The best I can do today is post some interesting links. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.
I’ll start with some introductory excerpts and add more links when I run out of space.
For America’s white nationalists, there is only one nation—and one leader—worth emulating. And it has nothing to do with lederhosen or Wagner.
Richard Spencer, the current face (and haircut) of US’s alt-right, believes Russia is the “sole white power in the world.” David Duke, meanwhile, believes Russia holds the “key to white survival.” And as Matthew Heimbach, head of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, recently said, Russian president Vladimir Putin is the “leader of the free world”—one who has helped morph Russia into an “axis for nationalists.”
For those Americans who are just now familiarizing themselves with Russia’s current political proclivities—due to the recent, high-profile Russian hacking allegations, say, or the brutal military campaign in Aleppo—Moscow’s transformation into a lodestar for America’s white supremacists is enough to cause whiplash. After all, just a few decades ago Moscow was a beacon for the far-left, and its influential Communist International provided material and organizational heft for those pushing Soviet-style autocracy around the world. Over the past few years, however, the Kremlin has cultivated those on the far-right end of the West’s political spectrum in the pursuit, as Heimbach told me, of reifying something approaching a “Traditionalist International.”
Moscow’s appeal to the American far-right is, in a sense, understandable, if no less worrying. The links between Russia and America’s white nationalists and domestic secessionists have both expanded and deepened over the past few years. And the Kremlin, as with its invasion and occupation of swaths of Ukraine, has gone to only minimal lengths to obscure such ties.
Sarah Kendzior: Trump and Putin: The worst case scenario.
On Dec. 22, president-elect Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin both announced that they intend to increase their respective countries’ nuclear arsenals. Their use of language eerily paralleled each other. “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted. “Russia should fortify its military nuclear potential and develop missiles that can penetrate any missile-defense system,” Putin said at a defense ministry meeting.
The joint statements set off speculation that the United States and Russia are planning an increase in nuclear capacity that is in stark contrast to standard anti-proliferation policy.
This is an erroneous interpretation. Trump and Putin aren’t heading to war with each other—they’re heading to war together. Trump is a vociferous defender and admirer of Putin and is suspected by multiple intelligence experts of being assisted and even co-opted by the Kremlin. Russian interference in the US election has been affirmed by multiple US intelligence agencies and has led to calls for a congressional investigation. Rather than engaging in an arms race against each other, Trump and Putin are possibly teaming up as nuclear partners against shared targets.
Sound fantastical? It’s not: Trump has been obsessed with nuclear weapons for several decades, and has expressed his desire to coordinate with Russia on nuclear policy since the 1980s. In 1984 Trump, backed by Roy Cohn, the political operative who advised Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, proclaimed his goal of negotiating nuclear deals with the Soviets: “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump said. “I think I know most of it anyway. You’re talking about just getting updated on a situation… You know who really wants me to do this? Roy… I’d do it in a second.”
This rhetoric mirrors Trump’s current rejection of expert advice and conviction that his instinct is enough to guide policy. (“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” he said in March 2016 when asked whom he consults on foreign affairs.) During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Trump refused to look at intelligence briefings or collaborate with anyone outside his inner circle. This advisory team is comprised of corporate raiders, warmongers, and white supremacists, some of whom—like his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, or national security advisor, Michael Flynn—are personally tied to Putin as well.
The American Interest: The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections.
Even before the November 8 election, many leading Democrats were vociferously demanding that the FBI disclose the fruits of its investigations into Putin-backed Russian hackers. Instead FBI Director Comey decided to temporarily revive his zombie-like investigation of Hillary’s emails. That decision may well have had an important impact on the election, but it did nothing to resolve the allegations about Putin. Even now, after the CIA has disclosed an abstract of its own still-secret investigation, it is fair to say that we still lack the cyberspace equivalent of a smoking gun.
Fortunately, however, for those of us who are curious about Trump’s Russian connections, there is another readily accessible body of material that has so far received surprisingly little attention. This suggests that whatever the nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with President Putin, he has certainly managed to accumulate direct and indirect connections with a far-flung private Russian/FSU network of outright mobsters, oligarchs, fraudsters, and kleptocrats.
Any one of these connections might have occurred at random. But the overall pattern is a veritable Star Wars bar scene of unsavory characters, with Donald Trump seated right in the middle. The analytical challenge is to map this network—a task that most journalists and law enforcement agencies, focused on individual cases, have failed to do.
Of course, to label this network “private” may be a stretch, given that in Putin’s Russia, even the toughest mobsters learn the hard way to maintain a respectful relationship with the “New Tsar.” But here the central question pertains to our new Tsar. Did the American people really know they were putting such a “well-connected” guy in the White House?
This is an important article, IMHO.
Chicago Sun-Times: Gene Lyons: Trump apes Putin, but U.S. is not Russia.
If Vladimir Putin gave a damn about American public opinion, he’d encourage Donald Trump to make at least a symbolic gesture to prove he’s not the Russian strongman’s vassal. So far, there’s no sign either party to their oddly one-sided alliance feels the need.
Trump’s every significant appointment and foreign policy pronouncement has been exactly as the Russians would have it. “The man has very strong control over his country,” Trump has said. “He’s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.” So what if Putin’s leadership skills include having political rivals and troublesome journalists jailed or killed?
More telling are Trump’s cabinet picks: first, national security adviser Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, a flaky conspiracy-theorist who not only gave credence to the delusional “Pizzagate” tale, but has also dined publicly with Putin and done paid gigs on the Kremlin-sponsored “Russia Today” TV network.
Then there’s Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil CEO who has done billions in business deals with state-dominated Russian oil companies and accepted that country’s highest civilian medal from Putin himself….
Also, did you know that Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign director forced to resign last summer after reportedly taking millions from the Russian puppet government in Ukraine, actually lives in Trump Tower? Did he ever really quit stage-managing the campaign? It’s worth wondering if, like the omnipresent Trump children, he remains on the president-elect’s private payroll.
Add the skeptical noises that Trump has made about NATO, his seeming indifference to Russian military interventions in Ukraine and its role in the ongoing Syrian slaughter, and it becomes hard to imagine anything Putin might want that Trump’s unwilling to give him. It’s a good bet President Trump will withdraw U.S. support for NATO economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s seizure of Crimea — a blow to our European allies and a boost to the faltering Russian economy.
Politico: Trump writing his own White House rules.
President-elect Donald Trump has said he might do away with regular press briefings and daily intelligence reports. He wants to retain private security while receiving secret service protection, even after the inauguration. He is encouraging members of his family to take on formal roles in his administration, testing the limits of anti-nepotism statutes. And he is pushing the limits of ethics laws in trying to keep a stake in his business.
In a series of decisions and comments since his election last month — from small and stylistic preferences to large and looming conflicts — Trump has signaled that he intends to run his White House much like he ran his campaign: with little regard for tradition. And in the process of writing his own rules, he is shining a light on how much of the American political system is encoded in custom, and how little is based in the law.
On Jan. 20, Trump will take the oath of office having never released his tax returns, the first incoming president not to do so in four decades, and he has not given a press conference since he was elected, flouting another custom for presidents-elect. It remains to be seen whether he will file a personal financial disclosure during his first year in office. Presidents are not legally required to do so, but all have since 1978.
“If it’s not written down, you can get away with it. That’s the new premise. And that’s pretty staggering,” said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair, author of “The Trumps: Three Generations that Built an Empire.”
The Atlantic: Trump Is Making Little Attempt to Reconcile the Country.
The American Prospect: Donald Trump’s Epistemological Netherworld.
What stories are you following today?
It’s Friday! Do you know where your closest bomb shelter is?
Well, those of you with grandchildren might get to do the everything-old-is-new-again game from your childhood. Duck and Cover anyone?
Future President Crazy Pants has aides scrambling to say, no, he really doesn’t mean to tear down the Legacy of Ronald Reagan and start a nuclear arms race but that’s exactly what he said on Morning Joke this morning. Isn’t it amazing how not even his closest advisers can stop the crazy train that winds around his cranium where the synapses should be?
The president-elect Donald Trump has stunned nuclear weapons experts by appearing to call for a renewed arms race on his Twitter feed and in a TV interview.
“Let it be an arms race,” the president in waiting was reported to have told Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe programme, in an early phone call on Friday.
According to Brzezinski he went on to say: “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
The incendiary comment followed a tweet on Thursday in which Trump threatened to preside over a major ramping up of the US nuclear arsenal.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he wrote.
The volley of remarks had Trump aides scrambling into damage limitation mode, but their efforts were powerless to neutralise the shock waves of alarm and bewilderment provoked by the president-elect’s remarks
I certainly remember the practices and movies we had to watch during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Are we headed that way again?
But wait, weren’t the Russians the bad guys? Orangeholio appears to be violating the Logan Act as well as all kinds of other laws as we careen towards the end times with the Great Orange Satan. He basically said buddy “Putin’s thoughts are so correct,”
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Vladimir Putin and shared a Christmas letter the Russian president sent him.
“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said in a statement. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”
In the attached letter, Putin emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries.
“I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner – to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level,” the Russian leader wrote.
RaspPuti thinks all this worry over an arms race is just sour grapes. Fearless leader says we should embrace his new puppet and our KGB overlords. But then he said this:
Putin also reiterated at the news conference his interest in better ties with the United States after the inauguration of Trump, who, during the campaign, espoused positions favorable to Russia, including joining forces to fight terrorism and considering recognizing Russia’s annexation of Ukraine.
The Russian president played down the significance of Trump’s tweet Thursday calling for the United States to expand its nuclear arsenal, calling it “nothing unusual” and saying that Moscow did not intend to pursue an arms race “that we can’t afford.”
Putin did say that Russia was modernizing its nuclear strike capability, which he said would enable it to overpower any missile defenses the United States is developing. Russia, he said, “will be stronger than any aggressor.”
Meanwhile, Election Observers have stated that the North Carolina elections were handled so badly that they state isn’t a recognizable democracy. Let that sink in for awhile.
In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.
Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela. When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.
That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy — Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project — all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy.
So, it’s likely Clinton could’ve won North Carolina and the voter suppression and tossing of provisional ballots just let the big guy waltz through.
The Rockettes and Mormons are livid at the thought of participating in the Trump Installation. No one wants the karma of recognizing Cheetoh Hitler. The Rockettes parent company is indicating that participation would be voluntary now. I wonder how that will work. The Beach Boys–which is basically Mike Love who is a well known celebrity asshole–are considering an offer. I doubt Brian Wilson will want any part of it and wonder if he can exercise his copyright rights. Meanwhile, Miami will have the real celebs performing a protest concert. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is getting an earful, though.
I have a few things that I’d like to share that will take you back even further than Cold war. Here’s some wonderful old photos of New Orleans including some of its more shameful history.
So, that’s it for me today. I’m exhausted and I just need a break from stuff badly.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today
So . . . another chapter in my life crisis: My mother twisted her ankle a couple of days ago. She went to the doctor, but he sent her home with no treatment to speak of. She spent the night with a friend because she couldn’t really walk. Yesterday morning she was unable to put any weight on it. Now she is staying with my niece, but I’ve been having to deal with my many siblings while trying to figure out what to do when she comes home. Luckily, she is going to my brother’s house over Xmas. Of course this is on top of my current mountain of stress over my living situation. Not to mention the coming apocalypse on January 20.
Anyway, I feel–and probably look like–the Picasso painting above; so please forgive me if this post is incoherent.
It looks like we’ll have to put up with Kellyanne Conway for the foreseeable future. The Guardian reports: Kellyanne Conway chosen as Donald Trump’s counselor.
Donald Trump has named his former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to serve as counselor to the president, making her the most influential woman in the White House….
Conway, a pollster and political strategist, has been serving as a key member of Trump’s transition team since his victory on 8 November. She came on board as campaign manager in August shortly after Trump had secured the Republican nomination, and after two others – Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort – had been fired from the position….
Trump has touted Conway as an example of his support and promotion of women. The president-elect’s victory on 8 November “also shattered the glass ceiling for women”, Trump’s statement announcing her appointment read. Conway was the first female campaign manager for either major party to win a presidential general election….
The role of counselor to the president is not a position all presidents appoint. It is usually an influential adviser role with a focus on communications. The last person to hold that title was John Podesta, who served under Barack Obama before leaving to run Hillary Clinton’s campaign in February 2015.
Yeah, whatever. If you want to read a bunch more bullshit about Kellyanne, you can click on the link above.
The New Republic’s Jeet Heer: Trump’s Tweets Are a Threat to Our National Security.
TheWashington Post has created a nifty tool designed to address one of the novel problems of our political era: a president-elect who persistently uses Twitter to spread lies. A web-browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, RealDonaldContext annotates some of Trump’s tweets with fact-checking from the Post. For instance, last month Trump tweeted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Below that, if you use the extension, is a note saying, “This is incorrect or false,” with this explication: “Trump didn’t win in a landslide in any sense—but more importantly there is absolutely no evidence that there were a significant number of votes cast illegally, much less ‘millions’ of them.”
RealDonaldContext meets a genuine need, given the importance tweeting plays in Trump’s media strategy and the frequency with which he lies. Trump’s authoritarianism is manifest in his attempt to impose a false reality on the world, which will become all the more dangerous when he assumes power. Thus, fact-checking his tweets is not only essential journalism, but an act of resistance—a reminder that Trump can’t make a lie come true by fiat alone.
Yet fact-checking, while necessary, is also only a partial solution. Trump’s core supporters, and the Republican Party that has decided to appease them, have proven willing to swallow his lies wholesale; they are immune to fact-checkers. Moreover, the problem with Trump’s tweets isn’t just that they often contain falsehoods, but that they are deliberate provocations with the potential to cause real conflict….
Trump will soon be president, and every tweet and other utterance will matter greatly. “The president’s words, as uttered in speeches and other official statements, literally shape American foreign policy,” Shamila N. Chaudhary, a senior fellow at New America, wrote at Politico. “In turn, State Department bureaucrats rely on the commander in chief to articulate clear, thoughtful and consistent views, based on facts and a knowledge of history. Only then can the entire weight of the large State Department bureaucracy follow seamlessly behind him—and carry out his goals.” In other words, the problem with Trump’s tweets isn’t just that they contain lies and speculation; it’s that a steady, sober foreign policy is made impossible by those tweets. If other nations take Trump’s tweets literally, as China did, there is a real possibility of military conflict.
Read the rest at the link. I think this is a very serious problem, but Trump will probably be just as belligerent in speeches and in person. It’s a fucking nightmare.
Philip Rucker and Karen Tumulty at the WaPo: Donald Trump is holding a government casting call. He’s seeking ‘the look.’
Donald Trump believes that those who aspire to the most visible spots in his administration should not just be able to do the job, but also look the part.
Given Trump’s own background as a master brander and showman who ran beauty pageants as a sideline, it was probably inevitable that he would be looking beyond their résumés for a certain aesthetic in his supporting players.
“Presentation is very important because you’re representing America not only on the national stage but also the international stage, depending on the position,” said Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller.
To lead the Pentagon, Trump chose a rugged combat general, whom he compares to a historic one. At the United Nations, his ambassador will be a poised and elegant Indian American with a compelling immigrant backstory. As secretary of state, Trump tapped a neophyte to international diplomacy, but one whose silvery hair and boardroom bearing project authority.
“He likes people who present themselves very well, and he’s very impressed when somebody has a background of being good on television because he thinks it’s a very important medium for public policy,” said Chris Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a longtime friend of Trump. “Don’t forget, he’s a showbiz guy. He was at the pinnacle of showbiz, and he thinks about showbiz. He sees this as a business that relates to the public.”
“The look might not necessarily be somebody who should be on the cover of GQ magazine or Vanity Fair,” Ruddy said. “It’s more about the look and the demeanor and the swagger.”
As Trump formally announced his vice presidential pick in July, he said that Mike Pence’s economic record as Indiana governor was “the primary reason I wanted Mike, other than he looks very good, other than he’s got an incredible family, incredible wife and family.”
And in picking retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his nominee for defense, Trump lauded him as “the closest thing to General George Patton that we have.”
Mattis has a passing physical resemblance to the legendary World War II commander, as well as to the late actor George C. Scott, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Patton in the 1970 biopic. Trump also seems particularly enamored with a nickname that Mattis is said to privately dislike.
“You know he’s known as ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, right? ‘Mad Dog’ for a reason,” Trump said in a recent interview with the New York Times.
I’m sorry, but isn’t there anyone in a position (and willing) to prevent this insane monster from destroying our country?
Oh wait, James Comey (with help from Loretta Lynch) already made sure tRump could turn the US into a reality TV show except with real nuclear weapons.
Twelve days before the presidential election, FBI Director James B. Comey dispatched a senior aide to deliver a startling message to the Justice Department. Comey wanted to send a letter to Congress alerting them that his agents had discovered more emails potentially relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
The official in Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates’s office who received the FBI call immediately understood the explosive potential of Comey’s message, coming so close to the presidential election. Federal attorneys scrambled into offices on the fourth and fifth floors of Justice Department headquarters, where they huddled to figure out how to stop what they viewed as a ticking time bomb.
“It was DEFCON 1,” said an official familiar with the deliberations. “We were incredibly concerned this could have an impact on the election.”
Aides at Justice and the FBI — located in offices directly across the street from each other on Pennsylvania Avenue — began exchanging increasingly tense and heated phone calls, nearly a half-dozen throughout the afternoon and evening of Oct. 27 and into the next morning.
Justice officials laid out a number of arguments against releasing the letter. It violated two long-standing policies. Never publicly discuss an ongoing investigation. And never take an action affecting a candidate for office close to Election Day. Besides, they said, the FBI did not know yet what was in the emails or if they had anything to do with the Clinton case.
Remarkably, the country’s two top law enforcement officials never spoke. As Comey’s boss, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch could have given the FBI director an order to not send the letter. But Lynch and her advisers feared that Comey would not listen. He seemed to feel strongly about updating Congress on his sworn testimony about the Clinton investigation. Instead, they tried to relay their concerns through the Justice official whom the FBI had called.
Their efforts failed. Within 24 hours of the first FBI call, Comey’s letter was out.
Read the rest at the link. Why does James Comey still have a job?
What stories are you following today?
As you may have guessed, tRump was sounding off on his twatter again. You would think that the powers that be (if there is still a thing like…actually is looking out for the country’s best interest) that someone would take the man’s Twitter access away. Right?
But to put tRump’s bragging aside, yes please! The main thing getting attention last night on twitter was Bill O’Reilly. The asswipe is not even using dog whistles anymore. He is just whipping out the flagrant bigoted bullshit for all to see.
I don’t think these jerk offs are going to be subtle any longer. Take this latest from Newt:
During a Monday appearance on NPR, Trump adviser Newt Gingrich argued that Congress should consider changing ethics laws so President-elect Donald Trump could freely mix his administration and his business interests.
“We’ve never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work,” Gingrich said during a panel discussion on “The Diane Rehm Show.” “We’re going to have to think up a whole new approach.”
The “new approach” Gingrich has in mind also involves Trump liberally using his pardon powers to extract his advisers — including, at least during the presidential transition, three of his adult children — from whatever legal troubles they might find themselves in.
“In the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon,” Gingrich said, in comments first covered by Politico. “It’s a totally open power. He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules. Period.’ Technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.”
Gingrich suggested Congress should consider changing ethics laws so Trump can freely intermingle his business interests and duties as president. He also floated the idea of a Trump-created “panel” led by former government officials that can help monitor his conflicts of interest.
“Congress can try to figure out how to do this,” he said. “I’ve suggested that people who are widely respected, like Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey, might — that the president-elect might want to form a panel who are sort of a review group, if that makes sense, and that the panel would monitor regularly what was going on and would offer warnings if they get too close to the edge.”
Can you believe this shit? Well…yeah of course you can.
And with that, here are your political cartoons for the week.
Killing Human RIghts Activists: 12/21/2016 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez from Philippines Today
This is an open thread.
So . . . It’s Tuesday
As usual these days, the news is not good. tRump will be POTUS in one month, and it’s very hard to imagine how our country survives as a democratic republic. All I can do is cling to hope that something will prevent this monster from becoming Hitler 2.0. It also looks like instability is going to keep rising around the world, and that too is a reaction to tRump–either directly or indirectly.
I’m also dealing with my housing situation and I’m basically paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I can’t recall the last time I felt so overwhelmed. It was probably back when I was at the worst of my drinking. I’m trying my best to focus on one day at a time, but it’s not easy. I am going to move into the apartment I told you about, but the money I will have to live on is going to be more limited than it was for me where I am now. I’m feeling a lot of shame about being so poor. But I really have no choice about doing this. I will have to be very careful about what I spend on food. I’m feeling so emotional right now; I keep crying out of the blue. I guess it is the shock of having to move after all these years and not really knowing how I’m going to manage it.
Anyway, sorry to burden you all with my problems. Since I already shared what is happening, I felt I had to provide an update. I hope in time, I’ll be feeling a lot better about all this. This will be mostly a link dump, because I have to go sign my lease and deal with other stuff today.
The events that took place yesterday in Turkey and Germany are incredibly disturbing, because we will have an insane POTUS dealing with these kinds of attacks. And that follows on the incident with China a few days ago which was very likely a response to tRump’s foolish phone call with Taiwan and his ridiculous twitter comments. Here’s the latest.
The Washington Post: An assassination and a gunman’s final words put Turkey on edge.
MOSCOW — A team of Russian detectives arrived in Turkey on Tuesday to join the investigation into the slaying of Moscow’s ambassador by a Turkish police officer — an act portrayed by both countries as an effort to rupture a rapprochement between the two regional powers backing opposite sides in Syria’s civil war.
The attack Monday also touched off sweeps across Turkey as authorities hunted for clues in the life of the 22-year-old gunman, who decried the violence in Syria after pumping several bullets into the ambassador at a photo exhibit.
Russia is a key ally of Syria’s government while Turkey has been a stalwart backer of rebel factions, although both nations have worked together on a plan to evacuate civilians and opposition fighters from their last enclave in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.
Officer Mevlut Mert Altintas gunned down Ambassador Andrei Karlov as the diplomat spoke before an exhibition of Russian photos at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
After killing the ambassador, Altintas, an officer with the riot police, denounced Russia’s role in the Syrian war, screaming: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” He was later killed in a gun battle with the police.
BERLIN — A migrant from Pakistan was identified Tuesday as a suspect in a truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Germany’s capital, but police said it was still unclear if he was the main perpetrator.
The man was arrested not far from the scene of Monday night’s carnage, which left 12 people dead and wounded nearly 50 others.
He entered the country last year and had applied for asylum, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, adding that other people may be involved.
The suspect in custody has denied responsibility.
Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt told reporters: “We are not sure if the suspect in custody is the right man … in fact, in my view it is still not certain whether he really was the driver.”
A temporary accommodation center for migrants was raided overnight by special operations police, but no further arrests were made.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced political pressure over open-arms policy for refugees, earlier said it would be “hard for us all to bear” if the perpetrator “was someone who sought protection and asylum.”
Of course tRump will see this as ammunition for his war against immigrants.
On the corruption front, tRump’s conflicts of interest get worse and more frightening by the day.
The Embassy of Kuwait allegedly cancelled a contract with a Washington, D.C. hotel days after the presidential election, citing political pressure to hold its National Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel instead.
A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.
In the early fall, the Kuwaiti Embassy signed a contract with the Four Seasons. But after the election, members of the Trump Organization contacted the Ambassador of Kuwait, Salem Al-Sabah, and encouraged him to move his event to Trump’s D.C. hotel, the source said.
Kuwait has now signed a contract with the Trump International Hotel, the source said, adding that a representative with the embassy described the decision as political. Invitations to the event are typically sent out in January….
The apparent move by the Kuwaiti Embassy appears to be an effort to gain favor with president-elect through his business entanglements, and it appears to show Trump’s company leveraging his position as president-elect to extract payments from a foreign government. The latter, according to top legal experts, would be unconstitutional and could ultimately constitute an impeachable offense.
NPR Morning Edition: Trump’s Doral Golf Course Highlights His Conflicts Of Interest.
President-elect Donald Trump has financial stakes in hundreds of companies. But one line of business is particularly important to him: golf courses.
He owns more than a dozen courses, which provide the Trump Organization with major streams of revenue and bolster his “luxury” brand image.
But they also created conflicts of interest. As president, he will be able to steer environmental and labor policies that could boost the income from his golf courses.
Take Trump National Doral. It’s a huge luxury resort near Miami, and it provides a good example of how Trump’s role as president and as businessman will come into conflict….
But at Doral, and for clubs and golf courses around the country, new labor regulations promoted by the Obama administration are having an impact on how they do business. And many course owners aren’t happy.
Brad Steele explains why. He’s the general counsel with the National Club Association, a trade group that represents country clubs and golf courses. Steele says the recession was tough on golf courses, and the recovery hasn’t been easy. “The last eight years have been relatively difficult for… the private club industry,” he says.
Among the labor rules Steele and his members are most concerned about is one that greatly expands the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. It’s been criticized by business groups and Republicans in Congress, and was recently put on hold by a federal judge.
It’s a rule that Steele thinks will be targeted by the new administration. “We are excited that now there’ll be an administration that starts to look a little more … critically at the impact that these kinds of things can have on business,” he says.
Read the rest at the link.
And then there are the gobsmacking cabinet appointments.
Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: Trump’s OMB pick seems poised to ignite a worldwide financial crisis.
Over the weekend, President-elect Donald Trump tapped Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to be his director of the Office of Management and Budget. This Cabinet-level post is responsible for producing the federal budget, overseeing and evaluating executive branch agencies and otherwise advising the president on fiscal matters. It’s a position with tremendous, far-reaching power, even if the public doesn’t pay much attention to it.
Which is why it’s so concerning that Trump chose Mulvaney, who seems poised to help Trump ignite another worldwide financial crisis.
Mulvaney was first elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the anti-government, tea party wave. A founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, he is among Congress’s most committed fiscal hawks. He has repeatedly voted against his own party’s budget proposals because they were insufficiently conservative.
All this will presumably put him at odds with Trump’s plans to balloon federal deficits through a $7 trillion cut in individual and corporate income taxes, another half-trillion in infrastructure subsidies and other major spending expansions.
It’s unclear how Trump’s fiscally profligate platform meshes with Mulvaney’s preference for penny-pinching. He might push back on Trump’s most expensive ideas. Maybe he’ll employ accounting gimmicks and magic asterisks to force Trump’s numbers to add up. Trump’s campaign advisers have already been doing this, disingenuously claiming that his policies will pay for themselves through unrealistic economic growth.
Or maybe Mulvaney’s job will simply be to convince the rest of the Freedom Caucus to stay mum when deficits explode.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
More news, links only:
Talking Points Memo: GOP Rep’s Vision Of Post-ACA World: You Wait To Treat Your Kid’s Broken Arm.
Center for Public Integrity: Donald Trump’s sons behind nonprofit selling access to president-elect.
What stories are you following today?
There are many things going on in the world today. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was just shot in Ankara and the hope of the majority of the USA rests on faithless electors since our election system rewarded the minority this year. Here is a state by state list of when they vote. You can follow it if you still have the nerves for it. I frankly don’t.
Today is the day we formally begin our resistance here in La Nouvelle-Orléans. I’ve been following more than just a few folks familiar with the last fight against fascism in keeping with my Mood Indigo. I’m also reading about the other places it’s popping up in an area of the world that should know better. Take Poland for example.
Cheered on by religious conservatives, the new government has defunded public assistance for in vitro fertilization treatments. To draft new sexual-education classes in schools, it tapped a contraceptives opponent who argues that condom use increases the risk of cancer in women. The government is proffering a law that critics say could soon be used to limit opposition protests.
Yet nothing has shocked liberals more than this: After a year in power, Law and Justice is still by far the most popular political party in Poland. It rides atop opinion polls at roughly 36 percent — more than double the popularity of the ousted Civic Platform party.
“The people support us,” boasted Adam Bielan, Law and Justice’s deputy speaker of the Senate.
I continue to be shocked which is why I have dusted off my old university Philosophy books and sought out the writings of Hannah Arendt. I find I am not alone.
“Origins,” first published in 1951, was based on research and writing done during the 1940s. The book’s primary purpose is to understand totalitarianism, a novel form of mobilizational and genocidal dictatorship epitomized by Stalinism in Soviet Russia and Hitlerism in Nazi Germany, and it culminates in a vivid account of the system of concentration and death camps that Arendt believed defined totalitarian rule. The book’s very first words signal the mood:
Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining superpowers. This moment of anticipation is like the calm, that settles after all hopes have died . . . Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena — homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth . . . Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest — forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.
How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and “Origins” raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.
I just wanted to also explain a bit about what “I take the Maquis” means in terms of history and metaphor. I know I’m getting obsessive about how to resist the incoming Ugly American and his band of Robber Barons but I’m truly worried.
“Take to the maquis” became widely known in World War II, when French guerrillas, called “the maquis,” carried out … The literal translation is “take the bit in the teeth,” the explanation behind this phrase reflecting the behavior of horses.
The Maquisards were a group of French Resistance Fighters in rural South France during the NAZI occupation. We’re going to need all the help we can get so I am White Rose Society and I am Maquis. I love how the Big Dawg put the situation into perspective:
President-elect Donald Trump “doesn’t know much,” former President Bill Clinton told a local newspaper earlier this month, but “one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.”
Clinton spoke to a reporter from The Record-Review, a weekly newspaper serving the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York, not far from the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York. The former president held court on Dec. 10 in Pleasantville, New York, where he took questions from the reporter and other customers inside a small bookstore.
The electoral system was made to protect white men and it still appears to do its job. The Civil war is being fought again. Paul Krugman opines today on How Republics End. As you can see, this is very much on my mind.
Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.
But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.
Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.
I’m not sure we will even be able to maintain the facade. The Republicans have been rewarded for stalling all processes for 8 years. All political norms were called off the day Obama took the oath of office. I doubt they’ll miss the opportunity to tear it all down and put up something fiercely oppressive to women and minorities of all types. Meanwhile, Orangeholio and his cabinet of Robber Barrons will loot us. Beware the pennies on your eyes!
Here is a link to “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” I sincerely it hopes us all.
Je prends le Maquis!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
One more week until Shitmas…
Once again this post is delayed, because my lack of enthusiasm in getting the thing written. After trying to find articles to share with you, the depression and outright disturbed feelings make my fingers linger on the keypad as the minutes pass. So here are a few links to get by today.
Starting with the video clips from last night’s SNL episode:
Instead of Andrew Lincoln holding up cue cards to express his love for Keira Knightley, though, McKinnon holds up the cards in an appeal to an elector who might be able to vote against Donald Trump when the Electoral College meets next week.
“But bish… he cray,” proclaims the cards. Later, they read, “You don’t even have to vote for me. I’m coo.”
Now some links from Sarah Kendzior:
Okay? Another article from Reuters via Newsweek: Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Seeks to Review Emails Search Warrant
But back to the matter at hand.
letter addressed to President Barack Obama, three professors of psychiatry — including one from Harvard Medical School — expressed fears that President-elect Donald Trump’s exhibits signs he may not be mentally fit to assume the presidency.
In the letter, which can be found at The Huffington Post, Judith Herman, M.D. a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School — along with two professors who taught at the University of California, San Francisco — made the appeal to Obama based upon their “grave concern” after watching Trump’s antics.
“We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the mental stability of our President-Elect,” the letter reads. “Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally.”
“His widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office,” it continues. “We strongly recommend that, in preparation for assuming these responsibilities, he receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators.”
Former Assistant Secretary of State and international human rights expert John Shattuck said this week that President-elect Donald Trump must welcome a thorough investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election because the questions it raises leave him vulnerable to charges of treason.
“A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump,” Shattuck wrote in the Boston Globe. “He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a ‘ridiculous’ political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.”
Legitimacy? Aren’t we past this point? I think after Obama’s press conference we certainly are…if there was anything I took away from that presser earlier this week, it was that Obama seemed to accept whatever fraudulent efforts and hacks occurred via the Russians and their traitorous partners in the US. (I am including the PEOTUS and other GOP elected officials, FBI heads, etc.) Why else would he be talking about tRump’s Foreign Policies going forward after he leaves office? The whole thing stinks.
Fascism is good for ratings
One scary ad:
Trump’s lunacy is compelling. But the media should be careful about using it as a sales pitch for “the news.”
And please note, it is MSNBC.
In line with that observation of Digby’s….Give this a look over:
Reports on the rise of fascism in Europe was not the American media’s finest hour
How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people?
These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
Oh, have you seen these?
In other news….
Finnish government communications chief Markku Mantila said his officials had observed a barrage of state-sponsored media attacks ahead of the country’s celebrations marking 100 years of independence from Russia
Granted, that link above is from The Telegraph…but still…put it in perspective with this:
It just makes for an image of Putin standing above a map of the world…with his dick swinging back and forth…you can be sure that the US is on that map too…maybe a little fat fingered orange faced troll mopping up behind Putin? Yeah…
We have enough swinging dicks here in the US, whether it is a fucking coup in North Carolina:
Or assholes trampling women every chance they get, I mean…check it out, women in Oklahoma can’t even piss in peace…
And let us not forget the other massive dickheads and cunts in the way of progress, or if we really want to get down to it, they are in the way of keeping things from going backwards further because things are getting worse everyday.
And doesn’t that all kind of go back to the beginning?
Even before the election results, before Putin, at the very start of this shitfuck…tRump was given legitimacy from the press…the politicians…the people…everyone. We all saw it. Fucking Hell. Now it is too late to do anything. Except enjoy interactive sort of websites like this one below…
Great way to spend a few minutes…in agony.
Merry fucking shitmas…this is an open thread.