So far the pivot from jerk to adult has still not happened. Cheeto Jesus, the Siberian Candidate, is president. It’s late, but here are some thoughts on the election and its aftermath.
Although a lot of the GOP tried to distance themselves from Trump (until he won the election), I have a feeling that some big shots in the GOP are taking some notes about this election. The last time they won outright was 2004, with another guy who was proud to be stupid. So why not stick with what works for them?
To be frank, I was surprised that he won. I kept refreshing several news sites throughout the night.
To be fair, HRC did not run as good of a campaign as she could have. They spent way too much time on Nebraska trying to get that one electoral vote, and spent little time or energy on or in Wisconsin and Michigan. I am not saying that they should not have spent any time on Nebraska; it is a bad idea to write off entire states. But don’t ignore your strengths.
But there were many external factors that worked against HRC.
One is all the laws restricting voting rights (see this page and this page). Pretty much all of them were instituted by Republicans, and were structured to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that are more likely to vote for Democrats.
One is the obsession with emails. To be honest, I have no idea what she could have done differently about this. A lot of people in the GOP had the “creationist mindset”: They have their conclusion, and they just needed some facts to back it up. Representative Jason Chaffetz plans to keep investigating HRC’s emails, because “we have to get to the truth”. She has been investigated for years by people who wanted to find something to use to nail her to the wall, and they still found nothing. Here’s an idea: Maybe she didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it’s time to admit your assumptions were incorrect. Maybe you have gotten to the truth, but you just refuse to accept it.
I do think the media bears some blame. For all the talk of a “liberal media”, they give Republicans a lot of leeway. They let Trump define himself and HRC. They went with what Trump said, and ignored what HRC said, ignored reality. Trump said she has no plans to increase jobs, but she did. Part of it was increased spending on infrastructure, which is something he talked about in his inaugural address. Trump said that HRC is a lapdog for Wall Street because she gave a speech to Goldman Sachs, but his campaign and now his administration have more Wall Street people on it than she did. He said she is shady and corrupt because she won’t release information about the Clinton Foundation. The fact is, she said she and Bill would shut down the foundation if she won the election. And we are still waiting to see his tax returns (link at White House site still good as of 2014-01-30 ).
I think the FBI director deserves some of the blame. He has been out to get the Clintons for years, and he got his chance. Note to future Democratic presidents: Do not put Republicans in important posts; it could bite you in the back later, and the rest of the GOP will still hate you. As I stated, it should surprise nobody that nothing came of the re-opening of the investigation. And if anybody tells you the FBI was not trying to influence the election, they are either lying or stupid. But apparently, the FBI only talks about investigations of Hillary Clinton, and nobody else. Plus, it’s odd that when they found out the DNC was hacked, they only made one call to a help desk, instead of calling then-DNC chief and incumbent Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The investigation into HRC’s emails, however, went on full-speed ahead.
I think the real reason that the GOP is all worked up about HRC’s email server: It’s the only one the Russians could not get into.
And then there is Russia. I do think Russia “hacked the election” (which does not mean they actually hacked the voting machines themselves). Many of the people working on Trump’s campaign (and now administration) have been to Russia and/or have business ties to Russia (like Paul Mantafort, Carter Page and Michael Flynn; see this graphic of Trump/Mantafort ties to Russia). One of Trump’s sons said that Russians have invested in many Trump properties. Trump has given contradictory statements as to whether or not he has met with Putin.
I don’t know if Trump himself has any direct ties to Putin. But even during the campaign, he seemed to have this odd need/desire for some sort of approval from Putin. Until we see his taxes, we might not get the full story. I don’t know if there is a “pee-pee tape”, but I do suspect the Russians have some sort of financial leverage over Trump. Perhaps he owes them a lot of money. Perhaps he is helping oligarchs launder money (see this page and this page).
The question is not really whether Trump has any financial stake in Russia. The question is how much of a financial stake does Russia have in Trump.
One reason I think it is financial leverage is that I don’t think Trump cares if people think he is a pervert, or an amazingly small-minded and thin-skinned individual. But I do think he wants to be seen as a business and financial genius.
The “pee-pee tape” is a reference to a dossier by a former MI6 agent about Trump’s relationship with Russia which mentioned golden showers. After it came out, Trump tweeted about it a few times:
- Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably… (tweet here)
- Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING! (tweet here)
- Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is “A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.” Very unfair! (tweet here)
Notice that in two of them, he said that the Russian government says there is no tape. First off, Putin is a former KGB agent, and has a lot of former KGB agents working for him directly (and possibly current GRU and FSB agents as well). I am not going to take their word on anything. I wouldn’t ask those guys if water is wet. Secondly, if you are accused of being too close to the Russian government or of being in a position to be blackmailed by them, using their denial as your argument makes it look like the accusations are true.
After Trump announced he was nominating Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, he said Tillerson’s relationship with Russia is a selling point. Believe it or not, I am not against having a good relationship with Russia. But it seems like Trump wants to please the Russian government, and kind of hates everybody else. Even most of his own constituents.
Someone on twitter pointed out that Trump has been consistent about only two things: How great he is, and how great Russia and Putin are. He seems to hate every other country on the planet. Even the one he will be running.
Trump says Russia will respect the USA more with him in charge. I doubt that. People generally do not respect lapdogs.
According to not-failing Bloomberg, Trump tweeted: “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.” Nobody is saying a good relationship with Russia is a bad thing. It’s just that their leadership is full of liars and thieves who cannot be trusted. Another point: What does Trump mean by a “good relationship with Russia”? If by that he means Russians controlling our government, then, no, I do not want a good relationship with them. Also, if a good relationship with Russia comes at the cost of alienating the USA from every other country, then it is not worth it.
To me, a good relationship with Russia is necessary because you should keep your friends close, and authoritarian, interventionists closer. The US intelligence community has thought for a while that Russia has been meddling in the EU for some time, supporting parties that want to break up the EU. There is a movement to make California an independent country. It opened “California Culture Center” in Moscow (see this page and this page).
“It was opened by the President of Yes California Independence Campaign, Louis Marinelli, and the President of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.” That is according to the website of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia. News flash, dipstick: If you are encouraging part of a nation to declare independence, you are not “anti-globalist”. Don’t complain about corporations pushing you around if you want to break up other countries.
If the EU is broken up, and the US starts breaking up, who wins? That’s right, Russia. They become more powerful relative to everybody else. If you don’t like Brussels or Washington telling you what to do, but you have no problem with Moscow telling you what to do, you are an idiot.
Russia was behind the DNC hack, the Podesta hack, and a lot of the fake news (or more accurately: lies and propaganda). I also think that they are in cahoots with Wikileaks (see this page and this page).
It took a Google search, but there is a page that lists leaks by country. (I get a feeling of plausible deniability here.) There are a LOT of leaks about the US (over 9,500 at the time of this writing), and about 57 on Russia, 5 more for the “Russian Federation“. I am not one of those foam-finger, #1, USA-is-never-wrong guys, but don’t tell me that Russia has a better human rights record than we do.
Julian Assange had a show on RT. I don’t take Assange at his word that he has no ties to Russia. He has said that if he had dirt on the GOP he would release it, yet amazingly he seems to have a lot of documents tied to Democrats. He has insisted that nobody has sent him anything about the GOP. But that’s the paradox with Wikileaks, isn’t it? You just have to take his word for it.
Wikileaks has made a few weird moves, like getting personal info about ALL verified twitter users and putting it online. They also threatened legal action against MSNBC for talking about possible links between Russia and Wikileaks (see this page and this page). They could solve this by being more transparent.
Granted, sometimes people put themselves at risk by sending documents to Wikileaks. So maybe Wikileaks really has no idea who sends them stuff. Which means they really cannot say with any certainty whether or not the Russian government is the group that got/stole the info they are releasing. Yet somehow Assange is 1000% certain. Okay.
Assange saw the Panama Papers as an attack on Putin (many of Putin’s associates were implicated), yet ignored the grief it caused David Cameron and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (the then-Prime Minisiter of Iceland who resigned because of revelations in the Panama Papers).
When Wikileaks started, Assange wrote: “Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia.” So what changed?
I think Assange’s paranoia has turned Wikileaks from a force for good to a Russian mouthpiece. I am not clear why he was so afraid that Sweden would extradite him to the US. The US has an extradition treaty with the UK. I think if the US wanted the UK to send Assange over, they would have. And even if Sweden decides to drop the charges, he is still a fugitve from British justice. That is one problem he caused himself.
Let’s not forget, Trump advisor Roger Stone has stated he has a “back channel” to Julian Assange through a mutual friend (see this page, this page and this page). This is a guy who worked for Nixon during the dirty campaign of 1972, and has a tatoo of Nixon’s face on his back. Need I say more?
Also, some have said that this election was decided by the “white working class”. I don’t know if that is true, since a lot of people who should know better voted for Trump.
There has been some hand-wringing amongst Democrats about how to connect with the white working class. I think this is kind of funny. The Democratic Party has always been the party that stands with unions. Has the Democratic Party abandoned the white working class, or did the WWC abandon the DP? Yes, there is a lot more corporate influence in the DP than there was 30 or 40 years ago, but there is WAY more in the Republican Party. And the exodus of the WWC to the GOP started with Reagan. If the WWC votes for the party that is out to destroy unions, then there is not much you can do for them.
Some, like Bill Black and Thomas Frank, thinks liberals have driven the WWC out of the DP because a lot of liberals are “too smug”. Generally I like what those two have to say, but they are off their rocker on this point. The migration started with Reagan, who was elected when I was 9. Before many of today’s hipsters were born. Nobody is forcing these people to vote for the GOP. Nobody is forcing them to watch Fox News, or listen to the liars on talk radio. If someone keeps voting against their own economic self-interest for 30 years, it’s their own fault.
I have also seen articles telling us city folk that we need to understand rural communities and the WWC. Screw you. No I don’t. A lot of them are bigoted. I can tell you based on the questions and comments I get from these people and that I read and hear about, they (Trump voters) have no desire to understand me at all. They are intent on misunderstanding everyone but them. Why are they still asking, “If evolution is happening, why don’t cats give birth to dogs?” Tell me if you have heard this one: “You’re not really an atheist. You really believe in god, you’re just mad at him.” They might hear, but they refuse to understand.
Also: The popular vote. Which Trump lost. I have read that this point does not matter. I think it does. If it did not, why did he make his claim that there were millions of illegal votes? (I have heard of three people being arrested for voter fraud, all for Trump.) Trump seems to think that life is all about ratings and approval. He uses that as justification for his policies. The fact is that most people did not want him in office. Most people do not support his policies. He does not have any sort of mandate.
We on the left need to be more vocal, more forceful. When a GOP president or governor squeeks by, they act like God made them king. What a Democrat barely makes it in, the GOP uses that slim margin as a reason to obstruct. Perhaps we should obstruct. Be jerks if need be. Just don’t believe in nonsense, and don’t refuse to change your mind when the facts change.
First image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting “La femme et le pantin” (The Woman and the Puppet) by Angel Zárraga (1886–1946). Second image from Wikiart, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting “Hourglass” by Romul Nutiu.