To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Tony Blinken, Afghanistan's Collapse And The Sorrows Of Beltway Credentialism

Wow! What a difference a year-and-a-half can make! Biden To Nominate Antony Blinken For Secretary Of StateNPR November 23, 2020. Blinken was going to “repair relationships between Washington and foreign governments and allies that have been strained under President Trump's 'America First" policy?! And serve as a confirmable alternative to Susan Rice, she of the Benghazi disaster in 2012?! And boost morale at the State Department that had been left "beleaguered" by the prior administration!? 

Considered while the biggest foreign policy debacle in American history continues to unfold in Afghanistan, the advance notices Blinken received from Beltway insiders and the media are as breathtakingly na├»ve as Blinken himself has proven himself to be. The fact that Blinken has not resigned yet is a tribute both to his own personal cluelessness--- and to the arrogance borne of the blind credentialism that put him in a place to do so much ruinous damage to the country---especially our international partners. Blinken needs to go. 

NPR:

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state post.

 

Blinken, 58, has extensive foreign policy experience, serving as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama. 

 

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Blinken began his foreign policy career during the Clinton administration. He worked as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008, where he worked closely with Biden. He went on to serve as then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser.

Blinken is currently managing partner at WestExec Advisors, a firm he co-founded.

 

For Biden, choosing Blinken signals a return to a more traditional foreign policy that favors strong international relationships, NPR's Michele Kelemen says.

Biden's secretary of state pick, which will require Senate confirmation, was first reported by Bloomberg News and later confirmed by NPR.

 

…If confirmed, Blinken's early work, according to The Associated Press, would be focused heavily on repairing relationships between Washington and foreign governments and allies that have been strained under President Trump's "America First" policy, in which long-held alliances have frequently been challenged.

 

Blinken will also be tasked with boosting the beleaguered State Department, an agency that has experienced substantial turnover under Trump, with many longtime diplomats and career staffers leaving.

An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report from January found that, "Workforce management issues are pervasive, affecting programs and operations domestically and overseas and across functional areas and geographic regions."

 

A hiring freeze that was ordered by Trump in 2017 and that stretched until 2018 compounded the agency's ability to maintain staffing levels, the report went on to say.

"Employees told OIG that the hiring freeze contributed to excessive workloads, and the lack of transparency about the objectives intended to be achieved by the hiring freeze caused some to be concerned about losing their jobs," the report said.

Susan Rice, the former national security adviser under Obama, was rumored to have been on the short list for the top State Department job. However, by choosing Blinken, Biden avoids what was likely to have been a Senate battle over her nomination.

Rice would have faced criticism over the handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Under pressure that year, Rice took herself out of consideration for the secretary of state's job after Clinton resigned the post. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Tony Blinken, Elite Nepotism & The Cosmopolitan Delusions Forged In A Privileged Expat Youth

 


Tony Blinken was practically Joe Biden’s “alter ego,” wrote the Financial Times in early 2020, describing his central role in what has come to be known as America’s “return” to the world stage. The FT profile was as revelatory of Blinken’s cosmopolitan mindset, which would come a cropper in Kabul, as it was just dead wrong in its assessments of Blinken’s alleged strengths as a diplomat and leader. “The foreign affairs veteran is son and nephew of US ambassadors to European capitals,” the FT writes, “and his return to the corridors of power comes as the US tries to recover from the battering it has taken on the world stage during 4 years of Donald Trump.” 

Biden’s ‘alter ego’ Antony Blinken will try to rebuild alliances, by Demetri Sevastopulo, November 23, 2020: 

When Joe Biden enters office in January, his closest foreign policy adviser will be a guitar- playing Beatles fanatic who first started promoting American values as a high school student in Paris during the cold war. 

On Monday, the president-elect said he had chosen Antony Blinken as secretary of state, elevating a three-decade fixture in Democratic foreign policy circles, who first worked with Mr Biden in the Senate. 

A former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, Mr Blinken was national security adviser to Mr Biden when he was vice-president, before becoming deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama and deputy secretary of state. 

Mr Blinken’s return to the corridors of power will come as the US tries to recover from the battering it has taken on the world stage during four years of Donald Trump’s international isolationism

Although some of the challenges will be familiar to Mr Blinken, he will also face new dilemmas such as dealing with an even more assertive China. 

Robert Malley, the head of International Crisis Group who was Mr Blinken’s high-school classmate, said the Washington veteran had the perfect background to restore American credibility. 

In addition to coming from a family with foreign policy pedigree — his father served as ambassador to Hungary and his uncle to Belgium — allies say he can put himself in the shoes of others because of his experience overseas. 

“Tony was an American in Paris — and both terms are key. He was very conscious of being an American and he believed in US values. But he also understood how US policy affects the rest of the world because he lived overseas and witnessed how others view America,” Mr Malley said. 

“At that time, the US was not particularly popular in Europe, and in France in particular. Tony navigated those two universes.” 

In a recent Intelligence Matters podcast, Mr Blinken said the US had to rebuild alliances to tackle the “democratic recession” enabled by Mr Trump that let “autocracies from Russia to China . . . exploit our difficulties”. 

Mr Blinken is a pragmatic realist who believes in US power but understands its limits. He will also have the most valuable currency in Washington — the ear of the president. He is so close to Mr Biden that some see him as his “alter ego”. 

Nick Burns, the former number three state department official who has known Mr Blinken since the Clinton administration, said his network of friends around the world is coupled with an incredible range of experience from his time in the Senate, state department, and White House. 

“He was at the table for all of the important meetings in the Obama administration for eight years and has unique insight into the full range of national security issues,” said Mr Burns. 

A soccer-playing 58-year-old, who has uploaded two of his songs on Spotify and sometimes has a guitar in the background during video calls, is widely liked for his unassuming manner and inclusive approach. 

In his high-school yearbook, the page with his photograph is inscribed with the Pink Floyd lyrics, “just another brick in the wall”, hinting at his willingness to eschew the traditional rigid hierarchy of Washington. 

A former top state department official said he was popular because he valued opinions regardless of how junior or senior the person was, and was confident enough to credit others. “It’s never about him or his ego.” 

But some say his inclusive style meant his core beliefs were sometimes hard to ascertain. “I don’t have a good read on his foreign policy thinking because he did not impose himself,” says a former Biden Senate aide. 

One former Obama administration official said he also had a tendency to hold too many meetings and punt decisions. “As the big dog, will he drive towards decisions or needle issues to death?” they asked. 

Defenders said he simply wanted to avoid rushing into bad decisions. The former Senate aide added that he was good at ending meetings on time. “When someone tried to extend a meeting with extraneous comments, he would give them a yellow card. If you did it again . . . it was a red card.” 

While some found his views opaque, others stress that he has long been clear about the importance of promoting democracy and human rights in American foreign policy. 

He advocated military action against Syria after the Assad regime used chemical weapons in 2013 — a path that Mr Obama did not follow — and applauded Mr Trump for striking Syria after the regime used sarin gas on citizens in 2017. 

Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, said Mr Blinken and other Democrats created a group called the “Phoenix Initiative” to debate whether the party needed a more robust national security approach after John Kerry lost to George W Bush in the 2004 election. 

He said that when the group held debates, Mr Blinken was also a strong proponent of using US power for good and advocating for human rights. “I was very struck that he was passionate about that,” he said. 

Philip Gordon, a former Obama administration official, said that view was informed by his family history. His Polish-born stepfather Samuel Pisar survived Auschwitz and eventually wound up in the US, where he became a successful international lawyer, while other relatives entered the US as refugees. 

“That has left him believing that the US can and should do good in the world,” said Mr Gordon. “But I would pair that with the notion that he is a real pragmatist who also understands the limits of American power. He is anything but an ideologue.” 

The other former Obama official said Mr Blinken would probably take a tougher stance on human rights than the Obama White House. “Tony would be visibly tougher on Russia and more receptive to the idea of ideological competition with China, cranking up a few notches the democracy promotion and human rights dimension of foreign policy.” 

Mr McFaul said Mr Blinken was also more decisive than some believe. When he argued that Mr Biden should meet Russian opposition figures after a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2011, “it took Tony about three seconds to say that is a really good idea”, in contrast to a much harder sell with the Obama team in 2009. 

Mr Blinken’s views on alliances and promoting democratic values fit with a growing view in Washington that the US needs to work more closely with allies to gain greater leverage to tackle China. 

One former European official, who has worked with Mr Blinken, said the fluent French speaker would be well received in Europe and would help repair the damage done over the past four years. But he said he would do so in a more low-key and more collegiate way than some predecessors. 

“He’s not a man to make the front page,” he said. “He’s not Henry Kissinger, in a good and bad way.” 

 

 


Friday, August 27, 2021

Kabul Catastrophe Is What Happens When Dems Rig An Election and The Media Pretends Not To Notice That Its Candidate Is Senile



At yesterday’s White House press conference, Biden buried his head in his hands, looked close to tears and was completely unable to make whatever his point was, writes David Marcus in the Canadian Post-Millennial“There has never been an image of an American president that projects such abject weakness,” Marcus notes. "We do not have a president. We have a crumbling old man. OK. Now what?”

 

After wrapping up his rambling remarks about a terrorist attack that killed US Marines on Thursday, President Biden moved on to questions. He informed the American people, whom he was addressing, that he had been "instructed" as to who should get the first question.

 

Who exactly was instructing the President of the United States? What other instructions does he obey? Did the American people elect a president? Or is Joe Biden just an old, sleepy eyed talking head? On Thursday, Americans got our answer.

 

The last question taken by Biden, we can only assume as a result of instruction, was granted to Fox News' Peter Doocy. Doocy asked Biden if he bears responsibility for the American lives lost in the terror attack. The President proceeded to engage in a bizarre back and forth with the reporter. 

 

Then Biden buried his head in his hands, he looked close to tears, completely unable to make whatever his point was. There has never been an image of an American president that projects such abject weakness.

 

The United States effectively has no president. That must be distinctly understood at this point. He admitted this. Asked by Phillip Wegmann, White House correspondent for Real Clear Politics, if he had made the call to close American airbases before evacuation occurred, Biden said that it was what his military advisers told him to do. 

 

The only decision Biden makes these days is what flavor ice cream he wants. Maybe.

Sen. Josh Hawley has called on Biden to resign in the wake of his administration's Afghan withdrawal disaster. It's a reasonable call, but also pointless. Joe Biden no more leads the nation than George Washington or Abe Lincoln do. He's a presidential portrait painted before its time. Nothing more.

 

But the country does need resignations. Not Biden's but resignations of cabinet secretaries, the well-credentialed fools who truly authored the administration's idiocy. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken must resign. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin must resign. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan must resign. But that's not enough.

 

Once they resign, moderate, serious minded Democrat senators must join Republicans in only confirming replacements that will reverse the horrendous foreign and national defense policies that have humiliated America on the world stage. Biden is president for three more years, Congress must act to ensure that the people instructing him are competent.

 

This is an emergency, and it is one we have never experienced before. The image of Joe Biden bowing his head in quiet, sad frustration is alarming. If there is a silver lining to this sad display it is that maybe Congress will act to take back control of our foreign policy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called for the House to come back in session to get control of this situation. Of course, he is correct.

 

The Biden presidency is over, but it never really began. Clearly his cabinet is in control. Clearly they have been in control since day one. That cabinet decided to trust the Taliban to protect Americans. They are relying on terrorists who blow themselves up to act in their own self-interest. It is a macabre comedy. Those who hold Biden's strings must go, and they must go now.

 

All of this is much bigger than Afghanistan, as big as this humiliation is. This is the national security apparatus that is responsible for policies on Iran, North Korea, China, Ukraine, Yemen, everywhere. They blatantly cannot be trusted to protect American interests. That's not a hypothetical anymore. It's a tragedy.

 

Joe Biden, the 46th president, elected to bring back norms is irrelevant. Utterly, completely irrelevant. But we have him for three more years anyway. With loud, piercing, clarion calls we must demand the removal of his handlers, let congress replace them, and let us do better in the election of 2024. We do not have a president. We have a crumbling old man. OK. Now what?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Brown Lives Don’t Matter, At Least In The Kabul Evacuation Plan Tony Blinken Has Thrown Together

 


NYT: U.S. Says 1,500 Americans Remain in Afghanistan as Evacuation Enters Final Days

Amazing what a difference a year can make, at least if there’s a Democrat in power. Alternative hedline could be: Annals of Systemic Racism We Just Can’t Talk About. As the Times put it: “The State Department is frantically trying to track down U.S. citizens. Tens of thousands of Afghan allies will all but certainly be left behind.”


WASHINGTON — At least 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan with just days left before the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from the country, but officials on Wednesday acknowledged the reality that tens of thousands of Afghan allies and others at high risk of Taliban reprisals would be left behind.


The sound of gunfire, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke, filled the air around the international airport in Kabul, the capital, as thousands of Afghans massed at the gates on Wednesday, desperate to escape ahead of the American military’s final departure on Aug. 31, after 20 years of war.


As military and government charter flights took off every 45 minutes as part of an airlift, Biden administration officials said they had evacuated about 82,300 people since Aug. 14, the day before Kabul fell to the Taliban. Around 4,500 of them were American citizens, with 500 more expected to depart soon.


But Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the government was trying to track down around 1,000 American citizens still believed to be in Afghanistan who had not responded to a frantic flurry of emails, phone calls or other messages offering to evacuate them.

Washington Post: On Afghanistan, Biden Sounds All Too Much Like 'Baghdad Bob'



Al Qaeda is more than a remnant in Afghanistan, writes Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, highlighting the disconnection from reality that Joe Biden seems to share with Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Media & Foreign Affairs Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka “Baghdad Bob.” In fact Al Qaeda was pivotal in the Taliban’s blitz. The result is that “Biden has handed the global jihadist movement a new radical Islamic emirate in Afghanistan to replace it.”

 

Remember “Baghdad Bob,” the Iraqi information minister who, as U.S. forces entered the capital, insisted that there were no Americans in Baghdad? That’s what President Biden is beginning to sound like with his delusional insistence that no Americans were having trouble getting to the Kabul airport, no allies were calling into question the United States’ credibility, and that the United States had no interest in Afghanistan because al-Qaeda was “gone.”

 

Really? If that last claim were true, then how did the Afghan military manage to kill al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province last October? Al-Masri was on theFBI’s most wanted list for conspiracy to kill Americans. If al-Qaeda poses no threat to the United States in Afghanistan, as Biden claims, what was a senior al-Qaeda leader focused on external operations doing there? And why is Sirajuddin Haqqani, an al-Qaeda-linked U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture, serving as the Taliban’s second-in-command? His network was recently placed in charge of security in Kabul. The fact is al-Qaeda is not only present in Afghanistan, but deeply embedded within the Taliban. According to the New Yorker’s Robin Wright, there are actually more al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan now than there were before 9/11, and al-Qaeda “was pivotal in the Taliban’s sweep across Afghanistan.”

 

Yet on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed al-Qaeda’s Afghan presence as nothing more than “remnants” posing no serious danger to the homeland. It’s not the first time he’s minimized a terrorist threat, only to be proved disastrously wrong. In December 2011, there were only about 700 Islamic State “remnants” in Iraq when Biden presided over the disastrous U.S. withdrawal there — but by 2014, a CIA analysis found that the Islamic State had grown to as many as 31,500 fighters. Yet Blinken — who was then serving as deputy national security adviser — continued to underestimate the danger these terrorists posed. In an August 2014 interview, he insisted that the Islamic State’s “focus is not on attacking the U.S. homeland or attacking our interests here in the United States or abroad. It’s focused intently on trying to create a caliphate now in Iraq.”

 

Soon after he spoke those words, the Islamic State and those inspired by it launched a wave of attacks on the West — including January 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and a Jewish deli in Paris; November 2015 attacks on a night club, soccer stadium and restaurants in Paris that killed 130 people; March 2016 bombings of the Brussels airport and subway station; and a July 2016 attack in Nice in which an Islamic State terrorist drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people. According to CNN, by July 2016, the Islamic State had carried out 143 attacks in 29 countries that killed more than 2,000 people. It was only after the group began to attack the West that the Obama administration finally sent U.S. forces back to Iraq to deal with the debacle it created.

 

Now, Biden and Blinken are underestimating the terrorist threat once again. But this time, the disaster they created in Afghanistan will be far more difficult to clean up. In Iraq, we left behind a friendly government and bases to which U.S. forces could return to from which to take on the terrorists. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is in full control, and we have no bases to which we can return when the terrorist danger inevitably reemerges.

 

Other terrorist hotspots — such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia — have coastlines that allow us to project power from the sea. But Afghanistan is a landlocked country, surrounded by hostile states. The only viable routes in are over either Iranian or Pakistani airspace. We face not only a challenge of distance, but of topography — as the forbidding Hindu Kush mountains provide the perfect cover for terrorists. “We’re talking about the problem of finding terrorist needles in 15,000-foot haystacks, which was hard to do even when we had troops in country,” explains Fred Kagan, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. Even if we somehow manage to obtain intelligence on an al-Qaeda target and overflight permission, we’ll have to hope and pray that the target will still be there by the time our planes take off from bases in the Persian Gulf or a distant aircraft carrier. And without nearby bases, we have limited capability to extract American pilots if a mission goes wrong.

 

In other words, Biden’s claim that we have an “over the horizon” capability to combat an al-Qaeda resurgence is a joke. It took more than seven years for the United States to drive the Islamic State from the caliphate Biden handed them in 2011. Now, Biden has handed the global jihadist movement a new radical Islamic emirate in Afghanistan to replace it.

 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Biden Team Projects An Equanimity That Is ‘The Definition Of Gaslighting,’ says Politico


 


As chaos unfolds at Kabul airport, Team Biden projects calm, writes Politico, while the President and his minions employ rhetoric completely disconnected from conditions on the ground.  

Tens of thousands of Afghans awaiting U.S. visas and thousands of American citizens are still stuck in Kabul, unable to find safe passage through frantic crowds, Taliban checkpoints and Afghan guards stationed outside the airport. 


Gunfire erupted outside of the north gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, killing a number of Afghan security forces. American officials have repeatedly had to close the gates for extended periods, leading guards to turn away even U.S. passport holders.

Multiple sources point to deteriorating conditions inside the airport, including lack of power and sanitation. And tension has emerged between American troops on the ground and State Department officials trying to extract U.S. citizens and Afghan allies. 


Meanwhile, the West Wing is looking increasingly disconnected from reality as the Biden White House strives to project a sense of calm competence — even as the Taliban tighten their grip on Afghanistan. 


“We are actually overperforming in terms of the evacuation numbers,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday of the massive evacuation effort underway at Kabul airport to extract thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies from the city. 


“If you look at what we're doing now and taking — evacuating thousands of people every day, it really has been a tremendous piece of work,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. 


While the evacuation has significantly ramped up in recent days, the reality on the ground belies the narrative that the situation is under control. The scenes around Kabul airport have been marked by violence, disorganization, bureaucratic in-fighting and delays, according to video and text exchanges viewed by POLITICO. 


The result is an administration that appears increasingly out of touch, as reports from Kabul continue to reflect a chaotic evacuation. 


“I don’t think the president’s rhetoric matches the conditions on the ground,” said Jenna Ben-Yehuda, a 12-year veteran of the Bush and Obama State Department and president of the Truman Center, which is coordinating with other groups to try to evacuate Afghan allies.


“They keep saying this was inevitable, but there absolutely was a way to avoid this — if that’s not the definition of gaslighting I don’t what is,” said Chris Purdy, the project manager of the Veterans for American Ideals program at Human Rights First, which has been part of the coalition to help evacuate people from Afghanistan.

 

More…

Confucius Say: Jan. 6 Was 'A Riot' Of Lies---Jonathan Turley

 

The FBI comes up empty-handed its search for a Jan. 6 plot, according to GW law prof Jonathan Turley in the Hill

It may be true, as Confucius said, that “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name,” but it can also be the end of politics. For politicians, labeling controversies is often more important than addressing the controversies themselves. Even well-defined terms used in legislation must change to fit political needs, such as like “infrastructure.” When its real meaning proved too restrictive, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) simply tweeted, “Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure.” Done. 

The same is true with labeling political violence. When protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups turned violent last summer, some media employees were expressly told not to refer to “rioters” but rather “protesters.” Riots causing massive property damage were described by CNN as “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.” 

Conversely, the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could not be just a riot, let alone a “fiery” protest, but only an “insurrection.” Many in the media continue referring to “the insurrectionists” rather than the rioters. National Public Radio even ran a running account of the “Capitol insurrection.” The term was further driven home by House Democrats by impeaching former President Trump for “incitement to insurrection” despite undermining any chance for an actual conviction. Members of Congress such as Rep. 

Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) are still in federal court claiming a conspiracy of “armed and organized insurrectionists.” 

The characterization of the attack as an insurrection served myriad political and personal purposes. First, it painted anyone associated with challenging the 2020 election results as supporting sedition and the country’s overthrow. Second, if this was a protest allowed to turn into a riot, there would be more questions about the failure to properly protect the Capitol

It is easier to excuse a response to an insurrection than a violent protest. That point was expressly made by former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who insisted, “This was not a demonstration. This was not a failure to plan for a demonstration. This was a planned, coordinated attack on the United States Capitol.” 

Despite the adoption of the term by many in the media, there has been a growing disconnect with the actual cases in court. Indeed, a new report from Reuters disclosed that the FBI has apparently struggled to support the account of a coordinated “insurrection” on Jan. 6. Reuters’s FBI sources said that, despite months of intense investigation, they could find "scant evidence" of any "organized plot" and instead found that virtually all of the cases are “one-offs.” One agent explained, “Ninety to 95 percent of these are one-off cases. Then you have 5 percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages." 

In other words, they found a protest that became a runaway riot as insu#icient security preparations quickly collapsed. While there clearly were those set upon trashing the Capitol, most people were shown milling about in the halls; many took selfies and actively described the scene on social media. 

More than 570 people have been arrested, but only 40 face conspiracy charges. Those charges are often based on prior discussions about trying to enter Congress or bringing material to use in the riot; some clearly came prepared for rioting with ropes, chemical irritants and other materials. Those cases, however, are a small group among the hundreds charged and an even smaller percentage among the tens of thousands of protesters on that day. 

After five months of dragnet arrests nationwide, a few reporters have noted that no one was actually charged with insurrection or sedition. The vast majority of people face charges such as simple trespass. For example, the latest guilty plea is from San Francisco real estate broker Jennifer Leigh Ryan, who posted an account on social media of how "we're gonna go down and storm the capitol." She pleaded guilty this week to "parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building" and faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of $5,000. 

Yet the characterization of the “insurrection” has continued as a virtual article of faith for those reporting on or writing about Jan. 6. Moreover, the treatment of many has remained severe, if not draconian by design. Justice o#icial Michael Sherwin proudly declared in a television interview that “our o#ice wanted to ensure that there was shock and
awe. ... It worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to D.C. because they’re like, ‘If we go there, we're gonna get charged.’ ... We wanted to take out those individuals that essentially were thumbing their noses at the public for what they did.” 

That “shock and awe” included holding people without bail and imposing “restrictive housing” for no obvious reason. That includes some of the most notable figures from that day, such as Jacob Chansley (aka Jake Angeli), better known as “Chewbacca man” or the “QAnon shaman” for the distinctive horned headdress he wore during the riot. Angeli, 33, is not accused of attacking anyone while parading around the Senate floor in his bear skin. He always insisted he was not trying to overthrow the nation with his decorative outfit and spear-topped flagpole. While the government did not find that he engaged in sedition, it did learn that he has an array of mental illnesses, including transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. Yet he has been held since the riot and is charged with six crimes, including violent entry, trespass and
parading, which collectively could yield up to 28 years in prison. 

There is a fair distinction between those who tried to stop the certification of a presidential election and those who burn police stations or businesses during protests. Yet there remains a striking contrast in how other riots are characterized or prosecuted. Most of those arrested for violent protests after the death of George Floyd saw their charges dropped by state prosecutors. For months, rioters sought to burn federal buildings or occupy state capitals and in some cases seized police stations and sections of cities or even a city hall. They were not declared insurrectionists; they were rioters before being set free after brief arrests. 

Many of us remain disgusted and angered by the Jan. 6 riot — but it was a riot. It also was a desecration. These people deserve to be punished, particularly those who went with an intent to try to enter the Congress. The question is whether you can have an insurrection without anyone actually insurrecting. That Zen-like question may find its way into the hearings of some pending cases. 

Calling these people “rioters" does not minimize what they did — or undermine the legitimacy of their punishment. However, there is wisdom and even the chance for resolution when we “call things by their proper name.”

We Gotta Talk About Dad: Brits Seem Capable Of Noticing The Obvious, So Why Can't Americans?


“The Unspoken Truth Is that Biden Is Just Too Old” by Tim Stanley, Telegraph (UK): 


When Joe Biden addressed the press on Friday, slurring and stumbling over his words, I was reminded of the moment in 1985 when the Soviets dragged Konstantin Chernenko, the terminally ill leader of the USSR, out of his hospital bed to vote in an election on TV. It wasn’t just desperate, it was cruel. 

Biden is too old to be president, which isn’t to say that an old person can’t lead. Donald Trump is only three years younger, Pope Francis six years older, and Moses’s death at 120 was considered premature. Rather, in his case Biden has simply exhausted his once formidable talent and energy, and attempts to pretend that he’s a spring chicken have become a bad joke. People are dying because of this man.

I happen to believe Biden did the necessary thing in Afghanistan in the worst possible way (as does Tucker Carlson). The West should never have been there; proof of failure was the speed with which the state collapsed when we started to leave. It was not cheap (final price tag more than $2 trillion) or enlightened (grievances against the state included rape, corruption and torture), and if no US service personnel had died in 18 months, as claimed by war hawks, it’s probably because Trump had signed a peace deal with the Taliban. Biden is right: if he’d torn up that deal, it would have meant a shooting war.

But why did Biden reject a conditions-based approach to withdrawal? Why was Bagram air base abandoned? Why leave behind vital supplies and equipment? Why did he hide away in Camp David? Why ignore phone calls from the PM for around 36 hours? And why take so long to take questions from the press? The latter is unsurprising given that Biden waited three months into his presidency before he gave a formal press conference (the media might have hated Trump but he was far more accessible, and tweeted his opinions from 4am onwards), an embarrassing affair navigated with a cheat sheet.

The president lacks the necessary acuity for this job, something brushed away during the election as a symptom of his lifelong stutter, an explanation I bought into because I didn’t want to be cruel. But go and watch videos of Biden when he first ran for president in 1987 and you’ll note the stutter is almost undetectable. He also had less hair, much of which has magically grown back. The president is ageing backwards. By the time he leaves the White House, he’ll probably look 18.

What we’ve seen in the last two weeks are the consequences of the Democratic Party’s cynical bargain in 2020. In a desperate bid to beat Trump, they nominated the least offensive candidate possible – either because they have no faith in the appeal of their own ideology or the alternatives were so unlikeable – and though the strategy paid off in the short term, it meant that when they needed transformative generational leadership, they merely added one more placeholder to the gerontocratic pantheon.

The president is 78. The Senate Majority leader is 70. The House Speaker is 81. A striking element of this uncharismatic administration is that it’s hard to name off the top of one’s head anyone working in it – there is no Rahm Emanuel or James Carville – and its freshest face is Kamala Harris whose own ratings are down after she admitted in an interview that despite being in charge of fixing the migration crisis she hadn’t yet been to the border. “I haven’t been to Europe either,” she joked, to everyone’s confusion. Before the weekend, Harris boarded a plane for a tour that includes Vietnam. Kabul is such an embarrassment that Democrats are fleeing to Saigon to escape it.

Back to Friday’s press conference, at which Biden reassured us that the Titanic might be sinking but the lifeboats were doing great. Americans were being allowed to get to the airport by the Taliban he said, which was contradicted by local media reports. I’ve heard “no question of our credibility” from allies he claimed, which was contradicted by Parliament.

Growing numbers of Republicans say Biden looked unwell or unfit for the job. It’s an open goal screaming for a good kick. Accusations that Ronald Reagan was over the hill were accentuated by innuendo; this man’s incompetence is displayed before our very eyes. 

The Democrats will deny it, of course, partly because they suspect that if they are forced to admit that this candidate was a terrible mistake, then they would have nothing else to offer – and their pitch that “at least we’re a safe pair of hands” is false because the old establishment, the Democrats and Republicans who intervened and surged in Afghanistan, are just not that competent. It was they who committed America to building a foreign democracy in the midst of a civil war – a tall order for a nation that can’t even free Britney Spears.

You know what was one of the most radical, commented-upon aspects of Trump’s administration? He was the first president in memory not to have a dog. Biden turned up at the White House with two German Shepherds, as if to hammer home the point. Within weeks, one of the dogs had bitten a member of staffThe return to normalcy has been a return to chaos.

 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Keeping An Open Mind About Diversity Is One Thing, But Why Are We So Readily Losing Our Heads About Illegal Immigrant Crime?

 


ALTERNATE HED: When the Alt Right Ain’t All Wrong, Installment # 50429. 

From Breitbart News 

An illegal alien the United States by the Department of Homeland Security released in 2012 now stands accused of beheading a Cuban-American woman in broad daylight in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Alexi Saborit-Viltres, a 42-year-old illegal alien from Cuba, was arrested last month and charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly beheaded 55-year-old America Mafalda Thayer, his girlfriend, and dumped her body on the street.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Shawn Neudauer confirmed that Saborit-Viltres is an illegal alien.

According to Neudauer, Saborit-Viltres’s criminal history includes multiple domestic assault, domestic abuse, and domestic battery convictions in Minnesota and Louisiana, drunk driving, and fleeing of a police officer. Saborit-Viltres has pending criminal charges against him for first-degree arson-dwelling, first-degree criminal damage to property, and obstruction to the legal process.

ICE agents had previously tried to deport Saborit-Viltres back to his native Cuba nearly a decade ago after a federal immigration judge ordered him deported, but were unable to obtain travel documents for him. Instead, Saborit-Viltres was released from ICE custody on an order of supervision in 2012.



Monday, August 2, 2021

How Can A British Tabloid Do This Story About Horrifying Dysfunction in NYC's Criminal Justice System But The 'New York Times' Cannot?

 


Another silent salvo in the NYT's "War On Noticing," as per the Daily Mail. 


A serial burglar in New York City who has been arrested 19 times in the past eight months was free on bail when he broke into a child's bedroom and molested her this week. 


Raymond Wilson, 31, was detained this week after allegedly breaking into a Greenwich Village home and rubbing his exposed genitals on a 10-year-old girl's feet while she slept.  

NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea slammed 'the failed policy' that allowed Wilson to be on the streets on Friday. Shea has been a vocal opponent of New York City's bail reform since it was enacted. 

He tweeted: 'A 10 year old girl traumatized and we are again left to pick up the pieces for a failed policy. How long must we wait? How many victims must suffer? Over and over NY'ers ask, 'How can they be released?' ……and there is no logical answer.' 

 

Police say the assault happened on June 12 when Wilson allegedly got into the young girl's home at 1 am while she and her younger sister were home alone sleeping. 

'The victim felt something slimy on her feet and noticed the defendant was rubbing his penis against her toes,' said Assistant District Attorney Meghan McNulty. 'The victim screamed for her parents, but nobody was home except her younger sister, who was sleeping in another room.' 

The disturbed man quickly redressed and fled the scene once the young girl woke up screaming. The terrified girl stared at the bedroom door for 15-20 minutes, worried that the guy might return, before calling her mother. 

Police later released surveillance images of the suspect and asked for the public's help identifying him. He left a cigarette lighter and a camera lens at the scene and stole a bicycle from the building hallway which he rode away on.  

Wilson fled the scene before officers arrived but was later connected to the crime from DNA from a stain left on the young girl's duvet cover. When police recovered his DNA and ran his name they realized he was also being sought for additional burglaries. 

The serial burglar and sexual assailant was arrested and jailed this week on $500,000 cash bail or $750,000 bond at a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday. 

'I'm requiring this defendant to return to court,' said Judge Anne Swern of the bail. 'Because of that criminal record. Because of the fact that he was not reachable by phone. Because I know he goes by a number of different names. Because he has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ... a number of different Social Security numbers.'

'I think he faces a significant period of incarceration.'

Wilson's recent prior arrests include at least six burglaries, plus arrests on four successive days in May for lesser offenses since November. He was repeatedly released with no bail sometimes with no conditions, other times under terms of supervisory release such as addiction treatment or job training. 

A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. acknowledged bail was not sought in a number of cases where prosecutors had the option to do so, according to the Daily News

 

New state reform laws enacted in 2020 demand that suspects in a long list of crimes go free without having to post bail. Shea has blamed New York's sharp rise in crime on New York's new bail reform laws. On July 7, Shea pointed to the sweeping bail reform measures when asked about the city's surge in crime. 

'I think you've got to get uncomfortable here, and the uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people is we have to address that law that was passed in 2019, and the implications that we're feeling today' referring to the bail reform. 

In February the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice released a report showing that, 97%, of the roughly 50,000 people awaiting trial monthly in 2020 haven't been re-arrested. While Judges have increasingly used supervised released as an alternative to jail, this trend existed before New York City reformed bail laws and continued afterward.  

 

New York Post analysis of NYPD's crime statistics data found that most people released under the criminal justice reforms were not connected to the surge of violent crimes. Criminal justice experts suggest that the cops focus on the flow of illegal guns into the city instead which the White House has announced plans to do.