Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie.
A few days ago, Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, urged America not to get too worked up about the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, because we shouldn’t endanger “$100 billion in arms sales.” I guess he was invoking the little-known 11th Commandment, which says, “On the other hand, thou shalt excuse stuff like killing and bearing false witness if weapons deals are at stake.”
O.K., it’s not news that the religious right has prostrated itself at Donald Trump’s feet. But Trump’s attempt to head off retaliation for Saudi crimes by claiming that there are big economic rewards to staying friendly with killers — and the willingness of his political allies to embrace his logic — nonetheless represents a new stage in the debasement of America.
It looks unlikely, then, that deals with Saudi Arabia will raise U.S. annual arms exports by more than a few billion dollars a year. When you bear in mind that the industries involved, mainly aerospace, are highly capital intensive and don’t employ many workers per dollar of sales, the number of U.S. jobs involved is surely in the tens of thousands, if that, not hundreds of thousands. That is, we’re talking about a rounding error in a U.S. labor market that employs almost 150 million workers.
Another way to look at Saudi arms sales is to notice how small the stakes are compared with other areas where Trump is casually disrupting business relations. He seems, for example, to be eager for a trade war with China, which imported $187 billion worth of U.S. goods and services last year.
.. Because the Federal Reserve believes that we’re at full employment, and any further strengthening of the economy will induce the Fed to raise interest rates. As a result, jobs added in one place by things like arms sales will be offset by jobs lost elsewhere as higher rates deter investment or make the U.S. less competitive by strengthening the dollar.
.. what we’re looking at here is another step in the debasement of our nation.
- Accepting torture and murder is a betrayal of American principles;
- trying to justify that betrayal by appealing to supposed economic benefits is a further betrayal.
And when you add in the fact that the claimed economic payoff is a lie, and that the president’s personal profit is a much more likely explanation for his actions — well, genuine patriots should be deeply ashamed of what we’ve come to as a nation.
Did I miss something when Trump said he was salivating at the chance to take health care away from 22 million Americans and the 87-year-old Robertson merely responded with his trademark chucklehead chuckle?
.. Robertson is not the most despicable of Trump’s enablers. For that, you’re probably thinking of Sean Hannity. No, it goes beyond the safe spaces in broadcasting. The most odious of those who are letting Trump drag America into the gutter include Vice President Mike Pence, the leaders in Congress and the pious shepherds of a white evangelical community that continues to give an awful man a pass for every awful thing he does.
.. Pence is the choirboy who leaves the room when the nasty boys take over, and then helps clean up later.
.. Pence has said he would never dine alone with a woman who is not his wife, which raises questions about how he would handle a diplomatic dinner with Angela Merkel.
.. Through every degrading statement, every Oval Office insult, every one of the more than 500 demonstrable lies told (so far) by this president, Pence has remained silent or defended the offender.And if the White House is blackmailed because the Kremlin has something even more damning on, say, Jared Kushner .. Pence will be further exposed as a gutless cipher... Another boy scout in hiding is House Speaker Paul Ryan. Golly gee, he just wants to cut taxes on the rich, destroy the health care system, and work on his abs and guns... Asked this week if he would ever have a meeting with a foreign power offering dirt on a political opponent, he said, “I’m not going to go into hypotheticals.”.. And the above question is anything but a hypothetical; the dim-bulbed Donald Trump Jr. presented it in writing... A true miracle would be for one of the enablers among the 81 percent of white evangelicals who gave their vote to Trump to follow their conscience, or at least the Scriptures they profess guide them.
Those who have long stoked the flames of populism should not be surprised by the results.
.. The American Right has become willfully disengaged from its fellow citizens thanks to a wonderful virtual-reality machine in which conservatives, both elite and grassroots, can believe anything they wish, no matter how at odds it is with reality
.. They can wake up in the morning and read email newsletters filled with nonsense from the likes of Dick Morris along with false promises of “secret cancer cures.” As they make their breakfast, they can flip through websites utterly devoid of reporting and data analysis predicting that Democrats are on the run and Hillary Clinton is sure to be indicted. During the work day, they can turn on the radio and listen to Christian nationalists like Bryan Fischer tell them how the Founding Fathers intended to provide religious freedom only to Christians.
.. Fischer and Trump are not alone in their desire to illegally target Muslims. Fischer’s preferred candidate, Ted Cruz, has proposed that law-enforcement officers conduct perpetual campaigns to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods in a sort of secret-police arrangement. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has repeatedly said that liberal Christians and Muslims do not deserve religious freedom as well. Anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney wants to bring back HUAC.
.. One of the most persistent right-wing claims against Trump has been that he is better described as a nationalist than a conservative. The accusation has no power against him, however, since he has freely admitted to it, knowing as he did that the majority of Republican voters and the nation as a whole have never been particularly interested in constitutional conservatism. The data points on this subject have been out there for years,
.. But usually, instead of arguing with him on the issues, #NeverTrumpers challenge him on process questions or criticize him because his supporters are on the fringe. Conservatives cannot support Trump, the argument goes, because some of his backers are outright racists.
.. The time to stop Trump was in the 1990s, when the movement’s intellectuals were busy prostrating themselves before Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as they sought to remake the GOP into a party for white Christians.
.. The time to stop Trump was in 2009, when Sarah Palin was dumbing down conservatism into an alternative lifestyle that glorified anti-intellectualism. The time to stop Donald Trump was in 2013, when Ted Cruz was opportunistically telling Republican voters that obstreperousness was the equivalent of conservative philosophy.