Monday Reads: Tell me again, What exactly is the problem

Detail from the 10′ x 42′ fresco “California” by Maxine Albro depicts a variety of California agricultural harvest scenes. It was funded by the PWAP.

Good Afternoon Sky  Dancers!

We have another White Male Terrorist mass shooting. This dude is a real MAGA darling. Naturally, the sounds of Crickets are coming from the White House. “Waffle House suspect Travis Reinking deemed himself a ‘sovereign citizen,’ part of anti-government group.”  Of course, he’s anti-government just like Ronnie Raygun who declared our “government was the problem”  in 1981 during his inaugural address and then proceded to turn it into a problem. That statement was almost as uplifting as the dank shit we got last time out with KKKremlin Caligula, the hair fury. Gun violence in this country is the choice of a lot of white men buying politicians via the NRA. That’s the problem.

The suspected gunman on the run after riddling a Tennessee Waffle House with bullets dubbed himself a “sovereign citizen,” before being arrested in July 2017 outside the White House.

Travis Reinking, 29, used that term — which the FBI has also used to describe a group of anti-government extremists — during a clash last year with the Secret Service, according to a police report obtained by USA TODAY.

Reinking told agents he needed to see President Trump and defined himself as sovereign citizen who had a right to inspect the grounds, according to an arrest report by the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. He was arrested on an unlawful entry charge after refusing to leave the area.

The FBI has said sovereign citizens “believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States.”

The agency has also defined sovereign citizens as “anti-government extremists who claim the federal government is operating outside its jurisdiction and they are therefore not bound by government authority—including the courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, and even law enforcement.”

Coit Tower Murals – Industries of California by Ralph Stackpole 01

This guy has a politically extreme view that motivates him. He’s another Timothy McVeigh sort. So, we do we hear the WHITE CHRISTIAN MALE TERRORIST label?

It’s unknown if Reinking’s 2017 sovereign citizen self-designation was in line with the FBI’s definition or if it played any role in the Antioch, TN Waffle House attack, which left four dead.

A motive has not been released and investigators are continuing to probe Reinking’s background, which includes several past incidents with law enforcement.

Well, obviously NOT today Satan.  Law enforcement took away the dude’s guns once and GAVE them to his father!  Raise your hand if you think any person of color would’ve had that freaking experience. I can see we have no takers.

On Aug. 24, 2017, sheriffs deputies in Tazewell County, Illinois took a state-issued card from Reinking that Illinois requires for someone to own a weapon. During a Sunday news conference streamed online, Tazewell County Sheriff Robert M. Huston said Reinking volunteered to give up his four weapons.

However, Reinking’s father was present when those deputies came to confiscate the guns, Huston said. The father had a valid state authorization card and asked the police if he could keep the weapons. Deputies gave Reinking’s father the weapons,  Huston said.

“He was allowed to do that after he assured deputies he would keep them secure and away from Travis,” Huston said, referring to Reinking’s father.

Huston and Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said they believe Reinking’s father returned the weapons to Reinking.

DudeBro gunned down four people in the Waffle House located in Nashville. He was all of 29. Did we mention he was nearly buck naked and the police can’t find his lily white ass?

Murder warrants were issued for the suspect, identified as a 29-year-old White male named Travis Reinking. He’s accused of killing four people and wounding four others 3:25 a.m. Sunday at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville. Reinking, who was naked, fled on foot, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department tweeted.

The motive behind the shooting is unknown, authorities said, according to CNN. It appears to be a random mass shooting. Investigators, however, are typically slow to declare mass shootings by White males a domestic terror attack, even though White men constitute the largest group of domestic terrorists in the nation.

Oh, wait!  Some on did recognize this for what it is!!!   Could it be: “The Epidemic Of White Male Terrorism And Its Connection To White Privilege . “Race shapes our reaction to gun violence,” professor and author David J. Leonard writes.”  Will we get the usual Dudebro just suddenly became unhinged, crazy, violent?

Such narratives are unique to white male mass shooters. As are the efforts to humanize and to offer cultural autopsies that point to potential gambling addictions or mental illness as the reason behind a mass shooting rather than a pervasive evil inherent in white male killers.

The erasure of “white male” mass shooters from public discourse produces coverage that depicts Paddock and countless others as individuals who we must empathize with. Paddock deserves empathy because he is not the imagined Muslim terrorist, the criminal Latino immigrant, and the Black thug. Whereas they are terrorists and super predators who “terrorize communities,” who undermine the safety and tranquility of our communities,

Oh, wait… here’s another! “We should be able to eat waffles in peace — but Trump and the NRA accept this kind of terrorism”.

I shouldn’t have to carry a gun to feel safe getting waffles.

Nobody should.

I shouldn’t have to hope I’m seated near a mythological “good guy with a gun” to feel safe getting waffles.

Nobody should.

Nobody should.

We should be able to eat our waffles in peace. We should be able to send our kids to school without worrying that they’ll be gunned down. We should be able to go to church and not wonder whether an AR-15-toting person who fell through the mental-health-services cracks might stand up and open fire.

But we don’t feel that way. We can’t. This nation’s gun obsession has made it impossible, and those who stand in the way of any action that might limit access to guns — even to domestic abusers or the mentally ill — are insisting that their outlandish “right” to own any firearm they want supersedes our perfectly reasonable right to eat our waffles without toting a sidearm.

There’s a word for all this: terrorism. People don’t like to use that word when it comes to guns and Americans. But what are we really dealing with here if not terror? What do you call it when people are made to feel unsafe in the most public of places?

Four young people were gunned down early Sunday morning at that Waffle House near Nashville. A 29-year-old man from Morton, Ill., is the suspected shooter, and police say he used an AR-15-style assault rifle, the same type of firearm used in the Parkland school shooting (17 dead), the Texas church shooting (26 dead), the Las Vegas music festival shooting (58 dead) and the Orlando nightclub shooting (49 dead).

Government can do something about it.  We’ve got these problems because NRA lobbyists fund the bad guys.  The police gave an AR 15 this guy had no right to have back to HIS FATHER who just gave it back to his son.

Police said the father of suspected Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking handed his son back an AR-15 found at the scene, after it had been seized by authorities in relation to another incident.

But, yes, already there’s the usual narrative. Poor white kid deserves our help. “Waffle House shooting suspect said Taylor Swift stalked him, had history of delusions, police say”

In 2017, the year before Reinking became the subject of an intensive police manhunt after a deadly shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House, officials said he went to a local pool wearing a pink dress and swam in his underwear while coaxing life guards to fight him. Soon after, he traveled to D.C., and tried to cross a security barrier near the White House, declaring himself a “sovereign citizen” who wanted to speak with President Trump.

Police reports dating to May 2016 offer a glimpse of what officials described as Reinking’s “mental problems.”

This is just no way to run a country. No other civilized country lets military weapons out to just any one. The data shows we don’t need to live this way.  If our government is the problem then we need to vote the gun fetishists out.

Today’s art are a selection of various PWAP commissioned murals in California.  You may remember that the WPA was a Great Depression era economic policy to put Americans back to work.  It hired all kinds of artisans as well as workers to build, decorate, and document the experience of recovery from the US’s worst recession ever.  PWAP was the arm that commissioned Public Works of Art. This are 27 murals located in Coit Tower- San Francisco.  The Lillie Hitchcock Coit Memorial Tower was actually part of a gift from the Coit estate that granted the city money for beautification purposes in 1931.  The murals were commissioned in 1933 and executed in 1943.  Many of the murals were not available for public viewing until 2014.  There was a restoration project as well as an effort to allow public access.

Because all 27 Coit Tower murals were painted at the same time, in 1934, they presumably were meant to be seen as a whole. Now that all the murals have undergone the most intensive restoration in their history, an effort is being made to get people up there, but only in groups of four to eight, and only as part of a docent tour.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Advertisements

Friday Reads: TMI addition (I’m shocked! Shocked!)

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

How many of us are really surprised by the content of the Comey Memos?  Any one?  Surprised the Republicans would release detailed accounts of Trump’s most bizarre moments?  Yeah. That last one is a bit confusing.  So, we now have more on hookers and jailing journalists and blatant lies, and just about every other  lurid example of the multiple personality disorders that comprise the raw id of the Kremlin’s potted plant in the US oval office.

Let’s just get straight to the dishonesty, obsession, and ickiness of the Madness of KKKremlin Caligula. This first read isn’t from Comey but if you want to read up on one of Trump’s lying self-promoting alter egos then read this in WAPO by Jonathan Greenburg:  ‘Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes.’ Yes, here there be tapes.

In May 1984, an official from the Trump Organization called to tell me how rich Donald J. Trump was. I was reporting for the Forbes 400, the magazine’s annual ranking of America’s richest people, for the third year. In the previous edition, we’d valued Trump’s holdings at $200 million, only one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide urged me on the phone, I needed to understand just how loaded Trump really was.

The official was John Barron — a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself. When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse: Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him. “Barron” told me that Trump had taken possession of the business he ran with his father, Fred. “Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr. Trump,” he said. “You have down Fred Trump [as half owner] . . . but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.” Trump, through this sockpuppet, was telling me he owned “in excess of 90 percent” of his family’s business. With all the home runs Trump was hitting in real estate, Barron told me, he should be called a billionaire.

At the time, I suspected that some of this was untrue. I ran Trump’s assertions to the ground, and for many years I was proud of the fact that Forbes had called him on his distortions and based his net worth on what I thought was solid research.

But it took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had built to project an image as one of the richest people in America. Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later.

It’s just hard to grok that level of need for recognition. But, Comey’s memos outline the same behavior about 40 years later.  From CNN and Stephen Collinson: ‘Comey memos renew questions over Trump’s behavior.’

The Comey memos suggest Trump has a scattershot and self-obsessed mindset, brooding about his subordinates, leaks, his campaign and his inaugural crowd size and not appreciating or caring about protocol boundaries that separate the White House and the Justice Department.

Furthermore, the conversations with Comey soon after Trump moved into the White House paint a picture of a new President more concerned with own fortunes than the burden of his new responsibilities.

CNN obtained the documents, which offer a staggering insider account, after they were sent to Congress by the Justice Department on Thursday in response to requests from three GOP House committee chairmen on Capitol Hill.
Trump responded to the release of the memos on Twitter in an apparent attempt to direct conversation away from the embarrassing substance of the documents.

“So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Hours earlier, he insisted the memos “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?”

Here’s the latest from the AP wire.

The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions with Trump that Comey found so unnerving that he chose to document them in writing. Those seven encounters in the weeks and months before Comey’s May 2017 firing include a Trump Tower discussion about allegations involving Trump and prostitutes in Moscow; a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for his loyalty; and a private Oval Office discussion where the ex-FBI head says the president asked him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser.

The documents had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first revealed last year, especially since Comey’s interactions with Trump are a critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted that the memos “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.”

The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration, a period of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The documents reflect Trump’s uneasiness about that investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate.

In a February 2017 conversation, for instance, Trump told Comey how Putin told him, “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world” even as the president adamantly, and repeatedly, distanced himself from a salacious allegation concerning him and prostitutes in Moscow, according to one memo. Comey says Trump did not say when Putin had made the comment.

In another memo, Comey recounts how Trump at a private White House dinner pointed his fingers at his head and complained that Flynn, his embattled national security adviser, “has serious judgment issues.” The president blamed Flynn for failing to alert him promptly to a congratulatory call from a world leader, causing a delay for Trump in returning a message.

The foreign leader’s name is redacted in the documents, but two people familiar with the call tell the AP it was Putin. They were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

 

Woman-Laying-on-Green-Fainting-Couch-ImagesJosh Marshall of TPM writes that the memos show clear indications of Trump’s lying about his trip to Moscow.  He’s traced and documented the inconsistencies between words and actions.

There’s ample evidence that Trump stayed not one but two nights. In July 2017, Bloomberg News’s Vernon Silver and Evgenia Pismennaya reported out a detailed reconstruction of the trip based on FAA records, social media postings and interviews. They showed clearly that Trump flew from North Carolina to New York on the evening of November 7th (Thursday) and then proceeded on to Moscow overnight and arrived sometime early on November 8th (Friday). He overnighted in Moscow. He was in Moscow all of November 9th (Saturday), the day of the pageant, and departed for New York early November 10th. For the details of how we know these facts, see the Bloomberg article. It is forensic in its detail.

Clearly, Trump lied about not spending the night in Russia. It’s conceivable that he forgot he’d spent the night. But again, the whole idea is wildly implausible. He said he’d discussed the details of the trip with others. Surely they would have reminded him. And he stayed not one but two nights. Clearly, Trump was lying about this. He lied about it repeatedly to Comey. And Priebus’s presence during one of the encounters strongly suggests he’d told this same lie to his senior staff.

In other Trump Crazy news there’s this: ‘Trump sex scandals turn a harsh spotlight on this Beverly Hills lawyer’via the LA Times.

Most Beverly Hills lawyers are seldom accused of extortion.

For Keith M. Davidson, however, it’s not so rare: He is fighting three civil suits by television personalities alleging extortion.

Davidson is the attorney who negotiated payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential race to keep them quiet about their alleged affairs with Donald Trump.

Both wound up firing Davidson and hiring new lawyers to get their nondisclosure deals voided.

Via the NY Times we hear about a recently filed lawsuit: ‘Democratic Party Alleges Trump-Russia Conspiracy in New Lawsuit’.  Yes, it is just breaking!

The Democratic National Committee opened a new legal assault on President Trump on Friday by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the organization was the victim of a conspiracy by Russian officials, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

The 66-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, assembles the publicly known facts of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling to accuse Mr. Trump’s associates of illegally working with Russian intelligence agents to interfere with the outcome of the election.

“The conspiracy constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” the D.N.C. wrote in its lawsuit, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

And from that WAPO link:

The lawsuit argues that Russia is not entitled to sovereign immunity in this case because “the DNC claims arise out of Russia’s trespass on to the DNC’s private servers . . . in order to steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”

The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC filed suit against then-President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

The suit was denounced at the time by Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who called it a case of “sheer demagoguery” by the DNC. But the civil action brought by the DNC’s then-chairman, Lawrence F. O’Brien, was ultimately successful, yielding a $750,000 settlement from the Nixon campaign that was reached on the day in 1974 that Nixon left office.

The suit filed Friday seeks millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks. The DNC argues that the cyberattack undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats.

 

Rachel Maddow interviewed Comey last night on her show.  You may watch here.

The Cook Report lists risk factors for Republicans in the upcoming elections.  Toss ’em out!

Multiple indicators, including generic ballot polls , President Trump’s approval ratings and recent special election results, point to midterm danger for Republicans. But without robust race-by-race polling, it’s trickier to predict individual races six months out. Are Democrats the favorites to pick up the 23 seats they need for a majority? Yes, but it’s still not certain which races will materialize for Democrats and which won’t.

Our latest ratings point to 56 vulnerable GOP-held seats, versus six vulnerable Democratic seats. Of the 56 GOP seats at risk, 15 are open seats created by retirements. Even if Democrats were to pick up two-thirds of those seats, they would still need to hold all their own seats and defeat 13 Republican incumbents to reach the magic number of 218. Today, there are 18 GOP incumbents in our Toss Up column.

That Toss Up list is likely to grow as the cycle progresses. Out of the 65 GOP incumbents rated as less than “Solid,” 49 were first elected in 2010 or after, meaning more than three quarters have never had to face this kind of political climate before. And, Democrats have a donor enthusiasm edge: in the first quarter of 2018, at least 43 sitting Republicans were out-raised by at least one Democratic opponent.

Well, that’s it for me today.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

 

 


Monday Reads: Let’s talk about Comey and Culpability since he really didn’t

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, I watched the ABC interview of disgraced FBI Director James Comey  by George Stephanpolous and came away underwhelmed.  I really don’t feel any news was made. The only thing I saw was a good case study of the White Male Savior prototype who just refuses to embrace the idea that he’s done wrong, he didn’t save the world, and likely caused an assault on all he says he holds dear. Comey is fighting to stay in denial. His demeanor spoke volumes.

My basic question remains despite the supposed answer of because he was saving Clinton from entering the Presidency under a cloud. Why did he say he’d do it all over again?  Why didn’t he listen to Yates and Lynch who said don’t do it?  I mean sheesh… he had to know the Republicans would make hay with all of that. They were gunning for Clinton for years. Why ignore Yates and Lynch (read this Vanity Fair piece for a good reminder) and tell Chavetz of all pseudo people? One hint to Chavetz that both candidates were under investigation would have knocked the wind right out of Chavetz leaking shit. The finer points of game theory do not mean you’re putting your finger on a scale. It just directs responses to a more manageable path. If you’re going to play great white male savior at least set the chess board up right. My answer keeps coming back to the white male savior complex.  He ignored the advice of the powerful women around him convincing himself he’d be able to rescue the powerful damsel in distress and save the country.

Anyway, the only heads exploding over this interview are in the FBI itself.  I’m just gobsmacked by the level of hubris personally even though it was wrapped up in a body language and facially expression that suggested a lot of counselling is required.

FBI sources who did not support Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation still stood by him at the time and were outraged at the way in which Trump fired the director. He learned of his dismissal after reading it on a television screen inside the Los Angeles FBI building where he was speaking to agents.

Those same current and former FBI agents and officials—and others—did not respond well to Comey’s interview Sunday night.

Support for Comey has dwindled as those who worked closely with him and initially supported him began to see his book and his public interactions—including Twitter selfies in Iowa—as self-serving and gauche, four sources said.

Their anger has grown in recent months as agents have come to see Comey as the reason for the “current shitshow… that is the Trump presidency,” one former official, who voted for Trump, explained.

Here’s Lanny Davis writing Op Ed for The Hill that portrays Comey as a liar. The White House has been screaming “Leaker” and “Liar” for weeks now. Frankly, I think the only one Come has lied to is himself. 

On Saturday night, the great Wolf Blitzer interviewed one of his panelists about James Comey’s justification for violating over a half-century of Justice Department policies in Republican and Democratic administrations when he sent his October 28 letter to Congress in 2016, which cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Comey has repeatedly claimed that he was “obligated” to write his speculative letter because of a promise he had made to Congress to do so if “anything new” came up after his July 5, 2016, press conference announcing a new prosecutable case could be brought against Clinton.

When one of Blitzer’s panelists on Saturday night inaccurately repeated the Comey lie that Comey was “obligated” to send his game-changing letter to Congress because he had promised to do so, Blitzer should have interrupted and corrected the record. “No that is not correct — Comey only promised to ‘look at’ any new evidence, not to write his letter in the closing days of the election.”

Another form of a lie is by omission.

Comey knows — and knows that we all now know — that if he had done what in fact he had told Congress he would do, i.e., looked first before writing his letter, he and the FBI would have completed their review within six days, as we know happened between Oct 30, 2016, when they first began to look at Clinton emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop, and Nov. 5, when they completed their review. And we know that they would have determined — as they announced on Nov. 6, two days before the election— that there was no “there” there in the Clinton emails, i.e., nothing new to change their July 5 non-prosecution decision. Thus, there would have been no need for Comey to write the history-changing Oct. 28 letter. And hence, Hillary Clinton, as all the data prove over the last 11 days in crucial battleground states, would be president today. During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.results were viewed as legitimate.

Of course the Trump Hate machine was locked and loaded this morning.

President Trump took fresh aim at fired FBI director James B. Comey on Monday, lambasting his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and asserting again that Comey and another FBI official had committed crimes.

Trump’s comments on Twitter were his first since Comey’s high-profile television interview Sunday night in which he said he believes Trump is “morally unfit” to be president and that he hopes Trump will be voted out of office.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump had watched “bits and pieces” of the interview but not the entire thing.

In his tweet, Trump complained that Comey “drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her” and asserted that in deciding how to handle the case, Comey “based his decisions on her poll numbers.”

This was the statement that galled me most. So, I’m calling it out again.  This allowed the Trump Team venom to target Clinton again.

During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election9 that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.

There is a lot of other news today. Cohen hasn’t released his client list and is headed back to court hoping a Trump-filed injunction will save his ass from its destiny in jail.  The EPA chief is in serious trouble for all kinds of things.

I will likely watch the Consigliere match up this afternoon.

Withstanding the hearing is only the beginning of what could be an ugly legal situation for Cohen. No charges have been filed against him, but prosecutors asserted that he is under criminal investigation. Cohen, who professes a devout fealty to his boss, has spent more than a decade working alongside the Trumps, devoting his professional life to protecting them. He may now be in a position where he could be forced to choose between continuing that line of defense, or putting himself and his own family first. In my interviews with Cohen, he has always stated plainly, repeatedly, and in a Godfather-esque lingua franca, how unfailingly loyal he is to the president and to the Trump family. Over the summer, Cohen told me that he would take a bullet for Trump. In February, as the Stormy Daniels controversy heated up, he told me that he would do it again today for Trump and again for him tomorrow. “No question,” he said. Last month, he told me that it was his job to protect his client—his friend—and the Trump family.

Maybe, I’ll just take a nap instead.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Live Blog: Bombs Away … De Hair Furor on Syria at 9 pm EST

 

Will striking the Syrian Regime be legitimate?

But calling Trump’s potential strike against Syria a legitimate humanitarian intervention is absurd. The most comprehensive effort to define that notion came from the Canadian government, which in 2001—in response to pleas from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan—empaneled a commission on the concept known as the “Responsibility to Protect.” That commissionoutlined several criteria that any humanitarian war must meet. No past U.S. intervention has met them fully. A new Syria strike, however, wouldn’t even come close.

One criterion was what the commission called “reasonable prospects.” A military intervention, it argued, must stand “a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified the intervention.” When Trump struck Syria for the first time last year, it may have been “reasonable” to hope an American strike would prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again. But it is utterly unreasonable today. That’s because, in the year since Trump’s strike, Assad has used chemical weapons again and again. He didn’t just apparently use them last weekend. According to armscontrol.org, he also allegedly used them on March 11, on March 7 and at least five times in January and February.

Shouldn’t Congress approve?  Ryan says no!!!

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that President Trump has broad authority to attack Syria, precluding the need for Congress to act beforehand.
“The existing AUMF gives him the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do,” Ryan said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

 

We’re striking with the UK and France. The force is on the war.

 

 

Stay tuned!

 

 


Friday Reads: Ace G-Man Stories of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s going to be the usual chaos on steroids as former FBI Director Jim Comey’s tell all comes out.  The media began leaking excerpts yesterday of the book even as the official release date still looms on Tuesday.  KKKremlin Caligula is not a happy Mad King as Comey even appears to have taken  gratuitous pot shots at the size of his hands. Yes, De Hair Fury is in Teapot Tempest mode.  Hide that damn football!

President Donald Trump went into attack mode against James Comey on Friday morning, calling the former FBI director an “untruthful slime ball” and a “liar & leaker” after Comey suggested in an ABC News interview that it is “possible” that salacious allegations about the president and prostitutes in Moscow are true.

“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” Trump wrote in a statement that stretched across two Twitter posts. “He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Well, this is certainly an adult conversation!  These items are from Politico and the keyboard of Louis Nelson.

Recalling his first meeting with Trump, the former FBI director told Stephanopoulos that the January, 2017, briefing he gave the then-president elect about his alleged rendezvous with prostitutes inside a Moscow hotel was “really weird” and “almost an out-of-body experience.” During their one-on-one briefing in Trump Tower, the former FBI director said Trump responded “very defensively” and “started talking about, you know, ‘do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’”

Comey said that earlier, upon briefing Trump and his transition team about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, the then-president elect’s first question was whether or not those efforts had affected the outcome and then discussion turned immediately to a conversation about messaging and drafting a press release. At no point did Trump or any member of his team ask Comey or the other intelligence chiefs present at the briefing what might come next from Russia or how to stop future cyberattacks from Moscow, the former FBI director said.

“The reason that was so striking to me is that that’s just not done, that the intelligence community does intelligence, the White House does PR and spin,” Comey said. “It was all, what can we say about what they did and how it affects the election that we just had.”

Folks that have read the book say that Comey found a President obsessed with getting the FBI to disprove the existence of the Pee Pee tape.  Evidently Cohen was busy fixing other Trump mishaps and couldn’t see to it.  Can you imagine how he saw the FBI as his personal clean up crew?

Trump did not stay quiet for long. Comey describes Trump as having been obsessed with the portion dealing with prostitutes in the infamous dossier compiled by British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, raising it at least four times with the FBI director. The document claimed that Trump had watched the prostitutes urinate on themselves in the same Moscow suite that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had stayed in “as a way of soiling the bed,” Comey writes.

Comey writes that Trump asked him to have the FBI investigate the allegations to prove they were not true, and offered varying explanations to convince him why. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.” Later, the president asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.

Phillip Rucker of WAPO additionally unveils Comey’s real thoughts about Trump’s lack of ethics. This is a description of a sociopath.

In his memoir, Comey paints a devastating portrait of a president who built “a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.” Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.

Comey narrates in vivid detail, based on his contemporaneous notes, instances in which Trump violated the norms protecting the FBI’s independence in attempts to coerce Comey into being loyal to him — such as during a one-on-one dinner in the White House residence.

Interacting with Trump, Comey writes, gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

The result, in Comey’s telling, is “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”

“What is happening now is not normal,” he writes. “It is not fake news. It is not okay.”

But again, Comey makes quite personal remarks.  From David Moye at HuffPo:

You have to hand it to former FBI Director James Comey: He knows a good way to troll Donald Trump is to bring up the president’s reportedly small hands.

Comey touches on Trump’s hands in his new book, A Higher Loyalty, and admits the president’s mitts did appear smaller than he expected when they first met.

According to excerpts from the book posted by ABC News, the 6-foot-8-inch Comey said the 6-foot-3-inch Trump “appeared shorter than he seemed on a debate stage.”

Comey also wrote that when Trump reached out for a handshake, he couldn’t help but notice that the president’s hand “was smaller than mine” but added, it “did not seem unusually so.”

This is the type of comment liable to inspire a Trump tweet tantrum, as the president has long been sensitive to any suggestion his hands aren’t anything but “yuge.”

Steve Goldstein–DC Bureau Chief for Market Watch–argues that this puts both Mueller and Comey squarely on Trump’s turf.

If there’s any strategy in the world of President Donald Trump, it’s a simple one: Play on my field.

And the Trump playing field is a salacious one. The scandals and affairs are literally too numerous to be chronicled in a single article. Large and small, Trump University to Trump Steaks, bankruptcies and legal judgements, all manner of infidelity and aberrant behavior, real or imagined.

Former FBI Director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller were each charged with looking into an allegation of the most serious variety — colluding with a foreign hostile power to alter the presidential election.

This week the headlines emanating from Mueller’s investigation, and Comey’s book, involve a porn stara Playboy bunnya pee tapethe size of Trump’s hands and a doorman with a history of fibbing apparently alleging the existence of an illegitimate child.

That is playing on Trump’s field.

But wait. Isn’t it a violation of campaign law if Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels just ahead of the election? If Cohen used a home-equity loan to fund the payment, did he lie to the bank? Doesn’t it speak to Trump’s truthfulness on a variety of a matters — including alleged collusion with Russia — whether his persistent denials of engaging with prostitutes in Moscow are truthful? Doesn’t it have relevance to the question of whether payoffs were legal if Trump bought off a doorman? And didn’t Mueller actually hand off the investigation on Daniels?

Yeah, sure, all of that.

Those are all on the level of the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s perjury — legal matters, yes, that aren’t really the stuff of high crimes and misdemeanors. They’re all gotchas reinforcing what we basically knew about Trump and his behavior before the election.

By contrast, the consequences of playing on Trump’s field are enormous.

For Comey, baiting Trump into a reaction, which sure as water is wet came on Friday morning, will result in better book sales. But it will come at the expense of holding any future higher office. His legacy as FBI director — already tarnished for the ridiculous, torturous inconsistencies in how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails — is forever tarnished. Who in Washington could hire this guy? “Untruthful,” as Trump called him? No. “Slime ball?” Hmm.

Mueller, too, looks set to emerge damaged, if perhaps not as fatally. The question of whether Trump can, or should, fire him has returned. Mueller, also a former FBI director, does still have the support of both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finish his investigation, and a few key Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, have expressed willingness to support legislation to protect him. But the idea of his dismissal is definitely more plausible — and, for that matter, the outrage it would generate a good bit lessened.

It is clear is that Trump and his band of slimy hucksters in the West Wing have made for the low ground.   Comey has revealed some eye poppers on many of them.  However, he’s teary eyed about Obama.

Comey apologizes to Hillary Clinton, nodding to her own takedown of him in her book What Happened. “I have read she has felt anger toward me personally, and I’m sorry for that,” he writes. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why I made the decisions I made.”

Comey also says President Barack Obama reassured him after the election about his decision to send the letter about Clinton, according to the Post:

Comey writes that Obama sat alone with him in the Oval Office in late November and told him, “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.”

On the verge of tears, Comey told Obama, “Boy, were those words I needed to hear . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”

“I know,” Obama said. “I know.”

You surely know that I am no Comey fan after this particular interlude that undoubtedly helped brought us the Orange plague.  I just hope Trump doesn’t wag any dogs to relieve his marital problems. his popularity problems, and his multiple personality disorders.  He still may be plotting to fire Rosenstein or Mueller and who knows what else?

So, one more Trump’s latest weirdness: “President Trump poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, sources say.”

President Donald Trump is poised to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to sources familiar with the president’s thinking.

The president has already signed off on the pardon, which is something he has been considering for several months, sources told ABC News.

The move would mark another controversial pardon for Trump and could raise questions as an increasing number of the president’s political allies have landed themselves in legal jeopardy. The White House has repeatedly said that no pardons are currently on the table for people caught up in the Russia investigation.

Early in his term, Trump pardoned controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was found guilty in July on criminal contempt charges stemming from his refusal to stop imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants.

Unlike your average Presidential Pardon, Trump’s pardons focus on pardoning law breaking white government officials.  Is this a harbinger of more mercy for predatory slime balls?

So, now I need a shower.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Monday Reads: We are still Tribal and Fascinated by Fire

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I seem hard wired to avoid the caves and to wander the plains and mountains.  For this, I believe I have my mother to thank.  I imagine lurking some where in my family are Irish ‘traveller’ genes but who knows. I do not understand people who find one location and surround themselves with sameness. The lily white Midwestern suburbans filled with snotty WASPS were a prison to me.  My mother’s insistence we travel frequently was the only thing that saved me. It showed me there was more to people and life than a backyard prison.

Later, as a young mother, I unfortunately discovered way too late–because of promises of other things–that I basically married a potted plant who wanted nothing more than to drag to and from work day in and day out. The sofa was the center of life. I got some pleasure in taking my summers off and taking baby Doctor Daughter on the road.  That worked until my parents moved back to the prison and I was surrounded by boring sameness day in and day out.  It felt like being entombed in a cavern surrounded by slugs, potted plants, and narrowness in a world ruled without color or the discovery of abstract art and erotica.  This came home as an astounding lesson with my inoperable cancer diagnosis at 34 and a six month old baby.  I was not going to let my children suffer the same fate. They needed more back yard to play about and I would give them that for as long as I could live.

The word that best describes the circumstances of my youth is people attached to “homophilly”.  It literally means the “love of the same.” It is the tendency of people with similar characteristics to congregate.  That pretty much describes the WASP enclave that ensconced me.  Same boring stuff day in and day out. My mother drove us to Pow Wows. She stuck us in station wagons and campers to search the far corners of the American West.  We eventually landed in Europe. These were all places where I would dream I would have the courage to run away into so I would never EVER have to go back.  My cousin who moved to NYC to do Broadway was my siren. She led me to believe that one day I would escape. History taught the progress of human kind was to leave caves and tribes to build cities.  American History taught the American spirit is to get out there to discover and explore and build something new.  None of this included the iconography of firmly planted sofas.

But, firmly planted sofas in limited areas show us that our tribal roots are still lurking. These lead to dark times, genocides, war, and oppression.  I was looking at the various news items I’ve collected for today trying to find some theme.  You’re probably wondering at this point too.  I think therefore, I babble. Unfortunately, it all seems to be an expression of our primal fear of other and the desire of so many to huddle into a tribe based on iron age mythologies, the social constructs of race, sexuality and gender roles, and the dark side of homophilly. If we only love the same, do we also have to adapt the hate of the different?

I have two items of interest on the construct of separating humanity by race.  First, is this new classification system for Black people living in the USA.  How do you elect to be “just black”? From NPR: “2020 Census Will Ask Black People About Their Exact Origins”.  Why is this necessary? Furthermore, a lot of us either came or were drug over way back and don’t know, a lot of us are a blend of all kinds of things, and why should  the government be focused on which part of what continent spawned our ancestors?

For the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau is changing how it will ask black people to designate their race. Under the check box for “Black or African American,” the bureau is adding a new space on the census questionnaire for participants to write in their non-Hispanic origins, according to a recent memo from the head of the 2020 census. “African American,” “Jamaican” and “Nigerian” are listed as examples of origins on a questionnaire the bureau is testing for 2020.

The change means many black people in the U.S. may have to take a closer look at their family trees to answer what can be a thorny question: Where are you really from? While many black immigrants can cite ties to a specific country, that question is difficult, if not impossible, for many U.S.-born African-Americans to answer.

The bureau has not responded to NPR’s questions about why it is making this change to both the “Black” category and the “White” category,” which will also include a new write-in area for origins.

But researchers at the bureau have said they have been trying to respond to requests for “more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities.” (The bureau was considering an overhaul to all racial categories that would have added check boxes for the largest ethnic groups and a write-in area for smaller groups. But it would require the Trump administration’s approval of an Obama-era proposal to change the federal standards on race and ethnicity data, which census experts say the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is not likely to move forward.)

My WASPY family has our family tree detailed out to when the first of whatever line came from where ever but only because my mother got obsessed with researching it decades ago as a hobby.  And, this details one important distinction.  Every one of my ancestors arrived here of their own volition. None of them were kidnapped and enslaved.  None of them were here already where they were frequently murdered and driven from their lands.  How does this information do anything positive?

Sebastian Junger wrote a book called “Tribe” that was published in 2016.  He argued that on some level having wars and enemies is something humans enjoy because it gives us a sense of belonging.  I can’t imagine needing that enough to be violent and oppressive to others.  But, I see it in Trump’s White Nationalist cult and realize it has a draw.

During John Ford’s celebrated western film The Searchers, John Wayne’s character spends years hunting for his niece Debbie, kidnapped as a child by Comanche Indians.

When he finally finds her, she initially wants to stay with her Comanche husband rather than return home.

Although shocking in the film, it’s historically accurate. White people captured by American Indians (author Sebastian Junger’s preferred name for Native Americans) commonly chose to stay with their captors – and the book cites a case of a captive woman who hid from her would-be rescuers.

Even more astonishingly, from the earliest days of Europeans in America, settlers of both sexes ran away to join Indian tribes. This wasn’t just a few people, it was hundreds and hundreds. The practice was so rife that in the early 1600s settler leaders made it an offence with harsh punishments, but over the following centuries people still ran off in huge numbers.

And it hardly ever happened the other way. Indians didn’t want to join white society.

The attraction, argues Junger, was the sense of community, the importance of the tribe, evident in other primates and in primitive human societies. The superficial attractions of American Indian life were obvious: sexual mores were more relaxed, clothing was more comfortable, religion less harsh.

But mostly it was the structure of Indian society that appealed. It was less hierarchical, essentially classless and egalitarian. As the people were nomadic, personal property hardly mattered, since it was limited to what you or your horses could carry.

What changed this natural way of living for humans was first agriculture, then industry. Accumulation of personal property led to people doing what they thought best for themselves, rather than for the common good. But, suggests Junger, we’re not happy like this. We’re wired to the lifestyle of the tribe.

So tribal connectedness really doesn’t need the social construct of race, and yet it frequently and murderously oppressively does. From CBS: “Why 60 Minutes aired photos of lynchings in report by Oprah. The reason behind the broadcast’s decision to show graphic photographs of lynchings in this week’s report by contributor Oprah Winfrey”.

This week on 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey gets an early look at the memorial, which will open to the public on April 26. The memorial contains 805 steel markers, one for each county where lynchings occurred for more than 70 years following the Civil War. The markers are suspended in air to evoke the horror of being hanged.

To tell that story on 60 Minutes, Winfrey and a team of producers felt it was important to show historical photos of lynchings, images that are likely to disturb many viewers. In an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime, Denise Schrier Cetta, the producer of the story, and Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the broadcast, explain their decision to air such upsetting photographs.

“I don’t think the story exists without those photos,” Fager says. News executives have a tendency to self-censor too much, he says, out of concern that viewers will be turned off. For him, the decision to show the photos was about reporting important facts about a little-known but important chapter of history.

“That’s reality; that’s what happened,” he tells 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio in the video above. “Our story is about a part of history, really almost 80 years of American history, that isn’t in the history books. We don’t see these pictures. We don’t talk about it.”

One photograph that surprises Fager the most is an image of a crowd that showed up in Waco, Texas to watch the lynching of a man named Jesse Washington. The hanging tree stands in the center of the photograph, Washington’s tortured body lies beneath it, and hundreds of well-dressed white people look on.

“I really thought most lynchings were in the cover of night and Klan outfits, and not that it was a part of life to that degree—that the town would turn out to watch it happen in broad daylight,” says Fager, who feels that many viewers will learn a lot from the story.

The Guardian previews a book written on the idea of how tribe of masculine warps young boys. The author of The Shepard’s Hut is an Australian Surfer.  “About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny. In an excerpt from a speech about his new book The Shepherd’s Hut, the author says it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the race, the game, the fight.”

There are a lot more girls in the water these days, and hallellujah for that; I can’t tell you how heartening this is. But I want to focus on the boys for a moment. For what a mystery a boy is. Even to a grown man. Perhaps especially to a grown man. And how easy it is to forget what beautiful creatures they are. There’s so much about them and in them that’s lovely. Graceful. Dreamy. Vulnerable. Qualities we either don’t notice, or simply blind ourselves to. You see, there’s great native tenderness in children. In boys, as much as in girls. But so often I see boys having the tenderness shamed out of them.

Boys and young men are so routinely expected to betray their better natures, to smother their consciences, to renounce the best of themselves and submit to something low and mean. As if there’s only one way of being a bloke, one valid interpretation of the part, the role, if you like. There’s a constant pressure to enlist, to pull on the uniform of misogyny and join the Shithead Army that enforces and polices sexism. And it grieves me to say it’s not just men pressing those kids into service.

These boys in the surf. The things they say to me! The stuff I hear them saying to their mates! Some of it makes you want to hug them. Some of it makes you want to cry. Some of it makes you ashamed to be a male. Especially the stuff they feel entitled or obliged to say about girls and women.

What I’ve come to notice is that all these kids are rehearsing and projecting. Trying it on. Rehearsing their masculinity. Projecting their experimental versions of it. And wordlessly looking for cues the whole time. Not just from each other, but from older people around them, especially the men. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to tell you the truth. Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. If it’s well-meant it’s often feeble and half-hearted. Because good men don’t always stick their necks out and make an effort.

So what really got me thinking about all of this and finding thread was this late news and the news of IDF snipers targeting children (male) and journalists in an attack on Gaza during protests near the wall.  This is from The BBC about some of the oldest tribes defined by religion still left: “Syria conflict: Israel blamed for attack on airfield”.  People of the Jewish faith have been targets of tribal hostilities for so many thousands of years it’s hard to believe. And yet, they are still capable of these things.  At first, we thought the US was attacking Syria based on the chemical attacks.  Instead, it was a rogue(?) Israel.

Monday’s attack hit the Tiyas airbase, known as T4, near the city of Homs. Observers say 14 people were killed.

Israel, which has previously hit Syrian targets, has not commented. Syria initially blamed the US for the strike.

The incident comes amid international alarm over an alleged chemical attack on a Syrian rebel-held town. The US and France had threatened to respond.

Reportedly, there were Russians and Iranians there. From The Israeli Times a few months back: IDF accuses Iran of setting up air base outside Syrian city of Palmyra.

The Israeli military on Saturday accused Iran of controlling an airbase outside the Syrian city of Palmyra, from which the army said the Iranian drone that was shot down over northern Israel earlier in the day was launched.

“Iran and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ special unit] Quds Force for some time have been operating the T-4 Air Base in Syria next to Palmyra, with support from the Syrian military and with permission from the Syrian regime,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Saturday night.

So, it likely was an attack based on a response to that. It’s just hard to know these days.

This comes on the back of two items posted to Facebook feeds from two separate Jewish Friends.  It’s quite odd, but within in my WASPY cocoon it was quite acceptable for me to have many Jewish friends as long as I didn’t try to have a Jewish boyfriends. My mother actually got a call from an angry grandmother matriarch telling her that I needed to leave them to Jewish girls once in high school.  In my neck of WASPishness dating Catholics was much more suspect.  Especially, if they came from Eastern European or Southern European roots.  I wasn’t even allowed to pierce my ears because I’d look like some immigrant baby. See, the rules of tribalism can be very fickle as well as stupid.

From WAPO: “He was wearing a vest marked ‘PRESS.’ He was shot dead covering a protest in Gaza.”

Yaser Murtaja had often filmed from the sky, but he never lived to fulfill his dream of flying on an airplane through the clouds.

The young journalist shot drone images and video for Ain Media, a small Gaza-based news agency he started five years ago. Just two weeks ago, he posted an aerial photo of Gaza City’s port on Facebook. “I wish that the day would come to take this shot when I’m in the air and not on the ground,” he wrote. “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I’m 30 years old. I live in Gaza City. I’ve never traveled!”

It was one of his last posts.

Murtaja, who was married and had a 2-year-old son, died Saturday after being shot the day before while covering protests at the edge of the Gaza Strip.

His work had appeared on networks such as Al Jazeera, and in 2016 he worked as a cameraman for Ai Weiwei’s documentary, “Human Flow,” which covered the global refu­gee crisis, including Palestinians in Gaza. The Chinese visual artist posted photos of Murtaja on his Instagram account on Saturday.

And there as this: “Israeli Citizens Watch As Their Military Attacks Unarmed Palestinians”.

As violence continues to rage along the Israel-Gaza border, an Israeli reporter shared a photo that could only be described as inhumane.

“Best show in town. Residents of Nahal Oz in the stands,” read the caption for the image that showed a group of young Israeli spectators sitting on an observation tower near the Israel-Gaza border line, watching and waving as unarmed Palestinians got brutally murdered and wounded at the hands of Israeli troops.

The images were later shared by Reuters as well.

From Haaretz: “The Cold Calculation Behind the Israeli Army’s Sniper Fire on the Gaza Border. The politicians instructed the military to prevent a breach of the fence, but it’s doubtful that they held detailed discussions about the means to achieve this.”

Testimonies of correspondents on the Israeli side about the rate of firing and Palestinian reports of 800 people wounded attest to quite permissive orders given to the snipers. Even when the area is divided into sectors, commanded by senior officers, an area commander has no close control over the sharpshooters’ every shot. This situation leaves a lot to the discretion of relatively young soldiers, even though they were reinforced by more veteran police and Border Police snipers. The number of casualties was in accordance with these circumstances.

The number of fatalities yet again underscores Israel’s long-standing failure – commented on by the State Comptroller in 2003 and 2017 – to develop nonlethal measures which would be effective in dispersing demonstrations and marches from a relatively large distance.

There seems to be a huge human cost to feeling that sense of belonging you get from a Tribe. And don’t even get my started about the many other gangs and such I’ve written about in the past.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Chaos and Corruption Edition (sigh) again and again and again

Shanghai Tang by Leire Mayendía

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m going to share linky goodness on three story lines today. The first is the tit for tat tariff war with China. Don’t forget Hair Loser told us that “winning trade wars is easy”.  Unfortunately, he ignores those of us that practice the economic dark arts of econometrics!

This minor trade war could escalate into something far worse. We have had the tit-for-tat: China has responded with its own list of tariffs to America’s so-called 232 measures (on steel and aluminium). We have had the same relatively proportionate exchanges on America’s 301 actions (on technology). In each case the steps have been modest. Economists estimate that America’s more extensive list, which omits key consumer items such as iPhones, will add just $12.5bn to the roughly $500bn in Chinese annual imports to the US. This is small potatoes. If Washington and Beijing simply stopped here, the world could carry on as normal. But dynamic situations do not normally halt of their own accord. That is why the markets have reacted so badly. They see the potential for escalation. A Chinese official was quoted as saying: “It is only polite to reciprocate”. Whatever Trump does, China will match. The ball is now in Trump’s court, which is never an ideal place for it to be. For more, readers should go to Shawn Donnan’s always excellent “Free trade” newsletter.

Little Guests in the Moon Palace (circa 1972} unknown artist

So, let’s look at Hair Loser’s blatherings on his ongoing list of Making America Gilded Again.  This one is from CBS: “Trump says trade war is “already lost,” and he “probably won’t” attend White House Correspondents Dinner”. And is it his fault?  Ohhhhh, of course not.

President Trump said in a radio interview aired Friday that the U.S. isn’t in a trade war because the trade war is “already lorst,” and said he “probably won’t” attend the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington later this month because the press is “so fake.”

Mr. Trump made those comments in an interview with WABC’s “Bernie and Sid in the Morning,” taped Thursday. The interview took place before the president’s Air Force One comments denying any knowledge of a hush money payment by his lawyer to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Mr. Trump explained why he is going after China on tariffs. On Thursday night, Mr. Trump announced he has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider an additional $100 billion in new tariffs on China, in response to China’s decision to slap $50 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports. China’s $50 billion was a response to the White House’s announcement of $50 billion in tariffs on China. But Mr. Trump insisted that the U.S. isn’t in a trade war — in the past he has called trade wars “good, and easy to win” — because the U.S. already “lost” a trade war.

“Well, fellas, we’ve already lost the trade war,” the president said. “We don’t have a trade war. We’ve lost the trade war because for many years, whether it’s Clinton or the Bushes, Obama, all of our presidents before, for some reason it just got worse and worse. And now it’s $500 billion in deficits and a theft of $300 billion in intellectual property. So you can’t have this.”

The president said the stock market might take a bit of a hit in the short term — and it has — but the country will be stronger in the long run, he insisted.

“Now we could—the easiest thing for me to do would be just to close my eyes and forget it,” Mr. Trump said. “If I did that, then I’m not doing my job. I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain but the market’s gone up 40 percent, 42 percent—so we might lose a little bit of it—but we’re going to have a much stronger country when we’re finished. And that’s what I’m all about. We have to do things that other people wouldn’t do.”

Victory belongs to peace and socialism (China, 1959)

Of course, he also denied we were in a trade war with China. Hair Loser has such mental acuity!  Why, he’s a stable genius!

“We are not in a trade war with China,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The president is correct. What looks like a trade war is really a struggle for the control of the technologies that will dominate coming decades.

The trade war narrative seems at first glance to fit the facts. On March 8, the United States, pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from China and other countries.

On March 22, President Trump issued a memorandum directing Lighthizer to consider 301 tariffs on China. Beijing, within a few hours, announced tariffs of its own on $3 billion of U.S. goods.

This Wednesday, Beijing made another announcement, this time proposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from America.

This looks frightening because no one knows what happens when a dispute engulfs the planet’s two largest economies. As Neil Irwin of The New York Timeswrote Thursday referring to China, “a trade war with such a major trading partner is without precedent in modern times.”

President Trump, whether he ends up in a trade war or not, has zeroed in on the core of the competition between China and the U.S. Lighthizer’s proposed tariff list Tuesday includes duties on some mundane items but especially goes after the Chinese aerospace, information and communications tech, and robotics sectors. As Zhou Hao of Commerzbank in Singapore told Bloomberg, “The U.S. list suggests that the government is targeting the ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative.”

That initiative, announced in 2015 by China’s State Council, seeks to make that country nearly self-sufficient in 10 crucial industries, including aircraft, robots, electric cars, and computer chips. Beijing has set out specific goals for market shares by industry.

The plan aims for near self-sufficiency in components by 2020 and materials five years later. Moreover, Beijing, stepping into trade-violation territory, wants Chinese industries to possess 80 percent of their home market in the listed sectors.

CM2025, as the initiative is known in China, calls for jumbo-sized, low-interest loans from state investment funds and development banks, aid for the purchase of foreign competitors, and research subsidies.

Raise your hand if you think Hair Loser knows anything about the details of CM2025.  He may know enough to think if they’re getting out of those import areas to be more secure, maybe he can riff on that idea too!  But, better he should focus on a cyber wall. The literal stuff only makes us weaker.  From The Hill: “Trump says ‘pain’ from China tariffs will make US ‘much stronger’”.  Feel the pain!!!!  Are we winning now? Are we great again?

President Trump says in a new interview that tariffs targeting China over intellectual property theft could cause some “pain” in the U.S. economy, but promised that America would emerge stronger as a result.

“I’m not saying there’s not gonna be any pain,” Trump said Friday in an interview with “Bernie & Sid in the Morning” on 77 WABC in New York City.

He also acknowledged the initial reaction from markets is likely to be negative.

They “could lose a little bit,” he said

Dow Jones industrial average futures plummeted on Thursday after news broke that Trump has asked officials in the administration to prepare tariffs on another $100 billion of imports from China, escalating a fight with Beijing.

Futures on the index fell 222 points, suggesting the market would open down 271.22 points on Friday, CNBC reported.

A relatively poor jobs report released Friday that found the nation added 103,000 jobs in March is also likely to push markets lower, but Trump said he was not worried about a negative reaction from his move on trade.

“We’re gonna be much stronger for it,” he added later in the interview.

China has responded to the latest round of tariff plans with a statement threatening an all-out trade war.

“We do not want to fight, but we are not afraid to fight a trade war,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Vintage World War II poster of a Chinese soldier with his wife and child. It reads, China first to fight! United China Relief Participating In National War Fund.

Oh, wait, that sounds more like losing again. So, let’s head over to Trump’s Best and Brightest and Most Corrupt Cabinet.  Pruitt is now labelled as “too corrupt to be corrupted” by Ryan Cooper at The Week.

As defined by Congress, the EPA is supposed to protect the health of Americans by enforcing environmental law, but Administrator Pruitt’s tenure has been focused almost entirely on dismantling as much of the existing architecture of environmental protections as possible. More than any previous EPA head, he has worked to accomplish the exact opposite of the intended purpose of the agency. He has rolled back President Obama’s automobile efficiency standards, the Clean Power Plan, and stacked scientific advisory boards with science deniers and partisan hacks. Overall there have been 41 instances of EPA deregulation under Pruitt as of early February alone. His EPA insists that a gigantic toxic waste dump in Puerto Rico is fine, despite the fact that it was badly flooded during Hurricane Maria and many locals have suspicious illnesses.

And where he can’t simply torch regulation (because it’s often wildly illegal), he’s stalled implementation as long as possible, through administrative delays, legal red tape, and simply refusing to staff tons of positions.

Perhaps most deviously, as Emily Atkin writes, he recently changed the scientific basis for EPA rulemaking to disqualify any research not based on public data, following a trail blazed by notorious climate change denier Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). That superficially reasonable-sounding policy rules out most air quality research of any kind, which are based on medical datasets that are not public because of federal privacy law.

The objective, obviously, is to come up with any sort of pretext to make it easier for polluters to pollute. This one places a handy Catch-22 in the face of nearly anybody who wants to do serious science on pollution and health.

Oh and also Pruitt has an unprecedented 24/7 squad of bodyguards, a $25,000 secret phone booth in his office, spent $9,000 sweeping his office for surveillance bugs, and took multiple charter, private, and first-class flights costing at least $163,000 in total.

Warmly love the country, the communist party and socialism, 1983

If there’s one silver lining to Pruitt’s effort to leave no American child brain un-poisoned, it’s how he demonstrates the extent to which a committed ideologue can bend an agency to his will. The EPA is supposed to follow the latest science in carrying out its legal mandate, but by tendentiously disqualifying science that doesn’t reach a prearranged ideological conclusion, Pruitt has effectively gutted the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Anna Navarro–a Republican–speaks truth on Don Lemon’s CNN panel of underwhelming men.

Navarro, who kept accidentally calling Steve Mnuchin Steve Munchkin,” noted that Pruitt’s problem is that his flubs aren’t happening in a vacuum, other cabinet secretaries are doing the same.

“There is one more chapter in this telenovela,” she said. “In the sense that we’ve heard about excesses by Ben Carson, by Munchkin-Mnuchin-whatever. It is $130,000 doors or $130,000 lunch tables or jetting around to see an eclipse. This is one more instance of what we’re seeing after Donald Trump promised to be different, and the Republican Party again and again looks the other way. Whether it’s Stormy Daniels or tariffs or deficits or overspending. They look the other way. If this were a Democratic administration, people would be brought in to testify and there would be investigations.”

She argued that the GOP-led Congress has essentially given the White House a pass on everything that they once held as an essential tenant of their party.

“I will say to you, the problem with that [Scott Pruitt] interview is — I mean first of all, it was so bad it made Betsy DeVos look like Albert Einstein,” she continued. “But more than that, he went around the White House to give his buddies and cronies a huge pay raise despite the White House was saying not to do it. That should really bother us, as republicans, as Americans, as taxpayers. That is our money that he is misspending and it should bother all of us despite partisanship.”

Pruitt definitely acts like a worse demigod than Trump. My guess is Hair Loser wants no competition from jerks like him.

Several weeks after taking the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt was running late and stuck in Washington, D.C., traffic. Sources tell CBS News that he wanted to use his vehicle’s lights and sirens to get to his official appointment, but the lead agent in charge of his security detail advised him that sirens were to be used only in emergencies.

Less than two weeks later that agent was removed from Pruitt’s detail, reassigned to a new job within the EPA.

Wash clothes and body regularly, maintain cleanliness, for good health, ca. 1952

Still, recently Trump has shown more preference to Pruitt over Sessions even suggesting he might replace Sessions with Pruitt.

President Donald Trump floated replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Scott Pruitt as recently as this week, even as the scandal-ridden head of the Environmental Protection Agency has faced a growing list of negative headlines, according to people close to the President.

“He was 100% still trying to protect Pruitt because Pruitt is his fill-in for Sessions,” one source familiar with Trump’s thinking told CNN.

Though the President has, at times, floated several people a day for multiple positions in his administration that are already occupied, the proposition reveals just how frustrated Trump remains with Sessions because of his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation more than a year ago, while signaling how confident he has remained in Pruitt despite a dizzying number of ethics issues.

So, the third headline comes from the US Treasury and sanctions imposed on Russian Oligarchs.  We’re waiting for Hair Loser’s pissing wisdom on this via Twitter.

The Trump administration announced new sanctions on Russian tycoons, companies and key allies of President Vladimir Putin, hitting the crucial energy sector and adding to a flurry of moves by Western powers against Moscow in recent weeks.

“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Friday. “The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities.”

Those penalized include seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies and 17 senior government officials under provisions of a law Congress passed last year to retaliate against Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Among the most prominent Russian tycoons identified Friday is metals magnate Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire founder and majority shareholder of En+ Group. Deripaska, 50, made headlines last year due to his links to Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The tycoon has had difficulties in the past in getting a U.S. visa.

This is basically Putin’s inner circle.

Friday’s announcement builds on a string of punitive actions taken by the U.S. against the Kremlin. Congress and Trump’s national security advisers have pushed for tougher sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election and its prolonged, destructive cyberattacks in Ukraine and elsewhere.

But in a farewell speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington this week, Trump’s outgoing national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Putin’s government for its military and political aggression worldwide.

The Kremlin continues to call for dialogue with Trump. Speaking in Moscow Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov complained about America’s increasingly hostile diplomatic stance towards Russia but expressed hope that Trump and Putin could conduct a “broad dialogue” so long as it does not “fall victim to domestic political intrigues” in Washington.

Other individuals targeted on Friday include members of Putin’s inner circle, some of whom are under scrutiny from U.S. investigators for activities related to the 2016 presidential election.

Among them are Suleiman Kerimov, a top Putin adviser; Kirill Shamalov, who married Putin’s daughter in 2013; and financier Viktor Vekselberg, who attended Trump’s presidential inauguration.

Sanctions target Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, who reportedly is under investigation in the U.S. on suspicion of funneling money to the National Rifle Association to assist the Trump campaign.

And, just in case you missed it … “EXCLUSIVE: Saudi crown prince bragged that Jared Kushner gave him CIA intelligence about other Saudis saying ‘here are your enemies’ days before ‘corruption crackdown’ which led to torture and death”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?