Thursday, March 1, 2018

Last Call For The Drums Of War, Con't

As the Mueller trap closes in on Trump, I become more and more convinced he will attempt to order a catastrophic military conflict with North Korea in order to provide the chaos he'll need to resist the consequences, because at this point the Pentagon is running wargames of military strikes on Pyongyang and the resulting troop deployments and mass casualties.

A classified military exercise last week examined how American troops would mobilize and strike if ordered into a potential war on the Korean Peninsula, even as diplomatic overtures between the North and the Trump administration continue
The war planning, known as a “tabletop exercise,” was held over several days in Hawaii. It included Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, and Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command. 
They looked at a number of pitfalls that could hamper an American assault on North Korea’s well-entrenched military. Among them was the Pentagon’s limited ability to evacuate injured troops from the Korean Peninsula daily — a problem more acute if the North retaliated with chemical weapons, according to more than a half-dozen military and Defense Department officials familiar with the exercise. 
Large numbers of surveillance aircraft would have to be moved from the Middle East and Africa to the Pacific to support ground troops. Planners also looked at how American forces stationed in South Korea and Japan would be involved.

Pentagon officials cautioned that the planning does not mean that a decision has been made to go to war over President Trump’s demands that North Korea rein in its nuclear ambitions.

Sure it hasn't, it's just readiness exercises.  No need to be alarmed, citizens!

A war with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, would be “catastrophic.” He and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have argued forcefully for using diplomacy to address Pyongyang’s nuclear program. 
Commanders who attended the exercise in Hawaii were told that roughly 10,000 Americans could be wounded in combat in the opening days alone. And the number of civilian casualties, the generals were told, would likely be in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands
The potential human costs of a war were so high that, at one point during the exercise, General Milley remarked that “the brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier,” according to officials who were involved
So, too, would be the sheer logistical enterprise of moving thousands of American soldiers and equipment to the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, senior military officials worry that after 17 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, American troops have become far more used to counterinsurgency fighting than a land war against a state, as an attack on North Korea would likely bring. 
But Mr. Mattis also has ordered top Pentagon leaders to be ready for any possible military action against North Korea. Already, ammunition has been pre-staged in the Pacific region for ground units. 
And Mr. Trump’s words — “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he said in an August post on Twitter — have left senior officers and rank-and-file troops convinced that they need to accelerate their contingency planning.

It's one thing to simply say "the Pentagon is keeping its options open" if the point was saber-rattling.  This is a very specific leak of very specific information on preparations for what would be one of the bloodiest wars in human history.

If anything I hope this leak is being made to convince Trump and the people around him that military action against North Korea will result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions of casualties.  Trump would go down as an absolute monster and the horror sinking in of the first major American war in the era of instant social media would be completely unprecedented.

Meanwhile, John Bolton's Mustache is penning op-eds in the Wall Street Journal calling for pre-preemptive strikes on North Korea.

Pre-emption opponents argue that action is not justified because Pyongyang does not constitute an “imminent threat.” They are wrong. The threat is imminent, and the case against pre-emption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times. Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute. That would risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation. 
In assessing the timing of pre-emptive attacks, the classic formulation is Daniel Webster’s test of “necessity.” British forces in 1837 invaded U.S. territory to destroy the steamboat Caroline, which Canadian rebels had used to transport weapons into Ontario. 
Webster asserted that Britain failed to show that “the necessity of self-defense was instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” Pre-emption opponents would argue that Britain should have waited until the Caroline reached Canada before attacking.

Would an American strike today against North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program violate Webster’s necessity test? Clearly not. Necessity in the nuclear and ballistic-missile age is simply different than in the age of steam. What was once remote is now, as a practical matter, near; what was previously time-consuming to deliver can now arrive in minutes; and the level of destructiveness of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is infinitely greater than that of the steamship Caroline’s weapons cargo.

Those drums of war are getting extremely loud now.  It may be only a matter of time.  Exactly who would alter Trump's course on this?  Where's Defense Secretary Mattis?

Why, Mad Dog is busy clearing the decks and removing the people who might stop Trump's war.. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is now leaving this mess behind and not of his own volition.

The White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser as early as next month in a move orchestrated by chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to five people familiar with the discussions. 
The move would be the latest in a long string of staff shakeups at the White House over the past year and comes after months of strained relations between the president and McMaster. 
A leading candidate to become President Donald Trump’s third national security adviser is the auto industry executive Stephen Biegun, according to the officials.

Whoever they are, I hope they save us, but it's not looking good.  Bolton's Mustache is also reportedly in the running for McMaster's job, and if that happens, the odds of a military conflict with North Korea moves well above 50%.

Millions will die, and that's just the opening few stanzas of this blood-soaked epic.  It's a race now between Mueller and the military.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Robert Mueller continues to be a very busy man in 2018 as his investigation of the Trump regime reaches critical mass.  We're getting almost daily stories now of Mueller's activities both hitting the pavement to interview witnesses and in the courtroom cutting plea deals with Trump's possible co-conspirators in exchange for cooperation.  

This week is no different at Team Mueller is now looking at Trump's efforts to possibly obstruct justice by trying to get rid of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was under attack by Trump on Twitter again in the last few days.  The Washington Post confirms this:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been investigating a period of time last summer when President Trump seemed determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job, according to people familiar with the matter who said that a key area of interest for the inquiry is whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.

In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in detail about Trump’s private comments and state of mind in late July and early August of last year, around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his “beleaguered” attorney general, these people said. The thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president’s goal was to oust Sessions in order to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during the 2016 election, these people said.

The issue of Sessions’s tortured relationship with the president reared up again Wednesday morning when the president tweeted: “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. ... Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”

Sessions usually opts not to respond to such criticism, but in this case he did. Trump’s criticism faulted the attorney general for not more aggressively pursuing claims that the FBI and Justice Department may have misled a foreign surveillance court on a politically sensitive case in the waning days of the Obama administration. Sessions insisted in his statement that he had reacted appropriately by referring the matter to the department’s inspector general for a possible review of how the surveillance case was handled.

“As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution,’’ Sessions said in the statement.

It’s no secret in Washington that the relationship between the president and the attorney general has been badly broken for months. The president has repeatedly issued public broadsides, calling Sessions “weak” or criticizing his leadership of the Justice Department, despite the attorney general’s frequent proclamations of devotion to Trump’s agenda on immigration and crime.

Again, this is confirmation that Mueller is looking directly into obstruction of justice by Trump himself.  We've long suspected that facet to the probe, but this is the first time that such a leak is coming from Team Mueller, who has been famously tight-lipped about what they're up to.

They still are when it comes to specifics, the Rick Gates plea deal is a great example of that, but these more general leaks confirming what at this point are open secrets is a new tactic for Team Mueller, and I think it's an effort to bring pressure against Trump's inner circle.

Speaking of Trump's inner circle, it's coming apart at the seams.  Jared Kushner lost his top secret security clearance along with more than two dozen other White House aides. That's bad enough for Kushner, but today there's a new bombshell with his name on it as The New York Times lets us know that Jared is in dire legal trouble right now for the quid pro quo game.

Early last year, a private equity billionaire started paying regular visits to the White House.

Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo Global Management, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy. During that period, he met on multiple occasions with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said three people familiar with the meetings. Among other things, the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris.

The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies. The loan was to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.

It was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received last year. An even larger loan came from Citigroup, which lent the firm and one of its partners $325 million to help finance a group of office buildings in Brooklyn.

That loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Mr. Kushner met in the White House with Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat, according to people briefed on the meeting. The two men talked about financial and trade policy and did not discuss Mr. Kushner’s family business, one person said.

There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business, say government ethics experts.

“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” said Don Fox, the former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration and, before that, a lawyer for the Air Force and Navy during Republican and Democratic administrations. “The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”

Jared Kushner is going to jail for a long time, guys.  If Mueller doesn't get him, NY AG Eric Schniederman will, and the state charges from New York won't be something Trump can pardon.

Oh, and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is now leaving, the announcement coming a day after she apparently admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she lied for Trump.

Hope Hicks, President Trump’s communications director and one of his longest-serving advisers, said Wednesday that she planned to leave the White House in the next few weeks.

Ms. Hicks, 29, a former model who joined Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign without any experience in politics, became known as one of the few aides who understood Mr. Trump’s personality and style and could challenge the president to change his views.

Her title belied the extent of her power within the West Wing — after John F. Kelly was appointed White House chief of staff, she had more access to the Oval Office than almost any other staff member. Her own office, which she inherited after the departure of another Trump confidant, Keith Schiller, was just next door.

Most significantly, Mr. Trump felt a more personal comfort with Ms. Hicks than he has established with almost any of his other, newer advisers since coming to Washington. And for a politician who relies so heavily on what is familiar to him, her absence could be jarring.

Ms. Hicks said that she had “no words” to express her gratitude to the president, who responded with his own statement.

“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” Mr. Trump said. “She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side, but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”

Her resignation came a day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee, telling the panel that in her job, she had occasionally been required to tell white lies but had never lied about anything connected to the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Telling Congress that you lied for your boss is pretty much the end of your career, just so you know.  Trump apparently blew up at Hicks upon finding that out, and now she's leaving.

The president got angry at Hicks after learning she made the revelation Tuesday to the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election, a Trump ally told CNN.

A livid Trump demanded to know “how she could be that stupid” to admit she lies for the president, the report said.

Hicks, who has been by Trump’s side since the start of his presidential campaign, then suddenly announced Wednesday she would resign.

For a guy who always prattles on about loyalty, the second your liability to Trump exceeds your usefulness, he cuts you to shreds and leaves you to bleed to death while he walks away.  No three people outside his immediate family have been closer to Trump than Kushner, Hicks, and Sessions.

Hicks is gone.  Kushner has been demoted to cabana boy and is in legal trouble so deep that he can't see the bottom.  Sessions is only still around because he knows where the bodies are buried and he controls the DoJ, but even Trump has his limits on that.

The Trump regime is now self-destructing in real time, and when it finally blows, it will be epic.

The Dustbin Of History (Class)

If you're still shocked at the way slavery is being taught in schools in America in 2018 and wondering why and how the basic tenets of the more awful parts of America's history are being whitewashed by schools, keep in mind we're getting to the point where even teaching the history of black America in school is now "controversial".

In a February YouGov/Economist Poll, 85 percent of African Americans and 32 percent of whites said that there’s not enough black history in our schools. This large racial divide isn’t surprising. The last time that major polling firms asked about teaching black history, two polls in 2000 showed that African Americans were over 40 points more likely than whites to want more black history taught in schools.

In the February poll, Democrats and Republicans were miles apart: 67 percent of Democrats thought our schools should be teaching more black history, compared with just 10 percent of Republicans. This divide, unlike the racial divide, is more recent. The left graph below shows that in 2000, Democrats and Republicans were about 20 points apart. The partisan divide is now 57 points.

Goddamn Republicans are going to gaslight this and future generations if they have their way.

"What's the point of teaching something that doesn't exist, right?"


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