Nel's New Day

June 4, 2020

Is ‘Divide & Conquer’ Working?

What a bizarre week! And to say that after the chaos created by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for almost four years is not done lightly. In the space of two days, DOD Secretary Mark Esper claimed that he had no idea why he was walking after DDT for a photo-op, opposed deploying the military against protesters through the Insurrection Act of 1807, said he would send city police forces and National Guard back to their home bases, wouldn’t send them back after talking to DDT, and then changed his mind—again—to say he would send 700 troops home. And he decided he did know that he was going with DDT to his photo-op at the church across the street after firing tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters. His other confusion was who was responsible for the flight of helicopters flying low over the streets to kick up debris that can physically hurt peaceful protesters. He could have read the media: Ryan McCarthy, Army secretary, and Gen. James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff, organized the attack from an FBI command center complete with maps.

Then there’s the bunker fiasco. Angered by looking weak, DDT lied about seeking safety in the White House protective area last Friday and said that he was giving it an “inspection.” Anyone who read Andy Borowitz’s satiric piece about the “inspection” might think it was a joke. Borowitz wrote that DDT “discovered that the underground facility was covered in dust because Barack Obama never used it.” In the humor piece, Borowitz said that President Obama was “disrespectful to the bunker” for not using it. In the satire, DDT also pointed out that Barack Obama “never used the Insurrection Act of 1807,” concluding, “I don’t even know why Obama wanted to be President… Obama is a mess.” DDT really did lie about the fact that he was sent to the bunker for safety, resulting in a number of protest signs reading “Bunker Bitch.”

Military leaders, past and present, are fed up with DDT’s politicizing the military and violating law and the Constitution by threatening to send the military to fire on protesters. In a Foreign Policy piece, John Allen, retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general, and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, vigorously opposed DDT’s divisive and bragging comments about how his MAGA supporters “love African American people. They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” Allen wrote:

White supremacists have murdered, lynched, tortured, terrorized, oppressed, and discriminated against black Americans from the beginning of the idea of America. They have killed black Americans by the thousands, often in the most horrific ways imaginable. Far more damage to the United States has come from these terrorists—fascists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis, all feeling newly empowered today—than those who have opposed them.”

Allen continued about the irony of a president who called himself the “ally of peaceful protesters” who uses tear gas to attack a peaceful demonstration with no provocation.

DDT wasn’t finished with co-opting St. John’s Episcopal Church for his Monday photo-op; he told federal police to block clergy from using the same church by closing a street. Bishop Mariann Budde planned a vigil today to show solidarity for protesters on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre when the authoritarian Chinese government used military to kill hundreds or thousands of protesters gathering peacefully for democratic reforms. Without a vigil, she held a sit down and discussion. At the nearby AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, protesters had water, snacks, and other supplies for people in the 90-degree weather.

The DEA also has complete authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests. The statute limits DEA to enforcing drug-related federal crimes, but Timothy Shea, Barr’s close friend, said he has approval for the DEA “to perform other law enforcement duties” Barr may “deem appropriate.” Barr said the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law” blaming, with no evidence, “anarchistic and far left extremists.” Agents are to share intelligence with state and local law enforcement authorities.

Barr already militarized prison guards and possibly others to move through Washington, D.C. revealing neither their affiliation nor their personal identities. No one knows what assignments any of these people have. They do belong to a military operation, however—“Operation Themis,” meaning “Divine Law and Order.” And they have bayonets as well as riot gear. The Lincoln Monument, honoring the president who freed the slaves, now has military troops to protect the president who wants to enslave black protesters. 

The FBI has found no evidence that Antifa, the far-left people Barr and DDT blamed for the protests, has any involvement. Reports indicate that white supremacist groups pretend to be Antifa. Twitter has already taken down a troll account belonging to the far-right white nationalist group Evropa called ANTIFA_US and claiming to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Three former servicemen, active in the far-right “boogaloo” movement to create chaos through violence with racist civil war as the goal, were arrested for attempting that in Las Vegas. Antifa, meaning anti-fascism, has no organization but a common purpose of opposition to the far-right authoritarianism. The White House got caught accusing “professional anarchists” of “staging bricks and weapons to instigate violence,” but the cage of bricks was a security measure to protect the Chabad of Sherman Oaks (CA) from being rammed by anti-Semitic car ramming attacks. The same lies were made about bins of blocks left on a street corner seven miles away from protests.

Most GOP legislators, as cowardly as DDT, used dodge and duck to avoid questions about DDT’s behavior. Only three Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), and Ben Sasse (NE)—criticized DDT’s actions. Even those three didn’t mind gassing people to get a photo-op at the church. Murkowski and Romney came around after the Atlantic published James Mattis’ criticism about DDT. The rest of GOP senators? It’s the media’s fault. Didn’t see it. I have to go to lunch. No comment. Photographer Jerry Avenaim tweeted about Ron Johnson’s (WI) hadn’t seen DDT’s statements:

“This was the same response in Nazi Germany.”

In The New Republic, Adam Weinstein wrote that the fear of speaking truth among DDT’s GOP parallels the slide toward fascism of Hitler and Mussolini almost a century ago. Weinstein added:

“The message of this federal government is unambiguous. The message is: Join the fascist party. We’re winning.”

Robert Reich described the lack of condemnation as simple cowardice.

To most Republican legislators, government overreach is being able to not get a haircut—not attacking, injuring, and arresting members of the media and other U.S. residents, sometimes for just a photo-op.  

Tens of thousands of protesters are still marching every night, breaking curfew but being much more law abiding as some law enforcement are going after the far-right white supremacists trying to infiltrate the demonstrators and violently incite a racial civil war. Other groups are stepping in to support the attempts to preserve democracy in the United States. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the unwarranted federal use of force at the peaceful Washington, D.C. protest naming DDT, AG Bill Barr, and other federal officials as defendants.

In Minnesota, the charges against the police officer killing George Floyd with his knee has been raised to 2nd-degree murder, and the watching officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The state of Minnesota filed a human rights complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department for the murder. For decades, the city police department has faced allegations of brutality and other discrimination against blacks and other minorities, even from within the department

The ACLU is also filing lawsuits throughout the country because of attacks, assaults, and arrests of journalists.

Minneapolis Public Schools, University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to end their relationships with the police department. Schools will no longer use law enforcement as school resource officers, and the park police uniforms will be redesigned so that they don’t look like police uniforms.

Los Angeles is cutting the police department budget by to $150 million while investing in marginalized communities, including housing, health, education, and environmental projects. Before the police brutality before the protests, the proposal was an increase of seven percent. The police get 54 percent of city funds.

Throughout DDT’s declaring war on the U.S. people, he ignores COVID-19, with deaths over 110,000 and infections closing in on two million at 1,924,051 on June 4. The U.S. is almost at the top of larger countries at the per capita confirmed cases, slightly below Spain. 

November 18, 2019

Open Impeachment Inquiry Hearings: Week One

Open House impeachment inquiry hearings, instigated by a whistleblower, began last week with new revelations about the attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to use his office for his personal benefit. 

Highlights of the week:

DDT’s furious tweets impugning witnesses Marie Yovanovitch and Jennifer Williams that DDT calls “free speech” but resemble witness tampering, a conviction for Roger Stone: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, described DDT’s smear and intimidation campaign  against her for the past six months, one which made her seek safety in the U.S. and which DDT continued in tweets at the same time that she testified. His goal was to replace her in Ukraine with someone who would carry out his investigation into conspiracy theories to destroy a political opponent. DDT tweeted nothing about George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Bill Taylor, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, instead falsely attacking only two women. While GOP representatives readied themselves to leave the hearing, Yovanovitch (center right) left to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. DDT claimed he “mostly never heard of” Williams, VP Mike Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, although he called her a “Never Trumper.” She heard DDT’s phone call, but he told her to read the transcript. Williams, a career foreign service official, called DDT’s requests to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky unusual and inappropriate, especially when he specifically referred to investigations into the Bidens and mentioned the Burisma gas company.

Direct knowledge of DDT’s corruption in closed-door hearings: After Republican attacked the testimony of Bill Taylor and George Kent for mere hearsay, more witnesses testified about direct knowledge of DDT’s demands for investigation and holding up military aid. Taylor’s staffer David Holmes overheard DDT talk about the investigations in a Kiev restaurant where Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the DU, called DDT on his cell phone. The call began with Sondland’s comment to DDT that Zelensky “loves your ass” and continued with DDT asking if Zelensky was “gonna do the investigation.” Sondland answered in the affirmative and said that Zelensky will do “anything you ask him to.” Holmes heard DDT’s end of the conversation because he was so loud that Sondland held the phone away from his ear. After the call, Sondland said that DDT didn’t “give a sh*t about Ukraine,” only the “big stuff” that benefits himself such as the “Biden investigation” that Giuliani was pushing. Holmes also told about being asked to take notes for a meeting with Sondland and Zelensky’s aide Andriy Yermak before he was not allowed in the room because they didn’t want any note-taker.

Another staffer, Suriya Jayanti, also reported overhearing Sondland’s phone conversation with DDT. Bill Taylor had testified that the reference was to the Bidens and that Sondland told DDT that the Ukrainians “were ready to move forward.”

Senior White House budget official Mark Sandy also testified last week about DDT freezing the military aid to Ukraine. Laura Cooper, the Defense Department official who oversees military aid to Ukraine, had already testified that a senior OMB official had announced this hold on July 18 after all departments and agencies except OMB had signed off on the aid. Receiving no reason for the freeze, Sandy was told to sign the first of several letters freezing the funds for Ukraine, starting on July 25, the same day as DDT’s call with Zelensky. All the other letters were signed by Sandy’s boss, political appointee Michael Duffey, who said he wanted to learn more about the apportionment process. Duffey said on July 26 that the hold “relates to the President’s concerns about corruption.”

Release of new transcripts: Advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, testified that DDT pushed his shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating political opponents. Laura Cooper added that Volker demanded an investigation into specific U.S. citizens, a violation of civil liberties because it’s not based on a suspected crime but pushed by a politician. DDT went beyond an investigation into insisting on prosecutions even if evidence did not warrant them. The testimony shows that, contrary to Volker’s claims, he knew about the links of the quid pro quo as well as the Ukrainians knowing about the ultimatum before Sondland delivered it.

The transcript of Tim Morrison’s testimony describes Sondland’s actions and statements, confirming Sondland’s amendment to his original testimony after he decided he should tell the truth. Gordon Sondland, EU ambassador, operated at DDT’s request and talked to a Ukrainian about exchanging military aid for political investigations to benefit DDT. He told Yermack that if his country did not announce the investigations into the Bidens that DDT would withhold the military aid. Immediately after his conversation with Yermack, Sondland told Morrison that the prosecutor general should publicly announce he was opening the Burisma investigation. Hunter Biden had served on the company’s board while his father was working on Ukraine policy for the Obama administration. Morrison said that he didn’t remember the name “Burisma” mentioned in the July 25 phone call, but Williams, who heard the July 25 call, said that Zelensky referenced the name of the gas company. Morrison said that he told the administration to “restrict access to the package” after hearing the call between DDT and Zelensky but moving the call transcript to a highly classified system was a “mistake.”

Williams’ transcript filled in some details of Pence’s involvement in which she reported on DDT’s phone call with Zelensky and Zelensky’s concern about DDT’s withholding the military aid. She also told Pence about how DDT’s demands would benefit him far more than the country.

Today, the House released two more transcripts, those from David Holmes and David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. 

Trying to look innocent, DDT released a transcript of his first phone call with Zelensky, which Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), read into the House record. It illuminates more of DDT’s lies. The readout of the call: DDT promises to work with Zelensky to “implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.” The call: DDT’s brief congratulation for Zelensky’s election followed by a discussion of DDT’s ownership of Miss Universe and a vague invitation to the White House. Missing: Mention of general “corruption” or anti-corruption efforts and a time for the invitation. DDT refused to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, instead sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cut a business deal benefiting GOP donors in the U.S.

Federal prosecutors are investigating DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for potential campaign-finance violations; failure to register as a foreign agent; crimes with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who are charged with conspiracy, falsification of records, and lying to the FEC about political donations; participation in removing Yovanovitch from Ukraine because she obstructed Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Biden; and maybe other crimes. Giuliani is also in the midst of a divorce with his wife of 15 years, Judith Giuliani, who said, “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.” A trial is set for January because Giuliani is concealing his income.

An overview of Republicans’ attempts—and lies—to defend DDT:  

  • Ukraine interfered to help Democrats in the 2016 election.
  • Ukraine eventually got the military aid so there was no crime.  
  • Joe Biden is a bad person.
  • Witnesses aren’t credible because they don’t have firsthand information, but they want the whistleblower who didn’t have firsthand information.
  • The direct testimony isn’t related to the inquiry.
  • The impeachment is only about the July 25 phone call, and there’s nothing there.
  • Public hearings are a “sham.”
  • Hearings are boring.
  • The hearings are too hard to understand
  • The Mueller investigation was a fraud. 
  • DDT is too dumb to carry out the corruption.

Nothing on the substance of the inquiry. 

Witnesses in the upcoming week’s open hearings: Gordon Sondland, Jennifer Williams, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman (top National Security Council expert on Ukraine), Kurt D. Volker, Tim Morrison, Laura Cooper, David Hale, and Fiona Hill (a former National Security Council official with expertise in Russia). Mark Sandy will testify if he receives a subpoena. Russell Vought, acting OMB director, and Michael Duffey, OMB’s national security chief, refuse to appear of turn over documents as does acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Unhappy with State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo for months, DDT is now furious because the people Pompeo hired are testifying against DDT. A new Cabinet member may be on the horizon.

Today DDT said that he will “strongly consider” testifying in writing as part of the impeachment inquiry. If DDT can’t tell the truth, he should stay quiet: House investigators are looking into whether he lied to Robert Mueller in his written responses.  

October 6, 2019

Week 141 – Whistleblower Complaints Expand

Filed under: impeachment,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:37 PM
Tags: , ,

Last Thursday, a federal judge ordered the White House to keep evidence dealings that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has with foreign leaders, including those with Ukraine that have fueled the current impeachment inquiry into DDT’s actions. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to preserve “all records of efforts by White House or other executive branch officials to return, ‘claw back,’ ’lock down’ or recall White House records” about dealings with foreign officials. The DOJ promised that it had already taken steps to secure the records, but Jackson issued an unusual order to maintain the records with any violation resulting in sanction or criminal charge for contempt of court. The order seems to directly cover DDT because the “defendants” in the lawsuit are only the Executive Office of the President and President Donald J. Trump.

DDT’s telephone call transcripts could make for good reading, according to the worry expressed by his aides, some of them “genuinely horrified” according to Washington Post journalists. Of concern were promises that might not be kept, policies in opposition to the U.S. positions, critical alliances jeopardized because of diplomatic blunders, or pressures for a personal favor.

DDT:

  • (Ukraine) Pressured the president into investigating the Bidens to get promised military aid and meet with him.
  • (Russia) Fawned over Vladimir Putin while knowing that he interfered in the 2016 election and asked for help in making friends with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.
  • (Saudi Arabia) Pledged to help the monarchy enter the G7, the world’s leading economies that share democratic philosophy. (Russia was excluded in 2014 for violating international law after invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea.)
  • (Peru) Promised to send them a C-130 military cargo plane overnight.
  • (Ukraine) Pressured the president into investigating the Bidens to get promised military aid and meet with him.
  • (China, Turkey) Struck a cozy tone with authoritarian leaders.
  • (Philippines) Praised the president who killed thousands of suspected drug dealers without judicial involvement by telling he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
  • (Japan) Begged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to recommend him for a Novel prize.
  • (UK) Harangued Prime Minister Theresa May about money for NATO and refuted her intelligence community’s conclusion that Putin’s government had orchestrated the attempted murder and poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.

The first whistleblower who filed a complaint on August 12 and the second person with firsthand knowledge supporting the first one are no longer alone. The person’s attorney said that “multiple” whistleblowers have come forward. Meanwhile, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) hid out at his golf course yesterday and the White House today. Friday, DDT tweeted that his extortion of Ukraine “this has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens.” By Sunday, he tweeted that he wants to run “against 1% Joe Biden” and his family were “PAID OFF, pure and simple!”

Seven possible DDT criminal actions in the Ukrainian scandal:

  • Campaign Finance Violation: Seeking something of value exceeding $25,000 (a felony) for his reelection from Zelensky.
  • Bribery: A public official seeking “anything of value” for influencing a public act.
  • Honest Services Fraud: Performing an official act in exchange for personal gain.
  • Extortion: Threatening a person for a payout.
  • Witness Intimidation: Obstructing an impeachment inquiry.
  • Obstruction of Justice: Hiding records from an investigation.
  • Conspiracy: Agreeing with others to commit any of the above crimes.

The only defense of DDT on Sunday shows came from congressional GOP members and DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who sent contradictory explanations. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) shouted over Chuck Todd’s questions on Meet the Press to vehemently cite anti-media messages from Fox-generated conspiracy theories that reject knowledge from U.S. intelligence agencies, finishing with how DDT “adamantly denied” any quid pro quo. On Fox, Giuliani argued that DDT “has every right to ask countries to help us in a criminal investigation that should be undertaken.” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) used the line that DDT’s request for an investigation from China wasn’t “a real request” but dodged questions. Earlier Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claimed that DDT was only joking about the call for an investigation. Explaining the GOP support for DDT, a former administration official said, “Nobody wants to be the zebra that strays from the pack and gets gobbled up by the lion.”  

Two lesser known people, unofficial envoys reporting to Giuliani, have set up meetings for him with top Ukrainian officials. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns and used DDT to tout a new business to sell natural gas in Ukraine. They are part of the conspiracy claiming that Ukraine tried to rig the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Donations may have been funneled from foreigners. GOP lawmakers struggling with the Ukrainian scandal had expressed the wish that Giuliani would disappear.  

DDT plans to use Energy Secretary Rick Perry as a patsy to cover himself and VP Mike Pence. Although DDT claims that Perry encouraged him to make the July 25 call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the Energy Department said the encouragement to talk about energy matters, a subject not in the call according to DDT’s summary. Perry said about his conversations with Zelensky, “Not once as God as my witness, not once was a Biden name—not the former vice president, not his son ever mentioned.”

People indicate that they are tired of the word “unprecedented,” but DDT, with his massive number of lies and legal violations, fits the term. His pressure on Ukraine to investigate his opponent in a probe that has already exonerated Joe Biden may go beyond his other “unprecedented” actions. Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat who worked for Democratic and Republican administrations, tweeted about DDT’s calling on China to investigate Biden:

“This is a first in American history dating to 1789. An American President has asked our strongest adversary, a communist dictatorship, to investigate his major opponent. Let that sink in. It is corruption—morally and legally wrong.”

Four historians—Texas A&M’s Elizabeth A. Cobbs, Arizona State’s Kyle Longley, Colorado School of Mines’ Kenneth Osgood, and the University of Texas at Austin’s Jeremi Suri—agreed they’ve “never seen anything like” this DDT scandal in their investigation of books about the first 44 presidents and how they conduct U.S. foreign policy:

“Nothing really surprises us anymore.

“Until now.

“Trump’s documentary record differs dramatically from his predecessors. A worrisome thread runs through each conversation. Trump appears laser-focused on his own fortunes to the exclusion of the national security of the United States. Unfortunately, this is part of a larger and startling pattern of Trump promoting his personal agenda ahead of the nation’s interests.”

Their piece was published the day before DDT appealed to two foreign governments from the White House South Lawn to attack his political opponent. DDT creates uncharted territory.

DDT’s phone calls aren’t his only legal and impeachment problems. Acting Inspector General Rich Delmar, an independent watchdog at the Treasury Department, is examining why the IRS rejected requests from Ways and Means Chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) for DDT’s tax returns. Delmar said he didn’t know whether his inquiry will consider a complaint from a whistleblower that someone tried to improperly influence the IRS’s audits of DDT. Neal said the federal employee had “credible allegations of ‘evidence of possible misconduct’ – specifically, potential ‘inappropriate efforts to influence’ the mandatory audit program.” Neal is suing in federal court to enforce a subpoena for the records under a 1924 law allowing the heads of Congress’s tax committees to examine anyone’s private tax information. A district court has a scheduled November 6 hearing by DDT’s lawyers to have the case dismissed, and Delmar is stalling to investigate the complaint. The DOJ is also trying to delay the process.

The complaint was filed months ago, but the public didn’t learn about it until recently. The person claimed that at least one Treasury Department political appointee tried to interfere with the annual audit of DDT’s or VP Mike Pence’s tax returns. Once again, DDT claimed that the secondhand information was meaningless, but an inquiry can locate firsthand evidence. The whistleblower said that he followed his supervisors’ advice to ask for an investigation of the complaint. DDT has continually lied about reasons for not releasing his tax returns as all other presidents have done in the past.

The impeachment inquiry has driven DDT into a mad frenzy as shown by his supposed press conference with Finland’s President Saulli Niinistö on October 2. During the fiasco, DDT accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on the left of having a mental breakdown about “a call that didn’t take place” in reference to the July 25 telephone call with Zelensky that he had already discussed. The Finns are now convinced that DDT is a fool. Niinistö’s classic comment to DDT was “Mr. President, you have here a great democracy. Keep it going on.” DDT won’t do it; that responsibility is left up to the people of the United States.

August 19, 2019

Antifa Battles Fascism in Portland

Filed under: protests,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:01 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Organizer Joe Biggs of the racist, sexist, xenophobic violent white supremacy/fascist groups including Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, Three Percenters, and American Guard, some of them wearing body armor and carrying weapons, got what he wanted on the Portland (OR) downtown waterfront last Saturday—national attention for their unpermitted event. They failed in their other goal, to “exterminate” antifa, anti-fascist opposition. Before the event, members, claiming to be non-violent, posted images of beatings, knives slicing throats, and corpses in body bags on social media.

Before the rally, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) sided with white supremacists and called for “naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,’” something that doesn’t exist for domestic groups. Earlier in August, he criticized antifa for promoting what he called “supremacy” in its fight against white supremacists. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) proposed a resolution to designate antifa a domestic terrorist group (a designation given to no white supremacist groups). He claims the Rose City Antifa “explicitly rejects the authority of law enforcement officers in the United States.” Cruz will fail because antifa doesn’t kill anyone, and the U.S. uses the designation of “hate groups” for extremist organizations such as the KKK. Members of far-right extremist groups have committed 73 percent of extremist murders in the U.S. between 2009 and 2018, 

The night before the event, Joey Gibson, leader of the fascist Patriot Prayer from across the Columbia River in Washington state, turned himself in for felony rioting outside a Portland cidery but got out on bail in time to join the few hundred fascists. Six men were charged this month for violence at a bar favored by the left, and violence always marks Gibson’s frequent events in Portland. White supremacist groups such as Identity Evropa and the PDX Stormers often support Gibson’s rallies in Portland, but the Proud Boys led he August 17 event. Biggs sent threats to “antifa” after conservative writer Andy Ngo was “milkshaked”—having a drink poured over him—and punched on June 29. A police-generated rumor that the milkshakes contained concrete—a false statement—generated backlash from both right-wing media and traditional media counterparts (notably CNN) in their sympathy for Ngo. After Ngo’s appearance on Fox’s Tucker Carlson, his GoFundMe website raised more than $200,000.

Over 700 law enforcement officers from 15 agencies tried to keep the 1,300 members of opposing groups apart in an effort that cost the city millions of dollars. Outnumbered by over three to one, the fascist groups wandered for about 30 minutes before Portland police, criticized for their friendly relationships with one of he fascist groups, escorted them to a bridge blocked to the public where they marched across the Willamette River. Law enforcement willingness to accommodate groups terrorizing Portland residents for a rally with no permits in a public park may have avoided bloodshed, but it showed support for fascist protesters. The groups stayed for only an hour of their planned five-hour rally.

The counterprotest, organized by the Popular Mobilization (or PopMob) coalition of leftist groups, distributed flyers stating:

“If you oppose racism, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and the xenophobic, ultranationalist ideologies of the far right (and our current administration), you are an EVERYDAY ANTIFASCIST.

“If you are not a fascist — then you are Antifa.”

The 1,000 counterdemonstrators included local Jewish and Buddhist faith leaders and a marching band in bright yellow banana costumes. Others dressed as unicorns and pandas, blowing giant bubbles and singing along the waterfront.

Biggs said that the Proud Boys will come to Portland monthly to deplete its resources until the mayor rids the city of antifa. The Proud Boys sometimes say that their violence is only self-defense, but Biggs’ videos are violent, such as the one in which he swings a DDT-themed baseball bat that he brags will be “put to good use” in Portland. In his announcement of the rally, Biggs wore a shirt reading “Training to Throw Communists Out of Helicopters” and issued violent threats to his antifa critics:

“You’re not gonna feel safe when you go out in public. Every time you turn your shoulder or your head, you look over, you’re always gonna feel like myself or someone else is gonna be there looking, because that’s what we’re going to do. You’re scum, you’re filth, you’re anti-American socialist fucking pricks, and I’m not gonna let that shit happen in this country.”

Later Biggs tweeted his followers:

“Get a gun. Get ammo. Get your gun license. Get training. Practice as much as you can and be ready because the left isn’t playing anymore and neither should we.”

His supporters responded with memes depicting ISIS-style beheadings of antifascists with large knives. One of them said:

“I fully expect [an] armed conflict to break out on Aug. 17. People may die this is the real deal.”

Republicans have a history of supporting the violent fascist Proud Boys. Almost two years ago, the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan invited former Proud Boys to attend and their leader Gavin McInnes to speak. Following their riot outside, the Club defended the racist group and denied that the speech “was certainly not inciting violence.” Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) posed for photos with Proud Boys on the campaign trail, and Fox talk show host Tucker Carlson posed in a Fox green room with two Proud Boys and GOP operative Roger Stone who used Proud Boys as his security force at an Oregon GOP event after the Proud Boys were well-known for their Portland brawls.

Nine Proud Boys were arrested because of the Metropolitan Republican Club riot, and McInnes quit the group after the FBI classified them as an extremist organization. He said he did it to “alleviate the sentencing” of the arrested members to “show jurors they are not dealing with a gang and there’s no head of operations.” The FBI backed off from its designation because it “does not and will not police ideology.” DDT’s 2020 campaign may cause more Proud Boys violence; they prominently appear at his rallies. Proud Boys have also gone to alt-right researcher Gwen Snyder’s Philadelphia home and threatened her

Scholars of fascism note that fascist skinhead groups pose serious political threats when a mainstream political party endorses them, and they “become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi.” Conservatives cultivating or tolerating white supremacists as weapons against an eternal enemy such as immigrants raise fascist insurgency to “Stage Two.” Proud Boy lawyer Jason Lee Van Dyke said that the group has been welcomed by DDT’s GOP party. Group umbers grew after the disastrous riots at Charlottesville (VA) caused other groups to dissipate, but the 3,000 membership seems to be shrinking everywhere except in the Pacific Northwest, especially Portland, perhaps because of some police sympathy toward the group.

The white supremacist groups violently invading cities reflect the neo-Nazi skinhead gangs of the 1980s and early 1990s who controlled music venues, bars, and street corners. They recruited disaffected members of the white working class just as groups like the Proud Boys develops its presence by trolling blogs.

The conservative USA Today explains antifa, short for “anti-fascist,” as a movement, not an “organization” as DDT tweeted, because it lacks leadership and structure. The oldest alliance of anti-fascists, the ten-year-old Rose City Antifa in Portland, has been the object of attacks by fascist groups. Antifa’s goal is stopping Neo-Nazis from having its racist, sexist, homophobia public forum by confronting them and protecting counterprotesters. They “dox” fascist group members by spreading private information about them to the public and employers because “the goal of fascism is to exterminate the vast majority of human beings.”

Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, emphasized the importance of publicizing fascist believes to blunt their growth:

“We should be wary of those who are more distressed about alleged violations of the speech of fascists than the actual violence they perpetrate.”

Bray writes about the importance of stopping fascist groups before they take over countries. Bloodshed could have been avoided by blocking Mussolini in 1919 when his nucleus had only 100 men or the 54 members of German Workers’ Party at Hitler’s first meeting. Earlier intervention might have prevented the murder of heather Heyer at Charlottesville.

A counterprotester said:

“If we ignore fascism, it emboldens fascism, and we must confront fascism with all necessary force, even if that just means showing up and saying, ‘You’re not welcome here.’”

Despite the protesters against fascists outnumbering the opposition over three to one, the fascists declared the event a victory for them—probably because the man they call the president of the United States sided with them and not with opponents of fascism. Counterprotesters might have wanted more fascists to attend the event: they collected pledges of money for each one who attended. Proceeds went to Causa, a local group that helps protect local undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Two days later, the gathering of 300 fascists in Portland seems a flash in the pan as DDT struggles against the reality of a possible recession, angers from farmers loss of income, calls for gun safety legislation, crises around the world, and his disastrous polls.  

March 3, 2019

Religion, GOP’s Desperate Hypocrisy for Control

Yesterday, I wrote about the values of Republicans who attacked Michael Cohen, former fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during testimony before the House Oversight Committee hearing. Walter Einenkel, social media editor and writer on Daily Kos, has produced a compilation of their specific values. The following are all GOP committee members who attacked Cohen’s character. Their behavior reflects their personal values:

  • Jim Jordan (R-OH): He denies the allegation of complicity in multiple sexual assaults against athletes while he was assistant coach, but the accusations are credible. The other congressional Republicans protected him.
  • Clay Higgins (R-LA): He resigned his job as an Opelousas (LA) police officer to avoid disciplinary action for using “unnecessary force on a subject during the execution of a warrant and later lied during an internal investigation.”
  • Virginia Foxx (R-NC): She claimed that she didn’t know that “tar baby” is a racial slur and that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not a hate crime, but instead “a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing [hate crimes] bills.”
  • Jody Hice (R-GA): He wants to remove Muslims from any First Amendment protections with the claim that Islam is not a religion.
  • Mark Green (R-TN): He said that people should get their health care from God, not Medicaid, and his disparaging comments about Muslims and LGBTQ people are so extreme that he had to withdraw his nomination for DDT’s Secretary of the Army.
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ): His seven siblings opposed his election and supported his opponent, perhaps because he subscribes to conspiracy theories such as Jewish Holocaust survivor George Soros funded and organized the neo-Nazi movement in the U.S., including the violent rallies in Charlottesville (VA) and most recently said that climate change doesn’t exist because of “photosynthesis.” He’s the one who said, in his adult fashion, “liar, liar, pants on fire” to Cohen during the hearing.
  • Thomas Massie (R-KY): He met with Maria Butina, arrested for being a Russian spy.
  • Mark Meadows (R-NC): He lied about having a college degree and claimed that he wasn’t a racist during the hearing although he campaigned as a “birther” while President Obama was running for a second term.
  • Ralph Norman (R-SC): He pulled out a gun at a townhall meeting and left it lying on the table in front of him in violation of state law, but high-level friendly officials exonerated his actions.
  • Bob Gibbs (R-OH): He compared serving in Congress to serving in the military to wipe out his veteran opponent and sent fliers to influence the Democratic primary.
  • Glenn Grothman (R-WI): He has a long history of saying crazy things such as marriage equality should be illegal because it does a disservice to men who fought in the Civil War and college Pell Grants “discourage marriage.”
  • James Comer (R-KY): He was sued for threatening a senior state legislative staffer who reported allegations of sexual harassment to his superiors while they were both in state legislature.
  • Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): He has a history of driving infractions—a DUI conviction in 2001 that he tried to get out of and more recent citations for using a wireless communication device while driving and speeding in North Dakota.

That’s over two-thirds of the GOP members of the Oversight Committee who failed to defend DDT’s actions in exchange for smearing Cohen throughout his testimony. The other five members are new—first or second term—and standard far-right, Christianity only, gun-loving, climate deniers.

Christian Republicans elsewhere are standing up for their religion.

Some of them celebrated West Virginia GOP Day with a poster connecting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to the terrorism of 9/11 because she is a Muslim. The arguments about the image in the capitol rotunda became so heated that the state House’s sergeant at arms, Anne Lieberman, resigned after her anti-Muslim remark and another person was injured. Last month, a West Virginia legislator was called on to resign after he called LGBTQ groups “the closest thing to political terrorism in America” and “a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.” It’s the state that believes in freedom of religion—if the religion is Christianity.

In December 2018, a girl was bullied after her mother sued the Mercer County School District for teaching the Bible as fact.

Fundamentalist Christians have become so rigid that they think even Catholics don’t deserve religious freedom. DDT’s waiver permitting a South Carolina foster care agency to discriminate kept same-gender parents from becoming caregivers for children; now the agency is discriminating against a Catholic because of her faith. The Catholic woman was not only rejected as a foster parent but also told that she could not volunteer with the agency because it wanted only the “right type of Protestant church.” The biggest foster care agency in the state, Miracle Hill Ministries refused to work with a Jewish family in 2017. The governor rescued them with an executive order allowing the government-supported agency to discriminate, and Miracle got its federal waiver from the federal Department of Health and Human Services in January. This sentence in Miracle’s foster care manual may need revision:

 “In accordance with Federal and State laws and South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) policy, this agency and contracted providers for foster care and adoption services are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability.”

During the past ten years, the number of South Carolina home placements has been flat while the number of children in foster care has spiked. In addition, South Carolina law requires that foster children receive religious education “in accordance with the expressed wishes of the child’s natural parents.” The exemptions for Miracle permits it to “effectively terminate biological parents’ rights to direct their children’s religious upbringing while those children are in the care of the child-placement agency or a foster family,” according to a lawsuit. Another lawsuit is challenging Michigan’s “license to discriminate” law for adoption agencies.

The evangelical legal service Alliance Defending Freedom is suing on the behalf of homeless shelter Hope Center in Anchorage (AK) for the “right” to deny assistance to transgender people. The shelter wants an exemption from the city to discriminate in violation of its law and say that charities should be able to deny access if they want. Assistant municipal attorney Ryan Stuart said that the suit has not proceeded because Hope Center refused to cooperate with the investigation. Rather than being threats, transgender people are the most likely targets of physical and sexual abuse.

In his speech at last week’s conservative CPAC conference, VP Mike Pence said that “freedom of religion” is under attack, and the above examples prove that he’s right. What he wants, however, is freedom of evangelical religion to oppress all others. Pence’s religion is attacking LGBTQ rights, denying health care to people, limiting medical providers to communicating only his own non-medical beliefs, keeping children from finding good homes, rejecting scientific education for young people, in short, complete control of all people in the United States with his far-right Christian sexist, racist, homophobic beliefs.

Many times, I’m proud to live in Oregon, and this week is one of those times. The City Council for the state’s largest city, Portland, unanimously approved a measure giving civil rights protections for atheist, agnostic, and other nonreligious residents in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Madison (WI) may be the only other city in the United states with similar protections.

What a strange country where people have rights–or no rights–based on where they live.

 

September 25, 2018

The GOP Strategy on Sexual Assault

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that his Supreme Court nominee is “fantastic, fantastic.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s response to DDT’s “grabbing women by the pussy”: http://goprapeadvisorychart.com/

AG Jeff Sessions’ response:

Former RNC chair and DDT’s press secretary Sean Spicer:

State Rep. Lawrence Lockman (ME) weighs in:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate:

Former Texas state Rep. Myra Crownover agrees:

[Florida law:

Another perspective about attacks:

Plan ahead for attacks:

And so many more.

July 31, 2017

The Shrinking Republican Brain

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: ,

In the mid-twentieth century, Republicans represented the elite and intelligentsia. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a rational person who managed to provide the United States with the interstate. With the onset of actor Ronald Reagan, the GOP joined the evangelicals for power and lost its smarts—and its ability to lead. In his column, Paul Krugman asks, “Who ate Republicans brains?” and covers the changes in the past half century. 

When the tweeter-in-chief castigated Senate Republicans as “total quitters” for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, they showed zombie-like relentlessness in their determination to take health care away from millions of Americans, shambling forward despite devastating analyses by the Congressional Budget Office, denunciations of their plans by every major medical group, and overwhelming public disapproval.

Put it this way: Senator Lindsey Graham was entirely correct when he described the final effort at repeal as “terrible policy and horrible politics,” a “disaster” and a “fraud.” He voted for it anyway — and so did 48 of his colleagues.

So where did this zombie horde come from? Who ate Republicans’ brains?

As many people have pointed out, when it came to health care Republicans were basically caught in their own web of lies. They fought against the idea of universal coverage, then denounced the Affordable Care Act for failing to cover enough people; they made “skin in the game,” i.e., high out-of-pocket costs, the centerpiece of their health care ideology, then denounced the act for high deductibles. When they finally got their chance at repeal, the contrast between what they had promised and their actual proposals produced widespread and justified public revulsion.

But the stark dishonesty of the Republican jihad against Obamacare itself demands an explanation. For it went well beyond normal political spin: for seven years a whole party kept insisting that black was white and up was down.

And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.

The right’s intellectual and moral collapse didn’t happen all at once. For a while, conservatives still tried to grapple with real problems. In 1989, for example, The Heritage Foundation offered a health care plan strongly resembling Obamacare. That same year, George H. W. Bush proposed a cap-and-trade system to control acid rain, a proposal that eventually became law.

But looking back, it’s easy to see the rot spreading. Compared with Donald Trump, the elder Bush looks like a paragon — but his administration lied relentlessly about rising inequality. His son’s administration lied consistently about its tax cuts, pretending that they were targeted on the middle class, and — in case you’ve forgotten — took us to war on false pretenses.

And almost the entire G.O.P. either endorsed or refused to condemn the “death panels” slander against Obamacare.

Given this history, the Republican health care disaster was entirely predictable. You can’t expect good or even coherent policy proposals from a party that has spent decades embracing politically useful lies and denigrating expertise.

And let’s be clear: we’re talking about Republicans here, not the “political system.”

Democrats aren’t above cutting a few intellectual corners in pursuit of electoral advantage. But the Obama administration was, when all is said and done, remarkably clearheaded and honest about its policies. In particular, it was always clear what the A.C.A. was supposed to do and how it was supposed to do it — and it has, for the most part, worked as advertised.

Now what? Maybe, just maybe, Republicans will work with Democrats to make the health system work better — after all, polls suggest that voters will, rightly, blame them for any future problems. But it wouldn’t be easy for them to face reality even if their president wasn’t a bloviating bully.

And it’s hard to imagine anything good happening on other policy fronts, either. Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.

May 10, 2017

Jason Chaffetz: Epitome of the GOP

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:10 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) may be almost gone, but he will live on as the epitome of the GOP leadership. Vinson Cunningham describes some of his characteristics, and photographer Bill Clark captured a representative image.

Chaffetz seemed like an independent person last October when Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) revealed his privileged sense of depravity by talking about indiscriminately  grabbing “pussy.” In response, Chaffetz seemed to take the high road when he rescinded his endorsement of DDT:

“My wife and I, we have a fifteen-year-old daughter, and if I can’t look her in the eye and tell her these things, I can’t endorse this person.”

At that time he also had much more to say about the “awful place” the nominee had put the country in and his “abhorrent and offensive” language, but his position about DDT lasted only two and a half weeks before the 180-degree turned Chaffetz into a DDT supporter. His excuse was that Hillary Clinton was “that bad.” As House Oversight chairman, he has focused for years on trying to make Clinton’s life miserable in endless Benghazi inquisitions. None of the expensive endeavors turned up any illegal action, but Chaffetz isn’t through. Returning from re-election this past January, Chaffetz opened an investigation into Clinton’s emails, hoping for criminal charges, and Comey’s firing inspired him to expand the scope of his search for something—anything—that might be illegal in Clinton’s private server.

Faced with unconstitutional conflict of interest charges for DDT, Chaffetz mentally shrugged his shoulders and said, “He’s already rich. He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.” Pushed to investigate the $400 million deal between Jared Kushner’s family and the Chinese, Chaffetz said:

“I don’t see how that affects the average American and their taxpayer dollars. Just the fact that a staff person’s family is making money? It’s not enough.”

Chaffetz referred to “these other little intrigues about a wealthy family making money” as “a bit of a sideshow.”

Soon after DDT’s inauguration, Chaffetz proposed a bill that would allow Republicans to sell off public lands. A bipartisan backlash caused him to say that he was withdrawing the bill because his constituents objected. That was February 2. Eight days later the bill was referred to a subcommittee.

During public appearances during “Trumpcare”s first attempt this year, Chaffetz maintained that people could pay for their health care if they didn’t buy a new iPhone. First, the cost of an iPhone won’t pay for health care. But then came the discovery that Chaffetz’s $738 iPhone—and its services—came from campaign funds. This would be illegal if he used it for person business, but he hasn’t answered any questions about whether he does. Then came his attack on Rosie O’Donnell after Chaffetz’s Democratic opponent for 2018, Kathryn Allen, raised over $200,000 in just two days.

Another part of Chaffetz’s history is his failure to become a Secret Service agent. He claimed that he was rejected because he was too old, but then-Assistant Director Edward Lowery sent an email saying about his application, “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out. Just to be fair.”

The kitchen apparently got too hot for Chaffetz at an April town hall meeting in his home Utah district. The people who attended scolded him for not investigating administration corruption, including DDT’s appointment of Michael Flynn for national security adviser. Chaffetz whined about how his constituents in his deep red district were there only to “bully and intimidate” him and called them “paid protesters.” Then he said he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2018 and might even leave Congress before then. Chaffetz claimed that he wanted to return to the private sector and be with his family. “I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” he said in an interview. And then he avoided Congress and his constituents by a month-long leave after foot surgery. Distancing himself from DDT at this time could let him run for governor or even president in 2020.

The House was so desperate for votes on their cruel “repeal and replace” health care bill that Chaffetz showed up on an expensive metallic scooter to cast his vote denying tens of millions of people the same health insurance that he will keep. His district is in the top ten of districts with the most people relying on the Affordable Care Act. Clark’s photograph perfectly presents the GOP cruelty of a “repeal and replace” vote for ACA in the House with the slick, gleeful Chaffetz framed against marble walls and elaborate chandeliers.

With Clinton in the White House, Chaffetz could have stayed gleeful while the Fox network filmed him constantly leading highly visible investigations about Clinton’s conflicts of interests and abuses of power. Like many other Republicans, Chaffetz hasn’t figured out how to work in a government controlled by the GOP. They are accustomed to dealing with opposition in a world where they preen in front of the cameras as victims; they don’t know what to do when the opposition comes from within. Even worse for the Republicans is that the corruption comes their own party—and much of it from their own president.

Stephanie Mencimer writes: “Jason Chaffetz is so ambitious that his last name is a verb.” She explains that “to Chaffetz” means to throw a former mentor under the bus to move ahead, something that people such as presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. and House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Other Republicans carry Chaffetzing farther. DDT claimed that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, had come to DDT asking for Comey’s firing, but people familiar with the occurrence said that DDT summoned the two of them to the White House after he decided to fire Comey. They followed his orders, and DDT tried to put the blame on them when the scheme backfired.

According to over 30 White House officials, however, DDT had become increasingly furious about Comey’s appearing in public, especially to talk about Russian involvement in U.S. politics, especially during the past week. The Washington Post has provided extensive information about events leading up to the firing and such questions as why Sessions was involved in the firing when he recused himself from anything dealing with Clinton’s emails, the ostensible reason for the firing, and Russia, the probably reason behind the firing.

The firing and the GOP support behind him reflects how Chaffetz views his job—that he has sworn allegiance to the Republican party over any loyalty to his country. The question is how long the Republicans will continue to support DDT over their country’s best interests. In an analysis of senators’ responses, only 12 of them actively defended DDT for the firing while another fifteen said that DDT’s actions raised concerns about a lack of information or the timing of the firing. Another 21 senators were vague, likely waiting to see which way they should jump after the dust settles. This is the congressional body responsible for confirming the replacement for Comey. Much to DDT’s amazement, the Democrats were overwhelming angry about the firing because of its apparent intent to stop the investigation into his relationship with Russia.

DDT’s possible business dealings with Russia may be the major issue that emerged from Monday’s Senate hearing and Comey’s firing. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if he had any “concern” about a DDT business interest in Russia. Clapper’s ultimate answer upon being pressed is that he could not comment on that question “because that impact an investigation.” That was an open hearing; the Judiciary Committee may pursue the question in closed meetings.  Thus far, there is a murky background to DDT’s Russia business interests that he has denied.

Basically, Chaffetz well represents the Republican leadership—cruel, self-centered, hypocritical, cowardly, dishonest, ignorant, and loyal only to those who can give him something. We’ll watch him to see where he pops up next.

August 24, 2015

The GOP Created Trump’s Adoring Public

 

Unlike the general media, I’ve avoided writing much about Donald Trump. The media, while decrying all the attention that he gets, have been using up the oxygen in the GOP presidential candidate field with its concentration on The Donald. Prime example is Meet the Press, with “I-hate-the-Trump-attention” Chuck Todd who talks about little else now.

Personally, I think that Trump has done a service by showing how they will say anything to get public approval. His position that babies born in the United States to immigrants—as Jeb Bush would say, “anchor babies”—should not be citizens despite the edict of the U.S. Constitution infected most of the GOP field. Just one candidate, Scott Walker, switched his opinion on the subject three times in the past week. Last Monday, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Walker if he wanted to end the 14th Amendment’s automatic citizenship to all children born in the U.S.  He answered, “Yeah, absolutely, going forward.” He said, “It’s about enforcing the laws in this country.” By Friday, he wouldn’t take a position on the question, and on ABC’s This Week yesterday, he stuck to “enforce the laws.” This time, however, he picked the U.S. Constitution, opposite to his laws a week ago. Once first in Iowa, Walker has dropped to third of fourth.

Like others, Walker imitates Trump with claims that he is not part of the GOP Washington establishment and wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants. Despite his assertions, he’s adopted these positions since Trump’s popularity. Walker also plans to be more spontaneous—not exactly a spontaneous comment.

Ben Carson said that he wanted to use drones against undocumented immigrants although he backed down to say he didn’t want to intentionally kill them. Bobby Jindal wants to arrest mayors of the so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t exist. Rick Santorum joined Jindal and Lindsey Graham in jettisoning the 14th Amendment for citizenship. More despicable comments came from Iowa radio host, Jan Mickelson, who first wanted to make undocumented immigrants “assets” and then “slaves.”

Rand Paul attacked Trump for being a “fake conservative” and lacking substance. Trump would fail, according to Paul, just like Silvio Berlusconi—who served three terms as Italy’s prime minister. Pretending to be the leader in the race, Jeb Bush first ignored Trump, then he patronized him, and finally attacked Trump, perhaps under directions by his donors. Bush’s ratings just keep going down. Having watched the venom directed at other attackers, Ted Cruz stays nice to him and agrees with him about doing away with blanket citizenship for babies born in the U.S.

No matter what the opposition does, Trump’s ratings keep going up. An online survey showed 32 percent of Republicans backing Trump, up from 24 percent last week, and double the support for Bush. Carson comes in at 8 percent. A CNN survey shows that 45 percent of Republicans think that Trump is the best candidate to improve the economy while Bush, the next closest contender, trails at 8 percent.

A month ago, Timothy Egan wrote a piece for the New York Times that is rather prescient when he explained that Republicans so terrified and appalled by Trump actually created the campaign monster that they cannot control. Those protesting denigrating veterans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t rich, fail to recognize that the protesters have ignored facts and reason in their march toward an oligarchy. When the GOP tries to make itself look respectable, they claim that they are the party of Abraham Lincoln, but that claim is true in name only—not ideology. As Republicans in Congress work to start another war in the Middle East, they neglect GOP President Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the U.S. becoming influenced by a military industrial complex.

Trump is the brand of the crazies cherished by the GOP media. Early in President Obama’s first presidential term, the media cheered when a GOP representative, Joe Wilson, stood up at the president’s State of the Union speech to shout, “You lie!” Brian Williams wrote about the “change in mood” surrounding the president’s speeches after the most recent SOTU:

“[J]ust the general din, the chatter, people making comments, the laughter that followed the applause after he said he was not running for office anymore, his line designed to answer back, I don’t know, in the windup of the speech, looking at the wording, was intended to be a call to our better selves, a call to a better era from a system thoroughly broken.”

Just as Republicans justified the right to rudeness toward the president, Trump gains ratings with the same offensive disrespect toward anyone who tries to get in his way. The GOP supported the hatred pointed at the president, but Trump has made it intramural. Trump said that POW John McCain was not a war hero, and Republicans fought back. Bush demanded “respect and admiration” for McCain. Yet 11 years ago, the Republicans smeared a Navy veteran with a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts, and no Republicans supported John Kerry’s war record. As Florida governor, Jeb Bush used official stationery to praise the men who orchestrated the smear campaign against then-presidential candidate Kerry.

The last Republican to show any “respect” was McCain when he refuted a woman’s claim that presidential candidate Barack Obama was an “Arab” during the 2008 campaign. The crowd booed McCain’s response that his opponent was “a decent person.”

Trump knew that his racist comments about Mexicans would not cause him problems because Rep. Steve King was re-elected after he said undocumented immigrants had “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Yet half the presidential candidates spoke at King’s Freedom Summit in January. In July, Rick Perry called the public response to Trump, “a toxic mix of demagogy, meanspiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if followed.” He was one of King’s speakers and said nothing about King’s racist remarks. Perry was also the governor who said that Texas might have to secede from the United States.

Comments to Egan’s piece:

“I’m old enough to remember that back when I was a child, the democrats preached hate. Then all the bigots changed parties, I think because when LBJ became president he signed the civil rights act, and all the bigots fled to the republican party. Same philosophy, different party. Trump like all white male politicians of the 50s and 60s, says to blame minorities for everything, crime, poverty, etc., so that people do not blame the politicians, the white males in power, for their actions. I was amazed in the 60s when I went to Berkeley and found that people said the same things about Mexicans there that the people here in the South said about blacks. Always blame anyone but the white male politicians is the rule. And it works too often.”

“They fail to understand that what they sense—the complete failure and fiction of 40-years of ‘trickle down’ economics which has resulted in the decimation of a once vital middle class—is actually the result of a deeply flawed, failed Republican ideology. So they scapegoat. They blame the people who have even less—the ‘takers,’ the ‘moochers’—you know, the poor, immigrants, people on disability, the unemployed. Their self-loathing and their ignorance makes them vote against their own interests, and has them looking for a savior–a rich, self-made man.”

“I’m a Vietnam vet. The line we crossed was Vietnam. We waged war for the profit built into every bullet. There is nothing we won’t do for money. What goes around comes around. The insanity in our society is the result of living with that elephant in the room for several generations.”

“Sen. Graham asked other Republicans to call out Trump’s initial hateful comments because they are bad for the party. But how about calling them out because they simply are toxic for the country? How about saying that it is wrong to encourage fear of immigrants and of Mexicans, that no group deserves to be reduced to rapists and drug dealers?”

“The news media has finally found something that scares them more than a nuclear- armed Iran, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and his name is Donald Trump.”

With Trump consuming the media, GOP standard bearers such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Michael Barone are forced to spend valuable newspaper inches fighting him while Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Breitbart form the cheering section for Trump’s lack of “political correctness” (aka incivility). The establishment is failing to support its positions of cutting Social Security, increasing immigration, and expanding free trade. A past GOP would have a backroom with people who could destroy Trump, but now the Tea Party is the tail wagging the elephant. People don’t want rules and don’t want to be careful of what they say. Trump gives them permission to follow their basest needs, and the GOP doesn’t know what to do about it.

In another piece of craziness, Bill Kristol suggests Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, among others, to be the 18th GOP Presidential candidate, joining ten governors and four U.S. senators. Think Progress has called Alito, “the most partisan justice” on the current court.

August 4, 2015

We Should Fear GOP Ignorance

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 7:37 PM
Tags: , ,

During some of the darkest days of the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” As William Saletan writes in this article about the congressional debate on the Iran deal, we now need to fear the possibility of the Republicans winning the White House and taking over the entire federal government. I have paraphrased his article below.

Instead of showing that they are ready for responsibilities of national security and foreign policy, Republicans have participated in “a spectacle of dishonesty, incomprehension, and inability to cope with the challenges of a multilateral world.” According to Saletan, the danger comes from the interrogators.

“In challenging [Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Energy Secretary Ernest] Moniz, Republican senators and representatives offered no serious alternative. They misrepresented testimony, dismissed contrary evidence, and substituted vitriol for analysis. They seemed baffled by the idea of having to work and negotiate with other countries. I came away from the hearings dismayed by what the GOP has become in the Obama era. It seems utterly unprepared to govern.”

“Here are the lowlights of what you missed” in the 11 hours of hearings on July 23, 28, and 29:

  1. North Korea. In all three hearings, Kerry explained how the inspection and verification measures in the Iran deal are designed to rectify flaws that led to the failure of the North Korean nuclear agreement. He spent much of his opening statement outlining these differences. This made no impression. When the Senate held its next hearing a week later, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presiding Republican, dismissed the Iran agreement with a quip: “How did that North Korean deal work out for you?”
  2.  Israel. As evidence that the Iran deal is bad, Republicans point to criticism from Israel. But they seem more interested in the rhetoric of Israeli politicians than in the judgments of Israeli security experts. Kerry read from an article that quoted supportive statements about the deal from the former leaders of two Israeli intelligence agencies. Republicans batted the quotes away. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming scoffed, “That wasn’t even in the newspaper. That was a blog post.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina dismissed the statements as irrelevant because they didn’t come from elected officials. Why listen to experts when you can rely instead on quotes from politicians?
  1. The IAEA’s “secret deal.” Kerry and Moniz have repeatedly explained that the International Atomic Energy Agency, which enforces nuclear conduct agreements, publicly evaluates each country’s compliance but keeps some details about inspection logistics private. The IAEA briefs other governments about its procedures but doesn’t give them the logistical documents. Republicans, having shrugged at this policy for decades, are suddenly outraged. Many of them seem to think the Obama administration is colluding with Iran and the IAEA. They claim that Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, has seen the IAEA’s Iran documents but won’t show them to Congress. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas asserted that Rice “said that she has seen this deal with the IAEA.” Kerry corrected him: “Susan Rice’s quote is, ‘We know their contents, and we’re satisfied with them. We will share the contents of those briefings in full and classified sessions with Congress.’ She has not seen them. She has been briefed on them.”

Kerry’s clarification should have settled the matter. But it didn’t. The next day, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma grilled Kerry” and constantly insisted that Rice had said she say the deal with IAEA. In attempting to quote Rice, Inhofe actually quoted Congressman Poe and then refused to understand, saying, “Who is quoting her. This is quotation marks.” He was actually quoting Poe’s misinterpretations.

  1. EMPs. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked Moniz about a 2008 commission report on EMPs, electromagnetic pulses, which could be triggered by nuclear detonations and could knock out the U.S. power grid. Moniz, the former chairman of MIT’s physics department, has spent his career working in nuclear science. He told Johnson that he was unfamiliar with the report but that “if you look at our Quadrennial Energy Review published in April, we do identify EMP as a risk to transformers, and we are beginning to try to work up a response to that.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas used this exchange to portray Moniz as an idiot. (Cruz finished his grilling by not allowing Moniz to answer a question and then saying, “OK. You’re refusing to answer the question.”
  1. Sanctions. Kerry uses the phrase snapback to describe how sanctions are automatically re-imposed if any permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, or Russia) decides Iran has violated its obligations. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska berated Kerry for using this term, since, although the agreement outlines this procedure, it doesn’t literally include the word snapback. Sullivan also argued that the term was misleading because, in originally building the sanctions, it “took years to get countries to divest out of the Iranian economy. It’ll take years to do it again.” But Sullivan ignored the implication of his own argument: As Kerry has said all along, the unhappiness of our allies about having to enforce these sanctions, let alone China and Russia, is why the sanctions won’t last if we reject these countries’ terms for the deal.
  1. Pariahs. Republicans accuse Kerry and Obama of isolating them by agreeing to terms that suit our allies but don’t suit Congress. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told Kerry, “You have turned Iran from being a pariah to now Congress being a pariah.” Sen. James Risch of Idaho offered the same complaint: “These negotiations have taken us from a situation where we had Iran exactly where we wanted them to now, if we don’t go along with this, then we are going to be the isolated pariah character.” The Iran talks involved seven countries. Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Ed Royce chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Yet Royce protested that the deal gave Russia and China “a say in where inspectors can and cannot go,” failing to understand that international sanctions require international support. When everyone else in the talks finds terms they can agree on, we can’t hold out for our own terms and expect sanctions to persist.
  1. Bad guys. Republicans think that because Iran is dangerous, we shouldn’t negotiate with it. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one of the most outspoken critics of any deal, has consistently hammered this point. Rep. Randy Weber of Texas repeatedly used the phrase “bad actor” to dismiss Iran and the idea of negotiating with it. Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan invoked a motto from his business career: “You can’t do a good deal with a bad guy.” These are people who revere Ronald Reagan, who negotiated with the Soviet Union.
  1. Indifference. Republicans think it’s weak and softheaded to care what Iran thinks. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania told Kerry we should demand a better deal, “and if the ayatollah doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to negotiate it, oh, ‘boo-hoo.’ We’re here for America.” Weber, speaking for others in his party, ridiculed Kerry’s concerns about Iranian distrust of the U.S.: “Me and my colleagues were up here thinking, ‘Who cares?’ ” When Kerry replied that the Iranians wouldn’t have negotiated on Weber’s terms, the congressman scoffed, “Oh, my heart pains for them.” A negotiator’s job consists of understanding, caring about, and accommodating the other side’s concerns.
  1. Winning. Graham is running for president as a foreign-policy expert. But three hours of testimony on Wednesday about the difficulties of using military force to stop Iran’s nuclear program taught him nothing. Wrapping up the hearing, Graham demanded that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter answer a simple question: “Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?” When he didn’t get the prompt answer he wanted, Graham thunderously answered the question himself: “We win!” He sounded like a football coach delivering a pep talk. The differences between football and war—what “winning” means, and what it costs—didn’t enter into his equation.
  1. Patriotism. You might think that Kerry’s service in Vietnam—a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts—would deter Republicans from challenging his patriotism. But you’d be wrong. At the House hearing, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York lectured Kerry: “A lot of Americans have fought and died to make our country the greatest nation in the world. And you, sir, respectfully, you don’t have the power to surrender our greatness.” Cruz, who has never served a day in uniform, ended the Wednesday Senate hearing with this remarkable assault on the secretary of state:

Cruz: Gen. Soleimani, the head of the al-Quds forces, has more blood of American service members on his hands than any living terrorist. Under this agreement, the sanctions under Gen. Soleimani are lifted. Now, Secretary Kerry said to the families of those men and women who gave their lives, who were killed by Gen. Soleimani, we should apologize. …

Kerry: Sir, I never said the word apology. I never mentioned apologize. I said we should thank them for their extraordinary service. I never said the word apologize. Please, don’t distort my words.

Cruz: Secretary Kerry, it is duly noted you don’t apologize to the family members of the service members who were murdered by the Iranian military.

Kerry: That’s not what I said, senator. [I said] I thank them for their extraordinary service and I would remind them that the United States of America will never take the sanctions off Qasem Soleimani.

Cruz: Sir, I just want to clarity. Do you apologize or not?

Saletan finished, “There’s plenty more I could quote to you. But out of mercy, and in deference to the many dead and retired Republicans who took foreign policy seriously, I’ll stop. This used to be a party that saw America’s leadership of the free world as its highest responsibility. What happened? And why should any of us entrust it with the presidency again?”

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