Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

This Story has a Whiff of the Aquatic Life About It



Now, I know that dwelling on this is just obsessive, but if the First Lady knew very well that her husband was going in for a planned check-up, why in the world would she be concerned about speculative information out on the media? She would have been "in the loop" about what was going on! It seems like some kind of needless embellishment to chide others about making any minimally-informed speculation (which I guess is fair; it does border on the ghoulish). She would have known he was ok, so she....sigh.

Before I spend another brain cell on this, suffice it to say maybe he's just jealous of Rep. Steve Scalise for having the kind of wife who would cry if he was in the hospital. You know, not every wife would do that.

The Script that Flipped

Just so that this does not get lost amidst the impeachment-related stories, Chairman Kim just issued a statement regarding the possibility of future talks with the US:


In a blunt put-down Monday, North Korea rejected what a senior adviser to Kim called another “fruitless” one-on-one with Trump. It was the latest reminder that Trump’s open-door policy for bargaining with authoritarians means those leaders can slam the door in his face.

“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” said Kim Kye Gwan, a veteran diplomat and Foreign Ministry adviser. “As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can brag about.”

But what about all those love letters? What about the historic DMZ visit?

Trump legitimized Kim and Kim wanted nothing more than that, and nukes. He can have both, and Trump gets nothing, precisely because Trump wanted to accomplish something with North Korea (or to appear to be accomplishing something) so much. In the meanwhile, our relationship with South Korea appears to be impaired.

A future administration will be at pains to sort through the damage this administration has caused diplomatically--just to see what can be salvaged.

UPDATE: South Korea has signed a defense agreement with China.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Monday, Monday

Trump Tweeted this morning saying that he might very well take Speaker Pelosi up on her challenge to testify on his own behalf with regards to the impeachment inquiry. I, too, often start my Mondays ambitiously threatening to do things I do not want to do and have no intention of actually doing.

UPDATE:  He should be very careful if he does provide written answers, though. He may have made "errors" doing this before.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

TWGB: Canute and the Tide



The thing that House Republicans have yet to observe is that, while much power has been invested in President Trump, and even though he enforces that power on Twitter and in his extraordinary public rallies through what might be termed the "bullying pulpit", there is an extent to which he has no influence--his word does not, actually, change facts. In this way, he is like an unwitting King Canute, demonstrating to his courtiers that he does not, in fact, have power over the tides. The GOP House members have not actually altogether realized this yet, anymore than they have discovered that the emperor is not clothed. One of the things thus far demonstrated is that Trump's "tide" hasn't risen the boats of Bevin (an incumbent governor in Kentucky) nor Rispone (a challenger for governor in Louisiana). His efforts have not elevated Republicans--he is only, at best, able to promote himself.

He appears to be a reflection of a kind of personality cult, but not a political movement. His coattails are those of a bolero jacket. If I were in the business of letting the GOP know that is a good look for them, I would endorse hanging Trump out to dry by fomenting a mass repudiation of his tactics and ethos, letting a political cycle go by as a "rebuilding year", and then putting up very young and untainted people to try to do some "new ideas and new faces" promoting of the party as under new management. (Please view The Bulwark as a kind of Never Trumper and Once Trumper, Twice Shy version of what conservative politics could actually look like. I am going to be the nice leftist person who presumes that intellectually, they are not full of shit but had a dream that life could be much different from this hell they're living)

Anyway, this week was probably hell for Trump, who totally went on an unannounced visit to Walter Reed Medical Center for regular check-up stuff. PSSSSHAWW! Because like Stephanie Grisham says:



Our Fearless Leader has only grown in his advancing years and is very much in his prime. He is now six feet five inches in height and a trim 229 pounds, which only appears more robust due to his incandescent energy. He wrestles bears for breakfast and pisses soma. Many patriots have fought amongst themselves for the glory of bathing in his piss. He has the energy of a teenager, but his skin is much better and naturally self-tanning even when ensconced in a bunker with only Fox News for solace. He is a unique physical specimen as he has weight and mass and three actual dimensions not counting his transit through observable time. We are at a loss for words to describe all the many faceted dimensions of the health of Dear Leader.



When Originalists Say "Kings are Good, Actually"

I'm not even a "simple country lawyer" like Oxford-trained good ol' boy Louisiana Senator John Kennedy tries to pass himself off as, but I do have to say that when Trump's other personal lawyer AG Bill Barr tells me that our grade-school civics education regarding the anti-monarchism of the Founding Fathers is way off base, I kind of think back on that Declaration of Independence letter that was written during a hot Philadelphia summer and reads like a "Dear George" letter to run down the English monarch for all his abrogating of citizen's rights and think to myself: Who the fuck is Barr kidding here? 

Now, I don't doubt the fine education and vast experience Barr has at being a dogsbody for privilege. I'm just saying that even if claims of Washington refusing a crown were overstated, the founders were, doubtless, republicans. If they were not, why were oversight (as part of the implied powers) and impeachment (as part of the explicit powers) ever considered the constitutional remit of Congress, and why was a Bill of Rights a part of our Constitution? (Because, unless I'm really mistaken, calling yourself a Federalist and not actually understanding the limits of any government with respect to individual rights is just irony, no?) We've all learned our little lessons about "check and balanced" in grade school, and then you get to a certain level of "big boy" education and, as the gang at the Badda Bing say, "Fuhgeddaboudit"?

Ah, Billy, you slay me. Just admit that the whole "unitary executive" thing means you want all powers invested in a Republican president, and all taken away from a Democratic one out loud in simple language we all understand, and believe me, your audience will still approve, and you will not have said a single thing different from what liberals understood from that.

I've called this attitude "nihilism" previously. I still consider it so. Does it rely on truth, or outcomes, consider the future, respect tradition, take in the full scope of the past, answer to the demands of the present? Nope. He's just giving reasons why he's going to render unto Trump as if he were Caesar, even though he demonstratively gives lip-service to God.  After all, for the theocrat, are they not, in some ways, one and the same

In the same rough respect that the founders would have given limited space to religion, separating it from matters of state, they also would not have removed a president (a mere human with faults) from accountability. Would the people who decried "taxation without representation" have been satisfied with a government they paid for, but could not audit? What sense does that make? Where the hell was the money of our gentlemen farmers and mercantile ministers going--they would have asked! And they were people of civilization as well, they considered how their actions and decision would reverberate through history. This impact mattered to them; Barr's POV is short-sighted. 

As I read about this speech, I also read that Trump, who boasted about permitting torture and more, pardoned soldiers accused of war crimes, over the objection of the Pentagon.  He doesn't care about human rights or military discipline or how our actions are perceived by ally or enemy alike, so this means nothing more than a macho gesture supposedly aimed at gaining military support by giving them "liberty" to do what they like to "others". I read about the way migrant families were being separated at our border, perhaps for good. I remembered when researching to write about the camps migrants were kept in under Trump,  reading that the administration wanted migrant families to be kept at Gitmo, like some kind of enemy combatants.  A camp for migrants, to mirror a top adviser's appreciation of the racist novel Camp of the Saints

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Not What They Expected



I am pretty sure that the GOP House members did not expect this applause for Marie Yovanovitch because they are too deep in their defense of Trump and demonization of the "Deep State" to realize that what they are calling the Deep State is just career people with a deep sense of mission to serve the United States. This came through in her testimony.

I think an important takeaway though, is this:

“We see the potential in Ukraine. Russia, by contrast, sees the risk,” she said. “Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition, with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine’s leadership.”

The potential benefit to Russia is two-fold, she explained. Withholding security assistance, she said, painted a picture to Moscow that the U.S. may not be the staunch ally of Russia’s vulnerable neighbor it has signaled it would be. And at the same time, she said, allowing corruption to fester in Ukraine — including empowering officials there to get the White House to remove an ambassador (as happened with her) — also makes the nation vulnerable to Russian influence.

“Corruption is also a security issue, because corrupt officials are vulnerable to Moscow. In short, it is in America’s national security interest to help Ukraine transform into a country where the rule of law governs and corruption is held in check,” she said, before directly fingering Vladimir Putin as a beneficiary of the administration’s actions in Ukraine.

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, the kind of adventurism Sondland, Giuliani, etc. have participated in are contrary to what should be US interests, and serve private interests, whether Trump's (in getting election assistance) or anyone else's (using the US State Department to finagle things for Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs over the expressed anti-corruption goals of our country and Ukraine's new government). The simple "text" or the scandal is bribery and extortion. The subtext is whether these people, acting corruptly, are even trying to pursue legitimate goals.

The former Ambassador was fired, it appears, because she was doing her job too well for the liking of some people. Trump and Pompeo are doing their jobs too poorly for mine.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Exculpatory.



You know what? This is actually just as shady and funny to me the day after she said it. Today sounds like it will be....a lot of news. You know what Trump could do to distract from it all?

Me either.


UPDATE: Oh. Uh, he did some witness tampering on Twitter during Maria Yovanovich's testimony, while at the same time, his old friend Roger Stone was being convicted for, among other things, witness tampering.

That's great. I wouldn't say it's a distraction, but it certainly has pizzazz.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

TWGB: Where is the Defense?



The funny old thing that wrecks the defense for President Trump is that the White House has not been forthcoming with access to the people who should be able to, reputedly, sort things out. We have the call summary, which is "THE TRANSCRIPT" that Trump has Tweeted that he would very much like us to read, the whistleblower complaint (which we were told is irrelevant since it contains so much hearsay), and the transcripts of the closed-door depositions of people who were very truly adjacent to the apparent extortionate goings-on. And now we have the beginning of the open hearings.

If Team Trump wants a good defense, they shouldn't be expending so much energy on what the whistle-blower knew and when he/she knew it (although the report gives a good accounting of that much), let alone who that person is, because it simply should not matter. We wouldn't suspend a criminal trial on the basis of not knowing who called 911, and we shouldn't hold up anything to do with the impeachment proceedings because we don't know who the whistleblower is. It's a waste of time. The problem is "what was the President of the US about when he apparently extorted the president of another country with aid that was already allotted in exchange for receipt of bad press/oppo research on a potential political opponent?" The whistleblower could be a socialist, a Dallas Cowboys fan, an enthusiastic kiwi fruit eater, a Scientologist--it just doesn't matter as much as what the principals in this matter did.

So, why aren't we hearing from Bolton, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Pence, Trump himself? It should be the case that, were the situation misconstrued and the actual situation wholly innocent, that the persons closest to it could most ably describe what really did occur? Would they not then be providing reams of documents, a surfeit of reasonings, to absolve them of their present dilemma? Why, instead, are the people who would be deemed most circumstantially culpable, like Mulvaney, just out there subpoena-dodging?

Could it be because, to use the vernacular, the defense ain't got shit? Because that is what it is starting to sound like.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Ladies and Gents, This is Lindsey Graham



Senator Lindsey Graham met with his golf buddy Trump and his golf buddy's good friend President Recep Erdogan and has decided that the US Senate should not be so hasty (It's been, like, a century, so?) about condemning the Armenian genocide. He says he's objecting "not because of the past, but because of the future." This is happening while, in the present, Kurds are being subjected to war crimes by Turkey.

Before we condemn Graham too swiftly, he never showed much interest in the history of the genocide of Armenians previously. Opposition to such a resolution has a bit of a history, actually, and it has been rejected before for the same kind set of general reasons--because what does it have to do with what is happening now?

The problem I have with this thinking is that not acknowledging the past is a way of denying the events that led to our present. Today, politicians are already coming up with their reasons for why we're going to be okay with ignoring what is happening to the Kurds. What we tolerated in the past, we demonstrate we can tolerate again. We have already witnessed the senator contort himself over whether Trump's concession to Erdogan in greenlighting his military advance into Syrian Kurdistan was a great "out of the box" idea. We will soon dispense with even sanctions, correct? if Graham become concerned about "the future" where sanctions inhibited Trump's out of the box thinking.

Which I think might mean something to do with Graham's perception of his own future in being elected once again to the Senate in the upcoming 2020 election? Because I know, because Graham has said so himself, he worries about the demographic changes the country is going through and what it means to his party, and he has seen that Trump can harness forces of isolation, resentment, division, and "economic anxiety" to establish a solid turnout regardless of issues of right or wrong, or even what conservatives have previously supported. (Or for that one time. In 2016. With a possible assist.)

Or maybe Graham still just doesn't give a shit about Armenians, because in South Carolina.... except South Carolinians actually do give a good goddamn about people who have suffered. Even if Graham cares a little bit more about himself and his Erdogan and Putin loving friend right now.

Graham is wrong an awful lot. It's the malleability and toady-ness of his wrongness, of late, that is simply striking. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that South Carolina has a lovely alternative who would like very much to work for them, and has not established himself as a Washington DC, Sunday chat show know it all hack who is, staggeringly wrong on moral concerns.