Charlottesville and a Country Coming Apart

Minnesotans demonstrate against white supremacy in Minneapolis, August 13
Minnesotans demonstrate against white supremacy in Minneapolis, August 13 (Fibonacci Blue)

A lot of the news is focused on President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn this weekend’s racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and rightly so.

Given the opportunity to denounce white supremacists who carried Confederate flags and torches through the university town and chanted “Jews will not replace us” as well as the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”, Trump equivocated, saying he blamed “hatred, bigotry and violence that’s on many sides, on many sides” — suggesting that the people who came out to protest against the neo-Nazis were just as responsible for the altercations that occurred.

When asked if he considered the murder of one counterdemonstrator by a white man in his car an act of terrorism, Trump — to the delight of his alt-right fanboys — refused to say anything and walked off the stage.

Compare this with his insistence on using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” whenever a Muslim commits an act of violence — and his insinuation that anyone who doesn’t must be an appeaser or sympathizer of radical Islam. Read more

Repression Is the Wrong Approach to America’s Opioid Epidemic

American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20
American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20 (DoD/Marianique Santos)

One of the few silver linings to last year’s presidential election in the United States was that candidates from both major parties recognized that the nation’s opioid epidemic should be treated as a public-health, rather than a law-enforcement, problem.

Which makes it all the more disheartening that Donald Trump is taking exactly the wrong approach to this crisis.

Politico reports that the new president believes in a “tough law-and-order approach” to arrest the rise in drug overdose deaths.

142 Americans die from opioid abuse every day. That is more than die in car accidents or from guns.

The crisis is concentrated in postindustrial states like Kentucky and West Virginia: the heart of Trumpland. Read more

Trump’s Big Mouth Fails to Impress the World

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Not only is Donald Trump aching for a conflict with Iran; the American president also seems to be keen on a war with North Korea.

His latest threat, to meet further North Korean provocations with “fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” is disconcerting for two reasons:

  1. Who believes him? Certainly not the North Koreans, who responded to Trump’s bluster by threatening to strike the American island of Guam.
  2. North Korea never backs down. It is the superpower, not an impoverished country with an army from the Stalinist era, that is supposed to act responsibly and deescalate. Read more

Hard to See How Trump’s Unpredictability Is Making America Stronger

Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Trump of the United States speak in Paris, July 14
Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Donald Trump of the United States speak in Paris, July 14 (DoD/Dominique Pineiro)

Donald Trump’s seven months as president have been one surprise after another. From his unexpected diplomacy with China and his certification of the Iran nuclear deal — both of which he lambasted as a presidential candidate — to daily stories of White House intrigue and the dismissal of top government officials, Trump has created an atmosphere of unpredictability in Washington DC.

This is deliberate.

“We must as a nation be more unpredictable,” he argued last year.

But is it improving America’s position in the world? Read more

Donald Trump Wants Conflict with Iran

American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6
American president Donald Trump reviews troops at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, February 6 (DoD/D. Myles Cullen)

By all accounts, Iran is complying with the 2015 multilateral agreement that curtailed its nuclear program. The country is giving full access to inspectors, who have found no violations.

The only person upset by this is Donald Trump.

The New York Times revealed earlier this month that the American president had only reluctantly certified Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Now the same newspaper reports that he has instructed his team to find a way to declare Iran noncompliant — whether it is or not.

Congress requires the president to certify every three months that Iran is meeting its obligations under the agreement. If Trump doesn’t, then lawmakers have sixty days to restore sanctions that were rescinded in 2015. Read more

Republicans Must Start to Wonder: What Has Trump Done for Them?

American president Donald Trump waves at a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 17
American president Donald Trump waves at a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 17 (North Charleston/Ryan Johnson)

Firing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff has allowed American president Donald Trump to put even more distance between himself and the party that elected him, argues Tim Alberta at Politico:

More and more, Trump talks as though there are Democrats and Republicans — and him, a party of one.

With the exception of his vice president, Mike Pence, none of Trump’s remaining confidants have a history in the party.

Many, including the president himself, weren’t even Republicans until one or two years ago.

Republicans must start to wonder what, other than winning the presidency and putting a conservative, Neil Gorsuch, on the Supreme Court, Trump has done for the party? Read more

Trump Behaves Like the Head of a Banana Republic

Donald Trump gestures after being sworn in as president of the United States in Washington DC, January 20
Donald Trump gestures after being sworn in as president of the United States in Washington DC, January 20 (Hillel Steinberg)

Considering pardons for himself and his family, calling on soldiers to support his political agenda and using a scout jamboree to trash his opponents — Donald Trump looks more like the head of a banana republic, as Phillip Carter puts it, than the president of the United States.

This weekend, Trump urged sailors attending the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford to discard centuries of military ethics as well as the armed forces’ own rules to lobby their congressmen and senators to approve his health and spending plans.

It wasn’t Trump’s first breach of republican norms and it wouldn’t be his last. Read more