Yesterday was one of the most surreal days in the nearly four years of the Trump “presidency.” and worse days are very likely coming. Yesterday evening Trump used federal troops and tear gas to remove peaceful protesters so that he could have a photo op of himself holding an upside down and backwards bible in front of the damaged church door of St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
Here’s the campaign video the White House released after Trump’s despicable performance.
The New York Times: Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church
People who gathered outside the White House to protest police brutality spent Monday waving signs and screaming for justice. They watched as police officers and National Guard units flooded Lafayette Square, delivering on a threat made by President Trump. And just before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, they were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas.
It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.
That church, St. John’s — the so-called Church of the Presidents because every one since James Madison has attended — had been briefly set ablaze as the protests devolved on Sunday evening. After Mr. Trump’s aides spent much of Monday expressing outrage over the burning of a place of worship, Hope Hicks, a presidential adviser, eventually hatched a plan with others at the White House to have the president walk over to the building, according to an official familiar with the events.
As Mr. Trump delivered a speech in the Rose Garden vowing to send the military to states where governors could not bring rioting under control but calling himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” the sound of explosions and the yells of demonstrators could be heard. After receiving repeated warnings to disperse before the city’s curfew, the crowd was tear-gassed.
Bill Barr was there for the show and apparently approved of the violence against protesters and media that followed Trump’s ugly speech.
Mr. Trump began his walk to the church at 7:01 p.m. for a photo session that lasted about 17 minutes. On his way over, after protesters had been driven from the park, he was trailed by a group of aides, including Attorney General William P. Barr. Mr. Barr had strolled to the edge of the police line to observe the crowd in the minutes before the tear-gassing began.
He walked alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Ivanka Trump, his eldest daughter and senior adviser. Ms. Trump was wearing a mask, one of the few visible reminders on Monday that the administration was in the middle of battling a public health crisis. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, Ms. Hicks and Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, were also among the cadre of aides.
Please go read this thread by Jared Yates Sexton on what Trump was trying to accomplish with his Bible stunt.
Trump did not ask permission to use the church in his propaganda video and photos and we now know that he had a priest and a seminarian forcibly evicted from the church beforehand.
Authorities also expelled at least one Episcopal priest and a seminarian from the church’s patio.
“They turned holy ground into a battleground,” said the Rev. Gini Gerbasi.
Gerbasi, who serves as rector at a different Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, arrived at St. John’s Lafayette earlier that day with what she said were at least 20 other priests and a group of laypeople. They were organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to serve as a “peaceful presence in support of protestors.”
The volunteers and clergy offered water, snacks, and hand sanitizer to demonstrators who were gathered in Lafayette Park across the street — which sits directly in front of the White House — to denounce racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
But sometime after six in the evening, when volunteers were packing up supplies, Gerbasi said police suddenly began to expel demonstrators from the park — before the 7:00 pm curfew announced for Washington residents earlier in the day.
“I was suddenly coughing from the tear gas,” she said. “We heard those explosions and people would drop to the ground because you weren’t sure what it was.”
The Rev. Glenna J. Huber, the rector of the Church of the Epiphany who was at St. John’s but left as the National Guard arrived, said she watched as police rushed into the area she had just fled. Concerned, the priest sent a frantic email to clergy at the church urging them to be careful.
Back at St. John’s, Gerbasi said she was dressed in clerical garb and standing on church grounds as police approached.
“I’m there in my little pink sweater in my collar, my gray hair up in a ponytail, my reading glasses on, and my seminarian who was with me — she got tear gas in her eyes,” she said.
Gerbasi said as she and the seminarian watched, police began to expel people from the church patio.
“The police in their riot gear with their black shields and the whole bit start pushing on to the patio of St. John’s Lafayette Square,” she said, adding that people around her began crying out in pain, claiming to be shot with non-lethal projectiles.
Gerbasi and others eventually fled the scene, leaving emergency medical supplies behind. By the time she reached K street several blocks away and checked her phone, Trump was already in front of the church holding a Bible.
The mayor of DC reacted on Twitter:
As Dakinikat reported yesterday, Trump verbally attacked U.S. governors earlier in the day during a phone call that was to have been with Mike Pence about the coronavirus crisis.
The Daily Beast: ‘Unhinged’ Trump Demands Mass Arrests, Flag-Burning Laws.
President Trump lashed out at state governors Monday, saying that those who did not mass arrest protesters “for long periods of time” would end up looking like “a bunch of jerks.”
“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate… you’re wasting your time,” Trump said on a private conference call with governors and national security officials. “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
The president, who is hunkered down in the White House, added during the call that local officials have to put protestors and looters in prison “for long periods of time” in order to assert control amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
“It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse,” Trump said. “The only time it’s successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.”
A source on the call, who shared it with The Daily Beast, called Trump’s talk “unhinged,” noting that it often veered off in various directions. At one point, the source said, the president brought up flag burning and encouraged states to pass laws banning it….
At another, he blurred legal lines when discussing the needs for prosecution. “When someone is throwing a rock, that’s like shooting a gun. What’s the difference?” Trump said. “You have to do retribution in my opinion.”
Listen to the whole insane rant at the Daily Beast link above.
Kevin Baron at Defense One writes: Trump Finally Gets the War He Wanted.
President Donald Trump finally got the war he wanted. It isn’t in Afghanistan, or Iraq, Syria, or North Korea. It’s right here in Washington, D.C., where on Monday the president claimed moral and Constitutional authority and ordered federal law enforcement and the U.S. military to turn against Americans who opposed him.
After warning over the weekend that out-of-line rabble-rousers across the street from the White House would face “vicious dogs,” Trump instead sicced police, troops, and U.S. Army helicopters, on protestors — violent and nonviolent — whom he claims, without evidence, are led by the militant left-wing Antifa group of Americans. It’s the culmination of three years of Trump praising militant, far-right, all-white, AR-15-brandishing protestors from Charlottesville to Lansing, while amplifying conspiracy theories about his enemies — including that the media, Democrats, left-wing extremists, and pretty much anyone without a MAGA hat on at a Trump rally was out to ruin him and the United States. He has sought to turn Americans against each other from his inaugural speech, with tweet after tweet, purposefully criticizing the media to undermine Americans’ trust in facts. He’s played DC’s traditional partisan politics like a master fiddler.
Trump has also tried to draw in the military and national security services. In his first month in office, he flew to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command and bashed the media to American service members. He bashed his enemies in front of the CIA’s hallowed memorial stars. He bashed his political opponents in a partisan speech inside the Pentagon. He’s used troops as backdrops for political rallies. He took over Independence Day, ordering service members to participate in a celebration about himself as much as America. He ordered the military into the heart of his most controversial projects like building the southern border wall. And he changed the very makeup of the U.S. armed forces, banning foreign and transgender soldiers.
For three years, half a dozen defense secretaries and Joint Chiefs chairmen tried, each in his own way, to keep the military out of Trump’s politics while complying dutifully with the commander in chief. But on Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper walked right into it. First, Esper was caught on tape during the president’s phone call with governors, likening the protests to a “battlespace.” Trump berated the governors, told them to use the National Guard against protestors, and warned that if the state leaders resisted him, he would send in military force. He said he put Milley in charge of coordinating the nationwide response.
Please click the link and read the rest at Defense One.
I had planned to focus today’s post on Police and National Guard attacks on journalists, but something worse always seems to come up when I make plans about what to cover in a post. But here’s something that happened yesterday and it could lead to a serious international incident.
Australia is investigating a US police attack on two Australian television journalists outside the White House, the foreign minister said Tuesday, expressing “strong concerns” about the assault caught live on camera.
“We have asked the Australian embassy in Washington, DC to investigate this incident,” Marise Payne said after the journalists were slammed with a riot shield, punched and hit with a baton while broadcasting from the protest.
“I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia’s strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington,” she said, indicating a formal complaint would follow.
Footage showed 7NEWS reporter Amelia Brace being clubbed with a truncheon and cameraman Tim Myers being hit with a riot shield and punched in the face by police clearing Washington’s Lafayette Square of protesters on Monday.
The journalists said they were later shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed, which Brace said left the pair “a bit sore”.
The incident was widely broadcast in Australia, causing consternation in a country that has been a close US ally.
The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., said on Twitter: “We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take democracy seriously.”
Two more links on the topic of law enforcement attacks on journalists:
I just hope today won’t be worse than yesterday. I’m tired of withstanding shocks to my system, and I know I’m not alone in that. Take care of yourselves Sky Dancers!
Yesterday was quite a day. In the afternoon, it became abundantly clear that the rats are jumping off Trump’s sinking ship, competing to see who can be the first to leak dirt on the Dotard and his gang of miscreants. Here’s summary from CBS News: New revelations shed light on Trump-Ukraine call — live updates.
A series of rapid-fire developments brought the House impeachment inquiry into clearer focus Monday afternoon, with Democrats issuing new demands for evidence and new revelations about the circumstances of the president’s call with Ukraine coming to light.
Just before 4 p.m., three House committees announced they had subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, for documents related to his work on behalf of President Trump to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The committees also requested material about Giuliani’s work to secure Ukraine’s cooperation into a Justice Department review of the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Shortly after the subpoena was announced, The Wall Street Journal reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between the president and the Ukrainian leader. CBS News has confirmed Pompeo was on the call.
The New York Times reported Mr. Trump had called the prime minister of Australia to request assistance in the Justice Department review. The call came at the behest of Attorney General William Barr.
A Justice Department official then told CBS News that Barr had asked Mr. Trump to reach out to a number of foreign officials to request their assistance in his review, which is being led by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. A source familiar with the matter said Barr traveled to Italy as part of his effort, and The Washington Post reported he has also reached out to intelligence officials in the United Kingdom.
In the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Mr. Trump repeatedly asked him to work with Barr to pursue a fringe conspiracy theory about the origins of the 2016 U.S. counterintelligence investigation that would became the Mueller probe.
But it wasn’t just Australia. At about 8:30 last night, The Washington Post reported: Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016.
Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter….
The direct involvement of the nation’s top law enforcement official shows the priority Barr places on the investigation being conducted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who has been assigned the sensitive task of reviewing U.S. intelligence work surrounding the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The attorney general’s active role also underscores the degree to which a nearly three-year-old election still consumes significant resources and attention inside the federal government. Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in reexamining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct.
So far, we’ve learned that Barr and Trump sought help to discredit their own intelligence community from Australia, the UK, and Italy. What other countries have been approached? I imagine we’ll learn more soon. Keep in mind that this entire criminal enterprise is designed to help Vladimir Putin by discrediting the Mueller investigation and removing sanctions on Russia.
Elliot Hannon at Slate: Trump Is Now Enlisting Foreign Leaders to Discredit Russian Election Meddling on His Behalf.
It’s now abundantly clear that President Trump is actively deploying the resources of the U.S. government explicitly to bolster his chances of reelection in 2020. The recent whistleblower complaint revealed one part of the two-pronged strategy: leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine to compel the Ukrainian government to dredge up old allegations on political rival Joe Biden. The second aspect of the Trump vindication-through-vilification reelection strategy has led Trump and his allies to investigate the investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election to try to muddy the water sufficiently that Trump looks clean by comparison—or by confusion. That effort is also being propelled by the power vested in the highest offices of the U.S. government, including, of course, the presidency. Yet another example, the New York Times reports, is a recent phone call made by President Trump to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking the foreign leader to assist Attorney General Bill Barr in the investigation of the Mueller investigation.
Will Trump get away with it? He is opening inciting violence against the whistleblower, Adam Schiff, and anyone else who tries to stand up to him. We don’t know yet what will happen, but history shows that politicians who mess with the CIA/FBI are playing with fire. I expect more drip drip drip revelations in the coming days.
Yesterday David Remnick at The New Yorker highlighted Trump’s unhinged attacks on anyone who tries to stand up to him:
Shortly after eight this morning, the President of the United States, making maximal use of his “executive time,” wielded his smartphone to issue a legal threat against the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. It is worth reading the missive from @realDonaldTrump in full:
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?”
Were the collective nerve endings of the electorate not so frayed and numbed by now, we might be even more alive to the ugliness of this message from the White House. One of the consequences of the Trump Presidency is the way that it constantly diminishes our expectations of anything other than hideous rhetoric and action. But there are those who are intensely aware of the potential consequences of such a threat. Sources close to Schiff told The New Yorker today that Democrats in Congress are deeply worried about the President using Twitter to incite violence and to direct it at specific members.
The threat to Schiff via Twitter came just a few days after the President, speaking at the United States Mission to the United Nations, said that whoever provided information to the whistle-blower about his July 25th telephone call with the President of Ukraine was “close to a spy.” Trump went on to wax nostalgic about how spies were dealt with “in the old days”—with the death penalty, in other words. “As soon as I heard that, I thought, He has the soul and the mind of an authoritarian,” Nicholas Burns, a former high-ranking diplomat who has served in Republican and Democratic Administrations, told me. “What other President in American history would say that?”
As Remnick points out, Trump’s violent threats against his “enemies” are nothing new and they are likely to get worse as the impeachment investigation continues.
This could be an ominous sign for Trump. The Washington Post: McConnell says if House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to start a trial.
Should the impeachment spotlight turn to the Senate in the coming weeks, McConnell — who faces a reelection fight next year — will confront the dual pressures of minimizing political pain for his Senate majority and ensuring legitimacy and a sense of fairness for what would be only the third impeachment trial of a president in American history.
On Monday, McConnell said he was bound by existing Senate rules governing the impeachment and conviction process, amid speculation that he could simply ignore the specter of putting Trump on trial. Senior Republican aides had worked to try to tamp down that notion over the weekend.
“I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said during a CNBC interview. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”
The Kentucky Republican — who hasn’t hesitated in the past to revise Senate rules to benefit Republicans, specifically the president’s judicial nominees — stressed he would not change them to aid Trump. That move would require the support of 67 senators, almost certainly an insurmountable threshold.
I’m waiting with bated breath to see what breaks today in this massive scandal that has now engulfed Trump, his personal attorney, his White House lawyers, his Secretary of State, and his Attorney General.
And what about the second whistleblower complaint that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has been sitting on? Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: There’s another whistleblower complaint. It’s about Trump’s tax returns.
An unnamed civil servant is alleging serious interference in government business. If the allegations are true, they could be a game-changer. They might set in motion the release of lots of other secret documents showing that President Trump has abused his authority for his personal benefit.
Wait, you thought I meantthe whistleblower from the intelligence community?
Nope. I’m talking about a completely different whistleblower, whose claims have gotten significantly less attention but could prove no less consequential. This whistleblower alleges a whole different category of impropriety: that someone has been secretly meddling with the Internal Revenue Service’s audit of the president.
In defiance of a half-century norm, Trump has kept his tax returns secret.
We don’t know exactly what he might be hiding. His bizarre behavior, though, suggests it’s really bad.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
More interesting reads, links only:
The New York Times Magazine: This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For.
David Enrich at The New York Times: Me and My Whistle-Blower.
Alex Pascal at The New York Times: Did the Trump White House Mishandle the Ukraine Call Memo?
The Los Angeles Times: Trump’s ‘favor’ and delay of U.S. aid weakened Ukraine in the fight against Russia.
Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Tuesday!!
This post is illustrated with cute pics of cats and dogs from petinsurance.review, because I’m dealing with a very bad cold this morning; I’d like to just crawl back under the covers and zone out. On top of that, my patience with our rude and crude new “president” is quickly running out. This clueless man is destroying our reputation as a nation, alienating our oldest and closest allies around the world, and antagonizing our most dangerous opponents–except, of course, for Russia.
Yesterday tRump had nothing to say about Russia attacking Ukraine, but he had no problem with threatening to send U.S. troops into Mexico; sending Michael Flynn out to put Iran “on notice,” whatever that means; and “blasting” and insulting the prime minister of Australia, one of our closest and most loyal allies.
I guess there’s now some disagreement on the Mexico threat. Here’s what the Associated Press reported yesterday: Trump to Mexico: Take care of ‘bad hombres’ or US might.
The phone call between the leaders was intended to patch things up between the new president and his ally. The two have had a series of public spats over Trump’s determination to have Mexico pay for the planned border wall, something Mexico steadfastly refuses to agree to.
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.
The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation.
Mexico’s foreign relations department said the report was “based on absolute falsehoods.”
Americans may recognize Trump’s signature bombast in the comments, but the remarks may carry more weight in Mexico.
It certainly does sound like tRump, though, doesn’t it? Maybe the Mexico government is going to give us the benefit of the doubt for awhile, but I doubt if this will help public opinion south of the border.
During yesterday’s White House press briefing, Michael Flynn issued a vague threat to Iran. CNN: White House national security adviser: Iran is ‘on notice.’
President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn condemned Wednesday Iran’s recent ballistic missile test launch, calling it a “provocative” breach of a UN Security Council resolution.
Flynn called the launch the latest in a series of provocative moves by Iran that have included backing Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have attacked US allies.“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said from the White House briefing room.Flynn did not say whether the US would take action beyond a verbal warning, and three senior administration officials, speaking on background, said Wednesday that they are still in the early stages of determining what action the US should take in response.“We are considering a whole range of options. We’re in a deliberative process,” one of the officials said.
Iran may also be giving us the benefit of the doubt for now. NBC News reports: Iran Brushes Off Trump’s ‘Empty Threats’ Over Missile Tests.
A top aide to Iran’s supreme leader blamed the “inexperienced” Trump administration for apparent U.S. threats and vowed his country would continue testing ballistic missiles.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on foreign affairs, said that Iran had not breached a nuclear deal reached with six major powers in 2015 or a U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the accord. The White House has accused Tehran of acting “in defiance” of a separate U.N. Security Council resolution on ballistic missiles, as opposed to the nuclear agreement.
“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran,” Velayati said. “Iran is the strongest power in the region and has a lot of political, economic and military power … America should be careful about making empty threats to Iran.”
He added: “Iran will continue to test its capabilities in ballistic missiles and Iran will not ask any country for permission in defending itself.”
The Washington Post reports on the call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: No ‘G’day, mate’: On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags.
It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.
Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladimir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”
Trump was upset about an agreement between the Obama administration and Turnbull to swap some refugees being held in the two countries.
“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.
Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”
Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australia has supported the U.S. in wars dating back to Vietnam and is one of the five trusted nations with whom we share intelligence. Why the hell can’t tRump stop his pathological bragging about winning the election? His behavior is an embarrassment to our country.
Bloomberg Politics’ David Tweet addresses tRump’s disgraceful Twitter obsession: Trump Twitter Bursts Throw Decades-Old Alliances Into Disarray.
For the first time in decades, America’s oldest allies are questioning where Washington’s heart is.
This week, President Donald Trump and his deputies hit out at some of America’s closest friends, blasting a “dumb” refugee resettlement deal with Australia and accusing Japan and Germany of manipulating their currencies. Ties with Mexico have deteriorated to the point its government had to deny reports that Trump told President Enrique Pena Nieto he might send U.S. troops across the southern border.
The dilemma for officials globally is figuring out if Trump’s blunt style is simply a tactic to keep them off balance or the start of a move to tear up the rule book that has guided relations with the U.S. since World War II. In the mean time, allies have little choice but to prepare for the worst.
The latest attacks came against Australia and Japan, even with Trump’s new Pentagon chief in the region to offer assurances about the U.S.’s commitment to security ties.
“For those of us like Australia, Japan or Korea, who have been dependent on that continuity, we have got to start thinking about a situation where the U.S. is much more self interested, and more more capricious on what it might do,” said Nick Bisley, a professor of international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “Countries in the region have got to sit down and say those old arrangements can’t last forever.”
tRump’s behavior is disgusting and dangerous.
Meanwhile, federal employees are struggling to deal with tRump and are pushing back in unprecedented ways.
The Washington Post: Resistance from within: Federal workers push back against Trump.
Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make.
And a few government workers are pushing back more openly, incurring the wrath of a White House that, as press secretary Sean Spicer said this week about dissenters at the State Department, sends a clear message that they “should either get with the program, or they can go.”
At a church in Columbia Heights last weekend, dozens of federal workers attended a support group for civil servants seeking a forum to discuss their opposition to the Trump administration. And 180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop next weekend, where experts will offer advice on workers’ rights and how they can express civil disobedience.
At the Justice Department, an employee in the division that administers grants to nonprofits fighting domestic violence and researching sex crimes said the office has been planning to slow its work and to file complaints with the inspector general’s office if asked to shift grants away from their mission.
“You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Through leaks to news organizations and internal complaints, he said, “people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable.”
The resistance is so early, so widespread and so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals by workers to do their jobs.
And check out this quote from the article:
Asked whether federal workers are dissenting in ways that go beyond previous party changes in the White House, Tom Malinowski, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, sarcastically: “Is it unusual? . . . There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security. That happens all the time. It’s totally usual. Nothing to worry about.”
According to Politico, some federal employees have begun using encryption to “thwart Trump.”
Federal employees worried that President Donald Trump will gut their agencies are creating new email addresses, signing up for encrypted messaging apps and looking for other, protected ways to push back against the new administration’s agenda.
Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.
The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.
At the EPA, a small group of career employees — numbering less than a dozen so far — are using an encrypted messaging app to discuss what to do if Trump’s political appointees undermine their agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment, flout the law, or delete valuable scientific data that the agency has been collecting for years, sources told POLITICO.
Fearing for their jobs, the employees began communicating incognito using the app Signal shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Signal, like WhatsApp and other mobile phone software, encrypts all communications, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access to them.
We are truly in uncharted territory. Unpresidented!
What stories are you following today?
I’m getting slow start this morning after rereading some of yesterday’s morning thread and seeing Fannie’s and Beata’s comments. Life is such a mystery . . . it often seems sad and even meaningless. And yet life is wonderful and beautiful too.
I don’t even know how to express what I’m feeling right now. I just want to thank all of you for being here. When I get discouraged and disgusted with our politics and the behavior of some of my fellow humans, it helps me to share my feelings with you and to get your reactions.
Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.
Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday. But with good behavior he could be released in as little as 7 years. Charlie Savage and Emmarie Huetteman at The New York Times:
In a two-minute hearing on Wednesday morning, the judge, Col. Denise R. Lind of the Army, also said that Private Manning would be dishonorably discharged and reduced in rank from private first class to private, the lowest rank in the military. She said he would forfeit his pay, but she did not impose a fine.
Before the sentencing, Private Manning sat leaning forward with his hands folded, whispering to his lawyer, David Coombs. His aunt and two cousins sat quietly behind him. As Colonel Lind read the sentence, Private Manning stood, showing no expression. He did not make a statement.
The materials that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists. He also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables, dossiers of detainees being imprisoned without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….
Mr. Coombs later told reporters that he would apply for a presidential pardon next week and read a statement from Private Manning that he said would be included in his request.
“I only wanted to help people,” Private Manning’s statement said, adding, “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
Manning has expressed the desire to live as a woman, and although he may not be able to get hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery while he is in military prison, he has announced that he is now Chelsea Manning. From Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Bradley Manning’s Long, Painful Road to Coming Out As Transgender.
Less than a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, Army private Bradley Manning has a huge, if not exactly surprisingly, announcement: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the 25-year-old wrote in a statement to Today. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”
But the transition has colored much of Manning’s life for many years and factors heavily into how she became one of the most notable leakers in American history. Even if much of the world is only now paying attention to Manning’s gender-questioning, it’s always been a part of her story.
Manning’s full letter is titled “The Next Stage of My Life” and has notes of relief, her trial and sentencing finally complete after three years. “As I transition into this next phase of my life,” Manning wrote, “I want everyone to know the real me.”
Manning was wrestling with her sexual orientation while serving in Iraq and when she got involved with WikiLeaks. As reported by Steve Fishman in a July 2011 issue of New York, “Among fellow soldiers, Manning had to conceal the basic facts of his sexual orientation. On the web, he was proudly out and joined a ‘Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ group. He’d even begun to explore switching his gender, chatting with a counselor about the steps a person takes to transition from male to female.”
Manning will probably be in her early 30s when she is released from prison; so she’ll still have a long and probably interesting life ahead of her when that time comes.
Australians are calling for a boycott of U.S. travel after the senseless shooting of young Australian college student Chris Lane in Oklahoma. CNN:
The indiscriminate shooting of Christopher Lane, a 23-year-old Australian who was living his dream of studying in the United States on a baseball scholarship, has repulsed many in his home country and led to calls for Australian tourists to boycott the United States.
“It is another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
“People thinking of going to the USA for business or tourist trips should think carefully about it given the statistical fact you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people.”
Police said Lane was on one of his regular runs through what has been described as the affluent town of Duncan on Friday about 3 p.m. when a car carrying three teenagers drove up behind him.
“They pulled up behind him and shot him in the back, then sped away,” said Capt. Jay Evans of the Duncan Police Department. “It could have been anybody — it was such a random act.”
Here’s a long article about the shooting from new.com.au: Chilling 911 call details final moments of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane’s life.
What a heartbreaking story.
The states of Arizona and Kansas have followed a suggestion from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, according to TPM: Accepting Scalia’s Offer, Arizona Sues Obama Administration On Voting Rights.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, was announced by Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and joined by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a high-profile architect of restrictionist laws, including Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.
The issue involves the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to let people register to vote simply by attesting they are citizens, when renewing their driver’s license or applying for social services. A 2004 law adopted by the voters in Arizona added the requirement that people registering to vote also provide proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court struck down that law earlier this year, concluding that it is trumped by the motor voter law. Arizona, the court ruled, could not add new requirements to the form prescribed by the federal law.
But during oral arguments in March, Scalia expressed his bafflement that Arizona did not launch a broader assault on the constitutionality of the NVRA form, written by the Election Assistance Commission. The state simply contended in that case that its proof of citizenship law did not violate the federal law. Even Scalia disagreed with that, voting against Arizona in the ruling, but also giving them a valuable tip in his 7-2 majority opinion.
“We hold that [the NVRA] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Scalia wrote in the June decision. “Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Sigh . . . read more at the link.
According to a new PPP poll, only 28 percent of Louisiana voters still think Governor Bobby Jindal is doing a good job.
Three years ago in August PPP declared Bobby Jindal to be the most popular Governor in the country. 58% of voters approved of him to only 34% who disapproved. Jindal’s fortunes have seen an amazing shift since that time though, and our newest poll finds him to be the most unpopular Republican Governor of any state- and the second most unpopular Governor in the country overall.
Just 28% of voters now approve of Jindal to 59% who disapprove. That’s an 11 point decline in his net approval just since February when he was already at a poor 37/57 standing. Even Republicans are pretty divided on Jindal (43/42) while independents (35/45) and Democrats (14/78) generally give him poor marks.
Jindal’s White House prospects are dismal if his home state voters have anything to say about it. Just 17% of Louisianans think he should run for President in 2016 to 72% who believe he should sit it out. He ties for 4th among Republican primary voters as their top choice for their 2016 candidate- Rand Paul leads with 18% to 17% for Jeb Bush, 11% for Paul Ryan, 10% for Jindal and Chris Christie, 8% for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, 5% for Rick Santorum, and less than 1% for Susana Martinez. (That’s also an embarrassingly poor showing for Santorum given that he easily won the state’s primary last year.)
Jindal wouldn’t be likely to get to a general election but the news for him there is bad too- he trails Hillary Clinton 47/40 in a hypothetical match up. Every other Republican we looked at is more competitive with Clinton in the state- Ryan leads her 46/44, Paul does 45/44, Bush ties her at 44 each, and she leads Christie just 42/41. It looks like Clinton would have a chance to make Louisiana unusually competitive in any instance, but particularly so against Jindal.
It’s difficult to believe that Jindal is polling that well against Hillary.
A few more short takes:
A new article in LA Weekly offers some startling revelations about Michael Hastings’ state of mind before he was killed in a one-car crash: Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted. Based on a friend’s descriptions of Hastings’ behavior, it sounds like he was so severely depressed that he was delusional.
From The A Register, speculations based on The Guardian’s bizarre claims that British intelligence agents forced them to destroy computers that contained U.S. secrets stolen by Edward Snowden: MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which ‘held Snowden files’
A funny Buzzfeed list (with gifs) contributed by Marc Ambinder: 12 Ways To Easily Identify An East Coast Transplant In LA.
A very weird story that demonstrates the institutional stupidity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI suspected William Vollmann was the Unabomber.
A fascinating story at Defense One: Area 51 Has Been Hiding U-2 Spy Planes, Not UFOs
Finally, our old friend David Sirota really outdid himself yesterday with this story at Salon: This cowardly silence is an act of war, in which he claims that President Obama’s failure to object to the UK detaining Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport is a crime against humanity . . . or something.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links in the comment thread.
Sitting here watching Road to Morocco with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour…and enjoying it thoroughly. Edith Head did the dresses and they are beautiful.
Anyway, just a few things for you tonight, and since I am still suffering from serious political affected disorder…the links will be sparse.
Actually, I should call it political aversion disorder. After seeing some of the crap the right-wing talking heads have said about Hillary Clinton, this evening of laughs is a welcomed treat.
John McCain was on Fox News this morning, opening his mouth and spewing ridiculous comments…according to the Maddow Blog: The pot accuses the kettle of having an ‘adoring media’
…this was the key quote:
“[Clinton] obviously has an adoring media. She really didn’t answer any questions. Her response to Senator Johnson about whether it was a spontaneous demonstration or not, saying it ‘didn’t matter.’ It ‘didn’t matter’ how these people died? That was stunning. That was really stunning. Of course it matters. It matters for a whole lot of reasons, including to the families and Americans, because the American people deserve to be told the truth and they were not told the truth.”
Clinton never said it “didn’t matter” how the four Americans were killed. She said the opposite.
As was obvious to anyone paying attention, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was preoccupied with preliminary intelligence reports about a possible protest in Benghazi and Clinton said that was irrelevant as compared to the death of four Americans — and she was correct.
If McCain found this too confusing to understand, perhaps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee isn’t the best place for him to serve.
What’s more, Clinton has “an adoring media”? This from a man who spends so much time on the Sunday shows that he has his mail forwarded to green rooms? This from a senator who’s so adored by the D.C. political establishment that he’s considered reporters his base?
You want another WTF reaction to Clinton…of course it is a Fox and Friend giving it up…Brian Kilmeade: Hillary Clinton used ‘Lance Armstrong principle’ by yelling in Senate hearing
“This is the Lance Armstrong principle of when you’re in trouble, yell at the person asking you a question,” Kilmeade declared. “That’s the way that he kept everybody off of him for 15 years. And believe me, that’s what I thought of right away because when she gets angry, you do not want to be in her crosshairs.”
“But the fact is that everyone is looking at the fact that she got angry and thinking, wow, she looks good,” the Fox News host continued to rant. “But her words absolutely defy the logic behind the whole reason for the hearing.”
Spain’s unemployment rate jumped to the highest in 36 years with the rate expected to continue escalating [AFP]
Spain’s unemployment rate has surged to a modern-day record of 26.02 percent in the final quarter of 2012 as nearly six
million people searched in vain for work in a biting recession, official data shows.
The jobless rate data released on Thursday climbed from 25.02 percent the previous quarter, reaching the highest level since Spain returned to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.
The story for young people was even grimmer: the unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 soared to 55.13 percent, up from 52.34 percent the previous quarter.
The result shattered even the modest expectations of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government, which had been forecasting an unemployment rate of 24.6 percent by the end of 2012.
According to ad creator Dan Ilic, Dick Smith foods had planned to run over $100,000 in advertising on Saturday’s Australia Day, but it was given a PG rating because of a scene showing refugees escaping from a burning boat to enjoy Dick Smith’s OzEmite, an alternative to the Vegemite product marketed by American-owned Kraft Foods.
But for many, it will be the barrage of penis innuendos like “I love Dick” that raise eyebrows.
“This is as wrong as a dead dingo’s donger,” Smith says in the advertisement, referring to “false patriotism” in competing food commercials.
“There’s a quick and easy solution to this,” the blog dlisted explained on Thursday. “They should just edit the commercial all the way down and only show the true star, the Barbara Bush-looking memaw who says, ‘There’s only one Dick I’ll be eating on Australia Day.’ She’s at the 0:20 mark and she delivers her line like a memaw who knows her Dicks.”
Got another cool link for you, take a look at these pictures of a frozen building: In pictures: Ice covers Chicago warehouse after fire
I will end this post with a clip from the movie, Road to Morocco.
The scene where the camel spits in Turkey’s (Bob Hope‘s) face wasn’t planned. The camel did it of its own accord while the cameras were rolling, and Hope’s recoil and Bing Crosby‘s reaction were so funny that it was left in the final cut of the film.
This is an open thread!