Friday Drumpster Fire Reads

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I have the task of once again introducing the politics of the day as less of a wonky conversation over policy than to report on how disturbingly unfit this president* is for office. He’s demonstrated that he’s a racist, xenophobe and misogynist over and over. Senator Dick Durbin is witness to yet another example of his virulent racism.

There are several germane questions in this discussion about immigration.  The first is simple. Why would any one from Norway want to immigrate here?  Back in 2014, I wrote “Heaven has Fjords” for this blog. Norway is probably the best country to live in for any one that’s not a greedy bastard, fascinated with the US, some one sent you here to work, or you’re just plain nuts.. It has 100% literacy and the world’s second best per capital GDP per capita which is considered the best measure of standard of living.

Without a doubt, the best country to live in the world these days going strictly by the statistics (and not the weather) is Norway.  Take a look at the CIA fact book for all the good stuff on Norway then take a look at  the United States.  Norway has bested the USA in standard of living for quite some time.  The United States keeps dropping on all lists and just in GDP per capita is now sitting at number 10.  Norway is ranked first on the Human Development index of 177 countries, so essentially they are number one country for living the good life.  It is second, only to Luxembourg, for GDP per capita.

Today’s New York Times covers the little country that can and its stellar economic performance in today’s global economic crisis.    A lot of credit is goes to Norway’s socialist finance minister Kristin Halvorsen.  She’s in charge of Norway’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund that has been steadily buying stocks since March and is used to build a decent standard of living for every one in that country.  Norway likes its government and its government works well. The Times article contrasts the economics of the U.S. and Norway and the U.S. comes up way short.

But that’s just the second part of the bigger question. Why do we have an obviously racist, white supremacist president who wants to close the gates of the US to what he calls “shithole” countries that not so coincidentally are not shitholes and mostly have nonwhite majorities?  First, he’s completely unaware of our nation’s historical ties to Haiti which has been long standing and positive.  Second, he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to most of Africa and places that he’s never even been.  His comments are beyond disturbing.  They hateful, bigoted, racist, and wrong.  They do not reflect the history or stated values of this country.

President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on Thursday’s meeting told NBC News.

Trump’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the nations referred to by Trump also included El Salvador.

The U.N. human rights office said the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “racist,” while Haiti’s foreign minister summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Robin Diallo for clarification.

Two sources briefed on the conversation say that during the portion of the conversation about Haiti — which came at the top of the exchange that led to the “shithole” comment — the president questioned why Haitians should be given specific consideration.

“Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” he said, according to sources. Someone else in the room responded: “Because if you do, it will be obvious why.”

Trump denies saying this and his KKKRonies are saying it was an awkward way of saying we need more skilled immigrants but Senator Dick Durbin is on the record as having heard that and more.  And, I have to go back to more dancing goddess gifs to stomach this necessary conversation.

Donald Trump appeared to deny on Friday that he used the phrase “shithole countries” to describe Central American and African nations during talks with US lawmakers the day before. But one of the senators present contradicted Trump and called the remarks he had heard “hateful, vile and racist”.

But senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat was in the meeting, contradicted him in to local Chicago press on Friday morning. He said the president “in the course of his comments said things which were hateful, vile and racist”.

“He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said.

On Thursday, Trump reportedly grew angry during a meeting about protections for immigrants from several countries, and asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

“Why do we need more Haitians?” he reportedly added. “Take them out.” He also reportedly suggested the US bring in more people from Norway.

Early on Friday, he denied the derogatory language. “The language used by me at the Daca meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” he tweeted, using an acronym for a program to protect young undocumented immigrants. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for Daca!”

He later added: “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and the Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said. “I’ve seen the comments in the press and I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”

The fallout should be swift and severe from this.  So far, we’ve seen very little coming from the Republican side but the US Ambassador to Panama just resigned.  Will this be a trend?

US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve President Donald Trump.

“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” Mr Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Mr Feeley’s departure, saying that he “has informed the White House, the Department of State, and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons, as of March 9 of this year.”

How could any moral person serve this president* and our country in any manner other than to seek his removal from office?

What is really strange are these reports coming in about Trump’s own businesses including the ones he spends more time at than in the oval office.

A few minutes after the Haiti comment, the topic turned to immigration from African nations, prompting Trump to ask, “Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?”

The Washington Post broke the news of Trump’s remarks Thursday afternoon, and the condemnation was swift and scathing.

But setting aside Trump’s vulgar language, the president was essentially asking questions.

Luckily for Trump, the answer to one of them — namely, why America “needs more Haitians” — lies right outside the president’s front door.

That’s because The Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump’s mansion-cum-golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly hires more of its seasonal foreign workers from Haiti than it does from nearly any other country.

Those Haitians come to the United States to work for Trump on H-2B visas, temporary work permits issued by the Department of Labor to employers who can’t find enough American workers to fill their need for low-skilled, seasonal labor.

At Mar-a-Lago, the season runs from November to April, when sunny Palm Beach is a mecca for wealthy Northerners escaping the cold.

For the 2017-18 season, the club applied for and received 70 H-2B visas. The foreign workers serve as cooks, housekeepers and servers, paid between $10 and $13 an hour, according to filings Mar-a-Lago submitted to the DOL.

In other words, Trump is an American who literally petitioned the government for “more Haitians.”

Trump’s denial was, of course, tweeted early today.

In the wake of a firestorm sparked by President Donald Trump‘s Thursday comments slamming immigrants from ‘s—hole’ countries, the president weighed in on Twitter today, appearing to defend the “tough” language he used at an Oval Office meeting.

But he also wrote “this was not the language used,” an apparent denial, although it was unclear to what language he was referring.

“The language used by me at the DACAmeeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump tweeted today of Thursday’s meeting about a proposed bipartisan immigration plan.

Trump grew frustrated that the proposal would scale back the visa lottery program, but not eliminate it, asking those in the room why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other “s—hole countries” coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion.

Meanwhile, Kremlin KKKaligula did an interview with the WSJ that continues to show he knows nothing about anything and continues to be obsessed with Obama and Clinton.

… TOLD THE WALL STREET JOURNAL that Mexico would pay for the wall through NAFTA. Direct quote, from an interview with the Journal: “They can pay for it through … they can pay for it indirectly through Nafta. OK? You know, we make a good deal on Nafta, say I’m going to take a small percentage of that money and it’s going to go toward the wall. Guess what? Mexico’s paying.

“Now Mexico may not want to make the Nafta deal and which is OK, then I’ll terminate Nafta … which I think would be frankly a positive for our country. I don’t think it’s a positive for Mexico, I don’t think it’s a positive for the world. But it’s a positive for our country because I’d make a much better deal. There is no deal that I can make on Nafta that’s as good as if I terminate Nafta and make a new deal. OK? But I feel that we have a chance of making a reasonable deal, the way it is now.”

… AND TOLD THE WSJ THAT he thought he “probably” had a “very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.” Asked if he ever spoke to the North Korean leader, Trump said “I don’t want to comment on it — I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t.” He added: “[Y]ou see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.” http://on.wsj.com/2ASnP32… The full transcript http://on.wsj.com/2D3CYod

WHY THIS ALL MATTERS — NEXT WEEK, Republicans will be trying to keep government open, squeeze through what will be a massively controversial immigration bill and boost government spending by nearly $100 billion. NONE OF THIS will be possible if Trump expresses a shred of doubt on the deals Congress is trying to cut. He has a habit of taking cues from the conservative Freedom Caucus. They are sure to express some level of opposition to this triad of bills. Trump’s itchy trigger finger could give Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell serious heartache next week.

— A BITE YOU MUST READ, from the WSJ interview: “I went to the Wharton School of Finance, did well. I went out, I—I started in Brooklyn, in a Brooklyn office with my father, I became one of the most successful real-estate developers, one of the most successful business people. I created maybe the greatest brand.

“I then go into, in addition to that, part-time, like five percent a week, I open up a television show. As you know, the Apprentice on many evenings was the number one show on all of television, a tremendous success. It went on for 12 years, a tremendous success. They wanted to sign me for another three years and I said, no, I can’t do that. That’s one of the reasons NBC hates me so much. NBC hates me so much they wanted—they were desperate to sign me for—for three more years. …

“I was always the best athlete, people don’t know that. But I was successful at everything I ever did and then I run for president, first time—first time, not three times, not six times. I ran for president first time and lo and behold, I win. And then people say oh, is he a smart person? I’m smarter than all of them put together, but they can’t admit it. They had a bad year.”

COME ON!: He’s president! Who cares about his athletic prowess or his college education! IMAGINE THE REACTION… On the right if Barack Obama constantly talked about how he went to Columbia and Harvard Law School, and bragged about his jump shot.

Another correction for the record: “TRUMP’S ‘SHITHOLE’ COUNTRIES ARE WORTH $46.6 BILLION IN TRADE TO AMERICA”.

During a bipartisan meeting on immigration reform Thursday President Donald Trump fumed about the U.S. accepting immigrants from “shithole” countries. Yet the countries—and indeed continents—that angered him are worth billions in trade to America.

When lawmakers brought up protecting immigration from Africa, and the countries of Haiti and El Salvador as part of a reform deal, Trump asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” several sources briefed on the meeting told The Washington Post and other media.

In 2015 the U.S. engaged in $37 billion worth of two-way trade in goods with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which make up most of the continent, according to numbers from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

I am going to turn this over to you now. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  How long will this nightmare continue?

Music for Dancing Goddesses of the day:

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Tuesday Reads: Heroes and Villains

Good Morning!!

Well, the President gave another speech last night, and it frankly put me in mind of the movie Groundhog Day. I think Obama’s handlers should be told to keep him under wraps until such time as he actually has something to say. I’ve had it with this whole debt ceiling mess, and I’m not going to say anymore about it in this post.

Instead, here’s an inspiring story that Dakinikat called my attention to: German tourist rescued teens during Norwegian island massacre.

A German tourist is being hailed as a hero for rescuing at least 20 people from a gunman’s rampage on Utoya island in Norway, according to media reports.

Marcel Gleffe, 32, was with his family Friday at a campground across the water from the island when he heard gunshots, Der Spiegel reported. He and his family looked out from the shore, thinking it might be fireworks, but instead they saw a plume of smoke and a girl swimming frantically in the water and screaming.

Gleffe got into the boat he had rented and set off, Der Spiegel said. He was the first person to reach the island where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down dozens of youngsters at a summer camp….

“You don’t get scared in a situation like that, you just do what it takes. I know the difference between fireworks and gunfire. I knew what it was about, and that it wasn’t just nonsense.”

We need a lot more people like Marcel Gleffe in this world. And what do you know? Via The Hinky Meter, here’s another hero: David Kemp of Beaverton, Oregon.

Kemp knew something was wrong when he was jogging on the Seaside promenade Saturday and saw 6-year-old Hailey’s face as she struggled to get away from Knox when having a Fantastic Race on a group of people.

“She was scared to death – terrified,” Kemp said.

He asked Hailey if she knew the woman and she shook her head in horror.

“I knew there was a problem at that point (and) that this is very, very serious. This child is terrified,” he said.

He knew he had to do something, especially when he heard what sounded like a death threat.

“She kept telling Hailey: ‘I am your queen; I am going to take you to see our king, our Lord. I am taking you with me.'”

Kemp broke the woman’s grip on the little girl, and when the kidnapper tried to get away, he chased her down and held her till police arrived. This isn’t the first time Kemp has been a hero.

In 2004 he rescued a woman who was injured by a hit-and-run driver and left lying in the road. Then he found the car which led to an arrest.

He’s also chased down and caught a shoplifter running from a store and another time he caught a robber who just held up a Hallmark shop.

Finally, there’s Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who was instrumental in ending the four-month-long NFL owners’ lockout. At the press conference announcing the agreement yesterday, Kraft apologized to the fans.

“First of all I’d like, on behalf of both sides, to apologize to the fans that for the last five, six months we’ve been talking about the business of football and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market, but the end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we’ve done that in a way that’s unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive, we’ve improved player safety, and we’ve remembered the players who have played in the past.

During the months of the lockout, Kraft was going back and forth between labor talks and his wife Myra’s bedside. She was ending a long battle with cancer, and was buried on Friday.

It’s difficult to imagine how trying – emotionally, physically, mentally – these last few weeks have been for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as his beloved wife, Myra, was dying of cancer and difficult negotiations dragged on between NFL owners and players over the terms of a new collective-bargaining agreement.

[….]

“He is a man who helped us save football,” Jeff Saturday, the center for the Indianapolis Colts and a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, said Monday after the league’s players joined the owners in approving a new collective-bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done.”

Kraft previously had made it possible for New England to keep its football team when he bought the Patriots in 1994 just as they were about to move to St. Louis. Kraft is proof that people can be wealthy and remain decent human beings.

Randy Vickers, America’s chief of cybersecurity has abruptly resigned without any explanation.

The director of the agency that protects the federal government from cyber attacks has resigned abruptly in the wake of a spate of hacks against government networks.
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) director Randy Vickers resigned his position Friday, effective immediately, according to an e-mail to US-CERT staff sent by Bobbie Stempfley, acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, and obtained by InformationWeek. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson confirmed the email was authentic.

The DHS has not provided a reason for Vickers’ sudden departure and the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to discuss the matter further. Vickers served as director of US-CERT since April 2009; previously, he was deputy director.

Current US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock will serve as interim director until the DHS names a successor for Vickers, according to the email.

Was he forced out? Maybe we’ll learn more about this today.

David Neiwert is an expert on right wing extremist groups–he’s written two books about them–and he had a post up yesterday on Crooks and Liars about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist/mass murderer. It would be hard to choose excerpts from the story–please read the whole thing if you can find time. One important point Neiwert makes is that Breivik is not “crazy,” he’s just a right winger with connections to a group in Norway that is similar to the Tea Party here.

Scott Shane had an excellent article yesterday in the NYT on the connections between Breivik’s sick ideology and a number of American bloggers and media personalities. Of course Dakinikat has been writing about this for the past couple of days also.

The Guardian UK has an in depth article about Breivik, his appearance in court, his threats that “more will die.”

The rightwing extremist who confessed to the mass killings in Norway boasted in court on Monday that there were two more cells from his terror network still at large, prompting an international investigation for collaborators.

After Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty, despite admitting that he had carried out the attacks in Oslo and on Utøya island, officials said it was possible he had not acted alone.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said Breivik had been calm in court and “seemed unaffected by what has happened”, adding that the suspect had told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.

“We can’t quite rule out that someone else was involved. This is partly based on the information that there are two other cells,” Hatlo said.

The prosecutor said he could not discuss whether Breivik had organised the cells or whether he was working alongside them. Police have said they have no other suspects at present.

It also emerged on Monday that Norway’s police security service had been alerted to a suspicious chemical purchase by Breivik in March, but had decided not to investigate further.

Norwegian officials have lowered the number of deaths from the attacks to 76.

At the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg, who wrote about about right wing Christian fundamentalism, discusses Breivik’s hatred of women.

Conservatives worried about the Islamization of Europe often blame feminism for weakening Western societies and opening them up to a Muslim demographic invasion. Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It predicted the demise of “European races too self-absorbed to breed,” leading to the transformation of Europe into Eurabia. “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’” he argued, “feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything.”

This neat rhetorical trick—an attack on feminism coupled with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny—is repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature. Now it’s reached its apogee in mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.

It’s a fascinating article with lots of psychological background on Breivik’s misogyny.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Heaven has Fjords

fjordWhen ever I hear folks rant and rave on the evils of European Social Democracies and how horrid they are, I always ask them to name the country that comes up consistently with the highest literacy rates in the world, lowest infant mortality, and much higher the the USA GDP per capita, and at the same time has  what you would probably call the world’s most complete cradle-to-grave welfare state.  Of course, no one knows the answer because so many folks here have been brainwashed into thinking productivity, budget surpluses, high standards of living, and great education and health care are not possible in socialist states.  Well, they are really wrong.

Without a doubt, the best country to live in the world these days going strictly by the statistics (and not the weather) is Norway.  Take a look at the CIA fact book for all the good stuff on Norway then take a look at  the United States.  Norway has bested the USA in standard of living for quite some time.  The United States keeps dropping on all lists and just in GDP per capita is now sitting at number 10.  Norway is ranked first on the Human Development index of 177 countries, so essentially they are number one country for living the good life.  It is second, only to Luxembourg, for GDP per capita.

Today’s New York Times covers the little country that can and its stellar economic performance in today’s global economic crisis.    A lot of credit is goes to Norway’s socialist finance minister Kristin Halvorsen.  She’s in charge of Norway’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund that has been steadily buying stocks since March and is used to build a decent standard of living for every one in that country.  Norway likes its government and its government works well. The Times article contrasts the economics of the U.S. and Norway and the U.S. comes up way short.

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