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?

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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?


Friday Reads: The 1/4 Year of Living Dangerously (and surrounded by total chaos)

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Or what’s left of the morning and good in the world.

Drinking my morning coffee and reading the newspaper–now PC screen–is a habit I come by naturally. It’s a ritual my family followed for years.  Then, there was the follow-up ritual of turning on the evening news and reading the evening paper after my dad and others depending on who we were staying with in Kansas City that weekend. It could also include a grandfather or an uncle. It was something my mother did too.  I loved sitting on my Grandfather’s lap, smelling his cigar, and listening to him read the funnies to me in between pointing out all kinds of happenings. He was a Vice President of the Federal Reserve and ran the War Bond programs for a few states for both Wars.  He was a huge news hound.

For many years, it’s been a comforting ritual even though much of what I saw on black and white, then color, news programs and read on newsprint now followed by the bytes of light on my computer has not been all good. There have been scary times like the Cuban Missile Crisis or watching Civil Rights Demonstrators being badly beaten and seeing Southern Sheriffs turn dogs and hoses on children my age. That was horrifying to me. I was profoundly impacted by the war porn of Vietnam with the ghastly body count numbers that came out nightly. There was Watergate, Shock and Awe, assassinations, and planes crashing into the Twin Towers.  There were also men walking on the moon. All of these happened over decades.  It did not happen over the span of just a few months.  We have a 30 second news cycle. It’s full of awful, plentiful stories. You have to search to find the good.

Those of us in our twilight years can attest to being the generation that watched it all unfurl nearly live and then very live.  Until the last two months, I thought that I’d seen enough chaos, corruption, cruelty, and stupidity that I was inured to just about anything. I watched the Nixon Watergate hearings and rantings in High School. I saw the McCarthy hearings on film in my 8th grade American History class.  I’ve witnessed crazy Republicans, believe me. But, at the time, my nice staid Republican family–of which I was one for many years–felt that the few odds and sods that showed up ever so often were odd men out.  They’re not odd men out any more. They’re very much in and it seems like the doors of bedlam were opened so they could all run for office.

Media was also part of school. We watched “Biography” frequently or any number of documentaries on the school’s collection of TVs, VCRS, films and projectors, and the early broadcasts of PBS.  We had at least one day a week where we had to bring a newspaper article to discuss. Growing up in educated, upper middle class WASP America meant being educated and informed in my household. It meant voting and volunteering.  It meant making sure that we did things that represented the basic value of “to whom much is given, much is asked”.

I may have learned the lessons of Jesus with a Presbyterian minister who drove an orange convertible fiat, spent a hell of a lot of time on the golf course at the local, very expensive and exclusive country club, and had the most jaunty outfits you could imagine to include leather driving gloves and tweed caps, but I was sent on summers to do all kinds of work in Rural New Mexico.  I was taught the Beatitudes were the basis of my beliefs even though the Sunday sermons were usually illustrated by the pronouncement to think about these things when you’re in the locker room or the bridge room of the Country Club. Of course, that was the country club with no Jewish members, a rare number of Catholics, and black Americans only as employees.

I breathed rarefied air most of my life. But, I was not raised to be ignorant, cruel, or uniformed.  Now, I have found myself in a country where ignorance, cruelty, and propaganda rule the day and it has just about turned me into something I barely recognize. I’m drained. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to be around people I don’t know extremely well.

There are a lot of headlines today. I can barely deal with one of them.  After spending the entire year dehumanizing the Syrian people and showing abject loathing of suffering Syrian families that include “beautiful babies”, the  U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack.

The United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria overnight in response to what it believes was a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people.

At least six people were killed, Syria claimed, but the Pentagon said civilians were not targeted and the strike was aimed at a military airfield in Homs.

All but one of the missiles hit their intended target, one U.S. military official told NBC News. The other missile failed.

The strike completed a policy reversal for President Donald Trump — who once warned America to stay out of the conflict — and drew angry responses from Damascus and its main ally, Russia.

Yes. Kremlin Caligulia–most likely compensating for his tiny little fingers–pulled the US’s stockpile of phallic symbols out and blew up the maintenance crews and buildings of a Syrian Military Airbase. There’s evidence that the Russians were alerted and the Syrians knew beforehand.

Syrian military officials appeared to anticipate Thursday night’s raid on Syria‘s Shayrat air base, evacuating personnel and moving equipment ahead of the strike, according to an eyewitness.

Dozens of Tomahawk missiles struck the air base near Homs, damaging runways, towers and traffic control buildings, a local resident and human rights activist living near the air base told ABC News via an interpreter.

U.S. officials believe the plane that dropped chemical weapons on civilians in Idlib Province on Tuesday, which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights killed 86 people, took off from the Shayrat airbase.

The attack lasted approximately 35 minutes and its impact was felt across the city, shaking houses and sending those inside them fleeing from their windows. Both of the air base’s major runways were struck by missiles, and some of its 40 fortified bunkers were also damaged.

Local residents say the Russian military had used the air base in early 2016 but have since withdrawn their officers, so the base is now mainly operated by Syrian and Iranian military officers. There is also a hotel nearby where Iranian officers have been staying, though it was not clear whether it was damaged.

The eyewitness believes human casualties, at least within the civilian population, were minimal, as there was no traffic heading toward the local hospital.

So, it was mostly an empty gesture.  It was more likely another display of the decimation of Obama policy.  It was more Branding of Kremlin Caligula as tough asshole. You will notice that no Syrian children are on their way to our hospitals and the safety of our communities after that costly gesture.  There were a few crocodiles tears last night at Orange-Lago central where the Presidential announcement sounded like it came from a NAZI bunker at the end of the that long war.

The events of the past week, culminating in the decision by President Obama’s successor to launch a punitive strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons against civilians, prove a number of points, some that reflect well on Obama, and some that do not. The first is that the 2013 Obama-Putin deal to disarm Assad of his chemical weapons was a failure. It was not a complete failure, in that stockpiles were indeed removed, but Assad kept enough of these weapons to allow him to continue murdering civilians with sarin gas. The argument that Obama achieved comprehensive WMD disarmament without going to war is no longer, as they say in Washington, operative.

The events of the past week also prove that a core principle of the Obama Doctrine is dead. President Trump’s governing foreign policy doctrine is not easily discernible, of course. His recent statements about Syria—kaleidoscopic in their diversity—combined with his decision to order an attack, have half-convinced me that he is something wholly unique in the history of the presidency: an isolationist interventionist.

The Constitutionality of the action is in question since it’s an attack on the military of a foreign nation which is basically an act of war.

The first part asks whether the President has presumptive authority to use force unilaterally.  For OLC, this authority turns on whether the “national interest” vindicated by the use of force sufficiently important?  That sounds vague and easy to satisfy, but as we’ll see in a moment, OLC has (at least until the Syria strike) pointed to some objective limits.  If the president perceives that “national interest” would be vindicated by a use of force,  OLC says that he can presumptively use force abroad under his powers as “Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, for foreign and military affairs, as well as national security.”

However, OLC acknowledged “one possible constitutionally-based limit on this presidential authority to employ military force in defense of important national interests—a planned military engagement that constitutes a ‘war’ within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause may require prior congressional authorization.”  This second part of the test turns on the “anticipated nature, scope, and duration of the planned military operations.”  The idea is that relatively short-term and small-scale operations abroad are not “war” and thus do not implicate the Declare War clause, but larger-scale, longer-term operations might be “war” and thus might implicate the clause.

Applying this test to Syria, consider the “scale of operations” prong first.  The U.S. military last night fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria.  We don’t know whether or when it might strike again, and for now, at least, there appears to be no prospect of directing U.S. boots on the ground toward Syrian forces.  From the perspective of Executive branch precedent, air campaigns—especially short-term ones, and especially ones (like those involving cruise missiles or drones) that present practically no chance of American casualties—easily satisfy the “anticipated nature, scope and duration” test for not impinging on congressional prerogatives.  (As Matt Waxman and I explained, the Obama administration’s clarification of the president’s unilateral power to engaged in “limited” war from a distance was one of its central legal legacy’s related to war powers.)  As long as the military intervention in Syria is short term and limited and does not involve ground troops against Assad forces, it breaks no new legal ground.

The same cannot be said of the other prong of the test, which asks whether the President has authority to strike in the first place.  What is the important national interest in intervening in Syria?  No U.S. persons or property are at stake.  That fact alone distinguishes most executive branch precedents.  In the Libya opinion, OLC argued that “at least two national interests that the President reasonably determined were at stake here—preserving regional stability and supporting the UNSC’s credibility and effectiveness.”  The second interest—the “credibility and effectiveness” of a Security Council Resolution—is a controversial basis for justifying presidential unilateralism because it seems to substitute international institutional approval for congressional approval.  This line of reasoning  began with Truman’s unilateral initiation of the Korean war in response to North Korea’s international aggression.  In that instance, in 1950, the State Department argued (among other things) that the President as Commander in Chief could deploy U.S. armed forces, consistent with the Constitution, for the purpose of upholding the “paramount United States interest” in the “continued existence of the United Nations as an effective international organization.”  Moreover, the Kosovo precedent arguably extends this reasoning from the Security Council to NATO, which supported (and indeed conducted) the Kosovo strikes.

The administration continues to be unpredictable, contrarian of its own spoken or twittered words, and chaotic. How can a great country be ruled under these circumstances?

Just as chaos and treason ruled the Trump campaign, the Trump Administration is already jettisoning its bad personnel choices. Most of the real work is not being done by any one because no one has appointed those ‘any ones’ yet.  But, we already have more firings of people on the horizon with in the West Wing if you believe sources at Axios.

President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.

A top aide to Trump said he’s contemplating major changes, but that the situation is very fluid and the timing uncertain: “Things are happening, but it’s very unclear the president’s willing to pull that trigger.”

 Insiders tell me that the possibilities for chief of staff include:

  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who developed a bond with Trump as one of the earlier congressional leaders to support him, and remains a confidant.
  • Wayne Berman of Blackstone Group, a Washington heavy-hitter who was an Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, and a key adviser on eight presidential campaigns.
  • David Urban of the Washington advisory firm American Continental Group, and a former chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Urban helped Trump win an upset victory in Pennsylvania, and was in constant cellphone contact with the candidate throughout the campaign.
  • Gary Cohn, Trump’s economic adviser and the former #2 at Goldman Sachs, who has built a formidable team and internal clout.

The West Wing “Game of Thrones” has been raging ever since Trump took office. But the war between the nationalists and the moderates, led by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, burst into the open this week after Bannon was taken off the National Security Council, setting off a torrent of leaks against him.

Bannon called reports that he was ready to quit “100 percent nonsense.”

Just like no one bombed the Governor of Michigan for poisoning the children of Flint, no one will care as this President poisons the children of the Gulf for no particular reason than the greed of Tillerson and the like.  No one will likely mention that job growth is slowing.   Businesses hate uncertainty and any thing in the planning stage that can be halted likely will.

Meanwhile, Trump Princeling Jared has the highest security clearance while commiting acts of omission that would tank any one else’s credentials and clearance.

Trump isn’t keen on the first amendment as he’s gone after anonymous tweet accounts that find him disgusting.  Trump is well known for trolling then President Obama with some of the worst lies and slurs one can imagine.  He can dish it out but cannot take it.  Plus, he doesn’t realize he’s now subject to free speech rules.

Twitter Inc on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit to block an order by the U.S. government demanding that it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies.

Twitter cited freedom of speech as a basis for not turning over records about the account, @ALT_uscis. The account is claimed to be the work of at least one federal immigration employee, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court.

The acronym U.S. CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account describes itself as “immigration resistance.” Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and has promised to deport millions of illegal immigrants.

Following Trump’s inauguration in January, anonymous Twitter feeds that borrowed the names and logos of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies appeared to challenge the president’s views on climate change and other issues. They called themselves “alt” accounts.

Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio declined to comment on whether the government had demanded information about other accounts critical of Trump.

Twitter, which counts Trump among its active users, has a record of litigating in favor of user privacy.

I ran across an interesting article at Fusion that I’d like to share. It suggests that the current mess we’re in is due to an industry that makes a pot lying to white men.

If you want to understand intra-GOP warfare, the decision-making process of our president, the implosion of the Republican healthcare plan, and the rest of the politics of the Trump era, you don’t need to know about Russian espionage tactics, the state of the white working class, or even the beliefs of the “alt-right.” You pretty much just need to be in semi-regular contact with a white, reasonably comfortable, male retiree. We are now ruled by men who think and act very much like that ordinary man you might know, and if you want to know why they believe so many strange and terrible things, you can basically blame the fact that a large and lucrative industry is dedicated to lying to them.

It’s the basic explanation that old school Republicans thought they could radicalize their base and not expect the base to eventually turn on them.

But the complete and inarguable disaster of the Bush administration—a failure of the conservative movement itself, one undeniable even to many consumers of the parallel conservative media—and his abrupt replacement by a black man, caused a national nervous breakdown among the people who’d been told, for many years, that conservatism could not fail, and that all Real Americans agreed with them.

Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.

That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.

Now, we have a president whose media diet defines his worldview, interests, and priorities. He is not one of the men, like most of those Tea Party members of Congress, whose existing worldview determined his media diet—who sealed himself off from disagreeable media sources. He is, in fact, something far more dangerous: a confused old man who believes what the TV tells him.

My father spent many of his last years swallowing what Fox dished out and it took a lot of time on my part to disabuse of him of the notion that any one on FOX  was worthy of shining the shoes of David Brinkly or Chet Huntley.

 

Please listen to the last words of Chet Huntley on his last night of broadcast in 1970 then let me close with Brian Williams. Ask yourselves when American news and news watchers went down the prime rose path straight into the rabbit hole. This headline suggests more than FOX has gone down the Rabbit Hole: “Brian Williams is ‘guided by the beauty of our weapons’ in Syria strikes”.  WAPO writer Derek Hawkins is none too kind to Williams.

As dozens of cruise missiles laid waste to a Syrian military airfield late Thursday, MSNBC’s Brian Williams took a moment to wax poetic.

All evening, MSNBC and other news networks had been playing a reel of footage of the assault, which President Trump authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed more than 70 civilians this week.

The footage, provided by the Pentagon, showed several Tomahawk missiles launching from U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea, illuminating the decks of the ships and leaving long trails of smoke in the night sky.

It was a sight that seemed to dazzle Williams, who described the images as “beautiful” in a segment on his show, “The 11th Hour.”

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

“They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them what is a brief flight over to this airfield,” he added, then asked his guest, “What did they hit?”

The remarks drew backlash on Twitter, where some users seemed disturbed by Williams’s flowery language.

At some point, I feel like I’ve crossed into the zone of the crazy cat lady who screams at the teenagers in the yard every time I close the screen on the latest news.  I rarely venture on to the boob tube news zone at all unless it’s really something breaking. This week I sallied forth and am retreating.

I haven’t even gotten around to elucidating all the bad things about McConnell going nuclear and that Gorsuch–a huge mistake for all of us–has just been confirmed for the benefit of the worst of the religious nuts in our country. I’m at nearly 3500 words and all I can say is

“Good night, David” – “Good night, Chet… and good night” TO(sic) NBC News!


Monday Reads: The Nation as Dumpster Fire

Good Afternoon!

Living under the rule of a crazy person surrounded by ideologues isn’t any thing I ever thought we’d see in my country.  It’s no longer tis of me or thee.  Tis of white nationalists and a greedy insane baby man stroking his ego and filling his coffers with Tax Payer dollars and access money.

We’ve again got a selective ban of countries Trump wrongly believes are responsible for terrorism in this country.  It’s basically a wholesale denial of VISAs. I can’t imagine this will hold up in court. It’s interesting that the countries where we’ve actually had foreign national terrorists hatch are still not on the ban list and still “coincidentally” are places where the Trump Syndicate Thugs operate. Evidently some Pentagon and NSA leaders managed to get Iraq taken off the list but the others remain.

The new guidelines mark a dramatic departure from Trump’s original ban. They lay out a far more specific national security basis for the order, block the issuance of only new visas, and name just six of the seven countries included in the first executive order, omitting Iraq.

The order also details specific sets of people who would be able to apply for case-by-case waivers to the order, including those previously admitted to the U.S. for “a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” those with “significant business or professional obligations” and those seeking to visit or live with family.

“This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause, so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in announcing the order had been signed.

Even before the ink was dry, though, Democrats and civil liberties groups asserted the new order was legally tainted in the same way as the first one: it was a thinly disguised Muslim ban.

“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (D), who had joined the legal fight against the first ban. “This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies – it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”

Trump’s administration is taking the blame for the public view that the first few weeks in the White House have been abysmal and produced nothing in the way of legislative change.  Trump evidently is upset that Obama was able to accomplish much more in his first month and it appears that Priebus is on top of the list for blame.   Video of Trump storming around the oval office with the Kushners, Preibus, and Bannon taking the brunt of the temper tantrum about leaks and bad press filled the Sunday Funnies oops political programs.

As the White House struggles to gain its footing almost two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, administration officials increasingly put the blame on one person: Reince Priebus.

In interviews, more than a dozen Trump aides, allies, and others close to the White House said Priebus, the 44-year-old chief of staff, was becoming a singular target of criticism within the White House.

They described a micromanager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers with the impression that he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability.

The finger-pointing further complicates life in an already turmoil-filled West Wing, one that has been hobbled by dueling power centers and unclear lines of command.

“There’s a real frustration among many — including from the president — that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped,” said one senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Reince, fairly or not, is likely to take the blame and take the fault for that.”

“It’s sheer incompetence,” said another White House official. “There’s a lack of management, and a lack of strategy.”

Paul Krugman lays the blame on all Republicans saying “Why Republicans Have No Idea What They’re Doing”.  It’s been pretty apparent that Republicans have been increasingly ideological and unrealistic in terms of what can and cannot be done and be within the scope of the Constitution. They continually overpromise and underdeliver.  It’s because they never take time to learn about how to govern and how to get legislation pass because they’re not about doing that.  They’re about getting their way period.

As Paul Krugman reminds us in his Monday column, there’s a reason why the Republican party gravitated towards Trump in the first place. And it’s hardly surprising that they can’t get it together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or reform corporate taxes, as promised.

“They have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works,” Krugman says.

For seven years, “Republicans kept promising to offer an alternative to Obamacare any day now, but never did,” Krugman notes.

From what we know about the new plan—and Republicans have gone to tragicomic lengths to keep it a secret—it’s not very good. As Krugman observes:

Politically, it seems to embody the worst of both worlds: It’s enough like Obamacare to infuriate hard-line conservatives, but it weakens key aspects of the law enough to deprive millions of Americans — many of them white working-class voters who backed Donald Trump — of essential health care.

The plan was hatched by “smart” Republicans like Paul Ryan, who the media never tires of painting as the wonky intellectual of the GOP. But there are glaring inconsisencies in the GOP’s Obamacare replacement.

First off, as Krugman notes, “the only way to maintain coverage for the 20 million people who gained insurance thanks to Obamacare is with a plan that, surprise, looks a lot like Obamacare.” But instead of admitting their political failure, Ryan and Co are aiming to shove this bill down the throats of the American people before anyone has a chance to understand what’s in it.

Charles Blow has he best advice I’ve seen in short form.  While Krugman argues that the Republicans are a party not ready to govern, Blow says Pause this Presidency

The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this “president” until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election, in a way that was clearly meant to help him and damage his opponent, did not also include collusion with or coverup by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.

This may sound extreme, but if the gathering fog of suspicion should yield an actual connection, it would be one of the most egregious assaults on our democracy ever. It would not only be unprecedented, it would be a profound wound to faith in our sovereignty.

Viewed through the serious lens of those epic implications, no action to put this presidency on pause is extreme. Rather, it is exceedingly prudent.

Some things must be done and some positions filled simply to keep the government operational. Absolute abrogation of administrative authority is infeasible and ill advised. But a bare minimum standard must be applied until we know more about what the current raft of investigations yield. Indeed, it may be that the current investigative apparatuses are insufficient and a special commission or special counsel is in order.

In any event, we can’t keep cruising along as if the unanswered question isn’t existential.

Americans must demand at least a momentary respite from — my preference would be a permanent termination of — Trump’s aggressive agenda to dramatically alter the social, economic and political contours of this country.

Greg Sargent also has a point:  “At the root of Trump’s new fury: Total contempt for American democracy”.  We don’t need a reboot of the Trump insurgency, we need a reboot of our democracy.  The system is trying to right itself and its causing Trump to have temper tantrums of epic proportions as well as a frequent need to run to his private resort to repad his fragile feefees.

President Trump is now wallowing in fury, we are told, because he can’t make the Russia story disappear; he can’t stem the leaks to the media; and he can’t seem to realize his promises. Some reports tell us that unflattering comparisons to Barack Obama’s early accomplishments are “gnawing at Trump,” while others say he went “ballistic” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, because it telegraphed capitulation to Trump’s foes.

But all of these things are connected by a common thread: Trump is enraged at being subjected to a system of democratic and institutional constraints, for which he has signaled nothing but absolute, unbridled contempt. The system is pushing back, and he can’t bear it.

On Monday morning, the latest chapter in this tale — Trump’s unsupported accusation that Obama wiretapped his phones — took another turn. Trump’s spokeswoman said on ABC News that Trump does not accept FBI Director James Comey’s claim — which was reported on over the weekend — that no such wiretapping ever happened.

As E.J. Dionne writes, this episode is a “tipping point” in the Trump experiment. Trump leveled the charge based on conservative media. Then, after an internal search for evidenceto back it up produced nothing, the White House press secretary called on Congress to investigate it and declared the administration’s work done. While the previous administration did wiretap, the problem is the recklessness and baselessness of Trump’s specific allegations, and the White House’s insistence that the burden of disproving them must fall on others — on Congress and on the FBI. Trump’s allegations must be humored at all costs, simply because he declared them to be true — there can be no admission of error, and worse, the White House has declared itself liberated from the need to even pretend to have evidence to back up even Trump’s most explosive claims.

The best example of this is the temper tantrum resulting from Jeff Sessions actually doing the prudent and right thing over the Russia situation.  

Mr Trump is growing increasingly angry at the performance of his senior staff and at the way the Russia investigation is overshadowing his political message, several sources told multiple publications.

He called his inner circle to the Oval Office at the end of last week to talk about this week’s schedule, but the meeting became heated when the topic turned to Mr Sessions.

Sources told CNN Mr Trump used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset”.

Other sources told Politico there were “fireworks” during the “robust discussion”.

There’s a tape of it even.   The man is self-destructing.

Meanwhile, SCOTUS is working.  It’s not advantaging the Republicans case at all.

From WAPO: “Supreme Court sends Virginia transgender case back to lower court

The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court’s ruling in favor of a Virginia transgender student after the Trump administration withdrew the federal government’s guidance to public schools about a controversial bathroom policy.

The justices were scheduled to hear the case later this month. But after the government’s position changed, the court said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit should reconsider the dispute between the Gloucester County school board and 17-year-old Gavin Grimm.

In what had been a big victory for Grimm and the transgender movement, the 4th Circuit had relied on the government’s guidance that schools should let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with the student’s gender identity.

The Trump administration withdrew that guidance, which was issued by the Obama administration.

From ABC News: “Supreme Court: Jury secrecy no bar to looking into race bias

A juror’s use of racial or ethnic slurs during deliberations over a defendant’s guilt can be a reason for breaching the centuries-old legal principle of secrecy in the jury room, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices ruled 5-3 in a case from Colorado that lower courts can take the unusual step of examining jury deliberations when there are indications that racial bias deprived a defendant of his right to a fair trial.

The decision followed another ruling last month in which the court took a hard line against racial bias in the criminal justice system. In that case, the justices ruled in favor of an African-American prison inmate in Texas whose death sentence may have been tainted by troubling references to race in court testimony.

In Monday’s case, defendant Miguel Angel Pena Rodriguez appealed to the Supreme Court after two jurors reported that a third juror tied Pena Rodriguez’s guilt to his Hispanic heritage.

The juror’s statements reportedly saying Pena Rodriguez was guilty because he is “Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want” only came to light after he was convicted of inappropriately touching teenage girls.

Colorado courts ruled against Pena Rodriguez because of a legal rule that protects jury deliberations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority “that blatant racial prejudice is antithetical to the functioning of the jury system and must be confronted in egregious cases like this one despite the general bar of the no-impeachment rule.” The court’s four liberal justices joined with Kennedy to form a majority.


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!!!


Tuesday Reads: Jeff Sessions Dog Whistles Dixie

3-1trumpsessionsbabyjpg-ff85ad365d53b7aeThe first of our new theocratic, Putin-loving, grifter overlords is sitting in front of a Senate committee with absolutely no vetting being grilled and testified against by his peers. Neoconfederate radical christianist Senator Jeff Sessions can sure tell some whoppers and he sure does whistle Dixie.

In an unprecedented move, Senator Corey Booker has chosen to testify about Session’s treatment of the law and of black people.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation.

This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.”I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Sessions’ confirmation hearings, which started Tuesday, are expected to raise additional questions on old allegations of racism from his past. When Sessions was a 39-year-old US attorney in Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship because the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and May 1986 that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”

Booker told CNN on Tuesday morning shortly before Sessions’ hearing started that it was “consequential moment.”

“This is one of the more consequential appointments in American history right now given the state of a lot of our challenges we have with our policing, a lot of challenges we have with race relations, gay and lesbian relations,” Booker said.

LIVE Trump confirmation hearings: Jeff Sessions’ first hearing

Representative John Lewis will also testify against Sessions along with my Congressman Cedric Richmond who will represent the Black Caucus and me for that matter.1-20

Several other prominent African-American figures in addition to Booker also plan to testify against Sessions, including two members of the House: Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The NAACP has also strongly opposed Sessions’ nomination, calling him “a threat to desegregation and the Voting Rights Act.”

Sessions is a hodgepodge of bad things. He’s failed to disclose his oil interests and ethnics experts are taking issue.

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions did not disclose his ownership of oil interests on land in Alabama as required by federal ethics rules, according to an examination of state records and independent ethics lawyers who reviewed the documents.

The Alabama records show that Sessions owns subsurface rights to oil and other minerals on more than 600 acres in his home state, some of which are adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve.

The holdings are small, producing revenue in the range of $4,700 annually. But the interests were not disclosed on forms sent by Sessions to the Office of Government Ethics, which reviews the assets of Cabinet nominees for potential conflicts of interest.

crowej20161121_lowHe is currently up on the stand doing things like telling Dianne Feinstein that he really thinks Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional and badly decided but it’s established law.  He’s explaining his vote against laws to protect women victims of violence as being against the establishment of the rights of Native Americans to hold trials against accused rapists in their own courts.  He’s just a big ol’ bug hiding nasty fangs and a poison sac right out there for every one to see.

You may want to read the story of Sessions and his role in prosecuting the Klan to really understand how deep his southern roots go.  Sessions has also testified he loathes the clan today.    Sessions apologists hold this case up as proof he’s really not all that racist.

letter from 23 former assistant attorney generals cited the fact that he had “worked to obtain the successful capital prosecution of the head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan” as evidence of his “commitment to the rule of law, and to the even-handed administration of justice.” The Wall Street Journal said that Sessions, “won a death-penalty conviction for the head of the state KKK in a capital murder trial,” a case which “broke the Klan in the heart of dixie,” and The New York Post praised him for having “successfully prosecuted the head of the state Ku Klux Klan for murder.” Grant Bosse wrote in the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leaderwrote that “when local police wrote off the murder as a drug deal gone wrong, Sessions brought in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and brought Hays and the Klan to justice.”

Sessions himself recently listed the case as one of the “ten most significant significant litigated matters” he had “personally handled” on his Senate confirmation questionnaire. And in 2009, Sessions told National Review that there had been a campaign to “smear my record,” whereas in fact, he had “prosecuted the head of the Klan for murdering somebody.”

No one involved in the case disputes that Sessions lent his support to the prosecution. “Not all southern United States attorneys welcomed civil-rights division attorneys into their districts back then,” said Barry Kowalski, a former civil-rights division attorney who was one of the main lawyers on the investigation, and who defended Sessions in his 1986 confirmation hearing. “He did, he cooperated with us completely.”

However, in seeking to defend Sessions from charges of racism, Sessions’s allies, and even Sessions himself, seem to have embellished key details, and to have inflated his actual role in the case, presenting him not merely as a cooperative U.S. attorney who facilitated the prosecution of the two Klansmen, but the driving force behind the prosecution itself. The details of the case don’t support that claim.

188054_600You can read the details in the feature I’ve linked to which came for The Atlantic.

The Sessions hearings are on CSPAN if you want an uninterrupted view of it all. The Hill has a list of five things to watch. This first one is as important as questions on policing and voting rights.

 

Does he detail Trump’s plans on immigration?

Sessions is known as the foremost immigration hawk in the Senate, so you can bet he’ll be pressed on an issue that has liberals on edge in the age of Trump.

Expect Democrats to come armed with statistics challenging the notion that illegal immigrants are flooding across the southern border; that crime is out of control among illegal immigrants; and that President Obama has not done enough to deport those in the country illegally who have committed other crimes.

In addition, while it won’t necessarily fall under his purview at the Justice Department, Democratic senators will likely look to score political points by challenging Sessions on the complications of building a border wall.

And they’ll likely look to get him to say that he won’t move to deport, en masse, the estimated 10 million illegal immigrants in the country, and in particular the estimated 700,000 young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

As president, Trump could do away with that program by executive order.

cxkiwkrxcaar5ywI have to work and grade today but will try to follow comments on Twitter.  They are plentiful.

I could use a few donations if you have a few bucks to spare.  Our TypeKit subscription is up in January. It’s not a lot, but every little bit you can help me defray would be great.  It basically keeps our nice logo up there in its cursive glory

So, anyway, I’ve got to go warp minds and grade papers.  BB’s successfully moved to her new apartment too!  She’s patiently waiting for the cable guy.  JJ is still with her mom in the facility and is having up and down days.  We’re just happy to have you all here for breaks in our mundane lives!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?