By Robert A. Vella

I’ll only briefly cover this weekend’s threatening rhetoric between President Trump and Iran’s leadership because such bluster is unsurprising considering the circumstances and not particularly meaningful.  They hate each other, we get it.  While Trump vowed to destroy Iranian cultural sites as if that was some sort of deterrent to retribution (it isn’t), Iran declared it will directly attack U.S. military facilities as if that posed a real danger to U.S. hegemony (it doesn’t).  Neither makes any tactical or strategic sense, and only because Trump is so irrational do I think his threat is slightly more plausible.  In my opinion, Trump is trying to bully Iran into submission like he has tried to do to all of his opponents and rivals;  and, Iran is offering up a ruse to confuse Trump about its actual intentions like a bullfighter uses a muleta.

But, today’s focus in on the madman Trump running amok internationally and domestically.  When two GOP senators expressed criticism over the holidays about Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s coordination with Trump regarding his pending impeachment trial (see:  Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she’s ‘disturbed’ by McConnell’s comments on White House coordination and Second Republican Senator, Susan Collins, Criticizes Mitch McConnell for Impeachment Bias, Says She’s Open to Calling Witnesses), Trump got very nervous.  Although Trump knows that the Senate is unlikely to remove him from office, his fragile ego simply cannot tolerate any dissent especially from Republicans.  Trump desperately wants total vindication and, if he can’t get it, he’ll do whatever he can to discredit the charges, undermine the process, or distract the American people from it.  That, IMO, was his triggering motivation for assassinating the Iranian general which caused this perilous crisis.

However, Trump had other motives as well.  As a corrupt anarcho-capitalist allied with powerful business interests (e.g. the oil industry) and the anti-Iranian Middle East coalition led by Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump is both ideologically and geopolitically hostile towards Iran.  Furthermore, with his reelection prospects later this year looking problematic at best, Trump is frantically looking to change the current political dynamics.  He may see this violent confrontation with Iran as an opportunity to do so;  although, as we shall see in the following articles, the historical record for such ploys shows only temporary boosts of support and little electoral success.

Meanwhile, Trump is defying a court order to turn over documentary evidence regarding his attempt to coerce the Ukrainian government by withholding congressionally-approved military aid, and another Republican congressman has announced his retirement.

From:  As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure

WASHINGTON — In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump.

They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.

From:  In Era of Perpetual Conflict, a Volatile President Grabs Expanded Powers to Make War

WASHINGTON — The powers of an American president to wage war have grown stronger for nearly two decades, ever since the Sept. 11 attacks led the United States into an era of perpetual conflict.

Those powers are now in the hands of the most volatile president in recent memory.

President Trump’s decision to authorize the killing of a top Iranian military leader could be the match that sets off a regional conflagration, or it could have only marginal geopolitical impact like so many of the targeted killings ordered by Mr. Trump and his predecessors. But it is just the latest example of the capricious way in which the president, as commander in chief, has chosen to flex his lethal powers.

From his dealings with Iran, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, Mr. Trump has shown little evidence over the past three years that his decisions about war and peace are made after careful deliberation or serious consideration of the consequences.

From:  Department of Homeland Security sends out new terrorism threat bulletin in wake of Soleimani killing

The Department of Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin in the wake of top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s killing in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump.


The bulletin cites the killing of Soleimani as the catalyst for increased threats of retaliation from Iran, though “at this time, we have no information indicating a specific, credible threat to the Homeland. Iran and its partners, such as Hizballah, have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct operations in the United States.”

From:  Protests across U.S. condemn action in Iran and Iraq

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators in dozens of cities around the U.S. gathered Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s killing of an Iranian general and decision to send thousands of additional soldiers to the Middle East.

More than 70 planned protests were organized by CODEPINK and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, a U.S.-based anti-war coalition, along with other groups.

From Tampa to Philadelphia and San Francisco to New York, protesters carried signs and chanted anti-war slogans.

From:  Trump thought war with Iran could help reelect Obama. What about Trump?

Ever since the controversial decision to kill a high-ranking Iranian military official in Baghdad on Thursday, Trump’s critics have anxiously pointed to his past commentary on the politics of war with Iran. Trump repeatedly in 2011 and 2012 predicted Barack Obama would attack Iran because it was the only way he would be reelected. Trump was doubly wrong: The attack never came, and Obama won comfortably anyway.

But as he confronts his own difficult reelection math and a standoff with Iran, it’s worth considering whether Trump might be making a similar calculation for himself — however cynical that thought might be.

What we can say at this point: There’s little reason to believe it would help.

Pollsters and political analysts often talk about a “rally around the flag” effect that comes when the United States is attacked or launches new military campaigns. And there is something to that. But it’s often quite short-lived, and there’s little evidence it has actually helped any recent president win reelection.

From:  White House Withholds 20 Emails Between Two Trump Aides on Ukraine Aid

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration disclosed on Friday that there were 20 emails between a top aide to President Trump’s acting chief of staff and a colleague at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget discussing the freeze of a congressionally mandated military aid package for Ukraine.

But in response to a court order that it swiftly process those pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, lawsuit filed by The New York Times, the Office of Management and Budget delivered a terse letter saying it would not turn over any of the 40 pages of emails — not even with redactions.


The Times’s information act request sought email messages between Robert Blair, a top aide to Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who was in charge of handling the process for releasing $391 million in weapons and security assistance Congress had appropriated to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression.

Tennessee’s [Phil] Roe becomes 26th House Republican to retire in 2020

23 thoughts on “Sunday Focus: A madman runs amok

  1. This buffoon in our White House has no concept of foreign diplomacy, forming Allies and Coalitions, utilizing proper channels prior to flash-pot volatile events that always have some level of domino effect, e.g. … (since I follow everything futebol/football)…


    or proper decorum when it comes to public speaking. And the above article (ripple effect) is just regarding sports! Imagine all the other Americans traveling the globe for other obligations. This Administration has been America’s most embarrassing, shameful four years since Richard Nixon. tRump makes Nixon look like an alter boy! 😔

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Robert, it may be true that using military strikes in the past hasn’t had a lasting effect on political situations, but I fear this situation may be a little different.

    trump has acquired something of a religious following. It’s literally insane, considering he’s so vile and dangerous, but millions of people just seem to need to very little to be willing to support him. It truly is an amazing phenomenon, something that should be studied in depth so humanity can avoid it ever happening again.

    Also, the timing of attacks, if cleverly done and advertised properly, could make it work even with a short span of time in corporate media hands.

    Obviously, I hope I’m wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s much more than a religious following. It’s an insidious cult similar to Hitler’s. This social phenomena has been intensely studied. We know how and why it forms. We know its internal and external dynamics. The reasons why people see it as something new is because it has never happened in America before, and because our collective appreciation of history is so poor.

      That said, Trump’s cult is numerically limited. It cannot yet wield unilateral power. The majority of the public opposes him. Even the corporate media is wise to him. Trump’s wag-the-dog maneuver against Iran is readily transparent whereas previous examples (e.g. the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the invasion of Iraq) were opaque at least for a few years. Furthermore, Trump does not have the credibility which his predecessors had including even Bush, Jr.

      This dangerous provocation of Iran reflects only Trump’s megalomania, impulsiveness, and ignorance. Strategically, it was incredibly stupid.

      Liked by 3 people

      • It was definitely stupid, but I’m sure he believes it will help him in November. I think it might reinvigorate some of his base, but I’m more afraid of election fraud than of war mobilizing his less than enthusiastic supporters to show up.

        Sadly, I’m tired of continually seeing the bar lowered into the murky depths of mass mental illness and overt depravity. I’m not sure anything would surprise me anymore. And, amazingly, I have to confess that I thought the despicable Reagan administration was rock bottom. Seriously. I thought we were going to swing back toward caring more about our fellow citizens after that debacle. Boy, was I wrong. In a huge way. 😳

        Thanks for your coverage and incisive analyses.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Election fraud is a very serious threat. However, Trump’s supporters are certainly not “less than enthusiastic” about voting for him this year – quite the contrary, in fact; although, there are fewer of them than in 2016.

          We on the political Left typically have an illuminating epiphany about human nature at some point in our lives. Mine came in 1980 when I boldly proclaimed that “Americans would never elect an actor as president.” Man, was I wrong! The sad truth is that the values we share (i.e. peace, love, altruism, etc.) are not commonly shared by the entire populace. It’s probably our greatest failing because we consistently underestimate what other people are capable of. We simply cannot afford to live in a dream world of our own creation anymore. It’s long past the time to wake up and see the world for what it actually is.

          Liked by 1 person

      • At a much smaller degree in terms of numbers, there’s also America’s Peoples Temple cult under the Rev. Jim Jones. I guess the younger generations of Americans know little about this religious cult and the way it self-destructed.

        Liked by 2 people

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