Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trump’s America: A banana republic with nukes

This week it was reported that the US government paid more than $77,000 to President Trump’s Scottish golf resort ahead of his stay there last weekend. The Turnberry course has been losing “an astonishing amount of money,” including $23m in 2016, according to Adam Davidson in The New Yorker.

Davidson asks: “Did he purchase and rehabilitate Turnberry, as he did so much else, with other people’s money?” — i.e. was it funded via money laundering for Russian nationals?  

Paul Krugman, The New York Times columnist and former Princeton University economist, called America “A banana republic with nukes (nuclear weapons)” in September 2008 when the federal government had to bail-out Wall Street. A month later, the late Christopher Hitchens, wrote in Vanity Fair: “the chief principle of banana-ism is that of kleptocracy, whereby those in positions of influence use their time in office to maximize their own gains, always ensuring that any shortfall is made up by those unfortunates whose daily life involves earning money rather than making it. At all costs, therefore, the one principle that must not operate is the principle of accountability...In a banana republic, the members of the national legislature will be (a) largely for sale and (b) consulted only for ceremonial and rubber-stamp purposes sometime after all the truly important decisions have already been made elsewhere.”

In 1904, American writer O. Henry (real name William Sydney Porter) wrote ‘The Admiral,’ a short story published in his book Cabbages and Kings. It’s set in Anchuria, a fictional "small, maritime banana republic."

Henry at the time lived in Honduras, in Central America, and he was a fugitive from Texas law enforcement. The Economist wrote in 2013:

His phrase neatly conjures up the image of a tropical, agrarian country. But its real meaning is sharper: it refers to the fruit companies from the United States that came to exert extraordinary influence over the politics of Honduras and its neighbours. By the end of the 19th century, Americans had grown sick of trying to grow fruit in their own chilly country. It was sweeter and cheaper by far to import it instead from the warmer climes of Central America, where bananas and other fruit grow quickly. Giants such as the United Fruit Company — an ancestor of Chiquita — moved in and built roads, ports and railways in return for land. In 1911 the Cuyamel Fruit Company, another American firm (which was later bought by United), supplied the weapons for a coup against the government of Honduras, and prospered under the newly installed president. In 1954 America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed a coup against the government of Guatemala, which had threatened the interests of United. (Historians still debate whether the CIA's motive was to protect United or, as many now believe, to nip Communism in the bud.) Hence the real meaning of a “banana republic”: a country in which foreign enterprises push the government around.”

In more recent times, President Nixon’s politically-inspired ‘War on Drugs’ would make Honduras the murder capital of the world.

Before becoming president with the support of 25% of the voting age population* Donald Trump had a reputation as a grifter (someone who swindles you through deception or fraud) or as we Irish would call a knacker in a suit (a low-life type who cannot camouflage what he is by wearing a business suit).

Interview of President Putin in Helsinki, July 16, 2018, by Chris Wallace of Fox News. The US Murdoch-owned broadcast channel during the Trump presidency is effectively the state propaganda service. Chris Wallace, son of a distinguished journalist, is one of the few Fox presenters who is a credible journalist. His colleague Irish-American Sean Hannity, earns about $30m annually while being a Trump adviser and public poodle/ sycophant.

Trump played the system well by declaring 6 bankruptcies and Roy Cohn, the legal hitman of Irish-American demagogue Joseph McCarthy, who later became a prominent New York lawyer representing politicians, financiers, and Mafia mob bosses, in the 1970s, and until his death from AIDS in 1986, was an early mentor of Trump. Cohn is credited with instilling the ‘always attack, never apologise' technique of the student who had been involved in about 3,500 lawsuits in three decades.

By December 2016, US businesses had added 15.8m jobs since private-sector job growth had turned positive in early 2010. In the period 2010-2016, the United States had put more people back to work than all other G7 economies (Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada) combined.

Trump won support in Rust Belt states that had lost manufacturing jobs over the decades. From 1979 when American manufacturing jobs were at 19.5m, numbers fell a low just under 11.5m in early 2010. There were 12.7m last month. Automation has been mainly the culprit rather globalisation and China. However, after two terms of the first African-American president, it was racism that put the unfit Trump in the White House. The candidate loved to wind-up the racists and ignorant at his rallies with threats to jail his rival and they would react in a frenzy yelling “Lock her up!”

Trump got away with not releasing his tax returns in 2016, which had been done by presidential candidates of the major parties since the 1970s 1) because he had something to hide 2) the Republican Party leadership was too cowardly to demand it. 

Evan Osnos of The New Yorker wrote in a report in May 2017:

I asked Jerry Taylor, the president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, if he had ever seen so much skepticism so early in a Presidency. “No, nobody has,” he said. “But we’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.” Very few Republicans in Congress have openly challenged Trump, but Taylor cautioned against interpreting that as committed support. “My guess is that there’s only between fifty and a hundred Republican members of the House that are truly enthusiastic about Donald Trump as President,” he said. “The balance sees him as somewhere between a deep and dangerous embarrassment and a threat to the Constitution.”

Hillary Clinton had warned that “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

“Oh, we need an expert. The experts are terrible!” Trump had said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin, in April, 2016. “They say, ‘Donald Trump needs a foreign-policy adviser.’ Supposing I didn’t have one?”

On Monday in Helsinki, Trump the narcissistic bully who abuses by tweet, anyone who stands up to him, was a nervous lapdog to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and former KGB spymaster.

He became the first of the 44 men who have been president of the United States, to side with a foreign leader in publicly criticising his own country.

He was asked if Russia interfered with the election of 2016? “My people came to me. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

On Tuesday Trump said at the White House “The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative” (see the New York Times image above of Trump’s Tuesday talking points paper with "THERE WAS NO COLLUSION" handwritten on it).

It has been speculated that the unprepared Trump at the 90-minute private meeting with Putin may have inadvertently disclosed US intelligence, and on Wednesday Bloomberg reported that Putin asked that Michael McFaul, the previous American ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, be arrested for questioning by Russian investigators.

Nicholas Burns, a United States ambassador during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations:

John Brennan, CIA director 2013-2017. His father Owen emigrated from Ireland to the US in 1948:

The president of the United States says everthing would have been grand if the real enemy of the people had cheered his kowtowing to Putin :

Russia’s population of 144m is 28% of the EU’s and 44% of the US and in 2017 based on an average of GDP estimates by the World Bank and the IMF, Russia’s GDP was $1.56tn – just 8% of US GDP. It compares with South Korea’s $2tn and Italy’s $2.4tn. Canada’s GDP was $1.7tn.

Russia’s GDP per capita (PPP – adjusted for price differences) was behind Turkey’s in 2017.

Fuel and energy products (i.e. oil, gas and products resulting from their processing) accounted for 62% of Russian exports in 2016.

Obama used to call Russia a regional power, not a global one and Trump’s invitation to Putin to visit the White House after Trump’s kowtowing to Putin, is quite an elevation of the former KGB spymaster.

Trump's consistent lovefest with Putin, from the start of his campaign in 2015, while as president ignorantly abusing his allies, suggests that there are secrets in Trump's past that he wishes to keep hidden.

In a poll published on Saturday, July 21 by The Washington Post, on Trump "15 percent say he did not go far enough to support Putin" - so 15% of Americans are Putin's USEFUL IDIOTS!

Every politician lies but Trump seems to lie a lot more than telling the truth. When in London this month, he slammed Theresa May, British prime minister, in an interview with the Murdoch-owned Sun tabloid newspaper. When the interview was published he denied like a child that he said what was reported, even though there was an electronic record of what he said. 

Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Trump's 1987 bestseller 'Art of the Deal' has said: “Lying is second nature to him... More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”

America has either a traitor or buffoon as its president or both. Trump has no fixed ideology but some fixations such as the goods trade deficit. Some say he's not a Russian intelligence asset because he acts so stupid. Besides the intelligence services, Trump also has open contempt for the rule of law.

This ignorant man has shamed his country, which is currently being run like a banana republic.

*The typical turnout of voters in the mid-50s in 2016 was typical of the low US interest in voting and successful efforts to make it difficult for minorities to vote in Republican-run states.

Trump makes racism respectable again in America