Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, March 14th, 2018 - 164 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, humour, International, Satire, us politics, winston peters - Tags: assasination, democrats, republican party, russian politics, vladimir putin
In his usual dignified way, Donald Trump announced that he was sacking Rex Tillerson, the American Secretary of State in a tweet. And so the round of musical chairs that marks the White House’s descent into even more incompetence continues.
It appears that the proximate reason was the dimwitted Donald’s inability to separate the needs of America from the requirements of his own narcissistic yearnings. In this case I suspect that Donald’s simple lack of understanding of the world outside of his personal chaos was the cause. He appears to have gotten into a state that considers any negative commentary on Russia to be a personal attack on his assisted election in 2016.
What did for Mr Tillerson? In a subsequent press conference, the president said they “got along actually quite well. But we disagreed on things.” There had been a significant illustration of this the previous day, after Mr Tillerson strongly condemned the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent who was poisoned with a nerve agent in Britain last week. The then secretary of state, like the British government, blamed the Kremlin. “It came from Russia,” he said on March 12th. “I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely.” Mr Trump, in what seemed like a remarkable lack of support for one of America’s closest allies, had at that time said nothing on the attack.
Having had a long read about the provenance of the particular nerve agent used (the most interesting article is this one), I’d have to agree with the assessment that Tillerson made. It is extremely difficult to see how anyone apart from a Russian state operator or one of their plausible deniability minions could have gained access to this rare nerve agent. It is even less plausible that anyone outside of the political or security centres in Russia would have wanted to assassinate this particular target in an act of pure terrorism.
It appears likely to me that Vladimir Putin wanted to send a message to opponents, ahead of his sham election this week about who is the boss. Bearing in mind that his campaign has been targeting the only viable alternative Alexei Navalny with some interesting campaigning techniques – notably arrests on spurious charges to bar him from standing. The kind of paranoia about opposition in government plus the kinds of overseas circuses the Russians have been using to distract their citizens in recent years suggest that the kleptocracy of the Russian state is has started to become increasingly unstable.
For Winston Peters to try to push us to get into a trading relationships with either of the asylums for crazy old fools that are the governments of these two countries risks putting himself in the same light. If we are going to get into bilateral trading relations, then lets avoid the unstable ones and concentrate our efforts on the states with stable governing structure that we can build long-term with.
In the meantime, in the US, I’m watching the farce of the race for the weirdly gerrymandered 18th congressional district with interest and vast levels of amusement.
PA-18 should be a shoo-in for the Republican Party at a special election on March 13th. Tim Murphy, the Republican congressman who represented the district for eight terms, did not even have an opponent when he ran in 2014 and 2016. The avid pro-lifer, who was popular with the district’s churchgoers, was compelled to resign last year after revelations that he asked a woman half his age to abort their unborn child. This triggered the special election.
You’d have to say that displays a level of distasteful hypocrisy that even the Republicans had issues with. That plus the current levels of popularity for both Trump and his Republican party mean that vast amounts of money*, largely Republican, has poured into a district that previously the Democrats didn’t stand in. And as the Economist article wryly points out:-
Whoever wins on March 13th will have only a short time to savour his victory. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania imposed new congressional-district lines for the primaries in May and the general election in November. Neither candidate lives in the new district that will be formed according to the court’s plan. The winner will have to decide whether to run again in a new district in just two months.