November 13, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:50 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:46 PM


Erdogan says he returned Trump's threatening letter on Syria invasion (ABBEY MARSHALL, 11/13/2019, pOLITICO)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey dismissed questions on Wednesday about why he ignored President Donald Trump's written demands to call off his invasion of northern Syria, saying he returned the letter to Trump.

"This letter was re-presented to Mr. President this afternoon," Erdogan said in a joint news conference alongside Trump at the White House.

Posted by orrinj at 6:21 PM


Trump aides retaliated against State staffer of Iranian descent, probe finds (NAHAL TOOSI, 11/13/2019, Politico)

President Donald Trump's political appointees inappropriately retaliated against a career civil servant at the State Department in part because of her ethnic background, her perceived political views, and the fact that she was in government during prior administrations, a federal watchdog says.

In a report to be released publicly later this week, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick recommends that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consider disciplining officials found to have violated policies that require they use merit-based factors in determining where to place career staffers.

That is his Iran policy: hate.

Posted by orrinj at 6:17 PM


AJC POLL: Trump faces tough re-election fight in Georgia (Greg Bluestein & Tia Mitchell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A majority of Georgians disapprove of President Donald Trump's performance in the White House and he appears to be facing a hard fight against each of the five top Democratic candidates seeking to replace him, according to an exclusive Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

In head-to-head matchups, former Vice President Joe Biden ran strongest against Trump, leading the president 51% to 43%, fueled by solid support from women and independents. Other matchups against South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are much tighter.[...]

The poll also suggests that Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive, could face a tight race. In a contest against an unnamed Democratic opponent, about 35% of voters back Perdue, including about three-quarters of Republicans. One-fifth of voters will back the Democrat.

Posted by orrinj at 5:08 PM


How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40 Percent in 10 Years (ROBINSON MEYER, 11/13/19, The Atlantic)

Last week, a study from economists at Columbia University found that the tax plan with the most support in Congress would slash American carbon pollution by almost 40 percent within a decade. It would outperform any Obama-era climate policy and go well beyond the United States' 2015 commitment under the Paris Agreement. [...]

The new study--which Columbia conducted along with the Rhodium Group, an energy-research firm--finds no stingrays. If the EICDA passes next year, it would cut American carbon emissions by at least 36 percent by 2030 as compared with their all-time high. It would also slash toxic air pollution and save most Americans money.

The bill is "a very aggressive, climate-hawk version of a carbon tax," Noah Kaufman, an economist at Columbia University and an author of the study, told me. In the bill's first year, it imposes a price of $15 on every ton of carbon pollution. That fee then rises by at least $10 a year--except in years when pollution does not decrease fast enough, in which case the fee would increase by $15. By 2030, the United States could see a carbon price in excess of $100 a ton, adding at least 90 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

Posted by orrinj at 5:03 PM


Rep. Paul Gosar's Cryptic Tweets Spell Out 'Epstein Didn't Kill Himself' (JAKE MERCIER, November 13, 2019, Daily Caller)

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted out a cryptic series of impeachment-related tweets on Wednesday afternoon, but some noticed that they each starting with letters spelling out the phrase "Epstein Didn't Kill Himself."

Posted by orrinj at 12:45 PM


Justice Department withdraws secrecy argument on McCabe files (JOSH GERSTEIN, 11/13/2019, Politico)

In a brief court filing Wednesday, Justice Department attorneys said they were no longer arguing that public release of records about McCabe would interfere with an ongoing enforcement action. That claim is typically used to withhold records about ongoing investigations or prosecutions.

All that's left is to reinstate his pension.

Posted by orrinj at 12:25 PM


Like Dr. Frankenstein, Republicans Now Face the Monster They Created: A family quarrel breaks out on the right as Neo-Nazis have started heckling Republicans for not being Trumpian enough. (Jeet Heer, 11/13/19, The Nation)

The protestors call themselves the "groyper army," an allusion to the alt-right's appropriation of the cartoon character Pepe the Frog. They often wear MAGA-hats and profess to love Donald Trump while also worrying that his administration has been watered down by moderates. Like many far-right formations, the groyper army is a decentralized social network. Under the instruction of the far-right anti-Semitic radio host Nick Fuentes, the groyper army has taken to protesting events led by Republican groups like Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and leading right-wing luminaries like Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, Jonah Goldberg, and Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw. [...]

At some conservative events, the groyper army can make up as much as a third of the audience. They love badgering Republicans for being insufficiently homophobic, anti-Semitic, or racist. After one Turning Point USA event, a conservative attendee told Vox reporter Jane Coaston, "I did not know there were this many racists out there."

Coaston sees the groyper army as offering an existential choice for the American right. "Basically, there are two paths," Coaston argues. She contrasts Dan Crenshaw with Nick Fuentes. Crenshaw stands for a Republican Party that is inclusive, while Fuentes wants a party that is restricted white Christian heterosexuals.

But to see this as a divide over "two paths" is to vastly overstate the differences between the groyper army and Trumpian Republicans. It's more accurate to see them as two branches of the same tree, both rooted in racism and authoritarianism.

Or to use a more dramatic metaphor, the Trumpian GOP is enacting the story of Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein (1818). Like Victor Frankenstein, the Trumpists have brought to life a monster, the alt-right. Now that monster is turning on its creator.

The overlap between the Trumpian right and the groyper army can be seen in the simple fact that this March a chapter of Turning Points USA invited Nick Fuentes to speak at the University of Iowa. Beyond this incident, Turning Points USA itself has been rife with bigotry. The New Yorker reported in December of 2017 that Crystal Clanton, while working as TPUSA's national field director, texted a fellow employee saying, "i hate black people. Like f[***] them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story."

Clayton was replaced by Shialee Grooman and Troy Meeker. As Huffington Post reported in April 2018, both had a history of making racist comments as well, including use of the n-word. Huffington Post also quoted a source as saying that TPUSA Midwest regional manager Timon Prax "used the n-word with the hard R nonstop, made fun of black people and referred to them as slaves and made fun of the mentally disabled."

Sounds like a cabinet meeting.

Posted by orrinj at 12:22 PM


Trump and Sondland were overheard discussing 'the investigations,' U.S. diplomat William Taylor testifies (Brendan Morrow, 11/13/18, The Week)

Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified before the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday as part of the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, which is examining whether the president improperly pressured Ukraine to open investigations that might help him in the 2020 election. The inquiry was opened following a whistleblower complaint sparked by Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president, during which he pushed for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

Taylor in his Wednesday testimony revealed that on July 26, the day after this call, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland called Trump over the phone at a restaurant in the presence of Taylor's staff, and Trump could be overheard asking about "the investigations." Sondland told the president Ukraine was ready to move forward with them and then told a Taylor staffer that Trump "cares more about the investigations of Biden," according to the testimony.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Peace Is Possible in Yemen: Out of a Moment of Crisis, a Chance for a Solution (April Longley Alley and Peter Salisbury November 11, 2019, Foreign Affairs)

Less than two months ago, Yemen's civil war threatened to engulf the broader Middle East. The stalemate between Iranian-supported Houthi rebels and forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition had already killed an estimated 100,000 people and spawned what the United Nations considered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. If that wasn't bad enough, a split in August within the fragile anti-Houthi alliance risked igniting a civil war within a civil war. And an attack claimed by the Houthis on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in September provoked threats of retaliation against Iran by Riyadh and Washington. Both within Yemen's borders and in the wider region, further bloodshed seemed inevitable.

Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, these flare-ups appear to have opened a pathway to peace. On November 5, the chief rivals within the anti-Houthi bloc--the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC)--signed a power-sharing deal known as the Riyadh agreement. The deal was brokered by Saudi Arabia, which took parallel steps to ease its own cross-border conflict with the Houthis, expanding dialogue with the rebels and limiting air strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have halted all attacks on Saudi Arabia, and a broader Saudi-Houthi de-escalation initiative is now reportedly being discussed. If both the Riyadh agreement and the Saudi-Houthi initiative survive, and UN mediators are able to weave them into a single negotiation track, a national political settlement could be possible.

Every step of the WoT has aided our Shi'a allies.  Iranian missiles have enabled the Houthi to realize American ideals.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Problem With Diamonds Is They Keep Getting Cheaper: Americans are buying more diamond jewelry than ever before, but prices for most polished gems are falling. (Thomas Biesheuvel, November 13, 2019, Bloomberg)

Five years ago, the diamond industry's biggest worry was being forgotten by millennials, who -- the theory went -- didn't covet sparkly gems the way their parents had.

The concern turned out to be mostly unfounded, but the reality is almost worse. While Americans are buying more diamond jewelry than ever before, most polished diamonds are getting steadily cheaper. The lower prices and a glut of the type of stones that go into a discount-store engagement ring or pair of earrings have pushed the global diamond trade into crisis.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Inside the White Supremacist Group Hiding in Plain Sight: They are racist; some have guns. Patriot Front is one of the most active white supremacist group in the nation. (FRITZ ZIMMERMANN & CAROL SCHAEFFER, 11/13/19, Pro Publica)

In the hours after the slaughter in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, a final toll emerged: 22 dead, most of them Latinos, some Mexican nationals. A portrait of the gunman accused of killing them soon took shape: a 21-year-old from a suburb of Dallas who had been radicalized as a white supremacist online and who saw immigrants as a threat to the future of white America.

While much of the country reacted with a weary sense of sorrow and outrage, word of the mass killing was processed differently by members of Patriot Front, one of the more prominent white supremacist groups in the U.S.

In secret chat forums, some Patriot Front members embraced the spirit of the anti-immigrant manifesto left behind by the accused gunman. Others floated false conspiracy theories: the CIA was behind the murders; the accused killer was actually Jewish. Still other members cautioned that the group had its own "loose cannons" to worry about. It would be a bad look if the next mass murderer was one of their own.

But there was little, if any, regret over the loss of life.

"It shouldn't be hard to believe that the group facing the harshest oppression from our ruling elite are producing shooters," one Patriot Front member wrote. "White men are being slowly destroyed in a way calculated to produce resentment and a sense of helplessness. Of course, some of them decide to lash out."

Several Patriot Front members alerted others to the need to be careful, for the killings in El Paso would likely make the group a target of the FBI.

"Watch your backs out there," one wrote.

Patriot Front was formed in the aftermath of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. While many on America's far-right cheered the rally, its violence struck others as a public-relations debacle for the white nationalist brand that was sure to attract greater oversight by law enforcement.

Patriot Front aspired to help chart a new way forward: spread propaganda espousing its version of a nascent American fascism; quietly recruit new members worried about a nation overrun by immigrants and a world controlled by Jews; avoid talking about guns or violence online, but engage in a mix of vandalism and intimidation to foster anxiety; wear masks in public and communicate secretly.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Stephen Miller's Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails (Michael Edison Hayden, 11/12/19, Hatewatch)

In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.

The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump's presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General said is causing "intense trauma" in children.

In this, the first of what will be a series about those emails, Hatewatch exposes the racist source material that has influenced Miller's visions of policy. That source material, as laid out in his emails to Breitbart, includes white nationalist websites, a "white genocide"-themed novel in which Indian men rape white women, xenophobic conspiracy theories and eugenics-era immigration laws that Adolf Hitler lauded in "Mein Kampf."

Hatewatch reviewed more than 900 previously private emails Miller sent to Breitbart editors from March 4, 2015, to June 27, 2016. Miller does not converse along a wide range of topics in the emails. His focus is strikingly narrow - more than 80 percent of the emails Hatewatch reviewed relate to or appear on threads relating to the subjects of race or immigration. Hatewatch made multiple attempts to reach the White House for a comment from Miller about the content of his emails but did not receive any reply.

Miller's perspective on race and immigration across the emails is repetitious. When discussing crime, which he does scores of times, Miller focuses on offenses committed by nonwhites. On immigration, he touches solely on the perspective of severely limiting or ending nonwhite immigration to the United States. Hatewatch was unable to find any examples of Miller writing sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who is nonwhite or foreign-born.

This is the core of Trumpism that keeps his bots on board, no matter his crimes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest (Stephanie Ruhle and Carol E. Lee, 11/12/19, NBC News)

Bolton told the gathering of Morgan Stanley's largest hedge fund clients that he was most frustrated with Trump over his handling of Turkey, people who were present said. Noting the broad bipartisan support in Congress to sanction Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan purchased a Russian missile defense system, Bolton said Trump's resistance to the move was unreasonable, four people present for his speech said.

Bolton said he believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump's position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue, the people present said.

The Trump Organization has a property in Istanbul, and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump attended the opening with Erdogan in 2012. Though it's a leasing agreement for use of the Trump name, Trump himself said in a 2015 interview that the arrangement presented "a little conflict of interest" should he be elected.

During an Oct. 6 phone call with Erdogan, Trump agreed to pull back U.S. troops from northeast Syria so Turkish forces could launch an attack against America's Kurdish allies in the area. The presence of U.S. forces had deterred Erdogan from invading Syria, which he had threatened to do for years. Trump's decision, followed by an order for all U.S. troops to exit Syria, was widely criticized even among the president's Republican allies and was seen by many as a gift to the Turkish leader.

Erdogan is set to visit the White House on Wednesday.

Like other former Trump advisers, Bolton said regardless of how much evidence is provided to Trump that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the president refuses to take any action because he views any move against Moscow as giving credence to the notion that his election is invalid, the people present for Bolton's remarks said.

At one point in his closed-door remarks, Bolton was asked what he thinks will happen in January 2021 if Trump is re-elected, people present for his remarks said. Bolton responded by taking a swipe at Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump -- both of whom are senior White House advisers -- and at Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., three people familiar with his remarks said.

Bolton said Trump could go full isolationist -- with the faction of the Republican Party that aligns with Paul's foreign policy views taking over the GOP -- and could withdraw the U.S. from NATO and other international alliances, three people present for his remarks said.

He also suggested that Kushner and Ivanka Trump could convince the president to rewrite his legacy and nominate a liberal like Lawrence Tribe -- a Harvard Law professor who has questioned Trump's fitness for office and was a legal adviser to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign -- to the Supreme Court, the people present for Bolton's speech said.

How did Team Trump think hiring a neocon was going to work out?

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Joe Arpaio's Surprising Legacy in Arizona: Not long ago, the state was known for its harsh immigration laws. But a new crop of Latino activists emerged in response--and now they're catapulting themselves into elected office. (FERNANDA SANTOS November 10, 2019, Politico)

In the City Council chambers here, a squat, round room that evokes the traditional Navajo home known as a "hogan," Carlos Garcia is easy to spot. His chestnut hair, long and limp, is perennially fastened in a ponytail that hangs like a string halfway down his back. His feet are shielded by a pair of weathered sneakers. One afternoon last month, he showed up for work clad in a black golf-style shirt--"That's the most dressed up you're going to see me," he quipped--with the words "City of Phoenix Councilman Carlos Garcia" embroidered over his heart.

Garcia joined the council in March, but his style remains as casual as it was during his time protesting a mother's impending deportation in front of the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in 2017, or chanting into a bullhorn outside the federal courthouse where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stood trial that same year, accused of racially profiling Latinos.

"One of my elders a long time ago told me, 'If you're going to be a public servant, you have to be ready when you wake up in the morning to meet with the governor and to go talk to a jornalero," Garcia says, using the Spanish word for day laborer. The elder challenged him to use the way he dresses to telegraph who he really cares for--"Is it your priority," the elder asked, "that you dress up to impress the governor?"

"My priority is to make sure people feel comfortable with me," Garcia says.

By "people," he means the people of color who for years have stood as targets of the politics of Arpaio and Jan Brewer, the former Republican governor of Arizona. Arpaio, perhaps Arizona's most nationally famous politician, rode to fame in the 1990s with his draconian jail policies and then into President Donald Trump's favor with his tough anti-immigrant posture. Brewer, as governor, in 2010 signed into law the nation's toughest immigration bill, SB 1070, powering up the "attrition through enforcement" strategy championed by some on the right to drive illegal immigrants out of the United States.

Nearly 10 years later, Garcia is part of a new wave of Latino politicians in Arizona who have entered politics in response to those policies--a legacy that Arpaio and Brewer likely did not expect. In a state that once compelled police officers to ask about the citizenship status of the people they pulled over and barred undocumented immigrants from getting driver's licenses and paying in-state tuition at public universities, a growing number of Latino activists are using the lessons they learned in organizing against the immigration crackdown to catapult themselves into elected state and local office.

The Great Replacement can't happen fast enough.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What Roger Stone's trial revealed about Donald Trump and WikiLeaks (DARREN SAMUELSOHN and JOSH GERSTEIN, 11/12/2019, Politico)

Buried amid days of blasphemy and bombast were quieter new details that collectively showed Trump and his aides discussed WikiLeaks with Stone months earlier than anyone has acknowledged. The revelations have immediately raised questions about Trump's claims -- made months later under oath to the special counsel -- that he did not recall any such conversations with Stone.

According to direct testimony and dozens of email and text messages introduced over the last week, the Trump campaign got its first heads up about Julian Assange's ability to upend U.S. politics as far back as April 2016. The timing is months earlier than any Trump aide has previously described, and months before WikiLeaks published its first cache of damaging materials that would go on to cripple Hillary Clinton's White House bid.

Additionally, a wider cast of Trump aides participated in WikiLeaks strategy sessions than previously known as they mapped out an attack plan to take advantage of the hacked Democratic emails. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, campaign CEO Steve Bannon and senior adviser Stephen Miller were all part of those broader discussions about how to best turn the WikiLeaks surprises into political gold.

Perhaps most politically damning, Trump himself discussed the matter with Stone during a phone call in the heat of the summertime general election campaign, according to testimony from former-Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, who witnessed the call while riding with the GOP nominee from his namesake tower in Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport. While the testimony might not put Trump in any fresh legal peril, it has highlighted a potential contradiction in Trump's written responses to Mueller's team.

"I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign," Trump wrote.

Of course, Mueller and his Justice Department supervisors had their reasons for holding back on the public release of so much WikiLeaks-related information before the Stone trial, which didn't start until more than six months after the conclusion of the special counsel's Russia probe. Namely, they didn't want to damage the government's case against the longtime GOP operative, meaning any references to their evidence were blacked out in the final Russia report.

As the report says, impeach him and then indict him.