Lazy Saturday Reads

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Good Afternoon!!

It’s day 29 of the illegimate presidency of Donald tRump and the chaos continues unabated. There are hundreds of stories I could share with you today, and it’s difficult to figure out which is most worthy of attention. I believe that Russian influence on our government has to be number one, but there are many other urgent issues as well. We can’t ignore the truly frightening story of what tRump is trying to do to undocumented immigrants. Of course there really are many more serious concerns, such as tRump’s refusal to accept advice from experts and his war on the free press. So here are a few stories to check out and I hope you’ll add more in the comments.

First, here’s a follow-up to what Dakinikat wrote yesterday about the increasingly public concerns about tRump’s mental health from Dr. Steven Beutler at The New Republic: A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior. In response to the many questions asked by political leaders, psychologists, and psychiatrists, he writes:

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is sometimes referred to as “The Great Imposter” because of its ability to mimic many other conditions. It is commonly broken down into three stages. Primary syphilis is the most widely recognized form of the disease. It is characterized by the development of an ulcer, usually genital, a few weeks to a few months after sexual contact with an infected person. If the ulcer is not noticed, or not treated, it heals on its own, and the disease enters a dormant phase. But during this time, the bacteria—a spirochete called Treponema pallidum—spreads throughout the body without causing any symptoms.

Untitled, by Perle Fine

Untitled, by Perle Fine

A secondary stage of the disease is seen in some patients weeks or months later. These patients may develop a variety of systemic symptoms, such as rash, fever, and swollen glands. If not treated, the infection enters a prolonged latent phase, which can last decades. During this time, it is asymptomatic and it is not contagious. In some cases, this is followed by a tertiary stage, which is the most serious and may involve any organ in the body. It is seen 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, and is best known for causing neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease: Neurosyphilis.

The symptoms of neurosyphilis are protean, varying widely from one individual to another. Commonly recognized symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting. All of these things have been observed in Trump. Dementia, headaches, gait disturbances. and patchy hair loss can also be seen in later stages of syphilis.

Beutler of course admits that he cannot make a diagnosis without more information and access to tRump, but he argues that Neurosyphilis needs to be considered as a possibility along with psychological disorders because of tRump’s own public admissions about his sexual history.

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Supposedly tRump is going to be interviewing candidates for the National Security Adviser position vacated by Michael Flynn. He has already been turned down by his top two candidates, Adm. Robert Harward and Gen. David Petraeus.

Last night Chris Hayes broke some news about the Harward turndown on his MSNBC show. Business Insider reports: Top national security adviser pick reportedly bailed after seeing Trump’s press conference.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Friday cited a former national security official familiar with Harward’s decision who said Harward asked that several demands be met as a condition of accepting the offer:

“Harward wanted to undo the fairly large changes the president had made to the NSC that had inserted Bannon into the process,” Hayes reported.

Citing his source, Hayes said “The White House did not offer Harward sufficient assurances that he would have such autonomy.” Harward wrote a letter declining the offer.

The White House reportedly sought to negotiate with Harward on the matter, which Harward was initially open to, Hayes said, but that changed a short time later.

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

On Petraeus, CBS News reports:

Sources close to retired Gen. David Petraeus say the White House eliminated the former CIA director from consideration for the open national security adviser post after he weighed in on the job during a conference in Germany this week.

“Whoever it is that would agree to take that position certainly should do so with some very, very significant assurances that he or she would have authorities over the personnel of the organization — that there would be a commitment to a disciplined process and procedures,” Petraeus said at the Munich Security Conference.

That pronouncement angered the White House as it deepened the sense the next national security adviser must assert authority over staff and the inter-agency process — highlighting the reason Vice Adm. Robert Harward refused to take the job earlier this week. Two sources confirmed to CBS News that Harward had demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.

Sources close to the situation said the White House is content for the time being with acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg and does not have a coherent replacement plan in place. Kellogg, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, had been serving as chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council when he took over as the national security adviser.

Apparently, tRump is determined to control the makeup of the NSC, including keeping Steve Bannon on the principals committee. It’s hard to imagine any experienced candidate who would accept that.

Politico: Help wanted: National security adviser who can handle the chaos.

As President Donald Trump prepares to interview more candidates this weekend, accepting the influential policy-making post that oversees a policy staff of hundreds is now widely considered a high-risk gambit, according to current and former government officials and longtime veterans of the National Security Council.

Trump will be forced to “sweeten the deal,” predicted one former Republican NSC official, in order to enlist a high-caliber replacement following the resignation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn….

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

“I would want to know that I had direct, unimpeded access to the president whenever I felt it was necessary,” said Nicholas Rostow, who served as the top legal adviser to both Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft when they held the post under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, respectively.

“Historically that job has been one step removed from domestic politics, and the national security adviser and his or her staff have always prided themselves on looking at things through the prism of the national interest — and therefore slightly less political than other positions,” added Rostow, who now teaches political science at Colgate University.

A former high-ranking national security official in the George W. Bush administration, citing the perils of navigating Trump’s dueling power centers, was far more blunt about the challenges awaiting Trump’s would-be national security adviser: “No serious person would take that job. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

If you’re interested in the Russia connection, I hope you had a chance to watch Joy Reid’s show this morning. She had a great segment on Russia’s reaction to the firing their obvious ally Michael Flynn. Here’s a piece Reid wrote about the situation at The Daily Beast: It’s Not Too Early to Ask: Are Even the Russians Turning on Trump?

Trump’s utility to the Russians has never been in his wackiness. It’s been in the potential for him to deliver, as President, a different U.S. foreign policy; one that deemphasizes the traditional Western alliances and frees Russia to operate in the European theater as it pleases, with lifted sanctions and a few lucrative bilateral oil deals to boot.

But Trump as President hasn’t shown any inkling of the kind of competence or political skill—or the political capital—to do any of that. Even his Secretary of State, Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, has sounded a dubious note about the extent to which the United States will allow Moscow to flex its muscle around the world, which had to be a great disappointment to his good friend, “V. Putin,” as Trump labels him in tweets, using the common Russian nomenclature….

Russian leaders seemed palpably freaked out when Gen. Michael Flynn, clearly seen as Moscow’s main man in Washington, was forced out of the Trump administration amid revelations that he conducted secret foreign policy on the phone with the Russian ambassador over Christmas, then lied to the vice president about it. It’s pretty difficult to imagine that Flynn acted without the direction, or at least the approval, of his boss, the then-incoming president.

But more alarming than the phone calls was the fact that Flynn was considered potentially compromised by a foreign power, by the Director of National Intelligence, the acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, and others, and that the White House was told as much and still waited to act. Now, the Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian media outlets to dial back their glowing Trump coverage, amid uncertainty about what comes next.

Read the whole thing at the link.

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24 Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24
Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

More links to explore:

The New York Times: Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People.’

The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Plan to Outsource Immigration Enforcement to Local Cops.

The New York Times: Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power.

The New Yorker: Michael Flynn: General Chaos.

Politico: Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people.’ Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews.

Buzzfeed: Source Says Dr. Ben Carson “Baffled” At Firing Of HUD Staffer. One of Carson’s closest aides was fired from the agency after writings critical of Trump from October resurfaced.

NPR: Trump’s Sons Heading To Dubai As Business Interests Continue To Expand Overseas.

The New York Times: The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway.

CBS News: Trump yells at CIA director over reports intel officials are keeping info from him.

CBS News: “Chill” in flow of intelligence to Trump White House, sources say.

Politico: Trump ignores ‘the grown-ups’ in his Cabinet. Foreign policy chiefs struggle to influence a wobbly White House.

Media Matters: Anti-Semites Praise Trump For Berating Jewish Reporter And Refusing To Condemn Anti-Semitism In Press Conference.

The Washington Post: John McCain just systematically dismantled Donald Trump’s entire worldview.

Note: The images in this post are by women abstract expressionist painters.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Lazy Saturday Reads

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Good Morning!!

We’ve lost another great actor. Famed British character actor John Hurt died yesterday at age 77. He had pancreatic cancer.

NBC News: Acting Legend John Hurt of ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Elephant Man’ Dead at 77.

John Hurt, who appeared in “Midnight Express,” “The Elephant Man” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” among many other films, has died at the age of 77, his publicist said….

With a career that stretches back more than 60 years, Hurt has long been a familiar face to moviegoers. In recent years, audiences recognized him as wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, as the British dictator in “V for Vendetta” and as the disturbed Harold “Ox” Oxley in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

But Hurt is perhaps best known for his role that came some years ago. His role in “Midnight Express” earned him an Oscar nomination and his work as David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” in 1980 and as the main character in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” provided him global name recognition.

In total Hurt was nominated for two Oscars and won four BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In 2015, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II….

Hurt had a unique voice that provided him a rich voice acting career. From the animated films “Watership Down” and “The Lord of the Rings,” both made in 1978, to the popular BBC series “Merlin,” Hurt’s voice built entire worlds for audiences.

Hurt also held the dubious honor for the most onscreen deaths of any actor, according to a 2014 article by the Nerdist.

Orwell’s famous novel has been is selling like hotcakes on Amazon in the first week of the Trump presidency; perhaps the movie will do the same now.

John Hurt as Kane dies in "Alien."

John Hurt as Kane dies in “Alien.”

More on John Hurt from The New York Times:

Mr. Hurt was a rising stage actor in England in the 1960s but spent most of the remainder of his career compiling a long résumé in movies and on television. A chameleon of a performer, physically unimposing but with a rich, melodic voice, he played a number of leading roles, though he could never be described as a leading man. Critics often seemed challenged to explain the appeal of his presence.

In “The Naked Civil Servant” (1975), seen first on television in England, he was Quentin Crisp, a flame-haired raconteur and social butterfly whose forthright flamboyance as a gay man helped push the acceptance of homosexuality in Britain.

In a 1979 BBC mini-series, he was Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, the brooding, conscience-stricken killer in “Crime and Punishment.” And in Michael Radford’s 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984,” he was Winston Smith, the protagonist. Mr. Hurt’s pallor, fearful expression and prominent ears made him an especially feral and unromantic rebel.

“His countenance is fishy and bizarre,” Cintra Wilson wrote in Salon in 2004. “He has dark, verminous little eyes, a smirky little mouth full of nicotine-varnished teeth, and that British complexion that evokes a poached worm. Even in his early films, he has eye bags and looks like he put on a face that was at the very bottom of his laundry basket. His body, when it isn’t a little overindulged around the abdomen, is scrawny. He has never, in any role, looked particularly masculine. The characters he plays are generally weak, immoral, murderous, slimy or insane. Yet to gaze upon John Hurt, in almost any role, is to feel a drooly adoration; he is irresistible.”

I signed the petition demanding Donald Trump release his tax returns. If you haven’t signed it yet, I hope you will.

160514204454-clinton-ad-trump-tax-returns-none-business-cabrera-dnt-nr-00000510-exlarge-169

Huffington Post: Petition Demanding Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns Breaks White House Record.

A petition on the White House website asking President Donald Trump to release information about his tax returns has now received more signatures than any other petition in the system’s five-year history.

The petition demands that the federal government explain what it is doing to “immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.” It garnered over 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of the president’s inauguration and has become the subject of a New York Times editorial.,

“The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” states a brief description of the petition.

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had over 368,000 signatures, surpassing the previous record of 367,180. The previous record-holder called for the United States government to “legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

There are now more than 400,000 signatures.

The Daily Telegraph has an update on the Russian spy who was arrested and charged with treason in December: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump.

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

leg

Oleg Erovinkin

Oleg Erovinkin

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month….

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, tRump signed a cruel executive order to prevent refugees from several majority Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. Countries like Saudia Arabia where tRump has business interests weren’t on the list, but Syria and Iraq were. Voice of America reports:

The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” calls for suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to citizens of “countries of particular concern.”

Two United Nations agencies issued a joint statement Saturday just hours after Trump’s order, saying “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater, and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said they hope the “U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.” The agencies said they “strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.” ….

As a reason for the order, the document cites the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, which were carried out by 19 foreigners who obtained visas to enter the United States without difficulty. It refers to other terrorism-related crimes committed over the past 15 years by foreign nationals who entered the United States using either short-term visas — as visitors, students or temporary workers — or as refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S.

Of course everyone knows the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The order means that we will turn away Iraqis who helped us and are in danger in their own country.

refugees-demonstrating-in-migrant-camp-in-france

The New York Times: Fears That Trump’s Visa Ban Betrays Friends and Bolsters Enemies.

CAIRO — Across the Muslim world, the refrain was resounding: President Trump’s freeze on refugee arrivals and visa requests from seven predominantly Muslim countries will have major diplomatic repercussions, worsen perceptions of Americans and offer a propaganda boost to the terrorist groups Mr. Trump says he is targeting.

Mr. Trump’s stance has been evident since the early days of his campaign, when he advocated a “complete and total shutdown” of all Muslims entering the United States.

President Trump has since softened his language, casting his order on Friday as a way to keep terrorists, not Muslims, out of the United States.

“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

But in interviews with dozens of officials, analysts and ordinary citizens across Muslim-majority countries, there was overwhelming agreement that the order issued Friday signaled a provocation: a sign that the American president sees Islam itself as the problem.

“I think this is going to alienate the whole Muslim world,” said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a lawmaker and former Iraqi national security adviser in Iraq.

This heartless order by tRump will be challenged in the courts.

An Iraqi refugee family

An Iraqi refugee family

The New York Times: Refugees Detained at U.S. Airports, Prompting Legal Challenges to Trump’s Immigration Order.

President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect Friday night. Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.

The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.

Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, created a legal limbo for individuals on the way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.

Mr. Trump’s order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and it bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Just reading the words “President Trump” makes me physically ill.

On bright spot is that the tRump people have walked back a number of the ridiculous plans they’ve proposed. Rachel Maddow did a good report on this last night. If you didn’t see it, I hope you’ll go watch it. And while you’re there, please check out Lawrence O’Donnell’s open monologue about the abject humiliations tRump has suffered over the past two days. I know everyone is demoralized, and I am too. But we have to keep hope alive.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and do your best do enjoy the weekend.


Thursday Reads: We Have Entered The Twilight Zone.

twilight_zone

Good Morning!!

Yesterday JJ posted a link to this brief post by Melissa McEwan:

I was managing to keep a lid on the bitterness about Hillary Clinton not being our president until I saw Donald Trump start to govern.

It’s going precisely the way I thought it would, so it’s not like I’m surprised.

It’s just that seeing it actually begin to unfold is triggering a deep well of resentment, and a profound grief, that I was only able to keep at bay until he was sworn in.

And now I cannot contain it. I am angry and resentful and grief-stricken in a way I have never felt before.

That’s exactly how I feel. The time from the election to the inauguration was bad enough, but now everything feels unreal and frightening. Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, Dan Rather called it a “Twilight Zone feeling.” I think it’s likely that a majority of Americans feel this way. A man with the temperament and personality of a 6-year-old–sometimes a 3-year-old–is sitting in the White House watching Fox News and plotting the destruction of our country. And even more horrifying, he has the power to blow up the entire world if he so chooses.

I recall feeling desperate and enraged after the Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush, but this is so much worse. I feel anxious and on-edge all the time. I’m afraid to get too far from my news sources for fear that he will do something drastic; and even if I try to escape into a book or TV show or video game I just can’t shake this feeling of everything being out-of-kilter. The only difference I can see between tRump and a dictator like Kim Jong Un is that we have a few checks and balances in place–for now–to keep our child-leader from killing or jailing his critics.

Did the photographer put that shadow "mustache" in deliberately?

Did the photographer put that shadow “mustache” in deliberately?

Apparently the DC police feel empowered to arrest and charge journalists now. The New York Times reports: Felony Charges for Journalists Arrested at Inauguration Protests Raise Fears for Press Freedom.

At least six journalists were charged with felony rioting after they were arrested while covering the violent protests that took place just blocks from President Trump’s inauguration parade in Washington on Friday, according to police reports and court documents.

The journalists were among 230 people detained in the anti-Trump demonstrations, during which protesters smashed the glass of commercial buildings and lit a limousine on fire.

The charges against the jouMexirnalists — Evan Engel, Alexander Rubinstein, Jack Keller, Matthew Hopard, Shay Horse and Aaron Cantu — have been denounced by organizations dedicated to press freedom. All of those arrested have denied participating in the violence.

“These felony charges are bizarre and essentially unheard of when it comes to journalists here in America who were simply doing their job,” said Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of Pen America. “They weren’t even in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were in the right place.”

Carlos Lauria, a spokesman and senior program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, called the charges “completely inappropriate and excessive,” and the organization has asked that they be dropped immediately.

“Our concern is that these arrests could send a chilling message to journalists that cover future protests,” Mr. Lauria added.

Witnesses reported that sweeping arrests during the parade targeted rioters, protesters and journalists indiscriminately. A lawyer representing dozens of people arrested, Mark Goldstone, told The Associated Press that the police had “basically identified a location that had problems and arrested everyone in that location.”

WTF?!

Yesterday, tRump began pressing forward with his promised Muslim ban, his fantasy border wall, and his threat to “defund” sanctuary cities by issuing a series of executive orders. He also threatened to reopen CIA “black sites” and reinstate Bush-era torture techniques. On Twitter, he even threatened to send Federal troops into Chicago to crack down on crime!

This isn’t creeping fascism; it’s galloping fascism.

The good news is that the White House and government agencies are leaking like crazy. Vox obtained leaked copies of draft executive orders: Read leaked drafts of 4 White House executive orders on Muslim ban, end to DREAMer program, and more. Yesterday the White House released two of the orders that were exactly like the drafts; therefore Vox decided to report on the others.

The two orders released today by the Trump administration, and delivered yesterday by our source, start the process of building President Trump’s famous “wall,” and make it easier for immigration agents to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants at the border and in the US. Those policies are explained in detail here.

The four remaining draft orders obtained by Vox focus on immigration, terrorism, and refugee policy. They wouldn’t ban all Muslim immigration to the US, breaking a Trump promise from early in his campaign, but they would temporarily ban entries from seven majority-Muslim countries and bar all refugees from coming to the US for several months. They would make it harder for immigrants to come to the US to work, make it easier to deport them if they use public services, and put an end to the Obama administration program that protected young “DREAMer” immigrants from deportation.

 In all, the combined documents would represent one of the harshest crackdowns on immigrants — both those here and those who want to come here — in memory.

Read the rest at Vox.

trump_ban_muslims_from_u_s-vi-3

Last night, ABC News ran an interview with tRump conducted by David Muir. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but the clips I’ve seen are terrifying. The interview confirmed what we already know–that tRump is a childish, ignorant buffoon who is clearly incompetent to hold any public office, much less be POTUS.

The Washington Post has published the entire interview with annotations by Aaron Blake. I can’t bring myself to post excerpts, but please read the whole thing at the Post. You watch the video there too if you can stand it.

tRump is running around saying dangerous things, apparently without even consulting the Cabinet members who would be charged with carrying out his orders.

Politico: Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report.

Two of the officials who will be in charge of carrying out President Donald Trump’s terrorism detainee policies, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, were “blindsided” by reports of a draft executive order that would require the CIA to reconsider using interrogation techniques that some consider torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking.

Lawmakers in both parties denounced the draft order on Wednesday even as White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he had “no idea where it came from” and that it is “not a White House document.”

It’s unclear who wrote the draft order or whether Trump will sign it, though members of Congress in both parties were taking that prospect seriously on Wednesday.

Some members of Congress said the document raised the specter of Trump following through on campaign vows to bring back waterboarding and other George W. Bush-era torture practices, which many lawmakers consider a shameful chapter of U.S. history.

The document, obtained and published by The New York Times and Washington Post, calls for the director of national intelligence to review whether to bring back the CIA’s infamous black-site prisons. Those were secret overseas facilities where the CIA carried out brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects from 2001 to 2006, as documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 investigation into the issue.

The draft order says terrorism suspects in U.S. custody will not be subject to “torture” or “degrading treatment.” But it characterizes a 2016 law barring torture as “a significant statutory barrier” and would revoke an executive order signed by President Barack Obama stating that suspects must be treated in compliance with international law.

Unbelievable.

Ku Klux Klan on a Ferris Wheel--a metaphor for tRump World?

Ku Klux Klan on a Ferris Wheel–a metaphor for tRump World?

I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump, because I’m just too traumatized to do more.

Vox: The best theory for why Trump tells such obvious lies.Tru

WaPo: People were taking Trump seriously. Now they’re starting to take him literally.

WaPo: Maybe Trump isn’t ‘lying’. Jennifer Rubin suggests that Trump may not be able to tell truth from fantasy.

WaPo: In his first major TV interview as president, Trump is endlessly obsessed with his popularity.

NYT: Clinics for World’s Vulnerable Brace for Trump’s Anti-Abortion Cuts.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman asks “Is Donald Trump’s War With CNN Personal?”

Nina Burleigh at Newsweek: Trump White House Senior Staff Have Private RNC Email Accounts.

NYT: As Trump Orders Wall, Mexico’s President Considers Canceling U.S. Trip.

CNN: Trump to Mexican president: Better to cancel our meeting.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and try to stay calm just for today. I love you all.


Thursday Reads

2016-02-27-1456595899-9124929-TrumpHitler-thumb

Good Morning!!

Did you watch Donald Trump’s speech last night? If you didn’t, I suggest you do so today. This man is a danger to our country and to the world, and our clueless media is largely playing down the horrific nature of what was broadcast live from Phoenix, Arizona last night.

What we saw was essentially a Klan rally dressed up as a “major policy speech.” Are the “journalists” in this country so young and historically ignorant that they can’t see the parallels between what is happening here and in Europe right now and events in Europe in the 1930s?

I watched the speech in shock and horror, and I was even more shocked by the calm reactions I saw on the cable shows afterward. Lawrence O’Donnell claimed that Trump was continuing to back off his threat to deport the 11 million undocumented people and their families and that his renamed “deportation task force” was different from the “deportation force” he had previously described. Steve Kornaki’s show at 11PM struck a similar tone. In addition they invited guests like Bill Kristol and Hugh Hewitt on their shows to push the narrative that yesterday was a great day for Trump and his campaign.It was if watching a madman scream at the top of his lungs about “illegal aliens” destroying our country and how he would crack down was no big deal to these people.

Many reporters seemed deeply impressed by Trump’s charade in Mexico City yesterday, calling him “presidential” and “statesmanlike.” When the speech finally came last night, they were apparently primed to continue seeing Trump in that way. I’ve never seen anything like it. What on earth is wrong with these people?

Of course I wasn’t alone in my reaction to Trump’s speech, as you can see from some of the tweets above. But many in the media still seem anxious to normalize Trump as they work to tear down Hillary Clinton with attacks on her emails the Clinton Foundation. More twitter reactions:

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has been essentially erased from the campaign coverage. She gave a speech to the American Legion yesterday that turned out to be nothing but a blip in the midst of the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s quick trip to Mexico and his insane speech last night. He was on TV again with his own speech to the American Legion. Where is Hillary? She and her campaign are going to have to step up soon or all could be lost.

Hillary has been focusing on raising money and attracting Republicans and independents to support her. It’s way past time for her to focus on talking about her own liberal agenda. When is the last time she talked about guns and gun violence, for example? And she is going to have to deal directly with the attacks on the Clinton Foundation and the lies about her emails and server. I don’t know what strategy would work, but what she is doing right now is not helping.

So what did Trump say last night?

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Nolan D. McCaskill at Politico: Trump promises wall and massive deportation program.

Donald Trump on Wednesday squashed any speculation that he might soften his immigration position to reach new voters in the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, delivering a hawkish, hardline, and true-to-his-roots border platform and vowing that on Day One of his administration, the United States would launch a mammoth deportation program and begin construction of a wall.

Emerging from a hastily organized meeting with Mexico’s president, the Republican nominee flew to Arizona and not only renewed his pledge that America’s southern neighbor would fund an impenetrable, beautiful border wall but said it would be built in “record time” and at a “reasonable price.”

“We will build a great wall along the southern border — and Mexico will pay for the wall,” Trump said. “100 percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re gonna pay for the wall.”

Trump hailed the “great people and great leaders” of Mexico following his visit to Mexico City but insisted, “they’re going to pay for the wall.”

“On Day One, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” Trump said during a major speech on immigration in Phoenix after weeks of waffling on the issue that has been core to his campaign. “We will use the best technology, including above- and below-ground sensors. That’s the tunnels. Remember that. Above and below. Above- and below- ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels and keep out criminal cartels and Mexico, you know that, will work with us. I really believe it. Mexico will work with us. I absolutely believe it.”

It seems pretty clear to what Trump is saying. He even made it clear that any undocumented person who is arrested will be shipped out, without trial. So he’s not just talking about drug dealers or murderers. He’s still telling tales to his followers about a wall that will never be built and that he will somehow make Mexico pay for it. Will that involve a war?

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James Hohmann at The Washington Post provides a succinct summary of the policy proposals in Trump’s immigration speech:

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what Trump said:

  • He declared that he will build a “Great Wall.” (“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.”)
  • He insisted “Mexico will pay” for it: “One-hundred percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall.”
  • He suggested that he’d like to deport his opponent. “Maybe they’ll be able to deport her.”
  • He said Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” did not go far enough. (He name-checked Ike but did not say what the strategy was called.)
  • He reiterated that he will indeed create “a deportation task force” and promised to deport two million “criminal aliens” starting on “day one.”
  • He said undocumented immigrants seeking legal status would first have to leave the country and try to return lawfully. “There will be no amnesty,” he said. “You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country. Can’t do it. … Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.” He did not use the term “self-deportation,” but that’s exactly what he called for: “You can call it ‘deport’ if you want. The press doesn’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want.”
  • He claimed “countless Americans” are “victims of violence” by illegal immigrants who are “dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals”: “We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants arrested for any crime whatsoever.”
  • He said government has “no idea” how many undocumented immigrants are on U.S. soil: “It could be 30 million.”
  • “We’re like the big bully that keeps getting beat up,” Trump explained. “We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Sometimes it’s just not going to work out. It’s our right, as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”

Read the full transcript here, and watch the whole thing for yourself here.

More stories to check out:

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Think Progress: America’s ‘Most Prolific Conspiracy Theorist’ Reveals He’s Now Advising Donald Trump. Yes, they are talking about Alex Jones.

Charles Blow: The Duplicity of Donald Trump.

Joseph Cannon: Let’s predict the day Trump pulls ahead. {{shudder}}

Benjy Sarlin at NBC News: Trump Meets With Mexican President but Dispute Emerges Over Wall.

Jorge Ramos at the WaPo: Jorge Ramos: Peña Nieto was meek with Trump. Latino voters in the U.S. won’t be.

Politico: Several Hispanic Trump surrogates reconsider support.

Nate Silver: Election Update: As The Race Tightens, Don’t Assume The Electoral College Will Save Clinton.

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Dealt With a Series of People Who Had Mob Ties.

ABC News: FBI Warns Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Staffers to Beware of Foreign Spies in US.

Josh Marshall: Blood and Race and Trump.

Politico: Vicente Fox on Trump: ‘Please wake up, America.’

Crooks and Liars: Former Mexican President on Trump’s Visit: He Is Lying!

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


Live Blog: Nevada Democratic Townhall with MSNBC and Telemundo

Good Evening!

x_tdy_townhall_151005.today-inline-vid-featured-desktopTonight we have a Townhall moderated by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart . 

The networks have partnered to host a town hall event for the dueling Democrats from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST from the KMA Event Center in Las Vegas.

You can live stream the town hall here in English, or you can watch it in Spanish here at various times.

Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were slated to attend the town hall, which is scheduled to be moderated by José Díaz-Balart and Chuck Todd. Chris Matthews and Chris Hayes will anchor the pre-show coverage, and Rachel Maddow will lead the post-show coverage, according to a news release.

The town hall comes just before the Party’s Nevada caucus, which is set for Saturday. Fresh off a win in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, Sanders was tied with Clinton in the Silver State. Both had the support of 45 percent of primary voters, but the Wall Street Journal noted that statistic only included results from six polls over the past year. FiveThirtyEight predicted each candidate had a 50 percent chance of winning in Nevada.

Nevada has 43 delegates who go to the Democratic National Convention to vote for a nominee.

Clinton was continuing to perform better than Sanders nationally, though the gap between the presidential hopefuls has closed in recent weeks. As of Tuesday afternoon, 50 percent of voters backed Clinton. About 40 percent backed Sanders, according to the HuffPost Pollster.

One of the differences that may become clearer tonight is if Sanders insistence on his income inequality message will play better in Nevada than Clinton’s focus on immigration policy.  There have not been any good recent polls coming out of Nevada and it’s a caucus state so the state of the race hasn’t been clearly forecast for some time.

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If Hillary Clinton has her way, the final two days of campaigning before Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada will be squarely focused on immigration policy.

But not Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator remains largely dialed in on his core message about economic inequality, his approach as disciplined and undeviating as ever.

That’s what makes tonight’s town hall forum here, hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo, an important — but potentially uncomfortable — moment for Sanders.

The Vermont senator hasn’t exactly shied away from talking about immigration policy in the state where polls show him in a close race with Clinton. He has repeatedly talked about his own immigration reform plan during Nevada campaign stops, and he has the support of some activists who have helped him take his pitch local. A group of DREAMers from around the country is even descending on Las Vegas to campaign for him this week.

I seriously hope some one asks Sanders about his appearance with Lou Dobbs where discussed his issues wit the 2007 immigration legislation he voted against.  I’d like to see the segment played prior to the question being asked. The issue came up at the last debate.  This is legislation that Kennedy and McCain wrote and that Obama and Clinton supported.  Sanders voted against the bill and his since hedged his bets on reasons he gave to Dobbs at the time.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders briefly exchanged words over his vote against the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that John McCain and Ted Kennedy wrote and that both Clinton and Barack Obama supported, while Sanders and most Republicans plus some Democrats were opposed. Sanders cited as his motive opposition to the bill’s guest worker provisions, which he said were bad because a Southern Poverty Law Center investigation had likened conditions in existing agricultural guest worker programs to slavery.

It’s interesting to compare this with what he said about the bill at the time on Lou Dobbs’s show. Dobbs, for those who’ve forgotten, was a business news broadcaster who refashioned himself as a somewhat Trump-esque anti-immigration, anti–trade deal populist in the mid-aughts.

If you watch the interview you’ll see that Sanders isn’t particularly interested in working conditions for guest workers and he’s also not narrowly focused on the H2 programs the SPLC report was about — he also talks about H1 programs for skilled workers that, whatever their flaws, are clearly not slavery.

Dobbs is opposed to the whole idea of “amnesty,” which Sanders was not, but Sanders also doesn’t argue with Dobbs about it. Sanders doesn’t really say anything about the costs and benefits to immigrants themselves — whether that’s people who’ve been living illegally in the United States or potential future guest workers — one way or another. His focus is on the idea that “what happens in Congress is to a very significant degree dictated by big-money interests” and that “I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.”

I’d also like to hear Sanders address Killer Mike’s “uterus” comment as well as the implication of this particular exchange with a BET reporter.

Sanders appears to think that Killer Mike’s comments are okay. However, he took the opportunity to slam Bill Clinton. So much for the high horse riding about going negative in campaigns.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is standing up for Killer Mike after the Atlanta-based rapper stood onstage at a Sanders rally and quoted a feminist activist as saying “a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.”

And he was even more direct when asked about Bill Clinton’s remarks on the campaign trail that seemed to compare fervor for Sanders on the left with the populist anger that created the tea party on the right.

Aboard his campaign plane Thursday, Sanders told reporters that Killer Mike was quoting someone else — but that he agreed with the basic premise.

“What Mike said essentially is that … people should not be voting for candidates based on their gender, but based on what they believe. I think that makes sense,” said Sanders, who has mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I don’t go around, no one has ever heard me say, ‘Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.’ I would never do that, never have.”

02-18-16-y-10Who among us recalls Hillary’s vagina appealing to our own?  (Well, maybe I don’t count since mine was removed after he cancer imbed.)

02-18-16-z-18I’m still having fun going to Still for Hill to see pictures of Clinton’s visit with workers at Caesar’s Palace.  Frankly, it puts me in a better mood than reading about the latest grumpy gripe by Bernine Downers.

So, pull up you couch, your bed, your chair, your pet and significant other, pop some popcorn and join us in the Nerd Ball Toss at Bernie and the Cheers for Hillary!!!

By the way, I attended the opening of Hillary’s Headquarters here in New Orleans with former Mayor Moon Landrieu!

Here’s a picture and here’s some great poll news!!!

12743907_1205905622770844_1786053751461256636_n12745556_10207024779391620_9059452003051586154_nBookending the former Mayor and his wife are City Councilman Jim Gray and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell!!!!!  Hyma Moore is our Lousiana Campaign Coordinator for Hillary!!!!

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Donald Trump is A Threat to National Security and to Democracy

Trump cartoon by Matt Bors, www.gocomics.com

Trump cartoon by Matt Bors, http://www.gocomics.com

Good Afternoon!!

It’s time to break through the Overton window and speak truthfully about Donald Trump. This awful man is a national emergency. The extreme language he has been using in his campaign for President is damaging our country both domestically and internationally.

Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS and other extremists, including right wing groups here in the U.S. His words have already inspired violence and could lead to more attacks on Muslims, African Americans, and Latino-Americans. He is an embarrassment that all Americans should reject–but many won’t.

Trump can no longer be viewed as just a clown or a blowhard jerk. He is dangerous.

What if Trump somehow wins the Republican nomination? What if he actually wins the general election and his fascist ideas become White House policy? He has to be stopped. But how?

Yesterday Trump called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Here’s his campaign press release:

(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.

Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump

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The hatred being spewed by Donald Trump and his advisers is what is “beyond comprehension.” It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to look at the latest news for fear there will be more ugly hateful reports on the latest speeches and statements by this evil man.

Fortunately, some Republicans are finally speaking out against him, although not very forcefully. Republicans are probably the only people who can stop this man, but they are going to have to get organized very quickly if they really hope to do it. Two Republican reactions:

Time Magazine: Speaker Paul Ryan Condemns Donald Trump’s Ban on Muslims.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants to America “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Ryan, who has been Speaker of the House for less than six weeks, had previously eschewed weighing in on presidential politics. He did so Tuesday after an announcement late Monday that Trump would no longer be participating in a Republican National Committee fundraiser later this week.

“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said in the RNC lobby on Capitol Hill. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and defend the constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast vast vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism and freedom, democracy and individual rights.”

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WMUR ABC9 (Manchester, NH): State GOP chairwoman says Trump’s call to ban Muslims from U.S. is ‘un-American.’

State Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said Monday that Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States is “un-American.” ….

Horn, who has been a frequent critic of Trump in recent months, said:

“There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position (as party chairwoman) is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”

All well and good.

But two top Trump supporters in New Hampshire said the controversial Republican presidential frontrunner is right.

State Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Steve Stepanek of Amherst said Horn should resign her post for criticizing Trump because she is not being neutral in the presidential primary.

Mediaite reports: Several Papers Depict Donald Trump As ‘the New Furor’ With Hitler Comparisons.

Following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘scall for a ban on all Muslim immigrantson Monday, newspapers and digital media outlets around the world responded with tired Nazi comparisons. In particular, the Philadelphia Daily Newsand the Times of Israelpaired their stories with images depicting Trump giving what looks like the infamous Nazi salute.

The Times of Israel‘s image selection was especially noticeable for two reasons, the first being that it was taken fromTrump’s speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last week. The New York real estate magnate, standing before the crowd of conservative Jewish voters, is seen giving what looks an awful lot like Adolf Hitler‘s trademark stance.

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Excuse me? “tired Hitler comparisons?” Who else should Trump be compared to based on his language and stated policies? The Philadelphia Daily News put a photo of Trump as Hitler on its front page. From Business Insider:

The Philadelphia Daily News had a hard-hitting reaction on Tuesday to Donald Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the US.

The tabloid’s cover directly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, using a photo of the Republican presidential front-runner with his arm raised to look like a Nazi salute. The front-page headline further used a “furor” pun to compare Trump to the German führer.

And there’s this news from Philly.com: Severed pig’s head left at N. Phila. mosque.

Philadelphia police, the FBI, and the city’s Human Relations Commission launched investigations Monday after a worker at a North Philadelphia mosque found a severed pig’s head outside its door.

Surveillance video outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, on Germantown Avenue near Jefferson Street, showed a red pickup truck drove past the building twice just before 11 p.m. Sunday.

The first time it crept along slowly near the curb. On its second pass, the video shows, someone extended an arm from the passenger window and tossed something that rolled to a stop near the mosque’s front door.

An employee found the bloodied animal head there around 6 a.m. Monday. Pigs are considered insulting to Muslims who observe halal dietary laws.

Police and the FBI confirmed they were reviewing the incident, though they said it was too early to discuss potential charges.

“We’ve got to be involved,” said Officer Pete Berndlmaier of the 26th District, who gathered information at the scene. “If they get away doing something like that, they are going to up the ante.”

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No kidding. Just as Donald Trump keeps “upping the ante.”

According to Politico, he is “not bothered by comparisons to Hitler.”

Donald Trump went on a series of rhetorical rants on Tuesday morning, saying he does not mind comparisons to Adolf Hitler and tussling with morning show anchors about his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, calling his approach more akin to what Hitler’s American contemporary did during World War II.

“You’re increasingly being compared to Hitler. Doesn’t that give you any pause at all?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican poll leader on “Good Morning America,” displaying an image of the Philadelphia Daily News’ punning Tuesday front-page headline “The New Furo

In response, Trump said no, invoking what he termed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese many years ago” during World War II. “This was a president that was highly respected by all,” Trump said, remarking upon the Democratic president’s actions during the war. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”

Yes, and Ronald Reagan approved reparations for Japanese Americans. But apparently Trump thinks one terrible mistake justifies his own ghastly policies.

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And get this: Trump wants to shut down the internet to stop jihadists from communicating with each other!

The Verge: Donald Trump thinks he can call Bill Gates to ‘close up’ the internet.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just said the US should consider “closing up” the internet to curb radical extremism. Trump, a man that routinely claims everyone in charge of the US is stupid, believes that as president he could just call up Bill Gates to help him shut off the internet. Trump floated the idea at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina tonight as a way to stop ISIS “jihadists” from recruiting Americans to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The idea is so dumb it almost has us, too, at a loss for words.

“We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet,” Trump said. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”

Trump may be ignorant. He may even be stupid. He’s also very dangerous.

What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Will It Come Down to Rubio Vs. Cruz?

rubiocruzGood Morning!!

I’m beginning to get the feeling that Marco Rubio will be the GOP nominee. He seems to be the favorite of the money men, the “establishment” Republicans, and the corporate media. The only problem for him is that he’s still not very popular with voters.

But honestly, who else are the Republicans going to nominate? Trump is a know-nothing, egotistical blowhard, Carson is fabulist who spouts bizarre biblical fantasies and nutty conspiracy theories, Cruz is hated by just about everyone who has ever met him, Bush is the worst candidate evah, and Paul and Kasich are also-rans.

Rubio is young, baby-faced, and clean cut–never mind the fact that he is corrupt, ignorant, inexperienced, and would change any of his beliefs or policies and, if necessary, attack his own mother in order to win. Just look how he has treated his own mentor, Jeb Bush.

The latest media narrative is that Rubio and Ted Cruz are on a collision course.

Politico: The coming fight between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Going into the week, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio seemed to be the rivalry to watch in the GOP primary. After the fourth Republican debate, that’s been replaced by a new and perhaps more consequential storyline: the coming collision of Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The two Cuban-Americans, both 40-something, first-term senators with tea party credentials, continue to trail outsider candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the polls. But they’re increasingly viewed as the candidates to beat in their respective lanes — Rubio as the new establishment front-runner and Cruz beginning to consolidate support from the party’s more conservative wing. The consensus view that they outperformed their rivals Tuesday has served only to cement that impression.

“There’s this growing sense that Rubio’s the best candidate and that people are getting pretty comfortable with him,” said Bruce Haynes, a Republican strategist. “You can feel Carson and Trump losing support. Cruz is a quiet tide in the night that is beginning to wash out the base on Donald Trump. Now, I think, people are looking at Cruz as the candidate who’s best positioned in a lane to run with Rubio and give him a real fight.”

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Both Cruz and Rubio are incredibly mean and ambitious, but I have to believe that Rubio will win out in the long run because Cruz is already the most hated man in DC. I have to believe that event Republican voters will hate him once they get to know him better.

At the NYT, Jeremy W. Peters writes: Confrontation Brews as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Vie for Conservative Vote.

That fight, which could be the most decisive but unpredictable element of the nomination contest, increasingly appeared to be heading toward a confrontation between two first-term senators both elected with Tea Party support but who have since taken different paths: Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Each made his pitch in subtle but unmistakable ways during the debate and afterward, as they left Milwaukee for a day of campaigning across the country.

The most glaring difference between the two that surfaced during the debate — and continued in interviews each gave in the hours afterward — was over the issue of immigration policy. Mr. Cruz tried to portray Mr. Rubio as a moderate beholden to the Republican establishment, while Mr. Rubio argued that his approach was the most reasonable and workable conservative solution.

Yesterday as Cruz was campaigning in New Hampshire, Peters asked him to distinguish between his immigration policies and Rubio’s.

“It is not complicated,” Mr. Cruz said, then paused before adding, “that on the seminal fight over amnesty in Congress, the Gang of Eight bill that was the brainchild of Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama, that would have granted amnesty to 12 million people here illegally, that I stood with the American people and led the fight to defeat it in the United States Congress.”

Mr. Cruz said: “In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty, we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election. That is a path to losing.

“And part of the reason the debate last night was so productive is you started to see clear, meaningful policy distinctions, not just between what people say on the campaign trail. Talk’s cheap. But between their records. When the fight was being fought, where did you stand? That speaks volumes about who you are and where you will stand in the future. And we’re entering the phase now in the presidential race where primary voters are starting to examine the records of the candidates.”

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Peters also notes that Rubio tried to clarify his immigration views yesterday on Fox News.

“The lesson I learned from that is the people of the United States do not trust the federal government on immigration,” Mr. Rubio said as he listed a tough set of policies he said would “realistically but responsibly” address the problem.

“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported,” he said. “If you’re not a criminal, and have been here longer than 10 years, you have to learn English. You have to start paying taxes. You’re going to have to pay a fine. And then you’ll get a work permit.” He did not mention the question that enrages so many conservative voters: whether to eventually grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

The problem Rubio has is that he hopes to get support from some Latinos and from moderate Republicans; Cruz is only interested in the right wing nuts.

Reihan Salam at Slate: Where Does Marco Rubio Stand on Immigration?

Back in the 1980s, Pat Schroeder, a liberal congresswoman from Colorado, dubbed Ronald Reagan “the Teflon president” for the way he managed to avoid any blame for the scandals that erupted around him in his second term. One wonders whether Rubio is emerging as the Teflon candidate. With the possible exception of the silver-tongued Carly Fiorina, no Republican presidential candidate has helped himself more over the course of the first four debates than Rubio. On Tuesday night, Rubio fared well again. He wasn’t quite as strong as Ted Cruz, who, as Slate’s Josh Voorhees argues, was the night’s biggest winner. More than usual, Rubio seemed to be drawing on his stock references to his hardscrabble upbringing and his immigrant parents, and his optimistic homilies about the healing power of the American Dream. What was really striking about Rubio’s performance, however, is the way he dodged, yet again, getting drawn into a debate over immigration policy….

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It would be one thing if Rubio only avoided talking about comprehensive immigration reform on the debate stage, but the Florida senator has soft-pedaled the issue throughout his campaign, only occasionally explaining why he decided to abandon his comprehensive immigration reform bill, which offered a path to citizenship to unauthorized immigrants and substantially increased legal immigration, among other things. Instead of repudiating the months he spent crafting an immigration compromise, Rubio emphasizes that he couldn’t trust President Obama as a partner, or that the timing wasn’t right. He insists that he pushed the comprehensive immigration reform bill in as conservative a direction as he could.

Yet we don’t have a clear sense of where, in an ideal world, Rubio would like U.S. immigration policy to go. On his nattily designed website, Rubio excerpts a passage from American Dreams, his biography, in which he makes the case for securing the border first, a conservative-friendly stance. He calls for moving from an immigration policy that emphasizes family ties to current U.S. citizens to one that is instead based on skills, which is sensible and broadly acceptable to the Republican right. What we don’t know is what this would mean in practice. Can we really say that we have a skills-based immigration policy if we also have a guest worker program for less-skilled workers, and if guest worker status can be renewed indefinitely? One assumes that guest workers will form families on U.S. soil and that many of them will be reluctant to leave the country once their guest worker visas run out. And though Rubio discusses immigration policy in broad strokes, he doesn’t really tell us about numbers. Will we admit more immigrants under the approach he favors? Or fewer? Even after abandoning comprehensive immigration reform, Rubio has backed legislation that would dramatically expand the H-1B visa program. What does he think about the evidence that the H-1B program is being gamed by offshoring companies with less than sterling records? These are questions I’d like to see Rubio answer at a future debate.

Other elements of Rubio’s immigration approach are likely to prove even more controversial. For example, he makes it clear that he intends to offer some form of legal status to unauthorized immigrants who already live in the U.S., a position that puts him at odds with many Republicans.* If Rubio intends to stick with this position, as I think he does, he’s going to have to actually make the case for it.

It’s difficult for me to understand the Republicans’ attitudes toward immigration, but it does appear that it is one of the most important issues for their base.

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Another problem Rubio has is his possible past financial indiscretions. Has he continued this kind of dishonesty in Washington? Will Rubio’s “Teflon” work on this issue too?

The Miami Herald via Raw Story: New info raises more questions: Did Marco Rubio use his GOP credit card to subsidize his life?

For five years, Marco Rubio has tried to put behind him the controversy of his spending on a Republican Party of Florida credit card, taking the unusual step over the weekend of making public nearly two years of American Express statements to show how he spent the party’s money.

In some ways, however, the statements, which he previously refused to make public, raise more questions about how Rubio used the card, rather than laying them to rest.

Some big-ticket expenses he rang up on the card — $1,625 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, $527 for food and drinks at Disney, $953 for a meal at Silver Slipper, the Tallahassee steakhouse — are the kind of eye-catching charges expected for someone doing party business.

But a slew of small charges at gas stations and for cheap meals — at a time when Rubio was struggling with his personal finances — suggest Rubio made the most of the ample leeway and little oversight party leaders gave employees and lawmakers to spend the party’s cash.

The Florida GOP issued corporate cards, intended for business use, during flush years a decade ago. A spending scandal threw the party into crisis five years later, around 2010, when some of the AmEx statements — including Rubio’s from 2007-08 — were made public. Rubio’s presidential campaign released the remaining two years of statements from 2005-06 on Saturday to show Rubio had repaid the party when he misused the card for personal charges.

An analysis by the Herald/Times of the new statements, however, found Rubio spent freely on the sort of items that are difficult to prove — or disprove — as party business expenses.

There’s much more at the link, and it makes Rubio look like a petty crook. Is there more to this story?

Although I see Rubio as a lightweight, it looks like the “very important people” see him as their best shot to get a Republican in the White House. I think he’s scary because he comes across as so sweet and innocent.

What do you think? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.