Saturday, March 18, 2023

Last Call For The Original October Surprise

With former President Jimmy Carter receiving palliative care at home at age 98, a long-time GOP political operator has come forward to confirm that Reagan's campaign sabotaged Carter's Iran hostage rescue efforts on purpose to win the 1980 election.
It has been more than four decades, but Ben Barnes said he remembers it vividly. His longtime political mentor invited him on a mission to the Middle East. What Mr. Barnes said he did not realize until later was the real purpose of the mission: to sabotage the re-election campaign of the president of the United States.

It was 1980 and Jimmy Carter was in the White House, bedeviled by a hostage crisis in Iran that had paralyzed his presidency and hampered his effort to win a second term. Mr. Carter’s best chance for victory was to free the 52 Americans held captive before Election Day. That was something that Mr. Barnes said his mentor was determined to prevent.

His mentor was John B. Connally Jr., a titan of American politics and former Texas governor who had served three presidents and just lost his own bid for the White House. A former Democrat, Mr. Connally had sought the Republican nomination in 1980 only to be swamped by former Gov. Ronald Reagan of California. Now Mr. Connally resolved to help Mr. Reagan beat Mr. Carter and in the process, Mr. Barnes said, make his own case for becoming secretary of state or defense in a new administration.

What happened next Mr. Barnes has largely kept secret for nearly 43 years. Mr. Connally, he said, took him to one Middle Eastern capital after another that summer, meeting with a host of regional leaders to deliver a blunt message to be passed to Iran: Don’t release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.

Then shortly after returning home, Mr. Barnes said, Mr. Connally reported to William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan’s campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefing him about the trip in an airport lounge.

Mr. Carter’s camp has long suspected that Mr. Casey or someone else in Mr. Reagan’s orbit sought to secretly torpedo efforts to liberate the hostages before the election, and books have been written on what came to be called the October surprise. But congressional investigations debunked previous theories of what happened.

Mr. Connally did not figure in those investigations. His involvement, as described by Mr. Barnes, adds a new understanding to what may have happened in that hard-fought, pivotal election year. With Mr. Carter now 98 and in hospice care, Mr. Barnes said he felt compelled to come forward to correct the record.

“History needs to know that this happened,” Mr. Barnes, who turns 85 next month, said in one of several interviews, his first with a news organization about the episode. “I think it’s so significant and I guess knowing that the end is near for President Carter put it on my mind more and more and more. I just feel like we’ve got to get it down some way.”

Mr. Barnes is no shady foreign arms dealer with questionable credibility, like some of the characters who fueled previous iterations of the October surprise theory. He was once one of the most prominent figures in Texas, the youngest speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and later lieutenant governor. He was such an influential figure that he helped a young George W. Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard rather than be exposed to the draft and sent to Vietnam. Lyndon B. Johnson predicted that Mr. Barnes would become president someday.

Confirming Mr. Barnes’s account is problematic after so much time. Mr. Connally, Mr. Casey and other central figures have long since died and Mr. Barnes has no diaries or memos to corroborate his account. But he has no obvious reason to make up the story and indeed expressed trepidation at going public because of the reaction of fellow Democrats.

Mr. Barnes identified four living people he said he had confided in over the years: Mark K. Updegrove, president of the L.B.J. Foundation; Tom Johnson, a former aide to Lyndon Johnson (no relation) who later became publisher of the Los Angeles Times and president of CNN; Larry Temple, a former aide to Mr. Connally and Lyndon Johnson; and H.W. Brands, a University of Texas historian.

All four of them confirmed in recent days that Mr. Barnes shared the story with them years ago. “As far as I know, Ben never has lied to me,” Tom Johnson said, a sentiment the others echoed. Mr. Brands included three paragraphs about Mr. Barnes’s recollections in a 2015 biography of Mr. Reagan, but the account generated little public notice at the time.
Records at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum confirm part of Mr. Barnes’s story. An itinerary found this past week in Mr. Connally’s files indicated that he did, in fact, leave Houston on July 18, 1980, for a trip that would take him to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel before returning to Houston on Aug. 11. Mr. Barnes was listed as accompanying him.
Holy shit.
The original, old-school October Surprise really was a Reagan dirty trick designed to sabotage a sitting president's re-election campaign and it worked, and they basically got away with it for my entire lifetime, and the only reason we know what we know now is that Jimmy Carter is facing his final days and the guilt was too much for one of the assholes to bear.
We all knew it was, the Iranians released the hostages literally minutes after Reagan was sworn in on January 20, 1981.

And yet when I told Zandardad about this, a man who was proud to vote for Carter then and met him in person years later, he said little would come of this, and that he'd still prefer Reagan to the current GOP.

God help me, he's not wrong.

The Road To Gilead Goes Through The Mountain West

Wyoming has become the first state to ban abortion medication, even though the state doesn't have a ban on abortion itself.
Wyoming on Friday became the first state to ban the use of pills for abortion, adding momentum to a growing push by conservative states and anti-abortion groups to target medication abortion, the method now used in a majority of pregnancy terminations in the United States.

Wyoming’s new law comes as a preliminary ruling is expected soon by a Texas judge that could order the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. Such a ruling, if it stands, could upend how abortion is provided nationally, affecting states where abortion is legal as well as states with bans and restrictions.

Legislation to ban or add restrictions on medication abortion has been introduced in several states this year, including a bill in Texas that would not only ban abortion pills but also require internet service providers to take steps to block medication abortion websites so people in Texas could not view them.

In these states, proposals to block or restrict abortion pills have typically been introduced along with other anti-abortion measures, a reflection of the range of obstacles to abortion these states have tried to erect since the Supreme Court overturned the national right to abortion last June.

Medication abortion is already outlawed in states that have total bans, since those bans already prohibit all forms of abortion. But Wyoming became the first state to outlaw the use of pills for abortion separate from a total ban.

Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, a Republican, signed that state’s abortion pill ban on the same day that he said he would allow another more sweeping measure banning abortion to become law without his signature. That law, which takes effect on Sunday, would ban abortion under almost all circumstances, making it a felony to provide an abortion.

“I have acted without bias and after extensive prayer, to allow these bills to become law,” Mr. Gordon wrote in a letter to Wyoming’s secretary of state released on Friday evening.
Also this week, Utah GOP Gov. Spencer Cox signed a law closing the state's abortion clinics, even though again, the state doesn't have a ban on abortion itself.
Abortion clinics in Utah could be banned from operating under a law signed by the state’s Republican governor, setting off a rush of confusion among clinics, hospitals and prospective patients in the deeply conservative state.

Administrators from hospitals and clinics have not publicly detailed plans to adapt to the new rules, adding a layer of uncertainty on top of fear that, if clinics close, patients may not be able to access care at hospitals due to staffing and cost concerns.

The law signed by Gov. Spencer Cox on Wednesday takes effect May 3, at which time abortion clinics will not be able to apply to be licensed. It institutes a full ban Jan. 1, 2024. Both the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the Utah Hospital Association declined to detail how the increasingly fraught legal landscape for providers in Utah will affect abortion access.

In addition to banning abortion clinics from operating, the law also clarifies the definition of abortion to address liability concerns about how exceptions are worded in state law — a provision Cox called a compromise.

On Thursday, the governor rebuffed critics who’ve equated restricting clinics to a de facto ban on abortion and said the law offered clarity to hospitals providing emergency abortions in the case of threats to maternal health and rape or incest reported to authorities.

“This bill clarifies that so that those abortions can continue. They will continue in a hospital setting, but there’s nothing to prevent those from continuing,” he said at a news conference.
The difference between Republicans in states like Texas and Kentucky and Republicans in states like Utah and Wyoming is the whole semantics issue of cruelty to the groups they want to subjugate. "We're not banning abortion, we're not like Southern Republicans," they say. "If you want an abortion badly enough ladies, cowgirl up and you'll go get one."
Couched in the language of "choice" and "strength" you see, rugged women of the Rockies and all that. And maybe if you're a *real* woman, you'll bring the fetus into the world. Anyway, we're actually making the choice much tougher because we're assholes, but at least we're not psychotic like the Southern GOP.
Guess you should consider yourselves lucky that the cruelty isn't quite as awful.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

It's good to see that law enforcement is treating security at the Manhattan Criminal Court seriously in case Alvin Bragg brings charges, my concern of course is how many of those various officers will be reporting to Trump.
Local, state and federal law enforcement and security agencies are preparing for the possibility that former President Donald Trump will be indicted as early as next week, according to five senior officials familiar with the preparations.

Law enforcement agencies are conducting preliminary security assessments, the officials said, and are discussing potential security plans in and around the Manhattan Criminal Court, at 100 Centre Street, in case Trump is charged in connection with an alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and travels to New York to face any charges.

The officials stress that the interagency conversations and planning are precautionary in nature because no charges have been filed.

The agencies involved include the NYPD, New York State Court Officers, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the officials said.

NBC News has reached out to all of those agencies for comment, and all have declined to comment.
I'll still believe in indictments when I see them unsealed and Trump perp-walked to a booking desk. Until then, this is all fabulous nonsense.
And even if Trump somehow does get charged and the affair goes to trial without half the country declaring war on Manhattan, I don't believe for a moment that Trump won't be able to get to jurors in any sort of trial, with the open help of partisans in the FBI, NYPD, USSS and US Marshals. I don't think the courthouse itself will come under attack, that would be too much of a failure for these agencies, but I do think the protests will be massive and possibly dangerous. It's going to be *bad*.
I've said before that America isn't ready to have this conversation, let alone actually execute a plan to keep all the players safe when there's a phenomenal chance that the security is already badly compromised. It's like the worst mob boss trial in the world, and any of the cops could be on the mob's payroll.
There's also a very good chance that Trump openly calls for violence in NYC, and that people will answer that call. Maybe a few, but maybe hundreds, thousands, or more.
We're in the no turning back part of this historically infamous chapter in US history.
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