Comments

  1. says

    John Oliver had a good idea, and I hope others join him in this effort.

    […] Given that Trump seems to get so much of his information from cable outlets like Fox News, Oliver will begin buying ads for the DC area on major news outlets — in hopes of catching Trump’s attention as he watches the news. It’s the kind of stunt that Oliver, who once set up a fake church to expose televangelists, has become known for. But this time it’s for a big target: the president of the United States.

    “Until we’re shut down,” Oliver said, “we are prepared to educate Donald Trump one by one on topics we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know about.” […]

    Vox link

  2. says

    Also from WaPo – “Trump turns Mar-a-Lago Club terrace into open-air situation room”:

    Richard DeAgazio was already seated for dinner, on the Mar-a-Lago Club’s terrace, when President Trump entered with the prime minister of Japan on Saturday night. The crowd — mostly paying members of Trump’s private oceanfront club in Palm Beach, Fla. — stood to applaud. The president’s party sat about six tables away.

    Then, DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago — got a text from a friend. North Korea had just test-fired a ballistic missile, which it claimed could carry a nuclear warhead. DeAgazio looked over at the president’s table.

    What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.

    The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members….

    Security experts have said this casual approach to national security discussions was very risky.

    The two leaders could have discussed classified documents within earshot of waiters and club patrons. Those cellphones-turned-flashlights might also have been a problem: If one of them had been hacked by a foreign power, the phone’s camera could have provided a view of what the documents said.

    “He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.

    Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.

    After The Post spoke to DeAgazio, he deleted his Facebook account.

  3. blf says

    On the detained Nasa / JPL gentleman, there is another possible reason, albeit this is far-fetched & vague it should qualify as a conspiracy theory — “Russia”. As in Putin’s puppet and espionage…

  4. says

    “Trump’s comments about Bergdahl ‘disturbing,’ judge says”:

    Disparaging remarks made by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail and levied against accused Army deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are “disturbing,” the military judge overseeing the soldier’s court-martial said Monday.

    The judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, was especially concerned about Trump’s 2015 pledge to review the case if he was elected president. Such a comment, Nance said, has the potential to put a “black eye” on the public’s confidence in the court-martial process.

    Nance must determine whether some 60 derogatory comments made by Trump between June 2014 and August 2016, such as calling Bergdahl “a dirty, rotten traitor” and opining he should be executed or dropped from an airplane to the Islamic State group, impacted the soldier’s right to a fair trial. Attorneys for Bergdahl filed a motion seeking the case’s dismissal over those comments within hours of Trump taking office Jan. 20. Nance did not say how long he expected to consider the matter before issuing a ruling….

  5. says

    This is funny. Jason Chaffetz’s constituents are sending him invoices for the time they spent attending his town hall meeting.

    Chaffez claimed that the protestors at his recent meeting in Salt Lake city were paid, and that some of them were not from Utah. He had no evidence other than rightwing conspiracy theories to make that claim. He has doubled down on this lie several times.

    Since none of the protestors have received payment, they are asking Chaffetz to reimburse them for their efforts.

    https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/830470980694921216

    There’s an invoice you can print out and use to submit your own request for payment.

  6. says

    Yes, it has come to this. Jim Hoft and Lucian Wintrich posted photos of themselves posing behind the lectern in the White House press briefing room. Both men are using a hand signal associated with the “Pepe” meme to confirm their white supremacist and general doofus status.

    Media Matters link.

    […] Gateway Pundit founder and “dumbest man on the internet” Jim Hoft announced that his outlet would have a White House correspondent with the Trump administration, and that Lucian Wintrich would fill the position. […]

    Hoft tweeted a photo of himself and Wintrich standing behind the lectern in the White House press briefing room, displaying a hand signal associated with the racist “Pepe” meme. The tweet itself also included the hashtag “Pepe” and a frog emoji, commonly understood to invoke the hate symbol.

    Hoft’s political blog has often served as the single source for completely unfounded reporting that nonetheless catches fire in the right-wing internet world, until it becomes what Kellyanne Conway might deem an “alternative fact.” The frequency with which he posts hoaxes and complete fabrications as fact suggests Hoft either has a reckless and total disregard for the truth or is so incompetent he cannot separate fact from fiction. […]

    Here’s what else we know about Wintrich: He is close with figures of the racist and misogynist so-called “alt-right” who are known for launching online harassment campaigns that frequently target women. […] “We’re bringing back the Rat Pack,” Wintrich captioned a photo of Shkreli, himself, and Yiannopoulos. […]

    […] Wintrich has also repeatedly tweeted photos of Mic.com writer Jack Smith, attempting to connect Smith to the dangerous #Pizzagate conspiracy theory and tweeting, “Someone needs to investigate.” […]

  7. says

    It seems like with every passing day, as the setbacks mount and resistance grows, Trump retreats further and further into unreality. I don’t know whether his handlers are actively hiding things from him or deceiving him (although they’re perpetuating his falsehoods publicly), but he’s becoming even more entrenched in delusions about his popularity and praise for his actions. He’s not just ignoring protesters but claiming they’re supporters. He’s saying there’s been no criticism of DAPL when they’ve shut down means of communicating opposing views. He’s asserting that his immigration policies have received a lot of praise. He’s still making absurd claims about the election. He blocks out or rages at any information that contradicts his irrational beliefs. While he continues to lie abundantly, the signs over the past couple of weeks in many cases have pointed toward firm delusions rather than knowing lies. I don’t think he’s of sound mind, and I’m not confident anything can be done at this point to engage with him on the basis of reality.

  8. says

    Sort of a followup to SC’s comment #8.

    This is an excerpt from Trump’s press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

    […] “President Trump, you seemed to suggest that Syrian refugees are a Trojan horse for potential terrorism, while the prime minister hugs refugees and welcomes them with open arms,” a reporter asked. “Are you confident the northern border is secure?”

    “You can never be totally confident,” Trump said.

    Trump praised Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for doing a “great job” of deporting “very, very hardened criminals” so far.

    “That’s what I said I would do. I’m just doing what I said I would do, and we won by a very, very large electoral college vote,” Trump said.

    Trump said that he “knew” he would win.

    “I knew this is what people were wanting. That wasn’t the only reason, that wasn’t my only thing that we did so well on, but that was something that was very important,” Trump said. “I think that in the end, everyone is going to be extremely happy. And I will tell you right now, a lot of people are very, very happy right now.”

    Link

  9. unclefrogy says

    the phrase drain the swamp is hurled around lately and from this essay it seems that there may be a misunderstanding as to what is actually meant.
    I will put what I have with links included

    The Swamp and The Fire: An Urgent Warning to the West
    By Dave Troy
    Feb 10 2017

    Many have begun to understand that Alexandr Dugin is “Putin’s Rasputin” and his main political strategist. And Nina Kouprianova, wife of Richard Spencer (of Nazi-punching fame), is one of his principal translators and champions.

    In the wake of extensive coverage of Stephen Bannon’s obsession with pseudo-history text “The Fourth Turning,” many have been trying to understand the ideology motivating the “traditionalist” movement that has arisen in the US and in Eurasia. One doesn’t need to look further than Dugin’s own writing.

    To avoid sending trackable traffic to Dugin’s own website (katehon.com), I have reproduced the essay, “Donald Trump: The Swamp and the Fire” from that site here. You can look for it if you want to read the original presentation.

    Here is the text of that article in full. Note the call to action: So all we need now is the Fire.

    Donald Trump: The Swamp and The Fire

    November 14, 2016
    Alexandr Dugin

    “The Swamp” is to become the new name for the globalist sect, the open society adepts, LGBT maniacs, Soros’ army, the post-humanists, and so on. Draining the Swamp is not only categorically imperative for America. It is a global challenge for all of us. Today, every people is under the rule of its own Swamp. We, all together, should start the fight against the Russian Swamp, the French Swamp, the German Swamp, and so on. We need to purge our societies of the Swamp’s influence. Instead of fighting between ourselves, let us drain it together. Swamp-drainers of the whole world unite!

    The other point is that anti-Americanism is over. Not because it was wrong, but exactly the opposite: because the American people themselves have started the revolution against precisely this aspect of the US that we all hated. Now the European ruling elite, as well as part of the Russian elite (that is still liberal), cannot be blamed as before for being too pro-American. They should now be blamed for being what they are: a corrupt, perverted, greedy gang of banksters and destroyers of cultures, traditions, and identities. So let us drain the European Swamp. Enough with Hollande, Merkel, and Brussels. Europe for Europeans. Soros and his sect should be publicly condemned.

    From now on, the Swamp is an extraterritorial phenomenon, exactly like an international terrorist network. The Swamp is everywhere and nowhere. Yesterday, the center of the Swamp, its core, was situated in US, but not anymore. This is a chance for all of us to start hunting them. The Swamp no longer manifests itself in a regionally-fixed form. Nevertheless, it exists and is still very, very powerful. But its anti-national nature is now explicitly evident. The Swamp can no longer hide behind America. It has gone into exile. But where? To Canada? To Europe? To Ukraine? To other planets where various doped-up actors and actresses promised to emigrate in the case of Trump’s victory? Now it is time for them to fulfill their promise. This all seems like the globalists’ rapture. They are now absorbed in a non-space, a utopia, in the land of the liberal utopia — a no-man’s land. We are now witnesses to the deterritorialization of the Swamp, the globalist elite, and the World Government.

    What is the structure of the Swamp?

    First of all, the Swamp is an ideology — Liberalism. We need a Nuremberg Trial for Liberalism, the last totalitarian political ideology of Modernity. Let us close this page of history.

    Secondly, the Swamp is a special post-modernist culture. It is based on the decomposition of any entity through digitalization, obligatory schizomorphism, and so on. To drain it signifies restoring the Apollonian unity of art. Art should return to holism.

    Thirdly, it is transnational global capitalism. This is the material motor of the Swamp. It is loans and the Federal Reserve System printing poisonous green bills. We need to end all of this and return to the real productive sector and mercantilist approach.

    I propose to rediscover the ideas of Pitirim Sorokin. He saw the social dynamic of history to be a chain of social paradigms which he called the ideational, idealistic, and the sensate. The ideational is the absolute domination of spirit over matter, asceticism, and the violent subjugation of the material world to spiritual and religious aspiration. The idealist type is balanced and based on the harmonious coexistence of the spirit and matter, where the spiritual part is slightly dominant but not exclusive (as in the ideational type). The sensate type of society is the domination of matter over spirit, the body over the soul. The Swamp is the sensate type of society. Until recently, it seemed that “sensate” and “American” were synonyms. But after Trump’s triumph, everything is different. Now the sensate is global and ex-centric. There is a kind of “translatio Imperii” nowhere and everywhere.

    Sorokin stressed that the cyclical nature of society follows only one chain of succession: from the ideational to the idealistic to the sensate. The idealistic cannot follow the sensate, as it is impossible for the Swamp to evolve back into a semi-Swamp. After the Swamp comes the Sun, i.e., the fire, the Spirit — the Spirit in its radical, ideational form. To drain the Swamp, we need solar Fire, a Great Fire which should be in abundance.

    The Swamp and Fire are two opposite elements distributed across the the earth. Geopolitics now becomes vertical. Both of them can be found at any point. The meaning of place now is the momentum of the process of draining the Swamp. Where? Here and now.

    The Swamp is no longer American hegemony, as the President of America himself rejects such hegemony. So it is hegemony “tout court”, Hegemony as such with a purely post-modernist void in the center.

    [snip]

    Dewayne-Net RSS Feed:

    uncle frogy

  10. says

    uncle frogy @10, well that’s one way to pretend that during the campaign season Trump did not frequently and clearly connect “drain the swamp” with removing Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and lobbyists from power (or from positions of influence over the levers of power).

    Trump occasionally included “elites” and some career politicians in his overall condemnation, but he did not say what Alexandr Dugin said. It looks to me like Dugin is seizing the opportunity to put his words, his ideas, in other people’s mouths. It’s still basically an us-vs-them argument. And all that crap about “Spirit in its radical, ideational form” makes no sense.

  11. says

    One of Trump’s advisers, Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, has been photographed wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. The medal is from the order vitézi rend.

    […] Eva Balogh, founder of the news analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum and former professor of Eastern European History at Yale University, confirmed to LobeLog the identity of the medal worn by Gorka. She said:

    Yes, the medal is of the “vitézi rend” established by Miklós Horthy in 1920. He, as a mere governor, didn’t have the privilege to ennoble his subjects as the king could do before 1918, and therefore the “knightly order” he established was a kind of compensation for him. Officers and even enlisted men of exceptional valor could become knights. Between 1920 and 1944 there were 23,000 such knights. The title was inheritable by the oldest son. I found information that makes it clear that Gorka’s father, Pál Gorka, used the title. However, since he was born in 1930 he couldn’t himself be the one “knighted.” So, most likely, it was Gorka’s grandfather who was the original recipient.

    https://lobelog.com/why-is-trump-adviser-wearing-medal-of-nazi-collaborators/

  12. says

    Followup to comment 13.

    Coverage from Talking Points Memo about the Order of Vitéz medal worn by Sebastian Gorka:

    […] White House aide Sebastian Gorka wore a medal that some Hungarian news outlets and scholars identified with Miklós Horthy, the anti-Semitic World War II-era leader whose regime witnessed the murder of some 600,000 Hungarian Jews. […]

    Gorka’s choice of dress [at an inaugural ball], a black braided jacket known as a “bocskai” adorned with two medals, wouldn’t necessarily catch the eye of an American viewer. But some Hungarians who came across the interview interpreted the getup as a nod to the knightly order of merit Horthy founded in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hungarian media in particular fixated on what it saw as Gorka’s callback to a resurgent native icon of the far-right. […]

    Gorka’s regalia is popular today among Hungary’s nationalist conservatives. […]

    Some commentators say that Gorka was just honoring his father. That seems unlikely to me. Gorka was the guy who delivered the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that did not mention Jews.

  13. says

    These ideas, ideas which when taken to their logical conclusion end in a mass campaign of persecution targeting Muslim Americans, are now the dominant approach to terrorism among the president’s closest advisers.

    This is an excellent article from Vox: “Trump’s counter-jihad.”

    I won’t quote from it at length – the whole thing deserves to be read. It describes the ideology and networks of the “counter-jihadists” and their influence on policy in the current (would-be) regime.

  14. says

    “No honor among thieves — or the Trump crew”:

    …Yes, Trump’s undertow drags down even the Wall Street Journal — along with the White House, the GOP and too many in the conservative think-tank world.* Trump debases honorable people and elevates liars, connivers and self-described radicals who want to “blow up” Western democracies. He induces once-resolute conservatives to adopt nonsensical arguments, betray free-market principles or simply bite their tongues, implicitly condoning behavior that they would tolerate from no other politician. (A border tax, Mr. Speaker, really? Chairman Chaffetz, you really have no interest in enforcing the Constitution against this president?) Republicans who thought the office of the president, the party and the conservative movement could escape demolition had it wrong. Trump manages to deform and corrupt virtually everything and everyone he touches.

    *Rubin is a conservative, so our opinions of how low these already were, well, differ.

  15. ChasCPeterson says

    wow we flipped a thread. I can’t remember the last time that happened lol.

    it was 2 weeks ago. lol.

    Astute ethological analysis here (with video clips from the field).

  16. says

    Update to #479 above: Kevin Brady of the Ways and Means Committee has rejected Bill Pascrell’s call to use a 1924 law to compel disclosure of Trump’s tax returns.

    “If Congress begins to use its powers to rummage around in the tax returns of the president, what prevents Congress from doing the same to average Americans?” House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters.

    “Privacy and civil liberties are still important rights in this country, and (the) Ways and Means Committee is not going to start to weaken them.”

    Worth noting that Brady has a 0% rating from NARAL, had this to say about the gutting of the VRA:

    For Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, reimposing preclearance would be unacceptable.

    “The bill has been written to target certain states and certain communities unfairly,” he said. “I don’t trust a trigger to reflect the need for preclearance.”

    and doesn’t appear to have met a government surveillance program he didn’t like.

    Also worth noting that the law was passed in the midst of the Teapot Dome scandal and used to gain access to Nixon’s tax returns in 1974, so I’m not sure I believe Brady’s narrow interpretation of its intent. But Texas Republicans are famous for their commitment to privacy and civil rights.

  17. says

    Chas @ 17, shows how much I pay attention I guess. I just came after a lengthy hiatus from these threads and it seemed as if the hoard had been thinned by quite a bit. Good to see it still kicks when needed!

  18. says

    Astute ethological analysis here (with video clips from the field).

    That is fantastic. (I saw the tape earlier and thought Trudeau must have seen the Abe video, which I actually count as a win for Abe because his subsequent facial expression made Trump look ridiculous.) The Gorsuch video is hilarious. (While we’re on the subject, when Gorsuch stepped aside and Trump was talking about him, he was aggressively rubbing his wife’s arm in a way that bothered me. I saw the clip yesterday and it caught my attention, and bothered me, again.)

  19. says

    follow up to 22 – I just watched Anderson Cooper with Fareed Zacharia (sp?) and Whathisface Griggs (I think) talking about this. There are some big questions surrounding this.

    1. Is there a plausible scenario in which Flynn did this on his own without Trump’s approval, at least, or prodding at worst? The answer to that seems to be no.

    2. Sally Yates says the WH knew about this 3 weeks ago, but Pence and Trump still lied about it, unless the information never made it to them. Again, is that even plausible?

    3. How could Flynn, who has a lot of intelligence experience, not know that those phones calls with Kislyak would be wire tapped? If he knew they would be, which he almost certainly would, how would he think this wouldn’t make it back to Trump and Pence? The only explanation is that he didn’t care, and now they are trying to hang him out to dry.

    This… this could be in folks. This could be the string that unravels the sweater AND takes Pence down with it. Who’s next in line? Ryan… Mark my words, watch how quickly Ryan turns on this administration over this.

  20. says

    Couldn’t resist – had to read the story mentioned at my link @ #22. It’s quite the thing.

    The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

    The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.

    A senior Trump administration official said that the White House was aware of the matter, adding that “we’ve been working on this for weeks.”

    The current and former officials said that although they believed that Pence was misled about the contents of Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador, they couldn’t rule out that Flynn was acting with the knowledge of others in the transition.

    Flynn told The Post earlier this month that he first met Kislyak in 2013, when Flynn was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and made a trip to Moscow.

    U.S. intelligence reports during the 2016 presidential campaign showed that Kislyak was in touch with Flynn, officials said. Communications between the two continued after Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, according to officials with access to intelligence reports on the matter.

    Kislyak, in a brief interview with The Post, confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election, but he declined to say what was discussed.

    Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal,” according to an official familiar with her thinking.

    At the same time, Yates and other law enforcement officials knew there was little chance of bringing against Flynn a case related to the Logan Act, a statute that has never been used in a prosecution. In addition to the legal and political hurdles, Yates and other officials were aware of an FBI investigation looking at possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia, which now included the Flynn-Kislyak communications….

    What is going on with Comey?

  21. unclefrogy says

    @12 Lynna OM

    that is true but going by what he is actually doing he seems closer to the other use of swamp then the conventional use of it. He seems to favor the rich and powerful though mostly the reactionary ones and not the progressive ones. He is not talking to Soros nor Buffett.
    The things he has demonized are very much the same things

    looks like a duck to me
    uncle frogy

  22. says

    whew I typed in a flurry, should have edited, sorry – This could be it* – meant to say, he didn’t care because he knew that they already knew about it. None of them expected it to go public.

    btw* Trumps only move is to not fire Flynn, and let the media go rabid while nothing gets done about this because they have already broken more well known and enforceable laws and gotten away with it, in broad daylight.

    I don’t think that strategy is going to work this time, but if he fires Flynn, he’s fucked because of Sally Yates.

  23. says

    Adam Entous, national security reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about a breaking Washington Post story that then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House weeks ago that Donald Trump national security adviser […]

    Rachel Maddow show link

  24. says

    He’s still on probation for that crime, the crime of sharing national security secrets with two of his mistresses. And this administration wants him cleared for top security clearance.

    Flynn needs to talk to the media, I hope he will.

  25. says

    Additional information from the Times:

    In addition, the Army has been investigating whether Mr. Flynn received money from the Russian government during a trip he took to Moscow in 2015, according to two defense officials. […]

    Such a payment might violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without consent from Congress. The defense officials said there was no record that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, filed the required paperwork for the trip.

    Flynn said earlier that he was paid to go an interview with RT, so that’s not new. But he may not have filed the appropriate paperwork.

  26. says

    The Trump administration had Kellyanne Conway on TV saying that Flynn had the full confidence of Trump. She said that about one hour before Sean Spicer came on and said that, no, the Trump administration was still looking into the issue.

    A few hours later, Flynn was out.

    Jared Kushner apparently came up with names of replacements for Flynn. Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff, will be the acting head of the National Security Council.

  27. says

    Flynn’s resignation letter is a sort of not-apology. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. […]”

    Complete resignation letter can be viewed on several media sites now. Here is the Daily Kos presentation.

  28. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] We can now also see the outlines of another part of the story. It appears that repeated efforts were made to apprise President Trump or those around him of the situation with Michael Flynn. When those warnings were ignored, people in the national security and law enforcement apparatus went instead to the press to get the word out that way. Only now can we see some of the hidden actions which reveal the pattern and provide context to the leaks.

    This is not some ill-considered discussion by Michael Flynn. The role of Russia in the 2016 election and the President’s relationship to Russia has been the un-ignorable question hanging over President Trump for months. Flynn’s resignation does not come close to resolving it. It is highly likely that the Flynn/Russia channel was authorized by the President himself. There’s much more to come.

  29. says

    Flynn’s resignation does not come close to resolving it. It is highly likely that the Flynn/Russia channel was authorized by the President himself. There’s much more to come.

    Here’s the smoking gun… There’s no way on God’s green earth the Flynn didn’t know he was being wire tapped and this would make it back to the FBI at least. There’s only one explanation for his careless disregard of that fact… He knew, he knew that they knew what he was up to, and he expected to be protected, and they hung him out to dry.

  30. says

    by “they” I mean the Trump team. They have no control over the FBI and leaks all over the place. That’s not something they anticipated, but they should have, they are just too stupid to realize that Trump’s earlier battle with intelligence was going to come back to haunt him.

  31. John Morales says

    Lynna @37,

    Flynn’s resignation letter is a sort of not-apology. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. […]”

    Yes, but also taking the blame, thus ostensibly exculpating the Vice President Elect and others.

    Sending the signal that he’s still a team player.

  32. KG says

    uncle frogy@10, 27, Lynna, OM@12,

    If you want to understand what Dugin is saying, I suggest replacing “The Swamp” with “International Jewry”. While Dugin now eschews the overt antisemitism of his earlier years (he was a member of Pamyat), he retains extensive links with the European and American far-right, including such figures as Richard Spencer and David Duke, and professes admiration for Nazi pseudo-philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Julius Evola.

  33. says

    Kasie Hunt of MSNBC just talked to Chaffetz. He’s not interested in pursuing an investigation. (He very well might fear that he himself could eventually fall within its purview.) Here‘s the statement on Flynn’s resignation from Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Paul Ryan will be doing a press conference shortly.

  34. blf says

    V for Vendetta, Fahrenheit 451, and five other books that reflect Trump’s America, “Is Nineteen Eighty-Four too obvious? Readers suggest books on the rise of a US oligarchy, alternative facts — and a president who won’t live in the White House”†:

    ● V for Vendetta
    ● The Iron Heel
    ● If This Goes On …
    ● The Limits of the World
    ● The Penultimate Truth
    ● Fahrenheit 451
    ● It Can’t Happen Here

    This list of readers’s suggestions was in response to Forget Nineteen Eighty-Four. These five dystopias better reflect Trump’s US:

    ● The Handmaid’s Tale
    ● Brave New World
    ● Virtual Light
    ● The Private Eye
    ● Children of Men

     † To-date, hair furor has spent most nights in the White House (The first 100 days of Trump: 20 of 25).

  35. says

    Trump thinks the story is “illegal leaks.” Maybe he would have been okay with the whole Flynn thing if no one had found out that Flynn talked to the Russians about sanctions? No one other than his own team and the intelligence agencies, that is. Apparently, they all knew weeks ago. The problem, in Trump’s mind, is that real and damaging information leaks to the press, and via that conduit to we the people.

    The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?

    The reference to North Korea is dark comedy. Doofus Trump made it easier for leaks about the response to North Korea to get out by hosting a “let’s read classified information by cell phone light on the terrace” dinner.

    It is way too late for Trump to pretend to be concerned about leaks and the handling of classified documents.

  36. says

    Paul Ryan and Kellyanne Conway presented contradictory accounts of Flynn’s resignation.

    Ryan said:

    National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has, and I think the President made the right decision to ask for his resignation. You cannot have a national security adviser misleading the Vice President and others.

    So I think the President was right to ask for his resignation, and I believe it was the right thing to do.

    Kellyanne Conway said:

    The President is very loyal. He’s a very loyal person. And by nighttime, Mike Flynn had decided it was best to resign. He knew he became a lightning rod, and he made that decision.

  37. says

    Republican doofuses are sticking up for Flynn, and for the Trump administration, no matter what.

    […] Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, […] downplayed Michael Flynn’s resignation from his role as national security adviser to President Donald Trump.

    “Michael Flynn served in the U.S. military for more than three decades. Washington, D.C. can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn—who has always been a soldier, not a politician—deserves America’s gratitude and respect for dedicating so much of his life to strengthening our national security. I thank him for his many years of distinguished service,” Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, said in a statement.

    Nunes also told reporters that he would not investigate Flynn’s discussions with Trump about his calls with the Russian ambassador. However, the House Intelligence chair did say that he wants more information on how details about Flynn’s calls were leaked to the press […]

    “I want to hear from the FBI as to how this got out. We don’t even know if this is true. We just know this from press reports. But yeah, we want to get to the bottom of it.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/devin-nunes-flynn-resignation

  38. says

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made some obvious and reasonable suggestions, but I doubt that she can get any Republicans to follow through:

    […] the American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia’s financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what that means for our national security.

    Flynn’s resignation is a reflection of the poor judgment of President Trump and demands answers to the grave questions over the President’s involvement. By what authority did Flynn act and to whom did he report?

    The FBI must accelerate its investigation of the Russian connection with the Trump Administration, and Congress must call for a bipartisan, independent, outside commission to fully investigate Russia’s influence on the Administration and the election.

    The quoted text comes from a statement Pelosi released today.

  39. says

    More bad news: Steve Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasury Secretary last night.

    […] The confirmation came despite the fact that Mnuchin appears to have lied to the Senate about practices at OneWest, and despite evidence that the bank broke foreclosure laws and anti-discrimination laws under his leadership.

    The Senate vote was nearly along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor plus Democrat Joe Manchin (WV), and all the rest of the Democrats plus two independents voting against. […]

    Think Progress link

  40. says

    Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, pointed out that conversations Flynn had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Donald Trump took office are not covered by executive privilege. That means the information in those conversations is subject to congressional investigations.

    Pre-election conversations between Flynn and Trump are also not protected by executive privilege.

  41. Saad says

    Paul Ryan: “National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has”

    *that crying laughing smiley face*

  42. says

    Some members of the Trump administration are using communications applications that erase their messages as soon as they are read. This is against the law. Official White House communications are supposed to be preserved.

    Remember how Trump repeated, and repeated again, that Clinton should be locked up because she had a personal server, and because she deleted emails? (All were personal emails according to the team who did that work for her, not White House correspondence.) Now Trump’s team is deleting official correspondence on a daily basis.

    Upset about damaging leaks of his calls with world leaders and other national security information, Trump has ordered an internal investigation to find the leakers. Staffers, meanwhile, are so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some have resorted to a secret chat app — Confide — that erases messages as soon as they’re read.

    Washington Post link

  43. says

    This is a followup to comment 48.

    Apparently, Flynn was asked to resign.

    Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was asked to resign, a White House official told TPM on Tuesday. […]

    In another article, Talking Points Memo journalists also pointed out that, in his resignation letter, Flynn did not apologize for misleading Trump. He apologized for misleading Pence.

    I think the Trump team is trying hard to keep Trump out of the story. They are trying to maintain plausible deniability for Trump. I don’t think that’s going to hold up for long.

  44. says

    Saad @53, same here.

    Republicans are working every “let’s move on” angle they can come up with. They really don’t want to dig further into Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials.

    Well, it’s Valentine’s Day and I guess they’re having breakfast with their wives. Really, all I can say is I’m sorry to see Gen. Flynn go. I don’t know the details of what transpired. I do know Gen. Flynn, I know that he’s very loyal to President Trump, I know he’s a great American.

    That’s Representative Chris Collins, a Republican from New York, talking to Chris Cuomo on CNN.

  45. says

    Russian propaganda about Flynn’s resignation:

    To force the resignation of the national security adviser for contacts with the Russian ambassador (normal diplomatic practice) is not even paranoia, but something immeasurably worse. Either Trump has failed to gain his desired independence and is being cornered consistently (and not without success), or Russophobia has infected even the new administration, from top to bottom.

    That’s from Konstantin Kosachev of the upper house in the Duma, who posted that on Facebook.

    Flynn was ‘pushed out’ not because of his mistake, but because of the unfolding campaign of aggression, ‘Russian for the Exit!’ shout the newspapers. Paranoia and a witch hunt. […] The mission isn’t Flynn, it’s relations with Russia.

    That’s Alexei Pushkov, a senator in the upper house of the Duma, tweeting.

  46. says

    Democratic legislators are doing a press conference right now. Adam Schiff just finished speaking, and Elijah Cummings is starting now: “Do you hear the silence? This is the sound of House Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump.” He’s taking it to Chaffetz.

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

    SC @ 24,

    Below is the meat of the story; hopefully I’m not violating fair use. The full story is here. I’ve bolded the scariest part.

    Manigault, who is now a communications official in the Trump administration, got into a heated argument with a White House reporter just steps from the Oval Office last week, according to witnesses. The reporter, April Ryan, said Manigault “physically intimidated” her in a manner that could have warranted intervention by the Secret Service.

    Ryan also said Manigault made verbal threats, including the assertion that Ryan was among several journalists on whom Trump officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information.

    Manigault, a onetime friend of Ryan’s, declined to address Ryan’s accusations on the record, offering only this emailed statement: “My comment: Fake news!” She did not specify what she considered false.

    ——————————
    The encounter between Manigault and Ryan took place outside White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s West Wing office late Wednesday. Among the witnesses were White House press office staffers and a Washington Post reporter, Abby Phillip.

    Phillip said she didn’t hear every word of the women’s exchange but said Ryan told her afterward that she felt Manigault’s behavior was so threatening that it was “Secret Serviceable,” meaning that it rose to the level of law enforcement intervention.

    Ryan, a veteran White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks, used the same phrase repeatedly in an interview. “She stood right in my face like she was going to hit me,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘You better back up.’ . . . She thought I would be bullied. I won’t be.”
    ————————-
    In October, Manigault sent Ryan an email raising questions about whether Ryan was being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign — a claim Ryan vigorously denies. Manigault included a link to an article from the Intercept, which covers national security issues.

    The article detailed the Clinton campaign’s effort to secure favorable media coverage by “manipulating” reporters; it included a list compiled by Clinton staffers of TV surrogates who were part of the campaign. It published a separate list of journalists, including Ryan, whom the campaign hoped to influence but were not paid by the Clintons.
    ———————
    Ryan said she was devastated by any intimation that she was unethical. “It’s just ugly,” she said. “She’s trying to harm my integrity and my career. I’ve been [covering the White House] for 20 years. I plan to be here for the next 20 years. You don’t mess with someone’s livelihood.”

    During their altercation, Ryan said Manigault told her that she was among several African American journalists who were the subject of White House “dossiers.” Manigault has previously said that Trump is keeping “a list” of opponents, though at the time she was referring to Republicans who voted against Trump.

  48. says

    Article in Le Monde by Neera Tanden, whose emails and information were made public by PutiLeaks, warning especially the French media – “La France prochaine cible de Vladimir Poutine”:

    L’adversaire d’un candidat nationaliste populiste d’extrême droite est attaqué par WikiLeaks comme complice de l’establishment. Le candidat nationaliste populiste affiche une proximité sans précédent avec la Russie et prend des positions qui font chaud au cœur de Vladimir Poutine. Les attaques de WikiLeaks visent à causer du tort au candidat le plus fermement opposé aux intérêts russes et le mieux à même de combattre le candidat nationaliste d’extrême droite.

    C’est ce qui s’est passé il y a quelques mois aux Etats-Unis avant notre élection présidentielle. Et c’est exactement ce qui risque de se passer en France aujourd’hui.

    Ce qui serait choquant, c’est que la France s’avère incapable de tirer la leçon des erreurs commises par l’Amérique. Nous n’avons pas su réagir face à l’intervention russe dans notre élection, et j’espère vraiment que vous saurez vous y opposer dans votre propre élection.

    Vous êtes les prochains sur la liste de la Russie

    Il ne faut pas être un spécialiste en politique étrangère pour comprendre que la Russie reprend la même méthode qu’elle a utilisée pour contribuer à faire élire Donald Trump. Mais au lieu de tirer les leçons de ce qui s’est passé aux Etats-Unis, la France commet les mêmes erreurs que nous. Certains organes de presse français commencent à diffuser la propagande russe concernant Macron, publiant sans grande retenue courriers électroniques et documents volés. Une fois de plus, les journalistes deviennent de simples pions au service des projets de Poutine visant à saper les démocraties occidentales.

    Alors qu’un peu plus de deux mois seulement nous séparent de l’élection, les médias français doivent résister à la tentation de se faire les porte-parole des services de renseignement russes. Les journaux doivent refuser de se contenter de copier-coller n’importe quel détail salace mais inconsistant. Tous ceux qui croient à l’ordre démocratique libéral doivent condamner quiconque utilise des données volées comme une arme dans les campagnes politiques, et se dresser contre ceux qui cherchent à s’attirer les bonnes grâces de dirigeants étrangers brutaux – quel que soit le parti ou le candidat qui en bénéficie. Toute campagne utilisant comme arme des informations volées doit être condamnée, et non défendue.

    Mais le plus important, c’est que le public voie ces fuites pour ce qu’elles sont : une tentative menée par des agents étrangers – probablement russes – afin d’installer des dirigeants illibéraux dans les sièges gouvernementaux des capitales américaine et européennes.

    L’Amérique a cédé à une telle influence. Le souhait de Poutine d’avoir un allié nationaliste de droite à Washington s’est réalisé. Pour l’amour de la démocratie, je vous le demande, faites en sorte que la France ne soit pas la prochaine à succomber.

  49. says

    Elizabeth Warren on Twitter so far today:

    “Michael Flynn’s blinding religious hatred & shady Russian ties disqualified him as NSA on day one. His removal is a win for American values.”

    “But American national security demands that we not allow Michael Flynn to become a scapegoat for this Admin’s disturbing ties to Russia.”

    “This isn’t a game. Reports say the Russians conducted a series of successful cyber-attacks on our elections to help elect @realDonaldTrump.’

    “Reports say our own intel agencies have corroborated parts of a dossier alleging that Russia has compromising info about @realDonaldTrump.”

    “.@StateDept Sec Rex Tillerson has close ties to Putin. @CommerceGov nominee Wilbur Ross has close financial ties to Putin buddies.”

    “.@realDonaldTrump is still making money overseas & may have financial ties to Russia. Nobody knows since he STILL won’t release his taxes.”

    “This. Is. Not. Normal. @realDonaldTrump owes Americans a full account of his Admin’s dealings with Russia, both before & after the election.”

    “When did @WhiteHouse know that Flynn lied? What other contacts with Russia occurred during the campaign? Who knew what? Who approved what?”

    “Congress must pull its head out of the sand and launch a real, bipartisan, transparent inquiry into Russia. Our natl security is at stake.”

  50. says

    What a Maroon @62, well that’s ugly. Omarosa seems to have imported her “Apprentice” reality TV show personality to the White House. Trump certainly has a penchant for surrounding himself with childish bullies.

    Continuing with Flynn-related news, Elizabeth Warren weighed in:

    Flynn’s blinding religious hatred & shady Russian ties disqualified him as NSA on day one.

    His removal is a win for American values. But American national security demands that we not allow Michael Flynn to become a scapegoat for this Admin’s disturbing ties to Russia. […]

    .@realDonaldTrump is still making money overseas & may have financial ties to Russia. Nobody knows since he STILL won’t release his taxes.

    This. Is. Not. Normal. @realDonaldTrump owes Americans a full account of his Admin’s dealings with Russia, both before & after the election.

    When did @WhiteHouse know that Flynn lied? What other contacts with Russia occurred during the campaign? Who knew what? Who approved what?

    Congress must pull its head out of the sand and launch a real, bipartisan, transparent inquiry into Russia.Our natl security is at stake.

    The quoted text is from a series of tweets on Warren’s Twitter feed.

  51. says

    People inside the Trump administration are blaming former Obama administration staffers for leaking information to the media.

    […] One senior administration official blamed many of the leaks on holdovers from the Obama administration still working at outside law enforcement and national security agencies.

    “These assholes have impunity to leak classified documents to destroy an innocent man,” the frustrated official told The Daily Beast early Tuesday morning. “They shiv you with one hand and plug you with the other.” […]

    Daily Beast link

    Those excuses come off as weak and inadequate. The focus on leaks echoes Trump’s tweet from this morning. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” The leaks are not the major issue. Colluding with Russia and undermining President Obama while he was still president — those are major issues.

    […] The pro-Trump cheerleaders at Breitbart News blamed Chief of Staff Reince Preibus for relying too much on Obama holdovers to keep the government running. “They’re hiding like sleeper cells everywhere,” one anonymous source told the outlet.

    But outside of the pro-Trump bubble, people found it easier to fault Flynn himself for his own downfall. No one forced him to make a paid appearance in Moscow in 2015 to celebrate a Kremlin propaganda outfit. No one made him sit at the same table as Vladimir Putin, or give the Russian strongman a standing ovation. And no one—at least as far as we know—forced Flynn to call the Russian ambassador and tell him that warmer relations were ahead.

    “I’m disappointed for him, personally, I’m disappointed for him,” said Gen. Tony Thomas, head of Special Operations Command. “But life’s all about decisions,” he said, speaking to reporters at the National Defense Industry Association conference outside Washington, D.C. […]

    Republicans in Congress are still using the “let’s move on” mode of defense:

    […] Rep. Chris Collins, one of President Trump’s top allies on the Hill, insisted that there was no scandal to be found here, and that people ought to shut up about it already.

    “He has stepped down, something obviously he felt was in the best interest of this country. I certainly respect that,” Collins said on CNN. “We move on from here. I’m not going to be one, nor would I hope others, [to] dwell on the situation or pile on…It’s just time to move on and find the replacement.”

    “I think that situation has taken care of itself,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told reporters on Tuesday morning. “I know that the Intel committee is looking into the hacking issue.” […]

  52. says

    The Trump administration is granting press credentials to pro-Trump blogs, to rightwing conspiracy sites, and to purveyors of false rumors.

    The Trump administration has granted press credentials to Lucian B. Wintrich, the Washington correspondent for Gateway Pundit, to attend White House press briefings and ask questions of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer.

    Mr. Wintrich […] who has collaborated with Milo Yiannopoulos, the polarizing editor at Breitbart News, attended President Trump’s news conference with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Monday. He was joined by the owner of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, who posted on Twitter, “President Trump just spoke about tossing criminal migrants and I wanted to stand up and cheer!!”

    In a telephone interview from the West Wing, Mr. Wintrich, 28, said he would “be reporting far more fairly than a lot of the very left-wing outlets that are currently occupying the briefing room.” […]

    […] On Monday, some journalists complained after Mr. Trump took questions at his news conference only from a local broadcast journalist and a reporter from The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. Neither reporter asked about one of the day’s top stories, the status of Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. […]

    Gateway Pundit has been cited by the Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, The Drudge Report, Sarah Palin and other popular conservative personalities and outlets. Last month, the site drew criticism for disseminating a false report that a Washington Post journalist had photographed the written notes of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson during a confirmation hearing. The journalist, who did not attend the hearing, was subsequently harassed with threatening voice mail messages and online attacks.

    When asked about the false stories, Mr. Wintrich said: “That is the state of new media. When you are trying to get new information out there as quickly as possible, occasionally you’ll get something wrong and have to fix it. That’s how media works right now.” […]

    On Twitter on Monday, Mr. Wintrich posted a photograph of himself standing behind the White House press room lectern, a White House pass slung around his neck. The post from Mr. Hoft included the hashtag #pepe and an accompanying Pepe emoji, a reference to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been repurposed as a symbol by white supremacy and anti-Semitic groups. […]

    NY Times link

  53. says

    Evan McMullin responds to Chaffetz’ “taking care of itself” comment: “The WH ignored DOJ warnings and clearly has troubling ties to Moscow. Jason Chaffetz & Congressional Republicans are shirking their duties.”

  54. says

    Sean Spicer is leading a daily briefing at the White House. In some of his answers to questions from reporters, he is spectacularly off the rails and/or weird. For example, he talked about Trump’s instincts in relation to the Flynn fiasco:

    When the President heard the information presented by White House counsel, he instinctively thought that general Flynn did not do anything wrong and the White House Counsel’s review corroborated that.

    WTF?

  55. says

    SC @70, I find myself having a few “I love this conservative politician” moments when it comes to Evan McMullin.

    More from Sean Spicer:

    We got to a point not based on a legal issue but based on a trust issue. The level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change.

    Note that the Trump administration is still trying to claim that Flynn did nothing that was illegal.

  56. says

    Some neo-Nazis are blaming “the jews” for Michael Flynn’s resignation.

    From Daily Stormer:

    This is giving a victory to the kike media. […]

    From Infostormer:

    My personal guess is that this attack on Flynn was pushed internally by more subversive elements in the White House that may or may not include Jared Kushner and Rence (sic) Priebus, who have seemingly attempted to railroad President Trump at times on his more hardcore measures. […]

    All I know is that the Jews are loving this whole spectacle, and are acting like sharks in blood-tinged water.

    Be careful, Mr. President.

    Be very careful.

    We’re going to be keeping a much closer eye on the White House factional struggles in the coming days and weeks, because if my senses are correct, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will likely be the next man attacked for his ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

    The lead-up to the demise of General Flynn was somewhat ignored by us due to the sheer level of nonsense that has been pushed forth by the Lugenpresse lately, but we won’t make that mistake again.

    The Jews are not going to get away with another bullying attack on our regime – they will be called out, and they will be defeated if and when they try again.

  57. says

    Sean Spicer tells some more lies:

    The irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on Russia. He continues to raise the issue of Crimea, which the previous administration allowed to be seized by Russia. His ambassador to the United Nations, stood before the U.N. Security Council on her first day and strongly denounced the Russian occupation of Crimea.

    President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in Ukraine and return Crimea. At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to be able to get along with Russia, unlike previous administrations, so that we can solve many problems together facing the world, such as ISIS and terrorism.

  58. says

    More signs of incompetence and confusion within the Trump administration:

    The White House has published incorrect versions of President Trump’s executive orders on its official website […]

    At least five posts on the White House page do not match the official text sent to the Federal Register […]

    USA Today noted that the official version of Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees contains one of the larger errors.

    Trump’s order requires an in-person interview for everyone seeking a non-immigrant visa under a section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

    But the White House version refers to a provision that stipulates a physical and mental examination, rather a traditional interview.

    USA Today noted that Trump’s executive order on ethical standards for administration appointees correctly cites existing law in the Federal Register’s official version.

    The White House version differs by referencing “section 207 of title 28,” it said — a section of the U.S. Code that does not exist. […]

    “These last-minute edits suggest the Trump White House needs to revisit their vetting, sign-off and publication processes for executive orders,” John Wonderlich said Tuesday.

    The Hill link

  59. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 61.

    Representative Elijah Cummings said, in part:

    […] Do you hear the silence? This is the sound of House Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump. Zero. That is what it sounds like when they abdicate their duty under the Constitution.

    We need some answers to a lot of questions. But the obvious questions are, What did the president know, and when did he know it? Was the president aware of Flynn’s efforts. Did he support them?

    Last night we learn the Justice Department warned the White House counsel three weeks ago that Flynn secretly talked with the Russians about sanctions and may have lied about it to the vice president. The department warned that the national security advisor was at risk of being blackmailed by the Russian government. That was three weeks ago. Three long weeks ago. 21 days ago.

    So why did the president say on Friday he did not know anything about Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador? Did the White House counsel really never tell the president? Because if that’s true, if that is true, I cannot say the white house counsel could stay in his position. That would be a major national security breach not to inform the president at such a serious charge.

    Another question, why did Flynn continue to sit in on the most sensitive classified meetings until just two days ago? Ladies and gentlemen, something is wrong with that picture. […]

    Who at the White House decided to do nothing for three weeks as Flynn sat in on meeting after meeting after meeting. Did the president decide to wait? Did counsel decide to wait? Something is wrong here. […]

  60. says

    What a Maroon @ #62 – Thanks!

    That press briefing was absurd. Spicer has zero credibility, obviously, but they couldn’t even concoct a plausible alternative story. Not one reasonable person could have watched that and thought “Well, that settles all of my questions!” Spicer did make a few statements – Trump “absolutely” didn’t know Flynn had talked about sanctions (!), he immediately ordered Don McGhan to complete an exhaustive investigation, etc. – that are extremely unlikely to stand up to any scrutiny and contrary evidence. Just a reminder – here’s what Spicer said in a press briefing on January 23rd:

    QUESTION: So, Sean, a couple — a couple of questions here, if you don’t mind.

    First one on Russia. The administration was asked about multiple interactions between National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador. I believe you at the time — the administration at that time said it’s — the calls were related to setting up a discussion later between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.

    SPICER: That’s right.

    QUESTION: Were those conversations about anything else other than setting up that discussion? And why has that discussion not yet happened between the president and President Putin?

    SPICER: So there’s been one call. I talked to General Flynn about this again last night. One call, talked about four subjects. One was the loss of life that occurred in the plane crash that took their military choir, two was Christmas and holiday greetings, three was to — to talk about a conference in Syria on ISIS and four was to set up a — to talk about after the inauguration setting up a call between President Putin and President Trump.

    That — I don’t believe that that has been set up yet because the call was to say — they did follow up, I’m sorry, two days ago about how to facilitate that call once again. So there have been a total of two calls with the ambassador and General Flynn. And the second call came — I think it’s now three days ago — that was to say once he gets into office, can we set up that call? It hasn’t — to my knowledge, has not occurred yet.

    QUESTION: Any other conversations between General Flynn and Russian members of the government?

    SPICER: Not that I’m aware of. And when I say that, what I’m saying is during the transition, I asked General Flynn that — whether or not there were any other conversations beyond the ambassador and he said no.

    The story continues to shift and ring completely false and raise more questions.

  61. says

    “The Question the White House Won’t Answer: Did Trump’s Campaign Have Contact With Russia?”:

    …ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked [Sean Spicer during the press conference that just happened] whether any Trump associates were in touch with the Russian government before the election.

    This is important, for that would mean that Trump folks were in contact with the Putin regime while it was attacking American democracy. Trump and his team have adamantly denied there were any interactions with Russian officials….

    Yet the Washington Post reported days ago that Kislyak told the newspaper he had been in touch with Flynn since before the election. The ambassador declined to say what he and Flynn had discussed. And the newspaper reported that the Flynn-Kislyak conversations “were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said.” These facts and Kislyak’s comment undercut Trump’s and Pence’s assertions there were no pre-election contacts.

    So what was Spicer to say when Karl posed this query? At first, Spicer said that Flynn did speak to the Russian ambassador during the transition. No, Karl protested, that’s not the question. What about before the election? Spicer then sputtered out this reply: “There’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.”

    That contorted reply would seem to mean that the White House is sticking to its previous denial. But this assertion runs contrary to what is now the public record: that the Trump campaign was in contact with Putin’s man in Washington while Putin was subverting an American election to help Trump….

  62. says

    “Mental health professionals warn Trump is incapable of being president”:

    Psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers have signed an open letter warning Donald Trump’s mental state “makes him incapable of serving safely as president”.

    The 35 mental health professionals said Mr Trump’s “words and behaviour suggest a profound inability to empathise”.

    The President’s tendency to “distort reality” to fit his “personal myth of greatness” and attack those who challenge him with facts was likely to increase in a position of power, they added.

    It is usually frowned upon among psychiatrists to give a professional opinion of the mental state of a public figure they have not examined in person, as dictated by a passage in the American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics known as the Goldwater rule.

    But in a letter to the New York Times, the doctors said they had decided it was necessary to break their silence on the matter because they feared “too much is at stake”.

    “This silence has resulted in a failure to lend our expertise to worried journalists and members of Congress at this critical time,” they wrote. “We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer.”…

  63. says

    Spicer did make a few statements – Trump “absolutely” didn’t know Flynn had talked about sanctions (!),

    I might have had that wrong. The question could have been whether Trump instructed him to talk about sanctions – I’ll have to watch the segment again. Either way, it’s a problem for them.

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

    I’m not normally a fan of Thomas Friedman, but he gets it right this time.

    We need to know whom Trump owes and who might own him, and we need to know it now. Save for a few patriotic Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire Republican Party is complicit in a shameful act of looking away at Trump’s inexplicable behavior toward Russia.

  65. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump World has long insisted there were no pre-election contacts. Kellyanne Conway, asked about the possibility of these communications between the Republican campaign and Putin’s government, said, “Absolutely not.” She added the conversations “never happened” and any suggestions to the contrary “undermine our democracy.”

    Conway wasn’t the only member of Team Trump who emphatically denied the talks. At a pre-inaugural press conference, the president himself said no one from the Trump campaign was in contact with Putin’s government during the campaign.

    Those denials are now in conflict with the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and the on-the-record confirmation from the Russian ambassador. […]

    We don’t know whether Team Trump colluded with Moscow during these election crimes, but if Trump aides were communicating at the time with Putin’s government, and the Republican operation then lied about this repeatedly, it’s a serious problem.

    Link

    Guess what? All of those denials were lies from the pit of hell, to use a Republican phrase.

    Kislyak confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election. That’s info from the Washington Post, whose reporters interviewed Kislyak.

  66. says

    This is a followup to comment 69, which was a continuation of an earlier discussion about the White House granting press credentials to far rightwing conspiracy theorists and to other purveyors of fake news.

    This new addition to the White House press corps is a doozy. We can look forward to hearing Sean Spicer questioned by reporters from The Federalist Papers Project.

    Here are some sample headlines from various Federalist Papers Project articles:

    Best Tweet of ALL TIME Explains the Clinton Murder List

    What Democrats and Slave Owners Have in Common BRUTALLY Summed Up

    Male College Students Now Offered SICK Liberal Re-Conditioning Program.

  67. says

    The Trump administration is a chaotic, incompetent mess. Just what we need right now is another missile deployment that violates an arms control treaty. Oh, good, we got one. (sarcasm)

    Russia, Trump’s bestie forever, deployed a new cruise missile. American officials say the deployment violates an arms control treaty. Trump and his National Security team are ready to handle this new challenge, right? No, no, no and no. They are not ready.

    […] The ground-launched cruise missile at the center of American concerns is one that the Obama administration said in 2014 had been tested in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land.

    The Obama administration had sought to persuade the Russians to correct the violation while the missile was still in the test phase. Instead, the Russians have moved ahead with the system, deploying a fully operational unit. […]

    It is very unlikely that the Senate, which is already skeptical of Mr. Putin’s intentions, would agree to ratify a new strategic arms control accord unless the alleged violation of the intermediate-range treaty is corrected. […]

    The deployment of the system could also substantially increase the military threat to NATO nations […] Jim Mattis, the United States defense secretary, is scheduled to meet with allied defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Before he left his post last year as the NATO commander and retired from the military, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove warned that deployment of the cruise missile would be a militarily significant development that “can’t go unanswered.”

    […] Each missile battalion is believed to have four mobile launchers with about half a dozen nuclear-tipped missiles allocated to each of the launchers. […]

    “This will make location and verification really tough,” General Breedlove said in an interview. […]

    NY Times link

  68. says

    Rand Paul: “I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

  69. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump should have a lot of really important stuff to deal with right now, including that missile deployment by Russia, North Korea’s missile launch, etc. What is Trump doing? Apparently, his top priority is to investigate to find the White House staffers who have leaked stories to the media.

    Trump is also, reportedly, still spending time fuming about caricatures aired on Saturday Night Live. He was really uncomfortable with the skit that depicted Steve Bannon as the Grim Reaper who was really running things. In that skit, Trump had a tiny desk and Bannon commandeered the big, presidential desk.

    This seems to all add up to Trump being very concerned with how he looks.

    As for the leaks, I think the tendency (or necessity) to leak is built into Trump’s mismanagement style.

  70. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Although my link also talks about a russian spy ship sitting 70 miles off the Delaware coast.

    Probably with an attack submarine just outside of their detection range. The official cold war may be over, but inertia and the need to practice are hard to give up. Putin probably alarmed the US military command more than the civilians.

  71. says

    More on the Flynn FBI interview, from the NYT:

    F.B.I. agents interviewed Michael T. Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials said on Tuesday.

    While it is not clear what he said in his F.B.I. interview, investigators believed that Mr. Flynn was not entirely forthcoming, the officials said. That raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Mr. Flynn his job. If the authorities conclude that Mr. Flynn knowingly lied to the F.B.I., it could expose him to a felony charge….

    In late December, Mr. Flynn spoke with Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. During the call, Mr. Flynn and the ambassador discussed sanctions, according to current and former United States officials. In the call, Mr. Flynn indicated that the Obama administration was Moscow’s adversary and that relations would change under Mr. Trump….

  72. says

    Here‘s the letter the OGE sent to Chaffetz and Cummings.

    A few things I noticed during Spicey’s press conference today: First, the way he talked about how their priority had been to determine whether Flynn had done anything illegal has other potential readings, but it sounded a lot like the way Trump has talked about law and finding ways around it and that being the only possible check (and certainly not always that) on his actions. Second, reading his notes about why Flynn was fired, he started to say something about Flynn’s “relationships” and then quickly changed to “misleading of Pence and others.” It’s possible he just misspoke; also possible that the relationships remark was something they’d come up with and then discarded. Third, I think the latter might be the case because he (I believe twice) mentioned some other incidents that led to Flynn’s dismissal. He wasn’t pressed on this, but it could be that they know more information is likely to come out.

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

    re SC @ 98,

    Rand Paul: “I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

    Glad to see that Ron Paul’s spawn has his priorities straight. Who cares about the security of the US, or the possibility of nuclear war, or increasing global warming, or the undermining of the US republic when POOR PEOPLE MIGHT BE GETTING HEALTH CARE THEY AREN’T ENTITLED TO?

    Pardon the shouting.

  74. says

    Rachel Maddow just reported on this article – “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence”:

    Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

    American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

    The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

    But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin….

    Officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, which Russian intelligence officials were on the calls, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself….

    From how the NYT reporting on the FBI investigations of Trump’s cabal have gone over the past several months, I’d suspect some of this is really…understated, for one reason or another.

  75. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] While certainties are hard to come by, it seems clear that Russia broke into computer networks and selectively released private emails to damage Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump.

    When President Obama took a series of actions to punish the Russian government for this interference, President-Elect Trump’s top foreign policy advisor made a series of calls to the Russian government’s representative in the United States to ask him to have his government refrain from retaliation and suggested that the punishments could be lifted once the new government was sworn in. Then he lied about the calls both publicly and apparently within the White House.

    What has gotten lost in this discussion is that these questionable calls were aimed at blunting the punishment meted out for the election interference that helped Donald Trump become President. This is mind-boggling.

    Consider another point.

    Through the course of the campaign, transition and presidency, three top Trump advisors and staffers have had to resign because of issues tied to Russia. Paul Manafort, Carter Page and now Michael Flynn. Page might arguably be termed a secondary figure. Manafort ran Trump’s campaign and Flynn was his top foreign policy advisor for a year. The one common denominator between all these events, all these men is one person: Donald Trump. […]

    The quoted text above is an excerpt from a longer article. The entire article is worth reading. It is well-written and thoughtful. The article provides some big-picture perspective.

  76. says

    SC @98 and What a Maroon @104, Rand Paul is not the only Republican with an aversion to accountability. Jason Chaffetz has the same aversion, but selectively applies it to Democrats only. Kellyanne Conway has the disease, so does Sean Spicer.

    Trump is the sickest when it comes to an aversion to accountability.

    Jeff Sessions, our new Attorney General, does not seem to be a guy who will hold Republicans accountable.

    I have a hard time seeing accountability being demanded or supported anywhere in the Trump administration.

  77. says

    SC @106, I would just like to repeat that members of the Trump team were not just calling their friends or business associates in Russia during the U.S. presidential campaign, they were calling “senior Russian intelligence officials.” Maybe an exclamation point is justified, “senior Russian intelligence officials!”

    Democrats may have to win back some seats in the Senate and in the House before we can actually get a thorough investigation.

    Or, are we going to have to rely on journalists at the Washington Post and at the New York Times, in addition to a few people willing to leak information in order to save democracy in the USA?

    […[ Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

    NY Times link repeated.

  78. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As I expected, the Pharma industry isn’t wild about rampant deregulation.

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to roll back government regulations at least 75 percent is causing anxiety for some pharmaceutical executives that a less robust Food and Drug Administration would make it harder to secure insurance coverage for pricey new medicines.
    The prospect of big change at the regulatory agency comes as drugmakers are under fire for high prices, including Marathon Pharmaceuticals LLC, which said Monday it was “pausing” the launch of its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug after U.S. lawmakers questioned its $89,000 a year price.
    Industry trade group Biotechnology Innovation Organization told Reuters that during high-level discussions with Trump advisors, lobbyists urged the administration not to name a new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who would act rashly to speed up the agency’s approval of new medicines.
    That sentiment was echoed by executives at more than a dozen pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, who told Reuters that the FDA is already adopting new drug development models and warned that a looser review process would put patients at risk.
    “People often argue that the FDA is too restrictive,” said Roger Perlmutter, head of research and development at Merck & Co Inc. “We have the sense that the balance is pretty right … you have to have a well-characterized risk/benefit profile.”
    That stance underscores the unique position the drug industry finds itself in when it comes to regulating its products. While most sectors welcome less oversight, drugmakers say a robust review process is critical in convincing physicians and insurers that a pricey new medicine has value.
    Otherwise, the time and money it takes to get a new drug to market – estimates run as high as $2.6 billion – would be lost if insurers are not willing to pay for the product.
    “It is great that the administration is seeking deregulation … to make sure the private sector can be more competitive,” said John Maraganore, chief executive officer at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc and co-chair of BIO’s regulatory committee. “But payers are looking for evidence of value.”
    He said the FDA should speed the approval of lower cost generic versions of drugs that have lost patent protection, but warned that allowing novel products to be launched without extensive testing could be dangerous.
    “Any change at the FDA that allows drugs to be tried out on patients without clinical evidence is a damaging approach,” said Jeremy Levin, chief executive officer at Ovid Therapeutics Inc., which is developing drugs for rare diseases.

  79. says

    Nerd,

    I think any discussion of anything Trump is doing or has done that doesn’t center around treason and Russia is moot at this point. He’s done, his whole administration is done. It might take a couple of weeks for congress to get it’s act together but they will, and as information starts to get out, he’s either going to have to resign in disgrace and a promise of a pardon or face jail time or worse for treason.

    This is bigger than Watergate.

    It’s time to start thinking about the possibility or President Pence or Ryan.

  80. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s time to start thinking about the possibility or President Pence or Ryan.

    And their policy ideas differ significantly from Trump’s on this issue? i haven’t seen any evidence that they aren’t on the same page.

  81. says

    And their policy ideas differ significantly from Trump’s on this issue? i haven’t seen any evidence that they aren’t on the same page.

    The pharmaceutical industry is a very powerful lobby. Trump is crazy and doesn’t care and rules by his own internal ideology, whereas Pence or Ryan will kowtow to their own financial interests. They will tow what ever line is laid out for them.

    This is NOT meant to be a defense of Trump, just an observation of one clear difference between he and they that I think is relevant to the discussion.

  82. blf says

    @112 — Pharmaceuticals not being too keen on deregulation — reminds me of what apparently happened when Ronaddled Raygun tried to rescind so-called “truth-in-advertising”: He got a big fat NO from many advertisers and agencies. They had found that making flat-out lying illegal had resulted in customers becoming slightly less skeptical of advertising and the advertised products.

    (None of which is to say ads aren’t misleading or the claims “supported” by highly dubious “evidence”!)

  83. says

    The difference between Trump and Pence is the difference between 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale – the main difference is that Pence hates women more than Muslims, and for Trump it’s vice versa. Pence is a True Believer in his love of theocracy, while Trump is just another megalomaniac dictator. Pence probably wouldn’t use nukes, Trump might.

    Meanwhile, if it gets to Ryan, it’s Atlas Shrugged all the way down, baby.

  84. says

    CatieCat @ 117 – I don’t disagree at all. I didn’t say getting a Pence or Ryan was going to be a good thing, just that it’s likely to happen at this point. It’s mostly out of the pan into the fire, until they are embroiled in their own controversy.

    I know you weren’t disagreeing with me necessarily, I’m just clarifying.

  85. says

    This is bigger than Watergate.

    It’s time to start thinking about the possibility or President Pence or Ryan.

    I agree with Elliott Lusztig here: “Again: I don’t care that no provision of the Constitution addresses this contingency. If one party cheats, they don’t keep the trophy.”

  86. says

    CNN is reporting the same thing as the NYT regarding the campaign communications. They’re also saying:

    President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter.

  87. says

    Trump’s tweets from the shitter this morning all but confirm that leaks are true. No denials, just anger at the leaks. I can’t be bothered to find it atm but someone tweeted the obvious; It’s like being mad at your wife for going through your phone and finding out you are cheating. You don’t get to do that.

  88. says

    Don’t we all wish, but it can’t / won’t happen. Sorry, just being realistic. It wouldn’t happen without a coup or civil war.

    But neither, if the collusion can be shown, is it plausible that there could be a functioning Pence or Ryan administration in the wake of this. They’re all suspect and now facing an energized popular revolt on multiple fronts. …Actually, a Republican administration blocked from advancing its agenda might be the best we could hope for.

  89. says

    This was nuts: The other day, Roger Stone claimed that CNN canceled his interview with Jake Tapper scheduled for the next day. Tapper responded that he had no idea what Stone was talking about, and asked “With whom were you speaking?” Stone didn’t respond.

  90. blf says

    The murder lobby is also having a meltdown, Arizona unveils new death penalty plan: bring your own lethal injection drugs:

    The state’s execution protocol invites death row inmates’ lawyers to provide drugs to kill their own clients — a suggestion attorneys describe as ludicrous

    As states have faced challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injection, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed, including the return of electric chairs and firing squads. Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients.

    With drugs that can legally be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections’ latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring along their own.

    […]

    Attorneys, though, said the idea is ludicrous. Megan McCracken, a lethal injection expert at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the clause is “unprecedented, wholly novel and frankly absurd. A prisoner or a prisoner’s lawyer simply cannot obtain these drugs legally, or legally transfer them to the department of corrections, so it’s hard to fathom what the Arizona department was thinking in including this nonsensical provision as part of its execution protocol.”

    […]

    In 2011 the then manufacturer of pentobarbital for the US market, the Danish company, Lundbeck, banned its use in executions. Arizona illegally tried to import sodium thiopental from India in 2015 and found its shipment blocked by federal officials at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

    […]

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

    ericthebassist @ 120,

    It could happen, but it would take an unprecedented act of statesmanship and sacrifice from the gop. The way it could go down: Trump is forced out or resigns. Pence becomes president. Pence names Clinton as VP and congress confirms. Pence then resigns, and Clinton becomes President. (A variant would be to name Clinton Speaker of the House–there’s nothing that says the Speaker has to be an elected member of the house. Then you skip the third step.)

    But yeah, I’m betting against that.

  92. says

    Here’s an article (from a friendly source) about the response to the US government’s attack on Venezuela’s Vice President Tarek El Aissami. #VenezuelaConTareck is trending on Twitter. (This is just the latest in a long series of such aggressive moves, which continued apace under Obama. But as Trump has shown increased hostility and contempt for Latin American countries and governments, as well as friendship with far-Right movements and regimes, there could be more unified pushback this time.)

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

    erikthebassist (apologies for misspelling your nym above),

    What, you don’t think the gop is capable of putting country above party? I suppose you also don’t think the sun revolves around Trump’s asshole.

  94. says

    SC @111

    Trump went on another Twitter tear this morning. Now he’s ripping the NSA and FBI. Should go well.

    Trump is backed into a corner. Some part of his dim brain must know how wrong he is and how precarious his position is. His only play is to discredit the people who are investigating him and his team.

    The big problem is that most of his followers will buy into tweets like that.

    For those that don’t want to go looking for them. Here are Hair Furor’s tweets. First, the “fake news” tweet:

    The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!

    The “it’s Hillary’s fault” tweet:

    This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.

    The “leaks and snitches are the real story” tweet:

    Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia

    More of the above:

    The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!

    The “it’s all Obama’s fault tweet:

    Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?

    Fake news! Hillary’s emails! Don’t trust the intelligence agencies! Leaks are the real story! It’s all Obama’s fault!

  95. says

    From the same meeting:

    “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of Western values,” he said at the Nato headquarters in Brussels, according to a text of his remarks.

    “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”

  96. blf says

    Trump’s likely science adviser calls climate scientists glassy-eyed cult:

    William Happer, frontrunner for job of providing mainstream scientific opinion to officials, backs crackdown on federal scientists’ freedom to speak out

    The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as a glassy-eyed cult in the throes of a form of collective madness.

    William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met with Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

    There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult, Happer told the Guardian. It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.

    Scientists routinely chant? And it is that which does harm… as opposed to, I dunno, say, just as an idea, suggesting that scientists chant…? The mind boggles and the irony meters overheat.

    […]

    Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

    So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen, he said, citing childhood vaccines as an example.[†] The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts — real facts.

    […]

    Apparently, no discovery is ever misleading, no phenomena ever misinterpreted. Science does not evolve, apparently, proclaiming only politically convenient profitable trvths. Except, I suppose, in physics, where this seeming-loon is supposedly an expert. Or when you disagree with the discovery / evidence / data / whatever, in which case the scientists are to be silenced so they can chant less or something.

    And why the feck would someone insisting on reliably and facts want to take a job in hair furor’s dalekocracy? Oh yeah, alternative facts and so on…

    The overheating irony meters explode.

    Also, a related opinion column in today’s dead-tree edition of the INYT (ex-IHT), When Canadian Scientists Were Muzzled by Their Government, which summarizes the attacks and the responses that worked, offering suggestions to those south of the border.

      † As I read the cryptic coment in the article, apparently this nutcake “thinks” most(?) people are opposed to vaccines. If my interpretation is correct, then it is further evidence he doesn’t have a good understanding of even the concept of evidence (at least outside his own field), Contrary to impressions (and Donald Trump’s antivaccine views) most Americans support vaccine mandates, quoting a Pew study (2016): “An overwhelming majority of Americans (82%) support having a school-based requirement that healthy children be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.”

  97. says

    One Republican is sort of making sense:

    The base issue is getting to the bottom of what the Russian interference was and what the relationship was with associates of the Trump effort, and so that is the big elephant in the room that has got to be dealt with in the most appropriate way.

    There’s the issue of: Is the White House going to have the ability to stabilize itself? This affects us not just with international issues that are brewing all around the world — all kinds of problems — but the domestic agenda here.

    The big issue right now is dealing with this Russia issue, making sure that it doesn’t destabilize our ability to move ahead as a country and deal with important issues.

    The quoted text is from an interview with Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, who appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

    Problem: Corker is likely to go along with having “congressional investigations” only. Those are held behind closed doors, and then the Republican-dominated committee(s) members decide what to release to the public.

    Also, Corker is already pushing the “let’s move on” theme with his emphasis on “our ability to move ahead as a country and deal with important issues.”

    Democrats are pushing hard for an independent investigation, but I don’t know if they will succeed. Time for some huge rallies in support of the Democrats. Call your elected representatives. Bring on Melissa McCarthy to spotlight the lies.

    How long will it take Trump to completely discredit the FBI and other intelligence services?

  98. says

    Russian media and the “Alt-Right” in the USA are putting out the same message about Mike Flynn’s resignation.

    […] Russian state-owned outlet RT published two articles about Flynn’s resignation, one based on an interview with American conspiracy theorist and rape promoter Mike Cernovich and the other based on an interview with Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst for the US Secretary of Defense and a current contributor to the far-right blog WND.com.[ WorldNetDaily]

    RT quoted Cernovich, who they identified as a “lawyer and filmmaker,” calling Flynn’s resignation a “coup” and a “huge victory” for Democrats and “establishment Republicans” like White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.” Maloof told RT that “I think this is victory for mainstream media and for the Democrats.” [RT, 2/14/17, 2/14/17] […]

    The Moscow Times report on Flynn’s resignation focused on quotes from Russian officials like Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament, saying, “Even willingness to engage in dialogue with the Russia is perceived by the hawks in Washington as thoughtcrime” and “Either Trump does not have the independence he needs and has been cornered, or Russophobia has struck the new administration from the top down.” […]

    InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson claimed “Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak was merely the excuse that establishment neo-cons and neo-libs from both parties were desperately searching for.” […] “deep state coup” going so far to claim that the real reason was “Flynn represented a direct threat to the military industrial complex that was swept aside by Trump’s victory.” […]

    White nationalist author Mike Cernovich asserted that the “fake news media landed a tactical nuke on America” with Flynn’s resignation […]

    Link

  99. says

    From journalist Eric Boehlert:

    […] Trump’s team is so busy building its own parallel universe that it doesn’t know how to adjust when the front doors are swung open and officials have to venture out into the real world. […]

    Led by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, as well as Conway and senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who lied and obfuscated his way through his recent Sunday morning talk show appearances, the Trump administration appears dedicated to the cause of unapologetic misinformation in a way we’ve never before seen in American politics.

    Officials are making a determined effort to abide by “alternative facts” while aggressively gaslighting the press and the public on myriad topics. It’s a campaign to withdraw from the fact-based world and instead rely on increasingly irresponsible right-wing media sources to protect and boost the president.

    And sure enough, across the far-right media world where fake news percolates daily, players did their best to present a palatable version of the Flynn scandal. Before It’s News claimed of the resignation, “Globalists’ Fake News Claims First Scalp,” […]

    Trump himself did his best on Twitter today, lashing out at television news for pushing “conspiracy theories and blind hatred” about him while insisting that The New York Times and The Washington Post were publishing illegal leaks. […]

    Presidents from both parties have always enjoyed partisan cheerleaders in the press who will defend an administration from attacks and enthusiastically support its agenda. But what the Trump team is trying to assemble is something else entirely. It’s trying to build its own self-sustaining, hermetically sealed information bubble so that Trump, his aides, and his supporters don’t have to acknowledge everyday facts.

    […] In other words, the Trump team isn’t simply trying to raise doubts about the mainstream media; it’s trying to gut and replace the Fourth Estate. It wants to create a media environment where it can be immune to mainstream reporting and sustain itself — and exist off of –“alternative facts. ”

    Look at how the White House press briefings have dramatically changed this year in order to make room for Trump loyalists — loyalists who play a key role in the administration’s push to undercut legitimate news outlets. […]

    But what the Trump White House is learning this month is that loyalists and media sycophants have their limits. And those limits come in the form of reality, like Flynn being caught lying about his previous contacts with the Russian ambassador, […]

    In the end, the White House’s cat-and-mouse game with the press didn’t work because the facts of the Flynn crisis overcame the administration’s attempts to ignore or wish away the story.

    Today, the Trump team is left with a controversy that it still can’t explain away. And neither pushing fake news nor walling Trump off from reality will fix that.

  100. blf says

    Iranian Oscar nominee gets free London screening in snub to US travel ban:

    The Salesman director Asghar Farhadi, who was hit by ban, says Trafalgar Square event on Oscars night is ‘symbolic of unity’

    […]

    During Academy Awards night on 26 February, Trafalgar Square will be transformed into London’s biggest open-air cinema for the first UK showing of Asghar Farhadi’s drama, hours before the Oscars are handed out in Hollywood.

    […]

    Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, is organising the screening […]

    […]

    The Salesman is nominated for best foreign language film at the Oscars and stars Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini, who won best actor at Cannes last year. The film also won best screenplay at Cannes. Farhadi, who won a best foreign language film Oscar for A Separation in 2012, said he would not attend this year’s ceremony even if he were offered special dispensation, in solidarity with those who had been affected by the ban.

    […]

    In a discussion about the origins of this event, the article observed “Joanna Natasegara, the producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary The White Helmets, about the volunteer civil defence force operating in Syria[, suggested as] guests Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and the cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, but despite being nominated for a Nobel peace prize, they would have been denied by Trump’s ban.”

  101. says

    Hmm:

    Russia called on U.S. President Donald Trump to live up to his pledge to improve relations, amid growing unease in Moscow that he may not lift sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.

    “Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday. Senior officials in Moscow had earlier criticized White House spokesman Sean Spicer for saying on Tuesday that the president expects Russia to “return” the Black Sea peninsula annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

    Spicer’s comment on Crimea is at odds with Trump’s campaign pledge to restore relations, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian lower house of parliament, told lawmakers Wednesday, the Interfax news service reported. “Everything will be fine” if the president fulfills his election program, Volodin said….

  102. says

    Followup to comment 130.

    This is Jake Tapper’s response to Trump’s tweet about fake news:

    These are news stories. Conspiracy theories are false & more like “Ted Cruz’s dad was with Lee Harvey Oswald” or “vaccines cause autism”

    Trevor Noah covered Flynn’s resignation.

    […] Donald Trump [is] finally draining the swamp of the people he brought to the swamp! President Trump is a genius, people—he hires a cabinet full of terrible people, fires them one-by-one, looks like he’s a man of action. Drain the swamp! […]

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

    From SC‘s quote up at 140:

    “Everything will be fine” if the president fulfills his election program, Volodin said….

    So what happens if Trump doesn’t ‘fulfill[s] his election program’? Do we suddenly have films of Trump with hookers in hotels in Moscow? Or films of Trumps with underage hookers in hotels in Moscow? Or release of just how much money Russia has given to Trump and the whole Tang Gang over the past few years?

  104. says

    SC @140, “‘Everything will be fine’ if the president fulfills his election program, Volodin said …”

    Sounds a bit like a threat to me. The Russians can claim that by “election program” they just meant the promises Trump made during the campaign, but really they probably mean that Trump has to lift the sanctions like he promised to do before he was elected — as payback for Russian help during the campaign.

    If Trump doesn’t do what the Russians want are they going to release damaging information? Or maybe they will just quicken the pace of confirming all the stuff the FBI has already found. Presumably, the Russians will not poison Trump like they have other politicians.

    In other news that’s not really other (it’s all part of the big picture): Paul Krugman dissects the staggering ignorance of the Trump White House”.

    Is the Trump White House evil or just stupid? The answer to that burning question is, well, both. In Monday’s column, Paul Krugman takes as his subject the incompetence piece, which is evident in matters both large and seemingly trivial. […]

    We see this on legal matters: In a widely quoted analysis, the legal expert Benjamin Wittes described the infamous executive order on refugees as “malevolence tempered by incompetence,” and noted that the order reads “as if it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all” — which is a good way to lose in court […]

    We see it on national security matters, where the president continues to rely on a chief adviser who, suspicious closeness to the Kremlin aside, appears to get his strategic information from right-wing conspiracy theorists […]

    We see it on education, where the hearings for Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, revealed her to be completely ignorant about even the most elementary issues[…]

    We see it on diplomacy. How hard is it to ask someone from the State Department to make sure that the White House gets foreign leaders’ names right? Too hard, apparently: Before the Abe flub, the official agenda for the state visit by Theresa May, the British prime minister, repeatedly misspelled her name. […]

  105. blf says

    Former Trump adviser Roger Stone calls for investigation of alleged Russia links:

    Stone, who’s named as one of four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, urges Department of Justice inquiry

    Roger Stone, a longtime adviser and confidant to Donald Trump who has been named in news reports as one of at least four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, has called for an official inquiry into the swirling crisis.

    Stone has called on the White House to order an immediate investigation through the Department of Justice over alleged improper links between members of the Trump inner circle and the Kremlin during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign. […]

    That sounds sensible(putting aside, at least for the moment, any concerns about DoJ integrity in the era of trum-pratian dalekocracy). However:

    In an interview with the Guardian, Stone appealed to Trump, whom he has been close to for almost 40 years, to convene an inquiry through Jeff Sessions, the newly-appointed US attorney general. The president should tell his attorney general that either he finds proof of this, or he puts it to bed and announces none of it happened.

    […]

    He went on to describe claims that the Trump campaign and associates engaged improperly with Russian intelligence officials as bunk based on no proof. He said: I can speak for myself, there was no collusion, I have no connection with the Russians, I’ve never taken anything from them, I don’t represent them, I’m not talking to some middle man. If the government has evidence that I was colluding with the Russians in Donald Trump’s campaign they should indict me immediately. And if they don’t they should send me a letter apologising, because this is an outrage and a smear.

    Ah. What he really wants is a cover-up, combined with a diktat none of it happened.

    […]
    In his new book, a narrative of the 2016 election called The Making of the President, Stone tries to explain the nature of his engagement to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, over the publication of thousands of private emails of senior Democratic figures at highly sensitive stages in the race. Intelligence agencies have traced the source of the emails back to Russian intelligence, while Stone himself has been accused by the victims of the hacking of having colluded with Assange.

    [… The Grauniad goes on to document Stone’s frankly absurd Wikileaks story, including its inconsistencies …]

  106. says

    If you want Koch money to back you during the 2018 midterm elections, you have to repeal Obamacare:

    If they repeal ObamaCare, which they’ve promised to do in four consecutive elections — and we’re encouraged that they’re going to do that — then they’ll have an organization that has their back, that genuinely tells their story.

    That’s Americans for Prosperity President, Tim Phillips, speaking. The Koch brothers fund AFP.

  107. says

    SC @143. I feel your pain.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to stand there while Trump introduced this bit of off-subject ranting into the press conference:

    General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it the fake media, in many cases, and I think it is really a sad thing he was treated so badly. […]

    It has been going on for a long time before me, but now it’s really going on. I think that it is very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally, I stress that, illegally leaked.

    Talking Points Memo link

    All of these rightwingers from other countries are going to find out, mucho belatedly, that they can’t work with Trump because Trump is unstable, obsessive, and stupid.

    During the press conference with Netanyahu, Trump even mentioned Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.

    Trump is an embarrassment. Every time we hear him or see him, he humiliates the U.S.

  108. says

    [I had started writing this as a blog post a while back, and was reminded of it talking about Roger Stone and taxes on this thread:]

    Jon Ronson concludes his short book The Elephant in the Room: A Journey into the Trump Campaign and the “Alt-Right”, published during the campaign:

    …[I]f some disaster unfolds…and Trump gets elected, he could bring Alex and the others with him. The idea of Donald Trump and Alex Jones and Roger Stone and Stephen Bannon having power over us – that is terrifying.

    Among the various experiences leading Ronson to this conclusion is an interaction he recounts with Trump’s close ally Roger Stone in an elevator at the Republican National Convention in July. The anti-Trump delegates were angrily leaving the convention hall after calling for a roll-call vote and being denied. Ronson speaks to one of them, Tommy, in the hallway as he walks out, with “a man covered in Trump badges and Hillary for Prison badges…yelling insults at him”:

    ‘It’s like an absolute cult mentality’, he said to me.

    ‘Does it feel like a cult has taken over your party?’ I asked him.

    ‘YES!’ he said.

    ‘He said it felt like a cult had taken over his party’, I told Roger Stone.

    The point I was trying to make was that surely a coup that hostile, orchestrated by men as frightening as Stone, was likely to eventually fail. They had not won Tommy’s heart, nor his mind.

    But Stone just shrugged and said, ‘Get me that fellow’s name so we can get him an IRS audit’. He gave me a hard smile. ‘Just kidding’, he said.

  109. says

    Trumputin only called on conservative news outlets in the press conference with BB.

    So this is the strategy, to ignore the real press and pretend the only thing that exists is the alt right. This strategy is not going to work.

  110. says

    More excerpts from Trump’s press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

    [Trump was asked about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents since his election.]

    Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had..

    306 Electoral College votes, we were not supposed to crack 220, you know that, right? There was no way to 221. But then they said there’s no way to 270. […]

    We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. […]

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And you know it’s something that was very important to me. As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. […]

    I think a lot of good things are happening and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. OK? […]

    Netanyahu just stood there with his head down, a sort of “this is amazing” smile on his face.

  111. says

    Some leading Republicans are calling on Trump to withdraw Puzder’s nomination since they don’t have the votes to confirm him (at least 4 and possibly 12 Republicans would vote against).

  112. KG says

    InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson claimed “Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak was merely the excuse that establishment neo-cons and neo-libs from both parties were desperately searching for.” […] “deep state coup” going so far to claim that the real reason was “Flynn represented a direct threat to the military industrial complex that was swept aside by Trump’s victory.” […] – quoted by Lynna, OM@136

    The pseudo-leftist rhetoric here is interesting.

  113. says

    “German police say major newspaper’s story about a rampaging Arab ‘sex mob’ was wrong”:

    On Feb. 6, Germany’s most-read newspaper reported that dozens of Arab men, presumed to be refugees, had rampaged through the city of Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve. The men were said to have sexually assaulted women as they went through the streets; the newspaper dubbed them the Fressgass “sex mob,” referring to an upmarket shopping street in the city.

    Bild’s report sparked widespread concern in Germany. The nation has taken in millions of migrants over the past few years, and there had been reports of a similar incidents in Cologne and other cities the previous New Year’s Eve.

    But police investigating the crime now say that the allegations included in the article are “without foundation.”…

  114. says

    [Trump was asked about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents since his election.]

    And the question was something of a plea (paraphrasing): “What do you say to Jewish people in the US, in Israel, and around the world who fear that your campaign/administration is igniting this?” Makes his answer even more insulting.

  115. blf says

    The Grauniad’s The first 100 days of Trump diary (“Tracking the 45th president [sic] of the United States, one day at a time”) has added a new metric, “Number of resignations”. Currently (day 26):

    ● Number of tweets: 344
    ● Meters of the wall built: 0
    ● Number of resignations: 1
    ● Nights spent at White House: 21 of 26
    ● People, places and things recently insulted: Intelligence services, MSNBC & CNN, NYT & Washington Post

    The president is facing mounting pressure to explain his ties with Russia after it emerged that he knew weeks ago his national security adviser had misled officials about secret communications with Russian officials but did not fire him. The retired general Michael Flynn was forced to quit on Monday night after reports that he could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. Meanwhile, Democrats demanded an independent investigation into Flynn’s phone calls with the Russian ambassador, what Trump knew about them and when[,] while just one senior Republican promised to examine the matter “exhaustively”. […]

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

    William Henry Harrison holds the record for shortest presidential term, at 32 days*. Kim Il Douchebag can still break it.

    *Not coincidentally, he also holds the record for longest inauguration sppech

  117. says

    “Schumer warns of possible cover-up by Trump administration”:

    Following an emergency Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) warned that Trump officials might try to cover up improper contacts with Russian intelligence.

    Schumer said there is legitimate concern that President Trump’s circle of advisers may try to destroy evidence that could shed light on the substance of reported conversations with Russian agents.

    “There is real concern that administration, transition and campaign officials may try to cover up ties to Russia by deleting emails, texts and other records that could shine a light on those connections,” Schumer said at a press conference outside the Senate chamber following the meeting….

    Absolutely. Trump would destroy evidence without batting an eye. And Schumer’s also right that Sessions has to recuse himself immediately.

  118. says

    SC @152, Puzder’s nomination has been withdrawn, supposedly he dropped out of his own accord.

    Andrew Puzder was Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.

  119. says

    Another take on the Puzder nomination:

    Senior Republican senators are advising the White House to withdraw Andy Puzder’s nomination to be secretary of labor, saying he lacks the votes to be confirmed, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

  120. says

    “U.S. Allies Conduct Intelligence Operation Against Trump White House, Intercepted Communications”:

    As part of intelligence operations being conducted against the United States for the last seven months, at least one Western European ally intercepted a series of communications before the inauguration between advisers associated with President Donald Trump and Russian government officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

    The sources said the interceptions include at least one contact between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian official based in the United States. It could not be confirmed whether this involved the telephone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that has led to Flynn’s resignation, or additional communications. The sources said the intercepted communications are not just limited to telephone calls: The foreign agency is also gathering electronic and human source information on Trump’s overseas business partners, at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments. These operations are being conducted out of concerns that Russia is seeking to manipulate its relationships with Trump administration officials as part of a long-term plan to destabilize the NATO alliance.

    Moreover, a Baltic nation is gathering intelligence on officials in the Trump White House and executives with the president’s company, the Trump Organization, out of concern that an American policy shift toward Russia could endanger its sovereignty, according to a third person with direct ties to that nation’s government.

    The Western European intelligence operations began in August, after the British government obtained information that people acting on behalf of Russia were in contact with members of the Trump campaign. Those details from the British were widely shared among the NATO allies in Europe….

  121. blf says

    Anti-Muslim hate groups nearly triple in US since last year, report finds:

    Southern Poverty Law Center credited rise in racist and far-right groups to Donald Trump’s ‘incendiary rhetoric’ and his senior staff of ‘anti-Muslim ideologues’

    The number of organized anti-Muslim hate groups in America nearly tripled last year, from 34 to more than 100, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center […].

    The center credited the “incendiary rhetoric” of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with fueling the rise in anti-Muslim hate, along with anger over terror attacks like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last June.

    Several senior White House officials, including Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, and Kellyanne Conway, are “serious anti-Muslim ideologues”, Mark Potok, the lead author of the annual hate group report, said Wednesday.

    “It’s hardly like the departure of Michael Flynn is going to mitigate the really serious onslaught directed at American Muslims,” Potok said. The former national security adviser […] had made several anti-Muslim statements, including a Twitter post suggesting that fear of Muslims is rational.

    […]

    Two of the most prominent organizations named by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-Muslim hate groups, Frank Gaffney’s DC-based Center for Security Policy, and Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT for America, which calls itself the “NRA of national security”, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report and their categorization as hate groups.

    Asked for comment on the report, Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site, wrote: It’s just more of the same goofy gibberish from the Jews.

    […]

  122. says

    SC @164, Trump will make the intelligence gathering easier by continuing to use an unsecured phone and and unsecured Twitter account. Not to mention spreading confidential papers around on a table on the Mar-a-Lago terrace.

    Sorry for the repetition of info about Puzder.

    From Steve Benen, another look at Andy Puzder:

    […] Puzder was less a Labor Secretary nominee and more a caricature of what a ridiculous cabinet selection looks like. Even by contemporary Republican standards, his overt hostility towards working people stood out as breathtaking.

    But what ultimately derailed his nomination was the lengthy list of controversies, including allegations of domestic abuse, hiring undocumented workers, and multiple unresolved controversies surrounding his own businesses. The fact that Puzder’s confirmation hearings were delayed multiple times, in part because he seemed reluctant to provide the Senate with his background materials, didn’t help[…]

    I wonder is Puzder didn’t buy enough votes. Betsy DeVos bought enough votes.

  123. says

    About time:

    Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s access to classified information was suspended, the Defense Intelligence Agency said Wednesday, pending a review of his compliance with “applicable security clearance directives.” […]

    Link

    “Pending a review”? I think his security clearance should be suspended for the rest of his life, but I suppose the DIA has to wait for more information.

  124. says

    This is a followup to comments 7, 69, 93 and 137.

    CNN’s Jim Acosta was on the air with Wolf Blitzer. The two men discussed the fact that Trump has been taking questions only from conservative media during his press conferences. Here are the most on-point parts of Acosta’s statements:

    […] Yes, the two questions that were asked or called upon from the president in this news conference went to the Christian Broadcasting Network, which is obviously owned by Pat Robertson, the televangelist down in Virginia. It’s a very conservative broadcasting network, and Townhall.com which is a very conservative news website.

    And so in the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press. And I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it but the fix is in.

    This White House, this president, does not want to answer questions, critical questions, about his associates, his aides’ contacts with the Russians during the course of that campaign just as his national security advisor is being run out of this White House on a rail.

    And so, I think that this only, they may think that this is being cute or they think this is strategic in terms of trying to shield the president from questions. but those questions can only be shielded for so long Wolf. […]

  125. says

    Villainous:

    …Dye plans to come to Washington next month to lobby in favor of lifetime limits. He’ll target the delegation from South Carolina, his home state.

    Dye believes lifetime limits will allow insurers to offer more affordable plans, which would appeal to the low-income workers who typically use his company’s plans. He understands there will be trade-offs for families like the Morrisons, but, he says, that’s true with any policy debate.

    “You cannot design something that is going to solve every individual’s problem or situation,” he said when asked about what would happen to those who especially intense medical needs. “It can’t be unlimited or else you will have a tragic circumstance; a child will circuit the math for everyone else that is trying to operate within actuarial parameters.”…

  126. says

    SC @180, reducing people to “actuarial parameters.” Yuck. That is the kind of thing you do when you know you do not lie out of the actuarial parameters, therefore no skin off your back.

    Lack of empathy.

  127. says

    I should clarify, nationalized health care has been tried, and it’s been proven to work, but you wouldn’t know that if you lived in the conservative bubble.

  128. says

    Dear French Left,

    Please do this.

    Merci.

    Nous ne voulons pas non plus qu’ils se diluent, qu’ils fassent de petits arrangements, mais qu’ils dépassent leurs divergences et qu’ils proposent une candidature unitaire en prenant comme socle le meilleur de chacun ! Un des éléments de ce socle réside dans l’initiative populaire, moteur des programmes de ces trois acteurs et force de cette pétition.

    Car leurs points de vue sont plus convergents que divergents ! Ils doivent travailler dès maintenant à un point d’entente qui permettra d’obtenir un président entouré d’une équipe progressiste, écologiste et novatrice….

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

    Went for an eye appointment yesterday. No Glaucoma, but a few cataracts. Anyway. They had Faux News on the Tele in the waiting room. I actually listened to to some of the dreck. One thing I noticed was that every commentator, every news reader, every talking head, kept using the same phrase, the same set of carefully chosen weasel words. “Do you have any proof that anyone close to President Trump had illegal or improper contact with Russian intelligence agents?” or, “There is no proof that any member of Trump’s campaign or cabinet had any illegal or improper contact with Russian intelligence agents.”

    Never mind that Sen. Warner of Virginia does not have actual transcripts to hand. Never mind that there is, right now, evidence that something happened — they demand proof, right now, or it never happened.

    And one woman in the waiting area was lapping it up. It was like sitting in an evangelical church service. She even said, “Amen!” a couple of times.

    She also insists that all of the former officials who are pointing out the illegalities and unethicalities of the Tang Gang are part of Obama and Clinton’s Shadow Government poised to take over and, er, something.

    But my eyes are good. My brain, however, needed, and needs, bleach.

  130. says

    Ogvorbis – This is exactly the republican line on this. The real crime is the leaks. Their constituents are absolutely lapping that up. Look at the comments section of any news site, especially any conservative news site. Chaffitz is calling for an investigation into the leaks, not the contacts.

    I’m just waiting for more damning leaks. I don’t think they’ve played their entire hand yet. Release a little, see if it’s enough, if not, release some more… I hope, anyways.

  131. says

    Follow up to 193 – John Oliver brilliantly lays this out, citing that Trump gets his news from Fox, Breitbart and Alex Jones, thus:

    In Oliver’s mind, it’s all part of a pattern Trump has adopted where he seeks out theories that purport to his worldview, then uses the information as validation for his stance without ever vetting the credibility of the source.

    Later, the host lamented, “If you get your news from similar sources to him, as many, many, many people do, he doesn’t look like a crank, he looks like the first president to ever tell you the real truth.”

  132. says

    Putin is trying to break up NATO and the EU, bring Russia back to the economic and military power that it was during the Soviet years, and Trump / Bannon want to help him do it.

    So Putin gets involved in our election, hacks the DNC, wages a propaganda war against Hillary, which the rethuglicans eat up like cake, and the GOP is ok with this.

    The reason why is that they also believe that the 2 greatest threats in the world are muslims and China. Why? Because they are so different, and so not white.

    All of this shit, it all boils down to race and culture. Nevermind that the Chinese have been steadily building their own economy and behaving like good neighbors for the most part for a few decades now.

    Never mind that ISIS and other terrorist groups do not represent all muslims and that they have been losing ground for the past few years. They don’t have jet fighters or nukes and they can only do so much damage. Never mind that any white westerner has about a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being caught up in a terrorist attack. Yes I know they happen, but more people are killed in auto accidents by a long shot than by terrorism in any western country, and you don’t see us waging war on automobiles. Islamophobia is an irrational fear if you live in a western country, it really is.

    Now, if you happen to live in the middle east, in one of these war torn countries, then yeah, ISIS and other radical sects are a real and present threat, but again, that’s a winnable war that does not require us to hand the Baltic states over to Russia to get their cooperation to win it!

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

    erikthebassist:

    Oh, I’m not surprised at all at the tack that the GOP and their propaganda organs are taking. This was just a rare occasion that allowed me to hear one of their tactics — if you don’t have the proof right now, then there is no possibility of a crime and no need for an investigation. Very similar to the cry, from some, that if a victim does not have proof to hand at that very moment, there is no possiblity that any harassment, assault, rape, or molestation happened.

  134. blf says

    I don’t think they’ve played their entire hand yet. Release a little, see if it’s enough, if not, release some more

    That is almost exactly what Deep Throat did during Watergate. Mark Felt drip-fed Woodward & Bernstein, for multiple reasons. In addition, they were dealing with a set of thugs who could, would, and did destroy evidence, lie, commit crimes & blackmail, attempt to usurp the judiciary, &tc.

  135. says

    Great observation BLF. I’m sure there are bigger bombshells to come, and Trump knows it, because now CNN is reporting that he wants to bring in a billionaire friend to conduct a review of all intelligence agencies, a guy with zero intelligence experience, Stephen Feinberg (sp?)

  136. says

    Glad to hear about your eyes, Ogvorbis.

    Today is “A Day Without Immigrants” in the US.

    I’m just waiting for more damning leaks. I don’t think they’ve played their entire hand yet. Release a little, see if it’s enough, if not, release some more… I hope, anyways.

    I’m confident there’s much more to come. Neither Trump’s bluster nor Stephen Feinberg (WTF?) will be an effective brake, and if anything will only give potential whistleblowers more cause to act. I also suspect some of the information has long been safeguarded in such a way that it can come out even if some channels are shut down, and some of it is held by foreign intelligence services in any case.

  137. says

    Followup to 197 and 198.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. […]

    In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.

    Matt Yglesias suggested that the intelligence community submit everything to Trump in writing, that way they can be certain that he will never see it.

    Trump is apparently hopping mad about his inability to control the intelligence agencies (to control reality?), so he is sending his bulldog, Stephen Feinberg to tear them apart.

  138. says

    Just how angry and obsessed is Trump?

    Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!

    The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!

    FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and “sources,” is far more effective than the discredited Democrats – but they are fading fast!

    The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!

  139. says

    This is a followup to comment 176.

    Talking Dunderheads on Fox News are defending the Trump administration’s decision to call on only reporters from rightwing media. Trump is doing this during press conferences. Spicer is doing this during the White House daily briefings.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Of course, members of the mainstream media — we just ran a sound bite from Jim Acosta over at CNN, the guy who famously yelled at the president-elect during that transition period over at Trump Tower. He says “the fix is in” because yesterday the president called on [Christian Broadcasting Network] and Town Hall and not him.

    ERICK ERICKSON: Listen, I like Jim Accosta a lot, but I think that they shouldn’t be disparaging conservative media that can ask very tough questions of the president, have asked tough questions of the president, just not the questions a lot of the mainstream media has wanted. I can’t really blame the president when so many people in the media are invested in pushing a Nazi narrative against him.

    DOOCY: The Nazi narrative, you are absolutely right.

  140. says

    I’m troubled by the focus of Glenn Greenwald and others on intelligence whistleblowers at the same time ICE has unleashed a racist campaign of terror while refusing transparency and accountability.

  141. says

    Followup to comment 200.

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is denying that officials withhold information from Trump:

    Any suggestion that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true.

  142. says

    Defense Secretary James Mattis doesn’t sound like Trump.

    […] Mattis said Thursday that the U.S. is not ready to collaborate militarily with Russia. […] President Vladimir Putin asked for assistance in Syria and elsewhere.

    “We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level,” Mattis said at a NATO meeting in Brussels. “But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward where Russia, living up to its commitments, will return to a partnership of sorts, here with NATO.”

    Mattis added that America’s commitment to NATO is “rock solid.”

  143. says

    “Duck and cover: More than 200 Republicans in Congress are skipping February town halls with constituents”:

    Members of Congress are set to return to their districts this weekend for their first weeklong recess since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Heading home during legislative breaks is nothing new, but this year most Republicans are foregoing a hallowed recess tradition: holding in-person town halls where lawmakers take questions from constituents in a high school gym, local restaurant, or college classroom.

    After outpourings of rage at some early town halls — including crowds at an event near Salt Lake City yelling “Do your job!” at Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee — many Republicans are ducking in-person events altogether. Instead they’re opting for more controlled Facebook Live or “tele-town halls,” where questions can be screened by press secretaries and followups are limited — as are the chances of becoming the next viral meme of the Left.

    For the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events — and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, according to a tabulation conducted by Legistorm. In the first two months of the previous Congress in 2015, by contrast, Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events.

    …One strategy for activists has been to host their own town halls and invite their representatives to attend. The office of Rep. John Carter of Texas declined such an invitation, citing “safety reasons.” Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona also rejected a similar overture, calling it a “political ambush.”

    Another method has been to confront senators and representative in public places and demand they hold a town hall. Shivers went down the spines of many Republican communications directors on the Hill this week when a few dozen protesters confronted Sen. Steve Daines of Montana at the airport….

  144. Saad says

    SC, #209

    How the hell is there not a simple, straightforward citizen-led method of firing and replacing these assholes when they start doing stuff like this? Democracy is such a sham.

    This is like an employee refusing to come into his boss’s office for a review. You’d be shown the door in the blink of an eye.

  145. says

    How the hell is there not a simple, straightforward citizen-led method of firing and replacing these assholes when they start doing stuff like this? Democracy is such a sham.

    This is like an employee refusing to come into his boss’s office for a review. You’d be shown the door in the blink of an eye.

    I know. It’s infuriating. How is a significant level of structured, open engagement with constituents not required of elected officials?

  146. says

    Experts on U.S. interactions with Russia are calling for an independent investigation of Trump. One such expert is Evelyn Farkas. She served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia from 2012 to 2015 (that’s a Pentagon position). Ezra Klein interviewed Farkas. I have posted excerpts from a few of Farkas’ answers to questions.

    […] The fact that Flynn is gone is constructive from the perspective of US foreign policy. He was getting it wrong on combating terrorism and Russia. So I feel relieved that he will not be whispering his policy prescriptions in the president’s ear.

    On the bigger issue, the intelligence community, the bureaucracy, patriotic Americans, and some members of Congress are making it impossible for the White House to sweep whatever they are trying to hide under the rug. And the White House is clearly trying to hide something, or the president would have said, on day one, that he would support the investigations that began under his predecessor. […]

    From the perspective of the intelligence community, the fundamental question is: Are you susceptible to blackmail from a foreign entity or individual? There’s the possibility of blackmail based on giving money or lending money or guaranteeing something. There could be some hanky-panky that opens the president up to blackmail.

    It’s like you’re trying to do a security clearance on the president. The intelligence agencies want to make sure there’s no undue foreign influence on him. […]

    Congress is so politicized. For them to be in charge of an investigation is hard. So I think that what you’re going to see happen — unless the Republicans really have a come-to-Jesus moment where they decide they’ll lose in 2018 unless they pull themselves together and really investigate this in a bipartisan fashion — is Democrats and the American people will force it out of Congress and into a bipartisan, independent commission. […]

    Ezra Klein: But Congress would have to vote to form a commission like that, right? And I doubt Trump would sign that bill.

    Evelyn Farkas: It would have to be veto-proof. It would have to be the result of huge outside political pressure. The upside of farming it out, for Republicans, is that the commission allocates the blame. The president can’t say, Paul Ryan, you set me up. Paul Ryan can just say, we were under huge pressure to create the commission, but I didn’t know it would lead to this!

  147. says

    Wonkette has rebranded itself as “INTERNATIONAL HOME OF THE RESISTANCE.” I like it.

    Risk Lives To Reach Canada From USA. How The Hell Did We Become A Place People Flee?

    […] Please watch this story by CBC reporter Nick Purdon about a Somali refugee he found in the snow last weekend near Emerson, Manitoba. It matters.

    You’ll also see an interview with Ahmed from Ghana, who came to Canada after losing an asylum claim in the U.S., one of hundreds of refugees who have made the dangerous winter crossing from the U.S. after we refused to grant them refuge.

    And you’ll see Purdon’s rescue of Mohamed, the Somali man who had been walking in the snow for 21 hours and wasn’t entirely sure he’d reached Canada — he was afraid to go with an RCMP officer to a hospital, fearing he’d be sent to America and then deported.

    It matters because — and you really need to sit yourselves down and think about this for a moment — America is now a country that people run away from. […]

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

    Follow up to SC @ 177, an even more outrageous case. I’ve bolded the most outrageous part. This is why we need sanctuary cities.

    A hearing in El Paso County in Texas went from ordinary to “unprecedented” last week when half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a courthouse where an undocumented woman was seeking a protective order against the boyfriend she accused of abusing her.

    The woman, a citizen of Mexico who was living in El Paso had been driven to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living.

    She left under arrest.

    “This is really unprecedented,” El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told The Washington Post.

    It was the first time in her 23 years at the courthouse, Bernal said, that she can remember ICE agents making their presence known during a protective order hearing. The agents had come to stake out the woman, identified by her initials I.E.G., because, Bernal speculates, they likely received a tip from the only other person who knew the time and place of the hearing — the woman’s alleged abuser.

    The woman had a prior criminal record and had been previously deported, but, according to Bernal, had no current outstanding state warrants.

  149. says

    Interesting piece by Josh Marshall on some of the responses to the leaks (my emphasis):

    …What all of this comes down to is that the specter of a shadow government working against the elected government cuts to the heart of the constitutional order. But we have no real evidence that that is happening. And just as importantly, we cannot properly evaluate what might be extraordinary and unacceptable actions without the context that we are in an extraordinary and unprecedented situation. The reality is extraordinary, long before the leaking started.

    And that brings us to the most important part of this whole drama. The things that are being leaked are specific facts that are highly newsworthy and highly disturbing. They’re not stories of sexual peccadillos or things that are politically damaging but not fundamentally relevant to the work of government. They’re not vague subjective judgments about ‘the military’ or ‘the intelligence community’ not believing the president is up to the job or loyal. They’re also specific. They are things which clearly should be investigated and which the public should know about. Indeed, the leaks seem to be driven by the leakers’ belief that these issues should be investigated and mainly are not.

    In any case, this is dangerous ground, on every front. We are on numerous fronts in an unprecedented and perilous situation. No government likes leaks. Sometimes leaks are illegal. This is something that can be addressed on its own. The key here is the substance of what we’re learning. It speaks for itself. That’s why it’s been so damaging. Even Republicans, who have been remarkably willing to give Trump a pass on virtually anything as long as he will sign key legislation, have been unable to ignore this. This is no ‘political assassination’. That is a ridiculous and preposterous claim. The facts we are learning speak for themselves. When leaks are this damaging and this tied to the fundamental operations of government, it’s not about the leaks or the motives. It’s about what we’re learning and what we need to know.

  150. tomh says

    @ #210
    “Firing and replacing” these people? The obvious answer is that there is such a mechanism – it’s called an election. Unfortunately, it seems you need a majority of voters to fire and replace them. How does that make democracy “such a sham?”

  151. says

    Samantha Bee mocks Paul Ryan. Great segment.

    In other news, Reince Priebus is in trouble. Rightwing über bonkers guys Alex Jones and Roger Stone are dissing Priebus over and over again. So are some Republican congress critters. Steve Bannon’s “Breitbart” source of swill has also dissed Priebus, though Bannon denied that he had “put a hit out on Priebus.” Watch your back Reince.

    ALEX JONES (HOST): It was Reince Priebus running around saying that the popular vote doesn’t matter, and trying to stop Trump getting the nomination. In fact, I think the only mistake Trump has made is putting this guy in there.

    ROGER STONE: An enormous mistake. Look, better a snake in the grass than an asp in the bosom.

    JONES: Yes. Absolutely, good biblical saying, you don’t want to have a viper in your pants, it’s better to have him in the grass, I agree.

    STONE: And look it’s very clear the president needs to clean house. He needs a team of men and women who are dedicated Trumpites, who are dedicated anti-globalists who see the big picture.

  152. says

    Retired judge Mark P. Painter wrote an op-ed for Cincinnati.com, “It’s time to impeach Trump.”

    After the election, many hoped that Trump would “grow up” into the job – that he couldn’t possibly be as bad as some thought. Well, it’s gone the other way. The bully has become a more entitled bully. Anyone disagreeing is attacked. Policy is announced in illiterate tweets.

    Basic American values – free speech, the rule of law, separation of powers, even common decency – are unknown in this White House. We now have a president who has no concept of separation of powers, or why we have three branches of government. If he knew anything about the Constitution, he would know the framers envisioned just the situation we have now – a would-be dictator. They provided checks and balances – such as an independent judiciary to protect us from presidential tyranny.

    I am a lifelong Republican. I voted for every Republican presidential candidate from 1968 to 2004. But I have watched what once was a sane, center-right party go off the rails, first to the extreme right, then to wherever Trump is, which is in another universe.

    It’s tough, but we must end this dangerous presidency. Trump must be impeached and removed with all haste. But only Congress can initiate the process.

  153. says

    From the responses to Marshall’s article:

    “…share info with Russia, that is a call which his election gives him the power and authority to make.” Important and sad point.

    Disagree. Intelligence is functioning, rightfully, as whistleblowers & right to withhold info from compromised recipients.

    I agree with the latter point, and disagree broadly with this section of the article. They’re pledged to defend the Constitution against domestic threats. It’s also easy to forget that there are real lives on the line. Especially following the arrests in Russia for treason, if they think Trump (or Flynn, prior to a few days ago) are compromised, they believe that in sharing some information they would be risking the safety and lives of agents, assets, and soldiers. (Many of these people are their colleagues and closest friends, which isn’t really part of the argument, but you can see how, if these stories are true about the withholding of information, people might be driven to such extremes.)

  154. Saad says

    @ #210
    “Firing and replacing” these people? The obvious answer is that there is such a mechanism – it’s called an election. Unfortunately, it seems you need a majority of voters to fire and replace them. How does that make democracy “such a sham?”

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the elections. Never mind.

    I just wish other jobs worked like that. I’ll fuck up as many surgeries as I please. You can’t get rid of me until the end of 2018.

    You’re right. Totally not a sham.

  155. says

    “Firing and replacing” these people? The obvious answer is that there is such a mechanism – it’s called an election. Unfortunately, it seems you need a majority of voters to fire and replace them. How does that make democracy “such a sham?”

    Speaking only for myself, I support more direct democracy and think representative democracy is – especially with communications technology as it is these days – dated. But if you’re going to have representative democracy, it should involve representatives actually having to confer with constituents and represent them. Much of what we have is a system in which people make a choice to elect someone* every several years, and that person then apparently has no obligation to represent their interests or even meet with them (meanwhile, they can represent the interests of corporations and rich donors). Having elections every few years makes things more democratic than if we didn’t have them, but it’s a stretch to claim that it’s close to the democratic ideal in which people actually rule in the sense that they participate in making the decisions in the matters important to their lives.

    * (with the resources to run a campaign)

  156. says

    Trump now claiming he “inherited a mess” from Obama. As I said a while back, he will use claims that things were already “a disaster,” “falling apart,” “a mess” to refuse responsibility for his failures and let loose his destructiveness.

    Trump the conman inadvertently on display: Referring to military equipment being too old, he says “I used it…” and then changes to “I talked about it at every stop.” (His whole shtick is that of a conman, but sometimes he really lets slip his deceptiveness.)

    He’s talking, and lying, about the electoral college again.

    “This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

  157. tomh says

    @ #223
    “it’s a stretch to claim that it’s close to the democratic ideal in which people actually rule in the sense that they participate in making the decisions in the matters important to their lives.”

    I don’t know anyone who claims the system is ideal, but the idea that people participate (vote?) on every important issue that comes up seems a bit unwieldy, to say the least. I’m assuming you still think that a representative should favor the majority opinion of their constituents. Short of holding an election on every issue, I’m not sure how you would determine that. I guess I don’t understand your solution.

  158. says

    SC @ 205 – I think they are wagging the dog on this one. The aggressive immigration raids are probably specifically designed to divert attention from the leaks. Hopefully the ACLU can come to the rescue on that one.

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

    Wife texted me, “The lunatic is on the hill . . .”

    I immediately called her and asked what Trump was up to now. A press conference introducing Costa from Florida International University as new Labour Secretary. And he is, according to Wife, unhinged — 306 electoral votes is the most ever, he got a majority of the votes cast, Flynn was only doing his job, yadda-yadda-yaddada!

    Have you ever seen the movie “The Producers”? Either the original or the newer musical? You know the scene when the audience realizes just what “Springtime for Hitler” is about? The look of shock with their jaws hanging open? That is the way Wife described the press corps.

  160. says

    tomh – several states implement proposition voting with out much issue. Personally, I don’t want the ignorant masses voting on every individual issue, but don’t claim it can’t be done.

  161. tomh says

    @ #229
    Proposition voting? I assume you mean ballot propositions. Of course that’s done, but that’s hardly what was suggested.

  162. says

    I don’t know anyone who claims the system is ideal,

    I didn’t say it wasn’t ideal, but that it’s not close to the ideal.

    but the idea that people participate (vote?) on every important issue that comes up seems a bit unwieldy, to say the least. I’m assuming you still think that a representative should favor the majority opinion of their constituents. Short of holding an election on every issue, I’m not sure how you would determine that. I guess I don’t understand your solution.

    I don’t actually think it would be all that unwieldy. Most issues are ongoing, and people can set broad policy, give people in specific jobs mandates, and deliberate and make specific decisions (using communications technology that wouldn’t necessitate that they be in the same location – when necessary. I believe this is also possible, and necessary, in the economic realm as well. (I also favor federations of smaller political units.)

  163. says

    @232 – how is hardly what was suggested? It’s voting directly on specific propositions or issues instead of having a representative vote on it. It’s exactly what was suggested.

  164. says

    Another lone wolf apolitical non-terrorist:

    A white supremacist with felony convictions in South Carolina bought a gun from an undercover FBI agent, telling the agent he planned an attack in “the spirit of Dylann Roof,” authorities said Thursday.

    McDowell didn’t have a specific target in mind, once telling the undercover agent he might just shoot at a party of black people, Lowe wrote.

    Authorities began investigating McDowell in December after he threatened a synagogue on Facebook. Horry County Police had kept track of McDowell since his release from prison on felony burglary charges a few years ago because he made connections with white supremacists while behind bars, according to the affidavit.

  165. tomh says

    @ #234

    What was suggested, and spelled out more in #233, was that people continually participate in policy decisions, not just vote every two years. It seems this would cover a broad range of issues, set job mandates, deliberate ongoing issues, etc., rather than just vote on specific issues that garner enough signatures to get on the ballot.

    To me, the idea seems likely to be completely unworkable, not least because I doubt that the vast majority of people want to spend time like this, hence the attraction of a representative to do it for them. But at least it’s a thought-out plan, and it’s definitely not ballot propositions.

  166. says

    SC @238. Nikki, did you hear what Trump said? Your boss did not exactly agree with you.

    SC @237, so Trump joins Chaffetz and other Republicans in a delusion about their own constituents. Yes, you do represent all of those people. And yes, many of those people are Republicans.

    That delusion reminds me of the way that Trump described people participating in anti-semitic or racist incidents in his name. A reporter asked about that, and Trump basically said “those are not my people.” He went on to blame his opponents. Is he saying that every anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-black/brown people incident is a false flag event concocted by his opponents?

  167. says

    Josh Marshall again:

    This is that rare time when I think the cliched phrase is appropriate: That press conference speaks for itself. There’s very little I can think to add. It all amounts to a confirmation of what most of us already know. This man is not emotionally or characterologically equipped to serve as President. He lacks the focus, the ability to commit to even a passable amount of work without immediate emotional gratification. Thus his decision to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Friday. (It’s literally a campaign event, put on by his 2020 reelection campaign). Trump lacks the emotional resilience or toughness to deal with what is the inevitable criticism and difficulties of being President, which – lets be clear – are great.

    These different deficits all feed upon each other….

    There were further contortions and comments that will allay no one’s concerns about Russia, and his answer to a simple question about whether there would be a response to recent Russian provocations was “I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do!”

  168. says

    SC @239, Trump comes off as pitiful. That is painful to watch.

    Also, Trump contradicted himself a couple of times. He claimed the stories in the media about connections to Russia were “made up.” Next, he called those same stories illegal leaks of classified information.

    Trump blamed Democrats for coming up with fake stories about connections to Russia, but it was U.S. Intelligence agencies that came up with that information. Trump has been briefed about the Russian hacking and about other connections to Russia several times. I sometimes wonder if he actually forgets those briefings (as well as forgetting previous comments he has made), and he reverts to his favorite conspiracy theory and calls it good.

  169. says

    tomh, not the way I read it but whatever, this is a stupid argument because unless you want to try and amend the constitution, it’s not going to change anyways. There is no perfect system of government, and ours has worked quite well for 240 years.

    No system of government can save the people from themselves however.

  170. says

    More analysis of Trump’s press conference:

    […] 3. “The leaks are absolutely real; the news is fake” Trump said that the leaks about his private phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were “illegal” and allowing people to find out “exactly what took place.” Yet he also repeatedly claimed that the news reports based on those leaks is “fake, because so much of the news is fake.” […]

    5. “Nuclear holocaust would be like no other” In one particularly off-the-wall aside, Trump noted that both Russia and the U.S. are “very powerful” nuclear countries and that friendly relations between the two nations are a positive because his security briefings have taught him that “nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”

    6. “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have seen in your entire life” Trump accused a Jewish reporter who asked how his administration planned to address anti-Semitic threats of being unfriendly, told him to be “quiet,” and said he found his question “repulsive.”

    7. “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship” Trump claimed that the American people would think it was “so great” if he ordered an attack on the Russian spy ship reportedly loitering off the coast of Connecticut but that he wouldn’t because he wanted to try to preserve U.S.-Russian relations. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/craziest-moments-trump-press-conference-leaks-russia

  171. says

    I sometimes wonder if he actually forgets those briefings (as well as forgetting previous comments he has made), and he reverts to his favorite conspiracy theory and calls it good.

    Seeing as how his medical condition was provided to voters via a statement from his DR that sounds suspiciously like he wrote it himself, I doubt highly if he has been evaluated for early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    If we live through this, we need a constitutional amendment to make sure presidential candidates receive thorough psychological, psychiatric and neurological examinations.

  172. says

    Trump demonstrates, once again, that the buck does not stop with him. He is never to blame. He is never accountable.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that the rollout of his “travel ban” was smooth but that it was interrupted by a “bad court.”

    “We had a bad decision. We had a court that’s been overturned, again, it may be wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time. A lot. We had a bad decision,” Trump said at an hourlong press conference in the East Room of the White House.

    “We’re going to keep going with that decision,” he said, referring to the original order. “We’re going to put in a new executive order next week sometime, but we had a bad decision. That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban.” […]

    Link

    SC already posted in comment 225 about Trump’s lie that 80% of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions have been overturned. Trump repeated that lie twice.

  173. says

    To me, the idea seems likely to be completely unworkable, not least because I doubt that the vast majority of people want to spend time like this, hence the attraction of a representative to do it for them.

    I disagree. I think when people have the opportunity to participate in a real way in talking and making decisions about their lives, they appreciate it. There’s a very deeply rooted tradition of local democracy where I’m from, and it doesn’t always go smoothly to put it mildly, but I genuinely believe that it’s the political life most suited to our species and our well-being. (Now, the demands of capitalism make it nearly impossible for most people at present to do, but I can conceive of a world in which people’s lives are organized very differently and it’s just a regular part of people’s day.) I don’t think representative democracy of the sort we have now arose because people in general were attracted to it but because some powerful people thought it was safer for them than more direct democracy. (Also, a sortition system like they had in ancient Greece is different from ours, and ours in comparison looks a lot closer to an oligarchy.)

  174. says

    Trump in full fascist mode:

    I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present, which is an honor to have you this morning, because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. And I hope going forward we can be a little bit — a little bit different and maybe get along a little bit better if that’s possible. Maybe it’s not, and that’s OK, too.

    Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C. — along with New York, Los Angeles in particular — speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it to find out what’s going on because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.

    I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking and really taking on this very entrenched power structure. And what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure. We’re talking about its entrenchment. As a result, the media is going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort — not all the time, and some of the media is fantastic, I have to say, they’re honest and fantastic — but much of it is not. They — the distortion – and we’ll talk about it, you’ll be able to ask me questions about it. But we’re not going to let it happen because I’m here again to take my message straight to the people.

  175. says

    Elijah Cummings’ office fact-checked another one of Trump’s lies:

    President Donald Trump said a planned meeting with Rep. Elijah Cummings has been called off because of partisan politics — but the prominent Congressional Black Caucus member and top Democrat on the House oversight panel denied it.

    “He was probably told, ‘Don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics,’ and that’s part of the problem in this country,” Trump said during a marathon press conference at the White House.

    Cummings’ office quickly disputed that characterization and said a fuller statement would be forthcoming.

    Cummings’ office said that no meeting was ever officially scheduled.

  176. says

    tomh, not the way I read it but whatever, this is a stupid argument because unless you want to try and amend the constitution, it’s not going to change anyways.

    Talking about alternatives to the present reality is never stupid! It reminds us that we create the world and that things as they are aren’t given by some divine mandate. In any case, I don’t know that, on a more minor scale and getting back to the original outrage, a law requiring elected representatives to meet regularly in an open forum with their constituents and to maintain open channels for constituent input would be unconstitutional.

  177. says

    Followup to comment 250:

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says President Trump invented a story about him cancelling a scheduled meeting between them.

    “I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today,” he said […]

    “Of course, [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] never told me to skip a meeting with the president,” […]

    “I also sincerely have no idea why the President made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus. I am sure members of the CBC can answer these questions for themselves.” […]

    Trump said, “I was all set to have that meeting. We called him [Cummings] and called him. I spoke to him on the phone and he wanted it.”

    “[Cummings] was all excited and then he said, ‘Oh, I can’t move it,’” Trump recounted. “‘It might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.’”

    “He was probably told by Schumer – or some other lightweight – ‘don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics.’ That’s part of the problem in this country.” […]

    The Hill link

    Yes, that does sound like Trump making up a lie on the spot, and then, like a con man, adding details to try to make it believable.

  178. says

    I don’t know that, on a more minor scale and getting back to the original outrage, a law requiring elected representatives to meet regularly in an open forum with their constituents and to maintain open channels for constituent input would be unconstitutional.

    Absolutely, although it’s sad that we seem to be in need of such a law to begin with.

  179. says

    During his press conference, Trump mentioned Hillary Clinton several times. Here is an example:

    It is good. We had Hillary Clinton try to do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20% of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things.

    But nobody talks about that. I did not do anything for Russia. I’ve done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20% of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?

    The uranium-related conspiracy theory has been debunked multiple times.

    Donald Trump inaccurately suggests Clinton got paid to approve Russia uranium deal

  180. says

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that the rollout of his “travel ban” was smooth but that it was interrupted by a “bad court.”

    “We had a bad decision. We had a court that’s been overturned, again, it may be wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time. A lot. We had a bad decision,” Trump said at an hourlong press conference in the East Room of the White House.

    “We’re going to keep going with that decision,” he said, referring to the original order. “We’re going to put in a new executive order next week sometime, but we had a bad decision. That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban.” […]

    “Keep going with that decision” in the real world means rescinding the existing order:

    The Trump Administration declared Thursday that it planned to rescind its controversial travel ban and replace it with a new one that officials believe can withstand court challenges.

    “Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” the Justice Department said in briefs filed Thursday in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which earlier had refused to overturn a lower-court order that halted the travel ban.

    Trump also said the new order would be tailored to the problems cited in the decision, which was a bad decision, because that makes sense.

    Also from the filing:

    The administration’s brief seemed to take further issue with the three-judge panel when it said that the appellate ruling “suggested that plaintiffs and courts could plumb the subjective motivations behind a facially neutral and legitimate Executive Order.” The brief called such a potential legal excursion “an unprecedented possibility.”

    This is nonsense and they’re no doubt terrified of discovery, as they should be. I still don’t see how a new substantially similar order could solve the problems (which have actually been found by several courts, most recently in VA) or avoid this original question of discriminatory intent. But I could be wrong. IANAL.

  181. says

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says President Trump invented a story about him cancelling a scheduled meeting between them.

    As soon as he started spinning that yarn, I thought “I wonder how long it’ll be before Cummings calls him out.”

  182. says

    During his press conference Trump referred to his popularity several times. He referenced one outlier pol, Rasmussen, that claimed an approval rating of 55%. Everyone but Trump knows that Rasmussen is Republican propaganda, and that their polling has been wildly inaccurate and laughable for some time.

    Other polls do not show similar results. For example, Pew Research’s latest survey shows Trump with an approval rating of 39%.

    […] Trump’s overall job approval is much lower than those of prior presidents in their first weeks in office: 39% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. […]

    This level of strong disapproval already surpasses strong disapproval for Barack Obama at any point during the eight years of his presidency. The only occasion when strong disapproval of George W. Bush was higher than for Trump currently was in December 2008, near the end of his presidency.

    And while all presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan initially attracted at least modest support from the opposing party, Trump gets almost none. Just 8% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents approve of his job performance – by far the lowest rating for any new president from the opposing party in more than three decades. […]

  183. says

    Wonkette covered Trump’s poll results:

    […] Looks like Americans overwhelmingly agree Trump is a liar who can’t string together a sentence, and also a stupid bumblefuck idiot. At the same time in his presidency, Obama was viewed as an honest man, a smart man, and a brilliant communicator. […]

    Another tidbit: only 28% of Americans […] believe Trump is “even-tempered,” whereas 68% of Americans […] say he is not. [Trump is] apparently so unhinged at this point he doesn’t realize that the leaks cannot simultaneously be fake news AND real classified information. […]

    Charts comparing Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump are available at the link.

    SC @256:

    As soon as he started spinning that yarn, I thought “I wonder how long it’ll be before Cummings calls him out.”

    Yes! Me too. When Trump starts spinning one of his tall tales, we can tell he is lying. It’s too bad that he can’t always be caught in real time, like he was when he made inaccurate claims about his Electoral College win.

  184. says

    Did you notice that Trump bragged about the size of his rally crowd in Florida … for a rally that has not yet taken place?

    And, to repeat, the upcoming rally is an actual campaign event … for the 2020 presidential election.

  185. says

    SC @261, Ha! The Congressional Black Caucus wins.

    The part of the press conference where Trump tried to get a female, African-American reporter to arrange a meeting with the CBC was bizarre. She is a reporter, you doofus. She is not a politician, nor an elected official in the Congress. And being black does not mean that she is “friends” with the members of the CBC.

  186. says

    Followup to comment 263.

    Soon after Trump said, “Are they friends of yours?” in reference to the CBC, Trump claimed to be “the least racist person” anyone has ever seen.

  187. says

    @264 go shep! I find it interesting that a few different typically conservative commentators have turned on him. Joe Scarborough is another one. He went off the other day about Stephen Miller’s tirade.

    It doesn’t surprise me though that Donny loves Fox and Friends. That show literally seems like it’s produced by and for children. So clueless.

  188. says

    “Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador”:

    Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said.

    The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department. Some officials said bringing a case could prove difficult in part because Flynn may attempt to parse the definition of sanctions.

    A spokesman for Flynn said he had no response. The FBI declined to comment.

    Senior Justice and intelligence officials who have reviewed the phone call thought Flynn’s statements to Kislyak were inappropriate, if not illegal, because he suggested that the Kremlin could expect a reprieve from the sanctions.

    At the same time, officials knew that seeking to build a case against Flynn for violating an obscure 1799 statute known as the Logan Act — which bars private citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes — would be legally and political daunting.

  189. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @265

    Soon after Trump said, “Are they friends of yours?” in reference to the CBC, Trump claimed to be “the least racist person” anyone has ever seen.

    To be fair, given the small number of black people in the Trumpiverse who are not in prison, on welfare, playing professional sports or actively committing crimes it was a reasonable assumption.

  190. says

    Matt Yglesias: “There is clearly a group of FBI sources who keep feeding journalists exculpatory Trump/Russia nuggets that are later debunked.”

    Sure seems that way (assuming this latest WaPo report is accurate). The stories saying the FBI found that Flynn had been truthful came out only yesterday. It’s now typically a matter of hours or a few days until the exculpatory claims are debunked. I suggested that the claim in the article I cited @ #126 above that “The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation” might not hold up given this history. I’m now wondering if it’ll make it to the weekend.

    I’m not sure what their endgame is. I can think of a few possibilities.

  191. says

    So the article suggests briefly and now I’ve heard others on MSNBC saying that the FBI actually doesn’t think Flynn lied because he was talking about the expulsion of Russians rather than “sanctions,” but the expulsion was one of the sanctions. So his defense apparently hinges on his not understanding what sanctions are, apparently.

  192. says

    “Oklahoma judge orders EPA nominee Scott Pruitt to turn over emails to watchdog group”:

    An Oklahoma County District Court judge on Thursday ordered President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the EPA to turn over thousands of communications to a watchdog group.

    The order is the latest turn in a lawsuit against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt brought by the Center for Media and Democracy earlier this month. CMD charges Pruitt violated the Oklahoma Open Records Act for declining to make public official documents the group has requested since 2015.

    Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons of the District Court of Oklahoma County instructed Pruitt’s office to hand over the emails to CMD by Tuesday. The Oklahoma attorney general has 10 days to comply with the group’s other records requests, Timmons ruled.

    CMD has sought correspondences between Pruitt’s office and Koch Industries, other mining and drilling companies, and the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Pruitt chaired. As of Thursday’s hearing, the office had produced 411 of the 3,000 emails CMD requested, according to the group.

    Timmons found “there was an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested” by CMD.

    The decision comes ahead of Pruitt’s confirmation to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which is expected to take place on Friday.

    “Scott Pruitt and Senate Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process, permitting the nominee to escape scrutiny and hide his deep ties to the fossil fuel industry,” the Sierra Club said in a statement.

    “The vote to confirm Pruitt must now be delayed until every senator can see just who Pruitt is and what he will do if permitted to run the EPA.”

  193. says

    SC @271, if you don’t say the word “sanctions,” you are not talking about sanctions. If you don’t say “Muslim ban,” you are not talking about a muslim ban. FFS. Semantic bullshit from Team Trump. From what I’ve seen, Flynn was obviously talking about sanctions. And he was doing so before Trump was sworn in as president. Doubly wrong.

  194. says

    SC @274, hmm. I thought that might happen. Harward looked like a guy whose brain works well, so he was not a good fit for team Trump. I wonder who they’ll try next?

    During his press conference, Trump said that we’re going to be “seeing a lot of love.” I don’t think this is what he meant:

    The number of hate groups in the United States rose for the second straight year in 2016, with a sharp spike in those spreading anti-Muslim messages, according to a civil rights group.

    In its annual census of hate groups and extremist organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said the overall number of hate groups grew from 892 in 2015 to 917 in 2016.

    But the number of anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled — from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.

    The SPLC said the tenor of the presidential campaign energized certain sectors of the hate movement. […]

    NBC News link

  195. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Watching The Racheal Maddow Show, and just heard that the Trump misadministration has said that they won’t fight the judicially overturned immigration ban, and will negate the executive order and write a new one *snicker*. Like it will survive too.

  196. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sorry SC, I’ve been busy sorting insurance information all day, and your post evidently didn’t stick in my short term memory.
    Again, my apologies.
    *I did love that she had on the Attorney General of Washington State, who said the Trump folks just caved in legally*

  197. Saad says

    From Lynna’s #276

    But the number of anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled — from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.

    See what happens when you punch a Nazi?

  198. says

    Special, special snowflakes – “Jared Kushner Delivers Critique of CNN to Time Warner Executive: Trump’s son-in-law and adviser complains that coverage has been slanted against the president”:

    Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, met with a senior Time Warner Inc. executive in recent weeks and expressed the administration’s deep concerns about CNN’s news coverage, according to a White House official and other people familiar with the matter.

    In a meeting at the White House, Mr. Kushner complained to Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications at CNN’s parent Time Warner, about what Mr. Kushner feels is unfair coverage slanted against the president, the people said.

    While the administration is battling a large swath of the media, the fight with CNN has special intrigue because its parent company has a massive piece of business awaiting government approval: a proposed $85.4 billion sale to AT&T Inc….

    In the final stretch of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump said he would block the agreement and singled out the news network in his statement. “AT&T is buying Time Warner, and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration,” he said. The deal will be reviewed by government agencies including the Justice Department.

    Mr. Kushner has taken issue with specific CNN contributors including Van Jones, a Democrat who served in the Obama administration, and Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, who have each criticized Mr. Trump in harsh terms, the people familiar with the matter said….

  199. says

    I see that people are responding that the idea of a trap is based on claims from Louise Mensch and that she’s not a trustworthy source. While I agree about Mensch, I don’t think protesting Trump rallies at this point is wise or productive, and opens people up to instigators and possible violence. (I mentioned on another thread that I recently went to a protest in a Trump-friendly area where there was a pro-Trump counter-demonstration. It was a smaller group, but they a) were itching for confrontation, which our side wisely refused to give them and b) seemed to have more support from the police.)

  200. blf says

    Out of the loop: Rex Tillerson finds state department sidelined by White House (my added emboldening):

    America’s top diplomat [sic] is operating with senior staff positions left vacant, his deputy vetoed and foreign policy made by an ideological clique around Trump
    […]
    Since starting the job two weeks ago, [US secretary of state Rex] Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil executive, has soothed nerves at the state department by consulting widely with regional and country experts, but it has been hard to disguise the gap between the department headquarters at Washington’s Foggy Bottom and the White House where far-reaching foreign policy decisions are being made.

    Senior state department officials who would normally be called to the White House for their views on key policy issues, are not being asked their opinion. They have resorted to asking foreign diplomats, who now have better access to President Trump’s immediate circle of advisers, what new decisions are imminent.

    The public voice of the state department has fallen silent. There has not been a daily press briefing, the customary channel for voicing US views and policy on world events, since January.

    […]

    [Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation and one of the senior staff who was suddenly sacked before Tillerson’s arrival, said] “My nagging suspicion is that the White House is very happy to have a vacuum in the under-secretary and assistant secretary levels, not only at state but across government agencies, because it relieves them of even feeling an obligation to consult with experts before they take a new direction.”

    In normal times, the state department is a constant part of an inter-agency policymaking process coordinated by the national security council. But the NSC is in crisis and not just because its leader, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his discussions with the Russian ambassador were revealed.

    The NSC itself is being bypassed on key decisions by a small group of highly ideological advisers around Trump led by his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, a former Breitbart News executive with ties to the far right. […]

    The article also discusses Tillerson’s own possible dislike of both the press and outside scrutiny, plus other matters related to the apparent neutering of the State Department.

  201. says

    Follow-up to #273 above:

    Members of Congress expressed alarm that all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are at risk of deportation. They said this was made clear to them in a meeting Thursday with a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official.

    There are approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.

    ICE arrested nearly 700 people in multi-city raids and operations across the country last week, including among those taken into custody people who were not considered priorities for deportation under the Obama administration.

    The sweeps caused panic, fear and confusion throughout the immigrant community, as people who once thought they were safe learned of the arrests. Since the arrests, lawmakers with large immigrant communities in their states have been pressing the Trump administration to articulate under what guidelines for arrest and deportation that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been operating.

    Sanchez said that the current resources that ICE has is the only thing limiting who the agency removes….

  202. says

    SC @293, that’s the most smiles I’ve ever seen from Rep. Elijah Cummings.

    SC @297 and erik @298, I think Rachel Maddow was right when she said that it is the states who are going to have to stand up to Trump. It was attorneys general in two states that put a halt to Trump’s immigration ban executive order. It will be harder to stand up to National Guard Troops.

    Up-thread, SC linked to info about Jason Chaffetz continuing his investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server by going after the guy who set it up. And now we find out that House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz has joined Representative Elijah Cummings and other House Democrats to investigate Flynn’s connections in Russia, specifically, the trip Flynn made to Russian in 2015 and whether or not he was paid. Chaffetz has two faces?

    Or maybe Chaffetz is trying to mollify the anger he saw in his hometown crowd (in Salt Lake City) by gesturing toward an investigation of Flynn without really grappling with the core issues?

    It’s odd.

  203. blf says

    While Trump scandals mount, Chaffetz decides to investigate… a cartoon character (my added emboldening):

    Angry Utahans shouted down Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, at the Republican’s recent town hall meeting.

    “Do your job!” they chanted, scolding him for refusing to investigate the Trump administration.

    In fairness to Chaffetz, he is busy with more pressing matters.

    […]

    The chairman of the powerful panel — the main investigative committee in the House — sent a letter to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demanding to know why, in an attempt to raise awareness of the Zika virus, “CDC appears poised to make a sole source award to the Jim Henson Company for $806,000 to feature Sid the Science Kid in an educational program about the virus.”

    Scandalous!

    Sid, for readers not familiar with PBS children’s programming, is a preschool cartoon character. Like President Trump, Sid is orange. Unlike Trump, he is highly inquisitive. In each episode, Sid answers questions such as: Why can’t he scratch his ear with his foot the way his dog can? Why does his stomach growl when he makes French toast? Why did his yellow banana turn brown and mushy? In one of my favorite episodes, “The Big Sneeze,” Sid discovers that he needs to wash his hands even if he can’t see germs on them.

    Chaffetz was quick to recognize the danger. On Jan 26, the day after TMZ reported that the CDC was planning a Zika-education partnership with Sid, Chaffetz fired off a letter to acting CDC director Anne Schuchat, demanding a “written explanation” and “communications between CDC and the Jim Henson Company and also PBS.”

    […]

  204. says

    Follow-up to comment 297.

    […] Governors of those states would have the choice of whether or not their guard troops participate. Note that this is just a draft memo thus far, and it’s leaking might be a trial balloon, but that fact that it exists even in draft is appalling, and it adds to the fear and uncertainty already roiling communities. It also gives more ammunition to nativists to attack immigrant communities. […]

    Link

    Response from Sean Spicer: “This is not true. DHS also confirms it is 100% false”

  205. says

    It’s entirely plausible that it’s among plans they’ve been considering. The AP certainly has a memo. The only way the story could be false is if someone in the would-be regime produced a fake document and instructed people to lie to the AP intentionally.

  206. says

    I see that in comment 301, SC referenced Sean Spicer’s total loss of credibility.

    If the draft of an order proposing the use of 100,000 National Guard troops is a hoax, it is an elaborate one. The draft was 11 pages long. That’s a lot of work for a hoax.

    In other news, Trump thinks he did well at his press conference yesterday:

    Thank you for all of the nice statements on the Press Conference yesterday. Rush Limbaugh said one of greatest ever. Fake media not happy!

  207. says

    erik @300, yes, it looks like Trump was, in effect, paid to be nicer to China. Slimeball.

    In other news, Trump plans to sign more executive orders soon. Of course he does.

    […] President Donald Trump plans to sign between two and five environmental executive orders aimed at the EPA and possibly the State Department. The White House is reportedly planning to hold an event at the EPA headquarters, similar to the administration’s roll-out of its widely condemn travel ban after Defense Secretary James Mattis took office. While we don’t know what, exactly, next week’s orders will say, Trump is expected to restrict the agency’s regulatory oversight. Based on one administration official’s bluster, the actions could “suck the air” out of the room. […]

  208. says

    Rightwingers loved Trump’s press conference:

    ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): […] The room, at times, looked like a WWE arena with the mainstream media having fits about being called out for their unfair reporting of the Trump administration. This is vintage Trump, though. It was campaign Trump. Donald Trump was in his element and it was awesome to watch. K.G., it was almost like, you know that whack-a-mole game? One stands up, boom, he gets smacked down, the next one stands up, boom, he gets smacked down. They were asking for this. [Fox News, The Five, 2/16/17]

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): It was like Edward Scissorhands, like he had ten arms and was whacking all over the place. Anyway, it was very funny. When I was watching it, I was thinking to myself, wow, this is wildly entertaining. […]

    But guess what? He answered all the questions. He was up there for over an hour and great. I thought it was good. It reminded me a little bit of the free accessibility when he was out on the campaign, and everybody was there and able to ask what they liked. So I don’t know, I enjoyed it. [Fox News,The Five, 2/16/17]

    Two thoughts:
    1. LOL Trump is hammering the press!
    2. OMG Trump has a hammer! [from Ben Shapiro]

    Bold & fresh press conference by President Trump today. His main themes: press dishonesty and national security leaks. [from Bill O’Reilly]

    Trump is already head of state. After that press conference, in my eyes, he’s now head of church. [from Ann Coulter]

    Media Matters link, more details at the link.

  209. says

    In Flynn news

    The Pentagon says it has not discovered any evidence former national security adviser Michael Flynn received authorization to accept money for a paid Russian state TV event in 2015.

    The Department of the Army conducted “a thorough records search, and has not found any documents,” acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer said in a Tuesday letter, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    The Journal said Speer’s message was in response to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee….

  210. blf says

    Here’s an interesting column on how a professional fact-checker checks a claim, Just the facts: investigate Donald Trump’s Chicago claim for yourself: “This week, the president argued that parts of Chicago were worse than much of the Middle East in terms of safety. Here’s how you can be the fact-checker”. The column is more about the method than the result.

    And yes, hair furor is significantly misleading, he is excluding warzones, ignoring other States-side cities with higher murder rates, also ignoring Chicago’s rate is showing a downwards trend, and so on. As the author snarks in conclusion: “Trump’s 32-word soundbite is further from the truth than Chicago is from the Middle East”.

  211. says

    (Which isn’t to say that they wouldn’t work to discredit media reporting in any way they could, including by planting fake stories later shown to be false, but they’re plagued with a mounting scandal, constant damaging leaks, internal conflicts, and their own inexperience and incompetence. The go-to explanation for their actions shouldn’t be that they’re part of some brilliant strategy.)

  212. says

    Tony Blair is nurturing a resistance of his own:

    Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the British people to “rise up” against the proposed exit from the European Union despite the result of a referendum held last year. The Brexit vote is not technically binding and Blair insists there could still be an opportunity to preserve Britain’s status in the political and economic union if people change their minds when they discover the true impact of negotiations to leave.

    “I don’t know if we can succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try. This is not the time for retreat, indifference, or despair, but the time to rise up in defense of what we believe,” he said.

    Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, responded by saying: “I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV the next time Blair comes on.”

    Daily Beast link

  213. says

    SC @313, agreed. General and/or willful ignorance seems to be a good explanation. There’s also dysfunction, and disorganization coupled with arrogance. Fools.

    Seth Meyers mocked Trump’s “batshit crazy” press conference. Scroll down for video.

  214. says

    “Suspect in North Korea killing ‘thought she was taking part in TV prank’ “:

    An Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the killing of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother in Malaysia was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank, Indonesia’s national police chief has said, citing information received from Malaysian authorities.

    Tito Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in pranks.

    He said she and another woman performed stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.

    “Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”…

  215. says

    Trump, with the help of Jared Kushner, is shutting the State Department out of important meetings and discussions.

    Not a single representative from the State Department was reportedly present for White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Instead, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has no diplomatic experience or regional expertise, was given a central role in the meeting, according to a CBS News report late Thursday.

    Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was officially scheduled to take Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s place in one of the meetings with Netanyahu, but then reportedly was shut completely out of the White House gathering.

    The news comes as nearly an entire floor of State Department personnel were reportedly laid off Thursday, amid continued confusion as the Trump administration moves in at Washington’s central diplomatic institution. […]

    Link

  216. says

    Follow-up to erik @246.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is working on legislation to require future presidential candidates to release the results of an independent physical exam.

    The measure, which isn’t finalized, would mandate the major-party presidential candidates to undergo a physical exam by a Navy doctor and release the results to the public. […]

    the legislation would specifically include a requirement that presidential candidates undergo a mental health exam.

    “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in,” Chaffetz said.

    That led House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to announce, unprompted, at a Capitol news conference that she’d eagerly sign onto Chaffetz’s bill once it’s introduced.

    “I can’t wait until he introduces that legislation, to be able to join him as co-sponsor of that,” Pelosi said this month. “I think it’s a very good idea.” […]

    Link

    Too little, too late?

  217. says

    Some examples of how states can resist Trump’s persecution of immigrants:

    […] at least 12 states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain some form of a driver’s license or permit. Having a driver’s license means that a routine traffic stop for a busted taillight need not lead to deportation; it means access to jobs, health services, and supermarkets. (It also means that people on the roads will have taken a driving test and bought car insurance, so that’s a win for everyone). […]

    Laws regarding agricultural labor […] provide another state-level route to improving the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.

    […] many of the agricultural workers in the United States, three out of four of whom are from Mexico (with about 1 out of every four being undocumented), do not have the same rights as other workers. As with driver’s licenses, our research found that the inclusion of agricultural workers in state minimum wage laws and their eligibility for worker’s compensation were associated with better mental health for Latinos. […]

    There is a moral argument for these policies: Latino immigrants sustain our food system, and it is the rankest hypocrisy to enjoy the fruits of their labor without doing what we can to make sure that they can walk the streets without fear. But if that doesn’t move you, consider the multiple ways in which these legislative changes would improve all of our lives.

    Our research found that an exclusionary policy environment affected everyone’s mental health – not just Latinos. Moreover, millions of American citizen children live in fear of losing a parent to deportation: the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 350,000 babies born are in the United States each year who have one parent who is undocumented. Or if cold cost-benefit is all that moves you, consider the analysis that suggested that passage of New York’s driver’s license bill would produce $57 million in state revenue. […]

    Link

  218. blf says

    In this week’s edition of The Grauniad’s Burst your bubble: five conservative articles to explain who Trump has left (“This week, Trump lost people on the right who had been warming to him and forced a beleaguered band of conservative writers to explain themselves”), there is this doozy of a reader’s comment: The ousting of Michael Flynn was orchestrated by former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes in order to preserve the secret nuclear deal struck with Iran. Flynn was an opponent of that deal. He accused the Obama administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran’s close relationship with al Qaeda. They were desperate to keep the intricacies of the Iran deal hidden from the public.

    Um, yeah, right… geesh!

    In the column itself, one particular essay singled out is The Claremont Review’s The Flight 93 Election (link available at the link), written by Michael Anton (under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus Anton). This guy “was just made deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the United States National Security Council”:

    Why you should read it: Anton is the only one of the deeply weird rightwingers surrounding Trump who has written anything like a manifesto. It’s worth revisiting this effort to get a feel for the mental atmosphere of Trumpland. The pseudonym and the clumsy classical allusions give you a whiff of the crusty Euro-trad dreamworld these guys live in. The hope he has for Trump is, more or less, that he will either restore white supremacy, or blow everything up.

  219. blf says

    Lynna@317, on the State Department’s exclusion, also see @295: Staff is apparently having to ask foreign diplomats to let them know of any pending Wacko House stuff…

  220. says

    blf @320, I approve of the use of the phrase “crusty Euro-trad dreamworld” to describe some of those conservative writers.

    In other news, writing for Vox, Brad Plumer had this to say about Scott Pruitt:

    Of all Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, it’s hard to find anyone who’s more overtly hostile toward the agency he’s been tapped to lead than Scott Pruitt has been toward the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Oklahoma attorney general makes no secret of this; his own bio page calls him “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Over the past six years, Pruitt has filed lawsuit after (mostly unsuccessful) lawsuit to halt EPA rules on mercury pollution from coal plants, to thwart EPA plans to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, to block President Barack Obama’s efforts to tackle climate change — and much, much more.

    Pruitt’s record is so stark that nearly 800 former EPA employees signed on to a letter opposing his confirmation. They highlighted Pruitt’s cozy ties with Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry, his opposition to the federal government regulating air pollution that crosses state lines, his history of downplaying global warming. “Mr. Pruitt’s record,” the letter states, “raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.”

    None of this has been enough to derail Pruitt’s nomination. […] Pruitt will be narrowly confirmed — with support from 51 Senate Republicans and two Democrats (Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp). Democrats tried to delay the vote until after Oklahoma releases Pruitt’s email correspondence with the fossil fuel industry next Tuesday, but they were unsuccessful. […]

    The EPA, an $8 billion agency with 15,000 employees, is tasked with enforcing laws on everything from air pollution to chemical safety. […] The EPA is also currently the key US agency dealing with climate change. […]

    Rewrite and weaken some of Obama’s EPA rules. […] He [Pruitt] could redo the EPA’s “Waters of the US” rule so that the Clean Water Act applied to fewer streams and wetlands.

    Pruitt could delay the introduction of additional climate rules indefinitely.

    Scale back enforcement of existing regulations. […]

    Give more deference to the states. Many US pollution rules are developed by the EPA but implemented by state agencies […]

    Change the way the EPA uses science. […]

    Push to shrink the EPA’s budget. […]

    If his EPA starts missing statutory deadlines, or sidesteps rulemaking procedures, or issues rules wildly out of step with what the Clean Air Act requires, he’ll be stopped in court. America’s environmental laws are unique in offering ample opportunity for outside groups to sue, and green groups like the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council are deft in using this to their advantage […]

    Sounds like more court time for team Trump.

  221. says

    Lynna @ 318 –

    I have concerns. Could Rethuglicans use this try and block a nomination in the future because a candidate has some health issue that would in no way affect their ability to perform their duties of POTUS? I can easily see them using it nefariously. So the wording would have to be very careful and explicitly lay out the things that could rule a candidate out.

    Most candidates are over 50-60 years old. Who wouldn’t have at least some health issues?

    And as far as “too little too late?” – They could make it retroactive!

  222. says

    From Trump’s batshit crazy press conference yesterday:

    To be honest, I inherited a mess — it’s a mess — at home and abroad. A mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places — low-pay, low-wages. Mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East, a disaster. North Korea — we’ll take care of it, folks. We’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know I inherited a mess.

    From Stephen Colbert:

    […] No, you inherited a fortune. We elected a mess. […]

    http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/p_bqYFEf5i_yTQeN2a3uFckwRoKemuct/the-late-show-2-16-2017-sally-field-maggie-siff-lady-antebellum-/

  223. blf says

    And yet more on the State Department and NSC being sidelined, Trump’s updated travel ban to have minimal input from national security (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Goal of new order is to bolster original initiative against legal and constitutional scrutiny, rather than revise it in a substantive fashion, say sources

    Donald Trump’s controversial executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries is being tightened up to get around legal and constitutional objections with minimal input from the National Security Council, the Guardian has learned.

    White House policy director Stephen Miller is at the helm as the process for refugee and immigration policy is going through the domestic policy council, which does not include most of the government’s foreign policy or security-related agencies.

    […]

    The process means domestic political concerns are given greater priority and consideration of their national security impact is marginalized in spite of the impact on US relations with much of the world.

    Observers consider the NSC’s diminished role symptomatic of Trump’s approach to governance and expressed alarm that Trump has not corrected course.

    […]

    Though sources cautioned that deliberations on the new order are fluid and ongoing, the initial discussions of the imminent order contradict the justice department’s promise to the ninth circuit court of appeals of a “substantially revised executive order”.

    […]

    Officials working on the next order have signaled their intent to make a stronger case for why the ban needs to apply to the seven countries. That intent stems from an attempt to overcome mounting legal scrutiny and make the order seem both less arbitrary in its particulars and something other than a “Muslim ban” in its effect.

    Officials are also belatedly examining refugee screening procedures worldwide, both as they existed under Barack Obama and currently.

    […]

    Some see the reduced role of the National Security Council over the issue as a contributing factor behind the haste in the order’s drafting and the international blowback it has received.

    “If an action is taken domestically that has an international consequence, it should be flowed through the NSC. By not doing so, you end up exactly where you did the last time, with the alienation of allies in Europe and the Islamic world,” said David Rothkopf, author of a history of the NSC, who considered the NSC’s diminishing relevance a sign that “a small clique of loyalists” dominate Trump’s policymaking process.

    […]

    White House strategy chief Steve Bannon […] runs another internal group within the White House. It is called the Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG), and is considered a rival power center, one that has left current and former officials wondering where the true policy-making authority for vital security challenges lies. At one point SIG was listed on an internal White House organization chart as connected by a parallel line to the NSC.

    […]

    Rothkopf added: “The NSC is being marginalized in favor of Bannon, {Trump son-in-law Jared} Kushner, the SIG, et cetera, and in favor of a handful of domestic policy advisers.”

    […]

    Whilst excerpting this article, a thought occurred to me: Creating panels of “yes men” or chummy advisors reporting to the CEO is a tactic not-unknown in companies, used to give the appearance of “doing something”. There is a whiff of that about the SIG.

  224. says

    Trump Winery is asking for permission to hire more foreign workers.

    The Trump Winery, also known as Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC, is asking to bring in 23 workers this spring to plant and harvest grapes. The workers are being sought under the federal H-2 visa program, which permits American employers to hire foreign laborers under temporary work visas as long as no qualified U.S. workers want the jobs. The job on the 1,300-acre estate could run through late October.

    The latest request is in addition to six workers the winery sought in December. The jobs will pay $11.27 an hour and require workers to labor outside in weather as cold as 10 degrees while “on their feet in bent positions for long periods of time,” according to the job posting. […]

    The quoted text is from BuzzFeed News.

  225. says

    Goal of new order is to bolster original initiative against legal and constitutional scrutiny, rather than revise it in a substantive fashion, say sources

    …But the appeals judges explicitly pointed to the fact that they’d presented no national security rationale for the ban as a problem, so…

  226. says

    Pruitt has been confirmed. The vote was 52-46. Senators Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp are the Democrats that voted for Pruitt. Senator Susan Collins was the only Republican to vote against him.

    Manchin and Heitkamp are from energy-producing states. Not that that excuses voting for an unethical man like Pruitt.

  227. says

    Here’s another thing Flynn did while Obama was still president. Flynn reportedly called ambassadors from countries on the Security Council and asked them to vote against the resolution to condemn Israel for its construction of settlements.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/17/logan-trump-israel-flynn-pressured-u-n-on-israel-vote-before-taking-office/

    Nearly a month before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Michael Flynn, his national security advisor designate, and other members of the president’s transition team launched a vigorous diplomatic bid to head off a U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements.

    The effort represented a fitful first foray into global diplomacy by Trump’s transition team, bearing hallmarks that have become familiar in the weeks since he took office. Their efforts were marked by a brusque disregard for diplomatic protocol, and a hasty pressure campaign that changed few, if any, minds. […]

  228. says

    Elijah Cummings last night told Chris Hayes that there was a Republican in the House who agreed with him that there was a need for an independent commission to investigate Russian interference and ties to the Trump campaign. It’s Walter Jones of NC:

    U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, from eastern North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, became the first Republican member of the House of Representatives this week to support a proposed independent citizen commission to look into alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election and any ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

    Democrats leading the call for the special commission announced Friday that Jones is a co-sponsor to the bill titled “Protecting Our Democracy Act.” If approved, the legislation would create a bipartisan-appointed commission similar to the one Congress authorized after the September 2001 terror attacks….

  229. says

    Ah, yes, of course it is like this. Republicans plan to give wealthy people extra help when it comes to buying healthcare insurance:

    Republican leadership on Thursday released a 19-page outline of how the party would like to replace Obamacare — including one change that sounds wonky but is a really huge deal.

    Both Obamacare and the Republican replacement plans provide tax credits to help make insurance more affordable. But while Obamacare’s credits are based on income, meaning poorer people get more help, the Republican plan would base them on age. The result would be regressive: Wealthy people would get more help buying insurance, while poor people would likely get less assistance. […]

    Vox link

  230. says

    SC @ 336 – This actually jives with some rumblings I’ve heard lately that Murdoch and the Koch brothers are planning to make moves to bring Trump down. They want a Pence administration, which puts us liberals in the odd position of actually rooting for Murdoch and Koch Bros?

    Sorry I can’t seem to find my source for the above but I’ve read at least 2 articles about it in the past 2 weeks.

  231. says

    SC @339, Yeah. Because Trump is actually taking himself down, so they have to come up with an alternative explanation. (Noting also your earlier poll result reporting in which Trump has slipped again. He is now down to 39% approval rating.)

  232. says

    So we got rid of Puzder. Now we have to deal with Alex Acosta, Trump’ pick for secretary of labor.

    From a McClatchy report that is about ten years old:

    Four days before the 2004 election, the Justice Department’s civil rights chief sent an unusual letter to a federal judge in Ohio who was weighing whether to let Republicans challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African-American voters.

    The case was triggered by allegations that Republicans had sent a mass mailing to mostly Democratic-leaning minorities and used undeliverable letters to compile a list of voters potentially vulnerable to eligibility challenges.

    In his letter to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott of Cincinnati, Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta argued that it would “undermine” the enforcement of state and federal election laws if citizens could not challenge voters’ credentials.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] At issue was a “vote-caging” scheme, launched by Ohio Republicans trying to boost the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. […]

    The former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section who served under Acosta, described Acosta’s move at the time as “outrageous,” said the attorney’s letter amounted to “cheerleading for the Republican defendants.”

    The Bush/Cheney administration, which had a habit of evaluating Justice Department officials based on their partisan loyalties, later gave Acosta a promotion.

    What’s more, The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer reported yesterday on another key aspect of Acosta’s DOJ background.

    R. Alexander Acosta … was the head of the civil-rights division of the Department of Justice in the Bush administration during a period in which his subordinates became embroiled in a scandal over politicized hiring. That scandal raises questions about Acosta’s ability to effectively manage a much larger federal agency in an administration that has already shown a tendency to skirt ethics rules.

    “That period, all hell broke in the civil rights division,” said William Yeomans, a professor of law at American University and a former deputy section chief in the division under Acosta. “That was all under Acosta, he presided over the politicization of the civil-rights division.”

    […] Acosta ultimately told investigators he was unaware of what was happening at the time. A report from the DOJ’s Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility didn’t hold Acosta personally responsible for the alleged crimes, but the report said Acosta “took no action” against those guilty of wrongdoing, despite warnings. […]

  233. says

    ICE agents are altering the statements of people they detain:

    […] According to the brief filed by Ramirez’s lawyers, he originally wrote: “I came in and the officers said I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.” But ICE agents allegedly eliminated the first phrase so the statement instead begins: “I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform…” […]

    Link

  234. says

    Trump: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

    (He deleted the first tweet to add ABC and CBS, but somehow forgot WaPo, where the most damaging reports are coming from.)

  235. blf says

    Goal of new order is to bolster original initiative against legal and constitutional scrutiny, rather than revise it in a substantive fashion, say sources

    …But the appeals judges explicitly pointed to the fact that they’d presented no national security rationale for the ban as a problem, so…

    Yep… As the excerpt in @326 pointed out, “the initial discussions of the imminent order contradict the justice department’s promise to the ninth circuit court of appeals of a ‘substantially revised executive order’.”.

  236. says

    Members of the Senate intelligence Committee were tight-lipped leaving the 2-hour-long Comey briefing:

    …The FBI director’s visit was not announced publicly, and it’s possible members of the Capitol Hill press corps only found out because he was spotted in the hallways and entered a secure room used for intelligence briefings.

    But leaving that secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center, senators declined to even confirm the presence of the FBI director, much less the substance of the meeting. Those who did talk generally only gave “no comments” or referred questions to Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr and ranking member Mark Warner.

    Both Burr and Warner proved just as loquacious.

    “I think we made our non-statement statement,” Warner told reporters after repeated questions about the briefing.

    “I won’t talk about it at all,” said Burr.

  237. says

    Yep… As the excerpt in @326 pointed out, “the initial discussions of the imminent order contradict the justice department’s promise to the ninth circuit court of appeals of a ‘substantially revised executive order’.”.

    Yes. I should have quoted more, though – I was also responding to the title/thrust of the article: “Trump’s updated travel ban to have minimal input from national security.” I don’t see how they can “bolster [the] original initiative against legal and constitutional scrutiny” with minimal input from the security people when the lack of a security rationale for the nature of the ban was one of the problems the court(s) raised. (Not that I believe the security experts could really provide them with a useful rationale, since it wasn’t security-driven to begin with.)

  238. A. Noyd says

    microraptor (#346)

    Trump is utterly incomprehensible in English. I fail to see the issue.

    The issue is that if translators make our Scum-Sucking Fuckwit in Chief sound like a self-obsessed four-year-old who missed his last nap to go huff paint, people who don’t understand English or the current state of American politics will think it’s incompetence on the part of the translator, not an accurate representation how the man talks.

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

    microraptor @356,

    mmm, scones. Though it seems like far too much work to make them at home.

  240. says

    Trolls:

    …Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence committee, did not answer questions about the focus of the Comey briefing Friday. But he did talk about the extent of the investigation he is building with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr.

    “What we are trying to do — and I give Richard (Burr) a lot of credit — is to not have this devolve into a partisan food fight that doesn’t serve the public purpose. This is so important that we get it right,” Warner said. “But the amount of manipulation, why there’s not more outrage about the fact there were close to 1,000 Russian internet trolls, actual people, working trying to manipulate our news.”

    Warner also said the committee has put in place a process to ensure the White House does not destroy documents lawmakers need for their investigation.

  241. says

    David Frum, in response to the enemies-of-the-people tweet: “Hard to read this twice posted tweet other than as incitement to vigilante violence.”

    It’s difficult to overstate the extent to which Trump doesn’t care. There’s a reason his attempts at politeness come across as unctuous and phony – because they are. He’s playing a role, unconvincingly. I wrote about it before the first debate. He deprived a sick baby – a relative – of health coverage out of revenge. He’s not capable of compassion or concern for anyone victimized by someone incited to violence by his words. He does not care. He is truly dangerous.

  242. militantagnostic says

    In an article in New Republic an Infectious Disease specialist speculates that Trump may have neurosyphilis.

    Arguments against:
    Someone as wealthy as Trump would usually have very good medical care, so it should have been detected and treated at the primary or secondary stage.
    Trump has always been an entitled asshole.

    Arguments in favor:
    Trump’s current physician is a quack.
    Being a successful asshole usually requires maintaining a facade of decency. Trump isn’t even trying to maintain a facade anymore.
    There is no reason Trump can’t be a career asshole and have syphilis.

  243. says

    SC @363, that “enemy of the people” phrase comes off as so Russian and/or tyrannical. You were right to point out earlier that Trump left the Washington Post off his enemies list. Trump can’t even put together an accurate enemies list.

    From Tom Malinowski:

    As an American diplomat, I stood up to petty tyrants who call journalists “enemies of the people.” Guess that’s not our policy any more.

  244. says

    Trump’s lies have consequences. There are consequences beyond making himself look like bumbling dolt.

    Trump continues to repeat the lie that three to five million illegal ballots were cast in the recent election, and that they were all cast for Hillary Clinton.

    […] The allegation is false, and no number of investigations or committees will be able to substantiate Trump’s claim.

    But that doesn’t mean that the lie won’t have consequences.[…]

    At the annual gathering of secretaries of state in Washington, D.C. this week, Republican elections chiefs blocked an attempt to official denounce Trump’s lie. Instead, they cited the president’s claims, telling ThinkProgress they support measures like voter ID laws, cuts to same-day registration, and efforts to make it harder to register to vote.

    Alabama’s Republican Secretary of State repeated the White House’s unsubstantiated claim that thousands of out-of-state citizens cast ballots in New Hampshire, potentially handing the state to Hillary Clinton. New Hampshire’s Secretary of State defended his state’s voter accessibility while his legislature pushes for a measure that would potentially block thousands of college students from casting ballots. And Nevada’s Secretary of State said she supports voter ID laws because she has never had a problem showing an ID to vote. […]

    Voter suppression laws do not prevent voter fraud, but they do prevent a disproportionately large share of Democratic-leaning voters from casting ballots, helping Republicans to win elections. […]

    Already this year, at least 12 states are pushing for restrictive voter ID laws. In Arkansas and North Dakota, bills have already passed in their state houses, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. While most proposals have come out of the legislatures, Iowa’s Secretary of State himself proposed a plan to implement voter ID. […]

    Near the end of this article, journalist Kira Lerner, writing for Think Progress, summarizes the positive actions taken by Democrats.

  245. says

    A leaked tape reveals that, while he was meeting potential Cabinet nominees, Trump invited members of his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to join in:

    We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything. You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.

    We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State. We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along. […]

    We were just talking about who we [are] going to pick for the FCC, who [are] we going to pick for this, who we gonna accept — boy, can you give me some recommendations?

    Politico link

    Maybe this is a window into the emotional need Trump has to return to Mar-a-Lago so often, and to display the prime minister of another country on the terrace of his restaurant.

    […] Tom Bennison, a frequent Trump golf partner from Dallas, said Trump is “most comfortable when he’s at one of his clubs. He’s very proud of the assets he owns, especially these clubs. He’s very relaxed. He goes out of his way to make everybody feel special and to make a lot of people feel much, much bigger than they really are.”

    In the audio from the Bedminster soiree, Trump gives a shout-out to a club manager, whom he identifies as “Mickey,” for being “great. He’s central casting.”

    The compliments of the guests, however, don’t come for free. Part of the appeal, for Trump, is that they’re all paying him. Last weekend, after delivering a joint statement on North Korea with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump stopped by a wedding at the club.

    “They’ve been members of this club for a long time,” Trump said, referring to the bride’s family. “They’ve paid me a fortune.” Since his election, Mar-a-Lago has reportedly doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.

    And the fact that the club family doesn’t come for free is a running rib. At the party at Bedminster, Trump nudged his new chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to speak to the crowd. “These members are loaded, Reince,” he said. “He will work the room for campaign contributions. Don’t quote me!”

  246. says

    During his recent press conference, Trump claimed “I inherited a mess […]”. Lots of people took the time to show with statistics, with graphs, etc. that Trump did not inherit a mess.

    Today, Trump is doubling down on the lie. He must like this lie a lot:

    Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.

  247. tomh says

    In response to the credulous op-ed in the Washington Post
    “John McCain just systematically dismantled Donald Trump’s entire worldview,” there’s a more accurate view from Alex Pareene at the Concourse, “I Don’t Want To Hear Another Fucking Word About John McCain Unless He Dies Or Actually Does Something Useful For Once”. McCain has supported every one of Trump’s nominees besides one: budget director Mick Mulvaney, who lost McCain’s support because he has supported defense budget cuts, yet somehow he is “once again positioning himself, to credulous journalists, as a renegade Republican who isn’t afraid to buck his party, despite his three-decade record of not ever actually bucking his party in any meaningful way.”

    I am so sick of McCain as a “maverick.”

  248. says

    During his recent press conference, Trump claimed “I inherited a mess […]”. Lots of people took the time to show with statistics, with graphs, etc. that Trump did not inherit a mess.

    I’ve seen a number of anti-Trump Republicans suggesting that Trump is just picking up Obama’s bogus claim that he inherited a mess. Anyone unable to acknowledge that Obama actually inherited a mess can’t speak about this credibly.

  249. says

    I am so sick of McCain as a “maverick.”

    I’m most baffled by McCain. He’s 80. He’s military. This is really the shameful way he wants to close out his political life? The best explanation I can come up with is that he’s an “organization man” in the sense that he couldn’t function, couldn’t envision himself, outside of an organization like the military or the Republican Party. I don’t know.

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

    Lynna,

    Don’t forget that McCain was the one who thought that Sarah Palin would make a dandy VP.

  251. says

    To remind us of who/what Mike Pence is:

    “The Bible tells us that God created man in His own image, male and female; He created them,” Pence has said. “And I believe that God created the known universe, the Earth, and everything in it including man, and I also believe that some day, scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides an even remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

    Pence also argued that evolution should not be taught in schools without a parallel commentary of Biblical explanations as being equally valid […].

    Link

  252. says

    Another story of people escaping the USA to seek asylum in Canada:

    Eight asylum-seekers fled U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents at the border with Canada on Friday, running straight to Canadian authorities on the other side who helped them scramble across.

    At least one of the asylum-seekers was carrying a Sudanese passport, according to Reuters. The incident reportedly occurred after U.S. customs agents began to question a man in the front seat of a taxi on the border in Champlain, New York. The U.S. authorities had already seized the passports of the taxi’s passengers when seven of the refugees made a run for it, climbing over mounds of snow as Canadian authorities helped them across.

    One man who stayed behind with the U.S. border control agents then told journalists at the scene that he and the others were from Sudan and had been working in the U.S. for two years, adding that “nobody cares about us.”

    He threw several large pieces of luggage into the snow along the border before running away from U.S. authorities and making his way onto Canadian territory, leaving one U.S. officer shouting at him from behind. The officer reportedly told the Canadian side that the man would have been detained for being in the U.S. illegally.

    The dramatic spectacle played out as President Donald Trump pushes authorities to crack down on illegal immigrants, with raids reported in various cities across the country in recent days. […]

    There’s a good photo of Canadian officials smiling and helping the children in the group to safety as they struggle to cross a snowbank.

  253. says

    I enjoyed reading this article by Joy Reid, It’s Not Too Early to Ask: Are Even the Russians Turning on Trump? Excerpt below:

    Watching Donald Trump’s bizarre 77-minute press conference this week, in which the reality show crank who is also President of the United States rambled and whined, declared he’d be the media’s “biggest fan” if we’d just do nice stories about him; shut down a Jewish reporter for “insulting” him with a perfectly reasonable question about the uptick in anti-Semitism around the country; and presumed that an African-American reporter, April Ryan, could set up a meeting between him and the Congressional Black Caucus because … well … she’s black; it occurred to me: what must this spectacle look like from Moscow?

    After all, Trump’s utility to the Russians has never been in his wackiness. It’s been in the potential for him to deliver, as President, a different U.S. foreign policy; one that de-emphasizes the traditional Western alliances and frees Russia to operate in the European theater as it pleases, with lifted sanctions and a few lucrative bilateral oil deals to boot.

    But Trump as President hasn’t shown any inkling of the kind of competence or political skill—or the political capital—to do any of that. […]

    The Trump administration—a claque of former “ironic” California high school racists, Pepe-the-fascist bloggers and neo-Crusader race conspiracists—plus Trump’s blank-staring son-in-law (when he’s not trying to buy the Miami Marlins) and a couple of beleaguered veterans of the RNC—has proven itself to be as bungling as it is malevolent.

    None of Team Trump’s “shock and awe” Big Ideas have been executed without extreme folly; not the “totally not Muslim” travel ban, not the immigration raids, and not the wall Mexico won’t pay for. And for Russia, that can’t be good news, unless what they truly wanted from a President Trump was sheer American chaos, not policy change. […]

  254. says

    When Trump talks about “fake news,” he is talking about a subject he knows quite well. (Of course, in public he gets the “fake news” issue completely backwards.) Trump creates fake news. And he orders others to create fake news.

    As the White House staff tries to put together a budget for President Donald Trump, they face a fundamental problem. Trump has promised to cut taxes, increase spending on the military and infrastructure, and avoid cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The only way to do that without producing an exploding budget deficit is to assume a big increase in economic growth.

    And Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump is planning to do just that — by making things up.

    […] Timiraos reveals that “what’s unusual about the administration’s forecasts isn’t just their relative optimism but also the process by which they were derived.” Specifically, what’s unusual about them is that they weren’t derived by any process at all. Instead of letting economists build a forecast, Trump’s budget was put together with “transition officials telling the CEA staff the growth targets that their budget would produce and asking them to backfill other estimates off those figures.”

    Staff has been ordered to project that inflation-adjusted growth will average between 3 and 3.5 percent over the next decade, eventually settling at around 3.2 percent. […]

    It’s customary for the White House to produce a budget forecast that is a bit rosier than what Congress, the Federal Reserve, or private sector forecasts generate. It’s unusually for it to be so wildly at odds with the consensus.

    That’s in part because most presidents lack Trump’s shamelessness. Another part is that most presidents would worry that if you order CEA staff to make up fake numbers, they will leak that to the Wall Street Journal. […]

    http://www.vox.com/2017/2/17/14651208/trump-budget-forecast

  255. says

    Writing for Vox, Zeeshan Aleem explains that No, Hillary Clinton did not “give Russia 20 percent of the uranium” in the US.

    What Trump said:

    […] We had Hillary Clinton try to do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things.

    But nobody talks about that. I did not do anything for Russia. I’ve done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?

    Aleem explains:

    […] the claim that Clinton gave 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia is incorrect and clearly misleading. Trump is referring to Russia’s nuclear power agency purchasing a majority stake in a Toronto-based energy company between 2009 and 2013. The company had mines and land in a number of US states with huge uranium production capacity — a move the US State Department signed off on. […]

    The mines, mills, and land the company holds in the US account for 20 percent of the US’s uranium production capacity, not actual produced uranium.

    The State Department was one of nine federal agencies and a number of additional independent federal and state regulators that signed off on the deal.

    President Obama, not Secretary Clinton, was the only person who could’ve vetoed the deal.

    Since Russia doesn’t have the legal right to export uranium out of the US, its main goal was likely to gain access to the company’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan.

    Crucially, the main national security concern was not about nuclear weapons proliferation, as Trump suggests, but actually ensuring the US doesn’t have to depend too much on uranium sources from abroad, as the US only makes about 20 percent of the uranium it needs. […]

    [Trump’s] misleading comments are in service of a broader goal: to push back against the notion that he’s at Vladimir Putin’s beck and call. […]

  256. says

    Oh, my goodness, and my stars! Those Republican politicians in Utah who are also staunch mormons are really something special. This is an excerpt from an editorial written by James Green, the vice chairman of the Wasatch County GOP:

    If businesses are forced to pay women the same as male earnings, that means they will have to reduce the pay for the men they employ… simple economics. If that happens, then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.

    And as even more women thus enter the workforce that creates more competition for jobs (even men’s jobs) and puts further downward pressure on the pay for all jobs… meaning more and more Mothers will be forced into the workforce. And that is bad for families and thus for all of society.

    Green was responding to a bill which will be voted on soon in Utah’s legislature, Senate Bill 210. The bill

    – requires certain employers in the state to adopt and disclose to each employee uniform criteria that the employer uses to determine whether to change an employee’s compensation or benefits based on the employee’s performance

    – instructs the Department of Workforce Services to conduct a study on whether there is a difference in pay between men and women in the state

    – provides that the Department of Workforce Services shall create and maintain a pay index for certain occupations that states the average pay range in the state for each occupation based on years of experience in the occupation

    No wonder people often joke that Utah’s mormons are stuck in 1957.

  257. says

    “U.S. inquiries into Russian election hacking include three FBI probes”:

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is pursuing at least three separate probes relating to alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential elections, according to five current and former government officials with direct knowledge of the situation.

    The FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, which runs many cyber security investigations, is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems, the officials said….

    Meanwhile the bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who called themselves “Guccifer 2” and posted emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account, the sources said….

    Beyond the two FBI field offices, FBI counterintelligence agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts, two of the people said.

    This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said.

    The people who spoke to Reuters also corroborated a Tuesday New York Times report that Americans with ties to Trump or his campaign had repeated contacts with current and former Russian intelligence officers before the November election. Those alleged contacts are among the topics of the FBI counterintelligence investigation.

  258. says

    “White House dismisses NSC aide after harsh criticism of Trump”:

    The White House abruptly dismissed a senior National Security Council aide on Friday after receiving reports that he had publicly laced into the president and his senior aides, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump at an event hosted by a Washington think tank.

    The aide, Craig Deare, was serving as the NSC’s senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Earlier in the week, at a private, off-the-record roundtable hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for a group of about two dozen scholars, Deare harshly criticized the president and his chief strategist Steve Bannon and railed against the dysfunction paralyzing the Trump White House, according to a source familiar with the situation….

    I don’t know if this has been confirmed by anyone else.

  259. says

    “Dutch populist Geert Wilders calls some Moroccans ‘scum'”:

    Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders has launched his election campaign by calling some Moroccans “scum”.

    Mr Wilders tops opinion polls ahead of the 15 March parliamentary vote, but has seen his lead reduced in recent weeks.

    He has vowed to ban Muslim immigration and shut mosques if he wins.

    His latest comments come two months after he was convicted in a hate speech trial over his promise to reduce the number of Moroccans in the country.

    Mr Wilders addressed his supporters on Saturday amid tight security in his party’s stronghold of Spijkenisse, an ethnically-diverse area near Rotterdam.

    “There is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe,” he said. “If you want to regain your country, make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands again, then you can only vote for one party.”

    He emphasised that he thought “not all are scum”.

    Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party holds 12 of the 150 seats in the lower house of Parliament. But his nearest rival, right-wing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has narrowed the lead with just a month until the election is held.

    The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, said Mr Wilders’ championing of US President Donald Trump’s policies appears to be backfiring, as many Dutch voters believe Mr Trump is bad for global stability.

    Even if Mr Wilders wins, he may struggle to put together a coalition, as leading parties have said they would not work with him….

  260. says

    Detailed story on what ericthebassist noted @ #300 above:

    “China violated its own law to grant Trump a trademark: China’s Valentine’s Day present to Trump could put him in legal jeopardy.”

    (I can’t get over the ranting letter Trump sent to the Obama administration in 2011, saying China is a “deceitful culture” and that their “entire system is faithless, corrupt, and tainted.” Every new piece of information about him shows him to be worse.)

  261. says

    According to my interpretation of details in an article by Nicholas Schmidle, writing for The New Yorker, Michael Flynn may not have been fired properly. That is, the Trump team may have violated procedures for “reading out” a person who was previously privy to classified information. Emphasis is mine.

    […] Flynn went about his duties as usual that afternoon, participating in foreign-policy discussions in the Oval Office, an Administration official told me.

    But, that evening, another Post article appeared online, this time about the Justice Department’s blackmail fears. Soon afterward, Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation. The news broke just before eleven.

    Since the election, Flynn had been “read in” to dozens of “special access programs,” the country’s most highly classified intelligence operations. By protocol, he would have spent his final moments in the White House being “read out” of each program, a process that involves signing multiple confidentiality forms. At around 11:30 p.m., he walked out of the White House and called his wife. […]

    It sounds to me like the White House did not take enough time to “read out” Flynn before he left.

  262. says

    The corruption is just so brazen at this point – “Trump’s Presidency ‘Enhances’ a $200,000 Mar-a-Lago Membership”:

    The managing director of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida says that Trump’s presidency now “enhances” membership at the private Palm Beach club, and that “people are now even more interested” in joining as a result…. The club has subsequently become a place where the rich and powerful can pay the president’s private company to have private access to the president, his family, and his advisors — though the White House denies that’s what happening.

    Even following the Times report, it’s still not clear how extreme the vetting of Mar-a-Lago members and their guests is — if there is any vetting beyond Secret Service checks — in relation to these people’s extraordinary level of access to the president. Though most of the club’s more than 500 members joined before Trump began his presidential campaign, that doesn’t mean that they don’t stand to benefit from their proximity to the new president. And while most American presidents have regularly hobnobbed with the rich and powerful, often in private, Trump is the first one that gets paid for the privilege, since he has refused to divest himself from his family business while running the country.

    Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks insists that Trump “has not and will not be discussing policy with club members,” but some members report that Trump has been doing exactly that. Real estate developer Bruce Toll of Toll Brothers told the Times that Trump has indeed been talking shop with guests and soliciting their advice, and developer Richard LeFrak said that Trump casually asked him last weekend if he would consider taking the job of building the border wall Trump has promised to erect along the southern U.S. border. (LeFrak is apparently not interested.)

    Hicks also boasted that Mar-a-Lago was “one of the most successful private clubs in the world” and added that “the president looks forward to hosting many world leaders at this remarkable property.” The president’s son Eric, meanwhile, said that concerns about the Trump family profiting from presidential access were inappropriate since the club admits no more than 40 new members a year, and because wealthy executives already have plenty of other ways to engage with the federal government….

  263. says

    Trump is blathering on and on in a rally in Florida. I watched for a few minutes, but for the sake of my mental health, I have to stop now.

    You may already know what he has to say anyway: So far we’ve had a “dishonest media” rant, and we’ve been subjected to several ways of bragging about the size of the crowd, including, “This hanger is for the big planes!” Trump made delusional claims about polls and his popularity; he elaborated in case we didn’t get it the first time.

    There are a fuckton of “Blacks for Trump 2020” signs in the crowd, and most of them are held aloft by white people. Salon’s article on the totally off-the-rails “Blacks for Trump” group.

    In other news, Trump blocked Sally Yates from following and viewing tweets from @realDonaldTrump.

  264. says

    We all have our little synapse misfires or whatever that prevent us from getting certain things right. I almost always think/say “calf” when I mean to refer to “shin,” for example. Joy Reid can’t pronounce Betsy DeVos’ name.

  265. says

    Breaking: Survivors of Bowling Green Massacre to go to Sweden in Show of Support

    This morning the survivors of the Bowling Green massacre announced they will be journeying to Sweden to show support for what is happening in that country. The trip came together quickly, soon after the president highlighted the terror that is occurring in Sweden because of their immigration policies. It was for the Bowling Green group nothing less than a call to arms to help and support their Swedish brothers and sisters in their hours of need.

    “The parallels between the Bowling Green massacre and the terror in Sweden are extraordinary,” said one member of the Bowling Green group.

    “I feel as the terror victims of Sweden and I exist in the same small universe,” said another.

    The group expects to be welcomed by the Swedish government. “I have contacted them and they said we could get together and smoke a little something,” said the leader of the group. “An activity that I hope will bring us together in important ways. We share so much, we are in many ways the only ones who can understand each other.” […]

  266. blf says

    There are some great snarks in Sweden, who would believe this?: Trump cites non-existent terror attack (“At Florida rally president refers to attack in Sweden that did not happen, possibly confusing it with Sehwan in Pakistan”), but I particularly like the one at the end: “Another Twitter user posted a picture of famous Swedish export Abba, writing: ‘Four extremists responsible for #swedenincident are still at large, if you see these people phone @realDonaldTrump at once’.”

  267. says

    Trump got his fake news about Sweden from Fox News:

    […] Though the Swedish Bowling Green Massacre did not happen Friday night, one thing that did happen that evening is Fox News’ Tucker Carlson aired an interview with Fox personality and filmmaker Ami Horowitz, whose most recent documentary film claims that Muslim refugees committed crimes after arriving in Sweden.

    It appears that the President of the United States may have watched this Fox segment and mistakenly believed that he was watching a live report on a specific incident that occurred Friday evening.

    Think Progress link

  268. says

    People within the Trump team occasionally disagree with Trump, but I fear that these attempts to acknowledge reality will have no effect at all on Trump.

    […] At a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Mattis doubled down on his comments about Russia’s meddling in elections — striking a different tone than the commander-in-chief.

    “There’s very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies,” Mattis said when asked about Russian interference in the U.S. election.

    By contrast, Trump tweeted Thursday that “the Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!” […]

    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/320171-mattis-on-rise-in-trump-administration

    Mike Pence falls into this category as well:
    http://globalnews.ca/news/3259309/european-mike-pence-differ-donald-trump/

  269. blf says

    Insurance companies take the lead on Obamacare replacement ideas:

    As Republicans struggle to unify around a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, insurance executives appear to have found a friendly ear for their demands

    […]

    As Republicans struggle to unify around a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and at the same time attempt to keep insurance companies in state marketplaces, health insurance executives appear to have found a friendly ear for their demands for change.

    The most striking inclusion of industry ideas in policy appeared this week, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a draft rule that could dramatically affect individuals who buy insurance on state marketplaces.

    Proposed changes would shorten the window to enroll in coverage from three months to six weeks, increase out-of-pocket costs to consumers and give regulatory authority for health plans to states — all proposals that insurance companies have called for since Donald Trump’s inauguration.

    The public has just 20 days to comment on the draft rule change — rather than the usual 30. That is despite HHS officials’ findings that the proposed changes “could reduce the value of coverage for consumers, which could lead to more consumers facing increases in out-of-pocket expenses, thus increasing their exposure to financial risks associated with high medical costs”.

    […]

    “[The rule changes] are very much directed toward segmenting the risk pool, segmenting the cost of the healthy from the cost of the sick,” said [insurance policy expert at the Urban Institute, Linda] Blumberg. “This has always been the way insurers most profit. They will make much more money doing that than they will by managing the medical care of a broad diverse population.”

    […]

    The proposed rule was released just nine days after executives of Blue Cross Blue Shield met administration officials, when a list of actions needed to stabilize the private health insurance market was distributed. Many of those same actions appeared in a Blue Cross Blue Shield policy document from 30 January, titled “Moving forward: a health insurance market for 2017 and beyond”.

    The proposed rule, if approved by the department now headed by the vehement Obamacare critic Tom Price, would have a tangible impact on when individuals can buy health insurance, and what they get when they do.

    “The biggest issue, and what’s most important for people to know, is this rule does nothing to help people get coverage or afford care,” said Lydia Mitts, associate director at Families USA […]. “This is not a rule that puts consumers first — this is just giving insurers a wishlist of what they want, making it harder for people to get the coverage they need.”

    […]

  270. says

    SC @407, good for them. From your link:

    In the letter addressed to Trump and obtained by NBC News on Wednesday, the 10 members — approximately two-thirds of the commission — stated their objection to the president’s “portrayal of immigrants, refugees, people of color and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening, and a drain on our nation.”

  271. says

    blf @410, not only do insurance companies get what they want, but Republican legislators get someone else to do the hard work of writing a bill. This is bad, and it will get worse.

    In other news, here is an excerpt from Trump’s rally in Melbourne, Florida:

    […] I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news. The dishonest media which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them, they make them up in many cases, they just don’t want to report the truth and they’ve been calling us wrong now for two years.

    They don’t get it. By they’re starting to get it. I can tell you that. They’ve become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents fought with the media and called them out often times on their lies. When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that. They don’t get away with it.

    They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said, “nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” “Truth itself,” he said, “becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle,” that was June 14, my birthday, 1807. But despite all their lies, misrepresentations, and false stories, they could not defeat us in the primaries, and they could not defeat us in the general election, and we will continue to expose them for what they are, and most importantly, we will continue to win, win, win.

    We are not going to let the fake news tell us what to do, how to live, or what to believe. We are free and independent people and we will make our own choices.

    We are here today to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I hear your demands, I hear your voices and I promise you I will deliver. I promise that. And by the way, you’ve seen what we’ve accomplished in a very short period of time. The White House is running so smoothly. So smoothly. And believe me, I and we inherited one big mess. That I can tell you, but I know that you want safe neighborhoods where the streets belong to families and communities, not gang members and drug dealers who are right now as I speak being thrown out of the country and they will not be let back in. […]

    http://www.vox.com/2017/2/18/14659952/trump-transcript-rally-melbourne-florida

  272. blf says

    Populist correctness: the new PC culture of Trump’s America and Brexit Britain:

    Rightwing snowflakes are offended by everything from Kermit to holiday greetings and Starbucks cups

    [… A] new sort of PC culture has risen. You could call it populist correctness: a virulent policing of language and stifling of debate that is rapidly and perniciously insinuating itself into daily life in Trump’s America and Brexit Britain.

    Populist correctness is the smearing and silencing of points of view by labelling them elitist — and therefore at odds with the will of the people and the good of the country. […]

    [… T]he cunning thing about populist correctness is the way it dresses dogma up as democracy, invoking a majority consensus of opinion it doesn’t actually command. [British PM] Theresa May, for example, recently warned MPs not to stand in the way of Brexit, stating: Now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people. Strictly speaking, of course, Brexit wasn’t the will of the people. […] The same goes for the US, where almost 3 million more Americans voted for Clinton than for Trump. But populist correctness doesn’t bother itself with inconvenient details. Rather it carves the country up into a neat dichotomy of ordinary people versus the elite.

    As well as silencing opposing opinions by branding them elitist, populist correctness works to rebrand ideas, creating a new vocabulary for a new world order. The right prides itself on being straight-talking, on calling a spade a spade, but when it comes to calling a Nazi a Nazi or a racist a racist — well then, things are more vague. They are the alt-right, please. Use unacceptable terminology and they will get very angry indeed.

    [… N]obody is offended by quite such a wide range of banal things as conservatives. Everything from insufficiently Christmassy Starbucks coffee cups to Budweiser ads to Kermit the Frog’s lack of trousers seems to cause an outpouring of outrage. And, while jokes about minorities or women may be considered just banter, don’t even try joking about white people — that’s reverse-racism! Indeed, many triggered rightwingers recently deleted their Netflix accounts in protest against a new comedy show called Dear White People.

    […]

    Trump is, of course, king of the snowflakes, flying into a rage at any hint of criticism. He has even, seemingly unironically, called for safe spaces. Last year, after cast members of Hamilton politely criticised Mike Pence, he tweeted: The theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!

    Conservatives are impressively adept at belittling politically correct snowflakes one minute and flying into fits of ideological outrage the next. Snowflakes are to be mocked because they take things personally; their feelings are hurt. The outrage of populist correctness, however, is framed more as righteous indignation. It is not you who is offended. You are offended on behalf of the people. On behalf of your country. Your outrage is morally superior.

    […]

  273. says

    to expound on 414:

    Another trend I’m noticing is that the freezepeach thing is becoming one of their number one bludgeoning tools. If they face any criticism whatsoever they scream “CENSORSHIP!!” and start playing the victim. I know this has been going on forever but Milo is really milking this angle like never before and the alt right is leaning on it more than ever.

    Additionally, calling them out for being alt-right to begin with is another sore spot. If you call them what they are, alt-right, they will immediately launch into a tirade about labelling and assumptions and how their PoV is more nuanced than you think, even in a discussion where they are defending PewdiePie and Milo and their ilk.

    It’s astounding and frustrating all at the same time. They stand on a position that the left is silencing them and making assumptions about them, yet wail about SJW’s and Third Wave Feminism, painting all such people with the same broad brush.

    They simply do not have the ability to debate or argue honestly, and it’s getting worse since Trump was elected.

    I recently had to block a person whom I thought was a good friend over this. In the several years I’d known the person, she never really had strong political views, but now has started watching bullshit video’s on Youtube from the likes of Roaming Millennial and other such vapid idiots, and she’s bought into it wholesale. I did everything in my power to get her to see reason but every single time I made a valid, logical point that refuted the claims in one of the dumbass videos she would resort to freezepeach and denying that that she was siding with the alt right.

    I’m quite upset about it, as you maybe can tell. I’m sick of losing friends to the dark side.

  274. blf says

    And very special scoop in The Onion, Trump Staffer Grateful To Work With So Many People He Could Turn Over To FBI In Exchange For Immunity: “[…] ‘It’s such an honor to be surrounded by almost countless people who, if it ever came down to it, I could hand over to the authorities in order to escape prosecution,’ said Potreski, adding that he never imagined he’d find himself in a workplace that was staffed wall-to-wall with professionals whose comparatively more serious crimes he could expose to save himself. […]”

    That is the day 29 entry from The Onion’s President Donald Trump: The First 100 Days, which is not to be confused with the The Grauniad’s The first 100 days of Trump.

  275. says

    More mockery of Trump’s claim that there was a terrorist incident in Sweden last night:

    Literally the biggest incident of Sweden last night was a horse called Biscuit being rescued from a well.
    —————-
    turns out “what happened last night in Sweden” actually just means “last night I was watching Tucker Carlson talk about Sweden”

    In other news, this is an update from London:

    On Monday, British parliamentarians will debate whether President Trump should not receive the honors accorded a foreign leader during a state visit, thanks to a petition calling for Trump’s visit later in the year to be downgraded.

    London Mayor Sadiq Khan is backing the petitioners. Trump’s immigration policies, Khan said, are “cruel.” The mayor cited Trump’s “ban on people from seven Muslim-majorities countries” as a particular outrage. […]

    Link

  276. says

    Bad news is coming soon from Trump’s new Environmental Protection Agency head, Scott Pruitt:

    […] Scott Pruitt made one thing very clear: the Clean Power Plan, the signature climate regulation of the Obama administration, is not long for this world.

    Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt at clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.

    “There’s a very simple reason why this needs to happen: Because the courts have seriously called into question the legality of those rules,” Pruitt said. […]

    Link

  277. says

    Now that Trump has ignorantly insulted Sweden, the diplomatic core from Sweden is asking for an explanation:

    The Swedish Embassy in Washington has reportedly contacted the State Department asking for clarification on President Trump’s comments suggesting an incident had occurred Friday night in Sweden.

    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson told The Associated Press that the government didn’t know of any “terror-linked major incidents.”

    Sweden’s security police spokesman Karl Melin also said nothing had occurred that would “cause us to raise” the terror threat level in the country. […]

    Link

  278. says

    SC @419, Russian leaders and Russian media are clueing into Trump’s unreliability much faster than rightwing media in the USA. I guess rightwing USA media won’t have as much Russian propaganda to quote in the near future.

    More news about what happened in Sweden last night:

    The Swedish daily Aftonbladet quickly compiled a list of of noteworthy things that happened on Friday; they included a drunken-driving arrest and “some technical problems” during 87-year-old crooner Owe Thörnqvist’s rehearsal prior to the Melodifestivalen song competition. […]

    From Rev. Dr. J. Liam Fox:

    Millions are suffering from free healthcare, superb education, well-engineered cars, and awesome meatballs.

    On a darker note, substantial batshit-bonkers news on rightwing media repeats a report that Muslim migrants are raping Swedish women. Examples of some of the headlines: “Police warn of child rape epidemic in migrant-occupied Malmo” and “Migrants jailed after woman abducted at gun point, gang-raped in hookah bar basement.”

    These are some of the “news” items that seem to have penetrated Tucker Carlson’s brain and Trump’s brain. Journalists are fighting back against Trump’s lies, but I doubt that the debunking will reach Fox News, nor will it reach Trump’s followers.

    […] Canadian reporter Doug Saunders rigorously investigated the narrative, and concluded that it “falls apart as soon as you speak to anyone knowledgeable in Sweden.” Official Swedish statistics do indeed show a high rate of rape, but that’s because Swedish law has an extremely expansive definition of what qualifies as rape under the law. Sweden has a higher official rape rate, in short, because its police are better able to investigate and prosecute sexual violence.

    “What we’re hearing is a very, very extreme exaggeration based on a few isolated events, and the claim that it’s related to immigration is more or less not true at all,” Jerzy Sarnecki, a criminologist at Stockholm University, told Saunders. […]

    Link

  279. says

    Wow, the interview Fareed Zakaria just had with Sergey Karaganov.

    And very special scoop in The Onion, Trump Staffer Grateful To Work With So Many People He Could Turn Over To FBI In Exchange For Immunity:…

    That’s particularly funny even for the Onion, which sets a high bar.

  280. says

    RT currently has a poll:

    After losing Flynn & reports of contacts with Russian spies, what comes next for Trump?

    Sustained attacks on his team, the administration collapses
    Probe into leaks to the media, purges of intelligence community
    Years of tug-of-war with opposition, paralysis of governance
    Eventual impeachment

    It’s about as well-designed as any other internet poll (the answers aren’t at all mutually exclusive, and the time frame of “what comes next” is inconsistent), but it is interesting.

  281. blf says

    SC@423, There is no link, nor is “RT” explained, so I’m having to guess(which is moar fun than using Generalissimo Google™): RT is Russia Today, which is a notoriously biased and often inaccurate site. I suspect you are not referring to them, however, but Rationality exTerminate!, which is the single paged, single syllable words, large print, inside Wacko House daily instructions to the dalekocracy.

  282. says

    SC@423, There is no link, nor is “RT” explained, so I’m having to guess(which is moar fun than using Generalissimo Google™): RT is Russia Today, which is a notoriously biased and often inaccurate site.

    ? Yes, I’m referring to Russia Today. It was a follow-up to #419 and other comments about a possible shift in Russian propagandist and state-influenced media wrt Trump over the past few days.

  283. says

    !!! – “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates”:

    A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

    Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul D. Manafort.

    At a time when Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, and the people connected to him, are under heightened scrutiny — with investigations by American intelligence agencies, the F.B.I. and Congress — some of his associates remain willing and eager to wade into Russia-related efforts behind the scenes.

    Mr. Trump has confounded Democrats and Republicans alike with his repeated praise for the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, and his desire to forge an American-Russian alliance. While there is nothing illegal about such unofficial efforts, a proposal that seems to tip toward Russian interests may set off alarms.

    The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.

    But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.

    It was late January when the three men associated with the proposed plan converged on the Loews Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan where business deals are made in a lobby furnished with leather couches, over martinis at the restaurant bar and in private conference rooms on upper floors.

    He said Mr. Sater had given him the written proposal in a sealed envelope. When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office.

    Mr. Cohen said he was waiting for a response when Mr. Flynn was forced from his post. Now he, Mr. Sater and Mr. Artemenko are hoping a new national security adviser will take up their cause. On Friday the president wrote on Twitter that he had four new candidates for the job.

    You really have to read the whole thing. I don’t know if this has been corroborated or if the NYT has the actual document, but it seems from the report that some of the people involved actually spoke to them about it.

  284. blf says

    Al Jazeera’s report on the Schwen attack which was reported on Friday, which some speculate is what hair furor confused with Sweden, Blast hits Pakistan’s Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine (the death toll is now at least 88; Al Jazeera’s edits in {curly braces}):

    At least 75 dead, including children and women, as ISIL claims blast at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh province.

    In Pakistan’s deadliest attack in more than two years, a suicide bomber has struck a crowded Sufi shrine, killing at least 75 people including women and children.

    Hundreds of others were also wounded in Thursday’s attack as they performed a ritual at the famous Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan in the southern Sindh province.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the blast via its Amaq propaganda website.

    […]

    Sikandar Mandhro, Sindh’s health minister, told Al Jazeera: “There was a huge crowd gathered there for the {religious ceremony} at the shrine, and there was a very big explosion.

    “The medical facilities at Sehwan are not equipped to deal with a very big emergency, so our first priority right now is to get help to the wounded.”

    […]

    The shrine, built in 1356, is by the tomb of Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi, the Sufi philosopher poet better known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, one of Pakistan’s most venerated saints.

    […]

    The attack actually happened on Thursday, but most reports (such as the above) are dated Friday.

    A graphic at link shows there have been at least five attacks in Pakistan this week alone, killing (now) over 100 people. There is a follow-up article, Sufis return to Sehwan shrine in defiance of ISIL which contains some updated graphics, plus an analysis:

    Roots of violence

    Much of that violence, with the exception of Thursday’s attack on the Sufi minority, was claimed by the Pakistan Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, which has worked with ISIL, also known as ISIS, in the past but remains separate from it.

    “Pakistan has underestimated the potential for ISIL here,” Zahid Hussain, a veteran Pakistan journalist and security analyst, told Al Jazeera.

    “Authorities always said that ISIL could not create an organisation here, but there are already organisations operating in Pakistan that agree with their ideology, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and others.”

    Pakistan has repeatedly blamed Afghanistan for giving safe haven to fighters on its side of the border, and vice versa.

    However, analysts say that trading blame is proving counterproductive.

    “The real issue is that the attacks are happening here. The networks are here, the facilitators are here{…} it is a flawed view that all of these attackers are coming from Afghanistan,” said Hussain.

    “The people are here.”

    Mosharraf Zaidi, former adviser to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, told Al Jazeera: “It doesn’t help anybody to fixate on the problem of Afghanistan as being the only problem that we face.

    While there are groups that use safe havens in Afghanistan, the “core of problem Pakistan faces today is inside Pakistan”.

    The “network of terrorists exists in this country”, he explained, and the “solution is also inside Pakistan”.

    [… discussion of Pakistan’s “half-hearted” military operations …]

    “What happened when {the military operation} started: terrorists of different organisations felt the pressure and some of their safe havens were destroyed,” [Ijaz Khan, a professor at Peshawar University and security analyst,] told Al Jazeera.

    Sounding a warning of further attacks, he said: “They were dislocated, but not finished. Now, they have regrouped themselves.”

  285. says

    Another supposed attack by immigrants is debunked. The group of hunters who told lies about immigrants attacking them actually shot themselves. Presido county is in Texas.

    According to Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, both Michael Bryant and Walker Daughetry were indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday for one charge each of using deadly conduct by discharging firearms in the direction of others, a 3rd Degree Felony. […]

    The charges stem from a Jan. 6 incident where police responding to call about a shooting on a ranch near Candelaria found Daugherty and another man in the hunting party, Edwin Roberts, with gunshot wounds. The men were part of a group of hunters and told authorities they were attacked by people who had illegally crossed the nearby border and tried to steal an RV some of the hunters were using.

    An investigation found that Daugherty shot Roberts and Bryant shot Daugherty, Dominguez said.

    Both Daughetry and his fiancee claimed to have seen illegal immigrants from Mexico on the property before, and believe the shooters came from across the border.

    After the shooting, a GoFundMe page was started for Daughetry’s medical bills which garnered over $20,000.

    CBS 7 link

  286. blf says

    ‘Science for the people’: researchers challenge Trump outside US conference:

    Scientists rally in Boston amid alarm over president’s views and fears for the future of the EPA, as ecologist likens current struggle to Galileo’s

    Hundreds of scientists, environmental activists and others rallied in Boston on Sunday to protest what they call the “direct attack” of Donald Trump and Republicans on research, scientific institutions and facts themselves.

    Gathering in Boston’s Copley Square, outside the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, several scientists gave speeches to a crowd holding signs shaped like beakers and reading “Stand up for science”. The speeches reflected a sea change in the culture of many labs and universities, where many researchers long maintained that good scientific work could speak for itself.

    […]

    “A lot of scientists are realizing that the institutions that fund and support and science in this country — science for everyone, publicly funded and transparent — those institutions are under direct attack,” [Dr Jacquelyn Gill, an ecologist at the University of Maine,] told the Guardian.

    Trump, she said, “not only doesn’t value our institutions, he doesn’t seem to value evidence-based decision making at all. That is alarming to us.”

    The president’s views about science […] is not the only concern on the scientists’ minds. “I’m concerned that we’re going to lose the EPA. I’m concerned that we’re going to lose regulations that have a direct impact on human health, like automobile emissions,” Gill said. “People will get sicker. People will die because of a lack of environmental regulation and medical research.”

    […]

    Arguments about “trimming the fat” of budgets, she said, did not stand up to scrutiny, considering that the government’s science and medical research funding makes up a tiny percentage of the federal budget.

    “That money has got one of the best returns on investment you could possibly hope for,” she said. “The real stakeholders are the citizens that stand to gain or lose the most if the institutions are weakened.”

    […]

    Members of Congress facing re-election, [Astrid Caldas, a climate scientist and member of the Union of Concerned Scientists,] said, were already starting to feel pressure from constituents about climate change. “The stakes are really high but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

  287. says

    SC @432:

    Trump, she said, “not only doesn’t value our institutions, he doesn’t seem to value evidence-based decision making at all. That is alarming to us.”

    Dr Jacquelyn Gill is right, and not just about Trump.

    It seems to be true that most good things no longer speak for themselves just because they are obviously good. Nope. We have to fight for every good, and we have to defend science and medical research.

  288. blf says

    the diplomatic core from Sweden is asking for an explanation…

    Are we having a trum-prat misspresidentaling bee?
    (Sorry, it just took me several reads before I realised just what was “wrong” with it…)

  289. says

    Some employers fired employees who participated in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest. That strikes me as a petty move on the part of the employers. And it is a move that will wreak havoc in the lives of some employees.

    More than 100 people were suddenly out of work across the country this past week after they participated in Thursday’s “Day Without Immigrants” protest. […]

    Eighteen of those who were fired worked at Bradley Coatings Inc., which had warned employees they would lose their jobs if they didn’t come to work. “Regretfully, and consistent with its prior communication to all its employees, BCI had no choice but to terminate these individuals,” the company said in a statement. “The reason these employees missed work—to engage in peaceful demonstrations—had nothing to do with BCI’s decision to terminate them.” Fired workers said they planned to make up the day on Sunday but the company didn’t budge. […]

    In New York, 25 workers were fired from Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers in Long Island. In Catoosa, Oklahoma, a dozen workers were fired from the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill after they didn’t show up for work. The owner fired at least some of them via a horrific text message: “You and your family are fired. I hope you enjoyed your day off, and you can enjoy many more. Love you.” Restaurant owner Bill McNally justified the move, saying he has “zero tolerance policy” for people who skip work. [….]

    Some are now taking to social media to call for boycotts of the companies that fired workers.

    Slate link

  290. says

    blf @438, yikes. That misspelling slipped right past me. Apologies.

    In other news, more bad news for undocumented immigrants in the USA:

    The Department of Homeland Security has drafted up new orders that would expand the number of immigrants who could be quickly detained and deported both inside the United States and at the border.

    Secretary John Kelly signed a series of memos that were distributed among agency chiefs on Friday and would, among other things, expand by hundreds of thousands the number of immigrants who could be subject to expedited removal from the country.

    The memos also note that additional enforcement agents would be hired and local law enforcement would be enlisted to help make arrests.

    The White House insists the memos are not final and the administration will make changes, but they demonstrate how Homeland Security is looking to put into practice President Donald Trump’s newly aggressive immigration policies. […]

    In essence, the new memos amount to a stark rewriting of the way the country’s immigration laws are enforced and would “supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations … including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties,” notes the Washington Post. […]

    Slate link

  291. says

    This is a follow-up to comment 441.

    Here are few more details regarding those memos drafted by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Authorizing expedited deportation proceedings for any undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for less than two years. The procedure is currently limited to those who have been in the United States for less than two weeks.

    Unaccompanied minors who arrive in the United States would no longer be protected from deportation, and their parents could face prosecution if they paid traffickers to smuggle their children across the border.

    The bar will be raised on the initial screening of asylum seekers, giving officers more leeway to narrowly interpret whether the applicant has “credible fear” of persecution if returned home.

    Immigrants who are caught crossing the border from Mexico will be immediately sent back to the country while their deportation hearings are pending. That means non-Mexican asylum seekers could be sent to Mexico to wait for their hearings. […]

    The definition of who is considered a criminal for deportation purposes would be expanded to not only those who have actually been convicted of a crime, but also to those who have been (or could be) charged.

    Money used to advocate on behalf of undocumented immigrants would go toward setting up the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office.

    Agency chiefs are to begin hiring 10,000 additional ICE agents and 5,000 more members of the Border Patrol.[…]

  292. says

    Josh Marshall:

    I don’t know how much attention it’s received. But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I’ve seen drop on the Trump story in some time.

    The new story explains that a group of Trump operatives, including top lawyer Michael Cohen and fired former campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko and Mr. Sater are pushing President Trump on a ‘peace plan’ for Russia and Ukraine….

  293. blf says

    Felix Sater (see @443) and teh trum-prat have a long connection, Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump (Washington Post, May-2016), and Donald Trump And The Felon: Inside His Business Dealings With A Mob-Connected Hustler (Forbes, Oct-2016). The Forbes article is much more detailed, tracing connections back to 2002. Both articles raise the possibly teh trum-prat perjured himself in a lawsuit about his relationship and business dealings with Sater. It appears Sater was heavily involved in trum-prat–related activities in Russia.

  294. says

    SC 244, so Michael Cohen is a bully, and a misogynistic one at that. He’s also a slimy creep who pretends that he did not say what he actually said. In other words, perfect for team Trump. He defines,”Let’s gut her” as being non-violent.

    blf and SC (several comments up-thread), I wonder if Felix Sater is one of the many ways in which Trump puts a thin veil between himself and dealings with Russia. Does he have Sater do some of the dirty work for him? The other veil (maybe a thicker veil) is the obfuscation Trump creates with multiple layers of interrelated companies, shell corporations, etc.

  295. says

    From the link SC provided in comment 443:

    […] the biggest red flags about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and businessmen around Vladimir Putin have always been tied to the Trump SoHo building project in Lower Manhattan, from the first decade of this century. […] This was a key project, perhaps the key project in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.

    Well, that’s typical. It’s though lawsuits that we get some of the details related to Trump’s murky financial dealings. Sure wish we had those tax returns.

    After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. […] Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. […]

    On its own, Trump’s relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. […]

    But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. […]

    Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President. […]

  296. says

    (Filling in for Lawrence O’Donnell this week, Melber asked about Trump’s FL rally and possible underlying need for adulation – paraphrasing – “Is this a Scrooge McDuck thing? I mean, he had all his coins gathered so he could dive in, and it was like “You’re rich – why do you need to swim though the money?”)

  297. says

    From Susan Keller:
    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
    1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
    2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
    3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
    4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
    5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
    6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
    7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
    8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
    9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
    10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
    11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
    12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
    13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
    14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
    15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
    16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
    17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
    18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
    19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
    20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
    21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
    22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
    23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
    24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.

  298. blf says

    Famine declared in South Sudan:

    ‘Man-made’ food crisis threatens 100,000 people after war and a collapsing economy devastate agriculture in the country

    Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where UN agencies warned on Monday that war and a collapsing economy have left 100,000 people facing starvation.

    A further 1 million people were classified as being on the brink of famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN bodies. Unimpeded humanitarian access was urgently needed to reverse “an escalating catastrophe”, they added.

    The famine is the first to be declared since 2011 in Somalia […].

    The UN has warned that three other countries — Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria — are at risk of famine.

    […]

    Three years of civil war has devastated hopes that the oil-rich country would prosper when it gained independence from Sudan at the end of one of Africa’s longest running conflicts. Unity State [where the famine has been declared], which borders Sudan, has been at the centre of some of the fiercest fighting […]

    About 4.9 million people — more than 40% of South Sudan’s population — are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance […]

    Serge Tissot, FAO representative in South Sudan, said: “[…] The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”

    […]

    Unicef, which said more than 1 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan, plans to treat 207,000 children for severe malnutrition this year.

  299. blf says

    Drop in teenage suicide attempts linked to legalisation of same-sex marriage:

    Suicide attempts among high school students fell by an average of 7% following implementation of same-sex marriage laws, say researchers

    Legalisation of same-sex marriage in US states has been linked to a drop in suicide attempts among teenagers.

    Researchers say suicide attempts among high school students fell by an average of 7% following the implementation of the legislation. The impact was especially significant among gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers, for whom the passing of same-sex marriage laws was linked to a 14% drop in suicide attempts.

    […]

    According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged between 15 and 24, with suicide rates much higher among those who identify as sexual minorities than heterosexual students.

    The leading cause of death is “accidents (unintentional injuries)“; I presume that is better explained in the cited reference(s) than in the short linked-to CDC synopsis. (Third place is apparently homicide!)

    […]

    The analysis revealed that in the years before same-sex marriage became legal, the self-reported rate of one or more suicide attempts among high school students across all states was, on average, around 8.6% per year, with the figure reaching 28.5% among those who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “not sure”. Students were not specifically asked if they identified as transgender, queer or intersex.

    Overall, states that legalised same-sex marriage saw attempted suicide rates fall by 0.6 percentage points against states that did not, corresponding to an average drop of 7%. The effect was found to last for at least two years after the law was passed. No drop in suicide attempts was found in states that did not enact the laws.

    The trend, it seems, was largely the result of fewer suicide attempts by LGB teenagers. In states where same-sex marriage legalisation was passed, suicide attempts fell by four percentage points on average, corresponding to a 14% drop compared to states where it was not.

    […]

    However, [co-author of the research from Johns Hopkins University, Julia] Raifman cautions that the analysis had its limitations, not least that fewer than half the states collected data on sexual orientation both before and after passing legislation, while the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation might have had an impact on how individuals responded to questions around their sexual orientation.

    […]

    Danuta Wasserman, professor in psychiatry and suicidology at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, said that the results of the research tally with studies from Europe which have revealed that suicide attempts are more common among adolescents who have concerns about their sexual orientation. […]

  300. says

    SC @461, if the story about Cohen delivering the envelope to Flynn had not been retracted by Cohen, then we would have a direct connection to Ukraine (and to Putin) via Michael Flynn. Now that Cohen has retracted that story, one piece of evidence connecting the Trump administration to Russia is shaky.

    Who benefits most if Cohen retracts the story? Trump.

    Which story is the most plausible (and has corroboration)? The first story. The retraction sounds like bullshit, bullshit that may be a result of pressure from the Trump administration.

  301. says

    What Trump said in 2014:

    I say we cannot continue to let Obama fly around on Air Force 1, at a cost of millions of dollars a day, for the purpose of politics & play!

    Trump is using Air Force One to fly to Mar-a-Lago every weekend, and he even used the plane as a backdrop for a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida.

    In other news, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Baghdad. Among other things, Mattis said,

    We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.

    Mattis’ statement implies that we should ignore what Trump said repeatedly:

    The old expression, to the victor belong the spoils. We should’ve kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance.

    We should have taken the oil. We’ll see what happens. I mean, we’re gonna see what happens.

    From Jon Finer, writing for Politico:

    […] Unlike in the imaginary world of political theory, real presidents rarely have doctrines; more often, they have a collection of strategies that they struggle to implement and an endless series of reactive scrambles to events.

    The present era is no different in that regard. What is different is that right now not only is there no discernible doctrine guiding President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, the United States currently has no real foreign policy at all. By that I mean not that the policies are objectionable, or that the Trump team is struggling with the learning curve each new administration faces at the outset, as it reviews its predecessors’ approach and settles on its own. Rather, I mean that we are experiencing an unprecedented degree of policy incoherence on virtually every major issue the country faces. […]

    That last sentence bears repeating: “We are experiencing an unprecedented degree of policy incoherence on virtually every major issue the country faces.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] this is a dynamic created by an incompetent president who simply has no idea what he’s doing, surrounded by officials who routinely have to spend time telling the world to ignore their boss’ unsettling nonsense.

  302. says

    Which story is the most plausible (and has corroboration)? The first story. The retraction sounds like bullshit, bullshit that may be a result of pressure from the Trump administration.

    Oh, it’s absolutely bullshit. He told the NYT himself that he delivered the envelope, and Sater told them that that’s what he told Sater he’d done. The surprising thing is that he talked with the NYT in the first place. Asked why he would’ve done that, Josh Marshall replied “Good question, but I suspect Times had proof and the[y] went to them for comment. Also he’s stupid.” Also, he’s done plenty of nefarious stuff out in the open in the past.

  303. says

    SC @467, excellent. I am glad they are speaking out. Of course, I knew as soon as I sampled that segment on Tucker Carlson’s show that it was anti-Muslim propaganda with no basis in reality. It’s hard to keep track of all the lies, and to persist in debunking the worst of them. So glad to see the people involved in the first place, the Swedish police officers, dissing the filmmaker. Carson loves a bonkers conspiracy theory as much as Trump does.

  304. says

    SC @ 467 – Yet Tucker Carlson was on F&F just this morning claiming that all over Europe there are widespread problems with crime and unemployment due to immigration. SMDH. These people have no relationship with the truth.

    He further went on to blame the rise of white nationalism in the US and Europe on the left’s denials about the true impact of immigration, which completely back asswards.

  305. says

    Mike Pence tried to clean up after Trump, and the effort was laughable.

    […] “Rest assured, both the President and I strongly support a free and independent press,” Pence told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, per a White House pool report.

    He said that Trump will continue to “call out” the press if it plays “fast and loose with the facts.”

    “The truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people,” Pence said. “And when the media gets it wrong, I promise you, President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight.” […]

    As a reminder, this is, in part, what Trump said: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

  306. says

    SC @472, CPAC attendees support a lot of disgusting ideologies (last year, they hosted white supremacists and their Nazi salutes), but I guess support for pedophilia was a step too far.

    Yiannopoulis said that he “deeply regrets the way his comments were interpreted,” but the video evidence doesn’t lie. He was trying to normalize sexual relationships between “young and fit” 13-year-old-boys and older men. erikthebassist also pointed out the hypocrisy with links in comment 459.

  307. says

    @472 and 473 – hopefully that’s the end of him. I can’t see anybody but NAMBLA being comfortable being associated with him at this point. Sadly, alt-righters and gamergaters won’t realize that they should have seen this coming and not idolized an anti-semitic racist transphobe to begin with.

  308. says

    John Oliver mocked the way Trump dominated the news by referencing something that didn’t happen in Sweden.

    Scroll down for the video. Excerpt:

    Well, it turns out there was no terror attack. And look, just a quick message to all other countries on earth: in the future, you are going to find yourselves wanting to ask what is your president talking about a great deal, and the answer is always going to be, we have no fucking idea. […]

    Here we are talking about Trump again, because you cannot avoid him. In the past week alone, Trump designated the media as enemies of the American people, had his EPA-hating nominee for head of the EPA [Scott Pruitt] confirmed, lost his nominee for labor secretary [Andy Puzder] and his national security advisor [Mike Flynn], and signed a bill undoing Barack Obama’s protections for the waterways from coal mining waste.”

    Not to mention President Trump’s completely unhinged press conference—one that anchors from nearly every major TV news network summed up with one word: wow.

    Yes. Wow, indeed. A presidential press conference elicited the same reaction you get from people who just watched someone shoot fireworks out of his ass, which, when you think about it, is actually fitting because whenever Trump speaks, what is it essentially other than random sparks and flames sputtering noisily out of a damaged asshole? […]

    The most recent attack in Sweden involved neo-Nazis attacking a refugee center. I don’t think that’s what Trump was talking about.

  309. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @466

    We should have taken the oil. We’ll see what happens. I mean, we’re gonna see what happens.

    Trumpigula is now saying that this would have prevented ISIL from using the oil. He must think believe the oil is in an underground cavern instead if in pore spaces in rock and umpteen million cubic meters can be quickly pumped out and loaded into tankers in a few weeks.

  310. says

    militant agnostic @476, yeah. Trump is not bothered by mere facts, nor by reality in general. Also, international laws preventing such actions as seizing the assets of another country … those too do not play a part in Trump’s megalomaniacal world.

    In other news, Wonkette covered the nefarious doings and brazen lying of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen.

    […] Here’s the part both accounts agree on: Last month, Cohen met in New York with Andrii V. Artemenko, a member of the Ukranian parliament, and with Felix Sater, a guy who used to work on real estate deals with the Trump Organization

    Artemenko has this terrific idea for peace between Russia and Ukraine that would involve Russian troops pulling out of eastern Ukraine, and then Ukrainian voters deciding in a referendum whether Russia could “lease” Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Russia invaded in 2014 and has already annexed. Wacky, huh?

    Oh, also part of the deal: Artemenko claims he has all kinds of dirt on Ukrainian president Petro O. Poroshenko, and that it’s such hot proof of corruption it would probably lead to his ouster. Artemenko claims his plan has the backing of Vladimir Putin, or at least Putin’s Top Men.

    The Times reports Cohen said that after the meeting, Sater gave him a copy of the proposal in a sealed envelope, which he took to the White House with him during a February meeting with President Trump and then dropped off in Michael Flynn’s office.

    But then Michael Flynn went and got fired, and now who knows what’ll happen to the peace proposal. The Times quotes Cohen as being very much in favor of the plan, saying “Who doesn’t want to bring about peace?” and also being perfectly fine with the supposed evidence of corruption by Poroshenko: “‘Fraud is never good, right?’ Mr. Cohen said.”

    Fake News! Says Cohen in the Washington Post version, where he insists that he did take the envelope, but not the cannoli, and that he never took anything to the White House:

    “I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. […]

    The Times says Cohen is a lying liarpants, only in much nicer terms so he won’t sue them:

    “Mr. Cohen told The Times in no uncertain terms that he delivered the Ukraine proposal to Michael Flynn’s office at the White House. […]

    We think this Michael Cohen guy had better have a good talk with himself and decide what he really thinks happened, is what we think.

    Also, let’s not forget that in that mysterious Russian dossier with the pee hookers (who are not the point), Cohen was alleged to have been a go-between for the Trump campaign in its alleged collusion with Russian intelligence. The dossier claims he met with Russian agents in Prague, a claim that has not been verified and which Cohen vigorously denied by posting a photo to Twitter of the cover of his passport, which isn’t exactly compelling. […]

    In conclusion: Apparently diplomacy between the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine is open to freelance bidding, and if you have some good ideas, just make sure you know the right people, and you too could bring peace to Ukraine, or at least overthrow its government and maybe get sanctions on Russia lifted so Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin can make peace and great deals. […]

    Wonkette’s article goes on to cover the part played by Felix Sater.

    See comments 427, 443, 444, 449, 451, 461, 465, and 468 for previous discussion.

  311. blf says

    [Hair furor] must thinkbelieve […] umpteen million cubic meters [of stored oil] can be quickly pumped out

    There’s apparently a tiny bit of truth to that, smaller than any of the body parts teh trum-prat is so sensitive about, and much much smaller than the whoppers he regurgitates. According to Forbes, Why Islamic State’s (ISIS) Oil Revenue Is Plunging: “ISIS also steals large supplies of oil from storage tanks, pipelines, and pumping stations. The Financial Times reported that ‘entrepreneurial Syrians and Iraqis’ can make good money smuggling oil into neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Jordan and even Iran.”

  312. says

    This is a follow-up to comment 430.

    About those hunters in Texas who claimed they had been shot by immigrants, when in fact they had accidentally shot each other: there’s a new wrinkle to the story. A Trump ally helped to distribute the fake story.

    […] Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller. […]

    Miller [previously] courted online infamy with a vulgar tweet about Hillary Clinton during last year’s election campaign […] [Reminder, the C-Word was part of the vulgar tweet.]

    Miller’s initial post included two pictures of Daugherty, including one showing him in his hospital bed hooked up to medical machinery.

    The aliendswere ambushing the RV that Walker and his wife. He was shot while trying to protect his hunters from the attack. Walker is a man of God and is now a hero,” Miller wrote (sic).

    “This is why we need the wall and to secure our borders,” he wrote. […]

    But Miller’s portrayal of the incident promotes the very paranoia about security along the border that appears to have played a role in the events that put Daughetry and Roberts in the hospital.

    The actual incident, police say, occurred because Walker Daughetry got it into his head that border-crossers “were inside the RV that Edwin and his wife were in, in an attempt to kidnap them. Instead of announcing himself, Walker allegedly tried opening the RV,” the local CBS news channel reports, prompting Roberts to fire a shot at the door.

    Miller was reportedly being considered as a finalist to head Trump’s Department of Agriculture, up until the president nominated Georgia Republican Sonny Perdue for the job.

    Think Progress link

  313. blf says

    A follow-up of sorts to @466 and the costs of hair furor’s frequent visits, Cost of Trump family security vexes New York and Florida officials (my added emboldening):

    Senator Chuck Schumer says costs of guarding Trump Tower may add up to $183m a year, while Palm Beach officials complain about cost of Mar-a-Lago visits

    New York Senator Chuck Schumer has ramped up pressure on Donald Trump and the federal government to accept the mounting costs of protecting the president, the first family and their extended entourage.

    Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, inserted himself into the debate on Sunday, saying it costs $500,000 per day for nearly 200 police officers to protect Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which houses the Trump family business headquarters and serves as the home of the first lady, Melania Trump, and the couple’s son, Barron. The senator estimated the cost could rise to as much as $183m annually.

    At current estimates, even a four-year Trump administration could be heading for a billion dollars in taxpayer-borne costs — an eight-fold increase of the $97m Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, estimates it cost to protect Barack Obama over the two terms of his administration.

    […]

    Schumer urged Trump to include the costs in the federal budget, noting that New York City has only been reimbursed $7m of $35m requested for the cost of protecting the tower for the period between election day and the Inauguration.

    […]

    In contrast, the cost of protecting former president Obama during his four trips to the city last year came to just $4.1m. The costs of protecting the Obama family home in Chicago over the same pre-inauguration period in his presidency was estimated at $2.2m.

    […]

    [… O]fficials in Palm Beach said the cost of hosting the president at his Mar-a-Lago estate amounted to $60,000 a day for police overtime.

    Trump stayed at Mar-a-Lago for nearly 16 days, from 16 December to 1 January as president-elect, and has visited his private resort home on three consecutive weekends this month, driving up the costs to an estimated half-million dollars.

    […]

    Trump’s frequent trips to […] Florida are burdening local businesses. While Air Force One lands at Palm Beach, Lantana, the small airport near Mar-a-Lago, is closed for business during the president’s trips. A banner-flying company operating from there told the Chicago Tribune it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts.

    […]

    Perhaps time to deploy the “Obama wouldn’t do that” tactic?: “Hair furor, Obama wouldn’t pay for his protection” (the more-correct statement is “didn’t need to”, but teh trum-prat could easily use that as an excuse, “so neither do I!”).

    The Grauniad’s The first 100 days of Trump says hair furor has spent 23 of 31 nights (c.74%) at the Wacko House.

  314. says

    A very good friend of mine, as in we used to hang out a lot, went on cross country trips together, camping etc… so not just a casual acquaintance, is a co-founder of a group on facebook that is totally grass roots, started by a group of teacher mom’s that is putting pressure on Congressman Chris Collins.

    Recently, he’s said that he will never hold a town hall meeting. My friend’s group is raising funds to buy a billboard mocking him for that decision.

    The rethuglican lying bulldogs are coming out and claiming that the group is organized and funded at a national level by Obama and Clinton PACs, and that most of it’s members are are “paid protestors” and not even from the district, which is of course, bullshit.

    If you all could see fit to throw a couple bucks their way that would be great, but more importantly I’m leaving this here as another example of the lengths rethuglicans go to try and discredit their political adversaries. It’s not often I get to see the reality with my own two eyes and personally know the facts on the ground, so in a way, this is kind of neat and I’m glad my friend is getting under their skin enough to get a reaction from them.

    Story about the billboard with the Caputo quotes. (Caputo is the Trump Lapdog in question)

    Link to the Go Fund Me page for the billboard

  315. blf says

    Here in France, Marine Le Pen’s Front National [French nazis, or “le penazis”] headquarters raided by police (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    French far-right party dismisses police search as media operation whose goal is to disturb course of presidential campaign

    French police searched the headquarters of Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National on Monday evening as part of an official investigation into “fake” jobs involving the misuse of European Union funds to pay for a bodyguard and an assistant in Paris.

    Brussels investigators claim Le Pen paid her bodyguard, Thierry Légier, more than €41,500 (£35,350) between October and December 2011, by falsely claiming he was an EU parliamentary assistant. She is also accused of paying nearly €298,000 between December 2010 and 2016 to her France-based assistant Catherine Griset.

    To qualify as a parliamentary assistant, the person needs to be physically working in one of the European parliament’s three offices in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg and be resident near that workplace.

    The European anti-fraud office (Olaf) has insisted Le Pen […] repay the money, a total of €340,000. She has refused and is currently having it deducted from her MEP’s salary.

    […]

    I formally contest this unilateral and illegal decision taken by political opponents{…} without proof and without waiting for a judgment from the court action I have started, Le Pen told Reuters.

    An opinion poll on Monday put Le Pen seven points clear of the centrist outsider Emmanuel Macron and his conservative rival François Fillon, who are tied on 20%, in the first round. But the Front National leader would lose to both Macron and Fillon in the May 7 run-off, the poll predicted, by margins of 16 and 12 points respectively.

    […]

    Monday’s raids on the FN offices […] came as Le Pen was trying to raise her international profile with a two-day visit to Lebanon, where she reiterated her pro-Syria regime stance. Le Pen, who is running on an anti-immigration, anti-European platform said the only viable and workable solution to the Syrian civil war was the choice of either Bashar al-Assad or Islamic State.

    The le penazis are known to be partially funded by Russian money. However, France 24, the French attempt at a BBC World Service, reports they may be having problems with at least some of those funds (Is Marine Le Pen’s Russian cash pipeline drying up? (Jan-2017, in English)).

    Back to the Grauniad’s article:

    I clearly explained that in the political picture, the least bad option is the politically realistic one. It appears that Bashar al-Assad is evidently the most reassuring solution for France, she said.

    Associated Press reported that a summary of Le Pen’s meeting with the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, showed he had objected to what he saw as Le Pen’s stigmatisation of Muslims.

    “Muslims are the first victims {of terrorism},” he was reported as saying adding that moderate Muslims were the “first bulwark against extremism”.

    “The worst mistake would be the amalgam between Islam and Muslims on one hand and terrorism on the other,” he added, according to AP.

    […]

  316. says

    blf @484. Yep, the Dumpster Fire’s travel expenses for his first month in office have cost taxpayers about what they paid for Obama’s travel expenses for an entire year.

    In other news, a fourth series of bomb threats have been made against Jewish Community Centers. Jewish Centers are now receiving threats on a weekly basis. This makes Trump’s response to, and chastisement of, a Jewish reporter at the last press conference sound even more egregious. Trump as clueless asshole.

    […] Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Birmingham, Alabama; Houston, Texas; St. Paul, Minnesota; Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin; Buffalo, New York and Amherst all received threats on Monday.

    NBC News reporter Peter Alexander also cited threats in Chicago, Illinois; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Tampa, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee.

    It’s at least the fourth wave of bomb threats targeting American JCCs since January. Prior to Monday, roughly 48 Jewish centers in 26 states reported received unsettling phone calls this year—allegedly from a caller using a voice disguiser—in what is being described as “telephone terrorism.” Although none of the incidents have uncovered actual bombs or resulted in physical harm to the patrons of the centers, the fear-based attacks are rattling Jewish groups. […]

    The incidents are part of a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents across the country that began during Donald Trump’s campaign for president and appear to have escalated after his election. […]

    President Donald Trump was asked three times by multiple reporters to comment on the rise of anti-Semitism in press conferences last week, but declined each time. When he was asked explicitly by one Jewish reporter to comment on the rash of JCC bomb threats, Trump interrupted him, saying his question was “very insulting.”

    Link

  317. Saad says

    From SC’s #482

    Parliament debates the petition to deny him a state visit.

    It’s all for show. Just like the confirmation hearings.

  318. blf says

    Hadley Freeman usually does a good line of snark in the Grauniad, and frequently (but by no means exclusively) writes on fashion & style, such as Why do all the women on Fox News look and dress alike? Republicans prefer blondes:

    […]
    Why do so many rightwing American women have bottle-blond hair, often worn girlishly long? I’m thinking of Kellyanne Conway, Ann Coulter and almost any woman on Fox News.

    […] I was pondering something similar myself recently while looking through Ivanka Trump’s fashion collection on ivankatrump.com, which seems to be one of the only places it is stocked these days. The grimly bland suede pumps, the simpering floral shifts, the just-flirtatious-enough body-skimming little black dresses — welcome, people, to death by mainstream feminine. You know how your mother (or mother-in-law) goes on about how you wear too much black / denim / weird stuff, and you can’t figure out what the hell it is she expects you to wear? Well, allow me to introduce you to Ivanka Trump. What a shame it seems to be sold almost nowhere these days, as these are the clothes your mother (in-law) dreams of. […]

    This got me thinking about the look of American rightwing women in general. There is a cliche about how leftwing women look — popular, as it happens, on the right wing — and it can pretty much be summed up as “ugly, jack-booted, feminazi psycho lesbian”. Think any negative stereotype about feminists in the 1970s […] and you have the vision. Even arguing with this cliche feels like a means of giving it credence but, seriously, you only need to look at, say, MSNBC, the American leftwing cable news channel, to see how absurd it is. [… T]he diversity is great when it comes to the styles of leftwing media women, and we haven’t even discussed American leftwing political women. I mean, I’ve heard them described as “shrill” (which I think is Republican speak for “female I haven’t paid for”) but no one’s ever going to confuse Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren.

    But then we turn to rightwing women. Kellyanne Conway, Scottie Nell Hughes, Tomi Lahren, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Ivanka Trump, and pretty much every single woman on Fox News: a uniform vision of girlishly long bottle-blond hair. When I see them all lined up as talking heads on the news, I get a rare insight into what it must be like to gaze upon the bar area of one of those private American tennis clubs that don’t allow anyone whose name is “too urban” or ends in -stein or -berg. Welcome, people, to death by Wasp.

    Nor is there any of the variety in fashion that you see on the left. […] But American rightwing women all dress exactly the same, which is to say, mainstream feminine — dresses, not trousers; heels, not flats; no interesting cuts, just body-skimming, cleavage-hinting, not-scaring-the-horses tedium. These are the kind of women who take pride in saying things like “I’m not into fashion — I like style”, and by “style” they mean “clothes that men like me to wear”. They think anyone who criticises Disney’s fetishisation of princesses is just jealous.

    The uniformity of this style suggests a political statement which, indeed, it is. Theirs is a look that defiantly embraces the most conservative notions of femininity and firmly rejects any idea of modernity, let alone feminism. The idea of dressing for themselves […] is as anathema to them as questioning the political, social and moral beliefs they have absorbed since they were 14 years old.

    How hard it must be having to operate within such a narrow aesthetic palette. I mean, this is a demographic that considers being brunette a physical deformity […]. And that’s a reflection of how hard it is to be an American conservative full stop, to reject the existence of modernity when it is all around you: to maintain your insistence that gay people are immoral when you have a gay nephew whom you always adored; to insist that immigrants are dangerous when your grandparents immigrated to the US; to argue that abortions are evil when your daughter has had at least one. And yet, they grip hard on to these beliefs, just as they hold hard on to their curling tongs which they twirl through their long blond locks every morning.

    Well, ladies, the tenacity of your dogma is impressive, even if the dogma itself isn’t. […] And Ivanka Trump, where you probably bought some of your clothes, is harder to get than ever. Truly, as many of these women tell us on a near daily basis, life is tough when you’re a privileged, blond, white lady.

    Another recent snarky column, Tie length: a worrying ​guide to Trump’s state of mind:

    […]
    Trump has always been a walking ball of neediness. In the 80s and 90s these needs were slaked by women and celebrity. It has only been in more recent years that political clout became his quarry, and there is a very obvious correlation between his need for political respect and the length of his tie. In the early Republican presidential debates, for example, he felt as if he had already won just by being up on the podium, and his tie was almost of normal length. But by the time he was debating with Hillary Clinton, and he realised that he had to win this so as not to be a LOSER, his tie was almost down to his knees.

    The worrying […] takeaway is that Trump is still wearing the long ties, suggesting his neediness remains unsatisfied, despite now being president. But then, his obsession with the size of his inauguration and his loss of the popular vote might have given that game away. So in conclusion, going by the tie [hypothesis] becoming president seems to have made Trump more neurotic, not less, and this makes him lash out more, lose more respect, feel even more insecure and lengthen his ties yet further. Watch the ties, world. And be very, very afraid.

  319. says

    Following up on SC’s comment 479.

    Lt. General H.R. McMaster is/was an active duty officer. NY Times link

    […] The choice continued Mr. Trump’s reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security. […]

    General McMaster is seen as one of the Army’s leading intellectuals, first making a name for himself with a searing critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their performance during the Vietnam War and later criticizing the way President George W. Bush’s administration went to war in Iraq.

    McMaster criticized the yes-men around President Johnson. Here is an excerpt from a review of McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty.

    Defense Secretary McNamara, says McMaster, “would dominate the [Vietnam] policy-making process because of three mutually reinforcing factors: the Chiefs’ ineffectiveness as an advisory group, Johnson’s profound insecurity, and the president’s related unwillingness to entertain divergent views on the subject of Vietnam….He wanted advisors who would tell him what he wanted to hear….McNamara could sense the president’s desires, and determined to do all that he could to fulfill them.”

    That sounds very much like an appropriate critique of Trump.

    Continuing with the excerpts from the New York Times article:

    As a commander, he was credited with demonstrating how a different counterterrorism strategy could defeat insurgents in Iraq, providing the basis for the change in approach that Gen. David H. Petraeus adopted to shift momentum in a war that the United States was on the verge of losing.

    General McMaster’s challenge now will be to take over a rattled and demoralized National Security Council apparatus that bristled at Mr. Flynn’s leadership and remains uncertain about its place in the White House given the foreign policy interests of Stephen K. Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman who is the president’s chief strategist. […]

    […] Mr. Trump’s aides look on many of those holdovers from the last administration with suspicion, blaming them for leaks. […]

    Mr. Trump announced that Keith Kellogg, another retired lieutenant general, will remain as the N.S.C. chief of staff. […] Trump made no mention of K.T. McFarland, the top deputy national security adviser, and whether she would stay. […]

    The other two candidates interviewed on Sunday were John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, and Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. […]

    Bolton! Aiyiyiyiyi. Trump indicated that he would find another role for Bolton. Please don’t.

  320. says

    It’s all for show. Just like the confirmation hearings.

    I know, but it’s technically what happened and the fact that they couldn’t really prevent it is discussed in the article, so I didn’t mention it.

  321. says

    From SC’s link in 491:

    […] “There are certain structures in Russia which were preparing terrorist activity against Montenegro and their activities were aimed at halting Montenegro on its path towards NATO.

    “They wanted to make a change in our democratic system. they didn’t want to see us in NATO but they wanted to see those other parties that are anti-NATO parties, winning in the election. […]

    So, yeah, more anti-NATO activity on the part of the Russians. The pro-Trump activities are also part of an anti-NATO agenda.

  322. says

    Milo Yiannopoulos is even too much for Brietbart.

    Employees at Breitbart News are reportedly prepared to leave the company if controversial senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is not fired.

    Another senior editor at the publication told Washingtonian Monday that “at least a half dozen” employees are prepared to leave to organization because of remarks Yiannopoulos made about pedophilia that gained attention this weekend.

    “The fact of the matter is that there’s been so many things that have been objectionable about Milo over the last couple of years, quite frankly. This is something far more sinister,” the senior editor said.

    “If the company isn’t willing to act, there are at least half a dozen people who are willing to walk out over it.” […]

    Link