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Friday, January 20, 2017


Politicians and dictators and the guys with the dough

by Tom Sullivan

Ukrainian S-300P launchers during the Independence Day parade in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

As world meets Trump today, Eugene Robinson hears echoes of the past:

I feel as though I’ve seen this movie before. This reminds me of the Nixon years, when the “silent majority” felt itself assailed by the counterculture of hippies, minorities and uppity women. This time, though, the Trump loyalists are a clear minority; he lost the popular vote, and his approval rating is shockingly low for a new president. And the counterculture is now the mainstream: Some of those marching against Trump this weekend haven’t taken to the streets since the days of Vietnam.
Republicans celebrate their victory today, such as it is. Democrats lost the White House in 2016, but so did they. Trump defeated the entire GOP and now has it prostrating itself before him. Robinson elaborates:
Trump has no fixed ideology. Once a Democrat, he commandeered the Republican Party the way a bank robber might hijack the nearest car to make his getaway. The GOP is Trump’s vehicle, not his cause, and there is a chance that some of his policies — perhaps even in health care — will give more heartburn to conservatives than to progressives.
To be determined, of course. "Admit it, you have no idea what a Trump administration will actually be like," Robinson writes. "[N]one of us knows what is going to happen," Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) tells Politico.

The online teaser for Paul Krugman's New York Times column this morning reads, "The new president will be corrupt and crazy, but he’ll also be incompetent." Krugman writes about Trump's team:
So the typical Trump nominee, in everything from economics to diplomacy to national security, is ethically challenged, ignorant about the area of policy he or she is supposed to manage and deeply incurious. Some, like Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice as national security adviser, are even as addicted as their boss to internet conspiracy theories. This isn’t a team that will compensate for the commander in chief’s weaknesses; on the contrary, it’s a team that will amplify them.
Not to worry, because strong, eh? Trump wanted missile launchers and tanks coming down Pennsylvania Avenue for his inaugural parade so he could show the world how great his military is:
During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.
Planners shot down that idea as not structurally sound:
“I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official said. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”
But of course, as a master builder, Trump knew that. He'll get military flyovers instead.

And the vampire squid is back in business in Washington (as if it ever left). As Steve Benen wrote, "[I]t’s almost hard to believe how many Goldman Sachs veterans he’s adding to his administration’s team." Benen notes ironically, "About a year ago, Edward Snowden characterized the 2016 presidential election as 'a choice between Donald Trump and Goldman Sachs.' Oops."

In a display of a different kind of strength, many of my friends are headed to Washington today, not for the inauguration but for the Women's March on Washington tomorrow. A little Todd to send them off. Todd works whenever I need my spirits lifted:

Underneath it all we are here together