Trump-a-day

President Trump on Friday touted himself as the “most tweeted about” world leader at the United Nations General Assembly, retweeting a graphic that put him at the top of the list, although not because he said anything clever.

The Trump Speech at the U.N.: bombastic noise that drowned the frail signals of common sense.


While North Korea’s nuclear program is at the forefront of concern all around the world, the US President could have made his point about Kim Jong Un’s regime in a measured way to prevent escalating tensions and misinterpretation by North Korea (which is exactly what happened). Instead, Trump went with words as “rocket man” to satisfy his base, which feeds on his tweets and slogans. As Jane Harman of the Wilson Center put it “Tuesday was a missed opportunity. Trump may have won the street, but he lost the hall.”


In his speech to the U.N. in San Francisco in 1948, Harry Truman warned the founders that “we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.” This is something Trump will never learn.

When you peel away the inflammatory language of the General Assembly speech, here’s what the president really said: 

– The world should reject threats to sovereignty (think: Ukraine); 

– condemn and counter humanitarian abuses by North Korea in addition to its nuclear program; 

– Iran should cease its bad behaviour across the Middle East (even US Congress has gone on record to address this);

– a political solution is needed to end the crisis in Syria. 

Most would consider these positions fairly mainstream. But then Trump spiced things up with “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Kim responded to Trump’s comments in a statement on Thursday, calling the U.S. president “mentally deranged” and warning that he would “pay dearly” for his threats against Pyongyang. Kim referred to Trump as a “gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician” in the statement filled with colourful insults, which was reported by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA.

“The mentally deranged behaviour of the U.S. president openly expressing on the U.N. arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking think about discretion and composure,” Kim said. “A frightened dog barks louder. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” he said.

Pyongyang’s provocation came the same day that Trump announced new sanctions on the isolated country.

Despite crushing sanctions, Pyongyang has continued its weapons testing, launching ballistic missiles over Japan and, earlier this month, detonating what North Korean officials claim was a hydrogen bomb.

President Trump fired back at North Korean leader on Friday.


Also today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that North Korean leader will be “tested” by the new sanctions. “Our diplomatic efforts continue unabated. We have put in place the strongest economic sanctions ever to have been assembled against Kim Jong Un, so he is being tested with these sanctions,” Tillerson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Voices from every corner of the world are calling on him to cease his program, come to the table and let’s talk about the future of North Korea and the North Korean people,” he added.

As if the name calling football was not enough, a former foreign policy adviser to President Obama is warning there could be trouble if Kim chides President Trump over the fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

God save us if Kim Jong Un makes a comment about Hillary’s popular vote victory https://t.co/mW2SJtmIrF

— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) September 22, 2017

Trump and Kim have been locked for months in a war of words and threats that has prompted concerns among foreign leaders who fear Washington and Pyongyang may be hurtling toward a confrontation. Donald Trump’s proximity to the USA’s arsenal of some 6,800 nuclear warheads could hardly comfort anyone at the best of times.

In the meantime, Google suggested that I might be interested in the following:

  

No, you can’t survive a nuclear attack by sitting in a fridge. Do not believe everything Hollywood shows you. 

Trump-a-day

U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson finally caught up on the trans-Atlantic news, specifically, Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots. Johnson told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I thought he [Donald Trump] got it totally wrong and I thought it was a great shame that he failed to make a clear and fast distinction, which we all are able to make, between fascists and anti-fascists, between Nazis and anti-Nazis.” The state visit was more likely to happen next year than this, he added.


In case you missed it, earlier this year, Johnson praised praises Trump’s tweets for ‘engaging people.’ In a July interview with Today programme, the foreign secretary intimated he was envious of the freedom with which Trump expressed his views on Twitter, despite the intense criticism the president has faced over his use of the network.

“Donald Trump’s approach to politics has been something that has gripped the imagination of people around the world. He has engaged people in politics in a way that we haven’t seen for a long time, with his tweets and all the rest of it. I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to tweet in the way that he does, much as I might like to. I’m seeing my Foreign Office minders looking extremely apprehensive here,” Johnson said. Well, Boris, Trump should not be allowed either, because his “foot in mouth” disease is how “the rest of it” became normal. Trump is doing ten things a day that, in normal times, even just one would be a proper scandal.

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“What do we want?”

“The wall!”

Alec Baldwin reprised his President Trump portrayal on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Summer Edition.” 

Baldwin mocked Trump’s raucous rally earlier this week and jabbed Trump for attacking the media over coverage of his response to the violence in Charlottesville that was roundly criticized.

“As we all know, there was a tragic victim that came out of Charlottesville – me,” Baldwin’s Trump said. “Folks, the media has treated me so unfairly by reporting my entire remarks, even the bad ones.”

Baldwin’s Trump addressed holding a campaign rally three years before the next presidential election, saying “it’s never too early to campaign for 2020. Mike Pence is already doing it.”

His Trump character also played up his primetime speech to the nation on Afghanistan earlier this week, saying he had “solved” the problem with a U.S. strategy in the country. “I sat down with our military, we looked at the map and I asked the hard questions, like which one is Afghanistan?” Baldwin’s Trump said.


Baldwin has played Trump on “Saturday Night Live” for the last year and re-appeared on the special summer episode of the show after confirming in June that he would return to the show this fall to portray the president. Thanks, Alec, it would have been a shame not to!

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Wednesday called for the nation to come together in “shared humanity” and “citizenship,” one day after giving a speech which resembled a “greatest hits” package from his presidential campaign (including pledges to boost the economy; crack down on illegal immigration, in part by building the border wall; and drain the Washington swamp).

“It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us,” Trump told a crowd of veterans at an American Legion conference in Reno, Nevada.

Sticking largely to his prepared remarks, the president pointed to the military as a positive example for all Americans when it comes to patriotism, hard work and common purpose, saying “we are one people, with one home and one flag.” (Minus, the transgender military ban, of course.)

“We are not defined by the colour of our skin, the figure on our pay check or the party of our politics,” Trump said. “We are defined by our shared humanity, our citizenship in this magnificent nation and by the love that fills our hearts. We are people who love. We are people with heart. We are people who adore. We are people who are great — there is no country like the United States of America. We have no division too deep for us to heal,” the president said, concluding his remarks. We are people who adore? Was his speechwriter previously employed as a junior screenwriter for Hollywood’s summer rom-coms?!

Many Republicans wish Trump would move on from Charlottesville, an incident that resulted in one of the worst stretches of his presidency (clearly testing his “no division too deep for us to heal” theory). Trump seems to believe it’s an issue that animates his core supporters. That says a lot about the true colour of his adoration. Remember Michelle Obama’s quote “being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

For all the rhetorical fireworks, it is difficult to see how this week’s speeches changed anyone’s opinion of him — for better or for worse.

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The chances of a government shutdown in the fall are growing. Congress returns to Washington next month facing a full plate of radioactive, must-pass legislation and a shutdown threat that looks more serious after President Trump suggested he would not support a spending package that omits new funds for a southern border wall.

Speaker Paul Ryan in his unique self-doubting speaking style pushed back at Trump’s suggestion that border wall funding is worth a shutdown. “I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said during a visit to an Intel facility in Oregon. He also explained that the president is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.” 

Good luck to GOP leaders in their quest to find a legislative sweet-spot that satisfies the president’s border-wall demand without alienating the Democrats, whose votes will be essential to keep the government running. “Democrats have made clear we will not support funding for President Trump’s misguided, ineffective border wall,” Joseph Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said this week.

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The White House Self-Appointed Warrior Princess, aka aide Kellyanne Conway, went after Hillary Clinton for “making excuses.” “She failed to make history and she succeeds at making excuses. And that is emblematic of a Democratic Party now that is so bereft of ideas and issues that they have to then play armchair psychiatrists.” 


Conway’s comments come after excerpts of Clinton’s new book “What Happened” were released earlier this week, in which she wrote that President Trump’s attempts to intimidate her during the presidential campaign made her “skin crawl.” Hillary said it as it was. “What would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?”

As for Kellyanne, what does she even do when she is not on Fox insulting people and passing her judgment as a gospel?

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This week, the White House reveals its new look, including the new wallpaper personally chosen by Trump himself. My gran used to have a similar wallpaper in the living room, in circa 1989.


Earlier this month, Trump denied that he called the White House a “dump.” Trump responded on Twitter to an article on the website golf.com. The story recounts a scene in which Trump was chatting with some club members at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. He reportedly told the members he visits the property so frequently because “that White House is a real dump.” Hopefully now that he was involved in decision making over the wallpaper, he feels more at home there.


For more visuals of the White House interior designs check https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2017/aug/23/white-house-renovations-donald-trump

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Tuesday night fiercely defended his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., at his first public rally since his remarks ignited a national debate about whether he had emboldened racists. 


Diring the 76-minute long campaign rally in Phoenix, Trump attacked the news media, Democrats and the Senate Republicans. The president mocked the protesters outside the building and the “anti-fascist” protesters that clashed with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, where three people died on 12 August. “All week [the media] are talking about the massive crowds that are going to be outside. Where are they?” Ah, Trump and crowd sizes… Nearly 20,000 people packed into the arena to hear the president speak.

Trump opened with a scripted statement calling for unity, but quickly veered off script to spend the bulk of the rally unloading on the news media for its “false” coverage of his response to Charlottesville, which sparked chants of “CNN sucks!” from his supporters. Trump read through almost the entirety of his initial response, arguing that it was adequate. “These were my exact words — ‘I love all the people of our country. We are going to make America great again. But we are going to make it a great for all of the people of the United States of America,’ ” Trump said. “And then they say, ‘Is he a racist?’ You know where my heart is,” Trump continued. “I’m really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.” Trump did not mention that he had also blamed “both sides” and “many sides” on two occasions, which is what provoked fury from his critics.

“For the most part honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, they’re bad people,” Trump added. “I really think they don’t like our country, I really believe that.” We know that he really means it. That is the problem.

Trump also accused news outlets of “turning the cameras off” at the rally and cutting off coverage of the event. However, no major news outlets appeared to actually stop their livestreams or video coverage of Trump’s speech.

Trump threatened to shut down the government if his proposed border wall with Mexico doesn’t get funding from Congress. “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.



At the end of the night, police in riot gear deployed smoke canisters and flash-bangs to disperse the crowd as protesters mixed with rallygoers streaming out of the complex.

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Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, said Tuesday that, despite President Trump’s remarks denouncing white supremacists and neo-Nazis, the president has yet to condemn the alt-right. 

Trump has never denounced the Alt-Right. Nor will he.#ArizonaTrumpRally

— Richard ☝Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) August 23, 2017

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An internet prankster posing as Stephen Bannon baited Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow into saying he would assist Bannon with his “dirty work” and help push Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner out of the White House, according to the emails provided to CNN by the anonymous web troll, known as @SINON_REBORN on Twitter. Bannon, who was recently ousted as chief White House strategist, promptly returned to his previous position as executive chairman at Breitbart News. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner frequently clashed with Bannon over internal policy discussions during his time in the administration, and his move sparked speculation over how the site, which has backed President Trump in his campaign and presidency, will now cover the administration.  

The fake account — designed to look like it was Bannon’s — reportedly first messaged Marlow on Sunday in an apparent attempt to fool him into talking about Trump and Kushner. 

“So do you think you’ll have them packed and shipping out before Christmas?”

“Let me see what I can do … hard to know given your description of them as evil,” Marlow responded. “I don’t know what motivates them. If they are semi normal, then yes, they out by end of year.” Semi normal…

Marlow defended Breitbart to CNN, saying, “If people want to know our thinking, they don’t need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page.” No, thanks!
 

Trump-a-day

President Trump on Monday announced he will not pull out U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as he is committed to a new strategy aimed at winning the nation’s longest war. 

During a prime-time address to the nation, Trump declared a rapid exit from the war-torn nation would leave a major power vacuum that would create a new safe haven for terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president acknowledged his “original instinct was to pull out,” a reference to his long-held view and campaign promise. Trump admitted that the calculation is different “when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.” Well, he was mentally present during at least one intelligence briefing on the matter, we have to give him that. Although, winning the war and building the peace are two different things, and it is the peace building process that Afghanistan is lacking.

Overall, it was a “very Trump” speech, as he declined to provide specifics or anything resembling a plan; showed he was pro-war, not peace; and blamed previous administrations. “When I became president I was given a bad and very complex hand,” Trump asserted. “No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.” (Oh, I am sure quite a few people would love to go back to 8 November 2016 and make better decisions).

“The American people are weary of war without victory. I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said, adding that, “in the end, we will fight and we will win.” Good luck! How will that look like, a total eradication of al Qaeda?

While the president is widely expected to send roughly 4,000 additional U.S. troops to the country, a recommendation made by the Pentagon, Trump declined to say how many troops he would send or reveal a firm timeline for how long they would serve there. There are roughly 8,400 American service members currently in Afghanistan. Most troops train and advise the Afghan military, but roughly 2,000 participate in counterterrorism missions. “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plan for further military activities,” Trump said. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy for now on. … I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.” Presidential Speechmaking 101: avoid facts in your promises, as they might stick and be held against you.

Unlike past administrations, the president said he does not seek to encourage Afghanistan to adopt Western-style democracy and institutions — just to ensure it does not become a refuge for extremist groups. No surprise here, coming from someone who mightily dislikes free press, women rights, gay rights, and pretty much approves of Neo-Nazis (think of his assertion that “very fine people” were on both sides of the clashes between white supremacists and protestors in Charlottesville, Va.). Do not get me wrong, I am not advocating for Western-style democracy in countries that have no history of democracy. I am 100% for equality and education everywhere in the world, though. 

Senator John McCain, who has spent months bashing President Trump for delaying a new Afghanistan strategy, commended him for “taking a big step in the right direction with the new strategy for Afghanistan.” Have you noticed that Trump always gets commended by one or two of his numerous critics on those rare occasions when he manages to stick to the prepared speech?

Contrary to McCain, Senator Jack Reed, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services panel, called the plan “very vague” and said it was “short on the details our troops and the American people deserve.”

Some people dared to say that Trump’s presidency is becoming ordinary (clearly, not Twitter users).


 “Trump still has every opportunity to turn around his presidency,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist. “Look, a lot of presidents have rough first years and go on to be very successful, and there is no reason Trump can’t do that.” Although even Conant’s optimistic outlook has its limits with regard to the president’s impetuous ways. “Trump will continue to follow his instincts, which will continue to lead him into trouble,” he said. 

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During a town hall with CNN in Racine, Wisconsin, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he wishes President Trump would tweet less, noting there are posts on Twitter he would prefer not to see from the commander-in-chief. “Do I wish there would be a little less tweeting? Of course, I do. But I think, I don’t think that that’s going to change.” I think he thinks right, even though he has a very roundabout way of expressing his thoughts.