This alone should be an impeachable offense

The Pentagon leaks an explosive story of Trump’s dereliction of duty — widening the rift between the military and the White House

The news was chilling: Russians have been paying Taliban militants to kill Americans in Afghanistan even as peace talks with the Taliban were underway, intelligence sources told The New York Times. Actually, the more you roll this disclosure over in your mind, the worse it gets.

Protecting U.S. troops is Job One for any president, but particularly this one who insists on its primacy. And he isn’t doing his job to protect our sons and daughters in the field. U.S. troops were attacked and we did nothing about it.

This alone should be an impeachable offense.

But it says more, much more about Trump’s turn away from real-world problems that affect the rest of us, from pandemic to income inequality to racism. Thanks to coronavirus and joblessness, the disclosure wasn’t even considered the most important news of the day.

The Times said U.S intelligence has evidence that a Russian military spy unit has been paid Islamic militants linked to the Taliban to target Americans and other coalition troops. The Times account was quickly confirmed by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Just why Russia is doing this remains murky: Perhaps Russia wanted to break up peace talks with violence against Americans, perhaps it was in retaliation for a U.S. attack in Syria that unintentionally killed Russian soldiers.

Whatever it was or is, no one knows how many of the 20 Americans killed last year in Afghanistan were targeted this way. It’s a different picture than Trump appearing with U.S. troops for a celebratory photo.

What we do know is that U.S. troops were attacked and we did nothing about it.

The disclosure emerged as The United States finally was telling British allies about it this week. Does that mean that the United States officially was withholding these developments from allies—another abridgment of presidential duty or at least moral responsibility?

Is this not an escalation of anti-American, anti-allied interests at a time when we’re talking about pulling troops from Europe?

Note, too: The leak didn’t come from the White House. That normally closed-mouth U.S. defense and intelligence folks would discuss this with these reporters who cover these areas seems a direct reflection of the growing rift between the Pentagon and Trump over national security policy-making. According to The Times, military officials offered a range of anti-Russia alternatives in March, and Trump has sat on them.

For the United States apparently to do nothing at all is stunning all by itself.

We’ve seen the White House interfere with the military hierarchy over assignment and promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who spoke out after Trump’s impeachable blackmail attempts of the Ukraine president. We’ve seen Trump moving to manipulate military justice courts in the cases involving former SEAL Edward Gallagher and the Navy captain who tried to help a virus-infected crew.

We’ve seen the generals increasingly willing to split publicly with Trump, and Trump, in turn, insulting and belittling people like James Mattis, the former secretary of defense; John Kelly Jr., the former chief of staff; and others. Only Trump himself knows the answers on foreign policy.

Except on issues involving Russia, and once again, we find ourselves scratching the head wondering whether Trump is not acting here—even issuing some formal knock-it-off message to the Kremlin out of some long, never-fully disclosed loyalty to the Kremlin.

With the extraordinary Trump administration effort this week to overturn criminal charges against the twice-admitted liar Michael T. Flynn, unsubstantiated “treason” calls against former President Barack Obama, we find ourselves still steeped in the Trump-Russia question.

Quite to the contrary of Trump’s self-proclaimed toughness on Russia, we are hearing of Trump’s maneuvering to get Russian leader Vladimir Putin back into the Group of Eight meetings. There is no more talk of sanctions against Russia—only acquiescence to Russian control of Syria, acceptance of ending Russia nuclear weapons treaties, proposed withdrawal of American troops from Europe, and constant diminution of NATO.  Russia is still in Ukraine, Russia is still supporting Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Russia is still reportedly active in seeking to disrupt U.S. elections.

Where is the so-called Trump toughness?

Yes, we’re in a pandemic, an economic tsunami and widespread protests for social justice. But Trump has found time for anti-immigration moves and an attack on the U.S. health system along with personal promotion, campaign rallies, and golf.

Do you think he could spend a few minutes on protecting Americans in uniform?

We’re seeing that the need to declare Afghanistan over, when it is not, in time for the Trump re-election campaign apparently outweighs the lives of our troops.

 

Edited story from AlterNet by Terry H. Schwardon / DC Report

Russia offered a bounty for killing US troops! …..Putin loving Trump is cool with it

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.

from The Guardian

Trump’s assault on America and everything real and true is escalating

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.

And we still don’t know why.

 

From Press Run Eric Boehlerthttps://pressrun.media/subscribe

 

 

Humiliating Mega MAGA failure as Trump admits he ordered his people to slow down Coronavirus testing

Less than 7000 covidiots show up for Tyrant Trump’s rally

Tyrant Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election campaign sputtered badly on Saturday night as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass rally in months and found a far smaller crowd than his aides had promised him, then delivered a disjointed speech that did not address the multiple crises facing the nation or scandals battering him in Washington.

The weakness of Trump’s drawing power and political skills, in a state that voted for him overwhelmingly and in a format that he favors, raised new questions about his electoral prospects for a second term at a time when his poll numbers were already falling. And rather than speak to the wide cross-section of Americans who say they are concerned about police violence and systemic racism, he continued to use racist language, describing the coronavirus as “Kung Flu.”

While Trump’s campaign had claimed that more than a million people had tickets for the rally, the 19,000-seat BOK Center was at least one-third empty during the rally crowd now is estimated to have been less than 7000! A second, outdoor venue was so sparsely attended that he and Mike Pence both canceled appearances there and the stage was taken down. Trump was furious about the unused outdoor stage and the comparatively thin crowd in the stadium, according to two people familiar with his reaction. News broadcasts carried video of the partially empty stadium, and even the Drudge Report, a reliably conservative website, carried an all-caps headline that said “MAGA LESS MEGA” with a picture of rows and rows of empty blue seats.

The disappointing turnout came as Trump already found himself under siege about his sudden firing of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and his losing legal battle over the release of a memoir full of damaging revelations by John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser. And in Tulsa, Mr. Trump faced criticism for ignoring pleas from officials about health risks to rallygoers and for restarting his “Make America Great Again!” rallies in a city where a white mob massacred hundreds of black residents 99 years ago.

In rambling, grievance-filled remarks, Trump made no reference to the Tulsa massacre of 1921 or to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis last month spurred global demands for racial justice. He also did not mention Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the United States and fell just a day before his rally.

Instead, the “idiot king” railed about “left-wing radicals” who he falsely claimed were rioting in cities across the country and praised police officers.

Trump once again shrugged off the threat from the coronavirus, which he also called the “Chinese virus” at one point, and bragged that he has done “a phenomenal job” fighting the pandemic. He acknowledged that increased testing for the virus revealed more cases of infection, which he felt made the country look bad.

“So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down,’” he said.

Many of the thousands of Trump supporters at the rally did not wear masks or stand six feet apart — health precautions that Trump himself continues to ignore. Health experts remained concerned that the event could be a dangerous incubator for the virus, spreading through the building’s recirculated air.

A few hours before the event, the campaign disclosed that six Trump campaign staff members who had been working on the rally had tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening. Two members of the Secret Service in Tulsa also tested positive for the virus, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump, who was made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed that the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction.

While rallies are Mr. Trump’s favorite events, election-year politics has changed since his last one, on March 2. The coronavirus has largely shut down the campaign trail, and more recently the national political conversation has been dominated by a fierce debate over police violence against black Americans after the killing of Mr. Floyd. This altered political landscape has had little effect on Trump, whom advisers describe as feeling like a caged animal during the national lockdown that forced him to abandon most travel. They say he is determined to recapture the excitement of his pre-virus campaign rallies, but this one seemed unlikely to offer much relief to a whiney Donald Trump.

Trump flew to Oklahoma amid mounting questions about the firing of Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, whose office had investigated some of Trump’s closest allies, imprisoning Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and beginning an inquiry into Rudolph W. Giuliani, his current lawyer.

On Saturday afternoon, Attorney General William P. Barr announced that Mr. Trump had personally approved Mr. Berman’s firing. But soon afterward, as Mr. Trump left the White House for the trip to Tulsa, Trump lied and said that “we have a very capable attorney general, so that’s really up to him. I’m not involved.”

The campaign had chosen to return first to Oklahoma, which Donald won by 36 points in 2016, assuming his appearance would be wildly popular there. Aides to Mr. Trump spent the week boasting about enormous interest from people in the rally, and Mr. Trump bragged on Saturday as he left for Oklahoma that “the crowds are unbelievable,” which proved false.

Some users of social media said on Saturday night that teenagers helped keep attendance at the rally down by seeking tickets they did not intend to use. TikTok and Twitter users posted that they had registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Trump’s campaign rally as a prank after @TeamTrump tweeted asking supporters to register for free tickets.

During his speech, Mr. Trump delivered a defensive, 15-minute explanation of images that showed him ambling slowly down a ramp after delivering the commencement address at the West Point military academy last weekend. He blamed his slow walk on “leather soles” on his shoes and said he was trying not to fall on his behind.

He also took several sips of water out of a glass after video at the West Point event showed him struggling to bring a glass up to his lips. He said he was trying to make sure he did not spill the water on his tie. The crowd applauded wildly.

Trump and his advisers hope the return to the campaign trail will help deflect attention from a daily stream of crises engulfing the White House. On Saturday, a federal judge refused to block the release of Mr. Bolton’s book, though he said the former national security aide may be personally liable for revealing classified information.

People close to Trump also said that the lack of regular adulation that he receives from the cheering crowds since the coronavirus lockdowns has left him morose and irritable. And his advisers had hoped that the rally would be a positive outlet for his energy, as opposed to his Twitter feed, where he has posted several self-destructive messages in the last several weeks.

Edited from a story in the New York Times

 

Trump’s slow-motion authoritarian take over is picking up some momentum

‘Wednesday night massacre’ at VOA and a Friday night attempted massacre at the Southern District of New York Department of Justice.

There is a lot of media attention focused on the SDNY debacle so we take a look at the decapitation of US Agency for Global Media (USAGM)

The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move that looks like the new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack intends to turn the agency into a propaganda arm of the administration. In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.

“They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN. A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected because they are republicans. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.

Three sources with knowledge of the changes said that each of the organizations’ boards were dissolved, and two of those sources said that one of the incoming board members is an official from Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian organization.

According to an internal memo obtained by CNN, a number of political appointees have been installed in management positions, and “until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval from the Chief Operating Officer; Vice President for Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management; Deputy Chief of Staff; or Chief of Staff.”

The source familiar said that requiring activities and communications to go through these officials “de facto puts the agency at a standstill.”

In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally of the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

The rash of firings came just hours after Pack, another Bannon ally, introduced himself to employees, nearly two weeks after being confirmed for the job.

USAGM says its mission is “is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” In addition to VOA, it oversees Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Open Technology Fund, and other entities.

“Once they destroy the reputation of the agencies, it will be impossible to restore,” the former official said. “Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

 

 

From CNN – Jennifer Hansler and Brian Stelter,  Marshall Cohen

Trump continues to provoke hatred and civil strife

Yet another controversy involving Trump and his allies came about this week when Facebook removed some campaign ads that used an infamous symbol from the 1930s: a red inverted triangle, which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime used to identify political prisoners ranging from communists and liberals to members of opposition parties. Trump’s campaign has, in essence, responded that it didn’t use that symbol to promote Nazi ideology but to smear Antifa. Nonetheless, Trump’s critics have asserted that using that symbol in the first place was clueless and ignorant. And according to Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, a leaked internal document from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security makes Trump and his allies look even worse in this controversy.

“After Facebook removed the ads amid an outcry,” Sargent explains, “the Trump campaign continued to defend the use of the image — which was used by Nazis to identify political prisoners — by claiming it’s a ‘common Antifa symbol.’ The suggestion, of course, is that the image is justified by the idea that it’s associated with Antifa, so it’s merely a warning of a continuing menace to the country. ‘STOP ANTIFA,’ the ads say, warning of ‘dangerous MOBS of far-left groups’ that are ‘DESTROYING our cities.’”

Sargent adds, “Meanwhile, Trump and his top officials have continued to blame unrest and violence at protests on Antifa, to cast the violence more broadly as primarily left-wing in orientation. But the DHS document I obtained undercuts this series of claims.”

The leaked DHS document, according to Sargent, shows that Antifa has not been a major source of violence at the recent “Justice for George Floyd” protests that have been taking place all over the United States.

“The document — which is an assessment of ongoing ‘protest-related’ threats to law enforcement dated June 17 — makes no mention at all of Antifa in its cataloging of those threats,” Sargent notes. “The DHS document states that ‘anarchist and anti-government extremists pose the most significant threat of targeted low-level, protest-related assaults against law enforcement.’ It bases this assessment on ‘the observed ideologies of recent attackers and the body of reporting of tactics noted by violent opportunists used over the last two weeks.’ Thus, as of this week, ‘anarchist and anti-government extremists’ pose the most serious ongoing threat, according to Trump’s own Homeland Security Department.”

Although Trump and his allies have been smearing Antifa in order to terrorize Trump’s base of older white male voters, their assertions have demonstrated that they don’t know much about Antifa (which stands for “anti-fascist”). First, Antifa is a movement, not an organization. Second, Trumpistas tend to lump Antifa and Black Bloc anarchists together even though they’re separate movements. And Sargent, in his column, shows that he clearly knows the difference between Antifa and anarchists.

Sargent says of the DHS document, “Not only does this document not name Antifa, this description of generic ‘anarchist extremists’ does not describe what we’ve come to understand ‘Antifa’ to be. While there might be some loose overlap between Antifa and anarchists, Antifa isn’t even a group — and adherents are characterized by specific resistance to perceived neo-fascist movements. Meanwhile, the DHS document defines ‘anti-government extremists’ as motivated by ‘their belief that their liberties are being taken away by the perceived unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate actions of government officials or law enforcement.’ Obviously, that’s not Antifa either.”

Former DHS official Juliette Kayyem reviewed the document at Sargent’s request and told him, “This document shows that the government itself does not view Antifa as a significant threat in the homeland. The document shows how absurd the Trump campaign’s justification for using the symbol really is. It undercuts their defense.”

Although the DHS document doesn’t cite Antifa as a threat, it is specific about who it does consider a threat — and in addition to anarchists, it mentions white supremacists and the far-right Boogaloo movement (which is hoping to bring about a second civil war in the United States). In Northern California, Steven Carrillo — a man believed by the Department of Justice officials to be associated with the Boogaloo movement — has been charged with murder following the shooting of a security officer. And the DHS document that Sargent and Kayyem reviewed specifically mentions Carrillo.

Sargent writes, “The DHS document actually does cite the ‘Boogaloo movement’ as a threat in this context. It notes that Carrillo is likely associated with it, defining it as ‘a term used by some violent extremists from a variety of movements who seek to incite a race war or the collapse of society.’”

Sargent concludes his column by noting that the DHS document warns of “the possibility of more attacks on law enforcement” and quoting a former DHS official who told him that making misleading claims about Antifa does a disservice to law enforcement.

The official told Sargent, “Attributing the risk to one group (or mischaracterizing its structure) is dangerous, because it misses the holistic nature of the problem, excludes those that do present a danger and ultimately, puts law enforcement at increased risk.”

Source AlterNet – Alex Henderson

 

Bolton the Coward’s karma, is messing with his greedy plans

For one brief moment, the eyes of the nation were on Chicken Hawk and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. The impeachment of Donald Trump was ongoing, and Bolton was known to have played a critical role behind the scenes of the Ukraine scheme at the heart of the proceedings’ charges. Reports indicated that his potential testimony would be explosive.

But greedy and cowardly Bolton refused to testify before the House of Representatives’ impeachment hearing, later saying he was only willing to testify for the Senate, knowing he wouldn’t be called. The shameless Republican Party that would ultimately acquit Trump in the Senate refused to call any witnesses, so Bolton’s voice was never heard. At a critical moment in the nation’s history, Bolton chose to withhold potentially vital information from the public and from the officials tasked with adjudicating the president’s fitness to serve.

Now that cowardice has come back to bite him in the ass.

Bolton has sought to publish a book recounting his time in the White House, which will delve into key events in the Ukraine saga. But with impeachment over and that scandal in the rearview mirror, interest in Bolton’s recollections has seriously waned. So when his lawyer, Chuck Cooper, took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to complain that the White House is preventing Bolton from publishing his book, few observers were overflowing with sympathy. In fact, most of us are laughing at him.

Cooper whined: Tyrant Trump doesn’t want John Bolton to publish his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” It was supposed to come out in March, but Simon & Schuster was twice forced to push the publication date back more than three months, to June 23, while the manuscript underwent “prepublication review” by the National Security Council (NSC).

The purpose of the prepublication review is to protect national-security secrets. Regulations disallow its use “to prevent embarrassment to a person.” Yet that’s how the White House has used the process in this case. The effort violates those regulations and Mr. Bolton’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. He should have testified before the House Impeachment hearing the White House couldn’t have stopped him.

Pointing to public reports and Bolton’s own extensive efforts with administration officials to ready the book for publication, Cooper suggested that the book is being blocked to save Trump from any damaging information it contains. But he said it won’t work. “This is a transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import,” he wrote. “This attempt will not succeed, and Mr. Bolton’s book will be published on June 23.”

This is, to be sure, a clear abuse of power. As Cooper pointed out, the federal government is not supposed to use the pre-clearance process to prevent former officials from publishing unclassified claims for the purpose of protecting the administration from embarrassment.

And while we should never brush off Trump’s abuses of power, as numerous as they are, Bolton is in the worst possible position to complain. He could have participated in the impeachment proceedings, as was his civic duty, but he hid behind the White House as a shield. So he enabled Trump’s tactics to avoid punishment for his previous abuses of powers. And if Bolton had testified, much of the content the White House is so concerned about becoming public would already be public, so it would have a much weaker excuse to delay publication.

Many speculated at the time, though, that Bolton was afraid of revealing the juiciest details in his book, fearing they would dampen sales. In fact, it may have had the opposite effect. Interest in Bolton and in the impeachment drama has since faded as the pandemic, recession, and nationwide protests have overwhelmed the country.

Former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller was sharply disdainful of Cooper’s piece in the Journal:” John Bolton would like us to know Trump is abusing his power to retaliate against an opponent, and because this time it’s him, he’s happy to have his lawyer share details with the press.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-white-house-vs-john-bolton-11591813953?shareToken=stcb2c954e0f0e4ac3adaabd1bb598810d&reflink=share_mobilewebshare …

Bolton may yet get his book published, though the White House could move once again to block him. But his struggle to get it to the presses would probably have been much easier if he had just done the right thing and testified in the first place.

 

Edited from Alternet story

 

Conspiracy theories and propaganda on steroids: the Trump campaign 2020

The usual horrible tweets from Donald Trump are surely the result of impulsive decisions made during Trump’s extensive “executive time” (read: sitting on the toilet, watching Fox News), there’s sadly good reason to believe that actual deliberation went into Tuesday’s tweet in which Trump smeared Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old peace activist who received a horrible head injury as a result of being pushed by police during a protest in Buffalo, New York.

The tweet, which accuses Gugino of being “an ANTIFA provocateur” trying to “blackout” police equipment and who “fell harder than was pushed,” has one of the main hallmarks of being written by someone other than Trump, such as a White House staffer: It uses, and even correctly spells, a $5 word — “provocateur” — that is outside of Trump’s extremely limited vocabulary. So while the tweet masquerades as a Trumpian outburst, allowing Republican politicians and some media figures to pretend it’s not important, odds are this was not impulsive at all, but a calculated effort to float a conspiracy theory meant to discredit not just Gugino, but the larger protest movement against police brutality and racism that’s sweeping the nation.

Trump and his advisors might not be the brightest bunch ever assembled in the White House — in fact, they’re probably the dimmest in history — but even they understand the propaganda power of conspiracy theories. When the facts are against someone’s viewpoint, conspiracy theories give them a set of “alternative facts” they can use to stick by a grotesque ideology.

That’s why it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories — both about the protesters and about the death of George Floyd, whose murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was the flashpoint that kicked off weeks of national and even international protests — have been spreading rapidly in right-wing circles. The problem is only likely to get worse, as increasing numbers of Americans are opening their eyes to the grim realities of police brutality, especially against people of color, and conservative leaders get more desperate to keep the old systems in place.

On Tuesday, the CEO of the gym chain CrossFit, Greg Glassman, resigned after tape was released of a company meeting in which Glassman told employees, “We’re not mourning for George Floyd,” rolling out an elaborate conspiracy theory about how Floyd was supposedly murdered by Chauvin “to silence him over the counterfeit money.”

The tape was released after Glassman had already drawn criticism for throwing out a bunch of incoherent tweets that suggested he possesses a Trumpian skepticism at the sincerity of progressive concerns about police brutality and the coronavirus. Glassman then turned around and echoed a narrative similar to that pushed by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as if there is proof that Floyd’s death had nothing to do with systemic racism or police brutality.

There is one employee at the club that employed both Floyd and Chauvin as security who is claiming the two men had butted heads before. But, if true, it only reinforces the concerns of progressives that police are able to hide behind their badge to inflict senseless violence on civilians and get away with it, particularly as Chauvin was aided and protected during the alleged killing (Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder) by three other officers.

Trump’s conspiracy theory about Gugino is equally incoherent, as it requires believing a 75-year-old man would deliberately crack his own skull on a sidewalk as agitprop. But conspiracy theories don’t need to be coherent. They just need to give people something to cling to in order to justify their pre-existing desire to ignore and reject the clear and obviously true claims of protesters about the racism and authoritarianism of American law enforcement. And now the number of conspiracy theories about both Floyd’s murder and the protests that have resulted are multiplying.

The White House has floated a conspiracy theory accusing Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro of secretly instigating and fueling the protests.

The Texas Tribune reports that a large number of GOP county chairs in the state have been caught spreading conspiracy theories in recent days. The conspiracy theories include claims that Floyd’s death was faked, that Jewish billionaire George Soros is secretly masterminding the protests and that both the coronavirus and police brutality are hoaxes being concocted to hurt Trump’s re-election chances.

Former Fox News host and current head of a right-wing media empire Glenn Beck also backed the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Soros is masterminding Black Lives Matter protests, and is “trying to get blacks to separate from their church.”

(The idea that Jews are secretly controlling civil rights movements is a conspiracy theory that dates back to at least the 1950s, and is rooted in the racist assumption that black people are incapable of organizing a movement on their own.)

Christian right minister Dave Daubenmire, who was recently tapped to be the keynote speaker at a GOP fundraiser in Ohio, also floated the idea that Floyd’s death was staged, telling viewers, “I don’t even know if he’s dead. Closed casket,” and asking, “Has anybody seen the body of George Floyd?”

But while the more fringe right-wing elements — a group that apparently includes the president of the United States — are going wild, Fox News is engaging with what is perhaps the most potent conspiracy theory of them all: the claim that the protests are being organized or escalated by a shadowy leftist Soros-funded organization called “Antifa.” Hosts and contributors have boosted narratives about how “Antifa” is forming militias to take over cities and small towns, and amplified false claims that “Antifa” is stashing bricks around cities for protesters to fling at cops.

In reality, the word “Antifa” is just a catch-all term for disparate groups of activists, some organized and some not, who embrace confrontational tactics against fascists and white supremacists. They aren’t a touring militia of mobilized marauders and certainly aren’t funded by Soros. A Reuters review shows, however, that the people who have been arrested for violent actions at protests have not been connected to left-wing groups, but some have been white supremacists looking to stir things up.

These conspiracy theories allow conservatives to downplay the legitimate concerns and organizing prowess of Black Lives Matter, a grassroots movement without centralized leadership. As the pressure mounts, expect to see more and more of these conspiracy theories proliferate through both right-wing media and on social media platforms. It seems some conservatives would rather spend time on these conspiracy theories than talk about the larger problems being highlighted by the protests.

If you find yourself engaging with people who are citing conspiracy theories, avoid getting in a line-by-line argument with people over a narrative’s plausibility. Even getting into a fight over whether Floyd’s murder was “staged” is giving in to the desire to distract from the real issues.

Instead, the better approach is to go meta. Treat it as self-evident that the conspiracy theories are false (as they often are), and instead focus on calling out conspiracy theorists for repeating baseless claims in the service of a racist agenda.

A good model to follow is that of the person who leaked the Glassman call to Buzzfeed News. Instead of trying to argue with Glassman’s inanity, this anonymous person decided to simply expose his racist rant. The strategy succeeded, as evidenced by Glassman’s resignation.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.-N.Y., also provides a good model on how to deal with these conspiracy theories. Instead of trying to argue with Trump’s self-evidently ridiculous theory about Gugino, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that “everyone saw on video exactly what happened,” and so there’s no need to argue over it. Instead, she castigated Trump’s tweet as “reprehensible” and an attack on “a 75-year-old man — justice-loving man”.

Conspiracy theorists win if we focus too heavily on arguing the content of the theories. The key is to shift away from the “what” to the “why.” Highlighting the goals of conspiracy theorists — defending racism, spreading confusion — instead puts conspiracy theorists on the defensive. The only way to defeat them is to not play their game.

 – Commentary From Amanda Marcotte, Salon

MSNBC canonizes former EPD chief Andrew (andy) Mills, then the Local media follows suit, disgusting

Holy Trinity pictured here: Murderer Stephens, double murderer and newly promoted Liles and Saint Mills

A few of our readers recently sent us emails wondering why we hadn’t responded to the media lovefest of former EPD Chief Andy Mills. He took a knee in the recent protests against police violence, which he quickly used to try to get some good press coming his way. Here’s our simple answer, we have been receiving so much info regarding a recent lawsuit against Mills and Santa Cruz that we tried to ignore Mills Silver Tongued BS in the press. You see, we never once thought Mills supported people of color and especially ‘Black Lives’:
https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/local-firefighter-files-grievance-over-black-lives-matter-pin/

Mills isn’t just someone who spins the truth, he was and still is a damn good liar. Back in 2017, when he started at Santa Cruz, he heard from multiple women who had been sexually assaulted by a long term police officer, union leader, and good-old-boy friend of the department. Mills didn’t believe the women, or if he did he didn’t care about their pain or pleas for help. However, an independent outside investigation was started and the sexual predator that Mills supported was arrested for….surprise surprise…..sexually assaulting multiple female officers! Here’s a quick rundown of the lawsuit currently against Mills and Santa Cruz PD.

Ex-Santa Cruz cop sues city, police

Mills is still a liar who will use any situation for his own political gain. However, we’ll never forget the murder of Tommy McClain, and how Mills promoted the supervisor in charge of this debacle Brian Stephens to Captian.
We will update readers as to the lawsuit against Mills for failing to protect female cops from being raped by his good friend at Santa Cruz PD.

As a side note of history, prior to being hired by Santa Cruz, Mill’s wife was sexually assaulted by a former EPD Sergeant, now current EPD Captain. It happened at the wedding where that Captain was getting married. In the sick world of white male-dominated policing, being drunk and touching the intimate parts of women against those women’s will was and apparently still is a part of the culture Mills supported. Mills must have thought it was funny when that Sergeant grabbed on to Mrs. Mills intimate parts, in front of numerous employees at EPD, while that Sergeant made comments about never having felt silicon breasts. Mills must have supported that behavior since that supervisor was never disciplined and everyone in the department heard about the incident. Everyone working at EPD knew of the incident, so why would Santa Cruz be surprised that Mills sometimes overlooks sexual violence against women if it helps him politically? We’re sure those questions will be answered in the court proceedings against Mills…unless Santa Cruz settles and sweeps this case under the rug.

 

While we’re dealing with Coronavirus and state-sponsored murder, Tyrant Trump is dismantling environmental protections

In a cynical action to limit environmental regulations in the US, the Trump regime decided to accelerate the construction of infrastructure projects and at the same time weaken the authority of the government to issue a strong climate and clean air policies.

Under this move, agencies can now waive some of the required environmental reviews of infrastructure projects to be built during the pandemic, according to an executive order signed by Tyrant Trump. This adds to a proposed new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that could limit the strength of air pollution controls.

The move is just the latest in a long list of decisions made by Trump to weaken environmental regulations. The list includes greenlighting the Dakota and Keystone pipelines, appointing a climate change denier as head of the EPA (Scott Pruitt), and reconsidering fuel efficiency standards.

Trump’s made-up rationale for this is: “In light of this and other developments, I have determined that, without intervention, the United States faces the likelihood of a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistent high unemployment,” Trump’s executive order said, allowing agencies to bypass environmental rules to approve new infrastructure projects. (Not to mention line their pockets)

The Transportation Department, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Defense Department and the Army Corps of Engineers will have to “use all relevant emergency and other authorities” to expedite infrastructure projects, the order reads. They must report back to the White House within 30 days with a list of all projects that have been fast-tracked.

The order essentially undermines and overrides normal procedures under laws like the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act. Environmental organizations harshly condemned the move, pointing out it will affect the poor, indigenous groups, and people of color the most.

“A public health crisis is not an excuse to drill, mine and pave our public lands, and the American people won’t fall for it,” Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director of the Center for Western Priorities, told The New York Times. “This order will almost certainly increase environmental injustice across America.”