TBR News September 23, 2019

Sep 23 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. September 21, 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 September 23: “It is entertaining to observe the shrieks of rage and self-pity by the Saudis who love to bomb their neighbors, blowing up hospitals and schools in an American-like orgy of self-important destruction when someone blows up part of their oil refining services and costs them money. There is a growing feeling that this attack is only the beginning of a counter-war by Saudi enemies. Since the latter have had gleeful support by the United States, it is interesting to consider that if Saudi oil production was severely interdicted, gas prices in the United States would soar into the heavens and many politicians would be wailing in Washington for mercy.”


The Table of Contents

  • The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get
  • Trump confirms he raised Bidens in Ukraine call
  • Reporters Should Stop Helping Donald Trump Spread Lies About Joe Biden and Ukraine
  • The Saudi Arabia Drone Attacks Have Changed Global Warfare
  • Disinformation sites generate over $200 million: study
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • Backwards Piety


The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get

If you’re wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it

September 23, 2019

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

America has a grand tradition of the brazenly dumb criminal: the kind who is so desperately needy that he brags about his guilt.

Back in the earliest days of the new media known as newspapers, a certain Chicago mob boss rose to fame by calling a press conference to proclaim everyone else’s guilt, if not exactly his innocence.

Al Capone claimed he played no role in the gunning down of a young state’s attorney called Bill McSwiggin. In fact he said he could have killed him any time but preferred to keep him alive. “I paid McSwiggin,” Capone said. “I paid him plenty and I got what I was paying for.”

Sure enough, Capone was cleared of the murder and became the darling of an insatiable press pack. If you don’t act guilty, will anyone really think you’re guilty? Especially if everyone else is guilty too.

Almost a century later, Donald Trump has cornered the Scarface strategy. If he didn’t think neo-Nazis were very fine people, Trump could win a Maccabiah medal for chutzpah.

In some corner of his orange-tipped cranium there are surely a handful of brain cells that are fully aware that his entire family has engaged with foreign dictators and their oligarchs for personal profit.

But the rest of Trump’s brain is an irony-free zone entirely empty of self-awareness. So he and much of his Cabinet fanned out across the gullible media to proclaim everyone else’s guilt in a Ukraine scandal that would normally lead to certain impeachment.

To be clear, the only scandal involving Ukraine is that Trump openly admits that he repeatedly pressed a foreign leader for dirt on his political opponents ahead of a presidential election. For the second election in a row. Only this time, he could use the promise of military and foreign aid to grease his request.

It’s worth quoting Trump’s bizarre explanation of this gambit in full, describing his call to the newly-elected president of Ukraine as follows: “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory,” he told reporters on Sunday. “It was largely corruption. All of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”

Now Donald Trump is something of an expert in corruption, if not creating to the corruption. It takes a great deal of creativity to get your own vice-president to stay at your Irish hotel when it’s 180 miles away from his meetings in Dublin. You can’t even conceive of the creativity needed to explain away the US Air Force staying at a luxury golf resort in Scotland that just happens to be another Trump property.

Trump’s excuse was that he knew nothing about the military staying at his hotel, and had nothing to do with Mike Pence’s long commute from Doonbeg to Dublin. So what if Pence’s chief of staff said Trump had made a suggestion about the stay? He just had great taste – like the military that loves Turnberry so much.

Trump apparently knows nothing about his own officials lining his own pockets. But he does know a thing or two about Ukraine.

It was at his own convention in 2016 when his own campaign chairman changed his own party platform to weaken US support for Ukraine against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its interference in Ukraine’s politics.

“Ukraine has got a lot of problems,” Trump explained to reporters. “The new president is saying that he’s going to be able to rid the country of corruption. And I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation. We backed – I backed Ukraine from the beginning.”

Amnesia is a terrible problem for today’s world leaders. Especially the morally dubious ones who are either too brazen or too lazy to think of a decent excuse.

Somehow Trump has forgotten about how bad a liar his lawyer is, or why Ukraine is even enmeshed in the multiple scandals that would lead to the impeachment of any other president.

Would Trump let Rudy Giuliani testify to Congress about his own efforts?

“Oh I would have no problem with it,” he told reporters on Sunday. “Rudy is a very straight shooter. And Rudy wants to see the same thing as a lot of other people with respect to your Ukraine. Ukraine has had a tremendous corruption problem. Somehow they were involved in a lot of different things that took place in our country, and hopefully it can be straightened out.”

Hopefully we can straighten this out for you, Mr President. Rudy shoots so straight that he can break land speed records for lying on national television. Did he ask Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe Biden? “No, actually I didn’t,” he told CNN, before admitting 30 seconds later, “of course I did.”

Somehow Ukraine was involved in a lot of things in American politics, Mr President. Most of them involving Paul Manafort, your old campaign chairman, now serving time in jail for tax evasion on all the cash he made from Ukraine’s former president. The one supported by Vladimir Putin, whom you asked for help to hack into the emails of your opponents in the last election during a press conference.

“It was a perfect call. A perfect call,” Trump said on Sunday. “What wasn’t perfect is the horrible thing that Joe Biden said. And now he made it a lie when he said he never spoke to his son. I mean, give me a break. He’s already said he spoke to his son. And now he said, yesterday, very firmly. Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course you spoke to your son. So he made the mistake of saying he never spoke to his son. He spoke to his son.”

The son thing is troubling, Mr President. Troubling because you sound unhinged.

“But more importantly,” Trump continued, “what he said about the billions of dollars that he wouldn’t give them unless they fired the prosecutor. And then he bragged about how they fired the prosecutor and they got the money.”

Oh yes. The money thing. It’s a beauty. Biden is smeared by the most braggadociously corrupt president for pushing Ukraine to have a prosecutor who will fight corruption.

It may be no surprise that Trump is circling the drain while clinging on to his own dizzy conspiracies. His election prospects are miserable and he desperately needs another looney-tuned cartoon like the Clinton email saga.

But it’s still surprising to see his secretary of state and Treasury secretary peddling the same smear as if it was just another Sunday talk show subject.

Is there anyone left with any self-respect in the Republican party? Step forward Mitt Romney, the former Republican nominee and now Utah senator. No really, step forward.

“If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out,” Romney tweeted.

Damn the torpedoes. The senator is extremely troubled, if not rather exercised, by the possibility of something that Trump and Giuliani have already admitted on camera.

If you’re wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it. The poor citizens of Ukraine have been looking at it for the last five years, ever since Russian troops marched in and unleashed their disinformation on an unsuspecting world.

Like Vladimir Putin, Al Capone knew that they don’t have to be smart to get away with murder. You just have to confuse everyone about what guilt looks like.

Richard Wolffe is a Guardian US columnist


Trump confirms he raised Bidens in Ukraine call

September 23, 2019

BBC News

President Trump has confirmed that he raised the subject of former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son in a July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky.

Mr Trump is facing allegations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival, which he denies.

But his admission about the phone call fuelled calls for Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings in Congress.

Adam Schiff, a senior Democrat, said Mr Trump may have “crossed the Rubicon”.

Mr Schiff, the influential head of the House Intelligence Committee, had previously opposed impeachment.

What’s the background?

Hunter Biden became a director at Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma in 2014 while his father was Barack Obama’s vice-president with a key role in US policy towards Ukraine.

Joe Biden is now the frontrunner to be the Democratic candidate who will take on Mr Trump in the 2020 election.

  • Why Ukraine has become ensnared in US collusion claims
  • Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian gas connection
  • US Air Force orders review over Trump resort stays

The controversy over whether Mr Trump pushed his Ukrainian counterpart to launch corruption investigations against the Bidens has dominated Washington in recent days.

It was sparked after revelations in US media that an intelligence whistleblower had filed a complaint over Mr Trump’s communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that was allegedly made.

It emerged last week that the Trump administration was blocking the whistleblower complaint from being handed over to Congress, despite the intelligence inspector general judging it to be “urgent”

Under US law, if a complaint is considered to be of “urgent concern”, and if the inspector general considers the complaint to be “credible”, then the department head is expected to share the information with Congress within seven days.

What did Trump admit?

Mr Trump told reporters on Sunday that the 25 July call with Mr Zelensky was “congratulatory” but mentioned corruption and “largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice-President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine”.

But he insisted he had done “absolutely nothing wrong”. He has previously accused the whistleblower of being “partisan” and said he knew all his phone calls to foreign leaders were listened to by US agencies.

While Mr Trump suggested a transcript could be released, senior Trump administration officials said it would be inappropriate for private conversations between world leaders to be made public.

The Wall Street Journal has quoted sources as saying Mr Trump had urged Mr Zelensky about eight times to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on an investigation into Hunter Biden, but had not offered anything in return.

What is the Biden story?

When Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014, questions were raised about a potential conflict of interest for his father. Ukraine was undergoing a political transition after its pro-Russia president was forced out of office, and the elder Biden was making frequent trips to the country.

In 2016, Mr Biden pushed the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whose office had been investigating the oligarch owner of Burisma.

In a speech last year at a think-tank he boasted of having used a billion-dollar loan guarantee to successfully force Mr Shokin out.

“I looked at them and said ‘I’m leaving in six hours: if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money’,” he said.

Mr Trump and his allies accuse Mr Biden of having acted to protect his son. However, several western governments also wanted Mr Shokin dismissed to boost anti-corruption efforts.

Mr Shokin had also shown little appetite for pursuing Burisma.

In May this year, Ukraine’s then prosecutor general said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

Joe Biden has said he has never spoken to his son about his business dealings.

What’s being said about impeachment?

Democrats have been split on whether they should seek to impeach Mr Trump over alleged wrongdoing.

However this latest story – which Mr Trump’s opponents allege could amount to inviting foreign interference in the 2020 election – appears to have pushed some senior Democrats closer to backing such a move.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if the whistleblower complaint was not turned over to Congress the Trump administration would “be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation”.

Ms Pelosi, like Mr Schiff, has thus far resisted demands for impeachment.


Reporters Should Stop Helping Donald Trump Spread Lies About Joe Biden and Ukraine

September 22, 2019

by Robert Mackey

The Intercept

President Donald Trump appears increasingly desperate to deflect questions about the flagrant abuse of power he seems to have committed this summer by withholding aid to Ukraine as he pressed that country’s new president to open an investigation into the false claim that Joe Biden abused his power as vice president to protect his son’s business interests in Ukraine in 2015.

Since the news broke that Trump repeatedly pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to open an investigation into Biden, while delaying $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, the president has urged reporters again and again to look instead at the viral conspiracy theory that the former vice president had admitted on camera that he blackmailed Ukraine’s former president.

In fact, as a detailed review of the evidence conducted by The Intercept in May showed, Biden’s intervention in Ukrainian affairs that year, when he successfully pressed Ukraine’s then-president to dismiss a chief prosecutor who had failed to pursue corruption investigations, was no secret and was widely praised by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists and international donors to the country.

The reason there is footage of Biden boasting about this intervention on stage at a public event in 2018 is that he knew he had nothing to hide.

Put simply, there is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani want Ukraine to validate by opening an investigation. Still, it has become an article of faith among Trump supporters that Biden got the chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, dismissed to derail a corruption investigation of a Ukrainian firm his son was paid to advise.

But journalists at leading American news organizations — including CNN, The New York Times, Politico, ABC News and MSNBC — have helped weaponize this disinformation by repeating the baseless smear over and over, without promptly and accurately conveying that Trump and Giuliani are lying about what the former vice president did in Ukraine. So lies and misinformation have been broadcast nationwide, reaching millions of people who will never read subsequent fact-checks debunking them.

This began in May, when Giuliani’s embrace of the conspiracy theory was reported on the front page of the Times, in an article that forced readers to wait until the nineteenth paragraph to find out that “No evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general’s dismissal.” Even so, the Times politics reporter who interviewed Giuliani, Ken Vogel, claimed on Twitter that this meant “The BIDENS are entangled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal.”

As I reported at the time, the truth is not that hard to determine. There is little doubt that Biden’s son Hunter did benefit from his father’s position by securing a spot on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company in 2014, a legal but ethically dubious move. But when Joe Biden subsequently conveyed a threat from the Obama administration to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine unless the chief prosecutor was dismissed, his intervention made it more rather than less likely that the oligarch who paid his son would be subject to prosecution for corruption.

That’s because one of the most prominent cases of official corruption that Shokin had failed to pursue was against a former environment and natural resources minister, Mykola Zlochevsky, who had oversight of all Ukrainian energy firms, including the largest independent gas company, Burisma, which he secretly controlled through shell companies in Cyprus. After Zlochevsky was forced from office in 2014 — in the popular uprising that toppled a pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and forced his political adviser, Paul Manafort, to look elsewhere for work — Burisma appointed Hunter Biden to its board.

Shokin’s reluctance to pursue Zlochevsky was loudly condemned by the Obama administration shortly before Biden traveled to Ukraine at the end of 2015. In a speech to the Odessa Financial Forum that September, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt complained that the chief prosecutor’s office had “undermined prosecutors working on legitimate corruption cases,” like, for example, “the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky.”

“Shokin was fired,” the executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, Daria Kaleniuk, told me in May, “because he failed to do investigations of corruption and economic crimes of President Yanukovych and his close associates, including Zlochevsky, and basically it was the big demand within society in Ukraine, including our organization and many other organizations, to get rid of this guy.”

Despite the debunking of this conspiracy theory by The Intercept and other news outlets when Giuliani first raised it in May, the president’s lawyer was invited on CNN this week and allowed, over the course of 20 minutes on national television, to make a series of false claims about Biden and Ukraine, uncorrected by the host, Chris Cuomo, who admitted that he had almost no knowledge of the facts of the case.

Although Giuliani’s wild demeanor and rambling, self-contradictory remarks were widely mocked, Cuomo’s failure to interrupt his salvo of lies with corrections, captured in clips from the exchange created by Trump supporters, helped Giuliani’s false claims spread like wildfire online.

Had Cuomo been better prepared for the interview, he could have stopped Giuliani in his tracks and helped his viewers understand that the president and his lawyer have taken sides in a battle currently raging in Ukraine, between supporters of the old system and anti-corruption activists who are pressing for reform and transparency.

Giuliani began with an opening salvo of lies that, properly debunked, reveal the nature of the scam being perpetrated on the American people. The former New York mayor started by telling Cuomo that he had been looking into “complaints that the Ukrainian people, several people in Ukraine, knew about a tremendous amount of collusion between Ukrainian officials and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, including a completely fraudulent document that was produced in order to begin the investigation of Manafort.”

This is a reference to what Ukrainians call the black ledger, a book of handwritten accounting records officials from Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau discovered among the papers of deposed president Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party after the 2014 uprising. Those records, which documented $12.7 million in secret cash payments made to Manafort by Yanukovych’s party, were posted online by the anti-corruption agency in August of 2016, prompting Manafort to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman.

Despite Giuliani’s claim, there is no evidence at all that these records of off-the-books payments were “fraudulent.” Andrew Kramer, the Moscow-based Times foreign correspondent who first revealed the secret payments to Manafort, reported at the time that others in Ukraine who were also named in the ledger had confirmed that the document was genuine.

Sergii Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist and reformist member of parliament who helped publicize the off-the-books payments, told me on Friday that Giuliani “is a liar” for saying that the black ledger was a forgery. “It is a real document, with real signatures,” Leshchenko said in a telephone interview, explaining that it had been examined by Ukrainian law enforcement experts.

But if there is no evidence that the payment records incriminating Manafort were fake, where did Giuliani get this idea? In his interview with Cuomo, he attributes the claim to “people in Ukraine” who “were trying to get to us, but they were being blocked by the Ambassador, who was a Obama appointee, in Ukraine, who was holding back this information.”

This is a reference to a part of the conspiracy theory developed by John Solomon, an opinion columnist for The Hill in Washington, who relied on the word of a disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky. Last year, Kholodnytsky was wiretapped by Ukraine’s independent anti-corruption bureau and caught on tape advising suspects in a corruption probe on how not to get caught. Kholodnytsky told Solomon that the ledger “was not authenticated.”

After Kholodnytsky was caught in that sting operation, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the Obama appointee who was the top American diplomat in Ukraine until May, demanded that he be fired. Kholodnytsky retaliated by helping Solomon and other right-wing pundits smear Yovanovitch as an anti-Trump, deep-state plotter, prompting the State Department to recall her from Kiev.

Solomon’s other main source for the claim that the ledger was false was Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s former Ukrainian business partner, who has been linked to Russian intelligence.

Despite the questionable nature of his sources, Solomon’s reporting that the black ledger records were fake has been accepted as fact by the president and his surrogates.

Giuliani also wrongly claimed that, last December, there was “a finding by a court in Ukraine that a man named… Leschenko that he produced a phony affidavit that was given to the American authorities and an FBI agent named… Greenwood, and they found him guilty of that.”

In reality, as the reformist Ukrainian politician and journalist Sergii Leshchenko told me on Friday, “there was an administrative court ruling,” in December that he, and the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, had wrongly interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the United States, by publicizing the secret payments to Manafort, who was then leading Trump’s campaign. “But this decision of the court was never implemented, because I appealed and won that appeal in July,” Leshchenko added. The appeals court overturned the administrative court’s ruling against both men.

“Giuliani is continuing to misinform American society” about the ledger, Leshchenko told me, “by saying it’s fraudulent.” As for the allegation that he gave false testimony to an American investigator, Leshchenko said, “It’s total nonsense. I never made any affidavit to the FBI.”

“I told the FBI only about one payment to Manafort,” he said. “I met with an FBI person in 2017 only once, and I gave them a contract found in the office of Manafort in Kiev.”

That contract, Leshchenko explained, showed that “former President Yanukovych paid Manafort $750,000 in 2009 to sell 1,000 computers to an offshore company registered in Belize, and this company had its accounts in Kyrgyzstan.” The agent he met with was also not named Greenwood, Leshchenko said. Giuliani was possibly struggling to recall the name Karen Greenaway, a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, who supported the efforts of anti-corruption activists in Ukraine to recover looted assets, and was attacked by John Solomon for doing so.

“I will always be angry at Manafort,” Leshchenko wrote in a rebuttal to Giuliani published on Saturday by the Washington Post. “His work contributed greatly to Yanukovych’s election victory in 2010; Yanukovych then used his position as president to enrich himself and his inner circle. I have no doubt that Yanukovych paid Manafort for his services out of the funds he robbed from Ukrainian taxpayers.”

“My desire to expose Manafort’s doings was motivated by the desire for justice,” he continued. “Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Joe Biden, nor John Podesta, nor George Soros asked me to publish the information from the black ledger. I wanted to obtain accountability for the lobbyist whose client immersed Ukraine in a blood bath during the Revolution of Dignity and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine, when Yanukovych called on Russia to send troops.”

Early in the CNN interview, Giuliani also claimed that, by threatening to withhold loan guarantees unless the chief prosecutor who failed to pursue corruption cases was removed, Biden had, “bribed the president of the Ukraine in order to fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son.”

What’s most telling about this claim is that while there is no evidence at all that Biden abused his power over U.S. aid to Ukraine to advance his own interests, there is plenty of evidence that Trump did delay $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine this summer just as he was pressing its new president, Zelensky, to do him a political favor by opening a phony investigation into the man he trails in general election polls.

The whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community last month reportedly concerns, in part, Trump’s conversation with Zelensky on July 25.

As the Kiev-based foreign correspondent Christopher Miller noted, an account of that call released that night by Zelensky’s office reported that “Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

Senior administration officials admit that the American president suggested eight times during that call that his Ukrainian counterpart should work with Giuliani to open an investigation into the Biden family. On Sunday, Trump told reporters outside the White House that his call with Zelensky “was largely corruption — all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the– the corruption already in Ukraine.” He then urged reporters to pay more attention to “the horrible thing that Joe Biden said,” when he “bragged” in 2018 about his role in pressing Ukraine to fire its then-chief prosecutor during a trip to Kiev in late 2015.

While Zelensky has clearly resisted calls to investigate Biden — “This is definitely not our war,” a source close to him told the Washington Post in May — he may also have antagonized Trump by resisting the American president’s efforts to have Russia readmitted to the Group of 7 industrialized nations. Last month, one day after Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the G-7, Zelensky tweeted, in English, that Russia should not be invited back to the group since it still occupies Crimea and sponsors separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

In his CNN diatribe, Giuliani also claimed that President Zelensky was under the influence of “people who worked for George Soros.” Pressed, gently, as to whether he had proof of that, Giuliani replied, “I absolutely do. I have proof.” He then said, “George Soros has a not-for-profit called Antac. Antac is the one that developed all of the dirty information that ended up being a false document that was created in order to incriminate Manafort.”

Antac is an acronym for Ukraine’s non-profit Anti-Corruption Action Centre, run by the American-educated lawyer Daria Kaleniuk. It is not, in fact, controlled by George Soros or responsible for the records of secret payments to Manafort.

As Kaleniuk wrote in April, in response to attacks by John Solomon on her group, the center has received funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundation, but also from “the E.U., the U.S., the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, the Global Fund,” and hundreds of concerned Ukrainian citizens.

The independent anti-corruption center is also not affiliated with Zelensky, a former television star who is new to politics but backed by a powerful oligarch who was accused by the previous administration of siphoning off millions of dollars in fraudulent loans from a private bank that had to be bailed out.

Since 2016, Kaleniuk wrote, she and her co-founder, Vitaliy Shabunin, have “faced a series of well-planned attacks from various corrupt officials and oligarchs” in retaliation for their efforts to expose corruption and demand transparency.

In much the same way that Russia’s leading anti-corruption activist, Aleksei Navalny, has been falsely accused of corruption and subjected to politically motivated prosecutions aimed at punishing him for exposing the kleptocracy overseen by President Vladimir Putin, the Antac activists have been constantly harassed by powerful Ukrainians who see their work as a threat.

“Smear campaigns on national TV owned by oligarchs, fake news, political harassment, physical attacks, U.S. lobbyists hired to intimidate Antac in foreign media and among decision-makers in the West — we’ve seen all that,” Kaleniuk wrote.

Later in the CNN interview, Giuliani referred to one of those attempts to discredit Antac. “The prosecutor was removed,” Giuliani said of Shokin, the focus of Biden’s intervention, “because he was investigating the son and he was investigating Soros’s charity or whatever the hell it was, Antac.”

As Kaleniuk explained on Twitter in response to Giuliani’s charge: “In 2016 we called for resignation of corrupt prosecutor Shokin for intimidating reformers in his agency and failure to investigate corruption crimes of Yanukovych associates, including Burisma case. In response Shokin fabricated criminal case against us.”

As the independent investigative journalist Scott Stedman revealed in May, court documents from a Canadian lawsuit show that the campaign of harassment against the Ukrainian activists even included the production of fictional news reports about Kaleniuk and Shabunin, apparently orchestrated by the private Israeli intelligence firm Psy-Group to mislead Ukrainians into believing that the politically motivated investigation by Shokin’s prosecutor general’s office was the subject of international news coverage.

Those actual examples of fake news, created to smear Antac’s founders, were, as The Economist noted, “an illustration of the increasingly hostile environment facing anti-corruption activists, journalists and reformist officials in Ukraine.”

Yaroslav Hrytsak, a historian at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, has described the pressure on the anti-corruption activists as part of “a counter-revolution” in Ukraine. “The counter-revolutionary propaganda machine is now trying to impose the idea that there are not, and cannot be honest people in Ukrainian politics. This blanket statement is supposed to convince people that the system is invincible, and fighting it is a waste of time,” Hrytsak wrote in the weeks after those fake reports were posted on YouTube.

For Giuliani to suggest now that Shokin’s investigation of those same anti-corruption activists was warranted means that he wants the United States government to take the side of Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchy in the counter-revolution against its reformers.

After watching Giuliani smear Antac on CNN as “Soros’ charity or whatever the hell it was,” Kaleniuk offered the president’s lawyer a simple explanation on Twitter. “We are a group of dedicated Ukrainians aimed to create hell for corrupt Ukrainian crooks and oligarchs,” she wrote. “We do that to stop thugs from robbing our country and thus turning it into a hell for Ukrainians.”

Chris Cuomo’s failure to properly challenge Giuliani on the jumbled details of the conspiracy theory he presented on live television on Thursday was followed on Friday by more coverage of the smearing of Biden seen primarily through the lens of politics, in which a presumed obligation to treat both sides equally has obscured the fact that one side is lying.

A prime example was a new report from Ken Vogel in which he described the uproar over the president pushing his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political rival as “a clash between congressional Democrats and the White House over whether Mr. Trump used the powers of his office and United States foreign policy in an effort to seek damaging information about a political rival.” But Trump was not looking for “damaging information,” he was trying to coerce a foreign government into manufacturing false information about his Democratic rival so as to lend credence to a baseless conspiracy theory.

On the airwaves, coverage of the viral rumors about Biden pushed by the White House has led to a flood of commentary from political reporters and cable news pundits, who are more eager to talk about how effective the tactic might be than to clearly inform the American people that they are being lied to. Notably absent from the discussion have been the voices of anti-corruption reformers in Ukraine, who welcomed the former vice president’s efforts to help them tackle endemic corruption in a country still run by and for a small group of powerful oligarchs with outsized political influence.

On Saturday, the feedback loop — in which Trump and his surrogates fill the airwaves with lies about Biden, and political reporters discuss them as a problem for the Democrat — was closed with the release of an attack ad from Trump’s campaign, featuring a highlight reel of speculation about Biden from pundits, reporters and anchors on six different news shows, all echoing the president’s false claim that Biden’s intervention in Ukraine, might, somehow, be scandalous.


The Saudi Arabia Drone Attacks Have Changed Global Warfare

September 22, 2019

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.

On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft – disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the world price of oil by 20 per cent.

This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack. The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf did not know what was happening until it was all over.

Excuses advanced for this failure include the drones flying too low to be detected and unfairly coming from a direction different from the one that might have been expected. Such explanations sound pathetic when set against the proud boasts of the arms manufacturers and military commanders about the effectiveness of their weapons systems.

Debate is ongoing about whether it was the Iranians or the Houthis who carried out the attack, the likely answer being a combination of the two, but perhaps with Iran orchestrating the operation and supplying the equipment. But over-focus on responsibility diverts attention from a much more important development: a middle ranking power like Iran, under sanctions and with limited resources and expertise, acting alone or through allies, has inflicted crippling damage on theoretically much better-armed Saudi Arabia which is supposedly defended by the US, the world’s greatest military super-power.

If the US and Saudi Arabia are particularly hesitant to retaliate against Iran it is because they know now, contrary to what they might have believed a year ago, that a counter-attack will not be a cost-free exercise. What happened before can happen again: not for nothing has Iran been called a “drone superpower”. Oil production facilities and the desalination plants providing much of the fresh water in Saudi Arabia are conveniently concentrated targets for drones and small missiles.

In other words, the military playing field will be a lot more level in future in a conflict between a country with a sophisticated air force and air defence system and one without. The trump card for the US, Nato powers and Israel has long been their overwhelming superiority in airpower over any likely enemy. Suddenly this calculus has been undermined because almost anybody can be a player on the cheap when it comes to airpower.

Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, succinctly sums up the importance of this change, writing that “the strikes on Saudi Arabia provide a clear strategic warning that the US era of air supremacy in the Gulf, and the near US monopoly on precision strike capability, is rapidly fading.” He explains that a new generation of drones, cruise missiles, and precision strike ballistic missiles are entering the Iranian inventories and have begun to spread to the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Similar turning points in military history have occurred when the deployment of an easily produced weapon suddenly checkmates the use of a more complicated one.

A good example of this was the attack on 11 November 1940, on five Italian battleships, moored at their base at Taranto by 20 slow moving but sturdy British Swordfish biplanes, armed with torpedoes and launched from an aircraft carrier. At the end of the day, three of the battleships had been sunk or badly damaged while only two of the British planes were missing. The enormity of the victory achieved at such minimal cost ended the era when battleships ruled the sea and replaced them with one in which aircraft carriers with torpedo/bomber were supreme. It was a lesson noted by the Japanese navy which attacked Pearl Harbour in similar fashion a year after Taranto.

The Saudis showed off the wreckage of the drones and missiles to assembled diplomats and journalists this week in a bid to convince them that the Iranians were behind the air raid. But the most significant feature of the broken drone and missile parts was that, in full working order, the weapons that had just rocked the world economy would not have cost a lot. By way of contrast, the US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, the main air defence of Saudi Arabia that were so useless last Saturday, cost $3m (£2.4bn) apiece.

Cost and simplicity are important because they mean that Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and almost any country can produce drones and missiles in numbers large enough to overwhelm any defences they are likely to meet.

Compare the cost of the drone which would be in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the $122m (£97.6m) price of a single F-35 fighter, so expensive that it can only be purchased in limited numbers. As they take on board the meaning of what happened at Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities, governments around the world will be demanding that their air force chiefs explain why they need to spend so much money when cheap but effective alternatives are available. Going by past precedent, the air chiefs and arms manufacturers will fight to their last breath for grossly inflated budgets to purchase weapons of dubious utility in a real war.

The attack on Saudi Arabia reinforces a trend in warfare in which inexpensive easily acquired weapons come out on top. Consider the track record of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), usually made out of easily available fertiliser, detonated by a command wire, and planted in or beside a road. These were used with devastating effect by the IRA in South Armagh, forcing the British Army off the roads and into helicopters.

IEDs were used in great numbers and with great effect against US-led coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Immense resources were deployed by the US military into finding a counter to this deadly device, which included spending no less than $40bn (£32bn) on 27,000 heavily armoured vehicles called MRAPs. A subsequent army study revealed that that the number of US servicemen killed and wounded in an attack on an MRAP was exactly the same as in the vehicles which they had replaced.

It is unthinkable that American, British and Saudi military chiefs will accept that they command expensive, technically advanced forces that are obsolete in practice. This means they are stuck with arms that suck up resources but are, in practical terms, out of date. The Japanese, soon after they had demonstrated at Pearl Harbour the vulnerability of battleships, commissioned the world’s largest battleship, the Yamato, which fired its guns only once and was sunk in 1945 by US torpedo aircraft and bombers operating from aircraft carriers.


Disinformation sites generate over $200 million: study

Ad revenue has effectively sustained websites flagged as disinformation sources with millions of dollars, according to a study. Despite talk of regulation, experts told DW the issue needs a “whole-of-industry solution.”

September 22, 2019

by Lewis Sanders IV


Websites designed to mislead the public and spread disinformation are receiving millions of dollars in advertisement from some of the world’s biggest companies — though the latter are likely unaware of the issue.

Around 20,000 websites posing a disinformation risk generate an estimated $235 million (€213 million) annually, according to a study published on Monday by the London-based Global Disinformation Index (GDI).

“Disinformation is driven by a variety of different actors with different incentives,” GDI program director Craig Fagan told DW. “One of the incentives we see is the financial one.”

Indeed, advertising revenue has long contributed to the viability of controversial sites, with former Trump aide and far-right ideologue Steve Bannon describing it as the main revenue stream for right-wing media in a video published earlier this year.

Upon further investigation, DW found that adverts for major German companies were displayed on websites such as Twitchy and Zero Hedge, which have been flagged as sources of disinformation.

The companies included railway operator Deutsche Bahn, automaker Opel, Deutsche Telekom, Postbank and book retailer Thalia, among others. While it is unlikely that these companies are aware their advertising money is effectively funding disinformation, the fact highlights the problem with today’s digital advertising ecosystem.

‘Wild Wild West’

Digital advertising is largely driven by the use of software to buy and sell advertising space across the internet, a technique known as programmatic advertising. It comprises two-thirds of spending on digital advertising, generating $84 billion (€76 billion) in 2019, according to investment agency Zenith. It is projected to well surpass that by 2020.

Companies often resort to ad exchanges, such as Google, AppNexus or Amazon, to advertise online. Ad exchanges act as intermediaries between brands and publishers, relying on sophisticated software to buy and sell billions of impressions, often in real time. However, the ecosystem lacks transparency, with industry observers describing it as the “Wild Wild West.”

In June, the United Kingdom’s data protection regulator outlined major concerns with the industry, saying changes needed to be made to ensure compliance with regulation, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“Many people will not have given a moment’s thought to the complex process that leads to advertisements appearing on the webpages and apps they use, but behind the scenes is a complex and large-scale system,” said British Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Regulation on the table

A German government report published in June said business models such as programmatic advertising are “problematic” and “should not be left unregulated.”

The report said automated ad placement as exemplified in programmatic advertising could further accelerate the proliferation of disinformation in tandem with social media and other high-risk mediums. Such disinformation events could have significant political, social or economic consequences.

Germany has spearheaded efforts to combat illegal content online, such as hate speech and incitement to violence. However, legal approaches to combating disinformation remain a contentious subject due to concerns over freedom of expression. The government report suggested further discussion on whether platform operators, including ad exchanges, should be held responsible within a regulatory framework.

But not everyone believes that this solution is an appropriate answer to the problem. GDI program director Fagan told DW that only a cross-platform approach would be sufficient to curtail disinformation and its financing through advertisement revenue.

“I think it really needs to be driven by the industry right now to be able to fix the problem,” Fagan said. “It’s a whole-of-industry problem that needs a whole-of-industry solution.”


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

September 23, 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. 57

Date: Tuesday, January 7, 1997

Commenced:  9:34 AM CST

Concluded:  10:07 AM CST

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. I take it you have survived the holidays intact?

GD: Yes. Christmas is a non-event and as far as New Years Eve is concerned, all I can say about that is that I could hear the fireworks and the guns going off for about an hour. It sounded like the Battle of Bull Run for a while. And the next day I heard on the news that people were indeed shooting guns up into the air and the spent shells were pattering down on their neighbors and strangers. What they should do, is to stick the muzzle in their mouths and then pull the triggers. Make work for the ambulance people, the medical examiners and, of course, the unfortunate ones who have to clean the brains off the ceilings.

RTC: So graphic. Reminds me of Frank Wisner’s end. Polly complained that the ceiling was a mess and it took two weeks and much paint to cover up the evidence of Frank’s end. He used a shotgun.

GD: That will do it. How did his black boyfriend take it?

RTC: That’s a closed chapter.

GD: Well, I wonder how Costello’s equally black boyfriend took the news of his lover’s sudden demise in the lonely sky over the Atlantic?

RTC: I was not privy to that. I do understand his brother, who was in the RN, refused to accept the body.

GD: Infection. If they cremated him, perhaps his boyfriend could come over and claim him. At least John would get his ashes hauled for the last time.

RTC: (Laughter) You are not very nice, Gregory.

GD: God, I would hope not.

RTC: How is the second Müller book coming along?

GD: Quite well. Now that I have Kronthal’s name and more input, it will be a worthwhile venture.

RTC: I have been asked, repeatedly, if you have mentioned a second volume, but I always pretend not to hear the question. Being an old man has its advantages sometimes. No, you have stirred up a very vicious hornet’s nest, Gregory, and they won’t give up until they have either run you into the ground or bought off your publisher.

GD: They wouldn’t have any luck trashing me because I trash right back, and while they are conventional in their character assassinations, I am very unorthodox. They don’t have the intelligence to deviate from the usual badmouthing and I don’t have the patience to put up with their crap. You now, about a week ago, I rang up Raul Hilberg, the historian. He’s teaching up in Vermont and writes about the Holocaust. Still, he’s a competent and relatively honest historian. He told me a funny story about Bob Wolfe. Seems Wolfe sent him a copy of the Müller book with a enclosed note hoping Hilberg would trash the work in print. Hilberg told me he read it through and while he found parts of it very disturbing, he couldn’t oblige Wolfe because, from a historical point at least, it was very accurate. He said Wolfe said I was threatening national security with my writings. Hilberg said that the fact that your organization hired carloads of Gestapo and SS men who were wanted for anti-Jewish activities was not national security.

RTC: They are absolutely terrified that if this thesis gains popular belief, they will be unable to cope with the uproar. Critchfield has been pushing them to have you shot and from my occasional, unpleasant, meetings with Wolfe, he is desperate to ruin your reputation. But I don’t think national security has any part of this.

GD: What do you think?

RTC; Wolfe is a typical Beltway boy. He has carved out a niche for himself as an outstanding expert on the Third Reich.

GD: Nonsense. Wolfe is most certainly not a real expert. He pretends to be, but he is not. Imagine what more I could learn if I were in his place.

RTC: He’s afraid you will start talking and show him up as a fraud.

GD: Aren’t they all?

RTC: Tell me, does Kimmel know Wolfe?

GD: Oh yes, he does. We’ve all had dinner together at the Cosmos Club.

RTC: Well, that explains much. I should tell you that you are viewed here in the FBI and CIA nests as a real loose cannon. No one knows what you’ll come out with next and the idea is to get your confidence and then try to find something on you to discredit you. Kimmel is part and parcel of this game and they are using Wolfe as the resident expert, hoping he can trip you up.

GD: Robert, that won’t happen. If Wolfe is their front man, they’re all in bad company. Hilberg said Wolfe was an envious phony who was jealous of everyone and the only reason he had occasional dealings with him was because Wolfe was an outrageous suckass who had very good access to the official records. Tell me about that. Wolfe got into the prohibited files and sent me an Army General Staff document listing all the top Nazis brought into this country in 1948 and to include Müller and far more. This had been sealed by Presidential order but Wolfe made a copy of it and sent it off to me, hoping frantically that I would trust him and finally tell him what persona Heini Müller used while he was living here.

RTC: Of course, they don’t know the name. He was under deep cover and I doubt if more than eight or nine people knew who he really was and what his former job had been.

GD: Truman knew, and Beetle Smith did for certain and, of course, Critchfield was the CIA man who hired him. Other than that, I don’t know who here really knew his given name.

RTC: And you can add my name to the short list. Can you imagine the frenzy to find out what name he used so they could purify their files? The burn bags would be piled up by the furnace doors, believe me. And then they could say very smugly that they had searched their files and never found anyone with that name.

GD: That’s why Wolfe has been so friendly with me.

RTC: Oh yes, he has. But he hates you, Gregory, not because our leadership there hates you but because he’s afraid you will show him up as a fraud and, more important, he will fail in his mission. He does so want to get in with the Naftali CIA crowd and he wants your head on a platter to please them.

GD: He’s too eager, too treacherous and too obvious to be of any use to them.

RTC: Don’t forget, Gregory, this is the Beltway and they’re all the same. They are a bunch of gross incompetents who are prepared to pay homage to another Beltway boys self-serving lies about their importance, if you will, in turn for other Beltway boys paying attention to theirs. You know and they don’t, and they don’t want someone outside their circle who is more intelligent than they are to rock their boats.

GD: They must be afraid the Jews will get after them for daring to hire their enemies.

RTC: Well, that’s true, but only up to a point. The Jews know when to shut up and they can use this to pry more money out of the government to assuage their wounded spirits.

GD: Well, in the next book, I will have some interesting things to say. The loose cannon rolls around the deck of the warship in a storm, battering holes in the sides of the ship. If I’m lucky, maybe they’ll all sink in shark-infested waters. But thinking about this, Robert, I’m sure there are things that even a shark wouldn’t eat. Yes, I do know more than they ever will. I know this sounds egocentric, but it is true. I really enjoy encountering all the experts and observing them trying to find out what I know so they can pick my brains on the one hand, and trying to get me to turn my back so they can stab me in it on the other. Why are these despicable types attracted to government work?

RTC: Where else would they get a job?

GD: Mopping up after the elderly in a nursing home or doing vital work at the sewage treatment plants of America.

RTC: I have some interesting news for you. I have just had Greg ship you off a long list of Nazis who worked for us, plus their new names and addresses here. Could you use that?

GD: Oh yes, how wonderful. What a wonderful Christmas present. Anyone I know?

RTC: That’s for you to decide.

GD: If I have the original names, I have the files that will let me check on them. Müller gave me a list of Gestapo agents, and more important, the V-Leute or German stool pigeons for the Gestapo. I wonder how many of them are working for Langley?

RTC: And don’t forget the Army got its share.

GD: Not at all. Müller gave me his old Army uniform, medals and all. It’s in my closet in a bag. The same uniform he was wearing in the Signal Corps picture of him in the White House with Truman and Smith.

RTC: Oh, do publish that.

GD: I will save that for the last. I’ll wait until Wolfe and the Inner Sanctum Hebrews are in full cry against me and then put out a number of things. It would be like throwing table salt on garden slugs and snails. Lots of yellow foam and a painful death.

RTC: Couldn’t happen to nicer people. You remember that Roosevelt/Churchill intercept I gave you? Kimmel had it checked out and once they decided it was original, he suddenly forgot all about it. Of course, it would go far to exonerate his grandfather, but he will never, never use it because it came from you and you are the spawn of Satan.

GD: Isn’t it funny. Robert? Instead of asking you, politely, of course, to help them, they band together like frightened rats in a burning barn, shrieking how terrible you are. Besides their own stupidity, are they hiding anything?

RTC: I doubt it. My impression is that the intelligence community does not tolerate talent.

GD: The enshrinement of mindless mediocrity. Burial at Arlington and a star on the Langley wall.

RTC: And don’t forget a tree planted in the Holy Land.

GD: Their Holy Land, Robert, not mine.


(Concluded at10:07 AM CST)


Encyclopedia of American Loons


Dutch Sheets

One of the central figures in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Dutch Sheets is an anointed and apparently re-anointed (“with a fresh impartation of Holy Spirit”) “teaching apostle”, self-appointed prophet and hardcore dominionist. Sheets is critical of the current state of American churches, claiming that they spend too much time and effort on values, creating communities and supporting families, and too little time on the church as a legislative body – as God’s government on Earth. Sheets blames Satan for the current situation, but also King James, who ostensibly used trickery to downplay the church’s dominion over the government and legislation – “kind of like our government that is trying to sell us separation of church and state,” says Sheets. Accordingly, Sheets sees it as part of his role to “raise up an army” willing to make a real effort to help the church’s in their attempt “to take over everything and rule the earth completely for the Lord,” while mocking those “little sheepies” focusing on the caring and pastoral work of the church.

And according to Sheets’s own “prophetic visions”, Jesus has called upon Christians to take over government: “Through my recent re-commissioning […] and other prophetic revelation, the Lord has confirmed to me that the door to the governmental arena – and to Washington DC, specifically – is again wide open.” For the 2012 election, Sheets accordingly expressed his support for Christian model and moral beacon Newt Gingrich. Before the 2018 midterms, Sheets reported that God told him to “war for this nation” and declared that “the kingdom of God is invading the United States of America.”

Sheets is also a firm believer in the powers of prayers. For instance, as Sheets sees things, his and NAR figure Chuck Pierce’s prayers during a tour of the country led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Moreover, Sheets’s prayers have apparently been a primary cause of various Supreme Court vacancies. “God had assigned me to pray for the Supreme Court” and told Sheets that “the greatest stronghold of the enemy ruling our nation was in the Supreme Court” for “there is no gate that has allowed more evil to enter our nation than the Supreme Court.” Meanwhile Democrats opposed Kavanaugh because “they hate President Trump because he is helping turn around the Antichrist agenda they love.” At present, Sheets is praying for God to kill more Supreme Court judges so that Trump can fill the vacancies.

Like most other NPR prophets, Sheets’s main strategy to achieve his political goals is, as suggested, prayers, including holding prayer rallies and arranging conferences to “save America”, with names like the “Appeal to Heaven Conference” (because “America’s narcissistic independence from her Creator has left us spiritually and morally bankrupt”).

Sheets also has called President Obama a “Muslim president” and said his election is bringing the judgment of God, and that “God has now turned us over to our enemies for a season”. Prior to the 2012 election, he proclaimed that the “systems of anti-Christ” that have bound the nation would be broken – he was accordingly disappointed with what actually happened, and promptly declared that God’s wholesale judgment was about to rain down on this nation because “God has put up with all of the mocking He intends to from Barack Obama”. (As for the “mocking”: “who could ever forget the mocking spirit demonstrated by our president when he decorated the White House with rainbow colors”). The election of Trump in 2016, meanwhile, was a miracle and a sign of God’s mercy, and Sheets has a warning for those who – due to the influence of evil spirits, of course – resist Trump: “You will fail! … The Ekklesia will take you out. The outpouring of Holy Spirit will take you out. Angels will take you out.” (Sheets’s rhetoric tends to be a bit violent and bloodthirsty.) You see, Trump is apparently already chosen by God, who is soon going to give him visions like St. John of Patmos, he of the Revelations; Sheets is “confident” that this will happen because a friend of his had a dream before the 2016 election in which she saw Trump sitting in a hotel room, weeping as he read the Bible. Dreams purportedly had by unnamed friends are apparently a major source of information on the state of the world for Sheets.

America is facing divine punishment for other sins, too: for instance, God will beat up America for the promotion of “homosexuality, abortion and socialism” and the “toleration of immorality and perversion” as well. No, Sheets was not happy with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which he asserted would result “in the breakdown of families, along with the devastating effect this will have on children.” (Exactlyhowallowing homosexuals to marry will lead to families breaking down is left a bit unclear, of course. As always.)

Dutch’s brother Tim Sheets is also heavily involved in the NAR. Tim Sheets is apparently an expert on angels, and has led fundies in prayers for God and his angels to take out the deep state. And like his brother, Tim Sheets regularly talks with God, though God seems to be saying some very strange things to him.

Diagnosis: So frenzied by bigotry and bloodthirst that it is often difficult for him to stay coherent. One of the most evil people in the NAR, which is, again, one of the most thoroughly evil organizations in the Western world. Extremely dangerous.

 Penny Nance

Penny Nance is the current president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the fundamentalist, wingnut activist hate group founded by Beverly LaHaye – they call themselves an amalgam of “policy experts and … activists[s]” who take an explicitly anti-feminist approach to politics as a means to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens.” The CWA opposes any efforts that “intervene with natural human life,” including secular education, stem cell research, divorce, UN conferences and treaties, publicly funded HIV screenings or STD treatment programs, voluntary childlessness, pornography (mostly because the proliferation of and lack of regulation for pornography somehow promotes gay rights and premarital sex), sex ed, gambling, and gay marriage. As for what they support, the CWA emphasizes “traditional families” and the woman’s place being within the home (with exceptions for themselves (and Michele Bachmann), of course, who do importantwork). They also support teaching intelligent design creationism in public schools, advocate school prayer, and claim that it is unconstitutional for public schools to require reading material that conflicts with the religious values of parents (not that they otherwise care much for the Constitution). Nance was previously a Federal Communications Commission advisor on children’s social and media concerns


According to CWA, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is part of “the war on women”. Of course, the year before claiming this Nance had claimed that the phrase “war on women” is a piece of “phony, focus-grouped rhetoric” geared to “raise money and hackles”, but measures to protect women from violence is a different enemy indeed (Nance has subsequently had a series of bizarre views about what the “real war on women” might be). In particular, according to Nance, VAWA “hurts sex-trafficking victims,” since a non-tortured connection between premises and conclusions is unimportant when Talking Points. It is also a bit unclear how much she really cares for victims of trafficking.

Meanwhile, anti-men conspiracies are everywhere, especially in Hollywood. The movie Frozen, for instance, is emasculating men by having female protagonists that don’t end up marrying as the culmination of the narrative. After criticizing Frozen, Nance and Steve Doocy went on to lament the absence of male heroes in Hollywood movies.

Among CWA’s perceived main enemies is the “nefarious” Planned Parenthood. At present, Nance is hopeful that the Department of Justice will go after them for a variety of issues that she falsely thinks they are guilty of after visiting a variety of conspiracy outlets. Now, she may of course be somewhat justified in that hope given the current administration; Nance is aware of this, of course, and has expressed her deepest gratitude for the election of the Trump: “our nation just received a second chance, a chance we never could have earned or deserved. Millions of people like you and me fought hard on our knees, praying earnestly and asking God to heal our land. He heard, and he showed us great mercy.” (She came around pretty quickly to that conclusion after starting out rather skeptical – but then, political expediency trumps ethics every time for these people; morality is relative except when it is not.)

Due to her views and reasoning skills, Nance was for a while among Trump’s candidates for ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. In 2014, she also wanted to be chairman of the board of the new National Women’s History Museum, which she opposed because she claimed it would “indoctrinate” visitors with feminism.


When Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx proposed a “Day of Reason” alongside a “Day of Prayer”, Nance objected. Why? Apparently reasonand thinkingand education leads to genocide. “You know the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism [this is … not correct]. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust [this is … not correct, either – quite the opposite, in fact] … Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation,” said Nance. Yes, advancing science, opposition to the monarchy, and focusing on education, personal freedom and the separation of church and state lead to Hitler. Nance does not like reason. At least she makes sure she walks her talk and makes no attempt to use it herself. And the claim that reasoncaused Hitler is pretty out there, even as far as rightwing Godwins go.

She followed up by doubling down on her claims.

Gay marriage

Most of what is bad in the world is, as Nance sees it, connected to the marriage equality issue. Same-sex marriage is, according to Nance, like “counterfeit money” that “takes at something that’s the real deal and diminishes it,” and will accordingly “hurt everyone”. Meanwhile, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is engaging in treason, no less, for officiating at a gay wedding, mostly since words means whatever Nance wants them to mean to serve her rhetoric.

In particular, legalizing gay marriage means that opponents of gay marriage activists should get ready for “persecution”. It will also lead to the end of America: equal treatment for same-sex couples would eviscerate religious freedom, and “in losing religious freedom, we lose America,” said Nance. And of course there is a conspiracy here: Zeh gays are plotting to take your children! “The Day of Silence” is an excellent example: As Nance sees it the Day of Silence is an effort by “LGBTQ activists” to “infiltrate schools” and “get to your children.” In particular, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network – which is a tool for LGBT activists who “are going around you to get to your children” – is “working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country” and “taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage.”

And not the least, the Girl Scouts of America’s policy to accept transgender young people “on a case-by-case basis” is “just one more slap in the face to Christian parents,” since not acting in accordance with fundie wingnuts’ hatred of other people is oppression. Also, gay leaders will “dismantle” the Boy Scouts and put “our young sons at risk”.

Diagnosis: Pretty indistinguishable from a range of moronic bigots we’ve already covered, but yeah: delusional, moronic, bigoted conspiracy theorist. Nance is also a pretty influential figure still, and should not be underestimated as a force of evil, hate and harm.

Backwards Piety

September 23, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Most consider the father of Pentecostalism to be Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas with roots in the Methodist Church. While the Wesleys (John and Charles) could not be defined as Pentecostals, their theology laid the foundation upon which the Pentecostal movement would be built. Principally, it was the Methodist view that sanctification was a second work of grace, separate from salvation, coupled with the Holiness belief of a third experience, the “Baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire,” that intrigued Parham. Parham was also influenced by a fresh desire within his denominational circles to experience divine healing and speaking in tongues — practices that most Christians at the end of the nineteenth century believed had ceased with the apostolic age.

In 1900, Parham opened a Bible college to promote these views, which he deemed “Apostolic Faith” theology. An interesting footnote is Parham’s theory that God would soon give His church the gift of tongues, in the form of known languages, so that the world could be quickly evangelized.

Modern Pentecostalism began around 1901. The commonly accepted origin dates from when one Agnes Ozman claimed she had received the ‘gift of tongues (glossolalia)’ at Charles Fox Parham’s Bethal Bible College in Topeka, Kansas in 1901. Parham, a minister of Methodist background, formulated the doctrine that tongues was the “Bible evidence” of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Charles Fox Parham left Topeka and began a revival ministry which led to a link to the Asuza street revival through William J. Seymour whom he taught in his school in Houston, although because Seymour was African-American, he was only allowed to sit outside the room to listen.

William J. Seymour  moved to Los Angeles from Texas in 1906. He founded the Azusa Street Mission from where he promoted the style of worship characterized by “speaking in tongues.” Most of his followers were white. Shockwaves also came over racial tension. In the early months of Azusa Street, blacks and whites, men and women, shared leadership, although blacks were predominate. But soon Seymour asked all the Hispanics to leave, and eventually wrote by-laws that prevented anyone except African-Americans from holding office in the Mission. By 1909, the revival was spent, and eventually faded into history. Even the mission building was razed after Seymour’s death.

The movement led to the first rift over the style of worship in a mainline church when the congregation of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys split over the issue in 1960. An estimated 75 million people are believed to currently adhere to the Pentecostal (or charismatic) form of worship.

The expansion of the movement started with the Azusa Street Revival, beginning April 9, 1906 at the Los Angeles home of a Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lee when Mr. Lee experienced what he felt to be an infilling of the Holy Spirit during a prayer session. The attending pastor, William J. Seymour, also claimed that he was overcome with the Holy Spirit on April 12, 1906. On April 18, 1906, the Los Angeles Times ran a front page story on the movement. By the third week in April, 1906, the small but growing congregation had rented an abandoned African Methodist Episcopal church at 312 Azusa Street and organized as the Apostolic Faith Mission.

The first decade of Pentecostalism was marked by interracial assemblies,”…Whites and blacks mix in a religious frenzy,…” according to a local newspaper account. This lasted until 1924, when the church split along racial lines (see Apostolic Faith Mission). When the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America was formed in 1948, it was made up entirely of Anglo-American Pentecostal denominations. In 1994, Pentecostals returned to their roots of racial reconciliation and proposed formal unification of the major white and black branches of the Pentecostal Church, in a meeting subsequently known as the Memphis Miracle. This unification occurred in 1998, again in Memphis, Tennessee. The unification of white and black movements led to the restructing of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America to become the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America.

About the latter third of the 20th century there was a movement of Pentecostalism, sometimes called the Charismatic Movement into the mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike earlier Pentecostals, they did not leave their churches for strictly Pentecostal churches, or found new denominations. Their motto became, “Bloom where God planted you.”

What do Pentecostals believe about the “End Days?”

The Antichrist is described by Pentecostals as the “son of perdition” and the “beast”!

They claim that this interesting creature will have great charisma and speaking ability, “a mouth speaking great things”.

The Antichrist, they allege, will rise to power on a wave of world euphoria, as he temporarily saves the world from its desperate economic, military & political problems with a brilliant seven year plan for world peace, economic stability and religious freedom.

The Antichrist could well rise out of the current chaos in the former Soviet Union. The prophet Ezekiel names him as the ruler of “Magog”, a name that Biblical scholars agree denotes a country or region of peoples to the north of Israel. Many have interpreted this to mean modern day Russia. It could also be Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, perhaps one of the Baltic States or even the lewd and dissolute Socialist Sweden.

His power base will include the leading nations of Europe, whose leaders, the Bible says, will “give their power and strength unto the beast.”

The Bible even gives some clues about his personal characteristics. The prophet Daniel wrote that the Antichrist “does not regard the desire of women.” This could imply that he is either celibate or a homosexual. Daniel also tells us that he will have a “fierce countenance” or stern look, and will be “more stout than his fellows”–more proud and boastful.

Unfortunately, the so-called Book of Daniel was written during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, not many decades earlier as its proponents claim, and has been extensively modified by early Christian writers to predict the arrival of their personal Messiah, or Christ, on the Judean scene. The so-called “wonderful” prophetic statements put into the mouth of Daniel are absolutely and wondrously accurate…up to the reign of Nero and then fall as flat as a shaken soufflé afterwards

It is well known that Pentecostals loathe homosexuals, among many other groups not pleasing to them, and would like nothing better than to shove them into a bottomless pit filled with Catholics, rock and roll fans, teenaged mothers, Communists, gun control advocates, Tarot card readers, Christian Scientists, abortionists, Wayne Newton fans, Asians, African-Americans and Latino Surnamed Hispanics.

The 7-year peace-pact (or covenant) that is engineered by the Antichrist is spoken of a number of times in the Bible, and may even have already been signed in secret. The historic peace agreement signed between Israel and the PLO at the White House on September 13, 1993, vividly illustrates how dramatically events in the Middle East are presently moving in this direction.

Under the final terms of the Covenant, Jerusalem will likely be declared an international city to which Judaism, Islam and Christianity will have equal rights. Scripture indicates that the Jews will be permitted to rebuild their Temple on Mt. Moriah, where they revive their ancient rituals of animal sacrifice.

According to prophecy the Antichrist will not only be a master of political intrigue, but also a military genius. Daniel describes several major wars that he fights during his 7-year reign, apparently against the U.S. and Israel, who will oppose him during the second half of his reign.

For awhile, most of the world is going to think the Antichrist is wonderful, as he will seem to have solved so many of the world’s problems. But, three-and-a-half years into his seven year reign he will break the covenant & invade Israel from the North.

At this time he will make Jerusalem his world capitol & outlaw all religions, except the worship of himself and his image. The Bible says that the Antichrist will sit in the Jewish Temple exalting himself as God and demanding to be worshipped.

It is at this time that the Antichrist imposes his infamous “666” one-world credit system

It must be said that the Antichrist does, in point of fact exist. He can be seen on a daily basis on the walls of the Cathedral at Orvieto, Italy in the marvelous frescos of Lucca Signorelli. He looks somewhat like a Byzantine depiction of Christ with either a vicious wife or bad indigestion.

Pentecostals strongly believe that U.S. public schools “departed from the faith” when in 1963 the Bible and prayer were officially banned. Now, Pentecostals believe with horror, thousands of these same schools are teaching credited courses in “the doctrines of devils”–the occult and Satanism.

Even a cursory check of curriculum of a number of American public school districts does not support this claim but then the Pentecostals have stated repeatedly that they represent 45% of all Protestants in America. The actual number, excluding the Baptists, is more like 4%.

What they lack in actual numbers they more than compensate for by their loud and irrational views so that at times it sounds like the roar of a great multitude when in truth, it is only a small dwarf with a bullhorn, trumpeting in the underbrush.

Frantic Pentecostals estimated that according to their private Census for Christ there are over 200,000 practicing witches in the United States and allege there are literally millions of Americans who dabble in some form of the occult, psychic phenomena, spiritualism, demonology and black magic. Their statistics claim that occult book sales have doubled in the last four years.

What is seen by terrified Pentecostals as The Occult today is no longer the stuff of small underground cults. They believe that many rock videos are an open worship of Satan and hell that comes complete with the symbols, liturgies, and rituals of Satanism, and the Pentecostals firmly and loudly proclaim to anyone interested in listening, that “millions of young people” have been caught in their evil sway.

Popular music is termed “sounds of horror and torment” that Pentecostals firmly believe is literally “driving young people insane and seducing them into a life of drugs, suicide, perversion and hell.” It is forgotten now but the same thing was once said about ragtime and later, jazz. If this had been true, perhaps the real reason behind the First World War, the 1929 market crash, the rise of Franklin Roosevelt and the lewd hula hoop can be attributed to Scott Joplin and Ella Fitzgerald.

It is also to be noted that the immensely popular Harry Potter series of children’s books are loudly proclaimed as Satanic books designed to lure unsuspecting children into the clutches of the Evil One. Any sane person who has read these delightful fantasy books will certainly not agree with these hysterical strictures. In point of fact, it would be exceedingly difficult to locate any person possessing even a modicum of sanity who would believe the weird fulminations of the Pentecostals.

Outraged Pentecostals now firmly state that in the beginning years of the Twenty First Century, “even the most shameless acts of blasphemy and desecration are socially acceptable.”

“Acts of blasphemy and desecration” sound like human sacrifices carried out at bus stops during the noontime rush hour or lewd acts with crucifixes performed by drug-maddened transvestites on commercial airlines.

In his weird Book of Revelation the lunatic John of Patmos claimed he foresaw that in the last days the world would turn away from God in order to worship and follow Satan.

Such a prophecy would have seemed unbelievable to previous generations, but not so in our day. Hard-core Satanism has been called by terrified  Pentecostals as “the fastest-growing subculture among America’s teens”, and  the revival of witchcraft and the occult is one of the World’s fastest growing religions!






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