AMERICA IN CRISIS
With Kirstjen Nielsen’s ouster there is no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of the Air Force, no U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, no Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, no Secretary of the Interior, no Administrator of the Small Business Administration, no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director, no Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator, and no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner.
It was July 21, 2016. Candidate Donald Trump stunned America by announcing at the Republican National Convention, “I alone can fix it.”
The response way back then was fear and trepidation, with charges of authoritarianism – and a good dose of mockery, as CNBC offered hours later:
“I alone can fix it.”
Donald Trump’s message tonight was all about how he alone can fix the country. pic.twitter.com/kElUYF5TuK
— CNBC (@CNBC) July 22, 2016
Candidate Hillary Clinton responded as many others did too:
Trump’s dangerously wrong when he says “I alone can fix it.”
Americans haver never put our faith in one man—we put our faith in each other.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 23, 2016
And again on the campaign trail:
In America, we don’t say, “I alone can fix it.”
We say, “We’ll fix it together.” https://t.co/rKkXeL6c5X
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 6, 2016
We were warned. We knew what was about to happen.
And here we are, approaching the three-year anniversary of Trump’s promise, that he would work alone, that he “alone” would “fix” America.
Trump called it “leaving.” Her “resignation” was to be effective immediately. (She later tweeted she will leave April 10.)
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
It’s clear Trump fired Secretary Nielsen. CBS News reports this is part of Stephen Miller’s plan to insert extremists into the administration.
But what is also clear is that President Trump increasingly is operating in that “I alone” mentality.
And America is far more weak as a result.
It’s not a stretch or hyperbolic to say that at this moment in time, heaven forbid we are attacked, there will be chaos – and many lives lost, as a result of how withered the Trump administration is.
With Kirstjen Nielsen’s ouster there is no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of the Air Force, no U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, no White House Chief of Staff, no White House Communications Director, no Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, no Secretary of the Interior, no Administrator of the Small Business Administration, no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director, no Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator, and no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner.
Those are the top positions that are empty.
(“Acting” officials, which are in place for many of these leadership positions, are not the same or the same caliber as Senate-confirmed officials, which most of these positions are supposed to be.)
The Trump administration’s White House web site on his Cabinet (which for some reason omits the Acting Secretary of Defense), says “the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.”
Who’s advising the president when all these positions are effectively empty, or filled with, basically, a substitute, a stand-in, someone not experienced enough for the job?
Not convinced America is in crisis yet?
Think about this.
At the Dept. of Defense, 25% of key positions as of April 1 remain unfilled, according to The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service. At the State Dept., that number jumps to 39%. Homeland Security: 44%.
Granted, some percentage of those are nominated and awaiting Senate confirmation, but if Democrats are holding them up, there’s reason to believe it’s the quality of the nominee that’s the problem, given Trump’s record.
As The Post notes, there are currently 140 key positions requiring Senate confirmation for which the Trump administration has never nominated anyone.
Here’s a small sampling:
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE:
Chief Management Officer, Deputy chief management officer, Undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Principal deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Assistant secretary for international security affairs, Assistant secretary for logistics and materiel readiness.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE:
Undersecretary for public diplomacy, Coordinator for threat reduction programs, U.S. Ambassadors 19 countries, including to three Central American countries: Honduras, Belize, and Panama. Other critical countries without a U.S. Ambassador: Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, and Qatar.
Deputy secretary, Assistant secretary for policy.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:
Undersecretary for industry and security
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
General counsel, Undersecretary, Inspector General
America is in crisis. There are fewer and fewer experts advising the president, and none who are able to tell him “no.”
Image via The White House
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The Frightening Parallels Between QAnon and Hitler’s Nazis
The QAnon conspiracy cult enjoyed a major victory when, on August 11, far-right extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene won a GOP congressional primary in Georgia — and given how overwhelmingly Republican her district is, Greene is likely to win the general election in November and be sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2021. QAnon, known for their outrageous conspiracy theories, believe that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by an international ring of pedophiles and Satanists and that President Donald Trump was put in power to battle them. And Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and an expert on the history of anti-Semitism, believes that there are parallels between QAnon’s outrageous views and the views that Nazis promoted in Germany during the 1930s.
Describing QAnon’s views in an article published by Just Security on September 9, Stanton writes, “A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power. Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.”
According to Stanton, there are countless parallels between QAnon’s conspiracy theories and the anti-Semitism that Adolf Hitler and his Nazis promoted in Germany before and during World War II.
“The Nazis worshiped Adolf Hitler as the leader who would rescue the white race from this secret Jewish plot,” Stanton explains. “Nazi ‘stormtroopers’ — storm detachment, Sturmabteilung — helped bring Hitler to power. Nazi Germany went on to conquer Europe and murder 6 million Jews and millions of Roma, Slavs, LGBTQ and other people.”
Central to Nazi ideology, Stanton notes, was the anti-Semitic 1902 pamphlet, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and Stanton stresses that QAnon’s ideology is a “rebranded version” of that pamphlet.
“QAnon purveys the fantasy that a secret Satan-worshiping cabal is taking over the world,” Stanton observes. “Its members kidnap white children, keep them in secret prisons run by pedophiles, slaughter and eat them to gain power from the essence in their blood. The cabal held the American presidency under the Clintons and (former President Barack) Obama, nearly took power again in 2016, and lurks in a ‘Deep State’ financed by Jews, including George Soros — and in Jews who control the media. They want to disarm citizens and defund the police. They promote abortion, transgender rights and homosexuality. They want open borders so brown illegal aliens can invade America and mongrelize the white race.”
Stanton continues, “QAnon true believers think Donald Trump will rescue America from this Satanic cabal. At the time of ‘The Storm,’ supporters of the cabal will be rounded up and executed. The QAnon conspiracy theory has now spread to neo-Nazis in Germany, where over 200,000 German QAnon accounts infest the internet.”
Stanton goes on to write that QAnon’s critics “are perplexed at how any rational person could fall for such an irrational conspiracy theory.” But when people are suffering hardships, Stanton explains, they “respond to fear and terror” and “blame their misfortunes on scapegoats” — which is what happened in Germany during the 1930s.
“In the 1930s,” Stanton recalls, “millions of Europeans were unemployed. Violent battles between Nazis and communists raged in city streets. Democratic governments were powerless. Fascist dictators ruled Spain and Italy. Hitler took power in Germany and conquered Western Europe. Stalin’s communists conquered the East. The Hitler-Stalin Pact sealed totalitarian rule over most of Europe. It took World War II and the deaths of millions to defeat the Nazis’ genocidal tyranny, and another 50 years to free the gulags of the Soviet Union.”
Stanton adds that in 2020, it is obvious that QAnon’s influence is growing when a QAnon supporter like Greene is “likely” on her way to Congress and President Donald Trump praises her as a “future Republican star.”
“The world has seen QAnon before,” Stanton warns. “It was called Nazism. In QAnon, Nazism wants a comeback.
Experts Gamed Out a Contested 2020 Election — All Scenarios Resulted in ‘Street-Level Violence’ in America
Experts are warning of a dark winter if the 2020 presidential election results are contested.
“On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy,” the Boston Globe reported Saturday. “The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in?”
While former Vice President Joe Biden currently has large leads in public polling on the race, Trump has refused to say he will accept the results if he loses.
A Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who helped organize the Transition Integrity Project explained the situation to the newspaper.
“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” Prof. Rosa Brooks explained. “The law is essentially … it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”
The scenarios are dark.
“Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it,” the Globe explained.
“If it sounds paranoid or outlandish — a war room of seasoned politicos and constitutional experts playing a Washington version of Dungeons and Dragons in which the future of the republic hangs in the balance — they get it,” the newspaper reported. “But, as they finalize a report on what they learned and begin briefing elected officials and others, they insist their warning is serious: A close election this fall is likely to be contested, and there are few guardrails to stop a constitutional crisis, particularly if Trump flexes the considerable tools at his disposal to give himself an advantage.”
Historian Nils Gilman explained the leverage Trump has in a contested election.
“He doesn’t have to win the election,” said Gilman. “He just has to create a plausible narrative that he didn’t lose.”
Read the full report.
Trump’s ‘Nonstop’ Drive for Self-Destruction Is ‘Habitual and Incurable’: Presidential Scholar
The Associated Press has written a lengthy story about how Trump’s chaotic response to the pandemic has led to uncontrolled outbreaks and 130,000 dead Americans in just four months, and it notes that Trump has essentially stopped trying to contain the disease and has instead moved to wage culture wars against monument vandals.
Cal Jillson, a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, tells the AP that the president’s focus on protecting statues at a time when a deadly pandemic is killing thousands of people every week is an act of self-destruction.
“If he could change, he would,” he said. “It’s not helping him now. It’s just nonstop. It is habitual and incurable. He is who he is.”
Jillson also said that Trump’s habit of making a constant spectacle, which helped his presidential campaign in 2016, has become a massive liability during a time of national crisis.
“People would watch Trump and see the instability… the emergencies of his own making he would then claim to have taken care of, and be mildly entertained or at least not deeply worried,” he said. “A lot of that ‘Am I still amused?’ quickly gets to a ‘No’ answer.”
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