Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hope among Millenials- Anja Nikolova of Macedonia

One down side of social networking and "blogging", is how quickly the writing creates a skeptical view of the world. Therefore, I'm delighted with opportunities to read and report on hopeful news, like Anne Ford reported in March 2017, The Rotarian Magazine.

Master of Environmental Management (MEM)- Yale

Rotary scholar combines business and environment
Screen Shot 2015 11 17 at 11.15 .09 am
Anja Nikolova of Macedonia- With fluency in five languages, including Macedonian, English, and French, she expects to play a key intermediary and interpretable role in supporting her country to reach an agreement on their emission targets (with Yale, climate talks in Paris), as well as secure the appropriate financial support for the national agenda. The daughter of a Macedonian foreign service officer, Anja Nikolova grew up in London, New York, and Venice. 

Her globe-trotting childhood gave her not only a gift for languages (she’s fluent in five), but also a passion for international environmental issues. With the aid of global grants funded by Rotary districts from Texas, Oklahoma, and Connecticut, Nikolova is working toward her master’s degree in environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. She has interned at the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition – an initiative to accelerate action on climate change – and attended the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris as a member of the Macedonian delegation.

Q: How did you become interested in environmental issues?
A: It was when my family lived in Venice, because we got floods all the time. Everything just shut down. You walked out of your house and walked into a lake. I remember thinking, “If this happens in such a wealthy city, then I can’t even begin to imagine what happens in other places in the world that are not as fortunate.”

Q: What led you to study at Yale, and what are you hoping to accomplish there?

A: I did an internship with Earthmind, an organization supported by and with its headquarters at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an environmental NGO in Switzerland. That’s when I started becoming more interested in the international environmental scene. Because the environment is so interwoven with other fields, I felt I needed a broader degree, and that’s why I applied to Yale.

I’m interested in tying together the environment and economics on a larger scale to understand the feasibility of certain environmental projects. In the end, if whatever you pursue doesn’t make business sense, it’s probably not going to work. That has to be acknowledged and seen as an opportunity rather than as a threat.

Q: Tell us about your work in Ghana.
A: When I worked at IUCN, one of the projects there was a community agricultural and forestry project in Mole National Park in Ghana. The vision was to empower villagers living on the fringes of the park by teaching them to farm the products that are in the park and then sell them. They don’t have the technical support to sell them at a scale that’s profitable. I’ve connected this project with some Rotarians, and together we’ve managed to raise more than $100,000 for it. Rotarians in Ghana are also very involved.

Q: Now that you’re in the United States, do you have much opportunity to speak languages other than English?

A: I speak maybe three or four languages on a daily basis. With my parents, I speak in Macedonian. With my sister, I speak in Italian. With my friends, it depends. It’s not that I’m some sort of genius; I was just fortunate to grow up in different countries and learn different languages by default.

That has actually motivated me to co-found something at Yale: a program called Tandem Language Café. We match native speakers of two languages who want to learn each other’s language. The pairs meet once a week for eight weeks, and it’s free. This year we had more than 400 applicants. If I had the time this semester, I would even participate, but I’m just so overwhelmed with everything. Otherwise, I would love to learn Mandarin.

Anne Ford 
(Bonne chance Anja!)

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Millennial generation will inherit the earth- Mexico border wall and all

Most Americans continue to oppose U.S. border wall, doubt Mexico would pay for it- Pew Research Report
CNN's #campaigncamper traveled across the country to gauge the pulse of college students. The words they used to describe this election ranged from excitement to concern.
Millennial voters will inherit the Donald Trump draconian policies all of them counter intuitive to a progressive generation
Common sense should tell most thoughtful people the obvious, as reported by Pew Research. Nevertheless, the group where the impact of this draconian Donald Trump policy statement will be most opposed are by the millennial generation, that will inherit the remains of the deteriorating symbol of right wing political intolerance.  Rob Sulls reports, "As was the case throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, more Americans continue to oppose (62%) than favor (35%) building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico. And while Donald Trump said the U.S. would make Mexico pay for the wall, the public is broadly skeptical: 70% think the U.S. would ultimately pay for the wall, compared with just 16% who think Mexico would pay for it." Among college educated voters, Pew Research reports that 70 percent oppose the wall. Among the age group 18-29 years old, 78 percent oppose the border wall.

In other words, it's a stupid political stunt to trick right wing voters. Donald Trump can't deliver on expensive wall construction when the next generation of millennials will not maintain the structure.  

Most oppose building a border wall, think U.S. would ultimately pay for it

An expensive border wall will rob millennials with revenues they could rely on to assist with educational resources and access to quality affordable health care.  It makes no sense to build an expensive border wall to create a barrier to hard working Mexican and Hispanic immigrants who want to find a better life, expecially because there is absolutely and positively no way the Trumponian "monument against humanity" can be sustained. It won't happen.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Leadership and the Free Press - First Amendment is essential

"It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent, free press and we're not willing to have one ourself," said Bush.

Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors
Former President Bush was speaking on the NBC Today Show to support the publication of his book "Portraits of Courage", in an interview with Matt Lauer.

Donald Trump is so thin skinned, he lost his ability to be objective about his responsibility to accept the Free Press in support of American Democracy. In fact, Trump calls the news he disagrees with "fake-news" and declared war on the media as being an enemy of the people. Donald Trump's obsession with criticizing the media is, frankly, against the law. It's doubtful he ever read the First Amendment in the US Constitution, that requires "Free Speech". President George Bush '43 agrees with the Constitution. So does Admiral William H. McRaven, the Chancellor of the University of Texas system as does Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

It's past the time for Donald Trump to uphold what he swore to do on January 20, 2017, when he placed his right hand on a Bible and swore to uphold his oath of office. In fact, Trump should be leading the argument for Free Speech rather than creating unnecessary controversy about the basic tenet of democracy.  

Former President Bush said he spent a great amount of time trying to convince people, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, to accept the notion of an independent press, but Trump's adversarial relationship is making the message a difficult one for the United States to deliver.

"It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent, free press and we're not willing to have one ourself," said Bush.

Bush took office in 2001 after a controversial election that ended up being decided by the Supreme Court, and during a time when the nation was also divided, but on Monday he said it is hard to compare what was going on then with what's happening now.

"One thing is for certain, the job is a tough job," said Bush. "Everybody looks at the presidency when they campaign one way, then, they get in office and find out there's a reality to the job." Former President George W. Bush faced his share of criticism from the media during his time in office, but he said Monday that unlike President Donald Trump, he considered the media "to be indispensable to Democracy," and not as an enemy of the American people.

"We need an independent media to hold people like me to account," Bush said during an interview with NBC's "Today" anchor Matt Lauer.

"I mean, power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power. Whether it be here or elsewhere."

Bush said when he got out of college, the nation was "really divided," and it "requires a lot of people coming together to try to make us united."

Meanwhile, Trump has only been in office shortly over a month, and Bush said he thinks Americans need to take Trump for his word, that he wants to unify the nation.

"We'll see if he's able to do so," said Bush. "It's hard to unify the country with the news media being so split up. When I was president, you mattered a lot more because there were three of you. And now, there's all kinds of information being bombarded out, and people can say things anonymously. And it's just a different world."
(MaineWriter- Dear Mr. Bush, it isn't the media or the "anonymous sources" that gave the "free press" the label of "fake-news".)

Bush also spoke out about Trump's travel ban from seven Middle Eastern countries, saying that he does believe that it's important for people to be able to worship freely.

However, it's "hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat, and I think we learned that lesson," said Bush.

"If the United States decides to pull out before a free society emerges, it's going to be hard to defeat them," said Bush. 

"The enemy is very good about exploiting weakness. It's going to be important. If that's the goal, to defeat ISIS, which I believe it should be, that we project strength."

But Bush wouldn't say specifically if he's for or against the travel ban. "I'm for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law," said the former president. (Maine Writer: In other words, the travel ban as proposed against 7 mostly Muslim nations was decided to be illegal, as ruled by two courts.

So, in terms of Donald Trump versus the First Amendment of the Constitution, the experts have spoken. Creating "fake-news" is, frankly, a terrible, not to mention, also illegal, way for any American president to lead a Democracy.

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Tragic non-encounter at Dover Delaware transfer of SCPO Owens

William "Bill" Owens, we all grieve the tragic loss of your son. it was a brave act of "truth to power" when Mr. Owens said he decided not to meet with Donald Trump.

Thank you for being public about your valid criticism about the failed Yemen raid.  

Senior Cheif Petty Officer Ryan Owens of SealTeam6

As tragic as the transfer scenes are to watch when remains of American heroes are received at Dover Air Force Base, the strength of a father to refuse a meeting with President Trump took extra bravery. Mr. Owens instinctively knew, his son's death with Seal Team 6 in a failed Yemen raid was more than likely preventable.  

In fact, Donald Trump made the decision to send Seal Team 6 on a dangerous raid inside Yemen. Although Trump was on the job for only one week, Donald Trump made the decision to launch the raid while having dinner. For an unknown reason, Donald Trump was not in the situation room receiving intelligence when he made the decision to attack an al Qaeda enclave in Yemen. In fact, at the very time the raid was going down, Trump’s twitter account got a new post from himself. It was later deleted, but yes, at the time the raid went down, Donald was tweeting!

It's now the father of Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO) Owens, who was killed in the failed raid, who is calling for an investigation. For unknown reasons, the US Congress did not call for an investigation of this raid.  

On behalf of the victim's father, this is double bravery calling for truth in the face of the power of an ambitious Donald Trump, who made bad decision for the wrong reason. A Commander in Chief doesn't garner leadership by putting the lives of the military in harms way. 

FoxNews reports on the story from an interview in The Miami Herald:
Father of slain SEAL admits he didn’t want to meet Trump
MIAMI, Fl – The father of the Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen revealed that he did not want to meet President Donald Trump during his son's dignified transfer ceremony.

Bill Owens, father of Chief Special Warfare Officer Willian "Ryan" Owens, told Miami Herald that he refused to meet Trump and his daughter Ivanka who attended the ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, in late January.

William Owens, 36, was the only U.S. person to die in the January 27 raid on a suspected al-Qaida compound. Fourteen Al-Qaeda members were killed during the operation, which was carried out by SEAL Team 6. Others were killed as well, including the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki,

At the request of Bill Owens and his family, no media or any bystanders were allowed to attend the ceremony. He told the newspaper Friday, shortly before the ceremony they were informed that the President, his daughter and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware were going to attend it.

"I'm sorry, I don't want to see him," Owens recalled telling the chaplain of Trump. "I don't want to meet the President."

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens told the newspaper.

The Miami Herald reported that Owens, a military veteran, "cringed at the thought of having to shake the hand of the president who approved the raid in Yemen that claimed his son’s life — an operation that he and others are now calling into question."

William Owens, a married father of three, was from Peoria, Illinios. He went through SEAL training in Coronado, California and was stationed in San Diego from 2003 to 2007. Owens was most recently based in Virginia Beach, Virgina.

Trump missed his main target in Yemen raid that killed 30 civilians and one US Navy SEAL SCPO Ryan Owens.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

White House interference in Russia probe- What are they thinking? (They're not!)

"...calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia." - The Washington Post
When high level White House calls are made for the purpose of squelching the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the story begins to smell of cover up- even if it's all "fake news".  
Putin Trump Hater dating app
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump - this story won't go away and it's not "fake news"- credit 
(Chelsea neighborhood Apple Store wasn't the only location where this image emerged- a Valentine's Day graphic.)
Donald Trump is whining about the White House leaks that tipped news media off about the obstruction of justice calls to FBI Director James Comey, requesting interference in the Trump-Russia investigations. Ouch! Poor Donald- can't face truth. So, typical of Donald Trump's offense, he calls the leaking "fake news".  It's a global way of erasing any semblance of facts.  The problem is, Donald Trump is now the proverbial boy who cries wolf.  His over use of the cliche "fake news" is now a code word for "real truth".  It's a convoluted correlation, but it seems like whatever Donald Trump doesn't like must be truth.

Russia's involvement in hacking electronic communications during the 2016 election is not "fake news". Even Donald Trump acknowledges this fact because he summoned the Russians to engage in electronic espionage when he sent his coded "Russia if you're listening" message to Vladimir Putin, in an overt request to sabotage the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Now that the entire election is being scrutinized for credibility by Mark Small Esq., the Donald Trump team of fake news experts are scrambling for cover about the campaign's clandestine Russian connections.  Who knew what and when did they know it?
Obviously, any interference in this investigation justifiably creates even more suspicion. This smacks of desperation.

National Security 
By Greg Miller and Adam Entous in The Washington Post

Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories

The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.

The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

Two of those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned. (MaineWriter: Awwww!)
The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed that the White House communicated with officials with the aim of contesting reporting on Russia, but maintained that the administration did nothing improper. “When informed by the FBI that [the ­Russia-related reporting] was false, we told reporters who else they should contact to corroborate the FBI’s version of the story,” he said.

The decision to involve those officials could be perceived as threatening the independence of U.S. spy agencies that are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues, as well as undercutting the credibility of ongoing congressional probes. Those officials saw their involvement as an attempt to correct coverage they believed to be erroneous.

The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”

Unlike the others, Nunes spoke on the record and was subsequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview, Burr acknowledged that he “had conversations about” Russia-related news reports with the White House and engaged with news organizations to dispute articles by the New York Times and CNN that alleged “repeated” or “constant” contact between Trump campaign members and Russian intelligence operatives.

“I’ve had those conversations,” Burr said 
adding that he regarded the contacts as appropriate provided that “I felt I had something to share that didn’t breach my responsibilities to the committee in an ongoing investigation.”  (MaineWriter: Whaaaa? This stupid comment deserves a Trump bologna sandwich- white bread loaded with bologna smeared and with Russian dressing!)

The administration’s push against the Russia coverage intensified Sunday when White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said in television interviews that he had been authorized “by the top levels of the intelligence community” to denounce reports on Trump campaign contacts with Russia as false.

Priebus’s denunciations ranged from calling the articles “overstated” to saying they were “complete garbage.”

Administration officials said that Priebus’s comments had been cleared by FBI Director James B. Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. In doing so, the FBI’s leadership would appear to have been drawing a distinction between authorizing comments by a White House official and addressing the matter themselves.

Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Burr to express his “grave concerns about what this means for the independence” of the investigation.

I am consulting with members of the Intelligence Committee to determine an appropriate course of action so we can ensure that the American people get the thorough, impartial investigation that they deserve, free from White House interference,” Warner said in a statement Friday night.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Friday evening saying that if the White House “contrived to have intelligence officials contradict unfavorable news reports, this represents a new and even more grave threat to the independence of the intelligence community.”

Former intelligence officials expressed concern over the blurring of lines between intelligence and politics, with some recalling Republican accusations that the Obama administration had twisted intelligence in its accounts of the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

“I doubt that there was any enthusiasm from the intelligence leadership to get involved in this in the first place,” former CIA director Michael Hayden said, noting that it seemed unlikely that Priebus’s bluntly worded denials were consistent with the “precise language” favored by intelligence analysts.

Think Benghazi here,” Hayden said in an interview by email. “This is what happens when the intel guys are leaned on for the narrative of the political speakers. The latter have different rules, words, purposes. Getting intel into that mix always ends unhappily, [and] it looks like we just did.”

The Trump administration’s actions reflect its level of concern about coverage of its relationship with Russia. Trump has continued to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin, even after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had interfered in the U.S. presidential race to help Trump win.

Trump has also repeatedly disparaged the intelligence agencies that his administration last week turned to for support. Shortly before taking office, Trump accused U.S. spy agencies of a Nazi-style leaks campaign to smear him.

The White House statements on the issue Friday came after CNN reported that the FBI had refused administration requests to publicly “knock down” media reports about ties between Trump associates and Russian intelligence.

Administration officials disputed the account, saying that rather than soliciting FBI feedback, Priebus had been pulled aside by McCabe on the morning of Feb. 15 and told, “I want you to know” that the New York Times story “is BS.”

The FBI declined to discuss the matter.

White House officials declined to comment on the administration’s subsequent effort to enlist other government officials and would not agree to allow the identification of the intelligence officials who had spoken to The Post last week. In separate calls, those individuals insisted on being identified only as “a senior intelligence official in the Trump administration” and “a senior member of the intelligence community.”

In a brief interview on the night of Feb. 15, the senior intelligence official said that the suggestion that there was frequent contact between Russians and Trump associates was false, describing any conversations as sporadic, limited and based on Russia’s interest in building a relationship with the future Trump administration rather than shaping the 2016 presidential race.

The senior intelligence official appeared to be referring to contacts between Trump’s designated national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump was sworn in as president. Flynn was forced out of his job earlier this month after The Post reported that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak and then misled Trump administration officials about the nature of his contacts.

Officials at the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on whether senior officials at those agencies had discussed Russia coverage with the White House or been involved in efforts to refute stories on that subject.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is the senior-most intelligence official in the administration, with former senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) still awaiting confirmation as director of national intelligence.

As a Republican member of Congress, Pompeo was among the most fiercely partisan figures in the House investigation of Benghazi, which centered on accusations that the Obama administration had twisted intelligence about the attacks for political purposes.

It is not unusual for CIA leaders to have contact with news organizations, particularly about global issues such as terrorism or to contest news accounts of CIA operations. But involving the agency on alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia could be problematic.

The CIA is not in charge of the investigation. Given the history of domestic espionage abuses in the United States, CIA officials are typically averse to being drawn into matters that involve U.S. citizens or might make the agency vulnerable to charges that it is politicizing intelligence.

A U.S. intelligence official declined to discuss any Pompeo involvement except to say that he was “not involved in drafting or approving statements for public use by the White House this past weekend on alleged Russian contacts.”

Whether there were such contacts remains a major point of contention. Beyond Flynn, the investigation has focused on other figures including Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who had previously served as a paid political adviser to the Putin-backed president of Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.

Nunes, who served as a member of Trump’s transition team, has resisted calls for his House committee to investigate alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russia. He said in an interview that after months of investigations, U.S. authorities have turned up no evidence of such contacts.

“They’ve looked, and it’s all a dead trail that leads me to believe no contact, not even pizza-delivery-guy contact,” Nunes said, appearing to rule out even unwitting contact between Trump officials and Russian agents. 

Investigators, Nunes said, “don’t even have a lead.”

Philip Rucker, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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Message on leadership and mortality from Maine's "Daily Devotion"

Title: Hagia Sophia - 
February 26, 2017
Daily Devotions

This is a particularly insightful meditative essay by 
Rev. Peter B. Panagore, Daily Devotions Minister
Peter-Panagore th
In Istanbul, my daughter and I were ending of our Turkish journey by visiting the Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom Church. Completed in 537, it was the grandest church in Christendom for one thousand years. In 1453, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmet the Conqueror, seized Constantinople, renamed it Istanbul, and changed the church into a mosque. In 1935 it became a museum, which is why we were
inside the Hagia Sophia
While walking down the narrow, twisting, and cave-like rampart from its upper level to its magnificent main floor.

Rounding the corner below us, and rushing up toward us were men in dark suits. One pinned me up against the ancient wall, efficiently frisked me, and ordered me, “Don’t move.” I tucked my daughter behind me. Two weeks previously, the USS Cole (in Yemen) had been bombed. We were wary. Approaching us from the same corner walked President Putin of Russia. I could have reached out past his bodyguards and touched him, but, of course, I didn’t. Outside there were hundreds of armed guards, armored vehicles, and even tanks.

Putin won’t remember me, didn’t see me, and will never learn about the brief fright he gave us. There we were, in one of the holiest and most magnificent buildings for God on Earth, near one of the most powerful men on Earth, with armies guarding him, but I could see, just like me, he was just a little human being inside the grand house of God.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, in your eyes we are all the same – human – creatures you’ve made. It doesn’t matter if we’re presidents or pastors. We belong to you. Amen.

Here’s a Thought: Only God is great.

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The above link was a post was on a Twitter feed handle named Resistance. In an interview, it describes a heretofore untried process being put forth by attorney Mark Small, Esq., based upon the Federalist Papers.

Alexander Hamilton died in 1804, was one of the 3 authors of the Federalist Papers

Here are the some salient points:

1.  Two of three branches of US government are currently dysfunctions. Judiciary is working.

2.  Freedom of the press are under threats of being curtailed.

3.  Clearly, outside influence by foreign power interefered with the US government

Authors of Federalist papers were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.

In fact, the interview with Mark Small is easy to read and informative.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

When all else fails- call it fake-news

"Trump fatigue has set in, and set in hard."- Graydon Carter

Donald Trump has one talent we simply can't overcome with criticism, regardless of how much pressure is put to bear on this particular character flaw. In other words, he has the ability to hypnotize cult followers into believing him, even when he knowingly makes up stuff. Nevertheless, in the world where information travels faster than the speed of sound, many of Trump's lies are being usurped before he has a chance to put them on Twitter. So, how does the dog whistler respond to this lightening fast debunking? Indeed, he labels everything "fake-news" even before he says whatever it is he makes up. But, it's not going to work for much longer.  Even cult followers will demand accountability.

Although Donald Trump is fooling some of the people "some of the time" with this informational shell game antic, it's becoming too cliche. Even his inner gaggle of Warlocks are having a tough time keeping this ritual going.

In Vanity Fair-
The Constitution-straining conflicts surrounding the president, his top aides, some of his children, and his licensing-and-development business are a problem with no end in sight.
We aren’t even a third of the way through the administration’s 100-day honeymoon period and let’s face it: we’re plumb exhausted. We’re exhausted from the flurry of rash executive orders. Exhausted from the human carnage in the wake of the president’s ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries. Exhausted from the battles with neighbors, allies, and strategic adversaries on the world stage. Exhausted from the lies, the alternative facts, the boasts, the conflicts, and the scandals from this “fine-tuned machine.” Exhausted from our president’s cavalier habit of belittling our judiciary and intelligence services. Exhausted from having craven boneheads chosen to lead departments governing the environment, the Treasury, education, and the interior. Exhausted from an administration that turns a blind eye to Russian intrusions into Crimea, our election, and the imminent elections in Europe. Exhausted from the West Wing circus of misfits, clowns, and ghouls—politics’ answer to the Kardashians. Exhausted from the preening arrogance of the members of the First Family. Exhausted from waking up and not knowing what fresh hell this new president and his birdcage of a mind have cooked up overnight.

Trump fatigue has set in, and set in hard. Even the Republicans, who have ridden this stalking horse into office, holding their noses in the hope that they can manipulate him into furthering their agenda, are now mulling their options. Perhaps we’re all wrong, though. Perhaps the president is playing a game of chess and the rest of us are simply moving checker pieces around. Perhaps he intended his Muslim ban to create such havoc and misfortune that we would be looking the other way as he went about the business of dismantling the assets of proper governance. Perhaps he has just taken the crazy-driver approach to new extremes: when there is an erratic, swerving driver up ahead on the highway, you tend to pull back and give him the road. At a certain point, though, you wait for your moment and pass him, relaxing only when you can see him in your rearview mirror. Or perhaps he’s just trying to figure out which chess piece is which, and he really is a crazy driver.

If there was a tell in what the new inhabitants of the White House are up to, it was the $150 million lawsuit by the new First Lady against Mail Media Inc., the corporation which publishes the widely read Web site Mail Online. Back in August, the publisher had run a story claiming that, in a previous incarnation, Melania Trump had worked as a paid escort. Mail Online quickly retracted the story. But the soon-to-be First Lady pressed on. In her suit, she claims that she “had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person … to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.” Her lawyer, Charles Harder—the same fellow who successfully represented Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker—has taken an unconventional tack in her defense, saying, “The First Lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so. It is not a possibility. Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted.” Not sure how that gibes with her claims of lost income as First Lady, but then, I’m not a lawyer. Or a Trump.

As it stands, the president’s wife is not turning out to be the paparazzi bait one would have expected. Aside from her strained appearances on Inauguration Day, walking politely behind her husband or working up a forced smile when he looked in her direction, she has been as quiet as he has been loud. She gamely showed up for the post-inauguration balls—which on television looked about as festive as a Walmart on a Sunday morning. And as for the First Couple on the dance floor, I’ve seen cozier body language in a hostage situation. 

(MaineWriter observation- Melania's inaugural gown looked
prêt à porter for bed, like it was an evening "nightgown", IMO)

Presidential style has historically filtered down to the middle masses. John F. Kennedy’s preference for going hatless has been blamed for single-handedly killing the men’s hat industry.

One can only hope that the style of the current inhabitant of the White House doesn’t filter in any direction. It starts with a button. There is a reflex among men when a woman or even another man enters a room: they get to their feet, and if they are wearing a suit or a blazer, they instinctively button it up. This custom has apparently been lost on our new leader. With all the grace of a Mob boss, he charged out of his motorcade car ahead of his wife when meeting the Obamas and later swaggered through the Capitol on the way to his swearing-in. It’s rare when you see a man with both his jacket and his overcoat unbuttoned. When you couple that with the enormous length of a clearly overcompensatory red tie—the stubby end underneath held in place with cellophane tape—well, it was a spectacle that only Tony Soprano would have appreciated.

The Constitution-straining conflicts surrounding the president, some of his children, and his licensing-and-development business are a problem with no end in sight. Make no bones about it. The First Family are interested in one thing: furthering themselves and the so-called Trump brand. The Office of Government Ethics—the agency that criticized White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for her public endorsement (“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff”) of the First Daughter’s clothing and accessories line, which had been dropped by Nordstrom—is going to have its hands full. And arcane strictures like the Logan Act and the Emoluments Clause are now familiar to people who are not constitutional scholars.

In mid-February, on a weekend when the North Koreans appeared to have successfully launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the commander in chief of our armed forces was uncharacteristically reasoned in his response. The president discussed the launch while dining with the Japanese prime minister and his wife and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the terrace of his baroque Palm Beach club. His consultation with White House aides was conducted in full view of other diners. When photos and video of a meeting between the president and his closest aides start appearing on social media—along with a photo on Facebook of a club member posing with the military aide who carries the nuclear codes—you begin to realize just how uncharted the waters around us are. The president’s muted response to the North Korean launch could have something to do with the fact that he may understand that he has more in common with his counterpart in that country than he would care to admit. Goofy haircut? Check. Boxy frame and ill-fitting suits? Check. Erratic and unstable personality? Check. Simplistic way of looking at the world? Check. Primitive vocabulary? Check. Hates the country to the south? Check. Brooks no opposition from underlings? Check. Thin skin and a tendency to disproportionately lash out at critics? Check. Father gave him his career? Check.

The West Wing is already a groaning, leaking sieve as competing factions battle for TV face time, the boss’s limited attention, or their own ends. The leakfest is a boon to journalists covering this administration, but calamitous incompetence is something of an impediment to running the most powerful nation on earth. The description in The New York Times of a staff unable to figure out how to turn on the lights in the Cabinet Room of the White House was image enough. The paper also reported that Trump stalks the halls of the private quarters at all hours of the night in his bathrobe, firing off Twitter missives. I don’t know how that bathrobe description plants itself in your mind, but I think less Noël Coward silk and tassels and more leisure fabric with food stains, a high hemline, and karate sleeves. Those nocturnal tweets reflect a scattershot mind and a temperament ill-suited to the job at hand. When he is not tweeting lunatic complaints about the nation’s security services, or CNN, or the Times, he’s slamming Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka, or a fellow reality-TV personality for not being “smart enough” to challenge him in 2020, or Joe Scarborough’s shoe size. Actually, I made that last one up.

If you’ve ever worked with or for a narcissist with a loose grasp of the truth and a bottomless desire for approval, you will know how easy it is to manipulate them. You flatter. You listen intently to stories of victory you’ve heard many times before. You flatter again. You agree about perceived slights. You flatter a bit more. And then you push your case and walk away with what you came for. On her birthday recently, Kellyanne Conway tweeted that the “best gift” was having Donald Trump as president. That’s how you keep your standing in this White House. The Oval Office’s Resolute desk, favored by presidents from Kennedy to Reagan to Obama, is a ceremonial artifact, used largely as a staging platform for official visits and photo ops. Trump has loaded it up with a messy collection of folders—a quaint attempt to show that he is working hard and that he reads things longer than 140 characters.

Under the direction of the man who is really running the country, Trump Whisperer Steve Bannon, the West Wing is a murky brew of talky misfits. Not since the Nixon era have so many members of an administration been so well known to the public so quickly. And everybody seems to have his or her favorite West Wing oddity. Fans of The Walking Dead and American Horror Story no doubt have photos of Bannon on their refrigerators. Cruella de Vil buffs likely go for Kellyanne Conway. Ira Levin aficionados probably favor Stephen Miller. My personal favorite is Melissa McC … er, Sean Spicer, who is everyone’s favorite White House chew toy. Like his boss, he is now a global joke, a laughingstock. Melissa McCarthy’s astounding first impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live hit such a level of magnificence that it became a moment in time. Like the moon landing. The thing is, it was so much more layered and nuanced than it even needed to be. It may be one of the finest comedy bits of all time—up there in the pantheon alongside Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” Close on McCarthy’s heels are Alec Baldwin’s Trump and Kate McKinnon’s everybody else. This bumbling administration has been such a boon to Seth Meyers, Bill Maher, and John Oliver that they should be sending the White House flowers every week.

Republicans, who should know better, have flocked to this man for reasons of self-advancement or outright venality. 

My guess is that many of them will live to regret their attachment to him. A few years ago, I had dinner with Morley Safer in Paris. The Iraq war was at that point an evident fiasco, and he lamented all the missed opportunities by those in the House and Senate who failed to stand against it. Their acquiescence has haunted their careers ever since. If the half-dozen or so Republican senators who are not walking lockstep with the administration can corral another half-dozen of their colleagues to join them, there is still a chance for the rest of us and the world. And they will be heralded as heroes. Until then, as his first chaotic, incoherent, episodic hundred days unspools—“malevolence tempered by incompetence,” in the words of the Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes—we will all be praying that the current president gives his peculiar brand of showmanship a rest and settles in to actually crafting rational policy and patching up some of the global alliances he has discarded with such blithe abandon.

The America I see is not the grim dystopia that our new president described during his campaign and in his inaugural speech. It’s not perfect. Democracies seldom are. But with this man’s agenda now under way, it may well become the barren plain he has imagined. Since the inauguration, it seems that the world has suddenly become a room filled with gas. And in our leader we have an ignorant strongman about to light a $20 cigar with a match.

(Maine Writer observes Steve Bannon is ready with the flint).

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Pihcintu- choral immigrant singers at Portland Rotary

Who Are Pihcintu?
Rotary Club of Portland Maine welcomed this lovely singing group  to our February 24th lunch meeting.

Welcoming immigrant children from around the globe! Lovely performance!

The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus helps restart young lives. 
War-torn villages, bloodshed, refugee camps, famine, and political turmoil were devastating realities for many of these young singers before being embraced by the warmth, companionship and harmony that Pihcintu provides.

The power of survival eases but never erases the memory of unthinkable atrocities, physical danger and personal tragedy. Portland, Maine, an ever-expanding international resettlement community, was fertile ground to bring together children from diverse backgrounds to sing as one. Con Fullam, award-winning producer, musician, and songwriter, combined his passion for music with a deep concern for the effect of world issues on children - creating The Chorus with the help of countless supporting souls from all walks of life. This unique chorus of young women from Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Viet Nam, British West Indies, and Zambia, along with children whose families have been here for generations, have formed a powerful and permanent bond. Through the healing power of music, these vulnerable, yet brave, young women have learned to trust, hope and laugh again. The children and their music are transformative. Being in their presence is a life-enhancing experience and they touch the hearts of all who hear them!


The brain of Steve Bannon

This is Ebenezer's skull. 
But, it could also be a plaster mold of the brain of Steve Bannon. Perhaps it's what his cerebrum and cerebellum looks like upon diagnostic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

But ...

Below is another image. It's potentially a picture of the brain of Steve Bannon, when nobody's looking at it!

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This is what Steve Bannon looks like in a typical photograph:

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But, this is what Steve Bannon probably looks like after he dresses for work:

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Kim Jung-un doppleganger

Multiple choice- pick the real Steve Bannon or his brain. 
(Ohhh,'re right, it's the slob with ugly legs).


Friday, February 24, 2017

When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agree about fake news

The Washington Post has added the slogan “Democracy dies in darkness” below its online masthead.

Republicans who continue their cult support for Donald Trump, in spite of his un-Constitutional attack on Free Speech, obviously can't hear the duet our second place president is chiming with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

In fact, the duet is channeling the ghost of Adolf Hitler. Hitler called the press "Lügenpresse" (German for “lying press”).
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Adolf Hitler controlled the news through Joseph Goebbels. 
In other words, Steve Bannon's evil protégé

Consider the information in a previous post about how Sasha Grey, a popular Russian porn actress, became the victim of fake news (at this link).

Donald Trump's chief (liar) and political strategist, the former editor of alt-right mouthpiece Breitbart News (aka: "barfcart-news") Stephen K. Bannon, severely castigated the press by calling it “the opposition party".

Although most politicians have their selective issues with the free press, the fact is, when Russia's Vladimir Putin agrees with Donald Trump, the duet must give Americans pause for concern.  

Russia has invaded America via the infiltration of the Donald Trump ambitious campaign for political leadership. This can be considered an act of war, if the Republican controlled Congres were brave enough to face up to the facts. 

Moreover, Donald Trump clearly abandoned his obligation to swear allegiance to the United States Constitution's First Amendment. His attack on the news media and the Freedom of Speech Amendment in the Constitution demonstrates an abandon on his failed promise to support America first.

But wait, there's more!

Donald Trump bars New York Times, CNN, Los Angeles Times and Politico from White House press briefing!

Barney Henderson

Several major American news organisations were barred from a White House press briefing in a an unprecedented move by the Trump administration.

Reporters from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Los Angeles Times and Politico were all refused access to an off-camera press briefing by Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump's press secretary. In other words, t
hey were refused entry to Press Secretary Spicer's West Wing office for the scheduled briefing.

"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," said Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times
"We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organisations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest."

Only reporters from selected organisations, which included Breitbart News (aka, "barfcart-news), the One America News Network and The Washington Times - all extremely conservative news organisations - were allowed to hear what Spicer said. Breitbart's (barfcart's) founder, Steve Bannon (who is a failed jrUSN passed over for advancement Navy officer wanna-be) is Mr Trump's chief strategist.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press chose not to attend the briefing, which is called as a gaggle and is less formal than a televised briefing in the White House press room, in solidarity. 

The television networks NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News all attended.

The White House Correspondents Association said it was "protesting strongly" against the move.

Sarah Sanders, a spokesman for Mr Trump, defended the move by stating the White House "had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today".

Bret Baier, chief political anchor at Fox News, tweeted:
"Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs "…

Meanwhile: MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry got into the fake news business in a splashy way on Wednesday. In fact, a focus meant to highlight articles that Russia considers to be fake news, including The New York Times is now posted on the Foreign Ministry's website.

So, I ask you, dear Republicans, to please consider the consequences of mis-information when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin clearly agree about the false concept of "fake-news".

Obviously, both of these "fake-leaders" are evil bookends and they must be replaced.

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Admiral who commanded Seal Team critical of Donald Trump

"..may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime." Admiral McRaven, USN-Ret, Chancellor of University of Texas system.

Although US Navy Seals don't speak about their military experiences, the Admiral who was in charge of their operations is giving a rare "kick in the ass" to Donald Trump, via the President's irresponsibl media attacks. Ya' think this is the way an Admiral gets attention? You betcha!

‘Greatest threat to democracy’: Commander of bin Laden raid slams Trump’s anti-media sentiment

William H. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral and former Navy SEAL, slammed President Trump’s characterization of the media as “the enemy of the American people,” calling that sentiment the “greatest threat to democracy” he’s ever seen.
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Admiral William H. McRaven USN-Ret

That’s coming from a man who’s seen major threats to democracy.

McRaven, who was commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, organized and oversaw the highly risky operation that killed Osama bin Laden almost six years ago

McRaven, the admiral from Texas, had tapped a special unit of Navy SEALs to carry out the May 2011 raid on the elusive terrorist’s hideout, a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Subsequently, McRaven left the military in 2014 after nearly four decades and later became chancellor of the University of Texas System. The UT-Austin alumnus, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, addressed a crowd at the university’s Moody College of Communication, on Tuesday.

“We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said, according to the Daily Texan. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

[Adm. William McRaven: The terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested.]

“To be a good leader, you have to be a good communicator,” he added. “As a leader, you have to communicate your intent every chance you get, and if you fail to do that, you will pay the consequences.”

McRaven’s remarks come amid Twitter attacks on the media by the president, who has denounced as “FAKE NEWS” several negative stories about his administration. In a widely shared tweet Friday, Trump called the media, naming the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN, “the enemy of the American People!”

In another tweet the same day, Trump quoted conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who praised the president’s news conference the day before during which he confronted the media.

“One of the most effective press conferences I’ve ever seen!” says Rush Limbaugh. Many agree. Yet FAKE MEDIA calls it differently! Dishonest,” Trump tweeted.

Trump repeatedly blasted the media in a combative, more-than-an-hour-long news conference last Thursday, repeating descriptions of the press as dishonest and fake.

He berated a Jewish reporter for asking a question about bomb threats to dozens of Jewish community centers and for expressing concerns that Trump had yet to address anti-Semitic attacks. The president took the question as a personal affront, saying he was not anti-Semitic, even though the reporter never made such an accusation.

At the news conference, the president also criticized the intelligence community, asserted that his young administration is running smoothly and said that he’d “inherited a mess.”

Trump has lashed out at the media a couple more times on Twitter over the past few days.

[Commander of bin Laden raid blasts Senate for disrespecting military leaders]

McRaven is not the only retired military man who has criticized the president’s remarks.

In an interview Saturday on NBC News, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), a vocal Trump critic, said such criticism of the media is “how dictators get started.”

“In other words, a consolidation of power,” McCain told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd from Munich. “When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”

McCain was specifically responding to Trump’s condemnation of the news media as the enemy of the people. Such phrases are “more typically used by leaders to refer to hostile foreign governments or subversive organizations” and “echoed the language of autocrats who seek minimize dissent,” the New York Times wrote.

This is not the only time McRaven has spoken out since leaving the military.

In a seething column published last year in the Tampa Tribune, he blasted Congress, specifically the Senate, for a “disturbing trend in how politicians abuse and denigrate military leadership, particularly the officer corps, to advance their political agendas.”

[Fox News anchor Chris Wallace warns viewers: Trump crossed the line in latest attack on media]

McRaven was particularly angry at the Senate’s treatment of Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, who was forced to retire after several Democratic and Republican senators pressured the Navy to hold him accountable for retaliating against multiple whistleblowers.

“A series of DOD inspector general investigations were reviewed by the Navy leadership and, once again, Adm. Losey was found not to have violated the law, rule or policy. In fact, it was clear to the Navy that the personnel action taken by Losey against the complainants was not reprisal,McRaven wrote, adding later: “Despite the Navy’s multiple endorsements, certain members of Congress chose to use Losey’s case to pursue their own political agenda. They held hostage other Navy nominations until Losey’s promotion recommendation was rescinded. The ransom for their congressional support was Brian Losey’s career and, more importantly, his stellar reputation.”

Losey, who commanded the Navy’s elite SEAL teams, served under McRaven.  Indeed, McRaven was one of the most experienced terrorist hunters in the U.S. government, had spent years tracking bin Laden and recruited the Navy SEALs that carried out the raid two months before the terrorist was killed.

The search for bin Laden was led by the CIA. Leon Panetta, the agency’s director at the time, delegated the mission to McRaven after then-President Barack Obama gave the authorization.

In his book titled “Spec Ops,” McRaven noted six key requirements for any successful mission: surprise, speed, security, simplicity, purpose and repetition.

Amy B Wang contributed to this report.

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