Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

Sunday News: Counting the costs of institutional bigotry

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A YEAR OF SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT THANKS TO HB2: As North Carolina marks the first anniversary of House Bill 2 next week, an ongoing political stalemate is making a prolonged economic backlash – and future anniversaries – likely. The law, widely criticized as anti-LGBT, has cost North Carolinians jobs, money, performances and events, including this month’s NCAA basketball tournament. “The longer it stays on our books, the more difficulty we will have repairing the damage,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said last week. “It’s hard to quantify the damage.” Through research and interviews with economists, Politifact estimates that HB2 has cost North Carolina between $450 million and $630 million. But in perspective, that accounts for 0.1 percent of the state’s annual gross domestic product, notes Michael Walden, an N.C. State economist. “So we know that it’s hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, but it could be worse than that because what we’re not getting is what we don’t know,” Cooper said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article13...

The battles over Durham-Orange Light Rail project continue

And the naysayers are getting creative:

To kill the project, opponents know they can’t appear to be anti-transit. Instead, they must convince you there are better, cheaper options. In their latest campaign, opponents revive their old claim that bus rapid transit (BRT), which uses buses on dedicated roadways instead of trains on light rail tracks, is inherently better and dramatically cheaper. But, they say, stubborn train lovers at GoTriangle refuse to examine a bus alternative.

Dedicated roadways for buses makes about as much sense as personal "pods" that individuals can hop into like their own little taxicabs. The traffic issues in driving a car from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill and back have become horrendous, and further development *is* going to happen, whether people want it to or not. Between the two hospitals (Duke, UNC) alone, there are some 17,000 employees. That's not counting other University staff from the schools themselves. Light rail may not solve all the transportation/parking problems, but it is a critical element of the solution. Here's more from Orange Politics' Molly de Marco:

Saturday News: 2 out of 3 ain't bad

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THREE JUDGE PANEL RULES AGAINST 2 GOP POWER GRABS, OKAYS 3RD: The N.C. General Assembly’s attempt to revamp the state elections board and ethics commission weeks before Democrat Roy Cooper was sworn in as the new governor violates the state Constitution, a three-judge panel ruled on Friday. The judges also found unconstitutional the legislature’s shift of managerial and policy-making employees from former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration to positions where it’s more difficult to replace them. But the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s attempt to have a say in who joins Cooper’s Cabinet was not found to be a violation of the separation of powers clause in the state Constitution. The 42-page order is the latest in an escalating power struggle between the Democrat at the helm of the executive branch and the Republicans leading the two chambers of the General Assembly.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article139231588.html?utm_conten...

Avangrid takes first step in Kitty Hawk offshore wind farm project

Where there's wind blowing, there's clean power to be had:

Avangrid Renewables won the bid Thursday to lease 122,405 acres off the Outer Banks coast for a wind farm. The company competed against three others before offering the winning amount of $9.1 million, according to a release from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Avangrid Renewables also built a land-based wind farm of about 22,000 acres near Elizabeth City.

Avangrid will have to set up testing towers and other equipment to assess the site before submitting a construction plan over the next approximately five years, including how many wind towers to build and how far apart to build them. The federal government will review the project and hold public hearings before construction can begin.

I am a little concerned that much of the permitting will be overseen by the Trump administration, and no doubt the puppets of the fossil fuel industry will be seeking creative ways to disrupt the process. But we'll be keeping an eye on that stuff, so they better pack more than just a lunch. Here's more about the company and its dedication to environmental stewardship:

Friday News: Slumlord in Chief

TRUMP BUDGET SLASHES AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAMS: In Charlotte, for instance, cuts in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would adversely impact a Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte program that fixes damaged owner-occupied homes, the organization’s leaders say. “It would pretty much gut the program,” said Phil Prince, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte’s director of marketing and communication. “It would have traumatic consequences if (cuts) would pass in this form.” Trump is trying to overhaul federal government spending, placing a priority on the military and national security. He’s dubbed the his spending proposal a “skinny budget” for the federal government and it has won early praise from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article138978168.html

Joel Ford's battles with LGBT activists turns ludicrous

But the truth is, he's been dropping turds on his own party for some time:

On Tuesday N.C. Sen Joel Ford (D-Charlotte) had a strange, tense exchange with LGBT activists who criticized his record on LGBT issues. He responded to the activists with a GIF of a dog defecating in the snow. This led Matt Comer, a Charlotte-based LGBT activist, to ask if that was appropriate behavior for a state senator.

Ford, a more conservative Democrat, is used to criticism from the LGBT community. Last year he was one of the few Democrats to support a Republican bill to allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages. This session he has been one of the few Democrats to support a repeal of HB2 that would put LGBT protections to local referendum votes. But the criticism has turned up to 11 since Ford announced he’d be running against Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a fellow Democrat, as she seeks re-election.

Joel Ford is so full of himself he doesn't get the symbolism of posting that GIF, that he himself is the turd in that particular scenario, not the creature dropping it. Purely speculation on my part, but I believe he is trying to carve out a niche for himself as a "maverick," not one to follow the lead of others. Which is fine to a certain point. But I also believe he is trying to benefit from and maybe even exacerbate the confusion and conflicting beliefs in the African-American community over LGBT issues. At its core, this is the politics of division, not inclusion, and all parties will emerge in a weaker position because of it.

Thursday News: And yet, we still have Berger

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NC CITIZENS GIVE THEMSELVES HIGH MARKS FOR DETECTING FAKE NEWS: North Carolinians think fake news is a problem, report that they see it frequently and think they’re good at spotting it, a poll finds. Meredith College polled 876 registered voters Feb. 19-28 by phone and email and found that more than 88 percent say they think fake news confuses Americans about politics and government. All groups believed in the effect of fake news roughly equally – there were no significant differences in the results regardless of participants’ political affiliation, age, race or ethnic group, or where a person is from, according to the poll released by Meredith this week.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article138669243.html

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