Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News January 11, 2020

Jan 10 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 10, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose
Commentary for January 11: The Iranians lobbed a few rockets at U.S. military bases in Iraq as a response to the assassination of their top general at Donald Trump[‘s orders. If the Iranians concentrated on the area’s oil industry, the effects would be world-wide and devastating. A sunken tanker, a burning refinery would push the price of oil to the point where gas would sell by the ounce and American’s would be unable to drive more than three miles, once a month.This would create political havoc in America, and other nations, and woud be a far more effective response than putting holes in desert military camp driveways.”

The Table of Contents
• Virginia Democrats won an election. Gun owners are talking civil war
• Donald Trump Murdered Qassim Suleimani
• US lawmakers back limits to Trump’s war powers after Soleimani killing
• Donald Trump’s history of corruption: a comprehensive review
• Nord Stream 2 in the Storm Again
• Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
• The Season of Evil

Virginia Democrats won an election. Gun owners are talking civil war
Democrats’ pledge to pass new gun laws has sparked a grassroots pro-gun movement that will bring thousands of activists to a volatile rally this month
January 10, 2020
by Lois Beckett
The Guardian
Thousands of Virginia residents have shown up at meetings across the state to try to block Democrats from enacting new gun laws, with some gun rights supporters openly discussing violent resistance and civil war.
The backlash to gun control in Virginia is being fueled by conspiracy theories and misinformation, and some observers worry that the escalating rhetoric may spark violence.
When Democrats won control of Virginia’s state government for the first time in 26 years in November 2019, they pledged to pass a series of standard gun control laws, including universal background checks and bans on military-style “assault weapons” and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The agenda was no surprise: state Democrats had run for office on a platform of gun violence prevention, backed by funding from national gun control groups.
But the pledge sparked a grassroots pro-gun movement whose size and intensity has surprised even longtime activists. In dozens of towns and counties, pro-gun Virginians have flooded local government meetings to oppose the new bills and to demand that their lawmakers pass “second amendment sanctuary” resolutions, which promise that local governments will not enforce state gun laws they see as unconstitutional.
Some of these activists have warned of violence if Democrats push forward with gun control. Multiple Democratic lawmakers have reportedly received threats, including death threats. At heated public meetings across the state and in long social media comment threads, some gun rights supporters are openly discussing the possibility of civil war. Many have warned of the need to fight back against “tyranny” or have compared Democratic lawmakers to the British forces during the revolutionary war. “I really do think we may be on the brink of another war,” one speaker told a crowd of at least 800 people in Pulaski county, the Roanoke Times reported.
The swift expansion of local pro-gun organizing in Virginia has also attracted the attention of national anti-government militias and white supremacist groups, who have “glommed on to” the grassroots movement, hoping to use it as a potential flash point that could lead to civil war and social breakdown, according to an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors extremist groups.
Some observers worry these tensions may come to a head on 20 January, when a lobby day against gun control at Virginia’s state capitol is expected to attract thousands of people, including members of anti-government groups from other states. Local residents are concerned the day could turn violent, like the 2017 Unite the Right rally in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia.
So far, Ralph Northam, the state’s Democratic governor, has said that plans to pass new gun violence prevention laws will move forward despite the public backlash.
“Everyone needs to work to turn the rhetoric down – at the end of the day, this is about keeping people safe,” Alena Yarmosky, a spokesperson for the governor, said.
The beginnings of a movement
The forcefulness of Virginia’s second-amendment movement has taken even longtime organizers by surprise. Government meetings across the state that typically attract a few dozen people have seen overflowing crowds of hundreds or even thousands showing up to protest against new gun laws.
The main driver of the sanctuary movement has been the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a local pro-gun group that’s politically to the right of the National Rifle Association (NRA). But the group’s longtime president, Philip Van Cleave, said that sanctuary resolutions have been spreading across the state even faster than his group’s attempts to organize them.
Van Cleave sounded almost breathless in a mid-December interview as he described being overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, and membership requests. He said he expected VCDL’s membership to double over the course of that month, from 8000 to 16,000 members.
“I’m telling you, people that have never committed a crime, that are law-abiding, and pay their taxes, do everything right, don’t even have a speeding ticket, are saying, ‘I’m not giving up my guns,’” Van Cleave said.
The NRA and other national gun groups are not driving the sanctuary movement in Virginia, Van Cleave said. Though the NRA put out a statement supporting sanctuary resolutions, it has also made some effort to separate itself from the Virginia movement, organizing a separate lobbying day for NRA members on 13 January.
Not one of the Virginia Democrats’ proposed gun laws has been found to be unconstitutional by the US supreme court, and most of them have been repeatedly upheld by federal courts as consistent with the second amendment, according to Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles who specializes in gun policy.
Still, at least 125 counties, cities and towns across Virginia have passed some version of a second amendment sanctuary resolution since November, according to the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Just this week, the city council in Virginia Beach, the site of a major mass shooting last May, became one of the latest local governments to pass a resolution pledging to support citizens’ gun rights.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in the second amendment movement,” echoed Cam Edwards, a Virginia resident and former NRA TV host, and the editor of Bearing Arms, a pro-gun website. The closest political analogy would be the Tea Party, he said, “but this movement is centered around a single issue”.
Tensions flare
In themselves, sanctuary resolutions are largely symbolic. Virginia’s top prosecutor clarified in December that they “have no legal effect” and that local governments and local law enforcement officials “cannot nullify state laws”. But the resolutions have prompted pledges from some in law enforcement that they will refuse to enforce state gun laws they see as unconstitutional.
One sheriff in Culpepper county said that if Democrats passed restrictive new gun laws, he was willing to swear in thousand of local residents as sheriffs’ deputies in order to protect their gun rights. Local lawmakers in Tazewell County passed a resolution about the county’s right to train and form a citizen militia.
In Roanoke, when city council members refused to approve a sanctuary resolution, some in the audience shouted that the council was “treasonous”, WDBJ7 news reported.
Some Democrats’ responses to the attempt to nullify gun control laws have only made tensions worse.
In early December, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, Donald McEachin, publicly speculated that the governor might have to call in the national guard to enforce the new laws if local law enforcement officials would not. A spokeswoman for the governor said there was, in fact, no plan to call in the national guard. But the lawmaker’s suggestion, widely reported in media outlets, gave additional fuel to conspiracy theories about gun confiscation and prompted a defensive public statement from the national guard.
Meanwhile, outright lies and misinformation are helping to fuel gun owners’ concerns, including conspiracy theories that the state’s Democratic governor is going to shut off electricity to facilitate a gun grab, or that the United Nations is coming to take Virginians’ guns.
Claims of a second civil war
In response to both real policy proposals and conspiracy theories, some supporters of the sanctuary movement in Virginia are talking about the “boogaloo” – an ironic term for civil war that has spread through different online conversations, usually referring to the civil war that will break out if a government tries to take away citizens’ guns. The “boogaloo” meme originated as a joke about ridiculous movie sequels.
Gun rights commentators on YouTube are asking “Does the Boogaloo begin in Virginia?” and warning: “Folks, this is now or never” and “Tyranny is not something in the past”.
Such violent anti-government rhetoric is a traditional part of the gun debate in the United States. American gun owners have long vowed to respond with force to any government efforts to confiscate their firearms, arguing civilian gun ownership is protected in the Bill of Rights as a defense against government tyranny. They’ve embraced slogans like “come and take it” and “from my cold dead hands”.
But the conversation in Virginia has observers worrying that some people may be moving closer to actual violence.
“The rhetoric seems more revolutionary than ever,” Winkler, the UCLA law professor, said. Also new, he said: the possibility of “a lot of people coming in from out of state” to join protests against local Virginia gun laws.
Talk of civil war is not only circulating online, or among anti-government groups coming into Virginia from elsewhere. Van Cleave said he had heard concerns about civil war in phone calls, emails, and in-person conversations at events across the state.
“This is not people who are saying, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go fight.’ These are people who are concerned that this is where we’re headed. They’re seeing something, and they know if the government pushes the wrong buttons, it’s going to happen,’” Van Cleave said. “They’re very much aware that this is a powder keg.”
Democrats in Virginia are “kneeling in water and they’re about to grab the third rail on a train track, and I just don’t know if they realize it”, Van Cleave said. “This is different. I’ve never seen this much intensity with so many people. If they pass gun control, I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m just praying they don’t do it. Leave it alone. Walk away.”
White supremacists are recruiting
Virginia’s gun rights battle is already being covered widely in conservative media outlets. Donald Trump and the rightwing Arizona congressman Paul Gosar shared articles about it on Twitter. The Fox News host Tucker Carlson talked to a guest on his show about fears that local law enforcement in Virginia would be sent in to confiscate citizens’ guns. Carlson blamed the left for “trying to pick a fight, like a real fight, with rural Virginia”.
When gun rights supporters packed a local government meeting in Albemarle county, where Charlottesville is located, Matthew Christensen, a local activist, said he was shocked at the size of the turnout. The gun rights supporters were overwhelmingly white, he said, and the atmosphere was tense.
Christensen, an anti-racist activist who supports gun control, said he saw the sanctuary movement as rooted in white resentment.
“As white people, taking away privilege can feel like an attack, when it’s just a leveling of the playing field. And I think that’s where a lot of people are right now: they’re feeling attacked, and this is a way they can lash out,” Christensen said. “It almost seems like people are looking for a reason to pull a Bundy and attack the government.”
White supremacist and anti-government groups are gravitating towards the standoff over gun rights in Virginia because they see it as a opportunity for radicalization and recruitment, said Daryl Johnson, a former lead analyst for domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security.
The Oath Keepers, an organization of current and former law enforcement and military officials described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the country’s largest anti-government groups, announced that some of its members were already on their way to the state, with the intention of “helping Sheriffs raise and train an official armed posse in each county, under command of the Sheriff”. The Oath Keepers also called for members nationwide to head to Virginia to provide “boots on the ground” for the 20 January lobby day.
White supremacist “accelerationists” have seized on the standoff as the potential beginning of a civil war that will destroy the United States and allow them to build a white nation in its ruins, according to Alex Friedfeld, a researcher at the Anti-Defamation League.
“The story they’re telling is that the Jews and immigrants are responsible for turning Virginia blue, and they’re coming to take your guns,” Friedfeld said. (Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and presidential candidate, is Jewish, and the gun violence prevention advocacy group he founded touted an investment of $2.5 million in Virginia’s 2019 elections to back local lawmakers who support gun control.)
To white supremacists, Virginia looks like a perfect example of their ideology: “You’ve got white replacement. You’ve got what they’re calling Jewish gun grabbers, and the people rising up, saying the government is illegitimate.”
Since mid-December, Friedfeld said, he has been monitoring the spread of conversations about Virginia and “boogaloo” among extremist groups online. He said he saw a clear distinction between extremist groups and Virginia’s “legitimate, law-abiding citizens who are are exercising their right to protest for what they believe in”.
But the “boogaloo” rhetoric has been growing, and not only on militia pages. “Some of it does appear to be spilling over on to other second amendment pages, predominantly in the comment sections,” he said.
Friedfeld cautioned that terms like “boogaloo” were designed to be catchy, and that they could take on different meanings in different conversations.
Fears of another Charlottesville
The convergence of armed gun rights supporters and out of state anti-government groups on Virginia’s capitol on 20 January, Martin Luther King Day, has some activists raising concerns about whether the lobby day could become another Charlottesville, where a day of volatile street-fighting ended with a white supremacist plowing a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Van Cleave said his group was relying on law enforcement to monitor extremist activity and to keep lobby day nonviolent. He said his group had no control over whether violent people of any ideology showed up to protest.
“It’s a free country,” he said. “We can’t order them not to come.”
Friedfeld, the ADL researcher, said he was reassured by what he saw as sincere efforts by the Virginia Citizens Defense League to keep lobby day peaceful, including requests that supporters not openly carry military-style rifles or other long guns.
A spokesman for the Virginia capitol police declined to answer specific questions about preparations for lobby day, sending only a generic statement about the agency’s “long history of working successfully with our law enforcement and public safety partners” to “provide a safe environment at Capitol Square for people to express their views.”
Many gun rights activists have been working to de-escalate the rhetoric in Virginia, even as they continue to fight against the passage of new gun laws. For weeks, in online conversations on pro-gun social media pages and forums, some gun rights supporters have been pushing back against “boogaloo” talk or comments about attacking law enforcement officers sent to confiscate guns. Other second amendment activists have publicly confronted conspiracy theories and misinformation. In December, Edwards, the former NRA TV host, devoted a post on his pro-gun site, Bearing Arms, to debunking false claims about Virginia.
Other choices are less likely to de-escalate tensions. In early January, the NRA paid for multiple billboards around Richmond that warned: “The Northam/Bloomberg Gun Confiscation Plan Starts Jan. 8”.
Winkler, the gun law expert, said he believed responsibility would ultimately come back to the NRA if the tensions in Virginia did spark any violence.
For decades, the NRA has been pushing “overheated rhetoric about the second amendment protecting your right to rise up against the government”, he said. “This is the natural result.”

Donald Trump Murdered Qassim Suleimani
January 9, 2020
by James Risen
The Intecept
Donald Trump has dragged America into a moral abyss. And yet Congress, the press, and the public are unwilling to admit that we are now standing in blood. The nation is enabling a murderous demagogue, and we are all complicit.
The president of the United States has murdered a high-ranking official of a foreign government. The assassination last week of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was a state-sponsored murder.
But no one in the Washington establishment seems prepared to come out and say the hard truth: Donald Trump is a murderer.
This criminal moment has been a long time coming.
The United States has an assassination ban. The ban was put in place following disclosures by the Church Committee in the 1970s, which revealed that the CIA had secretly attempted to kill a series of foreign leaders, most notably Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
At the time of the Senate committee’s investigation, no one in the American government or media publicly defended assassination as a tool of a modern nation-state. It was simply not the accepted practice of a democracy that wanted to serve as a role model for the world.
But the reform-minded 1970s now seem quaint in a nation whose greatest military innovation in the 21st century has been the targeted killing of individuals by remote control.
For the last two decades, both Republican and Democratic presidents have worked quietly to skirt the assassination ban in order to take advantage of new aviation, missile guidance, and surveillance technologies to find and kill individuals all over the world. To launch targeted killings without violating the assassination ban, presidents have counted on compliant government lawyers to issue secret legal opinions that rubber-stamped their actions.
The Clinton administration started this process in 1998, in the wake of the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa by Al Qaeda. In response, the White House decided to launch cruise missile strikes against what they claimed were terrorist training camps near Khost, Afghanistan. The primary target was Osama bin Laden.
At the time, I was covering national security and intelligence for the New York Times. I asked White House officials whether the action had violated the assassination ban. They responded that it had not because the target was the “command and control infrastructure” of Al Qaeda. When I asked them what they meant by “command and control infrastructure,” they reluctantly admitted that the “command and control infrastructure” of Al Qaeda was its leadership, meaning bin Laden. I realized that the Clinton administration’s lawyers had prepared a euphemism-laden opinion to provide legal cover for Bill Clinton and his advisers. That was the beginning of what has become a very long pattern.
After 9/11, political concerns about the assassination ban went by the boards because there was such overwhelming public support for the new, so-called global war on terror. But the government’s lawyers still worried about the assassination ban and other rules and regulations governing the use of state-sponsored violence.
That’s why the congressional legislation known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force has been so important to government lawyers. The AUMF, passed by Congress just days after 9/11, has provided the basic legal authorization for counterterrorism strikes ever since.
Armed with the AUMF and other legal backstops, the Bush and Obama administrations began to kill at will. The killing has never stopped. It has been a vicious campaign that has claimed countless innocent lives, destabilized nations, and been almost entirely counterproductive. It has made Americans numb to endless war.
But the United States gained public and legal support for targeted killings only for what it described as the asymmetric fight against terrorism. It targeted suspected terrorists: “non-state actors.”
That is where Trump has now crossed a clear line. He conducted a drone strike to murder the official who served as Iran’s viceroy in Iraq. Qassim Suleimani was most definitely not a “non-state actor.”
Suleimani was the head of the Quds Force, the elite external operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which operated with impunity throughout Iraq under his leadership. He ran Iran’s ground campaign against ISIS in Iraq, in parallel to the American air campaign, and employed Shia militias and their ruthless tactics to defeat the cult-like group. The United States has been happy to take credit for the victory over ISIS in Iraq, without admitting that it relied heavily upon Suleimani’s horrific paramilitary actions and his strategic acumen.
But he was much more than a special forces commander or spymaster; he was Iran’s most important envoy, and he served as Tehran’s intimidating political fixer throughout the Middle East.
He dominated the political landscape in Baghdad. In November, The Intercept and the New York Times reported on leaked Iranian intelligence cables that publicly documented Iran’s deep influence in Iraq from Iran’s perspective for the first time. What jumped off the pages in the leaked cables was Suleimani’s personal political power in Iraq and his hold on many of Iraq’s top political, military, and security officials.
Last October, Suleimani intervened at the highest levels of Iraqi politics to keep Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in office amid massive protests and calls for his resignation. American officials serving in Iraq always thought they heard Suleimani’s footsteps.
In April 2019, the Trump administration designated the Revolutionary Guards, and Suleimani’s Quds Force, terrorist organizations. It was the first time the United States had ever designated a unit of another government a terrorist group.
At the time, the long-debated action was broadly portrayed as just another step in Trump’s reckless campaign to ratchet up economic sanctions on Iran and Iranian leaders. But I believe that the terrorist designation was Suleimani’s death warrant. I would not be surprised if the drone strike against Suleimani was supported by a secret legal opinion claiming that since he was the leader of a designated terrorist organization, he was a legitimate target in the war on terror under the AUMF and other counterterrorism legal guidelines. I’m sure that the lawyers at the National Security Council, the White House, and the Justice Department are sleeping well, knowing that they found a quick legal fix to allow Donald Trump to murder a foreign government official.
If we had a real Congress, there would be a congressional investigation into whatever lame, paper-thin legal rationalizations have been written by government lawyers to back up this murder. Instead, we are left with the nagging realization that Trump has just found a new loophole to circumvent the assassination ban.
But such actions prompt responses. Iran’s parliament has passed a bill designating all U.S. military forces terrorists.
The threat of retaliation has always been one of the most potent arguments against the use of assassination as a national security tool: It can prompt other countries to target Americans for assassination. And if international strictures against assassination are eliminated, we will be one step closer to the abandonment of the laws of war.

US lawmakers back limits to Trump’s war powers after Soleimani killing
President Trump’s decision to kill a senior Iranian general “endangered Americans,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As the resolution makes its way to the Senate, two Republicans have pledged support for it
January 10, 2020
The US House of Representatives on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution to curb President Donald Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran.
The vote was mostly split along party lines, with 224 in favor and 194 against in the Democrat-controlled legislature.
“Last week, in our view, the president — the administration — conducted a provocative, disproportionate attack against Iran, which endangered Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters.
The largely symbolic resolution was put forward in response to Trump’s unilateral decision to assassinate Iran’s Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, considered one of the Islamic Republic’s most important battlefield commanders.
Introduced as a “concurrent resolution,” the measure, if passed in the Senate, would not become law but rather serve as a formal reprimand of the president’s Iran strategy.
Democrats based their text on the existing War Powers Resolution of 1973, which requires the president to seek congressional approval to take the country to war.
The measure “directs the president to terminate the use of United States armed forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military.”
It still allows the use of force to prevent an “imminent” attack against the US.
When asked if he would seek congressional approval to continue military action in Iran, Trump said he would not.
“And you shouldn’t have to,” he said, “because you have to make split-second decisions sometimes.”
Preventing ‘another forever war’
Although the majority of Republicans in the lower house voted against the resolution, three backed it, including Matt Gaetz of Florida, who is considered one of Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress.
“Engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision,” Gaetz said. “If the members of our armed services have the courage to go and fight and die in these wars, as Congress we ought to have the courage to vote for them or against them.”
The resolution will now head to the Senate, where Republicans command a three-seat majority. But two Republican Senators have already expressed their support for the resolution.
“To come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran? It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong,” said Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah.
Pulling back from the brink
The US killing of Soleimani on the outskirts of Baghdad last week sent shock waves across the region and the globe, with observers fearing it could trigger an all-out military confrontation.
Iran responded days later by launching ballistic missiles at the US’ presence in Iraq, including the Ain Assad airbase. The attack caused minimal damage and resulted in no casualties.
A day after Iran’s attack, Trump said the US would not further escalate the confrontation, saying Iran appeared to be “standing down.”

Donald Trump’s history of corruption: a comprehensive review
by Andrew Prokop
In the big-picture conversation around the 2016 presidential election, the major negative narratives about Donald Trump have tended to focus on his racism, his temperament, or his tendency to tell lies.
Yet there’s another important Trump trait that’s gotten some attention but really needs to get much more — he’s corrupt, and in a consistent way.
Whenever Trump has been in positions of power or authority, he has demonstrated a pattern of trying to enrich himself by abusing the trust others have placed in him — whether it’s creditors, contractors, charitable givers, Trump University students, regulators, or campaign donors.
Over the past several months — and, indeed, the past few decades — reporters have unearthed many alarming stories that show this. They’ve reported on Trump’s many shady business practices. His shady charity. His shady fake university scam. His shady campaign spending. His many shady associates. And, last but by no means least, there is Trump’s refusal to release tax returns or other financial information that would shed further light on his business practices, associates, and philanthropic undertakings.
Now, sometimes Trump’s abuses of trust entail breaking the law, and sometimes they’re within the bounds of the law. And sometimes the legality of Trump’s actions isn’t yet clear — as in the case of Trump University, which will face a fraud trial shortly after the election, and with some of the controversies around the Trump Foundation.
But the common thread is that Trump screws people over to benefit himself. And despite the plethora of excellent reporting on this topic, many voters seem to be unaware of his troubling history here, and may view him primarily as a successful businessman who says some offensive things. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, for instance, found that Trump had a 10-point advantage over Clinton on “being honest and straightforward.”
Indeed, he is betting his campaign on his hopes that he can frame himself as an independent outsider free of special interest influence, to contrast with Hillary Clinton, whom he has dubbed “crooked.”
But Trump’s record makes it crystal clear that he’s more interested in rapaciously extracting what money he can and doing what he wants, with little regard to laws, rules, or people who aren’t Donald Trump. Furthermore, he’s repeatedly proven willing to violate norms about what sort of behavior is acceptable and ethical.
And most importantly of all, if elected president, Trump would wield incredible power. Yet if you look at what he’s done with power in the past, suddenly this theme in his biography — his corruption — becomes among the most troubling of his many troubling qualities. There are many, many reasons to be concerned about a Trump administration’s ethics and potential to abuse power. Here are just a few.
Trump has a history of shady business practices
First off, the way Trump has run his businesses for the past few decades should raise grave doubts about how he’d run the federal government — he’s allegedly been willing to break rules, break promises, and discriminate against nonwhite people.
There are the hundreds of accusations that Trump refused to pay contractors and workers what they were owed, which the Wall Street Journal and USA Today compiled this year. “The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years,” USA Today’s Steve Reilly wrote. “In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources.” (Trump told Reilly that if he ever didn’t pay, it must have been because he was unhappy with the work.)
Next, there’s the housing discrimination case against him from the 1970s. The Department of Justice alleged that Trump and his father discriminated against black applicants for apartments in Trump-owned buildings. One superintendent said he had been instructed to write “C” (for “colored”) on every application from a prospective black tenant, and others described similar racial “codes,” as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick has written.
The government argued that black applicants would repeatedly be told there were no vacancies in Trump-owned buildings, but white applicants would then inquire and get offers. The Trumps denied the claims and fought back in court, but eventually settled — “with no admission of guilt,” Trump pointed out during Monday’s debate, which is not exactly saying he was innocent.
Then there was Trump’s illegal financial maneuver back in 1986. That year, he tried to take over two rival casino companies by buying up their stock. But the law required him to disclose his large purchases to the Federal Trade Commission in advance, and he failed to do so. The matter ended up in court, and he was eventually forced to pay a $750,000 penalty as a result.
And there’s the matter of Trump’s alleged contacts with the mob. Now, to be fair to the GOP nominee, the Mafia’s influence was pervasive in the New York City construction industry at the time. Still, when reputed mobster Robert LiButti was a high-dollar gambler at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza worked very hard indeed to keep him happy, as Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported:
When LiButti demanded that women or black card dealers not be allowed on his games, the Trump Plaza kept them away from him — and it was later fined $200,000 for violating state nondiscrimination laws.
The Trump Plaza also gave LiButti nine luxury cars as gifts, all of which he quickly exchanged for a total of $1.65 million in cash. But cash gifts from casinos to high rollers were then illegal in the state, so the Trump Plaza was slapped with another fine — this one for $450,000.
LiButti was wiretapped bragging that he was “very close with” Trump and that he rode in Trump’s helicopter.
And Trump’s reputed mob contacts didn’t stop there. “I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime,” reporter David Cay Johnston wrote in Politico Magazine in May. “No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks.”
Trump has used other people’s donations to his charity to benefit himself
Donald Trump has a charitable family foundation to which, in recent years, he has given hardly any money, instead raising the vast majority of its funds from others. That’s rather dishonest of him, since he constantly claims that the foundation’s donations are from his own pocketbook. But the more serious problem is that he’s then used several hundred thousand dollars of that foundation money in deeply questionable ways that may well have run afoul of laws against “self-dealing” with charity money.
For instance, in September, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold — the reporter who’s absolutely owned the Trump Foundation beat — reported that Trump used $258,000 of the foundation’s money to settle legal problems involving his for-profit businesses.
First, in 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was fined $120,000 by the town of Palm Beach, Florida, because the height of its flagpole violated town rules. An eventual settlement entailed the town waiving the fines and Trump committing to donate $100,000 to a veterans charity. But Trump used his foundation, not any of his businesses, to make the donation.
Second, in 2010, a guy named Martin Greenberg sued Trump’s golf course, claiming he was cheated out of a promised million-dollar prize for getting a hole in one during a charity tournament. The golf course agreed to settlement in which it would donate to Greenberg’s charitable foundation — but the $158,000 sent over was instead from the Trump Foundation, not any of Trump’s businesses.
Again, what Trump seems to have done here is used other people’s charity donations to get his own businesses off the hook for lawsuits. Which seems … pretty corrupt. (The Trump campaign sent out a statement that attacked Fahrenthold but did not dispute any facts in his story.)
And eventually, Farenthold found another bombshell. Businessman Richard Ebers bought almost $1.9 million worth of goods and services from Trump or his businesses, but he was told to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to Fahrenthold’s sources. But according to the law, Trump should have paid taxes on that money as income — and his campaign refuses to say whether he did so.
And those are just the latest Trump Foundation controversies. Fahrenthold has also reported on an illegal $25,000 donation the foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s political group around the time she was weighing whether to investigate Trump University, for which the foundation was hit with an IRS penalty. (The Trump campaign claims this was a mistake.) There was also that time Trump spent $12,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow, plus a jersey, at a charity auction. And much more.
Law professor Adam Chodorow writes in Slate writes that all this, together, seems to indicate Trump is using his tax-exempt charity as a “personal piggy bank.” He continues that the foundation should likely “lose its tax-exempt status’ and “Trump arguably should report the money it spent on his behalf as income,” adding: “If I worked at the Internal Revenue Service, I would refer Trump to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.” Another law professor, Philip Hackney, makes a similar argument at The Surly Subgroup blog.
Trump University is facing a fraud trial
epeatedly during the campaign, Trump has admitted that he has been “greedy” in business — but he’s argued that as president, he would channel that trait to benefit the American people. “I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States,” he’s said.
It’s a dubious claim, made even more dubious by his behavior in the matter of Trump University. This was the GOP nominee’s seminar business that purported to be able to teach its students secrets of real estate investing. Former students sued Trump, claiming they were bilked out of their money, and he’s set to face a trial for fraud in the matter shortly after the election. The New York attorney general’s office has also sued, claiming Trump University made deceptive claims.
“[The instructors] were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump’s ‘right-hand men,'” Jason Nicholas, a former employee, said in one deposition. “They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a façade, a total lie.”
The business model was, apparently, to try to hook the gullible with a free seminar and pressure them into signing up for more and more expensive installments that promised to teach students how to invest in real estate.
But these “classes” were, apparently, worthless. “To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques that were taught,” former employee Ronald Schnackenberg said in another deposition. Read Libby Nelson for more.
Trump won’t release his tax returns, which is unprecedented for a recent presidential candidate
Every major party nominee in the past three decades has released his or her tax returns. But Donald Trump is still refusing to do so, and is giving a nonsensical justification for it.
Trump says he won’t release his returns because he’s currently under an IRS audit. But as the IRS has confirmed, being audited doesn’t mean he has to keep his returns secret. Furthermore, Trump has many previous years of tax returns that are no longer being audited that he could release — but he refuses to.
So there has naturally been a lot of speculation on what Trump is trying to hide here. Do the returns show he’s not as rich as he says he is? That he’s given far less to charity than he claims? That he’d rarely even paid taxes? That he has a lot of money offshore?
“How much tax is Trump paying or sheltering domestically vs. in foreign jurisdictions? That needs to be known to ascertain which nations Trump has financial ties to and where he may be susceptible to pressure,” Richard Painter and Norm Eisen write at the Washington Post. Until Trump releases his returns, we won’t know.
Trump has spent millions of dollars of campaign funds on Trump businesses
As of August, the Trump campaign had allotted 7 percent of its total spending so far — more than $8.2 million — to companies owned by Trump or his children, according to an analysis by Politico’s Ken Vogel. Payments went to various Trump venues, an aviation company Trump owns, Trump Tower for office space, his corporate staff, and various other vendors.
Now, it’s not as if Trump should have donated his company’s stuff for free — indeed, that would have been a prohibited corporate contribution. And the Trump campaign tends to respond by emphasizing that Trump put $54 million of his own money into the campaign. Still, he has deliberately chosen to spend his campaign money (which includes millions raised from other people) on companies he or his children own rather than on independent vendors.
Meanwhile, taxpayers are chipping in too — the US Secret Service has paid $1.6 million to travel on a plane operated by one of Trump’s companies, according to another report by Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf. Again, Secret Service reimbursement to a campaign for travel is common. But as the authors write, since Trump owns the aviation company, “the government is effectively paying him.”
And about that Trump Tower rent — shortly after the Trump campaign shifted from a largely self-funded model to one more reliant on donors, Trump nearly quintupled the rent that Trump Tower was charging the campaign for office space, according to the Huffington Post’s S.V. Dáte. This came at a time when the campaign didn’t expand its staff size, though Trump’s team later told CNN that they were paying for two new floors “in anticipation of more staff.”
Donald Trump has surrounded himself with shady people during this campaign
Throughout the campaign, Trump has claimed not only that he would be an excellent president but that he’d be excellent at hiring. “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” he said last year.
Instead, he has surrounded himself with people who’ve not only demonstrated a history of unethical behavior but also abused their past power, often to try to intimidate critics or opponents.
Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head his transition, giving him a key role in recommending candidates for hundreds if not thousands of federal jobs. Yet two of Christie’s job appointees in New Jersey are currently facing trial for their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal — prosecutors say they conspired to cause a serious traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign. Another aide, David Wildstein, has already pled guilty in the matter.
Furthermore, prosecutors also asserted in court in September — and Wildstein testified — that Christie knew about both his aides’ actions and their motivations while the scheme was being carried out. (Christie has long denied this.) Wildstein tesitfied that he bragged to Christie about what he was doing when he saw him at an event, and that Christie laughed and responded with jokes.
Craziest of all, Donald Trump himself has long said that Christie “totally knew about” his aides’ actions in Bridgegate. Yet this suspicion that Christie was fine with his aides’ abuse of power in a petty revenge plot seems to have been no obstacle for Trump in his determination that Christie is the best-qualified person to help him staff the federal government.
Another current Trump adviser is Roger Ailes, who was pushed out of his job as CEO of Fox News just in July over allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women, which, if true, is clearly an abuse of power. (Ailes denied the allegations, but some of his harassing comments were caught on tape, according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, and Fox settled with accuser Gretchen Carlson for the hefty sum of $20 million.)
Furthermore, while at Fox News, Ailes also used company money to try to orchestrate smear campaigns against journalists from other outlets who were reporting on him. Yet according to BuzzFeed News’s McKay Coppins, Ailes is “playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”
And then there is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who by some accounts has effectively been running the Trump campaign for a few months. Kushner is a real estate heir who took over his father’s company after his father was sent to prison for tax evasion, making illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering. When Kushner’s holdings ran into some financial trouble in the wake of the economic crisis, he asked fellow mogul Richard Mack for a write-down on a loan Mack had extended him — but Mack refused.
Not long afterward, Kushner apparently wanted revenge on Mack, and he sought to get it by using the newspaper he owned — the New York Observer. Kushner had heard a rumor about Mack, and he wanted his reporters to publish a story about it. “There’s a guy named Richard Mack, and we’ve got to get this guy,” Kushner told one reporter, according to Esquire’s Vicky Ward. Reporters were put on the case and failed to corroborate the rumor, but Kushner kept pushing to move the story forward anyway, as the Observer’s then-editor, Elizabeth Spiers, recounts. It never saw the light of day, but it’s deeply concerning about how Kushner operates.
What’s most troubling of all, though, is that Trump is surely aware of everything I’ve mentioned in this section but doesn’t seem to mind. He puts a man whose appointees are facing trial in charge of government appointments. He invites an alleged serial sexual harasser who tries to intimidate critical journalists to be a key adviser. This should set off alarm bells.
Trump’s corruption is a threat to our norms of governance
“Americans pride themselves on our politicians’ respect for the rule of law, on the checks and balances that protect us from the powerful,” Ezra Klein wrote earlier this year. “But as often as not, our real protection is found not in laws but in norms.”
And that’s the deeper problem underlying all this — that Trump has repeatedly shown he has little respect for norms of ethical or acceptable behavior.
There’s been much discussion about how Trump has repeatedly violated political norms of acceptable behavior — with his proposed Muslim ban, his constant vicious attacks on critics, his attempts to discredit a judge because he happens to be Mexican-American, and countless other actions.
But his decades-long track record in the business sector and the nonprofit world, and his management of his current campaign, suggests he’s willing to violate ethical norms too. He treats rules or laws as inconveniences. He ignores conflicts of interest. He takes what he wants, regardless of who gets hurt. And all this is when he is simply a wealthy businessman.
Yet if Trump wins in November, he becomes the most powerful person in the world, with a nuclear arsenal, the US military, and thousands of government appointees who can carry out his wishes at his disposal.
No one can say for sure what will happen then. But we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Donald Trump hates lies, but can’t tell the truth

Nord Stream 2 in the Storm Again
January 3, 2020
by Waqas Jan
Modern Diplomacy
In the last few weeks the developments related to the politics of transportation of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and Pipeline based natural gas make a reasonable comparison to The 1st Law of Thermodynamics, the scientific law about the conservation of energy, the two orders (LNG vs Pipeline based Natural Gas) in competition are actually the two forms of energy, which cannot be completely eliminated from the world market, especially at a time when a country as big as China have the same appetite for energy as the country as small as Fiji. The world needs both sources of energy, and every country wants to sign up to energy order that is more reliable cheap and without any disruptions or delays. However, the politics almost pitted both energy orders against each other.
The argument used by the United States, against Russian pipeline infrastructure is that, Russians are using energy as a weapon to gain leverage over EU in its energy matters, and this leverage they fear can spill into other areas, the best solution they think for this Russian problem is United States LNG. This debate started in the Obama era, and was vigorously pursued by his administration, to turn European energy needs towards US LNG. However, looking at the major pipeline infrastructure around Europe, and its multilateral outlook, shows that pipeline based order is what Europe needs to meet its mammoth energy needs. The classic argument that United States used to turn Europe away from the new Russian pipeline, Nord Stream II, is that of Ukraine Transit Status, once the new pipeline start operation. Ukraine and Russia were at odds due to intense political wrangling over transit contract issue, Normandy Four talks which took Paris last month put an end to 18 month long negotiation. Russian will continue pumping gas via Ukraine, even after the contract expires on 1 January 2020, and in return Ukraine will withdraw its claim of $12 billions at the Stockholm Arbitration Court.
The new arrangement agreed under Normandy format talks normalizes the gas transit issue between Ukraine and Russia, which means that the argument used by United States to halt Nord Stream is lost its weight, And even if we give credence to this argument, the growing support for Nord Stream 2 in Germany and European Union calls for a direct natural gas link between Germany and Russia. This diversification in supply allows Europe to negotiate from the point of strength. To halt the construction of Nord Stream 2 the US Congress put the PEES Act (Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act) into the National Defence Authorization Act. The bill to be signed by President Trump soon, which will limit the role of Western Technology, used for laying undersea pipeline, by giving a wind down window for the companies involved in the project. Daniel Freed a Weiser Family Distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council termed the bill a thoughtful piece of legislation, which targets are narrowly constructed and limited. He criticized the idea of sanctioning the Western firms to put a lid on Nord Stream 2 undersea advance.
The United States vision for the European Energy Security is criticized by the German officials, and the Chancellor Angela Merkel. The waivers in the bill is an open message for the German Government that United States is not imposing any sanctions on German firms, and the draw down opportunity allows Western firms to immediately withdraw their vessels and equipment before the bill goes into effect. This piece of legislation is a one sided effort to roll back the rolled out project which is almost near completion.
Nord Stream remain a contentious issue because of its scope and scale in terms of its security and political aspects, and the future LNG plans of the US for Europe, and thus is the most researched area in energy security domain, there are thousands of rich academic literature op-eds policy papers and news stories generated on the gas pipeline over the course of two decades of its implementation. The United States coercive pursuit to force Germany to drop the project and look for alternative may not be realized, as the officials in both Germany and Russia are keen to inaugurate the Nord Stream 2. If Germany shut the gates for the Nord Stream 2 at their doorsteps, the biggest questions that will haunt the German politicians is, does it really ensure an Energy Security of Germany if they wholly sign up to the US LNG, or end up wholly as an end user of pipelines oozing out from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Italy and Ukraine ?

Innovation Should Be Made in the U.S.A.
Offshoring by American companies has destroyed our manufacturing base and our capacity to develop new products and processes. It’s time for a national industrial policy.
November 15, 2019
by Sridhar Kota and Tom Mahoney
In 1987, as the Reagan administration was nearing its end, the economists Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman issued a prophetic warning: “If high-tech is to sustain a scale of activity sufficient to matter to the prosperity of our economy…America must control the production of those high-tech products it invents and designs.” Production, they continued, is “where the lion’s share of the value added is realized.”
Amid the offshoring frenzy that began in the late 1980s, this was heterodox thinking. In many quarters, it still is. Even as trade tensions with China have deepened, many U.S. political and economic leaders continue to believe that offshoring is not only profitable but also sound economic strategy. Manufacturing in China is cheaper, quicker and more flexible, they argue.
With China’s networks of suppliers, engineers and production experts growing larger and more sophisticated, many believe that locating production there is a better bet in terms of quality and efficiency. Instead of manufacturing domestically, the thinking goes, U.S. firms should focus on higher-value work:”innovate here, manufacture there.”
Today many Americans are rightly questioning this perspective. From the White House to Congress, from union halls to university laboratories, there is a growing recognition that we can no lnger afford the outsourcing paradigm. Once manufacturing departs from a country’s shores, engineering and production now-how leave as well, and innovation ultimately follows. It’s become increasingly clear that “manufacture there” not means “innovate there.”
What’s the solution? It’s time for the U.S. to adopt an industrial policy for the century ahead- not a throwback to the old ideas of state planning but a program for helping Americans to compete with foreign manufacturers and maintain our ever more precarious edge in innovation.
Consider the results of the original offshoring craze of the 1960’s, which centered on consumer electronics. The development of modern transistors, the establishment of standardized shipping containers and creation of inexpensive assembly lines in East Asia cut costs for consumers and created huge markets for televisions and radios; it also catalyzed the Asian manufacturing miracle. Though American federal research investment in the decades that followed enabled the invention of game-changing technologies such as the magnetic storage drive, the lithium-ion battery and the liquid crystal display, the country had, by then, already let go of consumer electronics manufacturing. Asia dominated.
Since the turn of the millennium, the off-shoring trend has accelerated, thanks to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and major investments in workforce and production capacity by other Asian nations. U.S.-based companies began to contract out both design and product-development work. A 2015 study by the consulting firms Strategy& and PwC found that U.S. companies across sectors have been moving R&D to China to be closer to production, suppliers and engineering talent- not just to reap lower costs and more dynamic markets. An estimated 50% of overseas-backed R&D centers in China have been established by U.S. companies.
Innovation in manufacturing gravitates to where the factories are. American manufacturers have learned that the applied research and engineering necessary to introduce new products, enhance existing designs and improve production processes are best done near the factories themselves. As more engineering and design work has shifted to China, many U.S. companies have a diminished capability to perform those tasks here.
Manufacturing matters- especially for a high-tech economy. While it’s still possible to argue that the offshoring of parts assembly and final production has worked well for multinational companies focused on quarterly earnings, it is increasingly clear that offshoring has devastated the small and medium-sized manufacturers that make up the nation’s supply chains and geographically diverse industrial clusters. While the share of such companies in the total population of U.S. manufacturers has risen, their absolute numbers have dropped by nearly 100,000 since the 1990’s and by 40,000 just in the last decade. Numbers have fallen in relatively high-technology industries such as computers, electronics, electrical equipment and machinery.
The loss of America’s industrial commons-the ecosystem of engineering skills, production know-how and comprehensive supply chains- has not just devastated industrial areas. It has also underined a core responsibility of government: providing for national defense. Recent Pentagon analyses of the defense industrial base have identified specific risks to weapons production, including fragile domestic suppliers, dependence on imports, counterfeit parts and material shortages. Meanwhile despite tariffs, manufacturing imports continue to set records, especially in advanced technology products. Dependence on imports had virtually eliminated the nation’s ability to manufacture large flat-screen displays, smartphones, many advanced materials and packaged semiconductors. The U.S. now lacks the capacity to manufacture many next-generation and emerging technologies.
This is to say nothing of the human suffering and sociopolitical upheaval that have resulted from the hollowing out of entire regional economies. Once vibrant communities in the so-called Rust Belt have lost population and income as large factories and their many supporting suppliers have closed. The shuttering last March of the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio- resulting in the loss of some 1,400 high-paying manufacturing jobs- is just the latest example. It joins a list that includes most of the long-established furniture industry in North Carolina, large steel mills in places like Bethlehem, Penn., and Weirton, W.Va. and the machine tool industry that once clustered around Cincinnati. Real wages across the country have been stagnant for decades, and though the causes are debatable, he loss of manufacturing jobs and the dramatic decline in manufacturing productivity growth have certainly played major roles.
In terms of long-term competitiveness, the biggest strategic consequence of this profound decline in American manufacturing might be the loss of our ability to innovate- that is, to translate inventions into production. We have lost much of our capacity to physically build what results from out world-leading investments in research and development. A study of 150 production-related hardware startups that emerged from research at MIT found that most of them scaled up production offshore to get access to production capabilities, suppliers and lead customers. As for foreign multinationals, many participate in federally funded university research centers and then use what they learn in their factories abroad. LG, Sharp and Auo, for example, were partners in the flexible display research center at Arizona State University funded by the U.S. Army, but they do not manufacture displays here.
The slow destruction of the U.S. industrial eco-system is a clear case of market failure, and the government has an important role to play in remedying it. Thanks to continued federal funding in the sciences, the U.S. is still the best in the world in groundbreaking scientific discoveries and inventions. But the federal government must do more than invest in basic research; it must also fill the innovation deficit by creating a new infrastructure for R&D in engineering and manufacturing.
The American government invests about $150 billion annually in science and technology, significantly more than other advanced industrial nations. Yet relatively little of this is devoted to the translational R&D in engineering and manufacturing needed to turn basic research results into successful commercial products. Germany, Japan and South Korea spend three to six times as much as the U.S. on industrial and production technologies. These three advanced nations have high wages and strict regulations, and their energy costs and levels of automation are higher that in the U.S.
Historically, American companies have performed this essential translational research, but in the past two decades of cost cutting to maximize quarterly earnings, corporate R&D labs at GE,IBM, Xerox, AT&T and other industrial giants invented new products and production processes, ranging from semiconduictors and lasers to MRI machines and industrial robots. In too many industries, this translational R&D capability has been lost, or at least seriously downsized, and the U.S. has lost its leadership position.
Aerospace is the main counter example, where the U.S. continues to lead in advanced technology. It is the last major industry that has maintained a strong trade surplus. Not surprisingly, it is also more dependent on government customers- mostly the Department of Defense- and the beneficiary of substantial government R&D investments in basic and translational research. Though few would call it such, this amounts to a successful industrial policy to support an industry deemed critical to national defense. It’s an example that needs to be replicated.
Unless something is done, the weak U.S. industrial commons will continue to create incentives for American companies to manufacture offshore, innovate offshore and weaken national competitiveness. A strategic and coordinated national effort is needed that moves beyond tax and trade policy, which, so far at least, has not resulted in an American manufacturing resurgence.
This national effort- call it Industrial Policy 2.0- should focus on ensuring that hardware innovations are manufactured in this country. The idea is not to recover lost industries but to rebuild lost capabilities. The U.S. needs to leverage its dominance in science and technology to create future industries to provide us with first-mover advantages in reclaim American leadership in manufacturing.
The first step would be to create a new federal agency responsible for the health of U.S. manufacturing. A number of agencies currently have manufacturing-related programs, but there is little or no coordination or strategy. Defense alone cannot solve this challenge because defense procurement needs are dwarfed by commercial markets, and defense-specific technologies may have few commercial applications.
A new agency is needed to signal new priorities. This National Manufacturing Foundation, as it could be called, would be a cabinet-level agency focused on rebuilding America’s industrial commons and translating our scientific knowledge into new products and processes. What policies might it promote?
• To maximize the wealth and jobs created from our national R&D investments, the
results must be manufactured in the U.S. Any licensee of federally funded research resuts should be required to manufacture at least 75% of the value added in this country, with no exceptions and no waivers.
• An additional 5% of the federal science and technology budget should be invested in engineering and manufacturing R&D and process technologies. This included creating translational research centers as innovation hubs around the country. Affiliated with major research universities and institutions, these centers would take promising basic research results and perform the translational R&D necessary to demonstrate the viability of large-scale commercial production.
• Developing hardware typically requires more resources and time than developing software. Public-private partnerships could provide the needed patient capital. State-level programs in Massachusetts, Georgia and other states already provide encouraging examples, The South Carolina Research Authority, for example, provides grants, loans and didrect investments to a portfolio of companies, roug.ly 40% of which are manufacturers. Leveraging defense procurement and other federal spending would help too, as would the targeted use of Small Business Administration loans.
• Restoring innovation in domestic manufacturing will require much greater investments in human capital. The country needs significantly more graduate fellowships in engineering for qualified domestic students and many more four-year engineering technology programs that focus on application and implementation rather than concepts and theory. American multinationals need to do their part by revamping internship and apprenticeship probfams to fill the skills gap.
Industrial Policy 2.0 would not be the industrial policy discussed and often criticized in past decades, it would not pick winners and losers but would keep other countries from taking advantage of our winners; it would make sure the U.S., not its economic rivals, benefits from American know-how. The goal would be to maximize innovations in hardware technologies and, in doing so, to create high-value products, well-paying jobs, national wealth and national security.
Such steps are essential to generating a strong return on the U.S. taxpayer’s enormous investments in science and technology. For too long Americans have suffered from the self-inflicted wound of hollowing out our industrial capacity. Other countries have moved quickly to take our place, It’s time for the U.S. to act.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 54

While Chuck was baking the ham and the others were admiring their presents, Charles Rush, a widower of twenty years and still grieving for his lost son, was having a Christmas dinner with the son of his second cousin, in his Chicago penthouse apartment.
Tyler McKnight was known to everyone as Tyler to his face and an entire lexicon of filthy epithets to his back.
He was thirty-eight, short of stature, with dyed blonde hair, a large nose and dark eyes that looked like two holes burned in a blanket. Hyperactive and given to non-stop chattering, he was an outrageous sycophant and worked for his relative as what was vaguely called an advertising coordinator. His real job was to spy on everyone in the Rush empire and report his findings to the great press lord. A number of Rush employees had actively plotted to throw him out of a window or put drain cleaner in the perpetual glass of hot tea that he always kept in his hand or set on the edge of the desk of a victim he was interrogating.
Since the tragic death of his only son and heir, Charles Rush had taken Tyler more and more into his confidence. The publisher found his odious relative to be quite dependable in the matter of corporate espionage and a very good listener.
Rush had several topics that he habitually relapsed into.
The first was his grief at the death of his son which always led into a series of furious rantings about his nephew’s continued existence.
This set piece could, and often did, lead into a series of long and bitter complaints about his father, the terms of his father’s will and how much better he, Charles Rush, could run the great press and media empire built up by his dictatorial, Prussian father.
Arthur Rush’s will was prolix but very exact and there was no escaping or evading its terms.
The Rush empire, to include the main house in Glencoe, the fully furnished and staffed apartments located around the country that Arthur Rush occasionally visited on his tours of his various holdings, his enormous collections of fine art and most especially, his newspapers, magazines, banks, television stations, movie studios, computer companies, private satellites and a seemingly endless number of associated businesses could never be sold, traded or in any way altered by his heirs during their lifetimes.
Charles Rush had hated his father who used him as a cat’s-paw and treated him like a stupid, stubborn child, which, in essence, he was. Charles Rush hated the will and the trust because he could not transform his father’s paintings, properties and other holdings into cash. Like most children of powerful fathers, Charles believed that he could certainly improve his family holdings but the awful will prohibited this. A Chinese consortium would pay him thirty million for the family home which they planned to turn into an upscale golf course. A number of museums and private collectors had offered him many hundreds of millions of dollars for various paintings, bronzes and rare books that filled the house. Other prospective purchasers were interested in specific publications or television entities that Rush himself felt were no longer viable.
A group of Russian businessmen had offered him a half a billion dollars for the Chicago corporate headquarters where he now lived and he could easily sell off the Rush Leonardo for a hundred million.
The terms of the will were adamant. As long as the members of the trust were alive, no changes in the estate of Arthur Rush could be made without the full written consent of each and every member.
His brother was not interested in selling off the house or the television stations so he fell out of his office window. His sister, Caroline, a timid and neurotic woman, lived in the house and refused to move so she drowned. That left only his nephew, his son and himself. With the loathsome Cyril out of the way, he and his son would have a free hand with the estate. Unfortunately, instead of Cyril vanishing, his son had died a violent death in a strange town, doubtlessly murdered by Cyril himself.
These were the standard topics of conversation between Tyler and himself and even the holy season of Christmas took second place to his endless repetitions.
Tyler had grown so used to these stories that he knew exactly where to sigh, to shake his head sadly, to laugh, to become a fierce partisan. He knew that if anything happened to his somewhat distant relative, Cyril, whom he remembered from his childhood as arrogant and certainly undeserving of any kind of reward, all the money would pass to Charles and he thought even further. Tyler was not stupid and he realized that if Charles died without an heir and without changing his will that left everything to his arrogant prick of a jock son, he, Tyler McKnight, would inherit the empire.
Cyril had to die first for this to happen and the only annoying imperfection in Tyler’s long-set plans was whether or not Cyril had married and worse, might have sired children. The wife, and certainly the children, would be next in line for inheritance if Charles passed on and Cyril had predeceased him.
Tyler knew nothing about Collins but was aware that his mentor had hired someone to tend to the large stone in his corporate shoe.
At the present moment, the servants had cleared off the table and Charles was drinking a glass of sherry while Tyler addressed himself to a glass of green tea.
“It’s at moments like this, Tyler, that I think about the cruelty of life. My wonderful son, a champion athlete, cut down in his prime by one of his own family. Oh, not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and curse the day my foul nephew was born.”
Charles conveniently forgot that he had murdered his brother and sister and that his sainted son had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to kill his obstructionist nephew whose only crime was that he was alive and an heir.
“You know, Uncle Charles, at this time of year, I cannot get rid of the feeling that God hears your plea and will surely answer your prayers. There is so much good that you can accomplish in this world that surely He will not turn a deaf ear.”
“Yes, Tyler, I feel the same way today. Once Cyril is out of my way, there is so much that I can accomplish. My father thought that by trying to reach out beyond the grave, he could keep his holdings intact but he never took into account how much things change.”
“As usual Uncle, you have hit the nail right on the head!”
This was a favorite phrase that Tyler threw into every conversation. If Charles said that today was Christmas, Tyler would be ready with his carpenter’s analogy. He would lean forward, eyes fixed on his relative and nod his head several times with great solemnity. It never failed that Charles would nod back, smiling at the acuity of his brilliant surrogate son.
The conversation turned to the future. For some years past, Charles Rush had been vainly attempting to find some way to overturn the noxious clauses of his father’s restrictive will. Even with his money and influence, he had been unable to do this. If there were no other heirs to fight him, he could have his way but there was an heir so unless and until that impediment was removed, Rush tried other avenues for relief.
One of these was his support of the current President. He felt deeply that if he gave enough money to that miserable, greedy creature, he would be able to gain Presidential support of a Congressional attempt to revise various laws pertaining to wills.
So far, the President had been pleasant but not forthcoming. That such changes would probably be impossible to achieve and would never pass one, let alone both, houses of Congress escaped him. Charles Rush was used to having his way by whatever means he could find and he knew from personal experience that almost all the members of Congress could very easily be purchased.
His current plan was to deed some of his family land in the southernmost tip of Illinois to the government as a game preserve and by this, gain the cooperation of the President who was planning to run for reelection and badly needed the conservationist vote. The incumbent leader’s permitting oil companies to drill in Yellowstone Park had created such a physical mess when pristine geysers erupted gouts of oil that it would be necessary to perform some redeeming conservationist act.
Rush found out that he could not give away the land, although he felt that if he could, it would provide a crack in the terms of the will, but he eventually settled on permitting the land to be set aside as a Federal nature preserve. The title would still remain in the estate but outwardly, it would appear as if Charles Rush was a benefactor of animal lovers and the President would bask in the reflected glory.
Tentative plans had been made for a proper dedication ceremony in mid-April, weather permitting, and the President would be present for it before going on to Chicago for a large, projected rally of loyal Democrats, illegal aliens who hoped to become citizens by cheering the President’s imperial progress through the city, employees of the Chicago political machine who would be forced to turn out en masse and the curious who had nothing better to do than to watch what amounted to a third-rate freak show at Soldier’s Field.

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

No responses yet

Leave a Reply