Sunday Reads: Corruption Junction…What’s your Function?

Sitting on a hotel bed on Friday night, watching Maddow, I was introduced to this woman:

Sarah Chayes

Video of the interview is at this link:

Expert sees risk of corruption in Trump foreign government deals

This quote is from her book, Thieves of State:

Corruption, it made plain, was not solely a humanitarian affair, an issue touching on principles or values alone. It was a matter of national security—Afghan national security and, by extension, that of the United States. And if corruption was driving people to violent revolt in Afghanistan, it was probably doing likewise in other places. Acute government corruption may in fact lie at the root of some of the world’s most dangerous and disruptive security challenges—among them the spread of violent extremism. That basic fact, elusive to this day, is what this book seeks to demonstrate.

I wish I could imbed the whole first chapter, because it grabs you immediately.

Here are some links and pdf downloads to take a look at:

New York Times Book Review of Thieves of State

Leading corruption expert explains how Trump has created a ‘kleptocracy’ — and how it might be his undoing

This week Sarah wrote and filed an amicus brief, follow this link to read that brief that Maddow sites in the interview.

I hope that these links work, I’m doing this post on my phone in a hotel room in Helen GA.

This is an open thread.

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Friday Reads: Drumpfistan Detritus

568bd9b21f0000a101e9cf1fGood Afternoon!

I’m going to litter this edition of the latest attacks of the petty dictator and his general on some one simply doing her job with the work of Gustav Klimt.   And no surprises!  It’s a black woman congressman who has represented her Florida District supremely well.

The Despot of Drumpfistan needs enemies to prop up his regime and his ego.  There is nothing he goes after with more relish than a woman.  It seems General Kelly shares that belief.  They have attacked a strong, principled woman of color and this shows their vision of white nationalism even more.  John Kelly’s lecture to Congresswoman Wilson included a list of what he considered American values which sounded a lot like the fever dreams of the patriarchy. Both Drumpf and Kelly did not use the names of any black woman involved in their attack.  How positively dehumanizing!

First up,  a Klimt break … because this thread is going to outline gross incompetence, pettiness, and meanness by Kremlin Caligula and the supposedly sane and normal general protecting the interests of our Republic.

Okay, I lied. First I’m going to highlight words spoken by former Presidents Obama and Dubya Bush about our country. Then, I’m going full bore be cause I believe Frederica Wilson and I watched Rachel last night.

the-maiden-gustav-klimtHere’s the full text of the Bush speech.

Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. (Applause.)
And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

gustav-klimt-mother-and-childAnd from Obama in Virginia:

“We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage,” Obama told the 7,500 people gathered in the Greater Richmond Convention Center. “So the question for you tonight for the next 19 days: Do you want a politics of division and distraction, or do you believe in a better kind of politics?”

He praised Northam, a former Army doctor, pediatric neurologist and current lieutenant governor, as the kind of leader the country needs.

“At a time so many of us are cynical about government and public service, to have someone step up who you can trust and just wants to do right by the people of Virginia, that’s worth something,” said Obama, who in 2008 became the first Democrat to carry Virginia in a presidential race in 44 years.

Joy Ann Reid recognizes what’s what better than many since she reported on politics in Florida from Florida for a number of years. She delivers the facts to Kelly and his boss.

Frederica Wilson is no liar. On Thursday, Gen. John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, confirmed that. Kelly also made clear that he works for a man who has redefined the meaning of shameless.

The Florida congresswoman is the latest—and pointedly, the latest woman and person of color—to be attacked by Trump for daring to tell the truth about him. She joins a roster that includes broadcaster Jemele Hill, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and before that, a Latina former Miss Universe. Now add in Hillary Clinton and the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Trump has attacked or threatened a few men too, notably black NFL and NBA stars, Gold Star father Khizr Khan (along with his wife), decorated Vietnam War veteran John McCain and other United States senators, but he typically reserves his greatest vitriol for those who aren’t white and male. We’re all still waiting for the president’s sure-to-be-blistering response to Eminem.

Trump on Wednesday used one of his increasingly frequent press availabilities to essentially call Wilson a liar, after she told the world what he said to the widow of Staff Sgt. La David T. Johnson; one of four special forces soldiers killed during a still murky mission in Niger. Wilson first gave her account to local reporters in Miami who met the limousine carrying her, Myeshia Johnson and Staff Sgt. Johnson’s adoptive parents to the funeral home to claim the body of the fallen soldier. Apparently, the White House had alerted the media that he would call Johnson’s widow, evidently hoping to reap some rare good press for the most hated president in modern U.S. history.

She later repeated what she heard to national news outlets and to this reporter.

Handpainted-Portrait-Oil-Painting-Replicas-Portrait-of-Adele-Bloch-Bauer-I-Gustav-Klimt-s-Painting-onTrump goes on the offensive when he’s trying to hide something and cover up for his huge mistakes.  Rachel Maddow believes that the huge mistake of putting Chad on the travel ban list may have cost Staff Sgt Johnson and his comrades their lives. She makes a most compelling argument.

When President Donald Trump’s White House instituted the travel ban and randomly added the African country of Chad to the list, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow says it may have destabilized the region. That lack of allied troops could have then been the cause of the deaths of the four soldiers killed two weeks ago in Niger.

Maddow began by walking through the extensive history of the groups of African and French fighters who have managed to battle Islamic extremists like ISIS and Boko Haram in central Africa and actually win. Most of these groups are headquartered in Chad, because the best of the best soldiers managed to run out the majority of the terrorist groups.

Yet, somehow, Chad ended up on Trump’s travel ban list. When it did, there was an uproar of foreign policy experts who warned this was a terrible decision because it would destabilize the region and isolate American troops fighting there. Both the State and Defense Departments were also opposed to Trump’s decision to put Chad on the list, because they knew it would cause military problems in the area. But the Trump administration demanded it.

“Several terrorist groups are active in Chad,” Maddow cited the administration’s reasoning. “If that’s the reason you end up on the travel ban list, why wouldn’t you put Mali or Niger or even Iraq and Afghanistan?”

A former State Department official who worked on that region went even further, telling the New York Times that putting Chad on that list could truly put Americans in harm’s way.

Chad then began to withdraw their troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. In fact, Chad’s troops were gone a week after Trump added Chad to the ban list. According to Reuters, once the soldiers left, Boko Haram moved back in and people began to flee for their lives again. Shortly after the “battle-hardened” Chad fighters left, four American soldiers were attacked and killed in an ambush by ISIS extremists in Niger. Chad announced it began pulling its troops out two weeks ago on Oct. 13, which Maddow said would put their timeline for withdrawal at the end of September.

“Which would be the Friday after the Trump administration made this decision to insult and harm our closest military ally in that region, against ISIS and Boko Haram where ISIS has been trying to establish another caliphate,” Maddow said. “But those Chadian troops were really doing something in Niger. They were protecting those villages in that whole region from ISIS militant groups being able to operate freely and be able to take more territory from there once again. And pulling those troops out had an immediate effect in emboldening those ISIS attacks.”

Within days of the Chadian soldiers beginning to pull out from protecting those villages from ISIS, four soldiers were ambushed.

072c52c0bba091cb782165894124b3c6--gustavo-klimt-klimt-artWhat’s worse, is the attack now has turned to Gold Star Families and Congresswoman Wilson.  Kelly got it very wrong and used patronizing and racist dog whistles to attack the Congresswoman.

When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly condemned a Miami congresswoman on Thursday for sneering at President Donald Trump’s condolence call to a soldier’s widow, the retired general recalled when the two attended a somber ceremony in Miramar to dedicate a new FBI building named after two slain FBI agents.

Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.

Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.

“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”

In 2015, Wilson won praise from Miami Republicans for sponsoring the bill to name the long anticipated federal building after two agents who became legends in local law enforcement.

Frederica Wilson 2

Kelly called US Congressman Frederica Wilson “an empty barrel”. 

I think Kelly took on the wrong Congresswoman. She is not going to be moved and she has righteousness on her side.

 

So, here’s a picture of Gustav Klimt and his cat!   Have a good Friday and a great weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  

gustav-klimt-photo

 


Wednesday Reads: Sick of this Evil

You can feel good

It has been so long since I think anyone of us can say…yes, I feel good.

I found that image somewhere on the net….Instagram, Facebook…I’m not sure.

No joke:

Oh and btw…the widow is pregnant.

Let’s try this:

This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

The illustrations in this post are from an article at Literary Hub: 40 of the Creepiest Book Covers of All Time–just because it’s October and Halloween is approaching and the president is a monster.

Now to the news, beginning with Facebook helping Donald Trump.

Brad Pascale, the Trump Campaign’s digital director will be on 60 Minutes on Sunday. CBS teased the interview yesterday, and it seems that Pascale had help from Facebook employees in targeting specific voters.

“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale tells Stahl.  Parscale says he used the majority of his digital ad budget on Facebook ads and explained how efficient they could be, particularly in reaching the rural vote.  “So now Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for,” says Parscale.  And people anywhere could be targeted with the messages they cared about. “Infrastructure…so I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling…that’s micro targeting…I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat,” he says. Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.

Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week. He says they had to be partisan and he questioned them to make sure.  “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump.”  Parscale calls these Facebook employees “embeds” who could teach him every aspect of the technology. “I want to know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some,” he says he told them.

(Emphasis added.) That sounds highly problematic and I think Mark Zukerberg has some explaining to do.

This article by Max Read at New York Magazine from October 1 is well worth reading: Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?

Mark Zuckerberg had just returned from paternity leave, and he wanted to talk about Facebook, democracy, and elections and to define what he felt his creation owed the world in exchange for its hegemony. A few weeks earlier, in early September, the company’s chief security officer had admitted that Facebook had sold $100,000 worth of ads on its platform to Russian-government-linked trolls who intended to influence the American political process. Now, in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on September 21 and subsequently posted to his profile page, Zuckerberg pledged to increase the resources of Facebook’s security and election-integrity teams and to work “proactively to strengthen the democratic process.”

To effect this, he outlined specific steps to “make political advertising more transparent.” Facebook will soon require that all political ads disclose “which page” paid for them (“I’m Epic Fail Memes, and I approve this message”) and ensure that every ad a given advertiser runs is accessible to anyone, essentially ending the practice of “dark advertising” — promoted posts that are only ever seen by the specific groups at which they’re targeted. Zuckerberg, in his statement, compared this development favorably to old media, like radio and television, which already require political ads to reveal their funders: “We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he writes.

This pledge was, in some ways, the reverse of another announcement the company made earlier the same day, unveiling a new set of tools businesses can use to target Facebook members who have visited their stores: Now the experience of briefly visiting Zappos.com and finding yourself haunted for weeks by shoe ads could have an offline equivalent produced by a visit to your local shoe store (I hope you like shoe ads). Where Facebook’s new “offline outcomes” tools promise to entrap more of the analog world in Facebook’s broad surveillance net, Zuckerberg’s promise of transparency assured anxious readers that the company would submit itself to the established structures of offline politics.

It was an admirable commitment. But reading through it, I kept getting stuck on one line: “We have been working to ensure the integrity of the German elections this weekend,” Zuckerberg writes. It’s a comforting sentence, a statement that shows Zuckerberg and Facebook are eager to restore trust in their system. But … it’s not the kind of language we expect from media organizations, even the largest ones. It’s the language of governments, or political parties, or NGOs. A private company, working unilaterally to ensure election integrity in a country it’s not even based in? The only two I could think of that might feel obligated to make the same assurances are Diebold, the widely hated former manufacturer of electronic-voting systems, and Academi, the private military contractor whose founder keeps begging for a chance to run Afghanistan. This is not good company.

Rex Tillerson still has his job, but how much longer will he last?

Abigail Tracy at Vanity Fair’s The Hive: Tillerson’s Job on Death Watch at Moron-Gate Explodes.

Rex Tillerson’s already-shaky position within Donald Trump’s Cabinet is suddenly looking perilous. Simmering tensions between the president and his top diplomat spilled out into the open on Wednesday amid reports that the secretary of state had threatened to resign and called his boss a “moron” over the summer. Tillerson’s subsequent non-denial denial reportedly left Trump fuming and Chief of Staff John Kelly scrambling to contain the fallout, spurring a fresh wave of speculation that the long-rumored “Rexit” may be imminent.

Trump was livid when the “moron” story broke, according to NBC News, which first reported that Tillerson had vented about the president earlier this summer. With Trump on the warpath, Kelly reportedly canceled his plans to travel to Las Vegas with the president to clean up the mess, summoning Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis to outline a response to the deluge of negative press coverage. By 11 a.m. on Thursday, Tillerson was behind a lectern in damage-control mode, declaring that he “had never considered leaving” his post and praising the president.

Still, Tillerson stopped short of outright denying that he had called the president a “moron,” ushering in a fresh news cycle. When Trump insisted that NBC News had made up the story, and that nobody sought “verification” from him, the network hit back. “Sir, we didn’t need to verify that he called you a moron, he did it behind your back,” MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle said on air, delivering another round of bad press and further enraging the president. On Friday morning, Axios cited insiders as saying the relationship is “broken beyond repair,” with Trump furious that Tillerson didn’t shut down the story.

Kelly is reportedly trying to stanch the bleeding, figuring that another major staff shake-up will only further destabilize the administration. But the relationship between the White House and Foggy Bottom is so toxic, sources told Jonathan Swan, that there may be no coming back.

Click on the link to read the rest.

The New Yorker also has an interesting story that provides quite a bit of background on Tillerson. Once you read it, it becomes clear why Tillerson would be shocked by Trump’s dishonesty and corruption.

Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point. Will Donald Trump let the Secretary of State do his job?

Tillerson, who is sixty-five, was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, and grew up in a lower-middle-class family that roamed across the two states. He was named for two Hollywood actors famous for playing cowboys: Rex Allen and John Wayne (his middle name is Wayne). “I grew up pretty modest,” he told me. “My dad came back from World War Two and drove a truck selling bread at grocery stores. My mom had three kids—you know, the nineteen-fifties.”

His formative experience was in the Boy Scouts. When he was young, his father took a job helping to set up local chapters, and Tillerson eventually became an Eagle Scout, one of an élite class of “servant-leaders” distinguished by obsessive, nerdish attainment. When he was fourteen, and living with his family in Stillwater, Oklahoma, he got a job washing dishes in the kitchen of the student union at Oklahoma State University, for seventy-five cents an hour. On weekends, he picked cotton: “You just show up Saturday morning at 6 a.m., climb into the back of a panel truck with a bunch of other guys, and you drive out to one of the farms and drag a big cotton sack behind you, picking cotton all day long, for a dollar an hour.”

When Tillerson was sixteen, he started sweeping floors at the university’s engineering school, and began thinking about engineering as a career. He got there by an unusual route. Tillerson, who had played drums in his high-school marching band, won a band scholarship to the University of Texas, where he studied civil engineering. Upon graduation, in 1975, he got a job at Exxon as a production engineer.

Exxon has historically been dominated by engineers, who pride themselves on their precise, quantifiable judgments. “Rex is what you would expect to get when you cross a Boy Scout with an engineer—straight and meticulous,” Alex Cranberg, an oil executive who went to college with Tillerson, said. Others described a more pragmatic sensibility, noting that Tillerson’s favorite book is “Atlas Shrugged,” the Ayn Rand novel extolling the virtues of capitalism and individualism. “The thing about Rex is, he’s got this big Texas aw-shucks thing going on,” a Russia expert who knows Tillerson told me. “You think he’s not the smartest guy in the room. He’s not the dominant male. But, after a while, he owns all your assets.”

Tillerson may be a conservative, but he’s the anti-Trump and very different from some other members of Trump’s cabinet–for example, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The New York Times: Seven Flights for $800,000: Mnuchin’s Travel on Military Jets.

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000, including a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York to meet with President Trump at Trump Tower, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The inquiry into Mr. Mnuchin’s air travel, prompted by an Instagram posting by his wife, found he broke no laws in his use of military aircraft but lamented the loose justification provided for such costly flights.

“What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for” by the Office of Management and Budget “and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests,” the inspector general wrote.

Mr. Mnuchin has made nine requests for military aircraft since assuming his position earlier this year and has taken seven flights. A request to use a military plane for his European honeymoon with his wife, Louise Linton, in August was withdrawn. A ninth flight is scheduled for later this month, when Mr. Mnuchin is expected to travel to the Middle East.

The investigation follows a series of controversies over the lavish travel of several members of President Trump’s cabinet, including Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, who resigned last week after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights.

Apparently Trump has come to depend on Chuck Shumer’s advice, to the consternation of Republicans.

Axios: Scoop: Trump phones Schumer for help on health care, worrying GOP.

 

President Trump telephoned Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday in an effort to revive health-care legislation, Republican sources said.

Trump was seeking “a path forward on health care,” a GOP source said….
Although it’s not known what Trump proposed or how Schumer responded, word traveled fast among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill…

Hahahahahahaha!

I’m going to wrap this up with a non-political piece, an excerpt from what looks like a fascinating new book.

The Atlantic: A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas, by Adam Rutherford.

Europeans arriving in the New World met people all the way from the frozen north to the frozen south. All had rich and mature cultures and established languages. The Skraeling were probably a people we now call Thule, who were the ancestors of the Inuit in Greenland and Canada and the Iñupiat in Alaska. The Taíno were a people spread across multiple chiefdoms around the Caribbean and Florida. Based on cultural and language similarities, we think that they had probably separated from earlier populations from South American lands, now Guyana and Trinidad. The Spanish brought no women with them in 1492, and raped the Taíno women, resulting in the first generation of “mestizo”—mixed ancestry people.

Immediately upon arrival, European alleles began to flow, admixed into the indigenous population, and that process has continued ever since: European DNA is found today throughout the Americas, no matter how remote or isolated a tribe might appear to be. But before Columbus, these continents were already populated. The indigenous people hadn’t always been there, nor had they originated there, as some of their traditions state, but they had occupied these American lands for at least 20,000 years.

It’s only because of the presence of Europeans from the 15th century onward that we even have terms such as Indians or Native Americans. How these people came to be is a subject that is complex and fraught, but it begins in the north. Alaska is separated from Russian land by the Bering Strait. There are islands that punctuate those icy waters, and on a clear day U.S. citizens of Little Diomede can see Russians on Big Diomede, just a little over two miles and one International Date Line away. Between December and June, the water between them freezes solid.

Go to the Atlantic to read the rest. The book is titled: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes.

What else is happening? What stories are you following? Are you in the path of Hurricane Nate?


Wednesday Reads: Paper Towel President

What a racist asshole…

But there are so many assholes:

At least Mexico is coming to aid Puerto Rico:

And then there’s Maude:

Now the cartoons:

#LOL #sadbuttrue #fullofshit

A post shared by Shannon Fisher (@msshannonfisher) on

Day 256: In which #PuertoRico learns they need to try harder at the bargain catastrophe game. #UnidosPorPuertoRico #magaisformorons #thisisnotnormal #resist #donthecon #dumptrump #TheDailyDon

A post shared by The Daily Don (@the.daily.don) on

I look forward to the decade I don't have to draw about gun deaths. #guns #lasvegas #nra

A post shared by Signe Wilkinson (@signewilk) on

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Doomed Worlds

Once again it is late at night, and I am in the dark quickly writing this post. Only this time I’m hanging out in the car, the woods are full of bears here in Vogel…and I don’t mean the same kind of bears that some dudes find attractive. I’m talking the real thing. Real 🐻.

Look at some cartoons:

This is an open thread. I hope everyone is ok…still waiting to hear from the insurance company. It really sucks.


Sunday Reads: R-E-S-P-E-C-T …Take a knee

The cartoon above was a good one…

There is a lot I would like to say, but without internet or cell service…it is difficult to get any thoughts or words of protest out there.

Hell, it is impossible to read the blog. So, since I’m writing this post blind…I hope that everyone is fine.

Here’s a few tweets to start the post,

I will end with this tweet, because it expresses exactly how I have felt about taking a knee from the very beginning …

It was never a question of disrespect. The players did not turn their backs on the flag. Ugh!

This is an open thread.