Category Archives: Foreign affairs

Day 66: POLITICO panel of “expert GOPs” see Trump’s trip as a success

There’s never been any question that something’s seriously awry with the perceptive capabilities of the entire Grand Old Party about its own successes and failures — most recently, 2012’s “skewed polls” nonsense and Mitt Romney’s belief in his bad polling and Karl Rove’s Election Night meltdown live on FOX News over Ohio being called for Barack Obama.  Now we have further evidence: the professional GOP evaluation of Donald Trump’s disastrous trip to Mexico.

You recall this week’s trip?  Where Donald Trump was contradicted about illegal immigration, in Spanish, by the President of Mexico, from an adjacent podium?  Where Donald Trump was rebuked by the Mexican president for his lies about whether the ‘paid-for-by-Mexico wall’ even came up?  Where Donald Trump traveled afterwards to Phoenix to give the darkest speech yet of his presidential campaign?

POLITICO has a panel of professionals in eleven swing states.  Some are Democrats; some are GOPs.  They have been surveyed throughout the campaign for their opinions about the state of the race.  And the panel of GOPs was just surveyed for their opinion of Trump’s trip.

How did a large majority of these professional Republicans characterize his trip?

HUGELY OR MODERATELY SUCCESSFUL

Two-thirds of GOP members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, operatives and strategists in 11 key battleground states — rated the Republican nominee’s meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, followed by an evening rally in Phoenix in which he reiterated his robust immigration proposals, as hugely or moderately successful, despite the potential contradiction between the two events.

These are the people running the GOP in the few swing states that left in this election.  They consider this trip, the presidential “summit” in Mexico and the Phoenix speech, a great  success.

FULL VIAGRA!

“A week after teasing a softening, Trump went full Viagra in his Phoenix speech, burying the crowd in red meat as he returned to his portrayal of America as a dystopian wasteland ruled by criminal aliens,” one Iowa Republican said. “

ANOTHER PHARMACEUTICAL REFERENCE!

“He’s like a kid who takes Ritalin in the morning, and it wears off in the late afternoon,” said a New Hampshire Republican. “The result is two totally different kids in the same day. His parents are constantly monitoring how long it’s been since he took his last dose.”

But one Virginia Republican disagreed. “No one will remember the speech in a week,” the Republican said. “The visual of him with the Mexican president will be in peoples’ minds.”

For Democrats, Trump’s day was almost unanimously a failure: Only a combined 17 percent rated it moderately or hugely successful.

I don’t know if the Republican or Democratic experts are right.  But their perceptions sure are different, and GOP perceptions have been very wrong recently.  It’s almost as if they don’t have their finger on the pulse of the *entire* electorate, only a sliver of it.

As long as these incorrect perceptions are reaching the top of the Trump campaign, I think they’ll make the same mistakes Mitt Romney made: belief in their own victory, despite reality’s known liberal bias.

 

Day 77: Eric Trump Surrogating Wrong on Time-Traveling Syrian Refugees

When you’re family, and family is practically all the Trump Campaign™ has going for it in the Surrogate Department, it’s important to get it right.  Eric Trump isn’t:

“I mean, wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years and it’s because you have, you know, Syrian refugees coming in. It’s because you have, you know, thousands of people coming over the border. I mean, Americans are suffering because of it, and that’s his point,” Eric Trump said on Fox & Friends, explaining his father’s views on immigration.

So much wrong here!

First of all, “coming over the border?”  We have a border with Syria now?

Because I was not aware of that.

Second, “wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years?”  Nope.

Compensation for the median worker, or the person making exactly the middle of compensation, adjusted for inflation, grew just 8.7 percent between 1973 and 2014, or a 0.2 percent annual rate. Yet net productivity grew at a 1.33 percent annual pace in the same time. Things have gotten even worse since 2000: net productivity has grown 21.6 percent since then, yet inflation-adjusted compensation for the median worker grew just 1.8 percent.

Finally, the whole “Syrian refugees coming in” — that’s more a problem because of the time-travel, Eric:

But we’ve not had masses of Syrian refugees coming to this country for 15 years, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has only heated up since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. During that time, the United States has endeavored to provide refuge for Syrians fleeing certain death. But of the some 5 million Syrians who have left their country, very few have made it to these shores.

Eric Trump, you Patrick Bateman lookalike: — if you know about Syrian refugees who’ve caused wage stagnation, either for the last 15 years or since the 1970s, the issue isn’t that they are Syrian and stealing Americans’ jobs.  They’ve only been refugee-ing since 2011.

The issue is that they are time travelers.

Alert the media, sure; but prioritize what you alert the media about, okay, bucko?  Important stuff first.  Like time travel!

Day 79: Trump’s Foreign Policy Adviser

There’s probably not many GOPs who’ll admit openly they advise Donald Trump on foreign policy, but one appeared last night in Minneapolis, at a private closed-press fundraiser, speaking to media as she entered the venue:

“People want to live, mind their own business and have a good job, and I think that’s something Donald Trump understands,” former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said on her way inside.

Bachmann said she has known Trump for five years and has advised him on foreign policy and faith issues.

“He’s a common-sense guy, not into political correctness,” Bachmann said. “He has turned businesses around, and that’s what he wants to do with the country.”

Michele Bachmann brings a non-unique but disturbing viewpoint on foreign policy to the Trump Campaign™:

Last year, after falsely claiming that President Obama was aiding Al Qaeda, Bachmann cited the non-existent aid to Al Qaeda as proof that “we are in God’s End Times history” and that “we need to rejoice, Maranatha come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand. When we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this; these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time.”

Additionally, her views regarding Hillary Clinton are quite clear:

She also contends that the Obama administration, especially the State Department under former Secretary of State Clinton, has experienced “deep penetration” by Muslim Brotherhood agents and as a result U.S. officials have “embraced the worldview aspirations of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

If Bachmann does decide to become a leading conservative voice on foreign affairs as a “foil” to Clinton, we shouldn’t forget that Bachmann sees the End Times struggle taking place today, and has already claimed that God is not on Clinton’s side

Claiming your chosen higher power is on your candidate’s side is one thing.

Basing your foreign policy recommendations on the view that the other candidate does not have God on her side is quite something else entirely.

Not that it will matter to the fact-free Trump Campaign™ but sometimes Bachmann gets, um, confused:

Bachmann has sometimes gotten her foreign policy facts mixed up. In 2007 she told a Minnesota newspaper that the United States should stay the course in Iraq because:

“Iran is the trouble maker, trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out. And do you know why? It’s because they’ve already decided that they’re going to partition Iraq.

“And half of Iraq, the western, northern portion of Iraq, is going to be called the Iraq State of Islam, something like that. And I’m sorry, I don’t have the official name, but it’s meant to be the training ground for the terrorists. There’s already an agreement made.

“They are going to get half of Iraq and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more terrorist attacks in the Middle East region and then to come against the United States because we are their avowed enemy.”

Bachmann later said that her comments had been “misconstrued.” Northern Iraq is dominated by Sunni Kurds, and western Iraq by Sunni Arabs. Neither group has much interest in allying with Shiite Persians.

Despite not knowing the geography of the place and the sectarian allegiance of its inhabitants, Bachmann has long wanted boots, or more boots, on the ground.

Boots on the ground” = American troops will die.  She wants American troops to die again in Iraq:

Asked whether Congress should vote on a resolution authorizing force in the lame-duck session, a move supported by some in her caucus, Bachmann demurred.

“I think we should have voted on it before we left,” she told The Huffington Post following the speech. “The president wants to have it two ways. He wants to pretend we’re not at war and yet be at war. We have to be adult about this. It isn’t just the Islamic State. It’s Islamic jihad. It’s important that we declare war, and defeat them quickly. I think ultimately there will be boots on the ground.”

She calls this wanting “our 1980s foreign policy back.”  I guess reading about those Marines Reagan got killed in Lebanon gives her a kind of nostalgia?  Or perhaps she longs for the distracting effect of small-country invasions in the wake of those disasters, like in Granada?  Or perhaps she yearns for more baked-good based diplomacy?

Anyway, whatever aspect of the Reagan 1980s foreign policy fiasco Michele Bachmann longs for, someone should ask Donald Trump if he wants American troops to die again in Iraq.  Because his “foreign policy adviser” Michele Bachmann does.

Does he?

Day 84: “It would please the czar if you would….”

Trump campaign chairman and/or manager Paul Manafort [politico link]:

“The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”

Never a good look, denying one has relations with foreign powers while managing a presidential campaign.  Especially when there’s a handwritten ledger showing more than twelve million dollars in previously undisclosed cash payments.

But now that he’s denied it, what else can we do?  It’s not as if Paul Manafort still works for Putin’s man in Ukraine, or his employment there overlapped with his employment with Trump.  Oh, wait:

His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

This was all predicted back in April, by the way:

Manafort has offered his services to not one but two presidents driven from power through popular revolution — Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. He has lobbied for Saudi Arabia, a Bahamanian president suspected of narco-trafficking and a former Angolan rebel leader accused of torture.

For this work, Manafort has been well-compensated. He told a congressional oversight panel in 1989 that his firm normally accepted only clients who would pay at least $250,000 a year as a retainer.

Spy Magazine reported that his firm received $600,000 one year as compensation for his work for Angolan rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. The Daily Beast reported that Manafort’s work for the Saudis netted him $250,000 for six months of work in 1984. A Justice Department form filed in 2008 from a subcontractor to Manafort’s firm said the PR work alone on behalf of Ukraine’s government was paid at $35,000 a month.

In 2013, Manafort surfaced in a French influence-peddling scandal involving Edouard Balladur, who was prime minister in the mid-1990s. Manafort acknowledged in a Virginia court that he was paid by an adviser to the Saudi royal court more than $200,000 for advice he provided on security issues. That adviser in turn funneled the profits of an arms sale back into Balladur’s political campaign.

Paul Manafort made the usual, similar disclaimer at that time, back in April:

When asked about his Ukraine lobbying on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he said that Trump was now his only client.

I suppose today’s “unfounded, silly, and nonsensical” is an improvement, somehow?  But have we evidence that, in fact, Manafort’s only client is Donald Trump?

Who else might be?