Nel's New Day

August 20, 2017

Evangelicals Lack Moral Compass

Four advisory councils for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) disappeared after his support of white supremacists and another never came to fruition. Another one that disappeared today is the panel for the National Climate Assessment that included academics, local officials, and corporate representatives. Two councils, however, are still going strong—one that suppresses votes and another that gives far-right racist Christians power over DDT’s decision. Of the 25 DDT-appointed radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, only one resigned, showing a bit of the moral compass that the majority of business CEOs did after DDT’s outrageous statements equating people standing for racial justice to the “whites-only” groups. One member had resigned months ago. Those remaining were either silent or strongly supported DDT’s impassioned criticism for those who opposed militant neo-Nazis.

Evangelical supporters of DDT claim the high ground, saying that “the Bible calls us to do as ambassadors of reconciliation, reaching across the aisle, [and] reaching out to other ministers.” This action, however, is not one that they took when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were presidents. Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet about DDT’s statements described them as being “bold truthful.” Caught up in a backlash, he later tried a spin to say that the “truth” from DDT is that white supremacists “are pure evil and un-American,” but not everyone swallowed his bull.

More bull came from Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who blamed media misrepresentation, despite the entire press conference broadcast on television. Jeffress also advises war with North Korea. He said, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.” According to Jeffress, nonviolence is only for “Christians,” not government. He added that a president should “absolutely not” obey the Sermon on the Mount, including helping the poor. Jeffress’ mandates comes from Roman 13, “that gives the government to the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un.” [Note: Roman 13 refers to people obeying the laws of their own nation, not making DDT the dictator of the world. It also mandates paying taxes.]

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, tweeted that “corporate America has a greater moral compass” than the Evangelical Council. Only A.R. Bernard (Christian Cultural Center, Brooklyn) formally left the council with the tepid statement “that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.” Guardian has a list of the remaining “ultra-conservative religious cheerleaders.”

One of DDT’s evangelical council will extend her responsibilities to the United Nations where she will help all the nations in the world adopt Christianity in preparation for the “End Times.” Michele Bachman’s (above right) “appointment” comes from The Jefferson Gathering, a project from the Skyline Church that came from congressional conservatives gathering with religious right leaders in Statuary Hall to pray for forgiveness for the nation’s sins such as legalized marriage equality. These people believe that God caused 9/11 and the 2012 Benghazi attack in his judgment.

Former students at Liberty University plan to return their diplomas in protest to Falwell’s racist perspective. A group letter states:

“This is incompatible with Liberty University’s stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness.”

Chris Gaumer, a former student government president at Liberty, called Falwell “complicit” in DDT’s defense of “Nazis and white supremacists.”

The Southern Baptist Church has formally rejected racism but only for the church. All that concerns evangelical church, and others, is collecting everyone into their fold to win their souls. Evangelicals support any politician who furthers their position, despite that person’s character. They use these politicians as a tool to gain their domination. Evangelicals think that God anointed DDT as their president This group of religious leaders has decided that God has placed Trump as POTUS. Because God has put DDT there, they have no right to lift their hands against God’s anointed one; he is their master and they cannot object (1 Sam 24:6). Changing their position about him would destroy the entire belief systems of evangelical leaders and cause them to lose their followers—and income. [Note: Rejecting Clinton would probably not have hurt their belief system.]

From the Guardian:

“It is one of the ‘difficult but primary duties’ of a political leader to speak for a nation in traumatic times. A space shuttle explodes, a school student goes on a shooting spree, a terrorist flies a plane into a building, a hurricane floods a city. When such things happen, Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post, ‘It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul.’ Yet if Donald Trump’s words about the violent white extremist mobilisation in Virginia on Saturday – which an under-pressure White House was desperately trying to clarify on Sunday – are an expression of its soul, America may be on the road to perdition….

“There is absolutely no moral equivalence between the fanatical white supremacists who rallied in the Virginia city on Saturday and the equality defenders who demonstrated peacefully against them, one of whom was rammed and killed by a speeding car allegedly driven by a man who had attended the neo-Nazi rally. The supremacists hate black people and Jews, and regard white people as superior. They talk portentously about blood, soil and the right to bear arms. They admire Hitler and give Nazi salutes. They fly the flags of the pro-slavery Confederacy – the ostensible cause of their rallies this summer is Charlottesville’s decision, more than 150 years after the south’s surrender, to remove a statue of Robert E Lee from a park. And one of them committed the sort of act that was rightly called terrorism when it occurred in Nice, Berlin and London.

“Yet, in his first response on Saturday, Mr Trump utterly failed in his primary duty to uphold equality and speak the truth about the racist violence that had taken place. Instead of placing the blame where it belonged, on the supremacists and Klansmen who triggered these events, and rather than stand up for the indivisibility of equality and tolerance before the law, Mr Trump’s words were by turns slippery, banal and morally compromised. It was not true that the violence in Charlottesville came from “many sides”, as Mr Trump evasively said, before repeating his evasion. It is the head of state’s duty to stand up, explicitly and unequivocally, against racists and those who promote racial violence. Mr Trump was found wanting.”

The above was written before DDT’s appalling press conference on Tuesday that lambasted people in opposition to racial injustice. The Guardian continued after that egregious performance:

“In his angry and undignified press conference on Tuesday night, Donald Trump deliberately and shockingly crossed the line that separates the acceptable and the unacceptable in the conduct of an elected democratic leader in a multiracial society. Mr Trump must now face the consequences of this momentous and inexcusable decision. Those consequences should include the way that the leaders of multiracial European nations, including Britain, conduct their dealings with the US president from this moment on….

“Mr Trump’s petulant and narcissistic demeanour made it clear that he is more outraged by criticism and with the American press than he is with his country’s racists and its neo-Nazis. He clearly cannot help himself. But that is no excuse. This is therefore a moment at which America and the world need to display the moral clarity of which the US president is so embarrassingly incapable. There are not “many sides” to the arguments that came to the boil in Charlottesville and since. There is a right side and a wrong side. Racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and Nazism, new or old, are wrong. A leader who cannot bring himself to say this clearly and unequivocally is not just clueless. He also forfeits his claim to moral authority and much of his right to be respected as leader….”

Far-right Christians face another crisis tomorrow—a total solar eclipse across the United States. A 60-mile wide band of total darkness begins on the north-central Oregon coast and continues through 13 more, mostly red, states of the nation.

Evangelicals such as  Pastor Mark Biltz warns  how the event is a sign from God:

“As the sun is larger than the moon, the sun represents the nations of the world and the moon represents the nation of Israel…. When there is a total solar eclipse, it is a warning to a specific nation or nations depending on its path.”

According to Biltz, eclipses recorded in his bible led to war and plague. If DDT stays president, these events may come to be, attacking at least 12 GOP-dominated states.

August 15, 2017

White Supremacy: The Party of Trump

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Every day, I hope that I can address something other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in my blog posts, but every day, he becomes more and more disgusting. When he was elected and inaugurated, well-meaning people—and others—called for time to give him a chance. Almost thirty weeks after he took over the United States, he has shown himself to be worse and worse. Today was a low point in the past 206 days. It doesn’t mean that we have hit rock bottom, but we are sinking into a giant cesspool with fecal material added every day. DDT added another general to the White House nine days ago. John Kelly (left) was supposed to bring some order and discipline surrounding DDT, but situations have only worsened in the ten days since he became DDT’s chief of staff. Today he just hung his head during DDT’s press conference today at Trump Tower, the first time that DDT has gone to this home since he was inaugurated.

After complaints about the lack of press conferences during his 200+ days, DDT has started holding them since he began his vacation at Bedminster (NJ) on August 4. As with his rallies, his responses are filled with insults and slurs before he walks out in anger when he doesn’t like the questions. Today’s meeting with reporters was supposedly about infrastructure, but DDT focused on protecting white supremacists and attacking the counter-protesters in Charlottesville last weekend when three people died and 35 were injured.

DDT had veered from his Saturday statement that blaming people “on many sides” to yesterday’s forced statement written by someone else that cited responsible groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis. When a reporter asked him today why he waited to blame white supremacists for the violence, he unleashed his “fire and fury” in his attacks on everyone except his small white supremacist base.

In an attempt to appear presidential, he started out by saying that he didn’t blame the white supremacists on Saturday because of his natural caution—an approach that he has never taken. DDT said, “I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.” An examination of his past reactions reveals that he never shows any “caution” if the perpetrator appears to be a member of a racial or religious minority, for example calling a robbery at a casino in the Philippines an act of terrorism.

DDT’s customary incoherence appeared when he was asked about whether he would call Heather Heyer’s death from a white supremacist who sped his car into a crowd as terrorism. He said he would call it “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict,” whatever that means.

The “alt-left” is now being used by conservatives as a pejorative term for people who support diversity, and DDT joined the white supremacists in using this term and accused them of being “very, very violent.” Conservatives hope that their new term for progressives will make it on the same level as the racist “alt-right” in their effort to shut down their protests against white supremacy.

DDT claims that within the crowd of neo-Nazis and white supremacists are “very fine people.” He said, “If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, talking about the torch-lit procession changing the Nazi “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” He speaks as if he were actually a part of the crowd. DDT’s justification of the white supremacists’ actions is that they are protecting statues of people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson—treasonous military leaders who declared war against the United States—with American Revolution leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He accused protesters of trying to “change history” and “change culture.”

The last question DDT took as he left the podium was whether he planned to visit Charlottesville. He said: “Do you know I own a house in Charlottesville? I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, that’s in Charlottesville.”

It’s all about Donald.

The morning before the press conference, DDT retweeted a violent image of a train running down a CNN reporter. Fifteen minutes later the tweet disappeared from his Twitter feed but has stayed on the internet. This act follows the death of a woman in Charlottesville Saturday morning after she was deliberately struck by a car driven by a white supremacist and after another heated exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

A senior White House official described the DDT at the press conference as a person out of control, subject to personal instincts and whims. “That was all him — this wasn’t our plan,” the official said. Another person described him as “distracted” and “irritable” in his interactions with top aides since his statement yesterday. He was angry about what he perceived as his unfair treatment, feeling that he had already given in too much to opponents, and sympathized with “protesters” who defended their “heritage.” The resignation of four CEOs from his manufacturing advisory committee only fueled his fury.

DDT has energized white supremacists. After his press conference, former KKK leader David Duke tweeted,

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer wrote, “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth.”

The White House leaped to present GOP lawmakers with their talking points (aka marching orders) regarding DDT’s position on the left along with a transcript of his comments at the press conference in case they were lucky enough to miss it.

These are some of the “fine people” who DDT protects. Four white supremacists beat up 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, an instructional assistant in a special education class who called out “Go home! Leave town!” The white supremacists left him with a concussion, broken wrist, and chipped tooth. Harris is alive only because his friends saved him. The photograph is available because of one man’s bravery. One of the men pointed a 9mm pistol or a Glock semi-automatic at photographer Zach D. Roberts, but Roberts took the photo anyway. The man ran when he heard the click of the camera three feet away. The police did not help Harris, nor did it reach out to Roberts for any photos. One of the white supremacists may, however, be Michael Ramos who unsuccessfully tried to delete Facebook admissions of his beating Harris. Freelancer Chuck Modiano also videoed parts of the vicious beating.

 

Duke and Spencer may be delighted with the Charlottesville rally and DDT’s approval, but the white supremacists who attended it are less satisfied. They are amazed that they’re losing their jobs and getting death threats. Peter Cvjetanovic is confused about the photo taken as he marched and chanted with white supremacists went viral. “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was….  I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

TV news hosts on regular shows are predictably jarred, but even Fox network host Kat Timpf is disgusted. “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life,” she said. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/business/media/wow-stunned-tv-hosts-reacted-in-real-time-to-trump.html  Her co-host, Guy Benson, said that DDT “lost me” when he described the “very fine people” participating in the white supremacist rally. He said:

“They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”

Charles Krauthammer said, “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.” He added that the president had broken from his predecessors who recognized the history of civil rights.

After dealing with DDT for over two years, Republican lawmakers may have figured out that he’s a racist. They have spent his first 200+ days defending his white nationalism, but the “very fine people” comment may have pushed several of them over the edge. A few Republicans such as Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL), and Cory Gardner (CO) had spoken up before today. Added to this list after today’s press conference are Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), David Perdue (GA), Todd Young (IN), Susan Collins (ME), Jerry Moran (KA), Tom Tillis (NC), John Hoevan (ND), James Lankford (OK), Tim Scott (SC), and Dean Heller (NV). The acid test for all these GOP senators will be how they vote for his agenda in September.

When Republicans want votes from progressives, they brag about being the “party of Lincoln.” In 2017 they have become “the party of Trump.”

July 28, 2017

Fiat by Tweet Fails

Filed under: LGBT Issues — trp2011 @ 11:58 PM
Tags: , , ,

Following a horrendous speech to Boy Scouts last Tuesday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attempted to distract people from his earlier egregious behavior by tweeting that transgender people would not be permitted to serve in the military in any capacity. There was no study for this decision, and the Pentagon seemed to be taken unawares. Fiat by tweet? No one really knows. It’s possible that DDT is trying to make nice with evangelicals after being offensive to their beloved Jeff Sessions for days in a row.

The tweets began at 5:55 am on July 26. The first one read:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……”

During the eight-minute pause before a continuation of DDT’s message, the Department of Defense HQ panicked. Al Gore said that they thought DDT had declared war. The second part of the tweet showed that the war was on the the 15,000 transgender soldiers in active or reserve duty and the almost 150,000 transgender people who serve in the military in some capacity. The second tweet told them that they had lost their jobs:

“….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..”

DDT completed the three tweets by a reference to the costs and disruption from transgender people in the military:

“….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”

Both DDT’s “reasons” are bogus.

The military spends $84.4 million on medication for erectile dysfunction but only $5.6 million for health care for transgender employees. That $84.4 million is our taxes at work—15 times more than the $5.6 million cost of hormone treatment and surgery for transgender people in the military and 0.07 percent of the $49.3 billion in health care expenditures for military and former military members, 586,804 percent more than that for transgender employees in the military. The Pentagon pays $91.1 million for one F-35s fighter plane and $478 million for a single Littoral combat ship that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said has “practically no proven combat capability.”

Two DDT weekends would pay for a year of health care for transgender people in the military. A single trip to Mar-a-Lago, his private clubs, costs taxpayers about $3.6 million, and he spent seven weekends there in just two and a half months before he moved on to his personal resort at Bedminster (NJ). Congress also allocated $41 million to provide security costs to his resorts for his time there. Travel and protection costs for the DDT family ran a least $30 million for his first 100 days, compared to $12 million for an entire year for President Obama and his family. The costs continue for security for Trump Tower where DDT never goes and other personal costs for him.

The disruption claim was refuted by Defense Department officials who reported on a seamless process of transgender service members coming out after the Obama administration repealed the ban on their serving. The Pentagon completed a comprehensive review of the situation before it lifted the ban on transgender service members in 2016. Radha Iyengar, author of the RAND study that investigated transgender people in the military, said:

“We’ve had commanders report that having a more improved attitude toward inclusiveness and diversity was beneficial to their unit overall. And that really speaks to the benefits, but there was really no effect, in any of the cases, of operational effectiveness. They saw these positives, but we really didn’t see any of the negatives.”

In a third “misrepresentation,” DDT claimed that his decision came after consultation with “my Generals and military experts, but the tweets came as a surprise to the Pentagon. Defense Secretary James Mattis was on vacation and reportedly appalled and infuriated by the tweets. The Pentagon referred all questions about DDT’s order to the White House. The day after DDT’s tweets, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a memo to service chiefs, commanders, and senior enlisted leaders.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

A theory behind DDT’s tweets is that he reacted to the radical right threatening to blow up the $790 billion defense and security spending package in the House if it included health care for transgender service members. (Keep in mind that they are quibbling about $5.4 million for health care.) Mattis was working with them, but DDT may have taken over the issue and decided to eliminate more President Obama’s work. An amendment to ban funding for gender reassignment surgeries and treatments for transgender active-duty personnel failed 209-214 with 24 Republicans voting with the Democrats. Amendment supporters then tried to push the GOP leadership to circumvent the House rules to pass the amendment, but the leadership refused, saying it would make them look hypocritical. That’s’ when Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) went to the White House and complained to DDT. White supremacist Steve Bannon told DDT that he should deal with the situation.

A senior House GOP aide emailed about DDT’s tweets, “This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire.”

DDT’s unified many of the Republicans, even representatives who voted in favor of the amendment, with the Democrats’ outrage regarding the tweets. Although some GOP legislators stayed quiet, several of GOP legislators agreed with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who said, “Removing thousands of men and women from admirably and honorably serving is counterintuitive to strengthening our military. I have serious concerns about what this new directive means.” LoBiondo called on Mattis to “provide clarity on this issue and determine what is in the best interest of military readiness to protect our nation.” Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)—all veterans—came out in strong support for allowing qualified people into the military no matter their gender identity. McCain chairs of the Armed Services Committee.  This is the first issue, other than the possibility of DDT firing Jeff Sessions as attorney general, in which Republicans have been vocal in opposing DDT’s views.

Other countries were flabbergasted with DDT’s declaration. In Israel, Retired Gen. Elazar Stern was shocked by DDT’s position. “It makes us strong that we don’t waste time on questions like this,” said Stern, the former commander of the Israel Defense Forces Manpower Command. “It’s something to be proud of.” The Guardian wrote about how DDT’s tweets send “the depressing message … in normalising and legitimising prejudice and discrimination” and “significant in itself for its cruelty and foolishness.” Eighteen countries other than the United States permit transgender people to serve in the military. Nine other countries are moving in that direction.

After DDT became the GOP candidate at the RNC a year ago, he said, “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” On the campaign trail, he tweeted, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

In Gallup Daily’s tracking of DDT’s approval rating, his disapproval rating is up 13 percent since his inauguration, up to 58 percent. He has lost support among his entire base: drops of 12 points with evangelicals, 20 points with the working class, and eight points each with rural United States and Mormons. Fifty-eight percent of adults agree with the statement, “Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.” Only 27 percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

DDT made his announcement on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman integrating the armed services and during a week with DDT’s theme “American Heroes.”  He used transgender people as scapegoats to distract from his involvement with Russian influence in the election, the health care fiasco, and all his other mistakes. Now he’s moved on to sabotage health care and continue with hiring and firing.  John Kelly has been moved from Homeland Security Secretary to DDT’s chief of staff. A question across the media is whether he will control DDT’s tweets. If he tries ….

Help continue the fight against DDT’s ruling on transgender military employees by signing a petition on the internet.

Correction: “An entire year for President Obama and his family,” not “day.”

July 14, 2017

That Russia ‘Thing’

The drip-drip of information about collusion between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia has developed into a steady flow as the dam against information starts to break down. Last week saw the publicity about a meeting between DDT associates at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya because she promised that she could provide them damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Early information showed that those attending included DDT’s son Donald Trump, Jr., DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who helps run both DDT and the family business, and one-time DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has a history of business ties with Russian and pro-Russia Ukrainian kleptocrats. Now it appears that more people were present, including Russian businessman and former counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.

The story put Jr. on the cover of Time. It began with Jr. claiming that he didn’t meet and then moved on to his claim that it was just about foster children, followed by admission that she Veselnitskaya offered information but didn’t provide any useful information against Clinton. Paul Manafort told his investigators about the meeting and that Jr. had set it up.

Jr. blatantly released emails proving he knew the offer to the meeting came directly from the Russian government and that possible information about be “very high level and sensitive.” The emails explicitly refer to “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” as well as Jr. agreeing to a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” to obtain documents from the Russian government. Jr.’s response to the emails is that “I love it especially later in the summer,” the time when the hacked emails from the DNC were released to the public.

The shifting story about DDT’s involvement with Russia to meddle in the presidential election: no, we didn’t talk to anybody; yes, we talked to somebody but it wasn’t about the election; yes, we talked about the election but didn’t get any useful information. The question is what’s next. That’s why all these people need lawyers. This fascinating view of who hired whom is missing the latest hire, Alan Futerfas. The lawyer for organized crime mobs including the Gambino, Genovese, and Colombo families is representing Jr.

Jr.’s emails support the chain of people from the Kremlin to DDT. The timeline of 20 denials about Russian collusion in the past year is accompanied by six more lies about Jr.’s meeting.

DDT claimed he knew nothing about the meeting, but a trail exists. Four hours after Jr. confirmed his meeting with Veselnitskaya on June 7, DDT promised a speech “discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” He said that it would be “very, very informative.” Two days later, DDT lacked the information and talked about national security. A few hours after the meeting,  DDT asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s so-called “deleted” 33,000 emails.

DDT’s spin on the meeting is blaming former AG Loretta Lynch for allowing the lawyer into the country. Veselnitskaya came to the U.S. with the claim that she was an attorney for Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company accused of money-laundering for the mob by buying expensive real estate. Prevezon’s actions are related to DDT’s firing Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District, while he was overseeing a money laundering case against Russian mobsters who allegedly hid $230 million in NYC real estate, some of it belong to DDT. The Russian lawyer who revealed the fraud met a suspicious death. Veselnitskaya called the DOJ settlement of $5.9 million in lieu of $230 million “almost an apology from the [U.S.] government.”

Richard Painter, George H.W. Bush’s ethics counsel, described Jr.’s actions as “treason.” As to the question of collusion, the term is defined as “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.” Ryan Goodman, former Defense Department special counsel, declared that the meeting was prohibited by federal criminal law.

“The law states that no person shall knowingly solicit or accept from a foreign national any contribution to a campaign of an item of value. There is now a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements of the law, which is a criminally enforced federal statute.”

The statute governing foreign contributions to U.S. campaigns, 52 USC 30121, 36 USC 510, has two key passages. The first:

“A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.”

The second:

“No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by [this law].”

The term “solicit” has a specific meaning in this context:

“A solicitation is an oral or written communication that, construed as reasonably understood in the context in which it is made, contains a clear message asking, requesting, or recommending that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”

The Committee of the Federal Register defines “solicitation”:

“To ask, request, or recommend, explicitly or implicitly, that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”

Jr. knew that he was soliciting information from a foreign source and that damaging information in “political opposition research” would cost a great deal of money. The illegal part was trying to get the information, not Jr.’s success. Everyone at the meeting was trying to solicit information from a foreign government, i.e., the Russians. Jr. may have solicited other times because he told Sean Hannity on Fox that he “probably met with other people from Russia” during the campaign.

Charles Krauthammer said:

 “If you get a call to go to a certain place in the middle of the night to pick up stolen goods, and it turns out stolen goods don’t show up but the cops show up, I think you’re going to have a weak story saying, ‘well, I got swindled here….’ It’s a hell of a defense to say your collusion wasn’t competent and it didn’t work out.”

DDT counsel Kellyanne Conway may be expecting more drips in her use of the word “yet”:

“‘Collusion’? No. We don’t have that yet.”

Most  congressional Republicans are trying to cover DDT’s illegal acts of Russian collusion. They ignore the questions, refuse to answer them, or obfuscate. Denials of DDT’s collusion have morphed into claims that collusion isn’t illegal. Jr.’s emails about collusion with Russia? No problem? Hillary Clinton’s private email service? Horrifying! Rep. Steve King (R-IA) threatens to investigate Anthony Weiner’s 650,000 emails if the Democrats won’t ignore Jr.’s emails. GOP senators such as Ted Cruz (TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Lindsey Graham (SC) used Senate hearing time to question witnesses about Clinton instead of Russian collusion. GOP leaders of the intelligence committees in the House and Senate have called the media to challenge stories about the collusion.

Early reporting from the Fox network omitted any reference to Russia in Jr.’s emails.

Most of the attention surrounding the meeting has been on Jr., but Kushner may be in trouble too. His security clearance is based on lies about his past meetings, and Democrats want Kushner’s access to classified information rescinded. Since his presence at the meeting was revealed, Kushner remembered over 100 foreign contacts that he had omitted from earlier high-security clearance applications.

VP Mike Pence might also be in hot water. On Fox, his press secretary Marc Lotter refused to respond to a question about whether Pence met with the Russians. Six months ago, Pence denied that anyone with DDT’s campaign had met with Russians trying to meddle in the election, but now the world knows differently.

Two Democratic donors and a DNC staffer are suing DDT and his longtime adviser Roger Stone for their public release of emails stolen from the DNC. Congressional committees are competing to be the first to question Jr.

For several days, this was DDT’s only response to Jr.’s scandal: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.” He left for Paris and embarrassed the people of the United States there.

Last February, New York Times David Leonhardt wrote:

“This combination—an anti-democratic president and a quiescent Congress—is very dangerous. Even though many members of Congress think [Trump’s] approach is wrong, they have refused to confront him because he is a member of their party. He has the power to sign bills that Republican legislators have long favored, and their political fortunes are tied to his popularity.”

Most Republicans just want to keep DDT healthy enough to sign papers—and right now they’re in control. But the hacking continues.

July 9, 2017

DDT’s European Trip Isolates U.S.

After embarrassing the United States for four days in Europe, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is home again. He had so many disasters that pundits referred  to the G-20 Summit as the “G-19 plus one.”

  • One major problem was DDT’s lack of hotel reservations for the grand event. He and Melania were forced to stay at the city of Hamburg’s Senate guest house.
  • Melania missed a photo session and a tour because protesters blocked their digs.
  • A brief talk with Russia’s Vladimir Putin lasted so long that White House staffers sent DDT’s wife in to end it; she failed, and the session lasted another hour.
  • Daughter Ivanka Trump took the place of real U.S. officials in replacing her father during a session called “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” so that DDT could meet with Putin. Former president of Mexico Vincente Fox Quesada tweeted that “a G20 summit isn’t a ‘bring your child to work and let her attend high level meetings’ day.”
  • Photos of DDT at the summit illustrate his goal to make America alone.  matches his own appearance at the event.
  • Another remarkable video shows Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the summit, rolling her eyes at a patronizing Putin.

This collection of photos demonstrates how the United States has lost any relationship with allies, including this image of President Obama at the 2015 G7 summit.

Two events stood out during DDT’s four-day offshore trip in Europe: his visit to Poland and his meeting with Russia’s president.  DDT began his trip in an environment where he felt most comfortable: Poles were bused into Warsaw with the sole purpose of cheering DDT for his speech much like the ones he gives to xenophobic audiences in the United States. DDT’s popularity in Poland is actually 23 percent.

A major premise of the speech was the survival of the West against the Middle East (aka Christians against Muslims). DDT’s image of the terrorism conflict as a clash of civilizations has been avoided by both GOP and Democratic predecessors. The Trump manifesto seems to be the “dire threat” against Western civilization. The language comes directly from white supremacists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. DDT’s anti-Semitic audience were surely pleased when he was the first sitting president in decades to avoid a stop at Warsaw’s monument to the Jewish Ghetto uprising.

DDT is on the same page as Poland’s leading party, Law & Justice (PiS). The party has inundated civil service and diplomatic corps with their loyalists and weakened the judiciary’s independence. The national broadcaster is a mouthpiece of the state, and independent journalists are restricted. Together DDT and Polish president, Andrzej Duda, based the media with DDT repeating his mantra of “fake news.” The EU calls Polish reforms “a systemic risk to the rule of law.”

Conservative Jonathan Turley wrote about the exchange between DDT and Duda regarding their hatred for the media:

“To have such an exchange with a man like Putin about the free press is a truly low moment for our country.  The men and women in front of the two leaders represent a profession that has lost dozens of journalists who fought to publish the truth about the Putin regime. Thousands more have died around the world in the struggle for free speech and the free press.  I understand the need to deal with figures like Putin in diplomacy but commiserating with the likes of Vladimir Putin about the free press is a terrible image for any American president.  Putin is not a great man and the media is not the enemy.  We can (and should) criticize the media for their loss of objectivity but even casual moments like this one with Putin carry a chilling message both in Russia and the United States. There remain committed journalists in Russia who look to the United States as their ally in the fight for a free press.   For them, these comments must be chilling and demoralizing.”

As usual, DDT displayed his weak vocabulary during the speech—even when someone else wrote it—by describing the losses in Poland during World War II as “tough” and “trouble.” Almost six million Poles, about 20 percent of the country’s population, died during the war.

Possibly worse than DDT’s speech was his press conference before the speech. In opposition to U.S. intelligence reports, he continued to claim that “nobody really knows” who was responsible for the cyberattacks around the November 2016 election and refused to admit that Russia was responsible. “It could have been other people in other countries,” he said. Yet he kept laying the blame on President Obama for something that he wouldn’t admit had happened. His claim that only “three or four” agencies believed that Russia was responsible. These agencies are the FBI, CIA, and NSA; no others disagreed, and some weren’t involved. In the conference, Polish officials cut off NBC reporter Hallie Jackson’s mike to keep her from asking a follow-up question.

Once again, DDT’s staff disagrees with his perception. In an interview for State of the Union, the nation’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, said, “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.” Her comments followed DDT’s amicable meeting with Putin on Friday. Haley continued by explaining that Russia is meddling “across multiple continents … in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries.”

Still reeling from DDT’s denial that Russia meddled in the U.S. election, people of the U.S. watched him go into a long meeting with Putin. Only four people attended with the two leaders—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators. No one took notes, and only Russians reported much of what happened in the two and a half hours. Headlines have declared that DDT “confronted” Putin, but the end result did not seem like a confrontation. Supposedly DDT questioned Putin about the meddling. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do it and followed that with the statement that DDT agreed with him.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin didn’t attend the meeting but repeatedly said that DDT “handled it brilliantly.” Putin followed earlier statements by claiming that Russia and the United States agreed to work together to “prevent interference in the domestic affairs of foreign states, primarily in Russia and the U.S.” Tillerson said that the two leaders selected officials to collaborate on a resolution to the Ukraine conflict and reached a “de-escalation agreement” about part of Syria near Daraa and Quneitra.

Even Republicans are disgusted with DDT’s plan to team with Putin in creating a “cyber security unit.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort since he’s doing the hacking.” Once again, bad press may have forced DDT to back down on his idea. Today he tweeted, “The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the partnership isn’t “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.” On the other hand, Mnuchin called the idea “a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.” He wants to “coordinate with Russia.”

Putin picked up popularity in the United States with DDT’s election, but it’s receding again, perhaps because of the hacking reports. Meanwhile, the number of Russian spies gathering intelligence in the United States has gone up to at least 150 from temporary duty visas issued by the DDT administration. Law enforcement officials have reported that some Russian diplomats are violating protocol by leaving the Washington, D.C. area with notifying the State Department. President Obama had shut down Russian compounds in December that were allegedly outfitted with high-power surveillance equipment and evicted 35 spies. Officials say that countering the threat is difficult because DDT doesn’t accept intelligence information about Russian meddling.

DDT completed his embarrassing four days by referring to his “wonderful relationship” with Xi Jinping. The White House used the wrong title for Xi, however. Instead of his correct title, president of the People’s Republic of China, he was identified as president of the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan. The elected leader of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen, the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world and one of Xi Jinpin’s greatest rivals. DDT is currently trying to persuade China to pressure North Korea for the U.S. benefit.

As always, Melania Trump looked lovely in her expensive fashion designs, but she shouldn’t try to wear them on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is reinforcing a patriarchal ban on sleeveless clothes for women—at least female reporters—in the speaker’s lobby. Although many conservatives have poo-pooed the story, report, Independent Journal Review‘s Haley Byrd was refused entrance. She was offered a cardigan but also told that open-toed shoes are also a no-no.

July 2, 2017

DDT Moves BFF from Russia to Saudi Arabia

Weeks ago, several Middle East countries led by Saudi Arabia opened diplomatic war against the tiny country of Qatar. Saudis said that they oppose Qatar’s terrorism, but they have other reasons. Qatar’s wealth from natural gas creates independence from Saudi’s dictates. The exports can also be shipped by sea instead of through pipelines like Saudi oil. Because natural gas comes from the Persian Gulf, Qatar keeps friendly connections with Iran.

In the past, Qatar had close relations with the United States after Saudi Arabia told U.S. forces to leave its country in 2003. The U.S. military base heading operations against ISIS moved to Qatar and houses 11,000 troops at this time. Some of Qatar’s wealth goes to the media service Al Jazeera, which is not always kind about Middle East governments as well as supporting grassroots efforts to overturn autocracies during the Arab Spring. But the power structure in the Middle East is shifting.

After only two years leading Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz has named his son as his replacement  instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulazizto. The transfer to Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was peaceful perhaps because he demanded that the Israelis send 18 fighter jets in case of any measures by bin Nayef. Bin Salman has headed up the country’s military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and U.S. officials expressed concern over his reckless gambles last year with the economy and the Yemen conflicts. His leadership may seriously affect gas prices because he support’s OPEC’s desire to prop up oil prices through limiting worldwide oil production.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had banked on his friendship with Russia to make money, but widespread publicity has caused serious problems with this close relationship. His fawning over Saudi Arabia during his May trip indicates that he may have transferred his allegiance to another country that can provide him great financial gains.

Foreign agents for Russia are disappearing from DDT’s circle, but he started to add at least one with Saudi connections. Richard Hohlt, who earned $430,000 thus far this year as a registered foreign agent lobbying for Saudi Arabia, is DDT’s nominee for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The donor to DDT’s campaign would make recommendations for prestigious White House fellowships. “I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” DDT tweeted last October.  DDT has turned to stocking the swamp.

DDT has shifted his position toward Saudi Arabia in several ways. During his campaign he claimed that the Saudis were behind the 9/11 attacks, and after he was inaugurated, he complained about the U.S. losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.  The U.S. has long known about Saudi Arabia’s terrorism. According to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In September 2014, she wrote that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL [Daesh] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The adulation that DDT received during his stay in Saudi Arabia flipped his attitude. He needed a reason for his 180-degree turnabout so he is claiming that the U.S. “can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.” Another DDT tweet read, “Perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.” His position is terrifying other Gulf States that fear the same ostracism as Qatar. Saudi’s goal is to isolate Iran. Bin Salman said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.” He claims that Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis because of Iran although the group has almost no support from Iranians.

The Saudi war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians because of their targeting hospitals, marketplaces, civilian neighborhoods, and even a funeral for bombing. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has said that these actions “look like war crimes.” Washington has provided the Saudis with cluster munitions, aircraft, and aerial refueling services as well as intelligence on targets. The destruction has blocked aid groups from providing food, medicine, and other essential supplies to civilians suffering from a cholera outbreak and a massive famine. The result is a strengthened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from its increased influence in Yemen.

The Obama administration supported Saudi Arabia to persuade the leaders that the U.S. had not moved over to Iran but backed off after Congress and humanitarian groups opposed the Saudi targeting of Yemen civilians. In December 2016, the U.S. suspended a sale of laser-guided bombs and other munitions to the Saudi military.

The new administration has lifted this suspension despite 47 votes collected from a Senate coalition led by Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY). Defense Secretary James Mattis has advocated far more support for Saudi attacks with intelligence sharing and possible U.S. troops. Mattis had declared that Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” DDT has promised $110 billion worth of arms to the Saudis, about the same as during both President Obama’s terms. That includes over 100,000 bombs like those used on Yemen.

For Saudi Arabia, DDT is the ideal U.S. president if they can overlook his rejection of Muslims and non-white people. He prefers dictatorships to human rights, prizes loyalty above all else (except money), is controlled by fanatically anti-Iran generals, and shows himself to be highly susceptible to flattery. DDT’s missile strikes in Syria put him on the side of Saudi Arabia instead of Syria and prolongs the civil war that the Assad regime will most likely win.

While DDT was making a speech in Saudi Arabia telling people that he is not there “to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be,” Iran’s reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected on a platform of combatting extremism and expanding individual freedoms. On the other hand, the Saudis spend tens of millions of dollars to place its violent, extremist version of Islam throughout the world, including the European Union. The Saudi extremist version of Islam, Wahhabi, has been responsible for 96 percent of terrorist casualties since 2001, and Saudis were 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks. Dissent in Saudi Arabia is punishable by beheading—and that includes the press. Saudi Arabia lacks election and imprisons critics,and women are second-class citizens in many ways.

DDT pledged a foreign policy to stay out of the Middle East because past U.S. “foreign interventions unleashed ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya.” (For once, he was right!) In a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, the Islam world is choosing sides with Russia leading Syria, and Iran. Saudi Arabia expects the United States to lead up the opposition to DDT’s former BFF, Russia. Now the U.S. is taking actions far more hawkish than voters feared from candidate Hillary Clinton. This path will divide Syria into religious/ethnic separations and be in the midst of a global war against Russia.  The U.S. shot down a Syrian army plane, the first such attack in 18 years, and sent more military member to southeast Syria. Despite a claim of staying within a “deconfliction zone,” the troops are over 100 miles from its supposed base. Another 3,000 to 5,000 new troops are destined for Afghanistan. DDT has abdicated his responsibly as commander-in-chief to “Mad Dog” Mattis who got his name from razing Fallujah in Iraq. Other general—National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford—are aiding and abetting.

The generals and DDT are hoping that Congress doesn’t notice that the executive branch cannot constitutionally declare war, but the House has taken a step toward restricting DDT. For years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced an amendment to the 2018 military spending bill in the Appropriations Committee to require congressional debate and approval for U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other world countries. Lee’s measure would repeal the 2001 authorization for the president to take action in situations connected to 9/11, a law that presidents have liberally used—over actions in almost 20 countries around the world and deployments in at least ten. President Obama kept asking Congress to create new legislation for his attacks, but the Republicans ignored him.

Every year Lee failed—until now. The House GOP leadership is resisting, but the committee vote was unanimous in favor of Lee’s amendment. Lee persisted—and achieved a victory.

June 14, 2017

Media Consumed by Sessions’ Testimony, Emoluments Clause Lawsuits

The most transparent—in some ways—action in Congress this week was the testimony of AG Jeff Sessions when he complained about “scurrilous” allegations, waffled on some answers, and claimed that “only the president can claim executive privilege.” The head of the Department of Justice doesn’t even know the law: both presidents and members of their administration can refuse to answer questions or even respond to subpoenas. Sessions passed along an erroneous perspective of executive privilege that Brian Williams falsely confirmed on MSNBC.  The AG found himself in a pickle with his false claim.

John McCain (R-AZ), a guest at the hearing because he is on another committee, complained about Kamala Harris (D-CA) who tried to keep Sessions from limiting her questions by talking nonstop. A notable Sessions quote to her is that being rushed “makes me nervous.” Chair Richard Burr allowed Sessions to take up time by grandstanding Harris’ (left) questions, the same way that he did last week in testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sessions smirked when he was able to avoid her last “yes or no” question. He had preceded his stalling by vigorously stating, ”I am not stonewalling.” (It’s not good when a person has to deny this!) People being questioned know that senators have a finite number of minutes, and they can avoid embarrassing questions by stalling. Sessions insisted that he didn’t answer questions because DDT may want to declare executive privilege any time in the future.

Sessions declared that he was “following the historic policies of the Department of Justice” by not answering questions, but he could not cite any of these policies when Harris asked him about specifics.  Other senators brought up former AG Eric Holder’s refusal to discuss conversations with President Obama as precedent for Sessions’ refusals to answer questions, not a good idea because he was held in contempt. As Sessions pointed out, however, he was testifying in front of his “colleagues” so there probably won’t be a problem of that sort.

The male senators have a history of reprimanding only female senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) silenced Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during confirmation hearings for Sessions and then complained, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Much of Sessions’ testimony was “I can’t answer that” and “I can’t recall.” But other parts were more revealing than that from James Comey, who released his information the day before the hearing.

  • Sessions claimed at the beginning of the hearing that he had no third meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak but he started to hedge his answers about the issue throughout his testimony.
  • Sessions claimed that he had recused himself from all DDT ties to Russia the day after he was sworn into office, but there is a question why no one—not the public and not his associates—knew about the recusal for another month.
  • Sessions said he doesn’t know if Russia was involved with the presidential election because he didn’t read anything about the possibility except in the media.
  • Sessions covered for DDT by disclaiming Comey’s testimony, finally exploding into calling it a “secret innuendo.”

GOP senators may have covered for Sessions in the hearing, but Burr did request—very politely—further information and documents from him.

On the same day that Sessions gave his weak testimony, at least 196 Democrats in Congress sued DDT for violating the Emolument Clause, the part of the U.S. Constitution that prevents presidents from taking gifts from foreign nations without the approval of Congress. Like other lawsuits against DDT in connection with the Emoluments Clause, this one will ask that DDT reveal his business affairs and put his holdings in a blind trust or sell them. A court ruling for these members of Congress to proceed would make history as the first since the U.S. became a country.

Other lawsuits come from owners of businesses in Washington, D.C. competing with DDT’s hotels and restaurants and the states of D.C. and Maryland represented by their attorneys general because businesses are at a disadvantage. Soon after DDT’s inauguration, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued DDT on the same basis of the other lawsuits. There is no precedent for the suit, now pending in New York, but an argument for dismissing the case is lack of standing for the plaintiffs. Several examples of DDT profiting are listed in the lawsuit, including the lease for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China that is due to expire during DDT’s term. Favorable terms for the rental could be a financial gift to the president.

Government lawyers contend that this prohibition doesn’t count for DDT. If a federal court decides whether the case can continue, the plaintiffs will request that DDT’s personal tax returns be publicly revealed.

Another media concern for the week is whether DDT plans to fire the special investigator selected by Rosenstein to investigate Russia–and probably DDT. Technically, he cannot do that, but he can fire Rosenstein and keep replacing him until he finds someone for the Justice Department who will then fire the investigator. Sessions has no control because he has recused himself, but he may violate the recusal as he has in recommending that James Comey be fired. At this time, the White House claims that there are no plans to get rid of the investigator because staffers begged him to do it, but DDT’s decision depends on who he talked with last.

Last week, DDT’s declaration of “Infrastructure Week” failed to draw attention from James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He tried the same thing this week with a focus on workplace development. At the same time, people are learning more about the workplaces that provide clothing for daughter Ivanka Trump’s business. Ivanka’s claim of “women’s empowerment” and “paid child care” rings hollow with the revelation that the women working in the factory manufacturing Ivanka-branded clothing make so little that they cannot afford to live with their children. Employees at the factory in Subang (Indonesia) earn $173 a month, the lowest legal wage in the entire country. The factory does give them an extra $10.50 if they don’t take time off for menstrual periods.

Workers making Ivanka’s clothes in China earned about $62 per week, below the legal minimum wage, and sometimes work 86 hours overtime a month with the legal limit at 36 hours. Since April, Ivanka has said that they no longer buy clothes from that factory—maybe because Indonesia is cheaper. That was the rationale for moving Ivanka’s shoe factory from China to Ethiopia last year: five Ethiopians at the Addis Ababa are paid the same as one Chinese worker.

Spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, the week focuses on promotion of expansion of apprenticeship programs. Will this allow lower pay than minimum wage so that Ivanka’s and DDT’s business purchases can come to the U.S.? The media has paid almost no attention, however, as Jeff Sessions, Russia, and lawsuits are swallowing up the news.

June 9, 2017

Comey on DDT: ‘Lies, Plain & Simple’

Fox network and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may have tried to paint former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee as a success for the White House, but headlines throughout the United States say otherwise—concentrating on the words “lies,” “lied,” and “liar” in reference to DDT. In some cases, Comey gave direct evidence of how DDT had lied about their interactions; in other cases, he answered questions such as whether DDT colluded with Russia by saying that he couldn’t “answer in an open setting.” Translation for that statement is likely “yes, but it’s classified.”

DDT wasn’t the only person who took hits in Comey’s testimony; AG Jeff Sessions suffered too. To another question he couldn’t “discuss in an open setting,” Comey indicated a relationship between the new attorney general and Russia.

Comey also pulled VP Mike Pence into the DDT morass with his answer to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) question about whether Pence knew about Michael Flynn’s Russian connections during the transition after the election. Comey’s response was “my understanding is that he was,” meaning that Pence lied about his ignorance.

Not one GOP senator refuted Comey’s testimony; instead they praised him and his testimony. About DDT’s lies, however, they seemed nonchalant. The Intelligence Committee’s chair, Richard Burr (R-NC), expressed no concern about DDT’s demand for loyalty or his lying about requiring this from the FBI director.  Ezra Klein wrote:

 

“Trump’s behavior, in Comey’s telling, is more befitting of a Mafioso than a president. He asks, repeatedly, for loyalty, and shows no evident understanding of the norms or institutions that bind American presidents. His actions would be worrying if they came from the regional manager of a Scranton paper firm; they are terrifying coming from the most powerful man in the world.”

Michael Winship wrote that “the testimony of the fired FBI director revealed a president who sees himself more crime boss than chief executive.” Maybe that’s what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose lawyer Christopher Wray has just been appointed as FBI director, meant when he called DDT’s statements “normal New York City conversation.”

Other politicians argued that DDT only expressed “hope” that Comey would let the Michael Flynn thing go because he’s a “good guy.” (Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) pointed out that the word “hope” carries great weight if it’s delivered by a man pointing a gun.) House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) justified all of DDT’s lying, asking for special favors from the FBI director in private meetings called by DDT, and his possible obstruction of justice by saying that “he’s just new to this.” This is a GOP claim who lectured the U.S. nonstop about obstruction of justice after Bill Clinton had a casual conversation with then AG Loretta Lynch.

Conservative media pundits aren’t that sanguine. WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin called Comey’s testimony “a devastating day for the president” that “could spell the beginning of the end of his administration.” She said, “What [Comey] painted was not any one incident but a portrait of the way this guy operates.”

On the other hand, Tucker Carlson, Bill O’Reilly’s replacement on Fox, used his show to  smear Comey. Carlson’s news operation, Daily Caller, received $150,000 from DDT’s campaign.

The oddest part of Comey’s almost three-hour appearance came from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), allowed time for questioning because he chairs the Armed Services Committee. With muttered, sometimes slurred, and occasionally incoherent speech, he referred to Comey once when talking about DDT. McCain seemed confused when Comey said that the FBI was done with investigating Hillary Clinton and stated that she was clearly involved in whole Russian situation because she was a candidate for president. Later McCain tried to explain away his highly confusing questioning to sleeplessness. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also failed to understand how the FBI’s extensive investigation into Clinton’s private mail server exonerated her in testimony about the GOP blocking the possible GOP campaigners’ colluding with the Russian interference in a U.S. election.

With his keepers in the room during the testimony, DDT kept his Twitter quiet, but his namesake didn’t. Lindsay Gibbs wrote:

“Donald Trump Jr. tweeted or re-tweeted a total of 50 times during Comey’s testimony, proving once again that the apple does not fall far from the tree. There were poorly threaded rants, out-of-context reactions, and dozens of RTs of right-wing accounts, one which had the name ‘CNN is ISIS & Hitler.’”

DDT’s privately retained lawyer has his own limitations. His first response to James Comey’s testimony began with “I am Marc Kasowitz, Predisent Trump’s personal lawyer.” His smears of Comey and defense of DDT may not be taken seriously when he can’t correctly spell his client’s position. Kasowitz then made an error in a main point about when the New York Times published information about Comey’s memos. (Surely, DDT’s lawyer wouldn’t lie to support his premises.) The rest of Kasowitz’s brief talk largely misrepresented Comey’s statements.

Comey testified that he took copious notes on their meetings because he “was honestly concerned [DDT] might lie about the nature of our meeting.” DDT’s lawyer has stated that he will file a complaint against Comey’s “leaking” his notes to the press, but legal experts have indicated that there is nothing illegal because a private citizen provided non-classified information. Others think that DDT’s lawyer’s action could at least be abusing DDT’s authority if not committing obstruction of justice if they ask the DOJ to open an investigation without clear merits.

Regarding the responses to the GOP expressions of their victory from Comey’s testimony, Christian Schneider, USA Today’s Board of Contributors, has the best response to GOP expressions of victory from Comey’s testimony:

“To say that Comey’s testimony ‘vindicates’ Trump in any way ignores giant swaths of what the former FBI director actually said — it’s like leaving the theater after seeing Wonder Woman and telling people it’s a World War I documentary. This is the place where Trump’s supporters exist: Rather than seeing the president for who he clearly is, they construct an entirely different Trump in the negative space around him.”

The day before Comey’s testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, refused to answer questions from the Senate Oversight Committee, in violation of the oath they gave when they took those positions. If they don’t answer the questions, they must legally invoke the 5th or claim executive privilege. Rogers merely said that he didn’t “feel” like answer the questions. Coats said he no “legal basis” for his refusal. It appears that this is their approach to keep their jobs.

In an attempt to divert attention from Comey’s testimony, DDT announced Christopher Wray as his nominee for FBI director. One reason might be that Wray was the lawyer who got Chris Christie out of “Bridgegate” trouble after he closed the George Washington bridge, but the nomination may be awkward. Wray’s firm works for the Russians and advises DDT’s untrustworthy “trust.”

Asked if he would be willing to testify under oath, DDT said, “100 percent.” At least for now.

Nicole Serratore has an excellent opinion piece in the New York Times about DDT and Comey called “James Comey and the Predator in Chief.” She wrote that the interaction was like “the experience of a woman being harassed by her powerful, predatory boss. There was precisely that sinister air of coercion, of an employee helpless to avoid unsavory contact with an employer who is trying to grab what he wants.” DDT demanded “dinner for two” and loyalty, both of which Comey didn’t want to provide. Yet Comey didn’t know how to get out of the situation. He tried to avoid any contact with DDT and even asked Sessions to not leave them alone. In claiming to Comey that “we had that thing,” the manipulator seducer DDT insinuates a non-existent shared intimacy to make his victim complicit. Now DDT supporters are blaming Comey for not being “stronger,” another parallel to victimizing victims. They claim that the problem belongs to Comey when DDT is at fault.

As one tweet pointed out about Mike Pence’s declaration that he could never have a meal alone with a woman not his wife. Everyone should avoid having dinner alone with DDT.

June 8, 2017

50th Anniversary of Israeli Preemptive Strike against U.S.

Today, June 8, is USS Liberty Remembrance Day to commemorate a little-known event—the first and only time that a Middle East country attacked the United States. On that day, 50 years ago, Israel attacked the USS Liberty in international waters about 25 miles off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Flying the U.S. flag, the largely unarmed intelligence ship was monitoring communications between the USSR and Egypt to anticipate intervention in Israel’s Six Day War with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

Israeli planes and torpedo boats attacked this US Navy research ship, the USS Liberty in the Mediterranean Sea near the Sinai Peninsula 6/8. 

After observing the ship with radar tracking and hourly aircraft-over flights for more than nine hours, unmarked Israeli warplanes led an air attack followed by three Israeli torpedo boats. Of the 821 holes in the USS Liberty, a 40-foot one was in the hull. The hour-long attack included napalm munitions dropped on the decks and machine gun fire on stretcher-bearers and life rafts. Ultimately, Israelis killed 34 U.S. sailors and injured another 17. With transmission equipment destroyed and all but one of the six U.S. radio frequencies jammed, the ship sent one “mayday.” Although defensive aircraft was launched from a nearby carrier group, the White House recalled them. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara stated, “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.” Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State, disagreed:

“I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.”

Despite Israelis’ claim that they misidentified the vessel, the jamming of U.S. frequencies, testimony from survivors about low surveillance flyovers, and intercepted radio transmissions between the Israelis and Tel Aviv proved differently. One Israeli pilot who refused to attack was later court-martialed. According to CIA sources, Gen. Moshe Dayan, commander of Israeli forces during the Six Day War, had ordered the Liberty attacked and sunk.

Liberty survivors were threatened with court-martial if they told the truth, yet at least four of them have written books about the event. The U.S. government told the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, Adm. Thomas Moorer, not to investigate. After he retired, Moorer led a blue-ribbon, independent commission that included testimony from Capt. Ward Boston, the Navy’s chief military attorney in the original hearing. He confirmed that the original hearing into the attack had whitewashed the entire event.

Before Moorer died in 2004, he said, “I’ve never seen a President … stand up to Israel. … If the American people understood what a grip these people have on our government, they would rise up in arms.” Former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck echoed Moorer when he described the federal government’s attitude toward Israel as “obsequious, unctuous subservience … at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”

Moorer’s commission concluded that “Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew” and that “Israel committed acts of murder against American servicemen and an act of war against the United States.” It recommended the annual remembrance day to “commemorate the Liberty’s heroic crew; and to educate the American people of the danger to our national security inherent in any passionate attachment of our elected officials for any foreign nation.”

Many people in the U.S. think that Israelis fought the Six Day War to protect themselves from Egypt. Largely ignored is a statement from former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1982 that described Israel’s preemptive Six Day War in 1967, a war leading to the displacement of over one million Palestinians:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Lieutenant Commander David Lewis, the Liberty’s senior Naval Security Group officer stated:

“They took out all of our transmitting antennas, and shortly thereafter deposited napalm there on the deck. It appeared to me that it was the intent of the attacker to take out all communications and keep all people off deck so they couldn’t re-establish any sort of antennas or communication system. If it was an accident, it was the best planned accident I ever heard of. The only reason we got the SOS out was because my crazy troops were climbing the antenna string and long wire while they were being shot at.”

A BBC film, USS Liberty Dead in the Water, details the attack and argues that the attack was to keep the U.S. from knowing about the forthcoming attack in the Golan Heights, which would violate a cease-fire agreement. The 68-minute video is available here. More information is in an article by Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst in 1967,and a Wikipedia piece. Also interesting are an Intercept about the coverup and photographs from the USS Liberty.

The USS Liberty was attacked 50 years ago. Today, the man inaugurated on January 20, 2017, is instigating war with around the world. In the past week, he alienated Qatar by siding with Saudi Arabia and goaded Iran with the tweet to about the attack in Tehran by Iranians recruited by ISIS causing at least 17 dead and 52 wounded:

 “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the message “repugnant … as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.” Weapons killing people in the Middle East come from the U.S., both those sold to Middle East countries and those the U.S. lost in Iraq,  including more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment” channeled to Iraq under the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF).

Last month DDT worked on attacking North Korea, and the conflict has again reared its ugly head. North Korea keeps firing missiles, and the U.S. has two aircraft carriers within attacking distance of the country. Right now DDT likes China because they gave him copyrights and he thinks he needs them as protection against North Korea after he dumped NATO. But what happens if he loses his temper and goes after China?

At this time, DDT is at war with the press and the Department of Justice. He wants tens of billions more for the military and has turned all decisions over to the Pentagon that will “protect” the country with munitions. He no longer protects people in the U.S. from domestic terrorism if it is perpetrated by white supremacists. The U.S. is at the mercy of a twitch of his finger on a button that he may confuse with the button to order more Diet Coke. Our nation has developed a great fondness for preemptive attacks—like Israel. Congress is supposed to be able to stop the president from starting wars. But the U.S. has not had any wars since World War II; it merely has “conflicts,” that might be started without any congressional authorization. With Jared Kushner in trouble, white supremacist Steve Bannon is back in charge of the White House. In March 2016, he stated, “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years.” The question is how long it will take for Republicans to understand how close the nation is to a nuclear war—if they ever do.

Or maybe DDT is just all fake news. The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia doesn’t exist, his order to privatize the air traffic controllers is just an order to develop “principles.” There is no tax bill, and GOP congressional members hate his budget. A parliamentarian shot down the senate version of Trumpcare at a time when GOP senators are at each other’s throats. And Congress will be in session only 36 days during the next four months when the deadline comes for raising the debt ceiling—always an exciting process—and passing a budget to avoid a government shutdown. Maybe, like the past six years, the GOP won’t be able to do anything, and DDT will be tweeting about James Comey.

The world may be turning around. Today in Great Britain, people may have voted against the conservatives, Prime Minister Teresa May, and the large support for Brexit—leaving the European Union. May had called for a “snap” election seven weeks ago with the hopes of reinforcing her position. Now it appears that the Conservatives won’t have a majority in Parliament, and she may even lose her position. Here’s an early analysis. For more detail, The Guardian is running frequent updates.

[Thanks to Jack Dresser, national vice-chairman of the Veterans for Peace working group on Palestine and the Middle East and co-director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, for educating me about the USS Liberty Remembrance Day and its background.]

June 6, 2017

War in Middle East: DDT’s Path to Popularity?

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:51 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Many world leaders fear that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants a war to increase his popularity. What if it is true? Less than two weeks ago, he came home for a nine-day trip that included a visit to Saudi Arabia, and a senior official declared, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.” The unity doesn’t exist—especially since yesterday’s rift in the Middle East when Saudi Arabia led eight countries to isolate Qatar over its supposed support for terrorism.

One theory for Saudi Arabia’s action is DDT’s empowerment of Saudi with warmth for them and an excessive criticism of Iran. DDT worsened the situation by seeming to take credit for the problems in the Middle East through his tweets. He began with this one:

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

DDT added praise for Saudi Arabia’s actions in isolating Qatar:

“They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

The tweets were his usual early morning, knee-jerk reaction with no involvement with his administrative officials.

The action: Eight countries have severed diplomatic ties with the tiny country of Qatar, about the size of Connecticut with a population of under 2.3 million with only 12 percent of them natives and the others workers, most of them from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Five countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—started the dispute, and Libya, Mauritius, and the Maldives joined in. Countries have stopped flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital, and Saudi Arabia eliminated all land, sea and air links with Qatar. The country’s diplomats have been told to leave foreign posts from some of the countries as well as Qatari citizens.

The reason: Qatar is criticized for its reputed support of the Muslim brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group that Saudi Arabia and UAE consider a terrorist organization. Then Saudi Arabia became incensed with Qatar-owned Al Jazeera’s news story supporting Israel and Iran; both Saudi and UAE blocked access to the television network as well as other Qatari newspaper websites. According to U.S. intelligence, the news story was fake news from Russian hackers, but Qatar’s opponents didn’t believe the information. Then Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection. Qatar News Agency’s website is still offline because of hacking attempts. Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, and Saudi Arabia sees this as a problem to them as well as Iran’s nuclear program and its growing influence in the Middle East. The Saudis have accused Qatari officials of meeting with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Problems for Qatar: Almost all food in Qatar comes from Saudi Arabia which has stopped shipping to the nation, and trucks carrying food may be stranded on the Saudi side of the border. A major global airlines, Qatar Airlines must now detour around airspace above Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE at highly increased fuel costs, flight times, and ticket prices. That creates a hardship for families that live in Dubai and commute to Doha, a 45-minute flight before the barricade. Qatar is also scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and the recent action keeps supplies, workers, and possibly soccer fans from easily going in and out of the country.

Problems for Qatari neighbors—and the U.S.: The country has over a $300 billion sovereign wealth fund founded in 2005 to increase money from its natural resources. As the world largest LNG exporter with pipelines in the Gulf, Qatar could cut off supplies. The Al Udeid Ari Base, the principal U.S. regional center responsible for daily air missions and air operations coordination against ISIS is located on Qatar. The country also houses the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which manages all U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. About 11,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed there.

Demands: Saudi Arabia has not been specific about what they expect from Qatar although they have stated that they expect a stop to terrorism. They could also demand the closure of Al Jazeera, the television network that launched English-language programming.

Pentagon is trying to stop the damage: spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that the U.S. is “grateful to the Qataris for the longstanding support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.” Yes, Qatar supports groups considered terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. But so does Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. military bases in Qatar also allows it to be an intermediary between this country and theirs. For example, Qatar was instrumental in dealing with the Taliban to release U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Knowing that the U.S. needs to be good terms with all countries in the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked for the countries “to sit down together and address these differences” because “it is important that the [Gulf Cooperation Council] remain unified.”

DDT’s tweet is another of his 180-degree turns. He had never accused of Qatar promoting radical ideology before, and in fact he has praised Qatar. During his visit in Saudia Arabia, DDT said that U.S. relations with Qatar were “extremely good.” During that speech to the Saudis, DDT also said, “Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner.” On that trip DDT also met separately with the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (left), on May 21 and discussed the “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.” He told reporters, “We are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time now, haven’t we?” As for the sales to Qatar, DDT said, “That means jobs, and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”

DDT has 270,000 reasons for supporting Saudi Arabia: that’s the number of dollars that the Saudis have paid for stays at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for lodging, catering, and parking. The group paying DDT is the organization lobbying against the law that permits victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign government, meaning that Saudi Arabia could be financially responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Part of the Saudi lobbying campaign is recruiting U.S. veterans and sending them on luxury trips to Washington. DDT’s hotel is a very nice place for them to stay.

Leaders in the Western world consider the Saudi regime a danger to public security because of its dissemination of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islamism practiced in Saudi Arabia that has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. Saudi claimed that the restrictions against Qatar were caused by the nation’s support of terrorism. After George W. Bush’s war in Iraq put Shia Muslims in control, open polarization between Sunni and Shia Muslims have increasingly polarized the entire Middle East as Saudi Arabian Sunni fundamentalists exacerbate their battle against Iranian Shiites.

The current problem is said to be the worst in the region since the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed 36 years ago. Although Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, is predominantly Shia, the country has tried to stay neutral between the Saudi-Iran conflict. Sunnis want the nation to take sides with them. Qatar has also been blamed for the 2011 Arab Spring overturning regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. The dispute is the most serious to hit the region since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council 36 years ago.

When George W. Bush blew up the Middle East in the early 21st century, he knew little about its politics and culture. DDT knows less. But maybe he thinks that he can match Bush’s popularity if he just blows up the world.

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