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They went to the mat at the convention for a radical and surprising reversal of sanctions against Russia. There was no electoral advantage in making the change. They were sending a signal that they would bring the bacon home after the election.
Posted by grantcart | Wed Feb 15, 2017, 12:15 AM (8 replies)
Edited to add:
This is what a President on crack looks like when he has a press conference
The speed of the collapse of the honeymoon and the level of infighting is moving at the speed of light
The break in at the Watergate was a single thread with a few side threads.
We are witnessing an exponential explosion of leads, gaffes, betrayal, perfidy, use of government for personal gain and possibly outright treason.
Take a look at this picture
1) Violation of security of classified documents
2) Use of government to advance personal assets
3) Potential violation of classified material by cyber malware: There is a very good chance that the "flashlight" download they are using for the country club guests to view the classified material has malware that is stealing the document and sending it out in real time (much greater violation than anything that Secretary Clinton did):
The Hidden Piracy threat of Flashlight Applications
4) Not to mention the general level of buffoonery that they are showing to the entire world
Nothing Nixon did was this haphazard and the truth is if he hadn't recorded it he would have gotten away with it.
Trump isn't just recording it he is charging people to watch him fuck it up while he is doing it and letting them record it.
Posted by grantcart | Tue Feb 14, 2017, 07:07 PM (119 replies)
Thoughtful people watching Trump run for President realized that each time he would bellow some authoritarian populist pablum that he was either approaching or crossing some invisible intellectual line, but it would receive a huge reaction from the angry herd that he corralled into his rallies. We kept hearing from ‘normal Republicans’ that Trump would ‘pivot’ after he got the nomination, after the first debate, after this point or that.
When we watched in horror as Trump was soundly defeated in the election but had won one of the most improbable electoral college wins the part of America that thinks about the country an inch deeper than the most sentimental platitudinous tripe realized that the chances were good that our government would cross the line and eventually become an abuser of power that imposes the power of government to brutally destroy innocent lives.
That line was crossed on Thursday.
Eight years ago I was interviewing a Border Patrol Agent in Las Cruces New Mexico. He was angry that the Obama administration had drawn a line and that the Border Patrol, Customs and ICE would “no longer be able to enforce the law”.
I asked him what he meant and he said that they were ordered not to go into Las Cruces and arrest known illegals ( Border Patrol range of 100 miles next to the border put the city within their normal area of operations). “We know where they are, they are working on construction sites in full view of everyone, but we can’t go after them.”
I answered, “So you signed up for the Border Patrol so that you could be like Tony Soprano”. He had a shocked expression. He had told me that he had worked in construction in San Diego.
I asked him if, while he was working construction in San Diego, he had ever worked on a project an as it was approaching completion ICE would show up and arrest dozens of illegals. He said, “all of the time”.
I explained to him that the employer knew who the illegals were and had never paid their social security taxes and as they approached the end of the project missed a couple paychecks promising a big bonus ‘next week’. His face showed surprise as I explained that it was the contractor who had called ICE in order to cover up their own illegal actions and pocket hundreds of thousands of illegal profits. These criminal contractors didn’t even have to pay a “Tony Soprano” type, they could call ICE or the Border Patrol to do the job. “Is that why you signed up for the Border Patrol?”. He gave me a sheepish “No”.
President Obama drew a line of decency that put ICE/Border Patrol on the side of finding and removing real criminal aliens. Using those services to focus on dangerous criminals made all of us safer. Trump has erased that line to brutalize innocent families and all of us are more at risk because instead of chasing gangs ICE is now chasing mothers of US citizens.
There is no doubt that Trump made the decision to erase the line that President Obama installed to use the forces of border security to concentrate on criminal elements and has now directed them at innocent undocumented workers who supporters of Secretary Clinton have worked for after losing in the courtroom in Seattle.
Erasing the line protecting the sanctity of Family Reunification
The one unifying principle for Republican and Democratic politicians on migration and refugee policies over the last 7 decades has been focused on “Family Reunification”. Trump has threw that away and instructed ICE to take the next undocumented person they could find and throw them out of the country and ignore President Obamas’ previous orders.
Republicans like to say “If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns” and there is an element of truth to that. It is also true that if you have ICE chase down law abiding undocumented aliens then they will get those who report in as instructed and the illegal violent aliens will be left alone. Trump’s actions were aimed at destroying an innocent family but it also means that the government’s resources are no longer focused on aliens with criminal records, and we are all less safe because of that.
I have no doubt that the actions against Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos and the hundreds that have been detained by ICE since then are a pique of revenge for losing his appeal on the Muslim ban. Trump has personalized the instruments of state power and is using it to concentrate his personal position. It is exactly how has Putin has ruled.
Right now the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE investigation unit is not looking at intercepts for the violent gang that was their objective. I guarantee you right now that DHS investigators have been instructed to find some connection with undocumented aliens and Nordstrom.
Tomorrow hundreds of law abiding families, many of them with US citizens in the family, will face the brutal force of government law enforcement officers that should be used to protect us. One of the reasons that they are being targeted is that we support them. It is Trump’s payback.
I know that this is a long post but there is one more element that needs to be pointed out. Guadalupe García de Rayos was arrested based on a raid by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2008 when she worked at Golf Land in Phoenix. What triggered Arpaio’s raid? Maybe it was a competitor to one of his supporters. Maybe one of the customers were angry at how they were treated.
After she was arrested Guadalupe followed all the instructions that the court had given her. Why was she even instructed to go to the ICE office while others arrested were told that under President Obama’s instructions they were to be ignored? Because the AZ prosecutor had over charged her with a felony for using a Social Security number to get an ID. Because it wasn’t a violent felony she was safe behind President Obama’s line of reason.
All of the 7-10 million undocumented workers who show up to work have provided a fictional SS number so that they can work. What is the result or harm of this action? We have 7 million people contributing into the Social Security Trust fund who will never be able to claim for the benefits that they are paying for. It is one of the unspoken reasons why, even though Americans are living a decade longer and paying out much more than the original calculations anticipated, there is so much money in the Trust Fund. This is Guadalupe’s crime, she has been helping pay for our Social Security with no chance of getting the benefit.
Thousands of families in the US will be attacked this week but millions are now living in fear because Trump has crossed the line. It is the line that separated us from President Obama and the dictator Putin.
Posted by grantcart | Sun Feb 12, 2017, 11:48 AM (3 replies)
The ACA was going to be done on the first day, finished, period.
In the O'Reilly interview Trump conceded that there isn't going to be any change this year and they are going to start with a new "replacement" sometime next year.
Posted by grantcart | Mon Feb 6, 2017, 12:24 PM (5 replies)
A draft of the proposed announcement has been leaked:
Posted by grantcart | Mon Jan 30, 2017, 12:57 PM (3 replies)
In the two years that Trump has been actively campaigning for President there have been five major terrorist attacks in Europe, 3 in France, 1 each in Belgium and Germany. In addition there have been a number of other minor attacks and the total number of casualties is over 300 dead 1200 wounded.
In response Europe has not succumbed to fear but embraced and continued to take in large numbers of refugees, many more times than the US.
In a time of real crises Roosevelt calmed the nation by reminding it that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.
Even though during the same time period the US has a statistical negligible exposure to terrorist attacks Trump has stoked fear and like a coward has cut and run. Europe has stood up and America is now cowering.
Here is what now haunts the sentient part of the United States; Should the US be the target of another major terrorist attack (which his actions have made more likely) this coward will not be looking for multilateral approaches to fight ISIS but turn to the military and demand Tactical Nuclear responses.
By inserting Bannon into the NSC and taking out the Joint Chief and the Defense Secretary he is politicising weapons of mass destruction and turning the US into an unstable military power that operates on a hair trigger of fear and reaction.
Posted by grantcart | Mon Jan 30, 2017, 12:17 AM (3 replies)
Dropped by my nearest mosque, made a few friends and dropped off this note:
On this day where the President of the United States attempts to codify bigotry that is contrary to the spirit of Declaration of Independence, the advice of the founding fathers and the letter of the Constitution I would like to simply say,
I stand with you.
As someone who follows a different faith tradition I would like you to know that there are many who share in the disgust of the President’s opprobrium. I have been privileged to live and work with Muslims in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Some of that work involved working with Muslims to assist Vietnamese refugees, Cambodians to assist Muslim refugees and people of different traditions to assist Afghan and Iranian refugees that resettled into the United States.
I know Muslims who have worked for the US government for decades to fight against our common enemies. They will no longer be able to visit the US.
The actions of the President will not stand. They will be ridiculed by people who will resist religious bigotry and by people who have lived and worked with people outside the US and understand that the President’s arguments lack facts, wisdom or maturity.
We all know that this administration is a temporary occupier of the Presidency and that successors will return to the traditional expression of American values of religious tolerance, international friendship and embracing a search for universal moral self evident truths.
The greater problem is in educating the millions of his supporters who continue to engage in bigotry. Even though they remain a minority of the country they are a constant drag on progress not only against Muslims but also against people of color and the poor.
They do not know that Muslim scholars and philosophers have been instrumental in the foundation of Western values, philosophy and science. They do not know of Ibn Rushd whose original works on Aristotle and Plato were the foundation of Western Civilization’s re-integration of their work after the Dark Ages.
They do not know of ibn Musa al-Khwarizimi whose work translated into Latin laid the foundation for Western mathematics. When someone says that they want to eliminate Arabic influences in our education system I ask “how are we going to run computers on Roman Numerals?”.
They are not aware that much of Sir Isaac Newton’s work was drawn directly from Alhazen who laid the foundations of the scientific method six hundred years before Bacon and Newton would borrow heavy from his works.
From Aristotle to Ibn Rushd to ibn Musa al-Khwarisimi to Alhazen to Bacon to Newton the advance of civilization has always been the result of a free exchange of ideas that requires not just the free interaction of people from different traditions but a hunger for friendship among all peoples.
Influenced by thinkers from various cultures, different religions, all races we all toil under the same sun face the same moral challenges, the same test of bravery for defending principle and the same pursuit of Truth. Ultimately we all face the same end where we leave a legacy for standing for compassion, understanding and truth against fear, bigotry and lies.
President Roosevelt advised that “All we have to fear is fear itself”. While Trump has succumbed to that fear please be assured that millions of us stand with you.
In solidarity with American Muslims,
Posted by grantcart | Sat Jan 28, 2017, 07:09 PM (35 replies)
Trumps groundless calls for increased vetting of refugees has the same foundation of fact that his claim for widespread voter fraud, without any foundation whatsoever.
The facts are that people who enter the United States under refugee application are MUCH more carefully vetted than other visitors, like students, business people, or tourists. The process requires multiple levels of scrutiny for refugees over a lengthy process in camps where there is a large and motivated community to assist in vetting while other types of visas go through a single examination of assets, application and interview.
To understand the process you need to understand that there are two types of asylum for refugees: Countries of First Asylum and Countries of Second Asylum. With a few exceptions virtually all of refugees resettled into the US are the result of Second Asylum.
Second Asylum Processing.
Since World War II understanding how to assimilate refugees has become very sophisticated and is based on two important principles, they are:
1) The best possible solution is for the refugees to receive immediate protection (in First Asylum Countries) and work to pacify the situation so that refugees can return to their country of origin.
2) In the case where return is not possible then all efforts will be made for family reunion.
While all Second Asylum countries have various levels of support to assist refugees integrating into their new society (Scandinavian countries, for example need extended support to assist in difficult language adjustment) it has been well established that reuniting with relatives, even distant relatives like 2nd cousins, is a ‘force multiplier’ that makes successful integration much faster.
For this reason refugees entering into a First Asylum camp will first meet with a UN worker to establish a detailed family tree and an initial interview. This tree is compared with other family statements that are made in multiple camps. They are repeatedly told that if they misrepresent any facts it could make resettlement impossible.
These dossiers are made available to the resettlement countries assigning any country that has a family member the first option. For the US the next step is an interview with a service contracted with the state department. There are a dozen but the most well known are Catholic Refugee Services and IRC. The people who interview the refugees do this full time for years on end and like anyone who does the same thing over and over again become very skilled on discerning deception. Working with the caseworker is a trusted national that provides translation assistance and also skilled at evaluating statements of fact.
If the applicant family is a candidate for resettlement it then goes to a State Department Refugee Officer who has consular experience. The names of relatives and known associates are run through data bases developed by the CIA and anyone with an unusual connection or question is red flagged for extensive review.
One of the key elements that is overlooked in the hyperbole is that the process usually takes 2 years and during that time must live in a community of refugees from the same area who are highly motivated to find any enemies for two reasons. The first is that anyone from the regime (or ISIS) that is trying to go to the US is also the same enemy that caused them to lose their home and as you can imagine these people are filled with hatred for people from the regime/ISIS that caused them so much harm.
Secondly if you provide information that correctly reveals a terrorist (or a Viet Cong, for example) to the US you will immediately go to the front of the line and be resettled immediately. The fact is that the refugee camps had the best information because these were the communities where people closest to the US were already leaving.
For example in resettling refugees from Vietnam we would get information about Viet Cong that were planning to join the exodus (ironically the Viet Cong were harshly treated by the North Vietnamese) BEFORE they even left country. There were numerous cases where VC who tried to mix in with other refugees were identified at sea before they even reached the refugee camp.
Over the last 30 years we have resettled more than 1 million refugees including large numbers from Islamic countries and the record shows a very successful record. The median income for whites in the US is $ 59,698 while Vietnamese, for example, is $ 59,405.
The reality is that if someone intended to enter the US for terrorist operations it would be much easier and several years faster to enter as a student, travel ling businessman or a tourist than as a refugee and you only have to look at the 19 involved in the 9/11 attacks to see the proof.
The call for suspending refugee resettlement until better vetting methods are in place is another Trump lie.
They are again using fear and security concerns to promote racial and religious bigotry.
Posted by grantcart | Fri Jan 27, 2017, 06:00 PM (4 replies)
I was moved to take care of the terrible burden I have and was moved to go to the kitchen and clean the dishes in the sink and presto 'Carnage gone'.
While cleaning the dishes I thought of the Carnage I have seen in Vietnam when I entered after the NV Army had liberated the south. Three years later and still seeing elderly Vietnamese picking through the garbage to find a scrap. At night thousands of families appeared at night in the street to vie for space under the building overhang to try and minimize the effects of the monsoon. They were a small part of the tens of thousands that were relocated to 'New Economic Zones'. City dwellers that were sent to rural areas without the equipment or skill to raise crops
How many refugee camps did I see? More than a dozen tent cities with at least 30,000 and dozens of smaller ones. People crawling out of the killing fields of Cambodia. Rural areas that were waiting for electricity. Isolated islands that had tens of thousands of rats. Carnage upon carnage. And how many of those people did I hear complain about being collateral damage? Not one.
I thought of the Carnage I have witnessed not directly related to war. Too much to list. The most shocking was sitting in a traffic jam in Jakarta and looking off the main street to a long street with a canal in the middle and a series of small aluminum sheets above the canal. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sewage system for that part of the city. People walking out to releave themselves with minimal privacy.
I could go on but you know about it, you know about the completely needless Carnage of Iraq.
All that I have witnessed first hand but I have never heard as much sell pity as Trump put into the Inaugural black cloud of Trump. Under President Obama the DJI went from 6700 to 19,900 in the greatest accumulation of capital in the history of Capitalism. In 2013, the first full year of the ACA, the DJI goes up an astounding 4,000 points, and incredible 38%.
Never in history has a group of people accumulated so much wealth. And then they play the victim card, entitled white men have been treated so unfairly.
Entitled white Americans don't ask what you can do for the country ask what more the country can do for you.
The torch has been passed to a new group of self congratulatory phony religionists who proudly proclaim that they will not pay any price to advance human rights and commit to bear no burden, avoid all hardship, disappoint all friends, collude with any foe, to undermine liberty and perpetuate their privilege.
Here is JFKs stirring promise to people suffering real carnage:
"To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves . . .because it is right.. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.".
My dishes are clean, the Carnage is gone. My personal circumstances are reduced because of health limitations (not serious but I have to stay in a low gear) but I am grateful for the benefits of living in the richest country in the world and having cheap electricity, clean reasonable housing, great libraries, Internet, safe food supplies at a reasonable cost.
Think of the sacrifice of the men who charged Normandy and compare it to the whiney bleating of the President. The real Carnage that is on display is the Carnage to the dignity of the office he occupies. He is the smallest American.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Jan 21, 2017, 01:02 AM (44 replies)
Reasonable deductions based on known Russian practices:
1) The reason that so many intelligence officers are inclined to give weight to the report that the Russians have something on Trump without having seen actual evidence is based on the fact that the Russians are so good at it. Russians are to entrapping people as the Jordan era Chicago Bulls was to basketball.
2) They don’t run a single trap but traps within traps always trying to find a weakness. Like the “Tin Men” dropping a $ 5 bill on the floor they are always searching for each individual’s particular weakness.
3) Taking an objective view of Trump its pretty clear that he has two weaknesses: devotion to his brand and fear of losing Melania. The campaign was initially a brand enhancement exercise and they don’t really hide the fact that his administrations main goal is to advance the Trump brand, which Trump thinks is synonymous to the interests of the United States. Brand enhancement is resistant to blackmail because the “obnoxious frat boy” persona doesn’t hurt him. In the age of Kardashians scandal and salacious video’s can help you generate $ 50 million a year in income.
4) The one thing that does concern him, IMO, is losing Melania and spending the last decades of his life alone. The man doesn’t have a serious circle of real friends. He is not a person who can live alone and he has found someone that accepts him with his obvious faults and creates a haven for him.
5) In order to counter the widely held perception that Russia has the upper hand expect that the summit that is being arranged at lightning speed will have a number of major concessions by the Russians to try and show that they don’t have any advantage over Trump, that Trump is a masterful negotiator and that close Russian/American relations will be great for the US. With such agreement, it will be argued, the US can significantly reduce its contributions to NATO. The real damage to the US will be in the years that follow.
The watersports video probably doesn’t exist or is faked because it doesn’t really match Trump. While he doesn’t have good intellectual discipline he has had good personal discipline in regards to alcohol and drug use (due in large part to the death of his brother at an early age which had a great impact on him). Also people that have that kind of fetish (ala Dick Morris) don’t just do it once but have a habit of doing it over a long period of time.
It is the prospect of losing Melania that is Donald’s biggest fear. He is past the point where it is fun to start over and having a place that you really feel comfortable in is a lot more important at 70 than at 40 and accounts for Trump’s penchant for being home almost every night.
Melania probably has some level of accommodation to overnight trysts but probably would be most upset at another “Melania”, namely someone who has developed an emotionally intimate relationship with Trump over an extended period, especially someone who has higher educational and professional chops that Melania (editing her educational resume on her website reveals a certain degree of vulnerability that she probably has.
An extended relationship with an attractive women with high professional credentials, like a medical doctor from a country close to Slovenia (like the Czech Republic) would be the gold standard of compromising material that would have an effect on DT. It would likely have a seemingly innocent initial contact and the asset would likely voice strong anti Putin sentiments to throw off the target.
Back in 1978 I was one of only 4 Americans in Ho Chi Minh City and had a short exposure to these types of exercises. I went for a single meeting but Air France only arrived and departed on Thursday so I had a 2 hour meeting and 6 days of wondering around. During that time I was able to observe multiple attempts to compromise me, not because I had a particularly sensitive position but simply because they had the people hired and trained and they had to do something.
The seemingly random meeting of a likely working girl was obvious and probably not serious, it was offered so that you would relax your guard and fall for the next one. The first free morning I had there was only one English speaking cab in front of my hotel (there were only 3 hotels in operation at the time). I asked him to suggest some places that would be interesting to go to.
The first was a large shop with lots of fantastic and very valuable antiques. The most famous American to ever live in Thailand had made a major killing after his WWII service in the OSS when he went to China and bought valuable antiques by the boat load. So while the first attempt was for gratuitous sex the second one was for greed. I knew that it was a set up because not only did the owner have a handsome Western style haircut, he also had brand new shoes that could only have come from visiting Hong Kong or Bangkok. The day before I had a meeting with Head Accountant with Air Vietnam and he had come wearing ‘peasant pajamas’ and thongs and it wasn’t for effect either.
My next stop was to a former Seminary that had been converted to a factory making the most terrible beaded curtains that use to be commonly seen in the US in the 50s except these had the most terrible images of Lenin, Marx and Engels. Manufactured for sale in the Soviet Union they were horrible but the cabbie took me around the corner and in one small building and inside it was a gallery of beautiful lacquer paintings that had been made by the Seminary staff that was now unemployed.
Buying antiques could have been a liability for two reasons because a) they could have been stolen from departing refugees and good foundation for a sensational claim that a UN refugee official was profiting from property stolen from refugees b) many SE Asian countries have prohibitions from exporting antiques (Thailand prohibits exporting antique Buddha figures). Purchasing newly made works of art was safe as long as you could formulate a fictitious explanation of your foreign currency exchanges.
Having a Seminary background I was able to confirm that the person running the gallery was Seminary professor and his threadbare shirt, old beaten sandals and caloric deficient frame signaled that it was not government related and I was likely to see him next in a refugee camp.
There were other attempts but the one that fooled me initially at the time was the woman in her mid twenties who contacted me as I was walking around the district where the hotel was. She only approached me when she couldn’t be seen by anyone else, spoke broken English and her hands trembled. She wanted to sell me a large book of stamps. I don’t think that she was part of a set up and I met with her several times, in public and across a table. After a couple of meetings she told me the police had confiscated her stamps and she had borrowed from loan shark and her tears convinced me that she was afraid. I resisted her attempts to go further.
I was very disciplined and always wondered if I was imaging the dozen different attempts that I thought were made to entrap me, including turning the stamp woman into a tool. The thing is that the 2 officers who followed me both fell into a honey trap and were “compromised” except that we were an operational agency and embarrassing an officer didn’t really help the SRV get access to sensitive information.
For Trump he would have been constantly targeted and the runs on him would include seemingly innocent actors who came to his assistance probably helping him get out of an embarrassing situation in order to create the long term bond to develop much greater avenues to control him. Kind of like the guys who tried to play against Jordon and never figured out how many different ways he had faked them out.
Posted by grantcart | Sat Jan 14, 2017, 11:30 PM (7 replies)