The Company We Keep….Our New Partners in Crime

Related imageI have so far been pretty good about staying away from topics related to The Elephant in Every Room, no reflection on real elephants. Many others are presenting analysis, opinion and humor that is way better than anything I could write. But I need to pile on because, at this point, I am scared shitless about the evolving friendships of our Racist Narcissist Liar-in-Chief.

Here are the most prominent among his notorious new friends.

Vladamir Putin, Russia
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Governance Style: Jails and murders opposition; has made billions overseeing a kleptocracy; ongoing interference with the elections in the US and Europe; open military incursions into sovereign states and support for Assad’s war, routine violations of international human rights laws.

Trump’s View: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Trump has often discussed an alliance with Putin and been virtually silent on the subject of Russian interference with democratic elections or Putin’s recent “hits” on numerous dissenters. He recently suggested Russia should be allowed into the G7 trading group, to the shock of our allies. Trump has tried to develop a luxury hotel in Moscow and probably has many questionable financial relationships with Putin allies.

Kim Jong Un, North Korea
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Governance Style: Absolute dictator, murders opposition including members of his own family; presides over a collapsed economy, torture, suppression of all civil rights; has hacked US IT system and imprisoned American visitors

Trump’s (most recent) View: “I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me…. I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture….”  “We laughed….we had a very good relationship.” Trump has legitimized Kim’s murderous regime by meeting with him and making policy concessions without any commitment by Kim. No investments in N. Korea yet but after the summit, Trump observed “…you could have the best hotels in the world right there.”

Rodrigo Duterte, Phillipines
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Governance Style: Has a policy of extrajudicial killings, including the murders of more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and more than 60 journalists.

Trump’s View: “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump owns a large commercial building in Manila.

Xi Jenping, China
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Governance Style: Has jailed, tortured and disappeared dissenters and journalists; promotes religious intolerance and has limited citizen access to internet sites. Suspected of recently hacking information on US military plans.

Trump’s View:  “He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death…He is a very good man and I got to know him very well.” Trump and his family have extensive business ties in China and probably billions worth of investments. He recently lifted sanctions on Chinese telecommunications giant, ZTE, following China’s approval of Ivanka Trump’s trademark applications and China’s decision to invest in an Indonesian project that will benefit Trump’s family.

Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia

Governance Style: Saudi Arabia is considered “the worst of the worst” countries by human rights and civil rights organizations. It has jailed, tortured and disappeared dissenters; promotes religious intolerance and is committing ongoing war crimes against civilians in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been identified by the US State Department as the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism.Image result for salam arabic

Trump’s View:  Trump recently sold $2.3 billion in artillery to the Saudis saying “Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation…And they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth.” Trump’s family is under investigation for numerous economic conflicts of interest involving deals with Saudi banks and investment companies.

Recep Tayyep Erdogan, Turkey
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Governance Style: Has eliminated independent press and jailed journalists; has been accused of genocide of Kurds inside Turkish borders; has lead an assault on civil rights and civil society

Trump’s View: “Frankly, he’s getting very high marks. He’s also been working with the United States. We have a great friendship and the countries—I think we’re right now as close as we’ve ever been … a lot of that has to do with a personal relationship.” Trump holds branding licenses to two buildings in Istanbul worth millions.

Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, EgyptImage result for egypt symbol for peace

Governance Style: Assumed power following a coup of democratically elected government; intolerant of dissent, has eliminated civil rights and routinely violates human rights

Trump’s View:  “We agree on so many things. I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job…” Trump owns two companies in Egypt.

US Allies
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At the other end of the spectrum, Trump has had a rocky relationship with our allies, including Germany, the UK, Australia, France and Canada. Trump most recently insulted our most important allies at the G7 meeting on trade, and the tariffs he has imposed on European and Canadian imports are predicted to be a boon to China, Russia and OPEC states.  Trump has maintained a friendship with one of our traditional allies by going of his way to support Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who appears to be engaging in systematic genocide.

Trump’s associations are all the more troubling in the context of how he threatens the free media, scapegoats people who are most vulnerable, pardons white collar criminals (while announcing he himself is exempt from the law), and employs time-tested propaganda techniques, most of which involve lying.

Image result for namasteIt is hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump is hoping to be a dictator himself or maybe he just doesn’t know how to get along with the “popular kids” and must curry favor with low-lifes to make himself feel good. Probably both.

Of course, Trump’s relationships with everyone are unpredictable — but that is part of the problem. When our president becomes an unpredictable “friend” of dictators and murderers, and goes out of his way, unpredictably, to publicly insult our allies, we are in trouble.

And where are our national leaders on all of this? Politely troubled as we wake up to another day of surreal reports documenting corruption, inhumanity, and threats to our democracy.

Thanks to NPR and The Atlantic for background information….


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  1. “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump is hoping to be a dictator himself or maybe he just doesn’t know how to get along with the “popular kids” and must curry favor with low-lifes to make himself feel good. Probably both.”

    This, right here, sums it up perfectly. He sees himself as an emperor … and I even know which one: Nero.

  2. I’m terrified too, Kim. I spend hours every day reading the news, tied up in knots and feeling powerless.

    Your post doesn’t say what to do about all this. What I have been doing is going with the wellstone Democratic renewal Club to Tracy, and canvassing for Democrats. It was a very encouraging thing to do when I was doing it, and the wellstone club as well as indivisible Berkeley and swing left have now credit for there being a Democrat in second place to run against the Republican.

    I’m over in Spain now, and have been feeling very guilty about not being there to help out. I even made 10 phone calls from over here to Tracy as part of indivisible Berkeley’s at home phone bank. That made me feel a little better.

    The only other things I know to do are to send a few pretty meager checks, to click on petitions I’m asked to join, and to make occasional calls to Kamala and Diane and Barbara’s offices. Even though it feels inadequate, I like feeling like I’m actually doing something.

    Just got an email from a guy who claims to be a credible Challenger to Devin Nunes. Well, I’m already going to Tracy. Who is there to go to Fresno?

    My email inbox is full of requests for support of one candidate or another, or one organization or another, far more than I can begin to fulfill, and I have no idea if I’m making the right choices and where to send my support.

    If you know what to do about this thing, tell us meanwhile I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to reduce my daily time with the New York Times, the guardian, and a progressive blog Digest that I read.

    Oh, and I know something about what NOT to do – don’t do like Robert De Niro and descend to Trump’s level, throwing out nastiness. And if somebody does do that, don’t stand up and applaud. It’s just letting Trump dictate your behavior, and it confirms his base’s belief in what they’re doing. What we need is more civil discourse, not more f*** you’s.

    May we have occasion for toasting , rather than quaking, come November..

    The very best, Steve

    1. Sounds like you are doing the work of two people. I am just doing a lot of hand wringing! I just don’t have the stomach for the political world any more — so I am thinking about either going back to work on Lesvos or doing some relief work in Puerto Rico to relieve my own guilty feelings! I agree with you about DeNiro. We need reasoned leadership, not more childish rage.

  3. Kim,

    Oh, and I forgot to give you credit for my whole connection with the wellstone club. It was when you gave a talk to them about your work and lesbos that I even found out about them.

    Go, Kim!

  4. With Justice Kennedy retiring, the rulings the Supreme Court came out with this week look to be the norm. Something must be done about the spread of fake news. Most Trump supporters never hear the real stories. I’m wringing my hands with you. My next area of focus may be CD4 – McClintock’s district.

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