Trump Trots Out the Romanian President, But the Corrupt Power Behind the Throne is Liviu Dragnea (Who Met with Mike Flynn Just before the Inauguration)

By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Trump trotted out the President of Romania today for a show at the White House Rose Garden.  Most of the press coverage has been about Trump’s comments about James Comey, tapes, and his supposed willingness to testify under oath about all the stuff swirling around him.

The Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, was here to talk about stronger ties with Washington and how Romania was really working hard to up its spending for defense, a big thing on Trump’s mind when it comes to NATO members.

From Foreign Policy:

The Romanian President Is in D.C. to Talk Defense, But…

SNIP
“Security and defense represent a key component of the U.S.-Romanian strategic partnership,” Iohannis said at a Wednesday event at the Heritage Foundation. “As a dependable ally, Romania is doing its share. This year, we have fulfilled our objective,” spending 2 percent of GDP on defense — the first, Iohannis said, to do so, noting it was at the top of his presidential agenda.

“The visit of the Romanian president in Washington is here to underline the importance of our defense and military ties and reinforce our cooperation also in terms of trade,” Victor Negrescu, a Romanian member of European Parliament told Foreign Policy. Negrescu pointed to increased Romanian defense spending, support for the installment of an anti-ballistic missile system, and the establishment of a “pro-U.S. caucus” in Romanian parliament.

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But who is behind this “pro-U.S. caucus? Well, there is a power behind this throne.  The President of the parliament’s chamber of deputies is one Liviu Dragnea, who is considered to be the guy with the real power.  He organized the “pro-U.S. caucus.”  Iohannis is the head of the ruling party, but is not the prime minister.  Why? Because, as the Foreign Policy article explains, Iohannis ” would not approve a government with Dragnea at the helm, because Dragnea was convicted for his role in rigging a 2012 referendum. ”

Gee, whiz! And isn’t it interesting that, according to Foreign Policy, ” Dragnea met with Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor, shortly before Trump was sworn in as president (and a few weeks before Flynn was fired in disgrace.) Dragnea is also thought to be a force behind the proposed legislation that would let politicians charged with corruption — as Dragnea himself is — off the proverbial hook; that legislation was withdrawn after thousands took to the streets of Bucharest.

Back in February, you might recall that hundreds of thousands of Romania citizens protested for in the streets for 6 nights.  The Guardian reported

’27 years of corruption is enough’: Romanians on why they are protesting

After six nights on the streets, Romanian protesters appear to have won after the government scrapped corruption legislation that ignited the country’s largest demonstrations since the fall of communism. But those who responded to a Guardian callout say it is not enough, and are demanding that the government step down.

“They are profoundly corrupt. Their first priority after taking office is to alter the most important work that has been done in Romania in the past 28 years: the anti-corruption fight,” says Andrei, a 28-year-old air traffic controller, who protested in Bucharest. “Nobody wants a reversal to the period of the early noughties where there was no consequences for organised fraud.”

Half a million Romanians took to the streets after the government put through a decree to decriminalise corruption involving sums of less than 200,000 lei (£38,000). The prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu, of the Social Democratic party (PSD) and who has been in office for less than a month, repealed the order on Sunday.

SNIP

An immediate beneficiary of the decree would have been the PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea, who faces charges of defrauding the state of €24,000 (£20,000). Dragnea has said he has not ruled himself out as a future leader, but under current law is not allowed to be appointed prime minister because of his conviction.

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Dragnea was among those depicted as effigies during the protest:

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At the time, President Iohannis made pronouncements against this legislation, so Trump may not look on this stance favorably. However, Trump would be OK with the fact that   back in December 2016, he rejected a Muslim woman for the position of Prime Minister.

Romania’s president has rejected a proposal by the leftist party that won elections this month to appoint the country’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.

Klaus Iohannis gave no reasons for rejecting the nomination of Sevil Shhaideh, put forward by the Social Democrats (PSD), but there was speculation that it may have been due to her Syrian husband’s background.

“I have properly analysed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal,” the president said in a televised statement. “I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal.”

The PSD won 45% of the vote on 11 December. Its leader, Liviu Dragnea, withdrew his own bid to become prime minister because he is serving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud in a previous election.

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Of course, only a couple of months ago, the man who did became prime minister, Grindeanu, tried to water down the anti-corruption laws.

So Liviu Dragnea is doing fine behind the scenes…and he hasn’t ruled himself as being Romania’s leader in the future, despite his corruption…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flattering Parade Magazine Spread on Hillary Clinton Let’s a Few Tidbits Drop About Her Situation

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday morning (Sunday, October 25) I opened the paper to find Parade magazine’s cover graced with a photo of a smiling Hillary Clinton. Reason? A 2-plus page spread entitled “A Day with Madam Secretary.”

Hillary Clinton on the cover of Parade magazine 10/25/09

Hillary Clinton on the cover of Parade magazine 10/25/09

The timing piqued my interest because just on Friday I had caught a discussion of Clinton on The McLaughlin Group.  Host John McLaughlin had outlined several successful Clinton initiatives that had been completed during the past week and wanted to discuss how important it all was…with a twist.  There have been rumors flying around about how Hillary is planning a 2012 run and how both Clintons are seething over what happened in 2008. While Pat Buchanan, Mort Zuckerman, and Eleanor Clift poo-pooed the idea, Monica Crowley held firm.

Zuckerman and Buchanan basically said that Hillary’s work wasn’t really “big” enough to get all that excited over and Clift brought up how, no matter how popular Teddy Kennedy was, he couldn’t derail the renomination of Jimmy Carter.  But Crowley, was sticking to chatter that she’s been hearing for awhile…that Hillary will resign over a foreign policy issue and launch another Presidential bid.  She won’t wait for 2016, either, when Crowley says she would be too old. No, the bid will come in 2012.

Take a look at the Parade piece. The piece is the work of Les Gelb, described this way:

Leslie H. Gelb is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served in senior positions in the Departments of State and Defense. He is the author of the book “Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy.”

What’s omitted from this bio is the fact was a long-time foreign policy writer for the New York Times. Just for the record…

The article is positively glowing, but there a few tidbits which raise one’s “suspicions”…


September 16
8:30 a.m. Daily Small Staff Meeting

The Secretary and six of her closest aides, including Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief Huma Abedin, both of whom worked on her Presidential campaign, review the day’s schedule, looking for trouble and opportunities. They meet in Clinton’s small, personal office just behind her larger, formal quarters. Practically every day begins this way. They touch on various explosive international hot spots: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, North Korea. Though they don’t talk about it, they seem ever aware of President Barack Obama’s iron-handed control of decisions. One worry today: the President’s decision to cancel the U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe—a move bound to displease Poles, Czechs, and Republicans.

8:45 a.m. Daily Senior Staff Meeting

snip

Whatever subject comes up, Clinton calls on her practical instinct: “ We’ve got to do a better job explaining to people around the world what we’re doing.”

She manages to get to the White House to meet with Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada at 11:05; no report on the meeting which is off-limits to Gelb, then is back at State by 12:10 PM for ceremony for Senegalese diplomats.

During their lunch break, Gelb brings up the topic of a resignation directly:

1 p.m. Lunch With Leslie Gelb
We eat in the courtyard adjoining the State Department’s first-floor employee cafeteria. Diners gape as Clinton goes through the line, although she does this—most unusually for the nation’s top diplomat—nearly once a month. Many burst into applause.

We sit at a table away from the crowd. Clinton has a hard edge to her foreign-policy views and generally positions herself to the right of her colleagues in national security. Yet she staunchly defends President Obama and his prerogatives. While she’s “not satisfied that we’re executing as we should” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, she nonetheless argues for continuing “present directions” in most areas. When I question whether the U.S. really has vital interests in Afghanistan, she shoots back that if we simply leave and allow the Taliban to return, al-Qaeda “would come right back, and we’d be worse off in Pakistan.” She continues: “Despite how hard Afghanistan is, we have to make progress. And what we do and what happens in Afghanistan will affect Pakistan.” Regarding Iran, she says, “We can’t choose negotiating partners in countries like Iran. So we’ve got to look for ways to change the perceptions of those we have to negotiate with.”

And what of the rumors, I venture, that she’s unhappy and may step down to run for governor of New York or her old Senate seat? She guffaws. “What nonsense! I love this job and working for President Obama and trying to do something about the critical problems we face in the world—and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Odd though, that Gelb should ostensibly limit the discussion to being governor of NY or running for the Senate again.  Why even bring these rumors up if they’re just rumors that most people don’t even care about?

Right after lunch, there’s this brief report:

2:15 p.m. U.S.-India Strategy Dialogue
Some 60 Executive Branch officials assemble to discuss strategy toward India—one of the new major powers in the world. Clinton stays briefly to bless the effort.

Seems like there’s really no need for Clinton to “bless” any effort when there are 60 EXECUTIVE BRANCH officials all gathered together, right?  Doesn’t Hillary have a role in this at all?

Winding up the day with a 7:30 PM policy dinner on Iran with some 30 experts from inside and outside the government, Gelb makes these final comments:

I scurry to catch the last flight back to New York. The Secretary, with her unfailing smile, repairs to her office for more calls and reading. It’s hard to read the mind of someone frozen in the public spotlight like Hillary Clinton. She has to be perpetually onstage. But what I think I glimpse beneath the unflagging smile and constant concentration is a very tired person—tense, frustrated, but absolutely determined to make her tenure as Secretary of State a success and to accomplish important things.

While this spread in Parade is flattering, one gets the sense of  how tightly Hillary is controlled by the White House and how she may be getting squelched on larger issues.

Frankly, I view Hillary Clinton as being the “finger in the dike” for U.S. foreign policy at this point.  Obama’s bowed to the Saudi leader. He’s squandered our prestige over a failed Olympic bid for Chicago, and he’s dithering on Afghanistan. (Note: France announced on October 15, 2009 it won’t be sending any more troops to Afghanistan). China may be drilling for oil in U.S. waters.  And let’s not forget to mention Obama’s prior rebuffed peace offerings toward Iran.   Hillary talks tougher than Obama does, but, unfortunately, she’s not the one in charge.

Meanwhile, some of our allies are less than pleased about Obama. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, thinks Obama is “incredibly naive and grossly egotistical.”  After Obama’s speech to the U.N. Security Council in late September (spun nicely here by the New York Times), Jack Kelly appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show, but here’s link to the full piece he wrote on the subject entitled “Sarkozy’s Contempt for Obama”  (anonymous sources, unfortunately).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

While most world leaders dutifully praised the Nobel Prize awarded to Obama, the many were unimpressed. And there is some fraying around the edges lately, from both the right and the left. See and Obama the Impotent in the Guardian and Analysis: Why Everyone Is Saying No to Obama in the Jerusalem Post.  Obama is viewed as weak, no doubt about it.

I can’t imagine how Hillary Clinton keeps chugging along in this Administration and can fully understand her “frustration.” As for her desire to accomplish important things, she’s pushing against some forces that really don’t want her to get credit for anything “important.”  Heck, when you are up against 60 Executive Branch officials at a meeting on India and you don’t stay very long, what does that say about your position??

Whether Hillary Clinton is planning to take on Obama in the primaries for 2012 or not, there may just come a point where she really DOES decide to resign rather than to have her reputation ruined if Obama does something really stupid.  We’ll have to see, won’t we?

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Earlier Related Posts:

The Complicated Diplomatic Life of Hillary Clinton (UPDATE 1X: Clinton on the Defensive in Congo over Bill’s “Presence”; UPDATE 2X: Bill Off the Leash?; UPDATE 3X: Video of Clinton Congo Outburst, Glenn Beck Comments) (August 10, 2009)

Hillary Clinton At It Again in Africa…This Time, Talking about Elections…(August 13, 2009)

Russia-China Proposals; “Rebalancing” Global Currency Reserves: Why the U.S. Can’t Take Anything for Granted Re: the Dollar

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Nothing like tuning into Turner Classic Movies to find the 1936 film “Things to Come,” a version of the H.G. Wells’ novel about a post-World War collapse of Western civilization and rebuilding efforts through that year.

Not very cheery…and neither is the following…

We touched on Timothy Geithner’s “slip” about the dollar, but this article for yesterday’s Guardian details how the proposal China has put forth for a new role for the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is gaining ground.  And the RIA Novosti news outlet (government run), is reporting that Russia wants a conference that will remove the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

From The Guardian:

Thursday 26 March 2009 14.42 GMT

Global currency flies with push from Russia and slip from Timothy Geithner

The dollar drops back as China’s proposal for an IMF alternative gains ground

Russia plans to hold an international conference to discuss the creation of a global currency to replace the dollar.

According to the RIA news agency, Andrei Denisov, Russia’s first deputy foreign minister, said: “This proposal is aimed at a practical realisation of the idea about a new global accounting unit or a new global currency. It is a question that should be discussed to create a consensus.”

Denisov’s comments came only hours after the US treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, shocked the markets by saying Washington was open to the idea, though he later qualified his remarks.

The debate about a global reserve currency run by the International Monetary Fund was sparked by a proposal from China this week.

snip

China’s bold proposal has been made before by independent economists, but it has until now met with resistance from the US and other countries with large dollar holdings. Zhou has acknowledged that such a shift could take a long time.

Zhou says it could “take a long time” but if you heard Peter Schiff last night on the Jerry Doyle show, you would have heard him say that China alone can do the job.  They’ve already expressed doubts about U.S. Treasury bonds and we reported a couple of days ago that they are not going to be purchasing any more.

Just yesterday a talking head on FOX’s Shepherd Smith show predicted that the dollar wouldn’t be replaced as the world’s currency at the G-20 meeting, but the agenda of that meeting on April 1-2 sounds an awful lot like what’s coming out of China and Russia.  See our prior posts for details (below).

We also covered the Steve Clemons’/New America Foundation-sponsored Economic Policy Symposium held yesterday in D.C. which featured Laura Tyson and George Soros. Unfortunately, every browser I tried crashed repeatedly as I tried to listen and also when I tied to click through the link below to see the agenda.

I guess we have to be satisfied for now with a summary of sorts by someone I know nothing about, a certain Douglas Rediker,  which was posted yesterday after the forum was over. But I still would love to be able to read/listen to whatever is on the site, without it crashing!

Here’s an excerpt from Rediker’s short post…I suggest reading the whole thing because it has some hard numbers of interest. He takes a different view than Schiff does on what China can do or will do, but the warning is clear (my bolding):

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/03/rebalancing_glo/

Rebalancing Global Currency Reserves

Thursday, Mar 26 2009, 2:05PM

At this morning’s superb economic event at the New America Foundation and in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, there was a lot of discussion about China’s recent proposal to consider a move away from the US dollar and towards the use of a new “super-sovereign reserve currency.” The intention according to China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, would be to ultimately “create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run.”

SNIP

…The short term risk is not that China is about to dump its dollar holdings. Rather, it is the trading floors and fund managers around the world, whose job it is to be ahead of the curve, who may well start to re-weight their holdings on the marginally increased probability that this re-weighting might actually occur in the future. As the numbers above suggest, even a relatively small shift could represent a meaningful shift of capital and resulting impact on the dollar’s value.

There are, of course, multiple forces at work in foreign exchange markets and, among the sure-fire ways to lose money in this world are: 1) to play currency markets and 2) to bet against the US and the US dollar. Nevertheless, the fact that this is now likely to be a discussion topic on the agenda for the London Summit, suggests that the US should not take for granted that the US dollar will retain its current role in the world forever. Currencies are traditionally viewed as a reflection of a country’s economic strength. The US cannot lose sight of the crucial role that the “exorbitant privilege” to print the world’s currency provides and do what it can to ensure that this privilege is not lost. We can’t take anything for granted.

Feeling better now? I’m not…

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Related Posts:

The Scanner–International Edition, March 24, 2009: Say Goodbye to the Dollar? China, Russia Proposing a New World Currency for “Non-Credit” Based Economies, Echo G-20 Agenda of Expanding IMF; China Will “Consider” Buying IMF Bonds; 10th China Develpment Forum Underway (UPDATE 1X–Geithner Supports China Proposal??)

The Scanner-Politics: March 25, 2009 (G-20; Glenn Beck’s “The One Thing” Segment on the Dollar [Video]; “The Big Takeover”; Al Gore Releasing New Book on Election Day 11/3/2009; Augie the Dog Sends a Deposit to the U.S. Treasury)

A Reminder: Live Streaming of the First “Bernard L. Schwartz Economic Policy Symposium” Today (3/26) With a Rather Interesting Group & Agenda (To End “Fumbling” on Economic Policy)