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Both houses of Parliament returned from summer recess today.

The Commons debated on whether to raise tax on National Insurance (Social Security, to my American readers) by 1% to meet ‘social care’ needs. I put that in quotes because, as ITV’s Robert Peston wrote on Sunday, September 5, there is no social care programme from the Conservatives yet, so proceeds from the tax increase will be used for the NHS, post-pandemic. Emphases in purple mine:

Election manifestos are contracts with voters. Under our parliamentary system, their promises are supposed to be broken only in exceptional and extreme circumstances.

Boris Johnson‘s manifesto, his contract with us that he effectively signed in December 2019, said “I guarantee we will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance“.

barring a full-scale cabinet revolt that forces a climbdown – he will break that guarantee, with a rise of 1.25% in the rates of national insurance paid by employees and employers to raise more than £10bn a year.

So does the Covid-19 crisis, and its deleterious impact on the public finances, represent the kind of crisis that most people would see as rendering the manifesto null and void, as in effect triggering what in business would be called a “force majeure” clause?

Strikingly, I cannot find a single member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet who argues national insurance should rise

This does not look like laser-like targeted help, a rare example of benign hypothecation. For most ministers, the NI rise is billions being poured into a huge and fuzzy health-and-care black hole, without even the fig leaf of a half-plan to ensure the money is spent properly.

Spending the money properly is an important consideration. The NHS, laudable as it is in principle, needs looking at with regard to how it runs on a day-to-day basis.

Last week, an NHS blog post for senior management made the rounds in the UK. Guido Fawkes picked up on it today.

Amazingly, it was written by a senior manager at the Nursing and Midwifery Council. She has a degree in American Studies.

Perhaps I’m dated, but aren’t nurses and midwives there to care for patients’ health and new mothers’ wellbeing?

If tax has to be raised, then let us ensure it is spent on patient care.

Returning to Robert Peston’s article, here are the three reasons why government ministers are concerned about this tax rise:

On the one hand, it is supposed to put the social care system – long-term care for the elderly and frail – on a sustainable financial footing.

Which would be all very well, except there has been no published government report on Johnson’s watch of the social care sector’s needs, despite his assurance that such a plan exists.

Second, most of the new billions will be going in the first few years to the NHS, to help it catch up with the backlog of millions of operations, procedures and treatments, that have been delayed by the invasion of Covid-19

Third, ministers and the PM’s MPs recognise that national insurance is not necessarily the fairest tax to use to raise funds for services that are predominantly of use to the oldest, since it isn’t levied on those who reach retirement age, and is levied even on young people with very low earnings.

This matters, given that both the financial crisis of 2007-9 and the Covid-19 crisis had the most damaging economic impact on young people, and the finances of the older generation largely improved.

Johnson wants to be seen as a One Nation PM.

But in taxing the young disproportionately, he looks like someone penalising younger Labour voters to protect older Tory ones.

Incidentally, today’s debate on the National Insurance Contributions Bill was unrelated to the proposed tax rise:

Returning to financing the NHS with a rise in National Insurance: an increase of 1% sounds small, but it isn’t. The first tweet is from the Economics Editor for the Financial Times. James McKintosh is from The Wall Street Journal:

No one interviewed on GB News — whether Liberal Democrat, Labour-leaning journalists or Conservatives — thought that raising tax on National Insurance was a good idea.

On Sunday morning, Dehenna Davison, the first Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland in the north of England, held up a copy of the 2019 party manifesto which clearly says that the main three taxes will not be increased. Arlene Foster, former DUP MP, must be happy she’s out of Westminster:

Guido Fawkes has come up with more opposition:

Robert Peston says that Boris is likely to get his way and use a cabinet reshuffle as a threat to comply:

The rumours of a Thursday reshuffle may be the PM’s Stalin-lite threat to colleagues to back him or risk demotion or even exile to the backbenches.

But even without that threat, Johnson’s not in serious trouble. Remember he picked his cabinet for loyalty not backbone.

Boris is gambling on Keir Starmer’s weakness as Leader of the Opposition.

However, Starmer won’t always be Labour leader. The next one will remember this and pin it on low-taxation Conservatives at the next election; we can be sure of that:

Johnson will get his tax. And whether he likes it or not, it will always have his name on it.

Boris, a keen student of history, would do well to remember what happened to Bush I when he ran for re-election in 1992. In 1988, he promised ‘no new taxes’. Taxes went up under his watch. Bill Clinton won in 1992 with ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ and served two terms.

My message to Boris is ‘Danger, Will Robinson. Danger’.

On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, a retired CIA man, Douglas London, wrote an article for Just Security: ‘CIA’s Former Counterterrorism Chief for the Region: Afghanistan, Not An Intelligence Failure — Something Much Worse’:

Douglas London is that former counterterrorism chief. He worked for the CIA for 34 years. Nowadays, he teaches at Georgetown University, is a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute and is author of the book The Recruiter, which details the changes in the CIA post-9/11.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Until his retirement in 2019, he was responsible for preparing security assessments for President Trump about Afghanistan. He volunteered in the same capacity for then-candidate Joe Biden.

Withdrawal — how and when?

He writes that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has long been predicated with ‘what-if’ scenarios (emphasis in the original, those in purple mine):

The U.S. Intelligence Community assessed Afghanistan’s fortunes according to various scenarios and conditions and depending on the multiple policy alternatives from which the president could choose. So, was it 30 days from withdrawal to collapse? 60? 18 months? Actually, it was all of the above, the projections aligning with the various “what ifs.”  Ultimately, it was assessed, Afghan forces might capitulate within days under the circumstances we witnessed, in projections highlighted to Trump officials and future Biden officials alike.

He says that Biden and Trump viewed withdrawal differently, citing Biden’s speech of August 16 (emphases mine):

In his prepared remarks on Monday, President Biden stated, “But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you.  The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.” That’s misleading at best. The CIA anticipated it as a possible scenario.

By early 2018, it was clear President Trump wanted out of Afghanistan regardless of the alarming outcomes the intelligence community cautioned. But he likewise did not want to preside over the nightmarish scenes we’ve witnessed. Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the principal architect of America’s engagement with the Taliban that culminated with the catastrophic February 2020 withdrawal agreement, terms intended to get the president through the coming elections. Pompeo championed the plan despite the intelligence community’s caution that its two key objectives– securing the Taliban’s commitment to break with al-Qa’ida and pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict — were highly unlikely.

Douglas London outlines the various scenarios:

Scenarios for an orderly withdrawal ranged from those in which the United States retained roughly 5,000 troops and most of the existing forward military and intelligence operating bases, to what was determined to be the minimum presence of around 2,500 troops maintaining the larger bases in greater Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Khost, as well as the infrastructure to support the bases we would turn over to Afghan partners. The larger of these two options was judged more likely to prevent Afghanistan’s collapse for 1-2 years and still provide for a degree of continued U.S. counterterrorism pressure; the smaller footprint was more difficult to assess but allowed flexibility for the United States to increase or further reduce its presence should circumstances rapidly deteriorate. (It would be valuable if commentators and news coverage included a greater appreciation of how such contingency-based assessments work rather than conflating assessments.)

Initially, even a “Kabul only” option included the retention of the sprawling U.S. Bagram Air Base and other intelligence facilities in the greater capital area through which the United States could project force, maintain essential logistical, intelligence and medical support to Afghan operated bases, and retain some technical intelligence collection and counterterrorist capability across the country. But without any U.S. military and intelligence presence beyond the Embassy in Kabul, faced with a Taliban military and propaganda offensive, and undermined by Ghani’s fractious relationship with his own national political partners, the intelligence community warned the government could dissolve in days. And so it went.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a questionable special representative

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was America’s special representative during the Trump administration’s negotiations.

In 2018, he was a private citizen who had contacts with a number of Afghans. Douglas London said that the intelligence community did not trust him because he was:

dabbling on his own in 2018 with a variety of dubious Afghan interlocutors against whom the intelligence community warned, trying opportunistically to get “back inside.” Undaunted, his end around to Pompeo and the White House pledging to secure the deal Trump needed which the president’s own intelligence, military and diplomatic professionals claimed was not possible absent a position of greater strength, was enthusiastically received. Our impression was that Khalilzad was angling to be Trump’s Secretary of State in a new administration, were he to win, and would essentially do or say what he was told to secure his future by pleasing the mercurial president, including his steady compromise of whatever leverage the United States had to incentivize Taliban compromises.

Because the withdrawal plan was popular with voters in 2020, the Biden camp also endorsed it:

Moreover, from my perspective, they appeared to believe that negative consequences would be at least largely owned by Trump, the GOP, and Khalilzad, whose being left in place, intentionally or not, allowed him to serve even more so as a fall guy. For the candidate, who had long advocated withdrawal, the outcome was, as it had been with Trump, a foregone conclusion despite what many among his counterterrorism advisors counselled. President Biden himself has said as much in terms of his mind being made up.

There was a rather naïve confidence among Biden’s more influential foreign policy advisors that the Taliban’s best interests were served by adhering to the agreement’s main points. Doing so, they argued, would guarantee the U.S. withdrawal, and leave room for more constructive engagement, possibly even aid, should the Taliban come to power.

The Taliban’s PR offensive

Meanwhile, the Taliban were becoming more aware of the importance of a PR offensive aimed at the West:

The Taliban learned a great deal about the utility of PR since 2001, and maximized their access to Western media as highlighted by Taliban deputy and Haqqani Taliban Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani’s apparently ghost written New York Times OpEd. The reality, of course, as the intelligence community long maintained, was that the Taliban’s control over the country was predicated on isolation from the rest of the world, rather than integration. International recognition, global financial access, and foreign aid were not going to influence how the Taliban would rule.

Also:

Momentum the Taliban needed to secure their adversaries’ cooperation was facilitated by a robust propaganda machine that, in many instances, successfully manipulated the media into positive, disproportional coverage from the outset of their offensive in casting their conquest as inevitable. Neither the Afghan government nor the United States could ever effectively counter the Taliban’s persistent and savvy media efforts given the need to protect sources and methods, legal restraints, and an unfortunate lack in investment and imagination.

For Afghan politicians, money talks

Greasing palms is part of Afghan life among those in power locally and regionally. Money can also determine one’s political alliances, which can be fluid:

U.S. policy makers were also cautioned that the broad coalition of Afghan politicians, warlords and military leaders across the country benefiting from the money and power that came with a sustained U.S. presence were likely to lose confidence and hedge their bets were U.S. military forces and intelligence personnel to withdraw. Further, that President Ashraf Ghani’s stubborn resistance to the Afghan political practice of buying support and his dismantling of the warlords’ private armies would weaken their incentives to support the government. Switching sides for a better deal or to fight another day is a hallmark of Afghan history. And U.S. policy to impose an American blueprint for a strong central government and integrated national army served only to enable Ghani’s disastrous and uncompromising stewardship.

On that topic, Britain’s talkRADIO has been interviewing another seasoned American counterintelligence specialist, Malcolm Nance, who said that, over the past year at least, the Taliban were co-opting other Afghans, including those from the country’s Western-backed army.

He said that it did not have to be that way, since he went into Afghanistan in November 2001. The US could have done the job in short order, had Bush II not switched priorities to Iraq:

Keeping the money aspect in mind, Douglas London describes how the 2021 debacle unfolded. Al Qa’ida also played a part:

The clock began to accelerate when US military and intelligence elements withdrew from Kandahar on May 13, and thereafter closed remaining forward operating bases and “lily pads,” the term used for temporary staging areas under U.S. or coalition control. By the time Bagram was closed on July 1, the United States and NATO had also departed Herat, Mazar I Sharif, Jalalabad, Khost and other locations I am not at liberty to name. The Taliban was moving in even as we were packing up. They were quite likely joined by the many al-Qa’ida members (some of whom had enjoyed Iranian sanctuary),-if not direct operational support, augmented further by recently released comrades the Taliban set free from Afghan detention at Bagram and elsewhere.

Policy makers were also aware of the Taliban’s effective use of a parallel “shadow government” structure maintained since losing power that provided for reliable lines of communication with local elders across the provinces, as well as government authorities, often owing to shared family or clan connections. To an American it might be surprising, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for an Afghan military commander or police chief to be in regular contact even with those faced daily in combat.

The Taliban was thus well positioned to negotiate and buy rather than fight their way to successive conquests, itself an Afghan tradition. Moreover, the Taliban was prepared to quickly rule and provide services in the territories coming under its control. And by prioritizing the periphery to secure borders and the lines of communication required to sustain an insurgency, striking first from where they were defeated in 2001, the Taliban clearly learned from history, whereas we still have not. But where did the money come from to finance this campaign?

Persuading low level government fighters and functionaries to turnover their weapons and abandon their posts was well within the Taliban’s means, but it was undoubtedly more expensive securing the cooperation of senior officials with the authority to surrender provincial capitals. Layer on that the need to pay the surge of their own fighters, many of them essentially part-time and seasonal. Payroll and care for the families of fighters killed and wounded is often the greatest expense for the Taliban and its terrorist partner groups, and in Afghanistan, likewise the most important incentive to attract fighters.

Where Taliban money comes from

The Taliban finance themselves from a variety of sources, from drug trafficking to donations from other foreign countries:

The Taliban’s finances are complicated, more so by a structure which is not monolithic, and heavily dependent on the vast international criminal network operated by the Haqqani Taliban Network in the East, and somewhat autonomous regional commanders in the West. Revenues are variously drawn from taxes imposed on locals, narcotics trafficking, foreign donations-largely from Arab Gulf countries, real estate (some of which is abroad), the extortion of mining companies operating in areas under their control–many of which are Chinese government parastatals, and other foreign governments. Pakistan has long been a principal backer, but Russia and Iran increased their investments to court the group in recent years. Moreover, both benefited decidedly from the Taliban’s swift, bloodless conquest that expeditiously purged and humiliated the United States, and minimized what might have been a violent, prolonged fight that increased regional instability and the flow of refugees.

Dichotomy between US Department of Defense and CIA

Douglas London noted the disparity of opinion between the Department of Defense and the CIA:

in grading their own homework, the U.S. defense establishment only exacerbated the problem. While it’s little surprise the Department of Defense was unwilling to objectively evaluate the resolve and capacity of those they trained, equipped, and advised to resist a forthcoming Taliban offensive, their rose-colored depictions of achievement over 20 years flew in the face of reality, and was consistently challenged by the CIA’s more gloomy, albeit realistic projections.

Conclusion

He concludes:

there was no intelligence failure by the agency in warning either Trump or Biden as to how events would play out. Operating in the shadows and “supporting the White House” will prevent the intelligence community from publicly defending itself. But the failure was not due to any lack of warning, but rather the hubris and political risk calculus of decision makers whose choices are too often made in their personal and political interest or with pre-committed policy choices, rather than influenced by (sometimes inconvenient) intelligence assessments and the full interests of the country.

It is difficult to see how the Afghanistan debacle can ever be rectified now, especially after 20 years.

As to what happens going forward, unfortunately, the grim possibilities are endless.

More on Afghanistan tomorrow.

Many of President Trump’s supporters wonder why more wasn’t done to investigate the 2020 presidential election.

A number of people in the Trump administration could have been responsible, singly or collectively.

Some were in denial. Some placed career before ethics.

One person who was a great disappointment to many Americans was former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Below is what happened month by month after the election.

November

Not everyone was as hopeful that Barr would address the election results as the woman who sent this tweet last November 6 (more here on the Nevada story):

Our hopes were raised on November 9, when Barr went to meet with then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He did not speak to reporters. We remembered that, on September 2, Barr told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that universal mail-in ballots were a recipe for disaster:

This is playing with fire… very open to fraud and coercion.

On November 11, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson — a former Democrat and currently independent voter — wrote an excellent article for Gateway Pundit: ‘What Is Bill Barr Going to Do?’

Excerpts follow. Everything made sense, especially at that time. Furthermore, Larry Johnson is rarely wrong (emphases mine):

I have a dear friend who knows Barr very well. Rarely does he show this kind of visceral anger. I find it difficult to believe that in the ensuing two months, Barr has decided to curl up into a fetal position and allow the Republic to be eviscerated.

Now look at the actions on Monday. Barr, following DOJ protocol, sent a letter authorizing federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities. That same day, the DOJ official in charge of voter fraud investigations, Richard Pilger, resigned.

Pilger is a compromised deep stater. I believe his resignation was, at a minimum, encouraged by Barr.

In tandem with the DOJ moves, President Trump fired Secretary of Defense Esper. The reason, I believe is simple–Trump wanted to ensure he had someone running the DOD who was not going to meddle in domestic politics. Trump followed up by installing Kash Patel, a National Security Council official and former congressional aide as chief of staff to new acting Defense Secretary.

Trump and Barr are not rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. They are making sure that loyal people are in place who will ensure that the orders of the President are enforced.

To understand what Barr is preparing to confront you must understand the following. I will put it simply–there was an organized conspiracy to interfere in the Presidential election and thwart the will of the voters.

He concludes:

I do not know what the Attorney General is going to do. But, he is not going to ignore evidence. Based on his emotional defense of the voting system when interviewed by Wolf Blitzer, I do not believe he is going to let this slide. Stay hopeful.

I’ve been reading Larry Johnson since 2008. This is the first time that he has been wrong.

RedState had an equally encouraging article, ‘Pay No Attention to the Drama Queen at DOJ Who Resigned after AG Barr Authorised Fraud Investigations’.

It discussed Pilger’s resignation and concluded:

If you are an election official or poll worker, you cannot purposely procure or tabulate fraudulent votes. It’s a crime. It is a crime by the specific individuals involved. The investigation may or may not impact the vote totals in the election, but that is not a consideration for whether or not to investigate and determine if criminal activity took place.

But, missing from much of the coverage of what Barr did today is the most significant point — what his statement did was authorize the use of federal grand juries to gather evidence.

FBI agents will often conduct interviews and gather evidence without the benefit of grand jury assistance. But federal prosecutors don’t go forward with new cases without opening up a grand jury matter.

THIS is what the left-wing pundit class is so alarmed about over AG Barr’s announcement.

An article by Thomas Lifson for American Thinker cited RedState’s article heavily and ended with this note of optimism:

We don’t know what evidence will be uncovered with grand jury subpoenas in hand, but with these tools available, the fraud that is self-evident when poll-watchers are excluded, when the counting of votes mysteriously is shut down at 2 A.M. in Democrat strongholds of Philadelphia, Detroit, and Milwaukee and Trump majorities promptly disappear in their key states, the odds look pretty good for President Trump.

Yet, Newsmax‘s Emerald Robinson, was already suspicious of Barr, as early as November 12. I will come back below to the first response she received about Biden’s transition team as well as to the one about ‘brilliant slow-walkers’:

December

Interestingly, and much to the disappointment of Trump voters, on Tuesday, December 1, Bill Barr said that there had been no evidence of voter fraud.

Breitbart reported:

Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, according to an interview he gave to the Associated Press.

Barr reportedly told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up on specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they have uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” he said.

Last month, Barr issued a memo authorizing U.S. attorneys to pursue substantial allegations of voting irregularities before the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Barr said there was no evidence yet to substantiate systemic machine fraud.

“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” he said

President Trump’s legal team for his campaign issued this statement in response (click to see the full statement):

Lin Wood, a respected lawyer who was working with that team tweeted:

“Fair questions for AG Bill Barr: 1. Did you investigate voting fraud? 2. What did you do? 3. What did you find? 4. How much time did you spend? 5. Were experts involved? 6. How many Dominion machines analyzed? 7. How many poll watchers interviewed? We foot bill. We need answers.” / Twitter

Another Newsmax presenter, Greg Kelly tweeted:

Meanwhile, Bill Barr’s presence had been requested at the White House:

On Saturday, December 12, President Trump tweeted about Barr:

“A big disappointment!” / Twitter

Between then and Monday, December 14, Barr resigned.

Lin Wood still had hope:

Bill Barr is a Patriot. His letter to @realDonaldTrump was excellent. I believe Barr will announce major moves before 12/23 but does not want to stay to prosecute. He has done his job & served country well. New AG & assistants will prosecute the massive number of cases coming.” / Twitter

On December 14, Trump tweeted:

Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family…” / Twitter

However, not everyone was convinced of Barr’s ‘outstanding job’.

The next day, December 15, Herschel Smith from The Captain’s Journal posted ‘William Barr Is A Deep State Hack And Coverup Artist’. Much of it concerns Barr’s involvement in Ruby Ridge in 1992. Barr was in charge of the Department of Justice at the time.

Herschel Smith’s article says:

It appears that Trump has finally let Barr goToo bad he ever hired him in the first placeI said back when Barr was hired that he was deep state and couldn’t be trusted except to do everything in his power to undermine the administration

George Webb notes his time studying these things, and if you’ll advance to the 12:45 mark of this video, you hear that Barr recommended that Clinton run for president, and managed to cover up the Clinton drug dealing from Arkansas, as well as Enron and many other scandalsHe was (and is) a cover-up artist.

Trump has little to no discernment, and surrounded himself with awful people for the complete four years of his administrationThis is why he will no longer be president I repeat myself, but a mechanic working at the FN Herstal plant in Columbia, S.C., could have done a better job at fighting the deep state – but certainly not at ensuring its survival, like William Barr did.

Two days later, on Thursday, December 17, Jeff Carlson, a contributor to the Epoch Times, posted a Twitter thread on Barr. The first few go some way to explain why Trump supporters trusted Barr — I never did, although I briefly had hope last November. Then Barr displayed his true intentions by refusing to look into Hunter Biden and last year’s election:

On Monday, December 21, Barr confirmed he would neither investigate 2020 election fraud nor Hunter Biden. Breitbart reported:

Attorney General William Barr, who is stepping down, stated during his final press conference Monday that he sees “no reason” to appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election or the ongoing investigation into the taxes of President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

“I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Barr said.

He said the investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings are “being handled responsibly and professionally.”

CBS News posted a video clip:

Dr Steve Pieczenik, who has had a long career in intelligence and is a best-selling author, reminded us of Barr’s father’s background. Donald Barr was the headmaster of Dalton School in Manhattan. In the early 1970s, he hired a young teacher by the name of Jeffrey Epstein. Yes, the same one who might be dead or alive right now.

Donald Barr also wrote a rather strange science fiction book, about which Pieczenik tweeted:

He thinks there might be some connection between Barr’s father hiring Epstein and Barr’s reticence to pursue justice:

Barr’s last day in the Trump administration was Christmas Eve.

On New Year’s Eve, someone tweeted a link to a 2019 article from Forbes about Bill Barr’s lucrative career, built when he was working in the private sector.

He was working at the former telephone giant, GTE Corporation, in the 1990s, after having been part of Bush I’s administration:

When GTE merged with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon in 2000, Barr stayed onboard as executive vice president and general counsel. From 2001 to 2007, he raked in an average of $1.7 million in annual salary and bonuses, according to documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Barr also received valuable stock options, some of which he traded while at the company, collecting an estimated $3 million after taxes from 2003 to 2007.

The Verizon job came with other benefits. Barr got a $31,000 flexible spending allowance, $10,000 or so for financial planning, plus use of the company jet for personal purposes. The biggest benefit, however, came upon retirement. Barr stepped down from the company at the end of 2008, receiving a $17.1 million distribution from Verizon’s income deferral plan, according to an SEC filing. On top of that, company documents also detail an additional $10.4 million separation payment for Barr.

Barr only retired from the 9-to-5 routine. In 2009, he joined the boards of two publicly traded companies, Dominion Resources (now Dominion Energy) — an American power and energy company (nothing to do with voting machines!) founded in Virginia, the Dominion State — and Time Warner:

From 2009 to 2018, Dominion paid Barr $1.2 million in cash and granted him another $1.1 million in stock awards, according to SEC filings.

Time Warner paid him $970,000 in cash and $1 million in equity awards for serving on its board from 2009 to 2016, when the company agreed to combine with AT&T. That deal was lucrative for Barr—he disclosed $1.7 million of income related to it on his financial disclosure report. But the merger was troubling to Trump, whose Justice Department tried to block it. During his confirmation hearing, Barr promised to recuse himself from the case as attorney general.

Before joining the Trump administration, Barr worked for the well-known American law firm, Kirkland & Ellis.

January

Anyone who read Barr’s Wikipedia entry when Trump hired him would have found Barr’s deep connection with Bush I. That was the detail that caused me not to trust him. However, a lot of people, especially Trump supporters, refuse to ever look at it. As such, they fell for Barr: ‘President Trump never would have hired him if he were no good’. Really? I do wish they weren’t so naive.

On New Year’s Day, Ethan Huff posted an article on Natural News which gives Barr’s full background: ‘Bill Barr has been an American traitor since at least 1992’. It’s well worth reading and worth noting this:

Conservatives must be suffering from some kind of amnesia because it is common knowledge that Barr worked back in the early ’90s as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, one of the most corrupt swamp creatures in our nation’s history. Like Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Barr has been a staple in establishment politics for decades, having spearheaded some of the earliest known instances of warrantless surveillance against innocent Americans, as one prominent example.

“The Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr launched a vast surveillance program that gathered records of innocent Americans’ international phone calls without first conducting a review of whether it was legal,” reports explain. “It happened in 1992, the last time Barr served as attorney general.”

Long before George W. Bush, “papa” Bush’s son, took occupation of the White House and subjected us all to the “Patriot Act,” Barr was illegally surveilling Americans without a warrant. This would explain why Barr, during his more recent tenure, declared that the Obama administration had not committed any crimes when they illegally surveilled the incoming Trump administration.

Barr also knew current Chief Justice John Roberts and others who were less than friendly towards President Trump:

Another individual who has been complicit in illegal spying is Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees the secret court where the FBI filed its phony FISA warrants signed by James Comey, fueling the “Russian collusion” conspiracy theory that resulted in President Donald Trump being impeached.

Justice Roberts signed off on all of these phony warrants, demonstrating where his true loyalties lie. This means that Barr and Roberts are two peas in a pod who worked in tandem during Trump’s time in office to undermine all efforts to hold Obama et al. responsible for committing treason – which makes Barr and Roberts complicit in treason as well.

The article concludes:

Giving Trump a free pass for all of this by claiming that he was “tricked” or “fooled” by people he thought he could trust simply does not pass muster anymore. If Trump is really an outsider like many conservatives continue to claim he is, then he could have, and really should have, rooted out Barr, and before him Jeff Sessions, much more quickly – or better yet, never hired them in the first place.

I disagree with the last sentence. Trump’s hands were tied. He was told whom to appoint and whom he could not fire. That proves he was an outsider.

On January 18, National File posted ‘SUBVERSION: Bill Barr Told Trump Election Fraud Claims Were ‘Bulls**t’, Protected BLM Rioters From Insurrection Act, And Blocked Snowden Pardon’ with the following sub-title, although I think they meant ‘every turn’ rather than ‘every term’:

Bagpipe enthusiast Bill Barr’s final months were devoted to subverting the shattered remains of President Trump’s America First’s agenda at every term

An excerpt follows; all details are within the article:

A new report from left-wing outlet Axios details multiple instances of former Attorney General Bill Barr actively working to ensure that President Trump’s political agenda failed on multiple fronts, including suppression of violent left-wing riots and protecting election integrity. National File has previously reported on Barr’s questionable background and behavior during his tenure in the Trump administration.

Though the Axios piece vigorously portrays Trump in a negative light while glorifying Barr, the anecdotes contained within are nonetheless damning for the former AG.

There’s also this about the Jeffrey Epstein case:

National File has previously reported on Barr’s family ties to the late pedophile sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, which included the hiring of Epstein to a teaching position at Dalton prep school by Barr’s father, and Barr’s recusal from the Epstein case after admitting that “one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm I subsequently joined for a period of time.”

On January 19, Barr seemed to accuse President Trump of fomenting violence at the Capitol because he spoke about election fraud:

Wolf Moon, a firm Trump supporter, posted ‘Barr Lied, Justice Died’ on January 23. He believes that the drive among Washington’s key players extended from 2016 all the way to his exit on January 20, 2021. He thinks they:

decided that Trump needed to fed into an “exit program” that would eliminate him at the NEXT election – November 3, 2020. They lengthened their plotline to make sure it would WORK.

And how did they do that?

By “saving” Trump from their 2016 trap, while COVERING IT UP, but PREPARING for their 2020 trap.

It was SUCH a beautiful idea. SUCH a beautiful idea. Few plots in human history were ever as ingenious as the Barr plot. “RESCUE” Trump to give Barr credibility. Then use that credibility to IGNORE and then DENY the 2020 stolen election plot.

Barr is not STUPID. He knew exactly what he was doing.

And it is my PRIVILEGE as a simple honest human being to unmask him.

THERE WILL BE JUSTICE.

I hope there will be justice one day.

February

One of the replies to Emerald Robinson’s tweets at the top of this post talked about ‘slow-walkers’ in the Trump administration, loosely referring to Bill Barr.

On Sunday, February 7, Trump’s former trade advisor Peter Navarro was on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News programme, Sunday Morning Futures. He was livid.

He said that he had many drafted Executive Orders that required approval from Bill Barr on which he (Navarro) was waiting. There was no action from Barr. Barr was slow-walking them.

Navarro alleges that, instead of approving the text and content for EOs that Trump would sign, Barr was too busy approving Joe Biden’s incoming EOs!

This is a must watch. It’s only five-and-a-half minutes long:

Conclusion

Bill Barr is just one more reason why Trump is quiet these days.

Either here or elsewhere, I dubbed him ‘Bad News’ Barr from the get go. I believed that 99% of the time, except briefly last November.

However, Bill Barr was not the only person involved in the end of Trump’s presidential story.

There will be other characters and scenarios to follow. Stay tuned.

It’s bad enough being laid off during the coronavirus outbreak.

Imagine how bad it is when the emergency paycheck funding pot is empty and the Democrat-dominated House won’t vote to replenish it. Here is the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky):

So do I.

The following video from James Corden’s show features Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at home around Easter. It’s a must watch. She has brand new, gleaming stainless steel freezers full of ice cream. I cannot believe she had the nerve to post this herself, yet she did:

That photo was taken at the Pelosi family estate in California.

How nice for them.

President Trump had a go at her over the inaction with regard to emergency paycheck funding:

He reminded people that Pelosi encouraged Californians to go to San Francisco for Chinese New Year celebrations:

There was intense Democrat reaction to Trump’s closing the border with China, where air traffic was concerned:

Also:

On the other side of the world, and related to this, an Australian MP points out what China was doing with regard to airspace:

And remember this from the WHO a week before?

Whatever is going on with the WHO, President Trump was right to withhold funds for the time being.

But Pelosi isn’t having any of it.

On April 17, Moonbattery reported:

Confirming yet again that the Democrat Party is not on America’s side, Nancy Pelosi set aside her designer ice cream long enough to rage over Trump sensibly suspending funding to the malign World Health Organization:

“This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said. …

Pelosi’s comments come after the president announced Tuesday that the United States would immediately halt funding for the health organization, saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures,” noting that the U.S. would undertake a 60-to-90 day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus spread.

The United States is the world’s largest donor to the WHO, a UN organisation (emphases mine):

The United States is the WHO’s largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the United States contributes roughly $400 million to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million.

Pelosi has her own interests at heart:

Why should Americans pay for a Chinese propaganda platform when we have our own urgent needs? Maybe because Pelosi is heavily invested in China.

Readers might also be interested in this:

The World Health Organization in Europe is asking government officials to restrict access to alcohol as citizens continue widespread lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As Moonbattery points out:

Even Stalin let his slaves drink vodka. The technocrats of the WHO make the communist dictator look like a libertarian.

Enough said.

However, it isn’t only Democrats opposing President Trump’s pandemic policies.

The Bushes are at it, too:

President Trump called it correctly then and he continues to take correct decisions now.

Given the current circumstances, this is probably the right thing to do, especially as an April 13 Ipsos poll found that eight out of ten Americans want a moratorium on immigration:

As for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic:

Even New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo had to give the federal government credit:

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how CNN and MSNBC know exactly when to pull the plug on the daily coronavirus briefings, a reporter explains all:

Returning to Nancy Pelosi, the Trump campaign team have made a short advert about her and her ice cream:

Excellent work.

Super Bowl LIV (54, in new money) took place on Candlemas, February 2, 2020.

It is hard to imagine any half-time display less worthy of a Sunday, let alone on an important feast day in the Church.

February 2 is also Groundhog Day, and that found its rightful place in the advertising.

Half-time show

Not being an American football fan, I did not watch any of it but saw tweets about the half-time show the next day. You’ll have to click on the link to see the content.

Was this family viewing?

Jeb! liked it, though:

Yes, it does sound creepy. Quite something for a convert to Catholicism and a Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus.

The self-described ‘Follower of Christ’, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) also enjoyed it. He gave the half-time show an A+:

The SGT Report wrote about child grooming on February 7, mentioning the half-time show. This excerpt begins after the introductory section about a mother who posed online as an 11-year-old (emphases mine):

This is the new face of how predators are grooming young girls (and boys) to be trafficked, molested and raped. However, it starts much earlier, with a culture that has brainwashed itself into believing that sexual freedom amounts to a Super Bowl half-time show in which barely-clad women spend 20 minutes twerking, gyrating (some of it on a stripper pole) and showing off sexually provocative dance moves.

This is part and parcel of the pornification of American culture

Pop culture and porn culture have become part of the same seamless continuum,” explains theatre historian and University of Illinois professor Mardia Bishop. “As these images become pervasive in popular culture, they become normalized… and… accepted.”

This foray into porn culture—the increasing acceptability and pervasiveness of sexualized imagery in mainstream media—is where pop culture takes a dark turn. “Visual images and narratives of music videos clearly have more potential to form attitudes, values, or perceptions of social reality than does the music alone,” notes author Douglas A. Gentile in his book Media Violence and Children. In fact, music videos are among the worst culprits constantly bombarding young people today with sexual images and references.

Screen time has become the primary culprit for the oversexualization of young people.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Mar a Lago party

President and Mrs Trump held a large private Super Bowl party at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach.

It looks as if they were filing in to the dining room during the half-time show. Actor Terrence K Williams was with them. Good for him:

The US president gave a pre-game show interview to Sean Hannity. This was before his third State of the Union address and his impeachment acquittal:

Advertising

The Super Bowl is the advertising world’s biggest day of the year.

Some American viewers are just as interested in the adverts as they are in the game, if not more so.

However, some advertising themes are more worthy than others:

That day, Ad Week posted ‘The 10 Best Super Bowl Ads of 2020’. They chose ads in reverse order for Porsche, Tide, Microsoft, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar, Snickers, Hyundai Sonata, Amazon Alexa, Google AI (artificial intelligence) and Jeep.

What, no Budweiser? Well, the iconic Clydesdales were nowhere to be seen — at least not this year.

Jeep won the top spot, in Ad Week‘s estimation. Those responding to Jeep in the tweet below also raved about it. I found it rather frustrating to watch. Then again, I never liked Groundhog Day:

Although this next video on Super Bowl LIV advertising is just under 20 minutes long, the two presenters from The Corbett Report offer an amusing, yet sound, critique of three adverts, which one of them chose to analyse:

The three adverts chosen have one running theme: artificial intelligence.

The first ad they played was Budweiser’s. It was poorly put together. This is because most of the advert shows an Alexa-type device in a young man’s flat. Where’s the brew, you might ask? Nowhere. Or maybe a bottle showed up briefly at the end. I don’t recall. (That is what makes it a bad ad.) This is a safety announcement about drinking responsibly. The Budweiser logo shows up only at the end.

The next advert the men looked at was the one Ad Week rated second (see above): Google’s. A man went through old photographs of his late wife Loretta and spoke to Google, narrating a caption for each photo. Each of his phrases began with the word ‘remember’. The helpful electronic Google assistant confirmed that it was logging all his captions.

The two presenters rightly pointed out that people were unwittingly posting their life stories to the cloud. How would Google use those data? How many thousands or millions of lives would be logged for Google’s use? Food for thought.

The third ad was for Verizon. It showed clips of first responders in emergency situations. Verizon’s superior network capabilities help them get to the scenes of accidents and fires that much quicker. What’s not to like, right? Yet, as The Corbett Report presenters said, pandering to the public’s emotions is a very slick and underhanded way of getting people to accept and rely on artificial intelligence.

So, we have Alexa monitoring one’s drink levels, Google ‘helping’ with memory problems and Verizon’s GPS (tracking) capabilities.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Next week: How Cannes Lions ad winners shape your worldview

Thursday, November 28, 2019, proved to be a memorable Thanksgiving in the United States and elsewhere — in Hong Kong.

This year’s Thanksgiving came later than usual. Country Living has an interesting article on how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt fixed the date for this American holiday. The article also says:

This year, the month of November begins on a Friday, which means the fourth Thursday of the month falls on Nov. 28—it’s the first time Thanksgiving has been this late since 2013.

The turkey pardon took place on Tuesday, November 26, at the White House. It is a relatively new tradition which began in 1989 under Bush I:

Americans could vote for either Bread or Butter to be pardoned:

This is the farmer who raised them:

Both turkeys went to Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech, where pardoned turkeys and their mates go to enjoy a pampered retirement. Agricultural students study them for research purposes.

The event includes invitations to people in the media and elsewhere who are friends of the current president. This year, Judge Jeanine of Fox News was among the supporters who attended.

President Trump gave a speech that day, which included this:

… it was George H.W. Bush who first issued an official pardon.

In keeping with that tradition, today I will issue a pardon to a pair of very handsome birds: Butter and his alternate, Bread. (Laughter.) …

Their names were chosen by the students of Harrells Christian Academy in North Carolina. Great state.

Bread and Butter were raised in Tar Heel State by farmer Wellie Jackson, who’s here with us with his wife Tara and their lovely family. And I want to thank you very much. Great job. Great job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

He made a few impeachment jokes:

Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday. (Laughter and applause.) It’s true. Hundreds of people have. It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey. (Laughter.)

On a serious note, President Trump had these words for the holiday:

This Thanksgiving, we bow our heads in gratitude for the newfound prosperity and spirit that’s taking place all across America. The country has never been more successful. Our military has been rebuilt. We captured the number-one terrorist in the world and killed the number-one terrorist in the world — al-Baghdadi. And I want to thank our military because there’s nothing like our military. (Applause.)

And I want to thank almighty God for the — shedding his grace on our nation. Our nation is special and we especially send our love to members of the United States Armed Forces serving all around the world. We are forever thankful for those who wear our nation’s uniform and the families who support them. The families are so important. They can never be the same without those great families. Because of their selfless service, millions of our follow Americans are celebrating another wonderful Thanksgiving in safety and in peace.

And it’s just a very special country, a very special place — the Rose Garden at the White House. If you’re looking back here, that’s the Oval Office. Some of you haven’t been here before. But every time we walk onto the grounds of the White House, we realize how special it is.

So now we reach the moment Bread and Butter have been waiting for so patiently — their presidential pardons. Melania and I wish all Americans a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. We love you all.

On Thursday, in the world of nature, Alaskan moose shared their own Thanksgiving meal:

Meanwhile, in the Lower 48, two beautiful turkeys enjoyed the day in freedom:

The skies had been busy with scheduled flights getting Americans home for Thanksgiving:

President Trump issued greetings:

Meanwhile, half a world away, Hong Kong residents held a Thanksgiving Day rally in appreciation of the signing of the Hong Kong Rights and Democracy Act:

Demonstrators carried photos of a mock-up Rocky picture recently tweeted from the president’s Twitter account:

Back in the United States, kids of all ages were delighted when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade television broadcast began.

New Yorkers enjoy it, too:

The New York Police Department have a huge role to play in ensuring all goes well:

For anyone wishing to distract children during the holiday period, here’s the 2019 parade in full: all two hours of it. I used to love watching this as a kid, so I’m sure yours will, too. The huge balloons of cartoon characters are amazing. Highly recommended:

Moving on to the Trumps, here is the latest photo of First Son, 13-year-old Barron, who now seems to be taller than his father:

Newsweek — now only online, no longer in print — blasted the US president: ‘How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing and more’.

The Trumps gathered together at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach. There was only one official item scheduled for Thursday:

Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted:

That evening, President Trump embarked on a secret Thanksgiving mission. He left Palm Beach for Joint Base Andrews:

Trump was on his way to Afghanistan to celebrate Thanksgiving with American troops:

This is a splendid photo of his arrival at Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan:

The Afghani president was also in attendance:

President Ashraf Ghani stood just behind President Trump during his remarks:

The troops were delighted to see their Commander in Chief and share dinner with him:

Then it was time to return home:

The next day’s shopping revenues were superlative — and the best ever for online sales. Americans can thank Trump for that:

Thank Trump, America!

The sensible among you are grateful. That I know.

May our good Lord continue to guide the American president through the daily drama that his enemies dish up. They will not win.

——————————————————————–

UPDATE — The Newsweek reporter who wrote the aforementioned article has been fired. On Saturday, November 30, the Washington Examiner reported:

The Newsweek reporter who wrote an inaccurate story about President Trump’s Thanksgiving Day plans has been fired. The outlet’s original story claimed the president only planned on tweeting and golfing during his holiday break, neglecting to mention his trip to Afghanistan.

Newsweek’s Jessica Kwong, whose Twitter handle identifies her as a political reporter “covering Trump administration and family,” initially published the article Thursday morning, before the president’s trip to Afghanistan was announced publicly …

Hours after the president’s trip was announced, Newsweek edited Kwong’s story and added a note at the bottom of it. The beginning of the story now focuses on the president’s trip and his speech to the troops, while the new headline reads, “How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing — and surprising U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”

The note at the end of the story reads, “This story has been substantially updated and edited at 6:17 p.m. EST to reflect the president’s surprise trip to Afghanistan. Additional reporting by James Crowley.”

— —
UPDATE: Kwong put some of the blame for the story on her editor. Read more here.
— —

That article has a statement from Newsweek:

Newsweek investigated the failures that led to the publication of the inaccurate report that President Trump spent Thanksgiving tweeting and golfing rather than visiting troops in Afghanistan,” a Newsweek representative previously told the Washington Examiner. “The story has been corrected, and the journalist responsible has been terminated. We will continue to review our processes and, if required, take further action.”

Newsweek did not answer additional questions about the editor’s status with the outlet or if they would face any consequences over the publication of the story.

Yesterday’s post was about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a historic and happy occasion, to put it mildly.

However, while reunification has not been easy, the relationship between the western and eastern regions of Germany has been a historically uneasy one in some ways.

James Hawes, the author of The Shortest History of Germany, on sale in 20 different countries, wrote a short but information-packed article for UnHerd: ‘It wasn’t the Berlin Wall that divided Germany’. It is well worth reading. Even though I took World History in school, there is much here about Germany that I did not know.

A summary with excerpts follows. Emphases mine.

In the Middle Ages, as the Church was gaining adherents in the western half of what we know as Germany, the eastern half was comprised of pagan tribes. The river Elbe was the demarcation line between these two groups of people:

While early medieval western Europe was developing its unique signature, the power-sharing of international Church and national-state, the lands beyond the river Elbe were still populated by pagan, illiterate tribes. No real attempt was made to exert German control and settlement beyond that point until 1147; Cologne had already been a flourishing western European city for 1,200 years when the first German conqueror-farmers reached Berlin.

… East of the Elbe, the Germans never entirely supplanted the Slavs (some, the Sorbs, remain even in the truncated eastern Germany of today, just north of Dresden).

Hence the importance of subsequent Prussian rule and influence over the East:

The Germans of the east came to accept rule by a caste of warlords — the famous Prussian Junkers — and, later, the new Lutheran paradigm of a state which controlled its very own Church and against which there was hence no appeal.

Not for nothing did Friedrich Hayek see Prussia as the template for all modern totalitarian states, whether of the Left or of the Right. Max Weber constantly referred to a place he called Ostelbien, East Elbia, palpably different, for all its local variation, to ciselbian, western Germany.

Once suffrage was granted, voting patterns were very different between these two regions:

Of course, psychologists, philosophers and sociologists can all be wrong and often are. Electoral maps, however, do not lie. They show that ever since Germans have had votes, eastern Germans have voted very differently from western Germans.

Under the German Empire (1871-1918), the Prussian Conservatives — conservative in this context meaning supporters of royal and militarist rule under an agrarian Junker elite — depended almost completely on votes from the East, having scarcely any traction at all in the West.

The First World War changed nothing. In the first normal elections of the Weimar Republic, the extreme Prussian conservatives of the DNVP (officially anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic, violently antidemocratic, their members implicated in several high-profile political murders) were the second largest party nationally but — exactly as with the AfD today — that position was entirely dependent on votes from the East.

And when the deluge finally came in 1933 it was, again, only thanks to heavy votes in the East that Hitler got 43.9% nationally, enabling him (with support from the rump DNVP) to seize power by semi-constitutional means. If the whole country had voted like the Rhineland or Munich, he could only have attempted an armed coup, which the Army would have crushed.

Such patterns have continued to the present day, with nationalist and populist parties more popular in the east than the west.

Further disparity has resulted economically, from the western regions propping those up on the east:

well over €2 trillion has been pumped from Western taxpayers to the East. The so-called Reunification has dragged West Germany back into the role which Bismarck assigned it: to subsidise the economically moribund East because it is their patriotic duty.

Western German voters, rather sick of this, are more and more wary of keeping up this settlement, on top of their traditional role as paymasters of the stable Europe from which German industry benefits so greatly. Yet the Prussian myth of “reunification” has trumped economic reality, which goes to show something we in Britain should know all too well: that there is nothing worse for a country than to misunderstand its own history …

The founder of West Germany, Conrad Adenauer, knew his history. After the First World War he begged the French and British to help him split Prussia off from Germany. When he had to visit Berlin, he would always draw the curtains of his train compartment as he crossed the fatal River Elbe, muttering “Here we go, Asia again!” (“Schon wieder Asien!”) After the second war, though obliged in public to support re-unification, he told the British most secretly that he was determined it should never happen.

To top it all off, both sides of Germany also have a different opinion on the EU, a further source of friction, according to German journalist Sabine Beppler-Spahl in ‘After the Berlin Wall: whither democracy’:

Sabine Beppler-Spahl explains that the calls for reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall were as surprising as the fall of the Wall itself in 1989. The GDR was the German Democratic Republic — East Germany:

It is true that the first banners demanding reunification only appeared after the wall fell, and the GDR had all but collapsed. But that was because of the great dangers involved in demanding reunification in the GDR while it still existed. Hence the original protest slogan was ‘Wir sind das Volk’ (‘We are the people), which was directed at the GDR’s Stalinist government. But from mid-November onwards, it changed to ‘Wir sind ein Volk’ (‘We are one people’), which was directed at the establishment in the West. Soon calls for reunification became so powerful that they could no longer be ignored.

In calling for reunification, people were demanding rights that had been withheld for decades. These included an end to the command economy, with all its hardships, and above all, democracy. When the first free elections were held in March 1990, an impressive 93.4 per cent of the population in the old East took part – which remains the highest ever turnout in any free election in Germany. East Germans didn’t need to be convinced of the virtues of civil liberty and democracy. That’s because, as political scientist Robert Rohrschneider put it in 1999, they knew what it meant to live in an authoritarian system (1).

One of the most amazing aspects of 1989 was that, across Europe, few in power expected it. ‘Of course we said that we believed in reunification, because we knew that it would never happen’, said former UK prime minister Edward Heath in 1989. When reunification did appear on the popular agenda, it became apparent how large and diverse the opposition to it was. It included the most unlikely of allies, from prominent former East German civil-rights activists (2) and the West German SPD and Green Party, to many Western European heads of state.

The Greens were against reunification and wanted reform of the GDR instead:

Several former East German dissidents, like Bärbel Bohley, campaigned for reform of the GDR system. She and others identified with the environmentalist and anti-consumerist rhetoric of the West German Green Party, which was very successful during the 1980s. The Greens, like large sections of the West German Social Democrats and others, identified with Stalinism more than they liked to admit. They were turned off by the sight of so many people demanding democracy and an end to the command economy. So they became supporters of the status quo. ‘We were anti-nationalists’, explained former Green Party leader Ralf Fücks in 2015.

That should tell you something about why opponents to the Greens call them the ‘watermelon party’ — green on the outside, red on the inside.

That said, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, also opposed reunification. So did France’s Socialist president, François Mitterand:

Outside of Germany, the speed and turn of events also prompted apprehension. On 28 November, [Chancellor Helmut] Kohl presented his ’10-point programme for the formation of a contractual community’ (effectively, a plan for German reunification). The then British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who had made no secret of her hostility to reunification, quickly demanded that any talk of a united Germany should be postponed for at least five to 10 years (3). French president François Mitterrand informed a group of journalists that he considered German reunification a ‘legal and political impossibility’. A reunited Germany ‘as an independent, uncontrolled power was unbearable for Europe’, he concluded.

The then-US president George HW Bush — Bush I — was Chancellor Kohl’s greatest ally:

With Western Europe’s most powerful states opposed to reunification, Kohl’s most reliable ally became US president George HW Bush. As journalist Elizabeth Pond wrote, the US played a decisive role in reversing the resistance of the British and French. There was, however, one condition placed on German reunification – it was to take place within the European Community.

Although reunification took place on October 3, 1990, it did not happen overnight. The terms of the controversial Maastricht Treaty, signed in 1992, were the only way France would agree to a formally reunified Germany:

The most far-reaching part of Maastricht – and the most contested within Germany itself – was the decision to create a monetary union, with a common currency, namely, the Euro. According to historians Andreas Rödder and Heinrich August Winkler, Kohl accepted that a reunified Germany would have to enter a monetary union in order to win support for reunification from France. It was a concession that came at a price for the French, too. It meant the French state was also to be bound to the fiscal rules and regulations of the EU. As French political scientist Anne-Marie Le Goannec explains in L’Allemagne Après la Guerre Froide, it was France’s admiration for the ‘German Model’ that helped Kohl push through the fiscal rules of the EU. Maastricht, however, was unpopular from the start. And in a referendum held in France in September 1992, only 50.8 per cent voted in favour of it.

Whereas the French public were consulted over Maastricht, the Germans had no say:

Maastricht was also unpopular in Germany. Unlike the French electorate, however, the German electorate was never consulted. The absence of any public vote was compounded by the weakness of the opposition SPD, which had never recovered from its position on reunification. It meant that Kohl’s government was given a free hand to reunify Germany as a part of the European Union.

Although most Germans approved of Maastricht when Kohl’s government ratified it, by the mid-1990s, sentiment had changed dramatically:

Admittedly, support for a united Europe had been high in the early 1990s, especially in the former GDR, where over 85 per cent were in favour, compared with 70 per cent in the former West. By 1996, however, support had dropped to 35 per cent in the east and 40 per cent in the west (4). Christopher J Andersen, a professor of political science at New York State University, attributes the sharp drop-off in enthusiasm for the EU to the job losses and economic problems that plagued the former East German economy (5).

In brief, reunification under EU rules brought about years of change that no one had expected:

It wasn’t just the abolition of the well-loved Deutsche Mark, pushed through by Kohl, which annoyed so many Germans. Other deeply unpopular policy measures, which would probably have been rejected by the electorate, if they’d ever been asked, included: the expansion of the EU; the free movement of cheap labour from impoverished eastern Europe (leading to wage depression); the German military intervention in the Yugoslav war; the handling of the Greek debt crisis; and the temporary loss of control over borders. Again and again the structures of the EU have allowed different German governments to ignore the opinions of the electorate and pursue unpopular policies.

This year, the East has shown that it sees reunification differently to the West and is reacting against the EU:

The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party has led three successful election campaigns in the former East German states of Brandenburg and Saxony (in September 2019) and Thuringia (October 2019), using the slogan, ‘Vollende die Wende’ (‘complete reunification’). The slogan was widely criticised in the media. ‘People are told to go back on to the streets, like they did in 1989, and bring the system down’, said one journalist on a programme entitled How the AfD has appropriated reunification. Elsewhere, an open letter, written by a group of former GDR civil-rights activists, accused the AfD of ‘historical lies’. But the AfD can also point to several former dissidents who sympathise with it. And so the battle over the meaning of 1989, which is simultaneously about today’s politics, is set to continue.

No doubt some Germans living in the East would agree with another article from UnHerd, ’10 things I hate about Germany’, which discusses various economic and political policies from Angela Merkel. EU-loving Britons point to Germany as the be-all and end-all, the role model to which we must look up. Ultimately:

the Germans may be no worse than we are, but they’re certainly no better.

I could not agree more.

Germany is a great place to visit. The German people I’ve met have been courteous and friendly. The architecture is fabulous. Shopping is excellent.

However, no EU nation is a be-all and end-all — not under Brussels and the Maastricht system.

The funeral for former president George Herbert Walker Bush took place on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at the National Cathedral (Episcopalian) in Washington, DC.

I’m not featuring too much on this, because a) most people have seen the funeral coverage in the media and b) Bush I was the only American over 60 who said he could not remember where he was when John F Kennedy was assassinated. I certainly remember where I was, and I was only a small child at the time.

That piece of Bush history came to light only a few years ago, thanks to the online world. Others might have already known it through lesser-known political writings.

Until that point, I admired Bush I a lot. I was delighted with the ‘Thousand Points of Light’ speech, which Peggy Noonan (Obama supporter, anti-Trumper) wrote. Bush delivered the speech when accepting the Republican nomination for president in 1988.

On the whole, I think he did a good job as president and was certainly worlds better than his opponent, Michael Dukakis from Massachusetts, would have been.

My two objections to Bush I’s presidency were ‘no new taxes’ which, strangely, ended up as new taxes, thereby enabling Clinton’s victory four years later. The other was the end of the first Gulf War, which seemed a bit incomplete. It was not surprising, therefore, that a second Gulf War ensued.

Historian Doug Wead appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight to discuss Bush’s presidency:

My condolences go to the Bush family, which is large and close-knit. They lost their two most important family members this year. Barbara Bush died in April. I believe that the former president, despite his chronic ailments, died of a broken heart.

Before moving on to Bush’s funeral, one must look at John McCain’s service, which was held three months to the day earlier: September 5.

Something happened at his funeral that recurred at Bush’s.

At McCain’s funeral, George W Bush passed a piece of candy to Michelle Obama:

Caption: ‘Thank you!’

Now on to the former president’s funeral. President Trump was informed of his death whilst at the G20 in Buenos Aires, on the evening of Friday, November 30. He and Melania issued a joint statement. He also spoke with Bush II and Jeb the following morning.

President Trump took this event very seriously, as he said at the G20 summit, when he cancelled his press conference:

A media moratorium on any in-depth interviews ensued. On Monday, Dennis ‘Nate’ Cain, who underwent a six-hour raid on his home, even though he is a protected government whistleblower, tweeted:

Meanwhile, the Bush family assured President Trump that no one speaking at the service would criticise him. They did that because the notional eulogies at McCain’s funeral were a Trump hate-fest.

The morning of the funeral, President Trump recognised the service as a time to celebrate life as well as to mourn:

The Secret Service paid a final tribute to the 41st president of the United States:

His Secret Service code name was Timberwolf:

At the funeral service, once again Melania Trump was seated next to Obama, just as she was at Mrs Bush’s funeral. On that subject, a group photo of presidential couples appeared after Mrs Bush’s funeral. Mrs Trump was cropped out in many articles using it. Here is the full photo, with Mrs Trump standing next to Michelle Obama.

On Wednesday, Bush II was not seated with the Obamas, as he was giving his father’s eulogy. However, he remembered Mrs Obama with candy on his way in:

It looks undignified to me, too, but I know nothing of Washington DC funerals for dignitaries.

A few unusual things happened.

One was the representation from Saudi Arabia:

Another is that Hillary Clinton had a moment:

Yet another was this silent exchange between former first lady Laura Bush and her brother-in-law Jeb:

And, finally, for whatever reason, the Trumps refused to recite the Apostles Creed.

That aside, President Trump, in the media’s eyes, could do nothing right.

The media are wrong. He shut down Washington DC — and post offices across the nation — on December 5.

Here’s another thing the media falsely criticised him for:

In closing, may President Bush rest in peace.

President Donald Trump had a successful G20 meeting on November 30 and December 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires.

The American president and his first lady Melania left Washington on Thursday, November 29, arriving in Argentina that night:

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner went to receive an award from Mexico’s outgoing president. This was for his work on the new North American trade agreement, USMCA:

In fact, USMCA was signed at the G20 on Friday, November 30:

Congress now has six months to ratify it.

Attendees appeared in a group photo. If you’ll notice, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is not in it, as her flight was delayed because of technical difficulties:

This was the president’s schedule for Friday:

That evening, G20 participants and their spouses attended a cultural event at the Colón (Columbus) Theatre in Buenos Aires. By then, Angela Merkel had arrived and had taken part in the second photo op, not shown here:

The next video shows the Trumps arriving at the theatre, along with Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner shortly afterwards:

The president tweeted his appreciation …

… and told Americans to watch Hannity on Fox News Network that night for a preview of developing news:

Bombshell news was due to break on Hannity on Monday, December 3, however, that has been postponed because of the death of George H W Bush, announced on Friday.

Before going into the events of December 1, not only did Trump wear a G20 pin, he also did not sign the group’s commitment to fight climate change. He did not need to — job done:

N.B.: the photo is from 2017.

This was Trump’s schedule for Day 2 of the G20 meeting:

The Trumps issued a formal statement in memory of President Bush:

The president spoke with former president George W Bush:

That morning, the Trumps also visited the American embassy in Buenos Aires.

In the afternoon, Trump met with Merkel as scheduled. Excerpts from the pre-meeting press conference transcript follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much everybody. It’s a great honor to be with Chancellor Merkel, who is my friend. We have a great relationship and a great working relationship, I think very important. And we are talking trade. We’re talking defense. We’re talking about many things …

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: …

(As interpreted.) Well, let me say I’m very glad we have the opportunity for this bilateral meeting. We shall address issues related to trade, multilateral issues, and also fair trade and the World Trade Organization. We will also talk about bilateral relations, Ukraine, Syria, and the violations of the INF treaty by Russia.

So there’s quite a lot to do, quite a lot on our plate for this relatively short time …

Q Mr. President, have you spoken to President George W. Bush?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, I have. And Jeb also. And I expressed deepest sympathies. Angela and I were just talking about it. He was a wonderful man. And you may want to just explain your little meeting with him. I found it very interesting.

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Yes. I was in (inaudible), in the White House, visiting George Bush. And he’s the father, or one of the fathers, of the German unification, and we will never forget that.

THE PRESIDENT: I found that very interesting.

So we extended our best wishes. And he was — he was a very fine man. I met him on numerous occasions. He was just a high-quality man who truly loved his family. One thing that came through loud and clear, he was very proud of his family and very much loved his family. So he was a terrific guy and he’ll be missed. And he led a full life, and a very exemplary life too, I will say …

A gala dinner took place that evening:

Afterwards, the meeting between the US and China took place:

A major step was the Chinese stance on ‘fentanyl’. I put the word in quotes, because Xi had already declared regular fentanyl a controlled substance in 2015. Since then, fentanyl has taken on new forms and those are what this new declaration is about.

Puppet String News explains the gravity of the fentanyl situation:

Not only is this a major victory brokered between Trump and XI, but this will quite literally be a major defeat against the Deep State…As the opioid Fentanyl is a major drug that the Deep State funds it’s operations with. Tens of thousands of Americans have died after being exposed to Fentanyl over the last few years in America, and also this is an opioid that also profits Mexican drug cartels and gangs like MS-13…So China declaring today that Fentanyl will now be a controlled substance is a major victory on multiple fronts.

A statement by Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders says, in part:

… people selling Fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China’s maximum penalty under the law.

On Trade, President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10% rate, and not raise it to 25% at this time. China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.

President Trump and President Xi have agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture. Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10% tariffs will be raised to 25%.

It was also agreed that great progress has been made with respect to North Korea and that President Trump, together with President Xi, will strive, along with Chairman Kim Jong Un, to see a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. President Trump expressed his friendship and respect for Chairman Kim.

On board Air Force One on the flight back to Washington, Trump spent time with reporters. On December 2, the AP reported highlights, including the following:

The White House says President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have reached a 90-day ceasefire agreement on new economic tariffs to allow for continuing trade negotiations …

Tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods were set to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent in the new year, and Trump was considering duties on even more Chinese goods.

The White House says if the two sides don’t reach agreement within 90 days, then Trump will impose the tariffs.

Also:

… his next meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is likely to happen in January or February.

The president tells reporters that there are three sites under consideration, but he’s not identifying them.

Trump, speaking aboard Air Force One on his return from Argentina, tells reporters that he and Kim are “getting along very well” and have a “good relationship.”

He adds that at some point he’d like to invite Kim to the United States.

So, this year’s G20 summit has been another overseas success for President Trump.

Would that Americans realised and appreciated how much he accomplishes on their behalf.

Obama told the anti-Trump truth in his eulogy of Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) at Washington DC’s National Cathedral on Saturday, September 1, 2018.

This is all the world needs to know about him, Bush II and Clinton:

“When all was said and done, we were on the same team.” Obama at McCain’s funeral.

Indeed it does.

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