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Archive for the ‘Donald Trump’ Category

Those watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu cannot be faulted for thinking they might be living a cyncial version of the old 1940s “Road” pictures with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour. (Who gave her that name?!) A movie called “The Road to Gilead.” Emily Peck has other ideas, but there are portents that cannot be denied.

Women In The U.S. Don’t Live In A Dystopian Hellscape. Yet.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” resonates, but there’s reason for hope.

Peck is pretty optimistic positing that the road to Gilead is fraught with lots of potholes and obstructions, but we do well not to focus too narrowly on the falling rock on one side of the highway thereby missing the sheer cliff on the other side.

I am not watching “The Handmaid’s Tale,” much as I would like to. I simply refuse to pay another dollar beyond my already expensive FiOS service, so Hulu and Netflix are out for me.  I have, however, read the book. The coincidence of the airing of the mini-series with the Democratic “Unity Tour” should set off some bells and whistles.

This is the axiom Peck offers that Bernie supporters continue to reject.

“Progress does not happen in a straight line. Setbacks are inevitable. What’s critical is what comes next.”

They rejected it during the 2016 primaries renouncing any and all incremental policies proposed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and stubbornly continued their opposition during the general election.  They persist in their unwillingness to allow the Democratic Party to evolve naturally and have set out to take it over and overturn the common sense principles that have been its warp and woof since the groundbreaking days of FDR.  Rather than empowering women, the party is rolling back its liberating positions on women under the influence of a man who refuses to join the party.  No, this is not a relitigation or extension of the 2016 primaries.  It is a fight for the future.

The parallels between the dystopia Atwood projected and perceived potential effects of the new administration are not limited to Trump’s positions and those of his cronies. The BernieBros continue to have a hand in suppressing female issues, concerns, and voices within the only party likely to continue to highlight them.

Women have a stake in resisting efforts on either side to curtail our rights and freedoms. Resisters must do it for ourselves.  But we must be careful not to lose the party.  That is where the strength is.  The reason the BernieBots are fighting to usurp that power is because they know that a third party will have no muscle except to do what they have done in 2000 and 2016 – split the progressive vote.

We must remember that there was a reason why, at the end of her senior thesis, Hillary Clinton spurned Saul Alinsky’s methods (i.e. change from without the system rather than within) as well as the job he offered her and opted for the discipline of law school instead.  We have to be in it to win it.

Leaving the party  is no solution.  Think hard before you do that because it is not only the Trump crowd that would happily see us in shades of red, blue, green, and stripes according to their designations of how we serve.  We cannot determine our fate from the outside.  The Bernie crowd knows this, and that is why they fight to take over the party.  Let’s not just abandon it to them.

Crossposted at The Department of Homegirl Security.

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Ten days into the new administration, a Russian military push in the Arctic was the subject of concern and a post here. At the time, both Russian appropriation of Arctic waters for drilling and Russian control of Arctic sea routes as those waters thaw (guess why) were the issues. Days later, on Thursday February 2 came this post: Throwback Thursday: I TOLD You to #WatchThisSpace!!!  The issue there was disclosure of oil company funds going to foreign governments.

Here we are 13 weeks later, and oh what a tangled web we see described by Dr. Vanessa Neumann in The Daily Beast today.  Dr. Neumann, Daily Beast points out, is “a Venezuelan-American and president of the trade integrity and political risk consultancy Asymmetrica.”

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Double Deal

Russia Gave to Citgo, Then Citgo Gave to Trump

Many big oil companies funded Trump’s inauguration. Only one is deeply in debt to the Kremlin.

Dr. Vanessa Neumann

Dr. Vanessa Neumann

04.27.17

The oil company’s half-million donation to Donald Trump’s Inaugural Committee wasn’t illegal. But it certainly wasn’t moral. And the cash may have come from the Kremlin, at least indirectly.

Recently released Federal Election Commission filings show that Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (known as PDVSA) gave Trump more money than Shell or Walmart. The donation is unusual for PDVSA: Citgo had not donated to previous presidential inaugural committees.

Citgo’s donation to the Trump Inaugural Committee and the horrifying images emerging from Venezuela’s weeks of brutally repressed protests (26 killed, 437 injured, and 1,289 arrested—according to Venezuela’s attorney general; Venezuelan prisoner rights NGO Foro Penal says 1,536 have been “detained” as of April 25) are connected: Russian money and influence is behind both of them. Some of those detained are tortured in Venezuela’s equivalent of CIA headquarters, known as “The Tomb,” for its subterranean torture chambers. The Inaugural Committee donation came days after Citgo (a Delaware-incorporated company with operational headquarters in Houston) mortgaged 49.9 percent of its holdings to Rosneft, an oil company controlled by the Kremlin. That enabled Citgo’s parent company PDVSA to make its bond payments. Rosneft is sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. So is its CEO, Igor Sechin, “Russia’s Darth Vader.” One of the most feared men in Russia, Sechin is close to Vladimir Putin and is one of Putin’s key instruments of geopolitical power. Net net: If Venezuela defaults on its bond payments, Rosneft (i.e., Putin & Co.) could own several refineries, nine pipelines, and distribution terminals all across the Eastern U.S., from Texas to Maine, without any government oversight. If the Russians end up owning Citgo, they will be using American consumers to fund their autocracy and Assad’s brutality in Syria.

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Yes, you read that correctly.  No, your eyes do not deceive you.  Holy moly!  Sechin’s name comes up as does, in a very disturbing way, Rosneft.  Where did we see those names before?  Oh, right!  The Christopher Steele memos!  Those documents were highlighted in a second, then seemingly unrelated, post here also on February 2:  Throwback Thursday Part II: The Russians, the Memos, the Sanctions – The Art of the Steal.

Dr. Neumann has pulled the whole cat’s cradle into a coherent web that reaches, now, from the Arctic to the Caribbean to the Middle East and remains about Russia, oil, money, Syria, and elections, and threatens a new refugee crisis.

As we approach the 100th day, remember this from 13 weeks ago?  We still do not know who bought those shares. It’s a good guess that Carter Page knows.

The deal on the sale of a 19.5 percent stake in Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft will bring Moscow some $11.1 billion in revenues, the company announced Saturday.

Hillary Clinton and her team tried to warn us. But, you know, emails, wikileaks, ‘flawed,’ ‘ill,’ and ‘shrill.’ Not the perfect (female) candidate – which is the enemy of not just the good, but of the best yet.

10-19-16-z-15

Keep watching this space!  Here’s a pretty picture for #ThrowbackThursday.

 

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I have a Vizio flat screen TV.  It certainly is not huge. But when the news outlets put Trump’s picture on the screen, his head is really big – and toxic.  I cannot look at his face so often (and LARGE) without feeling contaminated.  So here!

 

Much better.  Right?

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ser·en·dip·i·ty

[ˌserənˈdipədē]

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way:

“a fortunate stroke of serendipity” ·

[more]synonyms: (happy) chance · (happy) accident · fluke · luck · good luck · good fortune · fortuity · providence · happy coincidence
Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press

 

The FBI has a way of stumbling upon things. 11 days before Election Day, FBI Director James Comey released a letter to eight Republican committee chairs stating that, while investigating an unrelated case, the FBI had discovered emails that might be connected to the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails and that he was extending, therefore, that investigation. Hillary’s campaign hit back with a one two punch.

Fast-forward to this week.

US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians

Comey was clear in stating that this evidence did not surface via the investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian operatives, but, rather, arose from  a different investigation, apparently involving surveillance of foreign operatives.

In other words,  the FBI came upon this information much the way they discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton on Anthony Weiner’s laptop – emails, it turned out, that the bureau had already seen. They were investigating Weiner, and some of Hillary’s emails appeared.

For the record, the fact that these “foreign” communications turned up in a bureau investigation and Comey announced it does not absolve Comey of releasing that October 28 letter and probably influencing the vote.

In this case, they were surveilling foreign operatives, and  – whoops! Trump campaign staff were talking to them!

Everything is a big, fat mess. As Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Comey violated bureau policy when he released that letter 11 days before the election. The emails in question would have been a huge nothing-burger had the letter not been released so close to Election Day. As it turned out, the letter was likely a factor in turning the election against Hillary Clinton and electing the guy whose campaign, transition team, and administration are riddled with Russian ties.

How ironic and how fitting! Karma can really suck when it’s bad. Unfortunately, this bad karma for the Trump regime is unlikely to change anything. Confirmation hearings continue for appointees and a SCOTUS justice nominated by what could possibly be proven an illegitimate administration.

This is the kind of malarkey being spouted by a Democrat!

“It’s only natural for us to want to go back and relive the elections,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.). “But that’s not going to happen. It’s about moving forward in the future. I think my Republican colleagues said it best when they said it happened to Democrats this time, it may very well happen to Republicans in the future, and that’s why it’s important to seek the truth.”

Read more at HuffPo >>>>

What? We should just keep on truckin’ like all of this is normal because  …  what? Because it may happen to Republicans at some unspecified point in the future? Sorry, but that should not be allowed to wash. This should never happen in any U.S. election. Period. That is the whole reason people are upset about it.

If this administration is found to have committed high crimes and misdemeanors and /or treason, the office of POTUS should not simply pass to the Veep of the same administration. I know we have no provision in the Constitution for this possibility, but that does not mean that we should just ignore a festering wound to our democracy. The situation is unprecedented. Whether collusion is eventually proven or not, steps should be taken to ensure the security of future elections.

Retweeted
 The intelligence community concluded the Russians will interfere again. This is why full investigation is important to country. Please stop.

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When I posted Tillerson’s Folly,  my thinking was that, in barring the press from his first official trip, Rex Tillerson was alienating a potentially valuable set of allies. Brassy Rebel pointed out, in her comment there, that his attitude vis-à-vis the press might indicate a broader administration policy of downgrading diplomacy. Indeed, Trump’s cabinet picks in general seem to indicate antagonism toward the very departments these folks head.

Hillary Clinton spent her first weeks at the State Department roaming the halls when she had a chance and popping into offices to ask what the folks there did.  Foreign Policy‘s article by Robert Jervis, presents a secretary of state cut off from others in the building and even from the Oval Office.

Remember when everyone said Hillary got off on the wrong foot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with her reset button?

She did go on to work very successfully with him on New START, didn’t she?

Did you wonder when Tillerson was going to meet with Lavrov? Well, according to Jervis, he already has and that did not go swimmingly.

A minor indicator was his ignorance of the protocol to be followed when he met his Russian counterpart and neglected to make the standard introductory remarks. This shows that Tillerson was disconnected from his building’s expertise, that he ignored what he was told, or that his subordinates went out of their way to embarrass him.

The reason we did not know about it, of course, is the absence of press and paucity of press briefings under Tillerson. Here is the schedule for March so far. There was no briefing today. In contrast, here is the schedule for January – the last three weeks of John Kerry’s tenure.  Here is the schedule for March 2012, five years ago this month and the last year Hillary was secretary of state.  There is definitely something going on there. Mark Toner is still the spokesperson, but he is speaking far less these days than under Hillary and John Kerry.  It is also a little odd that Tillerson has not appointed his own spokesperson.

Jervis’s analysis is well worth a read. He takes a broad look at Tillerson’s State Department and his conclusions bode ill for the department and for diplomacy.  It reminds me of George W. Bush appointing Christie Whitman to head the EPA and then knee-capping her at every turn. She finally left in frustration after only  two-and-a-half years.  Fine thanks for giving him Barney!

 

Argument

Rex Tillerson Might Be the Weakest Secretary of State Ever

 

The administration that promised to drain the swamp is draining Foggy Bottom.  This, from The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove also offers some interesting insights. They are blaming the smaller plane on budget cuts. Just wondering what effect those cuts will have on embassy and consulate security.  This passage is particularly ironic.

Tillerson found himself being lectured on press freedoms during a visit to Bonn, Germany, last month by none other than Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the foreign policy czar of journalist-snuffing strong man Vladimir Putin.

“Why did you shush them out?” Lavrov demanded after Tillerson’s handlers ejected reporters from a bilateral meeting as the Secretary of State began to speak; Lavrov, who frequently travels with a full complement of journalists on his official plane, had already taken a press question. (Due to lack of witnesses from the Fourth Estate, Tillerson’s reply, if any, went unrecorded.)

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You might want to rethink canceling your subscription to The Guardian.

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The State Department press corps had boarded and had been logged in – both by the crew and on their social nets – when the secretary of state’s motorcade drove up. Hillary Clinton was about to board for her first official tour in Africa as secretary of state.  It was very exciting, but her press corps, all logged into Twitter, were disconcerted.  There was another motorcade on the tarmac. Another plane was preparing for takeoff.  The State Department press corps did not like it, and they said so on Twitter and other social nets.

What’s he doing, they queried. He’s stealing her light! There was a tweetstorm of monumental proportions.

The “he” in this case was the secretary of state’s husband and the former president who was off on a mission to rescue two journalists captured and imprisoned in North Korea.


They were employed by his former vice president, and the former POTUS went at his behest with the approval of the new president and his secretary of state, about to be bound to Africa. She knew all about it, of course. For the sake of convenience and perhaps to some degree for the sake of last minute preps and briefings, they had left their Georgetown residence together and arrived at Andrews for their separate missions. It was well-coordinated as such events go.

The DOS press corps, however did not see it that way that particular morning. They circled their wagons around the secretary of state, whose coverage was their job, and expressed their disgruntlement on Twitter where I was following several of the younger members of the corps.

Their loyalty to and protectiveness of Hillary was plain to see. No one should be stealing her steam, not even her husband, a two-term former POTUS.  This was her big trip.  They were there to make it visible to the world.

Apparently the current SOS, Rex Tillerson, missed class that day and in the days following Hillary Clinton’s flu and subsequent fainting spell and concussion, or even her bouts with spring allergies, or he would know the fealty and concern with which the DOS press corps treats coverage of the secretary of state.

Instead of giving them a fair chance to get to know him, bond, and explain and defend him in the press, he has opted to treat them as the enemy and barred them from the plane on his first official excursion to Asia. N.B. Asia was also Hillary’s first official trip as SOS.

This decision is not only folly but also speaks to the general attitude of this administration toward the press.  Without giving them the chance to get to know him and perhaps develop a sympathy toward him and his work, he has chosen to banish them as inimical – the general stance of the administration – and a dangerous and foolhardy one.

The State Department press corps tends to be very open, supportive, and defensive of the secretary of state. Tillerson, on his first official journey, has chosen to erect a wall, another symbol of this new administration, between him and those whose function is to cover his tenure.

He has decided to pare down. He will not be using the Big Blue Bird – so familiar via Condi, Hillary, and John Kerry.  He will use a smaller plane. N.B. that this does not necessarily represent any reduction of expenses since the news bureaus pay for the press transportation.  It represents, instead, a slap in the face to the free press.

The Trump administration and Tillerson as part of it have chosen to treat the press as the enemy.  They could have caught more flies with honey, but never mind. As Roseanne Rosannadanna might have said, Mr. Tillerson, you sound like a real attractive guy.  Truth is, when you have a name that sounds like it came out of an “Archie” comic book, you really needed all the help you could have gotten, and beggars cannot be choosers.

 

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You can’t make this stuff up. Look who was over Trump’s shoulder as he greeted the first visitors to tour the White House since his installation.  The ultimate photobomb!

Hillary haunts Trump as he surprises first White House tour group

He can’t get her off his back.

President Trump surprised the first group of visitors to tour the White House since his inauguration — but looming over his right shoulder was a portrait of his former nemesis, Hillary Clinton.

Read more and see video >>>>

Oh, yes! We are watching!

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