They Will Pay

Anyone who lives in California now knows to vote for Donald Trump this time. He has to carry this state. The price of him not carrying California is too high. He is a vengeful man. He never forgets and he certainly never forgives. Do not cross him, but this was a surprise:

The Justice Department has ended its antitrust investigation of automakers that formed a voluntary deal with California to reduce air pollution – a probe that was one of a series of punitive Trump administration actions against blue states and their liberal policies…

DOJ was investigating whether Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW illegally coordinated last year when they agreed to follow California’s stringent vehicle fuel-economy targets, largely out of concern for climate change.

Trump will not make those four major car companies pay dearly for siding with California, which is a bit of a relief:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom had attacked the DOJ inquiry as politically motivated and part of a pattern in President Donald Trump’s feud with the state over environmental rules and other issues.

“These trumped up charges were always a sham – a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” Newsom said in a statement Friday. “This is a big loss for the President and his weaponization of federal agencies – and a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”

Sure it’s a big loss, but Trump can afford this one loss:

In addition to the antitrust probe, Trump’s agencies have also threatened to take away California’s highway funding, sued over the state’s cross-border climate pact with Quebec and accused San Francisco of letting homeless people’s waste cause water pollution. On the other coast, the Department of Homeland Security this week barred New York residents from enrolling in federal programs that allow vetted travelers to breeze through airport lines, blaming a new state law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

As for that last item, the one thing has nothing to do with the other, but Trump can do that and did, because New York is a blue state too, one with a governor and attorney general who give him all sorts of grief.. They shut down his foundation, as a fraud, and made him pay a big fine. They may get his tax records. They had to pay for that sort of thing, as California will pay too:

The end of the antitrust probe came as the Trump administration is preparing to finish rolling back planned increases in federal fuel-economy standards and as it defends in court its decision to strip California’s long-standing ability to set its own requirements.

The latter action threatens to fracture the auto market, as 13 states plus the District of Columbia follow California’s standard, representing 40 percent of vehicle sales. California has asserted a right to set stronger marks due to its unique topography and persistent local air pollution problems.

Trump is grinning about that. The deadly smog will be back. People will die. Californians will die. He will have his revenge.

But there’s the little stuff too. Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times’ architecture critic, flags this odd story:

The Trump administration is now considering a draft executive order, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” that would direct the use of traditional or classical architectural styles for nearly all new federal buildings and renovations. Any project seeking exemption from the mandate would have to get approval from a presidential “re-beautification” committee. The order would take aim at various forms of modernism and seeks to undo the widely admired Design Excellence Program of the General Service Administration, a peer review system for selecting qualified architects for federal projects. The program’s director, David Insinga, resigned last week, according to the Architectural Record, which broke the news about the order.

So, all federal building will look the way Donald Trump wants them to look, classic, with the Doric columns, and big and marble and heroic, and one thinks of Albert Speer:

In 1937, Hitler appointed Speer as General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital. This carried with it the rank of undersecretary of state in the Reich government and gave him extraordinary powers over the Berlin city government. It also made Speer a member of the Reichstag, though the body by then had little effective power. Hitler ordered Speer to develop plans to rebuild Berlin. These centered on a three-mile-long grand boulevard running from north to south, which Speer called the Prachtstrasse, or Street of Magnificence; he also referred to it as the “North-South Axis”. At the northern end of the boulevard, Speer planned to build the Volkshalle, a huge domed assembly hall over 700 feet (210 m) high, with floor space for 180,000 people. At the southern end of the avenue, a great triumphal arch, almost 400 feet (120 m) high and able to fit the Arc de Triomphe inside its opening, was planned. The existing Berlin railroad termini were to be dismantled, and two large new stations built.

That didn’t work out. Speer and Hitler had a war to lose. But the plans were real, and Kimmelman sees this now:

The news prompted strong protests from within the architectural profession and among historic preservationists and supporters of traditional architecture as well.

That’s because it almost seems conceived to provoke supporters of both modern architecture and architectural diversity. It’s a shiny object, Twitter bait. The populists versus the elites. Outrage enraptures President Trump’s base. It’s a win-win for him.

That’s because of statements like this:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a statement Thursday in support of current federal standards, saying, “The draft order would put at risk federal buildings across the country that represent our full American story,” and adding, “We strongly oppose any effort to impose a narrow set of styles for future federal projects based on the architectural tastes of a few individuals.”

But they won. And they can get rid of the glass boxes and swoopy stuff and all the rest. And they can put a statue of Robert E. Lee or Dylann Roof in front of each new building too, which depresses Kimmelman:

No matter how much its supporters say that enforcement wouldn’t be dogmatic, the order provokes inevitable allusions to authoritarian regimes of the past that imposed their own architectural marching orders, and dredges up images of antebellum America, when classicizing Federal architecture was all the rage. Associations like these might sound extreme; but then, so does the order.

Just to have this argument feels demeaning, like so much else about American public discourse today. Shouldn’t it go without saying that the United States has long exercised its soft power by building embassies and other buildings whose architectural nonconformity conveys an expedient message of optimism, innovation and freedom?

Yeah, but innovation and freedom gave us the end to segregation and then gave us gay marriage. At least we can make all federal buildings look like the Deep South of long ago.

At least that would piss off a lot of people, as will this:

The Trump administration has lifted a ban on the U.S. military’s use of anti-personnel land mines outside of the Korean Peninsula. In a statement released Friday, the White House said the ban – implemented under the Obama administration – interfered with the president’s “steadfast commitment to ensuring our forces are able to defend against any and all threats.”

“The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama Administration’s policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries,” said press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “The President is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops.”

In short, he is not Obama. He will erase Obama. Eat shit, liberals. And the same goes for the rest of the world:

The announcement represents a break with the scores of countries around the world that have banned the weapon’s use. More than 160 countries, including NATO allies the U.K. and France, are party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction – better known as the Mine Ban Treaty, agreed on in 1997 and implemented in 1999.

There was a reason for that:

Critics are highly skeptical of the weapon’s capacity to act as advertised. Land mines cause thousands of reported casualties each year, the vast majority of which impact civilians, not military forces.

As the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor noted in a report last year, 71% of the casualties caused by land mines in 2018 were civilians. That share actually represents a dip from previous years, when the percentage of civilian casualties climbed as high as 87%.

“This dreadful policy decision is another dangerous change for this administration that further withdraws the United States from the global norm,” Jeff Abramson, senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, said in a statement Thursday anticipating the move. “This follows earlier steps such as making it easier to use cluster munitions, contrary to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and ending support for the Arms Trade Treaty – both treaties widely backed by US allies.”

“The world has moved on from the use of landmines,” he added. “The United States should too.”

Trump sees that as Obama talking. Our allies still like the guy. He’ll have none of that. And soon he’ll figure out that deep mine fields would be cheaper and easier that his big wall. The pop-up Daisy Cutters with shaped charges would blow the lower limbs off adults and would immediacy decapitate children. That would send a message!

But there are those who walk away from this stuff:

Richard Spencer, the Navy secretary fired from the Trump administration after he opposed the president’s intervention in the discipline of a SEAL accused of murder, told NBC News he had endorsed Democrat Mike Bloomberg for president “for the good of the country” and not out of vengeance.

“When I took the job as Navy secretary I came in as a grown-up,” said Spencer, a former Marine aviator and a lifelong Republican. “Every morning I put my resignation paper in my pocket so I could speak truth.”

“I took my stand, the president took his. It’s all over.” said Spencer.

“This decision here is for the good of the country,” she said. “Loyalty is to the country, not to a person.”

If one of his men is accused of committing murder, a war crime, he’d look into that, even if Trump says that no commander should ever do that:

Spencer endorsed Bloomberg during a campaign stop Friday morning in Norfolk, the home port of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. The former Navy secretary, who also briefly served as President Donald Trump’s acting defense secretary during summer 2019, became the first Trump political appointee to back one of the president’s potential November opponents.

Spencer left the Trump administration in November 2019 after Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for his resignation. Three days after his resignation, Spencer published an opinion article in the Washington Post saying Trump “has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military.”

And that’s where the disagreement lies:

On Nov. 21, 2019, Trump tweeted that Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, who had been acquitted of murdering an Iraqi civilian, should not be stripped of his SEAL trident insignia. Trump had earlier intervened in Gallagher’s case to restore his rank.

Gallagher had been charged with murder and other war crimes after the 2017 death of the Iraqi civilian. Several members of his unit testified he had shot civilians without provocation. One told investigators he was “freaking evil” and another called him “toxic.”

NBC News reported that after Trump’s tweet, Spencer told Trump that a tweet is not an order and that if the president wanted the Navy to end its review process for the revocation of Gallagher’s insignia, he needed to issue an order.

Yeah, but Trump likes those “freaking evil” killers. They’re so damned cool. Spencer was gone the next day, and then there’s this:

The Navy SEALs commander who clashed with President Trump over his pardons of convicted war criminals will be stepping down from his post this coming September, a year earlier than his scheduled departure.

Special Warfare Rear Adm. Collin Green was a 1986 graduate from the US Naval Academy and completed the Navy SEAL Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course two years later. His retirement comes in the wake of his move to take away the Trident pin of Special Warfare Operator Chief Eddie Gallagher, who was demoted and charged with war crimes, including the murder of an ISIS prisoner and the shooting of two civilians in Iraq in back in 2017.

That Trident pin is a matter of honor. Green didn’t think Gallagher should be allowed to wear it now. His fellow SEALs agree. Gallagher is an embarrassment. He shames them all. But perhaps shame is just stupid:

President Trump stepped in to free Gallagher from prison and restore his rank, saying that he was “sticking up for our armed forces” and that “there’s never been a president that’s going to stick up for them, and has, like I have.”

And their commanders can go to hell? They don’t have to follow their stupid orders about not shooting civilian children dead in the streets? Trump has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military? It doesn’t matter. He’s president.

He can do what he wants, and the week ended with this:

President Trump on Friday punished two witnesses who testified in the investigation that led to his impeachment, removing them from their posts in an apparent campaign to exact retribution on his perceived enemies in the wake of his acquittal in the Senate this week.

The White House ousted Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his post on the National Security Council and recalled U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, moves that were quickly condemned as vindictive and an attempt to intimidate government officials who speak out against Trump.

Well, yes, they were. He is a vengeful man. He never forgets and he certainly never forgives. Do not cross him:

Vindman, a decorated combat veteran who testified in November that he was disturbed by Trump’s call for Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals, was escorted out of the White House on Friday, according to his lawyer, David Pressman.

“There is no question in the mind of any American why this man’s job is over, why this country now has one less soldier serving it at the White House,” Pressman said in a statement. “LTC Vindman was asked to leave for telling the truth. His honor, his commitment to right, frightened the powerful.”

Of course that frightens the powerful, but they’re still powerful and his guy wasn’t, nor was the other guy:

Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, fell out of favor with the president after his testimony in November alleging that the president pursued an improper “quid pro quo” tying military aid for Ukraine to political investigations. Trump has long wanted to remove Sondland but was counseled against doing so during the impeachment process, according to officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations.

But now he could do it, and did do it, because he could, and because this pleased him:

Trump’s push to remove Sondland and Vindman – and to exact punishment on other figures involved in the nearly five-month impeachment process – underscored how his fixation with settling scores is outweighing any effort to move on to less divisive issues in the wake of his acquittal.

He never forgets, and he gets nasty:

Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed from his job at the National Security Council, where he worked as a lawyer, and was escorted off the grounds Friday afternoon.

The firings of Sondland and Alexander Vindman amounted to a post-impeachment bloodletting of key figures that complied with congressional subpoenas and testified in a process that Trump sought to delegitimize as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”

So his twin brother was gone too. Perhaps his wife and children should worry too. But that’s just fine:

There was little resistance from within the Republican Party to the idea of punishing Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and Ukraine expert, after the Washington Post reported Thursday night that he could soon be removed from his White House job. Some GOP lawmakers egged the president on – a sign of how much Trump has asserted his influence on the party.

Many lawmakers appeared to take it as a given that a president who fired an FBI director during a federal investigation into his campaign and who attacked the religious sincerity of his perceived enemies during a prayer breakfast this week would set out for revenge in the wake of an effort to end his presidency.

They shrugged, so the knives are now out:

Several other officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry have left the government, including former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; William B. Taylor Jr., her replacement; vice presidential aide Jennifer Williams; State Department official Michael McKinley; special envoy for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker; and NSC official Tim Morrison.

More firings are possible.

The president and his advisers have also discussed removing Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, though no final decision has been made, officials said. Trump has expressed frustration that Atkinson allowed a whistleblower report documenting Trump’s alleged misconduct toward Ukraine to be transmitted to Congress.

Some advisers have also counseled the president to remove Victoria Coates, the deputy national security adviser, who has told others in the White House that she fears her job is in jeopardy.

Of course it is. Never ever cross this man. He’s moody:

Trump regularly mocked Vindman for his uniform and how he spoke during his testimony, according to people who heard his comments and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them. Of all the witnesses, Trump had the most visceral disdain for Vindman, White House officials said.

Trump has told White House officials that he believes Vindman was responsible for providing information about Trump’s conduct to the whistleblower. That allegation, while unsubstantiated, formed the root of Trump’s anger with Vindman, two White House officials said.

It didn’t matter. Trump believed it was true, and that’s what really matters:

Trump declared himself completely innocent and zeroed in on his perceived enemies.

“We went through hell, unfairly,” he said in the East Room. “Did nothing wrong. Did nothing wrong.”

Speaking Thursday on Fox News, the White House press secretary described the president’s mind-set in stark terms, saying that Trump had been treated unfairly by the impeachment process and that “maybe people should pay for that.”

And they will pay:

The vengeance effort being pushed by White House officials, Republican lawmakers, Trump family members and other allies has broadened and intensified this week as Trump made clear he was not interested in moving on.

During his speech Thursday, Trump publicly singled out several of his perceived enemies, describing them as “vicious,” “horrible,” “bad,” “dirty” and “corrupt.”

The pugilistic response to impeachment has been endorsed by some of Trump’s closest allies, indicating that vengeance will likely be a key theme of the president’s reelection effort.

That is, vote for Trump and get your vengeance. Imagine the bumper stickers – VENGEANCE!

That will be the effort now:

The White House has been disseminating talking points attacking Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump of abuse of power. Trump has privately discussed with Republican lawmakers ways to exact revenge on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his leading role in the president’s impeachment, according to people familiar with the conversations. Trump has tried to block the release of a tell-all book by former national security adviser John Bolton, and some Republicans are calling for Bolton’s security clearance to be stripped.

GOP Senate committee chairmen are ramping up their investigation into Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine.

Trump’s allies have framed the impeachment as part of a broader effort by Democrats to delegitimize his presidency, making the case that retribution is warranted.

All of this sounds familiar:

The Night of the Long Knives, or the Röhm Purge, also called Operation Hummingbird (German: Unternehmen Kolibri), was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934. Chancellor Adolf Hitler urged on by Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler ordered a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate his power and alleviate the concerns of the German military about the role of Ernst Röhm and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis’ paramilitary organization. Nazi propaganda presented the murders as a preventive measure against an alleged imminent coup by the SA under Röhm – the so-called Röhm Putsch.

Those details are too obscure now, but this isn’t:

As the purge claimed the lives of so many prominent Germans, it could hardly be kept secret. At first, its architects seemed split on how to handle the event. Göring instructed police stations to burn “all documents concerning the action of the past two days.” Meanwhile, Goebbels tried to prevent newspapers from publishing lists of the dead, but at the same time used a July 2 radio address to describe how Hitler had narrowly prevented Röhm and Schleicher from overthrowing the government and throwing the country into turmoil. Then, on July 13, 1934, Hitler justified the purge in a nationally broadcast speech to the Reichstag:

“If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this. In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterize down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life. Let the nation know that its existence – which depends on its internal order and security – cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.”

Concerned with presenting the massacre as legally sanctioned, Hitler had the cabinet approve a measure on July 3 that declared, “The measures taken on June 30, July 1 and 2 to suppress treasonous assaults are legal as acts of self-defense by the State.”

Trump’s allies have framed the impeachment as part of a broader effort by Democrats to delegitimize his presidency, making the case that retribution is warranted. And here we go again.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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