#GlobalFacepalms Open Thread: The Trump-Putin Bromance in Paris

For all Trump is supposed to be ‘a master of visual media’, sure looks like Putin who has the better grasp of the optics here…

Last time I saw a grin/grip/lapel-adjustment like this, literally, was a senior VP hearing at the company roundtable that his division would get its full funding after all. Not just relief, but a public signalling of renewed confidence in one’s business superior.

It’s a Tristan & Iseult romance for our times!

Of course Putin’s mostly trolling, but can you imagine if it were any other American president who got caught kowtowing this way? Even a Republican?

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month of 1918 World War I Did Not Come to an End

(Satwinder Sehmi’s Calligraphy: In Flander’s Field)

As Veteran’s Day 2018 comes to a close, and with it the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, it is important to remember that World War I did not actually end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. While it is true that the armistice was signed and peace talks would soon begin, World War I did not stop on November 11, 2018. Rather, and more accurately, it transformed into a series of low intensity conflicts that would simmer until reigniting into World War II. At the heart of those conflicts was a war of ideas. One of these ideas was national identity. Specifically, how ethno-national minorities that were left behind the lines, so to speak, when the armistice was signed would relate to the governments they now lived under, their ethno-national majority neighbors, and how those governments and those neighbors would relate to them. Out of these tense, taut, and often violent relationships between ethno-national majorities and minorities in post World War I Europe would grow other even more dangerous ideas such as fascism, in its corporatist, nationalist-syndicalist, and racist forms. Even, to a certain extent, Leninism, was unable to escape the nationalist tensions that resulted from the way World War I never really ended.

The great power competition that had led to World War I was changed by these clash of ideas – nationalism, fascism, communism – and, as a result, World War II and the Cold War were as much wars of ideas and ideology as they were wars of conquest and for territory. These ideas were about how to better organize state and society. And they placed the ideas of liberty and liberal democracy in all of its various types in direct conflict with the totalitarian ideas of fascism on the extreme right and communism on the extreme left. And just as different forms of liberal democracy would develop, so to would different variations of fascism and communism. These clash of ideas, of how states, societies, and even the global system should best be structured, would lead to both World War II, a long Cold War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a number of conflicts fought by the proxies of the two post World War II superpowers. to a certain extent they are also an undercurrent in the US’s seeming forever war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As 2018 moves towards 2019, the world is once again faced with a war of ideas. The ideas of well ordered liberty and its expression in the different types of liberal democracy are once again facing off against totalitarian ideas from both state and non-state actors. Vladimir Putin challenges the US and its EU and NATO allies and partners with his promotion of managed democracy as a façade for the kleptocratic organized crime state he has created in Russia. Xi Xinping, recently declared as President for Life, promotes his fusion of Maoism, state controlled capitalism, and Chinese nationalism through his Belt and Road Initiative. ISIS continues to promote an extreme version of tawheed, the Islamic theological understanding of the unity of the Deity, which includes violently imposing its doctrine on believers and unbelievers alike. 

The War to End all Wars did not do so because it could not do so. Nor did World War II. Now has any other war. So while we recognize and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, we need to be realistic about what we face both within and without the United States. We need to remain vigilant in order to ensure that well ordered liberty prevails in this 21st century war of ideas.

Open thread.

Sunday Morning Open Thread: Trump’s State Visit to France, Illustrated

The little man who wasn’t there. As our opponents would say: This is the world Repubs want.

Read more

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Heck of A Week, And Then…

Oval Office Occupant sez, Hold my Diet Coke!

Getchya Fresh News Here!

The New York Times reported today on a story you saw in Balloon Juice more than a month ago, based on accounts in Finnish media. A wealthy Russian businessman was buying up properties along an important Finnish sealane. The Finnish authorities raided those properties, which had some of the look of preparing for military action. Finnish government and business websites were then hit with a DDoS attack.

Anyhow, welcome to the party, New York Times!

And open thread!

Disinformation Operation Incoming!!!!!!! Special Counsel Edition

This is pretty clearly a coordinated disinformation operation intended to both shift the news cycle going into the last weekend before the election and to influence attitudes in advance of, as well as set the conditions to diminish and negate the next round of indictments that everyone expects the Special Counsel’s Office to bring shortly after the mid-term elections. You have your pick of who is involved, let alone bankrolling this insanity. Charles Johnson of LGF has been wondering what his sociopathic namesake and stalker, popularly known as the Rage Furby, has been up to recently as he’s been very quiet. This is the type of thing he’d be involved in. Especially if someone was paying him!

I also am in complete agreement with Rick Wilson, the GOP campaign strategist and campaign communication specialist who is one of the leading NeverTrumpers.

Updated at 1:40 PM (hat tip to Cheryl Rofer in the comments)

Natasha Bertrand is reporting that the Special Counsel’s Office has already reported this to the FBI for investigation.

An alleged scheme to pay off women to fabricate sexual assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been referred to the FBI for further investigation, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, Peter Carr. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” Carr said in a statement on Tuesday.

The special counsel’s attention to this scheme—which was brought to the office by a woman claiming she herself had been offered money to make up sexual harassment claims against Mueller—and its decision to release a rare statement about it to reporters indicates the seriousness with which the office is taking the purported scheme to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation.

The special counsel’s office confirmed that the scheme was brought to its attention by several journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging  that she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.” The woman told journalists that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974. The firm has not returned a request for comment about whether the woman actually worked there.

He “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do one thing,” the woman wrote to the journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained. “In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’”

The woman was not willing to speak to the reporters by phone, so portions of her story have gone uncorroborated.  Around the time that the journalists began receiving the email, Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.”  On Tuesday, the day the special counsel revealed that it had referred the woman’s claims to the FBI,  Burkman tweeted a similar allegation.In a statement, Burkman denied knowing the woman who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme. But he told me in an email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN  we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false. Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistleblowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election.

Updated at 1:55 PM EDT (hat tip to Cheryl Rofer in the comments)

Updated at 3:55 PM EDT (hat tip to germy in the comments)

Forewarned is forearmed!

Open thread!

“Despact the fight…”

Possum Queen loses it at today’s briefing and stomps off in a huff:

For those who can’t/won’t watch, Huckabee Sanders responds to a question about Trump’s complicity in creating a tense, divided, violent atmosphere, first by lying (“he was elected by an overwhelming majority”), then by whining about negative coverage, which she claims Trump unfairly receives “dispact the fight” (she mispronounces “despite the fact” this way twice) that he’s the greatest president ever, blah blah blah :::flounce:::.

Meanwhile, her vile boss is back to whipping up hysteria about the Central American “caravan” again today despact the fight that the lies about the caravan directly motivated the terrorist in Pittsburgh to begin his murderous rampage:

If the American people don’t rise up and set brand-new records for Congressional turnover in eight days (plus kick Republicans to the curb in statehouses nationwide), we suck.