Friday, August 24, 2018

What's in Pecker's safe: A Spy exclusive!

By Ida Tarbell
Spy Investigative Unit

With passengers lining up to board the Immunity Express to Probation, the Grifter-in-Chief and his dwindling band of co-conspirators, apologists, and hangers-on are sounding ever more desperate and worried.  The latest blow to their cover-up is the announcement that David Pecker, President and Chief Bagman for the National Enquirer and related fish wrap, has grabbed a parlor car seat on the train and is ready to tell all.

Even more exciting, word has leaked out that Pecker has a safe containing all the dirty little secrets that he saw fit not to publish, on purely journalistic grounds, of course.
Definitely dead, according to David Pecker

But only the Spy has obtained the contents of that safe and, in a worldwide exclusive, will share them with you.  Among the bombshells contained therein are irrefutable evidence in support of the following earthshaking revelations:

  • Documentary evidence including coroner's reports and death certificates proving that Elvis Presley is really, really dead.
  • A confidential report from the Air Force and a prominent panel of astrophysicists concluding that UFO's have never visited the Earth, aliens have never landed in New Mexico or anyone else and subjected Earthlings to anal probes, and any reports to the contrary are “utter bollocks.”
  • Photographs and credit card receipts proving that Jennifer Aniston is neither sleeping with 50 different movie stars nor crying herself to sleep every night.
  • Medical reports stating that Hillary Clinton is in fine health, especially compared to the 299-pound stroke-in-waiting in the White House.
  • More medical reports, this time confirming that no Kardashian is pregnant with the love child of any rapper or basketball player other than the ones she is married to.
But wait there's more!
  • Peer-reviewed scientific studies confirming you can't burn off 25 pounds a day with steroid-laced smoothies.
  • Report from Bill O'Reilly's rehab center containing his diagnosis: broken-down old alkie.
  • Letter from Alan Dershowitz to O.J. Simpson entitled: “How to Shrink Leather Gloves”
  • Collection letters on behalf of David Pecker's cosmetic dentists
  • Rejection notice closing Rudy Giuliani's Tinder account on the grounds that he is “too creepy.”
  • A huge sheaf of documents proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Michelle Obama is a smart, committed, compassionate woman interested in helping others and supporting her family
  • Jeanne Dixon's signed confession that astrology is a “load of crap.”

Note:  This is a developing story.  More details will be provided as soon as Pecker creates them.

Friday, August 17, 2018

John Brennan and the slow torture of our Republic

By Buck Turgidson, U.S. Army (ret.) 
National Security Correspondent

By our reckoning, the 72nd Article of Impeachment against President U Bum is based upon his abuse of power and obstruction of justice in yanking the security clearance of retired CIA Director John Brennan because Brennan had dared to criticize the Treason-Faced Grifter.

Commentators, notably excluding any member of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, have rightly savaged this petty tyranny as violating a fundamental norm of American constitutional order: a President can't exercise his powers solely or even predominantly to punish his critics and intimidate others into remaining silent.

Where does it say that in the United States Code?  Well, it doesn't; it's one of the many norms inherent and formerly embedded in political culture that ensure the perpetuation of a free society and the rule of law.

Are there any other examples anyone can cite of such a norm?  How about you, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California? Any thoughts?

Whoa, secret torture of helpless detainees, regardless of the, um, tortured legal justifications for it (e.g, it's not torture if the victim is not killed or permanently crippled), sure sounds like a violation of one of those norms.

Who could possibly disagree with such an obvious statement of fundamental principles of decency and due process?  Wait for it: 
Yet what the report makes clear is precisely that national security was not served by the torture and abuse, that very little useful information was derived from it. The head of the C.I.A., John O. Brennan, and other apologists for the agency are now arguing that the interrogators were “patriots,” and that the problem consisted of some officers who went “outside the bounds” of the rules.
John Brennan: “OK by me”
Yep, that same John Brennan who today is being rightly lionized for standing up to blatantly unfair mistreatment at the hands of a wannabe tyrant with nothing but contempt for civilized norms was only yesterday working tirelessly to defend CIA torturers on the grounds that they were only following orders from wannabe tyrants:
Unlike President Obama, Mr. Brennan pointedly refused to say that the methods — including waterboarding, shackling prisoners in painful positions, and locking them in coffin-like boxes — amounted to torture. 
Not only that; he made damn sure that the evidence against those sadists and butchers would never see the light of day, according to former Senator Mark Udall:

Udall accused Brennan of a “failure of leadership,” but went further, suggesting that the CIA chief is actively engaged in a cover up; that he has prevented the release of an internal classified report launched by his predecessor which Udall said corroborates much for the Senate’s findings on torture. Former CIA director Leon Panetta formed an internal review process in 2009 which resulted in the report that Udall called a “smoking gun.” Udall said that review identifies errors by the agency and differs sharply from a response Brennan provided to the committee last year in which he defended the torture program and denied wrongdoing by the agency. As such, Udall said, the Panetta Review offers evidence that Brennan and his allies may have knowingly provided inaccurate information to the committee, which he called “a serious offense.”
“The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review, and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the Committee Study and the Panetta Review leads to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” Udall said. “In other words, the CIA is lying.” (emphasis added)
John Brennan: “Just patriots doing their job.”
To those eager to canonize Brennan because of his recent criticism of the Grifter-in-Chief, exhuming the broken bodies of various unlucky detainees may seem like whataboutism: an effort to change the subject to an unrelated topic.

But is it unrelated?  The Republican culture of destroying democratic norms didn't begin in 2017; it goes back at least to the glory days of Bill Buckley's man crush, Joe McCarthy. Sometimes the American system manages to rid itself of these evildoers, like McCarthy or Nixon.

And sometimes it doesn't.  Bush Republicans stole the 2000 election by a vote of 5 to 4 and never paid a price for it.  Indeed the recount rioters now pose as concerned citizens, right, Nicolle?  Then those same Republicans lied us into needless war and engaged in grotesque tortures and war crimes, and again never paid the price, unless you count being relegated to the daytime lineup.

When outrages are buried and unpunished on spurious grounds like national security, the tears in the fabric of the Republic become normalized and accepted, both weakening America and providing a model for those who would rip new holes in it, like President U Bum.  When such subversion is overtly supported by majorities in the House and Senate, the web of norms that supports our democracy become ever more tenuous, until, as is the case today, it appears ready to collapse into threads.

Those who now properly sound the alarm about obstructing justice and accountability when a critic like John Brennan is mugged by a corrupt President might be asked where they were when justice was waterboarded at CIA black sites, and accountability frustrated by the man who now claims it as his birthright.

It turns out that the edifice of our Republic is like a Jenga tower.  Every time a piece is removed, whether by shutting down a recount in Florida in 2000 or covering up CIA torture and war crimes since their commission in 2002, the point at which it comes crashing down draws closer.

And then it's game over.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Journalism 101: Who? Racists. What, why, and how? Racism. Where? Some busto golf club in Jersey

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

The congregation of twenty white racists in downtown Washington on the anniversary of Heather Heyer's murder in Charlottesville by white racists might be a good occasion to write a think piece about white racists, whether rampaging in the streets in Washington or kicking golf balls out of the rough at some pisspoor golf course in New Jersey.

But if you're The Washington Post, it's just another occasion to dance around the 299-pound elephant in the Oval Office: the indisputable fact that President U Bum is, as amply demonstrated by his own misconduct and hate speech, a racist.

The ostensible peg for the piece was the Bigot-in-Chief's stalwart condemnation of “all forms of racism,” presented by the Post as a sincere change from U Bum's previous embrace of neo-Nazi skull-crushers.  Of course, it's nothing of the sort; it's a restatement of the white apologists' position that persons on all sides (that is, both the victims and the perpetrators of racism) are guilty of racism (a term that such white racism-deniers falsely deem to include calling out racism).

How do we know this?  Because the same day's Post tells us so, in a piece by Philip Bump:
On the surface, condemning racism in any form seems noncontroversial. Of course racism should be condemned. What makes Trump’s comments questionable, though, is that it goes out of its way to include a condemnation of “all types” of racism, instead of simply condemning “racism.” By pointedly adding “all types,” he’s implicitly raising the question of which types of racism might be overlooked unless they were included. And a natural answer to that question is perceived racism against white people.
So we shouldn't have been surprised that we also read in the same day's Post that the gaggle of loser white racists herded into a little ball by DC police for their own protection claimed their hate fest was in fact a rally for “white civil rights.”

Why not call out the Bigot-in-Chief as the racist he is?  The analysis in question carefully takes into account all factors other than the truth.  He hired Omarosa!  (And then called her a “lowlife” in a classic white racist aspersion of the moral character of a person of color.  By Tuesday she'll probably be a “thug.”*)

Also a white cracker from South Carolina who channeled his unjustifiable rage and entitlement into an effort to reverse the 1996 Presidential election on the basis of lovin' says that the Tangerine-Faced Grifter doesn't have a racist bone in his body.  Tell us more, Lindsay Graham: “Graham, who spent considerable time at Bedminster over the past week, added: “It is how you react to him. It is not the color of your skin, it is not the content of your character. It is what you say about him.””

“In an event with racial overtones . . . ”
Well, that's enough for the objective journalists at The Washington Post to conclude that the issue is in doubt.  Their effort to obfuscate the obvious is aided enormously by their failure to provide the context needed to decode the screeching whistles that his adoring white mobs understand.  The Post hacks dutifully remind us that U Bum began his campaign by announcing that Mexico was deliberating exporting his rapists and criminals to the United States, a classic racist trope enjoyed by all white folks gathered together in a lynch mob.

The piece also recalls U Bum's slurs against distinguished politicians and sports stars of color on the ground that they are stupid.  If you can't decode this classic slur as a racist attack on the supposedly inherent inferiority of black people, then we've got a bell curve to sell you, not to mention a whole bale of justifications for slavery and secession.

To white folks with even a lima bean of wit, and all persons of color, U Bum's performance indubitably marks him as a racist, but the Post hacks will go no further than to note that “Trump’s racially charged statements continued to draw backlash.”

What could the Post be so afraid of?  Failing to describe reality as it is does not make it one whit less likely that white racists and U Bum apologists will continue to rail against media that publish fact-based reporting.  We'll dare to go further and say that the failure of real journalists to call out the Grifter-in-Chief's racism provides cover for bad-faith white supremacist platforms, like Fox News, to claim credibly that if you think the Traitor-in-Chief is a racist, that's a defect in your character, to borrow Sen. Blanche duBois's formula.

In any event, it degrades journalism and public debate to pretend that there are two sides to the debate over whether Germany invaded Poland in 1939.  There's only one objective way to cover racism, whether articulated by two dozen white losers in Washington or one obese white grifter at his busto golf course, and CNN's Michelle Kosinski shows us how:
*UPDATE, August 15:  We were so close!  By Tuesday, she was a “dog.”

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Whatever happened to Condoleezza Rice? Not much.

By Henry Cabot Lodge
Diplomatic Editor

Whatever happened to Condoleezza Rice, no one has ever asked.  You may remember her as the Bush Whisperer who watched football games with clueless W. whilst his evil henchmen lied us into a bloody war in Iraq that resulted in thousands of dead and wounded Americans, not to mention hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by the surprisingly ungrateful Iraqi civilians.  You may also remember that she stood by helplessly throughout the entire pre-war process, despite the fact that she was only – [checks notes] – the National Security Adviser, charged with superintendence of all military and diplomatic business.

Anyway, to her credit, she's been largely silent since she disappeared from public life, distinguishing her from renegade Bush coatholders, apologists, and flacks who have now reinvented themselves as anti-U Bum scolds (Hi, Ana, David, Billy, Steve, Nicolle and Max!) and even the valiant few who still dispense the same creaky prevarications in an increasingly desperate attempt to prop up Weekend Bernie, or as it is more formally known, the Republican Party, like Marc.

Georgia is still on Condoleezza Rice's mind (or conscience)
But the strain of not saying dumb sh** was apparently getting to her, because she deployed her considerable skills at confabulation in today's Washington Post, to defend one of the smaller catastrophes on her watch: the abandonment of Georgia, which gave Vlad the Invader the idea that he could seize pieces of other countries with impunity.

We know that you don't give af about a little republic in the Caucasus Mountains, but as it was one of the three places in the world W. could go without fear of receiving a barrage of shoes, the Republicans were fond of it.  Vlad, who doesn't seem to regard the breakup of the former USSR as irrevocable, had snatched two pieces of it via his little green men: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  W., preoccupied with lavishing the benefits of democracy, in the form of an Iran-backed Shiite theocracy, on the surviving populace of Iraq, did nothing.

Recently Robert Kagan, one of the old Iraq war hellhounds, reminded us what happened:
Ten years ago this week, Vladimir Putin struck one of the first major blows when he sent Russian forces into South Ossetia in neighboring Georgia in support of Russian-backed separatists. The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, fearing a full-blown invasion, ordered his troops to attack, thus springing Putin’s trap. Using the Georgian attack as a pretext, Putin launched that full-blown invasion, with tens of thousands of troops, fighter aircraft and elements of the Black Sea Fleet all pre-positioned and ready to move the instant Saakashvili acted.
The five-day Russo-Georgian war was ostensibly fought over disputed territories, but Putin’s real purpose was geopolitical. Georgia, like other former Soviet satellites and republics, was seeking to integrate into the West economically and politically, and to gain Western protection from Moscow. Fearing Putin’s reaction, NATO that spring had refused to offer Georgia even a road map to membership in the alliance, but Putin moved anyway — to punish the Georgians, to warn others and to send a clear message to the West. Russia was going to reassert its hegemony by force.
The West’s response bordered on indifference. The administration of George W. Bush, which had championed Georgia’s appeal for NATO membership, wanted little to do with the crisis. . . .
Bush did not even levy sanctions. The United States provided humanitarian assistance but refused Georgian requests for military equipment. Bush let French President Nicolas Sarkozy negotiate the cease-fire, and Sarkozy . . . made a deal that left Russian troops on Georgian territory, where they remain today. Just as the British and French blamed the Czechs for provoking Hitler in the 1930s, Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blamed Saakashvili for “letting the Russians provoke him,” even while acknowledging that the attack was “premeditated.”
The recitation of this sad history (omitting the fact that with the United States hopelessly bogged down in a useless war in Iraq it had no military forces available to offer the beleaguered Georgians or threaten U Bum's BFF) was too much for the ordinarily pliant Ms. Rice.

Her pained response confirmed every point of the original column: the US had acquiesced in the Russian seizure of Georgian territory, she told Georgia that the US would not lift a single drone to protect the Georgians from Russian aggression, and the Georgians should just be glad that the Russians only wanted the Sudetenland and not the whole enchilada.

She concluded her stirring defense of Bush Administration inaction and ineptitude thusly:
We could not deter Moscow in this case. But we did act, and Georgia survived. It is still a sad story — and perhaps Putin did take the wrong lessons from it.
That's your best defense?

Fortunately the rest of us can take better lessons from it.  First, neither Ms. Rice nor any other W. henchman or Iraq warmonger should ever be allowed to take a responsible position relating to the formation and execution of US foreign policy.  Second, the next time Republicans tell you that Putin is our friend or that we should fritter away our military strength and international credibility in a war against a country that presents no real threat to the United States (like Iran), we should tell them to go paint their toes and leave international affairs to the adults.

Third, for a failed integrity-free W. minion and Iraq War prevaricator, Condoleezza Rice is a hell of a a piano player.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Why We Fight, Chapter 94,340

SHEBERGHAN, Afghanistan — The top commander of the Islamic State in northern Afghanistan stood behind a lectern decorated with the shield of the Afghan government’s powerful intelligence agency.

On his left was the police general in charge of the province. Arrayed behind him was an assortment of other dignitaries: police, army, political figures. An attendant put a bottle of mineral water nearby, in case the intense heat made the commander thirsty.

This is how the Islamic State commander, Maulavi Habib ul-Rahman, began his “imprisonment” on Thursday. Along with 250 of his fighters, Mr. Rahman had surrendered the day before to the Afghan government in the northern province of Jowzjan, to avoid being captured by the Taliban.

He thanked his hosts and, in a scolding tone, warned them to stick to the deal they had just made. “Provide us with personal security as well as stay loyal to the commitments made between us so it prepares the ground for others who fight against the government to join the peace process,” Mr. Rahman demanded from the dais. . . .

If they were prisoners, however, it was hard to tell. The government arranged for them to stay in a guesthouse in the provincial capital of Sheberghan. Guards were posted around it not to keep the insurgents in, but to keep their potential enemies out, according to the provincial governor. Although the fighters were disarmed, they were allowed to keep their cellphones and other personal possessions.

In the guesthouse, the Islamic State fighters celebrated their good fortune, hugging and slapping one another on the back. One of their commanders, Mufti Nemat, wearing a pink shalwar kameez and a knockoff of an Apple watch and holding a satellite phone, fielded calls steadily between giving interviews. . . .

Some of the police officers were angry. “Why didn’t we just let the Taliban kill them, instead of treating them like honored guests?” one officer said.

 . . . .

The dubious nature of the Islamic State surrender has proved a propaganda bonanza for the Taliban, which began an offensive with thousands of fighters about a month ago to wipe out the Islamic State group in the north. All of their fighters have now surrendered, been captured by the Taliban or been killed, according to Mr. Nemat, as well as government and Taliban spokesmen.

Much was made by the Taliban and by the government’s critics here of the mode of the Islamic State prisoners’ arrival in Sheberghan. They were ferried from the battlefield in Afghan Army helicopters, avoiding a potentially dangerous journey on the roads.

. . . .

After watching television footage of the prisoners being fed rice pilaf with meat and vegetables and bottled water, Abdul Hamid, 52, was infuriated. Along with some 10,000 other people over the past two years, he had fled Darzab to a squalid life as a displaced person in Sheberghan, where meat is an unimaginable luxury.

“We lost everything to Daesh, and now the government sends helicopters for them from Kabul and brings them here and gives them rice and meat and mineral water, and provides them with security, and we are not even able to find food,” he railed.

The governor of the province, Lutfullah Azizi, said any crimes would not be overlooked. “We welcome them if they accept Afghan law,” he said. “But those who committed crimes, if there is any documentation or proven complaint against them, they will be punished.” He added that “hundreds” of complaints had been lodged against them during their years in power.

Many of the Islamic State’s crimes are well documented in their own Facebook and WhatsApp posts, with videos of them burning opponents alive, stoning people to death, training children as fighters, and shooting bound prisoners.

They also took credit previously for the killings of six workers from the International Committee for the Red Cross last year, an atrocity that was part of the reason the Red Cross has suspended much of its operations in northern Afghanistan.

On April 15, “they beheaded a 12-year-old child on an allegation of cooperating with local police,” said Baz Mohammad Dawar, 32, also a refugee from Darzab. “They committed hundreds of crimes including raping women and girls, enslaving women, killing and beheading.

 . . . .

The New York Times, August 4, 2018

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Spy book exclusive: the wisdom of Brett Kavanaugh

Here's an exclusive excerpt [How can it be exclusive if it appeared in today's New York Times? – Ed.] from Brett Kavanaugh's long-awaited memoir, Principled Jurisprudence for Dummies: