U.S., Israel Deserve Better

  • Call it a lose-lose: inflamed politics in two, closely allied countries. That’s the unnecessary and unconscionable upshot we have as a result of President Donald Trump pressuring Israel to bar two controversial, Israel-criticizing congresswomen from entering the country. And Israel shamefully complying. In so doing, it underscored that shared values—as in free speech—mattered much less than self-serving, shared right-wing, political agendas. Even the pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC disagreed with the Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tough re-election next month. President Trump faces formidable re-election, possibly impeachment, opposition next year. Being sovereign, if hard line, soul mates plays well in both countries, even as existential issues such as “two state” and Palestinian rights remain unaddressed. Israel is armed and aided by the U.S. and really appreciated it when America unilaterally moved its embassy to JerUSAlem and further sanctioned Iran. Trump then called in the favor, knowing that further demonizing and humiliating Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib packed political advantage by portraying—by extension–the Jewish-favored Democratic Party as anti-Israel. As if criticism of Israel, which is not without vulnerability on sovereign issues, can be partisan-spun as anti-Semitic.

  • Amid talk of recession, it’s typically expected—and prudent—for an Administration to wax relatively cautious but optimistic about the state of the economy. But there’s a difference between market assurance/bully-pulpit presidential optimism—and hyperbolic White House bragging where narcissism trumps nuance. For those needing further clarification—from tariff implications and Chinese currency manipulation to domestic wage erosion and a trillion-dollar deficit–here’s Trump’s inimitable take on the U.S. economy: “I don’t think we’re having a recession,” he states. “We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut, and they’re loaded up with money.” Bill Maher couldn’t have said it more in character.
  • “Donald Trump has a central message,” underscores Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a cut-to-the-chase focus on leading by scapegoating. “He says to the American people, if there’s anything wrong in your life, blame them—and ‘them’ means people who aren’t the same color as you, weren’t born where you were born, don’t worship the same way you do.” It’s a loathsome playbook that has been referenced across the centuries by authoritarians who know how to play the demonization and scapegoat cards.
  • “The United States is now, by far, the Biggest, Strongest & Most Powerful Economy in the World, it is not even close! As others falter, we will only get stronger.”—That was Trump blustering on again about an economy that must still account for variables such as the necessity of global trade and partnerships and the inevitable, protectionist impact of uncertainty and chaos.
  • There’s no lack of scenarios and rationales for the re-election or rejection of Donald Trump in 2020. But a certain rule of thumb still applies for next November. Given that Democratic demographics and never-Trump independents outnumber their Republican counterparts, Trump can’t win without Democratic complicity in the form of unforced errors: internal pique/divisiveness and voter-base laziness. There’s recent precedent, as we know all too well. Plus, we know about Russian cyber strategies and whom Trump’s Moscow handler still wants in the White House.

When it comes to the Trump base–however loud, Duck Dynasty-congruent and media-galvanizing–it is not the ultimate difference maker. That’s more the purview of the 1 percent greed heads and the incumbent GOPsters in Congress. The former can have outsized impact with their money and networks; the later will spinelessly support Trump to avoid being primaried. The former is fixated on tax cuts, stock buy-backs and anyone who reminds them of Arthur Laffer and his supply-side curves. The latter unpatriotically prioritize career over country—and won’t take a serious stand against Trump until they’re no longer in office.  

And, BTW, irony and karma scenariosshouldn’t be precluded for Trump’s greedy, 1 percent enablers. The road to autocracy and white nationalist authoritarianism can’t ultimately be good for business.

  • It’s been reported that Trump had been interested in making an offer for Greenland, but Denmark wasn’t buying. Maybe the Danes were taken aback when Trump proposed a brand name change. Or maybe the starting price point was the real non-starter as Trump likely analogized Greenland with Manhattan Island, which sold for $24 (60 Dutch guilders) back in the day.
  • That Donald Trump is a pathological liar has been self-evident for decades. Whether it’s alternate facts or something personal. The former—as when contradicting the intelligence community on the Russian electoral attack—is part of his existential threat. The latter are mere signs of disturbing vanity, such as falsifying crowd sizes and lying about his (6’2”) height—to add an inch so that his body mass index would not label him as obese. Thatand a too-long tie have worked so well in masquerading his girth. Fat chance.
  • For those wondering what Rudy Giuliani is still doing around the White House besides being a double-edged sword to the media, maybe it’s because he still thinks he’s going to get the job he really wanted with this Administration: secretary of state. Reportedly, he has turned down attorney general, Department of Homeland Security and director of national intelligence. Secretary of State? Mike Pompeo never seemed so diplomatic.
  • Bill Clinton. Sarah Palin. Barack Obama. Mitch McConnell. They have all had an impact on Donald Trump’s narrow election. From indirect and inadvertent to purposeful.

When the Clinton White House reneged on President George H.W. Bush’s pledge not to take advantage of the humiliating Soviet devolution, it stoked the sort of Russian nationalism that helped give rise to Vladimir Putin, who would seek national revenge as only a former KGBer would. And because Clinton had his women issues, as it were, his wife’s 2016 candidacy was restrained from maxing out on the historic run to be the first female president. Having enabled, in effect, a predator can erode a lot of the moral high ground when going after Trump, the disgusting misogynist.

When John McCain put Sarah Palin on his 2008 ticket, he normalized knowing nothing. Alas, that is also part of his legacy. Her lack of preparation for anything other than her own reality TV show was shameful and alarming. Palin could have been but a heartbeat away from the presidency. She helped pave the way for the ultimate show business charlatan.

As we’ve seen, the election of Barack Obama did not signal an end to racism in this country. Not even close. Ironically—and tragically—it only embittered a white demographic that was affronted and blind-sided that those they looked down on were now represented by one of their own in the (not) White (enough) House. The resentment smoldered until it was rekindled by the racist flame-thrower, “populist” candidate.

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lived down to his promise to not allow President Obama to fill the Antonin Scalia seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, he gave the Republican nominee a chance to play the non-liberal justice card. In so doing, it also provided cover for certain Republicans—from feckless establishment sorts to hypocritical evangelicals. The Federalist Society took it from there with its vetted list of alternatives to Obama’s Merrick Garland.

  • “Give me your well-educated, your entrepreneurs. Your would-be innovators yearning to breathe unregulated success.” You’d think, sometimes, that this is actually what Emma Lazarus had crafted as words of welcome on the Statue of Liberty.
  • A terrible human being.” That was former GOP Congressman Mick Mulvaney in 2016 referencing the president for his “disgusting and indefensible” conduct around women. But that was then—and this is now Trump’s chief of staff. It’s what craven, career-first Republicans do when someone so shockingly unprepared and unethical winds up imperiling America from the White House. Just ask Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham.

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