Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. I don’t think this thread will run dry for a long time.


(Previous thread)


  1. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    I have just finished rereading (for the umpteenth time) the Harry Potter books. And reading accounts of Devos’s actions and statements, such as:

    “The states set up the rules,” she said. “I believe states continue to have flexibility in putting together programs.”

    from Lynna @495, reminds me of Delores Umbridge. I wonder if we can get her to start wearing a baggy cardigan and a black bow on the top of her head?

    From SC @498:

    He isn’t convinced the Russians were behind it, Mr. Nevins said, but even if they were, it doesn’t matter to him because the agenda of the hackers seemed to match his own.
    “If your interests align,” he said, “never shut any doors in politics.”

    These people have no morals at all.


    This page.

    Whoops. There is no next page yet. But now there is.

  2. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Oh, and FIRST!!!!!

    (I’ve never done that before. Here or anywhere else. Honest.)

  3. says

    Josh Marshall wrote about Trump’s embarrassing speech to NATO members.

    We just saw this embarrassing spectacle of President Trump not stating an unequivocal commitment to honoring Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which requires all member state to defend another member state under attack. But Trump also returned to this issue of NATO members being behind on their payments and owing the United States huge sums of money. This is simply false. And it is a falsehood in the service of President Trump’s still not fully explained desire to undermine NATO.

    There are two funding issues with NATO. A few years ago, NATO decided to require all member states to spend 2% of GDP on defense spending. The great majority of member states currently spend less than 2%. The ones who do meet that number are the US and a handful of states mainly on NATO’s eastern periphery. But they have until 2024 to reach that goal. So even on the terms of the agreement itself, they’re not behind.

    But the key point is that these are not payments owed to the US. They are spending on each country’s own military. There are lots of reasons for that, not least of which is keeping the alliance a real alliance and not one superpower military along with other armies which are either so small or have such low readiness that they don’t add to the force the US can bring to bear on its own. […]

    Some NATO member states are down at 1%. The US is over 3.6%. But that’s not because we’re picking up the slack for major European powers. It is because the US has made a longstanding strategic decision to be the dominant, indeed, overwhelmingly dominant military power literally everywhere in the world.

    In any case, these are pretty piddling amounts in the big picture: the US direct cash contribution to NATO is 2 or 3 hundred million dollars a year. Trump himself should hit that number with Mar-a-Lago visits soon.

    The idea that Europe is somehow behind on its payments is simply false, whether you’re talking about the 2% goal or the NATO budget contributions. The President got up there at a ceremony for the opening of the new NATO headquarters and let off with an aggressive barrage of straight up lies.

  4. says

    Another slimy addition to Trump’s swamp:

    [… Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst and anti-Muslim activist, has been named as an “adviser” to the Department of Homeland Security’s policy office, after serving on President Trump’s transition team for the department. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Gorka extensively criticized DHS for teaching employees — wrongly, in her view — that Islam is a religion of peace.

    Gorka’s appointment is listed in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the watchdog group American Oversight. Her title, as of April 7, is listed as adviser to the department’s office of policy. The documents also list a previous “temporary transitional” appointment in the chief of staff’s office, with a pay grade listed as GS-15, the highest standard pay for a federal civil servant, indicating a salary of at least $8,600 a month. […]

    The Intercept link.

  5. says

    The FBI isn’t sharing the Comey memos with congress, citing Mueller’s investigation (as I noted in the previous iteration, Matthew Miller has suggested that the less sharing the more serious the obstruction investigation appears).

    Also, the Senate Intel Cmte. has granted Burr and Warner full subpoena powers.

  6. blf says

    Gianforte is reported to have won with c.51%, Greg Gianforte wins Montana race for Congress after ‘body-slamming’ reporter:

    The Associated Press called it after 522 of 681 precincts — or 77% — reported. At that point Gianforte had 163,539 votes, or 51% of the vote, compared with challenger Rob Quist’s 140,594 votes, or 44%.
    The electoral impact of Gianforte’s outburst — the audio of which was quickly turned into a radio advertisement for Quist — was blunted by the large proportion of early voters in the state. More than 250,000 vote-by-mail ballots had been cast by Wednesday evening.

  7. blf says

    Some nice snarks in this analysis (which is worth reading in full), Trump at G7: president’s last world tour stop brings uncertainty and risk:

    The risk is that — on a range of agenda items — Trump finds himself in the G1. His six colleagues, with varying degrees of emphasis, are likely to want to change his instincts on climate change, protectionism, the treatment of refugees and novel ideas like a web tax on the giant technology companies. Japan will be seeking a tougher strategy on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

    According to diplomats, the leaders have been exchanging views on how best to engage Trump, or locate the true figures of influence in the White House.

    One diplomat said: “We need to show a degree of humility. In foreign policy terms, the second half of Trump’s 100 days were immeasurably better than the first half, recognisably Republican. The trick is to make sure he does not feel cornered, and if you have an idea, make him feel it is his idea, and in America’s interest. At the same time, we need to get some commitments from him.”


    I have no idea why these supposedly experienced people think a commitment from hair furor is anything other than a toxic hot air tornado. For instance, his contracts with various subcontractors are commitments, yet he is widely known to break them. Not rarely, but frequently. Routinely, even.

  8. KG says

    According to latest polls, the Tory lead over Labour in the UK general election, while still clear, has narrowed further – down to 8% and 5% in the most recent two. 5% is less than the gap at the 2015 election, although both parties are polling above their vote-share then, due to the apparent collapse of the UKIP vote. It’s still pretty unlikely the Tories won’t get an absolute majority of seats, owing to our grossly undemocratic electoral system – but May called the election because she thought she’d get a landslide, which would give her the political capital to push through anything she wants, both on Brexit and more widely. Also, if Labour end up with a significantly larger share of the vote than last time, Corbyn will probably be able to hang on to the leadership – at least until the party conference in September, when a change in the rules for electing the leadership may be made which would make it easier for a leftist to get sufficient backing from MPs and MEPs to reach the final stage where all members vote. I’m pretty sure he won’t want to hang on until the next general election is due in 2022, when he would be 73, but he’ll want to choose his time to go, to help both the party as a whole, and the left within it.

  9. blf says

    As previously noted (@496(previous page) and other comments), hair furor’s second Muslim ban continues to be blocked. Teh dalekocracy is not giving up, Trump travel ban: White House appealing to supreme court after block upheld:

    Jeff Sessions confirmed appeal after a federal court upheld ruling that attempts to curb immigration from Muslim majority countries could violate constitution
    The Virginia-based fourth circuit of appeals on Thursday upheld a March ruling from a Maryland district court, which found grounds that the ban violated the equal protection clause of the US constitution. In a rare move, the court had granted a full hearing earlier in the month, meaning 13 judges had heard arguments. The ruling was a 10–3 majority.

    I find it worrisome that any of the judges either thought the Muslim ban was legal, or that there was a problem with the lower court’s ruling. For example, from later in the article:

    In a dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Niemeyer argued that campaign statements were short-hand for larger ideas and so should not be used to assess the executive order’s intent. Because of their nature, campaign statements are unbounded resources by which to find intent of various kinds, Niemeyer wrote.

    The fourth circuit’s chief judge, Roger Gregory, said of those same statements, when “viewed from the standpoint of the reasonable observer, creates a compelling case that EO-2’s primary purpose is religious.” Indeed, to which I will add, teh trum-prat was unusually consistent about banning Muslims. He said it repeatedly, he said it consistently(?), and such a ban was also repeatedly referred to after the election.

    Back to the article:

    The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the president’s efforts to strengthen this country’s national security, Sessions said, confirming the department will appeal to the supreme court.

    The timing of the decision will prove awkward for the Trump administration, as the supreme court will finish its term in late June, meaning a full appeal will likely not be heard for another four months, barring a specially arranged session. “It is too late for the court to hear a full-dress appeal before the term ends,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “That means the court might not hear the appeal until it returns for the new term in October.”

    That presupposes the court will agree to hear the attempted appeal.

  10. blf says

    Ukip, the British nazi party, just released their election manifeastohate, Ban burqas to promote vitamin D and other odd ideas in Ukip’s manifesto:

    Ukip has launched its election manifesto, and it certainly has some eye-catching bits. Here are nine of the strangest
    ● Encouraging higher vitamin D intake by banning the niqab and the burqa in public places
     The Ukip manifesto gives several reasons why it would like to see face-coverings banned. One is that women wearing them are deprived of vitamin D.
    […] Ukip has its science slightly muddled here — humans don’t intake vitamin D from sunlight. Sunlight causes the body to make it.

    ● A beekeeper brazenly flaunting his face-covering
     When Ukip first announced its ban on face-coverings it was asked if it would apply to beekeepers, and there, on page 52 of the manifesto, is a picture of one — just 15 pages after the burqa ban section.
     [Ukip fruitcake Suzanne] Evans has helpfully clarified on Twitter that this man wouldn’t be covered by the ban. Because you can see his face.

    ● Is there a basis for climate change science?
    It’s a shame Ukip didn’t get its science right with regards to vitamin D, as it makes a rather bold claim about the 2008 Climate Change Act. On a page adorned with the face of Roger Helmer MEP, Ukip promises to repeal the act because it has no basis in science.
     Who would you trust on the science here? The vast majority of the world’s peer-reviewed scientists? Or Roger Helmer MEP?

    I’ve never(?) head of this eejit before, but apparently he’s a übernutter, Meet Ukip’s seal-hating, gay-baiting, victim-blaming Newark candidate, Roger Helmer (“He doesn’t think homophobia exists, blames rape victims, and seems to be sexually confused about Earl Grey tea”).

    ● A return to fishing on mainland Europe
     One of Ukip’s Brexit tests is that the UK should have exclusive right to fish in a 200-mile zone around the British coast, which would, we calculate, mean we could potentially take up a monopoly on fish in Amsterdam’s canals. […]
     While we are on the subject of fish, Ukip promises to remove VAT on fish and chips in its manifesto.


    ● We are going to give the world a ship called NOSH
     Ukip is proposing to build and equip a naval hospital that wouldn’t carry weapons, but could instead be used to confirm Britain’s status as a force for good in the world. Which all sounds great, except they have called it “a Naval Ocean-going Surgical Hospital”, or NOSH for short.
     Sending a ship around the world named after a slang term for oral sex sends a message to the world, that’s for sure.


  11. blf says

    That idiotic DHS immigrants = crime database (Victim Information Notification Exchange (Vine)) is even more idiotic, Trump immigration database exposes crime victims’ personal info, lawyers say:

    Database tracking status of migrants who committed crimes also includes those who are crime victims, putting them at risk of further violence and violating laws

    A new US immigration database has exposed the personal information of crime victims, putting them at risk of further violence and violating federal laws designed to conceal the identities of abuse survivors, according to a coalition of attorneys.

    The online database — recently unveiled as part of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and accessible to the general public — includes immigrant victims who have sought federal protections as survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault, activists said.

    [… C]ivil rights campaigners and attorneys have discovered that the database also includes immigrants who are crime victims themselves and are supposed to be shielded from public disclosures for safety reasons.

    That means immigrants who have applied for relief under the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] and other similar programs have had their private information exposed because they are undocumented. Attorneys fear that the database will allow abusers and traffickers to track the locations of their victims, interfere with their cases and inflict further violence.

    “It has certainly put a very powerful tool in the hands of abusers,” said Archi Pyati, chief of policy and programs at Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants and refugees fleeing violence. “Federal law says you’re not allowed to do this.”

    Critics said this kind of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) searchable database broadly exposing victims is unprecedented and is the latest example of the Trump administration endangering the most vulnerable immigrants under the guise of public safety. […]

    Tahirih wrote to DHS on Thursday urging the agency to remove protected victims of violence from Vine or otherwise take down the entire database. Tahirih noted that the website includes detained immigrants who have applied for VAWA protection, U visas and T visas, which are programs that are supposed to allow victims of trafficking, violence and other crimes to safely report the abuse they faced and gain relief from deportation.

    Under federal law, DHS is barred from disclosing any information about those applicants, advocates noted. But the Vine database allegedly allows members of the public to look up these immigrants’ personal information, including the facility where they are being held, the status of the case and the reason for the detention. Members of the public can also sign up for alerts so they are notified when an immigrant’s status changes.


    Another NWIRP [Northwest Immigrant Rights Project] client in the database was a confidential informant for law enforcement in the US and faces risks because of his cooperation. That individual remained in the database at the end of the day [Thursday].

    Both clients are in DHS custody because they are undocumented, said [NWIRP directing attorney] Tim Warden-Hertz, who provided the Guardian with redacted records to back his claims.


    Tahirih said it first raised the issue to DHS two weeks ago, but no changes were made, prompting the Thursday letter.

    After its launch, the DHS database also mistakenly included children, some as young as a few months, the Los Angeles Times reported in April.


    “We’re really concerned in the context of human trafficking,” said Grace Huang, policy director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. [Referring to the slavers] “They’ll know where to pick them up.”

    Warden-Hertz said that some defendants whose cases are shielded from the public in immigration court, to protect their safety, are now being exposed by a different entity of the federal government — the Vine database.


  12. blf says

    In @18 I somehow lost the link to the LA Times article referenced by the Grauniad, Babies and children listed in Homeland Security’s immigrant database of alleged criminals (27-April (caution, There seems to be an autoplay video at the LA Times link as well!)).

    In addition to children and babies, at that time, “The database also included unaccompanied minors — children who came to the United States without their parents — who are currently held in group homes.”

    Also, the article noted that, even back then (admittedly only a month ago):

    [After fixing the children problem, c]oncerns remained about the amount of private information still easily available to the public, including potential asylum applicants whose identities are supposed to be confidential under DHS policy.


    [A trial search by the LA Times] reveal the detention facility the immigrant is housed in, custody status, age, country of birth, date of birth, race, gender and aliases. There doesn’t appear to be any way to distinguish between someone who may have perpetrated a crime beyond being in the country illegally.

    Attorneys representing immigrants expressed anger and worry over the release of names that were supposed to be protected.


    [One reason t]he names of asylum seekers are […] kept secret to protect them from retaliation in the event that asylum is denied and they are sent back home.


    A DHS spokesperson said the database does not violate privacy policies because it doesn’t identify anybody as an asylum applicant.


    The article ends with this related story:

    This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has erred in releasing information aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

    Under Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement began publishing reports on the cities and other jurisdictions that were releasing immigrants from jail or after arrest, flouting requests to hold certain immigrants for transfer to federal detention.

    But the first few reports were plagued by errors. In some cases, ICE mixed up names, confusing Franklin counties in Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania. In other cases, the detainees had already been picked up by ICE, or had never been released in the first place.

    Earlier this month, ICE suspended publication of the reports.

  13. Saad says

    blf, #13

    Gianforte is reported to have won with c.51%, Greg Gianforte wins Montana race for Congress after ‘body-slamming’ reporter

    America. What will it take for people to wake the fuck up?

    Don’t think 2018 is going to be some easy election.

  14. says

    Der Spiegel editorial – “It’s Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump”:

    Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

    He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

    Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other – and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

    The first is Trump’s resignation, which won’t happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president’s proven obstruction of justice, but won’t happen because of the Republicans’ thirst for power, which they won’t willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn’t particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn’t directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary – and possible….

    (This was first published almost a week ago. Intervening events haven’t softened Brinkbäumer’s views.)

  15. says

    Thank you, New York Times:

    The New York Times reviewed videos and photos to track the actions of 24 men, including armed members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail, who attacked protesters in Washington last week. Many of the protesters were American citizens.

    The men kicked people lying on the ground and put a woman in a chokehold just a mile from the White House. They outnumbered the protesters nearly two to one.

    The State Department has condemned the episode, and some American lawmakers have called for the men to be prosecuted. But none have been charged with a crime. Here’s what video of the main actors shows about the identities of the men and the roles they played in the clash….

  16. says

    Here’s the WaPo article about Kushner – “Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation”:

    Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

    FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.

    In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.

    In addition to the December meetings, a former senior intelligence official said FBI agents had been looking closely at earlier exchanges between Trump associates and the Russians dating to the spring of 2016, including one at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Kushner and Kislyak — along with close Trump adviser and current attorney general Jeff Sessions — were present at an April 2016 event at the Mayflower where then-candidate Trump promised in a speech to seek better relations with Russia. It is unclear whether Kushner and Kislyak interacted there….

  17. says

    CNN’s reporting adds another dimension:

    The FBI’s criminal probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is increasingly touching on the multiple roles of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner on both the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.

    Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include: the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation; his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and Kushner’s own contacts with Russians, according to US officials briefed on the probe.

    The FBI has collected data on computer bots, programs that perform repetitive functions like searches, allegedly linked to Russia that helped target and push negative information on Hillary Clinton and positive information on Donald Trump through Facebook and other social media, the officials say.

    Federal investigators have been taking a closer look at the Trump campaign’s data analytics operation, which was supervised by Kushner, officials say, and are examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign — wittingly or unwittingly — to try to help Russia’s own data targeting.
    Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, worked with and helped oversee the campaign’s data operation contractors based in San Antonio, Texas.

    Kushner has described how, beginning last June, he began testing the use of data targeting to sell Trump merchandise. Eventually, according to a November Forbes magazine profile, the data operation helped the Trump campaign figure out where the candidate’s message was resonating in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, places where conventional political wisdom suggested they would be wasting time and money.
    “I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner told Forbes….

  18. says

    blf @18:

    “It has certainly put a very powerful tool in the hands of abusers,” […]

    Putting powerful tools in the hands of all kinds of abusers is what the Trump administration does.

    That database is the basis for a horror story.

  19. says

    Trump is such a dull man that he can’t learn:

    […] Despite focusing on trade policy for two years, Trump apparently did not realize that Germany, as an EU member, does not make individual trade deals with the United States. He also didn’t brush up on this fairly obvious fact before welcoming the German leader to the White House.

    A month later, a senior German official told The Times of London that Trump asked Merkel 10 times about negotiating a trade deal. According to the official, she replied every time, “You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU.” The official added, “On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message.” […]


    Maybe Trump didn’t learn, even after being schooled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel 11 times.

    Donald Trump had some tough words for the Germans at the NATO summit in Belgium on Thursday. “The Germans are bad, very bad,” he reportedly told Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Union. “Look at the millions of cars that they’re selling in the USA. Horrible. We’re gonna stop that.”

    It is certainly true that Germany runs a big trade surplus with the world and with the United States…. But Trump can’t stop the German cars from coming in to the U.S. because, to a large degree, they’re already here…. Trump could try to stop the sales of German cars in the U.S. But that would involve shutting down a bunch of factories on American soil that employ American workers and use a lot of U.S.-produced parts. Yes, that would be bad – very bad.

    Trump Reportedly Wants to Stop Germans From Selling So Many Cars Here, Where They’re Made

  20. blf says

    An illustration of hair furor’s rent-seeking greedy zero-sum world view, Trump ‘complained to Belgian PM of difficulty setting up golf resorts in EU’:

    US president said his view of Europe was based on experiences trying to do business, according to account of Brussels meeting

    Le Soir, a Belgian daily newspaper, reported that the US president acclaimed the chocolates, which were a gift from the Belgian government, during a meeting with the country’s prime minister, Charles Michel.

    “These are the best,”[†] he said, before explaining that his ambivalent attitude towards the EU was a consequence of his experiences trying to set up businesses, notably golf resorts, on the continent.

    “He made a lot of references to his personal journey. He explained, for example, the functioning of Europe on the basis of his difficulties in doing business in Ireland,” one source told the Francophone paper.

    A second source told the newspaper: “Every time we talk about a country, he remembered the things he had done. Scotland? He said he had opened a club. Ireland? He said it took him two and a half years to get a licence and that did not give him a very good image of the European Union. One feels that he wants a system where everything can be realised very quickly and without formalities.”

    No apparent concern about others, or thought at all as to why there are formalities, licenses, &tc. And then the subcontractors will actually want to be paid, in full and on time!

      † An example of stuck clock syndrome: A continuous liar is sometimes correct, typically by accident. In this case, he’d probably say the same time about a box of Crunchy Frog (video).

    Of course, he continued to blatantly lie:

    A French official said Trump, who had spoken favourably of Marine Le Pen, told the newly elected French leader, Emmanuel Macron: You were my guy in the presidential vote.

    The official, who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press, said Trump told Macron he hadn’t endorsed Le Pen. Trump in April described Le Pen as the strongest on what’s been going on in France and said: Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.

    Trump never spoke publicly about Macron before the vote […]

    Also, whilst I am unkeen on this sort of trivial, it’s a bit amusing, “Trump’s meeting with Macron was also notable for a long and awkward handshake. Pictures and video showed the two leaders gripping each other’s hands while grimacing slightly.”

  21. says

    Rush Limbaugh commented on the bodyslam of reporter Ben Jacobs in Montana by Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte:

    I must join the chorus of people condemning what happened out there. This manly, obviously studly Republican candidate in Montana took the occasion to beat up a pajama-clad journalist, a Pajama Boy journalist out there…And the manly, studly Republican simply didn’t realize that on the big stage you can’t do this kind of stuff and kicked the guy’s ass to the ground. This cannot be accepted. This must be condemned.

    Limbaugh continued in this vein for some time, and then he complained some more about Jacobs being smug and arrogant. He also called Jacobs an “average Millennial.”

    And that, my friends, is nearly the same reaction that is coming from rightwing media in general, and from a disturbing number of Republican voters in Montana.

    For example, Geraldo Rivera called the negative reaction to the body slamming incident “gigantically overblown.”

    The Sinclair-owned station in Montana refused to air the audio recording of the assault.

    A panel on Fox News cheered the assault as “Montana justice” and called Jacobs a “snowflake.”

    Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich are both claiming that Gianforte was “set up.” (A liberal conspiracy by Ben Jacobs and George Soros, I guess.)

    Rightwing media is celebrating the war on the “liberal” media, and they are celebrating violence against journalists.

  22. blf says

    To no great surprise, hair furor is quite likely to also sink the upcoming G7 summit in Sicily, Hopes for refugee crisis plan fall into chasm between G7 and Trump:

    Disagreements with US are so fundamental that Sicily summit might not be able to issue communique

    Fundamental disagreements between the US president [sic], Donald Trump, and other G7 leaders at the joint summit in Sicily have become so vast that they may be forced to issue a brief leaders’ statement rather than a fully-fledged communique, dashing Italian hopes of engineering a big step forward on migration and famine.

    A carefully laid plan prepared by the Italian hosts for a comprehensive package on the migration crisis has been blocked. Its replacement removes any commitments on the US to take refugees.


    The disagreements have spread to climate change, trade and food security, revealing the chasm between Trump and his fellow leaders at the summit.

    Or as the article excerpted in @14 put it, “Trump finds himself in the G1.”

    The European council president, Donald Tusk, pointedly called on Trump to accept that the refugee crisis requires a global response as he spoke at the opening of a summit he said was likely to be “the most challenging G7 in years”.


    Amid reports that the US was refusing to sign up to a communique if it implied an American commitment to take in more refugees, Tusk said: “We have to keep this position that the migration crisis is a global issue, and not only local or regional, and I hope we will convince our new colleagues around the table that what we need today is solidarity at the global level.”

    And a very very bad possibility seems to be edging closer:

    On climate change, Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn has signalled that the US will not stick to the pledges made by the Obama administration at the UN’s Paris climate change conference in 2015.

    We know that the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the US economic growth, Cohn said on the way to the summit. At the Paris summit the US pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28% compared with 2005 levels by 2025.

    Cohn said Trump, who has dismissed global warming as a hoax, would make a final decision when he returned home, but stressed he would put economic development first.

    No, what hair furor is putting first is his own profits, then those of his family & cronies, then his fantasies. Some of those might, mostly by accident & mostly in the short-term (probably), relate to so-called economic development.

  23. says

    blf @31: “Pictures and video showed the two leaders gripping each other’s hands while grimacing slightly”

    I think Macron was just refusing to let Trump get away with his usual grip-and-pull action that puts the other person off balance. Justin Trudeau employed a similar preventative tactic when he had to shake hands with Trump. Macron seems to have used more of the “I’m stronger than you are, you bully” in his handshake.

    The “rent-seeking” personality made Trump look like a bore to the Europeans. Trump may be more interested in destroying NATO just so that he can make easier deals to build golf courses than to please Putin. Putin must be smiling ear-to-ear after hearing that ignorant and insulting speech Trump gave to NATO members.

  24. blf says

    Oh good grief, Lady Justice statue in Bangladesh is removed after Islamist objections:

    Hardline groups said sculpture of woman holding sword and scales outside supreme court was example of idol worship

    A statue of Lady Justice has been removed from the supreme court building in the Bangladeshi capital after objections from Islamist groups.

    The sculpture, by the local artist Mrinal Haque, was installed in front of the court in December, and depicts a woman in a sari clutching a sword and scales, similar to the traditional depiction of the Greek goddess Themis.


    Haque oversaw the removal to ensure no damage was done to the statue, telling local media it was a “slap in the face of the progressive people in this country”.

    “This is a Bengali woman, wearing a sari. There is nothing Greek about it. This is nothing but a symbol of justice,” he said.

    He told the Associated Press he felt terrible. “This is injustice. This is not fair. My mother has died and I can easily compare my present feeling with that loss.”


    Around a dozen student activists held a march at Dhaka University on Friday to protest against the statue’s removal, but were blocked by police who laid barbed-wire fences and fired teargas.

    The campaign to remove the statue was started by Hefazat-e-Islam, a conservative religious movement that runs a large network of Islamic schools across Bangladesh. It had threatened to launch a mass movement if the statue remained in place.


    Anisuzzaman, a participant in the country’s 1971 liberation war and a professor of Bengali literature, said the statue’s removal was “a sad development and we deplore it”.

    “We see this as the government bowing down to the pressure of those who have used religion for political ends,” said Anisuzzaman, who like many south Asians uses only one name.

  25. blf says

    There is an editorial in today’s dead-tree edition of the International New York Times (ex-IHT), which makes a point similar to what I said yesterday about the USA essentially only causing or enabling harm in Yemen (see @476(previous page)). Will President [sic] Trump Help Save Yemen?:

    Add cholera to the famine threat and other crises that are devastating Yemen. More than 360 people have died of the disease in recent weeks, and thousands more are at risk.

    All that is unfolding against a civil war that has killed 10,000 people in two years and come to a grim stalemate in which President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his Saudi and United Arab Emirates backers continue to fight Houthi rebels, an indigenous Shiite group with loose ties to Iran.

    President [sic] Trump could have used his trip to Saudi Arabia this week to spotlight the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and push for a political solution to the conflict. Instead, he basked in the adulation of King Salman and his court, uncritically embraced the country’s foreign and domestic policies, and then sold the Saudis $110 billion in arms.

    The package includes precision-guided munitions, which President Barack Obama withheld last year in an effort to pressure Saudi Arabia to halt attacks that have killed thousands of civilians and struck hospitals, schools, markets and mosques. He also worried about possible Saudi war crimes in which America could be implicated.

    Mr Trump made perfunctory references to Yemen on his trip, but mostly to praise the Saudi war effort and condemn Iran for supporting militant groups. He could be using the leverage he has with his new Saudi friends to push for a resolution to the fighting. […]


    Since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has been bombing the Houthis to try to push them out of Yemen’s capital, Sana [sic†]. The war has put seven million people in danger of starvation, crushed the economy and decimated the health system.

    The problems are exacerbated by a virtual blockade of the Houthi-held port of Hudaydah [sic‡], a lifeline for food and medicine entering Yemen. Efforts by the Saudi-led coalition to screen ships for Iranian arms intended for Houthis has disrupted deliveries, and cranes needed to unload supplies have been damaged in the fighting. The country’s public and private reserves are so depleted that employees have not been paid and many have stopped working.

    “This is a clear-cut decline into massive famine that is man-made and avoidable,” said Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council head who recently visited Yemen. One encouraging development is that Saudi Arabia has not so far made good on threats to bomb and seize Hudaydah [sic‡], apparently heeding warnings by the United States and others.


    The editorial notes the Saudis make interpret hair furor’s blatherings — his praise of the war, the arms deal including the previously-prohibited weapons, and lack of admonishments / warnings — as a signal to escalate this apparent proxy war with Iran. In addition, “the chaos is allowing Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to become stronger, the population more radicalized and drawing American forces further into that fight.”

      † The preferred spelling of Yemen’s capital is Sana’a (albeit, as Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge notes, the name is “also spelled Sanaa or Sana”).

      ‡ And the preferred spelling is Al Hudaydah (albeit, again, there are various alternative English-language spellings).

  26. says

    Trump boasted about saving jobs at Carrier. Those boasts were never entirely accurate, and now the foundation (what there was of a foundation) is evaporating. Trump lied and/or exaggerated. Now, reality is here to bite him.

    From the Washington Post:

    Carrier, the company President Trump pledged to keep on American soil, informed the state of Indiana this week that it will soon begin cutting 632 workers from an Indianapolis factory. The manufacturing jobs will move to Monterrey, Mexico, where the minimum wage is $3.90 per day.

    That was never supposed to happen, according to Trump’s campaign promises. He told Indiana residents at a rally last year there was a “100 percent chance” he would save the jobs at the heating and air-conditioning manufacturer.

    What Trump promised in 2016:

    Carrier stepped it up, and now they’re keeping over 1,100 people. And by the way, that number is going to go up substantially as they expand this area, this plant. The 1,100 is going to be a minimum number.

    From Steve Benen:

    [Trump] gave those Carrier workers and their families a “100 percent” guarantee that he’d save those jobs – even though he had no idea what he was talking about. Trump later boasted that the number of jobs at that plant would soon “go up substantially,” which only added insult to injury because he had no way of making that happen.

    I don’t blame Trump for Carrier’s business decision; I blame Trump for deceiving those workers, looking them in the eye and making promises he couldn’t keep.

  27. says

    More proof that Trump himself is sabotaging Obamacare:

    North Carolina’s largest Obamacare insurer wants to raise premiums by nearly 23 percent, but said most of the increase is due to the failure of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to guarantee crucial payments to insurers.

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Thursday it would have asked the state regulators for an 8.8 percent increase if Trump and the GOP-led Congress agreed to continue funding payments to insurers for so-called cost-sharing reductions.

    Instead, the insurer is requesting an average increase of 22.9 percent for Obamacare plans that now cover about 502,000 people.


    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was looking at a modest increase and instead consumers will now be paying a “Trump tax.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] When private insurers don’t know about the fate of existing federal subsidies, they need to protect themselves against potential future losses imposed by Republicans. It’s Business 101.

    And so, by playing games, Trump and his GOP allies are effectively forcing insurance companies to start charging consumers more today because they don’t know what the White House and Congress will do tomorrow.

    The president, in other words, is imposing a political surcharge on the cost of middle-class health coverage for no reason. By threatening to make things worse, Trump and allies are already making things worse.

  28. blf says

    A small follow-up to @17, Ukip ‘would ban balaclavas in public: “Deputy leader reveals in radio interview that ban on face coverings such as burqas would also include woollen garments used for winter sports”.

    Good grief. I have a balaclava for precisely that reason — winter sports (in my case, originally purchased yonks ago for winter-time bicycling). And some people wear scarfs in a manner which hides parts of their face. What a bunch of eejits; What does ‘need to think this through’ mean?, albeit they probably need help with the words of more than four letters.

  29. says

    Oh, FFS:

    [Trump’s] top adviser Gary Cohn suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One that Trump might be open to lifting NATO sanctions on Russia. The sanctions were imposed after Russia annexed Ukrainian territory, an action that also prompted the G7 leaders to kick Russia out of the group.

    “The discussion on sanctions and Russia came up at NATO tonight. It was a pretty broad discussion with a lot of NATO talking about Russian Sanctions,” Cohn said, per press pool reports. Asked about the U.S. position on Russian sanctions, he added, “I think the president is looking at it.” […]

    Cohn refused to either confirm or deny that Trump was considering lifting Russian sanctions, leaving the door open. Trump has floated the possibility of lifting the sanctions before, though his stance remains ambiguous: another senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Trump was “leaning” toward keeping the sanctions in place.

    In the midst of questions over ties between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives — and over Trump’s own leaking of classified intelligence to the Russians — anything less than a strong endorsement of the sanctions sends a troubling message to America’s NATO allies, already stung over Trump’s admonishments. […]

    Think Progress link

  30. says

    blf @40, not having the right gear for outdoor activities in the winter can result in frostbite. What the heck are these people thinking?

  31. blf says

    Greg Gianforte’s victory in Montana hands Republican party a fresh liability:

    The election of a man who has just been charged with assaulting a journalist will create a fresh headache on Capitol Hill for Speaker Paul Ryan

    [… Gianforte’s win means] the party will now have to decide whether to embrace, accommodate or ostracise a man who made himself the personification of Trump’s media-baiting, violence-inciting campaign rhetoric. The legal saga will put a dark cloud over him and his movements on Capitol Hill are likely to receive outsized and negative coverage. In short, he is a liability adding to Ryan’s already considerable burden.

    “This is going to be another of those moral tests for the Republican party,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and commentator. “It should be an easy one for them to say there is no place for violence against reporters.”

    In normal politics, Skyes added, the incident would have been universally condemned. But, since the ascent of Trump, the compass has moved. “It’s hard to overstate the cynicism we’ve seen from Republicans in Washington who will stop at nothing when votes are involved. How far down the road are Republicans willing to go?”


    For months it was feared that Trump had created an atmosphere in which a journalist might be physically attacked. Now it has happened and, in most political contexts, such an action would be instantly disqualifying […]

    But the millionaire tech entrepreneur has aligned himself with Trump and may be untouchable for as long as the president’s populist base remains loyal. Trump’s cheerleaders have been ready to defend or even champion Gianforte, suggesting that he could prove a thorn in Ryan’s side.

    Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado, said: “They’ll be so happy he’s been able to get elected I doubt there’ll be any issue in the Congress about it. I don’t see anything happening on that score.”

    He denied that Gianforte’s “body slam” of a journalist should be disqualifying […]


    Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz said: “I wonder how Republicans would’ve responded if it was a Democrat in question. I’ve been saying for months that there is a poison in American politics that will destroy everyone. I’m afraid it’s happening.”

  32. says

    John Boehner commented on Trump’s reign so far:

    Everything else he’s done [in office] has been a complete disaster. He’s still learning how to be president.


  33. tomh says

    You may remember that NBA basketball player Enes Kanter was detained in an airport after his Turkish passport was cancelled. In today’s news, Turkey issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported. Sabah daily added that the prosecutor would apply for an Interpol red notice — to inform Interpol’s 190 members that someone’s arrest is sought and thus ensure their deportation — to the justice ministry. Kanter previously backed Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in Twitter postings after an attempted putsch last July aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Kanter’s response on Twitter: “I am already going to come to (Turkey) to spit on all of your ugly, hate-filled faces.”

  34. blf says

    US army ‘lost track of $1bn worth of arms’:

    Amnesty International urges the US and other countries to stop arms transfers that could fuel atrocities.

    The US army has failed to monitor over $1bn worth of arms and other military equipment transfers to Kuwait and Iraq, Amnesty International says in a report citing a 2016 US government audit.

    The now-declassified document by the US Department of Defence (DoD) audit, was obtained by the rights group following Freedom of Information requests.

    The audit reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq.


    [Amnesty International] says in the report that its own research has “consistently documented” lax controls and record-keeping within the Iraqi chain of command, which had resulted in arms winding up in the hands of armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL [daesh –blf]).

    “After all this time and all these warnings, the same problems keep occurring,” [AI Arms Control and Human Rights researcher Patrick] Wilcken said.


    “[… G]roups such as Amnesty International repeatedly called on irresponsible arms transfers to be tackled, as the weapons were not only falling into the hands of groups like ISIL but also pro-Tehran Shia jihadists fighting for the Iraqi government,” Tallha Abdulrazaq, a security researcher at the University of Exeter, told Al Jazeera via email.

    “While ISIL certainly needs to be fought, if this is achieved by hurling arms at groups that are just as extreme as the militant group, how does that resolve the situation?”


    Whilst of a different nature, that $110bn arms deal springs to mind… (The transfers discussed in the above excerpt are generally intended for the various factions fighting daesh, and “included small arms and heavy weapons, machine guns, mortar rounds and assault rifles.”)

  35. KG says

    You might think that even within the terms of John Wayne style macho masculinity, launching a surprise attack and breaking your opponent’s glasses – rather than challenging him to “come outside and settle this” – would be considered contemptible. Such is the moral degradation of American conservatism, that almost all the right-wingers who are not excusing Gianforte’s assault on Jacobs are celebrating it.

  36. blf says

    This isn’t quite the appropriate thread, but the clearly appropriate one, Discuss: Through a feminist lens, has been closed to comments since sometime last(!) year. So I’m noting it here, apologies — The gender wars of household chores: a feminist comic: “The French comic artist Emma illustrates the concept of the ‘mental load’. When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he is viewing her as the manager of their household chores”.

    Some of the readers’s comments are interesting, but be prepared for mansplaining.

  37. says

    In Brussels (site of the G7 Summit), Melania Trump wore a jacket by Dolce & Gabanna. The jacket cost $51,000. She carried a matching purse that cost $1,630. Everyone loved it, according to a lot of press reports. Melania wore an outfit that closely matched the U.S. median household of $55,775 in 2015 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).

    See the Daily Mail article on G7 fashion.

    Remember when conservatives threw a hissy fit over the gown Michelle Obama wore to an official state dinner? The gown from Carolina Herrera cost $12,000.

  38. says

    An excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s speech today in Wellesley, MA.

    Transcript of the excerpt:

    When people invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society. (Applause)

    That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality—not just our laws, and our rights, and our budgets, but our thoughts and beliefs.

    Right now, some of you might wonder, why am I telling you all this—you don’t own a cable news network, you don’t control the Facebook algorithm, you aren’t a member of Congress…YET. (Applause)

    Because I believe with all my heart that the future of America, indeed, the future of the world, depends on brave, thoughtful people like you insisting on truth and integrity right now, every day. You didn’t create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them. (Applause)

    You can read the full transcript here:

  39. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Hillary Clinton’s speech at Wellesley College:

    She reflected on her own graduation from Wellesley and what was going on in the world at the time, the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, the carnage of Vietnam, and oh also one other thing [Nixon, Watergate]:

    HILLARY: We were furious about the past presidential election, of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice …


    HILLARY: … after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.

    We see what you did there, Hillary!

    Hillary talked about how facts are literally dead because of the existence of the internet, and she even mentioned people “concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracy theories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors,” because why not make fun of PizzaGate truthers? They are deplorable, and also very stupid, therefore they deserve it. […]

    Hillary got very serious as she called bullshit on Trump’s cruel budget, and talked of the dangers of leaders who attempt to create their own realities, [See comment 54]

  40. blf says

    I don’t recall seeing this mentioned, so apologies if it is a repeat, New York and New Hampshire are ‘thunderbolts’:

    [… I]n New Hampshire and New York this week […] two Democratic women won long-time Republican state legislature seats on Tuesday night.

    In New Hampshire Edie DesMarais became the first Democrat ever elected to represent her New Hampshire house seat […]. In New York, Christine Pellegrino won the 9th assembly district — which voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in November — with 58% of the vote.


  41. blf says

    It was quite a week for toxic masculinity:

    If there was ever a week to remind you how much toxic masculinity underpins the Republican party — this was it. Trump pushed Montenegro’s prime minister (complete with self-satisfied smirk) and Montana’s newest representative won despite assaulting a Guardian reporter — a move Rush Limbaugh lauded as manly.

    When this is all over, gender studies professors are going to have a hell of time teaching students about the era in history that amounted to little more than a (ahem) measuring contest.


    At least among the continued horrors of living under a Trump presidency, Black Lives Matter got some of the recognition it deserves when it won the Sydney Peace Prize. Naomi Klein, a previous recipient, said that movement founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi “embody the core principle of the Sydney peace prize: that there will never be peace without real justice.”


    The Texas House passed an anti-choice bill that would make it a crime to drive a woman to get an abortion and on a scale from 1 to 10, I’m at a Handmaid’s 11.


    A great tweet is also quoted, “Our domestic & international policy on women’s issues is literally now just Ivanka appearing & saying the word ‘women’ & then drifting away.”

    Some more about the Sydney peace prize won by Black Lives Matter (from the link embedded in the above excerpt (Grauniad edits in {curly braces})):

    Each year the Sydney Peace Foundation honours a nominee who has promoted “peace with justice”, human rights and non-violence. Past recipients include Julian Burnside, Prof Noam Chomsky and the former Irish president Mary Robinson.


    “We’re not just about hitting the streets or direct action{…} it’s a humanising project,” [Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors] told Guardian Australia. “We’re trying to re-imagine humanity and bring us to a place where we can decide how we want to be in relation to each other versus criminalising our neighbours or being punitive towards them.”

    Cullors said an aspect of that was evaluating the role of police, looking at the underlying causes of incidents which draw police attention and questioning whether police can address the problem.

    “The complicated part of this is the question becomes: do we need police? Are police going to give us ultimate safety?” Cullors said.

    “In our opinion: no, police are not going to give us safety. We’ve seen time and time again that actually what they do is provide death{…} In our country, police are the first responders to people with psychiatric issues, police are the first responders to drug use and overdose, police are the first responders to issues of domestic violence.

    “And what we have seen time and time again, when they become the first responders, they don’t de-escalate. They actually escalate{…} When they become the first responders, our family members end up dying.”


    Indeed. De-escalation, harm-reduction, and calming is notably lacking from far too many of the current goons.

  42. says

    More on the handshakes, and on how delighted some of us are to see Trump bested in this display of dominance:

    […] Thursday brought a new twist in Trump’s handshake hall of fame: the President met his match.

    Appearing in a photo-op with the investment-banker-turned-French-President Emmanuel Macron, Trump found himself in a stone faced, white-knuckled stand-off. He attempted to release his hand not once, not twice, but three times. Macron, barely containing a triumphant smile, finally let go.

    “They shook hands for an extended period of time,” the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker wrote in a pool report. “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

    The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart took credit for warning France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud about Trump’s gamesmanship.

    “‘Did you warn him about Trump’s handshakes?’ my philanthropist friend asked,” Capehart wrote Friday, recalling a party on Monday night. “A look of surprise popped on Araud’s face as he inquired what exactly did that mean. Both of us told him about Trump’s affinity for the alpha male, grab-and-pull power pump that always seemed to reduce the other person to a rag doll. Forewarned, Araud said he would alert Macron.”

    Macron later head-faked Trump, choosing instead to greet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and then, crossing back to his right, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, before turning to the American President. […]


    Ha! The Washington Post does beyond the call of duty, offering not just great journalism, but handshake diplomacy lessons as well. Or should we say handshake warfare lessons.

    Closeups of Trump’s face show him attempting to smile while obviously in pain. (Wonkette did a good job of pulling and posting the evidence.)

  43. says

    “Sources: Comey acted on Russian intelligence he knew was fake”:

    Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email was fake — created by Russian intelligence — but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process.

    As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over — without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — while at the same time stating that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information. His press conference caused a firestorm of controversy and drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

    Comey’s actions based on what he knew was Russian disinformation offer a stark example of the way Russian interference impacted the decisions of the highest-level US officials during the 2016 campaign.

    The Washington Post reported Wednesday that this Russian intelligence was unreliable. US officials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false.

    In classified sessions with members of Congress several months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russian claim and expressed his concern that this Russian information could “drop” and that would undermine the Clinton investigation and the Justice Department in general, according to one government official.

    Still, Comey did not let on to lawmakers that there were doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to sources familiar with the briefings. It is unclear why Comey was not more forthcoming in a classified setting.

    Sources close to Comey tell CNN he felt that it didn’t matter if the information was accurate, because his big fear was that if the Russians released the information publicly, there would be no way for law enforcement and intelligence officials to discredit it without burning intelligence sources and methods. There were other factors behind Comey’s decision, sources say.

    In at least one classified session, Comey cited that intelligence as the primary reason he took the unusual step of publicly announcing the end of the Clinton email probe….

  44. blf says

    Whilst I didn’t spot anything too interesting in this column (unless you are unfamiliar with the story), it does contain several nice snarks, Why is Sean Hannity peddling bonkers conspiracy theories?:

    [… Y]ou and I both know that Fox News carries a heavy burden. Besides having lost Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes recently, the network also has to maintain the appearance of being a legitimate news organization and not be seen merely as conservative propaganda in high-definition blonde highlights sandwiched between reverse-mortgage advertisements blaring for 24 hours a day. […]

    After the Fox News retraction, Hannity […] generously thanked his irredeemable friends for their support.

    I suspect Hannity thinks “irredeemable” means something else than “not able to be improved or corrected”, which is the generally accepted definition. Or maybe he’s just being honest about his friends.

    Regardless, his comment makes me think that, while we don’t need Hannity on the air any longer, maybe we do need new words in our language. Allow me to propose one.

    Hannity (n): 1. the blockheaded belief in something beyond all facts to the contrary; 2. the sum of the results of being caught in an ideological lie but continuing anyway; 3. a description of the cynical politics of the factually challenged rightwing media.

    I’ll use it in a sentence: when Donald Trump keeps saying he has won the most electoral college votes since Ronald Reagan, he’s uttering something worse than a lie; he’s stating a Hannity.


  45. blf says

    Afghan singer burns ‘naked’ outfit she wore at Paris concert (France24 edits in {curly braces}):

    An Afghan singer and TV star publicly burned a figure-hugging skin-coloured jumpsuit after she was criticised for wearing it at a concert in Paris.

    The outfit caused controversy because the beige colour made it look as though she was naked on stage, with her detractors accusing it of being un-Islamic. Aryana Sayeed responded by posting a video on Facebook of her setting the dress on fire, writing in the caption, “Today we resolve one of the biggest current problems of Afghanistan so we can start focusing on other bigger problems!”


    In the video, she says:

    This is the poor little dress that seems to be the biggest single problem facing Afghanistan right now. If it weren’t for this dress, apparently, everything would be fine in our country. This whole controversy is ridiculous and unfortunate{…} Just look at it. I had no idea that Afghan citizens were so touchy about skin-coloured clothing.

    People think this dress is transparent. But it’s in their imagination! The dress is not transparent. It has long sleeves, it has two thick layers of fabric, and it even has long skirts going down to the floor. You can see it clearly here on this video. Don’t go by what you can see in screenshots from videos of the concert.

    I never wear clothing that exposes too much skin. This dress is a very normal outfit for Afghanistan. I wish the people who protested against my clothing, who were making such a fuss about it — I wish they would talk about the real problems in Afghanistan.

    If I hadn’t worn this dress, there would still be paedophilia in Afghanistan.

    If I hadn’t worn this dress, Farkhunda would still have been stoned. {Editor’s note: Farkhunda Malikzadaw was beaten to death by a mob in 2015 after being falsely accused of burning a Koran.}

    If I hadn’t worn this dress, child marriage would still be happening. Young girls would still be married off against their will.

    If I hadn’t worn this dress, there would still be violence, and suicide attacks in our country{…}

    So I have decided that — because some people say this dress is the biggest problem in Afghanistan — I’m going to solve the problem. I will torch this filthy, immoral dress, in the hope that the Afghan people can focus on the real problems that bring us so much dishonour around the world.


    So{…} the biggest problem in Afghanistan has been solved. I did not burn my dress because I’m giving in to the criticism. I burnt it in the hope that people stop talking about it and focus on the real problems facing our country.

  46. says

    “Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin”:

    Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

    Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

    The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

    Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.

    Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that although Russian diplomats have secure means of communicating with Moscow, Kushner’s apparent request for access to such channels was extraordinary.

    The discussion of a secret channel adds to a broader pattern of efforts by Trump’s closest advisers to obscure their contacts with Russian counterparts….

    The Post was first alerted in mid-December to the meeting by an anonymous letter, which said, among other things, that Kushner had talked to Kislyak about setting up the communications channel. This week, officials who reviewed the letter and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence said the portion about the secret channel was consistent with their understanding of events.

    For instance, according to those officials and the letter, Kushner conveyed to the Russians that he was aware that it would be politically sensitive to meet publicly, but it was necessary for the Trump team to be able to continue their communication with Russian government officials….

  47. Anton Mates says

    I had no idea who Aryana Saeed was before this thread. Now I do and she’s awesome. Can Afghanistan invade us and make her our president? The world would be grateful on many levels.

  48. says

    “Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents”:

    The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015, according to two people briefed on the request.

    The letter from the Senate arrived at Trump’s campaign committee last week and was addressed to the group’s treasurer. Since then, some former staffers have been notified and asked to cooperate, the people said. They were not authorized to speak publicly.

    The letter was signed by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the Senate committee’s chairman, and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. Spokespeople for Burr and Warner declined to comment.

  49. says

    Wow – Tucker Carlson has on…Dana Rohrabacher. Chyron: “Rep. Rohrabacher: Russia Claims are Sinister and Have No Substance.”; “D.C.Smear Machine Leaks into Overdrive.”

    Rohrabacher is insisting the Kremlin didn’t have anything to do with the DNC hacks and going on about how the US should partner with Russia even though it’s an “imperfect government.”

  50. says

    SC @70:

    […] the US should partner with Russia even though it’s an “imperfect government.”

    Yeah, that was, apparently, Jared Kushner’s idea too. It’s as if the Russians have wooed a whole bunch of Trump supporters, and then brain washed them.

  51. says

    Follow-up to SC @65.

    More revelations regarding Jared Kushner:

    […] Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former U.S. officials told Reuters.

    Those contacts included two phone calls between April and November last year, two of the sources said. By early this year, Kushner had become a focus of the FBI investigation into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, said two other sources – one current and one former law enforcement official.

    Kushner initially had come to the attention of FBI investigators last year as they began scrutinizing former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections with Russian officials, the two sources said. […]

    The new information about the two calls as well as other details uncovered by Reuters shed light on when and why Kushner first attracted FBI attention and show that his contacts with Russian envoy Sergei Kislyak were more extensive than the White House has acknowledged.

    Mother Jones link to reprint of Reuters story.

    SC @70, It’s as if the Russian’s wooed and then brainwashed a whole bunch of Trump supporters.

  52. says

    Apologies for the partial repetition in comment 72. My comment 71 seemed to have failed to post (it took a long time to appear), so I repeated that info.

    More from Reuters:

    […] Reuters was first to report last week that a proposal for a back channel was discussed between Flynn and Kislyak as Trump prepared to take office. The Washington Post was first to report on Friday that Kushner participated in that conversation.

    Separately, there were at least 18 undisclosed calls and emails between Trump associates and Kremlin-linked people in the seven months before the Nov. 8 presidential election, including six calls with Kislyak, sources told Reuters earlier this month. Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Flynn and Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone. Reuters previously reported only Flynn’s involvement in those discussions. […]

    FBI scrutiny of Kushner began when intelligence reports of Flynn’s contacts with Russians included mentions of U.S. citizens, whose names were redacted because of U.S. privacy laws. This prompted investigators to ask U.S. intelligence agencies to reveal the names of the Americans, the current U.S. law enforcement official said.

    Kushner’s was one of the names that was revealed, the official said, prompting a closer look at the president’s son-in-law’s dealings with Kislyak and other Russians.

    FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.

    The head of Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, Sergei Nikolaevich Gorkov, a trained intelligence officer whom Putin appointed, met Kushner at Trump Tower in December. The bank is under U.S. sanctions and was implicated in a 2015 espionage case in which one of its New York executives pleaded guilty to spying and was jailed. […]

  53. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] in secret meetings in December, Jared Kushner proposed to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak setting up a “back channel” so the Trump team could communicate secretly and securely with Moscow.

    But this use of the phrase “back channel” does a serious disservice to back channels. A back channel is secret and unofficial communication through trust intermediaries that goes around the national security and diplomatic bureaucracy and provides some plausible deniability.

    Kushner proposed using the Russian government’s own secure communication facilities, presumably housed in Russian diplomatic facilities in Washington and New York, to communicate with Moscow behind the back of the US government, state, intelligence apparatus, military, etc.

    Why exactly would you want to do that? […]

    This is truly extraordinary. As the Post notes, even Kislyak seems to have found it shocking, not least because under normal or even abnormal circumstances the Russians (or any other government) would never let the US government see or have any contact with these facilities and hardware.

    Frankly, I’m still forming my opinions about what this means. But it makes all the most ominous reads about what is at the heart of Trump/Russia story considerably more plausible. What exactly did the Trump team need so urgently to discuss with the Russian government? Why the need for such absolute security? After all the transition would be the US government in little more than a month.

  54. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] President Trump’s visit to Brussels/Europe wasn’t just another grab bag of impulsive aggression and gaffes. It wasn’t scattershot. It was quite clearly focused on destabilizing and perhaps eviscerating the NATO Alliance and somewhat secondarily, but relatedly, the European Union. This has been the strategic goal of Russia and before it the Soviet Union for decades. The sum total of everything that happened on this trip casts the entire Trump/Russia story in a decidedly more ominous light. […]

    There are plenty of theories as to why President Trump might want to destabilize our alliance with our European allies and upend the global liberal internationalist order. But that he wants to do that seems basically beyond question at this point. His still largely unexplored and in many ways inexplicable relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia is just the most viable explanation. On virtually every other issue he is almost infinitely malleable and susceptible to blandishments and praise. Except this one. Here he remains fixed on True North. […]

    Again, let’s go back to Brussels and NATO. Trump now has around him a number of advisors who if they are reasonably criticized on various grounds hold conventional pro-NATO views on Europe. Defense Secretary Mattis appears to be the most important of these. McMaster, Powell and others figure in the mix too. They apparently worked on him closely to make a clear statement of honoring Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – our commitment to come to the defense of any NATO member threatened with external aggression. It was even apparently in the speech he was supposed to give. But Trump nixed it and insisted on these entirely fraudulent entirely fraudulent claims of the Europeans owing the US vast sums of money. […]

    Whether Vladimir Putin has something on Donald Trump or somehow has him in his pay hardly matters. If he doesn’t, he apparently doesn’t need to do since Trump insists on doing more or less exactly what Putin would want of him entirely on his own. […] look at the evidence before us. A simple statement on a decades old security commitment is the simplest, most pro-forma thing to do. And yet he refuses. Again and again. […]

    Will both the Trump and Kushner families go down the tubes, financially speaking, if they don’t do the bidding of the Russians?

  55. says

    Malcolm Nance discussed Jared Kushner’s alleged request to establish a secret channel with the Kremlin:

    […] Had any individual other than these individuals who worked immediately for President Trump, performed these actions at any time in the SF-86 security clearance process, they would have immediately had their clearances pulled.

    They would have had their jobs terminated.

    Some of these contacts are so suspicious that they would have warranted their own counterintelligence investigation. This nation is in a counterintelligence investigation. They are in a spy hunt over at the FBI, and now we have this story—should it prove true—of an American citizen who is the senior adviser to the president of the United States, attempting to establish what we call in the intelligence community ‘covert communications’ with a hostile nation’s potential intelligence agency or senior leadership.

    That brings you — that crosses the line to the espionage act of 1917. This cannot be explained. Put aside the other 18 contacts with Moscow. This one incident requires Jared Kushner and all of his immediate staff to have their clearances pulled right now and to have the FBI descend on there and to determine whether this is hostile intelligence in the White House one step from the president.


  56. says

    Ari Melber, sitting in for Rachel Maddow discussed the revelation that Jared Kushner asked the Russian ambassador to set up a back channel to the Kremlin using Russian facilities. The video is 15:57 long.

    Melber also mentioned the Senate Intelligence Committee request for Trump’s campaign documents.

    Melber also discussed previous stories about attempts to establish a Trump-Putin back channel, including the meeting of the Blackwater founder with Russians in the Seychelles (a meeting set up by a Saudi Prince). The back channel set-up attempt by Mike Flynn was also mentioned.

  57. says

    Lawrence O’Donnell made the point that when Europeans read their news sources tomorrow, they will see that Jared Kushner tried to set up a secret back channel with the Russians.

    And that news comes on the heels of Trump having insulted fellow NATO members.

  58. KG says

    and to determine whether this is hostile intelligence in the White House one step from the president. – Malcolm Nance quoted by Lynna, OM@76

    Well, be fair. Having some form of intelligence existing in the President’s vicinity has to be a plus!

  59. KG says

    Bizarrely, I just heard John Sopel, the BBC correspondent touring with Trump, claim in BBC radio 4’s morning news bulletin that his trip was “normal-ish”. You can read a version of his tripe here. In the broadcast version, Sopel didn’t even mention Trump shoving the Montenegrin PM aside (which is in the written version). In neither version did he mention Trump repeating his nonsense about European NATO members owing the USA huge sums of money.

  60. blf says

    [… W]hen Europeans read their news sources tomorrow, they will see that Jared Kushner tried to set up a secret back channel with the Russians.

    And that news comes on the heels of Trump having insulted fellow NATO members.

    Yep. For instance, lead story on the Granuniad’s site, Jared Kushner discussed creating secret communications channel with Moscow: “Russia’s ambassador told his superiors that he and Kushner discussed ways to shield White House transition team discussions from monitoring, sources said”. Not quite the top article on Al Jazeera, which nonetheless also has a report, Jared Kushner sought secret line to Russia: “Trump’s son-in-law tried to create a secure communications channel with Russia in December, Washington Post reports.”

    And, Donald Trump’s Europe tour leaves leaders strangely shaken: “US president’s [sic] first visit to Europe memorable for body-language battles and patchy understanding of the bloc”.

    I haven’t read any of the articles (yet), as I have more important things to do, like drinking enough café to become & remain vertical, ideally with mostly-controlled motion (and preferably not lurching (makes it hard to go up and down stairs (including to the café machine!))) to make it to the morning organic market and then back…

  61. blf says

    Well, I survived the trip down the stairs to the café, and then to and from the market, albeit pursued back by a rampaging somethings… not sure what, probably not peas (not enough snarling and not all that fast either). The whatevers are now trying to break down the front door using what sounds like a battering ram (which, judging from the snarling, is a pea). The clams from the market don’t seem to be too worried, which is probably a good sign.

    Anyways, White House agrees to detail ethics waivers for former lobbyists:

    The White House will comply with a request from the US government’s ethics agency to provide information on which former lobbyists are working in the administration […]

    Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said in a letter that the administration was not seeking to impede efforts by the Office of Government Ethics to obtain that information, despite earlier protests from Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).


    OMB has never sought to impede OGE, [Mulvaney] wrote.


    Never tried to impede? What colour(s?) is the sky over tram-pratstan?

    The thumping and snarling at the front door has stopped. The clams remain calm. Just peeked outside. Nothing there, and only a few more dents in the door. The sky is still the current normal, metallic green (rather bright, probably will be quite warm today) with silverish streaks, and swarms of newly-hatched pigs darting about.

  62. says

    The tourism industry in the USA continues to suffer thanks to Trump and his cronies.

    The US tourism business is in trouble — and President Trump may be to blame.

    America’s share of international tourism has dropped 16% in March, compared to the same month in 2016, according to Foursquare data released Wednesday.

    The decline began in October 2016, the month before the presidential election. From October to March, tourism-related traffic has fallen an average of 11% in the US, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, tourism in the rest of the world has increased 6% year-over-year during the same period. […]

    […] the drop in international tourism could result in an additional 1% to 2% drop in sales at US shops, restaurants, and attractions. Hotels, with 15% of booking from foreign visitors, are expected to be hit even harder.

    In 2017, the retail industry can’t afford to lose potential sales. Retailers have announced more than 3,400 store closures so far this year, and Credit Suisse analysts expect that figure to grow to more than 8,600 before the end of the year. […]

    Business Insider

    Tourists are choosing to travel to other regions. They are choosing to stay away from Hair Furor.

    The area where I live will definitely suffer from this drop in tourism. We are surrounded by a lot of public lands, including national parks, that tend to draw tourists.

    blf @82, I saw your description of the metallic green sky and the swarms of pigs. Sounds like a lovely Saturday in your neck of the woods. I am, however, wondering what was in all that coffee you drank. We’ll assume, for now, that the clams are innocent.

  63. says

    Correction to comment 77: It was a person from the United Arab Emirates that arranged the meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and an un-named Russian associate of Putin. This was part of the “back channel” communication set-up that Kushner allegedly proposed in December.

    The covert communications were, purportedly, supposed to be between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. Mike Pence was the head of the transition team. Mike Pence’s claims of ignorance about so many things are starting to wear thin.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

    Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

    Prince and his family were major GOP donors in 2016. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the family gave more than $10 million to GOP candidates and super PACs, including about $2.7 million from his sister, DeVos, and her husband.

    Erik Prince has had lucrative contracts with the UAE government, which at one point paid his firm a reported $529 million to help bring in foreign fighters to help assemble an internal paramilitary force capable of carrying out secret operations and protecting Emirati installations from terrorist attacks. […]

    From the Intercept:

    […] The Prince family’s support for Pence, and the Christian supremacist movement he represents, has deep roots. Erik Prince’s father, Edgar, built up a very successful manufacturing business in Holland, Michigan, and became one of the premier bankrollers of what came to be known as the radical religious right. They gave Gary Bauer the seed money to start the Family Research Council and poured money into James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. […]

    The Prince and DeVos families gave the seed money for what came to be known as the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House speaker in 1994 on a far-right platform known as the Contract with America. The Prince and DeVos clans also invested heavily in a scheme developed by Dobson to engage in back-door lobbying activities by forming “prayer warrior” networks of people who would call politicians to advocate for Dobson’s religious and political agenda. The Princes consistently poured money into criminalizing abortion, privatizing education, blocking gay rights, and other right-wing causes centered around their interpretation of Christianity.

  64. says

    The NRA would like for you to know that you can buy insurance to cover your legal costs if you shoot another human being.

    […] last month the NRA announced a new insurance product, Carry Guard, which they marketed to their millions of members online and at their annual meeting in Atlanta. The idea of firearms liability insurance has been previously championed by gun safety advocates on the left, who envisioned insurance as an instrument of public safety that could encourage safer guns and safer behavior. As implemented by the NRA, though, firearms liability insurance has a different function—to insulate gun owners from the expense and other possible consequences of a shooting. […]


  65. says

    Oh, no. Trump’s stupidity strikes again.

    Leaders of the G7, the world’s most exclusive geopolitical club, issued their 2017 declaration Saturday, with U.S. President Donald Trump refusing to join his counterparts in pledging commitment to the 195-nation Paris accord on climate change.

    The statement also included language on trade, which appeared to be a compromise between the new U.S. administration’s skepticism about some current trade deals and the more pro-free trade views of other G7 members. On Russia, Trump went along with the group, maintaining a hard line on the conflict in Ukraine. […]

    While the declaration included remarkable language highlighting that the U.S. stood apart, the other G7 members expressed some relief that Trump had not outright rejected the accord and said they remained hopeful he would come around

    “The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics,” the leaders wrote. “Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.”

    Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters on Saturday that the president “continues to study” the Paris agreement. […]


    Trump probably didn’t want to tell the G7 leaders to their faces that he would not go along with the Paris agreement, because that might make them dislike him (more). However, I think that as soon as he is out of the G7 members’ presence, Trump will renege on the agreement (which Obama had supported).

  66. microraptor says

    Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters on Saturday that the president “continues to study” the Paris agreement. […]

    Hair furor’s conclusion: too many big words, not enough pictures. It’s bad, it’s very bad.

  67. says

    Saturday morning tweets from Hair Furor:

    Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger

    The characterization of “payments” and of money pouring in are false.

    […] the commitments are for NATO allies to spend more on defense overall, mainly on their own militaries – so the increases would not necessarily be seen at headquarters but in the military budgets of individual countries.


  68. says

    A lawsuit filed against Hillary Clinton has been dismissed.

    A federal judge in Washington has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton’s lax security surrounding her emails led to the deaths of two of the Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson tossed out the wrongful death claims as well as allegations that Clinton essentially slandered the parents of the deceased by contradicting accounts the parents gave of events related to their children’s deaths.

    The suit was filed last August […]

    “The Court finds that Secretary Clinton was acting in the scope of her employment when she transmitted the emails that are alleged to give rise to her liability,” Jackson wrote in her 29-page opinion. “The untimely death of plaintiffs’ sons is tragic, and the Court does not mean to minimize the unspeakable loss that plaintiffs have suffered in any way. But when one applies the appropriate legal standards, it is clear that plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to rebut the presumption that Secretary Clinton was acting in her official capacity when she used her private email server.


  69. says

    Trump was the only leader at the G7 Summit that did not hold a press conference afterward. In fact, Trump didn’t hold any press conferences during the entire trip. He did send out lackeys to try to get reporters to say he was great and successful. But no questions were taken from the press by Hair Furor.

    Trump provided us with his assessment of the trip:

    […] we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are […] Our travels took us to some of the holiest sites in the three Abrahamic religions and to gatherings of both America’s oldest and newest friends. We traveled the world to strengthen long-standing alliances and to form a new partnership among nations devoted to the task of eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet […]

  70. blf says

    Trump’s big trip began well — but in Europe his flaws were painfully exposed:

    Once he reached Brussels, Trump seemed to abandon Obama’s foreign policy rule of ‘don’t do stupid shit’, and his inability to work by consensus was stark


    The White House’s primary aim for the tour was to achieve Barack Obama’s touchstone goal: “Don’t do stupid shit.” For a few days, that seemed to work. The Saudi and Israeli legs of the trip were tightly controlled, Trump stuck to his scripted remarks, and the president made his keynote counter-terrorism speech in Riyadh in a deliberate and determined manner.

    Well, there were the problems of praising the lack of protesters when protest is neither allowed nor safe; of blaming Iran for everything; of lecturing Muslims on Islam; and so on.

    It was only when Air Force One reached Brussels that the caravan began to lose its way. That was perhaps inevitable for both policy and personal reasons. With King Salman and Netanyahu, there was a shared list of priorities and talking points: a view that Iran was a primary enemy, the desirability of huge US arms contracts, denunciations of terrorism. Trump was the centre of attention, literally treated like royalty and assured the things he did and said were historic.

    In Europe, Trump had to play a different role: a senior member of a group seeking to act in concert and by consensus. But Trump does not do collegial, a fact that was grasped before in Europe but is now viscerally understood after the president shoved the Montenegrin prime minister out of the way to get front and centre of a Nato leaders’ photo-op. It was demonstrated again at the G7, when he did not even bother to put on headphones to hear the speeches of his fellow world leaders, including his Italian host.

    Good grief! I have no idea what language(s) hair furor understands — my guess is none (including English) — but that is astonishing. At a guess, if challenged on this, he’ll either deny it or say something like I have a great team! They deal with that. I point the way. That’s presidental, thate is. It’s why I won the biggest victory every. More fake news! Sad.

    These are the ways of a man without curiosity. He does not read books, and listens fitfully and reluctantly to others. He is reportedly fed up with McMaster because he goes on for too long about world affairs. The briefing papers McMaster’s team drew up before this trip had to be condensed to a few bullet points on a single page for each issue, and even then Trump grew bored of reviewing them before departure, and groused about how long the whole excursion would take.


    Trump’s denunciation of the Germans at a European Union meeting for being bad, very bad, because of the large number of German brand cars sold in the US, showed his comprehension of the global auto trade was just as shaky [as his grasp of how Nato operates]. The vast majority of German cars sold in the US are made there by American workers. For example, the BMW plant in South Carolina is the company’s largest anywhere in the world. It is also the biggest exporter of cars from the US.


    One tidbit in the column (redacted from the above excerpt), is that when hair furor “met Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu, [… Jared] Kushner was in the room but national security adviser HR McMaster was left outside.”

    Lynna@84, innocent clams!? Probably the only thing clams are innocent of is the Big Bang, and that’s simply because they’re really bad navigators of none-existent spacetime. They are the Nac Mac Feegle of the sea, but without any of the former’s redeeming characteristics, albeit, also unlike the former, they taste good. BURP! And the café contained coffee, coffee, coffee, a touch of water, and moar coffee. It did not contain any tea for flavour.

  71. says

    blf @ 93:

    […] It was demonstrated again at the G7, when he did not even bother to put on headphones to hear the speeches of his fellow world leaders, including his Italian host. […]

    Oh, FFS. What a lout. I hadn’t heard that detail before.

    The briefing papers McMaster’s team drew up before this trip had to be condensed to a few bullet points on a single page for each issue, and even then Trump grew bored of reviewing them before departure, and groused about how long the whole excursion would take.

    Ah, that’s also very telling. No attention span. No patience. And he feels no need to really learn about world affairs. No wonder part of his dinner conversation consisted of complaining that it was hard to build golf courses in Europe.

    In other news, I’m still puzzled by the fact that Jared Kushner is definitely part of the “war room” convened by team Trump to push back against the growing Russia scandal. The scandal is growing, in part, because of Kushner.

    Jared Kushner, whose own ties to Russia are under federal scrutiny, will help coordinate messaging from a new White House “war room” intended to diffuse mounting pressure from the scandal surrounding possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

    Kushner and White House chief adviser Steve Bannon will be involved in the messaging operation, Reuters reported Friday, as well as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who could join the administration as early as next week. […]

    Part of the strategy for managing disclosures like this is getting Trump back on the road, Reuters reported. The President will hold a campaign-style rally next week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Nope. Something has already gone wrong with the Cedar Rapids plan. It has been cancelled.

    Efforts to maintain message discipline over the Russia story are threatened by Trump’s own off-the-cuff speaking style and habit of airing his grievances on Twitter, in interviews and at public events. […]


    Maybe team Trump (or Jared himself?) simply believes that Jared can do no wrong? So, sure, have him run the war room.

    As for bringing Corey Lewandowski back into the team, WTF?

  72. says

    Trump already knows and has already met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but you might think otherwise if you listed to Trump’s comments at the U.S. Naval Air Base in Italy:

    Speaking about a nearby helicopter, Trump speculated that it might be Japan’s “Prime Minister Abe” or “Justin from Canada,” meaning Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    “Great people,” he said. “We made a lot of good friends this week, I’ll tell you, a lot of good friends. They’re good people.” […]

    Twitter users have since taken to the social media platform to comment on the president’s nickname for his Canadian counterpart. [snipped Twitter posting about Justin Bieber, etc.]

    The Hill link

    Trump called Trudeau “Justin from Canada” in other situations as well.

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