Nel's New Day

April 21, 2017

DDT: Week Thirteen on the Foreign Front

Right before Earth Day tomorrow, the planet won a victory when the Treasury Department refused to grant ExxonMobil a waiver for a joint drilling deal in the Black Sea with Russia’s state oil company. Current U.S. sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea require waivers. President Obama opposed the same plan in 2015 after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson created it as Exxon’s CEO. In the words of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “Are you crazy?” My cynic bone wonders what the current administration is planning that is worse that the waiver to the sanctions.

Thus far, DDT’s only victory in over 90 days was getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court although it required breaking Senate rules. Gorsuch made his first public decision—to kill a man. In its rush to kill eight inmates on death row for 24-26 years before state drugs expired, Arkansas decided to kill them in eleven days. Judicial stays kept these men alive for a few days, but Gorsuch joined the conservative block on the high court to kill at least one of them. Ledell Lee, the first man executed, had fetal alcohol syndrome disorder with significant brain damage and intellectual disability. He has always claimed that he is innocent and that one of his lawyers was drunk and another was mentally ill. The state refused to allow him to take a DNA test to compare evidence collected at the scene of the crime. The judge in the case was having an affair with the prosecutor and later married her. None of the blood at the crime scene belonged to Lee, and forensic evidence of hairs has been discredited. It’s not surprising for Gorsuch to kill the Arkansas inmate because he had ruled in Colorado that a man should lose his job if he chose to save his life.

In the Company of Tyrants: Even conservatives are outraged that DDT called to congratulate Turkish President ­Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his new, almost dictatorial powers by winning a referendum after possible election tampering. Erdogan’s authoritarian rule has destroyed any separation of church and state in an Islamic regime and arrested any critics as well as a roundup of journalists. After last summer’s attempted coup, Erdogan had already detained, suspended, or dismissed almost 200,000 people including state officials and teachers. The new referendum would replace the parliamentary system with a presidential one and abolish the prime minister. Erdogan, who could stay in power until 2029, could intervene in the judiciary, control the nominees for parliament’s nominees, directly appoint top government officials, and declare a state of emergency with no justification. DDT’s congratulatory statement not only contradicts the official message from the U.S. State Department but also was made before the vote is final. It is still being contested. Reasons given for DDT’s congratulations include ignorance, carelessness, or an agreement with Erdogan’s ideology. Or it could simply be because he has business interests in Turkey: in the past, he said that he had a “conflict of interest” in the country (tower on right). If the referendum wins the “yes” votes, Turkey will become a total dictatorship.

Question of Chemical Attacks in Syria: DDT may hope that problems in North Korea keep people from wondering if his April 7 preemptive strikes on Syria—his first open act of war—was based on false information. Although the deaths of people on April 4 have not been contested, questions about the type of gas and the perpetrators remain because of no independent, international investigation. Two longtime experts in war studies and missile systems maintain that DDT’s intelligence report about Syria’s role is “false” and “fraudulent” as well as a “coverup.” They purport that the intelligence report about an air attack is not substantiated by evidence and that the official report did not use the methodologies that it claimed: the information released by the White House is political, not scientific. In 2013, President Obama was given incorrect information that Syria perpetrated an attack but did not retaliate because intelligence did not support that information. Instead, DDT, like George W. Bush, made preemptive strikes against a country that didn’t attack the United States, without accurate information. Support for the experts’ information is that there is no plan for an investigation—just a move forward to inflame North Korea into military action. The world has become a far more dangerous place in DDT’s less than 100 days.

Ships Far from North Korea: One piece of DDT’s saber-rattling in northeast Asia was to declare that he had ordered an “armada” (actually six ships) close to North Korea. Two weeks later the media discovered that the ships “steaming,” in Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s words, toward North Korea were headed in the opposite direction several thousand miles away after the Navy released photographs and the location of the Carl Vinson in the Sundra Strait, 3,500 miles away. The White House blamed the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the mistake although U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mistakenly told Fox that the ships were rerouted from Singapore to the Korean peninsula as a “prudent” show of force. That’s DDT’s military’s second bad mistake this month: the earlier one referred to the biggest non-nuclear weapon that it used on Afghanistan as “the type of weapon for the type of target” and how it sent a message.

South Korea’s “Concern” with DDT: The egregious “mistake” about the ships’ location upset South Koreans who felt “bewildered, cheated and manipulated by the United States, their country’s most important ally,” according to the New York Times. AP went farther with words such as “unpredictable,” “unhinged,” and “dangerous.” DDT also angered South Koreans by his assertion that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Invaded by its neighbor and forced to pay tribute, Koreans state that the idea that they were once Chinese subjects is highly insulting. DDT is alienating one country almost every every week–South Korea, Great Britain, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and China plus Canada after DDT scolded the nation for what the dairy industry did to our workers.” The addition of Colombia brings the total to nine.

Secret Meeting at Mar-a-Lago: Last weekend, DDT interrupted his golf games to meet undercover with former Columbian presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana, former presidents of Colombia to undermine the current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to end Latin America’s longest armed conflict. The White House also lied about the meeting: it claimed just a brief “hello” because the two men were at the resort, but Pastrana thanked DDT for the “cordial and very frank conversation” about Colombia’s challenges. DDT also ignored any diplomatic coordination with the State Department. Columbia reported that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an opponent of the peace plans, set up the meeting with the three men.

State Department v. Tillerson: During his campaign, DDT called the Iran Deal “the worst deal ever negotiated” and promised to rip it up on day one. This week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the deal a failure, warned this week that Iran’s nuclear weapons could be as bad as North Korea, and accused the country of causing “alarming and ongoing provocations.” At the same time, he wrote House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that Iran was upholding its commitments, and the State Department released the same positive information. In response to Tillerson’s criticism of Iran, its foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, faulted the U.S. for trying to distract from its “abysmal” human rights record, which includes DDT’s Muslim ban, and the U.S. support of Israel, which Zarif claimed has an “illegal” nuclear arsenal. Tillerson made his comments about Iran as a disruptive force on the same day that he praised Saudi Arabia that is trying to reinstate Yemen’s ousted president by killing thousands of civilians in airstrikes.

Raising Prices: DDT signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order while in Wisconsin. Part of it changes rules for the H-1B visa program which keeps some highly skilled workers from coming to the U.S. and may send companies that employ them out of the country. At the same time, he saved the visa program for lower-paid workers, like his own because, as he said in the past, “it’s very, very hard to get people.” DDT wants to do away with the waivers in these mandates—except ones that let him buy all the products for his business more cheaply from foreign countries. DDT’s order has no weight unless Congress passes a law to support it or changes past laws, for example the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 that treats products made in foreign countries as domestic if the countries, almost 60 at this time, have a trade agreement with the United States. There are no plans to carry out his order, which would cause prices to skyrocket. China steel, for example, is 70 percent cheaper than what is made in the U.S., and a DDT order from last month raised steel prices 19 percent.

Obsession of Gold: Known for wasting taxpayer money in the United States, DDT is moving the selfishness to Britain on his upcoming visit in October. Despite the cost and the lack of security, he demands that he ride to a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in a golden coach—just like Mexican President Peña Nieto, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s the “ugly American” made more hideous than ever.

Tomorrow covers DDT’s damage in domestic issues.

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

April 8, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven, Bomb and Revoke

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Two days ago, on the 100th anniversary of U.S. entering World War I, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the bombing of the Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria. The $80-million raid was a knee-jerk reaction from a bully now desperate to create his own 9/11 moment to raise his ratings. The Syrian attack on its own people was horrific, but no more than what Bashar Al-Assad has done to them in the past when he killed hundreds of thousands with starve and surrender, repeatedly bombed hospitals, and carried out two savage chemical weapons attacks. Yet DDT did nothing until his approval ratings were barely better than those of Congress.

Before the attack, senior officials and foreign countries were notified so that they could escape, leaving innocent civilians, at least nine of whom were killed including four children, to suffer DDT’s “presidential” moment. The Syrian military evacuated personnel and moved equipment, and the airstrikes avoided runways and bunkers with chemical supplies. U.S. targets were concrete bunkers sheltering planes or helicopters, fuel tanks, and warehouses probably storing convention arms, supplies, and spare parts. The damage, little in terms of Assad’s overall force, may have been less than currently assessed with fuel and ammunition readily available in the Middle East. Jets took off the day after the U.S. bombing for airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, the site of Assad’s most recent attack, and seven other town, again killing several civilians.

DDT has announced that this is a one-time deal, leaving Assad to further persecute his people, and DDT’s “travel ban” goes to court on May 15 so that he can keep Syrians out of the U.S. Russia reported that Syrian authorities are searching for 36 Tomahawk missiles that missed the target and fell outside the base and promised to help Syria strengthen its air defenses by launching one of its biggest deployments in decades. Yet DDT’s priority, according to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, is a regime change by removing Assad.

DDT has no policy except to criticize past unsuccessful interventions—forcing Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991; conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo; and removal of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The United States is still in Afghanistan and Iraq in the longest war of U.S. history, 14 years old as of March 20. The only past successes have been to create more terrorists, just as this bombing will do. Either DDT will be satisfied with raising his ratings in a one-time shot, or he will be in the midst of the mess that he blamed on President Obama.

A serious question is whether DDT’s actions are constitutional because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. Presidents have been using authority for attacks in the Middle East from the 2001 authorization for presidents to use the military against any entity that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” DDT can claim that he is using the deal that President Obama brokered with the UN, but that resolution prevented military action unless authorized by its Security Council. In his speech following the bombing, DDT used the “national interest” argument which Republicans will repeat ad infinitum on the Sunday morning news shows. Following the U.S. Constitution, however, is not important to DDT or the Republicans who want to “de-operationalize” the United States.

Far-right conservatives are unhappy with DDT’s bombing; they believed DDT when he said that he would “put America first.” In the American Conservative, Daniel Larison explains that position. Today’s protests in ten U.S. cities compare DDT’s bombing to the start of the Iraq “War,” preemptive strikes because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. As of yet, there is no proof that this attack used chemicals just as Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

While GOP members of Congress disagreed about the constitutionality of DDT’s bombing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked when DDT planned to do something about jobs, infrastructure, trade, and other promises that he made during his campaign. About DDT, Schumer said:

“Instead, he has focused on increasing health care costs while taking away health benefits, signing resolutions benefitting big corporate special interests and polluters, and signing divisive and disruptive Executive Orders.”

The Washington Post addresses 13 questions surrounding DDT’s attack on Syria.

Bombing isn’t DDT’s only destructive activity during the past week, some of them against “innocent babies”:

U.S. Children At Risk from Poisoning: “Innocent babies” in the U.S. are at risk because DDT’s hand-picked EPA director, Scott Pruitt, declared the pesticide chlorpyrifos to be safe. The research about the dangers of the substance comes from Pruitt’s own agency, but he gave Dow Chemical the green light to make more money with its use. No one near farms—workers, children, and consumers—can avoid exposure because the poison is in the air, soil, and food. Infants and children are most vulnerable they cannot assimilate the poison that drifts at least 300 feet from the fields. Effects are slower autoimmune disorders, slower motor development , attention problems, reversal of gender differences, and other neurological effects. Exposure during pregnancy retards the mental development of children, and most home use was banned in 2001 in the U.S.

Killing Wildlife: Unlimited slaughter of wolves, bears, and other “predatory” animals on federally-protected national preserves is a good idea, according to the bill that DDT signed this week. The legislation permits killing the animals from airplanes and helicopters, while baiting them, during hibernation, and in steel-jawed leghold traps and dens—including baby animals. As DDT’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric well realize, this encourages “sport” hunting for trophy kills.

Repeal of Equal Pay Act: The day before Equal Pay Day, highlighting the discrepancies between women’s and men’s wages, DDT signed the repeal of the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that required companies with federal contracts to be accountable to fourteen labor laws. The order protected women in the work place by mandating transparency in salaries and claims for sexual assault and discrimination. Many of these women are responsible for feeling “little babies.” More information.

Slowing Job Growth: DDT took credit for the job growth in January and February, but he’s said nothing about the March numbers that added only 98,000 jobs, a ten-month low and well below expectation of 180,00. President Obama’s policies brought 11.5 million new jobs and 75 straight months of job growth; DDT’s second full month in office dropped the number since his reduction of regulations and GOP “tax reforms.” Republicans in Congress hope to increase jobs by giving 99.6 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent. Watch to see if DDT blames President Obama, calls the jobs report “fake news,” or just ignores it.

No Internet Privacy: DDT also signed a highly unpopular bill (80 percent Democratic opposition, 75 percent Republican opposition, and 69 percent independents opposition) behind closed doors. The new law allows cable and telecom companies to secretly sell users’ data, an action making money for big corporations.

Salary Donation: DDT donated $78,000 of his quarterly salary to the Park Service, about half of what taxpayers pay to support his wife and son every day in New York City. DDT doesn’t need this “pittance” because people are paying a fortune to curry favor with him by staying at his hotels and resorts—demonstrated by this tweet from Georgia Amabassador Kaha Imnadze about DDT’s Washington hotel:

“Great #hotel and so far the best service I’ve seen in the United States! Keep it up!”

In another violation of the emoluments clause about not taking gifts, money, or anything else from foreign governments, DDT changed his trust in early February to receive regular financial reports on his businesses and give him the right to pull money from these businesses any time he wishes.

Business is booming at the Trump-branded properties where he spent ten of his first twelve weekends after inauguration, half of them at Mar-a-Lago.

Ultimate DDT Distraction: Accusing former National Security Adviser Susan Rice of trying to “unmask”— reveal names of—DDT transition members who communicated with foreigners under surveillance failed because no one believed it. DDT’s solution to moving the discussion away from his Russian involvement was bombing Syria. In 2013, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused President Obama of wanting a “mere demonstration” when he went to Congress, asking for military action. DDT didn’t bother to ask before he bombed. He articulated his reason for bombing in 2012 when he tweeted: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.” In 2013, DDT tweeted his opposition: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long-term conflict? Obama needs congressional approval.”

One piece of legislation that DDT would like to avoid is the budget. If Congress doesn’t pass it by April 29, the government shuts down. Congress has three days to solve the problem when they get back from a two-week recess facing down those pesky constituents. Meanwhile DDT has no meetings scheduled today because—it’s Saturday?

April 7, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven’s Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The biggest feature of the past week was Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attack on Syria to protect all those “innocent babies” who aren’t good enough to seek refuge in the United States. Less than four years ago, DDT wrote, “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Evidently DDT changed his mind after watching Fox television. When President Obama wanted to attack Syria, Republicans agreed with the former DD: in 2013 183 Republicans opposed bombing the Syria, and only 12 Republicans wanted to bomb Syria. “Innocent babies” were killed in 2013 too.

Foreign Policy by Mixed Message: Just days before Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, killed almost 100 people in what may have been a chemical attack, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that U.S. policy would not remove the tyrant from power. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed the message that there was no reason for the U.S. to attempt regime change in Syria, and DDT supported President Bashar al-Assad because he “is killing ISIS.” After the attack, Haley blamed Assad’s main ally, Russia, and VP Mike Pence said that “all options are on the table,” a common statement from the White House. DDT blamed President Obama. The most logical blame, however, may have come from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was sure that the Assad regime was “encouraged to know that the United States is withdrawing” from the conflict.

Murdering Tyrant Welcomed to White House: Only innocent babies should be saved in DDT’s world. Earlier this week he welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his favorite Middle East strongman, to the White House. Egypt is holding 40,000 to 60,000 political prisoners, including thousands of secular liberal democrats. His security forces were responsible for 1,400 extrajudicial killings in 2016 alone and 912 disappearances between August 2015 and August 2016. Evidently Fox hasn’t shown any footage of this horror because DDT calls the perpetrator a “fantastic guy.”

U.S. Slaughter of Civilians in “Slow and Brutal” Death: If Fox had broadcast the aftermath of the 300+ civilians who were killed by one U.S. attack in Mosul, he might reconsider his military approach. The U.S. military denied having killed these people in U.S. airstrikes 22 days ago after U.S.-backed authorities told people to stay in the area of the strikes until this past week. Emergency workers are still pulling bodies out of the devastation. On DDT’s watch, U.S. have killed about 1,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria during the past month, but visuals of the horrific U.S. airstrikes are largely non-existent in the mainstream media—especially the ones that DDT watches every morning.

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

War for the U.S.? Even before DDT’s attack on Syria, North Korea’s ballistic missile on Tuesday flew 40 miles before falling into the East Sea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.” Two days before Tillerson’s statement, DDT said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will” and added that he could do it without China’s help. One report tonight indicated that the National Security Counsel may have given DDT the option of assassinating Kim Jong-un.

No Resolution with China: Chinese President Xi Jinping left DDT’s luxurious resort Mar-a-Lago today after a day of meetings and dinner last night while DDT flexed his bombing muscles in Syria. Although DDT said they “made tremendous progress,” they agreed to take 100 days for a plan regarding economic differences. He also failed to pressure China into forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.  Xi described the meeting as “unique.”

DDT’s SCOTUS Win through Changing Rules:  All the news about bombings and missiles gave short shrift to the elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court justice, allowing Republicans to give lying plagiarist 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch power over people in the United States for up to the next 40 years. In addition to having one of his rulings unanimously overturned by a usually split Supreme Court, Gorsuch plagiarized chunks of his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, by copying other authors without citations. Six different experts on academic integrity evaluated his actions from mere sloppiness to a clear impropriety. One authority, Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore Howard, said, “Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics.” In ads for his confirmation, Gorsuch said he ruled “in favor” of disabled students when he did exactly the opposite. Four years ago, GOP senators blocked almost all President Obama’s nominees with no specific objections to any of them and were shocked when the Democrats fought back.  Now they take the high road in employing the same strategy in spite of the nominee being lacking in humanity and ethical jurisprudence. The usually split current Supreme Court unanimously overturned one of this decisions during his hearings. Three Democrats voted in favor of Gorsuch, all three up for election this coming year in red states.

More Lawsuits for DDT: U.S. District Judge David J. Hale has agreed with plaintiffs that DDT’s campaign call for his supporters to “get ‘em out of here” incited his audience to physically attack people. The three protesters are suing DDT for incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. Hale described DDT’s demand as “particularly reckless” and “implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.” He denied DDT’s claim that free speech protects him. Lawyers for Trump and his campaign tried to excuse themselves because they had no duty to the plaintiffs who assumed risk of injury by attending the rally. The judge responded that the law requires every person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. The case has been referred to a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, for preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts. In addition, four environmentalist groups and ten state attorneys general are suing DDT for its suspension of six energy efficiency standards for product such as ceiling fans, walking-in coolers, and freezers. DDT’s order will cost consumers up to $23 billion in higher energy bills while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. And the Supreme Court has refused to stop a case in the 6th Circuit Court about President Obama’s Clean Water Rule to protect small waterways such as streams and wetlands from pollution while DDT ponders whether to repeal the rule.

Police Reform: A federal judge refused to delay a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department, calling the Trump administration’s request a “burden and inconvenience.”

Health Care: The last week marked another failure for Trumpcare despite efforts by VP Mike Pence. A week ago, DDT blamed the Republican conservatives for its failure. The next day he switched to saying that he would work to get them to vote for it. On Sunday DDT tweeted that “talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue.” By Monday, Pence was trying to make deals with the Freedom Caucus, offering a deal to drop the standard minimum benefits and the rule requiring insurance companies to charge the same premium for people of the same age which would make the pre-existing conditions requirement useless. In a meeting with the more moderate GOP wing on Tuesday who were not impressed with the earlier offer to conservatives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House is at only the “concept stage” with no plans for a vote. Congress left town today for two weeks and won’t return until the week that the government will shut down without its action. The current Affordable Care Act has a 55-percent approval rate while DDT’s approval rate has dropped to 34 percent. His approval among Republicans has dropped 14 points in just the last two weeks. In addition, he’s lost the majority support of men and plurality of white voters. One of his latest tactics is to attach the health care plan to one for infrastructure, but that plan is such a con that he might fail in doing this also.

In an amazing move this week, DDT took his pet white supremacist Steve Bannon off the National Security Council and replaced him with qualified officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, DDT’s security adviser, H.R. McMaster, made the decision, but many reasons are swirling, including the completion Bannon’s appointment to “babysit” now-fired Michael Flynn. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the replacement, assigned to lead a task force on government efficiency, the same goal as Bannon’s “Strategic Initiatives Group.”  Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  The White House claims that Bannon’s group never existed although Sebastian Gorka, high-level DDT staffer, had talked about being a member, and journalists had seen a door posted with the sign of the group. Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  After his demotion from presidency, Bannon went so far as to tell people that he might quit.  He may not have the chance because another rumor is that both Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus may be fired. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327909-white-house-frustrated-by-palace-intrigue

On Air Force One, DDT told reporters, “We’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.” It’s only been eleven.

So much intrigue, so little space. More tomorrow!

September 11, 2014

Demand Exit Strategy for War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

With the drums of Iraqi war beating more loudly and steadily, President Obama made a brief address last night to announce his plans. It was a mild speech that largely dealt in generalities:

  • Increase airstrikes to “roll back” ISIL in Iraq and into Syria, if necessary.
  • Strengthen troops by sending off another 475 military members to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as ask Congress to authorize a million to equip and train Syrian opposition. (We won’t call them “boots on the ground.”)
  • Prevent terror by stopping attacks on the homeland through cutting off ISIL’s funding and improving U.S. intelligence.
  • Protect civilians such as Iraqi Christians.

ISIL knew that video of the beheadings of two U.S. citizens would draw the U.S. public into war. The militants also know that conservatives in this country will oppose anything the president plans. ISIL has won the war of fear with the help of irresponsible statements from such conservatives as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Cory Garner (Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s opponent in Colorado), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The heretofore Libertarian/isolationist said, “If I were president, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) assessed congressional support—or lack thereof:

“It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that the House didn’t have time to take a vote on any proposed military action in the Middle East. (Yawn.) would probably not take a vote on military action because they didn’t have the time. Tommy Christopher explained:

“Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, has responsibilities it doesn’t want, especially when it comes to military action. The less they have to do with making actual decisions, the more they can play Goldilocks on Sunday shows and complain that the president’s actions are too weak, or too strong, or too pitchy, dawg, or whatever.”

GOP members of Congress are currently suing the president for tweaking the Affordable Care Act as the GOP wanted, but they’re telling the president to make all the decisions about ISIL because any position on war is dangerous to their re-election.

Legislators such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-NC) calling for more airstrikes and more aggression in the Middle East ignore the most important factor of war—an exit strategy. In the early 21st century, George W. Bush, led by Dick Cheney and other advisers, charged into Iraq with no idea how to get out. Now conservative media, led by Fox network, are playing a 2007 video of Bush II warning that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq would mean “surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.” Bush finished by saying that U.S. troops would have to go back later against an even more dangerous enemy.

The U.S. left Iraq on a timetable that Bush established. The October 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, ratified by Iraqi lawmakers, stated, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” People probably forgot about SOFA because a man threw a shoe at Bush during the press conference when he and Mouri al-Maliki announced their agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by New Year’s Day 2012. Bush ducked the problem in the same way that he ducked the shoe.

Conservative war-mongers could have left Saddam Hussein’s regime intact and let him suppress the Islamic extremists. Instead they chose to remove Hussein which spends an indefinite length of time there (Arizona’s GOP Sen. John McCain suggested 100 years), lives (almost 5,000 from the U.S. and a possible 600,000 from Iraq), and dollars (between $2 trillion and $6 trillion). Cheney knew it would be a disaster almost a decade earlier, but he did it anyway. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997-2007) was told “before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for ‘many years.’”

Cheney, mistakenly identified by The New York Times as a former president instead of vice-president, met earlier this week behind closed doors with GOP members of Congress this week and called for more defense spending. He’s sure to want more money for his business, Halliburton, like the funds he got  from the no-bid contracts he awarded his company during the earlier Iraq war. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said they appreciated Cheney’s advice “because most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq.”

As for sending all those arms to the people who we like—right now—in the Middle East, just read about ISIL’s resources. Their M-16 assault rifles bear U.S. government markings, and their anti-tank rockets are identical to the 1980s-era M79 rockets used by the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) to bring down planes flying at 16,000 feet. Other quantities of weapons, including warplanes, come from Syrian military installations. ISIL got more military gear and U.S. equipment, including U.S.-made amored Humvees, that Iraqi army soldiers abandoned. ISIL brings in over $1 million a day in addition to tanks, grenade launchers, field guns, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles produced in Russia, China, the Balkans, and Iran. Descriptions are available here. More arms that the U.S. sends to the Middle East will provide more arms to ISIL.

Over two years ago, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gave a speech on the floor of the House that included this advice:

  • Stop creating wars.
  • Stop funding and arming mercenaries.
  • Stop causing abject chaos by “liberating” countries and delivering them to illegitimate non-state actors, i.e. terrorists.
  • Stop NATO and other Western front groups from promoting neo-conservative agendas which lust for empire, for control of oil and gas resources, and which bait countries into conflict to cause an increase in arms trade.
  • Stop playing the naïve fool and falling for the theater of propaganda while interest groups and arms dealers stand at the cash register.

In that speech, Kucinich said, “In the weeks and months ahead, when our leaders are calling for military strikes, without considering the consequences or knowing the end game, let’s remember our recent history.” There’s something terribly ironic about calling for air strikes that kill civilians when that was the issue calling Bush to declare war.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the killing of over 3,000 people in the United States because 19 terrorists were able to take over four airplanes and use them as bombs. It is also the day that allowed Bush, Cheney, and others to convince the people of the United States to start the Middle East conflict that continues today.

Yesterday, The New Yorker published an article about 28 pages that George W. Bush excised from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. According to Bush, that information damage U.S. intelligence operation. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) said, “There’s nothing in it about national security.” Yet Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said that it describes complicity of some Saudi people and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), another co-sponsor, said that reading those 28 pages has made him more cautious about a military response to ISIL.  These three representatives have co-sponsored a resolution to declassify the 28 pages.

Most of the people in the United States desperately need help. Most of us grow poorer every year, and wealthy members in the Congress won’t even begin to increase minimum wages to match the 1960s. The NRA and the gun industry demand the ability for so-called “responsible” gun owners to wound and kill more and more innocent people. A ginned-up fear from conservatives is driving people to want more trillions of dollars sent to a crisis on the other side of the globe that Dick Cheney and his minions created over a decade ago and that isn’t going to go away because the war-mongers have no exit strategy. The wealthy will continue to get richer from war profiteering while the poor will be forced to subsist on less and less until they revolt.

September 8, 2013

Working for Separation of Church and State

The Pledge of Allegiance is back in the news, after the 9th Circuit Court ruled three years ago for the 11 states in its jurisdiction, that the pledge does not represent a government endorsement of religion. This time, the case is in Massachusetts where the Commonwealth’s highest court is hearing a case, asking that the Pledge wording revert to its past form without “under God.” The pledge worked quite well for over a half century throughout both world wars until 1954 when Congress thought that the word “God” would protect the country from the Red Menace of the USSR Communists.

Fox “News” host Dana Perino, said that if atheists don’t like having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “they don’t have to live here.” She might be upset if she knew the pledge’s background. It came into being after Francis Bellamy’s words were used in 1891 as a device to sell U.S. flags to public schools as a premium for subscriptions to the magazine Youth’s Companion.   Co-founder of the Christian Socialists, Bellamy championed the “rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources” and supported public schools—two issues which Fox opposes.

Another ray of hope this week came from Oklahoma where the Tulsa Public School District is defying Christian leadership by abandoning abstinence-only programs. This year schools will use comprehensive sex education in grades 7, 9, and 11. The abstinence-only state has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and nearly half of all these pregnant teens don’t graduate from high school. Without the necessary education, they can’t get good jobs which causes a higher rate for welfare in the state. About one-fourth of young unmarried mothers end up in poverty, also a cause of teen pregnancy.

For every dollar that Okahoma sends to the federal government, the state receives $1.36, making Oklahoma a welfare state. A look at the ranking of states receiving federal funding reveals that the vast majority of conservative states are welfare states; only Texas pays more than it receives. In these states that spend millions on failed abstinence-only programs, students don’t know how to protect themselves from HIV, STDs, or unwanted pregnancies, costing the federal government more money.

Two stories about drag queens in the news this week are downright fun.  Jose Sarria, known as the Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement and Empress Jose I, died last month at 90 and left the agenda for his funeral service at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Female titleholders from his Imperial Court, which he created in 1965, were to wear “black/dark full length (understated) mourning attire, crowns, shoulder length veils covering both crowns and one’s face” along with “black gloves (opera length if wearing short sleeves).”  Males titleholders were “respectfully requested to wear dark suits, crowns and white gloves.” Ten limousines and six buses brought mourners to “a sensational and inspirational graveside ceremony” where Sarria was sent off with full military honors, a band concert, and a song from drag performer Donna Sachet. He was buried next to self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States, Joshua Norton, who died in 1880. It was the event of the season.

sarriaSarria served in the United States Army during World War II. Under five feet tall, he was too short for the height requirement, but he got into the Army Reserve after the attack on Pearl Harbor by seducing a major on the condition that the major approve Sarria’s enlistment. From there he was called up to active duty. When Sarria ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, he was the first openly gay man to run for office. Although defeated, he became a powerful voice for gay rights.

The Advocate provided a wonderful photo spread including Sisters-of-Perpetual-Indulgencex633The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and elected city officials. Other photos are available on Google.

dufty_etcx633

Other drag queens are planning an action at the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters in Kansas. Planting Peace, an anti-hate nonprofit group for equal rights, plans a drag show at its Equality House on October 26. The facility, painted in rainbow colors as a symbol for peace, compassion, and positive change, is located across the street from Westboro’s Topeka buildings. The event will be called the “Drag Down Bigotry” walk-a-thon.

Filmmakers Lara Zizic and David Turner are premiering their film Mission Congo at the Toronto International Film Festival this Friday, and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network isn’t pleased. CBN is considering legal action against the depiction of Operation Blessing and how it diverted charitable activities to Robertson’s mining projects. Although volunteers for the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) performed the vast majority of work to save Rwandan refugees, CBN claimed the credit, and Robertson raised millions of dollars. He continues this charade despite the official investigation accusing him of “fraudulent and deceptive” claims for running an almost non-existent aid operation.

Some of the most damaging criticism of Robertson comes from former aid workers at Operation Blessing, who describe how mercy flights to save refugees were diverted hundreds of miles from the crisis to deliver equipment to the televangelist’s diamond mining concession. The documentary shows how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. The pilot said that of the 40 flights he flew into Congo, just two delivered aid, and the others were connected to the diamond mining. He had the words “Operation Blessing” removed from the tail of his airplane.

Revelations of Robertson’s fraudulent Congo activities were initially exposed in the Virginia newspaper, the Virginian Pilot, in the 1990s. Robertson has a history of mining controversies in Africa when he supported the then president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, during that country’s civil war without revealing at the time that he had an $8 million investment in a Liberian gold mine. Taylor was already indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal at the time and was later convicted of crimes against humanity.

Another church group has been exposed for its racism. The Freedom House Church wants “only white people” as greeters, according to a pastor, Makeda Pennycooke. He explained that “first impressions matter” and the church needs “the best of the best on the front doors.”

Obamacare may be linked with Syria when the U.S. House returns. On Washington Watch, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) talked to Family Research Council head Tony Perkins about the importance of defunding Obamacare. Jordan’s suggestion was to hold the budget and debt ceiling raise as leverage (aka blackmail); Perkins one-upped him by saying that the president should choose between funding Obamacare and funding a war in Syria (aka blackmail). Personally I vote for Obamacare!

Separation between church and state is getting even thinner after the Southern Baptist Convention banned members from taking part in weddings, counseling sessions, and couples retreats for same-sex couples. The Convention provides the greatest number of active-duty military chaplains.

American Family Association’s Sandy Rios has already given up on any hope of winning in Syria. Her position is that intervention is doomed because homosexuals and pregnant women have taken over the U.S. military. Another self-proclaimed Christian told his radio flock that people who attend gay weddings should tell the grooms “they shall both be put to death.” Kevin Swanson recommended holding up a sign with  Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man sleeps with a man as he sleeps with a woman the two of them have committed an abomination and they shall both be put to death.”

AugustaColorado’s first gay Speaker of the House, Mark Ferrandino, and his partner, Gret Wertsch, have adopted a daughter, and even a conservative blogger congratulated the couple. Not so former state Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) who posted a comment calling the adoption “perverted” and “deliberate child abuse.”

And just because it’s Sunday, we’ll end with the Catholic leadership, this time Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s interview with the Washington Times, controlled by the Unification Church. One of his issues dealt with David Letterman’s joke: “I am telling you if there is anything kids can’t get enough of it’s a 76-year old virgin. Come on, world youth day, or as the Vatican calls it, a salute to altar boys.” Paprocki thinks that this is just plain bigotry and ignorance because the Catholic Church’s success in dealing with the situation:

“For one thing it shows the ignorance of someone who identifies the Catholic Church and, particularly the priesthood, with sexual abuse. Certainly, we have had our unfortunate share of scandals and sin and the church is dealing with that. I would venture to say that of any institution in the country – perhaps in the world–I don’t think anyone is dealing with it as responsibly as the Catholic Church has. So public figures like that continue to point their finger at the Catholic Church and say you have a problem with sexual abuse and people are ignoring where most sexual abuse is taking place. It’s occurring in families. It’s occurring in schools.”

Paprocki’s blinders led him to claim that the main force behind child sex cases was “none other than the devil.” He also claimed that voting for Democratic candidates will doom a person to Hell and said that country is now a “pagan” culture no different from the era of the Roman Empire which oppressed and martyred Christians. He did overlook the fact that the church leaders have neither corrected the problem nor given appropriate restitution to the victims. With the Pope’s permission, they just move all their money into a safe place—the cemetery fund.

September 4, 2013

Attacking Syria, A Very Bad Idea

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Congress took its first step toward military action today when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 to pass the resolution giving the president limited authority to use force against Syria. Three Republicans voted for the resolution—Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), and John McCain (AZ). Evidently McCain spent enough time from playing poker on his smart phone to cast a vote.  Two Democrats, Chris Murphy (CT) and Tom Udall (NM) voted against it and Ed Markey (MA) voted present. The White House assumes that the full Senate will vote next week, followed by the House the week after.

Speaking at a House committee hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry argued that the U.S. had to strike to stop extremist groups fighting against the Syrian government from becoming stronger. If the U.S. doesn’t punish the Assad government, Kerry said, Arabs will provide arms and financing to the rebels. “We will have created more extremism and a greater problem down the road.”

The politicians trying to push the country toward military action keep referring to the videos of the dead people and worrying about the poor children. Children have died in Africa and Asia—even in the United States—but these legislators demonstrate no concern for anyone in those areas. The only area of concern is the home of oil. The U.S. wants continued access the Middle East countries that pump the black goo into our nation. We gone into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria in only 13 years to keep the fuel supply freely flowing.

President Obama admitted as much in an interview on PBS: “If we are clear about the free flow of energy throughout the region that affects the entire global economy…,” then one can understand the need for dealing with Syria. This greed goes back over 100 years when the UK took over oil in the Middle East to power their fleet; in that way the country emerged victorious in the first two world wars.

Congress and the president sat by as 100,000 Syrian people were killed and another 7 million displaced. With unsupported intelligence that under 1,500 people were maybe killed with chemicals, the administration and some legislators want to attack Syria.

The president has promised that his only intention is to “degrade” Syrian weapons through a few bombings. Any misplaced attack or counterattack would result in escalation into a huge military action causing trillions of dollars. We watched this happen just ten years ago.

No one is talking about the danger to civilians from trying to destroy chemical weapons through bombing that can release toxic chemicals. In addition to killing civilians, bombing can also create an environmental catastrophe. Under the best of conditions, at least 20 to 30 percent of poison would remain in lethal form after the use of explosives. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the nonprofit Arms Control Association, said, “It’s a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.” Some of the suspected storage sites are in or near major Syrian cities like Damascus, Homs and Hama, cities with a combined population of well over 2 million people, according to Kimball.

The president has promised “no boots on the ground,” but even if he changed his mind, sending in soldiers to seize and destroy chemicals would not ensure its destruction, according to Ralf Trapp, a French chemical weapons consultant and longtime expert in the field. Temperatures would have to be up to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Environmental damage and deaths from the attempted destruction would come from such factors as wind, heat, time of day, strength of the storage unit, and quantity and type of chemicals.

The only precedent for bombing a chemical weapons storehouse was in 1991 when the U.S. bombed a bunker in Iraq that may have contained 2,500 artillery rockets filled with sarin. Over 20 years later, no one can go near the site because of the contamination. “An entry into the bunker would expose personnel to explosive, chemical and physical hazards,” according to a 2012 report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

U.S. intelligence no longer knows who controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons supplies. “That’s a very real risk,” said Susannah Sirkin, international policy director for the Physicians for Human Rights, which has been monitoring weapons of mass destruction for more than two decades. “You would risk dispersing agents into the environment,” she said. “Given that sarin is not seen or smelled, that’s terror.”

Another issue is that by bombing storage sites that are near contested areas in the civil war, the chemical weapons can fall into others’ hands, including extremist rebels or pro-Assad militia, Kimball said. “What we’re looking at in Syria is an unprecedented situation.”

There are more reasons that military action in Syria is a very bad idea:

  • A US military attack would be illegal: The U.N. Charter prohibits using force against another country or intervening in an internal or domestic dispute in another country. The only exemptions are when a country is directly being attacked or the U.N. Security Council specifically authorizes force because all peaceful means have been exhausted. The U.S. has ratified the charter, meaning that attacking Syria is against U.S. law even if Congress does authorize such action.
  • There is no reason for military action in Syria: The president doesn’t want to change military balance or overthrow the regime, but attacks will cause great damage and death in Syria. In fact, the attacks could accelerate the regime’s missile strikes. Punitive airstrikes have rarely worked and often lead to greater retaliation. The more the U.S. terrorizes people in the Middle East, the greater the number of members in their terrorist organizations.
  • Military intervention would likely lead to greater death and destruction: Beyond the guaranteed civilian causalities, foreign military interventions increase the length of civil wars because both sides are less likely to compromise.
  • The U.S. doesn’t know that the Syrian government is responsible for any chemical attacks: In addition, the U.S. has tried to undermine control of weapons and weaken enforcement agencies such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Its director general, Brazilian diplomat Jose Bustani, oversaw the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world’s facilities, but the George W. Bush administration got him dismissed. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have threatened to withdraw the organization’s financial contributions, more than 20 percent of the organization’s budget. The U.S. has also continually opposed a U.N. ban on chemical weapons and other non-conventional weapons because it chooses to use weapons such as napalm and white phosphorous against civilians and supported Saddam Hussein when Iraq used chemical weapons to kill up to 5,000 Kurdish civilians. In fact, the U.S. even provided Iraq a key chemical for mustard gas.
  • A military attack likely would strengthen the Syrian regime: Attacks from outside always result in nationalism, particularly true in Syria because millions of them believe that they are the last country resisting both Islamist extremism and Western imperialism.
  • A military strike likely would reduce the chances of successfully ending the war: The only ways to reduce bloodshed is through negotiation or broad-based nonviolent pro-democracy struggle.
  • The U.S. has no support from the international community: Only France, which occupied Syria for much of the early twentieth century, has shown any interest in supporting U.S. attacks. Military action against Syria will increase the world’s anti-U.S. sentiment and decrease any diplomatic influence of the U.S.
  • People in the U.S. oppose military intervention in Syria. 

Attacking Syria is a lose-lose situation. If Assad stays in power, we have a bad relationship with the country because we tried to beat up on it. If the rebels take control, it could be even worse because they are anti-U.S., anti-Israel, and anti-Western while being pro-al Qaeda.

For days, pro-war politicians and pundits have puffed themselves up and said that we need a military action against Syria to maintain credibility. According to them, our reputation is on the line. That’s what they said about Vietnam. And Iraq.

After a summer hiatus, comedian Jon Stewart is back and answers the credibility question: “We have to bomb Syria because we are in 7th grade. The red-line that they crossed is actually a dick-measuring ribbon. The only way to keep America’s penis from looking small is to conduct a limited operation designed to fail. We’ll call it Operation Just the Tip.”  No one escaped Stewart’s scalpel, including the “parade of idiots,” the cabal from a decade ago who took the nation into the disaster called Iraq. You can check out this clip.

August 31, 2013

A Look at Who Might Decide a War on Syria

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:24 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Syria dominates the news after Secretary of State John Kerry gave an impassioned speech about the tragedy of at least 1,419 deaths from chemical warfare. Last week most people were opposed to involvement in Syria with 25 percent saying that they might change their minds if chemical weapons were used. Thus Kerry made the case yesterday that that Bashar al-Assad’s regime used these weapons, and President Obama is weighing “limited and narrow” action. Britain voted against military action so France has now become the United States’ BFF after they said they would strike. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged a delay in any military action until inspectors present their findings.

Only the day before Kerry’s assurance, U.S. intelligence officers said that the picture is “not a slam dunk,” referring to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that intelligence about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk.” It was that “intelligence” that sent the United States into a disastrous and expensive war ten years ago, intelligence that as just plain wrong.

At least one-third of representatives in the House, led by Tea Party members, think that the president should consult with Congress before making any decision, possibly with the hope that they can vote down any military action. Today President Obama announced his decision to “seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.” In another world, this might make sense. Intellectually, this makes sense if we consider that these legislators are rational and thoughtful beings. Many of them aren’t.

The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans whose only goal is to defeat every Democrat candidate by disagreeing with everything that the president recommends. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will shut down the government to get his own way in defunding Obamacare and cutting Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. He said that his position “may be unfair” but he’ll do it anyway, holding the United States’ people hostage.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the House GOP’s budgetary chieftain, said that the GOP will only negotiate with Democrats over the budget if they can stop votes about the U.S. economy.When they aren’t threatening to shut down the government, the House GOP concentrates on blocking legislation, passing restrictions against women, and defunding Obamacare.

Impeaching the president is also on the GOP agenda. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) bragged about calling in lawyers to tell him how to impeach the president of the United States. In a sane world, he would need evidence, but GOP-land has its own rules. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told people at a town hall meeting that the House would probably have enough votes to impeach but the Senate wouldn’t convict. He didn’t have any reasons either.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was a little more careful; he told his constituents that the president was “perilously close” to the standard for impeachment. He also said, “Thank goodness it doesn’t have to happen in the Senate until they’ve brought charges in the House.” Once again, no evidence. The same with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who claimed that the only reason they couldn’t impeach the president is that Democrats control the Senate.

In addition to Cruz’s other insanities, he thinks that he can become president if he drops his Canadian citizenship. Although quiet during the entire “birther” kafuffle, he gets most of his support from Tea Party birthers. One of them has total faith that Cruz is a natural-born citizen because “as far as I am concerned, Canada is not foreign soil. That’s the way I look at it.” (It’s worth watching several times!)

Ten days ago after he failed to bring the IRS up on charges, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) promised to expand the probe of the four deaths at Benghazi. Yet when the U.S. government flew its personnel out of Yemen and the State Department urged all Americans in Yemen there to leave “immediately” because of an “extremely high” threat of a terrorist attack, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) described that people who left as “cowards that go running away.”

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) asserted that there is no such thing as white collar crime, because “for a criminal practice there has to be a gun.” (Maybe there’s no crime in Syria because they used chemical weapons?) Would he then think that there was no crime in Syria because chemical weapons may have been used?)
He asserted that bad financial decisions are the responsibility of the individual because that’s “the price we pay for the freedom to make all of the good decisions in our lives.”

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has invited a clown to perform in his district–the same clown who gained notoriety by wearing an Obama mask and a broom sticking out of his baggy-pantsed rear. Stockman is also known for tweeting, “The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”

In GOP-land, legislators vote against anything that doesn’t benefit themselves. Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding for SuperStorm Sandy victims, but after an Arizona wildfire, they complained that FEMA isn’t helping their state. The agency tried to explain that they had funded firefighters but couldn’t pay for uninsured private residences damaged in the fire. McCain said he’d call the president.

Along the same lines, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), whose family was on food stamps for two months, told an audience that huge proposed cuts to food aid would not impact anyone, that “not one person would lose a calorie or crumb that deserves it.” He thinks most Americans on food stamps actually deserve to starve although more than 50 million people in the United States don’t know where their next meals are coming from.

Those in GOP-land will make up any excuse to refuse immigration reform. After the president delayed one part of Obamacare because of administrative issues, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) said on the House floor that he wouldn’t vote for any part of the immigration plan. “One of the biggest fears we have about the Senate amnesty bill … is we can’t trust the president. We can’t trust him.”

McCain has wanted to support the Syrian rebels with “heavy weapons” for several months, despite the fact that ABC’s Martha Raddatz reminded him that some of the rebels are terrorists swearing allegiance to al Qaeda. “There aren’t that many” terrorists that he would provide with “heavy weapons,” McCain said. After a trip to Syria, a photo distributed to news organizations showed McCain with a group of rebels, two of them later identified as kidnappers of 11 Lebanese Shi’te pilgrims. On CNN, McCain told Anderson Cooper, “We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people.” It’s hard to tell who the “right people” are. 

Here’s a preview of debate about invading Syria. Two days ago, Gohmert insisted that Saddam Hussein “had weapons of mass destruction” and may have moved the stockpiles “over into Syria.” Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) supported Gohmert: even though Terry is opposed to military intervention in Syria, his “gut feeling” is that the Syrian government now possesses chemical weapons that came from fallen Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He added, “[W]e all we know that Iraq had … chemical and biological weapons and then they weren’t there.”

Once again! Iraq’s WMD stockpiles didn’t exist. They couldn’t have been moved to Syria because Iraq didn’t have any.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worries that U.S. might be “used to kill Christians.” He also thinks that debate should “start with the Constitution,” despite the fact that this document never refers to Christians—or God or religion–except to declare that people can be free from it. About 10 percent of the Syrian population, many of them Palestinian refugees, identifies as Christian. Has a bomb been invented yet to identify religions?

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) hopes he has a compelling reason for staying out of Syria: the United States cannot afford it. “Our military has no money left,” the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee said in a statement three days ago. He cited the $500-billion cut over the next decade mandated by the sequester. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff disagrees, having assured the president that they are ready to “strike whenever we choose,”

The body that should approve any action against Syria is the United Nations, according to former President Carter. “Punitive action” without a mandate from the U.N. Security Council or “broad support from NATO and the Arab League” would be “illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war,” Carter said.

We’ve regressed ten years—just with a different president. The disaster that started in Iraq ten years ago was all about oil—and this proposed war with Syria has the same motivation. That topic, however, probably won’t be mentioned in the debates.

August 27, 2013

Iran, 1953; Syria, 2013

Our nation commemorates several anniversaries at the end of August. Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day because of women’s suffrage become federal law in 1920, and tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, featuring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Less noticed, however, was a tragic anniversary last week on August 19, 60 years after the United States, collaborated with Britain to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and thus keep Western companies’ control of the country’s rich oil fields.

Although the U.S. had no oil companies in Iran in 1953, the CIA joined the coup when Prime Minister Winston Churchill called in the debt for helping the U.S. during the Korean War. Therefore the U.S. government manipulated Western media into reporting Mossadegh as intemperate, unstable, and otherwise unreliable.

Mossadegh had clashed with the Shah Reza Pahlavi about the extent of the monarchy’s power. Once Mossadegh was arrested under a flimsy pretext, he was sentenced to prison and died in 1967 under house arrest. The shah, who fled to Rome during the coup, returned to a 26-year dictatorship complete with imprisonment, torture, and slaughter of dissidents. He also  invited BP—famous for the recent Gulf oil disaster–along with American, Dutch and French companies to enjoy the decades-long Iranian oil boom. Because the U.S. had done most of the work for the coup, they got a big chunk of BP. The U.S. also supplied Iran with military hardware and trained the new regime’s brutal secret police.

The coup of 1953 led to the American hostages in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the revolution of 1979 and the ensuing formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran ruled by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The overthrow of an elected, secular-minded nationalist in Iran led to its extremism in that and neighboring countries.Iran has never forgiven the U.S. anti-democratic self-interest actions six decades ago.

The facts have now been revealed in a newly declassified CIA document:

“Mosadeq, [sic] was neither a madman nor an emotional bundle of senility as he was so often pictured in the foreign press; however, he had become so committed to the ideals of nationalism that he did things that could not have conceivably helped his people even in the best and most altruistic of worlds. In refusing to bargain—except on his own uncompromising terms—with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, he was in fact defying the professional politicians of the British government.  These leaders believed, with good reason, that cheap oil for Britain and high profits for the company were vital to their national interests.”

If Mossadegh were flawed, it was because he was incorruptible and implacably committed to reforms, everything from pest control to unemployment compensation, from agricultural reform to housing, from women’s rights to religious freedom. His education in France and Switzerland and his belief in secular democracy put him at odds with those in the government who wanted religious control. Truman blamed the “blockheaded” British as much as Mossadeq for any tension in Iran, but Dwight Eisenhower took over the presidency in 1953.

Under the machinations of the new Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother Alan Dulles, head of the CIA, Kermit Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson and CIA operative, met secretly with the shah and with General Fazlollah Zahedi to set Operation Ajax into motion. Their design was to replace the ethical Mossadegh with the general, a grain profiteer who was imprisoned by the British for working with Nazi agents to organize a tribal revolt at the same time as a German attack in Iran.

According to the CIA report, the “complete secrecy about the operation” with some leaked information, made it “relatively easy for journalists to reconstruct the coup in varied but generally inaccurate accounts.” Malcolm Byrne, National Security Archive research director, wrote that the report is the first time the CIA admits to “using propaganda to undermine Mossadegh politically, inducing the shah to cooperate, bribing members of parliament, organizing the security forces, and ginning up public demonstrations.”

Iranian newspaper editors were paid to spread lies that Mossadegh was pro-communist and out to destroy the armed forces. Claiming that they were ordered by Mossadegh, CIA-funded street thugs attacked religious leaders. General Zahedi bribed fellow officers to gain the needed military support against any resistance. Thousands of people were paid to participate in anti-government rallies. Members of parliament were bribed to—when the word was given—push a vote to dismiss the prime minister in order to “rescue” Iran from chaos. A firm believer in democracy, Mossadegh kept the police from taking action against the protesters and did not censor the newspapers.

In a 1979 interview, Roosevelt talked about the horrible example that the coup in Iran had established. Dulles was so caught up in the Iranian events that he wanted to duplicate them in the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Egypt, where he wanted to overthrow President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Roosevelt said he resigned from the CIA because of  Dulles’ plans. The Iranian venture did become the prototype for Vietnam, Guatemala, Cuba, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, et cetera although these full official records are still classified.

Steven Kinzer’s Bitter Fruit tells about the CIA’s 1954 coup in Guatemala leading to mass slaughter of Maya Indians, and All the Shah’s Men describesthe Iranian coup. An excellent article gives a brief history that led up to these tragic events, starting with the British involvement in Middle Eastern oil, and a bibliography about the U.S. corruption and deceit.

Parts of the 1953 coup were repeated 20 years later against Salvador Allende in Chile when the U.S. participated in the overthrow of the elected socialist president. Following decades of being considered a beacon of democracy and political stability, Chile was controlled by despot Augusto Pinochet in a reign of terror that lasted 16 years.

These are just a few of the U.S.-involved coups in the last century, some of them against democratically-elected leaders. In the beginning of this century, George W. Bush started preemptive wars against two separate Middle Eastern countries, and a decade later, we are facing another one in Syria. The Congressional war hawks demanding an attack on Syria are led by former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who has support among some lawmakers.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) has gathered at least 37 legislator signatures on a letter asking the president to reconvene Congress for a debate about and vote on any military action in Syria, per the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Even senators who support punishing Syria for its alleged chemical weapons attacks are requesting Congressional approval before any action against Syria.

At this time, the United Nations has not determined that there were attacks with chemical weapons or who might have carried them out if these indeed did happen. Extreme caution should be demanded, especially based on the country’s track record of lying to the world about the need for global violence.

AGR Daily News Service

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