By Dan Peak
The Commoner Cal (10/20/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Two powerful images.
When you look at this first picture what do you see? I predict this is a picture we will see a lot over the rest of our lives. There is one woman in the picture. She is clearly talking to one man across the table from her. Look at his expression, look at the three men to his right, what do we read into their posture with their heads down?
Official White House photo, 2019.
Can anyone look at this picture and not choose a side?
This is the moment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is telling Trump, “All roads lead to Putin”. The meeting is about U.S. troops in Syria, which means a discussion of Trump’s abandonment of U.S. Kurdish allies, our foot soldiers in a conflict with ISIS. Trump cites his campaign promise to bring home U.S. troops to which Pelosi demands, “then is ‘home’ Saudi Arabia?”
Trump’s Syria announcements are disastrous – to anyone except Turkish president Erdogan, Syrian leader Assad and Putin. U.S. Kurd allies say they have been abandoned to die, U.S. soldiers are disgusted, U.S. allies like Israel and Taiwan ask if this is what would happen to them?
American forces attacking US outposts
This picture could have Pelosi registering our shock and dismay watching Russian flags flying over abandoned U.S. Syrian military outposts. Or the same with Russian videos of all the trappings of U.S. culture left behind because of Trump’s abandonment to Erdogan and Putin – open bottles of Coca-Cola, the mess hall, soldiers’ dormitories with a videographer holding up an abandoned football. Or news of U.S. F-15s conducting airstrikes – against abandoned U.S. facilities to destroy ammo and equipment that could benefit Turkish military and Syrian militias.
This picture captures a ‘discussion’ about Syria but it could be Trump’s immigration policy that has put children in cages and lost track of thousands of children’s asylum-seeking parents.
This picture could be about Trump’s denial of Russian influence in the 2016 election to benefit him.
This picture could be about Trump’s persistent and increasingly public habit of profiting from directing government dollars to his properties, a clear constitutional violation that he repeatedly, blatantly ignores because he can just let ‘his courts’ protect him from the law.
Trump repeatedly said he was considering using his Doral Florida property to host a G7 meeting before finally announcing that as a decision. Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had to perform yet another ‘Sean Spicer’ moment and assure the media that after a comprehensive search it was determined there was no better venue.
Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub emphasized the difference of this blatant act of Trump corruption, “Trump is reaching into the Treasury and taking your money for himself”.
Over the weekend Trump backed down on the whole idea.
The front page of the Kiev Post – this is what you’d spot in Ukraine. What do you see?
Point to a ‘character’ and there is a story. In another media briefing Mick Mulvaney not only confirmed a Trump strong-arming quid pro quo put to Ukraine president Zelensky before he got the already-approved $400 million in military aid to counter Russian aggression, he told us to “get over it”, it was standard White House policy noting, “we do that all the time”. We don’t want to “get over it”.
Take another character — from the middle of the page — charged with funneling foreign money to U.S. politicians, Trump lawyer Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas. He and three other Giuliani associates were arrested while Giuliani has been paid $500,000 by Parnas though the money flowed from (lower right-hand corner) accused Russian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who is fighting extradition by U.S. law enforcement. It’s an expansive story in both persons involved and timing that I have strove to explain, but let’s take a different view.
Parnas with Giuliani. Parnas photographed with Trump after a White House dinner. Parnas photographed with Donnie Jr. over a Beverly Hills breakfast that included the head of the pro-Trump SuperPAC America First, Tommy Hicks Jr. which sits at the center of the funneling of foreign money. Parnas as Giuliani’s guest at the funeral for former U.S. president H.W. Bush. Parnas with Giuliani, Trump and VP Pence. Parnas hugging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at his victory celebration.
But like convicted former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, everyone will rush to say, ‘hardly knew him’ … ‘wouldn’t recognize him if he was in the room’ .. ‘just a coffee boy, only here for a short time’.
Energy Sec. Rick Perry has now announced his final day in office. Trump has already put forward a replacement, Deputy Energy Sec. Dan Bouillette, a seasoned lobbyist and swamp creature. Does anyone doubt Trump somehow got Bouilette’s assurance of complete loyalty to Trump?
Has The GOP and Trump Supporters Finally Had Enough?
That’s unlikely but there is some rumbling of discontent.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized Trump’s Syria decisions as “a bloodstain in the annals of American history… The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally, adding insult to dishonor… The administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty. Their homes have been burned and their families have been torn apart.” Romney’s criticism of Trump followed a House condemnation by a 354-60 vote while a similar Senate vote was blocked.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said this about Trump’s Doral money grab, “You have to go out and try to defend him. Well, I don’t know if I can do that!” Steamed a frustrated Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), “I have no doubt that Doral is a really good place — I’ve been there, I know. But it is politically insensitive.”
Politically insensitive? How about criminal?
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) offered this about impeachment, “I’m still thinking about it, you know?”
Rooney quickly followed his statement with an announcement he would not seek reelection.
Ohio Governor and former GOP presidential candidate John Kasich said Trump “should be impeached by the US House and face trial in the US Senate”.
There are others – Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) and even Senate Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell offered, “Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake”.
Retired US Navy Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who oversaw the bin-Laden raid said, Trump is gutting the “nation’s principles”.
While a few Republican voices have tired of defending the indefensible, it’s not a crescendo; it’s not enough. Even Trump going full fascist with language about Turkey having to “have it cleaned out” — referring to Kurds in northern Syria — no longer moves the Republican needle.
Trump’s Crimes – There’s Always More – Solving Erdogan’s Problems
A little noticed sentence in Trump’s 3rd grade level warning letter to Erdogan offers, “I have worked hard to solve some of your problems”.
I have noted both convicted former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn and Giuliani’s mutual efforts to influence Trump to extradite Erdogan political foe cleric Fethullah Gulen from the US to Turkey. I have noted Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of Erdogan that had Trump turn to former Sec. State Rex Tillerson to end prosecution of a Turkish man accused of violating US sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program.
I’ll leave you with another Trump ‘favor to Erdogan’. Trump worked to avoid charging one of Turkey’s largest banks, also for “ massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran”.
Beyond Erdogan, there’s something I’ve wondered about for many months. Trump constantly signals his support or criticism for companies and markets. Early on there were comments about Trump insiders conducting stock trades based on inside information, but here is a HUGE example.
A late session trade at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on September 13 netted a lucky trader (or traders) a “quick $180 million profit”. A similar S&P transaction on September 11 netted a “one-day profit of roughly $190 million”. There are more examples, but the BIG trade on June 27 “made a handsome profit of nearly $1.8 billion”.
These trades are more than suspect, more than “hanky-panky”, a trader offered “with disgust… this is abysmal”.
I’ll leave this for your consideration, but lawyer and Never-Trumper George Conway notes, “What this describes is, quite literally, market manipulation that constitutes criminal violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.”
Think of this the next time you hear Trump ‘forecasting’ for-or-against resolution of his tariff wars. Think of this the next time Trump offers reassuring news only to have Japan/China/Canada/Mexico comment on how this is ‘news to them’. Trump even admits to making up these ‘news updates’ at times – of course he does.
Everything Trump touches dies – Mulvaney is rumored to be on his way out. Pompeo wants us to feel sorry for him. Former defense secretary Mattis wants us to laugh at his Trump jokes. There’s always a next acting secretary or nominee ready to offer their unconditional loyalty. For every GOP criticism of Trump, there’s always the willingness to slog forward to the next day of Trump chaos.
Which side of the picture are you on – Impeach and Remove or complete sycophantic loyalty?
A Question From An Earlier Era Has Relevance In This Corrupted Age Of Trump
Natalie Merchant – ‘Which Side Are You On?’