Lazy Saturday Reads: G20 Disaster

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday Trump finally got to meet with the big boss, the man who put him in the White House. As we expected, he was thrilled and overwhelmed with joy when the big moment finally came.

But what does Putin really think of Trump? His facial expression in this photo is revealing.

From what I can tell, Trump brought up the Russian interference in our election by indicating that “the American people” (according to Tillerson) are concerned about it, not that Trump himself cares a whit. Then when Putin denied any involvement, Trump basically said okay, let’s just pretend it never happened and make sure Putin gets everything he’s been wishing for.

A couple of reactions, the first from a foreign policy and Russia expert and the second from an ultra-conservative journalist.

Molly McKew at Politico: Trump Handed Putin a Stunning Victory. “From his speech in Poland to his two-hour summit in Hamburg, the president seemed determined to promote Russia’s dark and illiberal view of the world.”

President Donald Trump needed to accomplish two things this week during his visits to Poland and the G-20 Summit in Hamburg. First, he needed to reassure America’s allies that he was committed to collective defense and the core set of values and principles that bind us together. Second, he needed to demonstrate that he understands that the greatest threat to that alliance, those values, and our security is the Kremlin.

Trump delivered neither of these. In very concrete terms, through speech and action, the president signaled a willingness to align the United States with Vladimir Putin’s worldview, and took steps to advance this realignment. He endorsed, nearly in its totality, the narrative the Russian leader has worked so meticulously to construct.

The readout of Trump’s lengthy meeting with Putin included several key points. First, the United States will “move on” from election hacking issues with no accountability or consequences for Russia; in fact, the U.S. will form a “framework” with Russia to cooperate on cybersecurity issues, evaluating weaknesses and assessing potential responses jointly. Second, the two presidents agreed not to meddle in “each other’s” domestic affairs—equating American activities to promote democracy with Russian aggression aimed at undermining it, in an incalculable PR victory for the Kremlin. Third, the announced, limited cease-fire in Syria will be a new basis for cooperation between the U.S. and Russia; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went so far as to say that the Russian approach in Syria—yielding mass civilian casualties, catastrophic displacement, untold destruction and erased borders—may be “more right” than that of the United States.

Each of these points represents a significant victory for Putin. Each of them will weaken U.S. tools for defending its interests and security from the country that defines itself as America’s “primary adversary.” Trump has ceded the battle space—physical, virtual, moral—to the Kremlin. And the president is going to tell us this is a “win.”

Trump in Poland

About Trump’s awful speech in Poland McKew writes:

Trump’s unusual speech in Warsaw earlier in the week foreshadowed this catastrophic outcome, despite some analysts’ wishful thinking to the contrary. The initial reaction to the speech was far more positive than to his previous attempt at NATO. After all, the president seemed to challenge Russia, acknowledge the importance of the alliance’s commitment to mutual defense, and mount a defense of Western democracies and values.

But this assessment missed the forest for the trees—and the fact that its intended audience was Russia, not Europe. In reality, Trump attacked NATO and the EU, the twin pillars of the post-World War II transatlantic architecture, again demonstrating he has no interest in being the leader of the free world, but rather its critic in chief.

Then there’s this piece from The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes: Trump Caves to Putin. What  president Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin tells us about the future of Russian-American affairs.

If Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s readout of Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin is a preview of the Trump administration’s approach to Russia, it’s going to be a rough three and a half years. In a diplomatic depantsing that will have repercussions far beyond Russia, Tillerson’s comments did more to further Russia’s interests than Russian propaganda outlets could have possibly hoped to accomplish themselves.

Tillerson told reporters that Trump and Putin “acknowledged the challenges of cyber threats and interference in the democratic processes of the United States and other countries.” Well then.

Vladimir Putin acknowledged generic “challenges” of unspecified “cyber threats” related to U.S. elections and those in other countries? Who cares? What Putin wouldn’t acknowledge was far more important: The Russians were the source of the cyber threats.

Tillerson reported that after the two men had a “robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Putin “denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.” Putin’s denials are false, of course, and the offenses are grave. Russia’s election meddling is part of a longer pattern of provocation largely ignored by the Obama administration and now tolerated by Trump. But the president apparently didn’t want to let reality intrude on his desire for better relations (he began his meeting by telling Putin that he was “honored” to meet him) and Tillerson didn’t seem to care. “So, more work to be done on that regard,” Tillerson said, dismissively.

Set aside as yet unproven allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. The available facts are deeply troubling. Russia waged a persistent, hostile campaign against the United States in an effort to affect the outcome of the election – or at least influence perceptions of it. And the current administration doesn’t seem to care.

Let’s face it. Trump is a traitor. This is getting really dangerous for our country and the world. There has to be some way we can get rid of him before he completely hands our government over to Russian oligarchs.

Breaking just now from the Washington Post: Putin says he thinks Trump ‘agreed’ with assurances that Russia did not interfere in U.S. elections.

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on Saturday said that he assured President Trump that Moscow had not interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and that it appeared to him that Trump had agreed with his assurances.

“It seemed to me that he took it into account, and agreed” Putin told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. The Russian president added “you should ask him.

Russia’s foreign minister’s on Friday had said that Trump had “accepted” Putin’s assurances that Moscow did not run a hacking and disinformation campaign to help Trump’s campaign.

Putin Saturday said that Trump “asked many questions” about Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The Russian leader said he had repeated Moscow’s stance that “there was no basis to believe that Russia” interfered in the elections.

“I feel as though my answers satisfied him,” Putin said.

Unbelievable! How can the Republicans continue to go along with this?

“14 words”

But let’s get back to that speech Trump gave in Warsaw. The entire thing was a dog whistle to white supremacists, painting the fight against terrorism as a war of “civilizations.”

The speech on Thursday centered on extended praise for what Trump described as the unique virtues of Western civilization, which he said faced “dire threats to our security and to our way of life.”

Those threats, he said, emanate from the “south or the east” — a thinly veiled reference to the Islamic world — and could “erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said, one of nearly a dozen times that he invoked the idea of “will” during the course of the approximately 40-minute speech.

Trump had expressed similar ethnocentric ideas during his presidential campaign, but had never before described them at such length.

“If we are looking for a Trump doctrine, this is as close as we are going to get,” said Michal Baranowski, the director of the German Marshall Fund office in Warsaw and an expert on Polish and European politics. “It is not a foreign policy doctrine — it is almost a manifesto.”

Two more to check out on this topic:

Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post: Trump’s white-nationalist dog whistles in Warsaw.

Elite Daily: Trump’s Recent “14 Words” Speech Raises Concerns About White Supremacy.

And the latest humiliation involves Trump nepotism. Bloomberg reports this morning: Ivanka Trump Sat In for Her Father at the G-20 Leaders’ Table.

Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, took his seat at a Group of 20 meeting table in Hamburg, sitting in for the president when he stepped away for one-on-one meetings with world leaders.

A photo on Twitter shows Ivanka Trump sitting at her father’s place, between Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Theresa May. One official who was watching the session said she has taken her father’s place at the table on at least two occasions today and did not speak.

A spokesman for Ivanka Trump said she had been sitting in the back of the room and then briefly joined the main table when the president stepped out. The president of the World Bank addressed the meeting, which was about African migration and health — areas that would benefit from a facility that Ivanka Trump and the World Bank had announced shortly before the meeting, the spokesman said.

G-20 leaders are allowed to bring staff into the room for some of the meetings, and when other leaders stepped out during today’s session, their seats were briefly filled by others. Ivanka Trump serves as an unpaid adviser to her father, as an assistant to the president.

But her presence at the table is the sort of blurring of lines — between family and official business — that Donald Trump is often criticized for, and it would be unusual for world leaders to have family members take their place at their table. Later in the meeting, Trump’s wife, Melania, joined the U.S. delegation in the room while the president was in the chair.

Seated at other seats nearby Ivanka Trump were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey’s Recip Tayyip Erdogan.

That’s about all the Trump news I can stomach for the moment. What stories are you following today?

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31 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: G20 Disaster”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Washington Post: Trump leaves leaders fearing the future as G-20 summit closes.

    HAMBURG — President Trump and other world leaders on Saturday emerged from two days of talks unable to resolve key differences on core issues like climate change and globalization, fueling worries that global summits may be ineffective in the Trump era.

    The divisions at the G-20 summit were most bitter on climate change, where 19 leaders formed a unified front against Trump. But even in areas of nominal compromise like trade, top European leaders said they have little faith that an agreement forged today could hold tomorrow.

    “Our world has never been so divided,” French President Emmanuel Macron said as the talks broke up. “Centripetal forces have never been so powerful. Our common goods have never been so threatened.”

    Macron said world leaders found common ground on terrorism but were otherwise split on numerous important topics. He also said there were rising concerns about “authoritarian regimes, and even within the Western world, there are real divisions and uncertainties that didn’t exist just a few short years ago.”

    Even Putin supports the Paris agreement! I wonder if he tried to talk some sense into Trump about that or he’s just happy to see the U.S. isolated from the rest of the world?

    • Enheduanna says:

      Fantastic post BB. And I think Putin is happy to see us twisting in the wind apart from our former allies.

      To think we could have had the 180-degree opposite of this humiliation…it’s galling beyond belief.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    Did you see this? The real-life badass Wonder Woman Mueller has just hired:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/taking-down-terrorists-in-court

    That is via a post at Wonkette with the usual hilarious commentators:

    https://wonkette.com/619920/robert-mueller-hires-worlds-most-badass-lawyer-for-trump-russia-team-again-wonder-why

    • Mary Luke says:

      If or I hope when Mueller finds something so enormous that the Republicans have no choice but to impeach, those congressional clowns are going to be tongue tied in front of these lawyers. It’s like that scene in “A Few Good Men” when Tom Cruise’s privileged young slacker looks around and says, “Oh! So this is what the inside of a courtroom looks like.”

      • Enheduanna says:

        She has a history going up against mafia types as well as terrorists. I think Sater must be singing like an opera star.

        • Mary Luke says:

          The New Yorker piece is a stunning read. I meant the Congress and Trump’s lawyers will be tongue tied. Mueller is leaving no pebble unturned .

  3. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • NW Luna says:

      Note their graphic with the woman cowering fearfully with her infant, behind the man’s shield, because of course she can’t do anything for herself. Yrch!

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Hahahahaha!

    The Daily Beast: Putin Adviser: He’s a ‘More Powerful Alpha Male Than Trump’

    Was Putin going to use his old KGB skills to recruit Trump in Hamburg during their meeting behind closed doors? “Trump is absolutely our guy; no matter how dependent he is on the U.S. establishment, no matter what he has said in Poland about Russia ‘destabilizing’ Europe,” an ideological adviser for the Kremlin, Sergei Markov, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview on Friday. “Putin is a much more powerful alpha male than Trump, as he has full support of the absolute majority in Russia, but with Putin’s support Trump should grow stronger, at least with fighting terrorism in Syria.”

    • Enheduanna says:

      Richard Engel did his special on all things Russia last night on MSNBC. I think they said Putin does indeed have a solid majority of the people behind him – hard to believe. So many people fall for strongmen – tRump being first in line.

      • NW Luna says:

        Does do something for your spoken beliefs when you and/or your family get poisoned or mysteriously fall off a 20th-floor balcony after you insult Dear Leader.

  5. quixote says:

    “Let’s face it. Trump is a traitor. This is getting really dangerous for our country and the world. There has to be some way we can get rid of him before he completely hands our government over to Russian oligarchs.”

    ^^^This. This to the nth power.

    And Princess Ivanka taking Daddy’s chair while he’s off doing More Important Stuff? Whuuuut? That is so over the top, I’m just flattened. Or has everybody been “fiyaad!” so there’s no actual government personnel left to do government jobs?

    • NW Luna says:

      I hope that Trump’s acquiescence to Putin’s idea of working “with” the US on cybersecurity has put the IC into overdrive to take him down. And I bet Putin did suggest the joint project to Trump, who doesn’t have the brains to come up with ideas on his own — and then Trump, eager to please, went right along with the alpha male.

      Somewhere, I saw it pointed out that Trump’s delay in nominating staff for vacancies in the State Department has resulted in the consolidation of even more power into his (or Bannon’s) hands.

    • NW Luna says:

      Then there was the statement on official letterhead which named the RoC — Taiwan — as the country of which Xi was president. That will be taken as a huge insult, and it shows Trump and his administration for the deplorable amateurs they are on the world diplomatic stage.

    • joanelle says:

      He had to catch his nap!

  6. NW Luna says:

    “…against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

  7. dakinikat says:

    NOTICE SOMETHING FISHY SLIPPING INTO YOUR LOCAL NEWS BROADCAST LATELY?

    http://indivisiblecortlandcounty.org/notice-something-fishy-slipping-into-your-local-news-broadcast-lately

    Straightening up my living room one evening, I stopped to listen to the local news station broadcast. Suddenly, the announcer changed mid-broadcast, and a woman I had not seen on the channel before appeared and started talking about the FBI and Clinton conspiracy to illegally violate the Constitution. I stopped what I was doing and paid careful attention. Then, the segment cut back to the local newscaster who proceeded to describe a fire in Syracuse. Something was off—way off.

    I immediately checked all reliable news outlets to see if there was some bizarre story I had missed, but I had not. The “newscast” about the FBI and Clinton came from a far-right wing group that is pushing propaganda and taking over local news stations. Unsure how this could be happening, I called the local news station and talked with a spokesperson for the channel. She told me that she understood my concern that the propaganda ran into the news segment as if it was part of the local news. Then she said, “We know it, but we can’t do anything about it. We have to run it.” In investigating further, all of the “news” promotions the inserted “newscaster” was discussing were previously debunked propaganda, or to put it bluntly: outright lies.

    It turns out Sinclair Broadcast Group is owned by a right-wing propagandist, and he is buying up local channels all over the country. Sinclair breaks in on the Syracuse stations and begin its propaganda speak. Several of the “newscasters” are actually employed by Fox “News” and are regular contributors on Hannity’s show. Sara Carter would appear to be a right-wing propagandist, not a journalist.
    According to news outlets, first reported by Politico, “In 2016, Sinclair became enveloped in controversy over reports it had ‘struck a deal’ with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and the Trump campaign. The deal it reportedly offered included favorable coverage in exchange for access to the Trump campaign.”

    welcome to 1984 folk!

    • NW Luna says:

      There must be some way out of here! I feel like we’ve fallen into a nightmare mix of Animal Farm, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Alice in Wonderland stuck in the rose garden with Trump screaming “off with their heads!”

      • NW Luna says:

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        It is truly getting to be beyond anything that seems real. It is like all this shit is stuff from out of books or the movies.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. NW Luna says:

    ICYMI, and because we need vids of puppers!

  12. NW Luna says:

    That look — he’s either totally exhausted or has some form of dementia, far more than minor cognitive decline. That’s a “no one home here” look.

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    In which Sady Doyle schools yet another man (and the DNC co-chair!) who finds women invisible: