‘I Am Confidant I Will Do So Again’
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not appear to be taking seriously the First Amendment concerns raised by his “faith-based media only” conference call that caused tremendous outrage last week. The Secretary banned all regular State Dept. press, all mainstream press, and invited only reporters from “faith-based” media outlets to attend.
Amid questioning from U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), not only did Secretary Pompeo defend his decision to exclude all reporters except those from “faith-based” outlets, he promised to do it again.
Pompeo also refused the Congresswoman’s request to release a transcript of the call, or even the names of the invited participants, both of which would be standard operating procedure in any other administration. In fact, Congresswoman Wild called the decision to not release a transcript, “highly unusual.”
“To me, this instance raises concerns about First Amendment violations,” Rep. Wild noted. “The administration should not be granting some media outlets access to briefings, while selectively excluding others based on the administration’s preferences.”
Almost mockingly, Sec. Pompeo told Rep. Wild he talks to the press frequently, “and when I do I don’t release transcripts of those conversations.”
“Those are interviews that I grant to individual reporters. They write certain pieces of it and certain other pieces they don’t,” Pompeo said, glibly. “This was, this was no different from that in any material respect.”
“I am confident I will do so again,” he said, smugly.
Asked point-blank, “Will you release a transcript of that briefing?” Pompeo smugly replied, “No.”
“Will you identify who the participants were in that briefing?”
“No,” he again responded, smugly.
Pompeo went on to defend his positions by claiming “every Secretary of State that I’m aware of has done so consistently.” He mentioned several, but not Sec. Hillary Clinton.
Later in her questioning Rep. Wild questioned Pompeo on his trips to Iowa, Texas, and Kansas – areas political candidates visit to advance their political ambitions. He is rumored to be considering a run for the governorship of his home state of Kansas.
Apparently feeling that the questioning was somehow beneath him, Pompeo sarcastically replied, “Look, it’s true: I did not visit Martha’s Vineyard.”
What the Secretary refuses to admit or even acknowledge about his concerning conference call is that this was a briefing on “international religious freedom,” which means policy – and the American people have a right to know about policy the administration is enacting. More so, because Pompeo limited the call to “faith-based” outlets only, the appearance of a potential First Amendment violation is apparent. Based on a reported list of which outlets asked questions on that call, it appears no reporters from Muslim-based outlets were invited.
Secretary Pompeo is an evangelical Christian who has discussed the Rapture while speaking to a group of CIA officers while serving as the head of CIA, and he has framed battles in the Middle East as religious wars.
Rep. Wild: “Will you release a transcript of that briefing?
Secretary Pompeo: “No.”
Wild: “Will you identify who the participants were in that briefing?”
Pompeo: “No….It’s something that every Secretary of State that I’m aware of has done consistently…” pic.twitter.com/5MdDABp0Ul
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 27, 2019
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‘Absolute Fealty at All Times’: New Report Details the Degrading Demands Trump Places on His Aides
In a report for the Washington Post on Thursday, reporters Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker outlined the grueling and “Kafkaesque” standards President Donald Trump places demands of his aides — standards that now-former National Security Adviser John Bolton failed to live up to.
“He tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times,” they wrote.
One anonymous source for the piece explained how his demanding nature is also, at times, excruciatingly paradoxical:
“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”
Anthony Scaramucci described the role of Trump’s staff in particularly degrading terms. In his view, Trump wants “catatonic loyalty” and for his people to act as props. Others told the Post that Trump likes to stage disagreements between his aides and then “play emperor” and decide the winner.
Dozens of Trump aides and appointees have fallen from his grace and been ousted from the administration for failing to play the dutiful role to perfection: former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, former Chief of Staff John Kelly, and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, to name just a few.
Notably, Bolton wasn’t going to be a prop in this game. When Bolton entered the White House, it was clear to most observers — though apparently not Trump — that he was committed to enacting his vision of foreign policy, one that contrasted sharply with the president’s preferences. It seems Trump appreciated and tolerated Bolton at times, but Bolton’s goal was to manipulate the president in the end. Once even Trump realized that Bolton wasn’t just a tough-guy war-monger stage prop, but an ideologue using the president for his own purposes, he had to go.
The piece interestingly doesn’t mention the roles of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, in the White House. They seem to defy the usual standards for Trump’s aides, and he clearly doesn’t view them as disposable, like a chief of staff or a national security adviser. Being family is different.
But the piece also doesn’t address some of the outlier aides in Trump’s orbit. Why have, for example, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller stuck around so long? How did they avoid the fate of so many others — especially when they both have gotten their fair share of bad press?
Fundamentally, though, the account rings true for the vast majority of Trump’s people. For example, consider that, in the video that sparked the “Sharpiegate” story, Trump had the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan sitting off to the side, voiceless, acting like a prop and displaying the doctored weather map:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 4, 2019
Homophobic Bully Franklin Graham Goes After Pete Buttigieg – Again
Franklin Graham is singling out and attacking Democratic presidential candidate and mayor Pete Buttigieg once again. Not former Vice President Joe Biden, not Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, or Amy Klobuchar. Not Andrew Yang. Not former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. And not former housing secretary Julián Castro.
Just Pete Buttigieg.
It’s not the first time the Christian evangelical sometimes missionary sometimes political activist has attacked the mayor from South Bend, Indiana either.
And it’s not like Buttigieg holds policy positions that are so glaringly different from any of the other top ten Democratic presidential candidates that Graham was forced to speak out.
Franklin Graham is attacking Pete Buttigieg because Pete Buttigieg supports same-sex marriage and a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
The same policies that are in the Democratic National Committee’s platform, that every elected national Democratic politician (except one) has supported, many for nearly a decade, if not longer.
So really, Graham is singling out Buttigieg because Buttigieg is gay. It’s homophobic bullying, the kind of bullying one might have expected from an elementary school kid. Maybe. It’s juvenile. it’s pathetic. And it’s wrong – not that Buttigieg needs anyone’s help to defend himself.
Graham is using Buttigieg’s family, and his religion, to attack him.
“Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been speaking openly about his support for abortion, which he says is a woman’s right to choose,” Graham wrote to his nearly eight million Facebook followers this week. “That’s a crock.”
“No one has the right to choose murder,” Graham continued.
“Pastor Rhyan Glezman, who is the brother of the man Mayor Pete is married to said, ‘I feel a sense of responsibility and stewardship of my faith to stand up and say something, to say, ‘No, that’s not true.'”
“Mayor Pete is trying to tell people that the homosexual lifestyle is okay with God and that abortion is okay. His brother-in-law is right when he said, ‘This is leading people astray and it’s very, very dangerous.’ God defines right and wrong, not us. As Christians, we are to live by the standards He gives us in His Word. ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me..’ (Isaiah 45:5).”
On Facebook, Graham points his followers to an article at the far right website Townhall, “Mayor Pete Uses The Bible To Redefine When Life Begins And Now His Family Wants Him To Repent.”
Curiously, Graham finds it convenient to acknowledge Buttigieg’s brother-in-law when he refuses to acknowledge Buttigieg’s marriage.
In the recent past Graham has attacked Buttigieg, saying he will suffer “eternal damnation” if he does not “repent” his homosexuality.
His Broken Promise on the Economy Made George H.W. Bush a One-Term President – Trump’s Lies on the Economy May Do the Same
President Donald Trump may end up a one-term president, given he seems to be walking in President George H.W. Bush’s footsteps says a former economics assistant professor in his column at Bloomberg Opinion.
Trump’s tariffs, if they all go into effect, “will amount to a $200 billion annual tax increase,” writes Karl Smith. “That’s larger than the $165 billion average annual reduction in 2017’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act.”
As it is, most Americans say they didn’t feel the Trump tax cuts, and that’s likely because they were designed to greatly benefit the wealthy – despite Trump’s lies to the contrary.
“If fully implemented, this next phase of Trump’s tariffs will cost the average household up to $1,795 per year — $495 more than the bank’s estimate of the average increase in disposable income from tax reform,” Smith reveals.
“In his 1988 campaign, Bush famously asked the public to read his lips when he promised ‘no new taxes,'” Smith writes.
It was August 18, 1988. Take a look:
“The final package included increases in both income and payroll taxes and went into effect in 1991. In the next year’s campaign, Bush had to deal with rising unemployment and withering criticism in both the primary and the general election over his decision to go back on his pledge.”
“Bush’s brazen break with Republican orthodoxy, along with a sluggish economy and broken promises, made him a one-term president. If Trump’s not careful, he may join him,” he observes.
Indeed, recession fears are spiking, it’s clear – and economists tell us – the economy is already slowing down. And just last week Trump’s own Dept. of Labor revealed the economy in 2018 produced 500,000 fewer jobs than originally thought.
Trump of course will never, ever acknowledge that he’s effectively raising taxes, because he lies habitually, cannot ever admit mistakes, and repeatedly – and falsely – continues to claim that China is paying the tariffs, which most Americans now know is a load of malarkey.
“This combination of weak growth, a rising tax burden and broken promises echoes the 1992 election. In addition, Trump is already accumulating primary challengers who will no doubt criticize him for his failure to deliver. When the Democrats pile on, it will be that much harder for the president to make his case for re-election,” Smith says.
He’s right, and it will be expensive for most Americans. And perhaps, finally, something will cost President Trump the White House.
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