Friday, August 04, 2017

Seven Days In, A Bad Start

President Trump was in character during phone conversations, transcripts of which were obtained by The Washington Post, he had with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on January 27.

He was certainly in character talking to Pena Nieto. There was the begging from the man who does not know how to make a deal,: "Okay, Enrique, that is fine and I think it is fair. I do not bring up the wall but when the press brings up the wall, I will say, 'let us see how it is going – let us see how it is working out with Mexico.'" He suggested also "They are going to say, 'who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?' to both of us, and we should both say, 'we will work it out.' It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, 'we will not pay' and me saying, 'we will not pay.'"

The obligatory slap at his country or one of its states made an appearance, with New Hampshire being labeled "a drug-infested den,. Nor did he neglect the stereotypical language out of a 1950s movie: "you have some pretty tough hombres."

No Trump speech is complete without misdirection. He said "Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work — 99.9 percent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more. Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works." However, despite Israel's reputation in some quarters as the enslaver of peaceful, freedom-loving Palestinians since 1948, The Post notes "only one-tenth of the Israeli barrier with the Palestinian territories is a 25-foot-tall concrete wall. The other 90 percent is a  six-foot-high electronic fence."

And there must be at least one flat-out lie, in this case "We lost a lot of factories in Ohio and Michigan and I won these states – some of these states have not been won in 38 years by a Republican and I won them very easily." Given that Ronald Reagan carried 49 states in 1984, a fact of which Trump must have been aware (and the one he lost, Minnesota, was also lost by candidate Trump), that represents not only a lie, but also his obsession with replaying the election.

But more important is what Trump did not mention.  Understandably, the President talked a lot about drugs, remarking

And we have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country. They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York. Up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den – is coming from the southern border. So we have a lot of problems with Mexico farther than the economic problem. We are becoming a drug-addicted nation and most the drugs are coming from Mexico or certainly from the southern border. But I will say this – you have that problem too. You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with, and we are willing to help you with that big-league. But they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job of knocking them out. We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because drugs are being sold for less money than candy because there is so much of it. So we have to work together to knock that out. And I know this is a tough group of people, and maybe your military is afraid of them, but our military is not afraid of them, and we will help you with that 100 percent because it is out of control – totally out of control.

Then he talked about taxes. Moments later he commented

beating us at trade and they are beating us at the border, and they are killing us with drugs. Now I know you are not involved with that, but regardless of who is making all the money, billions and billions and billions – some people say more – is being made on drug trafficking that is coming through Mexico. Some people say that the business of drug trafficking is bigger than the business of taking our factory jobs.

Then he talked about the war, but of course completely ignored findings from a report issued in January 2016 by the US Government Accountability Office, which revealed

the extent to which American firearms are a contributor not just to crime in the United States, but also to violence that happens south of the border. Half of the seized weapons were long guns -- shotguns or rifles. "According to Mexican government officials, high caliber rifles are the preferred weapon used by drug trafficking organizations," the report found. Those rifles include the assault-style weapons that have lately been used in mass shootings in the United States.

The flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico shares some DNA with the black market drug trade between the two countries. "Firearms that criminal organizations acquire from the United States are primarily transported overland into Mexico using the same routes and methods employed when smuggling bulk cash south and drugs north across the U.S.-Mexico border," the report notes.

Trump criticized Mexico throughout, always referred to President Pena Nieto as "Enrique" while he was called "Mr. President," and whipped ou the tough guy act: "you and I have to knock it out – you and I have to knock the hell out of them."  And he ignored the 600 pound elephant, easy access to guns. All in all, it was a standard Trump disaster.

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