Saturday, August 19, 2017

Last Call For Beantown Roasters

So Donald Trump's "fine people" from Charlottesville showed up in Boston on Saturday and the result was about 150-200 white supremacists and about 40,000 annoyed Bostonians who decided to heckle them like a guy in a Yankees jersey at Fenway Park.

One week after violent protests rattled Charlottesville, Virginia, a scheduled free speech rally in Boston today was met with thousands of counterprotesters, but the day went off mostly smoothly, police said, with 33 arrests but few injuries.

The free speech rally was deemed "officially over" by police ahead of its official end time, but thousands of counterprotesters continued to spread out in the city throughout the afternoon, with some protesting peacefully but others confronting officers and people.

A total of 33 arrests were made today, mostly from disorderly conduct and a few assaults on police officers, the Boston Police Department announced. Police Commissioner William Evans said at a news conference this afternoon that some urine-filled bottles were thrown at officers, and police indicated on Twitter that some demonstrators were throwing rocks at police.

But for the most part, Evans said, the day of direct action went off smoothly as police planned, with very little injury and property damage.

"Overall I thought we got the First Amendment people in, we got them out, no one got hurt, no one got killed," he said.

Police did stop three people with ballistic vests and a gun, Evans said, "but we were lucky to get those three out of here and confiscate the vests."

Evans said roughly 40,000 people descended on Boston today, "standing tall against hatred and bigotry in our city, and that's a good feeling." He added that he wished the "trouble makers stayed away," who he said weren't there for either the free speech side or the counterprotesters' side, but "were here just to cause problems."

Evans said that "99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons -- that's to fight bigotry and hate."

Well done, Beantown.  Well done.

The Never Trump Illusion

Here's my problem with "Never Trump" conservative Republicans like the Daily Beast's Matt Lewis, who rips into his fellow GOP voters for supporting Trump:

Whether Trump is obfuscating about Russia, failing to specifically condemn racism and white nationalism in Charlottesville, Virginia, opining about the beauty of Confederate memorials, or attacking fellow Republicans (the list is long and includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Jeff Flake), his administration is an utter disaster for the GOP and the cause of conservatism.

This is especially amazing when you consider the GOP controls all levers of power (talk about missed opportunities!), the economy seems to be humming along, and (knock on wood) Trump’s foreign policy of peace through saber-rattling is, for now, working.

Now look, I realize that a lot of good Republicans voted for someone other than Trump in the GOP primary. Further, I realize that Trump lost the popular vote in the general election. So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush when I say that you were warned about this man—and you ignored our warnings. We were right; you were wrong.

The masses, it turns out, sometimes are asses. Sometimes the people who actually pay close attention to politics know more than the disgruntled populists and nationalists who are willing to gamble on the future of this great republic—and on the reputation of a conservative philosophy that goes from Aristotle to Burke to Buckley—in order to boost a reality show host. You elected your guy, and look where it got us.

Congratulations, or something.

Somebody has told Lewis that 1) there is no way that any Republican will ever be able to divorce themselves from being the party of Trump right now and that 2) they're the side that's winning, right?

He has the same problem Ben Sasse has, as Steve M points out.  There's no "disengagement" from this monster.

What Sasse doesn't understand is that we're not going to have "an orderly debate." Defenders of these monuments aren't going to limit themselves to peaceful discussion of the question. If it's agreed that the monuments have to come down, they're not going to accept the outcome. And I'm not just referring to white nationalists -- in many cases, state law prevents cities from removing Confederate monuments or changing street names. What's the point of "orderly debate" if localities can't make their own decisions?

Sasse proceeds to defend Trump against liberals and members of the media who are presumed to hold extreme positions, although Sasse offers no evidence that they do.

This is what America is now in 2017.

Sasse is savvy and ambitious. He's going to run for president eventually, and he's very determined to make a name for himself now. I appreciate the fact that he expresses anti-racist sentiments, but over the years a lot of national Republicans have been overtly anti-racist while supporting vote suppression, brutal law enforcement policies, and scapegoating and stereotyping of non-whites as criminals and "takers" of public assistance. Moreover, the party has allowed its messaging to be disseminated primarily on Fox News and talk radio, which vacillate between racist dog whistles and more overt appeals to racial fear and anger. And, of course, the party -- with Sasse admittedly one of the few exceptions -- rallied behind a birther who's now president.

If Republicans reject all that -- or if Sasse and others reject the Republican Party because it won't -- then we can have a civilized discussion of race. But we can't have one before then. 

The bad guys are in charge.  Sasse, Lewis, and countless other "Never Trumpers" built this creation and it is currently destroying America.  I don't blame Trump for being Trump any more than I blame the nature of the scorpion to sting.  I blame the Republicans like Lewis and Sasse who take zero responsibility for their part in putting Trump in the White House by shifting the GOP fully to being the party of not just white resentment, but white power.

Until they start with that admission, nothing will change.  Republicans can't do anything about impeaching and removing Trump from office until they admit they are the guilty ones.

Trading Blows With The Dragon

Don't look now, but it looks like on top of everything else, the Trump regime just started a trade fight with China over intellectual property.

The US has initiated an investigationn into China's theft of US intellectual property (IP) using Section 301 US Trade Act of 1974. 
That may sound like a bunch of jargon, but what it boils down to is that the US just fired the first shot in a trade war with China. 
"On Monday, President Trump instructed me to look into Chinese laws, policies, and practices which may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development," said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer in a statement on the US Trade Representative website. 
"After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation. I notified the President that today I am beginning an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974."

China sees the use of Section 301 as an act of aggression because it allows the president of the United States to act against the Chinese economy without consulting the World Trade Organization. China has been a member of the WTO since 2001. The use of Section 301 fell out of fashion around the same time. US leaders didn't see the point of using it anymore because the WTO's framework had more legitimacy, and even allies were complaining about its use.

China has been warning the Trump administration against bypassing the WTO since January. Earlier this week Chinese state media was alive with condemnation for even the thought of the US activating Section 301.

"We urge the US side to respect the facts and act prudently. If US ignores the facts and disrespects multilateral trade rules, thus jeopardizing the two nations’ trading ties, China will not sit on its hands and will take all appropriate measures to protect its own legitimate rights," said a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.

So that'll be fun.  I don't know if it will result in a full-blown trade war, but it definitely looks like China will retaliate.  How hard and how costly it will be, we'll see.  In the Obama and even the Bush era, both sides went to the World Trade Organization, and both sides have won and lost over the years.

But dragging up Section 301 from the swamp seems like a bad idea, and it's going to cause a lot of problems, and I wouldn't bet on Trump to show retraint in this arena.  The GOP base has long wanted a trade fight with Beijing CAUSE THEY TOOK OUR JORBS and it looks like they will get it.

Oh, by the way, you know who's the happiest to see a China/US trade war that could potentially cause billions in damage to both countries?

You got it.  Our old friend Vlad.
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