By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (8/19/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
I was sent quite a few links to articles and videos over the last few days and I find myself trying to make sense out of the hours worth of reading and video.
With a heavy heart I feel like the United States is on a path to mediocrity, as if we have no vision for our future, as if we lack the will for rising above our lesser selves; no longer the country people look to for inspiration or even a safe haven.
Let me organize some of the best categorically. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow picked up on the Washington Post article I referenced concerning (possible) Moscow Mitch shenanigans to entice Russian investment in jobs in Kentucky, including interviewing the Washington Post co-author Tom Hamburger. For now I’ll call that the first thread. The second thread is a handful of opinion pieces offering insights on Trump and Trumpsters. The third is a bit of a catch-all – a ‘victory’ and a question of vision.
Let’s jump in.
As a reminder, I used this Washington Post article by Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman to raise the question (again) of Senate Leader McConnell’s personal role in Trump-Russia and Russian election interference to benefit Trump. (Helderman also co-authored the excellent introduction to the Washington Post print version of the Mueller Report; ‘Introduction: A President, a Prosecutor, and the Protection of American Democracy’) Here’s Maddow’s interview with Hamburger as well, but watch the Maddow video above first.
Before coming back to Maddow, remember that McConnell was the lone voice of resistance to publically calling out Russian interference in the 2016 election prior to the election and following a senior intelligence official’s briefing of the “Gang of 12” on Russian interference. This and more McConnell actions to benefit Russia can be found ‘here’.
Maddow took us past the Washington Post article and tied in a Pentagon assessment: Russian Strategic Intentions: A Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) White Paper May 2019. It turns out McConnell loosened sanctions against Russia/Rusal/oligarch Deripaska fit a documented strategic Russian pattern of using economic investment as a disruptive influencing factor on the politics of select countries – in this case the United States.
Yes, McConnell is leading us via Russian investment in Kentucky into a deal with the devil – jobs used as leverage for political advantage to permanently favor Russia.
TIME magazine released a story one day ahead of the Washington Post that goes into far more detail about the removal of sanctions between McConnell and the Trump administration to make possible investment in a new Kentucky plant by sanctioned Russian oligarch Deripaska and his sanctioned global Kremlin-linked aluminum company Rusal.
Russia creates jobs becoming “indispensible” to the economy of Kentucky. Dems and Republicans are clamoring to get answers to questions but many Dems and Republicans are already ignoring any warning signs in favor of JOBS.
JOBS. With a hefty price tag.
Deripaska has already threatened to withdraw from the project if subjected to too much scrutiny. Deripaska wouldn’t do that you say, he’s just a businessman? Right? Too late – as the Washington Post reported, he already did:
“On Friday, the chief financial officer of Rusal said during an earnings call reported by Bloomberg News that the company could pull out of the project if U.S. officials continue applying pressure on the company.”
JOBS – the “indispensible” JOBS for Kentucky are a first step – plans are being made for Russian investment in a number of US states. Maddow at the 29-minute mark offers, “Rusal…sent a letter to governors in eight more U.S. states…eager to evaluate other opportunities around the country and your state in particular”.
The price for JOBS through Russian investment carries a heavy price, and that is Russian coercion of US politics through “indispensible” jobs. Remember, it was only a few voting wards in key states that decided the outcome of the 2016 election for Trump.
How cheaply some are willing to sell out.
Now the Opinion pieces. We’ll start here:
In the week of a single-day 800-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average and mounting predictions of a global recession fueled by Trump’s quixotic trade war with everyone — but especially China — he tweets a hyper-ventilating self-congratulatory note about drawing more people to his rally in New Hampshire breaking a record for the venue set by Elton John.
That as much as anything can stand as the summary of this president, though we’ll come to darker versions.
Feel free to read the entire article or instead insert needles under your fingernails. But maybe the one encouraging point comes at the end:
“Trump is following the same limited playbook that got him elected. Whether those tactics have the same potency they once did is the question that will determine his and the country’s future. Meanwhile, serious problems are in front of him, and he is struggling to find the answers.”
Another dose of sage advice is offered here:
“Life is short. So, don’t waste it trying to prove President Trump is a racist, a bigot or a white supremacist.
“… If by now minds haven’t been made up about Trump’s repugnant racism and religious intolerance, nothing said or done from this moment on will make a difference.
“The sad truth is that with all that Trump has said and done, millions of Americans don’t see where he has ever crossed the line.”
Standing in support of the views of both pieces is a new poll by Fox News suggesting Trump’s election outfit is not so good. Not only does he ‘lose’ to every Democrat, his supporters don’t necessarily all translate into voters.
Here are some observations from Fox News Poll 8/15.
While Trump’s approval rating is about average for him (43% vs. 44% avg.) his disapproval rating of 56% is near his highest (57% October 2017). Only 14% are “Very Satisfied” with “the way things are going in our country today”. Trump loses on almost every question: tariffs; response to recent mass shootings; fear of white nationalism etc.
But there is a curiosity in the responses – in head-to-head polling against Dem candidates, Trump is mired at 38-39%, not the 43-44% that is his approval rating. Some support doesn’t translate into votes?
Feel free to review the poll, it offers a more encouraging view than news stories that are determined to report both sides.
I will end this section with a final Opinion that — thank goodness — is becoming a more common media theme.
If there is a silver lining – Trump could be the president best suited to move forward gun legislation.
The one encouraging light – Georgia will be forced to remove one barrier to fair voting, election security and transparency, though there are more:
“August 16, 2019: The U.S. District Court of North Georgia banned the current Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system from further use in Georgia elections… The court found the system impairs Georgia voters’ Constitutional right to vote in any federal election.
“…The ruling includes criticism of the Secretary of State of “inconsistent candor” and “denial and dodging” specifically regarding “the 2017 internet breach of the election servers at Kennesaw State. She concluded: “the Defendants’ contention that the servers were…not intentionally destroyed or wiped is flatly not credible.””
And one final offering. This is a 2016 WIRED video of Shenzen, China. It’s fascinating. I offer this with a question – as you sort through a variety of feelings and reactions, which – this video or your current feeling of our future as the US – is a better vision of hope? I don’t suggest the question is easy to answer, maybe a simpler question – does anything communicated by Trump rise to a level of inspiration held up against any normal standard? Does the Trump tariff war against China, a China that mostly relies on us for agricultural exports, look like a vision of the past of the future held up against this video?
But who says Trump doesn’t have vision? Kudlow Confirms Trump’s Interest in Buying Greenland.
Thank you to readers for the video and most of the news links.