1. hjhornbeck says

    Yep, and I’m not alone in calling it.

    Then at around 11:45 pm, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker showed up. He had come to get the travelers out of detention, “or at least access to an attorney,” he told The Daily Beast. Then he disappeared down a hallway blocked off by police, back to where the CBP officials had quarantined themselves.

    Booker stayed back there for about half an hour, and then he pushed through the crowd of roaring protesters and—flanked by glowering policemen—addressed the crowd. After a few opening words, he held up a copy of Brinkema’s order.

    “I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight,” he said. “And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle.”

    The crowd cheered.

    “We see tonight what I believe is a clear violation of the Constitution,” he continued. “And so clearly tonight we have to commit ourselves to the longer fight. Clearly tonight, we have to commit ourselves to the cause of our country. Clearly tonight, we have to be determined to show this world what America is all about.”

    Asked by The Daily Beast what CBP officers had told him about why they wouldn’t let detainees see their lawyers. “They told me nothing, and it was unacceptable,” he said. “I believe it’s a Constitutional crisis, where the executive branch is not abiding by the law.”

    A source familiar with Booker’s exchange with CBP officials told The Daily Beast that officials with the agency refused to see him face to face. Instead, Booker wrote questions on a piece of paper which he handed to police officers, and those officers gave the paper—along with a copy of Brinkema’s ruling—to CBP officials. Those CBP officials then wrote out their answers to the senator’s questions, according to the source. The source described it as a half-written, half-spoken game of telephone.

  2. blf says

    Here’s what may be the first attempt by the dalekocracy to “explain” the poor implementation of the restraining order, from the Grauniad’s live blog (18:03 mark, quoted in full):

    Earlier today Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway falsely told Fox News Sunday that last night’s stay decision by a New York federal judge doesn’t really affect the executive order.

    The judge in Brooklyn, the Obama appointee judge in Brooklyn’s stay of order really doesn’t affect the executive order at all, because the executive order is meant to be prospective, she told host Christ Wallace.

    It’s preventing not detaining, she said.

    Not all aspects of the executive order are covered by the Brooklyn judge’s decision but it does stop deportations.

    She also said she understood what it was like to be stopped at airports but that it was a small price to pay for national security.

    I was stopped many times … after 9/11, she said. I didn’t resemble, or share a name with, or be part of any kind of terrorist conspiracy, but this is what we do to keep a nation safe.

    Just remember that Conway is a blonde white US-born American woman.

    Judge Leonie Brinkema was nominated by Clinton, not Obama.

  3. says

    Judge Leonie Brinkema was nominated by Clinton, not Obama.

    I think she’s referring to Ann Donnelly, who was nominated by Obama.

    Just remember that Conway is a blonde white US-born American woman.

    She’s also a lawyer, who knows she’s full of shit.

  4. blf says

    I think she’s referring to Ann Donnelly, who was nominated by Obama.

    Yes, you’re probably correct, Judge Brinkema is in Virgina, not Brooklyn. My bad.

    Judge Brinkema “was the second to order a stay of an executive order by President Donald Trump, which restricted immigration into the United States and prevented the return of green-card holders and others. Although the order issued was a temporary restraining order, it blocked the removal of any green-card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport for seven days. Brinkema’s action also ordered that lawyers have access to those held there because of the president’s ban.”

  5. says

    In the past, I’ve seen Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff, attempt to modify or walk back some of the worst of Steve Bannon’s policies and some of the worst of Trump’s statements. Now Priebus sounds like he has had too much exposure to the cult and has completely succumbed.

    […] “It seems that a lot of the chaos yesterday could have been avoided, had you at least included some sort of timed grace period,” Chuck Todd asked Priebus on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Why was that not included?”

    “Well, I don’t think you want to have a grace period,” Priebus replied. “Then people that want to do bad things to Americans will just move up their travel date two days in order to get into the country before the grace period’s over.”

    Priebus said that “a lot of people,” including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “would just tell you you’ve got to rip off the band-aid.”

    “It wasn’t chaos,” he insisted. “I mean, the fact of the matter is 325,000 people from foreign countries came into the United States yesterday and 109 people were detained for further questioning. Most of those people were moved out.”

    Priebus said that a “couple dozen” people are still being detained.

    “I would suspect as long as they’re not awful people, that they will move through before another half a day today, and perhaps some of these people should be detained further,” he said. “And if they’re folks that shouldn’t be in this country, they’re going to be detained. And so, apologize for nothing here.” […]


    Apologize for nothing? Not even for ignoring court orders?

    For more on the court orders, see hornbook’s comment 477, SC’s comment 480, SC’s comment 488, hornbeck’s hornbook’s comment 494, and hornbook’s comment 500 in the previous chapter of this thread.

  6. says

    I agree with SC in comment 490 to snuffcurry in the previous chapter of this thread:


    Great analysis at 421, SC.By the by, this ongoing thread and Lynna’s management of it make it an outstanding, indispensable resource, almost worth the chaos in open threads that necessitated it. My thanks to the regular commenters for their service here.

    So nice of you to say that. I share your appreciation of Lynna’s work.

  7. says

    Here are a few responses from the Republican side of the aisle.

    Senator Rob Portman noted that the order for “new vetting measures” was itself “not properly vetted.”

    Mitch McConnell is basically taking the coward’s way out:

    […] It’s hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far. I don’t want to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful. We don’t have religious tests in this country. […]

    It was already noted in comment 1 that Kellyanne Conway made the false claim that the rulings from judges “don’t really affect” Trump’s executive order.

    Most Republicans are continuing to be suspiciously silent.

  8. blf says

    There is a Joint IOM-UNHCR Statement on President Trump’s Refugee Order (English, also in French and Arabic), but it’s extremely bland and completely fails to condemn teh trum-prat’s action.

    It does make a few good points. One example:

    The longstanding U.S. policy of welcoming refugees has created a win-win situation: it has saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world who have in turn enriched and strengthened their new societies. The contribution of refugees and migrants to their new homes worldwide has been overwhelmingly positive.

    UNHCR = UN Refugee Agency
    IOM = International Organization for Migration

    (Found basically by accident whilst searching for some data.)

  9. says

    Here a a few responses from national security experts:

    […] “Not only is it immoral and stupid, it’s also counterproductive,” says Patrick Skinner, a former CIA counterterrorism case officer […]. “We’ve got military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel on the ground right now in Syria, Libya, and Iraq who are working side by side with the people, embedded in combat, and training and advising. At no time in the US’s history have we depended more on local—and I mean local—partnerships for counterterrorism. We need people in Al Bab, Syria; we depend on people in a certain part of eastern Mosul, Iraq; in Cert, Libya. At the exact moment we need them most, we’re telling these people, ‘Get screwed.'”

    Kirk W. Johnson, who spent a year on the reconstruction in Fallujah in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), echoes Skinner’s fears: “This will have immediate national security implications, in that we are not going to be able to recruit people to help us right now, and people are not going to step forward to help us in any future wars if this is our stance.”

    […] “The US is officially banning people in these countries at the same time we’re trying to build up local support to fight ISIS,” Skinner says. “It takes a long time to build trust with these people. This is like the Abu Ghraib thing. You have to start over, say, ‘Okay, starting now, trust me.’ How many times can you get away with that?” […]

    Elizabeth Goitein, the codirector of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program, says, “The message this projects is that America sees Muslims as a threat—not specific actors who are intent on committing terrorist acts. The message that America really is at war with Islam will be ISIS’s best friend.”

    BuzzFeed reporters Mike Giglio and Munzer Al-Awad spoke with five current or former ISIS fighters who cited Trump’s divisiveness as a factor that will weaken America. They added that his rhetoric against Muslims will help them reinforce their narrative that America and the West are fighting not just terrorism, but Islam itself. “Trump will shorten the time it takes for us to achieve our goals,” said one. […]


  10. says

    Jamelle Bouie comments on Steve Bannon’s influence:

    […] I want to get to Bannon real quick, though, because I think the point about chief ideologist is very important.

    One thing that I still feel is a little underexamined about Bannon is his relationship and his role as the head of Brietbart prior to joining the Trump campaign. And if you look at what the administration has done over this past week, from the immigration order, from the announcement that the White House website would start publicizing crimes from undocumented immigrants, from, this seems minor, but the Holocaust memorial statement, which strangely did not mention Jewish Americans or anti-Semitism. These are all hallmarks of the kind of aggressive, populist, white nationalist rhetoric you see on websites like Breitbart.

    What exactly is Bannon’s role here, and what kind of beliefs is he injecting into the mainstream?


  11. says

    Anthony Romero, who works for the ACLU, explained why Trump’s refugee ban is unconstitutional and illegal:

    […] It’s a moratorium on all refugees. It prohibits the entry of Syrian refugees. It bans the entry of individuals from seven countries. That includes even green card holders. That includes individual who have lawful visas. And then it carves out an exception for minority religions. Taken together, the four components of the executive order we think violate the due process protections of the Constitution, the equal protection clauses of the Constitution, violates some federal statues — the Immigration Nationality Act.

    We think it also violates some of our international treaties and conventions, and violates the First Amendment. The First Amendment is one of the core principles of our Constitution. It prohibits the government from either favoring or discriminating against any one particular religion. And here you have Mr. Trump saying that we’re going to exclude individuals from predominantly Muslim countries, and then he carves out an exception for minority religions. The executive order is a smoking gun that violates the First Amendment. […]

    […] our courts serve as a check and balance on the power of the executive. And this effort is not just unconstitutional and un-American and wrong-headed, we think it’s also something that will go down in history as one of the worst moments for American foreign policy and American immigration policy. […]


  12. blf says

    Follow-up to @7, Iranian-born BBC reporter Ali Hamedani is no longer being held and has now entered the States:

    All done! They’ve interviewed, searched my bag, searched my phone and computer and let me in after 2 hours. He said I can come back anytime.

    The “searched my phone and computer” bothers me, albeit I have no idea what was done or if Mr Hamedani was present.

  13. says

    Hillary Clinton’s response:

    I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are.

  14. says

    Joy Reid discusses Trump’s refugee ban, and she analyzes the placement of Steve Bannon on the National Security Council. The video is 15:31 minutes long.

    Reid provides a good overview of the sloppiness and the abnormality of Trump’s executive orders.

    Reid interviewed Senator Chris Van Hollen about Bannon’s elevation to the National Security Council.

  15. blf says

    I believe all these points have been covered previously, but here is a nice summary, Meanwhile, in Obamacare: Republican disarray follows Trump’s first order:

    In Philadelphia, congressmen fretted. In Washington, an attack on ads met outrage. And in Minnesota, a provision had to be withdrawn amid outcry

    Donald Trump has been in office for just a week, but Republican attempts to rip up and reassemble the American healthcare system have subsided into disagreement, backtracking and public outrage.

    At a GOP retreat in Philadelphia this week, audio of a closed-door policy session captured disagreement among rank-and-file members over how to reform the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to many as Obamacare. Some worried that the party was about to “pull the rug out” from people, potentially leaving millions without any insurance at all.

    In Washington, the White House was forced to abandon part of a plan to end all advertisements warning Americans about an approaching enrollment deadline.

    And in Minnesota, a Republican plan to make 68 “essential health benefits” optional under a reformed [sic] healthcare provision was left out of legislation, after a public outcry.

    On his arrival in the Oval Office, Trump signed an executive order to begin the unraveling of the ACA, instructing federal agencies to take any measures available to ease the burdens of Obamacare. Developments since highlight the political minefield Republicans have created for themselves, particularly after Trump, consistently inconsistent, promised [sic] both “insurance for everyone” and ACA repeal.


    There’s a nice quote from Andy Slavitt, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under Obama: “Every time I hear someone — some male congressman or assembly person — say, Why should I have to pay for maternity coverage?, it just makes me want to think about, ‘Well, you were born, weren’t you? Didn’t your mother need maternity coverage?’”

  16. blf says

    An analytical follow-up to (previous page)@498, How many US immigrants come from Trump’s seven banned countries?:

    How many immigrants come from the seven banned countries?
    A large share of the US population are immigrants: one in eight people (13% of the total population, 16% of all adults) was born abroad, according to the Census Bureau. But only a small fraction were born in countries affected by the temporary ban [Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen].

    As of 2012, there were 781,235 residents of the US who were born in countries affected by the ban — just 2% of all immigrants.

    Most immigrated long ago. Census Bureau data analysed by Pew Research Center reveals that a third of US residents who immigrated from the Middle East did so before 1990.

    Pew’s analysis also shows that many immigrants from the region now work in management (11%), healthcare (11%) or education (8%) — only 1% were unemployed as of 2012. Some have been able to become US citizens; only half of all US immigrants were naturalized as of 2012.


  17. blf says

    There is an interesting letter in the Grauniad (quoted in full):

    Trump’s executive order to ban entry of Muslims from seven countries has inevitable consequences for the governance of international sport. As long as the US bans entry of individual athletes and teams from the affected nations, the US must itself be suspended from competition. This applies to Fifa [soccer], the International Olympic Committee, the International Association of Athletics Federations and others.

    To allow the US to continue to participate in competitions that it would prevent others from taking part in, even if only potentially, is fundamentally incompatible with the principles of fair play. The ruling bodies of all international sporting associations of which the US is a member must take a clear stand against the injury to other members.
      –Dr Murray Simpson (School of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee)

    Dr Simpson has, to the best of my knowledge, a point that the USA must be suspended. Money, however, talks, so I would not be too surprised if the IOC (Olympics) and Fifa, at least, ignore or finagle the point.

  18. KG says

    Benoît Hamon, the leftist candidate in the French Socialist Party’s presidential primary run-off, has won a clear victory over the rightist Manuel Valls, with 58.65% of the vote. There are reports of irregularities, but it seems most unlikely these could have changed the result. After the candidates debated durign the two rounds, polls showed far more viewers had found Hamon convincing than Valls.

  19. KG says

    I’ve added my name – although I must admit the potential embarrassment to the Queen of a state visit, cited in the petition as the reason for banning it, seems to me one of its few advantages! (To be clear, the petition does not call for an official visit to be banned, but on a state visit, Trump would stay in Buckingham Palace, meet the Queen, etc.)

  20. says

    although I must admit the potential embarrassment to the Queen of a state visit, cited in the petition as the reason for banning it, seems to me one of its few advantages!


  21. says

    A statement from the San Francisco International airport:

    […] We appreciate all those who have so passionately expressed their concerns over the President’s Executive Order relating to immigration. We share these concerns deeply, as our highest obligation is to the millions of people from around the world whom we serve. Although Customs and Border Protection services are strictly federal and operate outside the jurisdiction of all U.S. airports, including SFO, we have requested a full briefing from this agency to ensure our customers remain the top priority. We are also making supplies available to travelers affected by this Executive Order, as well as to the members of the public who have so bravely taken a stand against this action by speaking publicly in our facilities.

  22. hjhornbeck says

    A number of Twitter accounts claiming to be White House insiders have popped up and disappeared over the last week. It’s impossible to verify their accuracy, so be wary of anything they say. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s the latest from one of those accounts.

    POTUS fully overwhelmed after full week on the job. Things spilling over into out of office lives for everyone.

    POTUS fuming after judge order last night. Suggested having agents to “do it anyway” & ignore order. Preibus said to be at wits end.

    COS Priebus said to be using appearance on MTP this morning to guide decision to stay or go. Positive panic by many at prospect of his resg.

    @CassForHillary Priebus is only thing holding WH together. If he resigns then Bannon is left in full control of running White House. #panic

    NSC fiasco an #UnholyTrinity plan gone wrong. Hope was restructure would minimize influence of POTUS ill advised foreign policy ideas.

    POTUS instead removed the wrong people from NSC and inserted Bannon. Concern is that POTUS will take ready, fire, aim approach to for pol.

    Priebus calling @MeetThePress interview “disaster.” POTUS appears uncooperative on fixing EO problems, more worried about press coverage.

    #UnholyTrinity frustrated with POTUS idea to screen visitors for websites they frequent, notiing that malicious actors would just lie.

    POTUS insists that if they don’t confess sites, they’ll be denied entry. Doesn’t seem to recognize that there would be no way to know.

    Concern is that attempting a measure that is almost impos. to enforce will deepen public anger. POTUS believes people will “love it.”

  23. blf says

    The French presidential wingnut candidate, François Fillon, is melting down, François Fillon warns: ‘Leave my wife out of the election’:

    Candidate for French presidency hits back at ‘fake job’ claims as fresh questions surface over alleged misuse of public funds

    The beleaguered rightwing French presidential candidate François Fillon has used a speech at a Paris rally to hit back at claims that his wife was paid €500,000 over eight years for a fake job as a parliamentary assistant, warning: “Leave my wife out of the election.”

    Monsieur wingnut, no-one is attacking your wife per se, they are questioning what she did to “earn” that suspiciously large salary, paid for with public monies.

    But just as Fillon attempted to kickstart his flagging presidential campaign, he faced fresh questions over alleged misuse of public funds.

    The French investigative website Mediapart and the Journal du Dimanche claimed that between 2005 and 2007 Fillon had pocketed money from a kitty of funds earmarked for paying assistants in the French senate.

    For four years, a French legal investigation has been under way into an allegedly widespread practice in which funds left over from senators’ allowances for paying assistants were put into a kitty and then a part of the money was siphoned off to the senators.


    Mediapart claimed he had “siphoned off” about €25,000 (£21,000) from funds earmarked for assistants in the French upper house.

    The Journal du Dimanche alleged he had written seven cheques to himself between 2005 and 2007 for “a total of around €21,000”.


    On television last week, Fillon rebutted the allegations against his wife and revealed that he had also paid two of his children from state funds for work for him when he was a senator, adding he hired them for their “competence” as lawyers. But his children were students at the time and did not qualify as lawyers until a later date.


    The issue is potentially so damaging because Fillon’s austerity plan for France hangs on his own carefully crafted reputation for righteousness. It will be much harder for Fillon to convince a cash-strapped electorate of his controversial plans to slash 500,000 public-sector jobs and make state workers put in more hours for less pay if questions persist about his family’s privileged access to jobs paid for by their taxes.

    The currently-governing leftists seem to have no chance, with the conventional view being the next French President will be either wingnut Fillon or nazi Le Pen. Hence, in that conventional view, if Fillon self-immolates, then the already worrying-large risk of a full nazi takeover presumably increases.

    I say “conventional view” because there are some seemingly-plausible candidates outside the two main parties and the le penazis who are making themselves known; the current fad is Emmanuel Macron, who I know nothing about (he’s supposedly pro-EU, “socially liberal”, but falsely claims he’s an outsider).

    On the other hand, the le penazis are also being investigated(?) over claims of improper use of funds (apologies for lack of details or a link).

    The first round of French election is in late-April, with the deciding second round in early-May.

  24. blf says

    Trump would stay in Buckingham Palace

    As far as I am aware, that would be very unusual. If memory serves me right, Nicolae Ceaușescu did stay there — at his insistence — but I believe that was rather exceptional.

    I’m undecided if hair furor trum-prat would do a Ceaușescu or not; I can imagine it both ways…

    (I think the President normally stays at Winfield House, the US Ambassador’s residence.)

  25. says

    Yesterday, during a background press briefing with a “senior administration official,” this claim was made:

    […] that Trump advisers had been in contact for many weeks with key State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials about Friday’s executive order.

    “Everyone who needed to know was informed,” the official said.

    Who disputes that claim? Everyone else.

    It wasn’t until Friday … that career homeland security staff were allowed to see the final details of the order … The policy team at the White House … largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance … Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized … the White House did not seek the legal guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that interprets the law for the executive branch … career officials in charge of enforcing the executive order were not fully briefed on the specifics until Friday … after the Friday afternoon announcement, administration officials at the White House took several hours to produce text of the action … unsure at first who was covered in the action, and a list of impacted countries was only produced later on Friday night …


  26. says

    As noted up-thread, Trump is hosting a movie screening of “Finding Dory” today.

    Here is some of the feedback from Twitter:

    Finding Dory is the story of someone unlawfully detained while trying to visit her family.
    Trump is screening “Finding Dory” today: the story of a foreigner entering the U.S. without authorization to reunite with her parents
    Finding Dory is mostly about a family reuniting across a border that wouldn’t be blocked by a wall
    At 3pm, Trump is hosting a screening of Finding Dory, a movie about what happens when you’re separated from your family.

    Let that sink in.

  27. says

    The WSJ obtained a memo from the US embassy in Iraq:

    A memo sent by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the State Department and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal showed that diplomats appeared blindsided by the order issued on Friday and its breadth. They said it would be felt disproportionately in Iraq and urgently warned that it could have do lasting harm to bilateral relations in the one nation on the list that the U.S. considers a close ally.

    The memo, dated Saturday, detailed a list of potential repercussions that could arise from Mr. Trump’s order….

  28. says

    Democratic elected officials are planning a protest for Monday:

    Congressional Democrats will hold a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court on Monday to call on President Donald Trump to rescind his executive order banning immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will lead the protest, which is slated to start at 6 p.m. Both the House and Senate will be in session with votes scheduled around that time.

    […] Lawmakers will be flanked by local refugees and will hold a candelight vigil at the end of the demonstration, according to a Senate advisory sent to members. […]


  29. says

    This is a followup to comment 40, and, in a way, a followup to comment 42, in which SC noted that U.S. Embassy personnel in Baghdad were also blindsided.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday morning that he and officials running his city’s airports received “no guidance” on President Donald Trump’s new immigration order.

    “There was no guidance. And obviously, there was not clear guidance to federal officials around the country. That’s why there is so much confusion here,” de Blasio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” […]

    “This is a city with 800,000 people who are permanent residents of the United States of America. This sends a horrible message to them that for no reason whatsoever they could be detained or sent back to their home country, even though they are now part of the life of the United States,” the Democratic mayor said. […]


  30. hjhornbeck says

    If the rumour mill is to be believed, Trump isn’t happy over this.

    U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement today on the President’s executive order on immigration:

    “Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

    “It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

    “Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

    “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

  31. blf says

    Hair furor trum-prat’s twitter bilge, presumably sent by himself, is the usual delusional (this is two communiques combined):

    The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong – they are sadly weak on immigration. The two Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.

    That is presumably in response to Republicans call Trump’s Muslim ban ‘a self-inflicted wound’ (“Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticised the executive order, as well as some of Trump’s inner circle”).

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (21:51 mark).

  32. says

    I know people have mentioned this many times, but I’m just astounded. The US has 5,000 troops in Iraq right now. They’re fighting with Iraqis to liberate Mosul from ISIS, and until now advancing in the city. Even if the Trumpists don’t give a shit about Muslim immigrants or refugees or the people of Mosul or the Iraqi or Kurdish forces, this ban has put thousands of US troops (and not just those in Iraq) in immediate fucking danger. In this policy and its implementation, they’ve shown that they don’t care about them or their families.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    16 state attorneys general have issued a statement against the EO.

    As I expected, the IL AG signed the statement. Maybe she will run for governor in two years.

  34. says

    Union statement:

    Joint Press Release Between Border Patrol and ICE Councils

    As representatives of the nation’s Frontline immigration officers and agents responsible for enforcing our laws and protecting our borders, we fully support and appreciate President Trump’s swift and decisive action to keep the American people safe and allow law enforcement to do its job. We applaud the three executive orders he has issued to date, and are confident they will make America safer and more prosperous. Morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the orders. The men and women of ICE and Border Patrol will work tirelessly to keep criminals, terrorists, and public safety threats out of this country, which remains the number one target in the world – and President Trump’s actions now empower us to fulfill this life saving mission, and it will indeed save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

  35. blf says

    New York Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman demanded in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs that they “describe specific steps they are taking to ensure compliance” with the Brooklyn federal court’s injunction on Trump’s executive order.

    “My office is receiving alarming reports that DHS and CBP are not complying with the federal injunction and restraining order and are instead planning to remove from the United States individuals specifically protected by the terms of the federal court order”, said Schneiderman.

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (23:11 mark, quoted in full).

  36. blf says

    Merkel ‘explains’ refugee convention to Trump in phone call:

    German chancellor speaks to president amid international anger over US ban on people from seven Muslim countries


    A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the Geneva refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.


    “She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.

    “The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

    The French president, François Hollande, said on Saturday that “when [Trump] rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him”.

    Hollande said that in an unstable and uncertain world, “withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response”, adding that defending democratic principles required compliance with “the principles on which it is founded, in particular the acceptance of refugees”.

    In a tweet, Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said his country was committed to the values that bind Europe: “Open society; plural identity; no discrimination.”

    However, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party expressed admiration for Trump’s entry ban.

    “What Trump’s doing on the other side of the ocean, I’d like it done here, too,” said Matteo Salvini.


    I have not seen any English-language report at a reliable source (only at RT (ex–Russia Today) and breitbart), but there is a possibility Marine Le Pen has voiced approval of the ban.

  37. blf says

    While searching France24 (an English-language site which is, broadly, France’s attempt at the BBC World Service, and is fairly reliable) for a clew on Le Pen’s stated position, if any, on hair furor trum-prat’s Muslim ban (didn’t find anything), I stumbled across this amusing video, France: When French politicians speak English!

  38. says

    If the rumour mill is to be believed, Trump isn’t happy over this.


    The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong – they are sadly weak on immigration. The two Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.

    Tragically, it interfered with his enjoyment of Finding Dory.

  39. hjhornbeck says

    Back on the 21st, the March for Science posted an update.

    We take seriously your concerns that for this march to be meaningful, we must centralize diversity of the march’s organizers at all levels of planning. Diversity must also be reflected in the march itself — both through the mission statement and those who participate.

    We hear you, and thank you for your criticism. As the March for Science, we are committed to centralizing, highlighting, standing in solidarity with, and acting as accomplices with black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, indigenous, non-Christian, women, people with disabilities, poor, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, non-binary, agender, and intersex scientists and science advocates. We must work to make science available to everyone and encouraging individuals of all backgrounds to pursue science careers, especially in advanced degrees and positions.

    Excellent, they plan to make their march inclusive. Who could possibly object?

    @sapinker (Steven Pinker)

    Scientists’ March on Washington plan compromises its goals with anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric
    12:14 PM – 29 Jan 2017

    Oh right, I always forget about the bigots.

  40. blf says

    Canada just sent a very big, and very welcome, “feck you!” to hair furor:

    This in from Associated Press, Canada will offer temporary residency permits to any trapped travelers:

    Canada’s immigration minister says the country will offer temporary residency permits to travelers who become stranded here by President [sic] Donald Trump’s order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

    Ahmed Hussen is a Somali refugee who was recently named Canada’s new immigration minister. He said Sunday no one is currently stranded at the country’s airports by the ban.

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (23:23 mark, quoted in full).

  41. says

    Congratulations to MSNBC for sticking with coverage of events today (and most of yesterday). Ari Melber this afternoon is doing a solid job and has had a good line-up of guests.

  42. blf says

    The Guardian view on Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim orders: not in our name (editorial):

    The US president’s immigration orders are cruel, stupid and un-American. […]

    Donald Trump has been president of the United States for 10 days. Many were prepared to give Mr Trump a chance. But even they must conclude he has been in office 10 days too long. Americans did a dreadful thing by electing Mr Trump. But the reality of it is only beginning to hit home. It is not his words that matter, awful though they are on subjects such as torture, but his actions. These raise urgent questions about whether America can afford to have such a president governing in such a way for four years — and how things may realistically change.

    On Friday, Holocaust Memorial Day […] Mr Trump crossed a line that should not be crossed. He signed an executive order banning Syrian refugees indefinitely and everyone from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States for 90 days. It was a cruel, stupid and bigoted act, designed to hurt and divide. Hundreds of people have already been detained. It was also cowardly, as bullies’ actions sometimes are. Mr Trump’s Muslim ban — because that is in practice what it is — avoids predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan with deep terrorist connections, and ones such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Emirates in which Mr Trump has business interests.

    The United States is a nation of laws, of immigrants and of freedoms. Much of the world still looks to it as a beacon. Mr Trump’s order violates all three identities, and douses the beacon. The order has been stayed by a judge in New York. But the stay is temporary. Mr Trump is not going to stop there. His instinct, to which on past intemperate experience he is likely to succumb, will be to react with further cruelty, stupidity and bigotry. […]

    The executive order has backfired. The reaction against it in the US has been inspiring. The legal action sends a vital message about due process. So do the rallies and welcoming demonstrations at airports, which appear to be as spontaneous as anything can be in the modern world. The big challenge for the US now is political. Will anti-Trump Republicans stand up for law, justice and order, or will they bow the knee? Will Democrats mount an effective opposition? This is a stand up and be counted moment for all, and both things need to happen. Both sides should remember the concentration camp survivor Martin Niemöller’s words about the Nazis. “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out … Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”


  43. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    I got to the protests late, but there were still some chanting outside the hotel. My favorite: “No justice no sleep!”

    Walked over to the White House, but by the time I got there the protests were mostly done, but there were still some people hanging about. Some nice signs left on the fence in front of the Treasury building (“Build a wall around your ego”).

  44. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Evidently the Koch Brothers don’t think much of Trump’s executive order banning people from certain countries.

    Charles Koch first likened candidate Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigrants to something Adolf Hitler would have done in Nazi Germany.
    The billionaire industrialist and his chief lieutenants offered a more delicate response this weekend when asked about President Trump’s plan to block immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. They described Trump’s plan as “the wrong approach” that violated its dedication to “free and open societies.”

    Sounds like republican infighting may be happening.

  45. blf says

    An Iranian man who holds a US visa who was barred entry to LA airport in the wake of the Trump ban has won a court injunction “staying his removal from the US, and ordering his release from the custody of the Department of Homeland Security”.

    Ali Khoshbakhti Vayeghan brought the case at the US district court in California after being sent back to Dubai. From there he was to be removed to Iran.

    But the federal judge Dolly Gee found that the ban “violates the Establishment Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and his rights to Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution”.

    It ordered the the homeland department to allow him back into the US.

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (01:26 mark).

  46. blf says

    A bit more of a follow-up on the Ali Hamedani (Iranian-born BBC reporter) incident (see @7 and @19). There were apparently a number of protesters waiting to welcome him, who had been following his story on twitter. Some follow-up tweets:

    The funniest story was 4 an Israeli guy who was born in Tehran. He was stopped and questioned for almost an hour. Wanted his Iranian pass

    When phone was siezed it took me a few mins to remember here is the US and no one can question me about my viewes. He was reading my tweets.

  47. se habla espol says

    I just sent my rep, Jason Chaffetz, an email:

    Is it yet time to start impeachment proceedings, or will it take more Imperial Decrees?

  48. hjhornbeck says

    Right, so I’ve been reading some depressing things. First off, I’m seeing rumblings that Trump admin is deliberately being provocative.

    With the #MuslimBan, Bannon et al chose to do something overtly unConstitutional that they knew would be a flash-point for the left.

    They *rushed* this through on purpose, overriding objections and failing to coordinate with intelligence or immigration officials.

    From their actions, we can infer the #MuslimBan has a purpose that suits their strategic goals and has nothing to do with national security.

    A #MuslimBan is a perfect vehicle for them: it’s a flashpoint for opposition from the left and a dog whistle for support from the right.

    The #MuslimBan furthers domestic division: it makes many within the U.S. see protesters as aligned with who they perceive to be “the enemy.” […]

    Like other ascendant authoritarian regimes, the Trump Admin WANTS an excuse to put down dissent. And to do so violently.

    This gets to the typical arc of authoritarian leaders: 1) get power, 2) extract as much money as possible, then 3) escape. Step one is well in play.

    the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

    Part of getting power is keeping it, and the usual method is to remove checks and balances and narrow down the number of people who deal with the leader (and thus have a chance of opposing them).

    There appears to be a very tight “inner circle,” containing at least Trump, Bannon, Miller, Priebus, Kushner, and possibly Flynn, which is making all of the decisions. Other departments and appointees have been deliberately hobbled, with key orders announced to them only after the fact, staff gutted, and so on. Yesterday’s reorganization of the National Security Council mirrors this: Bannon and Priebus now have permanent seats on the Principals’ Committee; the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have both been demoted to only attending meetings where they are told that their expertise is relevant; the Secretary of Energy and the US representative to the UN were kicked off the committee altogether (in defiance of the authorizing statute, incidentally).

    I am reminded of Trump’s continued operation of a private personal security force, and his deep rift with the intelligence community. Last Sunday, Kellyanne Conway (likely another member of the inner circle) said that “It’s really time for [Trump] to put in his own security and intelligence community,” and this seems likely to be the case.

    The critical missing piece is the money. I’ve seen small things that might add up, like selling off national parks or raising campaign funds (see my #10, above), but this makes those look like chump change.

    On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying” for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies.

    Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

    Conclusive? No. But it raises some very interesting questions for journalists to investigate.

    Now we just have to figure out step three. Impeachment, followed by a swift exit from the country, is my leading theory at the moment.

  49. hjhornbeck says

    I just had to double-check some of those details, and it fits. Here’s Reuters.

    More than a month after Russia announced one of its biggest privatizations since the 1990s, selling a 19.5 percent stake in its giant oil company Rosneft, it still isn’t possible to determine from public records the full identities of those who bought it. […]

    “It is the largest privatization deal, the largest sale and acquisition in the global oil and gas sector in 2016,” Putin said. It was also one of the biggest transfers of state property into private hands since the early post-Soviet years, when allies of President Boris Yeltsin took control of state firms and became billionaires overnight.

    And on page 30 of that intelligence dossier.

    2. In terms of the substance of their discussion, SECHIN’s associate said that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate western sactions imposed on the company, that he offered PAGE/TRUMP’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return. PAGE had expressed interest and confirmed that were TRUMP elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.

  50. blf says

    Lies continue…

    Donald Trump has claimed that the problems seen at US airports over the weekend were a result of computer outages and protesters rather than his travel ban.

    Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage


    Delta Airlines did have a problem on Sunday night, and the FAA grounded all Delta domestic flights for about two-and-one-half hours. The problems at the airports did not occur only on Sunday, and on Sunday, noticeably happened during daylight (e.g., see the many posted photographs / videos).

    The numbers are also probably bullshite — hair furor lies all the time — but even if not, SO WHAT? Why does blocking & threatening to deport, solely on the basis of their presumed religion, a few hundred probably entirely valid travelers out of several hundred thousand people make it Ok?

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (12:28 mark), and Computer outage grounds Delta flights in U.S.

  51. blf says

    Starbucks vows to hire 10,000 refugees after Trump travel ban:

    Coffee chain unveils plan to hire staff first in US and then across its global operations amid ‘deep concern’ over president’s order

    Starbucks has promised to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in response to Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees access to the US and banning entry for anyone from seven majority Muslim countries.

    Howard Schultz, the coffee chain’s chief executive, said he had “deep concern” about the president’s order and would be taking “resolute” action, starting with offering jobs to refugees.

    “We are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he told employees in a strongly-worded note.

    He added that the move was to make clear the company “will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each passing day.”

    Schultz said the initial focus would be in the US and for refugees who had served as interpreters for the US military […]

    Whilst I myself am not a huge fan of Starbucks — I take particular exception to the way they tend-to drive out local, idiosyncratic cafés — this seems helpful and positive.

  52. blf says

    In the UK, PM Theresa May is in very hot water, even with at least some of her nasty party co-conspirators & kleptocrats. As a result…

    A Downing Street statement said Theresa May was “very happy” to invite President Donald Trump for a state visit on behalf of the Queen. […]

    This is being laughed at, quite rightly, e.g.:

    Correction: it actually is all the Queen’s fault. PM just a humble messenger. Boris is off the hook. Until the next clarification.

    Boris Johnson is the current UK foreign secretary, and a trum-pratian–scale liar. Along with Nigel Farage, the then- and sometimes-again-leader of the UK facists (and a big fan of teh trum-prat), he is one of the main wingnuts responsible for the brexit disaster.

    All from the Granuiad’s live blog (13:20 mark).

  53. blf says

    Hair furor is flailing:

    Where was all the outrage from Democrats and the opposition party (the media) when our jobs were fleeing our country?

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (14:47 mark).

    And just in (14:54 mark, quoted in full):

    Hundreds of foreign service officers and diplomats are reported to be backing a dissent memo expressing opposition to Trump’s executive order banning refugees, according to Law Fare.

    It quotes the memo as saying:

    A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travellers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travellers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer. Moreover, such a policy runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play, and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants. Alternative solutions are available to address the risk of terror attacks which are both more effective and in line with Department of State and American values.

    And then (14:56 mark):

    Seven human rights organisations have warned that the operation of the Trump ban at Ireland’s two major airports could violate both Irish and European human rights law, writes Henry McDonald in Dublin.

    The groups who include Amnesty International Ireland, the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and the Irish Council of Civil Liberties have called today for an “urgent review” of how US Homeland Security operates at Dublin and Shannon airports.

    Currently Homeland Security officials vet travellers from Ireland to the United States before they board transatlantic flights. […]

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Another move by the Koch Kartel to oppose Trumpian policies. They oppose any “border tax”.

    Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is launching a campaign to sink a border tax under consideration by Republican leaders in Congress, a move that could complicate the lawmakers’ efforts to find a way to pay for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
    Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group founded by Charles Koch and his brother David, plans to use its network of wealthy political donors and activists to kill the proposal, which aims to raise $1.2 trillion over 10 years on goods coming into the United States, according to officials from the group, which gathered this weekend for a conference.
    Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing the tax as part of a broader overhaul of the U.S. tax code.
    The White House has given mixed signals on whether Trump supports the approach, but proponents say revenue collected from the border tax could finance Trump’s drive to build a wall along the southwestern U.S. border. Proponents also say it would discourage U.S. manufacturers from moving abroad.
    On Thursday, AFP sent a letter expressing its opposition to the border tax to a House panel in charge of writing tax legislation.
    AFP Chief Executive Officer Luke Hilgemann, in an interview, called the measure “a massive tax increase” on U.S. consumers, who would pay more for foreign goods. He urged Ryan to “go back to the drawing board.”
    AFP and its offshoot organizations have become a powerful force in U.S. politics, bolstering candidates and issues on federal and state levels.

    No wonder the *President* sounds so defensive….

  55. blf says

    Statisticians fear Trump White House will manipulate figures to fit narrative:

    Experts, including former chief statistician of the US and outgoing head of Bureau of Labor Statistics, see threats to system of public, accurate data

    US statisticians are concerned that Donald Trump’s administration might suppress or manipulate public statistics that don’t fit his narrative of the truth […]. In a series of interviews, individuals who have recently left high-level positions at federal statistical agencies expressed worry that the administration may stop collecting and publishing data on subjects such as abortion, racial inequality and poverty.

    “We should all be starting from the same numbers. I think that’s a fear that many of us have at this point — it’s that picking and choosing your numbers to suit your politics is not the way that we ought to be doing it,” said Katherine Wallman, chief statistician of the United States from 1992 to 3 January of this year.

    Wallman, like other statisticians the Guardian spoke to, believes that a number system which consists of accurate, publicly available government data is currently under threat.

    In a press conference on Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told journalists: The president, he’s not focused on statistics as much as he is on whether or not the American people are doing better as a whole. But without statistics, measuring how “the American people are doing” is simply a matter of opinion.

    Indeed, I am reminded of William Thomson (Lord Kelvin):

    I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

    Now we return from the sane to the rent-seeking delusional:

    It’s not the first time the president’s team has questioned public data. In August, the then presidential candidate himself described the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers as phoney, claiming: The 5% figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics. In the same speech, Trump suggested alternative data, adding: The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42%.


    The most frequently cited [way of influencing public data] is simply the defunding of specific statistical programs. This is already under way. Two Republican-sponsored bills are currently attempting to nullify a 2015 housing regulation aimed at addressing racial segregation in cities such as Baltimore and Chicago, simply by halting data collection. The new bills, which together are titled the Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017, state that no Federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities.

    That’s not unlike France, which actually has a more extreme version of such silliness. Here in France, collecting such “racial disparity” statistics is actually illegal, not just unfunded. The reasoning is because the French constitution guarantees equality for all, there cannot be any inequality, so mumble mumble mumble it must never be measured. (Or some such nonsense like that, The Economist explained it as “Under its egalitarian ethos, [France] treats all citizens the same, refusing to group them into ethnic categories. It is forbidden by law to collect statistics referring to ‘racial or ethnic origin’.”) Most research on the subject uses proxy or subjective measures, e.g., surnames or appearance to indicate possible ethnicity. It’s utterly stupid. (To be fair, there is also a dislike to ethnic “classification” dating back to at least the Vichy regime, for quite understandable reasons.)

    Defunding public data is also an effective tool in silencing activists. As a former Census Bureau employee explained: “You can’t talk about discrimination if there’s no data there to support it.” […]

    Unfortunately, there is delusion in statistics-land:

    [… M]any statisticians believe that economic indicators are likely to be protected from possible manipulation by the administration because the business community relies so heavily on accurate numbers. Indeed, Erica Groshen, the outgoing head of the BLS, expressed the most optimism of any of the statisticians interviewed.

    For feck’s sake! It’s sensible to assume these are intelligent, informed, people who also understand interconnections and cause→effect, so how the hell they can think the dalekocracy can selectively manipulate data puzzles me. Sounds like they need a refresher course on the uselessness of Soviet statistics.

    Funding isn’t the only concern, though. One economist who worked at a federal statistical agency from 2009 until 2016, and who also asked not to be named, explained: “The administration can and probably will start adding onerous requirements for vetting before information is released to the public.”

    Wallman has thoughts about what that vetting could look like. In her 25 years as chief statistician, Wallman said she was not aware of efforts by politicians to change the data, “but then there’s the interpretation and presentation of the data and I am aware of occasions where policy folks have thought it was appropriate to change the things that were featured in a press release, or take out specific bullets that they thought were unattractive, or change the timing of the release because it might be inconvenient in terms of a policy that a cabinet official wished to announce.” […]

    There are also concerns about the increasing involvement of the private sector in public data collection. […]

    The long article fhen goes on to mention, albeit not in any detail, fangling the numbers, concluding with: “As a former Census Bureau statistician explained, once you change the statistics, ‘you can write your own narrative. You can tell people how sick they are or how safe they are’.”

  56. says

    SC @60, I thought that “WWIII” thing coming from Trump was weird, just a bit off. Now I understand. It is a common phrase from Kremlin propaganda. Now it makes sense. Thanks for providing context.

    SC @62, MSNBC did a great job. Melber seemed to get a bit tired and cranky at times (understandable), but his interviews were well done. Now if we could just get more than 5% of Democratic Party voters to watch MSNBC. Joy Reid’s “AM Joy” show has been trending on twitter lately, so that’s a good sign

    SC @64, OMG. Kellyanne Conway needs a vacation. She is now in full Trumpian mode when it comes to wanting revenge against people who “talked smack all day long about Donald Trump.” Why does she think they should be fired?

    And why does she equate praising Trump with turning a profit—why does she equate that with achieving what she sees as the ultimate goal of media, to turn a profit? Sure, media outlets want to turn a profit, but serious news organizations also have a mandate to inform the public, to speak the truth, to serve their function as part of the free press.

    Conway even brings up “protect their shareholders” as a higher goal, one that news organizations criticizing Trump are not meeting. She is an accountant.

    I’ve long thought that the Trump campaign and the Trump presidency were bad for Kellyanne’s health. Now she has confirmed that:

    If you’re part of Team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day.[…] I haven’t slept in months.

    And, of course, she throws this in, “I believe in a full and fair press.” No, she doesn’t. And she just explained why she doesn’t.

  57. hjhornbeck says

    I couldn’t leave that comment alone, I had to take time out to write it up. I think I got some details wrong in said comment, anyway, so consider this a semi-correction.

    But in the meantime I hate to inform you this is no longer a Muslim ban.

    There are reports of customs asking citizens if they’re Christian, detaining Mexican green card holders, & looking at people’s social media.

    US *citizens* with dual citizenship are being detained. CBP is refusing to follow court orders and release detained green card holders.

    This has already gone past a #MuslimBan. It is quickly becoming a ban of anyone who doesn’t support the Trump regime.

    American citizens are being detained and asked if they love their country.

    People being denied entry bc of the #MuslimBan are being charged with violating immigration law & given 5-year bans

    Breitbart – whose former editor has a seat on the National Security Council – is framing protesters as terrorists.

    This American citizen was asked if he is Christian, questioned about his social media usage, & his passport seized.

    Attorneys at both O’Hare and LAX reported Mexican nationals with valid visas being detained.

    American citizens are having their social media inspected by customs and border control.

    Permanent residents are being pressured to sign forms that “voluntarily” surrender their green cards.

    A Jordanian man is being deported despite Jordan not even being on the list of #MuslimBan countries.

    Customs agents are – possibly under direction from the White House – ignoring a court order.

    These violations are occurring in the 1st week of a man who supports revoking citizenship for political dissidents

    These are stunning violations of our rights and this has all happened within two days. Fascism moves very quickly.

    I’ve only given a small sample of that thread.

  58. blf says

    A follow-up to @82’s dissent memo, from the Granuiad’s updated live blog, Trump travel ban: president defends order amid worldwide controversy (new URL, 17:03 mark, text quoted in full):

    State Dept circulating ‘dissent channel’ memo against Trump’s travel ban

    A “Dissent Channel” memo slamming Trump’s executive orders as “counter to core American values” and saying the changes will instead aid terrorists is circulating amongst State Department staffers, reports the Washington Post.

    The memo, which is titled “Alternatives to Closing Doors in Order to Secure Our Borders” according to the draft published in the Washington Post, is being signed by State Department staff.

    Then, it will be sent officially through the Dissent Channel, a channel used to communicate dissenting opinions on government policy without fear of retribution.

    Trump’s travel ban will “sour relations” with the named countries and also others in the Muslim world, says the memo, noting that it will “increase anti-American sentiment”. The memo also states the US will suffer economically and that there is a humanitarian responsibility to allow travel for needs such as medical needs or to attend funerals.

    “Looking beyond its effectiveness, this ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold,” it reads.

    Instead, the memo calls for wider vetting of people from all countries, including holders of US passports, not just the seven Muslim-majority countries named.

    Steve Herman, a diplomatic reporter reporter at Voice of America, published a statement from the State Department confirming the authenticity of the memo.

    Read the whole draft memo here [PDF].

  59. says

    blf @79, Andrea Mitchell suggested this morning that Trump’s team needs to provide him with “better facts.” I think she was trying to be polite about Trump’s obvious lie in blaming airport chaos on a DELTA computer outage.

    Good news: The ACLU normally raises about $4 million per year through online donations. Over this past weekend, the ACLU raised $24 million.

  60. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, the really old cancel-two-to-get-one idea is the latest dalekocracy upchuck (exterminate! order):

    Trump just signed another new executive order, this one on the theme of cutting regulation.

    The purpose of the order states that:

    for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.

    This nonsense is so old I cannot recall when I first heard it, back in Addled Raygun’s time, perhaps?

    From the updated Grauniad live blog (17:20 mark).

  61. says

    We’ve heard Steve Bannon call the media “the opposition party” and now Trump is doing the same. See blf’s comment 82 for Trump’s statement.

    Trump has now repeated the phrase several times. So this is their new meme. And they are pushing it hard.

    Yeah, I think the media is the opposition party in many ways. I’m not talking about all of them … but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, total deceit and deception. It makes them certainly partially the opposition party, absolutely.

    Kellyanne Conway’s rant was part of the effort to establish the new meme. (Comments and 64 and 85)

    For contrast, here is how President Obama viewed the press (excerpted from his final White House press conference):

    I have enjoyed working with all of you. That does not, of course, mean that I’ve enjoyed every story that you have filed, but that’s the point of this relationship: You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re not supposed to be complimentary, but you’re supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here.

    And you have done that. And you’ve done it, for the most part, in ways that I could appreciate for fairness even if I didn’t always agree with your conclusions. And having you in this building has made this place work better. It keeps us honest. It makes us work harder. It made us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we’re able to deliver on what’s been requested by our constituents.

    As Steve Benen noted:

    […] it’s notable that Trump’s two most spirited feuds in recent months have been with American news organizations and American intelligence agencies. That’s not a coincidence: this is an administration that has a strained relationship with facts, which inevitably creates a degree of hostility between the Republican White House and those who challenge the conclusions Trump World embraces. […]

  62. says

    Trump does not understand his own executive orders, nor how visas work, nor how to punctuate statements written in the English language.

    Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,…..

    If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!

    We already covered the fact that the timing of the Delta computer outage does not match the timing of the chaos caused by the executive order.

    We’ve already covered the fact that the EO does deal effectively with preventing the entry of terrorists into the USA.

    Now let’s look at the claim that bad dudes (with incorrect usage of quote marks) would rush into the country. The twenty-point vetting process can take 24 months. No rushing there. Applying for a visa takes more than a week.

    And here’s the kicker, Trump already announced a ban on Muslims entering country on December 7, 2015. So, yeah, Trump gave the bad dudes a head’s up more than a year ago.

  63. blf says

    Good news: The ACLU normally raises about $4 million per year through online donations. Over this past weekend, the ACLU raised $24 million.

    And that $24m is in addition to the $15m donated after teh trum-prat’s election “win”.

    In addition, since the election, membership has doubled from less than 0,5m to 1m people.

    From the Washington Post, The ACLU says it got $24 million in online donations this weekend, six times its yearly average, which is no longer insisting I disable ad-blocking, so will start citing it again.

  64. says

    More on how Trump is using General Mattis as a prop and not as an advisor:

    Jim Mattis, the new secretary of defense, did not see a final version of the order until Friday morning, only hours before Mr. Trump arrived to sign it at the Pentagon.

    Mr. Mattis, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations, was not consulted by the White House during the preparation of the order and was not given an opportunity to provide input while the order was being drafted.

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

    As was noted in the previous chapter of this thread, Mattis stood behind and slightly to one side of Trump as cameras recorded Trump signing the executive order. Mattis smiled, but I have to wonder what he was thinking. To refresh our memories, here is what Mattis said six months ago in reference to Trump’s proposed Muslim ban:

    This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.

  65. says

    SC @94, I agree with you. MSNBC is giving Spicer (and the dubious “journalists” from rightwing outlets) a platform to air their lies. MSNBC should monitor the press conference and then present a summary afterward.

    On another subject, here is some pushback on Trump’s new directive from Democrats:

    This is a “Holy Crap” moment.

    That’s Representative Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, assessing Trump’s directive on the White House’s National Security Council.

    From the New York Times, this bears repeating:

    […] Bannon [was added to the Council] Saturday night in the form of an executive order giving the rumpled right-wing agitator a full seat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council — while downgrading the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, who will now attend only when the council is considering issues in their direct areas of responsibilities.

    It is a startling elevation of a political adviser, to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisers. […]

    Susan Rice, who formerly served as one of Obama’s National Security Advisors, called Trump’s EO “stone cold crazy.”

    As Steve Benen put it:

    […] Putting the former head of a right-wing website on the White House’s National Security Council is bonkers. Putting him on the National Security Council while removing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence is so plainly crazy that no one has been able to present a coherent defense. […]

    More from the New York Times:

    “The last place you want to put somebody who worries about politics is in a room where they’re talking about national security,” said Leon E. Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, defense secretary and C.I.A. director in two Democratic administrations.

    “I’ve never seen that happen, and it shouldn’t happen. It’s not like he has broad experience in foreign policy and national security issues. He doesn’t. His primary role is to control or guide the president’s conscience based on his campaign promises. That’s not what the National Security Council is supposed to be about.”

    That opinion was shared by President George W. Bush’s last chief of staff, Josh Bolten, who barred Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s political adviser, from N.S.C. meetings. A president’s decisions made with those advisers, he told a conference audience in September, “involve life and death for the people in uniform” and should “not be tainted by any political decisions.”

  66. blf says

    Some of those who voted for teh trum-prat are outraged (I won’t comment / snark on “what the feck where they ‘thinking’?”), Evangelical Christian leaders: travel ban violates religious beliefs on refugees:

    Some evangelical groups criticized executive order that privileges Christian refugees over Muslim ones, despite majority of followers voting for president


    “We oppose any religions test that would place the suffering of one people over another,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Other Christian leaders also came out strongly against the notion that the US should prioritize Christian refugees, which Trump said in an interview he wanted to do and which the executive order he signed on Friday couched in terms of preferring religious minorities from the seven Muslim-majority countries concerned.

    “We need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home and country,” Bishop Joe S Vásquez of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement on Friday. [clenched teeth! –blf]

    Church World Service, an aid group organized by mainstream Protestant churches, “denounces the prioritization of Christian refugees over Muslim refugees”, said Sarah Krause, a senior director at the group’s refugee program.


    Even the chief executive of Open Doors USA, a branch of an international organization that advocates for persecuted Christians, was critical.

    “President Trump rightly recognizes the incredible rise in persecution of Christians,” [I suspect ‘the incredible rise’ is moar of the usual rubbish –blf] David Curry said in a statement. “However, cherry-picking one religion over another only exacerbates the already severe worldwide trend of religious persecution.”


    More than other faith groups, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Eight in 10 cast a vote for him, according to exit poll data — support the president has touted proudly.


    Opposition to Trump’s refugee ban is, however, not universal among evangelical Christians. The Rev Franklin Graham […] defended the ban in a statement to the Guardian.

    I believe that all people coming from other countries need to be completely vetted,” he said. “We need to be sure their philosophies related to freedom and liberty are in line with ours.


    There is considerably more at the link, including but not limited to a letter being sent to teh trum-prat and Pence, reported as saying “The US refugee resettlement program’s screening process is already extremely thorough […] We believe that our nation can continue to be both compassionate and secure.”

  67. blf says

    Washington state launches lawsuit against Trump travel ban

    The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced on Monday his state was launching a legal challenge against Trump’s travel ban executive order, the first state to do so.

    “The judicial system is adept at protecting the constitution. President Trump may have his alternative facts, but alternative facts do not work in a courtroom,” said Inslee […].

    “This is real hope that this outrage will not stand… we’ve already seen the president retreat on the green-card holder issue… This is not over, people need to have hope,” he said.

    Inslee noted that since September 11, 2001 there have been 700,000 refugees admitted to the Untied States, there was not one single fatality from a crime by a refugee from any of the seven Muslim-majority countries as part of the ban.

    “That is a fact. And facts tend to become somewhat relevant in a courtroom, even if they aren’t in reality TV,” said Inslee.

    He said the classification of banning immigrants based their country of citizenship goes against state statures to stop discrimination based on place of birth or nationality.

    When asked about Trump’s power to make immigration decisions in his role as president, Ferguson said: “I understand that is their argument. But those powers are not without limit… we are confident that our lawsuit exposes those limits and makes it clear he is acting beyond those limits”.

    From the Grauniad’s updated live blog (18:39 mark).

  68. says

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer teared up at press conference he held to discuss Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    “This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American,” Schumer said with tears welling in his eyes. “It was implemented in a way that created chaos and confusion across the country, and it will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe who will do us harm.”

    Schumer said that Democrats would introduce legislation to reverse Trump’s order and said he would “fight with every fiber of my being until these orders are overturned.”

    Trump took the opportunity to make fun of Schumer, and he claimed that the tears were fake. You can watch the video at the link. Not fake.

    Trump’s assholery:

    I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I’m going to ask him who is his acting coach.

    ‘Cause I know him, I don’t see him as a crier. There’s about a 5 percent chance it was real. But I think they were fake tears.

  69. says

    Who loves Trump’s immigration ban? White supremacists do.

    From the Daily Stormer:

    “Glorious Leader Wreaks Havoc on Filthy Moslem Would-Be Invaders.” He added: “Of course, it is a Muslim ban. We just can’t call it that…yet. But it’s definitely subhuman raghead heathens at the shit end of Glorious Leader’s big stick, and they are taking a walloping, bigly.” The writer concluded by hoping that Trump would put Muslims in gas chambers:

    […] By the end of the month, we should have the rails laid, the camps built, and the gas flowing like Febreze.

    Site editor Andrew Anglin wrote that he is feeling “ecstatic joy” and feels “like crying.” From his post:

    So I’m really feeling a lot of different emotions right now. I feel ecstatic joy. I feel admiration for our GLORIOUS LEADER. I feel shame for having doubted him. I feel sadness at the loss my city has suffered. I feel rage at the people who allowed the home I knew as a child to be ravaged by these disgusting animals when they could have just as easily said “Somalians? uh, yeah, no – they’re totally banned.” […]

    Several white supremacist websites also urged Trump to arrest judges who issued stay orders related to Trump’s ban:

    […] arrest treasonous federal judge Ann Donnelly for trying to flood America with terrorists […] I am hereby calling on Trump to issue a warrant for her arrest. … Trump needs to arrest this woman immediately and have her charged with treason. If other judges protest, he needs to declare martial law and have them all rounded up and interned. We are at war here. This isn’t a game.

    The white supremacists also want Trump to raid the offices of the ACLU.

    More details can be found in this Media Matters article.

  70. hjhornbeck says

    Speaking of anti-Semitism, Sean Spicer had something to say at a press conference.

    ‏@maggieNYT (Maggie Haberman)

    Spicer w quite an alternative fact – that Trump has “by and large been praised for” statement omitting “Jews” from Holocaust.
    11:09 AM – 30 Jan 2017

    ‏@kurteichenwald (Kurt Eichenwald)

    I thought Holocaust statement leaving out Jews an oversight by a new Admin, figured theyd fix. Insted they double down & attack critics? Wow
    11:37 AM – 30 Jan 2017

    How, how, how does anyone screw up Holocaust Memorial Day and make it a controversy? It’s like throwing yourself to the floor and missing.
    11:42 AM – 30 Jan 2017

  71. says

    Through his spokesperson Kevin Lewis, former President Obama released a statement:

    President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizens and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day.

    Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.

    With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve hard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith.

    Glad to see him speaking out.

  72. says

    This is a followup to comments 64, 85 and 90.

    Wonkette covered Kellyanne Conway’s latest rant, and they added a new fact. Kellyanne has bitten her fingernails so far down that they are now infected.

    […] Poor thing. Lying all day and night, trying to convince the 36% of voters who still approve of Trump that he is a good and smart man, doing good and smart things. Meanwhile, she’s not sleeping, she’s eating nothing but York Peppermint Patties and Funyuns, and unless this photograph has been #AlternativeFacted by #FakeNews, girl is biting her fingernails down to the quick. They actually look infected?

    Alarming photo is available at the link.

  73. quotetheunquote says

    @ SC #108:

    I took a longer look at that list of FB “likes” attributed to this suspect; I wouldn’t make too much of them, because they also include late NDP leader Jack Layton (a very famous “lefy” in the Canadian context), actor Tom Hanks, and the nation of Costa Rica. In other words, they’re all over the place.


    (OTOH, he also “liked” John Paul II, to add to the “basket of deplorables” you listed above).

  74. says

    This is a followup to blf’s comment 89.

    Steve Benen discussed why Trump’s “one in, two out” plan to cut regulations is a childish mistake.

    During his campaign, Trump promised to push for a new requirement: “for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” Now Trump has signed another of his endless executive orders, trying to fulfill that promise. Benen points how stupid Trump’s approach is:

    […] the grown-up way of reducing regulations is to identify existing safeguards that an administration considers unnecessary or out of date and then eliminate them. Trump’s way of reducing regulations is an arbitrary little game he expects federal officials to play.

    Why should two unnamed and unidentified regulations be scrapped for every new regulation created? Because Donald Trump thinks that sounds cool. Why not one-to-one or three-to-one? Apparently because the president and his White House team concluded that “one in, two out” has a nice ring to it.

    There’s no substance, no policymaking process, no detailed scrutiny, not even someone in his administration to oversee regulatory policy. Instead, Trump World starts with the answer that seems appealing and then works backwards to find a silly policy stunt to deliver the outcome the White House likes. […]

    The Muslim ban is a poorly thought out gimmick that Trump liked during the campaign and is now implementing in a reckless and potentially dangerous way. The hiring freeze is a gimmick. Ordering military leaders to make up an ISIS plan for him is a gimmick.

    These aren’t ideas from a serious policymaker; they’re bumper-sticker slogans and short-cuts pretending to be public policies. Governance in a 21st-century superpower has to be better than this.

    I think Steve Benen is entering the “I’m frustrated” zone because he has to cover Trump’s childish moves every single day.

  75. blf says

    Lynna@111, I would not call the quoted non-expert speculation a “fact”.

    (Not even an “alternative fact”.)

  76. says

    Oh, my goodness. The Koch brothers are not supporting Trump’s immigration ban, (see Nerd’s comment 71. Goldman Sachs and other big players in the corporate world are also saying no to Trump.

    […] “This is not a policy we support,” Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said […] “I recognize that there is potential for disruption to the firm, and especially to some of our people and their families.”

    JPMorganChase chief executive Jamie Dimon […] reassured workers of the “unwavering commitment to the dedicated people working here” including those on sponsored visas possibly hit by the executive order.

    Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford and President and CEO Mark Fields also took issue with Trump’s order in a message to all employees: “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world,” they wrote. “That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

    GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have also been relatively outspoken in their criticism of Trump’s immigration action. Schultz said Starbucks would hire 10,000 political refugees globally. […]

    “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S,” Google said in a prepared statement. The company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in a memo to employees that it was “painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues.” […]

    Investors and executives who may support Trump’s plans to lower the corporate tax rate and eliminate regulations are now buffeted by haphazard implementation, the threat of trade wars and limitations on the movements of highly-skilled workers.

    “Broad-brush policies like this people barrier impede growth and certainly do not accelerate it,” Cumberland Advisors chief investment officer David Kotok wrote in a note to clients Sunday. “Trade barriers and tariffs in the goods market are unhealthy for economic growth. Trump’s order extends that barrier policy to services and to skills that are in the human capital realm. Trump has now set back the positive elements of global exchange in both goods and services.” […]

    Politico link

  77. says

    blf @114, good point. I should have identified that as speculation and/or satire, not fact.

    In other news, Trump’s team is backtracking, (again!), on the details of an executive order.

    President Donald Trump is adding the director of the CIA back to the National Security Council. […]


  78. says

    Surprise, surprise. Steve Mnuchin lied during his confirmation hearing:

    [Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury] flatly denied in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest used “robo-signing” on mortgage documents.

    But records show the bank utilized the questionable practice in Ohio.

    “The guy is just lying. There’s no other way to say it,” said Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. […]

    Columbus Dispatch link

    There were more than 1,900 cases of bulk-created, robo-signed documents in Ohio alone.

    From Texas:

    From her office in Austin, Texas, [Erica Johnson-Seck, vice president of OneWest] robo-signed an average of 750 foreclosure documents a week, according to a sworn deposition she gave in a Florida case in July 2009.

    Mnuchin and his cohorts were legally required to review foreclosure documents. They did not conduct those reviews.

  79. says

    Kirk Johnson wrote an article for The New Yorker that details the plight of a Yazidi refugee woman stranded at the airport thanks to Trump’s (and Steve Bannon’s) stupidity.

    This story shows Sean Spicer’s claim of slight “inconvenience” for some visa holders to be be what it is, a lie, a lie that shows Spicer is totally lacking in empathy.

  80. blf says

    Oxford dictionary considers including wave of Trumpian neologisms:

    Trumpertantrum, trumpkin and trumponomics are among a fresh crop of pejorative terms that may find a place in the OED, say lexicographers

    Mud-slinging by Donald Trump, as well as his supporters and critics, has not only affected political debate, it has created a vocabulary of insults that lexicographers are struggling to keep up with, as each side becomes more linguistically creative […]

    Trumponomics (the president’s economic policy), trumpertantrum (angry early-morning tweeting laced with innuendo and falsehood) and trumpkin (a pumpkin carved to resemble the former TV host) are among neologisms added to a watchlist of words that may be fast-tracked into the Oxford English Dictionary. […]

    […] Other Trumpian additions include: Trumpflation, the inflation analysts predict will be caused by the new administration’s economic policies; and Trumpist (a Trump supporter), Trumpette (a female Trumpist) and Trumpista (a rare Hispanic Trumpist).


  81. says

    “Acting attorney general orders DOJ not to defend Trump’s travel ban”:

    Acting Attorney General Sally Yates sent a letter Monday ordering the Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees in court, the New York Times reports.

    Yates said she is not convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.

    “Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so,” she said in the letter.

    “My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.

    “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

    The White House did not immediately comment on Yates’ order, but Senior Adviser to the President Stephen Miller said on MSNBC that Yates’ action is a “demonstration of how politicized process has become.”

    The acting attorney general will be replaced within days, assuming President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is confirmed.

    Sessions would then enforce the order, though it is possible the Trump White House could replace Yates in the interim with someone else at Justice who would be asked to defend the executive action….

  82. says

    Actor Kal Penn received a racist tweet. Penn turned that incident into something positive by raising over $600,000 for Syrian refugees.

    The nasty tweet:

    […] because you don’t belong in this country you fucking joke.

    You might recognize Kal Penn from his roll in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Penn also worked in the Obama administration as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

    He was interviewed on MSNBC by Tamron Hall. YouTube link

  83. says

    All of this nonsense about Trump being “man of action,” “tough,” governing by a “show of force” and so on is funny. He’s tweeted, signed things, and watched TV.

  84. Hj Hornbeck says

    Steve Banning has an interesting leadership style.

    Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.

    “He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized. […]

    In fact, according to him, there is surprisingly very little paper being generated, and whatever paper there is, the NSC staff is not privy to it. He sees this as a deterioration of transparency and accountability.

    “It would worry me if written records of these meeting were eliminated, because they contribute to good governance,” Waxman said.

    It is equally important that NSC staff be the ones drafting the issue papers going into meetings, too, said Schulman. “The idea is to share with everyone a fair and balanced take on the issue, with the range of viewpoints captured in that document,” she said.

    If those papers are now being generated by political staff, she added, it corrupts the whole process.

    It could also contribute to Bannon’s centralization of power.

    “He who has the pen has the authority to shape outcomes,” the intelligence official said.

    Centralizing power and squelching dissent, you say? Sounds like we have a bunch of dictators running the White House.

  85. Hj Hornbeck says

    Yep, and replaced her with someone who thinks his EO is peachy-keen.

    Taking action in an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, Mr. Trump declared that Sally Q. Yates had “betrayed” the administration, the White House said in a statement.

    The president appointed Dana J. Boente, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed. […]

    Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.

    So the AG office has effectively ground to a halt, and Jeff Session’s confirmation is now a referendum on Trump’s immigration EO.

  86. says

    Ms. Yates’s firing will probably add fire to some of the Trump is controlled by the Russians rumours. After all if there’s no one to sign foreign surveillance warrants operating against Russian intelligence operatives and other assets will presumably be harder.

  87. says

    SC @133 and Hornbeck @134, the firing of Sally Yates puts the independence of the Justice Department into question. Trump is firing people who disagree with him. It is not the job of Justice Department employees to agree with Trump.

    Trump could have appointed someone to defend his bonkers anti-immigrant executive order instead of firing Sally Yates.

  88. says

    BTW, when Trump claimed that Sally Yates had “betrayed the administration,” I think that he was dead wrong. She was doing her job.

    Of course, Trump would call that a “betrayal.”

  89. says

    timgueguen @136, good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

    So far, it looks like Boente will be a yes-man. He has already been sworn in, so he can start doing whatever Trump asks.

    Trump insulted Sally Yates as part of the firing memo, and highlighted Boente’s kiss-Trump’s-ass statement: “I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,” said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.

    Yates was confirmed by an 84-12 vote in 2015. Nobody thought she was “an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

    Holy fuck. The Justice Department is supposed to operate outside the circle of partisan politics, and above political persuasion.

    Trump is destroying the rule of law.

  90. says

    BTW, when Trump claimed that Sally Yates had “betrayed the administration,” I think that he was dead wrong. She was doing her job.

    Of course, Trump would call that a “betrayal.”

    He has no respect for the Constitution. He’s always seen law as an obstacle, and now is more convinced than ever that he’s above it. He believes everyone should bow down to him, and that loyalty should be not to the Constitution but to him and his criminal cabal.

  91. tomh says

    Firing Yates puts pressure on the Senate to confirm Sessions quickly. That’s a little advanced for Trump, but he has Bannon to figure those things out for him.

  92. says

    The Democratic National Committee issued a statement:

    Donald Trump can try to silence heroic patriots like Sally Yates who dare to speak truth to power about his illegal anti-Muslim ban that emboldens terrorists around the globe, but he cannot silence the growing voices of an American people now wide awake to his tyrannical presidency.

  93. Hj Hornbeck says

    Well, now we know what Trump means when he says the House was consulted.

    Senior staffers on the House Judiciary Committee helped Donald Trump’s top aides draft the executive order curbing immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but the Republican committee chairman and party leadership were not informed, according to multiple sources involved in the process. […]

    The work of the committee aides began during the transition period after the election and before Donald Trump was sworn in. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Trump’s transition operation forced its staff to sign these agreements, but it would be unusual to extend that requirement to congressional employees.

    I”m sure the House will be cool that Trump used their staffers without their knowledge or consent.

  94. says

    US Holocaust Memorial Museum statement:

    The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus on the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core. Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy. As Elie Wiesel said, “Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.”

    The Holocaust teaches us profound truths about human societies and our capacity for evil. An accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honor its victims.

    OK. Seems like it could be a bit stronger, to be honest.

  95. hjhornbeck says

    Interesting, assuming this is true.

    ‏@matthewamiller (Matthew Miller)

    Also, the next U.S. atty in line of succession was not Boente, but Zach Fardon. Did Trump go forum shopping for one who would follow orders?
    8:35 PM – 30 Jan 2017

  96. hjhornbeck says

    Also, we may have been focused on the wrong people.

    The author of many of Trump’s executive orders is senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a [Jeff] Sessions confidant who was mentored by him and who spent the weekend overseeing the government’s implementation of the refu­gee ban. The tactician turning Trump’s agenda into law is deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, Sessions’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate. The mastermind behind Trump’s incendiary brand of populism is chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who, as chairman of the Breitbart website, promoted Sessions for years.

    Then there is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who considers Sessions a savant and forged a bond with the senator while orchestrating Trump’s trip last summer to Mexico City and during the darkest days of the campaign.

    In an email in response to a request from The Washington Post, Bannon described Sessions as “the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy” in Trump’s administration, saying he and the senator are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon.

    “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies,” Bannon wrote. “Jeff Sessions has been at the forefront of this movement for years, developing populist nation-state policies that are supported by the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans, but are poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.”

    He continued: “Throughout the campaign, Sessions has been the fiercest, most dedicated, and most loyal promoter in Congress of Trump’s agenda, and has played a critical role as the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy to undergird the implementation of that agenda. What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.”

  97. hjhornbeck says

    SC @3150:

    If a few Republican senators or representatives came forward and stood resolutely against Trumpian lawlessness, the spell would be broken.

    Unfortunately, that’s not true.

    Polling data collected by Morning Consult among more than 85,000 registered voters since the election (but before the travel executive order) demonstrates why Republicans are likely to stick with the president even if others turn against him. Over all, 47 percent of registered voters had a very or somewhat favorable view of Mr. Trump, while 48 percent had a very or somewhat unfavorable view.

    However, 54 percent of registered voters in districts represented by Republicans viewed Mr. Trump favorably compared with only 42 percent who view him unfavorably. More important, people who identify with the party overwhelmingly view him favorably. In districts represented by Republicans, fully 87 percent of registered Republicans view Mr. Trump favorably.

    Support for Mr. Trump in G.O.P. districts is even higher among registered Republicans who are extremely interested in politics (94 percent favorable), identify as strong Republicans (92 percent favorable) or say they are very conservative (94 percent favorable). These groups are especially likely to vote in primaries and are key constituencies in nomination contests for higher office. As a result, they wield disproportionate influence on legislator behavior.

    Given these incentives, it is unlikely that most Republicans will turn on Mr. Trump at this stage. Even when George W. Bush’s approval ratings dropped to 25 percent just before the 2008 election, for instance, more than 60 percent of Republicans approved of his performance in office, which limited the incentive of elected officials from the party to repudiate him or his agenda.

  98. says

    Unfortunately, that’s not true.

    I still think it is. Public opinion can change (and who’s likely to vote in primaries and to be active could rapidly be shifting), and a principled stand can be a catalyst.

  99. hjhornbeck says

    SC: Oh, opinion can change, but I don’t see Trump going from 80%+ to less than 50% in the span of a weekend, given that his supporters are in favor of banning Muslims.

    Incidentally, I wonder if this is why General Flynn ghosted.

    Contrary to earlier reporting, the senior military official said, the raid was Trump’s first clandestine strike — not a holdover mission approved by President Barack Obama. The mission involved “boots on the ground” at an al Qaeda camp near al Bayda in south central Yemen, the official said.

    “Almost everything went wrong,” the official said.

    An MV-22 Osprey experienced a hard landing near the site, injuring several SEALs, one severely. The tilt-rotor aircraft had to be destroyed. A SEAL was killed during the firefight on the ground, as were some noncombatants, including females [women and girls, jackasses. HJH].

    Defense Secretary James Mattis had to leave one of Washington’s biggest annual social events, the Alfalfa Club Dinner, to deal with the repercussions, according to the official. He did not return.

    On Monday, he released a statement identifying the dead SEAL as Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens and said, “Ryan gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service.”

    The senior military official said the 8-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, also known as Nora, was among the noncombatants killed in the raid, which also resulted in the death of several Yemeni women.

  100. says

    SC: Oh, opinion can change, but I don’t see Trump going from 80%+ to less than 50% in the span of a weekend, given that his supporters are in favor of banning Muslims.

    Sure, but the spell can be broken and the the effects emerge. I didn’t specify a time period.

  101. says

    So interesting.* I agree that “vakay” and “-esk” would come from probably no native English speaker ever. (And “POTUS asks ‘why he should give a damn about muzzie Canucks?'” or “Trending office joke” or “Feels his hand was pushed”…- nah. None of it is really convincing.)

    *(“(Bear with me)” is funny, even if unintentional.)

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

    (I am cross-posting this on Caine’s The Never Ending Thread thread.)

    On Sunday, Wife went to the gym to work out. I went a couple of doors down to a cigar store and lounge and smoked a very enjoyable Hoya de Monterrey corona. As I sat and read my book (The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions), I, quite unintentionally, listened in on a conversation near me. They were discussing Trump’s executive orders, gag orders, and so on, and were deploring the policies — they knew that this would hurt our security, hurt our economy, and, in some cases, kill people. Yet they loved the idea behind the idiocy. One of them actually said that it is worth every penny to see liberal traitor’s heads explode.

    This was an epiphany for me. I really did not fully understand what has been going on. There are people out there — professionals, business owners, bankers, lawyers, judges — who so hate, so detest progressive ideas and ideals that they were willing to vote for someone KNOWING that if he actually put in place the policies he campaigned on would hurt the country just so that it would annoy progressives, liberals, and the rest of the left wing fellow-travelers. No respect for law, no respect for the ideals of our country, no respect for professionalism, no respect for human beings, just a desire to annoy liberals.

    I can (in a very depressed and depressing way) almost understand the protest votes of rural whites who are, thanks to modern economics and economic policies, seeing their towns die — this was a vote for someone other than those in power. But I could not quite grok the urban professionals who supported Trump. They (and this is a very limited sample) treated this as a joke, as if who is in charge really does not matter, but, if it will annoy those Social Justice Warriors, it is worth it even if it puts an immature authoritarian sociopath in charge.

    Has anyone else run into this phenomenon? Who cares what it does to the country: if it annoys people I don’t like I’ll support whatever happens?

    (Usually the discussions center on sports and cars at this cigar lounge. The main reason I go there this time of year is that I can smoke indoors. The owner is a really nice guy, a centrist (socially progressive, economically conservative (but he sees the need for government to do things that the free market cannot do)), who also owns the restaurant Boy manages, so I’m happy to support him.)

  103. blf says

    Follow-up to @82(US Immigration at Irish airports):

    Irish prime minister [taoiseach] Enda Kenny today has ordered a complete review of the US Homeland Security controlled “pre-clearance” at Ireland’s two main airports in response to growing opposition in the Republic to the Trump travel ban.

    Ireland is one of only six countries that allows American Homeland Security officials to vet travellers before they fly out to the United States.

    The taoiseach said:

    In respect of the policy introduced by the American government I disagree with. I will obviously say that to the president and vice president when I meet with them…

    I have asked for a complete review now of the pre-clearance facilities here in Ireland in respect of the three departments dealing with this. So we can be absolutely clear about the importance of it.

    Last night the Irish Department of Transport confirmed that one traveller was turned away at the gate to transatlantic flights in Dublin Airport.

    Kenny will face calls today in cabinet from independent deputies who serve in his coalition government to suspend Homeland Security’s right to screen transatlantic passengers at Dublin and Shannon Airport until the Trump ban is lifted.

    The children’s minister, Katherine Zappone, has written to the taoiseach ahead of the cabinet meeting in Dublin later on Tuesday warning Kenny that the travel ban may be unlawful to operate at Irish airports.

    Zappone said that the US-Ireland pre-clearance agreement upholds the rights of people under Irish law. At present any traveller booked on a flight to the United States from Ireland is processed through US immigration in Dublin or Shannon before they board their flight or arrive in the United States.

    Canada is another of the six pre-clearing countries. The other four pre-clearance locations are in Bermuda, The Bahamas, Aruba (Netherlands), and United Arab Emirates.

    I assume similar provisions apply in those countries as well, namely, the “pre-clearance agreement upholds the rights of people under [local] law”. (Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge indicates this is the case.) If so, this provides a potentially-powerful mechanism to send a strong signal. I myself can see Ireland, Canada, and Netherlands closing the facilities, and would not rule out the other three also doing so.

    The other four pre-clearance locations are in Bermuda, The Bahamas, Aruba (Netherlands), and United Arab Emirates.

    From the Grauniad’s live blog (12:24 mark, quoted in full).

  104. blf says

    Historian Deborah Lipstadt accuses Trump advisers of ‘soft Holocaust denial’:

    Expert on Nazi era who won court battle against Holocaust denier David Irving says president’s team is ‘de-Judaizing’ genocide

    The internationally renowned historian Deborah Lipstadt, whose courtroom battle with Holocaust denier David Irving is the subject of the new film Denial, has accused President Donald Trump’s “innermost circle” of being guilty of “soft Holocaust denial” and the “de-Judaization” of the Nazi genocide.

    [… I]n the Atlantic, Lipstadt — a leading expert on the Nazi effort to wipe out Europe’s Jews — [… wrote] “Holocaust denial is alive and well in the highest offices of the United States […] It is being spread by those in President Trump’s innermost circle. It may have all started as a mistake by a new administration that is loath to admit it’s wrong.

    “Conversely, it may be a conscious attempt by people with antisemitic sympathies to rewrite history,” she added. “Either way it is deeply disturbing.”

    […] On Monday, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, accused the media of a “pathetic” attempt to whip up controversy.


    Lipstadt wrote: “Though no fan of Trump, I chalked it up as a rookie mistake by a new administration busy issuing a slew of executive orders. Someone had screwed up … A clarification would certainly soon follow. I was wrong.”

    [… Lipstadt explains the difference between “hard-core” and “soft-core” Holocaust denial …]

    [… S]he queried whether Trump’s chief strategist may have had an influence on the statement.

    “The White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, boasted that while at Breitbart he created a platform for the alt-right. Richard Spencer, the self-proclaimed leader of the alt-right, has invited overt Holocaust deniers to alt-right conferences, and his followers have engaged in outright denial.”

    Lipstadt’s intervention in the growing row came as the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington DC also released a pointed statement explaining the meaning of the Holocaust.

    “Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy,” the statement read, adding that “an accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honour [sic†] its victims”.


     †  The use of typically British spelling in the statement from a States-side source is a bit odd(if welcome & and certainly perfectly Ok), so I presume this is just the Grauniad showing why it has that nickname…

  105. Marc Abian says

    This was an epiphany for me. I really did not fully understand what has been going on. There are people out there — professionals, business owners, bankers, lawyers, judges — who so hate, so detest progressive ideas and ideals that they were willing to vote for someone KNOWING that if he actually put in place the policies he campaigned on would hurt the country just so that it would annoy progressives, liberals, and the rest of the left wing fellow-travelers. No respect for law, no respect for the ideals of our country, no respect for professionalism, no respect for human beings, just a desire to annoy liberals.

    I don’t believe it’s the really the case. These people were making an lazy effort to impress and converse with each other, and they thought this was a good opportunity to signal their annoyance at liberals which is a meme going around. I have literally heard someone say, “both of them (Hillary and Donald) are as bad as each other so it doesn’t make a difference who gets in, but of course he’s much worse.” You can’t accept that sentence at face value, but when you see it as a genuine opinion garnished with an appealing meme then you understand what you’ve heard. The things people say to each other in conversation aren’t always things they really think.

  106. says

    Cross posted from the “That was surprisingly quick” thread.

    To make Trump’s (temporary?) immigration ban quasi legal, he would have to prove that there was an imminent threat from those seven countries. The number of people from those seven countries who have committed terrorist acts inside the borders of the USA is zero. Zero.

    So Trump does not have a leg to stand on there. As far as we know, there is no imminent threat that Yemen will attack the homeland.

    Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, has been working hard to spin the “preemptive” angle, namely that it is good to stop threats from dangerous places before they occur. That doesn’t really hold water either, considering that terrorist attacks inside the USA are not documented for those seven countries, and that terrorist attacks are documented from other countries.

    Trump’s team is pushing hard for the “dangerous” label to be applied to those seven countries based on a determination made during the Obama administration. The problem with that assessment is that the earlier travel restrictions or travel warnings were based on travel to those countries, and not on those countries exporting terrorists. Yes, those countries deserve continued scrutiny from the intelligence community, but Trump’s ban is a huge hammer aimed at a nail that can’t be seen.

    The seven countries to which Trump applied an immigration ban do have shaky-to-ineffective governments, and that makes them dangerous places for anyone to visit.

    The carve out within Trump’s executive order for non-Muslim (translation: Christian) immigrants from those seven countries is definitely unconstitutional. Trump does not have a leg to stand on there.
    It will likely take weeks for all the related issues to work their way through the courts. In the meantime, Steve Bannon and Trump are anxious to get Jeff Sessions in place so they can start pushing back harder against lawsuits filed by the ACLU and others. In the meantime, they have a new lackey in Boente.

    It will be interesting to see if other Justice Department personnel follow the lead of Sally Yates.

  107. blf says

    Lynna@164, On hair furor’s and teh dalekocracy’s lack of legal legs to stand on, I rather like the way the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, put it(see @99): “The judicial system is adept at protecting the constitution. President Trump may have his alternative facts, but alternative facts do not work in a courtroom,” said Inslee […].

    “[… F]acts tend to become somewhat relevant in a courtroom, even if they aren’t in reality TV”.

  108. says

    Ogvorbis @159, I have seen the same attitude in my deeply red state. In fact, Trump supporters are prone to pump their fist and say things like “Yes! That’ll show ’em.” They just want to see damage done, and don’t care about anything else.

    They are dismissive of, and impatient with, any explanations or facts that may be offered. They wave facts away like they were annoying flies.

  109. hjhornbeck says

    sc @3157:

    Sure, but the spell can be broken and the the effects emerge. I didn’t specify a time period.

    No time period? You cheater. ;)

    Still, I should walk back a bit and point out a route that’s more likely to result in impeachment: Trump’s use of House staff without their knowledge, and his stonewalling of Congress (see the news from Marco Rubio, earlier in the thread). The leading theory for why the Republicans were fine with Trump was that they viewed him as a convenient puppet to enact the policies they’ve wanted for the last few years. If he went rogue, they could always pull the lever of impeachment and be assured Pence would be in charge. They had the control in this situation.

    Now, however, Trump is trying to turn the tables. He’s using the Republicans to advance his agenda, and while they’re willing to bend the rules he’s willing to outright break them. He’s happy to shut them out entirely when it suits him. They are in danger of losing control, and their options for getting it back are narrowing rapidly.

    They might pull the trigger on impeachment ahead of schedule, and risk the wrath of the populace; the House Freedom Caucus has pointed out that the government shutdown they helped create caused the public to rage for a month or two, but had no lasting impact on the approval rating of Republicans. They might think the anger will be short-term, and easily soothed if they keep a Republican in the White House.

    It would help if they had dirt on Trump, too. My leading theory for why Flynn’s disconnected from social media was that botched SEAL raid, but he could also have heard what the USIC dug up on him and panicked. Throw some juicy connection between Russia and Trump to the public, act all scandalized, then push the impeachment button.

  110. blf says

    Paul Ryan has nailed his goolies to teh hair furor, Paul Ryan urges Republicans to back travel ban despite anger over its rollout:


    The president has a responsibility to the security of this country, the House speaker told reporters on Tuesday, in his first public comments on the executive order.

    What is happening is something that we support, which is we need to pause, and we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff, so that we can guarantee the safety and security of this country. That is what this does.


    […] Senator Ted Cruz, commended Trump for acting swiftly to try to prevent terrorists from infiltrating our refugee programs.


  111. hjhornbeck says

    blf @3165:

    That seems to be a common thread. Here’s Eliot A. Cohen, part of the GWB admin:

    We were right. And friends who urged us to tone it down, to make our peace with him, to stop saying as loudly as we could “this is abnormal,” to accommodate him, to show loyalty to the Republican Party, to think that he and his advisers could be tamed, were wrong. In an epic week beginning with a dark and divisive inaugural speech, extraordinary attacks on a free press, a visit to the CIA that dishonored a monument to anonymous heroes who paid the ultimate price, and now an attempt to ban selected groups of Muslims (including interpreters who served with our forces in Iraq and those with green cards, though not those from countries with Trump hotels, or from really indispensable states like Saudi Arabia), he has lived down to expectations.

    Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.

    But after all that doom and doomsday, he closes with this:

    In the end, however, he will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible—The New York Times, the CIA, Mexican Americans, and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment; he has his followers, but he gains no new friends. He will fail because he cannot corrupt the courts, and because even the most timid senator sooner or later will say “enough.” He will fail most of all because at the end of the day most Americans, including most of those who voted for him, are decent people who have no desire to live in an American version of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, or Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

    Well first off, he’s blind to how these takeovers happen; the German people of the 1920’s would have been aghast at what those of the 1940’s did, but the general populace were gradually normalized to the hatred and the people in power who realized what was going on were sidelined.

    Second, border agents are already ignoring the courts. Does he honestly think a Supreme Court order will suddenly make them obey the law? Does he think the same thing can’t happen to the military? The court relies on the Executive branch to carry out their rulings, and has no backup plan.

    I don’t think we mentioned this here, but

    Another eyebrow-raising change to the White House website under President Trump: it does not list nor provide details of the judiciary’s role in government the U.S. — naming only the Executive and Legislative branches, both of which are controlled by Republicans.

    A page detailing the role of the judicial branch could be found on the website during President Obama‘s tenure. President George W Bush also had a (rather shorter) explainer. As did President Clinton, the first president to create a White House website all the way back in 1994.

    The Trump administration apparently does not — at least, for now — believe the role of judges in the U.S.’ democracy merits a mention online.

    The omission was spotted earlier by The Hill, which believes the page was removed the day after Trump’s inauguration, when a raft of other deletions were carried out.

    If you read through to the article, you’ll learn they restored it after public outrage. Only reluctantly, though, as they briefly brought it back without the following sentence: “Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one’s peers.”

    The Judicial branch is far more fragile than most people realize.

  112. says

    Sean Spicer being extra stupid while attempting to back up his “proactive rather than reactive” defense of Trump’s immigration ban:

    “It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.”

    Spicer was referring to the shooting at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center.

    Hey, Spicer, Muslims were the victims. Let that fact through your rightwing filter, please. And the shooter? He was white Christian man who lived in Quebec.

    Rachel Maddow talked to David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times, about how sloppy and rushed Trump’s executive orders have been. They also discussed how easy it would have been to avoid firing Sally Yates.

    Some of Spicer’s illogical spinning-like-a-top is a result of the rush, the sloppiness, and the love of shock-and-awe when it comes to Steve Bannon’s approach.

  113. hjhornbeck says

    I do bring good news, though.

    The Senate Finance Committee was scheduled to vote Tuesday morning on Steve Mnuchin, tapped by the new president to be Treasury Secretary. But Brown and other Democrats refused to attend the session, thus denying Republicans a quorum and preventing the vote from occurring.

    The committee was also scheduled to vote Tuesday on Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, GOP Rep. Tom Price of Georgia.

    Brown, D-Ohio, has vociferously opposed Mnuchin, and his spokeswoman said Tuesday that he organized the boycott at the last minute. Brown has objected to Mnuchin’s “cozy ties to Wall Street” and sharply questioned his leadership of a bank that was involved in questionable foreclosure practices.

  114. says

    This is a followup to Hornbeck’s comment 146.

    Josh Marshall presented an interesting analysis of Trump’s use of congressional staffers, while swearing them to secrecy. Emphasis mine.

    […] To be clear, the executive works with Congress all the time to craft legislation. That’s the President working with members of Congress, though much of the actual work is delegated to staff. All normal. It’s congressional staff working for the executive without telling the members of Congress they work for which is the big deal.

    There are two levels on which to understand this. One is simple workplace common sense. If your employee or subordinate does something behind your back that ends up embarrassing you or catching you off guard, that is a major breach. If you agree to do work for someone else and promise that someone else not to tell your boss, your boss is not going to be happy. Now, you may say there are plenty of more important things going on right now than a members of Congress getting insulted or having his feelings hurt. And you’d be right. But if there’s one thing members of Congress excel at it’s guarding their institutional and official privileges. […]

    I guarantee you: career staffers who are hearing about this are gobsmacked. It’s unheard of.

    The second level is more complicated. I’m not sure this rises to the level of a formal separation of powers issue. But the idea of the White House coopting congressional staff behind the backs of members of Congress certainly runs roughshod over the overarching concept of two coequal and separate branches of government. […]

    I think it will end up being a bigger deal than people likely realize.

  115. says

    White supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement agencies in the USA.

    Official FBI guidelines acknowledge that white supremacists and right-wing extremists have infiltrated U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to a classified 2015 counterterrorism policy guide obtained by The Intercept.

    “Domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers,” […]

    While the FBI has been aware of this infiltration for some time and raised concerns in a 2006 internal assessment, federal agencies have been wary of discussing the issue publicly. […]

    Daryl Johnson, the lead researcher on the 2009 DHS report who was pushed out of the agency, told The Intercept that he was deeply disappointed by DHS’ decision to shrink the unit investigating right-wing extremists.[…]

    The Oath Keepers and Constitutional Sheriffs Associations, both anti-government groups, actively recruit current and former law enforcement officers. […]

    According to The Intercept, police officers determined to have close ties to white supremacist, militia or sovereign citizen groups can end up on the terrorism watchlist as “silent hits.” That allows the FBI to secretly monitor them, as they are not publicly identified as known or suspected terrorists in the national crime database that is accessible to law enforcement agencies.


  116. hjhornbeck says

    More good news, it sounds like Jeff Session’s confirmation is a shitshow.

    Watching Sessions confirmation. Sen Durbin recalling the one vote he really regrets: voting with Jeff Sessions on drug laws that hurt blacks

    Sen Durbin: Sessions said it was “good for the South” that VRA was invalidated. Durbin now listing the citizens Sessions has hurt.

    Durbin asked Sessions whether he’d impede investigation into Russian interference. He said Sessions refused to even read the memo about it.

    Glad @SenatorDurbin refused to confirm Sessions and made such a forceful case

    Sen Blumenthal: Sessions shows antipathy toward voting rights, civil rights, women’s rights; also refuses to investigate Trump’s corruption

    Sen Blumenthal: With Sessions as AG, Trump would deport US citizens who have spent their lives here. Admin would lack legal conscience.

    Sen Blumenthal: Sessions is supported by white supremacists and has accepted awards from groups that view “European-Americans” as superior

    CSPAN stopped airing Sessions hearing; watching livestream now. Anyone know who is speaking at the moment?

    Sessions judicial committee meeting is a mess. They can’t get a quorum, GOP senators keep leaving and preventing others from speaking.

  117. says

    The closer you look at Steve Bannon, the more dystopian his views seem.

    […] Bannon seemed especially taken with the description of refugees offered in the 1975 novel “The Camp of Saints” by French author Jean Raspail. Raspail’s dystopian vision of dark-skinned refugees taking over a white Europe has become popular among American white supremacists. Bannon cited the book at least twice on his radio program; once was in an interview with Sessions, where he warned that the “Muslim invasion of Europe” is “almost a Camp of Saints type invasion.”

    While Trump spent his campaign demonizing refugees, calling them the “ultimate Trojan horse” and vowing to deport Syrian refugees already in the country, it appears to be Bannon and Miller who shaped that rhetoric into policy.

    It’s this mindset that informed Trump’s executive order—and that will likely have another powerful voice if Sessions is confirmed as attorney general. In a story calling Sessions the “intellectual godfather” of Trump’s executive actions on immigration, the Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa lay out the close alliance and ideological affinity between Sessions, Bannon and Miller when it comes to immigration issues […] [See Hornbook’s post 152].

  118. says

    Rightwing sources are using fake news to report that the shooter in Quebec was Muslim. He was not.

    […] Hannity’s [Sean Hannity, Fox News host] misinformation made it’s way through conservative media following reports from fake news purveyors central to the alt-right, Gateway Pundit and Prison Planet, both of which claimed the shooter had shouted “Allahu Akbar.” They cited a then-live-updating CBC report claiming a witness heard the gunman yell “Allahu Akbar” as he fired. According to the most recent reports, the suspect in custody is alleged to be an “obviously pro-Trump” 27 year old white French Canadian who has been described as an “anti-immigrant far-right ‘troll’.”

    Hannity was not alone in using the eyewitness report to falsely insinuate a Muslim had committed the attack. Alt-right outlets across the internet parroted false reports that the attacker was a Muslim, or used the “Allahu Akbar” report to insinuate that he was. Gateway Pundit even attacked mainstream media outlets that did not repeat their Islamophobic fearmongering, claiming these outlets were “those who hid the truth,” and had promoted “alternative facts.” Fox News also initially reported the attacker “was of Moroccan origin” before correcting themselves, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer used the Quebec mosque attack to defend the administration’s dangerous and “un-American” Muslim ban.

    Hannity ended his rant by claiming “the facts are very simple if anybody cares to look at truth and fact versus fiction.” Indeed, the facts are simple — a white French Canadian with anti-immigrant beliefs and sympathies for extremist politicians like Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump is the singular suspect for the attack, and there is absolutely no sign he is a Muslim. […]


  119. says

    Budweiser’s 2017 Super Bowl ad highlights the company’s immigrant roots. The ad is quite good.
    The video is 1:00 minute long.

    More than 100 million people watch the Super Bowl, so I’m liking the placement for this immigrant-positive ad.

  120. says

    A personal story that exemplifies the fact that Trump and his minions are forcing some of the brightest international students out of the USA:

    In September 2016, when the possibility of a Trump presidency still seemed remote, Aya Aljamili, a Syrian citizen who grew up in Aleppo, arrived in the United States to get her master’s degree at American University in Washington, DC. […]

    When I spoke with Aljamili three weeks ago, she told me she’d started making plans to visit her family — currently living in Gaziantep, a city near the Turkey-Syria border — this spring.

    “I’ve reached a breaking point,” she told me in an in-person interview. “I swear by God, if I can know that I will be able to go see my family just once, I will be okay in this country. I’ll be able to make it through my master’s.”

    But last week, when President Trump signed the executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days, Aljamili had to abandon her plans. She and all the other students I spoke with feared that Trump would either extend the ban or make it permanent. […]

    Vox link

    Trump is starting a brain drain.

  121. says

    After meeting with pharma lobbyists, Trump drops promise to negotiate drug prices

    […] As recently as January 11, [Trump said], “Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs,” he said at a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly.”

    Today he apparently changed his mind. According to Herb Jackson, the designated pool reporter for the day, Trump’s new policy on prescription drugs is that drug companies should get tax cuts and deregulation (emphasis added):

    I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.

    So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We’re going to be lowering taxes, we’re going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary.


  122. blf says

    Follow-up to @102 and, especially, @38: Both wingnut François Fillon and nazi Marine Le Pen are in increasingly hot water over their theft of public monies (still just alleged, not proven, in Fillon’s case), Police raid French parliament in François Fillon investigation:

    Search carried out as part of ‘Penelopegate’ inquiry into allegation that presidential candidate paid wife for work she did not do

    French police have raided the lower house of parliament in an investigation into whether the wife of the presidential candidate François Fillon was paid for an allegedly non-existent job.

    The unusual step, requiring authorisation of the speaker of the lower house, was carried out as part of an inquiry into the “Penelopegate” scandal. […]

    Investigators are looking into possible misuse of public funds after a newspaper alleged that Fillon’s Welsh-born wife, Penelope, was paid €500,000 (£430,000) over eight years as his parliamentary assistant for work she did not perform. It is not illegal for French politicians to employ spouses or members of their family, but there is an obligation for them to carry out the job.

    Fillon and his wife were questioned separately for five hours on Monday by anti-corruption officers. France Inter radio suggested police were searching for her employment contracts.


    On Tuesday the European parliament said it was asking Le Pen to start repaying about €300,000 it said were wrongly paid to legislative aides.

    An EU parliament letter to Le Pen gave Tuesday as the deadline to begin repayment. Failure to do so would result in her monthly EU parliamentary salary cut by half to €3,000 from Wednesday. She would also lose other allowances. In total about €7,000 would be deducted from her monthly EU salary, an EU official said.

    The request follows the European anti-fraud office’s findings that some of Len Pen’s [sic] aides were paid from the European budget while actually working as her cabinet chief and bodyguard, breaking the parliament’s rules. She has denied any wrongdoing.

    A glitch here is that, in le penazi’s case, it was EU funds she was stealing, and her supporters do not like the EU. Hence it is rather possible they will shrug the stealing off as The EU deserves it or similar.

    There is(? was?) a French investigation into teh le penazis — not sure if it was Le Pen herself — regarding dubious financial practices during a previous election(s?).

  123. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    We’re going to be lowering taxes, we’re going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary.

    Yeah, Sure, Hey. The FDA regulations are set by ICH, an international group that harmonizes pharma regulatory law world wide. This includes not only manufacture and quality control of the drug substance (API) and drug product, but also development, manufacturing, and how to conduct clinical studies. Any clinical study that meets ICH guidelines in one country, is usually accepted for review by all other signatories of ICH. The same with manufacturing. Get rid of any of the regulations, and you aren’t ICH compliant.
    The pharma industry is very multinational. Discovery may occur in the US, the scale-up/clinical batches done in Switzerland, and clinical trials run in France. Once approved, the drug may be sold in US, Japan, Europe, and in other signatory countries.

  124. hjhornbeck says

    Time to check in overseas, and see what’s happening.

    President Donald Trump has joined Russia, China and radical Islam as a threat to Europe, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk said on Tuesday.

    In a letter to national leaders before a summit that he will chair in Malta to prepare the European Union’s future after Britain leaves, the conservative former Polish prime minister called on Europeans to stick together to avoid domination by three other continental powers.

    Trump’s more protectionist trade policy offered the E.U. a chance and it should do more now to set up free trade deals, he added.

    Ouch. That reminds me, though. How are things going in the Ukraine?

    Ukrainian officials are preparing for a possible evacuation of the eastern frontline town of Avdiivka amid renewed fighting with pro-Russian rebels. If evacuation takes place, officials say up to 8,000 people could be removed each day from the government-held town, which has no water or electricity. Shelling and the deaths of several more people were reported by both sides on Tuesday.

    Each blames the other for the upsurge in violence. It erupted despite an attempt to renew a ceasefire last month. Ukrainian forces say the outbreak began when rebels launched an attack on Avdiivka, which borders land controlled by the separatists.

    … mmm.

  125. hjhornbeck says

    Fortunately, Trump seems to be trying to patch things up.

    Germany is using a “grossly undervalued” euro to gain advantage over the United States and its own European Union partners, Donald Trump’s top trade adviser told the Financial Times, echoing a sentiment he gave last week on CNBC.

    Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s new National Trade Council, told the newspaper that the euro was like an “implicit Deutsche Mark” whose low valuation gave Germany a competitive advantage over its main partners. Navarro said that Germany was one of the main hurdles to a U.S.-EU trade deal and that talks over a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were dead, the newspaper reported.

    Whoops sorry, I meant to say “weaken the EU and piss off America’s allies.”

  126. blf says

    Follow-up to @182 et al., new claims of public monies theft against the wingnut French presidential candidate, François Fillon faces fresh claims over paying wife and children:

    […] Canard Enchainé reported that the conservative candidate’s Welsh-born wife, Penelope, earned €900,000 (£772,000) as his parliamentary assistant and as a contributor to a literary review owned by a friend. That is €300,000 more than the newspaper claimed last week […]

    It also accused Fillon […] of paying two of his five children an additional €84,000 of public money as “parliamentary assistants”.


    During [a] TV interview, Fillon admitted employing two of his children who were lawyers for “precise missions”. Le Canard Enchainé claimed Fillon had paid his daughter Marie, 23 at the time and not yet fully sworn in as a lawyer, a total of €57,084 over 15 months. He then employed his son Charles, then studying law, for six months on a salary of €26,651.


  127. Hj Hornbeck says

    Mixed news today, during confirmation hearings.

    At the Senate Judiciary Committee, a meeting considering Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to be attorney general lasted so long — chiefly because of lengthy Democratic speeches — that Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the panel would meet again Wednesday.

    The meeting on Sessions’ nomination was coming with Democrats and demonstrators around the country in an uproar over Trump’s executive order temporarily blocking refugees. Even some Republicans were warning it could hinder anti-terrorism efforts.

    Not everything ground to a halt.

    The Senate education committee voted 12-11 to send Trump’s pick to head the Education Department, Betsy DeVos, to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

    The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee quickly approved former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy secretary by 16-7, and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., to head Interior by 16-6.

    And the full Senate easily confirmed Elaine Chao to become transportation secretary by a 93-6 vote. Chao was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, and is wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

  128. KG says

    The currently-governing leftists [in France] seem to have no chance – blf@38

    That should be “pseudo-leftists”. Hollande has been following right-wing, neoliberal, “austerity” policies since shortly after his election. Benoît Hamon, who won the Socialist Party’s primary, resigned from Hollande’s government in protest. He is unlikely to win, but latest polls show him in 4th place, at 15%, and the contest is still wide open. It seems unlikely Le Pen will win – either Fillon, or the Blair-like Macron, beats her easily (far more easily than Clinton, or Sanders, was forecast to beat Trump) in hypothetical run-off polls.

  129. KG says

    President Donald Trump has joined Russia, China and radical Islam as a threat to Europe, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk said on Tuesday. – Donald Tusk, quoted by hjhornbeck@185

    It’s quite bizarre for Tusk to cite China as a threat to Europe. What does he think the Chinese are going to do, dig a tunnel several thousand kilometers long?

  130. says

    EDITORS’ NOTE: ThinkProgress will call Trump’s order a Muslim ban

    […] The “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” order bans nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States, for at least the next three months. The order also suspends all refugee admission and resettlement for the next four months, and permanently bans all Syrian refugees from the country until further notice.

    At ThinkProgress, we will call this order a Muslim ban in our reporting. […]

    There are many other Muslim-majority countries not targeted. But the order does not have to apply to every Muslim to be considered a Muslim ban. Banning approximately 200 million Muslims from the country, simply because of where they are from, should be enough.

    President Donald Trump campaigned on “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” This promise is still up on his website. Many of those on Trump’s team have repeatedly referred to last week’s order as a Muslim ban. His aides have expressed interested in expanding the ban to other Muslim-majority countries. […]

    Calling it a Muslim ban recognizes the Islamophobia that motivated Trump […]

    On the other hand, declining to describe this policy as what it is — an immigration ban targeted specifically at Muslims — means ignoring both the intent behind Trump’s order and the harm it is inflicting. It is the job of ThinkProgress to shed a light on that harm, and to accurately describe the actions that are causing it.

  131. hjhornbeck says

    OgVorbis @3159:

    Has anyone else run into this phenomenon? Who cares what it does to the country: if it annoys people I don’t like I’ll support whatever happens?

    Not personally, but you’re not alone in spotting this.

    I consume rightwing media voraciously. I want to know not just what they’re thinking, but also how they’re feeling and why.

    One of things that is clear to me is that many reactionaries are emotionally indifferent to the effectiveness of Trump’s EOs as policy. […]

    Instead, some supporters of EOs are *indifferent* to the plight of refugees–many for racist, nationalist reasons–but *hate* EO’s critics.

    One can get these pretty easily from reading the comments, Breitbart, or AceofSpades.

    They want to see critics angry, sad, and outraged. They see Trump as instrument of punishment, less against refugees, but against the left.

    In their view, much of left is insulated from direct harm: trust-fund libs, professional activists, academics, government employees, etc.

    And this poses a special kind of problem: if you can’t punish them directly (at least not yet) what do you do?

    You look for targets who are (a) directly vulnerable and (b) whose abuse will outrage those you cannot (yet) attack. […]

    Trump offers something new. They don’t trust him. They don’t think he’s competent to govern. They think he’s a dishonest, corrupt boor.

    But the one thing they do *trust* about him is that he is a vindictive bastard who will punish anyone he thinks is his enemy.

    And if this vindictiveness can be steered by one of their own (Bannon) they have an instrument for an entirely new politics.

    They go from being the “righteous losers” to the “vindictive winners.” They are emotionally attached to harming the image of their enemy.

  132. hjhornbeck says

    Welcome to round 2 of gutting the national parks.

    Now that Republicans have quietly drawn a path to give away much of Americans’ public land, US representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced what the Wilderness Society is calling “step two” in the GOP’s plan to offload federal property.

    The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.

    But many in the 10 states that would lose federal land in the bill disagree, and public land rallies in opposition are bringing together environmentalists and sportsmen across the west.

  133. says

    Yep, more awful stuff coming down the pike from Trump and his minions:

    A draft executive order circulating among the Trump administration lays out a plan to filter out immigrants who might require public assistance, and to deport immigrants already living in the United States who depend on a form of welfare.

    The documents, obtained by The Washington Post, describe the power to “deny admission to any alien who is likely to become a public charge” and outline methods for “determining whether an alien is deportable… for having become a public charge within five years of entry”—that is to say, if receive public assistance via food stamps, welfare, and Medicaid, among others.

    A second order draft, titled “Executive Order on Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs” calls for the elimination of the so-called “jobs magnet” encouraging undocumented immigrants to travel to the United States, and calls for the repealing of work-visa provisions found not to be in “the national interest.”.


  134. blf says

    KG@189, “That should be ‘pseudo-leftists’ [currently governing in France].” Yes, correction accepted.

    And “It seems unlikely Le Pen will win — either Fillon, or the Blair-like Macron, beats her easily (far more easily than Clinton, or Sanders, was forecast to beat Trump) in hypothetical run-off polls.” The same sort of polls that generally showing brexit losing and Clinton winning?

    Skepticism about polls has, e.g., caused the daily Le Parisien to stop using polls and “send more reporters to talk to people outside France’s factories, in its dim bars and in places where journalists rarely go […] to talk to people about their fears” (Opinion polls missed Trump and Brexit. This French newspaper says it has the solution.; also see French newspaper abandons opinion polls in run-up to election: “Le Parisien shifts focus from ‘horse race’ journalism to on-the-ground reporting ahead of presidential vote”).

    Current conventional wisdom is the le penazis will get into the second round, in early-June. Until recently, that conventional wisdom said Fillon would be her opponent in the second round. That thinking is being considerably challenged now, who will be her opponent is very much up in the air: Fillon has not being doing well in polls for the first round and has an increasing load of skeletons coming out to haunt his claim of being honest.

  135. hjhornbeck says

    Also, I don’t think I’ve said “constitutional crisis” enough. Emphasis mine:

    After a weekend spent trying to get the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to comply with the New York and Massachusetts Orders staying the Presidential Executive Order banning immigration from seven countries, a group of attorneys Darius Amiri, Laura Riley, Madiha Zuberi, Nina Bonyak, in coordination with other volunteer attorneys working out of LAX, have been at the U.S. Marshal’s office at the Central District of California since 8:00 a.m. this morning.

    These attorneys are demanding that the U.S. Marshal’s office comply with its statutory obligation under 28 U.S.C. 566(c) to serve civil federal orders on the CBP Port Director at Los Angeles International Airport. The Marshal’s office has so far failed to serve process and instead represents that it has been instructed by its Office of the General Counsel to await instruction from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Over the weekend, California Central District Court (CACD) Judge Dolly Gee granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) (which was amended and corrected this morning) and this is another of the documents that has yet to be served on the CBP.

    Two hundred years of precedent have established that the courts are the final arbitrator of what’s constitutional and what is not. But as I’ve said, the Judicial branch relies on the Executive to enforce its judgments; those court injunctions against Trump’s EO don’t go into effect until they get into the hands of the people enforcing that EO, and by telling the U.S. Marshals to stand down the Executive has effectively blocked those court orders from taking effect.

    The Judicial branch is no longer checking or balancing Executive power. You just lost one of your three branches, Americans.

    I have been saying that #TheRegime’s big overarching play right now is de-fanging the judiciary, sidelining it, making it subservient.

    Now, if objecting to this gets any traction, #TheRegime’s talking point will be that the Marshals have always been part of DOJ, under exec.

    Which is *true enough* but beside the point. They are the enforcement arm of the judiciary, grouped under executive because enforcement.

    The impartiality of the law enforcement bodies under DOJ (FBI, Marshal Service) is supposed to be–must be–sacrosanct. Sacred. Untouchable.

    Making the judiciary’s enforcement wing under the direct command of a handpicked crony AG accomplishes makes the entire judicial branch moot

    With the Marshals marching to the president’s orders, court decisions only matter when #TheRegime agrees with them.

    And the Executive is even starting to override the Legislative. Remember how the border patrol would refuse to meet with Congressional representatives?

    “Since my background is a Ph.D. in public administration, I have a good working knowledge of U.S. institutions and policymaking processes,” [Donald] Moynihan told Salon. “Members of Congress are fond of reminding executive branch officials that [the latter] are beholden to them, not just to the president.” It is Congress that supplies every federal agency with its budget, and along with that “specific directives as to [its] role.”

    “It’s remarkable to me that when an actual member of Congress would turn up at your doorstep, a manager in that agency would not try to be responsive to their concerns,” Moynihan continued. “It suggests they view obeying the guidance of the president as superior to any other direction. This is troubling precisely because the founders designed a separation of powers so that no single actor (in this case the president) had sole control of administration.”

    Until Congress steps up, or he backtracks and agrees to respect judicial rulings, Trump has control over the US of A. There are no checks on his power.

  136. blf says

    San Francisco sues Donald Trump over order targeting ‘sanctuary cities’:

    Executive order mandates federal government withhold grants from localities that limit cooperation with immigration enforcement

    San Francisco filed suit against Donald Trump on Tuesday, becoming the first city to bring a legal challenge against the president’s executive order targeting sanctuary cities.

    “The president’s executive order is not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American,” said Dennis Herrera, the city attorney.

    On 25 January, Trump signed an executive order mandating that the federal government withhold grants from localities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement — a practice known as “sanctuary”. The order also directs the attorney general to explore “appropriate enforcement action” against local government agencies following sanctuary policies.

    Thirty-nine cities, 364 counties and four states have some kind of sanctuary policies in place, according to an analysis by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

    Citing the 10th amendment of the US constitution, which delegates powers not granted to the federal government to states and the people, the lawsuit alleges that the order is “a severe invasion of San Francisco’s sovereignty”. The suit also accuses the president of acting “in blatant disregard of the law”.

    “You’re not an emperor who rules by fiat,” Herrera said at a news conference, describing the message he wants to send to Trump. “Obey the rule of law.”

    The suit seeks to prevent the federal government from blocking funds to San Francisco. Herrera estimated that the city had about $1.2bn in federal funding at stake.


    A study by the Center for American Progress found that there were on average 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties than in non-sanctuary counties.


  137. hjhornbeck says

    I predict Trump will be saying “You’re fired!” a lot.

    Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video.

    The cable wended its way through dozens of American embassies around the world, quickly emerging as one of the broadest protests by American officials against their president’s policies. And it is not over yet.

    By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it.

    The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants.

  138. says

    hornbeck @196, Yes, that’s where this is heading. Everyone has to do what Trump says, and there are no checks on his power.

    Steve Bannon says stupid stuff: “Is the media in the West almost working under the precepts of sharia law right now???” USA Today link

    In other news:

    Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that her office is joining a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, with the support of the state’s Republican governor.

    Talking Points Memo link

    The President’s executive order is a threat to our Constitution. Rather than protecting our national security, it stigmatizes those who would lawfully emigrate to our state,” Healey said in a statement. “With this policy, our global universities, hospitals, businesses and start-ups, and far too many students and residents have been put at risk.

    Quoting Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

    The states now suing in order to challenge the executive order on immigration are: Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington.

  139. says

    An update on the March for Science:

    March for Science is a grassroots effort comprised of dozens of independent, nonpartisan coordinators. We celebrate and defend publicly funded and communicated science as a pillar of American freedom and prosperity. Recent rhetoric has inspired us to march on Washington D.C. and in Satellite Marches across the country to demand a common sense resolution:


    We recognize that pursuit of knowledge is a foundational strength of our country. To help defend that foundation, we stand together in solidarity to support this great American experiment.

  140. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Be fierce, furious, and fight! Join the Raccoons of the Resistance! (cartoon): “The Raccoons of the Resistance will help you channel your anger against the actual literal coup in the USA with this handy coup-resisting guide”. The usual snarky style, with some great quips, and some useful — albeit generic — advice. For example (all typos and transcription errors my own):

    ● “Educate yourself! Don’t expect women, people of colour, LGBTI folk, marsupials, or any other group to explain their oppression to you. That’s not their job.”

    ● “Now that we know Trump is afraid of stairs and ramps everyone should dress as a short flight of steps or a mild incline.” (I assume this is just pure snark, or is it based on something…?)

    ● “Non-violence is fine if you can afford it. Just remember denying millions of people healthcare, housing and food is an act of political violence. […]”

    And so on…

  141. Hj Hornbeck says

    Lynna @3201:

    I object to your use of future tense. Trump’s only check on him as I type this is the Legislative branch, and they’re A-OK with Trump’s actions.

    But I couldn’t help clicking through your USA Today link and learning Bannon was freaking out over the Inuvik mosque. I’ve seen the thing, and it has a great story behind it. There’s also a Jewish centre up there, as well as five* Christian churches.

    But suuuuuure, one sleepy little church surrounded by tundra and Inuit tribes that are fiercely proud of their culture is gonna overwhelm everyone and implement Sharia law. Totes possible.

    * I think one was closed when I was up there, but it’s been a while.

  142. blf says

    This opinion peice makes an interesting small suggestion at the end, Forget protest. Trump’s actions warrant a general national strike:

    Taxi drivers went on strike in solidarity with the detainees, and arriving passengers were forced to find alternate ways on getting home. Many used Uber, a company whose CEO, Travis Kalanick, serves on Trump’s economic advisory board, and which thoughtfully suspended “surge pricing” to make it easier and cheaper to subvert the taxi strike.


    I’m deleting my Uber account and adding Lyft (which donated generously to the ACLU) in its stead. Leaving Uber is not uncomplicated, and it’s taken me the better part of a day to persuade them to let me go. But in the process, the site asks subscribers why they are leaving, and it’s a pleasure — a small pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless — to let them know.

    As the title indicates, the opinion piece is mostly about a general strike, which is virtually unhearrd-of in the States. That’s a big, complicated idea. A small, do-able, thing is as suggested: Delete any Uber account you have. Lyft, in contrast, did make a donation to ACLU, which is obviously encouraging. Here is a Slate article on this boycott / delete Uber trend, and using Lyft, The Uber Boycott and Lyft’s ACLU Donation Herald a New Era of Corporate Politics. This apparently is something of a trending / viral thing, #DeleteUber.

  143. KG says

    The same sort of polls that generally showing brexit losing and Clinton winning? – blf@195

    No. Polls before the Brexit vote were very close, with almost as many showing a majority for Brexit as showed a majority against, over the last few weeks before the vote (the murder of Joe Cox MP by a Nazi Brexiter may have made people less likely to admit they were going to vote Leave in the last week). Those who were shocked and astounded at the result simply hadn’t been paying attention, or had assumed that at the last moment, many of those saying they were going to vote for Brexit would not do so. And as I said, the polls for Fillon-Le Pen and Macron-Le Pen run-offs are consistently far more decisive than those for Clinton-Trump or even Sanders-Trump ever were. Latest polls (after the revelations of Fillon’s nepotism) show him at 60-40 against Le Pen, and Macron at 65-35. Clinton never at any stage had anything like that sort of lead against Trump. So unless you’re taking the silly line that because the US Presidential polls were 2% out at national level (they had Clinton 4% ahead instead of 2%) all polls are meaningless, they are not “the same sort of polls”.

    Of course none of this means Le Pen could not win, but it would take a big political upheaval or a failure in polling on a scale unprecedented in recent years.

  144. KG says

    Current conventional wisdom is the le penazis will get into the second round, in early-June. – blf@195

    Then conventional wisdom is wrong, because the first round is on 23rd April and the second on 7th May.

  145. says

    Canada schooled Fox News:

    It took over a day — and a direct complaint from the Canadian Prime Minister’s office — for Fox News to delete a tweet that incorrectly identified the attacker in the Quebec Mosque shooting as someone “of Moroccan origin.”

    “These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Director of Communications Kate Purchase wrote in an email to Fox. […]

    Even before Fox News sent out their tweet (at 12:31pm), however, Quebec authorities had clarified that one of the initial suspects was a witness, not a suspect. Quebecois outlets were, at that point, already reporting that the only suspect was in fact Bissonnette.

    Belkhadir, the man of Moroccan origin, was actually a worshiper at the mosque who left prayers shortly before the shooter entered and opened fire. He heard the shots, and as soon as the bullets stopped, ran inside to help, according to reporting from local outlets. He called 9–1–1.

    As he bent to put his coat on a wounded man, however, he saw someone enter with a gun and fled. He told a reporter for La Presse that in the confusion, he didn’t realize it was the police. He thought the shooter had come back.

    “They thought I was a suspect, it’s normal,” he told La Presse, adding that the police had treated him well. […]

    Think Progess link

    Fox News is so afflicted with confirmation bias that they can’t get anything right.

  146. says

    It hurts to tell you this, but Donald Trump knows next to nothing about African American history. (/sarcasm)

    […] Trump took a wild stab at African American history Wednesday morning when he described the 19th-century black abolitionist leader, social reformer and writer Frederick Douglass as “somebody who has done an amazing job.”

    Trump said during a listening session that he was “very proud” of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened before he took office, for providing a place where people can learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and “so many other things.”

    “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said, perhaps unable to articulate Douglass’ historically recognized role as an abolitionist leader and the first black citizen to hold a high rank in the U.S. government.

    He went on to name Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks as examples of “black Americans who made America what it is today.”

    “A big impact,” Trump said. “I’m proud to honor this heritage. I will be honoring it more and more.” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    Painful video available at the link. FacePalm warning.

  147. says

    Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Here’s some background on Gorsuch from various sources:

    […] Judge Gorsuch is a far-right extremist who would […] prevent the federal government from properly enforcing countless acts of Congress—for example, critical laws that ensure workers‘ rights and safety, guarantee equal opportunity, safeguard consumers and investors, ensure the safety of food and drugs, and protect our environment.

    Notably, Judge Gorsuch has been critical of progressives who have brought constitutional challenges in the courts. In particular, Judge Gorsuch has harshly condemned those who have turned to the courts to advance LGBT equality, enforce church-state separation in the context of vouchers, and to address individual autonomy and the right to physician aid in dying. He claims this is inappropriately using the courts to debate public policy, ignoring courts‘ inherent responsibility to address constitutional challenges brought to them by injured parties and his own support for repeated challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

    In fact, when Gorsuch says courts should not address certain issues, what he really means is that they should address them, but issue conservative rulings. […]


    – corporations can deny birth control coverage to employees. […]

    – […] Gorsuch “has consistently ruled against workers and in favor of big corporations. For example, he argued in dissent that the court should overturn a Department of Labor fine against a company whose failure to train a worker caused his death, […]

    – […] In 2013, Gorsuch ruled that a police officer who killed a young man when he shot him in the head with a stun gun, contrary to his training manual, had not used unconstitutionally excessive force. […]

    – […] ruled against the rights of disabled students. Gorsuch has authored a handful of opinions limiting the ability of disabled students to seek protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, […]

    – Wants to make it harder for agencies to enforce laws passed by Congress. […] Gorsuch opposes the critical Chevron doctrine: “Gorsuch would make it more difficult for agencies to enforce laws that keep our air and water clean and safe; […] and that safeguard consumers and investors. …“He embraces a philosophy that courts should be able to overrule the agency experts when it comes to their important work in enforcing regulations. […] Eliminating this principle, known as the Chevron doctrine, would tie the hands of precisely those entities that Congress has recognized have the depth and experience to enforce critical laws, safeguard essential protections, and ensure the safety of the American people. […]”

    Right Wing Watch link

  148. says

    This is a followup to comment 210.

    During his speech supposedly honoring Black History Month, Trump spent a lot of time talking about himself:

    […] If you remember, I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting — I won’t go into details — but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years.

    Hillary Clinton got 89% of the black vote, and Trump received 8%.

    Trump also spent a lot of time accusing CNN of propagating “fake news.”

  149. says

    Jon Stewart made an appearance on The Daily Show with Stephen Colbert.

    Vox posted an excerpt from the video, link above.

    You can see the complete segment on Vulture. Link to 9:56 minute-long video.

    Stewart sported a ridiculously long red tie. “To secure our border, China shall immediately and without hesitation send us their wall. Done. Boom.”

    “When the wall arrives at the southern border, we shut the lights, we pretend we’re not home. It’s C.O.D., Mexico has to pay for it. Boom — they pay for it. Done.”

  150. says

    Mohammed Tawfeeq works for CNN. He is an Emmy-nominated producer. He is a legal resident of the USA. Thank’s to Trump’s immigration ban, Tawfee

  151. says

    Whoops. Here’s the rest of comment 215: Thank’s to Trump’s immigration ban, Tawfeeq was detained at an Atlanta airport. He is now suing, claiming “unlawful detention.”

  152. says

    Followup to comment 216.

    […] Defendants used Trump’s recent executive order to unlawfully detain Tawfeeq, who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., an immigrant from Iraq, an award-winning Middle Eastern journalist and the current manager of CNN’s International Desk, the lawsuit states
    The lawsuit, filed against the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies, seeks a declaration of Tawfeeq’s rights under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    The suits states that applying this executive order to lawful permanent residents or green card holders returning after a brief trip abroad violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution.

    “The executive order has greatly increased the uncertainty involved in current and future international travel for returning lawful permanent residents like Mr. Tawfeeq,” the lawsuit states.

    Atlanta Journal Constitution link

  153. says

    Trump scammed many of the working-class voters in the USA. He claimed he was on their side. He isn’t. Republicans in Congress are ready to take advantage of the situation by screwing workers.

    On Wednesday, Republican Reps. Steve King (IA) and Joe Wilson (SC) re-introduced a so-called “right-to-work” bill that would significantly hamper unions across the country and likely lower wages for all Americans.

    […] they may feel emboldened by having an ally in the White House. On the campaign trail, President Trump said he is “100 percent” in favor of right-to-work laws.

    No American can be forced to join a union or pay dues that are used for political purposes. But right-to-work laws go further: they repeal the requirement that all employees in a unionized workplace must pay dues to the union, given that it bargains on behalf of all workers — and, therefore, the benefits of those negotiations flow to everyone. […]

    According to a paper from the Economic Policy Institute, wages in right-to-work states were 3.1 percent lower as of 2012 than in those without these laws, even when controlling for a variety of factors. That translates into a loss of more than $1,500 a year for an individual full-time worker.

    […] Employees in right-to-work states are also less likely to get health insurance or pensions from their employers. […]

    There is a strong relationship between declining union membership and declining incomes for the country’s middle class. There is also evidence that falling unionization is strongly associated with increasing income inequality, where more of the money generated goes to the wealthiest, leaving less for everyone else.


  154. says

    More “inconvenience,” to use Sean Spicer’s word, resulting from Trump’s immigration ban.

    The flights for thousands of refugees were booked weeks in advance. Apartments, leased ahead of their arrival, even had the rent paid in full through the first month. Volunteers added their personal touch by sprucing up the living rooms with used furniture and stocking the refrigerators with food.

    At the end of last week, refugee resettlement organizations in 40 major cities across the country braced for the next wave of arrivals. But instead of beginning the new lives planned out for them in the United States, advocates say, more than 850 refugees were told to not even bother heading to the airport. […]

    “This in effect can be a permanent ban. Many people may never be able to come,” said Lavinia Limón, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. […]


  155. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Follow up on 210 and 212. Surely Trump can’t make Black History Month about how unfairly he is treated, can he?

    Oh yes he can.

    Last month we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office. And it turned out that that was fake news from these people, Trump said during his introductory remarks, gesturing at the pool reporters who had been allowed in to view the start of the meeting. Fake news. The statue is cherished … but they said the statue, the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace. But that’s the way the press is, very unfortunate.
    The president continued his attack against the media moments later as he introduced Paris Dennard, a supporter of Trump’s who appeared regularly on CNN and other media outlets during the campaign. Often paired against a supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton, segments featuring Dennard occasionally became heated, which Trump noted in his remarks.

    Paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community. He’s all by himself. He’ll have seven people and Paris, Trump said. I’ll take Paris over the seven. But I don’t watch CNN so I don’t get to see you as much. I don’t like watching fake news. But Fox has treated me very nice, wherever Fox is, thank you.

    Later in the meeting, Armstrong Williams, a conservative TV and radio host, introduced himself as a member of what we call the media. Williams, who is a close adviser to [Ben] Carson, added that not all media seems to be the opposition party. There are those that see good that you do and we report it.

    Williams’ claim that not everyone in the media is part of the opposition party to Trump was a nod to White House senior adviser Steve Bannon, who told the New York Times in an interview that the press should keep its mouth shut and that the media here is the opposition party. In subsequent remarks, Trump agreed and reiterated that point Wednesday.

    A lot of the media is actually the opposition party. They’re so biased. And really it’s a disgrace. Some of the media is fantastic and fair. But so much of the media is opposition party. And knowingly saying incorrect things, Trump said. So it’s a very sad situation. But we seem to be doing well. You know, it’s almost like in the meantime, we won, so maybe they don’t have the influence they think. But they really are — they really have to straighten out their act. They’re very dishonest people.

  156. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump has selected Jerry Falwell Jr. to “head up a new task force that will identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education’s policies and procedures.”

    During Trump’s campaign, Falwell Jr. compared him to Jesus Christ. Falwell thinks that God called Trump to run for president.

    Falwell Jr. is also virulently anti-Muslim. He told Liberty University students: “if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.”

    Falwell Jr. opposes LGBT rights, supports creationism and denies climate change.

    Like Betsy Devos, Falwell Jr. supports school vouchers and the funneling of taxpayer funds to schools with a Christian religious mission.

  157. says

    An update on Trump turning the Voice of America into his personal propaganda machine:

    […] The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy,” oversees a global network of broadcasters. Through Voice of America, […] and nonprofit grantees like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, […] BBG reaches an audience of 278 million people in 100 countries and 61 languages.

    This is a critical moment for U.S. public diplomacy. Russia is fighting an information war in Europe and across the world in order to produce electoral victories for favored political parties and candidates. […] The Islamic State group uses a vast social media apparatus to recruit new adherents to violent extremism. U.S. efforts to counter those challenges depend in part on ensuring that accurate, meaningful information is conveyed to foreign communities.

    As the new administration takes over that vast apparatus, it has deputized Matthew Ciepielowski and Matthew Schuck “to the CEO suite at the BBG where they will work with senior management” to oversee the transition, […]

    Trump has sent two hacks with little to no experience in journalism and none at all in public diplomacy or international relations […]

    Ciepielowski is a 2011 graduate of Quinnipiac University, where he majored in political science and public relations, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was news editor and senior managing editor for the Quinnipiac Chronicle; […] That is the sum total of what could, under the most charitable circumstances, be described as his journalism background.

    […] Ciepielowski titled one of his college opinion pieces “Truth doesn’t kill people, our government does.” […]

    Ciepielowski was also a central figure in a Trump campaign finance scandal. In July, experts highlighted “red flags” in Trump’s Federal Election Commission filings, including a potentially illegal pattern of “what appeared to be double reimbursements” for the same employee expenses, according to CNBC. Ciepielowski “received the most money, bringing in $7,199 — all tax free,” according to the channel.

    […] It’s unclear whether Ciepielowski’s radical theories about the correct size of government allow room for public diplomacy. […]

    Matt Schuck: The Right-Wing Media Hack

    After graduating in 2012 from Montgomery College, where he studied broadcast radio and mass communications, Schuck rotated between jobs in the right-wing media and conservative and corporate public relations gigs before becoming Trump’s Wisconsin communications director in August.

    […] He has flacked for the Koch-funded Conservative Veterans for America and for the Online Lenders Alliance, the trade organization for the disreputable payday-lending industry.

    […] Mattera was once a conservative wunderkind, becoming the editor of the venerable right-wing magazine Human Events in 2010, at age 26. He was terminated two years later, soon after accidentally conducting an ambush interview of a Bono impersonator (he thought he was actually ambushing Bono). […]


  158. says

    Followup to What a Maroon’s comment 220.

    Trump also seized the opportunity to diss black communities as “terrible.”

    We’re going to work very hard in the inner city. Ben [Carson] will be doing that, one of his big things. We need safer communities. We’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re going to make it safe. We’re going to make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible.

    It would be hard to craft a worse presentation to honor Black History Month.

  159. ChasCPeterson says

    re #221: Note that Falwell’s panel is tasked with reforming the Dept. of Education’s policies on higher, i.e. post-secondary, education. Washington Post:

    “In the Department of Education, there’s too much intrusion into the independent accreditation,” Falwell told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. “There’s too much intrusion into the operation of universities and colleges. I’ve got a whole list of concerns. It mainly has to do with deregulation.”

    …and then from over here::

    Liberty teaches the theory of evolution as well as the Biblical account of creation (including that the universe could have been created with the appearance of age just as the first man and woman were created as adults) and students make up their own minds on the issue. Liberty is proudly an institution that adheres to the Judeo-Christian values upon which our nation was founded and upon which millions of Christians have based their lives and beliefs.

    So, here we go again.

  160. says

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to point out that Trump’s ridiculous, narcissistic and inaccurate statements about Black History Month were made in a “listening session” with black leaders. He didn’t listen.

  161. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna, OM @ # 176: […] Bannon seemed especially taken with the description of refugees offered in the 1975 novel “The Camp of Saints” by French author Jean Raspail.

    I’ve read that (in English translation). To give you an idea of how much racism it has, consider that only one of the millions of dark-skinned heathens “invading” France gets to speak a line (and that just a parroting of a liberal-caricature white politician), and the “leader” of the heathen horde, formerly a desperate scavenger, has no name but gets the epithet “the dung-eater”.

  162. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to point out that Trump’s ridiculous, narcissistic and inaccurate statements about Black History Month were made in a “listening session” with black leaders. He didn’t listen.

    Just another example of Trumpsplainin’.

  163. says

    Once of the results of Trump’s immigration ban was that Iranian citizen Ali Vayeghan, a legal permanent resident of the USA, was detained at Los Angeles International Airport after flying in Friday from Dubai.

    Not only that, immigration authorities put him on a plane back to Dubai. The immigration authorities took that action while ACLU lawyers were trying to get access to their client, and after U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee had issued a stay.

    Judge Gee was not happy. she ordered the immigration authorities to fetch Vayeghan back from Dubai.

    […] 1. Respondents are enjoined and restrained from barring Petitioner’s return to the United States.

    2. Respondents shall transport Petitioner back to the United States and admit him under the terms of his previously approved visa. […]

    5. Respondents shall appear before the assigned judge on February 10, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. to show cause why the preliminary injunctive relief […]

  164. says

    Pierce @226, oh, FFS. Just like Trump, Bannon looks more and more awful as one digs into the details.

    From the Washington Post, an assessment of Steve Bannon that included Bannon’s concerns that:

    […] the United States and the Judeo-Christian West were in a war against an expansionist Islamic ideology – but that they were losing the war by not recognizing what it was. Bannon said this fight was so important, it was worth overlooking differences and rivalries with countries like Russia. […]

    Bannon’s past statements, aired primarily on Breitbart and other conservative platforms, serve as a road map for the controversial agenda that has roiled Washington and shaken the global order during Trump’s first two weeks in office.

  165. says

    An update on Republican plans to sell off public land within the USA:

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz has introduced H.R. 621 that will sell 3,368,278 acres of federal land, a total area that is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The Tea Bag Republican who “represents” Utah’s 3rd congressional district giddily said in a press release that “in Utah, some 132,931 acres of land are eligible for disposal.”

    In addition to Utah, nine other states will see their public lands sold off to private interests. According to Chaffetz’s list, those states are Arizona (453,950 acres), Colorado (93,741 acres), Idaho (110,022 acres), Montana (94,520 acres), Nebraska (6,615 acres), Nevada (898,460 acres), New Mexico (813,531 acres), Oregon (70,308 acres), and Wyoming (694,200 acres). […]


    From The Guardian:

    […] Due to a controversial change this month to the House of Representatives’ rules, the sale does not have to make money for the federal government. A representative for the interior department, Mike Pool, who weighed in on a version of the bill in 2011, said selling those 3.3m acres “would be unlikely to generate revenue”. […]

    Three national monuments are included in Chaffetz’s plan:

    […] Three national monuments […], are part of the list of land Chaffetz wants to “dispose” of in his land grab. They are: the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, was created in Arizona in 2000 by President Clinton; and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and Bear Ears National Monument in Utah, created by President Obama in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

    If we lose these lands to private hands, we will never get them back intact.

  166. says

    Followup to comment 230.

    Pushback from concerned citizens:

    […] Jason Amaro, who represents the south-west chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, describes the move as a land grab.

    “Last I checked, hunters and fishermen were taxpayers,” said Amaro, who lives in a New Mexico county where 70,000 acres of federal lands are singled out. In total, his state, which sees $650m in economic activity from hunting and fishing, stands to lose 800,000 acres of BLM land, or more than the state of Rhode Island.

    “That word ‘disposal’ is scary. It’s not ‘disposable’ for an outdoorsman,” he said.

    Scott Groene, a Utah conservationist, said the state’s elected officials were trying to “seize public lands any way they can”, without providing Americans a chance to weigh in. If residents knew their local BLM land was being threatened, said Groene, “I’m sure the communities would be shocked”. […]

    “The other bill hamstrings our ability to manage and ensure that our public lands are being kept safe,” said Bobby McEnaney of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When you have those two combined, it’s a fairly cynical approach to how public lands can be managed.” […]

  167. Jessie Harban says

    @220, maroon:

    Follow up on 210 and 212. Surely Trump can’t make Black History Month about how unfairly he is treated, can he?

    In Trumpland, orange is the new black.

    If we lose these lands to private hands, we will never get them back intact.

    Eminent domain. Charge the previous “owner” for their restoration.

  168. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Jessie Harban,

    In Trumpland, orange is the new black.

    Where would you like me to place this shiny new internet?

  169. says

    Democrats tried to hold the line when it came to Jeff Sessions. They all voted against him in committee.

    Jeff Sessions is going to be the next attorney general, but he cannot get there through the complicity of Democrats. Judiciary Committee Democrats have set the example, voting unanimously against him. It wasn’t even all that hard.

    On this day, the beginning of Black History Month, Republicans voted unanimously for Sessions, the guy who was too racist to get a federal judgeship 30 years ago. That’s what Minnesota Sen. Al Franken focused on forcefully in his statement against Sessions, as well as Trump’s ridiculous claim that 3 to 5 million people fraudulently voted in this election. Franken pointed out that he had asked Sessions about that claim, and Sessions said, “I’ve not talked to him about that in any depth.” […]


  170. says

    Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as Secretary of State. The vote in the senate was 56 to 43.

    Tillerson was until recently the CEO of ExxonMobil. In 2016 alone, ExxonMobile donated $327,000 to Republican Senators. In the same year, they donated $23,071 to Democrats.

    “U.S. foreign policy is now being run by oil industry,” said the Center for Biological Diversity in a tweet. “Sad. Scary.”

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued a statement:

    Make no mistake, just like Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson has no mandate. He was confirmed with substantially less support than any other Secretary of State in history. It’s unconscionable that the Senate confirmed an oil executive to be America’s ambassador to the world. And yet, that’s exactly what they have done. Perhaps it’s no surprise, since so many of those voting in favor of Rex Tillerson have benefitted from Exxon’s political contributions over the years.

    The Sierra Club is committed to fighting for our families, our communities, and our environment, and we will challenge any environmentally destructive policy Donald Trump or Rex Tillerson throw our way.

  171. says

    I think General Flynn wants to go to war.

    President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says the administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile.

    Michael Flynn told reporters Wednesday that the Trump administration “condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East that puts American lives at risk.”

    He says “Iran is now feeling emboldened,” criticizing the Obama administration for failing “to respond adequately.”

    Flynn says that “we are officially putting Iran on notice,” although it’s not clear what he meant. […]

    This worries me, in part because during his campaign Trump talked about revoking the nuclear deal with Iran.

  172. hjhornbeck says

    Whoo, it’s been a while. What did I miss?

    Under committee rules, it is required that at least one Democrat be present for the panel to vote to send a nominee to the Senate floor. On Tuesday, not a single Democrat showed up, putting the two nominations at a standstill.

    Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, pointed to the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the gathering and allowed the Republicans in the room vote to suspend the rules of the committee.

    With the committee rules suspended, the 14 Republicans in the room voted to move the Mnuchin and Price nominations to the full Senate, even without the presence of a single member of the opposite party.

    Republicans can re-write the rules if they wish? That’s not new.

    Force Trump to renominate Garland. Filibuster every nominee until he does. I have no illusions that the Senate would accept Garland; the Republicans still have the majority. Then Trump will come in with another nominee, almost certainly Gorsuch. Yes, even under that scenario, the Republicans will gain a seat on the court; they would have anyway, even if they had considered him during the Obama Administration, because the GOP had the senate majority then, too, and would have voted him down. (Democrats knew the price of a Trump victory could be the Republicans would get to name the next Supreme Court justice, and enough of the anti-Clinton types chose to sit out or cast their vote for someone who could not win anyway. They have relinquished the right to object.)

    So, even though Garland would not win a Senate confirmation vote, a precedent needs to be established: the Senate’s confirmation responsibilities under the Constitution are not a joke, are not something where absurd rationalizations that pass for smarts on Fox News can be used to circumvent history and precedent. Nominees must be given hearings and votes. And yes, if that means letting the Republicans blow up the filibuster, let them do it.

    OK, THAT is new. Kurt Eichenwald tries to be very centrist, and approves of maybe half of Trump’s cabinet. And yet he’s calling for full-throated obstructionism by the Democrats until they give Garland a legit chance.

  173. says

    Let’s look at the details behind yet another person illegally detained under Trump’s immigration ban:

    A federal judge has set a court hearing for a Cleveland Clinic medical resident from Sudan who was deported Saturday due to President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order.

    Suha Abushamma is a first-year resident at the prestigious medical institution and cut short a trip to the Middle East after hearing rumors that Trump was about to issue an order limiting travel to the U.S. by residents of certain majority-Muslim countries. She arrived at JFK Airport on an H1-B specialty work visa Saturday.

    Customs and Border Protection officials detained her at the airport and warned her that if she didn’t cancel her visa she could be barred from the U.S. for five years. She asked for time to work it out, but was put back on a plane to Saudi Arabia Saturday night.

    That evening, Brooklyn-based U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly barred the removal of people in Abushamma’s situation, but it appears the medical resident was on her way back already.

    Another federal judge in Brooklyn, Carol Amon, issued a “show cause” order Wednesday informing the government that she’s considering reinstating Abushamma’s visa and ordering authorities to admit her to the U.S. Amon set a hearing on the issue for Feb. 15. […]


  174. hjhornbeck says

    Meanwhile, Trump tried to be cagey about where he was going this afternoon. It turns out, he’s doing something I didn’t think he would: meeting the remains of the soldier who died in that botched Yemen raid. As is typical, though, he’s apparently botched that too.

    Turns out Trump is going to go have a photo op with a SEAL’s casket. You know, the one whose wife Spicer just outed. These fucking people.

    This Administration just endangered a fallen SEAL’s family and then on a fucking whim is going to go capitalize on his death at an airport

    I would’ve torn a motherfucker apart with my bare hands if they’d brought me Tom home in a coffin and tried to photo op it. On national TV.

  175. says

    Trump, the great negotiator and businessman, just lost a lawsuit.

    A federal judge has ordered a golf club owned by President Donald Trump to refund nearly $6 million to members who said Trump’s team essentially confiscated refundable deposits after taking over the country club in 2012

    U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled that the Trump National Jupiter Golf Club violated the contracts with members by retaining the fees and locking out many members who had declared their plans to resign. […]


    Trump’s lawyer plans to appeal.

  176. says

    hornbeck @240, same operation in which an 8-year-old girl was killed, other SEAL’s were injured, and an Osprey aircraft had to be destroyed on the ground. Looks like a major fuck up all around.

    Trump took his daughter Ivanka with him for the photo op with the SEAL’s casket. It looks like Ivanka is playing the part of White House wife after all.

    A lot of military personnel are going to be offended.

  177. says

    Bodega owners in NYC are closing their stores from noon to 8 p.m. tomorrow to protest Trump’s executive order on immigration:

    […] “This shutdown of grocery stores and bodegas will be a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric,” the organizers of the event wrote on their Facebook page.

    According to BuzzFeed News, the Bodega business community in New York City is mainly dominated by Yemeni Americans many of whom are upset by the president’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Yemen is one of the countries affected by the ban. […]


  178. says

    Immigrants make up 22 percent of the health workforce and 30 percent of doctors and surgeons in the US. Trump’s immigration ban will negatively affect healthcare in the USA.

  179. hjhornbeck says

    Let’s take a break from US government bullshit to touch on some Canadian bullshit.

    “There has been tremendous work by the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, outreach by Members of Parliament by all parties, and engagement of 360,000 individuals in Canada through,” Trudeau writes in his letter to Gould.

    “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.” […]

    Trudeau first committed to replacing the current first-past-the-post electoral system in June 2015, shortly before the federal election campaign. His government’s first throne speech then promised that the Liberals would “take action to ensure that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.”

    A special committee of the House of Commons was struck last June and all MPs were invited to hold town hall meetings on electoral reform. In addition, Monsef conducted her own national tour and launched an online survey about the Canadian political system. When the committee returned its final report to the House in December, a majority of members recommended calling a referendum on some form of proportional representation.

    You’d think that given the wild election results from the USA, the Trudeau government would be in favor of election reform. But no, after all that time and money, they decided to stick with a broken system that benefits their party.

  180. says

    This is a followup to comment 210.

    Just like Trump, Sean Spicer also thinks Frederick Douglass is doing a tremendous job.

    It’s obvious that Trump and Spicer have no clue of the roll Frederick Douglass played before he died in 1895.

    Trump said: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I noticed.”

    Sean Spicer said: “Well, I think there’s contribution, I think [Trump] wants to highlight the contributions that he has made, and I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s gonna make, the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”


  181. hjhornbeck says

    Also, Democrats are claiming Michael Flynn violated the Constitution.

    The ranking Democrats on six House congressional committees asked the Pentagon on Wednesday for information about President Trump’s national security adviser, suggesting that he may have violated a constitutional restriction by accepting a fee for speaking at a 2015 Moscow dinner.

    Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, sat with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin during the event, a celebration for the Kremlin-controlled RT television network.

    The lawmakers suggest that the fee he received may have violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits top officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.

  182. hjhornbeck says

    Speaking of Constitutions, let’s check in on that Constitutional crisis.

    The lack of communication between the executive branch and the legislative branch continued into Tuesday, when Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters that the State Department says it is not permitted to speak to congress about the ban. Although the judge issued a stay on enforcing the ban, airlines are still preventing passengers with passports from the sanctioned countries from boarding planes.

    While the head of the Justice Department defied Trump and he fired her for it, replacing her with a loyalist, the rank and file of border patrol, whose job is to actually enforce the law, might have more loyalty to Trump’s edicts than to the legal process.

    The extremes of American politics in the days after Trump’s nomination even have David Brooks, a New York Time columnist noted for his unflinching dedication to bloodless centrism, to put matters in apocalyptic terms.

    “With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times,” Brooks wrote of Republicans “Faustian” bargain with Trump. “But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature. And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice.”

    Still ongoing, I see. Here’s a more personal take.

    On Monday, immigration attorneys went to the U.S. Marshals Service office in downtown L.A. to ask the agency to serve notice on local customs officials. But a representative refused, according to attorney Laura Riley. She told KPCC that she and two other attorneys spent nearly all day in the marshals office at the federal courthouse in downtown LA. When a marshals official suggested they try serving the notices to a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s office, they rushed to another federal building eight blocks away. No luck, said Riley.

    “It’s kind of harkening back to the 1950s and orders for schools to desegregate,” said Loyola Law School Professor Allan Ides. “Back then, some government officers were doing their best to avoid the orders and refuse to obey the orders.”

    “To me, it’s leading to a constitutional crisis,” he added.

  183. hjhornbeck says

    Also, Reuters’ Editor-in-Chief sent out a memo.

    The first 12 days of the Trump presidency (yes, that’s all it’s been!) have been memorable for all – and especially challenging for us in the news business. It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” or that his chief strategist dubs the media “the opposition party.” It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.

    So what is the Reuters answer? To oppose the administration? To appease it? To boycott its briefings? To use our platform to rally support for the media? All these ideas are out there, and they may be right for some news operations, but they don’t make sense for Reuters. We already know what to do because we do it every day, and we do it all over the world.

    To state the obvious, Reuters is a global news organization that reports independently and fairly in more than 100 countries, including many in which the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack. I am perpetually proud of our work in places such as Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia, nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists. We respond to all of these by doing our best to protect our journalists, by recommitting ourselves to reporting fairly and honestly, by doggedly gathering hard-to-get information – and by remaining impartial.

    In other words, Reuters isn’t worried about Trump’s threats because they deal with authoritarian regimes that censor the press all the time.

  184. hjhornbeck says

    More details on Flynn’s sabre-rattling.

    The announcement was not accompanied by any change in the US military stance in the region, nor any immediate additional deployments.

    “We saw the statement as well,” said a spokesman for US central command, which runs operations in the Middle East. “This is still at the policy level, and we are waiting for something to come down the line. We have not been asked to change anything operationally in the region.”

    The Pentagon was informed before the announcement and the defense secretary, James Mattis, prevailed upon Flynn to soften his language about Iran from an earlier version. At the time of the Flynn’s statement, Mattis was en route to Asia for an official visit to Japan and South Korea.

    Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group in Washington, said: “It’s either an empty threat or a clear statement of intent to go to war with Iran. Both are reckless and dangerous … In an attempt to look strong, the administration could stumble into a war that would make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.”

    … what week of the Trump admin are we in?

  185. says

    I wonder what Trump’s religious supporters feel about this. Trump’s immigration ban is killing babies and children.

    The grandparents and uncle of four-month-old Fatemah Taghizadeh have been eagerly awaiting her arrival, planning for open heart surgery at Oregon Health & Science University. Her uncle and grandparents live in Portland for 13 years and arranged for Fatemah and her parents to travel to Oregon for the life-saving heart surgery. After leaving Iran, they were stopped in Dubai for their connecting flight to the states and were told to turn back.

    “It’s like a nightmare. You know, in the one night everything changes. Now you don’t know what you’re going to do,” said Taghizadeh. […]

    “Why we came to U.S., we came here for freedom. For a better life. I’m feeling no where is safe,” Taghizadeh said.

    Fatemah isn’t the only child who may die as a result of this un-constitutional ban targeting Muslims. From the Washington Post:

    They were deemed the most vulnerable cases: refugees suffering from medical conditions so ­severe that normally their journeys to the United States would be expedited.

    One is a 9-year-old Somali child in Ethiopia with a congenital heart disease that cannot be treated in a refugee camp. Another is a 1-year-old Sudanese boy with cancer. A third is a Somali boy with a severe intestinal disorder living in a camp that doesn’t even have the colostomy bags he needs.

    After President Trump’s executive order last week, their resettlement in America was put on hold. Now, the organization responsible for processing refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, Church World Service, says that order could be their death sentence.

    And an 18-month-old boy who suffered severe burns in a refugee camp is separated from his family, who are desperately trying to get to the United States for his surgery next week:

    After preliminary surgery, his dad returned to their war-ravaged country to be with his wife as she gave birth to Dilbreen’s little brother. It was November 8, an hour before Donald Trump won the election. They named the baby “Trump.”

    Dilbreen was set for a second surgery this month. His family was set to stay at the Peace House in Ipswich. Then they got the news their visas were suddenly revoked.

    “So they are stranded in Iraq,” Schuchardt said. “The child is here. The need for surgery is pressing.”

    The cruelty is astounding.


  186. says

    Another judge rules against Trump’s immigration ban:

    A federal judge in Los Angeles issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday night against the enforcement of President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order.

    Judge André Birotte Jr. ruled that Trump’s immigration order posed a likelihood of “irreparable harm” against 28 plaintiffs, including both U.S. citizens and their relatives who had received visas to immigrate to the country, the Sacramento Bee noted. The order allows dozens of Yemeni travelers stuck in Djibouti to travel to the United States.

    In his ruling, Birotte extended the restraining order to protect “any other person from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with a valid immigrant visa” from U.S. officials tasked with enforcing Trump’s order. […]


  187. Jessie Harban says

    The Republicans can’t actually abolish the filibuster midway through a term. If that were allowed, the Democrats would have done it in 2008.

  188. says

    timgueguen @255, I saw that. This is an excerpt from the purported transcript of the call:

    “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

    A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

    The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation. […]

    Mexico’s foreign relations department may have a diplomatic reason to say the report is “falsehoods.” And we may just be dealing with a miscommunication, with a misunderstanding.

  189. says

    There are also reports that Trump insulted the Prime Minister of Australia so egregiously that the Prime Minister hung up on him. We do not know for sure if Turnbull hung up on Trump. The disagreement seems to be related to a refugee resettlement agreement:

    Trump reportedly told Malcolm Turnbull that an already-agreed-on US-Australia refugee resettlement agreement was “the worst deal ever,” and claimed Australia was looking to export the “next Boston bombers.” Officials told the Washington Post the president also bragged about his electoral college win before abruptly ending the call about a half hour early.

    Turnbull has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

    Trump also tweeted about the refugee resettlement deal. He characterized it as “dumb.” He also claimed that “thousands” of “illegal immigrants” would come to the U.S. Not true. There are just over 1,000 people, and they are refugees, not illegal immigrants.

    Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!

    From Mexico, another report claims that Trump said:

    You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.

    There may be some translation issues as well. We’ll have to wait for clarification on this one.

  190. says

    Today the Trump administration insulted Australia, Mexico and Iran.

    Regarding Australia:

    It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

    Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

    At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.” […]

    “This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

    Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admissions of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.” […]

    U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan. […]

    Washington Post link

  191. says

    Re comments 257 and 258, I didn’t quote from the report that claimed Turnbull hung up on Trump; and from other reports it seems more likely that Trump ended the call abruptly. Maybe no one hung up on anyone?

    Either way, it doesn’t sound good.

  192. hjhornbeck says

    Bloody hell, and I was thinking of polishing off my resume.

    Yesterday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that administration officials have drafted a new executive order aimed at overhauling, among other things, the H-1B work-visa program that U.S.-based tech companies have long relied on to bring top foreign engineering talent into their ranks. […]

    Whether and when that executive order gets signed is an open question, but at least one small group of cofounders has banded together to make it easier for U.S. companies to create subsidiaries in Canada and to move their U.S.-based employees to a new, Vancouver-based office, and all within what they describe as weeks, not months. They haven’t created a nonprofit. They’ve instead formed a new company called True North that’s right now offering a $6,000 package that includes airfare for one person to Vancouver, two nights of accommodations, and a day with “world-class immigration professionals who will walk you through the process and answer any questions you have.” […]

    As Bloomberg noted in its report, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon already have offices in Canada where they often position workers while they wait for them to obtain clearance to live and work in the U.S.

    Rafer suggests that people needn’t wait for their employer to legally form a Canadian subsidiary first — that they can and should apply to live in Canada in parallel (that it takes roughly the same amount of time). This Rolling Stone article suggests the process is relatively easy once someone has a Canadian job offer in hand.

    Certainly, Canada’s technology community seems receptive to the idea of welcoming more tech talent. This past weekend, dozens of Canada’s tech CEOs signed a letter asking Canada to offer immediate entry visas to those hit by the order.

    *sigh*, the local talent pool is about to get a lot more competitive…

  193. hjhornbeck says

    Remember all those concerns about local extremists in the USA, like white nationalists and militias? Expect them to escalate.

    The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

    The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

    Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries.

  194. hjhornbeck says

    Small update on the four Russians arrested on treason charges.

    There’s a purge of spies underway in Moscow, where two high-ranking Russian security service agents, a cybersecurity expert and a fourth man have been charged with treason for passing along secrets to American intelligence, according to a lawyer defending one of the men.

    The men were charged “with treason in favor of the United States,” said Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer for one of the defendants. […]

    Several national experts, who do not have direct knowledge of American intelligence operations, suspect that Russian government insiders did leak information and that this Russian crackdown is a result of that.

    Russia’s Interfax news agency, which quoted anonymous sources, said both FSB officers are accused of passing confidential information to the CIA.

    However, other media reports in Russia, also quoting unnamed sources, claim these men have been arrested for taking part in a hacking ring that targeted Russian officials.

  195. hjhornbeck says

    Time for some good news. The civil service is engaging in open revolt.

    Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make. […]

    At a church in Columbia Heights last weekend, dozens of federal workers attended a support group for civil servants seeking a forum to discuss their opposition to the Trump administration. And 180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop next weekend, where experts will offer advice on workers’ rights and how they can express civil disobedience. […]

    “You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Through leaks to news organizations and internal complaints, he said, “people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable.”

    The resistance is so early, so widespread and so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals by workers to do their jobs.

    Asked whether federal workers are dissenting in ways that go beyond previous party changes in the White House, Tom Malinow­ski, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, sarcastically: “Is it unusual? . . . There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security. That happens all the time. It’s totally usual. Nothing to worry about.”

  196. hjhornbeck says

    Oh wow, it was worse than I thought.

    U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

    As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists. […]

    The military officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said “a brutal firefight” killed Owens and at least 15 Yemeni women and children. One of the dead was the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant killed by a 2011 U.S. drone strike. […]

    One of the three U.S. officials said on-the-ground surveillance of the compound was “minimal, at best.”

    “The decision was made … to leave it to the incoming administration, partly in the hope that more and better intelligence could be collected,” that official said.

    As Sunday’s firefight intensified, the raiders called in Marine helicopter gunships and Harrier jump jets, and then two MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to extract the SEALs.

    Trump is exploiting the military to prop up his image, needlessly sending American soldiers to their deaths.

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

    In one way, Trump has impressed me (no, he did not force me into the British Navy!). I have studied history for most of my life. I am a public historian. I read history, especially modern military (the Thirty Years War to the present) and medieval history. I freely admit that my knowledge of US political history is limited — it is not my forte (not the Kia Forte). That said, he really has impressed me. And not in a good way. This is more akin to being really impressed by just how bad that cat turd on the carpet stinks.

    Today is day 11 of his Presidency. If someone had told me a year ago that a President of the United States could provoke a Constitutional crisis in a mere eleven days I would have laughed. No way would anyone be able to do that.

    Okay, I was wrong. Impressively wrong.

    He is a Republican. Republicans spout off constantly about the sacredness of the Constitution, the original intent of the Constitution, the Law-of-the-Land Constitution. Yet here is a man, their own man, who is ignoring rulings (well, he is directing others to ignore these rulings) by federal courts — y’know, the checks and balances put in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers?

    Here is a man who is borrowing Congressional staffers on the sly and then forbidding them to tell their employer, who is a congresscritter — y’know, the separation of powers put in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers?

    Here is a man who thinks that an Executive Order trounces federal law — y’know, that whole ‘a government of laws’ thing? Here is a man who has set himself on a course to gut the freedom of the press — y’know, that whole bit about a well-informed public being the foundation of a democracy?

    Add into that the Emolument’s Clause and his reported 19% share of the Russian oil company; all of the deals with foreign governments and businesses to put his name on buildings; attacking our allies — including our biggest trading partners — while engaging in propaganda about Russia that would have made Goebbels gag; muzzling government scientists; threatening civil servants; firing the acting AG for refusing to comply with, and defend, an illegal Executive Order; and ordering federal agencies to ignore court rulings to expedite a project in which he has invested.

    This does not even include his temper tantrums, his ego-maniacal obsession with his inauguration numbers, his ongoing feud with a comedy show, engaging in stochastic terrorism, gutting health care (insurance (the ACA) and (it looks like) research and tracking), demonizing opponents, denial of the idea of loyal opposition, treating disagreement as disloyalty or treason, and generally behaving as a petulant child.

    I cannot count the number of people in the past few decades who have told me that they want the federal government to be run like a business. How do you like it now? Nor can I count the number of people who have told me that they want a non-politician running the country. How do you like it now? Or the people who insist that a President should make instant decisions as considering a problem and studying a problem shows weakness. How do you like it now?

    Hey, GOP! Wake up and get your heads out of your asses! Trump is committing treason (selling America’s interests for a personal share of Russian oil). Trump is gutting the Constitution. Trump is destroying the professionals who handle the day-to-day operations of the federal government. Trump is destroying relations with allies and trading partners. And you are going along with it! GOP leaders, you are committing and/or abetting treason, malfeasance, law-breaking, and unConstitutional activities. And you claim to be the party of the Constitution, the party of Law and Order, the party of Tradition!

    Bullshit. You are now exposed as a party that cares nothing of tradition, law and order, or the Constitution. You care about power, about holding power, and using that power to send more money to the 1% of Americans who provide almost all of your campaign funding, your vacations, and, when you retire, your multi-million dollar a year jobs.

    So, yeah, Tump impresses me. Zero to Constitutional crisis in eleven days. And the GOP impresses me. Abandoning every shred of consistency in less than a month.

    One of the ideas in the Marxist lexicon is ‘heightening the inherent contradictions of the capitalist system.’ The idea that ameliorating the plight of the working class is pointless as it would only delay the inevitable post-capitalist egalitarian society. Dare I hope that this Presidency, coupled with the sycophantic contortionism of congress, may wake Americans up to the value of progressive politics? Or is this just the first step down a trail that will see the world war, depression, starvation, and the destruction of a flawed-but-(usually)-effective democracy?

  198. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    Dare I hope that this Presidency, coupled with the sycophantic contortionism of congress, may wake Americans up to the value of progressive politics?

    The Nazi regime woke Germans up to the value of progressive politics. All it took was 12 years of an increasingly oppressive regime, along with a six-year war that left about 60 million dead, including the genocide of 6 million Jewish people.

    Of course, they didn’t have nukes.

  199. hjhornbeck says

    So, about Ukraine. Emphasis mine:

    The Trump administration is facing its first major test on the international stage as volleys of Russian artillery and rockets continue to pound Ukrainian forces in the country’s contested east, reigniting the frozen conflict and killing about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers since Sunday.

    The barrages, along with renewed pushes by Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces near the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, spiked dramatically on Sunday. The day before, Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held their first phone call, reportedly talking about forming a new alliance against the Islamic State and working together on a range of other issues.

    The international body tasked with monitoring violations of the Minsk agreement reported at least 2,300 explosions from artillery, mortars and rocket fire on Sunday alone, the day after the Trump-Putin call. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said this was a sharp increase from the intermittent shelling that marks an ordinary day long the front, but that the fighting was so intense it could not properly keep count.

    Apparently, Putin liked what he heard.

  200. hjhornbeck says

    Also, Steve Bannon is convinced the US will go to war with China and head back to the Middle East.

    The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

    Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

    Congresspeople are so concerned, they’re trying to oust Bannon via legislation.

    U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., today introduced legislation to protect the National Security Council (NSC) from political interference and to ensure that the president is receiving counsel from national security experts without the dangerous influence of partisan politics. Murphy’s bill is in response to the president’s recent national security directive on NSC structure that permanently added his chief political strategist to the council and downgraded the roles of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    The bill has 50 co-signers, at last count.

  201. hjhornbeck says

    Good news, that bill to sell off Federal land was withdrawn AND the sponsor found a way to blame the Clintons!

    I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago.

    Poor Jason Chaffetz, he sounds obsessed.

  202. hjhornbeck says

    By the way, the White House nearly purged every Inspector General.

    The email from Katie Giblin, a member of the presidential transition team, confirms a story The Post reported last week that inspectors general, who by bipartisan tradition have open-ended appointments regardless of party, had been told that they would be held over only on a temporary basis and that they should seek other employment.

    The email shows that the effort to replace the inspectors was not limited to a handful of agencies, but that it was intended to take aim at inspectors general across government departments.

    Oh hey, and Jason Chaffetz shows up here too!

    “I want to let you know that I’ve spoken with the general counsel at the White House on this topic,” Chaffetz said. “I think it’s safe to say that was a mistake, they wish it hadn’t happened, it’s not their approach, it’s not their intention.”

    He added, “With each new administration, I’m sure there’s a learning curve, and hopefully they’ve learned that lesson.”

    Awww, Chaffetz thinks Trump can learn from his mistakes.

  203. hjhornbeck says

    Ogvorbis @3267:

    Add into that the Emolument’s Clause and his reported 19% share of the Russian oil company

    Whoops, I should correct that one. The dossier said Trump was promised the brokerage fees of that 19.5%. If true, Trump would only earn 100-200 million from the deal, not 11 billion.

  204. hjhornbeck says

    Before I go, Trump is lifting sanctions against the Russian FSB.

    Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published Cyber-related General License (GL) 1, “Authorizing Certain Transactions with the Federal Security Service,” pursuant to Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” GL 1 authorizes certain transactions with the Federal Security Service (a.k.a. FSB) that are necessary and ordinarily incident to requesting certain licenses and authorizations for the importation, distribution, or use of certain information technology products in the Russian Federation, as well as transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to comply with rules and regulations administered by, and certain actions or investigations involving, the FSB.

  205. says

    hornbeck @272, Trump does not like accountability. Accountability makes him really irritable. As PZ noted, Trump did not take responsibility for the botched raid in Yemen.

    As for Chaffetz explaining that erasing layers of accountability in government was just a mistake, no it wasn’t. That’s just an example of a nefarious action that Team Trump did not get away with.

    Like the bill to sell federal lands, these “mistakes” are sometimes attempts to see how much Republicans can get away with.

    And there’s so much bad news and evidence of incompetence coming down the pipe that we’re buried in it. That’s a Bannon technique, flood the zone and some things will get through.

    Chaffetz should be concerned about the proposal to replace inspectors across all government departments. He wants something to investigate, he can investigate that.

    An example of Republicans getting away with bad actions:

    Using the little-known Congressional Review Act, the House GOP voted on Wednesday to kill an Obama-era regulation that would require publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments that they made to foreign governments, including taxes and royalties.

    That gift to oil, gas and mining companies was approved on the same day that the Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson, ex-CEO of ExxonMobile, as Secretary of State.

  206. says

    Josh Marshall made some interesting points about that botched raid:

    […] Did Trump press for a more aggressive policy than his advisors counseled? Are they blaming the President for operational shortcomings in the military planning? Whatever the reality of the situation, what seems most germane is that military officials (at least on a fair reading of this Reuters report) seem to be throwing the Commander-in-Chief under the bus. That is a big deal whether they’re pointing out his poor decision making or covering up for their own. […]

    The entirety of Marshall’s article is well worth reading.

  207. tarski says

    The Press Secretary offered something clever just now. The new spin is that we aren’t being intolerant of Muslims, they just aren’t tolerant enough for us. He said the new vetting process Trump wants is supposed to keep intolerant people out.

  208. hjhornbeck says

    I’m back, because of this:

    By easing sanctions against Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Washington paves the way to setting up an anti-terrorism coalition, member of the State Duma (lower house of parliament), former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Kovalyov told TASS.

    “This shows that actual joint work on establishing an anti-terrorism coalition is about to begin,” Kovalyov said. “This is the first step on the way leading to cooperation in the war on terror.”

    Check the timing on this, it came almost simultaneously as Trump announced the sanctions were being eased. The most charitable explanation is that Putin floated the matter to Trump during their phone call, as quid-pro-quo for cooperating on a joint anti-Muslim coalition, and the Kremlin was on watch for it.

    But with the sudden arrest of four people for slipping secrets to the USA, and the continued ignoring of the Ukraine situation, this has the smell of high-level cooperation between the two governments.

  209. hjhornbeck says

    Uhh, this isn’t normal.

    Ilan Berman, vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council think tank, reported that the White House turned off its recording equipment during President Donald Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Following the call with Putin on Saturday, the Kremlin published a readout of the hour-long conversation that suggested the Russian president was pleased with Trump’s tone.

    “During the conversation, both sides expressed their readiness to make active joint efforts to stabilise and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable and mutually beneficial basis,” the Kremlin statement said.

    But while the Kremlin produced a detailed 10-paragraph readout of the call, the White House released only a vague one-paragraph statement saying that Trump received a “congratulatory call from Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

  210. hjhornbeck says

    The Kremlin’s recount of the conversation is over here, incidentally. Emphasis mine.

    During the conversation, both sides expressed their readiness to make active joint efforts to stabilise and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable and mutually beneficial basis.

    Mr Putin and Mr Trump had a detailed discussion of pressing international issues, including the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, strategic stability and non-proliferation, the situation with Iran’s nuclear programme, and the Korean Peninsula issue. The discussion also touched upon the main aspects of the Ukrainian crisis. The sides agreed to build up partner cooperation in these and other areas.

    The two leaders emphasised that joining efforts in fighting the main threat – international terrorism – is a top priority. The presidents spoke out for establishing real coordination of actions between Russia and the USA aimed at defeating ISIS and other terrorists groups in Syria.

    The sides stressed the importance of rebuilding mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two counties’ business communities, which could give an additional impetus to progressive and sustainable development of bilateral relations.

    So on Saturday they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and on Sunday the Kremlin began a major military offensive against it? Americans, I think you have a traitor in the White House.

  211. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    hjhornbeck @ 270,

    Also, Steve Bannon is convinced the US will go to war with China and head back to the Middle East.

    The idiocy of this administration knows no bounds. I’ll admit that I lack Steve Bannon’s vast experience in international affairs, but it strikes me that simultaneously doing what you can to bring about a war you think is inevitable while pissing off the allies you would need in said war is perhaps not the best way to guarantee success.

    Dear President Trump,

    The 19th Century has issued a recall notice on its foreign policy due to serious multiple defects which can lead to widespread death and destruction.

  212. says

    Excerpts from Trump’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning:

    […] We had tremendous success on “The Apprentice.” And they hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings went down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster and Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, OK? […]

    The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out. OK? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out. Believe me. When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. […]

    It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty.” Jefferson asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

    Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that, remember. […]

    During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to get rid of the Johnson Amendment. That amendment states that houses of worship that are tax-exempt cannot participate or intervene in partisan political campaigns. Churches are prohibited from aiding or hiring the campaigns of candidates or of political parties.

    Lyndon Johnson pushed for the amendment in 1954. By law, coalitions of pastors (for example) cannot tell their congregations how to vote.

    Trump’s promise to get rid of the amendment is his way of pandering to the religious right.

    If houses of worship want to be political actors, they can drop their tax-exempt status — but they want to have their cake and eat it too. Activists on the religious right want a religion-based political party, and a religion-based form of government. They want PACs to be able to donate unlimited funds through tax-exempt houses of worship.

  213. says

    Trump’s executive order meant to strip “sanctuary cities” of federal funds is backfiring badly. More and more cities are fighting back:

    […] Since Trump’s election in November, nearly a dozen cities and counties — from progressive California to deep-red Alabama — have voted to adopt sanctuary city policies. […] Some cities that have long held sanctuary status are taking Trump to court, while others are creating legal defense funds and taking other measures to protect undocumented residents. […]

    So far, only one sanctuary jurisdiction out of the nation’s 400 or so, Miami-Dade County, has caved to Trump’s defunding threat. Residents took to the streets to protest the decision, and they plan to pressure the county commission to restore sanctuary status in the weeks ahead. […]

    Since Trump was elected in November, a wave of cities and counties from coast to coast have adopted the sanctuary policies Trump vowed to “end.” From Birmingham, Alabama and Travis County, Texas in the deep south to Urbana, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio in the Midwest to Olympia, Washington and Alameda, California on the West Coast, cities large and small, urban and rural have adopted the sanctuary city label. […]

    Lansing, Michigan, Menlo Park, California, Phoenix, Arizona and Atlanta, Georgia are currently debating whether to join the list, and more cities could soon follow. […]

    “Local police departments work hard to build and preserve trust with all of the communities they serve, including immigrant communities,” said J. Thomas Manger, the Police Chief of Montgomery County, Maryland. “Immigrants residing in our cities must be able to trust the police and all of city government. This is essential to reducing crime and helping victims.”

    Trump’s executive order cited “aliens who engage in criminal conduct” as the rationale for cracking down on sanctuary cities, saying such people pose “a significant threat to national security and public safety.” Throughout his campaign, he highlighted a handful of murders committed by undocumented immigrants as he whipped up support for his plan.

    Yet a recent analysis of federal data found that sanctuary counties have lower crime rates, poverty rates, and unemployment rates than counties that fully cooperate with ICE. Overall, immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. […]

    “There were children leaving our school system by the dozens. It impacted our agriculture and businesses across the state of Alabama,” said Austin. “So we know what happens when unjust laws are put in place. And we see it again with what the president is doing now.” […]

    Think Progress link

    Yes, that’s right, Trump’s executive order was unethical, and implementing it would make it harder for law enforcement to do its job. But here’s the kicker, that order also would cause economic chaos, loss of jobs and huge deficits for states. Trump the businessman found a way to guarantee job loss. And he found a way to guarantee financial losses for small and big businesses, as well as for state governments.

    Trump took a bullying, threatening stance toward sanctuary cities and he now has a huge coalition of people standing up to him and saying, “No.”

  214. hjhornbeck says

    Whoops, correction time.

    @ilanberman (Ilan Berman)

    @WashingtonPoint FWIW, I don’t know for a fact that they turned it off. Was merely saying it was curious that a rec. didn’t seem to exist.
    9:01 AM – 2 Feb 2017

    That was the source of the claim that the White House shut off the recorders. So take it as a “maybe.”

  215. says

    A lot of people don’t trust Trump, no matter how many times he says, “Trust me.”

    Federal employees worried that President Donald Trump will gut their agencies are creating new email addresses, signing up for encrypted messaging apps and looking for other, protected ways to push back against the new administration’s agenda.

    Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent. […]


    The distrust in Trump also manifests itself in leaks from the White House.

    A feeling of distrust has taken hold in the West Wing of Donald Trump’s White House and beyond, as his aides view each other and officials across the federal government and on Capitol Hill with suspicion.

    The result has been a stream of leaks flowing from the White House and federal agencies, and an attempt to lock down information and communication channels that could have serious consequences across the government and at the Capitol, where Trump tries to implement and advance his agenda. […]

    Inside the White House, several Trump staffers said they were shocked at the number of leaks coming out of the operation having not worked in the Trump orbit before. “People are just knifing each other,” one of these people said.

    “Trying to nail down who the leakers are is like trying to count the cockroaches under the couch,” said Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump adviser who keeps in touch with some Trump aides. […]


  216. hjhornbeck says

    Is it worth printing Trump and Spicer’s defense of the sanction easing? Oh, why not:

    Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, was accused of hacking into the email systems of Democratic Party officials and organizations. As a result, the Obama administration placed additional sanctions against Russia in late December.

    “We are not easing sanctions. The Treasury Department — from what I understand, it is a fairly common practice for the Treasury Department, after sanctions are put in place, to go back and to look at whether or not there needs to be specific carve-outs for different either industries or products and services that need to be going back and forth,” Spicer said.

    One reporter said it “suggests that you are in fact easing sanctions and authorizing certain transactions with the Federal Security Service,” and asked whether that language suggested a shift in policy.

    “No, it doesn’t” suggest any shift, Spicer said. “It is, from my understanding, a regular course of action that Treasury does quite often when there are sanctions imposed. But I would refer you back to the Treasury Department.

    Asked about Russia by a scrum of reporters at his meeting with executives from Harley-Davidson and others on Thursday, Trump responded dismissively.

    “I haven’t eased anything,” he said as reporters left the room. “I haven’t eased anything.”

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

    Spicer: Delivering accurate, timely, authoritative and honest disinformation to the American public.

  218. says

    Apropos of Ogvorbis’ comment 290, Jiayang Fan wrote an article for The New Yorker titled “Donald Trump Through a Loudspeaker, Darkly.”


    […] In recent days, as Trump and his cohorts have peddled blatant falsehoods—that his Inauguration attracted the largest crowd in history, or that he lost the popular vote owing to millions of votes by illegal aliens—I have wondered about the extent to which minds can be controlled, or, rather, commandeered, by the relentless deluge of misinformation.

    Like many Chinese immigrants, my mother and I came to America so that my father could pursue graduate studies, not to seek political freedom. When I was old enough to study the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen massacre, periods in Chinese history when the authoritarian government subjected its citizenry to inexpressible brutality, I would wonder about everything I knew, or thought I had known. The one time I asked my mother about why she did not resist, she answered distractedly and somewhat defensively: it was a very confused time. Who could know what was true and what was false? What to believe and whom to trust?

    The muddling of fact and fiction is a tried-and-true tactic of totalitarian regimes. What’s more, when the two are confused for long enough, or when an indefatigable war on truth has been waged for a year, or two years, or perhaps eight, it will likely be harder and more tiresome to untangle them and remember a time when a firm line was drawn between the true and the false as a matter of course. If amnesia breeds normalization, fatigue has always served as the authoritarian’s great accomplice. […]

    Orwell again: “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” […]

    In the next four to eight years, American children will be born in a country led by a vainglorious man who wishes to fit facts—and their future—into the convenient shape of his ego. But democracy, freedom of expression, and, above all, the right to truth are not antiquated pieties. They belong to citizens who can still make their voices heard, before resignation metastasizes into complacency, exhaustion into self-doubt. The struggle will be to maintain openness and tolerance as the norm, the values that our children absorb into their identities naturally—to be defended rather than be defensive about. […]

  219. says

    Steve Benen responded to tweets from Trump, lack of clarification from Spicer, and hawkish but mysterious statements from General Flynn about putting Iran on notice:

    […] So, the rookie White House is making vague pronouncements about the Middle East, while the amateur president tweets recklessly and his administration says nothing to the military personnel who need a heads-up about such things.

    It’s almost as if there’s no adult supervision in the West Wing right now, and the result is an increasingly dangerous environment.

    The people who needed a heads-up, CentCom, also responded:

    “We saw the statement as well,” a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which runs operations in the Middle East, told The Guardian. “This is still at the policy level, and we are waiting for something to come down the line. We have not been asked to change anything operationally in the region.”

  220. says

    Nancy Pelosi spoke out strongly against Steve Bannon:

    What’s making America less safe is to have a white supremacist named to the National Security Council as a permanent member, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence are told, “Don’t call us we’ll call you.”

    It’s a stunning thing that a white supremacist would be a permanent member of the National Security Council.

    Bernie Sanders said something similar:

    Putting Steve Bannon, an extreme right-wing operative, on the National Security Council is dangerous and he should be removed.

  221. says

    As SC and others have noted many times on this thread, cable news should stop airing Sean Spicer’s White House briefings live.

    Julie Alderman at Media Matters agrees:

    Cable news has given White House press secretary Sean Spicer nearly 15 hours of airtime to spout lies on behalf of the administration in the past two weeks, but it’s time for the networks to stop airing his press briefings live. Spicer has shown that he is incapable of living up to his pledge to tell the truth to the press, and cable news should stop giving him a platform to continue lying to the public.

    […] in the days since Spicer pledged to tell the truth, he has continued to lie from his spot behind the lectern on a variety of topics:

    He doubled-down on his claims about inauguration viewers, while changing his tune to say he meant total viewership, not just in-person crowds. He said Trump had “the largest-watched inauguration ever,” even though, as The Washington Post reported, “there’s no evidence” to back up even that narrower claim.

    He blamed the media for starting the “myth” that Trump had a “rift” with the intelligence community, even though, as Politico noted, there are “several specific instances” where Trump “publicly disparaged the intelligence community.”

    He hyped Trump’s claim that “millions of people … voted illegally” in the 2016 election, yet when officials searched for cases of voter fraud, they found “next to none,” as The New York Times reported.

    He asserted that Trump had an “overwhelming” Electoral College victory, winning the most electoral votes of “any Republican since Reagan,” but his tally actually ranked 46th out of 58 elections in terms of the proportion of the electoral vote he received.

    And he claimed that there had been no changes to the makeup of the National Security Council Principals Committee from prior administrations, though NPR reported that Trump’s decision to include his chief strategist (Stephen Bannon) on the committee is “a departure from any past administration.”

    […] Essentially, cable networks have relinquished airtime to show unfiltered White House propaganda. And it’s not just cable news; some broadcast networks have followed suit, breaking from scheduled midday coverage to listen to Spicer’s lies while other outlets stream the briefings live on Facebook.

    […] The role of the news media is to accurately inform the public. Giving Spicer an unfiltered platform to spout misinformation daily does a disservice to viewers, and cable news must stop this pattern.

  222. hjhornbeck says

    Something worrying:

    @marygeorgant (Mary Georgantopoulos)

    Lawyers for ACLU said gov had still not provided a list of # people detained and removed from US airports since Saturday’s court order.
    12:47 PM – 2 Feb 2017

    But two things the Trump White House has done right, in my books:

    @NBCNightlyNews (NBC Nightly News)

    BREAKING: US Amb. to UN Haley: “I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia” in eastern Ukraine.
    1:41 PM – 2 Feb 2017


    The White House warned Israel on Thursday – in a surprising statement – to cease settlement announcements that are “unilateral” and “undermining” of President Donald Trump’s effort to forge Middle East peace, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post.

    For the first time, the administration confirmed that Trump is committed to a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict negotiated between the parties.

    Of course, these should be taken with a Trump-appropriate level of skepticism.

  223. hjhornbeck says

    The current mood in the White House: paranoid.

    The starkest manifestation of the paranoia has played out with Trump’s executive orders, as many key players were left in the dark as the White House forged ahead with sweeping, controversial policies.

    While reports have emerged in recent days about various officials blindsided by the orders, interviews with several people involved in the process reveal the extent of the secrecy and chaos. The highly controversial immigration and travel ban signed by Trump last Friday was so tightly held that White House aides, top Cabinet officials, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and other Trump allies had no idea what was in it even when it was signed — and that was just how top advisers and aides wanted it.

    “Someone would have leaked it,” one administration official said. […]

    Senior Trump aides say they don’t trust the agencies because they believe they are stacked with Democrats and people loyal to former President Barack Obama. “Every time something got to one of the agencies, it got out,” one person said about various memos that were sent during the transition.

    Until the agencies are filled with Trump people, the agencies are unlikely to get information quickly, several people involved in the administration say. Agency officials have been specifically directed to not tell others outside Trump world about their plans, people with knowledge of the conversations say. “They are really limiting their contact with us,” one longtime government employee said.

    Agency staff say the White House’s unwillingness to share information is also causing issues because it is difficult to implement their executive orders or policies or study effectiveness unless the contents are known in advance. For instance, officials at the Department of Homeland Security say they could have better prepared for the travel ban had they not learned about the restrictions in real time. Instead, foreign travelers were left in limbo for hours at airports and were given conflicting information about their entry into the United States, as protests raged outside.

  224. says

    This is a followup to comment 283.

    Trump vowed to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment. On the same day, Republicans introduced legislation to do just that.

    […] The law known as the Johnson Amendment, first enacted in 1954, prohibits churches and other religious organizations from keeping their tax-exempt status if they endorse political candidates or participate in partisan political activities.

    The bill introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), a Southern Baptist pastor, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) would let the organizations remain tax-exempt and express political views as long as they are made during regular activities. […]

    “For too long, the IRS has used the Johnson Amendment to silence and threaten religious institutions and charitable entities. As a minister who has experienced intimidation from the IRS firsthand, I know just how important it is to ensure that our churches and nonprofit organizations are allowed the same fundamental rights as every citizen of this great nation,” Hice said in a statement on Thursday.

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has introduced companion legislation in the upper chamber.
    “People who work for a nonprofit still have constitutional rights to assembly, free speech, and free press,” Lankford said.

    Earlier in the day, Trump reaffirmed his support — first made during his campaign — for getting rid of the Johnson Amendment during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast.

    “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” Trump said.


  225. hjhornbeck says

    Also, it sounds like the sanctions easing may be more hot air than substance.

    Lawmakers, scholars, and even former Treasury officials thought President Donald Trump had just eased penalties on Moscow, imagined payback for the election meddling. But in fact the modification announced Thursday was a long-contemplated change to deal with unexpected consequences of slapping sanctions on the Russian security service, or FSB.

    In December, then-President Barack Obama hit the FSB in retaliation for the spy agency’s hacking and leaking campaign during the 2016 election. The FSB doesn’t just spy: It also regulates the import and sale of products featuring encryption technology, like Apple iPhones. Obama’s sanctions prevented American technology companies from acquiring the necessary licenses to sell their products in Russia.

    So on Thursday, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a revision. American technology companies can now buy the necessary licenses — at a value of up to $5,000 — from the FSB in order to sell their products in Russia.

    I don’t agree with the article, as allowing US companies to buy these licenses means increased trade to Russia and effectively eases the pain of these sanctions. Still, it’s worth bringing up a counterpoint.

  226. says

    hornbeck @296, I think Team Trump is mistaken if they think that once they replace all of the Obama administration people with Trump people the leaks will stop.

    There’s infighting at the top, with Bannon and Miller consolidating one power silo, Reince Priebus consolidating another, and Jared Kushner working on yet a third power silo. Nobody knows who to trust. That will prompt staffers to leak all over the place.

    Nobody really trusts Trump, so that lack of trust will continue to cause leaks.

    Rightwing media is in hair-on-fire mode blaming the leaks on people not loyal to Trump. Kellyanne Conway likewise. Will they be surprised when the leaks continue?

    Also, some of the Obama people are career civil servants, and they are not loyal to one president over another. However, I will concede that it is likely that some of them have a preference for facts and reason over propaganda.

  227. says

    The creators of “South Park” said that they are going to spend less time mocking Donald Trump and his followers.

    Despite speculation that the Trump administration will give “South Park” an endless supply of comedic material to work with, the show’s creators say that they’re likely to “back off” targeting the president.

    In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Trey Parker and Matt Stone said satirizing the current political climate has become increasingly difficult because “satire has kind of become reality.”

    “We were really trying to make fun of what was going on, but we couldn’t keep up,” Parker said. “You know, it was, like, what was actually happening was way funnier than anything we could come up with.”

    “So, we decided to just kind of back off and let them do their comedy, and we’ll do ours,” Parker said.


  228. says

    Reality TV fixture and candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership Kevin O’Leary made a blunder today. He posted a video to Facebook today showing him firing several weapons, including a machine gun. This came just before a funeral service for 3 victims of the Quebec City mosque murders. The video was soon pulled. There have apparently been questions in some Canadian right wing quarters whether O’Leary is pro-gun enough. (As is often the case the comments to the link below include dumddumbs being dumbdumbs.)

  229. says

    Obama’s White House worked for months on a plan to seize Raqqa. Trump’s team took a brief look and decided not to pull the trigger.

    So, yeah, the central stronghold of ISIS will remain in place.

    In other news, Trump appears to have tweeted “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” after watching a Fox News segment.

  230. says

    Arrrggghhh! Minnesota Republicans, are you kidding me?

    The Minnesota House Committee voted to make protestors pay law enforcement for the costs of covering a protest. People showed up to complain, to pushback, but the Republicans didn’t listen.

    […] While all but one speaker decried the bill as an attempt to intimidate protesters and curb First Amendment rights, in the end the bill passed out of the committee with a 9-6 split along party lines — with every Republican on the committee voting for it, and every Democrat against.

    The bill’s 27 authors, all Republicans including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, also include eight members of the committee to which it was referred: the House public safety committee, chaired by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, who is also listed as an author. […]

    Twin Cities Pioneer Press link

  231. says

    Speaking of protestors and Republican responses to them, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho wants protestors to make an appointment to protest in advance. No more of this spur-of-the-moment stuff.

  232. Saad says

    Lynna, #302

    Trump appears to have tweeted “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” after watching a Fox News segment.


    “Different point of view”

    Fragile white dudes’ go to excuse.

  233. says

    More proof that Trump and his team insist on being reckless even when they are warned of the consequences ahead of time:

    The director of the Office of Government Ethics warned President Donald Trump against announcing cabinet appointments without first having them vetted by his office, according to records obtained by NBC News and The James Madison Project under a Freedom of Information request.

    “I am not sure whether you are aware that announcing the cabinet without first coordinating with OGE is unprecedented,” OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr. wrote in a November email to top Trump lawyer Don McGahn, as quoted in a report by NBC News.

    He said OGE had “not been involved in the process as to any of these individuals” and warned Trump that his lack of coordination with the office created “unnecessary risk for both the President-elect and the prospective nominees.”

    Shaub wrote that OGE was in contact with Trump’s campaign before the election, per the report, but said the process had “broken down” and that Trump aides ignored or rebuffed “several” attempts the office made to contact McGahn.

    “At present, we have no reliable lines of communication with the transition team — a circumstance that is also unprecedented,” he wrote.

    Trump White House officials did not immediately return requests for comment by NBC News.

    In January, Shaub told top Senate Democrats that the stacked hearing schedule for Trump’s nominees left his office unable to complete ethics reviews on several appointees.

    “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process,” he wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). […]


  234. microraptor says

    Kellyanne Conway Invents Fake Massacre:

    President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.
    Ivanka promised to quit family business; hasn’t even started

    During an appearance on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” on Thursday night, Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and now an adviser in his administration, appeared to make up a fictional “massacre” when justifying the President’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

    “I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” Conway said during an exchange on the program. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

    The media didn’t cover the Bowling Green Massacre because no such event ever happened.

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

    Lynna @299:

    Also, some of the Obama people are career civil servants, and they are not loyal to one president over another.

    All civil servants are supposed to be professionally neutral. I was hired during the Bush I administration. I have never considered myself a Bush loyalist. Rather, I am loyal to the Constitution of the United States of America and am expected to obey the lawful orders of those above me in the chain of command — supervisor, division chief, assistant superintendent, superintendent, regional director, director of the Naitonal Park Service, Secretary of the Interior, President (in that order).

    Notice that there are six levels between me and the first political appointee. If the Trump administration is making the argument that anyone hired during the Obama administration is, by definition, an Obama loyalist, they are going to have to completely dismantle the entire civil service structure. Which would return us to the days when every job in the federal government — from the fireman feeding the boiler in the White House up to the Secretary positions, and everything in between — were political appointments.

    Can you picture the chaos that would reign if every federal employee outside the military lost their job and had to reapply every four or eight years? Goodbye institutional memory as to how things get done. Goodbye to any project that is not completed within four years (the Apollo project? Interstate highways?). Goodbye to any continuity at all.

    I don’t think Trump and his minions have thought this one through.

    However, I will concede that it is likely that some of them have a preference for facts and reason over propaganda.

    If I lie to the public, I could lose my job. Same for my supervisors, my superintendent, for all civil servants. A political appointee? They are loyal to their appointer (in this case, more of a disappointer) and are expected to shade the truth, or lie, to further the needs of the administration. Some lies are significant. Most are not. At my level, I have no choice — I must prefer facts and reason or I could get in trouble. What a political appointee does with my findings is up to them.

    The inherent friction between the professional beaurocrat and the political appointee helps, in my opinion, find different, new, efficient and effective policies — friction is good as long as both sides (appointees and professionals) understand what is going on.

    If Trump thinks that this conflict between propaganda and facts will disappear once his appointees are in place then I don’t think Trump and his minions have thought this one through.

    @ 302:

    In other news, Trump appears to have tweeted “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” after watching a Fox News segment.

    Aren’t the protestors exercising free speech? And is he denying that Yianapoulos practices stochastic violence? I don’t think Trump and his minions have thought this one through.


    I feel like I am living in a novel co-written by Kafka, Vonnegut, and Ludlum. There is no possible way anyone could make this shit up.


    And, just because it bears repeating: I don’t think Trump and his minions have thought this one through.

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


    Oh, no. In Lord of the Flies the characters were much more mature, had more empathy, and were much better at planning for the future than Trump and his minions.

  237. bassmike says

    …… the conch as representing the Constitution. The more I thought about it the more apt it became!

  238. says

    Ogvorbis @308, thanks for this:

    I have never considered myself a Bush loyalist. Rather, I am loyal to the Constitution of the United States of America and am expected to obey the lawful orders of those above me in the chain of command — supervisor, division chief, assistant superintendent, superintendent, regional director, director of the Naitonal Park Service, Secretary of the Interior, President (in that order).

    I shouldn’t have used the word “loyal.” You made an excellent point.

  239. hjhornbeck says

    Remember the debate over whether or not it was an easing of sanctions? Sounds like it was, but in a very clever way.

    Russia ups slaughter of in Ukraine. Trump attacks Australia, Mexico, Germany and other allies. Drops bar on sale of tech to kremlin spies.

    Conservatives who dont fight 4 hearings on trump dropping tech sanctions gainst kremlin hate non-conservatives more than they love America.

    News! Clinton used half-hearted review of sloppy Intel that led to Benghazi deaths. Wait…that was trump and SEAL deaths. So no hearings.

  240. hjhornbeck says

    If you were wondering if the White House was full of anti-Semites, wonder no more.

    The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release. […]

    According to three people familiar with the process, the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues prepared its own statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that, like previous statements, commemorated Jewish victims.

    Instead, the White House’s own statement drew widespread criticism for overlooking the Jews’ suffering, and was cheered by neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.

  241. says

    Sigh. Many Republicans, including Trump, are dismissing protestors as “paid” or as “professionals.”


    Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

    Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado:

    It’s just been a fire hose […] paid protesters from other parts of the U.S.

    Senator Marco Rubio:

    […] paid protestors […]

    Rallies in favor of Trump are great signals of grassroots support … but more that a million protestors in the Women’s March (Marches) for example, those are paid protestors?

    And WTF is a “professional anarchist”?

    Trump paid people to appear and cheer when he announced his candidacy.

  242. hjhornbeck says

    There is good news, though.

    ‏@brianschatz (Brian Schatz)

    The last three days have been the BUSIEST IN CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD HISTORY. By almost double. This is working. Keep it up and please RT.
    2:25 PM – 2 Feb 2017

  243. says

    microraptor @307, oh, FFS. Really?

    Steve Benen commented on Kellyanne Conway’s lie:

    […] This [real, not fake] incident, which did get covered, is what Conway appears to be referring to: “In May [2011], two Iraqi refugees living in Bowling Green, Ky., were charged with trying to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles and money to the Qaeda affiliate in their home country. Neither of the men, Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, was charged with plotting attacks within the United States. A federal sting operation prevented the weapons and money from going to Iraq.”

    The men were arrested, charged, and convicted. They’re both in federal penitentiaries now.

    Because there have been so few incidents like these on American soil, Republicans have tried to use this example of the Iraqis in Bowling Green for all sorts of reasons. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), for example, insisted in 2014 that these two men “attempted to attack Fort Knox.”

    If you don’t remember an attempted attack on Fort Knox, it’s because that didn’t actually happen, either.

    All of which leads us to a few simple questions. First, if the Muslim ban were a sound policy, why does the White House keep making stuff up? Second, how much more mileage do Republicans intend to get out of this one incident from 2011?

    And third, how soon will conservatives everywhere convince themselves that the Bowling Green Massacre really did happen, but those darned liberals just refuse to admit it?

    […] Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) claimed this week that there was an “attempted bombing” in Bowling Green. Again, in reality, that never happened. The Kentucky Republican just made this up. […]

  244. says

    Here’s why Trump is gutting Dodd-Frank:

    We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because frankly I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses and they can’t borrow money. They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank. So we’ll be talking about that in terms of the banking industry.

    Yes, he said that out loud, in front of camera.

  245. hjhornbeck says

    And this is bad news.

    This is alarming. Per @SCClemons, at least 2 Secret Service mgrs were forced to resign & escorted out late last night. (H/T @masg66).

    “One of the fired Secret Service mgrs speculates that Trump is restructuring the service.” So… purge?

    This is happening a day after Politico obtained depositions showing that Trump’s personal security team “lacked basic procedures & policies

    A bit more context here: Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater (& brother of Betsy DeVos) has been advising Trump.

    More context -> “Secret Service agents are required to report any illegalities they witness. Trump’s private security members are not.”

  246. says

    A very relevant book that I haven’t seen referenced much is It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Check it out out – the parallels between Windrip and the unpresident are scary.

  247. says

    Trump reportedly told his females staffers to “dress like a woman.”

    The #DressLikeAWoman hashtag is the top trending topic on Twitter. Women are posting some awesome photos. Link

    Trump is also getting advice on women in the workplace … from two men. Link

    The Trump administration has selected two male CEOs to advise Trump on women in the workforce as part of a meeting with business leaders Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    Doug McMillon, chief executive of Wal-Mart, and Mark Weinberger, chief executive of EY, will advise Trump on the issues, though it’s not clear what exactly they’ll be discussing. […]

    The meeting is part of the “President’s Strategic and Policy Forum” led by Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the private equity group Blackstone. […]

  248. hjhornbeck says

    Here’s another violation of the constitution I missed, but was tipped off to by the previous Twitter thread.

    According to an article by The Christian Science Monitor, Secret Service agents are not legally bound to stay silent once they leave government service. Secret Service agents, moreover, are also required by law to report any illegalities they witness. Trump’s private security members are not.

    The problem of a private security and intelligence force does not end with potential operational interference. It could also be illegal. If President Trump pays for his own private security force after being inaugurated, he would be in violation of a provision of the Antideficiency Act, according to UCLA Law Professor Jon Michaels. “If Trump is paying for them [private security] out of his own pocket, or via third-party, and Congress hasn’t explicitly approved of it, it’s outside of appropriations and illegal,” says Michaels.

    The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal employees from “accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.” […]

    According to [Professor David] Super, even if private security is only throwing protesters out, that’s still duplicating the function of the Secret Service, and as such, would need to be approved by Congress. “Protesters aren’t protesting Trump on just a personal level, they’re protesting him in his role as president. Just because private security is throwing out people that the Secret Service allowed to stay doesn’t mean that they’re not duplicating the function of the Secret Service,” Super says. “The only difference is their discretion in danger assessment.”

    A potential violation of the Antideficiency Act might get lost in the tempest of recent Trump scandals, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. Jon Michaels, the UCLA law professor, worries that this could become bigger than just a private security force. Establishing such a precedent would weaken constraints placed on the executive branch and effectively allow Trump to engage in “checkbook governing”, free to fund any pet cause without congressional approval. “Absent this restriction,” Michaels writes, “the president could hire a phalanx of support staff to do more—or different—work than what Congress authorized, thereby creating fiefdoms of unchecked, unrivaled bureaucratic power.”

  249. Arnie says

    Ogvorbis (#308)

    would return us to the days when every job in the federal government — from the fireman feeding the boiler in the White House up to the Secretary positions, and everything in between — were political appointments.

    Was there ever such a time in the United States? (honest question from an ignorant foreigner)

  250. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Arnie, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 was really the first step the US took toward a professional civil service. Prior to 1820, there was usually turnover whenever the administration changed. This was replaced in 1820 by each office having a 4-year tenure (Andy Jackson thought that was more democratic). In 1867, Congress tried to limit the power of the President to fire a Senate-approved nominee without the approval of the Senate (succeeding completely until 1869 and from 1869 to 1887). Subsequent reforms limited political activity by civil servants and prevented candidates from soliciting contributions from them.

    The Congress critters are trying to turn the clock back to before 1820.

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


    Was there ever such a time in the United States? (honest question from an ignorant foreigner)

    Yes. This is called patronage. One of the ways to buy votes was to promise federal jobs to voters. The idea of a professional, non-partisan federal work force came about primarily because Lincoln was assassinated, putting Johnson in control of federal patronage (the President had ultimate control over all federal jobs, but, in practice, each Senator and Representative handed out the smaller local appointments — postmasters, for example — while the President handled the ones higher up the ladder) which was, to Congress, unacceptable.

    A civil service reform bill was pushed through in 1868 to clamp down on Johnson’s attempts to put his people in jobs traditionally chosen by the local congressional powers (which meant, of course, the local political machine). In 1871, Grant signed into law a bill to create a professional civil service to serve multiple administrations under the aegis of political appointees.

    (done off the top of my head (yes, I checked Wikipedia for the years) so I apologize for any mistakes. Not to be taken orally, anally, aurally, or nasally. Written by an historian in a manufactured building who works with nuts.)

  252. says

    Sean Spicer claimed that the Yemen raid was planned and approved under Obama’s watch. It was not.

    President Donald Trump’s first major military operation, a Navy SEAL raid in Yemen that left multiple civilians dead as well as American Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, may not have been as extensively planned under Obama’s administration as Team Trump initially suggested.

    Colin Kahl, who served as a national security official under President Barack Obama, fired off a series of tweets on Thursday arguing that while the Defense Department had discussed Yemeni raids with Obama in a general fashion, the specific raid attempted by the Trump administration was not brought up.

    Some Yemen facts: 1/DoD worked up GENERAL proposal for OVERALL set of expanded authorities for these types of raids at end of Obama admin

    2/The broad package was discussed in the interagency in the closing weeks of the Obama term. This particular raid was NOT discussed.

    3/Moreover no recommendation was made other than a recommendation to provide the next Administration with the necessary information.

    4/Idea was for next team to run a deliberative process to assess risks.

    5/And, critically, Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen

    6/And therefore should not be something he decided a few days before leaving office. Obama thought the next team should take a careful look.

    7/ And run a careful process. From what I’ve read and heard, however, team Trump didn’t do a careful vetting of the overall proposal or raid

    8/Instead, Trump apparently had dinner with Mattis/Dunford and greenlit the op. I’ve heard there was a Deputies meeting the next day, but…

    Salon link

    […] Members of Mr. Obama’s national security team pushed back Thursday at Mr. Spicer’s description of how the former president had set the stage for the decision. They said the attack had not been approved by Mr. Obama, and that materials left for the Trump team emphasized considerable risks.

    “Not what happened,” Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., wrote on Twitter after Mr. Spicer’s briefing.

    Mr. Kahl’s colleagues said that Lisa Monaco, Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser, told the national security staff in early January that Mr. Obama was not prepared to approve the concept for the raid. Instead, they prepared a memorandum for Mr. Trump’s team that described a variety of options, and underscored the risks.

  253. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Brother Og,
    Interestingly, the impetus for further civil service reform came when James Garfield was assassinated by a disgruntled (and deranged) office seeker.

  254. HappyNat says

    Since Trump lives purely on projection all of the “paid protester” sets off alarm bells in my head. Totalitarian regimes are well known for backing disruptions/attacks that scare people and led to tighter government sanctions and less freedom.

  255. says

    A government lawyer revealed that 100,000 visa were revoked because of Trump’s Muslim ban. That is considerably more that the 109 people that Sean Spicer claimed were “inconvenienced.”

    Over 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, an attorney for the government revealed in Alexandria federal court Friday.

    The number came out during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by attorneys for two Yemeni brothers who arrived at Dulles International Airport last Saturday. They were coerced into giving up their legal resident visas, they argue, and quickly put on a return flight to Ethiopia.

    “The number 100,000 sucked the air out of my lungs,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center, who represents the brothers.

    The government attorney, Erez Reuveni from the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, could not say how many people with visas were sent back to their home countries from Dulles in response to the travel ban. However, he did say that all people with green cards who came through the airport have been let into the United States.

    For people like the brothers, Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, who tried to enter the country over the weekend with valid visas and were sent back, the government appears to be attempting a case-by-case reprieve. They and other plaintiffs in lawsuits around the country are being offered new visas and the opportunity to come to the U.S. in exchange for dropping their suits. […]

    Washington Post link to article written by Rachel Weiner and Justin Jouvenal.

  256. says

    Trump and his team are aiming more hostility at Iran. Trump’s statements from today:

    Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!

    Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion

    The Iranian government is interpreting Trump’s blather as threats.

    To make things worse, Sean Spicer talked about “Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel […]” No. No. No. A Saudi naval vessel was attacked by Houthi militants in Yemen. A Saudi naval vessel, you doofus.

  257. says

    Oh, FFS. After insulting Arnold Schwarzenegger during the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump just had to go further. Today, Trump posted:

    Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a really bad job as Governor of California and even worse on the Apprentice…but at least he tried hard!

    During a White House briefing, Sean Spicer dismissed the dig against Schwarzenegger at the National Prayer Breakfast as “a lighthearted moment.” Not true in Trump’s mind, apparently. In Trump’s mind this is serious, serious enough to take time out from his presidential duties to throw more shade at his replacement on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

    Extreme pettiness.

  258. says

    Elizabeth Warren commented on Trump’s plans to give a lot of expensive gifts to Wall Street:

    Donald Trump talked a big game about Wall Street during his campaign–but as President, we’re finding out whose side he’s really on. Today, after literally standing alongside big bank and hedge fund CEOs, he announced two new orders—one that will make it easier for investment advisors to cheat you out of your retirement savings, and another that will put two former Goldman Sachs executives in charge of gutting the rules that protect you from financial fraud and another economic meltdown. The Wall Street bankers and lobbyists whose greed and recklessness nearly destroyed this country may be toasting each other with champagne, but the American people have not forgotten the 2008 financial crisis—and they will not forget what happened today.

  259. says

    More praise for Trump from white supremacists:

    […] “Donald Trump wants to remove us from undue federal scrutiny by removing ‘white supremacists’ from the definition of ‘extremism,’” the founder and editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer (which takes its name from a Nazi propaganda publication) wrote in a post on the site. “Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.” […]

    Another neo-Nazi site that associates itself with the so-called “alt-right,” Infostormer, celebrated the news and took it as a sign of support. “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime” the post reads. […]


  260. says

    Republicans voted to eliminate the Stream Protection Rule:

    Republicans on Thursday took one of their first steps to officially dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations by easing restrictions on coal mining, […]

    Using an obscure law that allows Congress to review regulations before they take effect, the Senate voted to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which seeks to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining. The Interior Department had said the rule would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests by keeping coal mining debris away from nearby waters.

    The Senate vote was 54 to 45, following a House vote for repeal on Wednesday. […]

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

    More details from Brad Plumer, writing for Vox:

    […] the stream protection rule will be dead. Coal companies will now have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams.

    Killing this regulation won’t really help Trump fulfill his goal of reversing the coal industry’s decline; that decline has more to do with cheap natural gas than anything else. Instead, Republicans are mostly focusing on this rule because they can. […]

    Coal mining is a messy business. In parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia, for instance, mining companies often get at underground coal seams by blowing up the tops of mountains — a process known as mountaintop removal mining. Once that’s done, they’ll frequently dump the debris into the valleys below, which can contaminate streams and waterways with toxic heavy metals.

    Appalachian Voices, an environmental group, estimates that coal companies have buried over 2,000 miles of streams in the region through mountaintop removal mining. And studies have found that when this all debris and waste gets into water supplies, it can have dire health impacts for the people living nearby. […]

  261. says

    Well, that’s understandable. Lots of people and organizations will not attend this year’s White House Correspondence Dinner. Maybe they don’t want to listen to Donald Trump tell jokes.

    […] The New Yorker is canceling the kickoff party that it usually holds at the W Hotel, according to a spokeswoman for the magazine, Natalie Raabe. Vanity Fair is pulling out of co-sponsoring the dinner’s most exclusive after-party, a celebrity-studded affair most recently hosted at the French ambassador’s residence that is considered the capital’s hottest ticket of the year. […]

    “We’ve taken a break from the dinner in the past,” Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, wrote in an email, adding that he planned to spend the weekend fishing in Connecticut instead. […]

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

    Samantha Bee plans to host a competing event. That sounds like fun.

  262. says

    Josh Marshall pointed out that Trump is not a populist. He is a nationalist.

    […] ‘populism’ has always been the wrong name for what Trumpism represents. The unifying message of Trumpism is nationalism, and particularly an aggressive, zero-sum nationalism. […] The style may be ‘populist’ in some generic sense. But the message and agenda is nationalism. That is the focus around which all the actions of these rancorous 13 days come together into a unified whole – aggressive attacks on friends and foes alike, threats of tariffs against non-compliant foreign states, clampdowns on immigration, etc.

    You’ll notice that President Trump often talks about “workers” but it is almost always in the vein of protecting American workers from abuse by foreigners. […] And he never spoke about wealth inequality, financial security provided by programs like Medicare and Social Security, let alone worker protections or labor unions.

    One might add job security, affordable education for children and retirement security generally to the list of the undiscussed. The real theme is one Trump articulated clearly yesterday in his National Prayer Breakfast speech: “We have to be tough. It’s time we’re going to be a little tough, folks. We’re taking advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

    […] The Trump message was about nationalism, power and aggression against the nations of the world who are ‘taking advantage of” us and laughing at us. […]

    But a proper understanding of Trumpism is also a political opportunity for Democrats. Trump is cozying up to the Wall Street barons he campaigned against. He’s about to throw 25 million Americans off their health care.

    […] he also talks about vast tax cuts for his wealthy friends and tax increases for many ordinary working and middle class families. This is a perfect evocation of government by the richest, for the richest, by the rich – and from the President’s own lips. The complete indifference to the supposed interests of the people who voted for him has so many examples it’s almost comical. Democrats need to be building this storyline now. […]