Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He Burns Down The Village


April 19, 2018

Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He Burns Down The Village

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com
It would take more than just a monkey with a match to burn down a village, despite the dwellings being made of wood and having flammable thatched roofs. Those homes have withstood generations of indoor wood-burning stoves and nightly mosquito-repelling ambers underneath their floors. There would have to be more, as with a long spell of dry hot weather and mountains of ignitable garbage strewn around.
      Yet when the kampung does get burned down, everyone would be shocked. The immediate reaction would be to blame the idiot with the match, and the fury heaped upon that poor soul would then be merciless.
      Consumed with vengeance and with little inclination or intelligence for reflection, the necessary probing questions would never get raised. As with who gave the idiot the match or why was he not supervised. Few would notice much less ponder why the strewn garbage was allowed to accumulate and thus pose a fire as well as health and other hazards.
      The kampung that is Malaysia has not burnt down, at least not yet. Malaysians are still smug and remain blissfully unaware of the long dry spell and the tinder dried debris that has been stacking up. Nor do they realize the danger posed by the idiot running around with a match in his hand and threatening more mischief. God knows he has wrecked enough damage already.
Being in the tropics, Malaysians are used to hot weather but the current hot political climate is very recent. The 1969 “incident” excepted, political riots and turmoils are not yet the norm. Malaysia has been thankfully spared such scourges as the assassinations of leaders and politicians, the staple of Third World politics.
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The BERUKs of Malusia
If Najib and his Barisan coalition were to prevail in the upcoming general election on May 9, 2018, however slim their victory, that would be akin to giving the village idiot a match, and then encouraging him to continue playing with it amidst the flammable debris and the high-voltage political atmosphere.
     The flammable debris are our failing institutions. Malaysias are also now deeply polarized, lending to the current highly-charged political climate. The last time Malaysians were stridently divided was during the 1969 election. Then the ruling coalition’s defeat in a few states and its loss of a supra majority at the federal level triggered a horrific race riot that killed thousands and maimed many more. Parliament had to be suspended and the nation ruled by decree. The scar of that national tragedy has now thankfully been sealed with a thick scab. It is unlikely that it would be rubbed open again despite the mischievous attempts by many.
     The polarization then was interracial, between Malays and Chinese to be specific, and the outbreak of violence was localized only to Kuala Lumpur. Today the schisms and polarizations are widespread but not interracial despite crude attempts by many to make it so, rather intra-racial, among Malays. Only East Malaysia is spared. As such Malaysians, in particular Malays, do not or refuse to recognize or even acknowledge this new threat to the nation. Therein lies the danger.
     Yet the evidence is glaring. I have never seen more ugly or blatant displays of vicious and visceral hatred directed at Najib and Mahathir. The two leaders themselves have set the pace and tone. Others too like their HRHS The Sultans and ulamas have taken sides. Their revulsion, as well as that of their followers, is so open. Such gross and uncouth displays are so un-Malay. I fear that should something untoward were to happen to Najib or Mahathir, that would trigger a vicious civil war among their fanatic followers, meaning, Malays.
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     Throughout history the most savage conflicts are intra rather than interracial. Witness the ongoing carnage in the Middle East. I am referring not to the Arab-Israeli dispute but the continuing savageries among the Arabs. The Korean Peninsula is still a tinderbox, ready to explode and taking the world with it. Then there was the earlier Chinese civil war. It would be a futile exercise to venture whether the Chinese suffered more under the Japanese or during their own civil war. It would not be an exaggeration to assert that the Japanese Occupation at least interrupted the brutalities the Chinese inflicted upon each other.
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They are partial to UMNO Malays, thanks to Najib’s “cash is king” lure.
What is so volatile about the current threat facing Malaysia is the absence of any restraining element to buffer or dampen this intra-Malay schism. Our institutions–from the sultans and the Election Commission to the Armed Services and the police–have failed us. The Sultans and Agung are not the “protectors” of Islam and Malay customs as they claim, or as tradition and the constitution would have it. They are partial to UMNO Malays, thanks to Najib’s “cash is king” lure.
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     The Chief of the Armed Forces had to retract his earlier statement proclaiming his troops’ and officers’ loyalty to Najib. That General forgot his oath of office, to serve King and country. Likewise the Registrar of Societies; she did her “job” in a single blow (pardon the pornographic pun) by denying the registration of Mahathir’s new party, a powerful opposition force. Meanwhile that clown Prince and Sultan wannabe in the southern tip of the Peninsula thinks he can titah (command) his fantasized “Bangsa Johor” as to which party to vote for! His father the sultan had gone even further.I would have expected Malaysian minorities to buffer or dampen this dangerous intra-Malay rift if nothing else for their (non-Malay) own self-interest. Instead they are sucked in by their own miscalculations into this perilous undertow.
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A sliver of hope is Sabah and Sarawak. Perhaps because everyone there is a minority, Malaysians there are inclusive and tolerant. They have gone beyond; they have not let their ethnic and cultural identities define or limit them. It is sad that their exemplary collective stance is lost on their fellow Malaysians in the peninsula.
Image result for The late Chief Minister of Sarawak for Sarawak
 Sarawakians must honour Tan Adenan Satem
The fact that UMNO, a national party otherwise, does not have a beachhead in Sarawak, explains why the particularly virulent racist virus that has infected UMNO’s body and mind in the Peninsula has not spread east across the South China Sea. I hope East Malaysians will keep it that way.

Malaysians have a crucial task in this upcoming May 9 General Election. They must snatch that dangerous match away from that idiot Najib and his band of mischievous UMNO monkeys. He and they have done enough damage to Malaysia. Stop them before they burn the whole country down.

 

Greg Lopez on Corruption


March 8, 2018

Greg Lopez on Corruption

by Greg Lopez*

Image result for Greg Lopez
*Greg Lopez is a lecturer at Murdoch University Executive Education Centre. He is interested in the links between individual agency, governance, economic growth and political stability.

The first article identified 18 different terms (from World Bank publications) that are confused or used interchangeably with corruption.

In the first instance, let us explore how corruption is linked to these other terms. It may help explain why the terms are often confused or used interchangeably.

 The Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is an independent unit within the World Bank Group that investigates and pursues sanctions related to allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group-financed projects.

The INT’s scope of work is fraud and corruption but also included is collusion, coercion and obstruction (see first article for these descriptions).

Stated differently, in INT’s definition, corruption will potentially also involve fraud, collusion, coercion and obstruction.

Image result for Najib Razak and CorruptionMaybe, but you are the most corrupt Prime Minister in Malaysia’s History. Looting the National Treasury is a Breach of Trust. It is embezzlement.

 

In Tina Soreide’s (2014) World Bank study titled, “Drivers of Corruption — A Brief Review”, she states that ‘corruption takes a variety of forms’, and proceeds to list them as follows: crony capitalism, embezzlement, extortion/extortive corruption, facilitation payments, kickback, kleptocracy, lobbyism/campaign finance, patronage, queue corruption, regulatory capture, rent-seeing, and state capture (the descriptions are provided in the first article).

In Soreide’s (2014) approach, there are at least 13 different ways within which corruption can take place.

If there are 18 different ways to describe corruption or corrupt acts — with some of it being legal and others, not — what exactly is corruption?

Exploring the essence of corruption

The literature on corruption indicates that the concept of corruption is as old as civilisation — indicating clearly, its persistence.

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Syed Hussein Alatas (1999) in his book, Corruption and the Destiny of Asia provides among many analysis, an informative analysis of corruption through the ages.

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Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas  and Cuba’s Dr. Fidel Castro

In analysing the Chinese reformer Wang An Shih (1021-86 AD), Alatas noted that, “…in his [Wang An Shih] attempt to eliminate corruption, [he] was astounded by two ever-recurrent sources of corruption: bad laws and bad men.”

In analysing the Islamic scholar Abdul Rahman Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 AD), Alatas stated that Ibn Khaldun considered the root cause of corruption to be the passion for luxurious living within the ruling group. It was to meet the cost of luxurious living that the ruling group resorted to corrupt dealings.

Kautilya, a key advisor to Chandragupta Maurya (c 317-293 BCE) writing in his book Arthasastra, identified corruption as a human condition.

Humans, Kautilya noted, were fickle and that no virtue such as integrity and honesty would remain consistent. While not using the human condition to justify corruption, Kautilya proposed elaborate and extreme sets of measures to weed corruption out of government — referring specifically to leaders tasked with running the government such as tax collection, implementing various government regulations, etc (T. Kumar, 2012) [pdf].

Maryvonne Genaux (2004) in her exploration of corruptio, the Latin term from which the word corruption originates, concludes that, “Ultimately, [the word] ‘corruption’ can be said to have Biblical origins and a core meaning centred around injustice.”

Genaux notes that these “injustice” was perpetrated by those in power or with authority (kings, judges, magistrates, etc.) against those who relied on their leadership/judgements/decisions (e.g. subjects, citizens).

The review above suggests that the essence of corruption (which covers all different types of corrupt act), is an “unjust act” committed by those “in/with power” (the powerful) against those “with less power” (the powerless) for the benefit of the powerful because it is within human nature to act in such manner.

What do you think of this description of corruption?

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

 

 

The Downfall of Crown Prince Kushner


March 7, 2018

Opinion

The Downfall of Crown Prince Kushner

by Daniel B. Shapiro

It was always folly that Jared Kushner, a key example of Trump’s terrible, nepotistic distortion of American government, monopolized the U.S.-Israel relationship. Now he’s going down, how much further will critical decision-making deteriorate?

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The Downfall of President-in-Law Jared Kushner seen with his wife, First Daughter Ivanka Trump

Not since the November 1, 1973 meeting between Prime Minister Golda Meir, under fire for the failures that led to the Yom Kippur War, and President Richard Nixon, already deep into the Watergate scandal, have American and Israeli leaders met at a time of such internal political turmoil in both countries.

As thousands of advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship gather in Washington for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference this week, the fraught situation in both governments raises the question of how to manage the U.S.-Israel relationship through choppy waters and bumpy roads.

There is no denying that President Trump is very friendly toward Israel. But more than good feelings are necessary to make the relationship as productive as it can be. Serious, professional work by well-organized governments makes a difference, too.

Already I can hear readers spitting out their coffee. What??! A representative of the Obama Administration will give lectures on how to manage the U.S.-Israel relationship? Wasn’t that a period of major bilateral tensions? Give me break!

The criticism is fair, up to a point, considering the far-too-frequent public disputes, which both sides contributed to, during those years. But it is also not the whole picture

During the same period that we had serious policy disagreements, most prominently over the Iran nuclear deal and the issue of West Bank settlements, the bilateral relationship grew significantly stronger in numerous ways.

It grew stronger in the area of security cooperation, which resulted in more frequent and more sophisticated joint military exercises, and culminated in the $38 billion military assistance Memorandum of Understanding, which will enable Israel to purchase at least 50 F-35 aircraft and maintain its qualitative military edge for decades.

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in this Israeli Defence Force (IDF) handout image received on November 28, 2017
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in this Israeli Defence Force (IDF) handout image received on November 28, 2017 IDF Spokesperson Unit/Handout via REUTERS

 

It grew stronger in intelligence cooperation, upgrading the partnership to a level of intimacy the United States enjoys with few other countries, and enabling more real-time sharing of information and strategic deployment of our assets against common threats.

It grew stronger in the area of technology development, especially in missile defense, leading to the full deployment of Iron Dome and breakthroughs in the development of David’s Sling and Arrow 3. Israel’s recent successes in detecting and destroying Hamas’s terrorist tunnels have also been enabled by a joint U.S.-Israeli research and development program launched in 2015.

It grew stronger in diplomatic coordination, as the two countries worked together week in and week out for eight years to snuff out or counter attempts to delegitimize Israel in international organizations, notwithstanding our disagreement on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 in December 2016.

It grew stronger in responding to disasters, such as when the entire U.S. interagency mobilized to help provide assistance to Israel during the 2010 Carmel fires.

And it grew stronger in the economic and commercial sphere, where the two governments advanced efforts to support the vibrant private sector partnership, by lowering barriers and increasing opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs in both countries to meet and work together.

What all these advances had in common was that they resulted from an effort, at least on the U.S. side, to ensure that the bilateral relationship, and the policy that guided it, were spread across all parts of our government.

The National Security Council at the White House provided the connective tissue between disparate initiatives, but there was a broad understanding across the government of what we were trying to achieve – a stronger, deeper partnership in all realms, and how each department could contribute.

U.S. United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt wait for a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York on February 20, 2018.
U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt wait for a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York\ LUCAS JACKSON/ REUTERS

 

 

 

There will always be a few key, high-level individuals managing the relationship and making decisions on the most sensitive matters, but others in the government need to be involved, informed, and coordinated.

Lately, one has the impression that the relationship has been shrunk down to three or four people on each side. Trump White House paranoia about the loyalty of career officials, whom they deride as the “deep state”, surely contributes. So does the failure to fill many senior State Department posts. Israeli coalition politics, with cabinet portfolios spread across multiple parties and no foreign minister, are a factor as well.

A structure like this one creates problems that benefit neither country. First, it makes it difficult for officials below the top level of government to follow-up on decisions made by their seniors. If a decision is made by the inner circle, but is not communicated to the working level, it may never be implemented. A poorly staffed government, as exists on the U.S. side, compounds the problem.

Israeli officials these days often have no counterpart to call, or only much more junior officials, clearly cut off from the decision-making level, which has clearly contributed to misunderstandings on sensitive issues, like the arrangements in southern Syria intended to keep Iranian forces and proxies away from the Israeli border.

Second, this structure weakens the United States in other ways, harming our ability to effectively support Israel in various arenas.

King Abdullah of Jordan, left, looks on as Jared Kushner talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Feb. 2, 2017
King Abdullah of Jordan, left, looks on as Jared Kushner talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Feb. 2, 2017Evan Vucci / AP

 

 

There has never been a Secretary of State as excluded from the U.S.-Israel relationship as Rex Tillerson. He has never made his own visit to Israel, and his regional tour, with no stop in Jerusalem, following the Iranian drone incursion on February 10, made him look irrelevant. Why would other governments take him seriously when he raises Israel’s concerns?

The absence of confirmed U.S. Aambassadors in Cairo, Amman, Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara underscores the department’s weakness and inhibits U.S. assistance to Israel in regional coordination against common threats, like Iran’s growing military entrenchment in Syria.

Finally, this structure injects chaos when someone leaves or gets in trouble. If all the eggs of the U.S.-Israel relationship are in Jared Kushner’s basket, what happens when that basket self-immolates, as is going on now? Over-investment in one or two individuals, no matter how supportive, actually weakens the structures that the bilateral relationship needs.

Other governments, particularly in the Gulf, have made a similar mistake, leaning far too heavily on Jared Kushner as the be-all and end-all of their relationships with the United States.

Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal to President Donald Trump at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh.
Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal to President Donald Trump at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. Evan Vucci/AP

 

That’s because of the terrible distortion of the U.S. government under the Trump Administration – from a collection of professional departments to a family-run business, complete with a crown prince and blatant misuse of government positions to advance private commercial interests.

As Kushner goes down, those governments must ask themselves, now what?

During the Obama Administration, I sometimes heard it said that we were relentlessly on-message, that Israeli officials would hear the same thing from whoever they talked to on the U.S. side. I considered that to be a major compliment in the management of the administration.

That kind of coordination, which integrates all departments of government, actually gets more done. It enables serious follow-up and implementation of decisions. It avoids creating confusion and illusions about U.S. policy, by hearing different things from different people, both on issues where we agree and those where we differ. It ultimately makes for a healthier and stronger relationship, one that can weather even serious policy disagreements.

President Obama used to say that government officials are like runners in a relay race, carrying the baton for a while and then handing it off to the next runner. That is true across administrations, but it is also true during a single administration, when most people only serve in their posts for about two years.

When Jared Kushner has the baton pulled from his hand, who is going to carry it for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the coming years?

Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in the Obama Administration. Twitter: @DanielBShapiro

 

Malaysia: GE-14–Follow Joe Pundit and Vote for Change


March 4, 2018

Malaysia: GE-14–Follow Joe Pundit and Vote for Change

by Joe Pundit

https://aliran.com/thinking-allowed-online/general-election-2018-five-reasons-i-will-vote-change/

Image result for Bullshit Najib Razak

Vote for Change. Joe Pundit explains why he has no other option but to give opposition parties a chance.

Malaysians will go to the polls soon.The 2018 general election will be a significant one in the country’s history: for the first time the Opposition will be led by a former prime minister. Like many of my fellow Malaysians, I have pondered over whom to vote for.

 

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Join South Africans and Zimbabweans who have removed Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe (and Grace Mugabe), so why keep Najib Razak (and Rosmah Mansor) and his band of UMNO-BN thieves. Wake Up, Malays.

I have decided that I will vote for change. I will be voting for the coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the following reasons:

1. We need a fairer electoral system

That we need a change is an option-less choice for me. If Malaysia is to evolve into a mature democracy, we need to have a two-party system.

Our present electoral system has to be changed and we should adopt a more democratic system based on proportional representation. There is too much gerrymandering when parliamentary constituencies are created and boundaries redrawn.

Only under a proportionaly representation system will the majority voices of the people be heard. In the 2013 general election, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won 51% of the popular vote but could not form the government under the present first-past-the-post system.

Like in respected democracies, many Malaysians would like to see the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee coming from the Opposition and not the ruling party.

2. We need to overcome critical problems confronting the people

Rising cost of living

The escalating cost of living has hit the working and middle classes in Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, I am totally against the goods and services tax (GST) as it is painful towards those less well off. Taxes should always be discriminatory and not non-discriminatory.

Lagging education system and unemployment

The education system needs to be further improved and it should be free of charge for all Malaysians till university. The command of written and spoken English is abysmal among the younger generation. The education system needs to be completely revamped.

The current government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of unemployment. Thousands of graduates are unemployed and many have to resort to driving Uber and Grab for a living.

Lack of affordable housing and security

Prices of houses and apartments in many parts of the country have soared beyond the reach of the middle class and the working class.

The crime rate is still high as seen by the increase in gated communities in the country.

Ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry

Malaysians are also concerned about worsening ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry. The BN does not appear to be doing anything concrete to tackle this phenomenon, which is threatening the very fabric of our society.

Lack of consistent people-oriented measures

The government should assist the people on a daily basis – and not just occasionally through Brim. I believe genuine assistance will be provided to the people under an opposition-led government.

Many Malaysians are of the view that an opposition-led government will implement more people-oriented measures eg a RM100 season ticket providing unlimited travel for commuters.

With an opposition-led government, we have a chance of moving towards a more egalitarian society – and the more we move in this direction the better for the people.

3. We need to wipe out scandals, corruption and wastage

Many serious issues that have surfaced since the 2013 general election such as 1MDB, FELDA Global Ventures and Mara’s purchase of property in Australia have raised critical questions that remain unanswered. No satisfactory explanation has been given by the government and no one at the top has been made accountable for these financial transgressions.

The level of corruption in the country is of deep concern to many Malaysians like me. Malaysia’s ranking fell sharply from 54th to 62nd position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2017. Many feel that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is not doing enough to combat corruption: it has to be made totally independent, reporting directly to Parliament.

Many Malaysians believe we should have an independent civil service without political interference. There is so much of wastage of public funds: just look at the number of civil servants, officials and others accompanying the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers on each overseas trip.

All tenders for all public projects should be transparent, and the tender committees for all major projects should comprise top civil servants and MPs from both sides of the political divide.

4. We need fairer, more independent media

The mainstream print and electronic media are unfair to the people. Hardly impartial, they serve as propaganda machinery for the ruling coalition. While we may or we may not agree with all of Mahathir and the Opposition’s policies and views, we would like them to be given space to express their views in the mainstream print and electronic media.

 

Malaysians must be given the chance to listen to live debates between the government and the opposition on television and radio ahead of the election. Only after listening to both sides will Malaysians be in a better positioned to make a choice.

By denying us the right to listen to both sides of the story, the government is telling us we unable to think rationally or vote wisely – which is an insult to the intelligence of Malaysians.

5. We need sweeping institutional reforms

The BN has failed to introduce sweeping much-needed reforms in the country.

Malaysians will expect an opposition-led government to implement reforms in all major institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the civil service, the judiciary, and the armed forces so that institutions will remain independent of the government of the day. These institutions should only report to the King and Parliament.

Given the wealth and natural resources in our country, Malaysians deserve a better deal.

Image result for Bullshit Najib Razak

If opposition parties are elected to power and they fail to improve the political and socio-economic environment in the country, then I would be inclined to vote for the BN in the election after next.

Joe Pundit is the pseudonym of a keen political observer based in Kuala Lumpur.

Utter Chaos and blatant Corruption of Trump Presidency


March 3, 2018

Robinson: The utter chaos and blatant corruption of Trump Presidency is unprecedented

If Barack Obama had displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts, we’d be in the middle of Civil War II. Trump barely gets a shrug

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:
Image result for Jared Kushner
It’s All in the Family–Nepotism

The ceaseless barrage of news — both real and fake — from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.

None of what’s happening is normal and none of it should be acceptable. Life is imitating art: What we have is less a presidency than a cheesy reality show, set in a great stately house, with made-for-television histrionics, constant backstabbing and major characters periodically getting booted out.

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Hope Hicks–The Pretty Woman in The White House–Resigns her post

Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director,   decided  Wednesday to self-eject. Was it because she spent the previous day testifying on Capitol Hill, and was forced to admit having told “white lies” for President Trump? Was it because the man she had been dating, Rob Porter, lost his important White House position when The Daily Mail revealed he faced multiple allegations of wife-beating? Or was Hicks simply exhausted?

Image result for Rob PorterRob Porter–The Alleged Wife Beater

 

Porter’s job involved controlling the flow of paperwork, some of it classified and extremely sensitive, to the President. Because of those abuse allegations, however, he couldn’t get a permanent top-secret security clearance. That was bad enough, but later we learned that dozens of White House officials, perhaps 100 or more, were working with only interim clearances, not permanent ones. Their access to secret information was cut off by Chief of Staff John Kelly — but only after all of this had become public.

Among those now with limited access is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose heavily indebted real estate empire and grudging disclosure of his many foreign contacts worried FBI investigators. Kushner is a senior adviser to the president whose many assignments include forging peace in the Middle East — but who now is not cleared for documents or meetings that discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East or anywhere else. So why is he still there?

Why was he there in the first place? Because of Trump’s appalling nepotism.

Image result for ivanka trumpIvanka Trump–First Daughter

 

Trump also brought his daughter Ivanka into the White House as an adviser. What does she do? What qualifies her to do it? In a real administration, conservative or liberal, Jared’s office and Ivanka’s office would be occupied by experienced professionals who actually know something about diplomacy or administration or some government function.

According to The New York Times, Kushner set up White House meetings for two business executives whose private equity firm and bank later made loans to the Kushner Companies real estate firm totaling more than $500 million. Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” was a cruel joke. He has expanded it into a vast protected wetland, to be enjoyed by friends and family.

Never before have we had a president openly at war with his own attorney general. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s attempts to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of his job last summer were part of a pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. According to The Post, Trump’s private name for Sessions is “Mr. Magoo,” a baby-boomer reference that younger readers will have to Google.

Trump began his day Wednesday by tweeting that a decision Sessions recently made was “DISGRACEFUL!” Sessions responded by issuing a statement strongly rebutting Trump’s criticism. And that evening, Sessions was photographed at a posh Washington restaurant dining with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who oversees the Mueller investigation — and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. If it wasn’t a deliberate display of unity at the Justice Department, it sure looked like one.

Also on Wednesday, Trump convened a televised negotiating session with members of Congress on the subject of gun violence. To the escalating horror of Republicans present, he heartily endorsed several Democratic gun control proposals — and then went much further, saying that in the case of individuals who are mentally unstable, authorities should “take the guns first, go through due process second.”

If Barack Obama had ever said such a thing, we’d be in the middle of Civil War II.

Any other president who displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts would have provoked an uproar. Trump barely gets a shrug. Nobody expects him to be consistent. Nobody expects him to know anything about anything. He is defining the presidency down in a way that we must not tolerate.

I spent years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. To say we are being governed like a banana republic is an insult to banana republics. It’s that bad, and no one should pretend otherwise.