Sunday, November 12, 2017

Documents, and different things

Operatic Monkey, via, is a great hero, and in the end of the story a Buddhist saint, but the part of the story everybody loves is the part where he's making maximum trouble.

Remarks from the press availability aboard Air Force One, on the way to Hanoi, this morning:
It's been a -- I think it's been a great trip. In certain ways, it's been very epic. I think things have happened that have been really amazing. Prime Minister Abe came up to me just at the end, and he said that since you left South Korea and Japan, that those two countries are now getting along much, much better. That's from Prime Minister Abe -- that there's been a real bonding between South Korea and Japan. So that was great.
Yes, they're working as hard as they can to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement without the United States. Since Trump ended US membership in the TPP at the beginning of his term and pulled out of the US-South Korea FTA in September, they've seen more and more incentive to work together, in spite of the obvious rivalry between the two similar economies, through the current insanity. They have to come up with ways of stabilizing the situation without US participation, and they hope to do it without surrendering to Chinese hegemony. It's the same for Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. They are united in the face of the threat posed by Donald Trump to the Asia-Pacific order.

Q In the past, American presidents have felt the obligation to raise issues about human rights abuses. Do you feel like that's an obligation and that's something that you feel is important to do?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I do. But I also raise issues on many other things. I mean, I have an obligation -- we lost, last year, with China, depending on the way you do your numbers, because you can do them a numbers of way -- anywhere from $350 [billion] to $504 billion. That's with one country. I’m going to fix that. And I've got to fix what we have with Mexico, who was there today too, who I also have a very good relationship with. And I have a great relationship with France. Some of you were in France with me, with the Eiffel Tower dinner. We have a great relationship with Emmanuel.
Mexico was there for the TPP negotiations too. I've learned from Dr. Google where that $504 billion figure comes from, which has seemed inexplicable to The Times, by the way: it's the total trade deficit of the US against all foreign countries, not just China, for 2016. Trump just can't tell the difference, or take enough of an interest.

The obsession with defining his relationships with the foreign leaders in terms of what kind of show they put on to entertain him and make him feel like an emperor led to some funny stuff in China:
They say in the history of people coming to China, there's been nothing like that. And I believe it. Did you see the show? Did most of you see the show or part of the show afterwards? It was incredible. The opera was great too, but the following night -- that was the first time that theater has been used at the Forbidden City in over a hundred years. You know that. They prepared the theater for that -- the first time in over a hundred years.
That's true, apparently, about the three-story opera stage of the Pavilion of Delightful Melody, Changyin Ge, built by the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95), but especially favored by the Dowager Empress Cixi in the years leading up to the 1911 revolution. While Mao Zedong and more recently President Xi Jinping have enjoyed some emperor-like powers, they have not wished to look like emperors, from the time of feudal exploitation and backwardness ended by the Revolution, but Donald of course is happy to do so. Whether or not there was anything snarky in the choice of repertoire, one of the three fairly extended set-piece Peking opera excerpts presented the anarchical antics of the Monkey King who ravages Heaven and steals the peaches of immortality from the garden of the gods.
But when we can -- I mean, you'll be seeing the release that's put out. But we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved and getting Ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia is a great, great thing.
And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way. It gets in the way. And that's a shame because people will die because of it. And it's a pure hit job. And it's artificially induced. And it's a shame. But anyway.
I think the people who will die are the Syrians whose lives would be saved "by making a deal with Russia". He's said to Putin, "I'd really love to solve Syria. Hey Vladimir, why don't we solve Syria? It shouldn't be hard!" and Putin says, "Unfortunately I can't, because of those damn sanctions," and Trump says, "Oh, man, those Democrats won't let me do anything about the sanctions. They'll say it's all because of the peepee tape. Can I have that peepee tape?" And Putin says, "Donald, you know I can't give you that peepee tape, my people won't let me. Until you lift the sanctions."

Afterwards, he got to watch some Fox, it seems, and he saw Fox was covering the thing about his believing Putin's repeated assurance that the Russian government did no interfering with the 2016 election in the US, against the consensus view of the entire US intelligence community and the evidence it began sharing with him in August 2016. ("Believe it or not," he told the press, "even when I'm in Washington and New York, I do not watch much television. I know they like to say -- people that don't know me, they like to say I watch television. People with fake sources -- you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don't get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I'm reading documents a lot, and different things").

Seeing the story, which is really pathetic, on his own friendly screen may have made him feel more beleaguered than ever, even a little freaked out. And then he did some tweeting, under the stimulus.

That last bit, from the I Hate Rosie O'Donnell school of high diplomacy, is pretty astounding. He's very tired. My thoughts and prayers with him and his family, I don't think he can do this much longer.

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