Patterico's Pontifications


Deal Struck: Turkey Agrees To 5-Day Ceasefire, No New U.S. Sanctions (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:14 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vice-President Mike Pence made the announcement:

After an hours-long meeting, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday afternoon that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria.

The vice president said Turkey would pause its invasion for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish allies to withdraw from the safe zone of the border region. Pence said the leaders committed to defeating ISIS and renewed an agreement to “coordinate efforts on detention facilities and internally displaced persons in formerly ISIS-controlled areas.”

The U.S. agreed not to put new sanctions in place and to end the current sanctions if the ceasefire holds.

It appears that the Kurds will comply with the agreement:

The commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria has told Kurdish TV that they will abide by a cease-fire agreement announced in Ankara by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Mazloum Abdi tells Ronahi TV that the extent of the cease-fire stretches 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the town of Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ayn.

That appeared to conflict with Turkey’s insistence that its “safe zone” from which Kurdish forces must be removed should stretch the entire length of the border from the Euphrates River to Iraq.

“We will do whatever we can for the success of the cease-fire agreement,” Mazloum said Thursday, describing it as a “tentative agreement.”

President Trump was exultant on Twitter:

It depends on one’s definition of “tough love”:

Meanwhile, Turkish prime minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference that, “this is not a cease fire”:

“The US side has accepted the necessity of a safe zone to protect Turkey’s security interests. And we have reached a full agreement for the Turkish army to control this zone,” he told a news conference in Ankara.

“This is not a ceasefire, a ceasefire can only be made only between two legitimate sides,” he said, adding that withdrawing Kurdish fighters will return their heavy weapons and destroy their fortifications.

Winners and losers: :

It sounds like Erdogan’s going to get everything he wants here, a territory cleansed of Kurds, and he’ll get it without having to risk the lives of any more Turkish troops. Even better for him, if the Kurds refuse to retreat, Erdogan can then start shooting again and claim that it’s the Kurds who are defying the United States now, not him.

And this:

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory. Serious questions remain about how the decision was reached precipitously to withdraw from Syria and why that decision was reached,” Romney said.


“Adding insult to dishonor, the administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty,” Romney said. “We once abandoned a red line. Now we abandon an ally.”

“The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history,” Romney continued.

UPDATE: Reports are coming in that Turkey has already violated the ceasefire:

Shelling and artillery fire was reported Friday in the border town of Ras al-Ain, one of the targets of Turkey’s week-old offensive against Kurdish fighters, who have long been backed by the United States.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told CNN that shelling by the Turkish military and the Syrian rebel proxies supporting them has hit a number of civilian areas in Ras al-Ain, including a hospital. The SDF says five fighters were killed in the attack.

“SDF are committed to the ceasefire, but from last night until this morning we are seeing shelling on Ras al-Ain by the Turkish military and its mercenaries on SDF and civilian Kurdish targets, and in particular on the Ras al-Ain hospital in the city this morning,” SDF Press Commander Merivan Qamishlo said.

“The situation inside the Ras al-Ain Hospital is catastrophic. Three ambulance vehicles belonging to the Kurdish Red Crescent were prevented from entering and were shot at. The city is completely surrounded by air and ground from the Turkish military,” he added.


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Confirmed: President Trump To Host Next Year’s G-7 At His Miami Golf Resort

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:39 am

[guest post by Dana]

While President Trump may not directly benefit financially from hosting the event at his property, the Trump Organization will most certainly benefit with a significant shot in the arm to the Trump Brand, likely resulting in an increase of national and international tourism to the resort, and his other properties. It’s disingenuous to believe that such a high-profile meeting involving some of the world’s most prominent leaders wouldn’t benefit the Trump Organization:

[A]cting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced…that next year’s G-7 meeting will be held at President Trump’s resort in Doral, Florida between June 10 and 12.

The decision to hold the G-7 meeting at the Trump National Doral Golf Club had been bandied about for months — since Trump made a pitch to have next year’s summit at the resort during August’s G-7 conference in France – and has created controversy amid concerns over the ethics of the president personally profiting off an official government event.

During a rare and contentious White House press briefing, Mulvaney tried to assuage concerns about any emoluments violations by the president by telling the media that Trump will not make any money off the event. He said the golf club will be providing the location and services at cost.

“The president has made it clear that he doesn’t profit from being here…“The resort is doing it at cost…it’s much cheaper to do it at Doral than at other sites.”

When I originally posted about the possibility of the G-7 being held at Doral, I noted that there were already concerns about the conflict of interest, given that the President had never divested from the Trump Organization:

The Washington Post reports that Trump has long pushed to hold next year’s G7 at the Doral but has seen some internal resistance from people concerned about the ethics of such a decision. The problem is that Trump has never divested from his company, the Trump Organization, meaning he would personally profit from the summit’s coming to the Doral.

He dismissed the concerns speaking to reporters Monday. “In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money,” he said. He added that being president costs him between $3 billion and $5 billion a year, a claim he said he would soon back up with evidence.

Today, Mulvaney defended the decision when asked about bad optics amid Trump’s accusations about Joe Biden pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor looking into a company where Hunter Biden sat on the board:

Mulvaney was also questioned about the optics of how hosting the event at Doral would look – and any possible financial gains the president would get from the summit – in light of Trump’s unfounded claims that former Vice President Joe Biden used his office to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing top prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating a company where his son was on the board.

The former vice president has acknowledged publicly that he pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin but denied it had any relation to his son’s business dealings in the country. Biden said his actions were in line with pressure from other foreign leaders to fire the prosecutor.

Mulvaney argued that the president does not need any help with his brand and that he had made his fortune before entering politics.

“Consider that Donald Trump’s brand is strong enough at it is and doesn’t need any help…The Trump family made their money before they went into politics.”

While it is true that the Trump family went into politics with significant wealth and an established brand, the Doral Resort is not doing well financially and hosting an event of this magnitude could certainly reverse its fortunes:

Trump’s presidency so far seems to have harmed Trump Doral’s bottom line. In a meeting with a magistrate for the Miami-Dade Value Adjustment Board in December 2018, a consultant hired by the Trump Organization said the hotel is “severely under-performing.” The consultant cited lower occupancy and room rates at the Doral hotel compared to its competitors and an 18 percent slump in revenue from 2015 to 2017 as reasons to lower the property’s value.

Trump blew off any concerns about his decision:

I used to make money off giving speeches. Now, I make speeches all the time and you know how much I make? Zero. From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money…I don’t want to make any money.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Rep. Elijah Cummings Dead at 68

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:52 am

[guest post by Dana]

From the Baltimore Sun:

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a committee chairman known for his devotion to Baltimore and civil rights and for blunt and passionate speechmaking, died of longstanding health problems early Thursday morning, his office said. He was 68 years old.

The Democrat, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died at Gilchrist Hospice Care at approximately 2:45 A.M., a spokeswoman said.

Cummings, who had been absent from Capitol Hill in recent weeks while under medical attention, had health issues in recent years. In 2017, he underwent an aortic valve replacement. The procedure, which aides described as minimally invasive in Cummings’ case, is used to correct narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. The surgery led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection, but he said this summer that his health was fine.

Cummings had not participated in a roll call vote since Sept. 11. His office said recently that he had undergone a medical procedure but the seriousness of his condition had not been known.

From an early age, Cummings admirably exampled how to overcome life’s difficult obstacles through sheer determination and a willingness to do the necessary hard work:

Cummings was born Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before winning his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become the first black House speaker pro tem.


Cummings began his long push for civil rights at age 11, when he helped integrate a local swimming pool in Baltimore. This year, during a speech to the American Bar Association in April, Cummings recalled how he and other black children who were barred from the pool organized protests with help from their recreation leader and the NAACP.

Every day for a week, when the children tried to get into the pool, they were spit upon, threatened and called names, Cummings said; he said he was cut by a bottle thrown from an angry crowd.

“The experience transformed my entire life,” he said.

Note: Per House rules, Rep. Carolyn Maloney will become the Acting Chair of the House Oversight committee, which is involved in the impeachment inquiry of Trump. Also, per a senior Democratic leadership aide, “the caucus process to elect a permanent Chair will be announced at a later time.”

I want to leave you with this absolutely lovely tribute to Cummings by Trey Gowdy. At the end of the day, and politics aside, we should all be so fortunate to have someone think so highly of us and the life we’ve lead:

Elijah Cummings was one of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics. The power and the beauty came from his authenticity, his conviction, the sincerity with which he held his beliefs. We rarely agreed on political matters.

We never had a cross word outside of a committee room. He had a unique ability to separate the personal from the work. The story of Elijah’s life would benefit everyone, regardless of political ideation.
The obstacles, barriers, and roadblocks he overcame, the external and sometimes internal doubt that whispered in the ear of a young Elijah Cummings. He beat it all. He beat the odds.

He beat the low expectations of that former school employee who told Elijah to abandon the dream of being a lawyer, that he would never become a lawyer, to settle for a job with his hands and not his mind.

Elijah loved telling that story because that school employee wound up being Elijah’s first client as a lawyer. We live in an age where we see people on television a couple of times and we think we know them and what they are about.

It is true Elijah was a proud progressive with a booming, melodious voice who found himself in the middle of most major political stories over the past decade. It is inescapable that be part of his legacy.

But his legacy also includes the path he took to become one of the most powerful political figures of his time. It is a path filled with pain, prejudice, obstacles and doubt that he refused to let stop him. His legacy is perseverance. His legacy is fighting through the pain.

His legacy is making sure there were fewer obstacles for the next Elijah Cummings. His legacy to me, above all else, was his faith. A faith in God that is being rewarded today with no more fights, no more battles, and no more pain.

Condolences to the family and friends of Elijah Cummings.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Don’t Be a Fool: The Fool’s Letter to Erdogan

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

I can’t let this letter from Trump to Erdogan go by without comment:

It comes as no surprise that Erdogan literally threw this nonsense in the trash. The letter is dated eight days ago and it obviously had zero effect other than to further reveal our President to be a clueless jackass — which, if that wasn’t already evident to an observer, the observer is brain dead.

The issue here is not even so much what Trump did. It’s the impulsive way he did it. There was no plan. This is one of the main reasons that it grates to see Russians crawling through a hastily abandoned American military base: it reminds us that Trump did this all on a hasty whim, having thought through nothing, and having informed nobody capable of thinking it through for him.

Then Trump trots out and repeats absurd Turkish talking points, like the one that the PKK is probably worse than ISIS. Here are his idiotic statements as put out by TRT (the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation)

Trump is a fool. Erdogan knows it. Putin knows it. The world knows it. As long as he is the one conducting foreign policy, the United States is going to get played. He has to go.

P.S. I can’t help but come back to the point that Trump doesn’t read. The correct way to handle the phone call with Erdogan was in his briefing papers, but he certainly didn’t read them because he reads nothing. Some have observed that, while Trump is probably not a paid Russian asset, he behaves exactly the same as if he were. Well, it is also true that he is not literally illiterate — but behaves exactly the same as if he were.

As the saying goes: The man who doesn’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t read.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0999 secs.