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TBR News October 4, 2019

Oct 04 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. October 4, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for October 4: “Not unexpectedly, Trump has gone over the edge in his rage at the prospect of impeachment. He actually, and in public, called on the Chinese, who detest him and view him as a raging lunatic, to assist him in discrediting Biden whom he views as his main opponent in the forthcoming Presidential race. In other words, Trump is digging the hole deeper and deeper and soon enough, there will be many to fill in the dirt on top of him and he will be just a bump in history.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • White House attempting gambit to slow House impeachment push
  • Texts show U.S. officials tied Ukraine meeting to political probes
  • Trump is his own biggest enemy in the impeachment inquiry
  • Fighting Calls for Impeachment, Trump Intensifies Anti-Semitic Rhetoric. We Cannot Ignore It.
  • The Israeli plan to bomb Iran
  • Most Americans think social media has too much control over news, according to poll mainstream media quietly ignored
  • Is Facebook Spying for the Government?
  • Google and Facebook give your data to cops
  • Neo-Nazi coast guard officer pleads guilty to gun and drug charges
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

White House attempting gambit to slow House impeachment push

October 4, 2019

by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s bitter fight against an impeachment inquiry has not slowed down the Democrats’ push to investigate whether he sought personal political gain by urging Ukraine to probe Democratic opponent Joe Biden. But in a new tactic, the White House plans to argue that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi must have the full House vote to formally approve an impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the effort said.

Without a vote, White House lawyers believe Trump can ignore lawmakers’ requests, the source said, meaning the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment.

A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote could be sent to Capitol Hill as early as Friday, the source said. It comes as the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee plans to issue more subpoenas in the coming days as it pushes ahead with the investigation.

Trump’s gambit is emerging at the end of a storm-tossed week for him as the president lashed out at Democrats, reporters and anyone else standing in his way to air complaints that he was being unfairly accused and had done nothing wrong.

Democrats want to prove Trump sought personal political gain by appealing to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who earned money from a Ukrainian gas company.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election.

Trump sees the impeachment probe as a harassing follow-up to the Russia investigation that failed to knock him out of office over accusations that he colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a new wrinkle, Trump said on Thursday that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens” over Hunter Biden’s business ties to China, again inviting foreign interference in a U.S. presidential election.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China experts said Beijing was unlikely to act on Trump’s invitation.

Administration officials did not know Trump was going to raise the issue of China but said he had talked about it previously and they were not surprised by it, two sources familiar with the situation said.

Trump’s appeal to China was particularly striking given that Washington and Beijing are locked in a bitter trade war that has damaged global economic growth. They are due to hold another round of talks in the United States next week.

FRIDAY HEARING

A whistleblower’s report about Trump’s conversation with Zelenskiy lies at the heart of the Democratic complaint.

Michael Atkinson, who is the inspector general of the intelligence community, had reviewed the complaint and determined it raised issues of “urgent concern.”

Members of the House Intelligence Committee will return to Washington from their home districts on Friday for a closed hearing with testimony from Atkinson.

The hearing is expected to focus on his investigation of the whistleblower complaint against Trump.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman, confirmed that Atkinson would appear on Friday, but the committee has been extremely tight-lipped about his testimony, refusing to disclose even the time of his appearance behind closed doors.

Atkinson will be the second high-profile figure in the Ukraine controversy to appear in a secure House interview room in two days, following a lengthy interview on Thursday with Kurt Volker, who resigned a week ago as Trump’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

 

Texts show U.S. officials tied Ukraine meeting to political probes

October 4, 2019

by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to launch investigations that could benefit President Donald Trump’s personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, a cache of diplomatic texts released late on Thursday showed.

The exchanges were released by Democrats in the House of Representatives as part of an impeachment investigation to determine whether Trump pressed for Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in connection with Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

Biden is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. His son was on the board of Burisma for a number of years.

Kurt Volker, who resigned a week ago as Trump’s special representative to Ukraine, provided the messages to members of the House and staff of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees in a closed-door meeting earlier on Thursday.

Democrats are focusing on a July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the Republican president urges Zelenskiy to investigate Burisma and the Bidens.

In the hours before that call, Volker told one adviser to the Ukrainian president that a meeting between the countries’ two leaders was tied to Kiev’s agreement to investigate the 2016 U.S. election, according to the committees.

“Heard from the White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker wrote.

Later messages between the aide, Andriy Yermak, and Volker showed dueling efforts to lock in a date for a Trump-Zelenskiy meeting and to issue a statement from Kiev announcing a “reboot” of relations along with the probes into Burisma and the 2016 election.

In a separate exchange last month, another top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine wrote that it was “crazy” to withhold military aid for the country as it confronted Russian aggression, according to copies of the messages released by the panel’s Democratic chairmen, who noted their “grave concerns.”

The cache also included messages from Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who played a major part in the administration’s dealings with Kiev.

Joe Biden leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election. His campaign has blasted Trump’s efforts as desperate.

In a signal of how Kiev will handle investigations being watched in Washington, Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 old probes related to Burisma’s founder but added that they were unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden’s son.

WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENTS

Separately, the White House plans to argue that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, must have the full House vote to formally approve an impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the effort said.

Without a vote, White House lawyers believe Trump, who has called the impeachment probe a “hoax,” can ignore lawmakers’ requests, the source said, meaning the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment.

A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote could be sent to Capitol Hill as early as Friday, the source said. It comes as the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee plans to issue more subpoenas in the coming days as it pushes ahead with the investigation.

“Congress must not back down from our duty to defend the Constitution as … (Trump) ignores the Founders’ warnings about foreign interference at every turn,” Pelosi tweeted early on Friday.

Trump’s gambit is emerging at the end of a storm-tossed week for him as the president lashed out at Democrats, reporters and anyone else standing in his way to air complaints that he was being unfairly accused and had done nothing wrong.

Trump sees the impeachment probe as a harassing follow-up to the Russia probe that investigated accusations he colluded with Moscow in the 2016 presidential campaign. Russia denies interfering in the election.

U.S. intelligence agencies and Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded Russia did interfere with a scheme of hacking and propaganda to boost Trump’s candidacy and disparage his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Mueller found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump and his campaign had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

In a new wrinkle, Trump said on Thursday that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens” over Hunter Biden’s business ties to China, again inviting foreign interference in a U.S. presidential election.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. China experts said Beijing was unlikely to act on Trump’s invitation.

Administration officials did not know Trump was going to raise the issue of China but said he had talked about it previously and they were not surprised by it, two sources familiar with the situation said.

CNN reported late on Thursday that Trump raised the subject of Biden and another political rival, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a June call with China’s President Xi Jinping that, like the Ukraine call, was stored on a secure server.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on CNN’s report.

Trump’s appeal to China was particularly striking given that Washington and Beijing are locked in a bitter trade war that has damaged global economic growth. They are due to hold another round of talks in the United States next week.

Pelosi, on Twitter, raised questions about what Trump may have offered “China in exchange for interfering in our election,” including any possible action on trade.

Trump, in his own tweet, wrote that his efforts to solicit foreign nations to investigate the Bidens have “NOTHING to do with politics.”

Michael Atkinson, who is the inspector general of the intelligence community, is also expected to testify on Friday in another closed-door session centered on his review of the whistleblower’s complaint that lies at the heart of the Democratic complaint.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee will return to Washington from their home districts for the interview with Atkinson, who had determined the complaint raised issues of “urgent concern.”

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman, confirmed that Atkinson would appear, but the committee has not released any further details.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao

 

Trump is his own biggest enemy in the impeachment inquiry

Speaking on TV, the US president said that Ukraine should investigate Joe Biden. Trump appears to think doubling down on his crimes is a good defense strategy

October 4, 2019

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Less than two weeks after his election, Donald Trump announced to the world that he was considering a crazed animal for his first secretary of defense.

Nobody but Trump called the highly respected general Mad Dog. But that didn’t stop the maddest dog of them all. Jim Mattis, who told everyone he hated the nickname, eventually resigned because he wasn’t mad enough to follow the leader of this peculiar pack by trashing every US ally on the planet.

But that was so 2018.

If we’ve learned anything at all about the wackadoodle commander-in-chief by now, we know that the brazen bozo knows no bounds. We’ve also come to discover that everyone who works near him eventually starts howling like a mad dog, whether or not they were unhinged on the day they were hired.

This is not meant to impugn the good character of our crazy canine friends. But it’s hard to fathom the conduct of a grown man who behaves like Donald Trump. Much like a naked drunken streaker at a Stoke City game, his pleasure at flaunting his crime is in inverse proportion to our respect for his genius, courage and good looks.

Perhaps we’ve been overthinking this. Perhaps, instead of gaslighting us all with some grand deception, Trump has been gaslighting himself into thinking he was kind of good at this media thing he calls the presidency.

Either way, the big dog managed to drop a huge one on his impeachment defense on Thursday.

Sure, sure, the whistleblower report was hearsay. Sure, sure, the House Democrats were fabricating everything. Sure, sure, there was no attempt to get Ukraine to interfere with an American election. It was all so perfect. Just like the call between Trump and Zelensky.

Until Trump opened his big mouth. What exactly did he want Zelensky to do after their call, asked one cunning reporter on the White House south lawn on Thursday?

“Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer,” said the very simple president.

“They should investigate the Bidens, because how does a company that’s newly formed – and all these companies, if you look at. And by the way likewise China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with, with Ukraine.”

Admitting to your crimes in front of the TV cameras is a novel way to start your defense. Extending those crimes to yet another country – this time, China – is certainly original. Seeking that help from a country you’ve dragged into an epic trade war is venturing into creative territory.

(And yes, dear MAGA readers, it’s a crime.)

Did it ever cross our mad dog’s mind that maybe – just maybe – it wasn’t a great idea to smear the Bidens with the very same stuff that his own family produces every day of the week? Probably not. In Nixon’s day they used to call this “dirty tricks.” In Trump’s hands, it’s more like a dirty protest.

So we have the exquisite sight and sound of the saintly Mike Pence righteously condemning any family member trying to make a quick buck from someone close to the presidency.

“I think the American people have a right to know if the Vice President of the United States or his family profited from this position as Vice President during the last administration,” he incanted at the First Baptist Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Thursday.

Mr Vice President, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the Trump family. There may not be enough baptismal water to wash this one down.

How many souls will we lose to this cult of the mad dog?

There’s poor Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, trying and failing to defend Trump by wrongly disputing a word in a pseudo-transcript that he clearly never read.

There’s a cluster of Trump diplomats texting each other about Trump’s unlikely Ukraine adventure: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” wrote Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Kiev. Crazy for normal people, but totally normal for a mad dog.

There’s a bunch of unnamed Trumpoodles pressuring the IRS to mess with the annual audit of Trump’s tax returns, as yet another whistleblower has reported.

And there’s Mike Pompeo, who thinks it’s normal to go on national TV and pretend like he knew nothing about the Ukraine call. Ten days later, the secretary of state admitted he took part in the very same call, but declared Congress should back off.

Ten days before that, pundits thought Pompeo could run for senate or even president.

For heaven’s sake, gentlemen! You’re sacrificing your reputations for a man who tweets the Nickleback meme, whose campaign mimics A-ha, and who can’t stop trashing Greta Thunberg. Were there no other mad dogs you could find in a dark DC alley?

Crazy things happen when crazy takes over the West Wing. Pretty soon, you end up with Fox News – Fox News! – firing a wingnut like Todd Starnes for saying that Democrats worship a pagan god who likes child sacrifice.

The impeachment saga that is only just starting will revolve around whether Donald Trump is unfit to hold the office of the president. But we already know the answer to that. The real question is whether Trump is fit to hold a pack of Tide pods.

A former police detective in Washington liked to tell the story of the dumbest criminal he ever met. This particular felon plotted an elaborate stick-up at a Home Depot, where he pretended to be interested in applying for a job. He duly filled out a job application form before pulling out his gun to demand all their cash. A few hours after the robbery, the police rolled up to his home to arrest him: he wrote his real address on the job form.

Donald Trump behaves like he’s pulling off the heist of the century. For all we know about his personal finances, he might just be. But thanks to multiple whistleblowers, and the words that tumble endlessly out of his mouth, we now have something else: the trail of evidence that leads right to the Oval Office.

Richard Wolffe is a Guardian US columnist

 

Fighting Calls for Impeachment, Trump Intensifies Anti-Semitic Rhetoric. We Cannot Ignore It.

October 4, 2019

by Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept

Prime Directive: Always Blame the Jews for Everything.”

That was one of the especially disturbing headlines in a 17-page “style guide” written by Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.

“As Hitler says, people will become confused and disheartened if they feel there are multiple enemies,” Anglin argued, according to a copy of the document obtained by HuffPost in December 2017. “As such, all enemies should be combined into one enemy, which is the Jews.”

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry on September 24, President Donald Trump and his acolytes seem to have borrowed a page from the Daily Stormer playbook. And here’s the thing: As with the president’s outrageous insistence that foreign governments dish up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, they happen to be banging their anti-Semitic drum in plain sight.

Take Trump’s tweet on September 28:

Donald J. Trump

✔  @realDonaldTrump

Can you imagine if these Do Nothing Democrat Savages, people like Nadler, Schiff, AOC Plus 3, and many more, had a Republican Party who would have done to Obama what the Do Nothings are doing to me. Oh well, maybe next time!

108K

8:16 AM – Sep 28, 2019

To be clear: More than 200 House Democrats have signed onto an impeachment inquiry and yet the president chose to target only three of them by name, two of whom are Jewish: Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, chairs of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees. The third target was — surprise! — a woman of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Shamefully, he attacked all of them as “savages.”

How is such rhetoric not racist?

On October 2, Trump escalated his brazenly anti-Semitic attack on Schiff. “We don’t call him ‘Shifty Schiff’ for nothing,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office. “He’s a shifty, dishonest guy.”

The stereotype of Jews as “shifty,” the suggestion that they are sneaky and manipulative, has a long and ignominious history. Trump — who “often plays on well-worn caricatures about cleverness, deviousness, and physical weakness” when discussing Jews, to quote Peter Beinart — knows what he is doing when he gives Schiff this particular nickname; it is no accident or coincidence.

Still not convinced? Then consider these two tweets from the president’s thick-witted son, Don Jr., from October 2:

Donald Trump Jr.

✔  @DonaldJTrumpJr

  • Oct 2, 2019

Replying to @DonaldJTrumpJr

If @RepAdamSchiff aka #FullOfSchiff is willing to go on to the floor of Congress to lie and reinvent the words of President Trump, it begs the question: How far did he go to influence and orchestrate this anonymous and phony whistleblower complaint?

Donald Trump Jr.

✔  @DonaldJTrumpJr

And for those who don’t know who Adam Schiff is, he is not just a radical liberal, he is someone who has been hand-picked and supported by George Soros.

Radical liberal. Handpicked by George Soros. A Soros puppet.

Don Jr.’s tweets provoked a rare response from Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, who referred to his invocation of Soros, a left-leaning Jewish billionaire, as an “anti-Semitic trope” and a “dangerous” insinuation.

Dangerous indeed. On October 22, 2018, Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc sent a pipe bomb to the Westchester, New York, home of Soros. Six days later, white nationalist Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue because he believed that wealthy U.S. Jews were conspiring bring “invaders in that kill our people,” an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory endorsed by the president of the United States. “A lot of people say” that Soros funded the migrant caravan, Trump irresponsibly claimed only three days after the Pittsburgh massacre.

So why isn’t there more outrage over Trump’s blatant and dangerous anti-Semitism, in the specific context of this impeachment inquiry? Why has his nasty, conspiratorial and Jew-baiting response to it not been a bigger story?

One reason is that Trump’s anti-Semitism is nothing new. He was an anti-Semite when he accused U.S. Jews of being dumb and disloyal. He was an anti-Semite when he praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people.” He was an anti-Semite when he referred to comedian Jon Stewart as Jonathan Leibowitz. He was an anti-Semite when he kept — no joke — a book of Hitler’s speeches next to his bed. So we have become inured to his anti-Semitism, just as we have become inured to his anti-Muslim bigotry and his anti-black and anti-Latino racism.

Another reason is the cynical and partisan weaponization of anti-Semitism by the right to attack the left — especially the likes of Reps. llhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – aided and abetted by a lazy liberal media. (Can you imagine the reaction if Omar had called, say, Trump’s Jewish Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “shifty” or a “savage”?)

But we cannot afford to give Trump a pass on this. “As the impeachment inquiry escalates,” Beinart writes, “Trump’s anti-Semitic rhetoric probably will too.” Remember: The president’s paranoid and cultish online supporters have already begun promulgating mad conspiracy theories to try and protect their hero from being impeached and, as Vox’s Jane Coaston has observed, “an environment where conspiracy theories flourish and find new ground is the perfect environment for anti-Semitism itself to flourish and find new acolytes,” especially because “anti-Semitism itself is a conspiracy theory.”

Hate crimes targeting Jews or Jewish institutions in the U.S. rose by 37 percent during Trump’s first year in office. As a vote on impeachment approaches, and Trump and Co. fall back again and again on the Daily Stormer’s “prime directive,” things are only going to get uglier. There’s nothing funny or cute about the president’s mocking of “shifty” Schiff or his mainstreaming of crazy conspiracy theories. Both the Pittsburgh shooter and the pipe bomber are stark reminders that anti-Semitic rhetoric — of all types but especially of the Trumpian variety — puts Jewish lives in very real danger.

 

The Israeli plan to bomb Iran

October 4, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Israel was planning to attack Iran from Georgian airfields. Of course, since this would imply that the United States would be complicit in such an attack, the usual supporters of the government (generally employees) have expressed their shopworn objections to any negativity about Israel or the United States. ‘Shopworn’ is probably too mild a word  The neocons and garbage like Joe Lieberman jump up and down and squeal like outraged pigs if anyone dares to question not only the right of Israel to exist but to torment and kill large numbers of the detested Palestinians; and make every effort to control American foreign policy.

And loot our Treasury.

Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff, Colonel General. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Israel had supplied arms to Georgia, delivering weapons systems including eight types of unmanned aircraft and about 100 anti-tank mines. The Israeli presence consisted of  IDF special forces, Israeli Air Force personnel, detachments of the Mossad and other Israeli groups, to include mercenaries, were all working, in complete cooperation with American forces, to train and equip the new Georgian armed forces. At the same time, Israel was preparing to move some of its attack aircraft into Georgia, base them on Israeli-controlled airfields in southern Georgia and arm and equip them for a strike on Tehran. It should be noted that the distance from Tel Aviv to Tehran is 1,600km  one way, and the  distance from Southern Georgia is  1,149 km one way. Slip tanks add 600-800 miles to the overall range

The aircraft designated for the attack were the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) F-16I Sufa (Storm), a two seater, designed and built solely for Israel by  Lockheed Martin. The F-16I has a 23,600-kilogram [52,000 pound] take-off weight, considerably more than the earlier F-16s in IAF service, and may be is armed with the AMRAAM air-to-air missile. The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, and the AIM-9 Sidewinder or the AGM-65 Maverick which are air-to-ground tactical missile (AGM) designed for close air support. These missiles  are  effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation, and fuel storage facilities. There were to be twelve units belonging to the Israeli Air Force 107 Squadron, the so-called ‘Knights of the Orange Tail’ which was nominaly stationed at Hatzerin AFP (LLHB)  .

The air strike was to be aimed at Iranian government buildings with one Israeli group striking  where top Iranian officials were known to be working, at housing for the top leadership, at any identified laboratory where nuclear work was being carried on and a second flight was to strike at Iranian oil wells, pipelines and Persian Gulf oil erminals. Once the dual strike was completed, the aircraft would head towards Israel and then were slated to be refueled in mid-air by an American tanker aircraft.

That Putin was aware of the pending Georgian attack on South Ossetia is certain and the strong probability is that someone connected with the CIA’s Russia desk gave sensitive material on this subject to the Russians and an Israeli IDF member is positively known to have given very specific information to the Russian GRU.

After the Russian invasion of Georgia and the disintegration of the Georgian army, a Russian spy satellite spotted a convoy of U.S. Hummers heading down the highway towards the Georgian port of Poti, which happened to be occupied by Russian troops, and the convoy, filled with a group of Georgian special troops, was captured. The vehicles were loaded with plastic explosives, silenced firearms and, to the pleased surprise of Russian military intelligence, a large trove of top-secret NATO documents concerning their highly secret satellite technology

There were three Arab nationals among the twenty Georgians, all of whom were blindfolded, handcuffed and taken off for interrogation by the Russian GRU (Military Intelligence) One of the senior interrogators, having started a review of the papers, immediately had them sent off by an army helicopter to higher headquarters. It appears that the Georgians commandeered the U.S. vehicles, totally unaware of their contents, in an effort to escape.

The incredible earlier security leaks from both U.S. and Israeli sources, were sent to Moscow for evaluation and eventually,  Putin then saw an excellent chance to wreak havoc on his Georgian enemies, crush their military, capture the vast stocks of American military equipment stored in Georgia, force both the Americans and the detested Israelis out of the country under humiliating circumstances. Russian units also took over a part of the vital trans-Caucasus pipeline, secured the former Russian break-away provinces and drew a strong line in the sand.

Following the total debacle, which resulted in the hasty withdrawal of all American and Israeli military and intelligence units and the subsequent capture by the Russians of huge quantities of American weapons, technical signals equipment, unmanned drones and trucks full of secret documents, the American press was filled with statements of ‘stunned shock’ by American military personnel, denying they had any knowledge of the Georgian attack but common sense would dictate that with over two thousand active American military personnel closely involved with each and every Georgian army unit, the preparations for, and the actual logistics of, the massed Georgian army artillery attack on South Ossetia could simply not have passed totally unnoticed.

 

Most Americans think social media has too much control over news, according to poll mainstream media quietly ignored

October 3, 2019

RT

Some 62 percent of Americans believe social media exerts too much control over what news people see, and most think online platforms treat some news outlets differently than others for the wrong reasons, a new poll shows.

Not only do social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter distort the mix of news that reaches their users, but their actions result in a worse mix, according to 55 percent of Americans responding to a Pew Research poll published this week. Just 15 percent believe the platforms’ meddling results in a better mix.

Republicans are even more emphatic – three quarters say social media has too much control, and two thirds disapprove of the mix of news the platforms generate. However, 53 percent of Democrats agree Facebook and Twitter’s control is excessive, and 49 percent find the news mix distasteful.

More than half of respondents highlight one-sided news (53 percent) and inaccurate news (51 percent) as “very big problems” in social media’s influence on news. Censorship is a major problem for 35 percent – as much as “uncivil discussions about the news” – while users being banned is a major concern for just 24 percent.

Of the 82 percent of Americans who believe social media platforms treat some news outlets differently than others, most (88 percent) see producing clickbait (“attention-grabbing articles,” in Pew’s words) as a factor in currying favor with online platforms. Nearly as many (84 percent) see social media popularity as a factor, while 79 percent view an outlet’s political stance as a deciding factor. Only 34 percent think an outlet’s “high reporting standards” are favored by social media platforms, and just 18 percent view political neutrality as important to platforms.

The majority of respondents from across the political spectrum agreed that the posts they saw on social media were skewed toward one end or the other – 64 percent of Republicans said the news they saw was “liberal” or “very liberal,” and 37 percent of Democrats agreed. Just nine percent of Republicans, and 18 percent of Democrats, said the news they saw was “conservative” or “very conservative.”

Despite their apparent dissatisfaction with social media’s handling of news, the share of US adults who get their news from social media continues to increase year over year, according to Pew. Some 55 percent of respondents “sometimes” or “often” get news from social media, and 52 percent specifically use Facebook to get their news. YouTube is a distant second – just 28 percent get their news there – and Twitter is a far-off third, attracting 17 percent of newshounds.

Unfortunately for three fifths of the American population, Facebook is poised to take even more control over the news users see, with a ‘News Tab’ to be rolled out in the near future featuring stories from approved news outlets.

Perhaps with that future in mind, many of the biggest mainstream news publishers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, declined to cover Pew’s survey, which polled 5,107 US adults in July for their opinions.

 

Is Facebook Spying for the Government?

Social media is big business and has the potential to drive millions of visitors to websites, engage directly with customers on a public platform, and solve – or create – problems in real time. What is the future of “social business”?

Cyber Solutions

Facebook Spying

Twenty years ago, marketing and promotions were simple and straightforward. The majority of efforts were focused on print: newspaper and magazine advertising, The Yellow Pages, direct mail, billboards, and perhaps flyers. Email marketing was in its infancy, and digital marketing wasn’t quite yet an industry – though there are firms that argue this time frame. Metrics were relatively predictable, and results were in the form of sales and revenue.

  • Yes, The Yellow Pages telephone directories still offer printed books. Publishers of “phone books”, as they’re often referred to, reduced paper usage by half before 2013, and major efforts are in place to ensure unused or outdated materials are recycled.

This is not the case today! There are so many facets to “digital marketing” that it’s safe to say the industry is constantly evolving. Yes, constantly. The rules change just as often, and the de facto rule-maker is Google. Google has the famous “Google algorithm”, by which all search parameters are defined. If a business or brand doesn’t meet Google’s search preferences, they’ve wasted their time and won’t make the first page of a user’s search results – and when was the last time you clicked past the first page of results in an average Google search?

There are ads within emails and ads on websites, and even “sponsored results” in an Internet search. Consumers have ads coming at them from every angle of the Internet, so why would social media – including the King of Social Media, Facebook – be any different? It’s not. In fact, a Facebook user is valued even more highly than a search user. The Facebook user is already engaged with a website, and it’s one where the content that loads is customized and personalized for each user. Google tries to do this with search results, but there’s only so much Google can do with a string of words and no context. Both Google and Facebook have the user’s history of cookies, but Facebook has the incredibly valuable position of knowing a user’s friends, families, what content a user likes – literally “likes” by clicking the blue-and-white thumbs-up symbol – and what news stories, photos, and content a user clicks on and engages with. In this context, Google’s metric is the click in terms of the value of a visitor, whereas Facebook’s value of a click is a highly-engaged user already on the website and opting to give more of their time and attention. The ultimate competition comes down to the value of a visitor versus tAfter evolving from a social platform into a platform that can be highly monetized, Facebook turned the digital marketing industry upside down with the newly-invented notion of advertising right in front of Facebook users. Any organization or brand that has ever paid for advertising on Facebook is used to Facebook changing things up by now – after all, Facebook changes their approach on a regular basis. After seizing the lead and maintaining this very profitable position for years – and years – the brain trust recently announced a bold decision to simplify their overall approach – after long being the primary innovator in social media and marketing and carving the path which others follow today.

Facebook Advertisers Are Users, Too

Facebook users fondly recall a time when privacy settings at the user level resembled a “stealth” mode when users had the ability to set their account information, including their names and other details, as completely private and would not show in other Facebook user searches. The added bonus was the implied guarantee that photos, posts, and other user content had this same level of protection. Sometime around 2009, Facebook implemented a pretty major privacy settings overhaul and many users who long enjoyed stealth status were suddenly thrust into the spotlight – and was no longer “invisible”. In all fairness, Facebook gave plenty of advance notice this change was coming. Their public reason was that Facebook is a social media platform, not a private website where a user could have total control – and this is a fair position. Facebook is a free website for users, but it’s not a nonprofit organization. Ever evolving, their approach has tweaked and allowed users to choose various privacy settings for posts, images, etc., which are highly customizable if the user chooses to take the time.

In 2017, Facebook recognized a growing dissatisfaction from its users and tried to pinpoint the cause. After much speculation, Facebook realized the greatest impact to the user experience is the allowance of brands to intermingle with users in their feeds, detracting from the social purpose of the channel. Thus, more major changes were in store. Facebook announced a desire to go “back to basics” and return the focus of a user’s feed to posts shared by friends and family members and make it harder for brands to get their content seen (unless advertisers were willing to pay). The result was that post reach – the number of people that see a post in their feed – plummeted. The plan was for average Facebook users to see fewer news stories, cat videos, political posts, or branded content, but rather see more photos shared by friends of birthday parties, graduations, and other significant events entirely unrelated to corporate messaging.

Privacy, Redefined

The change to the Facebook feed was a welcome change to users and required a major adjustment to social media marketing efforts for companies. Details of how the changes rolled out and the reasons for these changes trickled into news stories until major news broke that Facebook sold private user information on more than 87 million Facebook accounts to an organization involved in the political arena in 2016. Users worldwide felt violated that a trusted entity would share such private details – a harsh reminder that Facebook is a for-profit entity and users need to read the “fine print” and not just agree to Terms and Conditions without reading. Your digital life is not your own when using a website owned by someone other than yourself.

So, what can Facebook users do to protect themselves? Without deleting your Facebook account, it’s wise to do a once-over on user privacy settings every few months to verify what might have changed and safeguard your information.

  • Check your privacy settings
  • Facebook offers a variety of user settings allowing for a spectrum of privacy, though most remain a mystery to users. Under “Settings”, click “Privacy” and control how visible information like posts, account information like phone numbers and email addresses, and friend requests and more are.
  • Keep friends close
  • Friends’ activity can impact others. If a user allows tagging in a friend’s activity, this is then affected by their privacy settings and is subject to sharing or visibility by others.
  • Beware third-party apps
  • At first, it seemed benign to click “accept” when a third-party app or quiz intrigued a user enough to click content, with the innocent warning that the app would thus be granted access to a user’s profile and list of friends. That list of friends became an incredibly valuable commodity in an environment where privacy settings were controlled by a user – a tricky little workaround.
  • Users can adjust these settings quickly and easily but often didn’t go back to limit access.
  • Review security alerts
  • Users can opt for security alerts when Facebook detects a new login from a different device or browser. Two-factor authentication is also an option. To enable, access the same “Settings” menu, and click “Security and Login” from the left navigation and choose “Setting Up Extra Security”.

Security considerations impact all Facebook users, regardless if a user is also an advertiser. Before abandoning Facebook entirely, employ additional efforts to protect user data and your privacy. This type of “social security” has nothing to do with the government-issued card Americans carry, and a few additional steps will help secure user information and improve the Facebook user experience.

 

Google and Facebook give your data to cops

by Cora Borradaile

Civil Liberties Defense Center

We dislike G**gle and F*c*book.  Here is one reason.

Every year, Google and Facebook hand over data from roughly one hundred thousand user accounts to law enforcement and other requesters.  Many of these requests come in the form of subpoenas, which do not require probable cause, can originate out of criminal or civil cases (such as SLAPP suits), and can request the content of emails.  On top of that, there are preservation requests, which require companies to retain currently-held records for 90 days when asked to do so by a government entity (and such requests can be endlessly renewed).

Of course, such requests (and satisfaction of such requests) are not limited to the likes of Google and Facebook.  For example, AT&T had over 130,000 requests for data on its US users in the first half of 2017, including 10,000 subpoenas for civil cases.

What are the chances activist accounts are exempt from these searches?  What are the chances that law enforcement would not make requests for account information of activists who “threaten energy infrastructure”?  What are the chances that anti-pipeline activists and water protectors might avoid eliciting subpoenas and preservation requests by or on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners?

In 2017, the Whatcom County prosecutor’s office in Washington State successfully seized “all profile information, including admin profiles or moderator profiles with status updates, messages, videos, […] event information including […] those who are ‘Interested,’ ‘Going,’ and ‘Invited’” for the Facebook event associated with a protest march to oppose fossil fuel export that blocked freeway traffic.  The march was organized by the indigenous-led climate justice group, Red Line Salish Sea.  After submitting a warrant that was at first too broad and then too specific for Facebook to satisfy, “Facebook suggested the county reach out to the Department of Justice for help in drafting a third warrant.”  The third warrant was just right. The Facebook users who were administrators of the event page “did not have legal standing” to fight the warrant; only Facebook has that standing, and of course Facebook did not fight the warrant.

The DOJ also seized information from Facebook for the DisruptJ20 page (now “Resist This”) and two J20 protest spokespersons via warrants with accompanying gag orders that barred affected users from being informed for seven months.

Government spying on political associations violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and has been hotly litigated since the 1950’s and the exposure of the COINTELPRO travesties (if you don’t know about COINTELPRO, you definitely should).  Consider the landmark 1958 U.S. Supreme Court decision in NAACP v. Alabama which ruled that the right to associate and organize together was a protected privacy right and groups did not have to provide the government with membership lists.  The Court ruled that “Privacy in group association […] may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

Given that the State expends far more resources suppressing rather than preserving dissident movements, activists should not rely on online tools offered (for “free”) by powerful corporations to protect their organizing or keep their strategies and secrets safe.  Social media can be invaluable for getting the word out, but activists should not be using these platforms to do the hard work of organizing, to have strategic or sensitive conversations with friends and comrades, or rely on them long-term as the only way to spread information.

 

Neo-Nazi coast guard officer pleads guilty to gun and drug charges

Christopher Hasson is accused of stockpiling weapons and targeting supreme court justices, Democrats and journalists

October 3, 2019

AP

Federal prosecutors called US coast guard lieutenant Christopher Hasson a self-described white nationalist and domestic terrorist intent on carrying out mass killings.

He was accused of stockpiling weapons and targeting Supreme Court justices, prominent Democrats and TV journalists.

On Thursday he pleaded guilty to four gun and drug charges – but no terrorism-related crimes.

Prosecutors did not file any such charges after Hasson was arrested in February. With his plea, he faces up to 31 years in prison. Sentencing is set for 31 January.

Two of the four counts in Hasson’s indictment charged him with illegally possessing unregistered and unserialized silencers. He was also charged with possession of a firearm by an unlawful user or addict of a controlled substance, and illegal possession of tramadol, an opioid painkiller.

In a February court filing, prosecutors said Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country”. They also said he had espoused extremist views for years and drafted an email in which he said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth”.

Prosecutors claimed Hasson drew up what appeared to be a hitlist that included the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and the presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Network TV journalists Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones were also mentioned.

Hasson also targeted two Supreme Court justices and two social media executives and searched online for their home addresses in March 2018, within minutes of searching firearm sales websites, according to prosecutors.

In a 2017 letter he sent to himself as a draft and apparently addressed to a neo-Nazi leader, Hasson identified himself as a white nationalist for more than 30 years and “advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland”, prosecutors said.

Investigators found 15 guns, including seven rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition at Hasson’s basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. He researched how to make homemade bombs and mortars, studied sniper training and used his government computer to search for information about Nazis and Adolf Hitler, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have said Hasson appeared to be planning attacks inspired by the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian rightwing extremist who killed 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

But assistant federal public defender Liz Oyer has said prosecutors found no evidence to back up terrorism allegations. She accused them of seeking to punish Hasson for “private thoughts” he never shared.

In a court filing last week, Hasson’s lawyers asked the judge to bar prosecutors from presenting any evidence linking him to white nationalist views or associations or “any plans or preparations he allegedly made to commit an act of violence or terrorism”.

Last month, a federal judge refused to dismiss the gun charges against Hasson. US district judge George Hazel rejected defense attorneys’ argument that charging Hasson with unlawful possession of firearm silencers violates his second amendment right to bear arms.

Hasson, a former US marine, worked at coast guard headquarters in Washington on a program to acquire advanced new ships. He has been held in custody since his arrest.

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 4, 2019

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 publication.

 

Conversation No. 51

Date: Saturday, November 30, 1996

Commenced: 11:30 AM CST

Concluded: 11; 45 AM CST

RTC: I was reading over your analysis of the present political and business status and I thought it was interesting. At least I thought your final conclusions were not at all outrageous. But I should caution you against sending such things to Kimmel or Bill. Kimmel would be outraged and Bill will pass this on to Langley because that’s what he does.

GD: None of that surprises me, Robert. I was just stating the obvious. At least it is obvious to me. I suppose if you read history, everything is so compressed and obvious but if you are living it, the end is not always clear. Distance is always important in making conclusions. People don’t like to do this because they want this or that kind of ending so they twist and distort the obvious to suit themselves. When I was writing such reports in the Army, I learned very quickly on not to express attitudes that were opposite of my superiors, no matter how obvious they might be.

RTC: A manifestation of early survival instinct, Gregory.

GD: Yes, why not? No one cares about inconvenient truths but they dearly love convenient lies. But the truth is still there, isn’t it?

RTC: Yes, but we never see it until it’s too late.

GD: The French Revolution was entirely predictable but only if you could stand back from it. Not a revolt of the masses but initially a perfectly reasonable desire for a burgeoning middle business class to gain parity with the great triumvirate: The Monarchy, the Nobility and the Church. Of course the latter trio did not want to share power and the ensuing struggle spilled over and the mob got it. Reasonable beginnings but terrible endings.

RTC: But could have anyone foreseen the end?

GD: Good point. A few but not the ones that mattered. A Polish writer, Bloch, very accurately foresaw the deadly trench warfare of the First World War but at the time he wrote, the great bulk of military theorists had more conventional views so no one heard him. Afterwards, of course, he became famous. At the time, not. The same with my views.

RTC: I must confess, Gregory, that I am a little conventional and predictions of social upheaval, anarchy and economic collapse are a bit alien to me.

GD: Yet you were accustomed to predict such things in other governments you wanted to either replace or destroy. Correct?

RTC: Well, we fomented more than one revolution and collapsed more than one economy but we didn’t predict these things, Gregory, we made them happen. You don’t plan to make a revolution or collapse our economy.

GD: No, I don’t. But if you see a man building a house on the beach, doesn’t it occur to him that a good storm might easily topple it? After all, Robert, the Bible says this but, of course, it’s only common sense.  No empire, and we have an empire now, ever lasted forever. Rome did not and England did not. They rise and they fall. It will be the same with us. After two major wars, we rule. Of course we contested with Russia but since we were better grounded economically, we survived. They may yet come back but it’s not for certain. I see China as our immediate rival but they have uncontrolled capitalism under the control of an aging dictatorship and I would predict that they will shoot up economically and this boom will frighten the leaders. Money creates the desire for power and an empowered mass is very dangerous. And we learned after 1929 that if our marketplace had no controls, it would indulge in peak or collapse on a regular and very destructive basis. Remove these controls would be like blowing up a dam and flooding all the countryside below it. Money for a few and disaster for the rest. Clinton has not encouraged this decontrol but God help us if the right wing ever gets into power. We have all kinds of fiscal dinosaurs waiting in the wings, mating with the lunatics of the religious right and they may yet have their day. Unfettered markets and Jesus in every home, no stores open on Sunday and the Ten Commandments in every classroom. Oh, and not to mention a stake through the heart of the evil Darwin. Nuts. The world is only 6,000 years old and the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s mythical flood. Action and reaction. If that dismal project comes to pass, there will be a reaction, believe me.

RTC: But your predictions of revolution?

GD: People get bored sometimes, Robert, get tired of taxes and dream of some kind of social paradise where everyone is equal. Who knows what monsters are waiting to be born? But the economy is based on credit and like a Ponzi scheme, credit has its limits. You can only use it so far and no further and if we go too far with our credit cards and loans, the end can be easily seen as the python said as he wrapped himself around the tree.

RTC: Well, it won’t happen during the rest of my lifetime, Gregory. Perhaps in yours.

GD: Probably. We need a Bismarck now but we won’t get him. Democracy is its own worst enemy, Robert. Greed, lack of coordination, corruption, and God alone knows what else. And our national education system is a horror. We are cranking out generations of the illiterate and ill-informed and these know-nothings will eventually get into power. Then we need all the help God can give us. Well, we always get what we pay for, don’t we? Political correctness is idiotic. We should teach our children to question, to evaluate and to analyze, not bleat in their pens like placid sheep. It’s like trying to stab someone with a pound of butter.

RTC: (Laughter) Well, a fat and comfortable public….

GD: Yes, a fat public. Well, it’s only a matter of conjecture, isn’t it? What is it the Bible says? While we are in the light, let us walk in the light for the darkness cometh. Something like that. Enough realistic pessimism for the day, Robert. I recall telling Kimmel, when I found out he taught Sunday school, that he ought to let his little charges read the Song of Solomon and he had a fit. But, I told him, it’s in the Bible so it can’t be wrong. He didn’t see it that way. One dimensional. Never ask questions because you might not like the answers. The truth will not make you free but cause spastic colon. Anyway, I like to speculate, Robert, that’s all. If a dam is leaking, is it wrong to predict a collapse?

RTC: The real estate people down below it would not approve of such sentiments.

GD: No, but they probably live on higher ground.

 

(Concluded at 11:45 CST

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Melvin L. Johnson

The title of “dumbest creationist argument ever” has seen some pretty spectacular competition. You may remember the banana argument and the peanut butter argument, and perhaps even “pygmies+dwarves”. A personal favorite is Richard Gunther’s argument against evolution based on the technological regress of civilizations since the stone age – though, really, any argument appealing to the second law of thermodynamics is at least as silly.

But the one used by Melvin L. Johnson, pastor of the Heart of Christ Community Church in Brazoria, TX, for his article in Christian Post (“the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website”) called “My Personal Encounter with Evolutionary Theory,” is a good candidate, too. In said article, Johnson claims that the theory of evolution was developed as “a means to explain through a biological format why black people could and should be maintained as slaves.” You see, the full title of Darwin’s book is The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, and as Johnson points out “What does ‘Favored Races’ mean? The term race refers only to humans, and there have been no voices in any of the hearings that I am aware of who have pressed this point.” The reason would presumably be that the point is stupid and false. Of course, for that very reason the point has, in fact, been pushed plenty by a variety of creationists, from Henry Morris to Paula Weston and Sharon Hughes.

Johnson used the argument as a basis for complaining to school officials about the biology text used in his kid’s school. The complaint also pointed out that “the most primitive fossils were almost always referred to Africa and the most modern findings were European (Neanderthal),” which is further proof that evolution is racist (“By the way, Darwin held a very low of opinion of women, including white”). He also mentioned Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man, which at least suggests familiarity with creationist texts and demonstrates no understanding of evolution or science whatsoever.

But he is just getting started, of course. There is also Hitler, whom Johnson describes as “an evolutionist who praised Darwin” (which, of course, is blatantly false since Hitler rejected evolution, but Johnson is a fundamentalist Christian preacher so apparently the don’t lie-rule doesn’t), Mussolini and Emperor Hirohito (a first in creationist screeds, as far as we know), and the “communist empires of the Soviet Union, China and smaller but just as brutal leaders and governmental powers” (explicitly including Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Fidel Castro), which in reality rejected and even banned the theory of evolution but according to Johnson’s imagination were all “based in evolutionary doctrine, where men ruled as gods” (the divinity of man is not a central tenet in the theory of evolution). He throws in Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Friedrich Nietzsche, as well, since they preached about the death of God and evolution is atheistic and therefore evolution and atheism are the same as Marxism. There is more, but we are done.

Diagnosis: Not very concerned with truth or accuracy, is he? Not particularly influential, we think, but rather typical for the more idiotic strands of creationism so popular among certain segments of the American population.

Jay Johnson

There is heavy competition for being the most repugnantly deranged lunatic on the Internet, but Sandy Hook truthers put in a good application. According to them, the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax – arranged by the Obama administration or lizard people from space – cleverly designed to increase sympathy for gun control. Of course, a group unscroupolous and powerful enough to pull that off would likely not need to do so to implement gun control and would surely have been able to come up with a more effective means, but logic, reason and evidence don’t figure high on the list of guiding principles for inquiry among people like these. A brief article on the phenomenon is here.

An important resource for all things Sandy Hook conspiracy is the website SandyHookHoax.com. It was created by one Jay Johnson, whose (self-reported) credentials include being “the only person in the world to solve LOST.” He claims that he originally created the website to help the victims, but then realized that “it was 99% odds another psychological operation that was going on.” He also emphasizes that he created the website on “12/21/12.” This is significant, “since I am the New Age Messiah, with my Look Your Heart in the Mirror™ as the new revelation from the Goddess Tefnut, aka Ma’at, of Egypt.” So there’s that, too.

Diagnosis: Needs a hug and someone to love and care for him. Desperately. As such it is unfortunate that we need to recommend people to maintain a safe distance, but we probably should.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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