Trump waived anti-lobbying rules on his way out

Trump campaigned in 2016 on being the only person who could ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington by getting rid of the influence peddling that is endemic there. One of his first acts was to impose a five-year ban on former aides lobbying. That was a good move for which he deserved credit. But it seems like he now thinks that the swamp is not such a bad place bad after all. On his way out the door, one of his very last acts was to rescind that rule.

Maybe it is because all the people who worked for him are finding it so hard to get jobs now and it was embarrassing for him to have close aides find themselves not being able to get lucrative work.

Ghastly inequality in the Gulf states

The Gulf states market themselves as glitzy tourist places filled with luxury high rise hotels and shopping malls and recreational areas. But they are also some of the most oppressive places for workers, where migrant workers are brought in and treated almost like slaves, working under extremely harsh conditions and poorly paid, thus resulting in some of the world’s greatest income inequality between the small number of people who are citizens and the huge number of desperately poor imported workers who cannot become citizens nor permanent residents and can be harshly punished if they make the slightest protest.

Bernard Freamon describes the incredibly oppressive conditions of the migrant workers in those countries.

The six city-states on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf, each formerly a sleepy, pristine fishing village, are now all glitzy and futuristic wonderlands. In each of these city-states one finds large tracts of ultramodern architecture, gleaming skyscrapers, world-class air-conditioned retail markets and malls, buzzing highways, giant, busy and efficient airports and seaports, luxury tourist attractions, game parks, children’s playgrounds, museums, gorgeous beachfront hotels and vast, opulent villas housing fabulously affluent denizens. The six city-states ­– Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Manama in Bahrain, Dammam in Saudi Arabia, Doha in Qatar, and Kuwait City in Kuwait ­– grew into these luminous metropolises beginning in the 1970s, fuelled by the discovery of oil and gas, an oligarchic accumulation of wealth, and unconditional grants of political independence from the United Kingdom, the former colonial master of the region.
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Ending the Churchill idolatry

There is this weird phenomenon in America of excessive admiration of Winston Churchill. We see this with the reaction to the bust of him that Biden has moved out of the Oval Office, that threatened to create another kerfuffle like when Barack Obama moved it.

It had once been a transatlantic art scandal — or at least various actors of questionable intent would have you believe it was.

Overheated, confusing and laden in the end with blatant racism, the case of the White House bust of Winston Churchill still persists.

President Joe Biden has removed it from the Oval Office after four years standing sentry under his predecessor, who thought he looked something like the wartime prime minister.

An Oval Office redesign brought in new busts instead: Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Trump’s future problems with the media

His departure from Washington was a pretty pathetic affair. He was able to order up a 21-gun salute and a military band but that was about it in terms of the pomp that his narcissistic personality craves.

With the pomp and circumstance granted to a foreign leader visiting the nation’s capital, the taxpayer-funded ceremony treated Trump to a military band playing “Hail to the Chief” as deafening sounds from a 21-gun salute echoed across Joint Base Andrews, just outside Washington, DC. The manufactured nature of the festivities, ginned up to rival President Joe Biden’s inauguration, seemed more fitting for an ousted autocrat heading into exile.
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The vaccination plan, QAnon, nerd culture, and Pittsburgh

Stephen Colbert discusses what is going on with the vaccination program as well as developments with the QAnon conspiracy and their great hopes for a grand climax at the inauguration. He has an idea for something that QAnoners can do now that is as absorbing but not as destructive.

Seth Meyers also makes fun of Cruz’s pathetic attempts to ingratiate himself with Pittsburgh after he had tried to throw out all of Pennsylvania’s votes.

Touche, AOC!

Ted Cruz, pandering as always to the nativist base of Trumpers in the hope that they will flock to him in a future presidential bid, thought he had come up with something clever.


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What now for QAnon?

I am fascinated by cults and the people who join them. And the mother of all political cults is QAnon. As many people know by now, this was a Trump-supporting cult that believed that the Democratic party and other prominent people were part of some global conspiracy of pedophiles and that Trump was a genius strategist who was carefully planning to, in a dramatic denouement, expose them all and arrest and execute them. There are a lot more layers to this cult’s beliefs and I am just giving the highlights.

Naturally they did not accept that Trump had lost the election and thought that he would be able to reverse the outcome. As the day of Biden’s inauguration came close, excitement built up among them and they seemed to expect that just as he was about to be sworn in, federal agents would run down the steps and arrest him and all the other dignitaries and execute them, and that Trump would emerge as their victorious leader. Yes, really. (The people are watching w-a-a-a-y too many action/fantasy films.)
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