Those of us in the US have been watching wall to wall coverage of the initial vetting of Donald Trump’s proposed Cabinet by the Senate committees charged with overseeing that piece of the government’s business. It’s been our first opportunity, for example, to hear from Rex Tillerson, the nominee for Secretary of State, who will replace the patrician John Kerry, or General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Despite having one of the greatest nicknames ever, he came across as a warrior-intellectual who hardly agreed with any consistency on many of Trump’s musings on geopolitical military planning.
We were also barraged with a series of truly remarkable images and social media chicanery over the last 24 – 48 hours. It is difficult to take much umbrage at anything that occurs in the sphere of social media since the prominence attached to it, though lacking in seriousness, is invariably associated with the effective employment of Twitter by the President-elect. SO SAD!
Buzzfeed, a website better known for stories like “How Well Do You Know Commas?” than breaking actual news, published a completely unsubstantiated series of charges against Trump, allegedly compiled by a former MI-6 agent working for a private company. It suggested the soon-to-be President had a web of financial relationships with Vladimir Putin and friendly oligarchs and that he had defiled a hotel suite in Moscow at which Obama had once stayed, motivated by his hatred for the soon-to-be-ex-President.
CNN gave the story some credibility by reporting on the allegations (which had been roundly shunned by others news organizations, despite their biases against Trump, like The New York Times), although they maintained the allegations were unsubstantiated and did not disclose any portion of the 35-page document that Buzzfeed had published. This all occurred the evening before Donald had scheduled a news conference to discuss how his business affairs were to be managed after he assumed office.
The news conference began and it was clear that Trump was livid. He inferred that political appointees who ran some intelligence agencies may have leaked the document, he thanked those news organizations that refused to carry a spurious report which could not be confirmed, and he blasted Buzzfeed and CNN, even refusing to take a question from one of the latter’s reporters. It was AMAZING!
I’m not sure if it topped the visual image of Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham appearing on television together. Have there been two figures from the same party who have loathed one another more? Graham, when asked by CNN whether he would support Trump or Cruz if either became the Republican nominee, said he would prefer to “buy a ticket on the Titanic.” Or even better. “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate…nobody could convict you.”
What could possibly have brought them together? First, Graham apologized for having threatened to kill Cruz on the Senate floor. “I’m sorry, Ted,” he said. “At least we’re not on the Senate floor now,” Cruz quipped. But the Senators have united to propose legislation to cut off US funding to the UN unless it repeals the controversial Resolution 2334 which Obama and Kerry encouraged. It is estimated that US taxpayers absorb as much as $8 billion per year in mandatory and “voluntary” assessments. It is difficult to conceive that the organization could conduct its affairs in the manner to which it is accustomed with this loss of revenue.
If Graham and Cruz can set aside – at least temporarily – their personal differences to co-sponsor a bill of this magnitude, there is a reasonable expectation that this legislation could pass since no Democratic votes would be required for a 51 vote majority. On the other hand, this might be a preemptive warning shot across the bow. Perhaps the bill does not get to the floor for a vote, but the message to the world body is clear. This is not Obama World any longer, if the Palestinians want a state they will have to negotiate its final status with the Israelis, and Israel will not proceed without an unambiguous admission that their state will always be the Jewish homeland. The US will not permit some resolution to be imposed upon Israel by a body riddled with corruption and anti-Semitism.
But the defining undercurrent continues to be the charges of the illegitimacy of the election. Hillary won the popular vote. The FBI undermined the election by drawing undue attention to Hillary’s emails in the closing days of the election. The Russians wanted Trump to win and leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks. John McCain acquired the now infamous dossier I referenced earlier and turned it over to the FBI (who already had the document) explaining, “I did what any citizen would do.” Of course, he failed to mention that he had dispatched an emissary to London to meet with a source who claimed to possess a hard copy of the document. Forgive me, Senator, but could this document not have been scanned, sent to your email address (even private, off-site email address), printed and then turned over to Jim Comey?
Today it appears the Progressives have focused their anger and frustration on Jim Comey. He’s much easier to attack than Vladimir Putin because of proximity and while he was hailed – briefly – as a hero when he announced that criminal charges would not be pursued against Hillary Clinton for transmitting highly secure government information over networks not secured by government IT specialists, he is now being trashed for his “double standard” because he refuses to discuss whether or under what circumstances his agency is examining the relationship(s) between Trump and Putin. Rep. Alcee Hastings from Florida, who used to be a judge but was convicted of accepting $150,000 in bribes, called for Trump to fire Comey.
If they can’t stop Trump from becoming President a week from now, they will extract a price from someone. Like Eric Holder, hardly the standard of an apolitical Attorney General, destroyed the reputation of General Petraeus and drove him from the CIA for transgressions far less serious than those committed by Hillary, there are powerful factions in government and the press who find him as illegitimate as a Florida hanging chad. The Congressional Black Caucus was particularly vocal today and Rep John Lewis, universally respected for his work with Dr. King during the darkest days of the civil rights movement, said, “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
The Russians didn’t destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, Rep. Lewis. She spent $1.2 billion doing it all by herself with the assistance, of course, of a very well compensated staff that wasn’t smart enough to tell her where to campaign or how to secure her emails.