Monday Reads: The End is Nearing!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I believe the end of our national nightmare may be coming to an end.  Yes, part of me really wants this to happen badly because I’m extremely tired of reading things like that useless wall plowing through a National Butterfly refuge and that children are dying in ICE custody because his base is a bunch of racist xenophobes and all  plus the rest of the horrid things he’s been up to. But, I’m old and I’ve been through this before.  Nixon resigned right after I graduated High School.  I’m seeing many of the same signs that his days may be numbered.  Oh, yes, the pictures are from our National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas (Hildago County along the Rio Grande).

Timothy O’Brien–writing for Bloomberg–explains how and why KKKremlin Caligula is in a ‘legal vise’.  There is not one thing that the Trump Family crime syndicate owns or has been involved in that’s not under investigation by some component of our Justice System.

As President Donald Trump and his lawyers turn toward the new year, they’ll have to contend with a legal narrative that’s taken fuller shape through a flurry of court filings and news reports that began landing about three weeks ago and extended through Friday afternoon: Members of Trump’s presidential campaign – and possibly “Individual 1” himself – may have orchestrated a number of criminal conspiracies that took root before and during the 2016 presidential campaign, continued after Trump won the election, and have tainted the White House’s policies and torn at its operations ever since.

The breadth of investigations is so sweeping – as many on social media and reporters with the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg News have already noted – that few of the worlds Trump inhabits have escaped prosecutors’ attention. The Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, the Trump family, the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump inauguration, and the Trump White House are all being probed for wrongdoing.

The Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia to sabotage and tilt the 2016 election, a probe spearheaded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pulls many strands of the investigations together. Trumplandia’s intersection with Russia may have started with business propositions more than a decade ago (such as the Trump SoHo hotel and condominium), and included more recent undertakings like a project in Moscow, before evolving into a political partnership during the 2016 campaign after Trump’s presidential prospects brightened.

A senate report details the incredibly complex and twisted the interference of Russian in the 2016.  The presidential election was so tight in key electoral states that it’s very difficult to not see that the Trump Presidency is not a legitimate one.  I can only imagine what the final Mueller report will elucidate.

 

 

Seriously, did he legitimately achieve the office?  This is by Marc Fisher writing for WAPO.  Between the Russian interference and the payoffs and suppression of affairs, who can say?

As if the country didn’t have enough to be divided about, now the forces aligned for and against President Trump are battling over whether his presidency is legitimate.

The evidence emerging in recent days and months of crimes committed to help Trump win the presidency is fueling arguments from Democrats and other Trump critics that the man in the Oval Office got the job through nefarious means. Even without proof that those crimes swayed votes, the critics say Trump has no moral hold on the office.

In the past week, the legitimacy debate has swelled with each new court filing in cases stemming from the investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign.

First came the statement by federal prosecutors in New York that Trump attorney Michael ­Cohen “sought to influence the election from the shadows” by arranging to pay hush money to women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump. Then, on Tuesday, executives at the National Enquirer’s parent company admitted paying hush money to prevent news of the candidate’s alleged infidelities “from influencing the election.”

In Congress, in the media and among activists, criticism of Trump is increasingly taking the form of arguments that he won office fraudulently — especially as the hush-money revelations have landed atop allegations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team that Russian agents engaged in a criminal scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

“People don’t actually really consider Trump a legitimate president,” former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said on MSNBC last month. “He was obviously elected and all this business, but he does not represent American values.”

Back to the Senate report on Russian Interference via WAPO.  It’s pretty clear why Trump feels illegitimate and seeks to prove his election every time he speaks.

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said whether it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly this week.

The research — by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details of how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for interfering in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found.

The data sets used by the researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google and covered several years up to mid-2017, when the social media companies cracked down on the known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately provided to House Intelligence Committee members, contains no information on more recent political moments, such as November’s midterm elections.

“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”

It appears they specifically targeted Black voters.  This is from NBC News’ Ken Delianian

Two separate reports on the operation were prepared for senators, both of which were obtained by NBC News. Both sets of researchers found, as Mueller did, that the Internet Research Agency set out in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in part by inflaming right-wing conspiracy theories and seeking to engender distrust among — and suppress the vote of — left-leaning groups, including African-Americans.

The Russians set up 30 Facebook pages targeting black Americans, the researchers found, and 10 YouTube channels that posted 571 videos related to police violence against African-Americans. YouTube, which is part of Alphabet, the holding company for Google, was not correct when it said in a statement last year that Russian content did not target a segment of U.S. society, the researchers concluded.

The Russians also set up hotlines that encourage people to discuss sexual or other personal problems the researchers found, raising the possibility they could use the information later to blackmail people. Through deceit, the Internet Research Agency recruited many Americans to take various political actions, the researchers found.

The post that drew the most attention featuring Trump emerged on Jan. 23, 2017, after his inauguration — a conspiracy theory asserting that President Barack Obama had refused to ban Sharia Law and encouraging President Trump to take action. It was shared 312,632 times from a page created by Russian propagandists.

The top post featuring Clinton came a month before the election, the researchers found — a soup of conspiracy theories alleging that she would win because of voter fraud and alluding to an armed uprising. It received 102,253 engagements, which can be anything from likes and shares to comments.

“This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions,” said Senate Committee on Intelligence chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Frankly, Senator Burr, the same could be said about the Republican Party. This is why I agree with Melissa at Shakesville

From Melissa:

What’s crucial to understand about this dynamic is that none of it would have been possible without decades of groundwork laid by the Republican Party.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, critically undermined the sort of corporate regulation that would have prevented the monopolies and the vacuum of oversight in which social media giants proliferated, with zero accountability to the populations they exploited in reckless cash grabs.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, ruthlessly fomented divisions among the U.S. populace, which created fissures into which any bad actor could shove their own crowbar to create massive breaks.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, abandoned their responsibility of good governance, willing instead to compromise the security of the nation — and ultimately its sovereignty — in order to win.

We’re just beginning to see the connections between the NRA, Russian Money, the Republicans, and elections. What other Republicans will be found with Russian money and connections besides Dana Rohrbacher?  A new poll suggests no one believes Trump now. When will that extend to the rest of his cronies?  From NBC News: Poll: 62 percent say Trump isn’t telling the truth in Russia probe. More Americans want Democrats — not Trump — in charge of setting policy, a new national NBC News/WSJ poll finds.

Six in 10 Americans say President Donald Trump has been untruthful about the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, while half of the country says the investigation has given them doubts about Trump’s presidency, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey, conducted a month after the results of November’s midterm elections, also finds more Americans want congressional Democrats — rather than Trump or congressional Republicans — to take the lead role in setting policy for the country.

And just 10 percent of respondents say that the president has gotten the message for a change in direction from the midterms — when the GOP lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives but kept its majority in the U.S. Senate — and that he’s making the necessary adjustments.

Polls like these are likely to stick the more news we get from all these investigations.  How long can the party ignore them?  The Plum line argues that Trump’s been weakened.

Stephen Miller, the Trump kingdom’s Immigration Iago, wants you to believe that his boss retains great leverage in the ongoing government shutdown fight — so much so that he will, repeat will, get his great border wall. Miller, a top White House adviser, said Sunday that President Trump will “do whatever is necessary” to force Democrats to cough up the $5 billion he wants for the wall and will “absolutely” shut down the government to get it.

In reality, it’s not even clear that Trump has sufficient Republican support to get his wall money out of Congress. The New York Times now reports that Republicans aren’t even sure that this funding would pass the House, because many Republicans who were defeated in the midterms might not bother showing up to vote for it.

Wait, this cannot be! Miller, after all, spent much of his “Face the Nation” appearanceexcoriating Democrats over the wall. Democrats have instead offered far less in border security funding, with restrictions against spending it for that purpose. Miller suggested Democrats have the weaker position, claiming they must “choose to fight for America’s working class, or to promote illegal immigration.”

Wow, what a powerful message! That must be the same message that carried Trump and House Republicans to a great midterms victory! Oh wait, the opposite happened. This has gone down the memory hole, but last summer, Miller vowed that precisely that same contrast on immigration would prove potent for Republicans. They ran the most virulently xenophobic nationalist campaign in memory — and lost the House by the largest raw-vote margin in midterm elections history.

The meta-message that Miller hoped to convey is that Trump retains formidable strength in the shutdown battle over the wall, but the real story right now is that Trump is weakened. He lacks leverage in the shutdown fight, and it’s plausible that he’s losing influence over congressional Republicans.

So, how far can the party take the policy of dead and imprisoned immigrant children with tattoed numbers waiting to seek legal refuge and ravaged butterfly sanctuaries?  My guess is that everything but the tweets go dark in the six week hold up at Mar a Lago.   The NJ one is under investigation by the state so it seems he’s got few options to hide out these days.  He’ll have sixteen days to stew and discuss what to do with all the other out of touch greedos.

Meanwhile, I just hope we clear him out before he can do any more damage.  But, then there’s Pence …

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?