Inside the White House: A Question of Competence?

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

By Michael Wolff

Little Brown Book Group (2018)

Book Review

The most remarkable aspect of this book is its blow-by-blow account of Team Trump – from his nomination in July 2016 to Steve Bannon’s firing in August 2017. Unlike prior presidential administrations, which are extremely guarded about their inner workings, Trump’s White House offered the media virtually unfettered access during his first nine months. According to Wolff this occurred for four main reasons: 1) Trump’s impulsive daily tweets 2) the constant “weaponized” leaks from warring Trump staffers* 3) Trump’s nightly rambling calls to wealthy supporters** and 4) his willingness to allow more public access to the Oval Office than any previous president.

While Wolff cite sources for his factual statements and quotes, the book has been carefully fact checked, in addition to being reviewed by two libel attorneys.***

As a psychiatrist, what I found most interesting about Fire and Fury is the insight it reveals into Trump’s psychological functioning. The current President is described by nearly everyone who has worked with him as extremely childlike, guileless, impulsive, undisciplined, incapable of following a game plan and impossible to communicate with. He trusts no one.

One of the few direct quotes in the book is from his former scheduler Katie Walsh: “It’s like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

My favorite quote, though, comes from Trump himself during a staff discussion about repealing Obamacare: “Why can’t Medicare simply cover everyone?”

Toning down Trump’s impulsiveness has been virtually impossible, though some staffers have been able to influence his behavior by winding him up.

Trump categorically refuses to read written briefings or watch PowerPoint presentations. He also refuses to listen to long verbal briefings and tends not to follow scripted statements. He always prefers to be the one talking, typically coming out with long rambling statements in which he frequently repeats himself.

Wolff’s introduction also confirms what many analysts have surmised: Trump didn’t intend to win the Presidency. His original plan was to use the media exposure to launch his own TV network. In fact, Trump refused to invest any of his own money in the campaign (although he loaned them $10 million).


*Prior to Bannon’s departure in August 2017, there was no White House chain of command and no clearly defined duties for any of its staff. Four discrete factions – Bannon, Jared Kushner/Ivana Trump (Bannon called them Jarvanka) nominal Chief of staff Reince Priebus and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway were at continual war with one another in controlling Team Trump. According to many sources, Trump essentially served as his own chief of staff and press secretary, in that he phone reporters, dictated quotes and personally reviewed all press releases.

**The recipients of these calls (concerning unfavorable media and Trump’s “incompetent” staff) were so alarmed by them that they often felt compelled to pass on their content to White House staff and/or reporters.

***The Trump family is notoriously litigious, and Wolff and his publisher must be able to document the book’s assertions in a libel suit.

 

 

 

Will Jamie Dimon Finally Lose His Job Over Racketeering Charges?

Traders at too big to fail Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase indicted by Justice Dept on racketeering charges for rigging gold, silver and other precious metal markets.

Rigged Game

RICO is typically used to indict mobsters – which makes its use against employees of the largest bank in America a very disquieting event.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade

Yesterday, three traders at JPMorgan Chase, the bank headed by Jamie Dimon, got smacked with the same kind of criminal felony charge that was used to indict members of the Gambino crime family in 2017. The charge is racketeering and falls under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO. According to the Justice Department, the traders engaged in a pattern of rigging the gold, silver and other precious metals markets from approximately May 2008 to August 2016.

One of the traders, Michael Nowak, was actually a Managing Director at the bank and the head of its Global Precious Metals Desk. The other two traders are Gregg Smith and Christopher Jordan.

RICO is typically…

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Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order: The Police State’s Language of Force

Quote

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | September 16, 2019

Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about free speech in America.

It’s all a lie.

There can be no free speech for the citizenry when the government speaks in a language of force.

What is this language of force?

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weaponsLess-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

This is not the language of freedom.

This is not even the language of law and order.

Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo.

Recently, this militarized exercise in intimidation—complete with an armored vehicle and an army of police drones—reared its ugly head in the small town of Dahlonega, Ga., where 600 state and local militarized police clad in full riot gear vastly outnumbered the 50 protesters and 150 counterprotesters who had gathered to voice their approval/disapproval of the Trump administration’s policies.

To be clear, this is the treatment being meted out to protesters across the political spectrum.

The police state does not discriminate.

As a USA Today article notes, “People demanding justice, demanding accountability or demanding basic human rights without resorting to violence, should not be greeted with machine guns and tanks. Peaceful protest is democracy in action. It is a forum for those who feel disempowered or disenfranchised. Protesters should not have to face intimidation by weapons of war.”

A militarized police response to protesters poses a danger to all those involved, protesters and police alike. In fact, militarization makes police more likely to turn to violence to solve problems.

You want to turn a peaceful protest into a riot?

Bring in the militarized police with their guns and black uniforms and warzone tactics and “comply or die” mindset. Ratchet up the tension across the board. Take what should be a healthy exercise in constitutional principles (free speech, assembly and protest) and turn it into a lesson in authoritarianism.

Frankly, any police officer who tells you that he needs tanks, SWAT teams, and pepper spray to do his job shouldn’t be a police officer in a constitutional republic.

Indeed, this is martial law masquerading as law and order.

All that stuff in the First Amendment sounds great in theory. However, it amounts to little more than a hill of beans if you have to exercise those freedoms while facing down an army of police equipped with deadly weapons […]

 

via Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order: The Police State’s Language of Force

Attacks on Saudi oil facility and the changing landscape of the Middle East

Hamid Alizadeh
MARXIST.COM

ABOVE: Location of Houthi strikes on Saudi oil facilities. With their new missiles, practically the whole region is now within their range.

The Saudis have been pushing Trump to attack Iran, but the US is in no position to defeat Iran in open battle. Even airstrikes could have severe consequences for the US. As an Iranian commander reminded US officials yesterday, all US military bases within 2,000 miles of Iran would be within striking range of Iranian missiles. . .Following countless provocations, sanctions and attacks on Iranian-supported groups in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Iran is drawing a line in the sand and showing the US and its allies what is at stake. Through a surgical strike, it has shown how easy it is – through its vast network of groups – to hit key facets of infrastructure, which are supposed to be highly secured by US-supplied missile defence systems.


A series of attacks on Saudi oil installations have set sparks flying once again in the Middle East. Only months after a last-minute cancellation of a US strike on Iran – and weeks after reaching out for talks without any preconditions – US President Donald Trump is yet again filling the twittersphere with threats and intimidation. Meanwhile, oil prices shot up by 20 percent and the ripple effects are already working their way through the sensitive oil and currency markets.

The attacks hit the world’s largest oil processing plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia – responsible for processing 70 percent of Saudi oil – as well as the Khurais oil field. The attack has left Saudi Arabia 5.7m barrels per day short of its previous daily oil output, which translates to 5 percent of overall global crude production.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Yemeni Houthi movement, which has been locked in a bitter, four-and-a-half-year war with Saudi Arabia. In the past six months, the Houthis have increased their abilities to strike targets inside Saudi Arabia, hitting airports, oil pipelines and even reaching Riyadh with ballistic missiles. Nevertheless, the present attack is by far the most serious, striking the heart of Saudi Oil production.

Yesterday however, the Qatari-linked website, Middle East Eye, reported from an anonymous Iraqi intelligence source claiming that the attack was carried out by an Iranian-supported Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces – PMF) base in Southern Iraq. This follows a series of attacks on key PMF bases, convoys and weapons depots throughout Iraq. While these attacks were most probably carried out by Israel, they saw the collaboration of the US, as well as Saudi Arabia.

As the Iraqi intelligence source told Middle East Eye, this weekend’s attack was a response to the attacks on PMF positions in August:

“The latest attack comes for two reasons: another message from Iran to the USA and its allies that, as long as their siege of Iran continues, no one will have stability in the region. However, the second, more direct reason is Iranian revenge for the recent Israeli attacks by drones launched from SDF-controlled areas in Syria against pro-Iranian Hashd bases.”


Whether it was Iraqi Shia or Yemeni forces who carried out the attacks; and even if Iran facilitated them, the US-backed Saudis have been the main aggressors in the region in the last period / Image: Fahd SadiUS and Saudi officials, have pointed the finger at Iran. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo tweeted that there was no evidence the weapons were launched in Yemen and accused Iran of “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Gulf princelings and official lapdogs have been howling all weekend about Iran’s supposed “bullying” in the region, saying they are ready to take any measures necessary.

But wait a minute, you may ask yourself, is it really Iran who are the main bullies in the Middle East? In the recent period alone, the Saudi regime has been stoking sectarianism throughout the whole region. It has also funded a barbaric sectarian war in Syria, which has so far destroyed the country as well as neighbouring Iraq. In Yemen, the Saudis have launched a one-sided war of slaughter, killing tens of thousands of people and keeping millions at the edge of starvation […]

 

Source: Attacks on Saudi oil facility and the changing landscape of the Middle East

HUGE: Trump DOJ to Disclose Identity of Saudi-Connected Man Alleged to Have Aided 9/11 Perpetrators

The information will be released to attorneys representing the families of victims who have filed a lawsuit accusing the government of Saudi Arabia of helping to coordinate the terror attack that took their loved one’s lives. The attorneys will have to petition the DOJ to release the name to the greater public for the man’s identity to be widely known.

Nwo Report

More truth about the Sept. 11 attacks is going to be released to the public.

Source: Shane Trejo

The Trump administration is getting ready to release the identity of a man who allegedly aided and abetted the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers, believed to be an individual with deep ties to the Saudi government.

Attorney General William Barr made the final determination for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release this information on Thursday, one day after the 18th anniversary of the attacks.

The information will be released to attorneys that are representing the families of victims who have filed a lawsuit accusing the government of Saudi Arabia of helping to coordinate the terror attack that took their loved one’s lives. The attorneys will have to petition the DOJ to release the name to the greater public for the man’s identity to be widely known.

While it is commonly understood that…

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Billionaires hurt economic growth and should be taxed out of existence, says bestselling French economist

Piketty said he has gained hope from the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Warren has proposed a 2% wealth tax on those worth $50 million or more, while Sanders has proposed boosting estate taxes.

County Sustainability Group

KEY POINTS
  • A popular French economist says billionaires are harmful to economic growth and would be effectively abolished under his tax plan,
  • In an interview with the French magazine L’Obs, Thomas Piketty calls for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros.
  • Piketty says the notion that billionaires create jobs and boost growth is false.

GP: Thomas PikettyFrench economist Thomas Piketty poses during a photo session in Paris on September 10, 2019. Joel Sagat | AFP | Getty Images

A popular French economist says billionaires are harmful to economic growth and would be effectively abolished under his tax plan, according to an interview.

Thomas Piketty, whose 2013 book on inequality, “Capital in the 21st Century,” became a global bestseller and bible for tax-the-rich progressives, just published a 1,200-page follow-up book called “Capital and Ideology.”…

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Hidden History: Inside the Bungled Trump Transition

The Fifth Risk

By Michael Lewis

W W Norton (2018)

Book Review

This is a fascinating book about the bungled Trump transition following his 2016 election. As of February 2016, federal law required all remaining primary candidates to set up transition teams – in the off chance they actually won the presidency. Two million people work for the US government, with 70% employed in national security. Of these, 4,000 are political appointees who lose their jobs on the day the new president takes office.

Although the federal government provides office space for transition teams, the candidates have to pay transition staff from their campaign coffers. No one (including Trump himself) believed he would win in November. In fact he was livid on discovering former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was running his transition team from campaign funds.

Lewis’s book is a collection of in-depth interviews with the Obama appointees who spent most of 2016 attempting to orient a handful of Trump appointees to take on the massive work of these three federals departments. Their main fear was that without understanding the essential work undertaken by key agencies, the incoming Trump administration might eliminate or massively downsize vital work. In the end, this is exactly what happened.

Largely because there was no one on the Trump campaign team (other than Chris Christie or Rudolph Giuliani) with prior political experience, Christie was unable to send teams of 30-50 people (as Obama had done) to accept the handovers. So essentially they didn’t happen.

Lewis focuses on three departments, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Commerce. I found his book a real eye opener concerning the actual work they do. For example:

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has a $30 billion budget, of which half goes to safeguard the US nuclear arsenal. This $15 billion covers programs to detect and prevent espionage and to prevent accidental loss or explosion, as well as the international monitoring of all weapons grade uranium and plutonium stores, the training of all international nuclear inspectors and the clean-up of the extremely hazardous (and leaking) Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington State. When Trump took office on Jan 20 2017, the Obama appointee in charge of the nuclear weapons program notified a number of senators that Trump had failed to appoint his successor.*
  • The USDA runs the US Forest Service and its massive firefighting program. This is in addition ensuring the safety (?) of all meat Americans eat (the FDA regulates other foodstuffs). The are also responsible for food stamps, school lunches and programs offering catastrophic crop insurance to farmers and (using Weather Bureau data) advising them on the best dates to plant, fertilize and harvest their crops. Ironically they also run a Rural Development Program** providing grants and loans to the struggling rural communities that turned out for Trump in such large numbers.
  • The Department of Commerce runs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Weather Bureau and the Census, as well as a massive data bank created to assist other departments (eg global atomic weapons numbers, violent crime statistics, consumer complaints against banks, cop shootings of civilians). Much of this data has disappeared from government websites since Trump took office.

*These Republican senators forced Trump to temporarily re-appoint him.

**Which Trump cut by roughly 16%. See https://www.dailyyonder.com/trump-budget-cuts-usda-16/2018/02/12/