The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

Guilty As Charged!!!

The ultimate betrayal …

Donald Trump is now, in my book, if not officially, guilty of genocide.  He was already guilty of treason, having conspired with a foreign nation not one, but twice, in order to influence a U.S. election and to benefit himself, thereby putting our nation in grave danger.  And now he is guilty of the likely murders of potentially thousands of Kurds … Kurds who have long been our allies!  There are estimated to be between 1.4 million and 2.7 million Kurdish people — human beings — in Syria whose lives, thanks to Donald F. Trump, are now in jeopardy, as Turkey begins to implement its plan for a ground invasion of northern Syria.

What happened?  Trump had a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.  We all know these days about Trump’s phone calls to foreign leaders, right?  Whether or not he asked Erdoğan to help dig up dirt on his political opponents is not known, but what is known is what he promised Erdoğan.  Very soon after the Monday morning phone call, the United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.  Erdoğan has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to kill the Kurds, and the only thing standing in his way were U.S. troops in northern Syria.  Trump promised to step aside and let Erdoğan have at it.  The Kurds are … were … our allies, people!!!  Great friends we have proven to be, yes?  What next, Donnie?  You gonna bomb the UK?  Perhaps you’d like to send troops to overthrow the government of Germany?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Not only did he betray an ally in the most horrific of ways, but he proved to the world, as if they didn’t already know, just how utterly stupid he is.  Take, for example, this tweet …

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

First … what sort of bloomin’ eejit claims to have “great and unmatched wisdom”???  I really, really had to hold onto my hands to keep from throwing something when I read that.  And second, he has never obliterated the “Economy of Turkey”, unless he’s talking of the kind that make their way to the dining table on Thanksgiving!

One journalist, Richard Engel of NBC News, commented …

“’I, in my great and unmatched wisdom …?’  Who talks or writes like this?  The closest I can come up with was Qaddafi. Not Mubarak. Or Ben Ali. Or Assad, let alone any European leader.  Really can’t remember a current or recent example.”

Qaddafi.  Trump.  Two peas in a pod?

Surprisingly, even his republican cronies were aghast at his decision to stab our allies in the back.  EVEN MITCH MCCONNELL split with Trump on this issue, saying …

“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania rang in with …

“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”

The bottom line is that Trump has made a disastrous decision on an issue of which he has zero understanding.  He does not have great and unmatched wisdom – he has the wisdom of a five-year-old.  He does not understand the Middle East at all.  And worst of all, he is once again pandering to an autocrat, just as he has in the past to Putin, Kim, Bolsonaro and others.  His actions yesterday will have dire consequences, at the very least for our allies, the Kurds, and quite possibly for the entire globe.

And speaking of betrayal …

Now, transitioning to another story here, Lindsey Graham, that ignoble Senator from South Carolina, also spoke against Trump’s foolhardiness in pulling our troops out of Syria at this moment, saying …

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible — America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision. It is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

Strong words for a republican senator, eh?  Taking the right side for once in his life, yes?  But wait … Senator Graham had something else to say on another topic …

Lindsey-Graham-2“Here’s what’s going to happen: if the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined. If that doesn’t happen in the House, I’ll make sure it happens in the Senate.”

This … this essentially amounts to signing a death warrant for the whistleblowers and would ensure that nobody … nobody … would ever again come forward with the sort of information that our government officials may be attempting to bury to suit their own purposes.

There are laws that protect those people who come forward with information that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization.  Is Lindsey Graham planning to break those laws?  Does he see himself, as Trump sees himself, as being above the law?  And, is this a threat that he hopes will keep the House from following through with the impeachment proceedings?  Impeachment proceedings that, I might add, are long overdue.

It seems to me that there are a heck of a lot of people within the Republican Party who wish to break down the very foundations of our government, and they don’t care how they do it.  Now, admittedly there are some less-than-stellar people in the Democratic Party as well, but … today, the republicans win the honour of being the biggest jackasses in the nation.


Note to readers:  Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘The Brexit Conundrum’ where we will hear Colette’s views at 3:00 p.m. EDT, 8:00 p.m. BST.

Executive Power …

More than a few times over the past year or so, people have tried to assure me that there are limits to what Trump can do, that the Constitution, Congress, and the Courts will stop him from going too far, and all will be well.  It is true that the Constitution defines and limits the power of the office of president … except in certain circumstances.  And Congress has a large degree of control … if they can agree to agree on anything and if the issue at hand cannot be done by executive order.  And the Courts can intervene … but there are levels within the court system leading up to the Supreme Court – the one that Trump is stacking with his and the Federalist Society’s hand-picked justices.

On a Friday afternoon in July 2016, a faction of the Turkish military launched a coup attempt allegedly aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.  Although Turkey is considered a democracy and Erdoğan was democratically elected, he was and is clearly a threat to Turkish democracy and secularism.  As leader of the AKP Islamist party, Erdoğan had ‘reformed’ Turkish schools along Islamist lines, cracked down on freedom of the press, and pushed constitutional changes that would consolidate dangerous amounts of power in the president’s hands.

It has been my belief since the beginning that Erdoğan himself played a leading role in staging the coup.  If so, to what end?  To give him the justification to declare a ‘state of emergency’ that would increase the powers of his office.  As part of the state of emergency, Turkey temporarily suspended part of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The initial state of emergency was for three months, but in October 2016, it was extended to be for a year, and the following year it was again extended, and was only lifted in July 2018, after new elections that gave Erdoğan greatly expanded powers.  During that time, there was an extensive purge of the Turkish civil service employees, with more than 45,000 military officials, police officers, judges, governors, and civil servants arrested or suspended, including 2,700 judges, 15,000 teachers, and every university dean in the country.  Turkish authorities said the crackdown was meant to “suppress dissent”.  journalists-TurkeyAccording to Amnesty International, detainees in Turkey have been denied access to legal counsel, have been beaten and tortured, and have not been provided with adequate food, water, or medical care.

Now tuck into the back of your mind for a bit the fact that Donald Trump made the decision, without consulting Congress, without consulting his military and foreign affairs advisors, without consulting our allies, to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria based on a telephone conversation with Erdoğan.  Consider how much Trump admires those ‘strong-arm’ leaders such as Erdoğan, Putin, and even the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte.  Ever since he took office, Trump has chafed against the constraints of the office, believing that as president his powers ought to be unlimited.

Fast forward … it is rumoured that Robert Mueller will complete his investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, and the Trump family/campaign role in such interference around mid-February.  While that is strictly rumour at this point, the timing makes sense.  What do you think will happen if, as I firmly believe, Mueller has evidence that Trump’s family with Trump’s knowledge, and perhaps even Trump himself were involved in underhanded dealings to influence the outcome of the election? Trump-angry What if it is proven that Trump broke the trust of his office?  No doubt impeachment proceedings would begin in the democratic-majority House of Representatives.  Given what we know about Trump and his erratic temperament, what is your best guess about his reaction?  Think he’ll just sit down and shut up?  Yeah, right.  If you believe that, please contact me, for I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll sell you dirt-cheap.

Fast forward even more … the year is 2020 and the election for which Trump has been campaigning for four years is rapidly approaching.  And yet … Trump is not winning any popularity contests … his temper tantrums are no longer playing well among his masses, in light of the financial recession caused largely by his tariffs and by the chaos he wrought at the end of 2018 by shutting the government down needlessly while demanding billions of dollars for his ignominious border wall.  Trump is not being supported by the majority of the GOP in Congress, and the Republican Party is lukewarm about his re-election bid, at best.  trump-tantrumThink he’s going to just put his nose to the grindstone, do the best job he can while trying to win over the masses with his honesty and integrity?  Again … see above comment about my bridge.

Not quite two years into his term of office, Donald Trump has signed …

  • 86 Executive orders
  • 42 Presidential memoranda
  • 12 Presidential determinations
  • 01 Administrative order
  • 22 Presidential notices
  • 01 Presidential sequestration order
  • 07 National security presidential memoranda
Trump-sign-bill

Can’t you just hear him saying, “nyah nyah nyah nyah-nyah”?

None of these required the advice and consent of Congress.  Many were to overturn regulations that were in place to safeguard our health and safety.  Others were simply to exert his power.  None, as far as I can tell, were in our collective best interest.

Back now to 2019 when impeachment is looming, or 2020 when an election looms large.  What does Trump do?  Does he follow the example of his buddy Erdoğan and create a diversion that will allow him to declare a ‘state of emergency’?  Oh yes, he most certainly can do that, and with little or no reason.  The decision to declare a ‘state of emergency’ is entirely within his discretion, and it makes more than 100 ‘special provisions’ available to him.  The framers of the Constitution never in their wildest dreams imagined a Donald Trump, never believed the nation would need to be protected from its own leader.

What, then, could happen if, say to detract from impeachment proceedings, Trump declared a state of emergency?  Worst case scenario, he could shut down electronic communications.  He could freeze the bank accounts of those he believed to be subversive.  He could disperse troops within the country to subdue domestic unrest, ie., legitimate protests.  And the list goes on.state-of-emergencyIt is not my intent to fear-monger … I don’t play Trump’s games.  It is, however, my intent to proclaim that the time is now to rein in this president.  Now, before it becomes impossible, is the time to set limits on the ‘executive authority’ that the Founding Fathers never thought would be necessary.  When the 116th Congress is seated next Thursday, one of the first orders of business, besides getting the government open without giving in on “the wall”, should be to set limits on what the president can and cannot do without the consent of Congress.

Personally, I would like to see strict guidelines for declaring a state of emergency, and a very narrow interpretation of what he can or cannot do under such a state.  He must not be allowed to shut down the internet, the only means many of us have of getting news of national and world events.  He must not be allowed to stifle the freedom of the press or our First Amendment rights of free speech.

There have been situations before where a president overstepped the reasonable limits of his power and Congress or the Courts stepped in, such as the Youngstown Steel case in 1952 where President Truman attempted to take over the steel plants, but the Supreme Court said, “no”.  But with Donald Trump the bully in office, I don’t think we can assume that he would be easily stopped from assuming far greater power than he should have, and it would behoove us to put restraints in place before they are needed rather than wait until it is too late.

US President Calls To Congratulate Russia’s President Putin On Winning His Recent Election

It says much when the leader of a purportedly free and democratic nation panders to a despot who “won” a rigged election … an election where his only real competition was jailed on a rigged charge and voters were intimidated. It shows us what Trump’s aspirations truly are. Please take a few minutes to read Gronda’s excellent post about Trump’s call to ‘congratulate’ a dictator on ‘winning’ a rigged election, for it is important for us to understand exactly what Trump aspires to. Thank you, Gronda, for this post and for permission to share!

Gronda Morin

As far as I’m concerned, the following scenario confirms my past assertions that the republican President Donald Trump is acting like the poster child of a Russian asset as he resides in the White House. This is just case in point. Despite all the president’s aides advising the president not to contact President Putin to congratulate him in winning a recent election where he couldn’t lose, he did just that.

This report is the result of a leak which has staffers in the White House fuming. The good news is someone risked his/ her job to make this story public.

Here’s the rest of the story…

On March 21, 2018, Carol D. Leonnig, David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey of Washington Post penned the following report, “Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway.”

Excerpts:

“President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his…

View original post 1,130 more words

Dark Cloud Over Turkey

The people of Turkey decided yesterday, 16 April, that they no longer wished to live in a democracy, and they voted to place more power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.  Or did they? There is some dispute, since apparently the voting verification process of stamping ballots was skipped by officials on some 60% of ballots.  In some countries, this would be enough to make the voting null and void, and a new vote would be scheduled.  But Turkish officials have announced that they will accept the unstamped ballots as valid unless voter fraud can be proven.

The changes called for in the referendum would transform Turkey’s government from a democracy, though that term has been questionable for nearly a year now, to a near-autocracy.  To recap, as I wrote last month, the referendum would enable Erdoğan to make all government appointments, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and stay in power until 2029, pending presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms. The proposed amendments would entirely abolish the Office of the Prime Minister.  One that threw up red flags for me is Article 84: The powers of Parliament to scrutinize ministers and hold the government to account are abolished.  And Article 98: The obligation of ministers to answer questions orally in Parliament is abolished.

The accountability of Erdoğan and his top echelons of government is now gone.  Erdoğan wasted no time asserting his new authority, announcing plans to immediately take steps toward re-instating the death penalty.

Since the failed coup in July, which many believe was at least partly orchestrated by Erdoğan himself, freedom of the press has become largely non-existent in Turkey, with some 230 journalists and media staff currently in prison.  Additionally, 41,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 people dismissed or suspended from government jobs while hundreds of media outlets, associations, businesses have been shut down since Erdoğan declared a “state of emergency” almost immediately after the coup attempt.

Though the referendum abolishes the office of Prime Minister, Prime Minister Yıldırım delivered a victory speech, saying, “Our nation has made its decision and said yes to the presidential system. The ballot box result showed we will not bow to traitors and terrorists. Turkey has won; our nation has won.” This puzzles me. The man’s position was just abolished, yet he is praising the decision.

The vote was “won” by a narrow margin, 51.37%, at the end of a bitter and divisive campaign.  The official results will not be final for over a week, and the opposition party claims that many votes were not counted, and they plan to contest as many as one-third of the ones that were counted.

Turkey, once eager to become a part of the European Union (EU) has long been straying away from the democratic freedoms that would have given them eligibility, but if Erdoğan successfully re-instates the death penalty, it will end any chance of Turkey joining the EU.  Since July, it has not seemed to matter to Erdoğan, and I suspect he gave up the notion long ago, using it only as a bone of contention for the past year.

This referendum can only be seen as a loss of freedom for the Turkish people, but what is puzzling to me is that so many people willingly bought into it.  I think there is a good chance that the actual ‘yes’ votes were less than a majority of 51.4% and that there was, in fact, some vote tampering.  Even so, there were obviously many supporters of the referendum, as evidenced by the celebrations held last night, and comments from citizens. “This is our opportunity to take back control of our country,” said self-employed Bayram Seker, 42, after voting “Yes” in Istanbul.

It will remain to be seen if challenges to the vote are successful, but my guess is they will not be.

I have drawn parallels many times in the past year between the situation in Turkey and that in the U.S.  I do so again today.  On the surface, Erdoğan and Trump would seem to have nothing in common.  Erdoğan is well-educated, well-spoken and intellectual, whereas Trump is the antithesis of all those things.  However, both have a love of power and will do whatever it takes to acquire ever more of it.  Both are threatened by a free press and will use whatever means at their disposal to squelch it. Both have extremely short fuses when opposed.  Neither are willing to put the welfare of their citizenry before their own personal lust for power. Both have shown, in their blatant disregard for the people of their nations, that they believe ‘the end justifies the means’.  And both have severely divided their nations without regard for what that may mean for the future.

As I write this, my heart aches for the people of Turkey, some of whom have yet to understand what the consequences of their decisions will be.  And my heart aches, also, for the people of the U.S., for the same reason.