Trump and Putin vs. America

leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.

.. There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

.. Every single Republican lawmaker will be — and should be — asked on the election trail: Are you with Trump and Putin or are you with the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A.?

.. It started with the shocking tweet that Trump issued before he even sat down with Putin this morning: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” The official Twitter account of the Russian foreign ministry — recognizing a useful idiot when it saw one — immediately “liked” Trump’s tweet and later added: “We agree.”

I’ll bet they do.

.. And in a bit of shocking moral equivalence, Trump added of the United States and Russia: “We are all to blame … both made some mistakes.” Trump said that it was actually the American probe into the Russian hacking that has “kept us apart.”

.. To watch an American president dis his own intelligence agencies, blame both sides for the Russian hacking of our election — and deliberately try to confuse the fact that there is still no solid proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia with the fact that Russia had its own interest in trying to defeat the anti-Putin Hillary Clinton — actually made me sick to my stomach.

.. I completely endorse the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan’s tweet after the news conference:

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

.. the fact that he may not have colluded with the Russians doesn’t mean he does not, as president, have a responsibility to ensure that the Russians be punished for interfering in our last election on their own and be effectively deterred from doing so in the future. That is in his job description.

.. Listening to Trump, it was as if Franklin Roosevelt had announced after Pearl Harbor: “Hey, both sides are to blame. Our battleships in Hawaii were a little provocative to Japan — and, by the way, I had nothing to do with the causes for their attack. So cool it.”

.. In the past few years what has Putin done to deserve an American president sucking up to him for an “extraordinary” relationship?

  • Putin has seized Crimea,
  • covertly invaded Ukraine,
  • provided the missiles that shot down a civilian Malaysian airliner over Ukraine,
  • bombed tens of thousands of refugees out of Syria into Europe, destabilizing Europe,
  • been involved in the death of a British woman who accidentally handled a Russian nerve agent deployed to kill ex-Russian agents in England and
  • deployed misinformation to help tip the vote in Britain toward exiting and fracturing the European Union.

Most of all, Putin unleashed a cyberattack on America’s electoral process, aimed at both electing Trump — with or without Trump’s collusion — and sowing division among American citizens.

David Frum – Surviving The Trumpocracy

Trump thought you can’t buy an AR-15 in a store legally. (2 min)

This is not 1933, but Trump is eroding the norms.

Not everyone has had the same advantages, don’t apologize, but live up to them.  (20 min)

Donald Trump was rated as “more honest” because he doesn’t equivocate.  This may change how future candidates speak.

After Charlottesville, leaders of all branches of the military posted (on twitter?) comments condemning the President (33-34 min)

We can’t restore bipartisanship, but we can’t do certain things. You can’t threaten to default on the national dept. It’s not acceptable to filibustering

President Trump played a respected, competent, caring business leader, holding people accountable people who never always avoid accountability but everyday people are fired.

They thought here’s someone who is going to be able get something done.

There are certain promises you make– I’ll balance the budget — and then there are promises you keep — I’ll be at your fundraiser. (47 min)

Saddam Hussein had been a threat — he had gotten into wars multiple times. In the upheaval after 911 he was going to be a dangerous actor. I assumed there was good evidence for it. The sanctions regime was deteriorating.

The most important media companies are Facebook, Reddit, Twitter.

There is a tension between Democrats wanting to influence 2018 and those who care about 2020.

America’s problems arise from cultural and economic issues. When native population falls below replacement thresholds, immigration raises cultural concerns.

You want unilateral disarmament. If you adopt his tactics, you don’t stop him, you replace him. You want the people in power to accept limits, which means that you have to accept limits.

Lyndon Johnson lied about the Tonkin, but he gave you the tools to confront him. He never isn’t that it didn’t make a difference.The present situation is an attack on the way the executive branch functions (1:14 min).

Fox News accused CNN of manipulating the town hall questions. (1:16 min)

On the matter of the FISA warrents, it was obvious to everyone that Trump was engaged in contacts with Russian intelligence and was surrounded by people with Russian ties. When Henry Wallace ran in 1948, his campaign was staffed with foreign agents. Charles Limburg accepted a Natzi medal. Carter Page was signaling that he wanted to be used. If that person were on the left, we would recognize the symptoms. (1:20 min)

Trump’s Fan-Service to His Base Is Tearing America Apart

The president doesn’t pretend to represent all citizens—just his most hardcore supporters.

.. Trump has carved out for himself a uniquely agonistic and tribalistic persona. He’s polarizing, and proud of it.

.. To win the presidency, you first need to win the support of a major political party, which means having a partisan identity. But once in power, the commander in chief is supposed to preside over the whole nation, not just those who voted for him.

.. But Trump has decided to forgo any attempt at conciliation. Instead, he’s run a bluntly partisan presidency, where his rhetoric is geared toward pleasing fanatical Fox News viewers more than creating a broad coalition. It’s a peculiarity of Trump’s behavior that he talks openly about his base, not even pretending to be the president of all Americans.

..  “The ugly truth is that white nationalists, the KKK, neo-Nazis and other bigots are indeed part of the Trump base,” columnist Brent Budowsky argued at The Hill. “Trump should throw these bigots out of his base. He should say he does not want their support. He should name names and name hate groups, loudly and repeatedly, and say he does not want their votes, their support, their praise and that he believes they are a stain on America.”

.. Rather than heeding such advice, Trump is moving in the opposite direction—and paying a political price for it.

..  As the president is increasingly criticized from outside his base, he’ll increasingly use his passionate fans as a political shield. And as Charlottesville proves, if those fans end up killing someone, the president will defend them. Caught in the closed loop of fan-servicing, Trump is setting the nation on a path toward further radicalization and further violence.

Trump Follows Obama’s Example of Moral Equivalence

When five Dallas cops were murdered last year, the 44th president faulted police as well as the killer.

President Trump sees himself as the antithesis of President Obama, and that’s true in ways large and small. Both men, however, share a fondness for the identity politics that continue to poison U.S. race relations.

.. his initial reaction also evinced an Obama-like reluctance to denounce despicable behavior forcefully and in no uncertain terms.

  • When five policemen were gunned down in Dallas last year, Mr. Obama said there was no justification for violence against law enforcement—but then he added a comment about racial inequity in the criminal-justice system.
  • After violent demonstrators pillaged Baltimore in 2015 following the death of a black man in police custody, Mr. Obama dutifully condemned the rioters—but not without also noting that “we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.”

What we heard from Mr. Trump on Saturday, when he said “many sides” were to blame for what took place in Charlottesville, was more of the same equivocation.

Both presidents were less interested in moral clarity than in placating fringe groups out of political expediency. The difference is that Mr. Obama’s caucus mostly indulged his racial innuendo, while Mr. Trump’s called him on it. That’s why the president reluctantly issued a more forceful second statement on Monday.

.. When Mr. Trump took his time last year disavowing David Duke after the former Klan leader endorsed him for president, Mr. Bannon had yet to join the campaign. Perhaps Mr. Trump’s problem is not his staff.

.. Mr. Obama’s attempts to advance black interests through heightened group identity and us-against-them rhetoric didn’t help. He embraced openly antiwhite groups like Black Lives Matter and racially polarizing figures like Al Sharpton. The subsequent rise of the alt-right may be history repeating itself.

.. Maybe the president is convinced, like many of his liberal opponents, that the alt-right carried him to victory. His behavior so far certainly suggests at much.