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TBR News October 6, 2019

Oct 06 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. October 5, 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 6:” There is a horrified rumor gaining ground inside the Beltway that the once-reliable Germans are about to leave NATO and the EU and work out the wrinkles of an economic deal with Putin’s Russia. Already, we are advised, the Germans have reprinted new deutsche marks to replace the euro and their gradual riffing of the Bundeswehr is a sure sign of their departure from the US-controlled NATO.

The Nordstrom pipeline will be completed soon and then the US putative allies of Poland and the Ukraine will be cut off from thefts of transported Russian gas to the west.

Also, it is being rumored, that the Russians have been supporting the Scottish independence movement with money on the agreement that if Scotland separates from the UK, she will kick out the US Navy-CIA naval bases in that country.

And one learns from staff that Trump is boiling with rage over this impeachment issue and is certain to do himself, and loyal Republican senators, great damage by the unchecked use of his large mouth.

Too bad he doesn’t have a large brain to support this flapping organ.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Trump is the kid with his hand in the cookie jar – and Republicans know it
  • ‘Peculiar, irrational, self-destructive’: Trump’s week of impeachment rage
  • Lurking in the Shadows
  • Text Messages Show the Trump-Zelensky Call Had Just One Goal — And It Was Anything but Routine
  • Trump’s Inaccurate Claims About His ‘Perfect’ Call
  • US: Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry
  • The US vs Russia
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The bias that can cause catastrophe

Trump is the kid with his hand in the cookie jar – and Republicans know it

Don’t assume the Senate won’t convict and remove a president who sees the danger and grows more desperate by the day

October 5, 2019

by Robert Reich

The Guardian

Donald Trump will almost certainly be impeached in the House, possibly as soon as Thanksgiving. The odds are rising that he’ll be convicted in the Senate.

There are only two questions at stake, and the answers to both are becoming more obvious to more Americans every day.

The first is whether asking a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent is an impeachable offense. The answer is indubitably yes.

When the framers of the constitution gave Congress the power to impeach a president, one of the high crimes they had in mind was acceding to what Alexander Hamilton called “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils”. James Madison argued for impeachment lest a president “might betray his trust to foreign powers”.

The second question is whether Trump did this. The answer is also an unqualified yes. In the published version of his phone conversation with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump asks for the “favor” of digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

Everything Trump has tried to do to divert attention from these two facts is further undermining his case and his credibility.

He’s been acting like the spoiled child who gets caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar – denying his hand was there, blaming the person who caught him, blaming the cookie jar, blaming the cookie, throwing a tantrum, daring his parents to do anything about it.

Trump denies he ever asked Zelenskiy for help, claiming it’s all hearsay. He blames the whistleblower. He likens the witnesses who informed the whistleblower to “spies”. He blames it on a “political hack job”. He accuses Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee and the person now in charge of the investigation, of “treason”. He calls it a “coup” and suggests that if he’s removed from office there will be civil war. He dares the political system to stop him by publicly calling on China to help dig up dirt on Biden’s son.

Trump’s off-the-wall accusations, tantrums and defiance illustrate the need for parental control. Pelosi and Schiff are the adults – somber and restrained. The more Trump is the out-of-control child, the more they look like responsible parents.

A majority of Americans now support his impeachment.

Trump refuses to allow any administration official to appear before the House committees considering impeachment. No matter, because Congress doesn’t need more evidence. The cookie is in plain sight. Everyone has seen Trump’s hand in the jar.

House Democrats will vote to impeach, but will Senate Republicans vote to convict? Until now that seemed implausible. Democrats hold 47 Senate seats. If they all vote to convict, 20 Republicans would have to join them in order to have the necessary two-thirds of the Senate.

What was implausible is now possible. If the vote were held in secret, says Republican strategist Mike Murphy, 30 Republicans would vote today for impeachment. Former Republican senator Jeff Flake puts the likely number at 35.

Will they go public? Twenty-three Republicans are up for re-election next fall. Most are from red states that support Trump. But in a few months they’ll be safe from primary challenges. They’ll be free to vote him out.

Others – Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, for example – are from purple states where they’ll be challenged by a Democrat and have every incentive to vote Trump out. Trump has no leverage over long-serving senators planning to retire, such as Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Meanwhile, he’s losing support among responsible Senate Republicans like Mitt Romney of Utah, who calls his actions “troubling in the extreme”, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, who urges colleagues not to “circle the wagons”, and intelligence chair Richard Burr of North Carolina, who vows to “get to the bottom” of what happened.

Trump remains hugely popular among Republican voters but most of them care more about the economy than about Trump, and the economy is slowing – in large part because of Trump’s trade wars.

The manufacturing sector is contracting. Spending on warehouses, offices and factories is falling. Agriculture is taking a big hit. A fifth of the economy is effectively in recession. In September, wage growth slowed to weakest pace in more than a year.

It’s still unlikely Trump will be pushed out of office before the 2020 election but the odds are rising by the day. And Trump knows it, which is causing him to behave more like a wild child who deserves to be impeached.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley

 

Peculiar, irrational, self-destructive’: Trump’s week of impeachment rage

As the walls of an impeachment inquiry closed in, Trump’s incoherent statements renewed fears about his fitness for office

October 6, 2019

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

The eye of a storm is deceptively calm. At the White House this week the sun was shining, a bust of Ronald Reagan reposed outside the West Wing office of the press secretary, a US marine saluted the president as he boarded Marine One and scores of African American millennials cheered him in the east room.

But inside Donald Trump’s head, there was no calm. The storm was a firestorm.

The president’s behaviour broke boundaries so stupendously that the fact he congratulated communist China on its 70th birthday, reportedly demanded alligators or snakes and flesh-piercing spikes for his border wall and wrote the unpresidential word “BULLSHIT” on social media were soon relegated to historical footnotes.

Instead, as the walls of an impeachment inquiry closed in, it will be remembered as Trump’s week of rage. His incoherent, wacky statements raised new fears over his state of mind. His brazen invitation to foreign powers to interfere in American elections raised new fears over his moral nihilism.

“It is without parallel,” said Larry Jacobs, the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. “I have never seen a president behave in such a peculiar, irrational and self-destructive way as Trump in the last week.”

This is a drama unfolding on two levels. One is familiar to students of Watergate and other Washington scandals: a river of leaks, subpoenas, transcripts, whistleblowers and closed door committee hearings. The other is something alien: a commander-in-chief who does not deny wrongdoing because he does not see the wrong, but rather recommits in broad daylight, confounding his defenders as if hellbent on self-impeachment.

Jacobs added: “What we’re seeing is the house of cards he built – how he casually manipulated domestic and foreign leaders to work for him – is imploding. It’s not just the occasional leak, but every day there seems to be a new explosion of information that’s even more devastating. Trump looks like he’s in a downward spiral and his efforts to pull out of it are only quickening the rate at which he is losing control of the political process, so even his supporters are asking where this is going.”

The spiral began last month when Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, announced an impeachment inquiry against Trump. It was triggered by an intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint about a July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukraine’s new president to dig up dirt on the family of the former vice-president Joe Biden, his potential opponent in next year’s election.

Last Sunday, Trump used Twitter to paraphrase a conservative pastor predicting that his removal from office could lead to a civil war. The Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, who served in Iraq, said the tweet was “beyond repugnant”. Yet somehow the president managed to become even more apocalyptic as the week wore on.

By Monday he was suggesting that Adam Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee and tip of the impeachment spear, could face “arrest for treason”. By Tuesday, he was following the lead of rightwing allies Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt and Newt Gingrich by casually tossing around the word “coup”.

But the revelations kept coming. It was reported that Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, had dragged Australia, Britain and Italy into their efforts to discredit the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, clashed with the House committees but had to acknowledge that he was on the call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

On Wednesday, things got really crazy. Trump sat in the Oval Office with the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, and lambasted “shifty” Schiff, saying: “You know, there’s an expression: he couldn’t carry his ‘blank’ strap.” Mysteriously, he congratulated Finland for getting rid of Pelosi and Schiff. He also appeared to confess ignorance of the word “moat” as he railed against the Washington Post for a story published by the New York Times.

At a joint press conference, Trump’s fury about impeachment became volcanic. A dogged reporter challenged him repeatedly over what exactly he had hoped Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy would do to Biden and his son Hunter. The irascible president went full Travis Bickle, backing away from the podium and demanding: “Are you talking to me?”

The meltdown fuelled talk about Trump’s psychological fitness for office. Matthew Miller, the former director of the justice department’s public affairs office, said: “The kind of display we saw, where he was disconnected from reality and angry and wallowing in self-pity, we’ve seen before from him but it does seem to be ramping up pretty dramatically. We’re just at the beginning of the impeachment process and it is probably going to get worse for him. Any citizen of this country has to be worried about the prospect of the president cracking up under pressure in the middle of this.”

As Republicans kept mum or scrambled for excuses, a more conventional politician would have retreated to his bunker and said nothing. That is not Trump’s style. He ran towards the fire. The next morning, he walked out of the south portico at the White House to face a human wall of reporters, photographers and cameramen straining to hear him above the roar of the Marine One helicopter.

He not only reiterated his view that Ukraine should look for dirt on the Bidens but added: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” Soliciting foreign help in an election is illegal but Trump had said the quiet part out loud, just as he did during the 2016 election campaign when he asked Russia to make Hillary Clinton’s emails public. There is no evidence that the Bidens were involved in criminal corruption in either Ukraine or China.

Miller added: “First of all, it is fundamentally unacceptable behaviour from the president and second, in the political context, it is the worst possible thing that he could say in his defence. There’s been a lot of polling on this question about whether people think it’s appropriate to ask a foreign government to intervene and the polling is overwhelmingly opposed to the idea. He’s doubling down that this behaviour is OK and that’s a tough position to ask Republican politicians to take.”

Indeed, there was a rare rebuke from two Republican senators. Ben Sasse of Nebraska observed that “Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth”, while Mitt Romney of Utah said: “By all appearances, the president’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

At the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the more orthodox machinery of an impeachment inquiry was whirring on Capitol Hill. Kurt Volker, who resigned last week as the special envoy to Ukraine, was interviewed by members of the House for almost 10 hours. He gave them dozens of text messages, which were later released, showing that Volker and two other diplomats discussed how to navigate Trump’s demands.

In one exchange, Volker and the Ambassador Gordon Sondland discussed a draft statement in which the Ukrainian government would announce an investigation into the 2016 US presidential election and into a company where Hunter Biden was a board member. “This is my nightmare scenario,” read one message between the three diplomats. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Pelosi, meanwhile, was handing out subpoenas “like cookies”, Trump grumbled. There was one for Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and the White House itself, with the threat of court action if it does not comply. Democrats also want documents, recordings and communications from the vice-president, Mike Pence, regarding the July call and an earlier call in April.

All of which left impeachment by the House looking likelier than ever. But if that happens, two thirds of the Senate would be required to convict and remove Trump from office, which would be a first in American history. That means of the 53 Republicans currently in the Senate, he would only need 34 to remain loyal.

Commentators have been quick to note that the former president Richard Nixon also enjoyed robust Republican support in 1974 until suddenly he didn’t. But Nixon’s grandson, Christopher Nixon Cox, said he believes Trump is in a much stronger position. “I think the difference with Watergate and my grandfather is you didn’t have the conservative media, talk radio, Fox News, some of the newspapers, you certainly didn’t have a Republican majority in either house. So it was really just my grandfather and his defenders in the administration and that was it for the voices out there. Certainly Republicans having control of the Senate makes a huge difference.

“I also think another big difference that is maybe not as well understood is the link between the economy and Watergate, which was that it was really a bad economy that sunk my grandfather’s poll numbers and then you got Watergate on top of that and that’s where he ran into trouble. The president’s economy is much stronger than the economy my grandfather had and I think that’s that’s a big benefit for him as well.”

Cox, 40, a businessman who made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2010, believes there is no chance of the Republican-controlled Senate convicting Trump. But Richard Painter, a former chief White House ethics lawyer who believes that Trump is “clearly abusing his power”, said Republican senators could yet be tempted to remove the president from office if they calculate Pence has a better chance in the 2020 election.

He said: “If they were going to go against Trump, they meet behind closed doors, look at the evidence and say, ‘Look, we’re just gonna switch quarterbacks here and we’re going to have Pence and we’re gonna tell Trump to leave’. I think that could be a possibility because I know a lot of Republican senators behind closed doors are mad as heck about Trump’s behaviour. They think it’s ridiculous.”

Niinistö, the latest foreign leader to find himself caught by White House whiplash, urged America to keep its democracy going, a sentiment evocative of a Benjamin Franklin line that Pelosi has been quoting lately: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The world is watching.

Joe Crowley, a former Democratic congressman from New York, said: “They know that this president is erratic and not very trustworthy but now they also know that he himself cannot discern between right and wrong. Obviously it is disturbing to us as Americans but I think the whole world is looking at this and is disturbed that something like this could happen to America. And we need it to end before it goes any further.”

 

Lurking in the Shadows

 

The current American President is directly descended from the German Trumpf family. His ancestor in the direct line was Johannes Trump(f), a native of the village of Kallstadt.

The same Trumpf family also produced one Arnold Wilhelm August Trumpf.

Arnold Trumpf was Vorstand Reichsverband Deutscher Landwirtschaftlicher Genossenschaften-Raiffensene.V and Hauptabteilungsleiter III of the Reichsnahrstand, Allegemeine SS since 1934.

Trumpf was a director of the Reichsbank.

SS background of Arnold Trumpf:

SS-Oberführer / Leutnant d.R. a.D.

Born: 27. Oct. 1892 in Gifhorn

Died: 7. January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen

NSDAP-Nr.: 389 920 from 1, December 1930

SS-Nr.: 187 119

Promotions:

 SS-Oberfuhrer: 30. Jan. 1939

Career:

Bei dem RuS-Hauptamt: (9. Nov. 1944)

Decorations & Awards:

1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse

 Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter

 Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz

 Ehrenkreuz fur Frontkampfer

 Ehrendegen des RF SS

 Totenkopfring der SS

The RuSHA was founded in 1931 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler

Among their duties were:

  • Kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization
  • Population transfers
  • The persecution and liquidation of Jews

 

The RuSHA also employed Josef Mengele from November 1940 to early 1941, in Department II of its Family Office, where he was responsible for “care of genetic health” and “genetic health tests”

References:

  • http://de.metapedia.org/wiki/Trumpf,_Arnold
  • Das Deutsche Führerlexikon, Otto Stollberg G.m.b.H., Berlin 1934
  • Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der NSDAP 9, November 1944

 

Text Messages Show the Trump-Zelensky Call Had Just One Goal — And It Was Anything but Routine

October 4, 2019

by Alex Emmons

The Intercept

Newly released text messages between State Department officials provide the clearest evidence yet that President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was not “routine,” and that it was organized specifically to pressure the Ukrainian government to undertake politically motivated investigations.

The White House’s reconstruction of the July 25 call released earlier this month showed Trump asking Zelensky for a “favor” and repeatedly pressing him to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden for “corruption.” The readout galvanized calls for Trump’s impeachment, but it didn’t explain how the call came about in the first place.

The intelligence community whistleblower complaint that first drew attention to the call suggested that Trump’s request came in the midst of an ordinary diplomatic exchange. “The officials I spoke with told me that participation in the call had not been restricted in advance because everyone expected it would be a ‘routine’ call with a foreign leader,” the complaint reads.

But text messages from Kurt Volker, the State Department’s former special representative for Ukraine negotiations, say that the “most important” priority for Trump’s phone call with Zelensky was getting the Ukrainian leader to commit to an investigation of the Bidens.

“Most imp[ortan]t is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation — and address any personnel issues — if there are any,” Volker texted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on July 19, less than a week before the call took place, according to text messages released Thursday night by House investigators.

july-19-volker-sondland-1570214880Document: U.S. Congress

On July 22, three days before the Trump-Zelensky call, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke with Andrey Yermak, a top adviser to Zelensky. Later that day, Volker texted that “Rudy is now advocating for a phone call” between Trump and the Ukrainian president. Giuliani’s push for the call suggests that it was in line with his goal of digging up dirt on the Bidens.

On the morning of July 25, before the Trump-Zelensky call, Volker texted Yermak, strongly implying that a future White House visit for Zelensky was conditional on the Ukrainian president committing to an investigation of “‘what happened’ in 2016,” an apparent reference to a widely debunked conspiracy theory alleging Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election.

july-25-volker-1570214882Document: U.S. Congress

In Trump’s call with Zelensky later that day, in addition to pressuring him to investigate the Bidens, the U.S. president asked Zelensky to “get to the bottom” of a CrowdStrike server he falsely alleged was in the Ukraine.

The texts released by investigators also contain protests from Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in the U.S. embassy in Kiev. On multiple occasions, Taylor asked Sondland and Volker, both Trump appointees, whether diplomatic channels or military aid was being leveraged to press Ukraine to push politically motivated investigations.

In one text, Taylor relayed to Sondland something a Zelenksy aide had told him: that “President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”

One contrast revealed in the texts is between the response of Taylor, a veteran State Department employee, and that of Sondland and Volker, both political appointees. Sondland was a major donor to Trump’s campaign, while Volker previously served as U.S. ambassador to NATO before leaving for the private sector in 2009. Taylor is a longtime diplomat who served in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

On September 1, after Trump canceled a scheduled visit to Poland where he was scheduled to meet with Zelensky, Taylor texted: “Are we now saying that security assistance and a [White House] meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland responded: “Call me.”

sept-1-taylor-sondland-1570214883Document: U.S. Congress

Republican talking points have focused on denying that there was an explicit quid pro quo in Trump’s phone call, even though the White House readout has him saying, “The United States has been very, very good for Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily” and asking for a “favor.” But Taylor’s texts indicate that, as the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, he interpreted Trump’s message as an invitation to trade a politically motivated investigation for U.S. assistance and a White House visit.

During a conversation later in September, Taylor reiterated that he thought the notion of such a trade was inappropriate. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Sondland responded that Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions” and “the President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s [sic] of any kind.”

 

Trump’s Inaccurate Claims About His ‘Perfect’ Call

October 3, 2019

by Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson and D’Angelo Gore

FactCheck

President Donald Trump’s request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, has triggered an impeachment inquiry. Since then, the president has made a series of inaccurate claims about his phone call with Zelensky, which he calls “perfect.”

Here are some of the claims the president has made over the past two days about the phone call and the whistleblower’s complaint, which included an accurate account of the phone call:

  • The president wrongly claimed that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified that Trump’s phone call with Zelensky was “very normal.” Maguire did not characterize the phone call in his testimony before the House intelligence committee.
  • Trump falsely claimed that a White House-released memo on his July 25 phone call with Zelensky was “an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation … taken by very talented stenographers.” The memo includes a “caution” note saying it “is not a verbatim transcript.”
  • Trump said that “the whistleblower never saw the conversation” and “wrote something that was total fiction.” The whistleblower said he received “a readout of the call,” and Maguire said the complaint is consistent with a White House memo of the call. (Trump also wrongly denied that Maguire found the two consistent.)
  • Trump claimed that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell “put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he’s read.” McConnell said it wasn’t an impeachable offense, but did not describe the call as “innocent.”
  • Trump also claimed that Sen. Rick Scott of Florida described the call as “a perfect conversation.” Scott didn’t use those words, but like McConnell he said he didn’t see the call as an impeachable offense.

Maguire: Complaint ‘in Alignment’ with Memo

On Aug. 12, an anonymous intelligence community official filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the president of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The complaint included a description of a July 25 phone call that Trump made to Zelensky, who was elected the president of Ukraine on April 21.

On the call, “the President pressured Mr. Zelenskyy to … initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden,” and assist a U.S. review of allegations that the “Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine,” according to the whistleblower’s complaint. Trump asked Zelensky to “meet or speak with two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani and Attorney General [William] Barr,” the complaint said.

That description was confirmed by a memo of the call, which the White House released on Sept. 25.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” the memo says Trump told Zelensky. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”

The memo of the call also showed Trump asked Zelensky to “find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine” and the 2016 presidential campaign, and urged him to speak with Barr and Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.

At a Sept. 26 House intelligence committee hearing, Rep. Joaquin Castro asked Maguire, the acting DNI, if the whistleblower’s complaint is “remarkably consistent” with the memo of the phone call that was released by the White House.

“I would say that the whistleblower’s complaint is in alignment with what was released yesterday by the president,” Maguire said.

Nevertheless, the president misstated Maguire’s answer when asked about it during an exchange with reporters in the Oval Office.

Reporter, Oct. 2: But your own DNI said the call transcript was consistent with the complaint. So, should only whistleblowers —

Trump: No, no, no, he didn’t say that. You have to take a look.

Reporter: He did say that.

Trump: No, no, no. He did not say that. And, in fact, if you look at what he said, he found everything to be very normal. He’s a good man, and — Joe. And he found it to be very normal.

Maguire did not say he found the conversation to be “very normal.” Those words don’t appear in the CQ Transcriptions and C-SPAN transcripts of the hearing that we reviewed. Maguire wasn’t asked directly whether the call was appropriate or not, but he demurred several times when asked if the allegations in the complaint were concerning or illegal.

In an exchange with Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, Maguire declined to say if soliciting foreign interference in a U.S. election is illegal. “I’m not a lawyer, sir. I don’t mean to be evasive, but I can’t answer,” Maguire said. But in response to a follow-up question, Maguire said outside foreign interference would be “unwanted” and “bad for the nation.”

Heck, Sept. 26: Is it okay for a president to pressure — any president — to pressure a foreign government for help to win an election?

Maguire: It is unwarranted. It is unwelcome. It is bad for the nation to have outside interference, any foreign power.

Maguire repeatedly said the complaint was credible, and that it should be investigated. Asked if “someone should investigate this,” Maguire noted that he referred the complaint to the Department of Justice. “If I didn’t [think it should be investigated], I would not have referred it to the Justice Department and to the FBI.”

But he also said he wouldn’t presume to tell the committee whether it should investigate the president or not, and he wouldn’t tell the president how to conduct foreign policy.

In response to Democratic Rep. Michael Quigley, who asked if the complaint concerned him, Maguire said: “How the president of the United States wants to conduct diplomacy is his business, and it’s not whether or not I approve it or disapprove of it. That is the president’s business on how he wants to conduct that, sir.”

‘Not a Verbatim Transcript’

Trump claimed on Oct. 2 that the White House-released memo on his July 25 phone call with Zelensky was “an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation … taken by very talented stenographers.” That’s incorrect. The memo includes a “caution” note saying it “is not a verbatim transcript.”

The president made the claim before a bilateral meeting with the president of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, and then repeated it later on Oct. 2 in a press conference. Trump said, “I had a transcript done by very, very talented people — word for word, comma for comma. Done by people that do it for a living. We had an exact transcript.”

But the memo itself leaves no doubt that it is not an “exact transcript.” It is the “notes and recollections,” it said, of staff “assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation.”

Here’s the full “caution” note that appears at the bottom of the first page of the White House’s memo on the phone call:

Memo of July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call: CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation. The word “inaudible” is used to indicate portions of a conversation that the notetaker was unable to hear.

How the Memo Compares to the Complaint

Trump has made several claims about the memo refuting the whistleblower complaint, referring, falsely, at one point to the complaint as “total fiction.” The White House memo actually corroborates some of the whistleblower’s claims, which the inspector general of the intelligence community deemed an “‘urgent concern’ that ‘appears credible.’”

In his Oct. 2 press conference, Trump talked about releasing the “exact transcript” (see above) and added, “And when we produced that transcript, they died. Because you look at the whistleblower statement, and it’s vicious.”

On Oct. 3, he said, “The whistleblower never saw the conversation. He got his information, I guess, second and third hand. He wrote something that was total fiction, and now when people see that they’re not happy.”

We’ll lay out what the whistleblower and the White House memo said about the July 25 phone call.

The whistleblower complaint said that “[m]ultiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call” said that Trump “sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.” It said that, according to these officials, Trump “pressured” Zelensky to do three things:

  • “initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden”;
  • “assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike”;
  • “meet or speak” about these matters “with two people” – Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr – “to whom the President referred multiple times in tandem.”

Trump denies that he “pressured” Zelensky to do these things. But the White House memo of the call shows he asked for them, with the exception of explicitly asking for the servers to be turned over — though Trump asks about the DNC server. The memo is unclear on this point.

The White House memo said Trump asked Zelensky:

  • “The other thing, [t]here’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.” (See: “Trump Twists Facts on Biden and Ukraine.”)
  • “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.” (The ellipses are part of the memo, so, presumably, some of what the president was asking for related to this conspiracy theory is left out.)
  • “Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General.”

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out.”

“I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call.”

So, the White House memo backs up the whistleblower’s complaint on the three main asks Trump had of Zelensky in the phone call.

The complaint also said: “The President also praised Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, and suggested that Mr. Zelenskyy might want to keep him in his position.”

Trump twice praised a Ukrainian prosecutor general, saying, “Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair,” according to the White House memo. “I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor.”

Mitch McConnell

Trump claimed that Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell “read my phone call” and “put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he’s read.” “I spoke to him about it too,” Trump said.

We don’t know what McConnell told Trump privately — his Senate office did not respond to a request for comment. But we did not find that McConnell used the “most innocent” language in his public remarks and press releases, or on social media.

McConnell did release a statement to Politico for its Sept. 25 story about the Senate majority leader’s response to “Trump’s Ukraine scandal.” However, the statement does not support Trump’s claim.

“I’ve read the summary of the call,” McConnell said, according to the story. “If this is the ‘launching point’ for House Democrats’ impeachment process, they’ve already overplayed their hand. It’s clear there is no quid pro quo that the Democrats were desperately praying for.”

Politico reported that McConnell’s statement also said it is “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense.”

McConnell’s statement clearly dismisses some of the criticism of Trump’s call with Zelensky, but he doesn’t describe the call as “innocent,” either.

The White House did not provide any other statements from McConnell.

Rick Scott

In his Oct. 2 press conference, Trump also claimed that Sen. Rick Scott of Florida described the call as “a perfect conversation.” Scott didn’t use those words.

“I heard Rick Scott today say, ‘That was a perfect conversation. How can they impeach him on that conversation?’” Trump said.

Scott didn’t say the call was “perfect”; he has actually said he would have said things differently than Trump. But he did say he didn’t see the call as an impeachable offense.

“I still don’t see what the crime is,” Scott said in a Fox News interview earlier that day. “I keep saying, show me what the crime is. No one ever says that. They say he shouldn’t have done it. Well, all of us would do things differently than other people would do it but if we’re going to impeach somebody there ought to be something they did wrong.”

“When you read the transcript, the president says things differently than I would say them but, again, what they’re talking about, is there a violation of law?” Scott said in an interview with a Spectrum News reporter the week prior. “And I didn’t see it. No one’s shown me a law that the president violated.”

 

 

 

US: Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry

US Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry said they had “no choice” but to subpoena the Trump administration. They accuse the White House of refusing to hand over documents and of actively obstructing the inquiry.

October 5. 2019

DW

Democrats in the House of Representatives have demanded the White House hand over documents relating to the impeachment inquiry.

The heads of the Democratic-led committees involved in the investigation said in a joint statement to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that they “deeply regret” having to issue subpoenas for the investigation, but that President Donald Trump had left them with “no choice.”

“The White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — multiple requests for documents from our committees on a voluntary basis. After nearly a month of stonewalling, it appears clear that the president has chosen the path of defiance, obstruction, and cover-up,” the committee chairmen wrote.

House Democrats have given Trump until October 18 to produce the documents they have requested. Subpoenas have also been sent to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The subpoenas are the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump administration and the Democratic-led House, since a whistleblower report of a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy triggered the impeachment inquiry last week.

The US president is being investigated for allegedly using his office and US military aid to pressure Zelenskiy to open an investigation into the son of his 2020 political rival, Joe Biden.

Democrats seek Pence’s records

Trump has accused Democrats of carrying out “a coup” and doubled down on the notion that Biden’s son, Hunter, should be investigated for his activities in Ukraine.

On Thursday the president publicly urged China to investigate the Bidens, in televised remarks to reporters outside the White House.

Democrats have also sent an extensive request for information to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine. His office has dismissed the request, saying that given its wide scope “it does not appear to be a serious request.”

The US vs Russia

October 5, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The first serious, and successful, U.S. direct interference in Russian leadership policies was in 1953. An ageing Josef Stalin, suffering from arteriosclerosis and becoming increasingly hostile to his subordinates, was poisoned by Laverenti P. Beria, head of his secret police. Beria, was a Mingrelian Jew, very ruthless and a man who ordered and often supervised the executions of people Stalin suspected of plotting against him, had fallen out of favor with Stalin and had come to believe that he was on the list of those Stalin wished to remove. With his intelligence connection, Beria was contacted by the American CIA through one of his trusted agents in Helskinki and through this contact, Beria was supplied dosages of warfarin  The first drug in the class to be widely commercialized was dicoumarol itself, patented in 1941 and later used as a pharmaceutical. It is apotent coumarin-based anticoagulants for use as rodent poisons, resulting in warfarin in 1948. The name warfarin stems from the acronym WARF, for Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation + the ending -arin indicating its link with coumarin. Warfarin was first registered for use as a rodenticide in the US in 1948, and was immediately popular; although it was developed by Link, the WARF financially supported the research and was assigned the patent.

Warfarin was used by a Lavrenti Beria to poison Stalin. Stalin’s cooks and personal bodyguards were all under the direct control of  Beria. He acknowledged to other top Soviet leaders that he had poisoned Stalin, according to Molotov’s memoirs. Nikita Khrushchev and others to poison Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Warfarin is tasteless and colorless, and produces symptoms similar to those that Stalin exhibited. Stalin collapsed during the night after a dinner with Beria and other Soviet leaders, and died four days later on 5 March 1953.

Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, in his political memoirs (published posthumously in 1993), claimed that Beria told him that he had poisoned Stalin. “I took him out,” Beria supposedly boasted. There is evidence that after Stalin was found unconscious, medical care was not provided for many hours. Other evidence of the murder of Stalin by Beria associates was presented by Edvard Radzinsky in his biography Stalin. It has been suggested that warfarin was used; it would have produced the symptoms reported.

After the fall of Gorbachev and his replacement by Boris Yeltsin, a known CIA connection, the Russian criminal mob was encouraged by the CIA to move into the potentially highly lucrative Russian natural resource field.

By 1993 almost all banks in Russia were owned by the mafia, and 80% of businesses were paying protection money. In that year, 1400 people were murdered in Moscow, crime members killed businessmen who would not pay money to them, as well as reporters, politicians, bank owners and others opposed to them. The new criminal class of Russia took on a more Westernized and businesslike approach to organized crime as the more code-of-honor based Vory faded into extinction.

The Izmaylovskaya gang was considered one of the country’s most important and oldest Russian Mafia groups in Moscow and also had a presence in Tel Aviv, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, Miami and New York City. It was founded during the 1980s under the leadership of Oleg Ivanov and was estimated to consist of about 200 active members (according to other data of 300–500 people). In principle, the organization was divided into two separate bodies—Izmailovskaya and Gol’yanovskaya  which utilized quasi-military ranks and strict internal discipline. It was involved extensively in murder-for-hire, extortions, and infiltration of legitimate businesses.

The gangs were termed the Oligarchy and were funded by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Israeli-owned Bank of New York all with the assisance of the American government.

The arrival of Vladimir Putin as the new leader of Russia was at first ignored in Washington. A former KGB Lt. Colonel who had been stationed in East Germany, Putin was viewed as inconsequential, bland and colorless by the purported Russian experts in both the Department of State and the CIA.

Putin, however, proved to be a dangerous opponent who blocked the Oligarchs attempt to control the oil fields and other assets, eventual control of which had been promised to both American and British firms.

The Oligarchs were allowed to leave the country and those remaining behind were forced to follow Putin’s policies. Foreign control over Russian natural resources ceased and as both the CIA, various foreign firms and the American government had spent huge sums greasing the skids, there was now considerable negative feelings towards Putin.

The next serious moves against Russia came with a plan conceived by the CIA and fully approved by President George W. Bush, whose father had once been head of the CIA.

This consisted of ‘Opertion Sickle’ which was designed to surround the western and southern borders of Russia with states controlled by the United States through the guise of NATO membership. Included in this enricelement program were the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Georgia and a number of asiatic states bordering southern Russia. It was the stated intention of the NATO leadership to put military missiles in all these countries. The so-called “Orange Revolution” funded and directed by the CIA, overthrew the pro-Moscow government in the Ukraine, giving the United States theoretical control over the heavy industrialized Donetz Basin and most importantly, the huge former Soviet naval base at Sebastopol.

The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an American-sponsored 18-month, $64-million program aimed at increasing the capabilities of the Georgian armed forces by training and equipping four 600-man battalions with light weapons, vehicles and communications. The program enabled the US to expedite funding for the Georgian military for Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 6, 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. 72

Date: Sunday, March 2, 1997

Commenced: 1:45 PM CST

Concluded: 2:05 PM CST

GD: That’s either a vacuum cleaner in the background or the Martians are attacking.

RTC: I hate to disappoint you, Gregory. It’s indeed a vacuum cleaner.

GD: Well, we have spoken about flying saucers before so I thought you might have had a run in with them. It’s amazing, the stories people believe.

RTC: Or they want to believe.

GD: Well, crazy old L. Ron Hubbard tells us that his special people, the Thetans, were flown here from outer space in DC3s.

RTC: No, not that. In what? Piston engined aircraft? From….there is no atmosphere up there.

GD: Hubbard started Scientology in the early ‘50s and his writings are full of such silliness.

RTC: A crock of shit, all of it. Still, we were watching him when he was gadding around the Med in an old tub. No one had any idea what the old nut was up to and we knew he had KGB contacts. Not that he was pro-Commie but he was one of those people who believe his own nonsense and the Russians love to get their hands on such like. Stroke him like a cat and get him to work with them. They’re smart and he’s not. We knew his high command was full of foreign agents but we had a hell of a time getting at him. Very well protected. The KGB and the Stasi for sure and we think the Chinks had a hand in the game. The FBI had some snitches planted on him but the whole thing was like play time in a nut house. Still, the old fool made hundreds of millions of dollars of the sucker brigades and it is very hard to argue with that kind of scratch.

GD: Agreed. I am still trying to make up my mind whether Hubbard was a visionary or a self-deluded crook. Your people viewed him as a spy?

RTC: No, we did not but we felt he could do a lot of damage if we didn’t keep an eye on him.

GD: Did you?

RTC: Yes, we planted people with him. Strange, Gregory. The Company, the FBI, the KGB, the Stasi and others all used to work together, all playing roles. We mostly knew who the others were but just never mentioned.

GD: Hubbard died under odd circumstances out in California.

RTC: He was removed, Gregory. The old man was going around the bend and those just under him were afraid he would blow it and they would be kicked out, away from huge sums of money and with the money, growing political power.  One injection of the wrong kind and off he went to flying saucer heaven in the sky. They cremated the old man and dumped him into the ocean off the back of a fishing boat.

GD: Sic Gloria transit mundi.

RTC: Oh yes indeed..

GD: A friend of mine’s grandmother was cubically rich but getting really soft and the Scientologists got their hands on her. They wanted her to give all her money to them so my friend, knowing what I really am, came to me for assistance.

RTC: How much did you get out of it?

GD: You assume I was successful in driving them off.

RTC: That’s a given.

GD: I had a terrible time, especially with Linda. She was a vicious bitch and had her hooks into the old lady very deeply. I met her several times, passed off by my friend as a nephew. God, she hated me because she could see I didn’t believe a word of her nonsense. I had my problems with that one, believe it. First off, I got the old lady to like and trust me. Believe me, I can do that when I want to. Anyway, I got a power of attorney from her, put all her money into an iron-clad trust with the interest going to her and a percentage to her grandson. I mean she was a very decent person but talking to dead relatives and losing bladder control. I got her into a really excellent nursing home that I inspected very carefully. I used to work for Catholic Charities and I know something about nursing homes. Anyway, I made sure the old girl was safe and then I dealt with Linda. She was livid with rage over my presence so I had to neutralize her. It took a baggie of heroin under the front seat of her car, a silenced pistol in the trunk and two telephone calls and Linda was trying to convert people in her cellblock.

RTC: I thought you might have dispatched her to be with Hubbard.

GD: I thought about it but it wasn’t worth it. The old lady was safe and sound and her grandson was set for life. Of course he was more than generous to me for my work but I got quite a view of the working side of the Scientology game. Very effective what with the e-meter and the gabble. A lot of pitiful dimwits running around, looking for answers from someone else. Linda bit a federal agent so they added assault to her ticket.

RTC: I take it you disapprove of the Scientologists?

GD: No, actually I don’t. I believe that everyone should find Heaven in their own way. But not on my front porch and not pushing money into the pockets of thieving politicians . I have Mormon friends and I have the highest regard for their family life. Fine people with well-raised, first class children. They have very strange beliefs but I pay more attention to what they practice rather than what they preach.

RTC: Lots of LDS people in the Bureau.

GD: High minded and honest. I have no problem with that. The problem with cults like Scientology is that they want everyone to see what they see, or think they see, and they grab you by the lapels and shout in your face…and leave literature behind. I’m a practicing agnostic and a pragmatist, Robert, but from time to time, I have to deal with nasty people like Linda. I knew a fellow that was great company until I learned that he was sexually abusing his children. It took me two weeks of hard work, Robert, but he got caught and sent off. Rob an insurance company or a bank and you get no response from me but mess with little children and you can believe me when I say that I will do everything in my power to stop it. Since I am ruthless and have no conscience whatsoever, I am usually successful. Oh yes, and going after crazy old ladies is another of my annoyances. Linda did three years and although I have not encountered her after her fall from grace, I would imagine she goes a bit more quietly now.

RTC: Given all of that, what would you do if she ran up on you now?

GD: Kill her, Robert, very dead. Take the remains out to a big hog farm and toss them over the fence. Hogs will eat anything, even dead Scientologists.

RTC: They tell me hogs are smart.

GD: They are indeed but they are a wonderful garbage disposal system. And there Linda would be…and there Linda would be…and over there, that’s Linda too! What a fate, Robert. Steaming piles of hog turds in the mud.

RTC: Gregory, you are indeed rather unique. Have you done the hog farm thing?

GD: Only God and the hogs know that one. Ask and it shall not be answered but sniff and you might find.

 

(Concluded at 2:05PM 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

Scott Shifferd

 

Scott Shifferd, jr. is the minister of Dean Road Church of Christ in Jacksonville, and a creationist. Like most creationists, Shifferd doesn’t remotely understand evolution. Rather he regurgitates talking points from young-earth creationists who really, really don’t understand evolution either. The results are dismal. Shifferd’s top ten reasons “why evolution is false” read like a series of self-parodying jokes; but then Shifferd never cared about reasons. He cares about the Bible. For instance, one reason for why “evolution is false” is the “Pagan Origins of Evolution: Evolution emerged from pagan mythology and was promoted among Greek philosophers like Anaximander […]”; indeed, apparently (ostensibly according to 1st century BC sources) “one of the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians was that evolution was the origin of life describing swamps and marches being impregnated with life and the early beastial life of men living in caves, gathering food, discovering fire, and developing unintelligible sounds into languages.” This is … not the theory of evolution, and his “reason” would of course not have been a reason, but a familiar fallacy, even if it were. Then (after a couple of other, similar non-sequiturs) we get the familiar ones: did you know that “[e]volution rests on refuted conjectures and frauds.” Why? Because all “missing link[s]” (no, he doesn’t know anything about evolution) have turned out to be hoaxes, like the Piltdown man. And Haeckel’s embryos. And so on. It doesn’t matter that the claims have been refuted a thousand times already. This was never about accuracy, truth or honest assessment.

Elsewhere Shifferd has argued that atheism is false because evolution cannot explain morality. We can probably safely conclude that Shifferd has taken as few (philosophical) ethics classes as (science-based) biology classes.

Of course, Shifferd wouldn’t know what “science-based” means: “Atheists uses pseudo-science to support their assertions. Science is observable and testable, but the evolution of many kinds and life arising naturally from non-living material is not observable or testable.” This, of course, is not remotely how it works. Science is based on hypotheses being tested against the observable data the hypothesis predicts, not that the contents of the hypotheses are observable – that’s sort of the whole point of science, to learn something about stuff that go beyond direct observation from the testable consequences of claims about such stuff. And “the evolution of many kinds” is, indeed, very much testable. (Abiogenesis, of course, is not part of the theory of evolution.)

Diagnosis: Ok, so this is probably just another village idiot speaking to his congregation, and he probably doesn’t really care about understanding the stuff he is talking about. It is still nonsense though, and he deserves to be called out on it.

 

The bias that can cause catastrophe

The outcome bias erodes your sense of risk and makes you blind to error, explaining everything from fatal plane crashes to the Columbia crash and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

October 2, 2019

by David Robson

BBC News

Imagine a pilot is taking a familiar flight along a known route, during which the weather takes a turn for the worst. She knows that flying through the storm comes with some serious risks – and according to her training, she should take a detour or return. But she has flown the same route before, in similar weather – and she hadn’t experienced any problems then. Should she continue? Or should she turn back?

If you believe that she is safe to fly on, then you have fallen for a cognitive quirk known as the “outcome bias”. Studies have shown that we often judge the quality of a decision or behaviour by its endpoint, while ignoring the many mitigating factors that might have contributed to success or failure – and that this can render us oblivious to potentially catastrophic errors in our thinking.

We often judge the quality of a decision or behaviour by its endpoint, while ignoring the many mitigating factors that might have contributed to success or failure

In this example, the decision to take the previous flight was itself very risky – and the pilot may have only avoided an accident through a combination of lucky circumstances. But thanks to the outcome bias, she might ignore this possibility and assume that either the dangers had been overrated, or that it was her extraordinary skill that got her through, leading her to feel even happier taking the risk again in the future. And the more she does it, the less concerned about the danger she becomes.

Besides leading us to become increasingly risky in our decision-making, the outcome bias can lead us to ignore incompetence and unethical behaviour in our colleagues. And the consequences can be truly terrifying, with studies suggesting that it has contributed to many famous catastrophes, including the crash of Nasa’s Columbia shuttle and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

The end, not the means

Like much of our understanding of human irrationality, the outcome bias was first observed in the 1980s, with a seminal study of medical decision-making.

Participants were given descriptions of various scenarios, including the risks and benefits of the different procedures, and then asked to rate the quality of the doctors’ judgement.

The participants were told about a doctor’s choice to offer a patient a heart bypass, for instance – potentially adding many more years of good health, but with a small chance of death during the operation. Perhaps predictably, the participants judged the doctor’s decision far more harshly if they were told the patient subsequently died than when they were told that the patient lived – even though the benefits and risks were exactly the same in each case.

The outcome bias is so deeply ingrained in our brains that it’s easy to understand why they would feel that the doctor should be punished for the patient’s death. Yet the participants’ reasoning is not logical, since there would have been no better way for the doctor to have weighed up that evidence – at the time of making the decision there was every chance the operation would have been a success. Once you know about the tragedy, however, it’s hard to escape that nagging feeling that the doctor was nevertheless at fault – leading the participants to question his competence.

Negative results lead us to blame someone for events that were clearly beyond their control, even when we know all the facts that excuse their decision-making

“We just have a hard time dissociating the random events that, along with the quality of the decision, jointly contribute to the outcome,” explains Krishna Savani at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The finding, published in 1988, has been replicated many times, showing that negative results lead us to blame someone for events that were clearly beyond their control, even when we know all the facts that excuse their decision-making. And we now know that the opposite is also true: thanks to the outcome bias, a positive result can lead us to ignore flawed decision-making that should be kept in check, giving people a free pass for unacceptable behaviour.

With outcome bias, we tend to blame someone, such as a doctor, for negative results of an event beyond their control and vice versa

In one experiment by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School, participants were told a story about a scientist who fudged their results to prove the efficacy of a drug they were testing. Gino found that the participants were less critical of the scientist’s behaviour if the drug turned out to be safe and effective than if it turned out to have dangerous side effects. Ideally, of course, you would judge both situations equally harshly – since an employee who behaves so irresponsibly could be a serious liability in the future.

Such flawed thinking is a serious issue when considering things like promotion. It means that an investor, say, could be rewarded for a lucky streak in their performance even if there is clear evidence of incompetent or unethical behaviour, since their boss is unable to disconnect their decision-making from their results. Conversely, it shows how a failure can subtly harm your reputation even if there is clear evidence that you had acted appropriately based on the information at hand.

It’s a big problem that people are either being praised, or being blamed, for events that were largely determined by chance – Krishna Savani

“It’s a big problem that people are either being praised, or being blamed, for events that were largely determined by chance,” says Savani. “And this is relevant for government policy makers, for business managers – for anyone who’s making a decision.”

The outcome bias may even affect our understand of sport. Arturo Rodriguez at the University of Chile recently examined pundits’ ratings of footballers on Goal.com. In games that had to be decided by penalty shootouts, he found that the results of those few short minutes at the end of the game swayed the experts’ judgements of the players’ performance throughout the whole match. Crucially, that was even true for the players who hadn’t scored any goals. “The result of the shoot-out had a significant impact on the individual evaluation of the players – even if they didn’t participate in it,” Rodriguez says. They could simply bask in the victory of others.

Near misses

The outcome bias’s most serious consequences, however, concern our perceptions of risk.

One study of general aviation, for instance, examined pilots’ evaluations of flying under perilous weather conditions with poor visibility. It found that pilots were more likely to underestimate the dangers of the flight if they had just heard that another pilot had successfully made it through the same route. In reality, there is no guarantee that their success would mean a safe passage for the second flight – they may have only made it through by luck – but the outcome bias means that the pilots overlooked this fact.

If someone weathers one storm unscathed, they become less likely to purchase flood insurance before the next disaster

Catherine Tinsley, at Georgetown University, has found a similar pattern in people’s responses to natural disasters like hurricanes. If someone weathers one storm unscathed, they become less likely to purchase flood insurance before the next disaster, for instance.

Tinsley’s later research suggests that this phenomenon may explain many organisational failings and catastrophes too. The crash of Nasa’s Columbia shuttle was caused by foam insulation breaking off an external tank during the launch, creating debris that struck a hole through the wing of the orbiter. The foam had broken from the insulation on many previous flights, however – but due to lucky circumstance it had never before created enough damage to cause a crash.

Outcome bias has resulted in deadly consequences due to dismissed risks, as seen in such catastrophes as Nasa’s Columbia shuttle and natural disasters (Credit: Alamy Photos)

Organizations should emphasise everyone’s responsibility for spotting latent risks and reward people for reporting them

Inspired by these findings, Tinsley’s team asked participants to consider a hypothetical mission with a near miss and to rate the project leader’s competence. She found that emphasising factors like safety, and the organisation’s visibility, meant that people were more likely to spot the event as a warning sign of a potential danger. The participants were also more conscious of the latent danger if they were told they would have to explain their judgement to a senior manager. Given these findings, organisations should emphasise everyone’s responsibility for spotting latent risks and reward people for reporting them.

Savani agrees that we can protect ourselves from the outcome bias. He has found, for instance, that priming people to think more carefully about the context surrounding a decision or behaviour can render them less susceptible to the outcome effect. The aim should be to think about the particular circumstances in which it was made and to recognise the factors, including chance, that might have contributed to the end result.

One way to do this is to engage in counter-factual thinking when assessing your or someone else’s performance, he says. What factors might have caused that different outcome? And would you still rate the decision or process the same way, if that had occurred?

Consider that case of the scientist who was fudging their drug results. Even if the drug was safe in the end, imagining the worst-case scenario – with patient deaths – would make you more conscious of the risks he was taking. Similarly, if you were that pilot who chose to fly in unsuitable conditions, you might look at each flight to examine any risks you were taking and to think through how that might have played out in different circumstances.

Whether you are an investor, a pilot or a Nasa scientist, these strategies to avoid the outcome bias will help prevent a chance success from blinding you to dangers in front of your eyes. Life is a gamble, but you can at least stack the odds in your favour, rather than allowing your mind to lull you into a false sense of security.

 

David Robson is a writer based in London and Barcelona. His first book, The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, is out now..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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