Friday, August 4, 2017

Excerpts of Trump's Embarrassing January Leaked Phone Calls with the Leaders of Mexico & Australia Interspersed with Photos (and Some Descriptions) of My Brief Dallas Trip Last Month

Downtown Dallas as seen from the Cloud Nine Café atop Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas, 6:42PM July 10, 2017.

I decided that this would be a good entry in which to combine some political commentary and the remainder of my Dallas work trip pictures. The two are topically unrelated but the pictures are a good way to break up the text.

The pictures were taken during my work trip to Dallas last month during which I found several hours to take a taxi to downtown Dallas and walk from Reunion Tower to the JRs Bar and Grill before taxiing back to the hotel on the north side of the city.

The pictures are captioned and some include additional contextual or background information. All times are CDT.


View from my 14 floor hotel room in the Hilton Lincoln Center, Dallas, Texas, 5:07PM, July 10, 2017.

From the room, it was possible to see a snippet of the vast labyrinth of freeways that stretch seemingly endlessly across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and under the vast Texas sky.


Some political news and commentary ...

As Charlie Pierce would say (is saying), Camp Runamuck, a.k.a., the Trump White House, continues to leak like a sieve.

Yesterday, the Washington Post --God Bless that publication in the Trump Historical Era Error and ditto the New York Times -- obtained copies of the full transcripts of Trump's Jan. 27th call to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Jan. 28th call to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. As The Post explained, each transcript is known as a "memorandum of conversation" and are taken White House note-takers monitoring the calls for the purpose of being circulated to White House policymakers and other staff.

The Dallas skyline as seen from I-35E, Dallas, Texas, 6:15PM July 10, 2017.

Recall I bribed a Lyft driver with $20 cash to take me into downtown Dallas. He was parked in the hotel driveway. The driver was a Jordanian fellow who had come to Dallas by way of a small town in Oklahoma where his brother lives and runs a restaurant. He was such a nice man that I gave him more like $27 for the high-speed freeway ride.


Another view of the Dallas skyline as seen from I-35E, Dallas, Texas, 6:15PM July 10, 2017.


From the Washington Post, the article about the transcripts is available here and the twin set of transcripts (including typos) is available here.

While bits of the calls were reported at the time -- in particular, the acrimonious ending to the call with PM Turnbull over Trump's inability to comprehend the issue of the agreement the Obama administration made with Australia to admit 1,250 refugees (subject to U.S. security screening) -- the full transcripts reveal the breadth of Trump's astounding ignorance.

Approaching Reunion Tower and the adjoining Regency Hyatt from I-35E, Dallas, Texas, 6:17PM July 10, 2017.


Ditto that embarrassing Wall Street Journal interview of Trump that was never published -- but which Politico (sorry, POLITICO) secured a copy of and promptly published. Slate's senior business and economics correspondent had a good take on it.

Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, 6:18PM July 10, 2017.


In his many carnival barking / tent revival appearances to his downwardly mobile, ethno-nationalistically-panicked marks, Trump barked long and loud about how Mexico would pay for the wall.

Some excerpts:

Trump: Because you and I are both at a point now where we are both saying we are not to pay for the wall. From a political standpoint, that is what we will say. We cannot say that anymore because if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. I am willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash and that is okay.

But you cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about. But in terms of dollars -- or pesos -- it is the least important thing. I know how to build very inexpensively, so it will be much lower than these numbers I am being presented with, and it will be a better wall and it will look nice. And it will do the job.

Outside Reunion Tower at the adjoining Regency Hyatt, Dallas, Texas, 6:19PM July 10, 2017.

The tower / hotel complex is located at the edge of downtown and slightly offset from it -- and the area around it has a slightly awkward / sketchy feel, or at least it did to me being by myself and having parachuted in, so to speak, at early evening.


Nieto: This is what I suggest, Mr. President -- let us stop talking about the wall. I have recognized the right of any government to protect its borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.

Trump: But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.

Reunion Tower as seen from the base of it, Dallas, Texas, 6:22PM July 10, 2017.

The last time I was at Reunion Tower was November 26, 1981 -- on the occasion of my 12th birthday as Ray and my mom and I were moving from Texas to Maryland to start what would become my Glen Burnie and, later, my D.C. life.

We were moving from Killeen, Texas (at the end of Ray's Army tour at Fort Hood) and opted to drive the 1,000 miles from there to Baltimore, stopping in Dallas to have dinner atop Reunion Tower in the old Antares restaurant and (as arranged by my mom) visiting the next-door WFAA-TV studio to meet TV weatherman Troy Dungan (who retired about ten years ago). A scanned picture of that meeting with me in the studio is posted directly above.


Trump also singles out -- of all states -- New Hampshire for the opioid epidemic as a "drug-infested den":

And we have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country. They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York. Up in New Hampshire -- I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den -- is coming from the southern border."

To be clear, Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire in the general election, but facts hardly matter here. (Here is the reaction in the Granite State to publication of this comment.)

Downtown Dallas view as seen from outdoor, enclosed Reunion Tower observation deck, 6:28PM July 10, 2017.

Of note, when you go up the elevator to the top, you do feel a bit of an ear-popping, although not quite like going up the Willis (Sears) or Hancock Tower in Chicago (as I did a month prior). I have no recollection if that happened back in Nov. 1981. In this case, I was going to the revolving observation deck and its Cloud Nine Café, not to be confused with the ritzy Five Sixty Wolfgang Puck restaurant above it.


The call the next day with Prime Minister Turnbull was even worse in terms of Trump's unwillingness and inability to understand anything about the agreement for the U.S. to take up to 1,250 refugees from countries Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan that tried to arrive in Australia by boat but that have been housed in squalid, violent conditions on Nauru.

Reunion Tower observation deck southwest view: I-30 / Tom Landry Freeway with a spaghetti-maze of freeways to include the bridges over the Trinity River, Dallas, Texas, 6:29PM July 10, 2017.

In this picture, you can see the steel-suspended Margaret McDermott Bridge that is still under construction. Nearby (not in the photo) is the much more elaborate Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge that features a nearly 40-story arch -- tall enough to be incorporated into the Dallas skyline.

As for the Trinity River, it passes through the south side of Dallas as a sort of empty green gash of a no man's land.


Because Australia has a strict policy on not accepting boat refugees, the exchange included this unintentional bit of humor:

Trump: Why haven't you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people --

Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

Turnbull: This is our experience.

View of downtown Dallas including Dealey Plaza from Reunion Tower observation deck, Dallas, Texas, 6:30PM July 10, 2017.


The "you are worse than I am" is the lead in the Sydney Morning Herald account of the story available here.

Oh, yes, Trump also said this in that call: "This is going to kill me. I am the world's greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week."

Truly speechless. I wonder what Turnbull said when he went home to his wife (Lucy Turnbull).

The Dallas skyline from the GeO-Deck of Reunion Tower, Dallas, Texas, 6:30PM July 10, 2017.

Interestingly, while I was up there, I met a fellow from Washington, D.C. Actually, he and I rode the elevator up together -- and found out our common residence because the elevator attendant asked us whence we came to visit Dallas.


Here are a few other linked commentaries on the transcripts:

Sub-line: The Trump administration is leaking like a sieve, and we're better for it.

Dallas County Courthouse building and farther in the distance, the 60-story modernist Fountain Place skyscraper, Dallas, Texas, 7:07PM July 10, 2017.

The glass skyscraper Fountain Place was not constructed when I was last in Dallas in Nov. 1981.


In the meantime, in the latest dump of Trump Bullshit, the Orange Buffoon Emperor decided to re-release his going-nowhere proposal to slash legal immigration into the United States by 50% by establishing a "merit-based" point system that gives lots of points to rich, English-speaking, white people and, I suppose, some rich and/or incredibly smart Asians.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- Gay) of South Carolina made it clear there isn't the slightest chance he is going to agree to this nonsense. Ditto the other business-friendly Republicans in the Senate or almost any Democrat.

The Dallas County Courthouse building, a.k.a., the Old Red Courthouse and the Old Red Museum (since it houses the Old Red Museum), Dallas, Texas, 7:09PM July 10, 2017.

This lovely red sandstone building is apparently in the architectural style known as Richardsonian Romanesque.


I mention, this, though because the Trumpelstiltskins decided to "roll out" this idea in typical Trumpelstiltskin fashion: By having a press conference in which some Trump goon, clown, or lunatic screams at the assembled White House reporters and calls them names. In this case, it was that cheap, foul-mouthed, fascist thug Stephen Miller, who immediately got into it with CNN's Jim Acosta.

Yes, the Texas School Book Depository -- or as it is now known, the Dallas County Administration Building, Dallas, Texas, 7:10PM July 10, 2017.

This view of the exterior includes the sixth floor window whence Lee Harvard Oswald fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy.


Here is Charlie Pierce's take on Miller:

On Wednesday, for reasons known only to whatever critters inhabit the ravines and gullies of the presidential cortex, they trotted Miller out to talk about the administration's new proposal to limit legal immigration.

Miller is not equipped to be the public face of a phony real estate scam, let alone the executive branch of the government of the United States. Jim Acosta of CNN asked him a question. It did not go well.

Pierce went on to deconstruct the ugly anti-Semitic history behind Miller's derisive term for Acosta as a "cosmopolitan."

For her part, White House spokes-creature Sarah Huckbungabungle Sanders decided it went awesomely well for the Trump, declaring that Acosta had been "put in his place." Silly bitch.

OK, I think that's all for the political commentary. The remainder of this entry are the rest of my Dallas trip pictures with explanation ...

The outdoor area of the Katy Trail Ice House bar along the Katy Trail, Dallas, Texas, 7:45PM July 10, 2017.

I would have stopped there except it was getting late and I didn't want to be walking around a strange city at night. The Katy Trail is described as a "linear 3.5-mile-long (5.6 km), landscaped pedestrian, inline skating, and bicycle trail system that runs through the most densely developed section of the city" to include Uptown and Oak Lawn areas.

I found my way to it by chance as I was walking in the general direction of the Oak Lawn area to my destination (see below). There were literally hundreds of people on the trail walking (solo, in pairs, in groups, or walking their dogs), jogging, and biking. However, I was unsure where I was and asked a few people -- and got no helpful information. For that matter, nobody seemed particularly friendly despite it being in Texas. One of my coworkers later suggested that perhaps they thought I was homeless -- since asking for directions is a typical lead-in there for panhandling.


A view of the Monaco on the Trail apartment complex, Dallas, Texas, 7:47PM July 10, 2017.

I finally found a suitable exit point from the trail and over to Cedar Springs Road. What's confusing is that (heading north) Cedar Springs Road becomes Turtle Creek Blvd before it reappears (at the intersection with Bowen Street), making a sharp right turn to the NNW (while Turtle Creek Blvd continues meandering to the NNE).


JR's Bar and Grill, Dallas, Texas, 8:23PM July 10, 2017.

I finally made it to my destination: JRs Bar and Grill of Dallas, Texas. This is the original JRs gay bar. There is another in Houston and, of course, here in D.C., as well as a former one in Denver. They have different owners.


Another view inside JR's Bar and Grill, Dallas, Texas, 8:23PM July 10, 2017.

I stayed there about 45 minutes. This included a 15-minute phone call with my mother back in Maryland. The bartender kindly called a cab for me (there was no way I could walk the 7 miles or so back to the hotel on the north side of Dallas).

As with my trek down to Reunion Tower, this cab driver was also a wonderful fellow with whom I had a great conversation. He was also Middle Eastern -- Lebanese, I think -- and explained that one of the reasons he is estranged from (but still married to) his wife is her attitude toward gay people. He further explained that he has two best friends -- a gay couple -- in Dallas who were so welcoming to him, and his wife's attitude really upset him.

Once I got back to the hotel, I stopped at the hotel bar and that was whole other adventure for the night. As I mentioned at the time, the cast of characters there was a sort of early 21st Century Middle America version of The Canterbury Tales set in a hotel in Dallas.


Ascending over the eastern suburbs of Dallas, Texas, 5:56PM July 11, 2017.

The jet had just taken off from Dallas Love Field and was en route to Washington National Airport.


OK, that's all for now. I'm going to try to post another entry this evening -- if only just a brief update. If not, then my next planned entries -- the usual Saturday night duo -- will be tomorrow.


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