It is disturbing that the news is all Russia all the time

I agree that the administration’s Russian connection ought to be pursued, but I am not happy that that is being treated as the primary reason to delegitimize Donald Trump. The man is a destructive incompetent with a fist full of bad policies, and the most effective way to bring him down is to expose the fact that his campaign staff talked to the Russian ambassador? What? Have you looked at what he is doing to the country right now? Because there is a whole lot of crap going down while we’re busy looking for Russians under the bed.

For instance, look at his proposed budget for the EPA.

  • Puget Sound. Funding for restoration work in the country’s second-largest estuary would be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
  • The Great Lakes. Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes would be cut from $300 million to $10 million.
  • The Chesapeake Bay. Funding for restoration in the country’s largest estuary would be cut from $73 million to $5 million.
  • Research on endocrine disruptors. The EPA’s work studying chemicals that can interfere with the body’s reproductive and developmental systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.
  • Diesel emissions. Since 2008, the EPA has issued grants to accelerate the country’s transition from old, dirty diesel engines to cleaner burning trucks and equipment. They’ve been responsible for most of Oregon’s progress in addressing cancer-causing diesel soot, a major air pollution source.
  • Beach water quality testing. The EPA spends about $9.5 million to fund state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country. In Oregon, it funds state testing during the summer. That would be eliminated.
  • The U.S.-Mexico border. Sewage and garbage from Mexico frequently sweeps into San Diego during winter rainstorms. The EPA has funded work there to slow the flood of garbage into the Pacific Ocean. Its program to address problems like that would be cut from $3 million to $275,000.
  • Environmental education. The EPA spends $8.7 million annually on programs to educate children. Spending on them would be cut to $555,000.

Meanwhile, he’s increasing the bloated defense budget by 10%, and covering that by cutting other programs, like education.

These are standard Republican policies. Are we planning to rely on finding Russian connections in order to get rid of bad stewards of our country’s resources forevermore? Because you know that most of the Republican congress is going to be untainted by Russians, but is still going to be promoting these same bad ideas.

There is no single reason to rise up and throw these assholes out — they’ve provided an embarrassment of causes that make them terrible leaders, which is part of the problem, that the reasons for taking action have been diffused so widely. It seems to me that our targeting is off when conversations with Russian diplomats become the strongest reason for investigating the president, rather than his habit of appointing incompetents and looters like DeVos and Pruitt to run major government agencies.


  1. Zeppelin says

    I’m concerned by the way mainstream US Liberalism seems to be picking up the “Russia is our deadly enemy” narrative right the moment the Republicans are forced to drop it because of Trump’s connections. Stephen Colbert called Russia “America’s number one enemy” in a recent show…it may be tactically useful in making Trump look bad, but is there really such a dearth of dirt on the man that they need to slip back into Cold War narratives?

  2. multitool says

    The problem is that destroying America is legal, while conspiring with foreigners to win an election is not.

    So we are stuck nailing Al Capone on tax evasion.

    This is obviously something wrong with the system. Legitimacy should be based on the body counts of your decisions first and foremost.

  3. methuseus says

    multitool @2 has it right:

    Democrats are trying to get him on something more concrete than “policy differences” with the Republicans. It’s kind of like how former Scientologists get their cases thrown out because the things they are suing over are “matters of doctrine”. They have to find something that’s an edge case they can actually get prosecuted, even though the other things are more horrible.

  4. erichoug says

    Chigau @#5 Yeah, sure look how well that last election went. I mean the Republicans now control all three branches of the national government and they will be sure to rule with their patented combination of paranoia, racism and religious fanaticism.

    It’s better for everyone after all. We the people apparently don’t like reality, secularism or diversity. So we elected a government to get rid of all that and also to put certain people “wink, wink” back into certain closets. YAY! A victory for Democracy.

    We elect Judges. It doesn’t get much more stupid than that.

  5. Sastra says

    Bottom line, the same ghastly Republican policies will continue whether it’s Trump or Pence at the helm. They’re not going to get anyone kicked out of office. Our best hope for preventing or repealing them will be upcoming elections, I think.

    President Trump, however, has unique problems. He’s volatile, impulsive, temperamental, vindictive, pig ignorant, and completely unqualified for any political position, let alone one which has the capacity to start off a war. Pence may be evil, but he’s apparently more even keel and likely to seek out advice from people who know what they’re doing. Pence can read. Trump– he likes tv.

  6. numerobis says

    But his Russians…

    The US press fails hard at journalism. Some journalists do a great job digging stuff up, but the organisation is unable to synthesize any meaning out of the data.

  7. Zeppelin says

    erichdoug: But elections are DEMOCRATIC! Do you HATE DEMOCRACY? The fact that other countries don’t elect judges is just further evidence that the US are THE MOST FREEST, DEMOCRATICEST EVER.

    (Seriously though, that’s the response I tend to get when I suggest that perhaps professionals in highly specialised fields should be promoted based on expertise, not their ability to pander to the general public).

    That said: the US are an oligarchic empire, so it’s not fair to lay their failures at the feet of “democracy” in general. That’s like trying to discredit socialism by pointing to Stalin’s Soviet Union.

  8. Zeppelin says

    …wait, how’d that “d” get into your username. I swear I’ve typed it half a dozen times before without incident…

  9. erichoug says

    Zeppelin @#10. I think it is fair to say that the US system is completely broken and probably beyond repair.

    I would rather go with a parliamentary system with a prime minister and representation based on direct voting for particular parties. That tends to weed out the crazies on both ends of the spectrum,but only when you have more than 2 parties. And the more the better. I was just up in Canadia and they have 5 parties so nearly every government is some combination of those 5 rather than 1 party rule which is essentially what we have.

    P.S. don’t worry about the name, everyone gets it wrong anyway.

  10. multitool says

    The only problem with democracy is that there’s not enough of it.

    Nobody’s actually suggesting that dictatorships are more progressive, right?

  11. dhabecker says

    You need bad guys, dudes, to warrant increasing the military Entitlement budget. Seeing Russia as the bad guys supports whose agenda?
    The US has 19 aircraft carriers with 10 being nuclear powered plus 2 undergoing sea trials and 7 more ordered. The only other nuclear carrier is French; they have a total of 4. The Russians have 1, China 1
    Trump just made a ‘deal’ on 100 plus f-35’s at about 125 million each. Nuclear weapons? We indeed have the best and we still have the capability to kill every one of us stupid bastards many times over.
    Oh; that water I’m drinking is polluted? At least I don’t have to share it with some foreigner.
    Speaking of foreigners; where are the foreign tourists? We’re loosing billions because of the asshole!

  12. Zeppelin says

    multitool: Well, democracy is great and all, but it’s no panacaea. Not ever decision is best made democratically — there’s a reason we don’t elect nuclear safety engineers. In fact the more complex society becomes, the less of it becomes amenable to direct democracy and the more intermediates and experts you need. Sometimes you don’t need more democracy, you need more accountability.
    I’d say the main virtue of democracy, even the flawed oligarchic sort we tend to get, is that it enables a peaceful transfer of power, which is extremely valuable. I’m not as convinced that it necessarily always provides the best or most “progressive” governance on a per-decision basis.

    PS: I had to exercise great restraint to write “panacaea” up there and not “multitool” :v

  13. tomh says

    “I’m not as convinced that it necessarily always provides the best or most “progressive” governance on a per-decision basis.”

    Who ever claimed that it did?

  14. Zeppelin says

    tomh: Multitool did, kind of? I read it as implied when you say that “the only problem with democracy is that there’s not enough of it”. There are plenty of problems with democracy, one of which is that it can lead to poor policy when you involve the general public in decisions they lack the knowledge to assess.

  15. numerobis says

    erichoug: Canada has five parties in the federal parliament, but only two have formed government, and two of the others have each once risen to official opposition (despite one of them being a regional party — that was weird). There’s also the occasional independent.

    There has never been a coalition government in parliament. There have been a few minority governments, particularly lately, but they did not form coalitions.

  16. markgisleson says

    While everyone’s arguing about Russia, the DNC just released the Chair ballots for inspection. Some people can see them for one hour in one room and you can’t take pictures.

    DNC rules require public ballots. This is not public. 100% of Perez’s officers are Clintonites (Ellison got a ‘special’ job that didn’t exist before and has no power). There will never be an autopsy of why we lost, just more email requests for more donations.

    You’re being played. You’ve been played for decades now. The people running the Democratic party (like Reagan) say all the right things, but never seem to get anything done. By design.

    The Democratic party: It’s only for chumps. Don’t fear Russia, fear the people who claim to fear Russia. The Venn diagram overlap between them and opposition to a $15/hr min wage is 100%.

  17. rickeyemiller says

    I conducted a scientific probability poll (SPP) of nearly the entire population of the guys I drink beer with, including the waitresses, the sharks in the pool tournament and the public coming in for Thursday “Wing Night” and Behold! The Majority, much more than 50%, verbally support ALL Trump is doing, feel a certain satisfaction that the “liberals” are going off the deep end, and see absolutely NO comparison with how conservatives behaved toward Obama for 8 solid years. 1/2 of US are convinced we want this, we embrace this and those who are making it happen. 1/2 of US are American Citizens, but so are the other 1/2 of US, American Citizens. Out of many nations, One Nation. Out of many people, One People. “e pluribus Unum”, a slogan. I’m leaning toward the side of just letting the winners get on with their great ideas, since they won and we didn’t. Getting all shook up and bent out of shape about the actions of an American Citizen, elected to be our President by American Citizens in a free, relatively honest polling, is becoming quite unfitting to me. Did I consider the advertised actions of Republicans/conservatives during 8 years of Obama to be anything NEAR emulation worthy behavior? Or anything CLOSE to justified by circumstances?

  18. says

    appointing incompetents is not illegal. What Flynn, for way of example, quite possibly violated the Logan act. That’s the difference.

  19. numerobis says

    Democracy means let the GOP run the country after winning both legislatures and the presidency despite winning a minority of the votes cast in each of them.

    And it means don’t complain when the government actually does stuff you don’t like — that’s exactly like complaining about things that are literally impossible, or are proven to be fake.

    Thanks rickeyemiller, I had it all wrong!

  20. brett says

    The Russian connection could be something that could get Trump impeached . . . at least hypothetically (in practice, I don’t think Republicans will vote to impeach him). The domestic dangers of his administration do not offer that opportunity, although they’re still what we should be mobilizing against.

    @3 Methuseus

    Democrats are trying to get him on something more concrete than “policy differences” with the Republicans.

    This. Although there is some bad strategy at work here as well – the Democratic Party leadership and congressional members seem to be sticking to the “make Trump seem unfit to govern” strategy that failed to defeat him in the presidential race.

  21. robro says

    The problem isn’t Russia. That’s a red herring pushed as much by Republicans as Democrats. The problem is oligarchs and kleptocrats. We’ve got ’em. They’ve got ’em. They talk. It’s business. They think they get to run the show to suit themselves…to hell with the rest of you. They exploit various social issues to garner support from the “common man,” but they really don’t care about that. They own the media, so their message is always coming through. No one looks at these networks of big money connected in various ways across the so-called borders, except in the briefest of mentions. Their biggest concern isn’t globalization…they’re making fortunes at it…it’s global governance. They will resist any attempt at international governance whether it’s for financial markets, the environment, human rights, etc because it might interfere with their profits.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    Zeppelin @ # 1: … mainstream US Liberalism seems to be picking up the “Russia is our deadly enemy” narrative right the moment the Republicans are forced to drop it …

    HR Clinton flogged that theme over and over in ’16. Her motivations seem to have included the (partially-US-induced) Ukrainian flustercuck and the military-industrial complex’s need for more arms race; I suspect the latter had a lot more to do with it, and the TrumPutin connection very little.

  23. unclefrogy says

    I have to agree with the comment that we need more democracy.
    democracy is not something that happens while we watch it does not work very well when we all of us are not involved. Most of the people are not involved, most of the people do not want to be involved they want someone else to do it they do not seem to care what happens or they think it does not matter what they say or what they want.
    They feel that the issues are way to complicated. They do not take the time to familiarize themselves with the issues. A lot of effort is expended to reduce the turnout of voters a lot of effort is expended to distort the arguments.
    Democracy is a participatory action, it requires the participation off all the people, it requires more democracy.
    one of the most important conditions for a fully functioning democracy is an educated electorate. I suspect that in part that was the reason to at first restrict voting to a more limited segment of the population it was a way to try to insure that the “electorate” would be educated. Things have changed with our ideas of who should actively participate in democracy as it should have but the education of the electorate has not kept pace.

    uncle frogy

  24. multitool says

    Unclefrogy: right, there’s a lot more to democracy than just voting. It requires a functioning press, for one. The US has privatized the truth.

    And how many corporations are democracies, inside? How much has personal engagement with the big picture been pushed out of our lives?

    I concede we need experts, but no matter how you slice it, they still have to convince non-experts that what they say isn’t bullshit. Even in a dictatorship. Any leader you pick is going to be ignorant of something they need to know, so they have to be responsive to the public or they’ll drive the country off a cliff.

    Incidentally the only reason for my username is I was out of ideas and had had a leatherman on my belt for over a decade. Kind of like the Kobayashi mug in Usual Suspects. ;)

  25. anchor says

    Agree with chigau #5.

    And its isn’t what’s failing, but what’s flourishing. This quote from an article from the Christian Science Monitor on the pro-Drumpf rally in Berkeley demonstrates [[]

    “We’re gonna take our country back and we’re gonna establish borders and have legal immigration and law and order,” Cherie Francis, of Cary, N.C., told the Associated Press at a rally. “And if you’re against all that, then you should be afraid.”

  26. says

    We need to confront and protest all his bad policies, get the vote out at the mid-terms AND push congress and the DOJ to do the right thing on Russiagate. It’s not an either or situation, but all of the above. Right now, having Trump perp walked in hand cuffs on treason charges are the best chance we have at avoiding devolving in to a dictatorship. This isn’t about making Russia our enemy, but about not having people in power that would collude with ANY foreign government to manipulate our election process.

  27. colinday says

    The Russian stuff may be penny ante compared to Trump’s environmental, education, and economic policies, but typical Republican voters are more likely to dislike it.

  28. DanDare says

    Democracy requires a well educated informed and engaged population who cannot have their votes suppressed or gerrymandered.

  29. konservenknilch says

    erichoug @#12

    I think you put too much trust in a multi-party system. One, it does not weed out the crazies in any way, see Wilders in the Netherlands, Farage in the UK, Strache in Austria, Petry and Höcke in Germany, Orban in Hungary. You mentioned Canada, we in Austria even had our own canada-austria-trump, Frank Stronach, some time ago, who was a major nutso and still got around 10% in the parliamentary elections. Two, coalition governments can be a huge pain in the ass. Here in Austria, we have the seemingly everlasting “grand coalition” of social democrats and conservatives, who hate each others guts, but it’s also the only viable majority. So a stand-still is pretty much baked into the system, either party obstructs the others proposals mostly out of principle. I still like our system more than the US two-party thingie, but it has its own share of problems.

  30. thecalmone says

    The multi – party parliamentary system seems to work pretty well in Australia. The fringe parties from the left and right do often hold the balance of power but otherwise are sideshows. This may have something to do with the Australian character, which embraces contempt for authority, or used to; perhaps less so these days.

  31. John Morales says


    The multi – party parliamentary system seems to work pretty well in Australia.

    Not-so-much for the people in the detention camps, for which Oz pays a fortune in $$$ and in international credibility.

    (All in the name of nationalism, even if under other terms and tropes)

  32. cherbear says

    The formation of minority governments are only possible with the cooperation of the 3rd party of the system, whether its the NDP or the Bloc Québécois. Otherwise a minority government would not be possible.

  33. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Not ever decision is best made democratically — there’s a reason we don’t elect nuclear safety engineers.

    Surely you’re not suggesting engineers provide anything of value.

  34. madscientist says

    Oh boy. Someone tell the Chump in Chief that in our modern world, more military spending is not a good thing. For one, Dubbyah and his wars bankrupted the gub’mint fighting factions which didn’t have the same high-tech high-priced weapons. If the nation ever goes to war with another nation with similar military capabilities, everyone loses. One of the few sensible things to do is pare back the military to a point where there is reasonable confidence of responding to credible threats from groups with less capable armaments, and maintaining good relationships with the other global super powers. Let’s face it: the red’s aren’t coming and there’s absolutely nothing to be gained in a war with Russia or China and aggravating the North Korean despot with chest thumping and threats of invasion are simply stupid beyond belief.