“Trump is becoming a failed president”

Donald Trump has been struggling to score any significant policy wins, he gets bogged down with petty squabbles, and there seems to be growing disagreements and splits amongst the Republican Party.

I think it’s too soon to judge his presidency, a major policy win or a war could turn things around quite quickly, but in the absence of substance beyond his at times extreme rhetoric there is growing commentary about his failures, and speculation about his failure as a president.

Juan Williams: Trump is becoming a failed president

 

A Morning Consult poll released last week found Trump losing support in states he easily carried last year. He is down 23 points in Tennessee since his inauguration in January, down 21 points in Mississippi, down 20 in Kentucky, down 19 in Kansas and down 17 in Indiana.

Overall, 55 percent of the country disapproves of the job he is doing as president, according the most recent RealClearPolitics average. At the three-quarter mark of his first year in office, Trump is the least popular new president in history.

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans are also walking away from Trump.

In part, this is due to his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Then there are the threats to incumbent Republicans from Stephen Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist.

Bannon said last week he plans to challenge incumbent Republican senators in seven states, including Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Nevada’s Dean Heller and Wyoming’s John Barrasso.

“Creating a civil war inside the Republican Party may feel good, but I think as a strategy, it is stunningly stupid,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of Bannon’s plan.

That looks like team Trump in disarray.

One Republican who has always doubted Trump’s credentials (and has been attacked by Trump) is Senator John McCain.

McCain, in speech, denounces ‘spurious nationalism’

…his speech was one of warning, and seemed very much directed at the leadership approach of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Trump has been having spats with various sports people. One respected coach has responded.

The Nation:  ‘A Soulless Coward’: Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

We’ve all seen the San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich in a state of exasperation on the sidelines, or in postgame news conferences. Many of us have also heard him speak with great vexation and clarity about the direction of this country and the actions of Donald Trump, particularly on Trump’s “disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” But I have never heard this man more frustrated, more fed up, and more tense with anger than he was today.

Coach Pop called me up after hearing the president’s remarks explaining why he hadn’t mentioned the four US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger. Trump said, “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

Maybe it was the bald-faced nature of this lie, maybe it was Pop’s own history in the military, but the coach clearly had to vent. He said, “I want to say something, and please just let me talk, and please make sure this is on the record.”

This is Popovich  on the record.

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets.

“We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day.

“The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

I think that the last comment about those who work with the president is in part at least unfair. I think that some of those working with and for Trump have the interests of the country at heart and are trying their best to cover for the inadequacies and irrationality of Trump.

They are trying to control Trump and limit the damage he does – and especially, they will be aware of the damage trump could do if he runs amok with the US nuclear arsenal (I think they have about 9,000 nukes).

But outside the White House Trump remains unpopular, and there are growing concerns being expressed about his fitness to remain as president.

Unfortunately Trump has said a lot of stupid and unhelpful and unpresidential things, but he hasn’t done anything (that we know of) that is troubling enough to demand he steps down.

It’s possible Trump may get what is required of being president, but there is little sign of his current obnoxiousness and incompetence being turned around.

We – not just the US but the world – may have to wait until Trump does something bad enough to step him over the line, and others step in to put a stop to him.

That is if the US or the world is in a state to do anything then.

 

‘Equal TV time’ for Trump?

I think that Trump gets a lot of media coverage. The President of the US will naturally get disproportionately more media attention than non-presidents.

What I think he may be angling at here is he wants positive coverage. Perhaps he could stop being such a media obsessed whinging bozo and earn some positive coverage.

US gun control debate

The debate over gun control continues in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, with some very American arguments from both sides.

Playing a typically US religious card, but the sentiment is fair enough. I’m sure some of the families and friends of victims would prefer to see something done about laws and attitudes that allow one person to own over 40 firearms.

This is a common argument, but it seems stupid to me. It has long been claimed but never needed in the US, and it’s very debatable whether the proliferation of firearms would do anything to limit the impact of a tyrannical government, if one ever eventuates.

NPR: Guns In America, By The Numbers

Gun sales have increased in recent years. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. gun-makers produced nearly 11 million guns in 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre. That’s twice as many as they made in 2010.

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States as there were in 1968: more than 300 million guns in all.

A major problem with the ‘government tyranny’ argument is that if civil war broke out in the US it is likely that many of those 300 million weapons would be used in support of the tyranny.

The biggest threat to the US, aside from nuclear attack, is themselves.

Las Vegas shooting – many dead and injured

The death toll from shooting at a concert in Las Vegas is now 58, with hundreds injured. It is reported that a single gunman using at least 10 weapons fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of a resort.

Motive for the killing appears to be unknown at this stage.

Fox News: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

The gunman, who fired down on the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just as police made entry to the room, according to LVMPD undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

The suspect was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that Paddock “was known to local authorities” in Vegas.
paddock01

Alleged killer, retired accountant Stephen Paddock

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said an “excess of 10 rifles” were found in the room, but did not immediately reveal a motive. Paddock had been in the hotel room since September 28, according to Lombardo.

A horrible act in a country awash with firearms.

The question inevitably asked is whether there are wider terrorist links.

At this time, federal officials do not see any connection to international terrorism and little is known about Paddock’s motivation, sources said. The Islamic State terror group took credit for the Las Vegas shooting, saying the gunman converted to Islam months ago, but provided no evidence back up the claim.

FBI Special agent-in-charge Aaron Rouse said at a news conference the agency has “determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”

This is by far the worst massacre in the US for some time, but here are statistics for the year to date from the Gun Violence Archive:

Gun violence  and crime incidents are collected/validated from 2,500 sources daily – incidents and their source data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website.

1: Actual number of deaths and injuries
2: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified

Trump-Kim war of words continues

While the war between Donald Trump and Kim Yong Un is just of words at the moment it continues to escalate with threats, provocation and name calling. If one acts with weapons it is certain the other will also try to act, so this is a very dangerous game of brinkmanship and ego.

Trump ramped things up substantially with his comments at the United Nations several days ago. Kim has responded, and Trump has escalated their slanging match.

BBC: Trump and Kim call each other mad

Kim Jong-un has said remarks by “deranged” US President Donald Trump have convinced him he is right to develop weapons for North Korea.

In an unprecedented personal statement, Mr Kim said Mr Trump would “pay dearly” for a UN speech where he threatened to “totally destroy” the North if the US was forced to defend itself.

Mr Trump responded that the “madman… will be tested like never before”.

The two countries have engaged in ever more heated rhetoric in recent months.

Mr Kim ended his statement by saying he would “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.

This does sound like madness from both of them. Other countries have joined the war of words.

China responded to the war of words, warning that the situation was “complicated and sensitive”.

“All relevant parties should exercise restraint instead of provoking each other,” said Foreign Minister spokesman Lu Kang.

Russia also urged restraint. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was “deeply concerned by an escalation of tensions”.

Kim and Trump don’t seem to care what the rest of the world thinks or fears, they seem intent on trying to out-heckle each other. The obvious risk is if the hackles rise too far then the shackles might come off military action, and that could end up in a major mess. Like nuclear. And world war 3.

North Korea may or may not have much of a nuclear arsenal, but the US, China and Russia all have huge ones, as well as huge non-nuclear armies.

NZH: This is personal: Why Kim’s latest attack on Trump is on a new level

On the surface it seems like more of the same: North Korea responds to another threat by US President Donald Trump by calling him a “deranged” old man who will “pay dearly” for his insults. These words yesterday, however, carry the weight of an unprecedented personal rebuke from North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.

Here are five things to know about Kim’s statement:

He’s breaking ground

It was written in the first person, and issued directly to the international community generally and to Trump specifically.

He’s issuing a warning

The statement suggests more powerful weapons tests are in the works. North Korea’s Foreign Minister seemed to confirm this on the sidelines of a global UN meeting in New York, telling reporters that Kim’s comments could mean that North Korea will conduct an H-bomb test in the Pacific.

He’s playing the statesman

Believe it or not, Kim’s statement actually used gentler language than his propaganda specialists have favoured in the past. Granted, he called Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard” (a word to describe a fragile elderly person) and a “frightened dog”. But this is a far cry from North Korea at its worst.

He feels justified

Kim says Trump’s threats only emphasise that North Korea has been justified in its pursuit of nuclear missiles. North Korea has long said that its weapons tests are necessary because of US hostility.

He’s insulted

Kim seemed to take umbrage that Trump was personally insulting him. Kim essentially says that he expected better of Trump.

…far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors,” Kim said.

Kim advised the President “to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world”. He added that “Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world”. In a country where Kim’s word is law, the message seems clear: This will not stand.

This could end very badly.

Irma reaches Florida

The eye of Hurricane Irma has passed the Florida Keys and has reached the west coast of mainland Florida. It has dropped to a category 3 hurricane, meaning sustained winds of 120 mph or more – that’s 193 kph or more.

It’s likely to be a while before the extent of damage becomes known. One death has so far been reported.

There are photos online of people standing on drained shores:

But warnings are being given to stay away from the sea as just as storm surges taketh away, they also giveth.

The storm is about 35 miles south of Naples. It has drained massive amounts of water from Tampa Bay ahead of storm surges, cut off the Florida Keys, and put swaths of downtown Miami underwater. Tornadoes have cut across much of central and east Florida, including one formed in the last hour near Fort Lauderdale airport.

The National Hurricane Center’s 2pm advisory warns people not to underestimate the storm, which will “remain a powerful hurricane while it moves near or along the west coast of Florida”.

The NHC’s Atlantic Office has just issued an all-caps warning for everyone on the state’s western coast: “MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!”

  • More than a 1.3 million people have lost power, and more than 70,000 are in shelters. About 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas all around the state, roughly a third of the state’s entire population.
  • At least 25 confirmed dead around the Caribbean, including 11 on French St Martin, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dutch St Maarten, Barbuda, and Anguilla.
  • Hurricane Jose, also a category four storm, has shifted northward, creating hope in the eastern Caribbean that survivors might be spared a second hurricane in five days.

Guardian: Havana flooded and 5,000 tourists evacuated from coast as Irma hits Cuba

Hurricane Irma ripped roofs off houses and flooded hundreds of kilometres of coastline as it raked Cuba’s northern coast after devastating islands the length of the Caribbean.

There were no immediate reports of deaths in Cuba – a country that prides itself on its disaster preparedness – but authorities were trying to restore power, clear roads and warning that people should stay off the streets of Havana because flooding could continue into Monday.

Video images from northern and eastern Cuba showed uprooted utility poles and signs, many downed trees and extensive damage to roofs. Witnesses said a provincial museum near the eye of the storm was in ruins. And authorities in the city of Santa Clara said 39 buildings collapsed.

Current path prediction:

Irma track 9.10 jr

8 pm Sunday US eastern time is midday today here in New Zealand.

Senate defies Trump on climate change

This is only small change as far as money goes but it’s a bit of a snub for President Trump.

Reuters:  Defying Trump, Senate panel approves funding for U.N. climate body

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill on Thursday evening that includes $10 million to help fund the United Nations’ climate change body that oversees the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to stop funding it.

The 30-member Senate panel, which allocates federal funds to various government agencies and organizations, approved a $51 billion spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations, which included an amendment to continue funding the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the scientific body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The amendment passed even though the 2018 budget proposal that Trump, a Republican, introduced earlier this year eliminated support of any mechanism to finance climate change projects in developing countries and organizations.

The United States has usually contributed to around 20 percent of the UNFCCC budget.

The amendment passed 16-14. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee voted in favor, as did all committee Democrats except for West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

So mixed messages from the US on climate change measures.

In a diplomatic cable that Reuters obtained last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said U.S. diplomats should sidestep questions from foreign governments on how the United States plans re-engage in the global Paris climate agreement.

The cable also said diplomats should make clear that the United States wants to help other countries use fossil fuels, which have been linked to global warming.

Trump seems intent on promoting dirty fossil fuels with little regard for their impact on the environment.

This is minor defiance from the US senate.

 

The nuclear umbrella

Nuclear umbrella refers to a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state.

Does that include defending non-nuclear states from the fallout from thermonuclear war by not starting one?

Thank goodness for that. Perhaps wiser heads are prevailing.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that military action against North Korea was not a first choice and said he had a strong and frank discussion with China’s President Xi Jinping about the issue.

“President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent… We had a very, very frank and very strong phone call.”

Perhaps talking more with leaders closer to the risk before tweeting might also prevail.

The North Korean nuclear threat

It looks like the threat of war and possible nuclear threat in North Korea is growing.

I doubt if we will see a World scale war, but a limited nuclear war could have widespread effects.

I always thought that if nuclear war broke out we would have time to build a bunker here before the toxic cloud made it down to the southern hemisphere.

And if there wasn’t time there probably wouldn’t be any point.

This advice is quite dated but it may still be relevant.

KissYourArseGoodbye

 

 

Identity Politics ‘Tearing America Apart’

James A. Baker III and Andrew Young write Identity Politics Are Tearing America Apart

Somehow, the drumbeat of dissonance seems harsher today.  Jaded Americans are constantly confronted by a deluge of animus from their televisions and smartphones.

The U.S. finds itself increasingly divided along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual identity. Countless demagogues stand ready to exploit those differences. When a sports reporter of Asian heritage is removed from his assignment because his name is close to that of a Confederate army general, political correctness has gone too far. Identity politics practiced by both major political parties is eroding a core principle that Americans are, first and foremost, Americans.

The divisions in society are real. So are national legacies of injustice. All can and must be addressed. Those who preach hatred should be called out for their odious beliefs. But even as extremism is condemned, Americans of good will need to keep up lines of civil, constructive conversation.

The country faces a stark choice. Its citizens can continue screaming at each other, sometimes over largely symbolic issues. Or they can again do what the citizens of this country have done best in the past—work together on the real problems that confront everyone.

Both of us have been at the center of heated disputes in this country and around the world. And there’s one thing we’ve learned over the decades: You achieve peace by talking, not yelling. The best way to resolve an argument is to find common ground.

Things are nowhere near as bad in New Zealand. There is certainly some dissonance and division on the political fringes, but it isn’t widespread nor serious.

America has many faults that must be repaired—from a failed health-care system to a military that needs upgrading. Americans must, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said during a 1965 commencement address for Oberlin College, learn to live together as brothers and sisters. Or, we will perish together as fools.

If the air of civility in last nights leaders debate is anything to go by we may actually be heading for improvement here, and even fools may enjoy better lives despite their perpetual pessimism.