Archive for the ‘President Trump’ category

Paris: Trump Blocks First of Obama’s ‘Three Authoritarianisms’

June 2, 2017

Paris: Trump Blocks First of Obama’s ‘Three Authoritarianisms’, PJ MediaRoger L. Simon, June 1, 2017

Sometimes — maybe almost always — the world seems to run on Freudian projection. One of the salient recent examples is Barack Obama’s supporters — and Obama himself, literally and by implication — calling Donald Trump “authoritarian.”

But in non-projected reality, during his administration, Obama is the one who imposed what we might deem — in appropriately Maoist parlance — the “Three Authoritarianisms.” They were the Paris climate accord, the Iran deal, and US intelligence agencies being used to surveil American citizens.

All three of these “authoritarianisms” were entirely ex-Constitutional.  The first two were in essence treaties on which Congress (and by extension the American people) never got to vote or, for that matter, discuss in any serious way.  The Paris accord probably would have failed. As for the Iran deal, we still don’t know the full contents and therefore debating it is somewhat moot. We have, however, seen its consequences — corpses littered all across Syria, not to mention untold millions of refugees.

Admittedly, too, the third of “Three Authoritarianisms” is still, shall we say, occluded.  We don’t know the extent of this surveillance and may never. But this too is typical authoritarian behavior.

Even a cursory look at history reveals that totalitarianism does not always come with the obvious iron fist of a Comrade Stalin.  Sometimes it arrives in a subtler manner, as it did in the Obama administration when the then president’s amanuensis/lackey Ben Rhodes was so naive or arrogant (or both) as to brag to a New York Times writer how he duped young and uneducated reporters into parroting what the administration wanted them to say about the Iran deal.  The KGB couldn’t have done it better.

In the cases of Paris and Iran, it’s clear the (totalitarian) decision to avoid Congress was deliberate.  But now Trump has put a crimp in the former by pulling out of the Paris climate ( global warming) accord. The international chorus of hissy fits was so instantaneous and predictable — no more eminent scientist than actor Mark Ruffalo has declared “Trump will have the death of whole nations on his hands” — one must ask the obligatory question: Was it ever really about climate or was it, in the immortal words of  H. L. Mencken, “about the money“?

I learned firsthand just how much it was the latter when covering COP15 — the UN climate conference in Copenhagen at the tail end of 2009.  That the event occurred in near-blizzard conditions with temperatures hovering close to single digits was the least of it.  As we all know, that’s weather, not climate. Right?

Naturally, most of the conference was deadly dull — except for watching junketing U.S. politicians scarfing down modernist Danish jewelry in the Marriott gift shop. But during one of the tedious panel discussions, I found myself sitting next to the representative of one of the Pacific islands said to be on the edge of being submerged.  A pleasant fellow, I engaged him in conversation, attempting to commiserate with him about the fate of his homeland. The diplomat started laughing. “Don’t you believe in global warming?” I asked.  “It’s nonsense,” he said.  He went to explain that his island was just fine.  They had some bad weather and had put up sandbags, but now they were gone.  So I then asked why he had come all the way from the South Pacific to Denmark and he looked at me in astonishment. “For the money,” he said, continuing to stare at me as if I were some kind of cretin who had wangled a press pass. (Okay, I wouldn’t have been the first.)

Look, I know that’s entirely anecdotal but it is funny to think about and somehow meshes with the absurd amounts of money the accord would presumably have forced the American taxpayer to cough up in return for, at best, a puny amount of cooling.  No one explained how that would be consequential and perhaps that’s the point.  It would have exposed the whole thing as a sham.

Of course, the folks who take global warming at face value like that other eminent scientist, the newly minted French president Macron, probably believed in imminent catastrophe even before they saw Al Gore’s famous movie warning of a global armageddon that was supposed to have occurred five years ago.  To have altered their opinions since in any way would have been to much of an effort, like trying to read a scientific paper by MIT’s Richard Lindzen. Science is, after all, complicated and never settled.  Worse yet, it takes background to understand it.  Far better to accept the conventional wisdom and not be ostracized.

Anyway, Trump is to be congratulated for resisting all these would-be bureaucratic totalitarians and walking out on this absurd accord before it bankrupted us. I am reminded of a trip I took to then still fully Communist China in 1979 when signs urging the populace to “Resist the Gang of Four!” (Mao’s wife and her Cultural Revolution colleagues) were everywhere. In that spirit I say “Resist the Three Authoritarianisms!”  One (hopefully) down.  Two to go.

PS:  You will note I did not include the Affordable Care Act in my list of authoritarianisms.  It was, after all, enacted by our representatives  in Congress, even if most of them didn’t read it. So you can’t call it strictly totalitarian.  You can just call it stupid.

Humor | ISIS Condemns Kathy Griffin For Cultural Appropriation

June 2, 2017

ISIS Condemns Kathy Griffin For Cultural Appropriation, Duffel Blog, June 1, 2017

(Important Update: Kathy Griffin Will Hold Press Conference To Complain About ‘Bullying’ From Trump Family — DM)

RAQQA, Syria — The self-proclaimed Islamic State has issued a statement condemning self-proclaimed comedian Kathy Griffin, accusing her of “cultural appropriation” after she posed for a photograph with a mock severed head of President Donald Trump.

The group, which has been protective of its brand ever since taking over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria and establishing itself as the premier beheading agency in the Middle East, said it was deeply disturbed by Griffin’s “ignorant and offensive” use of a “sacred Islamic State tradition.”

“This is just another example of a privileged white woman culturally appropriating the proud custom of a marginalized people. Beheadings are our thing, not your thing,” said the statement, which was released on Telegram.

Reports indicate that ISIS was at least somewhat relieved to see the swift and overwhelming backlash against Griffin on social media.

“Of course, the West’s social justice ‘warriors’ have always been our ally, and once again, they did not disappoint. We’re thankful that our fatwa friends immediately identified her offensive appropriation of one of our most cherished rituals,” said Aahil al-Raqqa, an executioner for the group.

According to sources close to the matter, it wasn’t simply Griffin’s portrayal of a beheading that was offensive, but also her lack of attention to detail to such a definitive aspect of ISIS culture.

“The face was so bloodied you could hardly see it,” al-Raqqa said. “Who does that?” he asked, adding that the point of displaying heads is so the media could identify the beheaded.

“She might as well have held up some plastic model head with a toupee and a lot of ketchup. This is even worse than when the Oberlin cafeteria served that pathetic excuse for Ban Mhi, or when those two American chicks in Portland stole burrito recipes from some poor abuelas down in Rosarito.”

Following CNN’s announcement that Griffin would no longer co-host that network’s signature New Year’s Eve celebration from Times Square, ISIS called on Griffin to further atone for her offense.

“Griffin may have been fired by CNN for stealing our culture, but she can still redeem herself,” the group said in a statement. “We demand she show up to Times Square on December 31st and throw that gay, Anderson Cooper, from the top of the tallest building. If she wants to be like us, then prove it.”

At press time, ISIS was reportedly also calling for a boycott of Squatty Potty, the first company to sever ties with Griffin over her stunt.

“Squatting to shit is also another proud ISIS cultural tradition, and we’re sick and tired of the west stealing our stuff.”

 

The White House A-Team

April 14, 2017

The White House A-Team, Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, April 13, 2017

A breakdown on Trump’s dream team of Rex Tillerson, Nikki Haley, and H.R. McMaster after recent occurrences in Syria conflict.

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference

April 5, 2017

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference, White House via YouTube, April 5, 2017

China, U.S. in talks on meeting between presidents

March 18, 2017

China, U.S. in talks on meeting between presidents, Xinhuanet, March 18, 2017

(Even without trying to analyze this, I understand it:

No matter how hard I try to derive any substance from the following article, I can’t. It must have been written in Chinese and then translated into “diplospeak,” a universal language designed to convey as little substance as possible.– DM)

On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Wang also expressed his hope that all concerned parties, including the U.S. side, would be cool-headed and make wise choices.

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BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) — China and the United States are now in close communication on arrangements for a meeting between the two presidents and exchanges at other levels, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Saturday.

“We attach great importance to your visit,” Wang told Tillerson at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

It is Tillerson’s first visit to China since he assumed office last month.

“We have had in-depth discussions on a meeting between the two presidents and begun preparations,” Wang told reporters after their talks.

He said that the two sides agreed to keep close communication to ensure the success of the meeting between the two presidents as well as exchanges at other levels.

China-U.S. ties are now developing positively and steadily, Wang said, calling for implementation of the consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Wang said China is willing to communicate and cooperate more with the U.S. side, enhance trust and handle differences properly, in a bid to promote a healthy and stable development of bilateral ties and benefit the people of both countries and the world at large.

Wang called for more cooperation in foreign affairs, the economy and trade, the military, law enforcement, people-to-people exchanges and sub-national communication.

China and the United States should do more to coordinate on major international and regional affairs, Wang said, calling for closer communication under the multilateral framework.

Wang also restated China’s position on Taiwan and the South China Sea issues, emphasizing that China and the United States should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, properly handle sensitive issues to protect bilateral ties from unnecessary influences.

Reviewing the achievements of bilateral ties, Tillerson said it is necessary for both countries to have closer cooperation and coordination, noting that the United States is ready to work with China to implement the consensus reached by their leaders.

Tillerson said the U.S. side adheres to the one-China policy and is willing to explore more cooperation in the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

The U.S. side stands ready for more high-level exchanges, and more dialogue in diplomatic security, macroeconomic policy coordination, law enforcement, cyberspace and people-to-people exchanges.

The two sides exchanged views on the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and other issues of common concern. Wang reiterated China’s opposition to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Wang also expressed his hope that all concerned parties, including the U.S. side, would be cool-headed and make wise choices.

Tillerson began his first Asian tour Wednesday taking in Japan, the ROK and China.

Ex-CIA Officer Abandoned by Obama: Without Trump Admin, ‘I Would Be Spending Tonight in an Italian Prison’

March 4, 2017

Ex-CIA Officer Abandoned by Obama: Without Trump Admin, ‘I Would Be Spending Tonight in an Italian Prison’, BreitbartJohn Hayward, March 3, 2017

sabrina-de-sousa-cia-reuters-photo-640x480REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Former CIA case officer Sabrina De Sousa thanked the Trump administration for intervening to save her from extradition to Italy and imprisonment in a statement on Friday.

“I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the Trump administration for all their efforts on my behalf. Without their support I would be spending tonight in an Italian prison,” said De Sousa, in a statement quoted by Fox News.

“The Obama administration and former CIA Director John Brennan abandoned De Sousa the last seven years, and in six weeks, the Trump team made her freedom possible,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) told Fox News.

Hoekstra was one of De Sousa’s strongest champions and an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s conduct in her case. He laid out her case and castigated Obama for abandoning her, along with a healthy dose of criticism for the governments of Italy and Portugal, in a Tuesday op-ed and Fox News:

Originally convicted in absentia in 2009 by the Italian legal system, America, until recently, has done very little to defend and support Sabrina and her family since. They have lived under the shadow of these convictions for years. Now she’s on her way to face punishment in Italy.

Roughly eighteen months ago Sabrina took a risk returning to Portugal. During her trip, Sabrina was arrested and instructed not to leave.

Portugal has detained her ever since.

The Obama administration did nothing for seven years following Sabrina’s conviction. They did nothing while she was detained in Portugal.  Meanwhile, President Obama released prisoners from GITMO. The White House handed out pardons. Not a finger was lifted to assist Sabrina.

CIA Director Brennan visited Portugal twice in 2016. Sources in the Portuguese intelligence community indicate that Sabrina’s case was never even discussed.

De Sousa, 61, was working undercover for the CIA in Italy when Egyptian cleric Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, a.k.a. Abu Omar, was plucked from the streets and returned to Egypt in an “extraordinary rendition” operation. He was believed to have been involved in a plan to bomb a bus full of school children in Milan.

The case against Omar turned out to be thin. He was interrogated — he says “tortured” — by the Egyptians and released, then he was convicted in absentia by Italy for “criminal association for the purposes of international terrorism” and given a six-year sentence. He has never actually served time in an Italian prison for this conviction.

One might argue that De Sousa bears no responsibility for the Egyptian government’s conduct in the case, but the maddening truth of the case is that she did not even have anything to do with his rendition. She has documentary evidence in the form of phone records that she was over a hundred miles away when the operation occurred. She and 25 other Americans, mostly CIA employees, were convicted in absentia by an Italian court.

As Newsweek chronicles, De Sousa was en route to visit her mother in India in October 2015, having long since left the employ of the CIA, when she was detained at the Lisbon airport. To her astonishment, she ultimately found herself in a Portuguese prison awaiting extradition to Italy for what remained of a five-year prison sentence. Her mother, sadly, passed away while she was detained in Portugal.

She says she was scapegoated for the operation, which she has been highly critical of, expressing puzzlement that everyone from President George W. Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to the Egyptian government was so eager to move against Omar. In one interview, she suggested the “ambition” of the CIA station chief to impress his superiors might have played a role.

According to the Washington PostItalian law enforcement somehow became convinced De Sousa was secretly the head of CIA operations in Milan rather than a case officer and that Omar’s rendition was “close to the hearts” of both De Sousa and the CIA chief in Rome.

Rep. Hoekstra compared De Sousa’s case to President Obama’s abandonment of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who played a crucial role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In his Fox News op-ed, he lambasted everyone from Italy and Portugal to Bush and Obama administration officials for allowing De Sousa to suffer, even though everyone knew she was merely “a political pawn in a much larger dynamic.” He bluntly accused the Italian government of cowardice for going after De Sousa instead of the high-ranking Bush administration officials — possibly including former President Bush himself — who actually authorized and executed the rendition of Abu Omar.

Hoekstra told Newsweek about his campaign to get help for De Sousa from the Trump administration:

He had a number of friends in the national security apparatus from his time on the House Intelligence Committee—people like Michael Flynn, the recently departed White House national security adviser, fellow former Representative Mike Pompeo, now director of the CIA, and former Senator Dan Coats, the new director of national intelligence. And it didn’t hurt that he had chaired Trump’s Michigan campaign.

“I just said this was terrible that she should go to jail for something that was approved by the National Security Council and probably President Bush himself,” Hoekstra said. “They recognized this had to be a front-burner issue,” he said. “The optics” were bad. “You don’t want a CIA case officer sitting in an Italian jail.”

Hoekstra said he kept administration officials apprised of De Sousa’s situation “in real time” as the day, and then hour, for her extradition grew near. “I was convinced that Wednesday morning she would be transported back to Lisbon and onto a plane to Italy,” he said. And so was she. Her husband, a retired Department of the Army employee who had joined her in Portugal, packed her suitcases with only the light clothing she had. “It was warm here,” she said, “and I dreaded freezing in Milan.”

Newsweek described De Sousa as “bitter at Obama administration officials” because they did not invoke diplomatic immunity to defend her (she was nominally a State Department diplomat while on CIA assignment to Milan). She even sued Hillary Clinton’s State Department for abandoning her to suffer “significant emotional, professional and economic harm, including, but not limited to, possible criminal or civil liability.”

Years later, she felt compelled to officially disclose she had been working for the CIA as well as the State Department, which did not please the CIA. She has flatly accused Obama and his CIA director, John Brennan, of throwing her “under the bus.”

It turns out that one of the things De Sousa has been doing since escaping from her legal entanglements in Italy is reading Newsweek because she used her Twitter account on Friday to swiftly dispute a nameless Obama official’s claim that she was not abandoned by the previous administration:

The arrangement reached by the Trump administration involved reduction of her sentence, so there was no longer any reason for Portugal to extradite her to Italy, and the 11-year-old warrant against her is finally nullified.

“I had an arrest warrant issued against me 11 long years ago that prevented me from seeing members of my immediate family in Europe,” she told Fox News. “Finally, I can rest with the assurance there is no warrant hanging over my head.”

“In six short weeks, the Trump administration has given me more hope and support than I ever received in the past eight years from the Obama Administration or the CIA, my former employer. I had feared that the country I signed up with in good faith to serve had abandoned me,” De Sousa said.

President Donald Trump Addresses Joint Session Of Congress

March 1, 2017

President Donald Trump Addresses Joint Session Of Congress via YouTube, February 28, 2017