Good Morning Sky Dancers!
We’re in full throttle Mardi Gras mode down here and I’m laid up in bed with sinus crud. I’m a second-hander atm who is viewing all the Tu Deaux through the lens of friends. Meanwhile, I sniffle and cough on.
One of the big questions I had back in 2016 is the subject of a Politico feature featuring former diplomat Victoria Nuland. Why didn’t President Obama set off more alarms about the Russian Hacking?
By the summer of 2016, Victoria Nuland’s “Spidey sense” told her something was very wrong.
That spring, Nuland, the top State Department official charged with overseeing U.S. policy toward Russia, was one of those who had “first rung the alarm bell” inside the Obama administration, warning that Russia appeared to be trying to “discredit the democratic process” in the United States as part of a concerted 2016 strategy.
Now, the Russian campaign was turning out to be even more serious than she had imagined. She had known since late 2015 that the Democratic National Committee’s email servers had been hacked; all these months later, the stolen DNC emails were being publicly released by websites known to be Russian conduits right on the eve of the Democratic convention, and the hack would soon be confirmed as a Russian operation by U.S. intelligence agencies.
“That’s when the hairs really went up on the back of our necks,” she recounted in an interview with The Global Politico, her first extensive public comments about what it was like to spend months in the middle of the U.S. government’s halting, frustrating attempts to understand the Russian attack on the U.S. electoral system — and then try to figure out how to respond to it.
While the broad contours of that response are known, hearing it viscerally described by one of those who tried to stop it is bracing. Nuland is now confirming publicly that she pushed Obama to respond more aggressively to the hacking before the election and acknowledging that she and others at the State Department were informed by “sometime in late July” about the inflammatory findings of former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele apparently linking the Russian effort to Republican candidate Donald Trump. Unbeknownst to her, the FBI, also in July 2016, had begun a secret investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the issue of whether the Steele report, paid for by Democrats, helped fuel that investigation is now the subject of heated partisan dispute on Capitol Hill.
It’s an interesting read so go check it out.
It’s clear that the Republican party has become unhinged. There is a Holocaust denier/NAZI running as the sole Republican for a suburban Chicago Congressional Seat.
Arthur Jones — an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite and white supremacist — is poised to become the Republican nominee for an Illinois congressional seat representing parts of Chicago and nearby suburbs.
“Well first of all, I’m running for Congress not the chancellor of Germany. All right. To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket,” Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Indeed, Jones’ website for his latest congressional run includes a section titled “The ‘Holocaust Racket’” where he calls the genocide carried out by the German Nazi regime and collaborators in other nations “the biggest blackest lie in history.”
Jones, 70, a retired insurance agent who lives in suburban Lyons, has unsuccessfully run for elected offices in the Chicago area and Milwaukee since the 1970s.
He ran for Milwaukee mayor in 1976 and 13th Ward alderman on Chicago’s Southwest Side in 1987.
Since the 1990s to 2016, Jones has jumped in the GOP 3rd Congressional District primary seven times, never even close to becoming a viable contender.
The outcome will be different for Jones in the Illinois primary on March 20, 2018.
To Jones’ own amazement, he is the only one on the Republican ballot.
Trump voters have all the appearances and characteristics of a cult. They’ve totally run the traditional party off the rails.
Rarely has a president changed his party as fast and profoundly as Donald J. Trump. Love him or hate him, you can no longer argue his ability to bend an entire party to his will.
In the two and a half years since he announced his candidacy, he has moved the party away from decades of orthodoxy on trade, Russia, deficits and more — and has helped make the law-and-order party skeptical of FBI leadership.
Perhaps the most profound thing Trump has done is show how many movement leaders and Republicans in Congress are out of touch with Republican voters:
- There’s a massive cohort of Republican voters who are socially conservative and culturally reactionary but fiscally liberal, even if they don’t know it.
- The base is very skeptical of trade deals — convinced that ordinary Americans have lost at globalization.
- Huge swaths of Trump Country are dependent on Social Security, Medicaid and other government programs.
While much of the GOP donor class is passionate about issues like criminal justice reform and expanded high-skilled immigration, many GOP voters want the exact opposite:
- The ratio between the number of Republicans who think that way, versus number of conservatives who talk that way on cable TV or at the Capitol, is way out of whack. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were their lonely on-air champions.
- If Trump has tapped into a silent majority, it’s those voters — the opposite of Paul Ryan voters, the opposite of Rubio, the opposite of Jeb.
- The source close to GOP leadership said: “All evidence in the last two years points to the fact that the R base was never as ‘conservative’ on economic policy as we portrayed them during the Obama years.”
What will Trump’s brand of reactionary populism continue to let him get away with?
This, then, is the article we thought we would never write: a frank statement that a certain form of partisanship is now a moral necessity. The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former).
Of course, lots of people vote a straight ticket. Some do so because they are partisan. Others do so because of a particular policy position: Many pro-lifers, for example, will not vote for Democrats, even pro-life Democrats, because they see the Democratic Party as institutionally committed to the slaughter of babies.
We’re proposing something different. We’re suggesting that in today’s situation, people should vote a straight Democratic ticket even if they are not partisan, and despite their policy views. They should vote against Republicans in a spirit that is, if you will, prepartisan and prepolitical. Their attitude should be: The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period. In other words, under certain peculiar and deeply regrettable circumstances, sophisticated, independent-minded voters need to act as if they were dumb-ass partisans.
For us, this represents a counsel of desperation. So allow us to step back and explain what drove us to what we call oppositional partisanship.
In a May 10 press conference, the same day McDermott was asking her staff to make sure one another were “doing OK,” then-Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that the president had “lost confidence in Director Comey” and that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” She stated that the president had “had countless conversations with members from within the FBI” in the course of making his decision to fire Comey. The following day, Sanders stated that she personally had “heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision” and that the president believed “Director Comey was not up to the task…that he wasn’t the right person in the job. [Trump] wanted somebody that could bring credibility back to the FBI.”
Trump himself blasted Comey too, stating in an interview that the former director was “a showboat. He’s a grandstander” and that the FBI “has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that, everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil—less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.” A few days later, the New York Times reported that Trump had told Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office the day after Comey’s firing that Comey was a “nut job.”
Over the next few days, a wealth of evidence emerged to suggest that Trump and Sanders were playing fast and loose with the truth. But we now have the documents to prove that decisively. Their disclosure was not a leak but an authorized action by the FBI, which released to us under the Freedom of Information Act more than 100 pages of leadership communications to staff dealing with the firing. This material tells a dramatic story about the FBI’s reaction to the Comey firing—but it is neither a story of gratitude to the president nor a story of an organization in turmoil relieved by a much-needed leadership transition.
Within a few days of the firing, both current and former FBI officials began pushing back against the White House’s claims. Then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that Comey “enjoyed broad support within the FBI” and that “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”
Yes, that’s me up there in 1999 with Honey and Karma parading in 007: From Barkus with Love. Good grief that was a long time ago!! We were “Bondage” Girls!!! and clearly on the side fighting the Russians!!
Meanwhile, Trump still finds Presidential life to be a combination of spending time at Trump properties on the Tax Payer dime. This weekend it was back to Florida for Super Bowl Party. Then, it’s time spent twitting and elimination shit.
President Donald Trump traded insults with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Monday, a day after Democrats and Republicans said Trump was wrong to assert that a GOP-produced classified memo on FBI surveillance powers cleared him in the Russia investigation.
Trump’s attack on California Rep. Adam Schiff came before a planned meeting of the House intelligence panel Monday, where the committee is expected to consider whether to release a Democratic rebuttal memo. Democrats are seeking to push back on the Republican document, which questions the FBI methods used to apply for a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate.
On Twitter, Trump called Schiff “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” adding that he “must be stopped.”
Schiff quickly shot back: “Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or … really anything else.”
Trump also praised Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Twitter, calling him a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!”
The White House is dismissing an immigration deal brokered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as a non-starter just hours before it is expected to be formally introduced in the Senate.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are slated to introduce a bill Monday that would grant eventual citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have been in the country since 2013 and came to the US as children, but it does not address all of the President’s stated immigration priorities, like ending family-based immigration categories — which Republicans call “chain migration” — or ending the diversity visa program
It also would not immediately authorize the $30 billion that Trump is seeking to build the border wall, instead greenlighting a study of border security needs. The bill would also seek to address the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the US by increasing the number of resources for the immigration courts, where cases can take years to finish.
The bill is a companion to a piece of House legislation that has 54 co-sponsors split evenly by party.
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
An update on a story from New Orleans that captured many hearts prior to the end of the Football Season.
Oh, and this about sums up my thoughts about the latest pannem et circenses event. Well, that and WTF did Justin Timberlake think he was doing with Prince. White people! Wake the fuck up! Black people, black culture, black history, and black labor is not yours to co-op!!!
What’s on your reading and blogging list?
This is an open thread! I’ll check in as the sniffling allows!
It has often been claimed that humans learn language using brain components that are specifically dedicated to this purpose. Now, new evidence strongly suggests that language is in fact learned in brain systems that are also used for many other purposes and even pre-existed humans.
Scientists studying brain scans of people who were asked to come up with inventive uses for everyday objects found a specific pattern of connectivity that correlated with the most creative responses. Researchers were then able to use that pattern to predict how creative other people’s responses would be based on their connections in this network.
It may sound like sci-fi, but mind reading equipment are much closer to become a reality than most people can imagine. Researchers used a magnetic resonance machine to read participants’ minds and find out what song they were listening to. The study contributes to improve the technique and pave the way to new research on reconstruction of auditory imagination, inner speech and to enhance brain-computer interfaces for communication with locked-in syndrome patients.