Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Last Call For The Drums of War, Con't

The Trump regime is moving today on a major coup d'etat against Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.

President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday faced the gravest challenge to his authority since assuming power in 2013, as the leader of the U.S.-backed opposition claimed the legitimate mantle of leadership, and President Trump and other world leaders promptly recognized him as Venezuela’s interim and rightful head of state.

A defiant Maduro responded by announcing a break in “diplomatic and political relations” with the United States, and ordering American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.

The high stakes move set up a potential diplomatic crisis as Washington weighed how to respond to a demand by a leader it nows sees as illegitimate. Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader now recognized by Washington as Venezuela’s true interim ruler, called on any diplomats expelled by Maduro to remain.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that Washington is not rejecting any options, whether political, economic or even military.

“When we say all options are on the table, it means all options,” the official said

Later, Trump was pointedly asked if military force was being considered.

“We’re not considering anything but all options on the table,” he said. “All options, always, all options are on the table.”

As the international campaign against him grew, Maduro, the anointed successor of socialist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, was confronting a new protagonist in the form of Guaidó. Before a cheering throng, the 35-year-old industrial engineer and recently named head of the country’s National Assembly, took the long-awaited step of declaring himself the nation’s “president in charge.”

“We will stay on the street until Venezuela is liberated!” Guaidó told the crowd in Caracas.

The dramatic developments came as anti-Maduro protests drew hundreds of thousands of people into Venezuelan streets in what the newly re-energized opposition called a sustained campaign to drive Maduro from office. After months of mounting U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, the move by the Trump administration to immediately shift recognition to Guaidó amounted to the strongest statement so far against what it called a “disastrous dictatorship.” Yet the U.S. failed to outline its next concrete steps, other than to say all economic, political and even military options are being considered.

So while our own government is broken, we're busy plotting possible military coups against Venezuela.  Sure, that's normal.

Trump is going to torch the place before he's ever allowed to be investigated.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

BuzzFeed News isn't exactly hiding because of the controversy over last week's Cohen story, it dropped this damning Trump Tower Moscow project piece yesterday.

The plan was dazzling: a glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump’s company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.

The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.

The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion — a rough plan led by Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.

On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said “the proposal was in the earliest stage,” and he went on to tell the New Yorker that “no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.”

However, hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River

Trump had for 30 years tried to extend his real estate empire to Moscow. He even wrote about it in his book The Art of the Deal. But he never found the right opportunity — until 2013, when he visited Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next,” he tweeted after the event.

Two years later, a vision had emerged. Trump Tower Moscow was to be much more than just another upscale apartment building. It was to be a vast — and vastly lucrative — undertaking that would elevate the Russian capital’s skyline and extend the perimeter of the New York developer’s influence.

By September 2015, a New York architect had completed plans for a bold glass obelisk 100 stories high, to be topped by a gleaming, cut-diamond–like shape emblazoned on multiple sides with the Trump logo.

“The building design you sent over is very interesting,” the Russian real estate developer Andrey Rozov wrote to Cohen in September 2015, “and will be an architectural and luxury triumph. I believe the tallest building in Europe should be in Moscow, and I am prepared to build it.”

The Trump Tower Moscow project was designed to be the tallest in Europe, we knew exactly where it was to be built, on the Moscow River just 2 miles from the Kremlin itself, we know Trump signed a letter of intent to build the tower, and we know that the tower's luxury penthouse was to be a gift to Vladimir Putin himself.

So when both Rudy Giulinai and Donald Trump Jr. went on TV to lie about this and call it Cohen's project, the reality is that Trump has wanted this building for decades.

And he did everything he could to make it happen.

The Kids Are Not Alright, Con't

Jaw Willis at GQ points out that the MAGA boys at Covington Catholic knew all along they were going to get away with what they did on Friday, to the point of having Donald Trump weigh in on their defense, because systemic white privilege means never having to be sorry.

From the moment Nick Sandmann planted himself in front of Nathan Phillips, surrounded by dancing, whooping Covington Catholic students who found the elderly drummer's very existence to be at once amusing and worthy of their scorn, the only thing more inevitable than the initial outrage was the tsunami of counter-outrage directed at anyone who had the audacity to be mad that MAGA-hat-wearing teenagers would mock a Vietnam War veteran. The campaign, which laundered Sandmann's statement through the usual sequence of right-win media outlets, ended as all defenses of bigotry cloaked as even-handed appeals to civility do: with a pronouncement of judgment from the man who made his hat famous.

The speed with which Sandmann was able to marshal his posse of defenders, it seems, was not purely a product of the moral weight of his position. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, as video of the boys' leering faces raced across the Internet, Sandmann's family retained the services of RunSwitch PR, a Louisville-based media relations firm. (One of its founding partners is a longtime Republican operative, and currently serves as a conservative op-ed writer for the paper.) A spokesperson explained that the company is now "working with the family to ensure an accurate recounting of events."

None of the excuses made on behalf of these kids are capable of withstanding the slightest bit of intellectually-honest scrutiny. The presence of a few Black Israelites—a group that any resident of a major city learned long ago to ignore—has no bearing on whether it is acceptable for white kids to chant nationalist slogans at, of all people, a Native man. (Assertions to the contrary also betray a troubling tendency to conflate members of minority groups, as if all brown people are indistinguishable threats.) Nor do any of the purported "extended clips," disseminated by conservative journalists as if they were mini-Zapruder films, exonerate Sandmann and his friends. Some of them even serve as more damning indictments of the students' conduct.

Nevertheless, the Covington boys have already secured many of the hand-wringing statements of remorse they sought—especially from the pundit class, for whom enduring bad-faith accusations of "BIASED" and "FAKE NEWS" is more humiliating than kowtowing to the people who would make them. As usual, no one in America is more entitled to a presumption of innocence than white people.

Among the privileged, eliciting this sort of both-sides apologia is a tried-and-true method of evading responsibility for their actions. Also consider, though, the role of talking heads like Tucker Carlson, who reflexively crafted exculpatory narratives of their own and disseminated them to an online army of culture warriors. Consider the influence of Republican politicians, for whom defending anyone who shares their worldview—and obeying marching orders issued by the aforementioned talking heads—is now so important that their usual performative respect for troops disappeared altogether. Consider the invitations the kids have already received to visit President Trump at the White House this week, and the TODAY Show interview that will air first thing Wednesday. Consider the fact that this family was able to hire a professional crisis management team to fight this battle, and that they even knew such a thing existed in the first place.

And yes, you read this right, the consequences of their actions, thanks to the parents of this asshole immediately contacting a GOP PR firm, the payoff for being a racist sack of garbage to a Native American vet in a viral video in America in 2019 is the reward of a White house invitation and a Today Show softball interview with Savannah Guthrie.

Congrats, Generation Z.  Put on your MAGA hats and break out those Go Pro cameras and iPhones, because you're all going to be famous for white supremacy.  Just go out there and shoot and maim and harm us, because the lesson here is you'll never have to pay the piper for it.

Until, of course, the day you do.


Related Posts with Thumbnails