America's unraveling begins at the State Department


Trial Balloon for a Coup? Analyzing the news of the past 24 hours Yonatan Zunger News Reports (1) Priebus made two public statements today. One is that the ban on Muslims will no longer be applied to green card holders. Notably absent from his statement was anything about people with other types of visa (including long-term ones), or anything about the DHS’ power to unilaterally revoke green cards in bulk. The other was that the omission of Jews from the statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day was deliberate and is not regretted. A point of note here is that Priebus is the one making these statements, which is not normally the Chief of Staff’s job. I’ll come back to that below. (2) Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the intent of yesterday’s order was very much a ban on Muslims, described in those words, and he was among the people Trump asked how they could find a way to do this legally. (3) CNN has a detailed story (heavily sourced) about the process by which this ban was created and announced. Notable in this is that the DHS’ lawyers objected to the order, specifically its exclusion of green card holders, as illegal, and also pressed for there to be a grace period so that people currently out of the country wouldn’t be stranded — and they were personally overruled by Bannon and Stephen Miller. Also notable is that career DHS staff, up to and including the head of Customs & Border Patrol, were kept entirely out of the loop until the order was signed. (4) The Guardian is reporting (heavily sourced) that the “mass resignations" of nearly all senior staff at the State Department on Thursday were not, in fact, resignations, but a purge ordered by the White House. As the diagram below (by Emily Roslin v Praze) shows, this leaves almost nobody in the entire senior staff of the State Department at this point. The seniormost staff of the Department of State. Blue X’s are unfilled positions; red X’s are positions which were purged. Note that the “filled" positions are not actually confirmed yet. As the Guardian points out, this has an important and likely not accidental effect: it leaves the State Department entirely unstaffed during these critical first weeks, when orders like the Muslim ban (which they would normally resist) are coming down. The article points out another point worth highlighting: “In the past, the state department has been asked to set up early foreign contacts for an incoming administration. This time however it has been bypassed, and Trump’s immediate circle of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus are making their own calls." (5) On Inauguration Day, Trump apparently filed his candidacy for 2020. Beyond being unusual, this opens up the ability for him to start accepting “campaign contributions" right away. Given that a sizable fraction of the campaign funds from the previous cycle were paid directly to the Trump organization in exchange for building leases, etc., at inflated rates, you can assume that those campaign coffers are a mechanism by which US nationals can easily give cash bribes directly to Trump. Non-US nationals can, of course, \continue to use Trump’s hotels and other businesses as a way to funnel money to him. (6) Finally, I want to highlight a story that many people haven’t noticed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, \has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying" for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies. Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission."
Reject Rex Tillerson, EXXON's Russian Obligate Oil Guy - Here's why. A collection of informative articles about Rex Tillerson and why we should never allow such a single-minded corporate machine to become USA’s Secretary of State. A position demanding respect for our Constitution and a much broader understanding than a dedicated oil man(42+years) who knows nothing but drilling for profits is capable of acquiring. No matter now many big shot deals he may have closed! Why are supposedly patriotic Republicans so accepting of Tillerson’s oh so cozy, nay intimate, ties to Russia’s Putin, which he is disingenuously back peddling? More importantly Tillerson is a corporate guy who despises our government for interfering with his business dreams. Given the powers of the Secretary of State you can be sure that his objective will not be to uphold his oath and USA's constitution but to rearrange USA from a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, into the Corporation of Amerika, a government fully owned and dedicated to the interests of today’s corporate oligarchs. People who have utter disregard and contempt for anything beyond their own oh so myopic self-interests.
{you can find quotes and links to the following stories} * As Tillerson Dodges, Exxon Ordered to Hand Over Evidence of Climate Cover-Up * Rex Tillerson Denies Oil & Gas Subsidies Exist, While Company Profits From Them * Tillerson doesn’t deny climate change – but dodges questions about Exxon’s role in sowing doubt * Rex Tillerson Would Put the Dollar Sign on the American Flag * A War on Regulations * Seven Issues that Could Have Rex on the Ropes * Rex Tillerson Is Big Oil Personified. The Damage He Can Do Is Immense * #RejectRex: Protests as 'Big Oil Personified' Faces Capitol Hill Hearing * The Existential Threat of Trump’s Corporate Cabinet * How Rex Tillerson Changed His Tune on Russia and Came to Court Its Rulers * Behind the deep ties between Exxon's Rex Tillerson and Russia * What It Really Means to Be a ‘Friend of Putin’ ** United States 115 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations list
__________________________________________________ Tillerson Called Out for 'Lying About Climate' During Confirmation Hearing Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by Deirdre Fulton at Common Dreams 'Listening to his hearing, it would be easier to conclude Tillerson is under criminal investigation than under consideration for secretary of state' Tips on Calling Your Member of Congress When you dial 202-224-3121 you are directed to an operator at the Capitol switchboard. This switchboard can direct you to both senators as well as representatives. Once the operator answers, ask to be connected to whomever you are trying to reach. They will send you to your senator's or representative's office line, and a legislative assistant will answer the phone. It is important to let them know why you are calling and what issue you are calling about. You will sometimes be able to speak directly to your senator or representative, but more often you will speak to a staff person in the member's office. This person keeps track of how many people called and their positions on issues, and provides a summary to the member. Be assured that your call does count, even if you are not able to speak directly to your senator or representative. * You can also find the direct number to any member's office by consulting the Senate phone list or House phone list How to be effective about contacting your senator: What Really Happens When You Call?