Friday Reads: “The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump”

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

This is what happens when all the cracked eggs in the cartoon get to vote in gerrymandered elections that were the subject of Russian interference and laws specifically designed to suppress minority votes.

Yes. Please read that again because it’s a headline from Politico.   I think we can all agree that the current executive branch is a force for evil and chaos in the world so it’s taken less than 2 months for us to lose whatever standing we ever had left after the entire Iraq invasion debacle.   Angela Merkel is the leader of the Free World and Kremlin Caligula refused to shake hands with her.

The subhead line to this? “Angela Merkel, whether she wants the job or not, is the West’s last, best hope.”  Yes. She is because every day the news on the Russian entanglements become more and more evident.  We’ve basically had a bloodless coup.

The German chancellor is the only leader in Europe who even has a plausible claim to moral leadership. As a victim of Soviet communism, Merkel was always going to be listened to carefully on the question of morality. And given her longevity she was always going to be respected. But it was her unexpected decision to accept some 1 million refugees that established her moral credentials, especially since no other political leader has taken such a political risk.

The cruel irony of Trump’s election is that for many decades it was the United States that was seen as a moral leader. During the Cold War, Soviet dissidents looked to the United States. And after communism fell, it was the United States that led international actions to protect victims of repression or hardship. Whether it was the Kurds in northern Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, or the spending on medicine to treat millions suffering from HIV in Africa, the United States was the country expected to act.

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Yes, every day we find out more about that Russian interference. Rachel’s been on top of it probably more than any other mainstream TV media outlet.  WAPO has not let it go either. Writer and friend Tim Shorrock explains how privatization has played a role in helping Wikileaks hack our systems.  This is something of particular interest because if Trump and friends have their way, their billionaire friends and business interests will be the total overlords of a pay to play privatization scheme.  The Cheney buddies were the beneficiaries are the clarion call of handing over public trusts, money and interests to old employers.

When WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s global hacking programsthis month, it dropped a tantalizing clue: The leak came from private contractors. Federal investigators quickly confirmed this, calling contractors the likeliest sources. As a result of the breach, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal.”

Intelligence insiders were dismayed. Agencies “take a chance with contractors” because “they may not have the same loyalty” as officers employed by the government, former CIA director Leon Panetta lamented to NBC.

But this is a liability built into our system that intelligence officials have long known about and done nothing to correct. As I first reported in 2007, some 70 cents of every intelligence dollar is allocated to the private sector. And the relentless pace of mergers and acquisitions in the spies-for-hire business has left five corporations in control of about 80 percent of the 45,000 contractors employed in U.S. intelligence. The threat from unreliable employees in this multibillion-dollar industry is only getting worse.

Tim is a superb investigator and researcher.  He’s been on this story for some time. Please go read it.

Trump has surrounded himself with “blow it up Billionaires”. His cabinet is filled with them.  A large number of them are either trust fund babies with maybe one generation of wealth behind them or folks that made money the new-fashioned way.  They gambled on Wall Street on items that are merely paper.  These are not the Carnegies that built a steel industry or even the Rockefellers and their oil empire.  These are folks that basically got wealthy via tax loopholes, get rich schemes, and betting against actual companies through the derivatives markets.  The Mercers are a shining example of this new model and their politics are poisonous.

Mercer is a youthful-looking 70. As a boy growing up in New Mexico, he carried around a notebook filled with computer programs he had written. “It’s very unlikely that any of them actually worked,” he has said. “I didn’t get to use a real computer until after high school.” Robert went on to work for decades at IBM, where he had a reputation as a brilliant computer scientist. He made his vast fortune in his 50s, after his work on predicting financial markets led to his becoming co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, one of the world’s most successful quantitative hedge funds. A longtime colleague, David Magerman, recalls that when Robert began working at Renaissance in 1993, he and his wife, Diana, were “grounded, sweet people.” (Magerman was suspended from Renaissance in February after making critical comments about Robert in The Wall Street Journal.) But “money changed all that,” he says. “Diana started jetting off to Europe and flying to their yacht on weekends. The girls were used to getting what they wanted.”

At Renaissance, Robert was an eccentric among eccentrics. The firm is legendary for shunning people with Wall Street or even conventional finance backgrounds, instead favoring scientists and original thinkers. Robert himself, by all accounts, is extremely introverted. Rarely seen in public, he likes to spend his free time with his wife and three daughters. When, in 2014, Robert accepted an award from the Association for Computational Linguistics, he recalled, in a soft voice and with quiet humor, his consternation at being informed that he was expected to give “an oration on some topic or another for an hour, which, by the way, is more than I typically talk in a month.” Sebastian Mallaby’s account of the hedge-fund elite, More Money Than God, describes him as an “icy cold” poker player who doesn’t remember having a nightmare. He likes model trains, having once purchased a set for $2.7 million, and has acquired one of the country’s largest collections of machine guns.

For years, Robert has embraced a supercharged libertarianism with idiosyncratic variations. He is reportedly pro-death penalty, pro-life and pro-gold standard. He has contributed to an ad campaign opposing the construction of the ground zero mosque; Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, a group that is associated with fringe scientific claims; and Black Americans for a Better Future—a vehicle, the Intercept discovered, for an African-American political consultant who has accused Barack Obama of “relentless pandering to homosexuals.” Magerman, Robert’s former colleague at Renaissance, recalls him saying, in front of coworkers, words to the effect that “your value as a human being is equivalent to what you are paid. … He said that, by definition, teachers are not worth much because they aren’t paid much.” His beliefs were well-known at the firm, according to Magerman. But since Robert was so averse to publicity, his ideology wasn’t seen as a cause for concern. “None of us ever thought he would get his views out, because he only talked to his cats,” Magerman told me.

Robert’s middle daughter Rebekah shares similar political beliefs, but she is also very articulate and, therefore, able to act as her father’s mouthpiece. (Neither Rebekah nor Robert responded to detailed lists of questions for this article.) Under Rebekah’s leadership, the family foundation pouredsome $70 million into conservative causes between 2009 and 2014.[1]

Trump, the short fingered vulgarian, can find no solace among the truly wealthy of Manhattan.  He’s done what he has to do to feed his need for endless attention, power, and money.  He’s thrown in with International Thieves and local thugs.  There is nothing these folks love more than to suppress the votes of minorities along with promoting the xenophobia of the White Nationalists that serve this White House and the Tea Party.

Few people in the Republican Party have done more to limit voting rights than Hans von Spakovsky. He’s been instrumental in spreading the myth of widespread voter fraud and backing new restrictions to make it harder to vote.

But it appears that von Spakovsky had an admirer in Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, according to e-mails released to the Senate Judiciary Committee covering Gorsuch’s time working in the George W. Bush Administration.

When President Bush nominated von Spakovksy to the Federal Election Commission in late 2005, Gorsuch wrote, “Good for Hans!”

Read that article at The Nation.  These are not nice people by any traditional or untraditional sense of the word.  Here’s a nice little Georgia Cracker defending a bill designed to stop black people from voting at the same link.

Georgia’s voter-ID law was submitted to the Justice Department in 2005 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required states like Georgia with a long history of voting discrimination to approve their voting changes with the federal government. The sponsor of the law, Republican Representative Sue Burmeister, told department lawyers, “If there are fewer black voters because of the bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. She said when black voters in her precinct are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

Her racially inflammatory assertions set off alarm bells among the team reviewing the submission, indicating that the law may have been enacted with a discriminatory purpose. Department lawyers feared the bill would disenfranchise thousands of voters.

188920_600Here’s another dozy appointment for you. White House Advisor Sebastian Gorka supposedly held membership in a Nazi-Allied Far-Right Hungarian Group, Historical Vitézi Rend.   New York Congressman Jerry Nadler has opened a query.  Gorka is a Deputy Assistant to T-Rump and has been out spoken about the travel ban.    He’s among those in the government spreading blatant disinformation.  You can read more about the Travel Ban, etc. on BB’ post yesterday.

Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, falsely claimed Thursday that Trump’s travel ban was never linked to a particular religious group during the campaign.

In a press release from December 2015 titled “DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION,” Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Nevertheless, Gorka told Breitbart News Daily radio, “There is not one instance on the campaign trail or after the President took office in which the travel suspension was mentioned without reference to national security — it was never mentioned, ‘we’re doing this because of a certain religious group.'”

“In every single instance, every campaign speech, every statement out of the White House after January 20th this measure was linked to the security of the United States,” Gorka continued. “National security is the prerogative of the commander in chief and immigration, including immigration standards and the issuance of visas is not a local, is not a federal, is not a judicial function. It is a function of the White House and the executive arm.”

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide halt on Trump’s revised travel ban order, citing statements Trump made during the presidential campaign about Muslims.

 So, the first thing that happened in the Trump-Merkel meeting today is that T-Rump did not shake hands with Germany’s Chancellor during a photo op.

 Trump sat next to Merkel in front of a fireplace for the brief photo-op.“Very good,” Trump said to assembled reporters when asked about what the two leaders discussed. “Lots of things.”

“Very good, thanks,” Merkel said in German.

But Trump hardly looked at Merkel and, when the photo op ended, didn’t move in for a handshake.

We’re in for an ongoing nightmare and series of national embarrassments for some time.  I’m just hoping the terrorists groups don’t have a chance to get their acts together before we get rid of him.  Every thing in the executive branch is extremely nonfunctional.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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53 Comments on “Friday Reads: “The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump””

  1. NW Luna says:

    I think she was relieved to not have to shake that monster’s hand. Or that’s how I’d feel. Why pretend?

    After his bullying talk about N Korea, and now not apologizing for his delusions on wiretapping or microwaves or whatever the hell it was with Britain, surely the rest of the world knows he’s a paranoid and infantile megalomaniac. I just hope that some wise career civil servants have made sure that nuclear code device is now inoperable.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Bwahaha!

    • quixote says:

      Thigh-slappingly, falling out of chair, incapacitatingly hilarious.

      The Onion is going to go out of business. No way to keep up with reality anymore, no matter how good your writers are.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I’m just glad that Trump didn’t give Merkel one of his patented extended, painful handshakes.

    • dakinikat says:

      I have a feeling she was prepared and would’ve decked him. Maybe he was afraid after Justin Trudeau stood his ground.

    • catscatscats says:

      I had a vision in my head, had they shook hands, that Angela would have dropped him to his knees.

  4. roofingbird says:

    Lol, she wore pants and he had to let her in. She is purposely relaxed and he looks like he wants to run and hide in a closet. Really, he is pretty peeved, I think, but he will try and come up with a way to attack her when he can think of it. Gosh, do I recognize that behavior.

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh yeah.

      Just saw some clips on the news conference. The German reporters are asking some sharp questions! Well, compared to the softer U.S. reporters (the ones allowed in). He is making an even bigger and more deranged ass of himself.

      • NW Luna says:

        He may as well be wearing a dunce cap. I’ll bet that editorial cartoonists around the free world are drawing him like that right now.

    • NW Luna says:

      I liked that Merkel wore a pantsuit. She looks good in that blue, blue silk jacket.

      • catscatscats says:

        In the photos I have seen, not only would 45 not look at her, he had his hands clasped between his knees. He was probably afraid Merkel would grab him by the balls and not find any.

    • joanelle says:

      He appears to be looking for an exit, a way that he can get out of the ‘meeting’
      What a goofball.

  5. NW Luna says:

  6. dakinikat says:

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  8. NW Luna says:

    h/t to Delphyne

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    It’s 4pm which means he has just boarded Air Force 1 for another weekend “getaway” to FL!

    What a guy!

    • Enheduanna says:

      A co-worker of mine lives about 30 miles from Mar-a-Lago and she says they get buzzed constantly all weekend by private and military helicopters when he visits. What a waste of taxpayer money. And we’re on the hook for Melania in NYC, too.

    • dakinikat says:

      We need to start sending him the bills.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        If Melania chooses to live in New York – and who could blame her? – then let Trump foot the bill. After all he is worth millions so why should the taxpayers pay for her choice to live apart?

        These people are just hustlers taking advantage of every means to graze from the public trough.

    • NW Luna says:

      Just saw a tweet calling it “Tsar-a-Lago!”

  10. dakinikat says:

    Just in case you forget that the Japanese minister looked at Trump like he was crazy too!!

  11. ANonOMouse says:

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  13. NW Luna says:

    Good news … Remember the Rethugs who tried to change the rules right before a Dem governor took office? 2 out of 3 of their power grabs denied.

  14. NW Luna says:

  15. dakinikat says:

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  17. dakinikat says:

    • ANonOMouse says:

      That’s my hometown, although I don’t live there anymore, I miss it. And trump won the bubba vote because they’re stupid rednecks who’d never vote for Hillary or any other woman. Even their wives wouldn’t vote for a woman because they’re all into that tortured cave man/cave woman country music drama. Nashville is much more than Country music and the country artists, as noted in that article, aren’t all bubba’s. Many are liberal, but aren’t politically active because they know their audience.

      And there may be a bright side to this situation and that side is that Millennials, who recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest demographic, are not trump supporters, not even in the South, they also don’t vote in the numbers we need and that’s the challenge. I have several grandchildren who are millennials and this was a wake up call for them. We can win back seats in the South, we’re just going to have to invest in the South and turnout voters. And Hillary did win Metro Nashville, Davidson County and Metro Memphis, Shelby County.