Nothing Happened in Singapore

Kim and Trump Shake HandsThe summit meeting in Singapore today was a perfect Donald Trump event.

Stagecraft, suspense, pageantry, rhetoric, photo ops, but no real results. Just like on the game show that made him famous, tune in next week to see what happens. After an hour of talking, the two leaders staged a signing ceremony, of a vague document containing promises to do something in the future, full of platitudes about security and prosperity for North Korea.

I’ll be happy if our dealmaker-in-chief pulls off some kind of binding agreement that actually reduces tensions or removes the threat of nuclear war, because hey — who wants nuclear war? But I’d feel a lot better about this whole thing if somebody smarter than Donald J. Trump were over there negotiating in my name. Political and military analysts around the world are saying that the North Koreans have reneged on too many promises over the years to be taken seriously this time without a specific agreed-upon set of requirements and on-the-ground inspections to guarantee compliance, neither of which are in today’s document.

As expected, Trump has made all the concessions so far:

  • First, a few weeks ago he backed down on routine annual joint military exercises with South Korea, then today announced he is halting them completely (apparently without discussing his decision with our allies in the region, namely South Korea and Japan).
  • Then he allowed the murderous dictator of an isolated and brutal regime to be seen on the world stage standing as an equal to the president of the United States, an honor the North has been seeking for three generations, and all previous presidents have denied them.
  • He decided that there was no need to discuss human rights violations with Kim, whose people are starving and who has 120,00 political prisoners in camps around the country.
  • Kim did agree to begin to repatriate the remains of 5,300 allied soldiers who were killed in the Korean War 70 years ago, many of whom are buried in unmarked mass graves. This could help bring some peace to their families and survivors, but I wouldn’t call it a “concession.’ This is what civilized leaders and nations do all the time.

Other than that, Kim agreed to destroy a missile testing site “soon,” whatever that means, especially considering that the testing has already been completed.

Trump has been more or less continuously bragging about this “historic” summit for the past 36 hours, but up to now Kim Jong-Un seems to have won all the historic concessions. To use one of Donald Trump’s favorite phrases, “We’ll see what happens.”

Supreme Court Okays Ohio Voter Suppression Law

Source: Supreme Court says states can remove voters who skip elections, ignore warnings

The minority party in the United States — the Republicans —

— control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the majority of state governments. Because of this, they have been able to pack the Supreme Court with partisans, who are now assisting the party’s voter suppression activities. Neil Gorsuch is the only the first Trump appointee to side with the one-percenters over the rest of us. There will be more.

Today the Court agreed that the state of Ohio can purge eligible registered voters from the voter rolls if they don’t vote in two elections or if they don’t return a postcard sent to “verify” that they still want to be registered to vote. This is the strictest law in the nation, and — surprise! — it turns out that those most affected are those likely to vote Democratic: students, minorities, disabled and the elderly, for example.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke for fairness and equality:

“African-American-majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati had 10% of their voters removed due to inactivity” since 2012, as “compared to only 4% of voters in a suburban, majority-white neighborhood.” She also cited amicus briefs explaining “at length how low voter turnout rates, language-access problems, mail delivery issues, inflexible work schedules, and transportation issues, among other obstacles, make it more difficult for many minority, low-income, disabled, homeless, and veteran voters to cast a ballot or return a notice, rendering them particularly vulnerable to unwarranted removal under” Ohio’s process.

Clearly, Republicans know that if everyone voted they would never win another election, so they have become creative in figuring out ways to make sure that only Republicans get to vote: outrageous gerrymandering, voter ID laws, cutting back on early voting, closing polling places in Democratic precincts, and of course purging voter rolls. Will “literacy tests” be next?

The moral here is the same as always: Don’t let the bastards get you down! Voting is your right. Protect it, whatever you have to do. In recent elections, when the GOP has done things to block folks from voting, they have turned out in greater numbers than usual, waited in long lines, in bad weather, and cast their votes. Check with your county registrar to make sure you have not been “purged.” Return the damn postcard. Vote in every election! Go to the polls on election day, or send in your vote-by-mail ballot.

Treacherous Canadian Stabs US Prez in Back

Source: Trump backs out of joint G7 communique after accusing ‘meek and mild’ Trudeau of ‘false statements’ | The Independent

Kim Jung Un must be pleased to be sitting down with an American president…

…who has, just a few hours earlier, blown off six of America’s closest and strongest allies. Trump has already backed down on joint U.S. – South Korea military exercises at Kim’s demand. This demonstrates not only that Donald Trump is a wimp who is getting outmaneuvered, but also that he doesn’t give a fuck about the rest of the world.

Kim is not going to give up his nukes. My concern now is that Trump will “negotiate” a reduction in North Korean ICBMs (which can reach North America) in exchange for pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea. This leaves Kim with nuclear weapons and short-range missiles which will threaten both South Korea AND Japan, two allies no longer able to depend on help from the U.S. I can’t believe we are now talking about a real possibility that nuclear weapons might be used again.

Meantime, Trump has given Kim the great gift of being seen on worldwide television as an equal to the American president and a respected world leader in his own right.

Roseanne Barr Now Unemployed

I never found Roseanne Barr’s style of nasty redneck humor very funny, and now that she has come out as a racist I’m not particularly surprised about that, either. I’m not a Twitter user (real men don’t tweet), so I have been unaware of her history of walking up to the line of propriety and then stepping back. This time she went too far, and good for ABC Television for dumping her and her show, despite it being a huge “hit” for them.

Roseanne’s “apology” is pathetic, too:

I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste.
7:33 AM – May 29, 2018

This is too little, too late, from a woman who has made her feelings about politics and race pretty clear over the years. I don’t know exactly how lucrative that show was to Barr personally, but I read her apology as an insincere attempt to control the damage and save her enormous revenue stream. Of course it’s a “bad joke” — one of the worst I’ve heard lately.

But Barr is a professional comedian. She knows that a joke is supposed to be funny, and her Twitter remark (she has deleted it, but you can look it up yourself) was nothing but mean. There’s no way she thought it was funny, so there’s no way she intended it as a joke. It was nothing more than a slur. If anybody laughed it was only that special group of uneducated whites, victimized and totally unaware that they were born to privilege, getting together and chortling over their newfound freedom to be bigots.

So good riddance to Roseanne on television. The sad part of this is not that her show got canceled. It’s that so many TV viewers were so delighted with her show, her character’s world view, and, as it turns out, Roseanne herself. If the show gets picked up for another season by another network (maybe Fox?) these same viewers will still be watching, even knowing what they know now.

Is the Second Amendment Really the Last Word on Gun Rights?

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Here’s another reason to vote IN EVERY ELECTION, especially the one in November of this year.

After slow-walking President Obama’s judicial appointments for eight years, Republicans are now packing the federal courts with right-wing judges, who will be making decisions about how you may live your life for the next 30 or 40 years. These are lifetime appointments and a handful of these judges will one day sit on the Supreme Court, and make further partisan decisions about gun proliferation in the United States.

In our 250-year history, it has only been ten years since a slim majority of the Supreme Court misread the 2nd Amendment and decided that everybody has a right to own a gun of any kind. That could change if we VOTE THE REPUBLICANS OUT NOW!

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore sheds light on how we might one day recover from the damage of the 2008 Heller decision:

Not So Long Ago, the Second Amendment Didn’t Guarantee the Right to Own a Gun

Nothing Is Sacred

I have tried to write this three times now.

There is so much B.S. surrounding the Trump Condolence Call Controversy that I keep getting sidetracked trying to include all of it. Here’s what I want to say: John Kelly is a dinosaur, and his defense of Trump is dishonest at best.

He says it’s a “sacred” thing to join the U.S. military. Of course he thinks so — he’s been in the Marines all his life. He doesn’t know better. All those young people have their reasons for joining, but it’s absurd to call it sacred. The army represents mankind’s worst failure — the failure to figure out a way to come together in peace. No doubt this was not on the minds of enlistees, but that just goes to show the pervasive influence of patriotic thinking.

Kelly and Trump have both said they knew what they were signing up for, but those kids couldn’t know what they were signing up for. No kid thinks s/he is ever going to die, much less get blown up or torn to pieces by machine gun fire. Snap out of it, General. They are not engaged in a “sacred” mission. Whatever they may think they are doing, you and I know they are defending our right to rule the world. I suppose you could call that a “sacred mission.” But honorable? Maybe not.

Kelly says the people around his son and the four who were killed two weeks ago were “the best people on earth.” How the hell does he know that? No doubt some were great people and some were assholes, but Kelly is telling us that simply by virtue of their participation in the U,S. military, they are sainted.

General Kelly also spent a little time waxing nostalgic about the place of women in the good old days, saying they were “looked upon with great honor.” Who knows why he brought that up, but could any public figure be more out of touch with the reality women have faced and continue to face in this country, from casual sexual harassment to unequal pay and treatment in the workplace? We have a long way to go in this regard, but even though we’ve made some progress Kelly seems to think women were better off in the past.

Kelly also took the opportunity to attack Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson on bogus grounds, which she easily refuted the following day with video evidence. To be clear, I don’t think he was lying about the congresswoman. He probably got misinformation from a staffer in the White House, someone who long ago lost sight of the difference between fact and fiction.

The victim here seems to be the good standing of General Kelly himself, heretofore seen as a stabilizing force amid the chaos of the Trump White House. At first he looked like the life preserver we could cling to for safety from the ignorant, childish president. Now it looks like he’ll be going down with the ship, too.

Republicans Not Concerned About Flynn

For those who were scratching their heads in December,

Devin Nunes: “MUST track down leaks!”

…wondering why Vladimir Putin did not respond in kind to President Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats as part of the sanctions leveled for Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, here’s your answer: Mike Flynn.

In his illegal phone conversations with Russian officials he apparently let them know that they need not worry about those sanctions, once Donald Trump was sworn in. Wink, wink.

Flynn was forced to resign over this but, as I predicted last night, Republicans in Congress are not the least bit interested in investigating this scandal, or making any effort to answer the question “What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it?”

Out Like Flynn

The Associated Press and New York Times are reporting that General Michael Flynn has resigned as National Security Adviser. (Story here.)

This comes just a couple of hours after he had “the full confidence of the president.” Given his obvious criminal and unethical behavior both before and Michael Flynnafter he (and Trump) took office, this turn of events was inevitable, and I’m sure he was ordered to resign. Trump’s inner circle is no doubt hoping that, now that he’s gone, there will be no investigation, as that would surely implicate others in the new administration. They’ll be saying “It’s over, nothing to see here, let’s move on, the nation has more important problems, blah, blah, blah.”

But can you imagine how this would go down had Hillary Clinton been president? Every committee in Congress would open investigations, and they would continue for eight years. Of course, Republicans control both houses of congress, and run all the committees, so there won’t be any investigations of the Flynn scandal.

It’s time for the mainstream press to hitch up their big girl pants and look into this, no matter how long it takes or where it leads.

Product Placement

I’m not going to pretend that this pisses me off any more than everything else Donald Trump and the gang are up to.

The Trump Administration is looking less like the second coming of the German Nazi Party every day, and more like a Keystone Kops comedy. Their barrage of Executive Action signings are mostly just photo ops, and the one they really got behind — the Muslim Ban — has now been stayed by a federal judge and the stay has been upheld by a panel of the 9th Circuit. This is not to say that they won’t hurt a lot of people before it’s over, but at least there is hope that they won’t bring down the Republic.

But Donald Trump’s refusal to divest himself from his businesses, create a blind trust and stop hiding his financial dealings from the American people remains the most serious of his betrayals. While the president gets some legal leeway in this matter, there is a reason all previous presidents have taken steps to separate themselves from business activities while in office. Doing a good job at being president should be the only thing on Trump’s agenda. Instead, he remains the owner of his company, and stands to benefit WHILE IN OFFICE from income generated from it.

He has tweeted in support of his daughter’s clothing line. Ivanka herself has advertised jewelry she is selling as having been worn on a 60 Minutes interview. Melania has recently admitted in court that she plans to enhance her own wealth as a result of being First Lady. The whole family, not to mention Trump’s sycophantic staff (see Kellyanne Conway article), is trying to cash in.

Trump has serious ethical and criminal issues. He must address them now. We need a president focused on the nation, not on getting richer. If he wanted to remain in the business world he should not have run for president.