Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Last Call For The Drums of War, Con't

The Venezuela problem has not gone away, despite Putin stepping in to prop up President Nicolas Maduro. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Putin was now running the timetable in Caracas, and that Trump would agree to whatever plan Putin came up with for the country.  

What's Trump going to do, exactly?  At this point Trump has trashed NATO so hard that they're not going to lift a finger to help the US in Caracas.  No, Putin is holding all the cards here, and all of them have Donald Trump's big dumb orange face on them.

No, I was dead wrong about Trump and John Bolton invading Venezuela. I freely admit that.  That ship has sailed.

But brother, the reality is going to be much worse. 

Today we saw the beginning of that plan in action as opposition leader Juan Guiado all but declared a coup and the "final phase" of the uprising against Maduro.

Violent clashes erupted across Venezuela on Tuesday after opposition leader Juan Guaidó launched what appeared to be a military-backed challenge to President Nicolás Maduro, summoning thousands of people to the streets to demonstrate against the socialist leader.

It was a high-risk gamble for Guaidó, the leader of the National Assembly who declared himself interim president in January. And by late Tuesday, it was unclear whether it would succeed.

Dozens of people were injured by rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition in melees across Venezuela, according to local observers and hospital officials. An armored vehicle ran into a cluster of Guaidó supporters. A group of hooded men in a pro-government militia — the feared colectivos — fired live ammunition into a crowd of protesters, witnesses said. And a colonel loyal to Maduro was shot in the neck, the defense minister said, but the extent of his injuries was unclear.

President Trump accused Cuban “troops and militia” of conducting military operations in Venezuela to cause “death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela.” If the alleged activities didn’t immediately stop, Trump tweeted, his administration would impose a “full and complete embargo, together with the highest-level sanctions” on Cuba.

There were protests across the nation, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Conflicts, with violent clashes in at least five states. At least 25 people were detained Tuesday, according to Foro Penal, a local organization that tracks political detentions.

Guaidó opened the day with a surprise appearance at a military base in eastern Caracas, where he was surrounded by armed men in military uniforms. He urged other troops to join what he called the final stage of “Operation Liberty” to force Maduro from power.

“People of Venezuela, the end of usurpation has arrived,” Guaidó said. “At this moment, I am with the main military units of our armed forces, starting the final phase of Operation Liberty. People of Venezuela, we will go to the street with the armed forces to continue taking the streets until we consolidate the end of usurpation, which is already irreversible.”

Two observations: First, The Zandar Coup Rule finds Maduro with zero for five.  It's all a puppet show, and Putin is pulling both Trump and Guaido's strings.

Second, now, where did Cuba come into all this?  It's not Cuban troops that in Venezuela, it's Russian troops.  But Russia has to be the bad guy somehow, right?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed Tuesday that embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro was preparing to leave the country for Cuba, but was talked out of it by Russia. 
"We've watched throughout the day, it's been a long time since anyone's seen Maduro," Pompeo said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." 
"He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it and the Russians indicated he should stay." 
"He was headed for Havana," Pompeo said.

All this is very interesting.  We're seeing the opening act of a Broadway play here for American consumption.  Putin knows Trump needs a major distraction to save him from House Democrats, and Putin has to help out his puppet.  The result: a coup made for TV.

Stay tuned, true believers.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Joe Biden is correct when he says that if the Trump regime doesn't cooperate with House Democratic investigations of the issues raised in the Mueller report then impeachment proceedings have to begin.

Former vice president Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said that the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III left several unanswered questions related to whether Trump obstructed the nearly two-year probe, and he argued that Congress should follow up.

“What the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that,” Biden said. “And if in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative to go to the only other constitutional resort they have: impeachment.

“My job in the meantime is to make sure he’s not back as president of the United States of America,” added Biden, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week.

Biden’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview in which he also continued to grapple with controversies over his affectionate, physical style with women and his handling of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s 1991 Senate confirmation hearing. He also declined to say whether he would pick a woman as his running mate.

Frustration has been building among House Democrats as the Trump administration refuses to cooperate with an array of congressional inquiries, including several related to the Russia report. Attorney General William P. Barr has threatened not to show up at a scheduled Thursday hearing in the House to address how he handled Mueller’s findings.

Biden continues to have his own baggage: his failure on Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, his stance on the Clinton crime bill, an obnoxious tendency towards bipartisanship with a party of traitors and thieves, and a lifetime of Senate votes that are difficult (if not utterly impossible) to defend in 2019. Regardless, he's the front-runner right now.  Until he's not.

But he's right on this one.  Democrats have to call Trump's bluff on stonewalling, or he immediately wins by default.  The problem is I don't think Democrats are ready to go to the mattresses on this.  They'd better be: it's becoming painfully clear that the only way to compel Trump regime lackeys to testify is to impeach.

We'll see if they do, but Trump has already made it clear that he expects to win on this, and history says that he probably will.

Dirty Deeds Done Relatively Inexpensively Online

Expect another year plus of rotten fake news like this as Republican sleazebags invent misinformation to destroy Democratic candidates for 2020.

A pair of right-wing provocateurs are being accused of attempting to recruit young Republican men to level false allegations of sexual assault against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later on a Facebook page appearing to belong to the man.

A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.

The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.

But the source provided The Daily Beast with a surreptitious audio recording of the meeting, which corroborates his account. In it, Wohl appears to refer to Buttigieg as a “terminal threat” to President Donald Trump’s reelection next year.

Neither Burkman nor Wohl responded to repeated requests for comment on this story. But after The Daily Beast contacted them last week, traces of the scheme disappeared from the web and social media.

And of course, right-wing sites immediately ran the fake news as real.  Jacob Wohl is performing criminal acts here, and the Buttigieg campaign should sue at the minimum.

But a lot more of this is coming, and it won't be just garden-variety social media hucksters like Wohl, but calculated Russian disinformation ops designed to wreck any semblance of trust in the media.

2020's big lies and criminal collusion will make 2016 look like a cookout.


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