Tag Archives: Donald Trump

More on Trump’s parade

Retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton reacted on VoteVets.org to the parade being planned by “a wannabe banana republic strongman.”

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military – it’s about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world – they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.

@realDonaldTrump has blocked @VoteVets, an organization of 500,000 veterans, military families, & supporters.

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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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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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Too political?

My daughter told me that I’ve become too political. That set me thinking. It is true that I pay much more attention now.

I hardly paid any attention in the 70s and 80s. I was too preoccupied with small children in the first of those decades. Graduate studies, two teenagers and an inter-city commute took over in the second decade. In the 90s, Clinton and his impeachment, his relentless pursuit by members of the political establishment who abandoned even the pretense of commonality, riveted my attention.

When an unprecedented, horrific attack on a complacent nation spurred the newly installed triumvirate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to curtail our civil liberties with the Patriot Act, I was galvanized. I warned anyone who would listen to me that proud and prosperous German Jews were decimated because they believed “it can’t happen here.” It can happen here. History has taught us that no government, no society, is immutable. I was afraid we were falling down a slippery slope, and indeed, that was when Americans lost not only their privacy but their faith in the impregnable fortress America. The same powerbrokers plunged us into a war we couldn’t win. Surveillance, fear, and torture insinuated themselves into the American experience.

In the Obama years, blind hatred and the corrosive antagonism between Democrats and Republicans further undermined American democracy and paved the way for the clownish but unfunny despot who is doing his best to undermine and sabotage the institutions that made America powerful and just.

How can one not be “political”? How can one ignore Trump’s peevishness, his enthrallment with himself and his desires, his reckless onslaughts on long-established norms, his ignorance, mendacity and deliberate sabotage of arduously wrought pacts to rescue the planet and provide care for the poor and the sick?

American democracy is under siege. Only activists, roused by anger and fear, can sway the politicians who have the power to save the Republic.

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Trump: “a pustule of ego”

Devastating. Donald Trump’s functional illiteracy is all that could save him from the excoriation of Rebecca Solnit’s sardonic wit:

He was a pair of ragged orange claws upon the ocean floor, forever scuttling, pinching, reaching for more, a carrion crab, a lobster and a boiling lobster pot in one, a termite, a tyrant over his own little empires.

and

The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence.

Trump is “the most mocked man in the world. After the women’s march on January 21st, people joked that he had been rejected by more women in one day than any man in history.” He is the butt of jokes in newspapers and magazines worldwide and most famously, in the weekly skits on Saturday Night Live.

Solnit writes of a man with boundless appetites, one who is ultimately alone, because he does not acknowledges the existence, let alone the needs, of anyone else.

While Obama represented the best of America, Trump revealed the seamy underside; he turned over a rock and exposed the vermin crawling in dung.

I will be going to Europe in a few days. I will have to explain, nay, insist, that Trump doesn’t represent America, that someday Lady Liberty will raise her head again, proudly. He can’t debase and defile the soul of a noble though imperfect nation.

Hat tip: Vox

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Here we go— Bombs away!

NavyMissileU.S. warships in the Mediterranean sent about 60 Tomahawk missiles blazing into a Syrian air field, reports the A.P. The bombing was retaliation for the chemical attack launched from that same field that killed dozens of Syrian citizens.

Apparently Trump was moved by the horrible pictures of victims suffocating and writhing in pain. The president’s volatility is notorious; time and again he has been swayed by what he sees on television. Now, clearly afraid of being thought weak or indecisive, he has launched missiles rather than tweets. Is he trying to prove that he is strong where Obama was “weak” for resisting the commitment of even more boots on the ground? Of starting another war we can’t afford?

Throughout his campaign, Trump insisted that we had no business in Syria, that it could take care of itself. But a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and now Trump’s committed an act of war.

What’s next? That may depend on how many Russian nationals are killed. Syrian rebels are being massacred and the refugees are increasingly finding most roads out of the horror barricaded against them. A response, on humanitarian, if not political, grounds is severely warranted. But what form should it take? Syria is a Gordian knot. Any strategy to disentangle it will reverberate within the middle eastern minefield with unknown but definitely adverse consequences.

The Russians have been supporting Assad against the rebels who want to oust the tyrant. Syria’s weapons defense and warplanes are Russian-built, and Putin has steadfastly resisted multilateral attempts to oust Assad. Will Trump’s palship with Putin weather this military offensive or will Putin take advantage of Trump’s aggression and attack us elsewhere? Trump has opened the proverbial can of worms.

Photo: U.S. Navy

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