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Dareen Khalifa, senior Syria analyst for International Crisis Group via WP: “This is a battle the Syrian Democratic Forces would surely lose. The flat typography [sic] favors conventional warfare.”

2019-10-09

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com and Defence-Imagery)

Indeed, the typography is too flat and favors conventional warfare… I know they mean topography, but it still sounds ironic.  The Turks have conducted airstrikes and artillery bombardment on sites in Kurdish-held Syria near the Turkish border.  The Kurds are firing back but there doesn’t appear to be any organized opposition.  Likely they are simply providing cover fire for the withdrawal of the rest of the Kurdish troops.  The American soldiers in the area are probably supporting the Kurds from the rear– all the Presidential order has done is to remove American troops from harm’s way.

The right thing to do would have been to use the threat of American sanctions to talk Erdogan out of invading Syria, but our *president has 119 active business interests in Turkey, including the [redacted] Tower in Istanbul, making it difficult for him to threaten economic sanctions when his own businesses would be affected.

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[redacted]: “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey…”

2019-10-07

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Sometimes just repeating the words he says make it clear that he is delusional and malignantly narcissistic as well as just completely insane.

What’s worse, he expects the Kurds to be reassured by this statement.

Kerry W. Kircher: “He is poking his fingers into all of the places where we have norms and traditions and things that both parties have respected for years, and he has blown all of those out the window.”

2019-10-07

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Kerry Kircher was the House counsel for the Republican majority between 2011 and 2016.  He was quoted in the Washington Post today describing what [redacted] has done to the American system of democratic-republican government: he is openly defying the legislative branch in its attempt to exercise its oversight responsibilities and its impeachment powers over the executive branch.  He has declared a policy of no cooperation at all with the House committees’ requests and subpoenas for documents and testimony.  The rare person who testifies (like Kurt Volker) has usually already retired or been pushed out of government.

If [redacted] is successful in his attempts to stonewall the House, impeachment and “exoneration” by the Senate are likely consequences.   The only hope for the Constitutional is conviction in the Senate– and that will require far more than the three Republican Senators who have so far expressed doubt about the President’s actions.  Ultimately, that will make him successful at destroying constitutional government.  The next President will find it easier still to defy Congress and legislate by executive order, backed by a conservative Supreme Court that accepts the “unitary executive” theory and that may sit for many years.

The situation is deteriorating fast, though.  [redacted] has just agreed in a phone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to allow Turkish forces to invade the border area, up to 20 miles inside Syria, and take control of the ISIS prisoners the Kurds are holding.  This area is currently controlled by the Kurds, who have depended on American logistics and support to overwhelm and capture 12,000 ISIS fighters and a total of some 80,000 prisoners, controlling the ISIS threat for the moment.

There is no explanation for how these prisoners will be transferred to Turkish custody, and it is unlikely that the Turks will take on this responsibility earnestly.  If any of them escape, they could form the nucleus of a renewed ISIS.  The chaos promised by American and Kurdish withdrawal from the border area and Turkish attacks on Kurdish positions would be an ideal atmosphere for renewed hostilities from ISIS.

What was the President thinking when he made this decision (which is being carried out as we speak)?  He says he doesn’t want to pay any more for Kurdish help now that ISIS has been “eliminated” since the Kurds have already gotten a lot of money and supplies.  He says let the locals and the “tribes” fight it out among themselves.

Except that’s not how the US has been operating up until recently.  The Americans made commitments to democratic institutions and to freedom for the Kurds.  They’re not just some local “tribe”– for many years, the Kurds have seen themselves as an aspiring nation.  An independent Kurdistan has been the dream of Kurdish leaders since WW I and even before that, when the Turks massacred the Armenians.

This area has a complex history, and there are small minorities of Christians and other faiths that are in danger of being wiped out by those following the ISIS ideology.  America has already made a point of rescuing the Yazidis from ISIS.  The Kurds have worked hard to live up to American ideals and are even more deserving of shelter.

In other words, by abandoning the Kurds to the Turks, we are betraying promises made to Kurdish leaders that they depended on when they willingly gave up 11,000 dead in combat against ISIS.  James Mattis resigned over this, and numerous others within the administration did their best to convince [redacted] not to do this.  Those people are all gone, and [redacted] has gone back to his first impulse, which is to reflexively withdraw troops and renounce commitments whenever it seems convenient.

He is actually reluctant to spend American money on military logistics and troops in other countries, while at the same time giving more money to the military in this country.  I think he expects the extra money to be used on bribes and other graft rather than spending it in South Korea.

This brings me to North Korea.  Something tells me that [redacted] would love to withdraw American troops from South Korea in exchange for promises from Kim Il-Sung to denuclearize.  He is so eager that he is likely to offer Kim a deal that he can’t pass up, in time for a propaganda coup for American presidential elections.

NYT: “Biographer Michael D’Antonio predicted that being in the White House would distill [him] to his essence. And his essence, D’Antonio says, is a dark swirl of cruelty, violence and fear. “

2019-10-06

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Comment of the Day: The right openly espouses the virtues of hate, greed, and violence; the left is more than willing to compromise.

2019-10-05
(cartoon courtesy of pixabay.com)
McGloin
Brooklyn

@Jim But Brooks is lying to himself or himself about what makes them support Trump. They openly espouse the virtues of hate, greed, and violence, say the ends justify the means, “kill all the liberals,” our government is their “enemy,” and support Trump while he divides Our Union and calls for violence against citizens without due process, day in and day out. They reject reason (facts, logic, math, and science) and refuse to compromise, which means they can’t be “reasonable people with whom we happen to disagree.” Reasonable people do not reject the entire Enlightenment, which is the set of Philosophies that led to Constitutional Government. I started in the center, and have spent my life following politics and economics, so I have moved steadily left, because the Left is correct, and the Right is a bunch of thieving liars who believe in nothing but hate, greed, and violence. I am not going to delude myself that this third of the Country that loves Trump has any good reason to do so. I have given up on them. We need to beat them at the polls, not keep trying to “understand them,” while centrist Democrats call the Left “extreme” because we actually oppose fascism. The Right believes that you must lose so they can win. They don’t care what you think. The Left is more than willing to compromise. The Left actively practices consensus building, where all voices are heard, so that we can use our creativity to find win/win solutions that make everyone’s lives better.

(My question: if the left is actively practicing consensus building, why does [redacted] say they’re going to turn us into Venezuela?  What we have here is a failure to communicate.)

[redacted] on Ukraine: “They’re all corrupt and they tried to take me down.”

2019-10-05

(photo courtesy of pixabay)

The President, of course, is a master of projection and some Ukrainians are corrupt, so that statement is understandable.  But “they tried to take me down”?  It seems that an investigative journalist publicized the fact that Paul Manafort had been on the payroll of a deeply corrupt previous Ukrainian administration to the tune of $12.7 million– his job: to massage the image of a corrupt candidate for President electronically to make him over as an honest, corruption-fighting statesman.

As a result of negative publicity about this revelation, Manafort was forced to quit as [redacted]’s campaign manager.  He was later caught up by the Mueller investigation and is now serving 7+ years in prison for tax fraud, among other things.  But that was the only thing that happened before the 2016 election in which someone from Ukraine played a role.  So why does [redacted] think “they tried to take me down.” ?

He thinks that the Ukrainians did the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server hack and fingered the Russians.  He thinks the DNC’s server is physically in Ukraine (that part is original with him).  What’s more, he thinks that this was done in the service of the DNC, although exactly why escapes me.  He also thinks that the British spied on him at the behest of the Obama administration, or Obama personally in his mind.  He thinks that the original tip from an Australian diplomat –that a Russian source had told a Republican operative that the Russians had obtained a large trove of Democratic emails– was orchestrated by someone in the Australian government who disliked him.  All of these disjointed “facts” are part of a huge conspiracy theory, or family of theories, that [redacted] believes in.

The conspiracy theories are in service of the denial of two things: first, the fact that the Russians materially aided his election victory in 2016; and second, the fact that he lost the popular vote by 2.8 millions in that election.

These beliefs are part of a paranoid personality style which fits in well with his malignant narcissism.  So, we have a troika of mental disorders: narcissism, sociopathy, and the “Dunning-Kruger” effect gone wild.  Everything is about “Me!  Me!” (he practically shouted that while pounding his chest in front of reporters yesterday), he is incapable of believing that he can ever do wrong, and he is the only true expert in every known field of expertise.  And he is President.  This will not end well.

Thomas Bossert: “The DNC server and that conspiracy theory has got to go. If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”

2019-10-04

(image courtesy of pixabay.com and Clkr-free-vector-images)

This was Thomas Bossert, [redacted]’s former homeland security adviser, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

The theory, if you didn’t know yet, has a novel aspect or two that [redacted] has added to the “original” conspiracy about Ukraine and the 2016 elections.  Remember that in the original version, Crowdstrike conspired with the Ukrainian government to rig the 2016 elections in Hillary’s favor– but forgot to remind her campaign.  Then the Ukrainians fixed it to make it look like the Russians did it.  The FBI either didn’t know they’d been had or else wittingly cooperated in this conspiracy, partly by not examining the physical servers that were hacked (never mind that Crowdstrike gave the FBI digital images of the servers to play with).  There’s also a conspiracy about the revelations of Manafort’s work in Ukraine and his $12.7 million payout– that somehow the Democrats solicited this information, which was confirmed when Manafort was sent to prison for it.

In addition to the first version, there is the new assertion that the physical servers (the original ones that belonged to the DNC and were hacked to yield the emails which were spilled all over the news prior to the election) are actually in Ukraine.  What’s more, Crowdstrike (the company that alerted the FBI to the hacking and materially assisted the effort to determine what had been done and who had done it) is actually owned by a rich Ukrainian.  These stunning “facts” come directly from [redacted]’s fertile imagination; they didn’t exist in the “news” stories he had been reading.

So, we have the President playing a sort of game of Telephone with conspiracy theories, not only believing the most absurd one that fits his emotional needs, but adding details all his own.  As with all good propaganda, there is a seed of truth, and that appears to be the job that Hunter Biden had with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.  It was a very high paying job for such a young man, and it is easy to charge that Hunter was playing off his father’s name.  Fortunately for Hunter, there has been no wrongdoing by Burisma uncovered, despite the disadvantage its director has in being part of a corrupt administration now overthrown by elections.

It seems that Ukraine’s new President took the only way open to him: lie to the Americans that they were going to start an investigation (with all attendant publicity) of the Bidens, and stall for time.  Fortunately for Volodymyr Zelensky, a “bipartisan outcry” (namely a few strategic calls from key [redacted] supporters in the Republican Senate) saved his funding just in time– or not.

What I have read seems to indicate that Zelensky has gone ahead with a sort of peace treaty with Russia.  This treaty has some very unequal terms, it seems.  Further news of this will come in the next few days– or not, if it’s not true.