Living Large In Carson City: Same As It Ever Was . . . not! Edition

“I am brainy, too brainy. I am so brainy, it’s almost unbelievable.” Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s proclamations about his intelligence aside, the Orange one is doing little these days to burnish his mental chops. Dorian, the hurricane that would not go away, provided the world with evidence of just how loose the president plays with the truth and reality – again. As Dorian finally got off its rump and moved away from the beleaguered Bahamas headed toward the East Coast of the United States, Trump in his meteorological wisdom decided to include Alabama in his weather prognostications warning the good people of Alabama to feel the fear. Contrary to those who should know, the weather scientists, Trump believed The Heart of Dixie State was in for a scouring. As the  days following his announcement have made clear, only proclamations of nothing less than death and destruction (even where none exist) would assuage the president’s tiny ego.

Okay, the guy made a mistake. The right and sane thing to do would be to fess up, make an apology, and move on. Simple, right? Not for Trump. According to a a report by The New York Times, even his Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, threaten to fire officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) if they did not disavow a Tweet sent out by the Alabama regional office personnel an hour after Trump’s Tweet contradicting Trump’s claim that Alabama was in Dorian’s path. The Commerce Department called the statement false adding more fuel to an all ready out of control conflagration.

What is so odd about the Alabama/Dorian story is the fact that it was easily proven that the president was wrong. Factually wrong to boot. The media, politicians, business leaders, hell, even my three poodles knew he was wrong. Yet, Trump dug in and even altered the now infamous NOAA weather map by extending the impact zone that Dorian was projected to make by using a Sharpie to show the storm’s path jutting into southern Alabama. The question is “For what purpose?” The prevailing opinion of most is Trump’s penchant for never saying he is wrong. This Dorian Gate, however, blew up in his face and severely called into question the ability of the president to look at facts and make the proper assumptions. Will it affect the way his die-hard supporters view his credibility? Probably not, but the incident does make sane voters pause and wonder.

Then there was the Taliban, Afghanistan, and Trump secret meeting to be held at Camp David this week. Besides going against all norms of how foreign policy works, the idea of bringing a known terrorist group to Camp David shocked more than a few Americans including Republican supporters of the president. In retrospect, it appears that not only was it a bad idea, but Trump was basically willing to give away the farm to come to a peace agreement at all costs. The Taliban being the Taliban, who are sworn enemies of America, could be counted on to do what they do without regard to the consequences. The night before the meeting Taliban forces blew up a car bomb and killed an American soldier.

Trump seemed surprised that known killers of American soldiers would have the audacity to kill an American soldier. Americans and most of the world found out the next morning when Trump Tweeted,

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to.…an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?

Uh, a terrorist organization like, I don’t know, the Taliban.

The secret modus operandi Trump is so fond of employing is getting old. Add to the confusion over cancelling the “secret” meeting, Trump seems to not realize the entire fiasco makes him look like a bush leaguer on the world stage. Yet, in his his skewed wisdom, he cannot stop himself from surrounding his actions with a secret aura that (if and when it ever works)  he believes it will make him look like a genius negotiator. The fact that he gave no thought to the horrible optics of asking known terrorist to Camp David only puts a even more clownish spin on the meeting.

One good thing that came out of the scrapped meeting was John Bolton was either fired or resigned depending on who is telling the story. It seems neocon John was getting on the president’s nerves by disagreeing with his almightyness over policy procedures, and well, inviting terrorists to Camp David. I have long been a verbal opponent of Bolton since the mid-nineties when he and a bunch of other old white men like Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others teamed up to create the Project for the New American Century. The guiding light behind the endeavor was an us-against- them mentality which held the interesting concept of attacking countries across the world to reshape them in our image while democracy spread like wildfire in the wake of destroyed infrastructures in the aforementioned countries. These guys even had a manifesto like all true terrorists and would have loved to put it into action. One could argue that the Iraq war was the beginning of their dream world. That didn’t work out so well.

Trump is now mired in so many outlandish dealings it is a wonder he even has time to actually do anything remotely resembling foreign policy. It appears that those who do delve in the foreign policy negotiations are often shunted away at the very end so Trump can jump into the fray to claim victory of his own. Meanwhile, North Korea is firing off multiple missiles capable of carrying sophisticated warheads that threaten both our overseas assets as well as the continental United States. An Associated Press article notes Iran is upping their capacity to enrich uranium beyond where they promised not to venture. The article states,

Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms.

. . .

The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. APNews

Back in the clown car, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is ready to meet with Iranian officials to discuss the two countries differences with “no conditions” attached. Uh, what about Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon? This turn of events makes Barack Obama’s dealings with the rogue nation look like he is the Statesman of the Century. Wasn’t it Trump who once said of the deal supported by our major allies, “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never ever been made”? Now, America and the world are supposed to believe Trump and his ilk can come up with something better when they are going in without preconditions? Good luck with that scenario.

So it goes in the Trump presidency. Shatter the norm, criticize real negotiations others made in the past, and send in the clowns. What could go wrong?

 

Living Large In Carson City: Great Is The Guilt OF An Unnecessary War: John Adams Edition

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Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Can’t have a war without an enemy. . . You could have one, but it would be a very dull war . . . (Robert De Niro Wag the Dog)

The premise for the 1998 movie Wag the Dog has always had echoes of degradation with what is going on in the current White House and Donald Trump. The movie begins with a scandalous scenario where the president is accused of having an unwanted and illicit encounter with a young girl scout visiting the Oval Office. The fondling accusation proves to be true, and understandably, the White House is thrown into chaos. Making matters worse, the election is just a few days away putting the president in a precarious situation to say the least.

Enter a mysterious character played by Robert De Niro named Connie Brean. He along with the Anne Heche and Dustin Hoffman characters set out to create a diversion of monumental proportions – a fake war with Albania. What unfolds over the next 90 some odd minutes is a travesty of justice and a perversion of reality. Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson (Good Ol’ Shoe) deliver riotous cameo appearances which only add to the surreal nature of the story line and add to the quixotic blend of what is and what could be.

In a real life scenario of art imitating life, the world is seeing much the same circumstances unfolding this week at a Polish conference in Warsaw dealing with stability in the Middle East or, more to the point, War with Iran. The conference is a serious attempt to redirect the world’s sentiments against Iran and is being attended by an array of heavy hitters from across the globe. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the embattled Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu are two of the most influential. And then there is Rudi. Yes, that Rudi. The mealy mouthed, bug eyed and unhinged Rudi Giuliani who is Trump’s personal lawyer and spokesman (using that term loosely).

Sixty-five governmental delegations are attending the talks with the theme of how best to control Iran’s future, and how to limit its extension of influence across the Middle East. No shrinking violet, Rudi went straight to the heart of the matter by stating,

NCRI-FAC

@iran_policy

Former NY Mayor @RudyGiuliani in Warsaw:
In order to have peace & security in the Mid-East there has to be a major change in the theocratic dictatorship in . It must end & end quickly in order to have stability

For the president’s personal lawyer to make such a strong statement, the Oval Office must be staunchly supportive of his official presence there. Think again. Rudi made the trip to Warsaw representing his client the he National Council of Resistance of Iran. Also known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the group was once a terrorist organization within Iran around the time of the 1979 revolution. The investigative group called the Intercept describes the group as,

Members of the MEK helped foment the 1979 Iranian revolution, in part by killing American civilians working in Tehran, but the group then lost a struggle for power to the Islamists. With its leadership forced to flee Iran in 1981, the MEK’s members set up a government-in-exile in France and established a military base in Iraq, where they were given arms and training by Saddam Hussein as part of a strategy to destabilize the government in Tehran that he was at war with.

In recent years, as The Intercept has reported, the MEK has poured millions of dollars into reinventing itself as a moderate political group ready to take power in Iran if Western-backed regime change ever takes place. To that end, it lobbied successfully to be removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2012. The Iranian exiles achieved this over the apparent opposition of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in part by paying a long list of former U.S. officials from both parties hefty speaking fees of between $10,000 to $50,000 for hymns of praise. The Intercept

While Rudi acknowledged he was not in Warsaw as an official delegate, nor would he attend the talks, his presence as a paid speaker for the goals of MEK is troubling.

One official delegate, Benjamin Netanyahu, however, was more than willing to speak his mind on the purpose of the talks and give his view of what he seeks to come out of the meeting.  He stated,

Even before the conference began, the Israeli prime minister appeared to shrug off efforts by the State Department and the Polish government to portray the gathering as broadly focused on Middle East peace, describing it as primarily a meeting of Iran’s enemies. The Intercept

Never one to pull a punch, Netanyahu even went so far in the article to say “war with Iran is (the) aim of the Warsaw talks”. It doesn’t get more explicit than that in anyone’s mind. One has to ask why now? Why make incendiary statements about Iran now when peace in the Middle East is on the front burner of diplomatic circles in the region more than ever? More on this later.

Rudi is not the only MEK supporter in the ranks of the Trump administration. John Bolton is a supporter of MEK as well. Here is a tweet describing Bolton’s position on regime change in Iran,

Bahman Kalbasi

@BahmanKalbasi

8 months ago among MEK supporters tells them they will overthrow ’s regime and celebrate in with Bolton himself present, “before 2019”

The speech exile Kalbasi speaks of was well before Bolton was named as Trump’s national security adviser at a rally in Paris held by the MEK. He also predicted that the regime change imminent. He stated,

“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday,” Bolton said. (The 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution will be on February 11, 2019.) “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” Bolton added. “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”The Intercept

While he was obviously wrong,  but the implications are disturbing coming from someone so mentally unstable and with so much power.

On Valentine’s Day, Mike Pence while attending the Warsaw Talks called out members of the European Union, most notably France and Germany, for trying to undermine the United States sanctions on Iran and urged them to pull out of the Iran nuclear treaty. Both countries refused to send delegates to the Warsaw meeting fearing the meeting would devolve into a free for all condemnation of Iran which would only further isolate the Iranian government from the rest of the region and the world.

Pence’s condemnation of the EU members is particularly galling considering that it was Trump who blew up part of the deal by withdrawing from the treaty. Barrack Obama secured the treaty in the hope of taking the only realistic course to impede Iran from furthering their nuclear capacity. All indications and reporting on the treaty point to the fact that the treaty is working and the U.S. sanctions are only exacerbating the problem. (PBS)

So, a quick score card of who’s who in the rush for war with Iran. There is Netanyahu who is facing corruption charges and a tough election coming up at home which bodes badly for him. John Bolton is simply a dyed-in-the-wool maniac when it comes to Iran, and who harbors a deep-seated need to blow them off the face of the earth. Mike Pence is little more than a puppet for whatever Trump tells him to think and say. Then there is Rudi, the president’s personal lawyer. It has become obvious Rudi does not have an intelligent thought in his head these days and has become the president’s stooge saying anything and everything that comes to mind.

But most of all, there is Trump himself. Beset by the Robert Mueller investigation, the newly empowered Democratic majority and Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives, and in the face of monumental failures in the form of the shut down and the newly signed immigration bill, it is safe to say Trump might be feeling the heat for all sides. The condemnation of Iran takes on both ominous and strategic importance to the president. Could there be ulterior motives behind the machinations of so many world leaders and their minions who are in such deep do do?

Or as Conrad ‘Connie” Breansaid: Can’t have a war without an enemy. . . You could have one, but it would be a very dull war . . . (Robert De Niro Wag the Dog)