Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sanity Sunday- July 23- 29 Week in Review and Nomadic Playlist 3

by Nomad

Compared to previous weeks, the last week (July 23- 29) was subdued all in all. That didn't mean there was not a whole lot of unnecessary confusion, alternate facts and general incompetence. After all, Donald Trump is still the president. 

Demented Words of Violence and Death

Late last Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to issue a threat to the leaders of Iran. The tweet warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:
As one military analyst said,
"We've seen a lot of very bellicose words from Mr. Trump in the past, but this tweet ... I think it takes it to a new level."
I suppose we should all be thankful that Trump is only lobbing menacing tweets and not ballistic missiles.

FISA Warrant for Carter Page Released

On Monday, the Justice Department, by order of the president, released previously-classified FBI files on Carter Page, a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. The FBI believed that Page had been "the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government."

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release of the October 2016 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application by the White House was an apparent attempt to upend the Mueller investigation. Journalists believe that James Wolfe, the Director of Security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, leaked Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) documents to a young female reporter with whom he was engaged in an extramarital affair.
In a subsequent tweet, President Trump claimed that the FBI surveillance of his campaign amounted to illegal spying for the political gain of "Crooked" Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Since the FISA warrants were reviewed by judges, it is hard to see anything illegal about the process.
Although President Trump immediately claimed the leaked document exonerated him, legal experts disagreed. The story was largely forgotten by mid-week.

Farm Aid Bailout

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration would be providing over $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries.

Expected to be implemented sometime before the mid-term elections, the assistance would be directed primarily at soybean farmers, dairy farmers, pork producers, and others. Conservative Republicans were, for the most part, disapproving- if reticent- about the government subsidy proposal.One Republican from Wisconsin, Senator Ron Johnson, said:
“My thoughts are the thoughts of farmers. They want trade, not aid. It’s really just that simple,
There were a series of other problems. According to a former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Trump's expensive farm subsidy plan could potentially run afoul of World Trade Organization rules. 
One more problem, Trump's trade war is expected to negatively affect other industries. Will the president also bail out those businesses too? That's going to get very pricey in a short time.

The Rosenstein Impeachment That Never Was

On Thursday, House Freedom Caucus leaders, Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows from North Carolina introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The resolution claims that Rosenstein is attempting to withhold information about the Mueller investigation from Congress. The legislation was doomed for any number of reasons.

Even many GOP defenders of the administration were lukewarm on the whole idea. Fox News called the motion "unconstitutional" and pointed out that that the threshold for impeachment includes “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” but not a lack of cooperation with a congressional oversight investigation.

Trump Threatens Ally with Sanctions

Also on Thursday, Vice president Mike Pence- and later the president- issued a threat to NATO member, Turkey, regarding an imprisoned pastor, Andrew Brunson. The administration threatened to impose "large" sanctions against Turkey.
Pastor Brunson, whom Trump in a tweet called "a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being," is accused of involvement with terrorist groups, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. The charges against Brunson carry a prison sentence of 35 years.

As reported by TIME, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu issued this reply:
“We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception.”
On Sunday, the Turkish president Erdogan announced that his nation would not be intimidated by Trump's threats of sanctions. He also made it clear that the friendly alliance between the United States and Turkey is on the line in this dispute.

Michael Cohen's Latest Bombshell

Late on Thursday, an extremely-damaging assertion came for Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump, he claimed, knew in advance of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer/agent, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Reported by both CNN and NBC News, Cohen's allegation contradicts both Trump and his son who (implausibly) insisted that the president knew nothing about the meeting until the news broke in the New York Times.

Rudy Giuliani- once the singer of Cohen's praises- dismissed the accusation as lies, lies lies. However, Cohen said he's willing to testify under oath. Whether true or not, Cohen's version of events fits neatly into the conspiratorial timeline that the Mueller investigation is building against Trump and his campaign staff.

How Much Trump Cares about Protecting US Elections

Friday was the day that Trump finally chaired a meeting of his National Security Council on the subject of combating electoral interference in the United States. The meeting, which was meant to cover all activities federal agencies were undertaking to protect elections, reportedly lasted less than an hour and ended with no new directives. Nevertheless, Trump deemed the meeting "very constructive."

But that wasn't the most absurd part of this show. Earlier in the week, the president tweeted this:
Last week, Russian president Putin could barely stop smiling during his meeting with the "tough" Donald Trump.

Mnuchin and the Exceptional Case 

Meanwhile, news leaked that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was considering lifting sanctions against a major Russian aluminum company, Rusal.

Its former owner, oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was sanctioned this year by the US in an attempt to punish the Kremlin for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. Deripaska- who has been mentioned in past NP posts- has been linked with indicted campaign staffer, Paul Manafort who will soon be in court.
Under pressure to implement sanctions that Congress had demanded, the Treasury Department last April unveiled new sanctions against five entities and 19 individuals. It was supposed to be a sign that Trump was serious about punishing Russia. 

However, less than three weeks later, Mnuchin- presumably under orders from the president- eased restrictions on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum company.
Mnuchin's latest move flies in the face of bipartisan demand to ramp up sanctions on Russian oligarchs and their businesses.
*   *   *
The weekend was fairly peaceful which in the Trump era, is somewhat ominous. One comment on Reddit offered another theory for the relative calm.  
After having gone off a progressively deeper end over the years, Trump has finally landed the Mariana Trench and has thus gone completely off the deepest end there is.
Don't be too sure about "the deepest end." There's always next week. In any event, I will add an update at the bottom of this post for any Sunday night breaking news.  
Care to guess what the coming week will bring? 

Sanity Sunday Musical Break

For this week's Sanity break, we hop aboard the Nomadic time-machine and journey back to the 1960s. Hard to believe that a full half-century has passed, isn't it?
Although the fashions might look rather ridiculous now, the music remains golden.

The playlist consists of:

  1. Small Faces - Itchycoo Park
  2. The Beatles - Paperback Writer
  3. Herman's HermitsI'm Into Something Good 
  4. The Rolling Stones - Under my Thumb
  5. The Outsiders - Time Won´t Let Me
  6. The Monkees - Last Train To Clarksville 
  7. Association - Never My Love
  8. Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
  9. The Zombies - She's Not There
  10. The Hollies - The Air That I Breath
  11. We Five - You Were On My Mind
  12. Beach Boys - I Can Hear Music 
  13. The Beatles - Hey Jude

Have a great Sunday. my friends.