Friday, February 17, 2017

He's In The Twilight Zone

Donald Trump's press conference yesterday was surreal. He spent a minute announcing his new choice for Secretary of Labor and then spent the next seventy-eight minutes lambasting the press and the intelligence community for doing in his national security advisor, Mike Flynn. Michael Harris writes:

This is where the alternate universe stuff kicks in. The firing was conducted by President Trump. The next day, the other half of the presidential personality — The Donald — kicked in: Flynn was suddenly a wonderful person who had been treated badly by the “fake” media. At a press conference yesterday that looked more like primal scream therapy, Trump said Flynn was just doing his job. In fact, the president went one further. If Flynn hadn’t been phoning Russia and other countries, Trump would have ordered him to make the calls.

Not even Trump’s malapropisms can hide the truth. Flynn was fired because the intelligence community leaked what he had actually talked about to the Russians. That turned out to be a very different thing than what he told Vice-President Pence or the American people. It was not Flynn’s outrageous communication with the Russians per se that caused Trump to ditch this guy. It was getting caught in a lie that made Trump’s right-hand man look like a dork. Worse, it was the truth getting out.

It's been obvious for a long time that Trump is allergic to the truth. So he invents his own. But more than his aversion to the truth there is a much more devastating indictment of the man. He is appallingly ignorant:

Donald Trump’s grasp of geopolitics is no deeper than Bob the Builder’s. Yet there is one area of foreign affairs where his views have been consistently expressed — the relationship with Russia. He has publicly stated that Vladimir Putin, for all the blood on his hands, was a better leader than President Obama. He has ridiculed and threatened NATO. He even got the GOP to soften its hard stand against Russian intervention in Ukraine. And two of his top campaign workers, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, had close ties with Russia.

And he has worked very hard to keep Americans ignorant of the fact that he is in deep hock to foreign lenders:

Evelyn Farkas, the former top Russia expert at the Pentagon, is calling for an investigation of Trump himself. Not for alleged unconventional bathing habits. She is concerned that Trump’s business and financial dealings may have left him open to blackmail. After all, the giving, lending or guaranteeing of money could be used to exercise powerful influence over a person. So far — like dead men — the Donald’s taxes have told no tales.

Coincidentally, Donald Trump owes approximately $300 million to Deutsche Bank, which has just gone through all of Trump’s business dealings with the bank to see if there were any connections to Russia. Deutsche Bank was recently fined $640 million by the U.S. and U.K. for failing to stop the laundering of $10 billion of Russian funds through its Moscow branch. The bank will not comment on the outcome of its internal review, but it is being pressured to farm out its assessment to independent auditors.

Not even Rod Serling could have dreamt up this story. But Trump has entered the Twilight Zone. And he has hauled the entire nation in there with him.



Lorne said...

I was watching an interview of David Frum last night, Owen, and he suggested two measures that Congress could take to rein in Trump: pass a law requiring the president to release his tax forms and strike a government commission to investigate his ties to Russia. While he didn't say it, he implied the tax returns might shed light on his financial relationship with the Russians.

Owen Gray said...

Trump has worked very hard to keep his tax returns under wraps, Lorne. I think it's safe to assume that they show something Trump wants to hide.

Rene said...

A few days ago I watched an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN. He was arguing from circumstantial evidence, and very convincingly, that Donald Trump's involvement with the Kremlin may be more than a mere possibility, and that it may be deeply personal. Because Zakaria is habitually the voice of reasoned and informed objectivity, I tend to trust his opinions. I hope the US Congress will do the same, and begin a thorough investigation of Mr.Trump.

Owen Gray said...

For an investigation to proceed, Rene, a substantial number of Republicans are going to have to develop backbones. It's hard to find Republicans with backbones these days.

Steve said...

I hate to defend Trump. Do you think Flynn did anything differant than Condi Rice or anyone else? The idea that Trump is working with the Russians to subvert America is ridiculous. The Wikileaks were truth, Trump is not know for that.

The court is pushing back against the new King, it has worked well when the President was a limp bisket, like Bill, Obama, Reagan, and the Bush dynsasty. Since WW2 the only Presidents with backbone are Esinwhoser, Carter and maybe Trump.

Owen Gray said...

I'd like to publish your comment, Anon. But it needs to be initialed.

Owen Gray said...

You've misread Obama and Trump, Steve. Perhaps he has a strong backbone. Unfortunately, he has a addled brain.

Dana said...

Esinwhoser. Kinda says all you need to know, don't it?

Flynn was a private citizen, not yet appointed, could not have been legally instructed to carry that out.

Are you 14 years old?

John B. said...

This is about money, kindred spirits and the control that needs to be retained by the presiding kleptocrats to keep them out of prison and free to get out of town, with enough of the scum wiped off that their presence at the country clubs won't embarrass their western colleagues, if and after other unfriendly criminal alliances and combinations succeed them. Military posturing or agression, including any associated with the Trump-Putin pillow fight about to commence, is an enabling mechanism and a dangerous sideshow. And so are national borders and interests. It's just business; don't take it personally.

Who cares about those already displaced, maimed or murdered? We do. Their sacrifices had their purpose, just as the throngs of the deluded cheering at the Trump jamborees and the Russian patriotic revival festivals have theirs.

What do the statisticians tell us? Anybody here know anything about quantitative hedge funds? Let's see if we can adapt some algorithms to the high frequency end. We've been wasting a lot of volatility lately, you know. Hopefully, that girl in the office with no doors or windows is already on it.

Owen Gray said...

This isn't about making the world safe for democracy, John. This is about making the world safe for the wealthy. And that means the world will become a very unhealthy place for the rest of us. Mr. Pruitt's appointment guarantees that.