Monday (Bannon’s in Jail) Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Wow! Is there a lot of news today, and it continues to baffle me! Let’s start with a good story.  Bannon is in jail.  He continues to devolve into something less than human.  Take a look at that picture.  Something that lives under a bridge and demands tolls?  Animated spud? Zombie?  Your guess is as good as mine!  The protestor has one appellation correct:  “Coup Plotter.”

We also have some history worth celebrating. Ruby Bridges integrated New Orleans Public Schools 61 years ago. 

And I was just this years old when I found out that Rosa Parks became a practicing Buddhist in her golden years. She practiced the same tradition as Tina Turner.

What would happen if we continue to teach our children what brave women of color do after that one moment they changed history?

So, back to the country’s ugliest spud.

His face continues to make an excellent argument for not using drugs. It’s much better than a fried egg. He’s been arrested. He’s in the custody of Federal Officials. He’s scheduled to appear before a judge later today. Get that TV turned on because I’m sure there will be coverage.

Justice moves slowly sometimes, but it’s moving.  Then, there’s the anti-justice and law and order party. This is from WAPO: “In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback. GOP lawmakers say Democrats, by pursuing contempt charges against a Trump ally, are paving the way for them to go after Biden aides if they retake the House in 2022.”

BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  HER EMAILS!!!!!!!!!!! JUST MAKE SHIT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many GOP leaders, however, are seizing on Bannon’s indictment to contend that Democrats are “weaponizing” the Justice Department, warning Democrats that they will go after Biden’s aides for unspecified reasons if they take back the House majority in next year’s midterm elections, as most political analysts expect.

“For years, Democrats baselessly accused President Trump of ‘weaponizing’ the DOJ. In reality, it is the Left that has been weaponizing the DOJ the ENTIRE TIME — from the false Russia Hoax to the Soviet-style prosecution of political opponents,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the third-ranking House Republican, tweeted Saturday.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggested that Republicans would seek payback if the GOP regained control of the House, signaling that in challenging the doctrine of executive privilege, Democrats were making it easier for Republicans to force Biden’s top advisers to testify before a future GOP Congress.

I have a good response for that:

So, let me just shake it off and move on to some more good news about Black Women in Leadership. Mayor Latoya Cantrell has won overwhelming support to serve a second term.  Not everyone agrees with it but they certainly did not show up and vote. The words of disapproval appear to be coming mainly from men. That’s not surprising.  There’s general excitement that Beto O’Rorke is running for Texas governor but not much enthusiasm expressed in the MSM about the barn burner campaign run by Val Demings to unseat little Marco Rubio.  This was what I could find that wasn’t from a month ago.  The site is Sunburn which is basically a Florida Political blog.

Val Demings rips Marco Rubio for skipping 14 Senate hearings amid GOP boycotts” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Sen. Rubio has missed as many as 14 Senate hearings over the past two months, a practice the Republican was criticized for six years ago as he launched a bid for the presidency. But many of his absences since September have been part of either a GOP boycott of the Small Business Committee or a pledge to not vote for any of Biden’s State Department nominees. U.S. Rep. Demings, his likely opponent in next year’s U.S. Senate race, blasted Rubio’s absenteeism. Rubio did not appear at nine Foreign Relations hearings since Sept. 22, most of which focused on Biden nominations. Rubio has so far opposed all of Biden’s nominees to the State Department.

Meanwhile, the MSM is turning its need for drama to our Vice President Kamala Harris.  I like this guy that calls CNN the “Perez Hilton” of the political world. The piece is basically rumor-mongering and not much else.

Here’s the CNN article: “Exasperation and dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris’ frustrating start as vice president”

Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff — deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns.

The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers — who spoke extensively to CNN — reveal a complex reality inside the White House. Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined. The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president.

She’s a heartbeat away from the presidency now. She could be just a year away from launching a presidential campaign of her own, given doubts throughout the political world that Biden will actually go through with a reelection bid in 2024, something he’s pledged to do publicly and privately. Or she’ll be a critical validator in three years for a President trying to get the country to reelect him to serve until he’s 86.
Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she’s being well-prepared for whichever role it will be. Harris is struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House, while long-time supporters feel abandoned and see no coherent public sense of what she’s done or been trying to do as vice president. Being the first woman, and first woman of color, in national elected office is historic but has also come with outsized scrutiny and no forgiveness for even small errors, as she’ll often point out.

So, a “few” unnamed people created all this projection.  I call shenanigans!  This is a 3-year-old article from Forbes but I don’t think much has changed.  “Black Women Are Besieged On Social Media, And White Apathy Damns Us All.”  This was written by Janet Burns

In the past year or so, I’ve been particularly disturbed to see members and allies of the current administration lob such undermining and vitriolic slurs at Black women leaders on Twitter and elsewhere (often following cable news’ example) with virtually no backlash, including repeated attacks on two sitting U.S. congresswomen.

Surely a lifetime of undoubtedly backbreaking work and overcoming fierce adversity to become a prominent politician would earn both Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) more respect from anyone, as well as an equally fierce outcry and defense from their white colleagues — even despite the various biases and (at best) blind spots in both parties.

After all, when film, stand-up, and Saturday Night Live! comedian Leslie Jones suddenly found her Twitter feed overwhelmed with racist and sexist abuse and extremely violent threats from thousands of users in response to her role in the female-led Ghostbusters remake last year (the worst part of a broader freak out over the film, as many of us will remember), some white fellow cast members and comedy peers quickly joined the Twitter fracas in her defense, or condemned the abuse in no uncertain terms, in the very least.

When it comes to the targeting and demeaning of Black women by prominent white male figures, however, it seems the political community has largely given this abuse a pass on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as have tech companies themselves, for all intents and purposes.

I’m now working on a campaign to make certain the new sheriff in town is a black woman.  While working to see that our new congressional rep was a black woman I ran into the same kinds of things.   I’m solid of the opinion is that nothing will really change unless women band together to change it because the men all jump to the man when push comes to shove.

“How dare we to dream that we can do something about this system that is punitive, discriminatory, and inequitable,” Hutson said in a speech to ecstatic supporters at her election party at Soule’ Cafe on Banks Street when runoff was called by WWL-TV. “But we are gonna do just that.”

I have a few other bits and pieces of breaking news.

From Roll Call: Leahy, longest-serving sitting senator, to retire.

From NBC NewsJudge dismisses weapons charge in Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial

From Max Boot, Washington Post: A newly disclosed memo reveals Trump’s plot to turn the military into his personal goon squad

So much crazy still going on that it’s getting easier to turn the TV off with each passing day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Must Read Journalism and Must See TV

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I want to bring your attention to a TV documentary and a Rolling Stone Exclusive on evidence there was heavy planning on the part of Congressional Republicans in the insurrection on January 6th. I have to teach tonight, get my real ID this afternoon, and this morning a mitigation specialist comes to check out the water damage in my attic. This will be brief.

First, the documentary was shown last night on MSNBC and will be running on Peacock. It basically addresses the failures of Reconstruction after the Civil War and the deep roots of institutional racism in our country. There were compelling interviews with Southern Americans about their experience. There were professors discussing the various failures that led to the Lost Cause and a lot of where we are right now in terms of Black and White America. There were visits to historical–frequently covered up–events throughout our history like the Clinton, MS Race Massacre. There was also a visit to a Civil war museum that lifts up the contributions of black soldiers of the Union Army.

Here’s a basic description via the Chatanooga Free Times Press. “‘Civil War’ documentary, partially filmed in Chattanooga, premieres Sunday on MSNBC.”

A Civil War documentary that includes perspectives from several Chattanooga-area residents will premiere Sunday on MSNBC.

For “The Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are),” Emmy-nominated director Rachel Boynton visited classrooms around the nation to see how the war is taught.

Her stop in Chattanooga features Chris Carpenter’s Civil War classes at McCallie School, historian and educator LaFrederick Thirkill, the caretakers of Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery and Chattanooga Connected, a group of community leaders dedicated to intentionally breaking down racial barriers.

Franklin McCallie, a co-founder of Chattanooga Connected, said he’s proud of Boynton’s effort to shed light on “a major thorn in the side of our nation.” The film, he said, should get people talking “rationally and with the hope of healing.”

McCallie was among those who first saw the film in a screening at the Tivoli Theatre earlier this month.

“I feel this film could make a difference,” he said. “She has the liberal side, the very conservative side, and she has shown the depth of feeling of those who have not left the Confederacy behind, who have not left the Civil War behind” more than a century and a half later.

In a review, film critic Matt Zoller Seitz said the movie will be of “particular interest to students who want a lively, thoughtful presentation of basic historical subjects but aren’t going to get it in classrooms where the curriculum is approved by people who are mainly concerned with avoiding discomfort and preserving the status quo.”

This is an interview with the filmmaker.

Portrait of an unidentified African American soldier in uniform, c. 1860s

My next offering is from Rolling Stone. You will want to read this: “EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff. Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office.” It was written by Hunter Walker who had access to two sources working with the ongoing investigation.

I’ll put the list of seditionists up first.

The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.

These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.

Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.

Portrait of Christian Fleetwood.

It sounds like the chickens are coming home to roost!

In another indication members of Congress may have been involved in planning the protests against the election, Ali Alexander, who helped organize the “Wild Protest,” declared in a since-deleted livestream broadcast that Gosar, Brooks, and Biggs helped him formulate the strategy for that event.

“I was the person who came up with the Jan. 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and Congressman Andy Biggs,” Alexander said at the time. “We four schemed up on putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that — who we couldn’t lobby — we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside.”

Alexander led Stop the Steal, which was one of the main groups promoting efforts to dispute Trump’s loss. In December, he organized a Stop the Steal event in Phoenix, where Gosar was one the main speakers. At that demonstration, Alexander referred to Gosar as “my captain” and declared “one of the other heroes has been Congressman Andy Biggs.”

The indication is the list of acts leading up to riots and sedition is long and extensive. I think we can safely assume that these planners were likely at the hotel session prior to January 6,

I have one breaking news story from Sudan to add down here. “Sudan coup: Military dissolves civilian government and arrests leaders.” The reporting is via the BBC.

A coup is under way in Sudan, where the military has dissolved civilian rule, arrested political leaders and declared a state of emergency.

Coup leader, Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan, has blamed political infighting.

Protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and there are reports of gunfire.

Military and civilian leaders have been at odds since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown two years ago and a transitional government set up.

Witnesses say the internet is down and that army and paramilitary troops have been deployed across the city. Khartoum airport is closed, and international flights are suspended.

Some protesters chanted “no to military rule”.

Demonstrator Sawsan Bashir told AFP news agency: “We will not leave the streets until the civilian government is back and the transition is back.”

“We are ready to give our lives for the democratic transition in Sudan,” another protester, Haitham Mohamed said.

So, that’s enough for me today. The news will likely be crazy-go-nuts today as the press secretary of the tv series The West Wing used to say.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Whitelash

This attempted coup is disgusting…here are a few thoughts on the violence this past week.

I think it all stems from the fact that a black man was elected President some years ago….tRump supporters have something in common. They are white supremacist, bigoted assholes.

This thread:

Just waiting for…

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Sex, Lies, and Republicans

Good Morning Sky Dancers! 

Republicans continue to act as though the US is not a constitutional Republic run by rule of law. They scheme to find end runs around everything.  The Kavanaugh appointment continues to amaze as a small group of radical religionists, gun fetishists, and greedy wealthy people drive the party to further extremes.  The worst thing is our system is actually set up to give over representation to states that resemble little more than outback territories, making them equal to states with much larger populations and economies.  We continue to subsidize the Republican base and their rapacious lifestyle choices.

In keeping with making a toothless show of oversight and justice, the week-long Kavanaugh investigation appears to be an effort to minimize the chance of actually getting to the bottom of things.  From The New Yorker today comes this bit of information about the constraints placed on the FBI by Trump regimist groupies.

As the F.B.I. began its investigation this weekend into allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, several people who hope to contribute information about him to the F.B.I. said that they were unable to make contact with agents. President Trumphas promised to give the F.B.I. “free rein” in its probe, but the Times reported on Saturday that the White House had asked the F.B.I. to question only four witnesses. In the course of the next day, confusion spread about whom the F.B.I. would be interviewing, and Senate Democrats demanded that the White House provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with a copy of the written directive that it had sent to the F.B.I. regarding the investigation.

With a one-week deadline looming over the investigation, some who say they have information relevant to the F.B.I.’s probe are suspicious that the investigation will amount to what one of Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmates called a “whitewash.” Roberta Kaplan, an attorney representing one potential witness, Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Kavanaugh’s high-school friend Mark Judge, said her client “has repeatedly made clear to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to the F.B.I. that she would like the opportunity to speak to them.” But, Kaplan said, “We’ve received no substantive response.”

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Judge of being an accessory to Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault on her, in 1982, when they were all in high school. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied any role in the assault, and Judge, through his attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, also has denied any recollection of it. Kaplan said that early this past week she began reaching out to the F.B.I. and to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Rasor’s behalf. “She feels a sense of civic duty to tell what she knows,” Kaplan said. “But the only response we’ve gotten are e-mails saying that our e-mails have been ‘received.’ ” At one point, she said, an F.B.I. official suggested she try calling an 800-number telephone tip line.

Debra Katz, the lead attorney for Ford, said that her client, too, had been willing to coöperate with the F.B.I.’s investigation, but as of Sunday the F.B.I. had not contacted her, despite Ford’s central role in the controversy. “We’ve tried repeatedly to speak with the F.B.I, but heard nothing back,” Katz said.

Meanwhile, some Kavanaugh school mates have taken to speaking to the press. It is likely the press finds more than the FBI which may be the one good thing from this brief respite from the Republican ramrod seeking a quick vote.  Yale class mate Chad Luddington provided a statement to the NYT documenting Kavanaugh’s ongoing love affair (aka heavy drinking) with beer. We could tell from that display on Thursday that this judge appears to be a raging alcoholic red nose and pink chinks included.

In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When I watched Brett and his wife being interviewed on Fox News on Monday, and when I watched Brett deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, I cringed. For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him. On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.

I do not believe that the heavy drinking or even loutish behavior of an 18- or even 21-year-old should condemn a person for the rest of his life. I would be a hypocrite to think so. However, I have direct and repeated knowledge about his drinking and his disposition while drunk. And I do believe that Brett’s actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter. If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences. It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges.

I believe a know a bit of where the O’Kavanaugh behavior comes from having two parents each with a parent that lived with the absolute, utterly horrid fallout of drunken Irish fathers.  One of them was murdered walking home from the bar and my grandmother was left to raise her two younger sisters.  The other just up and left his family leaving my grandfather to quit school in 8th grade to work for the railroad laying track to take care of his mother and two sisters. You grow up with the stories and the hand me down trauma.

Kavanaugh appears to be a bit more than your drunk on the holidays uncle than he pretends to be.  Just the horrific attack on Senator Klobucher–the daughter of a long term recovering alcoholic–was enough to trigger any one raised around alcoholics certainly.  That I can only imagine with horror.

Klobucher told CNN on Sunday she was “stunned” by his behavior.  His lying and vicious verbal attacks were enough to make the Blarney stone blush.

On Sunday, Klobuchar explained the idea behind her line of questioning.

“One idea here is that he simply was drinking more than he was saying over this time period and that he didn’t remember what happened, and so I was just simply trying to get at that and really couching it in the fact that I had alcoholism in my own family,” she told Tapper.

Klobuchar said Kavanaugh’s denial of ever forgetting something after a night of drinking doesn’t add up.

“It doesn’t quite make sense to me, because, first of all, you have these other people from parts of his life who have said that he was belligerent when he was drunk and other things.”

Luddington is now expected to tell the FBI about Kavanuagh’s “violent drunken behavior” per NBC.  I wonder if any of this explains the look on the face of Kavanaugh’s wife. It’s fixed and not supportive looking at all. She has the look of some inner terror.

Kavanaugh has been caught in yet another whopper. He tried to sound as if his entry to Yale was of his own making.  Kavanaugh, in fact, was a legacy.  The man has serious issues with how he has presented himself to people and how he views himself. From Newsweek:

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said underoath that he had “no connections” to Yale prior to attending, arguing that hard work and ambition were the sole factors leading him to study at the prestigious institution of higher education.

However, that statement is verifiably untrue. In fact, Kavanaugh would be classified as a legacy student, because his grandfather Everett Edward Kavanaugh also attended Yale as an undergraduate student, The Intercept reported on Saturday, sharing an image of a 1928 yearbook.

“I have no connections there. I got there by busting my tail,” Kavanaugh, who currently serves as a federal judge, said while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Lying under oath should be disqualifying on its own merit.  And, it should bring in to question everything Kavanaugh has testified about.  From the link above at Current Affairs:

In this case, when we examine the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford honestly, impartially, and carefully, it is impossible to escape the following conclusions:

  1. Brett Kavanaugh is lying.
  2. There is no good reason to believe that Christine Blasey Ford is lying. This does not mean that she is definitely telling the truth, but that there is nothing in what Kavanaugh said that in any way discredits her account.

I want to show you, clearly and definitively, how Brett Kavanaugh has lied to you and lied to the Senate. I cannot prove that he committed sexual assault when he was 17, and I hesitate to draw conclusions about what happened for a few minutes in a house in Maryland in the summer of 1982. But I can prove quite easily that Kavanaugh’s teary-eyed “good, innocent man indignant at being wrongfully accused” schtick was a facade. What may have looked like a strong defense was in fact a very, very weak and implausible one.

Let’s begin with Kavanaugh’s denial.

Here is what he says: “I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation.”

And here is the gathering as Ford describes it:

After a day of diving at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember specifically being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, a boy named P.J., and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I also remember my friend Leland attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur-of-the-moment gathering… People were drinking beer in a small living room/family room-type area on the first floor of the house.

Kavanaugh says that he never attended any event like this. Like what, though? He never attended a small gathering in Bethesda where people were drinking beer? Kavanaugh submitted his own calendars from the summer of 1982 into evidence for the Senate. As he said himself, “the calendars show a few weekday gatherings at friends’ houses after a workout or just to meet up and have some beers.” He says that he never attended a gathering like this, but that’s obviously false, because the type of gathering he says he did attend is exactly the kind she describes.

Coverage of Ford’s allegations has often implied that the “party” at which she alleges she was assaulted was a kind of large Bacchanalian house party. This is a crucial part of Kavanaugh’s “calendar” defense: If there had been a big party, lots of people would have been there, it would probably have been on his summer calendar under “PAR-TAY!” It would have been notable, and since nobody seems to remember it and he even wrote far less significant events on his calendar, Ford must be misremembering.

But Ford has been clear: She is not talking about a big event. She is talking about a few friends and acquaintances hanging around drinking some beer in a living room:

It was not really a party like the news has made it sound. It was not. It was just a gathering that I assumed was going to lead to a party later on that those boys would attend, because they tended to have parties later at night than I was allowed to stay out. So it was kind of a pre-gathering.

It’s impossible to believe Kavanaugh when he says he never attended any event “like the one Dr. Ford describes.” It was a very typical low-key high school event, and it would have been shocking if Kavanaugh never attended such a thing. Indeed, he admits it himself.

You can read the rest at the link. It is a long and compelling argument.

So,this drama continues as well as the Trump/Rosenstein meeting.  I can’t imagine what we’ll hear and see by Friday. I only know what’s at stake and this makes me extremely anxious.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Reads: Death Spirals Real and Imagined

Good Afternoon!

It’s getting really difficult to find anything upbeat these days out there on the news front. Usually,there are several areas with persistent messes.  Today, things folks never thought we’d have to worry about are suddenly in play. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day nor did it fall in day. It seems like the US is on a downward spiral that rivals the speed of light or at least a hefty meteor.  Bets on how long we last at this rate?

Suggestions on how can we stop this?

Much of the destruction is going on inside the federal government while Kremlin Caligula puts on a show. We’ve learned that Trump and cronies are planting lobbyists and ideologues to cripple agencies.  The State Department appears to be one of the major functions of government that is in a death spiral. The Russian Connections between Trump and his cronies run deep. There’s no longer a need to connect the dots. It’s a four lane highway between Trump Tower with off ramps all over the place.
It appears that the Trump Syndicate may have been laundering money for Russian Oligarchs.  Here are some links to get caught up on the Russia fiasco.  Many of these are updates from stories that BB wrote about yesterday.

From CNN: “The super-secret division in charge of the Russia investigation“.

From the Palm Beach Post: “Trump in Palm Beach: Why did Russian pay so much for his mansion?”

From The American Interest: “The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections”

By the late 1990s the actual chaos that resulted from Yeltsin’s warped policies had laid the foundations for a strong counterrevolution, including the rise of ex-KGB officer Putin and a massive outpouring of oligarchic flight capital that has continued virtually up to the present. For ordinary Russians, as noted, this was disastrous. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms, and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, as well as for needy borrowers like the Trump Organization, the opportunity to feed on post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. This was vulture capitalism at its worst.

The nine-lived Trump, in particular, had just suffered a string of six successive bankruptcies. So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich FSU members like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed. These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures—most of which failed, since people doesn’t go to casinos that much anymore, people prefer to play and gamble online in different sites, for example here is a List of Betfred’s bonus codes for all their products. As Donald Trump, Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the “Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate” conference in Manhattan in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):

[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.

All this helps to explain one of the most intriguing puzzles about Donald Trump’s long, turbulent business career: how he managed to keep financing it, despite a dismal track record of failed projects.4

According to the “official story,” this was simply due to a combination of brilliant deal-making, Trump’s gold-plated brand, and raw animal spirits—with $916 million of creative tax dodging as a kicker. But this official story is hokum. The truth is that, since the late 1990s, Trump was also greatly assisted by these abundant new sources of global finance, especially from “submerging markets” like Russia

Paul Ryan power point meme1
Rex Tillerson is incapable of doing an actual job.  The State Department is in disarray and it’s hard to see how Tillerson is doing anything to change that.  Here’s some analysis from David Ignatius writing for WAPO.

Tillerson’s State Department has been in idle gear these past two months. He doesn’t have a deputy or other top aides. His spokesman can’t give guidance on key issues, because decisions haven’t yet been made. Tillerson didn’t attend important meetings with foreign leaders.

As a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, Tillerson is accustomed to a world where a visible display of power is unnecessary, corporate planning is meticulous and office politics are suppressed. But this is Washington

“I am an engineer by training. I seek to understand the facts,” Tillerson said at his confirmation hearing. That sounds reassuring, but it doesn’t fit the glitzy, backstabbing capital that spawned the television series “House of Cards.”

“He may pay some cost up front for not meeting Washington expectations,” notes Stephen Hadley, national security adviser for President George W. Bush and a Tillerson supporter. “The short-term buzz was that he’s out of the loop, but Tillerson is playing for the long game.”

Tillerson couldn’t even get his choice for a deputy pass President Bannon.

The Republicans in the House and Senate are using the chaos to cover up their end game. Obamacare replacementThey’re trying to dismantle everything from Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, the EPA, Social Security, Dodd Frank, and just about anything used to protect citizens from the malfeasance of of short sighted, profit-oriented business practices which rule the US commerce landscape.  The GOP is planning a full scale assault on Federal Regulations.

There is a flurry of anti-regulatory legislation floating around Capitol Hill, but it is becoming clear that the key Republican vehicle to rein in rulemaking will be Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s Regulatory Accountability Act. A 16-page draft of the legislation obtained by POLITICO was significantly less radical than several aggressive bills recently passed by the House of Representatives, but industry groups have pinned their hopes on this one attracting support from enough moderate Democrats to overcome a Senate filibuster and make it to Trump’s desk. And even if the Portman bill won’t automatically ensure “the deconstruction of the administrative state” promised by White House adviser Steve Bannon, it could still dramatically curtail the power of government regulators in the long run.

Portman has not yet introduced the bill, but behind the scenes in Washington it is already the subject of furious lobbying by more than 150 public interest groups that oppose it as well as more than 600 business groups that support it. It is much narrower than a bill the House passed last month with the same name, but would still revamp and insert new bureaucratic hurdles into the federal regulatory process, which the Obama Administration used to enact tough new restrictions on coal plants, Wall Street banks, for-profit colleges and other corporate entities. The Portman bill would add new obstacles for agencies to overcome before enacting economically significant rules, require them to choose the most cost-effective alternative, and give judges more discretion to block regulations when the regulated interests object.

“When I visit a factory or small business in Ohio, one of the complaints I hear most from employers is that there are too many costly and unnecessary regulations that limit their ability to invest in their business,” Portman said. “We need a smarter regulatory process that promotes job creation, innovation, and economic growth.”

Portman and the Washington business community are portraying his reforms as a pragmatic approach to burdensome red tape, hoping to distinguish them from more extreme Republican bills that would give Congress a veto over all major rules, eliminate the deference that courts traditionally give to federal agencies, and even forbid those agencies from implementing rules until every lawsuit against them is resolved. House Republicans have passed five regulatory reform bills this year, and have introduced a dozen more, but insiders say most of them are doomed to die in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to overcome a filibuster. That’s why Portman is now negotiating over his more temperate language with Democratic senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who are both up for reelection in 2018 in states Trump won easily. Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bill Nelson of Florida and independent Angus King of Maine have supported similar bills in the past.

Trump has not outlived his usefulness to the Republican Agenda of installing a warped Christian Theocracy and a kleptocracy capable of ruining the environment and killing people.  Portman obviously decided Trump was the way to sneak a lot of things through.

And then there’s Paul Ryan who thinks the only thing that should occur right now is decimation of the ACA regardless of the results.  It’s right there on his Power Point.  It pretty much looked like the Republican version was DOA yesterday but now Senate Republicans are actually talking about changing the Senate rules to get it shoved through one way or another.  This is despite the massive outrage about the repeal.

A growing number of conservative lawmakers on Thursday urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn’t decide in their favor.

Such a gambit would require the unlikely buy-in of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a noted institutionalist who earlier this year avoided talk of changing his chamber’s rules to kill the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees.

If the Senate changes precedent for what can be passed under reconciliation now, a future Senate — whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats — could enact a wide range of legislation with just a simple majority.

“There are limits to what we can do” on Obamacare while complying with the Senate rules, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican, said in a Thursday floor speech. Under reconciliation guidelines, bills can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority and cannot be filibustered, as long as their provisions have a direct impact on spending or tax levels.

I wake up every day in fear of what’s coming next.  It seems that everything I’ve ever planned my old age around is now collapsing around me.  The Republican Plan is a massive DumpsterFire. 53_192516Paul Krugman has some great analysis.

 Obamacare rests on three main pillars. Insurance companies are regulated, prevented from denying coverage or charging higher prices to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Families receive subsidies linked to both income and premiums, to help them buy insurance. And there is a penalty for those who don’t buy insurance, to induce people to sign up even if they’re currently healthy

Trumpcare — the White House insists that we not call it that, which means that we must — preserves some version of all three elements, but in drastically, probably fatally weakened form.

Insurers are still barred from excluding the sick, but they’re allowed to charge older Americans — who need insurance the most — much higher premiums.

Subsidies are still there, in the form of tax credits, but they’re no longer linked to either income (as long as it’s below $75,000) or the cost of insurance.

And the tax on those who don’t sign up becomes a small surcharge — paid to insurance companies, not the public — on people who sign up after previously letting coverage lapse.

Affluent young people might end up saving some money as a result of these changes. But the effect on those who are older and less affluent would be devastating. AARP has done the math: a 55-year-old making $25,000 a year would end up paying $3,600 a year more for coverage; that rises to $8,400 for a 64-year-old making $15,000 a year. And that’s before the death spiral.

For the combination of price hikes and weakened penalties would lead many healthy Americans to forgo insurance. This would worsen the risk pool, causing premiums to rise sharply — and remember, subsidies would no longer adjust to offset this rise. The result would be even more people dropping out. Republicans have been claiming that Obamacare is collapsing, which isn’t true. But Trumpcare, if implemented, would collapse in a Mar-a-Lago minute.

How could House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan, who the media keeps assuring us is a smart, serious policy wonk, have produced such a monstrosity?

The only thing that’s been fun about this is the Twitter Attack on Paul Ryan and his Power Points.

So, I know a few people that have been basically kidnapped by their families and put into conversion therapy.  This story of a survivor is chilling reading.

TC, a 19-year-old gay man who spoke to The Huffington Post anonymously for this article in order to protect his safety, is a survivor of conversion therapy practices.

TC was subjected to conversion therapy in 2012 when he was 15 years old after his parents discovered he was gay. The conversion therapy practices took place in the basement of a church after school hours, and were explained to TC and his parents as having two separate components. He told The Huffington Post:

The first step ― which usually lasted six months ― [is] where they “deconstruct us as a person.” Their tactics still haunt me. Aversion therapy, shock therapy, harassment and occasional physical abuse. Their goal was to get us to hate ourselves for being LGBTQ (most of us were gay, but the entire spectrum was represented), and they knew what they were doing…. The second step of the program, they “rebuilt us in their image.” They removed us of everything that made us a unique person, and instead made us a walking, talking, robot for Jesus. They retaught us everything we knew. How to eat, talk, walk, dress, believe, even breathe. We were no longer people at the end of the program.

TC said that the conversion therapy sessions would take place every weekday, with shock therapy treatments lasting approximately an hour, and aversion therapy lasting three.

This is torture. Pure and Simple.

So, this is what they’d fund while getting Insurance 101 wrong.

Paul Ryan actually said “The whole idea of Obamacare is…the people who are healthy pay for the…sick. It’s not working, & that’s why it’s in a death spiral.”

No Speaker that’s a risk pool and it’s how insurance works.

011917coletoon

Everyone pays into the pot and draws on it when they’re sick. Younger people, who tend to be healthier than older people, pay for health insurance like everyone else. They’ll rely on it when when they need it, probably more when they’re older and there are younger, healthier people filing in behind them. It’s the same with car insurance

. Some people pay for decades and never get into an accident and never collect on their coverage (though the likelihood of anyone never using health insurance is unlikely).That’s what actuarial figures are all about, so an insurance system can assess the risks of segments of customers to determine what everyone needs to put into the pot so there’s enough to pay out when someone needs the money.

Ryan has perhaps been on taxpayer-paid health insurance for so long that he has forgotten how the concept works. He believes that’s only the way it works for Obamacare. “The conceit of Obamacare,” he said at his press conference on Trumpcare, is that “young and healthy people are going to go into the market and pay for the older, sicker people.” That’s why Obamacare is in a “death spiral,” he noted.

Twitter had a pretty predictable response to Ryan’s summary of health insurance: Duh.

Meanwhile, every one except the stupid, the greedy, the mean, and the crazy resist.

Well, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?