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There are too many theories about National Security Adviser Lieutenant General (ret’d) Michael Flynn’s resignation on Monday, February 13, 2017 and too much information unknown to the public.

Sure, Flynn’s name has been all over the media for weeks, but more than one element is likely to be involved in his departure. You decide.

Deep State and the Democrats

Just after the New Year, Democrat Charles E Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, told MNSBC’s Rachel Maddow in a discussion about President Trump’s rebuttal of notional Russian hacking:

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

There’s also another angle.

The Free Beacon analyses how Obama’s people feared Flynn would reveal more about the former president’s nuclear deal with Iran, so they set out to destroy him (emphases mine):

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Leaks from within the White House

Close observers knew it was questionable whether Trump could use the Oval Office after the inauguration.

It was always likely — perhaps probable — that the Oval Office is or was bugged. No doubt, Trump had it swept prior to the inauguration. However, the success of the sweep depends on who did it and how thoroughly:

Then there are Obama appointees still in place because senators were slow in approving Trump’s key cabinet appointments. Rex Tillerson is now in place as Secretary of State. Jeff Sessions is now Attorney General. However, it will take some time for both to make their own staff appointments.

There could also be people close to Trump — his personally appointed staff — who are leaking to the media.

With regard to Flynn specifically, the Washington Post (WaPo) says that the retired general had discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as early as December when he was part of the transition team. He would have been in New York at that point. New York magazine gives a summary:

Several current and former U.S. officials say National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration during conversations with that country’s ambassador in December. That may be illegal, and to make matters worse, it contradicts denials made by senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that nine current and former U.S. officials who had access to intercepted communications between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak say that Flynn made explicit references to election-related sanctions. Two said Flynn even urged Russia not to overreact. “Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said one former official.

When the Post asked Flynn on Wednesday if he ever discussed sanctions with Kislyak, he said no. Then, on Thursday, his spokesman walked that back, saying Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Flynn exchanged phone calls and texts with Kislyak a day before the Obama administration imposed new sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the Kremlin’s alleged attempt to meddle in the U.S. election.

Those sanctions came during the Christmas holiday.

As Flynn’s conversations from December have been revealed, it is possible that Trump has a GOPe mole in his midst.

Trump is rightly concerned about who is leaking:

On February 14, WaPo featured quotes from conservatives who voiced their concerns about Trump transition and administration leaks:

“I think this really was the death by a thousand leaks,” Laura Ingraham, a conservative news commentator, said on Fox News. “The leaks that were coming out of this administration and the transition — before the administration — were at a level that I don’t remember seeing for quite some time.”

Not long before Trump tweeted, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox that “somebody in the nebulous intelligence community” would have had access to the information about Flynn’s calls.

Who tapped the phones? Who is listening to it? Who leaked it? I think those are legitimate questions to ask,” Johnson said Tuesday morning.

The senator said he did not know whether those who leaked the information about Flynn broke the law, but he added: “Leaks of this nature are incredibly damaging to America, to our national security, and we need to look into it.”

On the opposite side of the political spectrum, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald agrees:

That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”

That “senior U.S. government official” committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” who told the paper for its February 9 article that “Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn’s telephone calls.

That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn’s calls with the Russians “were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats.” That means that the contents of those calls were “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government,” which in turn means that anyone who discloses them — or reports them to the public — is guilty of a felony under the statute.

Yet very few people are calling for a criminal investigation or the prosecution of these leakers, nor demanding the leakers step forward and “face the music” — for very good reason: The officials leaking this information acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law. That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter — his conversations with Russian diplomats — and the public has the absolute right to know this.

The trust issue

In January, the then-acting Secretary of State Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn had not been entirely honest with Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

In his press briefing of February 14, Sean Spicer announced:

We’ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth.  We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change.

The President was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the Vice President and others.  He was also very concerned in light of sensitive subjects dealt with by that position of national security advisors — like China, North Korea and the Middle East — that the President must have complete and unwavering trust for the person in that position.

The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the President to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.  Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House Counsel of the situation, the White House Counsel briefed the President and a small group of senior advisors.  The White House Counsel reviewed and determined that there is not a legal issue, but rather a trust issue.

During this process it’s important to note that the President did not have his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who he trusts immensely, approved by the Senate.  When the President heard the information as presented by White House Counsel, he instinctively thought that General Flynn did not do anything wrong, and the White House Counsel’s review corroborated that.

… The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn’s relationship — misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation.

That’s why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it

Larry Johnson of No Quarter, who worked for the CIA then the State Department, wrote:

Sad day for Mike Flynn. The only thing he did wrong was not tell Vice President Pence the full truth. That’s it. He was well within his rights as the incoming National Security Advisor to talk to the Russians and to talk about any issue. The only thing he could not do was pass on classified information. That’s it. The people who insist he did something untoward with Russia are either woefully ignorant about the duties of the incoming Director of the NSC or are being deliberately disingenuous.

Another security expert, Richard A Moss, wrote about Flynn’s indiscretion in the way he communicated with the Russian ambassador. From WaPo:

Flynn resigned not because of his communications with the Russians, but rather because of his lack of discretion, misleading Vice President Pence about the nature of the exchanges, and, allegedly, opening himself up to blackmail by the Russians.

Moss goes on to explain how Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon co-ordinated Kissinger’s communications with the Russians during Nixon’s transition period between 1968 and 1969:

Nixon and Kissinger synchronized the two back channels to the Soviets during the 1968 election and the transition period

We know these details not because of the content of reportedly leaked FBI wiretaps, as in the case of Flynn, but because of good record keeping. Kissinger wrote detailed memorandums of his various back-channel exchanges and shared them with the president (and, occasionally, others who had a need to know). In Washington, political warfare is frequently fought on the battlefield of competing memorandums. Kissinger also had his staff make transcripts of his phone conversations, eventually off recordings of the calls, but initially by having a secretary write in shorthand by listening on a telephone with a muted microphone.

Flynn operated differently:

By contrast, Flynn’s inconsistency over the content of his conversations with Kislyak hurt his credibility and brought on scrutiny both inside and outside the White House.

Somewhat strangely for a career intelligence officer, Flynn also used insecure means of communication by talking on open telephone lines to Kislyak. In military-speak, he used poor communications security (COMSEC), which was apparently subject to FBI monitoring — and, hypothetically, foreign intelligence collection

Flynn’s preference for the phone is ironic since Trump said a few weeks ago, “You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way.”

Ultimately, nearly 50 years ago:

Kissinger kept good records and he kept his boss, Nixon, informed. Fundamentally, back channels require the confidence of the person at the top. Kissinger understood this and became the indispensable man for Nixon’s foreign policy.

This year:

Flynn clearly lost the confidence of those at the top and had to go.

It should be noted that, on February 14, WaPo walked back earlier reports on the FBI and Flynn. This is at the end of a different article, not the one Richard A Moss wrote:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Michael Flynn was the reported object of FBI investigations. This version has been updated.

Accuracy In Media states that the FBI cleared Flynn.

Is this important?

The double standard

We are seeing an egregious double standard in play.

The aforementioned article from The Intercept points out:

What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised, not scorned and punished.

However, keep in mind that those cheering Flynn’s resignation were blind to the transgressions on their own side for eight years:

It’s hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people — from both parties, across the ideological spectrum — who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.

It’s even more surreal to watch Democrats act as though lying to the public is some grave firing offense when President Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, got caught red-handed not only lying to the public but also to Congress — about a domestic surveillance program that courts ruled was illegal. And despite the fact that lying to Congress is a felony, he kept his job until the very last day of the Obama presidency.

Unintended positive consequences

The Intercept goes on to say that this leak and Flynn’s resignation may work for Trump and the American public rather than against them:

numerous leaks have already achieved great good in the three short weeks that Trump has been president.

Trump knows, his staff know and the American public know.

As negative as these events appear right now, they could help Trump to ‘drain the swamp’.

As former CIA analyst and retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer told FOX Business Network:

I would put this right at the feet of John Brennan and Jim Clapper and I would go so far as to say the Obama White House was directly involved before they left. Ben Rhodes and those folks… The Democrats are behind this and some of the Republicans are involved with the leaks. So I say ‘Bring it on!’

Flynn’s replacement could be even better

One of the men being discussed as a replacement for Flynn is retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward.

Gateway Pundit reports that Harward served under then-General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis at US Central Command and that he speaks Farsi:

Harward could prove to be a much better candidate than Michael Flynn which would be disastrous for the left who just spent weeks trying to get Flynn removed.

————————————————————————–

Those of us who watched Trump put together his transition team late last year remember that Flynn did consulting work for Turkey and is pro-Erdogan. Geopolitical expert Joel Richardson wrote about that at the time:

… in a Facebook post on Dec. 7, Richardson called for the Trump administration to cut ties with Flynn, because “he’ll be gone within the first year.”

Richardson blasted Flynn for reportedly owning a company that lobbied for an obscure Dutch company with ties to Turkey’s government and President Erdoğan himself. Richardson characterized the hiring of Flynn as a betrayal of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” by removing lobbyists from government positions.

“On Election Day, Flynn published a fairly lengthy opinion piece, and a very strong opinion piece, in the online news website called The Hill, a real prominent website,” said Richardson. “Specifically, he was urging the U.S. to support Turkey and Turkey’s controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. … Those who follow my program know I am no fan of President Erdoğan. He is a dictator and I am likening him to an emerging Adolf Hitler. … This guy is dangerous.”

Flynn’s temporary replacement is Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr.

To everyone who doubts Trump’s ability to rectify the situation, remember, he is there to win the war. Battles will be lost from time to time. Flynn’s departure is one of them. However, in the words of Machiavelli (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse):

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.

Onwards and upwards. MAGA!

Yesterday, I was most surprised to discover that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Obama paid Muslim groups not to harm Americans.

The Burning Platform has an article, ‘Paying Them Not To Kill Us’. A summary with quotes follows.

It is possible that Americans are finding out about this only now that Trump is in office. Some of these organisations no longer want DHS money, even though substantial sums have been paid in previous years.

A Trump administration official said that the Obama administration came up with this programme in 2011 as a way of:

“countering Islamic extremism.” The official, who has knowledge of the discussions, was not authorized to speak publicly about the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration wants to change the name of the programme, which seems to be part of the reason some groups are now rejecting the money. Currently, 20 per cent of the $10m in earmarked funds has been rejected.

A greater element involved is that the groups sense that Trump will go through with plans and policies that are anti-Islam.

On Friday, February 11, 2017, the Sacramento Bee featured an article on Bayan Claremont, the fourth Muslim group to reject DHS money.

Bayan Claremont would have received $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combating Islamic extremism. This would have covered half the Muslim graduate school’s annual budget. However, Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his recent Executive Order — halted for the moment by the Ninth Circuit — changed their administrators’ minds. Bayan Claremont’s president, Jihad Turk (yes, really), made the announcement on Friday.

The comments following the SacBee article are well worth reading. Americans are astounded and angry that tens of millions of dollars from their taxes have gone to supporting … religion.

Bayan Claremont, incidentally, was founded in 2011. It is part of the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. That said, students from many different Christian denominations attend CST, which is also home to the Episcopal Theological School and Disciples Seminary Foundation.

Among the other groups in the United States which receive DHS’s money are Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, which has declined a $396,585 to produce anti-extremist films; Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities in Dearborn, Michigan, which has rejected $500,000 for youth and health programme development and Ka Joog, a Somali non-profit organisation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which turned down $500,000 for youth programmes.

All this is money saved that the DHS can put into other areas. After all, as Jihad Turk said:

school officials already had reservations about the CVE strategy under Obama because they felt there’s no clear or proven pathway to violence for someone with a particular extreme ideology.

Just so.

In closing, this sounds awfully lot like voluntary protection money — non-imposed jizya.

A week after the 2016 election, Obama boasted that there were no scandals in his administration.

The video above gives us not only his comment but an immediate response from news programmes on various scandals that did indeed occur between January 2009 and early January 2017.

Obamacare and Benghazi came immediately to mind. But what about Fast and Furious? Hillary’s emails, anyone? What about the uncontrolled unrest in Baltimore or Ferguson, near St Louis?

Everyone should read ‘The Complete Collection: Obama’s Scandals, Gaffes and Power-Grabs’ at Grabien News. It must have taken some time to put 745 incidents together by department, complete with sources.

Grabien News readers are a tough lot. Some picked over spelling errors. This one is amusing:

… you need to clean up your own Loisiana spelling on item #40.

The man went on to say:

Obama is a disaster but some of this is nit picking. Should stick to the real issues. When you get so deep in the weeds it detracts from the meaningful and many transgressions of the Obama Years.

Another reader said:

This entire article is biased against Obama in a way which undermines it’s [sic] analysis. This is not to say that Obama is without blame. Far from it. The Obama Administrations [sic] expansion of drones and the killing of civilians, the persecution of whistle blowers, the lack of care at the VA, Libya, etc. are all examples of where the President and his administration has failed us. However, presenting straw men, inflating incidents and dividing them up into dozens of points to increase the number, and injecting your bias to create ‘scandal’ where none exists is a serious problem.

Well, that is exactly what is happening to Donald Trump’s administration. I cannot help but wonder if the same people will be as critical of a list about his administration when the time comes. They will probably add to it.

Anyway, here is but a small sample of Grabien News’s compilation. They have everything in a neat tidy table, by the way. I’m just going to summarise a few in a list:

US Dept of Defense, January 20, 2017:

Ran on promise [since 2008] of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; didn’t.

US Dept of Homeland Security, March 25, 2014:

The DHS/TSA missed multipled chances to detain [Boston Bomber Tamerlan] Tsarnaev, including once when he was supposed to be pulled aside at JFK Airport.

US Dept of Labor, September 26, 2016:

After technologist Peter Thiel endorsed Donald Trump, Obama’s Department of Labor sued his company Palantir over “racial discrimination” for not hiring enough Asians, despite disproportionately hiring Asians.

US Dept of the Treasury, January 13, 2009:

Obama’s pick to head the Treasury Department, Tim Geithner, was himself a tax scofflaw. He ended up sending an amended return upon being nominated.

US Dept of Transportation, July 1, 2009:

Obama launched the “cash for clunkers,” which aimed to replace existing cars with newer, cleaner cars, but ended up incentivizing the destruction of thousands of perfectly good used cars, thus pricing millions of Americans out of the market.

US Dept of Veterans Affairs, October 20, 2013:

VA hospital delays — which were scrubbed from official records — resulted in the deaths of at least six veterans, but potentially more than 20.

US Supreme Court, January 27, 2010:

Claimed during his 2010 State of the Union that foreigners could finance American campaigns; as Justice Alito mouthed from the audience, “Not true.”

There are hundreds more things — great and small — to enjoy.

Let it never be said, though, that Obama had a scandal-free eight years.

And, let’s remember, his personal records have always been sealed from public view — and remain so today.

America’s Department of Homeland Security could be actively fighting terrorism — had the Obama administration not taken away a valuable tool: a database developed by Philip Haney, author of See Something, Say Nothing, which went on sale on May 24, 2016.

Earlier that year, Haney wrote an article for The Hill, ‘DHS ordered me to scrub records of Muslims with terror ties’. Please read it in full. Obama and his people threw the intelligence community under the bus.

On Christmas Day in 2009, a Nigerian terrorist attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which was to take off from Amsterdam and land in Detroit. Fortunately, the explosives in the man’s underwear failed to detonate and passengers were able to subdue him until police arrested him.

Afterwards, Haney says (emphases mine):

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.” He said, “this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

Haney, a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, explains:

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”  Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns. Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database.

A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack. While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to “connect the dots” in the future—especially before an attack occurs.

On June 26, 2016 FaithFreedom.org interviewed Haney. The transcript is lengthy and eye-opening. I recommend people read this for a full understanding of why terror attacks continue. Again, the scrubbed database has a lot to do with it. The interview by Frank Gaffney, a friend of his, centres around Haney’s book, which had been on sale for a month. Excerpts and a summary follow.

Years before Haney entered the DHS, he was an entomologist — a scientist who studies insects. He worked with farmers in the Middle East. To better communicate with them and understand local culture, he learned Arabic, then Koranic Arabic.

His work speciality was studying ants. He published several scientific papers on them.

Knowing Arabic, understanding Middle Eastern culture and studying ant behaviour prepared him for the future, although he did not know that at the time. He told Gaffney:

… two of the qualities of an entomologist that have direct application to counter-terrorism are close attention to detail and observation of behaviour. All living creatures have behaviour patterns that they follow. And in entomology, if you want to learn how to control a pest, you have to know how it behaves. So watching that gives you clues to points along their life cycle that you might be able to intervene and help the farmer reduce his pesticide costs. And attention to detail, that’s another key component of counter-terrorism. That’s what we call connecting the dots. Well, it has direct application in science as well. You connect dots, you make observations, your write things down on your famous clipboard, and pretty soon a picture emerges. Then you do statistical analysis on it. Develop your premise and prove that it was true. Well, the other component is, being a specialist in ants, I simply began to follow the trail and I would find the nest. And in counter-terrorism, you do the same thing.

One of the things that many people in Western countries refuse to do is to connect terrorism with Islam. We speak of ‘moderate Islam’ or may even know Muslims who are more secular than religious. Haney says that the United States, for example, sees a ‘composite’ view of Islam:

the full spectrum from virtual complete disavowal of following shariah all the way up to extremely strict application of shariah. We see that in some of these emerging areas of cities around America where it’s becoming more and more obvious that they’re implementing shariah all the way to, you know, people you might call secular Muslims that don’t appear to observe any of the mandates of shariah. It’s all in a kaleidoscope right here in the United States. We can see every portion of it, every form of expression of shariah that exists in the world is being expressed right here in the America, the whole spectrum.

Haney gives a detailed explanation of the manifestations of jihad, which can differ according to group.

About the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), he explains:

it’s a global organisation and they have very strict rules and regulations they follow. Everything that the Muslim Brotherhood does is based on shariah law. This isn’t a political organisation that happens to be Islamic. This is an Islamic organisation whose highest goal is to implement shariah law. Therefore, of all organisations, they’re going to be most strictly observant of the subtle elements of shariah law. And their role, like in the United States, is to make sure that the Muslim community is doing their utmost to submit to the regulations and guidelines found in shariah law, one step at a time.

Furthermore, the MB have a document which:

states plainly that the global organisation has set up a shura council, a guidance council, here in North America, which means includes Canada, for a very distinct purpose. That very distinct purpose is to bring to the North American Muslim community, create an observant Muslim base. Again, this is in the first paragraph of the first page. The observant Muslim base. That is al-Musima [PH], al-Islamiyah, al-Qaeda, in Arabic. And I’m sure everybody listening heard the third word and have heard that word many times before, al-Qaeda. The observant Muslim, al-Qaeda, in North America. That’s important because al-Qaeda is not actually an organisation. Even though there are some jihad groups we know of as al-Qaeda. al-Qaeda is an abstract concept. It means the base. The base of operation. The Muslim Brotherhood’s goal is to have all Muslims in the United States observant and essentially submitted to the standards and guidelines of shariah law. And once they do that, that’s a base and from there, they go out and do promotion of Islam

It’s the same in Europe, by the way.

When 9/11 happened, Haney already understood much about Islam. When DHS was established in May 2003, Haney was a Customs and Border Protection officer but was promoted thanks to his intelligence briefings and analyses:

And I was eventually authorised to get pulled completely out of the agricultural arena and I got put into a unit called the Advanced Targeting Unit. Where we look at incoming passengers for possible links to terrorism. And they told me specifically, we want you to keep doing what you have already been doing, which is develop intelligence and help us connect the dots. Well, that’s exactly what I did. And by 2006, I had produced a report on the Muslim Brotherhood network in the United States. And basically outlined all of the major organisations and all of the leaders of these organisations and put them into our database so that my colleagues in other parts of the country would be able to have access to the same information. We’re all on the same page, and we’re all looking at the same individuals and organisations. And initially, I was considered an asset and we had great success. We had a lot of what we called law enforcement actions based on those reports that I put into the system.

Things changed in 2006, when he wrote an article for FrontPage Magazine called ‘Green Tide Rising: Hamas Ascends’ which now appears as ‘The Ascension of Hamas (What Was)’:

Well, that article I shared with some of my CIA colleagues at a training course that I took. And I say CIA openly, because they said so openly. I thought that they would be interested in an article on Hamas, which, after all, was a globally designated terrorist organisation already. But I was wrong. Instead of reading the article and having a discussion about it, they turned me into headquarters and said that I had accessed classified information to write the article. And they charged me with unethical use of classified information and plus the fact that I posted it on an open source website. And they investigated me for it. The entire investigation took eleven months and ultimately I was exonerated.

Then it got worse with the Obama administration, as mentioned above. But there was more:

I was investigated a total of nine times. Before it was all over, the last nine months of my career, they took my gun, they suspended – revoked my secret clearance. They cut off all access to all systems and sequestered me in a little cubicle while I sat there, day by day, waiting to see what the outcome of these three, last of nine, simultaneous investigations – what would happen. The Department of Justice investigated me for – they said that I had misused a government computer and they convened a grand jury. They were going to charge me on criminal charges. In the end, I retired honourable. July 31st, 2015. They dropped the charges on the DOJ case. And nothing else came of the other administrative investigations. I was exonerated.

One possible adverse consequence of the database scrubbing was the San Bernardino attack late in 2015:

The mosque that Syed Farook attended was part of that Tablighi Jamaat network. The administration deleted sixty-seven records out of the system that I had worked on as a component of the Tablighi case. So the question remains, if those records had not been deleted, it’s very plausible that Syed Farook would have never been able to travel to Saudi Arabia and it’s also just as plausible that his pending fiancée would have never been given a visa. And then we would have stopped the attack.

One useful way to think of Islamic groups and movements, Haney says, is to liken them to the NFL. There are different teams, all competing to ultimately win the Superbowl, however, they are all in the same league and abide by the same playbook:

Well, the thing with the Islamic movement is they have a playbook. It’s called shariah law. They are bound by the constraints of shariah law to behave in a very predictable manner. As I mentioned earlier about behaviour, which is why I brought it up. If you put all these allegories together, we can actually expect what they’re going to do. Because they have to live within the boundaries, the communication system as described by shariah law.

This brings me to an article about President Trump’s new head of DHS, James Kelly. On Tuesday, January 31, 2017 the Washington Examiner reported:

“We have to be convinced that people who come here, there is a reasonable expectation that we know who they are, and what they’re coming here for, and what their backgrounds are,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told reporters Tuesday.

Kelly reiterated that Trump’s order — which suspended most travel from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen — is “not a ban on Muslims,” contrary to Democratic characterizations of the order. “Religious liberty is one of our most fundamental and treasured values,” he said.

Instead, he argued that the 90-day travel suspension is aimed at countries that don’t have the public institutions required to conduct customary background checks. “There are many countries, seven that we’re dealing with right now, that in our view, in my view, don’t have the kind of law enforcement records-keeping, that kind of thing, that can convince us that one of their citizens is indeed who that citizen says they are and what their background might be,” said Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general who led the U.S. military in South America.

Which brings me to Philip Haney’s database. Now that the Obama administration — with its many ties to the Middle East and Islam — is out of the way, someone somewhere must have a copy of the original. As Lame Cherry wrote on February 1, 2017:

the NAMES OF EVERY MUSLIM TERRORIST WHO HAS SLAUGHTERED AMERICANS DURING THE OBAMA YEARS was on that file and who their contacts were, and the Obama regime ordered this entire protocol to be deleted.

Phillip Haney, has reported to Sean Hannity, that before deleting, he forwarded this system to members of Congress, so it apparently still exists, and Mr. Haney noted that Senator Ted Cruz hinted at the existence of this file network in his public statements.

The reality of this is simple in the Trump Administration must recover this database for National Security, as Phillip Haney literally developed a complete dossier on the Muslim Mafia which has infiltrated the United States from government to press, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions must convene a Grand Jury to indict all those involved in this crime of aiding terrorists, and that starts with image Obama, Valerie Jarrett, CIA Director Clapper and Homeland Security heads, Napolitano and Johnson.

Mr. Haney reported that when queried about this file an his name, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson who was involved in hacking Georgia State voting operations, termed it a political matter and claimed to have never heard of Phillip Haney.

N.B.: Jeff Sessions is not yet Attorney General.

In closing, one cannot help but wonder if — and hope that — there is a role for Philip Haney in the Trump administration. Personally, I would have downloaded a copy of the database to a memory stick and kept it securely at home. Perhaps he did.

Friday, January 20, marked the beginning of the Don of a new era for the United States.

As many have said, it is always darkest before the Don.

What follows are highlights of not only Inauguration Day but the whole weekend.

Far from being austere, as many of us expected, it was wall-to-wall activity from dawn to dusk!

Before the post unfolds, let’s remember that:

It is possible because Big Media are — and have been — plain contrary. That’s an archaic use of contrary, but, in that sense, it means stubborn and resistant to reason.

All credit to Bill Mitchell, he boarded the Trump Train just before or after the Republican National Convention. Even though he objected to Pepe the Frog, the unofficial Trump mascot, he duly apologised on Twitter. Pepe gained traction with Hillary Clinton, who even lambasted the cartoon frog in a campaign speech.

Bill Mitchell hosts and presents YourVoice™ Radio, likely to become more popular over the next four years.

Even more interesting is this quote from Pastor Robert Jeffress, a big Trump supporter:

Thursday, January 19

January 19 was a busy day for the Trump family.

Flight from La Guardia to Joint Base Andrews

Donald Trump’s flight with his family, including his two sisters and brother, would be the last one he would take before becoming president.

Fox 10 Phoenix has a great video of the plane landing at Andrews. The interesting bit starts at 10:55 when someone on board tells ten-year-old Barron to leave the plane first. Not surprisingly, Barron, unusually wearing his hair over his forehead, is reluctant. The future first couple disembark at the 13:00 point. The extensive motorcade departs at 17:07, complete with a first-responder truck and an ambulance. The black Chevy Suburban vans are reinforced just like armoured cars:

Inauguration Luncheon

Once in DC, the Trumps went to the Trump International Hotel (The Old Post Office), where the incoming president held an Inauguration Luncheon to honour Republican Party leaders:

Welcome Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial

That afternoon, the Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration took place in front of the massive — and grand — Lincoln Memorial, which is considerably larger than one imagines. Seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

A variety of musical acts, including splendid military bands, performed. Trump gave a speech before a display from Grucci Fireworks ended the event in the early evening. Unfortunately, the last two displays let the whole thing down. ‘USA’ appeared as ‘USR’ and the American flag was, sadly, a blur. It is a pity, because their fireworks show before that was excellent.

This short video from Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media, gives a great summary of the event, including the fireworks. From left to right are Tiffany Trump (mother is Marla Maples Trump), Ivanka (Ivana Trump), the first couple, granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter), Donald Jr (Ivana) with his wife Vanessa and son, then to the far right, Eric (Ivana) and his wife:

The first couple contemplated the larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln:

The event ended with the new first couple thanking their supporters. Never mind the sentiment from a Twitter user. I wanted to show you just how ‘yuuge’ Lincoln’s statue is:

The Daily Mail has a comprehensive article, complete with photos and a video, about the concert and Trump’s address at the end, just before the fireworks.

Interestingly, Trump had a special meeting afterwards with a 23-year-old single father, Shane Bouvet, from Illinois who had given an interview to the Washington Post just days before. Trump saw the article and made sure he could meet the man, who is struggling to make ends meet. The billionaire had a private conversation with Bouvet and gave him a cheque for $10,000.

Campaign donors dinner

However, the evening had only just begun. A dinner to thank campaign donors took place afterwards at DC’s majestic Union Station. Both the Trumps and the Pences attended and addressed their guests.

Mike Pence opened his remarks by saying the administration would repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump (2:59) said that choosing Mike Pence was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He then went on to talk about the amazing election results where Republicans won in states they had lost forever. He mentioned Iowa. They had not won there since 1952. He then spoke about his cabinet nominees. The high point, however, was when he thanked Kellyanne Conway (18:28), the first successful female presidential campaign manager in American history. (I don’t understand what these feminists were protesting at the weekend in DC. Surely, Kellyanne’s success and the many women employees at the Trump Organization prove them wrong.)

Then it was time to turn in for some rest. The Pences returned to their house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which they rented and moved to soon after the election.

The first couple and family members spent the night at Blair House, a complex of four buildings for guests of the president.

The photo below shows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner at Blair House. Kushner will play a principal role as a presidential adviser. Both are practising Jews. Ivanka converted before her wedding. Kushner recently gave up holdings in his family real estate firm to be able to take on his new role:

Inauguration Day

Early in the morning, preparations for the inauguration ceremony began.

Meanwhile, Bikers For Trump were arriving in Washington, DC to form ‘a wall of meat’ in case the new president needed protection. Days earlier, Clinton family friend Dominic Puopolo, 51, was arrested by Miami Beach police for saying that he would be at the inauguration to ‘kill President Trump’.

This photo shows Donald Trump ready to leave Blair House in Washington, DC early in the morning of January 20. Trump’s granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican Party, are to the right of Trump:

Church service

From there, it was on to a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church (Episcopal) — known as the Church of the Presidents — in Lafayette Square, near the White House. The rector, the Reverend Dr. Luis León, greeted the first couple in front of the church.

They were joined by family and prominent well wishers. The first couple are on the far left centre of the photo. The Pences are in the lower left-hand corner:

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress delivered the sermon:

Meeting at the White House

The first couple left St John’s for the White House, where they had coffee with the Obamas:

Melania Trump gave a large gift from Tiffany & Co to Michelle Obama. Presenting a gift is a tradition from an incoming first lady to a departing one.

Afterwards, it was on to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony:

Inauguration ceremony

Trump quipped at the donor’s dinner the night before that he didn’t care if it rained on Inauguration Day, because at least people would see that his hair was real!

The incoming president awaited his cue inside the Capitol building:

All living former presidents are invited to attend the inauguration and are seated near the front. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn, William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary and George W Bush (Bush II) and Laura were in attendance.

George H W Bush (Bush I) and Barbara sent in their acceptance but were hospitalised days earlier. On Tuesday, January 10, he sent Trump a cordial, witty letter of regret.

Although Bush II tweeted the following earlier, at the swearing-in ceremony, he joked ad nauseam with the Clintons, seated next to him and Laura, signifying to the television viewer that he was closer to them than to Trump, his fellow Republican. But we all knew that the Bushes were NeverTrumpers because they said so.

Despite Trump’s sincerity, here’s the hypocrisy of it all. Dan Scavino Jr, rightly, took it sincerely. Then, the live coverage rolled and something else entirely was on display. Trump, no doubt, expected something different based on this (Bush I was the 41st president, by the way):

These were the prayers offered before the inauguration by clergy who were principal Trump supporters:

The Revd Franklin Graham did not hesitate to say there is only one God:

Please note:

Here is the swearing-in by Chief Justice John Roberts. The first couple’s son, Barron, 10, is to the right of the first lady. She held two closed Bibles, the Lincoln Bible (bottom) and Trump’s own, a gift from his mother (top):

Entertainment Weekly reports that Trump’s inauguration received the second highest television ratings for that event. Top-rated was Obama’s first swearing-in, which 37.8m Americans watched in 2009. Trump’s audience was 30.6m. However, Heavy points out that, in 1981, 41.8m people watched Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. That places Obama in second place and Trump in third. Definitive online viewing figures are unavailable at this time.

Important lines from the inaugural speech included the following. First, on the elites, several of whom were present. Politico reported:

“Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.” He also made a promise: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Also these (see here, here and here):

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

The closing lines were the following:

To Americans: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again – and yes, together, WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

However, most important were Trump’s mentions of God, including:

We will be protected by God.

You can view the full speech here or here. You can find the transcript here and here.

WND‘s Garth Kant wrote of the contrast between Trump and his predecessor with regard to the inauguration speech:

Trump mentioned himself just three times in the 1,400 words he delivered in his speech lasting 16 minutes and 20 seconds. He referred to the American people 45 times.

By comparison, Obama, as is his wont, mentioned himself 207 times in 84 minutes while campaigning for Hillary during a November speech ostensibly about her.

And, to make sure it was crystal clear that there has been a sea change not just in style but also in substance, Trump emphatically uttered the Obama administration’s three forbidden words: “radical Islamic terrorism,” which, he promised, “we will eliminate from the face of the earth.”

Kant channelled JFK’s Camelot:

However, the speech wasn’t just about ending American erosion. It was about a bright new beginning. Just as did Kennedy, Trump envisioned a promising future. One in which:

“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

One could arguably call it Kenndyesque.

Kant was most complimentary of the first daughter but couldn’t say enough about the new first lady:

This was grace personified.

A stately, poised, and stunning elegance were certainly part of it. But there was more. It wasn’t just what she was wearing. It was her bearing. Her perfectly poised demeanor.

And the crowd could clearly sense it, even if they could no more articulate it than to say “wow” over and over, which was what so many were doing.

She was a regal presence.

There was nobility.

Not because of her new station in life, but because of her carriage. The way she carried herself. Full of poise and grace.

Congressional Lunch

Before lunch, President Trump had work to attend to at the Capitol, signing his cabinet nominations into law. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, WI) is standing next to Barron. At the front are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) and, on the right, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Trump spoke at the lunch and was gracious enough to publicly acknowledge his opponent Hillary Clinton, present with Bill. Trump’s daughter Tiffany sat at their table. You can see all the speeches here.

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) once again lent their Eagle Lectern for use at the luncheon.

Inaugural parade

The Trumps walked for two minutes in the inaugural parade:

After the walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, the motorcade drove up to the White House, where the Trumps, Pences and family members disembarked and walked to the reviewing stand.

Barron probably found the two-hour event overwhelming at times (I would have), but he enjoyed himself:

The military bands played and marched past, as did a myriad of high school and university bands and special groups representing American history and service.

One of the those groups was the Navajo Code Talkers. Only two were able to make it to the parade. One of my readers, the author of the Pacific Paratrooper blog, wrote about their invaluable role in the Pacific during the Second World War. Well worth a read.

The Talledega College Marching Tornado Band from Alabama participated for the first time. Talledega is an all black college founded by two former slaves after the Civil War. Their band director received threats when he said the college wanted to perform in the parade. Since then, they have received more than $1m in donations which will be dedicated to the band’s needs. Talledega are a special band, because the college has no football team, so they rely on band contests and big parades such as this.

The full video of the parade is below. New York Military Academy, Trump’s alma mater, are at 2:03. Talledega are at 2:09. The Navajo Code Talkers are at 2:14. Virginia Military Institute closed the parade.

But, for Barron, the big highlight was the Rural Tractor Brigade (2:22:00), magnificently souped up. Look at his face (2:23:00). He beams and says, ‘Yesss!’ At 2:24:00, it looks as if Mike Pence sees the lad’s enthusiasm. He probably thought, ‘We’ve got to get him to Indiana for a tractor ride!’ (Separate tractor video here.)

After the parade

President Trump was eager to do some work before attending the evening’s events:

The Daily Mail has more.

Inaugural balls

The president and first lady — and the Pences — attended three inaugural balls.

Two took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The other was held at the National Building Museum.

Donald Trump Jr, his wife Vanessa and daughter Kai were ready to go:

This video shows President Trump and First Lady Melania at one of the balls dancing to My Way:

At the Armed Services Ball, the Trumps and Pences danced with military personnel (starts at 2:21):

There was also a magnificent cake for all to enjoy:

You can read press pool reports here and here.

First lady and first daughters attire

Melania Trump’s stunning inauguration outfit was a Ralph Lauren creation.

The first lady co-designed her striking silk crepe inaugural ballgown with Hervé Pierre, former creative director at Carolina Herrera. This stunning creation will help him launch his own couture house.

Pierre told Women’s Wear Daily:

“It was an amazing experience!” he continued, noting that Trump’s contributions were technical as well as aesthetic. “She knows what she likes. Our conversations were, and are, very easy. She knows about fashion, as a former model. She is aware about constructions, so we have already the same vocabulary when it comes to designing a dress.”

Ivanka Trump’s sparkling gown came from Carolina Herrera’s fashion house. Tiffany Trump purchased her gown from a Hollywood design house, Simin Couture. Ladies will enjoy full size photos and the article in the Daily Mail.

Saturday, January 21

Newspapers from around the world featured the inauguration on their front pages.

Saturday was a day of prayer and work for President Trump.

Prayer came first.

National Prayer Service

The National Prayer Service was held at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, DC.

It featured 26 religious leaders. Most were Christian. Others came from world faiths such as Judaism and Islam as well as more diverse groups, such as the Navajo Nation.

The following are short videos and photos from the service:

This girl, Marlana Van Hoose, was born blind and given only a year to live. The video below is from the service. She received a standing ovation afterwardsled by the First Lady!

Marlana is a committed Christian, firm in her faith. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice. She praises Him in song splendidly. She is yet another argument against abortion. May God bless her parents for giving her life and good, loving care.

In the next photo we see the Trumps and the Pences in the front row. May God bless them and keep them safe in the years ahead.

Sunday, January 22

On a lighter note, one of Trump’s grandsons feels at home in the White House:

Later, there was serious work to attend to:

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent post on this group of people, most of whom hold no political office (emphases in the original):

This afternoon President Trump and Vice-President Pence participated in swearing in the White House Senior Staff.  These are officials who represent the office of the President.  For the first time in modern political history, these are mostly ordinary citizen staff members from outside public office….

…A representative staff of outsiders, reflecting a

representative government for outsiders… Forgotten no more.

President Donald Trump has only selected a group of 30 people for commission to act as officers of the President and representatives of the White House.  Together with their families, the official ceremony to pledge an oath to their office took place this afternoon.

Then:

Like millions around the world, I am praying in thanksgiving for the new president’s safe inauguration. We were very worried something would prevent it from taking place.

Now we look ahead, remaining prayerful for success.

How blessed America is! How blessed the world is!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.                      2 Chronicles 7:14

In His infinite mercy, God heard our prayers and acknowledged our repentance by giving us Donald Trump. Those were words I never thought I would write, yet, here we are.

Here is a useful graphic from The_Donald:

https://i.redd.it/ranvv3bhsh9y.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is worth bookmarking to see what the comparison will look like at the end of 2021.

President Obama gave his farewell speech in Chicago on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

The Daily Caller provided this summary:

President Obama referred to himself 75 times in his farewell address Tuesday night, according to a review of his prepared remarks by The Daily Caller.

Obama heavily promoted the speech, penning a blog post about it and appearing in a promotional video in the days leading up to the address.

Obama said “I” 33 times during the speech, “my” 20 times, “me” 10 times, and “I’m” or “I’ve” 12 times.

The president made a habit of focusing large chunks of his speeches on himself during his eight years in office.

Democrat operative Bob Creamer, who appeared in the stunningly frank undercover video about violent harrassment of Donald Trump supporters, was seated in the front row (photo courtesy of The_Donald):

This is the Project Veritas video from James O’Keefe which I wrote about in October 2016 (language alert, but the truth must out):

It is interesting that the day before Obama gave his farewell address, this took place:

It is incredible that so many were taken in by a man who, from his candidacy, had all his personal records sealed. Then they re-elected him!

A number of Democrats left the party before Election Day in 2008 and became independents. They were correct in suspecting something wasn’t right.

Below is a graphic from Dr Leonard Coldwell which explains the outgoing incumbent well. After all, we have nothing else to go on other than a contrived, ghostwritten autobiography.

https://i2.wp.com/drleonardcoldwell.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/11741177_10207114359759501_8772515724525482791_o.jpg

‘They already are lost’, but not for long. Recovery begins on the afternoon of January 20. It cannot come soon enough.

Obama pledged transparency. Americans who could see through him knew he was disingenuous.

For the first time in decades, the United States will have a president who is transparent. Like him or loathe him, he’s an open book.

That president will also love America as she’s never been loved before in our lifetime. Bring it on.

Acrylic paint has several advantages, among them ease of use and quick drying time.

Unfortunately, it isn’t very good for subtle tones. As a result, the finished canvas often looks sophomoric.

However, for high school art classes, acrylic’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Art

I’ve only ever seen two acrylic paintings that were any good. Both were by an amateur artist who exhibited them at an art fair in our area last year.

The artist did well to paint on small canvases which allowed her to use the medium to its best advantage: achieving fine detail.

That sounds contradictory, however, this lady’s paintings — one of a field of poppies, the other of daisies — were marvellous. She must have spent a lot of time on them, because all the leaves of grass were visible and natural, as were the dozens of flower petals. Both were pleasing to the eye and a joy to look at.

It was clear the artist understood and had perfected her brush strokes with the medium.

By contrast, I had a friend many years ago who painted large canvases with acrylic and achieved mediocre results for the most part. He was unable to properly blend one colour into another. That happens to most big-canvas acrylic artists who try to paint portraits or street scenes. Acrylic is best left for the abstract which requires dramatic colour and broad brush strokes.

An example of an acrylic painting follows. Subject matter aside, the brush strokes need work, a common mistake. Art teachers really need to teach students more about brush control, particularly according to paint medium.

The Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Washington DC, is home to an exhibit of artwork by American high school students, winners of the Congressional Art competition. The artwork changes every year.

This photo shows part of the current selection, which, as you can see, is of high quality. I particularly like the masterful detail in the painting of the pair of shoes in the lower left hand corner.

The other painting which is striking is the black Liberty in the upper right hand corner. That student understands brush control, texture and subtlety.

There is a noticeable gap on the wall. An acrylic painting hung there, but a Republican congressman removed it for its subject matter. The amateurish acrylic brush strokes are a greater reason why it should not be there. Bill Clark of CQ Roll Call took this photo of Untitled #1:

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the annual student art exhibit on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. The painting was selected as the 2016 Congressional Art Competition winner from Rep. William Lacy Clay's district in the St. Louis area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, comes so close. The technique holds it back.

Roll Call reports:

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has removed from display in the Cannon tunnel the controversial student art contest painting of police-community relations in Ferguson, Missouri, that depicts police officers as animals.

A Huffington Post reporter first tweeted a photograph of the empty space and said that Hunter removed it.

Hunter took it upon himself to take down the painting, Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s office later confirmed. It was sponsored by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who had defended it.

Reichert, who spent 33 years in law enforcement, had criticized the artwork earlier, and gave Hunter a phone call on Friday after finding out about the removal.

Fox News tells us that the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement which read in part:

“The rehanging of this painting for public view represents more than just protecting the rights of a student artist, it is a proud statement in defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression to every American,” the statement said, noting it had been “removed without permission or proper authority” by Hunter. 

Hunter, R-Calif., personally unscrewed and removed the painting last Friday, saying he was angered by its depiction of law enforcement officers. He then delivered the painting to Clay’s office. 

“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to,” Hunter told FoxNews.com at the time, “but I’m allowed to take it down.” 

The painting, hanging since June, was done by high school student David Pulphus, who had won Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition. 

However:

After the piece was removed Friday, Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a statement they were “very pleased.”

He said: “At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”

One could make a case for both points of view.

However, looking at the other Congressional Art winners on the wall, it does seem as if the painting was chosen for its subject matter rather than its artistry.

Art teachers should spend the first few lessons teaching brush technique. A small canvas will help students greatly in developing the patience — and art — of working with acrylics. Instead, I suspect, they teach colour mixing, perspective and get the students to begin expressing themselves boldly straightaway.

I arrived at this conclusion after attending an evening a few years ago with the since-deceased London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell who studied at the Courtauld. He told us that a university art student sought his advice about improving his painting. Sewell advised the student to buy finer brushes — the type used to achieve detail on feathers and fur — and really practice with them before committing to a working canvas. Sewell lamented the lack of today’s training even at Britain’s best art schools. The brushes are on sale, he said, but teachers ignore them, consequently, students are unaware of them. The instructors, he concluded, are not interested in teaching fine art.

Reality

Moving on to Untitled #1‘s subject matter, it is surprising that, after two terms — eight years — of the nation’s first black president at the helm, America has such a racially divisive atmosphere, the likes of which have not been seen since the late 1960s when civil rights laws were just coming into existence.

Sadly, Obama never visited Ferguson. Instead, he sent Attorney General Eric Holder. However, the situation was so violent by then that the president should have made the journey himself. He missed a great opportunity to converse with the residents in person. He could have appealed for calm by giving them more facts behind the events, excerpted below:

Michael Brown robbed a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store of two handfuls of cigarillos just minutes before Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him on Aug. 9, according to his friend Dorian Johnson’s testimony before a St. Louis County grand jury. Wilson testified Brown’s possession of the cigarillos was the impetus behind the encounter that ultimately led to his death.

Wilson avoided indictment on criminal charges Monday after the grand jury decided there was a lack of probable cause to suggest that he committed a crime. The decision generated widespread outrage, particularly in Ferguson, where police used tear gas to subdue crowds that started fires and destroyed property.

In the days and months after Brown’s death, the convenience store robbery was considered a major factor in determining his and Wilson’s motives during their fatal encounter …

Johnson testified he had planned to pay for the cigarillos, but Brown reached over the counter and grabbed them. Brown walked toward the door and the store clerk rushed around the counter to prevent his exit. He shoved the clerk and left the store. As they walked out, the clerk said he would call the police …

But as Johnson and Brown walked down the middle of Canfield Drive, they encountered Wilson’s police cruiser. Wilson testified he told the pair to move to the sidewalk, prompting a vulgar response from Brown. “It was a very unusual and not expected response from a simple request,” Wilson told the grand jury …

Johnson testified Wilson initiated physical contact, that he never saw Brown throw a punch and that Brown was outside the police cruiser when Wilson shot him.

Wilson testified he acted in self-defense after Brown punched him and attempted to grab his gun. During the struggle for the gun, he said, Brown “had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

Obama could have also explained that the average citizen looks at each police incident as an isolated event. By contrast, law enforcement officers see things differently. They encounter criminals or strange situations all the time. It’s what they do. They are trained professionals.

A 2015 US Department of Justice report agreed with Wilson’s actions (p. 84 of the PDF). The quotation below explains how difficult it is to fully judge a situation when seconds could mean life or death (emphasis mine):

While Brown did not use a gun on Wilson at the SUV, his aggressive actions would have given Wilson reason to at least question whether he might be armed, as would his subsequent forward advance and reach toward his waistband. This is especially so in light of the rapidly-evolving nature of the incident. Wilson did not have time to determine whether Brown had a gun and was not required to risk being shot himself in order to make a more definitive assessment.

For my readers who do not live in the United States, it is important to understand that American police shoot more white suspects than black. A 2016 study conducted at Harvard revealed the statistics. Emphases in the original below:

The study was conducted by the Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., an African-American, who said it produced “the most surprising result of my career.” His team studied over 1,300 police shootings in 10 major police departments over the 2000-2015 span …

When encountering a suspect, police officers were about 16-19% more likely to use their hands on the suspect, push the person into a wall or to the ground, use handcuffs, and draw their weapons, if the suspect was black. They were also 24-25% more likely to point their weapons or use pepper spray or batons on a black suspect.

But when it came to shooting the suspects, police officers were more likely to fire without having first been attacked if the suspects were white. Additionally, the study learned that black and white civilians in the shootings were equally likely to be carrying a weapon.

And while zeroing in on the police department in Houston to get a more detailed picture, Mr. Fryer found that in situations of justifiable use of force, when, for instance, the officer is being attacked by the suspect, officers were 20% less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Accounting for other control factors in tense situations, Mr. Fryer saw similar results that there was either no difference between how blacks and whites were treated or that blacks were less likely to be shot.

Furthermore, police kill more whites and Hispanics than blacks. The Daily Wire has an equally interesting set of statistics from Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

1. Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force,” according to Mac Donald in a speech at Hillsdale College.

2. More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks. According to Mac Donald, 12 percent of white and Hispanic homicide deaths were due to police officers, while only four percent of black homicide deaths were the result of police officers.

“If we’re going to have a ‘Lives Matter’ anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter,'” said Mac Donald in her Hillsdale speech.

4. Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than white officers. This is according to a Department of Justice report in 2015 about the Philadelphia Police Department, and is further confirmed that by a study conducted University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway in 2015 that determined black cops were 3.3 times more likely to fire a gun than other cops at a crime scene. 

5. Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops. This is according to FBI data, which also found that 40 percent of cop killers are black. According to Mac Donald, the police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing an unarmed black person.

MacDonald concluded that the ‘Ferguson Effect’ has resulted in a 17% murder spike in America’s 50 largest cities (emphases mine):

as a result of cops being more reluctant to police neighborhoods out of fear of being labeled as racists. Additionally, there have been over twice as many cops victimized by fatal shootings in the first three months of 2016.

It should also be noted that, contrary to 50 years ago, the United States has many more minority police officers. They get shot, too.

Master Sgt Debra Clayton lost her life on duty in Orlando on January 9, 2017. She had served 17 years as a law enforcement officer.

Clayton was one of the first responders to the Pulse shooting in June 2016. She was also a loving wife, a devoted mother and a caring neighbour. The photo below comes courtesy of the Orlando Police Department via the Orlando Sentinel:

OPD officer shot and killed; deputy dies in crash

The Sentinel reports that she:

was gunned down Monday morning near a Wal-Mart on John Young Parkway and Princeton Street in Pine Hills while confronting 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who is wanted for murder.

Markeith Loyd is wanted for the fatal shooting on December 13, 2016 of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon:

“Markeith Loyd is a suspect this community is familiar with. He should be considered armed and dangerous. He is a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in the jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff Office,” [police chief John] Mina said.

Dixon’s brother, Ronald Steward, was also shot and critically injured when he tried to come to her aid, investigators said.

Loyd is currently on the run. Interestingly, the admins at Facebook have not suspended his page:

It gets no realer then me,like it or not I’m go keep it 1,000…. I wear no mask,what you see is what you get..

Local ABC affiliate WFTV reported:

A witness to the shooting said the gunman was wearing a shirt that read “security,” but Mina said Loyd was not a security guard.

“(The shooter) was an average-looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything,” witness James Herman told Channel 9. “I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down. He took off running. It’s unreal.”

Herman said the man continued to shoot behind him as he was running from the scene.

As he was running, he was shooting back, he was shooting backwards,” Herman said. “I hit the ground on the side over here because I wasn’t sure where the shooting was coming from at first.”

Clayton was outside the Walmart when she was approached by a shopper, Herman said. 

The customer walked up to her and said that someone they were looking for, wanted, was in the store in the line to check out,” he said. “She went in there, I guess, to confront him. As she was going back to Walmart, he was coming out, and he shot her.”

May Master Sgt Debra Clayton rest in peace. My condolences to her many friends and family at this difficult time.

What this goes to show is how complex — and dangerous — law enforcement is. I have not been the greatest supporter of the police in the past, but reading about these recent cases has given me pause for thought. Perhaps others feel the same way.

It’s easy for us, so far away from the line of fire, to criticise people who put their lives on the line every day for our safety.

The Republican-majority House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 stating that any federal regulations approved since May 2016 could be made null and void after president-elect Donald Trump assumes office.

Last-minute regulations approved by a president near the end of his term in office are called midnight rules.

What congressmen have approved is a shotgun approach, whereby only one majority vote would be needed to repeal any or all of these recent regulations — provided Donald Trump gave his official approval as president.

Reuters reports (emphases mine):

Under a law known as the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the right to review regulations for a certain period of time after they are issued. That means any federal regulation approved since May could be voided by the Republican-led Congress once President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House and can sign off on their disapproval.

Also:

On its second day back in session, the House passed the bill on a vote of 238 to 184. The Senate is expected to soon consider companion legislation, which could face a harder time because it would need eight votes from Democrats.

However:

It takes only a simple majority of both chambers to reverse a rule, giving Senate Democrats little power to block a vote with a filibuster.

Those on the Left — including Democrats and the media — will say that the Republicans are putting Americans at risk by rolling back Obama administration regulations on energy, the environment, transportation, banking, finance, education and media ownership. In fact, another Reuters report states that Democrat legislators:

acknowledge they lack the votes needed to stop repeal legislation being pushed by Republicans, who will control the White House and both chambers of Congress when Trump takes office. But they are warning of the risks of the repeal legislation in hopes of spurring a public backlash against it.

This negative campaign will centre around Obamacare:

The emerging Democratic strategy is to warn that Republicans risk throwing the entire U.S. healthcare system into chaos by moving to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, without a plan to replace it.

The narrative that has been circulating for several days at least is that people will be left uninsured overnight. Trump said that would not happen. He pledged during his campaign that a new health insurance system would be developed which would give people a choice. It won’t be done overnight.

Suddenly leaving millions of Americans uninsured for health would not make sense and would create chaos for everyone, the sick and health providers alike. It’s not going to happen, so don’t believe any hype appearing in the media over the next few weeks.

See and hear what Mike Pence had to say on January 4 about an ‘orderly transition’ regarding the future of health care (5:00 in):

Going back to the first Reuters article, there are two points to be made in defence of this bill.

First, some of these new regulations hark back to circumstances during Obama’s first term and were finalised only within the last several months:

Many Wall Street regulations inspired by the 2007-09 financial crisis have only recently taken final form or are on the cusp of completion, putting them in the disapproval line of fire. That includes two pending rules on payday lending and mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts – both of which have raised Republican ire.

Secondly, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte pointed out:

Because outgoing administrations are no longer accountable to the voters, they are much more prone to issue midnight regulations that fly in the face of the electoral mandate the voters just gave the new, incoming administration. Waves of midnight rules can also be very hard for Congress or a new administration to check adequately.

As Zero Hedge points out, this measure could whittle down Obama’s legacy considerably.

Sounds like a great start to 2017.

For those of us who are looking forward to Obama’s imminent departure from the White House, here is the countdown site. Let us pray he leaves on schedule.

On December 6, 2016, the Associated Press featured a puff piece on the hard work the Obama administration has been doing to fight ISIS. Their efforts have been:

relentless, sustainable and multilateral.

The US is:

“breaking the back” of IS.

That’s odd. Does anyone else remember when the great man said that ISIS is America’s ‘JV team’? That was in January 2014. (For my readers who aren’t American, the letters stand for ‘junior varsity’, a reference to high school and university sports teams.)

Two years later:

Putin explained it all in 2015:

Returning to the AP article, that same day, the White House issued this tweet:

Incredible.

What about Orlando last summer? What about San Bernardino in December 2015? What about the Boston Marathon attack? What about Fort Hood? Remember when Obama called that attack ‘workplace violence’?

Several other attacks also took place on American soil over the past eight years.

Reddit has a forum of all the present incumbent’s achievements: All of Obama’s Controversies.

Soon, the Obama family will be moving to a splendid house in the Washington DC neighbourhood of Kalorama. That day cannot come soon enough.

Note that one can never be far from the influence of the Clintons. The AOL article states:

The $5 million mansion is owned by Bill Clinton’s former Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and his wife, a magazine executive.

And, for anyone interested:

The Obamas will lease, but not purchase the house.

More to come on the Obama legacy in the new year.

For now, here’s a photo from St Louis taken in 2013:

https://i1.wp.com/i.imgur.com/tx3izNQ.jpg

 

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