Nel's New Day

June 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Summits

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 10:06 PM
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It was the best of summits. It was the worst of summits. At least in the behavior exhibited by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Just four days ago, DDT went to meet with five European leaders and the Japanese prime minister at the G-7 summit. He was determined to insult them and succeeded. He arrived late on Friday, refused to wear casual clothing, disrupted speeches at the breakfast on Saturday by arriving half way through them, and left five hours early for his meeting in Singapore so that he could arrive over 30 hours early.

The leaders tolerated DDT’s threats that they would suffer severe penalties if they didn’t reduce their trade deficits. He told each country what it “owed” the U.S. on trade and defense. DDT spent one meeting rambling about Germany cheating the U.S. with its car sales and then moved to his grandfather being German and DDT loved Europe. At a long press conference, he said that the U.S., which owes $6.29 trillion to other nations is no longer “the piggy bank that everybody is robbing.” His only vaguely positive comment to the leaders was that earlier U.S. leaders were to blame for the trade imbalance.

Once DDT escaped the meeting, he used Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a scapegoat when he turned on the G-7 and changed his mind about signing the joint communique. He refused to sign an agreement that agreed on the need for “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism and called “Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak.” For the first time in 45 years, the group failed to have a unanonymous agreement on a statement of broad goals and principles.

DDT’s White House staff went out on Sunday shows to brutally attack Trudeau. The day after economic adviser Larry Kudlow had to deliver DDT’s message that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow was hospitalized with a heart attack. DDT wanted media attention for his rants to prove his strength to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, but much of the response from the world was negative.

This photo, posted on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s team as “a spontaneous meeting between two working sessions,” shows an expression that he has never used on Vladimir Putin. European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt imagined Merkel was saying, “Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help.” In embarrassment, DDT lied and said that he released the photo. Trudeau also gave DDT a photo of his grandfather’s “hotel” in Canada, a gold rush brothel “known for good food, booze and ready women.” DDT’s grandfather moved to Canada after he was expelled froBavaria for avoiding the draft.

DDT’s demand that Russia be put back with the group for the earlier G-8 was largely ignored. He claimed, “We didn’t do votes or anything, but it has been discussed.” DDT blamed President Obama for Russia annexing Crimea but said nothing about Russia meddling in U.S. elections or an investigation regarding Russia. According to French news, the six leaders agreed without DDT that Russia wasn’t welcome without the nation’s making changes and that Europeans were united in defending trade rules and the Paris climate change agreement. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Europe must defend its interests and strengthen alliances with countries such as Japan and Canada.

A Reuters photographer shot a photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron’s thumbprint on DDT’s hand after a handshake.

DDT directed much of his anger toward Canada’s 270 percent tariff on dairy, egg, and poultry products. Canada’s regulation on dairy production in the nation keeps prices high enough for farmers. U.S.  over-production brings the prices down and drives farmers into debt and bankruptcy so DDT wants to dump the surplus in Canada which would drive down their prices. Yet the U.S. controls prices on such items as tobacco and sugar.

To break the dairy tariff from Canada, DDT put tariffs on aluminum and steel, hurting U.S. consumers. Tariffs have two purposes: restrict imports and make money for the government. In his “Make America First” speeches, DDT has told other countries that they protect themselves. When Trudeau follows DDT’s advice, he is subjected to vicious insults from DDT’s “diplomats.” DDT’s tax cuts for huget companies and the rich created so much economic damage to the U.S. budget that he is desperate to cover these losses.

A photo-op of the G-7 v. G-1 leaders shows the tension. To DDT, loyalty toward him is all. To the rest of the world, loyalty from allies has meant nothing. DDT’s ghost writer for The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, states that DDT’s behavior toward allies will only grow worse, based on his past experiences with the man in charge of U.S. foreign affairs.

Before DDT went to the meeting with Kim Jong-Un, he explained when he knew he could trust Kim. “Within the first minute, I’ll know. Just my touch, my feel—that’s what I do,” DDT’s response to a question about when he will recognize whether Kim can be trusted. The Trump and Kim Celebrity Show took off in the U.S. during prime time on Monday, planned like everything else for its spectacle. The spectacle didn’t disappoint: DDT looked and sounded like a middle school students with his first crush on another boy. [The photo by Kevin Lim looks like time out at camp.] Kim, the person who DDT “honored,” has run a ruthless regime by executing at least 300 officials and family members in three purges, brutally imprisoning people accused of “disloyalty,” miring North Korea in economic ruin and poverty, and consistently threatening the U.S. and the world with nuclear disaster. Justin Trudeau, who deserves a “special place in hell” according to DDT’s minion, politely leads a nation that has always supported U.S. national security.

DDT and Kim have strong similarities: both have nuclear weapons and alternate between flattery and hateful comments for the other. Both are thin-skinned alpha males with the philosophy that “I alone can fix it.” Both are pathological liars with explosive tempers who are determined to appear dominant, especially with a focus on the military. Intelligence agencies’ profile of Kim sounds much like that of DDT—”Gluttonous, prone to fits of anger and swaggering around his classmates … an in-attendant student [who] demanded slavish loyalty.” Also “prone to violence,” “didn’t do well in school,” “distracted a lot,” and makes vague and grand declarations. Kim and DDT have three major differences: age, ethnicity, and smarts. DDT may understand Kim better than he does Trudeau because he is so much like Kim. As DDT said after their meeting, he and Kim will have a “terrific relationship.”

Abby Huntsman recognized the similarities when she called the summit a “meeting between two dictators”—“this is history”—but then apologized for what pundits are calling a “gaffe.” One tweet called her statement “probably the most honest thing ever said in the program’s history.”

What did DDT get from the U.S./North Korea agreement? Kim will talk to DDT, shutter a missile engine testing site that is probably of no use, and return of the remains of U.S. service members lost in North Korea over 60 years ago. DDT said he discussed “real estate and beachside hotel opportunities,” and his approval ratings will probably go up.

What did North Korea get? North Korea declared the meeting a win for them, stating that DDT will lift sanctions against North Korea as well as stopping war exercises. Kim may keep his nuclear arms and ballistic missiles while DDT damages U.S. relations with South Korea by stopping war exercises and pulling 32,000 military members from the country without consulting his own military leaders or telling South Korea officials. DDT shows no concern about the huge violations of human right in North Korea and said, “Kim loves his people.” Kim can continue develop of these weapons. Most important for Kim, he is now recognized in the world as an equal of the president of the United States. This fact-checker points out the fallacies of DDT’s statements after the summit and North Korea’s betrayals after deals in 1994 and 2005.

Two necessary pieces of this denuclearization process was timelines and veritication DDT’s definition: timetable – “period of time”; verify: “ develop a certain trust.” Asked if he doesn’t get what North Korea promised, DDT said, “I’ll find some kind of excuse.”

The empty language in the document, affirming the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration signed by North Korea and South Korea in April, lacked goals and process. It was intended to play for time. Now DDT needs to do nothing before the 2018 midterm elections and very little before 2020. He has already said that denuclearization with North Korea takes a long time, but there are no discussions of inspections to show that weapons not be produced as in the Iran deal. DDT complained about the bad Iran deal, but President Obama didn’t shake Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s hand, calling it a great honor and then saying they had a “terrific relationship” with no results except giving away leverage and getting nothing in return.

At one time, the United States felt like a democracy that moved toward granting human rights. Voter suppression, Russian meddling, white nationalism influence, and exchange of friendship with democratic allies to autocratic regimes has moved the United States toward an oligarchy where the president uses the nation as his personal financial piggy bank. It is a new look at U.S. foreign policy.

 

June 8, 2018

DDT: Week 72 – The Dictator

Some people have taken offence at my use of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) , but the term now appears more frequently. From South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel editorial board:

“A dictator occupies the White House. That word should not be uttered lightly, but it defines with precision any head of state who, like Donald Trump, declares himself to be above the law.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer alluded to the “dictator” in DDT:

“[Trump] said he had the absolute power to pardon himself, and then a few minutes later he said that the special counsel is unconstitutional. He’s 0 for 2 on the Constitution. We do not have a dictatorship; the Founding Fathers did not want a king.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (R-HA) said that DDT “thinks he is a dictator and king” and “afraid” of the Mueller investigation results.

DDT has proved his dictatorship by tweeting:

“I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

And “… the appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” [Congress passed a law allowing this ?

Sunday DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that DDT could shoot former FBI director James B. Comey in the Oval Office and not be indicted for any crime because he is the president. “In no case can [DDT] be subpoenaed or indicted.” In 1998, when Bill Clinton was president, Giuliani said that if the president is subpoenaed to testify, “he’s gotta do it. He has no choice.” The 1998 Giuliani also said:

“Under the criminal law, everyone should be treated the same. And I know there are some people that say the president should be treated stricter. … as far as the criminal law is concerned, the president is a citizen.”

About Giuliani’s comment that DDT can pardon himself, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said:

“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that said I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer.

Giuliani also trashed Stormy Daniels because she is a porn queen and sells her body. Megyn Kelly answered:

“Melania Trump is classy and gorgeous and I really admire her. But she has posed nude for GQ magazine back in 2000. And so to suggest that Trump would never respect, and that Giuliani wouldn’t respect, anybody who’s ever sold her body for sexual exploitation—I’m not comparing the two, posing nude is not the same as being a porn star. But, come on! Being an adult film star does not make you a liar.”

Not an elegant statement, but clear. And it’s not an attack on DDT’s wife; she did sell her body. DDT asked for the photographs, and the shoot was listed on his first White House website as one of her greatest achievements.

On Tuesday, DDT repeated his attacks on AG Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from any Russian issues and dumped on the DOJ Inspector General:

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey….”

DDT is pressuring Michael Horowitz to release negative information, but early reports about the investigation indicate no pattern of deception or intent to make personal use of classified information. Horowitz also concluded Comey should not have publicly re-opened the investigation into Clinton’s emails just ten days before the election. The report makes Rod Rosenstein’s cover story more accurate, but DDT has already negated that excuse for firing Comey by claiming that it was because of Russia. Thus the report provides more support for the belief that DDT’s election is illegitimate.

By Thursday, DDT accused President Obama of illegally transferring money to Iran and demanded an investigation. A two-year investigation by the Republican staff of a Senate panel released a report the day before DDT’s demands. It found no illegal action in arranging for Iran to obtain its own money in part of the Iran agreement. WaPo provided extensive details about the arrangement and gave DDT four Pinocchios for lying.

DDT claimed that Robert Mueller’s investigation has cost $17 million (equivalent to five weekends for DDT to play golf at Mar-a-Lago). Yet an examination shows that the costs were much less. In reporting costs, Mueller included DOJ employee costs that existed without the investigation that brings actual expenditures down to $7.7 million—a little above two weekends for DDT—compared to the $110.4 million paid to investigate Bill Clinton. No other investigator has added in costs for salary and benefit costs that would be paid anyway. The costs of investigating Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton $100 million—each!—without consideration for inflation or inhouse costs, and Congress is still investigating Hillary Clinton. DDT’s accusations that Mueller’s investigation costs up to $20 million and are exorbitant win him two Pinocchios for lying.

Unhappy about going to the G-7 summit in Canada, DDT left late for the Friday meeting and will skip the Saturday sessions to head to Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong-Un. He’s in the midst of a contentious situation after putting tariffs on most of the allies, especially those represented at the summit, and he gave a full-throated support for the reinstatement of Russia, the country that meddled in U.S. elections, to the G-7 before he left for the summit. Russia was expelled from the G-8 in 2014 after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. At that time, the group became the G-7; DDT’s behavior may bring the group down to G-6. Putin is gloating about what he calls the U.S. “sanctions” on its allies, saying that it vastly decreases U.S. dominance in the world.

DDT has spent the week alienating allies, beginning with his response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about how U.S. tariffs are for national security:

“Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

The British burned down the White House in 1812 when Canada wasn’t even a nation because the U.S. wanted tariff-free trade with Britain. Emmanuel Macron recommended a general rebuke at the summit to the U.S. and suggested that foreign leaders stop engaging with the U.S. until DDT is gone.

DDT’s trade wars have extended to North America, Europe, and large Asian countries. After Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with China’s top economic official, Vice premier Liu He, China announced that its nation won’t be expanding imports from the U.S. if DDT follows through on his threat to tax billions of dollars of Chinese goods. Meanwhile China is glorying in the possibility that it will assume the past dominance that the United States has experienced. The World Bank warns that DDT’s trade wars can cause a decline as bad as or worse than the 2008 financial crisis, and congressional members are proposing a bill to block DDT’s tariff power. In its cover, The Economist indicated its concern about DDT’s foreign policy.

In his first 500 days, DDT has made only five international trips, the most recent one almost six months ago for a day at the World Economic Forum. VP Mike Pence was sent to meet with Latin American leaders in April, but Pence’s going to Canada was not an option after DDT and the GOP started worrying about Pence having more power than he does.

A DDT excuse about not wanting to face the allies he alienated at G-7 is getting ready for meeting Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. Reasons that this excuse is bogus:

  • DDT has done nothing to get ready to the meeting except its spectacle.
  • DDT has not convened any Cabinet-level meeting about the summit has been convened, indicating his reliance on improvisation at the meeting.
  • DDT has not presided over national security council officials for discussions.
  • DDT thinks he doesn’t need to prepare. DDT said, “I don’t think I have to prepare very much…. It’s about attitude.”

The meetings with Kim may not last long: DDT keeps saying that he’ll leave if he doesn’t immediately get what he wants from North Korea.

Melania Trump reappeared after 25 days and sat quietly next to DDT during his 16-minute FEMA briefing speech regarding hurricane preparedness: topics included his prowess at negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, his effective political endorsements, the GOP’s fortunes, Defense Department purchasing guidelines, dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, love of coal, success in meeting with Kim Jong-Un,  praise for EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, and “the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what’s happened.” About hurricanes, little, and deaths in Puerto Rico, nothing.

Democrats have the lead over Republicans in all demographic groups except white men who have not graduated from college (37 percent more supportive of the GOP than Democrats) and all whites (just three points separation). Republicans are losing among white college graduates by 24 points. In competitive House districts, almost entirely GOP held, voters will support a representative who promises to check DDT by 52 to 19 percent and one who opposed DDT more of the time by 55 to 28 percent. Voters have already flipped 42 GOP state seats to Democrats since DDT’s inauguration, including one in Missouri this past week. The GOP flipped seven seats from Democrats.

 

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