Trump the Mob Boss; Trump the Tool

Mike Pompeo flew to Saudi Arabia for instructions, and today he called the drone attacks on the Saudi oil field and processing plant “an act of war” and “an Iranian attack on Arab soil.”

Now, many of us might think that attacks on Arab soil are the Saudi’s problem. As loathe as I am to agree with a conservative, I think Daniel Larison is right:

The U.S. is not obliged to come to Saudi Arabia’s defense. No matter who was responsible for the attack on their oil installation, the U.S. has no business responding with military action. Saudi Arabia is not an ally in any sense of the word. We have no mutual defense treaty with them, and we are not required to come to their aid when they are attacked. In all likelihood, this attack was the result of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing aggression against Yemen, but even if it wasn’t there is no American commitment to fight on their behalf.

But Trump apparently considers Saudi Arabia to be a U.S. ally and has called them that on occasion. And of course that has nothing to do with relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States but between Saudi Arabia and Trump.

But the Saudi royal family does seem to have a special relationship with Trump, who has repeatedly bucked bipartisan congressional majorities to back the Kingdom on topics ranging from its disastrous war in Yemen to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. … And his official explanation of the need for a cozy relationship with the Saudis — that they are a valuable customer for American arms merchants — makes very little sense, though it does cohere with his larger nonsensical views about international trade as a whole.

And …

And while Saudi Arabia does not pay “us” — in the sense of the American people — any kind of fortune, they do seem to pay Donald Trump a fair amount of money.

The manager of Trump’s hotel in New York credited a timely stay by members of the Saudi Crown Prince’s entourage (though not the prince himself) with lifting revenue there by 13 percent in one quarter last year. Lobbying disclosures showed that Saudi lobbyists spent $260,000 at Trump’s hotel in DC back in December 2016 during the transition. Separately, the Kingdom itself spent $190,273 at Trump’s hotel in early 2017.

At The Nation, Jeet Heer writes that Trump is treating foreign policy like a mafia protection racket. This is hardly news. Trump’s bizarre idea that NATO owes the United States money for protecting Europe indicates this is the only way he understands foreign relations — like a protection racket.

Trump also seems to think that the Saudis make him look good. This is from a White House transcript, September 16.

TRUMP: They’ve been a great ally. They spend $400 billion in our country over the last number of years. Four hundred billion dollars. That’s a million and a half jobs. And they’re not ones that, unlike some countries, where they want terms; they want terms and conditions. They want to say, “Can we borrow the money at zero percent for the next 400 years?” No. No. Saudi Arabia pays cash. They’ve helped us out from the standpoint of jobs and all of the other things. And they’ve actually helped us.

I would call and I would say, “Listen, our oil prices, our gasoline, is too high. You got to let more go.” You know that.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would call the Crown Prince and I’d say, “You got to help us out. You got to get some more.” And, all of a sudden, the oil starts flowing and the gasoline prices are down. No other President can do that. No other President was able to do that, or maybe they didn’t try. But I’ve done it.

Why Trump was going on about Saudi Arabia with the Crown Prince of Bahrain sitting next to him isn’t clear. But now it appears the Saudis want a favor. And like Enzo the Baker, Trump may think he owes the Godfather …. er, the Saudis, and can’t say no. But this favor is a really big one.

Further, do not lose sight of the fact that it’s only the Trumpies and the Saudis claiming the drone attacks came from Iran. And we should believe them, why? The Houthis have claimed responsibility, and Juan Cole argues that it’s entirely possible the Houthis were indeed the perps.

Back to Jeet Heer:

Saudi Arabia is the nexus between Trump’s personal corruption and his flailing, incoherent foreign policy. As The Washington Post points out, Trump’s response to the latest Middle Eastern crisis has been a divided one because he “is caught between a political imperative to confront Iran—pleasing hawkish Republican supporters and allies Israel and Saudi Arabia—and his own political instincts against foreign intervention and toward cutting a deal.” The uncertainty is whether his desire to please Saudi Arabia, Israel, and hawkish Republicans will override his preference, shown in previous foreign policy disputes, to avoid crossing the line between bluster and open conflict.

Yesterday’s conventional wisdom was that Trump wouldn’t go to war with Iran because his base doesn’t want it.  That may prove to be the winning favor in this mess; that re-election thing is starting to get real. And this may be an issue that voters across the political spectrum will agree on.

Meanwhile, Trump has appointed a new National Security Adviser. If you are in the mood to be frightened to death, read about the new NSA’s friendship with right-wing wackjob Hugh Hewitt.

Robert O’Brien – now the outgoing Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and a longtime corporate lawyer – worked with Hewitt at the Arent Fox law firm and, later, at O’Brien’s own O’Brien Larson firm.

The pair’s friendship extends back years. O’Brien also appears to have benefitted from Hewitt’s praise for their shared, hawkish foreign policy views, while appearing on the conservative talking head’s show dozens of times over the years.

By all accounts, O’Brien (no relation, I’m very sure) is John Bolton without the mustache. Be afraid.

17 thoughts on “Trump the Mob Boss; Trump the Tool

  1. We still have at least one emoluments case moving though the courts. The dummy doesn’t even try to hide it anymore; he’ll fly military planes to Scotland JUST to rob us tax payers.

    No. We do not owe Saudi Arabia anything. That benighted kingdom is a worse embarrassment to the world than Trump’s America.

  2. I have been reading articles where the speculation is that Saudi Arabia did this to themselves to get Trump to commit us to protecting them.  We need to find some entity that is honest and above board to investigate this.  I have never seen an administration that wasted more taxpayer moneys than this one–not even Saint Reagan.  But, trump doesn't pay for anything; thus, someone has to.  Thanks a lot, trump supporters.  Don't know who is more stupid trump or his supporters.

    • Every news report on Trump and his assministration should have Yakety Sax playing in the background.

  3. In 2018 saudi Arabia  spent  82.3 billion for defense. The 3rd highest in the world behind China and the u.s.

    They can defend themselves. 

  4. I don't buy that the Saudis did this to themselves UNLESS the damage is all cosmetic. (Watch the volume of oil from the kingdom.) I think SA was and IS still vulnerable to drones and/or cruise missiles. The problem isn't the damage that WAS done – the problem is they might be able to CONTINUE to cut off exports of oil. 

    The problem, if I'm right about the vulnerability of the oil facilities, is that the Kingdom may see not any other option than full-out war and they will want to drag us into it. Trump wimped out last week when Fox (Tucker Carlson) didn't approve of the war talk ('locked and loaded') so Trump claimed it was rhetorical, not related to war. (Whew!)

    Trump is ONLY concerned with saving his own mule. (ducking the spam filter – think about it.) If war in the Mideast will cost Trump the election, SA is on their own. If anyone convinces Trump that moderates always rally behind a wartime president,  Ridiculously, trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance of what a few talking-heads tell Trump from their Fox ivory towers (out of touch with reality). 

    There is no one worse than Bolton. The new clown may hold the same policy views but people like Lindsey Graham don't hang on his every word. The new nut has less clout than the old nut.

  5. This is OT, but you’ll enjoy watching Barry Berke, professional white collar crime litigator eviscerate Trump’s campaign manager, professional weasel Cory Lewandowski, who made a mess of Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Nadler brought Berke in during the last thirty minutes. Take notes boys and girls, this is how a pro nails slippery scum to the wall.

    Lewandowski is running for Senate in New Hampshire, and you can bet his opponent will be endlessly running excerpts of the above exchange, which should go a long way toward sinking him in NH.

  6. Given the extent of this administration's embrace of and dependence on a outright policy of lying and deception, lead by a president who is hands down the most corrupt the US has ever had, it would be foolish to not be skeptical of their claims of Iran having attacked SA.   No possibility, including this being some kind of false flag perpetrated by SA, culpably supported by a US president driven solely by self dealing, should be out of scope for consideration in determination of what the truth may be.  Especially in light of recent news of the reported whistle blower claims of a "promise" made to a foreign leader, definitely within the realm of possibility for Trump.

    All things considered, going to war in the middle east against Iran on behalf of SA, a despotic nation that, being real, was the source of the worst terror attack on US soil, would be a disaster for the US and the world, and maybe even Trump's presidency, which ironically is the only thing that saves us.

    Going into even a "legitimate" war with Trump as "commander-in-chief" is one of those scenarios that would be disastrous, leaving us all dealing with unfathomable regret as we sift through the wreckage, wishing we had mustered the courage and integrity to have gotten rid of him sooner rather than later.

  7. Dear Conspiracy Theorists: If the attack was a put-up job to give the US an excuse to start a war, why would they have an effective attack cut off half their production capacity? Is the world going to sympathize with the loss of revenue?

    Sorry: if the attack was a put-up job, it wouldn't have affected revenue or derailed the IPO that has been in the works and the Saudis were counting on. The Saudis get hurt in the pocketbook in both cases and the world yawns.

    If SA was going to engineer an act of war designed to garner sympathy and support for a war, the phony attack would have killed hundreds (or thousands) of SA civilians. That wouldn't have cost them any money (and the attack they suffered DID cost them money) and that attack WOULD have given an excuse for war which the world would not have objected to.

  8. Were those US oil fields/refineries that were bombed/droned?  No?  They were Saudi Arabia's!

    In the last 40+ years, we have spent hundred's of billions of dollars arming SA.  Let THEM defend their own f'in oil fields/refineries!

    Ah!  But they – with the Russians – have been filling tRUMP's coffers for the last decade, plus!  

    The corruption in this (mal)administration is wide and deeamn near bottomless!  tRUMP and his corrupt grifting cronies have opened up "For Sale or Rent" signs on every -EVERY! – part of America!!!

    This country is virtually unrecognizable from the one I grew up in in the 60's & 70's.  And since 2017, it is now even more completely indistinguishable from the prior 40+ years of conservative machinations!

    tRUMP may be the final turd in the shitter before this country is flushed into the banana republic sewer!

    All, thanks to banana's Republicans!!!!!

    If there is  God, may He/She/It show no fucking mercy to your putrid, shriveled (what passes for your) souls!

  9. OT: If we know who, then we can guess WHAT!

    Reportedly, the conversation which the whistleblower deemed an urgent matter was Between Trump and Ukraine, What we know: Mayor Bug Eyes was sent to Ukraine to talk about the government delivering (or manufacturing) evidence to hurt Biden.

    Rudy wasn't sent as an official representative of the US, so he couldn't promise to deliver the arms that the Congress authorized for Ukraine to defend against Russia. My guess: Ukraine outplayed Rudy by making it clear that the need for the arms was urgent and the investigation was a "maybe". 

    Trump knows his leverage over Ukraine evaporates after they get the guns. Trump wanted a deal – he's nothing if not transactional. Rudy failed to obtain a quid pro quo deal because Rudy doesn't intend to go to jail for Trump and Rudy wasn't authorized to negotiate for the US. But Rudy did report back that Ukraine was interested in maybe finding something to make Trump happy – AFTER the arms are delivered.

    Trump wanted to know for SURE he had a deal and Ukraine could not claim there was a failure in communication (if they don't produce dirt on Biden for the election) So Trump called – personally – and foolishly made it a quid-pro-quo contract. I send you guns and you deliver a Biden scandal.

    It's on record. (I think.) Trump is counting on being able to suppress the record, but IMO, Trump can only delay it. If the Democrats in the House are smart enough to realize what they have, they will pull out ALL the stops to demand access to the trancript and the whistleblower. NANCY, GET OUT OF THE WAY!

    • Excellent job of connecting dots.  A hard job made more difficult when people keep hiding dots.  I suspect rearranging dots is next and of course constant denial.  

  10. Doug,

    I don't think Nancy is in the way anymore.

    She was righteously PISSED at Lewandowski, and said he should have been charged with contempt – DURING his too-cute-by-half bullshit testimony!

    I think she's letting Nadler exp!ore the myriad areas of corruption before picking the one or two the Dem's can (finally) pounce on.

    Remember, Pelosi doesn't just want tRUMP impeached she "wants him in jail!"

    May it be so, oh great FSM!!!!!!!!!

  11. I'm glad I'm not in the military  and have to go cover MBS's ass because the Houthis sent drones under his radar. 

    How much is SA paying? Since trump expects other countries to pay up.

  12. I don't think we should help Saudi Arabia because of what they did to Khashoggi.  Do we need any more information to prove that trump is a traitor?  I don't. 

    • I don't get this sending troops to defend SA thing. What pops into my mind is the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon back during the Reagan administration. Things being what they are in that neck of the woods, there is always a possibility for something to go wrong in a way we never envisioned.

       I know Trump wants to wag his big military dick around to showcase his power, but a slight miscalculation can change the dynamic to something extremely detrimental to our national interests. Thread lightly and choose your battles wisely!

  13. Shields and Brook discussed Rudy Friday evening on the PBS news hour.  David Brooks had quite a take on Giuliani, making note of his apparent mental deterioration from earlier days as evidenced by his recent rambling verbalizations.  These, he stated, were not like more coherent discourse of his earlier days.  Staff at that time (Brooks reported) did, even then, observe some oddities.  Rudy seemed almost obsessed with the Godfather Series, and would watch episodes  repeatedly.  Are we witnessing an aging and deteriorating Rudy, living out his dream in the aura of the Trump crime family?  They might just be bigger than U.S. Steel.  Like the blind squirrel, Brooks does come up with a nut every so often.  A little food for thought not on the Paleo mental diet of Trumpian era..  Rudy, the better call Saul kind of legal help, in our  broken bad or badly broken modern tragedy.  Witch hunt, witch hunt they cry.  It is the all too familiar wailing song of the Orange Lowland Mockingturd. 

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