Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Good Afternoon!!

Here we are on the first day of Spring 2019, and a madman is still “president.” He’s getting crazier and crazier with each passing day.  Here’s proof, in case you need it:

What a fucking moron!

 

 

Cartoon by Andy Marlette

 

 

Then there are the moronic “B-boys.” There are four of them: Biden, Beto, Bernie, and now Buttigieg, the latest Democrat to dump on Hillary.

Hey Pete, Hillary’s slogan was “Stronger Together.” Are you sure you want to attack her millions of supporters who collectively said, “I’m with her?” Too late, you already did.

 

Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: Beto, Biden and Bernie: The B-Boys and the media’s dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecy.

As amorous embraces go, few could be more ardent than the one Beto O’Rourke got this month from Vanity Fair magazine.

The perfectly timed cover treatment was the full monty: Rugged-glam photo by the legendary Annie Leibovitz, the former Texas congressman’s earnest Kennedy-esque gaze, and the ripe-for-parody headline including this immortal quote: “I’m just born to be in it.”

Most Americans wouldn’t see the magazine itself, of course, but the rest of the news media — including network evening news — helped spread the image around as they gave over-the-top coverage to O’Rourke’s kickoff….

Somehow, despite a remarkably diverse Democratic field — which includes a record number of women, a gay man and several people of color — the B-Boys (that is, Beto, Biden and Bernie) — were off and running.

The news media undoubtedly was part of the equation. With more than 18 months to go before the 2020 election, the love and attention was not being dished out in equal measure.

As author Rebecca Traister described it, she woke up one morning this week thinking about the flawed notion that being a white man is actually a disadvantage, given this diverse field.

The reality is quite the opposite, she wrote on Twitter: “Early metrics would show it to be an extremely powerful polling & fundraising boon, as it has always, always been.”

And now we can add another B-boy to the list of white men getting all the attention.

I’m already sick and tired of the 2020 election campaign and it’s still early 2019.

 

More suggested reads and then some cartoons.

Barbara McQuade at USA Today:The bread crumb papers: Why Cohen document dump should worry Donald Trump and others.

Robin Marty at Politico: I Am an Abortion Rights Activist. I Hope the Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade.

Politico: Kellyanne Conway defends Trump after he attacks her husband.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: Centrists Have Great Bullshit Radar (in Sweden, Anyway).

Mother Jones: “Detached From Reality”: Following Twitter Lawsuit Over Mockery, Devin Nunes Again Gets Mocked.

Vox: Robert Mueller’s team says it will be very busy in the coming days.

Natasha Bertrand at The Atlantic: The Enigmatic Russian Paying Maria Butina’s Legal Bills.

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “Everyone thinks they’re going to sell”:  Hellfire at Fox as Hannity mulls leaving and Lachlan goes full Donna Brazile on Trump.

 

Cartoon by Andy Marlette

 

by Steve Sack

 

By Bob Gorrell

 

By Clay Jones

 

By Dave Whamond

 

By Dave Whamond

 

By Ed Wexler

 

By John Cole

 

By Mike Luckovich

 

By Mike Luckovich

 

By Pat Bagley

 

By Clay Jones

 

By Pat Bagley

 

By Mike Thompson

 

Even the cartoons aren’t funny anymore. Sad.

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Tuesday Reads: Predator and Prey

Donald Trump (left) tries to stare down Robert Mueller (right).

Good Morning!!

Some interesting news broke from the Justice Department this morning.

I wonder what it means? Check out this Twitter thread from Clint Watts:

Read the whole thing on Twitter. Here’s the conclusion:

Watts thinks it’s possible Barr already has the report, which isn’t going to be long review of everything Mueller found. As Marcy Wheeler long been arguing, Mueller is speaking through his court filings.

Before I get to the rest of today’s news, here’s the back story on the amazing photo at the top of this post.

The Boston Globe: A staredown between predator and prey: Here’s the story behind that photo of a squirrel and a bald eagle.

When Lincoln, Maine-based photographer Roger Stevens Jr. was reviewing photos of a staredown between a squirrel and a bald eagle he took last Monday, he thought they looked “pretty sharp,” so he decided to share one on his Facebook page.

“I didn’t give it much of a thought after that,” Stevens said in an interview with Boston.com on Monday.

But it turns out Stevens had unknowingly struck viral gold.

Roger Stevens Jr. and his dog, Rosie

The shares from the photo began to surge, which he thought was “kind of odd.” He sent the photo on to a contact at the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, which ran a story a couple days later, and to a local news station, as he sometimes does.

Stevens got calls about the photo from around the world. Here the background:

The fateful day began just like any other, Stevens described. He and his dog, Rosie, got up, had breakfast, and then headed out — Stevens says he “always” has his camera.

Stevens was looking for eagles specifically, he said. He’s published photo books on various animals before, and this is his latest project. He saw the eagle sitting in the tree next to the Rite Aid in the middle of Lincoln.

“It was kind of a gray day,” Stevens recalled. “Not a great day to film the eagle.”[….]

“The squirrel literally came from I don’t know where,” he said. “It raced up the tree and started just kind of like playing hide-and-seek with this eagle. And then it got really bold and stuck its neck out there in the picture that everybody sees.  And I thought this is kind of odd, but I didn’t really think that much about it at the time.”

What Stevens had captured was an interaction between predator and prey — bald eagles eat squirrels and other small mammals, according to the National Eagle Center in Minnesota.

For those wondering what happened after the photo was taken, things didn’t end badly for the bold squirrel, according to Stevens. The eagle flew away after about 10 minutes.

The other big news this morning is the release of information about the Special Counsel’s investigation of Michael Cohen and the background to the FBI raid on Cohen’s offices.

The New York Times: Michael Cohen’s Emails Were Sought by Special Counsel in July 2017, Documents Show.

Federal authorities began investigating the email accounts of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, as early as July 2017, only months after Mr. Trump took office, according to documents unsealed on Tuesday.

The emails, dating back to January 2016, were sought by the office of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel conducting the Russia investigation, the documents show. The records show that Mr. Cohen’s business dealings had already been the subject of an extensive investigation by the time F.B.I. agents conducted a highly public raid on his home and office last April.

The records, including search warrants and materials related to the April raid, were among hundreds of pages of documents released in response to a request by The New York Times and other news organizations.

The materials that were unsealed on Tuesday came from F.B.I. searches last April on Mr. Cohen’s office, apartment, hotel room and a safe deposit box.

The April 8, 2018, search warrant said that the F.B.I. and Manhattan federal prosecutors were investigating Mr. Cohen for a range of crimes, including defrauding several banks dating back to 2016 and a scheme “to make an illegal campaign contribution in October 2016 to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.” The warrant also indicated they were investigating him for wire fraud and conspiracy.

More stories on the Cohen documents:

CNN: Mueller was allowed to review years of Cohen emails from time he worked under Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators were allowed by a federal judge to review years of Michael Cohen’s emails and other online data from the time he worked under Donald Trump, according to newly unsealed warrants used in his case in Manhattan federal court.

In all, the prosecutors and FBI received permission from a Washington, DC-based federal judge to execute four search warrants on Cohen’s two Gmail accounts and for stored data in his Apple iCloud account in July, August and November 2017 — long before Cohen’s office was raided in April 2018 and he pleaded guilty in an illegal campaign contribution and tax prosecution led by Manhattan federal prosecutors.

Mueller also received approval on two separate occasions to track the numbers of Cohen’s incoming and outgoing calls.

The revelation gives new illumination to Mueller’s work throughout 2017 — before he had brought the bulk of his open criminal cases against defendants like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and a host of Russians for interfering in the election — and shows how extensively Mueller had tracked computer data of those close to then-candidate Trump in the early days of his presidency.

The search warrants released Tuesday say that the special counsel’s office referred “certain aspects” of its investigation into Cohen to the New York-based US Attorney’s Office.

I wonder if this news explains Trump’s Twitter meltdown over the weekend? I’m sure we’ll being learning much more about what’s in these documents in the course of today. Marcy Wheeler has been tweeting about them; I look forward to her detailed analysis when she publishes it.

Interesting Mueller report speculation at Politico: Preet Bharara Expects a ‘Lengthy, Detailed’ Mueller Report.

[Bharara] thinks Robert Mueller, the special counsel brought in to investigate that allegedly tainted election after Trump fired Comey, will want to explain himself, at least privately. Bharara predicts Mueller will deliver a robust report to Attorney General William Barr that will lay out precisely why and how he decided to prosecute — or not — various individuals swept up in the Russia probe, including the president.

“He could give something bare-bones to the AG, because he’s said what he was going to say in publicly filed documents and indictments,” Bharara said in an interview. “Or, I think it’s slightly more likely — a hunch I have — that he’ll write a very lengthy, detailed document that goes into the prosecutions and the declinations at great length, with a lot of supporting exhibits as well.”

Then, he says, Barr will face an excruciating dilemma: how much of the report to reveal to Congress and to the public. Disclose too much, and he’ll anger his boss in the White House. Disclose too little, and Democrats will howl. With stakes this high, Americans’ confidence (or lack thereof) that Mueller’s inquiry has been rigorously impartial has become a proxy for our wheezing collective confidence in the justice system and even democracy itself, a subject that concerns Bharara greatly.

In leaky Washington, the broad outlines of such an explosive report likely wouldn’t stay hidden for long, Bharara predicts. “And once it is known that it’s” — he picks a number out of thin air — “a 480-page document, then let the games begin.”

Bharara argues that, unlike Clinton — or, say, a businessman suspected of defrauding a bank, but not ultimately charged with a crime — the president of the United States isn’t entitled to prosecutors’ silence. So even if Americans never find out why minor Russiagate figures such as Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner weren’t charged, Congress should be told what, if any, role the president played in Russia’s efforts to elect him, along with what he did to cover it up.

At the Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff scored an interview with Ukranian oligarch Dmytro Firtash: Indicted Oligarch Dmytro Firtash Praises Paul Manafort, Says Trump Has Third-Grade Smarts.

VIENNA, Austria—An indicted Ukrainian oligarch who faces years in an American prison joked about President Donald Trump’s intellect and distanced himself from Paul Manafort’s business dealings in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with The Daily Beast at his palatial corporate offices in Vienna.

Dmytro Firtash is a Ukrainian oligarch-in-exile who controls much of the country’s natural gas distribution. He also befriended Manafort, did business with Russia’s state-owned gas behemoth, and became a target of Barack Obama’s Justice Department. He’s been a constant presence in the background of the story of Russian influence in the American elections—but now, he says American influence on Ukraine is the real story.

Read the whole article to learn more about Firtash’s background. Here’s the meat of the story:

Semion Mogilevich

Because of his work in the gas industry, Firtash also met a man who would become one of the globe’s most notorious thugs: Semion Mogilevich, a Russian mob boss who has spent years on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Before he was poisoned in the U.K., ex-Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko claimed Putin and Mogilevich had a “good relationship,” as Business Insiderdetailed.

“Half of the Soviet Union knows him, everyone knows him,” Firtash said. “He’s from Ukraine. Everyone knows him, I’m not the only one who knows him. As I remember, we met in one gas company, but I don’t want to name it.” [….]

Firtash’s acquaintance with Mogilevich drew public interest in 2010, when WikiLeaks posted a tranche of stolen State Department cables. One cable, from the American embassy in Kiev, detailed a conversation Firtash had with then-Ambassador Bill Taylor. According to the cable, Firtash claimed that he’d needed Mogilevich’s approval to get started in the gas trade. According to Firtash, the cable was a lie.

Mogilevich is known as the “boss of bosses” of the Russian mob and he’s on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. Read more about him and Firtash at the link above.

One more Russia-related story from Politico: Nadler: ‘Tens of thousands’ of documents delivered in Trump obstruction probe.

The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it received responses from a “large number” of the 81 individuals and entities who were asked to provide documents as part of the panel’s wide-ranging investigation into obstruction of justice allegations against President Donald Trump — but the committee was mum on details about who complied.

“I am encouraged by the responses we have received since sending these initial letters two weeks ago,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement on Monday, the deadline for document requests the committee sent on March 4.

“It is my hope that we will receive cooperation from the remainder of the list, and will be working to find an appropriate accommodation with any individual who may be reluctant to cooperate with our investigation,” added Nadler.

The broad request for information came as the Judiciary Committee — the panel that has the power to launch impeachment proceedings against the president — kicked off its sweeping probe into allegations of corruption, abuses of power, and obstruction of justice against Trump.

Read the rest at Politico.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories have you been following?


Monday Reads: Take me to the River

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’ve been watching the Mississippi River rise the last month knowing that some where upstream that water must be a problem.  The Corps opened the  Bonnet Carré Spillway  but has started to close it up. My guess is they’ll open it wide shortly. The spillway lets the fresh water of the Mississippi River into the salty Lake Pontchartrain. It always wrecks havoc with the local critters, plants, and trees so they try to be judicious about it.

I can always tell the height of the river by looking down the street to see if any oil tankers look like they’re on the river road.  By this, I mean that I see the entire ship and not just the top of it.  It’s odd when you’re driving and look over to see a huge cruise ship looking as though it’s just  driving a few blocks over.  Whatever goes on up there eventually comes out down here. The Mississippi has been at flood stage for months. It’s about to get worse because what’s upstream is horrible.

More is coming my way as the folks in Nebraska and Iowa–where I grew up–are dealing with flooding they haven’t seen for at least 50 years and probably then some.  I’m thanking my lucky stars that my youngest is now in Denver since her last home is some where in the lake that’s formed in Western Douglas County.  The most jaw dropping news is that Offutt Air Force Base is under water and has extensive damage.

Small towns in Iowa are completely underwater where many of the families of farmers who bought cars and trucks from my dad still live. A dam on the Niobrara–west of Omaha and Lincoln–collapsed earlier.  That devastation is surreal too.

So, people have died, crops will be lost, towns are totally under water and where are the tweets from the White House?   Wouldn’t you think a “bomb” cyclone would get some attention?

The unprecedented flooding has affected up to 74 million Americans from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast.

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers deployed the state National Guard after declaring an emergency as flooding was magnified by “rapid snowmelt.” Columbus, Wisconsin, opened shelters for people who had been evacuated.
  • In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state of emergency for Doniphan County as flash floods wreaked havoc on the community.
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also issued a disaster proclamation on Friday.

So far, the only Federal Disaster declared and discussed by Trump is–you guessed it–the Trumped up Border Wall lunacy. Check out his TIme line on Twitter.  It’s the usual manic meltdown of nonsense and lies plus, you know, WITCHHUNT!!  SNL sucks!  John McCain is a secret Democrat!

So, are we blaming him for all fueling all this crappy White supremacist terrorism and hate?  Yes. we are!  It’s not the news media. It’s what spews out of Trump’s nasty smoochy mouth and it’s all about his priorities and paranoia.

So, people in the heartland will just have to drown while Trump continues to hate on people of color and minority religions.

But, his base …. let’s visit a bit about what these morons actually think.  First. they think white people face discrimination. This is from Rolling Stone on a poll done earlier this month.

The victimization of white America put forth by conservatives and right-wing media has taken hold, according to the results in a new poll from Hill-HarrisX. A whopping 75 percent of registered Republican voters said that white Americans face discrimination.

A majority of Independents, 55 percent, sided with Republicans and said white Americans are discriminated against. Meanwhile, only 38 percent Democrats agreed, and sixty-two percent of Democrats said that white Americans face little or no discrimination at all.

However, the poll did find some agreement among the different political spectrums. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Independents and 95 percent of Democrats said that African-Americans are discriminated against. And, in total, 81 percent of the registered voters polled said Hispanics also face discrimination.

Interestingly, only 19 percent of white respondents said they personally faced racial discrimination, proving the point that the fear tactics of Fox News and other conservative media who sell the myth of “reverse racism” are working.

Second, Republicans in office continually deny Trump’s bigotry. Jonathan Chait–writing for the New Yorker–had this to say today about Trump’s open hostility to people of Muslim faith.

The man who murdered 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, has hailed President Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity.” But Trump’s supporters piously deny he is any such thing. “If you find yourself using the tragedy in New Zealand to take backhanded swipes at conservatives in America — many of my colleagues already have — then you really have no shame and you are part of the problem,” complains Texas representative Dan Crenshaw. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney appeared on Face the Nation to insist, “I don’t think anybody can say that the president is anti-Muslim.”

Anybody? Really? If bald-faced lying were not already a mundane practice for this administration, it would be astonishing to watch its defenders deny such a plainly obvious truth.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration made a concerted effort to distinguish between the radical sectarians who carried out the attacks and the broader Muslim population. By the end of the Bush era, though, a nativist hysteria was bubbling up from the grassroots, as evidenced by vivid scenes from McCain–Palin campaign stops in which delirious Republican voters voiced paranoid theories that Barack Obama was a secret Arab or Muslim.

During Obama’s presidency, control of the Republican line on Muslims unmistakably passed into the hands of the bigots. Trump, who led the birther crusade, played a key role in this change. While Trump usually confined his racist sentiments about the African-American community to private conversations, he regularly articulated slanders against the Muslim community in public. He spread the lie that thousands of American Muslims cheered the 9/11 attacks. He insinuated that Ghazala Khan, a Muslim-American Gold Star mother whose husband spoke at the Democratic National Convention, “wasn’t allowed” to speak publicly. He claimed “Islam hates us,” and has deliberately refused to recognize a distinction between radical Islamists and the broader population: “It’s very hard to separate, because you don’t know who is who.”

Trump naturally attracted and promoted the most viciously anti-Islamic figures within his party. His first strategist, Steve Bannon, calls Islam “a religion of submission” and has tried to build a global religious conflict between Christians and Muslims. His first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, made wild public claims like, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” They attempted to enact a Muslim travel ban, later couched in euphemism, as an effort to prevent a “multidimensional and multigenerational” threat from Muslim-American communities — enshrining into official policy the notion that Muslim-Americans posed an inherent security threat and could not assimilate.

Trump’s fans deliberately adopt racist words and symbols including co-opting the okay hand signal.  Then, they tell us we’re just imagining things.  (Via SPLC)

From its adoption first by white nationalists, and then by 4chan trolls intent on ‘triggering the libs,’ the well-known hand signal’s use points to deeper concerns.

The smirk that almost inevitably accompanies the “OK” sign, that simplest of hand signals, is the dead giveaway in the shroud of internet-age befuddlement: Does the sign, the thumb and forefinger joined together in a circle, the remaining three fingers splayed out behind, mean “all’s good?” Or does it mean “white power” instead?

The smirk gives away the proper answer: You’re being trolled.

The social-media-driven controversy over the meaning of the well-known hand sign has arisen in part as the result of a deliberate hoax concocted on the internet message board 4chan, which in addition to its well-earned reputation as a gateway to the racist “alt-right” is perhaps more broadly known as the home of trolling culture.

So when it gets flashed during a national broadcast, or during a video being shot to promote the Coast Guard, or by a cluster of Proud Boys and “Patriots,” what it’s about most of the time is a deliberate attempt to “trigger liberals” into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place.

The problem, of course, is that there are white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Klansmen who have increasingly begun using the use of the symbol both to signal their presence to the like-minded, as well as to identify potentially sympathetic recruits among young trolling artists flashing it. To them, the configuration means WP, for “white power.”

This use of the signal preceded the 4chan hoax that made it go viral. A number of alt-right figures, notably white-nationalist guru Richard Spencer, published photographs of themselves using the symbol as early as 2016. Milo Yiannopoulos adopted the symbol on social media as early as 2015.

But by then, the alt-right had already long weaponized the trolling culture and its use of irony to create a hall of mirrors surrounding such “memes.” These can easily be found in other alt-right “ironic” constructs, such as the hoax religion of “Kek” (and its home country, Kekistan), or its adoption of Pepe the Frog as a mascot.

So, are we surprised when “New Zealand Mosque Shooting Suspect Brenton Tarrant Flashes White Power Sign in Court”?  Uh, nope….

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand—The self-described racist who allegedly carried out massacres in two mosques flashed a white power sign during his first court appearance.

Photos from the brief proceeding showed Brenton Harrison Tarrant, flanked by police, using his shackled hand to make an “OK” symbol that has been appropriated by white supremacists and is also used by right-wing internet trolls.

The 28-year-old Australian personal trainer is charged with one count of murder in connection with the back-to-back mass shootings that left 50 people dead and dozens more wounded—but authorities said more charges will be coming. His court-appointed attorney did not apply for bail, and he will be jailed until his next appearance on April 5.

The public was not allowed into the courtroom, which was packed with media. Tarrant wordlessly swayed in the dock, looking back and forth from the gallery to the bench.

Tarrant did not seek a suppression order that would have prevented media from using his name in New Zealand—perhaps not a surprise given his apparent lust for notoriety as evidenced by an online manifesto and a sickening live-stream of the attack.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the symbol Tarrant used was adopted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis “to signal their presence to the like-minded, as well as to identify potentially sympathetic recruits among young trolling artists flashing it.”

The Washington Post reports that new video, now taken offline, shows him in his Subaru Outback moments before he started the deadly rampage. “All right,” he said after starting the car. “Let’s get this party started.”

And hell yeah, to this NYT opinion piece today by David Leonhardt. It Isn’t Complicated: Trump Encourages Violence. He doesn’t deserve blame for any specific attack. He does deserve blame for the increase in white-nationalist violence.”

The president of the United States suggested last week that his political supporters might resort to violence if they didn’t get their way.

The statement didn’t even get that much attention. I’m guessing you heard a lot more about the college-admissions scandal than about the president’s threat of extralegal violence. So let me tell you a little more about the threat.

In an Oval Office interview with writers from the right-wing news site Breitbart, President Trump began complaining about Paul Ryan. As speaker of the House, Ryan blocked efforts by other House Republicans to subpoena and investigate people on the political left. Trump’s loyal allies in the House “wanted to go tougher,” Trump said, “but they weren’t allowed to by leadership.”

To Trump, the incident was part of a larger problem: “You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. O.K.? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

The president of the United States suggested last week that his political supporters might resort to violence if they didn’t get their way.

The statement didn’t even get that much attention. I’m guessing you heard a lot more about the college-admissions scandal than about the president’s threat of extralegal violence. So let me tell you a little more about the threat.

In an Oval Office interview with writers from the right-wing news site Breitbart, President Trump began complaining about Paul Ryan. As speaker of the House, Ryan blocked efforts by other House Republicans to subpoena and investigate people on the political left. Trump’s loyal allies in the House “wanted to go tougher,” Trump said, “but they weren’t allowed to by leadership.”

To Trump, the incident was part of a larger problem: “You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. O.K.? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

So, for all you nice wipipo in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, right on down the Missouri River to the mouth of the Mississippi, I hope you get your Federal Emergency pretty soon and that FEMA does better by you under your Trump than it did by New Orleans under your Dubya Bush.   He’s your fault.  He’s not nor will he ever be my president.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

And, I hope you enjoy the Super Sunday 2019 pictures from Mid City yesterday in New Orleans.  The craftsmanship that goes into the costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians is super amazing.

 


It’s time for some wearin’ o’ the Green!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This is going to be a short open thread.   For some reason, all the crazy sexism and misogyny floating around the Dem primary candidates got me thinking on this Joni lyric:

This signal here
I hope you can pick it up
Loud and clear
I know you don’t like weak women
You get bored so quick
And you don’t like strong women
‘Cause they’re hip to your tricks

This is a few years old but I enjoyed it all the same:  From The New Yorker: “Joni Mitchell’s Openhearted Heroism. She made the best music of her generation by falling in love, over and over, while defending her sense of self.”

Mitchell writes about emotional information: who controls it, and how it is squandered or hoarded, withheld or weaponized. This requires some reconnaissance, which for Mitchell involves falling in and out of love, over and over—not so much a research method as a form of self-surgery. Her songs report on those lessons, which are, in an instant, in performance, happily forgotten. She is always thinking about the ways in which calculation fails, as guile yields again and again to innocence. As she put it in “Song for Sharon”: “I can keep my cool at poker / But I’m a fool when love’s at stake.”

She was never a fool for longer than her art required, though, and she could be withering, in interviews, about the lovers who misread her patient scrutiny of them for acquiescence. David Crosby, who produced Mitchell’s first record, would “trot me out” in front of his friends, she said, “and watch me blow their minds.” Crosby is the smooth operator in the first verses of “Cactus Tree”:

There’s a man who’s been out sailing
In a decade full of dreams
And he takes her to a schooner
And he treats her like a queen
Bearing beads from California
With their amber stones and green

It sounds like a cross between a hippie valentine and an abduction scenario. As the tune progresses, one suitor after another makes his approach, but Mitchell’s refrain wards them off: “She’s so busy being free.”

That freedom was hard-won. Men often wanted Mitchell to be a wife, a muse, a siren, or a star. Instead, they got a genius, and one especially suited to deconstructing their fantasies of her. When David Geffen, her manager, implored her to write a hit, she came up with “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio,” which mocks the request while heedlessly fulfilling it:

I come when you whistle
When you’re loving and kind
If you’ve got too many doubts
If there’s no good reception for me
Then tune me out, ’cause honey
Who needs the static
It hurts the head
And you wind up cracking
And the day goes dismal
From “Breakfast Barney”
To the sign-off prayer

The song checks all the boxes: it’s hummable, it’s accessible, it’s a love song—but it’s also a sabred refusal of all of the above. Mitchell was frank but weirdly Parnassian about male sexual appetite, which she saw as not so different, finally, from her own. When she resisted the advances of Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, it was partly because she recognized her own techniques in their vulpine attentions. (She always said that she preferred “the company of men.”) In “Coyote,” a song about her fling with Sam Shepard, Mitchell describes his roving eye: “He’s staring a hole in his scrambled eggs / He picks up my scent on his fingers / While he’s watching the waitresses’ legs.” The detail is crude and adolescent, but it’s also very sexy, and Mitchell sings those lines to sound like a boast. Prowess is prowess.

What really got me thinking about the entire treatment of the incredibly talented Democratic women running for the Presidency in 2020 was this discussion we had earlier this week on Boomer’s thread about Beto and this Politico headline ‘Not one woman got that kind of coverage’: Beto backlash begins by Natasha Koreki.

Since announcing her 2020 run, Elizabeth Warren has dispensed three major policy proposals, held 30 campaign events and visited nearly a dozen states.

Since announcing his 2020 run, Beto O’Rourke has made one visit to Iowa, where he vaguely outlined his positions, including from atop a cafe counter.

Guess who’s getting the star treatment.

stbrigid2And it’s kinda like today.  February 1st was St. Brigid of Kildare’s Day. She is also a patron Saint of the Irish yet she get’s no play at all here.

Little is known of her life but from legendmyth, and folklore. According to these, she was born of a noble father and a slave mother and was sold along with her mother to a Druid, whom she later converted to Christianity. On being set free, she returned to her father, who tried to marry her to the king of Ulster. Impressed by her piety, the king removed her from parental control. According to the Liber hymnorum (11th century), the Curragh, a plain in Kildare, was granted by the king of Leinster to St. Brigid. At Kildare she founded the first nunnery in Ireland. The community became a double abbey for monks and nuns, with the abbess ranking above the abbot. Her friend St. Conleth became, at Brigid’s beckoning, bishop of her people. She is said to have been active in founding other communities of nuns.

St. Brigid appears in a wealth of literature, notably the Book of Lismore, the Breviarium Aberdonense, and Bethada Náem n-Érenn. One of the loveliest and most gently profound legends of Brigid is the story of Dara, the blind nun, for the restoration of whose sight Brigid prayed. When the miracle was granted, Dara realized that the clarity of sight blurred God in the eye of the soul, whereupon she asked Brigid to return her to the beauty of darkness. Brigid is also said to have miraculously changed water into beer for a leper colony and provided enough beer for 18 churches from a single barrel; she is sometimes considered to be one of the patron saints of beer.

So, she’s really the patron saints of beer and known for turning water into beer.  But who get’s all the beer in celebration?  Hmmm?  So, here’s to Saint Brigid who was known for giving everything away and for having a brilliant little woven cross.

And here’s to the women who are trying to find all the oxygen taken by the Bad News B boys (Bernie, Beto, Biden) to give voices to the rest of us.

Anyway, have a happy day!!!

What’s on your mind today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Balinese god Barong-Ket, a combination of lion, tiger, cow, and dragon.

Good Morning!!

I said this a few days ago, and I’m still feeling it: I don’t want to live in this world. America’s toxic culture of white supremacy and mass shootings is spreading around the globe, enabled by Trump. I stayed offline for much of the day yesterday so I wouldn’t have to read about the horror in New Zealand.

I did hear last night that somehow the massacre on the other side of the world was the fault of Chelsea Clinton. At least according to some Bernie Sanders supporters. Here’s the video of a young women in a Bernie T-shirt poking her finger at Chelsea and screaming in her face.

From Business Insider:

Clinton, who attended and worked at the university in various capacities, including co-founding the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership, was said to be invited to the vigil, according to students at the vigil.

But Clinton’s presence at the vigil was not a welcome sight for at least two activists who were at the vigil.

A video went viral on Twitter Friday night showing a confrontation between Clinton and a student activist, filmed and tweeted out by a friend, who can be seen in the video telling Clinton, “This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put into the world. And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply — 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there.” [….]

On Twitter, an account that appears to belong to the student activist wrote, “the CAUCASITY that chelsea clinton has showing up to a vigil for the 49 muslims massacred in an islamophobic hate crime after STOKING ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RACISM surrounding ilhan omar… f—ing ridiculous.” The account retweeted the video, posted by her “best friend,” writing, “apparently my brand is yelling at white politicians.”

Ancient Egypian goddes Sekhmet

Fact check: Chelsea Clinton is not a politician. Chelsea’s offense was that she sent a tweet about anti-semitism, after which she politely interacted with Rep Ilhan Omar, who had been criticized for tweets about politicians supporting Israel because they received donations from AIPAC. Here is what Clinton tweeted: “We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.”

On the other hand, let’s take a look at Trump’s history. Brian Klaas at The Washington Post: A short history of President Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry.

Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry has a long history. In 2011 and 2012, Trump insinuated that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim. In September 2015, at a campaign rally, Trump nodded along as a supporter claimed “we have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims.” Trump continued nodding, saying “right,” and “we need this question!” as the supporter then proceeded to ask Trump “when can we get rid of them [Muslims]?” In response, Trump said: “We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things.”

In November 2015, on “Morning Joe,” Trump said that America needs to “watch and study the mosques.” Four days later, he indicated that he would “certainly implement” a database to track Muslims in the United States. Two days after that, he falsely claimedthat “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Then came the most egregious statement — one that should haunt Trump’s legacy forever and taint everyone who supported him subsequently: On Dec. 7, 2015, he called to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Three days later, Trump tweeted that the United Kingdom is “trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem.” On March 9, 2016, Trump falsely claimed that “Islam hates us.”

Upon taking office, Trump surrounded himself with anti-Muslim bigots. Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump adviser, was fired by the FBI for his Islamophobia. Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced national-security-adviser-turned-felon, said that Islam “is like a cancer.” And top officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have also stoked hatred of Islam.

Egyptian goddess Bastet

In late November 2017, Trump retweeted three videos by Jayda Fransen. She was one of the leaders of Britain First, a neo-fascist hate group. She has been convicted of multiple hate-crime offensesand was involved in organizing “Christian patrols,” which included what Britain First called “mosque invasions” aimed at intimidating British Muslims. While Fransen was out on bail, she appeared on Radio Aryan, a neo-Nazi radio station. Her interview began right after the station concluded its reading from “Mein Kampf.” That is who the president of the United States chose to amplify to his millions and millions of Twitter followers.

There’s much more at the link if you can stand to read it.

More from Vox: The New Zealand shooter called immigrants “invaders.” Hours later, so did Trump.

President Donald Trump just used similar language to describe immigrants coming into the United States that the alleged mass shooter did to justify killing nearly 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On Friday, Trump issued the first veto of his presidency to override a congressional blockade of the national emergency he declared at America’s southern border. During the veto signing ceremony, Trump explained why he felt a national emergency was warranted to stop migrants from entering the US.

“People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is,” he said, according to the White House pool report.

That is chillingly similar to the language the main suspect in Friday’s Christchurch terrorist attack used to explain why he chose to gun down at least 49 Muslims. In the rambling 74-page manifesto the 28-year-old suspected shooter posted online shortly before the attack, he writes that he was committing the killings “to show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands.”

It’s also the same language the man who killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October used: In that case, the perpetrator blamed Jews for helping what he called “invaders”in the Central American migrant caravans who were trying to enter the US.

Informative articles on the New Zealand terrorist attack, links only:

Cat in mosaic at Pompeii

David C. Atkinson at The New Republic: The Longer History of the Christchurch Attacks. For over a century, the United States has played a role in inspiring and enabling white supremacy in Australia and New Zealand.

Wajahat Ali at The New York Times: The Roots of the Christchurch Massacre. All those who have helped to spread the worldwide myth that Muslims are a threat have blood on their hands.

NBC News: New Zealand shooting leaves online extremism researchers ‘hopeless and furious.’

The Daily Beast: New Zealand Mosque Shooting Suspect Used Swedish Girl’s Death as License to Kill.

 

More interesting reads to check out

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a fascinating story on that former Putin pal who supposedly died accidentally in a DC hotel room: Exclusive: Washington Autopsy Files Reveal Lesin Sustained Broken Bone In Neck.

WASHINGTON — Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister who turned up dead in a Washington hotel room in 2015, sustained a fracture to a neck bone just below the jaw line “at or near the time” of his death, according to documents released by the city’s medical examiner that provide new details about his final days….

That detail, however, and others contained in the 149-page file released exclusively to RFE/RL offer the most precise scientific description to date about Lesin’s death, which officials ruled accidental and said was caused by blunt-force injuries amid excessive alcohol consumption.

Once a powerful media adviser to President Vladimir Putin, Lesin fell out of favor with the Kremlin elite sometime around 2012 and had lowered his public profile before he was discovered dead in the Dupont Circle Hotel, located a few blocks from the White House, on November 5, 2015….

Hindu sacret tigress Dawon

Among the new details revealed by the documents:

• Lesin’s hyoid — a bone located about midway between the larynx and the jaw bone — was completely fractured;

• The FBI considered possibly taking over the case in early 2016. It wasn’t clear whether the agency formally did so, though earlier files released by the agency show its agents were involved in questioning witnesses and examining video recordings from hotel cameras;

• Lesin’s son, Anton, who lives in Beverly Hills, California, told investigators he did not know why his father was in the U.S. capital, and also reported that Lesin regularly had serious bouts of drinking while on business trips;

• The day after the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released an initial report, one of its officials was summoned to appear before a criminal grand jury looking into Lesin’s death;

• In a report filed the day of Lesin’s death, a forensic investigator with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner wrote that a detective had called and said a “friend” of the former Russian official had contacted him and “inquired about the decedent’s location.”

Read many more details at the link.

The media has begun vetting Beto O’Rourke. Two interesting reads:

Reuters: Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group.

While a teenager, O’Rourke acknowledged in an exclusive interview, he belonged to the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history.

The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.

Members of the group have protected O’Rourke’s secret for decades, reluctant to compromise his political viability. Now, in a series of interviews, CDC members have acknowledged O’Rourke as one of their own. In all, more than a dozen members of the group agreed to be named for the first time in a book about the hacking group by this reporter that is scheduled to be published in June by Public Affairs. O’Rourke was interviewed early in his run for the Senate.

Mayan Jaguar god

There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. But his membership in the group could explain his approach to politics better than anything on his resume. His background in hacking circles has repeatedly informed his strategy as he explored and subverted established procedures in technology, the media and government.

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

That doesn’t seem to problematic to me. As younger candidates come forward, they are likely to have on-line histories. This story from Politico is a bit more embarrassing: O’Rourke ‘not … proud’ of teenage murder fantasy writing.

Beto O’Rourke said Friday he is “not … proud” of fiction he wrote as teenager about murdering children, while acknowledging its surfacing could hurt his campaign.

“Stuff I was part of as a teenager … not anything that I’m proud of today,” O’Rourke told reporters outside a meet-and-greet here. “And I mean, that’s the long and short of it.”

O’Rourke’s remarks followed a report in Reuters that O’Rourke, as a young member of the computer hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow, wrote an online article about how society could work without money and, in a more disturbing missive, about killing children.

“One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles. … This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams,” he wrote, according to Reuters. “As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”

There’s more of this stuff, definitely creepy; but it was a long time ago. Bernie Sanders survived his early fantasy writings about rape and his theories about breast cancer being caused by sexual frustration.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Ides of March Reads

It’s Mueller Friday Sky Dancers!

And it’s the Ides of March!  Who needs to beware today?

Let’s start with this from Reuters: “Mueller, in U.S. court filing, says multiple probes continue” and asks for a sentencing delay for Rick Gates.  I imagine he’s cooperating on the Trump inauguration scam but it’s just a guess on my part.

 The U.S. Special Counsel’s Office on Friday asked a court to delay sentencing for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, amid “ongoing investigations” stemming from the Russia investigation.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller cited Gates’ continued cooperation with multiple probes and asked permission to update the judge on the case again by May 14.

“Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time,” Mueller’s team said in the court filing.

Gates is probably the one person who is still in the best position to spill a lot of beans in a lot of areas.  He was active during and past the campaign and transition.  This is from the AP via ABC News.

Gates is a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. But he is also helping federal authorities in New York who are looking into Trump’s inaugural committee as well as lobbying on behalf of foreign interests by prominent Washington insiders.

The joint filing by Mueller’s office and Gates’ attorneys comes amid signs the Russia investigation is winding down. But it’s unclear if Friday’s delay is an indication that Mueller may submit his confidential report soon or if it’s related to the status of the other investigations.

The filing asked for another 60 days to update U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on whether Gates can proceed to sentencing. The judge granted the request later Friday.

Gates pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and false statement charges related to Ukrainian lobbying and political consulting he carried out with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Gates helped the government in obtaining a trial conviction of Manafort last year. Prosecutors have noted that he continues to provide information about Manafort’s time on the Trump campaign, though neither man has been charged with any crimes related to Russian election interference.

Still, Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who led the Manafort case, told a federal judge earlier this year that a meeting Gates attended with Manafort in August 2016 went to the “heart” of the Russia investigation. The meeting at the Grand Havana Room cigar club in New York was with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort associate who the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence.

Prosecutors have not revealed exactly what piqued their interest in the meeting, though court papers show it involved a discussion of a possible Russia-Ukraine peace plan.

Separately, federal prosecutors in New York are investigating the Presidential Inaugural Committee, where Gates served in a senior role. Investigators are looking into whether foreigners illegally contributed to the committee, which raised $107 million for Trump’s inaugural events, and how that money was spent.

The same office is also investigating lobbying for Ukraine in which Gates was involved.

Another mass murder by white nationalist terrorists shocks the world.

Yesterday, New Zealand became a site of right wing white nationalist terror.  There were mass shootings at Muslim Mosques that have taken many lives. A video from the attacks has been streaming on the internet and is said to be from an attacker.

Facebook, where a man claiming to be the attacker livestreamed footage of the shootings, removed the original video about an hour later, but by that time copies of the footage had started to circulate across other social media sites.

Facebook’s community standards explicitly ban “individuals engaged in mass murder” from having a presence on its network, and the company has deleted the account associated with the suspect. But eight hours after the attack videos were still live, obscured behind a warning that they may “show violent or graphic content” but not deleted.

Traditional news outlets have taken starkly different positions. MailOnline’s version of the story features an autoplaying clip of 18 seconds of the suspect’s livestream, showing him leaving his car, weapon in hand, cutting it as he enters the front door of Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue. There was a version of the clip autoplaying on its homepage.

The Sun took a similar approach. A spokesman for the paper told the Guardian: “We recognise that in the aftermath of horrific events such as these there will be sensitivities around reporting, and we take those responsibilities seriously.

“We have thought long and hard about how much of the easily available material currently on social media we should host on our site in order to shed light on this barbarous attack and the twisted ‘motive’ behind it. We have not published any video which depicts any act of actual violence, nor have we published or linked to the hate-filled manifesto.”

On the Mirror’s website, a longer clip of the same video led the story, showing the same footage of the attacker entering the mosque, cutting over the footage of the attack, and resuming the clip as the gunman walks back out of the building towards his car. That video was removed following inquiries from the Guardian, and the paper’s editor later apologised, saying “It is not in line with our policy relating to terrorist propaganda videos.”

A Fox News Analyst has found bottom on what not to say about an attack of this magnitude.  No thoughts and prayers from the Fox propaganda lair. This is from the Daily Beast.

Fox News analyst Walid Phares called Friday’s white nationalist terrorist attackin Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 49 people and injured 40 others, “very understandable” on a “political level.” Phares said that New Zealand has now joined countries fighting terrorism “on all sides” adding, it’s very understandable what (the shooter) was trying to do on a political level, obviously it’s horrific and should be condemned completely on the action level.” Earlier in the segment, Phares called the horrific attack “pure evil, more than that it’s successful pure evil.” “Unfortunately New Zealand now has joined the community of probably 100 countries that are fighting terrorism from any side and all sides, mosques, churches have been attacked by extremists on all sides.” Phares is an author and right-wing political pundit. He worked for the Republican presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2012, and President Donald Trump in 2016.

The primary attacker has left a manifesto which can be found on The Daily Mail.  The DM also shared the first person footage of the attack.

The Daily Mail’s website uploaded the Christchurch mosque attacker’s 74-page “manifesto”, allowing readers to download the entire document just hours after the massacre on Friday which left at least 49 people dead.

The Mail was one of several British news outlets which defied requests from New Zealand police on Friday not to spread the terrorist’s first-person footage, which had been repeatedly shared across social media platforms in the wake of the attack.

The latest news is that there are 49 confirmed dead.  Four suspects have been arrested to include one woman.

KEY POINTS:
• 49 confirmed dead in ‘terrorist’ shootings at two Christchurch mosques
• Seven died at Linwood, 41 at mosque near Hagley Park
• Four people initially arrested, including one woman
• Man, 28 due in court tomorrow charged with murder
• One of the gunmen livestreamed shooting at Al Noor Mosque in chilling 17-min video

Forty-nine people have been killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques in the worst terror attack on New Zealand soil.

Nour Tavis said he was in the front row of the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave with his friend when the shooting started. At first they did not know what the noise was.

“Then we heard screaming … everyone panicked,” he said. “There was shooting and shooting and shooting … people were running and all of a sudden you saw them fall.”

Tavis saw someone smash a window and jump out. “It was the only way to escape,” he said. “I followed.”

As he and others ran for cover the shooting carried on inside the mosque.

The questions now start about where these folks are getting their inspirations.  Here’s some speculation from WAPO’s James McAuley.  The sources is the main suspect’s manifesto.

Before embarking on a deadly shooting rampage Friday targeting Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, the suspected gunman — a 28-year-old, self-styled “regular white man from a regular family” — posted a 74-page manifesto on Twitter.

The sprawling, angry text sheds some light on the motivation behind an attack that killed 49 Muslims during Friday prayers and wounded dozens of others. Among other things, that suspect — who Christchurch police say posted the manifesto and whom they have since charged with murder — wrote that a trip to France in 2017 convinced him that the country was under “invasion” by “nonwhites.”

“The final push was witnessing the state of French cities and towns. For many years I had been hearing and reading of the invasion of France by nonwhites, many of these rumors and stories I believed to be exaggerations, created to push a political narrative,” the suspect wrote.

“But once I arrived in France, I found the stories not only to be true, but profoundly understated,” he continued. A significant detail is that the suspect titled his manifesto “The Great Replacement,” a clear reference to the title of a 2012 book by right-wing French polemicist Renaud Camus.

In that book, Camus expounds on the “theory” that Europe’s white majority is being replaced by nonwhite North African and sub-Saharan African immigrants, many of whom are Muslim.

The “great replacement” has been a battle cry of the French far right, even after immigration arrivals into Europe fell significantly after their peak in 2015. In the words of Marion Maréchal, granddaughter of convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen and a darling of the American far right, the idea perfectly corresponds to reality.

Unsurprisingly, the shooter also finds inspiration in the current occupant of the US White House.  I am fully ashamed of this.  This is from Salon and the keyboard of Chauncey DeVega.

Words are weapons. Those weapons can be lethal.

The president of the United States gives both permission and encouragement for public’s behavior, values and norms. This is true both in the United States and around the world. He or she is that powerful.

Earlier on Friday, a 28-year-old white man who appears to have described himself as “an actual fascist” entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, armed with assault rifles and killed at least 49 people, injuring many 20 others. New Zealand authorities also report that the attacker had placed two explosive devices on his vehicle, which apparently did not detonate.

In an especially gruesome contemporary twist, the gunman apparently streamed parts of the terror attack live on Facebook. Although that feed and other accounts apparently associated with the shooter have been taken down, the New York Times reports that both the 17-minute video and a manifesto apparently posted by the shooter have been widely disseminated on social media.

Three men and one woman have been taken into custody by New Zealand law enforcement, who have since said that one of those people is likely not involved. At this writing, reports suggest that the 28-year-old man, who by his own account was born and raised in Australia, may have been the sole shooter.

hat man appears to have posted his hate-filled manifesto online before the attack. In it, he rages against “Islamic invaders” who are “occupying European soil,” and specifically writes that he used guns to commit this massacre in order to call attention to debate about the Second Amendment in the United States. The alleged mass murderer also wrote that he had donated money to American white supremacist organizations, and quoted the “14 words” pledge often used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

According to various reports, the alleged terrorist specifically cited President Trump as an inspiration. His online manifesto praises Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Friday’s massacre appears to be another example of what is known as “stochastic terrorism” or “scripted violence.” It is also another case study in how right-wing terrorists, with no official group affiliation, can be radicalized online

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.–writing for The Root– leaves us with this lede. “New Zealand Mosques Shooting Suspect Called Trump a ‘Symbol of White Supremacy’ and Claimed He Was Just a ‘Regular White Man’ Ensuring a ‘Future for My People’ “

The suspected gunman who killed dozens of worshippers inside two New Zealand mosques is an Australian man who reportedly posted a 74-page manifesto that called Donald Trump as a “symbol of white supremacy” before the shooting .

According to Yahoo News, the alleged killer who live-streamed the attack identified himself as Brenton Tarrant. He claimed that he was motivated by “far-right extremism he saw in the United States to carry out the attack at Al Noor Mosque.”

The shooting left 49 people dead inside two mosques. Some 41 people were killed inside Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch while several more were killed inside Linwood Masjid Mosque.

The suspect was captured and has been charged with murder. Three other people are also being held in custody, Yahoo News reports.

Someone using the username ‘Brenton Tarrant 9’ posted footage of the attack that “shows the gunman firing 205 times on men, woman and children and stopping only to reload his weapons.”

The last few years have put the worst of our country on display.  It is out there inspiring the worst of humanity.  Not a day goes by that I do not wonder what type of hell realm beings find inspiration in this atrocious lump of air brushed flesh.  Well, we see at least one of them today.  It’s at this point where you know that thoughts and prayers can never be enough.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Today’s Word Is Hubris

Good Morning!!

Are you ready to vote for a young white man with minimal experience who couldn’t carrry his home state and declares, “I’m just born to do this” about running for president? I guess I’m just too old and cynical to see the appeal of this guy. Joe Hagen has a profile of Beto O’Rourke at Vanity Fair. Here’s an excerpt:

Settling into an armchair in his living room, he tries to make sense of his rise. “I honestly don’t know how much of it was me,” he says. “But there is something abnormal, super-normal, or I don’t know what the hell to call it, that we both experience when we’re out on the campaign trail.”

O’Rourke and his wife, Amy, an educator nine years his junior, both describe the moment they first witnessed the power of O’Rourke’s gift. It was in Houston, the third stop on O’Rourke’s two-year Senate campaign against Ted Cruz. “Every seat was taken, every wall, every space in the room was filled with probably a thousand people,” recalls Amy O’Rourke. “You could feel the floor moving almost. It was not totally clear that Beto was what everybody was looking for, but just like that people were so ready for something. So that was totally shocking. I mean, like, took-my-breath-away shocking.”

For O’Rourke, what followed was a near-mystical experience. “I don’t ever prepare a speech,” he says. “I don’t write out what I’m going to say. I remember driving to that, I was, like, ‘What do I say? Maybe I’ll just introduce myself. I’ll take questions.’ I got in there, and I don’t know if it’s a speech or not, but it felt amazing. Because every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there. Everything that I said, I was, like, watching myself, being like, How am I saying this stuff? Where is this coming from?

“There’s something that happens to me,” he says, “or that I get to be a part of in those rooms, that is not like normal life. I don’t know if that has ever happened to me before. I don’t know if that would happen again.”

So he’s supposedly a rock star, a natural. But why is he running for president and what are his qualifications?

“My sense is, following some success that I had in Congress, and working with Republicans to actually get things signed into law, including both President Obama and President Trump’s administrations, that I may have an ability to work with people who think differently than I do, come to a different conclusion that I’ve come to on a given issue, and yet find enough common ground to do something better than what we have right now.”

A few days before Trump arrives, while meeting with students at the University of Texas at El Paso, O’Rourke compares the battle against Trump to “every epic movie that you’ve ever seen, from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings. This is the moment where we’re going to win or lose everything.” O’Rourke likes to think in such mythic terms. As he quipped on the campaign trail, he named his son Ulysses because “I didn’t have the balls to call him Odysseus.” But in a private meeting with Barack Obama last November, the former president had asked Beto O’Rourke to consider if he had a clear path to the White House. Could he deliver Texas?

Michigan? Pennsylvania? Wisconsin?

“I don’t have a team counting delegates,” O’Rourke says, again invoking a politics not readily accessible by reason. “Almost no one thought there was a path in Texas, and I just knew it. I just felt it. I knew it was there, and I knew that with enough work and enough creativity and enough amazing people, if I’m able to meet them and bring them in, then we can do it.

“That’s how I feel about this,” he says. “It’s probably not the most professional thing you’ve ever heard about this, but I just feel it.”

But he lost in Texas. I guess there’s something wrong with me, but I just don’t get it. The stuff this guy says about himself makes me want to throw up.

Josh Voorhees at Slate: Beto 2020 Has No Reason to Exist: Of all the major candidates, he brings the least to the Democratic primary.

Beto O’Rourke is finally ready to end the suspense. The former Texas congressman is expected to formally kick off his presidential campaign Thursday, one day after tipping his hand to a local TV station in Texas. “I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke told KTSM El Paso via text. “It’s a big part of why I’m running.” His apparent confirmation came on the heels of a new Vanity Fair cover story—complete with glossy photo shoot—in which he told the magazine that he wanted to run. “I want to be in it,” he said, after describing our current political moment as an existential fight. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.” [….]

Beto is missing one important thing, though: an actual reason to run.

O’Rourke would enter the race as a man without a clear political ideology, a signature legislative achievement, a major policy issue, or a concrete agenda for the country. Those in the know tell the Atlantic that Beto is planning to run as a candidate “offering hope that America can be better than its current partisan and hate-filled politics, and that the country can come together,” but that—brace yourself—he hasn’t yet “landed on how he’ll propose to actually make that happen.” That’s more of the same empty words Beto’s been offering in public since his loss to Cruz. “I don’t know where I am on a [political] spectrum, and I almost could care less,” he said at a recent stop in Wisconsin. “I just want to get to better things for this country.”

“Beto 2020: Better Things” would not be the worst campaign slogan I’ve ever heard, but it’s nowhere near a fully formed vision of why O’Rourke thinks he should be president, or why Democrats of any stripe should want him to be. It’s possible that he’d be able to ride to the nomination on the force of his personality alone—it’s gotten him this far—but that would be a particular shame considering he’ll face one of the deepest and most diverse primary fields. If Democrats are in the market for soaring rhetoric about bridging the partisan divide, they can get that from Joe Biden, Cory Booker, or Amy Klobuchar—all of whom can offer their own specific cases for what that bipartisanship can produce, unlike O’Rourke.

A couple more Beto reads to check out:

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Beto O’Rourke Has a Good Reason He’s Running. He Just Can’t Say It.

The Guardian: Beto O’Rourke frequently voted for Republican legislation, analysis reveals.

Meanwhile, yesterday Paul Manafort got his second sentence in federal court and shortly thereafter, he was hit with state charges in New York. I love this headline from Vanity Fair: New York Prosecutors Knee Manafort in the Balls while He’s Doubled Over Coughing up Blood, by Beth Levin.

On Wednesday morning in a D.C. courtroom, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort engaged in what we assume was, for him, a deeply humiliating act: he expressed remorse, presumably for the first time in his 69 years on earth. Or, at least, he tried to. “I am sorry for what I’ve done and all the activities that have gotten us here today,” he told Judge Amy Berman Jackson, claiming that he shouldn’t get more jail time for the copious federal crimes he committed because he is his adult wife’s “primary caretaker,” and the two of them need each other. “I know that it was my conduct that brought me here today,” Manafort added. “For that, I am remorseful. While I cannot undo the past, I can ensure that the future will be very different. . . . I can say to you with conviction that my behavior in the future will be very different.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson

While that reasoning might have worked on Judge T.S. Ellis, who strangely argued last week that Manafort had led a “blameless life” outside of all the crime, Jackson wasn’t having it, sentencing him to an additional 43 months on federal conspiracy charges, and letting him know she saw right through his act: “Saying I’m sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency.” And, somehow, it’s unlikely that that was the worst part of Manafort’s day! Because literal minutes later, this happened:

New York prosecutors Wednesday announced criminal charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, only minutes after his sentencing in a federal case. The indictment, unveiled by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, charges Manafort with 16 counts related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. . . . Crucially, Trump does not have pardon power for state charges.

The indictment from New York prosecutors alleges a yearlong scheme in which Manafort doctored business records to obtain millions in loans, and reportedly grew out of an investigation that started in 2017 when prosecutors started looking into loans Manafort had received from two banks. Last week, a grand jury moved to charge the guy who ran the president’s campaign with residential mortgage fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and a handful of other crimes. If he’s convicted of the most serious charges, he could spend up to a quarter of a century in prison. (The Times could not immediately reach Manafort’s legal team for comment.)

I love that headline. Read the rest at Vanity Fair.

This morning, Roger Stone will face Judge Amy Berman Jackson. He should be shaking in his boots after the tongue-lashing Jackson gave to Manafort and his attorneys yesterday.

That should be interesting. I’ll post update as I get them.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?