Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

via Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

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Posted in David Leonhardt, Donald Trump, European Issues | Leave a comment

Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – by David Leonhardt – NYT

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

No wonder. The meeting’s central disagreements were over tariffs that Trump has imposed for false reasons. He claims that he’s merely responding to other countries. But the average current tariff of the United States, Britain, Germany and France is identical, according to the World Bank: 1.6 percent. Japan’s is 1.4 percent, and Canada’s is 0.8 percent. Yes, every country has a few objectionable tariffs, but they’re small — and the United States is not a victim here.

So Trump isn’t telling the truth about trade, much as he has lied about Barack Obama’s birthplace, his own position on the Iraq War, his inauguration crowd, voter fraud, the murder rate, Mexican immigrants, the Russia investigation, the Stormy Daniels hush money and several hundred other subjects. The tariffs aren’t a case of his identifying a real problem but describing it poorly. He is threatening the Atlantic alliance over a lie.

via Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

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Editorial | Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? – The New York Times

When the government broke up the telephone system in 1984, the fact that AT&T could count most citizens as customers and that it was arguably the best-run telephone company in the world was not deemed compelling enough to preserve its monopoly power. The breakup would unleash a wave of competition and innovation that ultimately benefited consumers and the economy.

Facebook seems to be in a similar position today — only with far greater global reach than Ma Bell could have imagined. Facebook’s two billion monthly active users, and the way those accounts are linked and viewed by users and by third parties, have made it the most powerful communications and media company in the world, even if its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, insists his is a technology business.

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David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT
Bravo, thank you NYT editorialists. You wrote: “The European Union has passed such legislation, called the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R., which forces companies such as Facebook to do a better job shielding individual data. Facebook says it is willing to extend the G.D.P.R. to anyone who asks for it. Though why should we have to ask for what ought to be ours to begin with?” Where in my FB settings do I ask them to turn on my GDPR, which could also be, my God Damned Protections Retroactively.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

 

via Opinion | Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? – The New York Times

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Stop Facebook tracking you across the web- change these settings | ZDNet

Head to this link (and sign in if you have to), then make sure the “Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies” option is turned “no.”

And that’s it. The caveat is that you may see ads relating to your age, gender, or location, Facebook says.

You can also make other ad-based adjustments to the page — to Facebook’s credit, they’re fairly easy to understand. The best bet (at the time of publication) is to switch all options to “no” or “no-one.”

via Stop Facebook tracking you across the web, change these settings | ZDNet

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Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour – The New York Times

Monday, the company said its Safari web browser would disable tracking software, or cookies, that advertising companies like Facebook and Google embed in websites to track users’ activity across the internet.

via Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour – The New York Times

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Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour – The New York Times

Monday, the company said its Safari web browser would disable tracking software, or cookies, that advertising companies like Facebook and Google embed in websites to track users’ activity across the internet.

via Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour – The New York Times

David Lindsay: How do I tell Facebook they can’t do this to me ever.

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Facebook’s Device Partnerships Explained – The New York Times

Facebook has said that some of the device partners store Facebook users’ — and their friends’ — data on their own servers. But Facebook has also said that regardless of where the information is stored, its partners are bound by strict contracts regarding the use of the data. But that doesn’t mean the data is necessarily safe. One of the lessons of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is just how hard it is to control what happens to user data once it has left Facebook’s system.

Facebook also said that it periodically audits partners’ use of the data. Some partners store Facebook data on their own servers, while others have said that the data is sent directly to each device. But Facebook, as well as some device partners contacted by The Times, acknowledged that there are several ways Facebook information could leave those devices, including when a device backs up its own data to cloud services or syncs with third-party apps.

A third-party app is any app that is not made by the device maker itself: Think games, messaging or banking apps. Every time a newly downloaded game or other app requests access to your address book, information in the address book can be shared.

via Facebook’s Device Partnerships Explained – The New York Times

David Lindsay: This is complicated. It does make sense that your Facebook experience should be allowed to happen across various types of hardware and platforms.

But my first take away is, do not ever share your address book with anyone, especially Facebook. Add your friends the old fashioned way, one friend at a time.

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Opinion | A Trade War Primer – The New York Times

At the moment, the Trumpian trade war appears to be on. And I’ve been getting some questions from readers about how this is possible. Congress, after all, hasn’t voted to back out of our trade agreements, and one suspects that it wouldn’t even if Trump asked for such legislation: to all appearances, a lot of Republicans are pretty much OK with the near-certainty that he colluded with a hostile foreign power and is currently obstructing justice, but policy actions that might strand and devalue a lot of corporate assets are something else entirely.

So how does Trump have the authority to do this? And what are the consequences for the world? It seems to me that this might be a good time to write down a brief, non-scholarly primer on how the trading system – and U.S. trade policy within that system – work.

The key thing you need to understand about trade policy is that the Econ 101 case for free trade plays very little role in actual policy, certainly in trade negotiations. That’s not because policymakers either reject that case or fail to understand it; some do, some don’t, but either way it doesn’t make that much difference. (In fairness, there’s an academic literature arguing that the underlying economics matter more than I’m suggesting, work that I consider admirable but unpersuasive.)

True, for the past 80 years the U.S. has sought to make trade gradually freer; this reflected in part the (very) indirect influence of economic theory, in part the belief that closer economic integration was good for peace and the free world alliance. But the process by which trade liberalization was sought was all about political realism rather than abstract ideals.

via Opinion | A Trade War Primer – The New York Times

Yes, and, here are the two top comments I endorsed. Note that Mr R. Law is the source of the post before this by John Brennan, CIA director to four presidents. He warns that Trump is a treat to democracy and freedom.

Rick Gage
Mt Dora

Thank you for the primer Mr. Krugman but I missed the part about bribery. You know, the part where Trump imposes trade restrictions on China because of a true national security threat from ZBT, the phone company that our security agencies pegged for espionage, but which he later rescinded when the Chinese government gave the president’s daughter 5 patents and invested half a billion dollars in a Trump resort in Indonesia, in direct violation of the emoluments clause of our laws regarding a president’s ability to profit off his position in the White House. As a matter of fact, I would start all future discussions about Trump’s trade policies with the topic of bribery, since it seems to animate and explain most of his actions.

R. Law commented June 3

R
R. Law
Texas

Perfect, Dr. K.

What the Rolling Trumpster Fire is now attempting (whether he knows it or not) is a reorganizing of the global trading economy, same as he reorganized our political economy with the abetting of GOP’er gatekeepers.

And it is widely agreed that the cracked prism which His Unhinged Unraveling Unfitness uses is clouded by delusions of some sort of a grand past which never existed – thus there are no American industry leaders nor union leaders who favor such tariffs, with even Paul Ryan and Sen. McConnell speaking against them.

What is being upset/destroyed is the global trading regime begun after WWII, along with driving a wedge between the U.S. and our NATO allies.

This is deadly serious business, being waged by a nincompoop who stands on the White House lawn telling us how wonderful the letter is that he’s received from North Korea – then 2 sentences later says he hasn’t even read the letter yet !

We utterly agree with everything in John Brennan’s excellent op-ed:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-brennan-i-will-speak-out-un…

and would only add:

” Considering how bad things are in Trumpworld from what’s been found out, imagine how bad they really are, considering what we don’t yet know. ”

The creeping authoritarianism – aided/abetted by Complicit Banana Republicans – is a clear and present danger.

Posted in Foreign Trade Policy, Paul Krugman | Leave a comment

John Brennan: I will speak out until integrity returns to the White House – The Washington Post

By John Brennan
June 1
John Brennan served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2013 to January 2017.

My first visit to the Oval Office came in October 1990, when I was a 35-year-old CIA officer. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait two months before, and President George H.W. Bush wanted to discuss the implications of a U.S.-led military coalition that would ultimately push the Iraqis out.

I remember the nervousness I felt when I entered that room and met a president of the United States for the first time. By the time the meeting ended, his intellectual curiosity, wisdom, affability and intense interest in finding the best policy course to protect and promote U.S. interests were abundantly evident.

Over the next quarter-century, I returned to the Oval Office several hundred times during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The jitters that accompanied my first Oval Office visit dissipated over time, but the respect, awe and admiration I held for the office of the presidency and the incumbents never waned. The presidents I directly served were not perfect, and I didn’t agree with all of their policy choices. But I never doubted that each treated their solemn responsibility to lead our nation with anything less than the seriousness, intellectual rigor and principles that it deserved. Many times, I heard them dismiss the political concerns of their advisers, saying, “I don’t care about my politics, it’s the right thing to do.”

via John Brennan: I will speak out until integrity returns to the White House – The Washington Post

Posted in Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy | Leave a comment

Opinion | A Trade War Primer – by Paul Krugman – NYT

At the moment, the Trumpian trade war appears to be on. And I’ve been getting some questions from readers about how this is possible. Congress, after all, hasn’t voted to back out of our trade agreements, and one suspects that it wouldn’t even if Trump asked for such legislation: to all appearances, a lot of Republicans are pretty much OK with the near-certainty that he colluded with a hostile foreign power and is currently obstructing justice, but policy actions that might strand and devalue a lot of corporate assets are something else entirely.

So how does Trump have the authority to do this? And what are the consequences for the world? It seems to me that this might be a good time to write down a brief, non-scholarly primer on how the trading system – and U.S. trade policy within that system – work.

The key thing you need to understand about trade policy is that the Econ 101 case for free trade plays very little role in actual policy, certainly in trade negotiations. That’s not because policymakers either reject that case or fail to understand it; some do, some don’t, but either way it doesn’t make that much difference. (In fairness, there’s an academic literature arguing that the underlying economics matter more than I’m suggesting, work that I consider admirable but unpersuasive.)

via Opinion | A Trade War Primer – The New York Times

Posted in Foreign Trade Policy, Paul Krugman | Tagged | Leave a comment