Tuesday Reads: Flynn Resigns. Who Will Be Next?

Michael Flynn leaves WH after Resignation

Michael Flynn leaves WH after ResignationGood Morning!!

Good Morning!!

Chaos has become our day-to-day reality. Every morning I wake up to more insanity in the news. Yesterday it was tRump conducting national security discussions in the middle of a public dining room using an unsecured cell phone (See Dakinikat’s Monday post). Now the pace of crazy has sped up even more–last night a 11PM I got a call from Dakinikat telling me Michael Flynn had resigned (I was watching MSNBC and they didn’t have it yet). Of course I had to stay up late and watch all the talking heads spewing nonsense about it, and now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m exhausted. Will we ever return to normal?

I don’t care for Bill Maher, but he said something on his Friday night show that I totally agree with.

They say a week is a long time in politics. But for Bill Maher, the Trump administration “happens in dog years.”

“As always with Donald Trump, there’s just too much news to get to,” said the “Real Time” host on Friday’s broadcast of the show. “There’s so much fucking crazy, it’s like three weeks of Trump is like five years of Nixon.”

You can watch it at the HuffPo link above.

That is so true. It does feel like Watergate on steroids–but it’s happening so much faster, it’s hard to keep up. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Upheaval is now standard operating procedure inside the White House.

With President Trump in his fourth full week in office, the upheaval inside the administration that West Wing officials had optimistically dismissed as growing pains is now embedding itself as standard operating procedure.

Trump — distracted by political brushfires, often of his own making — has failed to fill such key posts as White House communications director, while sub-Cabinet positions across agencies and scores of ambassadorships around the globe still sit empty.

Upset about damaging leaks of his calls with world leaders and other national security information, Trump has ordered an internal investigation to find the leakers. Staffers, meanwhile, are so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some have resorted to a secret chat app — Confide — that erases messages as soon as they’re read.

The chaos and competing factions that were a Trump trademark in business and campaigning now are starting to define his presidency, according to interviews with a dozen White House officials as well as other Republicans. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal White House dynamics and deliberations.

Some senior officials are worried about their own standing with the president, who through his casual conversations with friends and associates sometimes seems to hint that a shake-up could come at a moment’s notice.

Much more at the link.

Sean Spicer: Is he next?

Sean Spicer: Is he next?

Of course the Flynn resignation is only the beginning. Some in the media are arguing that Trump didn’t know about Flynn’s suggestions to the Russian ambassador that the tRump administration would weaken or remove the Obama administration sanctions. Come on. Trump undoubtedly order Flynn to make the calls. Here’s what Josh Marshall wrote late last night: The Wind is Sown.

As the Russia story submerged out of view in the first days of February, the Acting Attorney General had already warned the White House about Michael Flynn’s deceptions and susceptibility to blackmail. She was fired for refusing to enforce the immigration executive order days later. Though the White House now denies it, it seems that the President and his top advisors took no action in response to these warnings….

It appears that repeated efforts were made to apprise President Trump or those around him of the situation with Michael Flynn. When those warnings were ignored, people in the national security and law enforcement apparatus went instead to the press to get the word out that way….

This is not some ill-considered discussion by Michael Flynn. The role of Russia in the 2016 election and the President’s relationship to Russia has been the un-ignorable question hanging over President Trump for months. Flynn’s resignation does not come close to resolving it. It is highly likely that the Flynn/Russia channel was authorized by the President himself. There’s much more to come.

We need to brace ourselves. This is going to get really ugly.

Yes, the DOJ warned tRump about Flynn weeks ago. The Washington Post reports: Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say.

The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House. They feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, according to one of the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

A senior Trump administration official said before Flynn’s resignation that the White House was aware of the matter, adding that “we’ve been working on this for weeks.”

conway-2-e1485440866795-650x427-1-650x427

And check this out:

Yates, Clapper and Brennan argued for briefing the incoming administration so the new president could decide how to deal with the matter. The officials discussed options, including telling Pence, the incoming White House counsel, the incoming chief of staff or Trump himself.

FBI Director James B. Comey initially opposed notification, citing concerns that it could complicate the agency’s investigation.

 Comey again! I think it’s time to start asking seriously whether Comey has also been compromised. Be sure to read the entire story if you haven’t already.

Politico has more White House leaks: Why Donald Trump let Michael Flynn go. Inside Donald Trump’s national security adviser’s final days in the White House.

Pence was unhappy with Flynn for not telling him the truth and told the president about his displeasure, a White House official said, but said he would accept whatever decision the president made.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, who is close with Steve Bannon, his strategist, was aware of the uncertainty about Flynn’s future and the concerns in Trump’s orbit but tried to telegraph on TV that the adviser wasn’t in trouble hoping the storm could pass, one person familiar with her thinking said.

“General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president,” Conway said.

Her appearance created waves in Trump’s orbit, and Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, who has expressed displeasure about Conway to associates, immediately put out a statement that seemed to contradict her.

“The president is evaluating the situation,” Spicer said soon after Conway’s remarks.

One person who frequently speaks to Trump said the president was reluctant to ditch Flynn because he doesn’t “like to fire people who are loyal.” Even Monday evening, Trump was still pondering the decision, the person said.

“He has this reputation of being a ‘you’re fired’ kind of guy, but he really didn’t want to have that conversation,” the person said.

Whatever. I don’t believe for one minute that tRump didn’t know exactly what Flynn was up to. And how is Russia reacting to the loss of Flynn–their good friend in the White House?

James Comey: how long will he last?

James Comey: how long will he last?

The Washington Post reports: Russian lawmakers rush to the defense of Trump’s ex-national security adviser.

Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia.

The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.

Konstantin Kosachev of the upper house wrote in a post on Faceboo

k that readiness for dialogue with Moscow was now seen in Washington as a “thoughtcrime,” a reference to the George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.

“To force the resignation of the national security adviser for contacts with the Russian ambassador (normal diplomatic practice) is not even paranoia, but something immeasurably worse,” he wrote. “Either Trump has failed to gain his desired independence and is being cornered consistently (and not without success), or Russophobia has infected even the new administration, from top to bottom.”

Here’s one more “bombshell” for you from Raw Story: Michael Flynn may have used encryption to hide Russia talks from US.

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Schiff explained that the Trump administration was not labeling allegations against Flynn as “fake news” because U.S. intelligence agencies may have audio recordings of him speaking to Russian officials while President Barack Obama was still in office.

“They know that if there is a transcript, if there are recordings, that can’t be dismissed,” Schiff said. “The fact that they would mislead the country about this is inexplicable.”

Is Reince next?

Is Reince next?

“What I think is interesting here, there are allegations — again, as yet unproven — that they may have also used encrypted communications,” he added. “Since Flynn was talking with the Russians, if he was using encrypted communications, it wasn’t to conceal it from the Russians. Then you have to ask, who were they concealing conversations from?”

According to Schiff, the allegations suggest that Flynn engaged in encrypted communications in addition to the un-encrypted discussions that were reportedly recorded by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“This is something that I think we need to determine as part of an investigation,” he said. “But if there were then the question is, why were those being used? Who were those conversations to be concealed from, why was it necessary to go to that if you were simply talking about Christmas greetings as Sean Spicer apparently misrepresented to the country?”

Wow. Who will be next to go? I imagine Mike Pence is happily waiting around until he gets to be POTUS.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the breaking news coming out of tRumpland. What are you hearing. What do you think. Let us know in the comment thread below.


Monday Reads: Money can’t buy Class, Love, Intelligence or a Sense of Decency

Good Afternoon!16681545_10154458478078512_3319331744579545500_n

It’s hard to know where to get started on the utterly boorish behavior of our of so-called President over the weekend.  It’s only topped by his utter cluelessness when it comes to the decorum of the world stage.  Our country makes Banana Republics look perfectly democratic and functional at the moment.

All I can say, is get ready, there’s bound to be some war or major attack coming down the pipe.  What’s worse is that our allies and our own national intelligence assets are unlikely to share that information with our So-Called President because the assumption is that the current White House shares everything with the Kremlin. The breaches of security protocol are just unbelievable.

Today’s photos are of Saturday Night’s Krewe de Vieux Parade coming out of my neighborhood and heading into the French Quarter and downtown.  It’s a political satire parade and you can see where it went this year.  You can enjoy the fun while I write about extremely scary things.

BB sent me this extremely important article written by John R Schindler for The Observer. Among the horrifying conclusions is this: “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin.”

In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

So, it’s hard to know where to start other than our foreign policy has turned into a complete dumpsterfire. Instead of the usual State Dinner at the White House with celebrities, cultural and intellectual folks, political leaders, artists and musicians, and just basically the cream of the US crop, Japanese Prime Minister Abe got treated to a tacky weekend in Florida. The Taxpayers undoubtedly footed the bill and wrote a huge check to that tacky “resort” owned by the Uber Tacky So-called President.  I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister wasn’t expecting he’d become a wedding crasher but I’m also pretty sure that every one knows that anything classy, dignified, and in keeping with decorum is off the table these days.

Then there was a phone call about North Korea taken on his cell phone in the middle of the public dining room.

And, folks were worried about Hillary’s private server?  

What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.

The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.

As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day. He had earlier snapped pictures of Trump and Abe golfing and of the president and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon schmoozing guests.

Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.

“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

Later, he posted other photos of Trump and Abe’s discussion, including some that seemed to have been taken from just a few feet away. Those photos have now been seen around the world, providing photographic proof of this unusual moment.

16730375_10154458488688512_2817565483131739753_n This description came from Richard “DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago … ” as described by David Farenholdt.

But DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.

“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.

Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.

DeAgazio also posted photos of himself with a man that he identified as the military member who carries the “football” that would allow Trump to launch a nuclear attack. In that Facebook post, DeAgazio described how “the football” functions, but said that the military member did not divulge that information to him.

“I looked it up” on Wikipedia, DeAgazio said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”

Yes. A real man of the people.  That initiation fee is about what my entire house is worth.

Oh, and the wedding crashing part came after the let’s broadcast stuff about North Korea around Florida thing and an embarrassing presser.

On Saturday, as President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. CNN was the first to report last night that Trump was joined at the dinner table by his embattled national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon. As Mar-a-Lago members dining separately looked on, they reviewed classified documents with Bannon and Flynn using their cell-phone lights so Trump could see what he was reading.

After that awkward exchange, Trump and Abe held a hastily assembled joint press conference where Trump made a statement that was shorter than his awkward handshake with Abe at the White House on Friday.

What did Trump do after that? Bunker down with his National Security Council? Spend the evening on the phone with his Defense Secretary James Mattis? No. CNN reported that Trump dropped by a wedding that happened to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago, took the mic, and spoke to the guests.

crude-is-magicalI’ve seen movie frat boys with a better sense of gravitas than our So-called President.  So, first a guest gets a photo op with the nuclear football and then we get some twisted version of The Wedding Crashers.  WTF?  We’re going to owe Japan some big time apologies for insulting their PM.  Phillip Bump points out the absolute hypocrisy on running intelligence security breaches by Clinton and then governing like the entire world can listen in to our highest secrets and he’s got no issue with it.  Good Grief there must be Victory Dancing Putin over there in Moscow.

Earlier in the week, Trump had been criticized for leaving intelligence documents vulnerable to people without security clearance. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noticed that the president kept the key in a secured bag while hosting people in the Oval Office, which is a bit like leaving your house keys in your front door while you’re having a party in your backyard. There’s no indication that anyone saw anything confidential in this incident, but this, Heinrich suggested, was “Classified 101.”

Compared to holding a national security conversation over dinner in the public dining room at his private club, though, the lockbag incident pales.

It’s not clear that anyone heard particulars of the conversation, but other diners certainly noticed. Richard DeAgazio was in the room and posted photos of the moment to Facebook.

 Shock and awe aside, there’s this:

Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights, yes — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. When Edward Snowden was meeting with reporters in Hong Kong at the moment he was leaking the material he’d stolen from the NSA, he famously asked that they place their phones in the refrigerator — blocking any radio signals in the event that the visitors’ phones had been hacked. This was considered the most secure way of ensuring that the phones couldn’t be used as wiretaps, even more secure than removing the battery. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken.

Plus, more news on Flynn and others with deep ties to the Kremlin.

orange-is-the-new-black

It’s just hard to know what to say about all!

President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had a pretty wretched week. The Post’s reporting revealed that Flynn, contrary to his and the White House’s earlier assertions, had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn, according to intelligence sources, likely signaled that the question of sanctions would be revisited by a more friendly Trump administration.

So, I’m just left smh and rather speechless.

How do you explain this kind’ve behavior? I mean, if I had a relative that did this sort’ve thing I would surely get them committed! I wouldn’t freaking elect them President.

The fun news today is that the White House cannot find a comedian to do Nerd Prom and the entire things seems to be falling apart. It’s the press’ big party and damn ya’ll cry if you want to!!

In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting A-list celebrities ranging from George Clooney to Helen Mirren to Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.

This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.

Also, many stars are avoiding the event this year and no “headliner” comedian has committed so far, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

– ‘Stick a fork in it’ –

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said the glitzy party and related events around it no longer seem appropriate.

“Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement,” she wrote. “It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.”

Slate correspondent Jacob Weisberg echoed those sentiments, saying in a tweet: “Please cancel the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unseemly spectacle, totally at odds with the press holding administration accountable.”

Well, Sky Dancers, have at it! I’m not sure I’m up to describing the many ways that all this is so very very very wrong.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting 


Oh…ain’t it the fucking tRump truth!

Now for a review of last night’s Saturday Night Live.

 

 

There was more, including a Sen. Warren impression…they also have a clip of that over at Mediaite so you will be able to find it there.

During the show, SCROTUS (I love that…) tweeted in a pathetic attempt to, I don’t know:

Trump Tried To Steal Attention Away From SNL With This Pathetic Tweet And Failed Big League – GOPocalypse

First of all, wtf? He tweeted the joint statement he made two hours ago with an “In Case You Missed It” tag – even though it was still the last tweet showing at the top of his Twitter profile, so it was not all that difficult to find and watch. “ICYMI” is typically used for something a bit older than two hours.

Umm, suurree. This has nothing to do with what we all can assume is the rage induced by SNL’s mocking taking place right now, right? Oh, and there has been a lot of mocking with Alec Baldwin as tonight’s host.

“Big League mocking. – The best mocking.”

According to an unconfirmed account of alleged White House staff who have gone rogue (so this may nor may not be true) Lord Cheeto is pissed:

It’s probably safe to assume he’s all pissy right now, though. After all, he does have the thinnest skin of any human being who has ever walked the face of the earth.

I have to admit, the twitter comebacks to the orange fucker are keeping me going…it has reached a point where I look out for them now. Check out these few that were noted in the link:

Well, he’s likely going to be even angrier if he checks out the replies to his ICYMI tweet. People are telling him to shush, their show is on.

Twitter isn’t the only place that’s mocking tRump:

 

 

The whole world is mocking this asshole.

Donald Trump: America First Parodies Around the World | Time.com

At a time when President Donald Trump is keeping American comedians busy, the rest of the world can’t help but join in on the satire.

The “America First” parody video trend is sweeping the globe after a sketch first popularized by Dutch comedy show Zondag met Lubach took off in January. The inaugural video used Trump’s own quotes in a spoof packaged as a promo to convince Trump he should dub The Netherlands “second.” A wave of videos followed, as countries spun comedy gold to make the case that they deserve second place.

Here’s a rundown of all the videos from different countries to take a stab at the parody so far.

Go to the link to see all of the videos, I will just post this one because of the beginning…it is so good.

Australia

Heaping the praise on Trump’s first weeks in office, this video charts a love of travel bans by pumping up its rabbit-proof fence and an endless list of things that are big enough to please an American president.

 

And how is it possible not to make fun of the man:

 

Watch that video. (I don’t know if it has sound, so I will give that warning off the bat.) But damn…those hands. And let me say, from an Italian who can’t speak without using her hands…this guy is fucked up.

But in reality, most tRump supporters are enthralled. What do Trump voters think of his performance so far? | | Al Jazeera

We speak to Trump supporters in Kentucky, where he won 63% of the vote, and find widespread support amid some concern.

Sovanna Chhan, a Cambodian refugee who recently became a US citizen, doesn’t regret voting for Trump [Chris Kenning/Al Jazeera]

Take a look at that article. I can tell you that folks here in Banjoville are fighting mad about their love for tRump. Just the other day, while we were in the waiting room at the Chemo Dr for my mom’s appointment, Fox News was on…like it is always on in every restaurant, doctor office, hair salon, barber and Dunkin Donut/Starbuck in this town. (Fox News is like Banjoville’s own state television program. Kind of like what the people are forced to watch over in North Korea…but here it is tuned in by choice. And it is horrendous for those of us who are not Fox News zombie mutthafuckas.)

img_3379Anyway…back to my little story. tRump was on the Fox News channel, and my dad started to mimic his hand motions. You should have seen the looks on the faces of these people that stared down my dad…it was frightening. Not in a funny way either.  I mean these folks are there for cancer treatment, but they were ready to get up out of their seats and beat the shit out of my dad. Fucking hell. I am all for ragging on tRump anytime and all the time, but I actually had to tell my father to knock it off. I didn’t want to start a war there in the waiting room. And for the rest of the time we were there. All those people did not stop giving us the death glare.

It is disgusting.

The rest of today’s links are also disgusting. I will give them to you in a link dump. Take some time to think about them as you read through them…and how they relate to each other. Some of these links are old, a few weeks or months, but I wanted to post them to highlight a few thoughts that are running together in my mind lately.

img_3227Starting with a link from December, thought it would be good to revisit it: Donald Trump will cause US power to collapse, says man who correctly predicted fall of USSR | The Independent

Historian Richard Evans says Trump’s America isn’t exactly like the Third Reich—but it’s too close for comfort.

Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican – The New York Times

While Mr. Trump, a twice-divorced president who has boasted of groping women, may seem an unlikely ally of traditionalists in the Vatican, many of them regard his election and the ascendance of Mr. Bannon as potentially game-changing breakthroughs.

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Just as Mr. Bannon has connected with far-right parties threatening to topple governments throughout Western Europe, he has also made common cause with elements in the Roman Catholic Church who oppose the direction Francis is taking them. Many share Mr. Bannon’s suspicion of Pope Francis as a dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff.

 Until now, Francis has marginalized or demoted the traditionalists, notably Cardinal Burke, carrying out an inclusive agenda on migration, climate change and poverty that has made the pope a figure of unmatched global popularity, especially among liberals. Yet in a newly turbulent world, Francis is suddenly a lonelier figure. Where once Francis had a powerful ally in the White House in Barack Obama, now there is Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon, this new president’s ideological guru.

Let that sink in…and remember the Vatican’s role with Germany in WW2…specifically…Hitler’s Pope.

 

img_3223

 

Trump order won’t make cops safer, but might make it a felony to yell at them

“Contempt of cop” is a big enough problem already. The president seems determined to make it worse.

Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states – The Washington Post

Seems like that latest EO will make it easier for anyone to become a “felon” and make it possible for ICE to deport…or for cops to arrest protesters.

img_3376This Is Where We Are 2-7-17 – Balloon Juice

So I just got off the phone with my mom and she shared some disturbing news. Especially so for me as the son of an immigrant, a Green Card holder until his death.

My former sister-in-law returned in the last couple of days from a family funeral in Peru. She’s an American, with passport, but originally from Peru. When her plane arrived at SFO, there were armed immigration/customs agents on the boarding ramp, right outside the plane’s door.

Every person exiting the plane was asked for their papers and scrutinized. This was a normal international flight, not from the countries of current trumpian concern. The next day, her friends told her that all international flights are being greeted thusly.

I’ve been traveling since I was two weeks old. I’m a dual national, but my US issued birth certificate shows I was born in Africa to an American woman and a Swiss man. This country has ALWAYS been the land of the free and customs and immigration folks are in their booths, lanes, aisles, etc. Not intimidating folks getting off the plane.

It’s beginning my friends. A moat is being created around us, between us and the rest of the world.

White House Correspondent Gateway Pundit’s Co-Blogger Found Guilty of Multiple Firearms Crimes – Little Green Footballs

Jim Hoft and his blog Gateway Pundit have long been known as purveyors of far right fake news, and now, in the era of the Trump Horror, Hoft’s blog has actually been credentialed as a White House correspondent.

Today in Oregon, one of Jim Hoft’s fellow bloggers at Gateway Pundit (and its equally bogus sister blog “Progressives Today”), Michael Aaron Strickland, was convicted of multiple felonies and misdemeanors for pulling a gun and threatening protesters at a demonstration in Portland

This, it is painful:

img_3378Trump’s Exchange on Asset Forfeiture is Quite Discomfiting

On Tuesday, in an incident picked up by NPR and a bunch of other outlets, Donald Trump joked to a group of sheriffs about “destroying the career” of a Texas state senator one of the sheriffs, Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, was unhappy with. Eavenson is a fan of what is known as asset forfeiture, and the state senator had lobbied hard against a certain type of it.

What is asset forfeiture? Traditionally, it’s been the practice of taking someone’s stuff after they’ve been convicted of a crime — picture a DEA photo opp in front of a drug lord’s boats and jewelry and cars. But in many parts of the country, the practice has grown extremely loose, and there are numerous signs of widespread abuse. Law-enforcement officers can often take your stuff simply by, in effect, declaring that there’s some connection between you and a hypothetical crime — they don’t need to even arrest or charge you.

[…]

Trump made his joke after Eavenson complained about “a state senator in Texas who was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive their forfeiture.” “Can you believe that?” responded Trump, before joking about ruining his career. As the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday, it isn’t clear exactly which state senator Eavenson was referring to, but both Democrats and some Republicans there have pushed for laws to reform the state’s asset-forfeiture practices. And all they are asking is that someone be convicted of a crime before police take their stuff — they aren’t even questioning law enforcement’s authority to seize certain property.

The whole debate was new to Trump. As the White House’s transcript of the session where he made his joke makes clear (hat tip to Reason), the president didn’t appear to know what asset forfeiture was or what the debate over it entailed. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise given that Trump, by his own admission, isn’t much of a reader, and has exhibited very little interest in questions of public policy. What’s interesting, though, is observing, through the transcript, the process of Trump puzzling through a new concept and trying to understand what it means and how it fits into his worldview.img_3375

Interesting and deeply, deeply discomfiting:

Lots more at the link…lots.

Trump ripped Mexico in tweet while Kushner was meeting with Mexican officials: report | TheHill

President Trump took to Twitter to slam Mexico over his border wall proposal while top advisor Jared Kushner was meeting with Mexican officials about a potential state visit, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Trump’s tweet abruptly ended Kushner’s negotiations in the White House, the report said. Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior advisor.

 

Disabled Children Become Trump’s Newest Target As Administration Sinks To New Low ‹ Winning Democrats

Donald Trump and his band of right-wing misfits have sunk to an even lower low. They have set their sights on a new target: disabled children. Shortly after Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary, the website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) completely disappeared.

Democratic senators demand to know why Betsy DeVos took down website for disabled students

Washington’s two U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D) and Patty Murray (D) have demanded to know why the Department of Education has deactivated a website dedicated to empowering and assisting students with disabilities and their families.

Cantwell and Murray said in a Friday press release that newly sworn-in Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos must “provide an immediate and detailed explanation for why the resource website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has disappeared.”

“The Department’s failure to keep this critical resource operational makes it harder for parents, educators, and administrators to find the resources they need to implement this federal law and protect the rights of children with disabilities,” they said.

The IDEA website was set up under Pres. George W. Bush’s Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings so that “educators, advocates and parents could get a ‘one-stop’ explanation on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), as well as know their rights under the disability law,” said SeattlePI.com.

Cantwell and Murray’s statement continued, “The website has provided accessible and informative summaries of the law, training materials, sample educational forms, presentations for the public, and so many other user-friendly resources.”

The web address now redirects users to a site that “lacks much of the information previously available.”

Both senators opposed DeVos’ nomination over the Republican mega-donor’s ties to charter schools and voucher programs, which could potentially gut public school programs.

Let’s not forget:

Trump came under fire from during the 2016 campaign for appearing to mock disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a chronic neuromuscular disorder.

I think this is a smart move: Dem to unveil bill requiring a White House psychiatrist | TheHill

Meanwhile, in my home state.

Yep, my redneck of the woods is in the news again:

Georgia white supremacist under FBI investigation after police find evidence of ricin in his car

William Christopher Gibbs, a 27-year-old man from Fannin County, Georgia is under FBI investigation after driving himself to the hospital last week, claiming he came into contact with the deadly substance ricin.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby confirmed that Gibbs’ car tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison that is found in castor beans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the substance can come in the form of a powder, a mist, a pellet, or can be dissolved in liquid and just a small amount of it can kill. The CDC notes, “It would take a deliberate act to make ricin and use it to poison people.”

It is unclear how or for what reason Gibbs came into contact with the ricin. The FBI “identified no evidence that any poisonous or toxic substances have been dispersed or that the public is at risk,” according to prosecutors who spoke with Fox News.

Gibbs’ Facebook profile indicates the 27-year-old white man is a member of the Georgia Church Of Creativity C.A and is a self-identified “White Racial Loyalist.” A profile photo on his account writes as the caption, “100 years from now when someone finds one of these trees thay [sic] will know that there was once a White Race.”

Creativity is a white supremacist, white separatist movement, originally known as the Church of the Creator. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the movement was founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a former one-time Florida state legislator, on the basis of promoting “what it sees as the inherent superiority and ‘creativity’ of the white race.” The SPLC also categorized the Creativity Alliance as an active neo-Nazi group in Georgia.

White supremacist organizations and movements have been active in Georgia in the year since now-President Donald Trump first announced his candidacy. On Jan. 28, 2017 white nationalist groups held an alt-right and white nationalist forum at Stone Mountain, Georgia, which anti-fascist organizers in the state planned to counter-organize. The alt-right movement has been described “as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism,” according to the Associated Press.

According to local news reports, last Friday, residents of the Morganton neighborhood of Fannin County said nearly 100 officers in unmarked cars swarmed the area. Morganton Mayor Mike England told Fox 5 Atlanta, “All of the sudden a whole host of law enforcement vehicles showed up in our parking lot, somewhere between 30 to 40 vehicles. And around 100 law enforcement individuals.”

Video of the ridiculous sheriff can be seen here:

FBI investigating after ricin found in man’s car – CBS46 News

Incompetence. No. Complacent apathy? Like he really doesn’t give a shit, and he is fine with that…

img_3372

 

America’s worst new congressman: Why Georgia’s Jody Hice is so frightening – Salon.com

Yes, from the state that gave you Health Secretary Price…

This is a man who has called Islam, the second-largest religion in the world, “a totalitarian way of life with a religious component” that “does not deserve First Amendment protection.” In his book he calls legal abortion “worse than Hitler’s six million Jews or Mussolini’s three hundred thousand,” adding that “the genocide in America is inexcusable!” In 2004, he told the Athens Banner-Herald that he doesn’t “see a problem” with women running for office “if the woman’s within the authority of her husband.” On his radio show he blamed Sandy Hook and other school shootings on “kicking God out of the schools, and… kicking God out of the public square.” He once misquoted a satirical essay by a gay writer as evidence that homosexuals preying on children was  “part of the ‘gay manifesto’” and part of the “radical agenda that is currently threatening our nation.”

[…]

A Baptist minister and former talk radio host, Hice is filling the hole left after Paul Broun’s failed run for Senate. You might remember Paul Broun as the Congressman and medical doctor who stood in a room festooned with deer heads and told a gathering of Baptists and hunters that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang were “lies straight from the pit of Hell.” Broun set an incredibly high bar for mindboggling insanity, but Hice just might be able to clear it.

Sadly this isn’t even a surprise. It’s been clear that Hice was headed to Washington after beating businessman Mike Collins in the Republican primary run-off on July 22. Georgia is a brutally gerrymandered state, and as the 10th is currently drawn, winning the GOP primary basically guaranteed Hice the seat after a perfunctory general election. He ran against Democratic candidate Ken Dious, a lawyer from Athens, whose campaign’s most visible reminder after the election will most likely be the leftover campaign t-shirts clogging Dious’s attic like the unsold CDs and seven-inches found in the homes of so many Athens bands.

Even for Georgia natives familiar with the regressive conservatism found throughout much of the state, Hice’s rise and Broun’s longevity are confusing because their district contains one of Georgia’s more reliably liberal towns. The 10th encompasses Dious’s home of Athens, a university town that houses one of the state’s more notable liberal enclaves. Athens is overruled by its considerably more conservative neighbors in the 10th, which, for most of Broun’s tenure, stretched from the northern suburbs of Augusta up through a swath of rural communities along the state’s northeastern border with South Carolina. The district was rewritten again in 2013, but it’s still a deep red block with a small jot of purple called Athens.

Being represented by Broun was a source of extreme embarrassment for many in Athens, and that won’t change with Hice taking his seat. Athens used to be represented by moderate Democrat John Barrow until a Republican majority in both Georgia houses lead to mid-decade redistricting in 2005. Barrow was cut out of Athens and has grown increasingly conservative while pulling off a surprising series of reelection victories. The Blue Dog Democrat was the only white Democratic Congressman in the Deep South before he lost his own seat this week.

Like Paul Broun before him, Jody Hice has partisan redistricting to thank for his victory. Those same factors will keep him tied to the 10th, though, along with his own extremism. Despite making a national name for himself and becoming a tea party darling, Broun finished fifth in the GOP Senate primary in 2014. A conservative hero while ensconced safely in his own district, Broun crashed and burned in his first statewide election. He couldn’t run for both the Senate and the House, creating a void that Hice quickly filled with his own tactlessness and demagoguery. It’s tough to see Hice succeeding on a statewide level after both Broun’s crushing defeat and tea partier Jack Kingston’s Senate run-off loss to Romney-light millionaire businessman and political neophyte David Perdue.

Just another example of gerrymandering.

Well that is all for today…This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Shaking Hands With tRump

131210144619-11-handshakes-kennedy-khrushchev-horizontal-large-gallery

U.S. President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria.

Good Morning!!

How can it only have been three weeks since the uncouth baby-man took over the U.S. government? I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. Reading the news has become a terrible experience that often leads to anxiety attacks. Just for today, I’m going to let the real news go and focus on tRump’s bizarre power handshakes. Yesterday’s tRump torture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a classic. The expression on Abe’s face when tRump finally lets go is hilarious.

 

 

And then there was the way he jerked SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch’s hand during the announcement ceremony.

 

He did the same thing to Vice President Mike Pence on election night.

 

 

It seems tRump needs to assert dominance in just about every interaction. People are beginning to take notice. The Washington Post’s Peter W. Stevenson writes: Donald Trump and the art of the super-awkward handshake.

We know President Trump is concerned with appearances – especially when he’s on television, or in front of news photographers or large crowds.

We also know that President Trump is concerned with hands – how large they are, how strong they are – just look at them!

Trump is also a well-known germaphobe. He initially shunned shaking hands with supporters on the campaign trail. As president, protocol compels him to shake a lot of hands, though.

And recently, he’s taken part in a few handshakes that we’ll just call “intense” for now – most recently, a bizarre moment with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Whether it’s just habit, or a way of asserting his power, Trump has a habit of pulling forcefully on the hand he’s shaking.

What’s going on here? Quartz asked a body language expert about it: The power play behind Trump’s penchant for uncomfortably long handshakes. Here’s his analysis of the tRump-abe handshake:

“When you cover somebody’s hand, you’re portraying yourself as being closer than you really are. It’s for perception management,” says Joe Navarro, a body language expert based in Florida, and author of the book What Everybody is Saying. “The only time you should be tapping somebody’s hands is if you’re their grandmother, but certainly not between two grown adults.”

That would typically make people feel uncomfortable and invaded. “Because the back of your hand is your intimate zone,” says Navarro, comparing the experience of the hand-pat to the feeling you get when somebody stands too close to you. “You are entitled to touch the palm of their hand when you shake hands, but not the intimate zone.”

But Trump didn’t just pat the back of Abe’s hand, he yanked and pulled the prime minister toward himself in a signature move he’s been doing since his stint hosting The Apprentice. More recently, he’s used the move on Mitt Romney, Neil Gorsuch, Nancy Polosi, Rex Tillerson, and Mike Pence. Often, it turns a regular old handshake into a comical tug-of-war, with Trump twisting people’s arms into strange angles. It’s like playing “jiujitsu with your hand,” says Navarro. “All that it does is that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and causes psychological discomfort.”

“Frankly, it’s rude,” he adds.

handshake

See more videos at the link.

It seems that tRump just doesn’t know how to behave in polite society. At The Slot, Gabrielle Bluestone noted that:

The handshake was also notable because Trump, who won the election based on his self-proclaimed instincts, misunderstood what the PM was trying to tell him.

“What are they saying?” Trump asked Abe about 20 seconds into the handshake, referring to photographers who were speaking Japanese.

“Please look at me,” the Prime Minister translated. Trump appeared to take the translation literally, and began to stare at the Prime Minister, refusing to break eye contact with him even when he used his other hand to point at the cameras, where Trump was supposed to be looking.

What a nimrod! I hate to think of the agonies Abe must be enduring at Mar-A-Lago this weekend. Trump supposedly cheats at golf too.

At The Telegraph, Guy Kelly and Charlotte Krol suggests that tRump may be overcompensating for something: Donald Trump’s alpha male body language tics – from the hand tap to the power shake.

It’s not for us to say whether Donald Trump is compensating for something. Yes, certain behaviour may give that impression: the erection of several self-branded towers, one of which is literally gold, for instance. Or the fact he felt the need to declare “there’s no problem” with the size of his manhood at a GOP debate last March. Or almost everything else he’s ever done.

That’s mere speculation. What’s clearer – and less of a legal migraine to write here – is to say that Trump is an ‘alpha male’. We needn’t look further than his body language to confirm it, either.

From bone-crushing handshakes to an almost allergic reaction to his wife, Trump is at pains to use power plays to underline his masculinity with every public appearance.

They note that tRump doesn’t seem to enjoy holding hands with his wife Melania.

On Saturday, Trump was seen at Palm Beach international airport with his wife, Melania, as they set off for a weekend away. When the First Lady had the temerity to reach for her husband’s hand on the tarmac, Trump squeezed it for one moment, gave it a bizarre three taps with his other hand, and then dropped it like a stone.

Because, as we all know, holding hands with your wife – or waiting for your wife before walking off – is the sort of beta male nonsense only weak men like Barack Obama would lower themselves to. Hand holding, it seems, only suits the president when he initiates it.

There’s more analysis and more videos at the link. Here’s the one of tRump’s rude treatment of Melania at the Inauguration.

 

 

Spin Magazine says that tRump just “doesn’t know how to shake a person’s hand.”

Even the quotidian act of shaking hands has proven to be a Herculean task for Donald Trump, the leader of the free world. The Oval Office hosted a meeting between the POTUS and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and, as per usual, things turned tragicomic. The two hands grasped each other for a bleak 20 seconds, where Trump had the same look of confusion of a dog popping a squat and Abe—bless his diplomatic heart—could only muster up the enthusiasm of an embarrassed father….

Get this: Trump is 70 years old. Even Abe can’t seem to hide his shock that this is a grown man.

And it’s only been three weeks!

I’m going to end with more famous historical handshakes between foreign leaders to go with the one of President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev at the top of the post.

Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (1893 - 1976) shakes hands with American president Richard Nixon (1914 - 1994) in Peking (Beijing) during his visit to China. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) shakes hands with American president Richard Nixon (1914 – 1994) in Peking (Beijing) during his visit to China. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

 

German dictator Adolf Hitler shakes hands with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Hotel Dressen in Godesberg, 22nd September 1938. The two met to discuss the German occupation of Sudetenland. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

German dictator Adolf Hitler shakes hands with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Hotel Dressen in Godesberg, 22nd September 1938. The two met to discuss the German occupation of Sudetenland. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

U.S. President Bill Clinton stands behind PLO leader Yassar Arafat and Yitzahk Rabin as the two shake hands on Oct. 25, 1995.

U.S. President Bill Clinton stands behind PLO leader Yassar Arafat and Yitzahk Rabin as the two shake hands on Oct. 25, 1995.

 

That’s all I have for you today–sorry this post isn’t more substantive. I’ll leave it to you to post links to the important news in the comment thread. Have a relaxing weekend.


Friday Reads: So, the army invaded my neighborhood last night and other stories

d3f5f0abc2c4dd0028b6b254d6f579f2Good Afternoon!

I am moving extremely slow today. Things certainly have been stressful lately. I usually have to see the light of day to figure out what the latest assault will be on the Courts, the Constitution, Ethics, tax payers, black people, immigrants, Muslims, women, GLBT folks, etc. etc. etc.  Last night, the assault came swooping over my rooftop in the form of black helicopters and extremely loud explosions.

Now, I live in a neighborhood with babies, pets, old people, and unsuspecting tourists, etc. etc. etc.  It turned out to be a training exercise at the abandoned Navy Base about 5 doors down from me.  Ya think they could’ve told a few of us about this especially a few days after 9 tornadoes touch down all around us and 21 days into the chaos that is Drumpfistan.

I mean this seriously. Hair Furor has been promising to invade US cities with the army for days now so I figure mine’s as good as any because, well, you know, a lot of my neighbors are black and you know what kinda hell realm my neighborhood has to be in the eyes of Hair Furor. We also have lots of other folks here that are immigrants and do very terrorist type things like own corner stores and restaurants.  We must be on his target list!!! So, what would you think if the Army started swooped in and exploding things on your city block at 1:00 fucking A.M.?

cartoon_of_the_day_6-21-16_-_trump_muslim_banBut the good news is the Hair Furor’s Immigrant ban can’t be enforced because we have courts and they evidently still work.

A federal appeals panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries can continue entering the United States.

In a unanimous 29-page opinion, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

The judges wrote that any suggestion that they could not “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

And of course, now the three judges–including the conservative one appointed by Bush–are all getting threats.

Threats against more than one judge involved in legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration have prompted federal and local law enforcement agencies to temporarily increase security protection for some of them, according to law enforcement officials.

CNN did not learn how specific the threats were, but law enforcement agencies treated them seriously and out of an abundance of caution, the US Marshals Service and local police increased patrols and protective officers to provide security for some of the judges, the officials said.

A spokesperson from the US Marshals Service declined to comment directly on the threats but said that while “we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted.”

The threats come as Trump continues his verbal criticisms of judges — something that has drawn concern from former law enforcement officials and others who fear that public officials should not target a specific judge, and instead base their criticism more broadly on a court’s ruling.

And hundreds of thousands of Iranians are taking to the street shouting “Death to America” in what looks like a full on self-fulfilling prophecy.  Hillary warned us about this.  The foreign policy and national security experts warned us about this.  But, no, we have to be surrounded by racists and bigots with false narratives poured into their little tiny hands and minds.  Day by day, Kremlin Caligula is the one that makes us less safe.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday to swear allegiance to their clerical leaders and reject U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning that he had put the Islamic Republic “on notice”, state TV reported.

On the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, marchers including hundreds of military personnel and policemen streamed towards Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square for the main event.

They carried “Death to America” banners and effigies of Trump while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs.

State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump’s picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: “Thanks Mr Trump for showing the real face of America.”

“America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader”, a young man told state TV, in a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, Trump put Iran “on notice” after a Jan. 29 Iranian missile test and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities. Iran said it will not halt its missile program.

Leading religious and political figures, including President Hassan Rouhani, had urged Iranians to join the rally on Friday to “show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic”.

muslim-comicI bet Putin is celebrating again.

The happy news today is that nasty ass Jason Chaffetz had a horrid time in his town hall last night. Remember, this is Utah not Massachusetts.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Thursday faced a flood of protesters during a town hall in his home state.

Demonstrators repeatedly disrupted the House Oversight Committee chairman, challenging him over his treatment of President Trump.

“If you want to continue to look into [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton, I don’t care,” an attendee named Noor Ul-Hasan asked Chaffetz, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “But why aren’t you checking out your own president?”

“You’re really not going to like this part,” Chaffetz responded. “The president, under the law, is exempt from conflict of interest laws.”

Chaffetz was a key player in the Benghazi and email investigations that plagued Clinton, a former secretary of State under President Obama. Shortly before Election Day, Chaffetz said he believed the committee had two years’ worth of material on her. Now he’s facing added pressure to apply the same level of scrutiny to Trump.

The Tribune reported Thursday’s event at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was at capacity, with police warning some would not be admitted into its 1,080-person auditorium.

Demonstrators repeatedly booed when Chaffetz mentioned Trump’s name, it said, and some held up signs reading “disagree” at the Utah lawmaker.

Remember, it isn’t illegal, facism, NAZIsm, or unethical when the President does it or his family does it!!!03

Meanwhile, Besty just can’t seem to find the pencils in the Department and she can’t even visit a school.  See Betsy run away.  Run, Betsy, Run!!!!

All of this chaos is making my stomach knot and my head hurt.

Meanwhile, let me know what’s on your reading and blogging list today.


Thursday Reads: Thundersnow and DC Horrors

thundersnow-and-its-risks

Good Afternoon!!

That’s a photo of “thundersnow,” because that’s what I’m expecting to see during the Nor’easter that’s happening here today. I’ll be viewing it from my 10th floor apartment, so maybe I’ll get a good view when it happens. It’s been a pretty mild winter in the Boston area, but February is when we tend to get the worst storms and this one is supposed to be a big one–now they’re saying we might get 15 inches. I’m hoping it won’t last long. For everyone else in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. We had a 55-car pile-up here yesterday.

Here’s the latest on the storm from NBC News: New York, Boston Brace for Foot of Snow: Schools Closed, Flights Canceled.

The Northeast has gone from short sleeves to snow boots in less than 24 hours.

More than 2,700 flights were canceled and all public schools in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia were closed Thursday as some 50 million people braced for a nasty nor’easter that could dump a foot of snow or more — the largest so far this season.

The Latest on the Northeast Storm

  • Fifty million people from Maine, along the Interstate 95 corridor, down through Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are being affected by a winter storm dumping about 2 inches of snow per hour.
  • Snow total estimates for major cities: Boston, 12-18 inches; New York City, 8-12 inches; Philadelphia, 3-5 inches.
  • A blizzard warning has been issued for southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern and central Long Island, New YorkRic. Wind gusts have reached about 50 mph in some areas.
  • More than 2,700 flights have been canceled, with at least 60 more already scrapped for Friday, FlightAware reported. Runways were temporarily closed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11 a.m. ET and could reopen by noon.
  • Schools throughout Boston, New York and Philadelphia are closed, as well as some government institutions.

So that’s a slight distraction from the political horrors taking place in our nation’s capital, but not enough of one. It’s ugly down there. Here’s the latest:

As I’m sure you know, yesterday tRump’s pick for SCOTUS,  Neil Gorsuch, told Democratic Senators that he’s “disheartened” by tRump’s personal attacks on judges. He told this to more than one Senator–Chuck Schumer mentioned it on MSNBC last night–but tRump has chosen to try to destroy the career of Richard Blumenthal, who has gotten the most media attention for repeating Gorsuch’s weak criticism.

Even though a Gorsuch spokesman confirmed his boss’s words, tRump is claiming it didn’t happen. The Daily Beast: Trump Pretends Gorsuch Didn’t Say What He Said.

Donald Trump attempted to whitewash critical remarks made about him by his own SCOTUS pick Thursday morning. Even though a representative for Neil Gorsuch confirmed that he had expressed dismay at the president’s attack on a federal judge, Trump claimed his words had been twisted. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, told the media that the conservative judge said it was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to see Trump attack a federal judge for ruling against his travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries. Gorsuch’s camp confirmed that this account was true, but Trump still went on the attack. “Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” the president tweeted. (Blumenthal has previously admitted lying about his military service.) Shortly after Trump’s tweet went live, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse confirmed to MSNBC’s Morning Joe that Gorsuch had made the remarks, adding that the judge got “pretty passionate about it.” Additionally, Sasse said, Gorsuch remarked that “Any attack on brothers or sisters of the robe is an attack on all judges.”

Every day there are new new horrors; it’s getting hard to keep up with the constant tales of corruption as tRump tries to turn the U.S. into an authoritarian dictatorship. Yesterday the Senate confirmed racist xenophobe Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. The day before it was Republican megadonor and anti-public school advocate Betsy DeVos who was handed control over the Department of Education.

The Sessions horror only slightly distracted from tRump’s completely unethical promotion of his daughter’s brand on Twitter (retweeted on his official Twitter account!)

Sean Spicer also attacked Nordstrom during his press briefing yesterday. TPM:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessories line is an attack on the president’s policies and his daughter.

Spicer told reporters during his daily press briefing that the decision — which Nordstrom said was a result of poor sales, not politics — was because of the clothing company’s displeasure with President Donald Trump’s executive orders and his policies.

“I think this is less about his family’s business and an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. “He ran for president. He won. He’s leading this country. I think for people to take out their concern about his actions or his executive orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.”

Today Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News to promoted Ivanka’s products.

Kellyanne is a federal employee and promoting products is a violation of the law.

Just posting this stuff is making me feel so angry that I want to scream; so I’m just going to give you a few more reads I saved for today’s post and then go try to decompress for awhile.

48599400-cached

David Corn at Mother Jones: The Mysterious Disappearance of the Biggest Scandal in Washington.

The biggest election-related scandal since Watergate occurred last year, and it has largely disappeared from the political-media landscape of Washington.

According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives. But the nation’s capital remains under-outraged by this subversion. The congressional intelligence committees announcedlast month that they will investigate the Russian hacking and also examine whether there were any improper contacts between the Trump camp and Russia during the campaign. (A series of memos attributed to a former British counterintelligence officer included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.) Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.

Certainly, every once in a while, a Democratic legislator or one of the few Republican officials who have bothered to express any disgust at the Moscow meddling (namely Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio) will pipe up. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi days ago called on the FBI to investigate Trump’s “financial, personal and political connections to Russia” to determine “the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), responding to Trump’s comparison of the United States to Putin’s repressive regime, said on CNN, “What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis?” A few weeks ago, Graham told me he wanted an investigation of how the FBI has handled intelligence it supposedly has gathered on ties between Trump insiders and Russia. And last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed FBI Director James Comey at a public hearing to release this information. Yet there has been no drumbeat of sound bites, tweets, or headlines. In recent days, the story has gone mostly dark.

Read the rest at the link.

seal-team-6-william-ryan-owens-navy-640x480

Navy Seal William Ryan Owens, who died during Trump’s botched Yemen raid.

Uri Friedman at The Atlantic: Trump’s Attack on the Legitimacy of Critiquing Military Operations.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s first counterterrorism mission, which reportedly killed 14 al-Qaeda fighters, one U.S. Navy SEAL, and an unknown number of civilians in Yemen, the president and his press secretary have set a remarkably steep standard for when the administration’s military actions can be criticized: If the action is against an enemy and involves sacrifice, it must be accepted as a success.

That message was underlined by a series of tweets sent Thursday morning by Donald Trump, who was responding to John McCain’s characterization of the raid as a “failure.” McCain, as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is one of the congressional leaders charged with oversight of the American military. But the Republican senator “should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media,” Trump wrote. “Only emboldens the enemy!”

“Our hero Ryan [Owens] died on a winning mission (according to General Mattis), not a ‘failure,’” he declared, in reference to the soldier who was killed and his defense secretary, James Mattis.

On Wednesday, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, similarly insisted that the raid was an unqualified success. “I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens” and should apologize, he told reporters. “He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was, and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks.”

More at the link.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT

Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT

The Hill: Blumenthal: We’re careening ‘toward a constitutional crisis’

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday warned that the country is heading toward a “constitutional crisis,” moments after President Trump attacked him for sharing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s concerns with the president’s attacks on judges.

“I said to Judge Gorsuch and I believe that ordinarily a Supreme Court nominee would not be expected to comment on issues or political matters or cases that come before court, but we’re in a very unusual situation,” Blumenthal said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“We’re careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he’s been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question.”

More stories to check out, links only:

Think Progress: Trump’s first 20 days reveal troubling patterns, according to experts on authoritarianism.

Politico: What was Mitch McConnell thinking?

Evelyn Turner at USA Today: I tried to help black people vote. Jeff Sessions tried to put me in jail.

Huffington Post: Congressman To File Bill Requiring A Psychiatrist At The White House.

Politico: Alabama AG Luther Strange to replace Sessions in the Senate.

Scott Turow at Vanity Fair: How the Democrats Can Stop Neil Gorsuch and Why they Must.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Wednesday Hump Day Cartoons: The days do pass…

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02/08 Mike Luckovich: Constitutional Apprentice. | Mike Luckovich

 

The days do pass…

…and the horror with each passing day becomes more unbearable.

 

For example: House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked | The Nation

In a little-noticed 6-3 vote today, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. The EAC was created after the disastrous 2000 election in Florida as part of the Help America Vote Act to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads. (Republicans have tried to kill the agency for years.) The Committee also voted to eliminate the public-financing system for presidential elections dating back to the 1970s.

“It is my firm belief that the EAC has outlived its usefulness and purpose,” said Committee chair Gregg Harper (R-MS), explaining why his bill transfers the EAC’s authority to the Federal Election Commission.

Doesn’t it make you want to puke? Curse the GOP? And then puke again?

Thirty-eight pro-democracy groups, including the NAACP and Common Cause, denounced the vote. “The EAC is the only federal agency which has as its central mission the improvement of election administration, and it undertakes essential activities that no other institution is equipped to address,” says the Brennan Center for Justice.

This move is particularly worrisome given reports that suspected Russian hackers attempted to access voter-registration systems in more than 20 states during the 2016 election. Moreover, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration set up by President Obama in 2014 outlined an “impending crisis” in voting technology and the Brennan Center found that 42 states used voting machines in 2016 that were at least a decade-old and at risk of failing. The EAC was the agency tasked with making sure these voting systems were both modernized and secure.

The EAC is not a perfect agency. It lacked a quorum of members from 2010 to 2014 and was paralyzed by inaction. Then, last year, its executive director unilaterally approved controversial proof-of-citizenship laws in Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama, which the federal courts subsequently blocked.

But given the threats to American democracy at this moment, the EAC needs to be strengthened, not replaced.

The whole last few weeks have been nothing but a farce, filled with ridiculous appointments, statements and orders. I no longer find things to be “ironic” but absurd…For instance, the last paragraph of this Nation article…

It’s particularly ironic that the Trump administration is preparing to launch a massive investigation into nonexistent voter fraud based on the lie that millions voted illegally while House Republicans are shutting down the agency that is supposed to make sure America’s elections are secure. It’s more proof of how the GOP’s real agenda is to make it harder to vote.

No fucking shit!!!!!!!!!!!

There is no fucking irony people. It is being done ON PURPOSE!!!!

How else does a fascist take over a government? How else does fascism and authoritarianism gain control? We are seeing it every minute of every day.

So here are the bloody cartoons. My life is so disgustingly depressing, not even these babies are laughing it up anymore for me…but maybe it will bring a smile to you all? I hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02/07/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

02/07/2017 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

The backwards BS detector: 02/07/2017 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The backwards BS detector

 

02/05 Mike Luckovich: Orange History Week. | Mike Luckovich

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Funny video below, enjoy it!

This is an open thread.