(Photo: Trump with the project's CEO Hary Tanoesoedibjo. Richard Drew/Associated Press)
On the topic of unemployment, pardon the sports metaphor but Rachel Maddow likes to say Donald Trump was born on third base while insisting he hit a triple. We all know the truth: the steady decline in American joblessness has been in progress since President Obama signed the March, 2009 stimulus package. Indeed, every chart of nearly every economic indicator shows an almost immediate change for the better as of that bill's passage.
Trump, on the other hand, thinks his very existence as well as, I don't know, allowing coal companies to dump toxic sludge into rivers and streams (many of them drinking water sources) has suddenly created a massive trend of job creation that didn't exist before. Long gone are the days when Trump would cite "American carnage" in the job market. Long gone are the days when Trump would shriek about the "real" unemployment rate or the "labor participation rate" -- neither of which have appeared in a single Trump speech since his inauguration.
As I wrote the other day, none of these details matter to the gullible Red Hats.
If Trump said he invented the question mark, the Trumpers would believe every word. Likewise, it's obvious they'll line up to support Trump in his out-of-nowhere quest to create jobs for China and one of its largest telecoms, ZTE, despite the fact that Trump routinely scolded China for manipulating currency, for raping the American economy, for stealing our intellectual property and for being unfair in its trade practices. Additionally, ZTE has violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea while developing tech aimed at spying on American citizens.
Consequently, Trump's Sunday tweet about ZTE is utterly stupefying.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
...Stupefying, that is, until we learn what's really going on behind the scenes with China and Trump. It turns out that China just approved a colossal government loan to a building project that includes numerous Trump-branded properties.
A subsidiary of Chinese state-owned construction firm Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) signed a deal with Indonesia’s MNC Land to build a theme park outside Jakarta as part of the ambitious project, the company said on Thursday.
The deal is the latest to raise questions about the extent of Trump’s financial exposure to Beijing.
The park – expected to be backed with up to US$500 million in Chinese government loans – is part of an “integrated lifestyle resort”, known as MNC Lido City.
The project includes Trump-branded hotels, residences and a golf course, as well as other hotel, shopping and residential developments.
This news dropped less than 48 hours before Trump's tweet about ZTE.
The president is up to his beady, pasty eyeballs in conflicts of interest here and it's more than obvious that he's setting policy based on whether he'll personally benefit. The Trump kleptocracy continues as he exploits his presidency to enrich himself and his family. It's all happening out in the open and everyone knows it, yet Trump rolls on -- unobstructed and without shame.
We already know Trump earns a hefty profit by dragging his massive presidential entourage to Mar-a-lago and other Trump-owned resorts every week. We already know that Michael Cohen has collected millions of dollars in a pay-for-play arrangement, and it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Trump has pocketed some of that cash. We also know that Trump's constant defense of Russia in the face of the largest cyber-attack in the history of civilization is likely due to Trump's financial links to Russia and Russia-related money. I'm not going out on a limb to observe that it's possible Trump is building a Putin-style oligarchy inside the U.S., engaging in a clear effort to funnel public money into Trump's private bank accounts.
And now, Trump is defying his own campaign promises and the "America First" slogan he ripped off from previous despots in order to make untold sums of cash with a Chinese-government backed amusement park in Jakarta -- and all this during a trade war against China and just before his totally inexplicable pledge to help a sanctions scofflaw, ZTE. It's worth noting, too, that John Bolton said on CNN the other day that the U.S. intends to punish NATO allies who do business with Iran. Yep, our allies, while clearly ZTE is getting a waiver.
Again, it all so obvious while the GOP, also on the take, waves us off: Nothing to see here.