Hey, I finally joined Twitter! I have almost no Twitter followers, of course – I think it’s five, or six – but if you’re selective in who you decide to follow yourself, you can tune in on a fascinating series of little information packets, almost like an intelligence feed, on everything of any significance that’s going on out there.
I made the difficult decision not to follow @realDonaldTrump. There are some good reasons to know what filthy lies he’s spewing, and of course there’s the morbid curiosity factor, Trump’s output amounting to the Twitter equivalent of watching a screaming schizophrenic on the subway jerking off while he hollers about how the government turned his pet cat into a gay basset hound, but I figure I can rely on others to keep me apprised. All the mainstream news outlets have a Twitter feed these days, as do some very worthwhile and interesting people, like Ezra Klein of Vox (whom I love unconditionally), Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes of MSNBC (ditto), Michelle Goldberg and Paul Krugman over at the New York Times (superb – hey, I’m a liberal, OK?), and perhaps my favourite, David Simon, the author, journalist and writer who’s been behind some of the best TV ever aired. His work includes the NBC series of the 1990s, Homicide, and of course HBO’s The Wire, arguably the best thing ever shown on television (this is always a fun argument to have!).
The earlier series was based on a non-fiction book Simon wrote about the Baltimore murder police, and included what for many years was regarded as the finest hour ever aired on commercial TV, “Subway”. It’s a self-contained episode dramatizing the plight of all concerned when a commuter gets pushed and ends up jammed between a subway car and the platform, alive, but doomed as soon as the train is moved. It was so good that PBS aired a two hour documentary on how the show was made. You can view it (albeit in pieces) here, if you’re up to it, but I warn you, no human being has ever been reliably identified who watched it without suffering a broken heart:
Sorry, I’m blitheringly digressive as usual. This is why nobody reads my blog. I keep telling myself, Graeme, I tell myself, this is just exactly why your blog is the least-visited site on all of WordPress, but it never sinks in! Where was I? Oh yeah, the point is, David Simon’s Twitter feed is not only hilarious, but reliably comments upon just about everything that’s worthwhile or noteworthy going on in the world at large. He’s also vulgar and full of white-hot rage, which is to say, my kind of guy, and he’s very creative in the epithets he invents for people he doesn’t like, such as “useless fuckmook”, “shitsquib”, “scrotepeck”, and variations like “fuckstumble” and “stumblemook”. This was his tweet in response to a Meet the Press post announcing that fully six out of ten Americans don’t think Trump should be re-elected:
So this morning, Simon alerted me to a truly horrifying NBC news story that I’d missed, and folks, really, this is a doozy:
JESUS CHRIST! Apologies, let me take a moment to contain myself…
So, to back up, recall that Saudi Wonder Boy and disguised thug Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince and heir apparent of that oil-rich kingdom of theocrats and beheaded apostates, decided that an ex-pat journalist working for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, was a royal pain in his royal ass. He was a lucid and persuasive critic. Long story short, Khashoggi was in Turkey and had a need to visit the Saudi Consulate there, and MBS, keeping track of his movements, took this as an opportunity to fly in a hit squad of five assassins, bone saw and all, to murder the poor fellow in ways too gruesome to recount.
Though this is just the kind of thing he’d dearly love to do to his own journalists, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan took great umbrage at this butchery upon his sovereign soil, and has been putting the diplomatic squeeze on MBS ever since. This seems to be as some sort of power play for leadership in the Muslim world, or perhaps an attempt to put the squeeze on Trump, who’s known to be enamoured of MBS. Erdogan’s steady and highly embarrassing pressure caused a great deal of flustered back-pedalling in the Desert Kingdom, prompting MBS to arrest his own assassins and submit them to a criminal “justice” system which will undoubtedly oblige by lopping off their heads in front of a cheering crowd on the streets of Jeddah. Yet this wasn’t enough to quell the shitstorm.
Still with me? This is when The Donald enters the picture. Donald loves all strongmen, everywhere, and both of these guys are US allies to boot, so as the diplomatic crisis evolved he found himself in the vexed position of Gilligan trying to choose between Ginger and Mary-Ann – each is so wonderful, how to pick?
Keen to thwart any blowback for MBS, Trump did his usual tap-dance with the press, and went on about how Saudi Arabia is responsible for jobs and military purchases in the United States, which, as his puffery evolved, ended up being something like 500 billion worth of procurement and a million jobs – hilariously extravagant lies, of course – so how could he do anything to damage that relationship?
Fine, but this didn’t fix things with Turkey. Trump wanted to insulate MBS from his just desserts, but the job was only half finished unless something could be done to placate Erdogan. The Turk was a hard guy to strong-arm, and anyway it went against the grain to push around a foreign potentate who’s obviously a great guy too, terrific guy, and a great leader, let me tell you, I’m hearing he’s doing great things with the economy and many, many other things, even though the Fake News criticizes him, which is Disgraceful! For various reasons, relations between Turkey and the US were already strained, which obviously was a bad thing, and now this. There had to be some way to throw his Turkish pal a bone.
Now NBC reports that Trump had one of his bright ideas. See, the US has long harboured a Turkish dissident, a cleric and vocal critic named Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has actually been exiled in the US for about two decades, so you might think his relevance to current events would be limited, but he has a lot of followers, and Erdogan just despises him. After the failed coup attempt a couple of years back, Erdogan accused Gulen of being in on the plotting, and ratcheted up his demands that the cleric be delivered to Turkey. One can imagine what comes next for Gulen if that happens.
Trump was probably crouched on the crapper at four one morning, hate-tweeting, when it hit him in a flash: that’s it. He’d send Gulen to Turkey, if Erdogan agreed to lay off of MBS. Why, it was perfect! Both dictators placated in a stroke! Genius!
The NBC report, which you can read here:
details how Trump approached federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways to hand Gulen over to Erdogan, including formal requests to Justice and the FBI that Turkey’s extradition demands be reconsidered.
One hopes that the career professionals in these agencies are figuring out ways to spike this horrid idea, but just think of it for a second. The United States President was, to loosely quote David Simon, scheming to deliver a US resident into the tender embrace of one foreign despot in order to help insulate another foreign despot from the consequences of brutally assassinating another US resident.
Of all of Trump’s betrayals of everything America is supposed to stand for, of all the things he might do to permanently eradicate the last remnants of America’s standing amongst its liberal democratic allies, this just has to be among the worst. Other Presidents have been equally cavalier with human lives, I guess, and in a much larger numbers, but there’s just something so cold-blooded about these maneuverings. To the extent this can be substantiated, this plotting against a person sheltered against persecution on US soil should in itself be grounds for Trump’s removal from office. It’s treachery. Skullduggery, pure and simple. For the love of Christ, America is where you run to escape tyranny, not the unprincipled shithole that sends you gift-wrapped back to the tyrant.
My question is, how big a deal is anybody going to make of this? Who really cares? Will this be just another rancid Trump story, more faint signal amid the noise? Will anybody give this horror the focused attention it deserves?
Who stands, now, to speak for decency?
I’m beside myself. My needles are in the red. I’m approaching my maximum outrage capacity. This is unfortunate, really, because another outrage, perhaps almost as big, will probably be reported before dinner.