Ukraine update: ‘Trying to choke off an aggressive fascist state without starting WW III’

Mike Jason retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel and went on to become a professor, historian, author, and speech writer. In recent years, he’s been notable both for his cogent explanation of U.S. failings during the occupation of Afghanistan, and his vocal defense of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Since this has been a day for looking at analysis of the situation in Ukraine and in Russia, this seems like a good time to bring up Jason’s look the other end of the cost of the war—what it will cost in the United States?

To start with, that costs is definitely worth it. 

“The world, with American leadership, Is trying to choke off an aggressive fascist state without starting WWIII. As a result, gas prices are going to go up. Hell, the price of everything is going to go up.”

On the surface, this tradeoff seems almost superficial. Bring down an aggressive fascist state without directly engaging the U.S. military, and while doing everything possible to prevent the war from expanding outside it’s current area of conflict? It seems like an easy deal. However, as Jason points out, just because it’s a better deal than an actual shooting war between NATO and Russia, doesn’t mean it’s a get-out-of-pain free card. For many people, the increases in costs will hit hard. There are millions of people out there who are always on the brink when it comes to their finances. There are also people out there who might have just made a decision—like buying a new truck—which seemed completely reasonable without factoring in a war they didn’t know was coming.

“First, from my old unit pep talks:  ‘don't be an asshole.’ Now is not the time to make your dig about someone's pick up truck choice or to be smug about your Tesla. Everything will cost more for everyone.  Remember we are all in this together.”

For better than a decade, oil prices have been remarkably low. After peaking around 2008, at a point when it looked like $100 a barrel and up was the indefinite future, the rapid spread of fracking across the U.S. and around the world brought on a super abundance; a world where oil production has been limited by demand rather than production. In Cheap Oil World, some of the dependencies and decisions that were made seemed entirely reasonable (so long, of course, as the environment, and specifically the critical damage to the climate, weren’t considered).

But now we’re seeing the price of cheap oil and cheap natural gas. And if we’re not careful, we’ll pay for it in widening divisions in the U.S.

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 6:48:43 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

So when the gas prices go up, be ready, buckle your chin strap, don't be an asshole, rather find ways to help others mitigate the pain so we can choke the bastards together. End.

— Mike Jason (@mikejason73) March 8, 2022

One thing that can definitely help: All those guys shouting “back to the office!” because seeing people neatly stuffed in rows of cubicles satisfies their ego, can chill for awhile. Working from home saves gas. And saving gas is the best way to limit the cost of this war.

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 6:54:14 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

As Hunter notes, McDonald’s has joined hundreds of other corporations in closing their Russian locations — at least for now. However, there are still big name U.S. companies operating in Russia.

Also, that damn shirt is still up on Amazon.

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 6:58:47 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Thirty years after this iconic picture, McDonalds withdraws from Russia pic.twitter.com/SeoGX1mvhi

— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) March 8, 2022

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 7:01:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

The Ukrainian ministry of defense is setting the number at over 11,000 Russian troops killed, wounded, or captured. That’s about 6% of those who were arrayed for this conflict.

⚡️ Pentagon: 2,000-4,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Scott Berrier said that the intelligence community has “low confidence” in its assessment of how many Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine, CNN reports.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 8, 2022

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 7:06:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Standing ovation for Ukrainian President Zelensky upon completion of his remarks to U.K. Parliament. Watch full video here: https://t.co/q1aqEoXfCB pic.twitter.com/N9YleQQqMX

— CSPAN (@cspan) March 8, 2022

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 7:10:16 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Movement (literally) on the deal to get more MiG-29s into Ukraine by engineering a swap for F-16s. For now, it seems the MiGs are on their way to a U.S. base in Germany. Whether they’ll fly from there into Ukraine isn’t clear.

BREAKING: Statement by the Polish government approves the transfer of all of the country's MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, likely as the first stage in a swap deal that will see them transferred to Ukraine.https://t.co/opMnx2HenZ

— Conflict News (@Conflicts) March 8, 2022

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 7:36:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This thread checking in with a Ukrainian military officer suggests that things may be going even worse for Russia than they seem. 

"They have lost far more than they expected. That is why they started peace negotiations on the second day of the war."

— Michael Weiss 🌻🇺🇸🇮🇪 (@michaeldweiss) March 8, 2022

Included in this is a claim that Russia lost 30 helicopters yesterday in a Ukrainian counterstrike outside Kharkiv. That would be about 1% of all the helicopters Russia has brought to this conflict taken down at a blow. Note that this hasn’t been recorded at Oryx because, at least at this time, there isn’t circulating video confirming the losses.

Tuesday, Mar 8, 2022 · 7:41:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This Polish mayor is not about to let former deputy prime minister of Italy, and head of the hard-right Northern League, Matteo Salvini, brush off his past support of Putin.

Salvini tries to go to the Ukrainian border with Polish mayor. Mayor whips out t-shirt with Putin on it Salvini once wore in European Parliament and says “no respect for you" pic.twitter.com/7ahSzwlHnV

— Ian Bateson (@ianbateson) March 8, 2022

Daily Kos readers have now raised over $1.2 million to help Ukrainian refugees through a group of charities. Help keep that support going.

Joint Chiefs of Staff made plans to resign rather than obey Trump’s ‘gospel of the Führer’

Previously released excerpts from a new book by Washington Post reporters indicated tension between members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Trump White House. However, additional material released on Wednesday night by CNN takes this to a new and terrifying level. According to Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, senior military officers were so concerned that Donald Trump might drag the military into a coup, that they developed a plan to resign, one by one, rather than accept an order to take part in such a plot.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley appears to have been particularly concerned about the idea he might simply refuse to leave office, and that in his final days in power, Trump would use the military to carry out his schemes. Milley, who took part in Trump’s Bible-waving stroll across Lafayette Square, was disturbed at how Trump inserted sycophants into key roles at the Pentagon following the election and saw this as a sign of an upcoming attempt to maintain power at the point of a gun.

According to the authors, Milley grew so concerned that he discussed the possibility not just with his friends, but with other generals and with members of Congress. "They may try, but they're not going to f**king succeed," Milley told his staff. "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."

The book also indicates that Milley had specific concerns about Jan. 6. Trump’s calls for supporters to come to D.C. for a “wild” event, and intelligence showing that militia members were planning to attend in numbers, left Milley fretting Trump was deliberately “stoking unrest” and that he was trying to create an incident that would justify the use of the Insurrection Act along with military force.

“This is a Reichstag moment.”

Seeing Trump as a “classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” Milley became convinced he’d seen this story before. With Trump calling for a “Million MAGA March” following his loss in November, Milley feared it “could be the modern American equivalent of 'brownshirts in the streets.” In addition to referencing incidents in which Nazis had used violence to bring Adolf Hitler to power, Milley supposedly referenced the incident that Hitler had staged, then leveraged as a means of using violence against his enemies. "This is a Reichstag moment. The gospel of the Führer."

One of MIlley’s colleagues, quoted anonymously, confirmed to him that “this is all real” and warned the general "What they are trying to do here is overturn the government. ... You are one of the few guys who are standing between us and some really bad stuff."

The revelations out of the book show a last minute scramble at the White House, with Trump clutching at every conspiracy theory and working to put in place those who might go along with a scheme to defy the outcome of the election. According to the authors, Milley was instrumental in preventing Trump from replacing FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, with Milley regarding both of those positions as pivotal to the success or failure of any coup.

 According to the book, Trump’s spiral into darkness was so severe that even Mike Pompeo came to Milley for a “heart to heart” talk in which he complained “you know the crazies are taking over.”

The incidents described in the book go beyond disturbing. They describe a nation well beyond the brink, with a White House actively working to position assets for an end of democracy and military leadership developing a pushback that was not at all certain of success. The revelations are terrifying enough that “shocking” seems an all-too-insubstantial term.

But there is one thing that isn’t completely clear. Though the article states that the book developed from over a hundred interviews conducted by Leonnig and Rucker, it doesn’t make clear when this information was known to them. If Washington Post reporters were aware in the final days of Trump’s occupation of the White House, that he was plotting to keep control of the nation, shouldn’t the nation have been made aware? And if there were reports that top military officials were convinced that Trump’s actions following the election were intended to generate violence, shouldn’t that information have been provided to case managers in Trump’s second impeachment?

There are a number of upcoming books on the final awful days of Trump, and the revelations will continue. But the first question these books need to answer is why are we just hearing about this now?

Yevgeny Vindman receives Army promotion after Pentagon wipes retaliatory Trump claims from record

During the first of what would become two distinct Donald Trump impeachment trials, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman became an important witness for doing what none of Trump's surrounding Republican partisans could muster: giving a full, under-oath accounting of the events surrounding Trump's linkage of congressionally mandated military aid to an at-war Ukraine to a brazenly corrupt pressuring of that government to announce an investigation of Rudy Giuliani-pushed conspiracy theories against Trump's presidential election opponent.

For that testimony, both Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny, also a lieutenant colonel, faced the retaliation of the crooked White House. Alexander chose early retirement after Trump and cronies booted him from his post, forcibly escorted from the White House, and blocked him from further military promotion. Yevgeny filed a complaint charging that the White House's identical retaliations against him were spurred not just for his own cooperation with impeachment investigators but his own whistleblower reports against previous episodes of administration crookedness, a complaint that was backed by House Democrats and which is still being probed by the Pentagon's office of inspector general.

There is now at least some small amount of good news to report. Now that conservatism's least-organized organized crime family has been expelled, Army. Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman has been selected for the promotion he was previously due, and will now become a full colonel.

It wasn't necessarily going to turn out this way. Trump's team of crooks retaliated against each of the witnesses against them, in the Vindmans' cases penning new performance reviews designed to squash any military attempt to promote them. While there has yet to be any consequences for those retaliation efforts, the Vindman promotion is a signal that the Pentagon powers-that-be do indeed consider those reviews to have been retaliatory, rather than accurate. And that's a ... surprising amount of common sense from inside the military bureaucracy.

Indeed, Politico reports that Army assistant deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Michel Russell determined the evaluations to be "not objective," and in January those retaliatory reviews were wiped from Vindman's record.

As for brother Alex, he remains retired. In a Monday op-ed endorsing defamation lawsuits against conservative media liars, he writes that he made a mistake when he "did not respond forcefully to the threats and defamation" against him by Trump proxies, and that he "should have sued those who amplified [Trump's] campaign of defamation."

"When Fox News stars and more fringe networks like Newsmax and One America News Network make baseless and outrageous claims about “stolen elections,” “communist Democrats,” and “fascist main-stream media,” they are building on lies about individuals,” Vindman wrote. “They are galvanizing extremism on the back of defamation. Too many of those defamed individuals, including myself, have allowed extremist claims to go unanswered."

President Trump’s Farewell Speech: ‘We Will Be Back’

President Donald Trump told a group of supporters at a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews Wednesday morning that, “We will be back in some form.”

The President and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for the final time for Florida and Mar-a-Lago.

“We left it all on the field. What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard,” Trump said. The First lady also spoke.

In a goodwill gesture, Donald Trump said this morning of the incoming administration, “I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success.”

Trump also said he had left a note for Joe Biden in the White House.

Trump’s Record Features Many Successes

Always one to tout his accomplishments, mainly because no one else but conservative media would, Trump talked about things such as a new branch of the military, the Space Force, tax cuts, and a pre-pandemic booming economy.

And the Trump administration did do amazing things. The Space Force takes over some duties from the Air Force, a lot of which will have to do with satellite technology, GPS, and intelligence gathering. 

The Trump tax cuts were some of the most consequential in decades, and allowed American workers to take home more of what they earned. This helped to create the booming economy. On November 24, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high of 30,045.84 points. 

Unemployment for nearly every demographic also reached all time lows. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, African-Americans enjoyed the lowest unemployment rates since the 70’s. 

The Era Of Biden/Harris

But as Donald Trump makes his way to Florida to begin his life as a former president, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to take office.

For most conservatives, this is a sad day. One that we did not think we would see, at least for another four years.  

Already, Biden has promised to reverse much of the success America has enjoyed for the last four years.

This morning, President Trump speculated as to whether or not Joe Biden will raise taxes. “I hope they don’t raise your taxes, but if they do I told you so.” Trump said. 

Guess what, Joe Biden already said he would raise your taxes. When someone tells you what they are going to do, believe them.

Biden is expected to unleash 17 executive orders aimed at reversing Trump policies – particularly on immigration.

Do They Really Think Trump Is Going Away?

Donald Trump will spend the next few days or weeks doing what most ex-presidents do, relax and play golf. He has more than earned that.

Most conservatives will no doubt say that they have never seen such hatred and vitriol directed at one man and one family. It was downright pathological.   

But the things that the leftist media says about Trump are quite different from what those who know him say.

Over and over one hears about Donald Trump’s energy and his work ethic. Most that have worked with him say they have never seen a man his age with so much stamina. At 74, he puts in a longer day than a lot of people half his age. 

The one question that anyone who follows politics is, does anyone think that this is the end of the political road for Donald Trump?

Does the left really think that he is just going to live out his days, peacefully and quietly at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by grandchildren? 

A good guess might be… not a chance. 

There has been plenty of speculation about the next political moves for Donald Trump. One theory is that he might start his own media empire.

In a report from Axios in November, Trump talked about starting his own media company as competition for Fox News, who called Arizona early on election night for Joe Biden, and may have swung the election to the Democrats. 

Third Party Chatter

During that last days of his administration, Trump has been at odds with members of the Republican Party, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been rumored to support impeachment.  

There seems to be increasing speculation that Trump may want to start a third party. There is no doubt that 74 million people feel that rampant voter fraud took place in 2020, and that their votes were thrown out. 

There is also increasing anger at the Republican Party, who most of those 74 million feel have abandoned them to play go-along-to-get-along with a Democrat Party who will control the federal government. The phrase “uniparty” is being tossed about a lot. 

Could the ‘Patriot Party’ gain traction in a country where third parties have not done well?

With 74 million people who the Democrats call racists and white supremacists every chance they get, and a Republican Party whose current leaders want to go back to the pre-Trump days of the McCain-Romney-McConnell “lose with honor” strategy, the Patriot Party with Donald Trump at the helm just might have a fighting chance. 

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As he left for Florida, Donald Trump said, “We love the American people,” and that being president had been “the honor of a lifetime.”

He ended his remarks by saying, “I just want to say you are amazing people. This is a great country. It has been my greatest honor and privilege to be your president. I will always fight for you.”

It might be that a good chunk of the American people are not done fighting for Donald Trump, either.

The post President Trump’s Farewell Speech: ‘We Will Be Back’ appeared first on The Political Insider.

Pelosi Urges Military To Block ‘Unhinged’ President Trump From Nuclear Codes

As attempts to portray Donald Trump as mentally unhealthy and unstable increase, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Friday called on Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to prevent the President Trump from having access to the nuclear codes.

Pelosi called the president “unhinged” and “dangerous.”

Since the rally-turned-riot on Wednesday in Washington D.C., Democrats have blamed President Trump for inciting the violence.

Attempting To Remove Trump From Office

In a statement, Pelosi explained her extraordinary move.

“This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote.

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,” she wrote.

Pelosi’s concern for President Trump “initiating military hostilities” come less than two weeks after Congress voted to block President Trump from withdrawing troops from the 20-year War in Afghanistan.

With just twelve days left in Donald Trump’s presidency, Democrats have called on Vice President Mike Pence and the rest of the Cabinet to remove Trump from office via the 25th Amendment.

Failing that, they have threatened a second impeachment.

RELATED: Nancy Pelosi: After ‘Armed Insurrection’ House Could Impeach Trump Again

Since Wednesday, the CEO’s of several of the most prominent social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, have suspended President Trump’s accounts.

Facebook has suspended Trump’s account until Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Twitter is also considering a permanent ban.

RELATED: Michelle Obama Demands Big Tech Permanently Ban ‘Infantile and Unpatriotic’ President Trump

Those Who Are Piling On

While she has not overtly called for President Trump’s removal or resignation, former First Lady Michelle Obama also called for Trump to be banned from social media.

Obama called Trump supporters who were at the rally “a gang,” and said that, “the riots were a fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can’t handle the truth of his own failures.”

On Thursday, the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal also called for President Trump to resign.

In their statement, they claimed that Trump “incited a crowd to march on the Legislative Branch,” and say, “it crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump hasn’t previously crossed. It is impeachable.” 

Several Cabinet members have resigned in the wake of Wednesday’s events at the Capitol.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and more recently Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have resigned. 

Which One Is More Likely To Happen?

Democrats have said that if Mike Pence does not act, they will immediately begin the impeachment process.

In order to invoke the 25th Amendment Vice President Mike Pence would have to have a majority of the Cabinet in agreement with him. The President can dispute this with a letter to Congress.

Congress would vote, and it would take a two-thirds supermajority, 67 Senators and 290 House members, to remove him from power.

Congress can also appoint its own body to review the President’s fitness. 

RELATED: Federal Prosecutor Could Bring Criminal Charges Against President Trump For Capitol Violence

Any impeachment process would have to go through a still-Republican Senate.

According to a report in Politico, two articles of impeachment have already been drafted, but Senate Republicans are not willing to go through another impeachment.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said, “a last-minute attempt to impeach Trump would backfire.”

The post Pelosi Urges Military To Block ‘Unhinged’ President Trump From Nuclear Codes appeared first on The Political Insider.

The Pentagon wants to ban the Confederate flag on military bases—but Mark Esper might intervene

Politico reports that top military leaders are "pressuring" Defense Secretary Mark Esper to ban Confederate flags on military bases, and that those officials discussed such a ban at a top-level meeting yesterday. The premise here is that the Pentagon wants Mark Esper to go directly against Dear Dumb Leader, Donald Trump, who most specifically has been campaigning against Confederate flag bans, against renaming military bases to strip the names of Confederate leaders, and against removing statutes of Confederate-traitors-and-the-horses-they-rode-in-on.

Let's all put on our pundit hats and take a guess where Mark Esper is going to come down on this, shall we?

The facts are these: Mark Esper has supported Trump through every rotten thing Trump has done to the military. He stood by while Trump pardoned war criminals and removed top brass who opposed it. He enabled Trump's reach-down to punish a military official who provided damning testimony during the congressional impeachment investigation against Trump. He followed orders to dispatch troops in preparation to sweep Black Lives Matters demonstrators from Washington, D.C. streets by force, if necessary. Mark Esper remains defense secretary right now because he has methodically made sure to keep on Donald Trump's good side, even if keeping on Trump's good side means standing aside while Trump does grotesquely corrupt or anti-American things.

So if the joint chiefs and other top officials are requesting Esper do the obviously decent thing here, but Donald Trump's ever-frothing Twitter feed is absolutely purple-faced with rage against anyone who would dare do such a thing, one would have to be a bit dense to presume Esper was suddenly going to decide the nationwide symbol of slack-jawed white supremacy needed to be given the boot.

Oh, and while the Marine Corps, for example, tried to ban Confederate flags on their own authority, Esper put those policies on hold, ostensibly in preparation for a "department-wide" policy on the matter.

Politico's report also suggests a potential dodge for Esper. Esper could unveil a new policy prohibiting "racially or socially divisive symbols" in general, and the Confederate flag might be counted as one of those "divisive" symbols, perhaps without mentioning it (thus leading individual commands to make the decision without Esper having to do something brave) or perhaps mentioning it in a long list of other "divisive" symbols (in an attempt to water down the impression that the flag was specifically targeted).

Both of those might be plausible evasions in normal bureaucratic times, but Trump is single-minded about the things he chooses to be single-minded about. Any policy—any policy—that Fox News reports has the effect of banning the Confederate flag will send him into fits, and Esper will be blamed.

So this seems to be yet another situation, as in Trump's pardoning of war criminals or Trump's retaliations against military officers, in which Esper must choose between doing the obviously right and decent thing, and chucking that thing in order to polish Trump's boots. The odds that Esper would have stood by while Trump was a rat bastard all the other times, but this issue is the one he'll break from Dear Leader on, seem kind of low.

The Pentagon wants to ban the Confederate flag on military bases—but Mark Esper might intervene

Politico reports that top military leaders are "pressuring" Defense Secretary Mark Esper to ban Confederate flags on military bases, and that those officials discussed such a ban at a top-level meeting yesterday. The premise here is that the Pentagon wants Mark Esper to go directly against Dear Dumb Leader, Donald Trump, who most specifically has been campaigning against Confederate flag bans, against renaming military bases to strip the names of Confederate leaders, and against removing statutes of Confederate-traitors-and-the-horses-they-rode-in-on.

Let's all put on our pundit hats and take a guess where Mark Esper is going to come down on this, shall we?

The facts are these: Mark Esper has supported Trump through every rotten thing Trump has done to the military. He stood by while Trump pardoned war criminals and removed top brass who opposed it. He enabled Trump's reach-down to punish a military official who provided damning testimony during the congressional impeachment investigation against Trump. He followed orders to dispatch troops in preparation to sweep Black Lives Matters demonstrators from Washington, D.C. streets by force, if necessary. Mark Esper remains defense secretary right now because he has methodically made sure to keep on Donald Trump's good side, even if keeping on Trump's good side means standing aside while Trump does grotesquely corrupt or anti-American things.

So if the joint chiefs and other top officials are requesting Esper do the obviously decent thing here, but Donald Trump's ever-frothing Twitter feed is absolutely purple-faced with rage against anyone who would dare do such a thing, one would have to be a bit dense to presume Esper was suddenly going to decide the nationwide symbol of slack-jawed white supremacy needed to be given the boot.

Oh, and while the Marine Corps, for example, tried to ban Confederate flags on their own authority, Esper put those policies on hold, ostensibly in preparation for a "department-wide" policy on the matter.

Politico's report also suggests a potential dodge for Esper. Esper could unveil a new policy prohibiting "racially or socially divisive symbols" in general, and the Confederate flag might be counted as one of those "divisive" symbols, perhaps without mentioning it (thus leading individual commands to make the decision without Esper having to do something brave) or perhaps mentioning it in a long list of other "divisive" symbols (in an attempt to water down the impression that the flag was specifically targeted).

Both of those might be plausible evasions in normal bureaucratic times, but Trump is single-minded about the things he chooses to be single-minded about. Any policy—any policy—that Fox News reports has the effect of banning the Confederate flag will send him into fits, and Esper will be blamed.

So this seems to be yet another situation, as in Trump's pardoning of war criminals or Trump's retaliations against military officers, in which Esper must choose between doing the obviously right and decent thing, and chucking that thing in order to polish Trump's boots. The odds that Esper would have stood by while Trump was a rat bastard all the other times, but this issue is the one he'll break from Dear Leader on, seem kind of low.

Trump ordered officials to find some reason to deny Vindman’s promotion—they found nothing

The early retirement of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman isn’t the largest story in a nation racked by a deadly pandemic, a fragmented economy, and an ongoing fight to restructure public safety in the face of racial violence by police. No one died in this story. No one was locked in a detention center. No one was pulled before a kangaroo court.

But as more details emerge on Vindman’s final months in the U. S. military, his story does seem to encapsulate so many themes of the last three years. In part that’s because Vindman’s story is the American story—an immigrant who demonstrated that, in America, he could be accepted right in the heart of the government for his expertise. In part that’s because Vindman so clearly placed his bet on honesty and patriotism, trusting in the story of America that America tells itself. And in part it’s because Vindman’s story is the story of Donald Trump’s America, where nothing is more important than vengeance.

Vindman wasn’t kicked out of the military and he wasn’t facing charges—it was just clear that he was facing a future of … no future. The promotion he was due to receive this summer was not going to happen. Worse still, it was made clear to him that his lifetime of experience in working on issues related to Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe was now worthless, because he was not going to be allowed to work in this area. Instead, what Vindman faced was a future of make-work positions, deliberately structured to make it clear both to him, and everyone else, that he was just marking time without the potential for further achievements.

That’s not a unique situation. It’s exactly the kind of thing that happens to many in the military when they’ve done something wrong. Captains who lose a ship, commanders who make a huge tactical mistake, anyone suspected of a crime that can never be quite nailed down … they can end up with a few key words in their files, a “black spot” that’s obvious every time they’re up for promotion or assignment. Facing a lifetime of zero potential and unfulfilling assignments, resignation is the expected response. Those who don’t resign right away, soon realize just how cold it can be within the military when the chain of command turns its back.

The thing is that Vindman got such a black spot without doing anything wrong. As The New Yorker reports, Vindman’s colleagues and supervisors had nothing but praise. 

When he went in front of the House to testify in Trump’s impeachment, Vindman began with an opening statement for the ages, one that underscored both his commitment to the nation, and his belief in the character of America. “Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision, forty years ago, to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry—I will be fine for telling the truth.”

In these faded times, it might have almost seemed as if Vindman was being ironic. However, his former boss Fiona Hill makes it clear that the moving statement was exactly as honest as it seemed. “Alex had no clue,” said Hill. “He’s a distinguished soldier and was not involved in politics. He was prepared to deal with the enemy outside, but not when the enemy was within. He was pretty shocked as it played out.”

After being escorted out of the White House, Vindman was slated to be promoted to full colonel, go to the National War College for a season, then return to a foreign posting. None of that happened. Because the White House made it clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion. 

Instead, White House officials informed Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy that they should “dig for misconduct” and find something in Vindman’s record that would justify blocking his promotion. Esper and McCarthy dug. They didn’t find anything.

It didn’t matter. Vindman was made aware that he would not be promoted, and “never be deployable overseas again.” He took the route that many have taken in the past and left under his own power.

It’s a personal tragedy for a man who should have had another decade or more of contributing to the future of the nation he loved. It’s a national tragedy in that it clearly shows how Trump is willing to use his power to quash the lives of honorable people who have the temerity to believe that America is what America claims to be.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman did his duty to the nation, and now he’s being forced out of the military

While John Bolton sat back and contemplated his huge book advance, and even larger supply of personal cowardice, those who had served under him demonstrated both bravery and dedication to the Constitution in coming forward to testify in the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. The two most critical witnesses of the entire event may have been Dr. Fiona Hill, who testified to how Trump suborned the foreign policy  of the United States to “a domestic political errand” and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who made it clear that Trump and others were promoting “a false and alternative narrative of Ukraine” and that Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president had generated serious concern.

In his opening statement before the House, Vindman sent a touching reassurance to his father. "Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth." However, even though he was slated for promotion this month, Vindman has now announced he is leaving the military. Because Donald Trump is determined to prove that the United States can be just as bad as the Soviet Union.

After over 21 years of service, Vindman was slated to be promoted to full colonel. However, there were concerns that Trump—who had Vindman both reassigned and escorted forcibly from the White House—might interfere. In normal times, this shouldn’t be a concern. However, these are anything but normal times, and considering that Trump had already acted against Vindman’s twin brother, even though he did not testify, the idea of Lt. Col. Vindman being persecuted for doing his duty both as a military officer and a citizen seemed a pretty good bet. 

Earlier this month, a purge got underway at the Defense Department as Trump flushed career officials and military officers who were seen as more loyal to anything, Constitution included, than to Trump. This included the removal of the top official overseeing international security, Kathryn Wheelbarger, and acting comptroller Elaine McCusker. Their crime was only that they had a “good relationship” with former general Jim Mattis. But now that Mattis is on Trump’s enemies list, so is everyone associated with him.

Considering that even guilt by association was enough to doom others, it shouldn’t be that surprising that CNN is now reporting that “military officials have communicated to Vindman that the White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.” Vindman has also been told that he is “no longer deployable” in his area of expertise. So, rather than stay around,  Vindman is retiring. In a statement from his attorney, the lieutenant colonel says that he has been subject to a "campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" directed by Trump since the impeachment. 

Vindman may be leaving now, but he should be going with the admiration of a nation—and a promise from Joe Biden that when Trump is gone, the military will once again have room for those who have demonstrated true personal bravery.

John Cusack Outrageously Claims Military Has ‘Abandoned’ Trump: Says Supporters He Still Has Are Racist

The radically liberal actor John Cusack had yet another unhinged meltdown stemming from Donald Trump and his supporters. In a deranged tweet that was full of typos, Cusack claimed that the president is “playing for an exit strategy” and that the only supporters he has left are racist.

“Trump is playing for an exit strategy—that keeps him from jail- miltary [sic] has abandoned his fascism—all he’s got left is rascists [sic]- He wants something to leverage – to stay out of jail,” Cusack tweeted, noticeably misspelling the words “military” and “racists.”

In another tweet today, Cusack called Trump a “bloated punk,” which just goes to show how deep his hatred for the president runs.

Cusack’s Twitter page is full of disturbing meltdowns against Trump and those who voted for him, indicating all-consuming hatred for the president equivalent to many of his Hollywood cohorts. Back in March, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Cusack called for another impeachment effort against Trump, saying it was necessary to “save lives.”

“We need strikes /  and we need to remove trump from power to save lives Impeach him again / Pressure for 25th,” he tweeted on March 31.

All Cusack is accomplishing with these tweets is showing the world that he is just another Hollywood liberal elitist who has lost all touch with reality.

This piece was written by PopZette Staff on June 13, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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