And It’s Still Early On Monday

It is early Monday afternoon as I pen this but I’m already overwhelmed with material from earlier today and the last few days. There are a bunch of things I’d like to briefly explore; let’s see how many I can get to.

Over the last few hours North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows’ name has emerged as a leading candidate for the White House Chief-of-Staff position. Meadows is the leader of the House Freedom Caucus (a/k/a Tea Party). His district is heavily gerrymandered so there is a good chance the Republicans can retain the seat if Trump taps Meadows. This would give Trump someone even crazier than him at his right hand side and an ally in the Cabinet to shield him against the 25th Amendment.

As of late this morning the Dow had sunk about 500 points (or about 2%). I don’t pay a lot of attention to the stock market because I believe it is primarily a legal gambling casino for rich boys using other people’s money. However, how many of these 2% loss days can we have before it becomes a problem? History has taught us that when it does the working class will be the most adversely affected. Remember the Republicans brought us both the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

Monday the British Parliament called off Tuesday’s scheduled vote on the Brexit plan Prime Minister Theresa May’s government had negotiated. May is in an unenviable position. She was opposed to Brexit but took over the PM spot after the nation narrowly and surprisingly voted for it. In other words she was stuck with negotiating an agreement on something she knew was bad and had opposed. The “crazy uncle” wasn’t her fault but she had to eat holiday dinner with him. In the interim we found out that Cambridge Analytica (an outfit with extreme right wing American and Russian connections) was involved in the referendum. One of Putin’s goals is the dissolution of the European Union. Removing the UK from it certainly could be the beginning of its end. May is a conservative but not a radical right winger. Radical right wing governments have been on the rise in Europe and elsewhere often with Russia “assistance”. Putin cannot make Russia a great power by bringing it up; but the one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind.

Maria Butrina (that is how the news media is now spelling her name) is reported to be ready to plead guilty to attempting to influence the NRA for Russia. I have no idea how deep this will go but it doesn’t take a genius to start connecting some dots. The NRA spent way more money on the 2016 presidential campaign than any of its predecessors. Russia cannot legally donate money to an American campaign. If Russia gives money to an American group, (say the NRA), with an “understanding” and that politically active organization supports the Republican candidate it has the same net effect. It’s much like having American lobbyists pay bills at a Trump hotel with money from their Saudi clients. If you believed that Trump self-financed his 2016 campaign you need to get some milk and cookies out for Santa.

Last weekend a global climate change conference was held in Poland (another country that has taken a hard right toward autocracy). The United States (at Trump’s direction) joined Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia (at Putin’s direction) in rejecting the language in the final report which recognized the seriousness of the issue and proximity of the point of no return. I have no idea what motivated Kuwait, but Saudi Arabia is a major global real estate investor with many of their holdings in coastal areas. Admitting that sea level rise is real and serious would adversely affect the value of their portfolio. Again we are on the wrong side of history.

The background to this is that with the year 2018 not yet over we know global greenhouse gas emissions rose by nearly 3%. They had been flat between 2014 and 2016 with a 1.6% rise in 2017 (Trump’s first year).

Even for people like me who spend an inordinate amount of time following the political news it borders on impossible to keep up with all the Russiagate related revelations. This weekend the Washington Post published a “recap” article documenting at least 14 Trump associates who had known contact with the Russians during the campaign or transition. Russiagate is boiling down to a situation where Trump wants us to believe he is pure as driven snow but everyone around him is dirty. It’s like going into a guy’s house where the loot from a bank heist including marked bills is piled on his dining room table but believing he had nothing to do with the robbery. I guess Santa left the money where the cookies were.

Trump, while not very talented at it, has taken lying to a level never previously achieved in American politics. Trump has made such use of the zombie lie (one that simply will not die no matter how many times it is debunked) that Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, the nation’s pre-eminent fact checker, announced a new classification in Monday’s paper. It is called the bottomless Pinocchio. For decades the high water mark was four Pinocchios. That was reserved for flat out lies. Trump has made a practice of still repeating lies that have been rated four Pinocchios to the point of rendering that classification insufficient.

That’s enough writing for now. It’s time to get back to the internet, radio and television for more bad news.

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