Donald Trump has wondered why the United States didn’t take Iraq’s oil to pay for our invasion. He has insisted that the United States must TAKE THE OIL!

The United States didn’t take the oil because pillaging, theft during war, is a war crime (more here). If a practical reason is needed, oil production and pipelines are extremely vulnerable to sabotage and military action. A continuing military presence would be needed to protect the seized oilfields. Trump seems to believe that the oil can be rapidly pumped from the ground and removed. It can’t.

Trump came into office promising to get American troops out of the Middle East. Many people support that goal. We have been in Afghanistan for eighteen years now. It’s not clear that our presence in the region has improved American security, and now our Saudi partners are dragging us into a war in Yemen.

But Trump knows nothing about military action or our relations with the countries in the region and refuses to learn. Nor does he care to use the decision-making aids available to the President. He has some longstanding prejudices, however, along with his willingness to make decisions impulsively.

After a telephone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump broadcast his decision via tweet to remove American troops from northeast Syria. The withdrawal leaves the Kurds vulnerable to the Turks, who want the Kurds out of the way. Trump assured us that Erdoğan would not harm the Kurds; he would punish Erdoğan with sanctions if he did.

Then Trump changed his mind and sent Erdoğan a letter that sounded like it came from a middle-school bully. Not all the troops were withdrawn. Some were sent to Saudi Arabia. And now the military is concerned that Trump may want to send them all back.

Trump’s ignorance and impulsiveness in this matter have caused problems from the logistical to the constitutional.

Trump’s tweet surprised the American military. They appear to have had no plans for withdrawal, although Trump has been talking about it since his campaign. A case can be made that withdrawal from northeastern Syria, particularly as abruptly as Trump required, is the wrong thing to do. But the military is subject to the civilian Commander-in-Chief, and they should have made a plan. It’s a bit puzzling, because the military is famous for having plans for actions as improbable as invading Canada.

Trump should have known that armies cannot withdraw from combat in the space of time it takes to send a tweet, or even over a few days. Trump could have instructed the military to make plans for withdrawal at the beginning of his presidency, since that was one of his promises. A plan would have dealt with how to protect the Kurds and how long a withdrawal would be likely to take under various circumstances. It could have even covered protecting the oil.

Military and other advisors seem to have used the idea of taking the oil to convince Trump to maintain a presence in the area after his tweet. Trump feels no obligation to the Kurds, and seems convinced that ISIS is defeated and cannot return. But he does want to take the oil. A National Guard unit from South Carolina is now guarding northeast Syria’s tiny oilfields with armored vehicles unsuited to dealing with ISIS.

This corrupts the chain of command. The President made a decision. The military is supposed to take his orders. But they and others have argued back and effectively rescinded the decision, although the troops now in place have a different mission than before. Trump began the corruption by ignoring the National Security Council process for decision-making that would have taken recommendations from the military, the State Department, and others before the decision was made.

Nobody seems now to know what the mission is. Protecting the oilfields is the stated reason the National Guard troops are there. Are there American rules of engagement for encounters with Syrian government troops? Turkish troops? ISIS? Russian troops? Is any of this consistent with the existing Authorization for the Use of Military Force?

Once upon a time, wars in the Middle East were cynically characterized as “blood for oil.” Now that charge is irrefutable, supported by the words of the President.

A Pentagon spokesperson says that the income from oil wells in the Kurdish areas will go to the Kurds. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the United States from “taking the oil.” Trump has said that he wants American companies to develop the oilfields, but they have no interest in doing that illegally, nor in a combat zone.

Trump knows nothing of international law, the geology of northeast Syria, the production of oil, or loyalty to allies. He sees the American military as a profit center. The number of American troops in Syria has remained constant since his pronouncement, but their mission has become less clear. Trump’s ego demands that he proclaim some sort of victory. His ignorance results in inappropriate decision-making by the Department of Defense. He can’t even achieve his own objective of removing the troops from the Middle East.

He is unfit to be president.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: President Jimmy Carter Recovering

Happy news from Atlanta. I know Pres. Carter says he’s ready, but I have to admit, I am not. Speedy recovery.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Spelling It Out

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

Across the aisle…

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Late Night Open Thread: Who Is Giuliani’s New Spokeswoman, Christianné Allen?

CNN, on Monday:

Rudy Giuliani is considering re-entering the impeachment fray by launching a podcast to provide impeachment analysis of the public hearings in the House of Representatives scheduled for later this week.

Giuliani was overheard discussing the plans with an unidentified woman while at a crowded New York City restaurant, Sant Ambroeus, over lunch on Saturday. The conversation, which lasted more than an hour, touched on details including dates for recording and releasing the podcast, settling on a logo, and the process of uploading the podcast to iTunes and other podcast distributors…

“Many Americans want to hear directly from Rudy Giuliani,” said Christianné Allen, a spokeswoman for Giuliani, who confirmed to CNN that he discussed the podcast idea at lunch on Saturday. “He is considering several options, in consultation with Jay Sekulow and the legal team, regarding the best way to move forward. As of now, they have not decided on the strategy but are getting very close.”…

Closed-door testimony from multiple witnesses describes Giuliani as a key facilitator of conversations and actions that have led to the impeachment probe. This week, public testimony from several of those witnesses, including former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, senior State Department official George Kent and Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine following Yovanovitch’s removal, is expected to further highlight Giuliani’s central role. Giuliani has said his actions were all done as part of his legal defense of Trump…

Roger Sollenberger, on Sunday, at Salon:

… [I]n late September Giuliani hired a communications director. The new hire — 20-year-old Liberty University Online communications major (’22) Christianné Allen—is currently the most solid connection between the work the President’s private attorney was doing in Ukraine, an ongoing federal investigation into two of his clients, and a Long Island personal injury lawyer who for reasons still unclear reportedly paid Giuliani $500,000 in two lump-sum “loans” on behalf of a scam business in the fall of 2018.

And so, as I thumbed through an Instagram account, I found myself wondering why in the world Rudy Giuliani hired this woman, who can’t help but document everything she does, everywhere she goes, sowing circumstantial evidence across the internet that could impact impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.

The connections between Allen and Giuliani at first struck me as superficial: Why did Giuliani — a former U.S. attorney and mayor of New York City, the president’s personal lawyer and an untamed media presence, to put it charitably — hire a wildly underqualified pseudo-evangelical Turning Point USA social media personality to clean up his comms operations?
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Veterans Day 2019: Veterans in Exile

Senator Duckworth is a national treasure.

And the President, the Vice President, Stephen Miller, DHS Secretary Kelly, DHS Secretary Nielsen, Acting DHS Secretary McAleneen, Acting USCIS Secretary Cucinelli, Acting Director of ICE Homan, Steve Bannon, and every single American that supports these officials and their actions is a national disgrace. And the next president, provided she or he is a Democrat, damn well better bring these veterans home and hold all of the above to account. I don’t care if some of these veterans have criminal records, I don’t care if some of them have serious PTSD or other issues from their service that led to those criminal records or otherwise somehow violating their immigration status. I don’t care if some of them are undocumented. They raised their hands, they took the oath, and they served the US, many if not most in harm’s way, which is something no one in the Trump family has ever done across five generations in the United States. These people disgust me!

Open thread!

Open Thread: Video Embeds, Take Two

ETA: Okay, seems with the comments and ALL the long videos, I’ve made this post load very slowly for some of you. Apologies, but thanks for all the feedback. I’m going to move most of the videos below the fold.

Test one – Rachel Maddow MSNBC

CBS removed because it autoplays after reloading.

Test two – Steve Hartman from CBSNews

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Video test

<iframe src=”https://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/embedded-video/mmvo73175621578” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

<iframe width=”400″ height=”500″ frameborder=”0″ src=”https://www.bbc.com/news/av/embed/p07tmq0t/50370715“></iframe>

<iframe width=”416″ height=”234” src=”//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=business/2019/11/07/disney-streaming-analysis-orig.cnn-business&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

<iframe width=512 height=330 src=’https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?466185-5/washington-journal-stew-magnuson-discusses-us-defense’ allowfullscreen=’allowfullscreen‘ frameborder=0</iframe>

Second attempt failed using the text tab and I’ve deleted it because it broke the post’s, if not the blog’s, formatting.

Here’s the third attempt, using the Add Media button.

This seems appropriate though. Sort of. Maybe.

Monday Evening Open Thread: I {Heart} NYC

Veterans Day Read: “The Endless Recovery From the Endless War”

He was, for a time, the most well-known veteran in America.

On the evening of January 28, 2014, Cory Remsburg, an elite Army Ranger grievously wounded in Afghanistan, sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama in the balcony of the House chamber as President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address. As one of the president’s speechwriters, I watched from the floor below, crowded among congressional and White House staff.

Nearing the end of his speech, Obama described how, on Cory’s tenth deployment, a bomb blast had thrown him into a canal, where his fellow soldiers found him facedown, underwater, unconscious, with a punctured skull. Across the country, television screens cut to Cory, with a lean build, close-cropped brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and striking in his dress blue uniform — a bow tie and a chestful of colorful ribbons and commendations…

This October 1 marked a decade since the explosion. Cory has now spent more years working to recover from his injuries than he did serving on active duty in the war zones — one of the approximately 5,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq with penetrating head wounds who have returned home to live with their catastrophic injuries for decades to come. In advance of this milestone, I asked Cory and his parents for permission to follow him for the year.

I wanted to see the unvarnished reality of his life after the applause…

Over the past year, I spoke with Cory and his parents about two dozen times, in person and by telephone, often for an hour or more. I visited him at military and veterans’ hospitals and at his home in Arizona, where he granted me and photographer Pete Souza unprecedented access to his daily life. I spoke with more than 30 of Cory’s family, friends, fellow Rangers, doctors, and therapists.

I soon learned, as his brother had warned me, how dark the journey could get…

Remsburg was a 26-year-old at the height of his powers; now he’s a 35-year old whose parents are his full-time caregivers. Someone learning, over and over every day, how much he’ll never again do for himself… from driving to putting on deodorant.

Saluting Our Veterans And Their Families

As a military brat whose father and brother served in war zones, I have firsthand knowledge of what families go through when service members are deployed. And even without deployment, many military families relocate every few years.  So reading about this young man really touched my heart. And he has a book!

Davidson and his dad, as illustrated by his father in a book they wrote together.

(CNN) Davidson is only 9 years old, yet he’s been the man of the house eight times while his dad serves his country.

His father, Dave, is a Green Beret on his 10th deployment. The famil y lives in northern Virginia while Dave is stationed somewhere overseas. Davidson is used to not having his dad around, but he never forgets him.
This illustration shows Dave embracing Davidson after surviving an attack in Afghanistan.
“Sometimes it’s fine because we actually do a lot of fun things while he’s away, but it’s also sad because he’s just not here,” Davidson told CNN. “My mom sometimes breaks down and cries a lot because she misses him. And it’s not really hard for her because I help her, but it’s just she misses him.”

by Davidson Whetstone

Illustrated by his father

Davidson’s father was deployed every year of his young life when, at 6 years old, four days before Christmas, the call came that he was injured by an RPG in Afghanistan. With vivid, compelling art by Davidson’s own active duty father, this book tells the story of Davidson’s brave journey during his father’s service, recovery at Walter Reed Hospital, and return to the battlefield.

Brave For My Family is a book for every American child to read and celebrate the bravery of thos on the homefront when a parent is away fighting for our country.

Proceeds from the book support Military Families and Wounded Warriors through trusted organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to those who serve: Green Beret Foundation, Rick Herrema Foundation, Lead the Way Fund, Navy SEAL Foundation, Semper Fi Fund, and Patriot Foundation.

Closer to home for me – I’m in Niwot several times a month and I love this display:

The Other Mexico Story

Most of the recent press about Mexico has involved the killing of a group of dual citizen Mormons in a rural area between Sonora and Chihuahua (here’s a good explainer), and the cartel using .50 cal machine guns, rocket launchers and armored vehicles to free El Chapo’s son in Culiacán. But there’s another story that shows the depth of the problem that Mexico is facing.

Puerto Peñasco is a small port town at the northernmost tip of the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez, known as Rocky Point to US tourists. It’s wired for tourism because of the joint efforts of the Arizona and Sonora governments: the 60 miles of road is a “safety corridor“, which means it is better patrolled and police bribery is discouraged and investigated. The whole area is part of the hassle free vehicle zone, which allows US citizens to bring in a vehicle without an import permit, and Rocky Point is the only destination in Mexico where the need for a tourist card or visa isn’t enforced. In short, it should be the safest spot in Mexico, and for US tourists, it is.

For Mexicans, it’s another story. Just before Halloween, a group called Searching Mothers of Sonora found a mass grave near Puerto Peñasco with 42 bodies. They were warned off by gunmen, but police were called in and further excavation continues to find bodies. The latest count is 58. DNA testing is going on to identify the bodies, and families are being encouraged to give samples if they think one of their relatives could be in the grave.

Everybody hates a tourist, but I love Mexico as a tourist. There’s a lot of ugliness in the towns, and trash on the roads, but there’s also this:

Mexicans, almost to a person, are some of the nicest and friendliest people you’ll meet. I’ve been a tourist there since I was a kid, and I was just in Puerto Peñasco a couple of weeks ago. I’d go again without much worry. Like any other country, you need to pick the places you want to visit. The areas of cartel activity are well known and publicized. Cartels generally do not mess with US citizens (the Mormons in Chihuahua were a special case – they were in vocal opposition to the cartels). Still, I’m sure fewer and fewer US citizens will be traveling there after hearing the news, and that’s a damn shame for a country that’s having a hard time in part due to the tidal wave of guns and drug money that we’re sending them.

(Breaking) Open Thread: Rep. Pete ‘The Mucker’ King Announces He Will Not Seek Re-election

If LunGUYlin’s proudest IRA supporter is dropping out already… even the fights aren’t as much fun any more.


This guy has been stanning for the worst of the GOP since the late 1970s — the best you could say about him was that while he was always mean, he’s not the dumbest Rep. King of his tenure.

I said this back in March 2011:

The thing is, even his fellow terrorists revolutionary-supporters never fully trust a mucker — he’s the guy who’s going to end up in the centre of the cabal as long as it’s “winning”, but when the Us-vs-Them noose tightens, his former comrades get jettisoned as necessary.

… One can but hope, she added.

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)

Monday Morning Open Thread: Veterans Day

It’s the centennial of New York City’s commemorative parade, so of course the Oval Office Occupant decided he’d try and hijack the event:

This year’s Veterans Day Parade—hosted by the United Way Veterans Council—will celebrate its centennial as more than 30,000 people march up Fifth Avenue on Monday, November 11 to honor veterans of the United States military during the annual holiday. While the organizers stress that the parade is a non-partisan and non-political event, President Donald Trump will make history this year as the first sitting president to attend the celebration. The president will not be marching in the parade but he will be giving an opening address at Madison Square Park.

The event will kick off with a traditional opening ceremony at 11 a.m. near Madison Square Park on 24th Street and Fifth Avenue, where Trump is scheduled to make a speech. The ceremony will conclude with a wreath-laying at the Eternal Light Monument inside the park at 12 p.m.

The parade itself is expected to begin shortly after, heading north on Fifth Avenue from West 26th Street to West 46th Street. The route is about 1.2 miles and the parade is expected to wrap up by 3:30 p.m…

The Daily News reports:

The president arrived in New York City Saturday night and bunkered down in Trump Tower in Midtown, according to a White House pool report…

Last week, a state judge in Manhattan ordered Trump to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofits after funds he raised with the stated purpose of supporting veterans actually went to his presidential campaign.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to speak at the Economic Club of New York before heading back to Washington, D.C., where impeachment proceedings will be in full swing.

I still think it’s even odds his bone spurs will act up and he’ll be a no-show, for fear someone will point out on camera that he’s hiding out on his frantic GOP ‘supporters’ down in D.C. Any bets?

Late Night Open Thread: Rich ‘Sparklepants’ Lowry Throws A Public Snit

Not that I normally read anything by, or if I can help it about, the National Review editor who wrote the first public paean to Sarah Palin’s charms. But Mr. Boie’s tweet sent me in search of explication…

You know what I am?” U.S. President Donald J. Trump said at a rally in October 2018. “I’m a nationalist.” Rich Lowry’s The Case for Nationalism can be seen as a way of working through, and defending, what the president meant. As the editor of National Review, the prominent conservative magazine, Lowry is an intellectual gatekeeper on the American right. He was one of the speakers at the National Conservatism conference in July 2019, an event that brought together such thinkers as J. D. Vance and Patrick Deneen, with keynotes by the billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, along with a notorious intervention on the perils of immigration by University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax.

Lowry’s central claim is that Americans are, and have been from their country’s founding, a nation and not a community of universal ideas. Although intellectuals and left-wing pundits are openly hostile to expressions of national sentiment, the United States has a unique national tradition that is today obscured by fissiparous identity politics. If Americans reacquaint themselves with their true national heritage, they will be better equipped to overcome dangerous tribalism, protect their borders, and make their country great again. To the degree that the United States has a global role, it should be as “vindicator of the prerogatives of other democratic nation-states”—in other words, a defender of the idea that a world of culturally defined nations is humanity’s state of nature…
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Stupid, Evil, and Shameless

In yet another blatant attempt to get the whistleblower’s name into public so they can have more crazy people try to threaten him, the Federalist publishes this dreck (no link to the Federalist, fuck them):

Last Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, published the unredacted name of a man alleged to be the so-called whistleblower who helped launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

During HPSCI testimony, William Taylor, the charge d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, was asked by a staff lawyer on the committee whether the name XXXXXXXXXXXXX was familiar to him.

“Does a person by the name of XXXXXXXXXXXXXX ring a bell for you?” asked Steve Castor, a committee staff counsel asked Taylor during a deposition on October 22.

Apparently, because the Schiff committee published his name WITHOUT mentioning he was the potential whistleblower, that means it is fair game to publish his name and accuse him of being the whistleblower. And why was his name brought up in the first place? Because Republican aides had been trying to get his name in the record FOR JUST THIS FUCKING REASON for weeks:

A top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes has been providing conservative politicians and journalists with information—and misinformation—about the anonymous whistleblower who triggered the biggest crisis of Donald Trump’s presidency, two knowledgeable sources tell The Daily Beast.

Derek Harvey, who works for Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has provided notes for House Republicans identifying the whistleblower’s name ahead of the high-profile depositions of Trump administration appointees and civil servants in the impeachment inquiry. The purpose of the notes, one source said, is to get the whistleblower’s name into the record of the proceedings, which committee chairman Adam Schiff has pledged to eventually release. In other words: it’s an attempt to out the anonymous official who helped trigger the impeachment inquiry.

And just who is Steve Castor? This fucking guy:

Steve Castor is chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform under committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). He has served on the committee staff since 2005, and during his twelve-year tenure participated in a wide variety of high-profile oversight investigations. Prior to working for Congress, he practiced commercial litigation in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. He earned his law degree from George Washington University.

So yeah, the alleged whistleblower’s name was published. Just like you fucking wanted it to be Madeline (who is just way too young to be this indoctrinated and evil).