The iPINIONS Journal


  • Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 8:58 AM

    Macron: Mes amis, did you not hear, I cried uncle last week…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Thousands of [Yellow Vest] protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron’s government. …

    The government, as well as several unions and opposition politicians called on protesters to stay off the streets on Saturday, after four people were killed in a gun attack at a Christmas market in the historic city of Strasbourg [on Tuesday].

    (Reuters, December 15, 2018)

    Macron must have dearly hoped his performance this week had won him a reprieve – not just from the protests but also from the clarion calls for him to resign. After all,

    • On Monday, he was Petainian as he surrendered to the protesters, conceding to what he surely thought were all of their demands.
    • On Tuesday, he was Churchillian as he presided over the hunt for the Strasbourg terrorist. French police cornered and killed him on Thursday.
    • On Friday, he was Clintonian as he consoled his grieving nation in the wake of this latest terrorist attack.

    Yet, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose …

    Despite the concessions by the government, the protesters said Mr. Macron had not done enough to assuage their concerns.

    ‘We are exhausted by the colossal pressure of taxation that takes away the energy of our country, of our entrepreneurs, of our artisans, of our small businesses, of our creators and of our workers, while a small elite constantly dodges taxes,’ Priscillia Ludosky, best known for a petition calling for a drop in gas prices, said in front of the Paris Opera house in Paris.

    (The New York Times, December 15, 2018)

    In my original commentary on these Yellow Vest protests, I warned it would be thus. Frankly, Macron should beware that irremediable grievances like these caused Britain’s King George III to lose the American colonies and, even worse, France’s King Louis XVI to lose his head.

    Related commentaries:
    yellow vest protests

  • Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 8:43 AM

    ‘Bread isn’t the baddie it’s made out to be’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I can personally attest to this. Because I was in the best shape of my life 25 years ago. And I was eating bagels back then they way yogis drink smoothies today.

    But I got on the low-carb bandwagon about 15 years ago. That’s when I began following the Atkins Diet like a newfangled religion that decreed eating bread a mortal sin.

    Since then, I’ve been exercising more and eating less than I did 25 years ago. Yet I am 20 pounds heavier today. And don’t talk to me about metabolism waning over the years. Because all Atkins-style diets are so constipating, I began taking metabolism-boosting supplements I never even knew existed.

    That brings me to the latest research on the health benefits of whole-grain bread. And, trust me folks, it’s even better and more reliable news than research affirming the health benefits of red wine:

    Asked if bread should be considered a ‘junk’ food, [Dagfinn Aune, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London] says the opposite is true. ‘Whole-grain breads are healthy, and a high intake of whole grains is associated with a large range of health benefits,’ he says.

    (Quartz, December 8, 2018)

    Mind you, I remember when a baked potato rivaled broccoli as a health food. Presumably, that’s because millions of people were getting ripped and strong eating lots of potatoes.

    In any event, given this latest evidence, denying the health benefits of bread is rather like denying the environmental ravages of climate change.

    Not to mention that no less an authority than the Bible decreed that bread and water are the staff of life. Which is why I hereby rebuke Atkins and his spawn of ketogenic false prophets in the name of God.

    As for me and my health, I shall resume daily consumption of bread (with my 6-8 glasses of water). But I doubt I’ll eat as much as the 7.5 slices scientists say is linked with “optimal” health outcomes.

    Got bread? It’s good for you.

  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 7:24 AM

    Migrants Prove Ain’t No Wall High Enough to Keep ‘Them’ from Getting to US

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    No doubt you recall President Trump talking tough about stopping anyone from that migrant caravan from ever setting foot on US soil. He even made a show of ordering the military to reinforce border guards, telegraphing his intent to keep them out by any means necessary:

    Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018

    Well, like so many of his presidential initiatives, this one makes about as much sense as thinking a clenched fist can stop quicksilver from trickling out. Which explains this:

    A steady trickle of Central American migrants have been finding ways to climb over, tunnel under or slip through the U.S. border wall to plant their feet on U.S. soil and ask for asylum.

    In twos or threes — occasionally by the dozen — they arrive at the border wall and manage to get over. Often within minutes, border officers quickly arrive to escort them to detention centers and begin “credible fear” interviews.

    (The Associated Press, December 10, 2018)

    And, once in, even Trump knows most of them will be able to prove “credible fear” — even using his words to do so. After all, nobody has spoken more apocalyptically about the gang and narco violence that plagues most of Central America. Frankly, for these migrants, it would seem like a sanctuary to settle in the worst parts of America’s most violent cities.

    Meanwhile, there was a red elephant in the Oval Office yesterday, during an Apprentice-style meeting between Trump, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

    That dumbo was the failure of any of them to mention Trump’s most notorious campaign promise to not just build a wall to keep migrants out but get Mexico to pay for it. This, despite their 17-minute bickering over funding for his wall, which Trump ensured was televised for all the world to see.

    For the record, The Washington Post reports that, as of yesterday, he had reiterated this promise over 190 times since launching his presidential campaign.

    Of course, it’s understandable that Trump never mentioned this. After all, he’s all about the bait and switch. In this case, despite that promise, he’s now trying to get US taxpayers to pay. And he’s so accustomed to getting his way, he is even threatening to shut down the US government to extort payment.

    What is not understandable is that neither Pelosi nor Schumer bothered to remind Trump that he promised millions of baying supporters that Mexico would pay; that they all believed him with religious conviction; and that he’s now breaking his promise.

    But kudos to the new Mexican government for picking up their slack. Because it seized this farcical meeting to reiterate its now-famous insistence that “Mexico will NEVER pay” for any wall.

    In any event, here’s what I warned in “DACA: Ain’t No Wall High Enough to Keep ‘Them’ from Getting to US,” September 16, 2017:

    Ain’t no wall high enough
    Ain’t no desert dry enough
    Ain’t no river wide enough
    To keep them from getting to US.

    Bienvenidos compadres!

    Related commentaries:
    Caravan
    bait and switch
    DACA

  • Monday, December 10, 2018 at 8:04 AM

    Who Expected Trump to Believe His Climate Scientists…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    After all, this arrogant fool didn’t even believe his intelligence agents.

    No doubt you recall how President Trump dismissed their findings that Russia launched cyberattacks to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. In fact, during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he shocked the world by insisting that he found Putin’s denial more credible.

    Well, now comes this regarding the unfolding dangers of climate change:

    President Donald Trump dismissed U.S. government scientists’ predictions that climate change will impose devastating economic costs.

    ‘I don’t believe it,’ Trump told reporters Monday on the White House lawn, when asked about the grim forecast in the government’s National Climate Assessment. ‘Right now, we’re the cleanest we’ve ever been.’

    (Bloomberg, November 26, 2018)

    Even worse, Trump attempted to justify dismissing their predictions with this imbecilic tweet:

    Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2018

    How stupid is Trump? His brain is like a wooden stump. Which explains this self-proclaimed genius famously claiming that

    I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.

    (CNN, November 27, 2018)

    Oy Vey!

    Related commentaries:
    Trump vs intelligence
    Trump rejects intelligence
    Earth Day
    California burning new normal
    Wildfires rivaling hurricanes

  • Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 10:12 AM

    Why eating salads is no guarantee of longevity…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    So go ahead, dig into that steak.

  • Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 8:18 AM

    Trump’s tweets about Mueller failing as reliable as his tweets about market soaring

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 8:26 AM

    The ‘Yellow Vests’: Paris Is Burning … Again

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    For years now, protesters have been setting The City of Lights ablaze nearly as often as campers have been setting The Golden State ablaze. Except that the grievances that invariably ignite the former are far more relatable than the carelessness that invariably cause the latter.

    I first commented on those grievances in “World Beware: French Riots Affect Us All,” November 8, 2005. Muslims of African descent ignited the fire that time, aggrieved by chronic unemployment, discrimination, alienation, and marginalization – each of which remains a cultural spark plug. This quote from that commentary provides a little perspective:

    Just as young blacks in America fought [during the 1960s] against the virulent racism their parents tolerated, young Muslims in France are fighting [today] against the caste-like presumption that they will provide the cheap labor their parents provided.

    Back then, Jacques Chirac was president and Nicolas Sarkozy his interior minister responsible for law and order. But I noted that leaders of the Republic invariably seem imbued with the presumptions and prerogatives of France’s ancien régime, which continually misguide them in these matters.

    This caused Chirac and Sarkozy to show the kind of arrogant indifference (or quizzical insouciance) towards these grievances that King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette showed towards those of the overtaxed paupers who eventually ignited the French Revolution.

    To paraphrase General Charles de Gaulle, the French may know 365 ways to make cheese, but their leaders know only one way to make laws; that is, with the paternalism and condescension inherent in the concept of noblese oblige.

    Which brings me to to President Emmanuel Macron and those who ignited the fire this time:

    Macron has today caved in and suspended hated fuel tax hikes in a victory for the Yellow Vest protesters.

    In a humiliating U-turn, the government said it was planning to freeze upcoming increases on regulated electricity and gas prices following emergency talks at the Elysee Palace.

    Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told MPs that stricter vehicle emission controls set to kick in in January 2019 will also be suspended – one of the demands of the movement which erupted last month.

    (The Daily Mail, December 4, 2018)

    I suspect few of these protesters are Muslims of African descent. But their grievances are very similar. They are protesting the caste-like presumption that they will endure any burden political elites impose on them … for the general welfare. Only that presumption explains Macron thinking that working-class Frenchmen would blithely pay the lion’s share of the country’s carbon tax so France can lead the global fight against climate change.

    Initially backed by people in small towns and rural France where most get around by car, the protests snowballed into a wider movement against Macron’s perceived bias in favour of the elite and well-off city dwellers. …

    Analysts say most of those joining the ranks of the ‘yellow vests’ are [predominantly white] workers on lower middle incomes who say they barely scrape by and get scant public services in exchange for some of the highest tax bills in Europe.

    (Aljazeera, December 4, 2018)

    Inequities and iniquities characterize the fight against climate change. And I’ve been decrying them in this forum for nearly 15 years. My abiding complaint is that the carbon footprints the rich leave for business and pleasure dwarf those the poor leave for food and heat. Yet rich folks are continually lecturing poor folks about their use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

    Macron would have been well-advised to tax luxury items like second homes, private jets, yachts, expensive cars, jewelry, and even champagne and foie gras. This, instead of attempting to fund his climate-change initiatives by taxing basic necessities like fuel and electricity, which burden the poor so disproportionately.

    I’ve written far too many commentaries on this topic to count. Unfortunately, they’ve done little more than lump me together with the ‘heretics’ trying to temper increasing alarms about climate change with calming facts about environmental protection and conservation.

    Therefore, on behalf of all proud heretics in this respect, let me hasten to clarify that, while acknowledging climate change as a fact but hardly an existential threat, we plead that there are many “Global Priorities Bigger than Climate Change” – as the critically acclaimed Danish environmentalist, Professor Bjorn Lomborg, proffered in his now seminal TED talk in 2005.

    (“March to Save the Planet? Get Real!” The iPINIONS Journal, September 23, 2014)

    Those global priorities include preventing diseases, alleviating poverty, and fighting corruption (everywhere), which is the root cause of so many ills. To be fair, France is not the only rich nation attempting to fight climate change at the expense of its poor citizens. I refer you in this regard to such commentaries as “Pioneer Climatologist Calls Paris Climate Deal ‘Bullsh*t’,” December 15, 2015.

    But the following gives a sense of the political fight within this environmental one:

    President Xi Jinping is straddling divisions between rich and poor nations, which reared their heads in Kyoto (1997), bedeviled attempts to set new goals in Copenhagen (2009), and seem likely to do the same in Paris. This, even with toxic smog (from smokestacks of coal-burning power plants) descending like fog almost daily over his mainland.

    As always, those divisions revolve around poor nations demanding ‘climate justice,’ which would require rich nations to bear the cost of the carbon emissions poor nations believe will be the unavoidable by-product of their ongoing development.

    (“Paris Talks on Climate Change to Avert an Apocalypse? Hardly…,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 2, 2015)

    For the record, I remain convinced that the most feasible and sensible way to fight climate change is for all countries to adopt the rainbow of environmental legislation the US implemented in the early 1970s. I duly hail those laws every year in my “Earth Day” commentary.

    That said, apropos of the grievances of the Yellow Vests being so relatable, this variation on Martin Niemöller’s famous admonition comes to mind:

    First they exploited the paupers, and I did not speak out –

    Because I was not a pauper.

    Then they exploited the blacks, and I did not speak out –

    Because I was not a black.

    Then they exploited the migrants, and I did not speak out –

    Because I was not a migrant.

    Then they exploited me, and now I see –

    Because I have more in common with the paupers, the blacks, and the migrants

    Than with the ruling elites – who have exploited us all.

    Here’s to whites “on lower middle incomes” in America seeing the light. Because President Trump clearly thinks they would blithely forfeit healthcare and pay higher taxes so he can fulfill his promise to “Make America Great Again” (a.k.a. make the rich richer).

    But I’m not holding my breath; after all, they are willfully accepting so much exploitation, they seem hell-bent on proving his boast that, for them, he can do no wrong. I digress …

    The point is that I welcome this humiliation of the elitist Macron. Unfortunately, it took death and destruction. Reports are that three people have been killed, 260 injured, and too many cars burned, windows shattered, buildings vandalized, and monuments defaced to count.

    Incidentally, I wonder if the irony was completely lost on protesters in yellow vests as they caused this death and destruction. Because the reason their vests are so common and accessible is that all French motorists are required to keep these “safety garments” in their vehicles … to wear if they run into trouble.

    But I fully appreciate that the storming of the Arc de Triumph this time was like a rowdy picnic compared to The Storming of the Bastille. Of course, the latter set the precedent the Yellow Vests are following today, namely, protesting the exploitation of the poor and demanding change in unfair government policies. And no less a democrat than Thomas Jefferson would hail this as their right, their duty.

    Finally, if Macron thinks merely postponing his carbon taxes for six months will end the protests, he’s in for a rude awakening. Not least because, given how Yellow Vest protesters got him to cave in on taxes, other aggrieved citizens will think similar protests could get him to cave in on their grievances too.

    Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

    Related commentaries:
    world beware
    March to save planet
    Paris climate deal
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  • Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 4:21 PM

    George H.W. Bush, Most Accomplished One-Term President, Is Dead

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    George Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd … steered the nation through a tumultuous period in world affairs. …

    [He] was a skilled bureaucratic and diplomatic player who, as president, helped end four decades of Cold War and the threat of nuclear engagement with a nuanced handling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe. …

    He liked to frame his public service as an answer to the call to duty, like the one that had sent him over the Pacific and into enemy fire as a 20-year-old.

    (The New York Times, November 30, 2018)

    Social norms constrain us to say only positive things about people when they die. Nothing demonstrates this quite like even the mean-spirited President Trump eulogizing Bush:

    President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2018

    Except that Bush might be the only politician in modern times who lived a life that makes every praise he receives in death entirely warranted. All the same, I am obliged to reiterate that

    The last thing I wanted when I began commenting on the deaths of famous people four years ago was to contribute to our culture’s perverse fascination with celebrities. In fact, I only began commenting on them as a lark to propagate the superstition that the deaths of famous people come in threes.

    Therefore, with sincere apologies, I hereby declare that henceforth I shall comment only on the deaths of famous people who have made pioneering or extraordinary contributions to mankind.

    (“Post Mortem on Deaths of Famous People Commentaries,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 4, 2010)

    As it happens, Bush’s contributions were neither pioneering nor extraordinary. What’s more, social norms notwithstanding, I cannot forgive him for the racial tokenism inherent in nominating Clarence Thomas to fill the huge seat Thurgood Marshall’s death left open on the Supreme Court. Thomas, after all, was/is an intellectual and political lackey, to say nothing of his infamy as the godfather of MeToo sexual predators. Nor can I forgive him for the patently racist Willie Horton ad he ran against liberal Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign.

    In any event, I highly recommend Adam Nagourney’s exhaustive obituary in The New York Times. But I’d be remiss not to at least hail Bush’s commendable character and commitment to public service.

    The then president Barack Obama campaigned tirelessly for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. During his stump speeches, he invariably declared that she was more qualified to be president than any man in recent US history. It speaks volumes about the willful ignorance of the American electorate that, instead of her, they elected Trump, the least qualified man in all US history. But I digress …

    The point is that George H.W. was a notable exception to Obama’s declaration, having apprenticed as a navy combat pilot, businessman, congressman, ambassador to the UN, special envoy to China, chairman of the National Republican Committee, director of the CIA, and vice president before being elected president in 1988. Topping it all off, he had the character to show strength and courage in the face of war (e.g., The Gulf War) and kindness and grace in the glow of victory (e.g., The Cold War). Yet, apropos of the willful ignorance of the American people, they kicked him out after just one term.

    Beyond this, Bush’s “legacy thing” might be defined more by two fateful things he said than the many commendable things he did:

    1. Read my lips: No new taxes!” He said this at the 1988 Republican National Convention. It doomed his reelection prospects when a critical budget compromise forced him to raise new taxes, thereby sacrificing personal ambition for the general welfare. (I dare you to name one politician who would do the same today?)
    2. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait!” He said this during a press conference on August 5, 1990. This, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering the aforementioned Gulf War.

    Of course, all of that stands in damning contrast to the puerility, venality, and cupidity of the draft-dodging, pussy-grabbing, truth-defying current president of the United States. Which is why so many of us are feeling especially wistful today.

    Hell, the cowardly lion now serving as commander in chief is too afraid to even visit US troops in war zones – as all of his immediate predecessors did, repeatedly. Yet Bush had so much courage, he was still skydiving at 90.

    Not to mention that he had more common decency in his little pinky than Trump has in his whole body. Simply put, he was everything we all wish Trump could be as president.

    This compels me to reiterate the following with respect to Bush’s pending funeral:

    Trump seems determined to be the first to alienate his predecessors so much that they all shun him like the plague. Mind you, it would probably suit the congenitally insecure Trump well to complete his entire term without even a phone call, let alone personal contact, with any of them. His tweets give the impression that anything Obama related is like kryptonite to his presidency.

    (“Trump’s First Year Ends with Government Shutdown,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 20, 2018)

    Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the Bush family navigates Trump’s command attendance and participation. After all, this idiot tweeted just days ago that Obama and Hillary should be arrested and tried for treason. True to form, he offered no facts to support his tweet and showed no compunction about calling for them to be executed – the punishment for treason.

    Closer to home, I suspect the rhetorical wounds he inflicted on Jeb, George W., and George H.W. during the 2016 presidential campaign are still fresh in the minds of every member of their family. I could find nothing on record, but it would not surprise me if Trump did not even spare family matriarch Barbara his Beavis-and-Butt-Head snark.

    In fact, it’s an indication of their abiding disgust that Trump was the only former president who did not attend the de facto state funeral for Barbara last April. And only the McCain family’s abiding disgust explains him being the only one who did not attend the de facto state funeral for Senator John McCain last August.

    But presidential protocol is such that the Bush family will be obliged to invite Trump, and he will be even more obliged to attend next week’s state funeral for George H.W. The occasion will mark the first time President Trump will come face to face with his predecessors. And anyone who knows anything about the enmity he has incited in all of them knows that his presence there will be as appreciated as that of a skunk at a garden party.

    Lucky for him, though, all of his predecessors will avoid holding their noses as they interact with him. Indeed, each of them has already shown Trump far more grace than he seems even capable of showing. Still, with all due respect to Bush, watching this presidential dynamic play out will be my only reason for tuning in to his funeral.

    Bush died from complications of Parkinson’s disease on Friday at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 94.

    Farewell, George H.W.

    Related commentaries:
    post mortem
    Clarence Thomas
    John McCain

  • Friday, November 30, 2018 at 8:57 AM

    G20 Argentina: Forget the Tango between Trump and Xi and Putin…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    The real story is the way Argentina greeted President Trump upon his arrival at this annual Kabuki dance.

    After all, here is what Trump said when China denied Obama the red-carpet treatment upon his arrival at the G20 summit in 2016:

    You see that? They have pictures of other leaders who are … coming down with a beautiful red carpet. And Obama is coming down a metal staircase. …

    I’ve got to tell you, if that were me, I would say, ‘You know what, folks, I respect you a lot but close the doors, let’s get out of here.’ It’s a sign of such disrespect.

    (The Washington Post, September 5, 2016)

    How ironic, if not telling, then that Argentina treated Trump much as China treated Obama. So did he order attendants on Air Force One to close the doors to get out of there? No! Instead, like all bullies who get punched in the face, Trump marched into this snub like the proverbial emperor marching with no clothes on.

    Frankly, it was bad enough that the high-level delegation that greeted Chinese President Xi Jinping was not there to greet him. But Argentina compounded that insult by not even having the military band and red carpet there to hail Trump’s arrival the way they hailed Xi’s. Not least because everybody now knows how much Trump loves military and regal pageantry.

    Pictures juxtaposing their arrival speak volumes about how – in just two years – world leaders have gone from treating Trump like a laughingstock behind his back to treating him like a lame duck to his face. Only this explains the “logistics flub” that had Argentina treating this putative leader of the free world like a tinpot dictator from a banana republic.

    No doubt they are all emboldened by the legal noose Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is tightening around Trump’s neck, making him, in effect, a dead president walking.

    As it happens, I presaged Trump’s isolation and humiliation on the world stage in “G20 Hamburg: Much Ado About Nothing,” July 7, 2017, and “G20 Hamburg: Trump Clueless, Friendless, and Feckless (and those friggin’ Trump kids!),” July 12, 2017.

    Incidentally, apropos of Mueller, Trump is making much ado about canceling a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s claiming that this is punishment for Russia seizing Ukrainian ships in international waters earlier this week.

    But everyone knows that such a meeting would appear too incriminating even from Trump. Because his former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted in court just yesterday that he lied repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign to cover for Trump’s ongoing solicitations of Putin to do business in Russia. This, while Russia was executing cyberattacks to help him win that election.

    Equally noteworthy, even if less newsworthy, is the fact that he also canceled a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). But here too he had little choice.

    After all, even Republicans are venting incredulous outrage at his incriminating willingness to believe the word of yet another autocrat over the findings of his own intelligence agencies. In this case, Trump refused to accept the CIA’s finding that MbS ordered the assassination of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

    This moved Republicans to join Democrats in voting to rebuke him in unprecedented fashion yesterday:

    The US Senate has advanced a measure to withdraw American support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, in a blow to President Donald Trump. …

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had urged senators not to back the motion, saying it would worsen the situation in Yemen.

    (BBC, November 28, 2018)

    Meanwhile, thusly snubbed, Putin and MbS consoled each other by schmoozing openly – complete with high fives like sports teammates celebrating an improbable victory. Hell, you’d think they flew all the way to Argentina just to bond as “blood brothers” with a penchant for invading neighboring countries and ordering extraterritorial hits.

    But they were clearly trying to show the world that, far from snubbing them, Trump was shamefacedly avoiding them. Indeed, no less a person than New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez tweeted that Putin and MbS were conveying

    That feeling when you own the president of the United States and can do whatever you want.

    Actually, the picture of their blood-curdling camaraderie is all the more telling for the lurking image of Trump’s scowling face in the background.

    In truth, though, it appears Xi is the only leader not snubbing or being snubbed. For example, there’s also the tango afoot between Theresa May of England, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Angela Merkel of Germany over Brexit. Which is why this Chinese president can fairly claim that he has finally supplanted the American president as not just the most influential but also the most respected leader in the world.

    Related commentaries:
    G20 much ado
    G20 Trump clueless
    Putin assassinations
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  • Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    In Observance of Veterans Day

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    A colleague astonished me yesterday when she asked, “What’s the deal with that red flower?” Specifically, she wanted to know why Prince William, Kate Middleton, and so many other Brits are wearing a poppy on their lapels these days.

    For me, though, this was rather like a colleague asking, “What’s the deal with that pink ribbon?” You know, the one people wear throughout the month of October.

    For the edification of those of you who have no clue, people wear the poppy from late October to early November (primarily) to remember those who died in WWI. The peace treaty to end this war was reportedly signed at 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

    That’s why 11:11 is generally observed as Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day). [This year’s remembrance is especially noteworthy because it marks the 100th anniversary of the ending of that “Great War.”]

    poppies-toewer-of-london-1In recent times, however, Remembrance Day has been designated (secondarily) as a day to remember the dead from all wars, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    [Naturally, we thank all veterans for their service. But, on this centenary, the blacks who fought so heroically during World War I deserve honorable mention. Because nothing could have been more humbling and humiliating than fighting in Europe to “make the world safe for democracy,” only to return to find that America was still neither safe nor democratic … for black folks.]

    That said, the heroic poem “In Flanders Fields” was inspired by the death of one soldier during WWI. But it has evolved over the years into an elegy on all war dead. My primary school teacher taught me to recite it with the same reverence with which my Sunday school teacher taught me to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”

    No doubt the cultural presumption this imbued explains my astonishment at my colleague’s ignorance. Never mind that I now struggle to recite both, which probably reveals as much about my encroaching senility as it does my evolving apostasy.

    IN FLANDERS FIELDS

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place: and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe;
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high,
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    (John McCrae, 1915)

    NOTE: This commentary was originally published on 11:11:11. I’ve been reprising it ever since not only to honor all war dead, but also to commend the UK for its awe-inspiring tributes. They always serve as a poignant reminder of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” that characterized both world wars.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    Democrats Take House. Republicans Hold Senate. Not Quite the ‘Restoration’ Hoped For…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    But this is enough to ensure Trump will finally learn that his lies, high crimes and misdemeanors have consequences. #Subpoena!

    That said, there’s no denying the disappointment that so many high-profile, anti-Trump Democrats lost to Trump-hugging Republicans. Those Democrats include Andrew Gillum for governor in Florida, Stacey Abrams for governor in Georgia, Claire McCaskill for Senate in Missouri, and Beto O’Rourke for Senate in Texas. No doubt Trump will hail these results as evidence that his brand of divide-and-conquer politics is still hot. Never mind that winter is coming for him …

    Related commentaries:
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  • Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 9:03 AM

    US Midterm Elections: It’s All About Getting Out the VOTE…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    So forget all the annoying ads, campaign rallies, and political bitching. Time’s Up!

    I have never used this forum to tell people to vote, let alone how to. But I never want to experience the feeling I had the morning after the 2016 presidential election ever again.

    It was an utterly gutted feeling of anomie, which compelled me to write “WTF! President-Elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” November 9, 2016. But a profound feeling of regret soon replaced that. I suspect this was so not only because I took Hillary’ victory for granted but also because I did so little to ensure it.

    That’s why I’ve been doing all I can in the real world this time to get people to vote – and to vote early! It is also why I am using this forum for the first time to urge any reader who is eligible to get to the polls on Tuesday.

    You need only know that, if only a few people in a few key states had bothered to vote in 2016, we would have been spared the black-swan political nightmare that has been the Trump presidency.

    So get out and vote if you want politicians who will

    • Advance gender equality — like granting pay equity, preserving abortion rights, and supporting the MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
    • Ensure that healthcare is a right for all, not just a privilege for a few.
    • Inspire hope not incite fear (or use gerrymandering and Jim Crow-style voter suppression to hold onto power).
    • Notify the world that America is still the greatest bastion and defender of democratic values; and that it is still that shining city on a hill for refugees yearning to breathe free (i.e., not a tent city built for their internment and deportation).
    • Oppose all efforts (foreign and domestic) to foment divisions between Republicans and Democrats, which could have their politics ape that which have Sunnis and Shiites still waging a 1000-year schism.
    • Oppose the NRA and outlaw the assault weapons that have turned this country into a veritable war zone.
    • Reclaim the character of this nation — so that truth and facts still matter.
    • Reestablish the political, economic, and military alliances that gave rise after WWII to an unprecedented period of global peace and prosperity Support the global effort to fight climate change.
    • Tame and check the dictatorial predilections of President Donald J. Trump.
    • Treat LGBTQ Americans like heterosexual Americans … in every respect.

    For added effect, I arranged the first letter of those bullet points to spell out RESTORATION.

    But this should not diminish the importance of other issues related to things like race relations, Medicare, and drug (opioid) addiction. And I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Therefore, I shall end by respectfully submitting that you should want all of these things. But even if you want only one of them, you’d be well-advised to simply vote Democrat!

    Related commentaries:
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  • Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    Trump Promised a Beautiful Wall. But…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    He’s delivering an ugly barbed-wire fence. Oh, and Mexico still ain’t payin’!

    As three separate migrant caravans slowly made their way north through Mexico on Saturday, newly arrived US troops worked to lay a barbed-wire fence along the Texas side of the Rio Grande. …

    ‘I saw that beautiful barbed wire going up,’ Trump said at a Saturday campaign rally in Montana. ‘Beautiful sight.’

    (New York Post, November 2, 2018)

    Except that he’s selling this bait-and-switch to the same suckers who he boasted would support him even if he shot someone on 5th Avenue in broad daylight. And, if you saw any of his rallies last week, you know those Trumpletons are buying it hook, line, and sinker.

    Related commentaries:
    caravan
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  • Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 8:05 AM

    Political Amber Alert…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    (c) 2018 Chan Lowe

  • Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 7:49 AM

    Migrant Caravan Has Mattis Abandoning Military Principles for Trumpian Politics

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    An infectious feature of Trump’s presidency is the willingness of so many to abandon professional and personal principles to serve his amoral and often helter-skelter political agenda.

    Two of his Jewish advisers, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, demonstrated this in spades. No doubt you recall the moment Trump informed the world that there were “very fine people” among the Neo-Nazis who marched through Charlottesville last year shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

    What you may not recall is that Cohn and Mnuchin were standing right there beside him … like Jewish Eunuchs.

    But, so as to not pick on Jews, I can also indict one of his Christian advisers, National Security Adviser John Bolton. Because he’s on record damning Russian President Vladimir Putin as the anti-Christ just days before Trump hired him. Now he’s breaking bread with Putin in Moscow – as if he is Putin’s most-favored disciple … after Trump.

    Such profiles in self-abnegating cowardice define Trump’s presidency. In fact, the Republican Party has abandoned practically all core principles (like fiscal responsibility, family values, and the rule of law) to serve at his pleasure. This is why it’s laughable to continue hailing it as the party of Ronald Reagan, let alone of Abraham Lincoln.

    Reagan often quipped that “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” Well, many are saying the same about the Republican Party these days. Acclaimed columnist Max Boot even chronicled his disaffection in the best-selling book The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right.

    Some Republicans used to reason that non-political members of the administration would serve as an antidote to this political apostasy. Most notably, they cited the triumvirate of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, FBI Director James Comey, and Defense Secretary James Mattis as the bulwark in this respect.

    But McMaster and Comey proved so resistant to this infection that Trump fired them. Which brings me to Mattis. Because his willingness to salute and execute Trump’s order to deploy troops to the US-Mexico border should dash all hopes in this last man standing.

    The White House’s decision to send more than 5,200 active-duty troops to the border with Mexico a week before the midterm elections has put the American military and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis squarely in the political crosshairs. …

    ‘This is a craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, and a cynical capitulation by a secretary of defense who has prided himself on improving the readiness, focus, and lethality of the U.S. armed forces and who was once known as a no-nonsense warfighter,’ [wrote] Kelly Magsamen, a former top Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

    (The Washington Post, October 30, 2018)

    In fact, the Pentagon is deploying more troops to the border to fight hapless migrants than it has deployed in Afghanistan and Syria to fight ISIS terrorists. Never mind that the former is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from enforcing domestic laws, including immigration laws.

    Of course, if Mattis mentioned that act, Trump would probably think this general was trying to bond over the kind of “locker room” talk we all heard on that infamous Access Hollywood tape …

    In any event, it’s hardly surprising that a notorious draft dodger like Trump would have no compunction about using military soldiers like political pawns. But you’d think Mattis would have prevailed upon him to see and avoid this manifest absurdity – if only to maintain the institutional integrity of the US military and show a little respect for the federal budget. Failing that, you’d think he would resign on principle.

    Instead, this Pentagon paragon is blithely helping Trump undermine confidence in and respect for the military, just as craven Republicans have willfully helped him do with the FBI and virtually every other democratic institution.

    Incidentally, it’s bad enough that the US military has been fighting unwinnable wars in the Middle East for the past 17 years. But Mattis is setting it up for unprecedented fecklessness with this “Operation Distraction.” Because he knows full well that soldiers will be constitutionally prohibited from laying a hand on any migrant, let alone forcibly arresting and detaining thousands of them.

    But nobody should be surprised that Mattis regards his duty to serve as absolute, making him robotically obedient. After all, despite signaling principled misgivings, he has been faithfully executing Trump’s illegal order to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military in any capacity.

    Three federal judges hearing separate cases issued injunctions against the ban last fall that cleared the way — in theory at least — for transgender recruits to start enlisting on Jan. 1.

    Since then, scores have applied — but it appears almost none are being accepted.

    (The New York Times, July 5, 2018)

    Frankly, in so many ways, Trump is misleading the country into the kind of shithole where he famously claimed banana republics wallow. Yet the only Republicans who have been willing to raise any alarm are those (like Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Jeff Flake) who have declared their intent to resign.

    Sadly, it takes having no political skin to lose for Republican leaders to show the kind of profiles in courage their predecessors showed. The latter not only condemned Richard Nixon’s amoral and often helter-skelter agenda but forced him to resign to boot.

    Related commentaries:
    migrant caravan must be stopped
    McMaster
    Trump draft dodger
    Kelly and Republicans Trump minions
    Access Hollywood
    unwinnable wars

  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 7:17 AM

    Happy Halloween!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 10:24 AM

    ‘Trump Radicalized More People than ISIS’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Julia Ioffe apologized immediately for that unfair jibe. But only willful amnesia can explain anyone not remembering that Trump has made many jibes that were far more unfair. And he has yet to apologize for any of them.

    Donald Trump has deemed a journalist for GQ Magazine a ‘sick woman’ after she made a comment that the president has ‘radicalized more people than ISIS’ while appearing on a CNN panel. …

    After walking back her comments on air, Ioffe reiterated her apology on Twitter, saying: ‘This has been a very emotional and painful time, but I absolutely should not have gone with such hyperbole on the air. I apologize.’

    (Daily Mail, October 30, 2018)

    I happened to be watching CNN when Ioffe made her comments. But what struck me most was the way the panel’s token trumpleton could barely contain his outrage. I knew then that FOX News and Trump would be chomping at the bit to use her comments to deflect from his far more outrageous comments, which include this sick jibe:

    In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. He’s the founder of ISIS. …. He founded ISIS.

    (The New York Times, August 10, 2016)

    I was disappointed that nobody on the panel had the presence of mind to raise this wholly warranted, “what-about” reminder. After all, it’s beyond hypocritical for anyone to criticize Ioffe for accusing Trump of radicalizing more people than ISIS while failing to condemn Trump for accusing Obama of founding ISIS. #Projection!

    In other words, if Ioffe is a sick woman, what does that make Trump? This is rather like the skunk accusing the rose of stinking up the garden, no?

    Incidentally, only projection explains Trump now calling Andrew Gillum, the black candidate for governor of Florida, a thief. Well, the reflexive racism that informs so much of what he says about black folks might have something to do with this name calling too.

    Related commentaries:
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  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 7:34 AM

    Hamilton Clinches Title as Greatest F1 Driver of His Generation

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Lewis Hamilton is not as popular in the United States as LeBron James, Tom Brady, Bryce Harper, or even Alexander Ovechkin … yet. But he is more popular in nearly every other country than all of them. Keep this perspective in mind whenever you hear his name.

    Meanwhile, thanks to Hamilton’s charismatic dominance, Formula One racing is beginning to rival the popularity of other car-racing sports like NASCAR and IndyCar. If that seems farfetched, recall how boring Golf was before Tiger Woods’s charismatic dominance made it must-see TV.

    As it happened, I predicted a decade ago that Lewis would become the Tiger of his sport. And nobody can deny that he vindicated my prediction on Sunday.

    Hamilton went into Sunday’s [Mexican Grand Prix] needing just five points (in other words, a seventh-place or better finish) to clinch the title.

    Hamilton joins very elite company of [just two] five-time winners — Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, ‘54, ‘55, ‘56, and ‘57) and Michael Schumacher, who has seven, (1994, ‘95, 2000, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, and ‘04).

    (SBNation, October 28, 2018)

    But I was still disappointed that he backed into this fifth championship – much as he backed into his first, namely by earning enough points to clinch the title but failing to win this race outright.

    It’s bad enough that his fourth place on Sunday left him off the podium. But he blew a golden opportunity to clinch the week before in the United States. He would have done so if he had won that race and his nearest rival, Sebastian Vettel, had finished no better than second. Vettel obliged; he finished fourth. Hamilton failed; he finished third.

    The point is that I wish he had clinched the title in dominant fashion in the United States. Because the boost to his and Formula One’s popularity here would have been immeasurable.

    Beyond this, imagine how disappointed you would be if you watched your team score 35 points in the first three quarters of the Super Bowl, and then spend the fourth quarter allowing the other team to score 21 unanswered points — only to back into victory 35-28.

    That said, I don’t want to rain too much (more) on Hamilton’s parade. In fact, I can think of no better tribute than to reprise a little of what I wrote after he won his first championship, when F1 was as popular in the United States as Curling.

    It is from “Hamilton Becomes the Youngest Ever and First Black F1 Champion,” November 3, 2008.

    ____________________

    I am proud (and relieved) that Lewis Hamilton, a 23-year-old Briton of Caribbean (Grenadian) heritage, redeemed himself yesterday by clinching this year’s Formula One championship in the final race of the season at Interlagos in Brazil.  This means that he has now fulfilled the incredible promise of becoming not only the youngest but also the first black world champion in F1 history. …

    Incidentally, if you don’t know Formula One from Formula 409, please take note:

    F1 car racing is a sport that requires the steady hands of a surgeon, the daring skill of a jet fighter, and the physical stamina of a marathon runner. Moreover, no sport can match the sustained thrill and nail-biting suspense one gets from watching those drivers navigate the zigs, zags, and hairpin-turns of a Grand-Prix racetrack as they jockey for position at speeds exceeding 200 mph! …

    Naturally, given the uncanny similarities in racial background and precocious talent between Hamilton and Tiger Woods, the barons of Hamilton’s sport are banking he’ll do for F1 what Woods has done for Golf.

    ____________________

    Congratulations, Lewis!

    Hamilton now faces the daunting challenge of winning 3 more F1 titles to surpass Schumacher’s record-setting 7. But his (hedonistic and often reckless) lifestyle gives one pause to wonder if it will cause him to fail. This, just as Tiger’s appears to have caused him to fail his equally daunting challenge of winning 4 more Golf majors to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record-setting 18.

    Woods was 33 when he won his 14th major in 2008. I would have bet my life savings back then that he would surpass Nicklaus by 2018. Yet he remains stuck at 14.

    Hamilton is 33. And, given the way he won 5 championships over the past 10 years, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect him to win 3 more over the next 6-10.

    Still, the Woods precedent prevents me from vesting anything more than cynical hope in Hamilton winning this ultimate race. I wish him well.

    Related commentaries:
    Hamilton’s first
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  • Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 10:21 AM

    Now White Racists Are Shooting Jews

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others. … [This was reportedly the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.]

    Critics of President Trump have argued that he is partly to blame for recent acts of violence because he has been stirring the pot of nationalism.

    (The New York Times, October 27, 2018)

    I hasten to reiterate this admonition to all media, which simply cannot be overstated:

    I don’t know why the media always reward these psychotic people by giving them the fame they covet; that is, by plastering their pathetic mugs all over television and on the front page of every major newspaper … worldwide, and reporting pop psychology about why and how they did their dastardly deeds. Isn’t it clear to see, especially in this age of instant celebrity, why some loser would find this route to infamy irresistible?

    (“Massacre in Omaha,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 7, 2007)

    I simply cannot overstate that broadcasting everything about these shooters does nothing to stop more shootings. In fact, providing wall-to-wall coverage only incentivizes the next loser to plot his day of infamy.

    Yet media outlets provide it every time — complete with interviews that seem more about providing folks their 15 minutes of fame than getting any useful information. But that’s only because they know they’re catering to some perverse interest far too many people have in their wallowing coverage.

    So please, when these shootings occur, take two minutes to learn the facts, and then turn your TV to a channel on arts, gardening, sports, or something else. Because only low ratings will compel the media to cover these mass shootings more responsibly.

    That said, media coverage is surpassed in its thoughtlessness only by people flooding social media with trite and often self-centered offers of condolences. Nothing damns this age of narcissism quite like people making the condolences they offer all about themselves.

    Far worse, though, is having NRA-supporting politicians join this virtual procession of sympathizers. Because their condolences only add insult to grief. After all, if they (notably President Trump and Republicans) had any real sympathy for victims of gun violence, they would ban all assault weapons.

    Instead, they would have you believe what NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said one week after the Newtown mass shooting, which left 26 dead, including 20 children:

    The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.

    (CBS-DC, December 21, 2012)

    Of course, that’s just the mantra the NRA propagates to brainwash people into buying more guns. I have decried this in many commentaries, including “‘Under the Gun’ Appeals to Common Sense of NRA Members. Good Luck with That…” May 16, 2016, and “Target Las Vegas: Another Mass Shooting in Gun-Crazy USA.” October 2, 2017. But, trust me, no armed guard can stop a psycho hell-bent on perpetrating a mass shooting, especially if that psycho is using an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine.

    On the other hand, there’s no denying that many lives would be saved if a would-be shooter has easy access only to single-shot rifles (e.g., for hunting) and hand guns with low-capacity magazines. For example, if today’s shooter had only a hand gun instead of an assault weapon, he might have killed 4 but certainly not 11 (or more). Not to mention that he would not have been able to pin down responding officers (with their own big guns), even wounding four of them.

    Meanwhile, this shooting is eerily similar to the one another white racist perpetrated in 2015 at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in South Carolina – complete with similar registering of condemnation, outpouring of sympathy, and holding of kumbaya vigils. But that showed that not even a racially motivated massacre, which killed nine people who were worshiping God, could imbue these politicians with enough moral compunction and political courage to defy the NRA.

    Fuse all of that with the rhetorical license no less a person than President Trump is giving to neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other hate-filled psychos, and you have the tinderbox that is the United States of America today. It is no accident that an unprecedented spike in hate speech, hate crimes, and general racist tomfoolery has attended his presidency.

    This has included whites calling the cops on blacks for doing all kinds of ordinary, legal things … like sitting by the pool in their own apartment complex. But things like that pale into insignificance when compared with increasing incidents like another white racist targeting and killing two black people in a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky on Wednesday. This, after he tried to emulate that South Carolina shooter by targeting a black church nearby. But, by an act of God, its parishioners were locked safely inside.

    The point is that, between coverage of this synagogue shooting and the mail-bombing terror that dominated coverage for days before it, the media were too preoccupied to dedicate much coverage to the Kroger shooting.

    Think about that … as most of us wait like sitting ducks for the next one. I say “most of us” because it’s only a matter of time before some blacks and Jews begin doing to white sitting ducks what some whites have been doing to us for too long.

    NOTE: I am stupefied by the many young Americans who say they have nothing to vote for in the midterm elections now underway. For, at the very least, they should know that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun (from shooting up schools, churches, and other places) is to vote against Republicans — whose pro-NRA policies would put that gun in his hand. #VoteDemocrats!

    ENDNOTE: I have written many commentaries damning the media for exploiting everything from political gaffes to tragic events for ratings, including most frustratingly “Hey Media, Wikileaker Assange Is Still a Self-Promoting, Bail-Jumping Rape Suspect!” August 29, 2016. But nothing incites my indignation quite like the trick of news anchors bemoaning the coarsening of public debate while reporting ad nauseam on the treat of Trump’s brazen lies, juvenile insults, and lunatic conspiracies.

    They are throwing this into stark relief in these last days of campaigning; most notably, by giving ten times more coverage to his scaremongering lies than to Barack Obama’s inspiring truths. .

    Related commentaries:
    Newtown
    Under the gun
    Vegas, Gun-crazy USA
    serial mail bomber….
    Wikileaker Assange

    * This commentary was originally published yesterday, Saturday, at 5:26 p.m.

  • Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 7:30 AM

    Trump Claims He Hired the ‘Best People’…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Thank God most of them refuse to do what he wants.

    This cartoon riffs off the spectacle of Trump continually whining on TV and social media about people he hired refusing to do what he wants. Never mind that what he wants them to do is often illegal or ill-advised (in this case firing Mueller and lowering rates, respectively).

    Of course, with all due respect to Powell and Sessions, Trump has tried most notoriously to no avail to get FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate Hillary Clinton and other Democrats for all manner of unspecified crimes. Indeed, Bok might have included a third caricature of Wray sitting outside that office with a bubble of Powell and Sessions saying to him, “We hear you’re part of the never-Trump, pro-Hillary deep state.”

    Unfortunately, Trump’s supporters appear all too willing to compensate for the frustrations the few principled people he hired are causing. After all, the misguided serial mail bomber – who terrorized so many high-profile Democrats and CNN this week – is just the latest of them to act out his incendiary rhetoric.

    For, even as president, Trump has continued to hold campaign rallies at which he stokes mobs into a frenzy with slogans like “lock her up” and “Republicans create jobs, Democrats create mobs.” And yes, they are too stupid to appreciate the baying hypocrisy, and he is too amoral to care.

    Related commentaries:
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