12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation – The New York Times

American intelligence officials and lawmakers are concerned that the Russians are also trying to meddle in the upcoming midterm congressional elections in November. Mr. Trump said on Friday that he planned to tell Mr. Putin when he meets with him to stay out of those elections.

“I know you’ll ask will we be talking about meddling?” Mr. Trump told reporters. “And I will absolutely bring that up. I don’t think you’ll have any, ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me.’ There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think, but you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely firmly ask the question. And hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia.”

What on earth does this mean?

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Trump’s Universe

It is a testament to the creativity of the human mind that it can identify patterns in the random distribution of stars in the night sky. As a heuristic device to identify the location of stars and planets such patterns are helpful. To believe, however, there is some intelligible logos to the distribution of the stars and that indeed they contribute to our understanding of events on earth, nay help predict them is, at best, mistaken.

Over the years many people have made a living out of  interpreting what is written in the stars. Soothsayers, oracles, priests, astrologers have all claimed to discern the shape of events from their careful observation of celestial movements. A more enlightened time has dismissed such claims as nonsense.

However, our own time does have a new priestly cast, they sit around the Trump cabinet table, inhabit the Whitehouse press office and some of the global media. They all claim to be able to discern a strategic direction to US policy on defence, the economy, international relations, immigration and a great deal more from the random tweets and off-the-cuff pronouncements of the Commander in Chief. Some of these are paid to do it, some are ideologically determined to do it but some are just falling prey to the natural human desire to uncover patterns in random observations whether they be of tea leaves, hens entrails, clouds or the disposition of the stars in the sky.

Of course Newton was able to describe a force that shapes the course of the stars in his theory of gravity. In the Trump universe the equivalent is money. If you really want to determine the logic behind the random acts of Trump follow the money. Clearly, the multi-billionaire never loses site of the money he has, refusing to effectively divest himself of his business interests, using his own properties to host government events, allegedly using foreign policy to secure loans for his son-in-law and securing patents for his daughter.

However, just as theoretical physicists could not identify enough gravity to explain the movements of galaxies it seems there does not appear to  be enough visible money to explain all Trumps behaviour. The physicists came up with dark matter. They are sure it is there but they haven’t been able to find it yet. In the Trump universe the equivalent is dark money. Money which has been laundered by Trump for a price. People are pretty sure it is there and Special Councel Mueller is busy searching for it. Many think it emanates from the Dark Star of Putin’s Russia, in a whole range or real estate investments by Russian oligarchs. We will see.

Of course our universe is animated by a force which overwhelms gravity and matter which again is invisible and labeled by the scientists as dark energy. This is a force which is making our universe expand at an accelerating rate. The animating force in Universe Trump is of course the man himself, Dark Tump. Dark Trump has the same single, self regarding purpose as dark energy. He has the same moral consideration and empathy for others, for the avoidance of doubt – none.

Just as dark energy pushes all before it with mindless abandon and disregard so Trump, the man, barges around the world expanding the realm of chaos from which he expects to profit. He has one focus of interest which is himself and his wealth and he does not, and indeed cannot, distinguish between them. They are one and the same.

With Trump, it seems that presence makes the brain go softer. Seventeen months in to his Presidency people are still trying to make sense of him, or still hoping that “adults in the room” will eventually tame him. His campaign was outrageous and Dark Trump has been accelerating that outrageousness ever since he got elected. He has increased our tolerance of venality and corruption with his appointment of like minded people to major offices of state. The sacking of Scott Pruitt should not be seen as a high water mark more a way station to further excess.

Trump is an existential threat to the US and worse. He is currently propped up by a supine GOP which is beholden to the providers of dark money who gain from Trump’s tax reducing agenda. If his actions in relation to the global economy trigger a financial crisis he will be dropped like a hot stone. However the Democrats need to reach out to the so called “basket of deplorables” with credible policies to address their real concerns if Trump is not to be replaced by Trump 2 who may be slightly less boorish but no less divisive.

I mentioned earlier that there some of the new priestly caste are in the global media and some of these are people who should know better. One who does is Martin Wolf of the FT who started a recent article about the growing trade wars with, “The leader of the world’s most powerful country is a dangerous ignoramus.” Clear sighted as ever Wolf sees the the essence of Dark Trump.

The retreat of Western Liberalism

This is an excellent book summarising the the intertwined global forces which are threatening democracy and liberalism, indeed pitching them against one another.

It is said the book can be read in three hours, it took me longer. Mr Luce clearly has a strong grip on the growing literature addressing,  globalisation; populism; automation; the shift to the East ; climate change and more. His erudition, however, never gets in the way of clear concise exposition and commentary.

His analysis always sets maters in a historical context taking due account of the transitory nature of much that seems permenant as lived. Implicit in this is a challenge to all of us to recognise the scale and reality of the threats which exist and to do something about them. History is not inevitable it is created, although not necessarily consciously.

His arguments are often challenging but always thoughtful. He is particularly good around the contentious opposition, or as I suspect he sees it, interplay between class and identity. He is clear however that if the Democrats ever want to govern effectively again they need to develop policies which address the concerns of the “basket of deplorables”. Of course the contentious bit is defying what you think their concerns are.

If you want to read one book that will provide you with an underground map of contemporary social, political and economic issues this is it. It reduces the complexity by focusing on the key issues, illustrating what connects and divides them.

It may take you longer than three hours to read but whatever it does you will think it worthwhile.

The retreat of Western Liberalism. E Luce. Abacus 2018.