Turkey, compare and contrast

Donald Trump is very upset with Turkey:

U.S. President Donald Trump intensified his spat with Turkey on Friday by imposing higher tariffs on metal imports, putting unprecedented economic pressure on a NATO ally and deepening turmoil in Turkish financial markets.

Why is he so upset?

Brunson, an evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, was jailed for allegedly supporting a group that Ankara blames for an attempted coup in 2016. Brunson denies the

charge. His cause resonates with Christian conservative supporters of Trump, who could also be influential as Republicans seek to retain control of Congress in midterm elections in November.

This was a change:

At the U.N. General Assembly last year, Trump called Erdogan a “friend” who got “very high marks” for how he runs the country.

Just weeks ago, Trump was reported to have fist-bumped Erdogan during a NATO meeting in Brussels.

Now compare this to an incident last May:

Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

The episode was not the first time that Turkish security forces have ignited violence in the American capital. The police and members of Mr. Erdogan’s security team clashed with demonstrators last year outside the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Erdogan was giving a speech. Brookings wrote on its website that his bodyguards had “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”

After that incident, President Trump … still called Erdogan a good friend. So, roughing up US protestors in the US is fine but jailing an evangelical pastor crosses the line? This is life in the time of Trump.

Trump, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Iran

Saudi Arabia is mad at Canada:

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it is ordering Canada’s ambassador to leave the country and freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada in a spat over human rights.

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Why? It seems because of this tweet:

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.

That’s obviously a terrible thing:

The Saudi Foreign Ministry called the use of “immediately release” in Canada’s tweet “unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states.”

It dismissed Canada’s characterization of the activists as “an incorrect claim” and said Canada’s attitude was “surprising.”

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

Canada replied as they should:

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a brief response to the Saudi complaint on Sunday evening.

“We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marie-Pier Baril.

“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

This reaction is typical of Saudi Arabia:

The dispute with Canada is part of a larger pushback against external criticism, analysts say. Germany similarly has found itself targeted by the kingdom in recent months over comments by its officials on the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

It’s also not the first time Saudi Arabia has lashed out diplomatically over the Badawi case. In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the Scandinavian country’s foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as “medieval” and the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a “dictatorship.”

Normally, the US would be expected to back up an ally like Canada but:

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won’t accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles abroad, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

In a (hopefully) coincidence, today is the day US sanctions on Iran are renewed:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran will be rigorously enforced and remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

‘‘We’re hopeful that we can find a way to move forward but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime,’’ he said Sunday. ‘‘They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple.’’

Since the Trump administration hasn’t said anything about Saudi Arabia, I guess they consider their actions to Canada’s statements to be normal?

 

Donald Trump is anti-immigrant and racist

The United States has long been known as a refuge, something Donald Trump is against:

Last year, after a fierce internal battle that pitted Miller, who advocated a limit as low as 15,000, against officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Pentagon, Trump set the cap at 45,000, a historic low. Under one plan currently being discussed, no more than 25,000 refugees could be resettled in the United States next year, a cut of more than 40 percent from this year’s limit. It would be the lowest number of refugees admitted to the country since the creation of the program in 1980.

The goal is to bring in more whites:

Another steep reduction in refugees would be the latest piece of a multipronged effort by the president — devised and driven in large part by Miller — not just to crack down on illegal immigration, but also to fundamentally change the face of legal immigration in America.

The approach would move away from a system that prioritizes diversity, family ties and providing protection for persecuted people and toward one singularly focused on merit and skills. The president’s periodic efforts to pressure Congress to enact such policies have gone nowhere, but he has used his executive power to make changes where he can.

This doesn’t explicitly show the policy is racist but some of his previous comments make it clear:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.

In addition, the president singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal, these people said.

Just another way that Donald Trump is making the US a worse place.

How the pro-life treat immigrants

Well, this is typical of the Trump administration (in other words, horrific):

Two weeks after arriving in the US seeking asylum, E, 23, found herself in a detention cell in San Luis, Arizona, bleeding profusely and begging for help from staff at the facility. She was four months pregnant and felt like she was losing her baby. She had come to the US from El Salvador after finding out she was pregnant, in the hopes of raising her son in a safer home.

“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors. They wouldn’t look after me,” she told BuzzFeed News, speaking by phone from another detention center, Otay Mesa in San Diego. “I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying.”

While the national focus has been on family separations, another Department of Homeland Security policy quietly introduced by the Trump administration five months earlier has devastated women fleeing violence in their home countries: the detention of pregnant women not yet in their third trimester.

Before that directive, which the Trump administration implemented in December before announcing it in March, ICE was under an Obama administration–era directive not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.

The new ICE directive states that women are not to be held into their third trimester and that ICE is responsible for “ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment.”

But BuzzFeed News has found evidence that that directive is not being carried out. Instead, women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care, even when in dire need of it, are shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated.

This from the most pro-life President in American history. Of course, I’m not sure this administration considers immigrants real people.

There’s a bill in the Senate to stop this and there is also action in the House. Both of my Senators are co-sponsors and my Rep (Katherine Clark) introduced an amendment for similar restrictions. Yay Massachusetts.

Civility

Most people have heard this quote from William Lloyd Garrison about civility:

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.

But he has an even more relevant quote:

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.

People who take children away from their parents are not reasonable or humane and being civil with them gains little.

Wonkette brings up another relevant case here:

Anti-abortion activists recently blanketed two Indianapolis neighborhoods with flyers to tell people living there that one of their neighbors is a doctor who performs abortions.

The flyers were produced in conjunction with a national conference held this week in Indianapolis by an organization that seeks to abolish legal abortion.  About 200 to 300 members of Dallas-based Operation Save America will attend the conference, said James Farrar, pastor of the Aletheia Church on the southside, a local church that is helping host the event.

Operation Save America does not advocate violence, Farrar said. Every person who attends the conference signs a pledge of non-violence.

“We are pro-life. We believe that people have a right to live. … In the entire history of OSA, there’s never been a case where OSA has ever been prosecuted or been violent towards anyone,” he said.

Hey, here’s a story about OSA:

The group’s protest efforts have been focused on site of the future Planned Parenthood clinic on South Claiborne Avenue, but on Sunday, they took a different turn when members showed up inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church at Claiborne and Jefferson. The disturbance took place as the congregation was holding a moment of silence for a member of the church who had died the week before, said the Rev. Deanna Vandiver.

“Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about ‘abominations,’ ” Vandiver said. The protesters were shouting that the church was not a true faith, she said. “Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.”

And let’s look at some history of the organization:

In 1994, Flip Benham became the director of the organization, then called Operation Rescue National. Benham replaced Keith Tucci, who had replaced Randall Terry.[3] Terry, Tucci and Benham have all been convicted of crimes related to their protest activities.[4] Rusty Thomas is the current national director, having taken over when Flip Benham stepped down.

And some more history:

On May 31, 2009, Tiller was assassinated in his church. Scott Roeder of Merriam, KS was convicted of first degree murder in the shooting. Operation Rescue denounced Tiller’s murder in numerous statements, describing it as “cowardly”[27][28] and “antithetical to what we believe”.[29] The group also said that Roeder had “never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue.”[30] Roeder responded to Newman’s disavowal by declaring, “Well, my gosh. I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”[31]

The phone number for Operation Rescue’s senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, was found on the dashboard of Scott Roeder’s car.[32] At first Sullenger, who was convicted for conspiring to blow up a California abortion clinic in 1988, denied any contact with him, saying that her phone number is freely available online. Then, she revised her statements, indicating that she informed Scott Roeder of where Dr Tiller would be at specific times:

“He would call and say, ‘When does court start? When’s the next hearing?'” Sullenger said. “I was polite enough to give him the information. I had no reason not to. Who knew? Who knew, you know what I mean?”

And Wonkette looks at a list of violence against abortion providers:

Since the 1994 murder of Dr. David Gunn, there have been 10 more murders and 26 attempted murders related to anti-abortion terrorism. Between 1977 and 2009, according to the National Abortion Federation, there were 179 incidents of assault and battery, 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 96 attempted bombings or arsons, 390 invasions, 1400 incidents of vandalism, 1993 incidents of trespassing, 100 butyric acid attacks, 659 anthrax threats, 4 kidnappings, 506 death threats, 151 burglaries and 525 incidents of stalking committed by anti-abortion terrorists. Obviously those numbers have gone up in the last 9 years.

These people have shown they don’t deserve civility. And it’s a waste of time to try to engage with them. Fuck them.

Really, what does Putin have on Trump?

The intelligence community strikes back:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.


According to nearly a dozen people who either attended the meeting with the president-elect or were later briefed on it, the four primary intelligence officials described the streams of intelligence that convinced them of Mr. Putin’s role in the election interference.

They included stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee that had been seen in Russian military intelligence networks by the British, Dutch and American intelligence services. Officers of the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the G.R.U. had plotted with groups like WikiLeaks on how to release the email stash.

And ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role.

That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration, as the Russia investigation intensified.

So, Trump was shown almost incontrovertible evidence before his inauguration and yet he still continuously questions it. It really makes one wonder what Putin has on him.

And this makes one think about it even more:

At this week’s summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an “incredible offer” — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.

One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out the Kremlin’s request to question McFaul and other Americans. Asked during the daily press briefing whether Trump is open to the idea of having McFaul questioned by Russia, Sanders said President Trump is “going to meet with his team” to discuss the offer.

There are a bunch of comebacks here, including this one from John Kerry:

The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn’t be under consideration, period. Full stop,” adding that the proposal is “not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous.

This is what happens when you don’t prepare for a summit–you say stupid things because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or, at least, you can claim that so people are a bit less likely to wonder what Putin has on him.

President Trump: traitor or just Russian apologist?

President Trump thinks both the US and Russia are to blame for bad relations:

Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia. And we’re getting together. And we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping — because we have to do it. Ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore.

And he believes both Putin and the US intelligence agencies:

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.

Ok, I have to admit I’m not sure if he’s saying that he trusts them both or squirrel.

For fun Putin implied that Trump wants to help prop up oil and gas prices:

If I may, I’d throw in some two cents. We talked to Mr. President, including this subject as well. We are aware of the stance of President Trump. And I think that we, as a major oil and gas power — and the United States, as a major oil and gas power as well — we could work together on regulation of international markets, because neither of us is actually interested in the plummeting of the prices.

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