Short Takes

Quick news items, some hopeful and some ugly, documenting how the world is changing under Banana Republicans.

This is not normal.


Washington Post has an interesting story about how the staff around him has to manipulate Trump: The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child. Apparently, talking to the Idiot in Chief does no good. Their only chance to influence him to act even vaguely like a president is by leaking dirt into the media with the hope he’ll see it and realize what an ass he is.


Over 2300 scientists, including 22 winners of the Nobel Prize, have sent an open letter to Trump and the incoming Republican Congress, asking them to “adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental health threats.”

This is in the wake of the announced appointment of climate change denier Myron Ebell as head of the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washinton-based lobbying group heavily funded by ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, and a shadowy group of anti-environment billionaires.

The open letter can be read here.


A summary of Trump’s global business interests shows likely conflicts of interest and immense potential dangers to national security all over the globe. Since Trump has exhibited no interest in separating his business dealings from his responsibilities as president, we can expect him to be constantly bribed or blackmailed into taking actions that benefit his bottom line with no regard to their impact on American interests.

Note that Trump still has not released his tax returns, and the news media has stopped asking for them.


Islamic centers in San Jose in Northern California and Long Beach and Pomona in Southern California have gotten threatening handwritten letters, calling Muslims “children of Satan” and claiming Trump “will do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.”

The chairman of the board of the Islamic center in San Jose responded by saying, “Our doors are never locked. I hope that person knows that we’re more than happy to have a dialogue. Hopefully, we learn a thing or two from him or her, and he or she learns something from us.”


Concerns have been raised about Trump’s stock holdings in the Dakota Access Pipeline. He has refused to release his tax returns, has tried to cover up his true wealth, and has bragged about how conflict of interest laws don’t apply to the president.


After promising to “drain the swamp” by taking insiders, lobbyists, and corrupting influences out of government, Trump’s latest cabinet pick is reportedly going to be billionaire investor and “king of bankruptsy” Wilbur Ross for Commerse Secretary.

Ross is precisely the sort of vulture capitalist your mother warned you about, one of the gentry who both created and benefitted from the G. W. Bush Great Recession.


According to TPM, from a story in HuffPo, it is being reported in the Turkish press that Trump “talked up” his Turkish business partner during one or more of his several self-congradulatory calls to Turkish President Erdogan. That partner is apparently going to become an important intermediary between the governments of Turkey and the United States.

This matters for two reasons. First, the American Government is being turned into a vehicle for the enhancement of wealth and power for cronies of the president. This mixture of business and government is the classic definition of “fascism”.

Second, it is humiliating for America, and particularly for the American press, that we here in the U.S. have to find out about what is happening in our own government through foreign news sources.



The New York Times is reporting that Trump has chosen billionaire Republican fund-source and public school opponent Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, and far-right South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to be U.N. ambassador–and claiming this adds to the incoming administration’s “diversity”, because these ultra-conservative Washington insiders are women.

No, NYT. This is not “diversification”. It is attempted identity politics. Like nominating Alan Keyes to run for the Senate in Illinois in 2004 against Barack Obama was supposed to siphon off African-American votes. Nominating or appointing a token doesn’t alter the drive to un-do American values and dismantle the things that made America into America.