Trump supporters in China are up in arms and raging about a possible indictment: "Trump, America needs you"

"If Trump is arrested, it will signal the corruption of the American spirit," wrote one person on the Twitter-like Weibo platform. Donald Trump.Win McNamee/Getty Images Donald Trump has found an unlikely group of supporters — in China. There was a deluge of support for Trump on Weibo after he said he may be arrested on Tuesday. Trump-loving Chinese users urged him to fight the indictment, calling him a "comrade" and a "king." Former President Donald Trump has found a group of ardent supporters on Chinese social media as his claims of a looming arrest ricocheted across the Internet. On Saturday, news of a possible Trump indictment skyrocketed to the top of the charts on the Twitter-like Weibo platform at 11.30 p.m., Beijing time. The hashtag "Trump says he'll be arrested soon" was the 5th most-read topic on Weibo on Saturday night, with more than 59 million views.This was moments after Trump wrote Saturday on Truth Social that he will be arrested in New York next week. Trump's claim about a possible arrest was not based on any facts released by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Susan Necheles, the former president's lead defense attorney, said Saturday no information came from the Manhattan DA's office that Trump would be "arrested," as Trump claimed, but was cautious not to directly dispute her clients' Truth Social post, Insider reported. "President Trump is basing this on press reports," Necheles told Insider.With the hashtag going viral on Weibo, there was also an outpouring of support for Trump on the platform. A slew of Trump-loving Weibo commenters — who made up the majority of the hundreds of posts seen by Insider — encouraged him to not give up and fight any criminal indictment with all his strength. "Donald Trump, don't back down. America is big enough to be split into two. Do what you need to do, MAGA!" read one comment."If Trump is arrested, it will signal the corruption of the American spirit," another comment read. "Trump, America needs you," a Weibo commenter wrote.Some Weibo commenters called on his "redneck supporters" to "rally around their king." Others called Trump their "comrade" — a term commonly used to refer to Chinese officials, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping — and encouraged him to "move forward bravely."Trump's detractors did speak up on Weibo too, but they were far outnumbered by his supporters."I'm looking forward to the old asshole being arrested and imprisoned," read one comment. "This lunatic needs to be locked up, or he'll be spouting nonsense all day long," another Weibo user wrote. And some Weibo commenters just thought the whole idea of Trump being indicted was exciting, likening his possible arrest to events on a reality TV show. "How fun! When does the broadcast begin?" read a comment from one Weibo user.  Weibo is a platform that is tightly controlled and rigorously censored by the Chinese government. That the viral thread — and the above comments — were not quickly scrubbed from the platform is a good indicator that such pro-Trump discourse is something the Chinese government is allowing to happen. It is not surprising that some Chinese people don't want Trump to be indicted, or for a possible jail term to derail his 2024 presidential ambitions.Researchers from the Brookings Institution think tank wrote in 2016 that some segments of the Chinese populace saw Trump as a boon for Beijing, viewing him as the presidential candidate who would focus more on boosting trade ties. CNN reported in 2020 that some Chinese social media users viewed Trump as a better candidate than President Joe Biden — surmising that he would help build China up by ruining America. Meanwhile, a possible indictment in New York now looms over Trump.Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating if Trump's payments to the adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, violate New York election and document laws. Bragg is also investigating if these payments should be considered an illegal Trump campaign expense.Daniels says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has consistently denied that he ever had an affair with Daniels. He also denies that he paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about the relationship before the 2016 election.A spokesman for Trump and representatives for Weibo at Sina did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2023

An Egyptian official responded with a "thumbs up" emoji when Sen. Bob Menendez offered sensitive weapons information for gold and bribes, prosecutors say

Prosecutors claimed that Sen. Bob Menendez provided sensitive US government data to Egypt and used his influence to help secure arms deals. Prosecutors allege Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and his wife accepted gold bars as part of a bribery scheme.U.S. Attorney's Office via AP; Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images Sen. Bob Menendez was hit with bribery charges by federal prosecutors in a newly-unsealed indictment. Prosecutors claim that he used his influence to cut deals for the Egyptian government and businessmen. He accepted over $480,000 in payments that included gold bars, prosecutors alleged. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife took bribes from Egyptian officials, discussing arms deals in private conversations, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Friday.In the unsealed indictment, federal prosecutors alleged that Menendez accepted at least $480,000 in bribes from New Jersey businessmen, and Egyptian government officials were given exclusive access to Menendez.Prosecutors claimed that Menendez provided sensitive US government data to Egypt, to which in one instance, Egyptian officials responded to a weapons deal with a thumbs-up emoji, per the indictment.In 2018, Menendez met with Egyptian officials, where the senator expressed his support for foreign military aid for Egypt. Prosecutors claim that Menendez worked with New Jersey businessman and friend Will Hana and Menendez's wife, in his corrupt dealings."Tell Will Hana I am going to sign off this sale to Egypt today. Egypt: 46,000 120MM Target Practice Rounds and 10,000 Rounds Tank Ammunition: $99 million," Sen. Bob Menendez texted his wife, Nadine, per the indictment.The text was forwarded to Hana, and then to the officials, prosecutors allege."Egyptian Official-1 replied with a 'thumbs up' emoji," prosecutors said in the indictment. In June 2022, prosecutors said that federal agents executed search warrants and found the cash hidden in Menendez's home, along with gold bars, that they claimed he received in exchange for the information and access he gave to Egypt.It's the second bribery case Menendez has faced in six years, although the first set of charges were dropped. Prosecutors also claimed that Menendez plotted to give IS EG Halal Certified, a New Jersey-based food export company, a monopoly on US food products exported to Egypt. His wife, Nadine, was offered a"low-or-no-show job" at the company by Hana. Egyptian outlet Mada Masr first raised red flags about the company's monopolization of halal certification in a 2019 investigation.On Friday, Menendez responded defiantly, calling the indictment a "smear campaign," that misrepresented his official work. Both Hana and Nadine Menendez are also charged in the indictment.Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer later said that Menendez was stepping down as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2023

Top New Jersey Democrats call on Bob Menendez to resign, breaking their silence

When Menendez faced similar corruption charges in 2015, his party was quick to rally around him. That's not happening this time around. Bob Menendez.Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images Fellow Democrats have yet to come to Sen. Bob Menendez's side in the wake of a stunning indictment. When Menendez faced similar corruption charges in 2015, his party was quick to rally around him. Federal prosecutors allege that this time he accepted bribes to secretly benefit the Egyptian government. Update: After this story was published, New Jersey Democrats broke their silence virtually en masse, calling for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to step down after he was federally indicted for an alleged bribery scheme. Gov. Phil Murphy led the calls for the state's senior senator to step down. "The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state," Murphy said in a statement. "Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation."Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is facing an embattled political future as he stares down a federal indictment related to an alleged bribery scheme to secretly benefit the government of Egypt.This time, even his once self-proclaimed sidekick is not immediately coming to the rescue.As Politico's Matt Friedman pointed out, in 2015 New Jersey Democrats were quick to rally around their senior US senator."If you want an idea of where NJ Dem support for Menendez stands, consider this: The day of his 2015 indictment, he had statements of support from them immediately lined up. Today, they've all so far been publicly silent," Friedman, who has been covering Garden State politics for decades, wrote on Twitter.Arguably, few did so with more gusto at the time than Sen. Cory Booker, the state's junior senator, whose star was continuing to rise in Washington. At the time, Booker vowed, " I won't waver in my commitment to stand alongside my senior Senator to serve our great state." Months before the 2015 indictment, Booker had deemed himself "the Robin to his Batman." It's not even clear if the senator himself is ready for another round. Stories about his 2015 indictment feature accounts of a and an accompanying Twitter account that reposted signs of support. The site is now dead and the account last posted a tweet in 2016."To my supporters, friends and the community at large, I ask that you recall the other times the prosecutors got it wrong and that you reserve judgement," Menendez said in a statement after the charges were announced. "I am confident that this matter will be successfully resolved once all of the facts are presented and my fellow New Jerseyans will see this for what it is."Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife, Nadine, accepted "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes in exchange for using his position to try to help Egypt.Booker and Gov. Phil Murphy remained silent through Friday afternoon even as other Democrats began to speak out. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Menendez had a right to a fair trial. The top Senate Democrat also confirmed that the New Jersey senator will step down from leading the powerful Senate Foreign Relations committee. Rep. Andy Kim, a fellow New Jersey Democrat, called on Menendez to resign while he wages his legal fight."I don't have confidence that the Senator has the ability to properly focus on our state and its people while addressing such a significant legal matter," Kim said in a statement, first reported by the New Jersey Globe. "He should step down."So far, the most notable sign of support has come from Rep. Rob Menendez, the senator's son.White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the White House would not comment on the situation "because it's an active matter."It is expected that like in 2015, Menendez may have to step down from his perch on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Only this time, he's now the leader of the powerful panel. It makes sense why Democrats are more cautious this time. In 2015, then-Gov. Chris Christie could have appointed a Republican to the seat if Menendez were to have resigned. Now, Democrats can easily tap one of their own. But that might not be the only factor. Menendez's 2015 indictment ended in a mistrial and he was easily reelected that same year. He's potential reelection this November looks far more dicey.A recent Monmouth University poll found the senator is now less popular than he was during the 2015 ordeal. Unlike that experience,  Menendez is unlikely to have the case resolved if he were to run for reelection next November. The same poll found that the earlier news of a federal investigation had tanked his numbers, which were above water last year. Now, 35% of New Jerseyans approve of his performance versus 44% that disapprove. In comparison, Booker is sitting much better.Some Democrats quickly came forward to criticize him. Menendez famously clashed with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal and reapproaching relations with Cuba. A former top Obama aide saw an opportunity to strike back."Menendez has had a de facto veto on US Cuba policy, piling sanction after sanction on an impoverished people wrapped in the language of democratic values while apparently supporting the Egyptian dictatorship for personal gain. A little too on the nose," Ben Rhodes, a former Obama deputy national security advisor and speechwriter, wrote on Twitter.Menendez can only hope that Robin will still come to his aid. The bat signal is clearly flashing.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2023

Sen. Bob Menendez"s Democratic allies are silent for now on his latest indictment

When Menendez faced similar corruption charges in 2015, his party was quick to rally around him. Thus far, many top officials are silent. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey DemocratDrew Angerer/Getty Images Fellow Democrats have yet to come to Sen. Bob Menendez's side in the wake of a stunning indictment. When Menendez faced similar corruption charges in 2015, his party was quick to rally around him. Federal prosecutors allege that this time he accepted bribes to secretly benefit the Egyptian government. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is facing an embattled political future as he stares down a federal indictment related to an alleged bribery scheme to secretly benefit the government of Egypt.This time, even his once self-proclaimed sidekick is not immediately coming to the rescue.As Politico's Matt Friedman pointed out, in 2015 New Jersey Democrats were quick to rally around their senior US senator."If you want an idea of where NJ Dem support for Menendez stands, consider this: The day of his 2015 indictment, he had statements of support from them immediately lined up. Today, they've all so far been publicly silent," Friedman, who has been covering Garden State politics for decades, wrote on Twitter.Arguably, few did so with more gusto at the time than Sen. Cory Booker, the state's junior senator, who was star was continuing to rise in Washington. At the time, Booker vowed, " I won't waver in my commitment to stand alongside my senior Senator to serve our great state." Months before the 2015 indictment, Booker had deemed himself "the Robin to his Batman." It's not even clear if the senator himself is ready for another round. Stories about his 2015 indictment feature accounts of a and an accompanying Twitter account that reposted signs of support. The site is now dead and the account last posted a tweet in 2016."To my supporters, friends and the community at large, I ask that you recall the other times the prosecutors got it wrong and that you reserve judgement," Menendez said in a statement after the charges were announced. "I am confident that this matter will be successfully resolved once all of the facts are presented and my fellow New Jerseyans will see this for what it is."Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife, Nadine, accepted "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes in exchange for using his position to try to help Egypt.Booker is far from the only one silent so far. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hasn't reacted yet. Ditto Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. At the time of the 2015 indictment, Schumer's predecessor as top Senate Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid, encouraged people to let Menendez have his day in court. So far, the most notable Democrat to come to his defense is Rep. Rob Menendez, his son.White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the White House would not comment on the situation "because it's an active matter."It is expected that like in 2015, Menendez may have to step down from his perch on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Only this time, he's now the leader of the powerful panel. It makes sense why Democrats are more cautious this time. In 2015, then-Gov. Chris Christie could have appointed a Republican to the seat if Menendez were to have resigned. Now, Democrats can easily tap one of their own. But that might not be the only factor. Menendez's 2015 indictment ended in a mistrial and he was easily reelected that same year. He's potential reelection this November looks far more dicey.A recent Monmouth University poll found the senator is now less popular than he was during the 2015 ordeal. Unlike that experience,  Menendez is unlikely to have the case resolved if he were to run for reelection next November. The same poll found that the earlier news of a federal investigation had tanked his numbers, which were above water last year. Now, 35% of New Jerseyans approve of his performance versus 44% that disapprove. In comparison, Booker is sitting much better.Not every Democrat was quiet on Friday. Menendez famously clashed with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal and reapproaching relations with Cuba. A former top Obama aide saw an opportunity to strike back."Menendez has had a de facto veto on US Cuba policy, piling sanction after sanction on an impoverished people wrapped in the language of democratic values while apparently supporting the Egyptian dictatorship for personal gain. A little too on the nose," Ben Rhodes, a former Obama deputy national security advisor and speechwriter, wrote on Twitter.Menendez can only hope that Robin will still come to his aid. The bat signal is clearly flashing.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2023

Gold bars, cash, and an air purifier: The 8 alleged bribes Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife took, ranked

The New Jersey senator helped Egypt in exchange for gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz, and other cool stuff, according to federal prosecutors. Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, points at some of the cool stuff that US Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife allegedly received from Egyptian-American businessmen.Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images Prosecutors say businessmen gave Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife a bunch of cool stuff. The senator made decisions that helped Egypt and interfered in a criminal probe, an indictment says. Here's a list of all the alleged bribes, ranked in order of how cool they are. On Friday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought criminal charges against US Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, his wife Nadine Menendez, and three Egyptian-American businessmen: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes.The group, prosecutors alleged in a 39-page indictment, participated in a bribery conspiracy. According to the indictment, Menendez leveraged his power on the Senate's foreign relations committee to sign off on billions of dollars of arms sales to Egypt, pushed an international construction project, tried to stop criminal prosecution, and helped give a halal certification agency a monopoly on Egyptian goods in New Jersey. (Menendez has denied the charges and says prosecutors "misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office.")In exchange, the businessmen allegedly got Menendez and his wife a lot of cool stuff — and some not-so-cool stuff.Here are the nine bribes they allegedly got, ranked:8. Exercise machinesThe indictment doesn't give many details about this, but Hana — the one who has an alleged monopoly on the Egyptian halal food market in New Jersey — used the certification agency's funds to purchase "exercise machines" and send them to the Menendez residence, according to the indictment.Prosecutors say this happened in "early 2021," perhaps before COVID vaccines were available and the couple was spending a lot of time at home. Still, though, they couldn't buy their own Peloton?7. Air purifierThe air purifier is another item Hana allegedly purchased for the Menendezes in "early 2021," according to the indictment. This is somewhat more useful than an exercise machine in the COVID era, but still pretty lame.6. Home mortgage paymentsThe indictment, rudely, points out that Nadine Menendez was unemployed when she started dating the senator, in 2018. By July 2019, the mortgage company for her home initiated foreclosure proceedings, according to prosecutors.Then, prosecutors say, Nadine Menendez got Hana to pay $23,000 to bring her mortgage current in exchange for arranging meetings between her future ex-husband and Egyptian officials."When I feel comfortable and plan the trip to Egypt he [i.e., HANA] will be more powerful than the president of Egypt," prosecutors quote her as saying.We love a fiscally responsible queen!5. A reclinerWhen you're busy working from home because of your alleged "low or no-show job" for a Halal certification agency, comfort is essential. And what's more comfortable than a nice recliner? We hope Nadine was able to take advantage of this chair, which federal prosecutors allege was gifted to her husband by Daibes to help with shoulder pain.4. CashFBI agents who executed a search warrant in the Menendez home found over $480,000 in cash, according to the indictment, with "much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe." Cash is objectively one of the best ways to do alleged bribery.A jacket bearing Menendez's name, along with cash from envelops found inside the jacket during a search by federal agents.U.S. Attorney's Office via APTwo jackets!U.S. Attorney's Office via AP3. Cash stuffed in jacketBetter than cash? Cash stuffed in a jacket with your name on it. In the indictment, prosecutors included photos of two jackets with envelopes of cash. It's not clear if Menendez already owned the jackets, which reference his roles in the Senate, before the alleged bribe, or if the jackets were part of the alleged bribe. But if you get cash + a jacket that's obviously better than just cash.A photo of the Mercedes-Benz included in the indictment.US Attorney's office2. Mercedes-Benz convertibleA Mercedes-Benz C-300 is worth less than $480,000 in cash, yes, but a convertible is objectively a cool and fun thing to give to a sitting senator and his wife. Uribe and Hana arranged to buy one for Nadine Menendez in exchange for the senator interfering in a criminal investigation of one of Uribe's associates, prosecutors alleged. The couple even texted about the color scheme they wanted for the car, the indictment says. "You are a miracle worker who makes dreams come true I will always remember that," Nadine Menendez texted Uribe on the day she arranged to pick up the car. Prosecutors brought criminal charges alleging she lied on her loan application to finance the vehicle.The businessmen allegedly arranged to give Nadine Menendez the car in early 2019, which was before they allegedly arranged her mortgage payments. That isn't very fiscally responsible. Still, the senator seemed to eagerly anticipate the car. After the purchase was complete, according to the indictment, Nadine texted him: "Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.❤️."Nadine Menendez allegedly took these photos of gold bars on the same day she took them to a person referred to only as "The Jeweler" in the indictment.U.S. Attorney's Office via AP1. Gold barsThe gold bars are, by far, the best alleged bribes of the bunch.Two days after a private meeting with Egyptian officials in June of 2021, Hana "purchased 22 one-ounce gold bars, each with a unique serial number," according to the indictment.A driver for Daibes picked up the couple from John F. Kennedy Airport after they came back from a trip from Egypt a few months after Hana purchased the gold. Menendez "performed a web search for 'how much is one kilo of gold worth,'" while in the car, according to the indictment. Menendez also googled "kilo of gold price" in January 2022, the indictment says.In April of that year, Nadine met with a person referred to in the indictment only as "The Jeweler." She gave The Jeweler two one-kilogram gold bars, each worth $60,000, according to the indictment.The FBI searched the Menendez home in June of 2022 and found two gold bars with serial numbers that could be traced back to the businessmen.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 22nd, 2023

The New Narrative

The New Narrative Authored by Raul Ilragi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog, A short comment on an all too familiar sort of MSM article about US politics these days. This article, a few days old, comes from Gary O’Donoghue, Washington correspondent, BBC News. The MSM must concede that Hunter Biden is under investigation. Now that it’s official, they can no longer hide it. Time for plan B. This is the BBC, more MSM than anyone. The new narrative is that both political sides are being probed now, supposed to make us think there’s a sort of balance, a neutrality. And the DOJ is some kind of impartial office (just like the FBI and CIA). Even though the entire alphabet soup has been directed squarely against Trump for 8 years now. The result is that they list the charges against the two sides as follows: 91 against Trump, one -small one- against Hunter, and zero against Joe Biden (he’s not even mentioned here). Not one word about Joe Biden’s own involvement in what Hunter is accused of. Not one word about the laptop. Or about the tens of millions of dollars the House Commitee says the Biden family received from foreign sources. Ergo: Trump is much worse than Hunter. And Joe never put a single finger wrong. What Hunter Biden Charges Mean For The President Politically speaking, there are currently two Americas. One is outraged and horrified that the former president, Donald Trump, is facing 91 federal and state criminal charges in what they see as a deep state conspiracy orchestrated in part by Joe Biden’s Department of Justice. The other believes that very same justice department has spent five years unfairly pursuing Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, over his tax affairs and behaviour while a self-declared and repentant drug addict. In other words, both Americas believe the department responsible for enforcing the laws of the land has been taken captive by the other side and is hopelessly politicised. “..improper and partisan interference..” but not from the Democrats… Hunter Biden’s lawyer responded to the news that his client had been indicted on three federal gun charges by accusing the prosecutor of bending to “improper and partisan interference” from Trump-supporting Republicans. Meanwhile, Andy Biggs, one of those conservatives in Congress, suggested the charges were simply a manoeuvre to make it look like the justice department was fair. “Don’t fall for it. They’re trying to protect him from way more serious charges coming his way!”, he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. Republicans only focus on Hunter because of Trump’s “legal jeopardies”. Not because of the laptop contents. Which the FBI sat on for 5 years, and we would never have known about if the repair shop owner had not given a copy to Rudy Giuliani. The FBI were busy targeting Trump, after all. Hunter’s “legal woes” are only “a blow in a personal sense to his father”. Surely not because his father pops up a thousand times in the laptop in comprimising ways, Hunter Biden’s legal woes will of course be a blow in a personal sense to his father and his family. But the ramifications go much further than that. Republicans have for some time known that the president’s son is a vulnerability. Exploiting that has the power not just to significantly rile up Joe Biden, but also to help distract from their own problems with Mr Trump’s legal jeopardies. Add to that the fact that most Democrats, when asked, are far from happy that Mr Biden is running for the White House again in 2024. Hunter seems like just another reason for some continuing to press for the 80-year-old president to step aside for the next generation. But wait, this is not about Hunter, it’s about Trump. And it’s certainly not about Joe. Nothing Hunter did could possible be as grave as Trump’s actions. Why else would there be 91 charges against him? All this means that the outcome of Hunter Biden’s case will play a significant part in what promises to be a turbulent election year. But Republicans face something of a dilemma. It’s true that the three gun-related charges are felonies rather than misdemeanours; and it’s true that further charges could come relating to Hunter Biden’s tax affairs and foreign dealings. But none of it currently quite rises to the scale and quantity of Donald Trump’s alleged crimes. So any attempt to weaponise Hunter Biden’s problems could simply invite the American people to compare and contrast. Also, as Democrats will no doubt continue to point out, Hunter Biden is not running for dog catcher, let alone to be President of the United States. “After all, there is nothing in the Constitution about drug addicts being unable to bear arms.” Gotta love that line. One intriguing aspect of Hunter Biden’s case is that his lawyers clearly believe the plea deal that broke down in July could still be resurrected – and that the recent expansion of Second Amendment rights by various courts could be an element in his defence. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution about drug addicts being unable to bear arms. That would be an extraordinary irony given where most Democrats stand on gun control. “ months of existing investigations into Hunter Biden..” Again, the FBI has had the laptop for 5 years. What more can you say? Jim Jordan just yesterday in the House: “We have an investigation run by Mr. Weiss that not only had a sweetheart deal rejected, but according to The New York Times, there was an even sweeter earlier deal with Mr. Biden where he would not have to plead guilty to anything. Four and a half years and all that..” Thursday’s indictment came just days after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden – a move dismissed as a political stunt by the White House. Mr McCarthy said there were “serious and credible allegations” into the family’s business dealings and President Biden’s conduct. And Republicans will hope this new inquiry implicates the president in the peddling of power and corruption. So far, however, seven months of existing investigations into Hunter Biden have produced snippets from former business partners, an FBI informant and a couple of IRS agents, but nothing that comes close to a real smoking gun. The reason for the impeachment inquiry vs Joe Biden is not to get rid of him, or even “win a vote”, it’s to establish a record. The Senate would never agree to impeach him, just like it didn’t Donald Trump when the GOP had a majority. But the record is crucial. Pelosi and Schiff knew it, and now so does the GOP. That may change when the subpoenas begin to fly, but the Republican majority in the House is so slim, that it is far from certain that Republicans would win an impeachment vote on the House floor, if it got that far. What is certain, is that the once-clear distinction between the political and legal systems has become increasingly blurred. And that’s a major problem, according to Randy Zelin, adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School. “Somebody woke up one day and said, boy I have a new toy and that is called the federal criminal justice system, where I’m going to use the criminal system to punish people who don’t agree with my politics,” Prof Zelin told the BBC. “I think the sole influence here is that this country is being torn apart by this never-ending battle.” This is how the media today wants you to see it. But where were they during the Steele dossier days? Or any of the other anti-Trump shenanigans? Remember, they never proved a single thing against him. They just “won” some votes in theaters where they had a majority. And now they’ve come up with 91 new charges in the theaters that the DOJ and FBI have been turned into. Vs zero for Joe Biden. And one puny one for Hunter. Hey, we have an election coming up. I suggested recently that there wouldn’t be a US election in 2024. But trying to imagine what would happen if they attempted to have one, replete with Dominion machines and mail-in ballots, I’m starting to wonder if there will be a country left next year to hold an election in. The two sides are so far apart (not really of course, they’re still neighbors, it’s all in the head), that they may as well live in different countries. And then one day they actually might. 1861 is not that long ago. *  *  * Support the Automatic Earth via Patreon.   Tyler Durden Thu, 09/21/2023 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2023

California Has Two Challenges to Trump’s Candidacy

California Has Two Challenges to Trump’s Candidacy; Formal Removal Petition Backs Up Legislators’ Letter Trump Ballot Ban WASHINGTON, D.C. (September ... Read more California Has Two Challenges to Trump's Candidacy; Formal Removal Petition Backs Up Legislators' Letter Trump Ballot Ban WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 20, 2023) - On Monday nine California legislators wrote a letter to the state's attorney general asking him to take court action to prevent former president Donald Trump from being included on the ballot under Section 3 of ARTICLE IV of the U.S. Constitution which bars from office former officers who "engaged in insurrection." The following day a formal legal removal petition was filed with Attorney General Rob Bonta, and also with Secretary of State Dr. Shirley (Nash) Weber, also demanding the removal of Trump's name from the ballot, but also suggesting a prior legislative-type hearing; one not to determine Trump's possible guilt of having "engaged in insurrection," but rather to permit all sides and many competing experts to air their views on this controversial section, and their suggestions for the best way for California to proceed. Bonita has promised to look into the matter "internally." But since has also proclaimed that "There is no denying that Donald Trump has engaged in behavior that is unacceptable and unbecoming of any leader — let alone a president of the United States," some have suggested that he may have prejudged the issue without hearing all the facts and arguments. To help assure the public that his decision is not only impartial but also fully informed, especially since many different legal experts have expressed several different interpretations of this untested constitutional provision, Banzhaf suggests first holding a legislative-type hearing to permit all sides and all views to be heard, discussed, and debated. Unlike the legislators' informal letter, the formal legal removal petition might pave the groundwork for a suit to compel action to keep Trump off the ballot, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf. The law professor was held to have legal standing to obtain an independent counsel to investigate Debategate. His legal filings also helped obtain special prosecutors to investigation former president Richard Nixon, and he was able - when others had given up - to bring a novel legal action to compel former vice president Spiro Agnew to return the money he received in bribes before being forced to resign his office. The letter from the nine legislators is part of an escalating effort across multiple states to establish whether Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election — including his actions before and during his supporters’ storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — disqualify him from the presidency under the amendment. It says that anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after taking an oath to defend it is ineligible to hold office. “The purpose of this letter is to request in haste the office of the attorney general seek the court opinion as to whether or not Donald J. Trump should be removed from the ballot of the presidential primary election scheduled in California on March 5, 2024,” the letter says. It describes Mr. Trump’s actions and tells Attorney General Rob Bonta, “You are uniquely positioned to proactively seek the court’s opinion to confirm Mr. Trump’s inability to hold office given these facts.” The Controversial Section 13 California has just become the 15th state in which officials are considering banning Trump from the ballot based upon the controversial Section 13 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, notes Banzhaf. This parallels formal legal demands pursuant to Section 13 filed by Prof Banzhaf in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania which also request a fact-finding hearing. Those are all states in which some consideration of barring Trump from the ballot is reportedly already taking place, and some officials are beginning to react. For example, Connecticut Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said: “The issue raises questions on both federal constitutionality and state election laws. . . Our attorneys are diligently reviewing Connecticut’s election laws, over which this office has jurisdiction, to ensure we have the proper interpretation." Also, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold called Trump a “liar”: “Trump is a liar with no respect for the Constitution . . . To say that a section of the 14th Amendment is election interference and considering how to uphold the Constitution is election interference is un-American . . . We know that the former president is a liar who will do everything he can to hold onto power.” In Colorado, Judge Sarah Wallace held a preliminary legislative-type hearing, similar to the type Banzhaf is suggesting, before moving to an evidentiary (adjudicative) type hearing subsequently. She said she hopes to decide by Thanksgiving whether the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding office means former President Donald Trump is disqualified from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot in 2024. Unlike some who argue that Section 13 is "self executing" - i.e. that no further legal proceedings are required - Banzhaf notes that another section of the Fourteenth Amendment which says than no person can be deprived of any "liberty" or "property" type interest without due process of law means that there must first be an adjudicative (fact-finding) hearing before Trump could be removed from ballots. At such a hearing, which could be performed by a court or by an agency such as the Office of the Secretary of State, Trump would be entitled to a number of procedural protections including the right to put on evidence and to cross examine witnesses against him. That's what courts have said "due process" means, explains Banzhaf, who has taught the law of agencies for more than 40 years, and won many noteworthy legal victories at a variety of agencies. Then and only then - if he has been found to "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after a fact-finding (adjudicative) hearing at which he is accorded due process - his name must be removed, says Banzhaf. Disqualification Of Candidates To refute those who argue that preventing candidates from appearing on ballots is un-American and/or undemocratic, a new report shows that such efforts are not uncommon, and have frequently been successful. It detailed a number of situations where candidates were disqualified in states across the country, including one in Connecticut. The report shows that “All 50 states and the District of Columbia have excluded candidates who do not meet requirements to appear on the ballot, and excluding Trump and other disqualified insurrectionists can be done through the same mechanisms.” In addition to prompting serious consideration of this issue in states where it is already being discussed, Banzhaf's and other formal legal requests which have just been filed with the secretaries of state of other states may help avoid (provide an alternative workaround to) the frequent failure of similar efforts to disqualify Trump, former president Barack Obama, and others - a lack of legal standing - explains Banzhaf. He should know since he was held by a federal judge to have legal standing to sue to require the appointment of an independent counsel when his own formal legal demand seeking such an appointment for "Debategate" was denied. He also played a major role in obtaining special prosecutors for Richard Nixon, helped defeat Hunter Biden's so-called "sweetheart" plea deal, and filed the formal legal complaint which led to the indictment of Trump and many of his alleged co-conspirators in Georgia. Professor Banzhaf notes that Section 3 and its application to the events of January 6th have already had some real-world consequences: in New Mexico a county commissioner lost his office; a member of Congress was found to be covered by the section; and another member of Congress escaped removal only because he was found not to have engaged in insurrection. Section 3 of ARTICLE XIV bars former civilian officials from holding office if they “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States government. But although there is considerable evidence, as well as expert opinion, that Trump has in fact "engaged in insurrection," there is no official finding to that effect. So, since ARTICLE XIV also mandates that "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," and because under virtually any reasonable interpretation of this constitutional provision, not permitting Trump to run for office and/or to acquire Electoral College votes in a state would be to deprive him of a liberty and/or property interest, no state could keep him off the ballot unless he has been found to have "engaged in insurrection" in an evidentiary (adjudicative) hearing at which he was accorded due process. In this regard it should be noted that the adjudicative hearing need not be a criminal trial, and proof that Trump engaged in insurrection need not necessary meet the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As the impartial Congressional Research Service has determined, "Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment does not expressly require a criminal conviction, and historically, one was not necessary. Reconstruction Era federal prosecutors brought civil actions in court to oust officials linked to the Confederacy, and Congress in some cases took action to refuse to seat Members." The simple fact that both sentences appear in the same amendment means that one (Section 3) does not override the other (due process clause) as some experts have suggested, especially since it is not only possible but also very reasonable to interpret the Constitution in such a way that both are given full legal effect - i.e., a candidate can be removed from a ballot under Section 3, but only if he is found to have engaged in insurrection in an adjudicative hearing at which he was afforded due process. Thus, to constitutionally bar Trump from the ballot, there must first be a due process hearing, held for example by the Secretary of State, in which Trump is found to have "engaged in insurrection." As an alternative, a state could announce that Trump is barred from the ballot based upon publicly available information of which a state agency or officer may take administrative or official notice (similar to the judicial notice taken by a court), explains Banzhaf, who has taught Administrative Law for over 40 years, and won several noteworthy agency cases (e.g., involving smoking bans, antismoking messages on TV, stronger warning labels on foods and birth control pills, safety standards for school buses, etc.). Such an announcement barring him from the ballot would force Trump to seek reversal by appealing the adverse decision to a court. There, in court, Trump could receive the required due process (in a de novo court hearing), and a finding by that court that he did in fact engage in insurrection could provide the legal basis for a state to keep his name off the ballot. Recognizing that legal experts have split on the effect of Section 3 regarding Trump - with some legal scholars (including several prominent conservatives) writing that Section 3 is self executing and permits or even requires Trump's removal, while others maintain that it cannot be used for that purpose at all - Professor Banzhaf has suggested a middle ground; that states considering these issues should, at the very least, first hold a preliminary legislative-type non-adjudicative hearing before taking any final action. The purpose of such a preliminary hearing, he says, would not be to decide whether or not Trump did in fact engage in insurrection, but rather to give all interested persons (including the dueling legal experts) an opportunity to be heard, and to respond to questions about how a state should proceed, what should be the required standard of proof, what procedural protections does due process require in such an adjudicatory hearing, etc. If state officials simply refuse to even hold such a preliminary legislative-type hearing to explore the many issues, and to permit a variety of voices to be heard, such precipitous action will only increase public suspicion and lack of trust in government, argues Banzhaf. Furthermore, any state's refusal to do anything at all in response to a formal legal removal demand may provide a legal basis for establishing standing, says Banzhaf, who was held by a federal judge to have legal standing to sue to require the appointment of an independent counsel when his own formal legal demand seeking such an appointment was denied......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 21st, 2023

The mastermind of Russia"s treacherous defenses in Ukraine appears to be in a kind of faraway "exile" as the line is being breached

Several photos published by Russian-affiliated accounts appear to show Army Gen. Sergey Surovikin in Algeria, experts and observers say. FILE PHOTO: Genera Sergey Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, visits the Joint Headquarters of the Russian armed forces involved in military operations in Ukraine, in an unknown location in Russia, in this picture released December 17, 2022.Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS Russian Army Gen. Sergey Surovikin appears to be in Algeria, according to recent photos. Surovikin is the mastermind of Russia's formidable defensive lines and fortifications in Ukraine.  War experts say he may have been tasked him with overseeing Wagner Group activity in Africa. Russian Army Gen. Sergey Surovikin is credited as the architect of Russia's formidable defensive network in Ukraine. But as Kyiv's forces break through these elaborate fortifications, the mastermind behind them is nowhere near the action.Surovikin, who served at one point as Russia's overall theater commander in Ukraine, was detained in the fallout of the Wagner Group's late-June mutiny over his ties to the mercenary organization. After several weeks, during which his whereabouts were largely unknown, Surovikin was finally released earlier this month — his military career suspected of being largely finished.  But according to recent photographs shared by Russia-affiliated accounts to social media platforms, Surovikin appeared to be somewhere in Algeria as of last week, experts and observers noted. Algeria has maintained close economic and security ties with Moscow for decades and is a major purchaser of Russian arms. "Surovikin is in an exile — of sorts. Yet not. Algeria is a top client for Russian exports, and critically — has hundreds of tanks and kits/spare parts," Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher who focuses on Russian security issues at the California-based RAND Corporation think tank, wrote on X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter.The comments came in response to an earlier post with several photos appearing to show Surovikin.   —Jack Margolin (@Jack_Mrgln) September 15, 2023 Experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, noted Surovikin's apparent presence in Algeria as part of a Friday assessment of Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine. The experts cited several additional photographs of Surovikin purportedly in Algeria, which were published to Telegram by Russian sources.Insider was unable to independently verify any of the recent photographs of Surovikin shared to X and Telegram.According to the ISW assessment, Surovikin had previously been tasked with a leadership role within Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which consists of Russia and several former Soviet states. ISW experts noted in an analysis earlier this month the move "is consistent with previous patterns of the Russian military leadership shifting disgraced and ineffective commanders to peripheral positions far removed from Ukraine without discharging them from the Russian military entirely."After the Wagner Group's short-lived uprising — and the more recent confirmed death of its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin — Russia has moved to assume more oversight of the mercenaries' activity in Africa, where they had long acted as shadowy extensions of Moscow's foreign policy apparatus. Surovikin's new role, and his recent appearance in Algeria, appear to be a reflection of this.Russia's defense ministry "continues efforts to assume control over the Wagner Group's operations in North Africa and may have assigned" Surovikin to the job, the ISW experts wrote in their Friday analysis. They cited Kommersant, a Russian news outlet, in reporting that a source close to Surovikin asserted that the trip to Algeria could be connected to his "possible appointment to oversee unspecified operations in Africa." Commander of Russia's Aerospace Forces Sergei Surovikin, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and Head of the Main Operational Directorate of the Armed Forces' General Staff Sergei Rudskoi attend a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, November 3, 2021.Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS"Surovikin may be involved in Russian efforts to subsume Wagner operations due to his affiliation with Wagner and his command experience, although it is unclear if the Russian MoD intends for Surovikin to assume direct command of these efforts," the ISW experts wrote in their analysis. Thousands of miles away from Algeria, in Ukraine, Kyiv's troops have been fighting to get past Russia's tough defensive fortifications known as the Surovikin Line — named after the fearsome general, who was known by supporters as "General Armageddon." When Surovikin was Russia's overall theater commander last fall, he oversaw efforts to construct an elaborate system of defensive fortifications and obstacles that stretch and intertwine across Moscow-occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. Although the Surovikin Line consists of multiple lines that connect, there is a definitive main defensive line that is preceded by minefields and includes three layers of obstacles and fighting positions: anti-vehicle ditches to prevent armor from advancing, a row of dragon's teeth to further stop vehicles, and trenches manned with Russian soldiers.One direction of the Ukrainian counteroffensive — in the southern Zaporizhzhia region — has found notable momentum in recent weeks, as Kyiv's forces have been pushing against the main part of the Surovikin Line there and making territorial gains in the process. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 20th, 2023

Gagging Donald: Turley Slams Smith"s "Narrowly Tailored Motion" To Silence Trump

Gagging Donald: Turley Slams Smith's "Narrowly Tailored Motion" To Silence Trump Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is a longer version of my column in the New York Post on the gag order motion docketed Friday night in Washington, D.C. by Special Counsel Jack Smith. While described by Smith as “narrowly tailored,” even a cursory consideration of the broad scope and vague terms belies such a claim. It would sharply limit the ability of former President Donald Trump to publicly discuss the evidence and allegations in a case that is now at the center of the presidential campaign. Here is the column: Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” After Friday night, we can add nine more: “a narrowly tailored order that imposes modest, permissible restrictions.” Those words were used by Special Counsel Jack Smith to propose a gag order that would sharply curtail the ability of former President Donald Trump to criticize Smith and his prosecution. The Smith motion is anything but “narrowly tailored.” Indeed, short of a mobile “Get Smart” Cone of Silence, it is chilling to think of what Smith considered the broader option. Smith told District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., that Trump could “present a serious and substantial danger of prejudicing” his 2020 federal election interference case. Smith compared Trump’s comments on the trial to the “disinformation” spread by Trump after the 2020 election — the subject of the indictment. The motion states that Trump’s “recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the Court, the jury pool, witnesses, and prosecutors.” I have long criticized Trump’s inflammatory comments over these cases, but Smith’s solution veers dangerously into core political speech in the middle of a presidential election. Ironically, Smith’s move will likely be seen as reinforcing Trump’s claim of intentional election interference by the Biden Administration. I do not view it that way, but I do believe Smith is showing his signature lack of restraint in high-profile cases, a tendency that led to the unanimous overturning of his conviction of former Virginia Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell. Smith seeks to bar comments “regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses” and “statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.” Gag orders have become commonplace in federal trials, particularly high-profile cases. I have criticized the increasing use of gag orders for years due to concerns over the free speech. Typical orders often seek to shutdown public comments in the interests of protecting jury pools. Even “narrower” orders are written with vague terminology like “disparaging” and “intimidating” that expose defendants to punitive action if they cross uncertain lines in public defending themselves. No one seriously questions the ability of courts to limit the release of sealed material or to bar threatening comments directed at jurors, witnesses, or court staff. Moreover, there are laws on the books allowing for the prosecution of cases of threats or efforts to influence jurors or witnesses. More importantly, this is no typical case. Smith has pushed for a trial before the election and the court inexplicably shoehorned the trial into a crowded calendar just before the Super Tuesday election. Judge Chutkan previously stated that “I cannot and I will not factor into my decisions how it will factor into a political campaign.” This motion, however, would impose substantial limits on a national political debate and begs the question of whether the court is failing to balance the rivaling constitutional interests in this unprecedented situation. It could not only test Chutkan’s position but prompt an early appeal. One of the top issues in this presidential campaign is Trump’s insistence that the Justice Department and the criminal justice system have been weaponized by Democrats. He was running on that issue even before the four separate criminal cases were filed against him in Florida, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. More importantly, it is an issue that is resonating with tens of millions of Americans. One poll showed 62% of the public viewed the prosecutions as “politically motivated.” Another poll shows that 65% still view the prosecutions as “serious.” Between these polls is found a raging debate among citizens and candidates over the merits and motivations of these cases. Under Smith’s proposed motion, almost everyone (including Biden) will be able to discuss this case but Trump himself. Disparaging criticism of Smith or key accusers could land Trump in jail under an ambiguous standard. That is a rather hard standard to respect when you are alleging that Smith is part of a politically motivated hit job. Moreover, gagging Trump would not impact the level of inflammatory or insulting commentary. By scheduling a trial of the leading candidate for the presidency in the middle of the election season, the cases will continue to occupy a high level of coverage and commentary. This jury pool will be inundated with such commentary on both sides and Trump’s prior comments on the case will be replayed continually in print, radio, and television outlets. In light of that reality, the question is whether gagging Trump will materially change the impact on potential jurors. Conversely, it will gag a candidate on a major issue before the public. Worse yet, one of the potential witnesses is one of Trump’s opponents: former Vice President Mike Pence. Other potential witnesses are political figures who have engaged in commentary on the underlying allegations. To be clear, I criticized Trump’s Jan. 6 speech while he was giving it. I supported Vice President Mike Pence and his certification of the election of Joe Biden. Despite my disagreement with Trump on that day and his claims of voting fraud, he is making his case to the American people on his past conduct. This was not some manufactured claim to allow him to poison a jury pool. It has been building for years and long ago some of us predicted that this election would be the largest jury verdict in history. These courts have elected to daisy-chain trials before the election. The timing guaranteed the maximum level of coverage and commentary. At this point, a broad gag order is like running for a hand pump on the Titanic. A truly “narrowly tailored” order would focus on comments deemed threatening to witnesses or jurors. However, banning disparaging and inflammatory comments about the prosecution or accusers would create a Damocles sword dangling over the head of Trump in every speech. In making his case that he acted lawfully in the prior election, Trump will be pummeled with specific claims from witnesses and the prosecutors. Moreover, after long alleging the weaponization of the criminal justice system, any comments on the motivation of Smith and the Justice Department will be — by definition — defamation. Meanwhile, Judge Chutkan’s own comments about Trump have been repeatedly quoted in the media and are the basis for a motion for her to recuse herself. For example, in sentencing a rioter in 2022, Chutkan said that the rioters “were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man – not to the Constitution.” She added that “[i]t’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.” Judge Chutkan’s promise not to consider the political campaign in ruling on these motions will now be tested. The trial of a former president in the midst of a presidential election is a unique situation and may require greater accommodation than Chutkan is inclined to give. There may be a judicial argument for gagging Trump, but it raises serious constitutional concerns. Is it really worth the cost? Tyler Durden Mon, 09/18/2023 - 08:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 18th, 2023

Victor Davis Hanson: The Frightened Left

Victor Davis Hanson: The Frightened Left Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness, An impeachment inquiry looms and the shrieks of outrage are beginning. The Left is now suddenly voicing warnings that those who recently undermined the system could be targeted by their own legacies. So, for example, now we read why impeachment is suddenly a dangerous gambit. True, the Founders did not envision impeaching a first-term president the moment he lost his House majority. Nor did they imagine impeaching a president twice. And they certainly did not anticipate trying an ex-president in the Senate as a private citizen. In modern times, the nation has not rushed to impeach a president without a special counsel investigation to determine whether the chief executive was guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But thanks to the Democrats, recent impeachments now have destroyed all those guardrails. After all, Trump was impeached the first time on the fumes of an exhaustive but fruitless 22-month, $40 million special counsel investigation—one designed to find him guilty of Russian “collusion” and thus to be removed from office but found no actionable offenses at all. Instead, dejected Democrats moved immediately for a second try. In September 2019 a few weeks after Trump had announced his 2020 reelection bid, the Democratic House began to impeach the president on the new grounds that he had talked to the President Zelensky of Ukraine and said he might delay offensive arms shipments—unless the Ukrainians could demonstrate that they had ended corruption and, in particular, were no longer influenced by the Biden family quid pro quo shakedowns. Trump was proven right: the Biden family is not just corrupt, but, in particular, Joe Biden as head of the family and Vice President had intervened in the internal politics of an aid recipient, by threatening not to delay but rather to cancel outright all U.S. aid to Ukraine—unless it fired Viktor Shokin, a Ukrainian prosecutor. Shokin was then looking into the misadventures of Biden’s son Hunter, and why the Vice President’s imbecilic son was receiving lucrative compensation on the boards of a Ukrainian energy company Burisma, yet without any demonstrable expertise or education in matters of energy policy. Since Trump was impeached, we now know that Joe Biden did lie that he had no connection with or even knowledge of his son’s business. And we know that the fired prosecutor believed the Bidens were recipients of bribes. We know that contrary to Biden’s assertions, he was not following State Department policy. In contrast, the U.S. had, in fact, lauded Shokin’s efforts to repress corruption. In sum, Biden was undermining the stated policy of the U.S. government to protect his son’s—and his own—efforts to leverage money from Kyiv by monetizing the influence of his own Vice Presidency. In some sense, Biden was guilty of the very “treason” charge—altering U.S. foreign policy for personal benefit—by which Rep. Adam Schiff had earlier falsely accused Trump. Given that reality, it is easy to argue that the House impeached Donald Trump in 2019 for crimes that he did not commit, but which the current president Joe Biden most certainly had during his Vice Presidency. But weaponizing impeachment is just one baleful legacy of the Left. There are plenty more of their own precedents that Leftists now would not wish to have applied to themselves: Will the next president have the FBI pay social media censors to suppress the dissemination of any news it feels is unhelpful to the reelection of a Republican president? Is it OK now for the next Vice President to invite his son onto Air Force Two to cement multimillion dollars deals that benefit both, with Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainian oligarchs who enjoy government ties? Should a conservative billionaire stealthily insert $419 million late in the 2024 campaign to absorb the work of registrars in key voting precincts? If a Democratic president wins the 2024 election should conservative groups riot at the Capitol on Inauguration Day? Should a conservative celebrity yell out to the assembled crowd of protestors that she dreams of blowing up the White House? And if a Republican wins, should he prosecute any Democratic rioters who once again swarm Washington on Inauguration Day and charge them with “insurrection,” meting out long prisons sentences to the convicted? Is Joe Biden now vulnerable to being impeached for systematic family corruption, or using the Department of Justice to obstruct the prosecution of his son in his last days in office, and then being tried in the Senate as a private citizen? If the Republicans gain the Senate, will they move to end the filibuster in agreement with Democratic assertions that it is “racist” and a “Jim Crow relic”? If the midwestern Electoral College “Blue Wall” seems to reappear, or if Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada recreate new blue walls, will there be a conservative effort to end the constitutionally mandated Electoral College? If in 2024 there is a narrow Democratic win in the Electoral College, should conservative celebrities conspire to run ads urging the electors to reject their constitutional duties and not vote in accordance with their state’s popular vote that went Democratic? Should a Republican third-party candidate sue to stop a state’s selection of its electors on grounds the voting machines were rigged? If Supreme Court decisions begin to appear to favor the left, will Republicans talk of packing the court, or have the DOJ turn a blind eye when mobs began to swarm the homes of liberal justices? Should the conservative media go after liberal judges with serial accusations of corruption? Should the Republican Senate leader assemble a mob of pro-life protestors at the doors of the court and call out Justices Sotomayor or Jackson by name, with threats that they will soon reap the whirlwind they have sowed, given they have no idea of what is about to “hit” them? Should conservative legal scholars urge the country to ignore Supreme Court decisions deemed liberal? Will local prosecutors in red jurisdictions begin filing criminal charges against leading Democratic candidates on various charges, among them accusations of old inflated real estate assessments, campaign finance laws, questioning ballot results, or taking classified documents home? If Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton were to run in 2024, will their past illicit behavior gain the attention of a city or state attorney in Utah, West Virginia, or Wyoming? If Joe Biden continues to decline at his present rate, will Republicans demand he be given the Montreal Cognitive Assessment? Will they subpoena Ivy League psychiatrists to testify that an intervention is needed to remove him from office? And will an FBI director and a deputy Attorney General plan to wear wires, and record Biden in his private moments of senility, as a way of convincing the cabinet or Congress that he is demonstrably mentally unfit for office? In the 2024 election, should the Republican nominee hire a foreign ex-spy to compile falsehoods about the Democratic opponent and then seed them among the media, and Department of Justice? Should the FBI hire such a Republican contractor and likewise use him to gather dirt on the Democratic nominee? If there appears incriminating evidence concerning a Republican nominee, should the FBI retrieve such evidence, keep it under wraps, lie about its veracity, and instead go along with media and ex-intelligence officers assertions that it is a fraudulent production of Russian intelligence? Will conservative CIA and FBI directors, and the Director of National Intelligence be given exemptions from prosecutions for systematically lying while under oath in Congress or to federal investigators? Will conservative celebrities ritually on social media, without fear of censorship, brag about ways of decapitating, shooting, stabbing, burning, or blowing up the Democratic nominee? Since in many states the statues of limitations have not yet expired for arson, murder, assault, looting, and attacks on 1,500 police officers during the summer 2020 riots, will state prosecutors now begin identifying those 14,000 once arrested and mostly released, and begin refiling charges of conspiracy, racketeering—and “insurrection”? Will they also file insurrection charges against those who torched a federal courthouse, a police precinct, and a historic Washington DC church, or conspired to riot and swarm the White House grounds in an effort to attack the President of the United States? Will they file charges against Vice President Kamala Harris for “inciting” ongoing violent demonstrations with monotonous, emphatic, and repetitive threats in the weeks before her nomination? Contrary to liberal “fact checkers” at time of nationwide violence, Harris certainly did not distinguish violent from non-violent protests, but in fact implied that they were intimately tied to the upcoming election and beyond. So given the hundreds of police officers injured, the hundreds of millions in property damage, and the dozens killed, what exactly did Harris mean by tying that ongoing summer of often violent protests to Election Day?: “But they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop, and this is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not gonna stop, and everyone beware, because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop before Election Day in November, and they’re not gonna stop after Election Day. Everyone should take note of that, on both levels, that they’re not going to let up — and they should not. And we should not.” Was the above more or less inflammatory than Trump’s January 6 remarks for which in part he is under indictment: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore…I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”? In sum, the Democratic leadership along with the media long ago deemed that Donald Trump posed such an existential threat to democracy that they were entitled to destroy democratic norms to destroy him. Their actions were predicated on three assumptions: one, they had that right because they were more sophisticated, morally superior, and smarter than the rest of America and thus deserved the exemption to blow up customs and norms to achieve the “correct” ends; two, whatever damage they did to long-standing protocols of equal justice under the law paled in comparison to the damage that Trump supposedly would or did do; and three, their conservative opposition either lacked the wherewithal, the brains, or the audacity to emulate such behavior and thus there was no worry anyone would dare do to them what they did to others. And now? For the first time, given recent polls, the Left is scared that a Republican House and perhaps soon a Republican Senate and White House might follow its own precedents, and use new leftwing guidelines to enact conservative agendas. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/11/2023 - 19:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 11th, 2023

The "Why Not" Culture: Why The Georgia Final Report Should Worry Us All

The "Why Not" Culture: Why The Georgia Final Report Should Worry Us All Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the Hill on release of the final report of the Special Purpose Grand Jury in Georgia. The recommendation for sweeping indictments involving 39 people, including current and former senators, only magnifies fears over political prosecutions. For many of us, the inclusion of figures like the senators reflects a rogue grand jury. However, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Cal.) insisted that Sen. Lindsey Graham was “lucky” not to be indicted. According to Schiff, Graham calling Georgia officials about the counting or discarding of votes was enough to justify a criminal charge. Presumably, since Graham could be indicted with Trump, Schiff would also consider him eligible to be barred from ever running again for office under the 14th Amendment, as discussed below. It is the “why not” approach to criminal and constitutional law. Here is my column: With the release of the special grand jury final report in Georgia, the nation finally was able to see what foreperson Emily Kohrs last February was giggling about in interviews. Call it the “Why not?” report. Back then, when Kohrs was asked if there were recommended charges, she chuckled and said, “Can you imagine doing this for eight months and not coming out with a whole list of recommended indictments? It’s not a short list. It’s not.’” In addition to nodding at an expected Trump indictment, she added, “There may be some names on that list that you wouldn’t expect.” After all, why not? The final product did not disappoint. The members recommended 39 people for prosecution, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.). They also included lawyers who argued for recounts or investigations into alleged election fraud. While the report expressly claims that the Fulton County District Attorney’s office did not create the list, it was the office of Fani Willis that presented the law, the evidence and potential targets to the special grand jury. During that process, these members concluded that politicians voicing support for the former president and his allegations could be criminally charged for doing so. The news that Willis did not indict Graham and others infuriated many on the left. Liberal websites were inundated with comments like “I want all the enablers charged, tried, and given long sentences as traitors to our country” and asking why the list did not include Senators Grassley, Cruz, Lee and “147 current and former members of the House, just to name a few.” The disappointment of the special grand jury members and commentators is understandable. When one reads the indictment of the 19 defendants, it is surprising that all of the other 20 were dropped. While the indictment does contain serious charges against some individuals, Willis used a sweeping racketeering theory to indict in gross. One possible reason Willis dropped some of these targets is that she knew the indictment of these senators would have been quickly and firmly rejected by the courts as the criminalization of political speech. However, the 160 individual acts detailed in Willis’s report include speeches and social media postings by Trump and others claiming evidence of widespread voting fraud. I disagree with those claims, but many citizens held the same suspicions of the election. Many still do. It is understandable why the grand jurors thought that anyone pushing these claims was committing a crime, given the 160 acts cited by Willis. Graham, for example, called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after the November 2020 election to ask about absentee ballots and whether groups of ballots could be rejected. That call was not ultimately deemed worthy of an indictment. However, Willis launched her investigation based on Trump’s continued demands that Raffensperger investigate the vote tally in two other calls. Once again, I agreed then and now with Raffensperger in his refusal. But the question is whether such requests are evidence of a crime. I have long criticized the misrepresentation of the two Georgia calls by the Washington Post, which later issued a correction in its reporting. Although it recently made a startling contradictory statement on the truth of its original claims, the transcript of the calls shows that Trump did not tell officials to simply add more than 11,000 votes. I still disagree with his claims, but I have maintained that Trump was making a predictable argument in a settlement negotiation that he only needed that number of votes and that a new recount or continued investigation would find them. My questioning of the use of the calls as evidence of a crime has given many people the vapors. They insist that it was preposterous to think that Trump was actually asking for continued recounts or investigations instead of demanding that Raffensperger commit fraud. Yet Raffensperger himself recently took the stand and confirmed that the call was a “settlement negotiation” over whether to conduct further recounts or investigations. The question is when advocacy or inquiries or negotiations become criminal acts. Willis’s first grand jury clearly believed that senators who called for recounts or Raffensperger’s resignation should go to prison. The comparison between their recommendations and the eventual indictment does not clearly answer how such acts are distinguishable as crimes. The same lack of limiting principle is evident in the new theory being pushed by various experts under the 14th Amendment to bar Trump from ballots on the grounds that he “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Beyond the tendentious claim that the Jan. 6 riot was an actual insurrection, they also maintain that the provision is self-executing, requiring no vote of Congress for secretaries of state to bar Trump from next year’s ballots. Even though Trump has not been charged, let alone convicted, of insurrection (or even incitement), these advocates believe that he can be removed from the ballot because of his election claims, his inflammatory rhetoric and his delay in calling for supporters to leave the Capitol. This is one of the most dangerous legal theories to arise in decades. This week, Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes aptly described the claimed right to disqualify as a “radical” measure that would “encompass every elected office in our government — state, local, federal, and so forth.” Indeed, Democrats have called for barring not just Trump but 120 Republicans in Congress from running for office. As with the Georgia special grand jury, the question is “Why not?” If the standard is “giving aid or comfort” to insurrectionists, then why not throw hundreds of other Republicans who supported the challenge to certification on Jan. 6 off the ballot? And while we’re at it, why not bar every lawyer who helped file claims of voting fraud from ever running for office? They all gave aid or comfort with their actions. By this reasoning, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and other Democrats could have been barred from ballots for opposing Trump’s certification in 2016 without any basis, along with leaders such as Hillary Clinton, who continued to call the election “stolen” for years. In 2016, there were also violent riots in Washington opposing Trump’s inauguration, thanks in no small part to such rhetoric. We can then have different candidates of both parties removed from ballots in every state. This “Why not?” philosophy is all part of our impulse-buy politics, where there is little thought given to the implications of actions beyond immediate vengeance and satisfaction. It is a criminal and political system based on the giddy philosophy of Emily Kohrs. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/11/2023 - 15:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 11th, 2023

I watched the newly-public security camera footage from January 6. I saw things I hadn"t seen before — including eerie scenes of lawmakers fleeing for their safety on one of the darkest days in American history.

House Republicans are now letting reporters comb through reams of old footage via 3-hour appointments at an obscure office building near the Capitol. Rioters inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.Brent Stirton/Getty Images House Republicans have begun to make January 6 security camera footage publicly available. I signed up for a 3-hour appointment, where I watched the footage in an obscure conference room. I watched as lawmakers fled for safety — and banded together — while rioters besieged the Capitol. More than two-and-a-half years after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, House Republicans have begun to make security camera footage from the days surrounding the riot more widely available.There's been plenty of controversy — and distortions of the events of that day — in the meantime.When Democrats controlled the House, they resisted releasing the entirety of the footage, arguing that doing so would be compromising to the security of the US Capitol complex. Even so, certain clips have made their way into documentaries about that day and played a prominent role in the public hearings staged by the January 6 committee last year.When Republicans retook the chamber, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to the footage — resulting in the broadcast of a distorted narrative of the day's events that angered even fellow Republicans.But now, the Committee on House Administration has opened up access to the footage more broadly, allowing reporters, certain non-profit groups, January 6 defendants, and those who were injured during the riot to view the footage.I decided to take them up on it. Here's how it went, and what I saw.Showing up to view the footageAs a reporter, I was able to sign up for a 3-hour time slot, and can theoretically continue to do so once per week. I emailed the committee staff last Monday, and was able to quickly set up an 11 am appointment just days later.On Friday, I met committee staff in the lobby of O'Neill House Office Building, a lesser-known part of the Capitol complex where the January 6 committee held depositions with witnesses.Roger Stone in front of the O’Neill House Office Building, where the January 6 security camera footage can be viewed, in December 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe staff led me up to a conference room on the 4th floor, where three desktop computers — each set up to allow for browsing the footage — were lined up against a back wall.I was required to leave any electronics, including my cell phone, by the door in order to prevent me from recording or photographing any of the footage.A staff member from the committee was on hand the entire time to answer questions and monitor the terminals, where one other reporter was also viewing footage and taking notes.How the viewing worksWhen I sat down at the terminal, a large map of the Capitol Complex filled the screen — one fairly similar to the below map from the US Capitol Police, but in black and white.Scattered across the map were blue circles indicating the locations of a cluster of security cameras. Upon zooming in, each camera was marked by a small camera lens icon.Demonstration map of the US Capitol Complex.United States Capitol PoliceOnce I'd identified a camera I wanted to look at, I could drag the lens icon into another window, where I was able to view any moment between January 5 and January 7, 2021. Some of the timelines accompanying each clip included orange markers, denoting moments that previous viewers — including January 6 committee staff — had sought to highlight.Through a drop-down menu, I could also view maps of the interior areas of the complex — including each floor of the Capitol and the surrounding office buildings, as well as the pedestrian tunnels and subway tracks that connect them — that were similarly overlaid with camera lens iconGiven that we've already seen so much footage of the rioters on the outside of the building, I chose to focus on the inside, looking particularly how lawmakers responded to the impending threat.The House Administration Committee is also allowing news outlets to request clips from specific cameras, and will make them publicly available via an online "reading room" sometime soon.What I saw on the House sideI began by looking at the pedestrian tunnel that connects the Capitol to Cannon House Office Building — an area that I frequently stake out during session days when I'm hoping to talk to certain House members.Focusing around the 2 pm hour — when rioters halted Electoral College certification proceedings in the House — I saw a steady stream of activity in the tunnel.Democratic Rep. Cori Bush and her chief of staff could be seen walking away from the Capitol at 2:07 pm, less than 15 minutes before the House went into recess. Bush later recounted in February 2021 that she "just felt the need" to walk out during the House proceedings, before the chamber was breached.Nine minutes later, I saw police forcibly leading a man — possibly a rioter — down the tunnel and away from the Capitol. I saw a throng of police officers heading into the Capitol at 2:33 pm, just as the situation outside the House chamber was beginning to deteriorate.Upstairs, I focused on a lone security camera in front of the House chamber. At 2:27 pm, a group of rioters began to assemble in the hallway leading into the chamber, where House members and reporters typically do television hits, and the rioters were initially met with what appeared to be just one police officer.The crowd continued to swell and gradually grew more visibly restive and agitated, and even as more officers arrived for backup, it clearly wasn't enough: at 2:36 pm, the rioters overwhelmed the cops and surged forward towards the door of the House chamber.I looked at cameras in the subway tunnel connecting the Capitol to Rayburn House Office Building, which appeared to be the tunnel that most House members used to evacuate. On another security camera in Longworth House Office Building, I watched lawmakers of both parties gathering near the secure location where they sheltered for the duration of the riot.I then skipped to later in the day, where I saw lawmakers begin to return to the chamber after 8 pm.In the Cannon Tunnel, I saw Rep. Steny Hoyer — then the House Majority Leader — leading a large procession of roughly 25 staffers back into the Capitol at 8:04 pm.Lawmakers began to trickle back in the minutes thereafter, where I saw then-Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican, making his way towards the Capitol right next to Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat.Here's what I saw on the Senate sideOn the Senate side, I focused on the security cameras outside the back of the chamber, where senators — and then-Vice President Mike Pence — were led away as the threat from rioters became clearer.Pence left the chamber down the East back stairway at 2:26 pm, roughly 4 minutes before everybody else was led down the West stairway on the other side.It was at this moment that the fear of that day came through, even on the silent footage that I was viewing. Officers on the West stairway had set up a barricade using some chairs and benches, and one officer in particular could be seen visibly swaying back and forth, pacing around, as the minutes elapsed.The Senate is generally known as the more collegial chamber, and it showed.As senators headed down the stairway in a single-file fashion, they seemed to be leaning on one another, physically, as they made their escape.Down in the basement below the Capitol, I watched as Republican Sen. John Boozman helped Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein make her way towards the senators' secure location in Hart Senate Office Building, with one arm held firmly against her back. Over in Hart, Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan could be seen locking arms as they made their way to safety.Other random sightings I jotted down in my notebook included: a reporter apparently interviewing Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, a go-to quote source for Capitol reporters, as the evacuation took place; Republican then-Sen. Jim Inhofe milling around in the tunnel towards Hart, on the phone and appearing confused, as officers seemingly encouraged him to keep moving; Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse seemingly being the last senator to make it out of the Capitol, minutes after everyone else.What I didn't — or couldn't — seeThree hours isn't nearly enough time to look at all of the footage.There are also plenty of areas in the complex where no footage was available, apparently due to lack of camera coverage. That includes the area behind the House chamber where rioter Ashli Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Police officer, as well as the upper floors of most office buildings.Nonetheless, there's certainly more that one could look at, including the controversial tour group that Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk led the day before the riot, how cameras on Capitol grounds captured the advance of the crowd, and more of lawmakers returning to their chambers on the evening of the 6th.All in all, though, I found the experience to be eerie.I started covering Capitol Hill several months after the riot took place, and most of what I know about that day is based on news reports, documentaries, and the January 6 committee hearings.The unfiltered footage, however, was another stark reminder of the darkness of that day.I saw not just the lawmakers I cover, but also reporters that I work with, running for safety in the buildings where I now work. The COVID-19 pandemic was still raging at the time of the riot, and seeing everyone walking around in masks — as well as several who pointedly did not — brought back some of the peculiarities of that point in time.But I'm glad I did it, and overall, I'm glad that the footage is being distributed more broadly. If anything, it's a reminder of what that day was really like, and how those inside the Capitol actually experienced it.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 11th, 2023

America"s Closer To "Imploding Under The Weight Of Its Own Absurdities" Than Many Realize

America's Closer To "Imploding Under The Weight Of Its Own Absurdities" Than Many Realize Authored by James Howard Kunstler via, A Theory Of The Game “…a system that has been hollowed out by a string of cascading failures runs into one more crisis than it can tolerate, and implodes under the weight of its own absurdities. We are much closer to such scenes in North America and Western Europe right now than I think most people realize.” - John Michael Greer Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss was a bigger shock to the Washington DC deep state Blob than Donald Trump’s victory. But the dynamics of this trauma operated at many levels. At the most superficial level was the hysterical response of Democratic Party rank-and-file women who regarded Donald Trump as the most extreme and horrifying embodiment of an archetypal “bad daddy.” This was all sheer psychodrama of course, but women are engrossed with psychodrama — generating it and relishing it — which men often fail to appreciate. In cases of madness, there is often a dark, sordid secret behind the weird behavior that presents outwardly. In the group madness provoked by Hillary Clinton’s loss, the dirty secret was that she had actually bought the Democratic National Committee in 2016, meaning the machinery that runs the party. She used lavish contributions to the Clinton Foundation to accomplish that. And Hillary along with her foundation — and husband Bill, who had been reduced by late career misadventure to a kind of political fashion accessory — had committed any number of grave crimes against our country over the years, especially during her service as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. Think: Skolkovo… Uranium One…. In 2016 Hillary used her ownership of the DNC to underhandly de-rail the likely Democratic primary winner, Bernie Sanders, from being nominated. The initial act of madness by the “Resistance” on Mr. Trump’s inauguration day was the women’s march of pink pussy-hats, so called, a symbolic exhibition of fleering female genitalia in Mr. Trump’s face, so to speak, as an act of defiance against the new national daddy figure (and his millions of deplorable supporters watching the ceremonies on TV). This proved to be a mere overture to the more extreme sexual acting-out that evolved in the years to follow, overall a campaign to horrify people of normal appetites, beliefs, and moral codes, culminating in the drag queen story hours aimed at maximally inducing outrage among people organized as families. All of that psychodrama was hijacked, of course, by the serious neo-Marxists lurking among the Left, who used it in the usual neo-Marxian way: to overthrow everything in the established social order. And who were these? The circle around Barack Obama. And who was Barack Obama exactly? Good question. This mysterious figure who rose so swiftly from being, briefly, a mere state senator in Illinois, then to the US Senate — for only a few years, accomplishing next to nothing there — then to being nominated for president, and actually winning the 2008 election! Since we’re speaking in terms of psychodrama, Mr. Obama was liberalism’s wish-fulfillment: a half-century after the Civil Rights movement, America elects the first black president (half-black, anyway)! Liberalism needed, above all, a sense of moral superiority, to heal an imperfect world, to be ahead-of-the-curve in mankind’s implacable march of progress toward perfection, and especially to set an example for how to live for all those gun-loving, bible-thumping, meth-smoking, opiate-scarfing, racist, rapist flyover rubes who would dare to vote for such misogynistic vermin as the TV-clown Donald J. Trump. It was known, at the time, that Mr. Obama was a close associate (probably an apostle of) Chicagoan Bill Ayers, a former leader of the 1960s domestic terrorism group called The Weathermen. But by 2008, Mr. Ayers had managed to rehabilitate himself into professor of education at the U of Illinois Chicago campus, and hitched himself to Chicago school czar Arne Duncan, who would be appointed Secretary of Education by Mr. Obama, opening the doors for a neo-Marxist coup in the public schools — now on display in the battles raging over race-and-gender-Marxism installed in the Common Core State Standard Initiative. To what degree was Mr. Obama a tool of other forces lurking in the deep background of world politics, and what are these forces?  Many of the non-Left will say they are a loose consortium of corporate and financial actors desperate to keep in motion a set of rackets that magically stabilize business-as-usual, which asset-strips the remaining wealth of the middle classes and transfers it to the already super-wealthy. I’m not so sure about that, though the role of Davos remains persistently murky. Why, after all, would the super-rich invite as front-man a crypto-Marxist, as Mr. Obama is alleged to be, dedicated to destroying the existing social order that is the very ecosystem of the super-rich? Is it possible that Mr. Obama is fronting for nothing more than Mr. Obama now, desperately, as they say, weaponizing the “Joe Biden” government against its own people just to save Barack Obama from discovery, infamy, and loss of power? Mr. Trump proved to be easily controllable in office. With the Blob and all its primary agencies marshalled against him, he was systematically disabled and humiliated by serial Blob hoaxes during his tenure, culminating in the bizarrely successful criminal plot to launch Covid-19 as an election-rigging device. Mr. Trump was thereby neatly disposed of in 2020. Of course, RussiaGate, The Mueller business, Impeachment No. 1, and Covid-19 were all essentially acts of treason and perfidy — that is, high crimes committed by the Democratic Party. “Joe Biden” was Mr. Obama’s device for wresting control of the DNC from Hillary Clinton’s gang. But now “Joe Biden” has criminal problems of his own that threaten to take down not only his own presidency, but everything connected to it, namely his controller, Mr. Obama & Company, and the Democratic Liberal order itself driven insane by its own criminality. Meanwhile, his nemesis, Donald Trump has proven to be extraordinarily resilient in the remorseless war against him. And now that has culminated in the (so far) four cockamamie criminal cases cooked up by Obama / “Biden” as the final line of defense against the Golden Golem of Greatness — who obviously has no intention of surrendering. It looks like Mr. Obama is now in the process of being “outed” as something other than the suave performer he was for two terms in the White House. The Tucker Carlson interview with one Larry Sinclair, a gay cruiser and druggie who claims to have frolicked with Mr. Obama before he was a celebrity, was met with ominous silence in the mainstream media. They didn’t even dare denounce it to avoid drawing more attention to it. And the mysterious “drowning” of the Obama family’s chef, Tafari Campbell, paddleboarding at night in the shallow bay off the Obama estate on Martha’s Vineyard, remains woefully under-investigated. Will Barack Obama and “Joe Biden” end up sinking each other and the Democratic Party with them? And then, Will Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. be called in to rescue the darn thing while driving all the demons out of it? *  *  * Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page Tyler Durden Fri, 09/08/2023 - 16:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 8th, 2023

18 times US presidents told lies, from secret affairs to health issues to reasons for going to war

From Richard Nixon claiming innocence in the Watergate scandal to John F. Kennedy lying about a cold, here are 18 times presidents told a lie. US President Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, United States on February 28, 2017. Traditionally the first address to a joint session of Congress by a newly-elected president is not referred to as a State of the Union.Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Every US president has told a lie — from war and taxes to health conditions and extramarital affairs. When Dwight D. Eisenhower was caught lying by Russia, he said it was his greatest regret in office. President Donald Trump made more than 30,000 false or misleading statements while in office. "This is what we will say publicly but now, let's talk about what we will actually do," President Richard Nixon wrote in a memo about secret bombings in Cambodia in 1970."Every president has not only lied at some time, but needs to lie to be effective," Ed Uravic, who wrote "Lying Cheating Scum," told CNN.From President James Polk lying to invade Mexico in 1846 to then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush famously promising no new taxes, here are some of the most famous lies US presidents have ever made. In the 1840s, President James Polk told Congress that Mexico had invaded the US.Former President James Polk.Universal History Archive/Getty ImageThis was a lie. In actual fact, his administration had ordered US soldiers to occupy an area in Mexico near the Texan border in 1846. Then when Mexican forces attacked the US soldiers, Polk claimed it was an attack against the US.The result of this lie was the Mexican-American war.In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, also known as "Honest Abe," might not have lied, but he wasn't always truthful.Former President Abraham Lincoln.Getty Images / StaffIn response to rumors that he was about to meet with Confederate representatives in Washington, he told the House that no representatives were on their way to Washington, The Washington Post reported. He wasn't lying — they were on their way to Virginia, where he would later meet them. He didn't tell the whole truth at the time because he didn't want his meeting to impact the passing of the 13th Amendment.Political theory professor Meg Mott told The Conversation his use of truth when dealing with the Confederacy was "devious."In 1898, President William McKinley declared Spain had attacked a US warship called the USS Maine in Cuba, killing 355 sailors.Former President William McKinley.Library of CongressBut reportedly, he had no evidence of this.The actual cause of the sinking has never been conclusively proven.Although reluctant to go to war with Spain, his insistence that the Spanish were behind the attack led to war, per the Columbus Dispatch.In 1940, during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised the nation that "your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.Hulton Archive/GettyBut Roosevelt was already preparing to enter the war. His declaration was an election promise — one he would not keep — made during his campaign against Wendell Willkie. After his speech, his speechwriter, Sam Rosenman, asked him why he hadn't said the final part of the speech, which was, "Except in case of attack.".  Roosevelt responded, "If we're attacked, it's no longer a foreign war."The following year, in 1941, Roosevelt lied again. This time, he said a German submarine had attacked a US ship called the Greer without provocation.Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.Keystone Features/Getty ImagesIn actuality, the Greer had been protecting British ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean and had been following that German submarine and letting the British know its path.Roosevelt used the attack as a provocation to prepare the US for entering World War II.In August 1945, the Truman administration issued a press release after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, describing it as "an important military base."Former President Harry Truman in 1945.MPI/GettyHiroshima was home to 350,000 people, although it did have a military base in the city.About 10,000 soldiers were killed in the blast, but most of the 125,000 people who died were civilians.In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower dismissed claims that the US had flown spy planes over Russia after one of its planes was shot down.Former President Dwight Eisenhower.Getty ImagesThinking the pilot was killed, he approved a number of statements that said it was a weather plane. But when Russia announced it had one of the pilots named Gary Powers in custody, he had to admit he had been lying.He called it the biggest regret of his life. "I didn't realize how high a price we were going to pay for that lie," he said.On October 20, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told America he had a cold.Former President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office signing copies of his official portrait in 1961.Henry Burroughs/APThe truth was he was dealing with a crisis. Intelligence agents had found that the Soviets were creating a missile base in Cuba.To ensure the public didn't panic, Kennedy told the press he had to leave Chicago where he was campaigning because he had a fever. In reality, he had to attend a meeting back at the White House to decide whether to invade Cuba. He also claimed that the Russians had more nuclear weapons than the US.Though he lied about having an illness, Kennedy lied about not having another one. In 1960, he said he had "never" had Addison's disease.Former President John F. Kennedy in the White House in 1963.Keystone/Getty ImagesDespite scientists later confirming he had the disease, in his primary campaign against Lyndon B. Johnson, he called himself "the healthiest candidate for President in the country."Kennedy wasn't the only president who lied about his health. Numerous presidents — including Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower — lied about their health at some point.In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson said in a televised speech, “We still seek no wider war.”Former President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Sitting Room of the family quarters of the White House.Bettmann/Getty ImagesThis was in reference to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which North Vietnamese patrol boats had reportedly attacked US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.In the same speech, he declared, "Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America."Johnson's administration claimed that the US ships were out on routine patrols, but they were actually on a secret mission in North Vietnamese territory. The attacks were used to increase the US's presence in Vietnam.Johnson's lies didn't end there either. He went on to withhold information from the public and Congress about how much was spent on the Vietnam War and how badly the war effort was going. In 1970, President Richard Nixon lied to the country about a US covert bombing campaign in Cambodia.Former President Richard Nixon.Getty ImagesAfter the bombings were made public, Nixon let people believe the attacks on Cambodia were over. He advised his staff to tell the public that the soldiers were providing support for local soldiers when, in fact, the attacks continued. In a memo, Nixon wrote, "This is what we will say publicly but now, let's talk about what we will actually do."In 1974, Nixon declared, "I'm not a crook" after being accused of obstructing justice and lying during the Watergate scandal.Former President Richard Nixon in 1969.Bettmann/Getty ImagesHe claimed he was not involved in the scandal, but an investigation found evidence that he was. He later resigned as president instead of potentially being impeached.In 1986, President Ronald Reagan promised the nation: "We did not — repeat, did not — trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."Former President Ronald W. Reagan in the Oval Office in 1985.Diana Walker/Getty ImagesThis was during the Iran-Contra Affair, where the US government secretly traded weapons with Iran in exchange for the release of US hostages being held by terrorists in Lebanon.The government then used the money from the weapons to fund anti-communist groups in Nicaragua.Despite Reagan's promise, it later turned out the US had in fact traded arms for hostages.He later said, "My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."In 1988, then-Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush said, "Read my lips: No new taxes."Former President George H.W. Bush.Diana Walker/Time Life Pictures/Getty ImagesHis whole statement was: "My opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, 'Read my lips: no new taxes.'"At the time, the six words were seen as a successful political slogan. But Bush was later forced to raise taxes during negotiations with a Senate and House controlled by Democrats. After he did so, The New York Post went with a headline that said: "Read my lips: I lied."His U-turn on taxes was widely seen as one of the reasons he did not get re-elected for a second term.In 1998, President Bill Clinton said before a federal grand jury, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," referring to his intern Monica Lewinsky, with whom he did, in fact, have an affair.Monica Lewinsky and former President Bill Clinton.Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images. Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images.Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, but he was acquitted by the Senate.It was thought to be the first time a president was caught lying about their sex life because it was the first time a president had ever really been asked about it.In 2003, two months after the US invaded Iraq, President George W. Bush claimed to have found weapons of mass destruction to justify the war.Then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 1999.David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images"We found the weapons of mass destruction," he said. "For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong; we found them."But they hadn't found anything.Bush later said, "We do not know whether or not [Iraq] has a nuclear weapon." However, then-CIA Director George Tenet later testified that Bush was advised there were no nuclear weapons and it would be unlikely that the country could even make one until 2007.In 2008, when President Barack Obama was pushing through his new Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, he promised people wouldn't need to change their plans if they didn't want to.Former President Barack Obama in 2017.Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images"If you like your plan, you can keep it," Obama said. But it wasn't true. In the end, millions of people had to change their plans. He also didn't just say it once, but around 37 times, Politico reported."I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," he said in 2013.President Donald Trump made more than 30,000 false or misleading statements while in office.Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a political rally on July 29, 2023 in Erie, Pennsylvania.Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesThis averaged out at about 21 false claims a day, The Washington Post reported. Some of Trump's lies included his claim that the pandemic was "totally under control," the altering of a weather map with a Sharpie after he wrongly said Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian, or his claim that Rep Ilhan Omar supported al Qaeda.He also falsely claimed the election was stolen from him.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 8th, 2023

Russia will run out of all its best soldiers, says top Ukraine general

Ukraine's Brig Gen Oleksandr Tarnavskiy told The Observer that Ukraine has broken Russia's first and strongest defense line and expected faster gains. Ukrainian service members are seen with a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle in Zaporizhzhia region.REUTERS Ukrainian forces in southeastern Ukraine have  broken through Russia's first line of defense. Russia devoted 60% of its time and resources to the first line, the Ukrainian general told The Observer. "Sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers," he said. The Russians will eventually run out of all the best soldiers, one of Ukraine's top generals told The Observer in an upbeat assessment of the progress of the counteroffensive against Putin's occupying army.Ukraine's recent success in overcoming Russia's first defensive line comes after weeks of painstaking mine clearance. Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group of forces fighting in south Ukraine, says Moscow never expected Ukrainian forces to cross the first line, so their fortifications beyond this are weaker.He estimated that Russia had allocated 60% of its time and resources to the first defensive line, with only 20% each left over for the second and third lines."They had been preparing for over one year. They did everything to make sure that this area was prepared well," he told the UK news outlet in an exclusive interivew.Ukrainian forces pressed forward despite heavy pushback from Russian troops. Ukrainians were heavily shelled by Russians who had bunkered down in concrete dugouts behind anti-tank traps. The minefields in between the opposing forces were densely packed with explosives.Infantry forces performed the dangerous task of clearing corridors through the minefields at night, advancing meter by meter."As soon as any equipment appeared there, the Russians immediately began to fire at it and destroy it. That's why de-mining was carried out only by infantry and only at night," said Tarnavskiy, per The Observer.Now that the infantry forces have successfully breached the minefield, Russians have lost a trump card."There is a very big difference between the first and second line of defense," said Tarnavskiy. There are still minefields ahead, but they are in scattered patches instead of a single defensive cordon because Russian forces are also operating in the area. For weeks, Ukrainian infantry sappers had to work on foot to clear an assault route across the minefields. Now, they are back in their armored vehicles for the defensive lines ahead."Everything is ahead of us"Soldiers conduct military exercises in Moscow, Russia, on September 1, 2022.Russian Defense Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesMoscow is feeling the pressure and has been forced into maneuvers. Russia is redeploying troops to the area near Zaporizhzhia from other fronts and Russia."The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia. But sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers. This will give us an impetus to attack more and faster," Tarnavskiy said. "Everything is ahead of us," he told The Observer.Now that Ukrainians are facing weaker defensive lines, we can expect faster counteroffensive gains, he said.Tarnavskiy is one of Ukraine's most admired generals. Last September, he led the campaign to recapture the city of Kherson.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 3rd, 2023

The Left"s Relentless War On Donald Trump And Everyone Who Disagrees With Them

The Left's Relentless War On Donald Trump And Everyone Who Disagrees With Them Authored by Allen Mashburn via American Greatness, It's never been about Trump... it’s about forcing Americans into submission... In the tumultuous landscape of American politics, one name has become emblematic of the Left’s unyielding battle: Donald Trump. His presidency ignited a firestorm of opposition, revealing not just a political clash, but a broader war against those who hold opposing beliefs. As the dust settled on his term, it became evident that the Left’s war on Trump is just one facet of a broader campaign that aims to silence any dissenting voices. To preserve our freedoms, there must be an issued call to arms for patriotism, courage, and bravery from all citizens—willing to rise to protect the futures of their children and grandchildren. The Left’s relentless pursuit of Donald Trump transcends mere political opposition. Every step he takes is scrutinized, every word analyzed, and every policy decision met with fervent resistance. Trump, in his own way, emerged as a representative man of the common people – an unconventional politician who resonated with those who felt unheard by the political establishment—and he is a master at rallying his troops. This made him a lightning rod for the Left’s ire, a symbol of everything they sought to dismantle. Yet, beneath the surface, this battle is not solely against a single individual; it is a struggle against any opposition to their ideological agenda. The political spectrum forever changed in America with the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The Left’s hand has been shown by his antics of unfiltered communication with America—which got him de-platformed from social media. His call for American independence from foreign entities goes totally against the sellout agenda of the Left that pushes America towards globalism, risking our national sovereignty. He has become a rock in the proverbial shoe of the establishment elites and leftists. He challenges their motives, logic, and their allegiance to Country—for that they hate him vehemently. The war against Donald Trump is but one example of the broader campaign the Left wages against anyone with opposing beliefs. Their goal is not only to marginalize Trump and his supporters but to ensure that anyone who dares dissent is castigated and suppressed. This phenomenon is not confined to the political realm; it permeates everyday conversations, social media, and public discourse. As we witnessed during Trump’s presidency, the Left’s intolerance of opposing viewpoints extends far beyond the political elite and directly affects ordinary citizens who dare to voice their opinions. This intolerance for differing beliefs is a dangerous precedent for the future of our Republic. A healthy society thrives on a diversity of opinions, encouraging open debates that lead to thoughtful and balanced decision-making. However, when one side seeks to silence the other, it not only weakens the deliberative process but threatens the very foundations upon which the nation was built. The call for patriotism, courage, and bravery is not an abstract notion; it is a rallying cry for ordinary citizens to stand up for their country and its principles. As the Left’s war against opposing beliefs rages on, it is not just politicians and activists who must defend these ideals, but every American who values the preservation of freedom. Just as soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy with unwavering tenacity, citizens must stand firm against attempts to suppress their voices. Multitudes have had to die to provide us with this freedom. If it is to be passed to future generations, then it must be conserved through the strength and perseverance of the citizenry. The erosion of the First Amendment stands at the heart of this struggle. The right to freedom of speech, expression, and assembly is the bedrock of America, enabling citizens to voice their concerns, challenge the status quo, and hold those in power accountable. However, over the last decade, we have witnessed a steady encroachment on these rights. Online censorship, the suppression of dissenting viewpoints, and the vilification of opposing voices have all contributed to a chilling effect on free speech. The dismantling of our First Amendment rights is not a distant possibility; it is a present reality. Just as the Left relentlessly pursues Donald Trump, they also are chipping away at the very liberties that ensure a robust nation. This trend affects all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, and it poses a grave threat to the multiplicity of thought that is essential for a healthy society. To combat this erosion of rights and preserve our freedoms, every American must be willing to put everything on the line. The fight for freedom is not for the faint-hearted; it requires courage, determination, and an unyielding commitment to the principles that define our nation. Just as soldiers displayed incredible bravery while fighting in the communist jungles of Vietnam, citizens must exhibit the same courage to defend their rights against ideological tyranny. Ordinary citizens, irrespective of their backgrounds or beliefs, must recognize the urgency of this fight. As we seek to secure the futures of our children and grandchildren, we must stand united against any attempts to silence, suppress, or marginalize the voices of conservatism and common sense. The Left’s relentless war against Donald Trump is emblematic of a broader campaign aimed at stifling dissenting voices and eroding the founding principles of our nation. This battle is going to require resolve, and love for our families and country. We have no choice. We are at war. It has never been about Donald Trump—it’s about forcing Americans into submission. The sooner we realize it, the sooner you will begin to fight, and win. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/02/2023 - 16:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 2nd, 2023

Trump Campaign Releases Video Supercut Of Democrats Disputing Republican Election Victories

Trump Campaign Releases Video Supercut Of Democrats Disputing Republican Election Victories Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times, Former President Donald Trump's campaign has released a brand new "summer blockbuster" political ad highlighting Democrats' well-documented history of disputing election results. President Trump shared the roughly 10-minute video in an Aug. 28 post on Truth Social, calling it a "must-watch." "Republican supporters and President Trump are being ridiculed, persecuted, and even prosecuted by Biden, congressional democrats, and their radical prosecutors for raising questions about the accuracy of the 2020 victory," the video begins. "This may be one of the most hypocritical acts in history considering the Democrats have violently claimed that the last three Republican Presidential wins were stolen, rigged, and illegitimate, and it was Democrats who tried to stop the certification of a Republican President," it continues. The video goes on to cite a number of occasions in which Democrats have challenged election results, including during the 2000 presidential election when former Vice President Al Gore lost in a close-call race against President George W. Bush. Mr. Gore ultimately challenged the results in the U.S. Supreme Court amid a clash over which candidate had received Florida’s 25 electoral votes. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that a previous Florida Supreme Court order for an elective manual recount of that state’s presidential election ballots was unconstitutional and Mr. Gore eventually conceded the race. In the video, multiple Democrats—including President Biden, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—can be seen questioning the 2000 election results, with President Biden stating outright that he believes Mr. Gore won the race. U.S. Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes a concession speech after being defeated by Republican President-elect Donald Trump, in New York on Nov. 9, 2016. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images) Clinton, Pelosi Question Election 'Integrity' The video also shows footage of some Democrats refusing to participate in the official certification of the 2000 election results, including snippets of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) objecting to the "fraudulent 25 Florida electoral votes," as well as other lawmakers declining to join in the certification. It goes on to cite multiple other incidents in which Democrats challenged election results, including in 2004, when former President Bush defeated Democrat candidate John Kerry. In one clip, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) can be seen calling for independent testing of voter equipment in Ohio after the election, while in another, former Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) claims there were "numerous irregularities" with the elections. Ms. Clinton and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can also be seen questioning the "accuracy and integrity" of America's elections. The video later shows Democrats questioning the results of the 2016 presidential election, in which President Trump beat Ms. Clinton. Ms. Clinton can be seen telling audience members at event that the election can be "stolen" from candidates and that President Trump "knows he is an illegitimate president." The video narrator went on to say that "some Democrats continued to promote the totally false narrative that President Trump had somehow conspired with the Russians" to win the election, alongside footage of multiple Democrats making false claims about the now disproven Russian interference narrative. Former President of the United States Donald Trump, also the front runner for the Republican presidential candidate nominee, was booked and released on bond at Fulton County Jail on Aug. 24, 2023. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office) Trump Booked in Fulton County Jail "The Democrats have also accused Republicans of stealing many other elections, including in Georgia, the very same place where tainted Democrat Georgia Prosecutor Fani Willis is now unfairly prosecuting President Trump for suggesting there was voter fraud," the narrator continues, referring to Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' loss against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. "Many in America are asking why President Trump is being prosecuted for doing the very same thing Democrats like Biden and Hillary have done, and the answer is very simple. Like a third-world corrupt dictator, Biden will use any means necessary to beat the one Republican he knows he can’t beat," the video narrator concludes. The video from the Trump campaign comes shortly after President Trump was booked into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Aug. 24 after surrendering himself to authorities following his indictment on racketeering and conspiracy charges. After handing himself over to authorities, President Trump, 77, had his fingerprints and mugshot taken before being released on a $200,000 bond roughly 20 minutes later. He later described the experience as "terrible"  and a "very sad day for our country." The indictment charges President Trump and 18 others in relation to their efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 election in the state. President Trump was booked on 13 charges including a violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit filing of false documents, among others. He has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly claimed he is the victim of a political witch hunt. Tyler Durden Tue, 08/29/2023 - 19:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 29th, 2023

Banning "Price Gouging" Hurts More Than It Helps

Banning "Price Gouging" Hurts More Than It Helps Authored by Michael Maharrey via, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 33 Florida counties on Saturday in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia, thus activating one of the most misguided and counterproductive economic policies imaginable. Yes, with the sweep of his pen, DeSantis banned “price gouging.” “I have activated our Price Gouging Hotline to take complaints about extreme price increases on commodities needed to prepare for a potential storm strike,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement on Saturday. This will make a lot of people feel better, but it won’t do anything to help the flow of goods and services in the state. In fact, it will create more problems than it solves. People have a visceral emotional reaction to people raising prices during a disaster. But it is nothing but feelz. In fact, “price gouging” serves an important economic function. Not allowing prices to rise actually causes more harm. But trying to explain this is like spitting into the wind. (Hurricane pun intended.) Most people cheer price gouging statutes. After all, they are going after “greedy people” who are taking advantage of other people in difficult situations. And you know what? Price gougers might be greedy. But that doesn’t mean prices shouldn’t go up during an emergency. In fact, there are sound economic reasons that so-called price gouging really isn’t such a bad thing. It’s a natural function of supply and demand. Prices rise as demand goes up and supplies tighten. That’s economics 101. Pretend you know it’s going to rain for a month straight. You would probably buy an umbrella, right? A lot of people would. And that means the price of an umbrella would go up. Now, if umbrella prices stayed really low, say because some knuckleheaded politician passed a law that said you can’t raise the price of an umbrella when the weatherman is predicting rain, you might buy one for each member of your family. But if prices spiked in response to demand, you would probably make do with one or two, leaving some umbrellas for somebody else. Nice, right? The rising price would also help boost supply. If umbrellas get expensive enough, some guy in a less rainy locale where there is less umbrella demand might be willing to bring in a shipment of bumbershoots. It would be worth his while to pay higher transportation costs to take advantage of the higher price. But if the knuckleheaded politician has his way, the price won’t rise and our budding umbrella entrepreneur will just stay home and sell sunglasses. This makes sense, right? Doesn’t matter. No matter how much sense it makes, or how you explain it, people will get angry about price gouging. I can’t win this argument. People just react negatively to rising prices during a crisis. Muh feelz trump logic. Every. Single. Time. Of course, these same people will pay $12 for a beer at a baseball game. But when you ask them to pay $3 for a bottle of water before a storm, it’s a crime of epic proportions. Never mind that while people are yelling and screaming about “price gouging,” there’s nothing left on the shelf to buy. Too bad there were no price signals to direct supply and demand. Here’s an important thing to remember. Economic reality doesn’t care about your feelings. The problem is you can see the results of price gouging. You feel the pain of the higher prices. It’s easy to finger-point at the greedy guy. Now, you may also feel the pain of shortages. But almost nobody understands that the anti-price gouging policy caused it. There is no obvious cause and effect. So, people just don’t get it. It’s a classic example of economist Frédéric Bastiat’s seen and unseen. Good economists consider both the obvious “seen” effects of a policy as well as the less obvious “unseen” effects. Unfortunately, most people aren’t good economists. Tyler Durden Mon, 08/28/2023 - 15:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 28th, 2023

Trump Trial Set For March 2024 As Activist Judge Refuses Request For Election Delay

Trump Trial Set For March 2024 As Activist Judge Refuses Request For Election Delay Obama-appointed activist Judge Tanya Chutkan - who's behind some of the most "extreme sentencing of January 6th defendants" while "openly supporting the violent Black Lives Matter riots of 2020" - has denied a request to move Donald Trump's federal election-interference trial until after the 2024 US election. Instead, the trial will start March 4, 2024 in what the WSJ framed as 'seeking a balance' between prosecutors' request for a Jan. 2 start date, and Trump's request to push the trial to April 2026, citing the large volume of evidence they will have to examine, as well as the historic nature of the case. Trump is the first president in US history accused of blocking the peaceful transfer of power to his successor, which his lawyers characterized as "terra incognita." "Never in the history of the United States have we seen a case of this magnitude go to trial in four months, and this man’s liberty and life is at stake," said Trump attorney John Lauro on Monday. "He deserves an adequate representation. He’s no different than any American." Chutkan, a US District Court judge in the District of Columbia, previously worked at a law firm that represented Fusion GPS, the company that helped orchestrate the Russia collusion hoax targeting former President Donald Trump. During her stint with Boies Schiller Flexner, the Democrat-friendly law firm also reportedly represented Clinton Cabal foot soldier Huma Abedin, the former wife of disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner. Special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with four crimes on August 1st, including conspiring to defraud the U.S., obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring against the rights of voters, per the Journal. The indictment points to actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters. Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of pursuing him to undermine his bid to return to the White House. One of Smith’s prosecutors, Molly Gaston, acknowledged that the discovery evidence so far amounts to 12.8 million pages, but said most of it had already been turned over to or previously reviewed by the defense. At least 25% of those pages are associated with Trump’s campaign and political-action committee, more than three million came from the U.S. Secret Service, and hundreds of thousands came from publicly available litigation, Gaston said. -WSJ According to Gaston, grand jury transcripts, notes, exhibits and reports from interviews amount to roughly 58,000 pages, while prosecutors have assembled roughly 47,000 pages of "key documents" for Trump's defense team, including evidence they thought Trump's lawyers would find helpful. "It’s essentially a road map to our case," she said. Back to Gaetz... more via the Epoch Times. "Judge Tanya Chutkan’s extreme sentencing of January 6th defendants, while openly supporting the violent Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, showcases a complete disregard for her duty of impartiality and the rule of law," Mr. Gaetz said. He appeared to be referring to remarks the judge made in one Jan. 6-related sentencing. "People gathered all over the country last year to protest the violent murder by the police of an unarmed man," she said, referencing violent riots that erupted after the death of George Floyd. "To compare the actions of people protesting, mostly peacefully, for civil rights, to those of a violent mob seeking to overthrow the lawfully elected government is a false equivalency and ignores a very real danger that the January 6 riot posed to the foundation of our democracy." Mr. Gaetz's resolution points to a few other cases of "open partisanship," including the fact that the Obama-appointed district judge had donated thousands of dollars to his presidential campaign, and that during another Jan. 6-related sentencing she "lamented" that President Trump "remains free to this day." "Such partisan commentary by Judge Chutkan has been ongoing and calls into question her fitness as a judge and ... Chutkan's comments and activities on and off the bench violate all 5 canons of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges," the resolution reads (pdf). The canons are that a judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary; avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities; perform the duties of the office fairly, impartially, and diligently; engage in extrajudicial activities that are consistent with the obligations of judicial office, and refrain from political activity. "It is deeply concerning that a United States District Court judge would exhibit such blatant political bias from the bench," he said in a press release. "Justice may be blind, but the American people are not—we see Judge Chutkan for her actions, and we rebuke them in the greatest possible sense.” Tyler Durden Mon, 08/28/2023 - 11:51.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 28th, 2023

Trump"s fans and critics alike are plastering his mug shot on everything from mugs to t-shirts. Here"s a roundup of the merch gold mine.

The release of Trump's mugshot prompted online sellers to craft a gold mine of mugs, t-shirts and more. Since Donald Trump's mugshot was released on Thursday fans and critics of the former president are selling t-shirts, mugs, posters — and turning a real profit.Mark Romano via Etsy/Fulton County sheriff's office Donald Trump's mugshot was released to the public on Thursday by the Fulton County Sheriff's office.  Fans and critics of Trump are now selling mugs, t-shirts, and other merch with the mugshot.  Some independent sellers say the mugshot merch has helped them turn a profit for the first time.  It wasn't long after Donald Trump surrendered to authorities at the Fulton Country Jail that his mugshot became a public good.  The photo — taken after a sprawling indictment that brought 13 criminal charges against Trump and his top allies for their attempts to overturn the 2020 election — is one for the history books.In the days since the mugshot has been released, though, fans and critics of the former president have not shied away from monetizing it. Listings for mugs, t-shirts, and other novelties emblazoned with the image have proliferated across online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay. Trump's own campaign is selling beverage coolers, t-shirts, and posters plastered with the image, and the tagline: Never Surrender!While some sellers say they're making political statements through the items they're selling, others suggest their focus is capitalizing on an unprecedented moment in the news cycle — and American history.  Take a closer look at the gold mine of merchandise that's been put up for sale in the days since the mugshot was released.  Shortly after Trump's mugshot was released, the former president's own campaign began sending out emails asking for donations of $47.The Trump campaign began sending out emails on Thursday evening, soon after Trump's photo was released, soliciting donations in exchange for a mugshot t-shirt.Screenshot from Official Trump StoreIn exchange, donors were told they'd receive a t-shirt with Trump's mugshot and the phrase "Never Surrender!" (The former president surrendered to authorities Thursday.)The Trump campaign seemed pretty enthusiastic about capitalizing on Trump's mugshot even before it was released on Thursday. Back in April, when Trump was hit with an indictment from the Manhattan DA's office, the Trump campaign began pedaling merchandise with a fake mugshot of the former president.Now, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee — the leadership PAC and that also funds his 2024 campaign — has an online storefront selling merchandise with Trump's mugshot.Mugs with Trump's mugshot are being sold for $25 on Save America Joint Fundraising Committee's website.Screenshot from Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.Items on the site include $25 mugs, $34 t-shirts, a pair of beverage coolers for $16, and a set of two vinyl bumper stickers for $12. On Thursday night, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. advertised a "Free Trump Collection" on X with 26 items including $45 hoodies, $30 t-shirts, and even a $28 flag with Trump's mugshot. He added that the profits would go towards his father's legal defense fund.A 3' by 5' flag with Trump's mugshot listed on Shop Don Jr. for $28.Screenshot from Shop Don Jr.—Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 25, 2023 "Free Trump Merch! To be clear all profits from this on my Web Store are going to be donated to the Legal Defense Fund to fight the tyranny & insanity we're seeing before us. Unlike many, I won't try to profit from this but will do what I can to help," he wrote on X. On sites like Etsy, there are scores of coffee mugs with Trump's mugshot. This 15 oz. mug with Trump's booking number is listed for around $17.A $17 dollar mug on Etsy with Trump's mugshot at booking number.Screenshot from Etsy.comMark Romano — who sells the mug under an Etsy shop he recently opened called TerriblyGoodGifts — told Insider through a message on Etsy's site that he listed the mug on Friday, and has already sold several dozen. Romano said his goal was to come up with a design that captured the historic nature of the event and put it in the right perspective. He added that had been thinking of a design even in the days leading up to Trump surrendering to authorities in Fulton County. "This is not something to be proud of, which is how I knew Trump would spin it. This is serious," he wrote. "That is why I left his name off my design and instead used his assigned inmate number underneath the words "Fulton County Jail."He added, "If I am seeking to make any statement, it is that Donald Trump is finally being treated like anyone else would be treated, as he should be. Justice in America should be blind. The powerful should get no special privilege."This ceramic, 11 oz. mug inscribed with a litany of Trump's indictments is listed for $15 on Etsy.A $15 dollar mug with Trump's mugshot and list of indictments from FearlessFindsGifts on Etsy.Laura BrownLaura Brown, who runs an Etsy shop called FearlessFindsGifts, told Insider through a message on Etsy that she's sold around 100 mugs since she listed the item on Thursday. She said that the mugs have helped her turn a profit for the first time since she launched her store in May. Brown, who came up with the design herself, also said, "I knew the mugshot was going to enter the zeitgeist and I wanted to create something that kept a focus on the myriad of crimes that were committed. This way, every time you look at the mug, you might see another thing he's been charged with and think about how serious these charges really are."She added, "The mugshot has fallen through the cultural looking glass awfully quick, and I think it's really important that Americans don't allow Trump to monetize his mugshot as a way to distract us from the things he's been accused of." T-shirts are one of the most popular canvases for Trump's mugshot on online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy.This t-shirt is listed for around $23 on eBay.Screenshot from eBay.comThis t-shirt is listed for around $23 on eBay, and approximately 31 have been sold in the past 24 hours, according to eBay's estimates.Multiple sellers across eBay and Etsy told Insider that they initially listed t-shirts soon after Trump's mugshot was released. Once they realized how much traction the t-shirts were getting they said they began listing other merchandise.  Another apparel trend is mashup of Trump's mugshot with the merch designs for Taylor Swift's ongoing Eras Tour.Apparel featuring a mashup of Trump's mugshot and design from Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has been popular on sites like Etsy.GigiThis sweatshirt in which Trump and his conspirators are transposed onto the color-blocked grid touted by the Eras Tour is listed for close to $20 by shirtsyouwantco on Etsy. It's also one of many similar items listed by the Etsy store. Gigi Jackson, the seller who runs shirtsyouwantco told Insider through a message on Etsy that "as a real Swiftie ( a Taylor Swift Fan) i got inspired by her Era Tour Design and immediately started designing and creating my design and started printing it on shirts and sweatshirts and tote bags."The Lincoln Project, a political action committee geared towards preventing the re-election of Donald Trump, is selling a shot glass with his mugshot for $15.The Lincoln Project — a PAC working to prevent the re-election of Trump — is selling a shot glass with his mugshot for $15 on its site.The Lincoln ProjectOn the Lincoln Project's website the listing for the shot glass notes, "Here's to f**king around and finding out, Donald. Celebrate Trump's newest criminal indictment with your very own mug-shot. Cheers! *Reusable with any future indictments*." In an email to Insider, a spokesperson for The Lincoln Project wrote, "The merchandise allows Americans to express how angry and fed up they are with Trump and his MAGA cohorts. Our supporters are hopeful that Trump may finally be held accountable for his crimes while trying to overthrow the election."The spokesperson added, "the money we raise is turned around and goes right back into our our work to prevent Trump and other MAGA candidates from winning in 2024." This neoprene laptop case is now on sale for around $17 on Etsy.This laptop case is one of several items with Trump's mugshot sold by the Etsy store KismetWorkshop.Screenshot from Etsy.comIt's one among several items with Trump's mugshot including t-shirts, mouse pads, cotton totes, and baby onesies that's been listed by the Etsy store, KismetWorkshop. Joseph Bodur — the UK-based seller who runs KismetWorkshop — told Insider in a message through Etsy that he's sold 63 items with Trump's mugshot over the past couple of days and earned a little more than $1,120."My store usually sells nothing like this," he said, explaining that he initially posted the t-shirts as a joke. When he realized people were actually buying them he began printing Trump's mugshot on other items. And if you're wondering about the lemons, he explained, "with regards to the design, i wanted to highlight how bitter Trump seems in the photo, hence i added a few lemons to the advert. There is also a idiom in the UK, 'he has face like he's sucking on a lemon'."Other novelties include an 18 inch by 18 inch accent pillow that was originally listed for almost $33, and is now on sale for around $26 on Etsy.This accent pillow with Trump's mugshot is on sale for around $26 on Etsy.Mark DavidThe seller who operates the Etsy store, CoolStuff8691, told Insider by email that he listed the pillow on Friday, and has sold four so far. He added, "I love the global shopping spree that immediately follows viral moments in the news and online. I knew those would sell!You can also buy a roll of toilet paper printed with Trump's mugshot for $22.50 on Etsy.These toilet paper rolls are listed for $22.50 on Etsy. Mariane Maynard, who sells them through her store MamasAHotMess, said she's sold about 30 so far.Mariane MaynardIn a message to Insider on Etsy, Mariane Maynard said she listed the toilet paper rolls on her Etsy store, MamasAHotMess, on Thursday night soon after the mugshot was released. Since then, she said she's received around 30 orders and is expecting several more to come in throughout the weekend. "That's all I'm doing this weekend is printing Trump toilet paper LOL," she told Insider in a message on Etsy. She added, "I've been waiting a long time for this mugshot. I knew it would be a hit with people. Hopefully it gives people some laughs during this crazy period of politics."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 27th, 2023

Stockman: How The US Empire-First Policy Led To A Quagmire Of Forever Wars...

Stockman: How The US Empire-First Policy Led To A Quagmire Of Forever Wars... Authored by David Stockman via Doug Casey's International Man, When the Cold War officially ended suddenly in 1991 Washington had one more chance to pivot back to the pre-1914 status quo ante. That is, to a national security policy of Fortress America because there was literally no significant military threat left on the planet. Post-Soviet Russia was an economic basket case that couldn’t even meet its military payroll and was melting down and selling the Red Army’s tanks and artillery for scrap. China was just emerging from the Great Helmsman’s economic, political and cultural depredations and had embraced Deng Xiaoping proclamation that “to get rich is glorious”. The implications of the Red Army’s fiscal demise and China’s electing the path of export mercantilism and Red Capitalism were profound. Russia couldn’t invade the American homeland in a million years and China chose the route of flooding America with shoes, sheets, shirts, toys and electronics. So doing, it made the rule of the communist elites in Beijing dependent upon keeping the custom of 4,000 Walmarts in America, not bombing them out of existence. In a word, god’s original gift to America—the great moats of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—could have again become the cornerstone of its national security. After 1991, therefore, there was no nation on the planet that had the remotest capability to mount a conventional military assault on the U.S. homeland; or that would not have bankrupted itself attempting to create the requisite air and sea-based power projection capabilities—a resource drain that would be vastly larger than even the $900 billion the US currently spends on its own global armada. Indeed, in the post-cold war world the only thing the US needed was a modest conventional capacity to defend the shorelines and North American airspace against any possible rogue assault and a reliable nuclear deterrent against any state foolish enough to attempt nuclear blackmail. Needless to say, those capacities had already been bought and paid for during the cold war. The triad of minutemen ICBMs, Trident SLBMs (submarines launched nuclear missiles) and long-range stealth bombers currently cost $52 billion annually for operations and maintenance, replacements and upgrades and were more than adequate for the task of nuclear deterrence. Likewise, conventional defense of the U.S. shoreline and airspace against rogues would not require a fraction of today’s 1.3 million active uniformed force—to say nothing of the 800,000 additional reserves and national guard forces and the 765,000 DOD civilians on top of that. Rather than funding 2.9 million personnel, the whole job of national security under a homeland-based Fortress America concept could be done with less than 500,000 military and civilian payrollers. At most. In fact, much of the 475,000 US army could be eliminated and most of the Navy’s carrier strike groups and power projection capabilities could be mothballed. So, too, the Air Force’s homeland defense missions could be accomplished for well less than $100 billion per annum compared to its current $200 billion budget. Overall, the constant dollar national defense budget was $660 billion (2022 $) when the cold war ended and the Soviet Union subsequently disappeared from the face of the earth in 1991. Had Washington pivoted to a Fortress America national security policy at the time, defense spending could have been downsized to perhaps $500 billion per year (2022 $) or potentially far less. Instead, Imperial Washington went in the opposite direction and ended up embracing a de facto policy of Empire First. The latter will cost $900 billion during the current year and is heading for $1.2 trillion billion annually a few years down the road. Empire First—-The Reason For An Extra Half Trillion For Defense In a word, Empire First easily consumes one-half trillion dollars more in annual budgetary resources than would a Fortress America policy. And that giant barrel of weapons contracts, consulting and support jobs, lobbying booty and Congressional pork explains everything you need to know about why the Swamp is so deep and intractable. Obviously, it’s also why Imperial Washington has appointed itself global policeman. Functioning as the gendarme of the planet is the only possible justification for the extra $500 billion per year cost of Empire First. For example, why does the US still deploy 100,000 US forces and their dependents in Japan and Okinawa and 29,000 in South Korea? These two counties have a combined GDP of nearly $7 trillion—or 235X more than North Korea and they are light-years ahead of the latter in technology and military capability. Also, they don’t go around the world engaging in regime change, thereby spooking fear on the north side of the DMZ. Accordingly, Japan and South Korea could more than provide for their own national security in a manner they see fit without any help whatsoever from Imperial Washington. That’s especially the case because absent the massive US military threat in the region, North Korea would surely seek a rapprochement and economic help from its neighbors including China. Indeed, sixty-five years after the unnecessary war in Korea ended, there is only one reason why the Kim family is still in power in Pyongyang and why periodically they have noisily brandished their incipient nuclear weapons and missiles. To wit, it’s because the Empire still occupies the Korean peninsula and surrounds its waters with more lethal firepower than was brought to bear against the industrial might of Nazi Germany during the whole of WWII. Of course, these massive and costly forces are also justified on the grounds of supporting Washington’s committements to the defense of Taiwan. But that commitment has always been obsolete and unnecessary to America’s homeland security. The fact is, Chiang Kia-Shek lost the Chinese civil war fair and square in 1949, and there was no reason to perpetuate his rag-tag regime when it retreated to the last square miles of Chinese territory—the island province of Taiwan. The latter had been under control of the Chinese Qing Dynasty for 200 years thru 1895, when it was occupied by the Imperial Japan for 50 years, only to be liberated by Chinese patriots at the end of WWII. That is to say, once Imperial Japan was expelled from the island the Chinese did not “invade” or occupy or takeover their own country. For crying out loud, Taiwan had been Han for centuries and for better or worse, the communists were now the rulers of China. Accordingly, Taiwan is separated from the mainland today only because Washington arbitrarily made it a protectorate and ally when the loser of the civil war set up shop in a small remnant of modern China, thereby establishing an artificial nation that, again, had no bearing whatsoever on America’s homeland security. In any event, the nascent US War Party of the late 1940s decreed otherwise, generating 70 years of tension with the Beijing regime that accomplished nothing except to bolster the case for a big Navy and for maintaining vast policing operations in the Pacific region for no good reason of homeland defense. That is to say, without Washington’s support for the nationalist regime in Taipei, the island would have been absorbed back into the Chinese polity where it had been for centuries. It would probably now resemble the booming prosperity of Shanghai—-something Wall Street and mainstream US politicians celebrated for years. Moreover, it’s still not too late. Absent Washington’s arms and threats, the Taiwanese would surely prefer peaceful prosperity as the 24th province of China rather than a catastrophic war against Beijing that they would have no hope of surviving. By the same token, the alternative—US military intervention to aid Taiwan—would mean WWIII. So what’s the point of Washington’s dangerous policy of “strategic ambiguity” when the long-term outcome is utterly inevitable? In short, the only sensible policy is for Washington to recant 70-years of folly brought on by the China Lobby and arms manufacturers and green-light a Taiwanese reconciliation with the mainland. Even a few years thereafter Wall Street bankers peddling M&A deals in Taipei wouldn’t know the difference from Shanghai. And speaking of foolishly frozen history, it is now 78 years since Hitler perished in his bunker. So why does Washington still have 50,000 troops and their dependents stationed in Germany? Certainly by it own actions Germany does not claim to be militarily imperiled. It’s modest $55 billion defense budget amounts to only 1.3% of GDP, hardly an indication that it fears Russian forces will soon be at the Brandenburg Gate. Indeed, until Washington conned the Scholz government into joining its idiotic sanctions war against Russia, Germany saw Russia as a vital market for its exports and as a source of supply for natural gas, other natural resources and food stuffs. Besides, with a GDP of $4.2 trillion or more than double Russia’s $2.1 trillion GDP, Germany could more than handle its own defenses if Moscow should ever become foolish enough to threaten it. From there you get to the even more preposterous case for the Empire’s NATO outposts in eastern Europe. But the history books are absolutely clear that in 1989 George H. W. Bush and his Secretary of State, James Baker, promised Gorbachev that NATO would not be expanded to the east by a “single inch” in return for his acquiescence to German unification. The Obsolete Folly Of NATO’s Article 5 Mutual Defense Obligations At the time, NATO had 16 member nations bound by the Article 5 obligation of mutual defense, but when the Soviet Union and the Red Army vanished, there was nothing left to defend against. NATO should have declared victory and dissolved itself. The ex-paratrooper then in the White House, in fact, could have landed at the Ramstein Air Base and announced “mission accomplished!” Instead, NATO has become a political jackhammer and weapons sales agent for Empire First policies by expanding to 30 nations—many of them on Russia’s doorstep. Yet if your perception is not distorted by Washington’s self-justifying imperial beer-goggles, the question is obvious. Exactly what is gained for the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Springfield MA by obtaining the defense services of the pint-sized militaries of Latvia (6,000), Croatia (14,500), Estonia (6,400), Slovenia (7,300) or Montenegro (1,950)? Indeed, the whole post-1991 NATO expansion is so preposterous as a matter of national security that its true function as a fig-leaf for Empire First fairly screams out-loud. Not one of these pint-sized nations would matter for US security if they decided to have a cozier relationship with Russia—voluntarily or not so voluntarily. But the point is, there is no threat to America in eastern Europe unless such as Montenegro, Slovenia, or Latvia were to become Putin’s invasion route to effect the Russian occupation of Germany, France, the Benelux and England. And that’s just plain silly-ass crazy! Yet aside from that utterly far-fetched and economically and militarily impossible scenario, there is no reason whatsoever for the US to be in a mutual defense pact with any of the new, and, for that matter, old NATO members. And that gets us to the patently bogus proxy war on Russia in which the nation of Ukraine is being turned into a demolition derby and its population of both young and older men is being frog-marched into the Russian meat-grinder. But as we have documented elsewhere this is a civil war in an artificial nation confected by history’s greatest tyrants—Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev, too. It was never built to last, and most definitely didn’t after the Washington sponsored, funded and instantly recognized Maidan coup of February 2014 deposed its legitimately elected pro-Russian president. Thereafter, Russia’s actions in recovering its former province of Crimea in March 2014 and coming to the aid of the break-away Russian-speaking republics of the Donbas (eastern Ukraine) in February 2022 did not threaten the security of the American homeland or the peace of the world. Not one bit. The post-February 2014 conflict in Ukraine is a “territorial”, ethnic and religious dispute over deep differences between Russian-speakers in the east and south of the country and Ukrainian nationalists from the center and west that are rooted in centuries of history. The resulting carnage, as tragic as it has been, does not prove in the slightest that Russia is an aggressive expansionist that must be thwarted by the Indispensable Nation. To the contrary, Washington’s imperial beer goggles are utterly blind to history and geopolitical logic. In the first place, the history books make abundantly clear that Sevastopol in Crimea had been the home-port of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike. Crimea had been purchased from the Ottoman’s for good money by Catherine the Great in 1783 and was the site of one of Russia greatest patriotic events—-the defeat of the English invaders in 1854 made famous by Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade. After 171 years as an integral part of the Russian Motherland and having become more than 80% Russian-speaking, Crimea only technically became part of Ukraine during a Khrushchev inspired shuffle in 1954. And even then, the only reason for this late communist era territorial transfer was to reward Khrushchev’s allies in Kiev for supporting him in the bloody struggle for power after Stalin’s death. The fact is, only 10% of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking. It was the coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base, for which it still had a lease running to the 2040s. In the Moscow sponsored referendum that occurred shortly thereafter, 83% of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97% of those approved cancelling the aforementioned 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium and rejoining mother Russia. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80% of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow. Indeed, what they actually feared—both in Crimea and in the Donbas where the breakaway Republics were also soon declared—was the anti-Russian edicts coming out of Kiev in the aftermath of the Washington orchestrated overthrow of the legally elected government. After all, the good folks of what the historical maps designated as Novorussiya (New Russia) populated what had been the industrial breadbasket of the former Soviet Union. The Donbas and the southern rim on the Black Sea had always been an integral part of Russia’s iron, steel, chemical, coal and munitions industries, having been settled, developed and invested by Russians under Czars from Catherine the Great forwards. And in Soviet times many of their grandparents had been put there by Stalin from elsewhere in Russia to reinforce his bloody rule. By the same token, these Russian settlers and transplants in Novorussiya forever hated the Ukrainian nationalist collaborators from the west, who rampaged though their towns, farms, factories and homes side-by-side with Hitler’s Wehrmacht on the way to Stalingrad. So the appalling truth of the matter was this: By Washington’s edict the grandsons and granddaughters of Stalin’s industrial army in the Donbas were to be ruled by the grandsons and granddaughters of Hitler’s WWII collaborators in Kiev, whether they liked it or not. Alas, that repudiation of history could not stand. So we repeat and for good reason: You simply can’t make up $500 billion worth of phony reasons for an Empire First national security policy without going off the deep-end. You have to invent missions, mandates and threats that are just plain stupid (like the proxy war against Russia in the Ukraine) or flat out lies (like Saddam’s alleged WMDs). Indeed, you must invent, nourish and enforce an entire universal narrative based on completely implausible and invalid propositions, such as the “Indispensable Nation” meme and the claim that global peace and stability depend overwhelmingly on Washington’s leadership. Yet, is there not a more cruel joke than that? Was the Washington inflicted carnage and genocide in Vietnam—which resulted in the death of upwards of one million—- a case of “American leadership” and making the world more peaceful or stable? And after losing this costly, bloody, insensible war to the communists in 1975, how is it that what is still communist Vietnam has become the go-to place to source low-cost manufactured goods needed by tens of thousands of Amazon’s delivery trucks and mass market retail emporiums operating from coast-to-coast in America today? Likewise, did the two wars against Iraq accomplish anything except destroy the tenuous peace between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurds, thereby opening up the gates of hell and the bloody rampages of ISIS? Did the billions Washington illegally channeled into the rebel and jihadist forces in Syria do anything except destroy the country, create millions of refugees and encourage the Assad regime to engage in tit-for-tat brutalities, as well as call-in aid from its Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah allies? Did not the destruction of Qaddafi’s government by American bombers turn Libya into a hell-hole of war-lord based civil war and human abuse and even enslavement? In a word, Imperial Washington’s over-arching narratives and the instances of its specific interventions alike rest on a threadbare and implausible foundation; and more often than not, they consist of arrogant fabrications and claims that are an insult to the intelligence of anyone paying even loose attention to the facts. In this context, there is only one way to meaningfully move the needle on both Washington’s hegemonic foreign policy and its giant flow of red budgetary ink. To wit, the American military empire needs be dismantled lock, stock and barrel. Fortunately, a return to the idea of Fortress America and what we have called the Eisenhower Defense Minimum can accomplish exactly that. When president Eisenhower gave his prescient warning about the military-industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address, the US defense budget stood at $52 billion and it totaled $64 billion when you add in the collateral elements of national security that round out the full fiscal cost of empire. These include the State Department, AID, security assistance, NED, international broadcasting propaganda operations and related items, as well as the deferred cost of military operations reflected in Veterans Administration costs for compensation, health care and other services. By the end of the cold war in 1991 this comprehensive national security budget had risen to $340 billion, but was not to be denied by the mere fact that the Soviet Union disappeared into the dustbin of history that year. The neocons soon infiltrated both parties and owing to their Forever Wars and hegemony-seeking policies the total had soared to $822 billion by the end of the Obama “peace” candidate’s presidency in 2016. Yet the uniparty was just getting warmed-up. After being goosed big time by both Trump and Biden, the current estimate for FY 2024 stands at a staggering $1.304 trillion. That is to say, the comprehensive cost of empire now stands at a level 20X higher than what the great peace-oriented general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, believed was adequate to contain the threat posed by the old Soviet Union at the peak of its industrial and military power in 1960. Yes, 64 years on from Ike’s farewell address there has been a whole lot of inflation, which is embedded in the slightly different NIPA basis for the defense numbers in the chart below. But even when adjusted to the current price level, the defense budget proper stood at just $440 billion in 1960 compared to $900 billion today; and the comprehensive national security budget totaled just $590 billion or only 45% of today’s $1.304 trillion. National Defense Spending, NIPA Basis 1960 to 2022 As we indicated earlier, the Eisenhower Defense Minimum, rounded to $500 billion in today’s purchasing power, is far more than adequate in a world where America’s homeland security is not threatened by a technological and industrial superpower having even remote parity with the United States and its NATO allies. The combined $45 trillion GDP of the latter is 20X larger than that of Russia and nearly 3X that of China, which is itself a debt-entombed house of cards that would not last a year without its $3.5 trillion of exports to the west. Stated differently, the old Soviet Union was autarkic but internally brittle and grotesquely inefficient and unsustainable. Red China, by contrast, is far more efficient industrially, but also has $50 trillion of internal and external debts and a thoroughly mercantilist economic model that makes it is utterly dependent on western markets. So its strategic vulnerability is no less conclusive. At the end of the day, neither Russia nor China have the economic capacity—say $50 trillion of GDP—-or motivation to attack the American homeland with conventional military means. The vast invasionary armada of land and air forces, air and sealift capacity and massive logistics supply pipelines that would be needed to bridge the two ocean moats is virtually beyond rational imagination. So what ultimately keeps America safe is its nuclear deterrent. As long as that is in tact and effective, there is no conceivable form of nuclear blackmail that could be used to jeopardize the security and liberty of the homeland. Yet according to CBO’s latest study the current annual cost of the strategic deterrent, as we indicated above, is just $52 billion. This includes $13 billion for the ballistic missile submarine force, $7 billion for the land-based ICBMs and $6 billion for the strategic bomber force. On top of that there is also $13 billion to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpiles, infrastructure and supporting services and $11 billion for strategic nuclear command and control, communications and early warnings systems. In all, and after allowing for normal inflation and weapons development costs, CBOs 10-year estimate for the strategic nuclear deterrent is just $756 billion. That happens to be only 7.0% of the $10 trillion baseline for the 10-year cost of today’s “Empire First” defense budget and only 5.0% of the $15 trillion national security baseline when you include international operations and veterans. A return to the Eisenhower Minimum of $500 billion per year for defense proper over the next decade would thus save in excess of $4 trillion over the period. And these cuts would surely be readily extractable from the $9 trillion CBO baseline for defense spending excluding the strategic forces. As we indicated above, for instance, there would be no need for 11 carrier battle groups including their air-wings, escort and support ships and supporting infrastructure under a Fortress America policy. Those forces are sitting ducks in this day and age anyway, but are only necessary for force projection abroad and wars of invasion and occupation. The American coastline and interior, by contrast, can be protected by land-based air. Yet according to another CBO study the 10-year baseline cost for the Navy’s 11 carrier battle groups will approach $1 trillion alone. Likewise, the land forces of the US Army will cost $2 trillion and that’s again mainly for the purpose of force projection abroad. As Senator Taft and his original Fortress America supporters long ago recognized, overwhelming air superiority over the North American continent is what is actually necessary for homeland security. But even that would require only a small part of the current $1.5 trillion 10-year cost of US Air Force operations, which are heavily driven by global force projection capacities. At the end of the day a $4 trillion reduction in national security spending over the next decade is more than feasible and long overdue. It only requires tossing the Indispensable Nation myth into the dustbin of history where it has belonged all along. Editor’s Note: The amount of money the US government spends on foreign aid, wars, the so-called intelligence community, and other aspects of foreign policy is enormous and ever-growing. It’s an established trend in motion that is accelerating, and now approaching a breaking point. It could cause the most significant disaster since the 1930s. Most people won’t be prepared for what’s coming. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video with all the details. Click here to watch it now. Tyler Durden Sun, 08/27/2023 - 16:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 27th, 2023