Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday had to be one of the worst days in the monstrous “presidency” of most evil and moronic man ever to hold the office.

In the morning we learned that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, another one of Trump’s FBI targets, had stepped down. Then we learned the background. Trump ranted at McCabe that James Comey should have been left stranded in Los Angeles after his firing. Then when McCabe said he hadn’t been asked about Comey getting a ride hope in a government plane, the “president” told McCabe his wife was “a loser.”

Then we learned that the moron refused to impose the sanctions on Russia that he’s been dragging his feet on since August. How he thinks that aids his efforts to show he’s not colluding with Russia is a mystery. Perhaps he’s so afraid of what would happen if he stood up to Putin, that he simply doesn’t care.

Meanwhile, Congress is doing absolutely nothing to provide checks and balances on Trump’s unethical and possibly illegal actions. Instead, the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a memo drafted by Rep. Devin Nunes’s staff–a memo that the DOJ says would be “extraordinarily reckless” and could be damaging to national security. And we learned that Trump had a tantrum on Air Force One when he learned about the DOJ letter.

It was a very bad day, and I really felt despairing until I read a Twitter thread by “The Hoarse Whisperer.”

You can read the whole thread on Twitter, and I recommend that you do. But the gist is that Wray seems to be eliminating the people that Trump has used as distractions and replacing them with FBI/Comey/Mueller loyalists who don’t have the same baggage. And get this: Bowditch is one of the people that Comey told contemporaneously about Trump’s demand for “loyalty.”

The Washington Post on Bowditch: The rise of David Bowdich, the former sniper in line to become the FBI’s new deputy director.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down from his joband is expected to be replaced by David Bowdich, a senior official who headed the FBI’s response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., according to people familiar with the plans.

The article provides an extensive summary of Bowditch’s career. Here are some highlights:

Bowdich joined the FBI in 1995 as a special agent and served as a SWAT team member and sniper at the agency’s San Diego field office. There, he investigated violent crimes and gangs, according to an FBI news release.

One of his investigations included a year-long wiretap that resulted in the first federal criminal racketeering convictions brought against a street gang in Southern California, according to FBI officials. In 2005, he started leading a multiagency gang task force that through undercover operations and wiretaps investigated drug and racketeering cases against the Mexican Mafia, Bloods and Crips gangs and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, FBI officials said….

David Bowditch after the San Bernardino attack.

In 2014, he was named the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office — overseeing seven Southern California counties with a population of nearly 19 million people, according to Los Angeles Times….

After the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others, Bowdich asked the public at a January 2016 news conference for help in figuring out whether the husband and wife behind the attack — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — had communicated with anyone after the shooting. An 18-minute period after the shooting, from 12:59 p.m. to 1:17 p.m., puzzled investigators, who wondered if Farook and Malik went to a home or business or contacted anyone else.

Using traffic cameras, surveillance footage and witness accounts, Bowdich and investigators had already pieced together what Farook and Malik were doing in the four hours before the shooting, The Post’s Mark Berman reported at the time. And investigators knew that about 45 minutes after the shooting the couple visited the city’s Lake Seccombe. Divers were dispatched into the water to see what they could recover, but none of the items they found appeared to be relevant to the investigation, the FBI said.

Bowdich, who at the time still ran the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told reporters then that “until we close that gap, we just don’t know for sure.”

There’s much more at the link. It seems that Chris Wray really is trying to strengthen the FBI against Trump’s attacks. We can only hope it works. Luckily for the FBI and and for us, Trump really is a fucking moron.

Yes, Trump is giving a speech to Congress tonight and some members of the media will swoon over it and claim that the fucking moron has turned over a new leaf. Most Americans will find that ridiculous, and we’ll go back to the slow-motion coup attempt that Trump is trying to perpetrate with help from Paul Ryan and his hyenas in the House.

Frankly, it will be difficult for anyone to call the speech “presidential” when the “president” is going to be making money from it. Fortune: Trump Campaign Says Donor Names Will Flash During Livestream of State of the Union Speech.

In the latest reminder that it’s never too soon to start campaigning for reelection, President Donald Trump’s camp sent out a fundraising solicitation on Monday: pay at least $35 and your name will appear on the campaign’s livestream of the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The solicitation reads: “This is a movement. It’s not about just one of us. It’s about ALL of us. Which is why your name deserves to be displayed during Tuesday night’s speech.” It invites donors to choose how much money to give—ranging from the minimum of $35, to a maximum of $2,700, which is the limit allowed per election.

The text message version of the solicitation adds another message: “Enough of the Fake News Media. It’s time for them to hear from the AMERICAN PEOPLE.”

A good take on the speech by Peter Hamby at The Atlantic: Why Trump’s State of the Union Speech Will be Meaningless.

Here’s a useful question as you prepare to spend the next two days suffocating in a fog of hot takes and snap reactions to Donald Trump’s first official State of the Union address. Which of these two things is more consequential: the annual pageantry of the State of the Union, or any single one of Trump’s tweets? The answer is painfully clear. Trump’s staccato-burst missives on Twitter have the power to shake markets, launch congressional inquiries, offend entire nations, and stoke so much cultural grievance that N.F.L. owners are forced to contemplate whether signing a certain free-agent backup quarterback will spark racial unrest in their stadiums. At the very least, Trump’s tweets make you wonder why white Republicans are so obsessed with Black Unemployment (all-caps). Trump’s State of the Union address, meanwhile, will do approximately zero of these things.

The declining relevance of the State of the Union is partly a function of Trump and what we all know about him. “He is who he is” has become a go-to dictum of the Washington cocktail circuit, and no scripted-teleprompter performance can disguise the truth that our president would much rather be back at the White House residence feasting on Big Macs and Lou Dobbs. “Trump hasn’t changed, and won’t,” Mike Allen of Axios wrote this week. Allen writes some variation of this point every week—and he’s right every time. The Trump who will stand before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening isn’t fooling anyone, except some Beltway pundits who insist on always adding something new to “the conversation.” Washington journalists are among the few dead-enders eager to ascribe meaning to a night that faded long ago into meaningless ritual. White House aides have promised reporters, on the condition of anonymity of course, that the president will deliver a “unifying” speech on Tuesday….

The State of the Union—with its applause lines and cutaway shots and carefully selected special guests—stopped being about the speech a long time ago. Political stagecraft is about “moments”—moments you’ll probably forget about in a couple days, anyway. A handful of smart people fell prey to this plainly avoidable sand trap last year, but none more so than Van Jones, a usually sharp-eyed contrarian who declared on CNN after the speech that Trump “became president of the United States in that moment, period.” Jones claimed it was “one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics,” which besides being flatly untrue—honoring our military heroes is among the most shopworn staples of political theater—sets an awfully low bar for the word “extraordinary.”

That kind of analysis, pegged to a vestigial ceremony obsessed about only by the kind of people who spend their weekends on Twitter, was bound to collapse under the reality of a Trump’s presidency.

Amazingly, Chuck Todd et. al.’s take at “first reads” is pretty powerful today: The state of our union has become increasingly fragile.

On the day that President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, the political news over the last 24 hours suggests that the state of our republic — the checks and balances, the separation of law enforcement from the White House, and the danger of foreign interference in our elections — has become increasingly fragile.

The authors enumerate in great detail the stark situation we find ourselves in. It’s well worth a read. Here’s something I left out of my list at the top of the post:

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has lectured senior Justice Department officials “to convey Trump’s displeasure”:Bloomberg News: “Kelly held separate meetings or phone calls with senior Justice Department officials last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to convey Trump’s displeasure and lecture them on the White House’s expectations, according to the people. Kelly has taken to ending such conversations with a disclaimer that the White House isn’t expecting officials to do anything illegal or unethical.”

Read the rest at NBC News.

I’d like to hear Trump explain this in his speech. NPR: FEMA To End Food And Water Aid For Puerto Rico.

In a sign that FEMA believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, on Jan. 31 it will, in its own words, “officially shut off” the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.

Some on the island believe it’s too soon to end these deliveries given that a third of residents still lack electricity and, in some places, running water, but FEMA says its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water. The agency believes that is a small enough number for the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups to handle.

And what is FEMA’s excuse for terminating food and water aid? They supposedly want to help local businesses.

The decision to end the delivery of aid is part of the agency’s broader plan to transition away from the emergency response phase of its work on the island. In the weeks and months to come, the focus will be longer-term recovery. De La Campa said that includes finding ways to jumpstart the island’s troubled economy.

“If we’re giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy,” De La Campa said. “It is affecting the economy of Puerto Rico. So we need to create a balance. With the financial assistance we’re providing to families and the municipalities, they’re able to go back to the normal economy.”

I’ll have a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today? What will you be doing instead of watching the moron’s speech?

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38 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    David Leonhardt at the NYT: The Nunes Conspiracy

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Washington Post: The Trump administration’s weird explanation for withholding Russia sanctions

    Here’s what the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said:

    “Today, we have informed Congress that this legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defense sales. Since the enactment of the . . . legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.”

    A State Department official added that there was, in fact, no need for the new sanctions “because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.”

    There are a few problems with this.

    The first is that the legislation was meant as a punishment, not a deterrent. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act explicitly says at the top that it is “to provide congressional review and to counter aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea, and for other purposes.” The law says it’s about “countering” something, rather than preventing something.

    The second problem is that, mere hours before the State Department issued this statement ahead of the deadline for imposing sanctions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo suggested that what Russia was being punished for is likely to repeat itself in the 2018 midterm elections.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    How to Get a Wiretap to Spy on Americans, and Why That Matters Now

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Having zero interest in watching President Liar in Chief lie some more during his SOTU speech, I am headed off to the movie “Three Billboards” starring Frances Mcdormand and Woody Harrelson with 2 friends.

    No need to assault my senses listening to that thieving idiot praise himself and watch the GOP side jump to their feet and applaud every sentence. Nauseating.

    The Dems should just boycott this circus. Let the nation know we are not available to support this asshole by avoiding him at all costs.

    I’ve seen plenty of footage of the Third Reich in action that I have no need for a repeat.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good for you. I really want to see that movie.

    • Enheduanna says:

      John Lewis and a couple others are boycotting. I’m hoping the ratings are embarrassingly low.

      Interesting people find it obsolete BB. I’ve always sort of zoned out anyway listening to those.

    • dakinikat says:

      After stalking Hillary during that debate I just get predator vibes from him. I can’t stand his voice, his face, his pouty weird mouth and his little bitty finger gestures. I’m going to make meatloaf and watch SVU.

      • NW Luna says:

        Definite predator vibes, mixed with mean boychild vibes — one who pulls wings off butterflies because he hates their beauty.

        I’m going to do some handspinning, maybe some yoga, or watch a movie.

      • Fannie says:

        9 Oct 2016…………..celebrating our anniversary, came back to hotel room, and just about went nuts watching him stalk her. They did nothing to stop it. And I a sure he’d do again, and get away with it.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  6. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  7. quixote says:

    Hillary was pitch-perfect in her reading from Fire & Fury. And in that huge smile afterward.

    God, what we could have had if the Prez and Congress had started taking vote suppression and election-stealing seriously, even as late as 2014 when the Dutch had to tell them about it.

  8. Enheduanna says:

    You know I bet there are a lot of wisecrackers willing to pay $35 to troll the SOTU live-stream. If these idjits are as dumb as they seem prepare for some hilarity to ensue.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. dakinikat says:

    and this bears posting on this thread as well as the last:

  13. roofingbird says:

    No one is missing anything. It’s a perfect blend of jingoism, prancing egotism, grieving parents, line items like transportation money to make you think he cares, and immigrants, immigrants, immigrants, and, oh yes, “chain migration”immigration. I’ve never seen Pelosi so angry. The Keebler looks like he has seen the devil and doesn’t know where to run.

    Clean coal everyone!

    • quixote says:

      Jeeesus, roofingbird. You managed to listen to that drivel?

      Respect!

      And thanks for confirming that nothing was missed.

      • roofingbird says:

        Honestly, I tried really hard, but could not make my mind pay attention to the last third of it, so I am going to have to to watch or listen today. ugh. Personal experience dictates that the worst is often spoken then. I was able to grasp, before I faded, that he was actually asking Congress to change decades of workplace rules and give his Cabinet (him) hiring and firing power over Federal employees. Seriously.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Yes, seriously roofingbird…that is some hardcore shit you sat through.

  14. RonStill4Hills says:

    Two quick points:

    I know this is petty but I heard that Melania showed up in a separate car. Hardly a peep. Can you imagine of Hills or Michelle had ever refused ti ride with Bill or Barack? Hannity would still be talking about it.

    The other thing was Morning Joe, they were talking about Republican irresponsibility over classified material….Of course they had to spending ten minutes on why they were correct to exaggerate and hype the e-mail thing before they could say a word about Cheeto face. I don’t expect them to ever admit the truth, I just want them to quit dragging her into their bullshit!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Yeah that was real real irresponsible of Killary to send those emails that were later judged to be classified and didn’t jeopardize any intelligence assets.

      If Scarbro spent 10 minutes on it that means he knows he was wrong.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The Melania thing was talked about on MSNBC. I don’t know about CNN. Also, there was very little talk about the SOTU before the speech. It was all about the Russia news.