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Monday, March 06, 2017

We're entering the "Reichstag fire" phase

(I have slightly expanded this post since original publication.) 

Remember Khizr Khan, the Gold Star parent who spoke so movingly at the Democratic National Convention? He canceled an upcoming speech in Toronto, and for a very disturbing reason.
In an email to ticket holders on Monday, organizer Bob Ramsay said that Khan was “notified that his travel privilege (sic) are being reviewed” Sunday evening.

“This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me, but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad,” Khan said, according to Ramsay’s statement.

“I have not been given any reason as to why.”
Who is reviewing what? Nobody seems to know. Nevertheless, I have a guess as to what's really going on here.

After the Khans appeared at the DNC, Roger Stone and other Trump-affiliated conspiracy-mongers spread the story that the Khans were actually secret Muslim Brotherhood operatives.
Mr. Khan more than an aggrieved father of a Muslim son- he's Muslim Brotherhood agent helping Hillary
Stone linked to a slimey article by Islamophobe Walid Shoebat, who argued that Humayun Khan (a hero who died for his country) was actually an Islamic terrorist. Last year, everyone laughed at Stone and Shoebat when they made these claims.

But Trump is in power now. What if the administration gins up evidence "proving" that Stone and Shoebat were right?

Yes, I'm positing a conspiracy theory. I freely admit it. I will not insist on this scenario and I am very willing to consider counter-narratives. I ask only for an open mind: Keep this thesis in your thoughts as you weigh future news stories.

I believe that what is happening to the Khans ties in with a larger plan. In order to consolidate power and to regain lost credibility, Trump and his followers must now offer "proof" that their conspiratorial weltanschauung reflects reality.

Every news story I've seen today has validated my theory (expressed in the post below) that that Obama "tapp" story is the prelude to a coming smear campaign against the former president. Trump is playing with live ammunition: He may even intend to imprison the former president using fake evidence. 

My theory is not likely to gain many converts at this stage of the game. I said a few words about it in a comment sent to Emptywheel's blog, and Marcy wouldn't let it pass moderation. (Hey, it's not as though she is immune to the occasional oddball notion, although she's usually very careful about what she says in public.)

The mainstream view is that Trump emitted those instantly-infamous tweets because Breitbart published a wacky conspiracy story which dumbo Donnie accepted instantly. I don't think that the situation is so simple.

Neither do I accept the claim that Trump and Bannon had a furious row, and that Der Donald's wild charges were merely an exercise post-row "anger tweeting." And I don't accept Digby's idea that the accusation against Obama is simply the latest example of Trump's penchant for "mirror imaging." 

These conventional views simply do not provide an answer to the question that bugs me the most.

Why did Trump ask for a congressional probe? Heretofore, Trump has done everything in his power to prevent a congressional investigation of the Russian connection. Suddenly he wants precisely that -- and the White House has expressed confidence that Trump's accusations will be proven correct.

Does any of that make sense to you?

That Breitbart story, and the tweetstorm that followed were part of a much larger right-wing effort. Infowars  published an interview with Larry Johnson in which Johnson "confirms" the accusations against Obama.

Remember Larry? He's the former CIA guy who tried to commandeer the PUMA movement in 2008; he also instigated both the "Whitey" rumor and the earliest incarnations of the birther smear. Do not trust this man.

I was hardly surprised to see that Johnson thinks that Obama really did mount an illegal spying operation against Trump.
The former CIA analyst told RT that the controversy was a “huge deal” and that Trump’s only real mistake was to call it a “wiretap” which was “technically inaccurate” and that those who have denied the charges on behalf of Obama are using semantics to fool the public.

“I understand from very good friends that both Jim Clapper and John Brennan at CIA were intimately involved in trying to derail the candidacy of Donald Trump, that there was some collusion overseas with Britain’s own GHCQ,” explained Johnson, adding that information on Trump gathered by GCHQ was passed to Brennan and illegally disseminated within the Obama administration with the green light coming from Obama himself.

“Donald Trump is in essence correct that the intelligence agencies and some in the law enforcement community on the side of the FBI were in fact illegally trying to access, monitor his communications with his aides and with other people – all of this with an end of trying to destroy and discredit his presidency,” said Johnson, noting that the head of the NSA, Admiral Michael Rogers, visited Trump shortly after his victory, prompting Clapper and others to call for Rogers to be fired.

According to Johnson, Rogers visited Trump Tower in order to “cover himself” because he knew the NSA had been used to spy on Trump.

“There is a genuine effort to take out and defeat Donald Trump even in the aftermath of his election,” said Johnson, calling for the senior executives behind the plot within the NSA and CIA to be fired.

According to the former CIA analyst, there is a “coordinated, organized effort” on behalf of Obama and his allies to sabotage Trump, and some within that camp even thought they could prevent him from taking the oath of office by releasing the infamous “pissgate” dossier.

“What they’re doing I think would fall under the definition of sedition,” he added.
Sorry to quote such an odious source at such length, but I think that a between-the-lines reading gives us an idea of what to expect. In order for Bannon and Trump to attain their goals, in order to purge the executive branch of all non-Trumpers, in order to discredit Trump's critics in the media, the public must be convinced that the conspiratorial viewpoint of Trump and Bannon has a basis in reality. Breitbart and Alex Jones must be credibilized; all non-extremist news sources must be de-credibilized.

And so the Trumpers are framing the Khans.

They are framing Obama.

After that: The Clintons.

This isn't Pizzagate. This is Pizzagate plus power. Imagine what would have happened if the Pizzagate promoters had the ability to concoct seemingly incontrovertible evidence, and if the Attorney General had assured the nation that this "evidence" was genuine.

We are now entering the "Reichstag Fire" phase of a fascist takeover.

You may be wondering: Does Trump have enough manpower to pull off a series of Reichstag fires? Yes. I must once again remind you that Breitbart has long been tied to one faction within the American intelligence community. Bannon has plenty of "soldiers" at his disposal.

Go ahead and laugh at these predictions; I hope one day to laugh with you. I honestly do not want to be proven right.
joe, i too have worried - from the get-go - that the drumpfster would go after obama. it would be edifying to ask his biographers about the cretin's capacity for delayed gratification of the vengeful type.

this bizarre scenario is emerging in my perspective: orange julius caesar has lived his entire life as an offensive dick no one likes, but he just barrels thru as if; we've all known one or more of these. but the delusions of grandeur are grander than most, so he aims high, bigly high. but he also is inept (and essentially lazy as all get-out), so often steps in it, even faceplants in it.

but, he is nothing if not an opportunist. as are all those around him. so he makes lemonade as often as possible, learning how to water it down, passing it off as wine or piss depending on the need, keeping costs low and the bling and the take high. those around him pitch in on this routine, so when he does one of his more spectacular random mental faceplants, one of his lackies figures out a way to turn it in his/their favor.

so it goes; repeat and rinse (or reince, as the case may be.) there's no real 'method' in this madness, beyond the fact that they're all quite mad, but also consistently and uniformly united in their quest for money and power. they thus rise and land, and breathe, as one. like birds on a wire.
Did you watch Rachel Monday night? Her VERY entertaining re-telling of the story now running in the New Yorker:

Long read. Here is another shorter re-telling:

I do believe this goes a long way toward explaining Trump's behavior.
Oh dear Lord, I hope you're wrong. Maddow has a new angle now, apparently Trump is all tied up with crooks in Azerrbiajan. Article on it:
Great post, Joseph! Right on the money.The process is in train. Few people understand the lethality of the sociopath. Trump has no regard at all for the howls of outrage from the liberal media or the Democrats. Like a true predator he scans the environment to find just those items that will advance his divide and conquer strategy for the public herd. At the moment he is killing it in politically:

* He has established a public narrative of Obama the criminal.
* It has no merit except for a core constituency of his voters, a Republican Congress and Fox and Breitbart media whom he can always identify with.
* His opponents can be ignored and vilified as criminals and 'un-American' traitors.
* The Democrats and the MSM can cite as many Intelligence, FBI and Obama officials they like. But Trump has Devin Nune on the House Intelligence Committee to entrench a permanent Obama investigation 'proving' that the whole Obama team are criminals.
* Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Russian inquiries, but not any anti-Obama inquiries that would forestall a Russian inquiry. It's a nice finesse.
* Having established this dynamic and insulated himself from any criticism he doesn't want to hear Trump can get on with the advanced program of identifying the enemies of the State and selling them to the public.

The Wrestling showman regards all public narratives as equally valid. There is no truth, no real heroes or villains. Just assigned actors in a drama scripted by him. Just predators and prey. And you had better believe his enemies will be scripted as prey.

His critics are playing another game but they just don't realize it yet. Trump now has his public narrative of Trump as victim and Obama as criminal and his own constituency to shout its agreement. He is winning, big time. And it's going to get a lot worse.
Gee, Alex. Do you have any idea what we can do? I hate Rachel Maddow ' s style. Where were these ghouls during the election? They love reporting on Trump. He sets the narrative.
Damn you leftist
Damn you Sanders and your toddlers
Damn you lazy democrats
Damon you Hillary's campaign strategists for laziness
This from all of us who will be hurt by the trumpcare. May all of you suffer greatly.
I had previously proposed that the Russians had blackmail material not only against Trump but against the NSA and other data collecting agencies, and this is why Obama did not intervene more forcefully prior to the election. I suspect this is why even the occasional honest Republican feels hamstrung to act. I believe today we have a bit more confirmation of this theory. "WikiLeaks dumps alleged secret CIA hacking files" ( and elsewhere.) Of course, this is likely just a dribble of the massive amount of info they likely have, but it is a warning: lay off Trump or you'll be sorry.

If this scenario is true, what is the best response?
I worry about the lunatics taking the law into their own hands. Maybe this is what Trump et al are counting on. But Trumpsters, the true believers much like the Pizzagate guy, believe every bizarre thing Trump & his cabal tweets. The Secret Service worked overtime to protect President Obama while in office. I suspect the job is even thornier now. And then, there are the outspoken critics like Mr. Khan, the Never Trump people, Hillary's supporters and the Clintons themselves. All vulnerable to the craziness, legal gymnastics and demented passions.

We are in dangerous, dangerous waters with an unhinged and irresponsible man at the helm.

I weep for all of us.

Damn Anderson Cooper and Oprah too. Corporate media are the number one at fault and if the revolution comes I'd want them at the front of the line for the guillotine. Watch them all fall in line to blather about Trump's accusations of Obama. Smarmy Rachel ' s story will remain in the ghetto and get no traction. Like Joseph I will be happy if I'm wrong. I wish...but past actions predict future ones.
Joseph, may I presume you are on facebook but are pretending not to be so that the CIA and the FBI can't create an additional dossier on you? Otherwise, you really need to read the PizzaGate Facebook page just to make sure there isn't a modicum of truth mixed in with the crap.
The premise that Middle Eastern obscenely rich Oil Barons use children for sex imported from the U.S., and are known to do so by U.S. Politicians who are covering it up in exchange for millions and millions of dollars in political donations is just not that crazy of a meme.
I once was told by a someone that some parts of the Middle East do not think that anal sex is sex, therefore having it with underage kids may not be considered illegal. It may be a stretch for PizzaGate to claim that Sessions was going to go after this alleged kid prostitution ring, but it's not a 100% stretch. You really should go dumpster diving on this particular facebook page to see if any of the dots add up. I was only on the page once and decided against going back for now because I just don't have the time, but a researcher should check it out just to make sure, new links crop up by the hour.
prowlerzee -- "Do you have any idea what we can do?"

I'm sympathetic to your concern here. But understanding the Trump-sociopathic mindset provides some clues.

(1) Trump seeks flattery and failing that seeks to debase and deligitimize his opponents by smear. Claims of criminality against them, especially if they come from some credible third party source such as a DOJ investigation, are especially favoured.

(2) The public narrative depends heavily on the topic. Lose the topic against a predator like Trump and the game is effectively over. That's why it is essential and non-negotiable that the developing topic of "criminal" Obama targetting "innocent victim" Trump be derailed by any means possible. Once it gets up a head of steam it will be Benghazi and Hillary emails all over. Rational arguments will not matter one jot.

(3) The Dems should still try to get the "topic" back. Insist that they want (i) an independent Russia-US political interference inquiry, and (ii) Donald Trump's tax returns. Threaten to tie up every Senate appointment in committee unless those terms are agreed to. Promise to bring gridlock on every issue unless these two demands are not met (and stick to it! Shut the place down if you have to). Make the claims loud and noisy. Cite the Manafort-Firtash links and Trump's Baku deal. Take over the news cycle.

(4) Ordinary citizens can play their part. Confront your GOP or Dem rep and make the same claims. Tell them you will work night and day against them unless they agree.

(5) The media can play their part with a proactive stance. Go to the Spicer briefings and ask:

"The US government is trying extradite Dmitry Firtash to the US on racketerring charges but has been stopped by a Spanish government claim. Firtash is Paul Manafort's business partner and he has links to Russia's leading mafia figure who has been trafficking weapons to al Qaeda. Will Pres.Trump request of Spain to hand over Firtash to US authorities?"

etc.. you get the idea. Anything indirectly to do with Trump and Russia. Put him on the spot in media sessions to take action, provide answers -- and always with the subtext of Trump and Russia.

(6) Trump may ban agencies from press briefings for raising such questions. That is good, not bad. The topic is no longer "Obama the criminal" but "authoritarian Trump attacks the media". Other media agencies should follow up or stand with the banned agencies. Push back is required.

I've dragged on but the key point here is to establish the key "topic" of the public narrative about which political action can be built. Do NOT let Trump define the topic of Obama criminality or the Left will lose. Use any and every means to install another political issue.
Thanks Alex. Barney Frank once told me and one of his constituents you can't buck the media narratives, you can only play off them if you're lucky (or good at it as he was). I came up with two ideas from your list. Fake flattery...mockery is my wheelhouse and I've been working on that angle for a while, bolstered by Michael Moore ' s list of actions which included that as using every weapon in our arsenal, even humor. Your idea of switching the topic to the taxes is day is coming up. To seize or play off the narrative what about The Ides of April? Going to mull on this...Indivisible is very active in my area so if a plan is fleshed out we could roll it out. Thanks again.
Prowlerzee, I worked for a narcissist for 4 nightmare years. So I am very clear on the dangers here. The psychologists are insistent that there is no safe way to engage with a narcissist/sociopath. All you can do is leave them and get far away. Remember, they have been isolated from people, inspecting them from an emotional distance, since they were three. There are few tricks they haven't seen. So don't bother with flattery. They will take it and still turn on you. Humor is good with friends and allies but never with the narcissist; if you are engaging with them they take it as affirming them. Only be serious when dealing with Trump. The psychologists say the correct strategy is to become 'gray' -- dull, unresponsive and non-threatening to them. They get bored and go away. That's not possible here but it does relate to a further strategic point:

(7) The object of any political activist program is not Trump (or his groupies). You can never change him. He may even lie and feign cooperation as he did with his promises to reveal his tax returns. Real cooperation never occurs. No, the point of any action plan must be to get Congress to act against him, either by way of impeachment or running a Russia-Trump inquiry. Confronting Trump should only ever be seen as a means to get Congress to act. And you must still seize the media and establish your own 'topic' narrative.

Trump lives for the control of others. You have to take that away from him. Because narcissists are deeply 'driven' they wear out people's resistance. That's another enemy here -- people will simply get tired and give in. Keep the faith. And kick those Congressional heads.
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