Tag: Pelosi

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction

If you feel you’re living in an alternative universe, you can be excused. By all normal standards, up has become down and down has become up. Some of us have seen this coming for a very long time, but for others, it has crept up on them, slowly, slowly, but surely, surely. And still others persist in thinking things remain normal, which says how readily people can be misled by a slight of hand while the other hand of those in power is busy about creating the black magic, assisted by more than a little deceit by their lackeys in the corrupt mass media.

The alleged revelations that came out this week in the new book by professional “It’s Worse Than Watergate” profiteer Bob Woodward and long-time Washington Post reporter Robert Costa help cement the idea that up and down have been reversed. The book’s title, Peril, may be accurate, but for reasons other than the authors intend.

Now let me say at the outset that I am not assuming that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley is guilty of the things he’s accused of, given Woodward’s spotty record in some of his more sensational claims and his use of 200-some (!) unnamed sources in writing the book. And there have been comments made by knowledgeable people who have come down on both sides of the issue. But I do think there should be a full Congressional investigation of Milley and the allegations in an effort to get at the truth. Now do I believe there will be any real accounting? No, I don’t. Already Milley has denied any wrongdoing, without denying the allegations, and Jello-O Joe Biden, looking like a deer in the headlights, has pledged his full support of the general. So much, once more, for respect for the Constitution or the well-being of the country or the truth or the rule of law in this administration, much less the need to perform proper oversight.

I can’t be alone in relating the allegations against Milley to the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. In the film, a renegade general, Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper (shown in the featured image above, played by actor Sterling Hayden), goes mad and takes over a bomber wing and launches an atomic attack against the Soviet Union. If — and I stress if –the allegations against Milley are true, fiction and reality certainly have merged.

The Milley Plot

So what is this all about? Assuming you haven’t been ensconced in an ice cave in Antarctica the past several days, you’ve heard the shocking claims the book makes. Among other allegations, it says that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley actually called his Chinese counterpart in the waning days of the Trump administration and assured him that America would not launch an attack and, if it did, he’d alert him in advance. According to reporting on the book by the Washington Post, Milley made two calls to Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, the first on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the presidential election, and again on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the protest at the Capitol.

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley is reported to have told Li. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

Milley, the book alleges, went on to assure Li that he would alert him in the event of a U.S. attack.

“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley is said to have told his Chinese counterpart.

Milley, according to the book, also inserted himself into the chain of command in ways neither constitutionally nor otherwise permitted. The book says he demanded pledges of allegiance to himself by senior military officials in the National Military Command Center, insisting that they not take orders from anyone if he was “not part of the procedure.”

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If you’re troubled by the mess the Biden administration left behind in Afghanistan, and the thousands of Americans, LPRs, SIV holders, our allies’ citizens, and their families abandoned under Taliban control, this group is doing what it can to evacuate them from the country:

Project Dynamo

The group has gotten more than 20,000 evacuation requests and could use donations to help support its efforts. There is a donation link at the top of the site. I’ve given, and you might, too.

Read more about the organization and its evacuation effort

See the interview of Project Dynamo’s Jen Wilson on Steve Hilton’s The Next Revolution

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Now if these allegations are accurate — as the authors insist they are — then Milley should immediately be removed from his post and face charges as serious as these allegations indicate. While the crime of treason can only be charged in time of war, there are other laws — possibly sedition, or, if there was a real insurrection, this would be it — that apply. Further, one has to ask, given the seriousness of the allegations, why did Woodward and Costa sit on them all these months and not pass them to the appropriate authorities? There is the crime known as misprision of felony, which would appear to apply in this case to the authors.

Naturally — need we wonder? — these acts, again, if true, which in wartime would be considered treasonous, were inspired by the rampant, if unfounded, view that the Orange Man in the White House was off his rocker and would use a nuclear strike on China as a way of — what? — securing his place as President. Milley, according to the book, was egged on by none other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi — speaking of unhinged — who is said to have called the President, and Commander-in-Chief, “crazy.”

The Nexus of a Coup d’Etat

“What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do?” Pelosi is reported to have said. “And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this? You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”

The book says Milley agreed with her “on everything.” And if Milley took his cue from Pelosi, that would implicate her in whatever crimes Milley may have committed.

Never mind that others who were present in the White House at the time, and otherwise in close contact with the President, say the idea that Trump was not in full control of his faculties or planned some sort of nuclear attack is utter nonsense. Notably, among others, another general, retired Lt. Gen. Joseph “Keith” Kellogg, who served as Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, has said Milley “needs to resign or he should be removed.”

Until the facts are sorted, including a full review of the transcripts of the calls and testimony under oath by all concerned, those would be reasonable expectations in a constitutionally ruled nation which, by any means, wishes to avoid governance by military coup. Given the further incompetence and malfeasance shown by Milley and others, from Biden (who, as Commander-in-Chief bears ultimate responsibility) on down, in the recent disastrous withdrawal — surrender is a more apt term — from Afghanistan, resignations or removals would be warranted for that alone. But as I said in a recent post, there seems to no longer exist any sense of shame, disgrace, or even admission of failure in this country, and so far no one responsible for this debacle has indicated any acknowledgment of the massive failure they designed and oversaw.

As troubling, if not predictable, is how those on the left and in the corrupt media, who normally, one might think, would be opposed to military rule, have circled the wagons around Milley, as if he’s some sort of national hero. It’s impossible to add insult or exaggeration to the degraded state of most of the American media, and if the country’s democracy further recedes until it no longer is recognizable, as it might, they bear a large part of the responsibility for it.

If you thought military coups were solely the province of Third World countries, or that a renegade general could take things in his own hands only in 1960s black comedies, welcome to the reality of the new America.

Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper, played by actor Sterling Hayden, from Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. Used under Fair Use.

Gen. Mark Milley, source unknown, from senegal24news.com. Used under Fair Use.

Nancy Pelosi, source unknown, from americanconservativeherald.com. Used under Fair Use.

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Fragging the Commander in Chief

Fragging the Commander in Chief

If you’re old enough to remember the Vietnam War, or if you’ve done some research on it, you probably know the term ‶fragging.″ While the practice predates the Vietnam War, it became an all-too-common practice during that conflict, and the word ‶fragging″ came into the vernacular during the Vietnam War years.

The term comes from the fragmentary grenades that often were used by American soldiers to kill their own platoon and company commanders who were deemed (rightly or wrongly) to be incompetent or abusive, or who ordered their commands (often acting on orders from above) into situations considered especially dangerous. Estimates of successful and attempted fraggings during the war run from 800 to more than 1,000.

If you’ve been watching or listening to what much of the national media has had to say about Donald Trump during the ongoing coronavirus drama, things amplified by the rank-and-file never-Trumpers in the country and so-called ‶leaders″ of the Democractic Party, you might agree that it is not an exaggeration to call what is going on ‶fragging.″ The President could leave the Rose Garden and walk across the surface of the Potomac River, or declare a cure for cancer, and the media would still pillory him. And it’s not just the President who is being hit by the virtual fragmentary grenades being hurled (and who, to his credit, has generally shrugged them off), but the general U.S. populace and, of graver concern, our very democracy.

At the more mundane level, as a former journalist I am embarrassed by the moronic nature of some of the questions members of the media ask at the daily White House coronavirus news conferences. Many of these alleged reporters are simply uninformed and unprepared, while others are clearly out to pose ‶got’cha″ questions that neither illuminate nor add to public knowledge. These questions clearly are part of a larger campaign to discredit the President who, again to his credit, is quick to bat them back and call out their not-so-hidden agenda.

No accident

With the 2020 elections approaching, this campaign is no accident. It’s the last-ditch attempt by the Democratic Party and its supporters in the anti-Trump media (which, in all fairness, is most of the media) to block the reelection of Donald Trump. To them, this is less a health crisis then a political opportunity, as dodgy as it might be. In the aftermath of one failed attempt after another at undoing the results of the 2016 election, this is their last shot.

As I’ve recounted on this blog, they watched their Russia hoax and the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine non-event, and their crown jewel, the impeachment fiasco, blow up in their faces. Along the way there were the Kavanagh confirmation and border stonewalling sideshows. The closest they’ve come to stymieing the President’s program, if not actually unseating him, was tipping the House of Representatives blue in 2018. But without gaining the Senate, it wasn’t enough for them to accomplish their goals, which was to unseat a duly elected President – just one they didn’t like.

Now picture their dilemma. Faced with the unnerving prospect of nominating a Socialist as their party’s candidate to stand off against Trump – architect of the best economy in anyone’s memory – in November, the party nomenklatura huddled, called in every chit in sight and some that hadn’t yet materialized, threatened, cajoled, and bought off every other candidate in the race, threw their compliant media machinery into high gear, and voila!, engineered the primary victories of the only logical choice they had left: A doddering soon-to-be-78-year-old (17 days after election day, to be precise) former vice president who thinks kids still listen to record players and who has a hard time remembering what state he’s in or what day of the week it is. Or, for that matter, even what office he’s running for.

Jill Biden jumps to defend husband Joe Biden from animal rights activist at Biden campaign rally in Los Angeles, March 3

In pushing Joe Biden to the forefront of the race, the party poobahs were counting on the power of reminiscence for a guy who, despite his paucity of any real accomplishments and being tinged with corruption throughout his career, was enough of a milquetoast that he could provide contrast with the brash Trump. What they probably weren’t counting on was how quickly Biden’s mental acuity was fading and how the man was virtually evaporating right before our eyes. Or that their chosen ‶pro woman″ candidate would be accused of rape.

Meanwhile, as the coronavirus drama accelerated, putting Trump front and center before the nation on a daily basis, Biden has retreated to his basement in Wilmington, issuing intermittent, sputtering, semi-coherent blasts, generating doubts (including by this writer) that he will make it to the convention, much less the election.

Even the usual useful idiots in the media have shown, through their facial expressions, their doubts about Biden as he babbles his way through on-air interviews. Don’t believe me. Listen yourself to the clip on that page. Be sure not to miss the part that begins at minute 1:00. It’s hard to decide whether it’s more amusing or frightening. If nothing else, it might make you feel sorry for this guy and question why his handlers are pushing him (often under the protective shield of his wife, Jill Biden) to make these appearances. Listening to these rambles, can you picture him leading a Scout outing, much less a national response to the coronavirus? The phrase that comes to my mind is, ‶We’re all going to die.″

Setting the record straight

It would be an impossible task to address every lie and every distortion put out daily by the media, but let’s look at just some of the biggies.

Myth: Trump didn’t listen to his medical advisers early on which allowed the virus to spread.

Truth: Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has led the country’s medical response to every viral epidemic since the early 1980s, said on multiple occasions in January and February that no one needed to be concerned about this virus. On at least two occasions, on Jan. 21 and Jan. 26, he told media interviewers that the risk to the U.S. was low.

On Jan. 21 Fauci told Newsmax interviewer Greg Kelly, “Obviously, you need to take it seriously, and do the kinds of things that the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security are doing. But, this not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.” Then on Jan. 26 he told radio show host John Catsimatidis, ‶It’s a very, very low risk to the United States,″ adding, ‶It isn’t something the American public needs to worry about or be frightened about. Because we have ways of preparing and screening of people coming in [from China].″ Further, CDC Director Robert Redfield has said he agreed with Fauci’s statements at the time.

Fauci continued to make similar statements all the way until late February, including saying on Feb. 29 that Americans didn’t have to make any lifestyle changes due to the virus. Meanwhile, Trump announced the travel ban from China on Jan. 31 and it went into effect on Feb. 2, credited with avoiding many cases and attendant deaths being brought into the country from China. The kudos the media gave him for that? They called the travel ban ‶racist″ and ‶xenophobic.″ and Biden, without specifically referring to the travel ban, also called the President ‶xenophobic.″ On March 11 Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe, and on March 20 the EU, Canada, and other countries finally got around to announcing their own travel bans. By then Italy and Spain were on countrywide lockdowns as deaths already were piling up in those countries.

Myth: Trump was in denial about the danger the virus posed.

Truth: On Feb. 24, Nancy Pelosi, one of the President’s biggest critics, was urging people to attend Chinese New Year festivities in San Francisco’s China Town. “It’s exciting to be here, especially at this time to be able to be unified with our community,” Pelosi gushed at the time. “We want to be vigilant about what is out there in other places. We want to be careful about how we deal with it, but we do want to say to people ‘Come to Chinatown. Here we are, careful, safe, and come join us.’” On the other coast, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, another Trump critic, and New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot were urging city residents to go about their normal lives. Now who, exactly, was more in denial?

Myth: Trump has gutted the CDC and NIH and eliminated the pandemic task force that was attached to the National Security Council.

Truth: There is so much to be said about all his and the truth is so convoluted I’m not even going to try to detail it, except to say that funding for both CDC and NIH actually increased in recent years, mostly because Congress increased their funding against Administration requests to cut unnecessary positions. There has been no gutting. Read the details here.

Myth: Trump has muzzled Fauci and the other medical people on the coronavirus task force.

Truth: You’d have to be totally gullible and listening only to the media distortions rather than watching the actual daily White House news conferences (which the major networks and some cable networks have stopped carrying, either in full or in part) to believe this one. As in any major crisis-control environment, there is an attempt to coordinate public statements, which is just good management, but Fauci has made it clear that he has never been muzzled. In response to New York Times claims that he had been, Fauci responded, ‶I’ve never been muzzled and I’ve been doing this since Reagan.That was a real misrepresentation of what happened.”

Myth: The Democrats in Congress want to help working people and small business and it’s the Republicans who don’t care about them.

Nancy “Let Them Eat Ice Cream” Pelosi fat and happy while America suffers. What passes for “leadership” in today’s Democratic Party.

Truth: With Democrats claiming, under media cover, that it was Republican desire to turn the multi-trillion dollar stimulus package into a corporate slush fund, the main reason why Congress couldn’t quickly agree to get aid to millions of laid off American workers and closing small businesses was very different. It was because House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy ‶Let Them Eat Ice Cream″ Pelosi drew up a competing 1,119-page bill stuffed with a Democrat wish-list that had nothing to do with the coronavirus or assistance to people, businesses, or hospitals. On the list were provisions to mandate ‶diversity″ on the boards of companies receiving stumulus funds, same-day voter registration and early voting requirements, collective bargaining for federal employees, carbon-offset requirements for airlines receiving assistance, a bail out of the U.S. Postal Service, paying off student debt, resurrecting the Obamaphone program and, of course, funding for the Kennedy Center in Washington. As House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (the same Jim Clyburn who was single-handedly responsible for putting Joe Biden back on the political map) put it in a conference call with his Dem colleagues, This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” Never mind that people across the country were unable to pay their rent or feed their families. This was politics at its abysmal worse (which is really saying something).

Now that the funds earmarked for small business have already been depleted, Pelosi is again holed up in her San Francisco mansion gloating about her chocolates and $13 a pint ice cream stashed in her $24,000 refrigerator, holding up adding more funds to the program while Americans suffer through the biggest financial crisis to strike the country in 90 years. If there was ever more proof of her true priorities, this is it.

The misinformation spills over to hatred

Have no doubt: This campaign of misinformation by the media and the Dems is spilling over to generate further division and outright hatred among what is already a polarized country. You don’t have to look far to see it. To illustrate this consequence, intended or not, here is a random sampling of just a few of the hateful postings I’ve seen online in the past few days (never mind the factual lapses, these quotes weren’t selected for their credibility):

Trump is a mass murderer, period, and any person even considering voting for him should lose their voting rights forever.″

Trump’s response to the pandemic has been an unmitigated disaster, his press briefings are all about him telling lies about how great he is. His approval ratings have dropped. He will only help states get vital supplies if they suck up to him, while they compete against each other for protective clothing, ventilators, etc. He knew from the 20th of January about the risks, yet he did nothing until near the end of March in terms of social distancing. Even his own party wish he would STFU.″

The only political turds in this country are WR0NGIST G0P/C0NS. And only WR0NGIST G0P/C0N turds refuse to see it. You know almost nothing about politics, bro.

the choice is between evil and the Devil Incarnate. the choice is between a lousy crook who has NO vision whatsoever and a racist criminal who is set on destroying our entire way of government, our entire way of economy and our entire planetary environment. I will vote for Biden because not voting or voting for a 3rd party candidate is to give a vote to the Rump in the White House…″

Nice stuff, huh?

Finally, on a personal note, I myself, your not-so-humble correspondent, have been the target of some of this hate in the past two weeks, in what might be the unlikeliest (but isn’t) of places. We have this neighborhood online thing, part of the nationwide NextDoor network, ostensibly to promote neighborliness among, well, neighbors. Along with the usual lost-dog postings and pictures of Bambi in peoples’ yards, some in the neighborhood have had the temerity to post things about the coronavirus, understandingly being a subject for conversation, and within a short time the Trump haters have jumped on and do their best to take over the threads and shut down everyone else. Not to exclusively defend the other side, since both sides put up their fair share of misinformation, but in a couple of cases, when I couldn’t stand the verbal fisticuffs any more, I’ve posted something intended to stop the politicization of what should, I think, be considered a national crisis and suggesting that people consider pulling together instead of apart

Some positive comments were posted in response to my postings, and then the anti-Trump haters jumped back on to spew their venom. They just can’t let anyone who disagrees with them or even has another view of things have the last word. In one case the whole thread shortly thereafter disappeared. But in another case one of my efforts was rewarded by having my post, intended to be conciliatory, deleted and my account disabled. Questioning NextDoor why this occurred garnered the fairly predictable blather about ‶neighborliness,″ blah, blah, blah (and, while it wasn’t applicable to my posting, there was boilerplate blather about not referring to the virus as a ‶Chinese virus″ even though we all know where it originated).

While I was being lectured about ‶neighborliness,″ what about its lack in those who got me blocked? I have little doubt but that the haters are probably still there. I haven’t bothered to go back even though my NextDoor-imposed exile has lapsed. I lived perfectly well before discovering NextDoor and I imagine I can live perfectly well without it going forward. And I don’t need more hatred and venom in my life.

I can survive without NextDoor, but can the country and our democracy survive this continual wave of hatred and misinformation? That remains to be seen.

Photo credits: Featured image: Peter Linford/Pixabay, used with permission; Jill defends Joe, Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images, used under Fair Use; Nancy tells the people to eat ice cream, CBS, used under Fair Use

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

On July 31, 1909, the Milwaukee Road’s westbound Overland Limited went off the tracks and wrecked at Cambridge, Iowa. I’m inclined to see this as an allegory for what lies around the bend for the Democratic Party if things continue to shape up as they are.

It’s not just me saying this. The predictions are coming from both sides of the political aisle, with observers ranging from long-time Dem strategist James Carville to a ménage of commentators on the liberal cable networks, to none other than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the right, echoing similar views.

I’m scared to death,” Carville ranted on MSNBC following the Iowa Democratic caucuses, something of a train wreck of their own. In a subsequent interview, Carville went on to say, “I don’t know. We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about, and we won. And now it’s like we’re losing our damn minds. Someone’s got to step their game up here.”

What has Carville and others so petrified is the rise of Socialist Bernie Sanders as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November, and the overall lurch of the party – and seemingly all couple dozen of its presidential wannabes – toward the far left.

We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.”

Right. Think about it. Plan to do it. Just don’t talk about it. You’d be excused for thinking that’s how politicians usually run their games. But that’s not the only cow, maybe not even the biggest one, lying across the tracks. It’s the ascendancy of the far left of the party, represented by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her left-wing corterie, known as The Squad, in Congress. And it’s the failure of the Democratic establishment’s self-styled savior, former Vice President Joe Biden, to light anything other than a small and flickering flame among Dem voters. More than the chickens coming home to roost, it’s the cows that are coming home to ruminate, right across the tracks.

Old Bernie, backed with a good chunk of the younger vote and others with a weak grasp on the meaning of Socialism or Bernie’s questionable past, eked out a 26.2% of delegate equivalents versus Pete Buttigieg’s 26.13% in the Iowa caucuses (if you can believe the results). And in New Hampshire he came out with 25.8% of the vote versus Mayor Pete’s 24.5%. Not exactly a rousing victory, especially since in 2016 he came away with 60.4% versus Hillary Clinton’s 38% (admittedly in a less crowded primary field). Meanwhile Trump, in the little-heralded Republican primary in New Hampshire, came away with more votes, by far, than any candidate of either party in the history of the state, even doubling the number generated by former President Ronald Reagan when New Hampshire was a far more conservative state than it is today.

The real story of both Iowa and New Hampshire has less to do with Bernie’s numbers as with the crashing and burning of two other candidates, previously considered “front runners” in the contest. In Iowa, both Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden sank respectively to third and fourth place, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hot on their heels. And then in New Hampshire Klobuchar jumped to third place, with 19.9% of the vote, exceeding the combined totals of Warren (from the neighboring state of Massachusetts, from which many New Hampshire residents have relocated) and Biden. Biden didn’t even wait around for the results before bailing on the Granite State and his supporters there and heading off to the Palmetto State, South Carolina, which he has called his “fire wall.” Underscoring Biden’s fall from grace, Sanders’ New Hampshire showing was enough to push him within just a day to the top of the polls nationwide, displacing Biden, the previous choice of the Dem establishment.

Are you beginning to see why this situation could be shaping up as a train wreck for the Democratic Party?

Shades of 1968

Police in Lincoln Park, Chicago
Sihouetted view of a group of police officers as they advance through clouds of tear gas in Lincoln Park in an effort to remove protestors during the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, late August 1968. (Photo by Art Shay/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images); used under Fair Use.

To be clear, let me say that, for a number of reasons, I don’t see what happens in June at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee likely to be equivalent to what happened in August 1968 at the Democratic convention in Chicago. Well, probably not quite. The country isn’t as worked into as much of a frenzy over the political divide as it was over the Vietnam War going full bore at that time. And probably more people, especially young people, have other things to concern themselves with today than they did in 1968. But it doesn’t mean that something along those lines might not lie ahead for the party.

Looking at the lay of the land going into the Nevada caususes, the South Carolina primary, and then Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states and terrirories hold their primaries, caucuses, and conventions, we have Bernie on the left and set to pick up most of the support on that side of the political spectrum. That’s even more likely given the lack of a viable way forward for Warren. Among the more ” centrist” (though not really) candidates, we have Buttigieg, the mayor of a small city in Indiana and a gay man also seen as beholden to Wall Street; Klobuchar, a lesser known senator from Minnesota with a history of abusing her staff; and Biden, an aging former Vice President who has a hard time putting two sentences together, who thinks it’s okay to refer to voters in terms of a 1952 movie on the Canadian Mounties, and whose credibility and integrity has been cast into serious doubt as a result of the Dems’ ill-fated impeachment fiasco targeting Donald Trump. Oh, and then we have another billionaire besides the President, former New York City Mayor (and ex-Republican) Mike “Stop and Frisk” Bloomberg, who thinks he can buy his way into the nomination by pumping hundreds of millions of his own funds into the race. Speak of a field of poor choices. Now are you starting to see more of the problem?

Through the use of super delegates, the Dem establishment stole the nomination away from Sanders in 2016. Will they do it again this year? If you think the party poobahs in Washington and on Wall Street and out in the bastions of Dem power across the land (such as they are) aren’t thinking about it, I have a railroad to sell you. They have seen the writing on the wall about the virtually inevitable demise of Joe Biden. And so, seeking another alternative, they’ve already bent the rules to let Bloomberg onto the debate stage, even though he doesn’t have one actual donor other than himself, donor numbers being one of the previous standards for deciding who gets on the stage and who doesn’t. But any port in a storm, and somehow these people (who have had nothing good to say about the 2010 Citizens United decision) apparently think pitting one billionaire against another is a good idea and good for America. Or maybe it’s just good for them? Am I being too cynical here?

Let’s say the Dem establishment manages to once more steal the nomination away from Bernie. What then? Undoubtedly a significant number of his supporters will either stay home on Nov, 3, or they’ll vote for Trump, just as they did in 2016. But some of his supporters are talking about a third option.

As stated by Kyle Jurek, Sanders Field Organizer in Iowa, “If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC Convention. Fucking Milwaukee will burn. The billionaire class. The fucking media, pundits. Walk into that MSNBC studios, drag those motherfuckers out by their hair and light them on fire in the streets.”

This inflammatory rhetoric, videotaped and presented online by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, must have touched a nerve somewhere out amid Sanders’ supporters. The Washington Post incorrectly reported that Jurek was a mere volunteer, not a paid staffer, and when O’Keede challenged that report as false Twitter blocked his account. Lest you think Jurek is an outlyer, remember that it was largely Sanders supporters who, in true Brown Shirt form, turned out en masse on the streets of Chicago on March 11, 2016, to force Trump to cancel a rally he had planned there that night. Do you remember that scene of political obsctruction by mob? I do.

I also remember, if vaguely, the events of August 1968. If you don’t remember them or were too young to have lived through them, you really should update yourself. If nothing else, you’ll learn there are precedents for today’s political divide, and the divide within the Democratic Party, and you might learn something about the power of the disenfranchised (self-styled or real) to disrupt and make their presence known. [Disclaimer: Following a little 1972 imbroglio with the Rutgers University Campus Police on the Rutgers-Newark campus, I was successfully represented by one Stu Ball, who had been part of the Chicago Seven defense team. Life’s little claims to fame.] One way or another, the chances for a schism within the party is almost fore-ordained. Whether it will lead to the kinds of dramatic events that gripped Chicago in 1968 remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, amid the current churn on the Democratic side, the President is at the highest levels of his popularity since taking office and has every reason to be optimistic about his reelection chances, regardless who the Dems wind up putting up against him.

Who put this cow on the tracks?

While it might take a village to raise a child, it took Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her band of unruly House Dems to help set up the crisis of identity facing the Democratic Party and the chess board likely to lead to the reelection of the President. As I’ve called it in a previous posting, the Dems’ unremitting rage against Trump and their repeated unsuccessful attempts to unseat him and undo the results of the 2016 election is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Cow on the tracks
Cow on the tracks, The Jack Finn Collection; used under Fair Use.

What the ill-fated impeachment did, besides bolstering Trump’s support, was put a spotlight on the possible corruption of Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Hunter’s business affairs in Ukraine and China. In the process, Pelosi managed to take the shine off her party establishment’s front runner and throw the whole process into even more disarray than it already was. All of Pelosi’s antics, like tearing up the President’s State of the Union address – seen by many as tasteless and lacking in decorum – can’t stop the impending train wreck she may have engineered.

After what will seem like an eternity of sound-alike debates, charges and counter-charges, and jockeying (or pony soldiering, if you’re Joe Biden) for position among the candidates, June is likely to roll around in, say, a mere four months, and then we’ll all get to see if the Dem train stays on the rails or runs off into a ravine. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch.

Featured image: Cambridge, Iowa, train wreck, unknown, presumed public domain.

 

Ding-Dong! The Wizard Is Dead

Ding-Dong! The Wizard Is Dead

In the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East is killed when Dorothy’s house, spirited off to Oz from Kansas by a cyclone, lands on her. In 2020 real life, the Wicked Wizard of the East, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasam Soleimani, was killed when he came into the crosshairs of an American drone flying over Baghdad’s international airport in Iraq. Ding-dong! The wizard is dead.

As the Munchkin Coroner states in the 1939 film, “As Coroner, I must aver I thoroughly examined her, and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really, most sincerely dead.”

Ditto for Soleimani.

Just as the Munchkins rejoiced at seeing the wicked witch’s stockinged feet protruding from under Dorothy’s transplanted house, there is grounds to celebrate the demise of Soleimani, the head of Iran’s deadly Quds Force. Unfortunately, the figurative kingdom is rife with naysayers and handwringers, and political divisiveness seems ever-ready in contemporary America to overcome any shared sense of victory.

While it is Pollyannish to expect that there won’t be some consequences in the targeting of Soleimani, regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran’s arcane political structure, it is just as Pollyannish to think that there wouldn’t be consequences were he still alive and having breakfast this morning on Al Rasheed Street in downtown Baghdad.

The havoc and death wreaked by Soleimani stretches back four decades to when, in 1979, he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the Iranian revolution and, beginning in the Iraq-Iran War of the early 1980s, he rapidly advanced within the hierarchy. In 1998 he took over command of the Quds Force, designated a terrorist organization by the State Department. Sometimes called “the world’s number one bad guy,” consider these feats of Soleimani and the Quds Force he headed:

Taking out Soleimani wasn’t just a random act. It followed an attack by Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve, in which the attackers had penetrated the entrance to the compound and burned a reception area. While no one was kllled in the attack, the U.S. responded by sending in 100 Marines to secure the compound, given the failure of the Iraqi government to meet its internationally mandated requirement to protect diplomatic facilities.

There was more involved than the embassy attack, though. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley made it clear that reliable intelligence indicated that a wave of Iranian-inspired terrorist attacks against U.S. assets in the region was being planned and was imminent. And, of course, Soleiman was brazen enough to show up at Baghdad’s international airport, exposing himself to the drone attack that killed him and also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia.

“I can’t talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people should know that the President’s decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives,” Pompeo told CNN. “The risk of doing nothing was enormous. Intelligence community made that assessment and President Trump acted decisively last night.”

Pompeo said hundreds of American lives had been at risk. He later told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the attack also had saved European lives, though he hadn’t gotten the kind of support he expected from European allies.

The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well,” he said.

Milley said the U.S. had intelligence that was “clear, unambiguous” that Soleiman was planning a campaign of violence against the U.S., leading to the decision to attack him. Targets included American military outposts in Syria and diplomatic and financial targets in Lebanon.

‘By the way, it still might happen,” Milley said.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qasem Soleiman
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, left, deputy head of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, right, both killed in the U.S. strike.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei immediately appointed Maj. Gen. Ismail Qaani to replace Soleiman as head of the Quds Force and, predictably, pledged revenge. Qaani said the Quds agenda would remain unchanged.

As predictable as Khamenei’s reaction was, so was the response in Congress, which broke down along party lines. The anti-Trump Dems, for whom the President can do nothing right, were quick to criticize the action, going so far in some cases to say the strike on Soleimani was illegal, though reportedly legal departments at both State and Defense, as well as at Justice, approved the strike.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi complained that Congress hadn’t been consulted on the planned attack on Soleimani – no surprise there, given the tendency of Congress to leak like a rusty old sieve – and she had the temerity to call the killing of the man who had murdered hundreds of thousands of people, including hundreds of Americans, “provocative and disproportionate.”

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called the killing of Soleimani an “assassination” and introduced legislation to block funding of any military action in the region. Most of the other candidates in the race piled on with criticism of the attack.

There was some push back, though, even within the parties. Another Dem candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was quick to strike back at Sanders, calling his “assassination” claim “outrageous.”

“If he was talking about killing the general . . . this is a guy who had an awful amount of American blood on his hands. I think that’s an outrageous thing to say,” Bloomberg said. “Nobody that I know of would think that we did something wrong in getting the general.”

While prominent Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Marco Rubio, expressed strong words of support for the attack, another Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, expressing his libertarian view on foreign affairs, said the Trump administration should not embark on a war in the Middle East without Congressional approval.

As the naysaying and handwringing goes on, and will in the days and weeks and more to come, if there is one prediction that will always be correct it is forecasting violence in the Middle East. If that’s anyone’s prediction, they’d be right, with our without Soleimani. In anticipation of Iran’s reaction, the U.S. is sending an additional 3,500 troops to the region. Soleimani may be really, most sincerely dead, but the seething animosities of the region most certainly aren’t, and there are no ruby slippers, like the ones that passed to Dorothy from the deceased Wicked Witch of the East, to magically bring them to a close. So stand by. Film at 11.

Disclosure: The author was an intelligence analyst with the State Department covering the Middle East.

Photo credits: Main image: Donovan Reeves / Unsplash, used with permission; al-Muhandis and Soleimani images, AFP via Getty, used under Fair Use.

The Hunger Games on Our Southern Border

The Hunger Games on Our Southern Border

If you haven’t read the novel The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, or the other books in the trilogy – Catching Fire and Mockingjay – you should. Alternatively, you can watch the films by the same names (there are four, Mockingjay being broken up into two separate films), or do both. I say this not to promote sales of the books or the films (not that I would object to that since they’re all worth reading and viewing) but rather because you’re likely to gain greater understanding of what has been going on for months on our Southern Border, furthered by the anti-Trump-at-all-costs agenda of Democrats in Congress.

To encapsulate the story line for readers of this piece not familiar with it, the books are set in a notional post-Apocolytic country of the future, Panem, that occupies North America. It is ruled by a wealthy political class in the Capitol (sic), the capital city located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The technologically advanced Capitol rules over twelve impoverished districts (formerly thirteen until one was obliterated) with an iron fist. As punishment for a past failed uprising against the Capitol, every year each district must pick, by lottery, two of its residents, a boy and a girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, and send them to a pageant at the Capitol. The key element of this pageant, the Hunger Games, features a fight to the death between the youthful participants, called tributes, televised to all the residents of Panem. In the end, there can be only one tribute who emerges victorious, the other 23 left dead in the treacherous arena in which the games are played. The protagonist and narrator in the series is the girl tribute of District 12, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (played in the films by actress Jennifer Lawrence).

Without giving away more plot points, the analogy I am painting is this: In this country, as in Panem, we have a privileged political class with the power to rule benevolently or malevolently, to pass laws, to fund programs, to create and change processes, and to create, or not, an environment of civility of benefit, or not, to its residents. And this political class, like the residents of the Capitol, is content to watch the suffering and death going on at our Southern Border, to use this suffering and death for its own political purposes, to point fingers and engage in grandstanding of the most shameless variety, to dither and lie and shirk its duties, all magnified by the megaphone provided by the sycophantic mainstream media, rather than do anything concrete to resolve the drama playing out daily along the border with Mexico.

To be clear, and as I’ve said before: Both major political parties are complicit in this travesty. While I believe the Democratic Party is far more responsible for the current Hunger Games than their Republican counterparts – and I’ll explain why I believe that in a moment — both parties have had chances over recent decades to solve the problems of our decrepit and ineffectual immigration system, and neither has seen fit to do so. At various times one party or the other, when it controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House, could have done the necessary to keep from happening what now is happening. Instead of a relic of the distant past, we could have a modern and effective immigration system, comparable to other countries, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even the UK. But as I’ve said repeatedly over the years, the Democrats don’t want to fix things because they want cheap votes, and the Republicans (though, to their credit, some have changed their positions in more recent years) don’t want to fix things because they want cheap labor. And both have the suffering and deaths, whether of the immigrants at the border or of American citizens and legal residents bearing the brunt of the effects of our broken immigration system, on their heads and the blood on their hands.

Now to lay out why the Democrats are mainly responsible for the current border Hunger Games and how they have used them for their political purposes, at the high human cost of those participating in them. What we have seen is not just a significant increase in illegal crossings of the Southern Border, but a major increase in unaccompanied minors and family units, including minors, crossing the border illegally or seeking asylum at border crossings. While overall numbers are beginning to rival the peaks of apprehensions seen in 2000 and 1986, the change in the makeup of border crossers is putting a major strain on the resources and capabilities of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to care for the children and teenagers increasingly in its custody. And instead of rising to the occasion of discouraging this flow on unaccompanied minors and families, or at minimum providing the resources needed to cope with it, the Democrats have preferred to disingenuously declare there was no crisis at the border and to accuse the President and the federal agencies charged with dealing with the flood of humanity coming at them of fabricating a crisis.

To quote but a few, in January House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis.” This was added to by Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who said, “President Trump just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis.” Piling on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren respectively called the border situation a “manufactured crisis” and “fake.” And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, more focued on relitigating the two-year old Mueller investigation than doing anything to actually protect the country, said, “There is no crisis on the border . . . We certainly oppose any attempt by the president to make himself a king and a tyrant to appropriate money without Congress.”

And then, despite the best effort of the Dems to play down and deny that there was a crisis on the Southern Border, along came former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson who, in May, unequivocally stated that there was, indeed, a crisis on the Southern Border.

“We had 100,000 apprehensions in the month of March and another 100,000 in the month of April. That’s the highest it’s been in 12 years,” Johnson told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

Oops. Wasn’t Johnson given the Democratic play book? Or was he just willing to be honest and say what was going on? After all, border control was under his purview when he was HS Secretary, so one could assume he knew of what he spoke.

And then, in a mind-boggling turn-around, reminiscent of the Doublespeak referenced in George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984, Pelosi followed Johnson’s assertion by saying, “Well, let me just say this. We have never not said that there was a crisis. There is a humanitarian crisis at the border, and some of it provoked by the actions taken by the administration.”

During all this time, the Dems refused to back any additional funding either for border control or to support the increasingly humanitarian duties being foisted onto CBP. As wave after wave of immigrant caravans and random migrants came up through Mexico from its southern border with Guatemala, the Dems steadfastly refused to deal with the issue. It was clear that these caravans, originating in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, were organized by whomever stood to gain from this onslaught of immigrants, and in the process they provided enormous profit and cover to human smugglers and drug cartels. None of this was sufficient to move Pelosi or the Democratic-controlled House to take any action to deal with this mess along our Southern Border. As the President tried one tactic after another to carry out his duties to protect the country from rising illegal entries, all the Dems could do was say, “no.”

According to news sources along the border, there also has been a notable increase in citizens of Cuba and Venezuela seeking to declare political asylum along the Southern Border. Their presence has not been widely reported in the national media, but is indicative of the multi-country nature of the onslaught.

As the accompanying CBP charts dramatically demonstrate, apprehensions of inadmissible migrants – an indication of overall flows, even if far from all illegal border crossers are apprehended – have skyrocketed on the Southern Border (what CBP calls the Southwest Border), even as Pelosi and Schumer and the rest have denied any crisis. In the month of May alone, 144,278 people were either apprehended (132,887) illegally crossing the border, or were found to be inadmissible (11,391) at formal border crossings. In just over the first six months of fiscal year 2019, there had been more apprehensions along the border than in the entire previous fiscal year, with the numbers continuing to mount significantly. As noted, at the current rate, they will equal or surpass the peak illegal border-crossing years of 2000 and 1986.

The biggest growth in numbers, as the charts reveal, are in the categories of unaccompanied minors and family units. These are categories that, historically, have not formed a major component of illegal border crossings, and which have added significantly to the burden put upon CBP. This is further complicated by the so-called Flores decision of 1997, in which a settlement reached in the matter of Reno v. Flores determined that federal authorities could only detain unaccompanied minor migrants 20 days before they had to be released to their parents, adult relatives, or sanctioned programs. In 2015, Obama-appointed judge Dolly Gee extended this limit to minors apprehended with their parents, making it virtually impossible to deport families with children seeking asylum.

There is no question that the images coming from the border are disturbing to most people. Regardless how one feels about the immigration issue, the sight of people in turmoil, crowded into often makeshift facilities, the small children, bewildered and at the will of their elders and officials, and the images of those who have died in the process, should be troubling. Which makes the Hunger Games nature of what is happening all the more poignant. While the political class, led by Pelosi and Schumer and their ilk, dither, the suffering and death go on, all depicted graphically by the media who are all too quick to criticize but offer no more solutions than the politicians. If you go back and look, you’ll see that this has become an annual event, with the same kind of political cover being given the Dems last year at this time. The only difference is that this time, the crisis has become even bigger and the lack of Congressional action to address is even more apparent and harder to cover up.

Perhaps it is the latter reason, which I believe strikes at the conscience of most Americans, that finally prompted the Senate to pass its bipartisan $4.6 billion appropriations bill providing humanitarian aid to the border, by an overwhelming vote of 84-8, and for the House to accept the same bill, without changes, by a vote of 305-102. Even given the current crisis, the House had passed a bill that would have put constraints on the President’s actions, and which he said he would not sign. While Pelosi accepted the Senate version, still only 129 Democrats in the House voted for it, and 95 voted against it, including many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Meanwhile, 176 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, only seven voting against it. The President has said he’ll sign the Senate version of the bill.

In urging her caucus to vote for the Senate version of the bill, Pelosi wrote, “The children come first. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available . . . In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”

Too bad Pelosi didn’t think much about the children six months ago, or a year ago.

Meanwhile, there are those who apparently still prefer the Hunger Games version of events, like freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who idiotically and insultingly compared the CBP holding facilities along the border to Nazi concentration camps, using the phrase “never again” to draw a reference to the Holocaust. And earlier today, touring a Homestead, Fla., facility holding migrant children, Democratic Presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – who has done a good job of turning around the progress that city had made in recent decades before his administration – criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camp” reference, but instead said the facility was “like a prison.” He criticized it because the children were being “marched around,” which made him conclude, “That’s a prison camp.” We don’t know how many elementary schools de Blasio has visited, but in my experience being “marched around” is a pretty common phenomenon in them, and no one says they’re prisons. Reportedly de Blasio went on to make the inane statement that the children were being held there against their will. Isn’t that the definition of detention or holding, but is it even necessary to respond to such stupidity?

The moronic levels to which this entire matter has risen were highlighted on Wednesday when employees of Wayfair walked off the job to protest their employer’s sale of beds to go to detention centers holding migrant children. Using Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camp” comparison, the employees, we suppose, would rather the children sleep on concrete floors than on beds, the lack of which in some cases has been one of the criticisms leveled against CBP. Instead of “let them eat cake,” perhaps the employees’ slogan might be, “let them eat cement dust.”

And while the debate and the dithering and the finger-pointing and the politicking go on, so do the Hunger Games on the Southern Border. Whose child will be next to fall?

Photo credits: Featured Hunger Games image: Pixabay; Girl in line: Edgard Garrido / Reuters; Migrant children: Edgard Garrido Reuters; Children on ground: Click2Houston.Com; Held boy: Spencer Platt / Getty Images; all images used with permission or under Fair Use doctrine