What Really Happened While Trump Distracted Us

Trump’s Fascist rally this week in North Carolina stirred vast public outrage, at least beyond the right wing bubble. By steering the idiotic hatred of his base toward a set of female, minority representatives, he escalated the risk of violence and managed to top his prior incitements. Meanwhile…

Trump has a history of leveraging inflammatory statements to screen his other actions. Let’s step back for a moment and look at what happened this week while we were distracted.

Trump Child Rape Accusations

Epstein’s arrest has renewed interest in one of the children he trafficked, the one who was raped by Donald Trump. Katie Johnson filed a suit against Trump in November 2016 for repeatedly raping her at Epstein’s New York house when she was 13. Her suit included the affidavit of a witness to the rapes, and lurid, verifiable details of time and setting. She withdrew the suit after death threats.

Federal agents searching Epstein’s home reportedly found a trove of child porn, including disks marked Young [Name] + [Name]. It will be interesting to find out what’s on those disks.

Efforts to Loot the Most Lucrative Government Agency

Rentiers love land and natural resources, and the US Bureau of Land Management is one of the world’s biggest troves of both. Last month, a political appointee at BLM summarily fired William Woody, the head of the agency’s law enforcement arm. Woody is hated by wingnuts for his efforts to protect federal land, particularly the Bundy Ranch standoff and an effort to shut down antiquities looting. His firing was accompanied by unspecific allegations of misuse of a federal vehicle for commuting.

This week the agency announced plans to move its headquarters to Colorado, in an effort to gut the agency’s civilian leadership without triggering civil service protections. The agency, like so many in this administration, has no confirmed leader. BLM is being led by a political hack named Casey Hammond, who was previously just a clerk for a Congressional subcommittee.

In other news, we learned that the Trump Administration is projecting a trillion dollar deficit this year. Another American died rationing their insulin. The manufacturing sector has slipped into recession. Related to the decline of manufacturing and trade, freight volumes for US truck and rail companies are falling. And we saw another major coal company bankruptcy.

19 Comments

  1. I have been a long time lurker since back to the Lifer days and while not always in agreement with what Chris posted he has always had cogent reasoning behind what he has posted.

    I too was a long time Republican voter and bought the kool-aid, over time I have come to realize I was only fooling myself!

    Why the transition?

    The marriage of the GOP to the Religious Reich which is coming to resemble an American Taliban.

    I was a chemical /controls engineer working in the polluting industries and saw why an EPA was necessary, but it was a self inflicted wound. The party’s current environmental position is untenable.

    I never saw in my profession an “ERA” hire, I came to realize that while I strove to be race and gender neutral in my hiring and management decisions, many in management didn’t and wouldn’t without the force of law. The playing field is still far from level!

    I was fortunate in my career and was able to retire at 59.5 on my own nickel, but it cost me $15-18K a year in medical insurance and copays to do so and still costs us $8-9K per year while on Medicare with the supplements. There is no reason for our nation to not have a better more equitable health care system. I will happily pay $3-5K more a year in taxes to see that our fellow citizens get good and affordable healthcare. I believe the current GOP position on healthcare to be immoral.

    The foreign policy of endless and needless war and confrontation.

    Fiscal irresponsibility.

    The love it or leave it mentality. I love my children, but I damn well criticized them when a course correction was necessary. Wearing or not wearing a flag pin is not on my voter checklist.

    I have always been pro-choice within reason.

    Chris you made the right decision and keep up the good work, while you vision of and for the future may or may not be correct (I agree with much of it), the 50’s aren’t coming back and you either look forward or backwards and our country will fail if the GOP succeeds in their attempt to recreate the 50’s.

    PS: I am so disgusted with the GOP and repulsed by the Orange Goblin that if AOC was the Democratic nominee running against him I will give you three guesses who I would vote for, and the first two don’t count.

  2. If you read unsanitized versions of history you will find Trump is not that unusually evil of a leader in the country. What is different this time is the 24 hour news, the internet and social media.

    This is why even though crime is the lowest in my lifetime the perception of many people think it is worst, Because people are more aware of it now. Trump instinctively realizes this. Which is why he rants about the lying press, fake news.

    In the end the unrelenting probing of many bright minds and the ability to disperse the knowledge quickly and widely is going to bring Trump down. You only can rule by the consent of the governed.

    If enough people say no the the whole things comes apart. The reason why the old Soviet Union fell was because soldiers refused to fire upon their own countrymen. I doubt that Trump has many allies in the government right now. He has attack many parts of the government unrelently. Including the police sections and I think the military does not have much respect for him.

    If he falters at all the Republican party will tear him apart. This is not going to end well for Trump and his crime family.

  3. So how many more months before the tyrant calls for martial law? Every day the slide to total dictatorship accelerates, but you folks…well, you just keep believing that democracy will win out and the vote will happen, and be fair. I am sure it will all work out fine.

    The world is now 30 months into this regime. Now try to imagine how the tyrant acted and what he said, I dunno, 18 months ago. Then compare that to today. That madman from 18 months ago seems tame compared to this one today.

    How many weeks before he is calling Democrat politicians treasonous, and when they start getting killed by his acolytes, he either states “there are good people on both sides” or “they deserved it”.

  4. Along with BLM, certain parts of the USDA are being moved to the midwest. A while back we discussed whether moving government agency to red areas of the country would be a good idea. It seems like we will find out.

    My imagination saw agencies that are generally hated, being protected by various government entities. From locals to US senators. I imagined that the jobs provided and their nearness would make these agencies less hated. Just the fact that they were not in DC.

    So it might not work out the way I imagined. If real scientists and real land managers get replaced by graduates of Billy Bob’s Jesus College and Barbecue, instead of thinking people that will push progressive policies we might get idiots that will do the opposite.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/06/13/usda-research-agencies-will-move-kansas-city-region-perdue-announces/?utm_term=.980066404d12

    1. NPR was on that story too. I suspect the brain drain is a feature, not a bug. If they don’t find proper replacements, you will have the classic “garbage in, garbage out”, but not soon enough to matter in the next election.

      There’s also the matter of the individual scientists objecting to being forced to move. I can sympathize. I’ve had job offers in others states than I’ve turned down. I like the upsides of the Houston metro region too much, and have learned to deal with the downsides. Also, political strategy-wise, I would bet that Texas is likelier to go purple before states like Indiana or Mississippi do.

  5. Bait and switch, I would label Trump the best used car salesman in history, but even most used cars salesman have some redeeming value, he is indefinable, we need a new word to describe that hollow soul of a narcissist man baby. It’s not liking him as POTUS as so much, I despise him as a human being.

    1. EJ, a lawyer friend posted her suspicions about a digital source called “PragerU” that is embedding ultra conservative messaging in video games. She believes this is a new way to influence a different age group.

      I know you dabble in these areas and am curious if her suspicions are on point?

      1. EJ

        PragerU is well known at this point and has been for years. Thanks for the lookout, Mary; it’s an outlet worth being alarmed by.

        While PragerU does do video game stuff, most of their activity consists of making ultra-far-Right Youtube videos and hoping that disaffected, alienated young men watch them. So far this has been quite successful, especially as PragerU presents its videos as authoritative and respectable, using high production values, and backed with serious money of the sort that most Youtubers can’t match. What makes them dangerous is that the videos are presented not as “listen to the rantings of fascists and libertarians” but as “would you like to learn some economic theory, pitched at the level of an intelligent layperson?” Since many people vulnerable to radicalisation are also into self-educating using open resources, this is quite a successful way to smuggle propaganda to people who may not be aware that that’s what they’re watching.

        To me, they fall under the broader category of “Youtube needs to put its house in order.”

      2. What EJ said. If they’re trying to implant ultra-conservative messages into videogames, then they are failing miserably. The stories and characterizations in games are becoming more progressive and diverse and overall a good bunch of them now have plots that run opposite to conservative propaganda.

        One instance I can think of is the 2016 reboot of the old PC game DOOM. In 2016’s DOOM, your silent protagonist has to slay demons on a Martian facility of a corporation that made literal deals with devils in exchange for tapping into hell-sourced “Argent Energy” to use as a power source on Earth and its colonies. The head of the corporation posits that the costs of making deals with literal demons are worth it, but the grisly scenes on display throughout the game and story tidbits offered through collectible audio logs and text entries say otherwise. Your character dismantles the whole corporate operation and the demonic hordes that were let loose with his righteous, silent anger, preferring to let his weapons and his bare fists do the talking. Of import is that you never kill a single human being throughout the game, just tons of demons; it’s the missteps and corrupt practices of the corporation that caused the demonic outbreak that leaves Mars nearly-devoid of human life.

        So back to PragerU: They aren’t implanting ultra-conservative messages into videogames. They seem to be implanting ultra-conservative messages into the heads of young impressionable men who play lots of videogames. But the collective voices of those young men fed on PragerU’s propaganda, who are riled up by diversity and inclusion and anti-conservative messaging in new games fall on deaf ears, as the audience for games has grown beyond them. That expanded audience is all for these games and the newer progressive messages they bring.

      3. EJ

        Thanks Crowley.

        As you point out, games belong to everyone; and with the slow contraction of the AAA space and the rise of the indies, we’re seeing a lot of people making games that reflect their own politics and personal experience. To people who are accustomed to having the entire medium marketed directly at them, and whose entire self identity derives from such marketing, this must feel like an existential threat; but fuck those people.

        I’m surprised we haven’t seen more overtly far-Right indie games made as a grassroots backlash. A few have been announced, mostly by shady #GG grifters, that went nowhere. Hatred was probably the most successful, but if Hatred’s sales numbers are your high water mark then you have problems. Arguably you could consider Paradox a part of that too, given their deeply problematic content, but as individual people their devs often come off as having fairly good politics.

        It’s weird to think that #GG was in 2014, and thus only five years ago. It feels like forever.

    1. Sadly, Fly, we here are in a minority. We read the news, we try to understand it, we discuss it, we keep abreast of developments relating to the obvious public displays, and we care about it all. We don’t even have to agree on all policy topics. After all, Chris used to be GOP Lifer, and even then I found his blog to be sensible and illuminating.

      Three Twitter accounts have over 100 million followers. Two of them are Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. How many followers would we guess that Chris has? Hundreds perhaps; possibly thousands.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing Perry and Bieber. Just pointing out that our minority is trivially small. Perhaps the founding fathers had it right when they accorded the vote to so few.

    2. Honestly, I think we’re more distracted than we realize, but as Ken says, we aren’t really the point. The real problem I see is that so much is happening that journalists would struggle to catch it all even if they were paying attention. I couldn’t find a single conventionalist journalism outlet that even covered the William Woody firing. Trump is very good at consuming the attention of reporters and he wants us all paying attention to his rally comments.

      1. EJ

        I feel that’s as much a commentary upon the sad state of modern English-language press as it is upon Trump, though.

        It is possible to report on more than one story at once. If newspapers choose to continue to pay dividends to the leveraged-buyout firms that own them, rather than paying for enough journalists to cover all the stories that are happening, then the lack of coverage for B-stories is a man-made crisis.

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