Monday Reads: Kremlin Caligula and the Kremlin Klan

putin-and-trump-and-hacking-cartoon-sack-1The saga of the Glasnost Menagerie continues.

And so we begin another Week of America Held Hostage with more news about the connections between the the current Presidential Usurper and his handlers in Moscow.

There are a few places where this story is being completely investigated.  For one, I don’t think Congresswoman Maxine Waters is going to let go of anything despite all the Republican Sandbagging.   TBogg–writing for Raw Story–summarizes Waters’ Sunday appearance on MSNBC.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) leveled serious charges against the Trump White House on Sunday, saying U.S. policies toward Russia are being driven by what she called the “Kremlin clan” more interested in oil and personal business than U.S. needs.

Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, the California congresswoman said Trump’s recent attacks on the media are a way to delegitimize their reporting on his Russian connections.

Waters’ claims came just before the New York Times released a bombshell report stating that Trump insiders and associates were working on a plan to blackmail Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko in an effort to make the Obama-era sanctions disappear.

“Donald Trump is so outrageous that he thinks he can get away with saying anything,” Waters explained. “And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that the media is lying on him because the facts are going to come out about him, his involvement with Russia, his involvement with Russia during the campaign and the connection between those around him and Putin and the Kremlin. And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that when they hear this, it’s going to be a big lie because the media cannot be trusted, that somehow they are against the people.”

According to Waters, Trump is worried his supporters will start to put two and two together as more Russia revelations come out, including those involving the people he has surrounded himself with.

“They see that Flynn, who he had to fire, was talking with Russia about sanctions with the Russian ambassador,” she explained. “I believe that [Secretary of State] Tillerson, who was the CEO of Exxon, has as his highest priority getting rid of the sanctions. Don’t forget, he is the one who negotiated the deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic and that was stopped because Obama placed sanctions on them and they couldn’t proceed with that. And so Tillerson, who has this great relationship with Putin, is going to do everything that he can to lift those sanctions and that’s going to be their Achilles heel.”

Waters then said that Tillerson is just one part of what she calls the “Kremlin clan,” and that it begins at the top with Trump.

“Why does he like Putin so much?” Waters asked. “Why does he defend them? And I think it’s all connected to what I call the Kremlin Klan. All of these people around him that are connected to oil and gas in the Kremlin and Ukraine. It’s all about them. Just think about it. Manafort, his campaign manager, and who had to leave because it was determined that he had connections to the Kremlin and to the Ukraine and whether you’re talking about him or Roger Stone or some of the others, they are all about oil and gas and they thought that if they elected Trump, that somehow they were going to have someone friendly to them that would help lift these sanctions and this Kremlin clan are all going to benefit from it.”

trumptoon02Kremlin Caligula has a lot of explaining to do but was probably too wrapped up by his angry tirades and Swedish conspiracy theories to think he may be subject to any inquiry. Matthew Yglesias at Vox has 33 questions that somebody needs to answer.

What we have instead are a lot of small, unanswered questions. Questions about Flynn’s behavior and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about the behavior of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about enigmatic remarks made by longtime Trump associate and veteran political operative Roger Stone. Questions about an obscure American businessman named Carter Page who maybe — or maybe not — worked for some time with the Trump campaign.

But there are also longstanding questions about the opaque financing of the Trump Organization, and about why its founder and owner has been so reluctant to engage in normal levels of financial disclosure. And most of all, there are questions about Trump’s highly unorthodox attitudes toward Russia, its government, and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

Go check them out.  It’s a long and intriguing set of entanglements and loose ends.  Joseph Cannon has a great set of links and reads on the topic too.

If Josh Marshall has read the tea leaves correctly, Sater may soon become a household name. Sater, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the Putin government have been hammering out a Ukraine peace plan, which Sater gave to General Flynn just before his resignation. Why is this shocking? Because — as indicated above — Sater is a shady, sleazy character, and Trump has been trying to pretend that he has no real links to the guy.

donald-trump-cartoon-w-putin-imageWhat’s really triggered the new intrigue was a Time magazine article that dropped the name Felix Sater. The article cited by Cannon on TPM.  Josh Marshall has a good deal of questions on a guy who may become a household world for sleazeball.  There’s no doubt in my mind that T-Rump sees himself as some kind of global oligarch in the Russian model.  Putin is thought to be the wealthiest man on earth.  Is Kremlin Caligula looking to set up self up similarly by pilfering US assets?

After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there’s no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.

On its own, Trump’s relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we’re talking about most generous reads here.)

But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

Here’s something astounding from WAPO.  This certainly makes Watergate look like a Piker’s Ball.  You have to wonder what kind of stuff the Kremlin hackers got from the RNC and exactly who’s little gonads are swinging in the wind if it’s released.

President Trump’s personal lawyer and a former business associate met privately in New York City last month with a member of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss a peace plan for that country that could give Russia long-term control over territory it seized in 2014 and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.

The meeting with Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a former business partner who worked on real estate projects with Trump’s company.

The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russia have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russia. The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election to help Trump.

The Times reported that Cohen said he left the proposal in a sealed envelope in the office of then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn while visiting Trump in the White House. The meeting took place days before Flynn’s resignation last week following a report in The Washington Post that he had misled Vice President Pence about his discussions in December of election-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Cohen, speaking with The Post on Sunday, acknowledged that the meeting took place and that he had left with the peace proposal in hand.

But Cohen said he did not take the envelope to the White House and did not discuss it with anyone. He called suggestions to the contrary “fake news.”

“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. He said he told the Ukrainian official that he could send the proposal to Flynn by writing him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

download-2New York Magazine points this interesting thing out amid all the spooks and spies.  Least we forget the Golden Showers moments and the former spy who has definitely gone into hiding.

A controversial and unverified dossier assembled by a former British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computer systems with a Russian official in Prague during Trump’s campaign, but Cohen and the Russian official have both denied that allegation. Sater had apparently been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow that was halted on account of Trump’s presidential campaign. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, for what it’s worth, thinks Sater’s inclusion in the report is a very big deal, since Sater was at the center of the Trump Soho development project in Manhattan, which Marshall notes was the Trump project with the most Russia-linked shadiness.

I don’t know about you but all of this has me extremely nervous.  As David Corn of MoJo puts it:

Every time we turn around, there’s something new linking Trump to Russia. Just a few days ago, FBI Director James Comey briefed the Senate Intelligence committee about the ongoing investigation of Team Trump and its ties to Russia, and all the chatter afterward was about how the senators seemed kind of shaken by what they heard.

Who knows? Maybe it all turns out to be nothing. But there sure is a lot of smoke out there. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a fire too.

Economic Gain?  Blackmail?  Affinity for fellow thugs?  Who knows what the motivations are for all of this.  All I know is that our country is on the losing end of all this and I would hate to for us sell our allies out for rubles.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: The Longest Month Ever …

csk9fwxw8aenfyd-1Time evidently doesn’t simply fly when you’re operating with daily emotional shock and awe and the chaotic actions of a mad king.  It zooms at super sonic levels leaving stinky vapor trails and maddening sonic booms. It also seems like it never ends. The national nightmare continues after 30 days of hyper Alt Right policies and an Administration creating havoc and chaos what ever they do and where ever they go.  Welcome to the 10 second news cycle.  We are all ADD and PTSD now.

We’re nationally exhausted. The entire civilized world is exhausted. We’re in constant need of spiked hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and a long nap.  Exactly what is it going to take for the Republicans to eliminate this massive onslaught of threats to life as the planet and country has known it?  How much more of this are they going to foist on us so that their theocrats and plutocrats can tear down their pet institutions and feel secure for the time being in their enclaves of privilege?

trump-machineWill this entire Democratic experience die on a cross of religious bigotry and greed while Hair Furor parties on in his Florida Resort Bunker surrounded by leaking oozing hack-able incompetents??

The Democrats and even few Republicans are questioning this so-called President’s mental health.  What more does it take to send up the call for a series neuropsychological tests on the s0-called President? Can any one really tell us that Kremlin Caligula is functional in any standard sense of the word?  How can we get Trump to a psychiatrist or psychologist?  The man is in obvious need of help!

“Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in a floor speech this week called for a review of the Constitution’s procedures for removing a president. He warned the 25th Amendment of the Constitution falls short when it comes to mental or emotional fitness for office.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a weekend interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” said that “a few” Republican colleagues have expressed concern to him about Trump’s mental health.

And Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation that would require the presence of a psychiatrist or psychologist in the White House.

The Democrats justify their questions by pointing to Trump’s habit of making demonstrably false claims. At a press conference Thursday, he said he’d had the biggest Electoral College win since President Ronald Reagan, for example, when his margin was lower than either of President Obama’s wins.

Blumenauer told The Hill he started taking another look at the 25th Amendment because Trump had casually repeated easily disproven claims, such as stating that it wasn’t raining during his speech on Inauguration Day when it was.

“It’s not normal behavior. I don’t know anybody in a position of responsibility that doesn’t know if they’re being rained on. And nobody I work with serially offers up verifiably false statements on an ongoing basis,” he said in an interview steps from the House chamber.

But suggesting the president has a mental health problem invites criticism that Democrats are going too far.

“It’s divisive. The bottom line is, if Trump doesn’t succeed, we all fail. It’s time to give the guy a chance,” said Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).

Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) both burst out laughing when told some Democratic colleagues were questioning Trump’s mental health.

“Are you serious?” Hunter asked. “Yeah, I don’t care what they say.”

trumpcave2That’s the entire deal.  The Republicans keep acting like this is their new normal. This nightmare is their opportunity to gut every reform since The Gilded Age and maybe even before that. We have a daily constitutional crisis.  It’s evident our election had serious issues and that Congressional oversight is needed on many levels.  But hey look!  HER EMAILS!!  AGAIN!!! “Chaffetz seeks charge of ex-Clinton aide in email inquiry.”  Did he ignore that extended live performance yesterday where our president did everything but literally froth at the mouth?

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.

Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to discuss oversight. He has rebuffed calls for his panel to look into Trump’s businesses and possible conflicts.

Chaffetz said in a statement that allowing Pagliano’s conduct “to go unaddressed would gravely harm Congress’ ability to conduct oversight.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said pursuing charges against Pagliano would be a waste of time and money.

cfz9jttJournalists aren’t likely to forget yesterday’s presser for some time.  It’s generally been characterized as “insane”.

On Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump’s staff corralled the White House press corps into the East Room of the White House so that he could sing the praises of his new Labor Secretary pick, Alexander Acosta.

This was the case only for first few minutes during which the president, visibly bored, read from a sheet of notes, sounding like he had just woke up from a power nap.

For the remainder of the marathon press conference, which lasted one hour and 17 minutes, Trump perked up and did what he has the most fun doing: beating up on the press.

He shouted about Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Russian intelligence. He vented about how unfair and nasty “the media” was to him, but took time to specifically praise friendly outlets such as Fox News. He tried to settle old scores in public. He touted the single national poll that showed a favorable approval rating. He continued to protest too much about charges of racism, and even anti-Semitism in his ranks. And President Trump revived Candidate Trump’s favorite campaign-rally applause line about how he has “never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.”

It was like he had never left the campaign trail or all the old talking points, pugnacity, and vitriol that came with it. The only thing that was missing was a jab at “Crooked Hillary.”

And as the official White House press conference disintegrated further into unhinged criticism and belligerent sniping, reporters seated in the East Room could hardly contain themselves. There was an awkward mix of laughing with Trump, and chuckling at him as the president kept venting and sneering. The reporters present couldn’t stop quietly gossipping about Trump.

“What is going on?” one journalist whispered to another. “This is insane” and “What the hell?” were other popular refrains in the room.

b9336d1d7d61c6fb4fa4b291ab06d464Given that we’ve got this nightmare partially due to the inability of the media to discern the Pandora’s Box of Trump’s Psyche early on, it only seems fitting they get the abuse straight in their faces.  Embedding in the White House Press Corps should come with war zone pay and counselling for ongoing trauma.  Still, the Republicans just appear to be hiding and doing what weasels usually do.  They’re busy destroying stuff in their own little way.  Krugman has a great op ed about the silence of the weasels.  Well, he calls them hacks.  But then he has to get it published on the NYT and I just press a button here!!!

The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.

Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?

Nothing.

Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, says that Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were “entirely appropriate.”

Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, angrily dismissed calls for a select committee to investigate contacts during the campaign: “There is absolutely not going to be one.”

Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House oversight committee — who hounded Hillary Clinton endlessly over Benghazi — declared that the “situation has taken care of itself.”

Just the other day Republicans were hot in pursuit of potential scandal, and posed as ultrapatriots. Now they’re indifferent to actual subversion and the real possibility that we are being governed by people who take their cues from Moscow. Why?

Well, Senator Rand Paul explained it all: “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for his whole party?

And evidently the Presser yesterday played well with the Deplorables in the propaganda press…  Quoted below is a deplorable bit from the NYP that had an even more deplorable cover.  I’m not quoting too much from it because it’s as delusional as its subject.

Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.

They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.

fc7fbb01537dc48226e3e43a55623662In what universe was yesterday’s display of insanity a time buyer? We’re all getting used to gasping for air in 10 second or maybe minute news cycles. I guess if you were black, a woke woman or Jewish you heard a totally different set of dog whistles.  This CNN headline says it all “Trump tells Jewish magazine’s reporter to ‘sit down,’ blames anti-Semitism on ‘the other side'”

He settled on a reporter who identified himself as Jake Turx, a reporter with Ami Magazine, which bills itself as “a new standard in Jewish media.” Turx prefaced his question by saying he did not see evidence the President or his staff were anti-Semitic. He even mentioned Trump’s Jewish grandchildren.
He then launched into the thrust of his question about bomb threats to dozens of Jewish Community Centers last month.

What we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it,” Turx said.
As Turx continued, Trump interrupted, “See, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not.”
The reporter said, “It’s an important one.”

“Not a simple question. Not a fair question. OK, sit down. I understand the rest of your question,”

Trump said. “So here’s the story folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism. The least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.”

Turx raised his hand again and spoke up.

“Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Trump replied. “See he lied about — he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question. So, you know, welcome to the world of the media.”

Turx shook his head, and Trump continued as if he himself had been accused of anti-Semitism, despite Turx’s preface.

“But let me just tell you something: I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me — and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Benjamin Netanyahu, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time,’ and then he said, ‘Forget it.’ So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.”

Trump can make anything into something about directly related to his EGO by his screaming ID.  Even I can see that and I’m not the Psych PhD blogger on the blog.  I’m just the humble economist trying to deal with a continual onslaught of abusive, gas lighting insanity.

I just don’t know how much longer anything can take this constant assault.  It’s an assault on our sanity. It’s national gaslighting. It’s destroying or nation’s rule of law and institutions!  And just to prove yesterday’s rant about leaks was true and news being fake we got a wag the dog leak this morning.  The AP dropped a story about using the National Guard for deportation efforts.  Media outlets got told it was false AFTER the AP made the accusations.  Then, there’s this …

This seemed like an attempt to gaslight the AP to me. They probably think they’re “Winning!”  “Tiger Blood!”   It comes off as Machiavellian which means President Bannon is doing nefarious things again.

To me, this David Corn Tweet says it all.  Would you believe this administration if it told you a terrorist attack was imminent?

Have a great day Sky Dancers! Let me know what’s on your blogging and reading list!!!


Monday Reads: Money can’t buy Class, Love, Intelligence or a Sense of Decency

Good Afternoon!16681545_10154458478078512_3319331744579545500_n

It’s hard to know where to get started on the utterly boorish behavior of our of so-called President over the weekend.  It’s only topped by his utter cluelessness when it comes to the decorum of the world stage.  Our country makes Banana Republics look perfectly democratic and functional at the moment.

All I can say, is get ready, there’s bound to be some war or major attack coming down the pipe.  What’s worse is that our allies and our own national intelligence assets are unlikely to share that information with our So-Called President because the assumption is that the current White House shares everything with the Kremlin. The breaches of security protocol are just unbelievable.

Today’s photos are of Saturday Night’s Krewe de Vieux Parade coming out of my neighborhood and heading into the French Quarter and downtown.  It’s a political satire parade and you can see where it went this year.  You can enjoy the fun while I write about extremely scary things.

BB sent me this extremely important article written by John R Schindler for The Observer. Among the horrifying conclusions is this: “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin.”

In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

So, it’s hard to know where to start other than our foreign policy has turned into a complete dumpsterfire. Instead of the usual State Dinner at the White House with celebrities, cultural and intellectual folks, political leaders, artists and musicians, and just basically the cream of the US crop, Japanese Prime Minister Abe got treated to a tacky weekend in Florida. The Taxpayers undoubtedly footed the bill and wrote a huge check to that tacky “resort” owned by the Uber Tacky So-called President.  I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister wasn’t expecting he’d become a wedding crasher but I’m also pretty sure that every one knows that anything classy, dignified, and in keeping with decorum is off the table these days.

Then there was a phone call about North Korea taken on his cell phone in the middle of the public dining room.

And, folks were worried about Hillary’s private server?  

What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.

The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.

As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day. He had earlier snapped pictures of Trump and Abe golfing and of the president and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon schmoozing guests.

Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.

“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

Later, he posted other photos of Trump and Abe’s discussion, including some that seemed to have been taken from just a few feet away. Those photos have now been seen around the world, providing photographic proof of this unusual moment.

16730375_10154458488688512_2817565483131739753_n This description came from Richard “DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago … ” as described by David Farenholdt.

But DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.

“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.

Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.

DeAgazio also posted photos of himself with a man that he identified as the military member who carries the “football” that would allow Trump to launch a nuclear attack. In that Facebook post, DeAgazio described how “the football” functions, but said that the military member did not divulge that information to him.

“I looked it up” on Wikipedia, DeAgazio said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”

Yes. A real man of the people.  That initiation fee is about what my entire house is worth.

Oh, and the wedding crashing part came after the let’s broadcast stuff about North Korea around Florida thing and an embarrassing presser.

On Saturday, as President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. CNN was the first to report last night that Trump was joined at the dinner table by his embattled national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon. As Mar-a-Lago members dining separately looked on, they reviewed classified documents with Bannon and Flynn using their cell-phone lights so Trump could see what he was reading.

After that awkward exchange, Trump and Abe held a hastily assembled joint press conference where Trump made a statement that was shorter than his awkward handshake with Abe at the White House on Friday.

What did Trump do after that? Bunker down with his National Security Council? Spend the evening on the phone with his Defense Secretary James Mattis? No. CNN reported that Trump dropped by a wedding that happened to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago, took the mic, and spoke to the guests.

crude-is-magicalI’ve seen movie frat boys with a better sense of gravitas than our So-called President.  So, first a guest gets a photo op with the nuclear football and then we get some twisted version of The Wedding Crashers.  WTF?  We’re going to owe Japan some big time apologies for insulting their PM.  Phillip Bump points out the absolute hypocrisy on running intelligence security breaches by Clinton and then governing like the entire world can listen in to our highest secrets and he’s got no issue with it.  Good Grief there must be Victory Dancing Putin over there in Moscow.

Earlier in the week, Trump had been criticized for leaving intelligence documents vulnerable to people without security clearance. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noticed that the president kept the key in a secured bag while hosting people in the Oval Office, which is a bit like leaving your house keys in your front door while you’re having a party in your backyard. There’s no indication that anyone saw anything confidential in this incident, but this, Heinrich suggested, was “Classified 101.”

Compared to holding a national security conversation over dinner in the public dining room at his private club, though, the lockbag incident pales.

It’s not clear that anyone heard particulars of the conversation, but other diners certainly noticed. Richard DeAgazio was in the room and posted photos of the moment to Facebook.

 Shock and awe aside, there’s this:

Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights, yes — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. When Edward Snowden was meeting with reporters in Hong Kong at the moment he was leaking the material he’d stolen from the NSA, he famously asked that they place their phones in the refrigerator — blocking any radio signals in the event that the visitors’ phones had been hacked. This was considered the most secure way of ensuring that the phones couldn’t be used as wiretaps, even more secure than removing the battery. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken.

Plus, more news on Flynn and others with deep ties to the Kremlin.

orange-is-the-new-black

It’s just hard to know what to say about all!

President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had a pretty wretched week. The Post’s reporting revealed that Flynn, contrary to his and the White House’s earlier assertions, had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn, according to intelligence sources, likely signaled that the question of sanctions would be revisited by a more friendly Trump administration.

So, I’m just left smh and rather speechless.

How do you explain this kind’ve behavior? I mean, if I had a relative that did this sort’ve thing I would surely get them committed! I wouldn’t freaking elect them President.

The fun news today is that the White House cannot find a comedian to do Nerd Prom and the entire things seems to be falling apart. It’s the press’ big party and damn ya’ll cry if you want to!!

In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting A-list celebrities ranging from George Clooney to Helen Mirren to Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.

This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.

Also, many stars are avoiding the event this year and no “headliner” comedian has committed so far, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

– ‘Stick a fork in it’ –

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said the glitzy party and related events around it no longer seem appropriate.

“Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement,” she wrote. “It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.”

Slate correspondent Jacob Weisberg echoed those sentiments, saying in a tweet: “Please cancel the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unseemly spectacle, totally at odds with the press holding administration accountable.”

Well, Sky Dancers, have at it! I’m not sure I’m up to describing the many ways that all this is so very very very wrong.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: So, the army invaded my neighborhood last night and other stories

d3f5f0abc2c4dd0028b6b254d6f579f2Good Afternoon!

I am moving extremely slow today. Things certainly have been stressful lately. I usually have to see the light of day to figure out what the latest assault will be on the Courts, the Constitution, Ethics, tax payers, black people, immigrants, Muslims, women, GLBT folks, etc. etc. etc.  Last night, the assault came swooping over my rooftop in the form of black helicopters and extremely loud explosions.

Now, I live in a neighborhood with babies, pets, old people, and unsuspecting tourists, etc. etc. etc.  It turned out to be a training exercise at the abandoned Navy Base about 5 doors down from me.  Ya think they could’ve told a few of us about this especially a few days after 9 tornadoes touch down all around us and 21 days into the chaos that is Drumpfistan.

I mean this seriously. Hair Furor has been promising to invade US cities with the army for days now so I figure mine’s as good as any because, well, you know, a lot of my neighbors are black and you know what kinda hell realm my neighborhood has to be in the eyes of Hair Furor. We also have lots of other folks here that are immigrants and do very terrorist type things like own corner stores and restaurants.  We must be on his target list!!! So, what would you think if the Army started swooped in and exploding things on your city block at 1:00 fucking A.M.?

cartoon_of_the_day_6-21-16_-_trump_muslim_banBut the good news is the Hair Furor’s Immigrant ban can’t be enforced because we have courts and they evidently still work.

A federal appeals panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries can continue entering the United States.

In a unanimous 29-page opinion, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

The judges wrote that any suggestion that they could not “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

And of course, now the three judges–including the conservative one appointed by Bush–are all getting threats.

Threats against more than one judge involved in legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration have prompted federal and local law enforcement agencies to temporarily increase security protection for some of them, according to law enforcement officials.

CNN did not learn how specific the threats were, but law enforcement agencies treated them seriously and out of an abundance of caution, the US Marshals Service and local police increased patrols and protective officers to provide security for some of the judges, the officials said.

A spokesperson from the US Marshals Service declined to comment directly on the threats but said that while “we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted.”

The threats come as Trump continues his verbal criticisms of judges — something that has drawn concern from former law enforcement officials and others who fear that public officials should not target a specific judge, and instead base their criticism more broadly on a court’s ruling.

And hundreds of thousands of Iranians are taking to the street shouting “Death to America” in what looks like a full on self-fulfilling prophecy.  Hillary warned us about this.  The foreign policy and national security experts warned us about this.  But, no, we have to be surrounded by racists and bigots with false narratives poured into their little tiny hands and minds.  Day by day, Kremlin Caligula is the one that makes us less safe.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday to swear allegiance to their clerical leaders and reject U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning that he had put the Islamic Republic “on notice”, state TV reported.

On the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, marchers including hundreds of military personnel and policemen streamed towards Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square for the main event.

They carried “Death to America” banners and effigies of Trump while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs.

State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump’s picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: “Thanks Mr Trump for showing the real face of America.”

“America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader”, a young man told state TV, in a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, Trump put Iran “on notice” after a Jan. 29 Iranian missile test and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities. Iran said it will not halt its missile program.

Leading religious and political figures, including President Hassan Rouhani, had urged Iranians to join the rally on Friday to “show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic”.

muslim-comicI bet Putin is celebrating again.

The happy news today is that nasty ass Jason Chaffetz had a horrid time in his town hall last night. Remember, this is Utah not Massachusetts.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Thursday faced a flood of protesters during a town hall in his home state.

Demonstrators repeatedly disrupted the House Oversight Committee chairman, challenging him over his treatment of President Trump.

“If you want to continue to look into [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton, I don’t care,” an attendee named Noor Ul-Hasan asked Chaffetz, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “But why aren’t you checking out your own president?”

“You’re really not going to like this part,” Chaffetz responded. “The president, under the law, is exempt from conflict of interest laws.”

Chaffetz was a key player in the Benghazi and email investigations that plagued Clinton, a former secretary of State under President Obama. Shortly before Election Day, Chaffetz said he believed the committee had two years’ worth of material on her. Now he’s facing added pressure to apply the same level of scrutiny to Trump.

The Tribune reported Thursday’s event at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was at capacity, with police warning some would not be admitted into its 1,080-person auditorium.

Demonstrators repeatedly booed when Chaffetz mentioned Trump’s name, it said, and some held up signs reading “disagree” at the Utah lawmaker.

Remember, it isn’t illegal, facism, NAZIsm, or unethical when the President does it or his family does it!!!03

Meanwhile, Besty just can’t seem to find the pencils in the Department and she can’t even visit a school.  See Betsy run away.  Run, Betsy, Run!!!!

All of this chaos is making my stomach knot and my head hurt.

Meanwhile, let me know what’s on your reading and blogging list today.


Live Blog: Justice Department as Oxymoron

cartoons-twitter_759I’m going to be listening into the Oral arguments made by the Justice (sic) Department appealing the stay on the Immigration Ban.  Right now, Federal judges are hearing arguments about restoring Trump’s immigration and refugee executive order. Twenty-six Judges have now called the Ban unconstitutional.

We have the live audio stream here. There are other places to listen also.

A panel of three randomly selected federal judges will hear arguments from lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota and the Department of Justice. The arguments will be heard over telephone, so the livestream is audio-only. Each side will have 30 minutes to make its case.

 

herocartoons

This case will undoubtedly land on the desk of SCOTUS and this is the first step.

The judges are expected to then rule on the future of the executive order, although the ruling was not expected tonight. While their decision won’t determine the constitutionality of Trump’s immigration ban, it will determine whether a restraining order against Trump’s action, put in place by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, will remain.

The two states have argued that Trump’s order was likely to cause “irreparable harm” to businesses, schools, family relations and state residents’ freedom to travel and is unconstitutional because it discriminates on the basis of religion. The Justice Department said the travel restrictions are a matter of national security and the administration was excluding people from countries with ties to terrorism, not people of a certain religion.

Today, Trump suggested that the legal battle between the two states and the Justice Department could make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

“We’re going to take it through the system,” said Trump. “It’s very important for the country, regardless of me or whoever succeeds at a later date.”

On Capitol Hill today, Secretary of >Homeland Security John Kelly defended the immigration executive order, calling it “lawful and constitutional.”

Only a week old, the order has sparked protests and outcry across the country. The legal community has been grappling with the order, some travelers have been delayed, and others are wondering if they will be allowed previously approved entry into the United States.

Martin Sutovec / Slovakia

Martin Sutovec / Slovakia

Currently, the Judge is asking if there’s any evidence that the seven countries on the list posed the greatest risk of threat or history of threat.  So far, the judges are skeptical about the proof or rationale. Clifton and Friedland have asked questions so far in the first 1/2 hour of the case provided by the Department of Justice (sic).  Right now they’re asking for the number of Federal Offenses committed by people coming in from these countries.

Judges William Canby Jr., a Jimmy Carter appointee, Michelle Friedland, a Barack Obama appointee, and Richard Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee, will hear the government’s stay motion and are expected to render a decision by the end of the week.

Canby and Friedland joined to initially deny the government’s request for an immediate stay of the lower court ruling by Judge James Robart, who issued a nationwide hold on President Trump’s travel moratorium. Robart was an appointee of President George W. Bush and ruled in favor of the state of Washington’s challenge to the executive order, which was joined by Minnesota.

The states filed a brief early Monday challenging the ban, and the three-judge panel asked the federal government to reply by 3 p.m. Monday.

A ruling could come any time after that, although likely within a week, experts told the Los Angeles Times.

Of the three judges, Clifton is considered moderately conservative, while the two Democrat-appointed judges are seen as moderately liberal. The 9th Circuit is known as the most liberal federal appeals court, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Clifton, 66, received headlines a decade ago when he was a judge on the panel that upheld the imprisonment of journalist Josh Wolf. In 2006, Wolf refused to turn over videotapes of San Francisco demonstrations.

Friedland, 46, was born in Berkeley and graduated from Stanford as an undergraduate and from its law school. Before becoming a judge, she represented numerous corporate clients, as well as the University of California in constitutional cases. She lives in Mountain View.

Canby Jr., 85, is known as an expert in American Indian law. He garnered headlines in 2001 when he wrote the unanimous decision requiring the Professional Golfers Association to allow disabled golfer Casey Martin the right to use a golf cart when competing, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s just an hour so join us!!!

 


Monday Reads: America Held Hostage Day 17

16427770_10100527766862801_970861693516937122_n

Good Morning!

It’s not getting particularly better on the acting presidential front.  The one thing that’s becoming a total scream is that Hair Furor is now taking offense at the suggestion he’s the signing arm of President Bannon.  Little wonder on that front. It appears he wasn’t aware the so-called President put Bannon on the NSC.

Oh, and negative polls are now “fake news”.  Follow the White House twitters for all the alternative facts unfit for any one but, well, they just keep on coming!!!!

 

 

16473256_10154440735168512_7345080834352933819_nTrump is not good at much of anything. But, he’s quite good at getting revenge. A lot of his conservative critics are anxiously awaiting being “paid back in spades”.

Though the record is fairly clear when it comes to Trump’s passion for vengeance, it remains an open question whether he actually maintains a comprehensive, up-to-the-minute catalog of the haters and losers he wants to destroy.  (A White House spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.) It seems unlikely — but, of course, it wouldn’t be a first. Richard Nixon’s aides famously compiled an “enemies list,” the stated purpose of which was to “use the available federal machinery to screw” political opponents. John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel, told me recently that he’d be shocked if Trump didn’t have something similar on hand. “The envy these men have is blended with their desire for revenge.”

Whether or not such a list exists today, there are clear signs that Trump and his team are keeping track of their enemies. Last month, The Washington Postreported that more than 100 national-security veterans in the GOP establishment are said to be “blacklisted” from administration jobs because they signed a public letter during the campaign opposing Trump’s candidacy. In another episode, the president-elect aggressively campaigned behind the scenes to unseat a state party chairman in Ohio who had fought him during the election.

woody-guthrieThe one thing we do have is a tremendous number of leaks.  He may be shutting off the recorders when he speaks with his other Boss, rasPutin, but his staff leaks the particulars of everything. The interesting thing here is that these leaks appear to be akin to whistle blowing which is really unusual in the early days of an administration.

The breadth of the leaks has surprised — and, of course, delighted — journalists, who say it gives the public an unfiltered view of what those in power are thinking and doing. The leaks of Trump’s calls to Turnbull and Peña Nieto may have been the most surprising of all; it’s rare for transcripts of presidential phone calls or details of meetings with foreign leaders, especially potentially embarrassing exchanges, to leak so soon afterward.

“Given Trump’s erratic nature and lack of experience, especially in foreign affairs, these leaks may be more important than ever,” says David Corn, a reporter with the muckraking Mother Jones magazine. “They give us a sense of how he’s doing his job” and what important advisers such as Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner are telling him to do.

Other reporters say the leaks reflect a certain degree of chaos within the new administration, with factions warily circling one another. At the top of the organization is an executive who has himself flouted White House norms, which may be setting a certain tone. “I tend to think chaos begets chaos begets chaos, and that’s what we’re seeing here,” said a reporter familiar with some of the senior players.

But others see the leaks as whistleblowing — an effort to expose Trump’s initiatives before they become policy.

Another creepy player in the West Wing besides the shadow Putin and Bannon cabal is Stephen Miller.  This dude is a nightmare and was central to the Alt-Right EO banning Muslims from basically powerless countries entry in to the US.

The gossip in Washington is that this is a classic palace intrigue story; two axes of power in a dysfunctional White House, taking aim at each other in the press. The unusual bit is that instead of the same old set of operators, this crew includes nationalist ideologues like Miller and Bannon who took unconventional paths to power. The pair came together over their ideological harmony on immigration, and their background in a no-holds-barred kind of politics aimed at uprooting exactly the kind of Republican Priebus represents: establishment Chamber of Commerce types who, after 2012, tried to push immigration reform and legalization of undocumented immigrants as a way to bring more voters of color into the party.

“You put the ideologues on one side of the office and the statists on the other, what the fuck do you think is going to happen?” asked one source close to Miller, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Miller, this source said, is essentially being outplayed: “He doesn’t know anyone in our world. Reince, of course, knows everybody.”

Leaks out of the administration have also been unflattering to Miller. The explosive lede of a recent New York Times story asserted that Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly and other top DHS officials were kept in the dark on the executive order until Trump was signing it, and a Los Angeles Timesstory reported that Miller “effectively ran” a National Security Council meeting about the order—an extremely unorthodox move, and one sure to ruffle feathers among more experienced officials. (Miller has denied this.)

16640778_10106902923053895_3100047314322463392_nRobert Kagan–writing for Foreign Policy–suggests we’re backing into World War 3. That’s a frightening thought that haunts me daily.

Think of two significant trend lines in the world today. One is the increasing ambition and activism of the two great revisionist powers, Russia and China. The other is the declining confidence, capacity, and will of the democratic world, and especially of the United States, to maintain the dominant position it has held in the international system since 1945. As those two lines move closer, as the declining will and capacity of the United States and its allies to maintain the present world order meet the increasing desire and capacity of the revisionist powers to change it, we will reach the moment at which the existing order collapses and the world descends into a phase of brutal anarchy, as it has three times in the past two centuries. The cost of that descent, in lives and treasure, in lost freedoms and lost hope, will be staggering.

Americans tend to take the fundamental stability of the international order for granted, even while complaining about the burden the United States carries in preserving that stability. History shows that world orders do collapse, however, and when they do it is often unexpected, rapid, and violent. The late 18th century was the high point of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent fell suddenly into the abyss of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as revolutions in communication and transportation knit economies and people closer together. The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war. Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable.

We’ve got some really strange things going on all over the place.  CNN is actually considering permanently banning White House Mommy over “serious credibility issues”.  Is this the first step at the press finally realizing they fight the propaganda and “alternative facts”?

Over the weekend, CNN pointedly turned down an offer from the White House to have Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appear on its Sunday shows — and a new report claims that might be a permanent arrangement.

According to the New York Times, CNN executives have “serious questions” about Conway’s credibility, as she has consistently pushed what she herself has called “alternative facts,” such as the nonexistent “Bowling Green massacre” that was roundly mocked last week.

The Times notes that media critics such as New York University professor Jay Rosen have called on networks to bar Conway from their shows due to her repeated use of falsehoods, so it’s possible CNN could be just the first network to decline offers to have Conway on their shows.

c3yqndivcaareg_Evidently, that  wasn’t the first time she inkled Bowling Green Massacre despite her insistance now that it was a momentary word gaffe. Cosmopolitan reports she said it in an interview with them on Jan, 29,  This continues her career of making shit up.

Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Friday to walk back her comments on MSNBC’s Hardball about a nonexistent terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However, this wasn’t the first time she used the words “Bowling Green massacre” in an on-the-record conversation with a reporter.

In an earlier interview with Cosmopolitan.com, she not only used this same phrase but also went a step further in describing the actions of the two Iraqi men involved in the case to which she was referring.

Defending the president’s executive order banning non-U.S. citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country for 90 days on Hardball With Chris Matthews, Conway invoked what she called the “Bowling Green massacre.”

“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she told Matthews.

Neither of these are remotely true. When do Trump Voters finally realize they got played? Fact Checkers and ACLU Lawyers appear to be the only growth industry in the Trumpf World DisOrder.

So, I was working last night and even if I wasn’t, the Super Bowel (sic with a reason) would be the last display of Panem et Circenses that would attract me any way. But, Gaga did a fantastic job which I still haven’t seen but I am giving a nod to with all my Guthrie stuff. Yes, This Land is Your Land is a radical song if you sing all the Lyrics. And Woody Guthrie has a history with the Trumps that’s about as bad as you’d think.

This Land Is Your Land
Pete Seeger
This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled, and I followed my footsteps
To the sparking sands of her diamond deserts,
All around me a voice was sounding,
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, then I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
One bright sunny morning, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if,
This land was made for you and me.
Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
Was a great big sign that said, “Private Property, ”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking my freedom highway,
Nobody living can make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.
Maybe you’ve been working as hard as you’re able,
But you’ve just got crumbs from the rich man’s table,
And maybe you’re thinking, was it truth or fable,
That this land was made for you and me.
Woodland and grassland and river shoreline,
To everything living, even little microbes,
Fin, fur, and feather, we’re all here together,
This land was made for you and me.
This land is your land, but it once was my land,
Until we sold you Manhattan Island.
You pushed our Nations to the reservations,
This land was stole by you from me

Songwriters: Woody Guthrie

This Land Is Your Land lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

Vanity Fair mentions how edgy her performance was because it seems to have completely gone over the heads of the MSM. Why do I find myself quoting women’s magazines and Teen Vogue these days for real political analysis. Riddle me that!

According to Guthrie’s son, Arlo, Woody wrote the song in anger as a response to “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin, which Guthrie hated. We don’t often sing the latter, angrier verses of This Land in schools—nor did Gaga during the show. But as Arlo told The New Yorker in 2004: “He wanted me to know what he originally wrote, so it wouldn’t be forgotten.” The New Yorker further explains Guthrie’s political evolution:

Guthrie’s inchoate socialist leanings grew into a deep commitment to the labor movement and to the social and political adventurism of the American Communist Party. (Guthrie never joined the Party—his independence was such that he “was not affiliated with anything,” according to his sister Mary Jo; he did follow the Party line, however, down to belittling Roosevelt as a warmonger during the period of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, and he wrote a column called “Woody Sez,” in hillbilly dialect, for the C.P.U.S.A. organs People’s World and Daily Worker.) The first of Guthrie’s three wives, Mary, lamented his politicization as “his downfall as an entertainer,” and she had a point: the more he focussed on rousing the masses, the less he pleased the crowd. Guthrie’s modest popular following diminished; at the same time, through politics, he found his voice.

Gaga no doubt knew exactly what she was doing when she picked that song to open her performance—and though she may have left the edgier verses out, its inclusion still served as something of dog whistle to the protestors who have been singing it in the street over the past few weeks.

If you want to see what the Drumpfocracy has been up to for the last two week you should check out this list from NPR. Rumor has it NPR has gone over to the dark side.

President Trump’s first two weeks in office have been a sprint, not the start of a marathon. If the rapid pace and, sometimes, hourly developments of executive orders, news, controversies and more have left you exhausted, you’re not alone. If you’re finding it hard to remember just everything that’s transpired too, we’re here for that, too.

Meanwhile, enjoy the day, the now, and Gaga!  We may not have much left of it by summer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: The Great Pretenders

183856_600Good Afternoon!

It’s just another day in upside down world. Among the strange things going on today are a bizarre terror attack made up from whole cloth by White House Mommy who seems to be losing grip on reality. Conway has been telling serious whoppers for some time.  Is the pressure to create a narrative that fits the insanity finally getting to her already slim grasp on reality?

Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway made a statement during a TV interview Thursday that pricked the ears of fact-checkers everywhere.

She told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:”I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. It didn’t get covered.”

First of all, Obama didn’t ban the Iraqi refugee program.

Second, there’s no such thing as the Bowling Green massacre.

Conway later clarified that she was referencing the case of two Iraqis — Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi — who lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Both were granted refugee status and entered the United States in 2009.

“On @hardball@NBCNews@MSNBC I meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’ as reported here,” she said, before linking to an ABC news story on the case.

They were arrested in May 2011 on a series of terrorism charges and were sentenced two years later after pleading guilty.

The two men were never planning on committing an act of terrorism on US soil. Instead, they were trying to help get weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq. They were terrorists who should not have been allowed in the country, but they weren’t planning an attack in the United States. And they didn’t kill anyone in Bowling Green (or anywhere else in the US).

danzigerconwaydogtrainer_1000_590_378It’s amazing to me that we basically have an administration that says anything and everything and does anything it wants to without any shame. I’m not even sure any of them know how to feel shame or when it’s appropriate!

The most disturbing thing the narrative that ignores the role that young white ‘radicalized’ –and Christian–men play in acts of terrorism in this country. Abi Wilkinson–writing for the UK Guardian–explains the role of the “manosphere” and its horrible connection to misogyny, racism, and Fascist elements in the US.  It’s a straight line from this cesspool of angry white men to Bannon and his ilk.

For several years now, I’ve had a dark and fairly unusual hobby. When I’m alone and bored and the mood strikes me, I’ll open up my laptop and head for a particularly unsavoury corner of the internet.

No, not the bit you’re thinking of. Somewhere far worse. That loose network of blogs, forums, subreddits and alternative media publications colloquially known as the “manosphere”. An online subculture centred around hatred, anger and resentment of feminism specifically, and women more broadly. It’s grimly fascinating and now troubling relevant.

In modern parlance, this is part of the phenomenon known as the “alt-right”. More sympathetic commentators portray it as “a backlash to PC culture” and critics call it out as neofascism. Over the past year, it has been strange to see the disturbing internet subculture I’ve followed for so long enter the mainstream. The executive chairman of one of its most popular media outlets, Breitbart, has just been appointed Donald Trump’s chief of strategy, and their UK bureau chief was among the first Brits to have a meeting with the president-elect. Their figurehead – Milo Yiannopoulos – toured the country stumping for him during the campaign on his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. These people are now part of the political landscape.

On their forums I’ve read long, furious manifestos claiming that women are all sluts who “ride the cock carousel” and sleep with a series of “alpha males” until they reach the end of their sexual prime, at which point they seek out a “beta cuck” to settle down with for financial security. I’ve lurked silently on blogs dedicated to “pick-up artistry” as men argue that uppity, opinionated, feminist women – women like myself – need to be put in their place through “corrective rape”.

crowej20170123_lowThis hateful movement is so in with the White House at the moment that Milo Yiannopoulos is attending White House Press Briefings.  Just a few days ago he was the source of a series of protests that turned violent at Berkley.

Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative provocateur and Breitbart News columnist, claims he is going to attend the White House press briefing on Friday.

“I’ll be there,” Yiannopoulos said in an email to Yahoo News.Yiannopoulos said he didn’t know whether he would get to ask White House press secretary Sean Spicer a question at the briefing. He previously attended a briefing last March.

Yiannopoulos asked former White House press secretary Josh Earnest about his belief that Facebook and Twitter are “punishing conservative and libertarian points of view.”The briefing comes at the end of a week when a speech Yiannopoulos planned to deliver at University of California, Berkeley was canceled amid violent protests. President Trump responded to the demonstrations with a tweet on Thursday morning that seemed to suggest he might pull federal funds from the university.

189221_600There have been rumors that Trump’s administration is trying to redefine law enforcement efforts to stop mass attacks in this country to just ones perpetrated by those professing faith in Islam.  This has not be confirmed yet but the Snopes site has outlined some sources where speculation as to what is meant by “News reports in February 2017 suggested that President Trump may revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program so that it focuses solely on Islamic terror threats.”  Follow this link to several articles that are worth reading including the original Reuters piece.

What we do know is that we’re discussing completely made up Terror Threats and the latest which is a knife attack by a solo actor at the Louvre in Paris rather than the White Supremicist Trump Supporter than killed 6 people at a Canadian Mosque.  We have yet to hear the White House show any sympathy for those victims.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned that the attack that killed an 8 year old girl, many women, and a US soldier was rejected by the Obama administration as a no go because there wasn’t adequate intelligence.  We’re finding out more and the details aren’t pretty at all.  The Trump Team owns this mess and as BB reported yesterday, Bannon and Kushner were part of the decision. There’s also been no apology on the death of so many noncombatants. As my friend Joshua Holland put it: “Imagine a Dem launching a raid w/ inadequate prep and not even monitoring it as it went to Hell, killing a seal and women and children.”

Meanwhile, the one shock of the day is that Hair Furor has told the Israelis to knock off the settlements which is sure to make waves with Bibi, et al.  Bibi was about the only leader Trump had yet to tick off other than Vladimir Putin. That has changed with this announcement.

The White House warned Israel on Thursday to cease settlement announcements that are “unilateral” and “undermining” of President Donald Trump’s effort to forge Middle East peace, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post.

For the first time, the administration confirmed that Trump is committed to a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict negotiated between the parties.

cb011617daprI’m still trying to figure this one out.  But, I’m not relying on the Media. Only The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have pulled out of The White House Correspondents dinner.  I would hope for a rather large boycott of Nerd Prom but I’m not counting on it this year.

This year, though, the decision of whether to host a soiree pinned to the April 29 dinner is just a touch more… complicated than in the past. Although the dinner is put on by the White House Correspondents Association and is ostensibly about raising money for scholarships, some media types worry about the appearance of yukking it up with a president who has been openly hostile to the press (make that “failing piles of garbage”) and are thinking harder about their party plans.

“I can understand how the media, which host the dinner — that serves a philanthropic purpose — are struggling,” said one person at a news organization that typically hosts a WHCD-related event.

Vanity Fair and the New Yorker have pulled out of their traditional parties this year, the New York Times reported on Friday. The soirees hosted by those publications are among the most glittery celebrity draws of the weekend — the kind of confabs where you might spot Robert DeNiro chatting with John Kerry or run into Emma Watson at the bar — some dinner observers think their decision to cancel was at least in part influenced by the fact that a WHCD under a Trump administration will attract few Hollywood types. (Bloomberg News, which had co-hosted with Vanity Fair, will reportedly continue to host its afterparty.)

I’m horrified that Dodd Frank is about to be taken apart. This is the worst news to me this week. Hold on to your wallets.

I’m not sure what to even say about that but expected it given how many billionaires and Goldman Sachs execs are way up there in the West Wing chain of command.  Maybe this covers it.

The last bit of sad news I have to report is this.   Feisty and wonderful Ruline Steininger the Clinton supporter from Iowa died yesterday at 103 never having seen her dream of a Hillary and Woman president.

On a cold February night last year, 102-year-old Ruline Steininger caucused for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, determined to witness history and help elect the country’s first female president.

“I’ve got a big job ahead of me … I’ve got to live,” she said at the time. “After that, OK, I can die if I want to, but I’m going to live until she’s elected.”

At this point, I just want the country to survive. I want us to survive.  I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?