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Full Version: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!
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Here, for example, the Ambassador is leaving his office at the time, or just before, the Inauguration takes place in D.C. That is NOT usual, but not unheard of, and his position will remain empty until someone is appointed - with lower embassy staff retaining their positions unless the new Ambassador asks them to resign; however, this with the Guard [part of the Military] is VERY unusual - it is usually either many days before Inauguration or not - no one has ever heard of this 'at the moment of the change of leadership' - nor what it means.......:Confusedhock:: While we know of this one, I wonder what other 'instant changes' not usually changed with the actual Inauguration are quietly or secretly being planned with the different branches of the Military and Government agencies, and why....

Quote:Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) fears that Prague will wait long for a new U.S.ambassador, he told reporters after a five-hour meeting with President Milos Zeman and his advisers for foreign affairs in the Lany chateau on Saturday.
He said he considered the whole situation where U.S. President-elect Donald Trump dismissed all ambassadors unprecedented. This had never happened before, he added.
It might last long until the U.S. Congress approves the new ambassadors proposed by Trump, Zaoralek said.
Asked whether the new U.S. ambassador to Prague would assume the post by the end of the year, Zaoralek said he was not sure about that. "However, I do not want to be completely sceptical," he added.
The New York Times has reported, referring to diplomatic sources, that many U.S. ambassadors will have to leave their posts before Trump's inauguration on January 20.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: On Wednesday, on the second day of confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, he faced unprecedented criticismbut only one Republican on the committee remained to listen. If the others had stayed, they would have heard the voices we bring you today. [In] New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker's testimony, the first time a United States senator has opposed a fellow senator's nomination for a presidential Cabinet post, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions is unfit to become the next attorney general.
SEN. CORY BOOKER: If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won't. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won't. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won't. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won't.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Senator Cory Booker, who was joined by Louisiana Congressmember Cedric Richmond, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, who slammed the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the decision to have three black members of Congress testify at the end of a hearing was the equivalent of being sent to the, quote, "back of the bus." Behind him were other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND: I want to express my concerns about being made to testify at the very end of the witness panels. To have a senator, a House member and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus.
AMY GOODMAN: The civil rights legend Congressmember Richmond was referring to is 14-term Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who also testified Wednesday against Senator Jeff Sessions' confirmation for attorney general.
REP. JOHN LEWIS: Millions of Americans are encouraged by our country's efforts to create a more inclusive democracy during the last 50 years, of what some of us call the beloved community, a community at peace with itself. They are not a minority. A clear majority of Americans say they want this to be a fair, just and open nation. They are afraid that this country is headed in the wrong direction. They're concerned that some leaders reject decades of progress and want to return to the dark past, when the power of the law was used to deny the freedoms protected by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and its amendments. These are the voices I represent today.
We can pretend that the law is blind. We can pretend that it is evenhanded. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are called upon daily by the people we represent to help them deal with unfairness in how the law is written and enforced. Those who are committed to equal justice in our society wonder whether Senator Sessions' call for law and order will mean today what it meant in Alabama when I was coming up back then.
The rule of law was used to violate the human and civil rights for the poor, the dispossessed, people of color. I was born in rural Alabama, not very far from where Senator Sessions was raised. There was no way to escape or deny the chokehold of discrimination and racial hate that surrounded us. I saw the signs that said "white waiting," "colored waiting." I saw the signs that said "white men," "colored men," "white women," "colored women." I tasted the bitter fruits, the bitter fruits of segregation and racial discrimination.
Segregation was the law of the land that ordered our society in the Deep South. Any black person who did not cross the street when a white person was walking down the same sidewalk, who did not move to the back of the bus, who drank from a white water fountain, who looked a white person directly in the eyes, could be arrested and taken to jail.
The forces of law and order in Alabama were so strong that to take a stand against this injustice, we had to be willing to sacrifice our lives for our cause. Often, the only way we could demonstrate that a law on the books violated a higher law was by challenging that law by putting our bodies on the line and showing the world the unholy price we had to pay for dignity and respect. It took massive, well-organized, nonviolent dissent for the Voting Rights Act to become law. It required criticism of this great nation and its laws to move toward a greater sense of equality in America. We had to sit in. We had to stand in. We had to march.
And that's why more than 50 years ago a group of unarmed citizens, black and white, gathered on March 7, 1965, in orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion, to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to dramatize to the nation and to the world that we wanted to register to vote, wanted to become participants in the democratic process. We were beaten, tear-gassed, left bloody, some of us unconscious. Some of us had concussions. Some of us almost died on that bridge. But the Congress responded. President Lyndon Johnson responded. And the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, and it was signed into law on August 6, 1965.
We have come a distance. We've made progress. But we're not there yet. There are forces that want to take us back to another place. We don't want to go back. We want to go forward. As the late A. Philip Randolph, who was the dean of the March on Washington in 1963, often said, maybe our forefathers and our foremothers all came to this great land in different ships, but we're all in the same boat now.
It doesn't matter how Senator Sessions may smile, how friendly he may be, how he may speak to you. But we need someone who's going to stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help, for people who have been discriminated against. And it doesn't matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, whether you're straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews. We all live in the same house: the American house. We need someone as attorney general who's going to look out for all of us, and not just for some of us.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of defense, retired General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, testified Thursday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. General Mattis's 41-year-old career in the Marine Corps included field commands in the Persian Gulf War and in Iraq and Afghanistan and began when he enlisted at age 19. In Iraq, he led U.S. troops during the 2004 battle of Fallujah, earning himself the nickname "Mad Dog" Mattis. In May 2004, Mattis ordered an attack on a small Iraqi village that ended up killing about 42 people attending a wedding ceremony. Mattis went on to lead United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, but the Obama administration cut short his tour over concerns that Mattis was too hawkish on Iran, reportedly calling for a series of covert actions there. During Thursday's confirmation hearing, General Mattis testified that Russia remains the principal threat faced by the United States, taking a much harder line than Trump.
JAMES MATTIS: I would consider the principal threats to start with Russia, and it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around their periphery, regional nations nearby them, whether it be with weapons of mass destruction or, I would call it, unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them, that sort of thing. And at the same time, as the chairman has pointed out, we face now an era where we're going to be fighting the terrorist threat. I mean, that's simply a reality we are going to have to address that one.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: General Mattis repeatedly called for the U.S. military to be more "lethal," and also said he supports the Iran nuclear deal, which President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized.
Following his hearing, the Senate voted to support a waiver exempting Mattis from a law requiring defense secretaries to be civilians for at least seven years. Mattis retired from the military in 2013. The full House is slated to vote on the waiver today. The only other time in U.S. history that this waiver has been granted was in 1950, when Congress waived the law for Defense Secretary George Marshall.
AMY GOODMAN: Also on Thursday, Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo went before the Senate for his confirmation hearing as CIA director. Under questioning, Pompeo reversed his position on torture. He has previously claimed waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation tactics were constitutional. This is Congressman Pompeo being questioned by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: If you were ordered by the president to restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the Army Field Manual, would you comply?
REP. MIKE POMPEO: Senator, absolutely not. Moreover, I can't imagine that I would be asked that by the president-elect, or then-president. But it'sI'm very clear. I voted for the change that put the Army Field Manual in place as a member of Congress. I understand that law very, very quickly and am also deeply aware that any changes to that will come through Congress and the president.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: And regular order.
REP. MIKE POMPEO: And regular order, yes, ma'am, absolutely. With respect to the outlines of what's in the Army Field Manual, there's no doubt in my mind about the limitations it places not only on the DOD, but on the Central Intelligence Agency. And I'll always comply with the law.
AMY GOODMAN: During Thursday's hearing, Congressman Pompeo also said he believes the intelligence agencies' claims that Russia hacked the U.S. election.
Well, for more, we are going to go to a roundtable after break. We'll be joined by Aaron Glantz, as well as Andrewwe'll be joined by Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran, as well as Trita Parsi, with the National Iranian American Council. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: "Used to Rule the World" by Bonnie Raitt, here on Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We're hosting a roundtable discussion looking at President-elect Trump's pick for defense secretary, retired General James "Mad Dog" Mattis. Mattis testified before the Senate this week during his confirmation hearing on Thursday. Our guests are Aaron Glantz, senior reporter at _Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. His latest investigation is headlined "Did defense secretary nominee James Mattis commit war crimes in Iraq?" Also with us in D.C. is Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran. His forthcoming book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Legacy of Diplomacy. And in Boston, where we'll start, is professor Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book, America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.
Professor Bacevich, start off by talking about what you learned from the hearings and your thoughts on General Mattis to be the next defense secretary of the United States.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, what struck me most about the hearings was the lack of any interest in the recent past. I mean, the United States has been essentially engaged in an ongoing war that most people date from 2001. That war has taken us to Afghanistan, to Iraq, in a lesser way to other countriesLibya, Somalia, Yemen. And I was struck by the fact that none of the senators, basically, asked General Mattis, "Well, General, how is it that we haven't won? We haven't won anywhere, 'winning' in the sense of conclusively achieving our political objectives, however you might want to define those objectives. And given that we haven't won, what should we be doing differently? What would you do differently as defense secretary to compensate for this record in which the greatest military in the world, as we are constantly told, doesn't get the job done?"
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Bacevich, during his testimony, General Mattis repeatedly called for the U.S. military to be more lethal. Your response to this emphasis of his on the killing ability of the U.S. military?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I don't see lethality as the problem. I mean, the lethality of U.S. forces is quite remarkable. We can kill lots of people. We do kill lots of people. We can destroy virtually anything we choose to destroy. The destruction that we have wreaked in the various theaters in which we've been engaged is really quite astonishing. But again, lethality, destruction, killing doesn't seem to achieve our objectives. So, my own sense is that a lack of lethality does not define the core problem.
I think the core problem is much closer to recognizing where force is of value, where it is useful, and to distinguish that from situations in which war is not useful or is indeed counterproductive. And I think, broadly speaking, the U.S. military's roleU.S. military activism in various parts of the Islamic world over the past several decades has been counterproductive. And again, I find it disturbing that no member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is willing to acknowledge that record of failure and to ask our next secretary of defense what he proposes to do to amend that sorry record.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Aaron Glantz into the discussion to talk about the questions around Iraq and the piece that you wrote as a reporter at Reveal, asking, "Did defense secretary nominee James Mattis commit war crimes in Iraq?" We spoke to you yesterday briefly about this before the hearing, but lay out what your allegation is and whether you think any of these issues were addressed yesterday.
AARON GLANTZ: So, General Mattis's primary experienceindeed, his only experienceis as a member of the United States Marine Corps, where he served for 41 years. That's his experience. And since 9/11, as Dr. Bacevich noted, we've been engaged in wars around the world, and General Mattis has been a leading battlefield commander in many of those theaters, including in the April 2004 siege of Fallujah, where the U.S. Marines killed so many people that the municipal soccer stadium in the city had to be turned into a graveyard for the dead. There's documented cases of U.S. marines shooting at ambulances, shooting at aid workers, destroying shopping centers, raising huge issues not only of violations of the Geneva Convention over targeting protected groups, but also of proportionality, because the entire battle was launched to get the people who killed four Blackwater security contractors, and a city of 300,000 people, about the same size as Oakland, California, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was leveled in response, under the command of General Mattis. That was not discussed at all during the hearing, either from an accountability perspective, which is what I was suggesting in my articleyou know, questions that should be raised about whether or not he committed war crimesbut even, in a more limited way, what did you learn as a battlefield commander in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and how might you apply that, the lessons that you learned through those experiences, as secretary of defense, is simply not raised at all during the hearing.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Aaron, in that vein, General Mattis has also been criticized in the past with some of his quotes, for instance, in 2005, saying of the Taliban, "It's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." None of this came up in the hearings, as well, right?
AARON GLANTZ: Well, I mean, I think that that is a comment that doesn't trouble observers so much. It's the kind of thing that he said in front of a group of other marines, the kind of remark that you might hear, you know, in military circles frequently. What concerned me was that he played not only a critical role as a battlefield commander in Fallujah, but also, afterwards, when he was promoted to various other higher-ranking positions, he served as a convening authority in court-martial proceedings against various marines who had been accused of atrocitiesfor example, in the Haditha massacre, where a group of marines went on a killing spree after one in their unit was killed. And they killed, according to a Time magazine investigation, dozens of Iraqi civilians in their homes and also in a car and up on a ridge. And General Mattis dismissed the charges against many of the marines accused, personally intervening to clear their names before the justice system had run its course. And in the end, nobody connected to that massacre served a day in prison. In another case, a story
AMY GOODMAN: I want to goI want to go, Aaron, to 2008, to what you're talking about, when we spoke to McClatchy journalist Leila Fadel, who traveled to Haditha to interview survivors of the massacre. I want to turn to this short video posted on the McClatchy website based on her reporting.
LEILA FADEL: Yousef Aid Ahmed has memorized the places where his four brothers' bodies laid after they were killed by U.S. marines, he said. The family recounts that November day in 2005 and says it was a massacre of the brothers, along with 20 other people, following a roadside bomb in Haditha. Marines raided the house and shot the unarmed men in their heads in this back bedroom, the family said. Now they are angry that no one is being held accountable. Charges against six of the eight marines accused in the case were dismissed, and one marine was found not guilty on all charges.
WIDOW: [translated] I'm angry at those who sent them innocent. They were not supposed to sent innocent.
LEILA FADEL: The reminders of their deaths are everywhere: the white plaster that filled in the bullet holes in the wall, the dried blood that are now just faded gray spots under a new paint job on the ceiling, and the closet where one brother was shot inside and the other's corpse leaned up against the wardrobe.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Leila Fadel, McClatchy journalist who traveled to Haditha. This was way back in 2008. And talk about what came of this, Aaron.
AARON GLANTZ: As I was saying, in the end, only one person was convicted in connection to this massacre. Heit was just for dereliction of dutydid not spend a day in prison. So, ultimately, there was really no justice for the victims of this massacre. And that was in part because of the role that General Mattis played as the convening authority, basically the boss, of the entire military justice process around this massacre, often called the My Lai massacre of the Iraq War.
And it's not the only case where he intervened. He also intervened in the case in Hamdania, a massacrea killing, broken by The Washington Post, where a disabled Iraqi man was pulled out of his house and shot in the face by marines, who then tried to frame him as an insurgent by placing a machine gun and a shovel on him, on his dead body, to make it look like he was an insurgent. General Mattis, in that case, intervened and freed marines from prison, after they had already been convicted in connection with that killing. So, he has a record that really should have been examined during the hearing yesterday, that senators did not ask about.

ANDREW BACEVICH: To your question, Juan, I was chagrined at the extent to which quite a number of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, provided their few minutes to pose questions, basically posed questions that said to General Mattis, "Hey, can you promise me that if you become secretary of defense, that you are going to ensure that my state's investment in the military-industrial complex is going to be protected?" We heard that from Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut, who went out of his way to get Mattis on the record of saying that he supported the building of more submarines, which just happen to be produced in Connecticut. And Senator Warren, from my state, went through a long list of assets that are available here in Massachusetts, between labs and research facilities, wanted to make sure that Mattis was on the record of saying that he appreciated that, therefore the expectation that our own contribution to the military-industrial complex is going to be preserved.
AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Bacevich, can you talk about the issue of the waiver? The Senate just voted on this waiver. The significance of why we do have a rule in place in the United States that the defense secretary has to serve in civilian life for seven years and not be active-duty, active military? Retired Mattis has been therewhat? He left in 2013, so he needed this waiver?
ANDREW BACEVICH: You know, if somehow we had to have a general be secretary of defense, I'd probably say Mattis may be better than most of the alternatives. He certainly is a more of a reasonable figure, let's say, than Lieutenant General Flynn, who's about to become the national security adviser.
But that said, as a matter principle, I think it's a bad idea to have a former general running the Pentagon. Earlier on, Aaron talked aboutmade mention of the fact that Mattis's entire professional career, until his retirement, has been in the military. And I have to say that we need to appreciate the extent to which that kind of a professional background has a shaping and, indeed, I would say, a narrowing effect on a person's outlook. If we decided to have somebody who was a cardinal archbishop in the Catholic Church become secretary of defense, well, we would have some expectation that all those years spent in that very specific, all-encompassing environment would have a profound effect on the outlook of that individual. I think that's true with military people. And my problem is that given where we are, our position in the world, given the absence of success of our military activism, I don't think we need somebody who has that mindset. I think we need somebody as a defense secretary who can bring to the office greater creativity than General Mattis manifested yesterday when he was responding to the questions of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's a very conventional marine. That's not what we need right now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Aaron Glantz, I'd like to ask you about, youboth you and Andrew Bacevich have mentioned General Mattis's long career, more than 40 years, in the military. But Politico reported that his financial disclosure statement says that he's worth more than $10 million. Now, apparently, all of this wealth was garnered just in the few years after he retired, when he worked for, among other companies, the defense giant General Dynamics. Your response to this issue of his sudden wealth after he left the military?
AARON GLANTZ: Juan, it's not uncommon to have a senior military officer go into consulting after retirement, which is exactly what General Mattis did. It is interesting that this is among the many other issues that wasn't really discussed during the hearing, that could have been discussed instead of the pork-barrel projects that you were talking about. And, you know, he could have been asked about these apparent conflicts of interest that might have developed as a result of his consulting work, and how he might deal with them.
On the issue of civilian control of the military, another point to consider is that not only are we talking about General Mattis needing a waiver to this law that goes back to 1947, but also, in addition to General Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, we also have General Kelly, who is going to be most likely the secretary of homeland security. And then, of course, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will still be in the room, General Dunford. So, there is going to be four generals, if all, you know, are confirmed, in the room talking with Trump. And to the point of narrowing, you know, all of these different generals have their own perspective, but it does mean that there are perspectives that you might normally have in the room that will be missing because of the overwhelming presence of retired and current military in the administration at a high level.
AMY GOODMAN: Aaron Glantz, do you think that General Bacevichsorry, do you think that General Mattis should be brought up on war crimes charges?
AARON GLANTZ: I think it's something that we need to seriously explore here. As I said in my article, the case that I document regarding General Mattis's command in Fallujah resembles, in many ways, the case that the United States of America brought against General Yamashita of Japan following World War II. He was not accused of directly perpetrating war crimes during World War II, but he had command authority over Japanese troops that did commit very serious war crimes in Southeast Asia. And they involved very similar activities to the ones that the U.S. marines under General Mattis's command committed in Fallujah. And this is the doctrine of command responsibility. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld the execution of General Yamashita. Other military commanders in Yugoslavia and Rwanda have been convicted under similar doctrines. And I think that this is something that really should be discussed thoroughly before his confirmation is approved. And at this point, it doesn't look likely.
While the action is legal, it is very strange and an insult to Schwartz to not relieve him of duty after the Inauguration, if it is 'necessary' to relieve him at all. I think it is because Trumpf doesn't want a security detail headed by an African-American. He is just as racist as many of his followers. Race relations, never good in the USA generally, are headed back to before the Civil Rights Movement, sadly. 'Make American Hate Again' is the hidden slogan of Trumpf, IMO.

Quote:[Image: errol-r-schwartz.jpg]'I would never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle', General Schwartz said of the inauguration plan Frank Grass/Creative CommonsThe Army general who heads the DC National Guard and has an integral part in overseeing the inauguration said Friday that he will be removed from command effective at 12:01 pm on 20 January, just as Donald Trump is sworn in as president.
Maj-Gen Errol R Schwartz's departure will come in the middle of the presidential ceremony classified as a national special security event and while thousands of his troops are deployed to help protect the nation's capital during an inauguration he has spent months helping to plan.
"The timing is extremely unusual," Schwartz said in an interview Friday morning, confirming a memo announcing his ouster that was obtained byThe Washington Post. During the inauguration, Schwartz will command not only members of the DC Guard but also 5,000 unarmed troops dispatched from across the country to help. He also will oversee military air support protecting Washington during the inauguration.

"My troops will be on the street," said Schwartz, who turned 65 in October. "I'll see them off, but I won't be able to welcome them back to the armory." He said he would "never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle."
Unlike in the states, where the governor appoints the National Guard commander, in the District that duty falls to the president.
Military officials and Trump transition officials provided contradictory versions of the decision to replace General Schwartz. As is customary for presidential appointees, the general submitted a letter of resignation to give the new administration a clean start.
Two military officials with knowledge of the situation said the Trump team decided to accept the resignation. A person close to the transition said transition officials wanted to keep Schwartz in the job for continuity, but the Army pushed to replace him.
Schwartz, who was appointed to head the Guard by President George W Bush in 2008, maintained the position through President Obama's two terms. He said his orders came from the Pentagon in the form of an email that names his interim successor, a brigadier general, who takes over at 12:01pm. next Friday.

Army Major Jamie Davis, a spokesman at the Defence Department, said Schwartz is classified as a "non-career status employee." He noted that the interim commander "is ready to assume complete mission" and handle the inauguration.
One of the military officials said the Trump transition team receives lists of political appointees and can decide which resignations to accept. All resignations are effective at 12:01pm. on Inauguration Day.
DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson blasted the decision to remove Schwartz, particularly during the inauguration.
"It doesn't make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment," Mr Mendelson said. He added that Schwartz's sudden departure will be a long-term loss for the District. "He's been really very good at working with the community, and my impression was that he was good for the Guard."
Schwartz said he will work up until that moment, and then plans to retire from the Army. "I'm a soldier," he said. "I'm a presidential appointee. Therefore, the president has the power to remove me."
Like other deployments, Inauguration Day will be a complicated one for the DC National Guard at least on paper. Since the District is not a state, its mayor cannot call up Guard members to active duty as a state governor can.
The District must send a letter to the secretary of the Army requesting the support. The District and the Army must then go through a seven-step process to initiate the deployment, during which Guard members carry out duties at the request of the mayor and city homeland security officials.
The two entities have been able to work together to make that happen quickly in response to unfolding natural disasters, such as last year's record January snowfall. During that storm, which dumped 22 inches of snow, the Guard was activated in anticipation of the storm's arrival, and troops helped shuttle officials, plow drivers and supplies back and forth across the city.
Schwartz began his military career in 1976 by enlisting in the Guard, formally called the Militia of the District of Columbia National Guard. He also oversees the Air National Guard, which combined with the Army Guard has an authorised strength of 2,700. He has served in several leadership positions, notably commanding the 372nd Military Police Battalion.
He graduated in 1980 from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in electrical engineering and received a master's degree in business management from Central Michigan University and in national security strategy from the National Defence University at Fort McNair in the District.
Schwartz said that he is most proud of the Youth Challenge Academy, a school for teenage dropouts run by the Guard with an infusion of federal money. The school, separate from DC public and charter schools, is located at the former Oak Hill facility, the District's old juvenile jail. Schwartz said that about 60 per cent of the student body have obtained high school diplomas, and some have gone on to college.

An ever growing number of Congresspersons will boycott the Trumpf Inaugeration. The number now seems to be 42 members of the House, and growing. Many will instead be in demonstrations in D.C. or in their home districts against Trumpf.

At least 42 Democratic lawmakers are boycotting President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, no senators have yet said they are boycotting.

Some members have said they will be protesting in Washington and in their districts instead.
A partial list of Democrats who have publicly said they won't be at Friday's ceremony:
Texas Rep. Al Green

"I will not attend the inauguration because conscience says it is the right thing to do," Green said in a statement, referencing Martin Luther King, Jr. in his decision.
California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

"I thought long and hard about attending the Inauguration because I value our democracy and respect the office of the presidency, regardless of party. However, the disparaging remarks the President-elect has made about many groups, including women, Mexicans, and Muslims, are deeply contrary to my values. As a result, I will not be attending the Inauguration," Roybal-Allard said in a statement Sunday.
Georgia Rep. John Lewis

The civil rights icon declared last week that he would boycott the event because he doesn't see Trump as a "legitimate" president in light of Russian interference.
"You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong," Lewis told NBC News.
Trump harshly responded Saturday, calling Lewis "all talk" and "no action" and saying he should focus more on "fixing and helping" his district rather than "complaining" about the Russia's role.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison

"I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate. I won't be attending Donald Trump's inauguration," Ellison, who is running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted Monday.

Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen

"I would love to attend the inauguration. I'm a member of Congress through your votes. Thank you," Cohen told WMC Action News 5. "I value our government. I appreciate it greatly. This president semi-elect does not deserve to be President of the United States. He has not exhibited the characteristics and the values that we hold dear."
California Rep. Mark Takano

"'All talk, no action.' I stand with @repjohnlewis and I will not be attending the inauguration," Takano tweeted Saturday.
New York Rep. Yvette Clarke

"I will NOT attend the inauguration of @realDonaldTrump. When you insult @repjohnlewis, you insult America."

California Rep. Ted Lieu

"For me, the personal decision not to attend Inauguration is quite simple: Do I stand with Donald Trump, or do I stand with John Lewis? I am standing with John Lewis," Lieu said in a statement released by his office.
New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler

He announced his decision on CNN's "New Day" and then issued a statement: "The rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump have been so far beyond the pale -- so disturbing and disheartening -- and his continued failure to address his conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings, or to sufficiently separate himself from the ethical misconduct that legal experts on both side of the aisle have identified have been so offensive I cannot in good conscience participate in this honored and revered democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power."
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva

"I will not be attending the inauguration of Donald Trump as our next president," the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair said Friday on the House floor. "My absence is not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy, but as an individual act, yes, of defiance at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration, and the actions we are taking in this Congress."
Michigan Rep. John Conyers

The office of Conyers, the dean of the United House of Representatives, confirmed to CNN he won't be attending the inauguration.
California Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

"It is with a heavy heart and deep personal conviction that I have decided not to attend the #TrumpInauguration on January 20, 2017," the California lawmaker tweeted Friday.

New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez

Velazquez tweeted Friday that she will be participating in a women's march protesting policies that activists say are harmful to American women.
"I will not be attending inauguration of @realDonaldTrump but WILL participate in the @womensmarch on January 21st," she tweeted.

Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader

"I'm just not a big Trump fan. I've met the guy and never been impressed with him," he told Oregon Public Broadcasting Friday. "I'll do my best to work with him when I think he's doing the right thing for the country. But he hasn't proved himself to me at all yet, so I respectfully decline to freeze my ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony."
Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay

The lawmaker's spokesperson told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Clay will be in his home state speaking to schoolchildren.
California Rep. Barbara Lee

Lee said she'll spend the day "preparing for resistance."
"Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance," she said Thursday in a statement.
New York Rep. Jose Serrano

"I will not attend the #inauguration2017 next week- cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents. #Bronx," he tweeted Thursday.
California Rep. Judy Chu

"After much thought, I have decided to #StandWithJohnLewis and not attend the inauguration," Chu tweeted this weekend..
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez

"I cannot go to (the) inauguration of a man who's going to appoint people to the Supreme Court and turn back the clock on women and turn back the clock on immigrants and the safety and freedom that we fought for them," Gutierrez said last month on CNN's "New Day."
California Rep. Jared Huffman

"I have decided that instead of attending the inaugural ceremonies in Washington this month, I'll spend time in California with my constituents making a positive difference in our community," he wrote on Facebook Tuesday. "From helping to build homes for local families to pitching in on cleaning up flood debris to welcoming new US citizens at a naturalization ceremony --- it will be an action-packed couple of days. Stay tuned here for more details."
Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark

"I support the peaceful transition of power, but I don't feel that I need to attend the pageantry associated with and for this president," she told the Boston Globe earlier this month.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer

"There is unprecedented concern by my constituents about the many threats posed by a Trump administration seeking to implement the President-elect's policies on health, environment, nuclear weapons and immigration, to name but a few," he said on Facebook.
New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat

"Many have given their lives and dedicated their lives to working to fulfill Dr. King's dream and make it a reality, and it is up to us to preserve his legacy and the legacy of President Barack Obama to ensure that we do not go back in time! President-elect Donald Trump is trying to take us back! And the people Trump is appointing-- Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions -- are trying to take us back!
"That's why I am not attending the presidential inauguration. Donald Trump and the hate-filled rhetoric that plagued his election simply will continue in his administration. THIS is not Dr. King's Dream!" Espaillat issued the statement on his Facebook page.
Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal

.@realDonaldTrump: @repjohnlewis stands for best of everything in America. If anyone knows about action not words, it's him. #ImWithJohn
Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan

"After reading classified Russian hacking doc & @realDonaldTrump offensive tweets to @repjohnlewis I will not be attending the Inauguration."
Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge

"As I told @JoyAnnReid, I will not be attending #Inauguration. I will be at home in Cleveland. #IStandWithJohnLewis."
California Rep. Maxine Waters

"I never ever contemplated attending the inauguration or any activities associated w/ @realDonaldTrump. I wouldn't waste my time."
New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

"I do not intend to attend the inauguration of PE @realDonaldTrump. Instead, join me for an Interfaith Prayer Vigil."
Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown

"Skipping Inauguration.@RepJohnLewis a civil rights hero. Enormous responsibility to be POTUS.I respect the office, can't tolerate disrespect," he tweeted Monday.
Virginia Rep. Don Beyer

"I wanted to let you know that I am not attending this Friday's inaugural ceremonies ... I will not be part of normalizing or legitimizing a man whose election may well have depended on the malicious foreign interference of Russia's leaders, a person who lies profusely and without apology, who mimics the disabilities of others, who insults anyone who dares disagree with him, who would demonize an entire spiritual tradition, and who has demonstrated again and again a profound disrespect for women," he tweeted.
Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree

"At MLK Day dinner in Portland, I announced that I would not attend Trump's inauguration," she tweeted.
Kentucky Rep. John Yarmouth

"It's not my intent to protest the election results or to make a statement about policy. I will not be attending the inauguration because I believe the office of the President deserves our respect, and that respect must begin with the President-elect himself," the congressman said in a statement.
Women's March on Washington

Saturday Jan 21 at 10AM to 5PM EST

Others in Washington DC

New York

New Jersey







[Image: 2016-11-14T001555Z_01_NYC606_RTRIDSP_3_U...OTESTS.jpg]










[Image: AntiTrumpdemonstrationParisZjpD6MObirll.jpg]

I think, personally, we are entering a very dark and dangerous period. The anti-intellectualism and aggressive gutter language/behaviour of Trumpf is the end result of the dumbing down and triumph of anti-intellectualism of the USA. His policy promises [minus a precious few I even wonder if he will keep] are dangerous, toxic, harmful to average people and especially to the poor and disenfranchised. I know some here disagree with me on the basis that the enemy our enemy is our friend logic - but I don't buy it. I didn't like the other 'choice' either, but this is beyond the pale even before it starts. But start it does, and I plan to be in active opposition to him and the ENTIRE governing structures [visible and hidden] until they are both destroyed and replaced by a bottom-up democratic and socialist, environmentally-friendly, humane system based on equality, sharing, peace, justice, anti-military and war, education not propaganda, end to spying on everyone and social/financial/coercive controls. A lot of work to do - and NOT just in the USA!

Trump's Treasury Pick Excelled at Kicking Elderly People Out of Their Homes

Posted on Jan 17, 2017
By Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger / ProPublica
[Image: AP16335500065036.jpg]
Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary. (Evan Vucci / AP)

In 2015, OneWest Bank moved to foreclose on John Yang, an 80-year-old Korean immigrant living in Orange Park, Florida, a small suburb of Jacksonville. The bank believed he wasn't living in his home, violating the terms of its loan. It dispatched an agent to give him legal notification of the foreclosure.
Where did the bank find him? At the same single-story home the bank had said in court papers he did not occupy.
Still OneWest pressed on, forcing Yang, a former Christian missionary, to seek help from legal aid attorneys. This year, during a deposition, an employee of OneWest's servicing division was asked the obvious question: Why would the bank pursue a foreclosure that seemed so clearly unjustified by the facts?
The employee's response was blunt: "You're trying to make logic out of an illogical situation."
Yang was lucky. The bank eventually dropped its efforts against him. But others were not so fortunate. In recent years, OneWest has foreclosed on at least 50,000 people, often in circumstances that consumer advocates say run counter to federal rules and, as in Yang's case, common sense.
President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary has prompted new scrutiny of OneWest's foreclosure practices. Mnuchin was the lead investor and chairman of the company during the years it ramped up its foreclosure efforts. Representatives from the company and the Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.
Records show the attempt to push Mr. Yang out of his home was not an unusual one for OneWest's Financial Freedom unit, which focused on controversial home loans known as reverse mortgages. Regulators and consumer advocates have long worried that these loans, popular during the height of the housing bubble, exploit elderly homeowners.
The loans allow people to benefit from the equity they have built up over many years without selling their houses. The money is paid in a variety of ways, from lump sums to a stream of monthly checks. Borrowers are allowed to stay in their homes for as long as they live.
The loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, meaning the agency pays lenders like Freedom Financial the difference between the ultimate sale price of the home and the size of the reverse mortgage.
But the fees are often high and the interest charges mount up quickly because the homeowner isn't paying down any of the principal on the loan. Homeowners remain on the hook for property taxes and insurance and can lose their homes if they miss those payments.
A 2012 report to Congress by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said that "vigorous enforcement is necessary to ensure that older homeowners are not defrauded of a lifetime of home equity."
ProPublica found numerous examples where Financial Freedom had foreclosed for legally questionable reasons. The company served several other homeowners at their homes to let them know they were being sued for not occupying their homes. In Florida, a shortfall of only $0.27 led to a foreclosure attempt. In Atlanta, the company sought to foreclose on a widow after her husband's death, but backed down when a legal aid attorney sued, citing federal law that allowed the surviving spouse to remain in the home.
"It appears their business approach is scorched earth, in a way that doesn't serve communities, homeowners or the taxpayer," said Alys Cohen, a staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center in Washington D.C.
Since the financial crisis, OneWest, through Financial Freedom, has conducted a disproportionate number of the nation's reverse mortgage foreclosures. It was responsible for 16,200 foreclosures on government-backed reverse mortgages, or 39 percent of all foreclosures nationwide, from 2009 through late 2014, even though it only serviced about 17 percent of the loans, according to government data analyzed by the California Reinvestment Coalition, an advocacy group for low-income consumers. While some foreclosures were justified, legal aid attorneys say Financial Freedom has refused to work with borrowers in foreclosure to establish payment plans, in contrast with other servicers of reverse mortgages.
Experts say the companies are not entirely to blame for the wave of foreclosures. HUD oversees standards on most reverse mortgages. In the years after the housing crash, HUD's rules evolved, creating a miasma of confusion for mortgage servicers. Companies say the new federal rules required them to foreclose when borrowers fell far behind on property and insurance costs, rather than work out payment plans.
OneWest's rough treatment of homeowners extended to its behavior toward borrowers with standard mortgages in the aftermath of the housing crash. In 2009, the Obama administrationlaunched a program to encourage mortgage servicers to work out affordable mortgage modifications with borrowers. OneWest, weighed down by several hundred thousand souring mortgages, signed up.
It didn't go well. About three-quarters of homeowners who sought a modification from OneWest through the program were denied, according to the latest figures from the Treasury Department. OneWest was among the worst performing large servicers in the program by that measure. In 2011, activists protested OneWest's indifference at Mnuchin's Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles.
"We're in a difficult economic environment and very sympathetic to the problems many homeowners face, but under the government's program there's not a solution in every case," Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal in that year.
Despite the controversy, Mnuchin and the other investors in OneWest made a killing on their purchase. In 2009, Mnuchin's investment group bought the failed mortgage bank IndyMac, which had been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after the financial crisis, changing the name to OneWest. They paid about $1.5 billion, with the FDIC sharing the ongoing mortgage losses. George Soros, a Clinton backer at whose hedge fund Mnuchin had worked, and John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who also supported Trump, invested alongside Mnuchin in IndyMac.
In 2015, CIT, a lender to small and medium-sized businesses, bought OneWest for $3.4 billion, more than doubling the Mnuchin group's initial investment. Mnuchin personally made about $380 million on the sale, according to Bloomberg estimates. He retains around a 1 percent stake in CIT, worth around $100 million, which he may have to divest if confirmed.
CIT has found the reverse mortgage business to be a headache. Recently, CIT took a $230 million pretax charge after it discovered that OneWest had mistakenly charged the government for payments that the company should have shouldered itself. An investigation of Financial Freedom's practices by HUD's inspector general is ongoing.
Yang's lawyers at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid fought his foreclosure for a year. Though Yang had run a dry cleaning business in Florida and roamed the world as a missionary, working in North Korea, China, and Afghanistan, the bank's torrent of paperwork had overwhelmed him. Yang didn't speak English well. OneWest claimed it had sent him forms to verify he was living at his home, but that he never sent them back.
Under HUD rules, OneWest was required to verify that each borrower continued to use the property as a principal residence. It is a condition of all the HUD-backed loans in order to help ensure the government subsidy goes to those who need it.
But Yang can be forgiven for thinking that OneWest could not have doubted that he was still in his home. During the same period that OneWest was moving to foreclose on Yang for not living in his home, another arm of the bank regularly spoke and corresponded with him at his home about a delinquent insurance payment, according to court documents.
A Financial Freedom employee testified in the case that the department that handled delinquent insurance payments and the department that handled occupancy did not communicate with each other in those circumstances.

As a new study by Oxfam finds the world's eight richest men [many of them from USA] control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity, the group says it is concerned that wealth inequality will continue to grow following the election of Donald Trump, whose Cabinet members have a combined wealth of nearly $11 billion. We look at the rise of Trump, and those joining his administration, with award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi. His new book comes out today, titled "Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus."

Quote:We're joined by award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi, who's been chronicling the rise of Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign. In his new book, just out today, he writes, "It's an Alice in Wonderland story, in which a billionaire hedonist jumps down the rabbit hole of American politics and discovers a surreal world where each successive barrier to power collapses before him like magic." Yes, Matt Taibbi's book is titled Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus. As this week, Friday, the inauguration of the 45th president, Donald Trump, is set, your thoughts, Matt Taibbi?
MATT TAIBBI: I mean, it's unbelievable. I think this is an unprecedented crisis heading into an inauguration week. I think we never could have imagined that somethis last twist, at the end of what was already the craziest election season in history, with this Russia controversy and this sort of unparalleled intelligence crisis, in a way it's actually kind of the perfect anti-ending to this, you know, incredible tragicomedy of the last couple years.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Matt, on the title, as we hear in the news that the real circus, Ringling Brothers Circus, is about to
MATT TAIBBI: Shutting down.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: close down after 146 years
MATT TAIBBI: Perfect, right?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: how did you get the title, decide on the title for the book?
MATT TAIBBI: Oh, I was going for something subtle, actually. No, I mean, honestly, it's funny. If the president-elect and his followers have complaints about the title, they should really blame Trump himself, because I actually learned a lot about marketing watching Donald Trump over the last couple years. There's no reason to be subtle at all in the current environment. So, I thought thisthat, you know, the title kind of reflected how what happened in the last couple years was a mix of kind of the extremely horrible and the extremely ridiculous. And it had that clown car theme, as well, I wanted to kind of reference.
AMY GOODMAN: So, more than 40 years ago, your magazine, Rolling Stone, chronicled Nixon's campaign in 1972. There are parallels, because you now have an inauguration where, well, just at this point, 42 congressmembers, Democratic congressmembers, like one in five, will not be attending. And that number may certainly go up. The only thing we sawonly time we saw anything like this was Nixon, 19721973, inauguration, in the midst of the war. It's also a time when The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump's popularity ratingmore than 50 percent of the people are not happy with what he's doingis at a 40-year low.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about what you have found in this year, and particularly now in this rush of Cabinet members' confirmation hearings, who these Cabinet members are, representing the wealthiest Cabinet in U.S. historywhat, $11 billion, their combined wealth?
MATT TAIBBI: Sure, yeah. Just to go back to the beginning, I mean, yeah, obviously, you know, I cover the campaign for Rolling Stone magazine. It's sort of one of the iconic jobs on Earth. It's kind of like being the Dread Pirate Roberts. And this is a tradition that kind of goes back all the way to, you know, Hunter Thompson and when he covered Richard Nixon, and then eventually compiled it into a book called Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. And that was sort of the gold standard, I think, and always will be, for campaign writing. And I think what made that series of articles and that book art, as opposed to just kind of snappy magazine writing, was that Thompson was personally obsessed with how horrible and disgusting Nixon was, in a way that no other politician really touched him. For the rest of his life, no matter who he wrote about, whether it was Carter or, you know, even George Bush, it just wasn't the same thing. He almost had like the opposite of a love relationship with Nixon. And that kind of obsession is something you really can't force. You either have it or you don't have it.
I would never compare myself to Hunter Thompson. I think that's an unflattering comparison for any writer, but I think I do a little bit understand what he was going through with Nixon. I kind of feel a little bit the same way about Trump. He's ayou know, it was kind of hate at first sight, actually, when I first saw him on the campaign trail. He's a fascinating, repellent, awful, epically horrible character. And in a way, it makes for this incredibly engrossing story to follow him. So, you know, I think that, to me, is what really stood out about this last year, is Trump himself, he is just such a unique figure in our time. He's kind of the perfect foil to reflect everything that's excessive and vulgar and disgusting and tasteless and cheap and greedy about American culture. He is the perfect mirror to reflect everything about our society.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And yet, the reality is that he did get such a huge number of votes. And one of the things that you've talked about is not only him, but the crowds that he gathered and their relationship to you and to reporters, as well.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you talk about that? Because that didn't get much coverage by the press of how they, themselves, were treated at these Trump rallies.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, and I think that was kind of a big oversight by a lot of the media. Trumplook, how do politicians get elected? There's a very simple formula that people on both sides have followed for ages. They tell people that, you know, things are bad, and we're going to give you somebody to blame. You know, on the right, they've traditionally pointed the fingers at minorities and foreigners. And on the left, we point at corporations, you know, the pharma companies, insurance companies, etc., etc.
Trump did all of those things. He appropriated all of those bogeymen, both the liberal and the conservative bogeymen, but he also made the campaign process itself a villain. He said, "These people, these reporters, these donors, these two entrenched political parties, they are against you." And unfortunately for us reporters, we were the only people from that particular group who were actually in the room during these events. So what he would do is he would say, "Look at these people. Look at these bloodsuckers. You know, they've never come so far for an event. And they didn't want to come. They all said I was going to lose," etc., etc. And the crowds would physically turn toward us and start, you know, sort of hissing and booing. And he made us part of this kind of WWE act. And it wasin a way, it was brilliant theater. And I think that the people on the campaign plane didn't understand the significance of what he was doing. He was villainizing the process. And it was really effective.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But in terms of your ability even to interview some of the Trump supporters, you had a lot of difficulty, right?
MATT TAIBBI: Sure, sure. And this is something, to be fair, that had been happening gradually for a while now. I mean, I think the reporters have been increasingly unpopular with people in, quote-unquote, "flyover America." It's always been hard for, you know, sort of coastal media types to interview people in red state America. But this time around, I had a success rate of about one in five in getting people to actually talk to me. You know, when they heard where I worked, it sometimes got even worse than that. So, there was a lot of abuse, a lot of anger. You know, but some of it, to be fair, was justified. I think a lot of these people felt betrayed by the media, not just the liberal media, all media. Even the people from the conservative publications and TV stations had difficulty connecting with Trump's voters.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, that anger represented at Bernie Sanders' rally yesterday outside of Detroit. You had 10,000 people demanding that the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, not be repealed, and a number of them actually were Trump supporters, now getting extremely scared.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, and there are obviouslythere's some crossover between the anger on the Trump side and the anger that fueled the Sanders campaign. I think that was something that everybody who was following the campaign recognized from very early on. But we just were slow to recognize that some of that anger was directed toward us.
AMY GOODMAN: During a presidential debate in October, Hillary Clinton was asked about the content of a trove of emails released by WikiLeaks that were allegedly hacked from the account of her campaign chair, John Podesta. Those emails included excerpts from her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms. During the debate, Donald Trump weighed in on the leaked Clinton speeches.
DONALD TRUMP: She got caught in a total lie. Her papers went out to all her friends at the banks, Goldman Sachs and everybody else. And she said thingsWikiLeaksthat just came out. And she lied.
AMY GOODMAN: So, there you have Donald Trump. Talk about the significance of this.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, Trump made Goldman Sachs a villain very early in the campaign. He was extremely explicit about it throughout the entire campaign season, dating back to January and February, when he used it as a club to beat on Ted Cruz, because both his wifeCruz's wife and Cruz himself had a financial relationship to Goldman Sachs. He said, "Cruz is totally controlled by Goldman Sachs. Hillary is totally controlled by Goldman Sachs. You know, I know those people from Goldman Sachs. I'm not going to be a puppet of Goldman." He actually ran a campaign ad, a 30-second campaign ad, very close to the election, that specifically mentioned Goldman and Wall Street banks.
And then he turns around right after the election, and he brings five people from Goldman Sachs, or four ex-Goldmanites and a Goldman lawyer, into the White House. So this is, you know, your immediate, obvious contradiction in his campaign rhetoric. You know, he talked about draining the swamp, and the first thing he did is he filled it with people who were from that very company.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, keep talking about that. You've got Steve Mnuchin
AMY GOODMAN: who, now we know, his wealth may be well over $400 million, treasury secretary.
MATT TAIBBI: Right, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Steve Bannon, who comes from Breitbart, the white nationalist, white supremacist website, news website, also was a Goldman banker. Some people are starting to talk aboutwhat is it?Government Sachs, not Goldman Sachs.
MATT TAIBBI: Right. And let's be fair. Goldman has always had a major presence in government all over the world, not just in America. They've been presidents of the World Bank. They've been presidents of, you know, the EC Bank and Bank of Canada. You know, they head a lot of the Federal Reserve branches, etc., etc. But now it's not justit's not just Mnuchin. It's not just Bannon. There's also Gary Cohn, who was the number two at Goldman Sachs behind Lloyd Blankfein. In fact, they were sort of co-heads of Goldman Sachs for all the relevant crisis years. Cohn is now the chief economic adviser to Donald Trump; he's the head of the NEC. There's Jay Clayton, who was Goldman's lawyer. He worked for Sullivan & Cromwell, but he represented Goldman. Anthony Scaramucci, who's another ex-Goldmanite, who is now a principal Trump adviser. So there's at leastat least five high-ranking people already in the White House who have a relationship with Goldman Sachs. And again, this is a company that he specifically denounced during the campaign.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about Russia. Over the weekend, we've had the controversy with John Lewis saying that he believes that Trump is not a legitimate president, in part because of the Russian meddling in the election. Your take on that? But also, you've raised the issue that Americans are forgetting about the United States' role in meddling in internal Russian politics in the past.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, I think people, they might want to look back at July 1996, at the cover of Time magazine, actually. There was a cover that said "Yanks to the Rescue." And it was all about how we sent American advisers over to save Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign. We openly talked about how we participated in helping Boris Yeltsin get past his communist challenger, not only in 1996, but in 1993 during the referendum. I was there throughout that period, so I know we had an enormous influence on Russian politics, not just during the election campaigns, but also in terms of advising the Yeltsin government on how to do things like privatize the economy. So, there were a lot of people out there in Russia, all over the country, who, when they think about things like how I don't have health insurance anymore, or I don't have free education, they point the finger at us for that, because some of that was due to policies that we recommended. So, it's a subtext that probably a lot of Americans don'taren't conscious of, because it wasn't heavily publicized here, but it's certainly something to think about.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your reaction to the allegations of Russian meddling here?
MATT TAIBBI: Sure. Well, I mean, I've talked to people who have a pretty high degree of confidence that Russia did hack the DNC, and then they do think it's probable that they also passed it to WikiLeaks. But beyond that, I think, is where we start getting into this grey area, where it's very, very dangerous for reporters to start making statements and insinuations about what may or may not have happened, because Russia hacking and trying to influence the election, and Donald Trump being in on it, there's an order of magnitude of difference between those two things. And I think they're being conflated a little bit in the media, and we have to be careful about saying that before we know what the facts are. I mean, it could very well turn out to be true, but I think we need a full investigation to know why people are saying that they believe that.
AMY GOODMAN: You recently ripped The Washington Post for what you considered one of the worst investigative jobs ever. Explain.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah. You know, they ran this story about how a group called PropOrNot hadwhich is a sort of a private cyberteam, I guess. They claimed to have identified 200 independent new sources who they called, you know, "useful idiots" in support of the Russian state. And coincidentally, or maybe not coincidentally, almost all of those sites were pretty well-known alternative media organizations. You know, it was a very sloppy piece of reporting that the Post did. And their excuse was they didn't openly recommend these allegations and didn't endorse them, but they linked to them, and anybody could look at them. And, of course, that's howthat's an end run around, you know, the usual factual standards that we have in the media. And I think that's the kind of thing that I'm worried about with a lot of this Russia talk, is that we have excesses when people believe things that maybe aren't true.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Donald Trump speaking at a news conference, saying it was probably Russia that broke into the DNC's servers and also hacked John Podesta's emails.
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. And I can say that, you know, whenwhen we lost 22 million names and everything else that was hacked recently, they didn't make a big deal out of that. That was something that was extraordinary. That was probably China. We hadwe have much hacking going on.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Trump later insisted he had no loans or business dealings with Russia. Of course, the real question is the amount of Russian money in his development projects even here in the United States
AMY GOODMAN: from Trump SoHo downtown, when bankswhat, he owes something like a billion-and-a-half dollars to 150 financial institutions, as it's been reported. And when he couldn't get lines of credit, Russian oligarchs were a good place to turn. But this issue, thisin the last few days, he's announced perhaps, you know, NATO should not be around. He has said thattalked about lifting the sanctions against Russia. Talk about all of this.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, I mean, I think we have to get to the bottom of it. And clearly
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he'll be leading an investigation?
MATT TAIBBI: No, I wouldn't imagine that. I wouldn't hold my breath for that to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Rex Tillerson, the CEO of
MATT TAIBBI: No, I don'tI don't think so.
AMY GOODMAN: Exxon, whose company has a huge amount to gain
AMY GOODMAN: if the sanctions against Russia are lifted?
MATT TAIBBI: Of course. I mean, look, it's an oil company. And the subterranean dealings between ExxonMobil and whatever, you know, the Russian oligarchy, I'm sure that's a tangled web that we need to get to the bottom of. But I think, somehow, someway, there has to be some kind of independent investigation. Whether, you know, some people in the Senate can be prevailed uponyou know, we do have this joint intelligence committee in the Senate that is allegedly going to have subpoena power and is allegedly going to be able to interview people about what went on. But, you know, it's an urgent question.
Clearlyone of the things that's been clear in the last couple of weeks is that our intelligence services either believe that Trump has some kind of a relationship and that there was some kind of quid pro quo in the last year. They either believe that that's true, or they're putting that out there for some reason. And we have to get to the bottom of it, one way or the other. If it's a disinformation campaign, we have to know that. And if it's true, we need to know that, because there's really nothing more serious than a compromised person becoming president of the United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Matt, I wanted to ask youyour book basically is a chronicle of your time on the campaign trail, but you were surprised, as well, by the victory of Donald Trump, weren't you? Talk about that and thehow so many people got it wrong.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, it's kind of the big flaw in the book, is in the second half, because I actually saw from the beginningI had been waiting for something like Trump to happen for a long, long time. I mean, there's actually an excerpt from a book I wrote 10 years ago, in this book, about how, you know, people were tuning out the mainstream media, and they were turning to more conspiratorial directions, and there was going to come a time when they were going to shut us out completely. And I kind of saw that coming. And I did see, early on in the campaign, that TrumpI never thought anybody else was going to be the nominee.
But I was fooled, I think, in the second half of the campaign, like a lot of people were, by the poll numbers and also bythere was a little bit of a change in his strategy, where he seemed to be moving away from themes that had been successful for him during the primary season, and he was trying this crazy new thing, talking about how he was going to rescuebe the rescuer of the African-American community and all that. I thought that was a terrible, disastrous move and that it was going to lose him the election. It turned out it won him the election, because it rehabilitated him with, quote-unquote, "mainstream Republicans," who didn't want to think of themselves as racists. So, it turned out to be this brilliant move that helped him build a coalition, which he himself, you know, wouldn't have been capable of alone. He needed Steve Bannon's help to do that.
And I just never saw that result coming, and I think a lot of reporters didn't, becauseand this is the main problem with campaign reporting. We justwe aren't out there enough talking to people. We tend to spend all of our time with other reporters and other politicians and other pollsters. We don'twe're not out there physically taking the temperature of voters enough, and that's why things like the Trump phenomenon can happen and take us by surprise.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matt Taibbi, final thoughts, as you reflected back on all your work of this past year? We are in this inauguration week.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, I mean, this is the most extraordinary political story, I think, in our history. I don't think anything has everon this scale, has ever happened before. Trumpwhat people need to remember about Trump isthey're overwhelmed by the horror of it right now, but they have to remember also that this was an extraordinary story about how democracy, in a weird way, does work. He penetrated all of these different layers, these barriers to power that had been thrown up to ordinary people. And he was a true outsider, who somehow made it past all those barriers, through all these loopholes that we had left open. And I think that's an amazing story that we need to focus on. How did that happen?
George Bush Sr. is in hospital and will not be able to attend the Inauguration. It is unknown if he is really ill or just doesn't want to be there.

Speaking of being there....while MOST of the MANY [hundreds of thousands projected] protesters against Trumpf are there for a peaceful, non-violent, non-confrontational protest, some others are there to try to disrupt the events. They must be heavily infiltrated by the FBI and police and I doubt they will be able to get very close, let alone disrupt the official functions...but who knows. Here is a VERY partial list of some of both the anti-confrontation groups and confrontational groups. Many others are coming!

ANSWER Coalition

[Image: eb2lphoevvmp2cfn1hnsmlilymmuruvleggfiwgm...m4ucjo.jpg]Demonstrators from Answer Coalition protest outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in September.Source: Jim Watson/Getty ImagesThe Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coaltion will hold an #InaugurateTheResistance demonstration on Friday morning at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Occupy Inauguration

[Image: pfztsqyoouvevf87wpegtkggb9o2ejqfask2mmcs...fp72td.jpg]In 2011, Occupy Wall Street protesters "clean up Wall Street" outside the Trump building.Source: Don Emmert/Getty ImagesOccupy Inauguration had planned to protest whether Trump or Clinton won, in order to "fight to advance the political revolution" of the 99%.

Women's March on Washington

[Image: 1jyh6ic7hdild4r6rejxhd036ehpyjbztn93ccep...p24ueb.jpg]A woman protests Donald Trump's victory with a sign that reads "This pussy grabs back."Source: Charlie Riedel/APIn response to Donald Trump's misogyny, people from across the country will march in Washington the day after the inauguration to send the message "that women's rights are human rights." The rally will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday near the Capitol building, and the march will begin at 1:15 p.m. Nearly 400 "sister marches" will be held in cities around the world. The Women's March on Washington is expected to be the largest of the inauguration protests.


[Image: pmaphwrph3zfydivrwbg4fpadwmpxp4us9zy0pnv...7tr2op.jpg]Advocates for the legalization of marijuana light up in front of the White House during a demonstration in April 2016. Source: Mike Theiler/Getty ImagesLegal weed advocates led by the DCMJ will hold a #Trump420 demonstration. They'll hand out 4,200 free joints, and plan to light up four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump's inaugural address.


[Image: iw8ivmvtr3bdgajsql11clp8c3aozihqfrihjds6...scseng.jpg]Demonstrators holds signs as they protest during a march in downtown Washington in opposition of President-elect Donald Trump Jan. 15. Source: Jose Luis Magana/APStarting at 9 a.m. on Friday in McPherson Square, #DisruptJ20 organized by the DC Welcoming Committee will work to "shut down the inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations the inaugural parade, the inaugural balls, you name it" and "paralyze the city itself."
"We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents," according to the group's call to action. "It's time to defend ourselves, our loved ones and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it because they do."