Making Sense of Trump/Bannon: February 2, 2017

Odds and ends are the call of the day. Think of these are pieces to read if you're looking for details about a specific topic. But also 

Foreign Policy/Terrorism/Etc.

Not even sure how to group these categories. It's impossible separate them. However.

Iran, situation with. Here's a good basic introduction. 

The "Iran on Notice" happenings. I also included this report because a) it's solid reporting; and b) it includes background information about Michael Flynn.

Flynn is, shall we say, probably not the best choice for National Security Advisor. He arrived in the White House with a whole lotta baggage, not least the fact that he'd recently been fired by President Obama.

Finally, this piece from McClatchyDC offers considerable political/expert context.  

The is important stuff. Steve Bannon has always been clear about his willingness to use the most extreme option. He and DT are currently probing, pushing, figuring out how to use the power they have. Pay attention. This is what's gonna get us killed.

Related tidbits:

Bannon/Trump plan to rename and reorganize an existing federal program.  "Countering Violent Extremism" will become "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism." This is a project to identify and stop domestic terrorism: Islamic, white nationalist (think guys in Montana with lots of guns), anarchists, etc. 

I gather the idea is to make the program more efficient. Congress is on board. Presumably we will soon have an oversight office aimed specifically at Muslims. Worth reading this short piece from Reuters, if only for the details and background.

File the following under "Laugh? Or Cry? You Be the Judge."

Or maybe "You Can't Make This Shit Up"? 

Details of Trump's phone call yesterday to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. There are a number of versions of what was actually said floating around out there. The link leads to the most even-handed I could find. 

DT's phone call yesterday to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Again, based on reading multiple sources, this is an accurate report on what happened. 

Here's how the SB/DT White House sees this stuff. 



Lots of attention to Congress at the moment in part because of the confirmation process. By now, you've heard the phrase "nuclear option." Here's what it is.

Now that you understand the nuclear option, this essay is absolutely worth your time and effort

Read the whole thing, and then ask yourself: What would you do? What do you think is right? And then, I dunno, call your senators? No matter which you option you favor, this is when your voice can matter.

I'll throw the Supreme Court stuff in here. If you're following that topic, this is worth reading re Gorsuch. (My take, to be honest, is: A judge is gonna do what a judge is gonna do. And we won't know what that is until it happens.) (Of MUCH more importance at the moment is whether the Senate is going to roll over and let Steve Bannon execute his plan, organize a parallel government, or not.)

Big Picture/Context

No surprise, my fascination with the "big picture" continues.

I am not a historian of or expert in the histories and politics of "isms" and authoritarianism. I have, however, done a deep dive since the election. Again: I'm not one for hyperbole, but the Bannon/Trump/Congress as Doormate combination is genuinely frightening. Don't think it can't happen here. It can. 

This piece from the New York Times looks at current dictators around the world, and how B/T will likely fare in terms of relationships with them.

Global trade or lack thereof: One undeniable fact about Trump/Bannon is that they've already upended the global balance of power. If you were Mexico, wouldn't you be looking around for a better "big friend"? Like China? Or Russia? If you're, say, Germany, T/B maneuvering is already affecting your country. Anyway: a solid survey of the basics, in this case by using trade as the lens for upheaval.

Emoluments: Face it, you wanna know, right? Here's a short, useful take. Bottom line: Don't get too excited. (Weirdly, at the moment our friend Flynn is the one person who probably is in violation of the emoluments clause. Fine by me.) 

Executive orders and immigration: The initial mess remains what it was: A mess. Another court order on Tuesday, staying execution of order.