Monthly Archives: November 2017

Older Men Chasing Young Girls – An Evangelical Thing

A fascinating piece in the Los Angeles Times by Kathryn Brightbill putting Roy Moore’s sexual dalliances with young girls in the context of American evangelical Christian culture, viz. it is considered quite normal in such circles for older evangelical men to seek out teenage girls for relationships and marriage.

In evangelical eyes Moore’s only sin may be his failure to secure the mothers’ permission to pursue their daughters. This culture gap in US society may help to explain why Republican leaders in Alabama and other states with large Christian electorates are not turning against Moore whilst others in Congress are.

Roy Moore’s alleged pursuit of a young girl is the symptom of a larger problem in evangelical circles

By Kathryn Brightbill

We need to talk about the segment of American culture that probably doesn’t think the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are particularly damning, the segment that will blanch at only two accusations in the Washington Post expose: He pursued a 14-year-old-girl without first getting her parents’ permission, and he initiated sexual contact outside of marriage. That segment is evangelicalism. In that world, which Moore travels in and I grew up in, 14-year-old girls courting adult men isn’t uncommon.

I use the phrase “14-year-old girls courting adult men,” rather than “adult men courting 14-year-old girls,” for a reason: Evangelicals routinely frame these relationships in those terms. That’s how I was introduced to these relationships as a home-schooled teenager in the 1990s, and it’s the language that my friends and I would use to discuss girls we knew who were in parent-sanctioned relationships with older men.

One popular courtship story that was told and retold in home-school circles during the 1990s was that of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman, who turned their history into a successful career promoting young marriage. Most audiences, however, didn’t realize just how young the Chapmans had in mind until the site Homeschoolers Anonymous and the blogger Libby Anne revealed that Matthew was 27 and Maranatha was 15 when they married. Libby Anne also drew mainstream attention to Matthew Chapman’s writings, in which he argued that parents should consider marriage for their daughters in their “middle-teens.” At that point the Chapmans stopped receiving quite so many speaking invitations.

The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning.

Child marriage advocate Vaughn Ohlman followed more or less the same arc. He made a career out of speaking at home-school conventions until the wider world heard tell — again thanks to Homeschoolers Anonymous — of his planned retreat for families to arrange child marriages.

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson advocated for adult men to marry 15- and 16-year-old girls and deemed age 20 too old because “you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.” Home-school leader Kevin Swanson, whose 2015 convention was attended by several Republican presidential candidates, defended Robertson on his radio show after the story broke. Advocating for child marriage hasn’t slowed down Robertson’s career. He just got a new show on the conservative digital network CRTV.

As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of “early courtship” so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband. The girl’s father was expected to direct her education after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.

In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience. Another word for that is “predation.”

Much of the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14- to 16-year-old girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the “sin” of having seduced an adult man. Former IFB megachurch pastor Jack Schaap argued that he should be released from prison after being convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl, asserting that the “aggressiveness” of his victim “inhibited [his] impulse control.” In the wake of the Schaap case, numerous other stories emerged of sexual abuse cover-ups involving teenage girls at IFB churches. In another high-profile case, pregnant 15-year-old Tina Anderson, who was raped by a church deacon twice her age, was forced to confess her “sin” to the congregation.

Prominent conservative Reformed theologian Doug Wilson has a documented history of mishandling sexual abuse cases within his congregation. Nevertheless, he continues to be promoted by evangelical leaders such as John Piper, whose Desiring God site still publishes Wilson’s work. When a 13-year-old girl in Wilson’s congregation was sexually abused, Wilson argued that she and her abuser were in a parent-sanctioned courtship, and that this was a mitigating factor.

There’s no shortage of such stories. A Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, pastor attempted to discipline a woman who warned home-school parents of the convicted sex offender in his congregation. (The sex offender had gone online to solicit a 14-year-old girl for sex.) Another PCA church allowed that same convicted sex offender to give the invocation at a home-school graduation ceremony. He wasn’t perceived as an attempted child rapist, and he was “repentant.”

Growing up, I witnessed an influential religious right leader flirting with some of my teenage friends and receiving neck and shoulder massages from one of them. I’ve been expecting a scandal to break with him for years, but in the meantime, this man has put significant time into campaigning for anti-trans bathroom bills while deeming trans people “predators.”

The allegations against Roy Moore are merely a symptom of a larger problem. It’s not a Southern problem or an Alabama problem. It’s a Christian fundamentalist problem. Billy Graham’s grandson, Boz Tchividjian, who leads the organization GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment), believes that the sexual abuse problem in Protestant communities is on par with that in the Catholic Church.

The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning. Women raised in evangelicalism and fundamentalism have for years discussed the normalization of child sexual abuse. We’ve told our stories on social media and on our blogs and various online platforms, but until the Roy Moore story broke, mainstream American society barely paid attention. Everyone assumed this was an isolated, fringe issue. It isn’t.

Kathryn Brightbill is legislative policy analyst at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit advocating for the interests of home-schooled children.

Gerry Adams Says He’d Be Jailed For Lying If He Admitted His IRA Past

For the benefit of those of my readers who haven’t got access to the Irish edition of The Sunday Times, which lurks behind a paywall, here is Gerry Adams being interviewed by Justine McCarthy in today’s edition.

The person who alerted me to it described the interview as ‘arslikhan’. Read below and you can decide for yourselves. This was the takeaway line for me, but make your own minds up on that as well:

‘If you said you were in the IRA, what would happen? “I’d probably be jailed for telling lies.”‘

Hmmmm. Don’t think so.

Publication Logo
The Sunday Times (London)
November 12, 2017 Sunday
I’M VERY MUCH AT PEACE WITH MYSELF

Gerry Adams talks to Justine McCarthy about Martin McGuinness, the ‘partitionist’ media and life after Sinn Fein

“You’ve a hole in your jumper,” says Gerry Adams, “and I can’t avoid looking at it.” He’s not the only one distracted. A framed slogan on the wall of his fifth floor office in Leinster House proclaims: “I believe in justice. I haven’t a liberal bone in my body.” The words were Fidel Castro’s, or so he’s been told.

The Irish proclamation – which he calls “my mission statement” – also hangs on the wall, along with a photo of the Sinn Fein president schmoozing the Dalai Lama.

At next weekend’s ard fheis in Dublin’s RDS, he will announce the date he agreed with Martin McGuinness for his retirement as Sinn Fein’s leader. Next November seems a likely date. By then, Adams will have been the party’s president for 35 years and will be 70. “I’m a bit tired this evening,” he says, “from going up and down to the [Stormont] talks but I’m feeling good, yeah, touch wood.”

He has a squint in his right eye and recurring pain in his left arm, from when a bullet was removed in 1984 after he was shot several times in a Ulster Defence Association (UDA) assassination attempt. How did being shot feel? “Sore. I was blessed by very incompetent assassins.”

Another time, a grenade was thrown at his home. After the Royal Ulster Constabulary searched the driveway, he found the grenade lever – part of a shipment from South Africa organised by Brian Nelson, the UDA’s head of intelligence and a British informer. Adams made the grenade lever into a key ring and still uses it. More recent death threats have emanated from dissident republicans. He calls them “micro groups”. He doesn’t carry a weapon for protection, on either side of the border. He keeps fit by walking a minimum of five miles a day.

“I’ve lots of things to do, if God spares me. I want to win the poc fada championship again. I want to write books, read books, plant the garden. Live to see the grandchildren grow to a good age.”

Such pleasant plan-making may ring cruel to IRA victims and the bereaved, such as those of the Enniskillen bomb attack 30 years ago. Of course Adams denies ever belonging to the organisation. He would, though, wouldn’t he, knowing he would be arrested if he said otherwise? If you said you were in the IRA, what would happen? “I’d probably be jailed for telling lies.” Did he and McGuinness, a former IRA commander, ever talk about making their peace with themselves or their God after the Troubles? “We never had that type of discussion. I’m very much at peace with myself. Martin was very much at peace with himself.”

Wasn’t McGuinness religious? “Like any of us who came from a Catholic background, he may have moved a bit away from the rituals of all that. That isn’t to say he didn’t go to mass. He did, regularly, but I think he’d have described himself as spiritual in recent years.”

Adams says he thinks about the north’s former deputy first minister “every day” since his death in March. He had resigned as deputy first minister in protest over the “cash for ash” scandal in January.

“Being sick had nothing to do with him resigning. The night he resigned he was in the hospital in Derry getting really strenuous, invasive treatment. He’d already decided to resign. I argued, ‘Martin, you should do it in Derry.’ He wouldn’t. He wanted to come and see Arlene [Foster, the first minister] himself, which I think is a mark of the man.

“I said to him, ‘You need to fight for yourself now because you’ve fought for everyone else.’ And he said, ‘The doctors have told me I’ll either be OK or I’ll be dead in three months.'” The Stormont executive has remained suspended since McGuinness quit. Might it be restored by Christmas? “It’s very unlikely,” Adams says, unless there’s “a step change in the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP’s) position” on Irish language policy, legacy issues and same-sex marriage.

He also predicts that the DUP’s supply and confidence agreement with the Tories “will end up in tears for the DUP – because it always has. British governments always act in their own interest”. Does he accept Sinn Fein has no chance of getting into government in Dublin after the next election, with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael refusing to countenance coalition with them? “We don’t want to go into .government with them. But there’s a difference between incompatibility of policy and saying these folks aren’t fit for government, these are the untouchables. So it’s OK in the north but it’s not OK here.”

The establishment in the southern state, he says, is “deeply partitionist”.

“Moving north to south is like moving between two different planets, mostly because of the media. You saw the social media uproar about the map that was used on The Late Late Show that showed just 26 counties. We’re told what traffic is like in Patrick Street in Cork and Fairview but never what it’s like in Omagh. Northerners really resent that.

“Dana once said northerners always look to the south but southerners rarely look to the north. One thing northerners would feel offended about is when the word ‘Ireland’ is used to describe the 26 counties, or ‘national’ is used to describe the state.”

He recalls staying at a campsite in Co Mayo when his children were young and being registered as “Northern Irish”. He challenged the woman checking him in if she would describe herself as western Irish. “The partitionist view is reflected in the media, especially in the state media,” he says. “The biggest offenders are the Independent group of newspapers.”

Also on Adams’s bucket list is a successful referendum on Irish unification by 2022. “I trace a lot of the ills on this island to partition and to the process of colonisation we endured as a people. We had two really conservative, patriarchal states that were anti-women and anti-intellectual. Writers that are celebrated throughout the world were banned.

“Think of the dynamic that would be created by uniting orange and green. I think we will have a united Ireland. It’s an ongoing process of regeneration.

“We had two really conservative, patriarchal states, anti-women and anti-intellectual.”

Brexit, A Hard Border And A Dish Of Codswollop

Yesterday, I spent a very enjoyable lunchtime at a nice restaurant in one of the most monumental buildings in America – New York’s Grand Central Station – with old friends from Ireland, took the train home, switched on the radio and there on the afternoon news magazine on our local public radio station was more nonsense about how a Brexit-induced hard border in Ireland could re-ignite the Troubles.

I should have stayed downtown.

WNYC is not alone, alas, in peddling this canard. Virtually every media outlet in the Western world, and beyond for all I know, has fallen for the absurd proposition that if Brexit produces a Border between North and South resembling that which existed pre-EU, then the guns and bombs will almost certainly be back on the streets of Belfast, Derry and south Armagh.

Here, for example, are two of the most normally cautious and careful news magazines to be found on any news stand in this country or in Europe, The Economist and Newsweek, one British, the other American, opining on the matter.

First, The Economist:

During the Troubles of the 1960s-90s, the border was dotted with army checkpoints and watchtowers, as well as (until 1993) customs controls. The melting away of the militarised frontier into a mere line on a map was perhaps the most visible achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 accord that largely brought an end to three decades of violence.

Yet there is a serious risk that a hard border could return. After Brexit, this will be the only land boundary between Britain and the European Union.

Nobody predicts that violence is about to return to Northern Ireland. But a return to a hard border would further destabilise an already fragile political situation. One peace-loving old-timer jokes that he would personally blow up any installation erected on the border.

And this is Newsweek:

But any significant change to the Irish border threatens to damage business, and new barriers could also stoke old tensions. Making it significantly harder to travel between Northern Ireland and Ireland might enrage one half of the bitter Northern Irish political divide; the Republicans and Nationalists who eventually want to see a united, independent Ireland. Impediments to travel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., meanwhile, would be problematic for the Unionists; Northern Irish people who want the province to stay joined with Britain.

And here is a video produced by the European parliament, implicitly saying the same by invoking the need to protect the peace process from a hard border.

 

The problem with this analysis is that it starts from a flawed and overly simplistic premise, which is that the Troubles were all about the Border, when they really weren’t. It may look that way to the uneducated outsider but the truth was a whole lot more complex.

The Troubles were sparked by two things: first, a demand from the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland for civil rights, for a greater measure of equality and for institutions, such as the police, which acted in a way which could command their support and allegiance. Second, the refusal/reluctance of Unionists to acquiesce.

In the early days of the civil rights campaign the national question, i.e. the demand for Irish re-unification and the removal of the Border, figured hardly at all in the protests. In fact civil rights leaders were keen to stress that reform not revolution was their priority.

Most Unionists however chose to see it all very differently, regarding any demand for change as a challenge to the existence of the state.

The response of Unionists was to regard the civil rights movement as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and to meet it with obdurance and violence, either directly via the RUC or more often by way of the mob, Burntollet and Bombay Street being bloodily eloquent examples.

The fact that a significant section of Unionism would not countenance reform and was prepared to use violence to preserve its privileges persuaded a significant section of the Nationalist community that the place was irreformable and had to be pulled down. Hence the Provisional IRA and its quarter of a century of violence.

But those who did advocate that approach were always in the minority. The bulk of Nationalists gave their votes to the SDLP, a party which embodied the politics of reform. The Provos only came to command Nationalist politics when they moved into ground once dominated by the SDLP.

The fact that the party most violent in its opposition to the Northern Ireland state eventually accepted its existence as long as it was made a warmer and more welcoming place for Nationalists, as happened when the Provos signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, is surely compelling evidence that the Border played a secondary part in the genesis of the Troubles.

None of this means that a hard Border will be entirely harmless. Life for a significant section of the population on either side of the Border could be made more complicated and difficult. But the idea that this could so enrage Nationalists that they will again reach for the gun is unsustainable nonsense.

Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first civil rights marches in Coalisland and Derry and there now exists, on paper at least, a settlement that essentially addresses satisfactorily the question raised by civil rights: whither the place of Nationalists in Northern Ireland?

Via the offices of Sinn Fein, Nationalists now have a guaranteed place in government while all the other demands of the civil rights movement of the Sixties have been met, some in spades.

Most Nationalists appear content with the Good Friday Agreement, even if it is in cold storage as I write this post, and in that gratification it is possible to discern the underlying truth of the Troubles, which is that they were never really about the Border but about the well-being and position of Nationalists in the existing constitutional status quo.

So, why has so much of the world’s media, not to mention foreign governments, fallen for the hard Border codswollop?

Well, the Troubles have been over for nearly two decades and a new generation of journalists and politicians are coming to the Troubles possibly for the first time. They come to the topic more in ignorance than enlightenment and in such circumstances are ideal prey for the unscrupulous.

Foremost among those peddling the ‘hard Border equals new Troubles’ nonsense has been Sinn Fein, who have even staged mock Border crossings for the media with controls of such severity that they resemble nothing that I can remember from my student days of trips to Dublin when the EU consisted of just six countries in a common market.

But such reconstructions make great YouTube videos and wonderful propaganda which untutored reporters and politicians are quite happy to accept. They know no better.

The hard Border scenario presents Sinn Fein with endless political possibilities and it certainly helps to have in the background a seemingly intractable deadlock in the talks to revive Stormont. That gives credibility to the dark warnings.

Is that why Sinn Fein have just recently discovered the centrality of the Irish language or marriage rights for gay and transgender people? Is that why agreement in the negotiations to restore the Good Friday Agreement has so far proved so elusive? Will Stormont be revived only when Brexit is settled?

Or am I being just too cynical?

 

 

The Paradise Papers In Short

November 7, 2017
By Joe Kloc

Millions of confidential files stolen from a Bermuda-based law firm detailed the offshore holdings and transactions of more than 120 politicians around the world, revealing that the Queen of England invested millions in a corporation in the Cayman Islands whose portfolio includes a retail company that has been accused of using hard-sell tactics on poor customers; that a former president of the UN General Assembly was the owner of a trust that held shares in a company in the Seychelles that he said he thought he could use to “avoid” but not evade taxes; that a former chancellor of Austria was a director of a company registered in Malta that held shares in another Maltese company whose shareholders included his campaign advisor, who was once arrested on charges of money laundering; that a former member of the Ukrainian parliament was the sole shareholder of a company registered in Malta that paid no taxes on assets valued at $6.6 million in 2014; that a former minister of energy and finance in Kazakhstan, who fled the country in 2009 after $10 billion was discovered missing from the bank he chaired, opened a trust in the Cayman Islands in 2007; that a former president of Costa Rica sat with an advisor to former US president Bill Clinton on the board of a renewable energy company incorporated in Bermuda that was bought by an Italian company for $73 million; that a former US commerce secretary transferred her shares in two Bermuda-based firms to a Delaware company owned by trusts for her children and then wrote on a federal ethics form that the shares had been sold; that the current US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross holds a stake in an offshore shipping company that is partnered with the son-in-law of Russian president Vladimir Putin; that a former prime minister of Canada served with a foreign policy advisor to former UK prime minister Margret Thatcher as directors of a Bermuda-based company which helped the United Kingdom trade arms to Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil; that another former prime minister of Canada owned shares in an oil-drilling company registered in Bermuda that went public in 2010 with a valuation of $284 million; and that a third former prime minister of Canada owned a Bermuda-registered business which held shares in two shipping companies based in Barbados, a country he had exempted from offshore tax reform while serving as finance minister. “We’ll take every appropriate action,” said current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on doing a “better job” going after “tax avoiders,” and whose chief fundraiser was shown to own an offshore trust in the Cayman Islands that he may have used to avoid taxes in Canada, Israel, and the United States.

Another Scandal From Loughinisland……

I haven’t had the chance yet to watch Alex Gibney’s documentary on Loughinisland but by all accounts ‘No Stone Unturned’ is a masterful and moving expose of a shameful chapter in the Troubles’ history.

It tells the story of how the North’s security forces either colluded with the Loyalist gunmen who machine-gunned to death six Catholics watching a World Cup football match between Ireland and Italy in the small ‘Heights Bar’ in Loughinisland, Co. Down, or covered up their crimes in the aftermath.

Gibney has a wonderful record as a film-maker and I thought his expose of Scientology, ‘Going Clear’ was a masterpiece.

‘No Stone Unturned’ has been greeted almost universally in Ireland and Britain with praise for his courage and perserverance, but I had another thought, a less kind one.

Why did it take an American film-maker to come to Ireland to put together this detective story of a film? Where were the Irish film-makers, from either side of the Border, or those in Britain who, I must say, did distinguish themselves more than their Irish counterparts when the bullets were flying? Why didn’t they make this film? And was the print media any better?

For sure, people were tired of the Troubles, glad they had ended, happier to look to the future than to look back.

But this was an important story, an appalling scandal, that touches on two issues left unresolved from the Troubles as the peace process enters its third decade: the willingness of the police to embrace the new dispensation and the readiness of the British to expose their own dirty deeds as well as those of the Provos to public scrutiny.

And I suspect that not too deep down in their consciousness, it was an unwillingness to address these issues – doubtless dressed up as ‘not causing difficulties for the peace process’ – that helped deter local film-makers from treading where Alex Gibney so bravely and capably has.

Bono’s Offshore Tax Shelter Investments Revealed

A number of international publications have begun publishing the contents of the so-called Paradise papers, secret records of offshore, i.e. tax-free investments made by the super-rich and hidden out of reach and sight of their fellow countrymen and women and governments.

This cache was unearthed by researchers from the International Consortium of Journalists and the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and is believed to document details of trillions of dollars worth of investments hidden in the files of the Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby and leaked to the researchers.

The article below comes from this evening’s web edition of The Irish Times and is reproduced here for the benefit of those readers who do not have a subscription to the newspaper. The article reveals some of the secret investments made by Bono, the famous Irish band leader.

Bono has made a name around the world as an activist working against poverty but the Paradise Papers will leave him open to charges of hypocrisy since tax havens such as that uncovered in the Paradise Papers cheat governments of tax revenues that could be spent alleviating social deprivation.

Brooke Harrington, a certified wealth manager and Copenhagen Business School professor who is the author of “Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent”, is quoted in the Times‘ article as saying that the offshore industry makes “the poor poorer” and is “deepening wealth inequality”.

U2 frontman Bono has made a number of property investments via offshore entities. They includea shopping centre in Lithuania and an office building in Germany.

Details of the investments emerged by way of Bono’s shareholding in a company in Malta called Nude Estates Malta Ltd.

The Paradise Papers, files obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ, The Irish Times and, and more than 90 other media organisations in 67 countries, include documents from 19 corporate registries around the globe.

The wealthy singer – under his real name Paul Hewson – has an interest in a shopping centre in Utena, a town with a population of approximately 30,000 in the north east of the Baltic EU member state.

He also has an interest in a modern office block, Silberpalais, in Duisburg, which is the world’s largest inland port and is located near Dusseldorf, in Germany.

The shareholding in the Lithuanian property was at one stage owned by way of the company in Malta but more recently has been held by way of a company in the British crown dependency of Guernsey.

Bono and the Irish property investor Paddy McKillen were shareholders in Nude Estates Malta Ltd, which in turn owned a company in Lithuania called UAB Nude Estates 2. UAB owns the shopping centre in Utena.

The Maltese company, which was owned equally by Bono, McKillen and Robin Barnes of St Martins, Guernsey, was incorporated in 2006 and placed into liquidation in 2012. The company’s accounts for 2010 say it sold its Lithuanian subsidiary for £1 in February 2009.

The Lithuanian company is now owned by Nude Estates 1 Ltd in Guernsey. A related company, Nude Estates Ltd, also in Guernsey, owns the Duisburg building. Called the Silberpalais, the building is, according to its website, Duisburg’s largest office block with a total floor space of 69,000 square metres.

A spokeswoman for Bono confirmed that he was a “passive investor” in both properties. A spokeswoman for McKillen confirmed he was an investor in Nude Estates. The two Irishmen are also investors in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin.

Bono is also a well-known activist and has campaigned on issues such Aids and extreme poverty in Africa. He is the cofounder of ONE, a global campaign and advocacy organisation with more than 7 million members committed to taking action to end extreme poverty. As part of his work with ONE, Bono has lobbied heads of state and members of legislatures all around the world.

Offshore locations such as Guernsey facilitate the creation of companies that will be difficult, or impossible, to trace back to their owners. While having an offshore entity is legal, the built-in secrecy attracts those want to operate in the shadows. Offshore companies, often a “shell” with no employees or office space, are also used in complex tax avoidance structures that drain billions from national treasuries, often from some of theworld poorest countries.

The offshore industry makes “the poor poorer” and is “deepening wealth inequality,” said Brooke Harrington, a certified wealth manager and Copenhagen Business School professor who is the author of “Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent.”

“There is this small group of people who are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of us, and that’s on purpose,” Ms Harrington told the ICIJ. These people “live the dream” of enjoying “the benefits of society without being subject to any of its constraints.”

How Hillary Clinton Hijacked The Democratic Party To Defeat Bernie Sanders

In this astonishing and disturbing account that first appeared in Politico magazine, former head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Donna Brazile reveals how Hillary Clinton commandeered the Democratic Party’s machine to win the Presidential nomination in 2016 and see off Bernie Sanders.

When I was asked to run the Democratic Party after the Russians hacked our emails, I stumbled onto a shocking truth about the Clinton campaign.

Donna Brazile – discovered Clinton had hijacked the DNC and with it the nomination

efore I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.

I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.

Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.

“What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.”

That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign—and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.

If I didn’t know about this, I assumed that none of the other officers knew about it, either. That was just Debbie’s way. In my experience she didn’t come to the officers of the DNC for advice and counsel. She seemed to make decisions on her own and let us know at the last minute what she had decided, as she had done when she told us about the hacking only minutes before the Washington Post broke the news.

Hillary Clinton owned the Democratic Party by bailing it out of debts Obama had ignored

On the phone Gary told me the DNC had needed a $2 million loan, which the campaign had arranged.

“No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”

“Gary, how did they do this without me knowing?” I asked. “I don’t know how Debbie relates to the officers,” Gary said. He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee.

Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund—that figure represented $10,000 to each of the 32 states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement—$320,000—and $33,400 to the DNC. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

“Wait,” I said. “That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?”

Gary said the campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.

“That was the deal that Robby struck with Debbie,” he explained, referring to campaign manager Robby Mook. “It was to sustain the DNC. We sent the party nearly $20 million from September until the convention, and more to prepare for the election.”

“What’s the burn rate, Gary?” I asked. “How much money do we need every month to fund the party?”

The burn rate was $3.5 million to $4 million a month, he said.

I gasped. I had a pretty good sense of the DNC’s operations after having served as interim chair five years earlier. Back then the monthly expenses were half that. What had happened? The party chair usually shrinks the staff between presidential election campaigns, but Debbie had chosen not to do that. She had stuck lots of consultants on the DNC payroll, and Obama’s consultants were being financed by the DNC, too.

When we hung up, I was livid. Not at Gary, but at this mess I had inherited. I knew that Debbie had outsourced a lot of the management of the party and had not been the greatest at fundraising. I would not be that kind of chair, even if I was only an interim chair. Did they think I would just be a surrogate for them, get on the road and rouse up the crowds? I was going to manage this party the best I could and try to make it better, even if Brooklyn did not like this. It would be weeks before I would fully understand the financial shenanigans that were keeping the party on life support.

Right around the time of the convention, the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up … when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially … money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.

I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.

Bernie Sanders learned the truth too late

When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.

When the party chooses the nominee, the custom is that the candidate’s team starts to exercise more control over the party. If the party has an incumbent candidate, as was the case with Clinton in 1996 or Obama in 2012, this kind of arrangement is seamless because the party already is under the control of the president. When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

I had to keep my promise to Bernie. I was in agony as I dialed him. Keeping this secret was against everything that I stood for, all that I valued as a woman and as a public servant.

“Hello, senator. I’ve completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer,” I said. “But I will not kill the patient.”

I discussed the fundraising agreement that each of the candidates had signed. Bernie was familiar with it, but he and his staff ignored it. They had their own way of raising money through small donations. I described how Hillary’s campaign had taken it another step.

I told Bernie I had found Hillary’s Joint Fundraising Agreement. I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee. Had I known this, I never would have accepted the interim chair position, but here we were with only weeks before the election.

Bernie took this stoically. He did not yell or express outrage. Instead he asked me what I thought Hillary’s chances were. The polls were unanimous in her winning but what, he wanted to know, was my own assessment?

I had to be frank with him. I did not trust the polls, I said. I told him I had visited states around the country and I found a lack of enthusiasm for her everywhere. I was concerned about the Obama coalition and about millennials.

I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.

When I hung up the call to Bernie, I started to cry, not out of guilt, but out of anger. We would go forward. We had to.

Declassified FBI Files on Noraid, 1986 – Part One, A British Briefing Paper On Noraid

I intend to deal with this 1986 declassified FBI file on Noraid, part of the ongoing examination of the Nate Lavey archive, in two parts.

That is because the first part of the file contains a British government briefing document cum history of Noraid, compiled jointly in 1986 by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Northern Ireland Office. Given its historical importance and value as a reference document it is worthy of a separate posting.

I will examine the second part of the 1986 FBI file in a later piece.

It is not clear for whom this briefing paper was intended. A note at the bottom of the second page says that it was prepared for ‘general briefing purposes’, but common sense suggests that it was produced primarily for the American market, i.e. for US intelligence and security agencies and politicians. It is not known whether it was also circulated to the US media.

Classified ‘Secret’ at the time it came into the hands of the FBI, but declassified in 2011, the ten-page document was circulated by the Bureau’s Washington headquarters to branch offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Haven, Albany and Newark.

I have copied the entire paper and reproduce it below.

Since the FBI sent the document out to satellite offices this will be seen as evidence that the US took its line on the conflict in Northern Ireland from the British, which is hardly surprising.

Noraid, the British wrote, ‘….is the major regular source of funds for the IRA from abroad’, adding: ‘The truth is that the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein move money freely between their different activities, and money obtained ostensibly for prisoners’ dependents is likely to be used to fund terrorist atrocities.’

But it is perhaps noteworthy that it was during the leaderships of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, cold warrior allies sans pareil, that this particular British indictment of Noraid was promulgated in American security and political circles.

Here is the full document:

Trump’s America (cont’d)

November 1, 2017
By Joe Kloc

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of US president Donald Trump’s election campaign, turned himself over to authorities at the Washington, D.C., field office of the FBI, where Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, indicted him and his associate Richard Gates on charges of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy against the United States, alleging that between 2006 and 2017 Manafort lobbied the US government on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine without registering as a foreign agent; that he hid $75 million in offshore bank accounts in Cyprus, the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom; and that he laundered at least $18 million of that money through the purchase of Range Rovers, landscaping and housekeeping services, antique rugs, men’s clothing, and several homes, including a condo in Manhattan, which he rented on Airbnb, and a brownstone in Brooklyn, which he purchased for $3 million and then took out a $5 million loan against, telling the bank he would use $1.4 million for home repairs but instead using the money to make a down payment on a home in California. Addressing the indictments at a media briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders related an “anecdote” that had been “floating around the Internet” about reporters splitting a bar tab, which she said explained why companies keep their money overseas, then noted that Trump had responded to the indictments “without a lot of reaction.” It was reported that Trump had not shown up in the Oval Office in the morning, and had instead watched cable news on the televisions in his private residence, where he was “seething,” talking to his lawyers, and tweeting. “NO COLLUSION,” tweeted Trump, who has been named in at least 169 federal lawsuits during his career as a real-estate developer, casino owner, horse racer, multivitamin salesman, teenage-beauty-pageant operator, and WWE Hall of Fame wrestler. George Papadopoulos, a former foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign who listed participating in the Model UN on his LinkedIn profile and whom Trump has referred to as “excellent,” pleaded guilty to having made false statements to Mueller’s investigators about meeting during the campaign with an “overseas professor” who had “substantial connections” to “Russian government officials,” and who claimed that Russia had “dirt” in the form of “thousands of emails” on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos said that the professor had introduced him to a Russian woman with “connections” to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who wanted to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and admitted to attempting to set up that meeting with a “Campaign Supervisor,” later reported to be Manafort, who had replied that the campaign should send someone “low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” and who reportedly used “bond007” as one of his online passwords. The lawyer for Samuel Clovis, a birther and former Trump campaign adviser with no scientific experience who has said that UFOs fly at 5,000 miles per hour and whom Trump has nominated as his chief scientist, said his client was an “Iowa gentleman” who was “just being polite” when he told Papadopoulos to “make the trip” to Russia himself; Trump tweeted that “few people knew” Papadopoulos; Carter Page, another former foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, whom Russian operatives once referred to as an “idiot” while attempting to recruit him as a spy, gave a television interview in which he told a reporter that during the campaign he may have emailed with Papadopoulos, that Russia “may have come up from time to time,” and that after returning from a trip to Russia he may have mentioned “a few things he heard” to the campaign; and a Republican senator ran into several American flags while attempting to avoid questions from reporters. The Speaker of the House said he didn’t read Manafort’s indictment, Sanders said she was not aware of Trump being mad at his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had failed on at least three occasions to disclose hundreds of foreign contacts on his White House security-clearance form, and the GOP wished Ivanka Trump, who along with Kushner had urged her father to hire Manafort, a happy birthday.