Saturday, June 3, 2017

Taking a break

I'm having some computer problems that are making it difficult to get a ShrinkRap post ready to go up tonight.   I'm also suffering from Trump Fatigue Syndrome.   So it seems like a good time to take a break from my daily postings on ShrinkRap.

James Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, June 8th.   So I'm sure I'll be having some things to say about that.   And maybe even before.   So I invite you to check back in a few days.


Cities, states, and other countries step into leadership vacuum on climate

There is widespread condemnation of Trump's decision to take us out of the Paris Accord -- and equal condemnation of his faulty reasoning for doing so. said that "virtually every passage [of Trump's speech] contains something false or misleading. . . .  A proper fact-check would run longer than the speech itself."

Jonathan Chait, wrote in the Daily Intelligenser:

 "Trump was never going to support the Paris climate agreement because a collective-action problem is one of the concepts he is unable to grasp. Paris is built around ameliorating a problem affecting the entire world. Trump only understands zero-sum logic. . . .

"Trump’s description of the agreement is so wildly at odds with reality . . . [but]  To call Trump’s speech a pack of lies is to grant him the probably undeserved compliment of assuming he knows better. The entire case was false — the facts, the logic, the understanding of what the agreement he opposes is even attempting to do."

Trump is backed by his anti-global, anti-science, backward-looking conservative base.   It is an embarrassment to us as a nation to have elected such a man as our president.  We made them put up with Obama;  now they're making us put up with the anti-Obama.

So we will, for a while anyway.   But we do not have to burn up Planet Earth in the meantime.   First, other world leaders are stepping up.   Leaders of Germany, France, and Italy immediately declared their readiness to go forward without the United States.

China is more than eager to step into the leadership role on climate.   They had already announced a $900 billion fund to invest in infrastructure and clean energy projects abroad.   The United Nations estimates that the rapidly growing clean energy industry -- estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2030 -- will be growing faster in Europe, India, and China than in the U.S.

But America is out in name only.   President Trump is beginning to look a little lonely out there on his limb.   Less than 24 hours after Trump abdicated the role of world leadership, the governors of California, New York, and the state of Washington pledged to continue to lead in the area of climate change.   They are at the forefront of innovation and regulation to reduce our carbon pollution -- and they will continue and even intensify their work.
The mayors of Atlanta and Pittsburgh have similarly stepped forward to pledge the continuation of their cities' efforts.    The Pittsburgh mayor was also speaking out in opposition to President Trump's singling out his city in his speech, when he said:   "I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris."    The Pittsburgh mayor added that his city had given 80% of its votes to Clinton.

President Trump has badly miscalculated the American people, over-estimating his base of "left-behind" workers.   In his speech, he went off-script to wonder if others are laughing at us --  he thought that it was because we had signed such a bad deal that disadvantaged us.    In fact, I think right now they feel sad and puzzled that we chose so badly when we elected Donald Trump.   But any laughing they do is because of Trump himself, not because of the climate deal Obama made.


PS:   Later, a news release said that as many as 30 states are wanting to join the plan by CA, NY, and WA in pledging to carry out their climate response plans.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"The day the United States resigned as the leader of the free world.” - Zakaria

In a Rose Garden setting, with seated guests and formally introduced by a fawning Vice President Pence, President Donald Trump formally announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.    He added that once we have done that and are out of the agreement, then he will consider renegotiating for a better deal for American taxpayers, or perhaps a completely new deal.

Trump's announcement speech lasted more than 20 minutes and included a dark, bleak view of our place in the world.   MSNBC's Nicole Wallace called it an "anti-global speech."  He actually said this:  "Our withdrawal from the agreement represents our reassertion of America's own sovereignty."

Folks, pardon my language, but that is pure, unadulterated bullshit.   Fareed Zakaria, speaking on CNN was less profane, but he called it "The day the United States resigned as the leader of the free world."

First of all, Trump's talk of our threatened sovereignty is entirely bogus:  the Paris Accord does not give any other country any control over us.   Either Trump does not understand it at all, or he is being completely cynical and pandering to his misinformed voting base.

The Paris Accord is a completely voluntarily agreement, where 195 nations miraculously came together in 2015 and made an agreement, whereby each country would voluntarily set its own goals for reduction of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.   The group is one of solidarity and mutual encouragement to solve a global problem that affects us all;  no one controls others.

Only two countries declined to join the accord:   Syria, which is immersed in a civil war, and Nicaragua, which felt it did not go far enough in solving the problem.  So now the U.S. has become one of three non-signers.

But, hear more of Trump's line of fake news, aimed at his voting base:   "The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers,  weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risk, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world."

None of that is true.  As with his beef with other NATO countries, he can't stand it for the U.S. to pay more of the costs than others.   So he rails about our being taken advantage of, and pretends that only he can really make a good deal for our interests.

Donald Trump is incapable of seeing beyond a zero-sum deal, where someone wins and the other guy loses;  and, if you can find a way to take advantage of some weakness in the other guy, then do it and consider yourself smart.   That's his philosophy and world view.  Completely missing from his speech were these important points:

1.  There was no acknowledgement that we do have an unsustainable climate warming problem.   He didn't deny scientific evidence;  he mentioned the climate problem only to minimize it, misstating the estimates and referring to the predicted temperature rise as "tiny, very tiny." **  It was as though, somehow, through Obama's fecklessness, we just stumbled into this agreement that is going to be terrible for our economy.

2.  The Paris Accord is a voluntary agreement for mutual improvement of global climate.   It has no enforcement authority other than encouragement to do what is necessary for our children to have a future.  It's basis is cooperation for a higher purpose -- saving our planet -- not authoritative control.   Trump can't fathom such a thing working.

3.  He made no mention of innovations in renewable energy and the number of jobs being created (more than are at risk in declining fossil fuel industries).  His only solution is that we have to take the regulations off fossil fuel companies, reopen coal mines, renew their jobs.

4.  He has no concept of the symbolic importance, as well as the practical importance, of this being the first time virtually all the nations of the world have come together in an agreement.   He just dumped that all in the trash.  It has no place in his world.  Again, he has no understanding of cooperation, if there is no payoff for him.

5.  His discussion of the economic effects is completely one-sided, as though the decline in the fossil fuel industry is the only fact.  The truth, according to Rick Stengel, former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Obama is that:  "The renewable energy market is a trillion dollar market, going down the road;  and it is going to dwarf the old markets that exist now."

In painting his false picture of the economic harm our agreement would do to the United States, Trump quoted from a widely debunked study that predicted terrible economic results for the U.S. -- but, as Nicole Wallace of MSNBC pointed out, that study was based on the assumption that the U.S. would meet its stated goals by 100%, while every other one of the signatory countries would do absolutely nothing in their countries.

Beyond the economic effects of withdrawal here at home is the effect on our position in the world.  What Trump has done is to remove the United States from a leadership position on climate change and cede that position to China, who is ready and eager to take our place as the leader on climate activism.  They already have a start as the leading producer of solar panels.

Oh, and by the way, the idea of renegotiating a better deal?  Less than an hour after his announcement, the leaders of Germany, France, and Italy sent out a joint statement saying that there would be no renegotiation.

Back to Rick Stengel, who also commented on what withdrawal will do to our global standing.   He said this:

"Unfortunately, 'America First' means 'Little America.'  An America outside the global order.  It's like Great Britain became "Little England;' the United States will become 'Little America.'   He's withdrawing us from the world, where we lead -- sometimes by sacrificing.  We made great sacrifices in World War II;  we started the Marshall Plan. . . .  Leadership involves sacrifice.  It doesn't just mean 'more for me.'"

As Zakaria said, we're not just backing out of the climate agreement.  We're are resigning as the leader of the free world.    Will it now be Germany?   Or China?   Putin's economy wouldn't support a major move, but look for him to stir up some trouble in Eastern Europe . . . soon, so as to take advantage of our turmoil.


**  Trump really does not seem to understand the climate problem.   Perhaps someone should inform him that predictions are that by 2100, if we do nothing, Mar-a-Lago will be under water.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"An extraordinary abdication of American leadership" -- John Kerry

Former Secretary of State, John Kerry, responded to President Trump's announcement that he is pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Sec. Kerry:  "My immediate reaction is that it is an extraordinary abdication of American leadership.  It is a shameful moment for the United States to have unilaterally walked away from an agreement which did not have one other country requiring us to do something.  It was a voluntary program.  We designed the program.

"The president (Trump) was not truthful with the American people today, and the president, who talked about putting America First, has now put America last -- together with Syria, which is in the middle of a civil war and Nicaragua which thought the agreement didn't go far enough.

"This is an extraordinary moment of fake news, because the economy he described is not the economy of America.   America has been gaining jobs in solar;   solar has been gaining at the rate of 17 times the rate of our economy.

"There are 2.6 million jobs in our country in clean energy, half of them are in states that Donald Trump won.   So he is not helping the forgotten American;  he is hurting them, their kids will have worse asthma in the summer;  they will have a harder time having economic growth.  He's made us an environmental pariah in the world, and I think it is one of the most self-destructive moves I've ever seen by any president in my lifetime."
*     *     *

Those are the words of former Secretary of State John Kerry, under whose tenure this Paris Accord was planned and carried out.   As he said, "We (meaning Americans) designed the program."   Yet Trump is speaking as though America is the aggrieved party.   That's a narrative that Trump himself sought to capitalize on during the campaign, and he's putting his campaign promise to those voters ahead of what he must know is good for our country.

This man has no honor or integrity.   What he says is entirely transactional, and it's motivated only by what will further his interest -- at the moment.    And it may be different another day.   Yes, this was a campaign promise, but why today?    With the investigations getting closer and closer to him and his family, he needed to throw out a distraction.   Never mind the future of the world.

Reporter gives broken glasses to museum

The Guardian newspaper -- whose reporter Ben Jacobs was assaulted by the Republican candidate, and now Montana's new congressman, Greg Gianforte -- says that Jacobs now has replaced the glasses that were broken in the attack.

Jacobs has agreed to a request by the Washington, DC media museum, The Newseum, to donate his broken glasses to the museum to be displayed in their collection. They are, after all, a relic of a physical attack on a journalist by a candidate for the U.S. Congress.  And it occurred the day before the election, which Gianforte went on to win, although early voting by two-thirds of the voters makes any effect hard to measure.

The attack was not just a shove or a slap.  According to eyewitnesses in the room, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs around the neck with both hands, threw him to the floor, then piled on top of him and was slugging him.   This was a startling first in memory -- and it happened in a climate where President Donald Trump regularly denounces the press and claims that they are the enemy.

Congressman Gianforte has a court date to answer to charges of misdemeanor assault.  Lest you forget, or simply don't care, Mr. President, we are still a nation ruled by laws, not by brute power.

Muslim charity website raises money for Portland hero-victims

I've previously praised the Muslim crowd-funding charity site, which provides a site for individuals or groups to start a fund-raiser for some good cause.

Within just a few days after the tragic deaths of two young men, and the severe injury of another, who came to the defense of two young women on the Portland, Oregon trolley, a LaunchGood project raised more than half a million dollars for the men's families.

You probably know the story.   An angry, 35 year old white man, Jeremy Christian, known for expressing white supremacist beliefs, began yelling racist and anti-Muslim slurs at the two young women, one of whom was black and the other was wearing a hijab.    When three men, who were also passengers on the trolley, came to their defense and tried to subdue the attacker, he stabbed each one in the neck with a knife.   Two of them died, the other is recovering.

The LaunchGood organizers wrote that:  "No amount of money will bring back the victims, but we do hope to lessen the families' burdens in some way. . . . We wish to respond to hate with love, to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action."

It took President Trump three days to even mention this hate crime and the death of two brave young men.    If the identities had been reversed, ie a Muslim attacking white women, does anyone doubt that he would have rushed to the TV cameras to denounce the terrorist and blame the judges who won't let him close our borders to Muslims?

But when the attacker was a white supremacist, Trump didn't even utter a tweet for three days.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump at Israel's Holocaust Museum

Sarah Palin probably wasn't thinking of Donald Trump back in 2008, when she spouted that memorable line:   "You can put lipstick on a pig;  but it's still a pig."  But nine years later, it's the most apt metaphor we have for some of the improvements we're seeing in President Trump's public performances.

Supporters and detractors (including several world leaders and foreign press) differ widely in how they assess Trump's performance on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rome, Belgium, and Sicily.   Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), said:  "The trip was executed to near perfection, and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives."   A Fox News spokeswoman said the trip "by all accounts was a home run."

Trump's speech on Islam before a collection of leaders of the Sunni Arab world was viewed with pleasant surprise for being nuanced and coherent.   In a review of that speech in the liberal Vox News site online, the headline referred to it as "uncharacteristically inoffensive."

It seems that Trump's speechwriters have improved, and Trump himself has improved somewhat as a teleprompter reader.   But has the man himself improved?  Has he even grown in office, perhaps?   Let's look at his unscripted performance among these world leaders at the two summit meetings, for NATO and the G-7 group.

Although he reveled in the lavish attention and flattery as the solo guest in a country (Saudi Arabia) that wanted, and got, favors from him, his behavior with other world leaders was -- as usual -- embarrassing for our country.   A State Department official told The Daily Beast:  "When it comes to diplomacy, President Trump is a drunk tourist, loud and tacky, shoving his way around the dance floor.  He steps on others without realizing it."    And the Atlantic called the trip "a catastrophe for U.S.-Europe relations."

Think about the widely covered handshake (an attempt to demonstrate dominance) over French President Emmanuel Macron;  the shoving aside of the Montenegro prime minister to get to the front of a photo-op;  the dressing-down of Germany with Chancellor Merkel sitting a few feet away;  his refusal to state the US commitment of mutual defense to other NATO nations;  and his refusal to say whether he would pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.   Those are measures of the aggressive, the anti-diplomatic, the bullying Trump.  No improvement.

Spencer Boyer, a former national security officer and specialist on Europe, said of the meeting with European leaders:  "The trip was unfortunately a failure by any objective standard. . . .  It left European allies rattled . . . [by an emerging] image of the U.S. as an unreliable and unpredictable partner."

And here is a measure of his unimproved shallowness, despite the improvement in prepared speeches.  Sarah Wildman of Vox news called it his "lack of gravity and deep reflection."   It came when he visited Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.   His planning team had already set a sour note by initially scheduling only 15 minutes for the visit;  but, after criticism, it was extended to 30 minutes.

His prepared remarks (written for him) referred appropriately and somewhat movingly to:  "millions of innocent, wonderful, and beautiful lives . . . extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people."   He called it "the most savage crime against God and his children . . . [and it is] our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve, and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken."

So, maybe we'll give the speech writer a C+.   Then came an unscripted moment:   signing the guest book upon leaving the museum.  If you've never been to a Holocaust Memorial, let me just say that, for any feeling person, it's nearly impossible not to be in tears at that point.

In contrast to the note of gravitas in the prepared remarks, as Wildman noted, Trump's guest book note sounded . . . well, like Trump:   "blithe, almost chipper."   It was inappropriate for this occasion;   it would have been OK for a party given in his honor.  But, unfortunately, Wildman is right.   It is this, rather than the more somber speech, that will be remembered.   What President Donald J. Trump wrote in the guest book at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem was this:

   "It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends -- so amazing and will never forget."

I think that answers my question.   No, the man himself has not improved.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Putin worse threat than ISIS - Sen. McCain

Senator John McCain has called Vladimir Putin a bigger threat to global security and to US national security than ISIS.

Speaking on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation show, McCain acknowledged that "ISIS can do terrible things . . . .  But it's the Russians who are trying to destroy the very fundamental of democracy."   He was referring to Russian attempts to influence elections in the U.S. and in France.

McCain continued:   "So I view Vladimir Putin, who has dismembered Ukraine, a sovereign nation, who is putting pressure on the Baltics -- I view the Russians as the far greatest challenge that we have."

That is a leading Republican senator speaking.   And yet our Republican president cannot bring himself to utter one slight caution or criticism about Russia or Putin.

At least eight of his associates have had questionable and unreported meetings with Russian officials, during the campaign and since.  Seventeen different security agencies in our government agreed that it was the Russian government behind the hacking of Democrats' emails and spreading of negative propaganda against Hillary Clinton.   The FBI Director announced that there was an active FBI investigation of the possible collusion of members of the Trump campaign with the Russians in this effort, and any other matters that might come up as a result.

Trump fired that FBI Director, only now to have a special counsel appointed to continue the investigation.    The latest bombshell allegation has the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, along with his former National Security Adviser, seeking to set up a secret communication channel through the Russian embassy -- presumably to allow secret talks between Trump and Putin that could evade our own security monitoring.

Why is it that all roads taken by Trump staff seem to lead to Russia?

The same Russia that is the greatest threat to democracy and to global security, according to Sen. John McCain.


Monday, May 29, 2017

"How Saudi Arabia Played Donald Trump"

Fareed Zakaria's May 25th column in the Washington Post puts an important perspective on President Trump's recent trip to the Middle Ease and Europe.   There was an important symbolic meaning in his beginning the visit in Saudi Arabia, where he seemed to enjoy the lavish display of homage to him.

It began with the display of building-sized portraits of Trump in the capital city of Riyahd, followed by lavish banquets, and fly-over jets in formation.   Then there was the signing of the $110 million military equipment contract and other business deals.

In contrast, when Trump met with accumulated allies at the NATO and G-7 meetings, his reception was polite and chilly at best.   Trump contributed his share of provocations, preaching about others not paying their share of NATO and calling Germany "bad" for the trade imbalance on autos.

So, as we've seen before with his courting of Russia and Egypt, Trump seems to enjoy the autocratic rulers of the world, while insulting our allies.    Fareed Zakaria's article focuses on how the Saudis "played" Trump by catering to his relishing of attention and praise.

"How Saudi Arabia Played Donald Trump"

"This week’s bombing in Manchester, England, was another gruesome reminder that the threat from radical Islamist terrorism is ongoing. And President Trump's journey to the Middle East illustrated yet again how the country central to the spread of this terrorism, Saudi Arabia, has managed to evade and deflect any responsibility for it. In fact, Trump has given Saudi Arabia a free pass and a free hand in the region.

"The facts are well-known. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has spread its narrow, puritanical and intolerant version of Islam — originally practiced almost nowhere else — across the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was Saudi, as were 15 of the 199/11 terrorists.
"And we know, via a leaked email from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in recent years the Saudi government, along with Qatar, has been “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [the Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” Saudi nationals make up the second-largest group of foreign fighters in the Islamic State and, by some accounts, the largest in the terrorist group’s Iraqi operations. The kingdom is in a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda in Yemen.
"The Islamic State draws its beliefs from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam. As the former imam of the kingdom’s Grand Mosque said last year, the Islamic State 'exploited our own principles, that can be found in our books. ... We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way.' Until the Islamic State could write its own textbooks for its schools, it adopted the Saudi curriculum as its own.
"Saudi money is now transforming European Islam. Leaked German intelligence reports show that charities 'closely connected with government offices' of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are funding mosques, schools and imams to disseminate a fundamentalist, intolerant version of Islam throughout Germany.

"In Kosovo, the New York Times' Carlotta Gall describes the process by which a 500-year-old tradition of moderate Islam is being destroyed. 'From their bases, the Saudi-trained imams propagated Wahhabism’s tenets: the supremacy of Shariah law as well as ideas of violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam. ... '
"Saudi Arabia’s government has begun to slow many of its most egregious practices. It is now being run, de facto, by a young, intelligent reformer,  Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who appears to be refreshingly pragmatic, in the style of Dubai’s visionary leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. But so far the Saudi reforms have mostly translated into better economic policy for the kingdom, not a break with its powerful religious establishment.  

"Trump's speech on Islam was nuanced and showed empathy for the Muslim victims of jihadist terrorism (who make up as much as 95 percent of the total, by one estimate.)   He seemed to zero in on the problem when he said, 'No discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists . . . safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.'  

"But Trump was talking not of his host, Saudi Arabia, but rather of Iran. Now, to be clear, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and supports some very bad actors. But it is wildly inaccurate to describe it as the source of jihadist terror. According to an analysis of the Global Terrorism Database by Leif Wenar of King’s College London, more than 94 percent of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001 were perpetrated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists. Iran is fighting those groups, not fueling them. Almost every terrorist attack in the West has had some connection to Saudi Arabia. Virtually none has been linked to Iran.
"Trump has adopted the Saudi line on terrorism, which deflects any blame from the kingdom and redirects it toward Iran. The Saudis showered Trump’s inexperienced negotiators with attention, arms deals and donations to a World Bank fund that Ivanka Trump is championing.  (Candidate Trump wrote in a Facebook post in 2016, 'Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!') In short, the Saudis played Trump. . . .
"The United States has now signed up for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy — a relentless series of battles against Shiites and their allies throughout the Middle East. That will enmesh Washington in a never-ending sectarian struggle, fuel regional instability and complicate its ties with countries such as Iraq that want good relations with both sides. But most important, it will do nothing to address the direct and ongoing threat to Americans — jihadist terrorism. I thought that Trump’s foreign policy was going to put America first, not Saudi Arabia."

I am not an expert on Islam and cannot independently say whether Zakaria's view is correct, or whether there may be experts who see a different balance.  We know that President Obama tried to maintain a negotiable position with both Sunni and Shiia, rather than taking sides.  But I have no reason not to believe Zakaria's interpretation.    We know that Trump is easily swayed by those who flatter him, who let him think he's getting the better of a bargain, who know how to "play" him.

Even Trump's own staff has reportedly begun to learn how to "manage" him a little bit, such as inserting his name wherever possible in briefings because he's more likely to read a paragraph that contains his name.   Kellyanne Conway did an interview with Rachel Maddow shortly after she took the job as Trump's campaign manager.   She told Rachel how she uses flattery and positive comments to get him to listen to advice from her.    Seems the Saudis used the same tactics.

But, folks, this is serious.   We're talking about the future of the world.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

A back channel to Russia -- for what?

The Trump team is busy trying to spin this latest bombshell revelation -- the one about Jared Kushner asking the Russian ambassador to let them use their diplomatic communications channel to communicate in secret with the Kremlin.  Nothing to worry about.  Just Jared being naive, you  know?  Move along folks, nothing to see here.

That won't sell.   Gen. Michael Flynn was also in the room -- the same Flynn that used to head the intelligence division of the Pentagon.  He knows how things work.   So this was not just an ordinary reaching out to heads of state as you establish communication in a new presidency.   They did nothing similar with any other country.  Nobody else has either -- not to evade our own security agencies, anyway.

Here's what's alarming:
1.  Despite Trump's pretending otherwise, Russia is considered by our government to be an adversary.

2.  There is unanimous agreement that the Russians were responsible for hacking into our political process and trying to influence the election to favor Trump.

3  This request from Kushner was made after we knew about the hacking.

4.  Kushner did not mention this meeting (nor other contacts with Russians) on his application for security clearance.

To do this, despite those facts, raises red flags and screaming sirens.  As former Navy counterintelligence and cryptology official Malcolm Nance asked:  "What did he intend to transmit?  Presidential daily briefings?   Nuclear codes?"   If anyone else had done this, his security clearance would be immediately revoked.

Nance further said that this whole story, these 18 suspicious, unreported contacts with Russians by Trump associates, "crosses the line to the espionage act of 1917."

Don't forget.   Kushner was asking (meaning:  Trump was demanding) to be able to talk with Putin without our intelligence agencies listening in.   He wanted to evade his own national security forces and talk to the president of an enemy nation -- one who is trying to destabilize, and to gain control over, Europe -- and of our own democracy as well.  One who has already hacked our election process -- to help Trump.

So whose side is President Trump on?

The quicker we get that question answered, and the quicker we get him and his crowd out of the Oval Office and change the locks and all the codes, the safer we'll be.