Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. Oh god the madness will never end.

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

    Follow-up to comment 497 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Michael Wolff reaponds to Steve Bannon:

    Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” on Monday said former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s claim that he meant to criticize Paul Manafort rather than Donald Trump Jr. for a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer they both attended was “false.”

    “Listen, I like Steve. I’m grateful for the time he gave me, the insights he gave me, and I don’t want to put him in more hot water than he is already in, but that statement is false,” Wolff said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

    The Guardian last week reported, based on Wolff’s book, that Bannon called Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” and said that special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, was “going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

    On Sunday, Bannon said his remarks were actually aimed at Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chair during the 2016 election. He did not apologize to Trump Jr.

    Wolff on Monday said that Bannon’s claim was untrue, and that Trump Jr. was the true target of Bannon’s original remarks.

    “It was not directed at Manafort,” Wolff said. “It was directed directly at Don Jr.” […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  2. says

    Again, Trump confirms the fundamental assumptions in Wolff’s book, tweeting that his administration has so far been an “enormously consensual” presidency. Say what now?

    For a few minutes Sunday night, President Donald Trump claimed his has been an “enormously consensual” presidency.

    The claim was a typo, part of a string of tweets excerpting a New York Post column praising Trump’s administration. The original post was soon replaced with one that contained the intended word, “consequential,” but that didn’t stop the president’s tweet from becoming the subject of online ridicule.

    “‘His is turning out to be an enormously consensual presidency. So much so that there has never been a day that I wished Hillary Clinton were President. Not one. Indeed, as Trump’s accomplishments accumulate, the mere thought of Clinton in the W.H., doubling down on Obama’s failed policies, washes away any doubts that America made the right choice,” Trump originally wrote, citing a weekend column by the Post’s Michael Goodwin. “’This was truly a change election, and the changes Trump is bringing are far-reaching and necessary.’ Thank you Michael Goodwin! (Please read entire column) mgoodwin@nypost.com

    The tweet stood out in part because multiple women have accused the president of harassment or abuse. Trump was also caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women without consequence. The president has denied the accusations against him. […]

    Link

  3. says

    “Jared Kushner’s company under renewed scrutiny over Chinese and Israeli deals”:

    Jared Kushner’s business dealings are under renewed scrutiny amid reports that the US’s top financial watchdog is looking into an investment-for-visa program run by the Kushner family’s real estate company and questions have been raised about his business dealings in Israel.

    On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the real estate empire run by the family of Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting information.

    Separately, the Kushner real estate company has reportedly entered into business relationships with Israeli financial institutions since Jared Kushner sought to establish himself as the administration’s Middle East peace broker.

    According to the New York Times Kushner’s company received an investment nearing $30m from Menora Mivtachim, one of Israel’s largest insurers, in the spring of 2017, shortly before the president and his son-in-law visited the country. According to the report, the funds were directed into a Maryland development.

    Kushner, who has been charged with brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, has taken out at least four loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank and currently under a US Department of Justice criminal investigation.

    Both developments contribute to concern that Kushner’s White House role is compromised by the family’s foreign business dealings.

    Confirmation that the SEC is looking into Kushner’s New Jersey development comes as federal prosecutors have requested documents from the company pertaining to a $285m loan the firm received from Deutsche Bank. Last March, the company was forced to abandon a project with Chinese insurance giant Anbang to convert its 666 Fifth Avenue flagship building into luxury residential units using EB-5 financing.

  4. says

    Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, is a disgrace:

    […] Paul LePage hates the poors and has taken any number of steps to stop them from whooping it up on the public dime, whether he’s imposing work requirements and asset limitations on food stamp recipients, or trying to prohibit them from buying baloney that’s too good for them. LePage’s latest attempt […] involves taking $1.7 million in cash welfare funding and, instead of distributing it to needy families, paying Christian-run outfits to hold after-school classes to tell teenagers to not get pregnant.

    […] if you give money to people in poverty through the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, they’ll only waste that cash on fripperies like clothes or shoes or other godless foolishness. As we’ve noted previously, even as the number of families in poverty has increased, Maine has actually cut back by two-thirds on the assistance it provides through TANF. That’s resulted in a big surplus of unspent TANF funds that could go to poor families, but won’t.

    […] TANF rules allow the diversion of some TANF funds to other programs, as long as they help kids in some way; since 2015, Maine has been spending money on nifty after-school programs that will supposedly reduce teen pregnancy, or at least tell teenagers not to fuck — or to get married if they do.

    […] It gets even better: A spokesperson from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services couldn’t specify to the Bangor Daily News what kind of quality control they have for the programs, how the department chose the programs in the first place, or even a basic question like the number of kids being served by the after-school programs. But it’s definitely worthwhile, because if the programs DO convince several thousand teens not to get pregnant, just think of all the money the state will save! No, there doesn’t appear to be any mechanism to evaluate whether the programs are actually preventing pregnancy. Why do you ask?

    As Slate points out, Maine isn’t the only state to shift TANF funds away from actual cash payments to poor families instead treating TANF as a slush fund to cover other state programs:

    Only half of TANF money is being spent directly on cash assistance, child care and work support. Some states spend less than 20 percent of their TANF funding on these core concerns. Unsurprisingly, many of the states that have done the most to cut off assistance to people in poverty are those run by Republican governors and legislatures.

    As Slate reported last year, some states use TANF money on marriage counseling programs, often attended by middle-class couples who have no need of financial assistance. Marketplace found that Michigan has started using TANF money for college scholarships, half of which go to middle- and upper-class families.

    This is really great news, since obviously it means poverty is vanishing — or at least it should, just as soon as all the anti-poverty programs’ funds are redistributed upward. (As we already know, while rich people need more money as an incentive to go to work, poor people need less money as an incentive to go to work.) Perhaps on that glorious day when all anti-poverty programs are discontinued, poor people will finally get it through their heads that they should stop being poor. Then America truly will be great again.

    Link

  5. says

    Axios published examples of Trump’s daily schedule:

    […] On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has “Executive Time” for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it’s another 1 hour 15 minutes of “Executive Time” followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of “Executive Time” before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45pm meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm. […]

    Link

  6. says

    Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Richard Blumenthal have written an open letter to Chuck Grassley demanding that the transcript of the Glenn Simpson interview be released:

    Dear Chairman Grassley:

    We write to call for the immediate release of the transcript of the Judiciary Committee’s interview with Glenn Simpson, CEO of Fusion GPS. Sadly, attacks on Simpson and Christopher Steele, as well as selective leaks of parts of Simpson’s Congressional testimony, have recently become a distraction from our work investigating the breathtaking proven and alleged crimes of the Russian government and the Trump team. The American people deserve the facts. There is simply no reason to keep the Simpson testimony (or other testimony before our committee for that matter) hidden while this distraction goes on.

    We applauded the Committee and the Chairman when we undertook in the Committee to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and related interference with the law enforcement investigations of this matter. The Judiciary Committee particularly has a role to play in revealing efforts to undermine the work of the Department of Justice. Given public reports showing that President Trump has used multiple avenues to disrupt the Justice Department’s investigation of his Administration – ultimately firing the FBI Director and nearly firing the Attorney General when improper and unlawful demands from the White House were not heeded – it is clear that the Judiciary Committee has profoundly critical work to do.

    However, selective evidence related to Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele does not appear to shed meaningful light on this important work. Recent reporting has made clear what was long apparent from the facts gathered by our Committee: the Steele Dossier was simply corroborating evidence supporting the U.S. government’s investigation into Russian election meddling. That investigation was initiated based on information that originated within the Trump campaign itself, with concerned foreign allies, and with other intelligence sources. Russian interference, and the threat that interference will continue in upcoming elections, has been verified by the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities.

    Diverting our focus from Russian interference to Glenn Simpson or Christopher Steele is, in our view, a misallocation of scarce resources. To the extent that you believe continued attention to those individuals is warranted, the American people should be allowed to decide for themselves. Therefore, we – like the Committee’s Ranking Member – believe that the full transcript of our interview with Glenn Simpson should be released to the public.

    Thank you for your attention to this critical issue. We look forward to working with you going forward.

  7. says

    This sounds like a good move: Tom Steyer bought 535 copies of Fire and Fury—one for each member of Congress. Citizen volunteers will deliver the books to each elected Congress critter.

    Link

  8. says

    I know this isn’t news, but the Kochs are amazingly villainous. “Civics lessons,” indeed.

    …“We want people to make an educated decision for themselves. We really feel that in the Hispanic community, people need to know these topics,” Velasquez said. “You have people coming to Florida from all over the world, and they don’t understand how the system works. A lot of things get miscommunicated or misunderstood. So, we want to educate people about the principles that are close to our hearts, and then leave it to them.”

    “It’s a win-win. They get the needed guidance and tools they’re going to need to transition faster. But it’s also an opportunity for us to educate them on the ideas that we feel make America strong — the principles of economic freedom,” he said….

    WTAF?! Guidance? Transition? Don’t understand how the system works? They’re from Puerto Rico!

    (Also, in the bit about Libre’s “educational” opportunity, he’s basically admitting to this being a political endeavor disguised as a purely charitable one, which is illegal.)

  9. says

    “Tom Steyer will plow $30 million into midterms, but won’t run for office in 2018”:

    Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who has spent more than $100 million since 2016 on political campaigns, will forgo any run for office this year and focus instead on ending Republican control of the House of Representatives.

    “People have been asking me for 12 months and five days what I’m going to run for,” Steyer said in an interview before a news conference in downtown D.C. “I’m not going to run for anything. I’ve said all along, the question I always ask is: Where can I make the most differential impact? And when I look at the jobs I can run for in California, they all have reputable Democrats running for them already.”

    Having ruled that out, and while raising his national presence with a $20 million campaign to impeach President Trump, Steyer now plans to spend $30 million to build NextGen Rising, his 2018 campaign to increase millennial voter turnout. The targets are 24 Republican-controlled congressional districts and a handful of swing seats currently held by Democrats, in 10 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. That money will supplement ongoing Steyer-funded NextGen efforts; it could also be increased as the campaign goes on.

    In the interview, Steyer did not set out conditions for Democrats in these races, or suggest that he would intervene in primaries. As in Virginia, where NextGen spent $2 million to register and turn out young voters, Steyer wanted to put his money behind voter mobilization to get Republicans out of office, and it would take 24 Republican defeats to flip the House.

    Steyer would not, in other words, intervene in races only if the Democrats promised to pursue the impeachment of the president. That was the sort of action that worried Democrats last year, when Steyer launched a “Need to Impeach” campaign that has put him on cable news commercial breaks — identified as “Tom Steyer, citizen” — many times a day….

  10. says

    “Trump named top ‘press oppressor’ alongside world’s most brutal dictators”:

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday released a list of the world’s worst press oppressors — and Donald Trump took home home the top honor, beating out dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    The list of global press oppressors recognizes world leaders “who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.” It was released in response to Trump’s upcoming “fake news” awards ceremony.

    Trump was named the winner of the “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” award for going “above and beyond to silence critical voices and weaken democracy.”

    While the effects of Trump’s attacks on the press are felt at home, they are most dire abroad. According to CPJ, with countries like the United States failing to hold repressive leaders accountable for their treatment of the press, the number of journalists in prison globally has reached a record high.

    Trump’s disdain for the free press threatens fundamental democratic values. He took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution — and every time he attacks the press, he is attacking the basic principles that make America the great nation it is.

  11. says

    SC @15, Royce’s retirement is another opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat in the House. Also, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, and Arpaio is such a flawed candidate that Democrats may have an opportunity there as well. Arpaio must be deluded if he thinks he would make a good Senator.

  12. says

    What could possibly go wrong? Trump is going to attend the World economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    “The President welcomes opportunities to advance his America First agenda with world leaders,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “At this year’s World Economic Forum, the President looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries, and American workers.”

  13. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Ivanka Trump trying to jump on the #TIMESUP bandwagon, “Ivanka Trump Says #TIMESUP For Sexual Predators Who Aren’t Currently Her Dad”:

    Did everybody see the big speech Oprah Winfrey made at the Golden Globes? It was inspiring! It was empowering! She said TIME’S UP for people who don’t listen to women who speak up about the harassment they’ve dealt with at the hands of powerful men! In the aftermath of the speech, Winfrey was crowned the Democratic presidential nominee for 2020, haha just kidding no she wasn’t, we only typed that to annoy people who are being way too serious about whether or not Oprah Winfrey is running for president in the year 2020, considering how it is JANUARY 9, 2018, AT THE MOMENT, AND WE HAVE MIDTERM ELECTIONS TO WIN.

    Ivanka Trump watched Oprah’s speech and boy howdy she liked it!

    Just saw @Oprah‘s empowering & inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP! #United.

    YEAH! That’s right, Ivanka Trump, you tell ’em #TIMESUP! Start by telling YOUR DAD! […]

    Response from Alyssa Milano:

    Great! You can make a lofty donation to the Time’s Up Legal Defense fund that is available to support your father’s accusers.

  14. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 26.

    READ: Transcript Of Dossier Firm’s Senate Judiciary Interview Released By Feinstein

    […] “After speaking with majority and minority committee staff for 10 hours, Glenn Simpson requested the transcript of his interview be released publicly. The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.” […]

    We’re currently scouring the 300-page transcript and will be updating with additional details as we go.

    In the Republican Judiciary staff’s first round of questioning, they focused in on Fusion GPS’ work in the Prevezon case, a financial crimes case the Justice Department brought against the Russian firm Prevezon Holdings. Fusion GPS worked for the law firm hired by Prevezon. […]

    Transcript available at the link.

  15. says

    Follow-up to SC in comment 19.

    From Rick Hasen, an elections-law expert at UC-Irvine, writing for Slate:

    […] With the consent decree gone, the RNC will for the first time in 35 years be free to begin anew efforts to spur purges of voter rolls and take potentially suppressive ballot security measures in the name of preventing voter fraud. No doubt RNC lawyers would advise against taking these steps, at least for a while, to forestall the DNC from running back to court seeking to have the consent decree reinstated.

    But with Trump the real head of the Republican Party these days, it is quite possible he could order a national effort to combat phantom voter fraud, just like he did with his own campaign. Indeed, making false claims about Democratic and minority voter chicanery is a cornerstone of Trump’s divisive agenda. Yelling voter fraud riles up the base, helps with fundraising, and can depress minority voter turnout.

    The Trump era has caused voting rights activists to be extra vigilant against efforts to suppress the vote, from Trump’s faux “election integrity” commission to the Department of Justice’s reversal of an Obama-era position against a particular form of voter purging in Ohio. But the removal of the consent decree could supercharge voter suppression efforts, offering Trump the opportunity to hijack the RNC and direct it toward his own efforts to explain away his 3 million voter loss in the American popular vote and rile his base against poor and minority voters. […]

  16. says

    About 55 minutes of a meeting on Immigration, headed by Trump and attended by the leadership of both parties, was aired on many cable channels.

    Republicans are trying to spin this as showing that Trump is smart and in charge. I don’t see it that way. He leaned heavily on his previous talking points; and even when he seemed to agree with points made by Democrats, he swiftly reverted to talking points about the WALL, chain migration, visa lotteries, etc. In all of those talking points, he voiced factual errors and some outright lies.

    It should be a “bill of love” but also the country needs stronger borders to stem drugs from coming through, Trump said. […]

    Trump said other countries “give you the people they don’t want” and “the United States takes those people.”

    He also seemed unwilling to do any actual work himself:

    My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.

    As a deal-maker, he would voice agreement with Dianne Feinstein, and then immediately take that agreement back:

    […] Regarding how Congress should move forward, Trump agreed to, apparently, all options. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Trump whether he would support “a clean DACA bill now with a commitment to do comprehensive [reform] next?”

    “I would agree to that.”

    But when Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed back, proposing that border security be included in that “clean” bill, Trump appeared to believe that was what he had just agreed to. He also asserted the same in response to reporter questions.

    So he doesn’t appear to know what he’s agreeing to, or what it will contain, and he appears in fact to be indifferent to what policy comes out of the talks, saying his own positions will be whatever the assembled crowd “comes up with.”

    Also not present: notions that Mexico will pay for any of it. […].

    Link

    Trump gave a double thumbs-up for the cameras.

  17. says

    Actual words from the mouth of the “stable genius”:

    I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people … but I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA, we take care of them, and we also take care of security.

  18. says

    The STABLE GENIUS Act was introduced in Congress:

    A Democratic Congressman is introducing a bill which would require presidential candidates to undergo a mental health exam before running for office — a clear broadside at Trump after the president tweeted he’s a “very stable genius.”

    Brendan F. Boyle, from the 13th District in Pennsylvania, introduced the STABLE GENIUS Act on Tuesday, otherwise known as the “Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection” Act. […]

    A bit awkward for a title, but I appreciate the effort.

    Standardizing
    Testing and
    Accountability
    Before
    Large
    Elections

    Giving
    Electors
    Necessary
    Information for
    Unobstructed
    Selection

    Act to ensure that Presidential candidates are fit to lead.

  19. blf says

    ACLU: Police pepper sprayed child during inauguration:

    Police officers “knocked down” a 10-year-old boy and exposed him and his mother to pepper spray during a rally against US President [sic] Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to amendments to a lawsuit […] originally filed by [ACLU-DC] on behalf of four plaintiffs in June, was amended on Wednesday to add the 10-year-old boy and his mother […].

    […]

    When police kettled a group of demonstrators, bystanders, journalists, medics and others who had been present during an anti-fascist and anti-capitalist bloc march, the officers continued to use pepper spray and other weapons, such as stinger grenades, against them.

    [The mother (Gwen Frisbie-Fulton) and child (A.S)], who had been nearby, were caught in the mayhem, according to the lawsuit.

    “As she and A.S. tried to escape the spraying, a line of officers knocked A.S. to the ground. Frisbie-Fulton picked A.S. up and tried to carry him away from the melee, but she coughed and choked from the thick clouds of pepper spray, and could not carry him further,” the ACLU-DC’s statement explained.

    Frisbie-Fulton claimed the officers endangered her and her son’s safety.

    […] Scott Michelman, senior staff attorney at the ACLU-DC, said the addition of Frisbie-Fulton and her son to the lawsuit “reveals the extent of the police department’s wantonness on Inauguration Day”.

    “There is no argument that the 10-year-old peaceful protester or his mother were part of any riot or posed any threat,” Michelman said, arguing that the incident further demonstrated that “the police were out of control that day”.

    […]

    The complaint’s amendments also identified 27 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers, among them eight supervisors, who the ACLU-DC alleges ordered or engaged in unlawful police conduct[. … Michelman said] “Unlike the US Attorney’s Office, which charged over 200 people criminally based on the actions of a few, we tried very hard to only name people we have reason to believe personally did something wrong, either by using excessive force or ordering some of the constitutional violations we allege.”

    […]

    The Washington, DC, City Council paid a consultant group, The Police Foundation, to investigate police conduct during the Inauguration Day protests.

    That move has been blasted by critics who claim The Police Foundation has a history of bias in favour of police accused of wrongdoing.

    The ACLU-DC’s Michelman added: “The police’s responsibility is to act with restraint, to respond to only instances where they have probable cause particular individuals broke the law and to not conduct mass roundups or use chemical weapons indiscriminately.”

  20. blf says

    Oh for fecks sake, I thought this nonsense had been squished last year by the courts, but it’s back, French town bans pork-free school meals in move branded ‘anti-Muslim’ (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Decision by far-right local authority in southern France, affecting about 150 mainly Muslim pupils, has been called ‘an attack on the rights of children’
    […]
    Julien Sanchez, the National Front [le penazi –blf] mayor of Beaucaire, a town south of Avignon, abolished the [pork-free school meal] scheme, brought in by his predecessor, on the first day of the new school term.

    The step affects about 150 — mainly Muslim — pupils who take the “substitution meals” out of 600 local students in total.

    Marlene Schiappa, the minister for sexual equality told BFM TV the decision was “a typical example of someone brandishing secularism as an anti-Muslim political weapon, or anti-Jewish for that matter”.

    In a newspaper article announcing the policy change in December, Sanchez said the pork-free meals were anti-Republican.

    The opposition leader in Beaucaire, Laure Cordelet, called it “an attack on the rights of children” which “stigmatises the Maghreb {north African} community and can in no way be justified in the name of secularism”.

    […]

    Ms Schiappa & Ms Cordelet are correct, that action and the spurious reason given are straight out of the Islamaphobe Français Handbook.

  21. says

    To the Trump administration: You did what? Why?

    In a sudden move that took many industry stakeholders by surprise, the Trump administration last month ended the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), a database of more than 400 resources and programs geared toward the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and mental illnesses.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which funded NREPP, confirmed to ThinkProgress in a statement that the registry’s current contract was discontinued.

    NREPP began in 1997 and had since been remodeled to include treatment interventions. Some of the recent programs added to the registry — which is still online, but hasn’t been updated since September — included a recovery and support group program for opioid addiction, a depression prevention intervention program, a substance abuse prevention program aimed at middle school students, and a therapy program for Puerto Rican teenagers suffering from depression. […]

    […] during the Obama administration, the agency hired contractors to oversee the evaluation of NREPP programs. “What is different now? How is SAMHSA going to do that in house? What internal resources have they committed?” Throckmorton asked. [Grove City College psychology professor Warren Throckmorton]

    Those contractors, the Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG), were taken by surprise when they were informed last month of the decision to terminate funding for the program. According to an email obtained by Throckmorton, DSG notified program participants that NREPP was terminated “for the convenience of the government.”

    “We are deeply saddened by the government’s sudden decision to end the NREPP contract, under which we have been able to provide and strengthen science-based information about mental health and substance use treatment and prevention programs, both nationally and internationally,” the DSG email read, according to Throckmorton. […]

    Think Progress link

  22. says

    Trump’s predictable response to the idea that Oprah might run for president in 2020:

    I don’t think she’s going to run. I know her very well. Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun.

  23. says

    More Trumpian dismantling of State Department functions, related this time to refugee admissions to the U.S.:

    A top official at the State Department working on refugee admissions has reportedly been moved to a temporary assignment in what some fear is part of the Trump administration’s plan to stifle the flow of refugees resettling in the United States.

    Reuters reported Tuesday that Lawrence Bartlett, head of refugee admissions at the State Department’s Population, Refugees and Migration bureau, had been temporarily reassigned to a different office that handles Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    Bartlett, who has served in this position since 2010, stressed in an email to Reuters that he has not been told the assignment is permanent. “I can assure you that I have NOT been permanently reassigned from my position with the refugee program,” he told Reuters in an email.

    Current and former officials, however, say that such an assignment is unusual for someone with Bartlett’s rank and experience. The FOIA office, they said, is like being reassigned to “Siberia.” […]

    The number of refugees arriving in the U.S. has plummeted since President Trump lifted a temporary ban but implemented tougher rules for vetting applicants in late October. The Trump administration has also effectively halted admissions from 11 countries, nine of which have a majority-Muslim population. […]

    “We are of course extremely concerned, looking at what’s happened with other government departments, that he [Bartlett] will be replaced by a political appointee who is just going to continue to destroy the program,” Hans Van de Weerd, vice president of U.S. programs at the International Rescue Committee, told Reuters. […]

    Link

  24. says

    Follow up to comments 26 and 29.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Senator Feinstein’s release of the Fusion GPS transcript:

    […] As we type this, Senator Feinstein is sitting in a dog-and-pony show White House meeting talking about DACA and Trump’s damn border wall, and that is the EXACT moment she chose to go ahead and release the testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned British spy Christopher Steele to do the work that became known as THE DODGY DOSSIER, demanded last week in a New York Times op-ed that the transcript of Simpson’s testimony be released, but GOP members of the Congressional intelligence and judiciary committees DIDN’T WANNA, because that would make it more difficult for them to engage in their public witch hunt against Fusion GPS and the dossier.
    […] How can these complicit, compromised motherfuckers obstruct justice for Donald Trump in the Russia investigation if they can’t impugn the integrity of the spy who uncovered a lot of intelligence related to the conspiracy, and of the intelligence firm that hired him? […]

    Apparently, Feinstein, the Democratic vice chair of the committee, is tired of this horseshit. SO LO UNTO US A FUSION GPS TRANSCRIPT IS GIVEN. Shall we read it together and live-blog it for the rest of the afternoon? Why the fuck not.

    Fix yourself a pot of coffee and get a blanket, we’re going to be here a while!

    2:05: Oh hi! We are 25 pages into the thing, and the big thing we can tell you so far is that investigators for the GOP go DIRECTLY into trying to GOTCHA! Simpson into admitting that Fusion GPS [and their clients] (HILLARY!) use their research to trick the FBI into starting investigations (TRUMP RUSSIA HOAX!). Simpson is like “not so much, but thank you for your nice question!”

    2:17: 31 pages in! GOP Congressional investigators are trying VERY HARD to lead Simpson into ADMITTING! that somehow Fusion GPS’s work in a case representing the Russian company Prevezon was somehow related to Fusion GPS’s work with Christopher Steele, FOR AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CLIENT. If the GOP can prove that, then it was Hillary Clinton and Fusion GPS colluding with the Russians! This is the GOP’s conspiracy theory about Fusion GPS, in a nutshell. The GOP is kinda stupid, or they think you are (or both). […]

    2:35: We are on page 51 (out of 312) and in a long section about Bill Browder, who used to be the biggest foreign investor in Russia, and who has championed the Magnitsky Acts around the world, the laws punishing human rights-abusing oligarchs in Russia for the prison murder of tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed MASSIVE corruption in Putin’s regime. […]

    2:49: “Mr. Simpson, do you make up the answers for your investigations, or do you follow the facts where they lead you?”

    “Thank you for asking that very obvious question, Democratic investigator person! We are professionals and we go where the facts lead us!” […]

    2:52: Still on page 59:
    “Mr. Simpson, when you have two different clients, do you put them in a bathtub together so they can share their secrets with each other?”

    “Actually, that’s not our thing! It’s kind of like how a law firm can have more than one client at a time, or a Big Lots can have more than one shopper looking for big sales in the store at the same time.”

    “So the GOP’s whole thing about how you worked on the Russian case and ALSO retained Chris Steele to look into Trump means you were COLLUDING WITH THE RUSSIANS TO HELP HILLARY is kind of bullshit?”

    “That’s right.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Simpson.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  25. says

    Update on the Net Neutrality issue:

    The Senate will hold a vote on net neutrality – albeit a symbolic one. Less than a month after the Federal Communications Commission reversed Obama-era rules that prohibited internet providers from blocking or slowing down certain websites, or accepting payment for faster service, Democratic senators have collected enough support to force a vote to block the changes from taking effect.

    The Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, are using a vehicle known as a Congressional Review Act, or CRA, which is essentially an official form of disapproval of the FCC’s action. If passed, it would block the commission’s new rules. If 30 senators call for a CRA, they can make the entire Senate vote on it. Claire McCaskill became the 30th senator to get behind Markey’s move. None of them are Republicans.

    To take effect, the CRA would need majority votes in both houses, in addition to sign-off from the president. Given that Republicans have almost unanimously supported the FCC’s new rules, the prospects for the CRA are dim. But in this case having a vote is the entire point. Democrats are eager to make net neutrality a political issue, and they want Republicans on-record taking a stance they’re convinced will be unpopular. The pro-net neutrality group Fight for the Future said last week it plans to rally opposition to any lawmaker who votes against the act.

    The timing of a vote is still up in the air. The FCC’s rules first have to be published in the Federal Register, giving Markey 60 legislative days to call for a vote on the CRA. In the meantime, net neutrality supporters are also pursuing litigation and state laws.

    Chicago Tribune link

  26. says

    Trump renominated Kathleen Hartnett White for head of the Council on Environmental Quality. She is spectacularly unqualified:

    […] “This is not just another Trump nominee. In the 17 years I have been in the Senate, I have never sat through a hearing as excruciating as Ms. White’s,” Carper said in a statement Monday. “Even if the administration insists on doubling down on candidates who have proven to be so clearly unacceptable, those of us in the Senate must still be able to recognize when someone is overwhelmingly unfit for such a crucial position.”

    White is a senior fellow and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the fossil-fuel funded Texas Public Policy Foundation and previously served as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. […]

    Link

    “Carper” in the quoted text above refers to Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    Ms. White thinks climate change is a hoax.

  27. says

    “Judges: North Carolina must redraw GOP’s gerrymandered map”:

    Federal judges ruled Tuesday that North Carolina’s congressional district map drawn by legislative Republicans is illegally gerrymandered because of excessive partisanship that gave GOP a rock-solid advantage for most seats and must quickly be redone.

    The ruling marks the second time this decade that the GOP’s congressional boundaries in North Carolina have been thrown out by a three-judge panel. In 2016, another panel tossed out two majority black congressional districts initially drawn in 2011, saying there was no justification for using race as the predominant factor in forming them. The redrawn map was the basis for a new round of lawsuits.

    “We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina’s congressional delegation,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jim Wynn wrote in the majority opinion. Wynn added that the evidence shows the “plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”…

    They plan to appeal, of course.

  28. says

    I’m trying to figure out what motives and actions the Republicans are trying to impute to Steele. Like, are they seriously suggesting that this former head of the Russia Desk for MI6, who did intelligence work on Russia for his entire adult life, was willing to feed false information to his FBI contacts, blow up his own reputation, destroy his business and Simpson’s for…what? Why would he possibly do that? What Simpson told the committee is completely plausible. The Republican insinuations don’t cohere in any reasonable fashion or make any sense. I wish more reporters would challenge these Trumpers to put all of their wild allegations together into a reasonable framework rather than just resorting to “I don’t know what happened – we need to get these questions answered.”

  29. blf says

    Former French president sarkoführer (Nicolas Sarkozy) has long been suspected of some extremely dodgy financing (including for his presidential election campaign(s?)), including taking considerable sums from Muammar Gaddafi. The suspected go-between, Alexandre Djouhri, has been conspicuously avoiding France for some time now. Until last weekend, when for unreported reasons, he flew to Heathrow (London). Scotland Yard were waiting and arrested him on a European warrant issued by France for fraud and money-laundering.

    France24 (English), UK arrests French suspect in Sarkozy financing probe: “British police have detained a French businessman as part of a long-running investigation into suspected Libyan financing of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign”.

    Le Monde (French), Soupçons de financement libyen : Alexandre Djouhri, proche de Sarkozy, placé en garde à vue à Londres: « L’homme d’affaires a été arrêté dans le cadre de l’enquête sur un possible financement du régime libyen de la campagne présidentielle de Nicolas Sarkozy en 2007 ».

  30. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachael Maddow is sitting on air with the “dossier” in front of her, and having a lot of fun tearing it apart. I’ll post some videos in the morning.

  31. blf says

    Al Jazeera bureau in Yemen forcibly closed: “The Yemeni military force belonging to the Higher Security Command in Taiz, southern Yemen, stormed Al Jazeera Media Network’s offices in the city and forcefully ordered its closure [for reasons that were not made clear]”. That would be the mob supported by Saudi Arabia and others including the States.
    (This is a currently-breaking story, so there is not much detail at the moment.)

  32. blf says

    Al Jazeera “has obtained secret documents that reveal a plot by Eastern European oligarchs to profit from billions of dollars, believed to have been stolen by the removed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich” (Al Jazeera unveils plot to profit from Ukraine billions (video)), and is running a series of reports. At least one finds a hair furor connection, Oligarch, friend of Trump: Who is Pavel Fuchs?:

    […]
    Al Jazeera has discovered [Pavel] Fuchs bought a company and $160m of frozen assets held within it, part of $1.5bn traced to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

    Investigators believe Yanukovich and businessmen close to him stole the money.

    When the deal was made, officials were working on seizing the money and returning it to the Ukrainian budget.

    […]

    Currently, he sits at the helm of a huge business empire with holdings in oil, gas, luxury real estate and banking.

    His investments span Russia, Ukraine, the UK, the United States and many of the world’s tax havens.

    He is so influential that Russian President Vladimir Putin has honoured him for his services to the Russian economy.

    During the noughties, Fuchs cultivated links to now US President Donald Trump, negotiating with his organisation in 2004 and again between 2008 and 2010. He reportedly baulked at a $200m asking price for the rights to a Trump Hotel Moscow.

    Fuchs told a Ukrainian news agency they dealt with Trump in the later stages.

    In 2016, Newsweek quoted a former Trump executive as saying the organisation retains close links with Fuchs. He has also been photographed with Trump’s cybersecurity adviser, Rudy Giuliani.

    Fuchs is trying, with another investor, to buy Prominvestbank, the Ukrainian subsidiary of Russian-state owned VEB Bank. VEB has been placed at “the centre of an international firestorm that threatens the Trump presidency”. Ukrainian regulators have blocked Fuchs’ purchase.

    […]

  33. blf says

    I’m trying to figure out what motives and actions the Republicans are trying to impute to Steele.

    Projection of their own motives / behaviour: We lie so he must also; We take the money so so did he; We…

  34. says

    From Josh Marshall, “The Only News Out of The Simpson Testimony is Republican Disgrace.”

    Over the course of the day I’ve been listening to news reports which say that the Fusion GPS testimony from co-owner Glenn Simpson belies the received narrative about the Steele dossier, or at least that argued by Republicans and Trump supporters. As Jake Tapper put it when speaking with CNN’s Jim Acosta today, Simpson’s account “contradicts president Trump and his supporters who argue that the dossier was a purely political document paid for by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.” Really though this is a testament to the power of disinformation when it is empowered by one of the country’s two political parties. Let’s put this more simply: this is a testament to what can happen when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. […]

    What’s happened is that we’ve had a year tarnishing the reputation of a man who did right by the United States for no obvious reason other than his allegiance is to our closest ally and creating a comic, degenerate alternate reality in which the people who alerted us to the problems and those who first sought to understand them are the malefactors rather than the people who were at a minimum cozying up to a foreign power. It is actually quite like the cliched story of the whistleblower who speaks up and then becomes the scapegoat in the cover-up of the bad acts he was trying to bring to light. In fact that’s exactly what it is.

    It is all of a piece with the counter-surveillance Mike Flynn started when he first got to the White House – trying to find out what investigators had learned about his activities. That spawned the ‘un-masking’ charade carried on by Devin Nunes, a notional member of Congress who has spent the last year betraying his oath on behalf of a faction within the Trump administration. It goes right up to last week when Senate Republicans issued their first criminal referral of the Trump-Russia probe – against Christopher Steele!

    We don’t need to valorize Steele or assume his findings are all accurate. […] Perhaps he got things wrong. Perhaps he overreacted. But there’s really no scenario in which he’s the bad actor in this story. […] Most of what is interesting in the Simpson testimony is interesting because it is so clearly out of whack with what Tapper accurately characterized as what is almost conventional wisdom now among many in Washington: “that the dossier was a purely political document paid for by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.”

    In our current system, the concerted actions of one bad-acting political party coupled with the media imperative to enforce ‘balance’ even when it means false equivalence can be highly, highly distorting.

    Much more at the link.

  35. says

    Follow-up to comments 32 and 33.

    This is from Simon Maloy:

    after reading all the statements and listening to the clarifying remarks I can state confidently that zero people know what the president’s position on immigration is

  36. says

    From Matthew Miller:

    One thing that comes through in the Simpson transcript is that Chris Steele cares a lot more about U.S. national security than the GOP politicians attempting to literally criminalize his work.

    In other news, Nerd in comment 50, I wonder if some of the imminent departures from Team Trump are related to Feinstein’s release of the Fusion GPS transcript. If McMaster and other top members of the team are leaving, maybe the Fusion GPS transcript was the last straw for them. The transcript puts the Republicans in such a bad light.

    In other, other news, at least eight people have died in mudslides in California. Heavy rain is turning slopes previously denuded by fire into rivers of mud. Many people are still unaccounted for. Link. Waist-high mudflows full of massive boulders have ripped houses off their foundations, closed parts of major freeways, and swept cars off of roads.

    […] “In these patches of particularly high burn intensity, nearly all vegetation was consumed by fire,” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain recently explained on his weather blog. “This means that rainfall has a very hard time soaking into the ground — and is instead forced to immediately flow downhill as nearly instantaneous runoff.” […]

  37. says

    “GOP negotiators say Trump aide Stephen Miller is standing in the way of an immigration deal”:

    Here’s one thing even Republicans negotiating an immigration deal agree on: Trump aide Stephen Miller is hurting their chances of getting anything done.

    They blame him for insisting the administration gets approval for an unrealistic number of immigration policies in exchange for protections for young people brought into the country illegally as children. They loathe his intensity when delivering his hardline views. And they accuse him of coordinating with outside advocacy groups that oppose their efforts.

    “It’s no secret that he’s an obstacle to getting anything done on immigration,” said a Republican House member involved in the immigration talks.

    Many people involved in the immigration debate — Republicans and Democrats, Capitol Hill staffers and activists — complain that Miller is making already tough negotiations more difficult, according to 14 people familiar with the situation, half involved in negotiations. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s aide.

    Many on Capitol Hill remember how Miller, then an aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who led the opposition to the deal, worked in 2013 to kill a bipartisan immigration deal in the Senate that would have allowed immigrants in the country illegally to gain legal status and eventually citizenship.

    “Look what happened last time,” said a second former Trump adviser, who worked with Miller and is in close contact with the White House. “He almost single handily blew (the bill) up. They are having flashbacks.”

    The Senate passed the bill brokered by the so-called Gang of Eight, but it was never considered in the House.

    Miller sent out hundreds of emails attacking the bill as he went through the text line by line, according to a former Republican aide involved in the 2013 debate. He was accused of working with groups that want to curb immigration in the United States and the far-right news site Breitbart to boost opposition to the bill….

  38. says

    “White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin”:

    A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency, according to two former administration officials.

    While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump….

    [Kevin] Harrington is the NSC’s senior official for strategic planning. He had neither military experience nor significant government experience before joining the White House. But he had an influential credential: As a managing director for the Thiel Macro hedge fund, he was close to Trump patron and ally Peter Thiel. Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, announced Harrington’s arrival in early February as part of a “talented group” ready to bring “fresh ideas to the table.”

    A second former senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast that Harrington had enthusiastically discussed this proposal with several senior staffers, including ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, another Flynn ally. This source noted that Harrington’s proposal was largely politely brushed aside, even at the uniquely chaotic early days of the Trump era.

    It was not Harrington’s only foray into unilateral gestures aimed at Russia. In March, Harrington proposed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russian oil, something an administration official justified to The Daily Beast as Harrington wondering, “if these sanctions are harming our economy without putting any pressure on Russia, what’s the point?”

    In mid-December, The Washington Post reported that Harrington viewed U.S. closeness with Russia “as critical for surviving an energy apocalypse,” something his associates, the paper reported, said Harrington “discussed frequently and depicted as inevitable.”

    This fit a pattern within the Trump administration, before and after Flynn’s White House tenure, of sidling up to Russia. Taken in sum, the pattern raises a question about whether Trump and his team are willing to pay Russia back for the Kremlin’s role in the election.

    Like other Flynn-era NSC aides, Harrington was the subject of speculation suggesting his departure soon after Flynn’s downfall. But, unlike so-called “Flynnstones” Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, it didn’t happen….

    (He’s still there.)

  39. says

    Senate Foreign Relations Democrats have released a staff report on Putin’s active measures:

    A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Wednesday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Committee’s ranking member, details Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report comes one year after Senator Cardin introduced the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which served as the basis for the sanctions package signed into law last August, and makes a series of recommendations to adequately bolster U.S. and European defenses and counter the growing Kremlin threat to democratic institutions.

    “Putin’s Asymmetrical Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security,” finds that President Trump’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government has hampered efforts to mobilize our government, strengthen our institutions, and work with our European allies to counter Putin’s interference in democracies abroad.

    Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president, and without a strong U.S. response, institutions and elections here and throughout Europe will remain vulnerable to the Kremlin’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations….

  40. says

    Ted Lieu: “Taking #Florida off the table for offshore drilling but not #California violates the legal standard of arbitrary and capricious agency action. California and other coastal states also rely on our beautiful coasts for tourism and our economy. I believe courts will strike this down.”

    In today’s court news:

    “Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Decision To End DACA.”

    “U.S. Supreme Court hears Ohio voter purge case.”

  41. blf says

    Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra braves Taliban threat (video):

    A group of 30 young women in Afghanistan have chosen to start playing music — despite this decision putting their lives in danger. They are members of the all-female Zohra orchestra; they also go to high school. And because they’ve decided to do these things, they face a constant threat of violence from the Taliban. […]

    Apparently, their first public performance was at Davos 2017, The Afghan Women’s Orchestra “Zohra” (video, albeit for the first eight minutes or so, there is a lot of speechifying by various well-meaning people).

  42. blf says

    Follow-up to @49, UK court grants bail to Sarkozy associate suspected of funneling Libyan cash:

    […]
    London’s Westminster Magistrates Court heard [Alexandre] Djouhri was wanted by the French authorities over nine allegations, including use of a fake document, active corruption of a foreign public official, conspiracy to misappropriate public funds and three charges of money laundering.

    England’s Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said the accusations related to “very serious allegations of corruption” although his lawyer [Mark Summers] said Djouhri, who holds joint French and Algerian nationality, would fight extradition […]

    […]

    [… Summers] said the French inquiry, which began in 2013, had looked at suggestions “bags of cash” were brought from Libya to France but so far it had resulted in no charges being brought.

    “As far as the main allegations are concerned, the understanding is that there hasn’t been any evidence uncovered,” Summers told the court.

    Sighs… One reason the investigation is proceeding so slowly, Mr Summers, is because your client has been avoiding French jurisdiction, repeatedly failing to answer court summons.

    […]
    Djouhri, who earns about 200,000 pounds a year, was granted bail on condition that he pays security of one million pounds ($1.35 million), after Arbuthnot rejected an initial offer of 200,000 pounds, saying there needed to be a “really substantial security”.

    He must also wear an electronic tagging device, remain in a specified area of London and report to police daily, while his passports and ID cards have already been seized. He will stay with his daughter, who lives in London, and the full extradition hearing will start on April 17.

  43. says

    “Washington To Get Boris Nemtsov Plaza In Front Of Russian Embassy”:

    The local government in Washington, D.C., has approved a measure to rename the street in front of Russia’s embassy after slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

    In separate votes on January 9, the District of Columbia Council passed the Boris Nemtsov Plaza Designation Act in its first reading and unanimously approved the renaming “on an emergency basis” pending final adoption of the permanent legislation.

    The city initiative renames the block of Wisconsin Avenue that is home to the Russian Embassy in honor of Nemtsov, a reformist politician and fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was shot dead on a bridge near the Kremlin in 2015.

    Federal legislation on renaming the portion of the major thoroughfare was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2017, but has not been passed….

  44. says

    SC @76, the point was just made on an MSNBC news show that Trump can look at libel laws if he wants to, but it is unlikely that he will be able to change them. Most libel laws are state-based. Trump can’t change state laws.

    The fact that Trump thinks he was libeled is revealing: he thinks anything less than sycophantic praise is libel. I suppose he will create a commission that is somewhat like the recently defunct Voter Fraud Commission to try to prove that his wrongheadedness is right.

  45. blf says

    Republicans retiring in record numbers fuel fears of losing House at midterms:

    The Democrats need to win 25 seats to take control of the House of Representatives in 2018 and there are now 31 open seats held by Republicans
    […]
    However, Republicans see a silver lining in the sheer number of Democratic challengers in some of these races. As the Washington Post reported earlier in January, there are more Republican-held districts with eight Democratic hopefuls than with only one. Republicans hope to take advantage of Democratic infighting to win.

    In a statement following [Darrell] Issa’s retirement, Steve Stivers, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said: In the 49th district, Democrats are locked in what is fast becoming one of the bloodiest primaries in America. While Democrats fight with each other, Republicans will focus on fighting Democrats — and that’s how we plan to win. We look forward to facing whoever limps out of the Democrats’ battle royale: black and blue, and broke.
    […]

  46. says

    Follow-up to comments 76 and 77.

    To break you irony meter, Trump added this about current libel laws:

    You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false. and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account.

    Ummm … Trump University. Ummm… Ivanka and Don Junior lying about the number of condos sold in a Trump-branded building. Etc. …

  47. says

    Cabinet meetings as reality show episodes?

    […] When the news cameras entered the room, Trump greeted them: “Welcome back to the studio.” He then touted 2017 as a year of “tremendous” and “monumental” achievement. He offered his typical over-the-top assessment of his own work, and as any good entertainer would to, he teased the moves to come.

    “I don’t think any administration has ever done, has done what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished in its first year, which isn’t quite finished yet,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen over the next few days.”

    After listing Republicans’ achievements, such as confirming a new Supreme Court justice and passing tax cut legislation, Trump talked about the “reviews” for his “performance” at the unusually long media spray at his Tuesday meeting with lawmakers. […]

    “It was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good, and my performance — some of them called it a performance; I consider it work — but got great reviews by everybody other than two networks who were phenomenal for about two hours,” Trump said in front of the cameras.

    He then claimed that the anchors on the programs that aired his remarks sent the White House letters “saying that was one of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed.”

    “And they were great for about two hours. They were phenomenal,” he said of the cable news networks. “And then they went a little bit south on us but not that bad. It was fun. They probably wish they didn’t send us those letters of congratulations, but it was good.”

    He then took credit for news networks’ ratings and for the fact that news outlets are still in business.

    “I’m sure their ratings were fantastic. They always are. Which is why I think the media will ultimately support Trump in the end because they’re going to say if Trump doesn’t win in three years, they’re all out of business,” he said.

    Link

  48. says

    “Mueller adds veteran cyber prosecutor to special-counsel team”:

    Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team, filling what has long been a gap in expertise and potentially signaling a recent focus on computer crimes.

    Ryan K. Dickey was assigned to Mueller’s team in early November from the Justice Department’s computer crime and intellectual-property section, said a spokesman for the special counsel’s office….

    Dickey’s addition is particularly notable because he is the first publicly known member of the team specializing solely in cyber issues. The others’ expertise is mainly in a variety of white-collar crimes, including fraud, money laundering and public corruption, though Mueller also has appellate specialists and one of the government’s foremost experts in criminal law….

  49. says

    Follow-up to comment 81.

    From Jim Acosta:

    WH sent a list of video clips (from CNN) and tweets to back up Trump claim that he’s received “letters” from “anchors” praising his performance at DACA meeting

    https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/951157626171248640

    From Think Progress:

    […] not only are the videos included in the list not letters, but the vast majority of the journalists mentioned by name aren’t anchors.

    In short, the Bullshitter in Chief was lying.

  50. says

    Follow-up to comment 25.

    Trump is going to Davos and nobody is sure why.

    […] the global nature of the forum seems to fly in the face of President Trump’s “America First,” largely isolationist agenda. In his first year as president, Trump has repeatedly promised to undo the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), threatened to leave the Iranian nuclear agreement, announced a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and severed a free-trade agreement with South Korea over what he viewed as “appeasement” of North Korea.

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are all already attending the Davos summit. What message could Trump’s additional presence possibly convey?

    John Raines, head of political risk with global intelligence firm and analytics firm IHS Markit, told CNBC that the decision to attend is consistent with Trump’s personality.

    “Here it is: He gets to shindig — have this big shindig with the corporate elite, and also gets to point to some of his economic and policy successes. So we see the stock market hitting new highs on a daily basis, and then on top of that, we see U.S. growth rates continuing to pick up,” said Raines. “So I think he gets to go there, defend his policies and gets to hog-wild [sic] with the people he likes.”

    While President Trump might be within his comfort zone with some attendees, many who will be at the event have been known to disparage him in the past. […]

    Trump might be comfortable at Mar-a-Lago, but I can’t see him being comfortable at Davos.

    Maybe he just wants to party on the taxpayer’s dime.

  51. says

    Trump’s tax plan is causing headaches at the IRS:

    The IRS is facing its first big challenge implementing the new tax law: deciding how much in taxes to withhold from millions of Americans’ paychecks.

    The agency is under [political] pressure to take as little as possible so people will see big increases in their take-home pay ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

    But that would come at a cost: smaller or even nonexistent refunds next year, though millions rely on them to plug holes in their family budgets. Democrats are already accusing the Trump administration of plotting “phantom windfalls” ahead of the November contest that will come back to haunt taxpayers next tax season.

    “We oppose any attempts by the administration to systematically under-withhold income taxes during the 2018 tax year, knowing that in 2019 taxpayers may find they owe taxes when they were expecting a refund,” Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Richard Neal, the top Democrats on congressional tax committees, wrote to acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter.

    How the IRS — which is supposed to be apolitical — decides to implement withholding could go a long way toward shaping public opinion on the controversial law. […]

    Link

  52. says

    Follow-up to comments 25 and 84.

    Coming soon to Davos: A Trump stink bomb.

    […] Lots of very rich people. Lots of media. Lots of fevered what-is-he-really-up-to speculation. At the psychological level, the appeal of Davos for Trump is obvious. […]

    […] some West Wing advisers were arguing that Davos would be the perfect venue for Trump to unleash an especially gassy stink bomb aimed at ideas — free trade deals, a more integrated global regulatory system, and all manner of liberal pieties cherished by global elites — he deplores.

    One constant of Trump’s rise to power is his desire to command the attention, if not the approval, of the very establishment institutions he claims to be contemptuous of. No surprise that news of Trump’s Davos attendance was first leaked Tuesday morning to The New York Times, which Trump denounces and gives interviews to in seemingly equal measure.[…]

  53. says

    WTF is this, and what does it mean?

    […] During a joint press conference with Trump and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Fox News’ John Roberts asked the President about a potential interview between himself and Mueller, the approach to which, the Washington Post and NBC News reported Monday, is the subject of debate within the President’s legal team.

    “Are you open to meeting with him? Would you be willing to meet with him without condition? Or would you demand that a strict set of parameters be placed around any encounter between you and the special counsel?” Roberts asked.

    Trump repeated eight times in his response that no collusion had yet been found between him or his associates and Russia. (Congressional and federal investigators’ probes are ongoing.)

    He also highlighted the conditions under which Hillary Clinton was interviewed in July 2016 by the FBI during the bureau’s investigation of her use of a private email server. Trump incorrectly asserted that the FBI agents interviewing Clinton didn’t take notes — they did — and asserted “a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach and it really was.”

    After he bobbed and weaved, the President gave his real answer: “We’ll see what happens. Certainly I’ll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion, at any level, it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview.”

    Link

  54. says

    BREAKING NEWS ON CHIP: CBO now says if Congress extends CHIP for 10 years instead of 5, it will not cost the government ANYTHING.

    It will save $6 billion AND keep 9 million low income kids covered.

    Congress decides within 9 days.

    This is not widely known but needs to be.”

  55. says

    A note re #82 – I caught a segment of Jake Tapper’s show late last week in which two of the panelists were John Dean and Carl Bernstein, which is…2018. There was a suggestion, with which Dean agreed, that our knowledge of where the Mueller investigation is lags well behind its actual progress. Dean was like (paraphrasing), “Yeah, during the Watergate probe I read the articles in the Washington Post and I was surprised at how little they knew at the time,” and Bernstein didn’t challenge this. It’s pretty clear at this point that almost everything we know about the Mueller investigation is at least two months after the fact. It’s like with Juno.

  56. says

    Nick Akerman is one of my favorite people on TV. Every development he views in the worst possible way for Trump, and he’s very likely right. So many others act like there are no Bayesian priors, and every new report should be analyzed in a vacuum.

  57. says

    SC @92, that is spectacular news. You are right, the CBO data should be widely disseminated.

    In other news, you may not have noticed but Trump called Hillary Clinton his “opponent” again today. He also lied about facts surrounding the FBI interview of Hillary Clinton in July 2016.

    When you talk about interviews, Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn’t sworn in, she wasn’t given the oath, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t record, and it was done on the 4th of July weekend. That’s perhaps ridiculous.

    Trump is wrong. The FBI did take notes, and they even released those notes along with a summary of the interview.

    More mentions of Hillary:

    I will say this, I am for massive oil and gas and everything else, and a lot of energy. Putin can’t love that. I am for the strongest military that the United States ever had. Putin can’t love that. But Hillary was not for a strong military, and Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills and she was for other types of energy that don’t have the same capacities at this moment, certainly.

  58. says

    SC @92, that is spectacular news. You are right, the CBO data should be widely disseminated.

    Just to be clear, I was quoting Andy Slavitt.

    In other news, you may not have noticed but Trump called Hillary Clinton his “opponent” again today. He also lied about facts surrounding the FBI interview of Hillary Clinton in July 2016….

    From what I’ve read, they don’t require people to testify under oath because it’s already a crime to lie to the FBI.* Also, I’ve never understood the point about the holiday. Why is that supposed to matter?

    * Incidentally, SHUT UP.

  59. says

    “…and Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills and she was for other types of energy that don’t have the same capacities at this moment, certainly.”

    Enjoy your last gasps, patriarchy, white supremacy, and fossil fuels.

  60. says

    Caroline O.:

    WaPo reporter Joel Achenbach once wrote that Hillary Clinton “needs a radio-controlled shock collar so that aides can zap her when she starts to get screechy.”

    He was just suspended for ‘inappropriate workplace conduct.’

    Noticing a pattern yet…?

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A small item from TRMS talking about the dossier. Apparently Steele is still writing memos about Trump for Fusion GPS. I’ll see if I can find video in the morning (usually it takes a while, almost always past my bedtime, to post the videos of her show).

  62. blf says

    Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills and she was for other types of energy that don’t have the same capacities at this moment

    ● Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone (May-2016): “Zero emission milestone reached as country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours”.

    ● British power generation achieves first ever coal-free day (April-2017): “National Grid hails milestone as other sources like gas, nuclear, wind and solar allow UK to keep lights on with all coal-fired powerplants offline”. (Not quite all-renewable as the mix includes nuclear.)

    ● California breaks energy record with 80% of state’s power generated using renewable methods (May-2017): “Golden State generated 67% of its energy from renewables in one day” (the 67% is solar, the 80% also includes hydropower and similar).

    Ye Pfffft! of all Knowledge (100% renewable energy) has a table listing “Places with around 100% renewable electricity”. Some of the places listed, such as (but not limited to) Paraguay and Iceland, have a geoclimate which is naturally highly favourable to renewables (hydropower, geothermal,…), but even excluding such exceptions, there’s many essentially 100% renewable-powered locations. (And that is 100%, lower the threshold and I suspect the list would grow in size considerably.)

    The most significant barriers to the widespread implementation of large-scale renewable energy and low carbon energy strategies, at the pace required to prevent runaway climate change, are primarily political and not technological. According to the 2013 Post Carbon Pathways report (PDF), which reviewed many international studies, the key roadblocks are:

    ● Climate change denial
    ● Efforts to impede renewable energy by the fossil fuel industry
    ● Political paralysis
    ● Unsustainable consumption of energy and resources
    ● Path dependencies and outdated infrastructure
    ● Financial and governance constraints

    Some of the sources referenced above also point out many locations or organisations are actively worwking towards being mostly- or entirely-renewable powered in the future (timeframes vary considerably).

  63. blf says

    Documentary about German-Arab romance sparks outrage:

    German far-right casts short film on children’s TV as manipulative indoctrination
    […]
    Over the course of 25 minutes, Look at My World: Malvina, Diaa and Love tells the story of their relationship, the cultural clash at its heart and, hovering in the background, unresolved tensions in German society to the consequences of the 2015-16 refugee influx.

    Out of deference to her Muslim boyfriend, for instance, Malvina has stopped eating pork and no longer wears revealing clothes.

    […]

    But Malvina is no shrinking violet, telling him: “It’s not your business telling me who I can talk to.”

    […]

    Despite his thick beard, the documentary suggested Diaa, the Syrian man, was about the same age as his girlfriend. Now [German public television children’s channel] Kika has corrected the record, saying he is three years older: 19 now and 17 when he met her, when she was 15.

    That correction and the film’s contents have prompted outrage from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and far-right websites. They see it as inappropriate for a children’s channel to show what they call a manipulative indoctrination film about a dominant Arab man grinding down a defenceless German girl.

    […]

    His broken German is enough to make clear that he considers his culture and religion non-negotiable, noted one far-right blogger.

    But others say the far right’s furious reaction confirms the film’s main theme: the couple’s ambivalence to each other and the external pressures faced in particular by young German women who fall in love with asylum seekers and refugees.

    […]

  64. says

    “Brexit: Nigel Farage says ‘maybe’ there should be a second referendum on EU membership”:

    Nigel Farage has said it may be time to hold a second referendum on Brexit to put an end to the “moaning” of politicians who have not accepted the previous vote.

    The ex-Ukip leader argued that leading political figures who have been arguing against Brexit would “never, ever, ever” stop fighting it and so the best way to draw a line under the issue could be a second public vote.

    Mr Farage is seen as one the architect of Brexit and has been the most vociferous critic of people like ex-prime minister Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis who have suggested it could be undone.

    Until now, all supporters of Brexiteers have unanimously rejected the idea of a further vote saying that it would be a betrayal of “the will of the people”, as set out in the 2016 referendum.

    But with the Article 50 process already underway, opponents have been pressing for a rethink of Brexit and arguing that the public should have another chance to vote on it once the terms of withdrawal are clear.

    Mr Farage went on: “If we had a second referendum on EU membership, we’d kill it off for a generation.

    “The percentage that would vote to leave next time, would be very much bigger than it was last time round and we may just finish the whole thing off.”

    Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “We will not be having a second referendum.”

  65. blf says

    Gay spouses have rights in all EU countries, says European court adviser:

    Even countries whose governments oppose same-sex marriage must recognise rights, according to advocate general

    The rights of same-sex spouses must be recognised by every member of the EU, even if a country’s government has not authorised gay marriage, the European court of justice has been advised.

    In what has been hailed as a major step forward for equal rights, Melchior Wathelet, a Belgian advocate general in the Luxembourg court, said gay spouses had standing in countries even where governments were implacably opposed to same-sex marriage.

    Opinions given by ECJ advocate generals are non-binding on the court’s judges but are normally followed by the full court. A final decision will be delivered in the coming months.

    […]

    Wathelet told the court that the EU gave spouses of EU nationals the right to live and work in the bloc. It only defined spouse with reference to a relationship based on marriage and was neutral both as to the sex of the persons concerned and the place where that marriage was contracted.

    […]

    The Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said: “This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families. Freedom of movement is a right of all EU citizens; it cannot be restricted because of whom they love. The European Union protects our rights.”

  66. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    SC @109:

    That essay is a thing of beauty. Every time I think that I have a feel for what reality is, an essay like that, or a comment, or an article, comes along and shows me that, while I may understand harassment at an intellectual level, at a gut level I still have shitloads to learn.

  67. blf says

    I admit that when I first saw some headlines about this new Greek law a few days ago, I presumed it was yet another case of Islamaphobia. (It didn’t help that, at the time, I didn’t read any of the articles.) However, it isn’t. Apparently, the Muslim community itself wants the change, Greece’s Muslim minority hails change to limit power of sharia law (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    PM welcomes legislation allowing them to opt for Greece’s secular legal system instead of Islamic law to resolve divorce, child custody and inheritance matters

    Members of Greece’s Muslim minority have hailed new legislation that will enable citizens to sidestep sharia law in family disputes, but says the measure fails to go far enough in Europe’s only country where Islamic jurists still hold sway.

    In a move described as a “historic step” by the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, the leftist-led government announced on Tuesday that members of Greece’s 120,000-strong Muslim community would be able to seek recourse in Greek courts in divorce, child custody and inheritance matters rather than take their case to Islamic jurists — a century-old legacy of legislation drafted with the collapse of the Ottoman empire.

    Human rights groups have long said the laws discriminate against women.

    But while welcomed, Muslim MPs said the new law had not “fully abolished” sharia courts in the sole EU member state where they had been compulsory.

    “There is no doubt this is an important step and a positive one that will open the way to further freedom for our community,” MP Mustafa Mustafa told the Guardian. “But I would have liked it to be fully abolished. No other EU country has [mandatory† –blf] sharia.”

    A member of Tsipras’ Syriza party, Mustafa said leftists had been campaigning for state-appointed muftis “to be religious leaders and not jurists” since the collapse of military rule in Greece in 1974.

    Islamic court hearings, in accordance with laws first drafted in 1914, have until now been presided over by a single Muslim cleric. Under the new law Muslims will have the right to opt for a Greek court although Islamic jurists will still be available upon request.

    […]

    The new legislation, passed with overwhelming support, has been seen as long overdue. The education and religious affairs minister, Constantine Gavroglou, praised its passage as “not just a technical adjustment {but} a very important day for parliament. Sharia, he said, had stemmed “from policies that were hostile toward the minority and sought to create second-class citizens”.

    Greece’s Muslim minority is embraced by Turkey and is often the cause for tensions between the two Nato rivals. Previous government had hesitated to change the law for fear of further straining ties.

    There apparently has been some misrepresentation / misunderstanding of what has happened in Turkey, and perhaps also in Greece, Greece to make changes to application of Islamic law. An example of this seems to be Islamic law in European Union: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the range of Islamic law implementation will be limited in Greece, but as international agreements require, the Muslim minority in Greece has the right to demand the implementation of legal principles of their religion.

    Most of the English-language commentary I found (after an admittedly quick search) seems calm and approving; e.g., Greece deals judiciously with Western Thrace sharia law, a relic of the Ottoman empire:

    [… I]n Kemalist Turkish republic, sharia law was abolished and a secular legal code established, while in Western Thrace [Greece], sharia law remained in force for former Ottoman subjects.

    It is this situation that the Greek government says it will change. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s administration will move to make sharia voluntary rather than compulsory. The inhabitants of Western Thrace can apply to Greek civil law if they want; they don’t have to stick to sharia.

    This sounds like exactly the right way to go about things. […]

    (As per my †-footnote below, it may not be “exactly the right way”, but is an desirable & and community-desired improvement.)

    A few wingnuts are freaking out, e.g., a commentator on one of the above-cited articles improbably claims No matter. Muslims won’t be a minority in Greece for very much longer. The total Greek Muslim population is c.120,000 (c.1%), albeit there is perhaps twice as many “illegal” immigrants who are Muslim.

      † Several countries, including, e.g., the UK, allow sharia to be used to settle disputes provided the decision does not contravene secular law. (And also, as far as I know, only when all parties agree to use sharia.) It’s not entirely clear, but I gather the new situation in Greece is now almost the same, except that sharia, if the parties agree to use it, can contravene the secular law.

  68. blf says

    Follow-up to several previous comments about the new States ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, the anti-Gay Islamaphobe all-around bigot who described his own comments as “fake news”, then denied doing so, and then issued a specularly-bad “apology”, ‘This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions’: Dutch reporters confront new US envoy (Gauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    The new US ambassador to the Netherlands […] clashed on Wednesday with Dutch reporters who told him: “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions.”

    On his first official day in the job, Pete Hoekstra was taken to task over controversial comments he made in 2015 in which he said that the Islamic movement was creating chaos in Europe and suggested that extremists were burning politicians and cars in the Netherlands.

    […]

    Hoekstra said in 2015: The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt{…} and, yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.

    […]

    Hoekstra said on Wednesday he did not want to revisit the issue […].

    One reporter told him: “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” while another asked if the ambassador could name a politician who had been set on fire in recent years.

    […]

    I’ve just ever so slightly tempted to suggest helping this kook answer that last question by setting him on fire — but besides being illegal & unethical, he’s currently playing at pretending to be an ambassador, not a politician per se. However, he did previously play at pretending to a politician and, e.g., is considered one of the teabugger founders. (The historical Praha — admittedly not Dutch — solution of defenestration is also tempting…)

  69. blf says

    There was an attempt to abduct a highly-respected award-winning Pakastani journalist, Taha Siddiqui, who has worked for (among others) both France24 & The Grauniad. He escaped, Pakistani journalist who criticised military tells of attempted abduction;
    Fleeing into oncoming traffic, Pakistani journalist escapes abductors;
    Journalist Taha Siddiqui escapes abduction attempt:

    A prominent Pakistani journalist has escaped an attempt to kidnap him by unidentified, armed men in the capital, Islamabad, the journalist and police say.

    […]

    Siddiqui is known for being an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s military, which has ruled the country for roughly half of its 70-year history and still holds great influence over matters of national security and foreign policy.

    This year, authorities have undertaken a crackdown on dissent expressed on social media, particularly posts critical of the military.

    In January, five activists were abducted for three weeks in connection with the crackdown, with at least three of them later publicly saying they were abducted, interrogated and tortured by the military.

    The military denies any wrongdoing, and the Pakistani government says the crackdown remains within the ambit of Pakistan’s freedom of speech laws.

    Pakistan remains a restrictive environment for journalists, with at least 60 journalists killed in connection with their work in the country since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    In 2017, it ranked 139th out of 180 countries on rights group Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

    […]

    Amnesty International condemned Siddiqui’s abduction and called for an end to impunity for attacks on journalists in Pakistan.

    “Pakistani journalists like Taha Siddiqui have a right to carry out their work freely and without fear,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International. “Journalism is not a crime, but attacking journalists is.”

    “These crimes must be immediately and effectively investigated,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

    […]

    Siddiqui himself had previously come under threat from the authorities for his work, with the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) summoning him to answer for Twitter posts they considered to be critical of the military.

    Siddiqui refused to answer the summons unless he was formally charged, and filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court against further harassment by the authorities.

    In May, the court issued an order restraining the FIA from further harassing Siddiqui without concrete evidence. […]

  70. blf says

    Trump reverses stance on surveillance law in series of contradicting tweets:

    […]
    The House passed a bill this morning to reauthorize the key foreign intelligence collection program with an important tweak. It requires the FBI to get a warrant if it wants to view the contents of Americans’ communications swept up in the process.

    The House passed what is known as Section 702 of a program that allows spy agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad. The bill passed 256-164. The Senate must still pass the bill before it is sent to the White House for the president’s signature.

    Earlier, the House rejected a measure to impose stiffer restrictions on the FBI. It would have required the FBI to get a warrant to continue even querying the database when Americans are involved.

    This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land, Trump said in a morning tweet a few hours before the votes. We need it! Get smart!

    No, it’s partially about spying on people not in the States. The ostensible purpose is to monitor potential threats (both state-sponsored and others, including so-called “lone wolfs”). Such surveillance will, for a variety of reasons, include “good” & “neutral”, as well as “bad”, actors. FISA is the result of President Nixon’s abuse of the intelligence community. FISA also covers many other points, it’s not just about spying outside the States.

    But before that he had sent out a contradictory tweet suggesting that the program was used to collect information that might have been used to taint his campaign.

    ‘House votes on controversial FISA ACT today,’ Trump wrote, citing a Fox News headline. This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?

    […]

    His tweets came shortly after a Fox & Friends segment that highlighted the Fisa program, calling it “controversial”. […]

    The tweets sent White House aides scrambling to explain the apparent about-face. The president’s [sic] reversal was yet another example of him seemingly taking cues from television, particularly the morning Fox News show, while also personalizing an issue, in this case the dossier, over a policy position.

    […]

  71. blf says

    Kill the disadvantaged! Trump opens door for states to take away Medicaid from out-of-work Americans:

    […]
    Millions who rely on Medicaid, America’s biggest public health insurance program, could be required to have a job if they want to hold on to their coverage in the future.

    The Trump administration has unveiled a major policy shift that offers a path for states seeking to tie Medicaid eligibility to work requirements.

    […]

    Medicaid is the nation’s largest public insurance program, providing health benefits to nearly 74 million Americans, chiefly low-income adults.

    Many recipients already have jobs that don’t provide health insurance and people are not legally required to hold a job to be on Medicaid. But states traditionally can seek federal waivers to test new ideas for the program.

    The administration’s latest action seeks to allow states to apply the rules in such a way that would allow them to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults.

    Ten states, mostly conservative ones, have applied for waivers involving requirements for jobs or community involvement for most Medicaid recipients.

    […]

    A study from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that almost 60% of working-age adults on Medicaid are already employed. Most who are not report reasons such as illness, caring for a family member or attending college.

    […]

    Seema Verma [head of the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid services] was appointed to her post by Trump after serving as a senior adviser to Vice-President Mike Pence […] who made her name as a consultant devising the Medicaid plan in his home state of Indiana, known one of the most punitive in the country.

  72. says

    Great oped – “‘The Lowest White Man’”:

    …If Donald Trump follows through with what he said during that meeting, his base will once again be betrayed. He will have proved once again that he was saying anything to keep them angry, even telling lies. He will have demonstrated once again his incompetence and unfitness.

    And once again, they won’t care.

    That is because Trump is man-as-message, man-as-messiah. Trump support isn’t philosophical but theological.

    Trumpism is a religion founded on patriarchy and white supremacy.

    It is the belief that even the least qualified man is a better choice than the most qualified woman and a belief that the most vile, anti-intellectual, scandal-plagued simpleton of a white man is sufficient to follow in the presidential footsteps of the best educated, most eloquent, most affable black man.

    As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

    Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.”

    In a way, Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right. He is the embodiment of the unassailability of white power and white privilege.

    No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.

  73. says

    blf @115, Trump’s confusing and contradictory tweets prompted General Kelly to hotfoot it over to the Hill to buttonhole Congress Critters so that the renewal of FISA (702 policy) would go through.

    Trump did not know what he was talking about. FISA can also be used for surveillance of foreigners in the USA. Furthermore, Trump focused the first tweet on himself and on the bonkers conspiracy theories he favors.

    The entire episode demonstrated that Trump is ill-informed, believes Fox News without exception, and that his narcissism knows no bounds. The dossier is not phony. People in Trump’s orbit were swept into regular FISA wiretaps, and were not the subjects of the 702 policy that Congress considered today. On Sunday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo talked about the Trump administration’s support for the policy. Did they they not tell Trump, or did he forget? Or is Trump incapable of understanding?

    Quite apart from the value of FISA, or from the infringement on the rights of citizens that it represents, this episode of Trump stupid-tweeting backs up the overall claims in Michael Wolff’s book. Mindless tweeting is one of the defining aspects of the Trump presidency.

    I don’t think the Trump tweets, nor Paul Ryan’s speeches on the floor of the House, promoted a real discussion about FISA.

    From Steve Vladeck:

    Just to be clear, [Trump] is objecting to Congress’s renewal of a piece of important national security legislation because of a completely invented scandal about how an unrelated provision of the same underlying statute (FISA) was allegedly (but not really) abused.

    https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/951433586657382400

  74. blf says

    Indian man carves road through hills so children can attend school:

    Jalandhar Nayak used a chisel, hoe and pickaxe to dig five-mile route, with officials planning to compensate him for his efforts

    A man in a remote eastern Indian village has single-handedly carved a five-mile (8km) road through hilly terrain to help his children attend school.

    It had been taking Jalandhar Nayak’s three sons about three hours each way to navigate the narrow, rocky route to class. So two years ago the vegetable seller […] picked up a chisel, a garden hoe and pickaxe and began building a shorter route.

    His efforts came to the attention of government officials this week when he was featured in a local media bulletin.

    “My children found it hard to walk on the narrow and stony path while going to their school. I often saw them stumbling against the rocks and decided to carve a road through the mountain so that they can walk more easily,” he told News World Odisha.

    […]

  75. says

    Bits and pieces.

    Ecuador granted citizenship to Julian Assange. I think they just wanted him out of their embassy.

    Sherriff Joe Arpaio, who says he is now campaigning as an Arizona Senate candidate, is still a birther.

    I started this because of a fake document. I didn’t care where the President came from, I didn’t care at all and we had the evidence. Nobody will talk about it, nobody will look at it. And anytime you want to come down, or anybody, we’ll be glad to show you the evidence. And by the way, you’re going to hear more about this fake, phony birth certificate.

    Kellyanne Conway claims that Trump has now “discovered” that a physical wall is not needed across the entire Mexico/USA border.

  76. says

    What Trump said:

    “In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets. We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.

    Trump was talking about jets delivered to Norway.

    He read from a statement, but he still got the facts wrong. The “F-52” is a fictional jet only available to fly if you’re a gamer at the controls of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.” Trump probably confused the number of planes (52) with the “F” designation for specific fighter jets.

    Semi-literate. Has trouble reading. Had no clue about the actual fighter jet program. F-35 jets were sold to Norway. (Or “Normay,” as one White House statement said.)

  77. blf says

    Lynna@118, Thanks for the additional details. I rather liked Mr Vladeck’s comment.

    On one point, I don’t recall when there last was a serious discussion of FISA or any of its provisions. The FISC and its ex parte hearings have always annoyed me; FISC essentially never, as one example, denies a request for warrant (which makes me wonder if the new FBI warrant Section 702 stuff mentioned in @115 could ever have any practical effect?).

  78. says

    In Texas, about 100,000 students have been illegally excluded from special education programs.

    […] Over a decade ago, the officials arbitrarily decided what percentage of students should get special education services — 8.5 percent — and since then they have forced school districts to comply by strictly auditing those serving too many kids.

    Their efforts, which started in 2004 but have never been publicly announced or explained, have saved the Texas Education Agency billions of dollars but denied vital supports to children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental illnesses, speech impediments, traumatic brain injuries, even blindness and deafness, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found. […]

    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/denied/1/

  79. blf says

    Ecuador granted citizenship to Julian Assange. I think they just wanted him out of their embassy.

    Yes. Some very recent articles & columns:

    ● Julian Assange’s stay in London embassy untenable, says Ecuador: “South American country that has housed WikiLeaks founder for five years says it is seeking mediator to end impasse with UK”.

    ● Julian Assange’s bid for diplomatic status rejected by Britain. (As I currently understand it, this was basically a comical attempt to avoid being arrested / prosecuted for violating his bail conditions.)

    ● The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride:

    The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US, charges in Sweden have been dropped — and for the embassy, he’s lost his value as an icon
    […]
    What has changed is Assange’s value to Ecuador as a political symbol. Internal documents revealed that relations between embassy staff and Ecuador’s most famous asylee were fraught. Security staff were filing minute by minute reports of Assange’s movements to Ecuador’s intelligence agency. Last year, these tensions came to the fore as Assange was publicly reprimanded by Ecuadorian officials for interfering in the US election process — by publishing hacked emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign — while claiming asylum. Assange’s internet connection was eventually cut off by Ecuador, to his visible public rage.

    When Ecuador first gave asylum to Assange, he was still a hero to many on the liberal left, and to many opponents of “US imperialism”. Today, most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists […]

    […]

    The problem for both sides is that neither wants to lose face: Assange wants to be a symbol of resistance against an overreaching US state, and does not want to admit his asylum was about his personal actions and not those of WikiLeaks. Ecuador does not want to suggest it made a mistake in granting Assange asylum.

    […]

  80. blf says

    Polish MPs reject liberalised abortion laws but back new restrictions:

    […]
    The Polish parliament has rejected proposed legislation to liberalise abortion laws, voting instead to pass proposals for tough new restrictions to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

    Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, with terminations permitted only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

    If enacted, the “stop abortion” bill — a so-called citizens’ initiative proposed by hardline conservative groups — would outlaw abortions carried out because of a congenital disorder of the foetus.

    Such cases account for about 95% of legal abortions in Poland. […]

    […]

    In 2016, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) was forced to back away from a blanket ban on abortion when the proposal’s passage to the committee stage provoked mass street demonstrations that came to be known as the “black protests”.

    But the rightwing party’s leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, indicated that the government would continue to seek to tighten the law. He said: We will strive to ensure that even in pregnancies which are very difficult, when a child is sure to die, strongly deformed, women end up giving birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name.

    Introducing the proposed restrictions on Wednesday, Kaja Godek of the anti-abortion Life and Family Foundation told MPs that we have come to parliament today because we don’t want hospitals turning into abattoirs.

    Since assuming office in 2015, PiS has ended state funding for IVF treatment and restricted access to emergency contraception, introducing a requirement for a prescription in order to obtain the morning-after pill.

    Łukasz Szumowski, appointed health minister during a government reshuffle this week, is one of almost 4,000 Polish doctors to have signed a declaration of faith committing not to participate in abortion, euthanasia, contraception, artificial insemination, and/or in vitro fertilisation on the grounds that such acts not only violate the basic commandments of the Decalogue, but reject the creator as well.

    […]

    “Many politicians believe their careers depend on the Catholic church,” said [an executive director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning, Krystyna] Kacpura. “But we will continue to fight this, because we are fighting for our lives.”

  81. says

    JFC. From blf’s comment 125: We will strive to ensure that even in pregnancies which are very difficult, when a child is sure to die, strongly deformed, women end up giving birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name. Religion is harming women in Poland.

    In other news, Walmart seems to be following Trump’s example when it comes to hyperbole:

    Walmart is the latest company to make a flashy announcement: It will raise wages and provide bonuses of up to $1,000 to its employees as a result of the recent corporate tax cut.

    […] Walmart’s announcement is significantly less than meets the eye.

    First, Walmart employees are eligible for the $1,000 bonus only if they’ve worked at the company for 20 years. Most Walmart employees, of course, haven’t worked there that long. Those employees will receive a smaller bonus based on seniority. Walmart didn’t explain exactly how the sliding scale will work, but said the total value of the bonuses will be $400 million. Walmart has about 2.1 million employees, which works out to be an average bonus of about $190.

    The one-time bonus Walmart announced this morning amounts to just over 2 percent of the total value of the tax cut to the company.

    […] With a new corporate tax rate of 21 percent, the corporate tax cut is worth at least $1.85 billion to Walmart every year. Since this cut is permanent, the true benefits to Walmart will grow much larger over time. But it’s safe to say that, over 10 years, this corporate tax cut will be worth over $18 billion to Walmart.

    Walmart also announced it will increase its minimum wage from $10 to $11. While Walmart claimed this announcement was linked to the tax cut, the wage hike was likely necessary for the company to remain competitive — and, in some states, legally compliant. […]

    Fundamentally, 99.9 percent of the tax cut is not being passed onto workers in the form of bonuses. Corporate America is generating good press for themselves and President Trump for what is effectively a rounding error.

    https://thinkprogress.org/truth-walmart-bonuses-5966fe4245b0/

  82. says

    Follow-up to comment 126. The misleading news from Walmart gets even worse:

    […] now it appears the announcement was timed carefully to cover for thousands of unannounced layoffs.

    Business Insider reports that today, Walmart is abruptly closing numerous Sam’s Clubs stores across the United States. In some cases “employees were not informed of the closures prior to showing up to work on Thursday” and “learned that their store would be closing when they found the store’s doors locked and a notice announcing the closure.” […]

    Business Insider identified at least 29 stores across the country that closed today. More stores are slated to be closed in the coming days.

    Walmart’s behavior is part of a pattern of corporate misdirection related to the GOP tax cuts. AT&T and Comcast both announced bonuses for their employees while also laying off thousands.

    While Trump talks about a “jobs boom,” job growth was slower in 2017 than in any year since 2010.

    https://thinkprogress.org/walmart-bonus-layoffs-ed187882b011/

  83. says

    While Jeff Sessions is working hard to please one man, (Trump), the rest of the people in the U.S. are finding Sessions to be increasingly dishonest and foolish.

    […] Jeff Sessions changed Justice Department policy in the hopes that his prosecutors will start attacking legal pot. A full 70 percent of respondents oppose the move — an even higher figure than the 58 percent who support legalizing weed outright. […]

    […] among voters, there is no practical constituency for Sessions’ ideological drive to punish pot users. The same poll found just 6 percent of the country opposes legalization for medical use, and just 36 percent opposes full adult-use recreational legalization. Even among Republicans, Sessions is underwater. Just 42 percent of respondents from his own party support federal interference in state marijuana legalization of the sort his memo encourages. Forty-seven percent of Republicans oppose the move. […]

    Link

    Other reports have noted that Sessions is constantly talking to Trump’s aides, trying to get the aides to tout Sessions’ policy moves in the Justice Department.

  84. says

    Wisconsin is poised to become more rightwing when it comes to passing bills in the state legislature that are bad for workers:

    […] The bill, Senate Bill 634, would prevent local municipalities in Wisconsin from increasing the minimum wage, stop enforcement of licensing regulations stricter than state standards, and prohibit labor peace agreements (in which employers agree to not resist a union’s organizing attempts). […]

    “This bill attacks workers, our rights and our democratic processes,” Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer for the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, testified during the hearing. “This bill is about power, the power to overreach and tell citizens in their own communities that they don’t know what’s best for them.” […]

    Wisconsin is not an outlier in considering this kind of legislation. As city governments have pushed for better labor standards, states across the country have passed laws to preempt increased protections for workers.

    At least 15 states have passed 28 preemption laws like this one that cover labor issues such as paid leave, minimum wage, and fair scheduling […] As the report notes, historically, preemption laws were used to set minimum statewide standards for workers that local governments couldn’t lower. These recent laws are doing the opposite.

    Link

    The bad bill is, of course, backed by Republicans.

  85. says

    Shocking.

    In its hottest December ever recorded, Alaska was a stunning 15.7°F above the 20th century average. And the year ended with Arctic sea ice hitting an all-time record low.

    While the East Coast had a cool December and New Year’s week, Alaska baked. Last Tuesday, Anchorage hit 48°F, warmer than southern cities from Atlanta and Jacksonville to Houston and New Orleans. […]

    Climate models have always predicted that human-caused warming would occur at least twice as fast in the Arctic, compared to the planet as a whole, thanks to Arctic Amplification — a process that includes higher temperatures melting highly reflective white ice and snow, which is replaced by the dark blue sea or dark land, both of which absorb more solar energy and lead to more melting.

    Unfortunately for the rest of the globe, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Arctic amplification drives more extreme weather in North America, while accelerating the defrosting of the carbon-rich permafrost, releasing carbon dioxide and methane that each cause faster warming — a dangerous amplifying feedback. […]

    Link

  86. blf says

    On Nigel Farage’s call for a second brexit referendum, which, as has been already pointed out, is nothing more than Farage craving attention, Steve Bell on Nigel Farage’s call for second Brexit vote (cartoon). The readers’s comments reinforce the point, some examples:

    ● “Farage thought he could throw in his lot with Trump not so long ago. He saw a future in the US. Now he is a person of interest for the FBI & Trump is disintegrating completely. He’s only 53 -what is he going to do for the rest of his life when he loses his seat in the European Parliament? […]” (Farage is currently an MEP.)

    ● “Having just listened to him on LBC [radio station] for nearly an hour I feel he is milking the situation as all good populist shysters do to further his own interests and relevance […]”.

    ● “You won Nigel. Suck it up.”

    ● “Out of a cushy job and fearing a diminished role in the media/political spotlight, Farage is looking to prolong his shelf-life. […]”

    ● “This is Farage’s low risk attempt at remaining relevant. If the outcome is remain, it’s all the fault of the cowardly remainers who snatched away our beautiful future; and when it’s Brexit, it’s all the leave voters fault when it turns to shit. […]”

    ● “Just when you thought it was safe, etc, and Ye Olde Farage was safely employed at Trump Towers polishing Donald’s knick-knacks, with a resounding splat our hero drops into view once more. […]”

    ● “Frottage says he wants another referendum because he thinks the leavers will greatly increase their lead second time around. I think he just wants attention.”

    ● “Farage. No job, skint, mistress to keep, house in Chelsea to maintain to the tune of a few £million, missing EU funds, what a tough life. A powerless voice, ratings dropping, does not want the title of ‘Traitor’, it is all too very late. What a desperate fascist bastard.”

    ● “The way I see it, the way he sees it is that if Brexit goes ahead and it’s the disaster most sane people can see it will be, he will be reviled through history; while it still might not go ahead he has some sort of purpose, and if finally it doesn’t go ahead, he’ll be able to start all over again. At the moment, it looks like by winning, he’s lost. […]”

    ● “Vladimir Putin must be having second thoughts about Brexit.”

  87. says

    In honor of Trump having told his 2,000 lie in eleven months, Jimmy Kimmel produced a mini-documentary. Link

    The video is 5:22 minutes long. Impressive in a horrifying way.

  88. says

    Proof that Trump probably does read headlines, he just doesn’t read explanatory text beneath the headline: Today, Trump highlighted a new Quinnipiac poll that found two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. economy is “good” or “excellent.” What Trump failed to note was that the same poll found that a plurality of Americans credit Barack Obama for the state of the economy. A majority of those polled don’t believe Trump’s policies are helping.

    Link

  89. says

    “Trump attacks protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries in Oval Office meeting”:

    President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

    “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday.

    The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions….

    Welcome to the 1920s.

  90. blf says

    Last Tuesday, Anchorage hit 48°F, warmer than southern cities from Atlanta and Jacksonville to Houston and New Orleans.

    Gak! That’s the sort of temperatures I expect this-ish time of the year where I live, on the Mediterranean coast in the South of France. (In fact, at the moment, it’s 7°C (45°F).)

    (Insert caveat about the difference between climate and weather, between maximum and average, and so on…)

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna #135 *snicker*.
    Yep, it takes over a year before a new President can claim anything about the economy. Up until then, it is all momentum his predecessor’s policies. With the new tax plan, I expect a recession to start later this year, or earlier next year.
    Instead of health care or taxes, if the bad rug wanted to charge up the economy, he needed to do infrastructure first, getting the monies into the economy this year, and worry about healthcare and taxes later. Nope, not happening. Instead, with cutting social spending, less money in the economy to be spent.

  92. blf says

    Missouri governor denies threat to blackmail woman with nude photo:

    […]
    Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri denied on Thursday taking nude photos of a woman or threatening to blackmail her over their relationship, an extramarital affair he admitted to late the day before.

    […] Greitens had acknowledged a months-long extramarital affair, after a local news station, KMOV, reported he had a sexual relationship with his hairdresser in 2015. In a tape secretly recorded by her ex-husband, the woman says Greitens told her he would disclose nude photos of her if she spoke about their relationship.

    […]

    The alleged March 2015 encounter came after Greitens opened a committee to explore a bid for Missouri governor but before he officially announced his candidacy. […]

    A bipartisan group of state senators signed a letter asking the state attorney general to investigate the blackmail allegations. Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office did not have an immediate response.

    […]

  93. blf says

    (This is a slightly edited cross-post from poopyhead’s The Norwegians cover their eyes, embarrassed to be singled out thread.)

    Not yet confirmed, but what may be an early response to hair furor’s shithole countries blathering, Donald Trump visit to London called off amid fears of mass protests:

    President [sic] will not now open new US embassy next month, with secretary of state Rex Tillerson likely to take his place

    Donald Trump has backed off the idea of visiting Britain next month to open the new US embassy in London amid fears of mass protests.

    Government sources suggested that Washington had signalled that secretary of state Rex Tillerson would instead open the multimillion-pound embassy.

    […]

    With activists pledging to stage mass protests and MPs determined not to give the president [sic] the opportunity to address parliament, no date for a state visit has been set.

    Instead, it had been expected that Trump would make a brief, less formal “working visit” next month, to cut the ribbon on the $1bn (£750m) embassy in Nine Elms, south-west London, and hold meetings with May.

    […]

    However, even that more modest plan now appears to have been abandoned for the time being.

    […]

    Asked about the [Fire and Fury] revelations last weekend, [UK PM Theresa] May said she believed they were not serious, and Trump was a man making decisions, in the interests of the United States.

    […]

    The president [sic] is expected to be the biggest draw at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month […]

    There are numerous additional reasons for hair furor to stay away, but the comments might have been the icing on the cake, so to speak.

  94. says

    Trump’s “shithole” comments are wildly popular with white supremacists.

    […] Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacist organizer who is being charged with assaulting counter-protesters in Charlottesville, praised Trump’s comments on Gab, a social network that caters to online racists.

    If you don’t know Haiti is a shithole, you probably aren’t qualified to vote for, much less be, POTUS

    Trump was also praised on Gab by Jared Wyand, a white nationalist who was banned from Twitter for anti-Semitic posts, endorsed Trump’s comments and added that “blacks are incapable of building thriving civil societies.” […]

    Trump’s comments were also popular on Stormfront, a message board for white supremacists. One user said Trump was absolutely right to trash “non-white” countries. […]

    Link

  95. blf says

    Compleletely typically, hair furor has lied about why his visit toinvasion of London to open the relocated embassy was been cancelled, Debunked: Trump reasons for cancelling London visit:

    The US president’s [sic] claims that he will not visit UK to open new embassy because of bad Obama deal fail to add up

    Donald Trump’s “reason” for cancelling his trip to London to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the new US embassy has been torn apart.

    While few people believe that Trump’s decision to stay away has nothing to do with the prospect of having to face some of the UK’s biggest street protests, many have also debunked other claims in his tweet.

    Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!

    The Obama administration sold the embassy
    Not quite. […]

    Indeed. When I was living in London (last century) it was known the States were looking to relocate, because (as I now recall) no room to expand, traffic congestion / lack of parking, an almost-indefensible building (a fecking Mini could ram the thing), and possibly other reasons. As the Grauniad points out, “The decision to relocate the building was made by the Bush administration.”

    The article goes on to debunk other hair furor lies.

  96. says

    Here’s the transcript from Trump’s WSJ interview.

    An excerpt:

    WSJ: Do you think Congress needs to make new libel laws?

    Mr. Trump: I don’t know if Congress has the guts to do that.

    WSJ: But do you want them to?

    Mr. Trump: I would like to see that. Yeah, I’d like to be able to—look, nobody gets more false press than I do. Nobody—nobody gets—nobody comes close. In history—in the history of this country nobody’s gotten more false press and you guys all know it.

    WSJ: Why—why do you think that is?

    Mr. Trump: They dislike me, the liberal media dislikes me. I mean I watch people—I was always the best at what I did, I was the—I was, you know, I went to the—I went to the Wharton School of Finance, did well. I went out, I—I started in Brooklyn, in a Brooklyn office with my father, I became one of the most successful real-estate developers, one of the most successful business people. I created maybe the greatest brand.

    I then go into, in addition to that, part-time, like five percent a week, I open up a television show. As you know, the Apprentice on many evenings was the number one show on all of television, a tremendous success. It went on for 12 years, a tremendous success. They wanted to sign me for another three years and I said, no, I can’t do that.

    That’s one of the reasons NBC hates me so much. NBC hates me so much they wanted—they were desperate to sign me for—for three more years.

    WSJ: Mr. President, you made reference to the book. Steve Bannon …

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

  97. says

  98. says

    “Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes.”:

    In his first year in office, President Barack Obama gave a landmark address in Prague in which he famously affirmed “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The commitment to total nuclear disarmament was a major departure from the George W. Bush administration — the first time, in fact, that the United States had declared a nuclear-free world a major policy goal.

    Now, eight years later, it’s the Trump administration’s turn to lay out its nuclear weapons policy. And according to a pre-decisional draft of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) obtained by HuffPost, Trump’s Department of Defense has gone a decidedly different route: new nukes, for no good reason….

  99. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    Donald Trump grew up in a wealthy white enclave in Queens, and he first came to public attention in 1973, when the Justice Department sued his father’s real-estate company for refusing to rent apartments to people “because of race and color.” (Trump strongly denied the charges, which eventually led to a consent decree.) In the nineteen-eighties, when Trump owned casinos in Atlantic City, some of his managers got the strong impression that he didn’t like black employees. In a 2015 story about the faded resort town, my colleague Nick Paumgarten quoted a former busboy at the Trump Castle, who said, “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor.”

    In a 1991 book about his experiences running Trump Plaza, in Atlantic City, “Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump—His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” John R. O’Donnell, a veteran casino executive, recalled a conversation that he had with his boss about an employee in the Plaza’s finance department who happened to be African-American. […]
    “Yeah, I never liked the guy. I don’t think he knows what the fuck he’s doing. My accountants in New York are always complaining about him. He’s not responsive. And it isn’t funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else.”

    […] “Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that. It’s not anything they can control. . . . Don’t you agree?” He looked at me straight in the eye and waited for my reply. […]

    Evidently, the subject of immigration brings out Trump’s inner Archie Bunker. His latest awful utterance—the “shithole” comment—came during a meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers who are trying to reach a deal to extend legal protections for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The deal being discussed would grant these protections while also including changes to the immigration system intended to attract conservative votes in Congress.

    […] Republican senator Lindsey Graham and the Democratic senator Dick Durbin presented Trump with a plan that would cut the current visa lottery program and reallocate some of those slots to immigrants from troubled places like Haiti, El Salvador, and a number of African nations whose citizens have been granted so-called Temporary Protected Status in the United States. The Administration has in recent months begun cancelling the protected status of several groups of immigrants—most recently, Salvadorans—and it seems that the mention of Haiti irked the President.

    When the discussion moved on to African countries, he reportedly said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” And he added that the United States should admit more people from places like Norway.

    […] On Friday morning, Trump tweeted, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” In a subsequent tweet, he said, “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country . . . Made up by Dems.” Neither of these tweets specifically addressed the reported use of the phrase “shithole countries.” Later in the morning, Senator Durbin told reporters that Trump said “things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist . . . You’ve seen the comments in the press; I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”

    […] After this latest outburst, however, the arguments for being reticent seem absurd. The obvious truth can no longer be avoided or sugarcoated: we have a racist in the Oval Office.

    Much more at the link.

  100. says

    Another excerpt from Trump’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal:

    First of all, there’s a big difference between DACA and Dreamers, OK? Dreamers are different. And I want American kids to be Dreamers also, by the way. I want American kids to be Dreamers also. But there’s a big difference between DACA and Dreamers. And a lot of times when I was with certain Democrats they kept using the word dreamer. I said, “Please, use the word DACA.” You know it’s a totally different word.

    OK, people think they’re interchangeable, but they’re not.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] I thought Trump might have been trying to make a point about branding. More than once over the last year, the president has shaped his policy preferences based on whether he likes the way certain words or phrases sound, and so I assumed Trump didn’t like the word “Dreamers” because it helps frame the young immigrants in a positive light.

    But the transcript suggests something more basic is going on: Trump just doesn’t know what he’s saying. “DACA” is an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era policy created to benefit Dreamers. Trump sees a “big difference” between DACA and Dreamers, but no such difference exists. The president […] appears to be clueless.

    But the point here is not just to point and laugh at the amateur president’s ignorance. There are real consequences to Trump’s confusion and contradictions.

    On Tuesday, for example, the president accidentally endorsed a Senate Democrat’s request for a clean DACA bill, […] only to have a House Republican quickly interject, reminding Trump of what his position is supposed to be. A day later, he contradicted himself on immigration policy again.

    Complicating matters, the president said this week that if there’s a bipartisan deal on immigration policy, he’d sign it, no matter what’s in it. […] He went on to say if lawmakers negotiate a policy “with things that I’m not in love with,” he’d embrace it anyway.

    […] a bipartisan group of senators crafted a compromise plan, which Trump quickly rejected.

    […] there doesn’t appear to be any real point in having discussions with Trump – who still hasn’t familiarized himself with the basics of the issue. He doesn’t know the difference between DACA and Dreamers. He hates “chain migration,” though he doesn’t seem to understand some of the relevant details. […] His claims about a proposed border wall are just plainly wrong.

    Trump’s racism creates an obvious hurdle when trying to deal with the issue in a serious way. But on a practical level, how does one gain approval for an immigration compromise from a president who doesn’t appear to have any idea what he’s talking about?

  101. blf says

    Folow-up to @113 and earlier comments: Rather obviously after being told off by the State Dept, the loathsome bigoted new ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has now tried to do a real apology (to be published tomorrow, Saturday), US ambassador to The Hague apologizes for making Muslim remarks after denial:

    […]
    In extracts from an interview with De Telegraaf newspaper to be published in full on Saturday, Pete Hoekstra said that with hindsight, I’m shocked I said it. It was a misstatement. It was simply wrong.

    Whilst he is correct what he said (see @113) was wrong, I don’t for even a nanosecond believe he is shocked, and it was a feck of a lot more than a mere misstatement. This eejit is anti-Muslim (and anti-Gay and so on…), he is a teabugger founder, he lied about the incident, lied about lying about it, issued one of the worse not-an-apologies of all time, and just this week tried to duck (avoid) the entire issue. And for fecks sake, he’s from the Netherlands, he must have bloody well known he was making it all up (even allowing for him quite possibly being trapped in echo chamber).

    Hoekstra, a Dutch-born former Republican congressman who was Donald Trump’s pick to represent the US, added: I got countries mixed up. I got it wrong, and I don’t know how it could have happened.

    KNOCK IT THE FECK OFF! Mr shithole countries Ambassador, yes you got it wrong, but it happened because it was deliberate — you, and your thieving treasonous boss, have a fecking track record of Islamaphobia & fascism & repeated lying.

    And if you did get the country of your birth mixed up with some other country, which other country? Where the feck has [t]he Islamic movement […] now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos […], there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt{…} and, yes, there are no-go zones […]. And, for that matter, what the feck is this so-called Islamic movement? It’s a completely delusional set of lies, deliberate lies, spouted by someone who lied about saying them, then lied about lying about saying them, and since the lie-about-lying-about-lying has been conspicuously avoiding the issue. With a short essay thrown in, laughingly called an apology, but better called a “wafflelogy”.

    (The article then goes on to some bland statements from the State Dept and Dutch PM, which are fairly clearly diplomatic-speak for “some heavies from the State Dept just kicked him in the head until he cried ‘uncle!'”. Whether or not his full apology really is an apology is unclear, but the extracts quoted above suggest, as per my rant, that it is not.)

  102. says

    Congressman John Lewis does not plan to attend the State of the Union address. I wonder how many others will boycott the event in order to show their disdain for Trump?

  103. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] The context and import of President Trump’s remarks are not simply that the countries are “shitholes.” It’s much more than that. It’s that we don’t want people from those countries because the awfulness of the countries attaches to the people themselves. Speaking of whole classes of people, specifically people of color, as basically garbage – is not only disgusting but entirely of a piece with the campaign President Trump ran in 2016 and the policies he is implementing as President today. […]

    With President Trump, using the most denigrating language to say we don’t want immigrants from African or African diaspora countries but want white people instead is clearly and ably captured in his policies. Scare immigrants off, work the internals of the immigration system to expel a few hundred thousand Haitians here, a few hundred thousand Salvadorans there. […] Here President Trump, along with Steve King and the rest of the more or less open racists on Capitol Hill is just making the point explicit. They want to keep the US a majority white and culturally homogenous country. That is Stephen Miller’s core policy agenda. He remains one of Trump’s closest advisors. It is simply keep America as white as possible.

    Stephen Miller is reportedly the guy who made sure that immigration hardliners like Cotton and Goodlatte were in the room with Trump, Lindsey, and Durbin.

    […] This is also what’s behind a ‘merit-based’ immigration policy and an end to ‘chain-migration’. On its face, the idea of a merit-based policy doesn’t sound so crazy. We certainly want the best scientists and engineers and doctors and entrepreneurs to come to America. But we already do that. A big part of the immigration system is geared around doing just that. […] But the key point is that if your whole immigration system is based on “merit” you’re going to exclude a ton of people from countries where the kinds of advanced degrees, training and wealth that constitute “merit” in this sense just aren’t available. Overwhelmingly those will be countries that are poor and don’t have white people.

    Trumpism is ethnic-nationalism, rightist ethnic nationalism, specifically white ethnic nationalism. […]

    The heart of Trumpism has always been fueled by panic over the decline of white privilege […]

    In the shithole remarks we see it very unadorned: why do we want more low-quality non-white people? To Trump, it is an obvious and urgent question. Arguments about cultural assimilation are often prettied-up in right-leaning policy journals as concern that too rapid immigration doesn’t give enough time for assimilation […] But with shithole you get to the heart of it which isn’t these prettified, intellectualized theories but rather a voice of contempt and dehumanization about people who – let’s just say it – aren’t white.

    […]. It’s not just exclusion but a palpable dehumanizing contempt. The words only matter in as much as they illustrate the ugliness of what is currently happening and that is real and much more important than mere words. […]

    Much more at the link.

  104. says

    From Nicholas Burns, former diplomat,:

    The damage overseas from Trump’s ignorant and rascist remarks can’t be exaggerated. No President in the last 100 years has reduced America’s moral authority as he has.

    From the cowardly lapdog, Senator David Perdue of Georgia:

    In regards to Sen. Durbin’s accusation, @SenTomCotton and I do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.

    From Matt Shuham:

    […] Cotton and Perdue, both staunch conservatives on immigration, are co-sponsors of the RAISE Act, which aims to dramatically reshuffle how America’s visa application process works in favor of migrants with certain marketable skills. The proposal would disadvantage those with family connections in the United States, relative to the status quo, eliminate the so-called diversity visa lottery and, overall, severely cut the number of immigrants entering the United States legally. […]

  105. blf says

    Follow-up to @143, @148, and others (hair furor canceling his London invasion): There’s a great reader’s comment to the Gruniad’s editorial, Trump’s non-visit: social media beats diplomacy:

    Brave Sir Donald ran away.
    Bravely ran away away.
    When danger reared it’s ugly head,
    He bravely turned his tail and fled.

    Yes, brave Sir Donald turned about
    And gallantly he chickened out.
    Swiftly taking to his feet,
    He beat a very brave retreat.
    Bravest of the brave, Sir Donald!

    The editorial itself is a bit goofy (and I don’t mean that in a good sense, sadly, albeit perhaps the point has whooshed over my head), but it does start with a nice snark: “The reason why President Trump called off his visit to London to open the new US embassy may never be clear. It might be wise not to overthink it; he probably didn’t.”

  106. says

    From Hillary Clinton:

    The anniversary of the devastating earthquake 8 years ago is a day to remember the tragedy, honor the resilient people of Haiti, & affirm America’s commitment to helping our neighbors. Instead, we‘re subjected to Trump’s ignorant, racist views of anyone who doesn’t look like him.

    blf @161, I like this opening sentence, which is spot on: “The reason why President Trump called off his visit to London to open the new US embassy may never be clear. It might be wise not to overthink it; he probably didn’t.”

  107. says

    From Lindsey Graham:

    Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.

    The American ideal is embraced by people all over the globe. It was best said a long time ago, E Pluribus Unum—Out of Many, One. Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness. In reforming immigration, we cannot lose these American Ideals.

    The American people will ultimately judge us on the outcome we achieve, not the process which led to it.

    I appreciate Senator Durbin’s statements and have enjoyed working with him and many others on this important issue.

    Twisted himself into a pretzel with that one. Trying to have it both ways.

  108. says

    “Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence”:

    A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Michael Cohen, who spent nearly a decade as a top attorney at the Trump Organization, arranged payment to the woman, Stephanie Clifford, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated the nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Cohen, these people said.

    Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, has privately alleged the encounter with Mr. Trump took place after they met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, these people said. Mr. Trump married Melania Trump in 2005….

  109. says

    More quotes from the recent Wall Street Journal interview of Trump:

    My son had a brief meeting based on the fact that he thought whatever he thought.
    ——————
    Look, all I see of these Democrats, like Adam Schiff —- it’s all he does, he’ll have a meeting, and then he’ll leave, and he’ll call up the meeting, and then I’ll have a meeting and then he’ll leave. He left meetings where people are being interviewed, and then all of a sudden they say a story about what’s going on inside the meetings.

    It’s probably illegal, what he’s doing.
    —————
    But the Democrats know it’s a hoax. It’s an excuse for them having lost the election. They know it’s a hoax. hey realize there’s no collusion whatsoever. There’s no collusion. I also think that primary collusion, because there was no collusion on our side, the collusion was on the Democrat side with the Russians.
    ——————
    Look, there has never been in the history of this country an administration that, number one, did nothing wrong … There has never been a more— they said, “You never did anything wrong.” To be honest, they probably were surprised, OK? As most lawyers would be. They said, “You never did anything wrong.”
    —————-
    I never got a phone call from Russia. I didn’t have a tweet. I didn’t have a — I had nothing. I didn’t have an email. I didn’t have a meeting. I didn’t have — did I have one meeting with — about Russia? And…

    So, they make up a crime, and the crime doesn’t exist. And then they say obstruction. And how could there be obstruction on firing Comey? When the man who’s in charge of it wrote a letter that was far stronger than anything I would have written. He was in charge— Deputy Rosenstein. He wrote a letter that’s far stronger than even what I say.

    Comey. Comey has proven to be a liar and a leaker. Proven. He tries to act like a choir boy. What he did with Hillary Clinton is outrageous. He saved her life, because all of those charges—I call it “Comey one, two, and three,” all of those charges and Comey won, she was guilty of. She should have been taken out of the campaign and been on trial.

    He didn’t do that. He saved her life. But here’s the way you look at Comey. Everybody hated Comey, and Comey—by the way, the FBI, say what you want, go back to look at the day around Hillary—the FBI was in turmoil. Everybody hated Comey. The Democrats wanted him fired. Everybody wanted him out. You look at what Schumer said about him, you look at what everybody said. As soon as I fired him they said, “oh, he’s wonderful—he’s wonderful, how could you do that.”

    So there’s no—you have a no — crime that was created, you have a phony crime and then they talk about obstruction. And how can they talk about obstruction when I was the most open person, in history, in terms of — there’s never been a paper we didn’t give them, there’s never been a question we didn’t answer.

    Now, I could of [sic] done it differently. I’ve been, you know, pretty successful in the courts over the years, I’ve been a very successful person, you can check—USA Today said, “he does great in the courts,” OK?

    No dementia, no problems, none whatsoever.

  110. says

    Excellent Twitter thread from Paul Engelhard:

    So Trump wants more immigrants from rich European countries, huh.

    Name ONE reason why someone from a place with virtually no murders, free universities, socialised health care, 30 days paid vacation, and 2 years parental leave would move to that “shithole country” that is the US.
    ———————–
    “Tired of clean air and water, a great work-life balance, zero gun violence, free education and a strong safety net? Come to Redneck Fascist Hell!”
    Yeah, no. I’m staying right the fuck where I am, guys.
    ———————
    Imagine someone thinking, “you know what is missing in my life? A crippling fear that some whingey white dude shoots up my kid’s school! Let’s move to America!”
    —————-
    Norway has fewer murders in a year than the US has in 17 hours.
    The only time in recent history when that wasn’t true, the white supremacist mass murderer Anders Breivik ended up endorsing, you guessed it, Donald Trump.

    More at the link.

    https://twitter.com/paulengelhard/status/951585547906093057

  111. says

    More quotes from the Wall Street Journal interview of Trump:

    WSJ: You think North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between the two countries, between you and President Moon? […]

    Trump: I will let you know. But if I were them I would try. But the difference is I’m president; other people aren’t. And I know more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived, but I’ll let you know. But I’ll tell you, you know, when you talk about driving a wedge, we also have a thing called trade. And South Korea — brilliantly makes — we have a trade deficit with South Korea of $31 billion a year. That’s a pretty strong bargaining chip to me.

    No, we do not have a $31 billion a year trade deficit with South Korea. https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5800.html

    Now Mexico may not want to make the NAFTA deal and which is OK, then I’ll terminate NAFTA … which I think would be frankly a positive for our country. I don’t think it’s a positive for Mexico, I don’t think it’s a positive for the world. But it’s a positive for our country because I’d make a much better deal. There is no deal that I can make on NAFTA that’s as good as if I terminate NAFTA and make a new deal.

  112. says

    “Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.”

    Matthews has to go. He’s been an odious, sexist jerk for a long time. In the past several hours, I saw him inexplicably ask outgoing VA governor Terry McAuliffe what he would have done had Trump invaded his space like he did with Clinton in the debate. When McAuliffe basically answered that he’d have hit him (?), Matthews laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. I literally have to mute the end of his show before Chris Hayes comes on because I can’t stand hearing his voice. I can only imagine how much MSNBC is paying him.

  113. blf says

    Trump asked why ‘pretty Korean lady’ analyst wasn’t negotiating with North Korea:

    […] Donald Trump faced further controversy on Friday when it was reported that he referred to an intelligence analyst presenting information to him in the Oval Office as a “pretty Korean lady” and suggested she should be part of negotiations with North Korea.

    NBC News reported the exchange between the president and a “career intelligence analyst who is an expert in hostage policy”. The analyst, the report said, was briefing Trump last fall on “the impending release of a family long held in Pakistan”.

    Citing two officials with direct knowledge of the exchange, NBC said the president asked the analyst where she was from, to which she said New York City. Trump reportedly pressed, asking where “your people” were from.

    The NBC report said the analyst said her parents were Korean, leading Trump to ask an adviser why the “pretty Korean lady” was not involved in negotiations with nuclear-armed North Korea.

    NBC said it did not interview the analyst, whose identity and agency it did not reveal, citing concern for her privacy. […]

    […]

    The NBC report listed other instances of the president speaking with an apparent lack of sensitivity in formal surroundings, in meetings with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and with Navajo code talkers.

    The president reportedly expressed surprise that no CBC members knew Ben Carson [… As NBC says, “Carson … had never served in Congress and spent his career as a surgeon”; i.e., it’s unsurprising CBC members didn’t know him –blf].

    At the code talkers event, in November, Trump joked about the Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, whom he has nicknamed “Pochahontas” over her claim of Native American ancestry.

    An excerpt from the NBC report Trump’s history of breaking decorum with remarks on race, ethnicity (see link embedded in above excerpt):

    [… A CBC] member relayed to Trump that potential welfare cuts would harm her constituents, “not all of whom are black.” The president replied: “Really? Then what are they?”

    And the Grauniad has put together a quick / short summary of hair furor’s history of bigotry, Racism and Donald Trump: a common thread throughout his career and life.

  114. blf says

    (This is a cross-post from poopyhead’s The Norwegians cover their eyes, embarrassed to be singled out thread.)

    Al Jazeera has a fantastic rant by Elsie Eyakuze, “a blogger for the Mikocheni Report, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania”, ‘Shithole’ nationalism. A few choice excerpts below, but the whole thing should be read.

    One thing that is upsetting about the comments that US President Donald Trump made calling African and African-descent nations “shitholes” is that his African and African-descent supporters from the 2016 election period haven’t come out to support him on that. After all, loyalty counts for something, doesn’t it? Some of these people are my friends, mind you. Any takers? Come on, now. Y’all were loud in 2016, time to show your face again, fellow #shithole inhabitants.

    Seriously, though. There’s a couple of things going on here. First of all, I want to address the fact that Donald Trump is flamingly out of his mind. Where I come from — proudly a #shitholecountry — we generally try to be kind to our elders whose minds have clearly gone into the void while leaving them physically behind. Because there are values connected to the concept of Utu (or as non-East Africans call it, Ubuntu) that demand a basic level of common decency from individuals. It’s a social contract thing.

    As a consequence, I am largely horrified on a daily basis that his people are letting The Donald run around nekkid-minded in public everyday under the pretext that he doesn’t have a formal mental health diagnosis. The only response that’s appropriate from out here is a gentle eye-roll and some prayers for America. This man is dying a slow and horrible public death and here I am writing about it. Utu forgive me.

    The other issue is condescension. Dear media, telling us that Donald Trump is a racist is… not news. It is low-hanging fruit. He’s a mean old git who promised to build a wall between the US and Mexico to appeal to his voters. Was anyone surprised that he also despises people from continents he has never visited, especially considering he can hardly read to expand what appears to be a tragically limited intellect? Nope. It only adds insult to injury that we have to talk about this as though it merits consideration. Another overpriviledged American goes Heart of Darkness. Been there, done that.

    […]

    [… T]he thing about #shitholecountries is that we survive, always have… and most menacingly, we always will. This continent is going to hit a billion and a half not too far from now. The superbly highly-skilled immigrants America rejects (African immigrants to the US are consistently the most highly qualified “type” of immigrant, look it up) will find elsewhere to do their work (Jyna, probably) and repatriate their knowledge and money. And we can reproduce like champions. Like I said, I understand. There is something frightening about the inevitability of the browning of the world, and the slow and grinding demise of a certain kind of privilege.

    By the way, could someone please tell Donald Trump that a #shitholecountry feminist woman columnist is praying for America to dump him for his own good and mental health? And that he needs to embrace the inevitable browning of the world? His personal apocalypse is here. Because anything I can do to drive him closer to the edge of completely undeniable unfitness-for-office is something I will do gladly. Utu, forgive me, some things just have to be done.

  115. blf says

    A bit of a follow-up to an earlier comment about Co$ (Scientology) stealth invasion of Ireland, Scientology linked to plans for centre in Co Meath town:

    […]
    For the last several months rumours have circulated in the small Co[unty] Meath town of Ballivor suggesting that its abandoned national school had been taken over by a controversial drug rehabilitation group linked to the Church of Scientology.

    […]

    But until now that’s all they were, rumours. Scientology’s spokeswoman in Dublin repeatedly said she had no knowledge of the facility and insisted the drug treatment operation, Narconon, was an entirely separate organisation to the church.

    Scientology’s Dublin operation declined to send a representative to a meeting of Ballivor locals to alleviate their concerns last month, while requests for comment from Narconon in the UK went unanswered.

    […]

    Cllr Noel French […] said he first aired his concerns last October, and that these have increased as the months have passed.

    “We have tried to find out what the building is going to be used for but we’ve been stonewalled with secrecy. Why all the secrecy over a nursing home in the middle of a town with 1,700 residents?”

    […]

  116. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Racheal Maddow is having Sen. Kamala Harris on. Should be interesting.

  117. says

    “Trump criticism dominates Chuck Grassley town meeting in rural Iowa”:

    U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley faced relentless questioning about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the investigation into Russian election meddling at a rural town meeting here Friday morning.

    Amid a smattering of questions about trucking regulations, homeopathic medicine and pension security, a steady stream of attendees pressed Grassley to defend his handling of the ongoing Russia investigation and to offer his views on Trump’s conduct on the job.

    The event, Grassley’s first public town meeting on his annual tour of all 99 Iowa counties, drew about 50 people to the community center in the town of about 1,500, the Harrison County seat.

    It was a striking scene, not least because of where it was playing out: in a rural western Iowa county where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly two-to-one and where Trump carried 65 percent of the vote in 2016.

    And in contrast to the crowds that packed into lawmakers’ town meetings last year, the anti-Trump contingent was not obviously organized. There were no young clipboard-carrying organizers from political groups, and none of the attendees carried the red-and-green agree-disagree signs made famous by the liberal Indivisible movement. They appeared, by and large, to be from Logan and the small communities immediately surrounding….

    I’ve had it with the media narrative that the Democrats a) only have an anti-Trump, especially Russia message, which b) voters don’t really care about, because c) people only care about economic matters. None of this is true. You could see in earlier waves of town halls, and can still see now: people across the country absolutely are paying attention to and angry about Republican complicity with the foreign and domestic attacks on the republic.

  118. says

    Neera Tanden: “A decade from now, it’s possible – maybe likely -so many Republicans are going to act like they don’t even remember Trump’s name. But I’m going to remember what each of them did in this moment. Few have been principled. Most have been craven.”

  119. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    SC:

    Well, Trump did say that he could make a prophet out of running for President. He probably didn’t expect to win, but now he’s making a prophet out of being the President.

    Sick.

  120. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    And no, I do not know why I keep tpying ‘prophet’ when I mean ‘profit’. All hail Tpyos’s offspring Substitutia!

  121. says

    Oh, FFS.

    A few members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory council — including its spokesman — on Friday defended the president after he made comments about immigrants from places including Africa and Central America.

    In a statement to The Washington Post, [advisory council] spokesman Johnnie Moore questioned whether Trump had actually made the comments and accused Congress of holding up immigration reform. If Trump did make the comments, Moore said, they “were crass.” The reports about Trump’s remarks are “absolutely suspect and politicized,” Moore said. […]

    Others in the advisory group — the only known regular pipeline of religious feedback to the White House — spoke in support of the president, saying that his language may not have been acceptable but that his views are.

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

  122. says

    I suppose you have all heard by now that the Missile Alert issued for Hawaii was a false alarm.

    The alert was pushed out to smart phones read:

    Emergency Alert, BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEE IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

    Apparently, the false alarm was based on “human error” according to Senator Brian Schatz.

    Link

  123. says

    More Democratic lawmakers are saying that they will not attend President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

    So far, we have statements from John Lewis, Maxine Waters, and Earl Blumenauer.

    Link. Statements from the lawmakers are available at the link.

  124. says

    This whole Hawaii thing happened while I was out, which my nerves are happy about. Wow. Scary.

    I thought I saw something the other day about how the state was going to be testing its related systems, but now they seem to be saying that it wasn’t a test gone wrong but that someone hit the wrong button. Dubious.

  125. says

    The Trump administration is setting up another way to slap down poor and/or minority communities. They are going to make it easier for banks to “redline” certain neighborhoods, (refuse to issue loans to people living in or planning to move to those neighborhoods).

    Changes to the regulations of the Community Reinvestment Act—a law first enacted in 1977—could potentially transform the way banks make billions of dollars in loans, investments and donations to poorer customers. In all, they could make it easier for banks to meet certain lending requirements and lower penalties for compliance problems.

    Using the CRA, federal regulators evaluate bank behavior toward poor communities and assign grades to each company; getting a poor score has no regulatory effect, but may be taken into account when banks seek mergers or other acquisitions; a merger involving a company with poor community scores could be given the side-eye when coming to regulators with expansion plans, in other words. And the grades include not only whether the banks engage in explicit “redlining,” but branch access, account fees, and other means a bank might use to discourage either poor or minority communities from using their services while prioritizing other customers. […]

    None of this [deregulation] is expected to benefit underserved communities; all of it is being undertaken in order to reduce the regulatory rules on banks limiting their bad behavior. It will not Make America Great Again, but it will ensure that Trump’s new team of anti-regulators have very cushy jobs waiting for them in the banking sector once they’ve tired of Washington.

    Link

  126. says

    Follow-up to comments 126 and 127.

    The bogus story about Walmart trickling tax relief windfalls down to workers has just been proven to be even more disingenuous than we thought.

    After Walmart’s flashy announcement of bonuses of up to $1,000 for some of its workers, the real story played out quietly.

    On Wednesday, as news of the bonus announcement was lauded by Trump and Fox News, Walmart abruptly closed down 63 Sam’s Clubs stores. More than 9,000 people lost their jobs. Some only learned about the decision when they showed up to work and found the doors locked.

    On Friday, there was news of more pain for Walmart workers. The company confirmed to Business Insider that about 3,500 “co-managers” will be laid off across the country. They will be replaced by new, “assistant manager” positions, which would have a lower salary. The laid off workers will be able to “apply” for these new jobs. […]

    Link

    There was also the footnote that the $1,000 bonuses were only offered to people who had worked for Walmart for twenty years!

  127. says

    I don’t know why state legislators keep passing laws that require drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other safety-net programs. The whole drug-testing thing always turns out to be an expensive, unnecessary fiasco. West Virginia was the latest state to give this punish-and-mistrust-the-poor tactic a try.

    […] The state estimated that over the first year, the program would identify 390 people as drug users at a cost of $50,000.

    The program has now been in place for three months and just four people, less than one-half of a percent of all applicants, tested positive. […]

    Not all applicants take the test. Courts have required such testing to be based on reasonable suspicion, so those applying for TANF are required to fill out a questionnaire designed to flag potential users. 107 applicants were drug tested.

    The program was derided by substance abuse experts as counterproductive. “The Legislature wants to punish people for having a medical condition. The way to punish them is to take away those benefits. You’re further destabilizing a family that’s already at risk,” Kim Miller, an addiction treatment specialist, told the West Virginia Gazette Mail.

    West Virginia’s experience mirrors those of other states who have implemented similar programs. […]

    […] All told, these 13 states tested 2,826 people out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients in 2016. Of those tested, just 369 came back positive. In four states, drug testing uncovered exactly zero positive tests for the whole year. The positive drug test rate out of all applicants, in states where people tested positive, ranged from 0.07 percent in Arkansas to 2.14 percent in Utah; none of them came anywhere close to the national drug use rate of 9.4 percent for the general population. […]

    For all of this, states collectively spent more than $1.3 million on drug testing for TANF in 2016.

    […]

    Link

  128. says

    The foreign press is having a hard time translating “shithole.”

    […] CNA in Taiwan have opted for an idiom that literally means ‘countries where birds don’t lay eggs’ 「鳥不生蛋國家」 which is perhaps best translated as ‘godforsaken countries.’
    ——————
    Japanese media translation of “shithole” = “countries that are dirty like toilets”
    ——————-
    For translation, JoongAng Ilbo went with “beggars’ den.” I still think the more literal translation of 똥통 (“shit bucket”) would have worked better.
    ——————-
    Jorge Ramos just confirmed shithole is “mierda” in Spanish
    ——————
    German media are going with ‘Drecksloch’, a direct translation, also vulgar, but ‘Shithole’ would surely have been understood shit is part of German daily vocabulary. See ‘Shitstorm’ in every third news article.
    —————
    American media : “‘can we say ‘shithole’?”
    British media ‘shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole shithole…’etc

    Link

  129. says

    Ah, good. Another Trump administration appointee has been found wanting and was fired.

    Teresa Manning, the controversial official in charge of the Title X federal family planning program, was escorted from HHS premises on Friday.

    Two sources with knowledge of Manning’s departure tell POLITICO that she was fired by HHS. An HHS spokesperson disputed that account, saying that Manning resigned. […]

    Manning, who previously worked for anti-abortion groups including the Family Research Council and National Right to Life, had been serving as deputy assistant secretary for HHS’ Office of Population Affairs.

    In that role, she was responsible for helping set national policy around family planning, contraception and teen pregnancy — a development that alarmed abortion-rights groups worried about Manning’s history of statements and actions opposing birth control and abortion.

    Manning stated in a 2003 public radio interview that “contraception doesn’t work.” She also has separately suggested a link between abortion and breast cancer, which has not been proven, and helped craft state legislation to limit access to abortion. […]

    So, an anti-birth control doofus is no longer leading Title X. Oh, wait, another anti-birth control doofus was waiting in the wings:

    Valerie Huber, who had been serving as chief of staff for the HHS’ assistant secretary of health, was named acting deputy assistant security of OPA. Huber is an advocate for abstinence education who joined HHS in June 2017.

    A source with knowledge of Manning’s dismissal said that staff were told to leave the floor of the HHS building and to take their computers, in order to ensure that no one witnessed her being escorted out.

    Link

    Sounds messy. Attempted secrecy. Doofuses still in charge.

  130. says

    Iran is rejecting Trump’s latest moves regarding the nuclear deal.

    Iran said Saturday it won’t accept any changes to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after […] Trump vowed to pull out of the accord in a few months if European allies did not fix its “terrible flaws.”

    […] the Foreign Ministry said Iran “will not accept any change in the deal, neither now nor in future,” adding that it will “not take any action beyond its commitments.”

    It also said Iran would not allow the deal to be linked to other issues, after Trump suggested that the sanctions relief under the deal be tied to Iran limiting its long-range ballistic missile program.

    So, the Great Negotiator failed again.

    Trump on Friday extended the waivers of key economic sanctions that were lifted under the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program. But he said he would work with European allies to remove so-called “sunset clauses” that allow Iran to gradually resume advanced nuclear activities in the next decade.

    He paired Friday’s concession with other, targeted sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and ballistic missile development. The Treasury Department’s action hits 14 Iranian officials and companies and businessmen from Iran, China and Malaysia, freezing any assets they have in the U.S. and banning Americans from doing business with them.

    The Iranian statement said […] the sanctions are against international law and go against U.S. commitments, saying they would bring a “strong reaction” from Iran.

    The 2015 nuclear accord, reached after months of painstaking negotiations with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, lifted international sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear program. Trump has repeatedly criticized the accord, while Iran has accused the U.S. of failing to comply with it. The next sanctions waivers are due in May.

    Link

    After he thoroughly messes up the Iran nuclear deal, I think Trump is likely to punt the problem to Congress, expecting Congress to do the clean up. Something like what he did with DACA.

  131. says

    From Masha Gessen, writing for The New Yorker:

    On Thursday, Trump called Haiti and African states “shithole countries,” and that was, in a way, the least of it this week. The same day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York City arrested the immigration-rights activist Ravi Ragbir during his scheduled annual check-in with the agency. On Wednesday, ice raided 7-Eleven stores in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, arresting twenty-one people. And on Tuesday the Justice Department announced that it had secured an order revoking the U.S. citizenship of Baljinder Singh, who had been living in the United States since 1991. That was this week in America’s war on immigrants.

    Tempting as it may be to see this war as the creation of the Trump Administration—the outcome of electing the man who promised to build the Wall—this is not the case. The raids on the 7-Eleven stores apparently stem from an ice investigation of the convenience-store chain that goes back to 2013. The denaturalization proceedings against Singh grew out of a 2016 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General about an investigation into the fingerprint records of naturalized citizens; it found more than a hundred thousand records that had not been transferred from an older database to a current one, and identified more than eight hundred people who may have been naturalized in spite of being ineligible.[…] the Trump Administration didn’t start the hunt for “bad” immigrants but merely intensified it. It has revoked Obama-era guidelines for setting priorities in the deportation process, rendering it indiscriminate.

    […] the Baljinder Singh case might be the first in a new category of bureaucratic enforcement.
    Singh, who was born in India, came to the United States in 1991, without any identity documents. He was placed in detention, and deportation proceedings against him began. Then, after he was released into the custody of a friend, he failed to appear for a deportation hearing and was ordered deported in absentia; he filed for asylum. None of this is unusual for an asylum seeker, nor is what happened afterward: Singh still hadn’t had an asylum interview in 1996, when he married a woman who was a U.S. citizen. After that, he abandoned his asylum application and filed for a green card and, eventually, for citizenship. On his citizenship application, he failed to indicate that he had once been ordered deported, and that he had originally been admitted into the United States under the name Davinder Singh, rather than Baljinder Singh. These omissions have now cost him his citizenship. The case against Singh contains no allegations of other violations. It appears that Singh has lived in the United States his entire adult life, without incident. The Justice Department has stated that he is forty-three, which would mean that he came to this country as a teen-ager.

    Denaturalization is a terrifying concept. It’s a way of literally and legally other-ing a person. The very possibility of denaturalization makes it impossible for immigrants ever to feel fully secure. […]

    In scaring others, Trump Country also scares itself. Trumpism traffics in fear and demands mobilization. Mobilization demands an enemy. With every passing day, and every tweet, the image of the immigrant as the enemy looms larger, while the circle of “us” continues to get smaller.

    Much more at the link.

  132. says

    “Trump races to head off another special election debacle”:

    The White House is scrambling to avoid another special election disaster, this time in a Pennsylvania congressional district in the heart of Trump country.

    After a humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race last month, the administration is drawing up ambitious plans that will kick off next Thursday when Trump travels to the conservative district to appear with Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Vice President Mike Pence and an assortment of Cabinet officials are also expected to make trips; Pence may go twice ahead of the March 13 special election, two administration officials said.

    The White House has taken an especially keen interest in the race: Members of Trump’s political affairs office met with Saccone this week. And during a Tuesday conference call between the Republican national party committees and the Saccone campaign, White House political director Bill Stepien expressed displeasure with the progress the candidate was making on fundraising. Stepien said Saccone wasn’t raising enough money and asked for an update on the campaign’s progress in the days to come.

    It is unusual for a White House to expend so much political capital on a single House race, particularly in what’s typically seen as a safe Republican district. But the involvement underscores the high stakes confronting the administration as it approaches a midterm election in which the party’s hold on the House majority is in grave danger. A loss in the working class Pennsylvania district, which the president won by 20 percentage points, would show that few GOP seats are safe.

    Republicans have reason to worry. Aside from his anemic fundraising, Saccone, a Trump-aligned state representative, is facing a telegenic opponent in Democrat Conor Lamb, an Ivy League-educated 33-year-old attorney and Marine Corps veteran….

    Though Trump’s popularity has plummeted in many parts of the country, senior Republicans have determined that the president’s involvement will help Saccone. Democrats enjoy a registration advantage in the district, which has a big presence of organized labor. But it is reliably conservative territory — the kind that Trump appealed to in 2016, when he campaigned on issues like trade and infrastructure….

  133. says

    Steve Schmidt (I fixed capitalization and removed tweet numbers for flow):

    The Trump faction in America accounts for between 32-36 percent of voters. The overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens are aghast at the racism, malevolence, chaos and corruption of this administration. November 2018 will present an opportunity to deliver a massive repudiation of Trumpism. Fire is part of the natural life cycle of the forest. It destroys the forest but also purifies and renews it so that the cycle of life can begin again. So it must be for the Trump-Republican party. Only through repudiation and defeat can it be renewed. The corrupted, rotten and complicit Republican majority that is abetting this Presidents damage to our institutions, national security and domestic tranquility must face electoral anhialation. A massive coalition of Democrats, independent and appalled Republicans must come together to deliver a message to the world that the American people will defend our Republic and the inheritance bequeathed to us by previous generations. A righteous anger is building in this country and it must be channeled in to the 2018 elections. Enough. Defeat them all.

  134. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 210.

    Trey Gowdy resigns from the House Ethics Committee

    Jason Chaffetz, former chair of the House Oversight Committee, just up and resigns

    Devin Nunes needs to be protected by Paul Ryan, and is still trying to muck up investigations into Trump.

    Link

    The House Ethics Committee censures House members. Maybe no one wants to censure Nunes?

    Maybe Gowdy knows he can or should be censured?
    Link

    In 2016, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina reportedly used $150,000 in taxpayer money to settle a veteran-discrimination and retaliation claim with a former aide.

    The ex-staffer, an officer in the Air Force Reserves, alleged that Gowdy had discriminated against him after he took leave for his service-related obligations.

    At one point, the aide also alleged that Gowdy’s high-profile investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack was taking a partisan turn and focusing on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  135. says

    “Smoking penalties, ER fees, premiums on the poor: How states want to shrink Medicaid.”

    This is the essence of neoliberalism. It’s the antithesis of a program to help people; it’s about punishing and disciplining the poor. People are expected to do almost anything to serve national capitalism and in return receive fuck all. Once again I’ll recommend The Body Economic, which addresses both the physical and the psychological effects of austerity policies (and these are austerity policies, outrageously promoted even in times of economic growth and in the wake of a handout of trillions of dollars to the richest families and corporations). Republican class war at its cruelest and most harmful.

  136. says

    Josh Marshall: “More interesting question: why has the NRA built such a deep money relationship in recent years w individuals in Russia with ties to the state security services?”

    Needs to be answered (same for some religious and other political organizations).

  137. says

    “Eros is a one-sided relationship between a man and an object. If this is taken from us, what will remain? Literally nothing. At least, I cannot think of anything, which I assume is the same.”

  138. Owlmirror says

    [I don’t know where else to put this]

    NICE YOUNG LAWYER: I used to be a public defender. You just say the WORDS “sovereign citizen” and the office would clear. People would run for the doors. — (presumably) heard by UrsulaV

  139. says

    More swamp-creature action from the Trump administration. This time, it’s the Education Department awarding contracts to debt-collection firms in which Betsy Devos invests.

    The Department of Education on Thursday selected two firms to help collect unpaid student loans — one of which, Performant Financial Corp., once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    I don’t understand the use of the past tense in the last sentence above. “Had financial ties …”? It looks to me like she still has financial ties to Performant.

    […] the Education Department said that the proposals offered by Performant, which DeVos invested in prior to becoming secretary, as well as the other firm, Windham Professionals, were “the most advantageous to the government.”

    But the firm’s past performance puts that claim into question. The Department faced protests by losing bidders in 2016 after choosing seven firms, one of which was Windham, to collect overdue loans. It responded to objections by noting Windham’s past “exceptional” rating that led to its selection among the seven firms, as well as Performant’s rating as “marginal” and its past rating as “satisfactory,” which resulted in the firm not being selected.

    “It simply does not make sense that the agency would choose to work with lower-rated [companies] with marginal ratings that do not have an exceptional past performance record,” said Todd Canni, an attorney for Continental Service Group, one of the bidders, according to The Washington Post. […]

    When DeVos was nominated, the Republican-controlled Senate took the unprecedented move of advancing her confirmation hearing before the paperwork was complete about her potential conflicts of interest. Thus, the senators had no opportunity to question her about her investments in companies like Performant.

    Nathan Bailey, spokesperson for the Education Department, told the Washington Post that DeVos had “no knowledge, let alone involvement,” in the new deal.

    https://thinkprogress.org/education-devos-debt-collection-f764949dc2ce/

  140. says

    While Trump was on the golf course, the warning of a missile threat in Hawaii was sent out. The threat turned out to be a false alarm, but during the time when it was thought to be real, Trump’s aides at the White House simply did not know what to do. They were completely unprepared.

    […] Trump’s Cabinet has yet to test formal plans for how to respond to a domestic missile attack, according to a senior administration official. John Kelly, while serving as secretary of Homeland Security through last July, planned to conduct the exercise. But he left his post to become White House chief of staff before it was conducted, and acting Secretary Elaine Duke never carried it out.

    The administration ran the exercise on Dec. 19 at the deputies level, at the behest of Kelly and newly sworn-in Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen. But as of Saturday, when Hawaii residents were taking cover, the federal government had yet to play out the same scenario with Cabinet secretaries at what is known as the principals level.

    “The U.S. government hasn’t tested these plans in 30 years,” said the senior administration official involved in the White House response. “All the fresh faces sitting around the table in the situation room have little idea what their roles would be in this scenario. The bottom line is that without a principals level exercise, we shouldn’t have any confidence that the Cabinet would know what to do in an attack scenario.” […]

    Cable news channels were focused on the false alarm, but the president did not react publicly. Hours after the incident, he sent a tweet focused on “fake news,” the mainstream media and Michael Wolff’s new book about him.

    Link

  141. says

    British Labour foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr , “Trump is an asteroid of awfulness.”

    He is an asteroid of awfulness that has fallen on this world. I think that he is a danger and I think that he is a racist.

    [She also talked about working on trade deals with Trump] He doesn’t show he has a real grasp of what a trade deal is. These things take years.

  142. says

    From Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe:

    You have vast agreement between Democrats and Republicans. If you put a bill [on DACA and other immigration issues] up Tuesday, they would vote for it and it would overwhelmingly pass.

    Forget Stephen Miller. Stephen Miller did not get elected president of the United States of America. Mr. Trump, if you’re watching today, you know what the right thing is, and just do it.

    Many insiders are blaming Stephen Miller for sabotaging the bipartisan deal that Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin brought to Trump. Miller sabotaged the meeting by arranging for immigration hardliners to be present … an ambush-like scenario that Graham and Durbin were not expecting.

    Today, Trump tweeted that “DACA is probably dead.” He blamed the Democrats.

    McAuliffe said that Trump is “being run by Stephen Miller.”

    I guess we have to blame Miller because Trump himself is completely irresponsible, and he is too easily swayed by people like Miller.

  143. blf says

    Trump Muslim ban shifted public opinion, study finds:

    A new study announced has found that an executive order signed by the US President [sic] Donald Trump barring travelers from several Muslim-majority countries caused a rare and significant shift in public opinion.

    […]

    According to a study published by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, the [original] order and the wave of protests it unleashed caused a significant change in public opinion. The pollsters found that the reactions helped spur mass opposition to the policy.

    This shift in opinion was caused by “an influx of information portraying the ban as being at odds with egalitarian principles of American identity and religious liberty,” the researchers wrote in their report.

    The researchers interviewed hundreds of people days before Trump signed the ban. Two weeks after the ban was put into effect, the researchers interviewed the same group of people and found about 30 percent more people viewed the ban unfavorably.

    Led by Loren Collingwood, the researchers found that the protests had a huge effect in causing this shift — images of protesters draped in American flags, for example, linked ideas of inclusive immigration policies to concepts of American equality.

    […]

    UC Riverside has a more detailed article, Research Suggests Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Produced Rare Shift in Public Opinion. The study, A Change of Heart? Why Individual-Level Public Opinion Shifted Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban” (abstract &tc), was published in Political Behavior:

    Public opinion research suggests that rapid and significant individual-level fluctuations in opinions toward various policies is fairly unexpected absent methodological artifacts. While this may generally be the case, some political actions can and do face tremendous backlash, potentially impacting public evaluations. Leveraging broadcast and newspaper transcripts as well as a unique two-wave panel study we demonstrate that a non-random, rapid shift in opinions occurred shortly after President [sic] Donald Trump signed executive order 13769 into law, which barred individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. The ban set off a fury of protests across US cities and airports, garnering tremendous media attention and discussion. Drawing insights from literature on priming, we claim that an influx of new information portraying the “Muslim Ban” at odds with inclusive elements of American identity prompted some citizens to shift their attitudes. Our study highlights the potential broad political effects of mass movements and protests as it pertains to policies that impact racialized minority groups, and suggests that preferences can shift quickly in response to changing political circumstances.

  144. says

    TV news for USians:

    Tonight (January 14th) at 9 ET, CNN will show Trophy, a film about trophy hunting.

    Tomorrow (January 15th) at 9 ET, PBS will air I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary about James Baldwin that’s received great reviews:

    In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, to be called Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends — Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. But at the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of his manuscript.

    Now, in his incendiary documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words, spoken by Samuel L. Jackson, and a flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

  145. says

    Rand Paul’s reason that Trump should not be called a racist is disgusting:

    You can’t have an immigration compromise if everybody’s out there calling the president a racist,” [Sen. Rand Paul] added. “They’re actually destroying the setting. And he’s a little bit of it, but both sides now are destroying the setting in which anything meaningful can happen on immigration.

    From Hunter:

    […] The premise that racist sentiments spoken by party leaders in private should not be repeated in public because allowing party leaders to be racist in private is important for legislative comity is word-for-word the argument used by decades of past southern Republicans.

    Presenting the two as equal sins—speaking racist things, and informing the public when racist things have been spoken—using the rhetoric of “both sides” behaving badly is the sort of moral grease fire Republican senators have long loved to simmer in. […]

    Senator Tom Cotton accused Senator Dick Durbin of lying:

    I certainly didn’t hear what Sen. Durbin has said repeatedly. Sen. Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that.

    Cotton did not accuse Lindsey Graham of lying, even though Graham confirmed that the vulgar, racist exchange took place.

  146. says

    Something to think about: Trump is worse than Nixon.

    […] “Comey was a rat,” Trump said, according to the book. “John Dean. John Dean. Do you know what John Dean did to Nixon?”

    Dean said earlier in January that he was pleased to be the target of Trump’s criticism, as it meant Watergate was on the president’s mind.

    “It means that maybe somebody’s reminding him that everything he’s doing may be worse than Watergate, that maybe he’s thinking about it.”

    Link

  147. says

    “It means that maybe somebody’s reminding him that everything he’s doing may be worse than Watergate, that maybe he’s thinking about it.”

    I suspect Roger Stone is behind much of it.

  148. says

    Jeff Flake plans to take another step in his more-or-less tentative road to completely condemning Trump, (I say “tentative” because Flake still votes for a lot of Trump’s agenda).

    Sen. Jeff Flake plans to deliver a speech this week condemning President Trump’s frequent attacks on the press and comparing him to former Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin, NBC News reported Sunday.

    “2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth —more battered and abused than any other time in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government,” Flake will say in his speech, according to excerpts obtained by NBC News. […]

    Link

    In a recent interview with David Letterman, Barack Obama also noted the assault on facts as one of the most dangerous trends in the U.S. Link

  149. says

    Congressional testimony this week:

    Tuesday – Steve Bannon at House Intel Cmte.
    Tuesday – DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was at the “shithole” meeting, at Senate Judiciary (Dick Durbin is on the committee)
    Wednesday – Facebook, Google, and Twitter at Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation to talk about extremist content (Twitter missed a Senate Intel deadline last week for information about Russia but claim to be working on it; FB and Twitter have until Thursday to provide detailed information about Russian interference in British votes, including Brexit, to a select committee there)
    Wednesday or Thursday – Corey Lewandowski at House Intel (he says he hasn’t been contacted by Mueller)

  150. says

    “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List”:

    …The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

    Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones….

  151. says

    More re #237 – “Turkey vows to ‘drown’ US-backed Syrian Kurdish force”:

    Turkey’s president on Monday denounced U.S. plans to form a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led border security force in Syria, vowing to “drown this terror force before it is born,” as Russia and Syria also rejected the idea.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned U.S. troops against coming between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces, which Ankara views as an extension of Turkey’s own Kurdish insurgency.

    Turkey has been threatening to launch a new military operation against the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, in the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northern Syria. The YPG is the backbone of a Syrian force that drove the Islamic State group from much of northern and eastern Syria with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.

    Russia has also warned that the nascent U.S. force threatens to fuel tensions around Afrin.

    “The United States has admitted that it has created a terrorist force along our country’s border. Our duty is to drown this terror force before it is born,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.

    The U.S.-led coalition says the new force, expected to reach 30,000 in the next several years, is a key element of its strategy in Syria to prevent the resurgence of the IS group in Syria.

    “A strong border security force will prohibit (IS) freedom of movement and deny the transportation of illicit materials,” the coalition said in a statement to The Associated Press. “This will enable the Syrian people to establish effective local, representative governance and reclaim their land.” The SDF currently controls nearly 25 percent of Syrian territory in the north and east….

  152. says

    Bill Browder: “BREAKING: Spanish prosecutors open money laundering investigation into €30m of proceeds from crime Sergei Magnitsky exposed. Money was spent by Russians on real estate. Case headed by Jose Grinda, famous prosecutor who brought down Russian mafia in Spain.”

    The article Browder links to in El Mundo says that the investigation responds to a claim made by Browder’s Hermitage Capital Management. Hermitage submitted a similar claim to Spanish prosecutors in 2014, but they determined that there was insufficient evidence to open an investigation. In November, Hermitage provided new information, and the anticorruption prosecutors now believe there’s sufficient evidence to proceed, so that’s interesting.

  153. says

    The guy running against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, Randy Bryce, raised $1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. I guess that more people added their small donations to those of Nerd and my donations.

    […] His team also noted it had gotten contributions from 82,000 individuals with 102,000 contributions averaging $24 to $25. The strong fundraising push by Bryce comes as there has been widespread speculation about Ryan’s political future and how long he’ll remain atop House GOP leadership. […]

  154. says

    Additional details regarding Trump and Stormy Daniels:

    The reported payment came shortly before the presidential election and as the actress, Stephanie Clifford, 38, was discussing sharing her account with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the online magazine Slate, according to interviews, notes and text messages reviewed by The New York Times.

    Jacob Weisberg, editor in chief of the Slate Group, said on Friday that in a series of interviews with Ms. Clifford in August and October 2016, she told him she had an affair with Mr. Trump after meeting him at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament. She told him that Michael D. Cohen, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, had agreed during the presidential campaign to pay her the $130,000 if she kept the relationship secret, Mr. Weisberg said, adding that Ms. Clifford had told him she was tempted to go public because the lawyer was late in making the payment and she feared he might back out of their agreement.

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

    From Steve Benen:

    It was around this time that another woman, former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal, sold the exclusive rights to the story about her alleged affair with Trump to American Media Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer tabloid. Its owner is a Trump ally who never published the claims.

    The Daily Beast, meanwhile, was reportedly informed late Friday that “porn star Jessica Drake is not allowed to discuss President Donald J. Trump on account of a non-disclosure agreement she signed barring her from any such talk.”

    With all of this in mind, even if we ignore questions about Trump’s alleged personal failings, there are some lines of inquiry that probably deserve some follow-up:

    * Just how many women from the adult-entertainment industry have signed non-disclosure agreements about their interactions with Trump?

    * How many of them received compensation?

    * What was the source of the money?

    It’s against the law to silence your porn star sexual partners with campaign funds.

  155. says

    How did I miss this?

    Completely outrageous. @WorldBank admits to @WSJ its economist manipulated methodology of Doing Business to make Chile fall, from 25th to 57th, during @mbachelet’s two terms “probably for political reasons,” thus influencing two elections.

    One of the most amazing aspects:

    .@WorldBank, to their credit [!], promise to rectify failings & apologise for manipulation by economist Augusto Lopez-Claro[s] “in Chile and in any other country.” (!!!)

    Other countries? How are there not major consequences for this political manipulation?

    MoJo – “World Bank Gamed Data to Make Chile’s Socialist Party Look Bad”: “First off, I’m going to guess that Lopez-Claros’s leave from the World Bank will last more than a year. Second, WTF? It’s bad enough that Lopez-Claros used his perch to make his preferred party look good and the opposing party look bad. But it’s hardly conceivable that no one involved in preparing the report noticed what was going on. I guarantee there’s more to this story.”

  156. says

    Samantha Bee is responding to Republicans’ treacly, bad-faith MLK tweets.

    To Ted Cruz: “You accused people peacefully protesting the murder of black men and women of ‘literally suggesting and embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers’.”
    To Paul Ryan: “You are making poor and middle class Americans pay for corporate tax cuts.”
    To Mike Pence: “Three months ago, you walked out of an event in disgust because of a non-violent protest by black athletes.”
    To Steve King: “One month ago you tweeted ‘diversity is not our strength’.”

  157. says

    Follow-up to comment 225.

    Here is the actual text of Trump’s declaration that “DACA is probably dead,” and his pathetic attempt to blame Democrats:

    The Democrats are all talk and no action. They are doing nothing to fix DACA. Great opportunity missed. Too bad! … I don’t believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA. They are all talk and no action. This is the time but, day by day, they are blowing the one great opportunity they have. Too bad!

    DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.

    Rightwing media is backing Trump up by pushing hard on the theory that Democrats could sign on to a DACA compromise, but they won’t. Reason? The rightwing argument is that Democrats are keeping the DACA issue at full boil because they can exploit it for political gain. Projection? Stupidity?

    From Steve Benen:

    […] it was a Democrat who created DACA. We also know it was Democratic leaders who negotiated a deal in September to protect Dreamers. We also know it was Democrats who negotiated another deal with Senate Republicans last week to protect Dreamers.

    If Dems didn’t want to work out an agreement, none of this would’ve happened. Indeed, for all of Trump’s “all talk and no action” rhetoric, it seems the only player in the process who isn’t doing any meaningful work is the president. […]

    There’s no reason anyone should, or even could, take Trump’s posturing seriously. The president was responsible for putting Dreamers’ futures in jeopardy in the first place, which he then followed by walking away from proposed solutions.

    In other words, the president appears to be laying the groundwork for a clumsy scheme in which he creates a problem, rejects solutions to that problem, and then blames everyone else when the problem goes unresolved.

    There is, however, a way to test Trump’s newest argument. Jason Sattler suggested over the weekend that congressional leaders simply bring a clean DACA to the floor for a vote in both chambers. If the president’s right, and Dems simply want to keep the controversy alive for cynical, electoral gain, they’ll vote against it. If the president’s wrong, and Democrats are sincerely trying to help these immigrants, they’ll vote for it.

    What do you say, GOP leaders?

  158. says

    Eric Trump is following in Daddy Trump’s footsteps, while also aiding and abetting the Trump family corruption of charitable organizations.

    A new tax filing shows that Eric Trump’s charity golf tournaments did in fact pay tens of thousands of dollars to Trump properties, despite Eric Trump’s earlier assertions that much of the group’s expenses were written off by his father’s businesses […]

    Eric Trump’s former foundation — from which he resigned as a board member last year, when it also changed its name from the Eric Trump Foundation to Curetivity — donated slightly more than $3 million to charitable causes in 2016, according to its filing.

    […] Eric Trump’s foundation paid his father’s private businesses roughly $145,000 in 2016.

    In June of last year, Forbes reported on a series of conflicts of interest facing Eric Trump’s foundation, including board members who were reliant on the Trump Organization for much or all of their livelihoods, that the foundation re-donated money to other charities who in turn hosted fundraisers at Trump properties, and that the overhead expenses for charity events hosted by the organization spiked well into the hundreds of thousands annually beginning in 2011, reportedly at Donald Trump’s command. […]

    “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Eric Trump incorrectly told Forbes […]

    Also revealed in the new filing: Curetivity’s new board members, who include White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who the Wall Street Journal recently reported paid hush money to an adult film actor a month before the 2016 election over her reported sexual encounter with the elder Trump.

    Link

    Many more details at the link.

  159. says

    Follow-up to comment 247.

    I meant to bold this: the foundation re-donated money to other charities who in turn hosted fundraisers at Trump properties

  160. says

    Senator Dick Durbin said that focusing on the difference between “shithole” and “shithouse” is a “thin reed on which to mount a rescue of the White House.”

  161. says

    In MLK Day news:

    After years living in the U.S. for 30 years, a 39-year-old immigrant in metro Detroit was deported this morning to Mexico. Escorted by ICE agents, he said bye to wife and 2 kids before boarding. He was brought to US from Mexico when he was 10-yrs-old, too old to qualify for DACA:…

    “Stop Separating Families,” read signs from supporters of Jorge as he prepares to board flight for Mexico in a deportation by ICE, part of crackdown by Trump administration:…

    “How do you do this on Martin Luther King Jr. day?” said Erik Shelley, a Detroit activist who was at the airport to support Jorge Garcia. “It’s another example of the tone-deafness of this administration. … If Jorge isn’t safe, no one is safe.”

  162. says

    Donald Trump honors Martin Luther King Jr. with civic work and community service—oh, wait—by golfing.

    What Trump said on Friday:

    I will now sign the proclamation making January 15, 2018 the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday and encourage all Americans to observe this day with acts of civic work and community service in honor of Dr. King’s extraordinary life — and it was extraordinary indeed — and his great legacy.

    From the press pool today:

    President’s motorcade arrived at Trump International Golf Course at 9:07 a.m.

    Photos of the Obama family honoring Martin Luther King Jr Day by serving others are available at the link.

  163. says

    From Mitt Romney:

    The poverty of an aspiring immigrant’s nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race. The sentiment attributed to POTUS is inconsistent w/ America’s history and antithetical to American values. May our memory of Dr. King buoy our hope for unity, greatness, & “charity for all.”

    All well and good, but I still remember Romney using the phrase “self deport” when he ran for president against Barack Obama.

  164. says

    From Senator Jeff Flake:

    I’m saying he borrowed that phrase [“enemy of the people”]. It was popularized by Josef Stalin, used by Mao as well — enemy of the people. It should be noted that Nikita Khrushchev who followed Stalin, forbade its use, saying that was too loaded and that it maligned a whole group or class of people, and it shouldn’t be done.

    I don’t think that we should be using a phrase that’s been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator.

  165. says

    Excerpts from a segment on “AM Joy” hosted by Joy Reid.

    Stephanie Hamill (Trump supporter) said:

    It’s interesting to sit back and watch people are so angry about what that the president didn’t say, and they are more angry than they are at the Clintons for getting rich off the poor Haitians with the Clinton Foundation.

    You can ask Klaus Eberwein, the former Haitian government official that has all the dirt on the Clinton Foundation – oh, wait, you can’t ask him because he mysteriously committed suicide the day he was supposed to testify.

    Joy Reid said:

    Did you get talking points before you came here from the RNC or the White House? … It’s interesting that yesterday Mark Burns, who was the surrogate we had on on the Trump side yesterday, tried to roll out the same Clinton stuff. Did you get talking points before you came here?

    I don’t know you, Stephanie, but let me explain this to you: This is not Fox News and we are not going to play the game of rolling out crazy conspiracy theories in answers to my questions and take us off track. So I am going to put you on pause for a minute, I’m going to put you to the side because they [Joy’s other guests] are more familiar with the way that we do things here.

    Video is available on Wonkette. Scroll down to view 5:42 minute excerpt.

  166. says

    Banning the Quakers won’t stop our struggle for justice in Israel-Palestine: The American Friends Service Committee once saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, now we are being banned from entering Israel due to our support for a nonviolent struggle for equality”: “The AFSC, like the other organizations on Israel’s odious list, knows that peace can only come to this land when the essential injustice that occurred 70 years ago is justly addressed, and the human rights of all are recognized and respected.”

    WaPo has a complete list of banned organizations at the end of this article.

  167. blf says

    Yer bigoted about our bigotry! Christian group rejects gay student — then sues university for discrimination:

    […]
    The case pits a [University of Iowa] policy barring discrimination based on sexual orientation against the religious beliefs of the 10-member [Business Leaders in Christ] group, which sued after the state’s flagship university in Iowa City revoked its campus registration in November.

    The group says its membership is open to everyone, but that its leaders must affirm a statement of faith that rejects homosexuality.

    The university says it respects the right of students, faculty and staff to practice the religion of their choice but does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.

    […]

    A student member of Business Leaders in Christ, Marcus Miller, filed a complaint with the university last February after the group denied his request to serve as its vice-president. Miller’s request was rejected after he disclosed he was gay.

    The group says it denied Miller’s request because he rejected its religious beliefs and would not follow them. Group leaders must affirm a statement of faith that affirms that they embrace, not reject, their God-given sex and support the idea that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

    […]

    Every organization to exist has to be able to select leaders who embrace its mission, said the group’s attorney, Eric Baxter with the nonprofit law firm Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. You would never ask an environmental group to have a climate denier as their leader. It’s the same thing here.

    […]

    [… Miller] has started his own university-recognized, Jesus-centered student organization, Love Works, to advocate for justice on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual issues.

  168. says

    Steve Benen summarized the exhausting antics of Trump and his cohorts since the beginning of 2018.

    Jan. 1: Trump blasts Pakistan in a New Year’s Day tweet, condemning the country’s “lies and deceit,” and suggesting an end to U.S. aid, and blindsiding his own administration’s officials.

    Jan. 2: Trump taunts Kim Jong-un’s “nuclear button” and effectively dares North Korea to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities.

    Jan. 2: Trump suggests imprisoning Huma Abedin and James Comey, pressuring the Justice Department to pursue charges against his perceived domestic enemies.

    Jan. 2: Trump seeks credit for safe commercial air travel.

    Jan. 3: Trump’s lawyers threaten Steve Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, with “imminent” legal action.

    Jan. 3: Asked directly about Trump’s “mental fitness” during a press briefing, the president’s press secretary responds by changing the subject.

    Jan. 4: Trump’s lawyers try to block publication of a book the president doesn’t like.

    Jan. 4: Trump appears in the White House press briefing room, but only through a pre-recorded video in which he talks about how impressed he is with his own tax plan.

    Jan. 6: Trump assures the world that he’s a “very stable genius.”

    Jan. 6: Months after publicly committing to talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump refuses to say whether he’s still prepared to answer Mueller’s questions.

    Jan. 6: After publicly insisting “talking is not the answer” when dealing with North Korea, Trump, asked about direct diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, says, “Sure. I always believe in talking.”

    Jan. 8: Trump says at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, “Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”

    Jan. 8: Trump appears to not know the words to the National Anthem.

    Jan. 9: Trump briefly and accidentally endorses the Democratic position on DACA protections for Dreamers. A House Republican quickly reminds the president of what his position is supposed to be.

    Jan. 10: Trump’s administration gives a special deal to Florida on coastal oil drilling, singling out Gov. Rick Scott (R), Trump’s preferred Senate candidate, for gushing and excessive praise.

    Jan. 10: Trump, displaying an alarming lack of self-awareness, demands changes to American libel laws. “You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false. and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account,” he declares.

    Jan. 10: Trump urges his Republican allies in Congress to “take control” of the investigation into the Russia scandal.

    Jan. 10: Trump points to letters (which don’t exist) from television anchors (who also don’t exist) who told him he hosted “one of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed.”

    Jan. 10: Trump boasts about selling jets that don’t exist to Norway.

    Jan. 11: Confused by a Fox News segment, Trump criticizes a surveillance law his administration strongly supports.

    Jan. 11: Trump accuses FBI officials of “treason.”

    Jan. 11: Trump refuses to say whether he’s spoken to Kim Jong-un or not.

    Jan. 11: Trump insists “there’s a big difference between DACA and Dreamers,” despite the fact that DACA was the policy that created protections for Dreamers.

    Jan. 11: Trump makes racist comments about “shithole countries.”

    Jan. 12: Trump cancels London trip and blames Barack Obama for reasons that don’t make any sense.

    Jan. 12: The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump’s private attorney paid a former porn star shortly before the 2016 election in order to stop her from discussing a sexual encounter with Trump.

    Jan. 14: After putting Dreamers’ future in jeopardy, and rejecting bipartisan compromises, Trump says DACA is “probably dead” – and insists Democrats are to blame.

    Jan. 14: Following decades of provocative racial controversies, Trump tells reporters, “I’m not a racist.” […]

  169. says

    From Rev. Al Sharpton’s op-ed that was published today by NBC News:

    […] On Friday, President Donald Trump stood in the White House and signed a proclamation announcing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear,” Trump said, “that no matter the color of our skin, or the place of our birth we are all created equal by God.”

    But as his most recent comments about Haitian and African immigrants prove, Trump has no idea what it means to treat humans equally “no matter the color or our skin.” He also understands very little about the legacy of the man he claims to be honoring. […]

    A half-century ago King led a movement — a movement that was predicated upon securing voting rights, job opportunities, fair housing, educational opportunities, an end to racial discrimination and ending income inequality. Today, in 2018, we find ourselves at a crossroads: Everything King fought so tirelessly for is under attack once again. […]

    Trump and his administration are undoing the progress that was achieved, not just by Obama, but by the civil rights movement.

    The White House has so far gone after health care, criminal justice reform measures, and environmental regulations while endorsing voter suppression tactics, flirting with nuclear disaster, and passing tax cuts that benefit corporations and the wealthy while indicating that they plan to target the social safety net next. […]

    On top of the policy implications of Trump’s presidency, however, the cultural consequences have been severe. For many Americans — old and young — the notion that the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups would feel emboldened and supported in the year 2017 was unthinkable. But it happened. […]

    King may not have completed everything that he tried to accomplish, but he was still able to change actual laws and policies. […]The protests, boycotts and sacrifice led to tangible results like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. […]

  170. says

    Telling details that elucidate the relationship between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump:

    President Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were alone in the presidential suite on Air Force One, flying east toward Washington in early October, when the president reached for a handful of Starbursts, the fruit-flavored, box-shaped chewy candies.

    But instead of unwrapping all of the treats, the president was careful to pluck out and eat two particular flavors: cherry and strawberry, McCarthy noticed.

    “Just the red and the pink,” McCarthy recalled in an interview. “A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colors and told me, ‘Those are the president’s favorites.’ ”

    Days later, the No. 2 Republican in the House—known for his relentless cultivation of political alliances—bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavors in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump, according to a White House official.

    The quoted text above is an excerpt from a Washington Post article.

  171. says

    Well, I guess we could have seen this coming. Alex Jones thinks that enemies of Trump planned the false alarm of a missile headed toward Hawaii in order to embarrass Trump. Trump has still not made any comment of comfort nor correction of errors made to acknowledge the fear Hawaiians experienced.

    From Alex Jones:

    […] I began to get calls from my CIA sources, my high-level Army intelligence sources, and analysis from my Delta Force sources and just many others that there is no way, no way that this was an accident and that somebody pushed the wrong button because there’s five fail-safes. These are not computerized systems, they get computerized readings, but then humans have to flip off or on five switches to then manually activate the alert.

    […] Then my phone rings from not one, but two, one former State Department source, another CIA, then my phone rings from someone who associated with Delta Force, then I get some more phone calls, and they are like, “Why aren’t you covering this? This is huge. This is gigantic, this is meant to embarrass Trump, this is meant to destabilize things,” and it’s meant to distract from the fact that there were Uranium One indictments that turns out came out yesterday that nobody noticed, it broke today, those are on Infowars.com.

    With people connected to the Clintons, the indictments have happened. And also that there was reportedly, evidence shows, a second shooter in [Las] Vegas in the new FBI search warrants and that indeed, as our hostage rescue team sources at the FBI told us the day after it happened, that what we broke on air from our sources is exactly what’s in those and that he was an arms dealer and it was an arms deal gone bad.

    Link

    Video available at the link.

  172. says

    Trump continues to attack Senator Durbin:

    Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.

  173. says

    It’s beginning to look like Trump’s “shithole countries” or “shithouse countries” comment might bring on a government shutdown. Sheesh.

    President Donald Trump—with the quiet, but strong support of congressional Republican leaders—has rejected the lone bipartisan proposal on the table to address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

    Republicans fully plan to move forward on a short-term funding bill without a DACA deal or resolution.

    Quoted text from CNN.

    […] “With the quiet but strong support of congressional Republican leaders.” That would be House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s following Trump’s racist outburst, after a weekend in which the entire national media (except Fox) was focused on the fact that the president of the United States is a racist.

    They are fully prepared to shut down the government in order to keep people from “shithole” countries out of the country. And they think they can blame it on the Democrats.

    Nope.

    Quoted text from Joan McCarter.

    From Brian Schatz:

    Nobody wins a government shutdown battle but I do know one thing: If it happens it will be because a bipartisan compromise was rejected by Republicans. Anyone who says they want to avoid a shutdown should be asking for a vote on that compromise legislation.

    From reader’s comments:

    I’ll bet that not a single executive agency has prepared shutdown plans or lists of critical employees.

    They probably don’t even know how to shut down the government — from notifying employees to notifying people that use their services and everything else that’s probably involved.
    ——————
    Millions in this country will be affected should it come to this, […] such a juvenile and irresponsible act of retribution towards those that deserve a fair shake in this society as promised […]
    ——————–
    The propaganda machine is very, very powerful.
    —————–
    Let me get this straight:

    CHIP and DACA are a bridge too far for the GOP. The party in charge of all three branches of government has taken the “moral” position that they’d rather see the government shut down than provide healthcare for children or keep our promises to young people for whom America is home. And this directly on the heels of legislating a mammoth giveaway to giant corporations and billionaire donors at the expense of everyone else in the country and lying (or keeping silent) to protect the racist buffoon who carries their banner.

    The last frayed thread holding up the party of “family values” has snapped.

    Does a shutdown include the use of Air Force One and spending tax dollars on golf carts for the Secret Service? Does this mean the *resident will have to forego golfing vacations while thousands of regular people are furloughed?

  174. says

    “U.S. Warned Jared Kushner About Wendi Deng Murdoch”:

    U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government, according to people familiar with the matter.

    U.S. officials have also had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that Ms. Murdoch was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C., one of these people said.

    The project, a planned $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, was deemed a national-security risk because it included a 70-foot-tall white tower that could potentially be used for surveillance, according to people familiar with the intelligence community’s deliberations over the garden. The garden was planned on one of the higher patches of land near downtown Washington, less than 5 miles from both the Capitol and the White House.

    A representative for Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump described Mr. Kushner’s interaction with officials warning him about Ms. Murdoch as a “routine senior staff security briefing.” He added that Mr. Kushner “has complied with all ethics and disclosure recommendations* and has played a helpful role in strengthening the U.S.-China relationship so as to help bring about a better resolution to the many issues the countries have.”

    U.S. officials have been concerned about Chinese government efforts to use people with close ties to the administration and with interests or family in China to try to influence policy. For example, Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican National Committee finance chairman Steve Wynn, whose Macau casinos can’t operate without a license from the Chinese territory, last year delivered a letter to Mr. Trump from the Chinese government about an alleged fugitive Beijing wants the U.S. to return, the Journal has reported, citing people familiar with the matter. A representative for Mr. Wynn has denied the episode[.]**

    Ms. Murdoch has previously surfaced on the radar of counterintelligence professionals, according to a person familiar with the issue.

    After reports that she was romantically involved with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair while still married to Mr. Murdoch, British security officials discussed with U.S. counterparts whether the alleged relationship could be cause for concern, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was reason to be watchful about Ms. Murdoch, but that they hadn’t looked into her in detail, the person said. Mr. Blair and Ms. Murdoch have denied any impropriety in their relationship. Representatives for Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Blair, Ms. Murdoch, the FBI and the U.K. Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the matter….

    * Hahahahahaha.
    ** More reporting on this, please.

  175. says

    WSJ – “Checking In: Report Lists Dozens of Groups That Used Trump Properties”:

    A new report documents 64 politicians, interest groups, corporations and entities affiliated with foreign governments that used Trump-branded properties in the past year.

    The report by Public Citizen, a liberal-funded watchdog group based in Washington, comes about a year after President Donald Trump stepped away from day-to-day management of the Trump Organization. Mr. Trump retained financial interest in the company through a trust and can draw money from it at any time.

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his delegation stayed at the Trump International Hotel during a September 2017 visit to Washington….

    Foreign Agent Registration Act documents show a firm tied to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid $270,000 to the Washington hotel for lodging, catering and parking during a lobbying campaign last year to overturn a law allowing terrorism victims to sue foreign governments….

    The Kuwait Embassy held a National Day celebration party in February at the Washington hotel….

    The Public Citizen report documents 35 political candidates and committees that spent money at Trump properties, culling the information from public campaign-finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission….

    In addition, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign spent more than $630,000 last year on Trump properties, FEC records show. Most of that money was rent for its headquarters space at Trump Tower in New York….

    Public Citizen found 16 trade groups that have spent money at Trump properties….

    Recent financial reports show revenues are down at several Trump golf courses, including in New York and Scotland. In director’s reports, Eric Trump attributed those drops to declining oil prices and renovations at the Scotland golf courses. Nearby oil fields in the North Sea are an economic driver for the area, and Trump Organization officials say locals spent less as prices fell.

    But financial disclosure reports Mr. Trump filed earlier this year show Mar-a-Lago has improved its financial situation compared with a year earlier. In the 16-month period ended April 15, Mr. Trump reported $37.2 million in revenue from Mar-a-Lago, $7.5 million more than he reported earning from the resort in his previous financial disclosure….

    In related news,

    “Trump’s Mar-a Lago cited by state inspectors for poor maintenance”:

    A year after the discovery of foods that could sicken people at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, his Winter White House was just cited by inspectors for poor maintenance.

    Never mind that it costs $200,000 in initiation fees to join the exclusive club, which has two restaurants and a bed-and-breakfast.

    Fresh state records show the B&B needed emergency repairs in order to pass the latest inspection in November.

    Trump’s club…was cited Nov. 8 for two violations deemed high priority: the lack of smoke detectors capable of alerting the hearing impaired through flashing bright lights; and slabs of concrete missing from a staircase, exposing steel rebar that could cause someone to fall.

    “High priority lodging violations are those which could pose a direct or significant threat to the public health, safety, or welfare,” the inspection code reads.

    The club was re-checked Nov. 17, a week before Trump’s return for his Thanksgiving vacation, and this time “met inspection standards,” according to the state inspection report….

  176. says

    “Panama Trump Hotel Votes To Drop Trump Name But Company Isn’t Leaving”:

    An attempt to oust President Donald Trump’s hotel business from managing a luxury hotel in Panama has turned bitter, with accusations of financial misconduct.

    Trump Hotels is contesting its firing, and its staff ran off a team of Marriott executives invited last month to visit the property during a search for a new hotel operator, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    After the owners’ association accused Trump Hotels of mismanagement and financial misconduct in a $15 million arbitration claim, the company owned by the president fired back with a $200 million counterclaim and refused to turn over the property’s financial records. When a team from Marriott International Inc. came to the property at the invitation of the hotel’s majority owner, Trump staff asked them to leave, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss publicly what happened behind the scenes.

    The head of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, also called Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson to complain about the visit, the two people said.

    Since Trump took office, Trump hotels in New York and Toronto have quietly reached deals to separate themselves from Trump’s brand.

    But the Panama dispute is shaping up as a brawl.

    In a letter to fellow owners, the investor leading the hotel owners’ board of directors accused Trump Hotels of “gross mismanagement, breaches of contract, conversion and breaches of fiduciary duties.” Conversion is a legal term for the misuse of someone else’s property for one’s own gain.

    “Our investment has no future so long as the hotel is managed by an incompetent operator whose brand has been tarnished beyond repair,” Orestes Fintiklis, the managing partner of Miami-based Ithaca Capital Partners, wrote in the letter. Trump Hotels, he wrote, “is refusing to maintain its last shreds of dignity and peacefully vacate our property.”

    The effort to remove Trump hotels from managing the hybrid condo-hotel units on the property began last year, after Ithaca Capital Group purchased 202 unsold hotel units from the building’s struggling developer.

    After buying the units in August, Ithaca and the other owners voted in November to fire Trump’s directors, clearing the way for terminating Trump’s contract and the $15 million arbitration claim against Trump Hotels.

    Not all the hotel unit owners were represented at the meeting, but those contacted by The Associated Press support the effort to fire Trump….

    Can’t imagine why the ambassador to Panama felt the need to resign.

  177. says

    Nielsen’s evasiveness isn’t concealing the fact that she’s confirming Trump said what Durbin said he did. Durbin or someone else should push her even harder to answer whether Trump said something substantially similar to that word. That said, I’m glad Durbin is asking about the evil and racist ICE deportations.

  178. says

    Benjy Sarlin: “Again, DHS Secretary is not a partisan job — at all. Nielsen will be expected to relay key information to Americans at critical times, who will now know her as the ‘Oh, white people live in Norway?’ person from TV.”

  179. blf says

    Just a bit of an update on the Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Qatar, Experts doubt Emirati claim Qatar intercepted aircraft: (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces})

    Analysts have expressed scepticism at a claim by the United Arab Emirates that Qatari fighter jets had intercepted Emirati passenger planes.

    On Monday, Emirati state media said two civilian airliners bound for Bahrain were intercepted by Qatar […].

    Qatar strongly rejected the claims, describing them as a “systematic attack” by the UAE to draw attention away from its own violations of Qatari airspace.

    Last week, Doha filed a complaint to the UN Security Council over two alleged instances of Emirati military aircraft entering Qatari airspace.

    Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said that if Monday’s incident had taken place as described, he would expect the airlines involved to come forward, a formal complaint to be made to international bodies and passengers on board the flights to have shared pictures.

    “The international community for aviation expects the UN to be notified with details of the interception, time, coordinates, location and a full run-down of what happened{…} exactly like what Qatar supplied the UN with when the UAE military flew over Doha’s economic area,” Macheras told Al Jazeera.

    “Until then, it seems these accusations are more in retaliation to being the subject of Qatar’s UN complaint rather than a genuine occurrence.”

    […]

    King’s College London academic, Andreas Krieg, said he thought the allegation that Qatar intercepted Emirati airliners was “fake news” and that the country had no incentive to breach International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules.

    “Qatar is in full compliance with IATA regulations,” Krieg told Al Jazeera. “Qatar has built its entire narrative on being a reliable partner in multilateral organisations and institutions.”

    He explained that Doha would gain nothing from breaching the “very rules that Qatar is suing the UAE for”.

    “It would run counter to Qatari government policy to respect international obligations even when dealing with companies or private individuals from the blockading countries.”

    […]

    Indeed, the lack of evidence for Qatar intercepting Emirati civilian flights is overwhelming. For instance, US Central Command reported it had no knowledge of any such incident (Qatar denies intercepting Emirati civilian aircraft):

    Describing the US Command as an “independent” and “credible” source, Ibrahim Fraihat, a political analyst at the Doha Institute, told Al Jazeera that the US military’s comment should be taken seriously.

    The command “is friends of both parties and has not taken sides so far”, he said. “It also has strong military presence in the region and watching the air space nonstop.”

    The latest developments were “dangerous”, Fraihat added, warning that they could escalate tensions in the Gulf.

  180. says

    From SC’s link in comment 280:

    This report includes people who committed terrorist acts overseas, were arrested overseas and brought here to face trial – that’s some definition of immigrant.

    The report also does not include domestic acts of violence like the one in Charlottesville where a white supremacist used his car to ram into a crowd of people, killing one woman and injuring many others.

  181. says

    Honestly, I think Nielsen’s responses to Durbin border on perjury. She obviously remembers what what said by Trump and Graham. And this nonsense about “tough language” and “strong language” is appalling. There is absolutely no cause for Trump to be talking “tough” about countries in Africa or the Americas other than racism.

  182. says

    Extended report on the story covered @ #278 – “‘We’re not going anywhere.’ Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name”:

    …Since the 2016 election, Trump’s company has found itself in an unfamiliar role: not selling the Trump brand, but trying to save it from condo owners and unhappy partners seeking to shed the president’s name. The Trump Organization has fired back — at times with legal threats.

    The root of the disputes is a growing belief among investors in some locales that the Trump brand has turned from an asset to a liability.

    “It’s a bloodbath, basically. It’s a financial bloodbath,” said Jeffrey Rabiea, a New York businessman who owns three hotel rooms in the Trump Panama hotel. Like other owners in the building, he blames the Trump company for mismanagement and attributes the low occupancy rates in part to the president’s polarizing brand. “Nobody wants to go there. If you’ve got a Marriott and a Hyatt and a Trump, you’re not going to Trump.”

    Since Election Day, the Trump name has already been removed from luxury hotels in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Toronto, along with three apartment buildings in New York.

    Behind the scenes, the Trump Organization has also issued warnings to at least three more properties: the Panama hotel and two condo buildings in New York, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and people familiar with the efforts. The president’s company manages the three properties but does not own them….

    Amazing detail:

    Next to go was the “Trump Carousel” in New York’s Central Park.

    The problem there: “It was never named Trump Carousel,” said Crystal Howard of the New York City parks department.

    She said the Trump Organization — which had a contract to operate the attraction, whose name is the Friedsam Memorial Carousel — had simply put up a sign that renamed it “Trump Carousel.” The sign seems to have been up for months, but the city only learned of it in April 2017. Officials ordered the sign taken down that day.

  183. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 277.

    Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, added in reference to the findings, “There is no way to escape the conclusion that these events are being held at the Trump properties as a way to curry favor with the president.”

  184. says

    Ahem. Also, if he was praising the alleged industriousness of Norwegians, it was obviously to make a racist contrast with, say, Nigerians. He was saying he wants these hard-working Europeans and not those lazy Africans. It’s not a defense – it’s just racist through and through, and there’s no way to spin it as anything else.

    (And by the way, I’ve described at great length my objection to the capitalist value of “hard-working” in the abstract, but it should be noted in this context that Trump is a lazy person.)

  185. says

    From the Washington Post article which SC referenced in comment 273:

    Some White House officials, including conservative adviser Stephen Miller, feared that Graham and Durbin would try to trick Trump into signing a bill that was damaging to him and would hurt him with his political base. As word trickled out Thursday morning on Capitol Hill that Durbin and Graham were heading over to the White House, legislative affairs director Marc Short began to make calls to lawmakers and shared many of Miller’s concerns.

    Soon, Goodlatte, one of the more conservative House members on immigration, was headed to the White House. Trump also called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and asked him to come, McCarthy said. Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Cotton were also invited to rush over. […]

    Trump’s ping-ponging from dealmaking to feuding, from elation to fury, has come to define the contentious immigration talks between the White House and Congress, perplexing members of both parties as they navigate the president’s vulgarities, his combativeness and his willingness to suddenly change his position.

    In other words, far rightwing aides and legislators are really worried that any time Trump negotiates directly with Democrats, (or even with a bipartisan delegation), that he will do something reasonable. Trump would probably agree with whomever he talked to last.

  186. says

    “Bannon Is Subpoenaed in Mueller’s Russia Investigation”:

    Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, was subpoenaed last week by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

    The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. The special counsel’s office has used subpoenas before to seek information on Mr. Trump’s associates and their possible ties to Russia or other foreign governments.

    The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington, according to the person, who would not be named discussing the case. But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.

    Mr. Bannon has hired William A. Burck of the Washington office of the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm to represent him in the defamation threats from Mr. Trump and the congressional inquiries. Mr. Burck also represents several current and former administration officials who have been interviewed as witnesses by Mr. Mueller’s investigators. Among them are the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and the former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

  187. says

    Further to #291.

    Now Nielsen is telling Klobuchar that she didn’t hear Trump say “shithouse” either. And in fact she was distressed that others in the meeting were using language that was inappropriate in the Oval Office and in front of the president!

  188. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    One of the most striking things about the last several days after the President’s “shithole” outburst is that two of the Senators in the room have now willingly and repeatedly lied on the President’s behalf to serve his narrow interests. […]

    All but one of the people in the room were Republicans. Dick Durbin, the Democrat, has said very clearly what the President said. Lindsey hasn’t used the word in public but he told fellow South Carolina Senator Tim Scott that he used the word. Most notably the White House itself has conspicuously declined to deny the use of the word. Even Cotton and Perdue, the baddies here, at first could only muster a feeble ‘do not recall’ non-denial denial.

    After things escalated and it became clear that their ‘do not recall’ line wasn’t getting the job done, Cotton and Perdue shifted to the attack and outright denial of the published reports and Durbin and Graham’s claims. In other words, their memories appeared to get crisper and more accurate over time. That’s amazing. My point is not simply that they’re lying for the President. It’s that they’re lying for the President in a case where the fact that they are lying is by any standard all but undeniable. Note this: even as they defend the President, the White House itself won’t deny the claim. Indeed, in off the record comments to reporters the best top White House officials can manage is an almost parodic debate about whether the President said “shithole” or “shithouse”. “Shithole” is definitely tri-state area vernacular. Not “shithouse”. But holy shit, this is a stupid non-point. […]

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/lies-bad-lies-and-trump-lies

  189. says

    Excerpts from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen:

    [Sen. Patrick Leahy said], “You were in the room, you’re under oath. Did President Trump use this word or a substantially similar word to describe certain countries?”

    “I did not hear that word used, no sir,” Nielsen said.

    “That is not the question. Did he use anything similar to that describing certain countries?” Leahy asked. […]

    Nielsen responded: “The conversation was very impassioned. I don’t dispute that the President was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language. The concept, and the context, I believe, in which this came up was the concept that the President would like to move to a merit-based system. He would like to not— no longer look at quotas —”

    Leahy interrupted her: “Did he use what would be considered vulgar language referring to certain countries?”

    “The President used tough language in general, as did congressmen in the room, yes sir,” she said.

    Later, Durbin pressed her on that point: “Did you hear Sen. Graham use profanity?” he asked, referring to the Republican from South Carolina who, according to Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), said the Post’s reporting was “basically accurate” and said publicly Friday that he’d already “said my piece” to the President.

    Nielsen replied: “I did hear tough language from Sen. Graham, yes sir.”

    “What did he say?” Durbin asked.

    “He used tough language,” she said. “He was impassioned. I think he was feeling very strongly about the issue, as was everyone in the room, and to underscore the point, I think he was using some strong language.”

    “Do you recall that the strong language he used repeated exactly what the president had said prior to that?” Durbin asked, implying that that was the case.

    “I remember specific cuss words being used by a variety of members,” Nielsen dodged again. […]

    Earlier, Durbin had asked about Norway: “Do you remember the president saying expressly ‘I want more Europeans, why can’t we have more immigrants from Norway?’” he asked.

    “I do remember him asking about the concept of underrepresented countries, as a fix,” she replied. “This is in the conversation about removing the diversity lottery and how we could reallocate that. And I do remember him asking, if we do that and we then assign those to countries that are unrepresented, aren’t we just continuing non-merit-based immigration? From that perspective, I think he did ask, ‘Would that cover European countries or by its nature would that mean that we are further establishing immigration to purposefully exclude Europeans?’”

    “What did the president say about immigrants from Norway?” Durbin pressed. […]

    “I heard him repeating what he learned in a meeting before, that they are industrious, that they are a hard-working country,” Nielsen replied. “They don’t have much crime there, they don’t have much debt. I think in general, I heard him giving compliments to Norway.”

    Leahy had asked about Norway, as well. “Being from Norway is not a skill,” he noted, referring to the White House’s professed preference for high-skilled immigrants. “What does he mean when he says he wants more immigrants from Norway?”

    Nielsen said she did not believe Trump used that exact phrase “specifically,” but that “he was using Norway as an example of a country that is — what he was specifically referring to was the prime minister telling him that the people of Norway work very hard. And so what he was referencing is, from a merit-based perspective, we would like to have those with skills who can assimilate and contribute to the United States, moving away from country quotas and to an individual merit-based system.” […]

    Link

    And that is how you lie to a Congressional committee … all in the service of protecting Hair Furor.

  190. says

    More evidence of Trump’s racism, as seen in the “shithole” meeting:

    In the same meeting during which President Donald Trump referred to African countries as “shithole countries,” he also told congressional lawmakers that he did not care about any demands from the Congressional Black Caucus, the Washington Post reported Monday evening.

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was at the Thursday meeting to promote a bipartisan plan to restore the protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, told the President at one point that the Congressional Black Caucus would be more likely to back a deal that gave immigrants from certain countries protected status, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the meeting. Trump told Durbin he was not interested in catering to the CBC, per the Post. […]

  191. says

    It’s interesting that no one seems to be talking about white supremacist movements/organizations as having international ties – e.g., their connections to the Kremlin and to groups in Russian and Western and Central Europe.

  192. says

    Sources say Bannon told by WH not to answer questions before House Intel Cmte about the White House and the transition. Did not assert executive privilege. Committee subpoenas him during the meeting to comply while in the hearing.”

  193. says

    It looks like another move by Jeff Sessions that is calculated to get him back into Trump’s good graces:

    The Jefferson Sessions Justice Department has agreed to hand over files on FBI operations to congressional Republicans. The decision, which comes in response to constant Republican claims that the FBI is prejudiced against Donald Trump, thrills Republicans. It gives them unfettered access to information they can use to paint the agency in any way they want, along with the opportunity to interfere with the Trump–Russia investigation directly. As Bloomberg reports:

    The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say.

    It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics […]

    It’s not unusual for people to claim that the FBI is secretive, overzealous, and just plain wrong. And considering the agency’s history, it would be impossible to claim that there was any period in which it was either genuinely nonpartisan or apolitical. But handing over the files on an FBI investigation in the middle of that investigation risks the whole concept of the organization, and questions whether the nation can have any “outside” agency if that agency can be gutted on demand.

    As the Russia investigation continues to hang over the White House, Republicans in Congress have sought to turn the tables on the FBI by calling into question the fairness and methods of senior agents. They’ve been requesting documents and holding public hearings that focus on alleged wrongdoing or political bias by agents.

    If the destruction of the FBI is the cost of protecting Trump … Republicans are willing to pay that cost. […]

    Link

  194. says

    DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was not aware that thousands of Dreamers have already lost DACA status.

    […] “No one has lost their status,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, incorrectly. “No one will lose their status until March 5 or later.”

    Contrary to frequent and incorrect reporting that DACA will end on March 5, young people whose work authorizations expired before then actually began losing DACA status on Oct. 5 of last year, the Trump administration’s new deadline to reapply to renew one’s authorization. Many more DACA recipients were ineligible to renew their DACA applications in the first place, because their work permits expired after March 5.

    A federal judge halted the end of DACA on Jan. 9, but the move left thousands of DACA recipients in limbo.

    The government did very little to notify DACA recipients of the Oct. 5 deadline, as Vox reported, and even some DACA recipients who thought they’d applied for renewal in time found that their applications had been delayed in the mail, according to the New York Times.

    Estimates vary as to how many DACA recipients have so far been left out in the cold: The Hill reported on Jan. 10 that 15,000 people had lost their status since Sept. 5, citing unnamed immigration activists. Sen. Dianne Feinstein used the same number last week. According to the Center for American Progress’ running estimate, 16,166 have lost DACA status between Sept. 5 and Tuesday.

    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) explained the situation to Nielsen, who had earlier claimed incorrectly that only DACA recipients who had been convicted of crimes had lost their status.

    “DACA participants had to renew their status and only those whose status expired at a certain time frame were allowed to renew after the ending of DACA was announced,” she said. “So there were thousands of participants in DACA who were already on renewal status, and so they couldn’t apply for renewal. These are the young people who have lost DACA status, 15,000 of them. Take my word for it.”

    “Are you creating an expedited procedure for them to have their DACA status restored?” she asked.

    “I will get back to you on that, ma’am,” Secretary Nielsen said. “I am not familiar with 15,000 who have lost their status. As I understand it, the program ends March 5.” […]

    Link

  195. says

    Follow-up to comments 280 and 287.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Simon Maloy, for example, took note of the Trump administration’s methodology. From the second full page of the newly released report: “This information includes both individuals who committed offenses while located in the United States and those who committed offenses while located abroad, including defendants who were transported to the United States for prosecution. It does not include individuals convicted of offenses relating to domestic terrorism, nor does it include information related to terrorism-related convictions in state courts.”

    Oh. So the point of the report appears to be bolster Trump World’s argument that those concerned about terrorism on American soil should necessarily be concerned with immigrants and foreigners. After all, as the document put it, approximately 73 percent of those convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts “were foreign-born.”

    But that includes convicted terrorists who weren’t in the United States until we brought them here for trial and it excludes instances of domestic terrorism – which, as we know, is often at least as dangerous to the American public as international terrorism.

    And yet, there was Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying this morning, “This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality – our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety.”

    It’s a nice trick: as part of an anti-immigration push, the Trump administration is counting people who weren’t even on American soil. It’s almost as if Trump World were trying to scare people by massaging the data to arrive at a politically convenient result.

  196. says

    Paul Waldman in WaPo: “The Trump presidency: On track to becoming the most corrupt in U.S. history?”

    Speaking of this culture, it occurred to me when reading this article that essentially the same piece could have been (and was) written a decade ago, a decade before that, and a decade before that with a different set of young douchebags, with the only change being that capitalism is becoming increasingly unleashed from reality, irrational, and destructive. The stock market is also incredibly worrisome.

    Ed Yardeni, president of investment advisory Yardeni Research, told clients in a report on Tuesday that he believes the market is in a “melt-up.” That’s a rapid price increase based on emotion — fear of missing out on gains — rather than on old-fashioned fundamentals.

    “I’m not a big fan of melt-ups,” Yardeni wrote. “They tend to be followed by meltdowns.”

    Michael Block, chief market strategist at Rhino Trading Partners, said the “fear of missing out is resonating,” if not “screaming.”

    “I just question whether this is too far too fast,” Block wrote in a note on Tuesday.

    You think?

  197. says

    From Matt Yglesias:

    […] Trump has made it clear that he possesses no hidden depths and is exactly as lazy, ignorant, and unprepared to be president as he appeared to be on the 2016 campaign trail.

    He’s also amassed a level of support from Republican officials that he never had as a candidate, turning once-fierce opponents into strong supporters and utterly quieting the significant doubts that GOP leaders in Congress once held about him.

    […] Trump performs symbolic politics that meets the emotional and representational needs of the Republican base, and his laziness and ignorance have removed what GOP leaders most feared about candidate Trump — the possibility that he would govern in an ideologically heterodox or moderate manner. […]

    Donald Trump is not really running the Trump administration. It’s been apparent for months but has been driven home recently amid a flood of stories confirming it. […]

    Trump spending hours a day on “executive time” and not understanding the issues at hand is actually preferable to them than if he did the work. […]

    Cohn [White House economic adviser Gary Cohn] himself was brought in to babysit the president during his Thursday interview with several Wall Street Journal reporters, during which Trump duly repeated the dubious notion that a relatively small quantity of tax incentives could lead to trillions in new infrastructure spending.

    Months earlier, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney openly bragged to Politico that he tricked Trump into violating his campaign promise not to cut Social Security.

    He persuaded Trump that the Social Security Disability Insurance program is not really part of Social Security. […] Rather, Trump was made to believe the program belongs to some amorphous category known as “welfare.”

    Even earlier in his tenure in office, Trump was somehow persuaded to embrace Medicaid cuts he’d campaigned against. Campaign-era promises to reinstate Glass-Steagall financial regulations, protect clean air, cover everyone in Obamacare reform, and close the carried interest tax loophole have all been long forgotten.

    […] It’s Trump’s sloth and ignorance that makes this possible. […]

  198. says

    Lynna @ #314: “DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was not aware that thousands of Dreamers have already lost DACA status….”

    She also told Kamala Harris that she was unaware that the DHS website told people they couldn’t renew. And said she didn’t know what they were planning to do wrt the Ninth Circuit DACA decision. About an hour later they filed an appeal.

  199. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    re: SC @315:

    Faux Newz has now achieved a Triple Axel Triple Loop pivot. Are they trying for the Fake Newz Olympics?

  200. says

    The Pope is visiting a women’s prison in Chile. The chaplain, Nelly León, tells him “Lamentablemente, en Chile se encarcela a la pobreza” (“In Chile, we imprison poverty,” or more loosely/less poetically “We imprison the poor”/”We respond to poverty with prison”), to applause and tears from the 400 prisoners in the audience.

    “Estas mujeres representan a los casi 50 mil hombres y mujeres pobres y vulnerables privados de libertad, y digo pobres porque lamentablemente en Chile se encarcela la pobreza.” (“These women represent the almost 50,000 poor and vulnerable men and women deprived of freedom, and I say poor because regrettably in Chile we imprison poverty.”)

  201. says

    More USian TV news:

    Ed Yong – Blue Planet II Is the Greatest Nature Series Of All Time”:

    …It is almost transcendentally good—the product of a team that, after six decades of experience, is now at the height of its powers. The Blue Planet II crew traveled to 39 countries to capture over 6,000 hours of footage. They stuck their cameras into coral crevices. They hung off speedboats to film dolphins rocketing behind them. They literally stared into the abyss—and then repeatedly entered it. The resulting episodes, each narrated by David Attenborough in his trademark velvety tones, are hour-long distillations of wonder, featuring sequences that would be breathtaking had earlier shots left you with any breath to take away….

    It starts this Saturday (January 20th) on BBC America.

  202. says

    BREAKING: Steve Bannon stonewall’s House Intelligence committee, citing ‘Executive Privileged’ over and over again, despite committee issuing subpoena on the spot trying to compel him to testify, despite @WhiteHouse repeatedly saying it’s being ‘Transparent’.”

    Is he out?

  203. says

    So prior to the election, Stormy Daniels was in talks with and had told her story to ABC, the Daily Beast, Slate, and…Fox.

    [Fox reporter] Falzone had an on-the-record statement from Clifford’s manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, confirming that her client had engaged in a sexual relationship with Trump, three of these people said, and Falzone had even seen emails about a settlement.

    But the story never saw the light of the day, to the frustration of Falzone, two of the people said.

    “She had the story and Fox killed it,” one of the people familiar with the matter told CNN.

  204. says

    What?! Is this true? $80?

    Trump and Zinke doubling National Park fees to an insane $80 per vehicle is one of the most underreported outrages of the Administration. That price is essentially unaffordable to most families in this country. Then they took those jacked up fees & gave the money to billionaires.

  205. says

    Follow-up to #276 – Of the four special elections last night, Republicans held three seats in heavily Republican districts but lost one important one in rural Wisconsin, SD10, where Patty Schachtner defeated Adam Jarchow in a district Trump had won by 17 points. This loss has Republicans freaking out. Dave Wiegel:

    …On average, even in races that went against them, Democrats have improved on their margins from the 2016 rout. In other Tuesday elections, Democrat Dennis Degenhardt won 43 percent of the vote in Wisconsin’s 58th Assembly District; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 28 percent of the vote there, and no Democrat contested the seat. In Iowa’s 6th House District, Democrat Rita DeJong won 44 percent of the vote; in 2016, the party’s nominee won just 35 percent. In South Carolina’s 99th House District, Democrat Cindy Boatwright lost with 43 percent of the vote; the party had not run a candidate for the seat in this decade.

    * [I think Wiegel’s numbers are a bit off.]

    #s per Taniel:

    4 elections in deeply Trump districts tonight. All saw huge swing toward Dems compared to 2016 pres results. Using @dkelections district #s:

    SC #HD99: +15% net swing toward Dems
    IA #HD06: +18%
    WI #SD10: +24% or +27%
    WI #AD58: +25%

    He remarks: “Dems picked-up one of the 4 (WI’s #SD10), so GOP kept 3 of these 4 districts. But that speaks to just how Republican they were; obviously GOP can’t afford anything close to this magnitude of change in Nov.”

    * The WaPo piece also notes: “Mostly under the radar, the special election had become a proxy war and Republicans significantly outspent the Democrats: Americans for Prosperity, backed by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, poured $50,000 into the race. Two other GOP-aligned groups funded by the business community contributed another $80,000.”

  206. says

    “Investigators Are Scrutinizing Newly Uncovered Payments By The Russian Embassy”:

    Officials investigating the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election are scrutinizing newly uncovered financial transactions between the Russian government and people or businesses inside the United States.

    Records exclusively reviewed by BuzzFeed News also show years of Russian financial activity within the US that bankers and federal law enforcement officials deemed suspicious, raising concerns about how the Kremlin’s diplomats operated here long before the 2016 election.

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, charged with investigating Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, is examining these transactions and others by Russian diplomatic personnel, according to a US official with knowledge of the inquiry….

    This part about the Senate Intel investigation is interesting:

    The committee also asked for financial information, if the Treasury has any, on Ivan Tavrin, a Putin ally who is the chief executive at telecom giant MegaFon and has a stake in the Russian social media site VKontakte. And the senators sought any records the Treasury might have on Bob Foresman, who once ran the Russia desk at Barclays bank and was in charge of Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-based investment firm. No suspicious activity reports on Tavrin or Foresman have been located, according to two law enforcement officials.

    The senators also requested any records on Alisher Usmanov, one of the richest men in Russia and a close ally of President Putin. He has majority control of the Russian social media site VKontakte and was an investor in Facebook.

    It is not known why the committee is seeking records on these individuals, and they did not return messages asking for comment.

    So does the fact that they don’t say that no suspicious activity reports have been found for Usmanov mean that they have been found?

  207. says

    Alice Ollstein summarized the difficulties facing Congress as a shutdown looms (midnight on Friday).

    Friday marks the one-year anniversary of […] Trump taking the oath of office, and unless lawmakers can eke out a deal in the coming days, it could also mark the first government shutdown under his watch, and under unified one-party control in Washington.

    Trump declared back in May that the country “needs a good shutdown” to “fix mess,” […]

    Between now and Friday, Congress and the White House will scramble to cut a deal on DACA, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and a continuing resolution to keep the government open. […]

    Over the past few weeks, high hopes for crafting a long-term budget deal have evaporated, and lawmakers are instead attempting to cobble together the votes for yet another short-term package to keep the lights on—the fourth continuing resolution in four months. The bill put forward by the House would fund the government until Feb. 16.

    “We should have had a budget by October of last year. This is outrageous,” fumed Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) to reporters Tuesday night.

    Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) echoed his frustration minutes later, complaining that the Pentagon can’t function on week-by-week or month-by-month budget uncertainty.

    “I am tired of making the men and women in the military suffer because of stupid politicians,” he said. “Those who designed sequestration, I think, have blood on their hands.” […]

    A week ago, Congress and the White House appeared on the verge of embracing a bipartisan immigration deal that would have thrown as much as $1.6 billion at increasing border security, restricted multiple forms of legal immigration, and protected the 700,000 young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Trump terminated last year.

    […] the House proposal released Tuesday night offers nothing for the people who could lose their DACA protections in March or sooner.

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)—the only Democrat present in last week’s infamous “shithole” meeting at the White House—revealed in a tense Senate hearing Tuesday that the White House repeatedly moved the goalposts on the terms for an immigration deal, at one point demanding a full $20 billion in border wall funding—a tenfold increase of the amount he originally requested—in exchange for protecting DACA recipients from deportation. […]

    That last bit (above) was new to me.

    […] Even following a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that renewing CHIP’s funding for 10 years would actually save the government billions of dollars, Republicans have yet to embrace a long-term deal for the program. Instead, they have put forward a new proposal likely to face some Democratic opposition: renewing CHIP for six years while delaying Obamacare’s medical device tax, health insurance tax, and “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health plans. […]

    Possible outcomes
    Republicans control every branch of government, but they need Democratic votes to pass a funding bill to avert a government shutdown. That gives us several ways the next few days could play out.

    The government shuts down and the finger-pointing ensues.

    Trump reverse-reverses, accepts a DACA deal, and pressures conservative Republicans to accept it as well.

    Dems cave on DACA, Republicans cave on spending caps, a short-term deal that solves none of the ongoing problems narrowly passes.

  208. says

    Allan Lichtman, who predicted a Trump electoral win, was on “Morning Joe” today talking about his prediction of impeachment beginning this spring. He makes such an important point, the ignoring of which has been causing me irritation. Mueller isn’t just going to reach conclusions – he’s going to have evidence. We’ve seen a small fraction of the evidence Mueller has (or had several weeks or months ago, since we’re working on a delay), and that alone is damning.

  209. says

    Stormy Daniels did a whole descriptive interview about having sex with Trump (“When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, ‘Come here.’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go.’…”) for In Touch magazine in 2011.

    In the new issue of In Touch, on newsstands today, Stormy (given name: Stephanie Clifford) confirms in her own words that she had sex with Donald Trump in his Lake Tahoe, NV, hotel suite in 2006 — a story that was corroborated to In Touch in 2011 by her good friend Randy Spears and supported by her ex-husband Mike Moz. Stormy also took and passed a polygraph test at the time of the interview.

  210. says

    From Josh Marshall, “Was Keith Schiller Trump’s Tryst-Meister?”:

    […] Daniels said that her rendezvouses with Trump were arranged by Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller. […]

    This is the same Keith Schiller who testified on Capitol Hill back in November that at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow an unnamed Russian offered to “send five women” to Trump’s hotel room. This got a lot of attention since it seemed to line up with perhaps the most notorious claim in the Steele dossier: that a number of Russian prostitutes were sent to Trump’s room during this pageant and that there was compromising evidence of the event.

    But Schiller testified that he told the man, “We don’t do that type of stuff.” […]

    Now, it’s very fair to say that arranging trysts for your married boss and his girlfriend is significantly different than helping arrange for a meet-up for your boss and a group of prostitutes in a foreign city. […] I wouldn’t go that far. Another adult film actress, Alana Evans, said Stormy propositioned her for a threesome with Trump on Trump’s behalf.

    If Daniels’ account is true it sounds like arranging for Trump’s extramarital sex life and keeping it under wraps was one of Schiller’s jobs. That’s not terribly surprising, given who we’re talking about. It also makes his “oh we don’t do that sort of thing” response ring a bit hollow. […]

    […] let’s make a note of this as a pattern of behavior and personnel that may become relevant later.

  211. says

    “Trump’s Enablers Destroy Their Reputations For Nothing”:

    …The ongoing “shithole countries” fiasco underscores something that should have been clear to all thinking Republicans a long time ago: Debasing yourself for the opportunity to bend Trump’s ear is an extremely stupid idea that will leave you debased without the upside of lasting presidential attention or loyalty. By the same token, the Republican congressional leaders who have given Trump free rein to engage in unprecedented corruption, in tacit exchange for control over the policymaking process, have assumed all the downside of complicity in Trump’s crimes without securing the means of assuring Trump won’t foul up policy anyhow. They have all committed reputational suicide-by-Trump, in exchange for practically nothing. As a result, Graham stands to be outflanked by people who are willing to be more shameless than he is, and who will in turn trap their weak leaders into shutting down their own government by the end of the week.

    The Lindsey Graham Theory of Groveling suffers from two obvious weaknesses that, when combined, fatally undermine it. First, Graham isn’t the only powerful person who seeks to curry favor with Trump by sucking up to him and abetting his misconduct. Second—in both the retelling of those around him, and in a recent, televised meeting with lawmakers at the White House—Trump has proven to be wildly manipulable, careening between incompatible positions whenever he engages new stakeholders. Trump is regularly driven to undermine his administration by Fox News hosts, who know Trump mindlessly live tweets their shows, and thus tailor their programming to influence administration policy and messaging.

    Graham has thus humiliated himself for the most fleeting of rewards: convincing Trump of things that a person with less heterodox views can unconvince him of just as quickly….

  212. says

    “InTouch to Drop 5,000 Words From Stormy Daniels on Sex With Trump”:

    On Wednesday, InTouch magazine ran excerpts from an interview with adult film Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford) wherein she detailed having a 2006 affair with then-future-president Donald Trump.

    The piece was the first confirmation from Daniels about the affair, which had been much rumored prior to the 2016 election and drew renewed attention this past week after the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s personal lawyer paid the adult star $130,000 to keep quiet.

    But Wednesday’s story is just the beginning of the saga, not the conclusion of it. According to a source familiar with the matter, later this week, InTouch is planning to run the entire unedited [2011] interview it conducted with Daniels. All 5,500 words of it.

    A source tells The Daily Beast that the full, unedited interview that will run later this week is 5,500 words of “cray.” Daniels didn’t leave much out in describing the affair, which involved a few more encounters in the months following their first tryst in Tahoe.

    According to the source, the transcript contains details of “[w]hat he’s like in bed, pillow talk, she talks about what he’s like down there…”

    *shudder*

  213. says

    More from the AP on #346.

    Lawmakers were expecting a similar fight Wednesday with Trump’s White House as another senior aide, Rick Dearborn, appears for a private interview with committee.

    The developments brought to the forefront questions about White House efforts to control what current and former aides tell Congress about their time in Trump’s inner circle, and whether Republicans on Capitol Hill would force the issue.

  214. says

    “Sessions: ‘A Good Nation’ Doesn’t Admit ‘Illiterate’ Immigrants”:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions preached the administration’s message on merit-based immigration on Fox News Tuesday night, claiming “a good nation” doesn’t admit “illiterate” immigrants.

    “What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it,” Sessions said, speaking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

    Sessions criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for reportedly reciting during a meeting Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s historically affiliated with American immigration and the Statue of Liberty.

    “Not really a case you would expect a Republican to be making,” Carlson said, referencing Graham’s use of the poem. “Why aren’t there more articulate Republican members of Congress making the case that you just made?”…

  215. says

    “Gay couple ordered wedding programs from printing company, received homophobic pamphlets instead”:

    An Australian gay couple marrying in rural Pennsylvania to be close to their family ordered 100 copies of a wedding program from VistaPrint, but instead received about 80 copies of a Christian propaganda pamphlet. On Tuesday, they filed a federal lawsuit against the company in its home state of Massachusetts.

    Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg opened the package they expected to contain their wedding programs on the eve of their wedding back in September. They had requested a blue and gold design that included the events of the day, the names of their wedding party members, and the lyrics to “Treasure” by Above and Beyond, because they’d gotten engaged the day they saw the group in concert.

    Instead, they found a pamphlet entitled, “Understanding Temptation: Fight the good fight of the faith.”…

    Vistaprint is still conducting an internal investigation, but decried the incident in a statement. “Vistaprint would never discriminate against customers for their sexual orientation,” the company said. “We pride ourselves on being a company that celebrates diversity and enables customers all over the world to customize products for their special events. We have just been made aware of this incident in the last few hours. We understand how upsetting it would be for anyone to receive materials such as these the night before their wedding and we have immediately launched an internal investigation. Until we have had the opportunity to complete our investigation, we cannot comment further.”…

  216. says

    “Trump to shield health care workers who claim moral objections”:

    The Trump administration is poised to overhaul the HHS civil rights office as part of a broader plan to protect health workers who don’t want to perform abortions, treat transgender patients seeking to transition or provide other services for which they have religious or moral objections.

    Under a proposed rule — which has been closely guarded at HHS and is now under review by the White House — the civil rights office would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don’t allow them to express their religious and moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill. That would be a significant shift for the office, which currently focuses on enforcing federal civil rights and health care privacy laws.

    Patient groups and legal organizations vowed to challenge HHS if providers are allowed to deny care based on criteria like a patient’s gender or gender expression. “Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court,” Louise Melling, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

    The new rules — a priority for anti-abortion groups and supporters — could come just days before Friday’s March for Life, the annual gathering in Washington marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Republicans have typically timed votes on anti-abortion legislation to the event, the nation’s largest anti-abortion rally….

  217. says

    I just wanted to emphasize this: Trump called Michael Wolff. That’s how Wolff’s access to the White House began. Trump called him.

    Wolff’s entree began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president.

  218. says

    Citibank handles Russian embassy accounts in the USA. Banks are required to flag unusually large transactions, or transactions that don’t fit previously established account activity. That’s how BuzzFeed found out about suspicious payments made to Sergey Kislyak:

    […] the former Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, received $120,000 ten days after the election of Donald Trump. Bankers flagged it to the US government as suspicious in part because the transaction, marked payroll, didn’t fit prior pay patterns.

    Five days after Trump’s inauguration, someone attempted to withdraw $150,000 cash from the embassy’s account — but the embassy’s bank blocked it. […]

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/newly-uncovered-russian-payments-are-a-focus-of-election

    It seems likely that Mueller has the documents.

  219. says

    Follow-up to comment 340.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has urged all Democrats to vote against a short-term government funding measure that doesn’t include immigration and other Dem demands. “No Democrats are going to vote for it,” says Dem Rep John Yarmuth

  220. says

    Follow-up, (sort of), to SC’s comment 351.

    Trump is aligning himself with anti-abortion activists.

    […] Trump will speak at Friday’s March for Life, becoming the first sitting president to address the annual anti-abortion gathering by satellite in its 45-year history.

    The announcement, made on Wednesday by the White House, caps a stunning evolution for Trump, who once declared himself “pro-choice in every respect.” A year into his first term as president, anti-abortion groups are praising his record as one of the most supportive of their cause in recent memory. […]

    In his first week in office, Trump reinstated and expanded the “Mexico City” policy, a Reagan-era rule that prohibits nonprofit aid groups that receive government funding from performing abortions or promoting abortion as a method of family planning. […]

    Link

  221. says

    Useful thread: “Conservative media did not build an ecosystem to rival the perceived (and, sometimes, fairly described) ‘liberal’ news media.

    It built an army to overthrow trust in news reporting and replace it with a propaganda network that protects GOP ideology and individuals.”

  222. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] in private conversations, Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said. […]

  223. says

    SC @358, yes it is good news.

    Meanwhile, Trump is still certain that Democrats will be blamed if there is a government shutdown.

    Education from Steve Benen:

    […] After Trump created an immigration mess by taking steps to end DACA, Dreamers are facing deadlines that require swift action by Congress. With that in mind, congressional Democrats expect DACA protections to be part of the bill that prevents a shutdown.

    Indeed, Dems are so committed to that goal that they struck a bipartisan deal with Senate Republicans that gives the White House much of what it wants — to my mind, perhaps too much — in order to clean up the DACA mess that Trump created.

    Nevertheless, the president who said he’d back any bipartisan agreement, no matter what’s in it, has been persuaded by the far-right to reject the deal, making a shutdown more likely. […]

    The president will almost certainly have no explanation as to why a world-class deal-maker like him couldn’t negotiate a compromise. […]

    Link

  224. says

    Crooked Media is encouraging people to call their Senators and push them not to support any spending bill that doesn’t fund CHIP, protect Dreamers, and pay for disaster relief. Information and whip count here.

  225. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #356: “Trump will speak at Friday’s March for Life, becoming the first sitting president to address the annual anti-abortion gathering by satellite in its 45-year history.”

    So he’ll be addressing this event the same day a magazine publishes an account by an adult film star, to whom he paid hush money just before the election, of her sexual relations with him a few months after his son’s birth.

  226. says

    LOL.

    In corruption news,

    “New Secret Service Costs for Trump at Mar-a-Lago Revealed”:

    …The Secret Service spent $26,457.28 to rent lights, generators, tables and tents from companies near President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, signing contracts that all ended early in the new year.

    Trump…has been criticized for the amount of time he has spent as president at properties owned by his family business or that carry his name.

    By the end of 2017, Trump had spent more than 100 days at such venues, including, according to a CNN tally, at least 39 at Mar-a-Lago. The president has hosted world leaders including Xi Jinping of China and Shinzo Abe of Japan at the oceanfront estate, which lacks the protective infrastructure of the White House or Camp David.

    Trump’s 2017 travel costs topped $6 million for Mar-a-Lago alone, according to a Wall Street Journal tally. That included just airfare, not the cost of protection from the Secret Service, which received congressional approval to raise its cap on overtime and salaries after the first family’s travel schedule drained the agency’s budget early.

    While Trump has officially handed off management of his business interests to sons Donald Jr. and Eric, watchdogs say he and his family are inarguably enriched by the publicity associated with his use of their properties for government work….

  227. says

    From the Crooked page:

    Here’s the deal: Congress needs to pass the annual budget for every single program that is run by the government—from defense to education to disaster relief. Passing this budget requires a majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate. Since Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats have powerful leverage to ensure that any budget deal includes health insurance for kids, aid for Puerto Rico, and legislation that will protect young immigrants from deportation.

    Here’s where you come in. Some Democrats have already pledged to only vote for a spending deal if it supports children, young immigrants, and disaster relief.

    But some Democrats are still on the fence because they’re afraid the floor is lava. So tell them to climb down off the fence and join us on the solid earth. Millions of us are engaged and fighting like hell, and we need to know that Democrats in Congress are with us in that fight, no excuses, no blah blah blah press releases.

  228. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just saw SC’s last two posts on the front page side bar for recent posts for the first time in ages. Hopefully, the bug has been fixed.

  229. militantagnostic says

    SC @366

    I heard the Neurologist who created the test interviewed on As It Happens. He said the test is for early Alzheimer’s and says nothing about fitness for being POTUS. The neurologist is a Lebanese immigrant to Canada. He said his name is in too small print for Trump to notice it on the test.

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