“The fact that America’s best values and ideas…contributed to its tailspin should give us more than just momentary pause. That others like him, in other times, could have said the same things about their own civilizations should be the starting point for a whole other conversation — the kind of conversation we’ll really need if we hope to avoid the worst of what history tells us may lie ahead. –Paul Rosenberg, America’s Tailspin and the Rise of Oligarchy, Salon, 5/27/2018
“It’s terrible steak and overpriced and I can’t believe I believed the ads!” admits no one.
Our only current president did not have a good week during the period May 20 through Memorial Day. He began the week bloviating about demanding that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the investigation of the Trump Campaign with the usual folderol about “Fake News!” and “No Collusion!” Rod Rosenstein, Deputy AG made an immediate and logical response, saying that if someone in the FBI or DOJ had done something awful, of course it should be investigated. He then referred it to the Departmental IG who is already investigating aspects of the Bureau’s and Departments efforts around the 2016 campaign.
This was all part of a concerted effort to create a conspiracy that the DOJ had planted a spy in the Trump campaign. At this point, it’s worth quoting Seth Meyers who asked, “Why would they need a spy to see what the campaign was doing? Trump told them on TV!” You know, if the famous “Hey Russia! If you’re listening…” request for Hillary’s missing emails wasn’t enough and the constant praise for Wikileaks didn’t make it sufficiently clear that there was something going on between Trump and his people and the Putin Kleptocracy and its minions, a spy wouldn’t have helped.
What we see in the activities of the Trump Campaign and it’s various Kremlin outreach types like Carter Paige, George Stephanopoulos and litany of “I want to be friends with Putin” is a pattern of conduct that looks a lot like probable cause. Think of probable cause this way — if a reasonable man might say it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has webbed feet, it might be a duck. The Trump campaign and its principal looked, quacked, walked, painted it’s bill yellow, sang the Internationale like Donald Duck, and seemed to mate like ducks as well! The feds would have been derelict and probably drunk to miss the indicators that maybe there was something a bit off about the whole thing.
Now, if the Trump whine had been authentic, the use to the IG would have been fine; he would have said nothing much except the usual drivel. But, Trump is looking for an acclimation of his innocence and virtue that will be satisfied only by a torchlight parade and crying maidens tossing flowers at his feet.However, the President had a meeting on Monday — his meeting seldom turn out well for him, his party, or the Nation — with Rosenstein, Christopher Ray the FBI Director, John Kelly and some other fools.
We know the outcome, which was odd — Kelly was supposed to facilitate a meeting between various Republican congressional types of the party leadership roles as well as Trump loyalists like Devon Nunes and Mark Meadows and Jim Jeffries. Louis Gomert appears to have been piqued that the wasn’t invited. Unfortunately, it turns out that the National Security Apparatus has been down this road before, and there are laws and regulations about this. So, the meeting with no one able to talk about it except the loyalists through the mirror of their alternative reality was trumped. As a result, there were two meetings, one of which Ryan dodged to go to a fundraiser, so Pelosi played a gambit and sent Adam Schiff in her place to hear the stuff intended only for Republicans. The second meeting was the traditional Gang of Eight meeting minus the Speaker who was by that stage eating Krispie Cremes and shaking hands with Tea Party Trumpers and Troglydtes somewhere in the midwest. The sum total Trump vindication — Mitch McConnell’s saying he looked forward to seeing the results of the Mueller and DOJ IG’s investigations.
One other and not much commented on remark surfaced as Timothy L. O’Brien, a Trump biographer sued by Trump only to have the suit dropped when Trump lied almost breathlessly during a deposition, pointed out that Trump had been a FBI confidential informant while on The Beat With Ari Melber. O’Brien is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and a frequent MSNBC guest as are a number of other Trump biographers. O’Brien sums up Trump expertly in his lead to an article on Trump’s lying in the Bloomberg.
A decade ago, my lawyers questioned Trump under oath during a deposition in a libel case he filed against me for a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation.” Trump had to acknowledge 30 times during that deposition that he had lied over the years about a wide range of issues: his ownership stake in a large Manhattan real estate development; the cost of a membership to one of his golf clubs; the size of the Trump Organization; his wealth; the rate for his speaking appearances; how many condos he had sold; the debt he owed, and whether he borrowed money from his family to stave off personal bankruptcy. Trump also lied during the deposition about his business relationships with organized crime figures…
According to O’Brien’s reporting, Trump was a confidential informant for the FBI during his gambling days in Atlantic City. Since what I know about that period — all from open sources — indicates that something nefarious was going on because he was stomping all over his gaming license in football cleat with the extra long spikes. Mobsters, cocaine, failure to meet fiduciary requirements, mixing funds, money laundering, etc. would cost anyone without a “Rabbi” of some sort the license and the investment. So, yeah, Trump being a stool pigeon makes a lot of sense.
Oh, well. This is just the way this grifter does business in general. Why shouldn’t we trust him when we know when he’s lying by checking to see if he’s breathing or not?
Then the Korean thing went sideways which no one really finds surprising. Kissinger and Nixon had more knowledge of international conditions and processes in their heads than all the clowns Trump has dragged into the National Security Council. They also were both notorious policy nerds, and would go into any meeting fully prepared. Trump, not so much. Kim is unknown on that front, but it’s reasonable to expect that he and his sister would be fully prepped.
Trump, on the other hand, would be arguing that he didn’t like kimchi or garlic. He might read a couple of Korean war vintage “SGT Fury and his Howling Commandos” comics, but that’s about it. Watch Pork Chop Hill and the Sinatra-Angela Lansbury-Lawrence Harvey Manchurian Candidate but probably not. Look at a couple of power point decks, and figure he would be ready.
One of the first rules gamblers seem to learn is not to spend the money before you win it. So, the minting of “Challenge Coins” for sale in the White House Gift Shop to commemorate the summit with North Korea was a great way to tempt fate; the on/off/maybe on/maybe off follow along period seemed as if the Gods of Statecraft were kind of playing whack a mole with Trump and his miscreants. Interesting that they keep playing along.
Now, the piece of this that I find most fascinating is how obvious it is and yet how little it’s commented on: There’s no real difference between the Trump Organization and the People’s Republic of North Korea from a business management point of view. They’re both family run businesses run for the benefit of the family and it’s closest sycophants. Should the enterprise go south, PRNK or Trump, the result for the family will be catastrophic.
So, to a certain extent, Trump and Kim Jung Un are the same guy, negotiating with each other across some incidental generational and cultural divides. However, the problem Trump faces is a bit different; he can’t just take rebellious minions or minions he perceives as rebellious out, have them tortured, savaged by wild dogs or executed by anti-aircraft guns. So, while he had total control in the Trump Org, in the US Government, he’s got all these people talking for him and they’re all trying to help.
Now, the first time I heard John Bolton talk about the Libya Strategy for Korea’s nuclear arsenal, I immediately thought of Gaddafi captured by the militia, beaten and then sodomized by someone with a bayonet which was a fatal experience to say the least. Now, if an international thug was going to meet Allah by having 9 inches of cold steel shoved up his butt and twisted, Gaddafi would be as good a choice as any.
But, announcing to the world that your overall strategy is to denuke North Korea to get to a Gaddafi-like state isn’t particularly helpful. Bolton has never struck me as seeing people at the end of his magic wand. It was just saying that this would be a way to ultimately achieve a series of changes in the PRNK. However, to North Korean leaders and apparatchiks, it meant that this was the way to get the Kim family and friends out of the way, by violence or not.
So, Kim pushed back hard through his surrogates; he also seemed to step back from denuclearization. Since we have no idea what he means by it, not too surprising. The VP decides for whatever reason to echo this Libya-option cant in an interview, and the North Koreans push back, saying that he’s ignorant and has no idea what he’s talking about. (They are probably right. Remember, no bills passed while in Congress.) While that’s probably true, it gave Trump the excuse to jump ship on the summit. And he did, with a somewhat odd letter, dangling the possibility of a rapprochement based on their personal chemistry. No wonder nobody ever bought a Trump steak and bragged about it. (“It’s terrible steak and overpriced and I can’t believe I believed the ads!” admits no one.)
What Trump didn’t get was that he’s operating as part of a system. He was the one starting the ball rolling with the decision to meet as soon as possible with Kim and like it or not, he’s leveraged in that by the North Koreans, the Chinese and his own party. Kim Jong Un knows that he can’t make his cadres too angry or the Army will run over his limo with tanks by accident. Trump didn’t get it.
Most thinking beings in the west were kind of happy that he cancelled /postponed this thing. Maybe in the meantime, he could learn the difference between pogooghi and bulgooghi.