John BOLTON submits draft to Vlad

John Bolton sent a draft of his memoir to the NSC at the White House for review. In the heat of the impeachment trial, it confirms Trump's quid pro quo on Ukraine. Perfect blackmail time to get a reward from Uncle Vladimir... 


Make ISIS Great Again

It just took a few days for Trump's decision to deliver the expected goods.

His controversial withdrawal of US troops from North East Syria, and his shameless betrayal of the Kurd allies that helped reconquer ISIS territory gave a greenlight to Turkey's attack, which already led to the escape of hundreds of ISIS fighters, and the probable surrender of Kurds to Assad.

Why would the POTUS play against all US interests, revive ISIS, and grant such humungous gifts to Assad, Iran, or Putin?

Why would he tear down Open Skies in the same breath?

Why now? Why at the very moment impeachment inquiry gained momentum, and the Ukraine scandal threatened The Donald's hold on power and foreign affairs?

His maker Putin simply understood he had to get his puppet rush while he still could call the shots.

And Donald obliged by doing exactly what Vladimir wanted.

'Make ISIS Great Again'.

blogul 2019


Ending the Trump-McConnell Era

Donald Trump is focusing on 4 priorities to secure his reelection:
  • delaying the upcoming downturn to after November 2020, even if it means destroying US competitiveness to achieve it 
  • building the new sections of the wall he promised, even if US taxpayers pay for it, and double if you consider the fact that he's taking on other budgets to do it (triple if you consider the fact that he's slashing security and military budgets). 
  • positioning Democrats as socialist extremists, even if some oblige by doing it by themselves (exhibit A: Bernie Sanders) 
  • preventing key demographics from voting, through classic voter suppression techniques (e.g. gerrymandering) as well as through his own trademark methods (e.g. turning politics into a disgusting circus, scaring minorities away with threats of ICE raids)

For the moment, DJT seems on a much better track than in 2016. The question is: this time, how much will he be allowed to compensate a likely loss in popular vote with help from the outside through hacking or election meddling?

Until the elections, he will get the opportunity to score some wins (the wall? USMCA? China?), but risks keep piling up (collateral loan obligations? China? House commissions? post-Mueller lawsuits? Jim Mattis?)...

On a more direct electoral front, Trump is facing a different Democratic field:
- the business-as-usual candidate isn't a clear leader anymore: Joe Biden's lagging too much behind Hillary Clinton in too many ways, except maybe in his miserable skills as a presidential candidate.
- the natural liberal candidate of 2016 seems to be at long last claiming the spot she abandoned to Sanders because Hillary decided to run again: Elizabeth Warren is an energizing candidate, and embodies change much more convincingly than Bernie, who in contrast looks like an old don Quixote great at barking at windmills, but unable to get them produce anything. Sanders still has the power to crash the party if he chooses to linger once more.
- Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg seem to settle for Veep positions, but a lot can happen until IA-NH. Warren-Buttigieg? Biden-Harris? Warren-Harris could kick some serious ass.

One good news for the Democrats: if defeating Trump remains the common goal, his impeachment is now on a dedicated track, and key issues look much better separated and visible. The POTUS doesn't need anyone to draw spotlights on immigration or climate change (great idea, to invite fellow G7 members to watch Hurricane Doral from the front seat next Summer), but Mitch McConnell has at last become a prime target on issues as critical as gun control or SCOTUS nominations (mass shooting or Ruth Bader Ginsburg health scares unfortunately coming as recurring reminders). 

It is essential to target the Trump-McConnell duo, because winning doesn't stop at the White House. You need to reclaim the Senate, and to restore some dignity there as well.

blogules 2019
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Dirt? "I'd take it"

Asked by George Stephanopoulos what he would do if Russia or China told him they had dirt on a political opponent, Donald Trump replied: 'I think I'd take it'. And when reminded that Christopher Wray told the Congress that in this situation, candidates should contact the FBI, he simply said 'the FBI director is wrong'.

When DJT says something is 'wrong', he's not talking moral compasses, but what doesn't follow his mobster principles.

'Russia! If you have dirt on Biden, tell me. I won't tell the FBI, as usual'
Donald Trump is 'right', because the GOP keeps following his mobster principles, putting him on the 'right' track to get reelected. GOP voters keep supporting him because GOP lawmakers keep enabling him, starting with the most corrupt of them all, Mitch McConnell, who not only confirmed his grand stand to block Obama's legitimate Supreme Court pick would not be applied should Trump face the same situation, but also had his state shamelessly benefit from his wife's work for the administration. Corrupt Elaine Chao. Corrupt Susan Collins, who pretends to defend women's rights, but gives the nod to Brett Kavanaugh, and countless anti-abortion judges.

DJT will be reelected if Democrats let Putin and Trump run the show, like they did in 2016. Feeding the narrrative that DNC primaries will oppose an ultra-radical, revolutionary, and an old conservative, and that only Trump represents change.

Which is true. Only not the change you want, if you care for democracy, human rights, the environment, healthcare...

Either you take a stand for decency, for democracy, for the values that make America great, or you let the worst enemies of America Make Amerika Great Again.

You want dirt? You'll get it.

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The Non-March of the Emperor (How Naruhito exposed Trump's ego trip, and Abe's agenda)

Donald Trump will probably remember his State Visit to Japan as a triumphant ego trip: we saw him play golf with his favorite losing partner Abe Shinzo, lift the first ever President Cup (designed for him: YUGE, sumo-sized), become the first Foreign head of state to meet the new Emperor... but what I will remember forever is The Naruhito Statement.

Not a word, but a silent, immobile stand, that should resonate much louder than it has so far.

For six long minutes, a significant section of his first encounter with Trump, Naruhito left his guest alone. Everything was carefully timed and planned, as the intricate red carpet patterns, and an official's intervention confirm.

So what happened? Donald, Melania, Naruhito and Masako arrive together on a wide podium, where they pause to listen to the national anthems. Then Trump moves ahead, and the other three stop where the official instructs them to, only a few meters after leaving the podium, just to symbolically lead him out. The POTUS joins another, smaller podium, where he listens to a military march, then moves to salute troops, then walks along another red line at the end of which he reconnects with the Emperor to meet civilians.

During these six surreal minutes, Trump is either alone, or accompanied by military staff. The only music playing is military. As if a military parade had been especially prepared for him alone. 

DJT is a Commander in Chief, and the Emperor of Japan should remain apolitical, but the whole process turns the moment into a ridicule, onanic one for the former, and a strong political statement for the latter: what better way to express Naruhito's strong support of Japan's peaceful constitution, against Abe and Nippon Kaigi, who want to destroy it?

In the same immobile move, Naruhito managed to make his guest look like an egotistic dictator, and Abe like a dangerous fool. Simply brilliant.

'Barf bag, anyone? Alt-Right meet Nippon Kaigi - Donald Trump Abe Shinzo / Shinzo Abe' (20190526 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132660710452867078)
'Trump to Abe Shinzo: US-Japan alliance is 'ironclad'. At the personal level, make that 'gold-plated, 7-iron-clad' (20190528 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1133175410756210688)

As if to nail it even deeper, DJT made the most of Memorial Day by praising a dictator: KIM Jong-un is right to criticize Joe Biden, I'm not bothered by his cute missile launches, and what a fantastic real estate potential you have, Dear Chairman!

'Say, Donald Trump, are North Korea's Concentration Camps the kind of 'prime real estate' you're looking for to lock up migrant kids at the US borders? Your dictator friend could sure help you find Stephen Miller-friendly solutions to Make Amerika Great Again.' (20190528 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1133208200797253633)

John BOLTON and his fellow hawks have not conceded yet. And America's recent moves around Sasebo, theoretically meant to control the North Korea - Iran connection, could also facilitate a preemptive strike. The bloody nose scenario remains a tweet away.

One thing is sure: MOON Jae-in is out of the loop, and neither KIM nor TRUMP seem to trust him anymore.

blogules 2019
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PS - from our twitterline (@theseoulvillage):

On the non-march of the Emperor:

'I wish Naruhito could brief about actual East Asia History, not the one he learned from Shinzo Abe / Abe Shinzo & ' (20190526 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132804997761064960)

'Surreal military march played for Trump alone on a podium. Ego trip (20190527 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132806859591565312)
'Pacifist, apolitical Emperor Naruhito stays away from military while Trump salutes them' (20190527 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132807172847333376)
'Kudos to Naruhito for keeping his distances from militarism, turning the parade Abe Shinzo / Shinzo Abe prepared for Trump into  ridiculous ode to a dictator' (20190527 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132811289032441856)
'Even weirder on this video, the almost 6 mns Trump was left alone with military march & review (starting around 2:30). Naruhito only rejoined him to meet civilians. A clear message for Japan's Article 9, against ABEIGNomicS / Nippon Kaigi militarism? ' (20190527 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132924066317254656)

On the return of bloody nose:
'Bloody nose returns? US getting ready for preemptive strike against North Korea, including bunker buster capacity (: news.donga.com/home/3/all/201 Sasebo)' (20190526 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132409982039646208)
'FYI this bunker buster is meant to bust Kim Jong-un, not to rescue Abe Shinzo / Shinzo Abe when he plays golf with Trump:' (20190526 - https://twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1132439023559950336)


Mueller Time: Trump is guilty, but I was not allowed to prosecute him

If we have yet to see the full Mueller Report, we can already confirm many elements. I'll list them just like I did after the infamous Barr 'Summary' (see "Muellerxit before more Easter Eggs?"):

- this may be a final report, but certainly not a conclusion: Mueller invites the Congress to dig further, and mentions 14 cases stemming from it, 12 of which have been masked by A.G. William Barr
- collusion: the Trump campaign sought help from Russians, and Russians proposed help to the Trump campaign, but at a legal level, a crime from Trump and his mob can't be established- obstruction of justice: Donald Trump has constantly been trying to obstruct justice, but most of the time failed, because people around him managed to prevent that. This also means that occasionally, he succeeded. Which is equivalent to say that he his guilty.
- so why did Mueller decide not to do the logical thing, and to prosecute Trump? only because of a controversial Office of Legal Counsel position stating that a sitting president can't prosecuted by the DoJ. Mueller mentions the possibility for the Congress to seek impeachment, or for the DoJ to wait for the end of Trump's immunity.

In other words: I think Trump is guilty, but I'm not allowed to prosecute him myself, yet the Congress has the power and the constitutional duty to investigate and consider impeachment. 

Expect Democrats to do just that, but in a highly explosive context:

- most people who prevented Trump from breaking the law have either been discarded or about to be purged, in the White House as well at the DoJ, with William Barr acting as Trump's personal attorney, instead of as the US Attorney General. Obstruction of justice has been beefed up by obstruction by justice!
- Trump propaganda and Barr's spin have already altered the public's perception of the whole investigation
- 2020 elections are tomorrow, and no GOP lawmaker seeking reelection is willing to fight Trump and thus certainly lose even their Republican primaries.

Bob Mueller's testimony in Congress will be the next big moment.

Beyond that, the following weeks and months will be crucial, particularly when and if we know more about the 12 cases Barr doesn't want us to see, but probably showed to his boss nonetheless.

blogules 2019
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Muellerxit before more Easter Eggs?

Robert Mueller delivered his report to William Barr, who quickly released a 4-page letter to the Congress that sounds like a victory for Donald Trump, but not so much considering the fact that it confirms, between the lines, that:

- Russia did interfere with the 2016 elections, and in favor of Donald Trump
- Russia was in touch with the Trump campaign to help them win the elections
- conspiration or collaboration couldn't be 'established', meaning there were not enough evidence to prove such crimes beyond a shadow of a doubt from a legal point of view (a broader - including political - definition of 'collusion' could still apply)
- Mueller had evidence of obstruction of justice; not enough to legally prove the crime beyond a shadow of a doubt, but enough to say the president himself couldn't be exonerated. 
- If at this stage, Mueller couldn't guarantee the cases to win in court, it doesn't mean that his report is harmless at the political level. And regardless of what the DOJ decides to do after this report, Mueller confirms that there are evidences against Trump and his campaign, material that could be used if some other case or new elements were to pop up, particularly since the Special Counsel didn't interview Trump about what happened after the elections, leaving that up to potential further investigation (starting from Democrat-led committees).

Robert Mueller already knew very well William Barr and his positions, and guessed what he would try to make of his report. If Mueller has a personal conviction that Trump and/or his campaign are guilty, he will have done the necessary to let open key entry points into the mass he piled up, and bet on other channels to bring more prosecutions, or political condemnations. We know he already transferred many Easter Eggs to collateral investigations.

As we wait for more details about the true content of the report, my only question is: did Rod Rosenstein collaborate with Barr and Trump, or with justice and Mueller? Did he clinch, months ago, a deal with Trump by trading Mueller's safety for some leniency regarding the White House's stonewalling strategy?

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2018 blogules

Below, a list of blogules spilled over the year 2018. A far cry from the heyday, but I post way more often on Twitter (@stephanemot, @theseoulvillage...).

NB : for the comprehensive lists of blogules (2003 - to date), go to the bottom of this post or to the blogules transfusion center.

. "State Of The Union(s)"

. "The Rule of Low"  
. "Mr Putin, tear down that kompromat" . "Trump meets his maker, off the record"
. "Donald Trump: "I never lie, I just invent my own truth""
. "Some light at the end of the barrel?"
. "The nuclear option"
. "No changes in Trump's cognitive abilities"
. "2017 blogules"

Previous seasons: 

blogules 2019
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Happy New Year 2020

It's that time of the year*, and I have no choice but to wish you a happy next year, considering what's going to happen in 2019:

January 2019
During their first week in charge, House Democrats issue a combined 3,320 subpoenas (over 500 each for Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings, Jerrold Nadler, Maxine Waters, and Richard Neal) for past and present members of the Trump administration. Meanwhile, Robert Mueller starts investigating GOP lawmakers blackmailed with kompromat by Putin and Trump. Lindsey Graham, Devin Nunes, and other powerful figures abruptly flee for Brazil, where Jair Bolsonaro grants them political asylum.

February 2019
Facing prison charges, Benjamin Netanyahu takes the first plane for Brasilia.

March 2019
No blessing from lawmakers, no referendum, no deal, but no no Brexit either: the UK crashes out of the Union with the only consolation that Theresa May will no longer be in 10 Downing Street (the building being sold to pay part of the EUR 55 bn fine, the PM moves in 221B Baker Street). Boris Johnson parades at the 2019 Rio Carnival on the Monstrosity float:

April 2019
The day Akihito abdicates, Nippon Kaigi and Shinzo Abe have Naruhito, Akishino, and Hisahito murdered to install on the throne an obscure member of the Imperial Family compliant with their lifetime dream to restore fascism. At Japan's top military academy, the new Emperor welcomes his first Head of State with a vibrant homage: 'we do have a lot to learn from people like Jair Bolsonaro'.

May 2019
Vladimir Putin wins the European Elections in every single member state, the Gilets Jaunes Party claiming 41% of the ballot in France, and Marine Le Pen's movement 33%.

June 2019
In North Korea, Mount Paektu explodes, allowing KIM Jong-un to get six more unnoticed nuclear tests before going on a trek along the Amazon river, joined by Bashar al Assad the time for chemical weapons to dissipate across Kurdistan.

July 2019
Metoo: France wins the Women's FIFA World Cup at home just days after five players of the male team get jailed for domestic abuse.

August 2019
Coldest month of August on record: global warming takes a short pause thanks to Korea's nuclear winter.

September 2019
The day Mike Pence is forced to quit by Mueller Probe revelations, Donald Trump is impeached. Nancy Pelosi is sworn in, with Vice President Beto O'Rourke by her side. Jeff Flake declares his candidacy for 2020, then withdraws after being spotted in the same elevator as Brett Kavanaugh.

October 2019
At long last, Vladimir Putin wins the Nobel Peace Prize for restoring eternal peace in Syria.

November 2019
Only the third asset collapse of the year for China, but XI Jinping still believes he can, like the US, pull a fifth one by the end of the year.

December 2019
Carlos Ghosn is re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-arrested. Japan gives up all hope of getting a confession from him, and extradite the Brazilian back home, where Jair The First puts him in charge of the merger of Brazil with Hungary.

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* see "Happy New Year 2010" (Jan 2009), "Happy New Year 2011" (Dec 2009), "Happy New Year 2012" (Dec 2010), "Happy New Year 2013" (Dec 2011), "Happy New Year 2014" (Dec 2012), "Happy New Year 2015" (Dec 2013), "Happy New Year 2016" (Dec 2014), "Happy New Year 2017" (Dec 2015), "Happy New Year 2018" (Dec 2016), "Happy New Year 2019" (Dec 2017), "Happy New Year 2020" (Jan 2019)... and in French: "Bonne Année 2009" (Jan 2008), "Bonne Année 2010" (Dec 2008), "Bonne Année 2011" (Dec 2009), "Bonne Année 2012" (Dec 2010), "Bonne Année 2013" (Dec 2011), "Bonne Année 2014" (Dec 2012), "Bonne Année 2015" (Dec 2013), "Bonne Année 2016" (Dec 2014), "Bonne année 2017" (Dec 2015), "Bonne année 2018" (Dec 2016), "Bonne année 2019" (Dec 2017), "Bonne année 2020" (Jan 2019).


State Of The Union(s)

Emmanuel MACRON: 'Please don't go'
Angela MERKEL: 'You know I don't need translation when you talk to me that way'
Donald TRUMP: 'I should build a wall between these two. Maybe Russia will pay for it, I'll ask Vlad'
Melania TRUMP: 'Did I pick the right vert-de-gris color? The mustard of my pollution mask matched so well, but after the colonial helmet disaster in Kenya, my staff advised against keeping it on'

This great shot (by François MORI / AP) tells a lot about how differently close two couples can be, even when each member is only one chair apart from their partner.

But don't get fooled. Merkel is on the way out, Macron remains dangerously low in the polls, and both are likely to receive major blows at the upcoming European elections. If Donald Trump lost the House, he did increase his control where it mattered most over the past few weeks: the Senate, and the Supreme Court. Without any moral leadership in sight (R.I.P. McCain, Flake, Corker), GOP lawmakers remain totally under his spell. They didn't lift a finger when Trump fired Jeff Sessions to illegally elevate to acting A.G. an open critic of Robert Mueller's Russia probe (Matt Whitaker), when Rod Rosenstein was supposed to get the position.

Democracy is losing ground to nationalism, extremism, hatred. And in this world of strongmen, the free world doesn't have any strong leader in sight. 

But we do see and hear swarms of them. We do see inspiring new faces taking a stand for human rights or gun control, strengthening diversity in Congress. We do hear powerful voices, that resonate even more when they're silenced (Anna Politkovskaya and Jamal Khashoggi had Vladimir Putin and MBS expose themselves as murdering despots).

And sometimes, we do see a majority of citizens cast a ballot against the destructive tide.

blogules 2018
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