Postcards from a shithole country

A few days in central Mexico …

(or in one of “those shithole countries,” as President Trump has labeled them)








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Trump’s Wall

Charts here (Washington Post) show that illegal border crossings are at a relative low and that illegal immigrants in the aggregate commit fewer crimes than native citizens. Buy you only need the one bar graph below to see that the current immigration “crisis” is entirely fabricated for political gain.


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Trump’s big week

WHEREAS, the man who has shown with such consistency that he will lash out childlike and without perspective at any perceived slight makes a speech showing an obsession with “other countries laughing at us”;

WHEREAS to the delight of his friend, Mr. Putin, he pulls out of the climate deal, jeopardizing worldwide collaboration on the environment, ceding leadership of the new energy economy to others, and driving a wedge between the US and its Western European allies while Russia sits back as one of the “good guys” still signed in; and

WHEREAS he launches a junior high bully twitter attack on the mayor of London while that city is in the midst of tragedy (driving in more deeply the aforementioned wedge, to the delight of the aforementioned beneficiary, and suggesting that he is perhaps incapable of understanding his role on the world stage);

NOW, THEREFORE, it is time to bring the alarm levels up a notch.

Trump runs the government like a business

In the corporate world, when the executive makes all the final decisions and those who disagree are replaced, it’s called business as usual. In government, it’s called fascism. The reason democratic governments are not run like businesses is because there’s a different set of risks associated with the concentration of power. When you refuse access to unfavorable press and discredit judges for checking executive power, you have just gone after the two basic firewalls between us and fascism. This is why Michael Moore says that a coup is underway in the U.S. and no one realizes it. In fact, Trump himself may not realize it, as I suspect he is just managing the only way he knows how, oblivious to the historical implications.

I think U.S. institutions are strong enough to stave off the coup, but people need to stay vigilant and vocal about the implications of Trump’s manner of using institutional leverage (with a crude authoritarian nationalism) to silence dissent.

Trump’s style

I agree with my liberal friends on much, but I don’t agree that Trump is crazy. Better to assume that his style of leadership is related to his past. As a negotiator, he may have found that the strategy of creating chaos and outrage among the people he had to deal with was a good way to set the stage. Flustered, they see him as unpredictable and a little crazy. Meanwhile, he can observe the turbulence with some glee, knowing that he has sown these seeds of chaos and he can now manage his interlocutors from a position of greater control.

For all I know, that is a great negotiating tactic for a business person. But I ask my Trump-supporter friends to consider whether being the U.S. president calls for a different skill set. National (and international) security now rests upon a network of allies, all of whom must be willing to share highly sensitive security information; economic health depends upon an even broader network of formal and informal agreements. Is it possible that “unpredictable and a little crazy” is a good tactic to set up a solo negotiation, but a disastrous tactic where so much depends upon you being a predictable and trustworthy partner?