Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

    “Rand Paul blocks Senate from approving 9/11 victim compensation fund”:

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tried to win the Senate’s consent to approve the House-passed bill, which would reauthorize funding until fiscal year 2090. The bill cleared the House in a 402-12 vote last week.

    But Paul objected, pointing to the country’s growing debt and arguing that any new spending should be offset by cuts to other spending.

    “It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country,” he said. “And therefore any new spending … should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to at the very least have this debate.”

    He added that if the House bill was brought up for a vote in the Senate he is planning to offer an amendment “but until then I will object.”

    Under Senate rules any one senator can try to get consent, which requires the sign off of the entire chamber, to pass a bill or resolution, but one senator can also block that request.

    Gillibrand, after Paul objected, said she was “deeply disappointed” in his decision, adding “enough of the political games.”

    “I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders,” she added.

    Despite the back-and-forth on the floor, the Senate is expected to pass the bill before leaving for their summer recess by August 2….

  2. says

    For the umpteenth time, CNN presents a group of picked GOP activists like they’re a focus group. It’s of a piece with giving Richard Spencer an in-studio hit [see here – SC] and maintaining a roster of contributors who are bound by contract not to disparage Trump.

    Since 2015, CNN has distorted its on air product to present far right views as mainstream and to present paid-for or curated pro-trump commentary as just a slice of life among Republicans. You can read about it in Jason Miller’s deposition.”

  3. says

    Uh-oh. This does not sound good. Shades of Dick Cheney.

    Looking to fund a regime overthrow in Venezuela, Trump eyes diverted humanitarian aid

    The Trump administration wants to use aid cut from Guatemala and Honduras to support the opposition in Venezuela.

    According to a July 11 leaked memo, the Trump administration is planning to divert $41.9 million in humanitarian aid from Honduras and Guatemala to fund the effort to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido.

    The Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of the USAID memo, reported that the administration notified Congress that doing so was in the “national interest” of the United States.

    The U.S. government is among roughly 50 countries that recognize Guaido as the president of Venezuela — the opposition leader was not voted into office, but declared himself president and is calling for fresh elections.

    The diverted humanitarian funds stem from the Trump administration’s efforts to punish Central American countries for failing to prevent their citizens from migrating north through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States. […]

  4. says

    The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency over Ebola.

    The outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been ongoing since last August.

    A nearly year-long Ebola outbreak is simmering in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and despite the rollout of a vaccination campaign, the virus has continued to spread.

    Now it’s time for the world to start paying attention.

    That’s the message from an emergency meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva on Wednesday. A panel of independent experts met to discuss whether the outbreak is dire enough to constitute a “public health emergency of international concern,” a rare designation the WHO gives to diseases that pose a global threat. It was the fourth such meeting since October.

    Unlike the last three meetings, a formal emergency was declared this time because of the “concerning geographic spread of the virus,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus […]

    “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system” said Dr. Tedros. “We all owe it to these responders — coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities — to shoulder more of the burden.” […]

    While the risk of Ebola in the DRC and neighboring countries remains high, the risk outside the region is low, he added.

    The same was true for 2014-’16 West Africa epidemic. (That didn’t stop Chris Christie, Donald Trump, and others from fear-mongering about Ebola, and using the outbreak to call for borders to be closed down.)

    This is the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history — and the first in a war zone.

    Link

  5. says

    WSJ – “Russia, Iran, North Korea Launch Hundreds of Cyberattacks on U.S. Political Groups, Microsoft Says”:

    Suspected nation-state hackers from Russia, Iran and elsewhere have launched nearly 800 cyberattacks against political organizations over the past year that have been detected by Microsoft Corp. , with the vast majority of the attempts targeting groups based in the U.S.

    Think tanks and nongovernmental organizations that work with candidates or political parties—or on issues important to their campaigns—have suffered most of those attacks. The assaults could be a precursor to direct attacks on campaigns and election systems, a trend seen in recent election cycles in the U.S. and Europe, Microsoft said Wednesday.

    The findings are the latest indication that foreign governments are laying the groundwork ahead of the 2020 presidential election to potentially disrupt American politics, as senior U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned.

    Federal agencies have dedicated more resources to election security since 2016, but cash-strapped campaigns remain broadly vulnerable, and the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t expected to consider legislation tackling the issue before the election.

    Microsoft said it had delivered 781 notifications of suspected nation-state attacks to customers globally who are enrolled in its AccountGuard service, a free security tool offered to federal, state and local political candidates, party committees, election-oriented technology vendors and select nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that use Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft wouldn’t identify the customers.

    Overall in the past year, Microsoft said it had notified almost 10,000 customers overall that they had either been targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks in the past year, with about 84% of those attacks targeting business customers and the rest launched against personal email accounts.

    The majority of nation-state activity spotted by Microsoft originated from Iran, North Korea and Russia, Microsoft said. It includes attacks from a group known as Fancy Bear believed to have ties to Russia’s military intelligence and linked to the hack of Democratic emails during the 2016 election.

    The company in its findings didn’t mention China—a country usually included with the other three when Western intelligence agencies or security experts discuss state-sponsored cyberattacks. Asked about the omission, a spokesman declined to elaborate.

    AccountGuard, which rolled out last August, is offered in more than two dozen countries, but 95% of the attacks have targeted U.S.-based organizations, a proportion that couldn’t be explained by its rate of American customers, Microsoft said.

    “Democracy-focused organizations in the United States should be particularly concerned,” said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s senior vice president of customer security and trust, in a blog post.

    “By nature, these organizations are critical to society but have fewer resources to protect against cyberattacks than large enterprises,” Mr. Burt said, adding that “the problem is real and unabated.”

    Microsoft previously said that its threat-intelligence team had tracked hacking attempts to the Kremlin targeting U.S. think tanks, academics, and nongovernmental organizations that appear close to American politics or specific 2020 campaigns. Wednesday was the first time the company had provided statistics measuring the phenomenon.

    The announcement coincides with the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, where Microsoft will demonstrate a new software kit intended to let third parties verify election results….

  6. says

    I just got a call from Michael Monico, Michael Cohen’s lawyer. He said he was surprised by prosecutors’ decision to close the hush money case.

    ‘I thought there was substantial and significant information by which they would be able to bring a case against others’.”

    More about Judge Pauley’s ruling today on making the evidence public here. As I said there, he’s ordered the unredacted documents publicly docketed tomorrow at 11 AM.

    …The Government now represents that it has concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the Materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations. Although the Government agrees that the majority of the campaign finance portions of the Materials may be unsealed, it requests limited redactions to those portions to protect third-party privacy interests.

    After reviewing the Government’s status report and proposed redactions, this Court denies the Government’s request. In particular—and in contrast to the private nature of Cohen’s business transactions—the weighty public ramifications of the conduct described in the campaign finance portions warrant disclosure.

    The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance. Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials. Indeed, the common law right of access—a right so enshrined in our identity that it “predate[s] even the Constitution itself”—derives from the public’s right to “learn of, monitor, and respond to the actions of their representatives and representative institutions.”…

    He’s not falling for the “third-party privacy interests” line in this context.

  7. says

    Mehdi Hasan: “So-called ‘moderate’ House Democrats keep getting quoted as saying things like ‘its time to focus on bread and butter issues.’

    If you think confronting racism from the most powerful man in America isn’t a ‘bread and butter’ issue that says more about you than about ‘the squad.’”

    THANK YOU.

    Neither, pundits, is it “devolving” or “sinking to Trump’s level” to call it out and to face off, as you inevitably will have to, against the defenders of white supremacy. And if his campaign is intentionally and cynically deploying racism, that’s not clever or worrisome or just a strategy to dispassionately analyze – it’s fucking reprehensible.

  8. says

    BREAKING: House votes 230-198, largely along party lines, to hold Barr and Ross in contempt over defying subpoenas on census probe. Four Democrats broke with their party to vote against the resolution and one independent [Amash] supported it.”

  9. says

    “Jewish leaders donate $1m to mosque victims”:

    Jewish community leaders joined Muslim officials in Christchurch today, to hand over a million dollars raised in an American city for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

    Following the 15 March shooting, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh raised over $900,000 for Christchurch Muslims.

    The act of generosity was inspired after Muslims rallied around the Jewish community when an armed shooter opened fire in a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people in October last year.

    At a lunch time ceremony, the New Zealand Jewish Council president, handed over a cheque to the Christchurch Foundation, to establish the Abrahamic fund.

    For members of the Muslim and Jewish faith, today’s ceremony was much more then just a transferral of money from one faith to another.

    It was an opportunity to explore the other’s religion, as Jewish and Muslim leaders were taken on a tour of each religion’s respective places of worship.

    New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman signed the document to establish the new fund.

    He said the Christchurch Foundation would allocate the fund’s money according to the needs of families affected by the attack.

    New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff travelled from Australia to deliver close to $70,000 worth of money raised by jews living in the state.

    He said it would have been easy to simply transfer the money but he wanted to send a message with his presence.

    “I wanted to come on behalf of the Jewish Board of Deputies to physically stand here and say we did this because we cared. That’s why I wanted to come here and have a symbolic presence to show that we are all members of one humanity.”…

  10. KG says

    An interesting Brexit development:

    MPs have voted to stop Boris Johnson proroguing parliament in the autumn to facilitate a no-deal Brexit by 315 votes to 274 – a majority of 41.

    Amusing (and of course, true) that the Grauniad journalist assumes it is specifically Johnson that the vote targets. The vote doesn’t mean Parliament will prevent a no-deal crash-out, or even that it can do so, other than by a vote of no confidence, but it does constrain Johnson’s options- he had explicitly refused to rule out proroguing to force through a no-deal crash-out.

  11. says

    “Mitch McConnell Reacts to Trump’s Widely Condemned Rally: ‘The President’s Onto Something’”:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on Fox Business Network to praise President Donald Trump’s Wednesday night rally, in which he reveled in the crowd’s chant to “send back” a black congresswoman who came to the United States as a refugee.

    Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo kicked off the interview by showing extensive clips from the rally — including one in which the crowd loudly chanted “send her back” — before asking Mitch: “You’re reaction to some of the president’s commentary?”

    “He’s right about ‘the squad’ wanting to turn us into a socialist country,” McConnell said, referring to the four progressive congresswomen Trump has targeted in recent days. “What he should have added, however, is that it’s a lot broader than just the four of them.”

    McConnell argued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the 2020 candidates have “all signed up” for policies like the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All.” (While some have, all of them have not).

    “So I think the president’s onto something,” McConnell said.

    Bartiromo agreed. The host did not ask McConnell about thousands of Trump supporters chanting “Send her back!” at a black congresswoman, in an ugly display that was condemned as dangerously bigoted by both right and left on Wednesday night. She did follow by asking about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accusation that the Leader is “complicit in advancing racism” because he refuses to condemn Trump’s remarks.

    McConnell condemned AOC’s attack [sic]: “I think it’s time to lower the rhetoric related to that subject all across America. Everyone knows that’s nonsense.”…

  12. says

    From Otisville, @MichaelCohen212 sends a statement responding to Trump lawyer @JaySekulow over the closing of the SDNY campaign finance probe: ‘Mr. Sekulow’s statement is completely distorted and dishonest….’

    ‘….As I stated during my open testimony, I and members of The Trump Organization were directed by Mr. Trump to handle the Stormy Daniel’s matter; including making the hush money payment. …’

    ‘….The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and The Department of Justice’.”

  13. says

    “…DOJ said that the day after the Access Hollywood outtake of Trump boasting about sexual assault became public, Michael Cohen, Trump, Hope Hicks and others exchanged messages about ‘the need to prevent (@StormyDaniels) from going public’.

    In a warrant application, the FBI described an urgent effort by Cohen, Trump, Hicks and the head of the National Enquirer to keep @StormyDaniels quiet after the Access Hollywood outtakes became public.

    The FBI, in warrant applications unsealed today, put President Trump pretty squarely at the center of a coverup by his former lawyer that prosecutors said violated federal campaign finance laws.

    As the @WSJ was about to reveal efforts to buy the silence of Karen McDougal, Cohen summarized Trump’s reaction in a text to a National Enquirer executive: ‘He’s pissed’….”

  14. says

    NBC – July 10 – “3 trans women shot and killed in Honduras in July”:

    …LGBTQ people are an especially vulnerable population in the country. Cattrachas has recorded 327 violent murders of LGBTQ individuals in the last 10 years, but Ramos said this number could underrepresent the number of people murdered, since the organization’s database is derived from media reports. This year to date, at least 21 LGBTQ people have been murdered in Honduras: nine gay men, seven trans people and five lesbians.

    Violence against transgender individuals in Central America has caused many to leave their home countries in search of asylum. But experts say leaving doesn’t necessarily ensure their lives are any safer.

    “Trans women just want to be safe. They want out,” Jansen said. “A lot of people say that anything is better than Honduras, but I question how true that statement is when we see the levels of violence rising during their journey and in these [immigration detention] facilities.”

    Last month, Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman from El Salvador, died in a Texas hospital four days after being released from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility. Another transgender woman, Roxsana Hernandez, died in ICE custody from an untreated AIDS-related illness after leaving Honduras for the United States last year.

    Three police officers in El Salvador were recently charged with the murder of Camila Díaz Cordova, according to the Washington Blade. Díaz Cordova, a transgender woman who joined a caravan heading from Central America to the U.S. last year to escape threats, was deported and murdered upon returning to her native country.

    “Everyone in the LGBT community feels vulnerable and insecure, especially transgender people,” Ramos said. “The Honduran state does not recognize them as people subject to rights. They cannot change their names; there are no opportunities to access education or health, so in many cases they’re obligated to do survival sex work.”

    “It’s understandable why many are trying to escape the country,” she added.

    More at the link.

  15. says

    Guardian – “UK politicians send message of solidarity to US congresswomen”:

    Leading British politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan are among thousands of people who have signed a letter of support f the four US congresswomen of colour who were targeted by Donald Trump in a series of racist tweets this week.

    The letter from the anti-racist charity Hope Not Hate expresses solidarity with Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, describing them as “the best of America”, and condemns Trump’s “blatant, unashamed racism”.

    In less than two days the petition has been signed by dozens of MPs, two trade union general secretaries and 13,809 Hope Not Hate activists. The letter thanks the four congresswomen for “showing the world that America can still provide leadership to be proud of, even when the White House has abdicated that role.”

    Khan, the London mayor, tweeted about the petition and said: “These progressive congresswomen represent hope for the future – their home is America, but their message crosses borders.”…

  16. says

    Excerpts from Daniel Dale’s thread, which SC highlighted in comment 21:

    Trump begins: “We have all night. We’re going to have a lot of fun tonight. I have nothing to do. Nothing. Nothing.” He then adds, “We have nothing to do but make our country great again.”

    Trump is recounting election night 2016.

    Trump on his election night: “Maybe, there are those that say, one of the most extraordinary and exciting evenings in the history of television. In the history of anything.”

    Trump says he is doing “really well” with Hispanics because “they want a strong border” and “they want that wall.” His approval with Hispanics is in the 20s.

    Trump calls polls “fake” and “suppression polls,” as is his custom. There’s no evidence for his frequent claim that pollsters are reducing his numbers to deflate his supporters’ enthusiasm.

    Trump claims that 401(k)s are up “60, 70, 80, 90 percent.” That is way higher than stock market growth during his tenure.

    Trump is attacking “left-wing ideologues” who he says see the US as “a force of evil.” The crowd boos when he mentions “the four congresswomen.” He says he will read some of these Democrats’ comments because it’s live television and they “can’t cut it.”

    Trump’s attempt to begin his criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar was interrupted by a protester. Trump says, as usual, “He goes home now to mommy and he gets reprimanded and that’s the end.”

    Trump repeats his smear of Ilhan Omar, falsely saying she said Al Qaeda “makes you proud.” This is a grossly inaccurate description of her comments.

    The rally crowd is chanting “send her back” about Ilhan Omar as Trump reads a list of her past remarks.

    Trump calls Ocasio-Cortez “Cortez,” and then says somebody said, “That’s not her name, sir,” and he says he responded, “No no: I don’t have time to go with three different names. We’ll call her Cortez. Too much time. Takes too much time.” The room is quiet.

    Trump falsely says that he won every debate against Clinton according to the polls. “They won’t admit that,” he says. He lost every debate according to all scientific polls. He likes to cite junk polls where you can just go and click.

    Trump falsely claims that NATO spending was declining for “16 years” before it took office. The Trump-era increases have been faster, but it was increasing in 2015 and 2016, in part because of a 2014 re-pledge by NATO countries to meet the 2% guideline.

    Trump says Antifa attacks only single defenseless people, not Bikers for Trump or “Military for Trump” — the “people we wish they attacked.”

    Trump is now on immigration, warning as usual that Democrats’ policies produce crime. He then turns to MS-13, saying its members commit “medieval style” murders, and adds, “You know what medieval style is? Little pieces, little pieces, little pieces. Medieval style.”

    Trump falsely says Democrats want to do nothing about human trafficking. He then falsely says most US trafficking comes through the southern border. He then falsely says human trafficking doesn’t happen through legal ports of entry. He concludes, “Everybody knows it.”

    Trafficking experts emphasize that trafficking is a *major domestic problem* in many cases unrelated to the border in any way. They also emphasize that many victims who do come through the border are deceived into coming through legal ports.

    That’s not all. Check the thread for more.

  17. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was scheduled to speak at the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s annual fundraising event, but after he offered some mild criticisms of Donald Trump’s recent racist tweets, the GOP disinvited him.

    Even mild criticism of Trump, which offered along with praise, is not acceptable to the GOP Cult.

    From Politico:

    […] “He suggested the president’s comments were racist and that he was becoming a racist. Our board was infuriated,” said Michael A. Barnett, the Republican Party chairman in the county, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway.

    “We believe the tweets were not racist, the president is not racist and that Scaramucci’s comments were unfair,” Barnett, who is African American, said.

    “I am sorry that I was canceled,” he told POLITICO. “Mike Barnett must like and condone racist comments. Someone with more courage and less political expediency would call it for what it is and ask it to stop.”

    Barnett made his comments to POLITICO on Thursday morning after emailing Scaramucci that he was no longer invited to speak at the Aug. 15 event, called “Lobsterfest,” because of the comments.

    “I don’t think the president is a racist,” Scaramucci first told the BBC on Tuesday. “But here’s the thing, if you continue to say and act in that manner, then we all have to look at him and say, ‘OK, well, maybe you weren’t a racist, but now you’re turning into one.‘” […]

    Link

  18. says

    Do not diss Hair Furor: Arizona Republican Chairwoman Kelli Ward realizes that appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) occasionally disagrees with Trump, but Ward wants McSally to “just be quiet” about it.

    Arizona Republican Chairwoman Kelli Ward said she wishes GOP elected officials, specifically Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), ‘would just be quiet’ when they disagree with President Trump,” according to audio obtained by Phoenix New Times.

    “Ward’s criticism of McSally highlights the delicate balance faced by Arizona Republicans who hope to maintain support among Trump’s base as well as the moderate wing of the party.”

  19. says

    From Steve Benen:

    In Alabama’s U.S. Senate race, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill complained this week that Americans’ interest in “homosexual activities” has contributed to what he sees as the country’s moral decline. The GOP official was apparently bothered by, among other things, coverage of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s World Cup victory.

    Full story at NBC News

    […] “The foundational principles which we have grown up as a nation are no more,” Merrill said at a Fort Payne town hall over the weekend. “There are no more good TV shows on like ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Bonanza,’ ‘The Virginian,’ ‘Andy Griffith,’ ‘I Love Lucy.’ We don’t have those shows anymore. We’re too interested in homosexual activities.”

    “What you have today is you have more interest in homosexual activities, you have interest in wife-swapping, and who’s dating who, and how this family is messing with this other family, and those things substitute for entertainment value,” Merrill said.

    When sharing an example of what he called Americans’ preoccupation with “homosexuality activities,” Merrill cited media coverage of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s World Cup victory earlier this month.

    “That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” he said. “What the national media chose to focus on is the fact that these young ladies’ sexual orientation was more significant than what they accomplished on the field of play,” which Merrill said “was to separate themselves from any other team like them in the history of the World Cup.”

    “The national narrative began to be one of divisiveness, and if you can’t support these young ladies because they’re gay and because they want to wear the LGBT flag on their uniform, as opposed to just appreciating the great talent that they have, and the unbelievable athletic accomplishments that they produce, that’s a problem,” Merrill said. […]

  20. says

    Sheesh.

    Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter is sending Islamophobic mail pieces to voters in his Southern California district, attacking his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, for his deceased grandfather alleged ties to a 1972 terrorist attack.

    The mailers show a photo of one of the terrorists involved in an attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics wearing a ski mask on one side, and photos of Campa-Najjar and Muslim Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, on the other. Campa-Najjar is Christian.

    “Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ammar Campa-Najjar … these three radical Democrats want you to forget their anti-semitism or family-terrorist ties!” a note from Hunter states on the back side of the mailer. “But as a Marine I’ll never forget the 1983 Beirut bombings and the 1972 Olympic murders!”

    Hunter’s campaign confirmed that it is distributing the mailer, which solicits contributions from donors.

    “It is a piece put out by Congressman Hunter’s campaign,” said Hunter spokesman Michael Harrison. “It’s a hard-hitting piece because these are significant issues that our opponent refuses to acknowledge.” […]

    Politico link

    Yesterday, Hunter received a cease-and-desist letter from the Marines for his misuse of the official Corps emblem:

    The Marine Corps has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for using the official Corps emblem and phrase on campaign mailers that link his likely 2020 opponent and two Democratic congresswomen to terror.

    In a letter to Hunter obtained by NBC News, the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office tells the congressman, “It has come to our attention that your campaign is using the official USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor (Emblem) and the phrase ‘No Better Friend, NO Worse Enemy’ (Phrase) as an integral part of your political campaign, namely, on at least one fundraising mailer to your constituents.”

    The letter, dated Tuesday, demands that Hunter’s campaign “immediately remove the Emblem and the Phrase from its mailers, and, without limitation, from all other campaign materials including websites and other instances where the Emblem or the Phrase are being used. We also request that you provide us with a timetable as to your compliance with our requests.” […]

    NBC News link

  21. says

    Followup to comment 5.

    More about the year-old outbreak of Ebola, and about how unprepared the Trump administration is to handle this healthcare emergency:

    […] the hope is that international public-health officials will be able to respond to the Ebola outbreak effectively, though if conditions become even more serious, it’s going to be difficult to have confidence in the Trump administration.

    In May 2018, for example, the Washington Post reported that Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic, abruptly left his post.

    The article added that there was no senior administration official “focused solely on global health security.” What’s more, the Post noted that Ziemer’s team had been broken up, and thanks to John Bolton’s reorganization plan, the admiral would not be replaced on the White House National Security Council. […]

    As Media Matters’ Matt Gaetz put it yesterday, “President Trump trying to handle a global Ebola emergency while watching Fox News cover the story is one of the more chilling scenarios for the Fox-Trump feedback loop. And here we are.”

    Link

  22. says

    One of the many lies Trump told at his rally in North Carolina last night:

    Patients with pre-existing conditions are protected by Republicans much more so than protected by Democrats, who will never be able to pull it off.

    Commentary:

    […] I realize Trump doesn’t know or care about health-care policy. Or his own administration’s agenda. Or current events. Or telling the truth. Or reality.

    But Democrats already “pulled it off.” Americans with pre-existing conditions have protections right now. We know this to be true because the Affordable Care Act – the law the president is so desperate to destroy – currently exists.

    The idea that these same Americans will enjoy “more” protections under a Republican alternative to the ACA certainly sounds great, but Trump and his GOP brethren had two years to present their ideas on the subject, and each of their plans left people with pre-existing conditions worse off – in some cases, vastly so.

    There’s everyday nonsense, and then there’s head-spinning gaslighting. This clearly falls into the latter category.

    Alas, if this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. Shortly before the 2018 midterms, Trump declared, “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions. Democrats will not!”

    As we discussed at the time, it was as brazen a lie as any Trump has told. He simply took reality, turned it on its head, and asked Americans to believe the opposite of reality. […]

    Link

  23. says

    From John Judis, writing for Talking Points Memo: “Trump Is No George Wallace. He’s Worse.”

    I keep seeing comparisons between Trump’s racial appeals and George Wallace’s 1968 campaign. Here’s the AP’s Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller: “Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters.” Someone here can correct me if my memory is failing me, but in 1968, Wallace did not make explicit racial appeals.

    Wallace talked about state’s rights and the ability of “big government” to dictate whether schools should segregate. In his opening appearance in 1967 in Meet the Press, he said he did not favor “segregation in any phase of our society in any state of this union,” but favored the states being allowed to “continue to determine the policies of their domestic institutions themselves.” His voters often understood his appeals in racial terms, but he was careful not to frame his appeal in white vs. black terms.

    Trump’s appeal is much more explicit and personal. Wallace, in retrospect, was a conventional politician who reflected and then later rejected the mores of his time and region. Trump is much more of an irresponsible demagogue. He did not rise out of a political movement the way that, say, Hitler or Mussolini did, but is a peculiar product of our celebrity and social media culture. He’s a bad person — a man lacking in conscience — in a way that Wallace, as his turn later against his segregationist past showed, was not.

    I have mixed feelings about the politics of this latest outburst: on one hand, it tempts Democrats into an over-reaction, particularly on issues like immigration; on the other hand, it reinforces the aversion of many voters, including erstwhile Republican voters, to having such an individual represent the country as its and their president.

  24. says

    Well, that’s not going to work.

    Trump is now trying to distance himself from the “Send Her Back!” chant at his rally last night. He basked in that chant at the time. He encouraged it. He added more fuel to the fire when the chant died down.

    “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

    When a reporter asked why he didn’t step in to quell the chant, Trump claimed some credit for doing so. “I think I did. I started speaking very quickly.”

    Trump stood silently for a few seconds as the chant went on.

    The President on Thursday blamed any delay on the “tremendous amount of noise and action and everything else” in the arena.

  25. says

    Mimi Rocah:

    This gave me chills from @maddow last night: “Hey @SDNYnews are you ok? We’ve all been led to believe you would squak if you were ever pressured to drop something to protect the powerful. We’ve all been told you’re the Sovereign District of New York & there’s no way the AG or the WH could ever cut you off if you were ever pursuing public corruption or criminal matters involving powerful people. @SDNYnews you would squak if that’s what’s happening here wouldn’t you?”

  26. says

    Lindsey Graham claims ‘send her back’ chant isn’t racist because Ilhan Omar is a Trump critic

    The South Carolina senator suggests it is okay to be a person of color, as long as you wear a MAGA hat.

    […] “I don’t think it’s racist to say,” Graham told reporters on Thursday. “I don’t think a Somali refugee embracing Trump would be asked to go back. If you’re racist, you want everybody to go back because they are black or Muslim. That’s not what this is about. What this is about to me is that these four congresswoman, in their own way, have been incredibly provocative.”

    “If you think he’s as racist, that’s up to you. I don’t,” Graham added.

    He noted that “for President Trump, if you embrace his policies, doesn’t matter where you come from, he probably likes you.” […]

  27. says

    From Wonkette:

    Donald Trump spent his Wednesday tossing his salad with racially infused vinaigrette again! […] It was gross. Really fucking gross. Both of the events we are going to tell you about right now are absolutely not American, and every single one of us should be absolutely horrified. Unfortunately, Republicans will not be horrified, because they are racists just like their president.

    First, as Trump was leaving the White House for his rally in North Carolina last night, he pulled that birther trick he always pulls, saying he doesn’t know anything about this, but “people are saying” Rep. Ilhan Omar married her own brother. He’s not saying! PEOPLE are saying. It apparently came in response to a question from a “journalist” from the One America News Network, because actual hot garbage is allowed to have a White House press pass now.

    [Trump said] There’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it […] I don’t know but I’m sure that somebody would be looking at that.

    Isn’t that cute? “There’s a lot of talk about it.” Of course, the only “people” talking about it (using the term loosely) come from the Jacob Wohl slice of humanity, and now here it’s being repeated by the president of the United States. USA! USA!

    […] Once the rally in Greenville, North Carolina, got started, Trump went through a nice list of blood libel lies about Ilhan Omar, repeating bullshit about how she didn’t care about 9/11, because it was just “some people” doing something (that’s not what she said) and bullshit about how she “praised” al Qaeda, by somehow saying that the name of al Qaeda (or “Alcaida,” as the president would spell it in his mangled meat brain) should be spoken with reverence, as opposed to how you say “America.” (Needless to say, all of that is a lie too.)

    […] they started chanting “SEND HER BACK! SEND HER BACK! SEND HER BACK!” You know, because they are real Americans, and they agree with Trump that Omar should be “sent back where she came from.” They believe this because she’s black, and because she’s a Muslim who came to America as a Somali refugee. But as we all know, they’d believe this if she was born here too, because they think they — stupid white supremacists — are the real Americans, and that everybody else is from somewhere else. Trump believes the same thing.

    It was probably the most disgusting behavior we’ve witnessed from a large group of American citizens since the beginning of the Trump campaign in 2015, but we doubt it will hold that title for long.

    Watch how Trump incites their cauldron of hatred. Watch what the crowd turns into. Then try to tell us It Can’t Happen Here. […]

  28. says

    New: @RepAdamSchiff says the ‘inescapable conclusion’ of the Cohen records is that there’s ‘ample evidence’ to charge Trump with campaign finance crimes.

    Schiff says his ‘most immediate concern’ is whether Barr ‘sought to bring’ the SDNY probe ‘to a close’.”

  29. blf says

    KG@18, “Amusing (and of course, true) that the Grauniad journalist assumes it is specifically Johnson that the vote targets.”

    The next NKofE PM will be either him or Hunt, and only Hunt has ruled out proroguing parliament. Of course, believing either one is as stoopid as either one (or indeed, any nasty party politician) becoming PM.

  30. says

    Politico – “Hope Hicks’ testimony gets second look after Cohen document dump”:

    Newly released court documents are raising questions about whether former White House communications director Hope Hicks misled House lawmakers during a closed-door interview last month.

    Hicks testified in June before the House Judiciary Committee that she was never present for discussions involving Donald Trump and his one-time attorney, Michael Cohen, about hush-money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    But Hicks participated in an early October 2016 phone call with Trump and Cohen as they were beginning negotiations on a deal to try and keep Daniels from going public with allegations about an affair with Trump, according to newly unsealed portions of a search warrant released Thursday.

    According to the document, Hicks called Cohen on Oct. 8, 2016. Sixteen seconds later, Trump himself was dialed into the call, which continued for over four minutes. The FBI agent said it was the first call Cohen had received or made to Hicks in at least multiple weeks, and Cohen and Trump had spoken only about once a month prior to that.

    Cohen and Hicks then spoke again for about two minutes after the call with Trump ended.

    Hicks’ participation in the Cohen-Trump call, coming at a moment when Trump’s team was scrambling to bury Daniels’ story in the final weeks of a tumultuous 2016 presidential campaign, may put her in an awkward spot to explain her closed-door congressional testimony last month.

    In that interview, Hicks gave a categorical denial to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) when she asked whether Hicks was ever present when Trump and Cohen had discussed Daniels.

    By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

    “No, ma’am,” Hicks replied.

    “You were never present when they discussed Stormy Daniels?” Jackson Lee asked again, according to a transcript released by the panel.

    “No,” Hicks answered.

    Jackson Lee then pressed a third time. “I’m going to say it again. Were you ever present when Trump and Mr. Cohen discussed Stormy Daniels, since it was all over the news that that occurred?” the lawmaker asked.

    After a White House attorney, Patrick Philbin, interjected to ensure the question to Hicks was focused only on her time on the Trump campaign, Hicks again replied, “So, no is my answer.”

    Hicks’ response to the House lawmaker also appears to conflict with what an FBI special agent wrote in support of the bureau’s request for search warrants of Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. In a footnote about the Trump-Cohen-Hicks call, the agent described a conversation with another official from the bureau who had interviewed Hicks.

    “I have learned that Hicks stated, in substance, that to the best of her recollection, she did not learn about the allegations made by [Daniels] until early November 2016,” the agent wrote. “Hicks was not specifically asked about this three-way call.”…

  31. says

    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know or remember the difference among an excessive heat warning, a heat advisory, and an excessive heat watch, and the colors they’re using for the national maps are not helping.

  32. says

    So I flipped to CNN and it looks like on the first debate night (on the 30th), it’s Warren, Sanders, Buttegieg, Beto, Klobuchar, and others. Second night (the 31st): Harris, Biden, Castro, Booker, and others.

  33. says

    CNN debates breakdown:

    July 30:

    Marianne Williamson
    John Delaney
    John Hickenlooper
    Tim Ryan
    Steve Bullock
    Amy Klobuchar
    Beto O’Rourke
    Pete Buttigieg
    Elizabeth Warren
    Bernie Sanders

    July 31:

    Jay Inslee
    Kirsten Gillibrand
    Tulsi Gabbard
    Michael Bennet
    Bill de Blasio
    Cory Booker
    Andrew Yang
    Julián Castro
    Kamala Harris
    Joe Biden

    Incidentally, I had linked to this excerpt from McMindfulness recently, and I’ve now read the whole book. It is <scathing. I had no idea Tim Ryan (first night’s debate) was a McMindfulness evangelist. He has a book about it, and it sounds completely inane. Zero business running for president.

  34. says

    NEW: Federal prosecutors’ decision to end an investigation into hush money payments to women claiming affairs with Donald Trump relied at least in part on longstanding Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime….”

  35. says

    Inbox: Today, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler sent a letter to Hope Hicks demanding that she come before the House Judiciary Committee to clarify her testimony, after a federal judge in New York unsealed evidence which revealed apparent inconsistencies with Hicks’ testimony.”

  36. says

    Politico – “Trump officials pressing to slash refugee admissions to zero next year”:

    The Trump administration is considering a virtual shutdown of refugee admissions next year — cutting the number to nearly zero — according to three people familiar with the plan.

    During a key meeting of security officials on refugee admissions last week, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services representative who is closely aligned with White House immigration adviser Stephen Miller suggested setting a cap at zero, the people said. Homeland Security Department officials at the meeting later floated making the level anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000, according to one of the people.

    The proposal for a near-shutdown of the refugee program is alarming officials at the Department of Defense, who don’t want to see a halt in admissions of Iraqis who risked their lives assisting U.S. forces in that country. The possible move comes after the Trump administration cut refugee admissions by a third this year, to 30,000.

    If the administration shuts down refugee admissions, it would give President Donald Trump a powerful talking point as he makes immigration restrictions a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

    At the same time, it would strand thousands of people already far along in the process and damage the ability of resettlement agencies to process refugees in future years, according to advocates tracking the issue….

    The “powerful talking point” framing is unevidenced and gross.

  37. says

    ThinkProgress – “Catholics in Iowa went to church. Steve Bannon tracked their phones.”:

    Steve Bannon and the conservative group Catholic Vote used cell-phone location data for people who had been inside Roman Catholic churches in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2018 to target them with get-out-the-vote ads, ThinkProgress has learned.

    Bannon, a former senior White House aide, made the claim in a deleted scene from the new documentary about him, The Brink. This scene has not been previously published.

    “If your phone’s ever been in a Catholic church, it’s amazing, they got this data,” Bannon told director Alison Klayman as they sat in his Washington, D.C., home on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections.

    “Literally, they can tell who’s been in a Catholic church and how frequently,” Bannon added. “And they got it triaged.” [This is not what triage means. Was he going for triangulated? No idea with this mope. – SC]

    The technology Bannon was alluding to is called “geofencing” or “ring-fencing.” It’s become popular over the last several years with advertisers, campaigns, and advocacy groups that want to find people who may be receptive to their message.

    When Klayman asked Bannon, on-camera, where he got his data from, he answered, simply, “the phone companies.”

    “And the data guys sell it,” Bannon added.

    The data used in geofencing is anonymized. But privacy advocates have been sounding the alarm, saying that geofencing and other ways that companies collect and sell cell-phone location data have the potential to reveal personal information about individual phone users.

    Some critics say geofencing churches, in particular, takes the technology too far.

    Catholic Vote planned to use the data to send targeted get-out-the-vote ads on election day telling Catholics that it was their duty “to support President Trump,” according to Bannon.

    It’s not clear whether those ads ever went out. If they did, the results were mixed. The next day, Democrat Abby Finkenauer beat out Republican incumbent Rod Blum by 51% to 45.9%, while Republican Kim Reynolds held on to the governor’s mansion.

    But the Dubuque election was just one battle in a larger war. Bannon, a cradle Catholic, has worked to shift the political landscape inside and outside the church, wooing Catholics to his brand of right-wing populism and making common cause with prominent Catholics who oppose the relatively progressive reign of Pope Francis.

    Conservative activists working to attract Catholic votes is nothing new, according John Gehring, the Catholic program director at the progressive advocacy group Faith in Public Life. But the tactics have changed.

    “Catholic activists on the right have worked closely with GOP operatives and campaigns to micro target voters for several decades,” Gehring said. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, he said, they would find ways to get parish directories.

    “The political strategy to reach Catholics is clearly more high-tech now,” he said, “but the goal of selling the Republican brand and the willingness to stretch ethical boundaries to do that is the same today.”

    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque did not collect or sell the data, did not approve its collection or sale, and was not aware that its churches had been geofenced before ThinkProgress contacted it requesting comment, according to spokesperson John Robins. But he did not seem surprised.

    “I’m confused about what is newsworthy here,” Robins said in an email. “In general, this technology and methodology are not new. Both are commonplace in today’s digital environment.”

    Political groups have geofenced everything from President Donald Trump’s rallies to the Women’s March on Washington in 2017 to help them identify potential voters who may be sympathetic to their message.

    Geofencing churches is more rare, experts told ThinkProgress. But Bannon isn’t the first to do it. The Michigan GOP told Crain’s Detroit Business last year that it had geofenced evangelical Christian mega-churches….

  38. says

    Many Dem friends v. caught up in the battle btwn Medicare for All & Obamacare Plus. This is a mistake. That’s a post-election policy discussion. For voters the point is: Dems will assure every American has healthcare and GOP wants to take it away from millions.”

    Yes, this.

  39. says

    Houston Chronicle – “Sen. Ted Cruz calls for designating Antifa as a hate group”:

    Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is calling on the U.S. Senate to designate Antifa as a hate group by passing a resolution he introduced on Thursday condemning the group.

    “Antifa is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their unhinged agenda through aggressive violence,” said Cruz, who filed the measure alongside Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Lousiana. “Time and time again their actions have demonstrated that their only purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.”

    “The hate and violence they spread must be stopped, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with Senator Cassidy to properly identify what Antifa are: domestic terrorists,” he added….

    Kelly Weill:

    [one day after Rep. Ilhan Omar and scholars of fascism call Trump’s rally fascist] “uh, criminalize anti-fascism”

    Cruz et al pick up the far-right “anti-fascism is terrorism meme” & play on stereotypes about black blocs and anarchists because fewer people care about their rights.

    It doesn’t stop there. Fascist messaging, for years, has tried to lump all its opponents under this umbrella.

    Monitor far-right forums (I do) and you’ll see a campaign to call journalists, activists, the DSA, anarchists, aid groups, Women’s March types, regular liberals, ect “antifa terrorists.” It’s a broad brush to silence opposition to fascism (which should be your default stance).

  40. says

    Daily Beast – “George Nader, Witness in Mueller Probe, Hit With New Charges of Sex Trafficking”:

    George Nader, who was a key witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, has been hit with new federal charges of child pornography, sex trafficking, and obscenity, according to a person familiar with the case.

    The charges come on top of separate child-porn charges leveled by the same prosecutors last month. The new indictment is set to be unsealed Friday morning in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to the person.

    The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nader’s attorneys declined to comment. Nader is expected to enter a plea on the charges this morning.

    Nader, a 60-year-old Lebanese-American businessman with deep political and financial ties to the United Arab Emirates, was a key cooperator in Mueller’s probe of foreign influence in the 2016 election. Nader met several times with individuals associated with the Trump campaign throughout the election and into the early days of the administration. He spoke with officials and advisers on matters ranging from a pitch by a foreign firm for the campaign to use social-media manipulation to regime-change in Iran. (He met with Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign advisors about the plan, which included a proposal to use fake avatars to garner support for Trump, but Trump officials deny they ever considered it.)

    He also helped broker a key meeting between Erik Prince, the former Blackwater CEO, and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds, in the Seychelles in January 2017. That meeting came under intense scrutiny by Mueller’s team and was described in its report as one of the ways the Russians tried to influence the incoming Trump administration….

  41. says

    Chuck Schumer: “We just landed in Texas. The conditions at the border for children and families have been inhumane. And I’m leading a delegation of @SenateDems to investigate, inspect, and evaluate conditions for migrants at facilities on the southern border.”

    Good.

  42. says

    Marina Hyde – “Held captive by his carers for four weeks … let’s look at Boris Johnson’s best bits”:

    …So here we all are, staring down the barrel of the overwhelmingly predicted result. And I think we have to conclude there is literally no process as rigorous as the Tory leadership election, barring the application procedure for joining a pyramid scheme or a sex cult.

    Fire up the campaign montage, then, and let’s have a look at Boris Johnson’s best bits. Over the past four weeks alone – three-and-three-quarters of which he was kept in a padded black site by his carers in case he accidentally said piccaninnies or bumboys or fucked the help or something – Johnson has: failed to defend the UK’s most senior ambassador against an absurd attack by the US president, to a degree that contributed to that diplomat’s decision to resign; had the police called to a late-night screaming argument at his girlfriend’s flat; been exposed as incapable of understanding basic elements of his own supposed trade plans; claimed like the maddest of all mad bastards to have some wine-crate-based model-bus-building hobby; lied unnecessarily and repeatedly about everything from the total inviability of his flagship policy to how long he’d owned a bike before it was stolen; refused 26 – TWENTY-SIX – times in a row to even say when a faux paparazzi picture of him and his girlfriend was staged and taken; declined to say how many kids he has; shamelessly suggested he might prorogue parliament, taking him one step closer to his childhood ambition of being some sort of nightmare king; waved a kipper around to illustrate a claim that 30 seconds of Googling would have revealed as more complete bollocks, as has been his stock in trade for more than 30 years; and more. Much more, though for space reasons I have to draw a line here.

    So we have to ask of the Tory membership, who are still going to make this blond Pennywise their prime minister: what would have made the difference, guys? We’re really quite deep into springtime for Hitler territory here. A leadership campaign so nakedly grotesque it should have folded on page four has in fact been a runaway hit….

  43. says

    Update: The House Oversight committee wants to know whether the policy of not charging a president played a role in closing the hush-money case. ‘The Office of the President should not be used as a shield for criminal conduct’, @RepCummings says.”

  44. says

    SC @51, aaarrrggg. Ilhan Omar’s twitter feed is awash with xenophobic and hateful comments of all kinds. People and/or Russian bots/trolls are posting Omar’s image with “Death to America” text and other memes that propagate false information.

    It looks like Ilhan Omar has thousands, if not millions, of people criticizing her based on Trump’s false allegation that she “hates this country.” This is so ugly.

  45. says

    Trump revealed his ignorance about the debt ceiling, his ongoing obsession with Barrack Obama, and his tendency to repeat himself to an alarming extent … all in the course of answering one question from a reporter yesterday:

    During a brief White House Q&A yesterday, a reporter asked Donald Trump about the ongoing talks on raising the debt ceiling ahead of its looming deadline. “We’re working on the debt ceiling,” the president replied.

    Asked if the negotiations are near an agreement, Trump ignored the question and started whining anew about Barack Obama.

    “Don’t forget, you know, the debt under President Obama added more debt than every president put together. So you’re talking about a debt ceiling: President Obama added $10 trillion during his eight years. He doubled the debt. He added more debt than every president – every single President put together. President Obama doubled – more than doubled the debt.

    “So we’re talking about a debt ceiling. The previous president doubled the debt. And that’s what we get stuck with. That’s the way it is, folks.”

    Nope. That’s not the way it is, folks.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    [Trump] takes a couple of sentences and repeats them over and over again, as if that helps. The above transcript excerpt may look like a copy-and-paste error, but he really did repeat himself over the course of several seconds.

    The fact that Trump’s underlying claim is wildly misleading doesn’t help matters.

    […] does the president know what the debt ceiling is?

    Because cumulative deficits from the Obama era, whether one sees them as problematic or not, have no meaningful relevance to the raising the nation’s borrowing limit now. The necessary increase to the debt ceiling is about paying for current spending – and avoiding default – not addressing previous deficits.

    […] Trump is in no position to whine on this subject. As Paul Krugman explained in his new column, “[T]he Trump tax cut caused a huge rise in the budget deficit, which the administration expects to hit $1 trillion this year, up from less than $600 billion in 2016. This tidal wave of red ink is even more extraordinary than it looks, because it has taken place despite falling unemployment, which usually leads to a falling deficit.” […]

    As Catherine Rampbell recently added, “Federal deficits have widened immensely under Trump’s leadership. This is striking not only because he promised fiscal responsibility – at one time even pledging to eliminate the national debt within eight years – but also because it’s a historical anomaly…. Trump’s own policies are to blame for this aberration.”

    The president yesterday suggested he got “stuck with” a poor fiscal hand, bequeathed by Obama. But that’s ridiculous: Obama’s the one who dramatically shrank the deficits he inherited from the Bush/Cheney administration, while Trump is the one who’s making the deficits dramatically larger now.

    Link

  46. says

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned Trump for his attacks against four American congresswomen of color. Merkel is so much more humane, so much smarter than Trump. I feel the stark contrast.

    I firmly distance myself from them [from Trump’s attacks]. I feel solidarity with the women who have been targeted.

    The strength of the United States, from my point of view, is precisely that it’s a country where people from all different kinds of nationalities have contributed to the strength of the American people. [Trump’s comments] run counter to the strength of the United States.

  47. says

    Trump doubled down on his attacks against progressive minority congresswomen, and he did so in his characteristically disingenuous and bullying way:

    I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically. I don’t care.

    Many people say it’s good. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I can tell you this: You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I”m the president.

  48. says

    Congress critters gave a Trump a bunch of money to at least alleviate the mess he has made at the U.S.-Mexico border. Now they want him to be accountable for how he spends that money.

    […] Democrats are demanding the administration brief them on how it will implement more than $4.5 billion in recently passed funding tied to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    […] Democrats sent a letter to President Trump warning that it would be “unacceptable” for the administration to redirect the money toward unintended areas or refuse to spend the new funding, the majority of which is directed toward humanitarian aid.

    “Congress intends to scrutinize the expenditure of these funds and will use all methods of oversight to ensure that the requirements of the law are faithfully executed,” they added. […]

    In addition to a briefing, Democrats have specific asks for each of the departments, including wanting a plan from HHS on how they plan to increase staff for and services offered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a schedule from DHS for constructing new shelters and migrant processing facilities and an estimate from the Pentagon on how much it will cost to pay for activity-duty and National Guard deployments along the border.

    […] “The supplemental funding provided by Congress meets immediate acute needs at the border and has already improved conditions for children,” wrote McAleenan in the letter dated Wednesday but released Friday by DHS.

    The letter from Senate Democrats comes as Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is leading a delegation from the caucus to migrant detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border. McAleenan is joining them on the trip. […]

    Link

  49. blf says

    Martin Rowson in the Grauniad on Boris Johnson’s bid for the Tory leadership (cartoon): “The Ego is Landing”.

    At least one particular readers’s comment deserves to be mentioned:

    Ground Control to Major Boris
    Your circuit’s fucked, there’s something wrong
    Can you hear me, Major Boris?
    Can you hear me, Major Boris?
    Can you hear me, Major Boris?
    Here he is floating round his tinfoil can
    Far above the Moon
    Planet Brexit is blue
    And there’s nothing he can do…

  50. says

    F.O. @84, that’s an excellent presentation of the facts!

    SC @85, that is laughable. Sheesh. Really, Bernie?

    In other news, Susan B. Glasser wrote an article for The New Yorker that took a look at Trump’s “calculated racism.”

    On Tuesday, […] Trump convened his Cabinet in the White House. First to speak after a long, rambling, and inaccuracy-filled monologue by Trump himself was Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In a Cabinet where flowery praise of the President has become standard, Carson outdid himself. […]

    Carson is the lone African-American in Trump’s Cabinet, and Tuesday’s meeting took place forty-eight hours into a furor over the President’s Sunday-morning tweets attacking four left-wing Democratic members of Congress, all of them women of color. […] The tweets were instantly condemned as racist […] Carson was sent to Fox News to provide cover for Trump. “I have an advantage of knowing the President very well, and he’s not a racist, and his comments are not racist,” Carson told viewers. At the Cabinet meeting, Carson offered more validation for the President. Here was his contribution to the national dialogue, as recorded by the White House’s own transcript:

    secretary carson: Thank you, Mr. President. And just before I talk a little bit about what’s going on at hud, I just want to thank you for your incredible courage—

    the president: Thank you.

    secretary carson: —and stamina and resilience with unwithering criticism, unfair criticism, all the time. And I would just, sort of, sum it up by saying: Would you rather have a non-politician whose speech is unfiltered, who gets a lot of stuff done? Or somebody with a silver tongue who gets nothing done?

    the president: But I thought I had a silver tongue. [Laughter.] I heard that so often. I always thought I had a silver tongue. [Laughter.] But I agree with you.

    secretary carson: But, you know, as I told you before, I think God is using you.

    Carson’s shameless sucking up to Trump, an act of self-abasement on live television, was hard to watch. But it wasn’t treated as news. Few accounts even remarked on it. […]

    Trump himself essentially ignored Carson’s defense, not only not retreating from his tweets about the four freshman Democratic congresswomen but going to a campaign rally in North Carolina, on Wednesday night, where he launched an extensive, pre-planned attack on them. One by one, he read their names from his teleprompter, stopping when he got to that of Representative Ilhan Omar, an immigrant from Somalia, and listening with apparent approval as thousands of red-shirted maga fans chanted, “Send her back! Send her back!”

    The racism, it turns out, wasn’t a mistake, a slip of Trump’s otherwise silver tongue, as Carson would have it. It was a calculated political play, and the news of the last few days was that Trump had revealed it so clearly: this is how intends to run for reëlection, in 2020. […]

    Republicans, meanwhile, are not only sticking with Trump as the country’s division and discord deepens, they approve of it. Many are even cheering him on. […] Whatever you call what is happening in America right now, Trump is convinced it is working for him, […]

    A number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, for their part, showed how ridiculous they are willing to make themselves look by condemning the racist chanting of Trump’s North Carolina rally fans while steadfastly refusing to condemn the racist tweets of the President those fans were echoing. […]

    And by now we have seen Trump take back his mild earlier criticism of the rally crowd’s chant of “Send Her Back!” He said, “I disagreed with it.” Apparently, he has changed his mind again. He is back to blasting the congresswomen as being unAmerican, and he is back to praising his rally crowd as “patriots” who “love America.”

  51. says

    From Jane Coaston:

    […] the president says something offensive, waits for political allies to either quietly condemn the comments or embrace them with explanations of how they aren’t offensive, and then says something else egregious mere days later. It has continued apace. […]

    Even as some [conservatives] continue to debate the best possible interpretation of his comments — or even the most desperately hoped for interpretation, however unlikely — what this incident showed, again, is that Trump thinks his supporters want to hear racist invective, and he is more than prepared to give it to them. […]

    From desperate conservative Matt Wolking:

    Anyone who says the president told members of Congress to go back to where they came from is lying.

    He told them to “Then come back and show us how it is done.”

    More from Jane Coaston:

    […] the president’s ire is laser-focused on the lawmakers’ purported un-Americanness for inadequately loving the country in which they were born or, in Omar’s case, immigrated to. In fact, before the rally in North Carolina began, Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump led the crowd in a call-and-response chant, saying, “If you don’t love our country, the president said it, you can …” to which the crowd responded, “Leave.”

    It’s worth noting here that Trump himself campaigned largely on America being, in his words, “a hellhole” only he could fix. […]

    Although Trump said Thursday that he “disagreed” with the chanting, he said the same about the infamous “lock her up” chants of 2016 before bringing them up approvingly in a debate against Hillary Clinton. […]

    But this entire news cycle has happened before, and will happen again, and will create the same result. Trump will say something racist, and many on the right will object, decrying a lack of civility on all sides. Trump’s biggest defenders will then try to explain how his comments weren’t racist but actually incredibly sensible. […]

    “For a critical mass of conservatives, it is a sign that a given act is actually praiseworthy and brave if it draws condemnation from the despised left-wing media.” […]

  52. says

    Michael Cohen tweeted: “I welcome the opportunity to return to Congress to once again testify under oath truthfully and honestly regarding the hush money payments, which was performed at the direction and in accordance with @POTUS @realDonaldTrump. Justice will be served.”

  53. says

    Elie Mystal in the Nation – “Tom Friedman Has No Idea What He’s Talking About”:

    …Look, the moral eye of history is fixated squarely on the moderates and unaffiliated independents this election cycle. Donald Trump is a bigot and a misogynist, who commits crimes against humanity. That is no longer even up for debate. Either independents will support the bigoted atrocities committed by the Trump administration, or they won’t. This is the moral test of this election. Progressives cannot bribe moderates into having a conscience. All progressives can do is make the choice faced by the country clear and unambiguous.

    We are for compassion; Trump is for cruelty. We are for democracy; Trump is for tyranny. This is not a hard choice.

    If you are one of those voters who really is struggling with the choice between the Democratic nominee (whoever that turns out to be) and the Republican one, let me propose my own Friedman-style technological solution: Take out your phone, put it in selfie-mode, and record a video of yourself saying, “Turns out, I am a selfish ogre and I’m comfortable sending the country to hell.”

    There, I’ve solved your unaffiliated independent conundrum. If you are comfortable making that video, then you are golden. You no longer have to worry if the specific mechanism to pay for universal health care is so “extreme” that you are just going to have to vote for a racist authoritarian who is likely running the most corrupt administration in American history. That video tells you who you are and what you’re going to do. You can go back to clubbing baby seals, or whatever it is that you do, and patting yourself on the back for that one time you totally almost voted for the black guy.

    Unlike Friedman, I’m not afraid of losing this kind of “moderate” voter, because I know that the things I’d have to do to get their vote would involve “self-deporting” back to “Africa” where those voters think I’m from. Friedman is willing to sell out every progressive constituency to chase independents, because people like him never have to pay the price of the compromise he offers. I do. Women do. Little kids who were brought to this country by their parents and now need to see a doctor have to pay when we abandon our commitment to provide health care for everybody, regardless of status.

    I’m not afraid because I think most independents and moderates are not like most of today’s Republicans. I think that, unlike those Republicans, most independents and moderates will make the correct moral decision, as long as Democrats explain that they’re being asked to make a moral decision and not a political one.

    Either way, if you are an independent, my suggested video should solve your problem. I have unburdened you. You can vote for a racist, or not. You can vote for a sexual predator, or not. No more time need be wasted, by you or on you, trying to figure out if you will or won’t vote for the racist president. No more column inches need be devoted to your mewling about which progressive policies are making it hard for you to reject white supremacy.

    If people like Thomas Friedman want to be part of the Democratic solution, that is fine. He is welcome. But if wants to hold his vote hostage until progressives pay a large enough ransom in Friedman Units, he can quiet on down. This election cycle, the Democratic Party will not be negotiating with hostage-takers.

    Independents are welcome to join this fight against evil, but they will not lead it. If you ask me, letting the centrist tail lead the progressive dog is how we got into this ass-backwards mess in the first place.

  54. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 91

    I’m confused… when did Oliver Stone, of all people, become a fascist?

  55. says

    SC @89, I agree. Maybe they could put Trump on a ten second delay, and then they’d have time to interrupt the drivel in order to insert fact-checking, (to call out the lies), as often as necessary. Otherwise, don’t air Trump at all. You do a disservice to your viewers. Air a couple of highlights later, along with ample commentary to call out the lies.

  56. says

    As temperatures rise, the poor suffer most.

    […] take the watermelon picker in Five Points, California, who collapsed on the way to his vehicle after a six-hour shift in temperatures above 100 Fahrenheit. No one on the team got a break that day, according to a colleague, despite state labor laws. When the man was pronounced dead at he hospital, his body temperature was 109 Fahrenheit. The company was fined $25,750. […]

    The heat wave gripping much of the country has already been blamed for six deaths. As global temperatures continue to rise and heat waves become more common and extreme, it is the poor, the elderly, laborers, and people with medical conditions who will be at the greatest risk. […]

    Research has shown that climate change and the resulting heat waves will hit large urban areas particularly hard, in part because the concrete, brick, steel, and glass these cities are built from creates “heat islands” that trap heat during the day then slowly release it overnight, preventing the city from cooling down once the sun sets.

    […] the poor, minorities, and the homeless, who tend to be concentrated in cities and may not have the resources to stay in air-conditioned buildings when temperatures soar.

    […] The advocacy group Public Citizen launched a campaign last year to get the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to put tighter rules in place to protect workers during heat waves.

    Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has nominated Eugene Scalia — son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a lifelong opponent of labor regulations — to head the Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA.

  57. says

    From Wonkette:

    Early this morning, Donald Trump got up and had an IDEA. “I know,” he said to himself, “I will spend my morning retweeting Katie Hopikins, a British woman known far and wide as the kind of bigot who regularly calls black people ‘jigaboos’ and who refers to immigrants as ‘feral humans.’ Surely, her proclamation that telling several non-white congresswomen to go back to where they came from is not racist will impress everyone! If anyone ought to be the arbiter of what is and is not racist, it should be this one lady who once said that she loved racial profiling and didn’t mind if people called her a racist because of that.”

    And that is just what he did. […]

    Then there’s this precious moment, in which Hopkins retweeted some Nazis who were praising her for saying that racial profiling was a good thing. […]

    Hopkins is also quite known for going around yelling at various celebrities for not losing their pregnancy weight fast enough — a habit that, while not as appalling as these other statements, is still pretty gross. Basically, she just is an all around terrible person in every way it is humanly possible to be a terrible person.

    The icing on the cake, however, was Trump’s final Katie Hopkins retweet, in which he said he had no responsibility for the chant, but that the people chanting it were just very patriotic […]

    Unfortunately for Trump supporters, this kind of “patriotism” can also get them fired from their jobs. Why just this past week, a fella in Naperville, Illinois lost his job at a Bucky’s Convenience Store for telling some customers to go back to where they came from. […]

    Sadly for this “patriot,” Trump led him to believe that this is a perfectly acceptable and patriotic way to behave and treat people, and now he has no job.

    In case you were considering giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps he doesn’t even know who she [Katie Hopikins] is… well, it turns out he’s been a fan for a while. […]

    Lots of Twitter and video excerpts at the link.

  58. says

    Internal drug company emails show indifference to the opioid epidemic.

    […] In January 2009, Borelli [Victor Borelli, a national account manager for Mallinckrodt] told Cochrane [Steve Cochrane, the vice president of sales for KeySource Medical] in another email that 1,200 bottles of oxycodone 30 mg tablets had been shipped.

    “Keep ’em comin’!” Cochrane responded. “Flyin’ out of there. It’s like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are. . .”

    Borelli responded: “Just like Doritos keep eating. We’ll make more.” […]

    Washington Post link

  59. says

    An excerpt from an article published by WIRED magazine:

    […] As the astronauts began the first stage of their descent, the engine ignited and the computer slotted the lander into an elliptical orbit that brought them within 50,000 feet of the surface. From there, Aldrin keyed in a new program, dropping the lander from orbit into a contact course with the moon.

    For the next three minutes, the cratered lunar landscape grew closer, until, at around 46,000 feet, Armstrong rotated the vehicle, pointing the landing radar toward the surface while the astronauts turned to face Earth. The moon’s gravity is irregular, and to account for this, the astronauts had to take new measurements. With the void outside his window, Aldrin punched in a request to compare the lander’s calculated position with the reading from the radar.

    He was answered by a klaxon ringing in his earpiece. Aldrin hurriedly keyed in the two-digit code 5-9-Enter, which translated, roughly, as “display alarm.” The console responded with error code “1202.” Despite his months of simulations, Aldrin didn’t know what this one meant; Armstrong, equally baffled, radioed Mission Control for clarification. The stress in his voice was audible, but only later would the two men learn how bad things really were. In that critical moment, hurtling like a lawn dart toward the surface of the moon, the Apollo guidance computer had crashed. […]<

    what if the computer continued to behave unpredictably? In addition to running the spacecraft’s guidance and navigation systems, the computer assisted Armstrong with steering and control. Below a certain altitude—100 feet or so—an abort was no longer possible, and Armstrong would be forced to attempt a landing even if his computer was malfunctioning. He had little margin for error. On a hard crash landing, the astronauts might be killed; on a not-so-hard crash landing, the astronauts might survive, only to be stranded on the moon. In this nightmare scenario, Mission Control would bid Armstrong and Aldrin farewell, then cut communication as the two prepared to asphyxiate. Michael Collins, in the command module, would make the long journey back to Earth alone. […]

    Armstrong resumed assessing the course. Apollo 10 had reconnoitered the landing area, and Armstrong had spent hours studying those photographs, committing landmarks to memory. He’d noticed earlier that his trajectory was a little long, but before he could fully react, Aldrin queried the computer for altitude data. As before, he was answered by an alarm. The computer had crashed again. […]

    finally, at less than 2,000 feet above the lunar surface, the computer had its worst crash yet.

    The alarm blared and the lander’s readout went dead. For 10 long seconds, the console displayed nothing—no altitude data, no error codes, just three blank fields. Armstrong’s heart began to race, rising to 150 beats per minute, the same as that of a man at the end of a sprint. With the moonscape zipping by outside his window, he was the closest any human had ever been to another world, but, like a distracted driver, his attention was focused on the computer. […]

    The alarm subsided, but just seconds later came another reboot, another dropout of the display, this last one just 800 feet or so above the surface. That made five crashes in four minutes […]

  60. tomh says

    from Howe on the Court:
    Amy Howe
    Challengers respond in dispute over funding for border wall

    The battle over the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico continued to unfold today. Last week the federal government asked the Supreme Court to put on hold a district court’s order that prohibited the government from using $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds for construction of the wall. This afternoon the Sierra Club and the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, which filed the challenge to the use of the funds for construction of the wall, pushed back, urging the justices to deny the government’s request.

    In a 50-page brief filed shortly before 4 p.m. EDT, lawyers for the challengers told the justices that giving the government the relief it seeks would have the opposite effect from the general purpose of a stay, which is to maintain the status quo while the court considers the case. If a stay is granted and wall construction begins, the challengers warned ominously, “there will be no turning back.”

    The challengers emphasized that, once Congress had declined to allocate the funds for the wall that the administration had requested, the administration could not transfer funds from the Department of Defense to the Department of Homeland Security to accomplish the same thing. They recounted the history of the Trump administration’s request for $5.7 billion to fund 234 miles of construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. Congress denied that request, they stressed, allocating “only a fraction of the money” for construction of fencing in eastern Texas. “Eleven days later,” they continued, “DHS requested that DoD transfer billions to DHS for it to construct ‘approximately 218 miles of barriers’” outside of Texas – despite a “deliberate decision by Congress” not to fund those barriers.

    And the challengers questioned whether a stay was even necessary, citing several examples of what they characterized as the government’s delays on appeal. Moreover, they added, although Congress had allocated over $1.5 billion for barriers along the border during fiscal year 2018, as of the end of April of this year the government had only built 1.7 miles of fencing with that funding.

    Despite the abbreviated briefing schedule – Justice Elena Kagan, who serves as the circuit justice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, gave the challengers just one week to respond – there were four “friend of the court” briefs filed today – three supporting the challengers and one supporting the Trump administration. One brief supporting the challengers came from the U.S. House of Representatives. It told the justices that, through “a hard-fought political battle, Congress unmistakably refused to appropriate funding for the construction of a border wall in the amounts that the Administration sought, and the Administration is violating the Appropriations Clause by nevertheless spending money Congress refused to provide.”

  61. lumipuna says

    Lynna @98:

    Apparently, Trump claims he made a call to Swedish PM Stefan Löfven on Saturday, which achieved basically nothing, except they agreed to have “another call within 48 hours”. This sounds like a prelude to some tiresome phone harassment, although I half suspect these calls aren’t actually happening. It could be just pretension of doing something (that is, something remarkably ham-handed).

    When Trump was bragging about allegedly preparing for the first call, Löfven gave a brief statement (according to Finnish media) saying that he’d receive the call and try to explain Trump how justice works. By now, I haven’t seen any confirmation that the call happened.

  62. says

    lumipuna @102, a call between the two leaders was confirmed by the the prime minister’s press secretary, Toni Eriksson.

    […] Toni Eriksson, confirmed hours later that Lofven and Trump had a conversation that “was friendly and respectful and lasted about 20 minutes.”

    Lofven “made certain to emphasize the complete independence of the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts,” Eriksson said in a statement. “He underlined that in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings.”

    The two leaders may have a follow-up call, “but nothing has been booked or planned,” she said.

    Lofven had issued a statement earlier Saturday saying he would be glad to speak with Trump about A$AP Rocky’s detention but giving the same warning about his government’s unwillingness to interfere.

    “I understand that President Trump has a personal interest in the case,” the prime minister said before they spoke. “He has expressed the desire for a conversation with me, which is certainly positive.”

    Rocky has been behind bars while Swedish police investigate the fight in Stockholm he allegedly was in before appearing at a music festival. Videos published on social media appear to show a person being violently thrown onto the ground by Rocky. A defense lawyer has said it was self-defense. […]

    https://www.apnews.com/ddca1331200e4408ad3d83797b90b4b7

  63. says

    Ripples of bullshit and violence are emanating from Trump’s racist tweets and comments about four congresswomen.

    A policeman in Gretna, Lousiana made a Facebook post last week suggesting that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) should be shot.

    The Times-Picayune reported this weekend that police officer Charlie Rispoli had posted a threatening message about Ocasio-Cortez, who used to work as a bartender, on his Facebook page.

    “This vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” Rispoli wrote in a caption above a fake article headlined with “Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget: ‘We Pay Soldiers Too Much’”

    The cop seemed livid about the article, even though the site Taters Gonna Tate describes itself as a “satire” website and Ocasio-Cortez has never said that soldiers get paid “too much.” […]

    “Whether you agree or disagree with the message of these elected officials and how frustrated you may or may not get, this certainly is not the type of thing that a public servant should be posting,” he [Gretna city police chief Arthur Lawson] continued.

    However, Lawson said that any punishment Rispoli may get for the post will not be made public. [Why not!?]

    The incident highlights how several members of law enforcement have taken to social media to smear the progressive congresswoman.

    Earlier this month, ProPublica exposed a secret Facebook group made up of over 9,000 former and current Border Patrol officials featuring with racist and misogynist memes of not only migrants, but Ocasio-Cortez as well. One image depicted the congresswoman having sex with a migrant, while another portrayed President Donald Trump forcing her to give him oral sex.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/louisiana-police-cop-suggest-aoc-shot-facebook-post

    “The cop seemed livid about the article, even though the site Taters Gonna Tate describes itself as a “satire” website and Ocasio-Cortez has never said that soldiers get paid ‘too much.'” Yes. Many of the so-called patriots that support Trump are posting false information to justify the fact that they are promoting violence against some congresswomen.

  64. says

    Team Trump’s favorite white supremacist in the White House, went on morning news programs today and tried to defend Trump’s hypocrisy and racism. It didn’t go well, not even on Fox News.

    Stephen Miller, a top White House adviser said to be the architect of the administration’s cruel anti-immigrant policies, went on Fox News Sunday […]

    Host Chris Wallace began the interview by asking Miller about Trump’s recent tweets attacking Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and demanding that they go back to their home countries (Omar was born in Somalia and came to the United States as a child, the other three are natural-born citizens). Miller responded that the president isn’t a racist because the jobless rate has been falling for racial minorities.

    “I think the term ‘racist,’ Chris, has become a label that is too often deployed by left/Democrats in this country simply to try to silence and punish and suppress people they disagree with, speech that they don’t want to hear,” Miller began, asserting that Trump “has been a president for all Americans” because of “historically low black unemployment rates, historically low Hispanic unemployment rates,” and his crackdown on immigration “to protect safety, security, rising wages for all American citizens.”

    Wallace responded that Trump’s claims that Mexican immigrants are mostly rapists and drug dealers and his proposed total ban on Muslims were “not protecting the American people” but “playing the race card.”

    After Miller tried to change the subject to criminal gang members, Wallace shut him down, reminding him that Trump had pushed racist “birther” attacks on Barack Obama. Miller likened those efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the former president to questions that were once raised about John McCain. Wallace quickly fact-checked him, noting that concerns surrounding the late Arizona senator were not racial, but based on the 2008 nominee’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone.

    Miller then argued that questioning people’s Americanism is okay as long as you don’t intend it to be racist.

    Wallace also fact-checked Miller when he attempted to claim Trump had been “clear” that he disagreed with his supporters’ racist chant — repeating his own attacks on Omar and demanding she be sent back to Somalia.

    “No, he was clear after the fact,” he responded. “He let it go on for 13 seconds and [it] was only when it diminished that he started talking again.” Wallace noted that Trump “said nothing there or in his tweet after that rally that indicated any concern about the chant.”

    Wallace also pointed out that Trump has criticized the four lawmakers for comments he deemed critical of America, yet attacked the nation, and Obama, with comments that were far more negative. “President Obama is ignorant, this country is killers, on and on.”

    Miller attempted to spin a “fundamental distinction” between “people who think we need to lean into and strengthen American’s core values” and “people who think we need to turn America into Venezuela.” But Wallace again responded with Trump’s own quotes that were explicit attacks on America.

    “I’ve never called any of his tweets racist,” Wallace admonished Miller. “But there’s no question he is stoking racial divisions.”

    Think Progress link

  65. says

    From Senator Cory Booker:

    The reality is, this is a guy [Trump] who is worse than a racist. He is actually using racist tropes and racial language for political gains, trying to use this as a weapon to divide our nation against itself.

    This is somebody who is very similar to George Wallace, to racists who use — he’s using the exact same language.

    As somebody texted me during [Trump’s] rallies, I have seen this before — in black and white. And now I’m seeing it again decades later, where I thought our country was beyond this. I’m seeing this in full color.

  66. says

    Violence done in Trump’s name:

    A New York man charged with murdering the alleged boss of the Gambino Mafia family believed he was carrying out a mission on behalf of […] Trump, his lawyer said in court documents, according to the New York Times.

    Anthony Comello of Staten Island allegedly shot and killed Francesco “Frankie Boy” Cali outside of Cali’s home in March, which law enforcement initially suspected was the opening salvo in a turf war after decades of relative piece between New York’s five major families.

    However, according to a filing from his attorney, Robert C. Gottlieb, Comello had no affiliations with the Mafia and instead believed Cali was an agent of the “deep state” and believed he was authorized by Trump to arrest him. Gottlieb said that Comello had brought handcuffs with him and only shot Cali after he refused to submit to a citizen’s arrest and reached for his waistband.

    Gottlieb, who sought to prove in the filing that Comello was not liable by reason of insanity, wrote that his client was a subscriber to the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, which claims that Trump is secretly working against a powerful network of pedophiles that control world institutions, according to the Times.

    “Mr. Comello’s support for ‘QAnon’ went beyond mere participation in a radical political organization,” Gottlieb wrote. “It evolved into a delusional obsession.” […]

    Gottlieb wrote that his client also contacted federal marshals at Manhattan’s Federal District Court to ask them to aid him in capturing Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), believing they were nearby, according to the Times. Law enforcement confirmed both incidents. […]

    The Hill link

    How many of Trump’s followers are “not liable by reason of insanity”? Seems like a stretch to claim insanity. Cult-like behavior, yes.

  67. says

    A Royal Navy warship tried to stop Iran from seizing a British tanker, leaked audio reveals. Iran took it anyway.

    […] In recordings obtained by the shipping consultancy Dryad Global and posted on its website Sunday, a member of the Revolutionary Guard is heard ordering the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker to divert course toward Iran.

    “Alter your course,” the man says. “If you obey you will be safe.”

    A British naval officer interrupts, telling the Stena Impero that it has the right to proceed through the waterway.

    “Under international law your passage must not be impeded, obstructed or hampered,” he says.

    The British officer then addresses the Iranian: “Please confirm that you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena.” […]

    Soon after the exchange was recorded, Iranian commandos wearing balaclavas brazenly descended from a helicopter by rope onto the deck of the tanker, as Iranian fastboats closed in by sea, video posted by Iranian media shows. No British warships were in sight.

    On Sunday evening, Iran’s Press TV showed footage of the Stena Impero at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, flying an Iranian flag. There was no sign of its 23-member crew, most of whom are Indian nationals. Iranian media quoted Iranian officials on Sunday as saying the crew is safe. […]

    Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.

    Islamic State militants who escaped the defeat of their caliphate in Syria earlier this year have been slipping across the border into Iraq, bolstering a low-level insurgency the group is now waging across the central and northern part of the country, according to security officials.

    About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq over the past eight months, most of them in the aftermath of the caliphate’s collapse in March, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises Iraq’s government and foreign aid agencies.

    These fighters, mostly Iraqis who followed the Islamic State into Syria, are now returning home to join militant cells that have been digging into rugged rural areas, sustained by intimate knowledge of the local terrain, including concealed tunnels and other hiding places. […]

    the Islamic State remains steadfast. “The war is not finished yet,” said the narrator of a gruesome video released last month, which included footage of nighttime assassinations. “There are many chapters between us and you, and they will be written with blood.”

    What we don’t need now is Trump, (and John Bolton FFS), ratcheting up tensions in the Middle east.

    However, Trump has sent troops to Saudi Arabia.

    With Iranian military threats in mind, the United States is sending American forces, including fighter aircraft, air defense missiles and likely more than 500 troops, to a Saudi air base that became a hub of American air power in the Middle East in the 1990s but was abandoned by Washington after it toppled Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced the basing agreement Friday without mentioning details.

    Senior American defense officials said some U.S. troops and Patriot air defense missile systems have already arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base, south of Riyadh, where the troops have been preparing for the arrival of aircraft later this summer as well as additional troops. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to provide details not publicly announced. […]

    “This movement of forces provides an additional deterrent, and ensures our ability to defend our forces and interests in the region from emergent, credible threats,” Central Command said. “This movement creates improvement of operational depth and logistical networks. U.S. Central Command continually assesses force posture in the region and is working with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia authorities to base U.S. assets at the appropriate locations.”

    Putting U.S. combat forces back in Saudi Arabia, after an absence of more than a decade, adds depth to the regional alignment of U.S. military power, which is mostly in locations on the Persian Gulf that are more vulnerable to Iranian missile attack.

    But it also introduces a political and diplomatic complication for the Trump administration, accused by critics of coddling the Saudis even after the murder last fall of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. Many in Congress now question the decades-old U.S.-Saudi security alliance and oppose major new arms sales to the kingdom. […]

    Military Times link

  68. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #94:

    @ 91

    I’m confused… when did Oliver Stone, of all people, become a fascist?

    I don’t know! He made some great films. JFK was already worrisome. Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States was for me unwatchable.

    I don’t have much knowledge about it, but it seems to me a case of ideological stagnation and hardening (against anything believed to be represented by the US and in favor of anything claiming to represent its antithesis) combined with authoritarianism and an extreme weakness for conspiratorial thinking. Putin and his regime are so immensely different from, say, the character of Carl Fox in Wall Street that Stone’s Putin-boosting seems astonishing. However, he appears to be a sexist, rather an asshole, and a surprisingly superficial thinker. While some of his films would appear to indicate a greater depth of thought and emotion, aspects of his personality draw him to, and make him ripe for exploitation by, a manipulator like Putin. Initially making his name as an artist by opposing everything Putin obviously stands for, he’s now become a Putin shill and lapdog and disgusting propagandist. My two cents.

  69. says

    Some recent Stone tweets:

    “Serious investigation of #CIA, #FBI, #NSA – specifically @JohnBrennan, @Comey, and #Clapper – needed now more than ever. The source of #Russiagate needs to be pinned down in incredibly irresponsible #IntelligenceReport of Jan ’17- the WMD of this decade!”

    “It seems like a dream that @TulsiGabbard could become #President, but I’d still love to see it happen. Tulsi vs. Trump in 2020 — what a debate! And I bet you the lady would win.” (According to WP, he voted for Jill Stein in 2016.)

    “We may hate @realDonaldTrump, but #MSM pushing #Russiagate narrative full of holes more destructive. Down this path leads to Trump victory in 2020 and possible #nuclear confrontation.”

    He hasn’t for some reason linked to his interview with Putin the other day (linked at my link above), which includes:

    …Oliver Stone: You know, young people in America sometimes, they are different.

    Vladimir Putin: Young people are different everywhere.

    Oliver Stone: They are spoiled to some degree in the western world.

    Vladimir Putin: It depends. The older generation always says that about the younger generation.

    Oliver Stone: Yeah, I know, I know. That’s true. But I don’t know what is going on with the American culture. It’s very strange right now.

    Vladimir Putin: Is there an American culture?

    Oliver Stone: As you know, I’ve been very rebel all my life. Still am. And I have to tell you, I’m shocked by some of the behaviours and the thinking of the new generation. It takes so much for granted. And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.

    Vladimir Putin: They live too well. They have nothing to think about.

    Oliver Stone: Yeah, but it’s not a healthy culture.

    Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

    Oliver Stone: Years ago when we were talking about homosexuality, you said that in Russia we don’t propagate it.

    Vladimir Putin: Not exactly. We have a law banning propaganda among minors.

    Oliver Stone: Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.

    Vladimir Putin: It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this….

    What an absolute horror.

  70. F.O. says

    Something that has frustrated me for a long time is how facts and arguments are worthless against the authoritarian mindset.
    Because of this, I find <href=””>this thread by Tim Wise particularly useful, especially since it comes from someone with actual experience.

    TL;DR: don’t waste your time with authoritarians. They won’t vote for you anyway.
    Instead, tell your story so that it energizes your base, win by increasing voter turnout.

  71. F.O. says

    (Yes, I totally am a professional web dev -_-)

    Something that has frustrated me for a long time is how facts and arguments are worthless against the authoritarian mindset.
    Because of this, I find this thread by Tim Wise particularly useful, especially since it comes from someone with actual experience.

    TL;DR: don’t waste your time with authoritarians. They won’t vote for you anyway.
    Instead, tell your story so that it energizes your base, win by increasing voter turnout.

  72. says

    Guardian – “Alan Duncan quits as minister before Boris Johnson arrival at No 10”:

    Alan Duncan has resigned as a Foreign Office minister ahead of the expected arrival of Boris Johnson at Downing Street, the latest in a string of ministers to pre-emptively quit their jobs in protest at his likely direction as prime minister.

    The departure of Duncan followed the announcements on Sunday by Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and David Gauke, the justice secretary, that they will quit on Wednesday, just before Johnson formally becomes prime minister.

    Other cabinet ministers have been tipped to follow, including Rory Stewart, the international development secretary who was also in the Tory leadership race. Duncan’s decision is arguably even less of a surprise given his criticisms of Johnson, with whom he spent two years working at the Foreign Office.

    In a letter to Theresa May, which Duncan tweeted a photo of, the MP said he was resigning ahead of the changeover of PM “in order to be free to express my views in advance of you relinquishing office”.

    In the letter, Duncan hailed the work of the Foreign Office, adding: “It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every working day beneath the dark cloud of Brexit.”…

  73. says

    Elizabeth Warren – “The Coming Economic Crash — And How to Stop It”:

    I warned about an economic crash years before the 2008 crisis, but the people in power wouldn’t listen. Now I’m seeing serious warning signs in the economy again — and I’m calling on regulators and Congress to act before another crisis costs America’s families their homes, jobs, and savings.

    I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 crisis growing, I rang the alarm as loud as I could.

    When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again. I see a manufacturing sector in recession. I see a precarious economy that is built on debt — both household debt and corporate debt — and that is vulnerable to shocks. And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble.

    Warning lights are flashing. Whether it’s this year or next year, the odds of another economic downturn are high — and growing. Congress and regulators should act immediately to tamp down these threats before it’s too late.

    Much more at the link.

    This is a bizarre take from the Politico reporter covering Warren’s campaign: “Making this prediction public is a political gamble. If no crash occurs and most Americans feel good about the economy in Nov. 2020 then this post could be a liability. But if the economy does take a downturn, Warren would be in a position to benefit politically.”

    She believes, on the basis of the evidence, that a crash is coming in the medium term. Her point is that she doesn’t want it to occur, at any point, and is arguing that her policies would prevent it. Since she knows they won’t be implemented before November 2020, her best-case scenario is that it doesn’t come before then so that she can put policies in place to avert it. She’s not making any prediction that the crash – not just a “downturn” – will happen before the election.

  74. says

    OK, reading again and Warren does say “this year or next” and “downturn,” but I think because she wants to encourage a sense of urgency. My point that it’s bizarre to reduce this to the political implications of the prediction rather than her real concern about another economic catastrophe and what needs to be done to avert it stands.

  75. says

    CNN – “Ukraine’s comedian president won big in parliamentary elections. It will strengthen his hand against Putin”:

    Television comedian Volodymyr Zelensky seized headlines when he swept Ukraine’s presidential elections in May. Now the Ukrainian president appears set to dramatically refashion the country’s political landscape.

    According to preliminary results posted Monday by Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, Zelensky’s Servant of the People party looks poised to win a possible outright majority in parliamentary elections that were held Sunday.

    According to the CEC, his newly formed party won 42.5% of the party-list vote, well ahead of several other parties that need to pass the 5% threshold to gain seats in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. And his party also appears to be sweeping up votes in individual constituencies, racking up another 125 seats.

    The results are not final: As of Monday morning, around 55% of the votes had been counted. But it no longer appears that Zelensky will need to enter into a coalition to form a government.

    And that represents a stunning turn of events in this fractious post-Soviet republic.

    As president, Zelensky will have to contend with a powerful, nuclear-armed neighbor led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Putin has made clear that he does not see Ukrainian statehood as something natural or legitimate.

    In a recent conversation with American film director Oliver Stone — who has endorsed the Kremlin’s view that the Maidan Revolution was in fact a Western-orchestrated coup d’etat — Putin said that some form of reunification between Russia and Ukraine was inevitable, given the intertwined histories of the two Slavic nations.

    “I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are actually one people,” Putin said.

    “One people, two nations?” Stone asked.

    “One nation, in fact,” Putin replied.

    Whatever thoughts Putin may have about the legitimacy of Ukrainian statehood, Sunday’s parliamentary election appeared to be a firm rebuke. The pro-Russian Opposition Platform party came in a distant second to Zelensky’s party, garnering 12.9% of the party-list vote, according to the latest preliminary results.

    And that gives Zelensky a much more unified front when it comes to negotiating with Putin.

    Already, the two leaders have discussed a potential prisoner swap, and a resounding parliamentary victory may — potentially — give Zelensky a stronger hand when it comes to playing poker with Putin.

    Guardian – “Puerto Rico protesters to block highway as governor remains defiant”:

    Puerto Rico is braced for more massive protests as the US territory’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, clings to power despite resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive Party on Sunday and announcing he will not run for re-election next year.

    Hundreds of thousands will take part in a general strike across the island on Monday as protesters plan to flood one of the island’s busiest highways. Demonstrations demanding Rosselló’s resignation have gripped the island since hundreds of pages of leaked text messages between the governor and 11 members of his inner circle were published on 13 July.

    The messages contain homophobic and sexist slurs against political rivals and cultural figures. They also contain a joke about dead bodies during Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017.

    Organizers have branded the planned shutdown “660,510 + 1”, representative of the number of people who voted for Rosselló plus one, in order to reject the governor’s suggestion that he is not resigning due to his popular mandate.

    Rosselló and the 11 others implicated in the message scandal have been issued summonses by the island’s justice department. While a number of those in the chat group, including the former secretary of state Luís Rivera Marín, have resigned over the affair, Rosselló has maintained the messages contained nothing illegal.

    The administration has been plagued by corruption scandals since Maria and has hardened an austerity drive, under an unelected fiscal control board overseen in Washington, amid a multibillion-dollar debt crisis.

    Shortly before the text message scandal erupted, the FBI arrested a number of administration officials and contractors – including Rosselló’s former education secretary – over allegations of corruption and misappropriation of $15.5m (£12.5m) in federal funds apportioned to Puerto Rico after Maria.

    Many protesters have carried placards with the number 4,645, the estimated death toll in the wake of Maria, according to a Harvard research paper. Rosselló’s administration had initially recorded Maria’s death toll at 64, before eventually revising the number to 2,975.

    The island continues to reel from the effects of the devastating hurricane amid a faltering recovery effort led by the Trump administration.

  76. says

    Excellent thread by Jay Rosen:

    …Summarizing my tips for the American press: Suspend normal relations with the Trump regime. Try it this way: his actions are reported, but he is not the main character. Move the Truth Sandwich up on your menu. Open a Gaslight Desk. Anchor your journalism in a citizens agenda….

  77. blf says

    Illinois Republicans remove offensive Facebook post about Jihad Squad:

    […]
    An Illinois Republican group has apologized and removed from its Facebook page a post that showed images of four Democratic congresswomen who have been criticized by Donald Trump and referred to them as the Jihad Squad.

    The post appeared on Friday night on the Republican County Chairmen’s Association page. […]

    Captions said Political jihad is their game” and “If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology, you’re racist.

    […]

    Mark Shaw, president of the Republican group, condemned what he called an unauthorized post and apologized to anyone offended.

    […]

    The Grauniad doesn’t quote from (or link to) the so-called apology, and I cannot find it on their website (which I will not link to). It seems to be on their Farcebork page, and reads, in part: This unauthorized posting is an unfortunate distraction from the serious debate surrounding the policies advocated by these four socialist members of the United States House of Representatives of which I strongly disagree. Republican opposition to their proposed ‘Green New Deal’, elimination of all private health insurance, open borders and anti-Semitic posturing has nothing to do with these Representative’s races or religion. As expected, not sincere at all. Fascist posturing.

  78. blf says

    Not political at all, but I’m mildly amused by this France24 article, France braces for another heatwave as record temperature revised up to 46°C. The first half is about the headline’s impending heatwave and includes sensible advice; the second half is all about an even more important (tongue-in-cheek!) subject, the impact on this year’s vin production.

    (Currently, locally, it’s only about 30°C, albeit the forecasts I’m seeing suggest it may reach about 33°C (c.92°F) later in the week. The record-setting location is some 100-plus km away, not too far from where I used to live.)

  79. blf says

    Rather off-topic… I’m using Firefox 68.0 on Linux, and articles at the LA Times site do not scroll vertically (e.g., Under Trump, the U.S. emphasis on human rights abroad is shifting toward religious protections), no matter whether I use the mouse’s scroll-wheel or the arrow-keys. They do scroll vertically in Opera 62.0 (please do not even suggest I try Chrome). The main page vertically scrolls, but most(? all?) articles do not. Any ideas?

    This started quite recently (last few weeks), but I’ve no idea if it’s due to Firefox or the site, both of which have changed / updated in the same time-frame.

    Some poking about on the ‘Net, and in the site’s CSS, makes me suspect the culprit is body {transition: opacity ease-in 0.2s; } body[unresolved] {opacity: 0; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: relative; }, but I’m inept with Firefox’s CSS Inspector / Editor feature and cannot prove it. It doesn’t help I’ve forgotten most CSS. (My guess, partly supported by comments on the ‘Net, is Opera (and whatever browsers the LA Times used to test) ignores the apparently-silly body overflow:hidden, whereas Firefox does not.)

  80. says

    SC @117, that report from Politico highlights one of the things I dislike about political/horse race reporting: it only looks at the near term. It’s as if political reporters are teaching readers and viewers to have a short attention span … or at the very least, to make decisions that are lacking in perspective.

    Elizabeth Warren is the opposite of all that.

  81. blf says

    ‘Our paychecks bounced’: US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close:

    Blackjewel files for chapter 11 in a move critics say is increasingly used to avoid paying workers what they are owed

    [… Both Blackjewel mining and its affiliate Revelation Energy] filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, a financial move that has implications far beyond just laying off staff as the ex-workers now wait for bankruptcy proceedings to play out. Critics say the move is a ploy increasingly used in the struggling industry to avoid paying workers what they are owed.

    [… Missy Cole, the wife of one of the laid-off miners, told the Graunaid] “We have absolutely no access to our bank accounts. Those accounts are still negative, and falling deeper into the negative daily. We cannot even touch his 401(k) to withdraw money to survive on without the signature of the Blackjewel mining CEO or his personnel.”

    One of the largest coalmining operators in the United States, Blackjewel abruptly shut its mines after filing for bankruptcy, jeopardizing the jobs of about 1,700 workers in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming.

    Workers are still unsure if they will be permitted to return to work and for how long, if they will be paid for bounced checks and what will happen to their health insurance and benefits.

    […]

    According to the bankruptcy filing, Blackjewel mining has at least $500m owed in liabilities. A worker in Wyoming has filed a class action lawsuit against the company, which claims the company failed to give employees’ proper notice, and wages and benefits earned before and after the bankruptcy filing.

    Blackjewel is the third large US coal company to declare bankruptcy since May 2019, despite promises from Donald Trump that he would save the coal industry and its jobs.

    Since Trump took office, about 2,000 jobs have been added to the coal industry, which currently employs an estimated 53,000 workers. The industry has shed more than 30,000 jobs in the past decade, driven by automation and changes in the energy industry, as renewable sources recently surpassed coal production for the first time ever in the US […]

    Through filing bankruptcies, attorneys who have represented coalminers argue current laws allow operators to avoid obligations they have to workers.

    “It is especially egregious where Blackjewel bounces paychecks to the employees. This compounds with the loss of health insurance and other benefits,” said Jack Jacobs, an Alabama-based attorney […]

    [… Recently resigned Blackjewel CEO Jeff] Hoops did not respond to a request for comment.

    [… more about the privately-owned companies… Attorney Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council in Wyoming] said: “Hoops was buying up distressed assets from bankruptcies and companies trying to offload mines that were no longer economically viable, and basically created a coal company with those assets.”

    […]

    She added: “None of these mines were making money and he was paying himself before any of the lenders, and basically running these mines at very low cost.”

    [… Hoops’] multimillion-dollar plans to build a resort in West Virginia will reportedly not be impacted by the bankruptcy. In a letter to workers, Hoops claimed no one is hurting more than me as a result of the bankruptcy.

    [… Coalminer Jeffery Cochran said] “Some people have been denied unemployment which is owed to us. He didn’t pay into it for some people, but yet he can build a $30m resort, and doesn’t have to pay us.”

    […]

  82. says

    Trump is now calling Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — known as the “squad,” “Racist.”

    The “Squad” is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!

    Shades of the debate moment in which Trump said, “No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

    From the readers comments:

    Presumably he will soon excoriate these women for paying porn actresses for sex.
    ——————
    “The more afraid I am, the more angry I get. The more angry I get, the more stupid I become”
    -Current Occupant-
    ——————
    I know you are but what am I. Nya, nya nya.

    This is our president.
    ——————
    Same shit different day. He does this all the time, does/says/supports something, gets called on it and pretended to walk it back/distance himself from it, and then the next day he’s back to claiming it was all his idea. Finally he accuses the people/portion of society he attacked of being the very thing he’s already proven himself to be (repeatedly).
    ——————–
    the man has dug under the terribly low bar I expect of him more times than I can count.
    ——————-
    Saying “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” doesn’t mean very much, since Trump is a slug.

  83. says

    From Eric Boehlert:

    […] Just last month, an NBC News report quoted Trump re-election chief Brad Parscale referencing “the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President.” Parscale’s claim was completely false, yet nowhere in the NBC report was that noted. That means Trump officials have largely been given a green light by the press to lie about the Mueller report, as reporters pretend Both Sides can be right about Mueller’s conclusions. They cannot. […]

    Link

  84. says

    Trump is trying to end court hearings entirely for immigrants:

    The Trump administration is dangerously expanding current policy that allows Immigration and Customs mass deportation agents to quickly sweep up and deport recently arrived undocumented immigrants, BuzzFeed News reports, and without giving them a chance to go in front of a judge to plead their case.

    Previously, “expedited removal” only applied to people who crossed the border without authorization within the previous two weeks and were within 100 miles of the border. Those migrants do not have the ability to go in front of a judge. “The new measure will apply to the entire country,” BuzzFeed News reports, and is expanding from 14 days to two years. This is “Papers, please” on steroids—and the effects will be devastating.

    “Imagine you’ve lived in the US for three years,” tweeted immigration attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “You’re arrested by ICE on your way to work, and an ICE officer tells you that unless you prove to him—right here, right now—that you’ve lived here for more than two years, you’re on the next plane out.”

    How many people carry those kinds of documents? How many times have you stepped out and realized you forgot your ID, but said it’ll be fine because you’ll be back home in an hour? We know who will be targeted, and it won’t be people who look like the Trumps: “By expanding ER in this way,” tweeted immigration attorney Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, “more noncitizens (or people who look like them) living peacefully in the U.S. will be targeted for removal without a day in court.”

    “Under this unlawful plan,” Omar Jadwat of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court.” The ACLU and others have already launched a lawsuit over another change that stomps on the right to asylum for many Central Americans and others—and they’re promising more legal action over this latest move. “We will sue to end this policy quickly,” Jadwat said.

    Link

  85. says

    Trump wants to profit off meeting with world leaders.

    He wants to host the G7 at his Doral golf club.

    […] If the summit were held there, it might be the single biggest windfall of Trump’s presidency for his businesses. Though he’s hosted individual foreign leaders in the past at Mar-a-Lago — and plenty have stayed at his hotel in Washington, D.C. — the G7 summit would bring leaders and their staff from the top economic powers in the world. Equipping the facility with the proper security for such a summit would surely come at great taxpayer expense.

    As a frame of reference, the United States last hosted the G7 in 2012, with President Barack Obama using Camp David as the location, which is already equipped to provide such security.

    The Miami Herald notes that Doral has actually been struggling since Trump bought it in 2012 — specifically because it bears his name. Though it’s still the biggest source of revenue for the Trump Organization, its profits dropped from $116 million in 2017 to $75 million in 2018, even as nearby competitors did not see such revenue declines. […]

  86. says

    Some people are using their platform to fight back against Trump’s racism:

    Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, just weeks after leading the United States to its latest Women’s World Cup championship, ripped President Donald Trump for his racist attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), including the “send her back” chants used by his supporters at a rally last week.

    “At every step it’s shocking,” Rapinoe said. “I hope people don’t stop being shocked by it all, because it’s truly the worst of the worst.” […]

    Rapinoe, who was in Charlotte on Saturday to attend an exhibition soccer match, said Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, “should be celebrated, if anything.”

    “To come here and be in Congress—to be the woman that she is, to be the leader that she is, to bring that different voice to the table—I think is something incredible,” Rapinoe told the Charlotte Observer. “Something that we need in this country to be better.” […]

  87. says

    From Wonkette:

    Hooray, Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday! […]

    In advance of the hearing, we are getting all kinds of reporting about what to expect and what Congress is doing to get ready. Did you know that, according to CNN, the Judiciary Committee is going to focus on Trump’s obstruction of justice, whereas the Intel Committee is going to focus on Trump and Russia? That’s quite a surprise to anybody who doesn’t have the foggiest idea what either of those committees does for a living! Meanwhile, the Republicans will be playing with their poo on live television and trying to get Mueller to admit that Hillary Benghazi Secret FBI Lovers Unmasking Seth Rich Comey Deep State Dossier Whitewater Travelgate Pizzagate Devin Nunes Is Smart.

    Or something. Here’s Mark Meadows, with a witty retort from Yr Wonkette:

    Democrats privately orchestrating the Mueller hearing this week to be a 2020 campaign event for the left.

    This isn’t about transparency. If it was, we’d be talking about the evidence of blatant FISA abuse, warrantless secret recordings, and declassifying documents.

    [From Evan Hurst] Hey Mark, if the conspiracy theories you found in Nunes’s butt are real, I’m sure Mueller would be willing to talk about them. Just give us some warning so we can get hilarious screenshots of Mueller’s facial reactions to your very serious questions, K?

    […] CNN reports that large-faced GOP moron Rep. Matt Gaetz says Robert Mueller is the “LeBron James of using 300 words to say absolutely nothing,” which says more about young Matthew’s difficulty with comprehension than it does about Mueller. Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is very worried Mueller is going to try to “embellish,” […]

    The Democrats, thank God, appear to have a plan, and have been studying A LOT for this test:

    Lawmakers are re-reading the Mueller report and watching his past congressional appearances, while committee staff are working to divide up the questions for lawmakers in a way that will be logical to millions of television viewers unlikely to have read the 448-page Mueller report. […]

    For the Judiciary Committee, the focus will reportedly be on five of the 18,000 instances of criminal obstruction Donald Trump committed in order to interfere with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and his campaign’s embrace of it, as laid out in Volume II of the Mueller Report. […] It would probably be good for them to also spend some time on the fact that Trump blatantly lied in his written answers to the take-home test Mueller gave him. Oh yeah, and it would be great if they ask some questions about the ongoing obstruction of justice being committed by Attorney General Bill Barr […]

    The Intel Committee, meanwhile, will focus on all kinds of Russia shit […] if they’re smart, they will really try to nail Mueller down on what was happening with Paul Manafort as the investigation came to a close, as Manafort broke his plea agreement, and so on. We are fairly certain that if Manafort hadn’t obstructed the investigation so much, there would have been a conspiracy charge. […]

    Oh yeah, and Intel ought to also ask about the counter-intel findings that came out of Mueller’s investigations, the ones Bill Barr has so resolutely tried to hide from the committee, findings that were not in the Mueller Report. […]

    America needs to hear it from Mueller precisely because Bill Barr, Donald Trump, most of the other elected Republicans in Washington, and the glue-munchers on Fox News and talk radio have been lying about what’s in the report, saying NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, when the report found many instances of obstruction and a veritable kilo-fuck of collusion and improper contacts.

    Or as House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler put it on Fox News this weekend:

    “We think it’s very important for the American people to hear directly what the facts are because this is a President who has violated the law six ways from Sunday,” Nadler told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “If anyone else had been accused of what the report finds the President had done, they would have been indicted.”

    Probably multiple times. […]

  88. says

    OMG, the cluelessness! The abject cluelessness.

    This is from Wisconsin Senator and nostalgic Republican, Ron Johnson:

    The whole “America love it or leave it” is not a new sentiment. Back in the ’60s, that wasn’t considered racist. I just find it very unfortunate that so many parts of our public debate right now are getting immediately stuck inside a racial framework.

    From Wonkette:

    […] “America, love it or leave it” is not a new sentiment. The Klan used it for all their racial terrorism needs. […] That’s why it’s interesting to see Johnson fondly recall the simpler, prejudice-free times of the 1960s. We thought conservatives hated the decade of free love and feminism. Now it’s the benchmark for racial harmony. White people barely consider slavery racist; we’re not sure they’re subject matter experts. They’re either not experiencing it or they’re actively promoting it. We’re not accusing Johnson of the latter, but he does sound like he missed the entire Civil Rights Movement.

    Historically, “love it or leave it” was a specific message and warning to marginalized groups: “Love it” was the country, government, and people actively oppressing them. “Leave it” usually happened suddenly at the end of a rope. Trump and Republicans today are covering a tune that Martin Luther King heard daily in the ’60s. The concern trolling over how King was stirring up “hatred” is similar to the pablum Johnson spouts about “healing the racial divide.” In both instances, the expectation is that unity is found only when minorities stop complaining and love America, racism and all. […]

  89. says

    And to think that Trump recently decided that the U.S. government should soften or remove sanctions against Huawei.

    Leaked documents reveal Huawei’s secret operations to build North Korea’s wireless network.

    Washington Post link

    Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese tech giant embroiled in President Trump’s trade war with China and blacklisted as a national security threat, secretly helped the North Korean government build and maintain the country’s commercial wireless network, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post and people familiar with the arrangement.

    Huawei partnered with a Chinese state-owned firm, Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., on a variety of projects there spanning at least eight years, according to past work orders, contracts and detailed spreadsheets taken from a database that charts the company’s telecom operations worldwide. The arrangement made it difficult to discern Huawei’s involvement.

    The spreadsheets were provided to The Post by a former Huawei employee who considered the information to be of public interest. The former employee spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing a fear of retribution. Two additional sets of documents were shared by others with a desire to see the material made public. They also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Taken together, the revelations raise questions about whether Huawei, which has used American technology in its components, violated U.S. export controls to furnish equipment to North Korea […]

    the Justice Department has charged Huawei with bank fraud and violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran. The company has pleaded not guilty. […]

    A current senior State Department official, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, summarized the administration’s frustration.

    “All of this fits into a general concern we have about corporate responsibility and a company like Huawei that is not trustworthy because of its company culture and numerous incidents indicating a willingness to evade or outright violate laws,” the official said. “Working with regimes like North Korea, who deprive individuals on a regular basis of their basic human rights, raises concern.”

    Much more at the link. Example of the level of detail provided:

    In internal company documents and among employees, Huawei referred to certain countries, such as North Korea, Iran and Syria, by code. North Korea, for instance, was listed as A9 in the project database.

    “You’d run a query on the projects and you’d see Germany, United States, Mexico. Then instead of a country name, you’d see A5, A7, A9, and you’d say, ‘What’s that?’ ” said the former employee. “I assume it’s because they didn’t want to say ‘Iran’ or ‘Syria.’ ”

    In a semiprivate online forum used by Huawei employees, one man reminisced last year about how he helped launch Koryolink in “A9” during the summer of 2008, before rushing back to China to offer tech support for the Beijing Olympics. In parentheses, the man wrote “chaoxian,” which means North Korea, in Roman letters — an apparent effort to avoid mentioning the country by name using Chinese characters. […]

  90. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 110

    Remember, I grew up on the Right, and Stone one held up as one of those examples of ”Communist, Anti-American Hollywood” by shit-for-brains like Rush Limbaugh. Yeah, his JFK conspiracy theories were silly, but I thought he came from the Left wing, especially on matters like war and capitalism. Hearing him support fash scum like Putin is… incongruent to say the least.

    Maybe the older you get the more reactionary you become. That’s why I’ve given my friends instructions to mercy-kill me if I ever start to sound like a theist or capitalist ever again.

  91. blf says

    In teh NKofE, John Crace in the Grauniad, Jeremy Hunt grateful for moral support — if only it had come earlier:

    […]
    It could have been a rather lonely outing for Jeremy Hunt. With Mark Field suspended after grabbing an Extinction Rebellion protester by the neck and Alan Duncan having chosen to jump before he was pushed, the Foreign Office is currently running a skeleton staff of junior ministers.

    It’s also possible that, come Wednesday evening, Boris Johnson will choose to punish Hunt for having the temerity to stand against him in the leadership contest by elbowing him out of a job. At which point the Foreign Office will be staffed by almost no ministers who have any idea what they are doing. Just as well we’re not on the brink of war with Iran, then.

    […]

    Hunt was in the Commons to give a statement on the seizure last Friday of the British-owned tanker, Stena Impero, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. An act that had come as no surprise to anyone after the UK had seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar two weeks previously with oil destined for Syria.

    No surprise to anyone, that is, except for the entire Conservative party, which had fondly imagined that the rest of the world would suspend everything it was doing while it indulged itself with a six-week Boris-inspired onanism spree.

    Seizing a tanker just wasn’t on, Hunt insisted. And to do so during a Tory leadership contest was completely below the belt — something only a deeply untrustworthy country would do. But now someone had told him about the tanker, he was determined to do something. First, he was going to tell the Iranians that he was very, very cross with them.

    Next he was happy to report that the Department for Transport had upgraded the security threat level in the strait of Hormuz. Something that might have been done a fortnight ago had Chris Grayling been paying attention. Though that would have required a change of character. Bizarrely, there are even rumours Failing Grayling might actually keep his job as transport secretary. For the comedy value, if nothing else. In which case, he really will be the gift that keeps on giving.

    After announcing that the UK would be trying to rustle up a taskforce with other EU countries — Britain only has about two seaworthy ships left in its navy, so acting on its own isn’t really an option — in the hope that things quietened down a little, Hunt sat down, fearing the worst. Which never really came. Instead of the pile-on from Labour and irate Tories about the government dozing off on the job, almost everyone […] queued up to thank the Lord that it had happened on Hunt’s watch rather than when Johnson was foreign secretary. In which case we’d probably still have no idea a tanker had even been seized.

    […] Hunt would be history in 48 hours and Johnson would be in charge. Free to dump this wishy-washy alliance with the EU and join the Trump-led US Praetorian Guard. With any luck, we’d be at war within weeks. That should take people’s minds off Brexit.

    And, Nicola Jennings in the Grauniad, On Boris Johnson’s entry into No 10 (cartoon). As some of the readers point out, it’s ironic Hunt is asking for European help (for a self-manufactured crisis) whilst also supporting brexit.

  92. blf says

    Some snippets from the Grauniad’s live States blog (not necessarily in the order in which they occur in the blog):

    This is how AOC responded to Trump’s attack yesterday:

    We fight to guarantee:
    – healthcare
    – public college & student loan forgiveness
    – enviro protections
    – living wages
    – basic human rights
    We don’t take a dime of corporate money, either.

    You:
    – Jack up drug prices
    – Appoint Betsy DeVos to scam student loans
    – Hurt immigrant kids

    […]
    A new report confirmed that the Trump administration has not actually built a single mile of new border fence after 30 months in office. The Washington Examiner pressed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the matter and received a statement saying all the fencing completed since Trump took office was “in place of dilapidated designs”, since existing fence needed to be replaced […]

    The scrutiny from the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet, suggests that Trump and his 2020 campaign are likely to face ongoing questions from some rightwing pundits and supporters about his failure to follow through on his signature policy promise.

    […]

    In the wake of the report, CBP and the Trump administration today have continued to claim that the government has built new border wall. But the areas in question appear to be the sections identified in the Examiner story, where fencing already existed.

    Betsy DeVos, the billionaire US education secretary, has seen her and her family’s profits soar after Trump’s tax reform legislation, according to a new CNBC analysis out today.

    […]

    Business leaders and corporations have, as expected, earned massive benefits from Trump’s tax policy. That apparently includes DeVos, whose total income had a valuation of at least $33m in 2018 through assets listed on her most recent public filing, CNBC reported.

    A DeVos family spokesman, Nick Wasmiller, disputed in a statement to CNBC whether the financial gains could be attributed to Trump’s policies, but did offer a vague claim that the Trump administration has had a positive impact on the investments of all Americans […]

    Joe Kaeser, the CEO of the German industrial giant Siemens, wrote in response to Trump’s racist comments on “the Squad” that he is turning the US presidency [sic] into “the face of racism and exclusion.”

    […]

    Kaeser has previously called out nationalism in his native Germany and pulled out of a Saudi Arabian conference over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  93. KG says

    As expected, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – Trump’s Mini-Me* – has been chosen by the Tory Party members as party leader. He is expected to become Prime Minister tomorrow, when May will resign and advise the Queen to call on Johnson to form a government. I think the probability of a no-deal crash-out now approaches certainty. This is by no means a general view – many appear convinced that Johnson will renege on his promise the UK will leave the EU by 31st October, others (among them Molly Scott-Cato, the Green MEP, who I talked to at a party in London on Saturday) that Parliament will prevent a crash-out. Of course Johnson has no particular attachment to Brexit, or to keeping his promises, or indeed to anything other than the personal interests of Johnson – but I think he will believe those are best served by keeping his promise on this occasion. And it’s very hard for Parliament to stop him, even if it had the will. My confidence in the “Tory rebels” holding out is near zero – Gauke, supposedly one of the convinced opponents of a crash-out, has already said he would not back a no-confidence motion to prevent no-deal. And once Johnson becomes PM, even in the event of a successful no-confidence motion, he would continue as caretaker, and advise the Queen on when to hold a general election. So it would be within his power to postpone this until after the end of October**, refuse to ask for another extension, and run on an “I delivered Brexit!” ticket. Brexit Party voters would flock back to the Tories, while both Labour and the Remain parties (except the SNP) would be left stranded. I did for some while think he would go for an immediate general election – but now I don’t think he’ll do that unless he can buy off Farage in advance. He also has the card of a war scare to play – I doubt he actually wants a war with Iran, but he can use the prospect of one to whip up nationalist-racist fervour, and will have not the slightest compunction in doing so.

    *As a commenter on The Grauniad said – Johnson is what you get if you send Trump to Eton.

    **This might be hard if there was a no-confidence motion this week, but there’s no sign of that.

  94. says

    TPM – “Trump Administration Plans On Kicking About 3 Million People Off Food Benefits”:

    President Donald Trump’s administration’s planned cuts to food assistance benefits would throw millions of people off the program.

    The Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that it would be closing a “loophole” in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program that allows recipients to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    According to CNN, the move could end up kicking more than 3 million people off the program.

    The administration claims the loophole allows people to get assistance “when they clearly don’t need it.”

    The administration claims the proposal will move participants “towards self-sufficiency,” a common refrain among Republicans when citing reasons for slashing security net benefits.

    More populism!

  95. says

    Trump puts another lobbyist in his cabinet.

    From NBC News:

    It took seven months, but President Donald Trump finally has a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense.

    Mark Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday by a vote of 90-8. He was to be officially sworn in by the end of the day, ending the longest period the Pentagon has gone without a confirmed leader in its history.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] It’s undoubtedly a good thing that the Defense department finally has a confirmed cabinet secretary, though there is one part of Esper’s background that often goes overlooked:

    The new Pentagon chief is a former lobbyist for a major defense contractor. In fact, Esper was a lobbyist for Raytheon as recently as 2017, and by some accounts, he’ll have to recuse himself from Trump administration negotiations with Turkey that would affect his former employer.

    […] it was just a couple of months ago when the president traveled to Orlando to officially launch his re-election campaign, and boasted to supports, “We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.”

    No, actually, it’s not what Trump and his team have done. In fact, at the next cabinet meeting, Esper won’t be the only former lobbyist at the table: he’ll be joined by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt who lobbied for the energy industry, and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who also lobbied for the energy industry.

    And that’s just at the cabinet level. As we discussed a month ago, much of the White House and federal agencies have been populated with former lobbyists.

    […] At one point, he [Trump] went so far as to say he’d have “no problem” banning lobbyists from his administration altogether.

    […] so many former lobbyists overseeing the same federal agencies they used to try to influence.

    Link

  96. says

    Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Lindsey Graham is not going to hold a hearing that in any way resembles the House Judiciary Committee hearing where Democrats will question Robert Mueller.

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he plans to call former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to testify as part of a “deep dive” into the early stages of the FBI probe into Russian election interference.

    “The committee will be looking at the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. We will call Papadopoulos and we will find out what happened,” Graham said at the start of a hearing Tuesday with FBI Director Christopher Wray.

    Graham said that the panel would conduct a “deep dive into 2016 surveillance by the FBI,” reiterating plans he has long had to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.

    Oh FFS.

    The Hill link

  97. says

    Trump flubs all the facts and goes off the deep end in order to diss Mueller:

    We had no collusion, no obstruction. We had no nothing. We had a total ‘no collusion’ finding. The Democrats were devastated by it. They went crazy. They’ve gone off the deep end. They’re not doing anything. […]

    And Robert Mueller, I know he’s conflicted — he had a lot — there’s a lot of conflicts that he’s got, including the fact that his best friend is Comey. But he’s got conflicts with me, too. He’s got big conflicts with me. As you know, he wanted the job of the FBI Director. He didn’t get it. And we had a business relationship where I said, “No.” And I would say that he wasn’t happy. Then, all of a sudden, he gets this position. But you know what? He still ruled — and I respect him for it — he still ruled “no collusion, no obstruction.”

    Commentary:

    […] It’s not easy to pack that many lies into 90 seconds […]

    the idea that House Democrats aren’t “doing anything” is demonstrably foolish, but as Vox’s Aaron Rupar noted, there were at least five other obvious lies in Trump’s pitch yesterday:

    1. There was no finding clearing Trump of collusion allegations, despite Trump’s claim to the contrary.

    2. There was no finding clearing Trump of obstruction allegations, despite Trump’s claim to the contrary.

    3. Robert Mueller did not have conflicts of interest, despite Trump’s claim to the contrary.

    4. There’s no evidence Mueller wanted Trump to name him the new FBI director after James Comey’s ouster – Mueller had already served in the position for 12 years – despite Trump’s claim to the contrary.

    5. And Mueller and Comey are not, and have never been, “best friends,” despite Trump’s claim to the contrary. […]

  98. says

    Followup to comment 132.

    Segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace said this in a 1968 interview:

    No sir, I don’t regard myself as a racist, and I think the biggest racists in the world are those who call other folks racist. I think the biggest bigots in the world are those who call other folks bigots.

    Sounds familiar.

  99. says

    Does Trump actually believe that Article 2 of the Constitution gives him the right to “do whatever I want as President”? He seems to actually believe that.

    Trump claimed on Tuesday that Article 2 in the Constitution gives him carte blanche to do anything he wants.

    Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.

    “I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”

    Nothing about Article 2 says the President can legally do whatever they want, let alone fire an independent counsel at will, but it’s not the first time Trump’s made such dubious claims.

    During an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last month, Trump cited Article 2 as the reason why presidents can’t be charged with obstruction of justice.

    Additionally, Mueller’s report didn’t say Trump never attempted to obstruct justice. In fact, he found multiple instances of the President trying to mess with his investigation, but he chose to follow Justice Department guidelines on not indicting a sitting president […]

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    “[…] he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them […]”
    Let’s talk about this part of Article 2 please
    ————————
    I just want to know who told him that’s what Article 2 says, because for damn sure he hasn’t actually read it. He must have heard some nitwit on Fox saying that
    ——————-
    Article 2 doesn’t give the right to do whatever he wants.

    A complicit Congress, a complicit judiciary and a complicit media give him the right to do whatever he wants.

    Let’s be clear about this – the structure that’s supposed to protect the American people from something like this are allowing it to continue unabated. Has nothing to do with the Constitution, the Bible or any other (now) fictional document.

    Dear Trump, please read Article 1.

  100. says

    Immigration officials have ignored U.S.-born citizen’s documents and kept him detained for weeks.

    Federal immigration officials have kept a Texas-born U.S. citizen in custody for nearly a month, Dallas News reports, reportedly having refused to acknowledge the original birth certificate presented by his mother as proof of his citizenship. “I need my son back,” Sanjuana Galicia pleaded. “I just want to prove to them that he is a citizen. He’s not a criminal or anything bad. He’s a good kid.”

    Eighteen-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia was taken into custody last month while traveling through a Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, with his younger brother Marlon and a group of friends. Francisco told his mom “that he was detained because he didn’t have his U.S. passport. But she said he did present CBP with his Texas ID,” which Dallas News reports can only be obtained with a valid Social Security Number.

    You’d think that Border Patrol officials presented with his documentation would take one look and immediately release the U.S. citizen they’ve unjustly detained, right? Nope: Sanjuana said she showed them “his original birth certificate and other documents and they ignored them.” Border Patrol then transferred Francisco to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, where the ICE detainee locator system “lists him as being born in Mexico.”

    This is not the first time or the 1,500th time that ICE has wrongfully detained a U.S. citizen and threatened to deport them to a country that isn’t theirs. It was just a few months ago that ICE detained a U.S.-born military vet with combat-related trauma for three days. He was carrying his passport and REAL ID, but it didn’t make any difference—he was brown. Officials last year also threatened to deport a Pennsylvania-born man to Jamaica. He’s now suing the Florida police department that held him for ICE. And yes, U.S. citizens have been unjustly deported.

    Sanjuana is now fighting to get her son released from ICE custody, and has “faxed over all the documents to the ICE agent handling the case.” It’s sadly too late for her other son, Marlon, who had also been detained. Lacking legal status, ”Marlon signed a voluntary deportation form” and was deported to Mexico. “I didn’t imagine this could happen,” he told Dallas News from Mexico, “and now I’m so sad that I’m not with my family.” […]

  101. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #156:

    I just want to know who told him that’s what Article 2 says, because for damn sure he hasn’t actually read it. He must have heard some nitwit on Fox saying that

    I have little doubt that it’s Bill Barr. And he’s doing everything he can to make it so: arm-twisting Mueller and his team, lying to congress and the public, attacking institutions that could hold Trump in check or to account, covering up for Trump and his family and cronies, and making the DoJ into an arm of Trump’s power.

  102. says

    Politico – “Trump transition adviser Bijan Rafiekian is convicted”:

    A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner of Michael Flynn, on a pair of foreign-agent felony charges stemming from work the two men did for Turkish interests during the final months of the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

    The verdicts, returned by jurors in Alexandria, Va., after a weeklong trial and only about four hours of deliberation, amount to a belated courtroom victory for special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated the $600,000 lobbying and public relations contract at the heart of the case and then handed the matter off to other federal prosecutors after Flynn’s guilty plea to a false-statement charge in 2017.

    Rafiekian, 67, faces up to 15 years in prison on the two felony counts against him: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the U.S., and conspiracy to violate that law as well as to submit false statements to the Justice Department in a foreign-agent filing. Defendants are typically sentenced in accord with federal sentencing guidelines that result in far less than the maximum.

    Flynn, who would go on to serve 24 days as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had been expected to be a key witness at Rafiekian’s trial, offering testimony that would incriminate his former partner in a scheme to avoid disclosing that the Flynn Intel Group’s lobbying and public relations effort was actually directed and controlled by Turkish government officials.

    Less than two weeks before the trial opened, however, an acrimonious row broke out between prosecutors and Flynn’s new defense attorneys, leading to an abrupt decision to drop Flynn as a witness.

    The late shift — which appeared to upend the government’s case — came after prosecutors accused Flynn of retreating from admissions he made as part of his plea deal that he submitted false information to the Justice Department in a belated, March 2017 Foreign Agent Registration Act filing about the Turkey-related work.

    In Flynn’s absence, prosecutors relied on emails, Skype chats and other witnesses to make their case that the Flynn firm project Rafiekian spearheaded was approved at the highest levels of the Turkish government.

    Whether the verdicts will stand is unclear. During the trial, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga indicated that he was giving serious consideration to a defense motion to acquit Rafiekian on the grounds that the prosecution’s evidence was too weak to sustain a conviction.

    Trenga still has that motion under advisement and will face new urgings from Rafiekian’s defense attorneys to throw out the jury’s verdicts. After the jury returned its guilty verdicts Tuesday, the judge set a September hearing on that motion.

    No date has been set for Flynn’s sentencing on the false-statement charge he pleaded guilty to in 2017. The Washington-based judge handling that case has repeatedly put off the sentencing to allow Flynn to complete his work with prosecutors in the Rafiekian case.

    It’s unclear how prosecutors’ decision not to call Flynn will affect his ultimate sentence….

  103. says

    Politico – “Trump met with Nunes to talk intel chief replacements”:

    President Donald Trump recently spoke to top House Intelligence Republican Devin Nunes about replacements for the country’s intelligence chief — the latest sign that Dan Coats’ tenure may be short-lived.

    Nunes, who grabbed national attention with his controversial allegations of Obama administration surveillance abuses, met with Trump and other senior White House officials last week to discuss who could take over for Coats at the Office of Director of National Intelligence, according to three people familiar with the get-together.

    Coats has run ODNI since early in the Trump administration, but his job security is the subject of constant speculation, especially after he gave public testimony on North Korea, Iran and Syria that diverged from Trump’s prior comments on the issues. The ODNI chief oversees the government’s intelligence agencies, coordinates the country’s global information-gathering operation and frequently briefs the president on threats each morning.

    The meeting between Trump and Nunes has only fueled more chatter about Coats’ departure. The pace of Trump’s discussions with allies about potential replacements has ramped up in recent weeks, the people said.

    Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst who served as national security adviser John Bolton’s chief of staff, has been discussed as a possible ODNI replacement. Fleitz left his White House post in October 2018 to serve as president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, a far-right think tank that has been sharply critical of “radical Islam.”

    Some within the intelligence community have also promoted the ODNI’s current No. 2, Sue Gordon, as be a logical replacement for Coats. Gordon is a career intelligence official who is generally well-liked within the organization.

    Because of these similar views, some on Capitol Hill and in the intelligence community think Nunes himself could be in the mix for an intelligence post, even if it’s not at ODNI.

    Such speculation has provoked some anxiety at the top of ODNI, according to one person with direct knowledge….

    From a few days ago – NPR – “Director Of National Intelligence Dan Coats Appoints New Election Security Czar”:

    Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has installed a new czar to oversee election security efforts across the spy world, he announced on Friday.

    A veteran agency leader, Shelby Pierson, has been appointed to serve as the first election threats executive within the intelligence community, or IC, Coats said.

    “Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC,” said Coats.

    “In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue. There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first election threats executive than Shelby Pierson, whose knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

    Pierson has served within the intelligence world for more than 20 years. She was “crisis manager” for election security for the 2018 election within the office of the DNI and also has served in top roles in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to one official biography.

    Her appointment isn’t the only change Coats announced on Friday. He also is directing other agencies within the extended family of spy services to appoint their own executives responsible for election security efforts.

    “These agency leads will work with the [election threats executive] to help ensure IC efforts on election security are coordinated and prioritized across all IC elements,” Coats said….

  104. says

    NBC – “‘Put down your swords’: Senate passes bill ensuring 9/11 victims fund will never run out of money”:

    The Senate passed a bill Tuesday to ensure a fund to compensate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks never runs out of money — and that first responders won’t have to return to Congress to plead for more funding.

    The vote came after intense lobbying from ailing 9/11 first responders — including one who died shortly after testifying before Congress last month.

    The bill, which was passed by a vote of 97-2, would authorize money for the fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.

    “I’m going to ask my team now to put down your swords and pick up your rakes and go home, and hopefully, we don’t have to come back,” victims’ advocate John Feal told his fellow first responders at a news conference later. “What I’m going to miss the most about D.C. is — nothing.”

    Feal also thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who advocates charged had slowed down earlier versions of the bill, for getting the bill to the floor.

    “He kept his word to me,” Feal said.

    One of the bill’s champions, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., singled out comedian Jon Stewart for his activism on the issue.

    “I think we can all agree I’m the real hero,” Stewart quipped, before saying working with the 9/11 first responders was “the honor of my life.”

    “We can never repay all the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them,” Stewart said. “I’m hopeful that today begins the process of being able to heal without the burden of having to advocate.”

    Before the bill’s final passage, the chamber defeated two proposed amendments: One, from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would have restricted the authorization to 10 years; the other, from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, would have required offsets for the money spent on the fund.

    Paul and Lee were the only senators who voted against the legislation.

    “We whipped your asses,” Feal said of the pair.

  105. blf says

    SC@150, see @128: Blackjewel CEO Jeff Hoops seems to be pulling numerous shenanigans. That doesn’t invalidate his point, but does suggest he is trying to obfuscate what he’s been up to.

  106. says

    Jared O’Mara MP’s comms person quit in pretty spectacular fashion using his Twitter account:

    Comms Team signing off… forever: Jared, you are the most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with. You do not care about your constituents. You do not care about anyone but yourself.

    I cannot and will not defend you and your vile, inexcusable contempt for the people who voted you in. You selfish, degenerate prick.

    My fear is that now (as I quit) the rest of the staff will leave and once again you will close your office and stop helping anyone but still take your wages until you have the decency to call a byelection.

    Leaving constituents desperate for representation again. No matter if they are having their homes taken away, their liberaties disgraced or being deported because of your inaction.

    Sheffield Hallam deserves so much better than you. You have wasted opportunities which people dare not to even dream of.

    Consider this my resignation.

    Thanks

    Gareth Arnold

  107. says

    blf @ #164,

    Yes, that was always their plan: They knew coal was going out, but planned to suck these communities dry, poison them, and cheat them out of every last cent while profiteering themselves. What makes me so angry about it is that everyone knew Trump was lying through his teeth about bringing coal back and that he was in league with the mine owners against the miners, but few in media or politics had the guts to repeatedly call out the bullshit.

  108. says

    From this morning: “Right now: Senate Intel Dems charging @senatemajldr McConnell with doing ‘irreparable’ danger to American democracy by blocking bill on election security.”

    Also:

    Graham: “Are the Russians still trying to interfere in our election systems?”

    FBI Director Wray: “The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through foreign influence.”

    Listen closely to Graham’s response as he interrupts Wray. His primary interest is in painting sanctions against Putin’s kleptocratic regime and public attention to what they’re doing as useless and unnecessary. He’s a Traitor for Trump.

  109. says

    Greg Sargent:

    Folks,

    This is a set-up.

    If you set the bar at “Mueller must offer something new,” you’re likely helping Trump.

    He and his team are currently laying the groundwork to spin anything short of that as victory.

    The report itself is damning enough:…

    I disagree with Sargent’s suggestion that “the media is getting spun.” MSNBC at least has a clear line for their reporters – “Will this be a dud/disappointment for Democrats if Mueller doesn’t actually reveal anything new?” They ask a version of this question frequently regardless of anything Democrats are actually saying or not saying. It’s plainly what they’re being told to say. I haven’t heard any Dems suggest that they’re expecting a “Perry Mason moment” or for Mueller to break new ground or anything of the sort. The MSNBC executives are intentionally setting this up in Trump’s favor. Pelosi should encourage members of her caucus to do what she does: call attention to the corporate line and mock it.

  110. says

    NBC with Mueller information:

    “He’s expected to testify from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to Judiciary, and then go before a second committee, House Intelligence, at noon for approximately two hours.”

    You can watch it on the SPANs and pretty much everywhere. 8:30 is really early, but Mueller’s a morning person.

  111. says

    JUST IN: In letter to Mueller, Schiff rips DOJ for claiming limits on Mueller’s testimony, says he expects Mueller to disregard.”

    Letter at the link.

    “In short, the Committee rejects the limitations that the Department of Justice has attempted to place on your testimony on the eve of your appearance before our Committee. We look forward to your full, truthful, and frank testimony, which is critical to the Committee’s ongoing oversight activities and legitimate investigations.”

  112. says

    There’s been a lot of uncertainty about Mueller deputy Aaron Zebley’s possible appearance at the Mueller hearings today. Rachel Maddow is reporting that Zebley will be sworn in as a witness alongside Mueller at the Intelligence (afternoon) hearing, but not the Judiciary (morning) hearing. (I assume he’ll be at the morning hearing as well, but not in a witness capacity.)

  113. says

    #BREAKING Russian opposition leader Navalny says he has been arrested

    #UPDATE Russian opposition leader Alexei #Navalny says he has been arrested in Moscow, in an apparent move by the authorities to prevent a major protest rally this week.”

  114. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Graunaid, Despised, ridiculed and unfathomably incompetent: does it really matter Boris Johnson is the UK PM? (cartoon): “He’s put the lie to the grand fable of meritocracy”.

    Similar — or perhaps a “welcome, feck you” to the new unelected PM — the English men’s cricket team is getting absolutely tonked by Ireland in the first-ever England–Ireland test match. England are 85 all-out. In the very first session. Before lunch. On the very first day. Of a four-day match (a new experiment format, rather than the usual five-day format). At Lord’s. Where one of the Irish bowlers, Tim Murtagh, has already earned himself a spot on the honour’s board. This is a return to proper English men’s cricket, where they keep inventing new and hilarious ways to collapse. (And full credit to the Irish!) Sadly, it’s not the world cup winner’s lowest ever score at Lord’s (55 in 1888), so there’s still room for further improvement…

  115. says

    The Dems overall have done a decent job. Their only significant deficiencies have been imprecise reading of the report’s words and trying to move too quickly through quotes from it.

  116. says

    TPM – “‘Not As A Candidate’”:

    A quick point you may have missed:

    Under questioning from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), special counsel Robert Mueller denied that he was a candidate for FBI director when he met with President Trump after the firing of James Comey.

    This has been an ongoing “conflict of interest” charge lobbed at Mueller by President Trump and his backers. I don’t believe we’ve had Mueller publicly deny before that he was a candidate for the FBI director position.

    The day after his meeting with Trump, Mueller was named special counsel.

    This has been reported for a while now, but few people paid attention and Trump has continued to lie about it.

  117. says

    Noteworthy: Mueller says ‘yes’ when asked whether Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.”

    Again, this was in the report. No idea why a Trumpublican thought it would be a good idea to drill in on it.

  118. blf says

    No idea why a Trumpublican thought it would be a good idea to drill in on it.

    Since when did hair furricks think?

    Ireland are at 127-2 at tea, well in control…

  119. says

    This last Trumpublican (Johnson, I believe) is just reading a closing statement completely divorced from reality, like the report itself doesn’t exist and the previous 3 hours never happened.

  120. says

    Jon Favreau:

    Mueller has confirmed that he didn’t charge Trump with a crime because you can’t indict a sitting president, and that Trump can be charged once he leaves office.

    The only remedy to hold Trump accountable while in office is impeachment.

    There’s nothing else to learn here.

  121. blf says

    SC@195, The Grauniad’s current headline, Mueller contradicts Trump’s false claim that he was totally exonerated by report.

    France24 is similar to the quoted MSNBC, Mueller tells Congress his report did not exonerate Trump (video). So is the Irish Times, with Robert Mueller dismisses Trump claim of ‘total exoneration.

    Al Jazeera’s main page leads with Mueller: Trump could still be charged when term ends, but the link is to a live blog with the (perhaps understandably) tame headline Robert Mueller testimony: All the latest updates.

    Sadly, England are bowling their way back into the match, Ireland is currently 149-6.

  122. says

    Correct.

    And the cable news people continue to insist on taking the claims of Trump aides that they see this all as a big victory at face value. After two years of taking their claims that he wasn’t at all concerned about the Mueller investigation at face value and later learning that they were completely false.

  123. says

    SC @200, Schiff did well.

    On the Republican side, Devin Nunes spent much of his time repeating conspiracy theories for which there are no foundations in fact. Nunes made a speech that Fox News can use.

  124. says

    SC @158:

    I have little doubt that it’s Bill Barr. And he’s doing everything he can to make it so: arm-twisting Mueller and his team, lying to congress and the public, attacking institutions that could hold Trump in check or to account, covering up for Trump and his family and cronies, and making the DoJ into an arm of Trump’s power.

    Yep. And Bill Barr’s anti-democratic, corrupt influence was seen today in Mueller’s testimony. Count the number of times Mueller refused to answer questions, or deflected, and then used the DOJ’s stupid privilege letter as an excuse/explanation for not answering.

  125. says

    “No,” Mueller answered flatly.

    Former special counsel Robert Mueller told lawmakers on Wednesday that his investigation did not exonerate President Donald Trump and he explained why he decided not to consider criminal charges against the president.

    At the opening of Mueller’s highly anticipated day of hearings before the House of Representatives on his two-year probe into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., asked the former special counsel if the probe cleared Trump.

    “No,” Mueller answered flatly.

    NBC News link

    In other testimony news, some of Mueller’s refusals to answer questions about the role(s) Donald Trump Junior played made me think that Junior is currently under investigation.

    In other testimony news, more than one Republican all but accused Mueller’s team of leaking information to the press in order to make Trump look bad. I can’t think that will go over well with Mueller’s team.

  126. says

    Trump is setting up his cult followers to disregard election results:

    Don’t kid yourself, those numbers in California and numerous other states, they’re rigged. You got people voting that shouldn’t be voting. They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. They vote — it’s like a circle. They come back; they put a new hat on. They come back; they put a new shirt. And in many cases, they don’t even do that. You know what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.

    Trump said that to a group of rightwing students yesterday.

    Commentary:

    [….] As a factual matter, all of this [all of Trump’s statement about voting] was completely and demonstrably wrong. Undocumented immigrants don’t vote, and there’s literally no evidence to support the idea of anyone casting multiple ballots. Whenever the White House has been asked to substantiate any of these presidential claims, it’s failed.

    […] the sitting president keeps lying about a voter-fraud conspiracy that doesn’t exist, deliberately trying to undermine public confidence in his own country’s electoral system.

    […] what’s far more unsettling is the idea that the White House will consider measures intended to address Trump’s bizarre beliefs – or worse, challenge election results the president finds unsatisfying.

    […] MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recently added, “I think Democrats are vastly underestimating the ways a corrupt and lawless president can use the powers of the presidency itself to cheat in an election. The ‘sure I’d collude’ stuff is just the tip of the iceberg.”

  127. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Oh by the way, the media reports that this morning’s testimony did not send a thrill up the media’s leg, therefore this morning was a failure. They never, ever learn.

    12:59: Schiff reminds America of how Trump not only gleefully took help from the Russians last time, he’s stated outright that he’d like to do it again. Because that happened.[…]

    Devin Nunes gets to talk now. He is saying conspiracy theories about the Steele Dossier. […]

    1:02: NUNES: Blah blah blah dossier Bruce Ohr James Comey Loch Ness Monster I am suing an imaginary internet cow right now for hurting my feelings, so you should probably take me seriously. NO COLLUSION! […]

    SCHIFF: Trump loved the Russian election help, right?

    MUELLER: Yep.

    SCHIFF: And he loved WikiLeaks!

    MUELLER: Oh yeah.

    SCHIFF: And Trump literally called on the Russians to hack Hillary.

    MUELLER: We all saw that shit on TV.

    SCHIFF: And all these fuckers lied about their Russian contacts, too. Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates.

    MUELLER: Yep yep yep yep yep!

    SCHIFF: When Trump says your investigation is a witch hunt, that’s a lie, right?

    MUELLER: I sure hope so!

    SCHIFF: Russia wanted Trump to win, yeah?

    MUELLER: Sure did!

    SCHIFF: And they communicated that to Trump campaign officials?

    MUELLER: Well … OK yeah.

    Um … Schiff just got more out of Mueller than a lot of the Democrats this morning did.

    1:20: Devin Nunes is asking questions about some conspiracy theory he just pulled out of a cow’s ass […]

    1:22: Devin Nunes says that because Alexander Mifsud, who made the approach to George Papadopoulos about dirty Russian Hillary dirts, was recently in a picture with new British PM Boris Johnson, then he cannot be a Russian agent, because Devin Nunes is very stupid and does not understand how spying works.

    1:24: Congressman Jim Himes, you’re up!

    Quotes Mueller Report saying that “The Russian government perceived” that a Trump win would help them, and so it tried to help Trump win. Says there is confusion on that committee about that statement, we guess because a lot of the Republicans are on the side of the Kremlin these days.

    Mueller reaffirms that Russia did all this for TRUMP. […]

  128. says

    Former special counsel says Trump’s WikiLeaks praise gives ‘hope or some boost’ to illegal activity.

    Washington Post link

    Excerpts:

    […] offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, and he forcefully noted the Russian efforts were not over.

    “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign,” he said. He also said that “many more countries” were developing such capabilities.

    On several occasions, he also pointedly took issue with Trump’s behavior and characterizations of the special counsel’s work. At one point, he said that “problematic is an understatement” to describe Trump’s favorable comments about WikiLeaks, and he accused the president of “giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal behavior.”

    Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) accused Mueller of doing an unsatisfactory job preventing leaks from his investigation from getting to the press, and he suggested that Trump deserved an apology for having so much negative attention directed his way if he was not ultimately indicted.

    “I do not believe we would be responsible for leaks,” Mueller said. “I do believe that we have done a good job of ensuring that no leaks occur.” […]

    Mitch McConnell fundraises off Mueller hearing. “House Democrats will never stop harassing President Trump,” McConnell’s campaign account tweeted in the afternoon. “Imagine if they controlled the Senate too. Please donate right now and help Mitch stop them.” […]

  129. blf says

    Archbishop tried to discredit BBC film on church links to abuse:

    […]
    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, publicly accused the BBC of bias and malice before the documentary was aired in 2003. Documents seen by the Guardian show he also lobbied the BBC’s director of news, wrote to all priests in his archdiocese urging them not to speak to BBC journalists, and lodged a formal complaint against the programme’s makers.

    The BBC’s programme complaints unit (PCU) rejected the complaint, and the BBC governors’ programme complaints committee dismissed his appeal against that decision. Nichols refused to apologise to the programme-makers.

    Last month the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) criticised Nichols for putting the church’s reputation before the welfare of abuse survivors. In a report, IICSA said Nichols’s response to the BBC programme was “misplaced and missed the point”.

    […]

    At the time of the documentary, Nichols was archbishop of Birmingham and chair of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

    At a press conference before the programme was broadcast, Nichols accused the BBC of using the licence fee to pay unscrupulous reporters trying to recirculate old news and to broadcast programmes that are biased and hostile.

    He added: That this programme has been allowed to progress this far shows either malice towards the church or a total lack of judgment or of managerial responsibility. […]

    […]

    Before broadcast, Nichols wrote to Richard Sambrook, then the BBC’s director of news, saying a re-examination of historic sexual abuse cases was not in the public interest. […]

    Sambrook told the Guardian: “My recollection of the difficult meeting and correspondence with Cardinal Nichols is that he was entirely focused on trying to discredit the BBC’s journalism in the hope of diverting criticism of the church. Fortunately the BBC’s journalism was sufficiently robust to see off such attempts. He showed little interest in wider questions about uncovering abuse or the welfare of the survivors.”

    […]

    Some of the 11 sworn witness statements from nuns and priests provided by Nichols to the PCU contradicted his allegations that reporters had not properly identified themselves. Evidence from recordings of some encounters also showed his claims to be false.

    Nichols claimed one priest had been left distressed by a visit from two members of the Kenyon Confronts team, who were alleged to be hectoring and intimidating. However, the priest’s statement said the pair were “well-mannered, polite and had respect for my office, although I was glad when I had finished speaking to them. They were not unpleasant or malicious in the way they spoke to me.”

    […]

    Last month IICSA said Nichols’ response to the programme should have focused on “recognising the harm caused to the complainants and victims. Instead, [it] led many to think that the church was still more concerned with protecting itself than the protection of children.”

    […]

    Child rape supporter Nichols gives a bizarre set of not-pologies and excuses (see link).

    In much more surprising news, play has closed for the day, Ireland 207 all-out leading by 122 runs.

  130. blf says

    ‘Boris first’ policy unites UK by blaming half the country for our problems:

    [… T]he prime ministerial limo pulled up and Johnson shambled his way to the wooden lectern. This was his big moment. The one he’d been waiting for all his life. The one he had lied, backstabbed and cheated to get his hands on. Here was his chance to make the speech of his life. To amaze and engage. But then, why break the habit of a lifetime?

    Johnson waved his arms randomly in the air, as if someone was giving him electric shocks, and began babbling. Pifflepafflewifflewaffle, he began. Meet the new bollocks. The same as the old bollocks. It was basically all the fault of the 48% who had voted remain that the country was in the state it was in. The gloomsters and the doomsters had just got to learn to cheer up a bit and believe in some blue-remembered-hills version of Blighty. There’s nothing more guaranteed to make you depressed than to be told to be optimistic by a narcissistic fantasist. A man you wouldn’t trust to do the shopping, let alone run a government.

    Telling half the UK they could basically sod off was a strange way of going about uniting the country. But then he had just appointed as a special adviser Dominic Cummings, the former Vote Leave campaign director, a man so toxically divisive he couldn’t even unite himself. In any case, Boris was now on a roll. Lost to himself, lost to the nation as he failed to take responsibility for the fact that the main reason Britain was still in the EU was because he and the Brexiters had voted against May’s deal.

    […] He concluded by saying he was going to get a good deal because the EU was going to give him everything he wanted because everyone always gave Boris what he wanted. Me, me, me. Johnson through and through. Boris first, second and third.

    But if the EU somehow didn’t give him everything he asked, then the UK would be leaving with no deal and it would be all their fault. […]

    Once inside No 10, Johnson could let the real fun begin. The man who has made a career out of disloyalty is notoriously thin-skinned when anyone dares even gently challenge him. Now he could show his real talent. No one could come close to him for holding grudges. Jeremy Hunt would be waking up to find a horse’s head in his bed and dozens of others would be publicly kneecapped. Out would go anyone with any semblance of self-respect and decency. In would come a cabinet shaped in his own image. A cabinet of shits, charlatans and shysters. One in which having been previously sacked for lying was almost a precondition.

    […]

  131. says

    Lynna @ #201:

    SC @200, Schiff did well.

    On the Republican side, Devin Nunes spent much of his time repeating conspiracy theories for which there are no foundations in fact. Nunes made a speech that Fox News can use.

    I had to miss a few of the questioners in the middle, but thought Schiff at the beginning and end was superb. He approached it not as a partisan but just as a decent, committed person who’s beyond concerned about what’s happening and holds on to that moral center; and I think Mueller was more forthcoming with him because he recognized that’s where Schiff genuinely is coming from. I think he also smartly turned the issues Mueller couldn’t or wouldn’t speak to around, pointing out that since those questions haven’t been answered Congress will have to investigate them. It’s not about individual personalities or who had a good moment, but Schiff kept honor and decency and democracy at the heart of the proceedings.

    Nunes blew out his lies and then just deflated at the end, almost as though some part of him realized what he’s become.

    Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler will be doing a press conference shortly.

  132. says

    I know we don’t expect more from them at this point, but I’m still sometimes staggered at how Republicans in both the House and the Senate will go into public hearings and tell lies upon lies to witnesses and the public. My expectations of them are so low now that I have to remind myself of how abnormal and corrosive it is.

  133. says

    SC @210, Yes, that willingness to spew lies in a congressional hearing still startles me. If you listen to those lies with the attitude of a QAnon follower, or of a cult follower of Trump, then you hear something else. You hear alternative facts on which you can base your continued adherence to the conspiracy theory that this is all a hoax meant to harass Trump.

    It makes me literally nauseous.

    Mueller didn’t dispute those lies, he just refused to answer questions based on them. Most of the time, he was not required to do even that. Republicans just required him to sit there and listen as they piled lies on top of lies.

    I suppose it was not Mueller’s job to debunk all of those lies in real time.

    Some of the Republicans, after telling a bunch of lies, bemoaned the supposed waste of time by Democrats holding hearings. Ha. [bitter laughter]. Republicans are willing to waste time telling lies instead of governing. That’s what they are there for, apparently.

  134. says

    SC @212, Chuck Todd is particularly guilty of bad commentary. Todd is now on my “Oh, FFS! Go away” list. He is not helpful.

  135. says

    Asha Rangappa: “It was clear from several of Mueller’s answers that counterintelligence piece is ongoing…the fact that Gang of 8 has not been briefed in two years could bc FBI knows wacky Nunes will leak to people who are still being investigated.”

  136. says

    One indication of how effective Schiff was is that he’s trending on Twitter and in my estimation 60% of it is attacks from bots and trolls and prefabricated memes.

  137. says

    Lynna @ #214:

    SC @212, Chuck Todd is particularly guilty of bad commentary. Todd is now on my “Oh, FFS! Go away” list. He is not helpful.

    He’s so bad, and so confident in his facile analysis.

  138. says

    Re several comments from Lynna and me above: I recently linked to the site where the Columbia Journalism Review publishes articles by people they’ve assigned as public editors for various news outlets. Here’s Maria Bustillos on Chuck Todd today:

    “MSNBC public editor: The Chuck Todd show”:

    After former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’ testified before the House Judiciary Committee this morning, Chuck Todd managed to demonstrate, with uncharacteristic brevity, his basic misunderstanding of the requirements of his job:

    [Todd’s tweet: “On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the OLC guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things. But on optics, this was a disaster. #MuellerHearings”]

    Todd’s focus on the “entertainment” aspect of politics coverage is often in evidence—for example, in his own recent performance as moderator in the Democratic presidential debate. He managed to talk more than all but three of the candidates, even as he demanded that they keep their own answers brief.

    For Chuck Todd all the political world’s a stage, and he’s the star.

    And it’s not just Todd. Other MSNBC anchors reacted to the Mueller hearings similarly, finding fault with the Democrats’, and Mueller’s, lack of pizazz as performers. Brian Williams referred to “the caffeine gap” in the Judiciary Committee’s questioning. I can’t help pointing out that excessive concern with caffeinated pizzazz can warp a journalist’s judgement pretty severely, and is best avoided.

    At a moment of particular gravity for the country, with the sitting president credibly accused of obstructing justice, and many of his campaign staff and associates under investigation and indictment, may I suggest that if you, a journalist, are bored with the politics of this—if you are demanding somehow to be entertained, right now—you’re not doing your job.

    Politics isn’t entertainment, it is not a performance to be critiqued. Reporting on national politics is a public trust of solemn importance that affects hundreds of millions of people….

    Brian Williams also asked Rep. Sean Maloney if there were moments he “wanted to throttle” the witness (Mueller). Maloney contained his shock and responded that, while he granted the question was meant in a lighthearted way, he regards Mueller as a hero and never wanted to “throttle” him but often wanted to go shake his hand and thank him.

  139. blf says

    Three million could lose food stamps under new Trump proposal:

    A proposed rule change would require people to pass a review of income and assets to receive food stamps.
    […]
    Currently, 43 US states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal programme known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

    But the agency wants to require people who receive TANF benefits to pass a review of their income and assets to determine whether they are eligible for free food from SNAP, officials said.

    If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5bn a year by removing people from SNAP, according to the USDA.

    Trump has argued that many Americans now using SNAP do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment, and should be removed in order to save taxpayers as much as $15bn.

    […]

    SNAP provides free food to some 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total US population.

    […]

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in December estimated the rule could save the federal government $8.1bn from 2019 to 2028, lower than the USDA’s estimate.

    In 2016, the CBO said arguments against the change included concerns that it would eliminate benefits for households in difficult financial situations and increase the complexity and time involved in verifying information on SNAP applications.

  140. says

    What I took away from the Dems’ press conference:

    Elijah Cummings’ intervention was powerful and should (but probably won’t) be shown many times.

    They’re moving closer to impeachment. Pelosi seems now to be more in the mode of building the strongest hand possible, and is suggesting that waiting on the court cases isn’t open-ended.

  141. says

    Susan Hennessey:

    My guess is that we are going to see a groundswell of support for impeachment after this. Both sides got some favorable tv clips out of it, but the substance overall was just devastating to the president.

    A whole lot of people think this take is crazy. But I saw a majority in the House today that was focused not on putting on a flashy show but instead on laying the foundation of a congressional record. I don’t think Pelosi can hold it at bay much longer.

    The lack of support for impeachment has clearly been artificially deflated by Pelosi trying to tamp down on it. So the relevant question is whether today convinced the caucus to move on or whether it made those who have fallen in line thus far start to run out of patience.

  142. says

    RICO (now not RICO) update! Bloomberg – “Trump Must Face Suit Over Alleged Multilevel Marketing Fraud”:

    President Donald Trump, his company and three of his children must face a class-action lawsuit in which people claim they were scammed into spending money on fraudulent, multilevel marketing ventures and a dubious live-seminar program.

    U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that the case can go forward with claims of fraud, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices. The decision likely opens the door for the plaintiffs to start gathering evidence from Trump and his company, including documents and testimony.

    Schofield dismissed federal racketeering claims, eliminating allegations that could have netted triple damages for the plaintiffs.

    A group of four people claims the Trumps ripped off thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs by promoting two bogus multilevel marketing ventures and the live-seminar program that promised to teach Trump’s “secrets to success” in real estate. They’re seeking to sue on behalf of a nationwide class of people they claim were also cheated.

    They sued in October using the names Jane Doe, Luke Loe, Richard Roe and Mary Moe, claiming they feared Trump’s habit of criticizing opponents on Twitter and exposing them to potential retaliation by his followers. Schofield let them remain anonymous at least until her decision on the Trumps’ motion to dismiss the case. She’ll likely revisit the question now that she’s ruled.

    The lawsuit is Doe v. Trump Corp., 18-cv-9936, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

    Still getting almost no coverage.

  143. blf says

    I’ve never heard of this scam or (as far as I recall) the quack behind it before, despite the thugs supporting the nonsense (e.g., writing it into law), Doctor claiming to reverse abortion was told to stop using medical school’s name (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    A medication abortion or “self-managed” abortion, is an FDA-approved procedure and is administered through two doses of medicine over 48 hours. Medication abortions now represent nearly one-third of all abortions nationally, according to the Guttmacher Institute. There is no reversal procedure.

    But Dr [sic] George Delgado, the medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, claims to have invented a reversal, in which women are given a large dose of progesterone following the first dose of a medicated abortion.

    Delgado’s assertions about the reversal procedure have been denounced as “unproven and unethical” in a statement from America’s largest association of women’s doctors, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His work has been described as an “unmonitored research experiment” in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Despite condemnation from the medical community, Delgado’s claims have been adopted by some Republican state legislators as part of a wider campaign to undermine women’s reproductive rights. North Dakota legislators recently passed a law forcing doctors to tell patients medication abortions are reversible, the fifth state to do so in 2019.

    The American Medical Association is now suing North Dakota for forcing doctors to “misinform their patients that medication abortion may be ‘reversible’, which is contrary to science”, and said the law forced “physicians ‘{to} convey ideological, government-mandated messages that are false or misleading’.”

    […]

    Since 2011, Delgado has practiced at the Culture of Life Family Services clinic in California, where he provides Catholic-oriented pro-life medicine. The clinic advertises Christ-centered medical care.

    [… a scam to get money from teh hair furor dalekocrazy…]

    Delgado’s most recent work has included speaking engagements providing pseudo-scientific cover for anti-abortion campaigners attacking medication abortions as they grow increasingly common. Delgado has also pushed the false claim that abortion is linked to breast cancer.

    […]

    Further details at the link. Sounds like a candidate foe hair furor’s mob of alles ye beast poople…

  144. blf says

    Motheaten! Trump, Kim and Putin face an army of starving pests:

    The ‘three biggest egos on the planet’ are being devoured by clothes moth larvae in a provocative — and controversial — new artwork by Sarah Vaci

    […]

    Over the next 12 months, the tiny wardrobe adversaries should munch their way through the portraits until holes appear. “I’ve always wanted to subvert the way things are seen,” Vaci says. “I’m very interested in the psychology of power and gender. I chose the three biggest egos on the planet and wanted to take them down a peg or two.”

    […]

    She adds that the work is making a point about gender as well as politics. “I’ve created three dominant men in a traditionally female medium and that brings a level of empowerment. I felt like I was subverting that imbalance as I created the faces of these alpha males.”

    The artworks, priced £15,000 each, are designed to look like tributes the men could have commissioned themselves. The opulent gold and vibrant red are a powerful combination: red for danger, strength? “Blood,” says Vaci. “Moth larvae cocoons change colour according to what they eat so, eventually, there will be ‘blood’ splattered across the faces.” She smiles broadly.

    […]

    Social media previews of Pest have already attracted plenty of hate messages from Trump and Putin supporters. One recipient of Vaci’s newsletter responded: This is completely vile and disgusting. You are filthy! […]

    “In my mind, the larvae are the revolution. Each of these politicians have people they view as pests. For Trump, it could be women and immigrants; for Putin it’s probably gay people. They view them as small and insignificant, but if they, the ‘little people’, eat them, then who has the last laugh?”

  145. blf says

    Follow-up to @379(previous page), Indonesia pardons woman jailed for recording harassment:

    […]
    Indonesia’s parliament has unanimously approved an amnesty for a woman who was jailed for documenting sexual harassment by her employer.

    […]

    The supreme court in Jakarta convicted [Baiq Nuril] Maknun of recording and spreading indecent material under the country’s electronic information and transactions law.

    She was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 500m rupiah (£26,400) after overturning a 2017 acquittal from a lower court.

    […]

    The president, Joko Widodo, recommended amnesty after Maknun had exhausted all other legal avenues.

    On Wednesday, lawmakers applauded as Maknun’s reprieve was announced. She wept as she told parliament: “Don’t let anyone else have an experience like mine. It hurt so much, I hope there won’t be any more victims, and women should dare to speak up.”

    […]

  146. says

    Guardian – “Nicola Sturgeon calls for new Scottish independence vote”:

    Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has written to Boris Johnson to tell him that she is “looking forward” to discussing with him her proposals for a second independence referendum.

    Using her first letter to the new prime minister to remind him of Scottish government analysis which found that a no-deal Brexit could cost 100,000 jobs across Scotland, she writes: “Given your public comments about leaving the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, “come what may” and “do or die”, it is now – more than ever – essential that in Scotland we have an alternative option.”

    Stating that her government would continue the parliamentary progress of legislation to enable a second referendum on independence, which Sturgeon has indicated she would like to hold before 2021, she tells Johnson: “The right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future is a basic democratic principle that must be respected.”

    The referendums (Scotland) bill does not specify the date, question or referendum period, which would all be set by secondary legislation. The Scottish National party leader has previously committed to securing the necessary transfer of powers from Westminster.

    Johnson refused to rule out blocking a second referendum on Scottish independence, even if the SNP won a mandate for one at the next Holyrood elections, when he visited Scotland during the Conservative leadership campaign, maintaining that “we should stick to that promise” that the 2014 vote was decisive for a generation.

    Giving Johnson a timetable for future discussions, Sturgeon writes: “Similarly any decision of the Scottish parliament on whether to give people that choice must be respected. The parliament will consider the necessary framework legislation for a referendum after the summer recess, and I look forward to taking this matter forward with you once MSPs have had the opportunity to debate the issue further.”…

  147. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson: new PM takes his revenge and sacks over half the cabinet”:

    Boris Johnson has signalled his ruthless determination to deliver Brexit and stoked speculation about an early general election by sacking more than half of Theresa May’s cabinet and packing his team with Vote Leave veterans and rightwing free marketers.

    Despite the new prime minister’s repeated insistence that he is a one-nation Conservative, he handed the job of home secretary to Priti Patel, who advocated the return of capital punishment as recently as 2011, and the Treasury to Thatcher devotee Sajid Javid.

    Dominic Raab, who made headlines during his own leadership campaign when he said he would not call himself a feminist, is the new foreign secretary, and will be Johnson’s stand-in at prime minister’s questions.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which led calls for May to be deposed, is the new leader of the House of Commons.
    This is a Vote Leave government now. There will be no one else to blame | Jonathan Freedland
    Read more

    Johnson’s rival for the leadership, Jeremy Hunt, and his supporters fell victim to a merciless purge. Hunt himself turned down a demotion from foreign secretary to defence secretary and instead chose to return to the backbenches.

    Johnson had already sparked consternation among some colleagues by announcing that Dominic Cummings, the controversial director of the Vote Leave campaign, would be a senior adviser in his Downing Street team.

    Former defence secretary Gavin Williamson will be education secretary, despite having been sacked by May less than three months ago on suspicion of leaking security secrets. Patel was also fired by May, for organising private meetings in Israel without informing officials.

    Critics swiftly labelled Johnson’s new administration the most rightwing since the 1980s. SNP MP Pete Wishart said, “Boris Johnson’s nightmare Tory government is shaping up to be the worst since Thatcher – packed full of extreme Brexiteers and rabid rightwingers who want to drag us back to a bygone era.”

    Former Tory MP Nick Boles, who quit the party over his colleagues’ failure to compromise on Brexit, tweeted: “The hard right has taken over the Conservative Party. Thatcherites, libertarians and No Deal Brexiters control it top to bottom.”…

  148. says

    Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian – “Boris Johnson can’t be found out: we all know he’s bluffing”:

    As Boris Johnson walked up to the podium at 10 Downing Street to make his first address as prime minister, they should have played Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows as his fanfare: “Everybody knows that the boat is leaking / Everybody knows that the captain lied.” For the one thing that can be said in Johnson’s defence is that he is not a conman. Yes, of course, he speaks fluent falsehood as his native language. But he deceives no one. Everybody knows.

    The Tory MPs who backed him, the party members who voted for him so overwhelmingly, the media cheerleaders who hail his accession – they all know exactly what he’s like. They don’t believe him – they just wilfully suspend their disbelief. They cannot say they were taken in by a plausible charlatan – they choose to applaud the obviously implausible, to crown the man they know to be the Great Pretender….

    Here is the most extraordinary aspect of this weird succession. All governments may end in failure but they are supposed at least to begin with some kind of gravity and some element of faith. As long ago as 1997, Johnson wrote: “Politics is a constant repetition, in cycles of varying length, of one of the oldest myths in human culture, of how we make kings for our societies, and how after a while we kill them to achieve a kind of rebirth.”

    But King Boris starts out with no clothes. There are no vestiges of solemn dignity to drape the nakedness of his mendacity and fecklessness…. The disillusion took a little while to set in. Johnson cannot disillusion anyone, for no one is under any illusion that he is truthful or trustworthy, honourable or earnest. His fitness for the highest office is not about to be tested – it is the most conspicuous absence in modern British political history.

    The knowingness is all. Johnson’s genius has always lain in his ability to create a self-conscious collusion: complicity with the fiction known as Boris….

    It works because, with Brexit, a lot of people want to be lied to (it’s all going to be fabulous; the EU will shred the withdrawal agreement; the Irish will panic and do as they’re told). And if that is your desire, Johnson has another Leonard Cohen number for you: I’m Your Man. But – and this is the fundamental problem of his accession to power – a lot of people don’t want to be lied to.

    Insofar as he has a strategy, Johnson’s plan is all based on the power of a lie, or to use the polite term, a bluff. The bluff is a no-deal Brexit. The basic belief of Johnson and those around him is that the way to get a great deal out of the EU is to pretend that you are quite happy to crash out without one. But bluffing only works if you do not already have a reputation as one of the world’s biggest bluffers. In this poker game, Johnson doesn’t have a tell. He is the tell. To put him into No 10 is to erect a neon sign over Downing Street that says: “Don’t believe a word of it.” The knowingness that Johnson has exploited to such great effect works within a circle of collusion. Outside the circle, knowingness is just plain old knowledge. Everybody knows that Johnson is the lying captain of a very leaky boat. Nobody in Europe is about to climb aboard.

    (If you have any money to spare, donate some to the Guardian!)

  149. says

    Sen. Schatz yesterday: “Seriously. Respectfully. Just please report the news. That’s all we ask. There’s tons of it today. It’s massively consequential and public understanding is not helped by a bunch of people with hot takes. If you need to do a panel, bring experts. Thank you.”

  150. says

    Adam Ramsay on openDemocracy – “Stop calling ‘no-deal’ Brexiteers idiots. They know exactly what they’re doing”:

    …What the oligarchs who drove Brexit understand is that the UK has a simple choice. Either it remains within the European-regulated space – with some protections for workers’ rights, consumers and the environment, some regulations of financial services and an elected parliament to mediate them. Or, like a colder Puerto Rico, it steps into the bullies’ playground of the American sphere, with a trade deal stitched up in back-rooms, accepting the US’s poorer standards on everything from food to medicine, as dictated by American businesses accustomed to the freedom to exploit who they please.

    For the ‘hard’ Brexiteers, a long-term deal with the EU, maintaining European regulations, defeats the purpose of Brexit. As Daniel Hannan, now an MEP, has said, the goal when he founded the anti-EU European Research Group in 1993 was turn the UK into an “offshore, low tax haven”. The whole point was to sail Britain into the free-market high seas of the American sphere, extend Britain’s role as money laundry and service-provider to the MAGA-rich, and allow our public services to be flogged off on the global market – the next stage of the Great British Asset Striptease.

    The empire delusions of Anglo-Britain helped people like Hannan to convince huge numbers of voters that we could all thrive in that unregulated space, that being British meant being the bully, not the bullied. But the reality is that it’s always the rich and powerful who thrive without regulation – at the expense of everyone else.

    If Britain fails to secure a deal with the EU, it won’t be because of idiocy or incompetence. It will be because a powerful, elite network wants to turn Britain into even more of a low-tax, offshore haven than it already is, and make more money from it.

    We can all make up our own minds about whether or not that is the future we want. But we should do so armed with all the facts….

    The Institute for Economic Affairs needs a lot more attention.

  151. says

    Carole Cadwalladr: “Serious question: how much confidence do we have that our police is immune to pressure from government? Because Met police investigation into Vote Leave should now encompass Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary & half the cabinet. Will it?”

  152. says

    Jeff Sharlet:

    Big news: My bestselling book, THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, is now a five-part @netflix doc series, debuting Aug. 9. Trailer here:…

    I’m an executive producer of THE FAMILY, the @netflix series, and sort of an on-screen guide (there’s also an actor who plays 30-yr-old me), but the vision is that of brilliant filmmaker [Jesse Moss]. Jesse made one of my favorite docs of recent years, The Overnighters.

    The @netflix series of my book THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power isn’t just an adaptation. There’s lots of new reporting, and director [Jesse Moss] performed miracles in getting this secretive organization on camera for the first time.

    I published THE FAMILY in 2008, and its sequel, C STREET, in 2010, but THE FAMILY, the @netflix series, is about right now. At the end of C STREET I wrote that in 2016 a little-known fundamentalist congressman named Mike Pence might make it to the White House…

    Mike Pence is not alone in the Trump administration — hands-down the most fundamentalist administration in U.S. history. Beyond the headlines, the Christian Right is claiming the Trumpocene as its greatest strength in decades. Learn more in THE FAMILY:,,,

    To make THE FAMILY, @netflix teamed up with Jigsaw Productions, the filmmakers responsible for Oscar and Emmy-winning films such as TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE; GOING CLEAR; and CLIENT 9. We had to keep it quiet in production for the last two years. I’m so thrilled to announce it now.

    I was just talking about the book recently. I have some issues with it, but it’s essential information to have in this moment.

  153. says

    Axios – “Saudi arms sales move forward after Trump veto”:

    President Trump vetoed 3 bipartisan resolutions that would have blocked more than $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

    Why it matters: These sales would “replenish part of the Saudi arsenal that lawmakers say has been used against civilians in Yemen’s civil war,” per the Washington Post. Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been one area of sustained bipartisan backlash, due in part to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi government and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

    The bottom line: Congress won’t likely have the necessary votes to override this veto, as the Senate and House would each need a two-thirds vote. The Senate would need 16 more senators than those who voted for last month’s resolutions to block the arms sale….

  154. says

    The Hill – “GOP blocks election security bills after Mueller testimony”:

    Senate Republicans blocked two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure on Wednesday in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller warning about meddling attempts during his public testimony before congressional lawmakers.

    Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance, as well as a bill to let the Senate Sergeant at Arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff.

    But Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked each of the bills. She didn’t give reason for her objections, or say if she was objecting on behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to pass a bill, but any one senator is able to object.

    The floor drama comes after Mueller warned about election interference during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, saying Russia was laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election “as we sit here.”

    “We are expecting them to do it again during the next campaign,” Mueller said.

    But election interference bills face an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans aren’t expected to move legislation through the Rules Committee, the panel with primary jurisdiction, and have warned about attempts to “federalize” elections.

    Democrats cited Mueller as they tried to get consent on Wednesday evening to pass their bills….

  155. tomh says

    NYT:
    U.S. to Resume Executions of Death-Row Inmates

    WASHINGTON — The federal government will resume executions of death-row inmates after a nearly two-decade moratorium, Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday.

    The announcement reverses what had been essentially a moratorium on the federal death penalty. The federal government has not executed an inmate since 2003, though prosecutors still seek the death penalty in some cases, including for Dylann S. Roof, an avowed white supremacist who killed nine African-American churchgoers in 2015, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber.

    “Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals,” Mr. Barr said in a statement. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

    Mr. Barr said that Hugh Hurwitz, the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, has scheduled executions in December and January for five men convicted of murder. They will take place at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., and additional executions will be scheduled later, Mr. Barr said.

  156. says

    From text quoted by SC in 233:

    […] convince huge numbers of voters that we could all thrive in that unregulated space, that being British meant being the bully, not the bullied. But the reality is that it’s always the rich and powerful who thrive without regulation – at the expense of everyone else.

    Sounds like a “Britain First” idea made up by Trump-ish asshats, and backed by rich and powerful bullies.

    All about the money.

  157. says

    Ilhan Omar in the NYT – “Ilhan Omar: It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism”:

    Throughout history, demagogues have used state power to target minority communities and political enemies, often culminating in state violence. Today, we face that threat in our own country, where the president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land. In recent weeks, he has lashed out unprompted against four freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and me, from Minnesota.

    Last week, as President Trump watched the crowd at one of his rallies chant “Send her back,” aimed at me and my family, I was reminded of times when such fearmongering was allowed to flourish. I also couldn’t help but remember the horrors of civil war in Somalia that my family and I escaped, the America we expected to find and the one we actually experienced.

    The president’s rally will be a defining moment in American history. It reminds us of the grave stakes of the coming presidential election: that this fight is not merely about policy ideas; it is a fight for the soul of our nation. The ideals at the heart of our founding — equal protection under the law, pluralism, religious liberty — are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.

    The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another — and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.

    His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces — from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.

    The only way to push back is to be unequivocal about our values. It is not enough to condemn Mr. Trump’s racism. We must affirmatively confront racist policies — whether the caging of immigrant children at the border or the banning of Muslim immigrants or the allowing of segregation in public housing. It is not enough to condemn the corruption and self-dealing of this administration. We must support policies that unmistakably improve working people’s lives, including by strengthening collective bargaining, raising the minimum wage and pursuing a universal jobs guarantee.

    The consequences of this fight will not just be felt here at home but around the world. Right-wing nationalism in Hungary, Russia, France, Britain and elsewhere is on the march in ways not seen in decades. America has been a beacon of democratic ideals for the world. If we succumb to the fever of right-wing nationalism, it will have consequences far beyond our borders.

    The proudest moments in our history — from the Emancipation Proclamation to the civil rights movement to the struggle against fascism — have come when we fight to protect and expand basic democratic rights. Today, democracy is under attack once again. It’s time to respond with the kind of conviction that has made America great before.

    More at the link.

  158. tomh says

    Federal judge in California halts Trump’s latest asylum ban

    By Maria Sacchetti and
    Spencer S. Hsu July 24 at 10:36 PM

    A federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked a new Trump administration policy Wednesday that sought to bar Central Americans and other migrants from requesting asylum at the southern border, saying the federal government’s frustrations with rising border crossings did not justify “shortcutting the law.”

    The policy aimed to curtail Central American migration across the southern border by requiring asylum seekers to apply in countries they had passed through on the way to the United States, particularly Mexico or Guatemala.

    U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, who halted another version of the Trump administration’s asylum ban last year, said a “mountain” of evidence showed that migrants could not safely seek asylum in Mexico. He said the rule likely violated federal law in part by categorically denying asylum to almost anyone crossing the border. U.S. law generally allows anyone who sets foot on U.S. soil to apply for asylum.

    Tigar issued a preliminary injunction blocking the July 16 policy and ordered the government to restore the existing system. He wrote that the “government rightly notes that the strains on this country’s immigration system have only increased since the fall of 2018,” but he said that did not authorize them to bypass Congress.

    “The public undoubtedly has a pressing interest in fairly and promptly addressing both the harms to asylum applicants and the administrative burdens imposed by the influx of persons seeking asylum,” Tigar, an Obama administration appointee in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, wrote in his 45-page ruling. “But shortcutting the law, or weakening the boundary between Congress and the Executive, are not the solutions to these problems.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case in court on behalf of several nonprofits, cheered the ruling and said the Trump administration’s policy would have effectively ended asylum at the southern border.

    Tigar’s ruling followed an hour-long hearing Wednesday in San Francisco and a short-lived legal victory for the Trump administration over the same policy, in a different lawsuit in Washington.

    U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, declined to halt the policy, setting up a potential race to federal appellate courts over one of the administration’s key migration initiatives.

    President Trump immediately hailed the D.C. decision as a victory, telling reporters outside the White House that the decision “helps us very much at the border.”

    “So the asylum is a very big ruling. That was a tremendous ruling today,” Trump said. “We appreciate it. We respect the courts very much.”

    Neither judge ruled on the merits of the cases, and the Justice Department is expected to appeal Tigar’s ruling.

    A Justice Department spokesman said in response to the ruling that Congress granted the attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security broad authority to bar “certain categories” of asylum seekers.

    “The district court was wrong to conclude otherwise, to second-guess the agencies’ expert policy judgment, and to halt this critical measure on a nationwide basis — particularly on the very same day that another district judge, faced with a legal challenge to this rule by virtually indistinguishable organizations, refused to issue such nationwide injunction relief,” the statement said.

    Tigar wrote that the Trump administration failed to show that forcing asylum seekers to apply in Mexico is a “feasible alternative” and said during the hearing that government lawyers did not provide a “scintilla” of evidence to suggest that Guatemala could absorb them, either.

    Instead, he wrote, human rights organizations documented “in exhaustive detail” how asylum seekers in Mexico are subjected to violence and abuse from government officials and others, denied their rights, and even “wrongly returned” to nations they fled. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Mexico has “strong obstacles” to applying for asylum, including the lack of proper screening procedures and other measures.

    “Yet, even though this mountain of evidence points one way, the agencies went the other — with no explanation,” Tigar said of the rule, published by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

    Tigar noted that his ruling simply restores the asylum system to the one Congress authorized in federal law.

  159. says

    Trump pretends Mueller didn’t say he could face post-presidency charges.

    […] Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, [asked], “Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Mueller replied, “Yes.”

    Taken aback, Buck asked again, “You believe that you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” Again, Mueller replied, “Yes.”

    […] Trump didn’t fully understand the testimony. NBC News’ Hallie Jackson asked the president whether he’s concerned about a possible indictment after leaving office. Trump threw a little tantrum.

    “[Mueller] did a correction later on in the afternoon. And you know what that correction was, and you still asked the question. Do you know why? Because you’re fake news. And you’re one of the most.

    “And let me just tell you, the fact that you even asked that question, you’re fake news. Because you know what? He totally corrected himself in the afternoon.”

    Mueller did not totally correct himself in the afternoon, probably because there was nothing to correct. He was right about this the first time.

    The more Trump was presented with reality, the more he resisted it, saying over and over again that Mueller didn’t say that Trump could be charged after leaving office, reality be damned. The more he was patiently presented with the truth, the more the president stubbornly refused to believe it.

    Trump insisted – three times – that the reporter should “read his correction,” which led Jackson to again explain that Mueller’s “correction” had nothing to do with whether Trump could be charged after leaving office.

    Either unwilling or unable to understand these rather simple details, the Republican eventually said, “That’s why people don’t deal with you, because you’re not an honest reporter.”

    Trump’s ignorance was cringe-worthy, but it struck me as notable for a couple of reasons.

    First, there was a clarification yesterday afternoon, but the president’s confusion notwithstanding, it dealt with Mueller’s approach to a Justice Department policy on indicting a sitting president, not a former one.

    […] Trump didn’t know what he was talking about.

    […] Trump has been implicated in a variety of alleged crimes, though he’ll apparently be shielded from prosecution so long as he’s in office. If he were to lose in 2020, however, that shield would disappear, and the prospect of an indictment would become quite real. […]

    Link

  160. says

    North Korea manages to make Trump’s failures even more obvious.

    North Korea fired two short-range missiles early Thursday local time […]

    South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement that “a meticulous assessment by South Korea and the U.S.” found both devices were a new type of short-ranged ballistic missile.

    NBC News link

    Commentary:

    […] This is getting a little embarrassing. In April, about a week after a North Korean missile launch, Trump inexplicably bragged, “There’s been no tests. There’s been no nothing.”

    In May, the American president again insisted, “There have been no ballistic missiles going out,” which is only true if one overlooks the ballistic missiles North Korea keeps launching.

    In June, Trump again said there’s been no “ballistic missile testing,” despite, you know, all the ballistic missile testing.

    [Trump] feels the need to create an alternate reality because to acknowledge the facts would be to concede that his policy isn’t working. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius recently had a good column along these lines:

    Watching the clown show that has been President Trump’s foreign policy lately, you wonder whether there’s any coherent logic embedded in his erratic, internally conflicting statements about Iran, North Korea and other issues. And of course, there is: It’s the politics, stupid.

    Trump is already in full campaign mode. In his quest for reelection, he doesn’t want to be seen to fail in anything. He wants to sound tough (popular) so long as it doesn’t get him into a war (unpopular).

    Trump is polishing his résumé, claiming success for North Korea diplomatic negotiations that have gone nowhere. If that means contradicting national security adviser John Bolton and pretending that Pyongyang’s recent ballistic tests didn’t violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, fine, no problem. Just don’t call it a failure.

    Evidently, it also means pretending the recent ballistic tests didn’t occur at all. […]

  161. says

    Followup to comment 245.

    Trump and his team are still busy concocting an alternate reality following Mueller’s testimony.

    […] Team Trump lied immediately after Mueller wrapped up his testimony. As a Washington Post analysis explained:

    Before Robert S. Mueller III’s Capitol Hill testimony had ended, President Trump’s reelection campaign sent out an email summarizing what the former special counsel said. Or, really, summarizing what they wish he had said.

    “MUELLER CONFIRMS: NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, TOTALLY UNPRECEDENTED TREATMENT,” the email’s headline reads…. According to the email, “Mueller confirmed what we’ve known from the very beginning: there was NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, and the treatment of President Trump is TOTALLY UNPRECEDENTED.”

    There was no such “confirmation” from Mueller or anyone else. The events described in the Trump campaign’s message were fiction.

    The president added in the letter to supporters, “How many times do I have to be exonerated before they stop?”

    It was probably a rhetorical question, but I’ll take a moment to answer it with a related question: how about once? Perhaps the questions about Trump and the Russia scandal would fade if he were exonerated a single time? Maybe there’s reason for public skepticism after Trump’s seventh bogus exoneration claim?

    Purportedly quoting a Fox News personality, the Republican added on Twitter this morning that Mueller was “exposed” yesterday “as being best friends” with former FBI Director James Comey. Putting aside how irrelevant the two men’s tenuous personal ties are, at no point yesterday was any such thing proven.

    If yesterday’s congressional hearings were such a great victory for the White House, why can’t Trump and his team tell the truth about what happened? Why concoct an alternate reality? […]

  162. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 242, (see the linked Tweet).

    Kellyanne Conway proves once again that she is a total asshat:

    […] “I feel like Bob Mueller may well have been used by the people around him to imbue this fake and ill-conceived investigation with credibility and legitimacy it wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said. “And I am first and foremost who I will always be, which is a daughter, a mother, and, of course, I feel great empathy and compassion for folks who, as some of these headlines suggest, may be feeble or not understanding some of the questions — asking them to be repeated, clearly not conversant with the facts and with his own report.”

    She added that it was “unfortunate” that people — like her — were focusing on Mueller’s performance and not the “Mueller report and what is not there.”

    “The people who are focused on the optics and the theatrics and the performance yesterday are missing the point, there was no substance,” she said. “The best actor in the world can’t perform if there’s no good script, if there’s no plot line, if there is no character development, if there’s no conclusion. People were relying too heavily on Bob Mueller, for years now, to deliver on what they had promised.” […]

    TPM link

  163. says

    Followup to comment 248.

    From Wonkette:

    Robert Mueller testified before Congress yesterday and was frustratingly neither a meme nor literally the Terminator. This has led many Republicans to question the former special counsel’s mental acuity and overall health. These are the same partisan hacks who believe Donald Trump is of sound racist mind and stuffed-crust body.

    The president’s pet liar, Kellyanne Conway, turned up on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show this morning, and they both expressed their dismay that Democrats had dug up Mueller’s corpse and paraded him around the House of Representatives like a Weekend at Bernie’s remake.

    HEWITT: My wonderfully soft-hearted wife could not watch yesterday because it was so uncomfortable to watch an obviously distressed Robert Mueller fumbling for answers, confused — some used the term “feeble” — and leaving the impression that he’d not been in charge of this investigation… It left an impression that a terrible abuse of power has been going on.

    Hewitt is correct: Mueller’s testimony did leave an impression that a “terrible abuse of power” has taken place, but it’s the current White House squatter who’s the perpetrator. Conway seized on Hewitt’s comment to feed his listeners some baseless conspiracy theories. […]

    You might want to fetch an airsick bag while we explain where they’re going with this. Republicans have shamelessly attacked Mueller during his investigation, but the former FBI director’s professional and personal reputation is — putting it mildly — slightly better than Trump’s. It was also hard to paint Mueller as a common Ken Starr obsessed with taking down the president — not that they didn’t try. Now Republicans can pretend without evidence (Trump’s favorite kind of evidence) that shadowy, unnamed-because-they-don’t-exist Democrats have pulled the old guy’s strings and manipulated him into advancing their diabolical leftist coup. […]

    The “headlines” that suggest Mueller is a doddering shell of his former self are either from conservative rags or are reporting on Conway’s grossness. This is how these hucksters create a self-fulfilling narrative. It’s a race to see whether Mueller or Joe Biden die first from their advanced onset Hillary Death Syndrome. […]

    See the link for examples of headlines from conservative media that characterize Mueller as “feeble.”

  164. says

    Deutsche Bank Discovers Possible Downside To Doing Business With Convicted Pedophiles

    Wonkette link

    […] “On a number of occasions, Deutsche Bank executives had thought they had shut down all of Mr. Epstein’s accounts, only to learn that there were others that they had not previously been aware of.” […]

    Did Epstein route the $350,000 in payments to potential witnesses against him through DB? Dunno, ’cause they’re not saying. But when they were closing out his accounts this year, the bank did discover a handful of transactions that prompted them to file a suspicious activity report to the Treasury Department. In fact, the Times reports that anti-money laundering compliance officers raised concerns five years ago about Epstein, from fear that his toxic reputation might come around to bite Deutsche in the ass, and because of “potentially illegal activity in one of Mr. Epstein’s accounts, including transactions in which money was moving outside the United States.” No one can confirm if the 2015-2016 transactions were kicked up to Treasury, but they learned their lesson for sure by 2019, so it’s all good, right? […]

    Much more at the link.

  165. says

    New: Danielle Stella, the QAnon-dabbling Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar, has been arrested twice this year for alleged shoplifting. She’s charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing $2,300 worth of stuff from a Target.”

  166. says

    SC @252, kind of funny if you like “all the best people” farces.

    In other news: Mueller never really cared about Trump. (article is by Dahlia Lithwick)

    Slate link

    In the end, one of the major questions special counsel Robert Mueller faced when he testified before house committees on Wednesday was whether his investigation should have existed at all. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, was one of the first to kick off this line of inquiry, using his time to make the point that Robert Mueller had wasted years investigating Donald Trump, because Mueller had known all along that a sitting president could not be indicted. What, then, was the point of doing this, if the result was always going to be the same? Ratcliffe’s frustration focused specifically on the idea that Mueller’s conclusion was equivocal—and didn’t clarify whether Mueller thinks Trump is guilty or innocent.

    “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated, because their innocence was not conclusively determined?” Ratcliffe asked.

    “I cannot, but this is unique situation,” Mueller began.

    Ratcliffe cut him off. “Let’s just leave it at: You can’t find it.” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, went even further: “Since you decided under the OLC opinion that you couldn’t prosecute a sitting president, meaning President Trump, why do we have all of this investigation of President Trump that the other side is talking about when you know that you weren’t going to prosecute him?”

    Mueller tried, halfheartedly, I think, to explain that in fact, an investigation of a sitting president was unique, but it still had to happen. Over and over, as the day chugged on, Mueller was asked why he had investigated the president in the first place if the outcome—that Mueller’s team would not indict a sitting president—was a foregone conclusion. Mueller attempted to explain that his job was, as any prosecutor’s job is, to follow the investigation wherever it may have taken him. But he was instead repeatedly excoriated for using a futile inquiry to promote a vicious and partisan “fishing expedition.” The takeaway, for Republican purposes, was that if the president does it, it’s never illegal, which, if we remember, was Richard Nixon’s story. It’s Trump’s now as well.

    Here is the problem with that narrative: It obscures the reality that Robert Mueller was originally charged with investigating Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and that only secondarily was he tasked with figuring out whether the president had obstructed justice by impeding that investigation. The whole point of this sad affair—lost entirely on a Law & Order nation intent on seeing the Mueller investigation end with Trump in handcuffs on the White House lawn—was that Russia hacked an election, that it is right now hacking the next election, and that this is a threat to national security and the long-standing American experiment in representative democracy. […]

    More at the link.

  167. says

    It’s not just the Russians anymore as Iranians and others turn up disinformation efforts ahead of 2020 vote.

    Washington Post link

    A recent tweet from Alicia Hernan — whose Twitter account described her as a wife, mother and lover of peace — did not mince words about her feelings for President Trump: “That stupid moron doesn’t get that that by creating bad guys, spewing hate filled words and creating fear of ‘others’, his message is spreading to fanatics around the world. Or maybe he does.”

    That March 16 tweet, directed to a Hawaii congressman, was not the work of an American voter venting her frustration. The account, “@AliciaHernan3,” was what disinformation researchers call a “sock puppet” — a type of fictitious online persona used by Russians when they were seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

    But it was Iranians, not Russians, who created @AliciaHernan3, complete with a picture of a blonde woman with large, round-framed glasses and a turtleneck sweater. It was one of more than 7,000 phony accounts from Iran that Twitter has shut down this year alone. […]

    “Multiple foreign actors have demonstrated an ability and willingness to leverage these kinds of influence operations in pursuit of their geopolitical goals,” said Lee Foster, head of the intelligence team investigating information operations for FireEye, a cybersecurity firm based in California. “We risk the U.S. information space becoming a free-for-all for foreign interference if, as a society, we fail to get an effective grasp on this problem.”

    Researchers for FireEye and other firms have reported suspected Iranian disinformation on most major social media platform — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and others — and on standalone websites, as well. In May, FireEye also alleged that U.S. news sites may have been tricked into publishing letters to the editor penned by Iranian operatives.

    The firm’s analysis spotted a number of instances where letters in newspapers in Virginia and Texas appeared to share similar characteristics to accounts on Twitter believed to be part of an Iran-based disinformation network. FireEye also catalogued fictitious Twitter personas used by Iranians including a Harvard student, a Michigan bodybuilder and an Iranian American woman from Seattle. […]

  168. says

    US-Born Teen Lost 26 Pounds While Detained By Border Patrol For Weeks

    Link

    18-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia, who was born in Texas, said he experienced firsthand the appalling conditions at the migrant detention facilities while border officials detained him for more than three weeks.

    Claudia Galan, Galicia’s lawyer, confirmed to TPM that her client had lost 26 pounds due to poor nutrition while being held under the custody of the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.

    Immigration agents kept Galicia in the crowded migrant holding facility for 23 days despite Galan’s attempt to show officers the teen’s birth certificate. He was finally released on Tuesday.

    Galan credits her client’s release to the advocacy group One Michigan for Immigrant Rights after the organization spread the word on Galicia’s situation.

    “Without their grassroots efforts, Francisco would have continued to be held by ICE,” she told TPM.

    According to Galan, neither CBP nor ICE have issued an apology to Galicia.

    The attorney also said Congress needs to act.

    “My client’s situation is not an isolated incident. His story going on national media needs to pressure Congress to take action on a policy to put accountability on how the Department of Homeland security operates,” Galan said. “I hope to see the Hispanic Caucus take a stand to put a stop to the racial profiling that is clearly being practiced by CBP and ICE.” […]

  169. says

    All the best people staying classy all the time.

    NJ School Official Said His Life ‘Would Be Complete’ If Rep. Rashida Tlaib Died

    A New Jersey school board official is under fire after his hateful Facebook posts about Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Muslims in general were recently discovered.

    Daniel Leonard, an elected school board member of the Toms River Regional Schools district, posted a photo of Tlaib in April captioned with “my life would be complete if she/they die.”

    Other posts included an image of “Sharia Barbie,” a doll wearing a hijab with bruises all over her face, and an article of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) labeling her a “terrorist…100%” […]

    “The bigoted, hateful and threatening social media posts shared by this elected board of education official serve to disqualify him for any position that has responsibility for the safety, security and well-being of New Jersey’s diverse student body,” Sues said in a statement. “The bigoted views expressed by Mr. Leonard have no place in an educational system that seeks to celebrate diversity and encourage students of all faiths and backgrounds to excel scholastically and to make positive contributions to our society.” […]

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a fellow member of the four-person “Squad” of progressive congresswomen, has been targeted by similarly threatening Facebook posts by authority figures. Two Louisiana cops were fired this week after one of them posted that Ocasio-Cortez “needs a round” while the other “liked” it. […]

    How many of these bigoted posts will be picked up and amplified by the Russian troll farm?

  170. says

    Inside Liberty University’s ‘culture of fear’

    Washington Post link

    How Jerry Falwell Jr. silences students and professors who reject his pro-Trump politics.

    In my first week as editor in chief of the Champion, Liberty University’s student-run weekly, our faculty adviser, Deborah Huff, ordered me to apologize. I’d noticed that our evangelical school’s police department didn’t publish its daily crime log online, as many other private university forces did, so I searched elsewhere for crime information I might use in an article. I called the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to find out what the law required Liberty to disclose. But the public affairs worker there told the Liberty University Police Department, which complained to Huff. She called to upbraid me: Apparently, I had endangered our newspaper’s relationship with the LUPD. Huff and Chief Richard Hinkley convened a meeting inside a police department conference room, and Huff sat next to me while I proffered the forced apology to Hinkley — for asking questions. […]

    I’d spent the previous three years watching the university administration, led by President Jerry Falwell Jr. […] meddle in our coverage, revise controversial op-eds and protect its image by stripping damning facts from our stories. Still, I stuck around. I thought that if I wrote with discretion and kept my head down, I could one day win enough trust from the university to protect the integrity of our journalism. I even dreamed we could eventually persuade the administration to let the Champion go independent from its supervision. I was naive.

    Instead, when my team took over that fall of 2017, we encountered an “oversight” system — read: a censorship regime — that required us to send every story to Falwell’s assistant for review. Any administrator or professor who appeared in an article had editing authority over any part of the article; they added and deleted whatever they wanted. Falwell called our newsroom on multiple occasions to direct our coverage personally, as he had a year earlier when, weeks before the 2016 election, he read a draft of my column defending mainstream news outlets and ordered me to say whom I planned to vote for. I refused on ethical grounds, so Falwell told me to insert “The author refused to reveal which candidate he is supporting for president” at the bottom of the column. I complied. […]

    Eventually I quit […] Student journalists must now sign a nondisclosure agreement that forbids them from talking publicly about “editorial or managerial direction, oversight decisions or information designated as privileged or confidential.” The form also states that the students understand they are “privileged” to receive “thoughts, opinions, and other statements” from university administrators.

    […] one example of an infrastructure of thought-control that Falwell and his lieutenants have introduced into every aspect of Liberty University life. […] This “culture of fear,” as it was described by several of the dozen Liberty denizens who talked to me for this story — most of them anonymously to protect their jobs or their standing — worsened during my four years on campus because of the 2016 presidential election.

    […] the school’s methods became even more aggressive after Falwell endorsed Donald Trump early that year, according to multiple current and former faculty members. “The closer you get to the president’s office,” says former history professor Brian Melton, discussing a chilling effect at the school, “the worse it becomes.” Falwell’s staff now operates masterfully to squash challenges to his views and his rise in national political influence.

    The dissent that did exist — like off-message campus speakers, insufficiently sycophantic board members, student activists and our newspaper staff — was ruthlessly neutralized. Liberty, founded on principles of fundamental Christianity, is now a place that has zero tolerance for new questions and ideas. Those who harbor them must remain silent, or leave. […]

    More at the link.

    Cult.

  171. says

    Global warming:

    […] On Wednesday and Thursday, new national heat records were set in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and temperatures rose to record highs in major cities such as Paris, which soared to 109 degrees. This is the hottest Paris has been in recorded history.

    The heat wave, caused by a massive area of high pressure extending into the upper atmosphere, also known as a heat dome, is set to envelop Scandinavia in the next two days, before making a run at the Arctic. This could dramatically speed up the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and enhance the loss of already record-low sea ice.

    Scientific studies show that heat waves are becoming more common, severe and longer-lasting as global temperatures warm in response to human activities, including in Europe. They are also now more likely to occur.

    On Thursday, new national heat records were set in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Both Paris and London broke records Thursday, as well. In the Netherlands, Thursday marked the first time that temperatures had exceeded 104 degrees (40 Celsius).

    According to Meteo-France, Paris set a new all-time high temperature record of 108.7 degrees (42.6 Celsius) Thursday, shattering the previous record of 104.7 Fahrenheit (40.4 Celsius), set in 1947. As in the case of London and much of the rest of Western Europe, most Parisians lack air conditioning, which heightens the health threat posed by such an intense heat wave. […]

    And in Greenland, the ice sheet has lost 160 billion tons of ice through surface melting in July, according to Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. That’s enough water to fill about 64 million Olympic-size swimming pools, she said in a tweet from the World Meteorological Organization. The melt season got off to an unusually early start, but it has not beaten the extent or severity of the melt seen in 2012.

    Washington Post link

  172. says

    Say what now? Marines?

    Oh. The Marines were helping undocumented immigrants cross the border. That gives this story a different perspective. One wonders what is really going on here.

    Sixteen U.S. Marines were arrested on human smuggling and drug charges in southern California.

    At least eight other Marines have also been questioned about their involvement in alleged drug offenses.

    […] The Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton based on information gained from a previous human smuggling investigation, the Marine Corps said in a statement Thursday. […]

    None of the arrested or detained Marines were a part of the Southwest Border Support mission, according to the military’s statement.

    Two Marines had been taken into custody July 3 for allegedly helping to smuggle undocumented immigrants across the southern border into San Diego County. The men allegedly received the migrants at a pickup point about 20 miles east of a U.S. port of entry at Tecate and seven miles north of the border, officials said earlier this month.

    The drug charges are unrelated to moving drugs across the southern border. During the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into the smuggling, investigators found a number of Marines involved with illegal drugs. […]

    NBC News link

  173. says

    Maddow’s opening segment last night: “Trump mocked on stage by errant satire presidential seal”: “Rachel Maddow shares the ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s appearance at an event for teenage supporters in which he stood in front of a fake presidential seal altered to mock him as a Russian puppet.” (See blf’s #224 above.)

    Two notes: The Trump gang is now using the cheesy approach from Trump’s earlier cons. I’d urge everyone again to look at the descriptions and images provided in the complaint in the Doe et al. v. The Trump Corporation et al. MLM fraud suit (linked here – Document Number 1; see #223 for most recent news). Also, it’s still amazing that even propagandistic narratives of Trump’s personal history can’t find a single good thing to say about his character or anything he’s done that hasn’t been motivated by personal greed or self-glorification.

  174. says

    Don’t forget: at the same time as Trump is whipping up fear of, and hatred against, Ilhan Omar, suggesting she’s an extremist, he’s also vetoing bills trying to prevent arms sales to Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers and an ideology that helped inspire AQ & ISIS.”

  175. says

    Pelosi met with AOC this morning, and said it went “very well.” She’ll be doing her weekly press conference shortly, and Nadler will be doing a separate press conference at noon to talk about the next investigative steps.

  176. tomh says

    NYT:

    Raising Prospect of Impeaching Trump, House Seeks Mueller’s Grand Jury Secrets

    The House Judiciary Committee on Friday said it was asking a federal judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, saying it would use the court filing to make the most explicit declaration yet that lawmakers are weighing whether to impeach President Trump.

    In a significant escalation, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Democratic chairman of the committee, said at a news conference that the application to the court will declare that the panel needs access to Mr. Mueller’s grand-jury evidence — such as witness testimony — to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president.

    “Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions,” Mr. Nadler quoted the legal filing as telling the judge, Beryl A. Howell, who supervised Mr. Mueller’s grand jury.

    Referring to the part in the Constitution that gives Congress the power to impeach and remove a president, the application continues, he said: “To do so, the House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise all its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — recommendation of articles of impeachment.”

    More at the link.

  177. says

    JFC, this is horrible.

    Inside the Courtroom Where Every Asylum Seeker Gets Rejected

    Over eight years, America’s harshest immigration judge denied more than 200 claims in a row.

    <blockquote[…] in a small courtroom in rural Louisiana, an Eritrean man was fighting an impossible battle. The man, whom I’ll call Abraham—he asked that his real name not be used—was trying to convince immigration judge Agnelis Reese that he should receive asylum in the United States. He told Reese he had been imprisoned for 12 years in Eritrea for refusing to complete his military service, and tortured—not only beaten but sexually assaulted. “What do you mean?” Reese asked.

    Abraham, who did not have a lawyer, told Reese he was too ashamed to share what he had been through. She pressed him. “I’m not trying to force you,” she said, according to a transcript of the hearing, “but this type of harm would be important to your case.” With his future at stake, Abraham explained how two Eritrean prison guards had covered his nose with plastic before at least one of them put his penis in Abraham’s mouth, at which point he passed out. “Did they do anything else that was sexual molestation?” Reese asked.

    “They also inserted a stick in my bottom,” Abraham said. Reluctantly, he recalled being sodomized at least three times in a bloodstained room “intended for suffering.”

    When Abraham mentioned that he was a Pentecostal Christian and that his status as a religious minority had contributed to his mistreatment in Eritrea, Reese pounced. During an initial interview with an American asylum officer, Abraham had not mentioned being sexually assaulted. “When you lied to the asylum officers or failed to disclose your sexual abuse,” Reese asked, “what do you think Jesus thought about that?”

    “I did not lie,” Abraham replied.

    Reese rejected his asylum claim on narrow technical grounds. Abraham had stated, correctly, that the Eritrean government effectively controls the state church. Yet, Reese wrote, he did not produce documentation for this fact. Even if he somehow had been able to satisfy this requirement, Abraham probably never had a chance. Between 2011 and 2018, Reese denied every single one of the more than 200 asylum claims she heard.

    […] Asylum seekers with relatively good fortune might end up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where they have a 44 percent chance of being granted asylum. For those who are released from detention and have their cases transferred to New York City, it’s almost 80 percent. The less lucky ones get locked up in Louisiana, where immigration judges reject 84 percent of asylum claims. And the least fortunate find themselves at the Oakdale Immigration Court before Reese, America’s harshest asylum judge.

    On paper, Reese might seem like someone who would be sympathetic to the challenges facing persecuted minorities: She’s a black woman, a Clinton administration appointee, a registered Democrat, and a preacher. But her unforgiving reputation precedes her. Theodore Tonka, a Cameroonian who sought asylum in 2017, recalls other African asylum seekers telling him to pray he wouldn’t get Reese. “If this woman is to hear your case,” he remembers one saying, “you are going back home.” Tonka started to believe them when an attorney he hoped would represent him said she didn’t want to waste her time with Reese. After the judge rejected his claim, “I left with the same impression that everyone else had,” Tonka said. “She’s evil.” Two attorneys I spoke with compared Reese to the devil; one called her “Satan incarnate.” […]

    He [Abraham] still struggles to make sense of how he ended up before Reese. “I ran away from dictator in my country,” he says in English. “I come to face a dictator in a courtroom in America?” But he doesn’t wish her ill. The book of Matthew, he says, tells Christians to “love your enemy…and pray for those who persecute you.”

    The Gospel, Abraham says, “was talking about Judge Reese. I never hated her. I prayed for her heart to come back.” More at the link.

  178. says

    Nadler: ‘We’re gonna go to court today to ask for the grand jury information underlying the Mueller report and, on Monday and Tuesday, to enforce our subpoena of former W.H. counsel Don McGahn, who was the main witness in front of the Mueller committee’.”

  179. says

    Raskin: ‘I would say we are in an impeachment investigation’.”

    The Nadler & co. press conference was pretty odd. They seemed to be suggesting that there’s no clear difference between opening an official impeachment inquiry and…not, and arguing on that basis that everything they’ve been doing is essentially an impeachment inquiry. Which is novel.

    In related news, from NPR (also tracking the House members) – “UPDATE: 100 members of the House of Representatives now support an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.”

  180. says

    Bloomberg – “Trump’s 3% Growth Feat in 2018 Undone by Annual Data Revisions”:

    President Donald Trump failed to achieve his much-ballyhooed 3% target for economic growth in 2018 after all.

    Updated government figures show that gross domestic product expanded 2.5% on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis last year. That compares with a previous estimate of 3% and an upwardly revised 2.8% in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency.

    Behind the 2018 markdown: Slower growth of business investment and exports, along with a greater output in the fourth quarter of 2017 that made the comparison less favorable….

  181. says

    News: CNN will host a Democratic presidential town hall in September focused on the climate crisis, w/ candidates who meet the DNC’s polling threshold for the September primary debate (at least 2% in 4 approved polls by Aug. 28).”

  182. says

    Laurence Tribe:

    The House has informed the federal court that it is now “conducting an investigation whose purposes include determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment.” As the petition says, “that is more than sufficient for purposes of Rule 6(e)’s ‘judicial proceeding’ exception.”

    Here’s the petition formally announcing in DC federal court the impeachment inquiry in which the House is now engaged. No ifs ands or buts. No ambiguity. The eagle has taken flight.

    Link at the second link. Very well, then.

  183. says

    Breaking: #AL02 Rep. Martha Roby (R) becomes third GOP member this week to announce retirement in 2020. Her R+16 district remains in Solid Republican at @CookPolitical.

    There are just 13 women out of 197 Republicans in the House, and now 2/13 (15%) are retiring in 2020.”

  184. says

    TONIGHT: @chrislhayes interviews Francisco Erwin Galicia, a Dallas-born U.S. citizen who spent three weeks in ICE custody in a migrant detention center. He tells his story on @allinwithchris.”

  185. says

    New GDP data confirms Trump’s tax cuts aren’t working

    Growth is slowing and business investment is actually negative.

    The economy slowed down in the second quarter of 2019 […] a fact that says less about an impending economic downturn than it does about the way […] Trump’s promised supply-side supercharging of growth hasn’t materialized.

    In addition to the growth rate slowing to 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019, government statisticians also revised downward their previous estimates of 2018 growth.

    […] The new estimate for 2018 of 2.5 percent inflation-adjusted growth in GDP is fine […]

    These “fine” numbers falling between 2 and 2.5 percent real growth per year brings the economy back to exactly what it was doing under then President Barack Obama. Trump had promised 3 percent at least, and the Republican Party had also vowed that their 2017 tax bill would deliver another boost to the economy. […] there’s no discernible Trump acceleration. […]

    There was never any analytic basis for Trump’s forecasts that he could achieve a sustainable 3 percent economic growth rate by slashing government regulations and business tax rates.

    But when it briefly looked like it was going to happen, Trump was happy to take credit for it, and his administration even made budget forecasts off the idea that it was going to take place. […]

    From Keith Boykin:

    “The economy now has hit 3 percent. Nobody thought we’d be anywhere close. I think we can go to 4, 5, and maybe even 6 percent.” – Donald Trump, Dec. 16, 2017

    The Commerce Department announced today that GDP growth slowed to 2.1% in the second quarter.

    More from the main link at the beginning of this post:

    Today’s data, however, not only shows the economy slowing to well below 3 percent growth, it includes downward revisions to previous data indicating that prior 3 percent growth was an illusion.

    A Trumpian illusion. Par for the course.

    From Victoria Guida:

    Seems pretty notable that the president can no longer claim even one year of 3+% growth, with last year’s GDP numbers revised down to 2.5%. After all the tax cuts and deregulation, growth is still plugging along about where it was under Obama.

    More from the main link at the beginning of this post:

    […] if you think there are significant downsides to Trump’s policies — like supercharging inequality or reversing decades of progress on air pollution or a rising uninsurance rate — none of this has brought us the faster growth we were promised. […]

    Trump has stimulated his way to mediocrity […]

    In the second quarter, we saw increases in household consumption spending, federal government spending, and state and local government spending. That was offset by reductions in exports, in business investment, and in residential investment. […]

    government spending growth was negative in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, and nearly zero back in 2015 and 2016. The reason for that is back when Obama was president, Republicans pretended to believe that it was very important to keep government spending as low as possible. […]

    The case for Trump’s tax cuts, however, was supposed to be not just that they’d give the economy a brief stimulus but that they would generate a massive boom of business investment. It didn’t happen, and now business investment is actually going into reverse. The economy, to the extent that it’s growing, is doing so thanks to policies Republicans claim to reject.

  186. says

    What we know — and what we don’t — about retail mogul Les Wexner’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein

    For at least a decade, the man behind Victoria’s Secret and The Limited was the disgraced financier and accused sex trafficker’s only known client.

    […] new report from the New York Times reveals that, in May 1997, Jeffrey Epstein posed as a talent scout for Victoria’s Secret, the multi-billion-dollar lingerie giant owned by Les Wexner’s L Brands, in order to lure a model named Alicia Arden to his hotel room. There, according to a police report filed with the Santa Monica Police Department and obtained by the Times, he told her to undress, groped her, and said he wanted to “manhandle” her.

    […] Two former L Brands executives also told the paper that they had learned in the mid-1990s that Epstein was trying to get involved in recruiting models for the Victoria’s Secret catalog, side-stepping professional agencies. […]

    Even by the standards of privacy-obsessed billionaires, Epstein’s business practices are shrouded in mystery. (Also, he may not actually be a billionaire himself, per Forbes, despite the many headlines that label him as such.) In a 2002 New York magazine story, a prominent investor suggested that many of his reported claims (employing a staff of 300, managing Rockefeller money) were pure bluster: “It’s like looking at the Wizard of Oz — there may be less there than meets the eye.” […]

    Epstein also obtained his Manhattan residence — a seven-story, 21,000-square-foot mansion that’s been called one of the city’s largest private homes — through Wexner, who purchased the property in 1989 for $13.2 million, furnished it lavishly, and yet “never spent more than two months there,” according to a 1996 interview Epstein gave to the New York Times. […]

    Now, prosecutors want to seize the Upper East Side mansion. According to an indictment unsealed shortly after the arrest, the home was one of several sites where Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls,” and a raid by investigators uncovered “hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of sexually suggestive photographs,” including some that appeared to be of underage girls.

    […] The last of Wexner’s SEC documents in which Epstein is named as a signatory are dated 2005, the same year that the Palm Beach police were alerted to the financier’s abuse of underage girls, according to the Herald. In 2008, Wexner hired former J.P. Morgan executive Dennis Hirsch to handle many of the trusts that were once in Epstein’s purview. […]

    Wexner said their connection hinged on complementary skill sets: “I think we both possess the skill of seeing patterns. But Jeffrey sees patterns in politics and financial markets, and I see patterns in lifestyle and fashion trends.” Sources told Ward that Epstein took on a jack-of-all-trades role working for the retail titan, cleaning up his investments, streamlining budgets, and firing staff members when needed. He took on messy legal battles related to the construction of Wexner’s yacht and a $339,900 family portrait painted of Wexner’s wife and children.

    “Wexner likes having a hatchet man,” one said. “Whenever there is dirty work to be done he’d stick Jeffrey on it. … He has a reputation for being ruthless but he gets the job done.”

    More at the link.

  187. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Yells At Sweden For Keeping His New Black Friend In Jail”

    Trump is fresh out of “[his] Blacks,” and boy is he mad. […]

    Since Trump has been caught doing racisms again, it is imperative that he find a brotha who is desperately in need of some MAGA style help, in exchange for being Trump’s New Black Friend. […] Trump needed a Black Savior ASAP. […]

    Three weeks ago, a twice-Grammy-nominated rapper named A$AP Rocky got into an altercation in Sweden, it was filmed, and what you believe happened may very well depend on which of the recordings you saw. I won’t get into guilt or innocence, that’s not my job. I am here to shine my little light on this president and the horribly humiliating lens he chooses to view Black people through.

    […] According to multiple videos posted online, Rocky was walking around Stockholm with members of his security team when two men began to follow them. The videos show that the men were repeatedly warned to leave Rocky alone and to stop following the group. At some point, the tension escalated to violence, and Rocky and his security team can be seen in some videos beating up the men; the rapper is seen tossing one of the men across the street. After a few minutes, Rocky and his team leave the scene, leaving one of the men laying on the ground.

    […] A$AP Rocky was arrested.

    Friends of A$AP Rocky, but not Trump who doesn’t even know him, were outraged over his being held without bail for assault. Apparently other countries have their own legal systems. […]
    Then this happened….

    […] [Kanye] West reportedly asked his wife Kim Kardashian to use her White House connections to ask President Trump to advocate for Rocky’s release, according to multiple reports. […]

    Within 24 hours of the reports, Trump announced that he and West had spoken, and that the president would be contacting Sweden’s Prime Minister on behalf of Rocky.

    What the entire orange fuck?

    “Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky’s incarceration. I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!”

    And he spent the entire week on that subject damn near, telling all and sundry about his tireless efforts. Yet, A$AP Rocky was still charged with assault anyway. […]

    “Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky”

    “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky” […]

    The Prime Minister made sure to point out that the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts, are completely independent.”

    Swedish PM tells @realDonaldTrump that his government “neither can nor will try to influence the judicial process” in regard to #ASAPRocky case.

  188. says

    Kyle Griffin:

    The view from Judiciary Dems:

    Rep. Veronica Escobar: “Yes, we’re crossing a threshold with this filing.”

    Rep. Jamie Raskin: “From my personal point of view, we are in an impeachment inquiry.”

    Rep. Eric Swalwell: “This is an impeachment investigation.”

  189. tomh says

    @ #288
    So why not make it a formal impeachment inquiry? The answer is Pelosi. The so-called moderates and centrists are hamstringing the Democratic party. If the purpose of this filing is to convince a judge they’re serious, as they claim, it would carry a lot more weight if it were a formal inquiry. I could easily see a judge saying, ‘you want to find out if an impeachment is warranted? Well, then, open an inquiry. That’s what it’s for.’ I’m sure that’s what the SC will say when it gets there.

  190. says

    tomh @ #289,

    I’m not so sure, about any of it. I saw Jamie Raskin earlier talking about how no specific procedure for opening a formal inquiry is mentioned in the Constitution, so it appears the Judiciary Committee can just say it’s what they’re doing. How the courts respond, I have no idea, but it seems possible that honestly saying they need the information to make determinations about impeachment could be sufficient. I appreciate a contrary interpretation, but I’m not reading the signals from Pelosi the same way. I know there’s reporting about how opposed she is to impeachment, but to me she seems increasingly open to it, and to seeing what the response is when representatives go home this month and what they can get – or are stonewalled on – in terms of documents and witnesses. The pressure from the public and the numbers of representatives calling for impeachment continuing to grow, as she said openly this morning, only strengthen her hand if she decides for impeachment. I could well be wrong and she could be trying to delay until it’s too late, but I’m not seeing it in her or Nadler’s words or actions.

  191. says

    Josh Marshall: “Jerry Nadler moonwalking his committee into an impeachment inquiry absent any votes might be the best solution for all concerned.”

    (I should add to my previous comment that I’m very suspicious of these anonymous Democratic sources who appear to be giving particular outlets – Politico especially – grist for the Democrats-in-conflict, Mueller-was-a-flop, impeachment-is-off-the-table, Pelosi-and-Nadler-almost-came-to-blows-in-meetings mill.)

  192. says

    Matthew Gertz, MMFA:

    Trump’s attack on Rep. Cummings is a straight recitation of a Fox segment. “Living conditions at the border are better than most areas in his district, the city lined with abandoned building and trash on the streets.”

    Left, Fox & Friends, 6:18 a.m.
    Right, Trump, 7:14 a.m.

    The entire segment is based around a Republican strategist’s visit to the district, which she says is “the most dangerous … in America” and he “hasn’t even been there in a while.”

    Every argument and point Trump raised in those tweets is ripped directly from the Fox segment, with the exception of the federal funding/corruption point.

    Everything Donald Trump knows about Rep. Elijah Cummings and his Baltimore congressional district comes from the Fox & Friends segment he just watched.

    Note that Trump’s racist tweets about the progressive Democratic congresswomen were also triggered by a Fox & Friends segment.

    I really cannot stress enough how virtually every seemingly random Trump tweet is really just him responding to what he just saw on Fox, particularly the unhinged ones in which he lashes out at perceived enemies.

    I am running out of polite ways to say this and I realize it’s a little crass, but if you’re a political journalist who spends a lot of time asking “why did Trump tweet that tweet?” you should probably just follow me….

    He also links to this powerful video of Victor Blackwell talking about these and similar racist tweets. This should be part of the basis for impeachment.

  193. says

    Rep. Cummings:

    Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors.

    It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.

    Just yesterday, I held a hearing on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the financial hardships that families across the nation, and in Baltimore, are facing.

    Mr. President, we can address this together. Two years ago, I went to the White House to ask you to endorse my bill to let the government negotiate directly for lower drug prices.

    You told me then that you supported the legislation and that you would work with me to make it happen. I took you at your word….

  194. says

    “Morning after: Boris Johnson recovers from Lebedev’s exotic Italian party”:

    A trip Boris Johnson made to Italy for a party held by a billionaire socialite ended with the then foreign secretary at an airport “looking like he had slept in his clothes”, struggling to walk in a straight line and telling other passengers he had had a heavy night, the Guardian has been told.

    Pictures of the now prime minister along with an account from a fellow traveller shed further light on Johnson’s weekend away at the home of the media owner Evgeny Lebedev, who is known for hosting uproarious parties for the rich and famous at his converted castle near Perugia.

    Johnson has refused to answer questions about the visit in April last year, including whether he flew to Italy against the advice of his officials and without the 24/7 security detail usually assigned to the foreign secretary.

    The pictures, taken at San Francesco d’Assisi airport on Sunday 29 April 2018, suggest he did go to Italy without a police escort. According to another passenger on the flight back to the UK, Johnson was on his own, seemingly without any luggage and very much the worse for wear.

    In a brief entry of ministerial interests on the Foreign Office website, Johnson declared he had an “overnight stay” with Lebedev on 28 April, travelling “accompanied by a spouse, family member or friend”.

    Johnson did not give any further details of where he had been, who he was with or the reason for the visit – reportedly his fourth to Lebedev’s Italian home in recent years.

    Johnson chose to travel to Italy last year at time when he was under great scrutiny. The day before flying out he had been in Brussels for talks with the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and other Nato leaders to discuss how to deal with Russia in the aftermath of the nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury.

    Lebedev, 40, was also in the spotlight at the time, having sold a 30% holding in his newspapers to an investor with strong links to Saudi Arabia. The then culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, ordered the competition and media regulator to investigate the sale.

    In court on Tuesday, Lebedev’s lawyers launched a legal fight to stop the government investigation, arguing that it waited too long and missed the deadline to intervene.

    In response, the government said its decision was delayed, in part, because both Lebedev and the Saudi investors refused to provide key information.

    David Scannell, the government’s legal representative, said the Saudi Arabian government could potentially exert editorial influence over the news outlets and claimed that the sale of the shares had “national security implications”.

    The hearing was told the 30% stake in the Evening Standard and Independent had been bought in a series of “unconventional, complex, and clandestine” deals fronted by a Saudi businessman, Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel.

    The tribunal was told the Standard and the Independent were unsure who ultimately employs the businessman….

  195. says

    In today’s Guardian headlines – resistance:

    “More than 1,000 march in Warsaw in support of LGBT rights”:

    More than 1,000 people have gathered in Warsaw in support of LGBT rights a week after the first pride march in the city of Białystok was marred by violence.

    Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has made LGBT rights a campaign issue ahead of parliamentary elections expected in October, with many politicians arguing that pride marches promote unnecessary public displays of sexuality.

    Disapproval over displays of support for LGBT rights spilled over into the streets of Białystok last Saturday, with videos posted online showed men attacking marchers and shouting homophobic insults.

    Police have detained more than 30 people in connection with the violence while politicians, including the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, have condemned the attacks.

    A Warsaw court this week put a temporary hold on the distribution of “LGBT-free zone” stickers by a Polish conservative magazine.

    Analysts say PiS is hoping to re-energise its mainly rural base by vowing to push back against western liberalism and benefit from the deepening divisions in society over policies towards minority groups, the environment, abortion and migration.

    Warsaw held one of its largest pride marches to date earlier this year, with tens of thousands of participants.

    “Hong Kong: police fire teargas as thousands march in Yuen Long”:

    Hong Kong riot police have fired teargas and pepper spray at thousands of protesters who were marching in the town of Yuen Long to condemn an attack by suspected gang members on commuters last weekend.

    Almost 300,000 protesters and residents descended on Yuen Long on Saturday afternoon, defying a police ban. They marched to the mass transit station where masked men in white T-shirts had chased and beaten passengers on Sunday.

    By the evening, the peaceful march had turned tense as demonstrators pushed close to villages surrounding the town, where some of the triads believed to be behind the attack are based….

    Those attending the rally on Saturday said they were not there to make any political demands, but to speak out against violence….

    The attack in Yuen Long and the response by authorities has added fuel to the protest movement, with rallies planned for Sunday and threatened “industrial action” from civil servants and other groups.

    Observers say the escalated tensions also raise the likelihood that Beijing will push the Hong Kong government to take a harder line on the protesters. In a rare move, police denied the demonstrators’ application for the rally on Saturday in Yuen Long.

    Authorities also rejected a request to hold one on Sunday in Sheung Wan, near where police fired teargas and rubber bullets on demonstrators who had defaced China’s representative office in Hong Kong.

    Protesters have vowed to hold the rallies anyway and to continue the movement. Max Chung, who helped organise the rally on Saturday, said he believed residents had shown their resolve: “Hongkongers have stiffened their backs to say no to authoritarianism.”

    “Moscow police arrest hundreds of protesters ahead of election”:

    Russian authorities detained hundreds of protesters in Moscow on Saturday, in an attempt to quash a recent surge in protest mood that has spooked the Kremlin. Police also arrived at the homes of multiple opposition figures with search and arrest warrants, and called the editor-in-chief of the country’s leading independent television station in for questioning.

    Opposition politicians called Saturday’s protest in response to a decision not to allow a number of independent candidates to stand in a September election to Moscow’s municipal parliament. Last weekend, the Russian capital saw the largest anti-government demonstration for years over the issue.

    Taken by surprise, authorities responded over the past week by launching a series of legal procedures against various opposition figures, alternating between the sinister and the absurd. Alexei Navalny, the highest profile opposition politician, was arrested outside his house earlier in the week as he stepped out to go jogging and buy his wife flowers for her birthday; he has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. Others received midnight knocks on the door from investigators, who demanded to search their properties and branded them suspects in the crime of “hindering the work of the electoral commission”.

    Sources told Russian media outlets that a department of the FSB security services, the successor of the KGB, is running the cases against opposition leaders. The FSB apparently believes there is a foreign hand behind the protests, seeking to destabilise Russia.

    To stop crowds gathering outside the Moscow mayor’s offices on Saturday, police cordoned off whole sections of Tverskaya, one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares. Large groups of protesters tried to find a way to the mayoralty, winding through courtyards and side streets, and more often than not encountering police cordons. Police put the number of protesters at 3,500, but the real figure was likely much higher.

    As of early evening, more than 630 people had been detained by police according to independent observers, a few of them violently. It was not immediately clear what charges, if any, police would bring against them.

    The surprise wave of summer protests is the biggest since 2012, when months of discontent culminated in a rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square the day before Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for a new term as president. After that rally, which saw violent clashes between police and protesters, a crackdown was launched, with a number of protesters handed lengthy prison sentences.

    Now, authorities will again have to decide whether to step back or crack down, at a time when Putin’s ratings are slipping and his ruling United Russia party is widely despised….

  196. says

    Followup to comments 294 and 295.

    Baltimore mayor slams ‘unacceptable’ comments from Trump.

    Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young (D) blasted President Trump’s comments about his city and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Saturday, calling the president a “disappointment to the people of Baltimore.”

    “It’s completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings a patriot and a hero,” Young said in a statement posted to Twitter.

    “Mr. Trump, you are a disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country, and to the world,” he added. […]

    The Hill link

  197. says

    Followup to comment 304.

    From Kamala Harris:

    I am proud our campaign headquarters is in Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district. Baltimore has become home to my team and it’s disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city.

    From Cory Booker:

    This is painful.

    This is a moral, defining moment in America.

    Other generations had to answer:

    When the Know Nothings, McCarthy, Wallace and so many others sought to demean, degrade, demagogue and divide,

    What did you do?

    We must now answer.

    Silence is toxic complicity. twitter.com/joshscampbell/status/1155121131059179520 …

    From Beto O’Rourke:

    In his words and in his actions, Trump has been the most openly racist president we’ve had in modern history. He is trying to change the very character of America. But we won’t let him. We are so much better than this intolerance and hatred—and together, we’re going to prove it.

    From Jay Inslee:

    I was proud to serve in the House with @RepCummings for many years. He is, above all, a man who serves his constituents and his country with honor and integrity.

    Donald Trump, on the other hand, is just a racist who lives in the White House.

    From Bill de Blasio:

    Words MATTER. No one is fooled by Trump’s racist dog-whistling.

    From Tom Steyer:

    Mr. Trump always shows his true colors when he‘s nervous or feels attacked. It’s not a coincidence that he continues to lash out at lawmakers of color.

    From Joe Biden:

    .@RepCummings is one of the finest people I’ve ever served with. It is despicable for you to attack him and the people of Baltimore this way. Once again you have proved yourself unfit to hold the office. A President is supposed to lift this nation up. Not tear it down.

  198. KG says

    Grauniad comment threads are still full of people insisting a crash-out Brexit is not going to happen, Johnson is bluffing, etc. The problem with this belief is that it assumes Johnson is fully in touch with reality, and therefore realises how disastrous a crash-out is likely to be (and cares about this – but that’s irrelevant for the moment). But if he’s in touch with reality, then he must also realise that the EU is not going to back down and remove the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement – as he is now insisting it must, even for negotiations to take place. So he would be making a bluff he knows will be called. I have seen it suggested he’s relying on the Commons to block a crash-out, whereapon he will call a general election on a “No-deal Brexit” ticket, win the election, then abandon the promise on which he won. But how (again assuming he’s actually in touch reality) could he think such a convoluted strategy would work? The simple fact is that he’s now in effect committed himself to a no-deal crash-out, and has no way to back down without immense loss of face, and almost certainly, power. The Commons will have to stop him if it is to be avoided, but I don’t believe they have the resolve – probably not even the power – to do so.

  199. says

    SC @309. Oh, no. Let’s hope they didn’t poison Navalny. That seems to be one of their go-to strategies.

    SC @308, overly privileged and clueless white boy gets him comeuppance in court. Good

    Pretty much as expected, after calling Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” Trump moved on to criticize other cities, (and the people who represent them in Congress).

    Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore.

    Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable [sic] lately. Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country.

    Commentary from Melanie Schmitz, writing for Think Progress:

    […] While Baltimore has faced a number of serious issues over the years — a ProPublica story in March, for instance, outlined the rising criminal justice problems, over-policing, and poverty plaguing the highly segregated portions of west Baltimore — many have since criticized Trump’s decision to overlook the city’s positive aspects, noting that he had the ability to help address the root causes of it’s more extreme problems.

    “We stand ready and willing to work with the President, if he is willing to go beyond tweets, to help us solve some of the problems that are deep enrooting in Baltimore’s history,” Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott told reporters over the weekend.

    The Baltimore Sun editorial board, which has written in the past about the city’s poverty issues, made similar observations on Saturday.

    “The White House has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land,” it wrote.

    The board also took issue with Trump’s description of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” writing, “It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like ‘you people’ or ‘welfare queens’ or ‘crime-ridden ghettos’ or a suggestion that the congressman ‘go back’ to where he came from.” […]

    “Baltimore is in America. If you’re defending [Trump] by pointing out what you think are flaws of Baltimore, you are trashing America,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who attended law school in Baltimore, tweeted Saturday. “America is not just the places you like or look like you. It’s the places you’ve never seen & the people you’ve never met.”

  200. says

    From House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler:

    Since his [Mueller’s] report was issued, the attorney general and the president have misrepresented that report, lied to the American people about it, said that the report said — found no collusion, no obstruction and totally exonerated the president.

    Now, all those three statements are lie. It was very important for Mueller to get up there and say just that and to say the report found that the Russians — remember the heart of this — the Russians attacked our election and tried to influence our election to help elect Trump.

  201. says

    Reasonable people move on … without Trump:

    Representatives of five world powers met with Iranian diplomats Sunday in an effort to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal the U.S. withdrew from in 2018, according to the Associated Press.

    Iranian representatives were joined by officials from Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union in Vienna to discuss the matter, according to the news service.

    “I cannot say that we resolved everything,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters following the meeting. But he added that all parties involved remain “determined to save this deal,” and that “the atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good.”

    The meeting concluded with a general agreement to set up another meeting involving higher-level foreign ministers.

    […] Iran recently passed the limits on uranium stockpiling and enrichment imposed by the deal, and has said it could reverse those actions if the other parties develop economic incentives.

    The European delegation urged Iran to resume full compliance, while Iran urged the European Union, France, Great Britain and Germany to hold up their end of the deal, according to the AP.

    Iran has also pushed to activate a barter system developed by the Europeans under which they would be able to trade with Iran without violating U.S. sanctions, which Araghchi said was “not functioning yet, but it is in its final stages.”

    The Hill link

  202. says

    Barack Obama shares op-ed criticizing President Trump’s ‘poisoning of our democracy.’

    Washington Post link

    Former president Barack Obama, who doesn’t often comment on current politics, on Saturday seemed to endorse an op-ed written by 149 African Americans who served in his administration that called out President Trump for recent comments degrading four congresswomen of color.

    “I’ve always been proud of what this team accomplished during my administration. But more than what we did, I’m proud of how they’re continuing to fight for an America that’s better,” Obama tweeted with a link to the op-ed, which was published Friday evening in The Washington Post.

    Under the headline, “We are African Americans, we are patriots, and we refuse to sit idly by,” the former Obama administration officials vowed to stand up against the “racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia . . . wielded by the president and any elected official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.”

    “There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow citizens to leave our country — by citing their immigrant roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet obedience while democracy is being undermined,” they wrote.

    After Trump tweeted that four minority lawmakers should “go back” to the places they were from and a crowd of Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!” at the mention of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali refu­gee who became a U.S. citizen in 2000, at a campaign rally, most Democrats became indignant. […]

    those who worked for him [Obama] wrote that watching up close as racism surged during and after the first black presidency “provided jet-fuel for our activism, especially in moments such as these.”

  203. says

    Commentary from Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] various factions in Washington have come to speak different languages. The words may be the same, but the meanings are not. “Un-American,” in the lexicon of Representative Denny Heck, Democrat of Washington, describes people in Donald Trump’s orbit who seek to cash in on their positions when dealing with Russians. For Representative Guy Reschenthaler, Republican of Pennsylvania, “un-American” means Mueller’s decision to include in his investigation’s report so much negative information about a man “who happens to be the President of the United States.” It’s hardly a wonder that Mueller occasionally appeared confused. Each time the questioning swung between the Democrats and the Republicans, he had to switch vernaculars. […]

    […] the excitable Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, demanded to know why Mueller had charged “thirteen Russians no one’s ever heard of” but not “the guy who puts the country through this whole saga!” He meant not Donald Trump but Joseph Mifsud, whom he identified as a “mysterious professor who works in Rome and London,” and a key figure in the theory, popular on Fox News, that the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia contacts were actually just a cleverly engineered setup. […]

    Mueller, citing the Justice Department’s continuing inquiries, said that the dossier was “beyond my purview,” which only further incensed his questioners. So central has the dossier become to the Republican narrative of Trump’s victimhood that, when Mueller appeared slow to recognize the name Fusion GPS, some Fox News figures were left slack-jawed. […]

    […] The pretense is that, as long as they keep talking about mysterious professors and British spies, they aren’t ignoring the threat that Russia and other foreign powers continue to pose to the integrity of American elections. […]

    The urgency of focussing on election security was one of Mueller’s key messages. It was underscored a day later, when the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report indicating that, in 2016, the Russian government likely probed American voting systems in all fifty states. […]

    It’s not clear that the Republican Party can still conceive of a definition of the country’s interests—or of itself—that does not include support for Trump. It was thus all the more striking, during Mueller’s testimony, when certain Democrats seemed to be speaking his language—that of a straightforward officer of the law. One such moment came when Val Demings, of Florida, previously Orlando’s chief of police, asked about the written responses that Trump had submitted to Mueller, in lieu of sitting for an interview with his investigators. Was it true that Trump “simply didn’t answer” many questions? Mueller: “True.” Did he give answers that “contradicted other evidence?” Mueller: “Yes.” […]

    Was it fair to say, Demings continued, that the President’s answers were not only inadequate but “showed that he wasn’t always being truthful?” Mueller: “I would say, generally.” That exchange is almost a catechism for keeping one’s bearings amid the tumult of a truth-mocking Presidency. Such a task won’t be easy in what is bound to be a bitter election, when the contested terms will include not only “un-American” but a more essential one: “American.”

  204. tomh says

    Say what you will about Trump, he can change the narrative like no one I’ve ever seen. For two days the press is full of Baltimore, rats, Pelosi, etc, and virtually nothing about Cummings original observations on the border situation. Except, of course, for Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mulvaney, who said on Fox News that the President’s tweets were necessary in order to set the record straight about the “lies” told by Cummings about the situation at the Mexican border. Just another day for the White House.

  205. says

    Trump knows that North Korea tested missiles again last week. No big deal to Trump. He shrugged.

    “They are short-range missiles, and many people have those missiles,” Trump said, adding that the recent launches involve “very standard missiles.”

    Commentary:

    […] according to our South Korean allies, the latest North Korean tests have featured a new kind of missile, not “very standard” ones.

    […] the question of whether “many people have those missiles” is beside the point. “Many people” aren’t facing U.N. Security Council resolutions, but Trump’s friend in Pyongyang is — and according to Trump administration officials, North Korea is violating those resolutions with its missile tests. […]

    Trump’s passivity is hard to understand. The Wall Street Journal published a report the other day pointing to evidence that North Korea’s scientists “have ramped up production of long-range missiles and the fissile material used in nuclear weapons.”

    Shipping containers, trucks and crowds of people moving materials and instruments at North Korea’s key weapons facilities like the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center and the Sanum-dong missile production site, suggest North Korea has continued producing fissile material and intercontinental ballistic missiles, […]

    NBC News has published related reports on North Korea’s weapons programs.

    Remember, Trump previously assured the world that he’d “solved” the problem posed by the rogue nuclear state, to the point that North Korea is no longer a threat.

    “President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem,” Trump declared last summer. “No longer – sleep well tonight!” […]

    Link

    Trump’s love affair with the North Korean leader seems to be continuing. All while North Korea is more dangerous now that it was when President Obama issued his warning.

  206. redwood says

    @316 As someone who lives in Japan, I can tell you that the Japanese government takes these tests very seriously. Prime Minister Abe has kissed Turnip’s ass numerous times in an attempt to get him to be more proactive against NK. So far, nuthin’. Of course, if NK ever launches some missiles for real, Grump will say that it wasn’t his fault, there was nothing he could have done. (Straight from the Condoleeza Rice/GOPher textbook for never taking responsibility for anything bad.)

  207. blf says

    Apparently annoyed at having the gooks not marching in goosestep shouting yes hair furor!, hair furor is replacing the Director of National Intelligence with another of his allies teh bestingerest peoples, Trump’s intelligence pick is attempt to ‘neutralise’ spy agencies, say ex-officials:

    […]
    Donald Trump’s nomination of an inexperienced but loyal partisan to become the director of national intelligence (DNI) is an attempt to “neutralise” US spy agencies as an independent and objective voice on global affairs, former intelligence officials warned.

    It follows the announcement that Dan Coats, one of the most senior national security officials willing to contradict the US president, is to leave the post next month after disagreements with Trump over policy and intelligence, including on Russian interference in the US election and North Korean nuclear capabilities.

    [… hair furor threatens to install an acting DNI…]

    [… T]he statute that established the role of DNI states that in case of a vacancy, the principal deputy director acts in the role until a replacement is confirmed. That would be Sue Gordon, a career official with three decades’ experience in intelligence. An attempt to break the rules and oust her will probably heighten the sense in the intelligence agencies that they are under attack.

    “Trump is consolidating his personal control over the intelligence community,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA intelligence officer. He said the current directors of the CIA and FBI have found their hands tied increasingly when it comes to accurate intelligence assessment, by risk of being fired for something at odds with Trump’s views.

    “I fear that there is a slow takeover of the norms and procedures of governance by this president, amassing unprecedented executive power,” Mowatt-Larssen, now at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, added. “To do that he needs to neutralise or at least silence the intelligence community. He has been doing that for three years, but this takes it to the new level.”

    Trump described [his nominee, the Republican congressman John] Ratcliffe as a highly respected congressman and a former US attorney. However, he was a US attorney for only a year in the eastern district of Texas, and was the mayor of the Texan town of Heath, with a population of about 6,000, for eight years, before becoming a congressman in 2015.

    He became prominent on television talkshows in recent weeks for his outspoken defence of Trump in the face of the report by the former special counsel Robert Mueller, on the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Kremlin and Trump’s role in obstructing the investigation.

    Donald Trump was the one telling the truth the whole time, Ratcliffe told Fox News, and suggested that the real crimes had been committed by Democrats and the former FBI director James Comey.

    […]

    If Ratcliffe is confirmed and sought to politicise intelligence work further, it could lead to a clash with the intelligence agency professionals, warned John Sipher, a veteran of the CIA’s national clandestine services.

    “If he tries to spin intelligence in a different way that it is presented to him, his work force would rebel,” Sipher said, predicting there would be a spike in resignations and leaks. “He is going to get a lot of knives stuck in his back.”

  208. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Wow. Ratcliffe is definitely Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate. Given the supine posture of the Senate wrt trump appointees, I would say the only obstacle is medical. Can they successfully remove Ratcliffe’s nose from Darth Cheeto’s capacious posterior?

  209. Akira MacKenzie says

    blf @ 318

    …at having the g**ks not marching in goosestep…

    Whoa! Please tell me that was a typo!

  210. says

    redwood @317, Every time trump greets a North Korean missile test with a shrug and/or with lies, I think of Japan.

    In other news, the House Republican Caucus will soon be even more slanted towards all-male representatives. Martha Roby from Alabama is retiring. She is one of just 13 Republican women in the House. Susan W. Brooks from Indiana also announced her retirement. There are 197 Republicans in the House.

  211. says

    Senator Kamala Harris revealed more details concerning her version of “Medicare for All” today.

    […] Harris said she envisions a role for private insurers as long as they follow the government’s rules. She would slow the transition to a so-called single-payer system to 10 years from the four Sanders has proposed. [That seems reasonable and practical to me.] And she has ruled out tax increases on middle-income Americans, an idea to which Sanders has expressed openness in exchange for lowering the price of health coverage.

    […] Harris’ proposal, released a day before the second round of presidential debates begins, essentially seeks to thread the Democratic Party’s disparate camps, nodding to the demands of the progressive base while acknowledging that some voters are nervous at the prospect of losing private coverage provided by their employers. […]

    Although Harris signed onto Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation in Congress and credited the Vermont senator on Monday for “making sure this is a front and center topic,” she distanced herself from his strategy.

    “I have a vision of what it should be, and the existing plans that are being offered did not express what I wanted,” Harris told reporters while campaigning in Detroit. […]

    Advocates of Sanders’ single-payer insurance plan were quick to criticize the Harris proposal. Adam Gaffney, the president of Physicians for a National Health Program, said Harris’ plan has “several major shortcomings,” including the continuation of private insurance and the longer transition period. […]

  212. says

    Here’s an update on the ridiculous twists and turns of Hair Furor’s attempts to gaslight the public about paying for his vanity wall:

    […] After the Supreme Court’s conservative majority cleared the way for the president to take money from the Defense Department, [Trump tweeted]”

    “Such a big victory of our Country! ‘Supreme Court approves Trump Administration plan to use Military Funds for the Wall.’ @FoxNews

    “We will be fully reimbursed for this expenditure, over time, by other countries.”

    Wait, are we still playing that game?

    Look, I realize the president swore up and down that he’d get Mexico to pay for a giant border wall. As we’ve discussed before, the Trump campaign was fairly specific on this point, releasing a document – which is still online – which explained how our neighbors to the south would finance the project. It explicitly described a plan in which Mexico would “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion,” which the Trump administration would “compel” the country to make.

    All of that, of course, was nonsense – a promise that Trump didn’t (and couldn’t) keep.

    More recently, the Republican tweaked his position, insisting that Mexico is already paying for non-existent construction by way of indirect revenue from a trade deal that hasn’t been implemented.

    On Friday night, Trump switched gears again, assuring the public that some countries (he didn’t say which ones) will at some point (he didn’t say when) “reimburse” American taxpayers (he didn’t say how) for the money he’s taking from the military.

    In reality, this will not happen. That’s our money; our elected representatives allocated it to the Pentagon; and now our president is diverting those funds because he feels like it.

    To see this as “a big victory” of the country is bizarre. To think we’ll be paid back is ridiculous.

    Link

  213. says

    Trump signed a bill granting compensation to 9/11 responders. He took the opportunity to make a speech in the Rose Garden. And he tried to steal the courage of the 9/11 responders for himself. And he lied.

    Everyone who helped clear the rubble — and I was there, and I watched, and I helped a little bit — but I want to tell you: Those people were amazing. Clearing the rubble. Trying to find additional lives. You didn’t know what was going to come down on all of us — and they handled it.

    I don’t consider myself a 9/11 first responder. But I was kinda a 9/11 first responder.

    From the readers comments on Talking Points Memo:

    Oh, good God. What a contemptible pile of human garbage.
    —————
    He was “cleaning up Rubles,” which is very close to “clearing up rubble.”
    —————–
    Germaphobe Trump who can’t stand coughing in the same room as him going down to clear rubble?
    —————
    “Where was Donald Trump in the days and months and the years after 9/11? He didn’t stand at the pile, he didn’t lobby Congress for help, he didn’t fight for the first responders,” he said. “Nope, he cashed in, collecting $150,000 in federal funds intended to help small businesses recover — even though days after the attack Trump said his properties were not affected.” [quotes from Representative Joseph Crowley]
    ————————-
    He somehow manages to get even more despicable. It’s an amazing talent, really.
    ———————-
    What a lying sack of shit.

    This is no different than those who claim to be war heroes. Can he get more contemptible? (Of course he can – and will)

    Another day that has to be about him. Another day we are less than we were yesterday.

    I’ll be interested to see what late night talk show hosts do wit Trump’s claims.

  214. Akira MacKenzie says

    blf @ 325

    I kind of thought that was the case. I’ve read enough Tom Clancy as a teen and played enough Delta Green to know that spook = spy. I just wanted to give you the chance to correct the record lest someone accused you of racism.

  215. says

    “I have no sympathy for people who want handouts from the government,” Donna Arduin said.

    As Josh Marshall said,

    I’d never heard of her before. She’s a business partner of Art Laffer and Stephen Moore and for the last couple decades she’s been an under-the-radar social safety grim reaper hired by one GOP governor after another […] Meet Donna Arduin.

    Okay, let’s meet this grim reaper.

    A few days after a powerful earthquake hit the state last November, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) issued an order increasing the power of the state’s budget office, led at the time by a woman who had lived in Alaska a mere two weeks.

    In her newly empowered role, Donna Arduin — an infamous budget-slashing expert — and Dunleavy went on cut to hundreds of millions from the state budget. […] The budget consultant has served in several Republican-led governor’s offices, slashing state expenses while cutting or resisting efforts to increase tax revenue.

    She’s also one of three leaders of the right-wing consulting firm Arduin Laffer & Moore Econometrics LLC. Her partners are “Trumponomics” co-authors Arthur Laffer, the trickle-down economics evangelist, and Stephen Moore, who in May ruefully wished there was a “statute of limitations on saying stupid things” so he could’ve had a shot at joining the Federal Reserve Board.

    All the best people flocking together to flog bad ideas.

    […] While her colleagues were focused on slashing taxes in Kansas, Arduin has been busy trying to impose deep budget cuts in several states.

    Since arriving in Alaska last year, Arduin has led the governor’s attempt to cut a whopping $1.6 billion in spending from education, social services, the arts, and nearly every other corner of state government. […]

    The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, at a meeting in which they declared financial exigency last week, sounded less enthusiastic. The institution has been “crippled,” its president said, by the governor cutting roughly 40% of the school’s state funding — over $130 million. Thousands of students across the state found their state-funded scholarships suddenly defunded with the school year looming. “We will not have a university after February if we don’t make a move,” one regent noted.

    […] Following an internship in the Reagan-era Office of Management and Budget and stints at Morgan Stanley and elsewhere, Arduin has crisscrossed the country slashing state budgets left and right.

    “I have no sympathy for people who want handouts from the government,” Arduin told Duke Magazine for a 2006 profile.

    […] As then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s budget director, Arduin pushed a plan that would require doctors to receive the approval of a statewide board of appointed doctors, pharmacists and others to decide which drugs were allowed to be prescribed using Medicaid funds. […]

    In the process of cutting $8.1 billion over five years in Florida, the Los Angeles Times later reported, “Florida eliminated money for eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures for poor seniors and forced 55,000 low-income children onto health insurance waiting lists.” […]

    Later, in Illinois, Arduin spent just eight months as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget adviser, receiving an estimated $165,000 for her work after failing to come up with a budget the Democratic legislature found palatable. Rauner called Arduin “the smartest state government budget person in America.” (He was subsequently defeated in a reelection bid.)

    Just as Arduin’s bids to slash budgets in California and Illinois met resistance outside the governor’s office, many Alaskans are frustrated with her lack of familiarity with their unique state. […]

    “I joined government to shrink it,” she said.

    TPM link

    Note that $165,000 paycheck she reaped for herself in just one state, even though the job was not complete.

    Austerity for everyone but herself.

  216. says

    This is how it works:

    Customs and Border Protection officials were dead-set on blocking a pregnant asylum-seeker and her family at the border on Saturday—until Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden literally swooped in behind the family to intervene […]

    The officer told a pregnant woman, her husband, and their 3-year-old son, “We’re full” when they presented themselves at the Paso del Norte port of entry. But unbeknownst to the officials, Wyden and his staffers were behind them, having met them while visiting at a Mexican shelter, and after hearing about complications from her pregnancy, encouraged them to try to present themselves at the border.

    Wyden “told the officers that Mexicans are exempt from the ‘metering’ program CBP has used to strictly control the number of people allowed to request asylum at ports of entry,” the Post continued. “He also told the officers the woman was late term in her pregnancy and suffering complications.” A supervisor was called, and just minutes later, the family was allowed to pass through.

    CBP tried to explain its way out of its mess by claiming that the family should have said right off the bat that they were Mexican and that the woman was pregnant, but the family did both. [CBP lied.] “[…] Officers also told Wyden’s staff they couldn’t take pictures, but the American Civil Liberties Union attorney traveling with them told them they absolutely could.

    This is not the first time a legislator has had to intervene like this: Last year, officials also tried to block five asylum-seekers, including two kids, until Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s intervention. “It shouldn’t have to take being escorted by a U.S. Senator to get asylum seekers and migrants to safety in the United States,” Wyden later tweeted. […]

    Wyden said he also toured a privately operated detention facility in New Mexico, where four detainees are currently on a hunger strike. “They have lost all hope that America would help them in the face of persecution,” he said they told him through an interpreter. “I spoke to one man who said that he couldn’t read or write. He didn’t know how to get in touch with a lawyer, and he made it clear that he would rather not live another day, than to stay in this facility.”

    Link

  217. says

    About that shooter in Gilroy, California:

    Soon after, he posted a picture with a caption that told followers to read a 19th-century, proto-fascist book. The book, which is repeatedly recommended alongside works by Hitler and other [fascists] on forums like 8chan, is full of anti-Semitic, sexist and white supremacist ideology. The book glorifies “Aryan” men, condemns inter-marriage between races and defends violence based on bogus eugenicist tropes.

    Commentary on the gun he bought, and how he obtained it:

    […] There is absolutely no scenario in which a troubled 19-year-old should be able to waltz into a gun store to buy a weapon of war. A 19-year-old cannot legally rent a car. A 19-year-old cannot buy beer. Very few hotels would rent a room to a 19-year-old. And yet, a 19-year-old full of rage can walk into a gun store and buy an automatic rifle, loads of ammunition, and a bulletproof vest and only weeks later murder people in cold blood […]

    Link

  218. tomh says

    Trump administration enacts another obstacle to asylum cases

    (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration imposed another obstacle for asylum-seekers on Monday, finding that being persecuted on the basis of threats against a family member is usually not enough to be granted asylum in the United States.

    Attorney General William Barr issued a ruling that will set the standard for all immigration judges, using the same power his predecessors Jeff Sessions and Matthew Whitaker used to try to narrow the field of people potentially eligible for asylum.

    The Trump administration is actively seeking to reduce the number of asylum cases, saying the system is overwhelmed by fraudulent claims. The number of people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged under Trump, with many Central Americans asking for refuge in the United States even though the vast majority of their claims are ultimately denied in court.

    Unlike the federal judiciary, U.S. immigration courts fall under Justice Department jurisdiction, and the attorney general can intervene in cases to set national legal precedent. Trump’s attorneys general have been more active than previous administrations in this practice.

    More at the link.

  219. Saad says

    From Lynna’s #329

    And yet, a 19-year-old full of rage can walk into a gun store and buy an automatic rifle, loads of ammunition, and a bulletproof vest and only weeks later murder people in cold blood […]

    Ah, but WAS it an automatic rifle?!?!?

  220. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    [… O]n the stage this evening is celebrity author and self-help guru [sic] Marianne Williamson. She made a splash in the first round of debates when she vowed to harness love to defeat a fear-mongering president and later said her first call as president of the United States would be to the prime minster of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She explained that she would tell her that under a Williamson administration the US would be as good of a place for children to grow up in as New Zealand […]

    On the off-hand change anyone believes her, Orac points out Marianne Williamson is antivaccine, period; i.e., she, like hair furor, advocates genocide (albeit the hated “others” may differ). Probably the most loathsome of the dismal and underwhelming corpses of dummies for teh Wacko House, and the one closest to hair furor in stupidity and dishonesty.

  221. blf says

    Akira MacKenzie@326, Thanks for bringing the typo to my attention, and allowing me to correct the record. I presume now, with the benefit of hindsight, I had “goosestepping” in mind when trying to type “spooks”, and simply got confused (this would not be the first time I’ve made that sort of mistake!).

  222. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    The White House blocked a State Department intelligence analyst from delivering testimony on the national security implications of climate change to Congress because the analysis “did not comport with the administration’s position on climate change,” according to the author of the report.

    In an editorial for the New York Times, Rod Schoonover, formerly a senior analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, said he was allowed to deliver a brief oral testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but the White House refused to approve his written testimony for entry intro the permanent Congressional record.

    Schoonover quit in protest.

    The bottom line of written testimony was this: “Climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security over the next 20 years.” …

    In blocking the submission of the written testimony, the White House trampled not only on the scientific integrity of the assessment but on the analytic independence of an arm of the intelligence community. That’s why I recently resigned from the job I considered a sacred duty, and the institution I loved.

  223. says

    Trump is not even a skilled liar. He lies stupidly.

    This morning Trump said:

    Now, I’ll say this. They are so happy, because I get the calls. They are so happy at what I’ve been able to do in Baltimore and other Democratic run corrupt cities. The money has been stolen. What they’ve done, it’s been wasted and it’s been stolen, billions and billions of dollars.

    And the African-American community is so thankful. They call me and they say, “Finally, somebody is telling the truth.”

    The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy.

    Commentary:

    […] He did not appear to be kidding. We’re honestly supposed to believe that delighted African Americans, in large numbers, have reached the White House switchboard, at which point operators have directed their calls directly to the president, who basked in their praise. […]

    To be sure, I cannot definitively prove that “the African-American community” hasn’t called Trump to thank him for how awesome his awesomeness is. Sure, the claim seems hopelessly bonkers, but I don’t have access to the White House phone logs, and I cannot say with absolute certainty that the president was describing phone calls that occurred only in his mind.

    But I feel pretty comfortable saying it’s a safe bet that Trump was describing made-up conversations.

    I’m willing to go out on this limb in part because the story the president described this morning is plainly ridiculous on its face, and in part because Trump has spent much of his political career describing conversations that did not occur in reality.

    As regular readers know, it was earlier this year, for example, when Trump told reporters that “some” of his presidential predecessors had told him they wish they’d built a wall along the United States’ southern border. It was, of course, an impossible claim to take seriously, which was made worse when each of the living former presidents issued statements debunking Trump’s claim. […]

    […] he frequently quotes “anonymous validators”: mysterious unnamed people, whom the president swears exist, who we’re supposed to believe secretly tell Trump how right he is about the major issues of the day. […]

    Today’s nonsensical claims were a classic of the genre.

    Link

  224. says

    Trump’s 2016 ‘America First’ energy speech was edited and preapproved by UAE and Saudi Arabia.

    During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was set to do a speech on energy in which he was going to start pitching the phrase “America First,” but before he went onstage to talk about his plans for American energy production, one of Trump’s advisers ran the speech past officials from the United Arab Emirates. And then copies were sent to Saudi Arabia. So it was America first—so long as the UAE and Saudis are okay with that. When he finally got around to sharing the speech with Americans, some of the language in Trump’s “America First” speech actually came from the UAE.

    According to ABC News, it was Trump adviser Thomas Barrack who arranged to give representatives from the UAE a preview of the speech two weeks before Trump delivered it. An associate of Barrack’s provided the speech to both Saudi and UAE representatives, still before Trump had delivered it to Americans. Finally, Barrack worked with Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort to insert revisions made by the UAE into the speech that Trump actually delivered. Manafort wrote back to Barrack confirming that the final version of the speech included the language requested by the UAE.

    Why is this coming to light now? Because investigators for the House Oversight Committee—the committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings—have unearthed a trove of communications featuring Manafort, Barrack, and representatives from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. […]

    Barrack seemed to realize that this communication between the Trump campaign and a foreign government over the future of U.S. energy policy was problematic at best. In an exchange with Manafort, he noted that the language he was proposing to add to the speech was “probably as close as I can get without crossing a lot of lines.” […]

    Link

    President working for the UAE and Saudi Arabia? Policy speeches made to comport with the wishes of slumlord Jared Kushner’s besties in Saudi Arabia?

    When he’s not working for Putin, he’s working for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the crown prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, etc.?

    And everyone is working to make more money for Tom Barrack?

  225. says

    The slick, underhanded way Republicans plan to keep Michigan gerrymandered.

    Why worry about the law when you control the courts?

    The state of Michigan does not hold free and fair legislative elections. In 2018, Democratic state house and senate candidates received tens of thousands more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet Republicans have solid majorities in both houses.

    […] In 2018, voters approved a state constitutional amendment providing that future legislative maps will be drawn by an independent commission. The members of this commission are chosen largely at random from a pool of applicants, in order to minimize either party’s ability to capture the commission. People who recently served as partisan officials, party leaders, lobbyists, or other forms of political insiders may not serve on this commission.

    That is, of course, unless the Republican Party gets its way in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The case is Daunt v. Benson.

    Daunt rests on two interlocking arguments. […] extraordinarily aggressive and reminiscent of the argument a Republican federal judge in Texas recently used to order the entire Affordable Care Act repealed.

    According to the Detroit News, the lawsuit “is backed by the Fair Lines America Foundation, a non-profit with ties to the National Republican Redistricting Trust.”

    Team Daunt begins with the claim that the provision prohibiting political insiders from sitting on the redistricting commission violates the Constitution. […] “conditioning hiring decisions on political belief and association plainly constitutes an unconstitutional condition, unless the government has a vital interest in doing so.”

    Rutan is not a perfect fit for this lawsuit — the Michigan redistricting amendment, after all, conditions a hiring decision on not having a particular association […]

    The success of this first prong of the Daunt argument, in other words, is likely to hinge upon whether the courts believe that Michigan has a “vital interest” in preventing party insiders from corrupting the commission, and whether this amendment is appropriately tailored to achieve that goal. […]

    When a court strikes down one provision of a broader legal scheme, it often must ask which other provisions of that scheme need to fall along with it — an inquiry known as “severability.”

    […] The purpose of the amendment was to remove the partisan legislature from the redistricting process. So, given the choice between returning the redistricting power to a legislature made up entirely of partisans, or leaving that power with a commission that might wind up including some partisans, the later is more consistent with the voters’ intent. […]

    But, of course, that’s not what the Republican Party wants. It wants the courts to strike down the entire amendment — which would leave redistricting entirely in the Republican-controlled legislature’s hands.

    […] Both Daunt and Texas raise novel constitutional challenges to a relatively minor provision (or, in the case of Texas, an utter nothingburger provision) of a law that the GOP does not like. […] they also seek to have the entire law struck down. It’s a recipe for a world where any law opposed by Republicans can be dismantled by clever lawyering.

    […] It’s a pretty severe Catch-22 for Republicans on the Supreme Court to cite the Michigan amendment as a reason why courts don’t need to solve the problem of gerrymandering, and then turn around and strike that amendment on a novel legal theory that depends on a highly aggressive remedy.

    Anything to tilt the playing field. Anything to preserve an unfair advantage for Republicans.

  226. blf says

    A few choice excerpts from Leo Varadkar looks like an adult because the UK is acting like a spoilt toddler:

    The taoiseach isn’t that popular in Ireland, but can’t fail to look statesmanlike compared with bumbling Boris Johnson

    [… I]magine, without smiling ear-to-ear at the very thought, that your job performance was measured on your ability to appear more statesmanlike and consistent than Johnson; more clear and definitive than May; or more truthful and probing than Nigel Farage. Just saying the same thing two days in a row would put you in a handsome lead, even before we get on to the specifics of what is said. Ireland is not just mammothly pro-European, and deeply invested in the Northern Irish peace process, it is aghast at the cohort of nonsensical charlatans that have seized power in Britain. Johnson and his new administration haven’t fully realised just how vile they appear to the rest of the world — and Ireland especially. They are, in short, acting like a pantomime version of the Etonian imperialists Irish people have sung rebel songs about for centuries: a prime minister, who in his time as foreign secretary is said to have asked why Varadkar, a man of Indian heritage, isn’t called Murphy like all the rest of them; a foreign secretary who just threatened Northern Ireland with direct rule mere days into the job. Standing up to this is not just strategically essential for Varadkar, it’s as close to a no-risk gambit as exists in modern domestic politics.

    It also speaks to the mania of Brexiters that they are convinced that the EU is somehow forcing Varadkar into this position, as if it isn’t massively politically expedient for him at home, or that Ireland would secretly love to destabilise the peace process and erect a 300-mile border apparatus just so Britain can destroy its own economy, except their pesky European overlords won’t let them. This is the gift that has fallen into Varadkar’s lap: to be “forced” into pursuing a common-sense policy that is in his country’s interests, against the least likable political opponents possible.

    […]

    It now appears to be British policy that Ireland will, at some point, balk at the UK’s threat of destroying itself in front of them. Whether they realise it or not, this amounts to the hope that Ireland cares more about Britain’s wellbeing than the British government does. Considering the venal cabal of disconnected toffs in power, on that last point they may be right.

    […]

  227. says

    blf @341: “Privately educated goals count double.” Sounds like an accurate description.

    blf @343, yes, the execrable Boris Johnson makes other politicians look good by comparison. Weird world in which we are living.

    In other news, here is a followup to comments 253, 318 and 319. “Trump’s Intelligence Pick Is a Mueller-Bashing Loyalist With a Far-Right Voting Record.”

    Rep. John Ratcliffe, the Texas representative who […] Trump picked Sunday to be his next national intelligence director, has never served in the intelligence community. Nor, unlike previous directors, does he have any background in the military or as a national security expert. Instead, the three-term lawmaker has carved out a reputation as one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress and a passionate critic of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.

    His role as Trump’s attack dog came into sharp focus most recently during a House Judiciary Committee hearing with former special counsel Robert Mueller. In an explosive exchange that was quickly hyped by several conservative news sites, Ratcliffe accused Mueller of violating “every principle in the most sacred of traditions” by outlining possible instances of Trump obstructing justice despite not ultimately indicting him. These actions, compiled in the second volume of Mueller’s massive report, were written “in violation of every DOJ principle about extra-prosecutorial commentary,” Ratcliffe claimed. Trump met with Ratcliffe to discuss the job five days before the Mueller hearing, turning the event into a virtual audition for him […]

    Ratcliffe has frequently suggested the national security establishment is aligned against Trump. When former FBI Director James Comey appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in September 2016, Ratcliffe criticized his decision not to charge Hillary Clinton over her improper use of private email as secretary of state. […]

    Like Trump, Ratcliffe has shown a flair for embellishing details of his background. In a 2015 press release, Ratcliffe claimed to have “convicted individuals who were funneling money to Hamas behind the front of a charitable organization,” but officials involved in the case, US v. Holy Land Foundation, told ABC News they “could not recall Ratcliffe having any role” and “had no recollection of Ratcliffe being involved with any of the proceedings that resulted in the convictions of their clients.” Stephens, the Ratcliffe spokesperson, told me that his involvement was related to the first attempt to try the case, which resulted in a mistrial, and “because the investigation did not result in any charges, it would not be in accordance with Department of Justice policies to make further details public.”

    Link

  228. says

    Followup to comment 344.

    Trump once again says the quiet part loudly. He wants Ratcliffe to “rein in” the intelligence agencies.

    […] Trump expressed hope that his nominee to be the next director of national intelligence (DNI) could “rein in” U.S. agencies that have “run amok.”

    Trump praised Rep. John Ratcliffe as “brilliant” and “wonderful,” telling reporters at the White House that the Texas Republican would bring order to the intelligence agencies.

    “I think we need somebody like that there,” Trump said. “We need somebody strong that can really rein it in because, as I think you’ve all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok.”

    Trump regularly complains that the FBI and Department of Justice were biased against him leading up to the 2016 election. […]

    Some Senate Democrats have expressed reservations about Ratcliffe’s nomination, saying the DNI should not be a partisan appointee. [That’s an understatement.]

    Trump on Tuesday also downplayed any rift with Coats. […]

    Link

  229. says

    Oh, FFS.

    More than half of farm bailout payments meant to alleviate the effects of the U.S.’s ongoing trade war with China went to bigger, wealthier farms […]

    The analysis of the first two rounds of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) found that through April, payments for 2018-2019 totaled $8.4 billion.

    The top 10 percent of recipients received 54 percent of all payments, with 82 farmers thus far receiving over $500,000 in MFP payments, according to the study.

    The analysis also found that the top 1 percent of recipients were rewarded an average of $183,331, with the bottom 80 percent receiving less than $5,000 on average and minority farmers continuing to see little benefit from the program.

    MFP payments were previously linked to crop production, with the Department of Agriculture initially announcing a $125,00 cap on payments, but the limit has seldom been practically applied due to rules that allow relatives who do not contribute meaningful work to the farm to receive payments […]

    “Changes to the second round of MFP payments, announced last week by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, will further favor the largest farmers by linking payments to the number of acres, not the number of bushels or bales produced,” the report states. “The bigger the farm, the bigger the government check.” […]

    Link

  230. blf says

    California governor signs law that would require Trump to release tax returns:

    […]
    California’s governor has signed a law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns before they can be listed on the state’s primary ballot.

    […]

    The law will likely face legal action and Trump could avoid the requirement by deciding not to compete in California’s primary. With no credible GOP challenger at this point, he likely won’t need California’s delegates to win the Republican nomination.

    The new law requires candidates for president and governor to submit their tax returns to California’s secretary of state at least 98 days before the primary. The returns will then be posted online.

    […]

    The US supreme court has previously stopped state efforts to add requirements on congressional candidates through ballot access rules.

    […]

    Not a bad idea, albeit it should apply to all listed candidates for any office.

    A second law, which says the state’s electoral collage can only vote for individuals who have released their tax returns, might be constitutional, and would, in part, address the not-running-in-the-primary dodge.

  231. says

    Trump Wants To Break ONE TINY LAW To Install Ass-Kissing Acting DNI, Is That So Bad? Yes.

    Quick update on the story we brought you Monday, of Trump picking John Ratfcliffe, the world’s stupidest GOP congressman whose name isn’t Devin Nunes or Louie Gohmert or Matt Gaetz or Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan […] to be the new director of national intelligence (DNI).

    As we noted, the law (THE LAW) states that in the absence of a confirmed DNI, the principal deputy director of national intelligence becomes the acting DNI. That woman’s name is Sue Gordon and she is a career official who seems mostly liked by the professional intelligence community, therefore she is obviously not the ghoulish bootlicker Donald Trump wants in the position. Why, she probably would try to do her actual job, instead of politicizing the intel community to chase down and punish the villains of the Fox News conspiracy theories Trump finds between the folds of his orange buttocks! […]

    “A senior administration official and a source familiar with the issue added that there’s an active search right now for candidates to assume the acting role and it’s unlikely that Deputy Director Sue Gordon will be picked. The search is underway as Ratcliffe goes through the confirmation process”. […]

    […] Just rest assured that if the Trump White House can figure out a way to break the law while still having a really thin and laughable legal pretext for doing so, they will do that […]

    Like maybe they might fire Sue Gordon and end a public servant’s career, because Donald Trump’s ass really itches right now and he wants what he wants: […] “there isn’t a question; the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, enacted six years _after_ the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, is clear that the Principal Deputy becomes Acting DNI (unless they fire her).” […]

    “The Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence [HER NAME IS SUE GORDON – Ed.] shall act for, and exercise the powers of, the Director of National Intelligence during the absence or disability of the Director of National Intelligence or during a vacancy in the position of Director of National Intelligence.”

    […] it’s not that Trump doesn’t like this Sue Gordon character. It’s just that […] the White House is worried that, as a career official who is normal and has a soul and presumably loves America, she is utterly unqualified to do her part to destroy the intelligence community in service of Unelected Shit King Grab-Ass and his paranoid delusions. […]

  232. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #346:

    Market Facilitation Program

    LOL.

    More than half of farm bailout payments meant to alleviate the effects of the U.S.’s ongoing trade war with China went to bigger, wealthier farms […]

    “‘I have no sympathy for people who want handouts from the government’, Arduin told Duke Magazine for a 2006 profile.”

  233. says

    From the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent: “Ratcliffe passed what might be called the Fox News stage of the interview process – that is, the ability to enter the political/media arena and push Trump’s corrupt alt-narratives with maximum aggressiveness and shamelessness.”

  234. says

    The second round of Democratic presidential primary debates begins tonight in Detroit.

    Elizabeth Warren picked up some congressional endorsements:
    Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the former chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who supported Bernie Sanders three years ago.

    Congresswoman Katherine Clark

    Andy Levin of Michigan

    Deb Haaland of New Mexico

    For more on Warren’s ratings and endorsements see
    https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/141272/elizabeth-warren#.XUCh5y3Mz5U

  235. blf says

    Automakers reach emissions deal with California, in rebuff to Trump:

    […]
    Four major automakers on Thursday announced they had reached a deal with California to produce more fuel-efficient cars for the US market, an end run around the Trump administration which is seeking to freeze mileage standards.

    California negotiated the agreement with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW in secret, and said it provided a 50-state solution that would avoid a patchwork of regulations from arising across the country.

    Last year, President [sic] Donald Trump’s administration proposed a rule to axe tougher mileage and greenhouse gas emissions requirements for light-duty cars enacted by his predecessor Barack Obama.

    But California, which exercises considerable clout in the auto industry as the country’s wealthiest state, announced its intention to set its own regulations.

    “These terms will provide regulatory stability, preserve vehicle affordability for customers, reduce compliance costs and result in increased environmental benefits,” the manufacturers said in a statement.

    The agreement envisages reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3.7 percent each year from 2022 through 2026.

    According to The Washington Post, by 2026, new models would meet a standard of 50 miles per gallon (4.7 liters per 100 kilometers), against the 37 mpg current level — just one year later than the target set under the Obama administration.

    In a sense, I’m not too impressed. Last century in California I was driving a car rated at 40-something mpg (as I now recall, I achieved slightly less than the rating, but still over 40 mpg). It was a diesel (Audi) — this was long before the VW / Audi diesel emissions scandal (which made me so furious I m now boycotting the firms involved in the scandal and coverup). However, a fleet average of 50 is much better than a mere 37, albeit NO emissions is a vastly superior.

    […] Dan Lashof, US director of the World Resources Institute [said:] “It demonstrates beyond any doubt the recklessness of the Trump administration’s efforts to push the nation backwards on climate, regardless of how it harms families or businesses.” […]

    This is a negotiated agreement with several, albeit not all, major portable carbon emission manufacturers.

  236. says

    Greg Sargent in WaPo – “Trump’s hidden enablers are corrupting our country”:

    A major political battle is taking shape, and at its core is a key question: Can President Trump and his loyalists continue to organize large swaths of the government around the single, overarching goal of shielding his corruption, misconduct and wrongdoing from any and all accountability?

    Trump’s effort to install Rep. John Ratcliffe as his new director of national intelligence appears to be running into trouble. New reports are casting doubt on some of the Texas Republican’s national security qualifications, and there are indications that Republican Senators might vote against confirming him.

    But it seems to me that the real stakes in this battle are still poorly appreciated. At issue is whether Trump can take another large leap in the direction of corrupting our institutions to his own benefit with impunity.

    Ratcliffe’s leading qualification for Trump appears to be that at former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s hearings, Ratcliffe lathered up great umbrage and conviction while spinning out Trump’s most lurid lies about the Russian attack on our election and efforts by law enforcement to get to the bottom of it.

    There is little doubt that these things are crucial to Trump’s decision to pick him. The man he would replace — outgoing Intelligence Director Daniel Coats — has been vocal in warning of another round of Russian interference. Coats has also clashed with the White House over his assessments of the damage done by Russian electoral sabotage in 2016.

    …Ratcliffe has already passed what might be called the Fox News stage of the interview process — that is, the ability to enter the political/media arena and push Trump’s corrupt alt-narratives with maximum aggressiveness and shamelessness.

    Indeed, the Daily Beast reports that Ratcliffe appears to have debuted the idea, since flatly debunked, that a “secret society” inside the intelligence services may have been trying to derail Trump’s candidacy.

    And so, Ratcliffe has already demonstrated that he’s eminently qualified for the post, at least as Trump envisions it: Ratcliffe is willing to advocate at full throttle for the notion that the Russian attack on our democracy was not carried out to elect Trump and that the investigation into it was the real crime.

    What makes this more galling is that a Senate Intelligence Committee report just found on a bipartisan basis that the Russian interference effort was substantially worse than we thought, and that if anything, there’s more reason for concern about the next round of sabotage.

    In this regard, it’s crucial to understand the Russian effort as not just an effort to undermine liberal democracy but also as an attack on Trump’s political adversaries. As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg has persuasively argued, the Russian effort — which included not just socially divisive disinformation warfare but also massive cybertheft — was more destabilizing to the Democratic Party than most observers acknowledge.

    All this is happening even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to refuse to allow Senate consideration of election security bills that would fortify our political system against another such attack.

    Meanwhile, Attorney General William P. Barr is busily propping up Trump’s alt-narratives. Barr mounted an extraordinarily dishonest effort to downplay one of Mueller’s core findings — that Trump and his advisers eagerly hoped to benefit from, and worked extensively to coordinate with, the Russian interference effort.

    And Barr is pursuing his own investigation of the investigators, another effort to airbrush out of existence the seriousness of what happened in 2016. As director of national intelligence, Ratcliffe would be in a position to assist with that effort.

    David Rothkopf refers to McConnell, Barr and Ratcliffe as Trump’s “praetorian guard.” That is apt.

    For the big project here is to basically make Trump’s extraordinary betrayal of the country disappear from public view entirely. If that makes another attack on our political system on Trump’s behalf more likely, well, perhaps that’s all to the better.

  237. blf says

    Trump friend sought to profit from Saudi nuclear deal:

    House panel says ‘corporate and foreign interests use unique access to advocate for transfer of US nuclear technology’.

    Since President [sic] Donald Trump won [sic] the 2016 election, a group of US businessmen have sought to profit on deals to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, while trying to avoid US restrictions designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the House Oversight Committee said in a new report, released on Monday.

    Based on 60,000 pages of documents, the report lays out in detail how the Trump administration allegedly backed efforts by IP3 International, a private consortium, to win contracts to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia.

    “Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates committee whistle-blowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of US nuclear technology to Saudia Arabia,” Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democrat chairman of the Oversight Committee, said in a statement.

    “The American people deserve to know the facts about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the president’s personal friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” Cummings said.

    I wonder if this is one of reasons hair furor has singled out Representative Cummings?

    […]
    Arms control experts fear the technology would allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons in the future, contributing to a new arms race in the Middle East.

    IP3 is a private group led by a group of former government officials including retired Admiral Michael Hewitt, retired Army Generals Keith Alexander and Jack Keane and former Reagan National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane. Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was a consultant until he was fired by Trump in January 2017.

    I do not know of the generals named, but if either McFarlane or Flynn was involved, then this is an exceptionally dodgy company.

    Thomas Barrack, a friend [of] the president [sic] and chairman of Colony Capital, a major US investment company, was recruited by IP3 International to use his access to Trump to win administration backing for IP3’s plans to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East, according to the report.

    […]

    In a previously undisclosed trip, a group of IP3 officials travelled to Riyadh in December 2016, during the transition between Trump’s election and taking office, to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and pitch him on investing $120m in exchange for a 10 percent ownership position in the US company that would bid on the Saudi projects, according to the House report.

    “We had a very successful trip to KSA,” Hewitt emailed a colleague. “We have the Trump administration in full support of our plan.”

    The meeting with high-level officials in Saudi Arabia had been “very good for IP3”, Alexander said in an email to nuclear industry officials. “Our key buyer is MBS.”

    [… more details…]

    In pitching the plan, IP3 officials “repeatedly pressed the Trump administration not to require Saudi Arabia to commit to the ‘Gold Standard’ in any future” non-proliferation agreement, the report said. Separately, IP3 was promising to advance Saudi nuclear power and strategic standing in the region above Iran’s, a document in the report said.

    Under US law, any deal that involves the transfer of US nuclear technology requires the so-called “Gold Standard”, also known as a 123 Agreement, approved by Congress that includes international monitoring and prohibits reprocessing or enrichment of nuclear fuel. Such an agreement was seen by IP3 as a “total roadblock” because Saudi Arabia would not agree, the report said.

    […]

    On August 1, 2018, Brookfield [a Canadian “fund”] completed its acquisition of Westinghouse [a bankrupt, and the only US, manufacturer of nuclear reactors] after the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), composed of Secretaries Mnuchin, Ross, Mattis, Pompeo and Perry, approved the deal.

    Two days later, Brookfield said it had agreed to a 99-year lease of Jared Kushner’s family business’s financially-troubled Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue. The back-to-back announcements raised eyebrows in Congress and Democrat politicians say the House Oversight Committee is currently looking into the arrangements.

    [… yet more shenanigans, this time involving dodgy S.Koreans…]

  238. says

    New. Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton: ‘After much deliberation, I believe the time has come for the House of Representatives to assert our constitutional responsibility and begin an impeachment inquiry’.”

    They’re coming so quickly now I can’t keep up (neither can the news sites tracking it, it appears, or others trying to keep count). She’s I think somewhere between #111 and #115, and also the third today, after several over the weekend.

  239. says

    Geoff Bennett:

    Just arrived in Baltimore for @NBCNightlyNews. Talking to people here about Trump’s escalating attacks against their city and their congressman, Elijah Cummings

    Here in Baltimore, an African-American boy walked up to producer @bacallaooo and asked what we’re working on. Didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s a story about the president saying he’s “living in hell.”

    Awful.

  240. tomh says

    @ #358

    Well, 118 would be a majority of the 235 Democrats in the House. How long can Pelosi hold out? Does it need to be 2/3? 100%? IMO, the sooner she caves in the better, for her and for all concerned.

  241. says

    tomh @ #360,

    At this rate, they’ll hit 118 within hours, especially since some are now saying they should get started in earnest as soon as they return from recess.

  242. says

    Tim Naftali in the Atlantic – “Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation with Richard Nixon”:

    The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.

    The past month has brought presidential racism back into the headlines. This October 1971 exchange between current and future presidents is a reminder that other presidents have subscribed to the racist belief that Africans or African Americans are somehow inferior. The most novel aspect of President Donald Trump’s racist gibes isn’t that he said them, but that he said them in public.

    The exchange was taped by Nixon, and then later became the responsibility of the Nixon Presidential Library, which I directed from 2007 to 2011. When the National Archives originally released the tape of this conversation, in 2000, the racist portion was apparently withheld to protect Reagan’s privacy. A court order stipulated that the tapes be reviewed chronologically; the chronological review was completed in 2013. Not until 2017 or 2018 did the National Archives begin a general rereview of the earliest Nixon tapes. Reagan’s death, in 2004, eliminated the privacy concerns. Last year, as a researcher, I requested that the conversations involving Ronald Reagan be rereviewed, and two weeks ago, the National Archives released complete versions of the October 1971 conversations involving Reagan online.

    When the UN took its vote to seat a delegation from Beijing instead of from Taiwan in 1971, members of the Tanzanian delegation started dancing in the General Assembly. Reagan, a devoted defender of Taiwan, was incensed, and tried to reach Nixon the night of the vote. Reagan despised the United Nations, which he described as a “kangaroo court” filled with “bums,” and he wanted the U.S. to withdraw from full participation immediately. Nixon was asleep when Reagan called, so they spoke the next morning.

    Nixon’s anger at the UN delegations from African nations for the loss was misplaced. His own State Department blamed factors other than African voting, including maneuvering by the British and French behind the scenes, for the loss. But Nixon would have none of it. The Africans were to blame.

    Had the story stopped there, it would have been bad enough. Racist venting is still racist. But what happened next showed the dynamic power of racism when it finds enablers. Nixon used Reagan’s call as an excuse to adapt his language to make the same point to others….

    Much, much more, including the audio clip, at the link.

  243. says

    NEWS: @RepEliotEngel says he supports an impeachment inquiry. Huge get for impeachment supporters—Engel is a close Pelosi ally and chairs one of the six committees investigating Trump (Foreign Affairs).”

    I’d forgotten he was the Foreign Affairs chair.

  244. says

    Jamil Smith in Rolling Stone – “Trump’s Racism Is a National Emergency”:

    A white-nationalist presidency is untenable. Having to endure one while the man in the office has committed obvious crimes, such as obstruction of justice, is even worse. Add on the ever-increasing threat of white-supremacist domestic terrorism — which the FBI director warned about just last week and the administration’s anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric fuels like gasoline — and it is impossible not to conclude that the presidency is too powerful for someone as racist as Donald Trump.

    Saturday’s attack on Elijah Cummings may seem like a small example, just another episode in his reality show, but it was actually a demonstration of how grossly his power can be misused. The president reminded us that we are governed in part by a cable channel. He tweeted what Media Matters researcher Matthew Gertz called a “straight recitation” of a Fox segment comparing the supposed lack of cleanliness of Cummings’ 7th Congressional District — which covers West Baltimore, has a mix of mostly urban and suburban areas, and is 53 percent black — to the inhumane conditions ongoing at Border Patrol detention facilities, conditions about which the House Oversight chairman berated acting Homeland Security head Kevin McAleenan at a July 18 hearing.

    Since taking over the House, the Democrats have not sat idly, passing several bills that have signified where they stand as a party. However, the semantic Twister the House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler is playing right now in order to avoid simply launching an impeachment inquiry when the number of House members in favor of one is now in triple digits is an insult to African American voters in particular, the Democrats’ most faithful and consistent constituency.

    It is a slap in the face to see a president this criminal and this racist treated called as much by Democrats who won’t do anything about it, all to ensure that they save their own majority.

    Yes, it matters that the Republicans not hold both chambers should Trump be re-appointed president by voters (and whatever foreign actors assist him in his election effort). But if not to take action at a time like this, what are we electing Democrats for?

    The president’s attack on Cummings should light a fire, at the very least, every African American voter ahead of the August recess. They should be flooding town halls to not only press for the president’s impeachment, but to impress upon each House member whom they visit the urgency of the true emergency at hand. Not their power, but our communities. Not their pragmatism, but our reality.

    Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans will never allow a conviction, I know. However, the other main Democratic arguments against impeachment are bunk: the effort against Richard Nixon united the country, they currently enjoy sufficient public support, and they can do all the business that the people require in Congress while putting Trump on trial for the crimes that they crow on Twitter all day that he committed. Again, what was the point of bringing Robert Mueller to testify before the American people if you weren’t going to do a single thing with his report other than tell us to go vote our conscience once we read it? What if we live in a state where Republicans take that vote away? What if Trump does something else even more disastrous before the election that makes all of this moot? And don’t tell me that it isn’t possible, because, please.

    One of the high crimes and misdemeanors listed in the Constitution is “dereliction of duty.” In his attack on Cummings, the president made it clear that, in violation of his oath of office, he doesn’t want to be the president of Baltimore. Nor, one can presume, would he be the president of any urban area that was populated by people who didn’t vote primarily for him. He said much the same of Ferguson, Missouri, in a state he won by nearly 20 percentage points, before he won the 2016 election — calling it one of the most dangerous cities in the world, which would include war-torn parts of Syria and Afghanistan. This is what Trump thought of our America then. Any reason to believe, after these Baltimore remarks, that he has changed his mind?

    Racism serves the purpose, for many black people and other marginalized populations he targets, that author Toni Morrison referenced in her noted 1975 speech at Portland State. “It’s important to know who the real enemy is and to know the very serious function of racism, which is distraction,” she said then. “It keeps you from doing YOUR WORK. It keeps you explaining over and over your reason for being.” Much like Blackwell’s message on CNN, we are constantly having to justify our existence in the country that is our home.

    Keep in mind, that isn’t a message to white people. That isn’t a message to white reporters, white news producers, white editors, white anchors, white politicians, white policy directors, white columnists, white radio hosts, white business owners, white donors, nor even to white allies. None of them have much of a reason to be sidetracked by the racism that Trump or anyone else spits out, whether at Cummings last Saturday in a series or tweets or anyone else. The president’s racism is not some story that fades from the news as quickly as a tweet disappears from a timeline. It is a national emergency that has resonates through municipal water systems and online chat rooms, through hospital emergency rooms and classrooms that have no heat in the wintertime. We have enough problems with presidents who are merely unwilling to do anything about racism, let alone those pursuing an active platform of white supremacy….

  245. says

    Steve Bullock: I am a moderate. Look at my moderate tie. My moderate jacket. My moderate hair. My moderate tone. My moderate opening statement. Moderates like me. I love moderation so much that I don’t even love this statement. I only like it…moderately.”

  246. says

    #381: “WARREN: ‘I don’t know why anyone goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do & shouldn’t fight for’.”

  247. says

    Imagine if the questions were like: [describes climate catastrophe, inequality, corporate power, racist violence and systemic racism]: “Are you concerned that the so-called moderate policies will fail to address or even contribute to the crisis?”

  248. says

    NEWS … Texas GOP Rep. Mike Conaway is retiring after 15 years in Congress. This is the fifth retirement in two weeks.

    The GOP is losing some of its most well liked members. Roby. Mitchell. Conaway. Brooks. Olsen.

    Retirements are again a problem for the House GOP”

  249. says

    NEW: Rep. Judy Chu: ‘It is time for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The proceedings must be deliberate…We have a sacred duty as members of Congress to ensure that nobody is above the law. To do nothing given what we know is unacceptable’.”

    I’m just sayin’…

  250. says

    Guardian – “We’ll block trade deal if Brexit imperils open Irish border, say US politicians “:

    Any future US-UK trade deal would almost certainly be blocked by the US Congress if Brexit affects the Irish border and jeopardises peace in Northern Ireland, congressional leaders and diplomats have warned.

    Boris Johnson has presented a trade deal with the US as a way of offsetting the economic costs of leaving the EU, and Donald Trump promised the two countries could strike “a very substantial trade agreement” that would increase trade “four or five times”.

    Trump, however, would not be able to push an agreement through a hostile Congress, where there would be strong bipartisan opposition to any UK trade deal in the event of a threat to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, and to the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

    Johnson’s rise to power, and his demand for the EU to drop the backstop, which is intended to safeguard the open border after Brexit, has galvanised determination in Congress to make a stand in defence of the landmark accord, to which the US is guarantor.

    “The American dimension to the Good Friday agreement is indispensable,” said Richard Neal, who is co-chair of the 54-strong Friends of Ireland caucus in Congress, and also chairs the powerful House ways and means committee, with the power to hold up a trade deal indefinitely.

    “We oversee all trade agreements as part of our tax jurisdiction,” Neal, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, said in a phone interview. He pointed out that such a complex trade deal could take four or five years, even without the Northern Ireland issue.

    “I would have little enthusiasm for entertaining a bilateral trade agreement with the UK, if they were to jeopardise the agreement.”

    In the event of a hard Brexit, in the absence of guarantees for the Northern Ireland agreement, the strength of sentiment among Irish Americans – a tenth of the population, many of them in swing states – could make it an issue in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

    Johnson has refused to meet EU leaders until the backstop is scrapped. On Tuesday, Ireland’s taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, told Johnson the backstop could not be removed from the UK withdrawal agreement.

    After a contentious phone call between the two leaders, a spokesman for Varadkar said that alternatives to the backstop, as a means of guaranteeing the Northern Irish peace agreement “have yet to be identified and demonstrated”.

    A European diplomat in Washington predicted the Irish American caucus would be decisive in holding up an agreement. “I think there is enough meat in the Irish-American lobby to stop a UK trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement is affected,” the diplomat said.

    The Irish embassy has been energetically lobbying in defence of the 1998 peace agreement. The ambassador, Daniel Mulhall, said he has been pushing at an open door.

    “There is a genuine groundswell of opinion within Irish America in favour of the Good Friday agreement and against anything that would be perceived to undermine that agreement,” Mulhall said….

  251. says

    SC @403, Elizabeth Warren flavors her descriptions of inequality and solutions for inequality with memorable phrases like, “everyone else is left eating dirt.” She’s good at that.

  252. says

    SC @401:

    “Trump has named an architect of the effort to discredit Mueller’s probe [Kash Patel!!! – SC] to one of the most impt roles on the National Security Council staff: Sr Director for Counterterrorism. The post is as crucial as it sounds, and this move is as dangerous as it sounds.”
    This is very, very bad.

    Yes, really bad. If you think this might not be as bad as it sounds, just remember what Trump appointee William Barr has managed to do.

    Barr hobbled the Department of Justice, and then he twisted the release of the Mueller report into a propaganda effort to support Trump.

    Kash Patel will help to hobble the national security community, and he will work to turn every agency into an arm of the Trump White House. I think this is part of Trump’s reelection effort.

  253. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 354.

    More on Ratcliffe and his tendency to lie:

    […] An inexperienced and unqualified congressman misrepresented his counter-terrorism record, which seems like the sort of thing that should be a deal-breaker for a nominee to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official. Those who lie about prosecuting terrorists obviously shouldn’t serve as DNI.

    But we can keep going. As the New York Times reports today, “there are other examples” in which Ratcliffe appears to have “overstated” elements of his background.

    He has emphasized that his previous responsibilities as an assistant prosecutor in that office included overseeing terrorism investigations. But examples of significant national-security cases — as opposed to more common crimes like fraud and drugs — arising in eastern Texas during that period are not readily apparent in the public record; he did prosecute a psychologically troubled Iraq War veteran who pleaded guilty to possessing a pipe bomb.

    Malcolm Bales, who worked as a prosecutor in the office from 1989 until his retirement in 2016, culminating in more than seven years as the United States attorney, praised Mr. Ratcliffe as “a bright guy and a quick study” but acknowledged that he could not recall a single terrorism prosecution in the Eastern District of Texas during Mr. Ratcliffe’s time there.

    “There were none,” Mr. Bales said, adding, “They are not common in our district.”

    Wait, there’s more.

    On the same official congressional website in which Ratcliffe falsely claimed he “put terrorists in prison,” he also boasted about having “arrested 300 illegal aliens in a single day.”

    That’s not quite what happened. In 2008, he helped bring charges against 280 undocumented immigrants working for a poultry producer, but Ratcliffe didn’t arrest any of them.

    In fact, the Texas Republican has never arrested anyone, since it was never his job. When Ratcliffe said otherwise, he was exaggerating in ways that obviously seemed intended to deceive.

    I’m not even sure why this is still open to conversation. The law that created the DNI position literally says the person holding the job must have “extensive experience” in national security. Ratcliffe does not. […]

    As a rule, Trump assumes that his nominees for every position should be rubber-stamped by the Senate, where his party enjoys a 53-seat majority, and it’s possible that GOP senators will go along once more with the White House’s wishes, indifferent to the consequences. […]

    Link

  254. says

    An update on Beto O’Rourke:

    Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) may not be faring well in national polls, but the latest University of Texas poll showed him ahead in his home state, where he leads Biden, 27% to 24%. Sanders was third with 15%, followed by Warren and Harris, with 11% to 9%, respectively.

    Also, in a head-to-head matchup, O’Rourke beats Trump in Texas by double digits.

    Despite his great poll numbers in Texas, I expect O’Rourke to drop out of the presidential race fairly soon. He just doesn’t have the national appeal he needs. Also, he is still emphasizing that he can work with Republicans. I believe him when he is talking about state-level politics in Texas. I don’t believe him when he is referring to negotiating with Republicans in Washington D.C. I sort of admire him for trying, but no, no one can expect Mitch McConnell to negotiate in good faith. That’s naive.

  255. says

    Republican senators are looking for yet another way to give a tax break to rich people.

    […] The New York Times reported one year ago today that the Trump administration was “considering” a unilateral tax cut, that would almost exclusively benefit the wealthy, by using its regulatory powers “to allow Americans to account for inflation in determining capital gains tax liabilities.”

    The article added, “The Treasury Department could change the definition of ‘cost’ for calculating capital gains, allowing taxpayers to adjust the initial value of an asset, such as a home or a share of stock, for inflation when it sells.”

    The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien recently characterized this as “the most useless and regressive tax cut ever.”

    This reminds me of Elizabeth Warren describing how wealthier organizations and individuals have chipped away at regulations until we ended up with the massive inequities we see now. This would be a good, concrete example for her to use.

    […] Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum summarized the debate nicely:

    Let’s say that ten years ago you bought $1,000 in shares of DrumCo stock. Naturally it’s a well-managed company and today those shares are worth $1,300. You sell them for a $300 profit, and pay a nice, low 20 percent capital gains tax of $60.

    But then you start to think. What about inflation? That $1,000 in 2008 is the equivalent of $1,150 today. Your real profit is only $150, and $60 represents a capital gains tax of 40 percent. What a rip off! Part of your “profit” is really just keeping up with inflation. Why do you have to pay any taxes on that?

    Under current tax law, inflation is irrelevant. Lawmakers have generally concluded that it’s too tricky to change the law, so they’ve instead created a low capital-gains tax rate to make investors happy.

    A sizable group of Republican officials apparently believes that’s not quite good enough. They like the idea of tying a low capital-gains rate with an inflation adjustment, in the process creating a new massive tax break.

    […] the policy is profoundly regressive, delivering nearly all of the benefits to the very wealthy. The very rich don’t need yet another tax break, and polling suggests such a move would be wildly unpopular.

    Second, it’s very likely that the Trump administration can’t legally make major changes to our federal system of taxation without congressional approval. If Mnuchin and his team – at the urging of 21 GOP senators – seriously pursued such an approach, the litigation would be immediate, and there’s no reason to assume courts would approve of the gambit. […]

    Postscript: If GOP leaders are suddenly concerned about inflation indexes, can we have a related conversation about the minimum wage?

    Link

  256. says

    Guardian – “Sinn Féin: vote on Irish reunification must follow no-deal Brexit”:

    It would be “unthinkable” if a no-deal Brexit was not followed by a poll on Irish reunification, the leader of Sinn Féin has warned Boris Johnson, also telling the prime minister that no one believed he was impartial on Northern Ireland.

    “In the longer term, we have advised him that constitutional change is in the air. He can’t say that he hasn’t been told,” Mary Lou McDonald said after meeting Johnson at Stormont on Wednesday morning.

    Any Brexit, but particularly no deal, “represents in anybody’s language a dramatic change of circumstances on this island, and … it would be unthinkable in those circumstances that people would not to be given the opportunity to decide on our future together”, McDonald said.

    Nichola Mallon, deputy leader of the more moderate nationalist SDLP, said Johnson delivered only “bluff and bluster around Brexit”.

    She said: “We went into this meeting concerned that he would have a limited understanding of the complexities and the fragility of this place and those concerns have been confirmed. It is very clear he views and understands the situation through the eyes of the DUP.”

    [McDonald] said Johnson needed to stop being “the DUP’s gofer”. “We’ve made clear to him that the ongoing indulgence of the DUP and rejectionist unionism needs to stop.”…

  257. says

    Oh, FFS. Really, Delaney?

    2020 Democratic candidate John Delaney appeared on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday to lick his wounds after getting verbally smacked by 2020 rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during Tuesday night’s debate.

    Delaney, a moderate former congressman currently polling at 1 percent, used the debate to position himself as the centrist […]

    However, a fed-up Warren dealt him a blow after he claimed she and Sanders were pushing “impossible promises” with a devastating retort: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

    During Delaney’s Fox interview Wednesday morning, co-host Ainsley Earhardt praised him as “being honest to the American people.”

    “I don’t understand why people run and promise stuff that never happens,” she told the candidate. [cough … Trump …. cough]

    Delaney claimed Warren’s comment was a response “when someone really can’t defend their plans” and that the Massachusetts senator was merely “saying something that’s lazy and dishonest.”

    Though liberals on Twitter didn’t seem particularly impressed with Delaney’s centrist proposals, Fox News hosts and conservatives have showered the former Maryland congressman with praise.[…]

    TPM link

    Don’t send Delaney any money.

  258. says

    A bunch of Washington D.C. clergy have rebuked Trump:

    The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has long been the preferred church of presidents in office, the house of worship where high-profile weddings (provided you meet their strict guidelines) and high-profile funerals, like John McCain’s, have occurred for decades. The “house of prayer for all people” is a phrase associated with the church since its inception.

    Today, the senior clergy of the National Cathedral have released a rather extraordinary statement rebuking the sitting president of the United States after his painful, racist statements. The clergy pulled no punches in their assessment of this moment: “When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours.”

    […] It is a question of the decency, values, and morals of every Republican who stands with Donald Trump, holding their tongue while he radically deviates from decency and the common good. They are complicit, and their silence is racism too. As the clergy note, this isn’t just about indecency and insults. Trump’s words are a real danger to all of us.

    Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

    These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

    Link

    More at the link.

  259. says

    Also in the Guardian, this from Brexit coordinator for the European parliament Guy Verhofstadt – “Boris Johnson’s threat of a no-deal Brexit will not break EU unity”:

    …Johnson will find the European parliament an open and constructive partner. I look forward in particular to allaying his concerns regarding the imminent accession of Turkey to the EU, following the claims of the leave campaign he championed, while explaining the EU has no rules on the packaging of kippers in the UK. The EU made a decision to stay out of the UK referendum, but we won’t be afraid to challenge populism and call out disinformation from across the Channel for what it is.

    UK-EU relations are at a crossroads. We are re-entering another period of Brexit fever, with the most Eurosceptic cabinet ever formed. Paradoxically, the UK is at the same time calling for a European naval force to protect shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, as the realities of an America-first foreign policy hit home. No amount of bluster, wishful thinking or fake news can hide the inherent contradictions of the Brexit project.

    Despite the irresponsible language of the self-styled disrupters now at the heart of the British government, it is clear that Britain’s prosperity and European security are intertwined. Britain’s rightful place lies at the heart of the European project, fighting for a rules-based liberal world order. Brexit is more than a tragedy – it is a waste of all of our time, in an era when China and the US are fighting for global hegemony and the climate crisis threatens our very existence.

    A united Europe could be a bastion of the free world. Together we could become a global leader in tackling the climate emergency and set the terms of global trade. As an anglophile, I still believe the quiet majority of reasonable British people want to see their country engaged as Europeans. The bonds of our collective heritage are too strong for Johnson or Nigel Farage to break. No one should fall into the trap of thinking that a no-deal Brexit is the only way out of the quagmire the Conservative party has led them into.

    Johnson repeatedly declares that Britain must leave the EU “do or die” by 31 October, but he misquotes the Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

    “Theirs not to make reply / Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die. / Into the valley of death / Rode the six hundred.”

    It is telling that these three words, do or die, misrepresent a poem about a famous British military catastrophe. We must not allow an injurious Brexit strategy, wrongly wrapped up in an English flag, to harm us all.

  260. says

    From Wonkette:

    Jonathan Weisman, one of the many geniuses employed at the New York Times, made a point this morning. As Addison DeWitt might say, it was an idiotic point but a point nonetheless.

    While discussing last night’s Democratic debate, Claire McCaskill — former senator and current progressive parade rain-on-er — declared that folks in the Midwest don’t like “free stuff.” Waleed Shahid pointed out on Twitter that Medicare and Social Security are both technically “free stuff” and both very popular in the Midwest. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, vocal advocates for more “free stuff,” also represent districts in the Midwest. Midwest residents elected them and everything. […]

    Link

  261. says

    Lynna @ #413, I still can’t get over how much Delaney sounded like a Republican attacking Democrats last night. And then he ran to Fox for an interview? He can’t go away fast enough.

  262. says

    SC, agreed. At one moment, I even though Delaney sounded like Trump. Yuck. It is very telling that Fox News loves him. Let’s see if the Russian bots and trolls also love him.

    In other news, Trump has temporarily dodged the problem of New York releasing his tax returns. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols is leaning towards giving Trump more time to challenge the House’s request for tax returns.

    […] Specifically, the judge was worried that due to the nature of the law, New York would be able to produce Trump’s tax returns as soon as the House requested them, giving the President no opportunity to legally challenge the request. […]

    the New York officials — who were also sued by Trump — raised that the D.C.-based judge might not even have the authority to decide what New York can and cannot do in response to a hypothetical request.

    Under the New York proposal, there would be an expedited briefing over the issue of the judge’s authority over the aspect of the case affecting the state officials. New York would agree to wait a week until after a decision is handed down on that issue to fulfill any request from Congress for the tax returns. That would give Trump’s personal attorneys time to file a legal challenge in New York, if it turned out the D.C. court was not the appropriate venue.

    […] Trump’s personal attorney, William Consovoy, meanwhile suggested if he lost on the question of the judge’s authority over New York, he would try again to block the House from making the request.

    The judge said he was going to take the time to further digest the proposal, but it was “where I am leaning.”

    Quoted text is from TPM.

  263. says

    Landmark arms treaty set to implode on Friday as Pentagon eyes building new missiles

    We are moving away from weapons being developed as deterrents, edging ever closer to an arms race.

    The United States will officially leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Friday, marking what some worry will be the resumption of a new arms race between Russia and the United States.

    With the INF now essentially undone, 32 years of nonproliferation efforts will likely be reversed.

    The 1987 INF treaty prompted the United States and Russia (then the Soviet Union) to dispose of nearly 2,700 conventional and nuclear weapons with a range of between 310 and 3,417 miles.

    […] Nonproliferation experts maintain that the United States is in compliance with the INF, whereas Russia is not. […]

    “The administration recklessly withdrew from the treaty without any viable plan to prevent Russia from developing more and additional types of illegal missiles, and no plan to attempt to and avert a new Euro missile race,” said Reif [Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association].

    In fact, the United States seems intent on developing three new weapons, all of which would surpass the range limits set by the INF.

    The Defense Department has already requested $96 million for fiscal year 2020 to fund the development of three new cruise missile and ballistic missile systems […]

    House Democrats have nixed this $96 million request. The Senate passed its version of the NDAA, which included the funds for the missiles, and will likely do the same in its appropriations bill, leaving the two chambers headed for a battle […]

    Trump might veto the NDAA if it doesn’t include a number of its requests, including $96 million for the new missiles.

    For its part, NATO has been holding talks with Russia over the past few months, but has failed to convince the country to destroy the missiles.

    […] the Trump administration gave notice [in February] that unless Russia starts to comply with the INF, it would pull the United States out of the treaty within six months. […]

    The New START treaty, negotiated by President Barack Obama, is now the only international agreement designed to limit the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.

    Capping the number of deployed nuclear warheads Russia and the United States can have at 1,550, the agreement is set to expire in 2021, with national security adviser John Bolton indicating that the Trump administration is unlikely to renew it.

    Trump has called New START a “bad deal,” equating it to the Iran nuclear deal, from which he withdrew the United States in May 2018. […]

    under its Nuclear Posture Review, the Trump administration has expanded the role and number of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy and in its arsenal, respectively. […]

  264. says

    From Wonkette:

    The American Civil Liberties Union advised a federal judge yesterday that the government has continued to take children away from migrant families, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. That’s despite the judge’s court order last year requiring all children separated from their parents be reunified, and mandating that the only reason the government can separate kids is if there’s clear evidence the parent is a danger to the child.

    […] according to the government’s own records, parents have had their kids removed because parents had committed minor traffic offenses; they also faced long-past accusations of crimes, spurious accusations of “unfit” parenting, and border agents who simply didn’t believe parents’ documents showing the kids were really their own. […]

    The ACLU filing is long and horrific, detailing the often ridiculous reasons the government has given for taking kids from their parents. It shows that a shocking number of the kids affected are very young — half are younger than 10 years of age, and 20 percent are under five years old.

    Some examples: The government took kids away from parents for very minor offenses like these:

    • One parent was separated due to “Malicious destruction of property value $5,” for which the father received a six-day jail sentence with six months of probation.

    • One parent was separated due to “theft by shoplifting” and “driving without a license.”

    • One parent was separated due to a 2009 conviction for “resisting or obstructing an officer,” for which he got “17 Days Time Served.”

    • One parent was separated due to a charge of “Obstruct Administration of Law Misdemeanor.”

    A lot of the separations were for “stale” criminal allegations — many charges were over a decade old. The government’s spreadsheets considered parents “criminals” without specifying whether they’d been convicted, or merely arrested and then not charged, and often didn’t distinguish between felony and misdemeanor offenses (or accusations).

    Some of the separations, supposedly to protect kids from “communicable diseases,” are downright bizarre. […]

    And then there are the utterly batshit accusations of “unfit” parenting. A father, identified as “E.R.R.,” brought his one-year-old’s cough and fever to the attention of guards at a Border Patrol detention center. Good for them, they took the baby to the hospital — twice. But after she was released to the dad, he noticed she wet her diaper while sleeping in his arms. He decided to let her sleep instead of waking her up to change her.

    The guard checked J.’s wet diaper and told E.R.R., “You are a bad father.” The guard also asked him, “Why did you bring your daughter here?”

    Bam, he’s an unfit parent and his daughter was taken away; […] E.R.R. wasn’t told where she was taken, and she was only returned after three and a half months. […]

    And how about the parents with supposed “gang affiliations”? Look at this shit:

    Ms. A. was separated from her two children based on her alleged gang affiliation. In March 2008, she was detained for three days by authorities when she ate at a restaurant frequented by gang members, but released with no charges. She subsequently became a police officer and was targeted by gang members. Ms. A.’s counsel provided DOJ with a document from the Salvadoran government showing Ms. A had no criminal record, and she was released and reunified with her son, but only after two months of separation. […]

    One three-year-old girl was separated from her mother […] the mother fled El Salvador to escape abuse by a gang member. The mother’s son was forced to watch his mother be raped and abused, and while she was in the hospital, a gang member held her son and threatened to kill him if she reported her abuse.

    Yep, you were affiliated with a gang because a gang member raped you in front of your child. In another case, a father had his 9- and 11-year-old kids taken away for six months because he was supposedly an MS-13 member with a long list of offenses in Honduras. The man had never been to Honduras, and eventually the government figured out he had a similar name and the same birthdate as a whole different person who was a gang member. In El Salvador.

    The full report offers one detailed case of fuckery after another, with the government finding any excuse at all to take kids away. Jesus Christ, it’s a depressing, necessary read. […]

  265. says

    About CNN’s debate questions, and about the CNN debate moderators:

    With 10 candidates on stage and Jake Tapper being bound by law to repeatedly scream “Senator” at intervals of 30 or 60 seconds, the format of the first night of the second round of Democratic debates was never exactly going to offer much in the way of substance. But CNN, being the enterprising cable network that it is, wasn’t about to let that stop it from actively making the night as dumb as humanly possible.

    And so the moderators peppered the candidates with questions that were evidently designed to produce bad answers in the short format. Question after question was framed up from the ideological perspective of a Heritage Foundation intern or otherwise crafted as a gotcha to generate a 15-second clip for Republican attack ads down the line. […]

    Slate link

    Much more at the link, including specific examples of “Heritage Foundation” questions, along with “translations” of those questions.

    For example: Elizabeth Warren was asked, “Should the U.S. tie its own hands by having a policy not to use a nuclear weapon unless another country uses one first?” Translation: Are you too weak to do wars?

  266. says

    Okay. How you spend your campaign money says something about you.

    Marianne Williamson doesn’t want to be identified as a New Age candidate, nor as a “New Age guru,” nor as a “crystal lady,” or “wacky new-age nutcase.”

    But look at how she spends her campaign money:

    […] Many of the firms Williamson is hiring now for her campaign previously provided support for her classes and talks on spirituality. […] campaign consulting services from Wendy Zahler, the director of business affairs for the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational Beverly Hills congregation[…] Zahler previously served as Williamson’s business affairs director and assisted with projects like the “Enchanted Love Workshop: Building the Inner Temple of the Sacred and the Romantic.” […] So far, the campaign has paid Zahler more than $61,000.

    Williamson also sought videography services from A Light Picture, a digital media production company that previously helped produce the $149 on-demand version of the candidate’s “Aphrodite Training” course on “aligning power and vulnerability, masculine and feminine, work and romance with the sacred temple of a woman’s heart.” […]

    Another videography company working for the campaign, Streaming for the Soul, has an even deeper spiritual focus. […] video series with titles like “Psychic Mediumship” and “The Truth About Vaccines,” which is a 2½-hour anti-vaccine panel discussion. There’s also the series “Ann and the Angels,” an 84-episode course on how to talk to angels for help with things like “parking spaces,” “life purpose,” and “how to make more money.” […]

    Williamson has spent more than $88,000 so far on “digital consulting” from Magic, a firm based in Boulder, Colorado, whose motto is “Digital marketing with soul (and ROI).” The agency specializes in crafting social media advertising and search engine optimization strategies for clients dedicated to “elevating consciousness, enhancing health and wellbeing, or regenerating the planet.” (To be fair, non–New Age marketing agencies also tend to get a little Age of Aquarius in their mission statements.)

    […] The company’s website notes that the staff, also known as the “magic tribe,” is “prone to freestyle rap battles, taking meetings in onesies, […]

    In an interview with the Freedom Culture podcast, Magic’s founder and CEO Marcus McNeill explained that he had started out working in sales for a company owned by New Age personality Deepak Chopra, a friend of Williamson’s. […]

    And there’s more where that came from.

    Link

  267. says

    Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg:

    New: @MaryKayHenry: “I was frankly really enraged at the notion that somehow because unions have been able to bargain better plans, that there isn’t a way to figure out how to maintain those standards and benefits in a bigger plan that covers more people”

    Head of SEIU, the largest U.S. healthcare union, tells me she was “enraged” by how Medicare For All was pitted in last night’s debate against union members’ existing plans, and “the idea that something will be taken away is the sort of bogeyman” used in prior healthcare fight

    @SEIU President @MaryKayHenry: “We as a union support all healthcare proposals that are going to extend healthcare to millions more working people, and we’re proud that Democratic candidates are fighting alongside us… The debate created a false choice.”

    @MaryKayHenry said SEIU has “been really impressed” by recent “very concrete proposals” from @JayInslee & @PeteButtigieg that include priorities like sectoral bargaining, extending labor law to cover long-excluded workers, and using federal contracting to promote good union jobs