The Traitors Among Us ~ RollingStone

Donald Trump likes to call his opponents traitors — but if he’s looking for treasonous behavior, he should look within his own party

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: US President Donald Trump leaves number 10 Downing Street after a reception on December 3, 2019 in London, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

More than a few people in Donald Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

 

America once used the words “treason” and “traitors” only in cases of actual betrayal of our nation’s most vital secrets or interests. They were profound words, deep with meaning, grim in import, carrying with them the knowledge that the penalty for treason was death.

Be honest: The words “traitor” and “treason” don’t have the sting they once had; they’ve been devalued from mis- and over-use by this president. For Donald Trump, any opposition, either personal, ideological, or political is treason. Anyone who stands in his path betrays the Great Leader. Anyone who fails to take the knee is a traitor.

Like hearing an insult too many times drains it of its potency, Trump has diluted the power of that approbation. He has labeled loyal, dedicated Americans who served this country in the military and law enforcement as traitors, so much so that we could almost give in to the temptation to excuse it as “Trump being Trump” and let it slide like any of the other insults he vomits forth on the daily.

Which is a shame, because America is in the midst of a treason boom right now, and more than a few people in Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor, and the treason inherent in their acts and words is apparent.

Traitors from Benedict Arnold to Klaus Fuchs to Aldrich Ames to Robert Hanssen sold out this country for a host of reasons, all explicable and unforgivable. The intelligence community even has a handy acronym for the motivations of traitors, and one that applies readily to known cases. The acronym is MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Pick a traitor and one of those reasons will underpin their betrayal.

Add a new one to the acronym. Call it, MICE-T, with the “T” naturally standing for Trump.

Their treason isn’t executed in the old ways of secret meetings, furtive brush passes, or encrypted messages. No, the traitors of today show us their cards on cable TV, laughing and giggling over their betrayal of the oath they swore, and the security of this country, all for the political service of Donald Trump.

As the impeachment hearings have worn on and as evidence of the complete moral collapse of the Republican Party has become more and more evident, it has become quite obvious there really are traitors among us. There are elected officials who have made the decision to protect a corrupt president by embracing conspiracy theories, refusing to acknowledge sworn testimony of career foreign-service officials, and piling on to Trump’s attack of democratic institutions.

The traitors deliberately ignore the reporting, counsel, and warnings of the intelligence community when it comes to Russia’s attacks and Vladimir Putin’s vast, continuing intelligence and propaganda warfare against the United States.

The traitors — be they United States senators like John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham or columnists from the Federalist, Breitbart, and a slurry of other formally conservative media outlets — repeat the Kremlin-approved propaganda messages and tropes of that warfare, word for word.

It’s not simply treason by making common cause with a murderous autocrat in Russia, or merrily wrecking the alliances around the world that kept America relatively secure for seven decades.

Their betrayal is also to our system of government, which as imperfect — and often downright fucked up — as it is, has been remarkably capable of surviving.

The traitors talk a good game, hands over their withered hearts, about supporting the Constitution, but they’re happy to ignore it when it suits their purposes.

The traitors believe the executive branch is superior to all others and unaccountable under the law. Traitors believe the “fuck you, pay me” ethos of this president and this White House isn’t an open door to a pay-to-play political culture in Washington where everyone and everything in our government is for sale.

They defend the White House’s indefensible position of stonewalling, silencing witnesses, and refusing to testify before Congress.

Traitors keep racial arsonists like Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon in their orbit and employment. They pretend these men are selling populism and nationalism when in fact it’s just the same weaponized racism that worked so well for them in 2016.

The traitors will sit in Congressional hearings on impeachment knowing the truth about Trump’s extortion racket and of the grubby, sleazy plan Trump sent Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, et al to carry out, and tell lie after lie, the bigger the better.

The traitors cheer when Trump rides roughshod over the military chain of command and the Universal Code of Military Justice, freeing men who killed civilians, abused and violated the warrior ethos, and broke the very laws of war they swore to uphold. They’ve gone from respecting hard men carrying out tough missions to fetishizing the outliers, edge cases, and the war criminals.

You can spot the traitors simply by watching their television shows, as they look you in the eye and tell you to your face they side with Russia. Tucker Carlson wasn’t winking and nodding to the camera; it was where he’s landed politically — a pro-Putin schill on a network that looks away from their pet president’s grotesque subservience to the Russian leader who helped elect him.

The traitors are ass-deep in oligarchs, eagerly selling access to the president, the secretary of state, the attorney general, and of course, the president’s venal pack of lucky-sperm-club spawn.

And if you can’t spot the treason yet, you will soon enough. That’s the thing about spies, traitors, and those who betray their country — they rarely stay hidden forever.

Rick Wilson is a GOP political strategist and author of the forthcoming book “Running Against the Devil: The Plot to Save America From Trump — and Democrats From Themselves.”

Alec Baldwin’s Trump meets Will Ferrell’s Sondland in SNL’s cold open ~ The Washington Post

Lindsey Graham Is a Coward

Trump’s ally in the Senate snubbed a veteran who asked him about the president’s conduct in office

House Republicans spent the week rhetorically hiding from a mountain of evidence that President Trump sought to extort Ukraine into helping him in the 2020 election. Over in the Senate, Lindsay Graham took a slightly different tact: physically hiding from an Iraq War veteran who had concerns about the commander-in-chief.

On Friday morning, Graham was confronted on Capitol Hill by Jeff Key, who engaged the senator about as respectfully as possible. Graham couldn’t handle it. Here’s the exchange:

KEY: “I see how you’re berated in the press and I honestly believe that you believe in our democracy.”

GRAHAM: “I do.”

KEY: “I’m a Marine, I went to Iraq. I believe as I believe that you do that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath, the oath that you took and I did to defend the Constitution.”

GRAHAM: [unintelligible stammering]

KEY: “You took an oath.”

GRAHAM: “Yeah I did, I don’t agree with you, I gotta go.”

Graham then abruptly turned his back on Key and disappeared behind a closed door. “Is that it?” Key said as Graham retreated. “That’s it,” the senator said before closing the door behind him.

Like his Republican colleagues, Graham has been unable to address the substance of the impeachment inquiry, instead opting to bash the process and indulge conspiracy theories about Deep State efforts to take down the president.

 

Sadly, his deflection efforts aren’t limited to cable TV hits. On Thursday, Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, launched a probe into Joe Biden’s relationship with Ukraine. The investigation comes a month after he was pressured to begin one by Trump and his allies. He refrained from doing so at the time, he explained to the Washington Post, because didn’t want to “turn the Senate into a circus.”

Larry David: Imagining What Keeps Trump Up at Night ~ NYT

In this fictional conversation, the president chats with his wife at 3 a.m. and comes up with a tremendous idea.

By

Mr. David is a comedy writer and performer.

Credit…Kiersten Essenpreis

 

July 2019. The White House — 3 a.m. Donald Trump tosses and turns.

MELANIA: What’s wrong, Donald?

TRUMP: I can’t sleep.

MELANIA: (Turns the lamp on.) Why, what’s bothering you? You can tell me.

TRUMP: No, no. I don’t want to bother you with my problems.

MELANIA: Donald, I’m your wife. You can tell me anything.

TRUMP: O.K. … The truth is, I just can’t stop thinking about corruption in Ukraine.

MELANIA: Oh, honey.

TRUMP: It’s killing me. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep.

MELANIA: Maybe you should take a Xanax.

The Extraordinary Impeachment Testimony of Fiona Hill ~ The New Yorker

Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council official who testified at the impeachment hearings on Thursday, was born in Bishop Auckland, a hardscrabble former coal town in County Durham, in the northeast of England. Her father was a miner; her mother was a nurse. As she noted in her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, her modest roots and working-class accent would have been a career handicap in the Britain she grew up in, but in the late nineteen-eighties she escaped. After attending the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, she applied for a graduate scholarship to Harvard and was called for an interview. “I was so nervous, I walked into a broom closet by accident,” she later recalled.

Hill, who appeared at the Longworth House Office Building, on Thursday morning, didn’t appear to be nervous at all, and why should she have been? At Harvard, she earned a Ph.D. in Russian history. In 2002, she became an American citizen. For many years, she has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in Washington. From 2006 to 2009, she served as the senior expert on Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council, an internal think tank for U.S. intelligence agencies. In 2013, she and Clifford G. Gaddy, an economist at Brookings, published “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” which a reviewer at Foreign Affairs described as the single book about Putin that is most useful to policymakers. In 2017, Hill was named the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, where she served as a deputy to H. R. McMaster and John Bolton.

“I can say with confidence that this country has offered for me opportunities I would never have had in England,” Hill said in recounting her modest upbringing. Then she got down to business, delivering a short lecture to certain unnamed members of the committee about the realities of Russian interference in the 2016 election. “Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016.”

Hill was just getting started. Reading in a firm voice from her opening statement, she went on to say that Russia’s goal was to weaken the United States, partly by sowing internal dissent. “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super pac,” she said. “They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.” Hill also repeated the warning that Robert Mueller delivered during his testimony to Congress, in July, and she coupled that warning with another about the useful idiots inside the United States who, deliberately or not, serve to further Russia’s goals. “Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election,” she said. “We are running out of time to stop them. In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”

It isn’t every day that a former senior official in the Trump White House effectively accuses congressional Republicans of promoting “false narratives” in a manner that benefits the Kremlin. Even before Hill started talking, Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the committee, had sought to counter her assertions. During his opening statement, he lifted up a lengthy report into Russian meddling that he and his Republicans colleagues put out in 2018. Remarkably, however, Nunes then confirmed Hill’s charge by saying it was “entirely possible for two separate nations”—e.g., Russia and Ukraine—“to engage in election meddling at the same time, and Republicans believe we should take meddling seriously by all foreign countries.”

Trump and His Corrupt Old Party ~ NYT

For Republicans, there is no bottom.

By

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

 

Formally, the House of Representatives is holding an inquiry into the question of whether Donald J. Trump should be impeached. In reality, we’ve known the answer to that question for a long time. In a different era, when both parties believed in the Constitution, Trump’s abuse of his position for personal gain would have led to his removal from office long ago.

No, what we’re actually witnessing is a test of the depths to which the Republican Party will sink. How much corruption, how much collusion with foreign powers and betrayal of the national interest will that party’s elected representatives stand for?

And the result of that test seems increasingly clear: There is no bottom. The inquiry hasn’t found a smoking gun; it has found what amounts to a smoking battery of artillery. Yet almost no partisan Republicans have turned on Trump and his high-crimes-and-misdemeanors collaborators. Why not?

The answer gets to the heart of what’s wrong with modern American politics: The G.O.P. is now a thoroughly corrupt party. Trump is a symptom, not the disease, and our democracy will remain under dire threat even if and when he’s gone.

The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers ~ NYT

They wanted to take down Biden. But they also wanted to absolve Moscow of election meddling.

 

By Glenn R. Simpson and

Mr. Simpson and Mr. Fritsch are the founders of Fusion GPS.

Credit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

 

 

The Ukraine scandal now unfolding in congressional impeachment hearings has at its core a Shakespearean twist: President Trump, abetted by his paladins of spin, has trapped himself in an alternate universe. To undermine the well-established fact that Russia corrupted the 2016 vote to help him win, Mr. Trump and his allies have tried to build a fiction that pins those crimes on Ukraine.

In so doing, he has confirmed our darkest fears. The president’s bid to solicit foreign help to impugn a domestic political rival in 2019 should wipe away any doubts about his willingness to do the same with Russian help in 2016.

Mr. Trump and his enablers — Rudolph Giuliani foremost among them — have scrambled all year to do two deeds at once. They want to besmirch Joe Biden, without foundation, for supposedly using his office as vice president to protect his son Hunter, who served until recently on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. And they want to reinvent what happened in 2016 so as to switch the blame for the election meddling from Moscow to Kyiv.

Congress is rightly focused on the quid pro quo demands that Mr. Trump was making of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to further his own personal political interests. But the effort to rewrite the history of 2016 is no less insidious.

How America Ends ~The Atlantic

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This is a long story but worth reading .. A good historical/opinion piece.  rŌbert

 

By Yoni Applebalm

Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.

“Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,” Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” This is the core of the president’s pitch to his supporters: He is all that stands between them and the abyss.

In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” For good measure, he also quoted a supporter’s dark prediction that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric matches the tenor of the times. The body politic is more fractious than at any time in recent memory. Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. “Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,” the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.”

Outright political violence remains considerably rarer than in other periods of partisan divide, including the late 1960s. But overheated rhetoric has helped radicalize some individuals. Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for targeting multiple prominent Democrats with pipe bombs, was an avid Fox News watcher; in court filings, his lawyers said he took inspiration from Trump’s white-supremacist rhetoric. “It is impossible,” they wrote, “to separate the political climate and [Sayoc’s] mental illness.” James Hodgkinson, who shot at Republican lawmakers (and badly wounded Representative Steve Scalise) at a baseball practice, was a member of the Facebook groups Terminate the Republican Party and The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans. In other instances, political protests have turned violent, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Unite the Right rally led to the murder of a young woman. In Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, the left-wing “antifa” movement has clashed with police. The violence of extremist groups provides ammunition to ideologues seeking to stoke fear of the other side.

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