So called “Democratic” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has just announced he will not support HR1, the critical voting rights protection and expansion bill already passed by the House of Representatives. “I believe Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about protecting the ballot boxes allowing people to protect the right to vote making it accessible making it fair and making it secure,” Manchin told ABC News’ Rachel Scott. Republicans in at least 11 states have passed into law voter suppression bills, some of which literally reduce the number of ballot boxes, and access to those boxes, dramatically. Manchin, who is more conservative than Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, voiced support for the far less comprehensive John Lewis Voting Rights Act, saying, “if we apply that to all 50 states and territories, it’s something that can be done — it should be done.” “It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system,” he added, ignoring that the ones who destroyed confidence in the voting system are the Republicans. On Tuesday Republicans on the Senate Rules Committee deadlocked the vote for the For the People Act, legislation that not only would secure voter protections but address rampant Republican gerrymandering as well as regulate dangerous dark money in politics. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer now will need at least one Republican to support the For the People Act if it is to even get to the floor for a vote. Most political analysts say that given there is legislation in 48 states to suppress the vote, if Democrats don’t pass HR1, they will lose both the House and the Senate next year.
“The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s,” the Never Trumper conservative Tom Nichols laments. “I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.”
In the late 1970s, Nichols explains, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev — was “a spent force” run by “party ideologues” who stubbornly clung to Marxist-Leninist dogma. Brezhnev’s cronies, Nichols recalls, considered him a “heroic genius.”
“Members of the Communist Party who questioned anything, or expressed any sign of unorthodoxy, could be denounced by name, or more likely, simply fired,” Nichols notes. “They would not be executed — this was not Stalinism, after all — but some were left to rot in obscurity in some make-work exile job, eventually retiring as a forgotten ‘comrade pensioner.’ The deal was clear: pump the party’s nonsense and enjoy the good life, or squawk and be sent to manage a library in Kazakhstan. This should all sound familiar.”
Just as the Marxist-Leninist ideologues of the late 1970s rallied around Brezhnev, Nichols argues, the Republican Party of 2021 is rallying around Trump.
“Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished,” Nichols observes. “The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.”
The Soviet Communist Party didn’t collapse in 1978 or 1979, but it did collapse in the early 1990s — even Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms of the 1980s couldn’t save the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. Modern-day Russia is now ruled by a right-wing authoritarian, President Vladimir Putin, and embraces crony capitalism and corporate oligarchs rather than communism. And according to Nichols, the Republican Party of the United States is, like the old Soviet Communist Party, terminally ill.
But the more marginal the GOP becomes in the months ahead, Nichols predicts, the more dangerously authoritarian it will become.
“A dying party can still be a dangerous party,” Nichols warns. “The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia. The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid.”
In 2021, Nichols laments, the GOP has passed the point of no return and can only sink deeper and deeper into the abyss.
“Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform,” Nichols writes. “Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the ‘dustbin of history.'”
Despicable Trump just opened up all 16.7 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted 10-28-2020, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.
As of Thursday, it will be legal for logging companies to build roads and cut and remove timber throughout more than 9.3 million acres of forest — featuring old-growth stands of red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. The relatively-pristine expanse is also home to plentiful salmon runs and imposing fjords. The decision, which will be published in the Federal Register, reverses protections President Bill Clinton put in place in 2001 and is one of the most sweeping public lands rollbacks Trump has enacted.
For years, federal and academic scientists have identified Tongass as an ecological oasis that serves as a massive carbon sink while providing key habitat for wild Pacific salmon and trout, Sitka black-tailed deer and myriad other species. It boasts the highest density of brown bears in North America, and its trees — some of which are between 300 and 1,000 years old — absorb at least 8 percent of all the carbon stored in the entire Lower 48′s forests combined.
While tropical rainforests are the lungs of the planet, the Tongass is the lungs of North America,” Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with the Earth Island Institute’s Wild Heritage project, said in an interview. “It’s America’s last climate sanctuary.”
While Trump has repeatedly touted his commitment to planting trees through the One Trillion Tree initiative, invoking it as recently as last week, his administration has sought to expand logging in Alaska and in the Pacific Northwest throughout his presidency. Federal judges have blocked several of these plans as illegal: Last week, the administration abandoned its appeal of a ruling that struck down a 1.8 million-acre timber sale on the Tongass’s Prince of Wales Island.
Alaska Republicans — including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Sen. Dan Sullivan, who is locked in a tight reelection race — lobbied Trump to exempt the state from the roadless rule on the grounds that it could help the economy in Alaska’s southeast. Fishing and tourism account for 26 percent of regional employment, according to the Southeast Conference, a regional business group, compared with timber’s 1 percent.
When Sullivan briefed Trump on the Tongass earlier this year, according to an individual familiar with the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly, Trump asked him, “How the [expletive] do you have an economy without roads?”
Asked about the exchange, the White House declined to comment.
Southeast Alaska’s economy has taken an enormous hit during the pandemic. Robert Venables, the executive director of the Southeast Conference, said in an interview that though 1.4 million cruise passengers typically visit the region each summer, that number dropped to just 48 this summer. The area’s fisheries also have suffered because of climate change, and the global economic crisis hurt seafood prices.
“The economy is collapsing,” he said, adding that the Trump administration’s action might allow loggers to extract timber from some relatively accessible old-growth stands. “There’s some common-sense, near-term relief.”
But even Venables criticized the administration as going too far and predicted that the decision probably would be reversed next year if Democrats won the White House.
“It seems like the ball’s being punted from one end to the other,” he said. “The real disappointment here is a compromise could not be found that could create a more lasting peace.”
Logging in Alaska costs U.S. taxpayers millions each year, because of a long-standing federal mandate that companies profit from any timber sale. This means the Forest Service often covers harvesters’ costs, including road building. According to a Taxpayer for Common Sense analysis of the Forest Service’s accounts, the Tongass timber program has lost roughly $1.7 billion over the last 40 years.
After Taxpayers for Common Sense commented during the federal environmental review that it would be more economically efficient to hold timber sales in parts of the forest that already have roads, the Forest Service acknowledged that that was true.
The agency said its plan “reflects a different policy perspective on the roadless management issue rather than a change in the underlying facts and circumstances,” adding that the Trump administration believes “that overall reduction in federal regulations is good for the American public due to reduced burden to the taxpayer and reduced burden to business.”
Ninety-six percent of the comments during the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental review opposed lifting the existing safeguards, while 1 percent supported it. In a sign of how unpopular the administration’s push to lift roadless restrictions has become, all five Alaska Native tribal nations withdrew as cooperating agencies in the process two weeks ago, after the Forest Service published its blueprint for opening up the entire Tongass to development.
“We refuse to allow legitimacy upon a process that has disregarded our input at every turn,” the tribal leaders wrote.
Some of these tribes had conducted clear cuts decades ago, when they gained legal control over their ancestral lands. Marina Anderson, the tribal administrator for the Organized Village of Kasaan on Prince of Wales Island, recalled in a phone interview that her late father was a logger and said that the entire village had suffered the consequences of felling so many trees. A landslide occurred Monday morning; while Anderson was speaking on the phone, a second landslide occurred.
“These landslides happen on clear-cut lands. This morning I said, ‘It’s landslide day,” she said, noting there had been heavy rain. “I’ve grown up seeing these mudslides my whole life. As a culture committed to balance, it’s my responsibility to bring back that balance from what [my father] had done.”
The roughly 60 residents in the village, which does not have a grocery store, rely heavily on salmon, berries and other staples they can harvest from the forest. “Climate change is hitting us pretty hard,” Anderson said, adding that tribal officials oppose extensive logging because old-growth trees help lower stream temperatures and provide key wildlife habitat.
Referring to the new plan, she said, “It will only devastate even more what is already in progress.”
Environmentalists, who have successfully blocked a slew of timber sales on the Tongass since the early 1970s, said they will challenge the repeal of protections in court.
“We’ve been protecting the Tongass for many years. We’ve done it through Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt, we’ve done it through Republican administrations and we’ve done it through hostile Supreme Courts,” Sam Sankar, vice president for programs at Earthjustice, said in an interview. “There’s never been a strong economic argument for logging, and neither has there been a strong biological or cultural argument. And we’re confident we’ll continue to prevail in the courts.”
Still some experts said they worried the decision could greenlight timber sales that would release more carbon into the atmosphere. DellaSala, who estimated that clear cutting 160,000 acres of old growth would be equivalent to putting 10 million cars on Alaska’s roads, noted that last month he had to evacuate from his home near Talent, Ore., because of a massive blaze nearby.
“It’s personal for me,” he said, adding that his home survived but that many others nearby did not. “We don’t have a lot of time to get this right, and we are heading in the wrong direction.”
Democrats in Congress have done little in the week since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Even as the high court’s ideological balance is going to shift to the hard right — and as the wanna be dictator refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power — prominent Senate Democrats have rushed to tamp down talk of retaliatory action. This leaves little doubt that the opposition party is unequipped to handle the threat posed to democracy by Donald Trump and the Republicans.
Senate Republican leadership has made it clear they intend to ram through a new Supreme Court justice, most likely in the final week before Election Day. By his own admission, Trump wants a new justice seated by then because he intends to use the federal judiciary to nullify enough absentee ballots to hand him a second term.
While officially attempting to assuage concern about Trump’s plans, prominent Republicans have essentially admitted that the plan is to have the Supreme Court, not the voters, decide this election. “I promise you as a Republican, if the Supreme Court decides that Joe Biden wins, I will accept the result,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the New York Times. “The court will decide, and if Republicans lose, we’ll accept the result.”
Graham reportedly wants to schedule confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee for the week of Oct. 12. That would mean a party-line committee vote near the end of the following week, and a vote on the Senate floor before Halloween, making it the fastest confirmation process in recent history. In addition to Trump’s pick potentially ruling on an election dispute, Republicans are eager to have another ultraconservative justice seated in time for a case on the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court will hear only a week after Election Day.
The Democrats’ response to such threats this week can fairly be described as pitiful.
The opposition party’s best bet is to slow down the process until after the election and use the fight as a means to rally their voters to take control of all three branches of government, by defeating Trump and seizing a Senate majority. But simply opposing his nominee won’t be even close to enough — not when Trump has made no secret of his plans to use the courts to his electoral advantage. So far, Democrats have shown no real appetite for a fight.
It’s been a near-universal show of surrender from Democrats — even as their voters have sent more $200 million in donations to Democratic candidates and causes since Ginsburg’s passing. If they want to rally and sustain public support, Democrats might want to fight as if they believed they could win.
Republicans lie, cheat and steal. Democrats pretend to “resist” with weak appeals to the nonexistent conscience of Republicans who long ago sold their supposed principles down the river…
Appeals to get out and vote, which Nancy Pelosi presented this week as the last and most effective remedy, don’t take into account that Trump’s plan to steal the election will kick in after Americans have voted, but before all those votes have been counted. Even if Democrats take back the Senate, they won’t be allowed to govern in the face of relentless obstructionism and the stolen Supreme Court. They have to know that.
Republicans have handed Democrats a legitimate rationale for expanding the court — to 11 or 15 or possibly 19 seats. Those Democrats who are willing to engage the idea are the only ones who should be taken seriously during this moment!!!
Trump is gathering up an ‘illegal’ army to send to the polls
It has been declared illegal, inappropriate, vague and not his job, but there was Donald Trump again this week promising to send an army of armed sheriffs, off-duty police, attorneys general to loom over physical voting – a hedge, he said, against the voter fraud he can never show.
Fantasy voter fraud
Until now, Trump’s been decrying the widespread fraud he thinks is possible – including foreign monkeying with actual votes – from mail-in ballots necessitated by the pandemic. Apparently, enough judges, postal officials past and present, and state officials have sufficiently debunked that idea that Trump has turned to the actual physical vote to intimidate.
The only thing clear to me in all this is that trashing everyone’s vote unless it is a guaranteed Trump vote is the mission for the season. When Joe Biden or other Democrats this last week were decrying an election that has put Democracy itself on the ballot, this is the stuff they were discussing.
As usual, even this bullying campaign comes with the thunder of words, but just a whisper of what actually is possible to achieve, though it actually appears that his team is taking it seriously.
You probably read his announcement as I did: What is Trump talking about? What would this army do, exactly, other than standing around staring at voters, particularly voters of color, to intimidate them? How would sending this army out actually prevent widespread fraud – are they going to check voter signatures (against what?) or fix voting machines that break during the night?
Don’t state officials run elections? Doesn’t the Justice Department and other independent of bi-partisan groups already checkup that, say, a precinct doesn’t report twice the number of tallies as registered voters? What fraud exactly does Trump expect to rebut?
Last week, a federal judge in Pittsburgh, a Trump appointee incidentally, ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of widespread fraud in its challenge of Pennsylvania’s plans to distribute mail ballot applications. The campaign turned in 500 pages, reflecting almost no fraud.
Other states are lining up behind the nine that have always sent out mail ballot applications, out of consideration of public health issues during coronavirus. Still, Trump has bleated about fraud, apparently unwilling to distinguish between ballot applications and actual ballots, which contain multiple confirmation signatures that are checkable against registration records.
Trump says, wrongly, that people may submit mail-in ballots and still show up to vote physically, effectively illegally voting twice. Again, since he votes by mail, perhaps he doesn’t know about checking in with poll workers with signature books.
Trump’s appointment of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general has resulted in upheaval over slowed mail, just before an avalanche of mail ballots. DeJoy faces Congress this week to explain that this isn’t raw politics at work to suppress votes.
This week too, Politico.com reported that in a private meeting days before his inauguration, Trump told a group of civil rights leaders that lower turnout among Black voters did, in fact, benefit him in the 2016 presidential election.
Now, we’ve arrived at an announced tactic of deploying a Trump army.
It’s a pattern to impede how people vote, with comments and flailing directives to undermine confidence in this election in which Trump is behind. Trump has made false claims about of mail-in balloting, has threatened to delay elections, to withhold money from states that send out mail ballots, to cut money for the Post Office.
As it turns out, Trump has limited authority to order law enforcement to patrol polling places. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers are local, of course, and a federal law bars U.S. government officials from sending “armed men” to the vicinity of polling places.
The Washington Post reminded us that nearly 30 years ago, a Republican Party program that dispatched off-duty police officers to patrol polling places in heavily Black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey triggered accusations of voter intimidation, particularly aimed at people of color. That practice resulted in a federal court agreement, expired two years ago, that restricted how the national GOP could observe voting. Trump apparently is reviving that idea,
Of course, Trump’s exhortations may prompt local officials to act on their own in states where there already are active voter suppression campaigns, like North Carolina and Georgia.
Officially, Matthew Morgan, general counsel for Trump’s reelection campaign, said that “Republicans will be ready to make sure the polls are being run correctly, securely, and transparently as we work to deliver the free and fair election Americans deserve.” The campaign apparently hopes to recruit 30,000 poll-watchers in battleground states.
The Voting Rights Act outlaws the intimidation or coercion of voters, including tactics to deploy sheriff’s deputies and police officers to the polls.
Under federal law, poll-watching has been done by bipartisan or independent civic groups, with a unit of the Justice Department at hand to enter where problems arise.
With all of this going on, both parties are recruiting lawyers by the dozen for the inevitable set of legal challenges that will come after Election Day.
Obviously, an outcome by a substantial majority will make resolutions easier than a close race.
Nothing about a Trump election is ever clear
Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport @ Raw Story Investigates
Trump secret police thuggery on the streets of Portland Oregon
Over the last few days, federal agents clad in camouflage have been roaming Oregon’s largest city at night, dashing out of unmarked vans to detain seemingly peaceful protesters for no apparent reason other than they look like trouble. It shouldn’t take any cerebral invocation of our fundamental constitutional rights to show why this is wrong. Rather, merely describing what’s happening in Portland ought to shake anyone with a decent moral sense.
This is so self-evidently wrong that reacting to it with anything but guttural, inarticulate outrage seems pointless, but this episode reflects just how dangerous the flailing Trump regime is at this moment. We might laugh at the clownish sideshow of a piggish Trump flashing two thumbs up over a display of highly processed foods in the Oval Office, but it is precisely the deployment of a secret police force to a major American city that jerks us back into an unforgiving reality: Donald Trump is still in charge, and he’s still very powerful.
Trump’s war on American Citizens is escalating, with reports emerging out of Portland, Ore., that federal law enforcement officers, wearing camouflage but without any other visible insignia, have been rounding up American citizens. On Thursday, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported that “federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”
OPB quotes one person who was arrested by these officers, although never charged. “I am basically tossed into the van,” Mark Pettibone told the broadcaster. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.” He was taken to a building that he later discovered was a federal courthouse. Only there was he read his Miranda rights, but he was never charged. After he asked for a lawyer, he was released. Videos are circulating on social media of similar detentions.
“It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” attorney Juan Chavez told OPB. He added that these detentions were not following any rules of probable cause. “It sounds more like an abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.”
On the face of it, what these federal officers are doing is illegal and unconstitutional. It’s possible that they are acting under the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Barack Obama, which legalized the detention of Americans suspected of being terrorists. If so, then the War on Terrorism has truly come home.
The Trump administration used thugs or “unidentified federal officers” to patrol Washington, D.C., in early June when the scale of the protests forced Trump to go into the White House bunker. Those officers turned out to be guards from the US Bureau of Prisons who had been repurposed as ad hoc praetorian guards.
Protests have been roiling Portland for over six weeks. Even prior to these protests, Portland was a site of a long-running battle between right-wing groups like the Proud Boys and left-wing activists who are usually lumped together under the Antifa label. It’s possible that the Antifa connection made Portland a spot of particular interest to the Trump administration, which has used the loosely organized anti-fascist groups as a scapegoat for social upheavals in the wake of police brutality.
The deployment of unidentified federal officers is particularly dangerous in a situation like that in Portland and elsewhere in America because it could easily lead to right-wing militias’ impersonating legal authorities and kidnapping citizens. As former CIA counterintelligence analyst Aki Peritz notes, “All it takes is one of these similar-kitted out militiamen groups to start grabbing folks off the street as well, but then having their way with them, for there to be huge, possibly violent pushback for these tactics. This hurts the police and the citizenry.” Peritz argues, “We’re quickly entering secret police territory now. DHS is becoming Trump’s Mukhābarāt” (mukhābarāt being the Arabic word for an intelligence agency, used colloquially to refer, for example, to the Egyptian or Iraqi or Libyan secret police).
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is currently in Portland. In a statement on Thursday, Wolf said, “The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.” Wolf warned, “This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law.”
Wolf’s strident words echoed the law-and-order theme that has come to the fore in Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump himself sounded a racist variation on the theme in a Thursday White House virtual town hall when he decried the collapse of “law and order” in cities like New York and Chicago. Trump also claimed that Democrats were trying to destroy the suburbs. Announcing the rescinding of an Obama order against racial segregation in housing, Trump said, “The suburb destruction will end with us.”
There is every sign that Trump will continue to pound the drum of law and order until the election. Portland is likely a test case for a larger security crackdown that will be repeated in other cities.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has been commendably blunt in attacking Trump’s assault on protesters. On Thursday, she tweeted:
(Trump) “is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government. I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets. His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.”
Brown shouldn’t be the only one protesting. Congressional Democrats need to open up an immediate investigation into the use of federal law enforcement officers in Portland. Joe Biden also needs to make clear that if elected he’ll order an immediate house cleaning in all federal agencies and that any officers found to have broken the law will be punished. Moreover, if Trump is acting within the law, the Democrats need to make new rules so no future wannabe dictator can repeat this travesty.
Outrage has greeted media reports that say American intelligence officials believe a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, including targeting Americans.
New York Times, citing its sources as unnamed officials briefed on the matter, and followed up by the Washington Post. The reports said that the US had come to the conclusion about the operation several months ago and offered rewards for successful attacks last year.
The Times wrote: “The intelligence finding was briefed to Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March.” White House officials apparently drew up several possible options to retaliate against the Kremlin, ranging from a diplomatic reprimand right through to fresh sanctions. However, the White House has so far not taken any action.
It is not be proven yet if bounties were paid out for successfully killing American soldiers.
As the news broke it triggered a fierce response from top Democrats, especially those who have long pointed to what they say is Trump’s overly close relationship to Russia’s autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine: “Trump was cozying up to Putin and inviting him to the G7 all while his administration reportedly knew Russia was trying to kill US troops in Afghanistan and derail peace talks with the Taliban.”
Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and a professor of political science at Stanford University, said: “I hope the American people will be as outraged as I am over Trump’s complacency. After he knew about these Putin-ordered contracts to kill US soldiers, Trump invited Putin to the G7.”
John Weaver, a Republican political consultant who helped found the anti-Trump Lincoln Project group, also expressed outrage.
John Weaver@jwgop Trump knew Russia was paying bounties on the lives of American servicemen in Afghanistan. He took no action against Putin. Instead, @realDonaldTrump REWARDED Putin by trying to insert Russia back into the G-7. And, not enough, withdrawing 25,000 American troops from Germany.
The news comes after the US reached an initial peace deal with the Taliban, which aimed for the full withdrawal of the US military from the war-torn country within just over a year. The pact was supposed to kickstart talks between the rebels and the Afghan government but they have not materialized.
The unit that US officials have reportedly identified as responsible for the bounties has also been linked to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in Britain in 2018, which triggered a huge diplomatic dispute between Moscow and London.
Trump’s relationship with Russia has been the source of much scandal and frustration with US allies, especially in Europe.
Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 US election were part of the basis of the Robert Mueller investigation that dogged much of Trump’s time in office. He has repeatedly flown in the face of his own intelligence briefings to say that he believes Russian denials of meddling in US affairs and has touted his close friendship with Putin as a benefit to the US. He has also pushed for Russia to be allowed back into the G7 group of major industrial powers, while at the same questioning the role of NATO.
Trump spent last week turning his back on a raging pandemic, firing a federal prosecutor who’s investigating key White House allies, and threatening violence against peaceful protesters. As his re-election run sputters, Trump’s accelerating the rate of his attacks on democracy.
Trump’s at war with an unraveling America, that much is clear. The parallel reality is that the American press corps does not know how to deal with this frightening scenario. Or it does know, it just doesn’t have the courage to put that into practice. Too timid to call Trump out as a radical saboteur who ferments racial violence for political purposes, the Beltway media busies itself chronicling his controversies, documenting his “falsehoods” (never “lies”), and occasionally highlighting his hypocrisy. But an honest discussion about Trump’s plot against America? That’s not really allowed in the news pages.
It needs to be.
Just this month, as part of his dangerous blueprint, Trump:
Falsely claimed the Covid-19 pandemic is “dying out,” while urging states to loosen restrictions even as local infection rates spike.
Withdrew America from the World Health Organization during a pandemic.
“Joked” about 110,000 pandemic deaths in the U.S.
Boosted a fringe, right-wing conspiracy theory from a group the FBI has deemed to be a potential domestic terrorist threat.
Shared a clearly doctored video (of children!) with his 80 million Twitter followers.
Was tagged by Facebook for trying to “glorify violence” online.
Unilaterally decided to allow Russian leader Vladimir Putin attend the upcoming G7 Summit. (Russia was suspended in 2014 after it unlawfully annexed Crimea.)
Unleashed military-style forces on peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stage a photo-op at a nearby church.
Attacked an injured 75-year-old peace activist in Buffalo, N.Y., as a terrorist sympathizer.
Meanwhile, we learn in the new book from Trump’s former national security aide, John Bolton, that Trump:
Promised to remove federal prosecutors who were going after a Turkish bank because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked him to intervene.
Insisted the Ukrainian government hand over incriminating information about Joe Biden before he would release congressionally approved aid to the country.
Signaled to China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, that he was willing to reverse prosecution against Chinese firms as a personal favor, and offered to reduce tariffs on Chinese goods if the Beijing agreed to buy more American agricultural products, in hopes it would boost Trump’s re-election chances.
If that’s not a plot against America, I don’t know is.
That phrase comes from Philip Roth’s landmark novel, and recent HBO series, “The Plot Against America.” It tells the alternative American history in which isolationist Charles Lindbergh ousts Franklin Roosevelt as president after FDR’s first term, then refuses to enter World War II, forms a non-aggression pack with Hitler’s victorious Germany, and allows fascism to flourish in America. Told through the eyes of a Jewish family in Newark, N.J., who are threatened with a government dispersement program, the novel offers up the chilling what-if scenario of an American president who actively plots against America’s best interest, while curtailing liberties and freedom for all.
When it was published in 2004, the book’s plot was written off by some as implausible, and even alarmist. Today, it’s been like watching the Trump presidency unfold in slow motion as we witness the unthinkable — a president scheming against America.
We’re taught that the President of the United States has the country’s best interest at heart. There’s constant disagreement, from administration to administration, over what those interests and priorities are. But the idea that the commander-in-chief would purposefully try to harm America’s security and shatter its standing on the global stage had been an unthinkable scenario, until now. The mounting evidence leaves no doubt that as a country, we’re facing a defining crisis.
For journalists, that means there’s a pressing need to aggressively address the bigger picture about a president who seems determined to watch America crumble and decay, on his watch. What matters now is asking the difficult questions and pondering what the Trump presidency is truly about, no matter what darkness lurks in the shadows.
The recent twin towers of the pandemic and historic, Black Lives Matter street protests leave no doubt about the urgency, as Trump actively and purposefully makes both nationwide crises worse with each passing day.
“He did not try to calm the roiling anger, as the leader of a country beset by strife and division should. Instead, he poured fuel on the flames of unrest,” a Houston Chronicle editorial recently noted. “Think about that. Our nation’s most prestigious public office, along with the man who occupies it, had to be cited by a social media platform for glorifying violence.”
As for the purposeful vacuum of leadership surrounding the pandemic, “It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” a New Zealand epidemiologist told the Washington Post last week.
She’s right, the administration has given up. And that’s if you believe Trump’s team ever put up a fight in the first place.
I don’t think they did. Instead, Trump ordered a stand-down order for the virus invasion.
Tyrant Trump walks by graffiti that says FUCK TRUMP on the way to his failed attempt to look strong by having the military beat on peaceful demonstrators
With 1,865,459 Coronavirus Cases and 107,312 Deaths in the United States as of early Tuesday, June 2 2020 Crazed megalomaniac Donald Trump sics federal armed forces on peaceful protesters so his chicken ass can walk to a church and he can hold up a bible for a photo-op.
Taking in that and the massive protests across the U.S. over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four now-fired Minneapolis police officers and Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments that followed, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman accused Trump of trying to start a race war in America.
In his column for the New York Times, Krugman started off by pointing out that Minneapolis police union chief Mark Kroll appeared at a Trump rally last year where he thanked the preside for freeing his member from the “oppression” of former President Barack Obama who he claimed ‘handcuffed” officers from doing their jobs. According to Krugman, this should have been seen as a warning shot of what was to come.
“The events of the past week, in which the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody led to demonstrations against police brutality, and these demonstrations were met by more police brutality — including unprecedented violence against the news media — have made it clear what Kroll meant by taking the handcuffs off,” he wrote. ” And Donald Trump, far from trying to calm the nation, is pouring gasoline on the fire; he seems very close to trying to incite a civil war.”
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that America as we know it is on the brink,” he then warned.
Explaining that the preceding four decades have seen the rich successfully weaponize “white racism to gain political power,” Krugman stated that it is no surprise the country is being torn apart — with the help of Donald Trump.
Writing that, “it requires willful blindness not to see what’s going on,” the columnist pointed out that the president’s policies — particularly when it comes to trade — have hurt his base so he needs to appeal to them on another level.
“So what has Trump really offered to the white working-class that makes up most of his base? Basically, he has provided affirmation and cover for racial hostility,” he explained. “They don’t make enough money to benefit much from the Trump tax cut. Their jobs will be very much at risk if revenue-starved state and local governments are forced to make drastic spending cuts — and Trump’s allies in the Senate are blocking the aid that might avert such cuts.”
“Republicans have, as I said, spent decades exploiting racial hostility to win elections despite a policy agenda that hurts workers. But Trump is now pushing that cynical strategy toward a kind of apotheosis. On one side, he’s effectively inciting violence by his supporters. On the other, he’s very close to calling for a military response to social protest. And at this point, nobody expects any significant pushback from other Republicans,” he wrote before cautioning, “Now, I don’t think Trump will actually succeed in provoking a race war in the near future, even though he’s clearly itching for an excuse to use force. But the months ahead are still likely to be very, very ugly.”
He concluded with a final — and chilling — warning.
“If Trump is encouraging violence and talking about military solutions to overwhelmingly peaceful protests, what will he and his supporters do if he looks likely to lose November’s election?” he wrote.
Note: Trump was on the phone with his crush Vladimir Putin right before this authoritarian move
Trump’s armed and infectious insurgents are essentially anti-American suicide bombers.
Democratic leaders don’t typically borrow from the playbook of GOP politics, but in light of these “engineered protests,” I think they should make an exception.
With many far-right militias and wingnuts using Facebook to organize “anti-quarantine protests” at state capitols around the country. Tens of thousands have joined their Facebook group, giving the impression that a “populist libertarianism” sentiment is emerging more than opinion surveys would suggest. Just like they did with the Tea Party AstroTurf fo movement
This activity is being amplified by Trump, who is using Twitter to encourage armed resistance to state-based initiatives aimed at containing the novel coronavirus pandemic with orders to stay home. The “protests” were in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and others swing states Donald Trump needs to win reelection.
Meanwhile, the Pew Center, which is the gold standard for measuring public opinion, released a new survey in which 66 percent of Americans fear their state governments will lift restrictions “too quickly.” Sixty-five percent said “Trump’s initial response” to the COVID-19 pandemic was “too slow.” Moreover, 73 percent said the worst is yet to come. (Implicit is the widespread doubt of Washington’s ability to face the challenge.)
Someone here represents America’s majority view, and it’s not the people ginning up outrage on social media and make-believing revolution for the benefit of television cameras on the steps of state capitol buildings. Indeed, the majority view isn’t getting the attention it deserves, because the majority is doing what it believes must be done in times of severe crisis: working together, as a nation, to combat a collective peril.
The majority view, in other words, is silent. That’s why I think Democratic leaders should invoke Richard Nixon. In 1969, he coined the term “silent majority” to claim a mandate from “middle Americans” who did not demonstrate in huge numbers against his prosecution of the Vietnam War but instead supported his wartime policies.
To be sure, “silent majority” is what fascists have said for decades when they need to contravene a rapidly changing view on, say, an overseas war going south. “Silent majority” is what a literal minority invokes to smash a literal majority in the face. Even so, Nixon’s words should resonate right now when 41,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19. “If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this nation has no future as a free society,” Nixon said. Individuals can’t be truly free. In the collective, however, can be found the meaning of freedom.
In this sense, the protesters have it backwards. They believe (or pretend to believe; more on that in a moment) that government coercion is the opposite of individual freedom. Stay-at-home orders infringe their liberty. If they want to risk getting sick—or dying—that’s their right. No government has the authority to tell them otherwise.
This thinking ignores the fact that one person’s right to liberty ends with another person’s right to security, and that all governments are charged with balancing all of those rights for everyone’s sake. (Whether a government is striking the right balance is usually reflected by the majority view.) For this reason, coercion is not the opposite of freedom during a pandemic. Coercion, at least for now, is in the service of freedom. Only when everyone is acting in everyone else’s interest can this crisis be overcome.
They say they stand for individual liberty. What they really stand for is disloyalty, disunion and death.
But let’s not give these people too much credit, shall we? As the Post reported, “protest” organizers were not acting in good faith. They were pretending to believe what they say they believe. Organizers knew unwitting participants (some of whom no doubt were acting in good faith) would get sick, or die, before spreading the disease. Death, even their own, is an acceptable consequence of meeting their political goals.
These “protest” organizers call themselves “patriots.” Fair enough. Equally fair, however, is calling them insurgents, or even domestic terrorists, willing to commit suicide by way of infecting themselves and others to destabilize public trust as well as the political union of these United States. They say they stand for liberty. They really stand for disloyalty, disunion and death. Americans invoking patriotism but disobeying stay-at-home orders do so with the moral justification of a suicide bomber.
If “protesters” risked harm to themselves only, it might be appropriate to characterize them as a kind of “death cult.” (It might be funny, in a grim way, to joke about “culling the herd.”) But these people do not only put themselves as risk. The World Health Organization warned today the pandemic has yet to peak. “Protesters,” therefore, threaten us all. As Nixon said: “If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this nation has no future as a free society.
” You are the real “silent majority.” Don’t forget it.