Trump and Russia

Not always the biggest fan of Thomas Friedman, but he nails it here:

Every action, tweet and declaration by Trump throughout this campaign, his transition and his early presidency screams that he is compromised when it comes to the Russians.

I don’t know whether Russian oligarchs own him financially or whether Russian spies own him personally because of alleged indiscreet behavior during his trips to Moscow. But Trump’s willingness to attack allies like Australia, bluster at rivals like China, threaten enemies like Iran and North Korea and bully neighbors like Mexico — while consistently blowing kisses to Russian President Vladimir Putin — cannot be explained away by his mere desire to improve relations with Moscow to defeat the Islamic State. And the Flynn ouster gives our government another, desperately needed opportunity to demand the answers to these questions, starting with seeing the president’s tax returns.

We need to know whom Trump owes and who might own him, and we need to know it now. Save for a few patriotic Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire Republican Party is complicit in a shameful act of looking away at Trump’s inexplicable behavior toward Russia. [emphasis mine]

If Republicans want to know how they should be behaving on this issue, they should ask themselves what they would be saying and doing right now if a President Hillary Clinton had behaved toward Russia the way Trump has, and had her national security adviser been found hinting to the Russian ambassador to hold tight because a softer United States policy toward Russia was on its way.

Yep, but, you know what’s more important than our president seemingly being compromised by a hostile foreign power?  Of course you do– tax cuts for rich people!!

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Photo of the day

From a recent Atlantic photos of the week gallery.  I’m always a sucker for foxes.  Especially if you throw in a dinosaur.

Zoo employee Vlada Zapolskaya walks with Ralf, an 11-month-old red fox, during a training session which is a part of a program of taming wild animals for research and interaction with visitors at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, on February 8, 2017. Ralf was born at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (ICG) in Novosibirsk, which experimented on fox domestication through long-term selection and breeding for more than 50 years, according to zoo representatives.

Ilya Naymushin / Reuters

 

Does it matter that Pudzer is out?

Not really.  Jim Newell captures it:

It should be pointed out, too, that Puzder’s loss of Republican support has little to do with his record of pulverizing low-wage workers as a boss. That was the whole point of considering him! And they would’ve gotten away, too, if it wasn’t for that Oprah. Ah, well. Trump should have no difficulty finding another rich person with a horrendous record on, and future ambitions for, the degradation of working conditions to put in charge of American labor policy.

Sure, I suppose there’s some moral victory in one of Trump’s worst nominees not getting through.  But this is hardly a victory for sensible Labor policies.

Meanwhile, on Earth 3

[I like to think of Earth 2 as the one where Hillary picked up 80,000 more votes in 3 key states; or the one where Comey didn’t throw the election to Trump.]

So, Earth 3, with a normal Republican as President.  Frum again:

Suppose Mike Pence were president now. Tax-reform legislation would be hitting the floor of the House. A competent White House staff, headed by people with intact reputations for honesty, would be hammering out the compromises necessary to repeal healthcare reform. A functional National Security Council would be generating options for responding to Russia’s cheating on arms-control treaties and aggression in Ukraine. Democrats and liberals would be assailing congressional Republicans on immigration and abortion—not espionage and treason.

Alas, here on Earth 1, Republicans are showing far more interest in power and partisanship than country:

Instead, their hopes, their interests, their constituencies, and possibly their careers are all at risk, subordinated to the personal imperatives of a president who does not share their principles and does not care about their party.

Each member of Congress went into this line of work with some idea of serving their country. They do not yet know whether clandestine cooperation occurred between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. They do not know whether that clandestine cooperation continues now. Possibly Trump imagines that he is using Putin, rather than being used by him.

But what they do know is that Trump is doing damage to U.S. alliances and the U.S.-led global economic order. They know that he’s staffed his White House with disturbing personalities who do not seem to recognize or accept ordinary ethical norms. They hear from business leaders, foreign heads of government, and their own contacts in the defense and intelligence agencies that they are alarmed and frightened. They see the president of the United States behaving in ways no president should behave. They are partisan creatures, as they have to be in their line of work, but they have enough experience to appreciate that concerns don’t cease being valid just because they are raised by their Democratic colleagues. They must feel that their restraint on the president and the White House is the most important constitutional line of defense against presidential corruption—or worse. If they don’t act decisively now, when will they act? If this isn’t bad enough—what will be?

Let me answer that… When Trump threatens to raise taxes on rich people.  As far as I can tell, that’s the only red line.  Still waiting to be proven wrong.  Ugh.

[And, just because this came up in the Google image search for Earth 3]

Image result for earth 3

 

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