The Mueller Probe is a Distraction

Image result for toles putin

BIGGER THAN WATERGATE

The Russia-Trump probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the most important criminal inquiry in our country’s history. It’s even bigger than the Watergate investigation, which was prompted by bungling burglars breaking into an office in 1972. In contrast, Mueller is scrutinizing a hostile foreign power breaking into our democracy in 2016.

And yet, the probe is a distraction from something even more significant.

“NEVER BEFORE”

Here’s what’s more significant, as indicated by the title of this January 10 Washington Post op-ed by Maryland Senator Ben Cardin: “Never before has a president ignored such a clear national security threat” – that is, Donald Trump is ignoring Vladimir Putin’s current threat to democracy. The piece is based on a Senate Foreign Relations Committee minority (Democratic) staff report. Though the report focuses on Russia and Europe, it warns that our own democracy is in grave danger. Read more of this post

Our Year of Living Dangerously

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

The Year of Living Dangerously is a 1982 film set in Indonesia in 1965, during the lead-up to a violent military coup. It stars Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver,

Welcome to 2018 and our democracy’s own, very different year of living dangerously. Congressional Republicans increasingly cave to Donald Trump, in ways political scientists identify with how democracies die. Our creeping institutional decay includes moves to potentially prosecute the president’s perceived enemies: the Clintons over a matter for which they were already exonerated and a respected former British intelligence officer who wrote a damaging dossier about Trump. Read more of this post

Me on Indian TV on Trump’s First 100 Days

Here’s my Indian TV interview from Friday, on Trump’s first 100 days in office. This was not the first time the Gravitas program had interviewed me, but it was the first time I’d subsequently seen how I was framing both my skype video and remarks. So lots of room for improvement, I know.  My part starts at 2:15.

I found the lead-in pretty illuminating, in terms of one Indian media outlet’s take on Trump. And check out the way the segment closes with a big bang, commencing at 7:40, via a video of a North Korean military/propaganda drill. Read more of this post

Wag the Dog

Image result for photo dog wagging tail

Feeling pretty good about the defeat of Ryancare…or Trumpcare…or the Gut-Health-Care-Coverage-for-24-Million-People Act? Hoping this is the start of a long-term slide for the president?

Such hope is helpful and such a slide would be super. But there’s still a respect in which we should watch what we wish for.  As Andrew Sullivan speculates, a Trump slump could lead us into a wag the dog scenario:

A president hobbled domestically by his own party’s divisions and the opposition’s new energy may be tempted — Putin-like — to change the subject in a way that vaults him back to popularity. A foreign altercation from which he will not back down? A trade war? A smidge likelier, I’d say, is an over-the-top response to an inevitable jihadist terror attack in a major American city. A demagogue loses much of his power when he tries to wrestle complicated legislation through various political factions, in the way our gloriously inefficient Constitution requires. He regains it with rank fear, polarization, and a raw show of force. Heaven knows what the Constitution will look like once he’s finished. Read more of this post

It’s a Wonderful Life

Pottersville

My wife and I recently returned from a vacation in India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Israel. My first memorable step in our convoluted trip was actually a movie I watched on the flight out: Frank Capra’s 1946 fantasy drama, It’s a Wonderful Life, in which an angel shows a kind-hearted but suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) how bad his friends’ and family’s lives would have been had he never been born.

Bailey also learns that in this alternative reality his wholesome home town of Bedford Falls would have been renamed Pottersville, to honor the venal banker who would have dominated life there but for Bailey’s beneficent influence and call for people to help each other through hard times. Pottersville is a debauched place with no sense of community, where it’s all for none and none for all. Not that I mind some debauchery, but the town resembles what the United States of Trump could become: a small-minded, mean-spirited land that lauds selfishness. Read more of this post

March On

So I went to my first demonstration in I’m-afraid-to-say-how-many years this weekend. Though driven by plenty of passion and even anger, the Oakland Women’s March was a positive, pleasant, laid-back affair for its up to 100,000 participants (not bad for a city of 400,000). Lots of creative signs, just like its sister rallies across the globe. (My personal favorites were signs #5 and #45.)

All in all, this extraordinary event seemed liked an ordinary thing to do. And I mean that in a good way. Read more of this post

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