Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Meltdown Begins


Rosemary Sword and Gail Sheehy have a piece in The Daily Beast, titled "How Close Is Donald Trump to a Psychiatric Breakdown?" Based on the events of the last few days, I'd say we won't have long to wait.

For starters, the decision to impose $60 billion in tariffs on China precipitated an 1100 point drop in the Dow on Thursday and Friday. Not only was it completely irrational, as Paul Krugman pointed out, it ignored the real problem with China, namely intellectual property rights. The right way to deal with that is to form a coalition of countries with a stake in the game, not, as Trump is doing, "alienating those countries, with things like his on-again-off-again steel tariff and his threat to put tariffs on goods that, while assembled in China, are mainly produced elsewhere." Far from punishing China, Trump's tariffs will hurt American exports, diminish our standing in the world and, ironically, give China even more leverage than it currently has.

Next up is the decision by defense attorney John Dowd to "quit" the Trump team. This move is a sure-fire signal that Trump plans on going nuclear against Mueller. In my last piece, I wrote all the reasons why Trump will fire the special prosecutor. This move cinches it for me. Whatever else you may think about Dowd, he was a legitimate lawyer who was trying to get his client to cooperate in the Russia investigation. But Trump wants no part of that. He's calling all the shots now; his lawyers are nothing but mouthpieces for his ego. If it's true that a man who represents himself as his own attorney has a fool for a client, than Trump is full-fledged loon.

But all that takes a back seat to the decision to fire H.R. McMaster and replace him with John Bolton. All you need to know about Mr. Mustache is that during the Bush Administration, where he served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., he frequently bumped heads with other heads of state. He even went so far as to say there was no such thing as a United Nations. So off the wall is his world view, he makes most neocons look like doves by comparison. I suspect his recent calls for preemptive strikes on North Korea and Iran is the reason Trump hired him as his National Security Advisor.

And this is why I am deeply concerned. Markets go up and down all the time. We recovered from the 2008 financial crisis; if need be, we'll recover again regardless of how many asinine tariffs Trump imposes. And when Mueller is finally fired, the evidence he has assembled will survive him and will eventually be made public. In fact, you could argue Trump may have waited too long to make his move. But World War III is not something the country or the planet will survive or recover from. With Frick and Frack playing Risk in the Situation Room, it's only a matter of time before the testosterone level gets too high and, before you know it, mushroom clouds start appearing all across the globe.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I left out the congratulatory phone call cadet bone spurs made earlier in the week to his boss, Vladimir Putin, against the advice of his senior advisors. I guess the words "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" weren't bold enough for him. Maybe next time they should use crayons dipped in chocolate.

Kids, we are witnessing the final plunge of the R.M.S. Trump. I've seen enough disaster movies in my time to know when the end is near. The only question is whether all of us will get pulled under by the suction.

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