Tag Archives: Trump

Politics and Pricey Hook-Ups: from Rome to Exclusive Golf Resorts of America……

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In Italy, they have no dominant political position like a US president. The biggest mouth in town, in Rome, used to be Silvio Berlusconi. He is trying to make a political comeback now through the highly (and perennially) volatile Italian political scene.
Berlusconi is in many ways like other European politicians. He is not a GOP/Tea Party American-style right-winger, nor is he a rabid believer in deregulation and corporatism (no leading European politician is). He sees an opportunity after the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Very likely he hopes to hook up with Trump, exchange notes and memoirs about the techniques of business, governance, and pricey not-so-discreet hook-ups……

That leaves out the Le Pen women in France (both mother and daughter)………

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Iran Nuclear Deal: Is Europe Going Back to its Historic ‘Plan B’ of Appeasing a Bully?……..

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“It looks as though Britain, France, and Germany have decided to appease President Donald Trump to discourage him from withdrawing the United States from the July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). “After meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May… and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said they had agreed to set up a working group of experts on fixing flaws in the landmark 2015 agreement that President Trump has warned he will walk away from this spring unless adjustments are made to his liking.” (PBS)….. “France’s foreign minister said on Sunday he would visit Iran on March 5 to discuss its ballistic missile program and the nuclear deal agreed with world powers in 2015.” (Reuters)…. “Germany is lobbying among European allies to agree new sanctions against Iran …………”

So, there are some early signs of fissure. Weak signs so far, but ominous. Are the Europeans, sans Russia, going back on their own commitment to the nuclear deal (JCPOA)? Are they going to unwittingly nickle and dime it to death by chipping away at its credibility? Are they going to yield, gradually, to the new loud-mouth bully in the White House?
Are they falling back on their perennial Plan B  when facing pressure from bullies? Are they going back to their own old pattern of appeasement of bullies who threaten war?

Appeasement eventually leads to what it was hoped to prevent, just as it did in Europe decades ago. The war the Europeans have tried to avoid.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump Economics, Friedman Economics: the Oligarchy, the Swamp, and the Cesspool…….

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And the beat goes on……
This time I’ll keep my feet on solid ground
Now I understand myself when I’m down
Like the sweet sound of hip music
There’ll always be something new
To keep the tables turning
Hey, this super song
There’ll never be an ending…
And the beat goes on……”    
The Whispers

Betting Against Trump Was a Market-Beater. The companies the president disparaged have done much better than those he favored. Remember when President Donald Trump would call out a company by name, causing its stock price to gyrate madly, whacking a few billions off its market value with just one offhanded tweet? ……. Looking back on this one year later is revealing. From the November 2016 election until when we looked at it January 2017, the Oligarch Index was thoroughly trouncing the Drain the Swamp Index, 15.8 percent to 3.5 percent. Trump hadn’t even been sworn in, yet he was already making his heft felt in the marketplace. Things change…….”

So the famous bi-partisan, lobbyist-driven, Washington Swamp beat the Trump-favored Oligarchy in terms of market performance, at least for the first year. During the past year, the Oligarchy started quickly to morph into what it has always had the potential to be: a Cesspool……….

But still the Oligarchy is not done: it has at least three more years, potentially seven more years. The Swamp will expand and get more odorous for now, become more of a new oligarchy Cesspool. Until the next bubble created by deregulation and natural greed and hubris bursts. Then look out for all the flying “stuff“. Then the new need for “government” help and “regulation”. Back to 2008 and 2009, and……
Perhaps hopefully a more-lasting New Deal (after all, Milton Friedman is dead, along with his brilliant but misguided mind and his Nobel)……….

And the Beat Goes On…..

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Economics of Spanking: Forbes Magazine Allegedly Edified in a Stormy Style……..

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Stormy Daniels Reportedly Spanked Trump With A Copy of Forbes Magazine. In the wake of a Wall Street Journal article that alleges Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid off porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter with now-president Donald Trump, several other stories about Daniels’ rendezvous with Trump have surfaced – including one account that she spanked Trump with a copy of Forbes…… “She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”……..”

Talk about mixing ‘business’ with pleasure…..
I can see Steve Forbes’ famous lopsided smile/grin that some think lost him the Republican nomination so many years ago (he had no chance anyway). His magazine has been edified with the rump of a future (now current) President Trump.

The suddenly-wittier-than-usual Bill Kristol (of Weekly Standard) tweeted that it was a Supply-Side spanking: thus introducing a risky mix of dismal economics with kinky sex.
Which probably (hopefully) tells us what he really thinks of the theoretical underpinnings of the economic policies of Ronald Reagan, Steve Forbes, and possibly Trump (not clear if the latter focuses beyond self-interest). 

Yet I have some doubts about this Stormy story, until I see, hear, read more. No savvy politician or prominent businessman (even some not-so-prominent ones) would engage such services in a hotel room. Probably not even a New York businessman-about-town who is steeped in the culture surrounding beauty pageants and reality shows. There is always the possibility, nay the probability, of electronic recording and taping and blackmail. So all this spank-gate can be fake news as well, even in the case of someone as impulsive as Donald Trump. Maybe, maybe not.

On the other hand: this that allegedly happened, if it happened, was a completely private matter. Besides, there are so many houses of glass around, on both sides.

Either way: way to go, Stormy….

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

The Second Frustration of Prince Bin Salman: a Fiasco in Qatar……

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known affectionately and otherwise as MBS, has had a rocky period. But that is to be expected for a young man who finds himself suddenly at the helm of a country, purely by the coincidence of birth. In my last post I covered briefly his Yemen adventure. But the adventures were not done.

Last Spring came the Qatar fiasco. Qatar generally stood on the Saudi side in the losing Syrian war. But Qatar supported its own version of Islamic Jihadists, not the Salafist Wahhabis that the Saudis funded and armed (who later became AQIS and ISIS). Yet as long as they were both on the same side against the Assad regime things were mostly fine.

But there has been serious tension between the two Gulf states in the past. In the 1990s the Saudis engineered a coup attempt in Doha to overthrow the father of the current Emir and reappoint his predecessor (his father) who was more to their liking. The coup attempt failed, and Qatar continued to be a thorn on the Saudi side. The Qataris also supported and funded the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Saudis (and Emiratis) disliked almost more than the Iranians. Then there was  the Aljazeera network, which was too outspoken on regional issues for the Saudi (and Emirat) taste.

So, finally, after several bouts of alternately making up and breaking up, the dark cloud of Donald Trump and his avaricious clan showed up in Arabia. I posted here at the time that Trump’s visit to the Arabian Peninsula in May of 2017 was a most poisonous visit. Apparently the potentates of Saudi Arabia and the UAE convinced Trump that Qatar was a major source of trouble and terrorism; they also bribed him with promises of hundreds of billions of dollars of arms purchases and investments. Somehow they got the impression that Trump was on their side, and that he would condone any action they might take against the smaller Wahhabi emirate.

So, early in Summer 1917, they announced a complete break with Qatar including land, air and sea blockades, with the support of the Egyptian regime which fears the MB as much as they do. The inexperienced new Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was told that it will be easy, that the Qataris will fold, but that unlike the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Americans will not object.


There were signs of trouble from the start with the campaign against Qatar. First: Oman and Kuwait, almost half the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members refused to join the boycott and blockade and the threat of invasion against Qatar and its citizens. Second: Turkey stepped in to shore up its budding military alliance with Qatar. Third: Iran, which shares a huge gas field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar, opened her airspace and sea lanes and land routes to Qatar in order to go around the closure of the Arab routes. Soon plentiful Turkish and Iranian foods started replacing Arab sources of food and other imports. One pathetic Saudi commentator went so far as to absurdly tell the Qataris on Saudi semi-official Alarabiya TV that their stomachs were not used to Turkish and Iranian food products.

So far the Qatar adventure has failed. Qatar’s rulers  have not become Saudi satraps or an appendix like the rulers of rebellious Bahrain.

Another major miscalculation that has backfired and further weakened the Saudi hold and influence on the GCC alliance.

Stay tuned. More to follow….

GCC AND PLIABLE ARAB REVOLUTIONARIES: QATARI-SAUDI MICRO COLD WAR……

MEDIA WARS: CAN SAUDIS AND QATARIS BUY THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE ARAB WORLD?………

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Bite of History of Jerusalem and Mecca: Donald Trump Bahnhof, DonaldTrumpStrasse, Trump Mosque…….

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“A future train station in Jerusalem near the sacred Western Wall will bear the name of President Donald Trump, Israel’s minister of transportation said Wednesday, calling it an honor bestowed in response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. “The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump — following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post…….”

First- a bit of history: at the beginning of Islam, the small community of Muslims used to pray facing Jerusalem, not Mecca. They did that for some years. At that time Mecca was controlled by pagan Arabs who worshiped idols and statues that lined up the Kaaba. After the Muslims conquered Mecca and its people converted, it became the direction toward which Muslims prayed. Yet Muslims kept their political capital in Madinah (the Prophet did not trust the new Umayyad converts who dominated in Mecca). All that was, of course, long before they conquered Jerusalem and built the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the Caliph Omar.

There is one place outside the USA where Donald Trump is actually popular. The same place Barack Obama was so unpopular: Israel. Then there are a couple of remote places where the populace sees a combination of orange face and orange hair and opines support for their owner. Pockets of Oceania, some former East European allies of the German Reich, pockets in India, etc..

Media report a frenzy in Israel of naming and renaming places and streets after Donald J Trump. In addition to the Western Wall Train Station, there are street-name changes and other renaming. One street used to be Salah-Eldin (Saladin) Street; it is becoming Donald J Trump Street (DonaldTrumpStrasse). That last one probably makes sense, given that the name Saladin is controversial to both sides in the context of the occupied territories: he retook Jerusalem from its last Crusader rulers.


Now I have asked my secret cynical correspondent in the third (and lower) leg of the Middle East tripartite alliance, Saudi Arabia, if there are any similar moves to rename a street or housing development or even a mosque after Donald J Trump. He claims there is no such move, yet. But he hinted that it is likely Trump and Ted Nugent and Sean Hannity may become star attractions at the next Jenadriya Festival (an annual Saudi Desert Hootenanny event).

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Coming Battle of Karbala? What He Should Read about Middle East Sectarian Tensions……..

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“For Iraq, guaranteeing the safety of millions of Shiite faithful on their annual ​pilgrimage to the shrine of a revered saint in Karbala has always been a monumental challenge. The march, the largest annual religious pilgrimage on earth, ​is in defiance of Iraq’s chronic insecurity and the frequent attempts by Sunni militants – including, recently, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters – to derail this event with violence. ​This year, the pilgrimage ​to the shrine of Imam Hussein ​held special resonance, as ISIS in Iraq has been all but defeated in recent months by Iraqi security forces – supported by Iran-backed Shiite militias and a US-led bombing campaign…… The risks of attack were high, but so, too, were the rewards for the millions of Shiite pilgrims whose faith overcomes fear…….“We don’t care about security – we just come,” says Fadl Abbas, a truck driver nursing blistered feet, swollen legs, and a new limp after his 50-mile march……..” Christian Science Monitor

This is one article Donald Trump should read this week, if he were a reading man. Or he can have his son-in-law, his Middle East Gauleiter Jared Kushner, read it. They should both know what they and their regional sidekicks will be facing in the coming months if Arab media reports are true. Reports about what dangerous concoction they are brewing for our native region from Lebanon to the Persian-American Gulf.

They are brewing something from Lebanon to the Gulf, and through Yemen. Even the Gulf Muslim Brotherhood, always opportunistic, are being cagey these days, which means they anticipate a new American-Israeli folly, and that they approve. They have suddenly softened on Israeli and Trump actions in the region. Even the Salafis, the more opportunistic soul mates of ISIS/DAESH and Al Qaeda. Especially the Salafist fifth columnists, are eerily silent, waiting for those they have always called the “crusaders” and the “descendants of monkeys and pigs” to start a bloody sectarian war on their behalf. Obama knew what they sought and he denied them. He would not bluster himself into a new war, as he elaborated in an interview that was dubbed the Obama Doctrine on the Gulf.

The vast controlled media of the absolute kings are also hinting at something coming soon. Salivating at the prospect of foreign bombs blasting yet more Arab and Muslim targets on their behalf. 

A new Battle of Karbaba waged by Trump and Netanyahu as the new Umayyads, on behalf of a couple of kings and their Salafist proxies. Its battlefield to be the whole Middle East region and part of North Africa.

Remember: for years the Salafist Wahhabis kept bombing in Iraq, killing civilians, almost every day since 2003. Fourteen years of insecurity and massacres against the Shi’a (Shiite) pilgrims and their annual march to Karbala. And against many Sunnis and all Christians. Yet the pilgrims keep coming by the millions: more than the numbers that do the annual Haj in Hijaz. They keep coming by the millions, risking death. No lethal stampedes there. The march/pilgrimage was banned by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, but resumed after his defeat. Terrorism has only made it a bigger event than ever, it increased the defiance. A new foreign war of aggression will almost certainly make them even more defiant.

Just keep it in mind. Remember, it is not all about the money and the contracts and the bluster. You don’t want to be seen as the foreign interloper who replaces Saddam or the Umayyad Dynasty……

If he is not very careful here, he may end up famously complaining, again: “nobody knew that meddling in 15-century-old Muslim sectarian tensions could be so complicated…. even more complicated than trying to dismantle the health care system……
Stay tuned…..

Cheers anyway   

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Obama Complex: Creating Fake News, Domestic and Global Chaos, New Muslim Wars……

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Media reports and official statements (General John Kelly) indicate that Kim Jong Un (Trump’s Rocket Man of North Korea) is close to developing a re-entry system for his long-range nuclear delivery missiles.

Donald Trump is studiously avoiding action on this serious potential threat to the West Coast of the United States. He will continue to fight Kim sporadically with words and tweets while he focuses on what he thinks is an easier target, the country that is not seeking nuclear weapons, more significantly the country that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, renounced nuclear weapons and does not have them. Iran.

Trump is making daily noises about destroying the international JCPOA deal that keeps Iran from going nuclear. If later today, as widely expected, he declares Iran non-compliant, nobody anywhere in the world will believe him. Not even his own cabinet members and top Pentagon generals. Not even his reprehensible foreign cheerleaders: mainly his co-serial-liar Netanyahu and the usual couple of absolute Arab kings who are urging him to go to war (in exchange for billions of dollars). No doubt he himself does not believe what he says about it. It could be even worse if he actually believed his own ‘facts’. The Iranians are already milking Trump’s noise and threats for all their worth, and it is working in Europe and Asia and in Turkey and several Arab countries.

For Trump this is not so much about Iran or nuclear weapons, not even about Fox News warmongering. It is part of a pattern now: it is all about Barack Obama, about undoing everything that ‘uppity’ black president did while in the White Office.
It is about the birther Trump’s obsession with his Obama Complex.
It might eventually lead to the second time since 2003 that the USA goes to a messy war of choice in the Middle East, based on a self-created lie.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump the Peacemaker: New Apostle of Wahhabi Islam and Virgin Drivers……

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“The imam of the grand mosque of Mecca has claimed Donald Trump, the US and Saudi Arabia are “steering the world to peace”, in comments during a visit to New York that sparked an outcry on social media. They are “steering the world and humanity to the ports of security, peace and prosperity,” he added, claiming that the two countries should unite to “combat terrorism” and to “realise security and international peace”. The conference, on ‘Civilisational communication between the United States of America and the Islamic World‘…….”

No doubt the royal princes are now throwing all their eggs into the basket of Donald Trump. George W Bush refused to do their bidding in the Persian Gulf and wage another war after Iraq. Barack Obama mocked their sectarian war demands in his Atlantic Magazine interview. They have tried to get Netanyahu to go to war on their behalf, but he is no fool: he has been all talk and no action as far as my Gulf is concerned.

During the Riyadh Summit/Circus last May, I posted here about Donald Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam. I was referring to the extremely deferential way the Saudi leaders treated Donald Trump, knowing his proclivity for praise (and money). His near-anointment as a sort of guardian of Islam (to the cheers of General Al Sisi, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka). Even the top Saudi clerics in Mecca praised Trump in their speeches during the summit (as they were allegedly ordered to do so).

Now comes the “mother of all praises”. The Imam of the Holy Shrine in Mecca, no less, has opined that the world depends on the Saudi king and Donald Trump for peace. Now, you can’t kiss it lower or better than this. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will believe all this. The Saudi king, like all Arab kings, knows better. They also know his weaknesses: they are buying Trump, and not only with money….


In 2011, a Saudi scholar/cleric wrote a study for the appointed Shura Council about women and driving. In it he warned that if Saudi women were allowed to drive, that would be the end of virginity in the magic kingdom. The men were given a choice: women drivers or virginity. Possibly something in the local water made a woman go wild as soon as she got hold of a car’s steering wheel (rather suggestive, don’t you think?).
Apparently all this has changed, now the Wahhabi clerics believe that Saudi women can drive and keep their virginity….


I suspect President Donald Trump can now publicly take credit for this new driving policy that also allows women to keep their virginity even as they drive cars.
Interesting times we live in, no?

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Epithets at the UN: Rogue Nations vs. Rogue Politicians…..

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President Trump called Iran a “rogue nation” in his speech to the UN General assembly on Tuesday. This is an American political staple, an epithet US politicians often use for nations that they have disputes with, especially Iran. It implies a high degree of outlaw behavior. Of course most regimes/government commit some outlaw behavior abroad, if they can get away with it. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani returned the favor: he called Mr. Trump a “rogue newcomer to world politics“. He also called him ignorant and hateful, unfit to be at the United Nations. He also returned the favor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by calling him the leader of a “rogue and racist regime”.


So, now we have a duel of rogue regimes, apparently. But if every government calls its opponents “rogue” regimes, then that means the whole world is composed of rogue regimes….. assuming all have the same degree of credibility….
Nicht war?

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum