Comments

  1. says

    SC @493, I’m glad David Corn caught that. Eli Lake is not doing a good job as a journalist. He needs to be taken down a peg.

    SC @497, Oh, FFS. For one brief shining moment, Trump made sense and said the right thing. So now he’s a great man? Give me a break. We will be lucky if this moment of sanity lasts more than a few hours. Why do people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt? He proves them to be fools when they do that.

    SC @499, yeah, tone deaf is right. Pepsi does not quiet protests, nor does it solve racial tensions, nor is Kendall Jenner a good spokesperson.

  2. says

    Here’s an expression of Flynn family priorities:

    Fact 1: Flynn/Bannon most loyal to DJT (both out at NSC)

    Fact 2: McMaster wont say “Radical Islam”

    Is WH serious abt defeating our enemy?

    Michael Flynn Jr., put loyalty to Trump at the top of the list. Next, he dissed McMaster for correcting identify terrorists and terrorists instead of Islamists.

  3. says

    Now three dozen companies have pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s show. Lisa Bloom just said on MSNBC that her office has been flooded this week with calls from women who had experiences with Fox, and that Fox is “very scared.”

  4. says

    Looks like Jon Ossoff is doing well in Georgia. How do we know? By the batshit bonkers attack ads that Republicans are fielding against him:

    This is not the kind of thing you do when you’re feeling good about your political fortunes. Republicans have grown increasingly fearful that Democrat Jon Ossoff will pull off a huge upset in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District by winning a majority of the vote in the April 18 primary and thereby avert a runoff.

    To avert that catastrophe, GOP groups are spending over $4 million on attack ads, but the flop-sweat is now pouring off them in sheets. How do we know?

    Because Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund is trying to tie Ossoff to fucking Osama bin Laden in its newest web ad […]

    Link

    You can view the bullshit ad at the link.

  5. says

    New Theory: The President is an Idiot,” by Dylan Brody:

    Occam’s Razor stipulates that the simplest explanation is most often the correct one.

    As Trump’s apologists, press representatives and cable news surrogates tie themselves into Gordian configurations explaining and re-explaining what he means when he says things that seem to be at odds not only with reality but even with his own version of reality, I come to the simplest explanation time and again: The man is simply too stupid to understand the words spraying from his own purse-lipped blowhole. […]

  6. chigau (違う) says

    erikthebassist
    Tashiliciously Shriked has been commenting here for a long time.
    Not that it matters.
    Your #453 and #455 were out of line.

  7. says

    Environmental groups are taking the Trump administration, and specifically Scott Pruitt, to court. The courts have become a venue of last-resort for some groups that want to resist the worst of team Trump’s “destroy the world, destroy the health of human beings, and destroy the financial well-being of the USA” agenda.

    Prominent environmental advocacy groups are taking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to court following a decision by the agency to reject the ban of a widely-used agricultural chemical linked to human health problems.

    Environmental groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday to ensure that the EPA would ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, pointing to the agency’s own findings that found that the pesticide is unsafe.

    The filing pointed to EPA’s own assessment from November 2016, which found that the insecticide is unsafe in food and drinking water and that the majority of cases of exposure “continue to exceed safe levels.”

    “President Trump and his EPA flouted court orders and EPA’s scientific findings that chlorpyrifos puts children, farmworkers, their families and many others at risk,” Patti Goldman, the EarthJustice managing attorney handling the case, said in a statement. “We are asking the court to protect children by ordering EPA to take action now to ban chlorpyrifos.” […]

    Think Progress link

    Rachel Maddow recently covered the fact that Trump handed a signing pen to Dow Chemical’s CEO to celebrate this stupid removal of the ban on chlorpyrifos.

  8. tomh says

    @ #1
    Pepsi has pulled the ad and apologized.
    “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize.”

  9. says

    Angela Merkel has decided to get serious about combating fake news and hate speech.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet on Wednesday reportedly approved a measure intended to help curb the presence of fake news on social media.

    The bill would force social media companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, to promptly remove content from their websites deemed hate speech or fake news, or face fines of up to 50 million euros — about $53 million.

    The measure still needs to be approved by Germany’s Parliament, but the Cabinet’s nod of support bodes well for its passage. […]

    While Facebook has announced some efforts to combat the spread of fake news, such as labeling news content linked to questionable websites or known-purveyors of fake news, German lawmakers say social media companies have not acted quickly enough to stymie the flow of hate speech and false information, […]

    “The providers of social networks are responsible when their platforms are misused to spread hate crime or illegal false news,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

    Mass also said that there would need to be similar laws implemented across the European Union for the crackdown to truly work.

    The Hill link

  10. says

    I highly recommend this piece – “The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World’s Face.”

    (I don’t think Pareene is attentive enough to Trump’s continuing grift-related skills. Just looking at the caper related to the House investigation and how he’s played it with the media, how he’s instrumentalized the slanderous allegations about the Obama administration and the intelligence community, shows that even though his delusions are advanced he’s still capable of calculated, dangerous manipulation and propaganda. (Very possibly the same is true of coordination with the Kremlin.) The benefits for him, though, can only be temporary, as I argued above.)

  11. says

    (One more criticism of Pareene’s article: that premise that you see so often in such pieces, about how this is the one key necessary to unlocking the answers. I don’t understand why people can’t simply say they think whatever they’re talking about is an important factor to consider, rather than suggesting that other factors are unimportant.)

    In related news – “From Breitbart to Sputnik: A former Breitbart reporter will host a radio show for the Russian government outlet.”

    Hahahahaha: “‘There’s no restrictions on what I can say, what I can do, anything like that’, Stranahan said. ‘I’m not easily controllable’.” Good luck with that.

  12. says

    @ #1
    Pepsi has pulled the ad and apologized.
    “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize.”

    They also apologized to Jenner, which is hilarious, as are these.

  13. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I haven’t heard TV reporters say a word about the Gorsuch plagiarism story.

    Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Daily on MSNBC mentioned it.

  14. says

    Nerd @15 and SC @14: Gorsuch was described by Republicans as an “intellectual giant.” Looking more like a plagiarist to me.

    In other news, North Korea fired another missile into the sea today.

    In other, other news, members of the House of Representatives, having recently fucked up the healthcare bill, the hearings in the Intelligence Committee, and several other efforts, are now tired. They are leaving on Thursday for a two-weak break.

    Mike Pence recently took over the push for health care from Paul Ryan. Pence failed miserably.

  15. says

    Stanley McChrystal, a retired Army general, weighed in on the side of public broadcasting:

    I like to say that leadership is a choice. As our leaders in Washington confront tough decisions about our budget priorities, I urge them to continue federal funding for public broadcasting. Public broadcasting makes our nation smarter, stronger and, yes, safer. It’s a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans. And it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military. That’s a false choice.

    I totally agree.

  16. says

    @6 – chigau

    Tashiliciously Shriked has been commenting here for a long time.
    Not that it matters.

    Given the history of trolls coming to this site specifically to bait and offend people, I think it does matter. It doesn’t happen as much anymore but I remember a time (I’m sure you do as well) when there would be daily MRA or Slymepitter trolls who would pop in and initially look innocuous, start with some JAQing off, only to disrupt entire threads with their BS.

    The comment didn’t make any sense, and as I tried to make sense of it, trolling is what it looked like to me. Xe clarified, and I conceded it was probably a language barrier thing. I then asked for further clarification, with a reminder about the theme of the thread, which is now over 2 months old and has been an outstanding source of information for me, and to which I have contributed a great deal of my time as well. As I’ve stated before, I’m sensitive to any effort to derail the thread, which this conversation is in danger of doing ironically.

    So far as it’s now clear that it wasn’t a troll, I apologize to Tashiliciously Shriked for the misunderstanding.

    Let’s please let that be the end of the discussion, as I’m here for the news and analysis, not drama.

  17. says

    Glad to hear Todd mentioned it.

    Nerd @15 and SC @14: Gorsuch was described by Republicans as an “intellectual giant.”

    Even setting the plagiarism aside, that’s plainly false.

  18. says

    @21 – The number of commenters that don’t get that she’s taking the piss out other reporters, not poor rural americans is astounding.

  19. says

    whatever chigau, this version of it was posted early February, not a fucking year and a half ago, fuck off really, I asked nicely for it to be dropped and you couldn’t do it, so fuck off, really. Take your trolling and drama and shove it up your ass. Rome is burning and you want to fight over toothpaste in the sink, IDGAF.

  20. says

    So here I sit, once again, pissed off beyond imagination at the arrogance of this community, the passive aggressiveness, the group think. I’ve been valuable, and contributing to this thread for months now, and earnestly came back here after a long absence, hoping that some of the in fighting and vitriol had been pushed to the side, but I see that hasn’t happened. As you assholes continue to gang up on anybody that dares to come here and slightly take issue with something that is said, or tries to alliterate ANY slightly alternate POV, you lot continue to insist that the only valuable POV is your own, and every one else can get fucked and will suffer the consequences when they try.

    Someone remind me why I should even think about closing this tab and never coming back again? Do you want to influence people and win minds or do you just sit around maturbating over your ability to make anybody you identify as the enemy feel like shit?

    FFS, I agree with everything just about that PZ blogs about, agree with everything most of the people here have to say, but the fucking second I express a point of view that slightly alters from the group think I get shit on. I’m tired of it.

  21. says

    fuck it, I answered my own question, I’m out, you lot are a bunch of fucking assholes, smart assholes, but assholes none the less. Have at it. Bye. Flounce completed.

  22. chigau (違う) says

    Don’t use gendered insults.
    You know better.
    .
    oh wait
    you have completed your flounce

  23. militantagnostic says

    From the article SC linked to @10

    There’s actually been some research on this: Politicians—both liberal ones and conservative ones—believe that the electorate is more conservative than it actually is. Conservative politicians believe the electorate is much more conservative than it actually is. Once you learn this, suddenly a lot of things about how elected officials act make more sense.

    One of the early episodes of the Sketicrat Podcast did a thing about Bernie Sanders that went like this.

    X% of Americans support Y and therefore Bernie Sanders is unelectable repeated several times.

    Where X% was between 70% and 95% and Y was a Bernie Sanders position on an issue.

    It seems that the American public itself has been manipulated to believe they are more right wing than they actually are so that they vote for politicians that oppose policies they (the voters support. I know this doesn’t make sense, but then Trump got close enough to a majority to get a elected. Other than racism, what is the explanation?

  24. says

    @36 – fuck your viscous heart. I remember that disingenuous “homecoming” as well as you do. Yet you keep trolling, because that’s what you are, a fucking useless troll.

  25. Rowan vet-tech says

    Erik. I have no dog in this fight. But please just stop. Log off. You don’t like it here, so stop looking at it. All you’re doing is stressing yourself out.

  26. snuffcurry says

    erikthebassist, discussion about Trump’s ridiculous fucking wall is absolutely on-topic. It’s the embodiment of political madness, a policy not in search of a problem to solve and functioning only to stoke the passions of xenophobic Americans, a gesture of camaraderie to fellow white supremacists. Tashiliciously’s comment should not have been confusing to a close and careful reader. Nor is the bid they mentioned — the bid offered by someone at Clayton Industries whom Tashiliciously says they know personally — fantasy. It’s a real bid. Whether it’s a bid meant to be satirical or not, however, is up for debate.

    You really escalated this situation for no reason, other than that being corrected chaffed your ego. Your having been here a while doesn’t grant you leeway to behave like this. Do better or, honestly, please consider staying away. None of this had to happen, starting with your peevish interrogation of an FTB commenter this long-time lurker recognizes from way back. If anything’s amiss here, it’s people who can’t control themselves but just rant and rant and rant and fail to give anyone else the benefit of the doubt. What a waste.

  27. says

    erik, I hope you won’t stay away. I think you’ve contributed a lot here, and there’s no reason arguing with a few people should drive you off. I don’t care for this:

    Someone remind me why I should even think about closing this tab and never coming back again? Do you want to influence people and win minds or do you just sit around maturbating over your ability to make anybody you identify as the enemy feel like shit?

    I just thought of you as part of the community, not as someone anyone should have to win over or convince to stick around. That not my job here (I don’t have a job here – not getting paid anything for commenting, though anyone should feel free to make a donation at my blog :)). We’re all responsible for treating one another with respect and care and trying not to be jerks – which can be difficult, it’s true, when everyone is on edge – but no one should expect to be specially placated or mollified. In any event, it’s your choice.

  28. says

    MSNBC listed the names of the (I believe) three people who will be replacing Nunes on the Republican side of the investigation. I didn’t catch all of them, but I definitely heard Trey Gowdy, which sucks. The other two were men, I think; judging from the questions at the open hearing, I would have preferred Ros-Lehtinen and Stefanik.

    I knew Naveed Jamali testified yesterday, but didn’t realize the Republicans boycotted it.

  29. says

    More on Nunes – there’s an ethics investigation:

    Nunes said that he was relinquishing control, at least temporarily, because of complaints filed against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics that he said were brought by “several leftwing activist groups.” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), the second-ranking Republican on the committee, will take over until the OCE’s ethics review is complete, with support from Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Tom Rooney (R-FL).

    “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power,” Nunes said in a statement.

    “I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman,” he said, “and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.”…

  30. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #41 – I loved it!

    Strange thing though – lots of confusion, within the replies to that tweet, about which side was being pilloried; it was an almost Rashamon-like experience reading them.

    It seems like it was that rarest of things, a comedic piece that had everybody laughing.

  31. says

    Schiff is saying the documents are being made available to the full committee. He says he looks forward to working with Conaway. Didn’t take questions, but I think he was going to vote.

  32. says

    In the previous iteration of the thread, I said Jones’s threatening comments about Schiff were reminiscent of early Nazism. It’s now being reported that he could potentially be charged with a felony:

    Law enforcement officials are not saying whether they will charge broadcaster Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist ally of President Donald Trump, for publicly threatening to “beat” Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and telling Schiff to “fill your hand”—a reference to taking up a pistol.

    But, says an attorney with expertise in federal law, Jones’s threats appear to break a federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 115, which states “whoever threatens to assault any a Member of Congress, when s/he is engaged in, or on account of, the performance of official duties, with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, the threat shall be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 6 years.”…

  33. tomh says

    There are a lot of good points made by Alex Pareene at Fusion in The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World’s Face.

    “Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the “mainstream” media. Now they, and we, are at the mercy of the results of that project.”

    Republicans went from peddling a set of talking points to the rabble, to becoming a party where a large portion of their members consume the hysteria, and nothing else, themselves.

  34. says

    (I think I recall hearing that they’re bound by law to investigate claims about improper leaking of classified information, so it’s not determined by the strength of the case.)

    Hm. Kasie Hunt is saying something different: that at least one Republican on the committee would have had to have found sufficient reason to go forward with the ethics investigation. She probably knows.

  35. says

    IANAL, and I was prone to agree going in, but I think this is a nice, clear piece about the legal challenge to Trump’s travel ban. I’m not convinced by the conservative arguments, and think that a focus on Trump as an individual, while he certainly has a demonstrated pattern of mendacity and bad faith, miss the point, which is the concrete evidence of real discriminatory purpose for this specific EO. The courts that have challenged the policy have looked at this evidence, not surreptitiously decided to treat Trump as a special case.

  36. says

    Adam Schiff:

    “I know the Chairman’s decision to recuse himself wasn’t easy. I look forward to our continued work together on other vital intel issues.”

    “Look forward to working on investigation with @ConawayTX11. He’s great colleague & new role gives investigation fresh & important new start.”

  37. says

    SC @49, I really hope that Alex Jones spends some time in court over this. He was way out of line when he threatened Schiff with harm (harm in more than one way). Even for Jones, who is usually way out on a limb, that screed against Schiff was exceptionally obnoxious.

    As for all the news about Nunes, the worst part of it is that he still thinks he did nothing wrong. He is clueless. Glad to see him “step back” from the Russia probe, though. You will no doubt have noticed that he didn’t recuse himself when he should have. He waited until he himself was being investigated. The Ethics Committee is looking into whether Nunes leaked classified information.

    A summary of events, from Vox’s Zack Beauchamp, that led up to Nunes’ recusal:

    Members of the Trump White House selectively leaked classified intelligence that doesn’t actually support their boss’s claim to a credulous congressman who uncritically parroted the information in a press conference just hours later.

    The “boss’s claim” is a reference to Trump tweeting more than a month ago that President Obama had wiretapped him. Trump called the mythical wiretapping “McCarthyism.”

    The ethics probe will take some time.

    As for emotional wars of words between commenters, wars that veer into personal territory, please let those wars flare and then die out. Refrain from participating. Thank you.

    I value the input of all of the commenters to this unique thread.

  38. says

    From the New York Times, here is a more plausible explanation for Bannon’s ouster from the National Security Council:

    Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. […]

    Moreover, Mr. Bannon’s Svengali-style reputation has chafed on a president who sees himself as the West Wing’s only leading man. Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter.

    From Steven Colbert’s show last night:

    Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council. No word on when he’ll step down from his role as president.

    Bannon appeared on the cover of Time magazine in February, and Trump reportedly did not like that either.

    More scuttlebutt, (in reporting from Politico):

    Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, a longtime Bannon confidante who became a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, urged Bannon not to resign. “Rebekah Mercer prevailed upon him to stay,” said one person familiar with the situation.

    Another person familiar with the situation, a GOP operative who talks to Mercer, said: “Bekah tried to convince him that this is a long-term play.”

    Bannon has worked closely with Mercer not only at the right-wing website Breitbart News, where her family is a major investor and where he served as executive chairman until joining the Trump campaign in August, but also at Cambridge Analytica, the data-analytics firm owned largely by the Mercers. Bannon is a part owner of the firm, though he’s trying to sell his stake, and until recently he served as vice president of the company’s board.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/bannon-resign-mercer-trump-236939

    The Mercers remain a powerful force in this White House. (SC pointed out their role much earlier, during the campaign). Their connection to Bannon is both personal and financial.

  39. says

    Swalwell (it seems – it was a bit confusing) told Andrea Mitchell that he (and I assume the other members of the committee) have seen the documents, and that the WH has “made a mess” of things, which led him to repeat his comment about people’s behavior when they learn an investigation’s been launched against them telling you a lot and this confirming in his mind that the right people are being investigated.

  40. says

    In an earlier press conference, about a month into his term as president, Trump said this about Congressman Elijah Cummings:

    I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited. And then he said, “Well, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.”

    Bullshit. Cummings replied:

    “I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today.

    Cummings and Trump did eventually meet. Here is Trump’s take on that meeting:

    TRUMP: Elijah Cummings [a Democratic representative from Maryland] was in my office and he said, “You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.”

    NYT: Really.

    TRUMP: And then he went out and I watched him on television yesterday and I said, “Was that the same man?” […] Cummings] said, in a group of people, “You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.” And then I watched him on television and I said, ‘Is that the same man that said that to me?’”

    Here is Cummings’ reply:

    During my meeting with the president and on several occasions since then, I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if … if … he takes steps to truly represent all Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on.

    Trump is a serial fabulist. He deleted the “if” from what Cummings told him, and then he puffed the whole statement up to “one of the great presidents in the history of the country.”

    Trump simply cannot see the world as it is.

  41. says

    SC @60, yep. They did it. The Republicans in the Senate nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. They have the votes to confirm Gorsuch, which, as I understand it, they will do tomorrow.

    Republicans will add a plagiarist who tends to rule in favor of corporations over individuals to the Supreme Court bench.

  42. says

    And … the disease spreads: the federal agency that oversees the nuclear arsenal of the USA is tweeting articles from Breitbart:

    The branch of the Department of Defense responsible for the United States’ nuclear arsenal is now tweeting out articles from the same outlet that brought you a “Black Crime” vertical and headlines like, “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It’s Time to Get Back in the Closet.”

    On Wednesday, the US Strategic Command tweeted out a story from Breitbart — “the platform for the alt-right” that was run by Steve Bannon before he started working for Trump last summer. “Alt-right” is a euphemism popularized by Richard Spencer, head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute (NPI), one of the country’s leading contemporary advocates of ideological racism.

    The article that was tweeted came from the “not as bad as usual” bin of Breitbart, but still I am alarmed that “top generals” are reading Breitbart, and that Air Force Gen. John Hyten is commenting on Breitbart, “Nearly All Elements of Nuclear Triad Outdated.”

    Steve Bannon must love this. Breitbart is being legitimized as a source for real news.

    […] by legitimizing Breitbart, the Department of Defense is normalizing a website that equates feminism with cancer and was recently under fire for running a fake news story about a Muslim mob setting fire to a church in Germany. […]

    More social media bad news:

    […] The Trump administration cracked down on government social media accounts in late January after the National Park Service retweeted posts indicating Trump’s inauguration crowd size was smaller than Obama’s and the Badlands National Park posted tweets about climate change. A couple days later, ThinkProgress broke news that Department of Energy employees working on a solar program were ordered to not share anything about their work on their private or professional social media accounts.

    Meanwhile, Trump has used his official @POTUS Twitter account to spread lies about the scandal involving his campaign’s contacts with Russian officials.

    https://thinkprogress.org/us-strategic-command-tweets-breitbart-ae2ad2cbe9cb

  43. says

    The guy now heading the House Intelligence Committee after Nunes stepped down is Representative Mike Conaway from Texas, as was noted up-thread, (SC in comment 57).

    Here’s an example of Conaway downplaying Russian meddling in the 2016 election by comparing that inference to the Democratic Party inviting Mexican entertainers to perform at election rallies:

    Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth. Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada. You don’t hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that.

    About Trump’s comments that demeaned women (on the Access Hollywood video), Conaway said:

    [Trump’s comments were] horrible, awful, and he’s probably embarrassed. No candidate is perfect.

    About the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration, Conaway said:

    Women carrying signs and wearing costumes in the foulest, nastiest, crudest, crassest manner possible, talking about female body parts.

    Looks like we might be trading one dunderhead for another on the House Intelligence Committee.

  44. says

    Hmmm. If this is not a sign that Steve Bannon is unhappy with his power ranking in the White House, I don’t know what is: Breitbart.com is repeatedly attacking Jared Kushner.

    Breitbart.com, the pro-Trump propaganda outlet previously run by White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, is now being deployed against President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top White House staffer Jared Kushner as part of an internal power struggle.

    Over the past week — as Kushner and Bannon have reportedly feuded — the website has published articles highlighting Kushner’s meetings with the Russian ambassador, questioning the ethics of his business dealings, criticizing his “thin resume in diplomacy,” and speculating about whether he is leaking negative stories about Bannon.

    Those attacks represent a U-turn in the website’s coverage of the president’s family. Following Trump’s election and in the early days of his administration, Breitbart provided Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, with soft-focus celebrity coverage. […]

    Kushner’s then-positive relationship with Bannon seems to have been a factor in Breitbart’s coverage — […]

    But in recent days, the Kushner-Bannon relationship has reportedly soured. […]

    Breitbart’s campaign against Kushner began with a March 28 aggregation of a Times article detailing how a Senate committee plans to question Kushner “concerning meetings he held with Russian officials close to the Kremlin, including an executive with Russia’s state-owned development bank.” The unbylined item stuck out at a website that has portrayed stories of ties between Russia and the White House as a conspiracy pushed by the so-called deep state.

    Two days later, Breitbart News Senior Editor-At-Large Peter Schweizer […] appeared on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show to criticize Kushner’s business dealings. […]

    Then on April 5 […] Breitbart published four different stories attacking Kushner.

    […] theory that Kushner “is leaking negative stories” about Bannon. […]

    Bannon has reportedly told associates, “I love a gunfight.” […]

    Media Matters link

  45. says

    Let’s hope this is bad news for Bashar Assad. Putin’s spokesman seems to have indicated that the latest chemical attack displeased Russian leaders who have been backing Assad. However, lots of caveats were offered. Those caveats basically added up to “not our fault”:

    […] Dmitry Peskov’s […] told The Associated Press in an interview that “unconditional support is not possible in this current world,” but added that “it is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow. This is totally wrong.”

    Moscow and Damascus “enjoy a relationship of cooperation, of exchange of views and full mutual support,” Peskov said. Assad and his army are “the only real power in Syria that can resist terrorists on the ground,” he said. […]

    Peskov said Russia expects a full international investigation into the attack before the U.N. Security Council considers any resolution condemning the chemical attack that he described as “very tragic.” Doing otherwise, he said, would be “simply unfair in terms of international law.”

    Link

    The Russians are still claiming that a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal. No proof of that theory was offered.

  46. says

    “Terrorism Smear Campaign Against Democratic Contender for Congress Run By Saudi Lobbyist”:

    A Republican Super PAC has paid for a television ad attacking Democrat Jon Ossoff — one of the leading candidates in an April 18 special election to fill the House seat for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — for producing video content for Al Jazeera.

    The ad assails Al Jazeera as a “mouthpiece for terrorists,” and features imagery of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, with the clear insinuation that Ossof’s past work for Al Jazeera puts him in league with terrorists.

    Ironically, the Super PAC, called the Congressional Leadership Fund, is chaired by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman — a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers and one of the countries most responsible for exporting extremism….

  47. says

    Oh, more nasty infighting between Bannon and Kushner:

    Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon has called the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” during a time of high tension between the two top aides, several Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast. […]

    One official said Bannon has lately complained about Kushner trying to “shiv him and push him out the door” and likened him to a fifth column in the White House.

    “[Steve] recently vented to us about Jared being a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative,’” the administration official told The Daily Beast.

    “Cuckservative,” a portmanteau of “cuckold” and “conservative,” has become a favorite slur on the right, used like a sexually and racially charged version of “RINO,” a Republican In Name Only. “Globalist” is a term typically used by nationalist, pro-Trump right-wingers against political opponents; however, the term has also come under fire for at times carrying anti-Semitic tones. (Kushner is Jewish.) […]

    The Daily Beast link

    The nature of Bannon’s insults condemns him, not Kushner.

  48. says

    More than 55 companies have now pulled their advertising from the Bill O’Reilly show.

    Gold retailer Rosland Capital has not.

    Gold retailer Rosland Capital, the biggest advertiser on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” has no plans to pull its commercials from the show amid sexual harassment allegations against host Bill O’Reilly. […]

    Research firm Kantar Media determined that Rosland Capital was the top advertiser on O’Reilly’s show for 2015 and the first nine months of 2016, according to the report. […]

    Link

  49. says

    Eli Lake published this yesterday afternoon, mere hours before Nunes had to resign from leading the House intelligence investigation and it was revealed that he’s under an ethics investigation for possible mishandling of classified materials. I’m torn between wanting to stop Lake from dragging himself ever deeper into this and reminding myself that he jumped into the Trump vortex of his own volition.

    Here’s his big revelation of the “Rice scandal”:

    …In the case of politicized surveillance, a real scandal is found in a talking point repeated this week by Rice and her defenders. In her interview with MSNBC, Rice said it was fairly routine for her to unmask the names of U.S. persons in the summaries of raw intelligence she received. As I reported Monday, the standard for unmasking when requested by a senior official is simply that it helps to better understand that piece of foreign intelligence.* As numerous experts have since said, unmasking is pretty common. Even if Rice did not break the law (and it appears she did not), the scandal is that what she did was most likely legal. It is not outrageous that a national security adviser can discover the names of Americans caught up in legal surveillance of others when there is a threat of a terrorist or cyber attack. It is outrageous that it’s so easy to do this in the absence of such a rationale.

    He doesn’t even know anything about any requests she made for unmasking, how many there were, the reasons behind them, or anything else, but he’s pitched in to help with the latest bullshit narrative – itself confected to salvage a previous bullshit narrative – despite the fact that he’s admitted one of his sources lied to his face on a crucial point. And this is all he’s got – it does nothing to prove “political surveillance” or that Obama “ginned up the surveillance state against” Trump. So pathetic and sad.

    * This seems to me a mischaracterization of what people have said.

  50. says

    More bad news from the Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by total dunderhead, Scott Pruitt:

    The Environmental Protection Agency plans to slash funding for programs that protect children from dangerous lead exposure. The move would eliminate programs that train workers on how to safely remove lead-based paint and which raise public awareness about the toxic metal’s risks.

    The EPA’s proposed cuts were revealed in a budget memo published by the Washington Post. That memo outlines funding cuts for two lead-based paint programs totaling more than $16 million and the elimination of six dozen full-time employees. […]

    Research has shown that the neurotoxic effects of lead on a child’s developing brain can be devastating and irreversible. […] A growing body of evidence has also shown that low blood lead levels are associated with multiple issues such as lowered IQ levels, attention-related behaviors and poor academic achievement.

    Link

    I probably don’t need to add this, but it true, once again, that some of Scott Pruitt’s and Trump’s initiatives will hurt poor and low-income people the most.

  51. tomh says

    @ #70
    I think Bannon is going to find out that for Trump, blood is thicker than … well, just about anything.

  52. says

    Follow-up to Lynna @ #65 – “With Nunes Out, the New Guys Running the Trump-Russia Probe Ain’t Much Better.”

    It’s possible that they’ve learned from Nunes’ experience to fear continuing to do Trump’s bidding or at least to limit the blatant obstruction, or that they’ve been sobered by what they’ve seen. Gowdy did tell Greta van Susteren that he hasn’t seen evidence of Rice committing any crimes or supporting Trump’s wiretapping claims (though he added caveats). But that’s the most optimistic expectation.

  53. says

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has changed the way he talks about Bashar Assad:

    With the acts he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that every one on team Trump agrees with that statement. Incoherence in the ranks is common in this White House.

    Earlier, Tillerson said that the Syrian people would decide about Assad. Tillerson will meet with Russian officials next week.

  54. says

    Trump spoke with reporters on Air Force One today, on the way to Mar-a-Lago. Here’s his assessment of his first weeks in office:

    I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.

    You have to give the press corps some props for not laughing in his face.

    As proof of his success, Trump cited job creation (jobs for which he should not have taken credit), negotiating the price of airplanes, and ordering a “vast” amount of military equipment.

  55. says

    Oh, FFS.

    White House aide Sebastian Gorka and Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday boldly speculated about the Obama administration surveilling the Trump transition team, a situation they see as “beyond Watergate.” […]

    “If you want to attack me or Steve Bannon or Steve Miller or Kellyanne Conway, you say, ‘Oh, they regularly call their nephew in Canada. Well, that’s a foreigner,” he said. “I don’t need the same kind of intelligence authorities to intercept a foreign call. Then you start to find a way to unmask all of these conversations so that you can make political profit. That’s a very, very tenable theory.”

    “And that’s the kind of thing we have to find out if it was really happening,” Gorka continued. “Because if that’s the case, that is weaponizing intelligence for political purposes against your other party.”

    There is no evidence to suggest that anything like what Gorka described had occurred. […]

    Link

  56. says

    Trump wants to cut off poor people’s legal lifeline

    Without legal aid, there will be little assistance for those facing eviction, domestic violence, or huge amounts of debt.

    From one person affected:

    […] Esnault is incredibly grateful for the assistance he got from Adams and her organization. But after his own ordeal, and hearing the news of the budget, he’s disappointed in one man: Donald Trump. “This is something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

    “I voted for him,” he added. “But I’m sorry I did now.”

  57. says

    Dear Justin Trudeau,

    Please accept our invitation to govern the USA in addition to your current job as Prime Minister of Canada. You can do both jobs, right?

    Sincerely,

    Desperate citizens of the U.S.
    ———————–

    Here are just a few examples of why this plea makes sense:

    […] “We can’t just talk about how women need to be empowered without talking to the people who still have more power—the men,” Trudeau said […] presenting himself as the anti-Trump without ever mentioning the president’s name […]

    While Trump continues to make an aggressive push for his immigration ban, Trudeau reiterated on Thursday that Canada welcomes refugees fleeing Syria and the Middle East

    In addition to calling on the international community to condemn the actions of the Syrian government, Trudeau noted that “Canada is one of the largest donors to the U.N. body that actually investigates” war crimes.

    While the Trump administration’s health care bill proposed removing maternity care from standard insurance plans and defunding Planned Parenthood, Trudeau recently announced that the Canadian government—which has offered paid family leave since 1991—will spend $650 million on reproductive and sexual health initiatives around the world in the next three years.

    “We know that if you want to create success, particularly in the developing world, [you need to] empower women so that they can choose — like a man—when and with whom they can have a family and make choices around how they want to live their lives,” Trudeau said. […]

    “There are lots of ways to reach out and highlight the need for women leadership,” Trudeau continued, noting that he made a point of creating a gender-balanced cabinet and, for the first time, his administration’s budget will include a “gender-based analysis” of any proposed initiative.

    […] “promoting women in positions of power isn’t just the nice thing to do,” Trudeau said to cheers, “it’s the smartest possible thing to do.”

    The Daily Beast link

  58. says

    This looks like a fuck up to me:

    Chinese delegation was invited to stay Mar-a-Lago but there weren’t enough rooms, so they’re staying down the road, Sean Spicer said.

    That’s a tweet from Jennifer Jacobs.

    Wasn’t Jared Kushner supposed to be in charge of setting up the meeting between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping?

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] Oh for god’s sake Trump and his staff are such fuck-ups. Mar-a-Lago has LOTS OF ROOMS. […] There are guest rooms and suites and penthouses and cottages and bungalows and cabanas, and nobody thought to block off April 6 and 7 because the “president” was having a very important foreign policy summit over how to make sure North Korea doesn’t try to nuke anybody’s brains out? Really? REALLY?

    So, you might wonder where the Chinese delegation will be staying. Radisson? Days Inn? FANCY NEW RAMADA? Best Western by the highway? Adjoining rooms? Free HBO? […]

    Actually, don’t worry, the Chinese president is actually staying at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan, Florida, which is probably fine. It just sucks how Melania’s going to have to throw Xi and his wife in an Uber at the end of the night and before you know it, they’ll be asking the Uber driver to run them through Taco Bell […].

  59. says

    Remember when Trump told us that “nobody knew” how complicated heath care legislation could be? We all knew what he meant. He meant he didn’t have a clue. Everybody knew but him.

    Here’s a report about Trump’s statement regarding his upcoming meeting with the Chinese president:

    President Donald Trump said Thursday morning that “nobody really knows” what will happen at his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he said issues surrounding trade and North Korea’s recent missile test are expected to be on the table.

    Politico link

    You know what that means. It means Trump himself is clueless, and that he is likely to be completely unprepared for this meeting.

  60. says

    Trump’s infrastructure plan and budget cuts will eliminate trains for 220 American towns and cities.

    […] Elimination of all federal funding for Amtrak’s national network trains, which provides the only national network service to 23 states, and the only nearby Amtrak service for 144.6 million Americans.

    $499 million from the TIGER grant program, a highly successful program that invests in passenger rail and transit projects of national significance.

    Elimination of $2.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s “New Starts” Capital Investment Program, which is crucial to launching new transit, commuter rail, and light-rail projects. […]

    A few of the cities that would lose Amtrak service:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Atlanta, GA
    Charleston, SC
    Cleveland, OH
    Dallas, TX
    Dodge City, KS
    Fargo, ND
    Jackson, MS
    Lincoln, NE
    Sandpoint, ID
    Tampa, FL
    Topeka, KS
    Winona, MN
    Yuma, AZ

  61. says

    NYT bombshell – “C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed”:

    The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later, former government officials say.

    The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia’s intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the C.I.A. and counterparts at the F.B.I., where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed only at disrupting America’s political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected, according to interviews.

    The former officials said that in late August — 10 weeks before the election — John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about increasing evidence of Russia’s election meddling that he began a series of urgent, individual briefings for eight top members of Congress, some of them on secure phone lines while they were on their summer break.

    It is unclear what new intelligence might have prompted the classified briefings. But with concerns growing both internally and publicly at the time about a significant Russian breach of the Democratic National Committee, the C.I.A. began seeing signs of possible connections to the Trump campaign, the officials said. By the final weeks of the campaign, Congress and the intelligence agencies were racing to understand the scope of the Russia threat.

    One factor in the C.I.A. analysis last summer was that American intelligence agencies learned that Russia’s cyberattacks had breached Republican targets as well as Democrats. But virtually none of the hacked Republican material came out publicly, while the Russians, working through WikiLeaks and other public outlets, dumped substantial amounts of Democratic material damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign….

    Much more in the article.

    Lichtblau also notes: “Well into the fall, law enforcement officials said that the F.B.I. — including the bureau’s intelligence analysts — had not found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government, as The New York Times reported on Oct. 31.” I’m suspicious about those officials.

  62. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not really political, but it appeared on a political show, Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd on MSNBC today, as his closing segment.
    John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, on a drizzly day, by a Marine Honor Guard. His wife Annie was there to receive the folded flag, in the presence of their children. His service to our country, as a marine pilot, Mercury astronaut, and Senator from Ohio deserves recognition. I was happy to see he got his second space flight prior to his death on the Space Shuttle.
    *salute*

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow and Brian Williams on MSNBC are saying that the US launched about 60 cruise missiles at the air base in Syria that launched the latest chemical attack on civilians. Trump to speak later tonight.

  64. KG says

    It’s clear enough that the real target of the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian airbase last night was Trump’s critics at home and abroad, and those investigating his ties to Putin. Trump has never given a shit about civilian casualties of airstrikes, as was graphically demonstrated in Yemen very recently. He opposed military action against Syria in 2013, when considerably larger numbers of people were killed in chemical attacks by the Assad regime, and until yesterday had been saying Assad’s removal was not a policy goal, and the USA was focused on defeating Daesh.

    I’ve no doubt we will indeed see a reversal of his fall in the polls, at least temporarily, and we’ve already seen Chuck Schumer, and various foreign governments (UK, Australia, Israel…) praising his actions. All this will confirm for him that when he’s in trouble, launching some missiles is an easy and effective response. The only downside for him is that Putin will be seriously displeased. If they have anything devastating on Trump (I don’t think we know either way), I doubt they’ll release it at this point, but some kind of public shot across his bows, or a private warning to behave, could be expected.

  65. says

    I actually avoided coming back into the threat yesterday because, just… Yeah. I got pissed, and I had a nice long angry pissed off and incredibly descriptive rant pile up at erik, but didn’t because stress, feeling dejected and randomly insulted, and shit. Thanks for everyone who actually called him out.

    As my last word; Erik, if you didn’t leave and are still ready, you are a condescending shitpisser and I hope you gargle santorum. :)

    On the topic of the cruise missle strikes; I’ve seen/heard reports that Russia was forwarned the strike was happening,, and this further led to conflicting reports of the base being entirely empty at the time of the strike, or of Russian personal being injured.

    Neither of these are very good, as one can imagine. Either the Russians told the Syrians and the base from whence a chemical strike was launched against civilians was leveled with no casualties, OR the Russians were hanging around an air base where a chemical strike was launched against civilians. This last bit about the russians is highly unconfirmed tho, so grain of salt et-al.

    There ARE reports on the ground right now that children and civilians were killed in the cruise strike.

    r/The_Donald is especially chaotic since they’d spent an entire day convincing themselves the stroke was a false flag orchestrated by Soros. Now that Trump launched a retaliatory strike, they are beginning to consume themselves in the cognitive dissonant feeding frenzy of having to admit that they were posting and cheering fake news, after spending so much time arguing that Fake News is what they were fighting against.

    Either way, Trump has just attempted diplomacy by way of slapping a three foot long purple dildo all over the Risk board, and shit is going to get hot, fast.

  66. says

    “Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms”:

    When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

    But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.

    The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank….

  67. says

    The only downside for him is that Putin will be seriously displeased.

    I was and remain surprised at how this has been talked about as though the Russia investigations and these foreign policy choices are entirely separate matters. The potential implications for foreign (and domestic) policy if he’s compromised in some way are the reason for the intense concern.

    I don’t know how much this on its own will shake up the relationship with Putin. Seems like the ost restrained/inconsequential of the available options (which isn’t to say it couldn’t set off a more dangerous chain of events).

    ***

    Sam Seder was the only reasonable voice on Chris Hayes last night, the only one consistently appreciating that Trump is unstable and sociopathic and that the compulsions driving him are in no way conducive to a coherent or positive diplomatic, military, or humanitarian policy. As other people talked about how they were heartened by the supposed change in Trump’s outlook, he just shook his head in disbelief. Trump is deeply disturbed. He does not and cannot make rational decisions in the interests of the people of the US or anywhere else. That can’t be set aside in these moments – on the contrary, it has to be front and center.

  68. says

    Cross posted from the “another day another war” thread.

    Bombing parts of the Syrian military is not the same as bombing ISIS. Syria is country with an elected leader, the evil Assad. We bombed a sovereign country with an elected leader. Trump didn’t have congressional approval to do so.

    Illegalities abound: its unconstitutional (U.S. constitution requires congressional approval), and we did not get a U.N. resolution nor any other international agreement.

    It may have been the correct and “proportional” response, but the way it was done is troubling.

    Trump watched a TV show and impulsively changed his mind.

    Did Trump really not know about six other chemical attacks in Syria? Did he not know that an earlier attack in 2013 killed many more children (1400 people, hundreds of children)? Did he not know that Obama sought congressional approval in 2013 and got crickets in reply? Does Trump not have a headache from promoting an immigration plan that bans all Syrians while simultaneously claiming that he in charge now of punishing Assad?

    Russia’s response has been muted, (muted for Russia). They condemned the attack, and they temporarily suspended the deconfliction “hot line” arrangement with the U.S. Russia did not pull out of the deconfliction arrangement entirely and forever. Russian generals called the strike ineffective. Assad called the strike “naive.” And now I think we’re done with the blowhard responses.

  69. says

    From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    The President’s action and any response demands that we immediately do our duty. Congress must live up to its Constitutional responsibility to debate an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against a sovereign nation.

    As heartbreaking as Assad’s chemical weapons attacks on his own people was, the crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes. The killing will not stop without a comprehensive political solution to end the violence. The American people are owed a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives to keep our brave men and women in uniform safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians in Syria.

  70. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] Donald Trump talking about “beautiful babies” in Syria is so sickeningly hypocritical that it demands a new word. These are the same people that Trump condemned over, and over, and over. Some of those children who died in the Idlib attack might have been sitting in kindergartens in Ohio, or pre-schools in Minnesota or at new homes in Pennsylvania, except that Donald Trump sold his voters on the idea that these beautiful babies deserved to be trapped in a war zone. […]

    Link

  71. Alex the Pretty Good says

    A hijacked truck driver into a group of shoppers in Stockholm earlier today in a probable terrorist attack.
    There’s talk of three dead and the murderer might have been apprehended.
    Get ready for the A-hole in chief to give an “I told you so.” Speech later today.

  72. says

    It’s nice to have company.

    Matt Yglesias: “‘Trump is an unstable, ignorant, madman with no regard for democracy but I’m glad he’s shooting missiles’ is a bizarrely popular take.”

    Sam Seder: “Weeks after ordering a strike which killed 8 Yemeni children Trump had an epiphany or … 37% approval + Bombs = Tax Cuts + Infrastructure.”

    Will Wilkinson: “‘This attack made total sense… but Trump is an unstable personality in crisis mode without a plan’ is not something it makes sense to say.”

  73. says

    From the New York Times:

    Mr. Trump authorized the strike with no congressional approval for the use of force, an assertion of presidential authority that contrasts sharply with the protracted deliberations over the use of force by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

    In other news, here is what Trump had to say about his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping:

    Speaking to reporters at the end of what the White House schedule said was an “expanded bilateral meeting” between both leaders and their staffs, Trump said that he believed “lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.”

    I don’t believe anything Trump says.

  74. says

    From Vox’s Dylan Matthews:

    […] Expanding refugee resettlement would certainly work, would carry little in the way of short-term financial costs, and that would likely provide a powerful boost to the US economy and drastically increase the living standards of Syrians who were able to relocate. Instead, Trump has sought to slash the number of Syrians allowed to come to the US — while dropping bombs on Syria itself. […]

    https://www.vox.com/2015/9/4/9258149/syria-refugee-humanitarian-intervention

  75. says

    Reaction from Saudi Arabia:

    “A responsible source at the foreign ministry expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s full support for the American military operations on military targets in Syria, which came as a response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians,” read a statement from SPA, a state news agency.

    Jordan called Trump’s move “necessary and appropriate.”

    Reaction from Israel:

    “Israel fully and unequivocally supports the presidents decision and hopes the clear message will reverberate not only in Damascus but also in Tehran, Pyongyang and other places,” Netanyahu said.

    Reaction from Canada:

    “Canada fully supports the United States’ limited and focused action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against innocent civilians, including many children,” Trudeau wrote in a statement. “President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored. These gruesome attacks cannot be permitted to continue operating with impunity.”

  76. says

    I am so fucking dissapointed in Canada’s response to the strikes.

    They will do nothing
    they will change nothing

    The only, *only* thing that will bring about meaningful change to the area is a multinational military peacekeeping/terrorist hunting force with very strict ROE to a) protect civilians, no matter which side is targeting them, and b) PROTECT THE FUCKING CIVILIANS

    Bombing campaigns will do nothing. There needs to be fucking boots on the ground. And it can’t be a toothless peacekeeping unit that is unable to actual carry out combat operations.

    But nothing like that will ever happen. For one, brown people. For two, there is still the imperialistic goal of “getting something out of” going into a war. Unless that changes, and the rich nations of Europe and North America begin to be actually humanitarian, Syria is just going to keep happening in more countries.

  77. says

    This piece at Lawfare – “Of Course there’s Evidence Trump Colluded with Russian Intelligence” – provides an appendix of the transcripts and tweets of Trump talking about WikiLeaks and Russian hacking/interference.

    When people say there is no evidence of collusion, they mean, we suppose, that there is no evidence of covert or illegal collaboration with the criminal activity undertaken in the course of this foreign intelligence operation against the United States.

    But that is rather a different matter than acquitting Trump and his campaign of collusion. It ignores, after all, the overt and perfectly legal collaboration they plainly engaged in with what they knew to be an ongoing foreign intelligence operation against their country. We don’t need an investigation to show that this overt collusion took place, for the Trumpists were caught in flagrante delicto throughout the entire campaign; indeed, caught is even the wrong word here. The collusion was an open and public feature of the campaign.

    The collusion with Moscow included open encouragement of the Russians to hack Democratic targets; denial that they had done so; encouragement of Wikileaks, which was publicly known to be effectively a publishing arm of the Russian operation, in publishing the fruits of the hacks; and publicly trumpeting the contents of stolen emails.

    Watts’s comments got a lot of attention from shocked commentators. But they are really an emperor-has-no-clothes statement of the obvious. They are another way of saying that the Russian active measures worked because Trump and his associates were colluding with the operation. That they were doing so publicly and lawfully does not make their activity less collaboration—just, perhaps, more honest and open.

    It remains an important question whether anyone in the Trump camp colluded covertly or illegally or whether they coordinated with the Russian operation. These questions are important because they go to the question of whether any laws were violated and whether anyone in the Trump orbit may be compromised by Russian intelligence.

    But there simply is no question that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power during this operation, or that Trump himself was the colluder in chief.

    If you don’t believe us, read the Appendix.

    A couple of things of note: Reading the appendix, you can really see how synchronized this was with the rightwing propaganda machine. Also, it’s interesting that he notes in one speech that Giuliani gave him the new WL releases just before. I’m not suggesting Giuliani colluded, but I’m surprised his name doesn’t come up more in this story.

  78. says

    McConnell and the stolen Supreme Court seat:

    […] Shortly before this morning’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, “As I look back on my career, I think the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved in was the decision to let the president being elected last year pick the Supreme Court nominee.”

    […] After Justice Antonin Scalia died, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a center-left, compromise jurist to fill the vacancy, which opened the door to a historic opportunity, unseen in a generation: the Supreme Court could finally stop drifting towards the right. McConnell instead decided to impose an unprecedented high-court blockade, gambling that Americans may elect a Republican president and Republican Congress.

    […] McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat from one administration and handed it to another. Instead of a center-left judge working alongside a conservative minority on the court, we’ll have yet another conservative majority — this time with Neil Gorsuch, who is only 49, and who’s likely to serve as many as four decades.

    Last year, McConnell declared, “One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, ‘You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.'” It’s the kind of pride one feels when they steal something and know they’ve gotten away with it. […]

    Postscript: One of the takeaways from this fight should be a wake-up call to many on the left: it’s time to start prioritizing the courts as much as the right already does. If Jill Stein’s voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, for example, had supported the Democratic ticket, there’d very likely be a 5-4 center-left majority on the Supreme Court today, not a 5-4 conservative majority.

    What’s more, this may get much worse before it gets better. Donald Trump has now added one justice to the high court, and the Republican believes he may soon add three more.

    Link

  79. says

    Within a week of being sworn in as president, Trump signed an executive order that included this:

    I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

  80. says

    Comments concerning the issue of legality:

    […] “His failure to seek congressional approval is unlawful,” said Sen. Tim Kaine. “[T]he United States was not attacked. The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution,” said Sen. Rand Paul. […]

    Slate link

    More detail from Joshua Keating’s article in Slate:

    […] even when presidents circumvent that check, they’re usually able to make some semblance of a case for the strike being necessary to protect U.S. interests. It’s very hard to make that case this time.

    These strikes are similar in some ways to the brief bombing of Libya ordered by Ronald Reagan without congressional authorization in 1986, but those were in response to a terrorist attack in Germany, blamed on Libya, in which two American soldiers were killed. There were no Americans killed in this week’s chemical weapons attack in Idlib. Yes, there are U.S. troops operating in Syria, but there’s not much evidence to suggest that Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program poses a threat to them.

    Rather, this was an operation justified on the basis of upholding international norms. Trump made this clear in his speech Thursday night […]

    But the U.N. Security Council never authorized a military operation to punish Syria’s violation of the convention. […]

    Another precedent that’s likely to come up in discussions of this attack is Bill Clinton’s 1999 bombing of Serbia to deter aggression against Kosovo, a humanitarian intervention conducted without authorization from either the Security Council or Congress. But that at least had the authorization of NATO.

    Whether the U.N. or NATO’s approval can substitute for congressional authorization is a controversial notion anyway, not that Trump, who has expressed contempt for these bodies, would actually seek it. […]

    From the New York Times, September 8, 2013:

    In recent weeks, Administration lawyers decided that it was within Mr. Obama’s constitutional authority to carry out a strike on Syria as well, even without permission from Congress or the Security Council, because of the “important national interests” of limiting regional instability and of enforcing the norm against using chemical weapons.

    From Joshua Keating:

    […] Trump has now essentially taken the authority that the Obama White House believed it had, but chose not to use, and run with it.

    As less a legal than political matter, it’s also worth considering that the U.S. has already been bombing Syrian territory since 2014. There’s a difference, of course: These strikes are against ISIS and justified—somewhat dubiously—under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against terrorists.

    Sturdy and flexible as that AUMF has been over the years, it would probably be a step too far to apply it to attacking Assad’s military. […]

    Questions of executive power in war are often more a question of political precedent than written law, and the way the previous administration conducted operations in countries including Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia helped normalize the notion that limited airstrikes are not “real” war. Most Americans probably won’t see a massive distinction between bombing one set of bad guys in Syria or another, unless this evolves into something much larger and more dangerous.

  81. says

    What Trump said at a rally in December 2015:

    Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy, “Oh he’s using gas!”

  82. says

    Schadenfreude moment for today:

    On Thursday night, virtually all national advertisers abandoned The O’Reilly Factor, the nation’s top-rated cable news show. The program included just seven advertisements and was, without warning or explanation, cut 15 minutes short. […]

    Think Progress link

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

    This should get interesting. Quickly.

    . . . The conversation followed a conspiratorial trail that led from Syria through the West Wing to the Upper West Side, and all the way to Silicon Valley, and fell apart when Jones blamed Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, for every bad decision made so far by the president.

    “It’s them, it’s them — it’s his daughter and son-in-law who are literally enemies of the Republic!” Jones shouted. . . .

    From RawStory

    =====================

    Remember when Clinton was President? Imagine if he had said this:

    . . . “The people of this state have never asked to be told of or shown the intimate and embarrassing details of my personal life,” he said. “Those who are taking pleasure in humiliating and shaming me, shaming my family, shaming my friends, well, I really don’t understand why they would do that. It may be out of vengeance, it may be out of jealousy, it may be out of anger… But I would ask them to please stop now.”. . .

    Also from RawStory ,.

    And to top it all off, the GOP Alabama governor tells them that a higher power fixed him.

    Lets hope it was a vet.

  84. says

    From 2013:

    More than 100 House lawmakers — at least 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats — have signed on to a letter formally requesting that President Obama seek congressional approval for any military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

    Washington Post link

  85. says

    Standing up to Jeff Sessions:

    Despite the opposition of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a federal judge in Baltimore on Friday locked in place a consent decree between the city’s police force and the Department of Justice. […] Sessions issued a blistering statement predicting that crime would rise as a result.

    “I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city,” Sessions said. “Make no mistake, Baltimore is facing a violent crime crisis.” […]

    Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has begun to walk back its commitment to federal oversight of police departments with discriminatory patterns or practices, […] Sessions ordered a review of all consent decrees between police departments and the Justice Department. Department lawyers asked the US district court in Baltimore to put off approving the consent decree for at least 30 days so the new administration could review it.

    But in his opinion Friday, US District Judge James Bredar said the time for reviewing the agreement had passed. “The case is no longer in a phase where any party is unilaterally entitled to reconsider the terms of the settlement; the parties are bound to each other by their prior agreement,” Bredar wrote. “The time for negotiating the agreement is over. The only question now is whether the Court needs more time to consider the proposed decree. It does not.”

    The 227-page consent decree, which places new rules and limits on how officers can interact with the public and mandates training in de-escalation tactics, among other areas of training, will take effect immediately. […]

    Link

  86. says

    Syria may be taunting Trump with continued attacks: <blockquote.

    Just hours after the U.S. damaged a Syrian airbase linked to a chemical weapons attack, the Assad regime and its Russian ally launched three airstrikes against the very same rebel-held town […]

    The attacks on Khan Sheikhoun and seven other towns appeared to be both a taunt and a warning to President Donald Trump’s administration: that cruise missiles may have damaged the Shayrat air base, but Syria has many other bases, ample munitions, and the political will backed up by Russia to continue targeting civilians.

    The latest airstrikes on Khan Sheihoun utilized small conventional rockets, and there were no reported injuries, given that much of the population had fled the town. […]

    In Irbin, east of Damascus, a woman and two children were killed and many civilians wounded in a regime airstrike on a public market and a mosque. There were also attacks on Jisr al Shughour, west of Idlib, the city of Douma east of Damascus, Dara’a, Latamnah and Kafr Zeta in northern Hama. […]

    “We thought that we are forgotten by the entire world, but it seems the chemical weapons attack awakened the human spirit amid people in the west,” said Othman al Khani, the head of the media office in Khan Sheikhoun, who spoke to The Daily Beast over WhatsApp.

    The first of the three latest airstrikes occurred in Khan Sheikhoun at around 9:30 a.m. Friday and even as al Khani was describing it, two more came in rapid succession. It was 4:21 p.m. “At this moment, a warplane just struck the northern road into the city and is now maneuvering to carry out another strike,” he said. Five minutes later, he texted that a second airstrike had occurred in the city.

    Local civilian volunteers, who are connected with a network of plane-spotters, reported that the aircraft was Russian and had taken off from the Hmemim military base in Latakia on the Mediterranean coast.

    “We are glad, but we want a plan to protect innocent civilians forever,” said Saleh Hawa, a school teacher from an Aleppo suburb who was displaced with his family last summer to a village in north Idlib province. In a Skype conversation with The Daily Beast, […] said airstrikes are “the only language which Russia and its allies can understand.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/07/assad-taunting-trump-mounts-new-attacks-on-the-town-he-gassed.html

  87. says

    Wonkette covered the fact that team Trump likely pressured the Bureau of Land Management to swap out a photo of beautiful nature on their website for a picture of COAL.

    One thing nobody will ever accuse the Trump Administration of: Subtlety. That would explain the new image across the top of the Bureau of Land Management’s website, a photo from mining company Peabody Energy of “an 80 foot coal seam at the North Antelope Rochelle open cut coal mine” in Wyoming.

    It’s a significant change for the agency that manages public lands; in the recent past, the site featured a bunch of lame photos of nature and hiking and stuff, which are for [P-word] and more importantly don’t make anyone rich. […]

    BLM is responsible for a whole bunch of things, including most federal lands that aren’t national parks or forests (which have their own agencies under the Interior Department). BLM is, of course, the same freedom-hating agency that insisted Cliven Bundy pay a grazing fee in order for his feral cattle to wander all over Nevada rangeland […] maybe it makes sense, as protective camouflage, for the agency to switch its homepage image to something that better reflects what the Trump administration thinks public land is good for. […]

    Bureau spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt on Thursday denied the timing of the photo swap is connected to the administration’s push to promote coal mining. She said the home page photo will now be changed weekly. She said the coal mine photo was already set to be replaced Friday with a new image “reflecting recreation on public lands.” […]

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lawrence O’Donnell of The Last Word posited that Putin could have given Assad permission to use a chemical weapon to give Trump a chance to act “against Putin” with a cruise missile attack, enhancing Trump’s bad numbers.

  89. KG says

    Interesting stuff going on in the French Presidential election. Following the most recent TV debate, one of the left candidates, Jean-Luc_Mélenchon, appears to be in possible contention for a place in the run-off. Fascist Le Pen and the Blair-alike Macron still head the polls, but only a few points ahead of the corrupt theocrat Fillon, and Mélenchon, who in one poll equals Fillon’s score. The far-left (New Anticapitalist Party) candidate Poutou – who is a genuine worker – also got a modest boost after calling out both Le Pen and Fillon for their blatant corruption. In hypothetical run-off polls, Mélenchon would lose to Macron, but beat either Fillon or Le Pen.

  90. KG says

    Nerd of Redhead@132,

    That seems to me very far-fetched. Much more likely is that Assad was a tad too blatant in his use of chemical weapons this time (he has been using them on a small scale ever since he supposedly surrendered them all), and Trumplethinskin took the opportunity to garner an immediate political advantage, without thinking beyond the next day’s headlines.

  91. says

    Josh Marshall talked about the infighting in the White House, and about how precarious Steve Bannon’s position has become:

    […] As Allen [journalist Mike Allen] puts it, “Either Steve becomes a team player and gets along with people, or he’ll be gone.” To render this in the alt-Trump creole, Bannon can stay if he agrees to go cuck.

    Through all this report, though, one sentence (this one describing Kushner’s and Ivanka Trump’s viewpoint) captures the real story: “In their view, Bannon is too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up. They want a more open process driven by the interests of the president, not ideology.”

    […] The “interests of the president” here is being popular, having strong poll numbers, ‘winning’ as Trump himself might put it. Bannon is putting “ideology” ahead of that.

    […] A ‘typical’ politician of the right may try to pass himself as cuddly and spendy in a tough political year. But he won’t become a Democrat. […] This, however, is a vision of politics or ideology as a mere product line which is by definition inherently secondary to the interests of the company bottom line.

    It goes to the heart of the Family, Brand-driven, Kleptocratic nature of the Trump White House. The core aim is for the President to be popular, to succeed, a goal in key ways even more important to the thirty-something Kushner/Trump’s than the 70 year old President.

    Politics or policy and ideology, whatever you want to call it, is changeable and secondary, just as Trump can shift from authoritarian isolationist to faux values driven internationalist in a day and a half. […] Words and policy have no meaning. What matters is protecting and maximizing the value of the new family acquisition: the presidency.

    Bannon and his supporters now appear to making a rearguard argument that this approach is self-defeating on its own terms. Here from the Times …

    But Mr. Bannon has his own core of supporters outside the White House. And he has argued that Mr. Kushner’s efforts to pull his father-in-law more to the center on issues like immigration would poison him with the conservative base — a hopeless position to be in because Mr. Bannon believes so few Democrats would ever consider supporting Mr. Trump.

    […] it is telling that Bannon’s supporters seem obliged to argue their case on Kushner’s terms. Whoever ‘wins’ this battle it is highly revealing of the Trump White House’s core values.

  92. says

    Good news, sort of. One state has come up with a way to support Planned Parenthood, but the plan requires taking some funds from their Medicaid budget. This sort-of good news points the way for other states to resist Trumpian policies. It’s a shame that it has come to this.

    Maryland has become the first state in the country to enact a law that will protect Planned Parenthood from federal cuts by using state dollars to reimburse the organization’s clinics for its services. […]

    The bill reallocates $2 million from the state’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 from its general fund to help cover the cost of providing family planning services at Planned Parenthood’s nine Maryland clinics. Those funds would kick in if the federal government, in an effort to defund the organization, stops reimbursing Planned Parenthood for those services. […]

    Republicans in Congress, who have been fighting for years to strip funding from Planned Parenthood, are newly invigorated in this effort thanks to the GOP control of the House, Senate, and White House.

    […] anti-abortion leaders say they still want to push lawmakers to pass a budget bill that includes Planned Parenthood cuts.

    In response, some state lawmakers are crafting proactive legislation to protect their constituents’ access to reproductive health care.

    In addition to Maryland, legislators in Nevada and Oregon are advancing measures that would make it easier for women to access year-long supplies of birth control and require insurers to cover contraceptives with no co-pay.

    Link

  93. says

    From the Urban Justice Center’s “International Refugee Assistance Project”:

    […] Rather than pay lip service to the plight of innocent Syrian children, President Trump should provide actual solutions for the children who have been languishing in refugee camps for years. Many refugee children have been left in life or death situations following the President’s executive order, which suspends and severely curtails the U.S. resettlement program.

    Becca Heller, Director of IRAP, said: “The Administration has recognized the brutality of the Syrian regime and terrorist groups; it should expand its protection of Syrian civilians accordingly by expanding refugee resettlement.”

  94. says

    More on the Bannon versus Kushner conflict (emphasis and strikethrough are mine):

    Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, two warring senior White House aides, had a bury-the-hatchet meeting ordered by President Donald Trump, after arriving at Mar-a-Lago this week.

    Considering Trump’s legendary impatience and unpredictability, this mandatory meeting strikes me as a sort of “Celebrity Apprentice” move that won’t work. A meeting won’t address the fact that Trump himself is not really leading when it comes to policy. And I don’t think he can force Bannon to be nice and/or reasonable.

    The sit-down, which was confirmed by two White House officials, was an attempt to smooth over tensions between the two men, […]

    Bannon and Kushner had for months been allies. In recent weeks, though, there has been substantial discord between them. The fight, people in the administration say, centers on policy differences.

    Bannon, White House chief strategist, is a flame-throwing populist Alt-right-nationalist who formerly ran Breitbart News. He has criticized Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, for his more politically moderate approach. […]

    Suspicion between Bannon’s team and Kushner’s has intensified in recent days, with both sides accusing the other of planting negative stories in the media. […]

    Politico link

    Trump himself is so allergic to anything resembling coherent policy decisions that it matters a lot who prevails in the Bannon/Kushner fight.

    Bannon has definitely planted negative stories about Kushner. Breitbart is obviously trying to take Kushner down. Kushner reportedly has some allies in mainstream news.

  95. says

    From Steve Coll, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] The President’s decision was familiar for being both spontaneous and confusing. As has happened before, he was apparently inspired to act by what he saw on TV […]

    Trump has said, “I’m very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.” In the case of Syria, however, he seems to have acted without a clear plan in place. During the campaign, he promised to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS, which holds territory in Syria, but he also said that it was foolish to become mired in the civil war, or to target Assad […]

    Syria’s civil war is the worst geopolitical disaster of the twenty-first century. It has claimed at least four hundred and seventy thousand lives; prompted a refugee crisis that has destabilized European politics and fuelled the rise of nativist populism; and created a playing field for Russian and Iranian adventurism in the Middle East. Six years of efforts to end the war through diplomacy have failed. The interference of regional and global powers, combined with the fragmentation of militias and guerrillas on the battlefield, have made the conflict appear all but unresolvable. […]

    Why, then, would the Trump Administration want to lob a few dozen cruise missiles into this splintered landscape? […] And, if Trump has suddenly been moved to address the suffering, he might start recognizing the legitimacy of Syrians as refugees of war and welcoming them to resettle in the United States. […]

    Canadian, European, and Middle Eastern allies, as well as some sections of the Washington foreign-policy establishment, applauded Trump for his strike, pointing out its narrow scope, and noting that Assad had brought it on himself.

    Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s continual search for approval seems to contribute to his unpredictability. Perhaps he will soon rediscover his inclination to proceed cautiously in Middle Eastern wars. Given his bombast, his inconsistency, and his preference for gut instinct over policy knowledge, he always seemed likely to be a dangerous wartime President. The worry now is that he will also be an ambitious one.

  96. says

    Trump’s tweets from this morning:

    It was a great honor to have President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan of China as our guests in the United States. Tremendous

    …goodwill and friendship was formed, but only time will tell on trade.

    Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack.

  97. says

    A gunman opened fire at a Miami shopping center.

    One person was killed and another two injured on Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a shopping mall in Miami. NBC Miami cited sources in law enforcement as saying the shooter was deceased. The incident occurred at around 1 p.m. at the Equinox fitness center in the Village of Merrick Park, authorities said. Terrified shoppers took shelter in nearby stores or rushed out, as police flooded in to deal with the shooter. The gunman was thought to have a rifle, according to one witness quoted by the Miami Herald. The mall is currently on lockdown as Coral Gables police investigate.

    Daily Beast link

    The gunman is dead.
    Local 10 link

  98. says

    Trump sent Congress an official explanation for the missile strike on Syria:

    I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

    The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests.

  99. tomh says

    @ #143

    That’s an explanation, for sure. Reminds me of the line from a Ring Lardner story, “Shut up, he explained.”

  100. says

    tomh @144, ha! Perfect.

    Team Trump is working hard to put the question of legality to rest.

    In other news, I liked this segment from Rachel Maddow, in which she discussed all kinds of Twitter accounts that are alternatives to actual federal government departments and agencies. (Good humor abounds.) Trump’s admin sent a summons for information to Twitter, asking for every detail related to the alternative @ALT_USCIS (Alt Immigration) account. The summons came from the real Border Patrol.

    In response to the summons, Twitter just turned around and sued everyone:
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security
    … and lots of other people.

    The issuers of the summons slunk away with their tails between their legs. (The issuers of the summons had also made a bunch of amateurish legal mistakes, so one has to wonder what kind of advice they were getting.) Amateur hour ended with the Alt Immigration Twitter handle still up and running, and still disagreeing with the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Amateur hour ended with the Alt Immigration Twitter handle still up and running, and still disagreeing with the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

    Sigh, guess I’ll just have to get a good night’s sleep knowing present administration is a bunch of dummkopfs, headed by the Bombastic Bully. Comforting.

  102. says

    Senator Elizabeth Warren commented on the airstrikes ordered by Trump:

    We need a plan to hold Assad accountable. But so far I’ve seen no compelling strategic justification for Trump’s missile strike.

    Within a week, Trump’s Admin went from asserting they wouldn’t intervene to launching Tomahawk missiles against Assad. That’s erratic.

    The President’s erratic approach to Syria is not a strategy. It underscores why our Constitution doesn’t let Presidents wage war alone.

    Congress must demand an actual strategy, clear goals, and a plan for achieving them before approving additional military action in Syria.

    If @realDonaldTrump truly wants to help Syrians fleeing murderers, he should drop his effort to ban their children from America immediately.

    https://twitter.com/SenWarren/status/850801960294940672

  103. says

    Josh Marshall discussed the ramifications of the ouster of K.T. McFarland from the National Security Council:

    […] K.T. McFarland, a key Flynn holdover at the NSC and a comically unqualified Fox News National Security ‘analyst’, has been fired as the number two person at the National Security Council. This is more house-cleaning by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. […]

    McFarland’s career was typified by conspiracy theories and resume-puffing. She was a research assistant to Henry Kissinger in the early 70s and had a minor speechwriting position in the Reagan Pentagon. Since then she’s been in private life, dabbled in politics and been on the Fox News nutball gravy train. […]

    McFarland will apparently be pensioned off as the Ambassador to Singapore.

    Heretofore, Trump had reportedly resisted dismissing McFarland. That appears to have changed along with so much else that did over the last week. By all accounts, McMaster is a competent and highly respected general officer. He’s systematically removing the mix of crazies and opportunists installed by Michael Flynn. It is far better to have someone like him in charge of things than someone like Michael Flynn or K.T. McFarland. […]

  104. says

    Followup to comment 149.

    Speaking Lt. General H.R. McMaster, he was interviewed for the first time as Trump’s top national security advisor today.

    […] McMaster told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace the “president acted decisively” and that while the strike wasn’t meant to take out all of Syria’s capabilities, “it was a strong signal that the U.S. will not stand idly by.”

    When Wallace asked what the United States will do if Russia defends its interests in Syria, mentioning Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s comments Friday that the U.S. missile strike in Syria put the two countries “on the verge of a military clash,” McMaster stood firm on his position that Russia is “part of the problem” and should become “part of the solution.”

    “This is part of the problem with Syria, Russia’s sponsorship of [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s] murderous regime.” […] “This is a great opportunity for the Russian leadership to reevaluate what they are doing. Why they are supporting a regime that is committing mass murder against its own people. So, Russia could be part of the solution. Right now I think everyone in the world sees Russia as part of the problem.”

    […] “I think what we should do is ask Russia how could it be, if you have advisors at that airfield, that you didn’t know that the Syrian Air Force was preparing and executing a mass murder attack with chemical weapons? I think we ought to ask them that question.”

    […] Voice of America reported Sunday that a scheduled meeting [of Rex Tillerson] with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been cancelled.

    […] “Do they [the Russians] want to be a relationship in which we can find areas of cooperation that are in our mutual interest? How was it in anyone’s interest that this conflict in Syria and this catastrophe in the greater Middle East continue?”

    Think Progress link

  105. says

    North Korea’s response to Trump’s airstrike against Syria:

    We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defense to cope with the U.S. evermore reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force.

    The U.S. Navy announced ship movements that make it look like Trump is taking an offensive posture toward North Korea:

    Trump has sent a fleet of U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, and a cruiser, towards the Korean Peninsula. […]

    Earlier this week, NBC News reported that the National Security Council has developed a range of aggressive actions Trump could take on North Korea — including putting nuclear weapons in South Korea, where the United States has a permanent military presence, or assassinating Kim Jong-un. Tillerson on Sunday denied any knowledge of plans to assassinate the North Korean leader.

    Meanwhile, President Trump on Sunday went to a Trump-branded golf course in Florida. It was his 18th trip to a golf course since taking office 11 weeks ago. […]

    Link

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

    Daesh bombed two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, killing 43. Warning: the following link has graphic color photos. Link.

  107. says

    In an outdoor ceremony at the White House, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice today.

    In introductory remarks, Trump bragged that he had gotten it done in the first 100 days, and that it hadn’t been easy. Then he thanked Mitch McConnell.

    As Steve Benen put it:

    […] the Senate Majority Leader orchestrated a ridiculous, 14-month long scheme to steal a Supreme Court seat from one administration to hand it to other. It was almost impressive in its duplicity.

    But if you’re not a myopic Republican partisan, and your principal concern is with the health of the American political system, McConnell’s work has earned him a role as one of this generation’s most consequential villains. […]

  108. says

    Steve Benen ended an article on Trump’s remarkable turnabouts on policy issues by summing up the situation like this:

    […] It’s a safe bet Trump’s entire presidency will continue to unfold this way. It’s not that he’s determined to deliberately do the opposite of what he promised voters; it’s that he doesn’t seem to take any of those commitments especially seriously. Someone he knows and trusts – Paul Ryan, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, et al – comes into the Oval Office, presents him with an idea, tells him it’s the smart thing to do, and Trump says, “Sounds good.”

    He didn’t necessarily change his mind about his vision; Trump never really made up his mind in the first place.

  109. says

    This Article Doesn’t Talk It Screams

    Glenn Thrush of The New York Times has a very interesting article out on Paul Manafort over the weekend. It contains no one blockbuster piece of information. […] The article is based on access Thrush received to a series of emails and memos from Manafort (Glenn, WTF? Please publish the actual memos and emails.)

    The upshot is that Manafort aggressively courted Trump for the job, sold himself creatively and – key for Trump, one imagines – offered to work for free. […]

    Remember that Manafort was first brought on board not as campaign manager but – notionally – to manage the delegate hunt and wrangling in the lead up to the GOP convention and at the convention itself. It later became clear that he served as de facto campaign manager pretty much from the start when he came on board in March 2016. […]

    In fact, this really made very little sense. The nominal rules of conventions may be broadly similar. But the actual rules of presidential politics are profoundly different. What’s more, delegate wrangling is in many ways an exercise in patronage and intra-party factional politics. On those fronts, Manafort had been out of the game for a very, very long time. The idea that Manafort was a silver bullet for a contested convention or even a key asset was never really credible.

    […] he hadn’t been in the business for something like 20 years. Manafort was mainly the thousandth person you would have thought of for the job. Bannon was a crazy pick in a totally different way. But he came with the Mercer imprimatur and to his credit perhaps no one had a better feel for the contemporary xenophobic hard right than he did.

    So why did Manafort get hired? […] The upshot of the story, though it doesn’t say so directly, is that there’s no clear explanation at all. […] The key thing seems to be though that Manafort really, really wanted the gig. And he was willing to do it for free, even though there’s nothing in Manafort’s history that suggests any interest in doing anything for free ever.

    Why was Manafort so focused on getting in with Trump?

  110. says

    In a way, Trump’s tax plan has already failed.

    He had a plan, or at least the outline of a plan, but now he has thrown that in the trash. One journalist called this “pre-failing,” which is chalking up a failure before one even begins.

    […] Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system. […]

    Administration officials say it’s now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. […]

    The White House is trying to learn the lessons from health care. Rather than accepting a bill written by the lawmakers, White House officials are taking a more active role. […]

    White House aides say the goal is to cut tax rates sharply enough to improve the economic picture in depressed rural and industrial pockets of the country where many Trump voters live. But the administration so far has swatted down alternative ways for raising revenues, such as a carbon tax, to offset lower rates. […]

    Brady, R-Texas, has proposed a border adjustment system, which would eliminate corporate deductions on imports, to raise $1 trillion over 10 years that could fund lower corporate tax rates.

    But that possibility has rankled retailers who say it would lead to higher prices and threaten millions of jobs, while some lawmakers have worried that the system would violate World Trade Organization rules. […]

    Other options are being shopped on Capitol Hill.

    One circulating this past week would change the House Republican plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax and cut corporate tax rates. This would require a new dedicated funding source for Social Security.

    The change, proposed by a GOP lobbyist with close ties to the Trump administration, would transform Brady’s plan on imports into something closer to a value-added tax by also eliminating the deduction of labor expenses. This would bring it in line with WTO rules and generate an additional $12 trillion over 10 years, according to budget estimates. Those additional revenues could then enable the end of the 12.4 percent payroll tax, split evenly between employers and employees, that funds Social Security, while keeping the health insurance payroll tax in place. […]

    The Trump administration appears to have shut out the economists who helped assemble one of his campaign’s tax overhaul plans, which independent analyses show would have increased the budget deficit. […]

    Link

    After the “pre-fail,” I think we’ll see a second failure of Trump’s tax plan later this year.

  111. blf says

    (This is a somewhat edited cross-post of a comment on Against the Grain here at FtB (still in moderation as I type this).)

    Here in France, Marine Le Pen, the nazi currently running for President, recently asserted I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv; Vel d’Hiv is one of the locations where Jews were detained by the police during the Vichy regime before being sent to the extermination sites.

    Her excuse? France and the Republic were in London during the occupation (Marine Le Pen denies French role in wartime roundup of Paris Jews). Which, if you think about it, means all the French who were in France during WW ][ were nazis (like her). Including, e.g., The Resistance.

    Oops.

    Whilst I haven’t seen that angle pointed out (yet) in the English-language press, this is quite possibly a major mistake (GOOD!) for another reason: It reminds everyone of the antisemitism which was always been an important part of the le penazis. She has been trying to downplay that, with, unfortunately, some success; indeed, one of her efforts is to actually get Jews to vote for her nazis by emphasizing her nazis’s Islamophobia (apparently with some success, e.g., France’s Far Right, Once Known for Anti-Semitism, Courts Jews and French Jewish dilemma: Will it be kosher to vote for Marine Le Pen?).

  112. says

    Oh, no. This is not good news. It sounds like Jeff Sessions is bringing back the war on drugs.

    This fact cannot be understated: appointing Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as attorney general of the United States was an incredibly bad idea. As if his very long history of racism, ties to white supremacy and support of homophobia weren’t enough, his most recent vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) should have told us everything we needed to know about lack of intention to protect America’s minorities.

    […] Now it looks like he fully intends to bring back the war on drugs. Yes, the very same war on drugs that we know was responsible for locking up nearly an entire segment of the population and making the United States the world’s leader in mass incarceration as we know it. […]

    Daily Kos link

    When the Obama administration launched a sweeping policy to reduce harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, rave reviews came from across the political spectrum. Civil rights groups and the Koch brothers praised Obama for his efforts, saying he was making the criminal justice system more humane.

    But there was one person who watched these developments with some horror. Steven H. Cook, a former street cop who became a federal prosecutor based in Knoxville, Tenn., saw nothing wrong with how the system worked — not the life sentences for drug charges, not the huge growth of the prison population. And he went everywhere — Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News, congressional hearings, public panels — to spread a different gospel.

    “The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as designed,” Cook said at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post last year. […]

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought Cook into his inner circle at the Justice Department, appointing him to be one of his top lieutenants to help undo the criminal justice policies of Obama and former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. As Sessions has traveled to different cities to preach his tough-on-crime philosophy, Cook has been at his side. […]

    Law enforcement officials say that Sessions and Cook are preparing a plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases and pursue mandatory minimum sentences. The two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration. […]

    “They are throwing decades of improved techniques and technologies out the window in favor of a failed approach,” said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).

    Washington Post link

  113. says

    John Oliver tried to buy advertising time on The O’Reilly Factor:

    We have produced an ad to educate Donald Trump to air during The O’Reilly Factor in New York and D.C. We submitted it to stations on Friday, but weirdly, we haven’t heard back from them since—which is a little surprising, because we are one of the only advertisers offering to buy time on his show at the moment.

    You can view the ad at the link. Here’s an excerpt from the dialogue in the ad:

    Repeated unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks in the workplace constitutes sexual harassment. If there’s a power disparity between the two parties, well, that’s about as inappropriate as lubricating a catheter with hot sauce, partner. Why would you do that? I do not like pain when I cath. And if you’ve got a friend who was accused of something like that over and over again, I might think twice about defending him, because that just contributes to a culture where women don’t want to come forward.

  114. blf says

    On the weekend there were apparently some demonstrations by some extreme British nazi groups, including the EDL (English Defence League). They fizzled, e.g., Far-right demonstration falls flat as only 300 turn up to London march and Birmingham mosque counters EDL rally with ‘best of British’ tea party.

    From Birmingham, a wonderful photograph has been widely circulated, of a young, confident, lady, Saffiyah Khan, staring down, with a smile, an enraged EDL kook. It’s made even better by her appearance (she identifies as being of Bosnia–Pakistan heritage), In dark times, this image has a glorious message — resistance is not futile and Photo of Saffiyah Khan defying EDL protester in Birmingham goes viral.

    (There is also a videoed interview with Ms Kahn at the ljnk(s?).)

  115. says

    Another chapter in the apparent ramping up of the war on drugs comes from Sheriff Peyton Grinnell of Lake County, Florida. The Sheriff posted a sort of PSA on Facebook. He is accompanied by four masked sheriff’s deputies wearing flak jackets.

    Dialogue excerpt:

    […] To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you: We’re coming for you.

    Enjoy trying to sleep tonight, wondering if tonight’s the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges […].

    You can view the video at Think Progress.

    Here is an excerpt from Think Progress’ coverage of the door-busting tactic:

    […] From 2010 to 2016, the New York Times found, at least 81 civilians and 13 cops have been killed in “dynamic entry” raids, oftentimes after police obtained a “no-knock” warrant allowing them to bust in a door and go in heavy without warning.

    Most such raids, regardless of the type of warrant, are conducted in the wee hours of the night in hopes of catching residents off guard. The consequences of that approach can be tragic when police are acting on bad information, as they did in Georgia in a 2014 raid where one cop tossed a flashbang into a baby’s crib and blew a hole in the 19–month-old’s chest, nearly killing him.

    Florida does not allow no-knock warrants, but police are authorized to use “dynamic entry” tactics as they deem necessary. Even when officers knock, they do not necessarily announce who they are — and the knock can be followed almost immediately with a battering ram, stun grenades, and a sudden swarm of heavily-armed, adrenalized cops rushing into a sleeping home.

    Sometimes — in dozens and dozens of cases around the country, going back to the 1980s — these keyed-up officers are barging into the wrong house. Police in Hawaii twice raided the wrong house — once throwing two elderly residents to the ground and holding guns to their heads in front of their grandchildren — in pursuit of a drug ring in 2005. […

    Dynamic-entry tactics and their attendant horrors became prevalent nationwide thanks in large part to the years-long spread of SWAT teams to small-town America. Communities with little real need for an independent, permanent group of videogame-style supercops nonetheless maintain such “Special Response Teams.” Tactics and organizational plans designed to respond to terrorist attacks, riots, and gang violence are instead applied almost exclusively to drug investigations, in sleepy towns where house raids are the only action available to these warrior cops.

    This long process of militarizing law enforcement at the local level seemed poised for a reversal as recently as a few years ago, with broader police reform efforts gaining momentum and longstanding criticisms of heavy-handed policework coming to the fore.

    But President Donald Trump ran on a promise to end that swerve and instead encourage police “to go and counterattack,” and act “very much tougher than they are right now.”]

  116. says

    blf @160, that’s beautiful. It’s gratifying that the Nazi-wannabes are not getting a big turnout, but even more awesome that two women of slight stature stood up to those bullies. And they stood up to them by smiling at them.

  117. says

    From one of blf’s links in comment 160:

    […] These visual symbols of individual women refusing to be intimidated, their stillness, their presence of mind, is stirring. Khan’s no-nonsense attitude – that another woman should not be harassed – reminds us that solidarity rests on assuming power, not giving it away. We see both the possibility and dignity of resistance, the ability of one person to make a difference. […]

    Khan’s small act of resistance then becomes larger, so welcome, so cheering, and so monumentally cool. Rosa Parks said: “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”

    This is the joy of Khan’s fearlessness. Hands in her pockets, deeply unbothered by angry ranting men, her smile has spread far and wide because it is an image of undeniable strength and power. Glorious. […]

  118. blf says

    Here is an amusing example of someone having put on too-tight panties backwards, Slovak media face hefty fines for referring to Britain instead of UK:

    Outlets told they had broken law by using unofficial name for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    Slovak media covering the Brexit process are facing fines of up to €6,600 for using the unofficial but widely known name Britain rather than the official United Kingdom.

    […]

    Most media outlets had made no changes days after receiving the agency’s letter. “I think the letter is absurd and I will not instruct our editors to use different terms,” said Beata Balogová, editor-in-chief of the newspaper SME.

    […]

    The British embassy said it did not mind the name Britain being used by Slovak media. “The embassy’s official logo says ‘British embassy Bratislava’ but we will comply with the Slovak law if required,” a spokeswoman said.

    […]

    The embassy’s response is perhaps more of a snark then is already obvious. Notice the use of “Slovak”. As the Grauniad notes, “Slovakia’s official name is the Slovak Republic but Slovakia is legal in published references.”

  119. says

    This is good news, sort of good anyway. Trump Model Management is shutting down. That almost slave-shop should have shut down long ago.

    […] Trump’s modeling agency had a history of employing foreign models who said they violated immigration rules by working in the United States without work visas. That investigation also detailed how Trump Models forced its recruits to pay sky-high rent to live in crammed living quarters, while levying a dizzying number of fees and expenses on its talent that left some models in deep debt to the agency. […]

    Now, as Mother Jones reports, the agency is shutting down for good.

    One of President Donald Trump’s favorite businesses will go the way of Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Airlines, and Trump Magazine: his embattled New York modeling firm, Trump Model Management, has officially told its business associates around the world to prepare for its closure, according to an email obtained by Mother Jones.

    Over the weekend, Corinne Nicolas, president of Trump Models, informed industry colleagues of the pending closure of the 18-year-old agency, in which Trump owns an 85 percent stake (according to his most recent financial disclosure). […]

    Mother Jones reported last week that the firm was on the brink of collapse […]

    No one answered several calls to the company’s main phone line Wednesday. […]

    Last summer, Mother Jones interviewed several foreign-born models who alleged they had worked illegally in the United States with Trump’s agency—a report that was particularly striking in light of Trump’s hawkish stance on illegal immigration. Four former Trump models told Mother Jones they worked for the agency without work visas; one said she worked for the agency for four years without a visa. Records in a lawsuit filed against Trump Model Management by a fifth former model, Alexia Palmer, indicated that she, too, worked for the company without work authorization. (The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.) […]

    Trump models were finding it tough to stay with the company because of Trump’s brand. “The people who got the worst of it were the models; they’d arrive on set and people would say, ‘Oooh, you’re from Trump [Models]? How dare you,’ or ‘Why are you still with them?'” Rocha said, according to the article. “They were constantly harassed by employees on shoots, especially by other models.” Refinery29 first reported that a possible boycott among industry stylists and photographers was being discussed in early February. […]

    At the agency’s launch party in 1998, Trump issued a promise about the company […] Flanked by his business partner and the supermodel Daniela Pestova, Trump rose for a toast. “To the richest agency,” he declared. Now that agency could become the first piece of his business empire to fall victim to his polarizing presidency.

    Let’s count this as another one of Trump’s failures.

  120. blf says

    Heh. This is a somewhat interesting self-selecting “poll” of a sorts, in English, Which French presidential candidate is the best match for you? What makes it a bit interesting is it matches up your answers with how the poll’s author(s?) interpret the candidates various claims.

    It seems Philippe Poutou, of the New Anti-capitalist party (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA)), is the closest to my answers. Amusingly, he’s also currently getting some attention as a result of the most recent “debate”, French election: factory worker Poutou emerges as star of TV debate. (I don’t watch the debates, paint drying is far more interesting and truthful.)

    Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière), who I’ve never even heard of before, is supposedly the second most-like-me, with Benoît Hamon (Socialists, current governing party) the third most-&tc. By-the-numbers, there’s no real difference between those three, albeit I haven’t bothered to look at the detailed breakdowns (far too many questions (very French!), and I detest self-selecting polls (and in any case you can somehow retake the “poll”, which supposedly is updated (daily?) as the campaign lurches on)).

    The three least-like-me are Le Pen (nazis) at the bottom, then almost as bad is the burnt baguette François Fillon (wingnuts), with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (never heard of him, he’s apparently a monarchist or something equally goofy) only slightly better. The rest of the bunch is, supposedly, for me, supposedly, neither-yes-nor-no, i.e., plausible but with differences.

    And I’ve finally seen some signs-of-life from some of the non–nazis locally: A (as in one) flier pushed through my letterbox, and posters for two(?) different candidates. Still only seen le penazi stormtroopers on the ground, however.

    I also stumbled across the local HQ for Fillon’s mob, which was, quite amusingly, closed, shuttered, barred with a rusty gate, rusty lock, and rusty chain, and did look it had been used in months. There wasn’t even a poster up for the burnt baguette!

  121. says

    blf @166, Ha! That’s amusing. BTW, I like the description in your last paragraph.

    In other news, Andrea Mitchell had this to say about the Trump administration:

    […] It is totally sui generis. I’ve never seen anything like this. I have never seen anything like this where people just flat-out lie. You know, black is white and white is black, and they mislead you. It’s really disconcerting to see the podium in the White House briefing room being used to mislead or misdirect or obfuscate […]

    You should not be flying into Beijing without a press corps. You should not be going to Moscow without the press corps. It’s wrong.

    […] I’ve covered seven presidents no and have not endeared myself to any of them. That’s the job. We are adversarial. […]

    I guess he feels an affinity with his friend Bill O’Reilly but I’m not sure how the president of the United States would know that Bill O’Reilly shouldn’t have settled. I do think that it was remarkable that he defended Bill O’Reilly without knowing the facts. […]

    Politico link

    Mitchell’s comments were, partially, in response to Trump having called her, “Hillary Clinton’s P.R. person.”

    Mitchell is now 70 years old. She was shouting questions at Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

    She still remembers with loathing the evasive, misleading, and downright “misogynistic” press secretary of the Reagan era, Larry Speakes. Her relationship with Reagan’s second-term chief of staff Don Regan was famously contentious.

  122. blf says

    Hum… France24 is reporting Russian arrested in Spain possibly linked to US election hacking:

    An alleged Russian hacker has been detained in Spain at the request of American authorities, an arrest that set cybersecurity circles abuzz after a Russian broadcaster raised the possibility it was linked to the US presidential election.

    Pyotr Levashov was arrested Friday in Barcelona on a US computer crimes warrant, according to a spokeswoman for Spain’s National Court […].

    Such arrests aren’t unusual […] but Levashov’s arrest drew immediate attention after his wife told a Russia’s RT [beep! beep! warning! –blf] broadcaster he was linked to America’s 2016 election hacking.

    […] She said […] he told her he was told that he had created a computer virus that was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

    […]

    The short article goes on to note it is difficult to make much sense of that claim. The Grauniad, Russian computer programmer held in Spain ‘under US warrant’, explains a bit more, and notes that RT is unreliable, “RT has the specific mission to counter the narrative of the so-called ‘mainstream media’ and often does not even attempt balanced coverage of global events.”

  123. says

    Rick Wilson, writing for The Daily Beast, discussed the coming shake-up(s) of Trump’s team in the White House:

    […] Let’s start with the leader of the Pepe Army sleeper cell at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Steve Bannon. If Trump keeps his chief strategist, he keeps the poisonous, post-conservative nationalism and thinly-veiled racial and religious animus that helped put him in the Oval Office. Bannon was great at running a conspiracy blog, but his political instincts are those of an arsonist, not a strategist. He has led Trump into a series of unforced political debacles, tainted relations with Congress, and alienated members of America’s new royal family.

    He’s already become persona non grata in Congress for his absurdly villainous performance trying unsuccessfully to browbeat them into accepting the ludicrously unpopular Trumpcare bill, […]

    If he fires Bannon, Trump should prepare for war. The information warfare architecture Bannon built with the money of Robert and Rebekah Mercer is already restive and nervous […] it can just easily be turned against him. […]

    If Bannon is cut loose, the old Washington adage of “better to have your enemy inside the tent pissing out” will come into play. The coverage of Trump in the Bannon/Mercer echo chamber will go from “gushing hagiography” to “more in sorrow than in anger” to “Trump is now a globalist cuck shill for the ZOG” faster than Andrew Breitbart can rotate in his grave.

    [Bannon is] up to his ample ass in the Nunes shenanigan with NSC staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnik and White House Counsel’s Office staffer Mike Ellis. Bannon doesn’t just want to protect Trump over the Russia allegations; he wants to protect Russia, a nation he sees as an essential ally in his new alliance of white Christian nations against the Muslim horde. […]

    What about Jared Kushner, the new golden child of the Celebrity White House?

    Elevating his son-in-law to Ambassador Plenipotentiary for Everything and Czar of All U.S. Government Programs is already straining credulity. Other than an accident of marriage and birth, Kushner isn’t regarded as particularly shining intellect, a masterful leader, or a man of any particularly notable ideological standards. He’s the son of a New York billionaire married to Trump’s daughter, and that’s really about all he brings to the table.

    […] In Kushner’s case, accomplished, smart people who have managed more than their daddy’s real-estate company will look at him as being elevated on the basis of his marriage, not his ability. […]

  124. says

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Russia. Putin refuses to meet with him.

    […] Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tillerson would not meet with Putin as former Secretary of State John Kerry had often done; and would instead meet only with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

    “We have not announced any such meetings and right now there is no meeting with Tillerson in the president’s diary,” Peskov told reporters. Peskov did not cite the airstrikes or any other reason for the lack of a meeting between Putin and Tillerson.

    Moscow has previously condemned the U.S. strikes and threatened that they might jeopardize U.S.-Russia relations. “With this step Washington has struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state,” Peskov said Friday. Moscow contends that the strikes were an act of aggression in violation of international law.

    Link

  125. says

    It’s looking more and more like Russia knew about the chemical weapons attack in Syria before it occurred.

    U.S. officials have concluded that Russia had advance knowledge of a chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians last week, the Associated Press reported Monday.

    The official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said Russia flew a drone over a Syrian hospital where people were seeking treatment in the immediate aftermath of the chemical attack. Hours later, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital, the official said.

    U.S. intelligence was previously unsure whether the jet was Russian or Syrian. While the official said it is still unclear who was operating the jet, U.S. intelligence now believes the bombing to have been a Russian strike intended to cover up the signs of the earlier chemical weapons attack, indicating that Russia had advance warning of the chemical attack.

    The Kremlin currently maintains that it is unclear whether the Assad government was behind the chemical attack.

    Link

  126. says

    In all of the bad news flowing from Trump’s actions, policies, and even just from the fact that he is the president, we occasionally seed that some good has come out of this.

    David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize. He deserved it.

    The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize in the National Reporting category on Monday for his coverage of President Donald Trump’s businesses and alleged charities. Fahrenthold has spent over a year debunking Trump’s claims of philanthropy, and in October released footage of Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women.

    Other Pulitzer winners included The New York Times, which took home prizes for International Reporting, Features Writing, and Breaking News Photography. The New York Daily News and ProPublica shared a Public Service reporting prize for their joint coverage of housing discrimination. […]

    Link

  127. says

    It looks like Jared Kushner may have won another round in the fight with Steve Bannon:

    On Monday afternoon, Business Insider reported that “employees at Breitbart News have been asked by senior editors to refrain from writing stories critical of Jared Kushner,” […]

    Last week, Breitbart appeared more than happy to publish explicitly negative coverage of Kushner.

    […] Over the weekend, Trump reportedly brokered a détente between Kushner and Bannon.

    […] Breitbart spokesman Chad Wilkinson texted The Daily Beast that “it’s an absurd suggestion that Breitbart would muzzle critical coverage of any senior White House official.” Business Insider, defending its reporting, said that the piece spoke for itself.

    On Monday afternoon, The Daily Beast reached out to several Breitbart editorial staffers to ask about the BI story. One staffer messaged back, tersely, with: “cucked. :)”

    Daily Beast link

    Business Insider link

  128. says

    An excerpt from Sean Spicer’s press briefing today:

    Q: Is the red line for this White House chemical warfare? Is conventional warfare enough to get the president to go further than this White House is going?

    SPICER: I think the president has been very clear that there are a number of lines that were crossed last week. He’s not going to sit down — you saw this with the last administration, they drew these red lines, and then the red lines were run over. … The answer is that if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you will see a response from this president. That is unacceptable.

    If Trump responds every time the Assad regime drops a barrel bomb, then the U.S. will be bombing Assad every day. Sounds like full-scale war to me.

    Perhaps Spicer did not not mean what he said?

    Update: AFP White House correspondent Andrew Beatty reports that the White House has since clarified that “Spicer’s barrel bomb red line referred to barrel bombs containing industrial chemicals like chlorine.” Which, when you read the question and answer above, is pretty clearly not what Spicer was actually saying, […]

  129. says

    Red Bull Gives Internet Nazis Wings

    Red Bull is a gross drink that tastes like liquidated children’s Tylenol and leaves an awful taste in your mouth. What might also leave a pretty gross taste in your mouth is a recent interview with Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian billionaire who co-founded the company and owns 49% of it.

    Mateschitz rarely grants interviews, but spoke at length with Kleine Zeitung’s Hubert Gerhard and Patterer Nöhrer about his feelings about refugees, political correctness, Donald Trump, and “intellectual elites,” and said a lot of real creepy things about what a horrible threat cultural diversity is to … um, diversity. Because while he likes Europe’s diversity of white people, he is not so keen on that diversity including migrants and refugees. Who he claims are not really even “real” refugees by the Geneva Convention standard.

    For all of this, he was summarily cheered on by Breitbart, which eagerly rained praise upon his “slamming” of “forced multiculturalism.” […]

    Citing this interview, white nationalist Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer has now officially declared Red Bull to be the “Official Energy Drink Of The Alt-Right.” […]

    Anglin says that Mateschitz’s willingness to come out as a weird bigot who is ascared that his desired White European culture cannot compete on the free market with all those brown people hanging around is something that would not be possible without Donald Trump:

    We should remember that Trumpism has done a lot for us.

    Without Trumpism, there’s no way this guy would have the nerve to say this publicly […] This is a new one, for sure. Thanks, Trump! […]

  130. says

    A representative of Neil Gorsuch’s dark-money benefactors attended his White House swearing-in ceremony:

    Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was made possible in part by the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $17 million lobbying to keep Merrick Garland off the bench—and to get Gorsuch on it. Where did all that money come from? We don’t know, because it was almost entirely dark money, funneled through a Koch-allied conduit that keeps its donors secret. But the JCN isn’t entirely anonymous: It has a public face in Carrie Severino, the group’s chief counsel and policy director. Severino essentially served as Gorsuch’s lobbyist, throwing money around to ensure his confirmation. […] Severino attended Gorsuch’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House Rose Garden on Monday morning.

    Severino’s presence at Monday’s ceremony serves as a startling reminder that Gorsuch’s path to the Supreme Court was facilitated by dark money. The JCN is kept afloat by one donor, the Wellspring Committee, which is in turn funded primarily by one single anonymous donor. Wellspring is little more than a dark-money conduit—but as a “social welfare” 501(c)(4) group, it is not required to disclose its donors. Ann Corkery, a Koch-affiliated conservative fundraiser, runs Wellspring; her husband, Neil Corkery, serves as JCN’s treasurer. […]

    The JCN became quite adept at buying state Supreme Court seats, mastering the art of the eleventh-hour smear campaign. But blocking President Barack Obama nominee Merrick Garland—and helping Gorsuch seize the seat instead—was its boldest gambit yet. The JCN began peddling offensive falsehoods about Obama’s shortlisters before the president even settled on Garland. Severino herself then contributed to the mendacious assault on Garland’s reputation, aided by National Review, which happily published her paid opinions. […]

    The group is devoted to secrecy and to ideological purity: Before the election, it ran ads criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts as a “bad GOP appointment” because he did not invalidate the Affordable Care Act.

    Gorsuch is surely aware that the JCN played a vital role in elevating him to the bench, even if he does not yet know who funded its efforts. He will now face constant pressure to ensure that the organization receives a return on its investment. […]

    Slate link

    Bottom line: rich people bought a seat on the Supreme Court.

  131. blf says

    Nonsense like this has happened before, perhaps not on such a scale but involving schoolchildren. In 2013 Utah’s state-endorsed Earth Day poster contest had the theme Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?†, and in 2012, How Do YOU Use Oil, Gas, and Mining?. At the time, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported (Endorsed by Utah, Earth Day poster contest sparks outrage):

    Poster competition asks kids to tout the benefits of fossil fuels.
    […]
    According to contest rules, the posters should illustrate how mineral resources support our quality of life.

    For instance: Coal, oil and natural gas provide most of the energy we use for heat, light, and electricity. We use mined materials and petroleum products every day in gasoline, cars, computers, skateboards, home-building materials, and tools, the rules state.

    Also see Schoolchildren Asked To Celebrate Fossil Fuels And Mining Through Art On Earth Day.

      † My quick first idea for a poster for that theme would be side-by-side photographs from as close to the same vantage point, etc., as possible, labeled “Without” and With, the With showing a ruined wasteland of strip mines, etc., and the “Without” how it was before the mines, etc., existed. However, I rather suspect that would not have been what the nutters wanted.

  132. says

    This is Sean Spicer’s answer to a question about the hypocrisy behind using Tomahawk Cruise missiles to send a message that it is not nice to gas “beautiful babies” with chemical weapons, while simultaneously denying those same babies to enter the U.S. as refugees:

    Deescalating the conflict there containing ISIS is the greatest aspect of humanitarian relief that we can provide first and foremost. Secondly, creating areas in which we can work with allies, including Russian, and committing to ensuring that there are places that are free from violence and there are places that are free for people to gather, is another.

    Yeah, yeah. Please note that Spicer is telling us that the babies in Syria are still on the list of refugees banned from entering the USA. Please also note that Spicer identified Russian as one of our “allies.” Presumably, Iran is now also our ally?

    Also, the word salad about “deescalating the conflict” also contains an implied excuse for greatly reducing the flow of foreign aid that used to help refugees in Jordan, etc. So, less foreign aid, no entry for dangerous babies, and a pledge to treat Russia as an ally. How does that equal “humanitarian relief”? What could go wrong?

  133. says

    blf @179, otherwise the poor hydrocarbons might get their feelings hurt.

    Addendum to my comments in #180: Please also note that the AP reported that the Russians knew about the chemical attack in Russia. At the very least, they did not stop it. At the worst, they may have abetted the attack. That’s some “ally.”

  134. says

    Just for the out-of-control ick factor, here are some of the details from events that led to the resignation of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley:

    […] Bentley greeted hotel staff in boxers, thinking Mason [former top advisor, Rebekah Mason] was at the door. […]

    Security scrambled to locate Bentley after fights with his ex-wife. […]

    Bentley and Mason’s mushy texts were synced to his ex-wife’s iPad: Unbeknownst to the governor and Mason, the frequent romantic texts they exchanged were all visible to Dianne Bentley. The governor’s state-issued cell phone’s cloud was linked to his state-issued iPad, which he had gifted to his then-wife, allowing her to watch the rumored affair unfold in real time. […] In spring 2014, he mistakenly sent a text to his wife reading, “I love you Rebekah,” along with an emoji of a red rose.

    Bentley coerced law enforcement into assisting with and covering up his affair […]

    Did I mention that Bentley is in his seventies, and that he threatened his wife’s staffer: “You will never work in the State of Alabama again if you tell anyone about this.”

    Excerpt from the texts seen on the iPad:

    “I’m so in love with you,” Bentley wrote to Mason in one text, along with two heart-eye emojis. “We are pitiful.”

    “Poor Robert. Poor Rebekah,” he added.

    “Yes… Bless our hearts… And other parts,” Mason wrote back.

    “Magnetic,” Bentley replied.

    Talking Points Memo link

  135. says

    Follow-up to comment 177.

    Leonard Leo is one of the rich guys responsible for putting conservatives on the Supreme Court. Writing for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin profiled Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society.

    […]Leo has for many years been the executive vice-president of the Federalist Society, a nationwide organization of conservative lawyers, based in Washington. Leo served, in effect, as Trump’s subcontractor on the selection of Gorsuch, who was confirmed by a vote of 54–45, last week, after Republicans changed the Senate rules to forbid the use of filibusters. […] During the Administration of George W. Bush, Leo also played a crucial part in the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Now that Gorsuch has been confirmed, Leo is responsible, to a considerable extent, for a third of the Supreme Court.

    […] “When Leonard walks in that room, everyone knows who he is,” Carrie Severino, the chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, another conservative organization that worked on Gorsuch’s behalf, said. “If you care about the conservative legal movement, you always take note of Leonard.”

    See comment 177 for more info on the dark money behind the Judicial Crisis Network.

    […] His grandfather was a vice-president of Brooks Brothers, and he instilled in young Leonard a taste for the bella figura. Leo wears tailored suits, often with contrasting waistcoats, and a double-length gold fob attached to a 1935 train conductor’s pocket watch. […]

    Leo’s role in the judicial nominations has drawn fierce criticism from liberals. Nan Aron, who is the longtime president of the Alliance for Justice […] told me, “The Federalist Society has for years been singularly focussed on building a farm team of judicial nominees who subscribe to a philosophy that is hostile to the advancement of social and economic progress in the country. […] they are very engaged in identifying and recruiting for judges candidates who are ultra-conservatives—who are opposed to our rights and liberties across the board, whether it’s women, the environment, consumer protections, worker protections.” […]

    According to Leo, the vast majority of abortions are a consequence of voluntary, consensual sexual encounters, […] “We can have a debate about abortion,” he told me. “It’s a very simple one for me. It’s an act of force. It’s a threat to human life. It’s just that simple.”

    […] “No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo.” […]

    On November 15, 2007, nearly two thousand people filled the great hall of Washington’s cavernous Union Station for a black-tie celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Federalist Society. President George W. Bush attended, Chief Justice John Roberts sent a video salute, and three other sitting Justices—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito—appeared in person to pay tribute. Scalia and Thomas spoke about the group’s origins, a story that is critical to its mythology.

    The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by three law students, at the University of Chicago and at Yale. […] As the Federalists see it, the society’s founders were scrappy outsiders who were waging a lonely struggle against the pervasive liberalism of America’s law schools. […]

    Gorsuch has long had close ties to the Federalist network. He acknowledged as much in his Senate questionnaire, writing, “I have attended and spoken at some of the organization’s gatherings. I have also sometimes spoken to individual Federalist Society chapters at various law schools.” This understates the depth of the connection. […] Gorsuch gave the Olson lecture in 2013, […] as is frequently the case with the Federalist Society, the social dimension of the Olson lecture is as important as the official program. “The lecture is always at the Mayflower, but we often have a dinner afterward, always at a good restaurant, and usually a couple of the Justices come, […]”

  136. says

    Sc @ 42 – I appreciate the reasoned response. It is the sole reply to me that gave me pause. I have been lurking since, because quite honestly, there is not a better place I have found, anywhere on the internet, to get the real news so skillfully analyzed and distilled down to its core components. The moral and ethical insight offered by yourself, and Lynna, and blf and KG and so many others here is enlightening and valuable beyond compare, to me at least. From this comment forward I will continue only to lurk and maybe post a link to something I think was missed or would be valuable, but I will avoid further commentary or engagement with out a heaping pile full of offline thought before I type again.

    To Tashiliciously Shriked – I will apologize once again because my first apology was not clear enough. I did not know that you are an often contributor here, and I misunderstood the situation. I could have searched it and put your comment into context. I could have taken just an extra few minutes to think about it, but I didn’t. I responded in an emotional way and there was really no reason for it in retrospect. I have no excuse, it was wrong and I apologize. I will do my best to refrain from rushing to judgement and going into attack mode in the future. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve done it. It’s a part of my male aggression that I wish I could shed by simply deciding to do so, but it’s not so easy. I will continue to work on it and hope to refrain from such actions / words in the future. I am sorry that I upset you.

    To chigau – please stop trolling me. I asked you nicely twice to let it drop. I think you knew that I wouldn’t react well if you kept pressing, but you did it anyway and you triggered me into responding in a way that I didn’t want to.

    I of course am the only one responsible for the words that spew from my fingers, but I’m also human, and can be poked and prodded to the point that I respond with anger. I know that I have control issues, and that I am easily riled when I am not feeling centered. I am in therapy for those issues. The other night was failure on my part, but I don’t need any help.

    Lately, the news has me on edge, as it does all of you I am sure. It has to, if it doesn’t, then you are either burying your head in the sand or are on the wrong side of the many issues over which we are fighting. I have faith that everyone here is on my side. That’s why I come here. I am sorry that my mental health issues flare up when under such stress, and I know it is my responsibility and mine only to control my own outbursts, but I think it’s fair to ask the community to give me some benefit of the doubt considering the circumstances.

    That is all. From here on out I shall lurk or link only, until I feel calm enough to further engage.

  137. says

    Mark Sumner discussed how Trump is using the Congressional Review Act to tear down Obama’s legacy.

    Republicans are aces when it comes to taking obscure rules and using them to kick democracy where it hurts. Before Trump dropped into the White House between rounds of golf at Mar-a-Lago, the Congressional Review Act had been used just a single time. George W. Bush pulled it out in 2001 to kill an ergonomics rule at the Department of Labor (So if your back is hurting, you know who to thank). On three other occasions, Republicans in Congress brought a CRA bill to Bush over some Clinton-era rule, but Bush vetoed those bills.

    Under President Obama, not a single CRA bill was implemented. […]

    However, with Trump ready to sign anything that drops in front of him, Congress has been on a CRA tear. In the first 11 weeks of Trump in the White House, Congress matched him week-for-week, passing 11 bills under the CRA that repeal rule changes made by the Obama administration.

    In fact, those 11 CRA resolutions are the only substantive bills Trump has signed so far; it’s quite possible that the CRA will produce the entire legislative legacy of his first 100 days. […]

    1.) They’ve crushed a rule that forced energy companies to reveal when they were bribing foreign governments.

    Trump’s very first CRA bill was an anti-anti-corruption measure, blocking an Obama effort to force oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had personally lobbied against the rule as CEO of ExxonMobil, telling lawmakers that undisclosed payments were vital to Exxon’s business in Russia.

    2.) They made it easier for coal companies to dump waste into streams and rivers and conduct mountaintop removal mining.

    3.) They removed a rule that said anyone who had been declared mentally incapable of managing their own assets should not be able to buy a gun.

    4.) They removed requirements that defense contractors obey labor laws.

    5.) They limited the ability of the government to restrict the use of federal lands.

    6.) The killed accountability on state education targets for elementary and secondary schools.

    7.) While they were at it, they killed rules on teacher training.

    8.) They made it easier for states to drug test people before they could get unemployment pay.

    9.) They made it legal to shoot hibernating bears and wolves in National Wildlife Refuges (yeah, they really did).

    10.) They weakened rules that employers have to keep track of employee injuries and illness.

    11.) They made it legal for communications companies to sell your Internet history without your permission. […]

    So far Trump has vetoed not a single bill brought to him, so expect Congress to keep these flowing. Because of the rules around the CRA, these bills can pass through the Senate on a simple majority. As long as Republicans can find an Obama rule to attack, they will keep these coming. […]

  138. KG says

    Lynna@176,
    I’m sceptical about Mateschitz’s willingness to come out as a stinking racist being down to Trump and Trumpism – as is at least one commenter on the article. Remember that a Nazi very nearly got elected as President of Austria last year. Austrian Nazis and Nazism were never subjected even to the very limited rooting out from positions of influence that happened in West Germany; instead, Austrians were told they were the first victims of Nazi aggression, and the post-war Austrian “liberal” party, the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, was founded by a former SS officer, and stood for pan-Germanism. It became overtly far-right in 1986, since when it has been a serious force in Austrain politics.

  139. says

    “Hungary’s president signs law that could oust Soros-founded college”:

    Hungary’s president late on Monday signed legislation on foreign universities that could force a top international school founded by U.S. financier George Soros out of the country, triggering a fresh protest in Budapest against the move.

    Tens of thousands of Hungarians had rallied on Sunday in one of the biggest demonstrations against right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s 7-year-old rule, denouncing a law that critics and opposition parties say targets the Central European University (CEU) set up by Soros, a Hungarian-born global campaigner for liberal “open society.”

    Late on Monday hundreds of protesters walked to the state radio office, in a spontaneous rally, and put up a European Union flag on the building, according to a video posted on local website Index. Protesters faced a line of police and Index said police used paprika spray* on them. The protest ended about 0020 GMT on Tuesday.

    Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday.

    More than 500 leading international academics, including 17 Nobel Laureates, have come out in support of CEU, founded in Budapest in 1991 after the collapse of communism, saying it was one of the pre-eminent centers of thought in Hungary….

    * !

  140. says

    In other Hungary-related news, there’s more – overwhelming – evidence of Sebastian Gorka’s involvement with the Nazi organization Vitezi Rend. A recent article also included this interesting tidbit:

    In the 1980s, Sebastian Gorka’s mother, Susan Gorka, worked as a translator for David Irving, the discredited British historian who caused outrage by suggesting the Holocaust did not happen, or was at least greatly exaggerated.

    A British judge ruled in 2000 that Irving was a “Holocaust denier … anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.” And in 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison in Austria on charges of denying the Holocaust.

    Irving wrote an email to NBC News describing his warm working relationship with Susan Gorka.

    “His mother was very helpful, checked translations in the 1980s and tapes of interviews,” Irving said. “My impression of both Gorkas [Susan and Paul] was at all times good.”

    NBC News attempted to ask Sebastian Gorka about his mother’s involvement with Irving but he declined to answer detailed questions.

    (Incidentally, I recommend the movie Denial. Unfortunately it was released around the election and so didn’t receive much attention.)

  141. says

    Cyber-criminal Pyotr Levashov was arrested in Spain* over the weekend at the request of the FBI. It could be a criminal matter unrelated to the Kremlin’s interference in the US election, but some suspect more. Rachel Maddow opened her show last night with it. Here’s Malcolm Nance on Lawrence O’Donnell last night talking about it excitedly.

    * Seems these international criminals might want to come up with some alternative vacation destinations…

  142. blf says

    A bit of a follow-up to @160, @162, and @163, Saffiyah Khan meets woman she defended at EDL demo (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […] Saffiyah Khan had intervened to defend another woman who was being shouted at by EDL demonstrators. On Monday, Khan and the woman she defended, Saira Zafar, met properly for the first time and the two proud Brummies hugged.

    “I just want to say thanks a lot for your help and for stepping forward and supporting me in that situation,” said Zafar. “It did really mean a lot. And together we defeated the EDL, I would say, at that rally.”

    Khan spent Monday dealing with calls from journalists and was sent tickets to see the Specials in May because she was wearing the band’s T-shirt in the photograph.

    […]

    Writing on Facebook, the EDL member in the picture, Ian Crossland, the group’s leader, described Khan as a dirty unwashed leftwing scrubber.

    He added: The disrespectful witch chose the minute’s silence for the victims of the terror attack in Stockholm and Westminster. She’s lucky she’s got any teeth left.

    Khan said there was video evidence that contradicted the EDL’s claim and that anyone who knows her knows she would not have done that.

    Tommy Robinson, the EDL’s former leader, tweeted that the picture was embarrassing.

    “OK, just had confirmed by a friend who was at EDL demo, this lady was defending a woman in a navy hijab as she said to the papers,” he wrote. “{And} I don’t care how many people don’t like me saying that, the truth is the truth. {And} the picture is embarrassing.”

    Zafar said: “I was a little bit confused about what he said because, as far as I’m aware, he was completely supportive of the exact narrative that the EDL preach.”

    “The picture definitely is embarrassing for the EDL,” added Khan. “Personally I don’t know how much I agree with him, but that statement is bang on.”

    “There’s no need for anything like this,” said Zafar, reflecting on the past two days. “I’m sure we’re more than capable of living together, united despite our differences.”

    […]

    (There is also a video at the link which is the same view interview with Ms Kahn as in the previous links. I suspect this is a mistake by the Grauniad, as the thumbnail and caption suggests it is supposed to be a video interview with both of these two extremely poised and confident young ladies.)

  143. says

    KG @186, I agree. We can’t blame every expression of support for Nazism on Trump. Lot’s of Nazi-wannabes have been thriving well on their own, without Trump.

    In other news, Trump took credit, again, for jobs he did not create.

    President Donald Trump lent his office to Japanese automaker Toyota on Monday, saying the company’s announcement of a $1.33 billion investment in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant was evidence that confidence in the economic climate “has greatly improved under my administration.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-celebrates-toyota-press-release-investment

    The press release Trump quoted (in part) came from Toyota, not from the White House.

    The $1.3 billion investment added 700 jobs at the plant in Kentucky. Those jobs were added last year! At the time, Toyota did not know that Trump was going to be president.

    And, of course, we have the usual background to a Trump claim for jobs/investment credit: the expansion plan had been in the works for years. Bloomberg link.

    […] The outlays in Georgetown, Kentucky, aren’t new — they’ve been in the works for years. But the way they’re being marketed is. Instead of emphasizing cost efficiency, Toyota is highlighting ample spending and the previously announced addition of 700 jobs. The president has taken notice. […]

    From the New York Times:

    […] Asked if Mr. Trump’s policies played a role in the decision, Mr. Vazin said, “No, but we do share his goal of growing the economy and jobs in the U.S.” […]

  144. says

    SC @190, that interview with Malcom Nance was good. In a very succinct way, Nance explained the relationship between criminal hackers in Russia and state-sponsored hacking ordered by Putin.

    Rachel Maddow’s coverage of the arrest of a Russian hacker in Spain.

    WIRED covered the story, focusing on how “the FBI took down Russia’s spam king—and his massive bonnet.”

    ONE OF THE world’s most notorious spammers appears to have been tripped up by a basic cybersecurity no-no, according to the FBI: He used the same log-in credentials to both run his criminal enterprise and also log into sites like iTunes.

    The Justice Department announced Monday that it had successfully targeted a man prosecutors called “one of the world’s most notorious criminal spammers,” a Russian hacker known as Peter Yuryevich Levashov, also known as Peter Severa, or “Peter of the North.” Levashov had long run the Kelihos botnet, a global network of infected computers that collectively flooded email inboxes worldwide with spam, stole banking credentials from infected users, and spread malware across the internet.

    Spanish authorities arrested Levashov, who normally resides in St. Petersburg, Russia, while he was on vacation with his family. Rumors had swirled over the weekend, sourced only to a vague report on the Russian propaganda network RT, that he’d been involved in that country’s meddling with the 2016 US presidential election, but there was no hint of that in Monday’s Justice Department complaint, which focused instead on Levashov’s role in developing and running one of the internet’s most pernicious and longest-running botnets. Levashov’s operation had infected as many as 100,000 computers worldwide, roughly five to ten percent of which were inside the United States. […]

    As part of the operation, security researchers and the FBI teamed up to dismantle the Kelihos botnet itself, targeting three domains used to run the network—gorodkoff.com, goloduha.info, and combach.com—and redirecting traffic from infected computers to new servers controlled by authorities and the ShadowServer Foundation, a volunteer anti-cybercrime group, a process that’s known in cybersecurity circles as “sink-holing.” […]

    it’s hard to miss the fingerprints of Special Agent Elliott Peterson—a veteran of the FBI’s crack cyber squad in Pittsburgh who transferred recently to the Anchorage Field Office, where Monday’s announcement was made.

    To defeat Kelihos technically, Peterson worked closely with two Crowdstrike engineers, Brett Stone-Gross and Tillman Werner, who traveled to Alaska last week. The three men had also teamed up in Pittsburgh in 2014 to defeat the GameOver Zeus botnet, built by Evgeny Bogachev, who today is America’s most wanted hacker, with a $3 million reward for his capture […]

    As for the tenuous election hacking connection, it may have stemmed from rumors online that Levashov may have ties to Russian security forces or intelligence agencies, relationships that would be consistent with other high-profile, powerful Russian hackers. That alleged affiliation wouldn’t be unusual; Bogachev’s GameOver Zeus botnet was deployed to help gather intelligence on Ukrainian targets during Russia’s invasion of Crimea in the spring of 2014, and, more recently, the March Yahoo indictment documented ties between one well-known hacker, Alexsey Belan, and Russian officials with the FSB, its domestic intelligence agency that succeeded the KGB. This indictment, though, doesn’t mention the presidential campaign whatsoever […]

  145. says

    Ivanka Trump, advisor on military tactics?

    Trump’s 33-year-old son, Eric, told The Daily Telegraph on Monday that the strike was influenced in part by Ivanka, who he said was “heartbroken and outraged” by the chemical attack.

    NBC News link

  146. says

    Yes, legislators in Texas passed a voter ID law that was racist:

    In a brief order handed down Monday evening, a federal district court held that Texas’ voter ID law was “passed, at least in part, with a discriminatory intent in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” […]

    According to data cited by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which will hear any appeal of Monday’s order, in Texas “Blacks were 1.78 times more likely than Whites, and Latinos 2.42 times more likely, to lack” voter ID.

    The Fifth Circuit previously held that Texas’ law had a greater impact on minority voters than on whites, a fact that in and of itself makes the law illegal under the Voting Rights Act. Nevertheless, the district court’s Monday order is significant for two reasons.

    First, as voting rights expert Rick Hasen notes, if the district court’s order is upheld on appeal, “it would be grounds for throwing out the entire law (and not just softening it though an affidavit requirement, etc.).”

    Additionally, while a 5–4 Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2012  […]  a separate provision of the Voting Rights Act permits states that engage in intentional voting discrimination to be brought back under federal supervision.

    Monday’s order in Veasey v. Abbott notes several factors that suggest the law was enacted for the purpose of discriminating against African Americans and Latinos, including the law’s disparate impact on these voters and the fact that state lawmakers rushed the state’s voter ID law “through the legislative process without the usual committee analysis, debate, and substantive consideration of amendments.”

    The court also noted that, “Texas had become a majority-minority state” with “polarized voting patterns allowing the suppression of the overwhelmingly Democratic votes of African–Americans and Latinos to provide an Anglo partisan advantage.” The state’s Republican legislature, in other words, could use race as a proxy for partisan affiliation. By passing a law that would disproportionately target African Americans and Latinos, lawmakers could protect Republican rule. […]

    Think Progress link

  147. says

    Racism and Nazism in Arizona:

    The historic Goodyear Farms cemetery, also known as Pioneer Cemetery, was vandalized Friday with anti-immigrant racial slurs and a swastika, according to police. The grave of one Hispanic man appeared to be graffitied with “wetback.”

    According to cemetery visitors, this is not the first time it has been vandalized, but never before with racist graffiti. The community said the cemetery serves as a memorial to the agricultural history of Avondale and the sacrifices of the men and women who worked there for generations. […]

    The quoted text is a translation of a Spanish-language news segment from Univision.

  148. says

    Attorney General and General Dunderhead, Jeff Sessions, has been making a lot of noise lately about renewing the war on drugs. Sessions is particularly exercised over the fact that, in some states, the sale of marijuana is legal.

    Some of those states, fearing the worst, are taking steps to protect marijuana users from federal agents. Oregon is one example:

    Oregon state lawmakers who fear heightened marijuana enforcement by federal agents overwhelmingly approved Monday a proposal to protect pot users from having their identities or cannabis-buying habits from being divulged […]

    “Given the immediate privacy issues … this is a good bill protecting the privacy of Oregonians choosing to purchase marijuana,” state Rep. Carl Wilson, a Republican who helped sponsor the bill, said before the final vote.

    Upon the bill’s signing into law, Oregon pot retailers would have 30 days to destroy their customers’ data from their databases and would be banned from such record-keeping in the future. Recreational pot buyers could still choose, however, to sign up for dispensary email lists to get promotional coupons or birthday discounts. The bill’s provisions do not apply to medical marijuana patients. […]

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said medical cannabis has been “hyped, maybe too much” and is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. […]

    […] In Colorado, lawmakers are now considering a new pathway for pot growers and retailers to instantaneously reclassify their recreational weed as medical. […]

    MSN News link

  149. says

    Attorney General and General Dunderhead, Jeff Sessions, is striking another blow against justice. He is dissing independent experts in forensic science:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday he is ending an Obama-era partnership with independent scientists that aimed to improve the reliability of forensic science, as longstanding concerns remain about the quality of such evidence in court cases.

    The Justice Department will not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a panel of judges, defense attorneys, researchers and law enforcement officials that had been advising the attorney general on the use of scientific evidence in the criminal justice process. The department will instead appoint an in-house adviser and create an internal committee to study improvements to forensic analysis, Sessions said. […]

    “As we decide how to move forward, we bear in mind that the department is just one piece of the larger criminal justice system,” said Sessions in a statement, adding that most forensic science is done by state and local laboratories and used by local prosecutors.

    The Obama administration formed the commission in 2013 to address wide-ranging concerns about problematic forensic techniques. […]

    The quoted text is from The New York Times.

  150. says

    Team Trump is managing to mismanage (fuck up) the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House.

    […] The staff of the company, based in Buckfield, Me., wondered whether the Trumps planned to continue distributing the wooden eggs as party favors, or whether they were even going to have a White House Easter Egg Roll at all. […]

    The late start in planning by the Trump White House points to a smaller and less ambitious Egg Roll than in previous years. There may be half as many guests, a fraction of the number of volunteers to manage the invasion of the South Lawn, and military bands in place of A-list entertainers like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel and Silentó who have performed for Egg Rolls past. […]

    The ovoid uncertainty had raised a question perhaps not as consequential as investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election, a legally dubious travel ban and a collapsed health care bill, but no less a window into the inner workings of the Trump administration: Could this White House, plagued by slow hiring and lacking an on-site first lady, manage to pull off the largest, most elaborate and most heavily scrutinized public event of the year?

  151. says

    Attorney General and General Dunderhead Jeff Sessions gave a speech today at the USA-Mexico border. Sessions was in Nogales, Arizona. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

    We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.

    It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand. […]

  152. says

    More lies concerning job creation from Hair Furor:

    […] Trump claimed credit Tuesday for the creation of more than 600,000 jobs since he entered office, a figure tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — off his administration’s true job creation totals. […]

    “You see what’s going on. You see the numbers,” Trump continued. “We’ve created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time, and it’s gonna really start catching on now because some of the things that we’ve done are big league, and they are catching on. Already, we’ve created more than almost 600,000 jobs.”

    It’s unclear where Trump’s figure came from. The president has in the past spouted information that is inaccurate and at times demonstrably false. […]

    According to Labor Department data, the U.S. economy added a combined 317,000 jobs in February and March, the first full months Trump’s presidency. About 98,000 of those jobs were added last month.

    Most economists would reject the assertion that Trump had much to do with shaping job growth during his first two months. But even if he claimed full credit for January’s 216,000 jobs as well, despite having been president for less than two weeks that month, his administration’s job creation total would be 533,000, still well short of his 600,000 figure. […]

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/trump-overstates-job-creation-237110

  153. says

    Follow-up to comment 204.

    Another excerpt from the speech Sessions gave today:

    […] For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned. This is a new era. This is the Trump era.

    The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.

    Who wrote that crap? Was it Bannon and Miller? Sessions read from prepared text. He left out the word “filth” in describing some people who cross the border, but “filth” was in the original text.

  154. says

    While talking about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Sean Spicer said during his press briefing:

    You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.

    Say fucking What?!

    Hitler used cyanide gas to commit mass murder of Jews.

    Spicer tried to walk back his stupid comment:

    When it comes to Sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.

    […] He [Hitler] brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. I was saying in the way that Assad used them where he went into town, dropped them into the middle of town. […]

  155. says

    Efforts are being made to remind Jeff Sessions how to do a good job:

    […] a brigade of high-profile progressive groups [sent a] letter to the attorney general in which they reminded him that it’s illegal to consider “actual or perceived political affiliation” while making personnel decisions. The letter—which was signed by the ACLU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and a new team of former Obama attorneys called United to Protect Democracy—makes reference to a dark period in DOJ history, when a George W. Bush-era political appointee named Bradley Schlozman carried out a brazenly partisan campaign to hire conservatives into the Civil Rights Division and to marginalize the liberals among the career staff. […]

    A group of retrograde conservatives are urging Jeff Sessions to do the opposite. For example, recommendations from conservatives included advising Sessions to “return to race-neutral Voting Rights Act enforcement,” and to find ways to oust people “who are reliably opposed to President Trump’s agenda.”

    […] there should be a way for the people running Trump’s DOJ to pursue their enforcement priorities without improperly politicizing the agency. But it’s unclear whether that’s possible in practice, or where it leaves the hundreds of dedicated civil rights lawyers who joined the DOJ because they wanted to do the kinds of work the new administration doesn’t seem to believe in.

    The message Sessions is likely to take away from the letter he received today—assuming he reads it—is that the work of reshaping the DOJ to reflect his ideology will require subtlety, wiles, and a heap of plausible deniability. If the organizations that signed the letter are serious about stopping him, that’s the kind of playbook they should be getting ready for.

    Slate link

  156. says

    Here’s an update on the companies who have pulled their ads from Bill O’Reilly’s show The O’Reilly Factor:

    ADT, Advil, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Allergan, Allstate, Amica Insurance, AncestryDNA.com, Angie’s List, AstraZeneca, Bamboo HR, Bausch + Lomb, Bayer, BeenVerified, BMW of North America, Capital One, CARFAX, Coldwell Banker, Constant Contact, Consumer Cellular, Credit Karma, Crowne Plaza Hotels, Eli Lilly, Esurance, Flex Seal, Freshpet, Geico, GlaxoSmithKline, GoodRx, H&R Block, Home Advisor, Hulu, Hyundai, Infiniti, InnoGames, It’s Just Lunch, Jenny Craig, Land Rover, Laser Spine Institue, LegalZoom, LendingTree, Lexus, Liberty Mutual, Lumber Liquidators, Mahindra, Mattress Firm, Mercedes-Benz, MileIQ, Miracle Ear, Mitsubishi, Moberg Pharma, Monsanto, Next Day Blinds, Old Dominion Freight Line, Orkin, Pacific Life, Peloton, Perillo Tours, Pfizer, Progressive, The Propane Council, Reddi Wip, Ring.com, Sanofi, Scottevest, Society for Human Resource Management, Southern New Hampshire University, Stanley Steemer, Subaru, Sunsweet Growers, T. Rowe Price, Touchnote, Trivago, TrueCar, UNTUCKit, Verizon, VisionWorks, Voya Financial, WayFair, WeatherTech, The Wonderful Company, and Xfinity.

    In summary, the show usually airs about 40 ads per show, but that number is now down to about 8-12 ads per show.

  157. says

    Dear Washington Post Editors, you can do better than this.

    The Washington Post is allowing writer Ed Rogers to push for and praise military action against Syria without disclosing that he’s a lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, which makes the Tomahawk missiles used in the recent strike. […]

    In the piece — headlined “Could it be? Is President Trump on a roll?” — Rogers wrote that Trump “received bipartisan support for his military strike in Syria,” and added that the fact Trump “launched an attack against Syria while his Chinese counterpart was present and able to witness the aftermath in the media was a powerful stroke of good luck for the White House. […]

    The Post did not disclose that Rogers and his firm, BGR Group, lobbies on behalf of Raytheon, which manufactures the million-dollar Tomahawk missiles. BGR received $120,000 in 2016 for lobbying on “Defense and communications procurement; Defense appropriations and authorizations,” according to its lobbying disclosure reports […]. Rogers is listed as a lobbyist in those forms. BGR is one of the country’s largest lobbying firms, taking in nearly $17 million in reported lobbying income last year. […]

    Link

  158. says

    This is a follow-up to comment 207.

    Sean Spicer is receiving negative feedback for his comments about Hitler:

    The Anne Frank Center is calling for White House press secretary Sean Spicer to be fired after his Tuesday comments claiming Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II.

    In a statement posted on Facebook, the center’s executive director blasted Spicer, saying the White House spokesman “lacks the integrity” to serve in his post.

    “On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death,” Steven Goldstein said in a statement.

    “Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary.”

    He added: “President Trump must fire him at once.” […]

    The Hill link

  159. says

    Spicer also said that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people …” Excuse me, but yes he was. Hitler used gas on Germans (as well as on other fellow humans). The only way you can make sense of “not his own people” is if you exempt Jews from being citizens, and you turn Jews into “those people” or “other people” or “enemies.”

    Spicer’s mind is a sludge pond.

    Spicer’s latest attempt at an apology:

    In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.

    Yeah, not buying it, Sean. You wanted to make Assad into an exceptional monster so that you could justify Trump’s illegal barrage of Tomahawk missiles. You actually don’t need flawed Hitler analogies to highlight Assad’s war crimes. You do need congressional approval to bomb him. And it would be preferable if team Trump had a strategy that went beyond “Ivanka was heartbroken.”

  160. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] This is actually complicated since there is an important point to be made here – just Spicer is too much of an idiot to make it. It is a testament to the power of the international ban on the use of chemical weapons that even while he was committing an historic genocide and committing mass murder in the east even separate from the killing of Jews, Hitler still didn’t use battlefield chemical weapons as they had been used in World War I.

    This tells us nothing about what “level” Hitler would sink to. There was no level Hitler wouldn’t sink to. Hitler and his followers invented industrialized genocide. […]

    […] using chemical weapons against the allies might have prompted them to do the same in return. Somewhere on the list was likely the fact that chemical weapons aren’t always very effective tactical weapons compared to conventional arms. Wind changes direction. A well trained army trains soldiers to use gas masks. It’s no accident that since World War I, the rare uses of chemical weapons have been as terror weapons against civilians, as Saddam Hussein did with the Kurds in the 1980s and Assad has during the Syrian Civil War.

    […] The point about Hitler and battlefield chemical weapons isn’t that he wouldn’t ‘stoop’ to a level that Assad would. That’s a morally and historically imbecilic argument. It’s that global bans and norms can sometimes restrain the actions even of the most evil and genocidal people. This is probably the best argument about why these norms are important to enforce.

    Of course, Hitler was also carrying out the Final Solution and millions of the dead died by gassing in organized killing centers. (People are much less familiar with the fact that a huge amount of the early killing was done with firearms and mass graves in the east as the German Army overran Poland and Ukraine.) This is gas used as a killing agent, not in shells.

    […] this is a moronic path to go down when trying to make propaganda points against Assad and Russia. Spicer is simply too big a boob not to know this and too inept to clean up his mess without digging deeper.

    This doesn’t defend Hitler and it doesn’t defend Spicer’s doofusery. This wasn’t a level Hitler wouldn’t ‘stoop’ to. The point is precisely that these norms can be important to defend precisely because they can constrain the evil as much as the good and the indifferent. The non-use of chemical weapons in World War II is a good illustration of that.

  161. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust.

    Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements. Either he is speaking for the President, or the President should have known better than to hire him.

  162. says

    On, FFS. Look what was up on Fox Business News yesterday as one of the “top stories”:

    Assad is Worse Than Hitler: Syrian Chemical Weapon Survivor

    And look what was up on Newsmax 15 hours ago:

    Syrian Chemical Attack Survivor Calls Assad “Worse Than Hitler”

    Hmmm, that makes it more likely that the offensive Hitler analogy came from the bloviating Orange Hair Furor himself, who probably watched it on Fox News and on Newsmax, and then mindlessly passed it on to Spicer.

  163. says

    Another salient point: Spicer referred to Assad’s victims as “innocent people,” but he did not refer to Hitler’s victims as “innocent people.”

    Spicer later changed “innocent people” to “population centers.” I don’t think he realizes that there is no way to fix this.

  164. says

    Follow-up to comment 220.

    Spicer finally included Hitler’s victims in the “innocent people” category in his third (or fourth) attempt at an apology. At least he is getting a little farther from totally obnoxious with each apology.

  165. says

    From Laurel Raymond:

    […] By suggesting that Hitler did not use chemical weapons, even though Hitler used gas chambers to kill millions, Spicer essentially called into question whether the Holocaust even happened at all. By saying that Assad is different than Hitler because he killed his own people, Spicer tacitly accepted the Nazi definition of German — implying, like they did, that German Jews were not actually German. And by defining Assad’s victims as innocent in apparent contrast to Hitler’s victims, Spicer’s comments play into the anti-Semitic notion that Hitler’s victims deserved their deaths. […]

    It’s unclear that Spicer actually intended to deny that the Holocaust occurred. But by echoing the statements of Holocaust deniers in multiple ways, he sent a clear dog-whistle of approval to anti-Semites; regardless of what he meant, what he said was a validation of Holocaust denial. […]

  166. says

    Spicer also said that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people …” Excuse me, but yes he was. Hitler used gas on Germans (as well as on other fellow humans). The only way you can make sense of “not his own people” is if you exempt Jews from being citizens, and you turn Jews into “those people” or “other people” or “enemies.”

    And this is a problem for the point Marshall is trying, strangely, to make. First, Spicer’s clarification made it plain that was he was saying had nothing to do with the battlefield-related argument Marshall is (weakly) suggesting; he was talking about using gas on civilians. Even more basically, Marshall’s claim that “The point about Hitler and battlefield chemical weapons isn’t that he wouldn’t ‘stoop’ to a level that Assad would. That’s a morally and historically imbecilic argument” is what Spicer actually said: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Second, Marshall’s distinction that in the case of Hitler “This is gas used as a killing agent, not in shells” doesn’t make sense historically. Hitler didn’t believe he was in a conventional war, but a global race war against “international Jewry” and the governments it controlled. Jewish civilians were, to him, the enemy, and he saw killing them with gas or by any means as an essential part of the war. (Third, I find this “Here’s an argument I think someone could reasonably make about this, which is somehow relevant despite the fact that it wasn’t the argument the person made” quite strange and useless, even if the alternative argument holds water, which Marshall’s doesn’t.)

  167. says

    From Louis Nelson and Madeline Conway:

    Largely lost in the outcry Tuesday was another dubious statement that Spicer made during the briefing.

    Responding to a question about the president’s stalled ban on Syrian refugees, Spicer suggested that the refugees are “not looking to flee” their war-torn country, which they are.

    In the quoted text, Spicer was trying, again, to excuse Trump for barring Syrian refugees from entering the USA.

  168. says

    Even more history, more facts, to contradict Sean Spicer:

    […] Prior to the construction of gas chambers, SS soldiers would drive around so-called “gas vans” — vehicles with hermetically sealed compartments that could be flooded with poison gas — and used them to execute Jews in, yes, their towns. […]

    Vox link

    In his long string of apologies and explanations Spicer did not apologize for saying that Assad was worse than Hitler.

  169. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Spicer’s idiocy:

    OK, let’s get a thing out of the way at the outset: Sean Spicer is A Idiot. So we will very charitably suggest that it’s possible that he had ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT HE WAS SAYING during his Tuesday briefing, when he suggested that this Syrian dude Assad is way worse than Hitler, because PFFFFFFT it’s not like Hitler gassed people.

    Wait, hold on, what? Back up. No, he just meant it was different because Assad gasses people from airplanes, whereas Hitler only did gassing at the “Holocaust Centers,” which we guess are like community centers, except for all the gassing.

    WAIT BACK UP AGAIN, WHAT? And of all weeks to chew his foot off on live TV and sound like a great big Holocaust denier, Spicer chose Passover week to make this fuck-up? […]

    Let’s start with Spicer’s first fuck-up, in response to a question from Fox News Radio’s John Decker [video at the link]

    […] Oh, DID HE NOT? Sorry to all the Jewish people (and Kurt Vonnegut readers) out there who know the name of the chemical weapon (Zyklon B) Hitler used to gas the Jews by heart, for you must have been mistaken. Happy Passover, though!

    Let’s try this again. ABC’s Cecilia Vargas asked for a clarification, and you need to watch the video, because as a Twitter-er points out, the faces of the reporters behind Vargas as Spicer tried to answer are WOW: [video at the link]

    […] OK wait, hold up. First of all, were German Jews not Hitler’s “own people”? Second, is Spicer saying he was kidding and he totally gets how Hitler gassed Jews (and LGBTs and other minorities also too), but he sees a big difference between whether you take people to the Holocaust Center before you Holocaust them, or if you just do it all willy-nilly doy doy doy out of airplanes? Is that MORE WORSER? Lastly, again, “HOLOCAUST CENTERS”?

    What in the name of fuck-all that is holy is he even trying to say?

    […] OK, no more “clarifying,” because it is time for Sean Spicer, Shut Your Fucking Mouth.

    We have an idea. We think that nobody in the Trump White House, except maybe Jared and Ivanka, is allowed to say anything about Jewish people ever again. Firstly, they are all BAD AT IT. Of course, who among us doesn’t accidentally deny the Holocaust here and there, JUST KIDDING FUCKING NONE OF US ACCIDENTALLY DENY THE HOLOCAUST HERE AND THERE. That is not a thing.

    This is a pattern. The Trump White House forgot to mention Jews in its statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Because if you mention Jews, you have to do a whole list of other people who were killed, and it’s a well known fact that lists are TOO LONG.) Shareblue’s Tommy Christopher points out that Trump didn’t see fit to go to the White House Passover seder. Meanwhile, there is an actual Hungarian Nazi named Sebastian Gorka serving as a senior adviser, and the fucking president of the United States is basically a Nazi himself, and his name is Steve Bannon.

    OH! OH! OH! Remember that time Sean Spicer picked a fight with the Anne Frank Center, because he thought they were being too whiny and refusing to acknowledge all the MANY GOOD THINGS Trump does for The Jews? […]

  170. says

    More draining of the swamp (/sarcasm):

    As a top aide to Florida’s attorney general, Carlos G. Muniz helped defend the office’s decision to sit out legal action against Trump University. Now the president is naming him to be the top lawyer in the U.S. Education Department.

    President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Muniz to serve as general counsel to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. […]

    Muniz, now in private practice, has also been the lead attorney defending Florida State University in a lawsuit by a former student who said the school failed to investigate after she said she was sexually assaulted by the star quarterback of the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship football team. […]

    An investigation by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights is still underway, presenting a potential conflict of interest if Muniz is confirmed. […]

    Emails show Muniz did help direct Bondi’s public defense on the issue, including rewriting an October 2013 fact sheet distributed to reporters.

    Days after Bondi’s office said it was reviewing the Trump U case, a political committee supporting her re-election received a $25,000 check from Trump’s charitable foundation. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, also added $500 more to support Bondi. […]

    After leaving Bondi’s office, Muniz became a partner at the Jacksonville, Florida, office of a large law and lobbying firm. […]

    https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/04/11/us/politics/ap-us-devos-trump-u.html

  171. blf says

    Bankers gottabe greedy ego-inflated liars (part 389,223), Judges reject US banker’s claim to be a genius in divorce case:

    […]
    Ruling on their divorce in 2015 Justice Holman told the businessman that his wealth contribution — which Work said totalled more than $300m in 10 years — was not “wholly exceptional” and rejected his claim to be a financial “genius”.

    “I personally find that a difficult, and perhaps unhelpful, word in this context,” Holman said. “To my mind, the word ‘genius’ tends to be overused and is properly reserved for Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein and others like them.”

    Ouch! That has to have left a burn.

  172. blf says

    This is (at least for the moment) a very short article with not much detail, Alabama senate votes to allow church to form own police force:

    Lawmakers vote 24–4 to let Birmingham church establish a law enforcement department despite critics’ concerns it could be used to cover up crimes

    […]

    [Briarwood Presbyterian church in Birmingham] says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

    Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes.

    […]

    Police experts have said such a police department would be unprecedented in the US.

    […]

    I assume policegoons in Alabama were demanding too much in bribes, so the churchmafia decided it was cheaper to buy some legislation.

  173. says

    “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page”:

    The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

    The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

    This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

    “This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page said in an interview Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.” He compared surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

    Among other things, the application cited contacts that he had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against another Russian agent. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.

    Since the 90-day warrant was first issued, it has been renewed more than once by the FISA court, the officials said….

  174. says

    Chronicle of a debunking foretold: “After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties tell CNN.”

  175. blf says

    What fucking Kansan goes to vote in a fucking special election, in this fucking moment, and votes for the fucking Libertarian?

    One who insists on never voting for any libtard but cannot stand whoever the current thug / teabugger is?

  176. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *rhetorical*
    Hmm…watching complaints about chemical weapons. As a chemist, what part any weapons aren’t chemical (even nuclear)? The explosives, rocket/bullet propulsion, metals in the guns, etc, where does innocent chemicals end, and bad chemicals/morality begin?
    */rhetorical*

  177. blf says

    [W]here does innocent chemicals end, and bad chemicals/morality begin?

    Foodbozo Test: If you can’t pronounce it, have no idea what it is, or simply don’t like the complicated name, then it’s bad, Bad, BAD! Like dihydrogen monoxide.

  178. says

    I am mad, I am pissed, I am upset, I am sorry I ever directed it at anybody in this thread. I love you people. You are my moral compass. Comments like 241, 235, anything SC says, anything Lynna says, smartest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. I am humbled to partake, and I’m sorry for my earlier uncalled for bullshit.

  179. says

    I honestly think that if we were to burn everything to the ground and form a new constitutional convention, I would insist you lot be the core of it. I would just stand to the side and throw peanuts.

  180. says

    A few points regarding Carter Page:

    […] 1. The article [in the Washington Post] says that Page was the “only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe.” […]

    Which means that Trump was not surveilled, nor were any other major team Trump players.

    2. The warrant was apparently obtained in July 2016. At one point the article refers to the FISA warrant being obtained “last summer”. […]

    What else was happening in July? The first Wikileaks release of DNC emails was on July 22nd. Page himself traveled to Moscow in early July and gave a speech there on July 7th. July was a critical month on many fronts […]

    3. The Post reports, according to unnamed officials, that “the government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”

    One part of the FBI’s case was the 2013 case – recently reported – in which Russian intelligence operatives in the US met with and apparently sought to recruit Page. But it says “the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed.”

    Hmmm. “Other contacts with Russian operatives”—that raises red flags. It’s also significant that the FISA warrant was renewed at least once.

    […] The key point I think is that according to the Post’s account of knowledgable sources, the FBI believed it had evidence that Page “knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.” That’s much more that crossing paths with the wrong people.

    […] The piece also provides some interesting details about Page’s attendance at a number of campaign policy meetings. But these seem about what we’d expect of a named advisor. Not surprising but good data points to have.

    That information does bolster the fact that Trump and his aides are lying when they say they don’t know Carter Page and had very little contact with him.

    The oddity of Page is that he certainly wasn’t operating under deep cover. Indeed, he paraded his pro-Russian views widely. […] Page was right out in the open as a major critic of US policy who believed and said to all who’d listen that the US should be far friendlier to Russia.

    Other oddities are his constant press appearances. Why did he go on Chris Hayes show a few weeks ago? Why has he made so many press appearances, almost all of which have been handled weirdly and badly? Why hasn’t he just lawyered up and shut up? For that matter, if Page was operating as a Russian agent, why would he travel to Moscow to give a speech harshly critical of the US a week before the convention? Needless to say, that’s certainly going to draw attention. It’s all a mystery.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/another-piece-of-the-trump-puzzle

    Regarding those last points, like, “Why has he made so many press appearances, almost all of which have been handled weirdly and badly?”, I think I’ll go with the assessment of the Russians that recruited him in 2013, Carter Page is an “idiot.”

  181. says

    Rachel Maddow covered what we know so far about Carter Page.

    Maddow also covered Sean Spicer’s alarming level of ineptitude. It was shocking and appalling to see so many of Spicer’s moments of ineptitude lined up like that. Maddow really exposed how extraordinarily bad Spicer is at his job. He gets even the simple stuff wrong.

    Spicer also gets the big stuff wrong: he confused Orlando and Atlanta when he was talking about terrorist attacks. He misspoke so badly that he claimed Trump was attempting to “destabilize the region” (in reference to Syria).

    Spicer can’t be clear even when he writes a statement (or an apology).

  182. says

    erik @245, I like peanuts.

    In other news, the Republican Ron Estes won in the Kansas special House election to replace Mike Pompeo, who had been chosen to be Trump’s CIA director. However, the news is not all that bad. The Republican won in a squeaker, by a single digit. This was a solidly red district in a solidly red state, but the Democratic candidate almost won. He racked up the best showing for the Kansas 4th district in more than two decades.

    The Kansas district in question voted for Trump by a 60-33 margin, so this close Congressional race bodes well for the future of Democratic candidates.

    Two more special elections are coming up, Georgia’s 6th Congressional District where Jon Ossoff is looking good; and there’s the Montana special election.

    The ActBlue site, where you can donate to help Democrats win.

  183. says

    @249 – I imagine a hundred million or so dems who are watching eagerly, waiting for trump to go down via #trumprussia and knowing that his replacement is likely to be even more evil and conniving, holding that grenade with their finger on the pin, waiting to release it, and then goin vote in 2018. In the meantime, yes, even losses where we show our might are our victories.

    It’s going to get ugly for the rethugs, and they know it.

    The question is does trumptin start a world war between now and then…

  184. blf says

    Speaking of peanuts, it’s spring time†, reminding me of this (video).

      † On the part of the planet where you don’t have wear hookboots to stay attached, that is.

  185. says

    “AP Exclusive: Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout”:

    Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

    Ukrainian investigators called it evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party — and part of a larger pattern of corruption under the country’s former president. Manafort, who worked for the party as an international political consultant, has publicly questioned the ledger’s authenticity.

    Now, financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort’s firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.

    The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump’s campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe….

  186. says

    Holy shit – “Trump Lays Groundwork for Federal Government Reorganization”:

    President Donald Trump is issuing a presidential memorandum that will call for a rethinking of the entire structure of the federal government, a move that could eventually lead to a downsizing of the overall workforce and changes to the basic functions and responsibilities of many agencies.

    The order, which will go into effect Thursday, also will lift a blanket federal hiring freeze that has been in place since Trump’s first day in office almost three months ago and replace it with hiring targets in line with the spending priorities the administration laid out in March, said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    [Mulvaney] said the administration is starting with a “blank sheet of paper” as to how the government should operate and has set up a website to solicit ideas….

    From the article: “The move is a part of Trump’s campaign pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ and get rid of what the administration views as inefficiencies in the federal government, Mulvaney said.” That was explicitly not the meaning of “drain the swamp” as it was used in the campaign, and the way it was used in the campaign has been shown to be a cynical lie. Not only will this new effort prove a calamitous clusterfuck orchestrated by arrogant incompetent wingdings led by a destructive sociopathic fool with a history of bankruptcies and fraudulent schemes, it’s part of a greedy power grab by Trump and his fellow swamp things.

    All as we hurtle toward nuclear war.

  187. says

    This article from a few weeks ago is pretty much what you’d expect from Fox, but the title is the funniest: “Social justice ‘warriors’ jump into Kurdish-Syrian struggle.” As the reporter notes:

    The most common way to play a role is by joining the “People’s Protection Units” – better known by their Kurdish acronyms YPG and YPJ – who are backed by the U.S-led coalition in the operation to take back the ISIS “caliphate capital” of Raqqa and deemed one of the most effective fighting forces on the ground.

    I’m of the opinion that if you travel covertly to Syria and join revolutionary Kurdish combat units to fight ISIS you deserve to be called a Social Justice Warrior without scare quotes.

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

    It’s being reported that Tillerson has gone to meet with Putin.

    Do we have a special extraction team standing by to remove Tillerson’s lips from Putin’s arse?

  189. says

    What is Trump saying about Steve Bannon now?

    “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump said. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist, and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

    Asked about the friction between various factions in the West Wing, the president added, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.”

    From Steve Benen:

    […] there’s an amazing pattern of behavior when members of Trump’s circle fall out of favor (or fall into hot water): their contributions are immediately downgraded to the point of irrelevance. Carter Page was a top campaign foreign policy advisor to Trump, only to learn that Trump no longer knows who he is. Paul Manafort ran the entire Trump campaign, only to have the White House describe his role as trivial. Now, it’s Bannon’s turn to read about his boss describing his work as largely unimportant and inconsequential.

    There is, however, a complication the president may not fully appreciate: Bannon effectively serves as the official representative of Trump’s ethno-nationalist followers. If Bannon were pushed out of the White House – or even marginalized further – the backlash from this radical faction of the Trump base would be severe.

    It wasn’t long ago that Trump was describing his White House team as a “fine-tuned machine.” That’s now the punch-line to an increasingly sad joke.

    It’s too early for us to say bye, bye Bannon. But it looks like we won’t have to wait too long.

  190. says

    I assume this is Sean Spicer being incompetent. If not, if he his saying what he means and is speaking for team Trump, this is very bad news indeed:

    The goal for both of them — the goal for the United States is twofold, as I’ve stated. It’s, one, to make sure that we destabilize Syria — destabilize the conflict there, reduce the threat of ISIS.

    And here’s what Spicer said to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:

    [I don’t want to distract from] the president’s decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he’s making to destabilize the region.

  191. says

    Trump’s version of the win in Kansas:

    Great win in Kansas last night for Ron Estes, easily winning the Congressional race against the Dems, who spent heavily & predicted victory!

    After all the results were in (late last night), Estes won by less than 7 percent. Republicans won that seat by 31 percent in 2016. Trump won that district by 27 percent. Conclusion: support for Republicans has dropped noticeably.

    BTW, Governor Sam Brownback’s approval rating is 4 percent higher than it was in 2016, (though still low), so Republicans can’t blame Brownback for the overall turn away from GOP candidates. Nope. This is a “Trump Slump” as Mark Sumner called it.

    We can place some blame on the Republican-dominated House of Congress, since those dunderheads can’t seem to get anything done, but most of the buck stops at Trump’s desk.

    The Democrats did not predict victory. They predicted a closer race than Republicans had in the past. Dems were right.

    It was not an easy win for the GOP. Trump had to weigh in with robocalls to voters. The GOP ran ads that flat out lied about Democrat James Thompson. It was a tight race.

    […] In deep red, rural Kansas, Republicans figured they’d have no trouble holding the seat, but some polling suggested the underdog Thompson would have a fighting chance — and in the end he lost only by single digits. […]

    Democrats did not “spend heavily,” so Trump lied about that too.

    […] Democrats, on the other hand, lashed out at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for neglecting to fund Thompson’s efforts. […]

    Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ted Cruz all chipped in to help out Estes as the special election approached. While the president and vice president’s voices were heard in living rooms across the district on robo-calls rallying support for Estes, Cruz flew in for on-the-ground campaigning. The president tweeted out his endorsement of Estes Tuesday morning: “Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform).”

    Link

    Trump’s tweet consists of one lie after another. The truth is that the Democratic Party made some gains in Kansas and they scared the Republicans. Dems need to push harder in upcoming special elections.

  192. says

    SC @266. We are so fucked. Trump looked, for a moment, like he was still confused after his comment about firing missiles into “Iraq” were corrected. But he made damned sure to praise the chocolate cake that is served at Mar-a-Lago.

    In other news, here’s more on Carter Page, and how the White House is reacting to the news of the FISA warrant. (See comments 233 and 247 for background.)

    […] The White House is simultaneously claiming that news of the Carter Page FISA warrant vindicates their claims about Obama administration surveillance while also insisting Page had virtually nothing to do with the campaign. This is a complicated story because the Trump campaign – especially at that stage – was so chaotic and disorganized that the line between central and peripheral could be hard to detect and change from one day to the next. But the White House can’t get away with saying that Page was an “informal” advisor one with “no official title.”

    He was as official as it got.

    […] Well into 2016, Trump had no official or unofficial foreign policy advisors. Indeed, he got in trouble for saying that he got his foreign policy knowledge from watching generals talk on cable. When he had to come up with a group of official, named advisors, he did so in concert with now Attorney General Jeff Sessions and he came up with a list of five people. He announced the five at an on the record [to]The Washington Post editorial board. There were five of them: Walid Phares, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Joe Schmitz, and ret. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.

    Page’s official stated advisory purview? Europe and Russia.

    It was quite formal and quite official. Now, the White House’s current line is basically: Come on, the whole campaign was a mess. We barely even knew who he was. […]

    In the Spring of 2016 there were numerous write-ups of Carter Page and his roll in the Trump campaign, which the campaign either didn’t object to or cooperated with. Here’s one great nugget from a March 30th profile of Page from Bloomberg News …

    When Donald Trump named him last week as one of his foreign-policy advisers, Page says his e-mail inbox filled up with positive notes from Russian contacts. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in a two-hour interview last week. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.”

    […] Page’s best defense against being a spy is his own enduring and profound gooberishness. Even the Russian spies the FBI recorded discussing efforts to recruit him in 2013 thought he was a doofus. But again, he was named not on some random secondary advisory panel. He was one of five named Trump foreign policy advisors and remained with that status for months. […]

    […] Why Page was apparently the only one monitored with a FISA warrant is a good question. It’s possible he was the only one clumsy and sloppy enough to get the FBI’s early attention or provide enough material to get a warrant. It may also tell us how sluggish the FBI’s investigation was or that the penetration of the campaign didn’t run that deep. Regardless, Page was a high profile, named, titled advisor for the campaign. For months.

    Reporters should get snowed into forgetting that.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/nice-try-on-carter-page-guys

  193. says

    During the Obama administration, then Secretary of Education John King issued directives that were intended to put a stop to “improper or abusive customer service” between student loan servicers and students. The loan servicers have contracts with the federal government. They manage student loan repayment.

    Yesterday, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Secretary, rescinded those directives or guidelines.

    […] DeVos withdrew that guidance, as well as a directive from former Education Department undersecretary Ted Mitchell that required servicers meet certain standards for responding to and assisting borrowers. That directive set up a single servicing platform for borrowers and provided economic incentives for servicers to ensure high-quality customer service; servicers, in turn, were expected to respond to borrowers in a timely manner, and track borrowers’ requests for assistance.

    DeVos justified rescinding the guidance in part by citing the cost of oversight. […]

    Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) show that when left to their own devices, servicers often fail to look out for the best interests of borrowers. A 2015 CFPB report on borrowers’ experiences with servicers found that servicers were responsible for major errors, such as putting students in the wrong repayment plans. Servicers also failed to proactively mention income-based repayment plans when borrowers struggles to make payments.

    […] no performance metrics were in place to hold servicers accountable.

    One of the biggest student loan servicers in the country, Navient, is being sued by the CFPB and Washington state for their allegedly sloppy management of student loan repayments. In response to the suit, Navient responded that “there is no expectation that the servicer will act in the interest of the consumer.”

    […] Thanks to the reversal of this guidance, it’s more likely that Navient will receive a new contract in 2019.

    Alexis Goldstein, a senior policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform, told The Wall Street Journal that DeVos is sending a message to servicers that they won’t be held accountable. […]

    Think Progress link

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

    Lynna @ 265,

    So it wasn’t Brownback blowback?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  195. says

    Courtesy of Hair Furor, we’re going to have a new “drug czar,” Tom Marino. Marino is a friend of Big Pharma and an anti-marijuana activist. Representative Tom Marino, a Republican from Pennsylvania, will head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, an agency that Trump previously said he would eliminate.

    […] Marino’s record suggests he is a doctrinaire drug warrior with views in line with Trump’s own nostalgia for hardline policies on narcotics enforcement. […]

    The news left marijuana reform advocates “disappointed but not at all surprised to hear a marijuana prohibitionist is being selected as the next drug czar,” Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project said […]

    Link

    States will likely continue to allow marijuana use, and they will continue to reap tax benefits from the sale of marijuana, despite Tom Marino.

    Moving Marino out of the House of Congress will trigger another special election.

  196. says

    What a Maroon @269, Ha! That was worth a laugh.

    In other news, as we expected, white nationalists and neo-Nazis are super pleased with Sean Spicer’s comments about Hitler:

    Neo-Nazi website Infostormer credited Spicer with “exposing the Jewish gas chamber hoax at today’s White House press conference” and wrote of Spicer’s apology for his comments during an appearance with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, […] “Seriously, why would the media flip out over this? Could it be that Adolf Hitler didn’t really put six million Jews in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms?”
    —————–
    Andrew Anglin, the operator of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, wrote that Spicer “went on and apologized to the Jewish Wolf of Blizter (sic), a representative of all Jews. In all fairness to Sean, the Hitler-Nazis didn’t ever gas babies. Instead, they drown them in buckets” […]
    ———————–
    Hunter Wallace, an anti-Semitic writer who is a board member for the white supremacist hate group Council of Conservative Citizens (and whose real name is reportedly Brad Griffin), wrote on Twitter, “When Big Jew says jump, we only ask how high,” and asked, “Is Trump going to provide another line of evidence that he is controlled by Jews by firing Sean Spicer?” […]
    ——————-
    Wallace’s website, Occidental Dissent, published an article with the headline “Nancy Pelosi & Various Jews Demand Firing of Sean Spicer for Hilarious Gassing Comments” that both claimed Jews control “society in general” and called the Holocaust the “greatest hoax.” […]

    Now, while I kind of feel bad for Bashar al-Assad due to the lies being circulated about him gassing his own people, the fact remains that the now-trending Sean Spicer Holocaust Center Saga serves a great purpose in demonstrating Jewish control over our media, government, and society in general.

    Spicer merely made some comments that were likely just blunders (maybe he decided to finally lash out against the Christ-Killers by reminding everyone that there were no “gas chambers” anywhere in the Third Reich), but when it comes to the Jews, there can be no mistakes when their Shoah myth is minimized even slightly.

    If you challenge their greatest legend, and greatest hoax, you will be thrown into the pit of death without exception – even groveling like a pathetic cuckold rarely works. [Occidental Dissent, 4/11/17, Google Cache, 4/11/17]

    Link

  197. says

    SC @266. We are so fucked. Trump looked, for a moment, like he was still confused after his comment about firing missiles into “Iraq” were corrected. But he made damned sure to praise the chocolate cake that is served at Mar-a-Lago.

    There is just so much wrong, including the claim about the content of his discussion of the attack with Xi, which had the hallmarks of a story he was making up on the spot (e.g., the addition of “and babies!” which was his own scripted line and seemed to pop into his head as he was inventing the conversation. The remarks he attributes to Xi are extremely dubious. Looked a lot like the pathological lying.

  198. says

    Could it be that Adolf Hitler didn’t really put six million Jews in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms?

    That is actually the case – the Nazis killed using other methods as well. Jewish people were shot by Einsatzgruppen, crowded into buildings and burned alive, worked to death in labor camps, deprived of food and medicine in ghettos, tortured to death on forced marches,…

  199. says

    Sorry.

    Could it be that Adolf Hitler didn’t really put six million Jews in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms?

    That is actually the case – the Nazis killed using other methods as well. Jewish people were shot by Einsatzgruppen, crowded into buildings and burned alive, worked to death in labor camps, deprived of food and medicine in ghettos, tortured to death on forced marches,…

  200. says

    Tillerson is asked questions to which, were he interested in doing so, he could give long and detailed answers spelling out a viewpoint. Instead, he offers vague, terse phrases and leaves the way open for Lavrov to ramble on and on, often spewing falsehoods and generally shaping the narrative.

  201. says

    SC @275, don’t worry about it too much. We all make mistakes. I proofread, and then I still post comments that contain errors. It happens. I really dislike it when I discover I have posted a comment in which the verb does not agree with the subject.

    In other news, here is a response to Jeff Sessions speech in Nogales, Arizona:

    […] “The things they want us to do are so horrifying—they want to do [prosecute] harboring cases of three or more people,” the prosecutor continued. “So if you’re illegal and you bring your family over, then you’re harboring your kid and your wife, and you can go to jail.” […]

    “Every dollar spent on prosecuting an illegal immigrant for illegal reentry is a dollar that could have been spent on prosecuting or investigating a real crime,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “It’s a shame the government is prioritizing the enforcement of, essentially, labor market regulations over violent and property crimes.” […]

    “Will there be any mercy or latitude in prosecuting people who have U.S.-born children who are minors here?” one reporter asked.

    Sessions didn’t blink.

    “We want everybody to comply with the law,” he said. “And because a child or a family member enters the United States lawfully doesn’t mean that others can enter the country unlawfully. So we do have that challenge. We want people to understand that they’re not entitled to enter unlawfully. We want people to know that laws will be followed, and hopefully if we send this message—it’s already seeming to have an impact—we’ll be able to return to the kind of system we can be proud of.”

    Daily Beast link

    Also relevant: comments 204 and 206.

  202. says

    From the AP:

    President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is registering as a foreign agent.

    Paul Manafort’s spokesman says he was in talks with the government about registering before the 2016 election and is now “taking appropriate steps” in response to “formal guidance” from the government.

    The spokesman says Manafort’s lobbying work was not conducted on behalf of the Russian government and began before Manafort started working with the Trump campaign.

    It’s unclear whether Trump was aware that Manafort was in talks with the government about registering before he hired him.

    Michael Flynn, who was fired as White House national security adviser in February, has also had to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he did with ties to Turkey.

    (It was reported a few hours ago that his firm was registering.)

  203. militantagnostic says

    SC @282

    I noticed a Marie Antoinette reference in one of the responses. Roll those tumbrils.

  204. KG says

    SC@280,
    Thanks for that link – very informative. Across western Europe, the so-called “centre-left” responded to the rise of the “free-market” right, of economic inequality, and since 2008 of “austerity” by abject surrender – hence the ability of the far-right to steal their rhetorical clothes. Only where there’s a viable alternative – usually an alternative left, but in Scotland and Catalonia, a powerful but ideologically disparate independence movement, has the far right failed to take off. What I won’t do, however, is excuse those working class voters who’ve turned to the far right. Workers are as capable of bigotry as anyone else, and excusing it is both patronising, and an insult to those who have not fallen for far-right lies.

    I’d like to see a cross-cutting analysis taking age into account. For the UK, figures from the 2015 general election show that UKIP voters are heavily weighted toward those over 45, and gained just 8% of the 18-24 vote, but 17% of the 65+ (the Conservative vote showed a similar age profile, Labour and Green the opposite). So there are some grounds for optimism for the future. I don’t know whether other European countries would show a similar picture, although I’ve found one article suggesting it may in the Netherlands, and I suspect the pattern holds more widely.

  205. says

    SC @278, thanks for that. I agree. It’s nice to see a person who is more familiar with that area weigh in.

    SC @280, I think all the rightwingers do that. Trump did that. He claimed to be the champion of working people and then he got into office and started screwing working people.

    SC @282, yes. Same tone, and similar look as when Trump climbed into a big truck and pretended he was a trucker.

    SC @281, Steve Benen interpreted that comment as, “It’s a nice career at the FBI you have there; it’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Sounds about right.

    This bit from Trump was so fucking far off the rails that I think I strained my eye-rolling muscles:

    Don’t forget, when Jim Comey came out, he saved Hillary Clinton. People don’t realize that. He saved her life, because – I call it Comey won. And I joke about it a little bit. When he was reading those charges, she was guilty on every charge. And then he said, she was essentially OK. But he – she wasn’t OK, because she was guilty on every charge.

    And then you had two and then you had three. But Hillary Clinton won – or Comey won. She was guilty on every charge. […]

    Director Comey was very, very good to Hillary Clinton, that I can tell you. If he weren’t, she would be, right now, going to trial.

  206. says

    Scott Pruitt is cutting funds for all kinds of programs that protect clean water and clean air; and programs which ensure that extractive industries comply with regulations. However, Pruitt is willing to spend big bucks on one thing: a 24/7 security detail for himself.

    The EPA has requested 10 security agents to provide a 24/7 security detail for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Some specific threat? No, to handle “continuing activities from the left to foment hatred” and from “hostility within the agency.”

    Link

    […] The EPA currently does not have enough agents to provide a 24/7 detail, and between 2008 and 2010, the administrator’s security staff ranged from six to eight employees, according to E&E News. Past administrators only had door-to-door security protections where agents would accompany them to and from work, and travel with them to events and trips, per the report.

    Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team, told E&E News in February that the additional security agents could help protect Pruitt from protesters and his department’s own employees.

    Another source noted that the new EPA budget calls for reductions in civil and criminal enforcement of about 60%. I guess we’ll be spending that money on Pruitt’s security detail instead. Link

  207. says

    Trump backtracked on some stupid stuff he said during the campaign, but he way in which he backtracked was also stupid:

    […] During prepared remarks alongside NATO chairman Jens Stoltenberg, the president said that the pair had a “productive discussion about what more NATO can do to fight against terrorism.”

    He added: “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said [NATO] was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

    He continued the reversal with overt praise for the organization: “Every generation has strived to adopt the NATO alliance to meet the challenges of their times, and on my visit to Brussels this spring, which I look very much forward to, we will look together to do the same.”

    Link

    Trump is such an unabashed bullshitter.

  208. says

    Follow-up to comment 288.

    Trump did a 180 degree turn on four different policy positions today.

    1. He decided not to label China a currency manipulator.

    […] Trump routinely criticized President Obama for not labeling China a currency manipulator, and promised during the campaign to do so on day one of his administration.

    From October 2012:

    Once again Obama fails to classify China as a currency manipulator. He just helped China steal even more jobs and money from us.

    2. Trump decided not to kick Janet Yellen off the Fed’s board of governors.

    […] Trump called Yellen “obviously political” in September and accused her of keeping interest rates low to boost the stock market and make Obama look good.

    3. Trump decided to support the Export-Import Bank after all.

    4. And lastly, there’s the 180 on Nato. See comment 288.

  209. says

    Wonkette covered the fact that Trump recently dissed Steve Bannon bigly:

    For months, a mysterious man named Steve Bannon has been hanging out in the White House, joining the National Security Council, and being President of America, a country that he wishes to “deconstruct” from the inside.

    We all assumed that Donald Trump, the man elected to the office of President of the United States, was totally on board with all of this, and was indeed great friends with Bannon and knew him well. Especially what with his promises to hire all the best people to do the stuff he didn’t feel like doing. But, as it turns out, Donald Trump is now claiming to have no idea who this totally random guy even is. He’s just some guy who showed up and started being involved in his campaign, even though he wasn’t needed at all, because Donald Trump was running his campaign on his own, anyway!

    In a statement to the New York Post published late on Tuesday, Trump responded to a question about whether he was losing confidence in Bannon by claiming he doesn’t even know her: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump said. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.” […]

    What Trump said in August 2015:

    “I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years. They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” Trump said. “I believe we’re adding some of the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and continue to share my message and vision to Make America Great Again. […]”

    There’s more:

    Trump first met Bannon in 2011 when he was considering running against President Obama, and appeared on [Bannon’s] radio show many times throughout the years, and was even consulted on Breitbart articles! […]

  210. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump is toying with the idea of sabotaging Obamacare in order to force Democratic Party legislators to negotiate with him.

    But, wait. What about all those people currently reliant on Obamacare in order to stay, you know, alive?

    President Trump suggested to the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that he would withhold from insurers Obamacare subsidy payments that are the target of a House GOP lawsuit in order to force Democrats into negotiations over repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that could bring chaos to the individual health insurance market.

    In the same interview Trump said he believed Democrats still “own” the Affordable Care Act, but acknowledged that the longer he was in office the more likely it was he would be blamed for problems with the law. […]

    The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are under increasing pressure to continue the subsidies, known as cost sharing reduction payments, at least through 2018 as insurers prepare to submit their plans for next year. […]

    Trump’s threats to end the payments come as the Obamacare repeal effort in Congress has faltered. He also told the Wall Street Journal that he will not release the White House plan for tax reform—the next item on the GOP’s agenda and where congressional Republican leaders have shifted their attention—until an Obamacare repeal bill is passed.

    Trump said he believed that withholding the payments for insurers would bring Democrats to the table on negotiations.

    “I don’t want people to get hurt,” Mr. Trump said. “What I think should happen—and will happen—is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.” […]

    “[Senate Minority Leader] Schumer should be calling me up and begging me to help him save Obamacare,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “He should be calling me and begging me to help him save Obamacare, along with [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi.”

    Talking Points Memo link

    Got that? Trump wants people to beg. He wants to be the savior. And he wants to win. For that, he’s willing to throw the entire healthcare system into chaos.

  211. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC … @ # 280: “The Far Right’s Leftist Mask: The European far right has cynically appropriated left-wing and pro-worker talking points for its own purposes.”

    They’ve had that trick up their sleeve for about 98 years, since He Who Made Mike Godwin Famous invented an ideology he called (oxymoronically at the time) “National Socialism”.

  212. says

    This is like a movie – “After Campaign Exit, Manafort Borrowed From Businesses With Trump Ties”:

    Aug. 19 was an eventful day for Paul Manafort.

    That morning, he stepped down from guiding Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, after a brief tenure during which Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination, Democrats’ emails were hacked and the campaign’s contacts with Russia came under scrutiny. Dogged by revelations about past financial dealings in Ukraine, Mr. Manafort retreated from public view.

    But behind the scenes, he was busy with other matters. Papers were recorded that same day creating a shell company controlled by Mr. Manafort that soon received $13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Mr. Trump, including one that partners with a Ukrainian-born billionaire and another led by a Trump economic adviser. They were among $20 million in loans secured by properties belonging to Mr. Manafort and his wife.

    The purpose of the loans is unstated in public records, although at least some of them appear to be part of an effort by Mr. Manafort to stave off a personal financial crisis stemming from failed investments with his son-in-law.

    The transactions raise a number of questions, including whether Mr. Manafort’s decision to turn to Trump-connected lenders was related to his role in the campaign, where he had agreed to serve for free.

    They also shine a light on the rich real estate portfolio that Mr. Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort, often using shell companies, invested millions of dollars in various properties, including apartments and condos in New York, homes in Florida and Virginia and luxury houses in Los Angeles….

    You have to read through to the end to get a sense of the web of connections.

  213. says

    President Trump suggested to the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that he would withhold from insurers Obamacare subsidy payments that are the target of a House GOP lawsuit in order to force Democrats into negotiations over repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that could bring chaos to the individual health insurance market.

    Announcing the scheme publicly seems smart.

  214. tomh says

    @ 297

    If there’s one constant we know about Trump, it’s that he’ll blurt out the first thing that comes into his head.

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

    So Sean Spicer isn’t the only Rethuglican making inappropriate Hitler comparisons.

    A Southern lawmaker called Lincoln a ‘tyrant’ and compared him to Hitler

    Pittman made the comparison on Facebook while responding to a commenter who was critical of legislation the lawmaker has introduced that seeks to bring an end to same-sex marriage in North Carolina, the Observer reported.

    Pittman’s bill maintains that the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped with its 2015 ruling that effectively voided an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution forbidding same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press.

    Pittman appeared to be arguing that the definition of marriage should be left to the states, the Observer reported, when he wrote that North Carolina should ignore same-sex marriage in spite of the opinion of a federal court.

    And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it? he added. Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.

    As goppers love to remind us, the gop is “The party of Lincoln”.

  216. says

    Trump lied when he was asked about the fact that the White House and many federal agencies/departments are understaffed.

    BARTIROMO: You’re under staffed.

    TRUMP: Hundreds and hundreds of people. And then they’ll say, “Why isn’t Trump doing this faster?” You can’t do it faster, because they’re obstructing. They’re obstructionists. So I have people – hundreds of people that we’re trying to get through. I mean you have – you see the backlog. We can’t get them through.

    BARTIROMO: Yes.

    TRUMP: And then the newspapers will say, ‘Trump doesn’t get them through.’ Well, not — nothing to do with me… I wish it would be explained better, the obstructionist nature, though, because a lot of times I’ll say, “Why doesn’t so and so have people under him or her?” The reason is because we can’t get them approved.

    A brazen, a bald-faced lie.

    From the Washington Post:

    Out of 553 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, 478 still have no nominee, according to the Partnership for Public Service. Another 29 have been announced but not formally nominated; only 22 positions have been confirmed. Republican senators have said they are growing impatient with the White House’s slow pace.

    So, does Hair Furor not know that team Trump has not nominated enough people to staff the executive branch?

    Is the “obstructionism” he claims really just a metaphor for the blockage in his own mind?

    Another source noted that Trump slows down the process of nominating candidates by micromanaging: he insists on poring over paperwork associated with the candidates himself. And then there’s the rumor that team Trump checks the social media accounts of candidates in order to see if they have ever said anything negative about Trump.

    My bet is that Trump believes the myth that Democratic obstructionism is the cause of his understaffed executive branch, and that he does not know the most basic facts about how the executive branch is staffed. He’s the problem.

    Bartiromo should not have let Trump get away with that lie.

  217. says

    The lawyer for Dr. Dao, the man who was dragged off the United flight a few days ago, did a press conference this morning. Dao has a broken nose, sinus injury, a possible concussion, lost two front teeth, and is having reconstructive surgery. He told the lawyer the experience was more traumatic than fleeing Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. The lawyer said he has no memory at all of running back onto the plane.

    Nightmare.

  218. says

    I think it’s safe to assume that anything Trump manages will be mismanaged. That includes Mar-a-Lago.

    […] First reported by the Miami Herald Wednesday afternoon, the club’s most recent inspection report listed “high priority” violations including keeping meat and fish at temperatures that were too high and not following protocols to destroy parasites in fish served raw or undercooked.

    The Herald noted that, compared to past publicly available reports, Mar-a-Lago’s most recent inspection, during Trump’s first week in office, had yielded a record number of violations. […]

    The chocolate cake might be safe to eat.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/restaurants/article144261894.html

    […] Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club’s kitchen, according to recently published reports — a record for an institution that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

    Three of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning that they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room. […]

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

    SC @310, 312,

    Yeah, that’s always a winning strategy. Just look at how well it worked back in 1914.

  220. says

    “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia”:

    Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

    GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

    Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

    The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

    Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

    It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.

    The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.

    “It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

    “The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”…

  221. says

    Donald Trump Jr. is an awful person. He mocked LGBT students and other activists from Duquesne University for opposing a Chick-fil-A restaurant scheduled to open on the Pittsburgh campus.

    Luckily these students wont likely have to tackle issues more stressful than a yummy chicken sandwich in their lives… Oh Wait

    The “Oh Wait” was followed by a link to The Daily Caller, which published an anti-LGBT article:

    […] It’s not about the chicken sandwiches but the fact that the corporation had the temerity to support traditional marriage during the same-sex marriage debate.

    Now student senators at the university say they can’t abide a Chick-fil-A location at their school and are trying to cancel plans for the restaurant to open in the fall.

    Chick-fil-A has been the subject of chickophobic protests from gay-friendly politicians and liberal activists everywhere since its president, Dan Cathy, acknowledged that it had donated money to organizations opposed to changing the traditional definition of marriage.

    That’s never yesterday’s news to the LGBT crowd. So Duquesne University Student Senator Niko Martini proposed a resolution at the March 26 student government association meeting to stop the arrival of conservative fast food before it’s too late.

    “Chick-fil-A has a questionable history on civil rights and human rights,” Martini told The Duquesne Duke. “I think it’s imperative [that] the university chooses to do business with organizations that coincide with the [university’s] mission and expectations they give students regarding diversity and inclusion.’

    That resolution failed but the student government did agree to another resolution that would allow for a “vetting process” of the new restaurant.

    Martini’s campaign has been embraced by the university’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) where Martini is a member of the executive board. The GSA says Chick-fil-A poses a clear and present danger to the group’s “safe place” on campus. […]

    Actual, real facts (not in evidence in Don Jr.’s mind) are that LGBT students “are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault on college campuses and are more at risk for bullying.” The Atlantic link

    Non-heterosexual students experience harassments at disproportionately high rates, according to a new survey. […]

    The Atlantic report is from September 2015.

    And, yes, Chick-fil-A does have a dismal record when it comes to equal rights.

  222. says

    Sarah Kendzior:

    “Over the weekend I wrote an oped explaining how Trump laps up praise for military ops and will likely escalate them. Hopefully will run soon”

    “Trump has no boundaries, ethical or political. He just dropped a bomb never used in this capacity. He’s said he wants to use nukes.”

    “I have been begging people to take the Trump nuclear weapons crisis seriously. This is an existential threat.”

  223. says

    Jon Ossoff has the Republicans in Georgia running scared.

    After an unexpected scare in Kansas, Republicans are even more freaked out about the phenomenon that is Jon Ossoff’s run for a House seat in Georgia. They are answering the $8.3 million in small dollar donations—averaging $42.50—and the surge of volunteer foot soldiers behind his bid with … Paul Ryan. The House speaker has recorded a robo-call. […]

    Ossoff is being pummeled on the airwaves by national Republicans and affiliated groups. Between the Club for Growth, the NRCC, the NRA, the RNC, and some super PAC totally un-ironically calling itself “Ending Spending,” nearly $9 million has been spent on destroying Ossoff.

    Nevertheless, he’s persisting. Money from rich Republicans can’t squash grassroots commitment and enthusiasm.

    Help crush Paul Ryan’s hopes and dreams: chip in $3 to help Jon Ossoff and sign up to make calls to Get Out The Vote for Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff here.

    Daily Kos link

  224. says

    Symone Sanders responded to Jeffrey Lord saying, “Think of president Trump as the Martin Luther King of health care.”

    SYMONE SANDERS: You understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten. Dogs siced on them. Merely because of the color of the skin. Let’s not equate Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. To the vagina-grabbing president of the United States.

    There is no similarity. What president trump is doing is he is in over his head. He doesn’t understand health care is a complicated issue. He just arrived here. Most of us have been here. He doesn’t understand […]

    Why is Jeffrey Lord employed as a commentator on CNN?

  225. KG says

    What a Maroon@313,
    Funny you should mention that. Who does this remind you of?

    [Name] manifested many symptoms of “narcissistic personality disorder”: arrogance, grandiose self-importance, a mammoth sense of entitlement, fantasies about unlimited success and power; a belief in his own uniqueness and brilliance; a need for endless admiration and reinforcement and a hatred of criticism; proneness to envy; a tendency to regard other people as puely instrumental… along with a dispiriting lack of empathy.

    And this:

    He had no idea how he was going to accomplish all the great things he had promised. For him [his official position] had been a rather vague notion of having power, being great and beloved. Worse, he was an appalling vacillator, changing his mind – he was too often influenced by the last person he’d talked to, and constantly in quest of popularity…

    They are actually descriptions of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany in 1914, from the book The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One by Miranda Carter. I’ve been reading a number of books on the origins of that war. There’s a lot of disagreement among historians, but they all appear to think that Wilhelm’s combination of bombast, vacillation, irresponsibility and extreme sensitivity to real or perceived slights contributed considerably to the disaster – even though he didn’t in fact want a war.

  226. says

    Jared Kushner is catching some flak about his security clearance:

    A group of Democratic members of Congress has requested that President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have his interim top secret security clearance revoked following revelations that he omitted meetings with foreign officials on his application for the clearance.

    […] Kushner had not included a December meeting with the Russian ambassador in Trump Tower on his application, and a meeting with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, the same month. […]

    The congressmen also asked Kushner himself to make public all meetings he had with foreign officials during his father-in-law’s presidential campaign and transition period.

    Kushner’s lawyer responded to the April 6 Times report by saying that the initial security clearance application had been made in error, and that Kushner would provide supplementary information to account for them. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    erik @322, please don’t use this thread to wish death on anyone, and that includes the Trump family. Thanks.

  227. says

    Today, Trump signed a bill that allows states to withhold federal funds for family planning services, including birth control, from Planned Parenthood clinics.

    […] The bill is a repeal of an Obama-era regulation that said states couldn’t withhold Title X funding, which covers family planning and preventative care, from organizations just because those organizations also provide abortion care. […]

    The Senate passed the bill 51–50 in March, with Vice President Pence casting the tie breaking vote.
    Four million people with low incomes rely on Title X for preventative health care. Roughly 1.5 million receive their Title X care at Planned Parenthood. […]

    While the bill does not defund Planned Parenthood directly, it is part of a wider GOP attack on the women’s health provider — and will likely encourage further efforts to cut federal funding off from Planned Parenthood.

    It is already legally prohibited to use federal funds for abortion care, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Currently, Planned Parenthood gets federal funding through programs like Title X and Medicaid, which cover STD testing, cancer screenings, birth control access, and other health needs for people who wouldn’t be able to afford them.

    In reality, federally defunding Planned Parenthood — as the GOP proposed to do in their failed health care bill — actually means preventing people who rely on it from accessing health care. And while anti-Planned Parenthood politicians argue that people can go elsewhere, for many low-income and rural women and men, Planned Parenthood clinics are their only option. […]

    if states use this new freedom to discriminate against Planned Parenthood clinics, they will in fact be putting low-income Americans’ ability to access birth control and other reproductive care in jeopardy. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-planned-parenthood-cuts-b271d891878f

  228. Saad says

    From Lynna’s #326

    A group of Democratic members of Congress has requested that President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have his interim top secret security clearance revoked following revelations that he omitted meetings with foreign officials on his application for the clearance.

    He must be quaking in his boots.

  229. says

    SC @329, let’s find out if Maureen Dowd is an unwitting purveyor of Russian propaganda, or if she is just stupid.

    In other news, here are some observations from Zach Beauchamp concerning Trump’s conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, after which Trump said this: “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”

    Trump thought China could fix North Korea until the Chinese president politely informed him that North Korea is in fact complicated.

    Trump seems to have required the leader of China to explain basic facts to him that he could have Googled, or at least asked one of the many US government North Korea experts about.

    Trump came to a profound realization about one of the most dangerous conflicts on earth after a 10-minute conversation.

    Trump is getting his information about East Asian affairs from the leader of America’s largest rival in the region.

  230. says

    Trump will soon be ripping off the taxpayers in yet another way. Taxpayers are paying to defend him in a lawsuit:

    […] A lawsuit filed in January in the Southern District of New York by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and several prominent law professors seeks a judgment that Trump has violated the emoluments clause.

    Who’s representing Trump in that lawsuit? The United States Department of Justice.

    You heard me right. In a legal brief expected to be filed this month, DOJ lawyers will argue that the framers of the Constitution meant only to rule out gifts and compensation for services rather than for any favorable policies; that, in any event, the court has no authority to intervene because the power to waive the clause lies with Congress; and plaintiffs have no standing to sue, anyway.

    Hold on here. Why is U.S. Justice Department representing Trump’s personal financial interests and not the broader interests of the citizens of the United States? Don’t the rest of us have a right to be represented?

    I mean, our taxes pay for the Department of Justice. (It’s far from clear that Trump has even paid taxes, at least since 2005.)

    Having the U.S. Department of Justice representing Trump’s financial interests around the world is just another way Trump is fleecing America and making money off of his presidency.

    We the people need to be represented against Trump’s far-flung businesses. Trump can afford his own lawyer.

    Link

  231. says

    Robert Bateman – “Why So Many Americans Support Deadly Aerial Warfare: It took decades of propaganda to get here.”:

    …American civilians have been exposed to 90 years of radio, print, and silver screen documentaries from what is now the USAF and USN as well as the gigantic corporations that create their tools for a significant profit.* Add to that the present-day plethora of the same stories. Is this any wonder that, generally speaking, the American public thinks that violence committed antiseptically from afar really does change war and makes it viable to just hit targets from the sky and, voila, war is won?

    Your mileage may vary.

    But it does help you see how we, almost uniquely, have a general population that thinks that a few bombs or missiles coming in from the sky doesn’t actually matter all that much. The American public, unique in the world, has been sold a bill of goods for more than 90 years. And, thanks to slick propaganda, they bought it back then and they buy it now.

    * And, it should be noted, almost no experience of being the ones on whom bombs are dropped.

  232. says

    Some truly awful anti-choice doofuses watched Trump sign that bill that allows states to defund Planned Parenthood (see comment 327).

    […] Naturally, Religious Right activists were thrilled by the measure targeting Planned Parenthood, apparently unconcerned about the fact that it will block low-income patients’ access to health care. Trump even invited top right-wing activists to the Oval Office to watch him sign the legislation.

    Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America posted a photo on Instagram from the Oval Office with the president, along with Susan B. Anthony List head Marjorie Dannenfelser and Rep. Diane Black, a vocally anti-choice Republican from Tennessee.

    Earlier this week, Nance and Dannenfelser also met with the newly sworn-in Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. […]

    Right Wing Watch link

  233. says

    This morning, Trump continued to tweet threats at North Korea. In addition, Trump seems to have slipped back into his “China can stop North Korea” schtick that the conversation with the Chinese President had supposedly tempered (see comment 330).

    I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.
    —————–
    I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!.

    Trump is repeating himself, as is his wont. Trump is threatening everyone, so I guess that is his real foreign policy.

  234. says

    This is a follow-up to SC’s comment 316.

    Trump has weighed in on the dropping of the MOAB (informally dubbed “Mother of All Bombs”):

    We have incredible military. We are very proud of them and this was another very, very successful mission.

    Everybody knows exactly what happened.

    We have the greatest military in the world and they’ve done a job as usual, so we have given them total authorization. And that’s what they’re doing,

    If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that to what’s really happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there is a tremendous difference.

    I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea’s a problem, it will be taken care of.

  235. says

    The official name for the MOAB dropped in Afghanistan: GBU-43 Massive Ordinance Air Blast.

    Russia claims to have an even bigger bomb. Figures. Actually, the US also has an even bigger bomb, it’s just that they have not used it.

    From claims Russia made in September 2007:

    Russia has tested the world’s most powerful vacuum bomb, which unleashes a destructive shockwave with the power of a nuclear blast, the military said on Tuesday, dubbing it the “father of all bombs”.

    The bomb is the latest in a series of new Russian weapons and policy moves as President Vladimir Putin tries to reassert Moscow’s role on the international stage.

    “Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon,” Alexander Rukshin, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff, told Russia’s state ORT First Channel television. The same report was later shown on the state-sponsored Vesti channel.

    “You will now see it in action, the bomb which has no match in the world is being tested at a military site.”

    It showed a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping the bomb over a testing ground. A large explosion followed.[…]

    Reuters link

  236. says

    Protests have stopped the construction of some Trump-branded hotels in the USA.

    A developer seeking to build a Trump-brand hotel in Dallas now says the deal has collapsed […] Developer Mukemmel “Mike” Sarimsakci […] planned on launching one of the Trump Organization’s new Scion luxury hotels on a vacant lot near Dallas City Hall.

    Sarimsakci cited public opposition to the project as his reason for abandoning it, […]

    The possibility of a Trump hotel in Dallas sparked protests at its potential location and city hall last month […]

    More than 1,000 residents signed a “No to Scion” petition that was delivered to Mayor Mike Rawlings […]

    Sarimsakci, who calls himself the “Turkish Trump,” abandoned a separate Trump-brand hotel project in St. Louis last November following residents’ opposition.

    The Trumps operate more than a dozen luxury hotels worldwide, with the Scion brand meant to be a more affordable option. […]

    Link

    I think the Trump offspring came up with “Scion” in an attempt to escape the bad press associated with “Trump.”

  237. says

    Mike Pompeo, CIA Director, redefined Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service”:

    In his first major public appearance since taking the top intelligence post in the Trump administration, Pompeo took aim at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden,[…]

    “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” he said. […]

    Trump declared on the campaign trail, “I love WikiLeaks.”

    On Thursday, Pompeo cited the intelligence community’s January report concluding that the GRU, Russia’s foreign military intelligence unit, went through WikiLeaks to released hacked emails from the DNC to influence the presidential election.

    The report also found that Russia’s state-controlled media outlet RT actively collaborated with WikiLeaks in the influence campaign against the election.

    Pompeo called Assange “a fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen,” skewering him for exposing information about democratic governments rather than authoritarian regimes. […]

    Link

  238. says

    I somehow missed this at the end of the Guardian article I cited @ #314:

    One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the source said. “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”

  239. says

    As Trump appears to be becoming less useful to Putin, I wonder if we should expect to see a lot more revealed about him and/or his associates…. (Putin wouldn’t release anything implicating his own regime, but could well have a great deal of other damaging information.)

  240. says

    From Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] President Trump has given an important job to a person not competent to carry it out [to Sean Spicer]. This is not a problem confined to Spicer; Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, has also been entrusted with crucial tasks far beyond his experience. They are all playing with fire. Then again, in the Trump Administration, what would competent communications looks like? How do you persuasively promote the travel bans, or Ivanka’s role in matters of war, or explain away the Trump children’s financial conflicts? Just removing Spicer, or even Steve Bannon, or a dozen other aides, will not turn this White House into a sensible place.

    Yet Spicer, because he has the task of conveying messages to the wider world, is able, on his own, each day, to increase the possibility of mishaps with consequences. At the Newseum, a couple of minutes after his apology, Van Susteren asked him about North Korea. Trump had been tweeting belligerently, and the South Korean government had had to reassure its citizens that war wasn’t imminent. Spicer made a serious face. “We have a shared interest with China of making sure that we don’t have a nuclear North Korea,” he said.

    “We do have a nuclear North Korea,” Van Susteren interrupted.

    “No . . .”

    “I mean, we do,” Van Susteren said, and began reeling off facts about that nation’s arsenal.

    “They have, they have short- and medium-term miss—again, I’m not going to get into their nuclear capability,” Spicer said. Wasn’t that just what he’d done? What had he said, this time, and who was listening to him, and to his President?

  241. says

    From SC’s link in comment 345:

    […] Cohen-Watnick joined him [Flynn] in the so-called “Pizzagate” fray, tweeting about “Podesta’s obsession with the occult.” In another tweet, he referenced “the disgusting and potentially criminal behavior of the Clinton crime syndicate.” […]

    [headdesk] Cohen-Watnick is even worse than I thought. Again, the question arises: how do people like him end up in the White House, with a security clearance, and with access to reports he can pass on to Congresscritters like Nunes (while misreading said reports)?

    I mean, I know that Mike Flynn brought Cohen-Watnick in, but I’m still amazed that he passed muster. How did even Flynn get such a doofus into such a high position? The whole situation is gobsmacking.

  242. says

    [headdesk] Cohen-Watnick is even worse than I thought. Again, the question arises: how do people like him end up in the White House, with a security clearance, and with access to reports he can pass on to Congresscritters like Nunes (while misreading said reports)?

    Seems possible the Nunes ethics investigation could spell the end for Cohen-Watnick. (Pompeo’s assertiveness seems a possible indication.)

  243. says

    Trump just lost another lawsuit.

    A state appeals court in Florida on Thursday affirmed a circuit court’s decision to order Trump National Doral Miami golf resort to pay a small paint company and its attorney hundreds of thousands of dollars after failing to pay a tenth of that for paint and other materials during a renovation project.

    Lawyer fees — in addition to the initial missing payment of $32,535.87 — were originally awarded to The Paint Spot, a local store nearby Trump National, in July 2016, as reported by the Miami Herald. Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto applied a 75 percent additional fee on top of the attorney Daniel Vega’s billed time as well, because his firm, Taylor Espino Vega & Touron, had taken the case on a contingency fee basis. The total at the time was $282,949.91.

    But the Trump Organization appealed the decision, alleging that the paint company had filed a construction lien incorrectly, naming a contractor who had worked on a separate project. On Wednesday, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled that “Trump failed to establish that it was adversely affected by the error.” […]

    Vega told Daily Business Review on Thursday that he expected the appeals court legal fees to be similarly multiplied by 1.75.

    The result is a massive bill for a relatively small disagreement over paint.

    Link

  244. says

    Follow-up to comment 340.

    Mike Pompeo also got in a jab at Kellyanne Conway:

    […] “These officers, like me, have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. They’ve signed secrecy agreements,” he said in an address at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. “They quietly go about their work and try not to get too worked up over the headlines, including the fanciful notion that they spy on their fellow citizens via microwave ovens.” […]

    Link

  245. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ugh, just watched Meet the Press Daily on MSNBC. Chuck Todd had Roger Stone on. (I’ll check back to see if more segments are posted). Roger Stone put my bullshit detector to Red Alert with his first couple of responses.
    Reminds me of an old Doonesbury cartoon book entitled “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty”.
    To call Stone a weasel is an insult to mammals called “weasels” by us humans.

  246. snuffcurry says

    [@343

    Once again, you are being disruptive. Please do not misrepresent constructive comments as “bait.” That is self-centered — you are not special enough that someone is interested in “baiting” you — as is using this as a forum to vent off-topic, inappropriate, and violent fantasies.]

  247. says

    That day, Bouvet also was introduced to Bannon. The two spoke briefly, and Bouvet came to identify with the adviser who, like him, represented a “forgotten America” that Trump had appealed to with his blue-collar pitch. He said in an interview that he still supports the president, but is troubled by reports that Bannon is on the outs and that senior adviser Jared Kushner, a New York City real estate scion, is accumulating influence.

    Right. Old, rich, white-supremacist dudes who used to be investment bankers and run media outfits funded by hedge-fund billionaire families are truly the forgotten Americans.

  248. says

    Trump did not authorize the dropping of the MOAB bomb in Afghanistan. The general in charge of the area did so.

    In other military news, an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria killed 18 Syrian fighters who were on our side. Big, tragic mistake.

  249. says

    Trump said this in reference to North Korea:

    Going it alone means going it with lots of other nations.

    WTF? Presumably, Trump meant acting without China, but with other nations. Maybe?

  250. says

    Depression is a such a fucking asshole. This makes me want to cry, and wish depression ran in the Trump family.

    I want to respond to this because it’s necessary to understand what’s happening right now. People here generally know my general views about depression and whether it could possibly run in families, so I won’t elaborate on that further. But I’ll note that Trump’s brother was depressed and died from alcoholism. (The lesson Trump took from that, consciously, was that drinking is bad.) Trump, as Tony Schwartz has pointed out, is miserable. I think of him as an open wound that can’t ever form a real scab. The evidence suggests that his father was abusive and neglectful, and that he’s been the same as a father. But authoritarians like Trump, while they’re boundlessly insecure, filled with self-contempt, and incapable of real joy, turn the pain outward, in the form of sadism, violence, and destruction. That a man with these profound psychological and emotional problems has been handed control of the arsenal of the United States is in fact a global existential threat. If we survive this, we have to address the social causes of this pain and not just resist its effects.

  251. says

    @357 – There is nothing off topic about the first female muslim judge in America winding up dead in a river. Many people feared the worst, that it was a racially motivated assassination, and we feared that because of the political climate brought about by the rise of Trump, so I think it fits perfectly under the category of “Political Madness”.

    My update was to let this group know about the news that it was apparently suicide, since was barely a blip on the national news or Twitter. Also, as a sufferer of depression, I was bemoaning the indiscriminate and genetic nature of the disease, and pointing out the irony that it takes people like her* with it and leaves narcissists like the Trumps unscathed. There was nothing “violent” about that.

    What’s “violent” is a 3x uptick in the number of civilian deaths at the hands of US forces in the middle east since Trump took office. What’s “violent” is Trump firing missiles, dropping MOAB and attempting to instigate war with the DPRK in an effort to assuage his own ego, distract from his criminal behavior and suck up to the applause of blood thirsty Americans.

    What’s “violent” is a man going to NYC specifically to hunt and kill a black person, no doubt emboldened by the rise of Trump and the alt right.

    Shutting down planned parenthood, taking healthcare away from millions, cutting off funding for social safety nets like meals on wheels, denying entry to desperate refugees, detaining innocent immigrants and breaking up families, those are all violent acts, all things Trump is guilty of (attempting at least), so forgive me for not giving a whit if you or Lynna or anyone else here thinks it’s not moral or ethical for me to wish harm on that tyrant or his corrupt children. I don’t believe anyone here would shed a tear if he dropped dead tonight of a stress induced heart attack, and if you would, then I question your moral compass.

    *If you haven’t read up on her, you should. She was a hero for LGBT rights, her loss is tragic.

  252. raven says

    Trump described the bombing as a “very successful mission.” It was not immediately clear how much damage the device did.

    I’m sure everyone has seen the headlines.

    What is not clear is whether it actually did anything useful.
    We’ve been bombing one place or another since Vietnam.
    Despite dropping more bombs on Vietnam and vicinity then we did in WW II, we still lost.
    Bombing might do something but it certainly doesn’t do everything.

    Maybe the US army will send teams in to do an assessment.

  253. militantagnostic says

    SC @324

    I heard on CBC this morning that the Chechyn gays were tortured to get them to reveal the names of other gay men. Things are going to get a lot worse there.

  254. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    so forgive me for not giving a whit if you or Lynna or anyone else here thinks it’s not moral or ethical for me to wish harm on that tyrant or his corrupt children. I don’t believe anyone here would shed a tear if he dropped dead tonight of a stress induced heart attack, and if you would, then I question your moral compass.

    Sorry BOY, I question your moral center if you want somebody dead….Grow up. Some problems are best left alone in the long run.

  255. says

    militantagnostic:

    I heard on CBC this morning that the Chechyn gays were tortured to get them to reveal the names of other gay men. Things are going to get a lot worse there.

    Yes, some of the people in the article were lured into a trap by friends who’d been tortured. It’s so awful I can barely process it. Masha Gessen talked about it a few years ago on Chris Hayes and Ben Steele on the Daily Show and I’ve had a knot in my stomach ever since. It’s so awful.

    In the immediate term, there need to be more well-organized efforts to help them escape and get refuge in other countries.

  256. microraptor says

    Raven @366:

    I’m sure everyone has seen the headlines.

    What is not clear is whether it actually did anything useful.

    It let Trump feel all masculine and powerful (even if he didn’t actually order its use).

  257. says

    @erik 365

    What you were told to stop was to wish that the Trump family had depression, implying you wished the same suicidal fate on them.
    That is not baiting. That is telling you to not be a miserable piece of shit.
    Get over yourself. Being told that the last dangling bit of your sentence, which was wishing mental health issues on people you don’t like so they’d kill themselves, was unnecessary is not fucking baiting. You could have ended it at “It is being considered a suicide, depression is horrible” and it would have been fine.

  258. says

    Here comes the fucking pile-on as per the norm. I am anti-death penalty, without exception. I am a pacifist to the core. I often say of my own mental health issues, depression and OCD, that I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, and I mean that.

    However, in the case of Trump and his kids, I make an exception. He’s bringing us to the brink of nuclear war. Millions of innocent lives are at stake. 10,000 of thousands may already have been taken. Suffering abounds at his hands. Even the Chechnya gay genocide happening right now has to do in general with the rise of the alt-right and his cynical exploitation of the ugliest elements of humanity, in the sense that not only in the USA, but worldwide, these elements now feel a sense of cover and empowerment via the most powerful country in the world apparently condoning their ugliness.

    I would prefer that the rumors circulating today on Twitter that AG Schneiderman is about to hand down indictments, and that British intelligence says they handed over recordings of the trump kids discussing collusion to the FBI / CIA are true, and that their reign will be brought down quickly, lawfully and peacefully, but barring that possibility, yes, I would settle for any other circumstance that leads to his / their downfall and removal from power.

    If that means death, then so be it, I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep over it. The fact that you people seem to be arguing that you think hoping that something happens to prevent the tragic end we are currently heading towards full steam makes me a “miserable shit” or immature, says more about you than it does me and I stand my ground on moral principle. There are some people in the world who do not deserve the level of empathy or respect normally afforded to all humans, and this family is the most extreme example in modern history that I can imagine.

    and for the record, I agree that my flippant remark about being “baited” was unfair and I retract that. While there are plenty of people here who rejoice in trolling, Lynna is certainly not one of them and I didn’t mean to imply xe was. However, I still take issue with the implication that my wishing for the death of Trumputin is in any way morally suspect. Under any other conditions I would agree with Lynna, but given that our navy is steaming towards a possible confrontation of epic proportions brought about by these scumbags, that this very thread is dedicated to documentation and discussion of his unprecedented threat to the lives and well being of billions of people, I think y’all need to do some soul searching on this one, and that will be my last comment on the subject.

    Tashiliciously Shriked, I hope that you did see my unequivocal apology to you upthread. I stand by it, despite your joining the fray here.

  259. says

    erik:

    Here comes the fucking pile-on as per the norm….

    Please take a deep breath and let it go.

    SC I left a comment at your blog. I’d appreciate you not publishing it as I was lazy and handed you my meatspace identity in the process.

    No problem – of course I won’t publish it and will delete it without attention to any identifying information.

  260. says

    SC @376

    I think y’all need to do some soul searching on this one, and that will be my last comment on the subject.

    ^^ I just did, that was me, letting it go.

  261. Saad says

    erikthebassist, #374

    Can you please stop getting into arguments with people in this thread? It’s entirely inappropriate and disruptive to the flow for anyone reading the news here.

  262. says

    I’m not the instigator Saad. I reserve the right to defend myself, admit when I’m wrong and apologize, and attempt to de-escalate at every opportunity, but thanks for contributing to dragging it out.

    Anybody else want to pile on? Comon, get it out of your systems, you know you want to. Then maybe we can move the fuck on.

  263. Saad says

    You’re absolutely the instigator both times I’ve seen you derail this thread.

    The first one was blatant and uncalled for hostility towards Tashiliciously Shriked.

    And this one started out with your reaction to Lynna’s perfectly reasonable and polite comment “please don’t use this thread to wish death on anyone”.

  264. says

    If you find yourself constantly having to defend yourself after lashing out angrily, constantly, when multiple people tell you the exact same thing.
    Maybe the
    maybe
    just maybe
    the problem is you. And that you need to walk away until you figure out exactly how the problem is you.

  265. says

    And to answer your question, no I didn’t read either one of your long posts.
    Because, in all honesty, if you meant it, you’d try to fix the core issue of *why* this keeps happening.

    Imma give u a hint
    its not everyone else

  266. says

    Or maybe “Tash”, just maybe the problem is that you are part of a group with a mob mentality that doesn’t know how to accept a fucking apology and let it go. I apologized to you, way upthread, unequivocally. I made a mistake. I originally planned to append a “however” in my apology to you, but I deleted it, in an effort to make peace and de-escalate the rhetoric, but since you, like Saad, can’t seem to let things go, let me revisit your original reply to me, where you said you hope I choked on Santorum, an outright homophobic slur, that went unaddressed by anybody here; evidence of the mob mentality I am referring to.

    I later basically rolled my eyes at an unfair rebuke from Lynna, but again, declined to escalate or make an issue out of it, but you, and others, couldn’t let it go. I got attacked, en masse.

    My sincere apology to you went ignored, and here you are now, twice in the last 10 comments, along with Saad, continuing to troll me and try and get my ire. I’m not going to play into it. Good night.

  267. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    keep at it Saad. You are now a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

    Wrong asshole, the solution is you stepping away from the keyboard, for say a week, on this thread. Do so if you are serious about being wrong actually being sorry. That is being responsible adult making amends.

  268. Saad says

    erikthebassist,

    It’s all in plain text. You have no leg to stand on here.

    Here’s Lynna’s post to you:

    erik @322, please don’t use this thread to wish death on anyone, and that includes the Trump family. Thanks.

    Here’s your response:

    @326 – *sigh*… whatever per my previous commitment, I’m not taking the bait.

    Just stop. Please.

  269. microraptor says

    My sincere apology to you went ignored, and here you are now, twice in the last 10 comments, along with Saad, continuing to troll me and try and get my ire.

    That’s because the things that you do that cause you to issue apologies come so frequently that it casts their sincerity into doubt.

  270. says

    I am under no obligation to accept your apology.
    I’m under no obligation to even *read* your apology.
    People are not trolling you.
    People are calling out your problematic behaviour because it is problematic.
    You are not an oppressed and put upon person bravely fighting against unfair bullying.
    You’re a person who’s made shitty posts with shitty content advocating shitty things and were rightly called out on them, and decided the best action was to be defensive and lash out, then post a long winded apology, then lash out more when people are unimpressed at the fact this is a pattern of behaviour you’re repeating.

  271. says

    Wrong asshole, the solution is you stepping away from the keyboard, for say a week, on this thread. Do so if you are serious about being wrong actually being sorry. That is being responsible adult making amends.

    k

  272. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Erik, I’ll step away from this thread until 4/21 provided you are logical enough to do the same. One response of agreement will be ignored. Otherwise, you post, I’ll criticize you….

  273. says

    Nerd, this thread is where I make sense of the day’s news, and given the rapid coming of such news, and what’s at stake for humanity, I’m not agreeing to such a thing. I just spent 90 minutes going back 1500 comments looking at the contributions I’ve made here vs the fuckups I also own. I don’t have the wherewithal to lay them all out, but I own my ridiculous original insult to Tash, and again, for the third time, apologize for it.

    I was apparently having a very bad period of about 24 hours surrounding that, so I also own my responses to Chigau immediately following that, but even then, I was asking for a truce and to be left alone, but that didn’t happen, so I flounced. I quickly realized the next day that this was a mistake, and as I stated when I came back, it was because I held the conversation transpiring here in the highest regard, and still do.

    I think a certain amount of confirmation bias has taken place since then against me, as I don’t see myself as having been unreasonable or having attacked anybody since, while I have felt very attacked, and think I have weathered that very well.

    I don’t hate any of you. I’m not mad. I recognize I brought a certain amount of this on myself in that 24 hour period several days ago. If you or others can’t even read or accept my apology in light of that, then there’s nothing I can do but go about my own business, which includes reading from, and occasionally contributing to this thread.

  274. says

    Tash at 394 – what should I do with that retort? You have the right to beat me up if you want, but I’d ask you to read my apology before you choose to continue to do so. I took the time to think about it and write it. Have some respect for that, please.

  275. microraptor says

    erik, your pattern of behavior is so regular that your apologies hold no value. If you really want to convince the rest of the readers here of your sincerity, you’re going to actually have to make an effort to show us.

  276. says

    erik, your pattern of behavior is so regular

    At least I’m consistent.

    you’re going to actually have to make an effort to show us

    Would anything other than “go away” assuage your demand?

  277. says

    you’re going to actually have to make an effort to show us.

    Shall I strip naked and walk down the middle of the road while you and everyone else here shakes bells and chants “shame”?

  278. John Morales says

    So, I was reading an OP by a journalist in Australian news, and came across this:

    […]
    Predictable — build a nuclear arsenal, successfully test weapons, develop missile technology, eliminate internal rivals, make threats. Push to the limit but don’t cross the line.

    Right now, Kim Jong Un may not be that hard to read.

    But he has not faced an American leader like Donald Trump — a man former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans just this week described as the “most ill-informed, under-prepared, ethically challenged and psychologically ill-equipped President in US history”.

    Then, a (mental) double-take moment:

    Hyperbole aside, speaking to ABC’s 7.30 Evans said his worst-case scenario is a US strike against North Korea.

    (Hyperbole? What hyperbole?)

  279. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Erik, a wise man once said, when you are in a hole over your head, stop digging.
    Based on your behavior tonight, the answer is you aren’t wise enough to do so.

  280. blf says

    Erich, a lot of people are suggesting a cooling down period. I myself find it useful to simply leave for days or even weeks. You’ve previously said (paraphrasing) you find the inputs of several people, including but not limited to myself, useful. Thanks. Now, please return the compliant: Cool down. I suggest staying away, AND writing an essay as to what has made you seemingly close to persona non grata. The essay should be one you’d be willing to post and defend with evidence. My suspicion is you’ll rewrite that essay— This is a variant of the e-mail advice to “write one to throw away”. My own experiences is the first version is perhaps a few hours — and one that you yourself would not wish to see if you were the target — but after reflection, a few days to produce a version that can be posted, then defended with courtesy and evidence. In other words, put yourself in the place of others here, and then explain why, with evidence, an “Erick” is sensible.

  281. blf says

    me@406, Apologies, I meant to address that to “Erik“, not “Erich” or”Erick” as I twice(!) mis-abbreviated the handle. Sorry.

  282. says

    “Facebook cracks down on 30,000 fake accounts in France”:

    Facebook said on Thursday it is taking action against tens of thousands of fake accounts in France as the social network giant seeks to demonstrate it is doing more to halt the spread of spam as well as fake news, hoaxes and misinformation.

    The Silicon Valley-based company is under intense pressure as governments across Europe threaten new laws unless Facebook moves quickly to remove extremist propaganda or other content illegal under existing regulation.

    Social media sites including Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Facebook also are under scrutiny for their potential to be used to manipulate voters in national elections set to take place in France and Germany in coming months.

    Also on Thursday, Facebook took out full-page ads in Germany’s best-selling newspapers to educate readers on how to spot fake news….

    They ran the ads in French papers as well – here’s a critical piece about it (the comments – sigh).

  283. says

    Correction BLF, I find the political analyses and links quite valuable. On a personal and social level, I find much of the discourse around here towards those perceived to be “others” despicable.

    Go back and read my input over the past three pages of this thread. I already apologized and owned up to what I needed too, multiple times. I am not doing so again. That said, any further invective directed towards me that isn’t related to the news of the day is going to be ignored.

  284. blf says

    An amusing France24 article in English about the pitfalls and pratfalls of translating some of the French political slogans into English, ‘Unsubmissive’ France — and other awkward political translations:

    […]

    The Onward! [Emmanuel Macron En Marche] candidate assured potentially disgruntled American scientists: “Here, you are welcome{…} I have no doubt about climate change and how important it is.” Macron urged those working on climate change to “join European and French researchers and come to work on climate change here.”

    I have a message for you guys. #ScienceMarch http://pic.twitter.com/ZnkFIIksdx

    The English messaging was in synch with the candidate’s motto — with only one hitch — his rather unfortunate pronunciation of “engineers”, which sounds suspiciously like another word he probably didn’t intend to reference right here, right now. In the office we’ve been referring to this video as Macron’s “Vagina monologue.”

    […]

    [Burnt baguette François] Fillon’s primary slogan: “Le courage de la verité” or “The Courage of Truth”, started to ring a bit false once the news of alleged fake jobs, in which his wife and children were allegedly paid for work they never performed, broke in late January.

    Quietly changed to “Une volonté pour la France”, “Willpower for France,” the new slogan can be seen on street posters, which vandals and political activists have delighted in defacing so that they read, “Un vol pour la France”: “Theft for France.”

    […]

    It all brings back fond memories of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who confounded the English-language press back in 2012, after a man attending the annual Salon d’Agriculture refused to shake the then-president’s hand, to which Sarkozy replied, “Casse-toi, pauv’ con !”

    There’s no soft way to translate the conservative politician’s phrasing: “Get lost, you a**hole.”

    […]

  285. says

    Trump describes the current state of our military in contradictory terms:

    It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five. I mean look, we have, in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing. Now we’re going to start getting it, because, you know, the military has been cut back and depleted so badly by the past administration […]

    Hey, Hair Furor, is your “Make America Great Again” hat too tight? You aren’t making sense. First you make a point, and then you refute that point. It’s weird.

  286. says

    In China, the government controls the media. It’s significant that the Chinese media is mocking Trump mercilessly:

    Te-Ping Chen, a Beijing-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal, notes that Chinese media are gleefully mocking Trump for doing such an abrupt 180 on an issue that was one of the staples of his 2016 presidential campaign — in fact, Trump had originally vowed to officially label China a currency manipulator on the first day of his presidency.

    “Eating his words!” reads one headline, as translated by Chen.

    “Trump slaps self in face, again,” reads another.

    Raw Story link

  287. says

    Nerd @415, both Stone and Carter Page keep changing their stories in small ways about when they met someone or didn’t meet someone or may have met someone. BS for sure.

    In other news, North Korea is adding more threats in conversations that reference Trump:

    Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is “more vicious and more aggressive” than that of Barack Obama. He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity” and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that’s what Trump wants.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/north-korea-official-ready-for-war-trump

  288. says

    This is a follow-up to comments 7, 75, and 287.

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is a walking, talking disaster. Here is his latest walk on the evil side: Pruitt called for the U.S. to “exit” the Paris accord.

    […] “Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”

    “It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”

    Pruitt’s claim about China and India having “no obligations” until 2030 is incorrect [translation: Pruitt lied].

    While these countries do indeed have 2030 targets, they are already acting now to reduce their emissions by investing in renewable energy and other initiatives.

    Pruitt had called the Paris accord a “bad deal” in the past but does not appear to have previously gone so far as to call for the United States to withdraw.

    The Trump administration […] remains noncommittal, for now, on whether it will follow through on the president’s campaign pledge to “cancel” the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Trump’s recent executive order on energy policy, which set in motion the rollback of Obama’s domestic Clean Power Plan, was silent on the matter of Paris. […]

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that the administration will resolve its view on the Paris accord “by the time of the G7 Summit, late May-ish, if not sooner.” […]

    “The Paris Agreement is a hard-won achievement which is in keeping with the underlying trend of global development,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. “All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.” […]

    As for India […] too, is moving to address climate change. It has, for instance, a plan to install 100 gigawatts of solar energy capacity by the year 2020 — more than double the amount that the U.S. currently has, notes Anjali Jaiswal, director of the India initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    “It’s completely false that India is not doing anything under the Paris agreement,” said Jaiswal, […]

    Washington Post link

  289. says

    Follow-up to comment 290.

    Debunking Trump’s lies about knowing Steve Bannon (courtesy of The New York Times):

    […] Mr. Trump told The New York Post that he didn’t know Stephen K. Bannon before the 2016 campaign.

    “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist, and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

    FALSE. Mr. Trump has known Mr. Bannon, his chief strategist, since 2011, when Mr. Trump was considering a presidential run.

    David Bossie, a conservative activist who worked with Mr. Bannon on a series of films, made the introduction. “They definitely hit it off,” Mr. Bossie told Scott Shane of The New York Times in November.

    Mr. Bannon joked in August 2015 that he was Mr. Trump’s hidden “campaign manager,” and he hosted Mr. Trump on his radio show in November 2015. […]

  290. says

    Oh, Betsy, Betsy, Betsy. I see you are keeping the tribe white and narrow-minded.

    […] Betsy [DeVos] has announced her pick to head up the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. As with any good champion of civil rights, Candice Jackson has a personal history with this topic, which should make this a perfect fit for her. After all, she was the victim of “reverse discrimination” as a white woman, or so she claims, when she was a student at Stanford University back in the 1990s. […]

    There was one section in one class designated for minority students and poor, little old Candace felt like that was excluding her? […] Talk about white privilege. And that’s not all. Candace brings with her a number of other questionable (and that’s putting it mildly) leanings related to civil rights issues to the position.

    A longtime anti-Clinton activist and an outspoken conservative-turned-libertarian, she has denounced feminism and race-based preferences. She’s also written favorably about, and helped edit a book by, an economist who decried both compulsory education and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. […]

    In 2009, Jackson co-wrote a Christian country song with her father and brother, called “Freedom, Family and Faith.” The lyrics had an anti-government tinge: “Some politician wants our liberty/ They say just trust me, we’re all family/ I’ve got a family and hey, it’s not you/ Don’t need Big Brother to see us through.” […]

    Link

  291. says

    A real person, Maribel Trujillo, is being deported. She is not a number, and she is not a criminal. She is a victim of Trump and of Jeff Sessions. Trujillo is the mother of four children who are all American citizens. One of her children has special needs, and Trujillo is the only member of the family trained to take care of the 3-year-old’s special needs.

    Rachel Maddow covered this story well.

  292. says

    Start small, and work your way up. Democrats in Illinois bucked Republican trends to win in several municipal elections in small towns last week.

    […] The city of Kankakee elected its first African-American, Democratic mayor. West Deerfield Township will be led entirely by Democrats for the first time. Elgin Township voted for “a complete changeover,” flipping to an all-Democratic board. Normal Township elected Democratic supervisors and trustees to run its board ― the first time in more than 100 years that a single Democrat has held a seat. […]

    In the case of Illinois, a number of Democrats who just won got a boost from a program launched by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) called Build The Bench. It’s an all-day boot camp that offers nuts-and-bolts details for running a successful campaign. Bustos came up with the idea last year when she noticed a dearth of new Democratic candidates for Congress, and decided the best way to help build up her party’s ranks was at the local level.

    She’s held two boot camps in her district so far […] and she’s already seeing tremendous payoff. Twelve Build The Bench alumni ran for local seats in this election cycle, and eight of them won. A ninth alum, Rita Ali, is currently down by one vote in her race for Peoria City Council. […]

    Huffington Post link

  293. says

    Josh Marshall writes about Trump’s “militant ignorance.”

    […] What is endearing, terrifying and hilarious about Trump is not simply his ignorance, really his militant ignorance, but his complete lack of self-awareness about his ignorance. […] his understanding of the problem of North Korea changed dramatically after hearing ten minutes of history from the President of China. […]

    So far the Trump Presidency has been a sort of Mr Magoo performance art in which the comically ignorant Trump learns elemental or basic things that virtually everyone in the world of politics or government already knew – things that the majority of adults probably know. Health Care: “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” North Korea: “I felt pretty strongly that they had tremendous power. But it’s not what you think.” There are perhaps half a dozen examples equally stark.

    In other words, President Trump is open about his discoveries and even eager to share them but universally projects his previous state of comical ignorance onto the general public or whomever he is talking to. […]

    Remaining ignorant is probably a good adaptive strategy for him because it allows him to pretend that everything is obvious, that he can solve any problem and generally act like he can do anything – in a way, this allowed him to become President.

    What is key though is to understand that this is not just ignorance. Ignorance is just the first stage of Trump’s fairly advanced problem. He is not only ignorant but clearly unaware of his level of ignorance. This is compounded by a seeming inability to understand that everyone else isn’t equally ignorant to him. [snipped comparisons to children]

    But Donald Trump is a 70 year old man. And not a terribly nice man.

    His ignorance is not endearing. We don’t need to lie to him to make him feel good about himself. Still it is good to understand his condition. Ignorance is just lack of information. But there’s something wrong with Trump’s brain – maybe cognitive, perhaps simple entitlement or just broad spectrum derp – which appears to make it genuinely impossible not to project his own ignorance onto everybody else.

  294. says

    What? Why is the Trumpian White House refusing to make visitor logs public?

    […] Trump will not make White House visitor logs available to the public while he is in office, breaking from precedent set by his predecessor Barack Obama.

    White House Communications Director Michael Dubke said in a statement that the administration would keep the logs secret due to “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”

    The logs of visitors to the White House complex are maintained by the Secret Service. The White House will still fulfill Freedom of Information Act Requests for records that fall under areas that are considered agencies, like the Office of Management and Budget, but it does not plan to release logs of of those entering the complex to visit Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, or members of the White House senior staff.[…]

    The Trump administration will not make the logs public until five years after Trump has left office, according to Time magazine. […]

    The Trump White House will also decline to renew a contract for Open.WhiteHouse.gov, the site where the Obama administration published visitor logs along with other data.

    Link

  295. says

    Follow-up to comment 424.

    In June 2012, Trump tweeted:

    Why is @BarackObama spending millions to try and hide his records? He is the least transparent President–ever–and he ran on transparency.

    In October 2012, Trump tweeted:

    Why does Obama believe he shouldn’t comply with record releases that his predecessors did of their own volition? Hiding something?

    From Aaron Rupar:

    […] Not only will the new White House policy allow Trump to meet with lobbyists and donors without the public knowing about it, but it will allow him to meet secretly with individuals connected to the Trump Organization, including his sons Eric and Donald Jr.

    Before the inauguration, Trump promised to maintain a firewall between his presidential duties and his interests as owner of the Trump Organization, but that separation has proven to be porous in recent weeks. His kids have admitted their father will be regularly briefed about how the business is doing financially, and earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Trump’s children are pushing for policy changes to maximize the profitability of the Trump brand.

    The new Trump administration policy means business meetings between Trump and his sons could now take place at the White House without the public knowing. […]

    And then there’s the whole Nunes farce. It would have been better if White House logs had clearly shown who signed Nunes in, and when.

  296. says

    Fox News is pumping out some of the worst fake news. It is “news” designed to hide the deplorable conditions at immigration detention centers, and to make Fox viewers think that the U.S. is coddling undocumented immigrants.

    […] In a segment that aired Friday morning, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade claimed that immigrant detainees are provided clean sheets, given the chance to soak in the sun with seven hours of outdoor activity, and never have to learn English.

    “The party is over for illegal criminals in jail,” Kilmeade said, remarking on the administration’s search for new jail contracts that would need to comply with fewer regulations to ensure immigrant safety. “Get this: They’re enjoying seven hours of outdoor activity. Who gets that anymore? Fresh sheets, and absolutely — I don’t get that. No need to learn English. […] But the Trump administration vowing a new plan to cut back on perks in their immigration crackdown, saying, expect a far less detailed set of regulations — maybe even dirty sheets — including no translation services, so learn English.” […]

    Kilmeade’s remarks follow the Trump administration’s decision to entice more local jails to give up detention space to house immigrants by erasing some of the provisions meant to keep immigrants safe. […]

    No such “perks” exist in detention centers. […] Conditions have been so substandard at immigration detention facilities nationwide that there have been many iterations of hunger strikes to call for better food and medical care,[…]

    Rodriguez Guzman recently explained that he went on a strike because he wanted better food, medical care, and the ability to see an immigration judge who can determine whether he would be able to stay in the country. The young immigrant also complained that the prices at the canteen were “jacked up” with the price of coffee set at $5.

    “We shouldn’t be held indoors 23 hours,” Rodriguez Guzman said in an audio recording provided by the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance, an immigrant advocacy group. “We should be able to get sun more than one hour.”

    He also said he was forced to strip wax and double-coat the units at the detention facility. In return, he was given “soup and some chips.”

    No immigration detention paradise exist for immigrant child detainees in family detention environments either. A detained six-year-old girl vomited blood for several days and was given emergency medical care only after she lost consciousness, according to a $10 million tort claim filed against the Department of Homeland Security in 2015. One woman who had broken bones in her hand was told to drink water as a remedy, […] One girl who bled over her shirt was also told to drink more water. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/fox-news-immigration-detention-56cf76c3a55d

    Many photos are available at the link. The overcrowding is the first thing you’ll notice. Next, you may notice one bathroom for thirty or more people. Etc.

  297. says

    Details from a town hall meeting show that children know more than their Republican representatives in Congress:

    Voters aren’t letting their representatives get away with climate change denial, especially at their town halls this week. Even those too young to vote are getting in on the action, like at a Wednesday town hall in Colorado Springs, where one girl confronted her congressman.

    “[…] You don’t want to pursue renewable energy, but please reconsider,” the girl, who identified herself as Haven, said. Haven made her thorough case for solar and wind, noting that these fast-growing jobs were a retraining opportunity for veterans, while reliance on coal, which has the downside of making people sick, is declining. She concluded with an invitation to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) to join her science class next Friday, receiving cheers and applause from the 110 people in attendance. The class will include a presentation on climate change, she added.

    In the past, Lamborn has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change and opposed legislation to address the problem. In 2013, according to The Mountain Mail, Lamborn said there are “a lot of contentious facts and claims about global warming and whether it is man made,” adding there is “not much unanimity.” […]

    The House Natural Resources Committee member only addressed the first part of Haven’s comment, which focused on supporting renewable-energy jobs for veterans. He told Haven he supported all kinds of jobs and believed “in an all-the-above energy policy,” including hydrocarbons, nuclear, hydropower, and solar. His answer prompted another woman to shout, “How can you sit here and lie to us? You’re lying to us.” […]

    Link

    Scroll down to watch the video.

  298. says

    Russian-directed bots affected (infected) social media during the presidential campaign, and they are still doing so.

    On March 30, during the first Senate intelligence committee hearing on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, London-based cybersecurity expert Thomas Rid described how several groups became “unwitting agents” of Russian efforts to influence the American presidential election. […] Journalists who “aggressively covered the political leaks while neglecting or ignoring their provenance” were another group.

    And so was Twitter, Rid said, because of the “fully automated bots as well as semi-automated spam and trolling accounts [that] make up a sizeable part of Twitter’s active user base.”

    […]Twitter won’t reveal how many automated bots, semi-automated spam, and trolling accounts are part of its approximately 313 million monthly active users. But the site provides a perfect platform for deploying what are known as “active measures,” Russian methods of information warfare Rid described as designed for “easy exploitation—high impact.”

    But what can Twitter do about them?

    Anybody with technical know-how can deploy or hire Twitter bots, an army of automated or semi-automated Twitter accounts that push a particular message at a much faster pace than any individual user could.

    One South American hacker told Bloomberg in March 2016 how he used Twitter bots in an attempt to influence an election in Mexico.

    Earlier this month, BuzzFeed published an interview with a Utah-based software developer who created his own army of Trump-supporting bots during this last election. […]

    Twitter followers often don’t know they’re retweeting or forwarding deliberately false information from unknown sources, which can then potentially further polarize the populace and overstate a message or a candidate’s actual support. […]

    Whatever the source of the bots, it seems unlikely that the state-sponsored disinformation variety will be stopped anytime soon. […] Nu Wexler, a former public policy spokesperson for Twitter, tells Mother Jones that as long as users aren’t violating Twitter’s content rules, they’re not going to be censored. […]

    Using tools that estimate whether an account is a bot, Ferrara and his team estimated that nearly 15 percent of their data sample collected over a one-month period—roughly 400,000 accounts—were likely bots, accounting for roughly 3.8 million tweets. […]

    “We are looking at a sort of tradeoff between how much…censorship you want to do on the platform, and how much you want to do to guarantee unbiased political conversation online, which should be a priority,” Ferrera says. “Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, [and others] have an effect on information campaigns, have an effect on political beliefs, and have an effect on the news that people consume and are exposed to every day.”

    Link

  299. says

    Well, this is strange news:

    […] in a video posted by WNBC-TV, Thursday night, [Mike] Tyson claimed that Trump promised him a pardon for his rape conviction.

    It gets even weirder.

    Tyson made the claim while sharing the stage with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and asked the governor to place a call to the president on his behalf. Christie joked — awkwardly — that he would raise the matter with Trump. […]

    “Man, governor I wish you could talk to Donald Trump, cause I haven’t talked to him in many years. Tell him he said he was going to give me my pardon so I am waiting for my pardon. He said it out of his mouth so I’m waiting.”

    Mediate link

    Some people are claiming that Tyson said “partner,” not “pardon.” Not buying that.

  300. says

    More news about fake news, with emphasis on how the Alt-right spreads pro-Assad propaganda:

    A report by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab found that a claim that recent airstrikes in Syria were a “false flag” operation — an operation that either didn’t really occur or that were conducted by a party other than the Syrian government — which went viral among the “alt-right” actually originated with a Syrian propaganda outlet that supports the current regime and spread to a series of pro-Kremlin conspiracy websites and fake news purveyors before being promoted by “alt-right” figures including Infowars’ Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich.

    The report showed that key claims, quotes, and images that were initially reported by Al-Masdar, the outlet that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, were used in reports on pro-Kremlin sites, fake news sites, and on Infowars.

    In addition, the report noted that, after the “false flag” claim was promoted by Jones and Cernovich, Twitter accounts that appear to be bots accelerated the use of hashtags about the attack, which led to the hashtag #SyriaHoax going viral.

    The report concluded, “The Syrian regime’s reaction to the chemical attack is no surprise,” but “what is noteworthy is the way in which the regime’s response … was translated rapidly and directly into coverage on alt-right websites, most obviously Infowars.” […]

    Media Matters link

    More details at the link.

  301. says

    I hope these protests get a lot of media coverage this weekend:

    Large protests are expected Saturday across the country pegged to Tax Day to pressure President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

    This year’s Tax Day Marches on Saturday, planned in dozens of cities across the county, are expected to be the biggest political mass mobilization since January’s Women’s March,[…]

    Organizers hope to call attention to the fact that Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns, and to prepare for a fight on tax policy.

    “We need to see Trump’s tax returns as a matter of transparency. If we’re going into a tax reform debate, we need know if what Trump wants to do is going to benefit himself, since he tends to do things that help him and not necessarily others,” said Wes Shockley, one of the organizers of the New York City march. […]

    NBC News link

  302. says

    More military news:

    The U.S. military is sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment to the Horn of Africa country in roughly two decades.

    The United States pulled out of Somalia after 1993 […]

    The U.S. Africa Command on Friday said this deployment is for logistics training of Somalia’s army, which is battling the extremist group al-Shabab that emerged from the country’s years of warlord-led conflict. About 40 troops are taking part.

    The U.S. in recent years has sent a small number of special operations forces and counter-terror advisers to Somalia, and President Donald Trump recently approved an expanded military role there. It includes carrying out more aggressive airstrikes against al-Shabab and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities. […]

    NBC News link

  303. says

    Trump continues to add to the swamp, and he continues to set up circumstances ripe for harming consumers (and for harming people in general).

    […] the Trump administration has named the [American Chemistry Council’s] senior director of regulatory science policy, Nancy Beck, as the deputy assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency office that regulates the chemical industry. It’s known as the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and it exists to “protect you, your family, and the environment from potential risks from pesticides and toxic chemicals.”

    […]. A 2009 investigation by the House Science and Technology Committee criticized Beck by name for […] re-writing the ‘science'” around important policy issues.

    The report specifically noted Beck’s role in assessing the EPA’s characterization of a highly toxic class of chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were widely used as flame retardants in furniture but have since been phased out.

    The report found that Beck attempted to edit an EPA statement on PBDEs in ways that “appear to enhance uncertainty or reduce profile of the [harmful] effect being discussed.” The report called one of her edits “very disturbing because it represents a substantial editorial change regarding how to characterize the science.”

    And now, after her stint working directly for the chemical industry, Beck will have a direct role in shaping chemical policy at the EPA.

    Link

  304. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just saw actor Mandy Patinkin (now of Homeland) on Meet the Press Daily, interviewed by Chuck Todd, talking about the Syrian refuge problem. Patinkin also stated emphatically that no refuges have been been accused of any terrorist crimes.
    I’ll post the video once I can determine it is available.

  305. Arnie says

    Lynna (#413),
    I don’t think these particular statements are contradictory:

    look we have, in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing.

    The technology and equipment our weapons industry can provide.

    Now we’re going to start getting it, because, you know, the military has been cut back and depleted so badly

    Now our military is getting more of that equipment.

    [transcribed interview]

  306. tomh says

    I wish a major player like NBC would strive for a little more accuracy. Nixon not only did release his taxes, after he became president, he did so while under audit, as Tim Kaine pointed out during the VP debates when Pence claimed Trump would release his taxes after his audit was complete. (The audit didn’t go well for Nixon as it was found that he owed almost $500,000 in unpaid taxes and interest – Trump’s returns will probably show something similar.) The NBC story also says that Monday, April 17 is a federal holiday – it’s actually a local holiday, only recoginzed in Washington D.C., commemorating the first Emacipation Proclamation, which only freed slaves in D.C. It may seem picky, but it’s tiresome that it’s become so rare to see a story from any news organization that doesn’t have blatant errors.

    Shockley is right though – tax reform is the best leverage to get at Trump’s returns. Deductions that benefit Trump may well resonate with voters.

  307. says

    The National Rifle Association is holding its annual leadership forum later this month. Trump will be there. He’s going to be a featured speaker.

    According to the NRA’s website, Trump’s secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, is also expected to speak at the conference, as are other prominent Republicans, such as Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sens. Ted Cruz, Luther Strange, David Perdue and Rob Portman.

    Politico link

  308. says

    Arnie @436, you may well be right. It’s often difficult to parse what Trump says. I tended to focus on Trump emphasizing how “depleted” our military is, while simultaneously saying, “Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five.” I thought he was saying that our military technology is better than anybody else’s technology by a factor of five. I also don’t know what “by a factor of five” indicates here.” I grant your point that technology and weapons being available doesn’t necessarily mean that the military has all the technology and weapons it needs.

  309. says

    Spending your tax dollars:

    The Secret Service has spent more than $35,000 on golf cart rentals at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort since his inauguration, CBS News reported Friday, as Trump begins another weekend in Florida.

    CBS News reported that it had reviewed purchase orders showing $35,185 in costs for renting golf carts during Trump’s frequent visits to Palm Beach, Fla. […]

    The Hill link

  310. says

    “Marine Le Pen wants to kill the European Union. But it actually helps pay her bills.”:

    Those who fear for the future of the European Union are confronting a painful paradox: Many of the strongest bids to tear apart the E.U. are being underwritten by E.U. cash.

    France is careening toward a nail-biter presidential election this month that pits a crowded field against anti-E.U. titan Marine Le Pen.* But E.U. funds pay her salary, support her assistants, and underwrite the conferences and books she churns out to attack the 28-nation bloc. Key British leaders of the successful Brexit campaign got their financial lifeline from Brussels euros. Elsewhere in Europe, self-identified fascists are paying for rallies to further the future of the “white race” by breaking up the E.U. — all thanks to E.U. money.

    With the European Union under threat as never before, lawmakers have been pushing to tighten generous rules that make it easy for fringe political parties to qualify for hundreds of thousands of euros every year. Bigger forces — such as the European affiliate of Le Pen’s National Front party — get millions because of their heft in elections for the European Parliament, an institution that is short on power but flush with cash….

    * What a stupid fucking sentence. The media needs to address this compulsion to center on the far-Right candidate regardless of the status of the race.

  311. says

    Well. This is painfully foolish:

    …Less than two weeks before the first round of the presidential election, the anti-EU, pro-Moscow Mélenchon is busting open what was already an unpredictable race and threatening to sink the campaign’s only viable pro-EU candidates.

    Benefitting from the collapse in support for socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, Mélenchon enjoys the support of 18.5 percent of votes. That’s on a par with conservative former prime minister François Fillon and only 3.5 percentage points behind centrist frontrunner Emmanuel Macron, according to a daily poll of first-round voting intentions by Ifop.

    Mélenchon is still no shoo-in for the presidency. But his increasing popularity is becoming a problem for the two frontrunners, because a large swathe of his backers — 42 percent of them, according to Ifop — say they won’t vote in the second-round run-off between the top two candidates if Mélenchon is no longer in the picture.

    Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is almost certain to make the second round, can rejoice.

    “Macron represents capitalism, which along with financial lobbies is shaping Europe,” said a 60-year-old art teacher who only wanted to be identified as Mathilde. “He is the Trojan horse of finance.”

    She added: “If in the second round Mélenchon is not there, so be it, I will not vote. We’ll have the far-right. I don’t care. I can promise you that there are many, many people in my situation. We are just completely fed up.”

    Lucas, an 18-year-old preparing to vote in his first presidential election, was on the same page. “If it’s Macron against Le Pen in the second round, I am not voting.”…

  312. says

    “Ukrainian MP paying pro-Trump foreign agent”:

    A pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker under investigation for treason in his country is paying $30,000 a month to an evangelist preacher who backs President Donald Trump and has newly filed as a foreign agent.

    The Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Artemenko, met with two powerful Trump associates in January to craft an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, The New York Times reported in February….

    Dale Armstrong, the pastor who received the funds through a recently incorporated organization, is based in rural Pennsylvania and has extensive ties in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. The $30,000-a-month contract provides for an initial three months of “strategic counseling and representation to advance U.S.-Ukraine relations, including engagement with public officials, legislators and government agencies”….

    Here’s a somewhat related Twitter thread about the Putin regime’s allure for mediocre US white men.

  313. KG says

    SC@445,

    Opinion polls in France indicate that either Macron or Mélenchon would beat Le Pen easily in a run-off, despite what some of Mélenchon’s supporters are quoted as saying in your linked article. Either is also predicted to beat Fillon. Macron is predicted to beat Mélenchon if those are the two in the run-off. Calling Mélenchon “anti-EU” is an over-simplification: he wants to renegotiate the treaties that in effect enforce neoliberal economic policies and since 2008, “austerity”, on all EU governments. It’s unlikely he could get everything he wants, but the EU cannot survive without France, so he probably would get some serious concessions. His domestic policies are – if he could carry them through – seriously pro-equality, anti-racist, and pro-environmental. His victory would be a serious boost for left political forces throughout southern Europe. He also wants to leave NATO – which has always been the instrument of American elite power. I do have concerns about his attitude to Putin, but on balance, of the four candidates who seem to be in with a chance of winning the Presidency, I favour Mélenchon.

  314. says

    Stephen Miller is credited with being the lead writer on Trump’s “American Carnage” inauguration speech. That piece of weird hogwash didn’t get Miller fired. Apparently, Trump liked it. Miller is now thought to be more popular than Steve Bannon.

    Worse yet, Miller is now working with Ivanka Trump on issues of family leave, child care and women’s issues. Say, what now?

    Here’s an op-ed Miller wrote in 2005:

    […] The problem with feminist theory lies with what kind of equality feminists are demanding. Women already have equal rights in this country. They enjoy all the same protections and liberties as men. What feminists demand now is equal results. Case in point: correcting the pay gap.

    Feminists love to proclaim that women make only 76 cents for every dollar a man makes. These unequal results, they argue, are proof-positive of widespread gender discrimination. What they don’t tell you is that, amazingly, this figure isn’t adjusted for hours worked. The pay gap gets a lot smaller when you account for the fact that women work about only 85 percent as many hours as men and are responsible for only 10 percent of all overtime worked.

    Women also choose lower-paying professions. Educated women are far more likely than educated men to go into service fields such as teaching and social working-admirable professions but ones that don’t pay nearly as well as careers in business.

    Men sacrifice much as well. Whether it’s plumbing toilets, cleaning up sewers or picking up garbage, men tend to do all the dirty work in society. Naturally, the pay for these professions is given a boost because few people are willing to do them.

    Men do the lion’s share of the hazardous work, as well. From construction to late-night road repairs to policing the streets, the male work force puts itself in much more danger. Of all work-related deaths in a given year, about 95 percent are men. These high-strain and high-risk jobs pay better than careers requiring similar education but with fewer hazards.

    There are still more factors to explain the pay gap-women are less likely to ask for a raise than men, women entered the work force more recently and are less credentialed, women are less likely to work night shifts, many women take off several years after having a child and so on-but the point is that the pay gap has virtually nothing to do with gender discrimination. Sorry, feminists. Hate to break this good news to you.

    Duke Chronicle link

    Yikes. What a pile of offensive and inaccurate hogwash. And this guy is now supposedly helping to form White House policy on women’s issues?

  315. says

    As is his wont, Trump nominated a white guy to head an agency that the guy wants to eliminate.

    On Friday afternoon, the White House announced that Donald Trump would nominate former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to be president of the Export-Import Bank, which he tried to kill two years ago. Garrett called the government bank, whose mission is to boost American exports, a “corporate welfare program.”

    Garrett, a founding member of the archconservative House Freedom Caucus, said the bank “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

    It’s another example of the White House selecting people to run agencies they have worked to kill, or at least of which they have voiced serious skepticism. Rick Perry wanted to abolish the Energy Department, and now runs it. Scott Pruitt, a longtime EPA critic who now runs the agency, says those who want to kill it are “justified.” Betsy DeVos spent much of her career trying to defund public education and is now Education Secretary. Tom Price has fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act and women’s health programs and is now Health and Human Services Secretary. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson voiced skepticism about the Fair Housing Act. […]

    The Ex-Im Bank, as it is known, is an Executive Branch agency — a corporation owned by the federal government, and staffed by finance professionals. […]

    Most Ex-Im Bank loans go to U.S. small businesses, most credit goes to large U.S. corporations, and the Treasury Department actually turns a profit on the bank’s operations. It was created in 1934, and unlike some other government agencies has not slowed financing carbon-heavy, environmentally unfriendly projects around the world. The reforms Garrett would espouse are not likely to make the bank more climate-friendly, as he is a climate denier.

    https://thinkprogress.org/ex-im-bank-is-corporate-welfare-of-course-ill-lead-it-d00d2d554bb

  316. says

    A follow-up to comment 449.

    More background info on Scott Garrett:

    In 2015, Garrett annoyed party leaders when he refused to contribute the fundraising cash all members pay to the House GOP campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, because it had supported openly gay GOP nominees in a few races around the country. This caused corporate and financial donors to pull their monetary support from Garrett, who was a subcommittee chair on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees Wall Street. Garrett lost his seat, which he had held for 14 years, in 2016 to Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). […]

  317. says

    SC @314:

    […] The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said. […]

    SC and others quoted the Guardian’s coverage of foreign agencies having alerted the U.S. to Russian-Trump connections. Among the countries cited: Estonia.

    It’s interesting to look at at this Estonian connection more closely. Estonia has caught more of Putin’s spies than any other European country.

    […] Every year for the past 18 years, the Kaitsepolitseiamet, Estonia’s domestic security service, the unfortunately acronym-ed KAPO, publishes its annual review of the country’s most attention-grabbing incidents in counterintelligence, terrorism, and corruption, categories that very often overlap.

    And most of the 45-page document is devoted to a subject with which this small but formidable Baltic power has had ample experience: Russian operatives and disinformation campaigns, now better known as “fake news.”

    Estonia is Europe’s leading catcher of Vladimir Putin’s spies as well as Europe’s leading unmasker of his manifold agents of influence. […]

    KAPO has had to learn by necessity.

    Estonia regained its independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and had no time at all to reconstitute its security services from scratch; it took a calculated gamble that grandfathering in many old hands from the ancien régime, the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, wouldn’t result in Swiss cheesing its service with loyalists to the former occupying superpower.

    One such transitional figure, a former KGB colonel named Herman Simm, who reinvented himself as a champion of Estonian self-determination, worked his way up to the head of security at the Estonian Defense Ministry. In 2004, when the country joined NATO, Simm established the National Security Authority, a department in the Defense Ministry which gave him access to whatever classified intelligence was shared among the then 26 allied countries. Two years later, Simm was awarded two medals: one from Estonia’s president for “service to the Estonian nation,” and the other from his Russian handler announcing Simm’s promotion to the rank of major-general in the SVR, the branch of Moscow’s own reconstituted KGB in charge of foreign intelligence.

    Simm had been a spy who fed reams of sensitive NATO secrets back to Moscow Center. […] He was finally arrested in 2008, a year after Russian cyber hackers shut down Estonia’s e-government and digital banking sector for the better part of 24 hours in retaliation for the relocation of a Red Army World War II monument, […]

    NATO subsequently named Simm the “most damaging” foreign operative in Alliance history. […]

    To quote from the new KAPO report:

    Moscow’s stance was also conveyed by a handful of extremists active in Estonia, who organized an anti-NATO picket and a so-called peace march. They did not find much of a following in society, but they met the goal of providing the Kremlin propaganda channels with verbal and photographic material to demonstrate ‘anti-NATO sentiment in Estonia’. […] This is yet another re-use of Cold War methods, by which a handful of paid activists attempted to stage the spontaneous support of the people for the Soviet Union and undermine the defense ability of the free world, […]

    […] a domestic security service is here alerting a society already pretty well attuned to the style and substance of fifth columns that foreign agents don’t turn up wearing name-tags that read “KGB.” They turn up as protestors […] bankrolled by Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s arm for dealing with “compatriots” abroad, or Russian-language media outlets […]

    The largely manufactured anti-NATO and anti-EU sentiment in Estonia competes with a favored trope of Kremlin revisionism about all the Baltic states: namely, that these sovereign democratic countries are in fact run by Nazi regimes seeking to subjugate their ethnic Russian or Russian-speaking populations. (If that sounds familiar, it is because Ukraine was sundered and Crimea annexed on precisely the same pretext.) […]

    As Director-General Arnold Sinisalu puts it in his introduction to the 2016 review, “Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the growth of social media has not resulted in a post-truth world, but in the onslaught of stupidity,” a sentence that should be hung on a shingle outside Steve Bannon’s office in the White House, so long as he still has one. […]

    You may have read that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, warrant issued by the U.S. Justice Department to surveil two Russian banks thought to be meddling in the U.S. election and that this tip-off came from one of the services in the Baltic states. “This is believed to be Estonia,” as the Guardian observed in an exclusive about how British spies were warning their American counterparts about the Trump campaign’s serial contacts with Russian operatives as early as 2015. […]

    Daily Beast link

  318. logicalcat says

    @448 Lynna OM

    I don’t suppose I could trouble you and everyone else here with some useful links that could help me debunk some of the claims Miller makes. I’ve heard these things repeated by anti-sjw/anti-feminist before. I know about the pharyngulawiki social justice roundup and its been very helpful, but it doesn’t hurt to have more information. Not sure if this post is off-topic or not.

  319. says

    From an article that is also a book review by David Masciotra we examine “what drives America’s never-ending case against Hillary Clinton.”

    […] Susan Bordo, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and feminist literary critic, interrogates the American media and political discourse in her new book, “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” with the hope of discovering how and why the flawed but largely noble political figure became the subject of such widespread scorn that survey respondents have consistently found her “less trustworthy” than her 2016 opponent, Donald Trump, a compulsive liar and snake oil-soaked con man.

    The result is an important but incomplete examination of the strange political life of Hillary Clinton. Bordo has provided an interpretively annotated campaign narrative, re-creating the horror show of 2016 almost week by week. […]

    Bordo sharpens her focus most clearly and closely on sexism, exposing how gender stereotypes, misogynistic assumptions and chauvinistic typecasting have made it nearly impossible for Clinton or her supporters to influence, much less control, public perceptions about her ideology and candidacy.

    In the 1990s, Bordo reminds readers, commentators objected to Clinton, calling her “Lady Macbeth of Little Rock” and an “aspiring philosopher queen.” Critics abhorred her radical feminism, believing she was an unsympathetic moralist. […] For the far left or hard right, she didn’t seem to possess any redeeming virtues and appeared to be a self-serving elitist. […]

    Millions of Americans also believe without awareness of cognitive dissonance, Clinton is a master manipulator of the political pair of aces — the woman’s card and victim card — and simultaneously an enabler of her husband’s adulterous affairs.

    The incoherence of Clinton hatred becomes more decipherable when Bordo cites polling data demonstrating that in 2015 Americans routinely ranked “least trustworthy” alongside Clinton, Carly Fiorina — an obscure Republican candidate with no prior experience in politics. A recent poll, not yet available when Bordo took to writing, has showed that any Democrat but Elizabeth Warren would currently defeat Donald Trump in an election. Can anyone guess what Clinton, Fiorina and Warren have in common?

    […] Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both appeared as if their jugulars would explode mid-speech as they bellowed at rallies, their faces turning red, but only Clinton faced relentless mockery and criticism for her “shrill” and “loud” delivery. […]

    Bordo makes the most of a Harvard University study of the primary showing that even aside from the email “scandal,” 84 percent of the television news coverage of the Clinton campaign was negative, compared with 43 percent for Trump’s and 17 percent for Sanders’.

    The avalanche of attacks on Clinton followed the mass media’s fixation on, what Daniel Boorstin, called “pseudo-events.” […]

    The most absurd pseudo-event, among many possibilities, was the “serious” discussion regarding Clinton’s health after she almost collapsed during a spell with pneumonia. Speculation that Clinton was near death dominated social media, while media outlets asked what Clinton was hiding. As of the time of this writing, Hillary Clinton is still alive.

    The existence of Hillary Clinton is objectionable to many Americans. In a strange and self-serving review of “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton,” Sarah Jones, the social media editor at the New Republic, accuses Susan Borno of “canonizing and infantilizing” Clinton before mawkishly defending millennials who refused to support the Democratic nominee for president. […]

  320. says

    logical cat @452, that’s not off-topic at all.

    On April 4 of this year (“equal pay day”), this conversation on CNN was enlightening:

    ALYSON CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Christine, today is equal pay day. Tell us what that means for all of us.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS: Well, the significance, to earn the same amount as their male counterparts make in one year, women have to work one year and part of the next year, too. That extra time ends today.

    Women earn about 80 cents for every dollar men make according to the Census Bureau. That works out to be a little more than $10,000 less per year. For a 20 year old entering the workforce it amounts to $418,000 over a 40-year career.

    Now, the gap has been slowly narrowing over the past generation. At this rate, it will be 44 more years until pay is equal between men and women in America, even longer for African-American and Hispanic women, a lot longer.

    The issue here is not that women choose lower paying occupations. Even in the same job categories men make more. Women working full-time in engineering earn 82 cents to every dollar a man makes; in education, 78 cents; in sales, 67 cents; and look at this, in law, one of the worst disparities, just 56 cents.

    Experts disagree on why women on average make less. How to fix it, equally difficult. Some way congress needs [to establish] national standards on pay transparency, because so many companies keep all of this pay data private. Others say more support for working parents, men and women. Let’s be honest they hit their peak at work at the moment they’re also growing their families.

    From the April 4 edition of CNN’s New Day

  321. says

    In answer to logicalcat’s question in comment 454, here is another resource:

    […] “Women aren’t assertive enough to ask for raises.”

    In a 2007 study, it was found that male employers are less likely to hire a woman who negotiates about salary, as the men perceive these women as “demanding.” Many women are aware they will be punished for acting in such a way and some will avoid this, by no fault of the woman but by fault of the culture.

    “Women earn less because they take time off for motherhood.”

    It is estimated that for every child a woman has, she suffers a five percent wage penalty. Studies show that in comparison with female managers who are not pregnant, those who are pregnant are perceived to be less committed to the job, less dependable, and more emotional. Studies show part-time work, lower experience, and interrupted work only contributed to one-third of the motherhood penalty. Discrimination plays a significant role in the limitations for working mothers.

    I will add that expecting women to take time off work for childcare, and not men, is a social problem. It can be solved.

    […] Professors Lawrence Kahn and Francine Blau at Cornell University estimated that one-third of the gap in female participation in the labor force is a result of poor family leave and workplace flexibility. The United States is the only wealthy country that does not have paid maternity leave.

    […] Research has shown that employers are less likely to hire women with children compared to childless women and that if they do choose to hire a mother, employers offer a lower salary than they do to other women. Women with children are punished with the motherhood penalty, whereas fathers actually earn more when they have children. […]

    “Saying women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes is an exaggeration.”

    […] In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was passed, women only made 59 cents on the dollar. That figure rose to 77 cents by 2004 and has increased by less than half a penny every year since.

    “Women choose lower-paying careers than men so it’s understandable they make less money.”

    Women do tend to choose lower-paying careers and the fact that those careers are paid lower is part of the problem. However, a wage gap exists regardless.

    […] After accounting for occupation, hours worked, age, college major, and many other factors, an astonishing seven percent difference between the earnings of women and men was left unaccounted for within a year of graduation and a 12 percent unexplained difference was found within 10 years. […]

    “Women in ‘male’ jobs such as computer programming still face a pay gap compared with their male counterparts.” In 2012, female computer programmers earned 84% of what male computer programmers earned. Female financial managers earned an astounding 70% of what male financial managers earned. […]

    http://now.org/resource/the-gender-pay-gap-myth-vs-fact/

  322. says

    An excerpt from Joy Reid’s essay, “The Tale of Trump: Power Not Greatness.”

    […]This week, we watched at town halls across the country, as people who consider themselves good, Christian men insisted to furious crowds that yes, they would take away millions of people’s healthcare in order to liberate insurance companies from federal regulations, that they would continue to support Trump’s profligacy as he squanders the nation’s money on weekly trips to his golf resort and his wife’s New York City pied-a-terre, that Planned Parenthood would be defunded on their watch, and that nothing their constituents could say would change their minds.

    Republicans in Congress sold our privacy to Internet service providers, and our clean water to the coal companies, without a second thought. They’re gearing up to hand the wealthiest Americans extravagant tax cuts while slashing funding for the elderly, the poor and the needy, all while refusing to use their power as a co-equal branch of government to make the rogue president show the country his tax returns before signing off on a tax plan likely to benefit himself and his heirs. […]

    Reid’s essay begins with a summary of Team Trump sycophants comparing themselves to Martin Luther King Jr., and that is also well worth reading.

  323. says

    Update on North Korea: the country held a military parade today to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of Kim Jong-un.

    North Korea showed off what appeared to a series of new missiles and launchers at its huge annual military parade in a clear message that it is ready to defend itself as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier approached the region. The apparently new long-range and submarine-based missiles were the stars of the military parade […]

    As Kim watched, row after row of military bands and goose-stepping soldiers marched alongside tanks and missiles. Amid all the military show of force, experts detected what looked like two new intercontinental ballistic missiles (some analysts said only one was really new), which would technically raise the possibility that Pyongyang could strike the mainland United States. Still, analysts say North Korea often shows off mock-ups of new technology it has yet to master and the consensus is it is still some time away from being able to fire an intercontinental missile that can cross the Pacific. […]

    While Kim himself didn’t speak during the Day of the Sun parade, other top officials made sure Pyongyang’s message was heard loud and clear. “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war,” Choe Ryong Hae, seen as the country’s second most powerful official, warned. “We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks.” State news agency KCNA also said that Trump’s “serious military hysteria” had reached a “dangerous phase which can no longer be overlooked.” […]

    Slate link

  324. says

    From Nerd’s last link in comment 456:

    […] Yes, it’s illegal to pay women less than men for the same work (thanks, Equal Pay Act of 1963!) Unfortunately, it still happens. There’s not exactly a whole lot of transparency when it comes to wages, and enforcing the law means an employee has to learn they’re being discriminated against and then take their employer to court. Without additional steps to encourage transparency and reduce the possibility of retribution, the law doesn’t quite cut it. […]

  325. says

    Tax protest was good!

    KG:

    Opinion polls in France indicate that either Macron or Mélenchon would beat Le Pen easily in a run-off, despite what some of Mélenchon’s supporters are quoted as saying in your linked article. Either is also predicted to beat Fillon. Macron is predicted to beat Mélenchon if those are the two in the run-off. Calling Mélenchon “anti-EU” is an over-simplification: he wants to renegotiate the treaties that in effect enforce neoliberal economic policies and since 2008, “austerity”, on all EU governments. It’s unlikely he could get everything he wants, but the EU cannot survive without France, so he probably would get some serious concessions. His domestic policies are – if he could carry them through – seriously pro-equality, anti-racist, and pro-environmental. His victory would be a serious boost for left political forces throughout southern Europe. He also wants to leave NATO – which has always been the instrument of American elite power. I do have concerns about his attitude to Putin, but on balance, of the four candidates who seem to be in with a chance of winning the Presidency, I favour Mélenchon.

    I should have noted that my point in linking to and quoting from the article concerned not the description of Mélenchon’s program but the expressed plan of many of his supporters to refuse to vote at all if he doesn’t make the runoff, which is stupid, callous, and reckless (even if it wouldn’t swing things her way, and I’m not resting easy about any outcomes – still don’t know if the Kremlin or PutiLeaks have anything up their sleeves).

    As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m gobsmacked that anyone on the Left would be anything other than hostile towards Putin’s regime. “I oppose US imperialism so I’m more favorable to an authoritarian kleptocrat who with his oligarchs has stolen billions of his country’s riches, suppressed protests, and murdered journalists and the opposition”? How is that supposed to be defensible? Putin doesn’t even pretend to be leftwing, or to share any of Mélenchon’s values. Is it just like a hangover from the Cold War?

  326. KG says

    Lynna, OM@451,

    I’d be a bit more sceptical of theDaily Beast report than you. Here’s another quote from it:

    at least before the hacking of the Democratic Party’s correspondence and Rachel Maddow’s late conversion into Whitaker Chambers, the M.O. was to downplay Russian penetration and sabotage efforts.

    for those who don’t know, Whitaker Chambers was a one-time Soviet spy who became a fanatical anti-communist. Is that a fair comparison with Rachel Maddow?
    And here’s part of your quote’s quote from the KAPO report, with the next sentence included:

    This is yet another re-use of Cold War methods, by which a handful of paid activists attempted to stage the spontaneous support of the people for the Soviet Union and undermine the defense ability of the free world, under the slogan ‘the fight for peace’ in western societies, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

    This is simply a repetition of the old right-wing lie that the western European peace movement during the Cold War was a Soviet puppet.

    As for neo-Nazi activities in the Baltic States, which the article implies are practically non-existent, they most certainly do exist, see for example here, and here. Moeover, these activities often appear to have an alarming degree of sympathy from Baltic state governments and “respectable” political parties. Of course Putin exploits such things, as he did and does in Ukraine. That doesn’t mean they should be airbrushed out as the Daily Beast article does.

  327. says

    KG @462

    As for neo-Nazi activities in the Baltic States, which the article implies are practically non-existent, they most certainly do exist, see for example here, and here. Moeover, these activities often appear to have an alarming degree of sympathy from Baltic state governments and “respectable” political parties. Of course Putin exploits such things, as he did and does in Ukraine. That doesn’t mean they should be airbrushed out as the Daily Beast article does.

    I agree.

  328. says

    Follow-up to comment 458.

    On what was Sunday in North Korea (tomorrow for the USA), a ballistic missile launch failed.

    […] The attempt comes a day after North Korea held a military parade showing off its latest missiles, amid increased tensions in the region over its nuclear program.

    “The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed,” the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement reported by Reuters, adding it was analyzing the launch.

    U.S. Pacific Command said the ballistic missile “blew up almost immediately,” while the type of missile was still being assessed.

    “U.S. Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security,” spokesman Cmdr Dave Benham said in a statement. […]

    Link

  329. says

    In the 25-54 demographic, Rachel Maddow has been beating her Fox News competition, Tucker Carlson. Fox News is not happy that Maddow’s ratings are higher than Fox News’ ratings. Fox recently criticized Maddow for spending so much time covering the Trump-Russia story.

    I think Fox takes almost the same view that Trump does, namely that “Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by Dems.”

    Maddow responded to such criticism during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter:

    We’ve put a lot of effort into the Russia scandal and I don’t regret that, and I intend to be as aggressive as I possibly can on that story because here is a scandal that is of transcendent, historic importance and is existentially about whether or not this presidency should exist or whether it is the product of a crime.

    Hollywood Reporter link.

    The interview covers a lot of other subjects as well.

  330. says

    Another excerpt from the interview with Rachel Maddow (see link in comment 466):

    Interviewer says: You did get his [Trump’s] attention by revealing his 2005 tax return on TV. They said you were “desperate” for ratings.

    Maddow replies: Do you know the funny little backstory about that? That line in the statement, the “desperate for ratings” line, was not in the statement that they gave us. So they gave us the statement, we read the whole statement on the air, and then they subsequently put out that statement, plus the “desperate for ratings” line. And then told everybody that we were too afraid to use that line in the statement, which they had not given us until after we had already released the statement that they gave us. I was like, “That is some junior high stuff.”

  331. logicalcat says

    Thanks Lynna and Nerd. Ill add these to the bookmarks. The worst thing is that a lot of times when I link to evidence they get ignored then I get accused of resorting to sjw style tactics. Which I’ve learned to mean “backing up your claims with evidence”.

  332. microraptor says

    Being called an SJW is an indication that they can’t refute your argument and must therefore resort to name-calling.

  333. says

    Trump’s tweeting again:

    Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!

    IOW, “I use words purely instrumentally. My calling them a currency manipulator never had anything to do with reality, in which I have no interest. I resort to such allegations when I find them politically or financially profitable, which I might again in the future. I’m also such a dipshit that I’m broadcasting my thought process to the world.”

    Two more:

    I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?

    Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!

    It’s not going to stop. You can fool yourself with your lies and cheap salesman talk, but you won’t fool us or the investigations. We won’t let you and your sociopathic party destroy this country.