Tuesday Reads: Fourth of July Hijacking and Other NewsPosted: July 2, 2019
Do you suppose Trump knows that the 4th of July was designated as a day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence? Does he know that the founding fathers didn’t think we should have a large standing army? Naaaaah . . . what was I thinking? The 4th of July is just another day to celebrate himself and the massive military machine he controls.
The New York Times: Trump Says Tanks Will Be on Display in Washington for July 4.
President Trump said on Monday that the Pentagon would put military tanks on display on Thursday in Washington as part of his plans to turn the annual Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital into a salute to the country’s military prowess.
The tanks will join an airborne display of the nation’s firepower, including a flight of Air Force One over Washington and a performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels jets. Mr. Trump, who is to speak at the celebration, has requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him as aircraft from each of their services fly overhead and their respective hymns play on loudspeakers.
“It’ll be like no other — it’ll be special, and I hope a lot of people come,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We have some incredible equipment, military equipment, on display — brand-new. And we’re very proud of it.”
Mr. Trump’s Fourth of July homage to the military sets up a cultural clash between the Republican president and a mostly Democratic city that has for decades celebrated America’s independence with almost no public participation by presidents of either party. The City Council for the District of Columbia, which was not happy with Mr. Trump’s decision, posted on Twitter that “we have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”
The president’s decision also reflects the divide between Mr. Trump and the forces at his command. Top military officials have expressed deep concern about letting the armed forces be used by the president to advance a political agenda, and earlier resisted his efforts for a military parade on Veterans Day.
Pentagon officials have long been reluctant to parade tanks, missiles and other weapons through the nation’s capital like the authoritarian leaders of North Korea and China. They say the United States, which has the world’s most powerful military and spends more on defense than the seven next largest military spenders combined — China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, Britain and Germany — does not need to broadcast its strength.
And if this is supposedly a “bipartisan” celebration, why are Trump’s buddies getting special seating and why are the tickets being handled by the RNC?
President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.
The Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies….
Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.
The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.
It’s going to be a giant Hatch Act violation and it reflects Trump’s attraction to authoritarian leaders.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”
Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement.
“This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.
There’s more about the problems with Trump’s plans at the link.
And of course Trump’s Nazi fans will show up for the long nighmarish weekend. The Daily Beast: Proud Boys and Allies to Rally in D.C. to Capitalize on ‘Trumpstravaganza.’
Members of the far-right Proud Boys men’s group and their allies will rally in D.C. on July 6, just a week after violence at rival Portland rallies ratcheted up tensions between groups on both the right and left. The Proud Boys event and a rival counterprotest threaten to add even more tension for what’s already shaping up to be a hot, strange week in Washington.
The Proud Boys—self-described “Western chauvinists” who adhere to a dizzying array of rules, including restrictions on how much they can masturbate —will be joined by a number of right-wing internet personalities at the “Rally for Free Speech” at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.
The event’s website lists a number of right-wing internet provocateurs, including conservative smear-pusher Jacob Wohl, anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, British far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec. The bill also names a host of lesser-known social media figures, including YouTube prankster-turned-congressional candidate Joey Salads and “Copper Cab,” the YouTuber who became famous in 2010 for the viral “gingers have souls” video.
Meanwhile some veterans plan a sort of counter-protest. HuffPost: Vets To Give Out Thousands Of USS John McCain Shirts At Trump’s July 4 Event.
Irked by President Donald Trump’s plan to hold his own July Fourth event on the National Mall, veterans plan to give out thousands of USS John S. McCain T-shirts to make the president face a crowd of people honoring the McCain family’s legacy and the idea of putting one’s country before oneself.
VoteVets, a left-leaning nonprofit group founded in 2006 by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, is organizing the effort in response to Trump’s unprecedented “Salute to America” celebration. While Americans will still be able to catch the annual fireworks display on the National Mall, Trump is hosting his own event at the Lincoln Memorial, where he will give remarks and has set up a ticketed area for VIPs, friends, family and members of the military. Trump’s event will include military flyovers and possibly tanks.
“Today, we learned the news that Donald Trump is turning the national 4th of July celebration into a 2020 campaign event, complete with a ticketed VIP section for friends and supporters,” reads a Sunday email from VoteVets. “That’s not what America is about.”
VoteVets has already raised enough money to make more than 5,000 T-shirts, which veterans will hand out to people on the National Mall and, before that, deliver to members of Congress. All of the shirts, which feature an image of the Navy destroyer named after three generations of John S. McCains — including the late Arizona senator and Trump critic — are being made by Rags of Honor, a company that employs homeless veterans.
It’s all so depressing.
In other news, Trump is upset about the way people mocked his daughter
Barbie Ivanka’s behavior at the G20, so he sent Sarah Huckabee Sanders (didn’t she already leave?) to tamp down the Twitter brigade.
But some unnamed White House officials were confused by Ivanka’s behavior overseas. The Daily Beast: Ivanka’s North Korea Photobombs Perplex White House Officials.
When Donald Trump and his advisers crossed over from South Korea into the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea over the weekend, the cameras were ready. Images of the president greeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “my friend” in a last-minute meetup streamed across televisions worldwide.
Trump wasn’t alone. After a few snapshots, Ivanka Trump, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, followed the president into what’s known as the Freedom House—a building on the South Korean side of the zone. That’s when the cameras stopped. The media was reportedly blocked from entering and covering the historic event.
It wasn’t until later that reporters learned Ivanka and Kushner did more than accompany the president into the Freedom House. They were reportedly present at a closed-door meeting between the two leaders, who ended up speaking about one of the most sensitive topics on the planet—North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.
Here’s a story you won’t find surprising, even if the mainstream media does.
The study, by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, does not prove that Russian interference swung the election to Trump. But it demonstrates that Trump’s gains in popularity during the 2016 campaign correlated closely with high levels of social media activity by the Russian trolls and bots of the Internet Research Agency, a key weapon in the Russian attack.
“Our results show that the weeks when Russian trolls were accumulating likes and retweets on Twitter, that activity reliably foreshadowed gains for Trump in the opinion polls,” wrote Damian Ruck, the study’s lead researcher, in an article explaining his findings.
The study found that every 25,000 re-tweets by accounts connected to the IRA predicted a 1 percent increase in opinion polls for Trump.
In an interview with NBC News, Ruck said the research suggests that Russian trolls helped shift U.S public opinion in Trump’s favor. As to whether it affected the outcome of the election: “The answer is that we still don’t know, but we can’t rule it out.”
Given that the election turned on 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, “it is a prospect that should be taken seriously,” Ruck wrote, adding that more study was needed in those swing states.
Just as we knew all along, the election was stolen from Hillary and from us.
That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?