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Peter van Buren

Remember The Red Guards Before You Cheer The Woke Mobs

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I’m ambivalent about statues and J.K. Rowling being torn down, but terrified of the thought process behind the destruction. Decisions should never be made by mobs. 

Is America on the edge of a cultural revolution?

The historical namesake and obvious parallel is the Cultural Revolution in China, which lasted from 1966 to 1976. Its stated goal was to purge capitalist and traditional elements from society, and to substitute a new way of thinking based on Mao’s own beliefs. The epic struggle for control and power waged war against anybody on the wrong side of an idea.

To set the mobs on somebody, one needed only to tie him to an official blacklist like the Four Olds (old customs, culture, habits, and ideas). China’s young people and urban workers formed Red Guard units to go after whomever was outed. Violence? Yes, please. When Mao launched the movement in May 1966, he told his mobs to “bombard the headquarters” and made clear that “to rebel is justified.” He said “revisionists should be removed through violent class struggle.” The old thinkers were everywhere and were systematically trying to preserve their power and subjugate the people.
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Wake Up! Your Fears Are Being Manipulated

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I’m not worried about the guy coughing next to me. I’m worried about the ones who seem to be looking for Jim Jones.

Jones was the charismatic founder of the cult-like People’s Temple. Through fear-based control, he took his followers’ money and ran their lives. He isolated them in Guyana where he convinced over 900 of them to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced grape Kool Aid. Frightened people can be made to do anything. They just need a Jim Jones.

So it is more than a little scary that media zampolit Rick Wilson wrote to his 753,000 Twitter followers: “People who sank into their fear of Trump, who defended every outrage, who put him before what they knew was right, and pretended this chaos and corruption was a glorious new age will pay a terrible price. They deserve it.” The tweet was liked over 82,000 times.

The New York Times claims that “the specter of death speeds across the globe, ‘Appointment in Samara’-style, ever faster, culling the most vulnerable.” Others are claiming Trump will cancel the election to rule as a Jim Jones. “Every viewer who trusts the words of Earhardt or Hannity or Regan could well become a walking, breathing, droplet-spewing threat to the public,” opined the Washington Post. Drink the damn Kool Aid and join in the panic en route to Guyana.
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Lev Parnas is Not the Impeachment Witness You are Looking For…

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Lev Parnas is who we all hope is the last “Did too! Did Not!” player in the three year effort to find someway to drive Trump from office.

Parnas is a Ukrainian-born “businessman” who claims to be the missing link between Trump and evidence needed to impeach. Parnas is also under indictment for breaking campaign-finance laws by disguising donations from foreign entities to unnamed US politicians, and so is singing like the girl from Frozen to be let go. The media christened him the new White Knight of democracy. Is he?

Nah. Parnas is mostly an opportunist, with notes of stalker, groupie, and crazy guy who imagines Jodi Foster is in love with him from afar. He takes his place as the Hail Mary play in the blob that is impeachment now. He joins James Comey, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller, Michael Cohen, Michael Avenatti and his aggrieved porn stars, Christopher Steele, the tattered Russian oligarchs still waiting for their checks from Christopher Steele, The Masked Whistleblower, and so many others who came before them.

Though the media label him a Rudy Giuliani henchman, associate, thug, or fixer, and thus by extension a Trump henchman, associate, thug, or fixer, Parnas instead paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for “business and legal advice.” He didn’t work for Guliani, Giuliani worked for him. And in the you-can’t-make-this-up category, Parnas’ company is called Fraud Guarantee.
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State Department Shoots Itself in the Foot at Impeachment Hearings

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The State Department, where I worked 24 years as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) and diplomat, reminds me a lot of my current hometown, New York City. Both places spend an inordinate amount of time telling outsiders how great they are while ignoring the obvious garbage piled up around them. It’s almost as if they’re trying to tell themselves more than others everything is OK.

Like NYC convincing itself the Broadway lights mean you won’t notice the wicked homeless problem and decaying infrastructure, the State Department fully misunderstands how it really appears to others. Across Facebook groups and internal channels, FSOs this week are sending each other little messages tagged #FSProud quoting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s closing soliloquy from her impeachment testimony.

Yovanovitch’s testimony otherwise read like the HR complaint from hell, as if she was auditioning for a Disgruntled Employee poster child position to cap off her career. She had already been fired by the time the alleged impeachable act took place — during Trump’s July 25 phone call — and was stuck in a placeholder job far removed from Ukrainian policy. She witnessed nothing of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the House is investigating, and basically used her time to complain she knew more than her boss did so he fired her.
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Impeachment Witness Questions

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In addition to the whistleblower himself, when Republicans get their chance to fully question the people whose testimony is now being stage managed by the Democrats, here are the points they must make to illustrate all this.
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So, Admiral McRaven Just Called for a Military Coup, Kinda

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Admiral William McRaven, famous for being the guy who told the guy who told the other guy who told the other guy who told that guy to go kill bin Laden, has essentially called for a military coup against the President of the United States in a New York Times Op-Ed.

He begins with something to get the blood up, a call to the good military stuff, invoking generals who are “highly decorated, impeccably dressed, cleareyed and strong of character, [yet] were humbled by the moment” at a change of command ceremony. Then a little history, invoking the WWII Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to today’s CIA and Special Operations community, who had “faith that these values were worth sacrificing everything for.” In case it wasn’t clear, they “personified all that is good and decent and honorable about the American military,” his Op-Ed’s intended audience.

Then, invoking that oath that requires the military to protect America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, McRaven explains to them why they are being now called to battle: “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.” This is not subtle.
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Finding a Vaccine for the Impeachment Derangement Virus

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Once intelligent people are talking about actual civil war in America. This began after Trump retweeted a pastor saying impeachment would cause a “civil war-like fracture in this Nation.” Never mind that it was a retweet, and never mind that the original statement used “like” to make a comparison. The next headline was set: Trump Threatens Civil War If He’s Impeached. Newsweek quoted a Harvard Law professor saying that the “threat” alone made Trump impeachable. Another headline asked: “If Trump’s Rage Brings Civil War, Where Will the Military Stand?”

Blowing up some online nonsense into a declaration of war tracks with the meme that Trump will refuse to leave office if defeated in 2020, or will declare himself the winner even if he loses, sending coded messages to armed minions. “Trump Is Going to Burn Down Everything and Everyone,” reads the headline from a NASDAQ-listed media outlet. “Before Trump will allow himself to be chased from the temple, he’ll bring it down,” wrote The New York Times.

That’s just what the MSM is saying; it gets worse the further off the road you drive. “Trump is going to try everything, Fox is going to try everything, and they’re going to both further the injuring of societal reality and inspire dangerous individuals to kill and maim,” Jared Yates Sexton, a well-known academic, tweeted on September 28. “There’s a vast number of people in this, people who have been taught their whole lives that they might need to kill in case of a coup or corrupt takeover,” he continued. “Trump and Republicans signal to them constantly. They’re more than ready to see this as the occasion.”
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Bullies Like Me

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Harvard revoked a Parkland student’s admission, a survivor kid who supported the Second Amendment. Two former Central Park 5 prosecutors lost their jobs 30 years after the case, because of a Netflix movie released last week called “When They See Us.” By the time you read this, the Left will have forced another voice off Twitter, and bullied another small business for offending their rules on gender and cake.
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Amash is Wrong, Pelosi (So Far…) is Right on Articles of Impeachment

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Even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tries to put impeachment talk on the back burner within her own party, Justin Amash became the first Republican Congressman to call for it. This weekend on Twitter, as the Founders intended, Amash wrote “Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”

Amash goes on to say impeachment simply requires “an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.”

Of course tweets are not Articles of Impeachment to be voted on, Mueller’s Report specifically does not indict Trump for obstruction, the Report does not state the reason for not indicting Trump is because he is president, and the Constitution does not include “careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct” as grounds for impeachment.

People may not like any of that, but those are the starting and ending points on impeachment and simply repeating an alternate version cannot change things. So this all may be little more than grandstanding by Amash.
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Iraq Wrecked Me for Nothing

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I recently spoke to some college students who, I realized, were in fifth grade when I got on a plane to Iraq. They now study that stuff in history classes like “Opportunities and Errors: 21st-Century America in the Middle East.” About halfway through our conversation, I realized it’s coming up on 10 years since I first went to Iraq. Now that’s real history.

I was a Foreign Service Officer then, a diplomat, embedded with the US Army at a series of forward operating bases and in charge of a couple of reconstruction teams, small parts of a complex failure to rebuild the Iraq we wrecked. I ended up writing a book about it all, explaining in tragicomic terms how we failed (those “Errors”).

The book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People was—and wasn’t—well-received. People laughed at the funny parts, but my message—it didn’t work and here’s why—was largely dissipated at the time (2012) by government and media propaganda centered on The Surge. That was David Petraeus’s plan to pacify the Sunnis and push al-Qaeda away, while clearing, holding, and building across the country, apparently to make room so ISIS and the Iranians could move in.

Meanwhile, the new American president, elected in part based on his “no” vote on the war in 2003, proclaimed it all a victory and started bringing the troops home even while I was still in Iraq. Meanwhile my employer, the US Department of State, was unhappy with my book. After a year-long process, State pushed me into early retirement. My career was history.
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