Month: July 2018

“How Democracies Die”: What it says about Trump

“We’ve engaged him for ourselves. … Within two months, we will have pushed [Hitler] so far into a corner that he’ll squeal.” – Franz von Papen

“He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.”Duncan Hunter on Donald Trump

Why does the Republican Party continue to stand behind Trump when his approval rating is at 40 percent, he just bowed down to Putin, and it looks more and more like he is going to cost Republicans their control of the House of Representatives? Why did the Republicans allow him to run in their party’s primary in the first place, and why did they use their party mechanisms to support his candidacy in the general election?

In their book How Democracy Dies, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out that demagogues often need the support of legitimate political parties and elites to legitimize them. Hitler was appointed chancellor by president Paul von Hindenburg. Hugo Chavez had charges (stemming from his attempted 1992 coup) dropped by then-president Rafael Caldera in 1994. Caldera didn’t think Chavez would ever win a presidential election and was sadly shocked when he did in 1999.

In 2012, the Republican Party candidates courted Donald Trump’s endorsement. Mitt Romney ultimately accepted it. Romney came out against Trump during the 2016 election.

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Facebook banning Alex Jones was the right thing to do

I wrote in April how Facebook has no obligation to post lies and bullshit. Free speech doesn’t mean forcing companies to help broadcast defamation, and Facebook has a real problem with defamatory news. Has Facebook taken the seriousness of its problem to heart?

Alt-right conspiracy nut Alex Jones was suspended from his personal Facebook account for thirty days for violating community standards. The suspension comes shortly after YouTube pulled four of Infowars’ videos for being false and full of conspiracy theories.

The alt-right will be quick to whine that they are victims. Trendy members of the ordinary right will talk about how “ideas should compete in the free marketplace of ideas.” Jones, however, isn’t sharing ideas or competing to make an argument or report news. He’s lying and slandering people. (And YouTube and Facebook aren’t the government; they are media platforms.)

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Anti-Trump protesters welcome Trump back from Helsinki with “traitor” chant

Protesters gathered outside the White House on July 16 and 17 to voice discontent with Trump’s policies generally and his extreme appeasement of Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in particular. Trump had said that he believed Putin’s denial of hacking and interfering in the 2016 election, while criticizing the FBI and Hillary Clinton.

Earlier in the day, July 17, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti gave a speech.

The crowd had thinned by 9:30 pm, but there were still people there singing national patriotic songs and chanting about the migrant child separation issue.

Protesters expressed that they would keep up protests all week. Russia could be a liability for Trump: A survey released today shows that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the Kremlin.

U.S. designed the World Trade Organization, TPP to benefit itself; Trump wants to stop the benefits

Donald Trump has made his intentions to leave the World Trade Organization clear with his proposed “FART” bill, which would put the US in violation of WTO rules. He has been telling aids for a while, it has been reported, that he wants to leave the organization.

“We always get fucked by [the WTO] I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States,” he said in one such rant.

Statements like this expose the ignorance of Trump and the incoherence of his isolationist positions. It is often the case that the truth is the exact opposite of what Trump says. There could be no better case than this one.

Who does Trump think designed the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and other international organizations?

“The United States was a leading force in establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995,” the United States Trade Representative wrote.

Of course the United States did. The US is the world’s strongest power and has been since the end of World War II. The US has had the leadership and leverage to influence the rules behind the international organizations it takes the lead in creating. The US leadership since World War II has been a key factor in US hegemony since then. It helped the US win World War II.

It is why America can win special benefits when it negotiates (not when it throws Starbursts at Germany’s PM, as Trump has done):

In 2000, the U.S. won special provisions guaranteeing that the U.S. can export 360,000 tons of rice to Japan each year, nearly half the total amount of tariff-free rice Japan imports. Now that the U.S. is negotiating unilaterally with Japan, it is likely that the U.S. will again win special treatment.

Trump wants to abandon that. He has little to point to when it comes to unfair trade terms with American allies. Trump left the TPP, the deal America was leading the way in writing. He whines about America’s nominal trade deficit with Canada, for example, but American exports to Canada make up 48% of all trade between the US and Canada—it is almost exactly balanced, that is.

Trade has expanded America’s economy and increased its people’s standard of living. Overseas troops expand America’s power projection. International organizations can be utilized for the pursuit of America’s interests.

Without them, America will see its power decline.

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