The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Good Tuesday, Widdershins! Today is a bellwether day because last night, Rachel Maddow finally stopped using the word “inexplicably” and used Occam’s Razor instead.

In her opening segment, Rachel was highlighting the fact that Drumpf has a very large number of weak, “acting” cabinet secretaries and vacant deputy positions that haven’t been filled. She then noted that this framework for governing concentrates power in the hands of the President. “There’s a particular type of government that works this way,” she said. “It starts with an ‘a.'”

Indeed! Welcome to the autocracy party, Rachel. It’s quite scary to admit what the end goal of Putin’s Puppet is; kudos for starting to wrap your head around it.

The autocratic end game, however, cannot be won merely by eviscerating critical government agencies like the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the EPA and so many others. What will really set the tone for declaring Trump King Forever is a determination that he is above the law. And from where I sit, he’s trying his best to make that determination happen. Let me count just a few ways:

  1. The tax returns. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, has demanded Drumpf’s tax returns. The Mango Moron has refused, which is illegal. The deadline for turning them over to the Ways and Means Committee is Wednesday, April 10. If this goes to court, will he get a favorable ruling?
  2. The family separation policy. One of the most Nazi-like policies this evil Administration has ever set in place, family separation was ruled illegal last year. But now, Drumpf is clearing house at DHS, firing Kirstjen Nielsen and others, and to try and find people who will impose the policy despite its illegality. He may have found at least one.

    Though he may not be installed immediately, the Trump administration is likely to find a way to make sure [Kevin] McAleenan will step in for Nielsen on an acting basis, even if it means firing Grady. NBC News reports that McAleenan “has not ruled out” family separation as an option, and that he would consider allowing parents to bring their children with them into long-term detention as an alternative.

    What happens if McAleenan does try to go ahead with family separation despite the judge’s orders? Who will tell him he can’t?

  3. The Fake National Emergency. When Der Drumpfenfuhrer declared a fake national emergency at the border and started appropriating funds for his ridiculous wall, the Democrats sued him.

    Trump declared a national emergency in February to shift federal funds toward construction of the border wall after Congress refused to provide him with the amount he requested.The initial standoff resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.

    The complaint was filed one day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House would sue the president to block Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the southern border.

    “The Congress has a solemn responsibility to defend its exclusive constitutional responsibilities, and protect our system of checks and balances,” Pelosi said of the lawsuit in a statement Friday. “The very integrity of our democratic institutions are at stake. We will not let the President trample over the Constitution.”

These are just three examples. Bottom line is, a Constitutional crisis could result from any of these. If the pResident decides to just brazen it out and declare he is above the law, will the Senate stand up to him? Or will they continue to demonstrate their moral decrepitude and lack of interest in our core democratic principles, and help him establish an autocracy in America?

I think we’d all better start stretching our leg muscles and ensuring we’ve got comfortable shoes. While I hope we won’t need to, we must prepare to march to prevent Orange Caligula from consolidating enough power to destroy our country for the foreseeable future. Our activism may be the only thing standing between us and the “a” word.

This is an open thread.

Have you all seen this video of Lady Gaga on Stephen Colbert’s show? It’s gone viral. For the words about the Kavanaugh confirmation, start around 3 minutes in.

A bell rang deep within me when Gaga said that trauma changes the brain; that the brain puts the pain in a box and shuts it, so we can survive. I realized that, since the day Drumpf stole the Presidency, I have been living with the pain of that day, and that box, while shut, has had some leaks.

Since November 8, 2016, I have lost some of my sparkle, my joie de vivre. My writing has become more direct, more bland, more generic. Satire is impossible; nothing is more absurd than the fantasy world the Republicans are trying to force down our throats. The plays I used to write don’t come out any more, as I have trouble finding humor in almost anything.

My brain functions more slowly now…I struggle to form sentences quickly and speak smoothly, as I used to. I lose focus at work, because my full heart isn’t in it. I am more prone to depression, to tears, to anxiety.

I’m a natural extrovert; yet, I’ve become more retiring, more reluctant to meet new people. I’m afraid any new person I meet may have voted for the Mango Moron, and I just don’t want people like that in my life. I don’t want to speak to them; I don’t want to sympathize with them; I don’t want to hear their excuses for voting for a racist, misogynist, authoritarian thug.

I have been changed, while the box strained and bulged and the pain and sorrow leaked through.

When the story about Dr. Ford broke, that box opened for me. All the psychic trauma of the past two years came rushing out, along with the memories of my own experiences with threatening men and sexual harassment. Online, I read countless, horrifying stories of women and men, recounting their own #MeToo moments.

Yet as terrible as this was to go through, something unexpected happened after Kavanaugh was confirmed.

I felt better. No, not just better: I felt my brain start to work again. The pall over my emotions lifted. I suddenly realized what was wrong, and that clarity gave me the strength to deal with it.

I was changed again.

Make no mistake, we are living in dreadful times. Drumpf now says he won’t fire Rosenstein. Why should he? Rosenstein helped rig the sham FBI investigation that Flake and Collins used as an excuse to vote for Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh is the guy Trump thinks will fix any consequences of the Mueller investigation for him and his children. More than that – he will help get all of Drumpf’s dreadful, un-American initiatives past court challenges that have, so far, held them up. The Muslim ban. The transgender ban in the military. Family separation. Babies in jail. Overturning Roe v. Wade. Killing the Affordable Care Act. Deporting legal immigrants back to their “shithole countries.” Etc., etc., etc.

But there’s nothing we can do about that now. We all did everything we could, and we caused a lot of “good trouble,” as John Lewis called it. In the end, the Republicans narrowly managed to elevate their pet sociopath to the Supreme Court.

Now, we focus like lasers on getting out the vote on November 6th. Because if we can get control of Congress, impeachment will be on the table – not just for Drumpf, but for Kavanaugh.

I’m sharp, I’m feeling everything, and I’m ready to work hard for the #BlueTsunami.

How about you?

This is an open thread.

This cartoon is from 2014.

Good Monday, all! I was just in the Caribbean without WiFi for 10 days and let me tell you, it was bliss. But alas, Drumpf is still Presnit despite all my most fervent, daiquiri-induced prayers to the Beach Goddess. So it’s time to fire up the Interwebz, put on my big-girl pants and ask this very important question:

How long has Russia been in control of the Republican Party’s agenda?

I realize that what I am saying has not yet been proven. (The operative word, pardon the pun, being “yet.”) But the circumstantial evidence is starting to become, at least in my mind, too overwhelming to ignore.

Let’s just take a minute to ponder the “coincidence” of every single person on Drumpf’s team having a Russian connection.  Every. Single. Person. Rationally speaking, how is this possible? Remember, in 2015, the Mango Meerkat was nothing more than a sleazy, self-important television personality who decided to run for President. He didn’t have a lot of contacts in the Republican Party, since he wasn’t actually a Republican. So what did he do? He surrounded himself with a mix of family, veteran Goopers and white supremacists, all of whom he realized he needs in order to steal the election in 2016. And amahzingly, there isn’t one that is free of ties to Russia.

Seriously.

I’m not just talking about his family – those connections can be explained by the fact that Drumpf is in bed with Russian kleptocrats, and his sons and daughter are all active participants in his corrupt business practices. I’m talking about the Republicans who, from Day 1, came along for the ride in the Orange Klown Kar. Roger Stone. Paul Manafort. New York’s Nosferatu, Rudy Giuliani. Henry Kissinger, for f*ck’s sake. Why? What could this babbling, Tweeting, empty-headed egomaniac have to offer them? Didn’t they have any principles, people wondered. Had they all gone crazy?

Well yes, they have principles. It’s just that these principles just happen to be the same as those of Vladimir Putin. To whom they are all so coincidentally connected.

Read the rest of this entry »

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As I have written many times, often writing posts in the Trump-age feels like an exercise in futility because by the time they are posted they are already out of date. I fear this post will be the same… so we must stay on top of latest news via the comments!

What we know: FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with Rosenstein writing the explanation. (Rosenstein had previously been viewed as an honest man. He was confirmed just a few weeks ago to the Justice Deparment with a 94-6 vote in the Senate. But as Philippe Reines pointed out, if Rosenstein was an honest man he would have answered Trump and Sessions’ demand that Comey be fired with: “No, I refuse.” Instead, he wrote his own epitaph as a coward.) The administrations explanation for firing Comey is: it’s Hillary’s fault. Also, her e-mails.

I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.

This is, of course, laughable on its face and no one can take this explanation seriously except maybe Fox News, which suddenly shows great concern for how Comey treated poor Hillary Clinton. Even Roger Stone (!) expressed regret: “What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I’m glad Trump fired him over it,” he said to Alex Pfeiffer. We know, of course, the firing had nothing to do with Clinton. It is about the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 Presidential election.

Comey

James Comey has been an enigma for a long time. His press conference announcing that his agency would not recommend charges against Clinton over use of a private e-mail server, while blasting her in such a public manner, seemed inexplicable. Some stories later suggested Comey wanted to reveal information about Russian interference in our election in the summer of 2016, but was stopped by Obama. Then Comey refused to sign on to other agencies’ announcement of this info in the Fall of 2016 because it was too close to the election and he didn’t wish to interfere. But his Letter just days before the election, announcing discovery of new e-mails on the computer of Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin’s husband, did precisely what he claimed earlier he didn’t wish to do: he changed the outcome of an election. What a bizarre story arc for a man who once rushed to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the Bush/Cheney administration from spying on Americans. None of it made sense. Until last week when Comey testified before the Senate. Finally the fog lifted.

I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. Because here’s how I thought about it, I’m not trying to talk you into this, but I want you to know my thinking. Having repeatedly told this Congress, we are done and there’s nothing there, there’s no case there, there’s no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an active concealment, in my view.

And so I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days, Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we got to walk into the world of really bad.

In the end, this long term public servant fell for the oldest tragic flaw, the one Greeks wrote plays about: Hubris. Comey just thinks of himself as the last honest man in America. Our own Prolix has written a few times that Comey isn’t corrupt, he is Righteous and his own belief in his Righteousness is where things can get murky. It’s true that his Righteousness is why I think ultimately he could have been trusted with the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia. But his zealotry came with unintended – even by him – consequences: the election of Donald Trump as President. In an honest desire to be seen as non-partisan Comey managed to ruin the reputation of his favorite agency. With his fear of being taken to task by Republicans, who would smear him and the FBI if he did not tell them about the Abedin e-mails, Comey compromised himself as an honest broker of truth. He misassigned the concepts of “bad” and “catastrophic.” He thought not telling Congress about the e-mails would be catastrophic. In fact, not telling Republicans and becoming the target of their wrath would have been bad. Affecting the outcome of a Presidential election was catastrophic.

-Joy Reid Sally Yates comment

(There were also the grave issues that in his testimony to the Senate Comey gave inaccurate information about Abedin’s e-mails, falsely claiming “tens and thousands” of messages had been sent by her to her husband’s computer. It took 6 days, and prodding from ProPublica and Washington Post, for the FBI to issue a correction. The same day Comey was fired. Trump had his bodyguard Keith Schiller deliver the firing letter to the FBI headquarters, but they didn’t realize Comey was not in the office. Comey was delivering a speech and learned he was fired when the news popped up on the screen behind him.)

-COmey fired Petri

This brings us to the present. What does Comey’s firing mean in the larger scheme of things? Many Clinton aides have expressed concern, not joy, at the developments. That Clinton aides, who dislike Comey as much as anyone, are concerned about the firing speaks volumes about the Clinton candidacy and the people who supported her. We are more concerned about the Republic than petty revenge. Because what does Comey’s firing mean for the Russia/Trump investigation and the future of the Republic? It is impossible to know just yet. Some high profile Republicans, like Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, have lined up behind Trump. Collins told Judy Woodruff: “Well, the president didn’t fire the entire FBI.” Graham said: “I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” This is worrisome because it shows a continued support for the insupportable Trump, his administration and his policies. The good news is that some others Republicans have expressed concerns. (And not just the Nixon Library tweeting an objection to people calling Trump’s behavior “Nixonian.”)

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.32.44 PM

John McCain tweeted that “Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia’s interference in 2016 election.” Tea Partier Justin Amash tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who heads the Senate investigation into Trump/Russia, wrote:

I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.  Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.

Other notable Republicans who have expressed concern about Comey’s firing are James Lankford of Oklahoma, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Senate Judiciary Committee member Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

I think we are at a cross-roads. What happens next is what history books will say about all of us. Will the firing of Comey bring about Trump’s downfall? Or will Republicans close ranks and save him, kill the investigation… and damn us all to a banana republic?

-History joke

Complicit

Posted on: April 12, 2017

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“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein

“When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take from journalism.” – Jim Hightower

When the Pulitzers announced that David Fahrenthold of Washington Post was receiving an award for National Reporting “For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities,” no one was surprised. He was the highly favored candidate. Fahrenthold was one of the very few mainstream reporters who did not spend the 2016 election cycle sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. One of the very few. (Because of his reporting on Trump’s charity donations, Fahrenthold was also the one to receive the Access Hollywood tape when NBC spent days trying to decide how and when to release it.) Fahrenthold began his investigation into Trump’s supposed (and non-existent) charitable donations on something of a hunch. He remembered Trump once saying on TV that he would donate $6 million to veterans groups and Fahrenthold wondered if Trump followed through on the promise. So he started researching and found a Pulitzer.

fahrentholdda

Do you know who didn’t find a Pulitzer? Anybody who was sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. The vast majority of the news media spent 18 months questioning Clinton on her use of a private e-mail server and then combing through tens Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.37 PMof thousands of stolen e-mails from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. All they found was a risotto recipe and that one time Clinton and Huma Abedin split a crème brûlée. There
was also gossip. But nothing that a sane person could interpret as in any way significant to a Presidential campaign. And yet, according to statistics, E-MAILS was the topic of more conversation on the news than anything else. Though we might think the NY Times was the most egregious in their anti-Hillary coverage, it was – in fact, the Washington Post that by far led Hillary-hate; second only to Fox News.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.09 PM

When CNN’s Jake Tapper was told by Robby Mook that there are allegations about stolen DNC e-mails and Russian interference via WikiLeaks, Tapper’s incredulous eye-rolling response should shame him for the rest of his life. (It won’t.) Not because he didn’t just take Mook’s word for it in the moment. But because Tapper never called any of his sources, whether in Congress or in the Intelligence Community, and ask: “Hey, what is he talking about? Anything to this?” Because he might have gotten an affirmative response and landed the biggest story of his life. By that time the FBI was alredy investigating Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. And the Gang of 8 in Congress was about to be briefed. Harry Reid would fire off multiple public letters to FBI Director James Comey, imploring additional information to be disclosed on Trump and Russia. To no avail. Comey was silent and the media treated Reid like a deranged lunatic. Very few reporters looked into these stories. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek was one, and was widely derided by the Left and the Right. When David Corn of Mother Jones published an article about the Steele dossier in October, he was laughed at too. When Franklin Foer of Slate published an article claiming that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian Alfa Bank he was laughed at as well. His allegations were infamously dismissed by the NY Times as “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. sees no clear link to Russia” in an article by Eric Lichtblau. It is a headline that should be tattooed on Lichtblau’s forehead. (Lichtblau recently left the Times to be CNN’s lead investigative reporter…) The NY Times was flat out wrong. And they conducted an interview with Harry Reid for the story, and then threw it out unused. The story remains up, un-retracted. We, of course, now know for a fact that the Times was wrong. The F.B.I. was investigating Trump and they saw links to Russia. And Alfa Bank’s communications with Trump servers is one of the lynchpins of the investigation.

So what happens when journalism is wrong? Journalists love themselves because they say their job is to hold the powerful accountable for wrong-doing. But what happens when journalists are wrong? What happens when entire media empires fail to see the biggest story of their lifetimes and chase a red herring, plunging a nation into a crises? Where, to paraphrase, does a person the media ruined go to get their good name back? How do we collectively crawl our way out of the hole the media threw us all in?

The answer, I fear is…nothing happens. They pay no price. When the NY Times and Judith Miller published Dick Cheney’s fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, then watched Cheney go on television and cite the Times as proof that Hussein had WMDs, and the country went to a catastrophic war in Iraq…nothing happened to the NY Times. They threw Miller out, as if her reports were not approved by editors above her and as if lawyers and standards/practices didn’t sign off on her reports. The Times paid no price. And they will pay no price for Clinton’s e-mails either.

Society of Professional Journalists writes: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.”  I wonder how they feel about NY Times’ Maggie Haberman receiveing an adoring write-up from CNN, as the reporter Trump hates the mostest. NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sees Maggie and raises her by being the most hated reporter of all the Presidents in Politico. And CNN’s Brian Stelter is the Young Messiah of Washington Post’s ode. Each of these articles was reposted on social media by the author, the subject, every other reporters both sides work with. It’s a veritable journalistic circle jerk of love and adoration. There are no consequences for their failures – to them. The only consequences belong to us. The only ones to pay will be the public, which now clings to the same reporters who brought us to hell to help dig us out. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post says. Except they broke all of the lights.

 

Paging the White House Physician!

I’m sure tRump has completely blown a gasket.  Of course the tweets will probably wait until late at night or early in the a.m.

To quote our Prolix:

 

With due deliberation and a judicious nature, the 9th Circuit whacked Donnie’s little peepee. Hard.

 

So here’s a new post.

 

Discuss

 

winona

As I sat down to write Wednesday morning’s post on Tuesday night, I realized by the time it published it would already be out of date. The dizzying speed with which Bannon and Trump are trashing our democracy is impossible to process and stay up to speed on. In just 10 days they’ve managed to create multiple constitutional criseses [sic]. Aside from the original sin of conflict of interest we don’t know the full extent of because Trump has not and will not release his tax returns (WikiLeaks says they plan to find them and release them… the irony of that can not be avoided, to paraphrase Angus King’s comment to steinJames Coffey at a Senate hearing after Comey said he does not comment on ongoing investigations when asked about FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in our elections). But since then Trump/Bannon’s multiple executive orders, that anathema he and other Republicans screamed at Obama about for 8 years, have created nothing but chaos in our system. The biggest one, of course, was the refugee executive order. Throwing people’s lives into chaos by refusing previously vetted refugees into the country, but also by refusing people with green cards into the country, they revealed – well, it’s hard to tell. Incompetence or malice? Perhaps a combination of the two. Bannon and another Trump aide Stephen Miller wrote the executive order and forced it to be signed without consulting with any other agency, or even Congressional Republicans. Though Congressional aides helped write it….without telling their bosses. That is a big deal. I wish I could see the expression on McTurtle’s face when he learned of his aides secrecy. It would be funny if the secrecy also wasn’t terrifying.Senate Luncheons

To add to the chaos, Border Patrol defied a judge’s ruling that people detained be allowed to see a lawyer. That is a very big deal as well. We now have the judicial branch being openly defied by the administration and part of its security force. Federal Marshalls would have to go in and force Border Patrol to follow court’s orders. Imagine how that would play out. Because I can’t.

Which brings me to this: for many months now Democrats have been waiting and begging Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to save us from Trump. Throughout the insanity of the campaign Ryan and McConnell became almost sane. But in truth they were just sane compared to Trump and that’s not a fair comparison. In fact, Ryan and McConnell are fucking scum. We have been waiting for them and the Republican Party to come in and paul-ryansave us all from Trump. That didn’t happen during the election. The Republican Party never turned on Trump, no matter how awful he became. Even John McCain (when will be get used to the fact that the war hero died when McCain ran for President?) didn’t fully turn against him. McCain just refused to talk about him, which isn’t the same thing. So no, McCain and Lady Graham won’t save us either. The endless articles being written about how Trump will alienate Republicans enough that they will turn on him are as tiresome as the endless articles about what white men want. It’s nonsense. Nothing Trump does will ever make the Republican establishment turn on him and impeach him. Nothing. McConnell and Ryan are not biting their tongues. They are not cowards who just need a little bit of encouragement and courage. They are not spineless – they are soulless. They want everything Trump is doing. They might be annoyed at some of his methods. But they want what Trump wants. That’s the truth we have to face.trump-nixon

So where does that leave us? I honestly have no idea. I’m sorry for the downer post. I’m sure the comments that follow over the next couple of days will fill us with even more dread as Bannon/Trump continue their destruction of America and the world around us. I do fear, however, that Trump’s Presidency will not end peacefully. I don’t know how big the violence will be or who it will be directed against, but I think that is the only way this can end.

Please tell me that I’m wrong!

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
20 months to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

Ironic

Awrite! Here’s your damned wall

Dems are coming for ya