Imminent My Ass Monday Reads

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Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

So, just in case you’re not of the sportsball persuasion like me, I  thought I’d mention our LSU Tigers have a big game today in the Super Dome and the Orange Snot blob has decided it might be a good place to be cheered at even though outside he will be jeered at. The Tigers are going after their 4th National Championship and, of course, I have no idea what a Clemson is other than some college with another team

Frankly, I’d rather the university my kids went to and the system for which I taught for about 10ish years would stop all the  water leaks in the Library and other buildings.  But, silly me, panem et circenses  always keeps the desperate masses from revolution or so it’s been said.

ImageYes.  We’re getting a visitation from the orange snot blob that either lies continually, says deluded things continually, and just makes up things of the top of his critter festooned head.  He mentioned he’s going to visit his property here to the usual suspects.  So, look to the left and see exactly how realistic, possible, and plausible said visitation would be.

Most of the outstate Yahoos from here included the folks that put into office do not care that he lies and some of them–Yes Senator John Kennedy I’m looking at you–just repeat  the lies with a faux hillbilly vibe.

Even more startling than the sheer number of POTUS lies is how brazen many of them have been. Dig deeper into this political phenomenon and something odd and counterintuitive emerges: Many people know that Trump is lying to them and simply don’t care. This raises a fascinating question: Could the president extricate himself from the Ukraine quid-pro-quo scandal, the linchpin of the current impeachment proceedings, by spewing one lie after another? 

According to the academic paperProcessing Political Misinformation: Comprehending the Trump Phenomenon, the answer is yes. Conducted prior to the 2016 presidential election, the study focuses on credibility experiments. Subjects were asked to rate their belief in eight statements (four true, four false) that Trump made during his campaign. Some were attributed to him: “Donald Trump said that vaccines cause autism.” Others had no attribution: “Vaccines cause autism.” Then came the fact checks. After false items were corrected and true items confirmed, the test subjects rerated the statements. 

One of the findings confirmed what every FOX and MSNBC pundit already knows. When subjects first rated the veracity of true and false statements, Republican supporters of Trump believed the claim more when it was attributed to Trump; the opposite was true of Democrats. Republicans who were not pro Trump also believed less in statements attributed to him (but not to the same degree as Democrats), while their belief in the false statements was not influenced by attribution. 

The other key finding is less obvious. There was a large bipartisan shift in belief after the fact check, suggesting that both conservatives and liberals can change their minds if they’re presented with convincing, unbiased information. But there was a catch: After a one-week delay, subjects partially “rebelieved” the false statements and partially forgot that factual information was true. Or, to quote the study: “Even if individuals update their beliefs temporarily, explanations regarding both fact and fiction seemingly have an expiration date.” 

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So, I’m not the psychologist on the blog so I have no idea what makes him lie so much.  I do know that I have never in my life seen any one even near this level of bull shit swinging and my dad had a car dealership and used car salesmen in his employ.  I can’t even imagine the pathology that would create that circumstance but it’s really so disturbing in needs a new term because pathological lying just doesn’t sound enough  for how he manages to nuclearize obvious whoppers.

So, there are lies and then there are lies that cover up things that every one country needs to realize are dangerous lies. This headline and story from NBC:  “Trump authorized Soleimani’s killing 7 months ago, with conditions.”  So, we know the entire story of four embassies under imminent danger is basically a Lie of Mass Destruction and now we have more and more evidence thanks to Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube.

President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials.

The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.

That decision explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq, in which a U.S. contractor was killed and four U.S. service members were wounded, the officials said.

The timing, however, could undermine the Trump administration’s stated justification for ordering the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have said Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.

“There have been a number of options presented to the president over the course of time,” a senior administration official said, adding that it was “some time ago” that the president’s aides put assassinating Soleimani on the list of potential responses to Iranian aggression.

After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, officials said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to authorize the assassination, officials said.

But Trump rejected the idea, saying he’d take that step only if Iran crossed his red line: killing an American. The president’s message was “that’s only on the table if they hit Americans,” according to a person briefed on the discussion.

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Not even his cronies in the cabinet are supporting the stories he’s telling his cult in the Hatefests or to Hate Monger Laura Ingraham on Faux News (via WAPO).

In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, excerpts of which were released Friday afternoon, Trump expanded on comments from a day earlier, when he initially told reporters that Soleimani’s forces “were looking to blow up our embassy” in Baghdad. He later said at a rally in Toledo that “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad.”

Mike Esper did not carry water for the Liar-in-Chief yesterday on Face the Nation (via Raw Story).  Pompeo is still on the End Times Juice and is hanging in there with each shifting explanation

President Trump has claimed that Soleimani was plotting to  “blow up” the U.S. embassy in Baghdad as well as “four” other embassies, but according to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper speaking to CBS News, the claim of four embassies being targeted wasn’t based on an intelligence analysis; it was just something Trump “believed” to be true.

Esper confirmed that there was intelligence to support the claim that Soleimani was targeting the embassy in Baghdad and that intelligence was “shared with the Gang of Eight, not the broader membership of the Congress” — a claim that was somewhat contradicted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told NBC News that the information was indeed shared with Congress. According to Blake, therein lies the contradiction.

“…Esper now says he hasn’t seen intelligence on the threat to multiple embassies, whereas Pompeo said the ‘specific information’ about imminent threats included threats to those embassies,” Blake writes, adding that “even if we’re to accept that Pompeo was speaking loosely and the intelligence was really just about the one U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Esper said that information wasn’t shared with ‘the broader membership of the Congress,’ but only with the Gang of Eight. Pompeo, in contrast, said ‘we did’ when asked if the information about attacks on embassies was shared in that wider briefing. He later deflected when asked to re-confirm, but he did confirm.”

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I remembered Jeremy Scahill–writing for The Intercept--on the connections between Trump, Erick Prince, and ignorance and then a developing obsession on Suleimani.  He’s updated that information and this was his headline on January 3: “WITH SULEIMANI ASSASSINATION, TRUMP IS DOING THE BIDDING OF WASHINGTON’S MOST VILE CABAL”.

On August 3, 2016 — just three months before Donald Trump would win the Electoral College vote and ascend to power — Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged a meeting at Trump Tower. For decades, Prince had been agitating for a war with Iran and, as early as 2010, had developed a fantastical proposal for using mercenaries to wage it.

At this meeting was George Nader, an American citizen who had a long history of being a quiet emissary for the United States in the Middle East. Nader, who had also worked for Blackwater and Prince, was a convicted pedophile in the Czech Republic and is facing similar allegations in the United States. Nader worked as an adviser for the Emirati royals and has close ties to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.

There was also an Israeli at the Trump Tower meeting: Joel Zamel. He was there supposedly pitching a multimillion-dollar social media manipulation campaign to the Trump team. Zamel’s company, Psy-Group, boasts of employing former Israeli intelligence operatives. Nader and Zamel were joined by Donald Trump Jr. According to the New York Times, the purpose of the meeting was “primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months, past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office.”

One major common goal ran through the agendas of all the participants in this Trump Tower meeting: regime change in Iran. Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton’s firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration’s Iran policy at the State Department. Now Pompeo is the public face of the Suleimani assassination, while for his part, the fired Bolton didn’t want to be left out of the gruesome victory lap:

CNN picked up the Blackwater Back Channel.  This is a good summary from Raw story on the connection between the assassination and Erik Prince.  Again, the last attack by a Hezbollah proxy killed now American Soldiers but took out a “contractor”.  American soldiers were injured but not killed.

An American defense contractor whose death late last month was cited by President Trump amid escalating violence with Iran was identified Tuesday as an interpreter who was born in Iraq and lived in Sacramento.

Nawres Hamid, 33, became a naturalized citizen in 2017, according to his widow. He was the father of two boys, ages 2 and 8, she said.

In recent years, as an Arabic interpreter for U.S. forces in Iraq, Hamid was known to decorate his living space with pictures of the children, according to a co-worker.

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So, did we do this because of Erik Prince? John Bolton? Mike Pompeo? Who pushed the dementia-addled Dotard to do this outsized attack at mar a lago?

New details continue to emerge about Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

“Erik Prince, the Blackwater-founder-turned-unofficial-2016-Trump-campaign-adviser, advocated to the campaign years ago for the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, according to a recently disclosed memo that reveals some of the earliest thinking circulated within Donald Trump’s team regarding his approach to Iran,” CNN reported Saturday.

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The UK version of Business Insider believes Trump made the assassination orders based on GOP Senators.  This is based on Wall Street Journal reporting late last week.

President Donald Trump told associates that he assassinated Iran’s top military leader last week in part to appease Republican senators who’ll play a crucial role in his Senate impeachment trial, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a lengthy piece detailing how the president’s top advisers coalesced behind the strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, The Journal reported that Trump had told associates he felt pressured to satisfy senators who were pushing for stronger US action against Soleimani and who will run defense for him on impeachment.

One of Trump’s most outspoken supporters, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, appears to be the only congressional lawmaker Trump briefed about his plan to assassinate Soleimani in the days leading up to the strike.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida,” Graham told Fox News. “I appreciate being brought into the orbit.”

The South Carolina Republican, an Iran hawk, celebrated the controversial strike, which the administration did not seek congressional authorization to carry out. After Iran retaliated by hitting US-occupied Iraqi bases on Tuesday, Graham called the move “an act of war.”

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The other shocking part of the Ingraham interview was this via Crooks and Liars: “Trump Blasted For Bragging About ‘Selling’ American Troops To Saudi Arabia And S. Korea. ” Trump boasted to Fox’s Laura Ingraham during an interview last Friday that Saudi Arabia deposited a billion dollars “in the bank” for US troops being sent, and that South Korea is paying $500 million for troops as well.  So is this boast a truth, dare, or lie?

Attacking Nancy Pelosi and making up more threats to our embassies out of whole cloth weren’t the only crazy things to come out of Trump’s mouth during his softball interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham Friday night. Trump also told Ingraham that both Saudi Arabia and South Korea have deposited money into a “bank account” in exchange for more U.S. troops. Who this supposed “bank account” belongs to, he did not say.

Trump was rightfully taken to task on Twitter for the exchange by former Republican Rep. Justin Amash and others, who went after Trump for treating our troops like mercenaries, and would like to know, as I would, just where this money he’s talking about was deposited.

Rep. Justin Amash Blasts Trump For ‘Selling’ American Troops To Saudis:

Conservative Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) accused Donald Trump Saturday of “selling” American troops to Saudi Arabia after the president boasted that the nation has deposited $1 billion into a bank he did not identify for “more troops.”

“He sells troops,” Amash tersely noted in a tweet.

Other critics erupted on Twitter over a possible future in which U.S. soldiers could be sent as mercenaries to any high-bidding country to risk their lives, regardless of a nation’s ideology or rationale for fighting.

Others argued the country doesn’t deserve American support because of Saudi Arabia’s link to the vicious dismemberment and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was writing at the time for The Washington Post. Some pointed out that most of the hijackers in the 9/11 attack were Saudis.

And some wondered exactly where the Saudi $1 billion is.

Trump clearly saw nothing wrong with the idea. “Listen, you’re a very rich country,” he told Saudi officials, Trump recounted on Fox News. “You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.”

So, did the US take oil from Syria thereby committing a war crime and  did he send US troops as mercenaries to South  Korea and Saudi Arabia as mercenaries?   Inquiring minds want to know

Just one last item and it’s not related to the Lying Scumbag occupying the Oval Office.  Corey Booker has pulled out of the 2020 Presidential Race leaving former Mass. Governor Deval Patrick as the only black candidate in the race.  We clearly need a change in the way we elect president because it is truly odd that a party with a diverse base can only come up with a slate of mostly white senior citizens which is all the Republicans provide and work hard to ensure.

 

Mike Berbenes of Yahoo News asks this question: “Do Democrats have a diversity problem?”   Why is it that everyone thinks the safest way to get Trump out of the White House is to sic a white man on him?  

Many on the left have expressed concern that an all-white top tier of the Democratic field might alienate voters of color that the eventual nominee will need to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. One of the key reasons Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 was a decline in black voter turnout. Others have argued that the party has a duty to represent its base so issues that matter to the various racial and ideological constituencies are heard.

Castro echoed a popular sentiment among liberals in blaming the primary process for the lack of diversity in the field. Having the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire vote first, he argued, puts minority candidates at a disadvantage. Part of the criteria for debate qualification is how many donors a candidate has — which some argue disadvantages minority voters who are less likely to have disposable income.

Some analysts say the lack of minority representation in the Democratic field isn’t as big of a problem as it may seem. The top of the field is actually historically diverse if you look beyond race, some argue, with a woman, a Jewish man and a gay man among the top three candidates. There’s also a significant chance that the nominee will choose a person of color as their running mate.

Others have argued that it’s reductive to think black and Latino voters would only be excited about candidates of their own race. Part of the reason Castro, Harris and Booker have struggled is because the demographics they represent have given steady support to white candidates. Joe Biden has a strong advantage among black voters, and Bernie Sanders has been the top choice of Latinos.

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Yeah, right. I forgot. Everything is Hillary’s fault.

So, we have a debate on Tuesday Night, impeachment articles are heading to the Senate, and I’m tired of being bullied and gaslighted by what’s supposed to pass as a leader in the USA.  I’m as confused as any one on this slate of candidates including the sudden interest in Steyer.   This NPR article kinda sums it up for me the kid who grew up in Iowa.  The debate will be at Drake University which is my sister’s Alma mater.

Without Yang or Booker (who failed to qualify for the debate and suspended his campaign on Monday), the debate will not have even one person of color.

Those who remain will, as always, strive to differentiate themselves from each other while proving they have what it takes to defeat President Trump in November. Iowans will have their chance to weigh in on that question in three weeks during the party’s precinct-level caucuses on Feb. 3.

And that suggests something else that may seem missing Tuesday night: a clear favorite. The well-respected Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll now has Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leading in Iowa, but the average of polls nationwide and in other early voting states still shows a modest preference for former Vice President Joe Biden.

At this point, it is possible to imagine either emerging from the early voting states as a bona fide front-runner in time for Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states will vote, including delegate-rich California and Texas.

But it is also possible to imagine neither of them doing so, and thus to imagine Super Tuesday as a hodgepodge of conflicting results.

What’s on you reading and blogging list tonight?

 


Sunday Reads: S-T-O-M-P-E-R

Just dial #STOMPER!

Innit about time we had a #tRumper hotline?

At least there is this bit of news:

This as well:

And then there is this story on a train:

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Holy Hell, Holy Sh*t

Good morning, when I started writing this post, I had no idea about the new battlefields in Iraq.

So…some of the cartoons may be a little, dated. Here’s to WWIII

What the fuck is wrong with these people? “Holy Hell?”

https://twitter.com/mcfaul/status/1214775041109442560?s=21

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Day 1080: Very cool of Iran to spare the Tomb of the Unknown Hairline. #presidentfulldiaper #unfit #asteriskpresident #magaisformorons #thedailydon

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Aww don’t worry President Corned Beef Personality, I’m sure you’ll draw a massive crowd when it’s your time. #sad #bebest #asteriskpresident #magaisformorons #trumpcrimefamily #thedailydon

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As if all that wasn’t bad enough,

Lastly, a bit down under:

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Among the many apocalyptic scenes from the Australian bush fires has been the presence of explosive, towering clouds appearing in the skies above the fire zones of southeastern Australia. These clouds are fire-generated thunderstorms. Their presence is an indication that a fire is exhibiting extreme behavior, such as spreading quickly beyond containment lines, switching its direction of movement, and even whipping up fire whirls and full-fledged fire tornadoes. The fires have been so intense that they’ve lofted smoke particles all the way into the stratosphere, in part through the clouds that in some cases look more like explosions. Once in the stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere above where most weather occurs, in the troposphere, these particles can travel thousands of miles and even influence regional and global climate. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.

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My illustration for the Australian bushfires. I can’t seem to find any more words that haven’t already been said, there’s only sorrow and tragedy. I pray for Australia, the people, and wildlife…🙏🇦🇺 #saveaustralia#pen#watercolor#penart#watercolorart 🖤 Edit: I’m so incredibly humbled by the overwhelming response to my illustration. Thank you all for the tremendous support! I thought I would try to help any way I can by providing some links to organisations/volunteer work to donate to, on my Facebook page. Link to my Facebook is on my bio. Any donation big or small can go a long way to help!❤️#helpaustralia

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my heart hurts for Australia 💔 here is a list of places you can donate to if you’re able to! feel free to add more in the comments if I missed any! 🦘 @wireswildliferescue, @redcrossau, @1300koalaz, @cfavic, @act_wildlife, @wildlifevictoria 💓

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This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: The Official End of the American Century is Here

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Félix Vallotton, Landscape of Ruins and Fires, 1914

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I miss my Dad every day. I miss talking to him and the way he used to call out baseball games to me in his last days including the little league championship.  He was many things but perhaps more than any thing he was defined by his service in the Army Air Corps during World War 2 where he flew missions that sped the Allies movement on the ground to Berlin and Victory and freed the French and Belgian people from German Occupation.

He never spoke about it much but when he did the stories were fascinating.  My favorite was when his squad flew under Jimmy Stewart and he described how that rich voice filled the com.  He had a picture of his crew that he kept by his favorite reading chair along with family pictures. He would always tell me that the solider that took that picture never came back the day after he took the photo from a mission that was particularly harrowing. The unstated truth was that Dad’s bomber and crew were fortunate to get back to England.

I suppose it’s only fitting that we are seeing  the last of the so-called “greatest generation” during every patriotic event.  They are aging and dying as is the fate of all humans. The dynamics of the 20th century ended with a world order established by the dynamics of both World Wars but definitely the War against Fascism.  It’s odd that I always thought so much of what was dubbed the American Century would last through at least my lifetime if not my children with modifications and improvements.  I still figured that the US would be firmly planted as the standard bearer as more joined those ranks. As of this weekend, I no longer believe this to be the case.

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Michelle Possum Nungarrayi (Australian, b. 1968), Bush Fire Dreaming, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 91 cm

We currently have no standards to bear under the Trumpist regime and I now believe that we have fallen beyond any grace we may have earned during the American Century.  The world forgave us many sins from Vietnam to even the disastrous invasion of Iraq.  They may have actually had some hope for us as we signed with other nations agreements to trade, address climate change, and work with Iran to find a more stable situation with less fear of nukes.

We have lost whatever grace we earned now because we have allowed a group of aggrieved white nationalists with a twisted version of Christianity to grab power. They brought us Trump. They plotted and planned a cleansing of the Republican Party who rolled over with belly up to get their votes for policies supporting the rich and greedy.  Establishment appeasement failed and now End Timers and White Nationalists have that party wholesale.

As we lose our grip on world leadership, I can only hope that its future hands are not those of Russia and China although Chinese dominance of the global economy will only grow and the multilateral agreement to keep that in check was also one of the things Trump tossed out even though it was the product of a few administrations and not solely that of Obama’s.  Just as we left so many nuclear pacts, we have also left the Paris Accord and Australia is burning with no aid from us.  It is likely a harbinger to what may happen in California and other of our southwestern states.

I had this realization last night as some of the inevitable things happened as a result of Trump’s desperation to become a war time president to possibly boost his re-election chances and his ego during impeachment.  We–as a nation–must find a new way eventually but one that will not put us as a shining city on the hill.  Let us hope we will not stay firmly in pariah nation status.  I do know this.  A country should NEVER put into power a group of people whose vision of redemption and heaven includes the end of the world.  Iran chose that path 40 years ago.  We have joined them in that same messianic, deluded vision and Fuck Pence and Pompeo and all they stand for.

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Eugene von Guerard, Bush Fire between Mt. Elephant and Timboon, Australia, 1857

With those depressing thoughts on my mind, let’s get to my suggested reads.  My Thanks to author Rabih Aalameddine (@rabinhalameddine) whose tweets those morning provided these hellish versions of war and fire.

No one knows what’s coming next.  However, every one that’s every had anything to do with the markets the last four decades knows that when these things happen it will leader to higher oil prices and stock prices for defense firms.  Everything else will head downwards.  This is from Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance.

Oil extended its gains, briefly surpassing $70 a barrel in London for the first time since September, as Middle East tensions flared after the U.S. assassinated one of Iran’s most powerful generals.

Futures rose as much as 3.1% on Monday as the U.S. State Department warned of a “heightened risk” of missile attacks near energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Prices later gave up some of the gains. President Donald Trump reiterated threats of retaliation should Iran “do anything” and vowed heavy sanctions against Iraq if American troops are forced to leave OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

The clash is fanning fears that a wider conflict could disrupt supply from the region, which provides almost a third of the world’s oil. Prices haven’t hit these levels since an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September — which the U.S. blamed on Iran — briefly halted about 5% of global output.

“Crude has some more risk pricing to do,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group in Bethesda, Maryland, and former White House oil official under President George W. Bush. “We are going to grind through the $70s up toward $80 Brent as Iran calibrates and executes its retaliation.”

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John Martin, The Great Day of His Wrath, 1851

As I just said,  fuck Pompeo. a chief messianic delusionism advocate and all around horrid person.  This is from WAPO: “Killing of Soleimani follows long push from Pompeo for aggressive action against Iran, but airstrike brings serious risks”.

The greenlighting of the airstrike near Baghdad airport represents a bureaucratic victory for Pompeo, but it also carries multiple serious risks: another protracted regional war in the Middle East; retaliatory assassinations of U.S. personnel stationed around the world; an interruption in the battle against the Islamic State; the closure of diplomatic pathways to containing Iran’s nuclear program; and a major backlash in Iraq, whose parliament voted on Sunday to expel all U.S. troops from the country.

For Pompeo, whose political ambitions are a source of constant speculation, the death of U.S. diplomats would be particularly damaging given his unyielding criticisms of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton following the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other American personnel in Benghazi in 2012.

But none of those considerations stopped Pompeo from pushing for the targeted strike, U.S. officials said, underscoring a fixation on Iran that spans 10 years of government service from Congress to the CIA to the State Department.

“We took a bad guy off the battlefield. We made the right decision,” Pompeo told CNN. “I’m proud of the effort that President Trump undertook.”

Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Soleimani months ago, said a senior U.S. official, but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation.

For more than a year, defense officials warned that the administration’s campaign of economic sanctions against Iran had increased tensions with Tehran, requiring a bigger and bigger share of military resources in the Middle East when many at the Pentagon wanted to redeploy their firepower to East Asia.

Trump, too, sought to draw down from the Middle East as he promised from the opening days of his presidential campaign. But that mind-set shifted on Dec. 27 when 30 rockets hit a joint U.S.-Iraqi base outside Kirkuk, killing an American civilian contractor and injuring service members.

On Dec. 29, Pompeo, Esper and Milley traveled to the president’s private club in Florida, where the two defense officials presented possible responses to Iranian aggression, including the option of killing Soleimani, senior U.S. officials said.

Trump’s decision to target Soleimani came as a surprise and a shock to some officials briefed on his decision, given the Pentagon’s long-standing concerns about escalation and the president’s aversion to using military force against Iran.

One significant factor was the “lockstep” coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida.

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by Elbert Hubbard, published 1914

So, the push to assassinate an Irani general. was made by two proponents of heaven comes if we blow up the right people and then the world and a former Defense Lobbyist.  Isn’t that just ducky?  So, in game theory, we frequently speak of second and third order conditions which basically occur in a game that occurs over time when one party makes a move and then there are more moves to come. “Stategery” was never a strong point for any of the Neocons who just wanted to “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”.  It continues to look the same way with the Trumpists.  This is from Axios  that is part of the media trying to chase the next moves that have so far included expulsion of US and allied troops from Iraq and Iran annoucing it will take revenge and it will ended its nuclear pause.

The Trump administration tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade top Iraqi officials to kill a parliamentary effort to force the U.S. military out of Iraq, according to two U.S. officials and an Iraqi government official familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution today calling on the Iraqi government to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, after the U.S killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a leader of an Iraqi militia with a drone strike near Baghdad airport.

  • This resolution could ultimately lead to the U.S. military being forced out of Iraq. But the outcome remains uncertain, and the prime minister who needs to sign it recently resigned.

“I think it would be inconvenient for us, but it would be catastrophic for Iraq,” said a U.S. official familiar with the Trump administration’s effort to block the vote. “It’s our concern that Iraq would take a short-term decision that would have catastrophic long-term implications for the country and its security.”

  • “But it’s also, what would happen to them financially,” the official added, “if they allowed Iran to take advantage of their economy to such an extent that they would fall under the sanctions that are on Iran?” (Countries can be subject to the sanctions if they engage in certain kinds of trade with Iran.)
  • “We don’t want to see that. We’re trying very hard to work to have that not happen,” the official said.

The United States is disappointed by the action taken today in the Iraqi Council of Representatives,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

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Rufino Tamayo – Children Playing with Fire – 1947

The NYT has more information on the Iranian decision to ends its participation in Nuclear Restrictions.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, he justified his unilateral action by saying the accord was flawed, in part because the major restrictions on Iran ended after 15 years, when Tehran would be free to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wanted.

But now, instead of buckling to American pressure, Iran declared on Sunday that those restrictions are over — a decade ahead of schedule. Mr. Trump’s gambit has effectively backfired.

Iran’s announcement essentially sounded the death knell of the 2015 nuclear agreement. And it largely re-creates conditions that led Israel and the United States to consider destroying Iran’s facilities a decade ago, again bringing them closer to the potential of open conflict with Tehran that was avoided by the accord.

Iran did stop short of abandoning the entire deal on Sunday, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and its foreign minister held open the possibility that his nation would return to its provisions in the future — if Mr. Trump reversed course and lifted the sanctions he has imposed since withdrawing from the accord.

That, at least, appeared to hold open the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp to the major escalation in hostilities since the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the second most powerful official in Iran and head of the Quds Force.

But some leading experts declared that the effort to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy was over. “It’s finished,” David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said in an interview. “If there’s no limitation on production, then there is no deal.”

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Paul Klee, Fire in the Evening, 1929

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced an initiative to address the Authorization of Use of the Military or the so-called War Powers Act today.  This is from the Speaker’s web page.

Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials.  This action endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.

As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe.  For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.

This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran.  This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate.  It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.

The House Resolution will be led by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.  Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst specializing in Shia militias.  She served multiple tours in the region under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

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Henry Darger’s hands of fire

Here’s some news on the responses from Congress at NBC News: “Pelosi announces war powers resolution as tensions with Iran escalate. Pelosi said “the Trump administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials.”

On Sunday, Iraq’s Parliament voted to ask its government to end the presence of U.S. troops in the country, while Iranian state TV reported that Iran will no longer abide by any limits of the 2015 nuclear deal — an agreement Trump withdrew from in 2018.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, D-N.J., wrote to Trump asking him to “immediately declassify in full the January 4, 2020, war powers notification you submitted to Congress following the U.S. military operation targeting” Soleimani.

“It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner,” the senators wrote. “An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification.”

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said members of Congress “will be briefed, but they should also calm down” and “celebrate” Soleimani’s death.

She said it was “fine” for Trump to order an airstrike killing Soleimani without congressional authority, comparing it to former President Barack Obama ordering the mission to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

There’s some news from the Democratic Primary Front.  Former Candidate Julian Castro has endorsed Elizabeth Warren.

Mr. Castro announced his endorsement on Monday morning, just days after he ended his own bid for the White House. In a statement, Mr. Castro cast Ms. Warren as the logical extension of his campaign’s social-justice-driven message, which seeks to correct inequities through targeted policy proposals. He will campaign with Ms. Warren this week, joining her Tuesday night at a rally at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

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Ralph Albert Blakelock (American, 1847-1919), Forest Fire, ca. 1890

David Leonhardt argues that Amy Klobucher is the candidate that can beat Trump.  He likens her to Harry Truman of all people.

So where are you supposed to find a comfortably electable, qualified candidate who won’t turn 80 while in office?

Senator Amy Klobuchar has become an answer to that question in the final month before voting begins. She has outlasted more than a dozen other candidates and has two big strengths: A savvy understanding of how to campaign against President Trump and a track record of winning the sorts of swing voters Democrats will likely need this year.

Klobuchar, to be sure, is not a finished product as a presidential candidate. Too often, she sounds like a senator speaking in legislative to-do lists rather than a future president who can inspire voters. That tendency — along with too much needling of other candidates, instead of focusing on her own message — was evident in the most recent debate.

Yet she still emerged as one of the debate’s winners, and she is enjoying a burst of new attention. She raised more than twice as much money, $11.4 million, in the fourth quarter of 2019 than the third quarter. When I ask top Democrats which candidate has the best chance of beating Trump, Klobuchar is often their answer. If party leaders still chose nominees, she might now be the favorite.

In that way, she reminds me of another Midwestern senator who once seemed too ordinary to be president: Harry Truman. In the summer of 1944, an even more perilous time for global democracy than now, Democratic Party grandees chose Truman as vice president with the belief that he would soon be president, given Franklin Roosevelt’s declining health.

Truman was (as Klobuchar is) a loyal Democrat with populist leanings whom many Republicans, both senators and voters, nonetheless felt some affection for. He had a folksy manner and heartland accent. He was also a long shot for the nomination when the process began. The analogy extends to Klobuchar’s best-known weakness: Truman had a temper, too.

And it’s epiphany, you may now eat king cake!!!

I’m haunted by dreams of fire and animals.  It’s been three nights in a row now and the horror of Australia is getting to me.  Here are some suggestions on where you can donate funds if you feel so inclined and you are able.

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


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: “He will Kill us All’

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, the Iran Situation is turning into the usual Trumpian Clusterfuck. And, this is what some Dems on Facebook. etc want in his place:

“Grampa Simpson runs for president”

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia.

I watched the Battle for Winterfield again last night. I can’t seem to get enough of the haunting “Night King” composition by Ramin Djawadi. I also keep looking for Arya to creep up behind what passes for our President these days with something that vaporizes him. Plus, there’s Joe imploding as he usually does to a chorus of but he’s our only hope. Voters of American, if Joe Biden is your answer you are asking the wrong damned question! The Grampa Simpson take is from politico and the keyboard of John F. Harris.

As thunderbolts crash around him, Joe Biden is facing an urgent question: What exactly is the rationale for his presidential candidacy?

The answers given by Biden sympathizers usually are rooted in character and personal history. Here is a decent man who has lived long and seen a lot, through setbacks and tragedy, and knows enough to understand and defend the timeless virtues that are so absent but also so needed in modern Washington. Late in life, the man and moment are in harmony at last for a heroic final chapter.

I’m sorry but Biden’s record in Congress and his habit of serially plagiarizing others, his treatment of Dr. Hill, and his damn inability to apologize for being totally insensitive to the feelings of others is disqualifying. A decent man does none of those things. A decent man realizes when what he says and does hurts others intentionally or not and he freaking APOLOGIZES and he makes amends and he works to never EVER do it again!

The hope is that voters will embrace Biden as a kind of American Churchill.

The past 24 hours raise, not for the first time, a more painful possibility: Grampa Simpson is running for president.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden bristled indignantly on Wednesday evening. But that wasn’t the primary concern about a 76-year-old’s paean to his youthful past, in which conscientious senators like himself supposedly could work productively and with “civility” even with segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia, that his values and assumptions were shaped by the last generation or even the one before that, that after many years in public life he still lacks the self-awareness or self-discipline to wonder whether modern voters will find his vagrant ruminations about the past as interesting or relevant as he does.

I’m not voting for fucking Joe Biden and I’m not going to be bullied into it or pleaded into it or kumbayah’d into it. Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.

Biden, during 48 years on the national scene, has never had an especially strong ideological profile: He’s been a reasonably centrist Democrat for all of them. When he has deviated it was usually in right-leaning directions, as with his opposition to forced busing for integration in the 1970s or his support for expanding crimes covered by the death penalty in the 1990s.

Or his treatment of women and his real views on Abortion rights.

This history means that the most likely answer to the “why Biden” challenge will rest on character. The evidence of the past couple days—redundant to evidence amassed over several decades—is that if voters are going to embrace Biden’s character they must also embrace or overlook his penchant for the cringe-worthy remark. And realize that often the most cringey remarks will flirt with racial themes.

And misogynist and handsy. And yeah, totally ignoring any one at any time when it’s inconvenient for him.

Now, about the problem of Trump and his inability to have a cogent thought, any kind of strategy, and finding good people that can do that for him. This is the headline I woke up to from the NYT: “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back.” Sort’ve sounds like a headline made for an impotent, senile old man doesn’t it? Only this one is not just playing with himself. He is the Commander and Chief and that should make all of us very afraid. Did some bad men shoot down your unmanned toy?

Yes he charged forward and then pulled out. Brave Brave Sir Donald! Dumb Dumb Sir Donald! This piece is written by the usual suspects: Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

There’s no adult in charge of the Pentagon right now. WTF? Why even think about this unless John Bolton is sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet war diatribes in your ear?

Jacqueline Alemany writes this for WAPO :Power Up: Impeachment, Iran, Immigration: Trump’s “I” word trifecta”

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they’re also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.

  • “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
  • Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.

These are a lot for a person with a sound mind to deal with but I can’t even begin–and wouldn’t want to be there–to wander through the mind of Dotard Donald. You order your military on a mission and THEN you worry about fucking casualties? If this doesn’t move the impeachment meter, we’ve got no hope for the republic.

President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”

Such a death toll was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

Trump’s Friday morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.

Iran said Friday the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.

Look. Old white men have been making bad decisions and failing upwards for way too long. They’ve been using the rest of us and ignorning what it does to us on the way.. Today just really reminds me of why it’s necessary to look for a leader that knows what it takes to face a complete uphill battle and still get there. It’s time for a different brand of leadership. I’m tired of being scared to death by ego and sheer incompetence.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Listen to this haunting background to the peak of the Battle for Winterfall and enjoy the work of this very talented musician and composer.


Friday Reads: Bang The Drum Slowly but Loudly!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Do you remember the lead up to the needless invasion of Iraq? Having flashbacks yet? According to The UK Independent, “Trump administration providing ‘false’ information about Gulf of Oman attack, says Japanese tanker owner.”

The owner of the Japanese tanker attacked on Thursday said US reports have provided “false” information about what happened in the Gulf of Oman

The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested. 

Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline. 

“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Mr Katada said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, the Financial Times reported. 

Donald Trump’s administration has meanwhile insisted the attacks were carried out by Iran, which has denied having any involvement in either of the two incidents. 

The US insists that they have video of Iran taking a mine off of one of the ships.  This story line makes no sense to me.  What does Iran have to gain from attacking Japanese tankers and goods at a time when the regime is speaking to the leader of Japan for the first time since its revolution?  Also, there is continuing evidence that Iran has been living up to its agreements with the rest of the World.  Is this a false flag operation or some other weirdish situation Trump has set up to look like the role he loves to play most which is the aggrieved victim fighting back against some evil force?

Iran accused Washington of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it, while Trump countered that the country was “a nation of terror.”

“Iran did do it,” he said of the attack, in remarks Friday morning to “Fox & Friends.”

The black-and-white U.S. video of the Iranians alongside the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous came after its crew abandoned ship after seeing the undetonated explosive on its hull, said Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command. It separately shared photos of the vessel, which showed what appeared to be a conical limpet mine against its side.

In the video, the boat from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside Kokuka Courageous at 4:10 p.m. Thursday. The Iranians reach up and grab along where the limpet mine could be seen in the photo. They then sail away.

Limpet mines, which are magnetic and attach to a ship’s hull, are designed to disable a vessel without sinking it.

Analysts say Iran, if involved, wouldn’t want investigators to find an unexploded mine because they could check its serial numbers and other attributes to trace it.

Banging drums and making empty noises have always been a thing for religious nuts.  Adam Serwer discusses the role of culture wars by the religious right in Trumpistan at The Atlantic.   I don’t understand why these folks don’t get we don’t want to live within the parameters of their mythology.  Wanting them and their awful ways out of secular life and government is not an act of discrimination or oppression.

By the tail end of the Obama administration, the culture war seemed lost. The religious right sued for détente, having been swept up in one of the most rapid cultural shifts in generations. Gone were the decades of being able to count on attacking its traditional targets for political advantage. In 2013, Chuck Cooper, the attorney defending California’s ban on same-sex marriage, begged the justices to allow same-sex-marriage opponents to lose at the ballot box rather than in court. Conservatives such as George Will and Rod Drehergriped that LGBTQ activists were “sore winners,” intent on imposing their beliefs on prostrate Christians, who, after all, had already been defeated.

The rapidity of that cultural shift, though, should not obscure the contours of the society that the religious right still aspires to preserve: a world where women have no control over whether to carry a pregnancy to term, same-sex marriage is illegal, and gays and lesbians can be arrested and incarcerated for having sex in their own homes and be barred from raising children. The religious right showed no mercy and no charity toward these groups when it had the power to impose its will, but when it lost that power, it turned to invoking the importance of religious tolerance and pluralism in a democratic society.

That was then. The tide of illiberalism sweeping over Western countries and the election of Donald Trump have since renewed hope among some on the religious right that it might revive its cultural control through the power of the state. Inspired by Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Vladimir Putin in Russia, a faction of the religious right now looks to sectarian ethno-nationalism to restore its beliefs to their rightful primacy, and to rescue a degraded and degenerate culture. All that stands in their way is democracy, and the fact that most Americans reject what they have to offer.

The past few weeks have witnessed a nasty internecine fight among religious conservatives about whether liberal democracy’s time has passed. Sohrab Ahmari, writing at First Thingsattacked National Review’s David French for adhering to a traditional commitment to liberal democracy while “the overall balance of forces has tilted inexorably away from us.” Would the left have stood by liberal democracy in the face of such circumstances? In fact, the balance of forces tilted away from the left’s cultural priorities for most of my lifetime, and the left’s response was to win arguments—slowly, painfully, and at incalculable personal cost.

Many religious conservatives see antidiscrimination laws that compel owners of public accommodations to serve all customers, laws that might compel priests to break the seal of confession if they are told of child abuse, and the growing acceptance of trans people as a kind of impending apocalypse. It is no surprise that among their co-partisans, Ahmari seems to have the upper hand here; in such circles, “Crush your enemies” almost always plays better than “The other side has rights too.”

What follows is a diatribe that you’ll really suffer through but must read. 

We may be rid of Sarah Huckabee shortly but “The Queen of Gaslighting” is being encouraged to run for Arkansas Governor.  

When Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty, the first impulse was to laugh.

But lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.

Sanders took on an impossible job when she became Trump’s spokeswoman, a job that’s about to reach a welcome conclusion.

She would claim to represent the truth on behalf of a president who lies.

She did it disrespectfully, and apparently without shame or an understanding of what the role of White House press secretary should be.

She misled reporters or tried to, and through them, misled the American people. And all with her distinctive curled-lip disdain.

Thus, she delivered on what New York University professor Jay Rosen has called the “brand promise” of the Trump administration’s treatment of the press: “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”

 

Watching the Hatch Act go do in flames has another distressing bit of today’s news.  Conway’s violations have been punished with fines but sneering and asking about the court dates and handcuffs is just over the top  It is also a place where the Russian Potted Plant in the White House shows complete ignorance of the US Constitution and law.

Kellyanne Conway’s potential Hatch Act violations are anything but surprising.  Even less of a shock is President Donald Trump’s blatant apathy that a senior staffer openly and routinely flouts federal law.  Realistically, none of us expected Trump to fire Conway simply because it’s the recommended course of action. Still, though, it’s always jarring when the president proves that he doesn’t actually understand how the law works.

Trump’s official comment about Conway’s Hatch Act violations was that he’d submit himself to a “very strong briefing,” but that, “It looks to me they’re trying to take away her right from free speech, which is not fair.”

Trump might be interested to learn that a great many statutes abridge free speech.  Defamatory, inciteful, or obscene speech is properly prohibited by law. So is speech that violates a person’s medical privacy, that which violates court orders, and many, many other categories of communications.  Equating “free speech” with “absolutely unrestricted speech” is an error usually relegated to grade-schoolers who are still learning the words to the Star-Spangled Banner.

The purpose of the First Amendment was never to create a country in which any person could say anything at any time without consequences – it was to create one in which political discourse was unstifled by government. In fact, the Hatch Act is an example of a statute that abridges free speech for the purpose of keeping the government from inserting itself too much into politics.

Meanwhile, grifters continue to grift. The Trump Family Crime Syndicate also doesn’t believe the emollients clause of the US Constitution applies to Trump’s holdings. From Bloomberg:  “Ivanka Trump Made $4 Million From President’s Washington Hotel”.

Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in her father’s Washington hotel last year, according to a disclosure released by the White House on Friday.

She also made at least $1 million from her line of branded apparel, jewelry and other merchandise, down from at least $5 million in the previous year. Trump, 37, announced in July that she was closing her fashion businesses amid controversies over her role in the White House and after some big-name department stores dropped the brand.

Together, Trump and husband Jared Kushner earned between $28.8 million and $135.1 million in outside income while working as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, their disclosures, which covers 2018, show.

The reports, which list the assets and sources of income for Ivanka Trump, her husband and dependent children, have yet to be approved by the White House counsel’s office. They will also be reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics.

Well, here’s something from US New Today.  What do we do with “Trump Era Anxiety” ?’  The wisdom beings know I have no clues.  I meditate. I try to grade and limit my exposure to newspapers and TV but I’ve never been one to be attracted to reading anything or watching anything much but nonfiction.  I’m actually stumped but I can tell you that I’ve said the Mani Mantra so much over the last few years it should have liberated something.  We’ve gone from near war with North Korea to bromance and now near war with Iran.  We keep losing voting and civil rights. WTF can calm us?

More than two years after Donald Trump took the oath of office, many Americans find themselves not just taking sides – sometimes vehemently – but growing mentally anxious and exhausted, experts say.

“We know the polarization has been growing for decades but I think it’s spiking now because there’s so much division around and about this president,” said Bill Doherty, a long-time family therapist who has been watching the anger up close. “I think it’s worse now because there’s a central figure. A lot of reds did not like Obama at all, but their loathing of Obama wasn’t even close to the loathing blues have for Trump.”

“Reds” are Republicans and “Blues” are Democrats according to a group called Better Angels, which Doherty helped start in 2017 when it became clear half the country was having trouble getting over the election result and the other half resented them for not being able to accept it gracefully.

Doherty, a family social science professor who also runs the Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, has tried to resolve a number of family splits over political differences.

There was the adult son living abroad, who upon finding out his mother and father voted for Trump, told them “you’re no longer my parents.” In another case, a wife told her husband that she would divorce him if he voted for Trump.

To her, “it was like voting for Chancellor (Adolf) Hitler,” Doherty recalled. “We don’t share values.”

A study last year by political science researchers from four different universities found that many Americans are “dehumanizing” the political opposition. More than three-quarters of respondents rated their political opponents as less evolved than members of their own party, the study concluded.

One of its authors, Alexander Theodoridis of the University of California-Merced, calls efforts such as Better Angels an “encouraging” step to lower the temperature of political discourse. But he’s not optimistic.

“There is little reason to expect dinners and meet-ups to overcome the divides in our body politic,” he wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “For many Americans, they are a clash between people like ‘us’ and people like ‘them.’  It becomes increasingly easy to attribute pernicious motives to our opponents, and increasingly difficult to stomach compromise with them.”

In January, 87% of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance during 2018 versus only 8% of Democrats who did, according to a Gallup poll. That 79-percentage-point difference is the largest Gallup has measured in any presidential year to date.

Yes, Yes it’s a problem but wtf can we do?  Evidently, there’s a few groups trying to bridge the gap.  You can read more about them.  Meanwhile, I’m going to throw myself into work and find some fantasy fiction.  I can’t handle this world right now.

So, that’s it for me today.  What’s on you reading and blogging list?

 

 


Monday Reads

Monday Strikes Again!

So, BB and I could not figure out anything that made sense about the “Q Anon” stuff that was a press hot item last week.  Do you remember back in the day before the internet was overtaken by commercial interests and most of its denizens were academic nerdy types like me?  Well, folks started inventing real life versions of fanfic games including maps, and secrets, and treasures that may have followed a reality set up by a game console game. Most of it was just really bad fanfic too.  The entire QAnon thing just read like really, really bad fanfic to me. and that is what it now appears to be.  Its motivation was to evidently drive boomers nuts and it’s evidently a leftie bro thing. The nonsensical conspiracy site was called “Bread Crumbs.”

According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a “criminal president” who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.

Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.

Q regularly drops clues that followers call “crumbs,” which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn’t happen

See, bad fanfic. But the bottom line, with tons of documentation at the Buzzfeed piece citied here is that it was a hoax which finally makes sense to me.  Imagine bored dateless BernieBros in a basement some where ….

“Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There’s no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who’s pulling it on whom?” they said.

They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. “If [QAnon’s] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?”

So, now that’s cleared up the press can leave it alone.  There are real things out there.  That sucking sound you hear are wages and wealth going to the richest of the rich.

On May 8th, Brookings officially launched a new initiative on the Future of the Middle Class. Through this initiative, we will publish research, analysis, and insights that are motivated by a desire to improve the quality of life for those in America’s middle class and to improve upward mobility into its ranks. We have already wrestled with how we define this group, considered its changing racial composition, and called upon experts to outline major policies geared toward improving its fate. But why all of this attention? Here are seven of the reasons we are worried about the American middle class.

Today, I feel the “dismal” in the dismal science meme.  Retirement prospects for many Boomers includes Bankruptcy.

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.

The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.

Well, that’s no surprise.  It’s also no surprise that Trump is behaving badly on the World Stage again. “Trump signs order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it ‘deeply’ regrets.”  Well, we knew Bolten had to be getting something to help with all that Putin Ass Kissing.

Donald Trump has signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it “deeply” regretted.

Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of wide range of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of a wide range of  of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. A second set will be reimposed in a further three months.

“[The Iran nuclear deal] a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased.  The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.”

In the aftermath of Mr Trump’s unilateral decision in May, the other parties to the 2015 deal – Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with the deal and to and continue to trade with Iran. Several companies, such as French-based Airbus, felt obliged to pull out of a deal with Iran, rather than risk sanctions from Washington.

The revoking of licensees to the company and its rival, Boeing, saw the aircraft manufacturer lose out on a $39bn deal with Tehran for new planes. Easing sanctions such as this was a major inducement get Tehran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The executive order signed on Monday, which will come into effect at midnight EST, releases to the purchase or acquisition of US currency Iran, the trade in gold and other precious metals, materials such as graphite, aluminium, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes. They also target the country’ automotive sector.

The remaining sanctions to be reimposed on November 5 relate to Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. Crucially, they will also target its oil industry and foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

It’s like he’s single handedly destroying our economic, world order, and the environment.   This news is awful but typical Trump policy.

Two of America’s biggest steel manufacturers — both with deep ties to administration officials — have successfully objected to hundreds of requests by American companies that buy foreign steel to exempt themselves from President Trump’s stiff metal tariffs. They have argued that the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers.

Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary filmmade by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump, and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel, which has previously employed several top administration officials, have objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the past several months.

To date, their efforts have never failed, resulting in denials for companies that are based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence over the exclusions process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. But the boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.

And the psychic trauma will only increase:

But after watching Trump for all this time, there’s no reason to beat around the bush on this question anymore. Donald Trump is a racist, and we all know it. He could barely have tried any harder to convince us. Not only did he turn himself into a political figure by making himself America’s most prominent birther, he repeatedly demanded to see Barack Obama’s high school and college transcripts, on the theory that Obama couldn’t possibly have been smart enough to get into Columbia and Harvard Law School on his own merit. He ran a white nationalist campaign for president, and said that the judge in his Trump University fraud cause couldn’t be fair because “He’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American). On multiple occasions he retweeted racist memes from white supremacists. In a White House meeting about immigration, he said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and complained that once Nigerian immigrants had seen the United States they would never “go back to their huts” (Nigerian immigrants are one of the most highly educated groups in America). He meets a group of Native American war heroes, and decides to bring up the fact that he insults Elizabeth Warren by calling her “Pocahontas.” And of course, he called non-white nations “shithole countries” and averred that a group of neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis were “very fine people.”

So we know who Donald Trump is, and why he says what he does. The fact that much of what Trump says about African Americans is performative—a public show meant to keep his base angry—doesn’t mean that the bigotry isn’t sincerely felt.

This is a good reminder that Trump’s 2020 campaign will be no less built on hate than his 2016 campaign was. In fact, it could be even more so. Trump will no longer be able to plausibly argue that there’s a system controlled by an elite that’s keeping regular people down, since he and his party are the ones with all the power. So it’s likely that he’ll rely even more heavily on white nationalism to get re-elected.

The weirdest thing happened Sunday in a Twitler Special that basically was a confession to collusion and to a cover up.

Donald Trump has admitted for the first time that his son met a Kremlin-connected lawyer in 2016 to collect information about Hillary Clinton, but insists the meeting was legal.

In one of a series of Sunday morning tweets issued in apparent reaction to a CNN report, the US president wrote: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

That explanation differs entirely from one given by Trump 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

The 2016 meeting is pivotal to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation, though Trump’s tweets appeared aimed at conveying the message that he is not worried about Donald Trump Jr’s exposure to the inquiry.

He made the remarks as one of his lawyers warned the special counsel against trying to force the president to be interviewed.

The dude seriously keeps admitting to crimes. Why can’t we lock hIm up?   “President Trump changes story in Twitter rant admitting Trump Tower meeting was to gather intel on Hillary Clinton.”

The President’s latest social media meltdown was in reaction to what he called a “complete fabrication” in Sunday’s Washington Post claiming Trump was concerned “innocent and decent people,” including his son Donald Trump Jr., could be hurt by Mueller’s probe exploring links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”

Thirteen months ago, Trump gave a different explanation for the meeting between his eldest son and parties alleging ties to the Russian government. A July 2017 statement credited to Don Jr. and later discovered to have been dictated by the President read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

Though the President maintains he knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting prior to its taking place, his former fixer Michael Cohen, who has reportedly indicated a willingness to cooperate with Mueller’s team, has allegedly said otherwise.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he had “bad information” when he personally argued that the meeting was about adoption.

So, this is just an open news dump thread!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?