Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever. The frenzy is growing!

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  1. says

    Pentagon now confirming: ‘U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions at approximately 9 p.m. local Oct. 11. The explosion occurred….in an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present…'”

    @DeptofDefense: ‘All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries. U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani. The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria…'”

    This is the Pentagon not being silent. They need to do more, now. Anything less is putting US soldiers in more jeopardy.

  2. says

    Trump tweeted:

    “Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector….

    ….Congratulations Kevin, on a job well done! I will be announcing the new Acting Secretary next week. Many wonderful candidates!”

    Go public, McAleenan. NOW.

  3. tomh says

    It’s hard to believe that Trump can keep finding worse people, but I have no doubt he will.

    Trump says he’s replacing McAleenan as acting DHS secretary
    Oct. 11, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. PDT

    President Trump said late Friday that he was replacing Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, after a tenure where McAleenan lowered border crossings but clashed with other senior immigration officials and struggled to earn the trust of the president.

    “Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump said of his top immigration official.

    McAleenan had been frustrated with a cadre of Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles and recently told The Washington Post that he was struggling to control his department. More hardline figures have attacked him as insufficiently committed to the president immigration agenda, while critics of those policies argue he has used conciliatory rhetoric to lend cover to harsh measures.

    Trump in turn had questioned whether McAleenan was loyal to him.

    A person close to McAleenan said he resigned on Friday after weeks of growing disenchantment with his standing in the administration. He was never formally nominated for the job.

    “What I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time,” McAleenan said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure.”

    His tenure at DHS was marked by the implementation of several contentious border policies that have significantly tightened access to the U.S. asylum system—policies he has defended as necessary to “restore integrity” to a U.S. immigration system swamped with a backlog of nearly one million pending cases.

    McAleenan has been more isolated in recent weeks after the departure of several top aides and close allies in recent months. His relationship to other senior figures has also been strained, especially Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, and Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    McAleenan’s exit leaves the barebones leadership structure at DHS even thinner. Every major immigration agency is run by leaders in acting roles, which the president said he prefers.

    DHS was created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and previous U.S. presidents have placed a high priority on having a Senate-confirmed leader running the department, which has 240,000 employees and a $50 billion annual budget.

    Trump, who has said he prefers leaving top officials in “acting” roles in order to make it easier to remove them, left McAleenan in the job without a nomination for six months, longer than any other previous DHS chief.

    DHS acting deputy secretary, David Pekoske, is next in line to succeed McAleenan. Pekoske, who is also the top official at the Transportation Security Administration, is the only other senior DHS leader who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

    Unlike McAleenan, Pekoske does not have a background in immigration enforcement, and he has told others he would like to return to his job running TSA full-time.

    McAleenan’s departure opens the possibility the president will seek to install a more hard-line figure at the top of DHS for his re-election campaign. In his tweet Friday, Trump said he would name a new acting secretary next week.

    Trump installed McAleenan, 48, at the head of DHS after removing then-secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, saying he wanted someone “tougher” in the role, and told aides that McAleenan had the look he was going for, with the trim, stern demeanor of a federal agent.

    Trump was willing to look past the warnings of border hawks who told him McAleenan was an “Obama guy” raised in California who had a record of donating to Democrats.

    Trump said in July that he was preparing to place former ICE director Tom Homan in the role of a White House “border czar.” Homan did not accept the position, but several administration officials have speculated that the president will establish such a role at The White House to coordinate among federal agencies responsible for immigration and border enforcement.

    Asked last month why Trump had not nominated McAleenan for the DHS job despite praising his performance, White House officials declined to comment.

    “Secretary McAleenan is doing a fantastic job implementing the president’s plan to secure the southern border, build the wall, halt illegal immigration and stop the dangerous practice of catch-and-release,” said Hogan Gidley, the deputy White House press secretary, in a statement to The Washington Post at the time.

    His departure opens a place for the president to install a more hardline figure at the top of department, something supporters have urged.

    McAleenan’s exit ends a nearly 20-year career in federal law enforcement. He was recruited to join CBP after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, creating and running the agency’s anti-terrorism office. At 35, he was port director in charge of security for LAX and 17 other airports in southern California.

  4. says

    Guardian – “The Instagram influencers hired to rehabilitate Saudi Arabia’s image”:

    A year on from the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is using social media influencers, including some Australians, to repair its damaged image.

    On Instagram, blonde, blue-eyed women wearing abayas in the dusty landscape beckon millions of followers to rethink their perception of Saudi Arabia.

    The country has employed the public relations company Gateway KSA, of which Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud is an executive member, as one method of bringing social media personalities to the country on all-expenses paid, supervised trips.

    Influencers are chauffeured around in helicopters, taken scuba diving in the Red Sea, put up in lofty hotels and driven out to an ancient, unfinished tomb in the Al Ula desert, and have all published resoundingly positive posts.

    The highly curated social media posts avoid any mention of human rights abuses, such as beheadings and crucifixions, women fleeing the country because of domestic violence, or Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen, which the UN says is causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    Dr Raihan Ismail, an associate lecturer at the centre for Arab and Islamic studies at the Australian Nationality University, says Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars to reform its image in the west.

    “The Saudi government is investing so much in trying to reconstruct its image, particularly after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey,” she says. “I think that’s when people started to realise that we’re dealing with an authoritarian regime. We’re dealing with a state that is so repressive.”

    Influencers travelling under a state-sponsored program are not getting the full picture, Ismail says.

    “If someone goes to Saudi Arabia and sees all the changes that are taking place in Saudi Arabia and how some Saudis particularly younger Saudis are enjoying themselves, of course they’re going to say that ‘this is great the Saudi state is changing its liberalising’. But on the other hand, we’re dealing with a very repressive state.’”

    She also cautions that those working on the regime’s image need to consider the ethical dimensions of doing so.

    “Sometimes you have to pick a stand. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. If you see the country violating human rights. Do you turn a blind eye or do you take a stand?”

    She points to recent cases, including Nicki Minaj, who pulled out a concert in Saudi Arabia to show support for women and LGBTI people.

    Guardian Australia contacted almost 50 influencers who appeared to have accepted sponsored trips or been paid for advertisements. Two of them who were posting photos of Saudi Arabia to five Instagram accounts with a combined 4.65m followers cancelled five minutes before an arranged interview. They say the Saudi tourism board sent a group message asking influencers not to speak to media.

    A few weeks ago the absolute monarchy announced it was introducing a tourist visa, open to 49 nationalities, including Australians. It also pledged it would allow unmarried foreign men and women to share hotel rooms. Previously the kingdom had been off limits for most tourists.

    The influencers were enlisted in the lead-up to the announcement to soften the country’s image and gloss over human rights abuses.

    There is a long list of rules for visitors to observe, including dressing modestly, not showing public affection, and not drinking alcohol. It is also illegal to display sympathy towards Qatar, practise homosexual acts, practise a religion other than Islam, or make comments online that ridicule or criticise religion, the Saudi royal family, Saudi Arabia or its leadership.

    Under crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has attempted to reform its ultra-conservative reputation and plans to diversify the nation’s economy through sectors such as tourism, reducing Saudi Arabia’s economic dependence on oil exports.

    Rapid development has seen high-end resorts popping up across the Red Sea across 50 islands and 34,000 sq km.

    The past few years have seen gradual improvements in women’s rights….

    But while influencers talk of a nation opening up to the world, six women who spearheaded the campaign to allow women to drive remain in prison without charge.

    One of them is a Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, who alleges she was tortured after being abducted and forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia while studying for a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia….

    “Influencer” posts at the link. “‘I know enough that I do know that obviously with a country that has hundreds of thousands of years of history and culture to it that it’s not something that is going to happen overnight’, Stewart says.” Saudi Arabia was formed in 1932.

  5. says

    Amazing. Rudy’s argument is that he can’t be guilty of acting on behalf of a foreign government official because he was acting on behalf of the president of the United States, who happened to have the same agenda.”

  6. tomh says

    Oops, SC, I didn’t see you already posted about McAleenan, somehow I was stuck on the last thread.

  7. tomh says

    @ #15
    And here I thought you were concerned for our host, but it turns out it’s my ethics you have a problem with. OK, that’s cleared up.

  8. John Morales says

    Well, tomh, it ain’t you who is hosting pirated content, is it?

    So, is it “the end justifies the means”, is it “information wants to be free”, or is it just the 11th commandment? ;)

  9. says

    Thoughts on Morality, from Cover-up General Bill Barr:

    “AG Barr blames drug overdoses on secular society”:

    Attorney General William Barr blamed secularism in society for a series of problems such as drug overdoses, violence and poor mental health while speaking at Notre Dame’s law school.

    Barr, in a speech largely focused on the role of religion in law, decried what he described as an effort to drive religion away while promoting secularism.

    “We see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism,” he said. “Basically every measure of this social pathology continues to gain ground.”

    He described several social issues as “consequences of this moral upheaval.”

    “Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.

    “Over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses,” he added. “But I won’t dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age.”

    Barr also slammed “so-called progressives,” saying that many are “among the militant secularists.”…

  10. says


    The most prominent of what came in the #SDF press conference:
    – Our allies stabbed us in the back and withdrew their forces from the border area and allowed Turkey to invade northern and eastern Syria.

    – Turkey is pushing Syrians to fight each other.

    – Today we are fighting on two fronts, one against the Turkish invasion and one against the ISIS mercenaries.

    – More than 200 dead and wounded since the beginning of the invasion.

    – We are aware of the international coalition for the safety of its soldiers and we did not ask and we will not ask to send coalition soldiers to defend our land. We only ask the for the no fly zone in front of Turkish aircrafts.

  11. tomh says

    Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work
    Prosecutors are investigating whether the president’s lawyer broke laws meant to prevent covert foreign influence on the government.

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

    The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

    The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

    Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

  12. says

    Trump tweeted:

    “So now they are after the legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer. Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”

    Cohen has to be laughing.

  13. says

    SDF – “Statement to the Public Opinion”:

    It is with great sorrow and sadness to receive the news of the martyrdom of the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf on the morning of October 12, 2019. She was taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish backed mercenary factions on the International Road between Qamishlo and Manbij, where her driver who was also martyred.

    This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians. Professor Hevrin Khalaf, was the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, a party with a political orientation towards Syria in general, is far from military agendas, equally approaches all Syrian parties since the past one and a half years to establish a pluralistic society that Syria lacked; it gives hope to all Syrians that the Future Syria Party is for a new, democratic, pluralistic and decentralized Syria.

    Hevrin Khalaf, Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, born in Derik 1984, graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in 2009 and had a prominent role in creating a comprehensive Syrian case that gives hope to all Syrians through her new party, amid the sectarian divisions that have ravaged Syria, and amid international and regional policies that plan for Syria in accordance with their interests, which made the Syrians lose hope for the future of a united and democratic Syria considering that chaos and crisis was spreading throughout the country.

    Leading figures appear during the times of crises and difficulties in order to find a solution and lead the ship amidst crashing waves towards safety. Martyr Hevrin represented that character who was responsible for facing all external, regional and internal challenges, promising the Syrian people a bright future, a future of coexistence and brotherhood of peoples rather than the ethnic and sectarian divisions that many regional actors and forces have worked on since the beginning of the crisis.

    By targeting the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party and a member of the Presidential Council of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC/MSD), it shows that those who rely on war and destruction, led by Turkey, are still determined in their aggressive criminal policies by spreading chaos in the region which was considered the most secure and stable area in Syria, leading to the revival of spirit in the body of terrorist organizations that was defeated as ISIS.

    We call on the international community, the United Nations and the European Union to hold the Turkish state and affiliated factions accountable for the brutal massacres in northern and eastern Syria as they did in Afrin. Targeting the Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, engineer Hevrin Khalaf, is another proof of their past criminal policy of committing massacres against unarmed civilians.

    We also pledge to martyr Hevrin Khalaf that we shall continuea her path to achieve the goals for which she fought for; a democratic, pluralistic, decentralized and united Syria.

    Syrian Democratic Council
    October 12, 2019

  14. says

    Pompeo tweeted:

    “Pleased John Sullivan has been nominated to serve as our Ambassador to #Russia. We’ve long sought a constructive relationship with Russia, and I’m confident John will effectively lead the effort to strengthen our cooperation.”

    “strengthen our cooperation”

    As Laura Rozen points out, Sullivan is “the deputy secretary of state who Amb. Yovanovitch said in testimony yesterday had told her she had done nothing wrong when she was yanked.”

  15. says


    It is time to put an end to the assumption that the Kurds are the only people that should really be dealing with ISIS remnants -ideology, captured militants, sleeper cells, IDP’s- no matter what they go through. ISIS is not a Syrian internal issue.

    We have been urging governments through all channels we have to take responsibility for their Daesh citizens held in NE Syria, the region that is witnessing an unfolding humanitarian crisis as I tweet.

    At this point we should not be supposed to keep guarding ISIS prisons and chasing sleeper cells with little to no means we have while at the same time a brutal offensive by a NATO country is underway to invade our cities.

    No, you should not expect us to take care of your terrorist citizens while you have no issues with seeing our children getting killed, our people displaced and our region getting ethnically cleansed.

    If the world seriously considers Daesh as a threat to their security, which I am 100% sure is not the case, there is a great opportunity to prove it. Otherwise we will face the consequences all together very soon. But this time there may not be someone to do the work for them.

  16. tomh says

    Trump renews claim that he is immune from criminal investigation in effort to block Manhattan DA probe

    President Trump on Friday repeated his assertion of sweeping executive immunity — arguing in court that, because he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere.

    Trump’s personal attorneys made the argument in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. They are seeking to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a suit the president filed seeking to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) from obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

    “The President is immune from criminal process while in office, and a grand-jury subpoena (a coercive order backed by the State’s threat of contempt) is certainly a form of ‘criminal process,” wrote Trump’s private legal team, led by William Consovoy.

    The subpoena in this case was not actually directed at Trump. Vance has subpoenaed the records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, as part of an investigation that appears targeted at possible falsification of business records related to a scheme to silence two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump.

    In his filing Friday, Trump returned to an argument that a lower-court judge had already rejected earlier this week. He argued that, as president, he is too important to be prosecuted while in office.
    Trump’s arguments already have been rejected once in this case.

    Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero dismissed Trump’s lawsuit, saying that Trump’s assertion of sweeping immunity was “repugnant” to constitutional values.

  17. says

    CNN – “Exclusive: Military leader of Syrian Kurds tells US ‘you are leaving us to be slaughtered'”:

    The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told a senior US diplomat, “You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” demanding to know whether the US is going to do anything to protect Syrian Kurds as Turkey continues its military operation targeting America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.

    “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi told the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, William Roebuck, in a meeting Thursday, according to an internal US government readout that has been obtained exclusively by CNN.
    “You are not willing to protect the people, but you do not want another force to come and protect us. You have sold us. This is immoral,” Mazloum added.

    He insisted the US either help stop the Turkish attack or allow the Syrian Democratic Forces to strike a deal with the Assad regime in Damascus and their Russian backers, allowing Russian warplanes to enforce a no-fly zone over northeast Syria, thereby denying Turkey the ability to carry out airstrikes. The US does not want the Kurds turning to the Russians, administration officials say.

    “I need to know if you are capable of protecting my people, of stopping these bombs falling on us or not. I need to know, because if you’re not, I need to make a deal with Russia and the regime now and invite their planes to protect this region,” Mazloum said.

    Mazloum told Roebuck Thursday that “I’ve been holding myself for two days from going to the press and saying that America abandoned us and that I would like you to get out of our areas now so that I can invite Russian and regime planes to take over this airspace. Either you stop this bombing on our people now or move aside so we can let in the Russians.”

    Roebuck told Mazloum “not to take any immediate decisions,” saying he would communicate the Kurdish leaders’ messages to the State Department, and saying the US was working to stop Turkey’s offensive and broker a ceasefire.

    Several US military and defense officials who have spoken to CNN expressed dismay over how the Trump administration has handled the situation.

    One US official said it is well known that some senior US military officials are livid at how the Kurds have been treated.

    A US official familiar with the situation in Syria tells CNN there is growing concern that Turkey’s operation in Syria has grown in ambition and that Ankara seeks to control an area stretching from the Iraq border all the way to areas in northwest Syria already under Turkish control — an area inhabited mostly by Kurds and other minorities. Turkish officials had previously communicated to the US that the scope of the operation was narrower, focusing in the area where the now defunct US-Turkish safe zone was to be located.

    The official said Friday’s artillery strikes near US troops around Kobani are evidence Turkey is operating beyond the areas it had indicated to the US.

  18. Kip Williams says

    The GOP is having a tough time deciding if their slogan is “Why Are You Hitting Yourself, America?” or “Look What You’re Making Us Do, America!”

  19. says

    From Kerry Eleveld:

    If you ever wondered what Donald Trump could possibly be doing all day besides seething in his jammies while gorging on cable news, now we know. He’s not just rage tweeting from America’s taxpayer-funded residence. He’s running an entire criminal enterprise of a scale beyond your wildest dreams straight out of the Oval Office.

    […] Democrats’ “narrow” impeachment inquiry into Trump’s extortion of Ukraine is already unfolding a little like a trip to the grocery store for just that one item when you’re famished. […]

    We should have known it would be like this. Every time the corruption surrounding Trump has become the center of a media storm over the past several years, the amount of willful misconduct and intentional obstruction has turned out to be staggering larger than anyone who isn’t a serial criminal can imagine.

    For instance, it wasn’t just that Trump’s campaign and transition had weird contacts with Russia, it was that it had more than a 100 contacts, Trump publicly solicited the Kremlin’s help, then hired the guy responsible for some of those contacts as his top national security adviser, asked his chief investigator to quit investigating that adviser, fired his top investigator, told the target of those investigations (Russia) how relieved he was and that he couldn’t care less about any of their election misdeeds, fired his acting attorney general, forced out his attorney general, and repeatedly attempted to end the investigation that blossomed out of his repeated efforts to end the original investigation. […]

    There’s multiple cabinet members—Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, William Barr, and Rick Perry—ensnared in either the perpetration or cover-up or both of said wrongdoing. [in Ukraine]. […] There’s Trump, on the White House lawn, publicly enlisting campaign help from China.

    And then there’s Turkey—what the hell is going on with Turkey?—with Trump pressuring former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to drop a case against Giuliani’s Turkish client, not to mention the mystery phone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that resulted in the presently unfolding Middle East mayhem. Really, where does it end? Russia, it always starts and ends with Russia. […]

    Much more at the link.

  20. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Trump is still doing his best to destroy everything good on his way down. That includes continuing his efforts to gift every square inch of public land to someone who dropped seven figures or more into one of his slush funds. […] that includes an ongoing scheme to turn the National Park system, also known as “America’s best idea,” into a series of greasy theme parks.

    On September 24, the Department of the Interior’s skull-achingly named “Subcommittee on Recreation Enhancement” (SORE) produced the latest missive in its plan to flood parks with the requisite number of four-wheelers, roller coasters, and pancake pantries. This particular plan would call for selling off the 130 campgrounds operated by the Park Service to private companies who would provide more “services.” […] They intend to start with the parks that are most pristine, most unspoiled, most like the genuine preserves of natural beauty they were created to be. Or, as SORE would have it, the parks “with low levels of visitor services.” Then, once they’ve demonstrated that people will pay for zip-lines and mini-golf in those locations, they’ll expand the program […]

    There’s no intention of stopping with just the National Parks. SORE will then export the program to other public lands, including national forests, wildlife areas, and just about anywhere the Bureau of Land Management roams. Only don’t expect those areas to be erecting Ferris wheels, because SORE has another idea for how to handle most public lands along with public campgrounds; Sell them. Sell them all. […]

    the SORE plan is that it wasn’t really written by the Department of the Interior. It was written for them. The real author of the memo, which is titled “campground modernization/expansion” is Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition. […] They represent the “motorized recreation industry” including makers of snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, and RVs, as well as amusement parks and food vendors. […]

    That’s exactly the message they’re pushing—there’s money to be made in trashing America’s most beautiful places. And it’s happening right now. […]

    Officially the people inside the Interior Department are saying that the ARC / SORE plan for selling off campgrounds and expanding “recreational activities” is still in its early stages and that there will be time for public comments ahead. But that’s not what the author of the memo is saying. ARC’s Crandall is claiming that the plan to sell off campgrounds is a done deal, that it has been “unanimously approved,” and that it will go to the new head of the National Park System, former corporate lobbyist David Bernhardt, next week. […]


    Next week.

  21. says

    From Mother Jones, some informed speculation:

    When the US attorney for the Southern District of New York charged two associates of Rudy Giuliani and two other men on Wednesday with campaign finance violations, the indictment contained a big mystery.

    Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman—who had been helping Giuliani search for dirt on Joe Biden and the Democrats in Ukraine—and David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, who were each identified as businessmen, were charged in what seems to be overlapping capers. Parnas and Fruman allegedly made secret donations to Republicans in an effort to advance their business interests and promote the agenda of one or more Ukrainian officials (which included firing the US ambassador to Ukraine).

    And these two Giuliani confederates also teamed up with Correia, a business partner of Parnas, and Kukushkin and allegedly made donations secretly financed by a Russian national to Republican candidates for state offices in Nevada to buy influence they could use to set up a cannabis business there. This Russian, who would be part of their legal marijuana venture, sent $1 million from overseas accounts to Fruman that was to be used for contributions to federal and state candidates in Nevada and other states, according to the indictment. It’s illegal for a foreigner to funnel donations to US candidates.

    The mystery: Who is this wealthy Russian who allegedly tried to make illegal contributions to US politicians in pursuit of launching a cannabis venture?

    The indictment does not say. It refers to this individual only as “Foreign National-1.” And the question cannot be yet answered definitively. But California state records and emails obtained by Mother Jones indicate that a Russian businessman named Andrey Muraviev had previously worked with Kukushkin to develop a cannabis enterprise. […]

    One cannabis business consultant in California tells Mother Jones that Kukushkin, while he was seeking investment opportunities in the cannabis field in California and Oregon, said he was representing “a large agricultural and materials businessman from Russia” and identified him as Andrey Muraviev. […]

    In 2012, an investment group filed a complaint with the Russian government contending that Muraviev and others had engaged in wrongdoing related to a development company that had gone bankrupt […]

    The indictment states that in early September 2018, Parnas, Fruman, Correia, Kukushkin, and the Russian national met in Las Vegas to discuss their business venture and that “shortly after that” the four Americans “began to formalize” their deal with the Russian to “fund their lobbying efforts.” But, it adds, they “took steps to hide” the Russian’s involvement in the venture and in any “political contributions associated” with the project. […]

  22. says

    Again? How much dysfunction do you have to have in the White House to make this mistake twice?

    The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s Friday House deposition, two sources with knowledge of the email told The Hill, the second time in a month the administration has sent its Ukraine talking points to Democrats. […]

    The email marks the second time the White House has unintentionally sent talking points to Democrats in recent weeks, after an administration official inadvertently emailed them suggested rhetoric defending the July 25 phone call. […]


  23. says

    From Wonkette:

    Elizabeth Warren had a kickass moment at Thursday’s CNN Equality Town Hall. She stood up for marriage equality and didn’t coddle bigots. The exchange quickly went viral because it’s AWESOME. So naturally, the dude punditry has arrived to mansplain why Warren exciting voters is a bad thing and will ensure Donald Trump wins a second term. […]

    On Mediaite, John Ziegler argues that Warren’s “mic drop” moment was actually “contemptuous” of people (i.e. “bigots”) who disagree with her that gay people have rights.

    Now, allow me to retort: “So what?” Republicans are openly contemptuous of liberals and routinely insult entire states like California and New York. Trump called Baltimore “disgusting,” and no one’s worried about this costing him the election. They apparently don’t even believe his actual crimes will affect his chances. No, Liz was mean to white men — most of whom will never vote her or any Democrat — and that’ll cost Democrats Florida and Pennsylvania […]

    The Post article [titled “Warren’s same-sex marriage quip captures what some find exciting—and others distressing—about her”] quotes Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who advised Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign. Sheinkopf claims that Warren’s remarks are “a battle cry for men to turn out against” her.

    He obviously means white men because minority men aren’t voting in large numbers for Trump. Sixty percent of white men voted for Republicans during the blue wave midterms. White men can run red lights to the polls next year but they can’t vote against Warren more than once no matter how much she hurts their feelings. […] If she inspired young queer people who voted third party in 2016 or just stayed home, that’s better politically […] She’s in this to win, and she’ll do it without white men. That scares the hell out of the demo that killed disco. […]

    Scroll down at the link to see a video of Elizabeth Warren speaking.

  24. says

    Guardian – “Opposition parties face ‘existential’ battle in Poland and Hungary”:

    This weekend will be a crucial test for the opposition in central Europe’s two populist strongholds as liberal forces in both countries attempt to win back ground from nationalists.

    In Poland, the opposition has described Sunday’s parliamentary elections as an “existential” battle to prevent the ruling nationalist party from gaining another four years in charge to reshape the country.

    In Hungary, the battle is already seen as mostly lost, with the far-right government of Viktor Orbán firmly entrenched after winning a third consecutive term last year. The goal for the opposition in local elections on Sunday is to win back at least some momentum. If the unified opposition candidate can take back control of the capital Budapest from Orbán’s Fidesz party, it would be a rare setback for Hungary’s anti-migration prime minister, who has talked about a project to reshape the country by 2030.

    Polls suggest the races will be close. But in both countries the ruling parties, which have drawn ire from the European commission and rights organisations, look the more likely to win. The opposition has also been criticised for fractious infighting and political own goals that have not helped their chances in either country in recent years.

    In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has the support of more than 40% of Poles, according to most surveys. PiS won elections in 2015 and has embarked on a programme of massive social spending, winning widespread support.

    Simultaneously, the party has been accused of attacking the judiciary, engaging in a culture war and, in recent months, using its stable of loyal media to launch a war on “LGBT ideology”, claiming the party is defending true, traditional Polishness.

    Opposition parties have no illusions that PiS will be the biggest party, but there is some hope that it will not be able to form a government, and that liberal and leftist opposition forces could govern as a broad coalition. Due to the complicated arithmetic in the Polish system, a lot could depend on whether two smaller parties, one of them from the far right, make it past the 5 per cent threshold for entry into parliament.

    In Poland, there are still plenty of opposition-friendly news outlets and a vibrant political debate. In Hungary, Orbán is further down the road towards full control, having suffocated much of the country’s independent media and implemented a kind of crony capitalism, all the while pumping out daily messaging warning Hungarians their lives are at risk from Muslim migrants.

    “If they lose these elections, it’s over for some of these opposition parties,” said Edit Zgut, a Hungarian political analyst based in Warsaw.

    “I turned to politics because I feel this is the last chance,” said András Pikó, a former journalist who is standing as the united opposition candidate for the eighth district of Budapest. For the first time since Orbán came to power in 2010, the opposition has managed to coordinate efforts and run single candidates in many races.

    The most symbolic battle is for mayor of the capital, Hungary’s only big city and still a relatively liberal and cosmopolitan place in comparison to the rest of the country. Here, the opposition forces have united around 44-year-old Gergely Karácsony. The run-up to the vote has been lively, with spoiler candidates, police searches of an opposition office and dirt leaked anonymously on candidates from both sides of the divide.

    Karácsony’s office was bugged and recordings in which he discussed politicians from other opposition parties were leaked. “It makes you feel like you are in Moscow,” he said.

    In Poland, the opposition looks at how Orbán has cemented control over the last decade and wonders nervously if the country might be on the same path.

    “This is not a normal election because values and institutions are at stake. This is an existential choice,” said Trzaskowski.

    Guardian editorial – “The Guardian view on Poland’s election: church-sanctioned bigotry casts a shadow”:

    …During a nasty, polarised campaign, the party has repeatedly referenced Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family, in order to aggressively target Poland’s LGBT community. Its chairman and most influential figure, Jarosław Kaczyński, has described the movement for LGBT rights as “a threat to Polish identity”, claiming that only Law and Justice can defend the traditional family from alien “western” values.

    Senior church figures in one of the most religious countries in the European Union – around 86% of Poles identify as Catholic – have aided and abetted this campaign of vilification and marginalisation. Last month, in the latest of many such interventions, the archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jędraszewski, issued a pastoral letter identifying LGBT “ideology” as a “new form of totalitarianism”. Parents who failed to robustly resist LGBT propaganda, he wrote, could see their children fall victim to it – and for those who truly love their children, there could be no greater tragedy.

    The baleful effects of this extreme language have been all too visible on the streets of Poland’s towns and cities….

    This is the other work Barr and Pompeo are doing: coordinating with religious extremists in especially Poland.

  25. says

    Re #23 – Brett McGurk: “Turkish state-backed media hails a ‘successful operation’ to ‘neutralize’ an unarmed 35-year old woman working to unite Arabs, Christians, and Kurds in NE Syria. Ms. Hevrin Khalef was reportedly dragged from a vehicle and shot to death. That’s a war crime.”

  26. says

    Followup to comment 39.

    At a televised LGBTQ forum Thursday, a member of the crowd asked Warren how she would respond if a supporter approached her and said, “Senator, I’m old-fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

    “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that,” Warren replied.

    “I’m going to say, then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that.”

    Warren response garnered laughter from the audience.

    After laughter had subsided, Warren added: “Assuming you can find one,” which caused the crowd to burst into applause and more laughter.

  27. says

    Followup to comment 48.

    Marco Rubio characterized Warren’s response as “crude and vulgar.” I will characterize Marco Rubio as “clueless.”

  28. says

    AJ – “Exclusive: Giuliani associate linked to Yanukovych’s stolen cash”:

    Semyon Kislin, a business associate of Donald Trump who is due to give evidence at the US president’s impeachment inquiry on October 14, tried to obtain millions of dollars that Ukrainian prosecutors deemed stolen, Al Jazeera can reveal.

    Kislin is a long-time friend of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The Ukraine-born businessman donated to Giuliani’s political campaigns in the 1990s.

    In January last year, Kislin lobbied the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, to help him unlock millions of dollars that had in fact been seized in a major criminal inquiry.

    This comes as the New York Times reported that federal investigators are examining Giuliani’s efforts to undermine Yovanovitch as part of a broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping Trump’s political prospects….

    More at the link.

  29. John Morales says


    “Except for content that you have posted on the Services, or unless expressly authorized by The Washington Post in writing, you are prohibited from publishing, reproducing, distributing, publishing, entering into a database, displaying, performing, modifying, creating derivative works, transmitting, or in any way exploiting any part of the Services, except that you may make use of the content for your own personal use as follows: you may make one machine readable copy and/or print copy that is limited to occasional articles of personal interest only. To obtain written consent to use a copyrighted work, please see our Reprints & Permissions section.”

    So, Lynna, you are the curator. I know PZ trusts you.

    Care to confirm that you have no issue with PZ hosting pirated content on his personal blog?

    (I mean, it’s not likely that legal action will be taken, but still)

  30. tomh says

    In Show of Support, Trump Meets With Giuliani Over Lunch

    WASHINGTON — President Trump had lunch on Saturday with Rudolph W. Giuliani amid revelations that prosecutors were investigating Mr. Giuliani for possible lobbying violations, and speculation that his position as the president’s personal lawyer was in jeopardy.

    The lunch, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Sterling, Va., was among several shows of the president’s support for Mr. Giuliani on Saturday. They seemed meant to tamp down questions about Mr. Giuliani’s status with a client famous for distancing himself from advisers when they encounter legal problems of their own.

  31. John Morales says

    Hey, that’s pretty nearly “fair use”!

    Grats, tomh. I think you’re getting how putting PZ in jeopardy isn’t the best if you appreciate this place.

  32. John Morales says

    (can’t resist: I did not fail to notice the dual use of “publish” in my quotation @53, which itself is not without significance)

  33. tomh says

    Trump’s envoy to testify that ‘no quid pro quo’ came from Trump

    The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

    Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,” said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.

    The Sept. 9 exchange between Sondland and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine has become central to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his office in pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The White House and its defenders have held up Sondland’s text, which included “no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” as proof that none was ever considered.

    The person familiar with Sondland’s testimony said the ambassador “believed Trump at the time and on that basis passed along assurances” that Trump was not withholding military aid for political purposes.

    But Sondland’s testimony will raise the possibility that Trump wasn’t truthful in his denial of a quid pro quo as well as an alternative scenario in which the president’s interest in the scheme soured at a time when his administration faced mounting scrutiny over why it was withholding about $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine and delaying a leader-level visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    “Whether he’s deciding it’s getting too hot to handle and he backs off whatever his position really was a month earlier, I don’t know,” the person said of Sondland’s understanding.

    Hours before Sondland called the president, he received a text message from the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor, raising questions about the aid holdup. “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor texted Sondland.

    That’s when Sondland, according to the person’s understanding, called Trump, who then told him he didn’t “want a quid pro quo … didn’t want anything from Ukraine.” The call lasted less than five minutes, and Trump appeared to be in a foul mood, according to the person, who spoke to The Post with Sondland’s permission, an intermediary said.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Sondland declined to comment through his lawyers.

    Sondland, who has emerged as a central actor in Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to open investigations, will be deposed before House investigators on Thursday.

    Sondland is expected to say that for months before the Sept. 9 message, he worked at the direction of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, to secure what he would call in another text message the “deliverable” sought by Trump: a public statement from Ukraine that it would investigate corruption, including mentioning Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, by name. In exchange for the statement, the president would grant Ukraine’s new president a coveted White House audience.

    “It was a quid pro quo, but not a corrupt one,” the person familiar with Sondland’s testimony said.

    Sondland appears poised to say that he and other diplomats did not know that the request to mention Burisma was really an effort to impugn the reputations of Biden and his son Hunter, who had served as a Burisma board member. Sondland contends that he didn’t know about the Biden connection until a whistleblower complaint and transcript surfaced in late September.

    To trust Sondland’s testimony, members of Congress will have to believe Sondland had not seen televised appearances by Giuliani over the spring and summer, or numerous newspaper and magazine articles questioning whether Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma could prove to be a drag on his father’s presidential campaign.

    Sondland “somehow wants all of us to believe that he is ‘shocked, shocked’ that anything he was wrapped up in was aimed at the Bidens. That beggars belief,” said Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “After all, he is a political appointee who prided himself on having direct access to Trump during this period.”

  34. John Morales says

    OK, I stand corrected.

    Anyway, tomh, your stolen content included this:
    “By Aaron C. Davis and John Hudson

    Josh Dawsey, Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe contributed to this report.”

    But you do get some credit for the theft.

    Thanks to you, PZ now hosts even more stolen content. Grats again.

    Well, I tried. I’ll leave this now, can’t do any more than I have done, and I did start slow.

  35. says

    Brett McGurk: “NYT- ‘Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters killed at least two Kurdish prisoners on Saturday, one of them lying on the ground with his hands bound behind his back, in a powerful illustration of the forces unleashed by Trump’s decision to pull back….'”

    NYT link atl.

  36. says

    AP – “IS supporters escape as Turkish troops near key Syrian town”:

    Turkish forces approached a key Kurdish-held town in northern Syria on Sunday, setting off clashes that allowed hundreds of Islamic State supporters to escape from a camp for displaced people and prompted U.S. soldiers to withdraw from a nearby base.

    A U.S. military official said the situation across northeastern Syria was “deteriorating rapidly” and that American forces were cut off from the Syrian Kurdish fighters they had previously partnered with. The official, who was not authorized to disclose operational details and spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. troops on the ground are at risk of being “isolated” and cannot travel overland without a “high risk” of armed confrontation with Turkey-backed forces.

    The camp in Ein Eissa, some 35 kilometers (20 miles) south of the border, is home to some 12,000 people, including 1,000 wives and widows of Islamic State fighters and their children. The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 IS supporters escaped after attacking guards and storming the gates. It was not immediately possible to confirm that figure.

    Turkish troops and their Syrian allies have made steady gains since launching the operation, capturing several northern villages in fighting and bombardment that has killed and wounded dozens of people. The military said it captured the center of the sizable town of Ras al-Ayn Saturday. Turkey continued shelling around the town and sporadic clashes could be heard.

    The U.N. meanwhile said a pumping station in the town of Hassakeh was damaged by shelling, affecting the water supply for 400,000 people, including 82,000 residents of camps for displaced people.

    More at the link.

  37. militantagnostic says

    SC @60

    It is almost as if the Trump administration wants a resurgence of ISIS. They need something to scare people with.

  38. says

    Reuters – “U.S. preparing to withdraw all remaining troops from northern Syria: Defense Secretary”:

    The United States is poised to evacuate about 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday in an interview with “Face the Nation” on CBS.

    “In the last 24 hours, we learned that [the Turks] likely intend to extend their attack further south than originally planned, and to the west,” Esper said in a pre-taped interview with CBS.

    “We also have learned in the last 24 hours that the … SDF are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counterattack against the Turks in the north.”

    Esper called the situation “untenable” for U.S. forces, saying that he spoke with Trump last night, and that the president directed the U.S. military to “begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”

  39. says

    Brett McGurk:

    Only four days into Turkish attack and one week after POTUS-Erdogan call:

    * UN: 130k displaced (likely to 3x)
    * ISIS terrorists escaping (caught after years of painstaking effort)
    * Syrians executed on roadways by Turkish-backed opposition forces
    * Main US supply lines cut
    * US forces fired on “danger close”
    * Female politician brutally murdered
    * Turkish forces operating well outside “security mechanism” area
    * Increasingly impossible for US forces to remain in Syria at all
    * No plan to take care of anyone who worked with us

    Total disaster

  40. says

    WATCH: Turkey using militias to advance in Syria, including former Al Qaeda and ISIS members ‘close to U.S. forces’

    @RichardEngel: ‘The situation is not how it has been portrayed over the last several days as a conventional Turkish assault’.”

    Video at the link.

  41. says

    Trump: “Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey. Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!”

    I’ve never detested anyone as much as I do this man.

  42. says

    Richard Engel: “US official – the situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly in Syria. Extremist Turkish proxies have advanced. US Forces at risk of being isolated. increased risk of confrontation between Turkish proxies and US Forces unless Turkey halts their advance immediately.”

  43. blf says

    More on the on-going case of Medhanie Berhe, who was arrested and falsely charged by Italy with being a notorious people-smuggler, and then tried, despite there being convincing evidence Italy had the wrong person from about the day of his arrest, and continuing (and becoming more and more convincing, both individually and collectively, during the trial). This atrocity has been covered in previous comments (plural) in this series of poopyhead threads. Italian judges find ‘serious neglect’ in mistaken identity case:

    Italian investigators who pursued a case against an Eritrean man accused of being one of the world’s most-wanted human traffickers in a case of mistaken identity were guilty of “serious neglect”, judges in Sicily have said.

    In a 400-page judicial report, the court of assizes traced the three-year ordeal of Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, a 30-year-old refugee released from an Italian jail in July.

    According to the judges, the prosecutors’ accusations “appeared patently inconsistent and inadequate’’, adding that, in some instances, the accusations against Berhe were “dubious on a logical and conceptual level”.

    The arrest of Berhe in 2016 was presented to the press as a brilliant coup by Italian and British authorities, who mistook him for Medhanie Yehdego Mered, AKA “the General”, a smuggling kingpin. The Eritrean was supposed to be the first human trafficker to be extradited from Africa and was regarded as an “Al Capone of the desert” by the authorities.

    But within a few hours of the arrest being announced, hundreds of Mered’s victims were claiming the wrong man had been detained. […]

    The judges at the court of assizes highlighted “serious neglect” on the part of investigators, with reference in particular to a Facebook chat between Mered’s wife, Lidya Tesfu, and Berhe.

    Although the two never met, Berhe once flirted with her via Facebook. Tesfu told him she was married, but when Berhe continued to contact her she said: “I don’t need anyone but my husband”.

    However, when the prosecutors filed the chat into evidence, they neglected everything except Tesfu’s final message, which created the impression she was married to Berhe and was missing him.

    In their judicial report, the judges stressed that the chat “emphasised by the prosecutors since the beginning of this trial, represents, on the contrary, a clear sign on the part of the woman to decline the man’s attempts to flirt with her”.

    “Failing to produce the rest of the chat except the line ‘I don’t need anyone but my husband’ was, according to the judges, a serious neglect,” the report said.

    The Guardian investigated the case, uncovering new witnesses and documents which were partially produced on Wednesday by the judges. They included private messages sent from the real trafficker’s Facebook account, in which Mered, still at large, said another Eritrean man — Berhe — had been arrested in his place.

    Swedish television also investigated the story, and if my memory is correct, located the wanted Medhanie Yehdego Mered. Together — as some Italian media sources have acknowleged — it was the Guardian and Swedish television who discovered or illuminated Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe’s innocence.

    [The innocent Mr] Berhe spent more than three years in jail and was granted refugee status one month after his release in July.


    To date, the prosecutors and the British National Crime Agency have never admitted their responsibilities in the mistaken identity case.

  44. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC: “I’ve never detested anyone as much as I do this man.”

    That is precisely why his cult supports him. They hate us–liberals, LGBTQ, women, minorities…–more than they love the country. So, I kind of hate his supporters as much as I hate him.

  45. says

    BREAKING: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Turkish President Erdogan in a phone call to bring an immediate halt to military operations in northern Syria, according to a German government spokeswoman.”


  46. blf says

    Apparently, Representative Ocasio-Cortez recently had her hair cut(? styled?). Ok, fine. Which has also set off the wingnuts into yet another spittle-saturated meltdown, The uproar over AOC’s hair is a reminder that women can’t win under the patriarchy:

    regret to inform you that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Derangement Syndrome (AOCDS) has struck again. The condition, characterized by an unhealthy obsession with the New York congresswoman and an inability to stop foaming at the mouth, claimed reporters at the Washington Times [the moonie propagandists –blf] this week. On Wednesday, the conservative outlet published an EXCLUSIVE story, headlined Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo.

    In actual fact, as the internet swiftly pointed out, Ocasio-Cortez’s $80 cut and $180 coloring were not actually that “high-dollar”. Women’s haircuts are incredibly expensive. Being a woman is incredibly expensive. Dunno if you’ve heard of this little thing called the “pink tax”?

    What’s more, spending money on a haircut is not incompatible with being a socialist. Conservatives seem to think that if you want to tax billionaires and make the world a more equitable place you ought to live in a dirt hut and refuse to participate in modern society. Last year, for example, a reporter for the Washington Examiner [another wingnut propaganda site –blf] tried to insinuate that AOC was a hypocrite by posting a photo of her wearing a nice jacket and coat. The subtext being that you can’t call yourself a real socialist unless you dress in rags.

    While conservatives crow about self-declared socialists getting haircuts they are rather more tight-lipped about the Trump administration’s spending habits. Indeed, AOC responded to HairGate by tweeting a story about Mike Pence spending almost $600,000 in limo service for an unnecessary detour to Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg. You know, the one that was 181 miles away from Pence’s meetings in Dublin.

    “Mike Pence used taxpayer funds — not personal ones — to spend several thousand haircuts’ worth of public money on a visit to Trump golf courses,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “I wonder if Republicans care about corruption as much as they care about a woman’s cut & color.” I think we all know the answer to that question.

    The to-do about AOC’s ’do isn’t just yet another example of Republican hypocrisy, however. It’s also a depressing reminder that being a woman means being forced to walk an impossible tightrope everyday. You’re criticized if you don’t look good, but you’re also criticized if you look too good. You’re either a [redacted†] or a prude. You’re told to lean in and speak up at work, but you’re called a bossy bitch if you speak up too much. Women simply can’t win when they play by the patriarchy’s rules. Which is why we need to stop playing by the patriarchy’s rules and lean all the way out.


    I suspect the Guardian columnist is confused about “Mike Pence spending almost $600,000 in limo service for an unnecessary detour to Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg” (my added emphasis), since the vice furor flew to Dublin each day from Shannon. Whilst the total costs of the multiple Doonbeg–Shannon–Dublin (and return) trips over the course of the “shat on the carpet” highly insulting could have easily added up to $600K, the limousine car portions by themselves probably did not. (However, which this mod of thieving Putin wannabes, that’s not impossible.)

      † The “[redacted]” word appears to trigger poopyhead’s filter (understandably), albeit in this case, in context, it seems appropriate to the point being made.

  47. blf says

    Apparently, Representative Ocasio-Cortez recently had her hair cut(? styled?). Ok, fine. Which has also set off the wingnuts into yet another spittle-saturated meltdown, The uproar over AOC’s hair is a reminder that women can’t win under the patriarchy:

    regret to inform you that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Derangement Syndrome (AOCDS) has struck again. The condition, characterized by an unhealthy obsession with the New York congresswoman and an inability to stop foaming at the mouth, claimed reporters at the Washington Times [the moonie propagandists –blf] this week. On Wednesday, the conservative outlet published an EXCLUSIVE story, headlined Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo.

    In actual fact, as the internet swiftly pointed out, Ocasio-Cortez’s $80 cut and $180 coloring were not actually that “high-dollar”. Women’s haircuts are incredibly expensive. Being a woman is incredibly expensive. Dunno if you’ve heard of this little thing called the “pink tax”?

    What’s more, spending money on a haircut is not incompatible with being a socialist. Conservatives seem to think that if you want to tax billionaires and make the world a more equitable place you ought to live in a dirt hut and refuse to participate in modern society. Last year, for example, a reporter for the Washington Examiner [another wingnut propaganda site –blf] tried to insinuate that AOC was a hypocrite by posting a photo of her wearing a nice jacket and coat. The subtext being that you can’t call yourself a real socialist unless you dress in rags.

    While conservatives crow about self-declared socialists getting haircuts they are rather more tight-lipped about the Trump administration’s spending habits. Indeed, AOC responded to HairGate by tweeting a story about Mike Pence spending almost $600,000 in limo service for an unnecessary detour to Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg. You know, the one that was 181 miles away from Pence’s meetings in Dublin.

    “Mike Pence used taxpayer funds — not personal ones — to spend several thousand haircuts’ worth of public money on a visit to Trump golf courses,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “I wonder if Republicans care about corruption as much as they care about a woman’s cut & color.” I think we all know the answer to that question.

    The to-do about AOC’s ’do isn’t just yet another example of Republican hypocrisy, however. It’s also a depressing reminder that being a woman means being forced to walk an impossible tightrope everyday. You’re criticized if you don’t look good, but you’re also criticized if you look too good. You’re either a [redacted†] or a [redacted†]. You’re told to lean in and speak up at work, but you’re called a [redacted†] if you speak up too much. Women simply can’t win when they play by the patriarchy’s rules. Which is why we need to stop playing by the patriarchy’s rules and lean all the way out.


    I suspect the Guardian columnist is confused about “Mike Pence spending almost $600,000 in limo service for an unnecessary detour to Trump’s Irish resort in Doonbeg” (my added emphasis), since the vice furor flew to Dublin each day from Shannon. Whilst the total costs of the multiple Doonbeg–Shannon–Dublin (and return) trips over the course of the “shat on the carpet” highly insulting could have easily added up to $600K, the limousine car portions by themselves probably did not. (However, which this mod of thieving Putin wannabes, that’s not impossible.)

      † Some or all of the “[redacted]” words appear to trigger poopyhead’s filter (understandably), albeit in this case, in context, they seem appropriate to the point being made. (I have not tried to determine which of the “[redacted]” words is triggering the filter.)

  48. says

    Haaretz – “In Hungary, Orban’s Ruling Party Rocked by Orgy on a Yacht Scandal”:

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s dominant right-wing Fidesz party was facing a challenge Sunday from opposition parties who are backing joint candidates in many cities in the country’s nationwide local election.

    Fidesz has been easily winning local, national and European Parliament elections since 2010, but a more unified opposition and the release of a video showing one of the party’s best-known mayors, former Olympic champion gymnast Zsolt Borkai, participating in an orgy on a yacht shook up the last days of the campaign.

    The sex scandal has visibly flustered Orban’s party, whose officials initially called it a private matter. The conservative Fidesz, which since 2015 has made its reputation on anti-migration policies, also casts itself as a defender of Christian and family values.

    Despite the scandal-ridden campaign — a secret sex video was also released about an opposition mayor and plenty of other shenanigans took place — the Hungarian government’s dominant influence over large sectors of the media and its blatant warnings about dwindling financial support for cities that don’t elect Fidesz mayors meant that opposition candidates were fighting mostly uphill battles.

    On Sunday, Tarlos urged Borkai to step down, concerned about the fallout from the scandal.

    Borkai was to hold a news conference on Friday but abruptly cancelled it without explanation. Around the same time, Magyar Nemzet, a newspaper under close government oversight, published an online item calling for Borkai’s resignation only for it to be removed within hours. The paper said the article did not reflect its views and was published by mistake….

  49. says

    More re #63 – AP – “Esper says Trump orders US troops to leave northern Syria”:

    …Esper said he was aware of reports of hundreds of IS prisoners escaping as a result of the Turkish invasion and of atrocities being committed against Syrian Kurds by members of a Turkish-supported Syrian Arab militia.

    “It gets worse by the hour,” Esper said. “These are all the exact things” that U.S. officials warned Erdogan would likely happen by ignoring U.S. urgings not to invade northern Syria. [Read: they’re the things they tried to warn Trump about if he greenlit the invasion – SC]

    Esper said there was “no way” U.S. forces could have stopped the Turks, who assembled a force of about 15,000 troops on the Syrian border, supported by air power.

    “We did not sign up to fight Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally, on behalf of the (Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). This is a terrible situation,” he said….

  50. says

    Garry Kasparov:

    People are still underestimating Trump’s ability to betray and destroy his oath and everything the US used to stand for. People like him only think of the next few hours; there’s no real strategy.

    With the power of the US presidency at home and across the world, Trump can create a flood of crises to distract from the pressure. 100 terrible acts are no worse than 1 to him, and confusion is his ally. Impeachment must happen quickly.

    For years I’ve been asked what Putin’s plan is. “To still be in power tomorrow morning,” is always my answer. It’s about personal survival and in such circumstances, autocrats are capable of anything.

    Trump is also nuts.

  51. says

    Buttigieg on Syria: I’m ‘hearing from soldiers who feel they have lost their honor over this, who feel they are unable to look allies in the eye … If you take away a soldier’s honor, you might as well go after their body armor next. That’s what the Commander-in-Chief is doing’.”

  52. says

    Coalition contact confirms SDF have made a deal with the Syrian government. The last few days have been brutal. Mazloum met with the Russians. It is unclear at this stage whether it’s just for Manbij and Kobane or a much-wider deal.

    Hearing it’s a much, much wider deal than just those two cities. Not sure when it will be announced though

    Syrian government troops already moving north to Kobane, according to reports”

  53. says

    Walter Shaub:

    Keep telling yourself it can’t happen here. Keep telling yourself the sun’s shinning, garbage trucks show up as scheduled, the school crossing guard gets your kids safely across the street, and that sitcom you like didn’t get canceled. Keep telling yourself that while you can.

    This time, we really are at the crossroad. The sun is still shining, and day-to-day life may seem the same for lots of people. But we have a republic for only so long as we can be bothered to keep it.

  54. says

    Absolutely horrific news: Uganda is planning to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality. LGBTQ people there need our support.

    The government say ‘homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans’ as they enforce anti-gay laws imposed by the British Empire.”

    And promoted by US evangelicals. And resembling those passed in Russia.

    Independent – “Uganda announces ‘Kill the Gays’ law imposing death penalty on homosexuals”:

    Uganda has announced plans to impose the death penalty on homosexuals.

    The bill, colloquially known as “Kill the Gays” in Uganda, was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government said on Thursday it plans to resurrect it within weeks.

    The government said the legislation would curb a rise in “unnatural sex” in the east African nation.

    “Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” the country’s ethics and integrity minister, Simon Lokodo, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    “Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.”

    Mr Lokodo said the bill, which has the support of the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, will be reintroduced in parliament in the coming weeks.

    He said it was expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

    The minister was optimistic the bill would pass with the necessary two-thirds of members present, he said, as the government had lobbied legislators ahead of its reintroduction.

    Activists warned the new bill risked an increase in violence and Pepe Julian Onziema from Sexual Minorities Uganda, an alliance of LGBT+ organisations, said its members were fearful.

    “When the law was introduced last time, it whipped up homophobic sentiment and hate crimes,” said Mr Onziema.

    “Hundreds of LGBT+ people have been forced to leave the country as refugees and more will follow if this law is enacted. It will criminalise us from even advocated for LGBT+ rights, let alone supporting and protecting sexual minorities.”

    Mr Onziema said three gay men and one transgender woman had been killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda this year – the latest last week when a gay man was bludgeoned to death.

    More at the link.

  55. says

    From Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis:

    I think Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo, the intelligence services, the foreign countries that are working with us have it about right that ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover.

    You can pull your troops out, as President [Barack] Obama learned the hard way, out of Iraq, but the ‘enemy gets the vote,’ as we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on them, ISIS will resurge. It’s — it’s absolutely a given that they will come back.

    The quoted statements are excerpts from an NBC News “Meet the Press” episode.

  56. says

    Excerpts from an article written by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board:

    […] When the Turkish bully made his threats, Mr. Trump could have said that the U.S. military controls the air above the region and would respond to protect the Kurds and U.S. soldiers. […]

    “Erdogan called the President’s bluff.” […]

    “But Mr. Trump’s judgment can be so reckless that many voters who took a risk on him the first time will ask if he’s worth a second gamble when he would no longer be disciplined by having to face the voters again. […] Impeachment won’t defeat Donald Trump in 2020, but Donald Trump might.


  57. says

    From Wonkette:

    Donald Trump gave the green light to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria last week, and now we’re getting reports of war crimes committed by the Syrian Arab militias Turkey has been using to supplement Turkish military attacks on Kurdish-held areas. Among those killed were female Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf, who was among nine civilians killed Saturday.

    The Guardian reports:

    Khalaf, 35, was “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions”, the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement. “This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians.”

    Khalaf was the secretary general of the Future Syria party. Mutlu Civiroglu, a specialist in Kurdish politics, described her death as a “great loss”.

    “She had a talent for diplomacy, she used to always take part in meetings with the Americans, the French, the foreign delegations,” he said.

    […] God knows we’d rather not write it, but it has to be talked about. We won’t include any graphic imagery, but we should warn you that stories we link to may. […]

    The Washington Post reports Turkish media is bragging about Khalef’s killing as a “successful operation” against a politician affiliated with the “terrorist” People’s Democratic Union, the Kurdish political party that runs northeast Syria.

    The newspaper said she had been “neutralized” in the operation, and described her death as a major setback for the group.

    […] the point is that a leader of a political party that supported women has been killed, and her story is just part of a disaster unleashed by Trump. As many as 300,000 people could ultimately be displaced, just after Trump and Stephen Miller made sure the US would admit the smallest number of refugees in modern history.

    The Post and other sources report on a separate incident Saturday, in which Syrian fighters appear to execute Kurdish prisoners, which is a war crime:

    The most gruesome and explicit of the videos shows Turkish-allied Syrian fighters pumping bursts of automatic fire into the body of a bound man lying on the side of a desert road as a gunman shouts to his comrades to take his phone and film him doing the shooting. Another trembling, handcuffed man crouches on the opposite side of the road as the shooting erupts. “Kill them,” one man is heard shouting.

    The video is one of a series of photographs and videos posted on Twitter accounts of the Turkish-backed rebel groups and circulated by the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces that suggest some of the Syrian rebels participating in Turkey’s offensive to capture territory in Syria might have committed war crimes. […]

    More at the link.

  58. says

    … on Saturday … the commander in chief of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made a last-ditch appeal for Trump to provide ‘any military assistance’ to stop the Turkish offensive, a US official told @AlMonitor. Trump denied the SDF request”

    Wonder what hole he was on.

  59. says

    Update – Guardian – “Blow for Orbán as opposition wins Budapest mayoral race”:

    The candidate backed by several opposition parties has been elected mayor of Budapest, in a blow to nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party.

    With 74% of the votes counted in Budapest, Gergely Karacsony was leading Istvan Tarlos by 50.1% to 44.8%. Shortly after, Tarlos, the ruling party incumbent, conceded defeat on Sunday night.

    “On the national level the result is nice but in Budapest, there is thinking to be done,” Tarlos told a news conference flanked by Orbán, the prime minister. “Budapest made the decision to elect Gergely Karacsony today.”

    Despite Tarlos’s reference to the national picture, opposition parties were also projected to win mayoral races in around 10 of the country’s 23 largest cities in nationwide local elections. In 2014, they won just three of those races.

    At nearly 50%, Sunday’s voting had one of the highest voter turnouts in local elections since Hungary’s 1990 return to democracy….

  60. says

    Guardian – “Threat to Justin Trudeau ‘troubling’ sign, say rivals”:

    The main rivals to Canada’s Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said a threat that forced him to wear a bulletproof vest at an election rally was a concerning sign for the country’s democracy.

    Trudeau arrived 90 minutes late to the rally outside Toronto wearing bulky protection under his shirt, a Reuters witness said, after receiving a security threat.

    Andew Scheer, the Conservative party leader, said late on Saturday that it was “very upsetting to hear that Justin Trudeau had to wear a bulletproof vest tonight at a campaign event. Threats of violence against political leaders have absolutely no place in our democracy.”

    Scheer is Trudeau’s main rival in the federal election on 21 October and the two are in a statistical tie nationally, according to polls. But the left-leaning New Democratic party is gaining and could end up with the balance of power.

    The NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, said: “Any threat made against Justin Trudeau, or any leader, is troubling to all of us. No matter how you vote or believe, no one should face threats of violence.”…

  61. says

    Scoop: Despite Trump’s assurance that the US was taking the most dangerous ISIS detainees out of Syria amid mounting chaos, it only got the two ‘Beatles’. The Kurds didn’t let the US extract the five dozen other high value detainees—and now it’s too late.”

  62. John Morales says

    Amusing oopsie: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-14/pms-office-accidentally-leaked-its-own-talking-points/11599038

    The Prime Minister’s office has accidentally leaked its own internal talking points for MPs to journalists across Australia, revealing the key issues the Coalition will focus on this week.

    The 15-page document has key lines for MPs to use in interviews, covering everything from the budget to welfare, energy prices, drought, Julian Assange and the medevac bill.

    It includes the main talking points on each topic as well as lines to use if asked about specific details.

  63. johnson catman says

    re John Morales @103: I am constantly not amazed by the idiocy of politicians. Not that they post their “talking points” to the wrong places, but that they need to be given “talking points” in the first place. Do they not have a single original thought inside their heads that they have to depend on some canned responses provided by someone. Or is it just that the ones who provide the “talking points” are afraid that the idiot politicians will say something that will be inconsistent with the “party line”?

  64. says

    Guardian – “Poland’s populist Law and Justice party voted back in”:

    Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party has scored a convincing victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, with almost complete results indicating a parliamentary majority and another four-year term in office.

    According to results from 99.5% of constituencies published by the electoral committee on Monday, Law and Justice took 43.8% of the vote, ahead of the country’s biggest opposition grouping, the liberal centre-right Civic Coalition, on 27.2%. The Left alliance took 12.5%, the agrarian PSL and anti-establishment Kukiz’15 8.6% and the far-right Confederation 6.8%.

    The results appeared to vindicate the party’s political strategy of combining a big increase in social spending in certain areas, most notably the introduction of an expensive child benefit programme, with nationalist and traditionalist rhetoric, and an uncompromising authoritarian political style that has exacerbated existing divisions in Polish society.

    They also crown a dismal four years for the mainstream Polish opposition, which was energised by large-scale demonstrations in 2016 and 2017 against PiS’s attempts to assert direct control over the country’s democratic institutions, most notably the judiciary, but which has failed to formulate a convincing alternative programme. Pressure is mounting on Grzegorz Schetyna, a former foreign minister who leads the centre-right Civic Platform, the largest party in the Civic Coalition.

    The government’s increases in welfare spending were made against the backdrop of a booming economy and record consumer confidence. A central issue in these elections was the flagship child benefit programme 500+, which gives families 500 zloty (£100) a month per child.

    Civic Platform had opposed the policy before the 2015 parliamentary elections, arguing that it was unaffordable. But the party has since said it would retain the 500+ if elected. Observers argue that this U-turn and PiS’s ability to deliver the programme may have undermined the opposition’s credibility among voters.

    Sunday’s PiS victory could also prove a headache for Brussels and several European capitals….

    “There was a hope that PiS would lose, but that has not materialised,” said Piotr Buras, the director of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations thinktank. “This is not just an issue for Brussels, but for several European capitals – they will have to deal with an emboldened partner.

    “The dilemma is that Poland under PiS is already a semi-authoritarian regime, and it is only likely to deteriorate further. There will be a temptation to turn a blind eye to abuses and normalise relations, but this could come at a cost to their red lines on democratic values.”

  65. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog.

    Also in the Guardian:

    “Tunisia election: exit polls point to landslide win for ‘Robocop’ Kais Saied”:

    A low-profile, conservative law professor has beaten a charismatic media magnate released from prison last week in Tunisia’s presidential election runoff, according to exit polls.

    In a contest that reflected Tunisia’s shifting post-revolution political landscape, Kais Saied scooped more than 70% of the vote, according to two exit polls, more than 40 points ahead of Nabil Karoui. The official results are expected later on Monday.

    Saied thanked the country’s young people “for turning a new page” and vowed to try to build “a new Tunisia”. About 90% of 18- to 25-year-olds voted for Saied, according to estimates by the Sigma polling institute, compared with 49.2% of voters over 60.

    Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Tunis to celebrate Saied’s victory, honking horns and singing the national anthem. “Kais Saied, voice of the people,” a gathered crowd chanted.

    “It’s a historic day: Tunisia is reaping the fruits of the revolution,” said Boussairi Abidi, a 39-year-old mechanic. “Kais Saied is going to put an end to corruption, he will be a fair president.”

    Karoui told a news conference he had been denied a chance to compete fairly and would decide whether to appeal once the electoral commission had announced the official tally.

    Analysts said the choice of the two candidates over better-known political faces, including many associated with the country’s revolution or with the old regime of the overthrown president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, reflected widespread discontent with the country’s ailing economy – a key factor that drove Tunisians on to the streets in 2011.

    “The tremendous disappointment with the lack of economic reform was paramount on Tunisian voters’ minds,” said Safwan Masri, a professor of Middle Eastern and north African politics at Columbia University.

    [Saied] argued for scrapping the country’s parliamentary system in favour of a decentralised democratic model and is socially conservative, declaring his support for the death penalty and against a law currently under discussion that would distribute inheritances equally between men and women. He has spoken disparagingly of homosexuality and says he would seek to limit the work of foreign NGOs in the country.

    Saied was considered the favourite and had the backing of the Islamist Ennahda party, which won the largest share of parliament though fell far short of claiming a majority. Presidential power is also limited, and the significant reforms Saied advocates would require a two-thirds majority in parliament that will be difficult to build, said Masri.

    “He is going to be an isolated leader because he does not have a political party,” he said. “There’s a chance he could be an irrelevant president.”

    “Fake video of Trump shooting media and opponents ‘shown at president’s resort'”:

    A mocked-up video depicting US president Donald Trump stabbing and shooting his political opponents and the media has reportedly been shown at a meeting of the president’s supporters at his Miami resort.

    The New York Times reported on Sunday that the video, which has since been posted on Twitter, shows a scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service, edited to appear as though Trump is stabbing and opening fire on people and news organisations in a church.

    The targets include CNN, Politico, Black Lives Matter, the BBC, the Guardian, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Hillary Clinton, the late senator John McCain, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and others inside the “Church of Fake News”.

    According to the Times, the video was shown last week at the American Priority conference at Doral Miami resort. Speakers at the event included Donald Trump Jr and former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    One of the event organisers, Alex Phillips told the Times that he denounced the video and was looking into how it was played at the event.

    In a statement on Thursday, CNN said the video was “vile and horrific”.

    “Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the president have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining – but it is by far and away the worst,” CNN said in a tweeted statement.

    “The president and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms. Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone.”…

  66. says

    Thread from Ben Collins of NBC about the context of the video @ #106:

    …A couple of companies built radicalization engines at never-before-seen scale, opportunistic people abused them for power and influence, and the companies refuse to acknowledge what they built.

    For people lacking in identity, especially disaffected teens, the primary rhetoric that builds community in these spaces is vicious and violent.

    We now have young people whose entire purpose is dedicated to ironic murder fantasies that become unironic over time, and we’re pilloried if we say “maybe the irony here is documented, clinical radicalization.” It’s all a joke, relax, another shooting with an identical manifesto.

    Unfortunately I’ve talked to too many smart people about this stuff. I’ve read too much of the literature. I’ve seen too many of the same snuff films that are now part of our everyday lives….

  67. says

    It’s unbearable to close the Twitter tabs of the SDF, Mustafa Bali, and the YPG/J, which haven’t tweeted in more than a day. Battered on all sides, they know there’s no point in posting in English after the betrayal.

  68. says

    Our reporter
    International organizations in the cities of northern Syria withdraw their foreign staff and close all their centers, in conjunction with the agreement between the SDF and the Syrian government forces
    Some organizations already began burning their documents”

  69. tomh says

    WaPo Live Updates:
    11:15 a.m.: Gaetz asked to leave Hill deposition

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee but none of the three panels conducting the impeachment inquiry, attempted Monday to sit in on Fiona Hill’s deposition “as a member of Congress,” he said, arguing that “if Adam Schiff and the House Democrats were so proud of their work, they would be willing to show it.”
    Republicans have consistently been arguing that the full transcript of the depositions that the three panels have conducted as part of the impeachment inquiry should be made public, though privately some acknowledge that the exchanges will not necessarily fully undermine the Democrats’ case.

    After Schiff objected to Gaetz’s presence, the question was put to a parliamentarian to decide, Gaetz said. When the parliamentarian told Gaetz he would have to leave, he did.

    Speaking to reporters afterward, Gaetz continued to deride the proceedings as a “sham or charade,” lamenting that because the full House has not voted on an impeachment process, “there are no rules” and thus his presence should have been permitted.

    — Karoun Demirjian

  70. says

    Election news from Louisiana:

    […] Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) came out on top in the first round of balloting in the state’s gubernatorial race, but his 47% wasn’t enough to prevent a runoff. The incumbent will face millionaire novice Eddie Rispone (R), who received 27% support in the multi-candidate contest.

    […] Trump, who headlined a rally in Louisiana late last week, said he pushed John Bel Edwards’ support from 66% to 47%. There is literally no evidence to support this — pre-election polls were surprisingly accurate — and the president has an unfortunate habit of touting made-up numbers.


  71. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] If the Kurds had more money, perhaps Trump wouldn’t have abandoned them?

    Benen was responding to this statement from Trump, which was discussed earlier on this thread:

    The relationship has been very good. And they buy hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise from us, not only military equipment. In military equipment, about $110 billion. It’s millions of jobs.

    Now, with that being said, we are sending troops and other things to the Middle East to help Saudi Arabia. But are you ready? Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing. That’s a first. But Saudi Arabia – and other countries, too, now – but Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing to help them. And we appreciate that.

  72. says

    Trump thinks his recent defeats in the courts are just temporary setbacks. Here’s how Trump explains it:

    I’ve had a great track record. And right now, within a couple of weeks, we will have 160 judges. And within a couple of months, we’ll have 182 federal judges. And we are breaking records like nobody has ever seen in that regard, as you know.

    Trump thinks that as soon as more trumpian judges are installed, the courts will start ruling in his favor.

    Note that Trump is not bothering to even pretend that he wants judges who are fair, and who will administer justice in a non-partisan way. He wants his judges to be loyal partners for him.

  73. says

    Delusional Hair Furor made a statement about the prisoners escaping in Northern Syria:

    Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved. Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly. Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!

    I think the people that captured those ISIS prisoners in the first place would never say that they can be “easily recaptured.”

    Some criticism of Trump from an unlikely source, Brian Kilmeade on “Fox & Friends”:

    [The result of the U.S. withdrawal has] been worse than anyone could have imagined.

    The President must realize he made a huge mistake. I think the most disturbing thing is they say hundreds of ISIS fighters have gotten out and our quest to get the worst of the worst out before the Turks got there has failed.

    ISIS has a thousand prisoners running wild right now.

    Not worse than I imagined. Not worse than many experts warned. And, no, Trump does not realize he made a huge mistake. Just because he, Donald J. Trump, did it, it thinks it is the best thing ever.

  74. says

    More re #s 100 and 105 above – the Polish results might not be as bad as previously suggested.

    Guardian – “Election results give hope to opposition in Poland and Hungary”:

    A narrower-than-expected win for Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) and a serious setback for Hungary’s governing Fidesz show eastern Europe’s illiberal nationalist parties are not entirely invincible, analysts and commentators have said.

    “It looks like this may be a small step in the right direction – but it’s clear the opposition still has an awful lot of work to do,” said Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.

    Ben Stanley, a political scientist at Warsaw’s SWPS University, said Sunday’s results suggested that when opposition parties “work together and construct a positive narrative, they can convincingly take on politicians who once looked unassailable”.

    Cas Mudde, a political scientist and leading populism expert at the University of Georgia, said: “In both Hungary and Poland the opposition seemed to understand the fundamental challenge to liberal democracy they were facing. Strategic collaboration is crucial, particularly when the government party is gaming the system by, for example, controlling the media.”

    PiS claimed victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election, winning nearly 44% of the vote according to nearly complete results. The biggest opposition grouping, Civic Coalition (KO), scored 27.2% and the leftist alliance, the Left, 12.5%.

    But the ruling party seems to have lost control of the senate after opposition parties in most districts united around a single candidate, limiting its control of the legislature for the first time in four years and making it harder to push new laws through fast.

    Nor, while PiS will form the next government, will it have the free rein it has enjoyed since 2015 in the lower house, and it may need backing from a new far-right group, Confederation, on more controversial policies such as further curbs on abortion.

    In Hungary, meanwhile, the hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán, suffered his greatest political setback in a decade when a pro-European, centre-left challenger ousted the Fidesz-backed incumbent as mayor of Budapest by 51% to 44%.

    The mayoral polls were a rare chance for Hungary’s opposition to roll back the power of Fidesz, which holds a supermajority in parliament and had won seven consecutive landslides in national, municipal and European elections since 2010.

    The party has used its dominance to reform Hungary’s institutions and concentrate power and much of the national media in Orbán’s hands, and has regularly clashed with Brussels over migration and rule-of-law issues.

    The tactic of fielding joint candidates could potentially offer a route to mounting a serious challenge to the strongman prime minister at the next general elections in 2022, although it could prove more difficult to replicate on a national level.

    In Poland, PiS, with little opposition resistance, has also used its absolute majority in both houses to push through deep reforms of the court system that have brought it into conflict with the EU, and turned state TV and radio into propaganda tools.

    But the performance of Poland’s Left alliance in returning to parliament also suggested that “with good organisation and positive messaging, opposition parties can do well” even in environments where they are under pressure, he added.

    “This idea that has held sway for so long in Poland and Hungary, that the other side has complete control of the discourse and all we can do is wait for them to make a mistake, looks like it may no longer apply.”

    A coordinated opposition with a strong counter-narrative can cut through, agreed Gostyńska-Jakubowska. “Certainly, we can say that some elements of the opposition’s strategy – non-aggression pacts – do seem to have worked. It’s obviously not a uniform picture. But it could be a beginning.”

  75. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @115:

    Trump, who headlined a rally in Louisiana late last week, said he pushed John Bel Edwards’ support from 66% to 47%.

    So, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant decreased John Bel Edwards’ support?

  76. says

    Nancy Pelosi tweeted a couple of hours ago:

    “Pleased to have a conversation with Senator @LindseyGrahamSC this morning. Our first order of business was to agree that we must have a bipartisan, bicameral joint resolution to overturn the President’s dangerous decision in Syria immediately.

    Next, we must put together the strongest bipartisan, bicameral sanctions package similar to the bipartisan bill the House is advancing.

    As we find ourselves in a situation where the President gave a green light to the Turks to bomb and effectively unleashed ISIS, we must have a stronger sanctions package than what the White House is suggesting.”

  77. says

    johnson catman:

    So, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant decreased John Bel Edwards’ support?

    Yes, that’s what he claims. He wanted to do that. John Bel Edwards is a Democrat.

  78. says

    From the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan and former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS under the Obama administration, Gen. John Allen:

    There was no chance (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) Erdogan would keep his promise, and full blown ethnic cleansing is underway by Turkish supported militias. This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment with autocrats.

    There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies.

  79. says

    […] “This is total chaos,” one senior administration official told The Washington Post. The same official also called the situation “a total shitstorm,” with reports of Russian and Syrian forces moving in at the request of the Kurds, and detained Islamic State militants escaping. “One official said that multiple Kurdish-run detention facilities were now unguarded and that the U.S. military believed hundreds of detainees had escaped.” […]


    So far, Trump has not withdrawn his invitation to Erdoğan to visit the U.S.

  80. says

    From Wonkette:

    Oh thank goodness, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney has figured out how to love Donald Trump and be a lying asshole at the same time again. Cheney was one of the 99 percent of Republicans who showed a remarkable ability to think for themselves for about five seconds, after Donald Trump got on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and said it would be cool with him if Turkey decided to massacre our allies the Kurds. […]

    But Cheney’s figured out the real culprit in all the genocide, and it is Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi and whoever else is currently in the process of impeaching Donald Trump because he is a criminal. AYUP. She explained this on “Fox & Friends,” because where else would she explain it? […]

    CHENEY: But I also want to say that the impeachment proceedings that are going on, and what the Democrats are doing themselves to try to weaken this president, is part of this. It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border. And I think the Democrats have gotta pay careful attention to the damage that they’re doing with the impeachment proceedings. […]

    The first thing Wonkette would like to say is GO FUCK YOURSELF. Impeachment is part of the US Constitution, the remedy proscribed for dealing with lawless presidents, and there has been none more lawless in American history than Donald J. Trump.

    The second thing Wonkette would like to say is actually also GO FUCK YOURSELF. Indeed, it was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border. It was a direct result of President Dipfuck getting on the phone with Erdoğan and getting completely rolled, like he always does, saying Americans will back off from defending our allies the Kurds, so that Turkey can get to murderin’. […]

    More at the link.

  81. says

    Trump is still trying to reveal the identity of the whistleblower:

    Adam Schiff now doesn’t seem to want the Whistleblower to testify. NO! Must testify to explain why he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong, not even close. Did Schiff tell him to do that? We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA.

    From Adam Schiff:

    Before the president started threatening the whistleblower, threatening others calling them traitors and spies and suggesting that you know we used to give the death penalty to traitors and spies and maybe we should think about that again. Yes we were interested in having the whistleblower come forward. [Now, the main goal] is making sure that that person is protected. Indeed, now there’s more than one whistleblower, that they are protected. And given that we already have the call record, we don’t need the whistleblower who wasn’t on the call to tell us what took place during the call.

  82. says

    Politico – “Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s private meetings with conservative pundits”:

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to discuss issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.

    The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies….

    News of the outreach is likely to further fuel suspicions on the left that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the White House and stay out of Trump’s crosshairs. The president threatened to sue Facebook and Google in June and has in the past pressured the Justice Department to take action against his perceived foes.

    Facebook has been criticized in recent days, including by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, for its ad policy, which exempts politicians from third-party fact-checking and arguably facilitates the spread of disinformation.

    When asked about the gatherings, a senior Trump administration official said “the White House is looking for meaningful steps from Facebook on a number of fronts,” including “competition, free speech for everybody including conservatives, and privacy.”

    “Nominal outreach won’t cut it,” the official added.

    As part of the series, Zuckerberg met earlier this year with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who insinuated that Facebook had become a monopoly during a congressional hearing last year; Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has fingered Zuckerberg as contributing to “the death of free speech in America”; and conservative radio talk host Hugh Hewitt, who has cautioned against a DOJ enforcement action but has called for a “new regulatory regime” to minimize “big tech bias” against conservatives.

    CNN commentator Mary Katharine Ham, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, AEI fellow and former Washington Free Beacon editor Matt Continetti, Town Hall editor and Fox News contributor Guy Benson, and Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell have also attended the dinners, according to the person familiar with the gatherings. Washington Examiner chief political correspondent and Fox News contributor Byron York also confirmed his attendance but declined to disclose the contents of the dinner because there was a prior agreement that it was off-the-record.

    Each dinner has been hosted at one of Zuckerberg’s homes in California, and at least one lasted around two-and-a-half to three hours. The conversations center around “free expression, unfair treatment of conservatives, the appeals process for real or perceived unfair treatment, fact checking, partnerships, and privacy,” the source familiar with the meetings said.

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has engaged in similar outreach to conservatives in an attempt to gain their trust, and hosted a private dinner in Washington, D.C. with GOP political operatives and commentators in July 2018, according to the Washington Post.

    Facebook changed its policies following Russia’s election interference in 2016 in an attempt to halt the spread of false news and foreign-bought ads. But the company has also been working to minimize and correct the appearance of bias in those policies ever since it was reported that the company’s employees may have suppressed stories from right-leaning publications and authors in its “Trending Topics” section.

    As part of those efforts, the company launched a yearlong “conservative bias audit” in 2018, which was conducted by former Sen. Jon Kyl and a team from his law firm Covington and Burling.

    Kyl interviewed 133 conservative lawmakers and groups for the audit, which ended in August and resulted in changes to its advertising policies. It’s unclear whether the Zuckerberg dinners are another facet of that project.

    Allegations that Facebook censors conservatives, however, have gone largely [don’t know if “largely” is necessary here – SC] unsubstantiated—conservative publications including Fox, Breitbart, and Shapiro’s Daily Wire were among the top publishers on Facebook as of this past May, according to data from the social media tracking firm Newswhip.

    Facebook’s critics on the left have argued that the company is overcorrecting [? – SC] and trying to curry favor with the Trump administration as it faces increasing scrutiny over its sloppy privacy practices and potential monopoly in social media. “Facebook made a grave mistake in allowing external political actors to direct an assessment of company policy and practices,” Henry Fernandez, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said after the “conservative bias” audit was completed in August.

    The ongoing talks between Zuckerberg and prominent conservatives have attracted the attention of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which conducts oversight on issues related to telecommunications and consumer protection and is “aware” of allegations that conservatives “are trying to work the refs” ahead of 2020, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

    The committee’s Democrats sent a previously unreported letter to Facebook in June, after a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went viral on the platform, asking what the company was doing to address “the spreading of political disinformation by real accounts.”…

    More at the link.

  83. says

    From The Washington Post:

    […] dramatic developments, with Syrian government forces retaking territory long held by U.S. allies, and Turkish-led forces expanding their offensive. Here’s what we know so far.
    ●Syrian government troops have moved back into towns in northeastern Syria for the first time in years after U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, in a stunning reversal, reached a deal with the government.
    ●Turkish-backed rebels have begun a push to retake the northern city of Manbij, which has long been a flash point.
    ●Hundreds of Islamic State family members have escaped a detention camp in Ain Issa, which has been the administrative capital of the Kurdish-led government in northeastern Syria. […]

  84. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 19.

    Commentary on Attorney General William Barr’s tirade against non-religious Americans:

    […] For one thing, it’s factually wrong. There are complex factors that contribute to problems such as drug abuse, gun violence, mental illness, and suicide, but to assume these issues would disappear in a more religious society is absurd. There are plenty of Western societies, for example, that are far more secular than the United States, and many of them are in better positions on these same social ills.

    For that matter, if Barr is concerned about “the doctrine of moral relativism,” he may want to consider the broader relationship between his boss and his social-conservative followers – many of whom have decided to look the other way on Donald Trump’s moral failings because they approve of his political agenda.

    But even putting aside these relevant details, it was the circumstances that were especially jarring: the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer delivered public remarks in which he alleged non-religious citizens of his own country are conspiring to advance a sinister “social pathology.”

    Roughly one-in-five Americans considers themselves atheists, agnostics, or lacking in any specific faith affiliation. The idea that their attorney general sees them as part of a nefarious force, conspiring in the shadows to undermine morality, isn’t just ridiculous; it’s at odds with the country’s First Amendment principles.

    Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, described Barr’s comments as “repugnant,” adding, “His job is to defend the First Amendment. But this immoral, unpatriotic, borderline monarchist and defender of corruption has other ideas.”


  85. says

    As of Monday, U.S. troops are still in Manbij. At one point, pro-Syrian regime forces were moving toward the city and U.S. forces reached out to them, a U.S. official with knowledge says.

    ‘They turned them around when we told them we were still in the area’, the official said.”

  86. says

    Laurence Tribe: “If a General were to endanger our troops the way President Trump is callously and recklessly exposing them to attack through his precipitous withdrawal from Syria, he would be court-martialed. The equivalent for the Commander in Chief is Impeachment.”

  87. says

    Kurdistan 24 – “Kurdish leader responds to Trump: We did not only fight for our interests”:

    Ilham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), told Kurdistan 24 in an exclusive interview that Syrian Kurds did not just fight for their own interests, in response to recent comments made by US President Donald Trump.

    Defending his decision to withdraw US forces from areas in northern Syria where Ankara was planning to attack following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump told a conference of Christian activists on Saturday, “They’re fighting for their land and that’s good, but we’ve helped them.”

    Ilham Ahmed told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that there have been “many confusing statements [by the US administration] recently, but one thing we know for sure, is that the YPG [People’s Protection Units] or the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] as a coalition, have fought to protect and serve all humanity; their struggle was not only for Kurdish interests.”

    “It is the time that those Coalition members commit to their responsibilities towards the people who have lost 11,000 fighters in the battle against ISIS,” she said.

    “There is an unjustified and unfair invasion against our homeland and our people. The international community must feel responsible, adhere to their promises, and stop the Turkish attacks,” Ahmed continued. “It is not only about economic interests and partnership in NATO that the West has with Turkey, they must do everything they can to prevent a genocide.”

    “It is a historical commitment that they must shoulder.”

    As the Kurdish official pointed out, the Kurdish-led SDF coalition of Arab, Kurdish, and Christian fighters did not fight only for their own lands but also liberated many cities with non-Kurdish majorities from the Islamic State, such as Manbij, Raqqa, and throughout the countryside of Deir al-Zor.

    Trump on Sunday also tweeted that Turkey considers “the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”

    Ahmed simply said that the “PKK is Turkey’s excuse to attack the Kurds everywhere.”

  88. KG says

    Jenkins also says nothing about the US pressuring the SDF to dismantle their defences on the Turkish border to meet Turkey’s “security concerns”. The go-ahead to Erdogan followed immediately this had been done. This was not just a spur-of-the-moment decision by Trump, but a deliberate act of the utmost treachery. One wonders how far the coalition of treachery stretches – were Russia, Assad, Iran party to it? None wanted a democratic, collectivist, multi-ethnic, multi-faith and feminist region to survive.

  89. says

    Democracy Now! – “Kurds Turn to Bashar al-Assad for Protection as U.S. Abandons Former Allies to Turkish Assault”:

    Syrian troops are massing near the Turkish border, one day after Bashar al-Assad’s government reached a deal to help protect the Kurds from Turkey’s deadly air and ground assault. On Sunday, the Kurds agreed, in a deal brokered by Russia, to hand over two border towns to the Syrian government in exchange for protection. The Kurds had been allied with the United States up until last week, when President Trump abruptly pulled U.S. troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey’s assault. More than 130,000 people have already been displaced over the past five days since Turkey invaded northern Syria. The death toll is unknown. Turkey is facing increasing international condemnation for invading northern Syria. The European Union has called on all member states to stop selling arms to Ankara. We speak with Ozlem Goner, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the City University of New York and a member of the Emergency Committee of Rojava.

    Video and transcript at the link. Excellent interview.

  90. says

    Also from Democracy Now! (Thursday) – “Turkey Moves to Crush Rojava, the Kurds’ Radical Experiment Based on Democracy, Feminism & Ecology”:

    As Turkey launches an aerial and ground assault on northern Syria targeting Kurdish-controlled areas, we look at how the offensive threatens the Kurdish region of Rojava with Debbie Bookchin, co-founder of the Emergency Committee for Rojava. She is a journalist and author who co-edited a book of essays by her father, Murray Bookchin, “The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy.” We also speak with Elif Sarican, a Kurdish Women’s Movement activist and anthropologist at the London School of Economics, and Ertuğrul Kürkçü, honorary chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey, known as the HDP. He is a former member of Parliament in Turkey.

    (An irony for me is that Bookchin isn’t among my favorite anarchists – had limited appreciation of Kropotkin. Still.)

    It’s an understatement to say that the US Left has a lot of work to do on foreign policy.

    Ozlem Goner is at NYU and Elif Sarican at LSE. Neither, to my knowledge, has appeared on a major news site.

  91. says

    Oh – here’s Debbie Bookchin’s NYRB article from last year about the connection between Rojava and her father: “How My Father’s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy.”

    Interesting bit: “My father moved from New York’s Lower East Side to Vermont in 1971. He was fifty years old. He and Beatrice, my mother, had divorced after twelve years of marriage, but he continued to live with her for many years and she remained his political comrade and confidante for the rest of his life. In Vermont, he became active in the antinuclear movement, while she led the opposition to the efforts of Burlington’s then-mayor, Bernie Sanders, to put a huge commercial development on the Burlington waterfront. Together, my parents started the Burlington Greens, one of the first municipalist movements in the US. And it was in their Burlington home that he wrote his magnum opus, The Ecology of Freedom, published in 1982 and translated into Turkish twelve years later.”

  92. says

    Manu Raju:

    New – Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Pompeo who just resigned, is scheduled for a transcribed interview with the committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday at 10a, according to multiple congressional sources.

    We are now looking at a full week. Tomorrow: George Kent; Wednesday: McKinley; Thursday: Sondland; Friday: Laura Cooper (new addition), who is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

  93. says

    Syrian government forces raise the Syrian governmental flag over a hill overlooking Qaraqozak area & the Euphrates, linking Manbij and Kobani after taking it as its main military post.
    The video shows a convoy of U.S. armored vehicles near the Syrian government forces”

    Well, it shows a convoy of a US armored vehicle. The only saving grace of this video is that the flagpole is like two feet tall.

  94. says

    #160 is no joke (I mean, Trump is a joke, but…). He cannot be allowed to fuck everything up and use the chaos to invoke emergency powers.

    Few things have been more exploited historically than emergency powers. Heads up.

  95. says

    Video of #167:

    Chris Hayes backs Ronan Farrow:

    ‘Ronan Farrow walked out and within two months published an incredible article that not only won a Pulitzer but helped trigger a massive social reckoning that continues to this day. It’s the kind of journalism that you want to do as a journalist’.”

    Video with more atl. I’d like to point out that the man NBC chose to moderate the 2016 Commander-in-Chief Forum was a serial sexual harasser who’s now accused of raping a woman while he was in Russia covering the 2014 Olympics.

  96. tomh says

    What the World Loses if Turkey Destroys the Syrian Kurds
    A radical political experiment is in peril.
    By Jenna Krajeski
    Ms. Krajeski is a journalist with the Fuller Project for International Reporting.
    Oct. 14, 2019

    In spring 2015, the only semiofficial way to enter the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria, referred to by Kurds as Rojava, was by boat across the narrow Tigris River from Iraqi Kurdistan. The boats were small and rusty. Weighed down with migrants and supplies, they moved with the urgency of sunning water buffalo. It was a trip for desperate people — I shared the boat with an elderly couple headed for Islamic State-held areas hoping to save their family home from occupation — taken at a tourist’s pace.

    Like much of Rojava at the time, the border crossing was part reality and part wishful thinking. Our rickety boat flew the green, red and yellow Kurdish flag as proudly as a naval warship. The security forces wore badges declaring themselves to be members of the People’s Protection Unit, or Y.P.G., a fledgling force devoted to protecting the would-be autonomous region. Distributing handwritten permits that would allow us to pass through checkpoints, they welcomed us as though Rojava wasn’t still mostly a Kurdish dream.

    Over decades of United States intervention in the Middle East, Kurds have been most often measured by their worth as military allies, and in relation to how much or how little they have helped Americans defeat an enemy. In Rojava, that enemy was the Islamic State; in Iraqi Kurdistan it was Saddam Hussein. Since President Trump ordered the withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria, opening the doors for a Turkish incursion, outcry in the West has been focused on the abandonment of fighters who led a dangerous charge against ISIS. The withdrawal has been rightly characterized as a “betrayal” and the ensuing bloodshed provides more than enough evidence of the brutality of Mr. Trump’s decision.

    But to see the move as simply a betrayal of military allies is to miss much of what is currently at stake in northern Syria, where a would-be Kurdish autonomous region is also the site of a deeply ambitious — if young and controversial — attempt at democracy, equality and stability. While the Y.P.G. members and their female counterparts in the Women’s Protection Unit fought on the front lines, Kurds in Rojava worked to fulfill a plan for Kurdish democracy at least three decades in the making. That plan included equal representation of women and minorities; fair distribution of land and wealth; a balanced judiciary; and even ecological preservation of northern Syria’s rural landscape.

    Rojava is a flawed and often fraught experiment. But amid major crackdowns on supporters of the Kurdish movement in Turkey and setbacks in the campaign for independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish Syria became the heart of the greater Kurdish movement — and the people living there much more than military allies. Those who fought the Islamic State did so alongside Americans they truly regarded as partners. But they fought for Rojava.

    Before visiting Rojava, I had spent years reporting on Kurdish movements in the region, with a focus on those influenced by the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Over 40 years, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the group known as the P.K.K. that Mr. Ocalan founded as a guerrilla army — and which Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist organization — grew into a political and social force. The success of his doctrines was particularly apparent in the prominent role of Kurdish women in Kurdish politics.

    But Kurds in Turkey, like Kurds in Iraq, forged their political and cultural gains in the context of much stronger central states. In Syria, war and political upheaval created a power vacuum in the north. Kurds rushed to create their ideal Ocalan-inspired society.

    As an experiment, Rojava was deeply compelling. I met political leaders like Hediye Yusuf, a woman whose early political identity was shaped in Syrian prisons and who eventually became co-president of one of Rojava’s three regions. I met women who were trained to intervene after reports of domestic violence. I talked to shopkeepers who distributed their goods to families in need, and to a Christian Syrian who stayed in northern Syria to ensure Christian representation in the P.Y.D., the governing political party.

    What I saw was in keeping both with Rojava’s guiding doctrine — a document called the Social Contract — and a result of extreme circumstance. ISIS wasn’t far away. One farmer shared his food not because he had read the Social Contract but because that’s what you did for your neighbors during a trade embargo. A female fighter would have preferred to be a photographer, but that would have to wait. The ideals of Rojava were often impossible to separate from the pressures of war.

    It was tempting to romanticize. Journalists and politicians, drawn to the region by the promises of the Social Contract, were treated to guided tours and organized conferences. The word “utopia” was often applied in headlines, and comparisons were made between the Y.P.G. fighting ISIS and those who fought the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Mr. Ocalan’s writings incorporate the teachings of the American philosopher Murray Bookchin and made reference to the Irish political scientist Benedict Anderson’s critiques of nationalism, which gave the Kurdish project worldwide appeal. Defending Kobani, a border town with little strategic significance but huge symbolic importance, raised the profile of the Syrian Kurdish forces in 2014. When the Y.P.G. helped open a safe passage for Yazidis escaping ISIS genocide in Iraq, they were regarded as heroes, not terrorists.

    Kurds outside of Syria, particularly in Turkey, hung their dreams of Kurdish autonomy on the dream of Rojava. In 2015, a Kurdish architect in Turkey laid out long-term plans for Kobani. Houses would be built with solar panels, low and whitewashed like on a Greek island, he told me. A Kurdish lawyer drinking tea by the border said he would have never predicted Mr. Ocalan’s ideas would play out in Syria, rather than Turkey. But he was happy about it. “It’s a dream come true,” he said at the time.

    Kurdish autonomy and United States support made Rojava a threat to Turkey and to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Using the language of counterterrorism, his administration in 2015 began increasing efforts to imprison supporters of the Kurdish movement in Turkey, removing democratically elected Kurdish leaders from their positions and cracking down on protests so brutally as to transform cities in southeastern Turkey into war zones. Last year, Turkish-backed forces took over Afrin, part of Rojava. “Erdogan started a war,” Adem Uzun, head of foreign relations for the Kurdish National Congress, told me. “He was afraid that Kurds in Rojava would achieve something and gain recognition.”

    Mr. Erdogan’s attacks in Syria show signs of awakening a political fervor that he had effectively quashed; in Diyarbakir, historically the political center of Kurdish Turkey, small protests have materialized in the streets. “When you talk to people they say: ‘O.K., we have lost a lot here. They destroyed our cities. But at least in Rojava we have made some gains,’” Ramazan Tunc, a businessman and politician who until the 2015 crackdowns was working to open a Kurdish-language university in Turkey, told me. The attacks in northern Syrian, he said, “may trigger unrest.”

    To be worthy of protection, Rojava doesn’t need to be romanticized or viewed solely through the lens of American goals in the region. It is a uniquely Kurdish experiment, grown out of decades of military and political struggle in every part of a would-be Kurdistan and constantly adapting to the circumstances of war.

    It is rightly criticized. In my reporting, I’ve talked to Kurds who fled the political dominance of the P.Y.D., and human rights groups who have accused the Y.P.G. of recruiting child soldiers. Rumors of a political alliance, perhaps tacit, with the regime of Bashar al-Assad have now been given more weight as a result of a new military alliance in the face of the Turkish assault. Those who consider the revolution delegitimized by any ties to the Assad regime will have their argument strengthened; others will say Kurds, as they often have, are simply trying to survive in an impossible situation.

    But Rojava has been successful against astonishing odds, laying the foundations of a flawed but ambitious local democracy. “I do not claim it was a perfect place,” Yasin Duman, an academic whose research focuses on the administration in northern Syria, wrote to me in an email. “But they have taken a huge step toward achieving an autonomous region that is able to accommodate many of the needs of different ethnic, religious and political groups. All this happened when the region was under attack from different groups and regimes.”

    Rojava’s strength, he explained, came not just from its vaunted fighting units. It also came from teaching Kurdish language and culture, respecting other religions and ethnicities, and building toward gender equality. “I do not think Trump’s administration can, or is willing, to understand this,” he wrote.

  97. F.O. says

    @SC #150:
    Bookchin explicitly distanced himself from anarchism.
    Also, now I’m very curious, who are your favourite anarchists and how much of an anarchist are yourself?

  98. says

    F.O. @ #172, meh, I still consider him an anarchist.

    I’m an anarchist. Off the top of my head, my favorite anarchists :) are Kropotkin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman, Luigi Fabbri, Élisée Reclus, Ricardo Mella, and Carlo Tresca.

  99. says

    Judd Legum:

    In recent months, Tucker Carlson said that immigrants were making America “dirty” and women who earn too much money are responsible for a spike in drug & alcohol abuse

    Mark Zuckerberg responded by inviting Carlson to his house to discuss “partnerships”

    Asked for comment, Facebook, which publicly attacked Elizabeth Warren earlier this week, described Tucker Carlson as a “thought leader.”

    Recall that Facebook recently PARTNERED WITH THE DAILY CALLER, Tucker Carlson’s far-right outlet with a history of fabrications to do “fact checking”

    I’ve been covering all of this extensively in my newsletter, Popular Information….

    The Daily Caller fact-checked a post from a large Facebook page called “Rowdy Republican” that contained dangerous misinformation about diabetes.

    The Daily Caller deemed the post “true.”

  100. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 175

    Evidently, Zuckerberg is rich enough for Carson to ignore that whole “Jew” thing.

  101. Akira MacKenzie says

    And Carson is pro-capitalist enough for Zuckerberg to ignore the whole “Nazi” thing.

  102. says

    BREAKING: Medical humanitarian charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) says it has made the ‘difficult decision to suspend most of our activities’ in northern Syria ‘and evacuate all our international staff’ due to the volatile situation in the region.”

  103. says

    SC @180, Matt Taibbi did a good job of exposing some of the financial shenanigans (crimes) that accompanied, and that followed, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. He also wrote readable articles that detailed other financial crimes (or unethical practices) in the USA and in the UK.

    Now, I just have to ask what has gone wrong with him?

  104. says

    Guardian – “Accused far-right terror plotter allegedly spoke of ‘cutting throats’ in Melbourne”:

    An accused far-right terror plotter allegedly spoke about “cutting throats” in central Melbourne and leaving “a line of dead lefties around me”, a court has heard.

    Phillip Galea, 34, is charged with planning to attack leftwing groups including the Melbourne Anarchist Club between August 2015 and 2016.

    “I wanted to go around cutting throats in the city centre. I wanted a line of dead lefties around me,” Galea allegedly told another man in an intercepted phone call read to Victoria’s supreme court on Tuesday.

    “I joined this movement because I wanted to fight,” Galea also said, the prosecutor Richard Maidment QC told the jury.

    Galea is standing trial for planning a terrorist attack and trying to make a document, which he allegedly called the “Patriot’s Cookbook”, to facilitate an attack.

    He wanted to target the city’s anarchist club, as well as the Melbourne Resistance Centre and the city’s Trades Hall, associated with the union movement, “to eliminate the leaders of the left”, Maidment said.

    Galea was associated with the far-right group Reclaim Australia and blamed “the left” for the “Islamisation of Australia”, the prosecutor added.

    In another phone call railing against “lefties”, Galea allegedly said “eventually we’ll put them all in ovens … with the Muslims”….

  105. says

    Mediaite – “Lara Trump Defends Trump on Syria By Claiming ‘The Average American’ Doesn’t Even Know Who the Kurds Are”:

    First Daughter-in-Law and senior Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump added another offensive defense of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the United States’ Kurdish allies in Syria to the pile by claiming that the “average American” doesn’t even know who they are.

    On Monday’s edition of Fox News at Night, host Shannon Bream asked Mrs. Trump to respond to a New York Times piece entitled “Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast,”…

    “Your reaction tonight?” Bream asked.

    “Well, Shannon, I think we should start with the fact that if you ask the average American out there, I think they would have to Google ‘Who are the Kurds, and why is America even over there fighting this war?’” Trump replied.

    That search returns results like “Abandoned by U.S. in Syria, Kurds Find New Ally in American Foe” and “Actually, President Trump, some Kurds did fight in World War II.”

    The latter is a reference to Trump’s own defense of the move in which he said that the Kurds didn’t help the U.S. at Normandy.

    Mrs. Trump then rattled off several falsehoods,…

    The Kurds did the fighting! They lost 11,000 people!

    Video and more atl.

  106. says

    Lynna @ #186, I honestly don’t know. Same with Greenwald. My guess of the moment is that their hatred of Democrats outweighs their hostility towards the Right; and, related, they’ve now dug so far in on the positions they took in 2016 that they’re forced to deny the existence of the evidence piling up.

  107. says

    Politico – “Trump’s impeachment barricade crumbles”:

    Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed.

    The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has detailed for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy.

    And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by Trump administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, complied.

    It’s the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats are feeling a new sense of momentum.

    “Thank you to patriots like @realDonaldTrump appointee Fiona Hill who chose to ignore the obstruction from Trump and gave testimony to Congress today,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). “The truth will keep coming out. And Trump cannot stop it.”

    In closed-door testimony described by a source in the room, Hill said she raised concerns with White House officials over the shadow diplomacy efforts of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who mounted a months-long campaign to discredit Joe Biden on unfounded charges.

    Hill said she shared her concerns with then-national security adviser John Bolton, who encouraged her to report her concerns about Giuliani’s efforts to a National Security Council lawyer. She told House impeachment investigators that she met with the lawyer, John Eisenberg, twice. Hill also connected Giuliani’s efforts to Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and said Bolton characterized their efforts on Ukraine as a “drug deal.”

    According to a source in the room Monday, Hill said Bolton compared Giuliani to “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

    And the flood of damaging information isn’t subsiding.

    As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, a growing number of witnesses this week are set to describe their own role in the controversy, even as the White House has vowed not to engage with House Democrats’ “illegitimate” impeachment effort. The Democratic Caucus is set to meet Tuesday night after a two-week recess to discuss the impeachment inquiry.

    On Wednesday, Michael McKinley, who abruptly resigned last week as a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, intends to testify before lawmakers.

    On Thursday, lawmakers are expected to hear from Gordon Sondland, the EU ambassador whose text messages revealed by lawmakers indicated he was aware of efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden. Sondland is reportedly ready to deflect any blame onto Trump about whether there was any quid pro quo involving military aid to Ukraine or a meeting between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart in Washington.

    Congressional investigators on Friday will hear from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, who oversees Russia- and Ukraine-related matters at the Pentagon.

    Despite the series of breakthroughs, Democrats will still face resistance from the White House to some of their high-level requests.

    But Hill’s account underscores how the president’s once-impenetrable barrier to meaningful testimony in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has been blown apart….

    Today is the deadline for several document subpoenas and requests – OMB, Pence, Giuliani, Pentagon,… I believe the Pentagon has said they’ll comply. It’s unlikely any of the others will.

  108. tomh says

    The revenge of John Bolton?
    By Aaron Blake
    Oct. 15, 2019 at 6:40 a.m. PDT

    Former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill testified Monday that John Bolton likened Rudolph W. Giuliani to a “hand grenade.” Giuliani responded overnight by likening Bolton to an “atomic bomb. Giuliani may be right — just perhaps not in the way he intended.

    As evidence builds in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, signs keep pointing to Bolton, who has not yet been scheduled to testify. But in Bolton, House Democrats have a potential witness with a trifecta of utility: (1) Proximity to the alleged scandal, (2) motivation to tell his story and, perhaps as important as anything, (3) a true-believer mentality.

    Hill testified Monday that Bolton was “furious” over Trump aides’ Ukraine maneuvering, and she indicated that he was one of the people involved in national security officials lodging their concerns with a White House lawyer (as previously reported by The Washington Post):

    Bolton and [European Union Ambassador Gordon] Sondland met in early July with then-special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Hill and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. During the meeting, Sondland’s agenda for Ukraine began to become clear, when he blurted out to the other officials present that there were “investigations that were dropped that need to be started up again,” according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The officials understood him to be referring to Burisma, the energy company, and Biden — something that made Bolton go “ballistic” after the meeting, the official said.

    Hill told lawmakers that after the meeting, Bolton instructed her to go raise their concerns about the shadow Ukraine operations with White House lawyers. Bolton said he didn’t want to be part of any “drug deal” that was being cooked up on Ukraine, one person familiar with Hill’s testimony said.

    To this point, we’ve known that Bolton wasn’t happy about his acrimonious White House exit, given his public back-and-forth with Trump over it. What we didn’t know was how much his disenchantment might have extended to the Ukraine story. There are plenty of indications, after all, that Bolton was frozen out of White House processes toward the end of his tenure, as his rift with Trump grew. And reporting indicates that the Ukraine policy often went around the National Security Council, which Bolton led and Hill served on.

    But Hill paints a picture of a Bolton who was in the room for at least some key Ukraine events, which would matter in any testimony he would offer.

    Bolton’s motivation is also important here. In addition to his dissatisfaction with the circumstances of his departure, he has already spoken out against some of the policies of the administration he left behind — more gently in public and in a more unvarnished manner privately.

    Trump supporters’ will cast him as a disgruntled former aide if he testifies against the White House, but it’s also true that aides with more loyalty might bend their version of events in a more favorable light. Bolton appears to have no great motivation to do that, based on how he views this episode and how he exited the White House. And whatever he says, if he testifies, will be under oath.

    And last is a related point. Not only is Bolton a potentially motivated witness with little loyalty to Trump, he actually has something pulling him in the opposite direction: An almost-religious view of foreign policy. Bolton has often been criticized as strident and overly militaristic, but regardless of the substance of his foreign policy, the point here is that he has strong beliefs that appear to outrank other concerns.

    That’s important, especially in this moment, because Trump’s foreign policy has veered significantly away from Bolton’s vision — most recently with his decision to withdraw from northern Syria, which is a decision many hawkish Republicans speak about in dire terms. They speak of Trump having left the United States’ Kurdish allies for “slaughter” at the hands of Turkey, as well as a possible resurgence of the Islamic State. And if those Republicans are speaking out against Trump like never before, just imagine what Bolton must be thinking right now.

    One of the great ironies here is that Bolton is perhaps the last person you would expect to be a key witness for Democrats in their impeachment inquiry, given that they have derided him for so long. And the thing that could give him extra motivation to speak out is a shift away from Republican Party orthodoxy on foreign policy.

    Much remains to play out, and Bolton still has not even been called to give a deposition. But Giuliani seems genuinely concerned that Bolton viewed his and the Trump team’s Ukraine actions in such a light. And the table seems to be set for Bolton to figure prominently in whatever comes next.

  109. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I worry that Democrats are setting their sights on too limited an objective. Even if they do impeach, the Senate is never going to vote to convict–that is Darth Cheeto’s ultimate defense. What they need to be concerned about is not getting the votes to impeach, but rather making the Senator’s vote to acquit very uncomfortable. They should not be in a hurry. They should drag the hearings and revelations out as long as they can.

  110. says

    From SC’s link in comment 141 to Daniel Dale’s article:

    He [Trump] has said at least 18 times over the last 15 days that the whistleblower who lodged a highly accurate complaint about his phone call with Ukraine’s President had been highly inaccurate. And over the weekend, he pushed three other fictions — reversing the timing of two events and touting a supposed Nancy Pelosi quote there is no evidence the House speaker ever said. […]

    Trump himself appears to have concocted comments from Pelosi — repeatedly describing supposed Pelosi quotes that are the opposite of what she has publicly said. […]

    “When she saw it, she said, ‘This is not what the whistleblower said,’ ” Trump told reporters on Monday at the White House.

    “She was angry as hell when she got to read the transcript. Because she said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not what I was told,’ ” Trump said at his Friday rally in Louisiana. [snipped more examples of Trump lying]

    Facts First: There is no evidence Pelosi said or thought that the rough transcript was underwhelming or substantially different than she expected. “It’s complete fiction,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told CNN of Trump’s claim. […]

    We’ve explained that Schiff’s account of Trump’s call was at very least confusing and that Trump had reasonable cause to be miffed. It’s worth noting, though, that Schiff did say he was offering the “essence” of Trump’s words, not a verbatim recitation, and that at least some of Schiff’s comments closely resembled what the rough transcript shows Trump said. […]

    The call and the ambassador
    Trump is facing scrutiny over his decision to recall Marie Yovanovitch from her job as ambassador to Ukraine. She testified to Congress on Friday that she had been the victim of “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” including Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates.

    Trump offered a different explanation in a Fox News interview on Saturday. He said Zelensky had told him, “out of the blue,” that he didn’t like Yovanovitch.

    […] Zelensky’s criticism of Yovanovitch had not come out of the blue.

    Facts First: The rough transcript of the July phone call shows that Trump, not Zelensky, was the one who brought up Yovanovitch […]

    The timing of Schiff’s comments
    Trump had previously bashed Schiff for doing the exaggerated paraphrase of the Zelensky call even though a transcript was available to him. Late last week, though, Trump started claiming that Schiff had only made those comments because he thought Trump would never release a transcript.

    His new story was that he had outwitted Schiff.

    “When Schiff goes out and speaks before Congress, they never thought I was going to release the transcript of my call,” Trump said at the Louisiana rally on Friday.

    “By the way, he only did it because he never thought that I was going to release the transcript,” Trump said at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday; he added, “I gave the transcript of the call, but he did it and then I released the transcript. They never thought in a million years, even in terms of violation with another country — but we got the approval, so he’s very embarrassed.” [snipped more examples of Trump lying]

    Facts First: Schiff made his comments about Trump’s call with Zelensky after Trump released the rough transcript, not before. […]

  111. says

    SC @188, it is definitely a family trait. Lara Trump is one step removed, but she still exhibits this trait: the Trumps all assume that everyone is as ill-informed as they are.

  112. says

    The latest national Quinnipiac poll shows Elizabeth Warren leading Joe Biden 30% to 27% in the Democratic presidential primary. Bernie Sanders is at 11% and Pete Buttigieg was fourth with 8%. Kamal Harris is at 4%.

  113. says

    NEW @ABC – Giuliani Rebuffing Congressional Subpoena – Rudy tells me his lawyer (who is no longer representing him) has sent a letter to Congress informing them he is not complying. ‘If they enforce it then we will see what happens’.”

  114. says

    Trump lied about a Fox News poll, and he was caught.

    From The Hill:

    President Trump on Monday blasted The New York Times for using in one of its stories last week’s Fox News poll that said a majority of respondents wanted his impeachment.

    “The Fox Impeachment poll has turned out to be incorrect,” he tweeted Monday. “This was announced on Friday. Despite this, the Corrupt New York Times used this poll in one of its stories, no mention of the correction which they knew about full well!”

    Nope. Trump is/was wrong.


    […] In reality, there was no correction to “mention.” The president appeared to reference a New York Post piece, which argued that the sample in the Fox News poll included too many Democrats.

    “Princeton, New Jersey, pollster Braun Research, which conducted the survey, noted 48% of its respondents were Democrats,” the New York Post’s analysis read. “But the actual breakdown of party affiliation is 31% Democrat, 29% Republican and 38% independent, according to Gallup.”

    There are two important angles to this. The first is the flaw in the New York Post’s analysis, which may make Trump feel better, but which is nevertheless mistaken. The second is the re-emergence of poll denialism.

    At first blush, the effort to discredit the results from the Fox News poll may seem compelling: if Gallup says 31% of the electorate is Democratic, while Fox’s poll says it’s 48%, then many might look at the results as weighted and misleading. The trouble is, the New York Post may not have looked closely enough at the Gallup data its analysis cited.

    Gallup asked self-identified independents, “As of today, do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?” With these “leaners” added to the mix, the Democratic electorate goes from 31% to 49%.

    All of which tells us the sample in the Fox News poll wasn’t especially slanted after all. When Trump asserted yesterday that that poll “turned out to be incorrect,” this was “announced,” and there was a “correction,” he was completely wrong on each point.

    […] In April 2018, Trump called into a radio talk show and argued that when it comes to understanding his public support, the responsible thing to do is take his approval rating and then “add another 7 or 8 points to it.” The president said this accounts for those people who like him, but are too embarrassed to admit to pollsters.

    Soon after, at a rally in North Dakota, Trump pointed to a non-existent group of people to bolster his practice: “They said, some great people, they said, ‘Any time Trump gets a poll, add 12 to it.’”

    More recently, Trump argued that people can add 15 percentage points to independent data on his public support, simply because he says so. […]


  115. tomh says

    @ #200

    Giuliani won’t comply with a subpoena? The precedent is clear. In 1951, when people wouldn’t comply with subpoenas issued by the Kefauver-led investigation on gambling, the Senate issued 17 arrest warrants . The Sergeant at Arms pursued, arrested, and “arranged to be delivered” Jacob (Greasy Thumb) Guzik, whom he caught up with in Florida. If they could catch up with ol’ Greasy Thumb, surely they can find and deliver Giuliani. The whole fascinating story can be found here (the Library of Congress has everything, at least until Trump does away with it.) The Kefauver hearings were the first big public use of TV (the next one being the Army-McCarthy hearings).

  116. says

    One undocumented immigrant’s experience:

    For two years now, Columbus Mennonite Church in Ohio has been Edith Espinal’s home. She went into sanctuary in October 2017, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted her for deportation. She’d lived in the state for 20 years, has no criminal record, and had been checking in regularly with officials. None of that mattered to them, and when they told her to prepare for deportation, she went to the church for help. She’s been there since. On Tuesday, she got to share her story with a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

    That candidate, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro, was in the area for the latest Democratic presidential debate, and while Edith and her family invited a number of candidates who are also participating in the debate, they said Castro was the first to respond, and so far the only one to visit the mom of three at the church. “I’m standing in solidarity with her,” he later tweeted, “and against the cruel Trump immigration agenda that’s tearing families apart every day.”

    Cruel is exactly right. After the asylum-seeker’s case was denied in 2015, officials ordered her to check in regularly with them, at first every three months, and then as frequently as every two weeks. What it also meant is that she then became an easy target once Trump unleashed his agents. “They were deporting the people they could find the easiest,” said attorney and Columbus Mennonite Church congregant Joseph Mas, “and the people they were finding the easiest were the people reporting to ICE.”

    While Columbus Mennonite Church’s congregation “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of protecting her—she has an area there to sleep, as well as a mini-kitchen and shower—sanctuary has nevertheless taken a toll. When one of her sons had to be rushed to the ER for appendicitis, and then got into a car accident just months after that, she couldn’t visit him either time. “Now this is my life,” she said in January. “It’s very difficult to live in sanctuary because you feel very depressed, the first months, the first days. You don’t know exactly what’s going on.” […]


    More at the link.

  117. says

    Yamiche Alcindor:

    …Rudy Giuliani tells me his role as Pres Trump’s personal attorney is “intertwined” with his work in Ukraine and his looking into Joe and Hunter Biden.

    Giuliani sees House Democrats’ subpoena as “raising attorney client privilege” issues….

    What legal work is he going to claim he was doing?

  118. says

    CNN – “US troops express anger at Trump’s Syria policy: ‘We betrayed’ the Kurds”:

    A wide range of American military personnel and defense officials are expressing a deep sense of frustration and anger at the Trump administration’s refusal to support Syrian Kurds facing a Turkish military assault, over half a dozen US military and defense officials have told CNN.

    Several US military and defense officials, including personnel deployed to Syria, expressed dismay at how the Trump administration has handled the situation.

    One US official said it is well known that some senior US military officials are livid at how the Kurds have been treated given their role in helping the US fight ISIS.

    Another senior American defense official told CNN that Trump’s failure to more forcefully oppose the invasion or do anything to stop the attacks on the Kurds meant Trump had given Turkey a green light, despite the administration’s public stance that it had consistently opposed the operation.

    The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces “are fighting a force that intends to eliminate their people because we green lighted their operation,” a senior US defense official told CNN referring to the Turkish operation.

    Another US military official involved in operations in Syria said he was “ashamed” of his country’s actions with regards to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, saying the US had failed to defend its one-time ally in the fight against ISIS.

    There’s also a concern that allies and potential partners won’t trust the US in the future.

    “How do we expect anyone to partner with us now?” one US defense official told CNN.

    “They did everything we asked them to do,” said another. “This is really not good for us.”

    Vice President Mike Pence also revealed that Trump had spoken with both Turkey’s President Erdogan and the Kurdish-leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi, adding that Trump had “received a firm commitment” from Erdogan not to attack the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, a location considered to be critical to the SDF.

    Pence said the US was also working to set up a ceasefire between the warring factions. However, given Trump’s order to withdraw all US troops from the area, the US will find it hard to monitor much less enforce such a ceasefire and it’s unclear how much leverage the US will have to impact the situation on the ground with one official calling it “too little, too late.”

    “It’s pretty messed up what’s happening out here,” one US Special Forces soldier on the ground in Syria told CNN when news of the US withdrawal was announced.

    “We want to offer support,” the soldier said, adding “We do not want to leave them in this situation.”

    Several US military officials expressed disappointment that the Pentagon and State Department were not acting with a greater sense of urgency to protect the Kurds.

    Trump had earlier Monday cited uncorroborated reports that Kurdish officials had released some of the 10,000 ISIS prisoners being held by the SDF, a notion that was immediately rejected by a member of his own administration.

    “Falsely claiming that the SDF Kurds are letting ISIS prisoners out of prison is wrong,” a senior defense official said.

    Kobane, which Pence told the SDF general Erdoğan had firmly committed to not attacking, is, according to Richard Engel, currently surrounded and under siege by Turkey.

  119. says

    Atlantic – “Trump’s Middle East Policy Is a Fraud”:

    Until days ago, a small number of United States troops were stationed in northeastern Syria alongside Kurdish forces who helped defeat ISIS and guard its jailed fighters. Now the troops are gone on President Donald Trump’s orders; Turkey is invading; the Kurds are fleeing, leaving their prisoners unsecured; and ISIS fighters are escaping.

    How does Trump defend this situation?

    “Some people want the United States to protect the 7,000 mile away Border of Syria, presided over by Bashar al-Assad, our enemy,” he tweeted. “I would much rather focus on our Southern Border which abuts and is part of the United States of America.”

    He’d have us believe that this is a campaign promise kept: an America First foreign policy that refuses to risk American blood or waste U.S. dollars in the Middle East.

    “Now,” he claims, “we are slowly & carefully bringing our great soldiers & military home.”

    But it isn’t so.

    Take it from the Pentagon reporter at Fox News, who reports, “Since May, U.S. forces have increased in Middle East by ~14,000 … There are currently more than 60,000 U.S. troops deployed to various countries and aboard warships.”

    In another tweet, Trump declared, “The Endless Wars Must End!” To which a noninterventionist congressman, Justin Amash, retorted, “Then we’ll need a new president who will end them. President Trump has had nearly three years to end them and has done zero. He keeps sending more troops to the Middle East … He vetoed legislation that would have limited U.S. involvement in the Yemen war.”

    In fact, even as Trump ordered those U.S. troops stationed beside the Kurds to move elsewhere in Syria or the Middle East––not back to the United States––he ordered other Americans to risk their lives thousands of miles from their families: He sent almost 2,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, a rich country with its own military, controlled by a regime that perpetrates brutal human-rights abuses.

    The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was cited by Osama bin Laden to help convert men to al-Qaeda.

    “He is a fraud,” Amash says. “His sudden concern about endless wars is just cover for his having facilitated a disaster.”

    He’s flailing. There’s no telling what’s next.

  120. says

    Hold your emoluments: 4th Circuit US Appeals Court says it will reconsider argument that Trump is violating Constitution’s ban on gifts from foreign states. ORDER:…

    The court sets Dec. 12 argument — en banc. A three-judge panel in July, ruling for Trump, dismissed the case.”

  121. says


    Turkish bank charged in Manhattan federal court for its participation in a multibillion-dollar Iranian sanctions evasion scheme

    USA Berman: Senior Halkbank management, supported & protected by high-ranking Turkish gov’t officials, carried out a brazen scheme to circumvent US sanctions against Iran, illegally moving and concealing the movement of billions of dollars

  122. says

    Mutlu Civiroglu:

    Urgent! Reliable soyrces report US forces near Kobane have had to redeploy to combat Turkish backed FSA groups. They are being directly targeted. Their security and saftey is in danger!

    Had to talk to several people on the ground to confirm the situation. Situation is pretty serious! Lost the contact. Trying to reconnect with #Kobani to get the latest

    Sources report French and British forces are now in #Kobani. Despite all attacks it’s facing from Turkey & its groups, SDF fighters tried to protect US forces and still host them

    My reporting is now confirmed by multiple sources [at the link – SC]

  123. KG says

    Rojava’s strength, he explained, came not just from its vaunted fighting units. It also came from teaching Kurdish language and culture, respecting other religions and ethnicities, and building toward gender equality. “I do not think Trump’s administration can, or is willing, to understand this,” he [Yasin Duman] wrote. – Jenna Krajeski quoted by tomh@171

    On the contrary, I suspect some of them at least do understand it, and that’s at least one reason for unleashing Erdogan’s genocidal forces on Rojava.

  124. says

    From the SDNY announcement (linked @ #215):

    Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S., a/k/a “Halkbank,” was charged today in a six-count Indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Richard M. Berman.

    U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “The facts that emerged at the full, fair, and public trial of Halkbank’s deputy general manager, which culminated in a jury’s January 2018 guilty verdict against him, illustrated senior Halkbank management’s participation in this brazen scheme to circumvent our nation’s Iran sanctions regime. As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials. The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.”

    Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said: “Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security.”

    FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “As we allege today, Halkbank, a Turkish financial institution whose majority shareholder is the government of Turkey, willfully engaged in deceptive activities designed to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. Halkbank illegally facilitated the illicit transfer of billions of dollars to benefit Iran, and for far too long the bank and its leaders willfully deceived the United States to shield their actions from scrutiny. That deception ends today. The FBI will aggressively pursue those who intentionally violate U.S. sanctions laws and attempt to undercut our national security.”

    Halkbank is charged with (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, (2) conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), (3) bank fraud, (4) conspiracy to commit bank fraud, (5) money laundering, and (6) conspiracy to commit money laundering.

    The Office has previously charged nine individual defendants, including bank employees, the former Turkish Minister of the Economy, and other participants in the scheme. See S4 15 Cr. 867 (RMB). On October 26, 2017, Reza Zarrab pled guilty to the seven counts with which he was charged. On January 3, 2018, a jury convicted former Halkbank deputy general manager Memet Hakkan Atilla of five of the six counts with which he was charged, following a five-week jury trial. The remaining individual defendants are fugitives….

  125. says

    Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ:

    NEWS: A grand jury has issued a subpoena related to the SDNY investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine, seeking documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions about his dealings with Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman and others.

    The subpoena seeks documents from Sessions related to Giuliani’s business dealings & his involvement in efforts to oust the ambassador to Ukraine, as well as any interactions between Sessions, Giuliani, Parnas & Fruman. The four of them met at least once.

    A spokesman for Sessions says he is cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and will be “providing documents to their office related to this matter over the next couple of weeks as requested.”

  126. says

    ProPublica – “Listen to Conference-Goers at Trump Resort Chant for ‘War!'”:

    On Sunday, news broke that a video of a fake President Donald Trump massacring journalists and others had been shown during a conference at one of the president’s resorts last week.

    The video was swiftly condemned by the White House, the organizers of the pro-Trump conference, as well as Donald Trump Jr. and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who both spoke at the event.

    “Regardless of political party, we should all reject any and all violence in our politics,” Trump Jr. said in a statement.

    But the now-infamous video was far from the only violent imagery and rhetoric at the conference, which was held at the Trump National Doral Miami. One of the speakers at the conference opening repeatedly urged the crowd to go to “war” in support of Trump.

    “We’ve come to declare war!” Pastor Mark Burns told the crowd three times in the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom. Conference-goers roared back: “War! War!”

    Burns went on: “Do I have anybody who is ready to go to war for Donald J. Trump, for this nation? I can’t hear you? Anybody? Ready to go to war! Because we’re citizens of the greatest country in the world!” The audience cheered.

    Later during the conference, radio host Wayne Allyn Root proudly recalled punching classmates as one of the few white students at his predominantly black high school. A “kid comes up to me and I knock him unconscious. Second kid, a week later, I knocked his entire front row of teeth out. He’s on the floor going ‘where are my teeth, where are my teeth,’” Root told the crowd. “My buddies and I were high-fiving and laughing. Man, it was funny.”

    Root then connected the beatings to politics: “To win in politics, which is the roughest game in the world, you’ve got to be a natural-born killer. Not a wallflower. You’ve got to be a pitbull.”

    We recorded the comments at the conference as part of our “Trump, Inc.” reporting project and podcast.

    Burns and Root have both long campaigned in support of Trump. Burns gave the benediction on the first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, for which he drew criticism for referring to Democrats as “the enemy.” Root also campaigned for Trump during the last election, saying he looked forward to supporters taking over the capital with “pitchforks, jack hammers and blowtorches.” (The Trump campaign declared Roots’ comments “completely unacceptable.”)

    About a thousand people attended last weekend’s American Priority Festival and Conference. It drew many speakers from the president’s orbit, including Trump Jr., Sanders and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, as well as former Trump campaign aide and now-felon George Papadopoulos.

    In between sessions, men milled about wearing shirts popular with the extreme right-wing group Proud Boys. One of the shirts read, “Yamaguchi did nothing wrong.” Otoya Yamaguchi was a Japanese ultranationalist who murdered the head of Japan’s socialist party. The back of the shirt shows an image of the killing.

    After the video became public, conference organizer Alex Phillips said the media was ignoring the fact that there had been a panel titled “Political Violence.” That panel focused on left-wing protesters known as Antifa….

  127. says

    Breaking: NO House floor vote on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, per an aide inside Dem caucus meeting.

    ‘Consensus is no vote at least right now. Many members do not want to be seen as letting the WH dictate how a separate and equal branch of govt conducts itself’.”

    I should hope not.

  128. says

    Reuters – “Erdogan says Turkey will never declare ceasefire in northern Syria: NTV”:

    President Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, and added that he was not worried about U.S. sanctions over Ankara’s offensive, broadcaster NTV reported on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said talks with Washington and Moscow on Syria’s Kobani and Manbij towns continued, and added it was “not negative” for the Syrian army to enter Manbij as long as militants in the area were cleared, NTV said.

    He also said he told Trump that Turkey would “not negotiate with a terrorist organization” in response to Trump’s mediation offer….

    He’ll only stop if he’s stopped.

  129. says

    Graham tweeted:

    I was part of a phone call yesterday between President Erdogan and President Trump where President Trump received a commitment from the President of Turkey to stay away from the Kobani area to prevent further escalation in Syria.

    If Turkey continues to move and take Kurdish areas around Kobani, I will take this as a breach of President Erdogan’s promise and a major escalation.

    I am certain Congress and the Administration will hold Erdogan personally responsible for any atrocities committed in and around Kobani.

    My advice to Turkey is stop before you completely destroy the relationship between the United States and Turkey.

    He won’t stop unless he’s stopped.

  130. tomh says

    The Ukrainian Prosecutor Behind the Dossier Targeting Hunter Biden
    By Andrew E. Kramer and Michael Schwirtz
    Oct. 15, 2019, 11:45 a.m. ET

    KIEV, Ukraine — When the Ukrainian prosecutor Konstiantyn H. Kulyk compiled a seven-page dossier in English that accused the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. of corruption, he helped set off a political firestorm that has led to the impeachment investigation of President Trump.

    But even as he was reopening a corruption case related to Hunter Biden’s service on the board of Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian gas company, Mr. Kulyk himself was under a cloud of suspicion.

    He has been indicted three times on corruption charges and accused of bringing politically motivated criminal cases against his opponents. In a Ukrainian security clearance form, Mr. Kulyk admitted having ties to a warlord in eastern Ukraine accused of working for the Russian intelligence services.

    Yet none of this — including the case related to the Bidens — has seemed to harm the career of Mr. Kulyk, who remains a department head in the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office under a new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

    “In Ukraine, a toxic person can keep a job,” said Yuriy Butusov, editor in chief of the political news outlet Tsenzor.net. “That’s not a problem.”

    Mr. Kulyk’s continued presence in the halls of government illustrates the blending of politics and criminal justice in Ukraine, where investigations are routinely used as political weapons or to grease the business interests of wealthy insiders. And the spread of his dossier in Washington shows how these tactics have spilled into American politics.

    In a July phone call that is central to the impeachment inquiry, President Trump asked Mr. Zelensky to investigate the Biden case, including supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden when he was vice president, and a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Zelensky agreed, according to White House notes on the call, saying a new prosecutor general “will look into the situation,” though he said later that the new prosecutor would act fairly and independently.

    In a statement, the prosecutor general’s office declined to clarify if Mr. Kulyk retains control over the Biden case, which is now under an audit that delays any prosecutorial decisions. Mr. Kulyk did not respond to requests for an interview.

    Mr. Kulyk’s dossier did more than revive the Biden case. The seven-page document he compiled and circulated also accused American diplomats of covering up for crimes committed by the Bidens, a spurious theory that played a role in the recall of the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch.

    A strapping former military prosecutor with a buzz cut, Mr. Kulyk pivoted his allegiance to Mr. Zelensky late in the Ukrainian presidential race last spring, allowing him to continue holding sway over important matters.

    Currently, he is pursuing a case against a former central bank governor that could aid a powerful oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, a former business partner of Mr. Zelensky. The case has become entangled in talks with the International Monetary Fund about a $5 billion aid program for Ukraine. Those broke off last month amid concerns about Mr. Kolomoisky’s influence on the government. Calls seeking comment from Mr. Kolomoisky on a phone number he has used in the past went unanswered.

    The Kolomoisky case and Mr. Kulyk’s role in it have become a credibility test for Mr. Zelensky, who swept to office on an anticorruption platform.

    “If he doesn’t fire Kulyk it will be a big negative for him, because then no one will believe that he is a reformer,” said Valeria A. Gontareva, the former central banker involved in the case. “If this country doesn’t get real rule of law then all of our reforms will be easily reversed.”

    In March, Mr. Kulyk, who with a former prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, had coordinated with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to promote the allegations against the Bidens, suddenly switched allegiance in Ukraine’s domestic politics.

    He and Mr. Lutsenko had been seen as staunch enforcers for President Petro O. Poroshenko. But two days before the first round of the country’s presidential election — with opinion polls showing Mr. Zelensky crushing Mr. Poroshenko — Mr. Kulyk filed criminal corruption charges against dozens of Poroshenko aides. He then went on a television talk show to discuss the highlights of these cases.

    An on-air confrontation ensued. Mr. Poroshenko rushed to the studio and accused Mr. Kulyk of naked political abuse of the justice system. The 11th-hour smear nevertheless reinforced Mr. Zelensky’s campaign message that the country needed a new leader to root out corruption.

    Corruption allegations trailed Mr. Kulyk long before his role in the Biden case. In 2016, he was indicted on charges of illegal enrichment, with prosecutors noting that his expensive tastes seemed incongruous with his modest salary as a prosecutor. Court documents describe Mr. Kulyk as owning assets equivalent to 1,615 times the minimum cost of living for Ukraine, including two apartments in central Kiev and a Toyota Land Cruiser that together cost more than four years’ worth of his income.

    “In any other country a prosecutor like this would have been fired a long time ago,” said Andrii Savin, a lawyer with Ukraine’s Anticorruption Action Center who has followed Mr. Kulyk’s career closely. “But what happened in this country? The prosecutor general promoted him.”

    Mr. Kulyk has also come under fire for his ties to a man believed to be a Russian intelligence agent in his hometown, Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine.

    Mr. Kulyk disclosed the friendship in an application for security clearance in 2014 as war broke out between Russia-backed separatists and Ukraine, Mr. Kulyk’s former boss in the military prosecutor’s office, Anatoly Matios, told Ukrainian media in 2017.

    Mr. Kulyk had known the man, Yevhen Zhylin, when Mr. Kulyk served in the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office and Mr. Zhylin ran a martial arts club in the city, called Oplot, or the Stronghold. Oplot was subsequently transformed into a large, Russian-backed paramilitary unit fighting on the separatist side.

    Mr. Matios told the Ukrainian media that Mr. Kulyk had passed the security clearance, but added: “I will tell you something: The moral principles of this person are worthless.”

    Investigators who pursued the illegal enrichment case against Mr. Kulyk did, however, find the source of one unexplained asset: the Toyota Land Cruiser. It was registered to the father of Mr. Zhylin, the commander on the pro-Russian side in the war.

    In the middle of his corruption trial, Mr. Kulyk was transferred from the military prosecutor’s service to Kiev, where he became a department head in the prosecutor general office’s international department. (Ms. Yovanovitch, then the new American ambassador, was among those who objected to the move.)

    It was in this position that Mr. Kulyk began digging into Burisma, the gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board.

    In an interview published in The Hill in April, Mr. Kulyk told the conservative commentator John Solomon that he had been trying to give the United States government what he said was evidence of sweeping wrongdoing by Democrats and American diplomats, but had been blocked by officials in the American Embassy in Kiev.

    The substance of the interview was consistent with the theory laid out in the dossier he compiled in late 2018, according to his former colleagues at the prosecutor’s office. The dossier, which was leaked by a Ukrainian blogger, asserted that Ukrainian prosecutors had evidence that “may attest to the commission of corrupt actions aimed at personal unlawful enrichment by the former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.”

    Mr. Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, said in an interview that he never gave Mr. Kulyk’s dossier to Mr. Giuliani. But notes taken by Mr. Giuliani during their meeting in January, passed to Congress this month by the State Department inspector general, mirror the ideas laid out in Mr. Kulyk’s memo.

    And in her testimony in the impeachment inquiry on Friday, Ms. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador, suggested that Mr. Kulyk’s dossier, or its main points, had filtered even higher in the American government. She said her recall from Kiev last spring was tied to “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

  131. says

    NEW… DOD says they recognize ‘the significance of your request’ but will not fork over documents subpoenaed by congress as part of impeachment inquiry ‘at this time’.”

  132. tomh says

    Democrats have to quit fooling around and just start arresting people who don’t comply with subpoenas. If you or I didn’t comply we’d be sitting in jail.

  133. says

    CNN – “State Department official told to lie low after raising complaints about Giuliani”:

    State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent told lawmakers on Tuesday that he had been told by a supervisor to lie low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine undermining US foreign policy, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, a senior member of the House Oversight Committee.

    Kent was testifying behind closed doors on Tuesday before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and US relations with Ukraine.

    Connolly, a Virginia lawmaker, reported that Kent had said Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine going around the State Department “undermined 28 years of US efforts to try to promote the rule of law in Ukraine.”

    Kent testified that at a May meeting at the White House organized by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, officials were told that three people would be in charge of Ukraine policy: then-Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

    Kent told lawmakers he was responsible for six countries, including Ukraine. After he was warned to lie low, he said, he took time off to attend his daughter’s wedding and go hiking in Maine, according to Connolly. When he returned, he said, he focused on the other countries….

  134. says

    Evidently AOC, Tlaib, and Omar will be endorsing Sanders at his event on Saturday. I’ve seen multiple Sanders supporters predicting liberals (or Warren supporters) will be enraged by this and turn on them, but I’m not seeing evidence of that. It’s not all that surprising (aside from the fact that he’s a 78-year-old man who just had a heart attack and it’s kind of strange that he’s still in the race). Several people have even suggested that this could help Warren. It seems like there’s some projecting going on.

  135. lotharloo says

    Warren and Sanders are very close, however, but I’m not surprised the Squad mostly supports Sanders. I don’t remember Warren’s position on Israeli-Palestine conflict but Sanders has a clear policy difference on that regard compared the majority of US politicians. So Ilhan Omar being a Bernie supporter was entirely predictable. And AOC like many of the younger generation were inspired by his 2016 run.

  136. redwood says

    Considering how Clinton was attacked on fake health problems, what would the right-wingers do with Sanders? They’d have him at death’s door, I’m sure. Maybe having a heart attack isn’t as bad as it used to be, but you’d think that he’d want to consider his own health and the consequences of continuing to run for prez. It’s a grueling race and it’s got another whole year to go. Perhaps he feels he owes it to his supporters to keep running, but I hope he thinks of the dangers to himself.

  137. says

    Daily Beast – “Grieving Parents ‘Ambushed’ by Trump, Who Had Teen’s Killer Waiting at White House”:

    You can almost imagine the reality show excitement that surely went into the ill-considered plan to introduce Anne Sacoolas, the American diplomatic wife who killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn when she drove down the wrong side of an English lane in August, to Dunn’s grieving parents. Sacoolas left the U.K. in early September under diplomatic immunity and has not been seen in public since.

    The Dunn family, now in the United States to drum up support to send Sacoolas back to the U.K. to face justice, had accepted an “urgent” invitation by the White House from National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, to visit Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Trump, it seems, thought he could convince the Dunns to meet the woman who killed their son, and would do so by opening a side door through which she would walk. The whole scene would be captured by a pool of photographers who had been summoned for the meeting.

    But the Dunns would have none of it and refused to meet her. The Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said that the family felt “ambushed” when the “bombshell” was dropped that Sacoolas was next door.

    They had envisioned meeting her one day, but as Seiger told The Daily Beast, “only on British soil” and “only with mediators, counselors and their legal team in tow.”

    In a statement on the Dunn’s Justice4Harry GoFundMe page, Seiger explained what happened. “The family had four surprises yesterday,” he wrote. “Firstly, being invited to the White House in the first place which came right out of the blue.”

    In fact, Dunn’s father Tim had suggested on CBS News earlier in the day that he would like to meet the president “man to man, father to father” to plead with him to send Sacoolas back to face justice.

    Seiger said the second surprise was that they had not expected to actually meet the president in person. But the third was the doozy.

    “Thirdly that Mrs. Sacoolas was present in the building and fourthly that it was the President’s intention for Harry’s family to meet Mrs. Sacoolas in the Oval Office in front of several photographers in what was obviously designed to be a press call,” Seiger wrote in his statement.

    The Dunns have said they would ask a court for a suspended sentence for Sacoolas if she is convicted of their son’s wrongful death. But only under the condition that she return to the U.K. to engage in the investigation and stand trial, if one is ordered. If she agrees to that, they say they will agree to meeting her in person and accepting what they assume would be her apology….

  138. says

    Yahoo – “Women’s Group to DNC: Cancel 5th Presidential Debate Unless Co-Sponsor NBC News ‘Cleans House’”:

    UltraViolet Action, a women’s advocacy organization, called on the Democratic National Committee to pull its fifth Democratic presidential debate — co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post — in light of new revelations made about NBC News and NBCUniversal in Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill.”

    “The DNC needs to make it clear that they support survivors of sexual abuse and cancel the upcoming 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate on MSNBC until Comcast and NBC News take clear steps to clean up the toxic culture that exists across their networks,” Shaunna Thomas, the co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet Action, said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Thomas pointed to Farrow’s reporting that NBC News executives may have known about accusations of sexual misconduct earlier than they let on, or that it succumbed to pressure from Weinstein to kill Farrow’s reporting into the disgraced movie mogul’s behavior toward women. (NBC News has repeatedly denied these accusations.)

    “These initial reports demonstrate that NBC’s current leadership is either unable or unwilling to take appropriate steps to combat the culture of sexual abuse at the networks. These are problems that can only be solved by significant structural and cultural changes at MSNBC, NBC News, and its parent company, Comcast,” Thomas said before pointing to CBS’ new HR procedures following the allegations of sexual misconduct against former CBS CEO Les Moonves. “The DNC must stand with survivors and pull the upcoming democratic presidential primary debate from MSNBC until Comcast takes clear steps to clean house at NBC News.”

    Last week, UltraViolet Action also publicly called on NBC News to fire its president, Noah Oppenheim, following early reports about Farrow’s book and the resurfacing of Oppenheim’s 20-year-old columns for his college newspaper, some of which spoke disparagingly of women. Earlier this year, the organization also helped successfully campaign major networks to require that televised debates and town halls for the 2020 election have more women and people of color moderating.

    I just caught a few minutes on Morning Joe of Mike Barnicle talking about Warren in last night’s debate. There’s a real problem there. Here’s the exchange in question. Barnicle’s take was that viewers would see the “smallness” of Warren’s response to Biden and how she wouldn’t even “look at him.” Someone should put together a montage of all the white men there talking about candidates who aren’t white men.

  139. says

    Joan Walsh in the Nation – “William Barr Is Neck-Deep in Extremist Catholic Institutions”:

    It’s not enough that Attorney General William Barr, whose office is supposed to be nominally independent of the president’s, is busy pursuing Donald Trump’s paranoid global and domestic grudges around the world. Barr is also finding time to denounce his own country. In a histrionic speech at Notre Dame Law School on Friday, he blamed “secularists” and “so-called progressives” for destroying society and precipitating the crises of family dissolution, crime, and drugs, while talking of a war between religious and nonreligious Americans. Scary shit.

    According to Mother Jones, Barr’s extremist talk “shocked legal experts, who saw Barr’s defense of religious freedom as an assault on the First Amendment’s protection against the government’s establishment of any religion.”…

    But they shouldn’t have been surprised: The buttoned-down, establishment-seeming Barr is actually neck-deep in a web of extremist conservative Catholic institutions, and he has been for the last three decades.

    Barr disclosed on a questionnaire submitted during his Senate confirmation process that he’s been an active leader of several far-right Catholic and Christian groups. As recently as 2017, he was on the board of directors of the DC-based Catholic Information Center, led by the ultraright and secretive group Opus Dei. He’s not alone in being tied to that center. Its board includes the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone is a former board member. “The small center—its members and its leaders—continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics,” The Washington Post wrote this year.

    Larry Kudlow is another fan of the center. Its longtime president, Father John McCloskey, converted Kudlow from Judaism when he was struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. “I’d like to unleash him on Capitol Hill,” Kudlow told The Washington Times in 2001…. McCloskey also baptized modern ultraright stalwarts like former Kansas senator Sam Brownback and über–GOP fixer Newt Gingrich, whose wife is now the ambassador to the Vatican. (I kid you not.)

    McCloskey left the center in 2003 after two credible allegations of abusing women who went to him for pastoral advice, and the center settled at least one of the complaints for almost a million dollars.

    For 21 years, Barr was also on the board of the DC-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, perhaps best known in recent years as the firm behind the Hobby Lobby case that let corporations violate women’s rights by denying them coverage for contraception….

    Another reason no one should have been surprised to find Barr body-surfing the fever swamps of Catholic paranoia this past weekend is that he’s been here before. The venerable Constitution-backing group Americans United has been documenting his crazy Catholic-right pronouncements since at least the 1990s. In 1992, he told a Milwaukee-based governors’ conference on juvenile crime that a “moral lobotomy of public schools, based on extremist notions of separation of church and state,” was causing schools trouble. Six months later he told the wing nut Catholic League it was time to impose a “moral consensus” based on “natural law”—which conservative Catholic theologians believe means Catholic law.

    All those anti-Trump establishment lawyers who stood up for Barr this year did so either knowing about all of this Catholic wing-nuttery or not caring enough to know. Meanwhile, he’s one of the four tent poles of modern conservatism, as I wrote last week, and it’s worth noting that Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were all also raised Catholic—but Pence and Pompeo went one better than Barr and joined the official GOP denomination, White Evangelical Protestantism (some of whose members believe Catholicism was established by Satan)….

    Somehow none of this came up during his confirmation hearings.

  140. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 246

    Somehow none of this came up during his confirmation hearings.

    Yeah, it’s almost as if even “liberal” American politicians are afraid of dealing with the religious because significant portions of the electorate–even the Catholics–really want some kind of Christian theocracy to rule us all.

  141. says

    ProPublica – “Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies”:

    Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

    For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

    A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

    New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

    The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

    “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

    Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.

    That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns.

    ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.

    ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

    There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”…

    Much more at the link.

  142. says

    McKinley has arrived for his deposition. (See #153 for this week’s schedule.) For some reason, Volker has reportedly returned today for more testimony, prior to Sondland’s deposition tomorrow.

  143. says

    SCOOP: Pompeo’s senior adviser will tell impeachment inquiry that career diplomats were mistreated during his tenure & had careers sidelined for political reasons, per source. Ouster of Yovanovitch was ‘too much for him’ so he quit.

    ‘The unwillingness of State Department leadership to defend Yovanovitch or interfere with an obviously partisan effort to intervene in our relationship with Ukraine for the political benefit of the president was too much for him’, said person familiar with testimony.

    The split has been bitter between Pompeo and his senior adviser as shown by the absence of a statement from Pompeo expressing gratitude for McKinley’s 37 years of service.”

  144. says

    Trump says the Kurds, who lost roughly 11,000 people in Syria during the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS, are ‘no angels’ (via @justinsink)

    More Trump, via @justinsink: ‘I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria for the United States [as] strategically brilliant’.”

  145. says

    JUST IN: David Correia, 1 of the 4 people indicted in an alleged scheme to funnel foreign money and violate FEC laws was taken into custody at New York’s JFK airport this morning; the case includes Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman”

    Was he really stupid enough to go to the airport, or is this a cover story they cooked up to disguise that he’s already flipped? I guess the former is entirely plausible, given the crowd he runs with.

  146. says

    Trump: ‘Some of [ISIS] were released for effect’.”

    He also said what’s happening in Syria is “not our problem” and Russia’s involvement is “fine.” He’s either intentionally spreading Kremlin propaganda or he’s had a psychotic break. He needs to be out of that office.

  147. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 259

    I remembered this story for last year What a difference time makes, eh?

    “OK, we’re trying to get along very well,” Trump said. “We do get along great with the Kurds. We’re trying to help them a lot. Don’t forget, that’s their territory. We have to help them. I want to help them.”

  148. johnson catman says

    The Orange Toddler-Tyrant has a really high opinion of himself. Not only does he have “great and unmatched wisdom”, but now he is “strategically brilliant”. How long before he uses the term “god-emperor” about himself?

  149. tomh says

    These people act like subpoenas are just polite requests that they can safely ignore. The more of them that get away with it, the more it will happen.

    12:15 p.m.: Perry declines to say whether he will comply with subpoena

    In an appearance on Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry declined to commit about complying with a congressional subpoena.

    “Hey, listen,” Perry said. “The House has sent a subpoena over for the records that we have. And our general counsel and the White House counsel are going through the process right now. And I’m going to follow the lead of the, of my counsel on that.”

    Friday is the deadline for documents to be released from the White House and Perry. Trump has said Perry asked him to make the July call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but Perry told reporters last week he did it so that the two could talk about energy issues.

  150. tomh says

    1:50 p.m.: One Giuliani associate released on bond

    One of two associates of Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani arrested at Dulles International Airport last week has been released on bond, a day before they are both set to appear in federal court in New York on campaign finance violations.

    Igor Fruman left the Alexandria federal courthouse with his attorney just before 2 p.m. Wednesday and declined to answer questions about his case.

    Fruman put up property in Florida worth $1 million to secure his release, according to court records. Lev Parnas, his business partner, remains behind bars. A federal judge in Alexandria agreed to release Parnas if he could offer as collateral a $1 million business. He has not yet done so.

    Where Parnas and Fruman got the money they are accused of illegally pouring into American politics remains a mystery. Parnas paid Giuliani $500,000 as a consultant while helping him drum up support for an investigation into Hunter Biden in Ukraine. But he also owes more than that in a civil suit involving a failed movie project.

  151. says

    CNN – “Federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani includes counterintelligence probe”:

    For months, investigators looking into Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine have dug into everything from possible financial entanglements with alleged corrupt Ukrainian figures to counterintelligence concerns raised by some of those business ties, according to people briefed on the matter.

    The counterintelligence part of the investigation indicates that FBI and criminal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking at a broader set of issues related to Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, than has been previously reported.

    Kenneth McCallion, a New York attorney, says that investigators first approached him earlier this year to ask about Giuliani’s ties to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Giuliani associates indicted last week on campaign-finance related charges.

    McCallion says FBI counterintelligence agents in February or March asked questions about some of Giuliani’s Ukrainian business dealings.

    The counterintelligence probe hinges in part on whether a foreign influence operation was trying to take advantage of Giuliani’s business ties in Ukraine and with wealthy foreigners to make inroads with the White House, according to one person briefed on the matter.

    “I was just asked whether I or any of my clients knew of any dealings that these two guys had with Giuliani,” McCallion said. “They were on the radar with regard to possible counterintelligence issues.”

    McCallion, who first spoke to USA Today, has represented Ukrainian clients, including the former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

    Some of the FBI agents and prosecutors handling the case come from the same public corruption unit that targeted Michael Cohen, the President’s former personal lawyer, and it’s clear the investigation could result in more charges.

    The investigators in the Southern District of New York appear to have largely operated separately from what Trump’s appointees at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, DC, have pursued in recent months, and the investigation dates back far longer than what’s been previously reported.

    When the Giuliani associates were first charged, the Justice Department’s public integrity team based in Washington were consulted about the charges but were not involved further in the case, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Prosecutors are expected to bring additional charges against at least some of the men, people briefed on the matter say. A grand jury has already issued at least one subpoena, to former Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, another indication that further charges could be in the works. Rules that govern grand juries say that prosecutors can’t continue to subpoena witnesses to the secret proceedings unless they are pursuing additional targets or charges….

  152. says

    Nancy Pelosi just tweeted: “I am deeply concerned that the White House has canceled an all-Member classified briefing on the dangerous situation the President has caused in Syria, denying the Congress its right to be informed as it makes decisions about our national security.”

  153. says

    Asha Rangappa:

    THREAD. What does it mean that the FBI reportedly has a counterintelligence investigation on Giuliani? First and foremost, it means that the FBI believes he may pose a national security threat to the United States.

    CI investigations aren’t predicated on a suspicion that someone has broken the law. Rather, they typically begin because some has had contact with people linked to foreign intelligence and/or is furthering the interests of a foreign power in the U.S.

    Sometimes people may be targeted unwittingly. For this reason, and bc CI investigations have broader threshold to open (and are secret), they have to be closed after 6 months if no actual threat exists or it can be neutralized in that time.

    Based on reports that the FBI was questioning people about Giuliano’s counterintelligence related issues as far back as Feb/Mar, an ongoing investigation would mean that this is a “Full” rather than “Preliminary” Investigation (former can be open indefinitely).

    Given that Giuliani is an USPER, the bar to have a Full Investigation on him would be higher than for nonUSPERs. Also, in my experience, people who are being “unwittingly” targeted are neutralized pretty quickly (usually with a warning/heads up that they are targets).

    (I should also note that the bar would be especially high since Giuliani is POTUS’ lawyer and, well…honestly wth would the FBI go through this movie all over again if there not some serious red flags???)

    So basically, the FBI thinks something bad — and likely not “unwitting” — is up: That Giuliani is a conduit for pushing the agendas of foreign intelligence and/or foreign interests. Which we really don’t want happening, especially in the Oval Office.

    A couple of things: First, a CI investigation is not mutually exclusive with a criminal investigation. They can happen on different tracks. Given that SDNY has public corruption unit involved, there appears to be a separate criminal investigation on G as well.

    Second, there can be criminal violations on the CI side: Those are espionage (not likely here) or FARA violations (more likely, given what G’s associates were up to). But CI investigations don’t have to — and often don’t — result in criminal prosecutions.

    And bc CI cases don’t often cross over into criminal prosecutions, they would stay within FBI, and not bleed into SDNY unless and until that happened. (It’s not clear to me how much Main Justice would be involved, and how much power Barr would have over it).

  154. says

    CNN – “Former State adviser says Pompeo was silent on Yovanovitch ouster”:

    Former State Department senior adviser Michael McKinley testified Wednesday that he repeatedly asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a show of support for the ousted US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — but was greeted with silence from the secretary of state, according to two sources with knowledge of his testimony.

    That decision to not offer Yovanovitch support was a key reason McKinley decided to resign his job last week, the sources said.

    Much of McKinley’s testimony focused on internal dynamics at the State Department, which previous witnesses have told lawmakers were upended by Giuliani’s efforts to go around normal channels in Ukraine to target Yovanovitch and push for Ukraine to open an investigation into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

    McKinley did not know the reasons why Pompeo was silent, according to sources with knowledge of his testimony so far. He said Pompeo listened to the concerns but didn’t explain his thinking.

    McKinley also testified about lacking knowledge about what Giuliani was up to and said he didn’t have contact with Giuliani.

    Three sources say that McKinley did not turn over documents to the committee but gave those documents to the State Department, which has not turned them over to the House. That was also the case with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who testified before the committees on Tuesday. The State Department has also not responded to a subpoena demanding documents related to Ukraine.

  155. says

    Remarkable day in Syria: The US military carried out airstrikes to destroy the headquarters for its counter-ISIS campaign after Turkish backed forces closed in on the base. US military says it is carrying out ‘deliberate withdrawal’.”

    Trump is a madman and will only get more destructive as the pressure increases.

  156. says

    NEW: Change of schedule for the Giuliani associates charged with violating campaign finance laws. David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin will be arraigned tomorrow afternoon in SDNY, and the arraignment for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman has been pushed back to 10/23.”

  157. says

    Trump, speaking beside the president of Italy, says ‘the word is’ that ‘Italy may have been one of’ the countries used corruptly by anti-Trump American intelligence officials in the 2016 election.”

    Trump issuing strongest threats yet on trade war with EU, which he says ‘we can win easily’. Global economy already suffering biggest downturn since 2008 because of US-China trade war. Now he’s threatening to open up a second front.”

  158. says

    So I guess that meeting between Trump and congressional leaders went ahead. Pelosi, Hoyer, and Schumer just spoke to the press. The Democrats had to walk out because Trump was being so disrespectful to Pelosi, at one point calling her a “third-rate politician.” She said he was worked up and not accepting the reality of the situation.

  159. says

    Guardian – “Mormon church strikes blow against Utah ban on conversion therapy”:

    A proposed LGBTQ conversion therapy ban in Utah is in danger of being derailed after the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints came out Tuesday night in opposition, just months after it said it wouldn’t stand in the way of a similar measure under consideration.

    The church said the regulatory rule prohibiting Utah psychologists from engaging in LBGTQ conversion therapy with minors would fail to safeguard “religious beliefs” and doesn’t account for “important realities of gender identity in the development of children”.

    State regulators crafted the rule at the request of Republican governor, Gary Herbert, a member of the church, who in June asked for a set of rules after a similar bill died in the legislature despite the church not taking a position.

    The church’s statement strikes a blow to the hopes of LGBTQ advocates hoping Utah could join 18 states that have enacted laws banning or restricting conversion therapy that’s opposed by the American Psychological Association….

  160. says

    More re #s 215 and 218 – Bloomberg – “Trump-Erdogan Call Led to Lengthy Quest to Avoid Halkbank Trial”:

    President Donald Trump assigned his attorney general and Treasury secretary to deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated pleas to avoid charges against one of Turkey’s largest banks, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    In an April phone call, Trump told Erdogan that William Barr and Steven Mnuchin would handle the issue, the people said. In the months that followed, no action was taken against Halkbank for its alleged involvement in a massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran. That changed when an undated indictment was unveiled Tuesday — a day after Trump imposed sanctions over Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.

    It marked an unusual intervention by a president to get his top cabinet officials involved in an active federal investigation. It’s not clear whether Trump instructed Barr and Mnuchin to satisfy Erdogan’s pleas or whether the president was simply tired of being asked about it.

    But according to a third person who’s familiar with Turkey’s position, discussions over a deal that would resolve the issue out of court made little headway before Barr took over as attorney general in February and then became involved in the discussions.

    Trump’s involvement and his decision to assign Barr and Mnuchin to address the sensitive issue, working with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, reflected the degree to which the Halkbank case became a priority for the president.

    In the end, U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Halkbank, accusing it of fraud, money laundering and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. It’s unclear exactly when the Halkbank indictment was filed, raising questions about whether it was set aside until it became politically expedient for the Trump administration to unseal it.

    The politically explosive indictment came as Turkish-U.S. tensions are soaring over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria after Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from key border posts last week. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo were due to travel to Ankara for talks with Erdogan over the conflict in Syria.

    The charges against Halkbank also come after years of public and private lobbying by Erdogan and other top Turkish officials — starting in the Obama administration — to get the investigations into violations of Iran sanctions dropped.

    The matter is the latest instance linked to Turkey in which Trump has pressed for a solution beyond the bounds of the courtroom. In multiple meetings in 2017, Trump urged then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to persuade the Justice Department to drop the case against Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of the scheme to violate the sanctions.

    Rudy Giuliani, who later became Trump’s personal attorney, represented Zarrab and pressed Trump to intervene on his client’s behalf.

    Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader, ultimately pleaded guilty and became the star witness against a bank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla. Zarrab recounted how he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that were frozen in foreign accounts. Atilla was convicted in early 2018.

    Together, the episodes demonstrate Trump’s receptiveness to Erdogan’s desire to avoid criminal proceedings that could shed an unflattering light on his government.

    Mnuchin and the Treasury Department were also involved because they had a role in determining the size of a regulatory penalty against Halkbank after Atilla was convicted in January of last year of helping violate the Iran sanctions.

    Critics said they grew alarmed that the fine hadn’t been issued more than a year after the executive’s conviction in January 2018. Some suspected that Erdogan’s persistent lobbying about the Halkbank case — he brought it up during the Obama administration, including twice in meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, only to be rebuffed — successfully persuaded Trump administration officials to hold back.

    Critics of Trump’s decision-making on Turkey also point to his refusal so far to sanction the country over its decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, as U.S. law requires. When Turkey started receiving parts for the system this summer, the State Department forwarded a list of recommended sanctions to the White House, only to have Trump ignore them, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

    While Trump has been silent on the Halkbank case, public evidence suggests that he’s talked to others beyond his top staff about it. In an August phone call with a pair of Russian pranksters who presented themselves as Turkey’s defense minister, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump was “very sensitive” to the “case involving the Turkish bank,” according to Politico.

    “The president wants to be helpful, within the limits of his power,” said Graham, a close Trump ally.

  161. says

    New: A federal judge in Manhattan has denied Alan Dershowitz’s motion to dismiss a defamation suit brought by Virginia Giuffre, who was one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers and also said she was abused by Dershowitz.”

    Order atl.

  162. says

    Speaking of Barr – CNN – “Matthew Shepard’s parents have sharp words for William Barr in speech delivered at DOJ event”:

    The family of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old Wyoming man killed in a brutal homophobic attack in 1998, had sharp words for Attorney General William Barr in a speech delivered Wednesday at the Justice Department.

    The striking speech, at an event marking the anniversary of a hate crimes law named for Shepard in the Justice Department’s ornate Great Hall, drew a standing ovation from an audience that included department attorneys.

    “We find it interesting and hypocritical that (Barr) would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while at the same time asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees,” said Cynthia Deitle, the programs and operations director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, referring to James Byrd Jr., a black man killed by white supremacists in 1998.

    “Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers would have the right to terminate transgender employees just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals form hate crimes,” she said.

    Deitle delivered the speech written by Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, and apologized on the pair’s behalf for missing the event, noting that they were traveling.

    Barr was not present for the event, but the chief of the department’s civil rights division, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, sat on stage behind Deitle as she rebuked his boss. Dreiband spoke earlier in the event about the Justice Department’s commitment to prosecuting hate crimes….

  163. tomh says

    Religion Clause
    Court Vacates Obama-Era Rule Mandating Gender Transition and Abortion Procedures

    In Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Azar, a Texas federal district court vacated and remanded for further consideration a rule issued by the Obama administration under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or termination of pregnancy in health care programs that receive federal financial assistance. The court relied on reasoning in its earlier preliminary injunction decision, concluding that requiring health care providers to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions in violation of their religious beliefs violates RFRA.

    This is Judge Reed O’Conner, a Bush Jr. appointee, the same judge that ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional, rendering all of Obamacare invalid. O’Conner is a favorite of the Texas AG’s office–of the many suits they have filed against the federal govt, over half have landed in O’Conner’s courtroom, though there are several dozen federal judges of his rank in Texas.

    Very active in the Federalist Society, O’Conner is rumored to be on the short list for a promotion to a federal appeals court.

  164. says

    Ned Price:

    These words on White House stationary should embarrass all Americans, but Trump’s “confidential” enclosure of the SDF Commander’s letter will give our allies even less reason to trust America.

    Is this a common practice? How much NATO correspondence has been forwarded to Putin?

  165. says

    RFE/RL – “Across Russia, Police Raid Offices Of Foundation Run By Kremlin Foe Navalny”:

    Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny says Russian law enforcement officers have raided 30 offices of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in cities across the country.

    “The cowardly loafers in black hats are running around our offices again,” he wrote in a statement on his website on October 15.

    Navalny, 43, has been one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics for the better part of a decade, enduring multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor’s post.

    OVD-Info, a group that monitors protests and arrests in Russia, said on October 15 that Navalny’s offices in Ufa, Saratov, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, and Novokuznetsk were being searched by law enforcement.

    FBK director Ivan Zhdanov wrote on Twitter that Navalny’s offices in Belgorod, Voronezh, Izhevsk, Kemerovo, Vladivostok, Cheboksary, and Stavropol , were also searched.

    The online human rights news resource Mediazona and OVD-Info also reported that the homes of Navalny’s associates across Russia were searched the same day.

    “The nature of the searches of the supporters of Navalny and FBK indicates only one goal: to cause maximum material damage,” Zhdanov said. “Previously, there was still a goal to intimidate, but this does not work.”

    The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it conducted searches in 30 regions as part of a “preliminary investigation” and that some of the employees of the offices were summoned for questioning.

    “Items and documents relevant to the investigation were recovered,” it said, giving no further details.

    Navalny said that police broke the door in his office in Moscow “for the fourth time in the last two months,” and called the case against his foundation “completely fabricated.”

    Leonid Volkov, a project manager at FBK, described the searches on Telegram as “a terrorist act” conducted by the authorities.

    Media reports say that some current and former associates of Navalny were detained for questioning in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok.

    There were no official statements regarding the reported searches and detentions.

    In his October 15 statement, Navalny mocked the investigation, saying the authorities blocked one of the foundation’s account so they could then send money to it from abroad to make it look as though FBK was being financed by foreigners.

    “Soon, having seized all of the documents we have, they will then hire some people to work with us. From here they will release revelations from these people, make payments from accounts, and investigate the purpose of these payments,” he said.

    “And then, once this is done, they will reward each other and receive extraordinary titles for such excellent work,” he added.

    Last week, Russia’s Justice Ministry branded the nonprofit FBK a “foreign agent” under a 2012 law that was widely criticized by the West for stigmatizing groups with the designation.

  166. F.O. says

    @SC #174
    Thanks for the reading suggestions, I hadn’t heard about most of them. And there’s lots of Italians. O_O
    I only recently stumbled on anarchism and I don’t know how I could be so ignorant about it.
    At school all we did was mentioning Bakunin in passing and that was it.
    Am considering to join some local groups.

    I’m still puzzled as to why it isn’t much more popular as an ideology, repression alone doesn’t seem to cover it.
    I just keep discovering that people I knew turn out to be anarchists, it’s so weird.

  167. says

    BREAKING — Erdogan just ‘dumped Trump’s letter to the trash’ Turkish officials say.”

    Turkish official: ‘The date on the letter is 9 October, the same day we began Operation Peace Spring. Our president gave the best response by launching the operation on the same day at 4pm’.”

  168. says

    From Maddow last night – “Trump ‘doesn’t know what he’s doing or talking about’: McGurk”: “Brett McGurk, former special presidential envoy to The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, talks with Rachel Maddow about the disturbing gap between what Donald Trump says about the situation in Syria and the actual consequences of Trump’s foolhardy decision to abruptly abandon Kurdish allies.”

    I recommend both Hayes’s and Maddow’s full shows last night.

  169. says

    From last week – Daily Beast – “Dems Want to Know: Who Paid Rudy?”:

    A member of the House Intelligence Committee is calling on Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to disclose information on who financed his attempts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden amid a wave of reports that the work has dovetailed into official government business.

    “Rudy needs to disclose his clients for the Ukraine work,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). “He’s up to his neck in criminals and dirty money. Was he playing the President to get himself paid? Seems there’s no honor among thieves.”

    It’s unclear if Giuliani’s finances have been a component of House Democratic investigations into the pressure campaign that the former New York City mayor and President Trump applied to Ukrainian leadership in order to persuade them to investigate the work Biden’s son, Hunter, was doing in that country. But CNN reported that his financial dealings are under renewed scrutiny by investigators following the arrests of two clients, Soviet-born businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, on Thursday for campaign finance violations. And Maloney’s comments suggest that there is an appetite for congressional investigators to better understand the money-trail as well.

    In an interview with The Daily Beast this week, Giuliani steadfastly denied that he was paid for any work he did in Ukraine, saying that he helped Trump on a “pro bono” basis. He said that the costs of his travel were covered by private clients for separate work that happened to correspond with his Ukraine portfolio. Speaking specifically about an August trip he made to Madrid to urge Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian official, to reinvestigate the Bidens, Giuliani said that he happened to be going to the Spanish capital already for “business and vacation.”

    “I have law clients and I have security clients in London and Madrid,” he said. “And that particular trip has not been reimbursed but about three-fourths of it would be business and one-fourth would be personal. The Trump part would be considered personal because I don’t get paid for representing the president.”

    Giuliani also said that he never charged the State Department for the work he did to meet with and talk to Ukrainian officials, including Yermak.

    Giuliani’s private clients also appear to have gotten preferential treatment from the president. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Trump pressed his then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to encourage the Department of Justice “to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Tukrish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani.” And last week, the Associated Press reported that at the same time Giuliani was trying to persuade Ukrainian leaders to launch investigations, individuals with ties to the former mayor were “trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company”—all while touting their connections to Trump and Giuliani.

    “Giuliani is acting as this unofficial envoy at times with the apparent backing of the State Department, so he’s in this quasi-official diplomatic role representing the interests of the U.S. government,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of federal and FEC reforms for the Campaign Legal Center. “But he’s not subject to any of the ethics obligations that would attach to a federal government employee, most notably financial disclosure forms.”

    Fischer noted that one particular area where Giuliani could be pressing the boundaries of the law related to whether he has provided a material benefit to the Trump re-election campaign for which he either was not reimbursed or for which a foreign actor provided the reimbursement. The matter was tricky, Fischer conceded, because Giuliani is not technically working for the re-election campaign even though there are a “number of areas where his claims of personal work intersect with the campaign.”…

    Since this was published its been revealed that Giuliani was also pushing for dropping the HalkBank case and deporting Gulen. As Carole Leonnig said to Chris Hayes last night, the only potential client having Gulen as a priority is Erdoğan.

  170. says

    Adam Schiff:

    Elijah Cummings was the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains.

    He was our moral and ethical North Star. Now we will be guided by his powerful memory and incomparable legacy.

    Rest In Peace, my friend.

  171. says

    Politico – “Giuliani Ukraine associate had checkered past even before indictment”:

    …Before he accompanied Rudy Giuliani to the National Cathedral for George H.W. Bush’s funeral and posted online about dining at the White House with President Donald Trump, Parnas lived a checkered life, often working with fraudsters and others tied to organized crime. As Parnas and one of his alleged co-conspirators head to arraignment next Wednesday on charges of manipulating the American political system at the behest of foreigners, the ease with which he was able to buy his way into Trump’s inner circle provides an alarming indicator of the integrity of that system.

    In March, a Jewish group, National Council of Young Israel, honored Parnas and Fruman with a “Lovers of Zion” award at a New York gala attended by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and Giuliani.

    At the event, public relations executive Josh Nass spotted the two men behind the scenes in a VIP section and, curious about the unfamiliar faces in the small world of New York’s pro-Israel Orthodox event circuit, greeted them in Russian. “These are two typical Brighton Beach thugs,” Nass recalled. “That’s what they look like. That’s what they talk like. I was talking to them in that sort of slang. That’s why they liked me.”

    The conversation did not get very far before Parnas’ phone began to ring, and Nass glanced down to see that the caller ID was flashing Giuliani’s name. “I was aghast,” he said, unable to fathom how the man knew the president’s personal lawyer. “You should have seen my face.”

    Much more at the link. You really have to read the whole thing. Kenneth McCallion, described in #274 above, was interviewed by Maddow last night. He told her he’d known of Parnas and Fruman as low-level criminals and took note when they started flashing around large sums of money and parroting Kremlin political disinformation. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if they were being funded by Firtash.

  172. says

    Here’s a link to Sondland’s prepared testimony.

    Politico – “Gordon Sondland to break from Trump in impeachment testimony”:

    Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, plans to break sharply from President Donald Trump on Thursday, telling House impeachment investigators that he opposed the president’s request to run Ukraine policy through his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

    “We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland will tell congressional investigators, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by POLITICO.

    Sondland said he contacted Giuliani anyway at Trump’s direction, and that Giuliani drew a direct link between scheduling a White House visit for Ukraine’s newly elected president and demands that Ukraine prioritize an investigation involving former Vice President Joe Biden as well as one connected to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anti-corruption investigatory topics of importance for the president,” Sondland will say. Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.

    But Sondland added that he did not realize “until much later” that Giuliani was seeking a Ukrainian-led investigation into Biden and his son. And he said any effort to solicit foreign assistance in an American election “would be wrong.”

    He also said military assistance to Ukraine “should not have been delayed for any reason,” but added that Trump told him there was “no quid pro quo” involving the aid and an investigation of Trump’s political rivals.

  173. says

    NEWS: Following the death of Chairman Cummings, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, NY, will now be acting Oversight Chair, per Dem leadership aide.

    She is the number two on the committee.

    Note: There will be a caucus process to elect a permanent chair at a later time.”

  174. says

    Guardian – “Budapest’s new mayor: my win proves there’s more to Hungary than Orbán”:

    The newly elected mayor of Budapest has vowed to prove to the rest of Europe that there is more to Hungary than the politics of its far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

    Gergely Karácsony, 44, who stood on a platform of a greener and fairer Budapest, won Sunday’s election with more than 50% of the vote, beating Orbán’s candidate despite a concerted campaign against him in government-friendly media and a threat that some federal funding would be withdrawn if Karácsony won.

    The opposition also won a number of other Hungarian cities, in the first electoral setback for Orbán in more than a decade. Orbán’s Fidesz won its third consecutive term in office at parliamentary elections last year and controls much of the country’s media landscape.

    “We have destroyed the myth that Fidesz is unbeatable, and this has massive significance for the whole country,” Karácsony said in an interview on Thursday morning at a central Budapest cafe before he cycled to city hall for an official handover ceremony.

    Karácsony said once he took office he would increase cooperation with the liberal mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, and other central European mayors to counterbalance the confrontational stance that Hungarian and Polish governments have taken with Brussels in recent years.

    “The governments of these countries are taking us away from the core of Europe, when this is the region that should be the most interested in not having a two-tier Europe,” he said.

    On his first day in office on Friday, Karácsony plans to send two letters, one to Orbán asking for a meeting, and the other to the rector of Central European University asking the institution to keep as many courses as possible in Budapest.

    The university, which teaches master’s degrees in English to students from across the world, has been forced to move some of its courses to Vienna after the government refused to accredit it to issue US degrees in Hungary. The university was founded by the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, whom Orbán’s government has depicted as an enemy who wants to destroy the country.

    Karácsony said that while he had no power to change the legal framework, he would assure CEU it was welcome in the city and would propose the establishment of a new scientific academy devoted to research and innovation based at the university.

    He said priorities for his first year in charge were to improve the social safety net for low-income families, divert more funding to homeless shelters and make improvements to public transport. He has promised to boost Budapest’s green credentials and to attend the city’s annual pride march.

    Karácsony said people in Budapest and other big cities were no different to other Hungarians but had access to “a totally different media landscape” that helped to puncture government propaganda.

  175. says

    Guardian – “Chaos in Hong Kong chamber over violent attack on activist”:

    The Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, has again been forced from the legislative chamber because of protests by opposition members after a violent attack on a leader of the nearly five-month-old protest movement.

    Pro-democracy lawmakers shouted and waved placards depicting Lam with bloodied hands, prompting their removal by guards and the suspension of proceedings.

    A day earlier, Lam was forced to abandon an annual policy address in the chamber, later delivering it by television.

    Disruption in the chamber and the attack on Wednesday night on Jimmy Sham by assailants wielding hammers and knives marked the latest dramatic turn in the unrest that has rocked the city since June.

    Sham has been one of the public faces of the protest movement as a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organised large demonstrations. He was on his way to an evening meeting in Kowloon district when four or five attackers pounced on him, leaving him with bloody head injuries but conscious, the Front said on its Facebook page.

    It suggested the assault was politically motivated, linked “to a spreading political terror in order to threaten and inhibit the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights”.

    Mo and other opposition legislators on Thursday suggested the attack on Sham may have been designed to deter others from protesting, or even to help provide a pretext for the government to call off district council elections scheduled for next month.

    “We can’t help but feel that this entire thing is part of a plan to shed blood on Hong Kong’s peaceful protests,” Mo was quoted as saying for the government broadcaster RTHK. “If you think you’re being peaceful and you’re safe, you’re not.”

    Sham spent the night in hospital and his wounds to the head and arm were not considered life threatening, according to the station.

    The assailants escaped in a vehicle and their identities remained unknown, although organised crime elements have long been accused of engineering attacks on protesters and leaders of the pro-democracy camp….

  176. johnson catman says

    re SC @326: Pelosi’s followup questions should have been, “And exactly how is the price determined and what are the arrangements for payment?”

  177. Akira MacKenzie says

    Also, Pelosi should have asked Trump how the troops feel about becoming full-fledged mercenaries?

  178. Akira MacKenzie says

    Well, mercenaries who won’t see a dime of any profits made from the venture, that is.

  179. johnson catman says

    Maybe the “brilliant” plan of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is to sell the services of the US military all over the world. The “profits” could be applied to the national debt. Our troops might even find themselves on both sides of a conflict. Double payment for the win! So much winning!

  180. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Pelosi told Trump: ‘Is Saudi Arabia home?’

    Pelosi says Trump responded: Saudis are ‘paying for it’.”

    Ah! Home is where the paying customer is. Reading a book on the history of Venice. The entire Italian experience with mercenaries should make us think twice.

  181. says

    NEW: Rudy Giuliani has been pushing foreign interests nonstop for the past few years—so why the hell hasn’t he registered with FARA? Here’s our dive:…”

    Thread with TNR screenshots at the link.

  182. says

    SC @293, Trump was proud of that letter. He made sure everybody saw it. That he was proud of that letter shows how deep his cluelessness runs.

  183. lumipuna says

    Re selling security service to Saudi Arabia,

    Maybe the “brilliant” plan of The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is to sell the services of the US military all over the world.

    Honestly, I think he has consistently and deliberately* mispresented NATO in this manner for the more insular US voters. Like, the US is selling security to its NATO allies and Trump is trying to make those allies pay a fair compensation.

    The logic here would be that it’s beneficial and cool for the US to have a super-strong military, if you can cover some of its cost by contracting military services to other countries. And if push comes to shove, you can always abandon your allies and use all that military might to defend US only, in the spirit of simple-minded isolationism.

    It may be deliberate on his own part, or some campaign strategist told him to parrot that line. In the latter case, Trump may genuinely not understand how NATO works.

  184. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 333

    Says @POTUS will make no profit from the event.


    Lyanna, OM @ 336

    Melania even put some gold stars on it and stuck up on ‘Fridge with letter magnets for everyone to see!

  185. says

    What Trump does when he gets (or attempts to get) people to publicly lie and defend and privately to further the conspiracy is similar to when pedophiles get their victims to bring them new victims or otherwise participate in their crimes. He’s been an abusive predator his whole life, and he knows exactly what he’s doing. (I’m not suggesting Mulvaney is a victim – people who are pressured in this way range from victims to complicit.)

  186. says

    “US and Turkey reach agreement to suspend military operation in Syria”:

    US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have reached a deal to suspend Ankara’s operation in northern Syria within 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from a designated safe zone, a Turkish official told Middle East Eye.

    Following a long meeting between Turkish and American top officials on Thursday, the two sides came to an agreement amid growing opposition to the Turkish incursion in Syria.

    The safe zone would be primarily enforced by the Turkish military, and the two sides will increase their cooperation to implement the deal.

    Turkey will take maximum care not to harm civilians in the safe zone, the official added.

    Once the military operation stops, Donald Trump will lift the sanctions he imposed on Turkey earlier this week.

    The agreement also stipulates that Kurdish militants, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG), would have their heavy weapons recollected and their fortifications and all fighting positions disabled.

    “We got exactly what we wanted out of the meeting,” a senior Turkish official told MEE.

    They made an agreement for what the YPG/J would do without the involvement or agreement of the YPG/J? Are they suggesting the SDF would turn over its weapons to…US forces?

  187. says

    Mike Pence just basically announced that he just agreed to demand the Kurds’ unconditional surrender of their land against their will.

    This is the most vile and despicable act of cowardice in foreign policy in decades. Maybe in my lifetime.”

    I mean, they’re not going to do it. They’re just being stabbed in the back once more by the US.

  188. says

    Trump tweeted: “Great news out of Turkey. News Conference shortly with @VP and @SecPompeo. Thank you to @RTErdogan. Millions of lives will be saved!”

    Let me get this straight: we brokered a cease-fire that has the US pushing Kurds out of area so that Turkey can control it.”

    Also interestingly Pence says US will take steps to impose security in area between Kurdish area and ‘Turkey proper.’ So is that zone now also considered by the US to be Turkey in some unofficial way?”

    Are they suggesting that US troops are not only going to stand by while their close allies of a week ago are slaughtered and displaced, but that they’ll be actively in the area de-arming the Kurds and driving them out? We’re now Turkey’s enforcers? What the fuck even is this?

  189. says

    Remember how we spent 10 days hearing the administration didn’t endorse Turkey’s military action, despite Trump acquiescing to it and ordering US troops to get out of the way? Now Pence says the admin has always endorsed Turkey’s military objective.”

    Pence is claiming the YPG/J will “conduct an orderly withdrawal over the next 120 hours.” The fuck they will. Are these people high?

  190. Akira MacKenzie says

    What the fuck even is this?

    Exactly what Erdogan, Putin, and Trump want, that’s what.

  191. says

    Ayla Jean Yackley:

    Turkish foreign minister denies deal with US on north Syria is a ceasefire. This is only a pause in military operations and after Kurdish fighters leave the area only then will there will be a halt in the operation.

    Cavusoglu says the buffer zone will run 444-km long to the Iraqi border and be 32 km deep (again the length of the “safe zone” Turkey has sought). Erdogan will discuss areas outside of that, like Manbij, with Putin later this month.

    The deal includes disarming the Kurdish militia, Cavusoglu says.

    The US will facilitate the 120-hour withdrawal of the Kurdish militia, Cavusoglu says. The Trump administration’s sanctions will be lifted after this withdrawal, he says.

  192. johnson catman says

    re SC @347:

    Millions of lives will be saved!

    The Orange Toddler-Tyrant really has no concept of scale, nor of how horrible this “deal” is. How long before he cedes Alaska to Putin and Hawaii to Kim?

  193. johnson catman says

    The Trump administration’s sanctions will be lifted after this withdrawal, he says.

    So, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant is not going to “destroy” Turkey’s economy after all? IOW, Turkey gets everything they want and the Kurds get fucked (and probably killed as well). And ISIS, meanwhile, is free to re-establish itself strongly. And Putin gets to put down roots right in the middle of everything.

  194. says

    Rachel Maddow:

    (1) turkey wants to push the kurds out of that part of syria.

    (2) trump gives ‘em the OK to invade.

    (3) pence brokers a “deal” in which the kurds… must get out of that part of syria.

    (4) the US agrees to un-sanction turkey.

    that’s a “deal” like being mugged is a deal.

  195. says

    Brett McGurk: “The US just ratified Turkey’s plan to effectively extend its border 30km into Syria with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground. Turkey says it’s the entire border from the Euphrates to Iraq (450x30km) to be controlled by its military forces. Non-implementable.”

  196. johnson catman says

    Let’s see . . . our adversaries in the negotiation got everything they wanted and conceded nothing. Our allies got everything traded away without a say in the matter. The US got nothing but a handful of shit. So much winning! Maybe The Orange Toddler-Tyrant should write a book about his great negotiation abilities!

  197. says

    Akira @341: “Melania even put some gold stars on it and stuck up on ‘Fridge with letter magnets for everyone to see!” JFC! Ah, well, we should not be surprised that Trump’s wife actually loves his bullying nature. Doesn’t fit with her “Be Best” campaign, but it does fit with the general Trump family trait of “no rules apply where the Trump family is concerned,” as well as fitting with the trumpian idea that ignorance is a virtue.

  198. says

    I talked to number of Syrian Kurds to see what they think about the ‘ceasefire’ the announcement @VP Pence. Here is the mood: “This is not a ceasefire, but a imposition of ‘surrender’ as almost Kurdish towns are in 0 to 5 km border line. / Turkey is willing to annex Kurdish lands

    …and clear the historically Kurdish lands from the Kurds. Settle ppl from other regions there under jihadist groups that controlled by Ankara. This operation is against the Kurds, Christians, Yezidis and intented for complete ethnic and religious modification of the N&E Syria”

  199. says

    I still haven’t seen a representative of the Kurds on cable news, but yesterday Brooke Baldwin on CNN talked to Susan Shirley, the mother of a young man who had gone to Syria as a volunteer to fight with the Kurds and had been killed; and just now she spoke with a young man named Porter Goodman who’d also volunteered with them (and is now, I believe, back in the US). Both spoke eloquently about the Kurds, Rojava, and what’s happening there. I’ll try to link to the video of today’s interview if they post it.

  200. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 333.

    Commentary regarding Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s announcement that next year’s Group of Seven summit meeting of world leaders will be held at Trump’s Miami-area resort, Doral golf resort:

    […] Just so we’re all clear, world leaders who wish to participate in the G7 gathering will now have no choice but to spend considerable funds at the American president’s own struggling business. It’s a recipe for an Emoluments Clause nightmare.

    […] the resort has been in “sharp decline” for a while: “At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income – a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid – had fallen by 69 percent.”

    The venue has especially struggled in the summer months, when it’s “usually empty.”

    The G7 summit will be held in June 2020, which means Trump’s business will suddenly have a lot of customers, right when they’re needed most.

    Did I mention Doral’s “lengthy history of health-code violations”? Because that’s probably relevant, too.

    I’m sure the president’s Republican allies will once again shrug their shoulders. […] They’ll say it’s only a coincidence that the White House is doing a lucrative favor for Trump’s struggling business.

    I’m less sure why they think anyone would find their arguments persuasive.


  201. says

    Barack Obama endorsed Justin Trudeau’s re-election as prime minister of Canada:

    I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He’s a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term.

  202. says

    Followup to SC @365.

    This is predictable: The Club for Growth, a far-right advocacy group, is launching a new attack ad targeting Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), accusing him of being a “Democrat secret asset” who is “plotting to take down President Trump with impeachment.” The commercial will reportedly run online and on Fox News in Utah.

    Politico link

  203. says

    Aaron Rupar:

    Referring to Kurds living along Turkish border in Syria, Trump says of Turkey, “they had to have it cleaned out.”

    Trump slathers praise on Erdogan: “I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdogan. He’s a friend of mine and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because frankly he is a hell of a leader and a tough man, a strong man.”

    TRUMP: “What Turkey is getting now is they are not going to have to kill millions of people.”

    Turkey isn’t making a single tangible concession but Trump is so desperate to create the perception of “wins” that he’s touting this total cluster as a major victory anyway.

    Videos atl.

  204. says


    #SDF leader Gen. Mazloum has accepted the U.S.-#Turkey ceasefire in NE #Syria.

    #Mazloum said he accepted a ceasefire solely within areas of active conflict with #Turkey.

    He does not mention #Turkey’s core demand that all #YPG forces withdraw entirely from the “safe zone” (440x32km).

    So far, #Turkey & #SDF talking entirely different languages.”

  205. says

    Matthew Gertz:


    1) Trump gives massive federal contract to his own company.

    2) Then signs off on ethnic cleansing of an ally.

    3) As his acting chief of staff admits to a staggering abuse of power plot, tells public to “get over it.”

  206. says

    Mick Mulvaney outright admits that Trump held up aid to Ukraine to get support for conspiracy theory

    Since Rudy Giuliani is busy getting ready for likely charges from the U.S. attorney’s office he once directed, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has taken over one of the most vital roles in the Trump White House—confessing to crimes on national television. […] he flat-out admitted that Donald Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to generate an investigation.

    Then, in a moment that you’d like to think came from a sick comedy, Mulvaney tried to make this okay by claiming that Trump wasn’t really asking for an investigation into Joe Biden. He was just asking Ukraine to engage in the pointless exercise of investigating Hillary Clinton. Asking the Ukrainians to indulge the conspiracy fantasy of Rudy Giuliani that Ukrainian officials were somehow connected to the theft of information from Democratic National Committee servers, that they were acting at the behest of Clinton, and that the investigation into how Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort got out of Ukraine with millions in illegal under-the-table cash was only begun to make trouble for Trump. And Trump also wants Ukraine to investigate the idea that a missing email server got up, swam the ocean, and settled down somewhere in Kyiv, carrying with it Clinton’s emails—even though there is no missing email server and never has been.

    “Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server?” Mulvaney said in response to a question. “Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

    Repeating, that’s the acting Chief of Staff admitting that Trump’s previous claims that he held up the military aid over concerns that European nations weren’t paying a fair share was 100% BS. Admitting that it was held up on the basis of a conspiracy theory whose central purpose is absolving Russia of involvement in the 2016 election. That, says Mulvaney, is just peachy. And if you think it’s wrong to use foreign policy as a means of advancing a personal political agenda. “Get over it.” He said that. “Get over it.”. […]

    From Dan Berman:

    Adam Schiff, via @mkraju: “I think Mr Mulvaney’s acknowledgement means the things have gone from very very bad to much much worse.”

  207. says

    From Jeffrey Toobin, writing for The New Yorker:

    William P. Barr just gave the worst speech by an Attorney General of the United States in modern history. Speaking at the University of Notre Dame last Friday, Barr took “religious liberty” as his subject, and he portrayed his fellow-believers as a beleaguered and oppressed minority. He was addressing, he said, “the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; this is organized destruction.”

    Historically illiterate, morally obtuse, and willfully misleading, the speech portrays religious people in the United States as beset by a hostile band of “secularists.” Actually, religion is thriving here (as it should be in a free society), but Barr claims the mantle of victimhood in order to press for a right-wing political agenda. In a potted history of the founding of the Republic, Barr said, “In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order.” Not so.

    The Framers believed that free government was suitable for believers and nonbelievers alike. As Justice Hugo Black put it in 1961, “Neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.”

    But the real harm of Barr’s speech is not what it means for historical debates but what it portends for contemporary government policy.

    The real giveaway of Barr’s agenda came near the end of his speech when he said, with curious vagueness, “Militant secularists today do not have a live-and-let-live spirit—they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.” What’s he really talking about here? Barr and the Trump Administration want religious people who operate businesses to be allowed to discriminate against L.G.B.T.Q. people. […]

    The heart of Barr’s speech is devoted to a supposed war on religion in education. “Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty,” he said. He asserted that the problem is “state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.” Again, Barr engages in a measure of vagueness to obscure his real subject. […]

    a key tenet of the evangelical movement (and its supporters, like Barr) is an effort to get access to taxpayer dollars. […] Of course, the necessary corollary to providing government subsidies to religious schools is starving the public schools, which are open to all children, of funds.

    Perhaps the most galling part of Barr’s speech, under current circumstances, is its hymn to the pious life. He denounces “moral chaos” and “irresponsible personal conduct” as well as “licentiousness—the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good.” By contrast, “religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good.” Throughout this lecture, one can only wonder if William Barr has ever actually met Donald Trump.

  208. says

    New: prosecutor in Giuliani associates case tells judge that the government intends to produce ‘fairly voluminous’ discovery material that includes 10 search warrants, email & other communications from more than 10 accounts and financial records from more than 50 banks.”

  209. says

    From the article to which SC referred in comment 376:

    Last week I attended two memorable events that reminded me why we care so very much about this nation and also why our future may be in peril.

    The first was a change of command ceremony for a storied Army unit in which one general officer passed authority to another. The second event was an annual gala for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Society that recognizes past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism and sacrifice to the nation. What struck me was the stark contrast between the words and deeds heralded at those events — and the words and deeds emanating from the White House.

    On the parade field at Fort Bragg, N.C., where tens of thousands of soldiers have marched either preparing to go to war or returning from it, the two generals, highly decorated, impeccably dressed, cleareyed and strong of character, were humbled by the moment. […]

    the most poignant recognition that evening was for a young female sailor who had been killed in Syria serving alongside our allies in the fight against ISIS. Her husband, a former Army Green Beret, accepted the award on her behalf. Like so many that came before her, she had answered the nation’s call and willingly put her life in harm’s way.

    […] beneath the outward sense of hope and duty that I witnessed at these two events, there was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.

    These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”

    […] It is easy to destroy an organization if you have no appreciation for what makes that organization great. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate. […]

    […] if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states? […]

    If we hope to continue to lead the world and inspire a new generation of young men and women to our cause, then we must embrace these values now more than ever.

    And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.

  210. says

    Okay it’s a bit confusing but apparently Mazloum Kobane is saying they’re accepting a ceasefire where the battles are, but they’ve not accepted this ridiculous ‘ceasefire’ Pence came up with that would basically hand over the whole of Rojava to Turkey.”

    It seems possible that the US told the Kurds and other countries the deal would be one thing and then agreed to something different in Turkey. Gen. Mazloum is not talking about the same agreement, and refers more than once to international pressure on Turkey to bring about the ceasefire.

  211. says

    Guardian – “Americans becoming less Christian as over a quarter follow no religion”:

    The United States is becoming a less Christian country, and the decline in religious affiliation is particularly rapid among younger Americans, new figures show.

    The proportion of US adults who describe themselves as Christian has fallen to two-thirds, a drop of 12 percentage points over the past decade, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

    Over the same period, the proportion of those describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” has risen by 17 percentage points to more than a quarter of the adult population.

    Although churches and faith movements continue to exert strong political influence on the Trump administration and at the state level, the proportion of American adults attending religious services has declined.

    The proportion of US adults who are white born-again or evangelical Protestants – the religious group which strives hardest to see its political agenda adopted – is now 16%, down from 19% a decade ago.

    The fall in religious identification and activity has affected both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. According to Pew, 43% of adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And 20% are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

    Fewer than half of millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians; four in 10 are religious “nones”, and 9% identify with non-Christian faiths.

    Pew’s report, released on Thursday, says the decline of Christian communities is continuing at a rapid pace.

    “Religious ‘nones’ have grown across multiple demographic groups: white people, black people and Hispanics; men and women; all regions of the country; and among college graduates and those with lower levels of educational attainment.

    “Religious ‘nones’ are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions. And although the religiously unaffiliated are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults,” the report said….

  212. tomh says

    CBS News
    Rick Perry resigning as energy secretary

    Energy Secretary Rick Perry notified President Trump Thursday that he plans to resign, two administration sources familiar with the matter tell CBS News. Perry, one of the longest-serving members of the president’s cabinet, had become embroiled in the Ukraine scandal engulfing the administration.

  213. says

    Walter Shaub: “In case it’s not clear from my freaking out, this G-7 thing is an escalation. It may look from the outside like it’s been corruption all along—because it has been—but participating in a contract award to yourself is different by orders of magnitude. This is a red line crossed.”

  214. says

    Mulvaney ON TAPE:
    ‘Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely…. that’s it. That’s why we held up the $$’.

    Now he says: ‘There was absolutely no quid pro quo.. Prez never told me to withhold $$’.”

  215. tomh says

    7:15 p.m.: Former Trump attorney says Giuliani kept a book of all his Ukraine contacts

    Jay Goldberg, a longtime friend and former lawyer for Trump, told MSNBC Thursday that Giuliani has a book of his Ukraine contacts that hasn’t yet been subpoenaed and if it is could be harmful to the president.

    “Yes, there’s a book that he kept of all the contacts he made while in Ukraine. It hasn’t been subpoenaed thus far, it hasn’t come to light,” Goldberg told host Ari Melber.

    Goldberg said he’s seen the book. He said he didn’t believe there was enough in it to impeach and convict Trump, but sidestepped the question when asked if the book will make it look like Giuliani broke the law.

    Goldberg also said he advised Trump in March not to hire Giuliani as a personal attorney and said it’s time for the president to cut ties with the former New York mayor because he’d “gone off the rails.”

    “Somehow he got seduced into the likelihood of high publicity and he lost his sense of balance,” Goldberg said.

  216. says

    Making a fool of himself to give an authoritarian regime free license to engage in ethnic cleansing & then encouraging that ethnic cleansing may be the worst thing Trump has ever done as president. People will die & already have died because of his actions.”

    It’s absolutely the worst thing he’s done. And he can yet do worse.

  217. says

    Julian Borger in the Guardian – “Trump’s Turkey deal hands power to Ankara and leaves Syrian Kurds for dead”:

    The deal agreed between the US and Turkey immediately achieved the priority objective of vice-president Mike Pence’s peace mission to Ankara: Donald Trump was able to claim victory on Twitter.

    The president had unwittingly alienated most of his own party over his acceptance of the Turkish invasion of north-eastern Syria, and was already in the midst of an impeachment battle.

    So when the talks were over in Ankara, the president’s thumbs were hovering over his phone and he turned the usual hyperbole up to maximum. “This is a great day for civilisation,” he exulted. “People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved.”

    The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also scored a quick win. The threat of US administration sanctions was suspended and his occupation of the Turkish-Syrian border zone was given an extra layer of respectability.

    Otherwise it was hard to pinpoint what the 13-point document produced in Ankara actually meant. It was agreed between Turkey and the US, which has withdrawn its troops from the contested area.

    Washington had been in touch with the actual combatants on the ground, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but appears to have sold them a completely different deal.

    The SDF commander, Mazloum Kobani, said he had agreed with the Americans that there would be a ceasefire in two areas about 100km apart, along the border where there was heavy fighting, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad.

    “As far as he is concerned the ceasefire is only where there’s active fighting and he totally rejects the idea of any kind of withdrawal, any removal of heavy weapons,” said Charles Lister, a Syria expert at the Middle East Institute. “So everyone seems to be talking a different language, which can only spell more trouble.”

    The Ankara document envisages a 120-hour ceasefire in a “safe zone” that would be “primarily enforced by the Turkish armed forces”. The size of this “safe zone” is not defined. The phrase had been used to define a narrow strip of land along the border that was jointly patrolled by the Turks and US troops under an agreed joint security mechanism.

    By invading, Erdogan had swept that mechanism aside, but in Ankara, Pence allowed the Turks to hijack the terms to refer to their area of occupation. Ankara said it would stretch 440 km from the Euphrates river to the Iraqi border, and 32km (20 miles) deep into Syria, up to the M4 highway which runs east-west across the region. The Turkish foreign minister said that across that whole area, Kurdish forces would have to hand over their heavy arms and withdraw.

    That is a fair description of Erdogan’s maximalist war aims for his “Operation Peace Spring”. By explicitly accepting those terms, the US signalled acquiescence to the long-term Turkish aim of creating a buffer zone in north-eastern Syria, by removing much of the Kurdish population and resettling the area with Syrian Arab refugees.

    In hailing the deal, Trump not only adopted Turkish talking points but even seemed to embrace the language of ethnic cleansing.

    “They’ve had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there that they couldn’t have. They suffered a lot of loss of lives and they had to have it cleaned out,” the president said. “This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years.”

    So when Trump had boasted “people have been trying to make this ‘deal’ for many years”, the people he was talking about were Erdoğan and his military leadership. Until now no one was prepared to give them deal. Certainly not the Kurds who live there.

    Pence claimed the US would work with the YPG (the dominant Kurdish element within the SDF) to carry out an “orderly withdrawal” from the 32km zone. He even said it was already under way on Thursday evening. But the YPG showed no readiness to surrender that territory.

    Trump’s “great day for civilisation” may not last very much longer than a day or two at best. For its part the US Senate seemed particularly unconvinced.

    The choice of 120 hours for the length of ceasefire may not have been an accident. In five days Erdoğan is due to fly to Moscow to meet Putin. That is where the real outline of a settlement will be hammered out, argued Jennifer Cafarella, researcher director at the Institute for the Study of War. “So basically the threat of US sanctions will help Russia get a deal,” Cafarella wrote on Twitter. “Mazloum is likely betting that the negotiation between Russia and Turkey that will occur at the end of those five days will produce an outcome he can live with.”

  218. says

    Walter Shaub: “Hi. There is no level of corruption greater than a President participating in the award of a contract to himself. We have reached the bottom. If the Senate will not act to stop this, there is no government ethics program. It’s over.”

  219. says


    Turkish military forces and a coalition of Turkey-backed Syrian armed groups have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life, carrying out serious violations and war crimes, including summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians, during the offensive into northeast Syria, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization gathered witness testimony between 12 and 16 October from 17 people including medical and rescue workers, displaced civilians, journalists, local and international humanitarian workers, as well as analyzing and verifying video footage and reviewing medical reports and other documentation.

    The information gathered provides damning evidence of indiscriminate attacks in residential areas, including attacks on a home, a bakery and a school, carried out by Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups. It also reveals gruesome details of a summary killing in cold blood of a prominent Syrian-Kurdish female politician, Hevrin Khalaf, by members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiya, part of the Syrian National Army, a coalition of Syrian armed groups equipped and supported by Turkey.

    “The Turkish military offensive into northeast Syria has wreaked havoc on the lives of Syrian civilians who once again have been forced to flee their homes and are living in constant fear of indiscriminate bombardment, abductions and summary killings. Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives, launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International….

  220. says

    SCOOP: U.S. prosecutors are seeking records from a company associated with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska as part of a previously unreported investigation spun off from the Mueller inquiry.”

    Bloomberg link atl.

  221. says

    Laurence Tribe: “This blatant violation of both Emoluments Clauses is impossible for Congress to ignore in its impeachment proceeding despite the value of limiting the focus to the Ukraine shakedown and the defiance of Congress. It’s good news that this is an easy case.”

  222. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    Mark Zuckerberg’s speech today shows how little he learned from 2016, and how unprepared Facebook is to handle the 2020 election.

    Facebook had a policy that didn’t permit misinformation in any ads. Facebook built relationships with independent fact-checkers, so they weren’t the sole deciders of what was or wasn’t a lie. But Facebook undermined those relationships and excluded political ads from that policy.

    Here’s the thing, Mark. Trump isn’t just posting a lie on his own page for his own followers. Facebook is accepting millions of dollars from Trump to run political ads, including ones with misinformation and outright lies. Ads that TV stations won’t even run.

    Facebook is actively helping Trump spread lies and misinformation. Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once. They might do it again—and profit off of it.

  223. KG says

    My prediction is that Johnson will get his Brexit deal through the Commons tomorrow, despite the opposition of the “D”UP. Most of the ERG will support it – they never really cared that much about Northern Ireland, and Johnson’s deal removes what protections there were for environmental, employee, civil and consumer rights May’s deal included (promises to retain those the EU has are relegated to the “Political Declaration”, which has no legal force); that’s what they wanted, as a prelude to removing all these rights and aligning the UK completely with the US “libertarian” right. Most of the ex-Tories Johnson expelled will support it – they wanted to avoid a no-deal crash-out, ad will want the whip restored so they can stand as Tory candidates. Enough Labour traitors will vote for it to give Johnson a small majority – Corbyn has refused to say voting for it would result in them losing the whip, which would mean they couldn’t stand again as Labour MPs; the suspicion is that he really wants it approved, that his aim all along has been Brexit without taking the responsibility for it.

    If i’m right, a general election is likely to follow before long – the pressure on Corbyn to agree one will be intense – and Johnson will almost certainly win a comfortable majority against a divided and demoralised opposition. Farage will probably continue to denounce the deal, but most BUF voters will back Johnson. The SNP will win almost all Scottish seats, and Sturgeon will request permission for a new referendum on Scottish independence, but Johnson will refuse. Hard to see where she goes from there.

  224. Akira MacKenzie says

    Laurence Tribe: “This blatant violation of both Emoluments Clauses is impossible for Congress to ignore…”

    Congressional Republicans: “Yeah, watch us ignore it, Tribe!”

  225. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #418, when he refers to “Congress” he means the House Democrats, who have the choice of what to include in the articles of impeachment. If they do include it, the Senate can’t ignore it. Senate Republicans can only vote to convict on this article or argue that this textbook corruption in clear violation of the Constitution announced on live television isn’t an impeachable offense.

  226. says

    CNN – “What House investigators have learned after two weeks of Ukraine interviews”:

    Two weeks’ worth of testimony in the House impeachment probe paints a much deeper and detailed picture into how the President directed his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to effectively supplant US policy in Ukraine — and to push the country toward investigating the President’s potential 2020 political opponent.

    The testimony shows that Trump played a key role in the US diplomatic effort to push Ukraine to open an investigation that goes well beyond the President’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that formed the basis of the whistleblower complaint.

    While that complaint that alleged the President asked Ukraine’s leader for assistance investigating his political opponent is what launched the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry — and Trump has focused his attacks on the whistleblower and his “perfect” call — Democrats say the evidence they’ve gathered from current and former Trump administration officials so far has bolstered their case enough.

    And it details a picture of an administration that been struggling for months to deal with Giuliani’s central role in dictating US-Ukraine policy — with senior US officials stymied by Trump’s demand to deal with his personal attorney who had been pursuing probes that could help the president’s political interests.

    Now they contend they may not even need to talk to the whistleblower anymore.

    “The testimony and evidence we’ve received all supports the central narrative that there was an official policy that was very supportive of Ukraine,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat. “There were numerous officials trying to keep that policy alive. But it ran into a shadow policy run by the President through Rudy Giuliani that was designed to advance his personal and partisan agenda.”…

  227. says

    “EU’s Tusk: Turkish halt of military operations ‘not a ceasefire'”:

    European Union Council President Donald Tusk on Friday said the halt of Turkish hostilities announced in northern Syria is not a genuine ceasefire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

    Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture.

    “The so-called ceasefire is not what we expected. In fact, it’s not a ceasefire, it’s a demand of capitulation of the Kurds,” Tusk told journalists in Brussels.

    “We have to reiterate our call to Turkey to put a permanent end to its military action immediately and withdraw its forces and respect the international humanitarian law.”

    I don’t know if anyone has been more transparent about their genocidal and expansionist aims than Erdoğan. He’s not even trying to conceal what he plans to do or the fact that these calls will have no effect. He openly responds with mockery and threats.

  228. says

    NEW: Here is the schedule of depositions coming up next week that start at 9:30am:

    Tuesday: Bill Taylor [Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine]

    Wednesday: Amb. Philip Reeker [Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs] and Michael Duffey [Associate Director of National Security Programs, OMB]

    Thursday: Laura Cooper [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense] (rescheduled, new date) and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman [Director for European Affairs, NSC]”

  229. says

    Owen Jones in the Guardian – “Boris Johnson’s Brexit dream is to shred workers’ rights and social protections”:

    Less than a year ago, Boris Johnson told the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) that “no British government could or should” put a customs border in the Irish Sea; he appointed himself minister for the union upon assuming the premiership; Tory hardcore Brexiteers solemnly pledged not to abandon their unionist brethren. Look how casually their erstwhile allies were tossed overboard: the truth is, they never really cared. What they really wanted – and what Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal gives them – is a chance to shred workers’ rights and social protections.

    This is no conspiracy theory: it is the expressed intention of the Tory politicians championing it. Seven years ago, a group of Tory MPs published a book entitled Britannia Unchained that argued that Britain “rewards laziness”, that British workers were “the worst idlers in the world”, and that “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”. Businesses were deterred from hiring people, they claimed, because of employment laws that made them fear “taking a risk and hiring new staff”. The solution? Repealing those laws – or what should more accurately be described as rights. Three of the book’s authors are now in the cabinet: Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Liz Truss.

    Or consider the defeated Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt, who once championed slashing tax credits for low-paid workers on the grounds that it would make them work as hard as Chinese people. Or, indeed, Johnson himself, who declared that “the weight of employment regulation is now back-breaking”, singling out “the collective redundancies directive, the atypical workers’ directive, the working time directive and a thousand more”.

    Some of them championed leave, others campaigned for remain, but all are zealously united behind the new Brexit deal. And no wonder. The prize for these Thatcherite ideologues is the abandonment of a level playing field in workers’ rights and social and environmental protections. That, for them, is what a true Brexit is really about. And if it means the Conservative and Unionist party abandoning the sanctity of the union with Northern Ireland and risking Scottish independence, then so be it. Sure, there were some Tories who felt that Brexit was too disruptive, a distraction, more hassle than it was worth, or who regarded the rightwing populism stirred up by their colleagues as rather too vulgar. But if it can allow a race to the bottom in rights that the Tories regard as burdensome red tape reducing the profits of the businesses who bankroll the party, then so be it.

    Those Labour MPs considering voting for the deal should bear all this in mind. If they approve this project of unconstrained disaster capitalism they will betray every value their party was founded to champion, and be remembered for nothing else. If the deal passes – and it could well do so – then Johnson’s chances of triumphing in the coming election will be sharply increased. The new Tory parliamentary intake will be significantly to the right of the current one; with a sizeable majority, it will negotiate a future relationship based on undercutting rights enshrined across the EU….

  230. says

    Today in dangerous fallacies, from the G Brexit liveblog:

    Fieldhouse says the view expressed by Rees-Mogg (also shared by some Labour MPs, who worry that a remain stance will cost them votes in leave areas) is what social scientists call “an ecological fallacy”. Fieldhouse explains: “Just because Labour voters disproportionately live in leave areas doesn’t mean that they are more likely to be Leave voters themselves.”

  231. says

    The US President–who has sworn to an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution, including its first amendment–and his campaign threaten CNN with a lawsuit over news reporting, demands ‘substantial payment of damages’ to resolve the matter.”

  232. says

    Finally, at least the full text of the joint statement @ #432:

    BREAKING: Chairs of foreign affairs committees of UK, France, Germany, EU & US parliaments condemn Turkey offensive in Syria “as a military aggression & a violation of international law”. They say “abandonment” of Kurds is wrong & “deeply regret” US exit + warn of terror threat

    I still can’t find a link to the statement, although it’s an official document. House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel is one of the signers, but evidently his staff can’t be bothered to tweet it. Not like it’s important or anything.

  233. tomh says

    Republican lawmaker won’t rule out impeaching Trump, compares him to Nixon

    GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) offered a damning assessment of Mulvaney, defended career diplomats, and said he’s not afraid of the president’s wrath.

    Rooney said Friday he’s had Watergate on his mind lately, specifically that critics called it a witch hunt before it was clear how bad it really was. He won’t rule out impeaching Trump, he said, before knowing all the facts.

    Rooney said he “couldn’t believe” Mulvaney’s admission of a quid pro quo and his later reversal.

    “I was shocked that he said that stuff. When the president has said many times there wasn’t a quid pro quo. . . . . and now Mick Mulvaney goes up and says, ‘Yeah, it was all part of the whole plan!’ ” Rooney said. As for Mulvaney walking back his comments, the congressman said, “You know, this is a funny business. How in life can you do those kinds of things when you’ve just said it right there on national TV.”

    Rooney also said that the State Department officials testifying in the impeachment proceedings “are not partisan people” and that he’s eager to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton.

    As for the political consequences of possibly voting for Trump’s impeachment, Rooney said, “I didn’t take this job to keep it. . . . I took this job to do the right thing at all times.”

    And Trump’s wrath?

    “What’s he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it’s just what it is,” Rooney said. “There’s a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it. I want to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”

  234. says

    Lindsey Graham:

    I just spoke with General Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria. He appreciates the efforts of the Trump Administration to stop the violence.

    General Mazloum is concerned about the cease-fire holding and was emphatic that he will never agree to the ethnic cleansing of Kurds that is being proposed in Ankara.

    A buffer zone is acceptable to the Kurds but a military occupation that displaces hundreds of thousands is not a safe zone. It is ethnic cleansing.

    I hope we can find a win-win situation, but I share General Mazloum’s concerns. I also told him that Congress will stay very involved and is extremely sympathetic to the plight of the Kurds.

    I hope he’s not giving the Kurds any false hope about Trump, or holding back himself while he tries to cajole Trump.

  235. says

    TPM – “The Big Dirty”:

    And there it is, the other quid pro quo. Notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash would help Rudy and DiGenova and Toensing cook up dirt on Joe Biden. In return, they’d work with Trump to get US corruption charges against Firtash tossed. Firtash has been fighting extradition to the US on federal corruption charges since 2014.

    From Bloomberg …

    Associates of a Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. were working to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden last summer in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani’s help in the oligarch’s legal case, according to three people familiar with the exchanges.

    Dmitry Firtash, charged with conspiracy by the U.S. and living in Vienna, shuffled lawyers in July to add Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, vocal supporters of President Donald Trump who had worked with Giuliani. Around that time, some of Firtash’s associates began to use his broad network of Ukraine contacts to get damaging information on Biden, the people said.

    Josh Kovensky has the full story.

    Here’s a link to the Kovensky article, also at TPM.

  236. says

    Sen Van Hollen: “We’re hearing from our military leaders that they’re furious about Trump’s decision to betray our Syrian Kurdish allies. We just heard from Admiral William McRaven, the architect of the bin Laden raid, that the President is putting our national security and future in peril.”

    Richard Engel is reporting that the Kurds are hearing what Trump is saying about them and they’re disgusted.

  237. tomh says

    Lock him up.

    Perry won’t comply with supboena in impeachment probe, Department of Energy says

    Perry will not comply with a subpoena demanding documents pertaining to the impeachment inquiry, the Energy Department said Friday.

    In a letter to House Democrats, DOE Assistant Secretary Melissa Burnison argued the impeachment inquiry was illegitimate, adding the House had not adopted a resolution authorizing an investigation.

    “Even if the inquiry was validly authorized, much of the information sought in the subpoena appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by privilege and would require careful review to ensure that no such information is improperly disclosed,” Burnison wrote.

    Burnison also reiterated Trump’s position that the inquiry “lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness or even the most elementary due process protections.”

    Perry, who plans to leave the administration by the end of the year, initially said he wasn’t sure whether he would comply with the House subpoena and deferred to his counsel. The subpoena specifically seeks information related to his involvement in the July call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

    Perry has previously said his departure from the administration has “absolutely nothing,” to do with the Ukraine controversy.

  238. says

    Rep. Katie Porter:

    Mark Zuckerberg pre-screened questions at a public event this week.

    Luckily, I have a chance to ask him tough questions on Wednesday.

    Are you a current/former Facebook employee or concerned citizen worried about FB & our democracy? Email me at [address atl]

    For those asking, this is a public hearing scheduled for 10am EST on October 23rd. As always, I’ll be studying before this hearing and thinking hard about the best questions to ask. You can stream the hearing here when it is live: [link atl]

  239. says

    Hillary Clinton:

    When I was a little girl, I wrote to NASA and told them I dreamed of being an astronaut.

    They wrote back and said they weren’t taking girls.

    A new generation of little girls watched today’s historic spacewalk. May their dreams of reaching the stars have no bounds.

  240. says

    SDF: “More jihadists, including former ISIS members dressed up in ISIS uniform, have been deployed to Syrian-Turkish border this morning in preparation of new attacks on border towns despite the announced cease-fire. Aggressors will continue to attack unless there is a guarantor.”

  241. says

    Guardian letter – “An appeal to Europe – stop the massacre of Kurds”:

    There is a word that cannot be spoken in Turkey, and that is the word war. President Erdoğan and his backers are attacking Kurdish civilians, and are calling the military invasion an “operation” – Operation Source of Peace. This shows a blatant disregard for the truth.

    Talking about war in Turkey equals being a traitor. The few free voices there must expect atrocious retaliations: jail, defamation, civil death. No dissent is allowed. The carnage of the Kurds, the wiping out of their independence, their rights, their dreams, is being depicted by Erdoğan as a vital necessity for the Turkish people.

    It is against all of this and against that false narrative of reality that Europe needs to show unity, resolve and cohesion. We cannot abandon the Kurds to their fate. After President Trump’s betrayal, their last resort is to call upon Europe.

    The Kurdish cause must matter to us all because wars are being fought with weapons we manufacture and sell (Europe’s ministers’ decision to ban arms sales to Turkey was a necessary, albeit late, step). It must matter to us all because the Kurds were the only group capable of checking Islamic State’s push. It must matter to us all because Turkey gets money from Europe to halt Syrian migrants.

    All of this must matter to us because Europe, which some would like to break apart, must now show it exists as a political, territorial, economic and, above all, cultural entity. It must show itself to be a place where democracy exists and, even if jeopardised, resists.

    Roberto Saviano, Svetlana Alexievich, Fernando Aramburu, Marc Augé, Martin Caparros, Annie Ernaux, Elena Ferrante, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Hanif Kureishi, Salman Rushdie, Mario Vargas Llosa, Herta Mueller and Robert Harris

    *This appeal was also published by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica*

  242. says

    No #US ground troops will participate in the enforcement of the [“]safe zone[“] in #Syria – #Esper

    The Coalition continues our deliberate withdrawal from NE Syria. Force protection of our troops remains our top priority. No @CJTFOIR ground forces will participate in the enforcement of the safe zone, however, we will remain in communication with both Turkey and the SDF-@OIRSpox”

    Inherent Resolve.

  243. says

    On the Letwin Amendment:

    Govt los[]es.

    Ayes: 322
    Noes: 306

    The Letwin amendment has passed. Johnson will have to request an extension of Article 50 by 11pm tonight.

    Deafening, endless roar from crowd outside.

    Johnson gets up. He might even pull the vote right now.”

  244. says

    “…Sounds deflated. Defeated.

    “The opportunity to have a meaningful vote has been passed up.”

    “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU. And neither does the law compel me to do so.”

    Incredible. But he will request it. He has to. Says next week he will introduce legislation to leave the EU.

    Hopes EU leaders aren’t “attracted by delay”. Dangerous position for him here. He seems to be suggesting that he will try to undermine the request he is legally mandated to make.

    Clearly intends to lobby EU leaders to not accept the extension request.

    Corbyn: “The prime minister must now comply with the law.””

  245. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Boris Johnson thanks everyone for giving up their time but says alas the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has been passed up.

    He says he is not dismayed by the result.

    He continues in the strong belief that the best thing for the UK and the EU is to leave on 31 October.

    “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.”

    The legislation will be introduced next week, says Johnson.

    The PM says it was “pretty close” today and he hopes MPs will accept his deal next week in “overwhelming numbers”.

    “I continue to commend this deal to the house.”

    Jeremy Corbyn says that parliament has spoken.

    “It is an emphatic decision by this house …The prime minister must now comply with the law.”

    He says Johnson can no longer use the threat of a no deal crash-out to blackmail MPs.

  246. says

    Ian Dunt:

    And just like that Mogg gets up and just walks out the Chamber. Not even bothering to hear the objections that MPs are making. Cries of “outrageous”.

    Quite shocking. Govt loses vote. Then proceeds to immediately try to ignore it. Does so using a point of order, which places no scrutiny requirements on the minister, rather than a business statement, which would. And then just walks off rather than listen to complaints.

    Bercow: “The apparent purpose of the said motion which ministers are attempting to table is to invalidate or obviate, the effect of the decision which the House reached today. And that does seem most curious or irregular.”

    Pretty clear now that Bercow will kick the shit out of this if he has the remotest possibility of doing so.

    “The govt is not the arbiter of what is orderly. That cannot be so,. And it is not so. And it will not be so. And there can be no argument about that.”

  247. says

    Gen. Mazloum Abdi to AFP: If Turkey is not committed to the agreement, we’ll consider what happened a game between the US and Turkey
    As Turkey prevented the withdrawal of our forces, and claims that our forces did not withdraw,we will consider it a conspiracy against us”

  248. says

    Maddow last night:

    “Criminal case overlaps uncomfortably with Trump impeachment probe”: “Rachel Maddow takes a closer look at the history of Lev Parnas and the other associates of Rudy Giuliani who are facing federal charges, and the surprising access he had to Donald Trump and his son.”

    “Oligarch used Giuliani as means to gain Trump’s favor: reports”: “Rachel Maddow explains two new reports that outline how oligarch Dmytro Firtash pulled a variety of strings, from hiring people close to Donald Trump to supplying the conspiracy theory Trump was looking for to smear his political opponent, to get favorable treatment with regard to his own criminal extradition to the U.S.”

    “Trump Self-Dealing On G7 Summit Would Boost Failing Doral Resort”: “Rachel Maddow looks at the recent struggles of Donald Trump’s Doral resort, from a bed bug problem to drooping receipts, and the unconstitutionality of Trump taking payments directly from foreign leaders to engage with the United States.”

  249. says

    Mustafa Bali, SDF: “Turkish-backed armed groups threaten to behead any ‘infidel Kurd’ they capture on their way to NE Syria. To all those who are worried that ISIS may come back. ISIS is already back to NE Syria with Turkish protection.”

    Video atl.

  250. says

    Guardian – “Erdoğan threatens to ‘crush the heads’ of Kurdish fighters refusing to withdraw”:

    Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish president, has said his country would “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants if they did not withdraw from a planned “safe zone” in northern Syria.

    On Thursday following an intervention from the US, Turkey agreed to pause its military offensive in north-eastern Syria for five days while Kurdish fighters withdrew from the safe zone.

    But on Saturday both sides blamed each other for fighting that has rattled the US-brokered ceasefire.

    Speaking at an opening ceremony in the central Turkish province of Kayseri, Erdoğan said Turkey would “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants in northern Syria if they did not withdraw from the area during the 120-hour time period.

    He said he would discuss the deployment of Syrian government forces in the safe zone during talks with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, next week, but warned Ankara would “implement its own plans” if a solution was not reached.

    Turkish-backed Syrian fighters clashed with Kurdish-led forces in several parts of north-eastern Syria on Saturday, with some crossing the border from Turkey to attack a village, a war monitor said….

  251. says

    Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset. She’s effectively their third-party candidate right now – they’ve been amplifying and promoting her while everything she says and does is hostile to the Democratic Party. Here are two threads on the subject.

    I remember in the 2016 campaign when she was a vice-chair of the DNC. Very early, she started telling stories very publicly about how Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and others had excluded her from decisions about the debates or disinvited her from a debate or warned her not to endorse Sanders, then very publicly quit the Committee. (It seems like every one of these episodes was reported in RealClearPolitics.) I remember seeing her interviewed about one of these claims (I believe it was the one that she was disinvited from a debate) and then Wasserman-Schultz interviewed saying Gabbard wasn’t telling the truth. At the time, I had no reason to distrust Gabbard and came away thinking W-S was a liar. It’s become entirely clear since then that Gabbard is the one who can’t be trusted. This is what she does, same as in this election: she pretends to be a good-faith Dem (candidate) while spending her time publicly bashing the party and the process, attacking the candidates, and pulling publicity stunts like the one around the most recent debate. And all of her criticisms and talking points just coincidentally align with Putin’s agenda.

    Also, pretty much everything Clinton was saying in 2016 about Putin and Trump, which she was widely mocked for at the time, while she was the target of a vast GRU campaign to destroy her and her candidacy, has been shown to be true. And men really need to stop telling her to be quiet and go away.

  252. tomh says

    The Whistleblower Should Not Have to Testify
    By Robert S. Litt Friday, October 18, 2019, 3:07 PM

    The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are both contemplating testimony from the intelligence community officer who first brought to light President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But requiring the whistleblower to testify is both unnecessary and unwise.

    The whistleblower’s testimony will almost certainly add nothing to what we already know—just as Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony added nothing substantive to his written report. The whistleblower’s written complaint is comprehensive and detailed. And as the president’s supporters repeatedly note, the whistleblower has no first-hand knowledge of the events. There seems little reason to ask the whistleblower to repeat orally what he was told by others.

    Moreover, by now almost everything in the whistleblower’s complaint has been verified by documents or individuals with first-hand knowledge. The committees have the memorandum reflecting President Trump’s call with Zelensky, which closely tracks the whistleblower’s description. They have testimony from State Department and National Security Council officials describing the president’s insistence on pressing Ukraine to investigate both the Bidens and the Clinton email server, and his sidelining of career officials who declined to do his bidding in favor of a shadow foreign policy run by political loyalists and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And we have the admission by Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, since unconvincingly recanted, that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo—that military aid would not be delivered unless Ukraine agreed to open an investigation for the president’s personal political benefit.

    More at the link.

  253. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog.

    Today’s key developments

    – The government is to seek a meaningful vote in the Commons on its Brexit deal on Monday.

    – Michael Gove has disclosed the government’s Operation Yellowhammer contingency plan to handle a no-deal Brexit is being triggered.

    – Gove says the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a deal has grown as a result of yesterday’s vote but believes Brexit will happen on 31 October.

    – Labour will back an amendment next week calling for a referendum on Johnson’s deal, the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said.

    – John McDonnell said Johnson behaved “a bit like a spoilt brat” after the prime minister sent an unsigned letter to the EU asking for a delay, and then a second arguing against it.

    Johnson’s letters to the EU and their plan to push this vote tomorrow show a remarkable contempt for the law, Parliament, and democracy.

  254. says

    Vox – “State Department talking points counter Trump’s optimistic message on Syria”:

    President Donald Trump has continuously championed his decision with withdraw US troops from northern Syria, calling the subsequent Turkish invasion of the area “strategically brilliant” for America.

    But his own State Department recently distributed talking points to American embassies around the world that offer a much gloomier picture than the president and his administration have painted.

    “Turkey’s military offensive is severely undermining counter-ISIS efforts, endangering innocent civilians, and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region,” read some of the talking points written by the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and obtained by Vox.

    That bureau oversees US foreign policy in the Syria and other parts of the Middle East, and it sent out those talking points on October 17 to American embassies around the world. US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft gave almost a verbatim statement to the UN Security Council just the day before they were sent out to embassies.

    This goes to show that while Trump may be happy with this Syria decision, his own administration is worried about the consequences. That becomes clearer as other talking points, labeled “sensitive but unclassified,” note devastation happening inside Syria.

    “Turkey does not appear to be mitigating the humanitarian impact of its invasion and occupation of some parts of northeast Syria,” the cable continues, adding that the administration had “called on Turkey to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law, especially unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure.” That Turkey would look into human rights violations is unlikely, though, as Turkish backed forces are responsible for multiple civilian deaths, including the murder of a Syrian Kurdish politician.

    While the US does seem concerned about these events, it doesn’t plan to do much about them — and it is even discouraging foreign governments from assisting in certain parts of Syria.

    The State Department’s talking points indicate that the US has chosen to withdraw civilian personnel from Syria, including humanitarian and stabilization assistance advisers that help ease suffering in war-torn countries. However, they do say the US remains “committed” to these programs and “will continue to monitor programs remotely as we do in other conflicts afflicted areas of the world.”

    The removal of the personnel makes all that difficult, though. State’s points go on to highlight the $50 million in aid the US plans to distribute for “the protection of human rights and accountability” in Syria, but it’s unclear who on the ground can ensure the proper and effective use of the money. That’s likely why the talking points ask “donor governments to contribute additional funding to support stabilization programming to secure the enduring defeat of ISIS” and other humanitarian aid.

    Despite asking for other nations to contribute this funding, the US also is apparently asking other countries to limit their generosity: “With the exception of emergency relief and humanitarian assistance, the United States will not provide any stabilization or reconstruction funds in areas under Turkish of Syrian Regime control; we urge you to do the same.” This part, it should be said, is consistent with the administration’s stance that Americans allies and partners should have no ties with the Syrian regime.

    But put together, the US is saying that Turkey’s incursion is making the lasting defeat of ISIS harder, the humanitarian situation in the region worse, and that no government should offer financial support for the most afflicted areas — unless they mainly help the fight against ISIS.

    One can only imagine the reaction in foreign capitals as their American counterparts deliver the message, especially as Trump brags about his decision 11 days ago that let all this happen in the first place.

    It’s worth noting that these talking points came out hours before the US helped broker a ceasefire between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces that days later doesn’t seem to be holding very well….

    However, a State Department official told me the talking points have yet to be updated since the ceasefire, which means these are the main messages American diplomats continue to relay around the world….

  255. says

    Bill Browder: “When I pointed out that Tulsi Gabbard was one of the few members of Congress who voted against the Magnitsky Act in 2016, this is what shows up in my Twitter replies:…” (The tweet reads: “Hopefully Trump hands you over to Putin.”)

  256. tomh says

    Is there a worse sycophant than Lindsay Graham?

    Syria critic Lindsey Graham reverses stance, says Trump’s policy could succeed

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump’s decision to move U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, said on Sunday he now believed “historic solutions” were possible.

    In an interview with Fox News Channel, Graham said a conversation he had with Trump over the weekend had fueled his optimism that a solution could be reached where the security of Turkey and the Kurds was guaranteed and fighters from Islamic State contained.

    “I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years if we play our cards right,” Graham said.

    More doubletalk at the link.

  257. says

    Update – AP – “Trump scraps plan to host G-7 at his Doral golf resort”:

    Responding to stinging criticism, President Donald Trump has abruptly reversed his plan to hold the next year’s Group of Seven world leaders’ meeting at his Doral golf resort in Florida.

    “I think he knows,” his acting chief of staff said Sunday, “people think it looks lousy.”

    Trump announced a rare backtrack Saturday night after facing accusations that he was using the presidency to enrich himself by hosting the international summit at the private resort owned by his family.

    “Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020,” Trump tweeted. He said his administration “will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”

    The striking reversal raises further doubts about the position of the Republican president’s top aide, Mick Mulvaney, who held a news conference Thursday announcing the choice of Doral for the summit. He insisted his staff had concluded it was “far and away the best physical facility.” Mulvaney said the White House reached that determination after visiting 10 sites across the country.

    Mulvaney on Sunday claimed that Trump was “honestly surprised at the level of pushback” after the Doral announcement. “At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday.”

    “He wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could and he was very confident in doing that at Doral,” the acting chief of staff said.

    Days after being the face of the selection, Mulvaney again held a national stage, but this time said: ”“I think it’s the right decision to change.”

    Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Trump’s reversal Saturday “is a bow to reality, but does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with.”…

    I’m glad this was scrapped fairly quickly – was tired of reading chyrons like “Trump resort to host…” and serious discussions about the awkward position this put the G-7 leaders in. It wasn’t going to happen.

  258. says

    Raab: workers rights are so important that we took them out of the legally binding agreement to discuss separately


    One person responded with this Labour video about Raab.

    They continue to blatantly lie about regulations. Many of the FB ads created by AIQ in 2016 were like “The EU is stopping us from saving polar bears!” and “The EU keeps us from preventing animal abuse!”

    From Friday’s G liveblog:

    Johnson also insisted the agreement did not signal a “race to the bottom”.

    There’s some good language in the level playing field stuff, in the political declaration about this country’s ambitions on the environment and on social protection you know we’re world leaders in this stuff, there are ways in which we want to go further than the EU.

    Under the freedoms that we will win it will be possible for instance for the UK to ban the export of live animals, which has caused offence over many years in this country and we can do all things differently to a higher standard and our aspirations to high levels of protection will be enshrined in the political declaration.

    It’s really the most transparent bullshit.

  259. says

    Courthouse News – “Feds Admit 1,250 More Immigrant Children Were Separated From Parents”:

    The federal government likely separated an additional 1,250 immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border before formally announcing its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, a Health and Human Services official told a federal judge Friday.

    Health and Human Services Cmdr. Jonathan White told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw he believes a “final accounting” would show at least 1,250 additional kids have been separated from their parents before Sabraw issued an injunction stopping the family separation practice.

    The additional separations will likely be confirmed before an Oct. 25 deadline set by Sabraw in the expanded family separation class action he’s presiding over in the