Did Trump Attack Syria for Personal Profit?

At any other time, this (fill in the blank) would be the scandal of the decade. Now, with Donald Trump as president, we call it Monday.

Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.

The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:

Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.

Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.

Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.

Conflict Of Interest

Trump has a clear conflict of interest here. He ordered an attack using missiles from a company he owns stock in, the company stock went up as a result, Trump made a profit. He didn’t order the military to drop bombs, though he likely owns stock in companies that make bombs, or interrupt a Mar-a-Lago dinner to order a Seal team to raid the offices of the officials who ordered the gas attack. There is every reason for people to ask if personal profit was a factor in ordering the Tomahawk missile attack.

We don’t know, but there is the appearance of Trump potentially having done this for financial gain. This is why conflicts of interest matter.

The pubic has a right to be concerned about this.

Past Scandals

Compare the appearance of potential conflict-of-interest in Trump’s Syria attack to a past scandal that was considered major, received extensive news coverage and resulted in years of investigations.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton dismissed seven employees from the White House Travel Office after investigations discovered financial improprieties. Among other reported improprieties, it appeared that companies that contracted to provide lucrative travel services were issuing “refunds” that the Travel Office director was putting into his own bank account.

Republicans accused Clinton of firing the employees so that “friends,” including a third cousin, could get the jobs, and so that companies from Arkansas could get contracts.

This became a major scandal that resulted in literally years of investigations. The national news media did front-page reporting on the “scandal” for years. Republicans forced investigations by the FBI, the General Accounting Office, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee (1996 report), the Senate Special Whitewater Committee and finally an independent prosecutor. In 2000, a Special Prosecutor declined to prosecute the Clintons for the firings, but the mainstream news media were still at it. Fourteen years later, the right-wing media were still at it.

Compare everything in that seven years of major scandal and investigations, resulting from firing seven travel office employees for appearing to be taking kickbacks, to any given day of the Trump administration. For example, where the Clintons were investigated because a third cousin ended up with a White House job, Trump has hired his daughter and son-in-law.

A Lot More Than Just Raytheon

Trump’s direct and potential conflicts go vastly beyond just his Raytheon stock. The Atlantic looks at just his own company’s holdings, page after page,, in Donald Trump’s Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet.

This is, needless to say, unprecedented. It shows how far “down the rabbit hole” Trump and the Congressional Republicans who refuse to old him accountable have taken the country. Things that would be major scandals in the past are barely even mentioned today.

There is a national Tax March on April 15 to demand that Trump release his tax returns, so we can at least begin to get a handle on his multiple conflicts of interest. There is a large march in Washington, DC along with marches in cities around the country. Go to TaxMarch.org to locate an event near you.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their OurFuture site. I am a Fellow with CAF, a project of People’s Action. Sign up here for the OurFuture daily summary and/or for People’s Action’s Progressive Breakfast.

Is This The Return Of US ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ Serving Corporations?

Colombia is allowing local production of a generic form of a cancer drug that is ultraexpensive because of a government-granted monopoly handed to a giant, multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The U.S. government is stepping in on the corporation’s side with a modern form of “gunboat diplomacy” — even though the giant corporation isn’t even “American.”

In November 2014, a group of public health advocacy organizations called on the Colombian government to declare that the public interest warrants that the country can produce a generic version of the ultraexpensive cancer drug Gleevec, produced by the “Swiss” giant Novartis. According to a March, 2015 report in Intellectual Property Watch, “Colombia Asked To Declare Excessive Price For Cancer Drug Contrary To Public Interest, Grounds For Compulsory License“:

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Prosecute Or Pardon Bush, Bankers And Cops Who Kill

Are we a nation of laws or not? No one is held accountable for invading Iraq, bank fraud, shooting unarmed citizens or even torture. It’s time to restore the rule of law.

Everyone please, please watch this 4-minute segment from All In with Chris Hayes: Are really we a nation of laws?

In a New York Times op-ed, American Civil Liberties Union Director Anthony Romero called on President Obama to at least issue a pardon to Bush and Cheney and Bush administration officials for the crime of torture. In “Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured,” Romero writes: “… it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.”

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Images Matter: ISIL Knew That

Big, bold images of barbarism are shocking and shaking our civilization to its very core with the third brutal beheading and murder by ISIL of three:  two US journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and now humanitarian British worker David Haines.  CNN, this was not an execution, but rather an act of barbarism and murder sent out over the airwaves via social media. And somehow they knew that these images would mar the psyche, and forever scar a generation.  Just as the pictures of the Twin Towers collapsing thirteen years ago ushered us to a misguided war, and those of the little girl running down the road burned by napalm forever changed the Baby Boomers from the cover of Life Magazine to make reparations to Vietnam and its people — these barbaric images will stay in the soul of a whole generation and may indeed speed the formation a global coalition to eradicate this evil from our planet.

Images do matter and again the terrorists understand their insidious power. Social media was not meant for this. It was not what the merry team around Zuckerberg‘s Facebook dreamt of late at night; rather, this is the antithesis of the global village they helped to create.

Note: Cross published from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-kraus/images-matter-isil-knew-t_b_5818808.html.

Living With War

Try to remember peace.

I’m living with war everyday
I’m living with war in my heart everyday
I’m living with war right now

And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and we’re killed again
And when the night falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again

I’m living with war in my heart
I’m living with war in my heart in my mind
I’m living with war right now

Don’t take no tidal wave
Don’t take no mass grave
Don’t take no smokin’ gun
To show how the west was won
But when the curtain falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

In the crowded streets
In the big hotels
In the mosques and the doors of the old museum
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
Try to remember peace

The rocket’s red glare
Bombs bursting in air
Give proof through the night,
That our flag is still there

I’m living with war everyday
I’m living with war in my heart everyday
I’m living with wat right now

Read more: Neil Young – Living With War Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

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What Are We All Supposed To Be Afraid Of This Week?

Is it still ISIS? It’s not Syria anymore … right … it’s the other side now.

Previous weeks’ scare stories: Children coming from Central America? Ebola? Black mobs playing “knockout game”? Remember the smallpox scare? Remember the fear during the “runup” to the Iraq war?

Remember that fear causes people to be more conservative.

For some perspective (before we start bombing someone) on things to be afraid of, tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. And you don’t have to be the one smoking to be hurt or killed by the smoke.

So Why DID We Invade Iraq?

So why DID we invade iraq, anyway?

We know for a fact it had nothing to do with “WMD.” We went through this huge sell-job, the “run-up.” The whole country was whipped into a terrified frenzy. Do you remember being told we would be attacked with smallpox, and all the news stories about what smallpox can do to a person, does Iraq have it, how will they spread it, etc?

For that matter, why did we get into the Vietnam war? No one ever answered that one, either.

If we had self-government maybe people could get our Congress to investigate these things…

Sleight Of Hand On Retirement vs Military

In a Washington Post piece complaining that democracy is “pandering” to voters, Charles Lane writes it is wrong to talk about increasing Social Security because of the country’s “limited resources.” (Note, the country was running a huge budget surplus before Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and doubling the military budget.) He writes,

The issue, however, is how to spend the federal government’s limited resources. After national defense, the next two largest items in the fiscal 2013 federal budget were Social Security and Medicare, programs mostly for retirees.

Lane writes that “the rich can be tapped only so many times” so there is no point trying to increases taxes on the wealthy. Huh? The top tax rate was 90%, and then 70% before Reagan, and the corporate tax rate was 50%. We would at least return to this and see what happens.

But look at what is missing in the discussion. We spend more on military than all other countries combined. But cutting that down to a reasonable size isn’t even part of this discussion. Why not?

Policeman Of The World?

Step 1: Congress decides we are not the policeman of the world. If the world isn’t going to step up to stop Syria, it is not our job to do that. They are literally on the other side of the world.

Step 2: Then why the f*%k are we spending over $1 trillion a year on military? This is approx more than all other countries on the planet combined. And other countries enjoy the benefits of not having this huge outflow of money.

Step 3: We cut back on military spending and have money for schools, health care, infrastructure, childcare, eldercare, JOBS, JOBS and JOBS.