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    [–] Bill Weld says in Utah that he has ‘moral duty’ to offer Republicans a ballot alternative to Trump system_exposure 1 points ago in politics

    Donald Trump still may not make it to the general, in which case the effects of negative partisanship will still be in play. Having a candidate like Weld ready to go mitigates the risk of an authoritarian Trump clone filling the void.

    [–] Bill Weld says in Utah that he has ‘moral duty’ to offer Republicans a ballot alternative to Trump system_exposure 1 points ago in politics

    “If I contributed to Mr. Trump not getting reelected, would that be winning?” Weld asked. “The answer is it would be a solid achievement that I would be proud to have done. But it wouldn’t be winning.”

    ~ Weld

    Weakening Donald Trump during the primary is a moral victory.

    [–] Trump directly sought to block publication of Bolton's book: WaPo system_exposure 1 points ago * (lasted edited 6 hours ago) in politics

    John Bolton getting what he wants may be (and may have been) the most significant factor in whether or not the truth is revealed with any impact.

    I fear he is getting exactly what he wants:

    Just Security: John Bolton’s Silence — Here’s how he could lawfully break it

    There’s no doubt that Bolton would face serious criminal exposure if he simply published his book without waiting for a green-light from the censors. The National Security Council has already indicated its view that the book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” including information “at the TOP SECRET level.” Particularly given the players involved, it doesn’t seem inconceivable that, if Bolton published his book without authorization, the Justice Department would file charges against him under the Espionage Act. (That Act makes it a felony for government insiders to communicate information relating to the national defense.) But Bolton has other options. It seems reasonable to ask why he’s not taking advantage of them.

    Donald Trump knew unfavorable information was at risk of coming out via Bolton, which was the decision making context during impeachment in which he decided to carry out his reckless escalatory strike against Qasem Soleimani.

    [–] Trump wants to block Bolton’s book, claiming most conversations are classified system_exposure 4 points ago * (lasted edited 17 hours ago) in politics

    John Bolton getting what he wants may be (and may have been) the most significant factor in whether or not the truth is revealed with any impact.

    I fear he is getting exactly what he wants:

    Just Security: John Bolton’s Silence — Here’s how he could lawfully break it

    There’s no doubt that Bolton would face serious criminal exposure if he simply published his book without waiting for a green-light from the censors. The National Security Council has already indicated its view that the book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” including information “at the TOP SECRET level.” Particularly given the players involved, it doesn’t seem inconceivable that, if Bolton published his book without authorization, the Justice Department would file charges against him under the Espionage Act. (That Act makes it a felony for government insiders to communicate information relating to the national defense.) But Bolton has other options. It seems reasonable to ask why he’s not taking advantage of them.

    The American Interest: Blocking Bolton’s Book

    Whatever Bolton decides to do, the public interest in the outcome is clear. It lies in protecting legitimate secrets, ensuring that the classification system is not misused to shield embarrassment or criminality, and revealing presidential malfeasance in a timely manner. The Trump White House appears determined, yet again, to trample on the public interest. Of course, Bolton has had the opportunity to tell his story to the media at any time. For reasons that have invited a lot of dark speculation, he has declined to do so. Whatever one’s guess about Bolton’s motives (I am not alone in being deeply troubled by his silence), the future of his memoir is a matter that concerns us all.

    Donald Trump knew unfavorable information was at risk of coming out via Bolton, which was the decision making context during impeachment in which he decided to carry out his reckless escalatory strike against Qasem Soleimani. Halkbank was helping Iran evade United States sanctions, and the strike framed Donald Trump to the contrary as taking a hard stance against Iran at the risk of destabilizing the region and sacrificing our soldiers' lives and welfare so he could survive impeachment.

    [–] Elections Agency Commissioner: ‘The Biggest Story at the FEC Is What’s Not Happening’ | Agency received a funding increase in Trump’s 2021 budget request, but that won’t matter unless commission regains a quorum. system_exposure 3 points ago in politics

    Article excerpt:

    At the start of 2019, the FEC had 344 enforcement matters at various stages and 101 were awaiting commission action (such as a vote or dismissal). By September, the commission was able to get the numbers down to 272 for enforcement matters at all stages and 63 awaiting commission action, according to Weintraub’s year-end report. However, with the loss of a quorum the caseload has increased to about 300 and the number of cases awaiting action rose to 119, said Weintraub.

    “Honestly the biggest story at the FEC is what’s not happening and that is anything that would require a working commission. It’s really unfortunate,” said Weintraub. The commission is supposed to have a six-member board, and it needs four members for its proceedings to be valid. With only three commissioners the agency cannot launch investigations, issue advisory opinions, publicize rules and make decisions on enforcement actions. This includes dealing with cases involving “illegal, undisclosed and even foreign money spending into election 2020,” the Center for Public Integrity stated.

    [–] Upheaval as 2020 Census Looms: Senate Chairmen Scrutinize Commerce Department Watchdog system_exposure 3 points ago in politics

    Article excerpt:

    In his letter to Gustafson last August, Grassley wrote, “You can imagine my concern when I began receiving these reports from within your office. … Those who have stepped forward have unanimously cited low office morale and lack of leadership as reasons for leaving or thinking of leaving their positions.”

    Then, in December 2019, Grassley, joined by Senators Wicker and Johnson, wrote another letter to Gustafson complaining of her response to previous requests for information. They wrote that what she “provided does not include enough context for us to determine the root causes of the leadership, staffing, and morale problems that are prevalent at Commerce OIG, nor does it include enough detail for us to determine the timing and extent of your efforts to address these problems.”

    Some whistleblowers contend that Gustafson has tried to compensate for what they describe as her professional disengagement by delegating tasks to Green, the office’s general counsel. He was found to have retaliated against multiple whistleblowers in a 2013 report by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an agency that investigates federal whistleblower complaints.

    According to the Office of Special Counsel report, Green negotiated gag clauses for departing employees, and the inspector general office’s management “used its authority, including the threat of failing performance ratings and delayed release dates, to effect these separation agreements.”

    The Office of Special Counsel report continues, “In return, the employees gave up their right to make disclosures to OSC, Congress, or the media and they withdrew their pending EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] complaints and/or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The whistleblowers would not have signed such agreements if not for the retaliatory and coercive acts by management.”

    [–] Trump puts an unqualified loyalist in charge of national intelligence system_exposure 2 points ago * (lasted edited a day ago) in politics

    He already openly has once and new sanctions were just added again yesterday, while Iran has expressed tentative interest in talks with simultaneous reservations about sanctions.

    [–] Trump puts an unqualified loyalist in charge of national intelligence system_exposure 18 points ago * (lasted edited 2 days ago) in politics

    I am worried this is part of an effort to override the qualified perspective of the intelligence community, in order to justify attacking Iran, as occurred with the creation of the OSP in the lead up to the Iraq war. I think this article from the Jerusalem Post provides an interesting perspective on the relevance of Grenell, beyond questions of competence. It paints him in a glowing light, relative to Israeli interests and Donald Trump, but also provides greater detail on his aggressive anti-Iranian posture while serving as ambassador to Germany---which is disconcerting---and so far lacking from US coverage.

    It is also deeply troubling that the House worldwide threat assessment has been delayed in this context, which could have provided intelligence community leaders an opportunity to speak to the true nature of global threats, prior to his appointment.

    [–] How to Beat a Populist system_exposure 0 points ago * (lasted edited 2 days ago) in politics

    I would listen and wonder if you were objecting to the headline or the article content.

    In my last column, I explained the twelve-step program illiberal populists pursue as they seek to drag democracies down to fit their authoritarian personalities and ambitions.

    Defeating illiberal authoritarian populists is the focus of the article.

    The web of institutional and normative checks on pure “majority rule” has come to be considered foundational to a liberal or “high quality” democracy. It is these formal and informal checks—the political independence of the courts, the parliament, auditors, inspectors general, the civil service, the media, universities, businesses, and other elements of civil society—that populist presidents and prime ministers attack in their quest for untrammeled power. Once they have leveled these sources of scrutiny and restraint, the populists’ final step is to take effective control of electoral administration, so that even the purely democratic aspect of the system is degraded and their reelection largely assured.

    This is the process of creeping authoritarianism by which vibrant democracies have been ravaged in countries such as Venezuela, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bolivia, and now the Philippines. It now seriously threatens the quality and even the survival of the world’s largest democracy, India. It has afflicted post-communist democracies such as Hungary and Poland, with the former descending into an electoral authoritarian regime. And, with the rise of xenophobic and illiberal parties like Alternative for Germany, the Sweden Democrats, the National Front (in France), and the League (in Italy), it now stalks the landscape of a number of advanced democracies in Western Europe.

    Once in power, there is no self-imposed limit on how far populism will go to erode democracy. It starts by assaulting the liberal elements—tolerance, accountability, and the rule of law. Once it has gutted those, it seeks to rig the electoral component, until and unless it meets insuperable civic resistance or is defeated at the ballot box. Logic and history show that the safest and most decisive way to contain the threat that populists pose to democracy is to defeat them in an election—while elections remain democratic. But how can populism be defeated?

    [–] How to Beat a Populist system_exposure 1 points ago in politics

    I disagree.

    It is spearheaded by populists who claim to speak on behalf of the forgotten man and the common people and those left behind, but when truth and science and facts are attacked---the people who benefit most are elites, because we live in a truth based world.

    ~ Tom Nichols | World Affairs 43:16

    [–] How to Beat a Populist system_exposure 3 points ago in politics

    Article excerpt:

    I wish these were merely lessons for the challenged democracies of Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. But unfortunately, they present an increasingly urgent imperative for the country that will matter most for the global future of democracy, the United States. With every passing day, the populist president of this country is escalating his assaults on accountability, civility, and the rule of law. If his recent acquittal in the Senate has unleashed such a tirade of abuse and retribution, what would his reelection bring? The future health of American democracy now depends on how well the Democratic Party can learn—with humility and savvy—the global lessons of how to beat a populist.