CIA Presidential Briefings–Will They Be Watered Down For Donald Trump?

Loved this story.

There’s an old political saw about how a White House candidate believes firmly in his or her foreign policy views – until that first top-secret briefing. In his recent book, former CIA Director Michael Hayden says these revelations are known as “aw s—” moments – as in, “Aw s—, wish we hadn’t said that during that campaign stop in Buffalo.”

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, much of the intelligence information she receives probably will sound familiar. As secretary of state until 2013, Clinton was one of President Barack Obama’s senior advisers who were privy to the President’s Daily Brief – the highest level intelligence document prepared in the United States.

The intelligence briefings could be eye-opening for New York businessman Donald Trump. The Republican’s loose-lipped campaign remarks have left some intelligence and foreign policy officials worried about whether he can keep the nation’s secrets. Trump has said in interviews that he’s looking forward to the briefings.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, whose office arranges the briefings, was asked recently what he would want to say to Trump to help educate the political newcomer about foreign policy and perhaps even counter some of his ideas, such as temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.

Clapper bristled and said the question falsely implied that the U.S. intelligence agencies would have a separate message for each candidate.

“There’s a long-standing practice of briefing each of the candidates once they are officially designated. And that sort of shifts into higher gear, in terms of detail, after the president-elect is known,” Clapper said. “It’s not designed to shape anybody’s world view. We just brief as we normally would – each of them – and they (the briefings) have to be exactly the same.”

But Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he believes many people share his deep concern about Trump’s inexperience with handling classified information.

“I would have to imagine that those concerns are fairly broadly held, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the intelligence briefings received by both candidates – which will be identical – will be at a more generalized level than they might otherwise be,” said Schiff, D-Calif.

Why Bernie Sanders Needs To Leave Presidential Race (Yesterday)

Since mid-March, short of something occurring akin to an event out of an Allen Drury novel, there was no way Bernie Sanders was going to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.  The math was not going to allow it to happen.  Sadly, the only things more numerically challenged than Sanders’ policy proposals were the overly optimistic but severely misguided followers of the Vermont senator who failed to correctly add delegates so to show where the race was heading.   Crying ‘media blackout’ or damming super delegates (a term many of his younger enthusiasts had never even heard of a year ago) seemed a lot easier than understanding political reality.   Perhaps no one should be surprised at this outcome since many of those same people thought college tuition was soon to be free and free-trade was about to be abolished.

Real Democrats are tired of our party being hijacked by someone who was not a member until roughly a year ago.  We are tired of the in-your-face rhetoric from Sanders who has only ratcheted up the political attacks since it became clear months ago there was no way for him to win.  He is a spiteful man with nothing of substance to show for his many years in congress.  What he is selling does not make for passable legislation.  History proves that to be true as he has no claim to any significant legislation authored by his office.  His rhetoric excites a slice of the electorate, who in my judgement, are not as enthused with the idea of governing as much they are about a cult personality.

I have repeatedly called for Sanders to end his one-note campaign about the ills of the rich and allow for the Democratic Party to engage with the Republican contender for the fall election.  If the Socialist Party does not take Sanders seriously as a candidate why should we allow him to attempt a hostile takeover of our party?

Why this matters in real terms is due to the way elections are waged–especially in these months leading up to the conventions.  Most voters have no idea of the ways–come the fall–that what is said and done now in late May and into June will have an impact in November.  Sanders knows these weeks matter and seems intent on harming the Democratic nominee all he can.

I read the words of Dante Chinni and it spells out the political reality that Sanders and his misguided supporters will not yet admit.  The moment Sanders exits the race Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers against Trump will increase.

To get a better look at where the Clinton-Trump race might stand after the nominating dust has settled, we recalculated the latest NBC/WSJ poll with Clinton capturing 70 percent of the Sanders-only vote. The result: those Sanders-only voters are worth an extra five points to Clinton. In the NBC/WSJ poll, Clinton’s advantage over Trump goes from three points to eight points and she leads 51 percent to 43 percent.  

Governor Jerry Brown was most correct when he placed himself on the side of Clinton in the upcoming California primary, stating that the proposed ideas from Donald Trump are seriously flawed and high troubling.  Trump is the reason Democrats should unite.

Sanders would understand that if he were a Democrat.  Or a candidate with an ethical center about this election cycle.  No candidate in good conscience would seek to undermine the eventual nominee of the party unless there was a dark side at play wishing for that nominee to fail.

Donald Trump And Fascism Make For Best Sunday Newspaper Read

There is no doubt that Donald Trump with his aggressive nationalism, overt racism, disdain for reporters, creating disorder among his followers, and a zeal for total control can be correctly termed as leaning fascist.  Today the front page–above the fold–of The New York Times put Trump and other fascists like him world-wide into context.

The debate about terminology may ignore the seriousness of the conditions that gave rise to Mr. Trump and his European counterparts. The New York real estate developer has tapped into a deep discontent in a country where many feel left behind while Wall Street banks get bailouts, newcomers take jobs, terrorists threaten innocents and China rises economically at America’s expense.

“It seems to me in developed and semideveloped countries there is emerging a new kind of politics for which maybe the best taxonomic category would be right-wing populist nationalism,” said Stanley Payne, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We are seeing a new kind of phenomenon which is different from what you had” in the 20th century.

Roger Eatwell, a professor at the University of Bath, in England, calls it “illiberal democracy,” a form of government that keeps the trappings of democracy without the reality.

“Elections are seen as important to legitimizing regimes,” he said, but instead of imposing one-party rule, as in the past, today’s authoritarians “use a variety of devices to control and/or manipulate the media, intimidate opponents” and so on.

Either way, it has found pockets of support on both sides of the Atlantic. Lilia Shevtsova, a political analyst in Moscow, said neo-fascism in liberal societies in the West stems from crisis or dysfunction while in illiberal countries like Russia and Turkey it reflects an attempt to fill the void left by the failure of Western notions to catch on.

The problem, she added, is that “the Western political leadership at the moment is too weak to fight the tide.”

Vatican Conspiracy Over Third Secret Of Fatima, Papal Mystery Over Dual Popes

What better way to start blogging on a Sunday than to offer up a modern-day Vatican conspiracy.  When it comes to political intrigue the secrets within the Vatican can not be out done.

So far, most of the media attention has been focused on the three Fatima “secrets” that the Catholic Church believes were vouchsafed by the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portuguese town of Fatima in 1917.

Two of the prophecies were published back in the in the 1940s but the Third Secret – supposedly too dangerous to reveal – remained sealed in the Vatican archives.

That silence naturally inflamed the religious imaginations of true believers in the secret prophecy.

So to calm the fevers, Saint John Paul II ordered the Third Secret published in full in 2000. He also had his top theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issue an accompanying explanation of the prophecy’s graphic descriptions of persecution and murdered popes and bishops.

But conspiracy theories die hard. And this year, shortly after the May 13 feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a traditionalist blog published claims that Ratzinger – who was elected Benedict XVI after John Paul died in 2005 – told a friend that there was more in the secret than had been published.

The blog also suggested that the hidden bits were dark predictions about the current papacy of Pope Francis and the turmoil, and even heresies, that some conservatives believe Francis has encouraged.

The charges were so explosive that the Vatican press office on May 21 issued a forceful denial directly quoting the frail, 89-year-old former pope. Benedict called the reports “pure inventions, absolutely untrue” and confirmed that “the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima is complete.”

Of course, not all Fatima devotees were convinced, and some argued that the denial was just part of the conspiracy – and so it goes.

And then there is this nugget.

But just as the Fatima story was making headlines, Benedict’s longtime personal aide, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, delivered a surprisingly candid speech that reignited the equally potent issue of whether there are two popes or one, or whether the papacy itself has been redefined.

Conservative House Members Feel Bite Of ‘Regular Order’

As a process democrat (small ‘d’) I am in favor of what is termed ‘regular order’ when it comes to how congress conducts business with bills on the floor.  What happened this week with a much-needed and non-controversial water bill has again forced the question if this is the best way to get business done in Washington.

I think an open process where amendments from either party can be offered for debate is a fair way to proceed.  Up or down, let the issues be raised and the votes taken.  It will show either the strength of an argument or the weakness of a party.

This week regular order underscored the bigotry and bile that is front and center in the Republican Party when a Democratic offering to protect gay people was voted down, and with it the entire funding measure.

What makes this so compelling a story for political junkies like myself is that the background to this week’s events shows that what the GOP House wanted they now are having a hard time living with.

Well, democracy can be a rough road at times.

We need to recall that former House Speaker John Boehner was ousted in part due to the style he used when controlling what amendments and bills would be allowed in floor votes.  The caucus wanted  a greater say in the fate of legislation.  Ryan  did just that and now allows committees to send bills to the floor and opened many of them to amendments.    But what we are witnessing is the fact that too many conservatives who won election to the house are not able to govern and have no concept of what it takes to make their body run in an effective manner.

Many times in politics one has to embrace a large portion of what is liked while at the same time accepting portions that is not desired.  Too few of the conservative rabble-rousers are able to understand that foundation of politics.  That was most evident this week.

Partisans will say that Democrats played unfair with the amendment.  Honest Republicans, however, will have to admit that they would have done the same.   And have done so for years.

Regular order should not be blamed for the failure of this funding bill to pass. Instead the content and character of Republican conservatives need to be examined and changed.

GOP Congressman Rick Allen Read “Worthy Of Death” Bible Verse Against Homosexuals In Caucus

Beyond execrable. 

So much unbridled hate from conservatives.  And they wonder why younger voters want nothing to do with the Republican Party.  You just know that when people like Congressman Rick Allen act out in such a fashion they are soon to be discovered smoking pole in an airport restroom or tagging an intern.  Beware of those religious self-righteous ones.

House Republicans at a conference meeting heard a Bible verse that calls for death for homosexuals shortly before the chamber voted Thursday morning to reject a spending bill that included an amendment barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Georgia Rep. Rick W. Allen led the opening prayer by reading from Romans 1:18-32, and Revelations 22:18-19.  Gay rights advocates called on top Republicans to condemn the “vile and dangerous remarks” and censure Allen.

 “At a time when LGBT people face staggering rates of discrimination, harassment and violence, Representative Allen’s comments spread hate that does real harm,” Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President said in a statement.

Passages in the verses refer to homosexuality and the penalty for homosexual behavior. “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet,” reads Romans 1:27, which Allen read, according to his office.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” read lines 28-32, which Allen also recited, according to his office.

The Continued Fascism Of Donald Trump

A most disturbing and powerfully written column which will appear in this Sunday’s New York Times.

The anti-Semitic hate, much of it from self-identified Donald J. Trump supporters, hasn’t stopped since. Trump God Emperor sent me the Nazi iconography of the shiftless, hooknosed Jew. I was served an image of the gates of Auschwitz, the famous words “Arbeit Macht Frei” replaced without irony with “Machen Amerika Great.” Holocaust taunts, like a path of dollar bills leading into an oven, were followed by Holocaust denial. The Jew as leftist puppet master from @DonaldTrumpLA was joined by the Jew as conservative fifth columnist, orchestrating war for Israel. That one came from someone who tagged himself a proud future member of the Trump Deportation Squad.

Beyond journalism, stories of Muslims assaulted by Trump supporters are piling up. Hispanic immigrants are lining up for citizenship, eager to vote. Groups that have been maligned over centuries at different times in different regions now share a common tormentor, the alt-right, a militant agglomeration of white nationalists, racists, anti-Semites and America Firsters that have been waging war on the Republican establishment for some time. Their goals: Close the borders, deport illegal immigrants, pull out of international entanglements and pull up the drawbridge.

And still, we have heard nothing from Mr. Trump, no denunciation, no broad renouncing of racist, anti-Semitic support, no expressions of sympathy for its victims. The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday released what can only be described as equivocation as an art form: “We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers, whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters. There is no room for any of this in any campaign.”

Kalorama Will Be Home For Obama Family–Five Other Presidents Have Lived There

This is the type of news story I like to wake up to.  News, history, interesting personalities.


The tony Northwest neighborhood perched above Rock Creek and just northwest of Dupont Circle is where the Obamas are expected to settle in January after leaving the White House. While their younger daughter Sasha finishes high school, the family will rent the home of Joe Lockhart, the former Clinton White House press secretary.  The nine-bedroom mansion on Belmont Road offers castle-like turrets, three fireplaces, parking for up to 10 cars — and a neighborhood dripping in presidential history.

Woodrow Wilson was probably Kalorama’s most prominent — and most tragedy-beset — ex-commander-in-chief. Largely incapacitated by a stroke in 1919 after a national tour stumping, unsuccessfully, for ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and America’s entrance into the League of Nations, Wilson moved into 2340 S St. NW, a 28-room mansion, on the day he left office in 1921. There, at least at first, he lived an invalid’s life, tended to by private nurses and staying in his robe and slippers unless guests came.

Wilson gave his first and only radio address from the house on the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day in 1923, and it was his base while he plotted another run for the White House. Instead, he died there in 1924. Wilson’s wife, Edith, stayed in the house until her death in 1961, and it’s now a museum.

Eight years after William Howard Taft left the White House, he returned to Washington as chief justice of the Supreme Court — and settled into the mansion at 2215 Wyoming Ave. NW, where he lived until his death in 1930. In 1931, the span of Connecticut Avenue over Rock Creek Park near his home was christened the Taft Bridge. As the bill to rename the bridge noted, Taft “was a great admirer of said bridge, over which it was his custom to walk several times a week, especially on Sunday afternoons, at which time he would stop to talk with friends or acquaintances and especially with groups of children whom he met.”

Warren Harding’s relationship to the neighborhood as a future president may have been somewhat less avuncular. He lived just a block away, at 2314 Wyoming Ave. NW, from 1917 to 1921, when he was a senator from Ohio — and the home became “a social mecca for his friends, and there were many,” noted to a 2004 biography of Harding by John W. Dean.

“Word soon spread that a bored senator could find a first-rate poker game two or three nights a week, not to mention a good meal,” Dean wrote.

It’s possible he crossed paths during that time with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who rented a house at 2131 R St. NW while he was assistant secretary of the Navy under Wilson from 1917 to 1920. The 12-bedroom home was reportedly the scene of family discord after FDR’s affair with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor Roosevelt’s social secretary. Even more drama during the Roosevelts’ stay: An anarchist bombed the house of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who lived across the street.

“I’ll never forget how unnerved Father was when he found me standing at the window,” James Roosevelt, 11 at the time of the bombing, later said, according to Jean Edward Smith’s 2008 Roosevelt biography. “He grabbed me in an embrace that almost cracked my ribs.”

Herbert Hoover also called Kalorama home during his pre-presidency years, buying a house at 2300 S St. NW when he was appointed Harding’s commerce secretary in 1921. Hoover left for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 1929 but returned to the 22-room house in 1933 after losing to FDR, and stayed there until 1944. The house is now the embassy of Myanmar.