Media (415)


Saving Thanksgiving

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

After the House Intelligence Committee hearings Donald Trump phoned in on FOX & Friends to perpetuate the myth that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 elections and possessed the DNC server.  It started a week with only bad news for the president.  Emails revealed that the Office of Management and Budget had retroactively tried to come up with a justification for withholding military aid to Ukraine, and it turned out that two employees of OMB resigned after Trump had ordered the aid to be blocked.  It also became clear that the president knew about the whistleblower complaint before the aid was released.  A federal judge ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn has to comply with the congressional subpoena to testify, and in an attempt to save his skin Giuliani goon Lev Parnas revealed that he has audio and video linking both Trump and Giuliani to the Ukraine scandal.  In an interview the president told Bill O’Reilly that he never ordered Giuliani to do anything, which makes it inexplicable why he told Zelensky to talk to Giuliani, and Hizzoner said on FOX News that he has ‘insurance’ if he is thrown under the bus.

Trump’s ‘you’ll have to ask Rudy’ and mentioning that ‘Giuliani also has other clients’ sounded eerily familiar to the way he severed his ties with Michael Cohen, and it puts both Trump and Giuliani in a bind, because the president cannot risk that Hizzoner starts singing to the FBI, while Giuliani’s only hope may be a presidential pardon if he’s convicted for some of the potentially criminal actions he’s being investigated for.  In a bizarre tweet the president declared that he would ‘love to have everybody testify’ to Congress, something he explicitly prohibited, but that he cannot allow it for the sake of future presidents.  After giving Turkey access to north-eastern Syria Trump continued his servile subjection to its president by asking the Department of Justice to look into Erdogan’s concerns about sanctions on a state-owned Turkish bank, and by instructing Lindsey Graham to block a resolution recognizing the genocide of Armenians by the Turks.   Since significant earnings of the Trump Organization apparently come from Russia and Turkey this is an explanation for the president’s attitude towards Putin and Erdogan.

In an unprecedented move Trump intervened in the military justice process by restoring a Navy Seal, who had been convicted of a war crime by his peers, to his rank and status, forcing the Secretary of the Navy to resign.  The president justified his action by stating that the US trains its soldiers to be ‘killers’ and cannot abandon them for doing what they have been taught to do, a remark that many in the military leadership find deeply insulting.  Trump also announced that in 2020 he is planning to campaign with three convicted war criminals he already has pardoned.

On a lighter note, the president got into a spat with the military because he insisted that Conan the Dog, who assisted in the killing of Al Baghdadi, is male, while the Pentagon maintained that Conan is female, which was pretty obvious from pictures taken at her White House recognition event.  Additionally, in a tweet Trump wondered why the commemoration of 100 years of women’s voting rights in 2020 has not been celebrated years ago, leaving mathematicians and historians puzzled.

At a Florida rally Tuesday night the president told his base to their own amazement that they went to great colleges, and informed them that he was ready to fight a war to save Thanksgiving, just like he had saved Christmas.  During a surprise visit to Afghanistan Trump announced the resumption of negotiations with the Taliban, which was to be expected after his success in dealing with Kim Jong-un and China.


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Een tweetalig land

Noorwegen is tweetalig.
‘Hè ’, denkt u nu. ‘Ze spreken daar toch gewoon Noors’.
Ik dacht dat ook. Tot ik in mei 1997 voor het radioprogramma Wereldnet (VPRO/Wereldomroep) sprak met oud-omroepman Dick Passchier.

      Dick woonde toen in Fure aan een fjord aan de Westkust van Noorwegen.
Hij had een grote liefde voor dat land ontwikkeld, sprak de taal en had zich verdiept in de cultuur & geschiedenis.

Dick vertelde dat er in Noorwegen officieel twee talen zijn, of eigenlijk twee schrijftalen. Bokmål en Nynorsk.
      De meeste inwoners gebruikten Bokmål, maar allerlei geschriften en rapporten van de overheid verschenen in twee talen. Dat was verplicht. Beide talen werden natuurlijk geschreven in het Latijnse alfabet, maar daar zijn drie letters aan toegevoegd: æ , ø en å .

Een paar dagen later stuurde Dick mij een voorbeeld van zo’n overheidsfolder.
      Dat was heel attent van hem.



''Hey Dikkie"                                   

Dick Passchier was in de tweede helft van de vorige eeuw een zeer populair T.V.presentator.
      Hij deed vooral grote spelshows als Tweekamp, Zeskamp en Spel zonder grenzen. Ook was hij jarenlang presentator op Koninginnedagen.
Hij kon niet zo goed tegen die bekendheid.
      Vooral als de mensen ’Hey Dikkie’ gingen roepen kreeg hij het benauwd.
In Fure had hij daar geen last van, want daar kenden ze hem niet als T.V.-persoonlijkheid.
      Hij overleed in september 2017

 Hieronder een bladzijde uit de folder in de twee Noorse talen.









Starting to Fall

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Last week was not a good one for Trump.  After Ambassador Taylor’s testimony Lt. Col.  Vindman, the Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and Ambassador Yovanovitch, who had abruptly been removed from her post in Ukraine, testified.  Both were attacked by the president.  Alexander Vindman, whom Trump already had labeled a ‘never Trumper’ after his closed door testimony, on the official White House Twitter account, because Ukraine had offered him the position of Secretary of Defense no less than three times.  Marie Yovanovitch on the president’s personal account in the middle of her testimony, which was yet another attempt to intimidate a witness.   Vindman was also criticized by a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee for wearing his uniform and insisting on being addressed by his rank, which is standard protocol for military officers who give testimony.  Ambassador Yovanovitch testified about the brutal way in which she had been ordered to return to the US and how she felt threatened by Trump, and Lt. Col. Vindman about his concerns regarding the president’s call with Zelensky.

The testimonies apparently took a toll on Trump, because on Saturday afternoon he was rushed to a hospital for some testing, which the White House later said was an unscheduled part of his regular physical.  Apparently concerned about the optics the White House Press Secretary put out a statement that the president works from 6 am until late at night, which became the laughing stock of all political talk shows but not of FOX News, where Judge Jeanine Pirro called Trump ‘almost super-human.’  The president’s anxiety about the way the impeachment inquiry was unfolding made him declare that he considered submitting written testimony, something he did for the Mueller probe and will never do again, because he’s still being investigated for possibly having lied to the Special Counsel.  This week things got worse for Trump.  The most important witness was the US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, one of the ‘three amigos’ who were told by the president to ‘work with Rudy Giuliani,’ meaning that they had to strongarm Zelensky into investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election.

Giuliani was peddling the ludicrous theory Putin had whispered into Trump’s ear that not Russia had interfered in the presidential election but Ukraine on behalf of Hillary Clinton, and the equally debunked theory that Biden had meddled in Ukraine’s justice system on behalf of his son’s business interests.   Sondland and his team had to convince the Ukrainian president to publicly announce investigations in these matters for fear of not getting a White House meeting and not receiving the badly needed military assistance that had already been approved by Congress.

Sondland decided not to follow Michael Cohen and Roger Stone into the slammer and confirmed the bribery plot, adding that ‘everybody was in the loop,’ including Secretary of State Pompeo, acting White House Chief of Staff Mulvaney and Vice-President Pence.  Republican attempts to dismantle Sondland’s testimony by referring to the fact that Trump had told him in a phone call ‘I want nothing’ failed, because at the time of that call the whistleblower had already revealed the plot.

In defense of Trump Republican congressmen were left with the mind boggling contradiction that there had not been a plot because the plot had failed, and Trump appeared on the White House lawn with a scribbled note saying ‘I want nothing’ and the name Zelensky misspelled as Zellinsky.  Last night the president had a White House dinner with Republican senators to try and keep them on his side.

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Before the Fall

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Last week the president continued his quest for an audience that would applaud him and he finally found one at the Alabama-Louisiana State University football game he attended on Saturday.  The Crimson Tide fans will think twice before they applaud Trump again, however, because their team lost to LSU for the first time in ten years.  Two days later in New York things were back in order, because although demonstrators were kept away from the location where Trump kicked off the Veterans Day parade with a sleep-inducing teleprompter speech the chant ‘Lock him up’ could be heard from a distance.  In the president’s immediate environment things were not much better, because acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone were feuding over the question whether the latter had done enough to keep government employees from testifying to the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment inquiry.  Meanwhile in  Florida former National Security Advisor John Bolton suggested that Trump’s decision to give Turkey unfettered access to Syria was driven by his own business interests.

In advance of the impeachment hearings a memo circulated among House Republicans that proposed the following strategy: admit all the known facts, including a quid-pro-quo, but emphasize that the president was extremely concerned about corruption in Ukraine and had no criminal intent whatsoever.  In light of the testimony later in the week it would not have worked anyway, but Trump immediately shot down this attempt to save his presidency by tweeting once more that his call with Zelensky had been perfect and that he wanted Joe Biden investigated.  The president’s rabid state of mind was further exhibited when the news broke that he had wanted to fire the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, who found the whistleblower’s complaint ‘credible and urgent’ and passed it on to the Intelligence Committee, for disloyalty.  During the hearing Ambassador Taylor dropped the bombshell that in a July 26 phone call with Gordon Sondland Trump was overheard asking about ‘the investigations.’  Sondland told a staffer that Trump cared more about having Biden investigated than about Ukraine

It also became clear that if the money had not been released to Ukraine before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 it would have been lost, which implies that but for the whistleblower many more Ukrainians would have died trying to battle the Russians with inferior weaponry, and explains the diplomats’ deep concern.  In spite of tweeting about the hearings Trump said that he didn’t watch them and met with Erdogan in the Oval Office instead, praising the Turkish president’s great rapport with the Kurds after Erdogan had played an anti-Kurd video on his Ipad.

Trump was not the only one in trouble this week.  A watchdog group revealed that Stephen Miller, before becoming the architect of the White House’s anti-immigrant policies, had send multiple emails containing white nationalist viewpoints to Breitbart News, while Trump’s old pal Roger Stone is looking at possibly 20 years in prison as his trial draws to a close.  In an event promoting freedom of speech at UCLA Don Trump Jr. was booed off stage by his own peeps for cancelling a Q&A.

After the first hearings the GOP firewall still holds, with Devin Nunes and ‘Gym’ Jordan taking the lead in aggressively confronting the witnesses with cockamamie conspiracy theories and Lindsey Graham declaring that he’ll do what he can to prevent a trial in the Senate.  But it’s still early in the process, and now Trump’s direct involvement has been confirmed by a second witness of his call with Sondland.

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The Dumbo Defense

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

When there is no other defense left your lawyer may turn to the judge and say “look at him, your honor, my client is far too dumb to have done this.”  That is essentially what Lindsey Graham implied when he said that Trump is incapable of committing the high crime he will be impeached for.  It was the last step in a process that started with ‘there was no quid-pro-quo,’ followed by ‘there could not have been a quid-pro-quo because Ukraine didn’t know money was withheld,’ which in turn was followed by ‘Ukraine got the money, so what’s all the fuzz about,’ and finally ‘there was a quid-pro-quo, but it’s not bad enough to impeach the president for.’  That sequence was produced by the release of testimony by Ambassador William Taylor, who made clear that there had been a quid-pro-quo, and the revised testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who suddenly remembered that he had told the Ukrainians why the money was being withheld.   If that was not bad enough for Trump there was the testimony by Ambassador Yovanovitch, who still feels threatened by the president, and by Lt. Col. Vindman, whom Trump and FOX News are trying to smear.

In light of all that testimony, other than calling the impeachment inquiry ‘a hoax,’ Trump’s only line of attack is now against the whistleblower, whose identity is irrelevant because his story has been completely confirmed.  An attempt by the president to have AG Bill Barr at a televised press conference declare that Trump did nothing wrong backfired, because even Barr can smell a rotten fish and refused.   And things will only get worse for the president when the Intelligence Committee starts having public, televised hearings in the House next week, first with Taylor and then with Yovanovitch, probably soon to be followed by Sondland.  As a former reality TV star Trump knows the power of television, and when it’s not on his side he is terrified by it.  His attempt to block testimony by all government employees has partly failed, and the refusal by current and former White House employees to comply with subpoenas will not slow down the investigation but only produce more articles of impeachment.  On Thursday Trump showed his ignorance about the impeachment process by tweeting that his trial would be held in the House.

Meanwhile Rudy Giuliani’s life doesn’t get easier either.  It became known that Lev Parnas, who himself works for a Ukrainian Mafioso, hired Giuliani as spokesperson for his company ‘Fraud Guarantee.’  Parnas is now apparently pissed off that Trump pretends he doesn’t know him and may soon start ‘singing,’ which would be very bad for Trump and Giuliani.  Hizzoner is panicking and therefore all over the place, one day saying that the State Department asked him to be involved in Ukraine and the next day that he was only there for his client, Donald J. Trump.

In Kentucky the GOP candidate for governor, Matt Bevin, lost the election, something Trump in advance called ‘the biggest defeat in the world’ for himself, because he had campaigned hard for Bevin.  The president claimed that he had increased Bevin’s percentage of the votes by 15%, but the polls show that it’s possible that Trump brought the percentage down.  He might consider doing the same for his former scapegoat Jeff Sessions, who is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama.

After having been booed at the World Series Trump tried to find a friendlier audience at a UFC fight in Manhattan, where he was greeted by boos and some cheers.  For his third attempt the president will kick off the Veterans Day parade in New York, but since he’s known there as ‘corporal bone spurs’ he won’t march in it.  To top the week off Trump was fined $2 million for self-dealing with his foundation.

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