Media (360)

 

Nancy is Praying

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

At the beginning of the week the White House introduced an organic definition of the presidency to justify Donald Trump’s instructing Don McGahn not to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.  According to his lawyers the president enjoys total immunity from congressional investigations as do his current and former staffers, who should be looked at as the limbs – if not the tentacles – of the presidency.  Implied by these legal acrobatics is that everybody who ever worked for Trump during his first term would be above the law, but committee chairman Nadler wouldn’t have any of it and held McGahn in contempt while he subpoenaed his former Chief of Staff, Annie Donaldson, and Hope Hicks, Trump’s former Communications Director.  It was only the beginning of a rollout of bad news for the president during the rest of the week.  First it was revealed that within Deutsche Bank several ‘suspicious activity’ reports had been generated concerning the possibility that both Trump and Jared Kushner had been involved in money laundering.  For reasons unknown the reports never made it to the Treasury, where they belonged.

Subsequently a federal judge in DC made public that there had been attempts to affect both Michael Flynn’s willingness to cooperate with the Mueller probe and the completeness of that cooperation, information supported by voicemail messages left by one of Trump’s lawyers.  As if that was not enough to bring the president’s blood to a boil another judge in DC ruled that Mazars USA, Trump’s tax preparer, can share information with Congress, handing the Trump family its first defeat in court.  Out of the IRS leaked the news that an internal memo had been drafted arguing that Trump’s tax returns should be handed over to Congress, but that it had been squatted by the IRS Commissioner, who was hand-picked by the president exactly for that  purpose.  Next, a judge in New York City decided that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can share information about the Trump organization’s finances with Congress, and William Barr decided that he cannot keep information away from the House Intelligence Committee.  To cap it off the New York State legislature decided to make Trump’s state tax returns available to Congress.

So it was understandable that the president was not his charming self when Wednesday morning he got ready to talk with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer about a $2 trillion infrastructure plan and heard Pelosi say on TV that he was involved in a cover-up.  Adding to his plight was that he didn’t have $2 trillion, because he had given $1.5 trillion to the rich and US corporations in  tax cuts, and that he didn’t have an infrastructure plan either.  Knowing that Pelosi and Schumer would have a plan and would expect money to implement it he decided not to meet with them.

He kept them waiting for 15 minutes while his staff set up a podium in the Rose Garden with posters containing two lies, ‘NO collusion’ and ‘NO obstruction,’ and then walked into the Cabinet Room to tell the Democrats that he would not work with them until all investigations had been halted.   Following his walk-out Trump declared in the Rose Garden ‘I don’t do cover-ups,’ and called himself ‘the most transparent president ever,’ forgetting how he had just silenced all of his current and former staffers.

It was the beginning of a public exchange with Pelosi, who questioned the president’s mental health and said that she hoped his family or staff would stage ‘an intervention’ while she was praying for him.   Trump responded by calling her ‘crazy’ and retweeting a doctored video in which the Speaker appeared to be drunk and slur her words.   Stay  tuned if you think we’ve seen the lowest point of this presidency yet.

 

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King Donald

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

On Wednesday the White House Counsel sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee informing him that Congress has no right to a ‘do-over’ of the Mueller investigation and that therefore all access to records and testimony by current and former White House staffers will be denied.  The ‘legal’ foundation of this stance appears to be that Congress is not a law enforcement agency and does not have a legitimate purpose to pursue its investigations, an argument that was also used by Trump’s lawyers who are trying to quell subpoenas for documents from Trump’s tax preparer and Deutsche Bank.  With the letter the White House’s reasoning has reached a new low.  Since the Special Counsel could not charge Trump with obstruction of justice  because according to the Department of Justice a sitting president cannot be indicted, he left it to Congress to draw conclusions from his probe, as part of its constitutional oversight function.  If Trump cannot be indicted and cannot be investigated by Congress he is effectively above the law, and could indeed shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.

The letter came on top of a series of absurd statements by Trump, who had no qualms about suggesting that the Department of Justice should investigate Joe Biden, declared that Don McGahn had been more likely to be fired than Mueller, and said that FBI Director Wray had protected conspirators involved in a ‘coup’ attempt.  Meanwhile Attorney General Barr commissioned a third investigation of the origins of the Mueller probe next to two ongoing investigations, in an attempt to break the Benghazi record and with almost certainly a similar lack of success.  Especially the president’s attacks on McGahn are puzzling, since the former White House Counsel is tentatively scheduled to testify in the House next Tuesday and unlike Barr will want to avoid being held in contempt of Congress, because unlike the AG he still has other ambitions than licking Trump’s boots. The president was mystified as to why Don Jr. was subpoenaed to testify once more in the Senate, because his son had already testified at least 20 hours, but he overlooked that junior had probably lied under oath and that the record needed to be set straight.

The level of lawlessness in Trump’s circles was illustrated by Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who encouraged Don Jr. to ignore the subpoena.   Additionally it was revealed that Trump’s lawyers drafted Michael Cohen’s initial lies to Congress, while the Department of Justice is challenging a lawsuit concerning the president’s financially benefitting from foreign governments via his businesses.  In the meantime the Democrats are still hoping for Mueller’s testimony.

The president is still trying to get his head around the fact that not China but American consumers pay his tariffs, making them effectively a consumer tax.   He is now facing crises on four continents, in US relationships with China, Iran, North-Korea and Venezuela, but in spite of John Bolton’s war mongering Trump has told his Defense Secretary that he doesn’t want to go to war with Iran, until he changes his mind of course.

And while Trump and Jared Kushner yesterday blew the roll-out of a new immigration policy by sending contradictory messages to the press and to Congress Trump is already eyeing the July 4th celebration, changing the location and including an ‘imperatorial’ speech and possibly a military parade, making it all about him and not about the country.


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'De grootste klootzak van Nederland'

 De laatste kleurrijke vakbondsbestuurder.
     In diverse beschouwingen kom je deze typering tegen als het gaat over Jaap van der Scheur. 
Het zegt ontegenzeggelijk iets over de man, maar ook over roerige periodes tussen 1970 en 1990 in de vorige eeuw.
     
Tijden van grote acties en manifestaties, van stakingen en bedrijfsbezettingen, van oproer en verzet.

Jaap van der Scheur was van 1982 tot 1990 voorzitter van de FNV-ambtenarenbond AbvaKabo.
      In 1983 leidde hij zeven weken lang stakingsacties.
Volksmenner werd hij genoemd door zijn tegenstanders. Demagoog. En: De grootste klootzak van Nederland.


Marathon-interview

     
      Op 12 juli 1996 hield ik voor de VPRO-radio een drie uur durend marathoninterview met hem.

Het is op de VPRO-site te vinden en kan HIER beluisterd worden op:

Jaap van der Scheur werd in november 1926 geboren in Heerlen, waar zijn vader in de mijnen werkte.
      Een protestants gezin in het katholieke zuiden, dat al snel verhuisde naar Den Haag. Daar leerde Jaap het Haags dialect spreken, dat hij nooit kwijtraakte.
      Het werd gepersifleerd door Wim de Bie in zijn type Aad van der Naad.

Als het interview plaatsvindt is Jaap met pensioen, maar vissen… nee vissen zit er niet in. Hij is actief in diverse organisaties en heeft in Rotterdam een eigen politieke partij opgericht, Solidair ’93.

Solidariteit is een sleutelbegrip in zijn leven. En idealisme.
      Hij blijft ondanks allerlei andere signalen geloven in een maatschappij waarin rechtvaardigheid bestaat..

Hoogtepunt van zijn macht en in zekere zin ook van zijn onmacht was de stakingsactie in 1983, die in feite gericht was tegen het kabinet Lubbers, dat de ambtenarensalarissen met drie en een half procent wilde korten.
      In het hele land waren ambtenaren in staking , het openbaar vervoer lag soms plat, het huisvuil stapelde zich op en post werd soms niet bezorgd.
      Het hele land stond op zijn kop.

Rechterlijke uitspraken

Uiteindelijk zou Lubbers geen duimbreed wijken en werden de acties ondermijnd door rechterlijke uitspraken.
      Er werden maar liefst negen korte gedingen gevoerd en steeds moesten op rechterlijk gezag acties worden afgeblazen.

We hebben verloren van de rechters, maar de mensen hebben body getoond en hun eigenwaarde teruggevonden’, zei Jaap van der Scheur.
      De rechters waren stakingsbrekers’.

Hij werd er alleen maar populairder door.

‘Geen gezeur over Van der scheur’ is het motto.

Geloof

We spreken verder over geloof, zijn protestantse opvoeding en de rol van het geloof binnen zijn gezin.
      Zijn vrouw en drie kinderen zijn Jehovah-getuigen.
Wat zou er gebeuren als één van zijn kinderen een bloedtransfusie nodig zou hebben.

Het gesprek gaat voorts over Noord-Ierland en Israël, over de bouw van de Erasmus-brug in Rotterdam (De Zwaan), die honderd miljoen gulden meer kostte dan andere ontwerpen.

Tot slot geeft Jaap van der Scheur een uitvoerig antwoord op de algemene vraag:
      Hoe gaat het verder met de wereld?

Hij geeft zichzelf tijdens het interview nog een jaar zes.
      Jaap van der Scheur overleed in december 2002. Een ziener dus. In alle opzichten.

(Eerder geplaatst juni 2010)

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Above the Constitution

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

In one of his lectures the late Russ Ackoff explained that the Shah of Iran was once the most powerful ruler in the world, because he didn’t have to abide by a constitution.  In other countries you had God at the top, then the constitution, and then the Head of State, but in Iran you had God, then the Shah, and then the constitution.  “So when the Shah had made a decision the only appeal was prayer,” said Ackoff, “and that was not very effective.”  This is the situation Trump would like to emulate in the US, obstructing justice by telling his underlings to disregard subpoenas, trying to prevent former government employee Don McGahn and soon-to-be former government employee Robert Mueller from testifying to Congress, and prohibiting the IRS from making his tax returns available to the House Ways and Means Committee.  Trump’s gamble is that the legal fight over all these issues can be dragged past the 2020 presidential election, allowing him to keep ranting that de Democrats are on a witch hunt and goading the Democrats into impeaching him, which may be the only way for them to get the testimony and documents they want.

A highlight of Trump’s strategy is his declaring executive privilege over the full Mueller report, a somewhat peculiar move because 90% of the report is already in the public domain, but the president’s approach can backfire in three different ways.  First, he counts on the courts to work slowly, but during the Watergate era the courts responded quickly to congressional requests, which eventually brought Nixon down.  Secondly, an impeachment investigation will include the spectacle of McGahn, Mueller and others testifying and will have an effect on the public opinion.  Finally, New York State’s senate has already voted to make Trump’s state tax returns available to Congress, and other documents may come to House committees in similar, non-traditional ways.  The president’s most audacious gamble is that if and when these cases reach the Supreme Court a majority will rule in his favor, making the future of the US as a constitutional republic dependent on the legal conscience of Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.  If they all fail the test America will rapidly slide towards the modern fascist dictatorship Trump craves.

In his new TV show Donny Deutsch observed that from the very beginning Trump has attacked the free press and an independent judiciary, and after the 2018 elections he has added congressional oversight.  Although this assault on the three pillars of democracy is fully supported by Mitch McConnell, who declared ‘game over’ with regards to the Mueller probe, that feeling is not shared by all Republicans, since the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Don Trump Jr. to testify about various aspects of Russian election interference.

And while Trump tries to tear the US system of goverment apart his policies raise tensions in the rest of the world.  North Korea has resumed missile testing, and in response to new sanctions that are crippling its economy Iran threatens to no longer honor the international agreement containing its nuclear program.   New tariffs imposed on $200 billion in Chinese goods have increased the chance of a full-out trade war that will hurt both America’s and China’s economies.

This week the New York Times reported that between 1985 and 1994 Trump lost $1.17 billion in failed business ventures, in two of those years making him the biggest loser in the US.  In 1987 ‘The Art of the Deal’ was published, but Trump’s main deal was that he lost the money his father made.  His defense: everybody in real estate showed losses to avoid paying taxes, something apparently  only dopes do.


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Stonewall Barr

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Robert E. Lee had Stonewall Jackson and Donald Trump has William Barr.  The two came together in a peculiar way this week.  First the president doubled down on his remark that there had been ‘very fine people’ on both sides in Charlottesville, by claiming that the neo-Nazis and KKK members who marched there were defending the honor of Lee, a cruel slave owner who led a military insurrection against the United States, but according to Trump was one of ‘our’ greatest generals.  Obviously the president’s recurring defense of anti-Semites didn’t go down well right after another deadly shooting at a synagogue, and Trump didn’t make things better when at a campaign rally he graphically described how after having given birth and dressed up their babies some mothers start planning the killing of their newborn with the doctor.  But it was all only an overture to a shitshow at the US Senate where Barr, who was called ‘Cover-up General Barr’ during his first stint as Attorney General under George H.W. Bush, would take center stage.  His failed attempt to bury evidence of Bush’s involvement in Iraq-gate and the Iran-Contra affair earned him his first nickname, but henceforth he should be known as ‘Stonewall Barr.’

On the eve of Barr’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee the Washington Post revealed that late in March Robert Mueller had sent Barr a letter expressing his disapproval of the way Barr had characterized the findings of his investigation in a four page letter to Congress on March 24th.  Further reporting showed that the Special Counsel’s office had already contacted the Department of Justice on March 25th about these concerns, and in the afternoon of that day sent a letter once more containing the summaries of Mueller’s report it had prepared for the general public, asking for their immediate release.  When there had been no response Mueller sent Barr a letter on March 27th, stating that the Attorney General’s actions had created ‘public confusion about critical aspects of his investigation’ and undermined confidence in the role of the Special Counsel as an impartial investigator.  It was obvious that in Mueller’s opinion Barr had misrepresented his findings in order to give Trump the chance to claim complete exoneration, and that he was pissed off about it, just like Barr got pissed off about Mueller’s letters and called his (former?) friend the next day to tell him to stop writing letters.

Mueller’s second letter can be summarized as ‘stop lying about my report’ and freaked out Trump, who launched a tweetstorm attacking Mueller, the FBI and for all practical purposes Hillary Clinton.   Barr’s criticism of the Special Counsel in his Senate hearing was that if Mueller wasn’t going to indict Trump he should not have investigated him, a declaration that – in light of the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted – implies that the president can never be investigated and is in fact above the law.  

Since Mueller made it clear in his report that he had preserved evidence for Trump to potentially be indicted after his presidency White House Counsel Emmit Flood sent a letter to Barr accusing Mueller of ‘playing politics,’ exhibiting once more how scared Trump is of Mueller.  Barr pulled out of a House hearing the day after his Senate hearing, but it appears that direct negotiations with Mueller are under way to have him testify by mid-May.

Trying to block the testimony of the Special Counsel and that of witnesses like former White House Counsel Don McGahn yesterday the White House issued a statement that Trump will no longer allow anybody who works or has worked for his administration to testify to Congress.  Even Stonewall Barr, who is after all a skilled lawyer, must realize that this is an empty gesture.

 
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