The German press says what the American press should be saying

I wish the American press had the courage of the German press.  This article from Der Spiegel nails it.


Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump’s confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Witnessing an American Tragedy

Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn’t care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I’m president after all.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other – and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump’s resignation, which won’t happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president’s proven obstruction of justice, but won’t happen because of the Republicans’ thirst for power, which they won’t willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn’t particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn’t directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary – and possible.

No Goals and No Strategy

Not quite two weeks ago, a number of experts and politicians focused on foreign policy met in Washington at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference. It wasn’t difficult to sense the atmosphere of chaos and agony that has descended upon the city.

The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America’s strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.

In the Pacific, warships – American and Chinese – circle each other in close proximity. The conflict with North Korea is escalating. Who can be certain that Donald Trump won’t risk nuclear war simply to save his own skin? Efforts to stop climate change are in trouble and many expect the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because Trump is wary of legally binding measures. Crises, including those in Syria and Libya, are escalating, but no longer being discussed. And who should they be discussed with? Phone calls and emails to the U.S. State Department go unanswered. Nothing is regulated, nothing is stable and the trans-Atlantic relationship hardly exists anymore. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Norbert Röttgen fly back and forth, but Germany and the U.S. no longer understand each other. Hardly any real communication takes place, there are no joint foreign policy goals and there is no strategy.

In “Game of Thrones,” the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room – and return power to the grownups.

Jared Kushner is unhappy and feels isolated. Well, I’m just heartbroken. Heartbroken, I tell you.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly miserable at the White House as reports indicate he spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about establishing a backchannel line of communication between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.

“He’s still trying to tell people it will improve but he seems like he was trying to convince himself,” a source told Politico.

“It’s clear that Jared Kushner will be under intense scrutiny at a time when his father-in-law has named him everything but Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” Democratic strategist David Axelrod told Politico. “It’s bad for the prospects of calm at the White House.”

On Friday, it was reported Kushner failed to disclose multiple conversations between himself and Kislyak, though a lawyer for the businessman claimed he has “no recollection” of such communications.

A senior administration official told Politico concern has been growing at the White House for a while, but it’s not something openly discussed. “No one that I know has been asked to provide documents,” the official added.

“No one knows what to make of it because he’s there every day, making decisions, in the Oval,” they continued. “So everyone just tries to act normal.”

The news of Kushner’s angst comes as reports indicate the president is considering another staff shake-up—this time targeting his son-in-law.

Trump has fucked with the wrong people

Now we know that Trump’s halfwit, greasy son-in-law secretly talked with the Russians about setting up a private, secret channel of communications between Trump and Russia.  That is, it was secret until the fact was revealed.

Here’s what makes this so important.  By revealing the Kushner-Russia communications, US intelligence agencies have revealed that we are intercepting communications from the Russian ambassador back to Moscow.  For US intelligence agencies to reveal such a sensitive fact means the intelligence people are pissed off and Donald Trump will pay.

Consider this:  When the Allies cracked the Nazi’s ENIGMA encryption during World War II, we were reading German military communications and we knew their plans.  In some cases, this sensitive intelligence was not relayed to Allied forces thereby allowing some troops to march into certain death rather than risk revealing that we were reading the Germans’ internal communications. But, now, the fact that we intercepted the Russian ambassador’s communications with the Kremlin was just presented as the evidence for Jared Kushner wanting to set up a private network with Moscow. That should be the most closely guarded secret we have, or close to it. So, to just go ahead and risk losing that capability is an indication of how serious of a risk the intelligence agencies think Trump represents.

They would never reveal that information unless they thought removing Trump from power was a higher priority and that this information could lead to that outcome.

Read More:

Looks like the Trump Crime Family has fucked with the wrong people.

Trump completes G7 summit by acting like an asshole . . . of course, he IS an asshole

President Trump rounded out his first foreign trip since taking office by joining other G7 leaders as they walked the streets of Taormina, Sicily.

There was just one difference: as the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan walked on foot, Trump followed in a golf cart, The Times of London reported on Saturday.

“They walked the 700 yards from the traditional G7 group photo, taken at a Greek amphitheatre, to a piazza in the hilltop town, but Mr Trump stayed behind until he could take a seat in the electric vehicle,” The Times reported.

It also noted that Trump arrived last for the photo as the 6 other leaders stood waiting for him.


Read more:

Why is Jared Kushner secretly talking with Russian banks?

Especially questionable is Kushner’s contacts with a Russian bank that is under investigation by the US Treasury Department because the bank is laundering money for Russian mobsters.

Maybe this explains Kushner’s love affair with the Russian bank.

Bloomberg on Jared Kushner, failing real estate mogul (here’s a clue . . .  he needs the money and the Chinese aren’t being very helpful):

The Manhattan tower co-owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has been losing money for three years and faces increasing loan fees in 2017, which may explain why the family has been negotiating with Chinese insurance behemoth Anbang on new financing.

The fees, at 666 Fifth Avenue, kicked in last month and escalate with each payment until the loan is repaid, a 2011 refinancing agreement shows. December brings another hurdle: Interest paid on the bulk of about $1.1 billion of loans jumps to 6.35 percent, more than double what it was after the debt was refinanced in 2011.

What was that about rats and a sinking ship?

Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, who once had close ties to President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, has offered to talk to the congressional committees investigating Trump’s Russia ties. He’s seeking full immunity to aid in the investigation.

A Friday New York Times report revealed Oleg V. Deripaska is an aluminum magnate who is a member of the inner circle of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Three different Congressional officials revealed that they received this request but that doing so might complicate any federal criminal investigations.

Saudi Arabia plays Trump like a cheap fiddle — Trump sells out to the people who sponsor ISIS

Fareed Zakaria nails it . . . the Saudis played Trump like a fiddle . . . he overthrew US foreign policy and swallowed the Saudi line.


This week’s bombing in Manchester, England, was another gruesome reminder that the threat from radical Islamist terrorism is ongoing. And President Trump’s journey to the Middle East illustrated yet again how the country central to the spread of this terrorism, Saudi Arabia, has managed to evade and deflect any responsibility for it. In fact, Trump has given Saudi Arabia a free pass and a free hand in the region.

The facts are well-known. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has spread its narrow, puritanical and intolerant version of Islam — originally practiced almost nowhere else — across the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was Saudi, as were 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists.

And we know, via a leaked email from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in recent years the Saudi government, along with Qatar, has been “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [the Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” Saudi nationals make up the second-largest group of foreign fighters in the Islamic State and, by some accounts, the largest in the terrorist group’s Iraqi operations. The kingdom is in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The Islamic State draws its beliefs from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam. As the former imam of the kingdom’s Grand Mosque said last year, the Islamic State “exploited our own principles, that can be found in our books. . . . We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way.” Until the Islamic State could write its own textbooks for its schools, it adopted the Saudi curriculum as its own.

Saudi money is now transforming European Islam. Leaked German intelligence reports show that charities “closely connected with government offices” of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are funding mosques, schools and imams to disseminate a fundamentalist, intolerant version of Islam throughout Germany.

Throughout the campaign, Trump was all about “radical Islamic terrorism” and “radical Islamic terrorists.”  He regularly attacked Hillary Clinton and President Obama for not using either phrase.  However,  President Trump did not use the phrase when he delivered a speech to leaders from Muslim countries in Saudi Arabia.

In Kosovo, the New York Times’ Carlotta Gall describes the process by which a 500-year-old tradition of moderate Islam is being destroyed. “From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Shariah law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam. . . . Charitable assistance often had conditions attached. Families were given monthly stipends on the condition that they attended sermons in the mosque and that women and girls wore the veil.”

Saudi Arabia’s government has begun to slow many of its most egregious practices. It is now being run, de facto, by a young, intelligent reformer, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who appears to be refreshingly pragmatic, in the style of Dubai’s visionary leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. But so far the Saudi reforms have mostly translated into better economic policy for the kingdom, not a break with its powerful religious establishment.

Trump’s speech on Islam was nuanced and showed empathy for the Muslim victims of jihadist terrorism (who make up as much as 95 percent of the total, by one estimate). He seemed to zero in on the problem when he said, “No discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists . . . safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.”

But Trump was talking not of his host, Saudi Arabia, but rather of Iran. Now, to be clear, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and supports some very bad actors. But it is wildly inaccurate to describe it as the source of jihadist terror. According to an analysis of the Global Terrorism Database by Leif Wenar of King’s College London, more than 94 percent of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001 were perpetrated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists. Iran is fighting those groups, not fueling them. Almost every terrorist attack in the West has had some connection to Saudi Arabia. Virtually none has been linked to Iran.

Trump has adopted the Saudi line on terrorism, which deflects any blame from the kingdom and redirects it toward Iran. The Saudis showered Trump’s inexperienced negotiators with attention, arms deals and donations to a World Bank fund that Ivanka Trump is championing. (Candidate Trump wrote in a Facebook post in 2016, “Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”) In short, the Saudis played Trump. (Jamie Tarabay makes the same point.)

The United States has now signed up for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy — a relentless series of battles against Shiites and their allies throughout the Middle East. That will enmesh Washington in a never-ending sectarian struggle, fuel regional instability and complicate its ties with countries such as Iraq that want good relations with both sides. But most important, it will do nothing to address the direct and ongoing threat to Americans — jihadist terrorism. I thought that Trump’s foreign policy was going to put America first, not Saudi Arabia.

Russian ambassador told Moscow Jared Kushner wanted a “secret channel” of communications from Trump

In a Friday night news dump, The Washington Post revealed that one of the reasons for the increased scrutiny might be from Jared Kushner speaking to the Russian ambassador about setting up secret communications between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin. To make matters worse, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was in the room at the time.

Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported back to Moscow about the request made Dec. 1 or 2 during a meeting at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications. The meeting was not disclosed to the public until March and the White House claimed it wasn’t significant. Those familiar with the investigation said that the FBI considers it to be significant enough to increase its scrutiny into Kushner and his contacts.

Neither meeting was being surveilled, according to officials.

The Post notes that often Russia is known to promote false information to create intentional misinformation and confuse leaders and analysts. However, officials aren’t clear what would have been gained by telling Moscow that Kushner sought the secret channel.

According to The Post, the White House, Flynn’s lawyer and the Russian embassy all refused to comment. Lawmakers are asking that Kushner’s top secret clearance be revoked given the latest findings.