The Tests Ahead for Trump

Donald Trump’s path to victory was eased by the fact that the Republican and Democratic parties were brittle, corrupt, hollowed-out institutions ready for cracking, but his tests have only begun, writes John Chuckman.

By John Chuckman

The chance for greatness is not something offered every leader. The opportunity requires both a set of extremely adverse circumstances and an exceptional person in power who overcomes them.

A sign at the Women’s March on Washington to protest the election of Donald Trump. January 21, 2017. (Photo: Chelsea Gilmour)

All too briefly, Barack Obama seemed to have the chance in 2008, but he very quickly proved himself incapable of rising to the challenge. So, Obama goes down in history, despite his remarkable achievement of becoming the first black President, as an extremely mediocre leader who was bent by the very forces he should have controlled.

He almost melted away before our eyes, proving definitively that there is a great difference between the talents required for political campaigning and those required for success in office.

Donald Trump now has an opportunity for greatness, more so than any politician I can recall. He is faced with huge problems, many of the them the work of the failed Obama, and they are more than just any set of problems, for they involve the deaths and misery of millions and the risks of an international nuclear holocaust.

It is already clear that Trump has the strengths required – immensely energetic and hard-working, absolutely not intimidated by a powerful and pervasive establishment, and a surprisingly resourceful mind. But there are clouds on the horizon.

Trump is one of those people whose mind seems to crackle with ideas and notions, and, just as is the case with others of this type, including many famous scientists and creative talents, a fair number of the ideas and notions are not worth pursuing and some are complete rubbish. I put into this category notions like a national Muslim registry or the round-up and deportation of millions of Mexican illegals or crippling the United Nations.

I would certainly add Trump’s words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a “Marine’s Marine” on such topics?

Some Bad Ideas

Trump’s wall with Mexico for me is neither here nor there. Lots of countries build walls, and while I am opposed to them in general, I recognize the arguments for them, and of course every country has the right to protect its borders.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Dec. 16, 2015 (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

But you cannot round up and deport millions, even if they are illegals, without great adverse consequences. It is a non-starter as an idea. What we have is a situation created by the ineffectiveness of past governments over many years. That is a reality you must accept unless you want to create, to put it mildly, one of the worst public relations fiascos of the century.

Remember, we live in the age of cell phone videos and the Internet, an entirely different situation than what prevailed the last time America did the very thing Trump is proposing, roughly 90 years ago. Not many Americans likely realize that there was a precedent. Starting in 1929 and for some years after, huge numbers of Mexicans – estimated to have been between half a million and two million – living in America were deported summarily.

It is not a precedent to copy, smelling as it does of activities we associate with the fascist governments of that same dark period. It is something that cannot even be done without many extremely unhappy scenes.


Trump should build his wall and keep strict compliance with law afterwards, but mass deportations will not go down well anywhere and will only create big and ugly barriers in many of America’s relationships, and not just those with Mexico.

Trump needs a filtering mechanism for his bubbling, teeming thoughts because his better ideas and notions are the ones that promise to mark him for greatness. I include here the end of America’s interfering and overthrowing foreign governments, the end of the terrible Bush-Obama Neocon Wars that have killed a couple of million and created millions of desperate refugees, and his bold efforts to bring jobs to millions of Americans living in what can only be called squalor. Those are the goals of a great leader.

And if he can succeed, I believe it is possible for Trump to build a new coalition for his party. This kind of thing has happened before, and if he could succeed at it, it would be yet another great achievement. The Republican Party, before Trump hijacked it and gave it new purpose, was moribund, lacking any clear purpose beyond trying to achieve power and divvy up the spoils of periodic victory.

The Democratic Party that Trump defeated has been in a somewhat similar state. Perhaps that fact is part of why it morphed into the War Party under the de facto leadership — since the 1990s – of the Clintons with their bounteous, mafia-like money connections.

But the Clintons were not only defeated by Trump; their defeat was accompanied by shocking revelations about them and their party’s inner workings which I do not believe can be easily lived down. There remains a possibility that one or both of them is going to be prosecuted, either for the actions of the Clinton Foundation or for the behavior of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

All that makes Trump’s opportunity even greater. He can rise to it, or he can fall over his worst ideas and become just one more failed American President.

John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company.

47 comments for “The Tests Ahead for Trump

  1. SteveK9
    January 31, 2017 at 14:39

    The article is brief but right on the money. It shows the bad state we are in that two Presidents, 8 years apart, both had/have the opportunity to be ‘great’.

  2. J'hon Doe II
    January 30, 2017 at 19:21

    freedom of “democracy”

    or subjugation of the proletariat?

    —– whom are “we the people” ?

    read and discover /
    consider Dickens and
    Little Orphan Annie’s
    Daddy War bucks’
    guilty conscious… .

    the cult of the individual
    vs the people/as we stand

    please reconsider / see
    the real enemy hides within… .


    Modern History Sourcebook:
    Nikita S. Khrushchev:
    The Secret Speech – On the Cult of Personality, 1956

    Secret Speech Delivered by First Party Secretary at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, February 25, 1956

    Comrades, in the report of the Central Committee of the party at the 20th Congress, in a number of speeches by delegates to the Congress, as also formerly during the plenary CC/CPSU sessions, quite a lot has been said about the cult of the individual and about its harmful consequences. . . .

    Allow me first of all to remind you bow severely the classics of Marxism-Leninism denounced every manifestation of the cult of the individual. In a letter to the German political worker, Wilhelm Bloss, Marx stated: “From my antipathy to any cult of the individual, I never made public during the existence of the International the numerous addresses from various countries which recognized my merits and which annoyed me. I did not even reply to them, except sometimes to rebuke their authors. Engels and I first joined the secret society of Communists on the condition that everything making for superstitious worship of authority would be deleted from its statute. . . .

    The great modesty of the genius of the revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, is known. Lenin had always stressed the role of the people as the creator of history, the directing and organizational role of the party as a living and creative organism, and also the role of the central committee.

    Marxism does not negate the role of the leaders of the workers’ class in directing the revolutionary liberation movement.

    While ascribing great importance to the role of the leaders and organizers of the masses, Lenin at the same time mercilessly stigmatized every manifestation of the cult of the individual, inexorably combated the foreign-to-Marxism views about a “hero” and a “crowd” and countered all efforts to oppose a “hero” to the masses and to the people.

    Lenin taught that the party’s strength depends on its indissoluble unity with the masses, on the fact that behind the party follow the people – workers, peasants and intelligentsia. “Only lie will win and retain the power,” said Lenin, “who believes in the people, who submerges himself in the fountain of the living creativeness of the people.”. . .

    During Lenin’s life the central committee of the party- was a real expression of collective leadership of the party and of the Nation. Being a militant Marxist-revolutionist, always unyielding in matters of principle, Lenin never imposed by force his views upon his coworkers. He tried to convince; he patiently explained his opinions to others. Lenin always diligently observed that the norms of party life were realized, that the party statute was enforced, that the party congresses and the plenary sessions of the central committee took place at the proper intervals.

    In addition to the great accomplishments of V. I. Lenin for the victory of the working class and of the working peasants, for the victory of our party and for the application of the ideas of scientific communism to life, his acute mind expressed itself also in this that lie detected in Stalin in time those negative characteristics which resulted later in grave consequences. Fearing the future fate of the party and of the Soviet nation, V.I. Lenin made a completely correct characterization of Stalin, pointing out that it was necessary to consider the question of transferring Stalin from the position of Secretarv General because of the fact that Stalin is excessively rude, that he does not have a proper attitude toward his comrades, that lie is capricious, and abuses his power. . . .

    Vladimir Ilyich said: “Stalin is excessively rude, and this defect, which can be freely tolerated in our midst and in contacts among us Communists, becomes a defect which cannot be tolerated in one holding the position of the Secretary General. Because of this, I propose that the comrades consider the method by which Stalin would be removed from this position and by which another man would be selected for it, a man, who above all , would differ from Stalin in only one quality, namely, greater tolerance, greater loyalty, greater kindness, and more considerate attitude toward the comrades, a less capricious temper, etc.”.

    As later events have proven, Lenin’s anxiety was justified; in the first period after Lenin’s death Stalin still paid attention to his (i.e., Lenin’s) advice, but, later be began to disregard the serious admonitions of Vladimir Ilyich.

    When we analyze the practice of Stalin in regard to the direction of the party and of the country, when we pause to consider everything which Stalin perpetrated, we must be convinced that Lenin’s fears were justified. The negative characteristics of Stalin, which, in Lenin’s time, were on1v incipient, transformed themselves during the last years into a grave abuse o f power by Stalin, which caused untold harm to our party. . . .

    Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation, and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed this concept or tried to prove his viewpoint, and the correctness of his position-was doomed to removal from the leading collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation. This was especially true during the period following the 17th party congress, when many prominent party leaders and rank-and-file party workers, honest and dedicated to the cause of communism, fell victim to Stalin’s despotism. . . .

    • Stiv
      January 31, 2017 at 00:50

      Thank you for this posting.

  3. delia ruhe
    January 30, 2017 at 18:11

    Thanks, John Chuckman, I think yours is the only way to look at Trump’s, uh, unusual presidency. The only thing stopping him from creating the kind of presidency you describe is Trump’s ego and thin skin. If some lunatic started a birther story about him and kept it up month after month, he would probably waste a lot of energy and time obsessing on it and plotting revenge. And he’s in for a lot more serious attacks than a mere birther fantasy. He’s got brains and energy alright, but he just doesn’t have the temperament.

    C’mon, Donald, make a liar outta me.

  4. January 30, 2017 at 16:53

    BTW, I meant “neocons” as you all well know. I dislike sneaky spelling correction.

  5. January 30, 2017 at 16:49

    We’ve come to this because of a corrupt system where money is everything. I think Sanders could have beat Trump if DNC corruption had not prevailed.

    I have signed the petition to impeach Trump. It seems Steve Bannon is really in charge. Senator Warren has a bill to force Trump to divest of his foreign assets. The GOP may not support it, but if Trump looks more and more unhinged, they may realize he creates insurmountable problems for both the country and world. Pence may not look good with his theocratic and goody two shoes tendencies, but he does have congressional experience and would have the message, if Trump were removed, that a President needs to be careful.

    The money driven two party system, which gave us bad choices, has led to this. I am glad to see people finally spurred to action in demonstrations. We should have been screaming bloody murder when our government was committing bloody murder all along. The protests are what got us out of Vietnam. It is true that protests were limited by the corrupt Bush-Cheney administration, and Obama worked in a stealth way with executive orders for war prompted by Clinton and the neoconservative, but we have got to RESIST now, in every way we can.

  6. January 30, 2017 at 15:56

    I can’t believe that I am reading this on ConsortiumNews. Trump is toxic.

    • J'hon Doe II
      January 30, 2017 at 17:28

      … and, back 2 the future, 1, 2, 3, — ACTION !!!

      Giving War a Chance
      By Robert Parry

      April 21, 2011

      NATO’s one-month intervention in the Libyan civil war has demonstrated that – whether the West likes it or not – Col. Muammar Gaddafi retains significant political support in parts of the country and that a peace deal with him may be the only way to achieve the stated goal of saving civilian lives.

      Meanwhile, back in the United States, the Pentagon continues to devour a large share of each budget dollar even as the gaping federal deficit is forcing cuts in many domestic programs, including nutrition and health care that can mean life-or-death for many Americans.

      >>> So, where do the neoconservative editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times come down? <<<

      Both continue to advocate an expanded U.S. military involvement in Libya while spurning the possibility of a political settlement with Gaddafi’s regime. And the Post rejects the notion of deeper Pentagon spending cuts because it might jeopardize U.S. capabilities for a new war with Iran.

      It seems that the neocons who dominate two of America’s dominant newspapers can’t get enough of “giving war a chance,” an attitude reminiscent of their behavior prior to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

      The editorials of the Post and Times also underscore the fact that despite the worsening U.S. fiscal crisis, Washington’s powerful neocons have not given up their grand scheme for remaking the Middle East by forcing “regime change” in Muslim countries that are considered hostile to Israel.

      For instance, in an April 21 editorial, the Post criticized President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce military-related spending by $400 billion over the next 12 years, roughly doubling the cost-cutting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had previously identified.

      “Reaching Mr. Obama’s goal would probably require cuts in the size of the Army and Marines beyond the reduction of more than 40,000 troops already proposed by Mr. Gates,” the Post wrote. “What will then happen if the United States is forced into more conflicts like those of the past decade — if it must intervene to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon or respond to aggression by North Korea, for example?

  7. J'hon Doe II
    January 30, 2017 at 15:33

    Is Mr. Trump’s aggressive approach to China based upon the US Clash of Civilizations model of American World Domination?
    He’s certainly setting himself up as the Controller of ‘World Order’. Will China buckle under to his dictates or “stand their ground”?

    Have we gifted the world The New (or final) Century Despot? Is he a Fake President meant to be impeached at an early date, or a Golden Haired Dictator who’ll have it all his way and reign death and destruction upon the Asian World, as Samuel P. Huntington forecast?

  8. Herman
    January 30, 2017 at 11:05

    Seems we have to take seriously the assault against Trump, first as a candidate and now as the President. Impeachment is becoming the word that start creeping into conversations. Saw a headline on it this morning. Why? The given reason is Trump’s behavior but is that the reason or is it the swamp people who see him as a threat. Trump has hit so many hot buttons for those in power that together they form almost the entire nexus of power. The military, the intelligence community, the educational establishment, the Cold Warriors, all have been openly threatened and all will respond, not only separately but as coalitions. Whatever the character of a President who takes on these powers, he’s up against it. Saint Francis of Assissi would not be impervious to such attacks and Donald is not a saint.

  9. historicus
    January 30, 2017 at 09:02

    A moral compass and a respect for humanity are on the fairy-tale list of Character Traits of A Beloved Leader but in the real world, come now. A global imperium whose greatest constant throughout its long history is waging murderous aggression against non-whites in order to steal their stuff, their land, or their labor – this type of government requires and has always had leaders who exercise power without conscience or restraint. Meanwhile at home the victims of freedom live in a world in which everything is reduced to a metaphysical battle between good and evil, us versus all others, surrealistic nonsense programmed into them by the religious institutions that serve as the compliance arm of state power.

    Long ago, H.L. Mencken predicted, “[a]s democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” It’s hard to imagine a leader who more effectively mirrors what our global conquests have turned us into than Mr. Trump.

    • Joe J Tedesky
      January 30, 2017 at 09:43

      You are just the person to bounce this off of historicus, today many like to throw the Hitler comparison around a lot, and Trump does rekindle a kind of Mussolini with his bluster in someways, but recently I thought to compare him more to the likes of Henry VIII. The only thing that validates me to compare our petty sociopath president to this 16th century monarch is I watched a few episodes of ‘the Tudor’, but seriously what do you think…is there any comparison?

      What made me think of Henry VIII when analyzing Trump was a picture I saw of him getting out of the limousine and rushing up the White House steps to greet the Obama’s while leaving lonely looking Melanie walking behind the limousine with a gift in hand at least fifteen feet apart from her husband president, and that’s when I thought of the lethal divorcée King Henry.

  10. mohsen shenas
    January 30, 2017 at 01:07

    Seems to me your narrative of Trump is very naive. Trump is a multi billionaires & a dictator. If he really wants to fight terrorism unlike George Bush or Obama then he knows ISIS & Al-Qaida are created by Saudi Arabia & Sunni government such as United Arab Emirates & Qatar and fully founded by these stone aged monarchies but he rather turn his face away from millions of refugees who were created by the USA. His executive orders such as Keystone pipeline & Dakoda access shows his ignorance as to climate denier. He already calls the head of the Zionist government his best friend. They started 2 wars & brace yourself for war world 3. Yeah he’s really a great leader!

  11. January 29, 2017 at 21:43

    What is going on? One has to ask, “Has America Been Saudi-mized”?
    More info at link below:

  12. backwardsevolution
    January 29, 2017 at 19:14

    Mr. Chuckman – great article. “But you cannot round up and deport millions, even if they are illegals, without great adverse consequences. It is a non-starter as an idea. What we have is a situation created by the ineffectiveness of past governments over many years. That is a reality you must accept unless you want to create, to put it mildly, one of the worst public relations fiascos of the century.”

    Interesting to note this article entitled “Obama Has Deported More People Than Any Other President”:

    “How many people have been deported under Obama? President Barack Obama has often been referred to by immigration groups as the ‘Deporter in Chief’. Between 2009 and 2015, his administration has removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, which doesn’t include the number of people who ‘self-deported’ or were turned away and/or returned to their home country at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

    Obama concentrated on criminals, not law-abiding families. This is Trump’s emphasis too, the criminals. No wall is necessary. Trump could simply place a withholding tax on all untaxed money (remittances) heading back to Mexico for family members. He could go after employers (the laws are already on the books) who employ illegals so they can pay lower wages. He could stop the practice of anchor babies. He could end free education/medical benefits (aside from emergencies) to illegals, which put a tremendous burden on these systems.

    If these measures were put in place, there would be no need to “round” anyone up. They would simply turn around and go back home.

    NAFTA needs to be ended. Mexico is getting shafted. That’s why the poor Mexican people end up coming north. The U.S. multinationals went into Mexico and bought up their land, forcing the Mexican farmers off their land. This needs to stop. There is no reason why Mexico couldn’t have a thriving economy, growing corn, vegetables and fruit, building tourism, industry.

    The only reason they’re coming north is because they are being squeezed.

    • Joe J Tedesky
      January 30, 2017 at 00:51

      Thank goodness backwardsevolution that you think through these things, because a lot of people don’t. I must tip my hat to you, for the honest display of hope and faith you give our new president. I also sense that you will be fair in your assessments of this newly inaugurated president when, and if the issue demands your criticism. The way you roughed out our border problem left barely a stone unturned.

      It appears, maybe due to misinformation, that many Americans end up blaming all the wrong people, for all the wrong reasons. Such as this ban on seven Middle East countries, that have not had any involvement with America’s terror attacks. In your comment you mentioned NAFTA, and American employers, who by the way advertise job openings in America aimed at these south of the border neighbors of ours, and that never gets any mention in any American conversation about these unwanted illegals.

      The world is wrestling with tons of problems, and it’s only get worst by the day, but no one will admit that although we have shipped all our jobs overseas that when it comes to what ills the world a lot of it is ‘America Made’.

  13. Bill Bodden
    January 29, 2017 at 16:33

    This article continues a theme of what appears to be wishful thinking by other authors and commenters that some good will come out of Trump’s presidency. Human nature being what it is, some good is possible, but it more likely will be an infrequent exception instead of the rule.

    The chance for greatness is not something offered every leader. The opportunity requires both a set of extremely adverse circumstances and an exceptional person in power who overcomes them.

    That “exceptional person” will also require a moral compass steering him (or her) in the right direction and a respect for the humanity of others. If Trump has a moral compass and respect for others it is far from obvious. Strike One.

    It is already clear that Trump has the strengths required – immensely energetic and hard-working, absolutely not intimidated by a powerful and pervasive establishment, and a surprisingly resourceful mind.

    His “strengths” all too often are characterized by brutishness. He stood up to hecklers at his rallies. That could have given him credit for strength had it not been for encouraging supporters to rough up hecklers and his making fun of a good and decent man suffering from a neurological disorder. Strike Two.

    I would certainly add Trump’s words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a “Marine’s Marine” on such topics?

    This paragraph is getting into BS territory. Trump has demonstrated what appears to be, in layman’s understanding of the term, a pathological enthusiasm for watching physical violence inflicted on people. He reportedly decried changes in NFL rules to reduce violent force being inflicted by one player against another. According to someone who read one of Trump’s books there was the suggestion of getting aggressive revenge against any opponent who got the better of a deal. As for Trump telling “the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America” that was a way of informing his lesser enlightened followers he shared and encouraged their crude and barbaric tendencies. Strike Three.

    And I’m only halfway through this apology for Trump..

    • H. E. Parmer
      January 29, 2017 at 19:34

      This. A thousand times this.

    • Sam F
      January 29, 2017 at 20:16

      I would give Mr. Parry credit for trying to keep the lines of communication open at this point. Whacking Trump before the situation has stabilized may seem warranted to many, but precludes influence and good counsel merely for the sake of an early judgment. There are plenty of angry people who have jumped to such conclusions, who will not be discouraged by cautious words here. So nothing is lost by commenters reserving judgment for the first few months, while expressing the foreboding at the very ominous signs.

      After all, it would be a better four years with a cartoonish opposition, if that is the case, than with scientific propagandizing.

    • Joe J Tedesky
      January 30, 2017 at 00:26

      On another comment I said to how I give every new president the benefit of the doubt. I said how at this particular moment in time I am allowing my decisions regarding our new president, an era of grace, but… To the devoted Trump supporter who grinch at any criticism or protest directed against Trump I must tell you how surprised I am at how thin skinned you all are proving out to be, and how you are no better than the Obama ‘snowflakes’ (your word not mine) of 2009.

      Back in 2008 when suddenly what should appear on our tv screens, propped up very nicely by our illustrious MSM was the TeaParty. Many claim that the TeaParty Revolution was patriotically responding to CNBC’s Rick Santelli who had had a canary on the aire over Obama’s Mortage Bailout. At that time, there were no calm debates, or any benefit of the doubts given to this new president, only chants from these TeaPartiers to how they ‘wanted their country back’. Any suspension that this chant was code for race baiting a biracial president, was answered with a smirk and a comment to how ‘I’m only talking about his white side, haha’. Nice, let’s show the world just how stupid, and ignorant we all are, because this president was born in Kenya anyway, so it’s okay. We were off to a good start, not!

      Who will ever forget Mitch McConnel’s R-Kentucky announcement ‘that the GOP will doing everything in it’s power to make sure Barack Obama is a one term president. Where was the outrage from the GOP side of the aisle when Rep. Joe Wilson R-South Carolina yelled ‘you lie’ interrupting President Obama during his health care speech. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, wore a sign around his neck that said, “What bill?” And when Obama asked Republicans to share their health reform ideas with him, a small group raised up a stack of papers above their heads. Where was the bipartisanship?

      Outside of the many things that would take all night to list here, there was a New York real estate casino magnate who raised the question of Obama’s citizenship. Trump never let up on his query over Obama’s legitimacy until late in his 2016 presidential run for the White House….and with Trump’s long overdue admission of Obama being born in America this future American president was ever so reluctant, and weak at that to give his predecessor any legitimacy.

      So now we should all fall down for the great one. Don’t be fooled, yes his mentioning détente with Putin is wonderful, because we do need a better relationship with the world, so let’s start with Russia. Trump’s trashing the TPP agreement, and his making threats against NAFTA, is like music to the working persons ears. This much I will eagerly give him.

      From time to time Trump throws out some good ideas, but with his bombastic nature coupled with his supreme judgement that he likes to let you know he has a beautiful abundance of, makes him a real danger. People below him have to implement his orders, and just by his words and with the lower levels interpretation that this loudmouth president displays makes me nervous just to think of what may come out of one his pronouncements. Often the troops hear one thing over the other thing, so let’s hope the comprehension levels are tuned in well, while implementing President Trumps directives…this immigration debacle may certainly be a sign of more to come, let’s hope not.

      I seriously will applaud him when something he does makes sense to me, but so far inside the 9 days of his presidency and as of my writing this I’m not expecting anything more than a more divided country, and a leader who thinks he’s king.

  14. Zachary Smith
    January 29, 2017 at 15:06

    White House: Bannon to sit on top National Security Council group

    The president’s Chief Strategist is to join the “Principals Committee”, which includes the secretary of state and defense. Part of the move also removes the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from regularly attending that group.

    January 29, 2017 —The White House on Sunday said the addition of President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to regular meetings of the country’s top national security officials was essential to the commander in chief’s decision-making process.

    Whoever caused this to happen isn’t acting in Donald Trump’s best interest. Not even if that person was Trump himself. If this turns out to be true and not Fake News, it’s flat-out stupid.

    • H. E. Parmer
      January 29, 2017 at 16:41

      The implication is quite clear: Bannon is consolidating power. And if you know anything about that man’s history, that should be frankly terrifying.

      With this action, and the administration telling the Judicial Branch to pound sand on the hold placed the law-breaking Executive Order Trump just issued banning Muslims — except for the Good Ones, from those majority-Muslim countries which do business with Trump — from entering the U.S., it is no longer possible to deny that this nation has taken giant steps toward a dictatorship. (As well as abandoning any pretense at human decency.) I just don’t see any other way to slice it, when you’re dealing with a bunch that pumps out lies (excuse me: “alternative facts”) like a firehose cranked up to “11”, has threatened the media for calling bullshit on its lies, locked up journalists, and now has made it crystal clear that they feel themselves above the law.

      Did you catch Kellyanne Conway’s insane excuse for ignoring the hold? “The judge was appointed by a Democrat!” The only way to take this is that they are hell-bent on undermining the only remaining branch of government which might act as a check on the power wielded by this petulant, ignorant, morally-crippled man-child and his deplorables.

      I know you weren’t one of them (love the nym, btw — oh, the pain …) but when I recall all the useful idiots here who were bleating “Hitlery” all during the campaign, I have to wonder how they reconcile that with the actions so far of the man they helped elect. Look, people, if you’re going to smash a system you should have given some thought to what’s likely to replace it. This is just as true for the U.S. as Syria. And I guarantee you, the neocons are not the only source of bad foreign policy and warmongering in our elites. Trump isn’t dismantling the Security State, he’s rebooting it as a frankly partisan entity.

      • Zachary Smith
        January 29, 2017 at 17:30

        Trump needs to reevaluate the presence of that Conway person. She must think that because the US Senate got away with lawlessness in spitting on the Constitution she can do the same. Regarding that executive order:

        Headline: “Trump’s executive order: Amateur hour at the White House?”

        Quote: “Mr Trump’s Friday afternoon executive order reportedly was crafted without consulting legal aides and enacted over the objection of homeland security officials, who balked at including permanent US residents in the ban.”

        I know I’m repeating myself, but this is just plain dumb. Trump is now President, and he’s got to start acting more responsibly. Failing that, he’s not going to be around for long, and we’ll be hailing President Mike Pence.

        • H. E. Parmer
          January 29, 2017 at 18:32

          And I repeat: What, in all of Trump’s history, makes you think he is capable of acting responsibly? Dickens to the contrary, at 70, few people are able to truly change their ways. Remember that the presidency doesn’t alter who you are, it magnifies it.

          • Zachary Smith
            January 29, 2017 at 20:35

            If you are truly as pessimistic as you claim to be, prepare yourself for President Michael Richard Pence.

          • H. E. Parmer
            January 30, 2017 at 02:02

            I come by my pessimism honestly. Mostly because every time I think I’m being too pessimistic, events prove I wasn’t being pessimistic enough. The problem isn’t just Trump or Pence, but a habit of thought.

      • John
        January 30, 2017 at 01:22

        As one of those people who refer to the (painstakingly earned) title of Hitlery for Drumpf’s opponent in the elections, I would like to remind you that the “ban” signed is only against Syria, and the rest of the banned countries were banned by Obama.

        What, exactly, has the Big Cheeto done that is so venal, that would not have been done by the Goldwater Girl? The difference here is that, when Mr. Tribblehead does the same thing the Queen of Chaos would, he is being opposed by mass demonstrations.

        If it is his racism you deplore, then you should hate Ms. Superpredator, who collaborated to create the end of welfare, the Mass Incarceration State, the neocolonial invasion of Africa, the looting of Haiti and support of a repressive regime there after the US kidnapping of Aristide, the coup against Honduras and the refusal of aslyum to children escaping the mess she created, NAFTA and mass deportations, etc ad nauseum.

        If it is Agent Orange’s denial of anthropogenic climate change that upsets you, is this any worse than acknowledging it, yet using State Department funds to promote fracking, bragging about building more pipelines than any other administration, promoting the myth of “clean coal”, and pushing to prevent any new environmental law from ever being possible through the ISDS sections in TPP, NAFTA, etc?

        If it is Donny Tinyhand’s predilection for torture that offends you, then Ilsa Clinton, the Bitch of the Beltway, should infuriate you with both being an accessory to torture that has already happened (as opposed to being hypothetically in the future), with her aiding and abbetting the most inhuman torturers on the planet, whether in Saudi Arabia, Israel, or her beloved Salafist rebels in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

        If it is the Misogyny of the Pussy Grabber that upsets you, you must loathe a woman who refers to her serial rapist husband’s victims as a “bimbo explosion”.

        Had the Dimocrats not rigged the primaries to prevent what they saw as the Greater Evil from entering the General Election, or if they had not promoted the Pied Piper candidate at the same time, we would not be talking about President Rump.

        From the onset, I and others told anyone we could that there was NO WAY we would support a Ecocidal Corporatist (aka Fascist) War Criminal. The all-knowing DNC apparently thought we were bluffing.

        But, hey, it’s good to see you now oppose all the policies that you stood for as a Hitlery supporter, now that they are no longer carrying your preferred brand label.

        (By the way, if you haven’t noticed, your party’s senators are, by and large, voting for all the Reality TV President’s appointees. You really ought to clean up your party before you start blaming those of us with integrity because your party couldn’t get the people your party fucked over for decades to vote for more of the same.

        • Skip Scott
          January 31, 2017 at 08:40

          Amen John! I am sick of people apologizing or excusing all the evils of the Obama/Clinton regimes. We should have a President Sanders today, but thanks to the utter corruption of the DNC, we have the Donald.
          I wish the DNC would look itself in the mirror instead of flailing about blaming the “evil Russians”.

  15. Zachary Smith
    January 29, 2017 at 13:45

    One important challenge ahead for Trump is for him to get better advisers. Or at the very least, more of them. As things stand now he will be led around by the nose by people with an agenda, and unless he has carefully checked with other experts about the risks of this or that policy or project, he risks falling into the quagmire Kennedy did with the Bay of Pigs.

    Headline: US service member killed in first Trump terror raid

    I’ve got to ask myself what the US was doing in Yemen in the first place? And how carefully this raid was planned and operated. The neocons will gladly give Trump all kinds of projects where he will likely end up with egg on his face. Resentment from the failures and more general worries about what the hell he was doing in the first place will play well in future Remove Trump operations.

    • H. E. Parmer
      January 29, 2017 at 15:28

      “One important challenge ahead for Trump is for him to get better advisers.”

      If you can tell me how a man with an ego so fragile that he had to lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and by all indications believes — without a shred of evidence — that 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast and he actually won the popular vote, would be capable of choosing advisors who won’t cater to that ego, I’d sure like to hear it. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick: It was clear long before he even sought the nomination that Trump will only surround himself with sycophants and incompetents whose sole qualification for their positions is a willingness to tell him he’s the smartest, most good-looking, awesomest human being to ever walk the planet.

      He was absolutely ripe for the plucking by the white supremacists and would-be theocrats now running the Executive

      • Zachary Smith
        January 29, 2017 at 15:34

        I can’t dispute a thing you say, but the alternative to Trump was a person named Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. That led to a Lose/Lose situation, and voters were stuck with deciding which was worse. They may have guessed wrong, but that remains to be seen.

        • H. E. Parmer
          January 29, 2017 at 19:34

          As I’ve stated here on several occasions, I am no friend of the Clintons, and absolutely loathe the leadership that helped bring us to this pass with their own special brand of fecklessness and timidity. Obviously, it’s hard to prove a hypothetical, but you’ll still have to excuse me if, short of nuking the Kremlin, I have a bit of difficulty comprehending how Hillary Clinton could have topped just this first week for evil and authoritarian fuckup-ery.

          I’m just not convinced that trading in pretty much everything that made this a decent country to live in on the off chance that Russia might get pushed too far was that great a deal. And thank you, I am a child of the Cold War, and know quite well what it’s like to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation.

          The contest was between a bog-standard, uncharismatic politician and an obvious fraud who demonstrated his total unfitness for the office every time he opened his mouth, whether by temperament, experience or intelligence. If he hadn’t won the genetic lottery and had a mega-rich daddy to bail him out of his stupid decisions, he’d be lucky to be scraping along running penny-ante grifts on widows and orphans. Probably as a Bible salesman. (Remember all the commenters here who assured us Trump was a secret social liberal, and would surround himself with good advisors, or would be restrained by the GOP establishment? How’s that working out for you, guys?)

          The only way anyone could have viewed this election as some kind of equally balanced lose/lose situation was to be stunningly ignorant of who Trump is and what he represents — I assume they would have to have been living in a fallout shelter, entirely cut off from modern communications. Otherwise, they’re basically all right with the racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, lies, corruption, batshit conspiracy theories and as noted below, gleeful sadism. Sadly, there was a big enough minority of voters — along with an archaic electoral contraption originally designed to keep the slave-holding states happy, and effectively mean some votes count more than others — to put him in office, who by all indications were just that.

          There is no “remains to be seen” left to hide behind any more. What we’re seeing is what we’re going to get. This wasn’t a mistake by the voters, but a deliberate rejection of sanity and human decency.

          • Sam F
            January 29, 2017 at 20:04

            There was no sanity or human decency on the other side either. Endless wars and lies and bribery. It was indeed a “lose/lose situation” for all but the insiders of the Dems or Reps. The choice was a Clinton foreign policy disaster or a Trump domestic policy disaster that might swing the pendulum back left of the Dems.

          • Zachary Smith
            January 29, 2017 at 20:26

            I have a bit of difficulty comprehending how Hillary Clinton could have topped just this first week for evil and authoritarian fuckup-ery.

            How about establishment of a “no-fly” zone in Syria, and finalizing of the TPP treaty?

            So far Trump has been embarrassing, but I can handle that better than imminent fallout or corporate governance.

          • H. E. Parmer
            January 30, 2017 at 01:46

            There was no sanity or human decency on the other side either.

            Oh, bullshit. There is stupidity, corruption and timidity on the Democratic side, too, because we live in a stupid, corrupt and timid society. And in many respects, an insane one.

            But seriously, “no … human decency on the other side”? Funny thing, but last I checked, there was a marked dearth of Republicans raising hell about the Muslim ban.

            The choice was a Clinton foreign policy disaster or a Trump domestic policy disaster that might swing the pendulum back left of the Dems.

            I think it’s remarkably optimistic to believe Team Trump doesn’t have plenty of foreign policy disasters in store for us, too. For starters, they’ve just needlessly handed ISIL and every other Muslim extremist group the best recruiting tool imaginable. It’s beyond nuts to believe a saner, gentler foreign policy will be the outcome of surrendering your government to an autocracy, particularly one that’s run by right wing extremists.

            As for swinging the pendulum, well, good luck with that. Though I have to tell you, judging from the way things have gone in the past with actual societies composed of, you know, real human beings, the odds don’t appear particularly encouraging on that one. Germany, Italy and Japan didn’t rid themselves of fascism. And none of them had nuclear weapons.

            Personally, I wish you’d chosen another country to put your political theories to the proof. Like, one that wasn’t profoundly ignorant, armed to the teeth and possessed of surveillance capabilities that would have made the Stasi cream its jeans.

          • Peter Loeb
            January 30, 2017 at 08:38

            “… What we’re seeing is what we’re going to get. ”

            America assumed that it was number ONE in everything and
            its WWII policies and post WWII policies expressed this view.
            These assumptions are still core beliefs of many Americans

            Most cannot understand why the US is no longer number ONE.
            Perhaps by the numbers (military) but no longer in power
            (diplomatic), the quality of life it affords its people etc.

            Campaign rhetoric is to be expected on all sides and in all

            Basically, the US must adjust to being just another (albeit
            vital) player.

            The US will never be the manufacturing center it thinks it
            was, That just will not happen, period.

            The US will continue to murder others in the world and
            assist other nations such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and
            others to do likewise.

            And if/when we sink under the sea, well we will have
            to cope as best we can. Alone, perhaps.

            And so on and so forth….

            These unpleasant (for Americans) facts of life will
            obtain not only for Donald J. Trump but
            for future Presidents and their administrations as
            well, no matter what party.

            —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

          • Sam F
            January 30, 2017 at 08:47

            Agreed, H E Palmer, I was referring to the Dems as the “other side.”

            As to foreign policy disasters, we all know that Clinton believed in them, promised them, and had delivered several times on a large scale, whereas Trump at least didn’t want to pay for them. That’s more evidence than we can expect in an election of oligarchy shills.

            A pendulum swing back is very likely because Trump supporters wanted to drain the DC swamp and he is not likely to do much of that. The fact that there is neofacism here does not change that, and it would be difficult to argue that there is no swing back, as Germany is now the only place where facism is illegal.

            It would be an error to expect that the hypothetically slightly lesser of two execrable evils would be good. No one here has argued that, or that any minimum level of evil is to be expected. So I think it is quite fair to say that the apparent choice was between a definite Clinton foreign policy disaster or a definite Trump domestic policy disaster that might swing the pendulum back left of the Dems. Liberal supporters of Clinton v. Trump differ only because they were offered only wrongs and perceived the other one as slightly worse. There is no difference of basic principles among them, and those who denounce the others fall into the right wing trap.

          • David
            January 30, 2017 at 10:23

            Jeez people. It has bee less than two weeks, he has basically done one thing, two if you count the pipelines.

            Can we at least give the man a chance to fail before we determine he is a failure?

          • John G.
            February 1, 2017 at 17:28

            You are spot on. The truth is Humans are not really rational, we rationalize instead.

      • MQuilt
        February 9, 2017 at 02:23

        So true.

  16. Zachary Smith
    January 29, 2017 at 13:32

    I would certainly add Trump’s words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a “Marine’s Marine” on such topics?

    Clever? All the indications I can locate suggest this is a sincere belief of Mr. Trump. Headline from 2015:

    Donald Trump on waterboarding: ‘Even if it doesn’t work they deserve it’

    That is simply blatant lawlessness.

    Mattis opposes torture? Hardly – here is the quote:

    ” He said — I was surprised — he said, “I’ve never found it to be useful.” He said, “I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.””

    Mr. Trump may not be quoting Mattis correctly, but if he is the implication is that Mattis has done both and found sweet talk works best. But what if Mattis runs into a stubborn non-smoker & non-drinker? I don’t see any kind of reassuring firewall here.

    This essay was an over-the-top defense of Donald Trump, and I wonder if this isn’t among the reasons. It’s a quote from Mr. Chuckman’s blog.

    I don’t in the least doubt that climate change is occurring, but I rather doubt we are responsible for it, and I doubt even more that we can seriously alter it with deliberate plans of global scope. Such schemes resemble too much the old Soviet grand engineering schemes of the 1960s for altering rainfall in a region or for altering the course of vast rivers. Global engineering is potentially quite dangerous.

    But I suppose I can’t expect a Big Oil man to be critical of Donald Trump’s ignorance on climate. It’s a stance which mirrors his own.

  17. Wm. Boyce
    January 29, 2017 at 13:13

    “Donald Trump now has an opportunity for greatness, more so than any politician I can recall. He is faced with huge problems, many of the them the work of the failed Obama, and they are more than just any set of problems, for they involve the deaths and misery of millions and the risks of an international nuclear holocaust.”

    Is this guy kidding? The Wash. Post reported yesterday that Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants from “terrorist” countries doesn’t include countries with which he’s doing business:

    This includes Turkey and Saudi Arabia. No terrorists there, right?

    Tammany Hall is going to be made to look small by the corruption that’s already in progress with this new administration.

    • Peter Loeb
      January 30, 2017 at 08:23


      Or are many simply paying for this “opportunity for greatness” with
      the deaths on the street of US blacks, with the murder and
      extermination policies of the Israeli government against Palestinians
      (and others), with the economic crisises of most Americans due
      to economic inequality, layoffs, etc???

      It is indeed sad to read such words with no feeling about the
      pain most of us (without a Lexus) know both in the US and

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • MQuilt
      February 9, 2017 at 01:37

      Finally, sanity! Thank you.

  18. D5-5
    January 29, 2017 at 13:11

    I believe an analysis here on consortium news of what the DNC hack/leak revealed plus specifics in the pay-for-play Clinton Foundation would be much appreciated. The frantic nature of the Clinton response to cover up these revelations ushered in the hysteria of Trump-Putin bashing which has seriously clouded the political scene in terms of what many (a majority?) of Americans still believe. Further, why did Sanders respond so meekly to what was revealed in the leaks, since obviously the fix was in against him clear back to prior to the California primary?

    • Andy
      February 3, 2017 at 11:20

      Re: Sanders

      I’ve long wondered that myself. I was fired up for Bernie, even going so far as to twice send him $ that, in retrospect, I could have put to better use elsewhere. But he lost me when he put on kid gloves where a mailed fist was required, serving up a eunuchle sandwich not just regarding the Clinton Foundation but Hillary’s fealty to Wall Street, her bloodthirstiness, her and Bill’s general sleaziness, and the galaxy of DNC machinations that in all likelihood cost him the nomination and ultimately gave us you know who. Harking back to a saying from my military days, it was like he came out half-stepping when he should have been double-timing.

      It may be something else, but I have several theories – they had something on him and threatened him with exposure (or worse); they bought him off; or perhaps he was never serious about his run to begin with.

  19. Joe J Tedesky
    January 29, 2017 at 12:35

    If our current two national parties were our two family cars, I would scrap them each, and go buy a horse.

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