Rex Tillerson, former Secretary of State gave commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute. During his speech…well he basically laid into his former boss about integrity and ethics. He talked about the importance of Truth to freedom and how accepting “alternative realities” as the truth means America loses it’s value as a nation. It was a startlingly poignant speech. I mean, obviously, he didn’t name drop Donald Trump, but it’s hard to say that wasn’t his primary target when he talks about the leadership of the country. Still, Trump would still probably insist Rex was talking about the Democrats.
Trump’s slogans have always been about America being number one. Make it great again! America First! American’s and their jobs should be our first priority! So it came as a bit of a shock this week when Trump told us that he thought some jobs for a Chinese telecom corporation was pretty important to him too. A Chinese company. As in the country that, according to him is basically the economic devil he has sworn to defeat. Could it be that Trump, realizing his nationalistic approach to politics may have been ill-informed? Maybe, but I would bet money that the half a billion dollars that the Chinese government is investing to fund a project with the Trump brand on it Indonesia had a bit of sway on that decision. It’s important to remember that the company Trump has directed our government to help, was deemed a military and intelligence risk as it’s a company that could track service members because they are the biggest telecom company in China, and was fined $1.2 billion for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Nothing shady there.
So North Korea is starting to get skittish about their negotiations for peace and denuclearization, which I think a lot of people probably saw coming. They cancelled their talk with South Korea, and are threatening to kill the summit with Trump over military maneuvers our military has been doing for decades. So yeah, for those of you who thought that things with North Korea seemed to be going a little TOO smoothly, it looks like you were right. But, as a few news articles have noted, there is speculation as to whether North Korea’s sudden skittish behavior regarding denuclearization may dash Trump’s hopes of getting that Nobel Peace Prize that he feels he so richly deserves. And that loss…that would be the true tragedy….
So, news outlets have been noting that Mike Pence has been taking a number of interesting political maneuvers in recent weeks. There has been some open tension between Pence’s aides and Trump’s and Pence seems to be leveraging his own political movement from inside the White House. He’s even recruited Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as the new leader of his PAC. Multiple reports use the term “Political apparatus” in reference to what Pence is trying to do, and the idea of him being a shadow candidate in the 2020 election seems to be the primary assumption in media speculation. But the weird thing is that with this White House, this administration, none of this seems shocking or out of the blue. Duplicity and cynicism have become far too normal for comfort.
Friday really should have been a slam dunk day for Trump and co. He got to welcome home 3 freed prisoners from North Korea, and for even the most disliked of Presidents, and event like that is a banner day. You shake some hands, say welcome home, and the evening’s headline is at the very least positive, if not glowing. But Trump’s people have to defy expectation. They can’t have a normal day. So instead, his staff has to leak that a random staffer at the White House was being glib about the health of John McCain. Again, we are reminded that Trump hires the best people.
I feel like Rudy Giuliani has really completed the sitcom feel of the White House. He’s the Barney Fife to Trump’s Andy Griffith, the Kramer to his Seinfeld. He goes on TV and says something dumb or regrettable Trump has an “Oh Rudy!” Moment, and the nation has a good laugh as we all continue watching him steer us toward Armageddon. The thing of it is, Michael Avenatti seems to be getting ammunition out of Giuliani’s interviews, and I think Giuliani kind of knows it. Avenatti squarely said that he’d love to have a conversation with Giuliani, on whatever network he chooses, under fair conditions for both parties. Giuliani though was having none of it. He called Avenatti a pimp and said that he didn’t involve himself with pimps! Considering his stance on paying people off on behalf of clients, I don’t know if I believe him.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Rudy Giuliani said that Trump would have the executive privilege of not having to comply with a subpoena. He argued that it was his right as the President. It was pointed out that someone rather prominent disagrees with him on a pretty fundamental level: Himself exactly 20 years ago, when he argued that Bill Clinton shouldn’t get special treatment because he’s the President. He should have to go through the motions of a subpoena like any other citizen of this great country. Rudy seems to be suffering from the same problem that Trump can’t get away from: The Internet has a VERY long memory, and loves to smell out the garbage.
I get the feeling this whole “First Lady” thing is not what Melania Trump was hoping her life was going to be like. I imagine the obligations that go with the role are just more than she ever wanted or asked for in a marriage to Donald Trump. Presidential partners are expected to take up causes and be proactive in a wide variety of campaigns. And Melania doesn’t seem to want to deal with all of that. She’s not a terribly gifted public speaker, and when her first speech as First Lady was written, she was caught off guard that segments of it seemed to be plagiarized from her predecessor. And her pet cause against Cyber-Bullying has been kind of a false start since it’s inception, mostly because her husband is arguably one of the internet’s biggest cyber-trolls. And now her campaign has put out a new booklet about cyber-bullying, ostensibly written and crafted by her, but upon further inspection, other than an introductory paragraph, it’s basically word for word, graphic for graphic the same thing the FTC released in 2014. The lady just can’t seem to catch a break.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump’s legal team is saying one of the key reasons why Trump may not be able to give an interview to Mueller is because Trump simply doesn’t have the free time to give! After all, the day in the life of a POTUS is highly regimented and scheduled. Down to the minute! I mean, he has to keep his mornings wide open so he can watch Fox and Friends, and maybe call them and have a friendly chat. The truth is that if even half the reports we’ve heard regarding the day to day within the White House, the President shouldn’t find himself too hard pressed to find a few minutes to give an interview without giving up on some meeting that will determine the fate of the world.
Another Senate race has been getting a lot of attention recently. The race out of West Virginia has been quite contentious because of a GOP candidate named Don Blankenship, a coal baron with a sketchy past. Even if his past as arguably one of sleaziest employers in American history wasn’t enough, his adverts and statements have been courting a fair amount of controversy, which is putting a delicate spin on it. Even Donald Trump is, unequivocally denouncing Blankenship, and Trump couldn’t even bring himself to do that for Roy Moore, and that guy was accused of sexually assaulting a number of teenage girls. Despite Trump’s attacks on him, Blankenship is surging ahead in the Republican primaries, ironically, using a number of Trump-like tactics, like embracing conspiracy theories and engaging in mudslinging with colorful nicknames of people he doesn’t like. And considering his ties to the coal industry, an industry that Trump is fighting tooth and nail to save, something about this guy is bad enough for even Trump to want to pull out the rug from under him.