Nel's New Day

February 23, 2018

Another Friday, More Russian Indictments

After years of denying any Russian influence in his election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is blaming President Obama for not stopping it and claiming that he never denied any Russian meddling—despite hours of video that show he’s lying. Last weekend, DDT tweeted:

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

DDT has no criticism for Russia and no call for action against them, but he lambasted his own intelligence agencies, security advisor H.R. McMaster, Hillary Clinton, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Democratic Party, the Iran deal—pretty much everybody except Russia. In two days at Mar-a-Lago, just 40 miles away from the site of the tragic shooting in Parkland, he tweeted only once about the killing of 17 people at a school 40 miles away from him, accusing the FBI of missing the call about the Florida shooter because it spent too much time on the Russian collusion. Twelve tweets were about the Russian news.

At the Munich Security Conference, U.S. officials told everyone ignore DDT, causing confusion among European officials. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel asked, “Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” Another diplomat suggested that foreign policy positions from people such as McMaster who serve in the name of protecting the nation are following those of Germany’s elite during Hitler’s rise and expressed concern about nuclear war because of DDT’s attacks on North Korea.

U.S. pundits, including George W. Bush’s conservative speech writer David Frum, called DDT’s lack of responsibility for the Russian interference a dereliction of duty, also the title of national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s book describing the military leaders’ failure to object to presidents who continued the Vietnam War. McMaster stated that evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election is “now really incontrovertible,” and DDT is taking no action about the ongoing cyber attack on the United States. The president takes an oath to protect the country; DDT is failing his constitutional mandate.

All states are at risk from electronic interference in voting systems as shown by this highly detailed state-by-state report on the status of election security in the United States. Ratings were from B to F: no state received an A, and 17 states were assigned a D or F. A complete explanation for each state’s grade is useful for contacting state elected representatives about specific concerns. Fixing these problems would cost the government $1.2 billion, the same price as one military plane.

Revelations and indictments during the past week bring DDT closer to the Russian involvement.

  • Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney whose firm was accused of cooperating with former DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort in whitewashing the human rights abuses by former Ukrainian president Viktor F. Yanukovych, has pled guilty to lying to Mueller about his communications with Gates about their work for the Ukrainian government.
  • New charges against Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner and campaign worker, has led to Gates pleading guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. He worked for DDT almost a year, beginning before DDT’s nomination as the GOP candidate and continuing as deputy chairman of DDT’s inaugural committee.
  • Part of Gates’ lies include his hiding the involvement of Russian-friendly Rep. Dana Rohrabacker (R-CA) with Manafort in lobbying on behalf of Russia-backed former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.  In 2016, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had said in a meeting that he thought was secret, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Viewing Rohrabacker as a valuable source, Russian intelligence had assigned him a code name.
  • This week also brought additional indictments against Paul Manafort—twice—along with Mueller’s request to increase his $10 million bail. Manafort is still claiming innocence despite all the evidence.

Another danger to DDT could be Russian journalist Lyudmila Savchuk who went undercover into the Russian “Troll Factory,” the group masquerading as U.S. residents to produce and send pro-DDT propaganda. Savchuk and her Internet World team of 15 anti-trolling experts saw how the Factory hired “bot drivers” to create slanted or completely fictitious posts for automated networks that could go viral in social media.

In a discussion about whether DDT is a traitor, James Risen has listed “four important tracks” in the Russia story:

  • Whether there is reliable evidence that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was to help DDT win.
  • Whether DDT or his associates was involved with Russia to assist in his electoral success.
  • Whether these people tried to obstruct justice by blocking a federal investigation of collusion.
  • Whether Russians are helping DDT obstruct justice in continued efforts to discredit Robert Mueller.

Risen also points out that the U.S. media helped the Russian interference by not reporting on how the emails about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party were revealed and distributed. He wrote that the media ignored this part of the story “because it was so easy for journalists to write about Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.”

Now the world knows what Russia was doing, despite two years of DDT’s claims that it was a hoax and calling Hillary Clinton a “puppet” of Russia. Twice, DDT said that he took Vladimir Putin’s word that he wasn’t meddling in the presidential election over his own intelligence agencies. Now the conservative media is blaming President Obama because it started in 2014, but DDT was considering a presidential run before then with his 2012 trademark application for “Make America Great Again” and his praise for Putin in 2013 while DDT was in Moscow. In 2014, he referred to his run for president. DDT claims vindication because the indictments show no collusion with Russia, but the indictments are not the end of the investigation.

Thomas Friedman wrote:

“President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.”

DDT’s latest diversion from blame is attacking Jeff Session [sic] for not prosecuting President Obama because of Russian interference in the election. The former president had closed two Russian diplomatic facilities after he learned of the meddling, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked him for making the information public and threatened to retaliate against President Obama if he released any information.

Nicholas Kristof laid out a dozen pieces of the DDT puzzle:

  1. Russia interfered in the U.S. election.
  2. DDT has longstanding business interests in Russia.
  3. DDT has consistently displayed a soft spot for Putin. [Kristof puts this point very mildly!]
  4. DDT picked people with ties to Russia during his campaign, and his aides tweaked the GOP platform to please Russia.
  5. DDT aides secretly met with Russians.
  6. A DDT ally secretly communicated with a Russian mouthpiece.
  7. WikiLeaks, presumably representing Russian interests, engaged in secret correspondence with Donald Trump Jr.
  8. Jared Kushner met a Putin ally and asked about using Russian equipment for secret communications with the Kremlin.
  9. DDT aides consistently and falsely denied contacts.
  10. Russian bots are still joining DDT supporters in tweeting hashtags like #MAGA and #FullOfSchiff.
  11. This is not normal!

Meanwhile 57 percent of people in a recent poll disapprove of DDT’s response to the threat of Russian interference in the 2018 elections and agree that he isn’t fit to serve as president. Over three-fourths believe that the Russians tried to influence the 2016 elections, and 68 percent worry that they may do it again.

A little noticed DDT connection with Russia is his support of so-called “anchor babies.” While he opposes immigrants from the other side of the Mexican border, he promotes those from Russia. Pregnant Russian women frequently book his Miami properties to give birth while they are in the U.S., giving babies dual citizenship with Russia and the right to vote in just 18 years. Miami properties called Little Russia are bundling housing and medical services for a few months, and many companies advertise DDT’s lodgings for these “birth tourists.” The Sunny Medical Center “openly advertises citizenship as one of the primary benefits their clients receive.”

Paul Manafort put VP Mike Pence into the White House, according to GOP strategist John Weaver. Manafort has said that he connected DDT with Pence by manufacturing a story about a mechanical problem for DDT’s plane that forced the team to say over night in Indianapolis because Manafort believed that Pence “had value to Trump as a potential VP nominee.” DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie for vice-president after he talked with Pence and conferred with his son-in-law, the anyone-but-Christie Jared Kushner. Pence ran the transition team and filled the swamp with people like ousted Michael Flynn for national security adviser. After Flynn’s illegal activities were uncovered, Pence played the “I know nothing” game although Rep. Elijah Cummings (R-MD) revealed that Pence knew about Flynn’s relationship with Turkey and Russia when Pence put Flynn into his “security” position. If DDT goes, the nation is left with a worse alternative—Mike Pence.

March 19, 2015

Netanyahu Denies Racism That Elected Him

How far will GOP presidential wannabes go to pander to the crazies? When the crazies started talking around John McCain during his run in 2008, he shut them down. Not Rick Santorum. At Frank Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit last week, a woman unleashed her venom against President Obama:

“Why is the Congress rolling over and letting this Communist dictator destroy my country? Y’all know what he is and I know what he is. I want him out of the White House; he’s not a citizen; he could have been removed a long time ago…

“Ted [Cruz?] told me I’ve got to wait for the next election. I don’t think the country will be around for the next election. Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago! And the three admirals, and generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He’s fired all the generals and all the admirals that said they wouldn’t fire on the American people.”

Santorum sidestepped the vitriol by saying it wasn’t his fault because he wasn’t in Congress any more. He refused to question the woman’s rants, instead saying that he can “absolutely agree” about the “complete lack of leadership” from the White House. Referring to immigration policy, Santorum said “the word ‘tyrant’ ” comes to mind to describe President Obama.

Eugene Robinson made an excellent observation in expressing gratitude that the self-identified retired school teacher is no longer in the classroom. A question, however, is where this woman got the idea that “Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago.”

David Weigel has the answer.  An “exclusive story,” published in 2013 on the conspiracy news site InfoWars, quoted “a high level source inside the military” about the transfer of nuclear warheads to the East Coast. The story, which moved across Facebook at least 25,000 times, also quoted Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) worry that a military build-up would lead to nuclear weapons moving through the port of Charleston.

Later that year the European Union Times, a “news” site that mixes accuracy with rumors, moved the false story along by citing a “Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today” to report that a nuclear weapon had been detonated off of Charleston’s harbor. The story’s proof was an October 8, 2013 earthquake that happened hundreds of miles from the coast. The website claimed that it was a botched “false flag” attack, carried out in the middle of the government shutdown.

Reddit discussion spread another rumor that the “false flag” attack caused the dismissal of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, U.S. Air Force Major General Michael Carey, Major General Charles M. Gurganus, and Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant.  Giardina was caught in a poker-rigging scheme, and Carey was removed from his job after a drunken bender in Moscow. Gurganus and Sturdevant were forced into retirement before October 2013 after an investigation into a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. None of what the woman said was true, but Santorum just accepted it.

At a Minnesota McCain town hall meeting almost seven years ago, a woman said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh—he’s an Arab. He’s not —. ”

McCain told his supporter:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

At another town hall meeting, McCain said, “We want to fight, and I will fight, but I will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him.”

Santorum and the rest of the far-right presidential candidates remember what McCain did and how he lost the election. They also watched this week’s election in Israel when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won his election after playing his bigot cards: the day before the election, he promised that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he stayed in office. Although Netanyahu has done everything he can to bury a two-state solution since his took the formal position of supporting it six years ago, he has not come out with any declaration against it until he was in danger of losing the election.

To cement his election, Netanyahu ran an ad that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes.” He accused “left-wing NGOs [of bringing] them in buses.”  During his campaign, Netanyahu accused foreign governments of undermining his leadership with non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Thomas Friedman wrote about the Middle East:

“It is hard to know what is more depressing: that Netanyahu went for the gutter in the last few days in order to salvage his campaign—renouncing his own commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and race-baiting Israeli Jews to get out and vote because, he said, too many Israeli Arabs were going to the polls — or the fact that this seemed to work.

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

J Street vice-president for communications, Alan Elsner, said that the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization fears the newly-elected prime minister will have to deal with the consequences of his claims. Elsner said that “suggesting that Arab citizens who have the right to vote are somehow a threat to Israel because they exercise their democratic right is outrageous” and Netanyahu tried “to scare his own supporters to go to the polls … in a disgusting, racist way.” He added, “If he walks back from it, he’s really going to enrage his right-wing supporters, and if he doesn’t walk back from it, he’s going to enrage the international community. Either way, neither constituency is going to believe him because he’s shot his credibility.”

Today Netanyahu “shot his credibility.” In his first interview since the election, he said:

“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.”

He denied that he had changed his position from Monday’s comments when he explicitly eliminated the possibility of a Palestinian state. “I haven’t changed my policy,” he said. “What has changed is the reality.”

Netanyahu’s latest statement came after the White House suggested that the U.S. could stop protecting Israel with the UN and other international organizations if the country failed to commit to a two-state solution. The U.S. might even recognize a Palestinian state. White House spokesman Josh Earnest warned that the foundation for its policy for supporting Israel had been “eroded,” indicating that the U.S. would “need to re-evaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward.” Earlier Earnest had again denounced Netanyahu’s “cynical, divisive election-day tactics” and condemned the prime minister’s incendiary remarks about the Israeli Arab voters.

Friedman had predicted—correctly—that “Netanyahu could reverse himself tomorrow” and quoted Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea who described the prime minister’s promises as something “written on ice on a very hot day.” As Friedman wrote, however:

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

Friedman also addressed the problem of Iran, writing that additional sanctions on Iran, as critics of President Obama want, are useless because the Middle East only reacts to regime changes. The U.S. tried—and failed—with this tactic in Afghanistan and Iraq. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big U.S. land army into the Middle East “should have his head examined.”

The question is why the United States is fighting, for the third time in less than 15 years, a war on behalf of Iran. The U.S. destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (2002) and Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab World (2003), leaving a vacuum in Iraq and the Sunni Arab world. Now Iran’s proxies dominate Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa and Baghdad. As terrible as ISIS is, the Sunni Arab response to the U.S. defeat of Sunni Arabism is “the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq,” according to Friedman. By fighting ISIS, the U.S. is again hoping that the Shiite militias will rule better, an idea that has failed for over a decade.

Today marks two grim anniversaries: the 12th anniversary of U.S. preemptive war on Iraq and the 5th anniversary of the NATO intervention in Libya. Both overthrew Arab dictators; both left the local people in such horrific straits that many of them look back with nostalgia to the days of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi.

Now war against Iran is backed by 47 percent of the U.S. Senate and the new Israeli prime minister who appears to lead the U.S. House.

[Note: To the people who claim that anti-Netanyahu is anti-Israel, ask them if being anti-President Obama is anti-American.]

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