Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Trump just got checked and balanced

Trump isn’t a monarch

Drafted by a small circle of aides, who kept the contents secret from lawmakers and most government officials, the contentious ban has drawn legal scrutiny since it went into effect last weekend. At the Justice Department, the acting attorney general was fired from her post on Monday night after telling agency lawyers not to defend the measure. Trump replaced her with a US attorney who vowed to enforce the ban.

But with the judge’s ruling on Friday evening, even Trump’s own appointees will be forced to follow the court’s order. Less than three hours after the decision was handed down, Customs and Border Protection officials told representatives from major air carriers they could allow previously banned passengers to board flights bound for the US.

The Department of Homeland Security, headed by Trump pick John Kelly, said it is suspending implementation of the order, even as it insisted the ban was “lawful and appropriate.”

And the State Department, run by Trump appointee Rex Tillerson, said it is revalidating visas it revoked only days ago.

“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769,” an agency official said. “Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”

The order and its subsequent reversal have led to rapid-fire changes in US policy, leading some to view a government in disarray.

Shopify Employees Quietly Urged The Company To Stop Doing Business With Breitbart

From Buzzfeed

Employees at Shopify have quietly urged the company to cut ties with Breitbart News and stop hosting the right-wing media outlet’s online store, but those concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears at the Canadian startup, BuzzFeed News has learned.

For months, employees have been asking for an updated policy on what types of clients Shopify will work with. The ubiquitous e-commerce platform powers more than 325,000 online stores, including those for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump. Breitbart launched its own official swag shop in October, and multiple sources say the site’s worldview clashes with the tolerant and inclusive workplace Shopify says it wants to foster.

Breitbart’s early embrace of Trump’s presidential candidacy and relentless promotion of his policies have made it one of the most influential conservative media outlets in in the US. Its former chairman, Steve Bannon, is currently serving as chief strategist to President Trump. He has described Breitbart as “the platform for the alt-right,” the online movement of white nationalists who loudly oppose feminism, multiculturalism, and political correctness.

Contextless Thoughts

  • A quick question for you to ponder.  Who is more radical?  Bannon/Trump or the GOP caucus in the House?  The House just repealed a requirement for background checks on those with severe mental illness before they buy firearms.
  • Don’t blame Trump for the failure of the Navy Seal raid.  It had been in the planning for months.  The U.S. military plans military raids, not the White House.  We have been sanitized by the idea that war in bloodless and the good guys always win.  That is a creation of embedded media and networks who are only allowed to show select things (for an amazing discussion of this, watch Deadline Iraq which examines why networks did not show most of the coverage coming their way) for fear of losing access of embedded reporters.  The reality is that in any conflict, your enemies have guns, RPGs, and things like Stinger missiles as well. 
  • If you are a photographer, DxO is giving away their amazing DxO OpticsPro 9 for free until the end of the month.  It will make organizing and editing your photos so much easier.
  • Looking for a cheap way to scan old family photos?  Google PhotoScan.
  • I think Trump has peaked too early. He has upset the U.S. Senate, he has upset a large part of the GOP, world leaders think he is a child, his own cabinet is upset at him, he upset Australia.  Instead of taking the Stephen Harper incrementalist approach to bring about lasting conservative changes in the U.S., he has spent a lot of political capital and accomplished very little that is going to be long term policy.  Don’s get me wrong, he is an authoritarian leader combined with the GOP in House of Representative pose a clear and present danger to democracy in the United States but now the courts and even the GOP Senate is starting to wade into the fight.  As Richard Nixon learned, they can’t be defeated.
  • I also think he is fighting his own Whitehouse.  I have never seen a Whitehouse leak that much information and it’s happening so quickly.  They are leaking so much damaging information about Trump and it seems to intentionally make him look like a child.  When those are the leaks that coming from inside your team, you are in trouble.  Again, compare that to leaks about Stephen Harper from the PMO.  Basically in a decade we learned that like all Toronto Maple Leafs fans, he would kinda sad when they lost.  When team Trump is fighting your own team and they all hate each other…. I have read Team of Rivals but this isn’t what Lincoln had in mind.
  • The reviews of PotashCorp Wintershines aren’t stellar this year.  I haven’t gone down to it but Twitter has either been unimpressed or skeptical.  Wendy and Mark are planning to go down tomorrow morning.  Anyone know how attendance has been?
  • I keep being told, “I stopped by Don’s Photo and you weren’t there.”  Just ask for me.  I am just in the back working on the Don’s Photo blog or posting something to some social media outlet.  I am not performing brain surgery back here.  I can still come out to chat about camera stuff or life in general.  It’s slower at work until the snow clears which means that I can get a load done, often up to 5000 words pounded out in a day.  It allows me to revise old posts and write some creative features from scratch.  The writing is fun but human interaction is important as well.

Why Trump’s Staff Is Lying

A must read column by Tyler Cowen on Bloomberg View

Why Trump's Staff Is LyingOne of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim of Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history. This raises the question of why a leader might find it advantageous to promote such lies from his subordinates.

First and most obviously, the leader wishes to mislead the public, and wants to have subordinates doing so, in part because many citizens won’t pursue fact-checking. But that’s the obvious explanation, and the truth runs much deeper.

By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. Promoting such chains of lies is a classic tactic when a leader distrusts his subordinates and expects to continue to distrust them in the future.

Another reason for promoting lying is what economists sometimes call loyalty filters. If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you. That too is a sign of incipient mistrust within the ruling clique, and it is part of the same worldview that leads Trump to rely so heavily on family members.

In this view, loyalty tests are especially frequent for new hires and at the beginning of new regimes, when the least is known about the propensities of subordinates. You don’t have to view President Trump as necessarily making a lot of complicated calculations, rather he may simply be replicating tactics that he found useful in his earlier business and media careers.

He continues

Trump specializes in lower-status lies, typically more of the bald-faced sort, namely stating “x” when obviously “not x” is the case. They are proclamations of power, and signals that the opinions of mainstream media and political opponents will be disregarded. The lie needs to be understood as more than just the lie. For one thing, a lot of Americans, especially many Trump supporters, are more comfortable with that style than with the “fancier” lies they believe they are hearing from the establishment. For another, joining the Trump coalition has been made costlier for marginal outsiders and ignoring the Trump coalition is now less likely for committed opponents. In other words, the Trump administration is itself sending loyalty signals to its supporters by burning its bridges with other groups.

These lower-status lies are also a short-run strategy. They represent a belief that a lot can be pushed through fairly quickly, bundled with some obfuscation of the truth, and that long-term credibility does not need to be maintained. Once we get past blaming Trump for various misdeeds, it’s worth taking a moment to admit we should be scared he might be right about that.

So the overall picture is this: The Trump administration trusts neither its own appointees nor its own supporters, and is creating a situation where that lack of trust is reciprocal. That is of all things a strategy for getting things done, and these first one hundred days are going to be a doozy.

Four More Years

I despise lying politicians.  I know most of them are liars but Trump seems to be taking this to another level.  Seeing the work that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale is doing trying to chronicle Donald Trump’s lies is just overwhelming.  It is three days into the Trump Administration and it is just overwhelming.

I could do nothing for the next four years other than writing about Trumps lies and delusions but to what end?  He’s not my President and it’s not my fight.  While large parts of the United States are resisting the Trump administration, I have some other things to do.

As my friend Sean tweeted today, how long can you keep your mouth open for a firehose?  It’s been an exhausting few days, how do you do it for four years?

So I decided today to just ignore the delusional psychopath today on Twitter.  He is going to lie and lie and lie some more.  Unless he takes the United States to the brink of war, I am going to move on to doing something with a net benefit to society.   I have other things to do than listen to alternative facts and how many people were at the inauguration. 

2016

This is what I didn’t like this year:

  • Brexit
  • Kellie Leitch
  • Donald Trump
  • Twitter
  • Global Warming
  • My right leg
  • Misogyny
  • Racism
  • Terrorism
  • Climate change deniers
  • The Ohio State University football team winning
  • Notre Dame’s football team losing
  • The way that Brian Towriss firing was handled
  • Huskies Athletics being handed over to a bunch of boosters
  • Token funding cuts to social service spending that is devastating to those that need it but really do nothing to cut the provincial deficit
  • The ongoing farce that the Global Transportation Hub and the government’s lack of transparency of what is going on.
  • Friends losing their jobs and leaving Saskatoon
  • Brad Trost’s leadership bid.
  • Facebook
  • Saskatchewan’s reaction to a carbon tax
  • The violence and crime in my neighborhood
  • Politics in general

This is a list of things I liked this year

  • Mark and Oliver 
  • Wendy
  • Meewasin Valley
  • Marley
  • Really all of the dogs at the dog park
  • Moraine Lake
  • Lunch specials at Spring Roll with Wendy and the boys
  • Mexican Coke
  • Spotify
  • Takakkaw Falls
  • Journalism
  • Twitter
  • Printing out photos, framing them and having them on my wall
  • Work
  • The rabbits that hang out in our yard all winter
  • Cold winter nights in the wave pool at the Lawson Civic Centre (having Mark and Oliver toss balls at my head)
  • Coffee at The Night Over and on the deck of City Perks.
  • Silverton Falls

The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor

An unflattering look at the incoming National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.

In 2012, Flynn became director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in charge of all military attachés and defense-intelligence collection around the world. He ran into serious trouble almost immediately. I’ve spoken with some two dozen former colleagues who were close to Flynn then, members of the D.I.A. and the military, and some who worked with him in civilian roles. They all like Flynn personally. But they described how he lurched from one priority to another and had trouble building a loyal team. “He made a lot of changes,” one close observer of Flynn’s time at the D.I.A. told me. “Not in a strategic way—A to Z—but back and forth.”

Flynn also began to seek the Washington spotlight. But, without loyal junior officers at his side to vet his facts, he found even more trouble. His subordinates started a list of what they called “Flynn facts,” things he would say that weren’t true, like when he asserted that three-quarters of all new cell phones were bought by Africans or, later, that Iran had killed more Americans than Al Qaeda. In private, his staff tried to dissuade him from repeating these lines.

Flynn’s temper also flared. He berated people in front of colleagues. Soon, according to former associates, a parallel power structure developed within the D.I.A. to fence him in, and to keep the nearly seventeen-thousand-person agency working. “He created massive antibodies in the building,” the former colleague said.

Flynn had been on the job just eighteen months when James Clapper told him he had to go. Clapper said that he could stay for another nine months, until his successor was vetted and confirmed, according to two people familiar with their conversation. Flynn was livid.

After he left government, Flynn followed the path of many other retired generals and got on the television and speaking circuit. He wrote a book with Michael Ledeen, a controversial neoconservative foreign-policy analyst, about defeating terrorism. Islam is not a religion, Flynn and Ledeen wrote, but a political ideology bent on destroying Judeo-Christian civilization. Flynn began saying that he had been fired because President Obama disagreed with his views on terrorism and wanted to hide the growth of isis. I haven’t found anyone yet who heard him say this while he was still in the military. In the past, I’ve asked Flynn directly about this claim; he has told me that he doesn’t have any proof—it’s just something he feels was true. (Flynn did not respond to requests for comment for this article.)

As Flynn’s public comments became more and more shrill, McChrystal, Mullen, and others called Flynn to urge him to “tone it down,” a person familiar with each attempt told me. But Flynn had found a new boss, Trump, who enlisted him in the fight against the Republican and Democratic Party establishments. Flynn was ready. At the Republican National Convention, Flynn boiled over in front of an audience of millions. He led the crowd in chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” His former colleagues say they were shocked by what they saw.

What Flynn saw was corruption: Clinton, the media, the Justice Department, the intelligence community—they are all corrupt. I spoke to Flynn three months ago, while working on a profile of him for the Washington Post. “Is this some kind of hatchet job!” he roared into the phone when I asked why, exactly, he thought Clinton should be in jail.

The lifelong intelligence officer, who once valued tips gleaned from tribal reporters, has become a ready tweeter of hackneyed conspiracy theories. He reposts the vitriol of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim commentators. “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” he tweeted in February, linking to a false claim that Islam wants eighty per cent of humanity enslaved or exterminated. “U decide,” he posted one week before the election, along with the headline from a linked story that appeared on a Web site called True Pundit: “NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w/Children, etc. . . . MUST READ!”

Last week, Trump announced that Flynn would be his national-security adviser, a job that requires strategic vision and consensus-seeking among competing big-dog agencies. Mullen, this week, suggested to me that Flynn would need to change in order to succeed in his new role. “Mike Flynn was a terrific intel officer when he worked for me as a two-star and was both dynamic and often contrarian,” Mullen said. “Those qualities need to be tempered as national-security adviser in order to serve the next President as a thoughtful and strategic adviser.” Whether Flynn now learns to bottle his rage, whether he reëmbraces fact over fiction, whether he’s capable of playing the role of a contemplative counsellor, will determine the outcome of his most difficult and important mission yet.

Conspiracy theories, false facts, making decisions with no evidence.  All of the characteristics you want in a National Security Advisor.

This isn’t looking good

From the Wall Street Journal

During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.

After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.

Some quick post-election thoughts

  1. Some Charlie Clark supporters need to chill out more.  I made the joke on Tuesday about another election happening so soon after the civic election and that it felt like Charlie Clark had accomplished nothing since being elected.   It was a joke.  Learn to laugh.  Either that or you need to stop following me.
  2. In the run up to the Ford election in Toronto, every time a scandal would hit Ford (and they were serious), people would say that Ford was finished.  He actually became more popular.  I tend to think the same thing happened to Trump.  People saw themselves in him.  That isn’t a good thing as we found out with Ford and America will find out with Trump.  The good news is that Toronto went the opposite way the next election with John Tory.  So if they can survive four years, there is hope.
  3. Trump did not win, Clinton lost.  Trump’s vote total didn’t increase and in fact many Republicans did not vote for him.  The reality with Clinton is that more Democrats chose not to vote for her.  We sometimes look back at the Clinton years with rose tinted glasses but a lot Americans hated Bill Clinton when he was in office and that hatred and distrust never left.  Would I vote for Trump?  Never but there is a lot of animosity towards Clinton as evidenced by the fact she lost Arkansas.
  4. Winning the presidency didn’t make Donald Trump less dangerous and unacceptable. It made him more so
  5. Trump’s victory will impact Saskatoon.  Murray Mandryk hits on the economics in his excellent column today but I am talking in other ways.  Wendy works with the public.  Many of you see her there and are wonderful to her.  Wendy is also an immigrant and came to Canada in 1975.  Being from Guyana, she is of mixed ancestry because of their history of indentured slavery.   Nothing bothers her at work until this last month when she would deal with a flood of racist comments almost all day long about immigrants, her co-workers who are also immigrants, and people of color in general.  It was vile and disgusting.  Luckily her company has good policies on dealing with this stuff but the line out there about Trump’s victory normalizing racism and hatred against minorities having an impact on more than just
  6. For all of the positive talk about Keystone XL, I don’t know if it is the slam dunk that everyone is saying it is.  Here is why?  Canadian crude flowing down to the U.S. hurts their fracking industry which needs a boost in prices to be feasible.  That and Trump is protectionist and  I could see that the pipeline being stalled.  Again.
  7. There is the alt right.  I also think there is something called the alt stupid.  I have been told of how Hillary Clinton had a son that was an abuser and she covered it up (not the son but the abuse).  Umm, she has a daughter named Chelsea.   There was also the story about how her and Bill raised millions for Haiti but used it to build luxury hotels. 
  8. Kellie Leitch has no soul.  She knows that Donald Trump stands for.  She knows what Donald Trump did.  Yet all she cares about is cheap electoral gain at the expense of Canadians.  I have never had as little respect for a MP as I do Leitch and I live in the same city as Brad Trost.
  9. I tend to think that Trump will spend most of his first term in office enriching himself.  This will bring Democratic scorn which will mean retribution from him and the thugs he surrounds himself with like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani. 
  10. I’ll just toss this in there but it is in-excusable that Saskatchewan Party MLAs blocked an investigation into what went wrong with the Global Transportation Hub.  As Murray Mandryk pointed out, In legislative public accounts committee on Tuesday morning, Sask. Party backbenchers Glen Hart, Larry Doke, Warren Michelson, Jennifer Campeau, Herb Cox and Randy Weekes did their utmost to ensure anyone who had anything to do with the GTH decisions (including Boyd himself) will now never be held to account by a formal legislative body.  By doing this, they have failed at the primary responsibilities as MLAs which is to hold the government (the cabinet) to account.  Those MLAs are representing you, they are representing the office of the Premier.
  11. This chart shows you the divide in America.  It’s an urban/rural divide as much as it is a Republican/Democratic one.The GOP/Democratic Divide county by county
  12. Despite Trumps win and the dark times ahead, I remain committed more than ever to trying to build a great city and community.  It’s not a time to give up, it’s a time to dig in, help out, and serve others.  If we don’t, all of the progress that has been made will be lost.

Best of luck with that wall

A short video showing the satellite images of the U.S./Mexico border.  Good luck building that wall and even more luck keeping it secure. 

What does the southern border of the United States actually look like? And in that sense it was a very simple gesture to try to see the border in aggregate. If you were to compile all 2000 miles and try to see it in a short space — what would that look like? In another sense it grew out of the discourses as you suggested. The way migration is talked about in our contemporary moment and in particular the way migration is talked about in terms of the southern border of the U.S. So part of this piece is a response to the way migrants and borders are talked about in our politics. And it’s also just a way of looking at landscape as a way to think about some of those things.

Why Evangelicals Love Donald Trump

Possibly the most depressing thing I have ever read about the state of the evangelical church in years.

Kevin Kruse, a historian at Princeton University, has a theory: This is an echo of an old alliance between white, evangelical Protestants and the corporate world. In his book One Nation Under God, published last year, Kruse argues that business titans joined forces with ministers and pastors following the Great Depression, pushing back against the New Deal with a kind of “Christian libertarianism.” Later, Dwight Eisenhower took their arguments—that freedom from government is a necessary part of freedom under God—and transformed them into messages about America: “In God We Trust” was adopted as the national motto and added to U.S. currency, and “under God” was tacked onto the pledge of allegiance. In turn, Kruse argues, Nixon used the newly minted image of America as a “Christian nation” to justify many of his policies.

Perhaps a strain of “Christian libertarianism” is coming back in American politics, showing up in a push to have government “run like a business” and a sense of anxiety about individual religious liberty being trampled by changing social mores. Kruse and I spoke about the possible connection between Trump’s rise and this old strain of pro-individualism among some conservative Christians.

Here is some of what Kruse said in an interview with The Atlantic

The first strand is an old one. You can look at the way in which Christians, Protestants, have seen personal success as a sign of God’s work.

The real political linkage is one that comes about through these corporate leaders in the 1930s, who are looking for someone to push back against the New Deal. When their own efforts fall flat, they go looking for ministers to make the case for them. They come together around a common set of values: They see the New Deal and the labor unions’ power as forces of “pagan statism.” Through that common enemy, they make an argument that Christianity and capitalism are one and the same.

In my book, I talk about James Fifield, who argues quite explicitly that both the systems are based on individual salvation. In his telling, a good Christian goes to heaven; a bad one goes to hell. A good capitalist makes profit, a bad one goes to the poorhouse. In both systems, individuals rise on their own merits.

If you go back and look at the main libertarian thinkers from the 1930s on, religion doesn’t play a large role in their lives. Even some, like Ayn Rand, are atheists.

Christian libertarianism is an effort by ministers like Fifield or Vereide or even Billy Graham to appropriate classic libertarian arguments, which didn’t at all have to do with religion, and put a religious veneer on them to make them palatable for Americans. They reprint Hayek and von Mises and people like that who never would have made an argument in religious terms; they send them off to ministers and religious leaders. Christian libertarianism is essentially an effort to appropriate a political ideology that either had nothing at all to do with religion or was antithetical to religion and instead use it toward a set of ends that had a religious gloss to it.

In Iowa, fans chant ‘Trump! Trump!’ at racially diverse high school basketball team

Racial slurs at high school students?

From the moment Donald Trump announced his presidential bid in June, he has used antipathy toward illegal immigrants as a mainstay of his campaign. Now his name is being invoked by basketball fans in Iowa who are trying to taunt a racially diverse high school team there.

Perry High is located in a rural part of the state, making its relatively high percentage of minorities unusual. According to a report by Iowa TV station WHO, fans at a game Monday were chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “U-S-A” at Perry players, who include boys of Latino, Native American and African American heritage.

“It’s honestly disrespectful. That’s how I take it. I hear it during the game, on and off the court. Everywhere I go,” Shammond Ivory, a senior on the team, told WHO.

An official for the school Perry played Monday, Dallas Center-Grimes, confirmed to the TV station that the chants had taken place. He declined to say whether any students had been disciplined.

“We are all aware of racism, it’s alive and well in small portions, but it’s alive and well and it’s just hurtful to see that’s what they resort to,” a Perry student, Kevin Lopez, said.

Disgusting actions by fans and by the school that allowed it to happen.