on the rise, enjoying a sense of peace and growing prosperity denied the countries who had suffered through World War I and its terrible aftermath, World War II. Yet if empires rise, they also fall, often with what historian Alfred McCoy has referred to as “unholy speed.”  

But the last fifty years have seen remarkable missteps:

It would take our own series of violent misadventures – in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as places like Guantanamo Bay – for a similar post-war dark mood to settle on our side of the Atlantic like a heavy shadow.

Today's solar eclipse is only temporary.  The jury is still out on whether the American eclipse is temporary.

Image: Wikipedia

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Leaving All Of Us In Poverty

In this weekend's Globe and Mail, Amira Elghawaby asks, "Where has all our empathy gone?" That's a question a lot of us are asking after Charlottesville. Here in Canada, Elghawaby writes, we have no reason to look down our noses at out neighbours to the South:

The events in Charlottesville, Va., are only the most recent to explode on our screens – and while this is happening more apparently in the South, many agree that Canadians have nothing to be smug about.

For instance, why is it that until now our federal government has refused to provide adequate support to Indigenous children at the same level as other Canadian children and to cease what the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruled is discriminatory treatment? Why aren't Canadians writing en masse to the federal government, demanding positive action? Is it because many of us cannot imagine what it's like to live on reserves, with poor and inadequate housing and limited access to subpar education?
The tragic case of Soleiman Faqiri of Ontario is another example. Last December, the 30-year-old Canadian Muslim man was being held in solitary confinement at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., waiting for a bed in a mental-health facility. He never made it. A coroner's report released to his family last month did not determine a cause of death, yet provides a horrific snapshot of his final hours: After an initial confrontation, he was beaten by a large number of prison guards, suffering more than 50 injuries – to his forehead, face, torso and limbs, the result of blunt impact trauma. Why is there little public outcry about this case, or others like it? Is it because most Canadians have never experienced what the Faqiri family is now going through, still waiting for accountability, seven months after losing their loved one?

A recent study done at UC Berkeley suggests that being wealthy and well off crowds out empathy:

By measuring how those with more wealth, occupational prestige and education behaved while driving, they were able to conclude that those from more well-off backgrounds showed less empathy than others.

Luxury-car drivers were more likely than others to cut off other motorists, or speed past pedestrians, rather than give them the right of way. The researchers concluded that such attitudes were likely attributable to feelings of freedom and independence that negated the need to rely on others, or care about how others feel.
When governments and political parties are mostly concerned with wooing middle- and upper-class voters, it is small wonder that there is less focus on more niche social-justice issues, and more on issues perceived as directly affecting those broader segments of our society. When governments do buck the trend, segments of these privileged populations will often push back aggressively, attempting to drown out those less equipped to engage.

The search for the goose that laid the golden eggs leaves all of us in poverty.

Image: Mortgage Compliance Magazine

Saturday, August 19, 2017

His Answer

Steve Bannon resigned yesterday. Tony Schwartz believes Donald Trump will resign, too -- perhaps before the end of the year. Frank Bruni believes it doesn't matter. Trump is already gone:

Trump resigned the presidency already — if we regard the job as one of moral stewardship, if we assume that an iota of civic concern must joust with self-regard, if we expect a president’s interest in legislation to rise above vacuous theatrics, if we consider a certain baseline of diplomatic etiquette to be part of the equation.

By those measures, it’s arguable that Trump’s presidency never really began. By those measures, it’s indisputable that his presidency ended in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday afternoon, when he chose — yes, chose — to litigate rather than lead, to attend to his wounded pride instead of his wounded nation and to debate the supposed fine points of white supremacy.

Trump wanted a lot from his campaign. But one thing he didn't want was to be president:

Because of his victories in the Republican primary and then the general election, his campaign was hailed for its tactical genius. But it was driven by, and tailored to, his emotional cravings. All that time on Twitter wasn’t principally about a direct connection to voters. It was a way to stare at an odometer of approval and monitor, in real time, how broadly his sentiments were being liked and shared.

Applause. Greater brand exposure. A new layer of perks atop an existence already lavish with them. Utter saturation of Americans’ consciousness. These were his foremost goals. Governing wasn’t, and that was obvious in his haziness and dishonesty before Election Day and in his laziness and defiance after.

Like Robert Redford's character in The Candidate, to Trump's surprise, he won. And he was faced with the question: "What do we do now? In the last six months, he's given the world his answer.

Image: Brooklyn Magazine

Friday, August 18, 2017

He Cannot Be Coddled

After Charlottesville, Michael Harris writes, Donald Trump becomes the touchstone by which we judge our own politicians:

The Trump White House isn’t the only North American political institution that has lost touch with the real world. The Conservative Party of Canada must now confront a hard fact: Their current leader lacks the nerve to pull the party back to the centre of what might be called ‘responsible conservatism’. In the wake of Charlottesville, that matters. If Conservatives don’t wise up, they may become the pot-bellied pigs of Canadian politics: yesterday’s fad that just smells up the house now.

Andrew Scheer says he won’t grant interviews to The Rebel, the Breitbart News wannabe run by Ezra Levant, under its current editorial direction. That’s nice. So what was it about Rebel’s former, pre-Charlottesville editorial direction that made Scheer comfortable enough to appear on the website several times when he was running for the leadership?

The Rebel was then, and is now, a collection of chocolate-encrusted nutbars — the lunatic villa of the alt-right.

And it should be said also that Scheer didn’t have any problem with having his leadership campaign run by Hamish Marshall, who was on the board of directors of The Rebel and is now, we are told, severing ties with the organization. So Scheer’s attempt to pretend he has only a passing familiarity with Ezra’s work is nonsense.

Justin Trudeau will ultimately be judged by how he deals with Trump:

And for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a postscript: Prime minister, you can coast a long way on selfies in a content-averse universe. But occasions arise when more is required of a leader than imagery. Donald Trump had already given the world his wish-washy take on Charlottesville. We didn’t need one from you.

What we needed from you was the straight goods. That means outing the racists by name and calling out the president of the United States for enabling violent, racist acts. That might have made your next meeting with Trump a little uncomfortable. But it’s a little like being told an off-color joke: If you don’t confront the person who told it, you might as well as laugh and walk away, realizing you have been diminished.

Trump is a force to be dealt with. He cannot be ignored. And he cannot be coddled.

Image: CBC

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Laughter Will Be Universal

Donald Trump disbanded all of his business councils yesterday -- before every member of each council resigned. The message is pretty clear: Donald Trump, the businessman par excellence, is bad for business. Vichy Mochama writes:

The time will come for all brands to dissociate from this administration. Based on the pictures of young men marching, it won’t be too long before polo shirt companies will disavow white nationalism. Somewhere, a public relations agency for Poly by Ralph Lauren and/or Lacoste is in the middle of a heated debate about if and when to change the name of their tennis whites.

From candy conglomerates to e-commerce giants like Etsy and AirBnB, there has been a steady stream of brands taking a stand against the president. Or at least tweeting that they have.

Earlier this year, New Balance, the running shoe company had to clarify whether they were, as claimed by some, the official shoe of white supremacy. Now, New Balance was once the unofficial show of “these are the sneakers I can afford.” But they’ve moved up in the world. They’re now the semi-official (as decided by me) show of Wearing Heels At the Office But Not On The Way.

But like, the official shoe of white people? Nah. Racist footwear depends on what the racist is doing. Flip-flops aren’t inherently racist unless they’re being worn by a non-Indigenous person who is also wearing a headdress at a music festival. Then, yes, those are racist flip-flops.

Increasingly companies and brands are making the connection between the American administration and the racists who support it.

It's all coming down around Donald's ears. And the only thing he knows how to do is go to war -- with everybody. Soon the derisive laughter will be universal. 

Image: Mane 'n Tail

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hopeless -- And Dangerous

When John Kelly took over as Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, many hoped that he would impose much needed discipline on the president. Monday's reworking of Trump's initial statement on Charlottesville had Kelly's fingerprints all over it. But, yesterday, we witnessed yet again how long Mr. Trump can be disciplined. This morning's New York Times editorializes:

Gone was the measured tone that the president’s aides had talked him into on Monday, when he said “racism is evil” and appeared to distance himself from his earlier claims about shared responsibility for the violence. In its place was a high-decibel defense of his original position, to which he added the claim that while there were “bad people” and “very fine people” on both sides, the “very, very violent” protesters on the “alt-left” who came “charging in without a permit” were at least as culpable as the neo-Nazi protesters.
In so doing, Mr. Trump took up many of the talking points of the white nationalists and far-right activists who have been complaining that the news media and the political establishment do not pay enough attention to leftists who call themselves anti-fascists. He also sympathized with the demonstrators’ demand — the announced reason for their rally — that Robert E. Lee’s statue in a Charlottesville park be saved. “Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” However deep their flaws, though, Washington and Jefferson are memorialized as heroes of American freedom, whereas Lee symbolizes violent division. It was hardly a surprise, then, that David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, tweeted to thank the president for his “honesty & courage” in denouncing “leftist terrorists.”

Some are still trying to put lipstick on this pig. But yesterday confirmed that exercise is hopeless. And that Donald Trump is a very dangerous man.

Image: Pinterest

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is NAFTA Dead?

Andrew Coyne's conservative soul was perturbed by what Chrystia Freeland said yesterday:

I said we should be prepared to walk away from the negotiations. I didn’t say we should deliberately sandbag them from the outset.

The government of Canada has at last revealed its objectives for talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a month after the Trump administration released its own. Of course, the nature of any such exercise is to reveal as much about each side’s perceptions of the other’s negotiating position; it makes no sense to come to the table with demands that haven’t a ghost of a chance of being accepted.

What particularly stuck in Coyne's craw was the Trudeau government's insistence that climate change, gender and indigenous rights be put on the table: "But do Trudeau’s people really think the Trumpians could be induced to accept bringing climate change into it? And gender? And Indigenous rights?"

Coyne suspects that the Liberals are betting that the talks will fail:

Of three possible outcomes — a successful conclusion to the negotiations, leading to an agreement between the three countries on a renewed NAFTA; failure, followed by Trump making good on his threat to abrogate the treaty; and failure, unaccompanied by abrogation — the third may well be the most likely.

Congress would have to approve Trump's backing out of the treaty -- and these days Congress disapproves of just about everything that Trump does. Canadians might not get their wish list. But Trump wouldn't get his, either.

Image: CNN Money

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Fake American

 Sarah Palin used to say that she spoke for "real Americans." Paul Krugman writes:

She meant rural and small-town residents — white residents, it went without saying — who supposedly embodied the nation’s true essence.

She was harshly condemned for those remarks, and rightly so — and not just because the real, real America is a multiracial, multicultural land of great metropolitan areas as well as small towns. More fundamentally, what makes America America is that it is built around an idea: the idea that all men are created equal, and are entitled to basic human rights. Take away that idea and we’re just a giant version of a two-bit autocracy.

Donald Trump's supporters showed up in Charlottesville over the weekend -- David Duke confirmed that fact. And Trump refused to condemn them. So what do these events tell us about the president? First, put them in context:

The man who began his political ascent by falsely questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth — a blood-and-soil argument if ever there was one — clearly cares nothing about the openness and inclusiveness that have always been essential parts of who we are as a nation.

But the present occupant of the White House has made no secret of preferring the company, not of democratic leaders, but of authoritarian rulers — not just Vladimir Putin, but people like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoganor Rodrigo Duterte, the homicidal leader of the Philippines. When Trump visited Saudi Arabia, his commerce secretary exulted in the absence of hostile demonstrations, an absence ensured by the repressiveness of the regime.

Trump's reaction to the events of the past weekend confirm that, despite his claim that he speaks for "real Americans," Trump isn't one:

Real Americans expect public officials to be humbled by the responsibility that comes with the job. They’re not supposed to be boastful blowhards, constantly claiming credit for things they haven’t done — like Trump bragging about job creation that has continued at more or less the same pace as under his predecessor — or which never even happened, like his mythical victory in the popular vote.

Real Americans understand that being a powerful public figure means facing criticism. That comes with the job, and you’re supposed to tolerate that criticism even if you feel it’s unfair. Foreign autocrats may rage against unflattering news reports, threaten to inflict financial harm on publications they dislike, talk about imprisoning journalists; American leaders aren’t supposed to sound like that.
 Donald Trump is what he has always been -- a fraud. He is a fake American.

Update: Apparently, the quotation I used in this morning's graphic is false. Sarah Palin did talk about real Americans. But she did not make that outrageous statement about her nation's first peoples. I apologize for the error. I have replaced the graphic.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bigotry And Fake History

What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend provides a vivid reminder of who and what propelled Donald Trump into the White House. Michael Eric Dyson writes:

In attendance was white separatist David Duke, who declared that the alt-right unity fiasco “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump.” In the meantime, Mr. Trump responded by offering false equivalencies between white bigots and their protesters. His soft denunciations of hate ring hollow when he has white nationalist advisers like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller whispering in his ear.

Their anger at the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee is rooted in a misreading of American history -- a misreading which justifies a bigotocracy:

This bigotocracy overlooks fundamental facts about slavery in this country: that blacks were stolen from their African homeland to toil for no wages in American dirt. When black folk and others point that out, white bigots are aggrieved. They are especially offended when it is argued that slavery changed clothes during Reconstruction and got dressed up as freedom, only to keep menacing black folk as it did during Jim Crow. The bigotocracy is angry that slavery is seen as this nation’s original sin. And yet they remain depressingly and purposefully ignorant of what slavery was, how it happened, what it did to us, how it shaped race and the air and space between white and black folk, and the life and arc of white and black cultures.

They cling to a faded Southern aristocracy whose benefits — of alleged white superiority, and moral and intellectual supremacy — trickled down to ordinary whites. If they couldn’t drink from the cup of economic advantage that white elites tasted, at least they could sip what was left of a hateful ideology: at least they weren’t black. The renowned scholar W.E.B. Du Bois called this alleged sense of superiority the psychic wages of whiteness. President Lyndon Baines Johnson once argued, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
We have a bigoted billionaire-cum-president who has done precious little for the white working class whose resentment fueled his rise. They have emptied their ethical and economic pockets in support of him even though he turned his back on them the moment he entered the Oval Office. The only remnant of his leadership they have to hold on to is the folklore of white nationalist sentiment, and xenophobic passion, that offer them psychic comfort if little financial stability.

William Faulkner understood that faded and corrupt dream very well. His novels are full of characters who are warped, violent and pathetic. It seems that not much has changed since his day -- except that today a Faulknerian character occupies the White House.

Image: Mother Jones

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Edge Of The Abyss

From the chair he occupies at McMaster University, Henry Giroux comments on what is happening in the United States. As Donald Trump edges closer to a confrontation with North Korea, Giroux's take on Trump rings truer than ever:

Ignorance is a terrible wound when it is self-inflicted, but it becomes a dangerous plague when the active refusal to know combines with power. President Trump’s lies, lack of credibility, woefully deficient knowledge of the world, and unbridled narcissism have suggested for some time that he lacks the intelligence, judgment and capacity for critical thought necessary to occupy the presidency of the United States. But when coupled with his childish temperament, his volatile impetuousness and his Manichaean conception of a world—a reductionist binary that only views the world in term of friends and enemies, loyalists and traitors—his ignorance translates into a confrontational style that puts lives, if not the entire planet, at risk.

Trump’s seemingly frozen and dangerous fundamentalism, paired with his damaged ethical sensibility, suggests that we are dealing with a form of nihilistic politics in which the relationship between the search for truth and justice on the one hand and moral responsibility and civic courage on the other has disappeared. For the past few decades, as historian Richard Hofstadter and others have reminded us, politics has been disconnected not only from reason but also from any viable notion of meaning and civic literacy. Government now runs on willful ignorance as the planet heats up, pollution increases and people die. Evidence is detached from argument. Science is a subspecies of “fake news,” and alternative facts are as important as the truth. Violence becomes both the catalyst and the result of the purposeful effort to empty language of any meaning. 

Words -- and truth -- mean nothing to Trump:

Anyone who communicates intelligently is now part of the “fake news” world that Trump has invented. Language is now forced into the service of violence. Impetuousness and erratic judgment have become central to Trump’s leadership, one that is as ill-informed as it is unstable. Trump has ushered in a kind of anti-politics and mode of governance in which any vestige of informed judgment and thought is banished as soon as it appears. His rigid, warlike mentality has created an atmosphere in the United States in which dialogue is viewed as a weakness and compromise understood as personal failing.

The United States is in deep trouble. But now -- thanks to Trump --  we all are in deep trouble.

Image: The Telegraph

Friday, August 11, 2017

Soft Power Works

While Donald Trump was threatening North Korea with "fire and fury," Canada secured the release of one of its citizens -- Hyeon Soo Lim -- from the Hermit Kingdom. Michael Harris writes that Justin Trudeau could have torn a page out of Donald Trump's playbook:

Trudeau could have jabbed back. He could have said that North Korea was being run by a dictator in training pants, a misguided, vicious child trying to ape the dubious accomplishments of his autocratic father and grandfather. He could have asked what else one could expect from someone who has his own people executed with an anti-aircraft gun. He could have said Kim was a madman with whom Canada would have nothing to do unless Lim was released on our terms. But he didn’t.
Instead, Trudeau went about the business of securing Lim’s release quietly. The PM employed his national security adviser, Daniel Jean. The Canadian group that went to work on the task teamed up with the Swedish diplomatic mission inside North Korea, where only 24 countries have embassies. Canada is not one of them.
Sweden functions as a ‘protective power’ for Canada in North Korea; in other words, it assumes consular responsibilities there for our citizens, like Lim.

Trudeau was not turning a new page. He was operating from an old Canadian playbook:

This country invented UN peacekeeping. Lester Pearson won the Nobel Prize for preventing the Suez Crisis from turning into a wider regional war in the Middle East. Though this is less well-known, Pearson also kept Canada out of the Vietnam War (just as Jean Chrétien kept this country out of the disastrous Iraq War that Stephen Harper was so anxious to fight).

But perhaps the person Trump could learn the most from when it comes to avoiding violent solutions is General John de Chastelain, a former Canadian chief of the defence staff and the man who helped broker peace between the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Defence Force in Northern Ireland.
As it happened, I was attending school in Dublin during one of the deadlier phases of the battle between the IRA and the UDF. Back then, the conventional wisdom was that there was no bridge to peace in the seemingly endless cycle of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants.

But through two years of patience and diplomacy, de Chastelain and others came up with a plan to put an end to the Troubles — the so-called Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The deal was strongly endorsed in referenda held in the 26-county Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland. Where guns and bombs had failed, diplomats succeeded — through faith, hard work and goodwill.

Soft power works. But it takes time, patience and intelligence -- qualities which the current President of the United States clearly lacks.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

We Cannot Afford Him

Andrew Coyne writes that, for those who thought -- despite his flaws -- Donald Trump would be a better occupant of the White House than Hillary Clinton, the truth has come home to roost:

Those who had convinced themselves that, whatever Trump’s manifest unfitness for office, “at least he isn’t Hillary,” if they had not already repented of their folly over the previous six months, must surely do so now. (He said with no conviction whatever.) The presidency is not a ceremonial post; neither is it a program of policy. It is a command centre, with decisions to be made, many on short notice, sometimes with the most profound consequences. All of the U.S. Constitution’s careful separation of powers and checks and balances — though thank God for them — cannot erase the awful power of the office. Only Congress can declare war, but a president can sure start one. 

Granted, dealing with North Korea is a Gordian Knot that has defied solution:

Dealing with North Korea would tax the abilities of the ablest of presidents, and has. Trump cannot be blamed for the regime’s having acquired nuclear weapons: that was the legacy of previous presidents of both parties, whose concessions and bribes had no more effect on its actions than Trump’s threats. But now that it has nukes, it demands the most delicate and assured handling, one requiring deep experience in matters of state, subtle understanding of human nature, judgment, fortitude and sang-froid.

Having an occupant who is clearly unqualified and temperamentally unsuited for the job underscores the fact that it matters who occupies the White House:

Much speculation has surrounded Trump’s mental state, but as a madman he is not in Kim’s league. He is, rather, a fairly conventional bunkum artist — more unprincipled than most, to be sure, indeed seemingly unburdened by any commitment to fact, but ultimately a transparent bluffer. For all his attempt to play the bully, Trump can no more be counted on to deliver on a threat than a promise. Recall how his first bits of bravado, the suggestion that he might recognize Taiwan, or move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, ended: dropped at the first hint of pushback.

At this late stage in the planet's evolution, we cannot afford to have a monumental bunkum artist in the Oval Office.

Image: Merriam-Webster

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Big Bang Is Not A Theory

North Korea and the United States have reached a moment of truth. David Ignatius writes:

If Washington and Beijing manage to stay together in dealing with Pyongyang, the door opens on a new era in which China will play a larger and more responsible role in global affairs, commensurate with its economic power. If the great powers can’t cooperate, the door will slam shut — possibly triggering a catastrophic military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. 

Donald Trump's threat to unleash "fire and fury" has not helped:

The U.S. threat may be a bluff, but with Trump, you never know. Top U.S. officials understand that a preemptive war against North Korea could result in horrendous loss of life and a post-conflict outcome that would be worse for all parties. But when national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that a nuclear-armed North Korea is “intolerable” to Trump, one should assume he means it — and that he is preparing a menu of military options. 

We are edging to the brink -- and the future is uncertain:

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Monday, in reaction to the U.N. vote and Chinese-American calls for talks: “We will under no circumstances put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table.” Is he bluffing? Again, we don’t know.

The Defense Intelligence Agency concluded late last month that North Korea has mastered the technology for a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could sit atop a missile that could hit the United States, according to The Post. A white paper by Japan’s defense ministry reached a similar conclusion and warned that the nuclear threat was now an imminent problem.  

Some commentators call this a "catalytic moment." Things are speeding up. But what the world is speeding to is anyone's guess. Pessimist that I am, I'm not hopeful. I am certain of one thing: the big bang is not a theory.

Image: The Royal Secret

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Worst Is Yet To Come

So you think that with Trump gone it will be morning in American again? Think again. Paul Mason writes:

The scenario being touted in Democrat circles is that Trump tries and fails to sack Mueller, one or more suspects gets immunity and the beans are spilled. Trump then either resigns or is impeached. Mike Pence becomes president. Only then do we get to know what the rightwing billionaires behind the project really want. Because Trump was never their first pick: for the first six months of his campaign, the main elite donor to the Trump campaign was Donald J Trump himself. It was only when the religious conservative Ted Cruz failed to ignite the masses that ultra-rightwing business money switched to Trump.

The Koch Brothers let it be known that they and their network weren't backing Trump:

Even then the Koch brothers, who have funded rightwing pressure groups to the tune of $400m (£307m), kept their distance until their ally Pence was installed as Trump’s running mate. If Pence becomes president it will be the true moment of revelation. All the 3am garbage tweeted by Trump, all the waffle that comes out of his mouth at rallies, will be seen as the surrealist prologue to the main event. But what is the main event?

Pence is where they want him -- poised to take over at the appropriate time: The Kochs and their confederates have two objectives:

One, most clearly associated with the Koch brothers, is best described by its adopted euphemism: “income defence”. It sees every dollar of the US’s $19tn debt as a future claim on the profits of private enterprise; it wants low taxation and – as Trump backer Robert Mercer is once reported to have said – a state “shrunken down to the size of a pinhead”

The other side of far-right ideology, by contrast, wants a repressive state, imposed conservative social norms and – if necessary – an eviscerated constitution to achieve it. If we analyse Trump through his actions, rather than his garbled words, it is political illiberalism that has won out during the first seven months of his presidency. When a judge blocked his Muslim immigration ban, he attacked the judiciary’s constitutional role. When the press revealed malfeasance, he labelled them “enemies of the American people”. When James Comey refused Trump’s appeals for “loyalty”, he was sacked.

Pence has long stood for those two objectives. And he's willing to drive full bore to achieve them. The worst is yet to come.


Monday, August 07, 2017


Anyway you look at it, Michael Harris writes, Donald Trump is a fascist. You can't pussyfoot your way around that conclusion:

I use the word fascist advisedly. If we are to square up to the facts, what other way is there to describe Trump? Mussolini, whom Trump unabashedly quoted during the presidential election campaign, said that “fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.”

Could there be a better description of the Trump cabinet than that? A collection of billionaires representing the corporate elite in the United States, who now also control the levers of political power – often without relinquishing their business conflicts?

Trump refuses to recognize the independence of the other branches of the American government:

Someone has apparently forgotten to tell the president that under the system of checks and balances in U.S. governance, the Senate is “co-equal” with the executive branch. But then fascists don’t lose much sleep violating the constitution.

Nor did Trump hesitate to violate the independence of the Department of Justice. The president lambasted his own attorney general for not undertaking criminal investigations into government leaks and the alleged crimes of Hillary Clinton. It is not the president’s job to direct criminal prosecutions.

And it is certainly not Trump’s job to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller what he may or may not investigate when it comes to the Trump campaign/Russia connection. There is an old saying in law: you can’t be judge in your own cause, something fascists specialize in.

Trump's ignorance of the American Constitution -- which he is supposed to "protect and defend" -- is appalling.  But his drive for absolute control makes him truly dangerous. And those who have  enabled him, bear as much responsibility for the tragedy which has befallen the United States as he does:

Remember what Rick Perry said when he was running against Donald Trump for the Republican Party presidential nomination?

“Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

A year and a half later, Perry accepted the job as Trump’s energy secretary. Power corrupts.

Macaulay was right. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Image: Discogs

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Empowering Labour

NAFTA is going to be re-negotiated. That's fine with Linda McQuaig, so long as workers get a piece of the action. She writes:

In reality, NAFTA has been key to the transformation of Canada over the last two decades, enabling corporations to become ever more dominant economically and politically, while rendering our labour force increasingly vulnerable and insecure.

Indeed, the much-lamented rise in income inequality and feelings of powerlessness among working Canadians aren’t mysterious consequences of participating in the global economy. Rather, they’re the predictable consequences of our country signing a trade deal that greatly empowers corporations and their investors at the expense of everyone else.

The agreement's twenty year history makes it abundantly clear that corporations are in the driver's seat:

Gus Van Harten, an Osgoode Hall law professor and expert in international investment law, says NAFTA provides “Exhibit A for how rules of the global economy have been rewritten to favour large corporations and the superrich at the expense of the general public.”

Van Harten is referring to NAFTA’s Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) mechanism which, amazingly, allows foreign corporations to sue governments over laws that interfere with corporate profitability — even if those laws are aimed at protecting the public from, say, environmental or health risks.
These corporate lawsuits are adjudicated by special tribunals — notoriously sympathetic to corporate interests — that can force governments to pay the corporations compensation (out of our taxpayer dollars!) There’s no cap on the size of the awards.

Canada has already been sued this way 39 times, and paid out more than $190 million, with the money mostly going to major corporations and extremely wealthy investors, notes Van Harten. In addition, we don’t know how many times governments have backed off from introducing laws, to avoid provoking a NAFTA lawsuit.

The problem is that the push to empower labour won't come from the Americans: 

But proposals that ISDS be eliminated are unlikely to win support from, for instance, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State and former CEO of ExxonMobil, which won $14 million from Canada in a NAFTA lawsuit.

And Trump, a billionaire whose companies (along with daughter Ivanka’s fashion business) routinely outsource work to low-wage jurisdictions, clearly has no interest in tampering with the wildly pro-corporate rules of NAFTA.

And Justin Trudeau doesn't advocate changing the balance of power -- despite his rhetoric. So the push to empower labour will have to come from elsewhere.

Image: SlidePlayer

Saturday, August 05, 2017

A Failure In Retrospect

Now that the Republicans have failed to repeal Obamacare, Paul Krugman puts that failure in perspective. Obamacare failed because the Republicans' attempts to sabotage it really ticked people off:

I’m talking about the people who screamed at their congressional representatives in town halls. People like, for example, the man who pushed his wheelchair-bound son, who was suffering from cerebral palsy, in front of a congressman, yelling that President Obama’s health care plan would provide the boy with “no care whatsoever” and would be a “death sentence.”

The reality, of course, is that people with pre-existing medical conditions are among the A.C.A.’s biggest beneficiaries, and would have had the most to lose if conservative Republicans had managed to repeal the law. And this should have been obvious from the beginning.

Beyond that, it’s now clear (as should also have been clear from the beginning) that very few people other than wealthy taxpayers were hurt by health reform, which was designed to disrupt existing health arrangements as little as possible.

Put bluntly, the Republican Party has been focused exclusively on the agenda favoured by the wealthiest Americans. And that focus has driven the party off the rails.

A word to the wise.


Friday, August 04, 2017

Showdown At The Washington Corral

Tony Burman has reached several conclusions about the Trump presidency. The first is that it will come to a bad end. The second is that Trump is in the pocket of the Russian mob. The third is that the end of the Trump presidency will be a existential challenge to American democracy:

We are now getting a much clearer sense of where this high-stakes drama is heading. The details may change but the contours of this epic chapter in American political history are beginning to emerge.

Although it has been another head-spinning week, perhaps the most important disclosure was a Washington Post story (notwithstanding reports that Mueller empanelled a grand jury to probe Russia’s ties to the 2016 campaign). The story suggested how centrally involved Donald Trump has become in the expanding inquiry about his secret connections with Russia.

Trump will do everything he can to stop the Mueller investigation:

Increasingly, it appears that the Mueller investigation will help answer that question by examining the close but largely secret relationship between the Trump empire and Russian financial interests.
According to leaks, it has only been in recent days that Trump has realized that this Mueller probe, if not stopped, may even include an examination of his tax returns that he has been so stubborn to keep secret.

A revealing preview of what Mueller is undoubtedly discovering was featured as the extensive cover story of September’s issue of the U.S. magazine New Republic. Written by investigative journalist Craig Unger, the story was titled: “Married to the Mob: What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia.”

Unger was stark in his conclusions: “Whether Trump knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.”

And, as Mueller zeros in on Trump, the Great Orange Id will become increasingly dangerous:

Like a cornered rat, he will fight to protect his interests. In every conceivable way, he will work to stop Mueller’s probe, to challenge Congress if it intervenes, to undermine the press and judiciary if they get in the way and — yes — even to engage in reckless military adventures if he thought that would strengthen his position.

We're heading for a showdown at the Washington Corral. 

Image: Hoaxtead Research