Trump Hires Damaged Goods to Hire People

Might he hire David Wildstein, Bill Stepian and Bridget Kelly for the transition team?

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Trump just hired Christie to be head of his transition team. So he’d be hiring people to help Trump be presidential. The irony here is that, if you take Christie at his word, he’s a terrible judge of character.  He completely blamed Wildstein, Stepian and Kelly for the petty and vindictive GW Bridge closure which was planned as punitive action against Christie’s enemies. His only fault was that he trusted too much. So sad. (sniff, sniff)

Thinking that we should once again change Chris Christie’s moniker from “Damaged Goods” to “Sad” Chris Christie. It’s so sad that he had to come to the realization that his career had hit a wall and was dependent on the guy he called a “carnival barker”.

 

Philippines Election Coverage and Context

I work with a very nice guy from the Philippines.  I find that when I say that, everyone responds the same way – they too work with or know a very nice person or persons from the Philippines. Anthony Bourdain’s recent show on the Philippines was all about how cheerful and generous, sacrificing and enterprising the Filipino people are. It seems like half the Filipinos in the world are somewhere other than the Philippines working diligently somewhere prosperous to send money back to their impoverished homeland.

That nice guy I work with was telling me a few weeks ago about the election that occurred today. He was looking forward to the election of Rodrigo Duterte, who did indeed win today.  He said that this guy was the Filipino Bernie Sanders.

So okay, the Filipino Bernie Sanders if as mayor of Burlington, VT he’d used “death squads” to clean the streets. But that’s really a moralistic cheap shot based entirely on our American context and that’s the point.

A tough-talking mayor, known as “the Punisher” for his lax attitude to extrajudicial killings, looks set to clinch the presidency in the Philippines with unofficial tallies giving him a big lead.

Rodrigo Duterte, a 71-year-old ex-prosecutor, has 38.6% in an initial tally of 80% of the vote, nearly 16 points ahead of the next candidate. The five-person race does not need a majority candidate to win – the outgoing president Benigno Aquino won in 2010 with 42%.

My friend said flat out weeks ago that this guy was no angel.  As a prosecutor and the 20 year mayor of Davao City, a very large and very successful South East Asian city, Duterte has been a kind of real life Charles Bronson (actually they call him “Duterte Harry”)  in an area of the world that is an analogue to New York in the 70s.  He’s done and said some things that Americans would find very disturbing. On his May 8th show, John Oliver, who is usually more nuanced in his attention to context, did a segment about Duterte only focusing on the candidate’s controversial comments and involvement in extrajudicial crime fighting.

But the context is something else.  Duterte is a regular guy from the streets, a democratic socialist by policy and corruption fighter by reputation who is vehemently opposed by the 40 or so ruling families of the Philippines. The Philippines are an oligopoly run by family dynasties that have been in power in each state since colonial times. They systematically suck  up the wealth of the country because they run it. The local and federal governments have been dominated by family dynasties as much as their economics have. Duterte is not of these dynasties, he’s vowed to destroy them and they hate him.  His election in the face of their enmity is an unquestioned victory for the average people of the Philippines.

But none of that context got into John Oliver’s piece, or in any of the cursory pieces about Duterte that I’ve seen in the last few weeks here in America.

Moreover, his history as a prosecutor and mayor and his violent rhetoric craves the context of the reality on the ground in Davao City. It’s huge, clean and prosperous, one of the safest cities in the region despite it’s history of having been the nexus of drug trade throughout South East Asia.  Heroin from China was routed to the west through Davao City.  It’s was the meth capital of the country.  But it’s ranked as one of the most progressive cities in the world now and the 9th safest.

“As the long-term mayor of Davao City, he has turned a rebel-infested, crime-plagued community into one of the country’s safest,” added Mr Lavina. “People in the rest of the Philippines want that chance too.”

In an election with 5 candidates, to get 38.6% is pretty impressive. The Filipino people have embraced Duterte as a hope and change candidate in a place that needs much more hope and fundamental change than America in 2008 did.

His presidency will bear watching to see if the people continue to back him against the dynastic families that have held dictatorial sway over the country, but desperately warn that he’s a potential strongman who must be defeated.  But if Duterte sounds more like a combination of Clint Eastwood’s “Harry Callaghan” and Rudy (“a noun, a verb and 9/11”) Giuliani, it is the context that matters.  I would argue that both Dirty Harry and Rudi Giuliani were fictional characters fighting fake bad guys that in one case were the broadly drawn caricatures that movie audiences could root against and the other was Clint Eastwood. Giuliani put up fake window decals on the burned out buildings of the South Bronx, had cops hassle black and Hispanic kids and took credit for crime rates that had already been going down steadily for years. Nothing more fictional than that. But some places are real beyond all comprehension and require more than politically motivated cosmetic half measures.

During the election, there has been violence, which is common in Philippine politics. On Saturday, a mayoral candidate was shot dead in the south by a gunman. And just hours before polls opened on Monday, seven people were shot dead when a convoy of vehicles was ambushed in Rosario, just south of Manila.

The Filipino people deserve some respite from violence and corruption.  Duterte has vowed to clean up crime, spread the wealth of the country a bit wider than it is currently distributed and fix the crazy corruption that makes doing business in a banana republic rather unpredictable in order to attract more business to come there and employ Filipinos in their home country.  I hope their faith in Duterte is rewarded. It’s just not as simple as that to call him the “Trump of the East,” because he’s not rich (he’s fighting the rich), he’s not a racist (he’s a fervent pluralist), and he has a record of achieving positive things for the people who elected him.

  • Just to be clear, not advocating “death squads”, but like “Sling Blade said “some folks just need killin'”.

Trump is the candidate the GOP deserves

To continue that thought:

In 1996 they nominated Bob Dole, long time senator, war hero, statesman. A person eminently qualified to be president of the United States. His running mate was Jack Kemp, also a long time D.C. figure known for thoughtful policies, also unquestionably qualified to be president.

In 2000 they nominated George W. Bush. Best known for being the son of a president. Questionable business career.  But was elected and re-elected Governor of a large state. Although that state has a constitutionally weak governorship and his results were murky, he did have that limited record of credibility to run on. Was propped up by master puppeteer, Karl Rove, who invented a bullshit compassionate conservatism to sell. Even so, had to get very lucky, lost the popular vote and handed presidency by Antonin Scalia. His qualifications to be president were debatable but the Beltway Kool Kids weren’t having it. He wasn’t Al Gore and that was good enough. His running mate was Satan, who should never be near the levers of power.  But you couldn’t say he wasn’t qualified. Icky but qualified.

Bush got re-elected in another close, questionable race because we were at war. By the middle of his second term the entire country figured out they were rooked.

2008 they went back to a Bob Dole clone, John McCain, right down to the notoriously prickly personality and reputation for bawdy backroom sense of humor. Because he was losing to a black man he made what everyone regarded as a Hail Mary pass and nominated Sarah Palin as his VP. Do I have to go back and remind people of how crazy she was? The half term governor of a state with more bears than people? Not only wasn’t she qualified to be president by experience, she was also too arrogant and stupid to acknowledge it and compensate by trying to be worthy. Picking her invalidated John McCain’s credibility.

2012 they picked an actor who pretended to be a politician of weight and stature. Mitt Romney was phony down to his name. He has just two years more public service on his record than Palin did – one full term as a governor –  but pretended that his success in business and having hung around politics all his life was a qualification.  Actually, if you count being Mayor of Wasilla, AK (pop. 10,000) Palin had more public service experience than Romney. Again, it kind of wasn’t even part of the debate that he really wasn’t all that qualified to be president. Maybe if there was any question that he wasn’t going to be president it would have been? His running mate was Paul Ryan a personage for whom the line that was invented to describe Newt Gingrich is just as apt: “he’s a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person is like.” I suppose he was somewhat qualified to be president, if you squinted, but again, there really wasn’t a 5 minute period when there was a reasonable hope of him actually being VP, so why quibble?

Bush

Palin

Romney

Trump

It’s a natural progression to a consummate celebrity phony being given the keys to dad’s Porsche.  He’ll wreck it. There’s no question it’s going in the drink, he has no license and has only ever pretended that he understands how a car works as others drove him around. But he says he’d be the best Formula 1 driver ever, he’s so smart, he’s got the best left turns, so of course he can handle it, right? I totally believe him.

 

But… Muslim Mayor of London

Okay so Trump, horrific.  And that story about the woman standing up to 300 neo-nazis in Sweden also kinda horrific. She’s great! But the fact that 300 neo-nazis are marching through a city in Sweden, horrific.

But… London is about the elect a Muslim mayor. And I don’t care if you have problems with Muslims, or religion in general (I sure do), but that seems like the forces of light punching back. Maybe it’s just me.

Trump can certainly suck on it.

Favorite line from the Guardian article: “Labour’s Paddy Tipping has been re-elected as police and crime commissioner in Nottinghamshire.”

Of course, Paddy Tipping was elected in Nottinghamshire. Frodo had that hooker scandal and had to drop out.

Yes, Trump is the GOP Nominee

I know, every time I think of it, I’m horrified. It’s horrifying. It says such horrible, horrible things about our country.

But he is the candidate that the GOP and the country deserves. Which is maybe what’s so horrifying about it.

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Don’t open the door, it’s an alligator, not the UPS guy. Horrifying.

Somebody Better Step Up

Thankfully there are people in the world like Tess Asplund.

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The lone protest of a woman defying a march of 300 uniformed neo-Nazis is set to become an iconic image of resistance to the rise of the far-right in Scandinavia.

A photograph of Tess Asplund, 42, with fist raised against the leadership of the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) in Borlänge, central Sweden, on Sunday has gone viral in the country.

“It was an impulse. I was so angry, I just went out into the street,” Asplund told the Guardian. “I was thinking: hell no, they can’t march here! I had this adrenaline. No Nazi is going to march here, it’s not okay.” (emphasis added because it fucking should be!)

That’s a heroine!