Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 7:37 PM

Trump vs. Amazon (a.k.a. pathological pettiness trolling informed indifference)

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

From day one of his presidency, Donald Trump has been using his bully pulpit to attack Amazon. He claims this standard-bearer of online retailers struck a sweetheart deal with the US Postal Service (USPS) that is ripping off taxpayers.

His latest salvo came in a tweetstorm last weekend, which included this cheap shot:

Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country … not a level playing field!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018

Unfortunately, like most things Trump bellows from that pulpit, his claims are unhinged, uninformed, and unfair. After all, Amazon

  • pays a negotiated bulk rate for shipping parcels that is comparable to the rate other major retailers pay;
  • pays all taxes due, which amounts to far more than the Trump Organization pays, “believe me” (there’s “projection” afoot here, methinks); and
  • is no more responsible for sending mom-and-pop stores the way of horse-and-buggy carriages than Walmart or Target.

It might also be helpful to know that USPS uses revenues from the sale of stamps and other products to fund its operations. It does not use taxpayer dollars as Trump claims.

Amazon isn’t causing the United States Postal Service to lose a fortune. In fact, it’s contributing to its biggest growth sector, package delivery. Deals like the one with Amazon brought in $7 billion in fiscal year 2017.

(Politifact, April 2, 2018)

Which brings me to Trump’s ulterior motive. Because launching this public attack against Amazon seems a pretext for venting his personal grievance against its founder, Jeff Bezos. You see, Bezos just happens to be the owner of The Washington Post – a newspaper Trump fears is as much of an existential threat to his presidency as it was to Nixon’s.

Nixon wanted to intimidate The Washington Post by interfering with its business, just as Trump is attempting to bully the very same newspaper. The only difference is that Nixon did it behind the scenes (where it might have stayed if it weren’t for his taping system), while Trump is doing it out in the open.

(Bloomberg, April 4, 2018) 

Alas, this is just one of the many ways Trump is normalizing self-interested and self-aggrandizing presidential behavior. Not to mention the many ways he is undermining America’s democratic institutions.

I have often remarked that never in his wildest dreams could Russian President Vladimir Putin imagine doing more damage. This is why, instead of terms of art like “useful idiot” and the “Manchurian candidate,” I began referring to Trump as the “Manchurian president.”

(For more on this, I refer you to such commentaries as “The Issue Is Not Whether Russia Affected Outcome of US Election,” December 12, 2016, and “Treasonous Trump Releasing Fake Memo to Frame FBI and Hide Russian Ties,” February 1, 2018.)

In any event, as it was with Nixon, only impeachment will prevent his presidency from sowing seeds that will cause America to grow into a bona fide Banana Republic.

Meanwhile, Trump’s notorious jealousy towards wealthier people must only aggravate his grievance against Bezos. And Bezos is probably compounding that aggravation by completely ignoring Trump.

After all, due to Trump willfully maligning Amazon, Bezos lost more wealth in one week recently than Trump has accumulated in 71 years.

One week — and four Amazon-related Trump tweets later … Amazon’s stock price has dropped by around 10%, subtracting roughly $16 billion away from Bezos.

(Money Magazine, April 2, 2018)

Yet Bezos is acting as if he couldn’t care less. And I can think of nothing that would get under Trump’s thin skin more than that. Still, here’s to other Amazon shareholders making him pay by filing a class-action lawsuit for damages.

That said, the only thing more troubling than Trump’s spiteful attack is the dogged refusal of Republican leaders to condemn it. Except that this is just the latest indication of how thoroughly they have sacrificed their political (and moral) principles at the altar of Trump’s petty ambitions.

These, after all, are the same Republicans who deemed it an article of faith to condemn Obama after he criticized corporations for keeping profits offshore to avoid paying taxes. Never mind that, like most things Obama intoned from his bully pulpit, his criticisms were firm, factual, and fair.

This is why the fate of the Republic rests on voters storming the polls for November’s midterm elections to put Democrats in control of Congress. Because only Democrats would honor the categorical imperative to impeach Trump. This, based on all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors everyone in Washington expects Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to delineate in his pending report.

Related commentaries:
Manchurian president
Whether Russia affected election
Treasonous Trump
republicans sacrificing principles
special prosecutor Mueller

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