Если хотите знать, откуда появился президент Дональд Трамп, если хотите проследить долгий извилистый путь (или эскалатор), вознёсший его прямиком в Белый Дом, не смотрите реалити-шоу, не читайте «Твиттер», и не прислушивайтесь к набирающим популярность альтернативным правым. Взгляните на нечто более невероятное — на Ирак. Может, Дональд Трамп и родился в Нью-Йорк-Сити. Возможно, он и возмужал в войнах за обладание недвижимостью в родном городе. Он мог и не уезжать дальше Атлантик-Сити, что в штате Нью-Джерси, чтобы превратить весь мир в игровую рулетку казино и создать магические золотые буквы, что стали сутью его бренда. Он мог ещё больше: не выходя из дома, как чёртик из табакерки выскочить на телеэкран и обогатить бытовую лексику фразой «Вы уволены!». Но вот его президентство — это нечто совершенно иное. Иммигрантское. Оно явилось нам, — абсолютно радикализованное, с пышным начёсом и вечным загаром, — прямиком из Ирака. Несмотря на отрицание того, что он когда-либо выступал за произошедшее в 2003 году вторжение в эту страну, Дональд Трамп — президент, созданный войной. Его восхождение к высшему посту в стране немыслимо без того вторжения, начавшегося столь славно и закончившегося (если оно закончилось вообще) бесчестьем. Он — президент страны, изменённой войной настолько, что народу ещё предстоит это постичь. Надо сказать в личной жизни, он вообще-то избегал войн. В конце концов, на вьетнамскую войну он не явился. И всё же он — президент, которого привела война. Подумайте о нем не как о президенте-хвастуне, а как о президенте-возмездии.
В возрасте 101 года в США скончался американский миллиардер Дэвид Рокфеллер, сообщает Associated Press со ссылкой на его пресс-секретаря. Миллиардер умер в понедельник, 20 марта, в своем доме в городе Покантико-Хиллс (штат Нью-Йорк). Смерть наступила во сне. Дэвид Рокфеллер приходился внуком нефтяному магнату и первому в истории долларовому миллиардеру Джону Рокфеллеру, основателю Standard Oil. Также он являлся младшим братом 41-го вице-президента США Нельсона
Назначение на пост директора национальной разведки США пожилого и провинциального политика Дэна Коутса одновременно событие и малозначимое, и значащее очень много. Все зависит от того, насколько серьезно нужно относиться к словам Трампа о реформе разведывательной системы. Для чего вообще нужен пост директора нацразведки и какое будущее ей сулит фигура Коутса? Накануне сенат США утвердил бывшего сенатора от Индианы Дэниела Коутса директором национальной разведки США. Коутс – политик пожилой (в мае ему стукнет 74 года) и опытный – более 10 лет работал сенатором, четыре срока сидел в палате представителей, входил в спецкомитет по разведке и даже служил послом США в Германии во время президентства Джорджа Буша-младшего. На посту директора национальной разведки он будет координировать деятельность ЦРУ, АНБ, ФБР, 13 других спецслужб и ряд профильных подразделений. О личности Дэниела Рэя (Дэна) Коутса уже написано все, что только возможно. Известны и его крайние взгляды по некоторым этическим и политическим вопросам (что нормально для провинциальных американских политиков его поколения), и связь с «чайной партией», и повышенная протестантская религиозность, и роль жены Марши – «представительницы женщин Индианы», и лоббистская привязанность к некоторым крупным компаниям, не связанным с ВПК, но системообразующим для экономики (в частности, General Electric). Все его высказывания и прошлый опыт работы говорят против какого-либо сотрудничества с Россией, но его нынешняя должность не предусматривает отдельной политической позиции и в любом другом государстве воспринималась бы как полностью техническая. Более того, само существование должности директора национальной разведки – спорная идея. Есть два принципиально противоположных подхода к вопросу о том, как вообще должна функционировать разветвленная разведка крупного государства. По первой версии, разведки должны конкурировать друг с другом, а добываемые ими сведения обязаны дополнять друг друга или же подтверждать (опровергать) во избежание дезинформации. По другой версии, работа разведслужб должна контролироваться или направляться из некоего центра именно для того, чтобы избежать излишнего дублирования и бестолковой конкуренции. У обеих версий есть множество пламенных сторонников, и их аргументы одинаково убедительны. В США позиция директора национальной разведки была создана после террористической атаки 11 сентября 2001 года, поскольку эти трагические события были расценены – и справедливо – как системный провал всей системы без исключения. Американское разведывательное сообщество состоит как минимум из 16 агентств разной системы подчиненности (и это только задекларированные структуры), которые ненавидят слово «координация» и порой враждебны друг другу на бытовом уровне. Тому есть множество причин, в том числе исторических и иррациональных, но суть в том, что масса информации, которая добывается и ими обрабатывается в нечто, никогда не сводилась воедино. Позиция директора была придумана как раз для того, чтобы выдавать все это коллективное творчество руководству страны в обобщенном и обработанном виде. Но это – в идеале. На практике аппарат директора не в силах – и никогда не будет в силах – обработать весь этот массив. Рутина разведки – гора бессмысленных данных, в условиях преувеличенного отношения в США к киберконтролю превратившаяся в терабайты. Сама история существования этого института по большей части сводилась к выбиванию средств на собственное обеспечение и увеличение штата. На данный момент позиция директора предусматривает наличие шестерых помощников, но даже 60 помощников со стоящими перед ним задачами адекватно не справятся. При этом именно директор национальной разведки имеет специального помощника по брифингу президента, хотя ЦРУ и АНБ самостоятельно проводят брифинги, что нивелирует функции центральной разведки. То есть директор как таковой становится исключительно политической фигурой, не способной реально и систематически влиять на работу запутанной системы разведывательного сообщества. А если тебе к тому же 73 года и ты крайне религиозный человек, тратящий много времени на личные дела, толку от тебя как от директора нет никакого. Посему к назначению Дэна Коутса следует относиться как к политическому решению, которое президент Трамп принял по внутренним причинам. Каким именно – это вопрос к американистам, которые обязательно разберут обстоятельства пребывания представителя «чайной партии» и крайнего протестанта в команде Трампа. При этом очевидно, что власть в Штатах постепенно переходит в руки представителей крайнего протестантского направления и мало никому не покажется. Но мы пока не можем определить даже общие черты реформы разведывательного сообщества, объявленной президентом Трампом. Есть, правда, утилитарное соображение. Институт Дирекции национальной разведки может стать не агрегатором данных, как это предусматривал Джордж Буш, а, наоборот, инициатором деятельности разведсообщества. С некоторыми важными поправками это можно сравнить с той функцией, которую в СССР выполнял ГКНТ (Государственный комитет по науке и технике). Ввиду технического отставания от Запада в 70-е и 80-е годы в ряде отраслей СССР остро нуждался в военно-технической информации разведывательного характера. Для этого в ГКНТ аккумулировались запросы от профильных министерств, НИИ и Академии наук, которые затем передавались в КГБ и ГРУ в качестве «заказов». Нечто подобное существует и сейчас, но с акцентом на потребности госкорпораций – по-прежнему формулируется «пакет» того, что разведка должна добыть. Не пойти «туда не знаю куда», а конкретно – нужен ключ на 17 от такого-то крейсера. Расшибись, но достань. Итак, в СССР такого рода «заказы» формировались исключительно в рамках технической и научной информации, что не имеет ничего общего со стратегической разведкой или борьбой с терроризмом. Но возможно, что Дирекция национальной разведки будет осуществлять похожие функции уже в расширенном формате, охватывая все сферы деятельности разведсообщества. Тогда ее существование обретает смысл, как и пребывание в кресле директора престарелого провинциального юриста. В США практически у всех таких политиков когда-то были очень большие амбиции, но Дэн Коутс не смог стать даже министром обороны (его переиграл Дональд Рамсфельд) и довольствовался лоббизмом «движения женщин Индианы». Меж тем разведывательное сообщество США в какой-то момент перехитрило само себя. Колоссальный объем ненужной информации некому обрабатывать, отслеживать и переваривать. Предполагалось, что директор нацразведки будет получать самые важные вещи (в том числе по борьбе с терроризмом) и их анализировать. Эта задумка изначально была ошибочна и предсказуемо провалилась на практике: без системы аналитиков все эти данные только множат хаос, в условиях которого и конкурируют многочисленные спецслужбы США. К примеру, Управление разведки и по борьбе с терроризмом министерства финансов США только хлеб отбирает у, скажем, Управления разведки министерства энергетики. А Управление спутниковой разведки и картографии, как и Национальное управление военно-космической разведки, в гробу видали АНБ с его хакерами и собственной орбитальной группировкой. Назначение Дэна Коутса в такой обстановке можно рассматривать лишь как один из ходов, предваряющих реформу разведывательной системы. И пока сложно даже примерно очертить ее схему, учитывая крайне неприязненное отношение президента Трампа к шпионам в целом. Теги: США, назначения, Конгресс США, спецслужбы, разведка, Дэн Коутс
President Blowback Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com If you want to know where President Donald Trump came from, if you want to trace the long winding road (or escalator) that brought him to the Oval Office, don’t look to reality TV or Twitter or even the rise of the alt-right. Look someplace far more improbable: Iraq. Donald Trump may have been born in New York City. He may have grown to manhood amid his hometown’s real estate wars. He may have gone no further than Atlantic City, New Jersey, to casino-ize the world and create those magical golden letters that would become the essence of his brand. He may have made an even more magical leap to television without leaving home, turning “You’re fired!” into a household phrase. Still, his presidency is another matter entirely. It’s an immigrant. It arrived, fully radicalized, with its bouffant over-comb and eternal tan, from Iraq. Despite his denials that he was ever in favor of the 2003 invasion of that country, Donald Trump is a president made by war. His elevation to the highest office in the land is inconceivable without that invasion, which began in glory and ended (if ended it ever did) in infamy. He’s the president of a land remade by war in ways its people have yet to absorb. Admittedly, he avoided war in his personal life entirely. He was, after all, a Vietnam no-show. And yet he’s the president that war brought home. Think of him not as President Blowhard but as President Blowback. “Go Massive. Sweep It All Up” To grasp this, a little escalator ride down memory lane is necessary ― all the way back to 9/11; to, that is, the grimmest day in our recent history. There’s no other way to recall just how gloriously it all began than amid the rubble. You could, if you wanted, choose the moment three days after the World Trade Center towers collapsed when, bullhorn in hand, President George W. Bush ascended part of that rubble pile in downtown Manhattan, put his arm around a firefighter, and shouted into a bullhorn, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you!... And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” If I were to pick the genesis of Donald Trump’s presidency, however, I think I would choose an even earlier moment ― at a Pentagon partially in ruins thanks to hijacked American Airlines flight 77. There, only five hours after the attack, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, already aware that the destruction around him was probably Osama bin Laden’s responsibility, ordered his aides (according to notes one of them took) to begin planning for a retaliatory strike against... yes, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His exact words: “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” And swept almost instantly into the giant dustbin of what would become the Global War on Terror (or GWOT), as ordered, would be something completely unrelated to 9/11 (not that the Bush administration ever admitted that). It was, however, intimately related to the deepest dreams of the men (and woman) who oversaw foreign policy in the Bush years: the elimination of Iraq’s autocratic ruler, Saddam Hussein. Yes, there was bin Laden to deal with and the Taliban and Afghanistan, too, but that was small change, almost instantly taken care of with some air power, CIA dollars delivered to Afghan warlords, and a modest number of American troops. Within months, Afghanistan had been “liberated,” bin Laden had fled the country, the Taliban had laid down their arms, and that was that. (Who in Washington then imagined that 15 years later a new administration would be dealing with a request from the 12th U.S. military commander in that country for yet more troops to shore up a failing war there?) Within months, in other words, the decks were clear to pursue what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney & Co. saw as their destiny, as the key to America’s future imperial glory: the taking down of the Iraqi dictator. That, as Rumsfeld indicated at the Pentagon that day, was always where they were truly focused. It was what some of them had dreamed of since the moment, in the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, when President George H.W. Bush stopped the troops short of a march on Baghdad and left Hussein, America’s former ally and later Hitlerian nemesis, in power. The invasion of March 2003 was, they had no doubt, to be an unforgettable moment in America’s history as a global power (as it would indeed turn out to be, even if not in the way they imagined). The U.S. military that George W. Bush would call “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known” was slated to liberate Iraq via a miraculous, high-tech, shock-and-awe campaign that the world would never forget. This time, unlike in 1991, its troops would enter Baghdad, Saddam would go down in flames, and it would all happen without the help of the militaries of 28 other countries. It would instead be an act of imperial loneliness befitting the last superpower on planet Earth. The Iraqis would, of course, greet us as liberators and we would set up a long-term garrison state in the oil heartlands of the Middle East. At the moment the invasion was launched, in fact, the Pentagon already had plans on the drawing boards for the building of four permanent U.S. mega-bases (initially endearingly labeled “enduring camps”) in Iraq on which thousands of U.S. troops could hunker down for an eternity. At the peak of the occupation, there would be more than 500 bases, ranging from tiny combat outposts to ones the size of small American towns ― many transformed after 2011 into the ghost towns of a dream gone mad until a few were recently reoccupied by U.S. troops in the battle against the Islamic State. In the end, a victory-less permanent war across the Greater Middle East did indeed come home. In the wake of the friendly occupation of now-democratic (and grateful) Iraq, the hostile Syria of the al-Assad family would naturally be between a hammer and an anvil (American-garrisoned Iraq and Israel), while the fundamentalist Iranian regime, after more than two decades of implacable anti-American hostility, would be done for. The neocon quip of that moment was: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” Soon enough ― it was inevitable ― Washington would dominate the Greater Middle East from Pakistan to North Africa in a way no great power ever had. It would be the beginning of a Pax Americana moment on planet Earth that would stretch on for generations to come. Such was the dream. You, of course, remember the reality, the one that led to a looted capital; Saddam’s army tossed out on the streets jobless to join the uprisings to come; a bitter set of insurgencies (Sunni and Shia); civil war (and local ethnic cleansing); a society-wide reconstruction program overseen by American warrior corporations linked to the Pentagon that resulted in vast boondoggle projects that achieved little and reconstructed nothing; prisons from hell (including Abu Ghraib) that bred yet more insurgents; and finally, years down the line, the Islamic State and the present version of American war, now taking place in Syria as well as Iraq and slated to ramp up further in the early days of the Trump era. Meanwhile, as our new president reminded us recently in a speech to Congress, literally trillions of dollars that might have been spent on actual American security (broadly understood) were squandered on a failed military project that left this country’s infrastructure in disarray. All in all, it was quite a record. Thought of a certain way, in return for the destruction of part of the Pentagon and a section of downtown Manhattan that was turned to rubble, the U.S. would set off a series of wars, conflicts, insurgencies, and burgeoning terror movements that would transform significant parts of the Greater Middle East into failed or failing states, and their cities and towns, startling numbers of them, into so much rubble. Once upon a time, all of this seemed so distant to Americans in a Global War on Terror in which President Bush quickly urged citizens to show their patriotism not by sacrificing or mobilizing or even joining the military, but by visiting Disney World and reestablishing patterns of pre-9/11 consumption as if nothing had happened. (“Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.”) And indeed, personal consumption would rise significantly that October 2001. The other side of the glory-to-come in those years of remarkable peace in the United States was to be the passivity of a demobilized populace that (except for periodic thank-yous to its military) would have next to nothing to do with distant wars, which were to be left to the pros, even if fought to victory in their name. That, of course, was the dream. Reality proved to be another matter entirely. Invading America In the end, a victory-less permanent war across the Greater Middle East did indeed come home. There was all the new hardware of war ― the stingrays, the MRAPs, the drones, and so on ― that began migrating homewards, and that was the least of it. There was the militarization of America’s police forces, not to speak of the rise of the national security state to the status of an unofficial fourth branch of government. Home, too, came the post-9/11 fears, the vague but unnerving sense that somewhere in the world strange and incomprehensible aliens practicing an eerie religion were out to get us, that some of them had near-super powers that even the world’s greatest military couldn’t crush, and that their potential acts of terror were Topeka’s greatest danger. (It mattered little that actual Islamic terror was perhaps the least of the dangers Americans faced in their daily lives.) All of this reached its crescendo (at least thus far) in Donald Trump. Think of the Trump phenomenon, in its own strange way, as the culmination of the invasion of 2003 brought home bigly. His would be a shock-and-awe election campaign in which he would “decapitate” his rivals one by one. The New York real estate, hotel, and casino magnate who had long swum comfortably in the waters of the liberal elite when he needed to and had next to nothing to do with America’s heartland would be as alien to its inhabitants as the U.S. military was to Iraqis when it invaded. And yet he would indeed launch his own invasion of that heartland on his private jet with its gold-plated bathroom fixtures, sweeping up all the fears that had been gathering in this country since 9/11 (nurtured by both politicians and national security state officials for their own benefit). And those fears would ring a bell so loud in that heartland that it would sweep him into the White House. In November 2016, he took Baghdad, USA, in high style. In this context, let’s think for a moment about how strangely the invasion of Iraq, in some pretzeled form, blew back on America. Like the neocons of the Bush administration, Donald Trump had long dreamed of his moment of imperial glory, and as in Afghanistan and again in Iraq in 2001 and 2003, when it arrived on November 8, 2016, it couldn’t have seemed more glorious. We know of those dreams of his because, for one thing, only six days after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in the 2012 election campaign, The Donald first tried to trademark the old Reagan-inspired slogan, “Make America great again.” Like George W. and Dick Cheney, he was intent on invading and occupying the oil heartlands of the planet which, in 2003, had indeed been Iraq. By 2015-2016, however, the U.S. had entered the energy heartlands sweepstakes, thanks to fracking and other advanced methods of extracting fossil fuels that seemed to be turning the country into “Saudi America.” Add to this Trump’s plans to further fossil-fuelize the continent and you certainly have a competitor to the Middle East. In a sense, you might say, adapting his description of what he would have preferred to do in Iraq, that Donald Trump wants to “keep” our oil. Like the U.S. military in 2003, he, too, arrived on the scene with plans to turn his country of choice into a garrison state. Almost the first words out of his mouth on riding that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 involved a promise to protect Americans from Mexican “rapists” by building an unforgettably impregnable “great wall” on the country’s southern border. From this he never varied even when, in funding terms, it became apparent that, from the Coast Guard to airport security to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as president he would be cutting into genuine security measures to build his “big, fat, beautiful wall.” This is evidently what “America First” actually means: a country walled off and walled in. It’s clear, however, that his urge to create a garrison state went far beyond a literal wall. It included the build-up of the U.S. military to unprecedented heights, as well as the bolstering of the regular police, and above all of the border police. Beyond that lay the urge to wall Americans off in every way possible. His fervently publicized immigration policies (less new, in reality, than they seemed) should be thought of as part of a project to construct another kind of “great wall,” a conceptual one whose message to the rest of the world was striking: You are not welcome or wanted here. Don’t come. Don’t visit. All this was, in turn, fused at the hip to the many irrational fears that had been gathering like storm clouds for so many years, and that Trump (and his alt-right companions) swept into the already looted heartland of the country. In the process, he loosed a brand of hate (including shootings, mosque burnings, a raft of bomb threats, and a rise in hate groups, especially anti-Muslim ones) that, historically speaking, was all-American, but was nonetheless striking in its intensity in our present moment. Combined with his highly publicized “Muslim bans” and prominently publicized acts of hate, the Trump walling-in of America quickly hit home. A drop in foreigners who wanted to visit this country was almost instantly apparent as the warning signs of a tourism “Trump slump” registered, business travel bookings took an instant $185 million hit, and the travel industry predicted worse to come. This is evidently what “America First” actually means: a country walled off and walled in. Think of the road traveled from 2003 to 2017 as being from sole global superpower to potential super-pariah. Thought of another way, Donald Trump is giving the hubristic imperial isolation of the invasion of Iraq a new meaning here in the homeland. And don’t forget “reconstruction,” as it was called after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In relation to the United States, the bedraggled land now in question whose infrastructure recently was given a D+ grade on a “report card” issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Donald Trump promises a trillion-dollar infrastructure program to rebuild America’s highways, tunnels, bridges, airports, and the like. If it actually comes about, count on one thing: it will be handed over to some of the same warrior corporations that reconstructed Iraq (and other corporate entities like them), functionally guaranteeing an American version of the budget-draining boondoggle that was Iraq. As with that invasion in the spring of 2003, in 2017 we are still in the (relative) sunshine days of the Trump era. But as in Iraq, so here 14 years later, the first cracks are already appearing, as this country grows increasingly riven. (Think Sunni vs. Shia.) And one more thing as you consider the future: the blowback wars out of which Donald Trump and the present fear-gripped garrison state of America arose have never ended. In fact, just as under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, so under Donald Trump, it seems they never will. Already the Trump administration is revving up American military power in Yemen, Syria, and potentially Afghanistan. So whatever the blowback may have been, you’ve only seen its beginning. It’s bound to last for years to come. There’s just one phrase that could adequately sum all this up: Mission accomplished! Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=58c18809e4b054a0ea68a53e,589b2d29e4b02bbb1816c1cd,57d1b17de4b00642712c5c29,58b58ac5e4b060480e0bee32 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Inder Comar is a San Francisco lawyer whose usual clients are tech startups: could he bring the only case against the planners of the 2002 war?In the lobby of the James R Browning courthouse in San Francisco, there was a digital sign listing that day’s cases. At 9.30am on Monday 12 December last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit would hear Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp v Wired For Sound Karaoke and DJ, a case involving a karaoke trademark infringement. At 10am they would entertain Craig Yates v Sweet Potato Enterprise, Inc, a case involving a disabled man’s access to a Popeyes chicken franchise. And at 11.30 they would hear Sundus Saleh v George Bush et al, the only case yet filed in the US that questions the legality of the war in Iraq.The plaintiff was Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi teacher, artist and mother of five, who had been forced to leave Iraq in the wake of the invasion and the country’s subsequent devolution into civil war. Once prosperous, her family had lived in poverty in Amman, Jordan, since 2005. Continue reading...
Около трех с половиной тысяч сексуальных нападений было официально зафиксировано в рядах армии Соединённых Штатов Америки в 2012 году. При этом анонимные исследования показали, что не менее 26 тысяч эпизодов так и остались не обнародованными. Об этом сообщил журналистам глава Пентагона Чак Хейгел. Подробнее о явлении гомосексуализма в статье: Статистика о гомосексуализме Впервые власти США […]
Групповые гомосексуальные изнасилования, одно из наиболее болезненных явлений в американской армии, получают всё более широкую огласку в обществе. При этом налицо тенденция — изнасилованных мужчин-военнослужащих становится всё больше. В 2003 году американское министерство по делам военнослужащих-ветеранов выявило свыше 30 тыс. отставных военных, получивших в армии сексуальную травму, в 2009 году эта цифра составила уже 50 тыс. […]
Fighting the Forever WarCross-posted with TomDispatch.com In his inaugural address, President Trump described a dark and dismal United States, a country overrun by criminal gangs and drugs, a nation stained with the blood seeping from bullet-ridden corpses left at scenes of “American carnage.” It was more than a little jarring. Certainly, drug gangs and universally accessible semi-automatic weapons do not contribute to a better life for most people in this country. When I hear the words “American carnage,” however, the first thing I think of is not an endless string of murders taking place in those mysterious “inner cities” that exist only in the fevered mind of Donald Trump. The phrase instead evokes the non-imaginary deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in real cities and rural areas outside the United States. It evokes the conversion of millions of ordinary people into homeless refugees. It reminds me of the places where American wars seem never to end, where new conflicts seem to take up just as the old ones are in danger of petering out. These sites of carnage are the cities and towns, mountains and deserts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and other places that we don’t even find out about unless we go looking. They are the places where the United States fights its endless wars. During the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump often sounded like a pre-World War II-style America First isolationist, someone who thought the United States should avoid foreign military entanglements. Today, he seems more like a man with a uniform fetish. He’s referred to his latest efforts to round up undocumented immigrants in this country as “a military operation.” He’s similarly stocked his cabinet with one general still on active duty, various retired generals, and other military veterans. His pick for secretary of the interior, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, served 23 years as a Navy SEAL. Clearly, these days Trump enjoys the company of military men. He’s more ambivalent about what the military actually does. On the campaign trail, he railed against the folly that was ― and is ― the (second) Iraq War, maintaining with questionable accuracy that he was “totally against” it from the beginning. It’s not clear, however, just where Trump thinks the folly lies ― in invading Iraq in the first place or in failing to “keep” Iraq’s oil afterward. It was a criticism he reprised when he introduced Mike Pompeo as his choice to run the CIA. “Mike,” he explained, “if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place.” Not to worry, however, since as he also suggested to Pompeo, “Maybe we’ll have another chance.” Maybe the wrong people had just fought the wrong Iraq war, and Donald Trump’s version will be bigger, better, and even more full of win! Perhaps Trump’s objection is simply to wars we don’t win. As February ended, he invited the National Governors Association to share his nostalgia for the good old days when “everybody used to say ‘we haven’t lost a war’ ― we never lost a war ― you remember.” Now, according to the president, “We never win a war. We never win. And we don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.” The question is, which would Trump prefer: Winning or not fighting at all? There’s probably more than a hint of an answer in his oft-repeated campaign promise that we’re “going to win so much” we’ll “get tired of winning.” If his fetish for winning ― whether it’s trade wars or shooting wars ― makes you feel a little too exposed to his sexual imagination, you’re probably right. In one of his riffs on the subject, he told his audience that they would soon be pleading they had “a headache” to get him to stop winning so much ― as if they were 1950s housewives trying to avoid their bedroom duty. But daddy Trump knows best: “And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again.’ You’re gonna say, ‘Please.’ I said, ‘Nope, nope. We’re gonna keep winning.’” There’s more than a hint of where we’re headed in Trump’s recent announcement that he’ll be asking Congress for a nearly 10% increase in military spending, an additional annual $54 billion for the Pentagon as part of what he calls his “public safety and national security budget.” You don’t spend that kind of money on toys unless you intend to play with them. Maybe the wrong people had just fought the wrong Iraq war, and Donald Trump’s version will be bigger, better, and even more full of win! Trump explained his reasoning, in his trademark idiolect, his unique mangling of syntax and diction: “This is a landmark event, a message to the world, in these dangerous times of American strength, security, and resolve. We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war and when called upon to fight in our name only do one thing, win. We have to win.” So it does look like the new president intends to keep on making war into the eternal future. But it’s worth remembering that our forever wars didn’t begin with Donald J. Trump, not by a long shot. The Forever Wars Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel, The Forever War, which won the three major science fiction prizes, a Hugo, a Nebula, and a Locus, was about a soldier involved in a war between human beings and the Taurans, an alien race. Because of the stretching of time when traveling at near light-speed (as Einstein predicted), while soldiers like Haldeman’s hero passed a few years at a time at a front many light-years from home, the Earth they’d left behind experienced the conflict as lasting centuries. Published just after the end of the Vietnam War ― fought for what seemed to many Americans like centuries in a land light-years away ― The Forever War was clearly a reflection of Haldeman’s own experience in Vietnam and his return to an unrecognizable United States, all transposed to space. In 1965, Haldeman had been drafted into that brutal conflict, probably one of those that Donald Trump thinks we didn’t “fight to win.” It certainly seemed like a forever war while it lasted, especially if you included the French colonial war that preceded it. But it did finally end, decisively, with an American loss (although, in a sense, it’s still being fought out by the thousands of Vietnam veterans who live on the streets of our country). After the attacks of 9/11 and George W. Bush’s declaration of a Global War on Terror, some people found the title of Haldeman’s novel a useful shorthand for what seemed to be an era of permanent war. It gave us a way of describing then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s vision of a new kind of war against an enemy located, as he told NBC’s Meet the Press on September 30, 2001, “not just in Afghanistan. It is in 50 or 60 countries and it simply has to be liquidated. It has to end. It has to go out of business.” More than 15 years later, after a decade and a half of forever war in the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are still in business, along with a set of new enemies, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon; al-Shabaab in Somalia; and ISIS, which, if we are to believe the president and his cronies, is pretty much everywhere, including Mexico. In a war against a tactic (terrorism) or an emotion (terror), it’s hardly surprising that our enemies have just kept proliferating, and with them, the wars. It’s as if Washington were constantlybringing jets, drones, artillery, and firepower of every sort to bear on a new set of Taurans in another galaxy. Decades before Haldeman’s Forever War, George Orwell gave us an unforgettable portrait of a society controlled by stoking permanent hatred for a rotating cast of enemies. In 1984, the countries of the world have coalesced into three super-nations ― Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Winston Smith, the novel’s protagonist, recalls that, since his childhood, “war had been literally continuous, though strictly speaking it had not always been the same war.” Smith joins thousands of other citizens of Oceania in their celebration of Hate Week and observes the slick substitution of one enemy for another on the sixth day of that week: “...when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the two thousand Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces ― at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.” Except that there is no actual announcement. Rather, the Party spokesman makes the substitution in mid-oration: “The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried onto the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker’s hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia!” And it had always been thus. “Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” 1984 is, of course, a novel. In our perfectly real country, human memories work better than they do in Orwell’s Oceania. Or do they? The United States is at war with Iraq. The United States has always been at war with Iraq. Except, of course, when the United States sided with Iraq in its vicious, generation-destroying conflict with Iran in the 1980s. Who today remembers Ronald Reagan’s “tilt toward Iraq” and against Iran? They’re so confusing, those two four-letter countries that start with “I.” Who can keep them straight, even now that we’ve tilted back toward what’s left of Iraq ― Trump has even removed it from his latest version of his Muslim ban list ― and threateningly against Iran? Many Americans do seem to adapt to a revolving enemies list as easily as the citizens of Oceania. Every few years, I ask my college students where the terrorists who flew the planes on 9/11 came from. At the height of the (second and still unfinished) Iraq War, when many of them had brothers, sisters, lovers, even fathers fighting there, my students were certain the attackers had all been Iraqis. A few years later, when the “real men” were trying to gin up a new opportunity to “go to Tehran,” my students were just as sure the terrorists had been from Iran. I haven’t asked in a couple of years now. I wonder whether today I’d hear that they were from Syria, or maybe that new country, the Islamic State? I don’t blame my students for not knowing that the 9/11 attackers included 15 Saudis, two men from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one Egyptian, and one Lebanese. It’s not a fact that’s much trumpeted anymore. You certainly wouldn’t guess it from where our military aid and American-made weaponry goes. After Afghanistan ($3.67 billion) and Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt is the next largest recipient of that aid at $1.31 billion in 2015. Of course, military aid to other countries is a windfall for U.S. arms manufacturers. Like food money and other forms of foreign aid from Washington, the countries receiving it are often obligated to spend it on American products. In other words, much military “aid” is actually a back-door subsidy to companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Being wealthy oil states, the Saudis and the UAE, of course, don’t need subsidies. They buy their U.S. arms with their own money ― $3.3 billion and $1.3 billion worth of purchases respectively in 2015. And they’re putting that weaponry to use, with U.S. connivance and ― yes, it should make your head spin in an Orwellian fashion ― occasional support from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, by taking sides in a civil war in Yemen. U.S.-made fighter planes and cluster bombs have put more than seven million Yemenis in imminent danger of starvation. When did our forever war begin? When did we start to think of the president as commander-in-chief first, and executor of the laws passed by Congress only a distant second? War Without End, When Did You Begin? When did our forever war begin? When did we start to think of the president as commander-in-chief first, and executor of the laws passed by Congress only a distant second? Was it after 9/11? Was it during that first Iraq war that spanned a few months of 1990 and 1991? Or was it even earlier, during the glorious invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury? That was the first time the military intentionally ― and successfully ― kept the press sequestered from the action for the first 48 hours of that short-lived war. They did the same thing in 1989, with the under-reported invasion of Panama, when somewhere between 500 and 3,500 Panamanians died so that the United States could kidnap and try an erstwhile ally and CIA asset, the unsavory dictator of that country, Manuel Noriega. Or was it even earlier? The Cold War was certainly a kind of forever war, one that began before World War II ended, as the United States used its atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to, as we now say, “send a message” to the Soviet Union. And it didn’t end until that empire imploded in 1991. Maybe it began when Congress first abdicated its constitutional right and authority to declare war and allowed the executive branch to usurp that power. The Korean War (1950-1953) was never declared. Nor were the Vietnam War, the Grenada invasion, the Panama invasion, the Afghan War, the first and second Iraq wars, the Libyan war, or any of the wars we’re presently involved in. Instead of outright declarations, we’ve had weasely, after-the-fact congressional approvals, or Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, that fall short of actual declarations of war. The framers of the Constitution understood how important it was to place the awesome responsibility for declaring war in the hands of the legislative branch ― of, that is, a deliberative body elected by the people ― leaving the decision on war neither to the president nor the military. Indeed, one of the charges listed against King George III in the Declaration of Independence was: “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.” Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the others who met in the stifling heat of that 1776 Philadelphia summer, close enough to battle to hear the boom of British cannons, decided they could no longer abide a king who allowed the military to dominate a duly constituted civil government. For all their many faults, they were brave men who, even with war upon them, recognized the danger of a government controlled by those whose sole business is war. Since 9/11, this country has experienced at least 15 years of permanent war in distant lands. Washington is now a war capital. The president is, first and foremost, the commander-in-chief. The power of the expanding military (as well as paramilitary intelligence services and drone assassination forces, not to mention for-profit military contractors of all sorts) is emphatically in presidential hands. Those hands, much discussed in the 2016 election campaign, are now Donald Trump’s and, as he indicated in his recent address to Congress, he seems hell-bent on restoring the military to the superiority it enjoyed under King George. That is a danger of the first order. Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Fareed Zakaria, Wash PostThe first time I met Gen. David Petraeus, he said something that surprised me. It was the early days of the Iraq War and, although things were not going well, he had directed his region in the north skillfully and effectively. I asked him whether he wished he had more troops. Petraeus was too politically savvy to criticize the Donald Rumsfeld “light footprint” strategy, so he deflected the question, answering it a different way. “I wish we had more Foreign Service officers, aid professionals and other kinds of non-military specialists,” he said. The heart of the...
OUR HAWKISH ‘WORLD WAR T’ ELITES: On transgender bathroom access in schools, ruling class waging war on common sense. To mash-up Donald Rumsfeld, Thomas Sowell, and Hillary Clinton, when you’re the anointed, you go to war against the deplorables you have.
George Packer, The New YorkerWhenever I think of H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s choice to be his national-security adviser, I picture him throwing a football with his soldiers on a muddy field outside Tal Afar, Iraq. His pale head is clean-shaven, and he has a boyish grin on his thickly lined face, as if he knows he’s in trouble but doesn’t really mind. That was in early 2006, at a dark moment in the Iraq War. Colonel McMaster had spent the first two years of the war at Central Command under General John Abizaid, trying to get their boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, to acknowledge that...
“I’ve never seen anything quite like” Trump’s approach to national security, says a former counterterrorism adviser to three presidents.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like” Trump’s approach to national security, says a former counterterrorism adviser to three presidents.
Last week’s raid was an embarrassing and costly failure—in the context of a much larger one.
В Украине часть политического класса поспешила забронировать себе места у барского стола, за которым президенты Дональд Трамп и Владимир Путин, возможно, займутся переделом мира, и где Украина окажется среди главных блюд, чтобы успеть подхватить остатки. […]
Like what you read below? Sign up for HUFFPOST HILL and get a cheeky dose of political news every evening! Today is President Obama’s last full day in office, and Joe Biden’s last chance to wink and make finger guns at all the White House presidential portraits. Donald Trump wants to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts ― and here we thought him appointing the guy who creating that painting of Obama golfing while the world explodes would be the worst possible outcome for the agency. And the military denied the transition missile launchers and tanks for a military parade, a slight Trump’s people will surely remember if the military ever asks for Lee Greenwood or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to undertake a black ops mission. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 19th, 2017: DEAR LEADER NOT GETTING THE INAUGURATION HE WANTED - Christ almighty, at least throw in some t-shirt cannons in the mix. If there’s one thing we thought this president would bring, it’d be more t-shirt cannons. Jessica Schulberg: “During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. ‘They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,’ the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing. The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.” [HuffPost] Reminder: The roads and Metro are going to be all $*ed up. TRUMP RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO BACK OUT - He’s here. Philip Rucker and John Wagner: “President-elect Donald Trump arrived in Washington with flair on Thursday, formally launching the inaugural festivities that will lead to his swearing in as the nation’s 45th president on Friday…. ‘We have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled,’ Trump said in a characteristically grandiose declaration before several hundred supporters, lawmakers and allies at an official luncheon.” [WaPo] Trump is super-unpopular. We’ve never really seen anything like this for a new president. The National Archives today published the letters Bill Clinton and George W. Bush wrote to their successors. OBAMA PROVED NOT TO BE SUPERHUMAN - Sam Stein: “On a frigid day in January 2009, after the chief justice of the Supreme Court bungled the oath of office, Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address to a crowd of millions and implored them to understand the gravity of the moment. The time for ‘recriminations and worn-out dogmas’ had ended, the president declared, in a nod to the bitter campaign that had just concluded and the crumbling U.S. economy he was inheriting. ‘We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.’ Eight years later, the economy has improved. But those childish things very much remain, and they have clouded Obama’s swan song in office and complicated his legacy.” [HuffPost] Obama pens letter on the non-closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay: “[H]istory will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end.” [HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly] CHAFFETZ SKIPPED MEETING WITH ETHICS WATCHDOG - This time he means it, though. Dana Liebelson: “ Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, told reporters last week that a government ethics official who had criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deal with his potential conflicts of interest refused to meet with him. Chaffetz even threatened to subpoena the official, Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub. ‘This is not going to be an optional exercise,’ Chaffetz said. But it was Chaffetz who missed a previously discussed meeting in early December, according to Office of Government Ethics emails The Huffington Post obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. And the ethics office now says the congressman is trying to keep an upcoming meeting — proposed for Jan. 23 — closed to the public.” [HuffPost] MNUCHIN LEFT OUT MASSIVE AMOUNT OF ASSETS IN DISCLOSURES - Y’know what they say, a beach house here, a beach house there… Alan Rappeport: “Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions. The revelation came hours before Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, began testifying on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, which has historically been bipartisan in its demands for transparency from nominees. Mr. Mnuchin was ready to outline his vision for the economy and defend himself against claims that he headed a bank that ran a ‘foreclosure machine’ during the financial crisis.” [NYT] Like HuffPost Hill? Then order Eliot’s new book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide To Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing, and Sometimes Hilarious Government Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It’s free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to [email protected] Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill RICK PERRY WILL TAKE YOUR POWER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH - Remember how Rick Perry was going to be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee? Kate Sheppard: “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he no longer wants to eliminate the Cabinet department he now wants to lead. At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Perry said the remarks he made while running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 ― which included vowing to abolish the Energy Department and forgetting its name ― ‘do not reflect my current thinking.’ ‘After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,’ Perry told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in his opening remarks. Democrats on the committee probably won’t let Perry forget his previous views, however. Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the panel, mentioned it in her own opening statement. ‘I suspect that now having had a chance to learn about the importance of this department, you have a very different opinion,’ she said.” [HuffPost] Who says Congress is boring? “Referring to a private meeting they’d had earlier, Franken (D-Minn.) asked Perry, ‘Did you enjoy meeting me?’ Without a trace of irony, Perry replied, ‘I hope you’re as much fun on that dais as you were on that couch.’ After the crowd erupted in laughs, Perry quickly backtracked. ‘May I rephrase that?’ he said. ‘I think we’ve found our ‘Saturday Night Live’ sound bite.’ ‘Oh my lord,’ Franken replied. ‘Let’s move on.’” [HuffPost’s Alana Horowitz Satlin] FIRE UP THE TACO BOWL, BOYS - Not to fret, we’re sure Alberto Gonzalez will be making plenty of visits to advise how best to remove political enemies. Elise Foley: “Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Latinos shouldn’t be worried that President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet will be the first in decades to lack a Latino member ― they should be more concerned with whether he’s picking ‘the best and the brightest.’ Trump announced his pick for the next agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Thursday morning. It was the last open spot in his largely white, male proposed Cabinet, and the last chance for Trump to include a Latino in his Cabinet, as every president has done since 1988. Spicer responded to a question about Latinos on the Cabinet by pointing to other non-Latino minorities in the Cabinet and arguing against looking at one group rather than diversity in general, which he said will likely be ‘second to none’ under Trump.” [HuffPost] FROM THE SAME PARTY THAT GUTTED AN ETHICS OFFICE ON ITS FIRST DAY OF WORK COMES… Austin Wright and Martin Matishak: “Sen. Mark Warner couldn’t believe what his Republican counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee had just done. With no advance notice, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) declared to reporters that his panel wouldn’t look into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the election. So Warner, a Virginia Democrat who is the panel’s ranking member, promptly enlisted every Democrat on the committee to oppose Burr’s move and presumably boycott the investigation if he didn’t reverse himself, according to congressional sources. Barely 24 hours later, Burr issued a lengthy statement backtracking on his own comments. The committee would indeed examine ‘links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns’ as part of its larger election-hacking probe, Burr wrote in a joint statement with Warner.” [Politico] TRUMP NOMINEES NOT HELD TO STANDARD SCRUTINY - Paul Blumenthal and Christina Wilkie: “Three of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet positions on Wednesday revealed that they had engaged in illegal or questionable behavior that prior administrations have considered serious enough to necessitate a nominee’s withdrawal. Taken together, the disclosures by Wilbur Ross, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) offered a likely preview of a presidential administration that appears confident in its ability to cross legal and ethical boundaries without consequences…. After President Bill Clinton came to the White House, he had to withdraw two nominees for attorney general after it came to light that they employed undocumented household workers. In 1993, corporate lawyer Zoe Baird withdrew her nomination after it was revealed she employed two undocumented Peruvian workers and failed to pay their payroll taxes. Clinton’s next choice to head the Department of Justice, federal judge Kimba Wood, had also employed an undocumented household worker. She too withdrew her nomination. In 2001, President George W. Bush chose Linda Chavez to head the Department of Labor, but she also withdrew after it was revealed she’d sheltered an undocumented woman from Guatemala in the 1990s who was trying to escape an abusive relationship.” [HuffPost] WE JUST CAN’T WITH THIS - ajkdsfj;wuhgiy Nick Wing: “Corey Lewandowski, the onetime Donald Trump campaign manager turned K Street swamp dweller, is shocked and appalled that a Democratic congressman would challenge his former boss’ legitimacy…. ‘Can you imagine just for a second if a Republican congressman would have gone out and said this about Barack Obama and continued that narrative?’ said Lewandowski. ‘It would be an uproar in the mainstream media.’ … Lewandowski apparently has a short memory when it comes to the GOP’s treatment of Obama…. For months, Trump questioned whether Obama was actually born in the United States, alleging the president’s birth certificate was forged and that there had been a massive, even deadly, conspiracy to hide this information from the public. [HuffPost] PRESIDENT COMMUTES 330 SENTENCES ON FINAL FULL DAY - We’re sure he’s saving his Hillary pardon for the last hour. Ryan J. Reilly and Elise Foley: “President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 330 federal prisoners on Thursday, less than 24 hours before Donald Trump takes office. With Thursday’s announcement, Obama has now granted commutations to 1,715 federal prisoners. A HuffPost review of Thursday’s list indicates that all of those 330 clemency cases were for drug or drug-related cases. Obama’s announcement followed the Tuesday commutations of the sentences of Chelsea Manning and of more than 200 federal prisoners charged with drug offenses.... Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who will soon become acting attorney general, said in a statement that the Office of the Pardon Attorney had processed 16,000 petitions since April 2014, what she said was ‘as enormous as it was unprecedented.’” [HuffPost] SURELY, ‘HAMILTON’ CAN FIX THIS, SOMEHOW - Or maybe the cast of “Glee,” surely that will do it. Alexander Bolton: “Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending. Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned. The changes they propose are dramatic…. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.” [The Hill] CAN’T WAIT TO VISIT EXXONMOBIL’S GRAND CANYON X-PERIENCE®! And who hasn’t thought what Yellowstone is missing is a mining camp in the middle of it? Heather Hansman: “In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens…. Essentially, the revised budget rules deny that federal land has any value at all…. [T]he first places to come under attack might include areas adjacent to the majestic Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Those areas hold uranium and copper, respectively.” [The Guardian] BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a slow-motion corgi. OH, GOOD, MORE OF THIS - The far-right really needs their own Donald Rumsfeld whom they can bother. Jessica Sidman: “A group of anti-gay demonstrators holding signs that say ‘homo sex is sin’ and ‘judgment is coming’ have assembled outside Comet Ping Pong, the Chevy Chase pizzeria that’s been the victim of harassment and a gunman incident over the conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate. The group, calling themselves the ‘Official Street Preachers,’ have been harassing passersby and customers over megaphones, calling them ‘wicked perverts’ and ‘sinners.’” [Washingtonian] COMFORT FOOD - Dog is bad at catch. - Some of the best spoofs of Trump’s speech preparation photo. - Slow-motion video of a combustion engine. TWITTERAMA @cwarzel: if u had told me President Elect Donald Trump would hang his head in reverence to 3 Door’s Down “Here Without You” @ Lincoln Memorial i woul @ashleyfeinberg: how are they going to get a tanning bed into the white house without anyone noticing @Trollin_Trump: I’m pissed @3doorsdown canceled their show at Applebee’s this Friday to do the inauguration Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson ([email protected]) -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. 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