Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Last Call For What It Means To Be A Citizen

As we watch fireworks and enjoy a cookout this evening as we celebrate America's birthday, remember that the Trump regime is actively engaging in not only eliminating asylum applications and all but ending legal immigration (seemingly for anyone who doesn't happen to be from Russia) but actively seeking to remove citizenship and deport previously naturalized citizens.

Oh, but Trump still can't book a real July 4th act at the White House.

So there's that, I guess.

The Next War On The Board

AP's Josh Goodman brings us the story of how Donald Trump was about to get American involved in yet another illegal, costly, and inhumane invasion, this time in Venezuela.

As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said.

In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

The idea, despite his aides’ best attempts to shoot it down, would nonetheless persist in the president’s head.

The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “military option” to remove Maduro from power. The public remarks were initially dismissed in U.S. policy circles as the sort of martial bluster people have come to expect from the reality TV star turned commander in chief.

But shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, according to the U.S. official. Two high-ranking Colombian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing Trump confirmed the report.

Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos, the same three people said and Politico reported in February

The U.S. official said Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, “My staff told me not to say this.” Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a military solution, according to the official, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.

Eventually, McMaster would pull aside the president and walk him through the dangers of an invasion, the official said.

Taken together, the behind-the-scenes talks, the extent and details of which have not been previously reported, highlight how Venezuela’s political and economic crisis has received top attention under Trump in a way that was unimaginable in the Obama administration. But critics say it also underscores how his “America First” foreign policy at times can seem outright reckless, providing ammunition to America’s adversaries.

The problem isn't that Trump was talked out of invading Venezuela.

The problem is that the people that talked Trump out of it, H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson, are both long gone and have been replaced with far more belligerent advisers.

There's going to come a point very soon where Mueller and/or the Senate Intelligence Committee reveals its findings, and it will be a very bad time for Donald Trump.  He will of course want to lash out and distract Americans from this news.

A nice little war would get the job done.  North Korea and Iran would draw global condemnation, but Venezuela, non-nuclear, full of people needing "liberation" from leftists?

American leaders have done it before.

They'll do it again.

The Incivility War

An near-unanimous majority of Americans agree that the US has a serious political incivility problem, but we're still rather split on whose fault that is, the GOP or the Dems.

More voters blame President Trump than Democrats for the lack of civility in politics, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

The survey found that 91 percent of Americans say the lack of civility in politics is a serious problem, with 47 percent of respondents saying Trump is responsible for that. Thirty-seven percent pointed the finger at Democrats.

Additionally, 55 percent of adults said Trump's rhetoric has emboldened people who hold racist views to publicly express those beliefs.

The poll was conducted June 27–July 1 among a group of 1,020 voters. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

The good news, I guess, is that Americans do seem to agree that Trump is a serious problem across the board.

American voters disapprove 55 - 40 percent of the job President Trump is doing, compared to a 52 - 43 percent disapproval rating in a June 20 Quinnipiac University National Poll and reversing a trend which showed Trump's net approval inching up.

The president gets negative grades on most character traits:
  • 58 - 38 percent say he is not honest;
  • 55 - 43 percent say he does not have good leadership skills;
  • 55 - 43 percent say he does not care about average Americans;
  • 62 - 34 percent say he is not level-headed;
  • 63 - 32 percent say he is a strong person;
  • 57 - 39 say he is intelligent;
  • 60 - 37 percent say he does not share their values;
  • 62 - 36 percent say he does not provide the U.S. with moral leadership.

But this still won't be enough to motivate people to vote against him, I suspect.  Tens of millions of us long ago made peace with the fact that a screaming racist as president wasn't a dealbreaker as long as people got what they wanted out of him policy-wise. 

Something to remember on this July 4th.
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