Pablo Picasso Olga in a hat with feather 1920
It will get a lot crazier than it has so far.
• Trump Refuses To Rule Out Government Shutdown If Impeachment Continues (Ind.)
Donald Trump has refused to rule out forcing a government shutdown if Democrats do not stop their impeachment inquiry into him. “We’ll see what happens,” the US president said when asked about the possibility of agencies being shuttered. During the last shutdown in December and January, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed or put on unpaid leave, while others in essential services, like hospital care, air traffic control and law enforcement, worked without pay for 35 days. It was the longest ever. Asked about Democrat concerns that he could shut down the government again if they continue to pursue and impeachment inquiry against him, Mr Trump replied: “I don’t think they believe that at all,”
Speaking on the White House lawn, he added: “I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiations are.” Congress has a deadline of 22 November to reach a funding agreement before triggering a shutdown. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer last week, said he was “increasingly worried” that Mr Trump could hold the US government hostage as a result of his anger with the impeachment inquiry which was launched last month after a whistleblower complaint from the unidentified US intelligence official who was concerned that the president’s actions on Ukraine were illegal and jeopardised national security.
The political agendas of the so-called witnesses.
• Trump’s Impeachment Lures Democrats Into a Cold War Mentality (Maté)
In the case of Taylor, arming Ukraine was a condition of his willingness to serve in the job. When the Trump administration asked him to take the position in Kiev, Taylor recalls thinking, “I could be effective only if the US policy of strong support for Ukraine… were to continue.” Taylor even told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “If US policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay.” No wonder then, that Taylor was upset when he began to hear rumblings that US military assistance to Ukraine was in jeopardy. Another star witness, Vindman, offers a similar outlook. Russia, he says, “has manifested an overtly aggressive foreign policy” necessitating “a deterrent.”
To Vindman, that deterrent is “a strong and independent Ukraine,” which, he believes, is “critical to US national security interests because Ukraine is a frontline state and a bulwark against Russian aggression.” Morrison concurs, declaring that the administration’s policy “was to make sure the United States’ longstanding bipartisan commitment to strengthen Ukraine’s security remained unaltered.” In his view, “security sector assistance… is, therefore, essential to Ukraine.” Given their open dedication to ensuring the continuation of US military aid to Ukraine, it is reasonable to question if the trio’s interpretations of decisions and conversations about freezing military aid were colored by their own policy preferences. As The Washington Post put it, Vindman “told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy.”
While undoubtedly many Democrats and Republicans share Vindman’s foreign policy views, it should be up to the president, not unelected bureaucrats, to decide US foreign policy. Even if their recollections are accurate, the consequence of embracing their collective worldview is worth considering. We do not need wade far into the intricacies of the Russia-Ukraine conflict to know that the position of Taylor, Vindman, and Morrison—and by extension, the entire liberal political and media establishment now cheering them—is well to the right of what the Democratic Party embodied just one administration ago. The very US military assistance that Trump froze is the same that President Barack Obama refused to provide during his last years in office. Obama feared, as The New York Times noted in 2015, that US weapons sent to Ukraine “would only escalate the bloodshed” in the Donbass and possibly “[end] up in the hands of thugs” (a likely reference to far-right Ukrainians, which proved prescient).
“They” as in the FBI and CIA. “Ciaramella has just been hung out to dry by his sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff in a desperate attempt to dissociate himself from the huggermugger within his House Intel Committee that preceded the falsely blown whistle.”
• How Far Will They Go? (Kunstler)
The CIA and the FBI are in a fight for their lives now. The evidence shows pretty clearly that these rogue agencies conducted all the election “meddling” of 2016 and that the RussiaGate hysteria was an engineered smokescreen to hide their tracks and cover their asses when the certainty of a Hillary election triumph nauseatingly resolved unfavorably in the cold, gray dawn of 11/8/16. Despite the chatter about an “insurance policy,” they were quite unprepared for the exposure that loomed. They also badly underestimated the resources of what is now a very sturdy alt.media which has managed to weave the real story of what happened over the past three years into a shocking tapestry of massive subversion and treachery.
A big part of the true story is how amazingly incompetent the RussiaGate coupsters were. Did they really believe they could conceal the ties between their agencies and Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS operation, and its feckless front man, British ex-spy Christopher Steele, and the whole outfit’s connection to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee? Did they suppose they could pass off Stephan Halper and Joseph Mifsud as Russian agents when the two have consorted with US and allied intelligence for decades? The US Department of Defense even holds Mr. Halper’s million-dollar pay stubs and Mr. Mifsud appears in photographs of every Western cloak-and-dagger cocktail get-together of spook officialdom for the last twenty years.
The latest, and most desperate gambit is the UkraineGate whistleblower, a CIA employee blatantly playing errand-boy for his mentor John Brennan and deeply tied to 2016 election shenanigans emanating from Ukraine, featuring his former employer, ex-Vice-President Joe Biden. This shadowy figure, pegged as Eric Ciaramella, 33, may shortly find himself in a grand jury chamber answering for his role in this charade. Ciaramella has just been hung out to dry by his sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff in a desperate attempt to dissociate himself from the huggermugger within his House Intel Committee that preceded the falsely blown whistle.
It’s all the media talk about, but it’s still not a winner. That says a lot.
• Nobody Talks About Impeachment on the Campaign Trail (Atl.)
of the 13 candidates there, just one mentioned impeachment: Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist whose political group and TV ads over the past two years have helped mainstream the idea of removing the president. Steyer argues that his long record of being outspoken in favor of impeachment is a key part of why people should support his candidacy, yet his mention of impeachment Friday night got a warm but not overwhelming response. For the rest, despite all their Trump bashing that the crowd ate up—starting with Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price’s introduction with “Let’s beat Donald Trump and send his ass back to Russia!”—impeachment was absent.
Was that the right call? I asked Janet Petersen, the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate, at the end of the night. “Probably,” she said. Iowans care about impeachment, and are paying attention to the national-security and economic-security issues at stake, “but that doesn’t prevent them from paying attention to things that matter, like paying for preschool.” It’s not that the candidates are going easy on the president. They appear to hate Trump and everything he stands for. The most cynical view is that candidates are making a brute-force political calculation, allowing others to speak up so that they can avoid risk. But Pete Buttigieg claims at least part of what’s going on is that candidates, like everyone else, can’t quite wrap their head around everything happening.
“On some level, you could say that the stakes right now, the level of crisis we’re facing, is so great that it’s almost impossible to speak to it through a traditional political process like a campaign,” Buttigieg told me in South Carolina last weekend. “In many ways, we may yet be underreacting.” Of course, part of being a politician is giving people what they want to hear. The candidates aren’t just guessing that they shouldn’t be talking about impeachment—they have teams of advisers and internal polls and focus groups and months of personal interactions that are telling them the topic gets them nowhere, for the same reasons they didn’t talk much on the trail about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report before or after a redacted version of it was released in the spring.
Even Andrew Yang—the candidate who finishes his rallies chanting, “Not left, not right—forward!”—on Friday afternoon threw in this line as he spoke to the crowd in Iowa: “If this is a game of rock-paper-scissors, Donald Trump is the scissors and I am the fucking rock!” But a few minutes later, marching across a bridge in front of hundreds of supporters chanting his name and his slogans, Yang told me that voters don’t want to hear about impeachment, and that he doesn’t think there’s much point in talking about it anyway. “We have to face facts, where not a single Republican crossed the aisle to support the impeachment vote,” he said. “That would certainly suggest that impeachment’s going to run aground in the Senate and this is going to wind up Donald Trump claiming innocence and vindication.”
We need a special counsel.
• Democratic Party, Not Russia, Has Delegitimized the Democratic Process (Vos)
Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public’s doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party’s subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment’s willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained. The Democratic Party’s bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC, as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment.
Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020. The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred “pied-piper candidate.” One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.
How are they ever going to allow the thing to fly, and who will volunteer to be crew or passengers?
• Ryanair Says ‘Real Risk’ It Will Have No MAX Aircraft To Fly Next Summer (R.)
Ryanair on Monday said there was a real risk that it would have no Boeing 737 MAX aircraft flying next summer if there are additional delays to the return to service of the grounded aircraft. “We have now reduced our expectation of 30 MAX aircraft being delivered to us in advance of peak summer 2020 down to 20 aircraft and there is a real risk of none,” Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a video presentation. “We have already reduced our passenger growth forecast … we may have to cut that again but frankly there is no point in keeping on changing the number until we get more certainty,” he said.
“In July it was reported that Ryanair was renaming the Max as the “8200”.
• Ryanair Says Its Boeing 737 MAX Jets Will Not Fly Before Summer 2020 (Ind.)
Ryanair will not fly the Boeing 737 Max before next summer, the airline’s chief executive has predicted. Europe’s biggest budget airline has 210 Max aircraft on order in a unique, high-capacity configuration, called the Max 200. Deliveries were due to begin in April 2019. But the plane has been grounded worldwide since March following two fatal accidents – both blamed on an anti-stall system known as MCAS. While Boeing has repeatedly insisted that the system will be made safe and the 737 Max will be flying by the end of 2019, Michael O’Leary said his airline will not operate them for a further six months.
He told the BBC Today programme: “Frankly we’ve now accepted they will be delayed beyond next March. “We now don’t expect to get them until summer next year, and then only 20 of them rather than the original 60 that Boeing had contracted to deliver. It’s a big challenge for us.” In July it was reported that Ryanair was renaming the Max as the “8200”. But the Ryanair boss said: “It’s a very safe aircraft, it’s a great aircraft, it has 4 per cent more seats, it operates with 16 per cent less fuel consumption and will enable us to offer lower fares at lower cost than ever.”
Not an entirely new story, but important anyway. And attention for Assange in Australian media is long overdue.
• FBI Tried To Make Iceland A Complicit Ally In Framing Julian Assange (Ind.au)
A minister of the interior wakes up one summer morning and finds out that a plane full of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents has landed in his country, aiming to carry out police investigations without proper permission from the authorities. How many statesmen would have the strength to say, “No, you can’t do this”, to the United States? Former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, in fact, did this — and for the sake of investigative journalism. He understood that something wrong with the sudden FBI mission in Reykjavik, and that this had to do with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Initially, it looked like a simple matter of collaboration against cyber attacks.
Mr Jónasson told IA: “In June 2011 I was told that U.S. intelligence had discovered that hackers were preparing an attack on Icelandic governmental institutions. I was asked if we wanted to cooperate with the Americans.” Of course, Iceland was interested in hearing what they had to say and then the idea was to evaluate whether to cooperate and to what extent. Icelandic police officers went to Washington and American officers visited Iceland in order to map the problem out, but no proof of possible attacks emerged. However, in August 2011, a plane full of FBI agents accompanied by prosecutors landed in Reykjavik. Jónasson says: “When I heard of this, I asked my colleagues in the Ministry if, unknown to me, the FBI had been given permission to carry out police work in Iceland. I certainly had not given such a permission and the decision should anyway have been on my table.”
He then spoke with the Chief of Icelandic Police, having been told a meeting had been planned. Jónasson explains: “I knew that the FBI were on the way to Police Headquarters with the intention to map out co-operation linked to the WikiLeaks issue. I requested that no such meeting should take place and that there should be no further contact whatsoever.” The FBI agents were not permitted to carry out any police work in Iceland. But this was not only about defending Iceland´s sovereignty. According to Mr Jónasson, during this process, he had been informed that the FBI showed up in Reykjavik with the aim of framing Julian Assange. While it would be logical to ask for some kind of documentary proof to this effect, Jónasson is clear:
“I am the proof. When I say they came here to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, I don’t say this lightly, I am selecting my words very carefully, I know what I am talking about. I am stating this in accordance with my word of honour that I knew this was the case. I have testified to this effect in front of a parliamentary committee and in the parliamentary assembly, and my words have not been contested”>
Coverage of Greta Thunberg’s Asperger is all positive. How about Assange?
• Julian Assange: The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek (GR)
Once upon a time, there was a very bright little boy in Australia who grew up as stranger to conventional society. His mother went from husband to husband, from theater to cult, always on the eccentric margins, while the boy’s natural father was left behind. As an adolescent he found his own world in cyberspace, which offered a field for his insatiable curiosity. As he learned about that great world out there and its secrets, he developed his very own rigorous ethic: his vocation was to search for true facts and share them with the public. Living outside the usual social codes, his moral compass was uninhibited by the usual niceties. Truth was truth, deception was wrong, lies on the part of the powerful should be exposed.
The original sin of Julian Assange was the same as that of Galileo Galilei. Galileo sinned by revealing to the people things the elite already knew or at least surmised, but wished to keep secret from the masses, in order not to shake the people’s faith in the official truth. Assange did the same thing with the formation of WikiLeaks The official version of reality was challenged. All lies should be exposed. By far the most sensitive targets of his wide-ranging reality revelations were the lies, the hypocrisy, the inhuman brutality of the United States in its wars of global hegemony. To Assange, these things were simply wrong. At first, WikiLeaks attracted a great deal of popular attention and even acclaim. Julian Assange became famous. He was a geek, but he didn’t look like a geek.
Tall, handsome, striking with his nearly white hair, Julian was something strange: a charismatic geek. He arrived in Sweden with near superstar status. Swedish women contrived to get him into their beds. They bragged about having sex with Julian: he was a trophy lover. But the charismatic geek didn’t know the social codes of the peculiar Swedish forms of virtuous promiscuity. This lacuna was exploited by his enemies in extravagantly unpredictable ways. Julian Assange tried to straighten out what seemed to be a serious misunderstanding before leaving Sweden. But the Swedish side failed to make matters clear and he left for London. In London, he was quickly taken up by the radical chic branch of the British upper class, the champagne and caviar humanitarians. The naïve charismatic geek who didn’t know the social codes no doubt thought he was among friends. He didn’t belong to any political or social movement in the UK, he depended on the beautiful people who for a time found him an interesting outsider, one of their latest causes.
Julian Assange may have been socially naïve, but he very acutely perceived what the imperial powers were working up against him. The totally unjustifiable demand for extradition to Sweden for questioning – unjustifiable because they had declined to question him while he was there and then declined to question him in the UK – appeared to Julian to be an obvious device to enable Sweden to extradite him to the United States, given the total obedience of post-Olof Palme Sweden to the wishes of Washington. Others didn’t see this so clearly, except for the excellent President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa. Correa offered Assange asylum in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange, unconventional, negligent of the codes, but with a clear view of the danger stalking him, jumped the bail set up for him and moved into the embassy.
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