Let’s Play Diplomacy

Another Saturday and a visit from my granddaughter…..one of the brighter moments of my weekend…..

First a little something disgusting to make your Saturday.

We are always talking about GMOs and how disgusting the whole idea is….I proved my point with a tomato I bought 2 weeks ago…..it is firm red and delicious looking…after 2 weeks of sitting on my shelf….I got what you see below….still firm and red and delicious looking but it was sprouting already….

 

Moving on….my granddaughter likes playing games…we play chess, dominoes, and backgammon (she is still learning this one)…..

She knows that I am a foreign policy wonk and is always asking questions along those lines….she seem interested so I decided to introduce her to the world of diplomacy…

There is a board game, Diplomacy, and now it can be played on-line…..It’s a multiplayer, web based implementation of the turn based strategy game Diplomacy by Avalon Hill, in which you have to try and conquer Europe. To win you have to be strategic and diplomatic, making deals and alliances with other players, and stabbing them in the back when it suits you best.

Source: Play Diplomacy Online ::: web version of the classic Diplomacy board game

It is an excellent way to learn about diplomacy and international relations…..The game of Risk is good but Diplomacy is better by ten….

(NO!  I am not being compensated in any way for my review of the game)

Finish your day with a smile and love in your heart…I will return tomorrow with much more stuff.

Russia….Russia…..Russia!

There has been a wealth of ink wasted on this Russia thing….did Russia meet with any candidates to decide the future?  Or did it not?

If you really do not know about all this wasted time and energy then get up and use the Google machine….you can learn it all….and from whatever side you want……

I am not here to join in that debate….I will do what I always do….give my readers a history lesson….or if you like a historical perspective….

You see if Trump and/or his minions met with someone from the Russia oligarchy then it is NOTHING new.  That is right…it is nothing new!

Whatever are you talking about professor?

First let’s talk about the Nixon years….and the Vietnam Peace talks….

Journalist Robert Parry, editor of Consortiumnews.com, may be the most knowledgeable journalist about the GOP use of foreign policy subterfuge (some might call it treason) to successfully win the 1968 and 1980 elections. He has compiled the evidence in his latest book, “America’s Stolen Narrative.”

It is a persuasive account of the beginning of de facto stolen presidential elections by the GOP, which in turn has led to a lack of accountability for executive branch actions by the DC code of silence among the powerful. These elections (with the exception of Watergate) taught the Republicans, Parry contends, that there would be no consequences for law-breaking behavior in elections and foreign policy.

Source: How Richard Nixon Sabotaged 1968 Vietnam Peace Talks to Get Elected President

Next up is the Reagan campaign of 1980….and the Iranian hostage thing……

“A conspiracy between a presidential candidate and a hostile foreign power against an incumbent president would seem to be without precedent in American history. But if Reagan struck a successful deal with Iran and captured the presidency in 1980, it would explain why he agreed to the bizarre alliance with Iran in 1985 and 1986: He had gotten away with it before.”—B. Honegger and J. Naureckas, In These Times, July 7, 1987.

The charge has been raised, first in the Middle Eastern and European press and now in the US, that in 1980 while Jimmy Carter was frantically negotiating for an early release of American hostages in Iran, members of the Ronald Reagan campaign staff made the Ayatollah Khomeini an offer he couldn’t refuse—badly needed US arms and spare parts for his war with Iraq if he kept the US Embassy hostages in Tehran until after election day.

Source: Did Iran Delay Hostages Release To Ensure Reagan’s Election? | WRMEA

Now we come to all the hoopla about the Trump people and their alleged meetings/deals with the Russians.

Is it just me or all these incidents involving GOP candidates?  I am sure there are others and maybe even a Dem in there somewhere but these examples are the ones that readily came to mind.

Did I mention that all these examples are those of GOP candidates?  Is that a pattern or what?

Behind Closed Doors

Nope not some chessey country song from the 80’s……

We have had a little over a  month of a new president (really?  Seems like more than that)….and in all that time there has been one “scandal” after another…..granted none are proven scandals but the whispers are there….like them or not.

And the newest one involves our recently confirmed AG…..

Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the US twice in 2016, but he didn’t disclose those communications during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general. When asked about possible contact between Moscow representatives and Trump campaign members, Sessions specifically said he “did not have communications with the Russians” during the campaign and that he was “not aware of” any other campaign members doing so. Per the Washington Post, the revelation from Justice Department officials could spark more calls from Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Russia’s alleged attempts to interfere with the 2016 election. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal US investigators have looked into the newly released contacts between Sessions and Russia, though it’s not clear whether the investigation has concluded. Following the disclosure of the conversations, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign,” per the AP.

One of the conversations between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak happened in September, when Sessions, then a senator, was a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and one of Trump’s top advisers; officials say Sessions didn’t remember the details of his conversations with Kislyak by the time his confirmation hearing came around, and that the meeting was related to Sessions’ work on the armed services panel, not the Trump campaign. Sessions’ spokesperson says there was nothing “misleading” about his answers at the confirmation hearing because he was only asked about communications related to the campaign, not to his work as a senator. Following the latest revelations, top Democrats have called for Sessions to step down as AG, Mediaite reports. Republicans are split on whether Sessions should lead any potential probe into Russia’s alleged election tampering. A conversation with Kislyak is also what forced Michael Flynn to step down as Trump’s national security adviser.

After the news broke the other night then the slugs came out from under their rocks…….first the Dems gave their typical response…..

Democrats don’t just think that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from an investigation into Russian ties with the Trump campaign, they think he should step down from his post, period. “The Attorney General must resign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement, per the Hill, because he “lied under oath.” Her call for him to resign, echoed by Democrats including Elijah Cummings in the House and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, comes after the Washington Post reported that he met with the Russian ambassador to the US twice during the 2016 campaign. Sessions, an early Trump backer, says he did nothing wrong because he met with Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a senator, not as an advocate for Trump. During his confirmation hearing, he declared, “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Even his party is not above the rhetoric…….

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that while he doesn’t know if the Trump campaign had improper communications with Russians, the attorney general would have to recuse himself from an investigation. “It is clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump,” he said, per Politico.

There is more and more calls from all sectors of the government for an investigation into Russian influence, if there is any……

Top Republicans said Thursday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from federal investigations of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during an appearance on MSNBC that Sessions should bow out to maintain “the trust of the American people.”

Minutes later, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) joined McCarthy’s call, tweeting that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

The calls from two of the House’s most prominent Republicans follow revelations that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during election season. Under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions had said that he had not met with any Russian officials.

(WaPo)

Like I said this news just broke recently…..but it will be very telling to see what track this situation takes from today forward…..

Any bets on how long Sessions will survive as AG?

Update:  There has been turn after this post was published and I would like to get my readers caught up……

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday he would recuse himself from any investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election because he was involved with President Donald Trump’s campaign

“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” Sessions told reporters in the latest twist of the controversy over ties between Trump associates and Russia that has dogged the early days of his presidency.

Now you are caught up….for now……chuq

We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government

I agree with the premise of this article….we have SCOTUS legislating from the bench….we have a Congress that seldom works and when they do they do nothing of substance and we have a president that circumvents the Congress…

In essence we NO longer have what was set up in the Constitution….3 branches of government….

Below is an article written by an ex-member of Congress and a Civics teacher about his observations of our government….

It has been my habit to begin each semester by slowly taking students through the Constitution, each article and section in turn, emphasizing not only each provision but why it was included. Fundamental to the constitutional process, I taught, was the unique delineation of authority and responsibility: the separation of powers that so cleanly distinguished American government from those that had gone before it. There were three branches, independent of each other, with varied duties and roughly equal. The greater power—overtaxing, spending, deciding whether to go to war, confirming members of the president’s Cabinet and justices of the Supreme Court—had been placed in the Congress, I said, because while the Founders had created a republic, they also added a sprinkling of democracy: The people would choose who would do the actual governing. I would underscore this point by noting the provisions that made clear the Framers’ deliberate rejection of a parliamentary system like the ones they had known in Europe, where legislative and executive power were joined. Here, it was to be the people, not the parties, that ruled, I told my students.

Source: We No Longer Have Three Branches of Government – POLITICO Magazine

I totally agree and before this country can be “great” again we need all 3 branches doing their job and only their job.

He, Trump, has had his time in the light…time for him to start acting like the president and become part of the legislative process….

(Side note:  If SCOTUS is not a political position then why is there a political ad for the newest nominee?)

View From The “Sidelines”

There has been a few rumblings that Trump appointed adequate people but has NO intention of allowing them to help make policy…..we cannot know for sure that any of that is anywhere near true…..but a recent report shows that there could be a possibility of a grain of truth in these accusations…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson feels that he has been sidelined—along with the entire State Department—and is looking for ways to boost his profile, insiders say. A State source tells Politico that Tillerson has privately asked aides for advice on boosting his profile and engaging with the media more often. The Washington Post reports that President Trump has relegated the former Exxon CEO to a “mostly offstage role,” with Tillerson usually absent from high-profile meetings with foreign leaders. The State Department’s traditional daily press briefings ceased when Trump took office and there has been no word on when they might resume.

Insiders say one reason Tillerson hasn’t become the face of US foreign policy the way his predecessors were is the fact that his views aren’t always in line with Trump’s. He is “clearly a very talented and able guy,” former State official Eliot Cohen tells Politico. “The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days.” Trump rejected Elliot Abrams, Tillerson’s choice of deputy, for having criticized him. The president has also delegated elements of foreign policy to advisers instead of State, including Israeli-Palestinian talks, where son-in-law Jared Kushner is playing a leading role.

The more we learn the clearer the picture will become…..

History is full of leaders that have appointed people around them but they were nothing more than advertising or for show……appears our new ring master is gonna be one of those……

This situation will be monitored and soon we will see who it is that is sidelined for they will be off like a dirty shirt.  Likewise we will see who the “whores” are that will change to suit their position….(Richard Haas comes to mind)…..

America’s Second Civil War

For around 25 years the US has been in the middle of a second civil war….this time there is no death and destruction but rather fought with ideas and political theater…..

I recently read a great piece in that conservative icon, the National Review…….

It is time that our society acknowledge a sad truth: America is currently fighting its Second Civil War.

In fact, with the obvious and enormous exception of attitudes toward slavery, Americans are more divided morally, ideologically, and politically today than they were during the Civil War. For that reason, just as the Great War came to be known as the First World War once there was a Second World War, the Civil War will become known as the First Civil War when more Americans come to regard the current battle as the Second Civil War.

Source: American Culture – New Civil War | National Review

I do not agree with some of their suppositions the fat is that ………The very soul of the nation is at stake.

Does Size Matter?

There has been a war in the media about the size of the crowd at the inauguration….why does this matter?

There is so much more that needs to be covered.  And why is the president playing this game?  But he, Trump, took the bait and has jumped on this with both flat feet…….

President Trump may not have had the biggest inauguration crowd in history, but he may have made a bigger fuss about media coverage of it than any of his predecessors. Sources tell the Washington Post and CNN that on Saturday morning—the first morning of his presidency—Trump contacted Michael T. Reynolds, the National Park Service’s acting director, to demand more photos of the crowd on the National Mall. Reynolds, who has worked for the service for 30 years, was “taken aback” by the request, but he sent some aerial photos to Trump, according to the Post’s sources. The photos did not, however, provide proof of Trump’s claim that more than a million people had gathered to watch his inauguration.

Reynolds and the NPS have declined to comment, but insiders say Trump also expressed anger over an NPS tweet comparing his crowd to Obama’s, which apparently led to an order for all Interior Department accounts to stop tweeting. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump contacted the NPS. She said the call demonstrated the president is “so accessible, and constantly in touch.” “He’s not somebody who sits around and waits. He takes action and gets things done,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons that he is president today, and Hillary Clinton isn’t.” (Trump was still talking about the size of his inaugural crowd on Wednesday, when he gave his first interview as president.)

All this is so petty….I expect more from a person at the helm of state….but then I could be asking for too much…..

Years ago there was a similar story only it was Glen Beck that was concerned about the size of the crowd and so I looked up just how these sizes are come to…..

Source: Taking It To The Streets – In Saner Thought

This is petty fecal matter….time to let this type of crap go and focus on the country…..put your ego on a desk somewhere and get on with the duties your raised your goddamn hand to……peace out!