"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, February 27, 2017


This story offers a good insight into the thinking, in some quarters at least, on immigrants:

West Frankfort, Illinois, overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump last fall, but now some residents are upset after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and detained a beloved local Mexican restaurant owner. . . .

While residents in the town said that they were still supportive of the president’s moves to deport undocumented immigrants, they told the Times that the president should make more exceptions for people like Pacheco, who have not only been exemplary local businessmen, but also pillars of the community who take part in local charity events.

The comments by residents in the town are illuminating: "Our immigrant is different."

I wonder if any of these people stop to think about the fact that the overwhelming majority of immigrants, legal or not, are hard-working, law-abiding people who just want a decent life and would like to fit in.

You get what you vote for

Another WTF? Moment

This, via TPM:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said that President Donald Trump's budget, which will be sent to Congress in March, will not propose cutting funding for all social safety programs.

"We are not touching those now,” Mnuchin said on Fox News’ "Sunday Morning Futures” when Maria Bartiromo asked if the administration planned to cut funding for programs like Social Security and Medicare. “So don't expect to see that as part of this budget."

I wouldn't expect to see Social Security as part of this or any budget: SS is funding entirely by payroll taxes and interest earned on trust fund moneys loaned to the US government. Nothing comes from general revenues. I would expect Mnuchin to know that.

As for Medicare, there seems to be some difference of opinion (if there can be opinions on something that should be this unambiguous): According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 41% of Medicare funding comes from general revenues:

The Medicare website lays it out a bit differently, citing two Medicare trust funds, but apparently at least one of those is funded at least partially by allocations from Congress. However, I don't know if this is considered a budget item or not.

I'm inclined to be a bit dubious about the Kaiser Foundation's assertions simply because they include Social Security, as well as Medicare, in their first graph showing government expenditures, which, while strictly true in that the government administers both programs, is misleading when discussing funding sources, since neither Social Security and at least most of Medicare are budget items.

All of which is by way of saying, as far as Mnuchin's statement goes, "Bullshit."

Giggle du Jour

He lost.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What's New at Green Man Review

It's that time of week again, and there's some pretty interesting stuff up at Green Man Review, so I think you should take a look.

Today's Must-Read: Define "Great"

This article by David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy, which tom Sullivan quotes extensively in this post at Hullabaloo. Rothkopf's thesis:

The shallow state is in many respects the antithesis of the deep state. The power of the deep state comes from experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, traditions, and shared values. Together, these purported attributes make nameless bureaucrats into a supergovernment that is accountable to no one. That is a scary prospect. But the nature of bureaucracies, human nature, inertia, checks and balances, and respect for the chain of command makes it seem a bit far-fetched to me. (The bureaucracy will drive Trump, like many presidents, mad, and some within it will challenge him, but that’s not the same thing.)

The shallow state, on the other hand, is unsettling because not only are the signs of it ever more visible but because its influence is clearly growing. It is made scarier still because it not only actively eschews experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, tradition, and shared values but because it celebrates its ignorance of and disdain for those things. Donald Trump, champion and avatar of the shallow state, has won power because his supporters are threatened by what they don’t understand, and what they don’t understand is almost everything. Indeed, from evolution to data about our economy to the science of vaccines to the threats we face in the world, they reject vast subjects rooted in fact in order to have reality conform to their worldviews. They don’t dig for truth; they skim the media for anything that makes them feel better about themselves. To many of them, knowledge is not a useful tool but a cunning barrier elites have created to keep power from the average man and woman. The same is true for experience, skills, and know-how. These things require time and work and study and often challenge our systems of belief. Truth is hard; shallowness is easy.
(Emphasis added.)

Read them both. (Yes, I know, another twofer. You can handle it.)

Little People In Uniforms

I'm borrowing Digby's title with a little modification: her post deals with ICE agents, who are predominantly men, but it describes a pattern I've seen in TSA agents, who are often women (or for that matter "security" personnel in general). She starts off with a quote from this article at NYT, but I think the article's opening is illustrative:

In Virginia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents waited outside a church shelter where undocumented immigrants had gone to stay warm. In Texas and in Colorado, agents went into courthouses, looking for foreigners who had arrived for hearings on other matters.

At Kennedy International Airport in New York, passengers arriving after a five-hour flight from San Francisco were asked to show their documents before they were allowed to get off the plane.

The Trump administration’s far-reaching plan to arrest and deport vast numbers of undocumented immigrants has been introduced in dramatic fashion over the past month. And much of that task has fallen to thousands of ICE officers who are newly emboldened, newly empowered and already getting to work.

Gone are the Obama-era rules that required them to focus only on serious criminals. In Southern California, in one of the first major roundups during the Trump administration, officers detained 161 people with a wide range of felony and misdemeanor convictions, and 10 who had no criminal history at all.

The gloves are off, and it ain't pretty. The episode of the San Francisco-New York Delta flight has gotten a lot of play, and it should. ICE's excuse was that they were looking for someone who was to be deported, who turned out not to be on the plane. As one commentator noted, they could have looked at the passenger manifest.

I'd love it if one of the churches whose shelter had been raided filed a suit claiming a violation of religious freedom -- show some of these "Christians" what it's about.

Digby focuses on the attitude shift among ICE and Border Patrol agents after Trump's executive orders on immigrants were issued:

Interviews with 17 agents and officials across the country, including in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Washington and California, demonstrated how quickly a new atmosphere in the agency had taken hold. Since they are forbidden to talk to the press, they requested anonymity out of concern for losing their jobs.

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said on Tuesday that the president wanted to “take the shackles off” of agents, an expression the officers themselves used time and again in interviews to describe their newfound freedom.

“Morale amongst our agents and officers has increased exponentially since the signing of the orders,” the unions representing ICE and Border Patrol agents said in a joint statement after President Trump issued the executive orders on immigration late last month.

Two memos released this past week by the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of ICE and the Border Patrol, provided more details about how it would carry out its plan, which includes Mr. Trump’s signature campaign pledge — a wall along the entire southern border — as well as speedier deportations and greater reliance on local police officers.

But for those with ICE badges, perhaps the biggest change was the erasing of the Obama administration’s hierarchy of priorities, which forced agents to concentrate on deporting gang members and other violent and serious criminals, and mostly leave everyone else alone.

Quite honestly, I favor the Obama administration's priorities on this. (And a side note for those who are worried about jobs: undocumented immigrants are not taking jobs away from Americans; jobs are being shipped overseas by the "job creators," who are creating thousands of jobs in China, Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines -- and Ethiopia, which is where Ivana Trump's line of shoes in now manufactured, because labor costs are cheaper. . . .)

And if we could count on ICE and Border Patrol agents to use some judgment in the field, I wouldn't be so concerned: they are hedged in by rules and regs because they do things like this:

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials earlier this month at a Florida airport, according to a family friend.

Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini.

Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn't as lucky.

Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"

As Digby points out:

I don't know how stupid you have to be to not know that or realize that if you just let his mother, the former wife of the most famous American Muslim in the world go through, that means he is the son of the most famous American Muslim in the world, but apparently it's not so stupid that you can't be given a uniform and told to guard our borders.

Fasten your seat belts: it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Coda: You don't have to be a person of color or even have a "foreign-sounding" name.

A 70-year-old children’s book author claims she was held for over two hours and insulted as she attempted to visit the U.S. from Australia earlier this month.

According to The Guardian, author Mem Fox says she has visited the U.S. over 100 times before but has never received the treatment she was subjected to when she flew into Los Angeles International Airport en route to a conference in Milwaukee.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox explained, saying she was held in a room and questioned before a group of people at the airport

Making America great again.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's Not Just Prisons

Arizona is privatizing the death penalty:

Via Balloon Juice.

"Paid Protesters"

That's the new Republican designation for anyone who demonstrates against The Hairpiece or his minions in Congress. I'm sure you've seen stories like this one:

On Thursday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer refused to allow Rep. Marsha Blackburn to allege her town hall was filled with outsiders without offering up proof to that effect and said, "How do you know only a third of the people that were inside actually were from your district?"

Since Republican town halls have been besieged with angry constituents, conservatives have been claiming they are all paid protesters.

Nobody is believing that nonsense except Trump's most loyal supporters. You know, the ones that wouldn't care if he murdered someone in the street just to make a point.

What's equally ridiculous about Blackburn's claim is that she sent out invitations to her town hall and then checked IDs to make sure they weren't undocumented workers outside agitators.

The thing that amazed me was that Blitzer actually challenged her.

Even Tony Perkins is in on the act: "May God open the eyes of the American people to see organized rabble-rousers for what they are: paid progressive operatives. . . ." Blah, blah, blah. And somehow that segues into repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. Perkins is starting to seem a little stressed.

This is where it starts to get scary:

The NRA’s top gun revealed a paranoid vision of the world in a Friday speech that painted Democratic protesters as well-paid criminals bent on terrorizing the country.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre unloaded on “the left,” saying its demonstrators are paid $1,500 a week to wreak havoc.

“They’re angry. They’re militant and they’re willing to engage in criminal violence to get what they want,” LaPierre said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Many of these people literally hate everything America stands for.”

The irony in that last statement is over the top: we -- the Left -- are not the ones who are hell-bent on dismantling the country and selling it to the highest bidder.

This is the key:

“With all the threats facing America today, your right to protect yourself and your family may be more relevant and urgently needed than ever before,” he said.

“We will not be intimidated.”

That sounds like a call to violence to me -- you know some asshole with more guns than brains is going to take that as license to shoot up the next protest.

Coda: I think this has it right:

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)  

Via Balloon Juice.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Don't Drink the Water, and Don't Breathe the Air"

That's from an old Tom Lehrer song, from the days before we began to clean up our act environmentally. It looks like we may soon be returning to those days:

We've already seen several indications that EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, will be stripped of its mission — protecting the environment, including the climatic environment — and turned into a profit protection agency instead. At best, as I noted here, EPA would be reduced to a kind of janitor for the fossil fuel giants, "sweeping up after the energy industry's mess-making" as the toxic wastes, perhaps exponentially, increase.

We certainly know that Trump's new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has sued the agency many times to prevent it from doing its legally mandated job.

I remember being in Hollywood many years ago, looking down into the Valley from the hills. You couldn't actually see a lot of LA proper because of the smog -- some places, just the top of a palm tree sticking up above the haze.

Pruitt was obviously picked to fit in with the agenda. From the heat of Trump's EPA transition team, Myron Ebell:

“My own personal view is that the EPA would be better served if it were a much leaner organization that had substantial cuts,” he said in an interview. Ebell is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a small-government think tank where he pushes the notion of “global warming alarmism” and against the science that says it’s a crisis. He acknowledges cutting 10,000 staffers might not be realistic, yet he sees that as an “aspirational goal. … You’re not going to get Congress to make significant cuts unless you ask for significant cuts.”

Sociopaths, one and all. Lead in your drinking water improves the flavor, right?

New Zealand starts to sound better and better.

"Papers, Please"

We've seen this sort of thing before:

Passengers of a domestic Delta flight from San Francisco to New York were told to show their identity documents to uniformed agents of the Customs and Border Protection agency upon their arrival at John F. Kennedy airport on Wednesday evening.

CBP officers are border agents, whose statutory authority is generally limited to international arrivals.

CBP agents inspected passenger identifications on the jetbridge by the door of the aircraft. A CBP spokesman insisted to Rolling Stone that this action is "nothing new" and that there is "no new policy." But the unusual – and legally questionable – search of domestic travelers comes days after the Department of Homeland Security outlined its plans to implement President Trump's sweeping executive order targeting millions of "removable aliens" for deportation.

CBP has no legal authority to demand that passengers on domestic flights show identification.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer's border search authority is derived from federal statutes and regulations, including 19 C.F.R. 162.6, which states that, "All persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the Customs territory of the United States from places outside thereof are liable to inspection by a CBP officer." Unless exempt by diplomatic status, all persons entering the United States, including U.S. citizens, are subject to examination and search by CBP officers.

Last I heard, both San Francisco and New York are American cities (no matter what the Republican base thinks).

This is fairly chilling:

Rolling Stone asked CBP to clarify whether the CBP document search was truly a "request" – or instead a legally binding demand by the agents. The spokesman again could not clarify CBP's legal authority, warning only, "It is always best to cooperate with law enforcement, so as to expedite your exiting the airport in a timely manner."
(Emphasis added.)

Take that in tandem with this story, and you can see where we are headed: now that they're in charge, the GOP is implementing everything they accused Obama of doing.

Both stories via Crooks and Liars.

President Bannon Lays Out His Agenda

C'mon -- we all know who's running the White House. This report on Bannon's speech at CPAC is, for some, an eye-opener, I'm sure:

Steve Bannon — President Trump’s chief White House advisor — just made a very revealing statement while addressing right-wing activists.

The overall theme of Bannon’s speech was “deconstruction of the administrative state,” when taking into account the policies he is pursuing. He also told the audience that Trump’s cabinet appointees “were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”

Bannon’s remarks help give context to President Trump appointing ideological enemies of certain federal agencies to then lead those same agencies. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was recently confirmed as EPA administrator despite suing the EPA 14 times over environmental regulations, usually on behalf of oil companies. On his own LinkedIn, Pruitt describes himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”

The statement also explains why Trump appointed former Goldman Sachs executives Steve Mnuchin to head the U.S. Treasury and Jay Clayton to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mnuchin is an avowed opponent of financial regulations, and pledged to repeal them as Treasury chief. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has called for the defunding of public housing, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who now heads the Department of Energy, couldn’t even remember its name while calling it for it to be abolished during a presidential debate.

Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education without having any experience in public schools, and stating that she wanted to force public schools to teach Christian dogma. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is purging the State Department of longtime staff, including senior-level officials, suggesting American foreign policy may soon take a “deconstruction” approach.

This should really come as no surprise -- Bannon has described himself as a avowed Leninist who wants to do away with the government, and he has the perfect puppet in Trump, who will go along with it as long as he's free to fill his pockets and watch TV. And being, as they are, sociopaths with no concern for anyone but themselves, they don't care about the consequences for the rest of us.

Via commenter David L. Caster at Joe.My.God., in the comment thread on a story about AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessons III reversing DOJ's move toward eliminating private prisons, which itself is worth a read.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Bright Spot

Finally, an assault weapons ban is upheld:

Maryland's ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent.

In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the guns banned under Maryland's law aren't protected by the Second Amendment.

"Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war," Judge Robert King wrote for the court, adding that the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded such coverage.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who led the push for the law in 2013 as a state senator, said it's "unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in Newtown and in other communities across the country, would be protected by the Second Amendment."

"It's a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it's en-banc and for the strength of its decision," Frosh said, noting that all of the court's judges participated.

The NRA is -- how shall I put it? -- up in arms. And I'm sure there will be an appeal, but the court in this case made a good distinction, although I wonder how it will stand up against a literal reading of the Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I can see where someone could make the argument that the Second Amendment does, in fact, include weapons of war by the reference to a "militia" -- when the Consitution was adopted, the U.S. had no standing army.

Of course, on the flip side of that, I'd like to see an instance in which someone actually used an assault weapon in defense of home and family.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Culture Break: Dead Can Dance: The Lotus Eaters

I was introduced to Dead Can Dance years ago by a friend whose taste in music was as eclectic as my own, although he was more plugged in to the club scene than I was. I think this one's just about my favorite DCD number. From fairly late, and if you're trying to make out the words, give up -- there aren't any. Lisa Gerrard got into just vocalizing, without any actual lyrics.

I ran into this one on Wake, their "best of" album. And of course, I reviewed it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sweden? Seriously?

Our president has once again made a fool of himself in front of an international audience.

I think I'll have a T-shirt printed up: Who Is Ferris Renfrow?

(That's an in joke and has nothing to do with the Cheeto-in-Chief.)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's New at Green Man Review

Yep, it's Sunday again, and there's the usual eclectic mix at Green Man Review. Check it out.

The Flip Side

People fleeing the U.S. and seeking asylum in Canada.

Eight asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.

As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.

One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.

The children looked back from where they had come as the U.S. officer held the first man, saying his papers needed to be verified.

The RCMP helped them across:

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers assist a child from a family that claimed to be from Sudan as they walk across the U.S.-Canada border into Hemmingford, Canada, from Champlain in New York. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Do I really need to comment on this? Welcome to Trump's America.

Tom Sullivan has more at Hullabaloo.

The "News Conference": A Summary

Credit:  Clay Jones

Via Crooks and Liars. More cartoons at the link.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Science/Antidote: Monkeys

I should have thought of this myself, since I've actually seen the little critters in person, but this comes via Digby. This is a brief view of a new Francois' langur, born February 7 at Lincoln Park Zoo:

From the Zoo's website:

A bright orange, endangered Francois’ langur was born February 6 at the Helen Brach Primate House. The infant is the seventh successful offspring for the zoo’s breeding pair, female Pumpkin and male Cartman. The langur infant joins sisters Kieu and Orla, brothers Vinh and Pierre, and adult female Chi. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Francois’ Langur Species Survival Plan ® (SSP), which cooperatively manages the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited-zoo population.The sex and measurements of the infant are yet to be determined as the newborn is clinging tight to mom.

Francois’ langurs are endangered in the wild due to habitat degradation and hunting. They’re native to the southern Guangxi province of China, northern Vietnam and west-central Laos. Adults display black body coloration with a white marking from ear to ear and a black crest atop the head. Infants are born with a bright orange hue, which scientists believe encourages alloparenting, or “aunting” behavior, among females in the group. Infants’ fur turns black within the first three to six months of life.

And that's not the only newbie in the Primate House -- this one's almost two months old:

The newest member of the multigenerational black-and-white colobus monkey troop can now be seen clinging tightly to mom in Helen Brach Primate House! The infant was born on December 25 and will display white coloration until around 3–4 months of age. Sex and measurements are yet to be determined as the attentive mother and baby continue to bond.

If you visit Helen Brach Primate House to see the newborn black-and-white colobus monkey, you may observe the infant's aunt and and older sister lending mother Kutaka a hand. This is a species-typical behavior called alloparenting, or “aunting behavior.” Though the infant is clinging tightly to mom in the above photo, it's evident that the other members of the troop are acclimating well to the new arrival.

Lincoln Park Zoo has been very successful in breeding endangered species -- in fact, almost every time you turn around, there's a new baby something. It will be interesting to see how many new Japanese macaques we have this spring -- last year there were three.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh, This Is Reassuring

From Joe.My.God.:
Via Reuters:
The Trump administration is considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up non-citizens who are in the country illegally, the Associated Press said in a tweet on Friday without citing a source.
UPDATE: From the Associated Press.
The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

I wonder who's next?

One of Those Things

that just pop into my head when I allow my mind to wander:

Are there any flightless birds on northern continents?

It seems like very major southern landmass has (or had) flightless birds: ostriches in Africa, rheas in South America, cassowaries in Australia and New Guinea, moas (extinct) and emus in New Zealand, elephant birds (extinct) in Madagascar.

And checking the list at Wikipedia, it seems there are a few species of smaller flightless birds on some Caribbean islands (not to mention the Guam rail, and I'm sure there are others in the Pacific islands), but nothing on the order of the larger ones north of the equator.

I wonder why.

Train Wreck? Melt-Down?

Reading the news this morning, and I just can't -- input overload.

Gods, what a mess!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Today in Gun Control

Via Joe.My.God., this:

Congress on Wednesday sent President Donald Trump legislation blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

On a vote of 57-43, the Senate backed the resolution, just one of several early steps by the Republican-led Congress to undo regulations implemented by former President Barack Obama. The House had passed the measure earlier this year. The White House has signaled Trump will sign the legislation.

The Obama rule would have prevented an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm. It was crafted as part of Obama's efforts to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the 2012 massacre of 20 young students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

States only get two senators; the NRA gets 57.

I'm at a loss for even guessing at a motivation for something like this. Out of control Obama-hatred? Fear of "real 'Murican" constituents? Stupidity?

On the gun rule, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, spearheaded the repeal effort, saying the regulation unfairly stigmatizes the disabled and infringes on their constitutional right to bear arms. He said that the mental disorders covered through the regulation are filled with "vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard" prohibiting someone from buying or owning a gun.

Grassley cited eating and sleep disorders as examples of illnesses that could allow a beneficiary to be reported to the background check system if they also have a third party to manage their benefits.

Somehow, I can't really believe that Grassley is concerned with the constitutional rights of the mentally disabled.

Commenter juanjo54 at the Joe.My.God. post had the perfect response:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Culture Break: Terry Riley: Sun Rings, Part I

Performed by Kronos Quartet, which has a long history with Riley and his music.

It Just Gets Worse

Here's a summary-to-date of the Trump/Russia connection(s) from The Guardian:

The Russian influence scandal engulfing the White House deepened dramatically on Tuesday night with reports that some of Donald Trump’s campaign aides had frequent contact with Russian intelligence officials over the course of last year.

A report in the New York Times came nearly 24 hours after the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington and misleading statements about them to the press and vice-president Mike Pence.

The New York Times report cites four current and former US intelligence officials who are unnamed and who conceded they had “so far” seen no evidence in the intercepted phone communications that Trump campaign officials had cooperated with Russian intelligence in Moscow’s efforts to skew the election in Trump’s favour. The officials do not explain what, in that case, the contacts were about.

A CNN report said “high-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence”.

Add in that Trump knew about Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador for quite some time before the story went public. My own guess -- and I'm not alone in this -- is that Flynn's resignation is the direct result of the story breaking.

From Dan Rather, who knows a little bit about this sort of thing:

Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now. It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now. On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour. And we may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.

Gods, what a mess.

Addendum: This is the sort of thing that needs to be pinned very firmly to the Republicans, especially considering that they're MIA on it. Witness a couple of reactions:

And Ryan is the GOP's great policy wonk and knight in shining armor?

That speaks for itself.

I'm sure Chaffetz is deciding whether to investigate Beghazi or E-mails. Again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today in Disgusting People

Any Christian supremacist would qualify, but Richard Land is particularly odious. His latest:

The Southern Evangelical Seminary’s Richard Land, who spent the last eight years relentlessly attacking the Obama administration and vowing to defy the president, is now voicing his deep concerns about those who dare to oppose President Trump’s agenda.

While appearing on TheDove TV’s “Focus Today” program yesterday, Land said that opposition to Trump amounts to “insurrection” and that the Trump administration is leading a “counter-revolution” aimed at defeating a “second American revolution” that he claims was fomented by the likes of former-President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“What does concern me is that there is a new poll out showing that 35 percent of Americans are pure resistance; they are not going to accept Donald Trump whatever he does, they have made up their mind that he is not a legitimate president and they are going to resist him at all costs,” Land said. “Now, there is a name for that, it’s called insurrection.”

OK -- the hypocrisy's a given -- people like Land and his ilk know that their audience has the attention span of a gnat, so they figure they can get away with it.

The part about "making this country ungovernable": excuse me, wasn't that Steven Bannon? An avowed Leninist who wants to destroy the whole government?

I'd love to know what this "second American revolution" is; considering how the first one turned out, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Sorry, but the man's an ass, and a pompous one at that.

Via Joe.My.God., who has more on Land.

Here It Comes (Updated)

If you had any doubts as to the authoritarianism in the Trump administration, watch this video of Stephen Miller's statements on presidential authority. (Can't embed; follow the link.)

From Face the Nation, here's a sample of what I'm talking about:

It's not just the words; look at his face. Yipes.

From Think Progress, via Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, the meat:

“I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” Miller told John Dickerson of CBS News, as first noted by Will Saletan of Slate. “The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
(Emphasis added.)

Update: For more on Miller, here's a profile at Mother Jones.

One Down

I hadn't expected it so fast, but Russian lapdog Michael Flynn is out:

Embattled White House national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday night, an abrupt end to a brief tenure.

His departure came just after reports surfaced that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration last month that Flynn misled administration officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.

"I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology," Flynn wrote, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN.

"I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way," he wrote. "I know with the strong leadership of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the superb team they are assembling, this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in US history."

OK -- given the wording of the last sentence, I'm almost convinced that Trump wrote Flynn's resignation.

This sort of jumped out at me:

The White House concluded at the very least, Flynn didn't mean to mislead the vice president, but may have because he couldn't remember what he said to the Russians.

"Not remembering is not a quality we can have for the national security adviser," the source said.

What about for the president?

And for the cherry on top, guess who's one of the contenders to replace Flynn. David Petraeus. Yes, that David Petraeus.

Perfect successor to Flynn, don't you think?

And, as a special bonus, here's serial liar Kellyanne Conway flopping around trying to cover for The Hairpiece. (For some reason, it doesn't want to let me copy the embed code.)

It gets even better:

Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia.

The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.

Uh, guys? Maybe you're not the ones who should be defending Flynn right now.

All via Joe.My.God.

Monday, February 13, 2017


OK -- this is sweet and funny:

A young man plans to relax in the park next to his office, but a zealous street performer has plans of his own.

"America First!": National Security Edition

We all know, because we've been told endlessly over the pas couple of generations, that the Republicans are the party of national security, while the Democrats are too willing to give away the store. After all, that was the shitgibbon's major talking point throughout his campaign to add the White House to his various resort properties.

Well, maybe not so much. From Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice, a good summary/analysis of the Michael Flynn/Russian Ambassador phone conversations before the election. She starts off with this clip from Rachel Maddow -- I recommend that you watch it all the way through:

Trump and the Republicans (which sounds like a really bad garage band) are downplaying this, needless to say, with Trump finally assuring us that "he'll look into it." There -- doesn't that make you feel better? Yeah -- me, too.

The Democrats, for a change, are all over it:

“The President and his National Security Advisor have given the Russians the impression that whatever they do, they are not to worry, because the Trump White House will not stand against their aggression,” Pelosi said in a statement on Saturday.

“General Flynn should be suspended and have his intelligence clearance revoked until the facts are known about his secret contacts with the Russians,” she said.

Pelosi also called on the FBI to further investigation Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin, and urged Congress to launch an “outside commission” to examine the ties.

“President Trump’s kowtowing to Vladimir Putin is endangering our national security and emboldening a dangerous tyrant,” Pelosi said. “What do the Russians have on President Trump that he would flirt with lifting sanctions and weakening NATO?”


“This action would be deeply troubling under any circumstances, but considering Russia’s effort to tip the election toward President Trump, the General’s actions are disqualifying,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“If he did so, and then he and other Administration officials misled the American people, his conduct would be all the more pernicious, and he should no longer serve in this Administration or any other,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said.

That's the kind of thing that leads to reactions like this:

U.S. intelligence operatives are withholding sensitive information from the White House for the first time in history because they believe that Russia will find out anything they tell Pres. Donald Trump and his aides. . . .

“Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration — not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump — that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust,” wrote former analyst for the National Security Agency Jack R. Schindler.

Not only has Trump gone out of his way to discredit the nation’s spy agencies, his main national security guru, Gen. Mike Flynn either appears to by lying about his conversations with the Russian government about U.S. sanctions or can’t remember breaking the law.

How bad is this? When your own spies don't trust you enough to pass along information that you're supposed to have, I'd say you've got a serious problem.

Does anyone doubt at this point whose puppet is in the White House?

Image du Jour

From Alt National Park Service, via Balloon Juice:

Image may contain: one or more people

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday at Green Man Review

Lots of good stuff today -- books, including a couple of science-fiction classics, music, film, comics, food.

Dig in.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For

I've heard and read a fair amount of sentiment along the lines of "We have to get rid of Trump; Pence couldn't be as bad." Well. . . . Here's the tip of the iceberg:

Vice President Mike Pence's fellow Republicans took a number of steps Thursday to undo his policies, just weeks after the former governor left Indiana for the White House.

His handpicked successor and former lieutenant governor, Gov. Eric Holcomb, began the day with a news conference where he announced that he was canceling contract negotiations to lease state-owned cellphone towers to an Ohio company. The Pence administration had struck a tentative deal with the company and promised it would cover the cost of more than $50 million in bicentennial construction projects he initiated.

Privatize everything!

Read the whole article, just to get a good idea of what real prick our vice president is. Keep in mind, these are Republicans undoing his damage -- or trying to. I don't think I want him in the White House -- Trump, at least, is ineffectual.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Today in Disgusting People: Comeuppance

I'm sure I've had things to say about Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who, among other things, is chairman of the House Witch-Hunt Committee.

Now that Donald Trump is, theoretically, president, it seems that there's nothing for the committee to do:

"But I'm not going to go on this fishing expedition that they want me to, that the Democrats want me to."

I hardly need to point out the howling hypocrisy.

And Rep. Elijah Cummings has asked Chaffetz to investigate Kellyanne Conway's free commercial for Ivanka Trump's fashion line (and considering Conway's own fashion sense, uh -- well, would you?), but there's no word yet on whether that constitutes a fishing expedition. (But it's all good -- Conway's been "counseled" on that subject.)

Apparently, ten investigations of Benghazi!!1!, and how many of E-Mails!!1!?, not to mention Planned Parenthood, that nefarious provider of health services for poor women, are not exactly what constituents sent him to Congress for.

He held a town hall. It didn't go well.

Just maybe here's one rodent who's about to learn that with power comes responsibility.


Signs of the Times

White Castle is taking reservations for Valentine's Day.


And Domino's Pizza now has a wedding registry.


Today's Must-Read: The Failure of Economics

Economics has become omnipresent in contemporary society -- we calculate everything in terms of percentage of GDP and don't quite believe in anything that doesn't have a number attached. However, three young economists have called for major revamping of the discipline itself.

Here's a review of their book, The Econocracy -- it's The Guardian, so it is a long, in-depth, and thorough discussion:

In the autumn of 2011, as the world’s financial system lurched from crash to crisis, the authors of this book began, as undergraduates, to study economics. While their lectures took place at the University of Manchester the eurozone was in flames. The students’ first term would last longer than the Greek government. Banks across the west were still on life support. And David Cameron was imposing on Britons year on year of swingeing spending cuts.

Yet the bushfires those teenagers saw raging each night on the news got barely a mention in the seminars they sat through, they say: the biggest economic catastrophe of our times “wasn’t mentioned in our lectures and what we were learning didn’t seem to have any relevance to understanding it”, they write in The Econocracy. “We were memorising and regurgitating abstract economic models for multiple-choice exams.”

Take your time with this one -- it's worth it.

Via Nick's Place.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

They Just Don't Get It, Redux

Speaking to Fox & Friends panelists from the White House briefing room, this morning Propaganda Minister Kellyanne Conway urged American’s to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” She then declared that she would personally be buying Ivanka products.

There's a small problem with that approach:

Norm Eisen, former White House ethics and transparency czar, asserted on Thursday that Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway had broken federal regulations by promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand on the air. . . .

Eisen accused Conway of breaking §2635.702, which forbids “use of public office for private gain.”

“By doing this ad — I have never seen anything like it — it’s a violation of the rules, pure and simple,” Eisen said. “I imagine that you are going to see complaints flowing in. The responsibility to oversee this in the first instance is with the White House counsel, Don McGahn. He’s going to need to look at the rules, look at the precedents and decide what range of penalties might apply.”

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for McGahn to lower the boom.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

What McConnell Didn't Want the Senate to Hear

You may have read or heard (depending on how you get your news) about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulling the plug on Elizabeth Warren during the Democrats' filibuster of debate on the nomination of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as attorney general. She was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King opposing Sessions' nomination to the federal bench in 1986. McConnell, for whom Senate rules apply when he wants them to, ruled her out of order for saying bad things about another senator.

Well, here's the letter:

Via RawStory.

They Just Don't Get It

From a filing by Melania Trump in her libel suit against the Daily Mail as reported by WaPo:

An attorney for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that an article falsely alleging that she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.”

The suit — filed Monday in New York Supreme Court, a state trial court, in Manhattan — against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose “significant value” as well as “major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.” The suit said the article had damaged her “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand.”

“These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Trump’s behalf by California attorney Charles Harder.

To the Trumps, occupying the White House is a business opportunity.

They don't see anything wrong with that.


Sixteen bison have been relocated to a remote part of Banff National Park in southern Alberta:

It seems to have gone smoothly, but I wonder why they did it in the winter, instead of summer when there would be more forage, etc.

(Via Towleroad)

Aha! Google is your friend. From Parks Canada:

For 16 months, the bison will remain in an enclosed pasture in the Panther Valley, closely monitored by Parks Canada. In approximately June 2018, the herd will be released to explore the full ~1200km2 reintroduction zone in the remote eastern slopes of Banff where they will interact with other native species, forage for food and fulfill their missing role in the ecosystem.

So this is stage one, and when they are fully released, it will be summer.

(I've been to Banff, briefly: it's the flip side of Glacier National Park in Montana, and right at the edge of the prairie. Alberta east of the Rockies is like Kansas, at least in the summer, but more so: miles and miles of miles, mostly filled with wheat.)

Image du Jour

First, Jill Stein proves once again that she's an idiot, responding to the confirmation of anti-education god-botherer Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education (which, you may have noticed, was on a tie vote, two Republicans joining all 48 Democrats, broken by the very god-fearing Mike Pence):


The response at large was not positive, but this, from commenter Grumpy Old Man at the post, was worth the trip:

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Today's Play List

For some reason, I've stacked up (figuratively speaking) all of my Depeche Mode albums for this morning's play list. Except for Depeche Mode 101, which I remember being the worst live album ever (in terms of sound quality).

I have no idea why.

From "Not Reported" to "Underreported" to ?

I daresay you've read about The Hairpiece's latest wild fantasy -- that are just oodles of terror attacks around the world that the press hasn't reported on because reasons. Washington Post, via Joe.My.God.:

Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks.

“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,” he said to the assembled military leaders. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

Of course, that got -- mmm, moderated:

In a press availability on Air Force One, Spicer tried to soften Trump’s comment. Terror attacks had been “under reported,” not “unreported.” He continued, according to the pool report:

“He felt members of the media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered. Protests will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage. He’s doing what he can to protect this nation and protect our people. And that’s why I think sometimes the polls don’t reflect what you see on the media. You see a wide degree of support for the president’s policies to protect this country, to create jobs, to grow the economy. And yet a lot of those stories and success that he’s had – in a mere two and a half weeks in office – aren’t exactly covered to the degree to which they should be.”

And who gets to decide the degree to which they should be covered? Don't tell me -- let me guess!

As it happens, the White House has a list. A long list -- a yuuge list of terrorist attacks that were "not reported/underreported" by the media for probably nefarious reasons. And, funny thing about that list:

There’s a concept in interactions with the press called “working the refs.” The idea is that it’s worth paying attention to trying to shape the coverage you receive before you receive it by offering criticisms that hopefully push the media where you want. Trump’s point about the media not reporting on terror attacks wasn’t necessarily that he thought the media was burying stories — though it very well may have been. Spicer, at least, was smart enough to understand that this was an opportunity to get the media to run with a lengthy list of terror attacks that, he hoped, would reinforce Trump’s broader message that terror attacks were a constant threat that demanded a strong response. Spicer, in other words, hoped to work the refs. . . .

The list was rushed — “attacker” is misspelled repeatedly and there is incorrect information, such as the statement that multiple people were involved in the recent attack at Ohio State University. This wasn’t something that the White House was sitting on, waiting to raise as a legitimate critique of how the media approached an issue central to Trump’s presidency. It was, instead, an attempt to make lemonade.

(I have to admit to a certain amount of sympathy for Spicer: his job is to make an out of control idiot look good. That's gotta be stressful.)

As for the list itself:

The White House released on Monday a list of 78 terrorist attacks that the Trump administration claim were not sufficiently covered by the nation's press. The list, however, included some mass killings that were covered well enough to make their locales into symbols of anger and grief: Orlando and San Bernardino, Nice and Paris in France, and Brussels in Belgium.

Orlando didn't receive enough coverage? Excuse me?

And the list does not include the mass shooting at at African American church by Dylan Roof, or the Ottawa mosque shooting by Alexandre Bissonnette (a big fan of Donald Trump, as it happens).

Lemonade, indeed.

Monday, February 06, 2017

In Case You Had Any Doubts



Any questions?

(Via commenter Picky Pecker at Joe.My.God.)

Oh. My. God.

Just read this:

This is what's running the country right now.

Three Ads

All aired during the Super Bowl. All are right up in Trump's face.

First, from Airbnb:

Airbnb is also offering free housing to those affected by Trump's Muslim travel ban.

And from Coke -- following a theme they've used for years:

And last but not least, the Anheuser-Busch ad, which has gained some notoriety: it's a brief take on another immigrant:

Do you supposed Trump has any idea how much he is despised?

Via The New Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Under the Radar

While the country is focused on the serial outrages emanating from the White House, Congress is getting ready to screw us but good:

Trump on the campaign trail also called for spending $1 trillion on infrastructure, part of his pledges to stimulate job creation in the Rust Belt. Democrats have already put forward an infrastructure proposal that they hope will bring Trump to the table.

Republicans have so far proven wary of adding to the national debt in an infrastructure plan, and Ryan hinted Thursday that he would want to take a different path than Democrats.

“Remember, this isn’t a trillion dollars of taxpayer spending. This is, how do we leverage private sector dollars so we can leverage more private sector spending on infrastructure like pipelines and things like that? FAA reform, we have to overhaul the entire air traffic control system. That’s a huge infrastructure piece with airports. That’s all part of this,” he said.

Get that last paragraph. That's Ryan-speak for "we're going to sell off the infrastructure to the highest bidder (read "biggest contributors"), including the airports and air traffic control."

Doesn't that sound peachy? Like doing away with Net Neutrality so that the biggest telecoms can divvy up the bandwidth among themselves, except it will be the airlines deciding which of them gets access to the best routes. And every highway will be a toll road.

Via Mock Paper Scissors.

It's Sunday

And you know what that means. No, not the Super Bowl. Green Man Review. Lots of good stuff, including a new review of a new book by Steven Brust and Skyler White.

Go for it.

The Set-Up

This, from AP via Talking Points Memo:

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump's friendlier tone on Russia.

Adds Josh Marshall:

I don't patrol the Poland/Belarus border myself. But I have not heard and I don't think anyone has heard that such is happening. It is however the kind of thing you would expect to hear from Russian propaganda sources, a hostile Poland menacing its neighbors to the east.

What better way to destabilize the West than to invent agression against Russia by a NATO member? And that is, after all, one of Putin's chief goals in putting Trump in the White House.

This article is also worth a read, just for a take on how chaotic and unformed the administration's foreign policy is.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Images du Jour

Not our usual art space, but a couple of things I found striking.

First, in commemoration of the infamous "Bowling Green Massacre" (via Crooks and Liars):

Credit: @sharronsmiley

Second, from Der Spiegel:

Friday, February 03, 2017

Today's Must-Read: The Trump White House

From Digby


It ain't pretty, but it's pretty much in character:

We have never seen anything like this. And the wingnuts and ring kissers can pretend this is part of some master plan or present it as a genius form of organization but it is not. It is incompetence and paranoia, which is probably even more dangerous. Politico reports:

A feeling of distrust has taken hold in the West Wing of Donald Trump's White House and beyond, as his aides view each other and officials across the federal government and on Capitol Hill with suspicion.

The result has been a stream of leaks flowing from the White House and federal agencies, and an attempt to lock down information and communication channels that could have serious consequences across the government and at the Capitol, where Trump tries to implement and advance his agenda.

In the White House itself, one top aide tried to take the office slated for another aide, Steve Bannon is looking to hire his own PR guru, and the details of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders, typically closely held, are suddenly out in the open.

Read the whole thing. If you've ever studied the Renaissance in Italy, I have a name for you: Borgia.

Word for the Day (Update)


From the recipient of a Lifetime Tony Perkins Award:

Kellyanne Conway is calling Democrats opposed to President Donald Trump's unqualified and extremist cabinet picks "hysterical" and "crybabies."

The White House advisor hypocritically told Fox News Thursday morning "we're seeing" the Democratic Party "unravel in front of our eyes." She went on to complain Democrats are opposing Trump's Supreme Court nominee and cabinet picks.

"This obstinance and obstruction is the modern Democratic Party. I think it's going to cost them...They're hysterical about everything."

"Everything makes them cry and scream," Conway claimed, falsely.

Just think back over the past eight years and consider the Republican reaction to President Obama. (Remember, they tried for two terms to make him a one-term president.)

For that matter, consider the thin-skinned four-year-old in the White House -- Conway's boss.

Update: And as a reminder of why Conway is the recipient of the lifetime award, this:

Interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball programme on Thursday evening, Conway compared the executive order issued by Trump in his first week in the White House to what she described as a six-month ban imposed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

This claim has been debunked by commentators who have pointed out that the 2011 action was a pause on the processing of refugees from Iraq after two Iraqi nationals were arrested over a failed attempt to send money and weapons to al-Qaida in Iraq.

Conway told Matthews: “I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalised and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.

“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

It didn’t get covered, many are now pointing out, because there was no such massacre.

Raw Story has some of
the online reactions to the "Bowling Green Massacre."

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wait and See

The latest leak from Trumpistan has got the gay news sites up in arms:

A leaked copy of a draft executive order titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” obtained by The Investigative Fund and The Nation, reveals sweeping plans by the Trump administration to legalize discrimination.

The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.

These leaks start to have a strategic smell to them, and I'm at the point where my first reaction is "What are they trying to divert attention from?"

Yeah, I know Trump said he's leaving Obama's LGBT protections in place, and we all know what that's worth.

I have enough to think about in real life right now that, until something actually happens, I'm not going to worry about it. If and when he signs such an order -- and I don't doubt that eventually he will, while talking loudly about something else -- I will happily join a class action lawsuit, because something like this is patently unconstitutional.

Diplomacy, Trump Style (Update)

Apparently Fearless Leader had a busy day on the phones. First, he threatened to invade Mexico:

President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop "bad hombres down there" unless the Mexican military does more to control them itself, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpt of the call did not make clear who exactly Trump considered "bad hombres," — drug cartels, immigrants, or both — or the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's response.

Be it noted that the Mexican government has issued a response to the story, saying it is "based on absolute falsehoods."

Then he accused the Prime Minister of Australia of sending us "the next Boston bomber":

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday refused to talk about a report that a weekend call with President Donald Trump came to a blistering head after Trump attacked a plan to resettle refugees in the U.S. as “the worst deal ever.”

The conversation between leaders of the two longtime allies quickly devolved into Trump accusing Turnbull of trying to send the “next Boston bombers” to America, according to a report published Wednesday night by The Washington Post. Trump, who told Turnbull he had spoken to other world leaders earlier Saturday, said the interaction was his “worst call by far” and hung up more than a half-hour early, the Post reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

They were discussing an agreement, concluded in November, between the two countries to resettle refugees who have been confined to one of Australia's offshore camps.

So of course, Cheeto-in-Chief tweeted about it:

"Illegal immigrants"? From Australia"? So now refugees, who go through an eighteen-month to two-year vetting process, are "illegal immigrants." One wonders if this is deliberate misrepresentation, or if he's just not intelligent enough to be able to discern the difference.

And now, through his equally deranged national security adviser, we've put Iran "on notice":

The Trump administration has said it was “officially putting Iran on notice” in reaction to an Iranian missile test and an attack on a Saudi warship by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen but gave no details about how Washington intended to respond.

The threat was made on Wednesday by the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in his first public statement since taking office.

Speaking in the White House briefing room, Flynn said a missile launch on Sunday and a Houthi attack on a Saudi frigate on Monday underlined Iran’s “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”

Flynn did not specify how the new administration would respond. Asked for clarification, the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said the president wanted to make sure the Iranians “understood we are not going to sit by and not act on their actions”.

At a White House briefing, senior administration officials repeatedly refused to rule out any options for a US response, including military intervention.

I'm reminded of the accounts of the beginning of World War I, which was sparked by a particular incident but might have been avoided except for bad communications, bumbling incompetence, and over-reliance on inflexible plans.

One can hardly wait for the next diplomatic initiative.

Update: And from Reuters, Trump's first military venture:

U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.