Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2019 news and views
Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this.
White Rage Texas Mall Rampage
A man shown above and identified as Patrick Crusius, 21, is alleged to have killed multiple people on Aug. 3 in El Paso, Texas. The radical conservative, pro-Trump and white nationalist website 4 Chan released what has been described as the shooter’s manifesto, in which he vows to kill immigrants.
Washington Post, Multiple people killed in shooting at El Paso mall, Hannah Knowles, Morgan Krakow and Michael S. Rosenwald, Aug. 3, 2019. At least 19 people were killed and 40 injured in a shooting at a Walmart and neighboring stores in El Paso on Saturday afternoon, sending shoppers racing for cover in a chaotic scene that prompted a massive police and medical response, local authorities and government officials said.
At least 23 are still being treated in hospitals, authorities said. Authorities identified a man in custody as Patrick Crusius, 21, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
One official said that the specific number of people killed and wounded was subject to change, noting that some of the victims were critically wounded.
Authorities are also investigating a manifesto that includes remarks attacking immigrants and is sympathetic to the Christchurch attacker accused of killing 49 people in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques this year, according to the two officials. Authorities have not confirmed that the manifesto is from the same attacker but continue to investigate it.
• Photos: The scene after the El Paso shooting
Trump Drops Spy Nominee
New York Times, Trump Drops Spy Chief Pick After Bipartisan Pushback, Charlie Savage, Julian E. Barnes and Annie Karni, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Senators had questioned whether Representative John Ratcliffe, an outspoken Trump supporter, was qualified to be the director of national intelligence. Mr. Ratcliffe also faced questions over whether he had exaggerated his résumé.
President Trump on Friday abruptly dropped his plan to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, left, Republican of Texas, as the nation’s top intelligence official after questions by Republicans and Democrats about his qualifications and concern over whether he had exaggerated his résumé.
Mr. Ratcliffe, a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump, had come under intense scrutiny since the president declared on Sunday on Twitter that the lawmaker was his pick to succeed Dan Coats, who is stepping down as director of national intelligence on Aug. 15. The selection generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties, who would have decided whether to confirm him.
Mr. Trump, in his post announcing that Mr. Ratcliffe would not be his nominee after all, spoke bitterly of the attention that Mr. Ratcliffe’s overstated claims about his experience as a federal prosecutor quickly received from the news media. “Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media,” he wrote.
• New York Times, The selection of Representative John Ratcliffe had generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties.
• Washington Post, Ratcliffe is disengaged from House Intelligence Committee’s work on Capitol Hill, officials say
Washington Post, Trump’s new tariffs take aim at heart of the U.S. economy: Consumers, David J. Lynch, Damian Paletta and Heather Long, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). Administration officials insisted Friday that President Trump’s latest tariffs on Chinese goods would not punish consumers even as some White House aides privately acknowledged the move damaged prospects for the slowing economy to rebound this year.
Trump unveiled new trade barriers targeting made-in-China consumer products just one day after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell warned that the president’s trade policies were sapping business investment.
The move to impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept. 1 is a striking economic gamble as the president approaches a 2020 reelection campaign. Investors, his political opponents and the Chinese government all scrambled to respond. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 98 points to close at 26,485.01 Friday, its fourth straight daily decline.
U.S. 2020 Elections / Impeachment
World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Not so bright, our Democratic candidates, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 3, 2019 (74:16 mins). We are dealing with a full-fledged crisis of the Democratic Party. It is moral. It is political. It is civic. It is a massive irresponsibility and it shows the ultimate logic of the identity groups. You get a political imbecility about the big questions and essentially pandering to each of these individual groups because you’re’re hoping to get their votes in the primaries.
Where that leaves us vis-a-vis Trump is anybody’s guess. Of course, he does the same thing, except that he’s going after what he regards as the largest identity group: White workers, the white middle class and white lower class. He’s lost a lot of them because of his vulgarity and hooligism and his quisling attitudes, but still….
The news, of course, is impeachment. This gradual, granual process, which is assembling the majority in the House, which is going to bring down Trump. That’s what’s going on, not these gestulating thespians with their histrioics on the stage in Detroit — mainly proving that it’s hard to see who’s fit for the presidency. They’re all going to require some reform.
Every day brings a new vote for the impeachment inquiry. That of course gives added power in the courts for the various subpoenas and sets up a constitutional crisis, maybe, depending on what Trump and Barr do. But enforcement, accountability, asserting the Constitution. That’s exactly what we have been recommending. It is slowly but surely boxing in Pelosi, forcing her to smile and go along with the process.
U.S. Political Corruption?
Washington Post, GOP senator held up nominee after military panned construction firm he prefers for border wall, Nick Miroff and Damian Paletta, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). A Republican senator held up the confirmation of a White House budget official this week in an attempt to obtain sensitive information about border wall contracts he has been trying to steer to a major donor, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.
The emails show Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) blasting the “arrogance” of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after senior military officials told him the contracts contained sensitive, proprietary information provided by the companies that could not be shared.
In recent months, Cramer, right, has touted his preferred construction firm, North Dakota-based Fisher Industries, and campaign finance records show the senator has received thousands of dollars in contributions from company chief executive Tommy Fisher and his family members.
Cramer put a temporary hold this week on the confirmation of Michael Wooten, a nominee for a senior post at the White House Office of Management and Budget. After Wooten was confirmed Thursday, Cramer lashed out at the Army Corps in private emails when he was told the contracting bids contain sensitive information.
Fisher Industries was hired by activist group We Build the Wall to install a span of steel bollard fencing this spring on private land west of El Paso. Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, left, and immigration hard-liner Kris Kobach are among the board members of the group, which says it has raised $25 million through private donations.
For Fisher, the project has been a showcase for what it says are innovative techniques that install the steel fencing faster and cheaper than its competitors. Despite Cramer’s efforts to influence and the president’s endorsement, Fisher was not picked by the Army Corps in recent rounds of bidding.
Washington Post, Sidelined on the national stage, U.S. governors are frustrated with Washington, Tim Craig, Aug. 3, 2019. Overshadowed by President Trump and turned off by hyper-partisanship in Washington, governors, who were once the talent pool of America’s political parties, are finding themselves increasingly sidelined in the national debate.
The bipartisan angst, playing out in both the presidential contest and in state capitals across the country, is driven by a widely held belief among chief executives that their accomplishments are going unnoticed as pundits and news media seem solely focused on events in Washington. As a result, some are choosing to walk away from a national political stage that they view as too divisive, while others strategize about how to reinsert themselves in the nation’s affairs.
In the states, “the conversation, the discussion and the dialogue is healthy, and [Washington] has moved away from that,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). “They need to do what governors do. They need to sit down at the table, and they need to talk about issues, and we need to find some common ground. . . . This inability to do that is not healthy for this country.”
U.S. 2020 Elections
U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet one another before the July 30, 2019 presidential debate in Detroit (screengrab).
Palmer Report, Opinion: So that was all for nothing, Bill Palmer, Aug. 3, 2019. Two new major polls have been conducted and released since the latest debates, one from Politico and the other from Harris. In both polls, Joe Biden, right, still has the same size lead he did before the debate, within the margin of error. So for all the talk about whether his uneven but improved second debate performance helped or hurt him, these polls suggest zero mind were changed. There’s more – or should we say less.
Most people think Elizabeth Warren won the first night’s debate. In one new poll she went up two points. In the other poll she went down a point. Lots of people think Cory Booker was the breakout star of the second night’s debate. He stayed the same in one poll and went down a point in the other.
You get the idea. The polls say that this latest round of debates didn’t change anyone’s minds. In other words, it was all for nothing, right? Well, maybe not. If you tuned in to the debates, what you heard was a spirited discussion on some of the most important issues facing America.
New York Times, Trump Fuels Racial Disharmony. How Will Black Voters React? Reid J. Epstein and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 3, 2019. Democratic leaders say African-Americans are deeply engaged in this election, but President Trump is also targeting them with Facebook ads.
Whether they are motivated or discouraged may well determine his future.
President Trump’s entire approach to people of color — his attacks on political leaders, his campaign’s social media strategy targeting the black electorate, his ability to fuel black opposition but also demoralize some black voters — is one of the most extraordinary political dynamics of the Trump era.
No modern president has ever vilified black Americans or sought to divide people along racial lines like Mr. Trump, while also claiming to be a champion of their economic interests.
Washington Post, ‘Take Texas seriously’: GOP anxiety spikes after retirements, Democratic gains, Robert Costa and Robert Moore, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). A rising GOP star announced he would not seek reelection at a time when changing demographics and a wave of liberal activism have given new hope to Democrats.
Republicans have long idealized Texas as a deep-red frontier state, home to rural conservatives who love President Trump. But political turbulence in the sprawling suburbs and fast-growing cities are turning the Lone Star State into a possible 2020 battleground.
“The president’s reelection campaign needs to take Texas seriously,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in an interview. He added that while he remains optimistic about the GOP’s chances, it is “by no means a given” that Trump will carry Texas — and its 38 electoral votes — next year or that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) will be reelected.
For a state that once elevated the Bush family and was forged into a Republican stronghold by Karl Rove, it is an increasingly uncertain time. Changing demographics and a wave of liberal activism have given new hope to Democrats, who have not won a statewide elective office since 1994 or Texas’s presidential vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Recent Republican congressional retirements have stoked party concerns, particularly the surprising Thursday announcement by a rising star, Rep. Will Hurd, that he would not seek reelection in his highly competitive district, which stretches east from El Paso along the Mexican border.
AOC Staffers Ousted
New York Times, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff and a second aide are leaving her office after clashing with House members, Catie Edmondson, Aug. 2, 2019. Two of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aides who were instrumental in forging her unexpected path to victory last year are leaving Capitol Hill, less than a month after one of them ignited a firestorm by challenging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and comparing moderate House Democrats to segregationists.
House Democrats had been privately calling for the ouster of Saikat Chakrabarti, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s embattled chief of staff. He and Corbin Trent, her communications director, had gone to Capitol Hill determined to wage their confrontational brand of progressive politics forged as leaders of Justice Democrats, a group dedicated to unseating entrenched Democratic lawmakers through primary campaigns. Justice Democrats helped Ms. Ocasio-Cortez sweep to power with the defeat of a veteran House Democrat, Joseph Crowley.
But less than a year later, after a bruising skirmish this summer with Democratic leadership, both are calling it quits, they told The Intercept on Friday. Their departures will be seen as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s most tangible peace offering since her private meeting last week with Ms. Pelosi.
Mr. Chakrabarti, right, “has decided to leave the office of Representative Ocasio-Cortez to work with New Consensus to further develop plans for a Green New Deal,” Mr. Trent told The Intercept, referring to the congresswoman’s ambitious climate change program. “We are extraordinarily grateful for his service to advance a bold agenda and improve the lives of the people in” New York’s 14th District.
The New Consensus is a liberal nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and promoting the Green New Deal. Mr. Trent will return to working on Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
Mr. Chakrabarti, intent on continuing his anti-establishment movement from inside the halls of power, had rankled lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill after he posted on Twitter his support for liberal candidates trying to topple sitting Democrats and his disdain for Ms. Pelosi’s legislative prowess. His challenges to elected leaders were considered in Congress to be remarkable breaches of protocol from an unelected aide.
Global Policies: Iran
New York Times, Opinion: With a Democrat, a Cooler Head Would Prevail on Iran, Carol Giacomo, right, Aug. 3, 2019 (print ed.). One point of agreement for the presidential candidates: The nuclear deal needs to be restored. While President Trump has escalated pressure on Iran, even coming close to launching a military strike, most Americans want the United States to reduce tensions and return to the 2015 nuclear agreement from which Mr. Trump withdrew, according to a new poll by the Center for American Progress.
The leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are on that wavelength.
Most would rejoin the deal provided that Iran resumed full compliance, although there were variances in how the candidates would go about it, according to questions I sent to the candidates who rated at least 2 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average — former Vice President Joe Biden; Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; and the former House member Beto O’Rourke.
Global Leadership In History
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin met at Yalta in February 1945 to discuss their joint occupation of Germany and plans for postwar Europe. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov. February 1945. (Army) [Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 111-SC-260486 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 750″]
Strategic Culture Foundation, A Global Leadership Deficit Quotient, Wayne Madsen, right, Aug. 3, 2019. In an age of rapid information exchange and ubiquitous mass media operations and options, the world has never before seen anything approaching the current global leadership deficit. During the World War II years, the forces of fascism were defeated because there were Allied leaders who exercised the leadership qualities necessary to rid the world of Nazi Germany and Imperial Italy and Japan.
There were the “Big Three” leaders: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin. They were ably supplemented by the supporting cast of Free French leader Charles de Gaulle, Australian Prime Ministers Robert Menzies and John Curtin, Canadian Prime Minister William Mackenzie King, South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Chinese leaders Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, King Haakon II of Norway, Greek government-in-exile Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Polish government-in-exile Prime Minister Wladyslaw Sikorski, All India Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia.
Out of the wartime armies and governments emerged a new set of leaders who would help create and nurture the United Nations and keep the post-war world from annihilating itself with nuclear weapons. General George Marshall would emerge as President Harry S Truman’s Secretary of State. General Dwight D. Eisenhower would be elected President of the United States and serve an eight-year term, passing the torch to a World War II Navy Lieutenant named John F. Kennedy. Soviet Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov would serve in the Soviet Politburo and as Minister of Defense. De Gaulle would see France through as its president during the upheavals of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Jinnah became the founding leader of Pakistan, while Mao Zedong became the founder of the People’s Republic of China. Papandreou battled against the Greek military’s influence over his country’s affairs until the 1967 military coup and the imposition of a dictatorship.
Three successive United Nations Secretaries General – Trygve Lie of Norway, Dag Hammarskjold, and U Thant – used their offices to promote peaceful dialogue over war. Hammarskjold would pay with his life while trying to negotiate an end to the Congolese civil war.
Whether they were former military commanders or wartime government officials, the post-war years produced the individuals who would help guide colonies to independence in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement would offer the world a third choice between the capitalist West and the Communist Bloc.
White House Pulls Pass
New York Post, White House yanks Playboy reporter’s credentials after Rose Garden snafu, Mary Kay Linge, Aug. 3, 2019. The White House reporter who nearly sparked a Rose Garden brawl last month has been punished with a temporary suspension of his press credentials.
Brian Karem, a reporter for Playboy and a CNN political analyst, tweeted that his White House press pass will be suspended for 30 days, starting Monday, for getting into a shouting match with former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka (above).
“I can and will appeal this decision,” Karem tweeted Friday — joined by his Playboy bosses, who called the sanction “incredibly concerning.”
The heated July 11 dust-up broke out at a Social Media Summit for President Trump’s online supporters — who Karem denounced as being “eager for demonic possession.”
Gorka then shouted at Karem, “You’re not a journalist. You’re a punk!” video of the encounter shows.
“Come on over here and talk to me, brother. Or we can go outside and have a long conversation,” Karem responded.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just tipped off how much trouble he’s truly in, Bill Palmer, Aug. 3, 2019. Donald Trump’s White House just suspended the press credentials of CNN reporter Brian Karem for thirty days. The Trump regime has told the Washington Post that the suspension was because Karem got into an argument with Trump lackey Sebastian Gorka during a White House event three and a half weeks ago. But this doesn’t add up at all.
Why suddenly suspend Karem now, for something that happened in early July? And why bother suspending him when the courts have already cracked down on this kind of nonsense in the Jim Acosta case? Karem will have his credentials back in a lot less than thirty days, and going after this respected member of the media will only have served as a way to distract the media. But then that’s the point.
Donald Trump’s worsening scandals, increasingly erratic behavior, heightening impeachment prospects, and whatever else is coming down the pike have added up to some kind of crisis in the Republican Party, which finally reached a crescendo this week. Six House Republicans have recently announced they won’t bother seeking reelection. The Republican Senate is suddenly forcing Trump to get his Director of National Intelligence debacle under control.
Whistleblower’s 2016 Story
Washington Post, Her Cambridge Analytica work helped elect Trump. She’s hoping the world will forgive her, Craig Timberg and Rosalind S. Helderman, Aug. 2, 2019. Brittany Kaiser wants to be remembered as a whistleblower and a human rights advocate. But a new documentary about her experience leaves out two important elements.
Brittany Kaiser (right) first emerged in last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal as a seemingly nefarious figure, an insider steeped in the dark secrets of a new kind of voter manipulation powered by Facebook data. To make matters worse, news reports also raised questions about Kaiser’s mysterious dealings with WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange at a time when he remained holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London.
For Kaiser — at the time a 30-year-old Democrat from Texas who’d become business development director for Cambridge Analytica, a firm created to elect Republicans — the massive wave of critical news reports about the company threatened to deliver catastrophic damage to her reputation and even made her fear possible arrest.
So she did something drastic: Kaiser fled to Thailand, and she let a crew of filmmakers tag along.
What followed was a highly public — and still unfinished — quest for moral redemption that has played out across the globe and, now, in a Netflix documentary called “The Great Hack,” released July 24. It includes images of Kaiser up to her shoulders in a giant pool under an impossibly blue sky in Thailand, uncertain what to do.
And it later depicts Kaiser, in a far more determined frame of mind, testifying before the British Parliament about the many unsavory deeds of her former employer and warning of the ongoing privacy threats posed by Facebook, whose dealings with Cambridge Analytica resulted in July in more than $5 billion in U.S. fines.
But two important elements are missing from the film.
Newsweek, Who Is Brittany Kaiser? Netflix Documentary ‘The Great Hack’ Casts Light on Central Whistle-blower in Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Sophia Waterfield, Aug. 2, 2019. Netflix documentary The Great Hack, which focuses on the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, includes an exposé of Brittany Kaiser, a former senior director at the now-defunct company who turned whistle-blower.
The documentary follows the investigative reporting by British journalists Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison, who exposed the Facebook data harvesting and manipulation carried out by Cambridge Analytica. The company used this data to manipulate discourse around divisive political issues, supporting the likes of the Donald Trump 2016 presidential election campaign, and Britain’s Leave.EU campaign which advocated for Britain to leave the European Union.
The Great Hack goes into detail on how Cambridge Analytica worked with politically-motivated campaigners to persuade uncertain voters about which party or cause to vote for.
Kaiser, who was interviewed for the documentary by Paul Hilder, explains how the company targeted Americans and others during political campaigning: “What this strategy is mostly meant to do is to identify people who are still considering many different options and educate them on some of the options that are out there,” she explains in the film. “And if they’re on the fence, then they can be persuaded to go one way or the other. Again, that is their own choice.”
Washington Post, Trump’s pick to lead U.S. intelligence claims he arrested 300 illegal immigrants in a single day. He didn’t, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg, Aug. 2, 2019 (print ed.). The claims of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) about a 2008 operation conflict with the court record and the recollections of others who were involved — at a time when he is already under fire for embellishing his record.
Puerto Rican Gubernatorial Change
New York Times, Puerto Rico’s Governor Steps Down and Successor Steps In, but Dispute Isn’t Over, Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 2, 2019. After the deparure of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, right, Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as secretary of state. His ascent to the governor’s seat will most likely be contested in court.
The latest round of high-stakes politicking took place inside the marble-lined halls of Puerto Rico’s Capitol in San Juan, where Mr. Rosselló had convened a special session to confirm Pedro R. Pierluisi, the island’s former nonvoting representative in Congress, as his successor. But some legislators from Mr. Rosselló’s ruling New Progressive Party, offended that he had not consulted them over Mr. Pierluisi’s nomination, had other plans.
Thomas Rivera Schatz, the powerful president of Puerto Rico’s Senate, who wants to be governor himself, declared that Mr. Pierluisi did not have the votes to win confirmation as secretary of state, the next in line to succeed the governor.
New York Times, Tulsi Gabbard Thinks We’re Doomed, Or we will be if America doesn’t leave the rest of the world alone, Nellie Bowles, Aug. 2, 2019. That’s why the 38-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii is running for president.
Tulsi Gabbard, right, is running for president of a country that she believes has wrought horror on the world, and she wants its citizens to remember that.
She is from Hawaii, and she spends each morning surfing. But that is not what she talks about in this unlikely campaign. She talks about the horror.
She lists countries: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq. Failure after failure, she says. To drive the point home, she wants to meet on a Sioux tribe reservation in North Dakota, where, she explains, the United States government committed its original atrocity.
“These Indigenous people have been disrespected, mistreated with broken promises and desecrated lands,” Ms. Gabbard says.
She is with her husband, Abraham Williams, a 30-year-old cinematographer, and her sister, Vrindavan Gabbard, a former U.S. Marshal who is now volunteering for the campaign, lives with Ms. Gabbard in Washington, and got in some trouble after complaining about NBC’s Democratic debate moderators from Ms. Gabbard’s Twitter account.
Stephen Kinzer, a fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, is not deluding himself about Ms. Gabbard’s chances. “A lot of us in Tulsi world, we don’t have the fantasy that she’s going to pull ahead, but she serves a great purpose in this campaign because she is saying things that no one else is saying,” he said.
On Wednesday night, as criticism of Ms. Gabbard’s stance on Syria raged, Mr. Kinzer said on Twitter in defense of her that the White Helmets group of volunteer rescue workers in Syria is “an arm of the terror movement” there. “They are heroes to #ISIS but not to any humanitarian,” he wrote.
While she is the embodiment of this anti-interventionist message onstage, there is a much larger movement brewing. There is big money in peace. Two billionaire philanthropists from opposite ends of the political spectrum — George Soros and Charles Koch — came together this summer to fund the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank to argue against American intervention abroad.
Many of Ms. Gabbard’s advisers and allies celebrate this new peace movement, but go quiet when asked about specifics, like Ms. Gabbard’s trip to Syria.
SouthFront, Opinion: Propagandists Are Freaking Out Over Gabbard’s Destruction Of Harris, Caitlin Johnstone, Aug. 2, 2019. In the race to determine who will serve as Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in the history of civilization, night two of the CNN Democratic presidential debates saw less than six minutes dedicated to discussing US military policy during the 180-minute event.
That’s six, as in the number before seven. Not sixty. Not sixteen. Six. From the moment Jake Tapper said “I want to turn to foreign policy” to the moment Don Lemon interrupted Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard just as she was preparing to correctly explain how President Trump is supporting Al-Qaeda in Idlib, approximately five minutes and fifty seconds had elapsed. The questions then turned toward the Mueller report and impeachment proceedings.
Night one of the CNN debates saw almost twice as much time, with a whole eleven minutes by my count dedicated to questions of war and peace for the leadership of the most warlike nation on the planet. This discrepancy could very well be due to the fact that night two was the slot allotted to Gabbard, whose campaign largely revolves around the platform of ending US warmongering.
CNN is a virulent establishment propaganda firm with an extensive history of promoting lies and brazen psyops in facilitation of US imperialism, so it would make sense that they would try to avoid a subject which would inevitably lead to unauthorized truth-telling on the matter.
New York Times, Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear, Lisa Friedman, Aug. 2, 2019. A growing number of conservative young voters identify climate change as a top priority. As the influence of younger Republicans rises, some strategists warn that the party stands to lose voters to Democrats.
As the influence of younger Republicans rises, some strategists warn that the party stands to lose voters to Democrats. When election time comes next year, Will Galloway, a student and Republican youth leader at Clemson University, will look for candidates who are strong on the mainstream conservative causes he cares about most, including gun rights and opposing abortion.
But there is another issue high on his list of urgent concerns that is not on his party’s agenda: climate change.
“Climate change isn’t going to discriminate between red states and blue states, so red-state actors have to start engaging on these issues,” said Mr. Galloway, 19, who is heading into his sophomore year and is chairman of the South Carolina Federation of College Republicans. “But we haven’t been. We’ve completely ceded them to the left.”
Washington Post, After Trump cites concerns about Amazon, Pentagon revisits plan for $10 billion cloud-computing contract, Aaron Gregg and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 2, 2019 (print ed.). A leading contender to win the bid was Amazon, a company that has been criticized many times by the president.
• Capital One hack came at a bad time for Amazon’s most profitable business
Washington Post, Rep. Will Hurd, lone black Republican in House, won’t run again, Robert Moore, Aug. 2, 2019 (print ed.). Hurd’s retirement is the third by a Texas Republican in the past week and the ninth by a party incumbent, dealing a blow to GOP efforts to regain control of the House in next year’s election.
With Hurd’s retirement, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) would be the lone black Republican in Congress. Hurd barely held the seat last year and Trump lost the congressional district, which covers more than 58,000 square miles between San Antonio and El Paso along the Mexican border, by four percentage points in 2016.
In an interview Thursday with The Post, Hurd (shown in a Facebook photo) criticized Trump’s racist tweets last month in which the president said four Democratic minority congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Three of the women are from the United States; a fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), is a Somali refugee who became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s war against James Comey just backfired on him, Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2019. Trump’s phony “Deep State” conspiracy theory has officially gone down the tubes. Trump has spent years insisting that former FBI Director James Comey (shown above in office) was somehow an illegal leaker who needed to be prosecuted for it. To that end, Trump supporters have insisted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz was going to put Comey and other intel officials in prison.
Instead, Horowitz has announced that there won’t be any criminal charges against James Comey. Moreover, the Washington Post says that according to people in the DOJ, it was “not a close call” – which is to say that Comey was very clearly not guilty of anything.
This was easy to see coming. First, outside of Trump’s lunatic fringe bubble, everyone understands that he didn’t do anything illegal by releasing certain obstruction of justice evidence against Trump. Second, Horowitz, right, has already proven through his previous IG reports that he’s not willing to do Trump’s corrupt bidding.
So this announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. But Donald Trump has spent the past couple years insisting that Comey was part of a treasonous “Deep State” conspiracy to try to delegitimize Trump’s presidency. Now Trump’s adversaries, including the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee, will be able to argue to undecided voters that even Trump’s own DOJ Inspector General agrees there was no conspiracy against Trump, and that the intel community was just doing its job when it came to investigating Trump’s crimes.
Palmer Report, Opinion: How the hell did Donald Trump know about Elijah Cummings’ burglary before everyone else? Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2019. When it was first reported yesterday that Congressman Elijah Cummings’ home in Baltimore had been burglarized, some major media reports created the appearance that the burglary had just happened. That made it sound like Donald Trump’s racist tweets about Cummings had led one of his supporters to commit the burglary. But now the timeline turns out to be different – and potentially even more disconcerting.
Police in Baltimore are now saying that the burglary actually occurred at 3:40am on Saturday, July 27th. This has led some Donald Trump apologists to insist that Trump’s tweets couldn’t have prompted the burglary, because Trump didn’t start his tirade about Cummings until three and a half hours later, at 7:14am. And they’re right: short of a time machine, Trump’s tweets couldn’t have caused this. But here’s the thing.
It’s impossible to imagine that it’s a coincidence that Cummings’ home in Baltimore was burglarized, and 3.5 hours later, Trump randomly decided to begin ranting obsessively about the crime rate in Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore. Trump had to have already known about the burglary at the time he started tweeting. Yet the burglary didn’t become public knowledge until five days after it happened. So how could Trump have known about it 3.5 hours after it happened?
There are at least a few different potential explanations. Because Elijah Cummings is a Congressman, the local police could have immediately tipped off the FBI, who could have then told Donald Trump about it. But if so, then Trump took advantage of privileged information about a crime for political gain, which would be disgusting. There will also be those who ask if Trump knew about the burglary because he was behind it. There’s zero evidence of this, of course. But because Trump has been working from Richard Nixon’s playbook all along, and we know how much Nixon loved burglaries… it’s scary to even think about. The public deserves to know how Trump knew about the burglary before anyone else.
Epstein Update / Looming Issue
RT America, Jesse Ventura: “Powerful forces covered up the Epstein case the first time for a reason,” Jesse Ventura and Brigida Santos, Aug. 2, 2019 (28:13 min. video). Jesse Ventura and producer Brigida Santos discuss the recent arrest of alleged serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and reveal the names of the politicians and celebrities listed in Epstein’s black book. RT Host Rick Sanchez scolds prosecutors for referring to Epstein’s female child victims “prostitutes.”
Washington Post, Democrats pull no punches on second night of debate, Matt Viser, Toluse Olorunnipa and Amy B Wang, Aug. 1, 2019. Former vice president Joe Biden, attempting to regain his footing by adopting a more aggressive and combative posture during a Democratic presidential debate here Wednesday night, faced relentless attacks on his decades-long Senate record on race and criminal justice, immigration and health care, and his commitment to women’s rights.
The exchange showcased many of the deep divides within the party that are taking on greater urgency as the candidates strive to make gains before the field narrows.
USA Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is again the most-searched candidate on Google during Democratic debate, William Cummings, Aug. 1, 2019. Tulsi Gabbard was the most searched candidate on Google after her night on the Democratic debate stage in Miami last month, and she took that honor again after the primary debate in Detroit on Wednesday.
Before Wednesday night’s showdown between 10 of the 25 Democrats running for president, former Vice President Joe Biden was the most searched candidate in all but seven states. Gabbard, right, was next, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
But during the debate, the congresswoman from Hawaii stood alone as the most Googled candidate in all 50 states.
Gabbard’s campaign took note of the interest shown in her on Google. “Following the last two debates, Tulsi has spiked to #1 in Google Trends, showing America is hungry for her message of ending wasteful wars and the nuclear arms race,” read a tweet from her Twitter account. Being the most searched candidate during the firs round of the debate in Miami didn’t translate into a boost in the polls for Gabbard. Most polls had her hovering around 1% heading into that debate and her current polling average, according to RealClearPolitics, stands at an even 1%.
On July 25, Gabbard’s campaign announced it was suing Google, claiming “serious and continuing violations of Tulsi’s right to free speech” because of Google’s suspension of the Gabbard campaign’s advertising account during that first debate.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the second night of the Democratic primary debate.
CNN via YouTube, Watch Tulsi Gabbard’s interview with Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper interviews presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, Aug. 1, 2019. (10:48 min video). (5.5k likes, 369,000 views as of Aug. 3).
New York Times, Support for Impeachment Inquiry Grows in the House, Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 1, 2019. The House’s summer break was expected to lower the temperature around the prospect of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. But the trickle of Democrats coming out in favor of the inquiry is threatening to turn into a flood, most likely raising pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On Monday, it was a soft-spoken senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. On Tuesday, the careful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L. Engel of New York, threw in his support. So did Jennifer Wexton, a freshman Democrat who flipped a Virginia district long held by Republicans, and Jason Crow, an Iraq war veteran in another newly Democratic House seat in Colorado.
On Wednesday, the influential chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita M. Lowey, added her voice.
The House’s departure last Friday for a six-week summer break was expected to lower the temperature around the prospect of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. An unexpected declaration by the House Judiciary Committee in court papers on Friday that an impeachment investigation was effectively already underway might well have cooled matters further.
But the trickle of Democrats coming out in favor of opening a full impeachment inquiry is threatening to turn into a flood, most likely raising pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take precisely the vote she has tried to avoid all year. This week, more than a half-dozen Democrats have announced their support for an inquiry, and with at least 116 declared supporters, the backers of an impeachment inquiry are more than halfway to the 218 votes they need in the House.
New York Times, Who supports an impeachment inquiry? Here’s a full list, Alicia Parlapiano, Jason Kao, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson, Aug. 1, 2019.
- 116 Representatives support an impeachment inquiry
- 96 No, not now, or undecided
- 221 Awaiting response
Other 2020 U.S. Politics
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Williamson’s Middle East woo matches her other kooky ideas, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 1, 2019 (subscription required). Spiritual guru and marketer of woo self-help books Marianne Williamson is serving as the same sort of political spoiler to harm the Democrats in the 2020 election as Green Party candidate Jill Stein acted in the 2016 race.
Both Williamson (shown in a screenshot from the debate) and Stein are right out of the weirdo and offbeat central casting department in what has become reality television presidential politics.
Los Angeles Times, Opinion: Stop the Marianne Williamson bandwagon right now. Stop it, Brian Boyle, Aug. 1, 2019. Marianne Williamson does politics the same way as President Donald Trump, the writer argues, and that’s dangerous.
A month ago, after the first round of Democratic primary debates (shown above), I pleaded with the Democratic National Convention to declutter the stage and laser in on the real contenders. After the second round of debates, I’m ready to admit I may have been wrong, and bringing more voices to the event is valuable to viewers and voters.
Stirring the pot, generally speaking, is good. But there is one clear exception: celebrity whisperer Marianne Williamson (who, I feel obligated to mention as early as possible, has a history of anti-science, anti-vaccination rhetoric that, alone, should be immediately disqualifying).
Tuesday night, nerds like me across the internet logged onto Twitter in the wake of the debate in search of a dialogue between journalists, pundits and scholars on what policies America needs, wants and can actually politically obtain — and whether any of those overlap.
But we’re living in a post-2016 world, so of course that was nowhere to be found.
Google trends show Williamson (who, I again feel obligated to note, believes AIDS and cancer are the “physical manifestation of a psychic scream”) appeared in the most searches after the debate in all but one of the 50 states (that’d be Montana, whose people Googled their own governor, Steve Bullock, as he made his first appearance on a presidential debate stage).
Williamson also owned Twitter. Her proclamations of love and metaphysical justice sparked many a meme.
Look, like most 22-year-olds, the line between genuine appreciation and ironic enjoyment blurred in my head long ago. And I hate to crash the tarot card-reading party. But this has to stop. Now.
Because we’ve seen this before. Give Williamson enough shine as a “joke” candidate and soon enough voters will start to buy in.
No, Williamson’s core beliefs aren’t a fraction as malignant as Donald Trump’s. And no, she isn’t a one-to-one mirror image. But she sees politics the same way, and that makes her dangerous.
Like Trump, she’s uncovered a disaffected corner of the party. The kind that doesn’t vote; the kind that’s inspired more by an appeal to ill-defined existential emotions than effective policymaking. Like Trump, she projects a coming American apocalypse, tapping into liberal nightmares rather than conservative ones. Like Trump, she then presents herself and her own spiritual gut instinct as the sole (and soulful) path to salvation.
Crime, Terror Claim
Yahoo News, FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat, Jana Winter, Aug. 1, 2019. The FBI for the first time has identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat, according to a previously unpublicized document obtained by Yahoo News.
The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists a number of arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.
The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant (which didn’t actually have a basement).
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
New York Times, Final Edition: How One Small-Town Paper Said Goodbye, Richard Fausset, Photographs and Video by Tim Gruber
Aug. 1, 2019. With the distribution of its final issue on May 7, The Warroad Pioneer, which printed about 1,100 copies per week, joined roughly 2,000 newspapers that have closed in the United States over the last 15 years, according to a study by University of North Carolina researchers soberly titled “The Expanding News Desert.”
Today in many American communities, the researchers noted, “there is simply not enough digital or print revenue to pay for the public service journalism that local newspapers have historically provided.”
In Warroad, The Pioneer was full of soft-focus features on residents, reprinted news releases, photos of fishermen with their outsize catches, and news of awards won by children and Shriners. There were the occasional stories, too, about city officials, the school board and local sports.
This, then, was what the desert might look like: No hometown paper to print the obituaries from the Helgeson Funeral Home. No place to chronicle the exploits of the beloved high school hockey teams. No historical record for the little town museum, which had carefully kept the newspaper in boxes going back to 1897.
And what about the next government scandal, the next school funding crisis? Who would be there? Who would tell?
Others imagined the news moving from person to person, unedited and unchecked, on Facebook or other social media networks. “A lot of it is going to be word of mouth through kaffeeklatsches,” said Todd Miller, 57, a former member of the county commission. “And who knows what variant of BS gets passed around there.”
New York Times, A Paradox at the Heart of the Newspaper Crisis, Marc Tracy, Aug. 1, 2019. Hedge funds have found that they are able to wring profits out of an ailing product: the print newspaper. But for how long?Today, the business could hardly be more dismal. Phil Luciano, a columnist at The Peoria Journal Star, got a story tip recently about Caterpillar, the heavy equipment company that was based in Peoria, Ill., for 90 years before a recent relocation to Cook County.
The tip seemed promising enough. But as one of only seven full-time reporters at the paper, he felt stretched too thin to do much about it.
“Who’s our Caterpillar reporter?” Mr. Luciano asked. “We don’t have one right now.”
In recent years, The Journal Star has been hit with the kind of cutbacks that have become common for newspapers nationwide as they steer a bumpy course toward a digitally focused future. The newsroom had more than 80 guild employees in the 1990s, and now has about a dozen. The Journal Star is still the largest paper in downstate Illinois. But after covering more than 23 counties in its heyday, it now limits itself to three: Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford. And Woodford’s pretty small,” Mr. Luciano said.
The Peoria daily is representative of the newspaper industry as a whole in two other respects. It is owned by a company controlled by a hedge fund — GateHouse Media, which owns more papers than any other company, according to a University of North Carolina study. And even in its reduced state, the paper is profitable.
Around one in four papers in the country, most of them weeklies, have been shut down since 2004, the U.N.C. study found. In that same time span, roughly half of all newspaper jobs have been eliminated as the cumulative weekday circulation of print papers has fallen to 73 million from 122 million.