Nel's New Day

March 1, 2019

DDT: Week 110 – Really Bad Week

Following Wednesday’s day-long open testimony before the House Oversight Committee by Michael Cohen, one-time fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), about how DDT runs his business, the grand summit in Vietnam with North Korea ended with a splat when a luncheon signing ceremony was canceled after the table was set. DDT’s tone about Kim Jong-Un was much cooler than his earlier declaration about the love affair with Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. had already stopped the need for a full accounting of North Korea nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. intelligence agencies continually maintain that North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize.

As he earlier said about Vladimir Putin, DDT said, “I will take him at his word,” this time about Kim’s professed ignorance regarding U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in North Korea and was returned with severe brain damage. Warmbier died soon after his release. DDT failed to follow through with his promise to press Kim about human rights abuses: North Korea uses torture and “disappears” people accused of political crimes to prison camps where they cannot communicate the outside world. Before going to the summit, DDT asked Russia for advice on how to deal with North Korea, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was present in Hanoi during the summit. DDT also said he takes Kim “at his word” when he says he won’t be doing any testing of weapons. Kim one of several world dictators who DDT supports, sometimes believing them over U.S. intelligence: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists suffered from DDT’s ire, first forced to move their filing center from the hotel where they stayed because Kim wanted them out. DDT banned four reporters from covering an event—Associated Press, Bloomberg, LA Times, and Reuters—because questions were asked about Cohen’s testimony, showing a dictator that DDT has weakened the constitutional freedom of the press.

Before DDT went to North Korea, he said that he’s in “no rush” to denuclearize North Korea. His aides, including national security adviser John Bolton, predicted the summit would fail, and  Bruce Klingner, analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees “no tangible progress” toward denuclearization since DDT’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. Klingner pointed out that periods of testing moratoriums were longer in previous administrations, and U.S. intelligence notes that North Korea is still building missiles. MIT nuclear expert Vipin Narang said, “We are nowhere. Which is probably exactly where the North Koreans want us to be.”

No longer is DDT falsely claiming that the U.S. has no nuclear threat from North Korea, as he did after the first meeting with Kim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have stopped this claim because he had to lie to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the first time that DDT made this outrageous statement. DDT kept asking Pompeo to explain details of the summit at the press conference before he left Hanoi.

Although DDT complained that the Cohen testimony took attention away from his North Korea summit, he should have been grateful because of his failure in Hanoi. He bragged that Michael Cohen had said “no collusion,” but Cohen reported that DDT knew about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Roger Stone got the Democratic emails from Julian Assange, and nothing went on at the Trump Organization—and probably the campaign—without DDT’s approval.

DDT’s most recent failure comes the disclosure of memos from two White House officials refuting his claim that he had nothing to do with the highest-level security clearance given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner in spite of intelligence officials’ warning against it. Former chief-of-staff John Kelly wrote a memo about how he was “ordered” to give a clearance to Kushner, and former White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a memo about security concerns regarding Kushner that had been raised by the CIA and a recommendation that he not be granted the clearance. Both of those men are gone, but Kushner is still harvesting the highest-level classified information for his personal financial benefit. Kushner also advised the Saudi Crown Prince how to avoid the blame for his murdering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and amid this week’s controversy, Kushner had a friendly meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. This fiasco is not just another of DDT’s peccadilloes; it’s a national security disaster.

The stock market is still sagging despite DDT’s claim about improved trade relationships with China. He supposedly backed off from more tariffs on Chinese goods but provided no details and has no signed official agreements. South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, said DDT’s trade wars have “devastated” her state. She warned that the agriculture disaster can touch “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.” Over 60 percent of voters in the state hoped for a better future with DDT when they voted for him.

DDT is also backing down on steel tariffs, excusing 370 U.S. companies from paying them on imports of up to 4.1 million tons from China, Japan, and other countries. The almost 14,000 exemptions, 59 percent of them for firms with a foreign corporate parent, cover eight percent of the total from China and almost 30 percent from Japan.

In a backlash against DDT’s wall declaration, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) co-sponsored a resolution to terminate the national emergency because it is “an end run around Congress’s power to appropriate.” Collins quoted Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers about the power of the purse being reserved for the legislature as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” She said that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) support the joint resolution.

More than a month after the longest government shutdown in US history ended, a significant number of Transportation Security Administration employees still have not received all of their back-pay.

A former staffer on DDT’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit against him for sexual misconduct outside a rally in Tampa. His behavior followed his claim to a pattern in 2005: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct after he announced his run for president.

White supremacist hate groups have increased by 50 percent to 148 in the two years since DDT was inaugurated. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the “Proud Boys,” in its category of “general hate” and supported by Republicans, as “the most relentless campaign of rightwing street violence in recent memory” in its attendance at frequently violent street rallies. The organization has 44 chapters in 31 states, and its chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was seen in a place of pride at DDT’s Miami rally last month. Tarrio also visited Roger Stone after his arrest by the FBI, and the Proud Boys have a video of Stone’s initiated into their group. The SPLC report also names DDT and his Twitter account for pushing “noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.”

As DDT prepares to hand over nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, leave nuclear power in North Korea, and invade Venezuela, he desperately wants a Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama got one. He bragged about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominating him for the award, avoiding the fact that Abe was asked to do so, probably by Jared Kushner. Abe has not yet verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee. Last year, two “nominations,” both forgeries, came from the same person. Abe has not verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee.

Another Manhattan condo association voted to take the Trump name off the building, the fifth in one neighborhood. In the 11 properties keeping the Trump name, the square footage brings less than in non-DDT-named places.

Release of 2018 ratings for world leadership shows that the U.S. went up only one percent after dropping from 48 to 30 percent between 2017 and 2018. Disapproval is still up 12 points since DDT’s inauguration.

Public opinion is heading in the opposite direction from GOP leadership: Russia is considered the chief enemy of the U.S., and 73 percent of people look at Russia unfavorably—both highs in Gallup polls. In a poll about affirmative action, 65 percent want programs for women, up from 60 percent, and in another high 61 percent want affirmative action for minorities. White people are behind the increase in voting for the need for minorities. DDT is rapidly losing his popularity with Republicans and independents.

June 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Summits

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 10:06 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

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.

 

May 25, 2018

DDT: Week 70 – New U.S. Foreign Policy

China wins. The Asian country has made no commitments about reducing the trade deficits, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is saving jobs in China by lifting sanctions on the Chinese-owned company ZTE. The U.S. government had banned the company from buying U.S. components for seven years because the phones a security risk, used to track service members. ZTE officials as well as for foreign espionage and cyber attacks. Even with a 23-3 vote to keep DDT from lifting these sanctions, the Senate Banking Committee  failed to stop DDT.

During the last week, the U.S. foreign policy on China shifted daily—sometimes hourly. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the trade war was “on hold” because the U.S. had postponed tariffs on China. Hours later, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer told China that DDT might impose tariffs. DDT’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow earlier said that China offered to shrink the trade deficit by $200 billion but followed up on Sunday by saying that the figure was a “rough ballpark estimate” and that the two countries never expected to reach an agreement.

DDT goes to the side that can most benefit him personally, in this case a $500 million loan from China for his personal business. Andrew Ross Sorkin described DDT’s negotiating style:

“Start with a headline-grabbing demand, beat chest loudly, then accept whatever is actually practical and call it a win.”

DDT seems to have forgotten a rule in his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal:

“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, is back in business—literally—after he got his permanence high security clearance. Foreign officials, including those from China and UAE, can return to planning ways to manipulate him as he can enrich his family business by classified intelligence and access to DDT.

North Korea wins. In his desire to get a Nobel Peace Prize, DDT claimed that the summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un might be back on after he pulled out of the agreement yesterday. In a letter refusing the meeting, DDT had used the excuse of Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement” as his excuse. Technically, the hostility came from John Bolton’s and VP Mike Pence’s statements about employing the “Libya model” for North Korea, an action that led to the death and dismemberment for Libya’s leader. DDT gave no warning to South Korea about his withdrawal which weakened South Korea after its buy-in to the summit. The U.S. State Department may not even have been aware of DDT’s letter to Kim that canceled the meeting.

North Korea already dismantled a nuclear test site, most likely because it had become unusable. History repeats itself as North Korea destroyed another site to get rid of George W. Bush’s sanctions, only to later back out of its agreement. DDT tried to look reasonable by not flying planes over North Korea in his military games, but Kim looked much better after he released U.S. prisoners, stopped nuclear and missile testing, and blew up his nuclear testing site. By announcing that the he was backing out of the talks and then backing down from his action a few hours earlier, DDT looks impulsive and rash. He has ignored briefings about North Korea and advice to move more slowly into diplomatic meetings, thus increasing the world’s negative perspective about the U.S. being a failure under his leadership. DDT made Kim into a world leader and proved himself again a quitter while Kim ended up with the moral high ground.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea also benefits from better trade relationships with China, which may take over talks with North Korea after DDT abandoned its leverage. Japan had been left out of the discussions, thus dropping the talks will leave that country less vulnerable. The coalition of Asian companies further isolates the United States. DDT’s letter made threats by implying that U.S. nuclear powers are more “massive and powerful,” a continuation of DDT’s earlier “my button is bigger than your button” comments to Kim. He also said that the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” to take action against North Korea if it engages in a “foolish or reckless act” and that South Korea and Japan are willing to shoulder the costs. The two Asian countries haven’t responded to DDT’s statements—South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was “very perplexed and sorry.”

The Washington Post write in an editorial: “Never has such chaos attended the public behavior of a U.S. president on a matter of such gravity.” A history of the failing summit talks with North Korea.

DDT may meet with Kim so that he doesn’t waste this commemorative coin that’s already being sold for $85. Seth Meyers has a segment on this and other coins.

The back-and-forth approaches toward China and North Korea are DDT’s attempt to divert people from James Clapper’s interviews and new book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, and Clapper’s statement that Russia won the election for DDT, that he is an illegitimate president. Clapper’s interview with Rachel Maddow. Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, also used the word “distorted” in describing DDT’s accusation that the FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled his campaign. That was the subject of a meeting at the White House, first scheduled with only GOP congressional members. Protests led to a second meeting on the same day that included the “Gang of 8, the bipartisan leadership of both the Senate and House. One of the “eight” was missing; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t want to miss a fundraiser to be briefed on a confidential intelligence source in the Russian investigation. DDT’s lawyer Emmet Flood managed to attend the meeting about a government’s case against his client—an unethical and possibly illegal action.

DDT’s hope for diverting more attention was “Spygate,” but the FBI was investigating Russian involvement in DDT’s campaign, not DDT and the members of his campaign. Yet DDT ordered federal agencies to give sensitive information about a person in the investigation to lawmakers who, he was sure, would then give him all the information—all for purely political reasons and in violation of the law After the meeting, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the briefing had no evidence of “Spygate.” Republicans said nothing except Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) twice defended false statements and accused Schiff of leaking classified information.  DDT’s other conspiracy theories to falsely and deliberately divert people from facts:

  • Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (He didn’t.)
  • There were improper unmaskings. (There weren’t.)
  • The FISA warrants related to Carter Page were improper. (They weren’t).
  • It was Democrats who actually colluded with Russia. (They didn’t.)
  • Conspiring FBI officials may be guilty of “treason.” (They aren’t.)
  • “Uranium One” is a real scandal. (It isn’t.)
  • Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) had improper communications with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. (He didn’t.)
  • Every member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is a rabid Democratic partisan. (Mueller is a Republican.)
  • Law enforcement officials ”infiltrated” the Trump campaign, “implanting” a “spy” in the Republican operation. (They didn’t.)

The irony about DDT’s complaints about the FBI investigation into the campaign is that the FBI protected DDT. They concealed the campaign’s connections with Russia until after the election at the same time that they released information about Hillary Clinton with no reason that then led to her losing the election.

Other news from the current administration is so bizarre that most of it appears like satire—except for the disasters of the swamp/sewer facts. The latest piece had to be checked, and it’s true. A sinkhole on the North Lawn of the White House outside the press briefing room is growing every day with another sinkhole nearby. These phenomena develop from loosened soil and can swallow cars, streets, and even homes. Exactly one year ago, a bigger pit opened in front of Mar-a-Lago.

According to religious lore, the Bible states in Numbers:

“But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

The Book of Revelation has a more vivid description:

“When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.”

In that case, the sinkhole might be followed by locusts and scorpions. The most entertaining tweets about DDT’s sinkhole.

Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist, geologist and candidate for a California congressional seat in California, said, “Blame the swamp.” Really.

 

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