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More Scenes from the Kakistocracy

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Paul already pointed our attention to the full transcript of Trump’s interview with the Wall Street Journal. Like pretty much all of Trump’s long-form interviews, it’s truly terrifying. Once again, Trump shows a complete lack of understanding of policy. Jordan Weissman flags a particularly head-desk moment.

So I’ll call, like, major—major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say—they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.

As Weissman explains, Trump seems to have confused talk of why well-developed economies can’t sustain growth at 7-8 percent with the size of a country’s economy population [typographical error fixed].

He apparently thought that when whoever he was listening to said “large,” they were talking about population. Therefore, in his mind, if China grows at nearly 7 percent per year with its 1.4 billion people, the U.S. should be able to do it too.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s Trump (hat tip: Jonathan Swann) on decertifying Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):

WSJ: You mentioned the Iran deal, but it’s been certified as in compliance twice now. It comes up again in September. Would you – is there going to come a point where you just –

TRUMP: Well, we’re doing major studies. Oh, I would be very surprised if they will be – look, we’ve been extremely nice to them. We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant, OK? We’ve given them the benefit of every doubt. But we’re doing very detailed studies. And personally, I have great respect for my people. If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.

WSJ: Do you expect them to be declared noncompliant the next time?

TRUMP: Personally, I do. I do.

WSJ: In September?

TRUMP: I think they’ll be noncompliant. I think they’re taking advantage of this country. They’ve taken advantage of a president, named Barack Obama, who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. And I do not expect that they will be compliant.

WSJ: Will you overrule your staff on that, if they come back with a recommendation –

TRUMP: Oh, sure. Sure. Look, I have a lot of respect for Rex and his people, good relationship. It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply. And so we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll talk about this subject in 90 days. But, yeah, I would be – I would be surprised if they were in compliance.

Iran is, in any significant way, in compliance with the JCPOA. Full stop. Iran might, at some future date, materially breach the agreement. But that’s not the case now. Moreover, none of the other members of the P5+1+EU will view whatever excuse the Trump administration comes up with as credible basis for decertifying Iran.

The “major studies” Trump may reference a group within the NSC specifically tasked to come up with rationales for declaring Iran in noncompliance.

“The president assigned White House staffers with the task of preparing for the possibility of decertification for the 90-day review period that ends in October — a task he had previously given to Secretary Tillerson and the State Department,” a source close to the White House told Foreign Policy.

The agreement, negotiated between Iran and world powers, placed strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting an array of economic sanctions.

On Tuesday, Trump relayed this new assignment to a group of White House staffers now tasked with making sure there will not be a repeat at the next 90-day review. “This is the president telling the White House that he wants to be in a place to decertify 90 days from now and it’s their job to put him there,” the source said.

It’s possible, I suppose, that this is a good faith effort to “Red Team” the findings of experts in the United States government—and, for that matter, the international community—but it seems rather unlikely. The interview is eerily reminiscent of Trump’s admission that he had decided to fire Comey, and was just looking for his subordinates to supply a pretext. Given the current facts on the ground, it’s hard to believe that any such ‘study’ will produce a compelling justification. Most important: none of our partners will believe it. The fact that Trump is telegraphing his intentions so clearly only makes things worse.

A decision to decertify Iranian compliance under these conditions is, to say the least, extremely risky. It would further shred American credibility—including with key allies—when it comes to abiding by agreements. It would leave the United States internationally isolated. And it would likely increase the risk of Iranian nuclear proliferation.

The weird mixture of self-aggrandizement and disparagement of Obama as specifically someone “who didn’t know what the hell he was doing” serves as a reminder that Trump embodies the Dunning-Kruger Effect. First, his consistent inability to understand that international bargains aren’t just a matter of will, but of leverage. Second, his confidence that his ill-informed impressions reflect deep, considered knowledge. His priors are simply immune to updating. If you don’t like the information, you get new information.

There are plenty of smart people who don’t like the Iran deal. There are even ways to unravel the JCPOA that might actually not leave the United States in such a poor position. I don’t endorse these, but Trump’s attitude—and his willingness to make it obvious to everyone—provides yet another piece in a mountain-high pile of evidence that he’s simply unfit for the job. More than unfit, a danger to US national security.

But at least he’s using the platform of the presidency to push the Trump brand, so that’s all good. From the signing statement on the sanctions bill:

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

This timeline stinks. I want out.

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  • Pseudonym

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergence_(economics) is a decent primer on the whole “big economy” thing

  • Murc

    This specifically doesn’t seem confined to Trump, sadly. I know a number of otherwise intelligent people who figure that Iran must be violating the agreement, and if we’ve no proof of that, it just means they’re really, really good at hiding it.

    Some of it is racism (perfidious Muslims) some of it is pure projection (I’d secretly violate such an agreement if I could, so the Iranians must be as well) and some of it is just blind, blithering idiocy combined with highly motivated reasoning.

    • Yestobesure

      Also “I said Obama was wrong to negotiate this deal at the time, therefore it can’t be working now!”

      • Bri2k

        You hit the nail right on the head. There’s no thought at all behind this beyond trying to dismantle Obama’s legacy out of pure spite.

        • Yestobesure

          Spite, and saving face on earlier bullshit criticisms.

    • aab84

      Isn’t a lot of it “they took 52 Americans hostage in 1979?” There’s lots of discussion about how it’s an effort to roll back Obama achievements, and I’m sure that’s a part, but I’d guess that for a lot of people who were alive at the time, that will always be the subtext.

      • DAS

        I would think, though, that after the all-too-convenient release of those hostages right when St. Ronnie was inaugurated (and the subsequent revelations of Iran/Contra), no-one would trust the GOP until they cleaned house, which they never did Iran-wise.

        • aab84

          Yeah, to be clear, I’m not defending the mindset or anything. I just suspect it’s a more important one for certain groups of voters than is typically discussed.

          • DAS

            I understand your point. That IS the mindset of certain voters. I just can’t believe how stupid it is, considering that those voters don’t punish the GOP for their collusion with Iran.

        • BeatnikBob

          Why, yes, the 1980 Presidential election was stolen by Poppy Bush dealing with the despicable Iranians! Why do you ask?

          We’ve finally been inured to these crimes. Stolen elections? It’s the only way these criminals can win, and they know it damn well. 2000…2004…2016…1968…1876…

      • tsam100

        That and the ubiquitous images of US flags burning and chants of “Death to the Great Satan” sort of business. That’s become the default image of all Iranians, which is fucking laughable. Same thing with Russians being bloodthirsty commie savages that want to sneak in and slit your throat while you sleep…

        When our government wants you to hate someone, they do a bang up job of making it happen.

      • Michael

        I guess it could be, but I doubt it. Germans killed a lot more Americans – something we see on TV all the time – but we don’t reflexively hate Germany (anymore…). I do find the pundit class and much of Washington’s hatred of Iran odd. I think it had to do with a) the Israel lobby putting them forward as an existential threat and b) the way Iran funded Shia militias that helped destabilize Iraq. But I really don’t know.

    • Pseudonym

      But you can't be racist against Aryans.

    • so-in-so

      Exact same excuses used to justify the internment of Japanese Americans (and the theft of their property). “They have caused any sabotage yet? They’re MORE dangerous, they are waiting for a key time, coordinating…”.

      • ScottK

        They were saying the same thing about Obama and guns during the last year of his presidency. That he hadn’t seized any guns yet just showed that he was gearing up for some real gun-grabbing before leaving office.

        • so-in-so

          They can’t even be stupid in an original way…

    • I’m old enough to remember when Saddam was doing such a masterful job of hiding those WMDs.

      • Bri2k

        Well, in Saddam’s defense, they still haven’t found them.

        • Lurking Canadian

          I thought the standard wingnut line was that he’d just moved them to Syria.

    • CP

      A few years ago, I had a relative (not a Republican, though an Israel hard-liner), since he knew I was an IR major and specialized in Middle Eastern studies, just casually ask me why we hadn’t bombed Iran yet.

      It was an incredibly jarring moment, in how it illustrated just how much even ordinary people view international relations these days as a live-action Call of Duty video game. What’s that, there’s a country over there that I’ve been hearing a lot of bad things about? Well, bomb it, or something. That’s what we usually do. I’m sure it’ll all work out.

      • Murc

        I’ll be honest. I, too, wonder why we haven’t bombed Iran yet.

        I figured Trump would start a war with SOMEONE in the first six months.

        • Rob in CT

          Because the warmonger Hillary was stopped, obviously!

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          The press?

      • david spikes

        And they are encouraged by The Saint of Tempe whose solution to every Mideast problem is to bomb, bomb, bomb, somebody.
        And jeez if it’s John McCain-I mean I’ve heard he knows things. Oh, by the way, did you know he was a POW?

      • Yup. I’ve gotten into arguments with people who have solutions to the past present and future. Bombs away. And stop caring about innocents so much. I’ve mentioned tidy mindedness and this is certainly a part of that (just get rid of the problem sorta thinking). But there’s also the idea that since Germany and Japan turned out so well, we should give similar treatment to all problematic nations–purification through fire.. A Dresden a day keeps the baddies away, or something like that.

    • Rob in CT

      It is KNOWN on the Right that the perfidious Persians cannot be trusted and will cheat. This is not up for discussion. It simply is. I know this, because my mother who listens to wingers, “knows” this sort of thing.

      • Yestobesure

        “perfidious persians” as band name?

      • so-in-so

        Not to be confused with perfidious Albion, one hopes.
        Nobody close to the Dumpenfuerer would know the meaning or pronunciation of perfidious. Admitting to know it would be grounds for firing.

      • wjts

        Their legacy of perfidy goes back at least as far as Harpagos, who hid Cyrus from Astyages.

      • tsam100

        I seen 300. Thems bad dudes.

    • Llywelyn Jones

      I seem to recall a country, not too long ago, that *everyone knew* had weapons of mass destruction, but in the end, they turned out not to have any at all. The fog of time has made me forget what it is … oh well, it’s probably not important.

    • tsam100

      They were all told that we just gave them billions of dollars and no incentive to comply, when the sanctions easements were a fucking huge incentive to comply. Most people still fall for the Cold War bullshit. We didn’t like them before, and there’s a GOOD REASON. There are reasons to dislike Iran, but the overblown rhetoric is fucking dumb.

  • DJ

    An example of his promoting the Trump brand, from this very interview,

    I know companies that have left. They go to Ireland, they go to other – I own a lot of property in Ireland.

  • Oblios_Cap

    The Iran thing is such crap. I’ve been hearing that they are 5 years away from a nuke for the last 30 years. Just have their grand cleric, King Saud, and Bibi each appoint a champion and whoever wins the pissing contest can have the region.

  • McAllen

    As always, half the story here is not Trump but the people and institutions that enable him. How can a newspaper conduct an interview with the President of the United States, realize what a poor mind it shows he has, and decide its duty is to bury it? When are we going to stop hiding and apologizing for Trump’s stupidity, and treat him as he deserves to be treated?

    • “If I were to create a list of questions to ask potential managers of my money, one of them would be: “Do you read the WSJ OpEds?” If the answer were yes, I would not walk but run in the opposite direction.” – Barry Ritholtz

      • HugeEuge

        The WSJ traditionally (I can’t say now since I stopped even casually reading it post Murdoch) was like four different newspapers: reasonably fair news reporting with excellent features; good book reviews and life style type things (ignoring Dorothy Rabinowitz’s diatribes); hideously dishonest editorials (hello Rainbow Warrior); and moronic op-eds (odes to Mena Airport, “thwacking,” Alexander Cockburn as a caricature leftist and decades past the sell-by date columns from Irving Kristol and Arthur Schlesinger).

        • Bitter Scribe

          The dumbest WSJ op-ed I ever read–dumber even than “Lucky Duckies,” IMO–was one that ran during Dubya’s first term. The death toll from the Iraq insurgency was mounting, and Ann Coulter was getting irritated by the media noting the 1,000th death (“Why is this different from the 999th death?”).

          Anyway, some guy I’d never heard of and whose name I’ve long forgotten argued that today’s Americans were so affected by the deaths of their loved ones because they were unused to death. In the good old days, real Americans had lots of kids because they knew some of them would die, and they just buried the brats and soldiered on. Today’s soft, weak populace excessively mourns their offspring instead of viewing them as born cannon fodder.

          Sheesh.

    • sigaba

      It reminds me of stories of the German press systematically dumping interviews with Kaiser Wilhelm because he just couldn’t stop talking about how the Chinese were going to rule the Earth and how a good war on France was waaaaay overdue.

    • The Great God Pan

      I don’t even understand why the WSJ bothered to try and suppress the interview. He already reveals himself as a blithering idiot every time he opens his mouth; it’s not like he was off his meds for this one interview. It was just his usual vague, circuitous, uninformed rambling. Were they expecting him to be lucid and witty, with a strong grasp of the facts? I don’t get it.

      • so-in-so

        Maybe they expected something they could clean-up enough to look good. Can’t be Debby Downer to the money people if you are the WSJ!

    • By ‘we’ I’m assuming you’re referring to the dimwits and trolls that make up his base? Because just about everyone else is pointing out his stupidity every chance they get.

      • McAllen

        I mean as a society. I’m thinking here too of his recent speeches to the Boy Scouts and police. I understand that if the President wants to give a speech to your organization that’s usually a big honor, but given the last two organizations he gave speeches to had to apologize, maybe we stop inviting him to give speeches? Maybe we don’t give Trump the respect that’s usually a baseline for even the worst presidents, because he’s proved how far he is from deserving it.

        • NonyNony

          Can’t do that – that would be “partisan”.

          Let’s take the Boy Scout one as an example. They’re an ostensibly non-partisan organization who always invites the President to speak at things like this. So if they choose not to invite a President – like if they had chosen not to invite Obama – that carries real political overtones.

          Even if they say “we can’t invite Mr. Trump to speak because we can’t be assured that he will stick to the non-partisan values of our organization” that’s making a political decision even though it looks non-partisan. And since a whole lot of Boy Scouts (and their adult leaders from the sound of things) cheered the man on during his speech, you can see what the reaction might be to pre-emptively not inviting him to something that they had invited Obama for previously.

          So they were stuck. I actually don’t fault the BSA for inviting him in a pro-forma way they way they’ve done for so many other presidents. I DO fault the BSA for having adult leaders there cheering for him during his ugly speech and not telling the kids to shut up. And of course as always most of the fault falls on Donald Trump himself for being a poor excuse for a human being.

          • stepped pyramids

            It’s not even a partisan issue, though. He made a lengthy allusion to a millionaire’s fuck boat in a speech to a bunch of children. That would be unacceptable even if he hadn’t also done a bunch of political rambling.

          • Deborah Bender

            I think I heard someone on MSNBC say that before the speech, someone from the Boy Scouts had reminded Trump that they wanted a speech without politics in it, and that Trump said he would abide by that.

            If true, that shows that BSA were nervous about what Trump would do. I agree with NonyNony that since they had been issuing invitations to every President since 1937, not inviting Trump would be seen as a political statement and I have no doubt that RW media would have attacked the Scouts for the snub, and many adult supporters of the organization would have been displeased. When Trump accepted the invitation and agreed to the protocol, they were stuck.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Because the WSJ’s owner and op-ed writers are salivating for upper bracket income tax cuts, a repeal of the estate tax, reduction in corporate and investment & cap gains taxes, and really what the f*ck else matters to them?

    • Kubricks_Rube

      Maybe they tried buried it out of shame? I mean, why does the reporter not push back on anything? If real time fact checking is too much to ask, can we at least get the occasional “Can you elaborate?” or “How so?” or “Do you have an example?”

      • so-in-so

        Like the rest, the reporter doesn’t want to stand there while Dump mutely pretends to shuffle papers on his desk, waiting for the reporter to leave (what happened earlier to a reporter who tried to follow up on something).

  • AMK

    The Iran deal is one of those “any Republican” issues. President Jeb or Marco or Cruz would be doing the same thing as long as Likudniks keep writing some of the Party’s biggest checks.

    • sigaba

      To be fair to President Marco, he probably wouldn’t be giving rambling interviews about how he’s got teams of guys working to fraudulently breach the agreement and even if they fail he’s already decided.

      • John Griffone

        Donald Trump: not on the payroll of hardliner mullahs…

        Assumes facts not in evidence

      • DAS

        I’ve long wondered who in the GOP is associated with hardline elements in Iran (which association began with Iran/Contra): because it’s always funny how all the hardline GOoP talk ostensibly against Iran’s theocracy manages to primarily strengthen the hands of Iranian hardliners and undermine any reform efforts there.

  • DAS

    For some people an action that “would further shred American credibility” is a feature not a bug as it gets America out of the way, allowing other countries (e.g. Russia) to fill the gap left by America. For others an action that “would leave the United States internationally isolated” is a feature not a bug: because their view of the international community is so dim (in some cases with good reason: the international community is very quick to whine and complain when some people’s rights are being violated but has ignored the rights of other groups for as long as there has been an international community), anything which pisses off the international community must be a good thing.

    • so-in-so

      Those people are really, deeply, stupid.

  • Murc

    Dan, you’ve been posting a lot more lately, and this is a trend I hope continues.

    • sibusisodan

      Enthusiastically seconded.

      • dnexon

        Thanks. I’m climbing out of an editorial hole, and I’m outraged, so….

  • Pseudonym

    Did anyone else misread the title as “Kekistocracy”?

    • Bri2k

      At first glance, I’d have sworn it said “Kentuckyocracy”. Probably a symptom of too much Mitch McConnell in the news lately.

  • I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected.

    You were elected by dimwits and trolls who fancy you to be their King, you fucking idiot.

    If I were Iran and I knew that Trump was planning to decertify our compliance no matter what, then I would be tempted to just say fuck it then. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll stay in compliance just to further isolate our troll-in-chief.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the fed would put on the brakes long before we got to 9% growth.

    • Thom

      “And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the fed would put on the brakes long before we got to 9% growth.”

      This just proves we need to abolish the Fed, right?

      • BigHank53

        Yeah, I know how to make the economy grow by 9%, too: 15% inflation. Done!

        • addicted4444

          Talking about GDP growth without talking about inflation is Macro 101 failing level.

          • Robespierre

            Is there anyone who talks of gdp growth in nominal terms, especially when making comparisons?

            Nevermind; he didn’t even mention growth, for that matter. It’s all just sounds from his mouth, and we should’ttry topretend they make sense, even to him

            • Yestobesure

              Just look at his comments about crime, he has a really tough time distinguishing rates of change and levels.

        • JKTH

          I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he uses nominal GDP growth to show how fast we’re growing.

        • That would do it.

        • Yestobesure

          Bank of Japan would say it ain’t that easy.

    • JMP

      It worked out great when Bush decided he didn’t like the deal Clinton had made where North Korea agreed not to develop nuclear weapons because they were bad guys and unilaterally decided to violate it, and would be an awesome idea for an even more simple-minded moron President to repeat that history with Iran.

    • david spikes

      This goes to the idea that the US will decertify and everyone else will just go along
      Does anyone here believe that 90 days from now the other signatories of the Iran deal will care about what Donald Trump-a liar, a cheat, and a thief-thinks about anything?

    • Downpup E

      As appalling as the signing statement is, there are precedents : Scalia dissents from his last few years.
      The newish custom of ignoring decay in obeying the basic formalities is not showing good results.

  • Crusty

    I’m still taken aback by the idea that he calls leaders of other countries and asks them how many people they have?

    To some extent, Trump has never fully grasped the power of the presidency and the tools available to him. In a normal administration, if the potus wanted to know the population of Malaysia, he could have someone from the state department come over and brief him on Malaysia. Trump is still sticking with asking ivanka to check Wikipedia.

    Same for the intelligence agencies. He doesn’t have to rely on Fox News to find out what’s going on in the world. I realize that some of that is by design, but still.

    There seems to be no bottom to how shockingly stupid this guy is.

    • The Great God Pan

      I suspect he invented the phone calls because he thinks it’s what leaders do and that people will be impressed. It’s like a grade-school kids fantasy of what presidents do.

      In reality I suspect he “just misses” anyone he tries to call because they take very long lunches at strange times of day.

      • Crusty

        I’m not sure which is worse- these conversations or the fact that he invents them.

      • Donalbain

        There’s an intern whose job it is to be all the presidents and prime ministers whenever Trump wants to call them up.

      • Domino

        Read somewhere that described him as “an 8th grader who is attempting to give a book report on a book he clearly did not read”. It’s why he uses the same words about healthcare “tremendous” “really, really great” for 2 years now. Hell, at least Sarah Palin could learn lines to use in stump speeches and debates. He’s too lazy to do even that!

        This will all end poorly for us all at some point, because a disaster will occur, and Trump and co. are completely incompetent and unprepared, so by default they will make the situation worse, which will prompt him to fire his Communications Director because of course the only thing that’s wrong with you all is your PR.

        F*ck me.

        • Bizarro Mike

          The situation with Iran is headed towards a self-created crisis. Who knows how bad that will turn out.

      • stepped pyramids

        At this point I think it’s incontrovertible that Trump will completely make up phone calls and similar events in order to make himself look better. What’s amazing is that he does it even when the person he claims to have talked to is able and willing to contradict him.

        In a lot of ways, his claim that the president of the Boy Scouts had called him to thank him for “the greatest speech” is the most stunning thing I’ve ever heard him say — it’s so obviously untrue, and the person he’s saying it about had already said the opposite publicly, and there’s no reason for the BSA president to suck it up and pretend Trump wasn’t lying.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I think it’s a mix of feeling stupid around actual experts in ways he doesn’t want to admit, and feeling paranoid around actual experts because he doesn’t know who to trust. So he, as you were saying, CLEARLY farms out the work of distilling information so that he can use it, and relies on Jared-and-Ivanka on the one hand and Fox News anchors on the other. It’s funny: you know that someone like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would LOVE having a welter of information as close to the source as possible, so they could interpret it themselves. For people like that, that’s a perk of being president! Trump, underneath it all, knows he can’t handle that. I really wonder about how strong his reading/listening comprehension has ever been. I think he has a very profound learning disability.

      • Deborah Bender

        I have been convinced about the reading disability since the campaign. It would account for his wooden delivery of prepared speeches and his propensity for shifting into ad libs after the first couple of paragraphs. People have offered various explanations for that habit; I think the simplest is that Trump finds reading to be hard work and he’s afraid of making a mistake, so he doesn’t read out loud in public any more than he has to. Were I responsible for writing Trump’s speeches, I would just load the Teleprompter with short phrases hitting various points, because that’s what Trump will wind up doing anyway on his better days.

        A reading disability like dyslexia would also account for Trump’s aversion to reading for information.

        I defer to others on detecting learning disabilities. Some people who have reviewed Trump’s media appearances from twenty years ago say he was more coherent then. On that basis, I’m leaning more to the theory that our President is suffering from dementia.

        Perhaps in a few months the opposition may have to shift from discrediting him and his advisors to demanding that qualified professionals administer some cognitive tests to determine whether Trump is capable of discharging the duties of his office. It’s too early to do that. The Democratic leadership should be prepared with a list of the pertinent tests and the people qualified to examine Trump, and wait until Trump behaves on camera in a way that causes even GOP politicians to be taken aback (hoping it isn’t something that directly causes an international crisis). This wouldn’t necessarily need to be a formal public demand. There could be a senatorial cabal behind closed doors, and the test results wouldn’t necessarily have to be made public as long as some action was taken to get his resignation.

      • SatanicPanic

        OMG if I were president the first three months no one would see me because I’d be down a rabbit hole of answering all the weird questions that would pop into my head when given access to all that info. Would be worse than when you spend hours clicking links on wikipedia. I’d only emerge to call up experts to pester them to explain it to me.

  • twbb

    I really wish that Dems in the public eye would snipe more at Trump’s personal incompetence, instead of keeping the focus on his immorality (a tactic which spectacularly failed in the election).

    • aab84

      His approval is at like 37 percent, and he just hit or tied record lows in Rasmussen, Gallup, and Qpac. The redeemable portions of America already seem to have figured it out just fine. He’s underwater with every group except Republicans (he’s even underwater among white men in Qpac).

      Side note: this is like the 4th time Trump has hit record lows days after health care was in the news. I’m honestly not sure the GOP realizes how lucky it is that it didn’t pass Trumpcare.

      • twbb

        Attacking his competence now might peel off a few more voters when something goes south and he mishandles it. It also may help push back against the inevitable amnesia the GOP will exhibit as they insist for the next few decades that Trump wasn’t really that bad, and the Democrats tried to destroy America, and it’s all the media’s fault anyway.

      • njorl

        “I’m honestly not sure the GOP realizes how lucky it is that it didn’t pass Trumpcare.”
        As a party, they would gladly trade a brief stint as an obstructionist minority for the massive amounts of money they could have put into the pockets of the rich.

      • Downpup E
    • stepped pyramids

      This doesn’t square with what I’ve been seeing recently. I’ve seen plenty of Dems criticizing Trump’s incompetence (here’s Schumer doing it recently). I don’t recall much talk about his immorality since he became President. Do you have some examples?

      • twbb

        That’s great coming from Schumer; now he should repeat it again and again, and tell the rest of the Dems to repeat it again and again.

        By immorality I don’t mean on a personal level, but in terms of policies, e.g. Trumpcare hurting people, his foreign policy abetting tyrants, etc.. That is where I see most of the criticism.

    • DAS

      GOoPs, and lets face it — Trump supporters are GOoPs, assume ALL politicians are, at some level, incompetent, so attacking Trump for being incompetent won’t hurt him with his supporters. The bad assumption made by the Democrats in 2016 was that GOoPs care about morality as much as they claim to care about it.

  • Crusty

    Trump doesn’t understand how a pretext works. This Iran thing sounds like the same deal as the rosenstein memo on firing comey. He thinks he’s so damn clever, he can’t wait to share it with the world- I’m gonna have a phony report prepared and do whatever I want, isn’t that brilliant?

    • Kubricks_Rube

      Yet the reporter doesn’t ask, “In what way is Iran failing to comply? Why has your state department said they are in compliance? Are they lying? Are you lying?”

      • david spikes

        Iran is failing to comply because Obama makes bad deals.

        • Bri2k

          Thanks, Obama!

        • Kubricks_Rube

          As far as I can tell that is what he means. That complying with the letter of a bad deal does not mean complying with the spirit of what the deal was supposed to accomplish. But that still means he’s admitting to planning to lie later about their compliance so as to break the deal himself.

          • tsam100

            Has no one told him that they can’t just turn white in a year or two? You have to give them shit weather for 100,000 years or so.

    • david spikes

      And unfortunately there are always ambitious time servers like Rosenstein who will tell power exactly what it wants to hear. Latest from Rosie-it would be inappropriate for him to comment on Trump’s police should get tough remarks.
      Rosie obviously thinks Sessions won’t last and then his shameless obsequiousness will pay off.

  • JMP

    “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.”

    No you didn’t. You inherited a company from daddy, and proceeded to run it into the ground; it went bankrupt multiple times and was completely insolvent until you turned it into a money laundering front for the Russian mafia and other international organized crime fronts.

    • Rob in CT

      All true, but here’s the thing. Let’s say he had actually built such a company. That signing statement would be an abomination anyway. That’s grade-A Bannoning (autofellatio) there.

  • Bleeding Heart of Texas

    When Trump says “Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well.” you know he said it in a mock accent.

    • david spikes

      Something we’re going to hear a lot-“The President was joking-can’t you guys take a joke-that’s your problem, no sense of humor,”

      • “I’m not the worst President ever, the whole running for POTUS thing was a joke, I was kidding, you people got punked. Haha!” – excerpt from Trump’s memoir “Ha Ha Suckers!” to be released Christmas 2021

  • MariedeGournay

    Holy Christ, listening is bad, but reading his words gives me a headache behind my eyes.

    • Captain_Subtext

      Has anyone done an analysis to determine if his vocabulary has actually shrunk? He seems, like W, to be progressively less able to express himself as he goes on.

      We can’t use any of “The Apprentice” material because that’s all been edited.

      • Deborah Bender

        Any objective assessments of Trump’s cognitive abilities that can be done without his cooperation should be done, and soon.

        Rather than the Goldwater delegation to Nixon, we may be approaching the point where a Republican delegation needs to make a visit to the Oval Office with a psychologist and a battery of tests for reasoning ability and executive function. They’ll need a whole lot of persuading to get to that point, unless and maybe even if Trump does something on camera that can’t be spun.

      • Drew

        W. had the excuse of having been a drunkass. Trump is like a dry drunk too, except he never had a drinking problem. Sad!

  • HugeEuge

    So, harking back to a question in the comments on the Nexon post “Trump Admin Continues to Prioritize….” would it now be appropriate for USA allies to begin meddling in our politics? More or less motivated by self-preservation.

  • Llywelyn Jones

    It’s extremely dangerous for Trump to be talking about tearing up the Iran agreement just because he feels like it, and without any objective basis for it. It will mean that no country will enter into an agreement with the US because they’ll (correctly) believe it to be illusory. Trump’s mindset about Iran also reflects his general mindset about “loyalty” being a one-way street; i.e., you give my loyalty, and I give you loyalty, but only until I don’t feel like it anymore, and then I’ll turn on you.

    • Crusty

      If I’m the leader of Iran, I’m telling my people to fire up the reactor. Or the centrifuge. Or whatever it is you fire up to make nuclear weapons.

      And if I’m North Korea I clearly see that the US will never offer any real or worthwhile incentive to disarm.

      • mds

        Well, it is a multilateral agreement. The US not keeping up its end would be a massive blow, but the other nations involved might try to mitigate the damage.

        Of course, the US + Israel standing bravely alone against corrupt “anti-semitic” Europe and Iran plays very well with the ruling parties’ voters in both places. Between that and the threat of another murderous war breaking out, it’s win-win.

        • david spikes

          Is there a limit to the regional chaos the Israeli gov’t.feels is to its benefit?

          • DAS

            I wonder how long the Israeli security state will manage to tolerate Netanyahu’s antics …

          • John F

            An actual nuclear exchange leading to fallout over Jerusalem, short of that… apparently not

            • DAS

              The more regional chaos, the more support for Likud.

      • Hondo

        It’s called a flux capacitor. Carrots in, highly enriched uranium out. Incredible piece of machinery. We manufacture those, you know.
        Infowars says that Jared was in the country of Africa as an undercover operative super goodboy spook. On his return, after escaping from the killer rabbit, he submitted a top secret report to daddy saying there were train loads carrot cake being smuggled to Iran to fuel the illegal flux capacitors. Trump may be planning on using this as an excuse to invade Iran in order to find and destroy their stockpile of flux capacitors and carrot cake. Obama, not knowing what the hell he was doing in addition to not liking carrot cake, Did.Nothing.To.Stop.Them.

  • Philip

    It’s a weird time to be a leftist. I’m stuck being *unhappy* about decades of American quasi-imperialist Middle East insanity collapsing, because the nuclear toddler is tearing it down in a way that’s *even more destructive* than the status quo.

    Is 12:47 too early to start drinking?

    • Bri2k

      The sun is always over the yardarm somewhere. Feel free to join me.

    • Hondo

      Only if you’re at work, depending on what you do and if your boss is around.

  • dp

    Bush disengaging from North Korea went so well, it’s easy to see why Trump wants to do the same with Iran.

  • MikeG

    So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people.

    Exactly what countries is Mango Mugabe calling?
    Only three countries in the world have at least 300 million people, the US, China and India — and China and India are over a billion.

    • Veleda_k

      The US of course. He’s calling members of his administration, who pretend to be foreign leaders.

      It would explain a lot.

  • Bitter Scribe

    They’ve taken advantage of a president, named Barack Obama, who didn’t know what the hell he was doing.

    Of all the things that irritate me about this fatmouthed jerk, the way he blithely slings insults at persons who are many times his superior in competence, intelligence, work ethic, knowledge, education, achievements–in every relevant aspect of the presidency–is the worst.

  • Peter Thomson

    The Beltway/Foreign Policy types have never got their heads around the fact that, since Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program, it traded a big nothing for sanctions relief and multilateral recognition of its civil program. So they will make noises about how maybe Trump has a point.
    Iran will make noises about US bad faith, but it never expected the US to live up to the deal anyway. So it will also announce it’s keeping to the deal, but all business will be with Russia and China (and maybe France).

    • DAS

      OTOH, the Saudis and the Likudniks never got their heads around what was actually Netanyahu’s implicit insight (whose significance he didn’t even fully understand): the only reason why so many countries were on board with the sanctions was to stop Iran’s nuclear program, so there was nothing else Iran would have felt any pressure to trade anyway.

      As to your last sentence: all of Iran’s business being with Russia and China is a feature not a bug. Remember who “owns” Trump. France cutting in on the action would be unfortunate, though … so expect the anti-French rhetoric to increase if France tries.

      • Peter Thomson

        Maybe. A lot of countries go along with US sanctions because the US can hand out more grief (via fines, technology embargoes) than its victims. In this case, once the IAEA and the intelligence agencies assessed that Iran did not have a program, the sanctions became a nuisance in engaging on other issues (Iraq, Afghanistan) and anyway were being undercut by China and by Iranian domestic development. So Obama sensibly traded public confirmation that Iran would not seek a weapon for sanctions relief, probably also estimating that Europe would not support continuance.

        As with much else, Trump is rapidly undermining the US’ ability to leverage sanctions – exercises in brute force of the kind he prefers tend to generate first irritation and then counter-action.

  • kaydenpat

    The jealousy of President Obama is strong,

  • bw

    As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

    If it’s so important to you to not do things that way, then why didn’t you make a deal with Congress to prevent it, oh master dealmaker?

  • A simple thought experiment: If every business was like the Trump Organization, what shape would the economy be in?

    • AngryWarthogBreath

      Is “on fire” a shape?

  • cpinva

    “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars.”

    no, he hasn’t. his company is in debt up to its eyeballs. he squandered his $20m inheritance and lives on borrowed money.

    “That is a big part of the reason I was elected.”

    no, a big part of the reason you were elected, is because of the rube’s perception of you, from tv and your self-bloviating promotion of yourself. also too, because you told them it was ok to hate all those “others” they’ve been hating since forever. murderers have cited you in their defense.

    “As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

    fortunately for the rest of us, Congress still has to ratify those “better deals”. of course, given your deal making history, i expect you to be fleeced by any halfway ept foreign gov’t. not paying vendors really doesn’t count as deal making. really, it doesn’t.

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