Politics postsWednesday September 26, 2018
They All Laughed
Yesterday, Trump gave a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. This is the line that's getting all the attention:
In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled.
It's getting attention because of what happened next:
For a moment, Trump actually looked embarrassed. Or angry? His face reddened. As did America‘s—if we could be embarrassed any further. What an idiot. What idiot people around him. He goes to the U.N. to upend longstanding American foreign policy, the basic agreements that have kept our world wars leveled off at II, that have prevented us from finishing and ruining that odious trilogy (cf., “Spider-Man 3”), but first he has to brag about what he thinks he’s done? He tries to get world diplomats to buy into the dumb buzz in his brain? The Bizarro world that he runs because the real world is too difficult? And he thinks they‘ll go along with him as if he’s talking to the dolts at CPAC?
Hence his next line:
I did not expect that reaction.
Of course not. Because you don't look at the world the way it might be.
But that wasn't the worst of his speech. The worst of it was the upending of long-standing U.S. and NATO policy.
For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from new forms of coercion and domination.
Vladimir Putin couldn't have created a more damaging American president if he'd built one from scratch.
It does seem the way to go, though. Laugh at the fucker. And vote.
“Here's what I want to tell you: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court. So my friends, keep the faith. Don't get rattled by all this. We‘re going to plow right through it and do our job.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Biggest Asshole in the World, at a summit for social conservatives earlier today. As many have noted, “plowing” a Supreme Court nominee through the process isn’t exactly the smartest language to use considering what Kavanaugh's been accussed of, but what's worse to me is McConnell's admission that due process doesn't matter. Right and wrong don't matter. It's all about power. He has it and he's going to use it as willfully and awfully as possible. As he's done in the past. As he will continue to do until the day he no longer has power. Let's make that day come sooner rather than later.
A Housley Divided Against Herself
I spent last weekend in Minneapolis visiting my mother, who suffered a stroke two years ago and a bad bowel obstruction last year. This year she's in pretty good spirits. She's also well cared for at Jones Harrison nursing home near Cedar Lake, for which me, my sister and my brother are forever grateful.
Yesterday morning, just before heading to the airport, I read a few pieces on the front page of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune—where my father once worked and where my sister now works. The first piece, by Chrisopher Snowbeck, might hit home:
Anxiety, frustration and hints of exasperation are all in the mix as more than a quarter-million Minnesota seniors face the prospect of selecting new Medicare health plans in the coming months. An estimated 320,000 Minnesotans with Medicare Cost health plans must switch to a new policy because a federal law is eliminating the coverage next year across much of the state.
I asked my sister what coverage our mother had but she wasn't sure. We‘ll have to wait and see if she’s one of the 320k forced to do this because of a 2003 law stating that Medicare Cost can't be offered “in areas with significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans.” Why this was so, why it wasn't implemented until 2019, I'm not sure, and few of the news stories are telling. Anyway, it's worrisome.
More worrisome is what Congress might do to Medicare if the GOP maintains control of both houses in the mid-terms. They‘re already talking “reform.”
The other Strib story, featured more prominently, was the horse race for both U.S. Senate seats: Amy Klobuchar’s (good luck: she's got a 60-30 lead), and the seat formerly known as Al Franken‘s. After the #MeToo non-scandal last year, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith became the appointee, and now she’s running to fill out Franken's term, which ends in 2020. Her opponent is state rep Karin Housley. Smith has a much smaller lead—something like 44-36. According to the Strib poll, Housley does poorly with younger voters, but the highlighted is what really caught my eye:
Just 16 percent of those [younger] voters backed Housley, who did best among voters ages 50-64 and older. Housley has made senior citizen issues a focal point of her campaign. Smith could be the beneficiary of a national Democratic effort to mobilize young voters.
I would really like to know how Housley has made senior citizen issues a focal point of her campaign. Has she stated she won't go along with her party, the GOP, which wants to cut Social Security and Medicare? Which views them as “entitlements”? Which cuts taxes for the superrich and makes up the literal deficit by calling Medicare an “entitlement” and trying to slash it to the bone? There's a real disconnect in our news coverage in all of this.
Anyway, I hope the DFL and Smith make senior citizen issues a focal point of their campaign, too. I hope they hammer Housley on it.
Putin's Leaky Krysha
Joshua Yaffe's piece about Bill Browder, “Russia's Most Wanted: How a hedge-fund manager became Putin's greatest obsession,” from the August 20th New Yorker, is much recommended. It also gives us a lot of dots to connect.
In Dec. 2012, Pres. Obama signed into law The Magnitsky Act, named after Browder's former attorney, who was arrested in Moscow, transferred from one shitty prison to the next, and died/was murdered in prison in Nov. 2009. Not a pretty story. The Act authorizes the U.S. government to sanction human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban violators from entering the country. Why does it bother Putin so? Yaffe writes:
The Magnitsky Act threatened the unspoken pact that governs Putin's relations with those who enforce his power, whether they are interior-ministry officials or bureaucrats in the tax agency. “It means his krysha doesn't work,” Celeste Wallander explained. Krysha is Russian for “roof,” and in criminal jargon means the protection that a powerful figure can offer others. “It screws up his social contract with those inside the system,” she said.
Indeed, in September 2013, the U.S. Attorney's office in New York brought a case against a Russian company called Prevezon and its sole shareholder, Denis Katsyv, under the Act. How did Prevezon come to the fed's attention? Browder brought them the intel.
Anyway, here's a dot. See if you can connect it:
The Prevezon case provided the platform for an ever-expanding Russian campaign against the Magnitsky Act, largely overseen by Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had been the lawyer for the Katsyv family for a decade.
If Veselnitskaya sounds familiar, it's because she's the Russian attorney who was at the infamous June 9th Trump Tower meeting with Donald, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
Read the piece.
Facebook: We Own Who You Are
I'd recommend everyone watch “Last Week Tonight,” a comedy/informative joy that isn't on nearly enough. I remember in the past when bad shit happened, and I'd think, “Can't wait to hear what Jon Stewart has to say about this.” Now it's Oliver. Except he's not on nearly enough. The week Trump showed up in Europe and dissed NATO, and made kissy faces with Putin, and acted the ass in Britain with the Queen? Oliver was off that month. The fuck? Last week when Manafort was found guilty and Cohen declared himself (and Trump) guilty? Ditto. Dude! But he's worth it when he's on.
More tech woes: We‘ve had trouble streaming HBO lately, via the HBO Now app. When I kind of solved that problem—a different method of entering HBO Now via the Amazon Firestick menu—for some reason it wanted to charge me $1.99 an episode for Oliver. Everything else on HBO was still part of the package but there was some glitch that asked payment for Oliver. As if it knew that’s what I most wanted to watch. Creepy.
I'm still on Facebook. For now.