Monday, September 30, 2019

Fascists In Austria, Fascists On Fox News, Fascist In The Oval Office


I have a recollection from a history class that after World War I, the Treaty of Versailles prohibited the unification of Germany and Austria-- Anschluss. Unification was one of the goals Hitler laid out in Mein Kampf. In 1934 Austria's fascist Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by pro-Anschluss Austrian Nazis in a failed coup. His successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, was also a fascist and also resisted the idea of unification with Germany claiming Austrians were racially superior to the Germans. He had local Nazis rounded up and put in concentration camps. Hitler went crazy and made a series of demands that increasingly exterminated Austrian independence until in March of 1934-- to prevent a plebiscite-- Hitler invaded Austria, breaking the Treaty of Versailles. The Austrians greeted the German troops with wild enthusiasm, flowers and Nazi salutes. Hitler toured the country the next day announced Anschluss. Although there was some rumblings of disapproval from Britain, Italy and France, it was just hot air. Mexico's protests were louder. Austria's Jews were immediately targeted with the aggressive approval of Austria's non-Jews. The following month there was a plebiscite to approve the unification and it passed with 99.7% of the vote and Austria became the German province of Ostmark. In London, The Times likened the union as the same as Scotland having joined England 300 years earlier. Austrians generally became enthusiastic Nazis and in many cases, even more so than the Germans, contributing, aside from Hitler himself, lots of Nazi leaders including monsters like SS General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Jewish extermination chief Alois Brunner, Nazi operative Otto Skorzeny, and, of course, Adolf Eichmann.

In the early 1970's-- probably '72 or '73-- I got stuck in Innsbruck for about 5-6 months. World War II was long over but the people there came across as a real bunch Nazis, especially the older ones. It was pretty horrible and I would escape to Munich, across the border with Germany or through the Brenner Pass into Italy and to Venice whenever I could. I guess because Vienna was so cosmopolitan and sophisticated it came across as far less of a Nazi bastion that little Innsburuck in Tyrol.

Yesterday, Austria elected a neo-Nazi chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, although U.S. media, or at least those bothering to report on it at all, refer to him and his facsist People's Party as "center right." The People's Party is more known as a cesspool of corruption rather than a cesspool of fascism, but Austrian voters-- overwhelmingly Nazis themselves-- are always happy to embrace both. Kurz's freedom party increased it's share of the vote from 2017 from 31.5% to 38.4% yesterday. The center-left Social Democrats went down from 26.9% to 21.5% and Kurz's junior partner in the coalition government, the even further right Freedom Party did pretty badly-- down to 17.3% from 26.0%, probably because it had worked with the Social Democrats to bring down the People's Party previous government after a video-taped corruption scandal exploded.

The Greens share of the vote went from 3.8% to an impressive 12.4%, making it a major player in Austrian politics. The pro-EU party (NEOs) increased their share of the vote from 5.3% to 7.8%. These are the estimated number of seats in the 183-Parliament each of the main parties will hold:
People's Party- 73
Social Democrats- 41
Freedom Party- 32
Greens- 23
NEOs- 14

So, since we're talking about fascists... strange how Trump seems to be working so hard to fracture Fox News! He was certainly storming away on Twitter about Fox over the weekend. He really got into the exchange between Ed Henry and Mark Levin yesterday. Martin Pengelly of The Guardian had the best report I saw, Trump jumps shark with retweets attacking Fox News host. He started by making the point about Señor Trumapnzee's well-known fear of sharks. "Trump," he wrote, "may be the great white hope of the Republican party, but his dislike of sharks is well known. It seemed odd, then, that in a Sunday feeding frenzy of retweets attacking a Fox News pundit, the president gave voice to a bot that seeks to satirise his rampant galeophobia.

Trump appeared to have been watching TV at the White House, before leaving for a second straight day at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia.

On Fox & Friends, host Ed Henry had asked radio host Mark Levin if he thought the president did anything “illegal” in the 25 July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy which is at the heart of impeachment proceedings.

True to form, Levin reacted angrily. This seemed to please the president, who retweeted more than 20 tweets about the exchange.

One referred to another Fox News anchor whose coverage of the Ukraine scandal has stoked turmoil at the network: “Can we face off Levin and worlds [sic] worst anchor Chris Wallace?”

Others included: “Mark Levin ripped Ed Henry a new one” and “Mark Levin sure put that lying shit head Ed Henry in his place didn’t he?”

In less vulgar fashion, the president also relayed a message from @TBASharks.

The account is a bot, full title Trump But About Sharks, which explains its mission thus: “Trump apparently hates sharks, so this bot does some word replacement on his tweets to make them about sharks.”

The message retweeted by the president therefore read: “RT @BulldawgDerek @foxandfriends A Sunday Morning; Amen Mark Levin, Preach Brother! You shut down Ed Henry and the Pro Shark Media with the fac[ts].”

The original tweet, which Trump also retweeted, referred to “the fake news,” a common target for Trump if not usually including hosts of Fox & Friends.

Trump’s fear and dislike of sharks is well established. In 2013, two years before he emerged Jaws-like from the depths to savage the body politic, he tweeted: “Sharks are last on my list-- other than perhaps the losers and haters of the world!”

In 2018, the adult film maker and actor Stormy Daniels revealed that during the brief affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006-- which he denies-- he enthused about a TV special about a shipwreck.

“It was like the worst shark attack in history,” said Daniels. “He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks.

“He was like, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’ He was like riveted. He was like obsessed.

“It’s so strange, I know.”
Alan Grayson, after reading Trump's deranged threats to stoke up a civil war, had a comment, addressed to Trump: "Note to Donald Trump: nobody gives a damn about you, you self-indulgent fool, and nobody is going to war for you, even though you do exhibit a slaveowner mentality that this country hasn’t seen much in the past 150 years." I thought it would be a good way to end the evening.

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Worst Democraps In Congress-- Time For NRA Champion Anthony Brindisi


Brindisi addressing other right-wing fake Democrats

There are just 10 Democrats left who haven't come out for an impeachment inquiry. It's probably the final list-- cowardly careerists afraid of losing their seats. These are the final 10-- 9 Blue Dogs and someone who should be tossed out of the Progressive Caucus-- with Trump's 2016 win numbers in their districts:
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)- 54.8%
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)- 53.5%
Jared Golden (Coward-ME)- 51.4%
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)- 53.2%
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)- 49.3%
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)- 39.1%
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 61.8%
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)- 53.6%
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)- 50.1
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)- 50.6%
Before we get into Brindisi, I want to just mention that DCCC chair Cheri Bustos and Señor Trumpanzee can hold a joint fundraiser for Jefferson Van Drew. Wouldn't that be clarifying? Van Drew was on Fox & Friends yesterday throwing shade at fellow Democrats for opening an impeachment inquiry. Trumpanzee tweeted "'All that’s swirling around us now is Impeachment. We talk about it day and night, it’s what’s on the news, there is NOTHING that has turned up that is Impeachable. Our founding fathers set impeachment to be extremely rare. We need to get good stuff done. Let the people vote... we are going to have an Election very shortly.' Rep. Jeff Van Drew, Democrat of New Jersey. @foxandfriends Thank you. Just another Witch Hunt by Nancy Pelosi and the Do Nothing Democrats!" Van Drew told Fox viewers that he doesn’t believe anything "turned up that is truly is impeachable" at this point.

I can understand why Collin Peterson is so scared of Trump voters. He's got a really hard core rural red district, filled with Trumpists. But none of the others do. Trump won marginally in the other districts. The second biggest Trump score was in Brindisi's upstate New York district-- all or part of 8 counties that wanted CHANGE, not Trump. How do I know? In 2016 these counties completely rejected the the status quo candidacy of Hillary Clinton. In fact of the 8 counties in Brindisi's district all 8 went to Bernie in the primary (listed in order of population):
• Bernie- 7,272
• Hillary- 6,054
• Trumpanzee- 10,830
• Bernie- 9,176
• Hillary- 7,035
• Trumpanzee- 8,409
• Bernie- 2,346
• Hillary- 1,880
• Trumpanzee- 2,968
• Bernie- 1,755
• Hillary- 1,377
• Trumpanzee- 3,955
• Bernie- 1,494
• Hillary- 958
• Trumpanzee- 2,384
• Bernie- 1,878
• Hillary- 1,402
• Trumpanzee- 1,627
• Bernie- 3,066
• Hillary- 2,424
• Trumpanzee- 6,151
• Bernie- 1,825
• Hillary- 1,232
• Trumpanzee- 2,801
Last year the Republicans managed to lose the two biggest counties-- Oneida, Broome-- hold the 3rd biggest (Madison) by a virtual tie and lose Cortland by double digits. So win is Brindisi such a woos? I asked a member of Congress yesterday. He told me that all Brindisi ever does is whine about how anything the caucus wants to do that is even vaguely progressive. "Do you want to end my career?" is his one and only cpontribution to any discussion about anything. "And I bet he skips right over to Peter King and tells him everything he's heard from our side of the aisle. (Because he's one of the chairs of the Blue Dog caucus, Brindisi is privy to planning sessions so he's hearing a lot more than he should.)

The other day, Brindisi and the Republican next door, John Katko, made a joint statement to the media about opposing the beginning of an impeachment inquiry. Katko is an absolutely horrible member of Congress and, hopefully, the DCCC won't screw up the election again, which will mean he's replaced by progressive champion Dana Balter. But Brindisi is actually a worse-- and more destructive-- member of Congress than Katko is. And Brindisi has no primary. Cheri Bustos has threatened anyone who wants to primary him and, in fact, has been fundraising for him, even after his joint statement with Katko:

Brindisi is bad on just about everything. His ProgressivePunch score is not just an F-- it's tied with fellow Blue Dogs Jeff Van Drew (NJ) and Joe Cunningham (SC) as the worst Democratic record in Congress. His crucial vote score is exactly 20%. As a point of reference, conservative Republicans John Katko (NY) and Thomas Massie (KY) voted more progressively than he does, respectively 21.35% and 28.50%. Brian Fitzpatrick scored a 20.10% and Justin Amash's lifetime score in 32.86%. Amash is very conservative but his score for the current cycle is 57.78%. Compared that to Brindisi's 20.0%. And Brindisi sucks across the board. When Jim Clyburn's moderate background check bill came up for a vote, 7 Republicans voted for it and just 3 Democrats voted against it, Brindisi, of course, being one of them. How about raising the minimum wage? That should be easy for every Democrat, right? Well, almost every Democrat. Three Republicans voted with the Democrats to raise the minimum wage. Six Blue Dogs who hate the working class-- Xochitl Torres Small (NM), Kurt Schrader (OR), Joe Cunningham (SC), Ben McAdams (UT), Kendra Horn (OK) and, of course Brindisi (NY) voted to kill it. Does this lunkhead think voters-- who backed Bernie in 2019-- in Binghampton, Rome, Utica, Cortland and Oneida don't want better wages? This clown deserves to lose his seats. I asked my friend the congressman if he agrees. His whispered, "yes!" This is the kind of raw sewage in a suit and tie that Cheri Bustos is trying to protect from progressives.

And the Democrats who kiss up to the GOP most-- and most frequently vote for their reactionary positions and policies-- are the ones the NRCC goes after with the most vehemence. This ad above started running over the weekend to destroy freshman Blue Dog Max Rose, even though he-- like his pal Brindisi-- has adamantly and publicly opposed an impeachment inquiry. This is the misleading press statement the NRCC sent out: "Aware of the political damage it will cause, Max Rose is desperate to convince Staten Island voters he hasn’t backed the socialist Democrats baseless impeachment of President Trump."

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Of Treason, Of Bullshit, Of Civil War


Congressional Terrorist by Nancy Ohanian

Over the weekend Trump TV reported that "Fox News has learned that the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council were 'unanimous' in supporting the aid to Ukraine, and that Trump acted alone in withholding the aid over the summer." That was the aid Trump stopped and then used to try to force Ukraine to do his political dirty work against Biden, to-- as Ted Lieu was willing to say before anyone else-- manufacture dirt on Joe Biden. This morning, in an e-mail he sent me, Ted added, "That Trump's recent Tweets threatening civil war are despicable, dangerous and a complete betrayal of his oath of office goes without saying. It is sadly just the latest example of this President shattering our democratic norms. Now is the time for patriotic Americans of every political persuasion to put country above party, and stand up and speak out against this disgraceful rhetoric."  

Personally, I've hated Biden since the '70s and I get some degree of perverse satisfaction seeing him smeared by the raging asshole in the Oval Office-- but, very clearly, what Trump is doing is treasonous, pure and simple. And late last night and this morning, he turned his treason up to 11. Note well-- the first call for civil war is at the bottom of this desperate, crazy tweet storm:

Jamie Raskin (D-MD), is one of Congress' most brilliant members. We should all be very, very happy he's also a member of the Judiciary Committee. This morning, in an e-mail after Trump's treasonous tweet, he noted that "With charity towards none and malice for all, Trump now recirculates the threat of ‘a Civil War like fracture’ if he is impeached.  So now we can see the contributions of our first GOP president and our undoubtedly last GOP president. Lincoln created the Republican Party and gave his life in order to save the Union. Trump ruined the Republican Party and now threatens to destroy the Union in order to save his job."

Like Raskin, Mike Siegel is another brilliant attorney-- except he isn't on the Judiciary Committee yet, or even in Congress; he's running for a central Texas seat held by drunken Trump-Enabler, Michael McCaul. Today he told me that he was "born in 1977, three years after Nixon resigned. I’ve never experienced this level of political instability, inside the United States. Trump’s pandering to white supremacists, to ICE and border patrol, is essentially a call to arms, to gather brownshirts in favor of some sort of fascist dictatorship. He doesn’t respect courts or Congress, journalists, social norms, or the rule of law. We can’t fool ourselves that impeachment is inevitable. We have a major struggle ahead, for the soul of our country and the preservation of democracy-- perhaps the most important struggle of our lives."

Ro Khanna is optimist. From a note he sent me, I'm gathering he doesn't feel Joe Biden is likely to be elected president. "After Trump," he wrote, "I believe we will have a leader who will usher in a new progressive era and a moment of national reconciliation. This nation had Lincoln after Buchanan and Roosevelt after Hoover. I am confident we will have a leader who summons the best of America post Trump."

One of the first reactions from the right, came from Illinois conservative Republican Adam Kinzinger, who served honorably in the Air Force and often seems repulsed by Trump's denigration of our country and the principles and values it was built on. He slammed Trump's outrageous impeachment bullshit.

You know what criticism does to Trump though-- something he learned from his fascist little shit idol, Roy Cohn-- he digs in. In this case, he started carrying on about how Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff should be arrested for exactly what Trump is defending himself from-- treason. Last year Adam won reelection with 78.4% of the vote. There's not much room for growth but Trump's vile attacks will likely mean Schiff will be elected with over 80% of the vote. And, he'll raise all the money he needs for an expected Senate run. He has no serious opposition for reelection and he's already raised $3,125,472 this cycle and has $6,143,791 in his campaign account. All my neighbors want to do fundraisers for him-- thanks in part to Trump's idiotic attacks on him.

Yep, that was a cornered rat screeching to his moron followers that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff could face "arrest for treason."

Rory Cooper is a right-wing Republican, a campaign strategist who used to work at Eric Cantor's communications director. This morning he wrote at the Daily Beast that his party will get what they deserve if they don't distance themselves from Trump now. "As a Republican who has watched partisan politics play out in Washington for over two decades," he wrote, "I’m sympathetic to the argument that Democrats wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he was inaugurated. However, it was just as certain to me that he would eventually do something to justify impeachment. And early appearances suggest he has. At best, President Trump used his office to seek personal and political gain and engage in 2016 conspiracy peddling with a strategic ally engaged in a war with Russia. At worse, Trump held back military aid to Ukraine in order to extract this personal and political gain. It’s a difference without a distinction when it comes to his fitness to serve. The military assistance, authorized by the Congress, was unilaterally held back by Trump, with no coordination with the National Security Council or the Office of Management and Budget, according to the IG’s report. Based on these revelations and what President Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have publicly admitted, an impeachment investigation is warranted."

Jeff Flake was a member of the House when Cooper was working with Cantor to elect more right-wingers to Congress. Flake was one of those right-wingers and the reason he was the one who got the nomination for a U.S. Senate seat was because he was the most right wing of all the members of the Arizona congressional delegation. His New York Times op-ed today just drips with loathing for Trump, as he warns Republicans there's still time for them to save their souls. He's wrong there. It's too late for them. "In my case," he wrote, "I had not supported the president’s election. One year into his presidency, I knew that I could not support his reelection. While I had hoped that I could still run for reelection to the Senate in 2018 as someone who would help to provide a check on the president’s worst impulses, it soon became apparent that this was not what Republican primary voters in my state were looking for. Whatever reservations they might have had when they voted for Donald Trump, one year into his presidency they wanted a senator who was all in… Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those. For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that. Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul."

NY Times columnist Peter Wehner was inspired by all this to ask a simple question: What's The Matter With Republicans? Why, he wondered do they still defend an obvious criminal and low-life? "Month after month, with one outrageous, norm-shattering comment or action giving way to another, Republicans who in the past could never have envisioned being Trump acolytes, have been ground down. Accommodation has kicked in, which is a psychological relief to many of them. For those who view Mr. Trump as a model politician who voices their grievances and fights with a viciousness they have long hoped for from Republicans, the accommodation is not just a relief but a source of delight. As the psychologist I spoke to, put it to me, many Republicans 'are nearly unrecognizable versions of themselves pre-Trump. At this stage it’s less about defending Trump; they are defending their own defense of Trump. At this point,' this person went on, 'condemnation of Trump is condemnation of themselves. They’ve let too much go by to try and assert moral high ground now. Calling out another is one thing; calling out yourself is quite another.'" Now conjure up sick little South Carolina closet queen Lindsey Graham, a personal cesspool of psychosis.

Whistleblower by Nancy Ohanian

I spoke to three deep thinkers among 2020 congressional candidates, Jennifer Christie, an indiana scientist and a mother of 4 young children and North Carolina pastor Jason Butler, both of whom we've endorsed and spoken about extensively already; and Chicago community activist Robert Emmons, who we are still vetting but who has impressed us tremendously. Butler first:
From the beginning it was clear that President Trump was a threat to democracy because he may be the first president in the history of our nation that has put himself above the office. It is precisely this self-exhaltatuion that makes him an existential threat to our nation. Because of his ego, he puts himself above our nation so of course it is now obvious that he will stoke the flames of civil war that would result in the suffering of multiplied millions and would almost invariably plunge the world into a global economic depression. But he doesn’t care. All he cares about is himself. This has been clear all along. He’s lived in a penthouse with golden toilets. He doesn’t know what real life is like for us and he has no clue that his actions and words have consequences for so many. To me, the fact that any he, as President, would ever even insulate, and thus condone, the possibility of civil war to protect his position is insurrectionist treason and the greatest threat to any nation. He has already divided us against one another and against our allies in the world - what is next? But it also must be noted that it was an evangelical pastor who he retweeted here, Robert Jeffress, who has been one of his strongest supporters. To my fellow church goers I want to say-- It is time that we collectively walked out of churches that stoke the flames of war of any sort-- but especially civil war. Jesus said, "Blessed are the Peacemakers" not blessed are the war mongers. This marriage of Trump and the evangelical church is leading us nothing but suffering.
Jennifer Christie noted that "Suggesting a civil war over the Constitutional impeachment process smacks of authoritarianism, incites violence, and is irresponsible. What Donald Trump forgets (or doesn’t know) is that Congress is an equal branch of government representing the People. But Trump does not respect the Constitution as we have seen from his attempts to obstruct justice, profit from the presidency, and attacks on free speech and free press. The best thing we could do is to rid ourselves of this era of divisiveness and Trumpian politics. I’m glad to see members of Congress from all parties standing up to his latest tweet."

Robert Emmons is 26 year old and already demonstrating the kind of wisdom that makes me imagine he could be one of the best members of Congress going forward. He told me that Trump "has hurt the ADOS community, the Latinx community, the Muslim community and every single patriotic American, with his hateful rhetoric and treason. He’s sided with White Nationalism and foreign countries, and spat in the face of movements of equality that have taken decades to build. This president and his ideology needs to be impeached swiftly with the full force of the US Federal government. If we continue down a path of racism, bigotry, fascism, profit-over-people, then our country will remain divided. It will be divided between the majority of us that want healthcare, education, a clean world, and justice for all, and those that support division that benefits people like Trump. I know that the people of the first district want unity right now. Impeaching the president will be one step in the right direction to prevent wars in all forms. We will not fall victim to the desperation of a system that is on its last leg; clinging onto an evil orientation that feeds on people as commodities. Instead we will rise to the occasion and build a world that is just and equitable. There will be no Civil War; only a fight to tilt the moral scale to the side of peace. The day of fear mongering is coming to a close because in this moment, and through the inquiry, we choose courage."

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Why We Will Never Leave Afghanistan


Bagram Air Base in north-central Afghanistan. Note Kandahar, home of Kandahar Air Field, much further south.

by Thomas Neuburger

The U.S. will never leave Afghanistan. Our military is too strong to be driven out by the Taliban, just as U.S. military control is too weak to "pacify" (fully conquer) the country.

Fortunately for the U.S., its goal is not to pacify the nation. The U.S. goal is much more narrow, and in geostrategic terms much more significant. It's to keep control of Bagram Air Base. So long as the U.S. controls Bagram and has a semi-successful client state installed in Kabul as a way of keeping the insurgency at arm's length, it has everything it needs to accomplish what it wants to accomplish in the region.

Holding Bagram Air Base does two things for U.S. military planners:
  • The Bagram base in particular and the U.S. occupation in general put a U.S. military presence on the borders of five important Central Asian nations — Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. From there the U.S. can project power in every direction that matters, east, north and west.
  • The base at Bagram represents a permanent and constant threat specifically to Iran, our designated primary enemy in the region. We are sitting on their border in the same way a Russian air base in Cuba would be sitting on ours — constantly a threat, constantly a reminder of the presence of a hostile foreign power.
The Bagram base has one added feature: Until 2014 it was home to one of the CIA's primary black torture sites, and perhaps it still is, unless you trust the CIA not to lie.

Until the U.S. makes peace with Iran — something I don't see happening under any presidency but Bernie Sanders', if at all — we will maintain our military presence there until we are forced by force to abandon it. Given the current state of our war against the Taliban and theirs against us — a kind of rolling, shooting stalemate — that base and that presence is as permanent as we want it to be.

For more, I refer you to this excellent short article by Ronald Enzweiler, a man who has lived and worked in the Middle East since the 1970s, including for seven years as a civilian adviser during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

After a discussion of who the Taliban are and why they will neither stop fighting nor ever lose popular support, Enzweiler writes this about why the U.S. will also never stop fighting (emphasis added):
The real reason for the pushback by the Washington national security establishment against getting all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is the guiding maxim of our post-World War II “War State” (the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned about) that has grown into a $1-trillion/year enterprise with a worldwide empire of over 800 foreign military installations: never give up a military base in a strategic location. The U.S. military eventually will be pushed out of Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan (it’s also a civilian airport near a large restive city in Taliban territory). But Bagram Airfield (a prior Soviet base north of Kabul) is a military-only installation in an easily defended remote area. Bagram is the missing piece in our War State’s chessboard of worldwide bases. Retaining it will enable our military to “project power” throughout Central Asia. It’s a steal at $30 to $40 billion/year (assuming troops levels and graft payments are drawn down at some point) for our overfunded War State. Representative Max Thornberry, then chairman and now ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited Bagram in October 2018. He publicly acknowledged afterwards that the U.S. seeks “a sustainable presence” in Afghanistan. (The U.S. military’s new high-tech F-35 fighters — a $1.5 trillion program — are manufactured at a Lockheed plant near Rep. Thornberry’s district in north Texas.)
To repeat — The guiding maxim of our post-World War II state is, never give up a military base in a strategic location. Look again at the map at the top. When will the Pentagon agree to surrender that base? Answer: Never.

Enzweiler is more certain that the U.S will eventually be pushed out of Afghanistan than I am, perhaps with good reason. He thinks, for example, that the U.S. will eventually lose Kandahar in the south, and of that I'm sure he's right. It's true that the Taliban will never stop fighting us, just as the Vietnamese never stopped.

But the U.S. doesn't need to hold Kandahar to hold Kabul. Note the location of Bagram on the map. So long as the U.S. holds that region and can maintains a compliant puppet "government" there with a reasonably sized "pacified" (or bribed) quiet zone around it — and so long as the current geopolitical forces of the world are not radically restructured by the coming and massive scramble that climate chaos will bring — our military will flex every muscle to maintain its position there. It doesn't have to control the country to control that region.

Will the U.S. military flex every muscle to keep the base at Bagram even if an elected president decides on a full withdrawal? I guess we'll have to wait and see on that one. To start, we'd need to elect a president who wants what voters want, an end to the war in Afghanistan.

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Adam Schiff Got His Revenge On Señor Trumpanzee For Calling Him Liddle Adam Schitt-- And Trump And His Media Lackeys Explode


Active Shooter by Nancy Ohanian

ABC News released the new poll by Ipsos yesterday and there was nothing in it that should surprise anyone. Most Americans know Trump is a treasonous scumbag and they expect treasonous scumbaggery from him. Or-- in more pollstery lingo: nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Señor Trumpanzee's encouragement of a foreign leader to investigate Trump's political rival and his family is a serious problem, but only 17% said they were surprised by the fake and illegitimate "president's" actions.

Also not surprising-- only 32% of Republican voters think this is serious. Last week, NPR released a poll showing that the number of people who think a formal impeachment inquiry is necessary rose sharply. Among registered voters, Trump's job approval was 45%, while 51% disapproved. Among independents, approval is 44% and disapproval 52%. Among adults, 18 years and older, 49% approve of the decision to start the impeachment inquiry and 46% disapprove. (93% of Republicans do not want an impeachment inquiry. Interestingly, if Trump were to defect to Russia, 93% of Republicans would accept whatever excuses Fox and Hate Talk Radio made up to excuse it.)

Are you watching the just-released Netflix series, The Politician? Episode 5, "The Voter," features Russell Posner as Elliot Beachman (the voter). His interest in the election is pretty much less than nothing. If you don't blink, you will see him in this clip shoving a pesky pollster down a flight of steps (2:22-2:23). I found it scary in this poll and in others like it that around 18% of adults don't know enough about Mitch McConnell to have an opinion about whether he's doing a good job or not-- including 20% of Republicans!-- and that 8% of adults don't know enough about Nancy Pelosi to have an opinion about whether she's doing a good job or not. Even greater numbers of people don't know who Chuck Schumer is. And almost no one knows who Kevin McCarthy is.

Meanwhile a CBS News poll shows that "more than half of Americans-- and an overwhelming number of Democrats-- say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry" into Señor T.

I live in Los Feliz, an L.A. neighborhood northeast of Hollywood, part of the 28th congressional district-- along with Burbank, Glendale, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Silverklake, Atwater, Echo Park, La Cañada Flintridge, Sunland-Tujunga and La Crescenta-- represented by Adam Schiff. When Trump declared war on Adam Schiff-- who Pelosi has tasked with leading the impeachment investigation rather than the less controllable Jerry Nadler-- was he declaring war on my neighborhood? [Trump's a fool; he should be happy that the Intelligence Committee is handling impeachment rather than the Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee includes some of the sharpest minds in the House dedicated to destroying him-- Ted Lieu, Jamie Raskin, Pramila Jayapal, Joe Neguse-- while the Intelligence Committee is mostly a home to timid moderates with far less of an instinct to move in for the kill.]

So far Trump's war against Schiff is just a Twitter war. Everyone in my neighborhood is hoping Trump keeps his war against Schiff on Twitter and doesn't act against the people who live in the district. It is worth noting, however, that Trump only got 22.3% of the vote in CA-28. And last year Schiff was reelected 196,662 (78.4%) to 54,272 (21.6%). 

If a Republican qualifies for the general election ballot next year-- likely but not guaranteed with Democrats Maebe A. Girl and Akinyemi Agbed also running, as well as 2 Republicans and possibly a third (crazy far-right second-rate actor Randy Quaid)-- it is likely to be crackpot and failed GOP Attorney General candidate Eric Early, who was badly defeated in the 2018 primary. Early has turned himself into a typical all-in Trump nut and there is a buzz in the district that Trump will bring his circus to the Greek Theater in Griffith Park, which is in the very center of Schiff's district-- and walking distance from my house. Trump, a clown who has referred to Schiff as Schitt, didn't appreciate Schiff's humor:
“Rep. Adam Schiff fraudulently read to Congress, with millions of people watching, a version of my conversation with the President of Ukraine that doesn’t exist,” Trump wrote online. “He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it... sound horrible, and me sound guilty.”

At Thursday’s Intelligence panel hearing, featuring testimony by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, Schiff offered an exaggerated version of the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.

That conversation, during which Trump urged Zelensky to work with Attorney General William Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, is the main focus of the impeachment probe into the president’s conduct.

“Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates,” Schiff said, before launching into his dramatic rendition of the call’s subtext.

“I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though, and I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good,” Schiff, channeling Trump, told the committee. “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it.”

The chairman’s monologue drew quick scorn from conservative commentators, as well as Trump’s campaign staff and Capitol Hill allies, and Schiff sought to clarify his remarks later in the hearing.

“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least part in parody. The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself,” he said, adding: “My point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving, in not so many words.”

But Trump refused to accept that explanation Friday, twice calling for Schiff’s resignation and claiming that he “lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public.”

The attacks came after Trump, tweeting just after 7 a.m., accused CNN of purposefully misreporting his derisive-- and curiously phrased-- nickname for his Democratic foil.

“To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle, in discribing Corrupt Congressman Liddle’ Adam Schiff. Low ratings @CNN purposely took the hyphen out and said I spelled the word little wrong. A small but never ending situation with CNN!” Trump wrote in his message, which incorrectly spelled the word “describing” and confused two punctuation marks.

The hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, were also irritated by Schiff's statement Thursday, devoting a brief segment to knocking him in the opening minutes of their broadcast.

“If you are the chairman of a committee, and you’re trying to get credibility for your latest impeachment push, why would you start in the fiction section of the library?” asked co-host Brian Kilmeade.

Later in the program, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow likened the performance to a “Saturday Night Live routine,” while White House spokesman Hogan Gidley mocked it as “some type of crazy cosplay convention” where Schiff was “dressing up like a congressman reading fantasy.”

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

With great sadness and anger, I can't help but think about what happens to many women who seek a court injunction against a belligerent, crazed and abusive man. If impeachment is the equivalent of that kind of injunction, then just imagine what Trump's sick mind is plotting for us next. Same goes for his henchmen. That just makes it even more imperative that we not make any compromises whatsoever with Trump and his enablers and supporters. Way too many have been made already to this point. There's no need to dress pretty for any red-hatted devils, anywhere or at any time. Sledgehammers, people. Sledgehammers!

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

The President Of These United States Is Openly Using The Power Of His Office And The Resources Of The Executive Branch To Conspire With Foreign Governments Against Americans


-by Joseph Mamét

So one thing I haven't seen teased out or talked about at all is, if the President has such serious concerns with what the Bidens did in the Ukraine, why didn't he ask his own investigative services like, for example, the FBI, to look into it? Why let a country we know is corrupt lead the way? And why isn't anyone asking that question? I mean, the answer is obvious-- their premise for all this is a bunch of crap-- but that no one is questioning said premise seems like a missed opportunity.

I think what I’m really asking is why aren’t Democrats asking any hard questions at all? Questions that could lead to all kinds of traps. For example: You don't you trust your own FBI, Mr. President? Then do you trust the acting DNI who just testified? Should we? Why would you trust a foreign country-- where corruption is rampant-- to investigate an American citizen? Some people are calling what you are doing a witch hunt, how do you react to that? What other favors have you asked foreign countries to do? When else have linked conversations about aid the American people are sending to foreign countries to having them do favors for you? And my favorite: Fucking hell, Mr. President, what other batshit crazy stuff have you done? Are you investigating me? Are you ok?

Every single Democrat should be planting seeds of doubt like this, making this about everything else, the unknown and unknowable. That's what Trump does, and it's ok to beat him at his own game. Instead, I bet Democrats all just keep their noses down, doing their homework, and that’s fine, and important, but meanwhile the Republicans poke constant holes in the story and their efforts.

And Democrats would be wrong to screw this up because this is incredibly serious stuff. I’ll put it in front of you again: by any reasonable interpretation, the President of these United States has been caught openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans. Read that again and tell me I’m wrong, I’ll wait. Yah, didn’t think so.

And, so help me, if you say, “well, the conspiracy wasn’t complete,” or “well, we don’t know if the Ukrainians did anything,” or “well, maybe Biden did it,” any other kind of stupid shit, I will slap you across your stupid face, just like Batman slapping Robin. Why? Because this isn’t about knowing the 100%, perfect, no-doubt truth anymore-- and that’s unknowable anyway, my naïve friend-- so get over it. No, what this is about is a cage-match-death-battle to protect our country, protect the concept of the Presidency, and to protect ourselves. The sooner you realize that, the better the chance we have.

Are Democrats holding back because it might hurt Biden? Bah. That can't be a real concern, can it? I mean, not if he's clean, right? But honestly, and this is important, so focus for a second: it doesn’t fucking matter if it’s true or not. It. Doesn’t.

What matters is we're talking about the greater good, and I don't just mean the "Trump is horrible and should be removed" greater good, I'm talking about the "if he can be duped into something like this by Rudy Anyone-who-listens-to-me-for-more-then-three-seconds-knows-I’ve-lost-my-marbles Giuliani, than he really is a real threat to this country" kind of greater good. After all, what's next, Stephen Miller convinces him that immigrants are all carrying a disease that only affects white people?

No, I think no is asking hard questions because Democrats lack the strength and creativity to attack this with anything close to the enthusiasm that we know their opponents will bring. I'm afraid that Democrats are generally such of bunch of weenies that they won't press down on the gas pedal like they should. "Well, we have to let the process play out and carefully assess all the information and then take our time making a determination." Meanwhile, Trump and his sycophants have not only stolen all the hens from the hen-house, they burned it down and built a for-profit prison in its place.

So grow a spine liberal weenies-- all of you! Yes, this means you, Mr. I-don’t-want-to-offend-anyone-sensitive-guy, and you, too, Ms. Reading-this-in-your-underwear-on-the-couch-with-chips-strewn-across-you-like-a-junkie. Oh, and especially you, Little-Johnny-do-gooder-let-the-process-play-out-super-weeny. All of you are hereby ordered to call your Congresspeople and tell them to grow a spine. Tell them that this is their shot and they better not screw it up. I mean for fuck’s sake, this is truly horrible. Truly fucking horrible. Let me say it again: the President of these United States is openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans.

I suppose incitement to civil war-- treason-- was inevitable

Now you say it, and say it out loud with me: the President of these United States is openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans.

Now grab your dog and yell it in his face: the President of these United States is openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans.

Grab your partner and say it together: the President of these United States is openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans.

Say it to your co-worker at the water cooler: the President of these United States is openly using the power of his office and the resources of the executive branch to conspire with foreign governments against Americans.

And then ask, “Jesus, what the fuck else has this idiot done like that?”

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As Trump Becomes Increasingly Toxic Among Independent Voters, GOP Incumbents Will Feel The Pressure To Separate Themselves From Trump


Mark Amodei (R-NV) desperately wants to change the backdrop

Lately, Eli Stokols has been doing some excellent reporting for the virtually moribund L.A. Times. I hope it's enough to save the paper from oblivion. It looks like nothing will save the GOP from oblivion, though-- at least not in the short term. In his latest, Stokol, noted that "Although Republican support in Congress appears solid, that firewall could falter if damaging new revelations emerge or if lawmakers find public support crumbling back in their districts. Congress went on recess Friday for two weeks and some lawmakers planned to hold town halls to gauge constituents’ views on impeachment." Republicans whose districts have large independent voting blocs will find it hard to stick with Trump. House members where Republicans can't win without significant support from independent voters are already under increasing pressure. A few examples of incumbents who have decided to run for reelection but who could easily be dragged down by Trump:
John Katko (NY)
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA)
Don Bacon (NE)
Rodney Davis (IL)
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)
Steve Chabot (OH)
Fred Upton (MI)
Michael Turner (OH)
Mark Amodei (NV)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
Michael McCaul (TX)
Scott Perry (PA)
Dan Crenshaw (TX)
Chip Roy (TX)
Ann Wagner (MO)
Bryan Steil (WI)
Peter King (NY)
Ross Spano (FL)
George Holding (NC)
Troy Balderson (OH)
Jim Hegedorn (MN)
Brian Mast (FL)
Denver Riggleman (VA)
Ted Budd (NC)
John Carter (TX)
Ron Wittman (VA)
David Joyce (OH)
Vern Buchanan (FL)
Elise Stefanik (NY)
Chris Smith (NJ)
Lee Zeldin (NY)
That's 32 districts held by Republicans-- and not counting districts where incumbents have already announced that they're bailing-- where there are too many independent voters for Republicans to win if the revelations about Trump's criminal and treasonous activities stay in the headlines and on TV and radio. The Mooch explained to Stokols why it will continue to fester: "The superficial support for this guy is wearing thin." Let me give you a good example of what's happening outside of DC. A recent poll in NE-02-- Omaha and surrounding communities-- puts progressive challenger Kara Eastman up against Trump Republican Don Bacon and it shows the extent to which Trump's standing is hurting Trump enablers among independents. Donald J. Trump is underwater in NE-02 46-53%, and Donald J. Bacon is losing to Kara among independents 45-53%. Neither a Democrat nor a Republican is ever going to win this district without independent support; that's just the way it is.

And a top Capitol staffer for a Republican senator told Stokol that "At this point, [Trump] could be caught walking out of a Federal Reserve bank with two giant sacks of money in his hands and no Republican would vote to impeach him for grand larceny. Our voters want two things from their congressmen: [dumping] on the media and blindly defending the president. That’s what being a Republican has come to." And that's the kind of thing independent voters absolutely detest and why the GOP is going to suffer massive losses in Congress next year.

Already one conservative Republican member, Mark Amodei, who represents Reno, Carson City and the Tahoe area-- where Democrats and independents from Northern California have been flocking-- has gone on the record as favoring an official impeachment hearing. He's the first, and so far only, Republican to do so-- and he's the last federal Republican elected official in Nevada. His district's R+7 PVI is completely out of date. Trump beat Hillary there but Trump only garnered 52.0%. Washoe County is where almost all Amodei's voters live. Last year, in the Senate race, a less-than-mediocre, completely worthless Democrat, Jacky Rosen, ousted Republican incumbent Dean Heller and won Washoe County 49.8% to 46.2%. Democrat Steve Sisolak beat better-known Republican Adam Laxalt for the governorship by winning Washoe 48.7% to 46.4% and although Amodei himself won Washoe, the county only performed as an R+2 for him. A couple of points slippage and he's toast. Last year his Democratic opponent, Clint Koble, didn't get as much as a nod or a nickel from the DCCC and raised only $152,389 compared to Amodei's $1,207,363. Koble is running again this cycle and his overly cautious approach is unlikely to help him oust Amodei... something only Trump could do. But Amodei is quite aware that it actually is something Trump could do.

Montana state Rep. Tom Winter ran and won a race in the western part of his state, right up against Idaho, that voted 11 points for Trump. Nearly half of the voters there identify as Independent. "When you actually talk to the people that are suspicious of both parties they’re clearly unhappy with what’s been going on these last three years," Tom, who's running for Congress, told us today. "Folks have been dealing with the effects of our broken politics for quite some time. They thought they were voting to shake up a system that wasn’t working for them. Now they just want to be able to wake up and not see the world on fire. And it wouldn’t hurt to tell them how you’re going to lower their healthcare costs too."

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