Friday, December 02, 2016

Smorgasbord: Trump, populism and an Argentine poet

This whole Russians-and-fake-news theme is going to work out poorly for the Democrats. Here are some interesting recent developments along that line:

Spencer Ackerman and Julian Borger, US legislation proposes new committee to counteract Russian 'covert influence' Guardian 11/30/2016. This is a link to the proposed legislation they discuss.

Julian Borger and Raya Jalabi, US Syria policy: signs of shift as Trump son meets pro-Russia Damascus figure Guardian 11/23/2016: this isn't necessarily sinister. But it's part of what will become a much bigger picture.

Christian Lowe and Natalia Zinets, Russia says foreign spies plan cyber attack on banking system Yahoo! Tech/Reuters 12/02/2016. Because cyberwar is such an arcane thing and is surrounded by secrecy and complicated by multiple agendas, it's very hard to know what to make of these reports. Because there are things like this: "The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News." (William Arkin, CIA Prepping for Possible Cyber Strike Against Russia NBC News 10/14/2016)

Marcy Wheeler, Seven Democrats Write Obama Asking Him to Declassify More Information on Russian Involvement in The Elections Emptywheel 11/30/2016. I hope the Obama Administration releases more substantial information on this. If he doesn't, it just makes the Democratic position on Russian interference in the election look even more like McCarthyist desperation.

On the continuing and lively discussion of populism, Mike Konczal (Learning From Trump in Retrospect Medium 12/01/2016) makes an important observation on how Trump rhetorically constructed the Elite against which he ran a populist campaign: "Trump never blames the rich for people’s problems. He doesn’t mention corporations, or anything relating to class struggle. His economic enemies are Washington elites, media, other countries, and immigrants. Even when financial elites and corporations do something, they are a combination of pawns and partners of DC elites."

There are some really good analyses out there evaluating the evolution of rightwing Republicanism into Trumpism and how to prepare for what's coming:

Rick Perlstein, Democracy and Indecency: From Nixon to Trump Washington Spectator 11/29/2016: "For me, 2007 was the watershed, not 2009: that was when I began stating as a matter of fact that millions of Americans now considered a government controlled by Democrats de facto illegitimate. "

Tina Dupuy, So We Elected an Autocrat: What To Do Now Medium ExtraNewsfeed 12/01/2016: "Really want to get under Trump’s liver-spotted thin skin? Call the movement [against him] The Popular Vote, its members The Popular Voters. At the time of this writing Hillary is leading in the popular vote by 2.5 million." Something tells me that "The Popular Voters" won't become one of Ernesto Laclau's "vacant signifiers" that catches on as the self-definition of a left populist movement. But who knows?

John Shattuck, Resisting Trumpism in Europe and the United States The American Prospect 12/02/2016: "The election of Donald Trump shows what happens when democracy misfires."

Hamilton Fish, White Grievance, Little Hyperboles, and the Coming Storm Washington Spectator 11/17/2016:

Yet, as ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis suggests in his masterful reporting from Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Trump voters are not always who we thought they were. MacGillis cites three common denominators—they live in places that are in decline, they lack strong attachments to either party, and they carry a profound contempt for a dysfunctional Washington. It’s a perverse tribute to the political skill of the Republicans, and an indictment of the inattentiveness of their audience, that the GOP could oppose every Obama initiative, bring the federal government to the edge of the precipice more than once, and still reap the support of those who were angry at the do-nothing Congress. For liberals, this runs parallel to their recognition that the greatest political achievement of the right is to have made their victims their most ardent supporters.
Daniel Engber, Does Fighting Racism Make Racists More Racist? Slate 12/01/2016 (My own short answer: white racists would certainly like you to think that!)

Joanthan Chait goes around the block to get back to a safe, comfortable assumption that the Trump Era won't be that different than anything that came before in The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral New York 12/02/2016. And he repeats the it's-all-the-Rooskies-fault Democratic excuse that will come back to bite the Dems, "Clinton would have beaten Trump anyway, if not for the combined efforts of Russian intelligence and the FBI to bring her down."

John Dean takes a look at the Coming Consequences for the Litigious President-elect Trump Justia 11/11/2016:

Unlike any of his predecessors, President-elect Trump has “at least 75” open lawsuits, according to a nationwide study by USA Today. Just before his election on November 8, Trump threatened to sue all the women who claimed to have been sexually molested by him (some 12 women at last count), and several of them threatened to sue him for defamation for calling them all liars. In addition, as his campaign was winding down, several vendors whom he had used during the campaign, claimed they were confronted with his standard business practice of refusing to pay, so several of these people may soon file actions against him, if they are not paid. So, Donald Trump could enter the presidency with as many as one hundred active civil lawsuits, which will have potentially differing and multiple detrimental impacts on his presidency.

Either as a plaintiff or defendant, and Trump is on both sides, in any lawsuit requires time and effort to prepare oneself and one’s attorneys. It takes time and effort to testify at a deposition or during a trial. And it takes time and effort to stay abreast of the lawsuit. Given the fact that Trump may be the least qualified person to ever be elected president, he has much more work to do than most who seek and reach this high office. He does not even have a good newspaper knowledge of the way Washington works, let alone the presidency. It appears he has never read even a single biography of any of the men who preceded him as president, so he has a very steep learning curve. Throughout the campaign there have been reports that he has a very short attention span. Bottom line: His litigation is going to make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to meet his responsibilities as president. The smart move would be to settle these cases, but he may not have the money to do so. And he may be financially stretched to pursue them as well.
On a totally different topic, Felipe Pigna highlights a different article each day on his El Historiador website. Today he features José Mármol y su lucha contra Juan Manuel de Rosas. José Mármol (1817-1871) was a poet who opposed the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793-1877), the Governor of Buenos Aires who was the main national leader of Argentina 1829-1832 and 1835-1852. Though Rosas' legacy is much contested, he was the leader who first established a national identity from various provinces of the previous Spanish Vice Regency of Rio de la Plata.

Rosas, "The Exterminator of Anarchy"

Mármol was associated with the cause of the Unitarians - a political designation, not a religious one, they were basically all Catholics. Rosas was part of the Federalist party. Mármol's most famous work is Amalia (1855), which is set in the context of the violent political struggles during the Rosas period. It still stands as a major work in Argentine literature.

I should start doing Argentine History Mondays or something like that on a regular basis.

1 comment:

Mike Lumish said...

"If he doesn't, it just makes the Democratic position on Russian interference in the election look even more like McCarthyist desperation."

I say that you would do well to consider who your real friends are, because times are going to get a lot worse before they get any better.

Just remember, when you and your buddies have bumped off the Democrats there will not be a populist uprising to protect you from the Nazis and the Klansmen and the other Trumpster forces now unleashed across the nation.