Category Archives: Trump

Stormy Weather

We are living in amazing times. We are in the midst of a tempest that is battering the ship of state up to and perhaps beyond its limits. Scandals abound and our democratic institutions are teetering. The ship is foundering. Leaks and defections are rotting its timbers. Congress whimpers as we sink lower by the day.

 

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Trump’s teeny Twitter feed

Trump basks in the adoration of his fans

Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is followed by fewer than 50 million. By comparison, Barack Obama’s followers number over 100 million. What is more interesting is the number of people they themselves follow. Obama follows 634 thousand. Notice that Trump follows 45! Forty-five! Curious to see who these favored few are? Check out the list. There is no one who is not related to Trump’s own business, golf, family or politics. Everyone he follows is related to him in some way. Trump gets no news from outside his small, personal circle.

Summary

6 Golf and golf courses

2  Hotels

1  Business

7  Family and 2 friends

18 Media: 9 Fox News, 9 other

4  White House

5  Politics

 

Golf: Trump Golf; Gary Player, golfer

Trump golf courses

Doral, Miami; Charlotte; Washington, DC; Los Angeles

Trump hotels

Trump Vegas; Trump Chicago

Trump business

Trump Organization

Family and other personal

Tiffany, daughter; Vanessa, daughter-in-law; Lara, daughter-in-law; Melania, wife; Eric, son; Donald Jr, son; Ivanka, daughter

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer; Vince McMahon, billionaire WWE CEO & promoter

Media: TV, Web

Fox News: Tucker Carlson; Jesse Watters; Laura Ingraham; Sean Hannity; Fox Nation; Fox and Friends; Eric Bolling, former host; Bill O’Reilly; Greta Van Susteren, formerly Fox News

Drudge Report; Ann Coulter, conservative pundit; Diamond and Silk; Trump fan club; Katrina Campins, real estate, Fox News, The Apprentice;  Geraldo Rivera, reporter; Mark Burnett, TV; Piers Morgan, TV host; Roma Downey, producer of religious films

White House

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Press Secretary; @WhiteHouse; Dan Scavino, Dir Social Media; Kellyanne Conway, adviser

Politics

Mike Pence, VP; Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager; Reince Priebus, former chief of staff; Katrina Pierson, Tea Party activist & Trump campaign; Team Trump MAGA

 

 

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Trump’s effect on stock market

The market’s performance during his presidency is not what Trump would have us believe. Catherine Rampel (@crampel), Washington Post columnist, tweets

Presidents don’t control stock markets. But since Trump has been so fond of touting his stock market record, here’s what markets have done since inauguration for him vs. during same period in Obama’s presidency. Net gains was  [sic] more than double at this point under Obama. (Emphasis mine)

SPY = ETF that tracks S&P 500

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Red Square on Pennsylvania Avenue?

What vision does Trump aspire to?

Beijing’s Tiananmen Square?

 

 

 

 

Moscow’s Red Square?

 

 

 

 

Pyongyang?

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump used to boast of his familiarity with the military until it became well known that a military prep school, not the battlefield (which he shirked with five deferments), was his training ground. No matter his old gambit no longer salutes. Now as president, he surrounds himself with generals. He demands their loyalty and their submission when they differ. Gen. John Kelly, who previously headed Homeland Security, has largely succeeded in his role as gatekeeper. Kelly fully endorses the president’s hard-line immigration policies, including the Muslim ban. Gen. Jim Mattis heads the Department of Defense, and Gen. Mike Pompeo directs the C.I.A.

This week Trump expressed his reverence for the military with his desire for a parade of American military power. He wants the display of overwhelming force to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, evoking similar spectacles in Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and even in 1930s Berlin. American soldiers may not march (yet) in goose step, but the very image makes the blood run cold. Trump seemingly aspires to join the ranks of Mao Tse Tung, Hitler and his apparent favorite, Vladimir Putin. These despots crushed resistance through terror and silenced the opposition by eliminating the free press and any who questioned their absolute authority.

Are we there yet? No, but the signs are clear. American democratic institutions have functioned as intended by the Founders. Most of the press is assiduously investigating and documenting the actions and effects of the Trump administration. The courts have mostly stayed or reversed Trump’s harsher initiatives. The legislature, however, is dragging its feet. It has the power, but not the will, to resist Trump’s undemocratic directives. Will Congress have the courage to deny Trump his fantasy? Pennsylvania Avenue is not a military parade ground. Americans don’t do that. (Not to mention the enormous, budget-busting cost!). Is paranoid to consider that the parade, with its enormous numbers of military personnel and weapons moved to the seat of the government, could be a ploy to facilitate a military junta? How many once unthinkable actions has this president taken?

Today, border patrols and immigration agents (ICE) terrorize immigrants. The media are assailed with with relentless and unprecedented presidential fury. Trump undercuts, then emasculates and ultimately fires his own appointees when they are “disloyal” and don’t execute his edicts. As Trump’s judges assume control of the judiciary and his generals adapt to their civilian roles, as Trump’s violations of custom lose their ability to outrage, as voter suppression becomes commonplace, when truth and fake news become indistinguishable, the avenues to choking the incipient autocracy and reviving democracy will become impassable.

Let us not comfort ourselves by thinking “it can’t happen here.” That’s what the German Jews said.

Hitler’s Wehrmacht

 

 

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Russian oligarchs and now “Baby Doc” too

Trump’s vicious smear of Haiti is coming back to bite him. 

On Monday, Haiti’s high court held an emergency session to allow the unsealing after 35 years of the documents from the indictments of former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier for money laundering. After three decades under wraps, the timing of their release to the public can hardly be an accident. The revelation that in 1983 Donald Trump signed the deed and accepted $446,875 in cash from the brutal and corrupt tyrant for an apartment in Trump Tower followed on the heels of Trump’s widely reported slur of the Caribbean island.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 2011
by Marcello Casal Jr

Paying cash is one indication of possible money laundering; selling to unidentified buyers or shell corporations is another.

Haiti’s president had no knowledge of the sealed documents— he learned of them through the reporting of Buzzfeed News on Trump’s likely facilitation of money laundering by Americans and wealthy foreigners through the sale of apartments in his luxury condominiums.

The report took months to prepare. BuzzFeed investigated every sale of the 22 Trump-branded condominium high rises in the United States since the 1980s. They identified more than 1,300 all-cash sales to shell companies— no mortgages, so that the buyers had no imperative to reveal their real identities or finances.

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2017 warned that

real estate transactions involving luxury property purchased through shell companies—particularly when conducted with cash and no financing—can be an attractive avenue for criminals to launder illegal proceeds while masking their identities.

BuzzFeed calculated that Trump condo sales matching the Treasury’s characteristics of possible money laundering totaled $1.5 billion. They accounted for 21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US and include Trump-branded buildings that pay the president(!) licensing fees or a percentage of the sales. BuzzFeed found that between 2008 and 2010, 11 buildings licensed by Trump sold condos to hundreds of shell companies, all paying an average of $1.2 million cash. Trump revealed in 2015, reports BuzzFeed, that his “real estate licensing deals” and other brands were worth $3.3 billion. 

Steve Bannon thinks Russian collusion won’t be Trump’s main problem with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff. “You realize where this is going,” Wolff says Bannon told Trump. “This is all about money laundering.”

Early on, Trump had warned Mueller not to cross the line by investigating his or his family’s finances. Bannon reportedly scoffed at the president, pointing out that by telling a prosecutor where not to go, you direct his investigation precisely there.

As it happens, Mueller has hired Andrew Weissman, a Washington attorney who used  to head the criminal fraud division of the Justice Department. He specializes in money laundering.

Steve Bannon will testify under subpoena before a grand jury tomorrow, and after losing his position in the Trump administration, his seat on the Breitbart board, his editorship of Breitbart News, his radio show, his financial backing from the billionaire Mercer family, not to mention his close friendship with Trump, what does he have left to lose?

Stay tuned.

Correction: It is not known when Bannon will before the Grand Jury.

Update

Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller today to appear before a grand jury, a very unusual move. Normally, a conversation (not under oath) takes place first.

In an other very unusual move, The House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election issued a bipartisan subpoena to Bannon after he refused to answer questions in a nine-hour closed-door session. There has never been a bipartisan subpoena before.

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“Shithole countries”

When the U.S. president speaks, the world listens.

And reacts. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whom Trump calls “Little Rocket Man,” in return has denounced Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” But the latest frenzy is another order of magnitude— not a pissing match between puerile grown men, but an odious smear of countries on two continents.

In a meeting yesterday Trump let loose when lawmakers were discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he asked. Instead, he said, we should have more people from Norway and countries like it, i.e., whose people are white, not black or brown. In short order, the president’s words were broadcast worldwide.

Angered by the insult and mincing no words, world leaders denounced Trump as a racist. Rupert Colville, UN human rights spokesman, began by saying

There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.

Vicente Fox, ex-president of Mexico said, Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world.”

It’s incredible that Trump has been president for a year and he still hasn’t learned that everything he says is on the record. No remark or tweet goes unnoticed. We know he’s not “stable,” let alone a “genius”— not even “a very smart person,” as he tweeted:

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star….

….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

— @realDonaldTrump

But how can he think that people will believe his denials of something he said in front of a bunch of witnesses? No one who knows anything about Trump is so credulous as to accept his word over that of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who was present. The Republican lawmakers who were there didn’t back Trump, but at least they didn’t support his denial either.

Since “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” was published last week, it seemed the media had nothing else to write or talk about. The portrait of the president limned by author Michael Wolff is of an incompetent braggart with no knowledge of policy or history or even the Constitution. His over-riding interests are golf and making money. He hardly ever reads but he does watch hours of television every day.

But we knew all this. What is new, at least for me, are the details. I didn’t know, for example, that when he wasn’t having his usual dinner at 6:30 with Steve Bannon, Trump often would get into bed with a cheeseburger, three television screens and his telephone.

What has really caught the most attention is Wolff’s assessment that Trump is not only incompetent and unsuited for the presidency, but that his mental abilities are deteriorating. Trump repeats himself all the time, telling the same story three times in one hour. His attention span, as we already knew, is very short, a question of a few minutes.

This last brouhaha perfectly illustrates Trump’s mental deficiencies. He said something outrageous in front of a group of people. He doesn’t consider or even imagine the implications of his words and their likely effects on both the domestic and international stages. Then, when he sees the adverse reactions at home and across the globe, he attempts to recover by admitting he used “tough” language, but denying that he said what everyone now knows he said. He constantly lies and contradicts himself. Something is missing. There is no way to negotiate or reason with such a person. It’s time for Trump to go.

Republicans, grow a spine. Don’t just withdraw from the arena, resist. Fight for the Constitution and the values you swore to safeguard.

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Filed under Politics, Race, Random, Trump

Art of the Deal: Trump & Putin

Robert Reich makes a cogent and logical argument for Trump’s collusion with Russia to his and Putin’s mutual benefit by listing the events that have already occurred to the advantage of both.

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