Trump to Escalate war in Afghanistan

So, Trump is authorizing another surge in troops to train Afghans to fight the war, and encouraging allies like Pakistan to further assist in the conflict. Which means he’s basically doing what the last two presidents did, which really only caused Afghanistan to collapse.

I’m sorry, but what is the point of this?

If he sends in more troops, after being the President who wanted to disengage with the world remember, the most it will mean is the military and whatever form of government structure remains over there will be propped up buy the US, until he either changes his mind or his successor removes them. The current Afghan soldiers there are unlikely to have any great impact on the Taliban insurgents even with support, certainly over the long term, and all of this is going to cost billions.

Seriously. Why?

(yes I know this is short, but I don’t have a lot to say on military conflicts. Not really my thing)

The German Elections

Lets talk about something other than Barcelona, (where 13 died and 100 were injured when a van swerved onto a crowded footpath) or Charlottesville (Goddammit Trump). I’ve had my rant for this week, so today I’m going to be more measured. Which means talking about something else, I’m afraid.

So.

Lets talk about Merkel and Schulz. Currently it’s very likely that Merkel will win the election and claim a fourth term as Chancellor of Germany, she currently has a 15 point lead over her rival, or rather her party the CDU has, and is currently on a 50-stop tour of Germany to cement that lead. Schulz meanwhile is not only indefatigable, he is if anything growing more bold, with accusations of costly military spending in line with Trumps rhetoric (a convenient boogeyman in Germany and much of Europe right now, though it should be said that reaching that 2% military spending mark is an expectation of the NATO agreement) attacking Merkels left flank. Coupled with attacks from her right regarding the refugee crisis and the incidents that have spawned because of her decision to let in 1 million refugees into Germany, it may yet be a tighter race than expected.

On the other hand, people like Merkel. And they don’t really care about Schulz; though he remains a popular leader on the left, there is a conservative leaning to the populace, one hesitant of bearing the burden of European debt and risking their own current economic success.

Meanwhile the third place winner may well be where the power really lies, beyond Merkel that is. Currently it’s a contest between the solidly left Green party, the liberal (that is European liberal, so very much freedom for the individual, conservative leaning right) Free Democrats, or FDP, with the Alternative for Germany lagging in the polls. Basically it’s a question of who will be the coalition partner for Merkels CDU, and how that will play out in regards to EU integration and change to ensure better growth and prosperity for the Bloc, or whether the priority will remain in Germany, at possible the expense of the EU.

Personally I think the FDP, the party that cares less about encouraging the EU growth and more about Germany’s wallet, would do well to remember how important the bloc is to regionally stability, and economic growth. And it’s unpopularity. Letting it fail because of pride and a single minded focus on Germany at the expense of the Bloc may well only end up hurting Germany in the long run.

If that is your priority though, then by all means focus on Germany. But don’t claim to be the leader of Europe if you’re not willing to bear the cost.

Trump failed his country today

In the Aftermath of Charlottesville, there was an understanding that all forms of such hatred and oppression must be opposed. Regardless of your personal political ideology, perspective or preference, everyone understood that Nazis are bad, and must be denounced.

Except Trump. Of Course. 

Oh he did, yesterday (two days late), but today he decided to pander to his base, who for god knows why, think it was the left (and Obama’s!) fault for the events in Charlottesville, and blame everybody for events on that day. Because it was easier to blow past logic, compassion, dignity of office and obligation to your country, and even a basic grasp of history than do what was right for all of his nation. A leader cannot favor the wicked over his own, a leader cannot do what is easy and complicit over what is right and good.

But Trump is no leader, and he never was. He is a coward, he is weak and he has chosen to favor his base over his country, and embolden Neo-Nazis over protecting the ones they would harm and kill because of they disagree. Not attack, not the protesters, they weren’t antifa, no. They opposed non-violently, and were struck down for it. Heather Hayer was killed. And it was easier to blame them, than denounce those who claimed these acts in his name.

I don’t care about his policies right now, I don’t know if he does either anymore. This is not how a leader acts. Regardless of creed, regardless of belief, I don’t think anyone outside of his base really believes this is acceptable. This is not how a leader acts, and I don’t think trump will ever understand that.

Charlottesville

I don’t know how to respond to this.

The “Unite the Right”rally was held in Charlottesville Virginia, was made up of the Alt-Right, Neo-Confederates, the KKK, literal nazis, and other assorted groups of angry white men. There was a response from a number of left-wing groups, including from what I can tell antifa, who I generally consider to be little different from any other band of thugs, who naturally clashed and fought.

And then a car crashed into the counter-protesters. A woman died, Heather Hayer, 32, and many others were injured when a twenty year old lunatic decided to attack them with a car. Later on two police officers monitoring and trying to contain the violence died when their helicopter malfunctioned and was brought down.

This isn’t right, this isn’t normal, or good, or fair.

This is wrong. And it needs to stop.

So about the North Korea thing

Okay, Trump? Trumpy, mate, Shut Up. Kay? Just shush for like, five days or something, let this blow over okay? Cause, uh, threatening to blow up another nation, even one screwing with you like North Korea, with “Fire and Fury and Power like the world has never seen”?

Not Helping. 

Right so, while Trump was on vacation, intelligence agencies confirmed that yes, North Korea now has a payload for those shiny missiles they’ve been throwing around lately. They made some threats, and Trump responded, as above. This is very bloody bad. Not because North Korea is suddenly about to launch a nuke or anything (the things mostly there for defense, if they actually tried anything America and most of the world would immediately retaliate) but because it escalates tensions with a guy who blusters for security, against the guy who blusters for ego. Who also has nukes, and I don’t think he quite grasps how dangerous those things are. Or doesn’t care.

Or thinks that’s what freedom looks like.

So no, I don’t think anythings gonna happen immediately. On the other hand, Comey, Paris Agreement, Priebus. Trump is an unpredictable actor, not just to his enemies but to everybody. So yeah, just a little freaked out.

Tax Reforms a pain

So, the Republican Party has done their best to pivot from healthcare (no surprise) to Tax Reform, believing that their years of preparation, and an underlying agreement on their policy platforms will win the day. Note the word agreement. Seems Ryan and McConnell forgot that their caucus includes moderates and conservatives.

So as you may have surmised, that pivot ain’t gonna be easy, regardless of the general agreements that republicans have that taxes are too high and complicated and that by cutting them America will see a massive boost in growth and productivity, because reasons (the math never checked out on that one but whatever). So, what’s the problem then? Well, it turns out there’s three things:

  1. They haven’t passed a budget:
    One of the major ways to pass any big reform is the reconciliation pathway (remember that) which means that so long as the bill doesn’t boost the deficit over ten years, the bill only needs 50 votes to pass. Problem is the Republicans have neither presented nor passed a budget, which means they can’t use reconciliation. The democrats are willing to work with the Republicans to pass a budget, but they have demands, including prioritizing the middle class over the rich, and reducing the deficit as best they can. McConnell apparently doesn’t care about the deficit anymore and has rejected any cooperation out of hand. Well, good luck with that I guess.
  2. Conservatives want to see a bill:
    The Freedom Caucus is demanding to see a bill before they provide any votes, reopening old wounds in the party, and reminding everyone that the Freedom Caucus loves to rain on everyone’s parade. As the leadership doesn’t yet have a bill, conservatives aren’t likely to be happy, which of course relates to the third problem.
  3. Conservatives and Moderates won’t necessarily work together:
    Moderates are concerned about the proposed cuts in the budget, and want to ensure that tax reform is not solely to the benefit of the rich, and are also willing to work with the democrats to ensure a bipartisan consensus. Conservatives want more cuts, and most definitely won’t work with Democrats. See the problem here? Given that the moderates have recently developed a backbone, it’s possible this may derail the process, especially if they get support from Sen. Collins (Mai.) and the like.

So it turns out, Tax Reforms complicated. Imagine that. Unless Ryan and McConnell can either get their caucus to cooperate (which isn’t impossible but neither is it likely) so that they can pass a budget, much less actual Tax Reform, it’s very doubtful this ‘once in a lifetime chance’ will happen for them again and I don’t doubt the leadership knows it.

So, maybe America’s looking at tax cuts, and not reform instead? Seems about as likely at this point as anything.

Mueller’s Investigation is working with a Grand Jury

I don’t talk about this often enough, but the Mueller investigation is getting seriously deep. Not only has it expanded it’s scope beyond the election but now Mueller is investigating Trumps financial records, allegedly because of possible connections between them and the campaign discrepancies.

And now he’s asked a Grand Jury for help. 

What this means is that Mueller, and more specifically the Grand Jury, can now charge people involved in any possible Russian manipulation of the election, as well as subpoena documents the Special Prosecutor may not get access to otherwise, and force witnesses to testify under oath. It’s also the red line for Trump.

Trump has repeatedly said that if Mueller goes after his financial records, or goes beyond the scope of his investigation into the election, he will move to have him fired. And if he does Republican Senators have warned him that it will be the “beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency” says Sen. Lindsey Graham.

I don’t necessarily see Trump going through with this, notwithstanding his personal avoidance of firing people himself (regardless of what the Apprentice would have you believe) removing Mueller now would require the Assistant Attorney General to do so, and it would need to be because Mueller was acting without “good cause”. Naturally no one would buy that, and as Sen. Graham said, it would mark the end of the Trump presidency. Fear could well hold him back.

Regardless it should be pointed out if there is something there (and I can’t really assume that there is, not for lack of trying but mostly because all the people involved seem so goddamn dumb) the investigation will likely last at least another eight months, if not more, and then if it goes to impeachment the proceedings would then take even more time. I don’t see Trump leaving before his four years unless he voluntarily does it, which would be tantamount to declaring defeat and that ain’t happening anytime soon.