Sunday Sum Up: Quo Vadis?

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s Persian New Year!  Yesterday was National Puppy Day!  I’ve been looking at all kinds of things to find some distractions but I still fell empty and wanting from my nearly 2 year relationship with Robert Mueller.  I can’t help asking what does this break up mean?  Is it really over?  Where do we go from here?

I appear not to be alone in my search for clues and answers.  So, here it is … the morning list of reads of what’s next  or entering the next phase of throwing the entire Trump/Kushner family syndicate in jail and out of the White House.

 

!Oh, and this:

Plus, mmm this:

Continuing on ..

and, for your consideration …

Well, go read and get back to me …

JJ should be back this week.   And, this is an open thread, no, really it is …

Meanwhile, here are some puppies to celebrate National Puppy Day a day late!!!

And read all about Nowruz (Persian New Year) here.

 


Lazy Caturday Reads: The Mueller Report So Far

A Girl with a Cat – Robert Braithwaite Martineau, 1860 British painter 1826-1869

Good Afternoon!!

I don’t know what to think this morning. I’m still suspicious that AG Bill Barr may have ended the Mueller investigation prematurely. I guess we’ll learn more over the weekend. Reportedly, Barr is in his office today and CNN says we could get an update sometime today.

I’m reserving judgment for now, but I can help but be disappointed that Mueller didn’t charge anyone in Trump’s inner circle. Of course there are still multiple other investigations going on, but it looks like the Russia probe will now have be pursued in the House committees.

Some media reactions to check out:

Natasha Bertrand: What Mueller Leaves Behind.

After one year, 10 months, and six days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his final report to the attorney general, signaling the end of his investigation into a potential conspiracy between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Mueller’s pace has been breakneck, legal experts tell me—especially for a complicated criminal investigation that involves foreign nationals and the Kremlin, an adversarial government. The next-shortest special-counsel inquiry was the three-and-a-half-year investigation of the Plame affair, under President George W. Bush; the longest looked into the Iran-Contra scandal, under President Ronald Reagan, which lasted nearly seven years. Still, former FBI agents have expressed surprise that Mueller ended his probe without ever personally interviewing its central target: Donald Trump.

The content of the special counsel’s report is still unknown—Mueller delivered it to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, and now it’s up to Barr to write his own summary of the findings, which will then go to Congress.

While aspects of the central pieces of Mueller’s investigation—conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and kompromat, the Russians’ practice of collecting damaging information about public figures to blackmail them with—have been revealed publicly through indictments and press-friendly witnesses, the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, and Mueller’s own legacy, still hang in the balance. Did Trump’s campaign knowingly work with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton and win the election? And how much was Mueller actually able to uncover?

Bertrand breaks down the knowns and unknowns in each of the three categories above. Read it all at The Atlantic.

Arsen Kurbanov, man and cat

Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel: After Mueller: An Off-Ramp on Russia for the Venal Fucks.

We don’t know what the Mueller report says, though given William Barr’s promise to brief the Judiciary Committee leaders this weekend and follow it with a public summary, it’s not likely to be that damning to Trump. But I can think of five mutually non-exclusive possibilities for the report:

  • Mueller ultimately found there was little fire behind the considerable amounts of smoke generated by Trump’s paranoia
  • The report will be very damning — showing a great deal of corruption — which nevertheless doesn’t amount to criminal behavior
  • Evidence that Manafort and Stone conspired with Russia to affect the election, but Mueller decided not to prosecute conspiracy itself because they’re both on the hook for the same prison sentence a conspiracy would net anyway, with far less evidentiary exposure
  • There’s evidence that others entered into a conspiracy with Russia to affect the election, but that couldn’t be charged because of evidentiary reasons that include classification concerns and presidential prerogatives over foreign policy, pardons, and firing employees
  • Mueller found strong evidence of a conspiracy with Russia, but Corsi, Manafort, and Stone’s lies (and Trump’s limited cooperation) prevented charging it

As many people have pointed out, this doesn’t mean Trump and his kin are out of jeopardy. This NYT piecesummarizes a breathtaking number of known investigations, spanning at least four US Attorneys offices plus New York state, but I believe even it is not comprehensive.

Read the rest at the link.

The New York Times: As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York.

Even as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, submitted his confidential report to the Justice Department on Friday, federal and state prosecutors are pursuing about a dozen other investigations that largely grew out of his work, all but ensuring that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

By Francsco Ubertini

Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates, according to court records and interviews with people briefed on the investigations. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, with about half of them being run by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Unlike Mr. Mueller, whose mandate was largely focused on any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the federal prosecutors in Manhattan take an expansive view of their jurisdiction. That authority has enabled them, along with F.B.I. agents, to scrutinize a broader orbit around the president, including his family business….

At this point, it is unclear whether anyone will be charged with a crime. Some of the investigations involve allegations that may be too old to be prosecuted. Yet taken together, the investigations show that the prosecutorial center of gravity has shifted from Mr. Mueller’s office in Washington to New York.

“The important thing to remember is that almost everything Donald Trump did was in the Southern District of New York,” said John S. Martin Jr., a retired federal judge who was the United States attorney in the Southern District during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

“He ran his business in the Southern District. He ran his campaign from the Southern District,” Judge Martin said. “He came home to New York every night.”

Newsweek: Robert Mueller’s Report is “Just the Beginning” of Donald Trump’s Legal Troubles, Experts Say.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has finally completed his nearly two-year investigation into Russian election interference, handing off his highly anticipated report to the attorney general on Friday. But legal experts warn that even though Mueller’s probe has stopped, there are still plenty more legal woes facing President Donald Trump.

Federico Andreotti (1847-1930, Italian) – The Great Cat

“The Mueller investigation is but a fraction of the president’s troubles. If anything, it’s just the beginning,” Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer and former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek….

“I think that [the Mueller report] certainly is not the end-all, be-all for legal problems and ethics problems for the president,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Newsweek.

“There’s just a lot of really problematic conduct that is being investigated, and that’s not to say that what special counsel Mueller found is not going to be incredibly important…but there’s some danger to looking at whatever he produces as the definitive statement on whether or not this president did anything wrong,” he said.

Bookbinder added that Mueller has a “very narrow mandate” as the special counsel, but “there’s a whole lot more out there.”

Read more at Newsweek.

The Washington Post: At the center of Mueller’s inquiry, a campaign that appeared to welcome Russia’s help.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation without charging any Americans with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 campaign and help elect Donald Trump.

But hundreds of pages of legal filings and independent reporting since Mueller was appointed nearly two years ago have painted a striking portrayal of a presidential campaign that appeared untroubled by a foreign adversary’s attack on the U.S. political system — and eager to accept the help.

When Trump’s eldest son was offered dirt about Hillary Clinton that he was told was part of a Russian government effort to help his father, he responded, “I love it.”

Hans Asper (1499-1571) – Portrait of Cleophea Holzhalb, 1538

When longtime Trump friend Roger Stone was told a Russian national wanted to sell damaging information about Clinton, he took the meeting.

When the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks published documents that the Democratic National Committee said had been stolen by Russian operatives, Trump’s campaign quickly used the information to its advantage. Rather than condemn the Kremlin, Trump famously asked Russia to steal more.

Even after taking office, Trump has been hesitant to condemn Russia’s actions, instead calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and denouncing the work of federal investigators seeking to understand a Russian attack on the country he leads.

Neal Kumar Kaytal: I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can — and should — release the Mueller report.

The public has every right to see Robert S. Mueller III’s conclusions. Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public.

Those regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1998 and 1999 as a young Justice Department lawyer, require three types of reports. First, the special counsel must give the attorney general “Urgent Reports” during the course of an investigation regarding things such as proposed indictments. Second, the special counsel must provide a report to the attorney general at the end of the investigation, which Mueller delivered on Friday. And third, the attorney general must furnish Congress with a report containing “an explanation for each action … upon conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Nikolai K Bodarevski (Rusia, 1850-1921). La petite fille au chat.

The regulations anticipated there would be differences among these three. Generally speaking, the final report the special counsel gives to the attorney general would be “confidential,” and the report the attorney general gives to Congress would be “brief.” We wanted to avoid another Starr report — a lurid document going unnecessarily into detail about someone’s intimate conduct and the like. A subject of such a report would have no mechanism to rebut those allegations or get his or her privacy back.

But the mentions of “brief” and “confidential” in the regulations and accompanying commentary were just general guidelines for each type of report. The text of the regulations never required the attorney general’s report to Congress to be short or nonpublic. Rather, that text expressly included a key provision saying the “Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest,” even if the public release may deviate from ordinary Justice Department protocols.

Read the rest at The Washington Post.

That’s all I’ve got. I just hope we learn more soon, because I’m not feeling good about this sudden end to the investigation. I’ve heard that the report is extensive, so that may be a good sign. We’ll just have to wait for more information.

Have a nice weekend Sky Dancers! Hang in there. This is an open thread.


Mueller Friday Reads: Republicans Know no Shame

KTIV viewer Aaron Voss shared these photos taken from the air over Ponca, Nebraska. Voss said he took them on March 13.

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Every one seems to be on Mueller Watch today as more rumors fly about the investigation’s report.  My issues appear to be more directly related to the absolute breakdown in the rules of how to be a polite person in a society of jerks when the jerks win the Presidency and Senate. Where ever you find a Trump supporter, you find filth, hatred, and calls to violence and I’m tired of it.

I actually dreamed last night that I met Cindy McCain at a convention/festival aimed at Anime fans that some how sprung up near my flooded out back yard of my last house in Omaha.  I felt like I had to apologize to her over and over and over.  My sleeping brain was obviously trying to figure out a lot of things.

One of my nuttiest hypereligious hyperTrumpy high school acquaintances was just regurgitating the Trump/Right WIng Party line on the late Senator John McCain on a mutual friends Facebook Thread on why attack the late Senator John McCain?  I had my issues with “Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran” John McCain but I’m not about to pretend that a man whose father faked a bones spurs deferment is a hero compared to a guy that had a chance to get out of the Hanoi Hilton early and let others go before him.

Former Senator and Nebraska Governor Bob Kerry actually said it best yesterday  (via HuffPo).  See, I keep coming back to my childhood/young adult days.

Kerrey, a former Navy SEAL who lost part of his right leg during the war, said on Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” that “you don’t grow out of bone spurs.” If Trump had them in the 1960s, Kerrey said, he’d still have them now (unless he underwent surgery, which Trump has never mentioned).

The challenge followed Trump’s latest disparaging remarks about the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years. McCain, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, died in August.

“While John McCain was flying combat operations in Vietnam, you were, I think, falsifying that you had bone spurs in order not to go to Vietnam,” said Kerrey, a 1992 presidential candidate who retired from the Senate in 2000. “Now, I know lots of people who avoided the draft, but this isn’t what he’s saying. He said ‘I physically couldn’t go.’ Well, Mr. President, get your feet X-rayed and let’s see those bone spurs. I don’t think he has them.”

Kerrey said he also believed Trump “sees all of us who went to Vietnam as fools. We were the suckers. We were the stupid ones. We were the ones that didn’t have the resources to be able to get out of the draft.”

Wahoo Fire & Rescue @WahoofireEMS Water is over the road. City will be closing Chestnut Street (Old Hwy 77) at the Wahoo Creek. Water is continuing to rise. March 13, 2019

My childhood stomping grounds are surrounded by floods.  Our home was way up in the hills of Council Bluffs and later way up on the hill my Dad found in West Omaha.  And, as you know, I’m on high ground here in the kathouse in New Orleans.  Grandad taught all of us to buy on the high ground when he and Nana lost everything to floods in Ohio back in the 20s.  That lesson stuck with me.

Farmland floods.  That’s what happens.  Towns on rivers experience floods all the time. They are getting worse but not a single person who gets flooded out doesn’t need a lot of help.  No one. No matter who they are or how they vote.  But, racist Republican Congressman Steve King just keeps at it with the inference that flooded Iowans take care of their own but flooded New Orleanians beg only for government handouts.  Why is every Republican these days such a hateful, horrid bigot and nut?  (Via The Hill)

Who endlessly speaks ill of a dead  Senator, Veteran, and former POW who certainly made policy gaffs but certainly his family shouldn’t have to endure this.  What kind of person can’t recognize the absolute wreckage and death brought by Hurricane Katrina and the weeks that folks were not allowed near their homes?  Banks were closed.  It took me until December to get my damned paycheck from the University of New Orleans.  I desperately needed that FEMA debit card and the help of a lot of people from St Charles, Louisiana, up through Texas, and well into Nebraska that included friends and strangers and yes, the government programs I used by heading to the Omaha Red Cross! I was raised in Steve King country.  I haven’t seen any difference in how Americans respond to flood if either victim or helping neighbor.

Huge disasters require huge responses on all levels..  Why are you dancing on the graves of dead New Orleans and all of us that suffered, and still suffer from that event?  What is wrong with you? I don’t like my tax money going to subsidizing noncompetitive businesses but I’ll write a check any day to rescue an American from a disaster over which they have no control.

Republican Rep. Steve King (Iowa) contrasted Iowans as being willing to help one another compared to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.“Here’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying ‘who’s gonna help me?’ ” King said at a town hall event in a video posted to his Facebook page.

He said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told him that an Iowan, however, would say “wait a minute, let me get my boots, it’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.”

“They’re just always gratified when they come and see how Iowans take care of each other,” he added.

In this Monday, March 18, 2019, photo taken by the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol and provided by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, shows flooding along the Missouri River north of Blair, Neb. (Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management via AP) (Associated Press)

This WAPO article really brings home the headline :  “Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes”. The Republican Party should be delegated a hate group.

Does Trump’s political rhetoric have a measurable link to reported hate crime and extremist activity?

We examined this question, given that so many politicians and pundits accuse Trump of emboldening white nationalists. White nationalist leaders seem to agree, as leaders including Richard Spencer and David Duke have publicly supported Trump’s candidacy and presidency, even if they still criticize him for not going far enough. The New Zealand shooter even referred to Trump as a “renewed symbol of white identity.”

So, do attitudes like these have real world consequences? Recent research on far-right groupssuggests that they do, especially when these attitudes are embraced and encourage by peers. Specifically, the quantity of neo-Nazi and racist skinhead groups active in a state leads to increased reports of hate crimes within that state.

How we did our research

Using the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism map data (HEAT map), we examined whether there was a correlation between the counties that hosted one of Trump’s 275 presidential campaign rallies in 2016 and increased incidents of hate crimes in subsequent months.

To test this, we aggregated hate-crime incident data and Trump rally data to the county level and then used statistical tools to estimate a rally’s impact. We included controls for factors such as the county’s crime rates, its number of active hate groups, its minority populations, its percentage with college educations, its location in the country and the month when the rallies occurred.

We found that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.

Floodwaters on the southwest side of Hamburg, Iowa, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes Sunday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees (Photo: RYAN SODERLIN / AP)

These folks are even cannibalizing their own.  From Raw Story: “Trump fans launch all-out attack on ex-Navy SEAL GOP lawmaker for defending McCain: ‘You’ll be a one-term wonder’”

Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Dan Crenshaw — who now serves as a Republican congressman — defended former Navy Captain John McCain on Thursday. Supporters of President Donald Trump quickly suffered an online meltdown.

Crenshaw is a former Navy SEAL who earned two Bronze Stars and a purple heart for his service in Afghanistan, where he lost his right eye from an improvised explosive device explosion. He was subsequently elected to represent Texas in Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Mr. President, seriously stop talking about Senator McCain,” Crenshaw suggested.

This did not go over well with some of Trump’s most fervent supporters.

His twitterfeed became a toxic wasteland of very sick and disturbed people. That’s just about what’s going on with both Meghan and Cindy McCain too.

Cindy McCain shared with the world on Tuesday an aggressive message she received that attacked her late husband, Sen. John McCain, and her daughter, “The View” co-host Meghan McCain

Cindy McCain posted a screenshot of the message that called the former Arizona Republican “traitorous” and “warmongering.” Peppered with profanity, the message reads, “I’m glad he’s dead.” The writer said she hopes Meghan McCain “chokes to death.” 

Cindy McCain said she posted the message so the poster’s “family and friends could see.” 

“I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be,” McCain wrote.

How long can we maintain a veneer of civilization if these people keep getting hyped about by mentally ill President who can’t seem to behave like a normal, polite, responsible adult?  It’s impacting all of us and I keep wanting to scream “think of the children!!”.  Well, some one did (Via WAPO): “An online threat of violence shuts down all Charlottesville schools”

Public school campuses in Charlottesville will be shuttered Friday for a second straight day — and more than 4,300 students will be kept out of classrooms — after a threat of racial violence surfaced online.

In a message to families, Rosa Atkins, superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, said an investigation involving state and federal authorities remains active, necessitating the unusual step of keeping schools closed.

“We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged. We do not tolerate hate or racism,” Atkins said.

“The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color — and with people who have been singled out for reasons such as religion or ethnicity or sexual identity in other vile threats made across the country or around the world. We are in this together, and a threat against one is a threat against all.”

I am so worn down over this daily display of the worst of humanity parading around with threats of guns and violence, nasty attacks on every one for no other reason than disagreeing with this disagreeable President, and just plain rudeness and discourteousness.  Can we return to some concept of disagreement on things without an entire section of the republican base behaving like poo flinging  rage baboons and the rest ignoring them?

Meanwhile, I’m just tired and I’ve got grading to do so I’ll leave you to figure out how we best get rid of all this. I’ll probably choose one of the Democratic Primary candidates and work my ass off for them.  Just again, none of the Bad News B’s for me.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Joe Biden Is Not An Ally To Women (And Other News)

Good Morning!!

I’ve never been a fan of Joe Biden, so maybe I’ve just ignored his stance on reproductive rights. I did not know Biden was wobbly on the issue. I had even forgotten that Biden is a Catholic.

I couldn’t find anything recent on Biden’s abortion stance, except this piece at HuffPost from March 6: Biden In 1974: Women Don’t Have Sole Right To Say What Should Happen To Their Bodies.

When former Vice President Joe Biden was a freshman senator he said in a 1974 interview with Washingtonian that he believed the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling clearing the way for legal first-trimester abortions “went too far,” and that he didn’t “think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

In the interview, which took place just two years after Biden’s wife and two-year-old were killed in a car accident, Biden — then the youngest senator in U.S. history — said his anti-abortion views were part of his “socially conservative” outlook.

“My wife said I was the most socially conservative man she had ever known,” he said. “When it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I’m about as liberal as your grandmother.”

Biden claims his remarks were “taken out of context.”

But Biden didn’t limit his anti-abortion views to rhetoric. He also advanced legislation on the subject.

In 1981, for example, Biden proposed the Foreign Assistance Act, which barred U.S. aid from being used for any medical research on abortion. It’s still in effect to this day. He has also voted in support of the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion procedures.

Joe Biden interview with American Magazine, September 2015

“Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them,” Biden wrote to a constituent in 1994.

He also supported former President Ronald Reagan’s “Global Gag Rule,” which prohibits the U.S. funding any nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on reproductive health care if they also offer abortion. President Trump was quick to revive it in 2017.

Biden’s approval rating from the pro-choice activist group NARAL has fluctuated throughout his career. In the 1990s, his score wavered between 34 and 46 percent ― a pretty abysmal scorecard for a Democrat. In recent years, however, it’s shot up to 100 percent.

Biden has also consistently voted in support of banning so-called “partial-birth” abortions ― the medical term for which is “dilation and extraction.” These procedures are often politicized despite heart-wrenching stories from women whose lives were saved because of them.

Two articles on Biden and abortion from 2015:

America Magazine: Vice President Biden’s comments about abortion in America interview kick off new conversations.

In an exclusive interview with America released at the beginning of this week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. affirmed that pro-life people “absolutely, positively” are welcome in the Democratic party and that he believes, as a Catholic, that “abortion is always wrong.” His comments, very different from most contributions to the political conversation about abortion, are blurring some long-established lines in the culture wars and generating significant interest in the media and among commentators….

“It has been hard…I’m prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there’s human life and being, but I’m not prepared to say that to other God­-fearing [and] non­-God­-fearing people that have a different view,” Biden said. He continued, “Abortion is always wrong…But I’m not prepared to impose doctrine that I’m prepared to accept on the rest of [the country].” (See the exchange, which begins at the 13:30 mark, in the full interview embedded at the bottom of this post.)

Fr. Malone also asked Mr. Biden if there was room for people who are pro-life in the Democratic party. The Vice President responded resolutely: “Absolutely. Absolutely, positively. And that’s been my position for as long as I’ve been engaged.”

No. Just no. Anyone who is “pro-life” in the sense of opposing women’s reproductive rights should not be welcome in the Democratic Party.

Mother Jones: Biden’s Abortion Record Could Cause Him Problems in a Presidential Bid.

Biden has been an inconsistent supporter of reproductive rights, sometimes backing the legal right of women to choose how to handle a pregnancy, while often hewing to his Catholic faith and moralizing against all abortions. Even today, when he and Clinton would most likely agree on most of the policy substance of ensuring access to abortion clinics, Biden sticks to a pro-life view in his personal politics.

Biden the gaffe machine

During the early part of his career, abortion rights groups griped about Biden as an unreliable ally. “Joe Biden moans a lot and then usually votes against us,” a Planned Parenthood official said in 1986.

When he first entered national politics, Biden was willing to stand alongside politicians who wanted to make abortion illegal. In a Washingtonian profilepublished the year after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a nationwide right to abortion, Biden unequivocally criticized the ruling. “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion,” he said. “I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

He put that view into practice in 1982, voting in the Judiciary Committee for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have overturned Roe v. Wade by declaring that the Constitution offered women no inherent right to abortion, and that the federal government and states would be free to regulate or ban abortion as they pleased. Under that amendment, state laws that restricted abortions would have superseded more permissive federal laws.

Read the rest at Mother Jones.

As Biden continues to agonize about getting into the 2020 presidential race, this is something that needs to be spread far and wide among Democrats. With Roe v. Wade likely to be overturned soon, Women cannot accept a candidate who doesn’t wholeheartedly support women’s right to control their own bodies.

The Kushners and the Trumps

Charles and Jared Kushner

I’m reading the new book by Vicky Ward, Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. I can tell you that the Kushner family can definitely compete with the Trump’s in terms of corruption. Until now I had no idea just how much of a monster Charles Kushner is. No wonder Trump likes Jared so much. Ward was interviewed on Democracy Now this morning.

The New York Times has a story on the Kushners this morning: The Kingdom and the Kushners: Jared Went to Riyadh. So Did His Brother.

In late October 2017, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, dropped into Saudi Arabia for an unannounced visit to the desert retreat of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was in the process of consolidating his power. The two men talked privately late into the night.

Just a day earlier, Mr. Kushner’s younger brother, Josh, then 32, was flying out of the kingdom.

Jared came to talk policy, but Josh was there on business.

The founder of an eight-year-old venture capital firm, Josh Kushner had spent the three days before his brother’s arrival at an investor conference, where Prince Mohammed had promised to spend billions of dollars on a high-tech future for Saudi Arabia.

As others sat through speeches in a gilded conference hall, several participants said, the younger Mr. Kushner frequently ducked out for more exclusive conversations with Saudi officials.

Some government ethics lawyers say those conversations — never hidden, but not previously reported — create the appearance of a potential conflict of interest. Although Jared Kushner severed his ties with his brother’s company and divested his interest in his brother’s funds around the time he entered the White House, he was nonetheless discussing American policy with the rulers of the kingdom at virtually the same time that his brother was talking business with their top aides.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Mike Pence and Russia?

Franklin Graham and Mike Pence

Check out this creepy scoop from Think Progress: Why was Franklin Graham schmoozing with a sanctioned Russian official this month?

Franklin Graham, America’s most prominent evangelical leader, says Vice President Mike Pence signed off on his trip to Russia earlier this month. While there, Graham met with sanctioned Kremlin officials — even as U.S. investigations ramped up into Moscow’s election interference efforts. One official Russian governmental social media account touted the meeting as a way to “[intensify] contacts between the State Duma and the U.S. Congress.”

In an interview with RIA Novosti, a major Russian state-run outlet, Graham said he called Pence directly to tell him of the trip. “He was very happy to hear the news,” Graham said. “And he admitted that he fully supported my decision.”

Neither Pence’s office nor the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded to ThinkProgress’s requests for comment.

According to interviews in Russian media and photos on his own social media accounts, Graham, currently the chair of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, traveled to Moscow earlier this month to meet with a number of prominent Russian figures. Most notably, Graham had a sit-down meeting with Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who is close to President Vladimir Putin and who has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2014 for his role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Click on the link to read the rest.

More stories to check out, links only:

The New Republic: Nihilist In Chief: The Banal, Evil, All-Destructive Reign of Mitch McConnell.

Fast Company: Amazon could soon force you to go on a diet,according to one futurist.

Palm Beach Post: Not just Cindy Yang: Royals, felon, pop stars, others got access to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.

Seattle Times: FBI joining criminal investigation into certification of Boeing 737 MAX.

The New York Times: Doomed Boeing Jets Lacked 2 Safety Features That Company Sold Only as Extras.

Miami Herald: Two mystery parties try to restrict release of documents in Jeffrey Epstein civil suit.

Trump Inc: Trump’s Moscow Tower Problem.

Politico: Aides struggle to see strategy in Trump’s Conway, McCain fights.

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?


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.


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.