I’m Supposed To Be Surprised?

Instead of focusing on a single story like I do on most Sundays I’d like to briefly explore several. There is nothing new or astounding here; just the same pattern of shameful behavior we are growing accustomed to seeing out of Donald Trump’s White House. Let’s explore.

After 41 days of dangling a lie before the American public, Trump finally admitted that he did not have tapes of his conversation with James Comey in the Green Room. Please note that this revelation came just hours short of a congressional deadline demanding the tapes. I am among the multitude who never thought the tapes existed in the first place. Furthermore, I feel if they had Trump would have destroyed them because they would have only verified Comey’s version of events.

In recent days Trump kicked the hornets’ nest that is the Middle East by going hard after Qatar. Not only was the move unanticipated by both the Defense and State Departments it didn’t add up when you consider our key Middle East military base is in Qatar. I’m not going to either attack or defend Qatar’s actions here; my point is that since they host our Middle East military command center an abrupt move against them isn’t in our interests. There was much speculation that Trump simply didn’t realize we had a base there let alone its importance. Considering his military and diplomatic ignorance that seemed plausible.

I retooled my thinking on the topic when I became privy to a not well known fact last week: Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied petroleum gas. That is the shippable form of natural gas. Despite some claims to the contrary, big petroleum loves and supports Trump. He is known to have personal petroleum investments. You connect those dots. Here is a hint: Less competition yields higher prices and with them higher profits.

The Republican Senate leadership (a/k/a Mitch McConnell) finally unveiled their health care plan (the Better Care Reconciliation Act) on Thursday. It looks remarkably like the House bill. Why wouldn’t it? The Republicans were never interested in fashioning a health care bill; it was a tax cut from the start. The whole idea of it is to give the very wealthy (like Trump) a huge tax break. If in the process they take health care away from 20 or 25 million Americans they simply do not care. Again it is all about the money for themselves and their largest donors. Rich people write big checks to Republican candidates. Poor people can’t. For people like Trump it is a double win; he gets a huge tax break and donations.

The bill looks like it is in very serious doubt of being able to get 50 votes in the Senate. If so why are Trump and McConnell pursuing it? If it passes, successfully gets through conference committee and the ratifying votes it is a fulfilled campaign promise that the Republicans can run on in 2018. Their base will love it and the negative effects can be shielded by delayed implementation. (Nobody thinks long-term in Washington anymore.) Win or lose Trump likes the idea that it takes time away from Russiagate which is the biggest threat to his presidency. Win or lose Don McConnell can tell Don Trump he held up his end of the bargain so keep the money flowing his (or Elaine’s) way. Think of their relationship as two organized crime bosses sharing a turf.

Now here is the one that mostly snuck under the radar. The Washington Post reported that buried in the Trump budget proposal is the slashing of most HUD housing subsidies. Interestingly one program that didn’t get slashed is one that pays rent subsidies directly to landlords. Trump just happened to derive about $5 million in income from that program last year mostly from his ownership stake (his family also owns part of this project) in Starrett City, a huge public housing project in Brooklyn. Just to ensure nothing goes wrong Trump has nominated Lynne Patton to oversee HUD projects in New York. Patton’s qualifications appear to be closeness to son Eric Trump; she was his wedding planner – that is her profession.

While I find these revelations repulsive, I don’t find them surprising. This administration is a self-serving organized criminal enterprise.

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