God! Gays!! Guns!!!

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President Donald Trump and his evangelical supporters enjoy frequent group gropes.

I hate to break it to the rightwing evangelical Christians that form the core of President Donald J. Trump’s cult-like base, but not even God can save their anointed king from his own impetuous and arguably criminal actions. Trump will be impeached by the House for his insane Ukraine caper and the odds are growing that he may be removed from office by the Senate.

The commander-in-chief is bucking against something far more powerful than God: The chain of command, which is taken quite seriously by rank-and-file members of the military, diplomatic and intelligence services.

The chain of command is vital in U.S. foreign policy because the stakes are so high, particularly in Ukraine, where the U.S. and Russia, possessing the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world, have squared off in a New Cold War since 2014.

That’s when the U.S.-assisted Maidan revolution toppled Ukraine’s democratically elected President Vicktor Yanukovych, whose policies were deemed too pro-Russian and anti-EU by the U.S. He was replaced by Arsenly Yatsenyuk, a pro-western puppet hand-picked by the U.S. and anointed by nonother than then Vice President Joe Biden.

In response to the potential establishment of a nuclear-armed NATO country on its western border, Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and began providing military assistance to pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas, on Ukraine’s eastern border, where 13,000 Ukrainians from both sides have died in a civil war that’s ongoing.

Despite Trump’s many public overtures to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. diplomatic stance against Russian “aggression” in Ukraine enjoys strong bipartisan support and remains the same as under the Obama administration: Russia must leave the Donbas and give Crimea back to Ukraine.

In fact, Trump’s Russian taint has caused him to overcompensate, signing off on to ever more draconian sanctions against the Russians and providing lethal military aid to the Ukrainians—including the Javelin anti-tank missiles dangled as a quid pro quo in his far-from-perfect phone call with new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky last July.

As we’ve seen during the past few weeks as a parade of U.S. diplomats testified before the House impeachment inquiry, the efforts of Trump’s shadow secretary of state, Rudy Giuliani, to dig up dirt on Joe Biden—one of Trump’s potential opponents in the 2020 presidential election—and his son Hunter were setting off alarm bells in the diplomatic corps months before Trump’s phone call.

It’s difficult to understate just how bat shit crazy Rudy’s activities in Ukraine have been during the past year. With Trump’s approval, the president’s personal lawyer and his two Ukrainian henchmen appear to have engineered the recall of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. They are apparently being paid by a Ukrainian oligarch with ties to the Russian mob who lives in exile because he’s under indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It gets worse. Giuliani has been pedaling the dirt he’s received from Ukrainian officials who have an axe to grind against Biden to journalists like John Solomon, who in turn recycled it dozens of times during appearances on unofficial Trump adviser Sean Hannity’s FOX News program and his radio show, without citing the information’s provenance: Nosferatu Giuliani.

Washington D.C. rightwing conservative power couple, attorneys Joe Digenova and Victoria Toensing, frequent guests on FOX News programs who’ve also been spreading dirt on Biden for the past year, represent the same indicted oligarch that’s apparently paying Rudy and his Ukrainian henchman.

The two henchmen, btw, have also been indicted on campaign finance violations that include allegedly bribing members of Congress to recall the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

As totally bonkers and illegal as that sounds, it’s Trump’s withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine as a quid pro quo in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens that could end his presidency. Regardless of when the Ukrainians first learned the military aid had been put on hold, U.S. officials knew for months and found it such a flagrant abuse of executive power, they reported it up the chain of command.

The number one rule in any chain of command is CYA. Cover your ass. Write shit down and report it to the next higher-up. Thanks to this system, Trump, as commander-in-chief, is finally going to be held accountable.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, with their near unanimous rebuke of Trump’s abrupt attempt to withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria last month, have put the president on notice: no more foreign policy shenanigans.

With televised public impeachment hearings in the near offing, things are going to get worse for Trump. They may never get better.

Perhaps that’s why a flock of the nation’s top rightwing evangelical leaders, including Trump’s official high priestess Paula White Cain, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins, descended upon the White House and laid their healing hands on our beleaguered chief executive last week.

It’s all too little, too late for the president. On the plus side, he’ll have more time fulfill his dream of establishing his own megachurch.

Changed Movement arrives in D.C., Bethel Pastor Kris Vallotton approves.

It’s Official: Bethel Really Hates the Gays

Speaking of lost causes descending upon Washington, D.C., Bethel Church, the rightwing charismatic megachurch in Shasta County’s midst, dispatched its small-and-not-growing Changed Movement to the nation’s capital last week to fight for the right of once-gay individuals to present strawman arguments in public and then set them ablaze.

The strawman argument put forth by allegedly once-gay Changed founders Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning goes something like this: Because skeptics such as myself and every major professional medical and psychiatric association in the U.S. accept the scientific literature that conclusively demonstrates LGBTQ individuals can’t pray the gay away, we’re denying the existence of people, like Woning and Williams, who claim praying the gay away worked for them.

That’s patently false. Anyone who understands the scientific literature knows that men and women like Williams, Woning and the whole Changed Movement crew of 15 are completely accounted for by the expected variations in sexual orientation and gender identity in human beings, which can change over time. It’s rare, but it happens. No praying required. Not everyone in the LGBTQ community is “born that way” or stays that way.

Williams and Woning would have us believe that it’s once-gays like themselves who are being persecuted by society, not the LGBTQ community.

This strawman goes up in flames once the real purpose of the Changed Movement’s visit to Washington, D.C. is revealed: To express opposition to the Equality Act, a bill passed by the Democratic majority in the House earlier this year which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.”

In a muddled blog post after the House passed the Equality Act, Woning argued discrimination against the LGBTQ community is not only Christian but the natural order of things. Prohibiting such discrimination will prevent LGBTQ individuals from realizing the true depth of their brokenness.

“I believe the LGBT culture (not the experience of same sex attraction) exists because society as a whole has rejected the behavior,” she scribbles. “The Equality Act is aimed at protecting LGBT identity, particularly as it connects to that culture. At the time of Stonewall (the birthplace of the modern LGBT equality movement), gay culture was highly marginalized by all of society, not only among Christians, reflecting a historical (if not evolutionary) bias against the behavior. And so, gay culture has matured within a vacuum of rejection and hopelessness.”

This is complete nonsense. The Equality Act, if passed by the Senate, will protect LGBTQ individuals (not a culture) from discrimination by other individuals in schools, the workplace and other public settings, period. Gay culture didn’t arise in a “vacuum” of rejection and hopelessness in the 1970s; it was a legitimate response to centuries of societal oppression that caused the rejection and hopelessness in the first place.

“In my opinion, society’s ongoing marginalization of LGBT people continues because science (especially psychology) has largely given up on sexual restoration,” Woning continues, oblivious that she herself is marginalizing the LGBTQ community. Taking a cue from Bethel elder and chief homophobe Dr. Andre Van Mol, she claims the medical scientists who study human sexuality have all been hypnotized by the gay agenda.

(Click here to read Woning’s April 2018 letter from Bethel to “friends and members of the LGBTQ+ community”.)

“Today, there are more options for restoration than ever before,” she concludes, without naming any specific conversion therapy treatment, perhaps because no effective treatment to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity presently exists.

You might think that a group of people who allegedly used to be gay would have a bit more sympathy for LGBTQ rights, but you’d be misunderstanding the Changed Movement’s role. Clad in their black t-shirts available on the online store, they’ve been trotted around the country, from Sacramento to Orlando to D.C. to toot their once-gay horns. They’re Bethel’s anti-gay Antifa.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again: Bethel doesn’t just hate the sin. It hates the sinner, too. Why else would it publicly advocate for making the lives of LGBTQ people miserable?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr is going into the pre-crime business.

Are Trump and the Machines Coming for Your Guns?

What happens when politicians repeatedly fail to solve a problem like the proliferation of mass shootings in the United States? The machines take over, and if you’ve watched the Terminator series, you know how that ends.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration is preparing to roll out what some critics call an “Orwellian pre-crime program” that combines mass surveillance with personal data mining to track down mass shooters and other criminals before they commit violent acts.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr sent a memorandum to justice department officials and national law enforcement agencies announcing the implementation of “national disruption and early engagement programs to counter mass shooters.”

These programs will be based in part on lessons we’ve learned from the War on Terror, Barr said. The same methods used to track down terrorists will now be deployed on America’s citizenry.

Because mass shooters often strike with little warning, Barr advocates an “all tools” approach adopted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force that includes the use of clinical psychologists, threat assessment professionals, intervention teams and community groups. With powerful computer programs, they’ll sift our social media posts and retail receipts to determine which one of us is going to go crazy next and intervene before we lose our shit.

As Edward Snowden revealed, Americans already tolerate a high level of mass surveillance. Barr thinks we’ll tolerate more, especially if mass shootings continue to occur.

According to Mint Press journalist Whitney Webb, Barr has been lobbying Big Tech moguls to provide law enforcement backdoors to consumer software and hardware products that bypass decryption and eliminate consumer privacy. The pre-crime software itself is being designed by firms with ties to U.S. and Israeli intelligence.

What could possibly go wrong? Webb offers a poignant example.

“It is important to point out that such initiatives … are likely to define ‘mental illness’ to include some political beliefs, given that the FBI recently stated in an internal memo that ‘conspiracy theories’ were motivating some domestic terror threats and a series of questionable academic studies have sought to link ‘conspiracy theorists’ to mental illnesses. Thus, the Department of Justice and ‘mental health professionals’ have essentially already defined those who express disbelief in official government narratives as both a terror threat and mentally ill — and thus worthy of special attention from pre-crime programs.”

There goes Sean Hannity’s audience! Straight to jail! Do not pass go!

If fully realized, Barr’s pre-crime program would use machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and neutralize all potential threats. It will “know” how much you drink, what medications you’re on and whether you own a gun. It will know if you donate to the BDS movement or the NRA. It will know if you’ve been fighting with your wife. If you’ve been naughty or nice.

How these data points will be interpreted by the machines and the pre-crime personnel is blurry.

“William Barr’s coming ‘pre-crime’ program is arguably worse than the stuff of dystopian science fiction novels and films,” Webb writes. “It not only aims to detain Americans who have committed no crime but will expressly target individuals based on their use of electronic consumer products and the contents of their communications with their friends, family, co-workers, and others.”

Barr’s pre-crime program is being rolled out in conjunction with the Trump campaign’s get-tough-on-crime message. The same surveillance methods will be applied to urban and rural crime, and in fact are already being used in northern California south of Shasta County.

Considering the polarized state of the country heading into the 2020 presidential election, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot about pre-crime next year. There’s a lot of angry people with guns online threatening civil war if Trump is impeached or not reelected. They’ve stuck with Trump through thick-and-thin, but if the DOJ starts confiscating their guns, all deals are off.

That might be a good thing. Perhaps these machines aren’t so bad after all. Consider Barr’s pre-crime program a stealth version of China’s Social Credit System. Most of us have given up on expecting any semblance of privacy anyway.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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