Trump’s Washington Bedlam Boogie

Hard to believe, but the rate of neurotic noise produced by Trump seems to have actually increased several more decibels this past week to the point my brain waves are almost completely jammed.  For starters Trump’s Inviting the Taliban to come to Camp David for peace talks around 9/11, to such a hallowed meeting place for world leaders and at such a remarkably bad time, unknown to the general public (meaning us) until he changed his mind.  Don’t ask why?  He gives a reason, but probably it can’t be believed.

Perhaps the oddest thing about this supposed meeting is we might have not heard of it, and its cancellation, had not Trump tweeted about it, as if he wanted credit for at least trying something new even though he backed out.  It is the appearance of doing something well that counts to him, not actually achieving it.

Or take his refusing to admit he was just plain wrong (or at best several days out of date, a danger in itself) about the hurricane threat to Alabama and then played innocent like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar when a reporter asked about what looked like an expansion of the hurricane zone made with a Sharpie like, ah, the one that sits on his desk…………..

I could go on, but I don’t want to. I tried yesterday and just got immensely frustrated grappling with it all.  I just want to repeat over and over the man is nuts.

Of course my walking around repeating Trump is nuts makes me look pretty nutty, too.  So, instead I have looked around in search of someone else to give some depth to this past week and found a piece by Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg Opinion which covers the ground much better than I could.

If you want my mutterings to be fleshed out Google:  Tim O’Brien, Trump,  Taliban, and you’ll see links to the article.  The site seems to be blocking my attempt to link you to it.


BREAKING BEDLAM!   Trump fired John Bolton his latest Director of National Security this morning.  Bolton is a hawk who hasn’t found a war he doesn’t like, to paraphrase someone I can’t recall.  Normally I would be happy to see him go, but at least Bolton has some sense of the difference between reality and a TV reality show.

……………..and Trump does not, or just does not care.   As long as he can make himself look good in the process.  Bolton at least challenged some of Trump’s delusions.  Now I can’t think of anyone in the administration who will.

That’s scary.

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Will McGahn and Mueller Testify Before the House?

Trump loves walls, so now he is trying to build another one sealing off his office from Congress.   He has told his people to ignore subpoenas from the committees in the House that are trying to fulfill their constitutional role of oversight, a role the previous Republican controlled House thought was optional.

Of course the Trumpeters are arguing that this is old news made ancient by the completion of the Mueller report, but there is a problem there:  The Mueller report does not come up with the clear cut conclusions the Trumpsters assert.   It is more complicated than that, requiring Mueller to clarify a number of things to Congress.

My first question would be:  Did you believe that you could not actually indict Trump because of a Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president?  If Mueller did feel constrained it sheds much light on why no obstruction of justice charges were filed.  Not because Trump was innocent, but because Mueller believed department policy prohibited indictments of the president.

I do not know if Mueller is willing, but I certainly hope he is.  Otherwise the summation of the report made by Trump’s disappointing pick for AG, Robert Barr, may be allowed to stand in many a voter’s mind.  “No Collusion.”  “No Obstruction.”

The report is much more nuanced than that, but those nuances must be fought for in order to survive in a Trumptopia where nuances are ignored or blurred or lied about and in the process critical thinking deformed.  Despite all that he lacks, Trump has proved himself a genius at sloganeering and other tricks to fabricate a false world of “alternative facts.”  He has already gotten the jump on the latest Dem presidential candidate, Joe Biden, labeling him “sleepy Joe,” a guy who lacks the smarts to be president.

The Dems should hold a contest for just the right  label to nail Trumpty Dumpty with.   “Deranged Donald” isn’t bad, borrowed from tweets of conservative George Conway, once a backer of Trump and now one of his harshest critics and, YES!, also the husband of Trump’s Queen of Spin, Kelly Anne.  The perfect couple for a Loony Tune Land (see bottom).

Anyway, I’ve Googled around looking for an indication that 1) Mueller and/or former White House counsel Don McGahn are willing to testify before the House and 2) whether Trump can prevent them from doing so.  I can’t find anything clear cut about that.  However, since neither work for the president anymore and he has already allowed McGahn to testify fully to Mueller (without claiming executive privilege),  I’m thinking both will eventually testify to Congress.

Or should I say I hope to high heavens that is the case.   Ah, but yesterday I heard that Trump helped make McGahn’s testimony more likely, as the Trumpster has accused McGahn of lying to Mueller………..which would be a crime, so I would think McGahn would want to testify again under oath refuting Trump’s claims to the public at large.

Thanks for your help on this Mr. president.


P. S. – By now I would think most if not all of you are aware of how the Trump presidency has placed a lot of stress on the family life of George and Kellyanne Conway.   Both were Trump supporters at the beginning of his presidency, but while Kellyanne defends Trump’s actions daily, George has turned completely against the president, skewering him often on Twitter, even calling for his impeachment.  Want to know more?  Check out this piece from the BBC.

Theatre of the Absurd: The Trumped Up Border Crisis

It’s a new year but the only thing new about the president is his willingness to place even more weight on the phony facts he and his rabid right wing cohorts, like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, have made up.

Some of these “alternative facts” support the idea that we now need a southern border wall so much that Trump has been willing to shut down much of the federal government for weeks, displacing hundreds of thousands of workers and weakening key services in hopes the Democrats will submit to his demands for wall funding.

That’s Trump’s idea of deal making:  You succumb to his demands or get blamed for an unwillingness to negotiate.

Trump hasn’t acted like the wall was an emergency through his first two years in office.  It’s an emergency now because the likes of Limbaugh and Coulter are calling him a phony for failing to act.  Since he can’t get his way with Congress,  calling the building of a wall an emergency may be his only way to escape the box he has placed himself in.

The matter would likely head straight to the courts, the government could be reopened and Trump can tell Rush and Anne and his base in general he really tried.

We don’t need a southern wall.  Trump needs one to quiet his critical supporters.  The Democrats are right to refuse to succumb, for the wall makes no sense.

Here are a few of facts from government sources that undermine his arguments for a wall:

1)  The overwhelming quantity of drugs come across the border at points of entry not through the wilderness that Trump wants to fence off.  Better search methods are needed, not a fence.

2)   Despite Trump’s claim of thousands of terrorist suspects coming across the southern border, federal government reports suggest it was more like six in the first half of 2018.  Yes, six.  Forty-some came across the northern border that nobody talks about.   Should we build a wall there, too?  And first?

3)  Most foreign terrorist suspects come into the country legally and then just overstay their visas.

4)  Since 9/11, the large majority of terrorists attacks in the U. S. have come from home grown types who have become radicalized not from foreigners infiltrating our borders.

Certainly we could use better border security, not to mention a more humane way of treating  the large increase of those simply seeking political asylum, but Trump’s wall seems to address none of these issues.  It is a fake answer to our real border problems, not only a wasted effort but one that distracts from real needs to be addressed.

The five billion or so dollars he is demanding to start the wall is really, just a start.  Estimates from 40 to 80 billion or more have been made for the total cost.  So, this fake answer to a phony problem is also going to cost us a fortune.

By the way, I watched a clip of Trump at the border being given a briefing by border security.  The officer was showing slides of a tunnel they recently discovered under a section of the wall already built.  Trump just sat there nodding as if unaware the border agent had just provided one more tunnel undermining his argument for a wall.

No matter to him.  It is all a Trump fabrication to shore up his base with a false solution to a mischaracterized problem.

 

 

We Must Hammer Away at Trump’s Alternate Reality

Trump and his minions shoot blobs of B. S. (distortions of truth in various ways) up in the air like a string of clay ducks in never ending rapid fashion.  The main stream press does a good job of shooting many down, but does not handle well the problem of how they keep popping up like zombies.

Trump’s plan is based on continually lying until voters get totally bamboozled and don’t bother to listen to anyone, except for those fanatics who think of Trump as the lone purveyor of the truth.

How ironic, one of history’s great snake oil salesmen as the one guy to be trusted.

The press can’t keep shooting the same ducks down as more and more keep popping up and there is only so much time for them to report.   In short we are facing a unique problem:   A strategy  based on an overwhelming effusion of B. S. repeated until reified as an alternative reality can overpower the truth when a society ceases to believe there is such a thing in the realm of politics.

This is scary.

What I think is needed is a concentration on which of Trump’s multitude of falsehoods need to be smashed again and again, because they form the key pillars of Trump’s false reality. To allow them to stand is to allow him to keep building upon them.   A good example is the notion that despite his obsequiousness before Putin in that press conference at Helsinki, Trump’s policies have actually been tough on Putin’s Russia.

Few Republicans defend that mealy mouthed performance in Helsinki, but they often are quick to point out that his policies have been tough even if his words have not.

Most often cited are the sanctions on Russia…… as if they prove Trump’s toughness in terms of policies.   This is a great example of how something can seem on the surface to be true, but is not.  Many of these sanctions have been applied, not because of Trump but despite him.   He deserves no credit for them.

Here is a thumbnail sketch that links sources that can give you a more complete picture if you want one.

Back in June of 2017  the Chicago Tribune reported the Senate ” voted overwhelmingly on sanctions  including restricting Trump administrations from altering them”, in other words weaken them.  Obviously, almost the entire Senate did not trust Trump to be tough on Russia.  Then that August the entire Congress passed a bill mandating sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The Trump administration dragged their heels at enacting these sanctions until January of this year.  They finally enacted some of the sanctions, but not others as reported in Politico.

Finally in May the Washington Post reported:   “The top Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Banking committees asked the inspectors general of three federal agencies Friday to launch formal probes into why President Trump has not fully implemented congressionally mandated sanctions against Russia.”  Yes, still the ones passed last August in Congress and some since then.

And Trump supporters want to give him credit for these sanctions?   Yes, these sanctions were enacted while he was president, but he deserves no credit for them.  Just the reverse.  They are more evidence of Trump’s tendency to go soft on Russia.  One Trump supporter, obviously grasping at straws in a TV interview, gave Trump credit because he did not veto the sanctions.

The interviewer should have pointed out to that nebbish that vetoing the measure would make Trump look silly as Congress was almost totally united on the issue.  It took Trump to unite them for once…. against him.

My hope here is to make the case that the political media must refuse to allow fabrications like Trump’s toughness with Russia to remain standing while they move on to other topics in their interviews.   And we can help by pointing out such things to the media we attend to.

Some key untruths must not be allowed to stand as we approach the fall elections and this is one of them.

The Essence of the Helsinki Summit: Trump Looked Small and Putin Won Big

Mr. Trump’s performance before the press after meeting Vladimir Putin privately for over two hours (only the two presidents and their interpreters) is being called “disgraceful,” “disastrous” and “shameful”, not only by Democrats but by many Republicans.  This seems likely to linger longer than most of Trump’s gaffs, so let’s take a look at it.

Much of the criticism of Trump stems from his answers to two questions by AP reporter Jonathan Lamire.   Below are the questions and Trump’s response.  On the world stage he looked the part of a buffoon.  Still defending his election win, unable to think beyond what impacts him, rambling, dodging, distracting, fabricating and in the end failing to answer the first question and ignoring the second, leaving the sense that he trusts Putin at least as much as our own intelligence services.   Let me add one more adjective:  Deranged.  You decide…

“Question ….. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.   … who do you believe?……My second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching…….warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. Okay? Thank you.”


P. S.  –  Putin’s “incredible offer” was that that his intelligence services would work with ours to, it seems, get to the bottom of all these accusations.  As if the recent indictment of several Russians giving details of their culpability was just a puff piece in a local gossip column.

If you want to look at the entire transcript of that press conference you can find it here.

The Great Pretender and the Fall Elections

From my posts of the last couple of months or so you might have sensed that I am getting done in by the murkiness exuded hour by hour in Trumptopia.   I have a mind boggling chain of thoughts that get twisted up and fogged over so quickly they are beyond my capacity to deal with them.

I think of those boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.   Metaphorically like them I feel stuck amidst forces I can’t control. Unlike them I am not facing possible death as a result, but I do have the feeling of being swept away.   Like their fates, the mid-terms seem up for grabs.   As with their fates, I don’t have a handle on whether or not the American voters will endorse or reject the nature of Trumpism.

Trump has polluted the collective mind sphere so thoroughly with his alternative facts, distortions and just plain lies I can’t tell who will be persuaded by what.  Especially the “who” who are the tipping pointers, that significant bunch of late deciders that prompted Trump’s election victory.   If the economy remains good that might be all it takes to push the meter towards Trump.  The axiom holds true from the first Clinton presidential run.  “It’s the economy stupid.”

Here is where ultra liberals are myopically clueless.   They think that because they are ultra sensitive to issues like race or the separation of mothers from babies of those entering the U. S. illegally, that most of the country is.   Worse, they think everyone should be.   As a conservative political commentator (who doesn’t like Trump) put it recently, Trump is not conservative:  He is anti-liberal.  And a lot of Americans obviously respond to that.

I’m thinking about Trump’s daily splurge of lies, distortions and showman distractions – like which super conservative he will pick for the Supreme Court Monday night.  Should he pick tweedle dee or tweedle dum? Or maybe tweedle tweedle?  A political commentator whom I respect referred today to Monday night’s announcement as “must see TV.”

No it’s not.  He has fallen into the Trump vortex, the same swirl that drew commentators to talk about the Trump/Kim “historic meeting” in Singapore.  Have you noticed in recent days that the North Koreans now charge us with trying to deal with them mafia style, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refers to the same meetings in NOKO as making substantial progress?  (The last thing his boss wants is for his promises of our no longer having to fear NOKO to become a laughing stock.)

ENOUGH!

Basically we are all waiting to see what happens in the fall mid-terms, so until October I will try to spare you my jumbled thoughts.   If something really grabs me, something that might actually seem important regarding the fall elections or can illuminate this ongoing public psychic mess, I’ll write about it, but otherwise no.

That’s all I can do at this point.

 

Trump declares North Korea ‘no longer a nuclear threat’….Really??

When it comes to creating illusions, my first thought would normally be David Copperfield, but the “historic event” in Singapore that Trump ginned up takes the cake.  Like most I would agree with Churchill’s statement that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war.”  But if the continued jawing creates a false fantasy of progress, that is a danger in itself.  Pleasant dreams our nice, but at some point we must wake up.

“No longer a nuclear threat,” Trump tweets.  Why?  Because he got a long famously with the former little rocket man who Trump now views (or says he does, who knows?) as “talented… funny… smart… a man who loves his people”.

Loves his people?  This is a guy blamed for the murder of his half-brother, not to mention many others in his regime who he viewed as threats.  And this is also a guy who has continued the family tradition of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of possible detractors earning his nation the reputation of being the most oppressive on earth.

All Kim Jong Un offered was a promise to “work toward the complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula”…… No specifics whatsoever (including what complete denuclearization means) and Trump treats this as a huge victory for peace from a nation that has broken every arms agreement it has made with us.  Trump was so grateful to appear to have made peace that he offered to stop joint military exercises with South Korea (like the ones this August), or at least suspend them until further notice.

(This must have come off the cuff as South Korea and other allies along with our military seemed startled at the announcement).

In exchange for this fantasy the American president acted like he just found his long lost brother while the world watched Trump embrace the most oppressive dictator on the globe as if we Americans had no history of being the beacon of freedom in the world.

This is where Trump’s lack of knowledge and concern about history comes into play.   His sense of history goes back about two weeks, the time he and Kim have been being nice to each other.  As he has indicated, all he knows is that with him Kim has been a fun guy, a guy who Trump believes he can do business with.

Gag me with a spoon.   Trump has pulled out of the Iran agreement for being too weak.  It has over 100 specific, verifiable demands that Iran has been meeting, while all he has from Kim is a promise to try to work things out.  It is that belief alone that separates us from NOKO being a nuclear threat.  All the threats and tough talk and this empty document is what Trump got out of it.  It is only about two to four pages depending how you space it…… Hey, you can read it in 10 minutes (includes a break to get coffee).

What I find particularly irritating is the tendency for commentators to call this meeting a “historic event,”  even those quite critical of it.   Such a term tends to carry positive connotations, implying – as Trump claims – that only he could bring about such a meeting.

WRONG, VERY WRONG………..  the Kim family line has always craved such a meeting, but previous presidents did not want to legitimize this string of dictators in the world’s eye.  Dictators who, to remind you again, have broken every arms agreement we have made with them.

Now, with the president saying “there is no longer a nuclear threat,” how can we hold together the nations that have been sanctioning North Korea?   Those who call this a historic event should occasionally note that such events are not always good, such as the Munich agreement between Hitler and English prime minister Chamberlain, who believed Hitler could be bargained with and when returning home announced to his nation that he had “saved peace in our time.”  A premature judgement if there ever was one.

When it comes to being a historic event, I’ll borrow Trump’s frequent answer to any question that touches upon the future “We’ll have to wait and see.”

I’ll wait to see if this mutual expression of good will between two of the biggest liars on the planet actually leads to a North Korean denuclearization plan with  a series of verifiable steps.   Until then,  I’ll just mark this summit down as one more self-congratulatory publicity stunt by the man I affectionately think of as Trumpenstein.

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P. S. – I did not cover all of the wacky elements of the Singapore meeting.   Trump also presented Kim with a four minute movie apparently designed to dazzle him with the economic possibilities of playing ball with us.  This film was labelled “sensational idiocy” by the folks at the New Yorker, a term that pretty much sums up my sense of the entire summit.  Take a glance at the video and the magazine’s response here.