Monday, February 27, 2017

Totalitarians All Along

For years, conservatives warned of liberal totalitarianism. It turns out it was really them all along that want a state similar to the Soviet Union.

By using the phrase and placing himself in such infamous company, at least in his choice of vocabulary to attack his critics, Mr. Trump has demonstrated, Ms. Khrushcheva said, that the language of “autocracy, of state nationalism is always the same regardless of the country, and no nation is exempt.” She added that, in all likelihood, Mr. Trump had not read Lenin, Stalin or Mao Zedong, but the “formulas of insult, humiliation, domination, branding, enemy-forming and name calling are always the same.”


I've said this for years. Whenever conservatives bitch liberals being ____________, it's invariably them that are being ____________.

The Befuddling Line of Whine

With all the political talk at last night's Oscar ceremony, there are sure to be howls of derision from the right over how Hollywood just doesn't get it and they better be careful about who they criticize if they want to win more elections. I guess the right assumes that everyone in California votes for Democrats even the big studio execs.

This line of whine has always befuddled me. Isn't this the same group of folks that bitch about people being two faced and wishing they would be more honest? Being too PC and not allowing the country to speak their mind?

I guess the right has exclusivity when it comes to being abrasive and honest. And they clearly can't take what they dish out every single fucking day.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Flippers

Take a look at these charts from NPR. They show the people that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then flipped to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. The contrast is staggering. How could this happen? At first glance, it appears confusing and beyond explanation. Obama and Trump are two vastly different people. I'd go as far to state that one is good and one is bad.

Yet they do have a common thread that they also share with Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. The losers in past elections (Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole and George HW Bush) also have something in common. It's pretty simple when you think about it. The winners all have a populist appeal and seem to care more about common folk. The losers come off as elitist and unsympathetic to your average Joe.

All either party has to do in each presidential election cycle is nominate someone that is populist and is down with regular people. That's it. It really has nothing to do with Ds or Rs.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Smelling More Like Nixon

The Trump Administration must be pretty nervous about its Russian ties these days. Apparently, they asked the FBI to "knock down" stories about Trump ties to Russia. Appalling in many ways and a gross breach of ethics. Further, it tightens the comparison to Richard Nixon in the final months of his presidency. Considering we are barely out of the first month of the Trump administration, the future does not look good for this president.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Which View?

Phoning It In

I was shocked, I tell you, shocked, that many GOP Congressmen were holding "phone in" town halls (whatever the fuck that means...sounds made up to me) with their constituents over this mini break for Congress. Ah, the party of bravery and strength....

Even worse for them is the belief that is being perpetuated within the right wing bubble that these angry constituents are actually paid protesters. Didn't the Democrats say the same thing in 2009?

How did that turn out? :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keep Baby Happy

How do new mommies keep baby happy? Well, we fill baby's world with happy things so they don't get sad and fussy. We don't want them to look like this.

We want them to look like this

It's the same thing for our president. His staff has learned that if they only show him praise from the media, he won't have a tantrum on Twitter. In fact, they go out of their way to steer him clear of all that bad, poopy headed stuff and only let him see the happy things.

I for one am so comforted that our president, like most right wing bloggers and commenters, fills his world with light and not darkness:)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Three Separate Probes

Reuters has a piece up regarding the THREE separate probes that the FBI is currently conducting regarding the connections between Russia and the Trump Administration. Before I highlight each one, I find it highly amusing and outright LMAO that the same people who were chanting "lock her up" last year are now excusing everything that has to do with Trump and Russia. They call it everything from fake news to an Obama shadow government operation running by the Ladies Optimists Club of Hibbing, Minnesota. The cognitive dissonance runs deep with these folks...

The three probes are:

-The FBI's Pittsburgh field office, which runs many cyber security investigations, is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee's computer systems, the officials said. Those breaches, in 2015 and the first half of 2016, exposed the internal communications of party officials as the Democratic nominating convention got underway and helped undermine support for Hillary Clinton.

- The bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who called themselves “Guccifer 2” and posted emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account, the sources said. Those emails contained details about fundraising by the Clinton Foundation and other topics.

-Beyond the two FBI field offices, FBI counterintelligence agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts, two of the people said. This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said.

Based on this information, as well as other reports of secret deals regarding Ukraine and the Flynn resignation, it's only a matter of time before Trump is toast. GOP leaders in Congress will begin to weigh how expendable Trump is compared to what they could accomplish with a President Pence. Let's recognize that Pence is a fairly stable conservative who would work much more easily with Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

The only thing really holding them back at this point is the voters. They know that around 40% of this country love and blindly follow Trump...for now. If that number dips below 35 percent, I suspect we will start hearing impeachment talk.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Emboldened by Trump?

When I was just out of college I volunteered to teach recent Russian emigres English at the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul. It put my otherwise useless Russian degree to good use (my sister-in-law, who also majored in Russian, went to work for the CIA, but that was not my cup of tea).

At that time Jews were the only Russians who could leave the Soviet Union, ostensibly to emigrate to Israel (the USSR practiced Germany's pre-Holocaust version of Zionism), but many of them came to the United States instead.

Now, in the age of Donald Trump, that same Jewish Community Center has been the target of two bomb threats in as many months. Last month 17 Jewish centers were hit with bomb threats.

During Donald Trump's fake news conference, which consisted mostly of lying and bragging, took place the day after Bibi Netanyahu visited the White House. Trump had fielded a lot of questions that he perceived as "tough" because the reporters wanted real answers instead of more bragging and lying.

So he asked the assembled reporters for an easy question from a friendly reporter. Trump picked Jake Turx, an orthodox Jew, easily identifiable by his attire and hairstyle. Trump apparently assumed Turx would ask him an easy question because of his buttering up of Bibi the day before.

And, in fact, the reporter did give Trump a softball:
“... [W]hat we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——”
All Trump had to to was disavow the scum that threaten Jews. It's a no-brainer. But Trump couldn't do it. He took the question as a personal affront:
At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was “not a fair question.”

“Sit down,” the president commanded. “I understand the rest of your question.”

As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, “So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”
Look. It's really simple. When someone has to tell you that they're not a bigot, they're almost certainly a bigot.

It doesn't matter how many Jewish friends, relatives, wives, or grandchildren you have. When you say and do things that demean and hurt Jews, or don't consider them to be equals, or imply that all Jews are money-grubbing misers, you are an anti-Semite and a bigot. Even if you think you're just joking.

It's like Rush Limbaugh claiming, "I can't be sexist! I only marry women!" For sixty years my dad has told the same, tired old sexist jokes. I'm sure he loves my mom, but he treats her as a servant and not an equal.

For centuries western society demeaned and demonized Jews, yet Jews were an integral and essential part of that same society, acting as bankers and money-lenders because the Church prohibited Christians from charging interest (usury was a sin). This same attitude persists today in people like Trump.

Trump has frequently tried to pass off his obnoxious stereotyping of Jews in his speeches as humor, but Jews have long since grown tired of hearing how good they are at counting Donald Trump's money.

Since Trump started running for president he has, in the parlance of George W. Bush, emboldened racists, anti-Semites and bigots. Indeed, Trump's fake news conference brought great praise from neo-Nazis (via Haaretz):
At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the press conference “was one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.”
You see that? The "his/our enemies"? The racists and anti-Semite have adopted Trump as one of their own, because -- despite his protestations -- Trump's words and actions are identical to those of the racists and anti-Semites.

One of the first acts as president Trump took was to discontinue monitoring of right-wing hate groups in the United States and instead focus solely on Muslim extremists. This is very short-sighted, as there are more terrorist attacks in the United States by right-wingers than by Muslims. (Only with the Orlando attack did the body count from Muslim terrorists exceed that of right-wingers.)

Inspired by Dylann Roof, emboldened by Trump?
Fortunately, not everyone in the FBI got the message: just four days ago Benjamin McDowell was arrested for illegally buying a gun in order to copy Dylann Roof's massacre. The FBI was looking into McDowell because he had threatened a synagogue on Facebook.

If McDowell had been a Muslim Donald Trump would have gone ballistic: he would have castigated the judges for stymieing his Muslim ban and demanded their resignations.

But Trump -- and the "fake news" media -- have been almost completely silent about McDowell and all the other right-wing terrorists who have been emboldened by Trump's rise.

It's really simple, Donald. If you want to prove you're not a bigot and an anti-Semite, stop telling us that you're not an anti-Semite or a racist, and instead start condemning people like Benjamin McDowell in no uncertain terms. Disavow The Daily Stormer. Tell David Duke to go to hell.

And reinstate monitoring of hate groups of all stripes.

#22 and #24

Grover Cleveland, our nation's 22nd and 24th president, was the only president to be elected, to lose his reelection bid, and then win again 4 years after he lost. Why?

He wanted to get rid of tariffs.

Berkeley and CPAC's Common Cause

Last month Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay, racist, woman-hating, alt-right Breitbart editor, troll and Trump supporter was disinvited from speaking at Berkeley after demonstrators rioted, demanding his speech be canceled.

Donald Trump immediately tweeted his outrage, threatening to take away the university's federal funding, ostensibly for suppressing free speech.

I'm not sure why Trump thinks this. Which clause of the Constitution grants everyone the right to speak at Berkeley?

Now Yiannopoulos has been barred from speaking at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee), after Yiannopoulos made comments that appeared to promote pedophilia. He now claims to have been joking.

Is Trump to going to issue a similar condemnation of CPAC and threaten to revoke their non-profit status? And will Breitbart man up and fire Yiannopoulos?

Yiannopoulos' disqualifying comments, however distasteful, were illuminating: as a kid he appears to have been molested by a priest and forced to perform oral sex. It's sad that he had to go through that. But the abuse molded his opinions, such as his claim that “People are only gay to be transgressive. They choose to be gay to be naughty.”

That's the guilt talking. It's the conservative party line spread by the Church to excuse the crimes committed by priests who were probably victims when they were children. I grant, possibly, that Yiannopoulos is gay simply because he's a contrarian dick (or perhaps because he drives women nuts).

But most gays are not like that. And they don't want Yiannopoulos to screw up another generation of gay kids the way his Father Michael screwed him up, by feeding them a line of bull equating homosexuality and pedophilia. They don't think that Yiannopoulos has the right to publicly inflict his hatred on innocent bystanders, such as the transgender student he attacked during a speech in Milwaukee.

By coincidence, a report came out in the same edition of the paper that found that suicides among gay teens declined by 14% when states legalized gay marriage. Shutting down trolls like Yiannopoulos saves lives!

The problem with Yiannopoulos is not that he's conservative. Or that he's gay. The problem is that he's a selfish, hate-mongering troll who takes delight in hurting people.

In other words, he's just like Trump and all the rest of the gang at Breitbart.

President #11

James K Polk, our nation's 11th president, served from 1845-1849. Known as the "dark horse" president, he presided over the Mexican-American war which lasted from 1846 to 1848.

This resulted in our acquisition of California and New Mexico which, in turn, stoked the powder keg between the North and the South over slavery.

President #8

Martin Van Buren, our nation's 8th president, came after seven gentlemen who were titans (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, Jackson) in the office and in our history. Referred to as the "little magician," he looked more like a Harry Potter character, standing at only 5 foot six inches.

He served from 1837-1841 and blocked the annexation of Texas because it assuredly would add to slave territory--and it might bring war with Mexico. Defeated by the Whigs in 1840 for reelection, he was an unsuccessful candidate for President on the Free Soil ticket in 1848. He died in 1862.

President #21

Happy President's Day! As most of you know, I take this day to put up quotes and fun facts from the presidents we have had over the years. This year, I thought I would highlight some of the forgotten presidents.

First up, Chester A Arthur, our nation's 21st president. He took over after James Garfield was shot very early in 1881. Aside from having the best facial hair of any president, Arthur signed an immigration bill which barred "paupers, criminals and lunatics" from entering the country.

How could they tell?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump's Russian Owners

Donald Trump likes to claim that he doesn't own any property in Russia. At the carnage he called a press conference last week he said: “I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.”

This isn't through a lack of trying: Trump has tried numerous times, but has failed to close any deals in Russia.

While Trump doesn't own anything in Russia, a lot of Russians own pieces of Trump:
Dolly Lenz, a real estate broker in New York, said she sold about 65 units in Trump World Tower, a condominium tower at 845 U.N. Plaza in Manhattan, to Russian buyers looking for real estate investments in the late 1990s. “I had contacts in Moscow looking to invest in the United States,” Lenz said. “’What do you have to recommend?’ They all wanted to meet Donald. They became very friendly.”
And this:
In 2008, Trump sold a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million. On the campaign trail, Trump at one point claimed it was his only dealing with Russia, but that’s not accurate.
The Russian paid far more than market value, for some strange reason...
The same year he sold the mansion, his son, Donald Trump Jr., told the global trade publication eTurboNews that Russians were key investors in the Trump Organization’s assets. "And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” Trump Jr. said in the interview. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There's indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble." 
Just before the election the Trump Toronto hotel went bankrupt. It's managed by Trump's company and was financed by Russians.

When American banks stopped lending money to Trump after his numerous bankruptcies, he turned to Russians for financial backing for his new projects 
The most notable — and most notorious — of Trump’s Russian investors came through the Bayrock Group, which according to CNN, was “a company run by Soviet immigrants, and according to a lawsuit filed, financed by Russian and Kazakhstan money.” Bayrock, whose operations were headed by a man accused in a lawsuit of using “mob-like tactics to achieve his goals,” helped develop huge Trump projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and New York.
Yes, Trump doesn't any property in Russia. But the situation is actually far worse: he is in bed with a lot of questionable Russians and he owes a lot of Russians a lot of money.

We don't really know the extent of Trump's indebtedness to the Russians, but it's a huge conflict of interest. It's only one of the many reasons why Congress should release his tax returns so that the people of the United States can see just how much Trump owes his foreign masters.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump's Security Incompetence

Donald Trump shows an alarming incompetence when it comes to matters of security.

His national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was just fired for lying about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The reason we know this is that the NSA recorded the exchange. Which means Flynn is an idiot for not realizing that this is what the NSA does for a living.

US intelligence agencies report that at least four close Trump associates have been in contact with Russian spies. Paul Manafort, one of Trump's many campaign managers, whined that spies don't wear badges. But that's not the point: why aren't these guys vetting their contacts with Russia? If they're not colluding with the Russians, why are they even talking to them?

Trump himself discussed North Korea's missile launch with the Japanese prime minister in front of a yuuuge crowd of diners at his Mar-a-Lago resort. People posted pictures on Facebook of Trump and Abe looking at secret briefing documents. Trump himself is the biggest security breach in Washington.

The Wall Street Journal reports that intelligence agencies are withholding certain information from Trump because he can't be trusted with it. Why? Trump can't process the information himself: he doesn't know anything, so he has to rely on his aides to tell him what's relevant in the security briefings. Aides like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller cannot be trusted.

Trump is now looking at a replacement for Flynn. His first choice, Robert Harward, has turned him down, ostensibly for financial and family reasons. But the real reasons appear to be the state of total chaos in the White House, and the fact that Trump won't let him choose his own staff. Only Trump loyalists are allowed.

Trump's no. 1 pick now? David Petraeus, who was fired from the CIA when it was revealed that he was having an affair with a writer and had given her hundreds of classified documents.

Donald Trump's judgment is terrible when it comes to matters of security. Which is kind of weird: he goes nuts about leaks to the press, but he's totally careless when it comes keeping the nation's secrets. His record of putting equally careless people in charge of security puts our country's safety in jeopardy.

The Magic R

When you are a Republican, a different set of rules applies to you. You get away with shit that Democrats would be destroyed for. Worse, the very thing that you spend years ripping Dems for, you get to do with zero repercussions.

Last night on Real Time, Bill Maher most eloquently expressed something that has frustrated me for years. Democrats are held to a different standard because they are the adults while Republicans (the adolescents) are given a very wide degree of latitude of words and behavior.

It must stop. Yesterday.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Fake President

Yesterday Donald Trump had a solo press conference (who's a big boy?). It was a disaster: packed full of bragging and lying, it was a command performance of dickish adolescent behavior combined with the senescent forgetfulness of an Alzheimer's patient.

For example:
I put it out before the American people, got 306 Electoral College votes. I wasn’t supposed to get 222. They said there’s no way to get 222, 230’s impossible.

270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan. In other words, the media’s trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.
Trump has been repeating the lie that he got the biggest electoral college majority for more than two months now. He has been corrected dozens of times, yet he keeps saying it. When the reporter pointed this out to him yet again this is how he responded (The Daily Show has video):
Question: You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan with 304 ... 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama about 365 and--

Trump: Well, I'm talking about Republicans. Question: ... President Obama 332, and George H.W. Bush 426 when he won as president.
Trump: Yeah.

Question: So why should Americans trust...

Trump: What, no, I was told... I was given that information. I don't know, I was just given, we had a very, very big margin.

Question: I guess my question why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake when you're proving information that's --

Trump: Well, I don’t know, I was given that information. I was given — I actually, I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that? OK thank you, that’s...
His response to being caught lying again is to say, "I was just talking about Republicans," and when he's caught lying yet again, he says, "I was given that information."

Is he the president or a kid who didn't do his homework and is claiming the dog ate it?

Or is Trump a duffer who keeps bragging about that one time he shot two under par, when in reality his caddy was dropping balls back on the fairway after Trump sliced into the rough?

These antics mean one of three things:

1) His aides are (repeatedly) feeding him the same lie that he just mouths in front of the press, in which case he's a puppet of Bannon and Miller.

2) He really can't remember the numerous times he's been corrected on this point, in which case he's already suffering from senile dementia.

3) He knows he's lying and doesn't care, thinking that if he repeats the lie often enough people will be duped by it.

All of these behaviors are disqualifying in a president. If this was just a one-off, we could ignore it. But since he repeats these behaviors over and over, he cannot be trusted to lead the country.

Listening to Trump speak, it's clear that he's just a jerk and doesn't really know anything that a president needs to know. He's totally at the mercy of aides who are much smarter than he is, with agendas that run counter to American democracy.

Given his many bankruptcies and failed ventures like Trump "University," Trump doesn't seem to be good at anything, except self promotion and golf -- by some reports he's a decent amateur (but he cheats all the time).

Speaking of golf, during the campaign Trump complained about how frequently Obama played golf. It's only been a month now, and Trump is flying down to Florida most every weekend to play golf, at great taxpayer expense and huge inconvenience to users of the airport in Palm Beach, which is shut down every time Trump is around.

Congress should let Trump spend all his time on the links -- they should impeach this clown before he does something really stupid.

Everything is Awesome!

Here is the entire, unedited press conference yesterday with President Trump.

Nikto has a post going up later with his own thoughts but here are mine.

The entire thing reminded me of every right wing blogger and right wing blog commenter that I've ever had a discussion with in my life. Filled with lies...arrogance...a profound sense of self importance where there really shouldn't be any...imperial decrees...unfocused...rambling...all of the above. In Trump's world, everything is awesome! Honestly, if we can make it through this presidency (however long it lasts), our country is the strongest in human history.

Of course, his supporters (around 40% of voters) think that it was AWESOME! They are cheering the smug liberal elite communist media and libtards freaking out over yesterday. Yay, us!! Watch them all squirm. Never mind that our president is nuts. We just love us some liberals being tortured!!!
Perhaps they might want to be a little nicer to all of us considering we are going to be the ones cleaning up this mess. Like many adolescents, I don't expect them to see this. To be totally fair, though, there are some Trump supporters (and I think this number is growing as more of this insanity happens) that are calling him to the mat. If he loses a significant portion of them, Congress would be more amenable to a President Pence.

The best thing the sane people can do in this country is focus on winning back one or both houses in 2018. Donald Trump is going to continue to be himself until he loses. He truly believes that he has the majority of the country behind him. He won't change until he is forced to change as we saw with the judicial block on his immigration ban.

Get everyone registered to vote and get them out THIS year so they know what they are doing and be ready for 2018.

Who Benefits Most From The Nanny State? White People.

Take look at this chart

This is the real story of the 2016 election. The people that benefit the most from the "nanny state" also voted for Donald Trump. Why? My only guess is that perhaps it's some sort of self loathing.

Of course, the facts won't really matter because that's the age we live in. I'm sure these same folks believe that illegal non whites are taxing the system.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reach Out And Feel Their Pain

Bill gets pretty serious in the video above as he discussed the relation between drug addiction and states that voted for Trump. While mildly funny at first, it's really not a joking matter. People that have lost hope reach out for charlatans like Donald Trump because they convince themselves that he can save them.

If Democrats want to start taking back the state houses and ultimately Congress and the White House, they need to reach out to these folks and feel their pain.

A New Level of Moronic

CNN has a nice summary up of what we know regarding Donald Trump, his advisers, and Russia. It's good information to have but there are few things that have been left out.

Perhaps the most important item is the fact that the president has now declared war on the intelligence community. It makes sense after this tantrum that we now know they are keeping sensitive information from him. Further, Trump's open disdain is likely going to cost him in a big way. Check this out.

US intelligence is not the problem here.

The President's collusion with Russian intelligence is.

Many details, but the essence is simple.

Now we go nuclear. IC war going to new levels. Just got an EM fm senior IC friend, it began: "He will die in jail." 

John Schindler is a former NSA intelligence analyst. I've always thought that Donald Trump was idiotic but this is far worse than I could have possibly imagined. Pissing off the people who likely have compromising information on you is a new level of moronic.

Worse, these are the people that protect us on a daily basis from extremist attacks. The alt right (aka Russian intelligence useful idiots) is now accusing them of being some sort of Obama shadow government perfectly illustrating the epic fail of responsibility and ownership of their actions. They are in charge and they are STILL blaming Barack Obama!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How Long?

With members of both parties in Congress calling for a deeper investigation into Trump administration ties to Russian intelligence, we've now moved into a place where it's easier to imagine the president not lasting very long.

High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN. Michael Flynn, the recently fired National Security Adviser who barely lasted three weeks, shared information with the Russian Ambassador to the United States and the White House knew about this three weeks ago.

How much more synergy is there between Russia and Trump and his administration? Based on the president's past comments and actions (see here, here and here), it's obvious that he is beholden to Russia in a detrimental way. The Flynn revelations make it necessary for there to be a more complete and intensive investigation.

So, how long is Trump going to last as president? He's barely started and this investigation is going to severely impede his ability to get anything done. That and the fact that his staff of right wing bloggers and commenters are so incredibly incompetent and allergic to reality that they can't seem to function as a team and get anything done.

I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't make it to the end of the year...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Arrogant, Self Important, and Ideologically Blind

Jordan Greenhall's piece entitled "Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition – Deep Code" is the current "darling post" making the rounds in alt right circles. I've decided to offer my own "deep code" of it because it's quite possibly the most arrogant, self important, and ideologically blind piece I have ever read. There are several profound flaws in it and I will detail each one as they appear throughout his piece.

Greenhall mentions the “Trump insurgency” and how it will affect change in our country against what he perceives as the status quo. The problem with this line of thought is that it’s no longer an insurgency. Donald Trump is president. Steve Bannon is a senior adviser. Trump’s staff is filled with insurgents with alt right bloggers and pundits now regular staples of the White House. All of this means they are no longer insurgent but in charge. They are now responsible for leading this country. To continue to claim that they are some sort of rebels is not reflective of reality and makes me wonder if they know any other way to behave. Certainly, they are going to find out because the American voter will hold them responsible.
His lack of comparison to the 2000 election and his attempt at synergy with the American revolution are both in error. As with the 2000 election, the 2016 winning candidate lost the popular vote and this time by nearly 3 million votes. Some “revolution.” Further, the margins in the states that put Trump over the top in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were so small that they clearly betrayed a lack of enthusiasm for either candidate. In fact, the voters that won it for Trump are the same ones that voted for Obama twice. Again, what revolution? That’s merely people perpetually voting for change.
The comparison of the alt right to the American revolutionaries has become rather tiresome. Honestly, it’s overly self important and arrogant. The Tea Party did it 8 years ago and it wasn’t really applicable then. The federal government is not a monarchy with a mandate from heaven. The media is not some ogre like entity bent on destroying the US Constitution. No king is stopping people from getting involved in the political process. People are represented by the people they elect who are mostly Republican these days.
Greenhall’s analysis of the communications infrastructure makes no sense whatsoever. Donald Trump has been a part of the legacy sensemaking system. He has been a huge drive of multiple elements within the Deep State network for three decades. He is still an executive producer for a show on NBC! How is that insurgent? New media is dominated by political viewpoints all across the political spectrum. The “insurgency” isn’t merely limited to the alt right. Does Greenhall think that Benie Sanders grew out of a vacuum?
No one in the mainstream media is preventing people from posting on blogs, social media, or their own web sites. There is a veritable multitude of information outlets out there, so much so, that the real challenge is to sift through it all and find accurate information and critical thinking. Clearly, Greenhall is not embracing the such thinking as he openly derides the criticism of “fake news.”
What he perceives as a threat to their way of life, critical thinkers in outfits like the New York Times and CNN see fake news for what it is: lying. When you have a group of people leading our country who regularly engage in ignorance of facts, people are going to lose their lives. It’s just that simple. Now, either they are doing this because they are ideologically stubborn (bad) or they are doing it because they are delusional (worse). Either way, we have to have an acceptance of fundamental reality.
If someone posts something that is factually incorrect just because they feel like it, this same person should not be excused simply for the sake of insurgency.
Donald Trump is not a leader of a “nomadic war machine.” He’s an authoritarian fronting a group of like minded individuals who only want to follow the laws they like and hate being told what to do. These are folks that are proud nationalists who embrace xenophobia and are openly antagonistic against anyone who is different from them. There is no plurality here which makes me wonder just how large this “insurgency” actually is.
Greenhall’s prediction of old media’s downfall is ludicrous. They still have a ton of money and are more popular than ever. Check out the recent ratings of Saturday Night Live. Moreover, the money behind new media is from folks like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, both “smug, liberal elites.”
I’m not sure why the Russians hacking our political system is put in quotations. Does he truly believe that this was a hoax? If so, this betrays an even deeper problem. It’s one thing to look critically at information that comes from our national intelligence agencies. It’s yet another to dismiss ALL information about this as “deep state propaganda.” Does Greenhall not want to admit to being used as a Russian dupe?
His analysis of globalists smacks of mercantilism and protectionism, two ideologies that have been shown, time and again, to be deeply flawed. Free trade and economic liberalism has raised both income and life expectancy in the world. Given Greenhall’s success in the business world from these policies, I wonder how truly genuine he is about this aspect of his analysis.
The whole “Blue Church is killing us” is basically code for, once again, not wanting to follow rules that help society but might be a little inconvenient. And that’s where the rest of his piece descends into Alex Jones territory and I found little merit in what he was saying.
As mentioned in the other answers, Greenhall seems like he’s trying to disseminate propaganda for the alt right to lap up and, in return, heap glorious adulation upon him. It’s as arrogant, self important, and ideologically blind as the people he is trying to impress.

Check out some of the other reactions to it on Quora. 

One Simple Question

Donald Trump's national security advisor Michael Flynn has just resigned for talking with the Russians about removing sanctions Barack Obama had imposed for Russian interference with the American election before Trump was inaugurated. Flynn then lied about this, embarrassing VP Mike Pence, who defended Flynn publicly.

The reason we know Flynn was lying was that the FBI had a recording of Flynn talking to Russian ambassador Kislyak, something that acting attorney general Sally Yates told the Trump administration last month, before Trump fired her for refusing to defend Trump's Muslim ban. (The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence committee is also outraged that the NSA is spying on the Russians.)

So the question is: did Flynn act on his own, or was he just following orders from Donald Trump to reassure the Russians that Obama's sanctions would go away?

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Motivating Factors Behind The Support For President Trump

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about why people are supporting Donald Trump. Given the diversity of people who support him, it's not just one factor but several and we can see this through the three main groups of people that support him.

First, let's take a look at the group of people who propelled him over the top: the Obama-Trump voter. Two recent articles summarize these folks quite well. The first is from the Chicago Tribune and the second is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In reviewing both of these pieces, it's pretty easy to see that their primary motivation is money. Check out this pull from the first article.

Kramer, who voted twice for Obama, used to watch Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice." ''I said to myself, 'Ugh, I can't stand him.'" When he announced his candidacy, she thought it was a joke. "Then my husband said to me, 'Just think, everything he touches seems to turn to money.'" And she changed her mind.

Actually, everything he touches turns to debt and bankruptcy but that's not what they see. They see a celebrity from "The Apprentice" who is their lottery ticket. They truly believe that Trump is going to make them more money and he plays into that with classic PT Barnum panache. When he holds up his latest executive order, it has the appearance of him getting 'er done. Remember, these folks are not interested in facts and they, like our new president, don't read books. They, along with conservatives, are tired of being reminded that they aren't intellectual.

So, the motivating factor with this group is primarily money and a feeling of inadequacy. Trump makes them think they are going to make that money and, thus, be more important.

The next group of folks to examine are those conservatives (mostly right wing bloggers and commenters) who are just happy to see liberals squirm. Their agenda is to rub the smug elites face in it and laugh about how the silly liberals are complaining about Trump being unbalanced. They LOVE every minute of it because, like most adolescents, they are super hearting the chaos right now. They want the whole playhouse torn down because they are tired of people telling them what to do even it is for their own good and the good of society.

These folks don't really stand for anything even though they issue imperial decree after decree saying that they do. Their ideology in life has one core tenet: antagonize liberals. What's hilarious is they can't yet see they have to be responsible now that their guy is in charge. Worse, they are still under the delusion that they are fighting some sort of resistance. How is that possible when THEY are in charge now? Clearly, they don't get the new dynamic which I predict will ultimately be their downfall. The Obama turned Trump voter is going to hold them responsible and when they continue to blame liberals and the media, people are going to start wondering if they even had any ideas that worked in reality.

The next group of folks who support Trump are just your garden variety Republicans. They will never vote for a Democrat and will always vote GOP. They watch Fox News and read only conservative web sites, relying largely on their social media feeds for their "news." It's this group (along with the right wing bloggers/commenters) who were completely used by Russian intelligence over the last few years. Put out some red mead about liberals and you have yourself a group of useful idiots who will vote in the candidate preferred by the Kremlin.

In essence, it's these three groups that put Trump in the White House. While each one has their own motivating factors, they also have common threads that run between them. The first is fear. All of these folks are deeply afraid of how the world has changed in the age of automation and globalization. They are angry that people from other countries have taken their jobs and, thus, are sick and tired of hearing about diversity. In many ways, this anger has grown in to hate.

They feel insecure, inferior and inadequate. When someone who is more learned and accomplished than them reminds them of facts, their first reaction is to rebel. Why should they have to be reminded of all the crap they have to deal with all the time? All of these groups have been very successful at creating a cocoon or bubble in which outside information is viewed with great skepticism. All of this is also why they love themselves a candidate with zero experience in government. The dumber the better! Once they learn all them fancy book facts that they learned at libral college, then they think they are better than everyone else.

If Democrats want to succeed at a local level, which is where this battle is really being fought, they have to understand all these factors. They need to go into the counties that both Obama and Trump won (and many more beyond that) with the following stark message. Your jobs aren't coming back. They have been taking over by robots. Go back to school and retrain. Find a different vocation. Get a college degree. Join the 21st century and obtain the necessary skills to go along with it. Take some responsibility for your life and stop bitching about the government, the media and liberals.

No more excuses!

Trouble In Right Wing Blogger Paradise

When you vote for a candidate with zero experience running a government agency, this is what you get.

You get a national security adviser on thin ice over his conversations with the Russian government.

You get a chief of staff that is perceived in conservative circles as weak.

You get a senior adviser hawking clothing lines like the presidency is QVC.

In short, you have a presidency in complete disarray.

Would we expect anything less from a right wing blogger/commenter president?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Make America Learn Again

Bill raises some pretty serious questions in this video. Why must people insist on being ignorant? Lately, I've been thinking it's just out of spite towards "smug liberals" and that's not an ideology.

It's an adolescent tantrum.


Build A Longer Table

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump's 3 AM Phone Call

During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary the Clinton campaign ran an ad that asked who you wanted answering the phone at 3 AM, implying that Obama was inexperienced, unfamiliar with the military and unprepared for the rigors of international diplomacy.

Now Donald Trump has had his own 3 AM phone call. But it wasn't his phone ringing: it was the phone of Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor:
President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one?

So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.

Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.
How can Trump not know what kind of dollar he wants? And, as Flynn wondered, why the hell was Trump bugging a general at three in the morning about it?

This is not the only time something like this has happened. When Trump was on the phone recently with Putin discussing nuclear arms, Putin mentioned extending a treaty that had been signed with the Obama administration. Trump didn't know what Putin was talking about, so he put the president of Russia on hold to ask his aides about it. Then:
Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.
First, it's patently ridiculous that Trump didn't know about the treaty to begin with. Didn't his aides briefed him before the phone call started? Or maybe they had, but Trump had already forgotten about it.

Second, Trump is making snap judgments about national security based on a two-minute conversation with "an aide" while Putin was on hold. Might the secretary of defense or the secretary of state want to weigh in on this?

What's really disturbing about Trump is that he doesn't know anything, and he makes important decisions based on what the person who happens to be in the room with at the time. What if the only other person in the room is the janitor when Trump's phone rings with news of an impending nuclear strike?

Republicans have got to be worried sick about this: not just because Trump is so stupid, but because his administration leaks like a sieve. In the last few weeks there have stories daily about Trump not knowing something basic; he doesn't even read the executive orders he signs; he doesn't think he needs a security briefing; he planned an attack on a terrorist base over dinner, and then didn't bother to monitor it in the situation room (getting one American killed on several civilians, including children).

There have already been a dozen idiotic scandals like this since Trump took office, things that would have had Republicans screaming for Obama's head if his administration had been so incompetent and amateurish.

Trump is not prepared to be president and has no interest in the job. His staff does not respect him (why else all the leaks?). The intelligence agencies all think he's an idiot. They think that Trump supporters will have their heads if they move against Trump, but he will bring the entire Republican Party and the conservative establishment down when he really screws the pooch. And he will.

Republicans need to remove Trump soonest. They can start by amping up the investigation of Russian interference with the election, and Michael Flynn's contacts with the Russians before the election, and then again after the election but before the inauguration. And then Trump's conflicts of interest, like making the Pentagon rent space in Trump Tower...

And releasing Trump's tax returns -- which Congress and Congress alone can do -- should be high on the priority list as well.

You'll Be Covered In Something

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Besieged by Crime?

Yesterday, President Trump said our nation has been besieged by crime. Meeting with a group of our nation's sheriffs,Trump told them, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”

This is, of course, not true. How do I know this? Well, gun rights activists on the inter webs remind me of this fact all the time. Here are the facts.

The murder rate is defined as the number of murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 residents. Beginning in 1957, when the rate was 4.0 murders per 100,000 residents, the rate rose steadily to a high of 10.2 in 1980. It then steadily dropped, to 7.4 in 1996, to 6.1 in 2006, to 4.4 in 2014. It went up in 2015 to 4.9. But that is less than half the murder rate of 1980. The raw number of homicides in America has actually declined from 19,645 in 1996 to 15,696 in 2015, even while the population has risen from 265 million in 1996 to 321 million in 2015.

The violent crime rate in America also has plummeted over the years. Defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, violent crimes peaked at a rate of 758 per 100,000 residents in 1991, and the rate was about 373 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015, again a decline of more than half. The statistics for 2016 are not yet available. Here is the FBI’s violent crime table for the years 1996 to 2015.

Today, Trump doubled down on these claims in what has become yet another example of this administration's cognitive dissonance. Like the right wing bloggers and commenters that religiously follow him, they create their own reality in which their anger, hate and fear are more justified.

Alternative facts indeed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

In World Where....

Puzder: Automatic Disqualification

Andrew F. Puzder, who as President Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department has come under fire for criticizing worker protections, acknowledged on Monday that he had employed an undocumented immigrant to clean his house.
Trump ran on a platform of kicking illegal immigrants out of the country, and with his Muslim ban has tried to kick out legal ones as well.

Puzder's crime is completely inexcusable: everyone knows when they hire illegals. And it's not the lack of English language skills, or the failure to adopt American customs: it's because they work for so little. Real Americans won't accept the slave wages that rich folks like Puzder want to pay their household employees.

It's preposterous to think that Puzder, the multi-million dollar CEO of a giant corporation, was fooled by an undocumented worker's fake Social Security card. A little research and a query against the Social Security Administration's database will quickly tell you whether they're legit.

And it's even crazier than that: to save a few bucks, Puzder gave an undocumented foreigner free run of his house. They could have ripped off his TV and his wife's jewelry, planted surveillance devices for corporate espionage, accessed his computer and got passwords for all his accounts, or used the access to kidnap family for ransom -- that's a thing in Mexico, Republicans keeps telling us, be afraid!

Am I to believe that, given all the dangers wealthy Americans face from undocumented workers, he didn't vet this person at all? Is Puzder really that naive and trusting? It's far more likely that he did vet this person, knew they were undocumented, and got references from a former employer who also knew the worker was undocumented.

The only reason that there is an illegal immigration problem is that people like Puzder hire undocumented workers because they'll work for less. Without people like Puzder who flagrantly violate employment laws by hiring undocumented workers, the influx of undocumented workers would be tiny.

Several other Trump nominees have hired illegals or haven't paid taxes on household employees:
Mr. Trump’s choice to lead the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, said last month that he had employed an undocumented household worker for several years. And Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and the nominee for White House budget director, said that he failed to pay taxes on a nanny that he and his wife employed after their children were born. They had to pay more than $15,000 in taxes and penalties to the I.R.S.
Bill Clinton had similar troubles: two of his attorney general nominees were forced to step aside for the nanny problems. The senate should give Puzder the same treatment: his appointment should be automatically denied.

Of course, Puzder should be rejected for paying employees who work at fast food joints like his Carl Jrs. and Hardee's restaurants so little that they qualify for $7 billion in public assistance.

Republicans constantly bitch about welfare, but when a company pays their workers so little that they can get public assistance, it's really the company that's on the dole.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Not So Innocent

Well, President Trump finally said something that was dead on right. In his interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that aired before the Super Bowl, Trump responded to Mr. O'Reilly's comment that Putin was "a killer."

"There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump replied.

He's right. We aren't innocent. About 30 thousand people die every year due to gun violence. We bomb the crap out of people all over the world although I think most of this is largely justified.

Yet imagine if Barack Obama had said this. What would the reaction be from the alt right? How many right wing blog commenters would spew venom on the forums over how much he hated America? Fox would run a breaking news segment with the headline "Obama Hate America-Thinks We are Killers!" There's barely been a peep from any conservative over these comments.

This latest interview also underscores just how much Trump is owned by Vladimir Putin. He refuses to accept the type of person Putin is and what he has done. Worse, all of those mouth foamers who warned of the boiling pit of sewage that is the totalitarian state of Russia are now suddenly rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at the silly liberals.

Can't they see that Russia is completely innocent?