Monday Reads: A Slow start to a Long Week

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m hoping we get good news this week on Mueller Friday. I am certainly wishfully thinking we’ll get more perp walks with all those sealed indictments out there.  There’s something making the Twitter Troll in Chief nervous because he’s sure been active today.  It takes a lot of asshole to rage at a dying old man just because he says he misses the last republican president.  He has said worse before.

Plus, there’s some news about more of Trump sexual assault exploits during his campaign–err Russian based usurpation–during 2016. He’s also called Spike Lee a racist for his Oscar Speech of all things.  Doesn’t he have a country to actually run or something?  Or a North Korea play date to plan for?

One of the most serious and largely ignored issues so far this century has been the rise of white nationalism and terror.  Donald the white nationalist has certainly brought them out from their hidey holes.  An FBI report showed that many of the adherents came from military backgrounds.  We had a serious issue this month with a Coast Guard member. Will we finally see policy and laws to keep track and route these racists out of the military once and for all?  Dan Lamothe reports for WAPO with this hopeful headline: “House Democrats press the U.S. military about how it is screening for white nationalism and other extremism in the ranks”. The last thing we need to do is provide weapons training to potential domestic terrorists.

“Our hope is that these incidents are isolated events and are not indicative of a larger, systemic issue within the United States Armed Services,” the lawmakers wrote. “Beyond the extremes of domestic terrorism, we are additionally concerned with low level racism and other identity-based harassment that disrupts unit cohesion, impacts readiness, and degrades the ability of our servicemembers to protect our nation. Servicemembers who experience or witness racist or hateful behavior must be able to report such behavior without fear of repercussions.”

Hasson, 49, was arrested Feb. 15 in Silver Spring, Md., after an investigation that began last fall when a computer program the Coast Guard uses to search for insider threats identified suspicious behavior allegedly tied to him. He was charged with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of Tramadol, an opioid painkiller.

On Thursday, a judge ordered that he be held for 14 days while federal authorities consider bringing additional charges. Hasson’s attorney, Julie Stelzig, has argued that there was no indication he planned to carry out any violence and that it is not a crime to have negative thoughts.

Hasson had previously served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard in the late 1980s and 1990s. In a letter to a neo-Nazi quoted in his court filing, authorities said he wrote that he was a “long time White Nationalist” and had “been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”

A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, said Monday that Hasson’s secret security clearance was suspended Feb. 19, the day that news of his arrest became public.

“The Coast Guard takes active measures to prevent, detect, respond, and mitigate insider threats,” he said.

In their letter Monday, the lawmakers also noted that service members participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., in which white nationalists, neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other extremists gathered. Several were later identified as U.S. service members. In one case, a Marine — Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis — was court-martialed and separated from the military.

A Crew report details multiple crimes committed by Trump during his campaign and first year in office.

In a new report, A Campaign to Defraud, CREW combs through the facts behind these apparent crimes, based on admissions by two of President Trump’s likely co-conspirators and news reports, detailing how criminal law can already be applied to publicly known facts. Most of President Trump’s potential violations are related to illegal campaign contributions meant to cover up evidence of Trump’s affairs with two women, preventing voters from learning the truth about his behavior ahead of the election, though at least one continued well into his first year in office. The eight criminal offenses, including seven felonies, potentially committed by Trump include:

  • Causing American Media Inc. (AMI) to make and/or accepting (or causing his then lawyer Michael Cohen to accept) an unlawful corporate contribution related to Karen McDougal.
  • Two instances of causing Cohen to make and/or accepting an unlawful individual contributions related to Stephanie Clifford and February 2015 online polling.
  • Two instances of causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC’s failure to report contributions from AMI and Cohen related to McDougal and Clifford.
  • Causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
  • Making a false statement by failing to disclose liability to Cohen for the Clifford payment on his 2017 public financial disclosure form.
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.

“There has already been significant attention to the President’s possible exposure for obstruction of justice, but it is deeply troubling to discover that he also may have been personally involved in a whole other set of criminal offenses for causing or accepting illegal campaign contributions and then covering up those payments,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “These potential offenses highlight a concerted effort by the President and those around him to deprive the American people of information relevant to making informed election decisions, severely eroding public trust.”

A lawsuit filed by a former campaign staffer details sexual assault and battery committed by Candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. His life as a sexual predator undoubtedly continues. This is by Ronan Farrow writing for The New Yorker.

A staff member of Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida on Monday, alleging that she experienced “racial and gender discrimination” while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent. The claim related to the kiss may prove difficult to verify. Four people said that the campaign worker, Alva Johnson, told them about the incident afterward, but two other people, who Johnson said were present at the time of the kiss, told me that they did not see it. In a statement, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied that it had taken place.

The most legally significant aspect of Johnson’s suit may ultimately be something the complaint does not explicitly address: the pervasive use of nondisclosure agreements by Trump during his campaign and in his Administration. Johnson’s suit is at least the sixth legal case in which Trump campaign or Administration employees have defied their nondisclosure agreements. Three of those actions, including Johnson’s, were filed this month. Johnson, who was the campaign’s administrative field-operations director in Florida, signed a nondisclosure agreement that bars her from revealing any information “in any way detrimental to the Company, Mr. Trump, any Family Member, any Trump Company or any Family Member company.” Johnson’s attorney, Hassan Zavareei, said, “We expect that Trump will try to use the unconscionable N.D.A. and forced arbitration agreement to silence Ms. Johnson. We will fight this strong-arm tactic.”

The White House referred questions about the nondisclosure agreements to Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of Trump’s reëlection campaign. He said in a statement, “The campaign takes our NDA agreements very seriously, and will enforce them aggressively if they are breached.” Johnson said that she considers the issues raised by her suit important enough to merit breaching the contract. “I am suing because my work holds the same value as the work of my white male counterparts,” Johnson said, in an interview. “I am suing because this predatory behavior should not be minimized, especially when committed by the most powerful man in the world.”

The Daily Beast has some interesting scuttlebutt: “Trump Tells His Lawyers: Stay for the Coming Legal Hellscape. The president has made private admissions that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.”  News Break ! Serial criminal under multiple investigations suddenly figures out that they have his number!

Donald Trump has signaled to his inner circle that even he knows Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his investigation will be a new beginning, not a dramatic end, for Trumpworld’s eclectic legal hellscape.

The president made clear to his outside legal team, which includes Rudy Giulianiand Jay Sekulow, that he didn’t want his lawyers going anywhere—even after the Mueller probe ends. The conversations served as a private admission that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.

The president broached the topic of keeping his team together starting late last year, according to two sources familiar with the exchanges, by discussing other legal woes he might face after the Special Counsel’s Office submits its report to the Department of Justice

Trump’s focus at the time? The Southern District of New York. The jurisdiction, known as SDNY, is currently looking into matters involving the president. Those cases have long been considered by Trump’s close allies as a far graver potential threat than the Mueller investigation.

Details about Trump and his family business could be laid bare for public scrutiny as Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and self-described fixer, heads to the Hill to testify this week. He is set to answer questions regarding Trump’s debts and payments, compliance with federal disclosure requirements, tax laws, campaign finance laws, and potentially fraudulent practices by the Trump foundation.

Meanwhile, Assholes have to be assholes.

Harry Reid gave an interview to CNN and minced no words.

Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has news he is eager to spread: He is feeling “very good.”

The former US Senator from Nevada was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich wrote last month after an interview with Reid that he “does not have long to live.”

But make no mistake: this Harry Reid is still the same former boxer and political street fighter I covered for decades in the US Senate.
A searing critic of President George W. Bush and his administration, Reid now says in the age of Trump, he wishes for Bush again “every day,” saying Bush would be “Babe Ruth” compared to the current president.

In an apparent reaction to the interview Monday morning, Trump returned the spars, tweeting that Reid got “thrown out” (he retired) and was working to “put a good swing on his failed career.”

Since the 2016 presidential election, Reid has been colorful in criticizing Trump. He called the now-President everything from a “con man” to a “human leech” to a “big fat guy.” He is especially proud of using the word “amoral” in his New York Times Magazine interview because he says it resulted in a boost of googling the dictionary definition of the word.

I asked him if he has anything nice to say about the President. He pondered that question hard, took time to look for an answer and after a pregnant pause, finally replied, “I just have trouble accepting him as a person, so frankly I don’t see anything he’s doing right.

Give ’em hell Harry!

So, yeah, he’s headed to Vietnam to embarrass us on the world stage yet again.  The BBC seems to show the level of diplomatic thought he displays in this lede: “Trump: North Korea ‘could be great power’ without nuclear weapons”.  Um, no, just NO.  So are your plans for the week watching Trump be duped there or keeping your eye on the mess that keeps emerging from his criminal acts here?   Nixon lite any one?

He reiterated that he was “in no rush” to press for North Korea’s denuclearisation. “I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy,” he said.

The Singapore summit was historic as the first meeting between a sitting US president and a leader of North Korea, but the agreement the two men signed was vague on detail. Little has been done since about their stated goal – finding a way to get nuclear weapons off the Korean peninsula.

The president’s latest remarks come on the eve of his departure for Vietnam, and are being seen as a bid to manage expectations.

So, what exactly is he gambling on?  This is from The Atlantic and the keyboard of  Uri Friedman.

Trump’s negotiators have thus been left in a bind: The only way to make major progress under such circumstances is to get the U.S. and North Korean leaders in a room, but they can’t get them in a room without taking a high-risk gamble.

That’s what Trump’s meeting with Kim in Vietnam, on February 27–28, amounts to. At best, the two leaders will achieve a breakthrough on peace and denuclearization that has eluded their predecessors for decades. At worst, the United States will reward North Korea without reducing the danger it poses. Somewhere in the middle would be a repeat of the leaders’ first summit in Singapore last June: a spectacle with little of substance to show for it.

“Both leaders are free to put aside their briefing books—assuming they even look at them—and move according to their instincts and sense of the possible. Bureaucracies and advisors working with kings, emperors and presidents have known that for centuries,” wrote Stanford’s Robert Carlin, a North Korea scholar who recently held the most detailed discussion yet with Trump’s special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, on the administration’s vision for diplomacy with Kim.

“Many experts would be more comfortable with the working-level process leading, possibly and eventually, to the summit,” he added. “But we have the reverse, and no one really knows what it will mean to ski downhill from the top of Mt. Everest.”

Well, that’s a metaphor for ya!

So, there’s no panic inducing news today.  Not yet any way!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: New Years Wish

^My New Year’s Wish ^

 

 

Now for some interesting tweets:

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the Kelly interview this morning:

 

 

 

And I want to end with this:

Fuck Yes!

And what is with all this Beto shit! Stacy Abrams ran a hell of a campaign…and came damn close to winning, even with all the possible illegal voter suppression that Kemp succeeded in achieving while acting as Secretary of State and running for Governor. She has a future ahead of her, but like Harris…she is a black woman.

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: “Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

 

 

A lot of shit went down this week, the reason I chose to highlight the quote up top is simply because of the key word: Regime.

Many news outlets made quite a point about Mike Pompeo’s Freudian slip, referring to the tRump Administration as “this regime.”

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER Senate Grills Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 4:30-5p ET CNN.com – Transcripts

“Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

Now, I read the transcript…link above, and honestly…I don’t know what the fuck “regime” Pompeo is talking about; so much bullshit is spewing from his mouth. But if he is indeed referring to tRump…he spoke the words we all know to be true.

I think the following sentiment has been mentioned before:

 

Take a look at this thread, it deals with Stein and Sanders and Tad Devine…and only strengthens my belief in #FuckBernieSanders :

Here is another long thread to check out, about my state…Georgia and the asshole named Kemp currently running for Governor:

A few tweets that continue to question the 2016 elections.

Here are some associations with tRump and his “friends” ….including the folks that perhaps Putin may have wanted to be excluded from sanctions?

Treasury May Drop Sanctions on a Company Owned by One of Putin’s Allies – Mother Jones

The Trump Administration may lift sanctions on a major Russian company founded by one of Vladimir Putin’s top allies.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin told reporters during G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers last week, that the department may remove sanctions on Rusal, an international aluminum company that controls an estimated 6 percent of the global market that has long been controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a Putin confidant who has been implicated in suspected coordination between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but he has repeatedly denied involvement. As Reuters reported, the department is mulling the move in the wake of a sharp increase in aluminum prices that followed Trump‘s imposition of a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

“The objective was to impact the oligarchs, not to impact the hardworking people of Rusal as a result of the sanctions,” Mnunchin told CNN, which reported the comments on Friday.

In April, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Deripaska and Rusal, along with 24 other Russians, in a delayed action aimedat punishing Russia for interfering the 2016 election. Under the sanctions, the US assets of the individuals and firms listed are frozen, and American citizens are barred from doing business with them. Deripaska was specifically singled out for “having acted or purported to act for, or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

Updates on tRump’s crimes against humanity:

The latest on that 6 year old who was assaulted at a detention center…she has been reunited with her family.

A 6-Year-Old Detainee Was Reportedly Made to Sign a Responsibility Form After She Was Allegedly Sexually Abused at a Facility | Teen Vogue

A 6-year-old girl was allegedly sexually abused while at an Arizona-based detention center, The Nation reports. The child, who The Nation refers to as D.L., reportedly left Guatemala with her mother because of gang violence; they were separated at the U.S. border on May 24, as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The 6-year-old was then placed in Casa Glendale, a detention center run by Southwest Key Programs.

According to The Nation, D.L.’s father (who lives in California) received a phone call from Southwest Key on June 11, telling him that another child in the detention center had allegedly “fondled” his daughter and other children. Mark Lane, a spokesperson representing D.L.’s family, told The Nation that the 6-year-old’s father was instructed “not to worry” because “Southwest Key was changing some of its protocols and such abuse would not happen again.” (The report notes that several weeks later, D.L.’s father received another phone call, alerting him to a second instance of alleged abuse by the same suspect.)

The Nation also reports that D.L. was asked to sign a form that was part of the detention center’s “intervention protocol.” The form, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, noted that D.L. was instructed to maintain her “distance from other youth involved,” and that she was made aware it was her “responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries with peers/workers.” The document also noted that it was D.L.’s “responsibility to report sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or inappropriate sexual behavior.”

 

 

Boston Boomer mentioned this yesterday in the comments:

 

But this is really the disgusting part:

How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight

07_catholic hospitals_GEOGRAPHY 4x3_rev

Almost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.

The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?

In a growing number of communities around the country, especially in rural areas, patients and physicians have access to just one hospital. And in more and more places, that hospital is Catholic. That sounds innocuous — a hospital is a hospital, after all. But Catholic hospitals are bound by a range of restrictions on care that are determined by religious authorities, with very little input from medical staff. Increasingly, where a patient lives can determine whether Catholic doctrine, and how the local bishop interprets that doctrine, will decide what kind of care she can get.

This is worrying news:

I lit candles for Lewis this morning…I hope he gets better…

 


Monday Reads: Hello Darkness, my old friend

Traditional New Orleans Jazz funeral in the 1970s

Well, it’s another day to find out how low the party and appointments of KKKremlin Caligula can go and it’s low.  It’s about as low as the nadir of morality set by the monster himself.  Today’s news isn’t pleasant at all from any vantage point.  I’m reminded that death is a natural part of life and one that every one tries to ignore but must face.  I’d like to give a jazz funeral for some of these items, but I’m having a hard time celebrating the life before the loss.

Today, is our first day without Net Neutrality. Any of us that have been on the internet a long time–1981 for me–will know that everything use to be much freer, less commercial, and less ridden with stalkers.  I don’t miss the old modem that required a telephone ear/mouth piece.  I don’t miss having to direct dial to most sites.  I also do not miss that the only graphics you would ever see were in either gold and green and entirely composed of characters.  I do miss the days before AOL let all their subscribers lose on the web and there is much we will miss with the death of Net Neutrality. This is from Slate.

Monday, June 11, is the first day of the post-net neutrality internet. In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era rules that prohibit internet companies from slowing down or speeding up access to certain websites, but it took about six months for the repeal to get a sign-off from the Office of Management and Budget and for the new rules to be published in the federal register. Beginning, well, now, your internet access could—emphasis on could—feel dramatically different than it did yesterday.

Under the new network neutrality rules, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are allowed to throttle traffic that travels over their network or even block access to entire websites as long as the companies alert their subscribers in their terms of service that they reserve the right to do so. But since most people in the United States don’t have more than one or two internet providers to choose from for broadband service, that means if users don’t wish to accept those terms, many won’t have anywhere else to go for their internet. Without net neutrality rules stopping them, internet providers will also be able to charge websites a fee to reach users faster.

Those internet providers stand to win the most from the net neutrality repeal, since they’ll be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll, collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want priority access to users. Already-powerful, deep-pocketed companies that can afford to pay for the fast-lane service, like Facebook or Yelp could wind up in a position to set the price, relegating smaller companies, nonprofits, or struggling news organizations to what is, in effect, a slower internet.

Leo Touchet, Jazz Funeral No. 70 (New Orleans, Louisiana) (1969)

We’re seeing another nail in the coffin of voting rights.  Today’s death blow came from the Supreme Court of the United States and yes, you know the ones that did it to us. This is from Buzzfeed‘s Court Reporter Chris Geidner:”The Supreme Court Just Upheld Ohio’s Aggressive Process For Purging Voters From The Rolls. The court split 5–4 on ideological grounds.”

The Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s system for purging inactive voters from the rolls — a decision that could lead other states to implement its aggressive procedure that can be triggered after a person fails to vote in one federal election.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote Monday’s 5–4 decision for the court, which was split along ideological lines.

Under Ohio’s system, voters who do not vote in a two-year period are sent a notice from the state. If they do not return the notice and then fail to vote for the next four years, their voter registration is canceled.

The Supreme Court held that the state’s process did not violate federal law.

Ohio had argued that its process was based on a provision of the National Voter Registration Act that allows states to remove people from voting rolls based on the grounds that they moved.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute, which sued the state, argued that the state, in fact, violated a different provision — which says that a person cannot be removed from voter rolls simply for failing to vote.

The court ruled that the state only uses the failure to vote “as a rough way of identifying voters who may have moved,” but that it actually begins the removal process by sending “a preaddressed, postage prepaid card to these individuals asking them to verify that they still reside at the same address.”

The court rejected the challengers’ argument that Ohio’s system violates the “Failure-to-Vote Clause.” The clause, Alito wrote, “simply forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, and Ohio does not use it that way.”

Justice Stephen Breyer summed up the dissenting justices’ view that Monday’s decision was an exercise in circular reasoning.

Most of us are still swooning from the weekend that basically cut the United States away from its closest allies, friends, and countries that share the values of reason, justice, and modernity.  Have we just witnessed the murder of the post-World War 2 coalition of the world’s greatest economic and democratic powers?  From the keyboard of Jeffrey Goldberg writing for The Atlantic:  “A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: ‘We’re America, Bitch’. The president believes that the United States owes nothing to anyone—especially its allies.”

Many of Donald Trump’s critics find it difficult to ascribe to a president they consider to be both subliterate and historically insensate a foreign-policy doctrine that approaches coherence. A Trump Doctrine would require evidence of Trump Thought, and proof of such thinking, the argument goes, is scant. This view is informed in part by feelings of condescension, but it is not meritless. Barack Obama, whose foreign-policy doctrine I studied in depth, was cerebral to a fault; the man who succeeded him is perhaps the most glandular president in American history. Unlike Obama, Trump possesses no ability to explain anything resembling a foreign-policy philosophy. But this does not mean that he is without ideas.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked a number of people close to the president to provide me with short descriptions of what might constitute the Trump Doctrine. I’ve been trying, as part of a larger project, to understand the revolutionary nature of Trump’s approach to world affairs. This task became even more interesting over the weekend, when Trump made his most ambitious move yet to dismantle the U.S.-led Western alliance; it becomes more interesting still as Trump launches, without preparation or baseline knowledge, a complicated nuclear negotiation with a fanatical and bizarre regime that quite possibly has his number.

Trumpian chaos is, in fact, undergirded by a comprehensible worldview, a number of experts have insisted. The Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Atlantic contributor) Thomas Wright argued in a January 2016 essaythat Trump’s views are both discernible and explicable. Wright, who published his analysis at a time when most everyone in the foreign-policy establishment considered Trump’s candidacy to be a farce, wrote that Trump loathes the liberal international order and would work against it as president; he wrote that Trump also dislikes America’s military alliances, and would work against them; he argued that Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the U.S.; and, finally, he wrote that Trump has an innate sympathy for “authoritarian strongmen.”

We continue to discover how deep Russian interference was in our election in 2016.  This is horrifying and it shows how big money and big lobbyists are killing our democracy.

You should read the entire article but here’s the money line.

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

Less we forget, Matt Ygelisias writing for Vox reminds us that: “There’s actually lots of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. The untenability of the “no collusion” talking point.”   We also need a jazz funeral for the truth.  We’re victims of weaponized, industrial strength gaslighting.

“In all of this, in any of this, there’s been no evidence that there’s been any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday at his weekly press conference. “Let’s just make that really clear. There’s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did and making sure they don’t do it again.”

From Ryan’s perspective, it would be convenient if it were true that Robert Mueller’s investigation had turned up no evidence of collusion, but it simply isn’t.

Republicans from Donald Trump on down have made “no collusion” a mantra. The term itself is ill-defined in this context; you won’t find in the US code. But roughly speaking, the question is whether the campaign got involved with Russian agents who committed computer crimes to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The verdict on this is unclear. But there is certainly plenty of evidence pointing toward collusion; what you would call “probable cause” in a legal context, or what a journalist might simply consider reason to continue investigating the story. And the investigating thus far, both by special counsel Mueller and by journalists working on the story, has been fruitful. The efforts have continued to turn up contacts between Trumpworld and Putinland, cover-ups, and dishonesty.

Even as recently as Friday afternoon, we got new indictments charging Trump’s former campaign chair and his former GRU operative business partner with witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

It’s important, obviously, not to prejudge a case. It turns out that Saddam Hussein was acting like a man who was covering up a secret nuclear weapons arsenal because he didn’t want the world to know how weak his defenses really were.

By the same token, it’s certainly possible that the various Trump-Russia contacts never amounted to anything and that they’ve been consistently covered up for some reason otherthan an effort to hide collusion. But both the contacts that have been revealed so far and the deception used to deny their existence are certainly evidence of collusion — evidence that should be (and is being) pursued by the special counsel’s office and that should not be dismissed by the press or by elected officials.

Yglesias has documented a rather long list of fires and smoking guns.  Go check it out.  We definitely need to throw a jazz funeral for what’s left of the values the Republican party held and ran on for years.  This is from NBC News: “The GOP once championed alliances and free trade. Why is it silent now?”

But after a weekend when President Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak,” after he refused to sign the joint communique from the G-7 summit, and after a top Trump aide said “there’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door” — those same Republican leaders have been silent.

(What did Trudeau do, by the way, to earn that condemnation from Team Trump? He said that Canada would respond with reciprocal tariffs on the U.S. tariffs the Trump administration imposed on Canada — nothing he and his government haven’t said before, including on “Meet the Press” a week ago.)

The one exception to this GOP silence was Sen. John McCain, who tweeted: “To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

But other Republicans haven’t repeated that message, which is striking when free trade has been one of the GOP’s central tenets over the last few decades. And there’s only one explanation for that Republican silence: Trump has bullied the entire party into submission — well, at least those who will have to face voters again.

Today begins the frightening process of watching two madmen sit across the table to compare dick sizes.   My money is on the North Koreans.

As Rick Wilson says:  “Everything Trump touches dies.”  We have not attended our last funeral but let’s try to find ways to comfort ourselves in the small celebrations of our daily lives.   This includes all of my dear friends here on Sky Dancing who I consider the best of family.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: My Country has Dysfunctional Family Dynamics and one mean drunk Father in Charge

Just when you think it’s safe to turn the TV on …

Thursday night went out with another Dumpfster Fire Interview that is sure to cause us all to crawl back into our safe space.  Kremlin Caligula gave an unsupervised interview to the NYT  and it’s a doozy.  I don’t know if any of you ever grew up in a family with one parent who was almost always angry, given to spontaneous fits of temper, and generally could say something to make you feel smaller than a grain of salt but this is the only way I can describe our country’s relationship with its current placeholder in the White House.  He’s the mean drunk, angry father. We’re the family that knows the outbursts are at least daily events and they get worse. We have no idea how to make it go away we just hope some nice law enforcement official puts him away eventually before he kills some one.

Of course, the interview contained lie upon lie upon lie.  The Toronto Star counted 25 of them. That’s 1 false claim per half hour.  He’s still obsessed with the election and he is scared as shit about the Mueller investigation.

The Star is keeping track of every false claim Trump makes as president. As of Dec. 22, Trump had already made 978 false claims; adding the Times interview, the tally will pass the 1,000 mark in the next update.

Here’s every false claim Trump made in the interview:

1) “But I think it’s all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it … Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion.”

Democratic members of Congress have not said en masse that they are convinced that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Some have acknowledged that they have not seen evidence of collusion, but they have pointed out that the investigation is ongoing.

2) “And you’re talking about what Paul (Manafort) was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months? … Three and a half months.” 

Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for just under five months, from March 28, 2016 to his resignation on August 19, 2016.

3) “I saw (Democratic Sen.) Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.” 

Trump appeared to be referring, as he has in the past, to a November CNN interview with Feinstein — in which she did not declare that there is no collusion. Feinstein was specifically asked if she had seen evidence that the Trump campaign was given Democratic emails hacked by Russia. “Not so far,” she responded. She was not asked about collusion more broadly, and her specific answer made clear that she was referring only to evidence she has personally seen to date, not issuing a sweeping final judgment.

4) “She’s (Feinstein) the head of the committee.” 

Feinstein, a Democrat, is not the head of any committee: Republicans control Congress and thus lead the committees. She is the ranking member — the top Democrat — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

5) “So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion … starting with the dossier.” 

The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the dossier produced by a former British spy about alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump’s administration, seeking to turn the “collusion” allegation around on its opponents, has argued that the dossier, which was funded in part by the Clinton campaign, amounts to the “Clinton campaign colluding with Russian intelligence.” This is absurd on its face. Russian intelligence favoured Trump and tried to damage Clinton, U.S. intelligence agencies say; the British ex-spy was simply using Russian sources — who have not been identified — to attempt to figure out how Trump’s campaign was linked to the Russian government. Such research is not illegal or deceitful, and it does not come close to qualifying as the type of possible “collusion” investigators are probing with regard to the Trump campaign: coordination with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the election.

6) “ … it’s very hard for a Republican to win the Electoral College. O.K.? You start off with New York, California and Illinois against you. That means you have to run the East Coast, which I did, and everything else. Which I did and then won Wisconsin and Michigan. (Inaudible.) So the Democrats. … (Inaudible.) … They thought there was no way for a Republican, not me, a Republican, to win the Electoral College … The Electoral College is so much better suited to the Democrats (inaudible).” 

This claim that the Electoral College is tilted in favour of Democrats — and that “they” think it is impossible for a Republican to win the election in 2016 —- is obvious nonsense. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans.

7) “They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the Electoral College.” 

Democrats, of course, did not invent the “Russian story” for electoral purposes, nor is it a “hoax.” U.S. intelligence agencies say that the Russian government interfered in the election for the purpose of helping Trump win; that Russian interference was the original story, and Democrats were talking about it well before Election Day. Perhaps Trump is correct that there was no illegal collusion between his campaign and the Russians, but this matter is being investigated by a special prosecutor appointed by his own deputy attorney general, not “Democrats,” and many senior Republicans believe the investigation has merit.

8) “They (Democrats) thought it would be a one-day story, an excuse, and it just kept going and going and going.” 

This is simple nonsense. Democrats did not think that the question of Russian interference in the election on behalf of Trump, or the question of the Trump campaign’s relationship with those efforts, would be a “one-day story.”

Of course, that list goes on so go read it!

Axios presents evidence that Trump will be unchained in 2018. Heaven help all of us with PSTD!

If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it’s not Robert Mueller’s probe. It’s that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump’s actual instincts take over.

Next year will bring “full Trump,” said one person who recently talked to the president.
Trump has governed mostly as a conventional conservative — on tax cuts, his Supreme Court pick, and rolling back regulations. Most of his top advisers are fairly conventional conservatives, so that makes sense.

  • Most of those in his current decision-making circle — even if they’re not mainstream Republicans — are defending mainstream Republican principles like free trade and an internationalist view of foreign policy.
  • But top officials paint a different portrait of Trump when it comes to what he really wants on trade, immigration and North Korea — but has been tamped down by skeptical staff and Cabinet officials.

In private meetings:

  • Trump keeps asking for tariffs — on steel and aluminum, in particular. He wants a trade war, and has for many years. His economic and diplomatic advisers persuaded him to delay trade actions in 2017.
  • Those advisers recognize that the day of reckoning will come in 2018, regardless of whether economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who advocated restraint — stay or go.
  • Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin successfully persuaded Trump not to do anything rash while tax reform was being negotiated.
  • Trump also saw the advantage of trying to use that as leverage with China to get help on North Korea. He said yesterday in an interview with the N.Y Times: “China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?”
  • And he tweeted yesterday, in response to Chinese ships secretly delivering oil to North Korea: “Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”
  • NEW: Look for Trump to take action on trade in the next month. It probably won’t be next week, so as not to disrupt the afterglow of the tax cut. But nothing is final.
  • Trump still wants his wall, and tighter restrictions on legal immigration. He’s a true believer on this stuff, and knows intuitively that it keeps his base stoked.
  • Trump seems most interested in discussing military options on North Korea in these meetings. He is surrounded by advisers who share his concern about the rogue state, but not his fixation on a military strike.
    • And some top officials have told us Trump’s belligerent rhetoric on the subject makes them nervous.
    • There is a reason the harshest assessments of Trump usually leak after North Korea meetings.

This interview basically let Trump be Trump.  He just wandered all over the place but always returned to the idea that Russia is a Democratic plot against his win but even if it did exist it’s no big deal and definitely not a crime.  I’ve seen toddlers with a better grasp of a logical argument.

President Trump in a new interview denied any collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, adding “even if there was, it’s not a crime.”

Speaking to The New York Times Thursday, Trump praised lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has argued that Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice because Trump has the right to fire the head of the bureau.

“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” Trump told the newspaper. “And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.”

“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” he continued. “But there’s no collusion.”

Trump also blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying it “makes the country look very bad.”

“It puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”

More like the sooner he’s out of office, the better it is for the country.  Charles Pierce says it all “Trump’s New York Times Interview Is a Portrait of a Man in Cognitive Decline.”

On Thursday, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago sat down with Michael Schmidt of The New York Times for what apparently was an open-ended, one-on-one interview. Since then, the electric Twitter machine–and most of the rest of the Intertoobz–has been alive with criticism of Schmidt for having not pushed back sufficiently against some of the more obvious barefaced non-facts presented by the president* in their chat. Some critics have been unkind enough to point out that Schmidt was the conveyor belt for some of the worst attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton emanating from both the New York FBI office and the various congressional committees staffed by people in kangaroo suits. For example, Schmidt’s name was on a shabby story the Times ran on July 23, 2015 in which it was alleged that a criminal investigation into HRC’s famous use of a private email server was being discussed within the Department of Justice. It wasn’t, and the Times’ public editor at the time, the great Margaret Sullivan, later torched the story in a brutal column.

Other people were unkind enough to point out that the interview was brokered by one Christopher Ruddy, a Trump intimate and the CEO of NewsMax, and that Ruddy made his bones as a political “journalist” by peddling the fiction that Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster had been murdered, one of the more distasteful slanders that got a shameful public airing during the Clinton frenzy of the 1990’s. Neither of those will concern us here. What Schmidt actually got out of this interview is a far more serious problem for the country. In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (the president’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (Would that someone on the panel had asked him. He’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic.” In the transcript of this interview, I hear in the president*’s words my late aunt’s story about how we all walked home from church in the snow one Christmas morning, an event I don’t recall, but that she remembered so vividly that she told the story every time I saw her for the last three years of her life.

In this interview, the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.) My guess? That’s part of the reason why it’s always “the failing New York Times,” and his 2016 opponent is “Crooked Hillary.”

In addition, the president* exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys–or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns. For example, a discussion on health-care goes completely off the rails when the president* suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation. So we get this.

He’s obviously obsessed with Mueller too  and of course, with Hillary, always with Hillary. Aaron Blake of WAPO focuses on some of his more bizarre thoughts on the Justice Department and the Mueller Investigation.

 

1. On special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: “It doesn’t bother me, because I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. … There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”

This might have been the newsiest bit from the interview. Trump seemingly contradicts many of his supporters by saying he thinks Mueller will be fair. Conservative media and Republicans in Congress have spent much of the past few weeks attacking the credibility of the Mueller investigation. Trump hasn’t really joined in that effort publicly, but he has attacked the FBI and the Justice Department.

2. “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”

And here’s the other side of the coin. In this quote, Trump seems to buy into what those same supporters have been arguing about his authority to control the Justice Department. This is a rather remarkable assertion of power, even as it’s not terribly surprising from a president who clearly has some authoritarian tendencies. It seems Trump is suggesting he can do things like fire Mueller if he wants to, even as he says he thinks Mueller is being fair and as the White House denies that is even being considered.

3. “I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that — I will say this: [Eric] Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. When you look at the IRS scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems they had — not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems — when you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.”

Trump begins this quote by saying, “I don’t want to get into loyalty,” but then he goes on to unmistakably suggest that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn’t been loyal enough to him — or at least that he hasn’t been as loyal as then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was to President Barack Obama. Add this to the list of quotes showing just how upset Trump remains with Sessions.

Kremlin Caligula has a most unAmerican viewpoint of these things that it’s almost difficult to believe he was ever schooled on American soil. Where does one get such blatantly unConstitutional notions? Oh, and that’s 3 of 11.

I have to agree though, the idea that he still thinks he’s running a nationally syndicated TV show in lieu of a nation is the most curious of all the quotes.  This is a man that simply is delusional and dangerous.  This is number 4.

4. On 2020: “Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there. Because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, the New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’”

I’ve long thought Trump believed this, but it’s remarkable to hear him say it out loud. It’s almost like he’s making a case to the media for why it should help him win reelection in 2020 and/or not be too tough on him. And it’s not the first time that he’s said something that seems to misunderstand the media’s role in American governance. Reports have long suggested Trump thought his media coverage would improve once he was elected president.

There’s seven more of these too go so check them out.  It’s just really a fall down a rabbit hole.  Is he the Mad Hatter or the March Hare? As always, Twitter rules the response to the Demon God of Twitter.

Thursday evening brought a surprise New York Times interview with President Donald TrumpTimes reporter Michael Schmidt was able to speak to the president at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. In an impromptu, free-wheeling, 30-minute conversation following Trump’s latest round of golf, the president insisted numerous times that there was no collusion with Russia while also maintaining that he feels Special Counsel Robert Mueller can be fair to him.

With the Timesposting excerpts from the transcript of the interview, Media Twitter had a field day posting their favorite bits from the president rambling off-the-cuff. Let’s face it — there are fewer things reporters and journalists love more than unchained Trump.

 

 

So, I really don’t want any one to lose their lunch and appetite for life because we obviously have a severely disturbed president in charge of our nuclear arsenal. But it is what it is, and he is what he is, and this is a blog that’s always been focused on policy and politics.

We are indeed a family that needs to uplift each other before this man destroys the lot of us and drives away all of our friends.  I suppose it has to be reiterated that Republicans are enabling all of this to oversee the looting of the USA by the donors. I also wonder what kind of kompromat that the Russians have on them through their hacking of the RNC and likely, other places.  I certainly think that the RNC must be worried.  I definitely think both Sessions and Graham must have dossiers filled with stuff and now I’m thinking Orin Hatch must be more of a wascally wabbit than any of us every supposed.

Try to stick to local happiness while we can.  I’m even finding that to be difficult given that the same enterprising rapers after our National Parks and Treasury have been at it with my neighborhood.  My property takes just went from an annual bill of about $750 to over $2000. I have no doubt that I have Air BnB to thank for that.  Pretty sure those idiots that still live here and are now renting rooms have had a similar experience.  There’s just something about the sound of stupid ass white people slitting their own throats that just endlessly appalls.

So, I’ll see you on New Year’s Day.  Let’s lift our prayers to all the Wisdom Energy in the Multiverse so that it sweeps over this nation like a Renaissance of Rational Thought. Resist!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?