Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News October 27, 2018

Oct 27 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. October 27, 2018: “

Here is a news story that fully bears out my contention that the Idiot Brigade would start hopping up and down, gibbering like angry chimpanzees. Plots, sinister dealings by evil liberals who do not realize that Fat Donald the Groper is actually the Son of God who will finally make America the size of a withered grape while he hops about the stage, spraying stale urine over the front three rows of his worshiping supporters. And there is Maudie-Mae Scringe, sagging breasts encased in an American flag brassier, hopping up and down shrieking “Donald is Pure!” while her husband, Einer Scringe, dressed in faded bib overalls cut off at the knees and sporting a long beard heavily encrusted with months of meal drippings waves a sign calling for the Pope to canonize the Blessed Donald as a saint while displaying a rubber AK-47 hung about  with SS insignia over his head

 

The Table of Contents 

  • ‘I bet $500 they are lying’: Trump fans sceptical about pipe bomb arrest
  • Here Is a List of Far-Right Attackers Trump Inspired. Cesar Sayoc Wasn’t the First — and Won’t Be the Last.
  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 62
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Pittsburgh shooting: Casualties at Squirrel Hill synagogue
  • Why American Leaders Persist in Waging Losing Wars

 

‘I bet $500 they are lying’: Trump fans sceptical about pipe bomb arrest

Supporters at a campaign rally in North Carolina suspect a liberal hoax as police hold avowed Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc

October 27, 2018

by Ed Pilkington in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Guardian

As Donald Trump’s fans gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, for his latest midterm campaign rally, many dismissed as a hoax the arrest in Florida of an apparent supporter of the president as the suspect behind mail bombs sent to 13 prominent liberal figures.As Trump supporters streamed into Bojangles’ Coliseum on Friday afternoon, many soaking wet from hours in relentless rain, the prevailing response to the arrest and charging of Cesar Sayoc, 56, was profound skepticism. At best, the connection between the Florida resident and the president was tenuous. At worst it was an outright lie.

Terry Pennington, 52 and from the outskirts of Charlotte, had waited in the rain since 9pm on Thursday, some 22 hours before Trump was scheduled to speak. He was wearing a camouflage jacket he had customized to read “Constitution Enforcement – protected by the 2nd Amendment”. He had no doubt about what lay behind the arrest.

“I bet $500 they are lying,” he said. “I bet it was a liberal who did it. Have you stopped to think why those bombs were only sent to high-level Democrats? They are trying to make it look like Donald Trump is encouraging terrorism.”

He added: “The truth is, the liberals are the terrorists.”

His wife agreed.

“It seems like a lot’s been planted to make it look like a Trump supporter did it,” said Carrie Pennington, 48.

In her view, the arrest of a suspect with clear ideological ties to Trump was an elaborate distraction from an impending rout by Republicans in the midterm elections.

“They’re just trying to deflect us from voting and focusing on the red tsunami that’s about to hit,” she said.

References to a Republican or “red” electoral “tsunami” were among memes reportedly posted to social media by Sayoc.

Some 10,000 Trump supporters were expected to fill the Bojangles’ Coliseum to hear the president address his fourth rally this week. In his last appearance, in Mosinee, Wisconsin, he called for national unity before returning swiftly to familiar attacks on media and the Democrats.

According to a criminal complaint issued from the southern district of New York, Sayoc owned a white van that was “covered with images including images critical of CNN”. The van also had stickers on it critical of several of the Democratic individuals who had been the intended recipients of the mail bombs.

Trump’s devoted followers in the sports arena were also scathing about that. Kathy Chenette, 62, a realtor from Mooresville, North Carolina, said she had read on Twitter that the same configuration of stickers on the back of the van had been photographed on the side of the van.

“This was obviously Photoshopped,” she said. “I think it’s a distraction against the invasion of illegal immigrants at the border. It’s all set up by Soros.”

George Soros, the billionaire financier, activist and philanthropist, was one of those who had a bomb mailed to his address. In the criminal complaint, prosecutors alleged that comments critical of Soros were posted on Wednesday on a Twitter account believed to be used by Sayoc.

“We just don’t know,” said Tyler Yelton, 43, who works as a landscaper. “Maybe he bought the van already with the stickers on it, or maybe this whole thing is a setup.”

 

Here Is a List of Far-Right Attackers Trump Inspired. Cesar Sayoc Wasn’t the First — and Won’t Be the Last.

October 27 2018

by Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept

President Donald Trump is a threat to national security.

He preaches hate. He incites violence. He inspires attacks.

We knew this before Friday’s arrest of Cesar Sayoc, who has been charged with a number of crimes in connection with more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to the nation’s most prominent Democrats, among others. As my colleague Trevor Aaronson has written, Sayoc is “a fervent Trump supporter.” Check out his van; his posts on social media; the testimony of his colleagues.

I have no doubt that Trump helped radicalize Sayoc. Yet Trump apologists are keen to distance their hero from this particular villain. So too, of course, is the president himself. “We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me,” Trump said at a campaign rally on Friday evening.

“One individual”? Who is he kidding? Sayoc may be the latest individual to have combined his love for Trump with a love for violence against Trump’s opponents, but he is far from the first to do so. In fact, there have been a number of violent threats, attacks and killings linked to Trump supporters in recent years — few of which have dominated the headlines in the same way as Sayoc’s alleged attempt to assassinate top Democrats, including two former U.S. presidents.

Since the summer of 2015, a bevy of Trump supporters, fans and sympathizers have beaten, shot, stabbed, run over and bombed their fellow Americans. They have taken innocent lives while aping the president’s violent rhetoric, echoing his racist conspiracy theories and, as in the case of Sayoc, targeting the exact same people and organizations that Trump loudly and repeatedly targets at his rallies and on Twitter: Muslims, refugees, immigrants, the Clintons, CNN, and left-wing protesters, among others.

We cannot allow Trump’s apologists on Fox News and in Congress to pretend that this was a one-off; that the charges against Sayoc aren’t part of a growing and disturbing trend of violent crimes against minorities and the media perpetrated by far-right, pro-Trump individuals and militias.

So here is a (partial) list of Trump supporters who are alleged to have carried out horrific attacks in recent years — some of them seemingly inspired by the president himself.

Scott Leader and Steve Leader, August 2015

On 19 August 2015, Scott Leader, 38, and his brother, Steve Leader, 30, attacked a homeless man in Boston who they wrongly believed to be an undocumented immigrant.

“Donald Trump was right,” they told police, after beating the man with a metal pipe and then urinating on him. “All these illegals need to be deported.”

Trump’s response? He eventually called it a “terrible” incident but only after an earlier statement to reporters in which the then-Republican candidate referred to his supporters as “very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Eugene Stein, October 2016

On October 14, 2016, the FBI arrested three men — Patrick Eugene Stein, Curtis Allen, and Gavin Wright — for plotting a series of bomb attacks against the Somali-American community of Garden City, Kansas. Calling themselves “the Crusaders,” they had planned to launch what the Guardian said “could have been the deadliest domestic terror attack since the Oklahoma bombing in 1995,” the day after the November 2016 presidential election.

Two of these three men were open supporters of Trump, and obsessed with anti-Muslim, anti-refugee conspiracy theories. For Stein, according to a profile in New York magazine, Trump was “the Man.” Allen wrote on Facebook: “I personally back Donald Trump.” The trio even asked a federal judge to boost the number of pro-Trump jurors at their trial (at which they were found guilty of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and and of conspiring against rights).

Trump’s response? The president, who once suggested that Americans had “suffered enough” from an influx of Somali refugees, has never been asked about these three militiamen and has never condemned their plot.

Alexandre Bissonnette, January 2017

On the evening of January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire on worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City, Canada, killing six of them and wounding 19.

Bisonnette, 27, was obsessed with Trump — he searched for the president on Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube more than 800 times between January 1, 2017 and the day of the shooting. A former university classmate told the Toronto Globe and Mail that he “frequently argued” with Bissonette over the latter’s support for Trump.

In his police interrogation video, Bissonnette can be heard telling officers that he decided to attack the mosque after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message of welcome to refugees in the wake of  the U.S. president’s travel ban — which was issued two days before the mosque attack.

Trump’s response? The president may have expressed his condolences to the Canadian premier in private, but he has never publicly mentioned the shooting, the killer or the six dead Muslims.

Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris, August 2017

In March 2018, three alleged members of a far-right militia — Michael Hari, Michael McWhorter, and Joe Morris — were charged in connection with the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 5, 2017. McWhorter is alleged to have told an FBI agent that the attack was an attempt “to scare” Muslims “out of the country.”

Back in 2017, Hari, who owns a security company, submitted a $10 billion proposal to build Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “We would look at the wall as not just a physical barrier to immigration but also as a symbol of the American determination to defend our culture, our language, our heritage, from any outsiders,” Hari said. Sound familiar?

Hari is also alleged to be the ringleader of the “White Rabbit Militia — Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters, Three Percent,” which has posted online messages about “Deep State activities” and “the attempt of the FBI to wiretap the Trump campaign and interfere in the election.”

Trump’s response? To date, the president has never publicly referenced, let alone condemned, the bomb attack on the Minnesota mosque. His then-adviser Sebastian Gorka suggested the incident might “have been propagated by the left.”

James Alex Fields, Jr., August 2017

On August 12, 2017, a car crashed into a crowd of people protesting a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The alleged driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., has been charged with, among other crimes, hit and run and first-degree murder.

Fields, according to a former middle school classmate, enjoyed drawing swastikas and talked about “loving Hitler.” The registered Republican, according to a former high school teacher, also adored Trump. In an interview with the Associated Press, the former teacher “said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields.”

Trump’s response? The president called the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people” just three days after Fields allegedly killed Heyer.

Brandon Griesemer, January 2018

On January 9-10, 2018, 19-year-old Brandon Griesemer allegedly made 22 calls to CNN. In four of those calls, the part-time grocery clerk from Novi, Michigan, threatened to kill employees at the network’s Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters, according to a federal affidavit.

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” he told a CNN operator. Again, sound familiar? Trump has spent his entire presidency slamming CNN as “fake news,” singling out the network for criticism and abuse. According to the Washington Post, a high school classmate of Griesemer described him as a Trump supporter who “came in after the election and was very happy.” The classmate, reported the Post, “compared Griesemer’s reaction to that of a fan whose team had won a big game.”

Trump’s reaction? On the morning of January 23, the day after the news broke of Griesemer’s threats against CNN, the president took to Twitter to mock…yep, you guessed it… “Fake News CNN.”

Nikolas Cruz, February 2018

On the afternoon of February 14, 2018, 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

According to an investigation by CNN, Cruz was part of a private Instagram group in which he “repeatedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views” and “bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response.”

Cruz also posted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing one of Trump’s signature red MAGA hats, with an American-flag-colored bandana covering the bottom half of his face. Former classmates have confirmed that he also wore the red Trump hat to school.

Trump’s response? The White House has never confirmed or denied whether they received, or responded to, a letter from Cruz.

I could go on and on. I could tell you about Jeremy Christian, who allegedly stabbed two people to death on a train in Portland, Oregon, and said “if Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS”;  or James Jackson, who confessed to fatally stabbing a homeless black man in New York, and subscribed to far-right YouTube channels that support Trump; or Sean Urbanski, who allegedly stabbed a black U.S. army lieutenant to death, and “liked memes about Donald Trump”; or Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who allegedly killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Texas, and who followed only 13 Instagram accounts, including the official accounts for the White House, Trump, Ivanka and Melania.

The truth is that the sooner we all recognize that the president of the United States is helping to radicalize a new generation of angry far-right men, the better.

It would be wrong, of course, to blame Trump and Trump alone for these attacks. Many of these alleged attackers have mental health issues; quite a few of them were also men of violence, intolerance and bigotry long before Trump launched his political career.

To pretend, however, that the president has nothing to do with these violent criminals or their violent crimes is absurd. To compare the sheer number of Trump supporters who have been charged or convicted for attacks and attempted attacks on Muslims or Latinos or journalists with the single supporter of Bernie Sanders who shot Republican congressman Steve Scalise in June 2017 is disingenuous. To ignore the way in which Trump has set the vicious tone and created the toxic climate is shameful.

“It’s time we recognize that Trump’s unique social media presence is a weapon of radicalization,” wrote Republican strategist and Trump critic Rick Wilson on Friday. “No one else in the American political landscape stokes the resentments, fears, and prejudices of his base with equal power.”

The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence. Is it any wonder then that hate crimes are on the rise? Or that, as one study found, “one in five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump policy, or a Trump campaign slogan” between November 2016 and November 2017?

Cesar Sayoc was not the first Trump supporter to allegedly try and kill and maim those on the receiving end of Trump’s demonizing rhetoric. And, sadly, he won’t be the last.

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 62

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Mar 22, 2018

“We have, right now, an $800 billion trade deficit with the world. So think of that.”

Source: Speech announcing tariffs on China

in fact: The U.S. had a $566 billion trade deficit in 2017, Trump’s administration announced the month prior to this remark. The deficit can only be described as $800 billion — $810 billion, to be precise — if you ignore all trade in services and only count trade in goods. As usual, Trump did not specify that he was doing so.

Trump has repeated this claim 30 times

“The tremendous money that we’ve paid since the founding of the World Trade Organization — which has actually been a disaster for us. It’s been very unfair to us. The arbitrations are very unfair. The judging has been very unfair. And knowingly, we always have a minority and it’s not fair.”

Source: Speech announcing tariffs on China

in fact: Trump’s claim that “knowingly, we always have a minority” of WTO judges, “and it’s not fair,” is without merit. No judge on one of the three-judge WTO panels that adjudicate complaints can be from a country involved in the dispute — so while the U.S. doesn’t have a majority of judges, it also does not have a minority. Further, panel decisions can be appealed to the WTO’s seven-member appeals body — on which the U.S. has a judge. “The United States, in fact, has always had one of the Appellate Body members with U.S. nationality, which is very unusual, but it is the situation,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said in response to Trump’s remark.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“But we have a trade deficit (with China), depending on the way you calculate, of $504 billion. Now, some people would say it’s really $375 billion. Many different ways of looking at it, but any way you look at it, it is the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It’s out of control.”

Source: Speech announcing tariffs on China

in fact: No matter how you calculate the trade deficit with China, it is not $504 billion. That number is Trump’s own invention. As Trump vaguely noted, the deficit was $375 billion in 2017 when counting goods alone, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Including trade in services, the net deficit was $337 billion, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said earlier in the month. (The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses a different method of calculating deficits and surpluses than the Census Bureau.)

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“The other thing we have to do, in terms of the drug problem, is we have to be very tough on sentences. And, you know, a drug dealer will kill sometimes more than 2,000 people. Sometimes much more than that. Ruin families, ruin lives. And they get caught; they’ll get 30 days in jail. They get a fine. They won’t even get jail. They’ll get a year in jail.”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: It is obviously false that major drug traffickers whose products kill numerous people get sentences of 30 to 90 days in jail, or a fine and no jail time. (There might be a case somewhere in which there are exceptional circumstances — for example, a plea deal in exchange for information on higher-level criminals — but Trump was suggesting that this is common.)

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“The other thing we have to do, in terms of the drug problem, is we have to be very tough on sentences. And, you know, a drug dealer will kill sometimes more than 2,000 people. Sometimes much more than that. Ruin families, ruin lives.” And: “But these people kill thousands of people over the course of their lives through drugs.”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: Experts say it is obviously false that a single drug dealer kills thousands of people. “While the number of overdose events that included opioids (among other substances) was high in the U.S. last year, the number of dealer arrests is quite a bit higher. So as a matter of arithemetics it probably is not the case that any single dealer has caused thousands of deaths,” said Stefan Kertesz, a doctor and a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who studies addiction. According to federal data crunched by the group Common Sense for Drug Policy, there were 182,048 arrests for the sale or manufacture of drugs in 2016; the U.S. government says that about 64,000 people died of drug overdoses that year. Not all of the 182,048 people arrested for sale or manufacture can be called “drug dealers,” but it is clearly not true that the typical drug dealer kills thousands of people.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“You know, certain communities, believe it or not, like in San Diego, they want a wall. Nobody likes to talk about that. In fact, I said, “Don’t build a wall there.” They’re all wanting it…But they go and they talk so much about the wall. But in San Diego, as you know, there’s a long stretch that is demanding the wall. So I said, okay — they were ready to start. I said, ‘Don’t build it. We’ll wait until we get everything approved.’ Because they’re having a lot of pressure. They want the wall.”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: We could find no evidence of San Diego communities demanding a border wall. (Previously, Trump has falsely claimed that California more broadly is demanding his wall.) We will remove this statement from our list of false claims if credible evidence about San Diego is presented. We do know for sure, though, that San Diego’s government does not favour a wall. Its city council voted 5-3 in September to oppose a wall. The city’s Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has opposed the wall in general — “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September — and has emphasized that his focus is “bridges that unite us” rather than walls.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“So we have a tremendous amount of support. And it’s sort of an interesting thing: sometimes they say, ‘You add nine. Whatever Trump’s poll number is, add nine.'”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: Nobody credible, and perhaps nobody at all, has said this.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Because we’re going to need these people because we have tremendous numbers of companies coming in, whether it’s Chrysler leaving Mexico and coming into Michigan…”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: Trump could have accurately said that Chrysler is “shifting some production from Mexico,” or something of the sort. It is not accurate, though, to say that Chrysler is “leaving” Mexico. The company announced that it is moving the production of its Ram truck from a plant in Saltillo, Mexico to a plant in Michigan — but it said there would be no layoffs in Mexico and that the Mexican plant would be “repurposed” to production of other vehicles.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“But we’re losing $375 billion with China. It could be $504 billion, depending on the way you count. A lot of different ways of counting. But no matter how you count, it’s bad.”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: No matter how you calculate the trade deficit with China, it is not $504 billion. That number is Trump’s own invention. The deficit was $375 billion in 2017 when counting goods alone, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Including trade in services, the net deficit was $337 billion, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported earlier in the month. (The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses a different method of calculating deficits and surpluses than the Census Bureau.)

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“Now, I have to tell you, they’re coming back. Over the last year, we are bringing jobs back. As of about two weeks ago, 153 million jobs. It’s the highest number of jobs we’ve ever had in our country.”

Source: Interview with Charlie Kirk at Generation Next Summit

in fact: This is a rare case of Trump inaccurately understating a number rather than overstating a number. The U.S. had 155 million employed people as of the government report issued two weeks prior, not 153 million. The number was last 153 million six months prior.

  • Mar 23, 2018

“Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The Obama administration did not “legalize” bump stocks. Legalize means to make legal something that was previously illegal. In 2010, the Obama-era Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives simply ruled that bump stock devices are “a firearm part,” not a gun itself, and therefore are “not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.” In other words, the bureau simply said it did not have the power to impose restrictions on the device; it did not choose to make an illegal device legal.

“News conference at the White House concerning the Omnibus Spending Bill. 1:00 P.M.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump posted this tweet at 12:32 p.m. — though he was not holding a news conference at all. Rather, he simply made a speech about the bill. Only a small group of “pool” reporters was let in to the room, and Trump did not take questions until he responded to two shouted queries as he was walking out of the room. We don’t usually fact check Trump statements about what will happen in the future, but we’re making an exception here because he made a false claim about his plans for the next half-hour.

“Last year, we lost $500 billion on trade with China. We can’t let that happen.”

Source: Speech on omnibus spending bill

in fact: Trump was off by $163 billion — and $125 billion if you give him the benefit of the doubt. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $375 billion in 2017 when counting goods alone, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Including trade in services, the net deficit was $337 billion, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said earlier in the month. (The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses a different method of calculating deficits and surpluses than the Census Bureau.)

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“But we’re going to be starting work, literally, on Monday, on not only some new wall — not enough, but we’re working that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences.”

Source: Speech on omnibus spending bill

in fact: The government had no plans to start the construction of any new wall on that Monday. Trump appeared to be referring to a California project, which began a month prior, to replace 2.25 miles of existing wall.

“I can tell you this, and I say this to DACA recipients, that the Republicans are with you. They want to get your situation taken care of. The Democrats fought us. They just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill. And, as you know, DACA is also tied to the wall for the major funding — the $25 billion for wall, and other things. So I think that will be coming up very soon. But I do want the Hispanic community to know and DACA recipients to know that Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats who are using you for their own purposes.”

Source: Speech on omnibus spending bill

in fact: This is transparent nonsense. It is true that Democrats did not agree to the border wall funding Republicans wanted in exchange for Republican agreement to provide a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who have been part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Trump cancelled. But it is obviously incorrect that Republicans are more on the side of these immigrants than Democrats are. Democrat Barack Obama created the program; Republican Trump terminated it. Democrats simply want Trump to protect the immigrants immediately, without conditions; Republicans say they are only willing to protect the immigrants in exchange for billions of dollars in spending on a border wall — at minimum. Trump has previously rejected deals that would legalize DACA recipients in exchange for wall funding alone. Instead, he has demanded that a deal include significant reductions in legal immigration as well.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“We wanted to include DACA. We wanted to have them in this bill — 800,000 people.”

Source: Speech on omnibus spending bill

in fact: Fewer than 690,000 people are currently covered by the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.

 

“And we have, very importantly, a pay increase for our troops. And this will be, actually, the largest pay increase for our incredible people in over a decade.”

Source: Speech on omnibus spending bill

in fact: The military pay increase in the 2018 spending bill, 2.4 per cent, is the largest since the 3.4 per cent increase in 2010 — eight years, not “over a decade.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

  • Mar 25, 2018

Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the Russia-related activities of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. This accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. This does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 22 times

“Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, who teaches national security law, noted on Twitter: “Fact: Not a _single_ person detained by the U.S. as an ‘enemy combatant’ since September 11 crossed the U.S. border surreptitiously,”

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 27, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 17

Date: Monday, June 24, 1996

Commenced: 11:24 AM CST

Concluded: 12: 05 PM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert. I just got back from a business trip. What’s new inside the Beltway?

RTC: I missed your daily chats, Gregory. How was your trip?

GD: St. Petersburg was great. Moscow is improving from the old days but expensive as Hell and getting to be a Western-style mess. Still, I got to tour the older parts of the Kremlin and look at some of the stock in the military museum there.  Money is necessary to live but collectables are far more interesting. Great art collections in St. Petersburg. Our St. Petersburg is full of ancient retired Jews, hoping the hot sun will extend their petty lives instead of giving them skin cancer.

RTC: Back to your cheerful self, I see. Did you have any trouble going through Immigration? You are on the watch list, you know.

GD: I know. No, I flew with a friend who has a private plane. I never go through the lines getting back. I sent Tom Kimmel a nice postcard from Moscow and put my prints all over the thing. I hope it distracts him.

RTC: What a terrible thing to do, Gregory. They will spend a week testing the card and once they decide it was authentic, they will get our Moscow…I assume you sent it from Moscow…people to check hotel rosters. If they find you, then they’ll check the Immigration records to see when you arrived back here. If they don’t find you and they know you’re back…

GD: Oh, I called Kimmel to cinch this up. He hadn’t gotten my card yet so I told him all about the joys of Moscow. Of course, he probably didn’t believe me but when he gets that card, my I will have so much fun.

RTC: And expect a smarmy call from him asking you about your plane trip. Oh, and what airline did you take? Oh, and where did you land, coming back? My, they have so little imagination, don’t they?

GD: No brains, either. That’s what comes from marrying your sister.

RTC: Gregory, how rude. Can’t you show some class? You know they’re trying to quit all that.

GD: (Laughter) Yes.

RTC: Did you know old Hoover was part black?

GD: Besides being queer?

RTC: In addition to that. But I think Hoover was more asexual that homosexual. A really vicious old man. Do you know how he kept from being kicked out by succeeding Presidents? He kept files on everyone of consequence, both in business, the media and, especially, government. The real dirt as it were. And no one, not the President, the Attorney General or Congress to whom he had to go every year to get the yearly appropriations would every dare to cross J. Edgar. Bobby Kennedy crossed him and Bobby was killed for his trouble. No, Hoover was a vicious man. We, on the other hand, use the same methodology but we are far smoother in applying it. We have a strong influence, for want of a better term, with the banking industry. We have the strongest and most effective influence with the print and television media. We have a much stronger hold on the Hill than Hoover ever had. At times, we’ve had iron control over the Oval Office. Hell, the NSA snoops domestically and we get it all. We have a strong in with the telephone people and we don’t need warrants to listen to anybody, domestically, we want, when we want. Now that the internet is in full bloom, trust it, Gregory, that we will establish our own form of control over that. It’s an invisible control and we never, ever talk about it and anyone who gets really close to the truth gets one in the back of the head from a doped-up burglar. And if something gets loose, who will publish it? Surely not our boys in the media.  A book publisher?  A joke, Gregory. Never. Rather than off some snoop, it’s much more subtle to marginalize them in print, imply they are either liars or nuts and make fun of them. Discredit them so no one will listen to them and then later, the car runs over them in the crosswalk. Oh, sorry about that, officer,  but my foot slipped off the brake. I am desolated by that. And we pay for fixing the front end of his car.

GD: Such an insight. Too much coffee, today, Robert?

RTC: No, just an old man and his memories.

GD: How come you never nailed Hoover about the homosexual business?
RTC: We had a working relationship with him, observed, I might add, in the breach more than not. The old faggot put his men in foreign embassies as legates while our men were the USIA. [1]We tried to take them over but it never worked out. We just made their lives miserable instead..

GD: Question here. Now that Communism is effectively dead in Russia and they are imploding, why go after them? Once the Second World War was over, we made friends with the evil Germans and Japanese and built them up again. Why not work with the non-Communist Russians?

RTC: Oh, that drunk Yeltsin was in our pocket but in the case of the former, we did build up their industries but we also owned them, lock, stock and barrel. Germany and Japan were our puppets but the Russians could never be brought to heel because they were too large and too diverse. Also, take into account that our main thesis at the Company was that the evil Russian Communists had to be stopped lest they take over Nova Scotia and bombard New York. With a decades-long mindset like that, you can’t expect our people to change overnight into actually accepting the Russians. Not likely. And besides, we tried to nail down all their oil and gas but we lost hundreds of millions in the process when they got wise and stopped it. We have to find a new international enemy to scare the shit out of American with; an enemy that only the CIA can save us from. The Jews are screaming about the Arabs, who are natural enemies of the Christians. We could dig up historians who will write about the Crusades and Hollywood people who will make movies about the triumph of Christianity over the Crescent. The Jews are getting too much power these days but remember that the Arabs have all the big oil and we need it. Yes, no doubt a resurrection of the Crusades will be next. Without enemies to protect from, we are of no use. Besides, Arabs are highly emotional and we can easily push them into attacking us, hopefully outside the country. Then, the well-oiled machinery that we have perfected over the years can start up and off we go on another adventure.

GD: My, how Heini Müller would have loved to listen in on this conversation. A thoroughgoing pragmatist and you two would have a wonderful time.

RTC: Remember that he and I had occasion to talk while he was here in Washington. I liked him as a matter of fact.

GD: In spite of the propaganda about the Gestapo in overcoats with dogs dragging screaming Jews into the streets, beating them with whips and driving them, in long parades, into the gas chambers? Of course that was wartime fiction but it got the Jews sympathy.

RTC::And don’t forget, Gregory, it also got them political power and money. And they love both. I worked with them on a number of occasions and while they are all smart people, I wouldn’t trust one of them to the corner for a pound of soft soap. During the Stalin era, they spied on us for Josef by the carload, stealing everything, worming their way into Roosevelt’s New Deal and high government office and everything they could lay their hands on, went straight to Moscow. Now, it’s the identical situation but the information goes to Tel Aviv.

GD: Stalin hated them. He didn’t trust them.

RTC: Ah, but he did use them to kill people off, didn’t he?

GD: Yes, but when he was done with them, he planned to make the fictive Hitler’s death programs look like a fairy tale. Going to round up all the Jews and dump them into the wilds of a Siberian winter and let God freeze them all.

RTC: Oh, they won’t ever face up to that one, Gregory. No, Communism was wonderful because they used it as a ladder to climb up to where the white man held sway. Truman initially supported their cause until he found out how they were murdering Palestinians to steal their farms so he stopped US support of Israel. And then Israel tried to kill him.

GD: Müller mentioned that.

RTC: But Harry got cold feet after that.

GD: And now they have a place at the white man’s table, don’t they?
RTC: Hell, now they own the table and the restaurant and ten blocks around it. Roosevelt hated them, you know and he and Long kept them out of the country. Roosevelt said they were a pest and we did not want them here. Funny, because long ago, the Roosevelt family was Jewish.

GD: I know. German Jews from the Rhineland. Name was Rosenfeld. Went to Holland after they were run out of Germany and changed the name to a Dutch spelling.

RTC: Yes. I know that. Old Franklin’s second cousin was an Orthodox rabbi as late as 1938. Of course no one ever mentions that just like no one ever talks about Eleanor’s rampant lesbianism. God, what s sewer the White House was then. A veritable racial and ethical trash bin.

GD: Now they’re all dead.

RTC: There should be a way to prevent that sort of thing but of course we were not in existence when Franklin was king. Wouldn’t happen now. I’m afraid that the Jews will dig into the Company the same way they dug into Roosevelt’s bureaucracy and the second time around, we will have a terrible time rooting them all out.

GD: I can see pogroms in Skokie and Miami even as we speak.

RTC: Dream on, my boy, dream on. At any rate, I shall await the demonization of the Arab world. We can send the military into Saudi Arabia on some flimsy pretest, like the demolition of some US Embassy in a very minor state, like Portugal, by positively identified Saudi Arabs and then a new Crusade! Oh, and the precious oil!

GD: And the oil. Remember the Maine, Robert.

RTC: Yes and remember what old Hearst said? ‘ You supply the pictures and I’ll supply the war?” Oh yes and we got Cuba and the Philippines, although why we wanted the latter escapes me. The problem with that country is that it’s full of Filipinos  and monkeys. Of course it’s often hard to differentiate between them but life is never easy. The Navy calls them the niggers of the Orient. I was at Pubic Bay once…

GD: (Laughter) what? You mean Subic Bay, don’t you?

RTC: A service joke. My God, Gregory, every square foot of land for miles around that base was filled with bars and tens of thousands of local prostitutes. ‘Oh you nice American! I love to fuck you! Take me back to America!’ And many of our corn-fed sailors went for the okeydoke and found out what Hell was like once they got Esmiralda back to Iowa. Ah well, thank God I never listened to their whining siren songs.

GD: I would imagine they had more claps than a football crowd….

RTC: (Laughter) My, isn’t it fun being bigots?

GD: I would prefer ‘realistic observers.’ Robert.

RTC: Call it what you will, Gregory, underneath the nice, polished veneer, we are all really cheap plywood.

GD: Hypocrisy is, after all, the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

RTC: Did you go to Harvard, Gregory? Such polished wit.

GD: I know. No, Not Harvard. The University of Unfortunate Experiences. I read a good deal, Robert, and I have moved in elegant circles and know just what to say and do at the appropriate time. Good manners are just the polish on the knife blade.

RTC: The University has embittered you, hasn’t it?

GD: Of course. Remember the Canadian counterfeit caper? A good case of embitterment. They stole from me so I returned the favor…in spades if you’ll pardon a rampant, bigoted remark. They stole four dollars and ten cents from me and I responded by stealing over two million dollars from them. In cash and their expenses. Loved every minute of it, too. I don’t think the Canadians expected me to come back and certainly not the way I did.

RTC: I read all about it. You made the press and we took note.

GD: I’m sure you did. Always strike at the weakest spot, unexpectedly and with force. Take them by surprise and then withdraw. They will rush their troops to the point of attack and then you circle around and hit them somewhere else.

RTC: How much did you get away with?

GD: Oh, Robert, such a pointed question. I got my four dollars and ten cents back and it cost them millions in a frantic attempt to stop what they called the efforts of the largest ring in their history. And if I made a profit out of it, why consider Delilah. Didn’t she make a prophet?

RTC: Oh, Gregory, a pun is the lowest form of humor. I should expect better from you.

GD: It would not be a good idea for me to go back to Canada, Robert. They will still be waiting for me. After all, I never used a lubricant. Sometimes, rarely but sometimes, I can sit back and enjoy a good laugh. I have two Canadian two dollar bills and a dime in a nice shadow box along with a newspaper clipping from the Vancouver Sun, next to my desk, It warms me on a cold night.

(Concluded at 12:02 PM CST)

[1]  USIA: United States Information Agency. The cover position for CIA operatives working from the inside of an American embassy or consulate.

Pittsburgh shooting: Casualties at Squirrel Hill synagogue

October 27, 2018

BBC News

Chris Togneri, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh Police Department: “Multiple casualties – three officers shot”

There are multiple casualties at a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after a gunman opened fire during a service on Saturday.

Three police officers are among those wounded. Police have not yet said how many people were killed.

The man, who was injured in an exchange of gunfire with police, has now surrendered and is in custody. His name has not yet been released.

Officers are still searching the Tree of Life synagogue.

Local residents are still being asked to stay at home.

The synagogue serves the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, which has one of the largest Jewish populations in Pennsylvania.

Emergency services arrived at the building at about 10:00 local time (14:00 GMT). A service was taking place at the time.

A reporter at the scene said survivors described hearing the gunman shout anti-Semitic abuse as he entered the building, US media report.

Footage broadcast on US news channels showed a police Swat team and ambulances arriving as officers lined the streets.

The gunman was reportedly a heavy-set white male with a beard.

US President Donald Trump tweeted to say that he was watching events.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement that the incident was an “absolute tragedy” and that such acts of violence could not be accepted as “normal”.

He said: “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans. My thoughts right now are focused on the victims, their families and making sure law enforcement has every resource they need.”

The New York Police Department later said it had deployed officers to synagogues throughout the city as a precaution.

The BBC’s Dan Johnson in Washington says the shootings come at a tense time in the US, after a week in which mail bombs were sent to critics of Mr Trump, ahead of crucial mid-term elections next month.

 

Why American Leaders Persist in Waging Losing Wars

Hint: They’re Winning in Other Ways

by William J. Astore

Tom Dispatch

As America enters the 18th year of its war in Afghanistan and its 16th in Iraq, the war on terror continues in Yemen, Syria, and parts of Africa, including Libya, Niger, and Somalia. Meanwhile, the Trump administration threatens yet more war, this time with Iran. (And given these last years, just how do you imagine that’s likely to turn out?) Honestly, isn’t it time Americans gave a little more thought to why their leaders persist in waging losing wars across significant parts of the planet?  So consider the rest of this piece my attempt to do just that.

Let’s face it: profits and power should be classified as perennial reasons why U.S. leaders persist in waging such conflicts. War may be a racket, as General Smedley Butler claimed long ago, but who cares these days since business is booming? And let’s add to such profits a few other all-American motivations. Start with the fact that, in some curious sense, war is in the American bloodstream. As former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges once put it, “War is a force that gives us meaning.” Historically, we Americans are a violent people who have invested much in a self-image of toughness now being displayed across the “global battlespace.” (Hence all the talk in this country not about our soldiers but about our “warriors.”) As the bumper stickers I see regularly where I live say: “God, guns, & guts made America free.” To make the world freer, why not export all thre

Add in, as well, the issue of political credibility. No president wants to appear weak and in the United States of the last many decades, pulling back from a war has been the definition of weakness. No one — certainly not Donald Trump — wants to be known as the president who “lost” Afghanistan or Iraq. As was true of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the Vietnam years, so in this century fear of electoral defeat has helped prolong the country’s hopeless wars. Generals, too, have their own fears of defeat, fears that drive them to escalate conflicts (call it the urge to surge) and even to advocate for the use of nuclear weapons, as General William Westmoreland did in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

Washington’s own deeply embedded illusions and deceptions also serve to generate and perpetuate its wars. Lauding our troops as “freedom fighters” for peace and prosperity, presidents like George W. Bush have waged a set of brutal wars in the name of spreading democracy and a better way of life. The trouble is: incessant war doesn’t spread democracy — though in the twenty-first century we’ve learned that it does spread terror groups — it kills it. At the same time, our leaders, military and civilian, have given us a false picture of the nature of the wars they’re fighting. They continue to present the U.S. military and its vaunted “smart” weaponry as a precision surgical instrument capable of targeting and destroying the cancer of terrorism, especially of the radical Islamic variety. Despite the hoopla about them, however, those precision instruments of war turn out to be blunt indeed, leading to the widespread killing of innocents, the massive displacement of people across America’s war zones, and floods of refugees who have, in turn, helped spark the rise of the populist right in lands otherwise still at peace.

Lurking behind the incessant warfare of this century is another belief, particularly ascendant in the Trump White House: that big militaries and expensive weaponry represent “investments” in a better future — as if the Pentagon were the Bank of America or Wall Street. Steroidal military spending continues to be sold as a key to creating jobs and maintaining America’s competitive edge, as if war were America’s primary business. (And perhaps it is!)

Those who facilitate enormous military budgets and frequent conflicts abroad still earn special praise here. Consider, for example, Senator John McCain’s rapturous final sendoff, including the way arms maker Lockheed Martin lauded him as an American hero supposedly tough and demanding when it came to military contractors. (And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.)

Put all of this together and what you’re likely to come up with is the American version of George Orwell’s famed formulation in his novel 1984: “war is peace.”

The War the Pentagon Knew How to Win

Twenty years ago, when I was a major on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, a major concern was the possible corroding of civil-military relations — in particular, a growing gap between the military and the civilians who were supposed to control them. I’m a clipper of newspaper articles and I saved some from that long-gone era. “Sharp divergence found in views of military and civilians,” reported the New York Times in September 1999. “Civilians, military seen growing apart,” noted the Washington Post a month later. Such pieces were picking up on trends already noted by distinguished military commentators like Thomas Ricks and Richard Kohn. In July 1997, for instance, Ricks had written an influential Atlantic article, “The Widening Gap between the Military and Society.” In 1999, Kohn gave a lecture at the Air Force Academy titled “The Erosion of Civilian Control of the Military in the United States Today.”

A generation ago, such commentators worried that the all-volunteer military was becoming an increasingly conservative and partisan institution filled with generals and admirals contemptuous of civilians, notably then-President Bill Clinton. At the time, according to one study, 64% of military officers identified as Republicans, only 8% as Democrats and, when it came to the highest levels of command, that figure for Republicans was in the stratosphere, approaching 90%. Kohn quoted a West Point graduate as saying, “We’re in danger of developing our own in-house Soviet-style military, one in which if you’re not in ‘the party,’ you don’t get ahead.” In a similar fashion, 67% of military officers self-identified as politically conservative, only 4% as liberal.

In a 1998 article for the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings, Ricks noted that “the ratio of conservatives to liberals in the military” had gone from “about 4 to 1 in 1976, which is about where I would expect a culturally conservative, hierarchical institution like the U.S. military to be, to 23 to 1 in 1996.” This “creeping politicization of the officer corps,” Ricks concluded, was creating a less professional military, one in the process of becoming “its own interest group.” That could lead, he cautioned, to an erosion of military effectiveness if officers were promoted based on their political leanings rather than their combat skills.

How has the civil-military relationship changed in the last two decades? Despite bending on social issues (gays in the military, women in more combat roles), today’s military is arguably neither more liberal nor less partisan than it was in the Clinton years. It certainly hasn’t returned to its citizen-soldier roots via a draft. Change, if it’s come, has been on the civilian side of the divide as Americans have grown both more militarized and more partisan (without any greater urge to sign up and serve). In this century, the civil-military divide of a generation ago has been bridged by endless celebrations of that military as “the best of us” (as Vice President Mike Pence recently put it).

Such expressions, now commonplace, of boundless faith in and thankfulness for the military are undoubtedly driven in part by guilt over neither serving, nor undoubtedly even truly caring. Typically, Pence didn’t serve and neither did Donald Trump (those pesky “heel spurs”). As retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich put it in 2007: “To assuage uneasy consciences, the many who do not serve [in the all-volunteer military] proclaim their high regard for the few who do. This has vaulted America’s fighting men and women to the top of the nation’s moral hierarchy. The character and charisma long ago associated with the pioneer or the small farmer — or carried in the 1960s by Dr. King and the civil-rights movement — has now come to rest upon the soldier.” This elevation of “our” troops as America’s moral heroes feeds a Pentagon imperative that seeks to isolate the military from criticism and its commanders from accountability for wars gone horribly wrong.

Paradoxically, Americans have become both too detached from their military and too deferential to it. We now love to applaud that military, which, the pollsters tell us, enjoys a significantly higher degree of trust and approval from the public than the presidency, Congress, the media, the Catholic church, or the Supreme Court. What that military needs, however, in this era of endless war is not loud cheers, but tough love.

As a retired military man, I do think our troops deserve a measure of esteem. There’s a selfless ethic to the military that should seem admirable in this age of selfies and selfishness. That said, the military does not deserve the deference of the present moment, nor the constant adulation it gets in endless ceremonies at any ballpark or sporting arena. Indeed, deference and adulation, the balm of military dictatorships, should be poison to the military of a democracy.

With U.S. forces endlessly fighting ill-begotten wars, whether in Vietnam in the 1960s or in Iraq and Afghanistan four decades later, it’s easy to lose sight of where the Pentagon continues to maintain a truly winning record: right here in the U.S.A. Today, whatever’s happening on the country’s distant battlefields, the idea that ever more inflated military spending is an investment in making America great again reigns supreme — as it has, with little interruption, since the 1980s and the era of President Ronald Reagan.

The military’s purpose should be, as Richard Kohn put it long ago, “to defend society, not to define it. The latter is militarism.” With that in mind, think of the way various retired military men lined up behind Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, including a classically unhinged performance by retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (he of the “lock her up” chants) for Trump at the Republican convention and a shout-out of a speech by retired General John Allen for Clinton at the Democratic one. America’s presidential candidates, it seemed, needed to be anointed by retired generals, setting a dangerous precedent for future civil-military relations.

A Letter From My Senator

A few months back, I wrote a note to one of my senators to complain about America’s endless wars and received a signed reply via email. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that it was a canned response, but no less telling for that. My senator began by praising American troops as “tough, smart, and courageous, and they make huge sacrifices to keep our families safe. We owe them all a true debt of gratitude for their service.” OK, I got an instant warm and fuzzy feeling, but seeking applause wasn’t exactly the purpose of my note.

My senator then expressed support for counterterror operations, for, that is, “conducting limited, targeted operations designed to deter violent extremists that pose a credible threat to America’s national security, including al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), localized extremist groups, and homegrown terrorists.” My senator then added a caveat, suggesting that the military should obey “the law of armed conflict” and that the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that Congress hastily approved in the aftermath of 9/11 should not be interpreted as an “open-ended mandate” for perpetual war.

Finally, my senator voiced support for diplomacy as well as military action, writing, “I believe that our foreign policy should be smart, tough, and pragmatic, using every tool in the toolbox — including defense, diplomacy, and development — to advance U.S. security and economic interests around the world.” The conclusion: “robust” diplomacy must be combined with a “strong” military.

Now, can you guess the name and party affiliation of that senator? Could it have been Lindsey Graham or Jeff Flake, Republicans who favor a beyond-strong military and endlessly aggressive counterterror operations? Of course, from that little critical comment on the AUMF, you’ve probably already figured out that my senator is a Democrat. But did you guess that my military-praising, counterterror-waging representative was Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts?

Full disclosure: I like Warren and have made small contributions to her campaign. And her letter did stipulate that she believed “military action should always be a last resort.” Still, nowhere in it was there any critique of, or even passingly critical commentary about, the U.S. military, or the still-spreading war on terror, or the never-ending Afghan War, or the wastefulness of Pentagon spending, or the devastation wrought in these years by the last superpower on this planet. Everything was anodyne and safe — and this from a senator who’s been pilloried by the right as a flaming liberal and caricatured as yet another socialist out to destroy America.

I know what you’re thinking: What choice does Warren have but to play it safe? She can’t go on record criticizing the military. (She’s already gotten in enough trouble in my home state for daring to criticize the police.) If she doesn’t support a “strong” U.S. military presence globally, how could she remain a viable presidential candidate in 2020?

And I would agree with you, but with this little addendum: Isn’t that proof that the Pentagon has won its most important war, the one that captured — to steal a phrase from another losing war — the “hearts and minds” of America? In this country in 2018, as in 2017, 2016, and so on, the U.S. military and its leaders dictate what is acceptable for us to say and do when it comes to our prodigal pursuit of weapons and wars.

So, while it’s true that the military establishment failed to win those “hearts and minds” in Vietnam or more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, they sure as hell didn’t fail to win them here. In Homeland, U.S.A., in fact, victory has been achieved and, judging by the latest Pentagon budgets, it couldn’t be more overwhelming.

If you ask — and few Americans do these days — why this country’s losing wars persist, the answer should be, at least in part: because there’s no accountability. The losers in those wars have seized control of our national narrative. They now define how the military is seen (as an investment, a boon, a good and great thing); they now shape how we view our wars abroad (as regrettable perhaps, but necessary and also a sign of national toughness); they now assign all serious criticism of the Pentagon to what they might term the defeatist fringe.

In their hearts, America’s self-professed warriors know they’re right. But the wrongs they’ve committed, and continue to commit, in our name will not be truly righted until Americans begin to reject the madness of rampant militarism, bloated militaries, and endless wars

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply