Trumpster Diving

  • Trade deficits, as we’ve heard time and again, are incompatible with MAGA. Regardless of the overall volume of trade. But here’s a way to trim that deficit without resorting to tariff threats and trade wars: Get more foreign tourists to visit the U.S.

Since 2016, the number of international visitors has dropped by nearly 7.5 million. Travel industry economists estimate that this decline has reduced foreign purchases of American goods and services by more than $30 billion. It also, obviously, impacts jobs.

And begs the question of why. The strong dollar is a factor, as is immigration scrutiny. But the biggest factor is Donald Trump. Many foreigners with the wherewithal to travel and spend money don’t like Trump, his policies and the arrogant, America-first image the United States has been projecting.

  • It says it all that two former presidents and rivals, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, will speak at a memorial service for John McCain. It also speaks volumes that the current president will not.
  • Remember when the media, in effect, colluded with partisan Republicans in legitimizing “Obamacare” as the go-to, demonizing reference for the Affordable Care Act? Maybe it could do something comparable and Dem-friendly with the Trump energy plan that would increase carbon emissions and lead and subsequently cause up to 1,400 premature deaths annually. Maybe “Trump Gas” instead of the disingenuous “Clean Energy” rule.
  • “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen.” Indeed, but it took Donald Trump a dozen-plus years of personal attorney-fixing to finally come to that realization about Cohen. Just never know when an epiphany is coming in the world of Trump.
  • It’s a longstanding Justice Department position that a president cannot be criminally charged while in office. It’s also a longstanding tenet of American democracy that no man is above the law. Something’s got to give.
  • He was once a respected prosecutor, “America’s mayor” and a presidential candidate. Today he’s a ghoulish minion farcically defending the indefensible. Rudy Giuliani: We hardly knew ye.
  • “Bikers for Trump.” Who would have thought?
  • Whatever happened to the “law and order” candidate? Aren’t campaign finance violations illegal? Isn’t being surrounded by felons sort of at odds with a “law and order” mantra?
  • Alas, John McCain is gone. The best way for his party to honor him would be to mirror his feisty, truly America-first response to the threat that is the Trump presidency. Feckless fealty can’t trump principles if you want to honor McCain’s legacy. Among McCain’s last proclamations was his assessment of the Trump-Putin summit: “One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Too bad his spine couldn’t be donated to the Republican Congressional leadership.
  • So, who is the key figure in the National Inquirer’s effort to keep secret the identities of those who had extra-marital sex with Trump? David Pecker. Once again, you can’t make this stuff up.
  • Using campaign-finance hush money to shut up sex partners has all sorts of legal ramifications. As for the Trump base, having extra-marital sex with babes is a perk–not a character flaw or some technical illegality. And if Melania doesn’t seem to care, why the hell should anyone else?
  • “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” That was Sir Walter Scott–not Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
  • Our democracy is founded on the constitutional sanctity of three branches of government and attendant separation of powers. It can understandably be a delicate balance. But there’s nothing understandable–or acceptable–about the legislative branch’s abdication of power-sharing responsibility. The Congressional quislings.
  • “There will be holy hell to pay.” That was South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham last summer when rumors were rife about Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions. These days, in effect: “Fire away. We’ll move on.” Graham has become Exhibit A for all the gutless GOPsters (who are not stepping down) who constantly remind us of their hierarchy of priorities: Career, Party, Country. A basket of deplorables.
  • And when AG Sessions is finally disposed of, imagine how the Senate hearing for Trump’s next nominee will play out. It will be a de facto forum on “recusal,” “the indictment of a sitting president,” “perjury,” “obstruction of justice,” “impeachment” and “collusion.”
  • If Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had an iota of fairness and integrity, he would consider saying something like: “Given that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, of Ken Starr-staff fame, is on record for favoring the criminal immunity of a sitting president, we cannot accept his nomination by this vulnerable president. The prospect of a conflict-of-interest scenario looms too likely. Frankly, I’d like to see the president re-nominate Judge Merrick Garland. It might help heal the dangerous divisiveness that truly imperils our country. And let’s not forget, Trump isn’t really a Republican anyhow.”
  • Imagine Trump’s crazed reaction to the disparaging zinger of Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “You are so darn focused on promoting a financial boom that you fail to see that you are the one creating this moral bust,” castigated Cavuto. “And we could all be the poorer for it.”
  • Living in the tremulous times of Trump certainly lends itself to escape. If your respite from reality, however, is going to the movies, heads up if you’re going to see Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” Lee is not exactly agenda-challenged, and it’s no coincidence that this movie is out now in the context of rabid white nationalism. “Make America great again” and “America first” are dialogue staples. And you won’t depart the theater on a note of hope. The movie, which is worth seeing, ends with brutal images from the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

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