Who is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman? Well, here’s a few things to know. He works at the White House as a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. He heard the call on July 25 between President Trump and President Zelenskiy of Ukraine. He’s active-duty Army. And today he has testified in the impeachment inquiry underway on Capitol Hill.
The twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, both ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.
Theirs is, in the abstract, the quintessential American story. Migrants who arrived from the former Soviet Union at age 3 who’ve since dedicated their lives to serving their new country. The Vindmans’ experience is a manifestation of the poem at the base of the statue: They are part of the impoverished, huddled masses seeking the chance to breathe free. They did so, deeply.
Everybody and their dog is now talking about impeachment. It’s about fucking time. Where were they three years ago? Donald Trump was impeachable from the day he lied taking his oath, and we knew he was lying when he did it. We simply lacked the political will to do the work required to set the misfire of the 2016 election aside back when it would have made a real difference.
But hey, Nancy Pelosi is on board with impeachment, so everyone thinks they have to talk about it now. Now that the bus of the US federal government is on fire, plummeting downwards at a predictable rate of V = gt, now they want to apply the brakes. Well that’s fine. I’ll have another bottle of spirits over here in the meantime. If you don’t mind.
The comparative difference between Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton & Donald Trump is easy to discern. Donald Trump is a fraud, plain and simple. He has sold his Stormtrumpers a bill of goods that he could never deliver, and had no intention of delivering. This is his standard of practice. Donald Trump was a fraud way, way back. All the way back to the 1970’s & 80’s when he cheated on his taxes stealing the wealth of his father’s company. When he built his first building. When he bought out and then bankrupted his casinos. He is still a fraud, a tax cheat and a money launderer. All of this will come out, eventually.
All the other guys who have faced impeachment had some good thing they hoped to achieve in the public service. The same cannot be said of Trump.
This episode of the 538 Politics podcast is the best explainer I’ve run across on the subject of impeachment. Kate Shaw even picks up on what the guest on Today Explained missed (Exhibit C) She goes point by point through the process as it will most likely progress. Since we only have three cases of presidential impeachment to measure with, it will be hard to say exactly how this will manifest itself. Stay tuned.
Unfortunately for the people who don’t (or won’t) listen to podcasts, there isn’t a transcript for 538 podcasts, and therefore no quick reference for those who just want to get to the facts of the subject directly. You’ll just have to listen. (Editor’s note: Now you can watch, too. I haven’t seen the video which isn’t available on the podcast feed. Yet)
Which not only adds itself into WordPress articles as a playable embed, but you can find the transcript right in the embedded interface. (Not on Spotify, the current streaming source. -ed.) Given what this episode is, a light brush over the subject of where the Trump impeachment goes from where we are now, it’s not too bad. If you understand the subject.
What did Laura McGann miss? The entirety of Scenario 9 is no mystery. Impeached officials, once successfully removed from office, can be barred from serving in public office again. Subject to a simple majority vote of the Senate. It’s right there in the rules. Or Wikipedia.
The Daily from the New York Times is more of a cautionary tale. The Times, in its usual attempts to prove that they aren’t liberal by literally (or audibly) embracing the most insane rantings of whichever pundit they choose to give publicity to, chose to give publicity to the guy who brought us Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, et all. His name is Mike Davis.
…everybody told us that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh and really sort of the torch-carrier politically through this process. And what he did in terms of not just managing the technicalities of the Senate investigation and the Senate process, but also waging this sort of cultural war for conservatives that was crystallized during the Kavanaugh confirmation process and is now being deployed as a defense against impeachment.
The fact that he was sort of an unabashed advocate for Judge Kavanaugh should have been the first reason not to give the guy a microphone and several uninterrupted minutes to rant. Just flat out don’t do that. There are far, far too many people who will not understand how to dissect his rantings with a skeptical eye. Mike Davis is a poster child for motivated numeracy if not the face on the poster advertising the shortfalls of relying on the reasoning of people who cannot divorce themselves from the things that they believe.
What do I mean by that? If everything Trump is accused of doing was something Obama had been accused of doing how would Mike Davis react? If asked that question on the podcast he would prevaricate. He might even understand the hypocrisy of saying that it would be different for Obama and thereby say “it’s no big deal” but that would be a lie.
We know what would have happened because we lived through eight years of outrage directed at what could objectively be determined to be the best president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (the tan suit, anybody?) If Dwight D. Eisenhower’s portrait is on display anywhere in Washington D.C., the place in the same building that would be appropriate for Donald Trump’s portrait is wherever the garbage is stored before being hauled to the landfill. Which is where Donald Trump’s portrait should go after that. The landfill. With the rest of the garbage.
The New York Times illustrates again exactly why I don’t spend money supporting their reporting. If I had money to support investigative journalism these days I’d have to give it to Vanity Fair, Propublica, The Guardian or The Atlantic. It is a sad day for journalism today, folks.
Impeachment is dangerous. And that danger – that very danger right there, the very nature of it — is why it must be done. And it is in the crucible of crisis, facing the greatest of dangers, when true, authentic greatness is forged.
Starting the second week in October, 2019, there are now three podcasts that I’ve found that deal specifically with the subject of impeachment and only that subject. The first one is Impeachment, Explained from the same people who bring you the podcast Today, Explained linked above. This is the first episode. It will come out weekly on Spotify.
Then there is the daily podcast from WNYC, called simply Impeachment. I like titles that just say what they are about. This podcast is compiled from content that is aired on the Brian Lehrer show.
…was the episode that followed up the voicemail I left two days previously asking why Trump hasn’t been impeached already based on his emoluments violations. I’m sure I’m not the only one asking that question. The Trump Doral debacle is, as the title suggests, a perfect slice of the subject.
The third podcast is Article II from MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. Of the three, this one is the one I have the least hope for. I’m not sure why, it just seems that MSNBC manages to shoot themselves in the foot about every other time they try to do something. Since Bagman was such a hit and The Oath is making waves, I’m betting that Article II is doomed to failure. But I’ll give it a few weeks to see what Steve manages to pull out of the hat.
In testimony on Tuesday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, described what he saw as a high-stakes decision by President Trump to withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Dan De Luce, national security and global affairs reporter for the NBC News investigative unit, recounts Taylor’s opening statement and whether it support the theory of a “quid pro quo.”
Then Wednesday the Republicans in the House of Representatives proved themselves unfit for office by staging a juvenile stunt during the hearings. Such is life in the US in 2019. I sent #ImeachTrump? #ExpelMcConnell! to the show as a comment.
I feel compelled to respond to this bit of agitation on the part of Julian Assange because I am tagged in it. As is typical for me I will do so with a link to a podcast that voices an opinion similar to mine:
I don’t think much of Julian Assange. I think less of him today than I did a decade ago and more when he burst upon the scene with stolen video footage that misrepresented what it purported to show. I didn’t like him. I still don’t like him or think he or wikileaks serves any bettering purpose in the world (we all should hope to leave the world better than we came into it. Most of us living today are likely to fail at this task) Jail time may be what he deserves. I’ll leave it to the courts to decide.
How many times has Assange revealed crimes committed by Vladimir Putin? How many whistleblowers has he helped in countries that weren’t aligned with NATO? There is some serious hatred for America present in everything he does, the kind of vitriol that sounds forced given the state of the world today. Obama was too easy on Putin, given what has happened since President Obama left office. Clearly we need technical counter-insurgency programs of our own. Let’s see how well Muscovites fair through a winter without electricity. They can have their power back when they get rid of Putin and return the Crimea to Ukraine.
People who defend Assange always point to the continuing military adventurism engaged in by the US government as proof that the US government is evil and has to be brought down. The people who voted for Trump voted to bring down the US government:
Wikileaks is aimed almost exclusively at the US. Assange’s working with Russia makes him an active threat. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden deserve to be protected, but have to go outside of channels to do what they see as the right thing. Look at what happened to the whistleblower that tried to point out Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine. That is what happens to whistleblowers everywhere. This isn’t a US thing, this is a nature-of-power thing. Russia is the country that kills defectors. Specifically, Vladimir Putin kills defectors. It is his preferred terror tactic, liberally applied to keep his own people in line. The US hasn’t made a reputation for doing this. Perhaps Donald Trump will change this?
The Trump whistleblower will be outed, eventually. If Trump is not removed from office and jailed for his crimes, then the whistleblower will end up in jail for daring to speak truth to power. Who would have believed Edward Snowden back in 2013? No one. He tested the possibility of going the whistleblower route, and discovered that he would have ended up in prison. So he did the only other thing he could do. I’m not generally inclined to call a spy a hero, but if there is such a thing, Edward Snowden comes pretty close. So does the Trump whistleblower. The real question is, why do they have to spend thousands of dollars that they probably don’t have in order to do the right thing, risking jail and death just to do it? That is the question.
We are so close to losing this country to fascism now. So close. If people do not come out in force for whoever the Democrats offer up for election in 2020, we will lose this country.
…and I will not hang around to watch it burn.
Assange deserves to be brought down for his crimes. Maybe not jail time but he should be kept offline. His self-imposed isolation, evading capture for crimes he has legitimately been accused of in other countries, that has a health price. I don’t doubt that he is ill now. However, you will not inspire me to feel sympathy for him.
Edited comments from Pluspora
It is a statement of just how much beneath notice that Julian Assange is in my mind that this is the only article on the blog that mentions his name. That is how little I think of the man. A gnat that believes himself an elephant, much like the president he helped to elect with his conspiracy mongering and his alliance with Russia and its dictator, Vladimir Putin. That his days in existence are coming to an end is the justifiable outcome of his activities over the past twenty years. Reap the whirlwind, Mr. Assange.
I blocked a stealth Stormtrumper on the Stonekettle Station Facebook group today. I’m pretty sure he was airlocked pretty quickly after he posted the following,
Jesus man, the mother in law is listening to Fox news, and since she can’t hear it’s loud. It’s all boxes of ballots being found and counted, the election was over Tuesday, why are these crooked Democrats that would steal an election any way they could still counting votes, Hillary this and Hillary that, poor Matt Whitaker, a man with integrity the liberals are vilifying because of the Steele dossier and how the FISA courts got duped not once, but 4 times by information Hillary colluded with the Russians to get! Oh yeah, and hammering a female MSNBC anchor ( didn’t hear who) that hates Trump and blah, blah, blaaaah…
It’s no big news that I blocked a Stormtrumper. I do that pretty much every day these days. But this one snuck into Jim’s group, which was no easy thing to do. I wasn’t even sure that he was a Stormtrumper at first. There are several ways that statement could be read. I mean, is he quoting his mother-in-law? Are those his words? Hard to say. So I replied to him.
“FOX should be shut down and fined. It’s owners indicted. There should be laws against what FOX and conservative outlets are actively doing. Deceiving the public. Committing fraud. Propagandizing. How to craft rules about this, though. That is the problem. How to write laws that can’t be used to silence valid opinion pieces while stopping the deception. It’s not as easy as you might think.”
The Stormtrumper outed themselves, at this point. They immediately followed up with objections about freedom of speech, to which I replied, “There is no first amendment protection for fraud. There is no first amendment protection for speech which endangers life or property. There is no first amendment protection for lying, misinforming or otherwise distracting the public with more noise and smoke than anyone can see or hear through. This is what is being done to us. This is what was done to the people of the Ukraine. This is a tried and true playbook we are seeing here. How to regulate it out of existence is the only question remaining.”
“I don’t like Trump, but he IS President…do you want him and his minions to have the power to brand their opponents as “fake news” and use the power of the govt to silence them?”
I never said anything about giving the power to inhibit freedom of speech to the president. I never even argued that this is a power that should be exercised solely by the government. This is the exact same argument as the gun argument as framed by gunnuts. No limitations or there is no freedom. This is transparently false. There can be and are limitations on your ability to lay down destruction among your neighbors. You can’t own nukes. You can’t own tanks or fighter planes. There are a lot of limitations on firepower out there, and there can be sensible limitations on speech (a point I later embroidered on here) Does Trump tell you that you can’t drive a car, just because licensing is required?” Obviously not. There are other, more subtle ways of creating outgroups to persecute. One of those ways is fabricating evidence and then citing it as proof. Dick Cheney and his “yellow cake” propaganda, as one example.
That incident remains a prosecutable fabrication and yet no one is willing to prosecute him for it. The Orange Hate-Monkey is simply doing what Cheney did (more haphazardly) and remains unpunished for doing. It is time to start enforcing limitations that exist. It’s time to start prosecuting the powerful for their excesses. It’s time to write libel laws that work in this country.
BTW, that last thing is what the OHM fears most. That’s why he spoke about it, to take that threat off the table. Who would presume to echo something he said and be serious about it? And yet he would be the first, most obvious target of libel laws. For him it would be slander law. You have to write to be prosecuted for libel. Come to think of it, a good portion of his tweets are demonstrably libelous. Who has he not slandered/libeled over the course of his life? Lying can be and is a crime, for normal, everyday people. It simply depends on the circumstance surrounding why you lie and to whom.
The laws are not enforced by the president, and the president should not be given the power to enforce laws. The Justice department prosecutes and the FBI investigates and neither of them is directly under the control of the president. This is how it should be. Believing the president is the sole enforcer of law in the country also discounts the thousands of police departments, prosecutors, etcetera, departments of law enforcement and prosecution all across the nation that do the real work of law enforcement.
Any fraud is a crime and fraud is not limited to lying under oath. The limitations exist, if you disagree with this observation you simply aren’t interested in seeing these limitations enforced. Imagine what might have happened if the first time the Orange Hate-Monkey lead the chant “lock her up!” he was arrested and fined for slander and incitement to riot? If Ted Cruz could be similarly charged for falsely accusing Beto O’Rourke of crimes? There is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech. Speech which carries no consequences.
…and at that point I blocked him, because the argument had gotten circular as it does so frequently with Stormtrumpers and Christianists. I have little doubt left that Trump is a Russian stooge these days. He’s been using the same tactics to control the media and what they pay attention to as the tactics that are/were being used in Ukraine by Putin. He isn’t smart enough to come up with this tactic on his own.
I’ll be voting for Jill Stein in the general election. It’s hopeless, but it’s the right thing to do. If Trump is ultimately elected well I’d say that’s no more than we deserve. We’ve voted for the lesser of two evils over and over again for decades. Trump is the logical conclusion of such a national voting pattern. In the short term, voting for Hillary might seem like the smart thing to do, but in the long term a Hillary presidency will lead to fascists even worse than Trump. My great hope, is that the next President’s mediocrity is enough to convince people to abandon the two parties.
These twisted narratives regarding Hillary! (we know where they came from now –ed.) All available evidence that I’ve seen indicates that we didn’t orchestrate the coup in Honduras. Instead, that was just a good old fashioned power grab, without our influence behind it. Our complicity in that mess happened after the fact. We continued to give them financial support, and refused to call the coup a coup, because US doctrine states that we are to suspend aid when countries have military coups. So, we’re not “directly responsible for the coup in Honduras.” We just acted unethically after it happened. The same policy is still being implemented with John Kerry as the Secretary of State, so this is not a Hillary problem.
Try to understand how the Secretary of State‘s job works. The Secretary doesn’t get to act unilaterally in any way that they see fit, regardless of what the president wants. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. They get to make suggestion based on what they think is best; and, once the president make a determination regarding what they think needs to be done, the Secretary is allowed a certain degree of discretion with respect to how to accomplish the goals they’re given by the President. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was not allowed to determine what we were doing in Honduras. That decision came from Barack Obama. Maybe she would have done the same thing in his place, Maybe she wouldn’t have, but giving her all the blame/credit for decisions like that reveals a misunderstanding about the Secretary of State’s role in policy.
The slippery slope argument as it is applied to the subject of voting for Hillary or the Democratic party is fallacious. It simply hasn’t worked out the way that the naysayers who have been naysaying all my life have said it would work out.
We are no-fooling way on the other side of the problem of slippery-slope and reaching the point of collapse for lack of participation in the system; and this is all because the people who live under the system refuse to take any interest in the running of that system.
The parties are the problem. I’ll grant that as a precept. But this means that ALL of the parties are the problem. Even the Greens, the LP and whoever else pops up this year. Only the Democrats and the Republicans can change the system as it stands now. Either we motivate them to change it by participation (participation that is only capped by voting) or we allow the system to collapse entirely and build something fresh from the remains. Personally, I think there is something worth saving in the Republican system the forefathers gifted us with. That is why I will be voting Democratic this fall.
Voting for the Democrat is simply accepting that the only way to reform the system is to engage with it. Voting third party is thinking you’re going to reform the foxes in the henhouse by leaving the foxes alone to their devices while you sit a mile down the road twiddling your thumbs.
The only systemic progress we make in this country is the result of mass movements, not the ballot box. The women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the labor movement of the early 20th century, the anti-war movement during Vietnam…these are the source of real progress. The idea that the two parties are going to magically decide to reform themselves is ridiculously naive.
It has been a thing in independent circles for awhile now, a desire to see the system fail rather than participate in it. This shouldn’t be the first choice if there are other possibilities out there. Reform is something that can be done if only 10% more of the population took an active role in politics. We know what the solutions are, we simply lack the numbers participating in the major parties to make the changes.
…and if you could get a movement of that size and power then you will make change. But, voting doesn’t stop you from engaging in that movement. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
I never said “boycott all voting.” I am voting for Jill Stein after all. I’m saying we should stop voting for the two parties until they give us what we want. There’s no reason to vote against the future of this country,which is the choice we are presented with.
The teabaggers have taken over the GOP and they will see their demagogue nominated. They have done exactly what I am suggesting be done to the Democrats, but in this instance we want to change towards equality, not away from it. This is what the teabaggers want, white supremacy, white nationalism. Christianism. Not equality.
Without pressure exerted from within, the Democrats will never change.
The Democrats don’t want real change and you know it. Look at their record of warmongering, handouts to the big banks, the continued refusal to push for single payer health care, and their refusal to even attempt to reform the system.
I’m saying that you’re boycotting contributing anything productive to the system. Don’t do that. You can do all you can to make change in the fashion you were alluding to above, and then vote for the lesser of two evils (quoting) so the world doesn’t burn around us while you try to make major changes. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.
The Democrats are a collective made up of the people who participate in the process. What I’m suggesting is we alter the makeup of that collective, thereby altering the party and its goals. You can’t just create a viable national party in the United States. First the party has to control a city, then a state, then a region, then become national. That the two we have are encoded into the system is one of the many corrupting factors we have to change.
I left the Libertarian Party because they are wasting their time. They try for national status without first controlling a region. This same observation also applies to the Green party. They can’t be national without first controlling a region. It takes regional support to make a national party viable.
Look at the success of the pro-legalization movement. They have very nearly gained control of a region. That is effective use of the process for good. How many decades must third parties bash their heads against the notion of running national candidates and failing before they realize their approach won’t work? The Democrats or the Republicans will win nationally. That is how the system is set up. Pick a party and change that party.
If the system is rigged, why would I want to participate in it? Progress isn’t made that way, historically. When it comes to cosmetic issues like legalization of marijuana, the system is responsive. But when it comes to structural issues, like campaign finance reform, the system is utterly incapable of reforming itself.
That is special pleading. Fallacious thinking. Either the system will reform under pressure, or it will fail under pressure. There are no other choices available. Voting for the lesser of two evils (quoting again) doesn’t stop you from being able to make progress in the fashion you’re indicating. It just puts someone in power who will be slightly better for the environment, for the country, etcetera. Can you deny that Obama was leaps and bounds better for the than W?
As an atheist I deny the existence of evil. It is a religious concept with no bearing on the real world. Bad exists, as in bad outcomes exist. A bad outcome in this election would be for the Republicans to do anything other than to lose badly. If they don’t lose badly they will be emboldened to continue the course that are on. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Obama is more conservative than Clinton, and Clinton was more conservative than his democratic predecessor before him. Obama represents a step backwards, and those who voted for him are complicit in that step backwards. The two parties shift further to the right every year, because we keep encouraging them to do so.
That is demonstrably false. President Obama repealed conservative orders, signed repeals of conservative legislation executed/passed by Bill Clinton, W., W. dad, etcetera, making Obama demonstrably more liberal than all of them. I voted for Barack Obama with pride in 2012. I would do it again this year (2016) if he could run again.
…Even if that were true (hypothetical) the only question is what is better for the country. You can engage in the kind of progressive movements for change that you like, and then vote for one of the two main parties candidates that most align with your principles, just so that things are less shitty while you get out and create a movement (as Bernie Sanders has done –ed.) this is not complicated. There’s no reason not to vote for the more liberal party, even if that party is corrupt.
The “liberal” party is just another mechanism in the Capitalist system of control. It provides us with the illusion of choice,and the ability to feel like we’re “doing something” when we vote. It also lends a veneer of legitimacy to an illegitimate power system. The “liberal” party is one of the primary reasons we’re in this mess today.
Obama was better than W., the way hemlock is better than arsenic. Either way, you’re still left with poison. In fact, another dose of “arsenic” may have been exactly what this country needed. Without Obama’s presidency, OWS might have amounted to something.
You are aware of the Snowden revelations, right? You are aware of our global drone campaign (a terrorist campaign, by the way)? You are aware of the National Defense Authorization Act? It’s all poison, and it all stems from Obama, who actually built upon the programs Bush left behind.
I swear, if the choice were between Hitler and Stalin, you’d be trying to explain to me why I should vote for Stalin because he’s the “lesser of two evils.” The point being, there is a limit, a point beyond which you have to draw a moral and ethical line. I guess we’ll never agree, because my “line” is far closer than yours.
I recognize where that viewpoint comes from, it is the same glamour that Dan Carlin is under. It comes from Glenn Greenwald and the rest of the fourth amendment is under attack contingent. The problem for them is that the most pressing problems in the world have little or nothing to do with that subject; consequently, peering at the problem through that lens produces no useful information but leads to a myopic belief that the problem you are focused on is the only one that counts.
Obama may be to W as eating McDonald’s every day is juxtaposed to Arsenic, but to call them both poisons of the same kind is crazy. It sounds like conspiracy fantasy and the belief that there is some they out there somewhere that controls the levers of the machinery of government with fine-grained control. I don’t see that happening at all at this point. (I would love for some of those people to explain the Orange Hate-Monkey from the perspective of 2020, though. –ed.)
I know about the drone campaign (W started that. Can someone defend the 2019 NDAA? Good luck with that.-ed.) and many other reasons why Obama isn’t an ideal president. I also know that:
the ACA got 90% of the country covered with healthcare,
he had the foresight to bailout the auto industry,
the Iran nuclear deal,
his stance on gay marriage,
he repealed don’t ask don’t tell,
he increased fuel efficiency standards,
he created new EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution,
he picked the third and fourth women to ever sit on the Supreme Court including
the first hispanic person of either gender,
he got Russia to agree to further nuclear disarmament,
he gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco,
he issued an executive order requiring all federal agencies to limit their carbon footprints,
he expanded stem cell research,
he helped Sudan declare independence,
he cut the Global Gag Rule,
he strengthened the Endangered Species Act,
he didn’t interfere with states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana,
he started a program training veterans in green collar jobs,
he donated his $1.4 million Nobel Prize to nonprofits,
he invested $90 bil in smart grids,
renewable electricity generation,
Then there’s Dodd Frank,
the Credit Card Accountability,
Responsibility and Disclosure Act,
the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act,
the Fair Sentencing Act,
the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,
the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act,
the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,
the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
…Oh, and there’s the little thing he helped Bush II do (W. wasn’t all bad. -ed.) saving this country from a massive depression by continuing the bailouts needed to keep the financial system afloat, and offering stimulus that the Republicans never forgave him for.
Obama/Bush II ≠ Stalin/Hitler, or Arsenic/Hemlock. Barack Obama is much better than Bush II in many ways (something that I go into in Obama Best President Since Eisenhower –ed.) and if you truly believe that nonsense then I feel sorry for you. That is the view that produces a downward spiral that there is no recovery from. I’m glad to be rid of that focus. When looked at through a different lens you get a more realistic picture, a more complete understanding.
…which is why I’m going to continue working to salvage the system rather than bet on scuttling it in favor of smaller, more agreeable vessel.
The Facebook friend and I are old friends from way, way back. Back in the pre-Facebook bad old BBS days on Dan Carlin’s website. I linked him to a thread on Dan Carlin’s Facebook group (now deleted or made private) because I hadn’t seen him on the Dan Carlin group contributing, and because he was illustrating delusion in relation to the Democrats in general and to Hillary Clinton in particular. It was a friendly disagreement that I found productive in a thought-provoking way. I appreciate a good counter-argument when I can find one. I borrowed liberally from his and another friend’s words to make this article for the blog. I hope they appreciate the work.
This was an article that my friend from the DCBBS should remember:
Rachel Maddow whittles away the unsubstantiated reports in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash investigation and points out that NATO warned the world on June 30th that Russia was training Ukrainian separatists on vehicle-borne anti-aircraft capability.
I’ve spent a good portion of today writing responses to accusations that the segment is biased and not based on facts.
I get it, it’s popular these days to insist that television news is biased. If it isn’t FOX news’ conservatives incessantly whining about liberal bias (liberal meaning “anything not Conservative” i.e. mindlessly jingoist with a heavy helping of Jesus on top) it’s the blatant bias of FOX news itself making up stories that they think their viewers will ascribe to (#Benghazi, anyone?) as detailed on any number of channels including MSNBC which the clip above comes from.
The “why” of the location of the plane, it’s status right before it fell out of the sky, will only be answered by the fight recorders if they are ever found. Flight recorders that the separatists claim to have already found.
Conspiracies are already spinning on the subject. Ukraine shot the plane down. Ukraine thought they were targeting Vladimir Putin’s plane (the story from Russian news sources that Rachel Maddow relates) the plane was loaded with corpses and crashed on purpose to frame the Russians. I’m sure there will be more.
Ukraine hasn’t been shooting down planes in the area; Ukraine would have known (since they control their own airspace) that the plane was a commercial airliner. The separatists have been, and shot down a plane at the same altitude and similar heading earlier in the week (not to be confused with a shootdown from more than a decade ago) So they clearly had the capability to do it again, and the motivation to continue hampering Ukrainian efforts to put down the separatists.
The separatists exist largely because Russia funds them. There is a conspiracy theory (which theorists like Dan Carlin deny is one) that suggests that the unrest in the Ukraine is due to US intervention in the region, that we’re trying to pull the former soviet state into the NATO alliance. That that is why Russia acted to claim the Crimea through the use of the separatists.
The truth is that Kiev wants to get closer to the EU, to be considered part of the EU rather than a satellite of Russia. If I understand the political structure of the country, the governors of the various regions are appointed not elected. That has lead to unrest in the outlier areas away from Kiev and its direct control, parts of the country that want to elect their own leaders directly. There is also a history of distrust between the Eastern and Western sections of what we call ‘Ukraine’ today (bad blood from WWII during the occupation by Germany) That is why the separatists accuse the government of Kiev of being under the influence of fascists.
Russia would of course like its territory back. Kiev has been historically in and out of Russian control for centuries, and was actually the first city to be called Russia (Kievan Rus) and would probably be the capital of the country of Russia if the Mongols hadn’t taken it and occupied it. But none of this means that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin should be handed the keys to Kiev just because he wants it under his control.
Putin and Russia are as accountable for MH17 deaths as the US is for funding and equipping terrorists in other regions; as in, completely accountable if you are living anywhere outside of Russia or the US. As the saying goes “live by the sword, die by the sword.” The trick is to not be the one living by the sword. Vladimir Putin is the last of the KGB. When he dies, that era dies with him. If we can just stop funding the MIC in the US, the other half of the equation will also close.
It really isn’t propaganda or fallacy to say Russia is to blame for downing the plane. The separatists exist as a military force because Russia has encouraged them. Whether the equipment came from Russia recently, or was soviet equipment left in Ukraine at the end of the USSR, it exists because of Russian expansionism and empire that goes back centuries in time.
Putting the shoe on the other foot (to turn another phrase) I saw the same kinds of denial surrounding the downing of Iran Air Flight 655, the Iranian commercial airliner destroyed during the Iran/Iraq war, a conflict we heavily funded and supported. Everything from the excuse that Reagan gave and the US government still sticks to (an accident) all the way to full blown conspiratory “plane full of corpses flown at the Vincennes on purpose” insanity.
But we shot that plane down in cold blood and killed all those people because we were there and ready to kill. The same is true for the groups fighting in Ukraine right now, and the group in question gets its backing from Russia and is equipped with weapons made in Russia. They are the ones ready to kill. They get the blame. As much of the blame as the US got for that downing of an Iranian airliner.
Does that mean war? No. Not even vaguely (I’m sure John McCain is already strapping on his sword, if he ever takes it off anymore) that does mean that Russia and their proxy separatists should answer in international court and pay restitution at the very least. If someone can be found that actually gave the order to shoot that plane down, that person should be put on trial. But I think we’ve had enough killing in the world of late. How about we not call for more, just right now?
The original thread for this episode on the bulletin board went way over sixty pages within hours of the podcast releasing. There was a flood of pointless back and forth about getting involved in Ukraine, and very little about whether or not it was the fault of the United States that Ukraine was in outright revolt.
…Which was the core assertion that Dan made in the episode, that the United States was to blame for the violence occurring in Ukraine. Directly at fault for it, if not actually conducting it ourselves.
I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to discuss the issue that I thought was more important than whether or not we could keep Ukraine away from Russia without destroying all of human civilization in the process. Whether or not the DCBBS-hated President Obama was to blame for Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Nor did I buy that the United States would be actively trying to undermine a government that it had contracted to fly into space with for the next four years:
NASA has signed a new deal that will keep American astronauts flying on Russian spacecraft through early 2017 at a cost of $70.7 million per seat — about $8 million more per astronaut than the previous going rate.
The $424 million deal, which was announced today (April 30), is good for six seats aboard Russia’s Soyuz space capsules. Under the agreement, Soyuz vehicles will now ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station through 2016, with return and rescue services extending until June 2017. The previous contract provided Soyuz flights for NASA astronauts through 2015, at a cost of roughly $62.7 million per seat.
NASA has been dependent on the Soyuz since the retirement of its space shuttle fleet in July 2011. The agency is currently encouraging American private spaceflight firms to develop their own astronaut taxis under its Commercial Crew Program….because, you know, we’re always going to gen up hostilities with people we’re contracted to fly into space with for the next 4 years. Sorry, Dan. I’m simply not buying this one.
A common assertion on the DCBBS. I was simply not buying the argument. Any part of the argument. I’m not buying 9/10’s of the history of spying that spies relate, because they can’t offer proof until long, long after the events in question are over and done with. Dan’s main source for the episode was this newscast from Democracy Now. The last I checked Democracy Now wasn’t a legitimate news source. Until there is real news to relate, citing fringe sources makes Dan sound like the guy that the Estonian poster on the first page of the thread recollected:
…it is often very easy for me to agree with Dan and see the common sense in his arguments, because I’m not from US. So having no personal bias and being completely disengaged from the vast majority of issues he addresses, it is very easy for me to agree.
But today was little different. Today he touched some issues which also involve me a bit. And it wasn’t that the big picture view of potential US vs russia+china cold war didn’t make rational sense and isn’t worrying, it just felt odd hearing this american-centric view on things, where I know I’d also be involved in the equation(together with 10s of millions other people), yet not important enough in the big picture.
I’m speaking here about what was briefly mentioned, the NATO expanding it’s borders right next to russia and what potential problems it can cause. I’d like to put it out there, that there was/is actually 2 sides to that coin. With those countries, as much as it was probably NATO looking to expand east, it was as much about those counties running for their lives, as hard and fast as they could so they could get as far far away from russia as they could.
I live in Estonia and our entire foreign policy seems to be built up only on 1 thing – maintaining extremely good relations with US and advocating they would in fact get involved in situations like the one in Ukraina, in case when we get in trouble with russia ourselves. And what we also think like Dan does, that with russia getting stronger over time, is just matter of when, not if. For us, the US policy of playing the world policeman is the best we have going for us. So Dans nightmare scenarios of US being forced to involve itself against russia is our dream scenario in such situation. Cause if not, my country would probably done within days and I myself would be likely dead. Or actually the real dream scenario the perception of that looming threat of US getting involved keeps russians away in first place, high stakes game this. Anyways I guess it is much easier not to worry about global power balances stuff if things are very black and white for you personally
I just feel like this is a small niche perspective which went slightly ignored in todays show, justified or not, just wanted to get it off my chest.
The short answer is, Dan is assigning too much importance to the presence of the US in the region and downplaying the aspirations of Vladimir Putin and Russia, the actors present on the scene at the time.
There is real news out there to be commented on. We don’t have to go to fringe elements to get our news. Might I suggest surfing over to the BBC and watching As it happened: Ukraine turmoil for a little more level-headed view of what is happening in Ukraine right now. It’s too bad we don’t have real news agencies in the US.
If we’re going to talk about unwanted United States interference in Russia today, let’s talk about this interference:
IN NOVEMBER 2010, Russia’s Sanctity of Motherhood organization kicked off its first-ever national conference. The theme, according to its organizers, was urgent: solving “the crisis of traditional family values” in a modernizing Russia. The day opened with a sextet leading 1,000 swaying attendees in a prayer. Some made the sign of the cross, others bowed or raised their arms to the sky before settling into the plush red and gold seats of the conference hall at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
On the second morning of the conference, the only American in attendance, a tall, collected man, stepped up for his speech. Larry Jacobs, vice president of the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF), an umbrella organization for the US religious right’s heavy hitters, told the audience that American evangelicals had a 40-year track record of “defending life and family” and they hoped to be “true allies” in Russia’s traditional values crusade.
The gathering marked the beginning of the family values fervor that has swept Russia in recent years. Warning that low birth rates are a threat to the long-term survival of the Russian people, politicians have been pushing to restrict abortion and encourage bigger families. Among the movement’s successes is a law that passed last summer and garnered global outrage in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” a vague term that has been seen as effectively criminalizing any public expression of same-sex relationships.
Interference that is coming straight out of Dan’s religious blind spot as per usual. I mean, if it matters that NGO’s are pushing American agendas in Ukraine, the crux of Dan’s complaints in the episode, then it should be a matter of great concern for Vladimir Putin that American evangelicals are exporting their religious beliefs to his people. But he doesn’t seem concerned about that. He only seems concerned about what happens in Ukraine. As if his real problem is controlling Ukraine and not the influence of the United States at all.
The discussion that I wanted to have on the DCBBS was getting lost amidst the wargaming scenarios that were taking over the Poking the Bear thread, so I created another thread. The title of this post was the title of that second thread. In the original post I simply observed that:
Since Nostradamus has never predicted anything with accuracy or precision, I’d grant Buchanan resides in that realm.
The entirety of the argument that Dan was relating in the Poking the Bear episode relied upon whether or not Pat Buchanan’s book A Republic Not an Empire (chapter two) was prescient in predicting that America’s meddling in Russian politics while it was weak after the USSR collapsed lead directly to Putin’s aggression on the world stage. Pat Buchanan is only accurate because Dan deems his predictions accurate, like Nostradamus fans deem Nostradamus accurate while they squint at disjointed phrases and try to apply them to modern events. What Buchanan’s predictions are proof of is that you can make generically vague predictions and then sit back and wait for their very vagueness to make them appear prescient. People will laud you for your foresight when something that looks almost like what you suggested comes true.
They do all the work, you get all the credit. That is what is wrong with opportunists like Pat Buchanan. Opportunists are just in it for the credit, they just want to look good while saying I told you so.
There are no honest actors on the conservative/neo-con side of the political spectrum today. No people willing to act in good faith. None of them can admit what their true agendas are because the public would not approve of the agenda. Maybe Bill O’Reilly would be that stupid. He’s politically clueless enough to air what he really thinks and has been subsequently embarrassed because of it. Honest actors do not conceal what their real motives are. You can find them in the pundit class because the pundit class doesn’t have to win election. They are almost unheard of in politics and Pat Buchanan has political aspirations. He’s going to lie and he’s not very good at it, either.
It was at that point in the thread on the DCBBS where I set about writing what would become this post:
…although I didn’t hit publish on the research that I started in the Poking the Bear thread until June, after Russia shot down a civilian airliner in Ukrainian airspace, and there was a subject that wasn’t being discussed elsewhere for me to comment on here on the blog. I know I started it then because I posted links that I use in that article in the thread at that point, and I saved them.
Kyiv was the original Russian capital. It was the original Russian/Slavic capital until it was sacked by the Mongols, and the people who survived fled North and established Moscow. That is a crude oversimplification of the facts, but it remains true that the population of Kyiv is more European than the more Northern Russian speakers are, because the city’s bones were refleshed by people who were not Slavic, even if Kyiv itself remains essentially a Russian city. As the good professor says in the Democracy Now interview:
And the longer-term outcome may be—and I want to emphasize this, because nobody in the United States seems to want to pay attention to it—the outcome may be the construction, the emergence of a new Cold War divide between West and East, not this time, as it was for our generation, in faraway Berlin, but right on the borders of Russia, right through the heart of Slavic civilization. And if that happens, if that’s the new Cold War divide, it’s permanent instability and permanent potential for real war for decades to come. That’s what’s at stake.
…even if every other thing he says in the interview was unsubstantiatable bullshit, that part remains true. It’s true because that is how events have played out since then, with no resolution.
I have to hand it to Smitty-48 who replied to my posts in the original Poking the Bear thread. He had it right. Russia and Putin were coming for us, and we weren’t ready. Just like he said. Talk about prophetic.
If Dan’s major point was that Pat Buchanan objected to efforts to democratize Ukraine, similar to the kinds of systems that the rest of Europe has adopted, if Pat Buchanan saw that as attempting to sway Ukraine and bring it under our influence, then Dan Carlin should have said that and illustrated why this activity wasn’t what it pretended to be on the surface, an attempt to make Ukraine more European and less oligarchic. Less like Putin’s Russia and the other countries still under his control. Less corrupt than it was. Dan never did that legwork and so consequently never got my buy-in on his and Buchanan’s supposition.
I was not going to spend a month reading a bullshit book authored by someone whose basic premises I disagreed with just to shoot down the mistaken hype of those premises by a podcaster that I only vaguely still agreed with anymore. Pat Buchanan and Vladimir Putin agree that the US is trying to take over Ukraine. History has proven that assertion to be the correct one. I’m not sure that proof is a convincing defense for either Pat Buchanan or Dan Carlin from a historical perspective. At best it is advice for future leaders dealing with Russia, and what they might take from that advice is completely open to question.
As I pointed out with my one example in the thread, there were hundreds of NGO’s working in all of the various former Republics of the Soviet Union including inside of Russia. Efforts that changed Russia and that Putin embraced as part of his power grab. The problem wasn’t the NGO’s, the problem was and is Vladimir Putin. If you don’t deal harshly with the aggressor in your midst you will come to rue the day that you didn’t act sooner. The regret will occur because the aggressor will not by stopped by appeasement.
In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.