Trump is struggling to choose a Secretary of State, should it be the guy who was mean to him or the ex-NYC mayor and overall mess [Re: defending Trump’s ‘locker room’ talk]?Today he met with someone new, someone who admitted to sharing classified documents during an affair. This wasn’t in emails with actual government officials so I guess it’s no big deal? Oh and he knew that it was wrong from the start, but like whatevs…

Petraeus, a celebrated four-star general who left government under a cloud for sharing classified documents during an extramarital affair, told reporters that Trump “showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. So a very good conversation, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”


He resigned from the CIA in November 2012 and avoided a criminal trial by agreeing to a plea deal in April 2015. It required him to serve two years on probation and pay a $100,000 fine on a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized possession of classified information.


Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who oversaw both the Petraeus and Clinton investigations, disagreed. In a July 7 hearing, he told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Petraeus’s behavior was worse than Clinton’s, saying that he deliberately “lied” when first questioned by investigators.

“So you have obstruction of justice, you have intentional misconduct and a vast quantity of information” that was highly classified, Comey said. “He admitted he knew that was the wrong thing to do. That is a perfect illustration of the kind of cases that get prosecuted.”

[Bloomberg Politics]


Pence and the HIV Outbreak

Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana when the state had its worst HIV outbreak in its history. What could have led to the outbreak you ask? Well that have to be Pence’s moves to cut public health funding to places like Planned Parenthood and his reluctance to allow needle exchanges.

During his first year as governor the only Planned Parenthood location in Scott County, Indiana closed. That health center also happened to be the only place in the county that offered HIV testing. So, the 24,000 residents were out of luck when it came to testing.

On top of that, the county also had an opioid problem. As we all learned in grade school, sharing needles is a way to contract HIV. Even though the outbreak was realized in January of 2015, it took 4 months before Pence would agree to needle exchanges to reduce the damage.

A note on why the reluctance to allow needle exchanges is dangerous and uninformed:

“People think that if you give someone a syringe, it means they’re going to go out and inject drugs, and if don’t give them syringes, they won’t inject drugs,” Robert Childs, executive director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, told HuffPost in 2015.

“But the thing is that if you don’t give them syringes, they share them, and then people will start getting HIV and viral hepatitis C.” [X]

Some more reading on the outbreak -> here, here, and here

National Security Advisor and Raging Islamophobe

I’ve already posted about Michael Flynn but here is some additional documentation of his islamophobia and overt racism.

In a speech he made in Massachusetts in August:

“Our country was built upon the foundation of Judeo-Christian principles, values, norms. We should fight this idea of this imposition of Sharia law into our system. And believe me, folks, it is happening.

All you have to do is go and look up something called ‘the American laws for American courts.’ I don’t know if it’s happening up here in Massachusetts, it’s happening in other states. I have had people in the media, mainstream media, say, ‘oh, that’s all a conspiracy, it’s a lie.’

No, in the state Florida. The state of Florida, they have 36 senators at the state level. 36 senators at the state level. 12 of them are Democrats, the Republicans hold the majority in the Florida state senate. All 12 Democrats, all 12 Democrats voted to impose Shariah law at the local and state level. Now, it was beaten because the Republicans are in charge. I’m telling you, this is ‘American laws for America’s courts.'” [This is super untrue btw]

To clarify, Sharia law is the religious law followed by members of the Islamic faith. It is not a forced conversion to Islam or a requirement for non Muslims to practice the faith.

You can read about the actual legislation this outrageous claim originated from here.

I leave you with another lovely quote from the same speech

“We are facing another ‘ism,’ just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.”

Yeah, he is saying that a religion practiced by over a billion people is on the level of Nazis. Nice fella.

[Summarized from PolitiFact]


Conflicts in the Philippines

Part 1

Trump is friends and business partners with the man the president of the Philippines has picked as his intermediary with the U.S.

Mr. Fuchs, who helped oversee United States relations with the Philippines as the deputy assistant secretary of state until early this year, said he was deeply troubled by Mr. Trump’s overlapping priorities, particularly given the long list of globally significant issues in play with the Philippines. These include planned joint military exercises in the South China Sea, the fight against militant Islamic groups based in the country’s southern islands, and the human rights abuses taking place.

“What we already have is a blurring of the lines between official and business activities,” Mr. Fuchs said. “The biggest gray area may not be a President Trump himself advocating for favors for the Trump Organization. It’s the diplomats and career officers who will feel the need to perhaps not do things that will harm the Trump Organization’s interests. It is seriously disturbing.”

This is the same concern stated over other potential conflicts. It doesn’t matter if the Trump Organization does not elicit favors, other companies or nations may act in the interest of the company anyway.

Quotes from NYT

Conflicts in Turkey

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

As a candidate, Mr. Trump railed against moving American jobs overseas and promised to do something about it. As a businessman, he invested in a partnership with a furniture company here, making luxury furniture in the firm’s factory in western Anatolia and selling it in the United States and worldwide — a partnership that apparently remains active.

Mr. Trump the candidate inveighed against Muslims and threatened at least a temporary ban on their entering the United States. Mr. Trump the businessman has in recent years had some of his biggest expansions overseas, including in Muslim countries like Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and even Azerbaijan.


“We regret and condemn Trump’s discriminatory remarks,” Bulent Kural, the manager of the Trump Towers Mall, wrote in an email to a reporter at the time, as he announced that the mall was considering removing Mr. Trump’s name. “Such statements bear no value and are products of a mind that does not understand Islam, a peace religion, at all. Our reaction has been directly expressed to the Trump family. We are reviewing the legal dimension of our relation with the Trump brand.”


Mr. Trump’s next move helped re-establish his standing. After a failed coup in Turkey in July, he defended Mr. Erdogan’s crackdown on dissidents, saying in an interview with The Times that the United States has to “fix our own mess” before trying to alter the behavior of other nations.


In between his two remarks — one infuriating the president of Turkey, the other comforting him — the calls for the renaming of the Trump Towers Mall ended

So, Trump said something that pleased the president of Turkey and the push to remove his brand ended.

The recent post election telephone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan suggests that business and political roles will continue to be mixed.

According to a Turkish journalist, Amberin Zaman, writing in the independent online news outlet Diken, Mr. Trump told the Turkish leader that he and his daughter — who participated in the call — admired both Mr. Erdogan and Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, Mr. Trump’s business associate in the towers, whom he called “a close friend.”

Jennifer Harris, who served on the staff of the National Intelligence Council and on the State Department’s policy planning staff, said the twin hats that Mr. Trump and his family would be wearing in Turkey would almost certainly complicate the jobs of American diplomats there.

“It makes me wonder if the Trump administration will use the power of the state to help political or business allies and hurt political adversaries and business rivals,” she said.

No need to summarize there, the bolded quote says it all.

All quotes from NYT

Opinion on Conflicts of Interest

This is my opinion, not sourced from other places.

I think it is really interesting how the Clinton Foundation was such a big issue during the campaign. Conflicts of interest, corruption, etc. Extra interesting because the Clintons have never drawn a salary from the charity, so any ‘suspicious’ donations went toward their philanthropic goals and not personal enrichment. [Really, they don’t]


The whole time there were these glaring issues on the other side that no one talked about. The Trump company and brand are all over the freaking world. AND, they are Donald’s livelihood, as well as his children’s. So obviously, anything done in support of the brand is automatically personal enrichment for the Trumps. That is super shady.

There are plenty of reasons why there was focus on HRC’s conflicts of interest during the election. The majority of them are problematic (again, my opinion). But it is pretty hypocritical for the Trump camp to have focused so much on the Clinton Foundation being evidence of corruption when the Trump brand is a walking talking conflict.

As I have mentioned in other posts, it doesn’t even matter if Trump does not try to use his new position to benefit himself (I mean come on, he’s not that humble or honest, he totes would) because other nations and politicians could use the business to get on the good side of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. That should make you worried and uncomfortable.

Conflicts in India

Continuing the NYT article, Part 1 and Part 2

This example, analysts here say, points to a potentially serious ethical hazard for a United States president who is also a real estate mogul in India, with five projects underway. Mr. Trump was operating much like other developers in India, who cozy up to politicians — officially or unofficially — to push projects through the bureaucracy.

Another international Trump project is under investigation. This one is for allegedly having a fraudulent permit.

The very nature of the country’s real estate business, however, underscores larger concerns about potential damage to American efforts to discourage corruption in business abroad.


It is so routine for developers to pay bribes at every step of the approval process that many bureaucrats have informal rate sheets showing exactly how much must be paid to each official.


Top officials might “think in some way the U.S. president will help them,” and “can put in a friendly word with the banks” to extend loans for around 8 percent interest, rather than the characteristic 15 percent, said Vikas S. Kasliwal, the chief executive officer and vice chairman of Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure.


“If the son goes himself, if the son is willing to go and meet the prime minister of India, or the urban development minister, that is a very big thing,” he said. “They will think the president is meeting them.”

The last quote there highlights the issue with the Trump children running the company. It would not remove the concern that other governments might bend the rules or give favors to the company, solely because of the Trump name.

Another issue is that some of his Indian business partners are politicians as well.

Suraj Hegde, the secretary of the All India Congress Committee, a national body of Indian National Congress party members, said he was troubled by the dual roles Mr. Trump and his family would play in Indian affairs — particularly given real estate’s important role in India’s fast-growing economy, and the clout the United States has on the world stage.


He added that he was already calling for an independent parliamentary investigation of such maneuvers, including Mr. Trump’s real estate ventures in India.

To summarize: In India the real estate and development industry is tightly linked with the government. Trump has multiple business ventures in India, many of which include business partners who are either politicians themselves or have some connection to politicians. These connects can be (and typically are) used to get permits and approval for projects.

All quotes from NYT