Posted: December 18, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: 2024 Elections, Ali Alexander, caturday, Civil War, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, January 6 insurrection, Omicron variant, Rick Perry, U.S. Military
By Pat Matticchio
I’m beginning to accept that we are never going to return to “normal.” After 6 years of dealing with Trump and his domination of the Republican party, after 2 long years of Covid-19 and the loss of more than 800,000 lives, we now face the threat of losing our democracy as we deal with a new Covid variant that is already spreading rapidly and is likely to kill many more Americans. And I haven’t even touched on the dangers we face from climate change.
On the threats to U.S. democracy:
The Washington Post: Opinion: 3 retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection, by Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba, and Steven M. Anderson
As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we — all of us former senior military officials — are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.
In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.
One of our military’s strengths is that it draws from our diverse population. It is a collection of individuals, all with different beliefs and backgrounds. But without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real.
Le Chat Van Gogh by Toni Goffe
The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.
Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.
The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.
Please go read the rest at the WaPo.
Molly Jong-Fast at The Atlantic: How Do You Get People to Care About Democracy? The preservation of Democracy shouldn’t be a partisan activity.
Every time the January 6 committee holds a hearing, it seems clearer and clearer that Donald Trump was trying to keep control over the government after losing reelection. The past week alone produced the “how to coup” PowerPoint, widely circulated in Trumpworld, and a slew of text messages, including this sorry we weren’t able to pull off a coup note from an unidentified lawmaker to Mark Meadows: “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked.” It’s pretty clear what Trump was up to: trying to reinstall himself as president and end American democracy as we know it.
Trump’s crew surely knew how bad the events of January 6 were even as they were unfolding. “The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home … he is destroying his legacy,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrote to Mark Meadows in a text message read by Republican Representative Liz Cheney during the opening statements of the Jan 6 committee meeting on Monday night. A range of journalists sent similar messages. Actual reporter Jake Sherman—who had been stuck in the Capitol during the riot, and who released his texts with Meadows “out of transparency”—wrote, “Do something for us. We are under siege in the [Capitol].” Another “journalist” exchanging texts with Meadows at the time: Fox propagandist Sean Hannity, who wrote, “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
We are not alone, Greeting card by Alison Friend
It’s a long piece, but here’s the conclusion:
But how you safeguard democracy when only one party supports it is a riddle. How do Democrats permeate the Fox and Facebook anti-fact chamber, which paints Trump as the real victim of the insurrection he helped instigate?
I don’t know how you get Republicans to see past this election, to understand that losing democracy is about more than just a win for their guy. Some members of the mainstream media have been defensive, saying they aren’t covering the threat to democracy because lawmakers aren’t talking about it. But here’s the thing: It’s the media’s job to make people care, to highlight the stories that matter. We don’t look to elected officials to tell us what to write about. We journalists may be the bulwark that keeps America from resembling Hungary or Turkey in a few years. Keeping democracy shouldn’t be a partisan fight, but it is, and perhaps that’s the most damning thing of all.
Okay, then how do we get the most powerful newspaper–The New York Times–to care about democracy?
About that text to Meadows expressing sorrow that the coup failed? It appears to have come from Rick Perry’s phone. CNN: Exclusive: Jan 6 investigators believe Nov. 4 text pushing ‘strategy’ to undermine election came from Rick Perry.
Posted: June 2, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: australia, Bill Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Donald Trump, evangelicals, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, law enforcement targeting journalists, St. John's Episcopal Church DC, U.S. Military
Yesterday was one of the most surreal days in the nearly four years of the Trump “presidency.” and worse days are very likely coming. Yesterday evening Trump used federal troops and tear gas to remove peaceful protesters so that he could have a photo op of himself holding an upside down and backwards bible in front of the damaged church door of St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
Here’s the campaign video the White House released after Trump’s despicable performance.
The New York Times: Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church
People who gathered outside the White House to protest police brutality spent Monday waving signs and screaming for justice. They watched as police officers and National Guard units flooded Lafayette Square, delivering on a threat made by President Trump. And just before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, they were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas.
It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.
That church, St. John’s — the so-called Church of the Presidents because every one since James Madison has attended — had been briefly set ablaze as the protests devolved on Sunday evening. After Mr. Trump’s aides spent much of Monday expressing outrage over the burning of a place of worship, Hope Hicks, a presidential adviser, eventually hatched a plan with others at the White House to have the president walk over to the building, according to an official familiar with the events.
As Mr. Trump delivered a speech in the Rose Garden vowing to send the military to states where governors could not bring rioting under control but calling himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” the sound of explosions and the yells of demonstrators could be heard. After receiving repeated warnings to disperse before the city’s curfew, the crowd was tear-gassed.
Bill Barr was there for the show and apparently approved of the violence against protesters and media that followed Trump’s ugly speech.
Mr. Trump began his walk to the church at 7:01 p.m. for a photo session that lasted about 17 minutes. On his way over, after protesters had been driven from the park, he was trailed by a group of aides, including Attorney General William P. Barr. Mr. Barr had strolled to the edge of the police line to observe the crowd in the minutes before the tear-gassing began.
He walked alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Ivanka Trump, his eldest daughter and senior adviser. Ms. Trump was wearing a mask, one of the few visible reminders on Monday that the administration was in the middle of battling a public health crisis. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, Ms. Hicks and Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, were also among the cadre of aides.
Please go read this thread by Jared Yates Sexton on what Trump was trying to accomplish with his Bible stunt.
Trump did not ask permission to use the church in his propaganda video and photos and we now know that he had a priest and a seminarian forcibly evicted from the church beforehand.
Religion News Service: Ahead of Trump Bible photo op, police forcibly expel priest from St. John’s church near White House.
Authorities also expelled at least one Episcopal priest and a seminarian from the church’s patio.
“They turned holy ground into a battleground,” said the Rev. Gini Gerbasi.
Gerbasi, who serves as rector at a different Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, arrived at St. John’s Lafayette earlier that day with what she said were at least 20 other priests and a group of laypeople. They were organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to serve as a “peaceful presence in support of protestors.”
The volunteers and clergy offered water, snacks, and hand sanitizer to demonstrators who were gathered in Lafayette Park across the street — which sits directly in front of the White House — to denounce racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
But sometime after six in the evening, when volunteers were packing up supplies, Gerbasi said police suddenly began to expel demonstrators from the park — before the 7:00 pm curfew announced for Washington residents earlier in the day.
“I was suddenly coughing from the tear gas,” she said. “We heard those explosions and people would drop to the ground because you weren’t sure what it was.”
The Rev. Glenna J. Huber, the rector of the Church of the Epiphany who was at St. John’s but left as the National Guard arrived, said she watched as police rushed into the area she had just fled. Concerned, the priest sent a frantic email to clergy at the church urging them to be careful.
Back at St. John’s, Gerbasi said she was dressed in clerical garb and standing on church grounds as police approached.
“I’m there in my little pink sweater in my collar, my gray hair up in a ponytail, my reading glasses on, and my seminarian who was with me — she got tear gas in her eyes,” she said.
Gerbasi said as she and the seminarian watched, police began to expel people from the church patio.
“The police in their riot gear with their black shields and the whole bit start pushing on to the patio of St. John’s Lafayette Square,” she said, adding that people around her began crying out in pain, claiming to be shot with non-lethal projectiles.
Gerbasi and others eventually fled the scene, leaving emergency medical supplies behind. By the time she reached K street several blocks away and checked her phone, Trump was already in front of the church holding a Bible.
The mayor of DC reacted on Twitter:
As Dakinikat reported yesterday, Trump verbally attacked U.S. governors earlier in the day during a phone call that was to have been with Mike Pence about the coronavirus crisis.
The Daily Beast: ‘Unhinged’ Trump Demands Mass Arrests, Flag-Burning Laws.
President Trump lashed out at state governors Monday, saying that those who did not mass arrest protesters “for long periods of time” would end up looking like “a bunch of jerks.”
“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate… you’re wasting your time,” Trump said on a private conference call with governors and national security officials. “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
The president, who is hunkered down in the White House, added during the call that local officials have to put protestors and looters in prison “for long periods of time” in order to assert control amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
“It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse,” Trump said. “The only time it’s successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.”
A source on the call, who shared it with The Daily Beast, called Trump’s talk “unhinged,” noting that it often veered off in various directions. At one point, the source said, the president brought up flag burning and encouraged states to pass laws banning it….
At another, he blurred legal lines when discussing the needs for prosecution. “When someone is throwing a rock, that’s like shooting a gun. What’s the difference?” Trump said. “You have to do retribution in my opinion.”
Listen to the whole insane rant at the Daily Beast link above.
Kevin Baron at Defense One writes: Trump Finally Gets the War He Wanted.
President Donald Trump finally got the war he wanted. It isn’t in Afghanistan, or Iraq, Syria, or North Korea. It’s right here in Washington, D.C., where on Monday the president claimed moral and Constitutional authority and ordered federal law enforcement and the U.S. military to turn against Americans who opposed him.
After warning over the weekend that out-of-line rabble-rousers across the street from the White House would face “vicious dogs,” Trump instead sicced police, troops, and U.S. Army helicopters, on protestors — violent and nonviolent — whom he claims, without evidence, are led by the militant left-wing Antifa group of Americans. It’s the culmination of three years of Trump praising militant, far-right, all-white, AR-15-brandishing protestors from Charlottesville to Lansing, while amplifying conspiracy theories about his enemies — including that the media, Democrats, left-wing extremists, and pretty much anyone without a MAGA hat on at a Trump rally was out to ruin him and the United States. He has sought to turn Americans against each other from his inaugural speech, with tweet after tweet, purposefully criticizing the media to undermine Americans’ trust in facts. He’s played DC’s traditional partisan politics like a master fiddler.
Trump has also tried to draw in the military and national security services. In his first month in office, he flew to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command and bashed the media to American service members. He bashed his enemies in front of the CIA’s hallowed memorial stars. He bashed his political opponents in a partisan speech inside the Pentagon. He’s used troops as backdrops for political rallies. He took over Independence Day, ordering service members to participate in a celebration about himself as much as America. He ordered the military into the heart of his most controversial projects like building the southern border wall. And he changed the very makeup of the U.S. armed forces, banning foreign and transgender soldiers.
For three years, half a dozen defense secretaries and Joint Chiefs chairmen tried, each in his own way, to keep the military out of Trump’s politics while complying dutifully with the commander in chief. But on Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper walked right into it. First, Esper was caught on tape during the president’s phone call with governors, likening the protests to a “battlespace.” Trump berated the governors, told them to use the National Guard against protestors, and warned that if the state leaders resisted him, he would send in military force. He said he put Milley in charge of coordinating the nationwide response.
Please click the link and read the rest at Defense One.
I had planned to focus today’s post on Police and National Guard attacks on journalists, but something worse always seems to come up when I make plans about what to cover in a post. But here’s something that happened yesterday and it could lead to a serious international incident.
Yahoo News: Australia probes US police assault on its journalists.
Australia is investigating a US police attack on two Australian television journalists outside the White House, the foreign minister said Tuesday, expressing “strong concerns” about the assault caught live on camera.
“We have asked the Australian embassy in Washington, DC to investigate this incident,” Marise Payne said after the journalists were slammed with a riot shield, punched and hit with a baton while broadcasting from the protest.
“I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia’s strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington,” she said, indicating a formal complaint would follow.
Footage showed 7NEWS reporter Amelia Brace being clubbed with a truncheon and cameraman Tim Myers being hit with a riot shield and punched in the face by police clearing Washington’s Lafayette Square of protesters on Monday.
The journalists said they were later shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed, which Brace said left the pair “a bit sore”.
The incident was widely broadcast in Australia, causing consternation in a country that has been a close US ally.
The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., said on Twitter: “We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take democracy seriously.”
Two more links on the topic of law enforcement attacks on journalists:
Nieman Lab: U.S. police have attacked journalists more than 100 times in the past four days.
bellingcat: US Law Enforcement Are Deliberately Targeting Journalists During George Floyd Protests.
I just hope today won’t be worse than yesterday. I’m tired of withstanding shocks to my system, and I know I’m not alone in that. Take care of yourselves Sky Dancers!
Posted: March 4, 2011 Filed under: anonymous, Barack Obama, torture, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Wikileaks | Tags: anonymous, Barack Obama, Bradley Manning, shame, Torture, U.S. Military
A prominent member of Anonymous says the loosely organized hacktivist group will target the U.S. Military to avenge the treatment of Bradley Manning, the young man who is accused of leaking classified information to Wikileaks.
“Manning is an absolute hero. If this means me going to fucking prison, then that’s fine,” said Barrett Brown earlier today in an interview.
Brown, best described as a self-styled spokesperson for Anonymous, who enjoys some support from the loosely associative group…has Brown and others working with him outraged.
On the evenings of March 2 and March 3, Bradley Manning was forced to strip naked, remaining under observation in this condition within his cell for seven hours each night. The following mornings, still without any clothing, Manning was forced to stand at attention outside his cell as the Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived. Manning was later given his clothes.
“This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated…No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation,” commented David Coombs, the lawyer representing Manning, who was once a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army.
Brown says the hacker group will target not only anyone responsible for the horrible treatment Manning is getting, but also the person or persons who turned him in to authorities.
This could get really entertaining. But it shouldn’t be necessary. What is being done to Manning is wrong, and President Obama is shaming our country by letting it happen. It is very sad to read a headline like this in a British newspaper (the Guardian): Bradley Manning and the stench of US hypocrisy
One of the few people to have visited Manning, David House, spoke yesterday of how he had witnessed his friend go from a “bright-eyed intelligent young man” to someone who at times has appeared “catatonic” with “very high difficulty carrying on day to day conversation”. House drew similarities with the case of Bobby Dellelo, an American prisoner who developed psychosis after a lengthy period in solitary confinement conditions similar to Manning’s. “For me this has been like watching a really good friend succumb to an illness or something,” he said. “I think that Bradley Manning is being punished this way because the US government wants him to crack ahead of his trial.”
While there has been widespread and well publicised condemnation of issues surrounding Manning’s detainment, his conditions have failed to improve. In fact, things may have got worse, not better, for the Oklahoma-born soldier who is incidentally entitled to UK citizenship through his Welsh mother….
In recent days and weeks the US government has condemned human rights abuses and repression in almost every country across the Middle East – yet at a prison within its own borders it sanctions the persecution, alleged psychological torture and debasement of a young soldier who appears to have made a principled choice in the name of progress.
“Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal,” said Barack Obama in 2008. But the stench of his hypocrisy is no longer bearable. It is time, now more than ever, that Bradley Manning received the justice he so clearly deserves.
At Huffpo, Barton Kunstler writes:
The treatment of Bradley Manning by the United States Army has stained the honor of the American military….[T]he most powerful army in the world is subjecting him to brutal treatment that qualifies as borderline torture. One can argue the extent, if any, of his guilt, or whether the editorial board of The New York Times should be brought up on criminal charges for aiding and abetting the delivery of the material Manning leaked. But torture? Sanctioned and conducted by the U.S. Army? Sleep deprivation ‘a la North Korea’s brainwashing techniques? Stripped and forced to stand naked in a cold cell? Kept in total isolation 23 hours a day except when he must respond to guards who check on him — every 5 minutes? This is the “new army”? Who gave the go-ahead to impose this kind of treatment on a man who may not even have committed a crime? Who decided to raise the stakes in Manning’s trial and bring capital charges against him. That’s right. He is accused of aiding and abetting the enemy and for a U.S. soldier, the punishment can be death, although the army announced, in a show of benevolence, they will likely only seek life imprisonment.
Whoever it is driving this madness, they have a commanding officer. And somewhere up the line, the buck stops at the top — at least that’s the single most important, bottom-line rule of leadership. In the United States Army, the top is known as the Commander in Chief, also known as the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Which leads me to wonder:
Why is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces silent about the torture and judicial railroading of an American soldier by his own army, an army of which President Obama is the highest ranking officer?