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The Year of Living Dangerously

 

Exhibit One: Susan B Glasser at Politico:

Donald Trump’s Year of Living Dangerously

It’s worse than you think.

By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. “Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,” the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”

Exhibit Two: Paul Waldman at The Week

"This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier," Trump told an interviewer in April.

Well thank goodness he's found a way to lighten the load. And I mean that: Trump's "Executive Time" is a gift for all of us.

It's clear that Trump is much more interested in watching TV and tweeting than in slogging his way through intelligence briefings or economic reports. You only have to watch him speak for a few minutes to see that he can't stay focused on any one topic for more than a moment, which is just one of the reasons he's so attracted to cable news. And he often sounds like he'd be more comfortable sitting on the couch at Fox & Friends than at his desk in the Oval Office. 

Exhibit Three: Alice Driver at CNN:

The tricks of the multibillion-dollar drug business include using drones, submarines, ultralight planes and even frozen sharks to transport product across the US-Mexico border. Just consider that in 2016, US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations agents attempted to seize a submarine in the Pacific Ocean with nearly $194 Million worth of cocaine.

And yet President Trump argues that his proposed border wall, a throwback to a bygone era, will "stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth."

Should he get funding from Congress to build such a wall, Trump will be faced by an even bigger problem - the geographical reality of the border itself. Any wall will have to navigate floodplains, international treaties and the rights of landowners who refuse to sell their land. Simply put, Trump does not understand the dynamics of the US-Mexico border.

Exhibit Four: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist and founder of Ocean Collective, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. Jeff Orlowski is a filmmaker and director of the recent Netflix Original Documentary “Chasing Coral.” At the Los Angeles Times they write—What the Trump administration doesn’t understand about ocean conservation.

The Trump administration announced last week that it would open 90% of our coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. It declared last month that it would shrink or eliminate several national monuments — both terrestrial and marine. Last year, it rolled back safety requirements that prevent spills like the Deepwater Horizon, and it stated it would reconsider protections of national marine sanctuaries. The reigning principle here, to the extent that there is one, is to put short-term economic gains first, way ahead of the environment. [...]

Fishing provides work of 11% of the world’s population. Seafood accounts for 17% of the world’s protein. Reefs, mangroves and marshes create coastal storm protection worth billions of dollars. In the U.S., the ocean economy employs more than 3 million people - more than farming, telecommunications and construction combined. If ocean ecosystems collapse, we’ll lose all of these benefits.

That’s why we must protect the principal. This means we must increase marine protected areas, not demolish them. The scientific consensus is that to create a fully sustainable ocean, we need to fully protect at least 30% of it. Currently, the U.S. protects13.5% of coastal waters: we’ll drop to a small fraction of that if the Trump administration has its way. That’s going in the wrong direction.

Exhibit Five: Global confidence in US leadership has fallen to a new low, and the country now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings, according to a new Gallup poll.

The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump – the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.

In just under half of the world’s countries—65 out of 134—US standing collapsed, by 10 percentage points or more. Some of the biggest losses were among Washington’s closest allies in Western Europe, Australia and Latin America.

From an Evan Osnos interview with Yan Xuetong, the Dean of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations, in The New Yorker

For Chinese leaders, Yan said, “Trump is the biggest strategic opportunity.” I asked Yan how long he thought the opportunity would last. “As long as Trump stays in power.” He replied.

The Museum: The 19th Century was England’s, the 20th was Ours and the 21st looks like China’s. The Trump administration, as noted above, is clearing the way for that transition. He got his motto wrong; it should be Make China Great Again.

Exhibit Six: from NBC News: Tourism to the U.S. is down across the board, a dip that began after President Trump’s inauguration and may be tied to his anti-immigration language and policies. All told, the latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel since the president took office. That translates to an economic dent of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs. Perhaps a slightly more welcoming tone may have been the one to take for a country that — until this report — ranked as the second most popular travel destination on earth.

At the Exit:

After eight years of having to suffer under the most personally upstanding president in decades, Republicans finally have their moral and ethical role model in charge: Donald Trump.

— Eric Kleefeld (@EricKleefeld) January 26, 2018

Unkwil

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Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from missguided souls who disagree.