I have a file of local topics that Insane Clown Prez Trump won’t let me get to. The compulsion to watch this strangely shaped and colored bag of mental and character enablements and limitations is like waving gently about in front of a cobra – if you stop, it might strike.
This “press conference” (Thursday 2/16) might do it, though. Liberating. A couple of things are coming clear. (Going Clear?)
Trump is stressing that the Flynn leaks are illegal. He avoids mentioning that Flynn’s actions were illegal. To make sure we believe him (does he know how hard that is?) he repeats, “I stress that,” with one of his mysterious finger mudras to reinforce the solemnity and importance of this Presidential fatwa. This part of his performance is another blow at the security agency career people who may in the end be the ones who bring him down. He is telling us that he still thinks he can beat them. That confidence might have been installed in his strange mind by the clearly insane Stephen Miller. If the CIA and the others bring him down, it would be a relief, but also something like a military coup, a bad precedent. We may get to see whether it is a price worth paying.
Asked about Flynn’s Russian muddle a few days before, as a habitual or compulsive liar, the clown prince said, “I have not heard of those reports.” He could have said, “We are looking into it. I am not ready to make statement just yet,” but apparently finds it more natural to lie and deny. He is not even a good liar – it was obvious in that interview, from the blanked, falsely serious expression and constricted voice, that he was lying – which I think tells us something significant about the counterfactual nonsense he says with a bright expression and confident voice.
Spokes-creatures Spicer and Kellyanne had told contradictory stories to muddy the ground and submerge the reality, preparing the ground for the weird presser.
Well, leaving that pair of comedians to wrangle the alternative realities gives us a fine opportunity to look behind the curtain to see if the wizard has his new clothes on.
The Flynn scandal fun might identify one of the White House factions jockeying for influence and leaking against each other every day: Pence. President 45 now admits he knew about the Flynn problem weeks ago. How many weeks ago? Was he behind Flynn’s actions? He said he did not order Flynn to discuss sanctions, but he would have if Flynn had not been doing it anyway, “because that was his job.” No, it wasn’t. Once again, the so-called President is either clueless or dribbling BS. It could have been his assignment when he had been confirmed and taken office, but not when he was an unconfirmed nominee and Trump wasn’t President yet. Making commitments or arrangements with foreign officers of state is illegal under a law made while the ink was hardly dry on the Constitution, specifically intended to ensure that incoming administrations could not undermine the work of incumbents.
Could this be Trump’s undeniable talent for counterfactual creativity adjusting the calendar to suit his soundbite?
The Trump cabal has shown that they think of law not as rules of constraint or decent behavior, but as obstacles to be dealt with by aggressive dictating, politicking, gaslighting and lawyers. That might be okay for a property guy hustling hardball politicians in New York. In the White House, stuff like that has the sulfurous whiff of treason.
To be clear, I don’t think rapprochement with Russia is wrong, not necessarily even if some private interest is in the mix. The factions trying to re-start the Cold War are as foolish and dangerous as Trump’s gang, who are trying to scapegoat Muslims and Mexicans and provoke hostile response from ISIS, Iran and China. Successful outcomes by either of them would be a money pump from taxes and bonds into the armaments and war industries, a welfare program for the wealthy. Trump’s crude, clumsy performance makes it less likely that he will achieve his objectives, or stop the anti-Russians, but the system is tilted so that it won’t matter much for Americans.
Time out: have you seen the wild news – if true – that Wendi Deng, gold digger supreme, right out of the funny papers and Bond world, divorced by Rupert Murdoch, reportedly either for a quicky with Tony Blair or so he could marry Mick Jagger’s ex, Jerry Hall, is now hanging with Vladimir Putin and also – dum da dum dum – holidaying with Ivanka? Ah, how I hate cheap, sleazy gossip.
Who is drawing up the White House enemies list? For the Putin-friendly Flynn/Bannon/Miller psychopathy, it may well be as simple that Russians are “white” while in their sick vocabulary Mexicans, Chinese, Arabs and Persians are not.
Let’s take a second to give General Flynn a break. By all accounts, he has been a first-class warrior, doing the jobs the government has asked him to do. Whether effective action in operations like invading Grenada, Haiti and Iraq was really worth doing is another thing. It looks like politics was not his thing. He didn’t quite get the difference between National Security Adviser and battlefield officer. Trump, maestro of the incorrigibly superficial, probably picked him for his sharp features and steely gaze, and lifelong training to follow orders. Even though he worked in parts of the military that reward initiative, it is hard to get convinced that he stepped over the legal line with the Russian ambassador on his own intiative. He has fallen on his sword for somebody.
Trumpy is on TV right now, at this moment, sounding insane, bulldozing more BS onto one of his favorite scapegoat stories, Iran.
Iran is positioned as an adversary largely because the CIA conspired with MI6 to topple Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953, because Iran under his government was going to take control of its own oil resources, a clear crime against the interests of BP and Exxon. They got rid of the democratically elected government and installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah. While “westernizing” and secularizing fast, with obsequious deference in an emperor’s uniform to the US and western oil companies, Reza Shah brutally suppressed any opposition or democratic movements for a few decades, rendering his country vulnerable to a religious backlash. In 1979, the Islamists were the faction who kicked the tyrant out and seized power in a wild rebellion that unleashed a lot of hell and rained fuel and sparks on the Shi’a/Sunni interface.
It took 26 years, but the country got its oil back anyway, and Khomeini was a more destructive opponent than Mossadegh. It does not seem to have served as a lesson to the interventionists.
Trump and other war provocateurs call Iran the biggest funder of terrorism in the world. It’s not. Our cherished ally Sa’udi Arabia is, but they privatize the cash flow to ISIS and Al Qaeda, who actually do attack the West – mostly Europe. Iran’s clients for the most part do not. The family of Saudi royal robbers maintains sufficient deniability to allow the US to claim its hands are clean.
Iran supports Shi’a causes and movements, including Hezbollah and the Houthis. Israel and the US classify them as “terrorists,” but they are political/military defense organizations opposing certain perceived enemies: Wahhabi Sunni oppression, Euro-American latter-day colonialism, and Israel, which they (with some justification) consider its current agent. From Hezbollah’s point of view, the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon was a “terrorist” act.
Under the US’s rules of asymmetrical warfare, as far as I can determine them by observation, invasion and occupation are legal, honorable and patriotic; retaliation and resistance are terrorist, sneaky, murderous and cowardly. If we believe this tripe, we deserve to have our screens infected by the likes of Stephen Miller and his representative on Earth, the White Princess of Spiritual Demise, Kellyanne.
The terrorist threat is a scam anyway, but to focus on these Shi’a groups, Hezbollah and the Houthis oppose the Empire, but are no serious threat to the US “homeland.” What threat they pose is retaliation for real terror that drops from the skies, delivered by Sa’udi pilots driving planes made in the USA. They are against imperialism, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which promote fundamentalist Sunni Wahhabis, who persecute Shi’ites in some countries and are the bedrock and support of the Jihadi movements that our governmental fearmongers claim to want to destroy by the method proven ineffective – starting more wars. I believe the Sa’udi religious police go as far as declaring some Shi’a holidays illegal and punishing people who celebrate them by the usual Sa’udi repertoire of penalties.
The Breitbart, Drudge and Fox stories about Shari’a in Michigan and no-go areas in Birmingham are just the usual bad odors from those brands of loo paper. Hezbollah and the Houthis mostly want us to go away. The Houthi in Yemen are in rebellion against the central government, seeking some kind of autonomy in predominantly Shi’a areas. They managed to take over the government in the capital, Sana’a, in 2015. Saudi Arabia attacks them with jet fighters, bombs and drones provided, of course, by the United States, frequently raining death and mayhem on hospitals, weddings and religious festivals. Trump wanted to get in on the action. Like the military action succeeding well against ISIS, in the spirit of his lifelong career as a thief, he wants to claim the win for himself.
The royal Saud clan calls them “terrorists,” the annoying trigger word to justify everything. I am not saying that the Houthi movement is nice people. Their slogan is, “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.” Not very friendly, but move some of the words around and you have language that fits a couple of Trump’s house lunatics. The real terrorists in Yemen, the people bombing weddings, killing kids and even American military in the wrong place at the wrong time, are the Saudi military and us. Trump’s first military attempt, a disastrous, messy massacre, was a terror attack in Yemen. Back in the days of Lawrence of Arabia, Faisal al Sa’ud wanted to conquer Yemen and incorporate it in the Saudi territory. They did not succeed then. We might wonder whether they are trying again, with the US as the royal family’s cat’s paw and Iran cast as bogeyman.
Sa’udi, meanwhile, is the main funder of ISIS, and joins it in a merry festival of decapitation and savage medieval Islamism.
Are any of these players good guys? Not that I can see. These are all tough customers trying to win points over the others. Just don’t let Trump or the Republicans of either party tell you that Iran is the bad guy. In the Catch-22 tradition, the Majlis in Tehran and Mullahs of Qom are a whole lot less likely to kill you than the fascist coup in Washington, if it succeeds.
Bback to Flynn, Pence and whatsisname, 45. They miss us.
Why is Flynn’s illegal contact being pegged to Pence? Could it be true that Flynn concealed information from the Veep? If true, is it the real reason for firing him?
With or without connivance of the WH Gang in Flynn’s calls, that would suggest that Pence represents puritanical evangelical conservatives who may distrust the conspiracy crowd, and might be uncomfortable with secret intrigue with Russian ambassadors. Flynn’s phone sex with Putin’s reps is well within Trump’s and Bannon’s no-tell motel business, but possibly does not sit right with the midwestern church warden. That would place Pence outside the Rasputin circle, which would place him in some other group of would-be Machiavellis.
Puritanical reactionary bed- and bathroom-obsessed fantasists are pretty much as distasteful as anarchic law- and constitution-despising fascistic fantasists. Dump them all, and all who sail in them. But note that we may have glimpsed one of the factions, which if the wind blows fair, will bring this house of marked cards down.
“Some of Flynn’s former military colleagues, even those from whom he’s drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said.
“This story is bigger than Mike Flynn,” the senior military intelligence official said. “Who told Mike to go do this? I think somebody said, ‘Mike, you’ve got some contacts. Let them know it’s gonna be all right.’ Mike’s a soldier. He did not go rogue.” ”
New Yorker, “Michael Flynn, General Chaos,” by Nicholas Schmidle, issue of 27 February 2017♦
When Trump tried to say that he had not heard any report about Flynn’s violation of the Logan act, he was clearly lying. You couldn’t miss it. A polygraph operator would have broken out laughing.
But when he goes on about five million phantom voters and people bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote again – not clear who for – he is cheerful, triumphant, radiant in his plastic smile. He might have been laughing, if he knew how to do that. When he goes on about the threat to “our nation” from returning students and poor refugees who have lived hungry in tents for two or three years while the slow process of State Department vetting grinds on, or the grand and utterly fictional benefits his boondoggle of a construction project on the Mexican border will be, he looks happy, folded into his sick mental element, eliciting cheap cheers from hired shills and unthinking audiences fueled by aggressive expression.
That is telling us, if we listen, that he believes this stuff. The difference between Trump lying and Trump strutting is clear: he believes it. Bannon and Miller, Breitbart, Fox and Drudge are feeding garbage into his feed trough and he is processing it into bullshit. He believes his own BS.
In other word, Ladies and Gentlemen, your so-called President is as mad as a hatter. Right out there in public for the world to see, your President is a nut case. On top of all his clinical complexes and phobias, he is just crazy.
Gabriel, my son, occasional NOLAscape reader and still a Trump-watcher, is a British actor. He reads the history and literature of the Tudor and Jacobean periods, and spent some time reviewing old videos of Trump. He noticed that his skin color used to be closer to normal and he spoke English in complete sentences. He spoke without substituting grimacing, mugging and hand and finger gestures for reason and completing thoughts. The thoughts were sometimes savage and stupid, like his Central Park Five period, or charged with lies and self-aggrandizement, but he was something like a normal person. Gabriel pointed out that if a historian observed these changes in a 15th or 16th century figure, the suspected cause would usually be syphilis.
Trump used to boast of promiscuity; now he reassures us that he would stay clear of Russian hookers because he is a “germophobe.” Could some microbes have sneaked by Dr. Bornstein? I’m jus’ sayin’, ya know . . .
Not only Jake Tapper can see the madness. Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping can see it. Kim Jong Un can recognize a man he could get along with, if the circumstances were right. Bannon, Miller and Netanyahu see a patient they can manipulate. Forty percent of American voters saw something the mob too often follows: a fantasist of infinite self-confidence, minuscule self-reflection, no thought for real or unintended consequences. And off we go.
Please don’t bother to object that he must be capable and cool because successful in business. If you really cannot see it yet, you are missing what the Trump eruption has exposed: success in the game of predatory capitalism does not in the least preclude lunacy. In fact, the American corporate formula rewards a psychopath at the controls, who can roll over people and the earth without reflection or remorse in the pursuit of shareholder value. We have no reason that they would have any more compunction about manipulating a dupe to assist their sacred duties of raping and pillaging than they would of swatting a mosquito, or busting up Mexican families for headlines, or dropping bombs on Yemeni hospitals and American soldiers to cheer up King Salman al Saud. Given some of our recent governmental wonders like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Robert Gates, L. Paul Bremer, John Roberts, Antoning Scalia and now Bannon, Miller and Trump, we and our employed legislators and jurists should all be wondering whether the US Constitution is not only not proof against stupidity, shallowness and psychopathy but has managed as an unintended consequence to actively encourage it.
Your President is a front man who passed his Peter Principle level. The “unhinged” (Jake Tapper) presser was the opener in another campaign tour. Bannon and Miller are sending their celebrity pet out to play with cheering crowds. If he was less restless, they would give him a coloring book and crayons and lock him in the Oval.
But the idea they have come up with instead is to send him out campaigning, and this time your taxes, not Mercer’s and Adelson’s spare change, will pay for it.
© NOLAscape February 2017