Category Archives: Uncategorized

allah doesn’t play dice

At CNN, Imagining an Absurd Iran-Daesh Alliance
Jim Naureckas, FAIR, May 19 2017

Pro-torture legal scholar Alan Dershowitz was on CNN Anderson Cooper 360 the other night (5/17/17) arguing that the person who told the WaPo that Donald Trump had disclosed classified information about Daesh to Russian visitors in the Oval Office was “a felon, a criminal and should go to jail.” After former Obama strategist demurred that publishing leaks was sometimes in the public interest, Dershowitz replied:

I have no problem with the WaPo publishing it or the NYT publishing it. I do have problems with the people who work for the national security agencies leaking confidential information that may cost lives, may make it much more difficult to detect laptops. Remember, the only way Daesh got this information is through the leak.

CNNDershowitz-e1495222991776Alan Dershowitz denounces Trump whistleblower as “a felon, a criminal.” (5/17/17)

Anderson Cooper took issue with this last claim, insisting:

You can’t say definitively what Russia would have done with the information!

To which Dershowitz replied, accurately enough:

They’re not giving it to Daesh! They’re not on talking terms!

Axelrod chimed in:

What about Iran? Professor, what about Iran? Assad has certainly done things which are actually helpful to Daesh in Syria. It’s not as if Assad is fighting a war against Daesh.

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin attempted to clarify:

David is saying he’s allied with Iran.

It’s not clear whether the “he” in question was Assad or Putin. Leading to this finale of the discussion:

DERSHOWITZ: That’s very speculative!
COOPER: Oh, we just don’t know!
DERSHOWITZ: We know the first public disclosure of it came from the leaks from within the national security agencies, and those leaks should be plugged.

CNNAndersonCooperAnderson Cooper suggests that Russia would give secret intelligence to Daesh. (5/17/17)

We do know, contra Cooper’s assertion, that Assad is fighting a war against Daesh, along with a variety of other rebel factions. As Newsweek (5/5/17) reported earlier this month:

With support from Russia, Iran and pro-government militias, the Syrian military has secured most of the country’s population centers taken over by insurgents and Daesh earlier throughout the nation’s six-year war. After retaking the former rebel bastion of Aleppo in December, Syrian troops and their allies ousted Daesh from the historic city of Palmyra earlier this year. Assad’s forces pushed further Thursday, capturing four areas from the Jihadis in Palmyra’s south-eastern countryside, according to pro-government al-Masdar News. The SAA is aiming to relieve an enclave of fellow soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians under siege since 2014 in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour by Daesh.

ReutersISISMass videotaped executions of Syrian soldiers by Daesh. (8/28/14)

Axelrod’s suggestion that Iran might be sharing intelligence with Daesh is absurd. Daesh’s stance toward Shia Islam is openly genocidal: “Shi’a have no medicine but the sword,” an ISIS video proclaimed, showcasing Shi’a decapitated by Daesh militants (3/20/14). The Iranian government is predictably hostile toward a movement that would exterminate 90% of its citizens. Gen Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Quds Force, called Daesh “a plague and a grave catastrophe in the world” in explaining why Iran was supporting the government in Syria’s civil war (3/8/15):

We need to quarantine our borders and aid our neighbors so this cancer does not spread to our country.

Donald Trump was rightly scorned when he gave a foreign policy speech which seemed to not understand the Shia/Sunni division in the Muslim world. The NYT editorial board (8/16/16) lectured him:

Lumping Iran, which is a Shi’ite nation, with the Sunni militants of Daesh and AQ makes no sense. In fact, Iran and the Sunni groups are enemies.

Indeed, it’s the kind of thing you’d want a presidential candidate to know. But it’s also something you’d hope that hosts and leading analysts on national cable news networks would understand as well. Dershowitz’s proposal to put journalists’ sources in prison deserves a better retort than this geopolitical nonsense.

Trump’s speech in Riyadh signals escalation against Iran
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, May 22 2017

Riddled with hypocrisy, clichés and absurdities, Pres Trump’s speech Sunday before an assembly of monarchs and despots chez Toads spelled out an agenda of escalating militarism throughout the Middle East and a buildup in particular toward war with Iran. Hailed by a fawning MSM as “presidential,” supposedly eclipsing for the moment the crises and factional struggles engulfing the administration, the speech was reportedly drafted by Stephen Miller, the extreme right-wing ideologue credited with being the chief architect of Trump’s abortive executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering Pindostan. Much in Trump’s half-hour address echoed the speech delivered by Obama in Cairo eight years earlier. Both presidents declared their desire to reset relations with the Middle East, while absurdly posturing as leaders of a pacifist nation seeking only good for the region and offering to head up a united struggle against “violent extremism.” In what was meant as a rhetorical invocation to action against terrorism, Trump told his audience:

Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship! Drive them out of your communities! Drive them out of your holy land! And drive them out of this earth!

Like Obama before him, Trump had no interest in dealing with who brought AQ and similar forces in, as the historical trail leads directly to the CIA in Afghanistan, and Pindostan’s long-standing support for right-wing Islamist organizations and terrorist groups as a counterweight to left nationalist and socialist influence in the Arab and Islamic world. Jointly, the Pindos & the Toads continue to fund and arm such forces in their drive for regime change in Syria. Both speeches were laced with flowery tributes to Islamic culture. Trump noted in particular how impressed he was with “splendour” chez Toads and the “grandeur” of the palace in which the so-called Arab Islamic Pindosi Summit had been convened. What separated the two addresses were the different shifts in strategy by Faschingstein. While Obama sought to repair the damage done by the Bush administration’s criminal war in Iraq, Trump wanted to make clear his administration’s break with Obama’s policy of seeking a rapprochement with Iran based on the 2015 nuclear deal. He adopted an openly confrontational stance toward Tehran, proclaiming in what stood out as the most blatant of the many lies in his brief address:

Above all, Pindostan seeks peace, not war!

The reality is that Pindo wars in the region have killed millions over the past decade and a half. And the thrust of Trump’s visit to the Toads, his first stop in a nine-day foreign tour, is the preparation for new and even bloodier conflicts. This was made plain by the principal agreements forged between Trump and the Toads, which included a $110b arms deal that incorporates the option to purchase $350b worth of weapons over the next 10 years. Tillerson told reporters in Riyadh:

This agreement supports the long-term security of the Toads and the entire Gulf region, in particular in the face of the malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Toad borders on all sides.

In his speech, Trump painted Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism, accusing Tehran of providing terrorists with “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment … (stoking) the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” charges that could be leveled with justification against the Toads. He portrayed his cruise missile attack on Syria last month, followed just last week by his bombing of a pro-government militia in the south-eastern part of the country, as part of a wider struggle against Iranian influence. He went on to call upon “all nations of conscience” to “isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.” That he was speaking chez the Toads, a brutally repressive absolute monarchy, just two days after more than 70% of Iranian voters participated in a sharply-contested election, did nothing to blunt Trump’s call for regime change. He specifically praised the Toads and their vassals for having “taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen.” The near-genocidal Toad war has killed some 12,000 Yemenis, while destroying basic infrastructure in the Arab world’s poorest country, leaving over 7 million people on the brink of starvation and unleashing a cholera epidemic that threatens a massive death toll. In March, Mad Dog Mattis issued a memo calling for stepped-up support for this criminal war, in which the Pentagon is already supplying intelligence and logistical backing to the Toads. Part of the weapons deal signed by Trump involves the shipment of precision-guided munitions that had been cut off in a highly-limited gesture of disapproval of Toad tactics in Yemen by the Obama administration, which itself concluded over $100b worth of weapons deals with Riyadh. Also included in the new deal are tanks, artillery, helicopters and other weaponry that can be directly funneled into the slaughter in Yemen.

In addition to his speech and the signing of arms and investment deals, Trump participated in a meeting of the GCC, the Toad-led coalition of Gulf oil sheikhdoms. Trump administration officials have raised the objective of using the GCC as the foundation of a Sunni Arab version of NATO directed at military confrontation with Iran. Beyond the drive to militarily confront Iran, a principal regional rival to Pindo imperialism in the Middle East, and the huge profits that Toad arms purchases reap for the Pindo military industrial complex, there are broader strategic considerations in the Pindo turn toward a closer alliance with Riyadh. Some of these issues were outlined on the eve of Trump’s trip in a piece published by CSIS and authored by Anthony Cordesman. First among them is “the continued level of Pindo dependence on Toad help in securing the stable flow of Gulf oil.” While Pindo imports from the Gulf have fallen sharply over the past quarter century, Cordesman cites “indirect dependence” in terms of the impact a disruption in oil exports would have on global energy prices and the world capitalist economy. In particular, he points to the dependence of Asian economies on Gulf petroleum exports. Cordesman continues:

If we fail in providing power projection forces and arms to the region, China may fill the void. China may not yet be ready to try to assume the role, but the entire South China Sea crisis would pale to near insignificance if China became the de facto guarantor of Gulf stability. The real-world nature of Pindo influence and power in the Pacific would be cut massively, China’s leverage over other major Asian economies like Japan and South Korea would be sharply increased, and the potential rise in tension between China and India, and cut in India’s relative position, would have a massive impact on the balance of power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.

In other words, the turn toward closer relations with the Toads and the related Gulf oil sheikdoms is bound up with Pindo imperialism’s mounting conflict with China, which it has identified as the principal challenge to the drive for Pindo global hegemony. Faschingstein is determined to dominate Asia, including China, by maintaining the military power to choke off the region’s energy imports. The fact that the sclerotic Toads, among the world’s last absolute monarchs, have become a lynchpin of Faschingstein’s imperialist strategy, not only in the Middle East but globally, is a measure of the crisis of Pindo & world capitalism. Oil revenues, which account for fully 90% of the KSA’s export earnings, have been cut nearly in half since 2014. Last month, the government was forced to reverse itself on austerity measures that hit the military and public employees, over fear that declining living standards and rising unemployment are creating the conditions for social revolt. In the predominantly Shi’a Eastern Province, the center of the KSA’s oil production, security forces laid siege to the town of Awamiyah, a center of resistance to the regime, during the week preceding Trump’s visit. Combined with the failure of the Toad bid to topple the Assad regime in Syria by supporting AQ-linked militias and the regime’s inability to retake Yemen from the Houthis, the deepening domestic crisis is creating the conditions for revolutionary upheavals against Faschingstein’s principal ally in the Arab world.

yid blackmail war slackens momentarily after requisite warmongering from trump

Media to Trump: Don’t Cozy Up to Dictators Unless They’re the Right Dictators
Adam Johnson, FAIR, May 17 2017

After a series of friendly gestures by Pres Trump toward Filipino Pres Duterte and Egypt’s Pres Sisi over the past few months, Pindo media have recoiled with disgust at the open embrace of governments that ostensibly had heretofore been beyond the pale. The NYT‘s editorial position was that Trump was “Enabling Egypt’s Sisi, an Enemy of Human Rights,” (4/4/17), followed by “Donald Trump Embraces Another Despot” (5/1/17).

NYTTrumpDespot

A week later, Walnuts McCain lectured Rex Tillerson on the NYT op-ed page (5/8/17) on “Why We Must Support Human Rights.” WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum’s lament in the WaPo was entitled “How Trump Makes Dictators Stronger” (5/1/17). An upset Philip Rucker reported in the WaPo: “Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates.” (5/2/17). WaPo cartoonist Tom Toles added “Trump invites ruthless dictators to the White House.” (5/2/17). Trump had gone too far, was the media message, crossing a line with his enthusiastic outreach to brutal tyrants. So the Trump administration’s announcement of a plan for not just a friendly visit chez Toads, scheduled for May 20–21, but also the sale of up to $300b in weapons to the oppressive regime, must have provoked the same outcry from these critics, right? Actually, no. Thus far, the LA Times, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC and CBS haven’t reported on Trump’s massive arms deal with the Toads, much less had a pundit or editorial board condemn it. The Toads’ war on Yemen has killed at least 10,000 civilians, resulted in near-famine conditions for 7 million people and led to a deadly cholera epidemic, all made possible with Pindo weapons and logistical support. Walnuts McCain, whose NYT op-ed was un-ironically shared by dozens of high-status pundits, aggressively backs the Toads’ brutal bombing of Yemen, and has called for increased military support to the absolute monarchy. The NYT hasn’t written an editorial about the Toads since Oct 2016 (10/1/16) when for the second time in a week, the paper defended them against potential lawsuits over their role in the 9/11 attacks. The first of the week’s headlines (09/28/16) was “The Risks of Suing The Toads for 9/11.”

NYTSuingSaudis

When the NYT does speak out on the topic of the Toads, it does so to run interference for their possible connection to international terrorism. Nice words to the wrong dictators unleash a torrent of outrage from our pundit class. Nice words to the right dictators, along with billions in military hardware, which unlike nice words will be used to continue to slaughter residents of a neighboring country and suppress domestic dissent, result in uniform silence. Not a word from Anne Applebaum, no condemnation from Philip Rucker, no moral preening from Walnuts McCain, no sense that any line had been crossed from the NYT editorial board. Pindostan’s warm embrace and arming of the Toads is factored in. It’s bipartisan, and thus not worthy of outrage. While the NYT’s news pages did note the $100b to $300b weapons sale to the Toads, they did so only in passing, in paragraph six of a broader article about Trump’s Middle East trip (5/15/17) though to his credit, reporter Nick Cumming-Bruce did note:

Criticism that Pindostan is supporting Toad military operations that have struck hospitals, schools, markets and mosques and inflicted thousands of civilian casualties.

The WaPo (5/17/17) reported on the arms deal in paragraph 12 of a story about Trump attempting to create an “Arab NATO.” The WaPo’s reporting on the Toads in the run-up to Trump’s visit echoed the “reformist” narrative advanced by WaPo columnist David Ignatius (4/28/17). “It seems promising,” Cairo bureau chief Sudarsan Raghavan (5/12/17) wrote of the Toad King’s “calls” for “reform.” Jackson Diehl (5/14/17) even suggested in earnest that Trump could “lead on human rights,” finishing off his sheepish semi-self-aware headline with “Really.”

WaPoTrumpHumanRights

In the piece, “human rights” is used as a placeholder for getting Pindo citizens out of foreign prisons, which is a perfectly fine suggestion, but more about Pindo rights than human ones. And, like the WaPo’s editorial board and the rest of the opinion section, Diehl’s musing on the topic of human rights entirely omitted Trump’s cozying up with the Toads. This isn’t to say that major Pindo media shouldn’t note when Pindo leaders glad-hand despotic governments. They certainly should. But their almost uniform silence on Trump’s ramping up ties with one of the world’s worst human rights offenders, and the material, physical act of selling them munitions to use on murder Yemeni civilians, speaks to the arbitrary and self-serving nature of Pindo media’s moral posture.

WaPo and NYT urge pullback on calls for Trump impeachment
Patrick Martin, WSWS, May 22 2017

In editorials published simultaneously for their Sunday editions, the NYT and the WaPo called for caution in the anti-Trump campaign they have been spearheading with claims of nefarious connections between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. The NYT editorial cites comparisons between the crisis of the Trump administration and the Watergate scandal of 43 years ago, only to suggest that impeachment or forced resignation is not yet the order of the day. After repeatedly slamming Trump as a stooge of Pres Putin and a threat to Pindo national security, including the publication last week of an editorial with comparisons to Watergate, the NYT now counsels the Demagogs to proceed cautiously and avoid “distraction.” It advises leveraging the official investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, along with the continuing decline in Trump’s poll numbers, to “win back a majority next year in at least one house of Congress.”

The WaPo editorial similarly suggests that the anti-Trump campaign “will require time” for special counsel Robert Mueller and the various House and Senate committees investigating alleged Russian intervention into the 2016 election. The WaPo editorial demands that the Demoagogs “talk about something other than impeachment in the coming weeks,” and that the Thugs “face the task at which they have so far failed: governing responsibly.” The WaPo is more explicit about the social and class policies underlying the campaign over alleged Trump-Russia connections. It demands action on health care to reduce “uncertainty among the insurers upon which the system relies.” In other words, the two big-business parties must contain their mutual mudslinging and get on with the pro-corporate austerity measures demanded by the financial elite. Similarly, Congress must “pass a new budget and raise the debt ceiling.” It must carry through “tax reform,” which means cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations, while making sure that such actions “cannot result in higher deficits.” In other words, tax cuts for the rich must be paid for by slashing social programs for working people. Last but by no means least, the editorial cites concerns about Trump’s foreign policy in relation to North Korea, Syria, Daesh, Iran, Russia and “other hostile powers.”

Neither newspaper attempts to square the intensity of their onslaught against the Trump administration, particularly over the past two weeks, with their current declarations in favor of caution and biding one’s time. The situation could shift quickly, but the editorials from the NYT and WaPo reflect a broader pullback from immediate calls for impeachment and references to Watergate from within the media and political establishment. In recent days, prominent congressional Demagogs such as Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have called talk of impeachment premature. These developments underscore the fact that there is no progressive content to the opposition to Trump from within the political establishment and the capitalist state. The Demagog Party and the media are not troubled at having a fascist-minded president and an administration packed with corporate CEOs and generals dedicated to waging war, tearing up social programs and organizing a further redistribution of wealth to the rich. On such matters, there is far more that unites the ruling class than divides it. What are the considerations driving the warnings about proceeding too rashly on the question of impeachment?

  1. Tthe central concern of Trump’s opponents within the ruling class since his inauguration has always been to force a shift in policy, particularly foreign policy. On the war in Syria, the maintenance of the NATO alliance, and above all aggression toward Russia, Trump was deemed to be not on message by the dominant factions of the military and intelligence apparatus. The president has already sought to appease such concerns by ordering a missile strike on Syria, followed last week by a bombing raid on a pro-Syrian government militia and approval of a Pentagon plan to escalate intervention in Syria, Iraq and North Africa. There are related concerns that a perpetual crisis at the center of the Pindosi state and a protracted impeachment process pose a threat to the international standing of Pindostan and the overall interests of Pindo imperialism.
  2. There are the concerns outlined by the WaPo that a full-scale impeachment crisis will derail the administration’s program of corporate tax cuts, deregulation and the gutting of social programs upon which Wall Street has been banking and is determined to see pushed through. This was the message sent by the financial markets in last week’s huge one-day sell-off. That the message was received was indicated by the announcement the same day of the appointment of a special counsel to take the political faction fight in hand.
  3. There are fears that a full-scale constitutional crisis and fratricidal struggle within the ruling class can create an opening for an independent intervention by the working class. Under conditions of mass disaffection from both political parties, rising social anger and a general discrediting of all official institutions of power, the destabilization of the political system has potentially revolutionary implications.

The appointment of Mueller, who headed the FBI for 12 years, under both Bush and Obama, puts the Trump administration under the effective receivership of the intelligence agencies, with the constant threat that if he steps too far out of line, he could quickly be faced with criminal charges. References to the formation of some sort of caretaker regime have begun appearing in the press. A WaPo op-ed by Dana Millbank devoted to celebrating the anti-Russian campaign as a heroic journalistic exploit, while acknowledging that it was made possible by systematic leaking from the military-intelligence apparatus, concludes by describing Mueller as “a regent, if you will, to protect against future abuses.” All of this underscores the completely reactionary character of both factions of the ruling class, whatever turn the crisis might take in the days and weeks to come. It demonstrates the political dead-end of subordinating the struggle against the Trump administration to the Demagogs, whose opposition to Trump is entirely different from and hostile to the concerns and interests of millions of workers. They must intervene on the basis of their own socialist program and perspective.

qatar supports the MBs, as opposed to the toads who support the salafis

Qatar claims it is victim of terror smear campaign
AFP, May 20 2017

DOHA – Qatar said Saturday it was the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign in sections of the media over its alleged support for terrorism, a claim Doha denounced as a lie. In a strongly worded government statement, Qatar said it had been deliberately targeted ahead of Pres Trump’s visit to the region, which began Saturday. The statement read:

In the run-up to Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East, an orchestrated barrage of opinion pieces by anti-Qatar organisations in a variety of mainstream and online publications has alleged that Qatar is sympathetic to, or turns a blind eye toward the actions of terrorist groups in the Middle East. This is absolutely and unequivocally false. The allegation that Qatar supports terrorism is a lie. One day, those responsible for this campaign may be unmasked. When that happens we will, perhaps, learn the true motive behind their efforts to damage Qatar’s good name.

Doha has long faced accusations that it is a state sponsor of terror. It has faced criticism in some quarters for its support of Syrian rebel groups. Qatari individuals have also been sanctioned by the Pindo Treasury for terror funding activities. In recent weeks, Qatar has been accused outright of terror funding in articles which have appeared in the Pindo media.

they got strabismus, dig the abysmus

NATO chief in talks with Germany, Turkey over air base spat
AP, May 21 2017

BERLIN — The chief of NATO says he’s in touch with both Germany and Turkey regarding their latest dispute over visiting rights to a Turkish air base where German soldiers are stationed. Sec-Gen Stoltenberg told Das Bild on Sunday he’s focused on finding a solution and won’t speculate over hypothetical questions, including a possible withdrawal of German troops from the Incirlik air base. The German government said last week it was considering withdrawing the soldiers from Turkey. Turkey recently blocked a request for members of the German Bundestag to visit the 270 soldiers at the Incirlik air base. The moved raised the possibility that Germany might relocate planes supporting the current phony GWOT. Stoltenberg says he regrets the quarrel between the two NATO partners. A similar standoff between Germany and Turkey over access to German troops at the base happened last year.

i got a tracheotomy, check the dichotomy

Blackstone & the Toads to invest $40b in Pindo infrastructure
AFP, May 20 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – Pindo asset management giant Blackstone and the main Toad sovereign wealth fund announced Saturday they are launching a $40b investment vehicle to finance infrastructure renovation in Pindostan. The announcement comes as Pres Trump, who has promised to invest $1t in a major infrastructure plan in Pindostan, visits the Toads during his first trip abroad. The Toad Public Investment Fund (PIF) will contribute $20b to the new vehicle, while the remaining $20b will be raised from “other investors,” Blackstone said in a statement without providing details on the time frame. Ultimately, this new fund aims to invest $100b in infrastructure projects, “principally” in Pindostan, according to the release. PIF managing director Yasir al-Rumayyan:

This potential investment reflects our positive views around the ambitious infrastructure initiatives being undertaken in Pindostan as announced by Pres Trump.

Deterioration in Pindo roads, airports, railways and other infrastructure costs each family of Pindo creeples an estimated $3.4k/yr. Blackstone president Hamilton James said:

There is broad agreement that Pindostan urgently needs to invest in its rapidly aging infrastructure.

Trump’s promise of major infrastructure works has yet to get underway, with questions remaining over its financing, as the majority of the Thugs among the current Congress critturs oppose a massive injection of public funds.

one where i can stand with mackey on his well-heeled liberal outrage

Landslide Win for Iran’s Reformists Doesn’t Fit Trump’s Script, So He Ignores It
Robert Mackey, Intercept, May 21 2017

SAUDI-US-DIPLOMACY-TRUMPPhoto: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

The hypocrisy of Pindostan’s support for unelected despots in the oil-rich Gulf states is not new, but Donald Trump’s lavish praise for them on Sunday as allies against “Islamist extremism” and “the oppression of women” was particularly striking, coming one day after Iranian voters danced in the streets to celebrate their reformist president’s landslide re-election.

As Iran’s moderates celebrated on Saturday night, Trump and members of his cabinet were sword-dancing with the Toads.

Speaking in the Toad capital of Riyadh on Sunday, Trump made no mention of the scenes in Iran or of Pres Rouhani, whose diplomatic engagement with the West over Iran’s nuclear program helped to avert the war that certain supposed Pindo vassals in the region, including the Gulf states and Israel, seemed to be still hoping for.

Instead, the Pindo president promised the monarchs and autocrats in the room that he would work with them “to isolate Iran.” He also promised bizarrely “to help our Toad friends to get a good deal” from Pindo arms-makers.

As Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council observed, Trump seemed to be in full agreement with his host, King Salman, who called Iran’s government “the spearhead of global terrorism.”

After the speech, Trump accompanied King Salman, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and other leaders to open a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh.

In meetings with other monarchs earlier on Sunday, Trump assured the King of Bahrain that relations between the two nations would no longer be strained by a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, and said his discussion with the Emir of Qatar would focus on “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.”

As the vote-counting in local elections in Iran continued on Sunday, the contrast between Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy and the partial democracy there became even more stark with the news that moderates had also won sweeping victories in Tehran and other cities.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered a Twitter rebuttal to Trump, suggesting that his support for the Saudi king was driven mainly by the opportunity to sell billions of dollars in American weapons to the kingdom.

In many places, cheers for Rouhani’s victory were accompanied by chants in support of Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, reformist leaders who have been under house arrest since encouraging post-election protests in 2009.

all this reuters’ (yid international) ‘news’ is actually briefing against trump

White House looking at ethics rule to weaken special investigation: sources
Julia Edwards Ainsley, Reuters, May 22 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between his campaign team and Russia, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday. Trump has said that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation “hurts our country terribly.” Within hours of Mueller’s appointment on Wednesday, the White House began reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations, which restricts newly-hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm’s clients for one year after their hiring, the sources said. An executive order signed by Trump in January extended that period to two years. Mueller’s former law firm, Wilmer Hale (what happened to Boggs? – RB), represents Jared Kushner, who met with a Russian bank executive in December, and Paul Manafort, who is a subject of a federal investigation. Legal experts said the ethics rule can be waived by the DoJ, which appointed Mueller. He did not represent Kushner or Manafort directly at his former law firm. If the department did not grant a waiver, Mueller would be barred from investigating Kushner or Manafort, and this could greatly diminish the scope of the probe, experts said.

The DoJ is already reviewing Mueller’s background as well as any potential conflicts of interest, said department spox Sarah Isgur Flores. Even if the DoJ granted a waiver, the White House would consider using the ethics rule to create doubt about Mueller’s ability to do his job fairly, the sources said, and Administration legal advisers have been asked to determine if there is any basis for this. Under this strategy, the sources said, the administration would raise the issue in press conferences and public statements. Moreover, the White House has not ruled out the possibility of using the rule to challenge Mueller’s findings in court, should the investigation lead to prosecution (stupid – RB). But the administration is now mainly focused on placing a cloud over his reputation for independence, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Kathleen Clark, a professor of legal ethics at Washington University School of Law, said the DoJ can grant a waiver if concerns about bias are minimal. She said subjects of the investigation could later argue that its results cannot be trusted, but she believes the argument would not stand up in court. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether it is reviewing the ethics rule in order to undermine Mueller’s credibility. Mueller’s former colleagues at WilmerHale, James Quarles and Aaron Zebley, are expected to join his investigation, according to a spox for the law firm. Neither Quarles nor Zebley represented Kushner or Manafort. Mueller will now lead the ongoing FBI probe into Trump’s associates and senior Russian officials. Unlike Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed by a three-judge panel to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton’s real estate holdings in the 1990s, Mueller depends on the DoJ for funding and he reports to Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump. When he announced Mueller’s appointment this week, Rosenstein said Mueller will have “all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”

At a White House in crisis, Trump looks increasingly isolated
James Oliphant, Reuters, May 20 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – In the Trump White House, it’s getting lonely at the top. His fellow Thugs in Congress are showing signs of going their own way, both on politics and policy, determined to salvage what they can of their agenda on healthcare and tax reform in the wake of one of the most difficult weeks of any Pindo presidency. At the same time, Trump’s failure to fill senior roles at federal agencies means he does not have a cadre of loyalists who can help rein in a bureaucracy that many in Trump’s orbit believe are out to leak information intended to damage the president. That has worsened the isolation of the White House in a city that relies on friends and allies to shake off a crisis. The result is problems on multiple fronts: a government whose bonds with Congress, federal agencies and the public look increasingly fractured; an ambitious but stalled program of reforms; and a president whose low approval ratings threaten his party’s control of Congress in the 2018 mid-term elections. Trump and his beleaguered staff, some White House aides told Reuters, feel besieged by a parade of negative stories and abandoned by fellow Thugs on Capitol Hill, as the furor over the firing of James Comey and allegations that Trump tried to influence the probe into Russian meddling in last year’s election show little sign of abating. Since Tuesday, when leaked excerpts of a purported memo by Comey detailing his conversations with Trump were made public, few Thugs beyond the White House have rushed to the airwaves to push back against suggestions that the president may have obstructed justice in asking Comey to end the probe into the conduct of Michael Flynn. As the Russia probe entered a new phase on Wednesday with the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in the investigation, a move that will likely place the White House under even stronger scrutiny, some Thugs expressed surprise that the White House had not done more to recruit them to backstop the president. Sen James Inhofe was asked by Reuters whether the White House had reached out to him to come to Trump’s defense. He said:

It’s kind of funny. The answer is no. I don’t know anyone else that has been contacted.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Trump left on Friday for his first foreign trip as president. The 10-day trip will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe. The administration has continued to struggle to fill the hundreds of open positions at senior levels of government that remain open, leaving the White House alone to grapple with one challenge after another. For example, the Justice Department still lacks senior officials in place to head up the anti-trust, civil rights, criminal, and civil divisions, as well as the BATFE, according to its website. At the DHS, the chiefs of CBP (Customs and Border Protection), ICE and the TSA have yet to be confirmed. And at the Dept of Education, a sprawling bureaucracy of 4,400 employees with a $68b budget, an official who declined to be identified by name said:

All the key roles except for the secretary remain empty or filled with people in an acting capacity. Nobody knows when or if they will be filled anytime soon.

The department did not respond to a request for comment. Trump has frequently complained that Senate Demagogs have stalled the approval process for his nominees, but the White House has also been slower to send nominees to the Senate than previous administrations and many top State Dept posts also remain vacant. One consequence, say several officials, is that State Dept experts played little role in briefing Trump for his telephone call to Putin or his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, where they say he disclosed highly classified intelligence. State Dept and intelligence officials say that as power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few Trump loyalists in the White House, the roles of professional Foreign Service, intelligence and civil service officers have shrunk compared to past administrations. For instance, said two diplomats, no one from the State Dept attended Trump’s Feb 15 meeting with Netanyahu, a sharp contrast from past administrations which would typically staff such a high-profile meeting with high-level State Dept boxtops. Asked for comment, the State Dept would not address the circumstances of the meeting with the Russian officials in the Oval Office, but did speak to the efforts involving Netanyahu and the Middle East. Their spox said:

As the president has repeatedly noted, Middle East peace is a top priority for this administration. This is an effort supported by both the White House and the State Dept. Claims that the State Dept has not been involved have no basis in facts.

Overall, more than 500 of the 557 federal government positions requiring Senate confirmation remain vacant. Only 33 nominees have been confirmed, and only 57 other positions now have a nominee. A lack of communication from the White House left many Thug critturs on Capitol Hill frustrated as a sense of crisis mushroomed over the past week. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own Russia probe, publicly complained about the situation. Tuesday morning, after news broke the previous evening that Trump had shared classified information with Russian boxtops, Burr said he couldn’t get through to the White House, as the story lit up television news programs and buzzed online. “Maybe they’re busy,” he said sarcastically. Some Thugs said the constant focus on responding to allegations concerning the Russia probe was draining their caucus of focus and energy to push through their agenda. Absent guidance, Thug staff members in Congress were beginning to devise their own strategy about how to respond to the gusher of bad news, one aide told Reuters. And at the White House, with lines of communication to Congress seemingly frayed at times, a narrowing circle of people has come to the president’s defense, as senior staff grapple not only with the cascade of revelations but with a president who at times contradicts on Twitter their talking points. One White House aide who we just invented said:

Everyone is just tired!

Trump’s FBI comments to Russians were aimed at cooperation: aides
Ginger Gibson, Julia Harte, Reuters, May 21 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – Pres Trump raised the firing of the FBI director in a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister to explain why he had been unable to find areas of cooperation with Moscow, two top administration officials said on Sunday. McMaster said on ABC This Week:

The gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news.

On Fox News Sunday Rex Tillerson said Trump was also trying to convey to the Russians that he was “not going to be distracted by all these issues at home that affect us domestically.” Tillerson and McMaster were present at the May 10 meeting where Trump discussed his firing of James Comey with Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Kislyak. The NYT, citing officials familiar with an internal White House summary of the meeting, reported that Trump referred to Comey as a “nut job” and said his removal would relieve “great pressure” coming from the agency’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Lavrov denied that the subject of Comey came up during the meeting, according to Interfax. Pres Putin had offered to provide Congress with transcripts of the same meeting to counter reports that Trump also disclosed classified information to Lavrov about a planned Daesh operation. However, neither McMaster nor Tillerson on Sunday disputed that the subject of Comey’s dismissal came up in the meeting. Both said that Trump’s remarks had been misinterpreted. Two sources told Reuters on Friday the administration was exploring whether it could use an obscure ethics rule to undermine Mueller’s investigation. In response, Pelosi said on Saturday she would introduce legislation aimed at protecting Mueller’s probe. Congress critturs of both sexual persuasions have expressed varying degrees of concern about ties between the Trump administration and Russia and the president’s handling of the matter. Walnuts McCain of Arizona told Fox News Sunday he was left “speechless” by reports of Trump’s remarks about Comey in the May 10 meeting. McCain said the president should never have met with the Russian officials in the first place, and added:

I don’t know how to read it except that, I’m almost speechless because I don’t know why someone would say something like that.

Thug Rep Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said on ABC This Week he was trying to obtain notes from the meeting and expected to speak to Comey on Monday. On the same program, Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House panel, called on Chaffetz to subpoena the White House for documents related to the committee’s probe into Comey’s firing. Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also examining Russia’s role in the election and possible ties to Trump’s campaign, in two weeks. Senator Marco Rubio told CNN State of the Union on Sunday he would ask Comey whether he ever felt pressured to not do his job. Rubio said:

If any president tries to impede an investigation, any president, no matter who it is, by interfering with the FBI, yes! That would be problematic! That would be not just problematic! It would be obviously a potential obstruction of justice that people have to make a decision on!

Rubio emphasized that he will reserve judgment until he has seen all the evidence and heard from sources, including Comey.

giraldi does not appear to know that the source of the SAP HUMINT was jordanian intelligence, not israeli

The Real Meaning of ‘Sensitive’ Intelligence
Philip Giraldi, AmConMag, May 16 2017

Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media. For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word “sensitive” as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James Clapper during committee testimony into Russiagate. “Sensitive” has, of course, a number of meanings. But what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as “sensitive contacts” meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal. When Yates and Clapper were using “sensitive” thirteen times in the 86-page transcript of the Senate hearings, they were referring to the medium rather than the message. They were both acknowledging that the sources of the information were intelligence related, sometimes referred to as “sensitive” by intelligence professionals and government insiders as a shorthand way to describe that they are “need to know” material derived from either classified “methods” or foreign-liaison partners. That does not mean that the information contained is either good or bad or even true or false, but merely a way of expressing that the information must be protected because of where it came from or how it was developed, hence the “sensitivity.” The word also popped up this week in a WaPo exclusive report alleging that the president had, in his recent meeting with Sergei Lavrov, gone too far while also suggesting that the source of a highly classified government program might be inferred from the context of what was actually revealed. The WaPo describes:

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a Pindosi partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the Pindosi government, boxtops said. The partner had not given Pindostan permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of Daesh.

The WaPo is unfortunately also providing Daesh with more information than it “needs to know” to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. Furthermore, it should be understood that the paper is extremely hostile to Trump, the story is as always based on anonymous sources, and the revelation comes on top of another unverifiable WaPo article claiming that the Russians might have sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during the visit. No one is denying that the president discussed Daesh in some detail with Lavrov, but McMaster and Tillerson, both of whom were present at the meeting, have denied that any sources or methods were revealed while reviewing with the Russians available intelligence. McMaster described the report as “false” and informed the WaPo:

The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.

Tillerson commented:

The nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations.

So the question becomes to what extent can an intelligence mechanism be identified from the information that it produces. That is to a certain extent a judgement call. The president is able on his own authority to declassify anything, so the legality of his sharing information with Russia cannot be challenged. What is at question is the decision-making by an inexperienced president who may have been showing off to an important foreign visitor by revealing details of intelligence that should have remained secret. The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode. The media is claiming that the specific discussion with Lavrov that is causing particular concern is related to a so-called Special Access Program, or SAP, sometimes referred to as “code word information.” An SAP is an operation that generates intelligence that requires special protection because of where or how it is produced. In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump’s characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting. There have also been reports that the White House followed up on its Lavrov meeting with a routine review of what had taken place. Several NSC members observed that some of the information shared with the Russians was far too sensitive to disseminate within the Pindosi intelligence community. This led to the placing of urgent calls to NSA and CIA to brief them on what had been said.

Based on the recipients of the calls alone, one might surmise that the source of the information would appear to be either a foreign intelligence service or a technical collection operation, or even both combined. The WaPo claims that the originator of the intelligence did not clear its sharing with the Russians, and raises the possibility that no more information of that type will be provided at all in light of the White House’s apparent carelessness in its use. The NYT, in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on Daesh did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel. The NYT is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov “granular” information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or (illicit and nonsensical suggestion – RB) Daesh to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences. That projection may be overreach (sic – RB), but the fact is that the latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East while reinforcing the widely held impression that Washington does not know how to keep a secret. It will also create the impression that Donald Trump, out of ignorance or hubris, exhibits a certain recklessness in his dealing with classified information, a failing that he once attributed to his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton. And Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his NSC.

just for the laffs..

Cali Demagog Chair Urges Crowd “All Together Now, Fuck Donald Trump!”
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, May 21 2017

Once again the left exposes itself as the “do as we say, not as we do” party of tolerance, non-violent protest, and free speech. As Gateway Pundit’s Cristina Laila reports, the classless Demagogs gathered in Sacramento for a state convention on Saturday. They had some harsh words for the President as they chanted, ‘Fuck Donald Trump!’ AP reports:

California’s elected Demagogs had tough words for President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress on Saturday, urging their party’s fired-up activists to work against the 14 Thugs in the state’s congressional delegation. The party’s leaders blasted Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and presented California as the epicenter of liberal resistance to the president. Lt-Gov Gavin Newsom, who is among a crowded field of Demagogs running for governor next year, said: “The world, literally the world, is counting on all of you, counting on California to reject Trump’s deception and destructiveness,” said. Kamala Harris, often mentioned as a potential candidate for president in 2020, accused Trump of putting “Russia first and Pindostan second.” In a sign of the vigor of the party’s distaste for the president, outgoing party Chair John Burton, a long-time Demagogic congress-crittur and power-broker known for his blunt and profane manner, extended two middle fingers in the air and said: “Fuck Donald Trump!” The crowd cheered and joined him.

Video of crowd with middle fingers in the air after outgoing chair John Burton screams: ‘Fuck Donald Trump!’

Video of Burton telling protesters: ‘Shut the fuck up!’

This is the Demagog party, folks … what a bunch of classless lowlifes …

More F-bombs from John Burton … (language warning)

the donald’s chrome-plated megaphone of destiny meets with little response