Monday, September 30, 2019

Tweets

Trump's tweets have always been vulgar and weird and (too often) kinda nutzo. But his latest volleys have been incredibly disturbing.

He called Adam Schiff a traitor for no rational reason. Political opposition is not treason.

Then Trump -- a sitting president! -- threatened civil war. Harvard professor John Coates pointed out that this tweet is, in and of itself, grounds for impeachment. If you're looking for treason, don't look at Schiff -- look at Trump's threats.

A few hours ago, Deranged Donnie gave us the following:
WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!
All caps in the original. The man is screaming like an Oompa-Loompa on fire. Marcy Wheeler offered a witty rejoinder:
I hope this angry fella never gets close to the President who runs all executive policy in the US or he might retaliate for this alleged policy change.
Note the use of the word "alleged": There was no policy change; Trump is hallucinating. Whistleblower rules and regulations were set by statute -- see 50 USC 3033 (k)(5) -- and can only be changed via new legislation.

Again we come to the question raised yesterday: Does Trump truly believe what he is saying? Did he, as some have alleged, derive his skewed views on the whistleblower rules from Fox or from some right-wing social media account? Or is he simply lying?

This may seem strange to you, but Trump often puts me in mind of Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History, a famous biography of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. As a teen, I sat in the library and read that book in one compulsive sitting, daylight giving way to night. One question became an obsession: Did that guy really believe what he said?

The book never provided an answer. Some readers of Brodie will presume that Smith must have secretly laughed at his followers, while others will think that he fell for his own con.

Since then, I've met a couple of minor-league "Joseph Smiths" face-to-face, and I've encountered a number of others in my readings. Trump is the most extraordinary Joseph Smith in the history of Joseph Smithery. Yet I still don't have an answer to my question...

Does that guy really believe what he's saying?

What we're up against. Politico offers a troubling glimpse of things to come:
As President Donald Trump's presidency is threatened by an impeachment inquiry, the Republican chairmen of two Senate committees, Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, are asking Attorney General William Barr to investigate any ties between Ukraine and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

In a letter to Barr released on Monday, Johnson (R-Wis.) and Grassley (R-Iowa) pressed the Justice Department to probe any connection between Clinton and Ukrainian operatives. They said they have "concerns about foreign assistance in the 2016 election that have not been thoroughly addressed."
They have a plan in place -- the same plan they've always had: When in trouble, demonize the Clintons. It'll probably work, too. Decades of anti-Clinton brainwashing has been monstrously effective -- even on the left.

But that's not all.

The Federalist Society -- the thoroughly evil secret society which controls Trump's judicial appointments --  has given us a very good preview of the new Trumpian "party line":
Did The Inspector General’s Office Help The ‘Whistleblower’ Try To Frame Trump?

The ‘whistleblower’ was not acting alone, and members of the intelligence community inspector general’s office were likely providing an assist in the hoax attempt to bury President Trump.
I think you get the picture. Never mind the fact that the IG is a Trump appointee, and never mind the fact that the Whistleblower gave a very accurate picture of the conversation between Zelensky and Trump. The Federalist Society is doing what Alt Rightists do best: Attacking the man. Ad hominem plus paranoia: That's the conspiracy buff's formula for twisting both facts and minds.

Very well, then. If ad hominem argumentation is permissible, then let's apply that standard to the Federalist Society itself.

The Society is funded by mysterious sources, and it hides its funding in a maze of interconnected organizations. Though it is a private group -- accountable to no-one -- it has somehow has gained effective control of the judiciary, one of the three branches of our government.

As near as any outsider can tell, the money comes from the Koch-topus. Koch money is also behind a number of anti-democratic groups and individuals.

The Federalist Society is run by a fanatical daily-Mass Catholic named Leonard Leo. Don't like Kavanaugh? Say "Thank you, Leo!"

Leo also belongs to Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta (a.k.a. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta or SMOM). Historically, both organizations have been strongly associated with fascism.

Below the asterisks, I'm going to publish a few paragraphs from a book I'm writing. (If you want the footnotes, you'll have to wait for the final work.) You want to talk about a conspiratorial "Deep State"? When Professor Peter Dale Scott invented the term, he was referring to the sort of history that I'm about to lay on you. (Yes, the phrase "Deep State" is another right-wing hijack of a left-winger's terminology.)

This is the real shit. This is not the imaginary bogeyman that the Alex Jonesians and the Trumpers blather about when they seek to manipulate rubes and to cover up illegality. SMOM and the Federalist Society are both part of the true Deep State.

* * *

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta and American intelligence formed an alliance directly after World War II. Cooperation had certain practical benefits – for example, I’ve been told that CIA personnel have used SMOM-issued passports to disguise their travel histories. But that sort of tradecraft does not explain why so many “rock stars” of western espionage – not all of them Catholics -- joined forces with the Knights, including two Directors of Central Intelligence, William Casey and John McCone. (William Colby was offered membership but declined; an unverified report lists George Tenet as a Knight.) Other names of parapolitical interest include OSS chief William “Wild Bill” Donovan, French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches, Vernon Walters, Alexander Haig, J. Peter Grace, and William F. Buckley. The Knights bestowed its highest honors on Reinhard Gehlen, the Nazi intelligence chief who transferred his allegiance to the CIA, and who organized Germany’s postwar service, the BND. Gehlen was not Catholic.

Perhaps the most significant of SMOM’s “spooky” recruits was James J. Angleton. He joined some years before he became the head of CIA counterintelligence. At the height of his power, Angleton created his own “Agency within the Agency,” replete with a separate filing system, an unaccountable wiretapping operation and an assassination capability. He also oversaw the Agency’s relations with the Vatican. As his paranoia deepened, Angleton became obsessed with proving his pet theories that the Sino-Soviet split was a hoax, that various western leaders were secret communists, and that any defectors who disputed him were agents of deception.

(Though born to a Catholic mother, Angleton claimed in his final years to have formulated his own religion. Nevertheless, numerous sources list him as a Knight.)

Angleton’s relationship with the Knights originated in the aftermath of World War II, when he was stationed in Italy. Not long after the OSS transitioned into the CIA, a crisis arose: Italian elections threatened to empower the left – including Italy’s communists, whose brave resistance to fascism had won public sympathy. Neither the Agency nor SMOM would tolerate a leftist victory at the polls. In 1948, Angleton channeled a seemingly-limitless supply of “black” funds toward a Knight named Luigi Gedda, a fanatic who dreamed of reversing the Enlightenment. Gedda headed a paramilitary movement called Catholic Action, which masterminded a massive propaganda effort; they also intimidated opponents with weaponry supplied by the Americans. For the grimmest jobs, Angleton and his comrades recruited mobsters, who murdered labor leaders and opened fire on workers.

Throughout the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s – and perhaps beyond -- the Knights, the spooks and far-right paramilitarists used violence to suppress the Italian left, and not just the communist left. These efforts empowered right-wing terrorists and fascists, such as the notorious Stefano Della Chiaie (a proud “Nazi fascist” and a key figure in Bolivia’s 1982 “Cocaine Coup”), Junio Valerio Borghese (a war criminal who masterminded an attempted fascist coup in Italy in 1970) and Licio Gelli (a Knight who formulated a powerful pseudo-Masonic lodge called P2, which used blackmail to control important politicians and intelligence officers). American General Alexander Haig, another Knight, was one of the architects of the Strategy of Tension, a series of “false flag” attacks intended to blame the Italian left for a series of terror attacks actually committed by the right. Perhaps the worst of these outrages was the 1980 bombing of a train station in Bologna, widely credited to Della Chiaie.

I have offered this far-too-brief history for a simple reason: It isn’t history.

SMOM intersects with the Federalist Society in the person of Leonard Leo, a man who would have horrified John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and many other judges were chosen by members of an organization which has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent fair elections. Then as now, in Europe and in America, covert combatants have waged war on democracy.
Comments:

You reminded me of a poem I composed during the 2004 Bush and Kerry election.
The history books tell us of two Roderigo (Ruy) Lopezes. The better known developed the still-used Ruy Lopez chess opening, the lesser known was Queen Elizabeth's physician. I combined them into one character.


Ruy Lopez, Quo Vadis?


The queen's physician could not save her, 
neither save himself, 
a thing he knew beforehand, 
from Talmud, swine, and wealth.

Ruy knew every alphabet, 
the gaudy faiths that lie 
along an elegant diagonal, 
where gods and ciphers hide.

Ruy Lopez would leave behind 
two secret schools in just three moves: 
the one, called Skull and Bones of Yale, 
the other, no one knows.

At Skull and Bones they only pass 
whoever exceed their master, 
and so succeed him, whence his head 
they slice from his neck in rapture.


 
I haven't heard the name Stefano Della Chiaie in quite some time. I think I first heard the name about twenty years ago on the internet, in the nessie column on the old San Francisco Bay Guardian website. I would recommend the thin and obscure tome, Stefano della Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist.
 
Wow! I haven't even finished the piece, Joe, but your comparison to Joseph Smith took my breath away. I was brought up Mormon and walked away from it in the 60s. It was difficult and painful and I was shunned by family and friends. But I couldn't take the cognitive dissonance any more. It made no f*ucking sense. This was long before Google. I read Fawn Brodie's book over a decade ago and came away with the same question that stays with you. The parallel to Trump is eerie.
 
The Cannonfire site reformatted the poem into a poulter's measure, instead of its original ballad stanza form. Now corrected.


Ruy Lopez, Quo Vadis?

The queen's physician could not save her,

neither save himself,

a thing he knew beforehand,
from Talmud, swine, and wealth.

Ruy knew every alphabet,

the gaudy faiths that lie
along an elegant diagonal,

where gods and ciphers hide.

Ruy Lopez would leave behind

two secret schools in just three moves:
the one, called Skull and Bones of Yale,
the other, no one knows.

At Skull and Bones they only pass
whoever exceed their master,
and so succeed him, whence his head
they slice from his neck in rapture.


 
I've read Peter Dale Scott's "Deep Politics" (as I'm certain you have, Joseph) but not "Deep State," which seems to be more about the evolution of the military-industrial complex, not the Trumpian definition of an entrenched bureaucracy conspiring to undermine him.

When I first heard Trump use the term it rang a bell that I had once encountered it (or some phrase very much like it) in one of the Isaac Deutscher books about the Soviets. Someone in the leadership - Trotsky? - was furious that the Bolshevik revolution was bogged down because so many of the skilled workers in regional government were still bourgeoisie trained under the czar, and he regretted that they had not replaced them immediately with loyal workers. A pseudo-intellectual like Bannon probably knew about that history.

 
A quibble: As far as I know, the term "Deep State" originated with the Turks. Scott popularized it and [likely] coined the related, and probably more domestically applicable, term, "Deep Politics."
 
for a very factual and scholarly review of what is really going on in the US today .. read Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains"

https://history.duke.edu/book/democracy-chains

read then act

Jx
 
The problem with these people is, whether they “really” believe what they say is somehow beside the point. There is just no “really” in their psyches. They actually “really” and genuinely believe until the sell is thru, then go off and laugh and think up a new one. It’s an odd twist of their brain circuits, no use trying to figure a rationale. At least that's what it seems to me, based on experience.
-brumel
 
Delle Chiaie actually just died a couple weeks ago.

-Anon1234
 
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