Posts tagged ‘Russians’

Opps

Yeah, I know I have used Alfred E. Neuman before, but is there any better example for our Village Idiot in Chief? According to the WaPo through leaks from our security agencies they are appalled at President Cheeto-heads actions, the moron released critical classified information:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency.

When the White House denied it, nobody believed them.  It is almost funny that we know it is the lying show. The leakers are far more credible than the White House.  Secretary of State Rex Tellerson came out and made an identical denial as the White House was pitching, and when the State Department was asked about it, they had no idea what he had said.  They were totally out of the loop.  Clearly it occurred and the hypocristy of going after Hillary’s email system when no damage has ever been identified, the classified material was not classified by some agencies, and this leak that will probably cost lives is just enormous.  I wonder if the Russians left any listening devices behind after their visit?  At least they got all the pictures.  The American Press was barred.

But I think the most poignant moment in this latest Cheeto-head fuck up came when Allen Dershowitz, famous attorney, was on CNN and got quite animated about warning fellow panelists not to conflate this with the collusion investigation.  “They are entirely two different things!”  No, Allen, they are not.  Now legally he is right, but they come from the same motivation and misunderstanding that caused them both.  

On the collusion thing, the reality I believe we will soon find out about is the flow of money to finance Trump adventures (investments), much of it laundered or being laundered through his deals.  So in Trump’s little mind the Russian boys and girls are really just good fellow business men and woman and of course there was collusion to send them a signal that the sanctions were just a hinderance to business.  I don’t know this, but I think it is the most likely scenario here with all the denials and head fakes.  Cheeto-head does not get the adversary thing at all.  And if I am right, they have their hooks in him and he has no idea.

So Cheeto-head does not see the Russians as an adversary, but a way to make lots of money. It’s jus business.  He has no idea he is so far out of his league that they are using him to undermining our democratic system.  Thus the leak was just an exchange among the boys and he is clueless about the damage done, as he is clueless about just about everything.  He is their perfect captured idiot in spy talk.  But, hey, it is just business, right?  And with a businessman in charge, everything should be hunky dory, right?  You people who voted for him are morons. As I have pointed out before, none of this is a suprise.

I know what we are going to hear next.  “Who leaked this?  We have to get those leakers! Leakers, leakers, leakers.” Or said another way, deflect, deflect, deflect. Except he is the biggest leaker of all.  And the leakers leaked in order to wake up the nation to the danger he poses and the damage he has done.  And it is only the beginning.  He alienated all the intelligence agencies and the FBI.  Now his bumbling is putting the nation at risk.  They are good Americans and will not stand idly by while he destroys their hard work and undermines our intelligence sources.  It is going to be a fun and dangerous ride.  I hope he did not kill anyone with his leak, but he may well have.  

How Much Smoke is There?  UPDATE SEE BELOW*

While the media is distracted with a Trump head fake to restart the war in Afghanistan which I will comment on later, but do you really think the guys who want a tax cut for the wealthy want to fund another war, the Russia thing just gets bigger and bigger.  What we know is not much since everything we do know is based upon leaks and the Republicans seem to be in no hurry to get to the bottom of it.  So let’s see if we can itemize the smoke columns;

Said another way there is just too much really weird stuff going on that makes no sense if there is no Russian connection.  And that brings me to the investigation.  As an American, I am apalled that I had to learn about the investigation through a leak.  It is an obvious question that if the Russians are being investigated for interference in our campaign, was there collusion by the Trump campaign.  Directory Comey felt compelled to tell us about reopening the Clinton investigation but said nothing about an investigation into the Trump administrations connections with the Russians.

Clearly in a perfect world we would not want to pre-judge someone based upon an investigation that might clear of criminal wrong doing, which is what happened to Hillary.  But when you are talking about Russian interference in our election and the potential for a president’s administration (or maybe he himself) colluding with the Russians, we need to know about it so we can make informed choices in a democracy.  This idea that nothing can be said, and we have to find out from a leak that the Trump administration was told Flynn was compromised and then they did nothing is truly disturbing.

Directory Comey is a poor choice for this role and we may have to set some deadlines.  Why not supeona Trump’s tax records?  Why is the Senate dragging their feet?  Why don’t the agencies get together and tell us what investigations are going on without naming names and when we will get some sort of report?  It is at times like these we thank our lucky stars for leaks.  How much longer would Flynn have had access to the highest secrets we have before his compromised position forced him out.  Clearly we have problem with secrecy in this country and maybe it is time to start a discussion about how the public can be informed about potentially very damaging actions that are being investigated.  Just having no comment because it is an ongoing investigation does not seem to work when the stakes are this high.

*PRESIDENT CHEETO-HEAD FIRES COMEY.  THIS SCREAMS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR/INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AND RAISES ALL KINDS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT TIMING AND RELATIONSHIP TO THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION.

Comey and Ego

Sadly after listening to his testomony yesterday, all I can conclude is the man is just another ego in drag, wrapping himself in integrity when his “integrity” swung an election.  And it turned out he was wrong and still he would do the same thing.  What does that tell you?

“It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,” he told the senators. “But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision….Concealment, in my view, would have been catastrophic,” he said, adding later that he knew the decision would be “disastrous for me personally.”

In his little mind, not disclosing the new investigation was concealment. That is a an emotion laden word implying nefarious motives.  He was going to save the country from “concealment” by stepping forward and going against policy. But let’s just step back a moment.  He was already investigating Trump and the Russian connection, but that he did not disclose it and continued to “conceal” it might make one ask why.  Why the hypocrisy or double standard here.  Because as one ex-FBI person has said, they were sure Hillary would win.  

But with polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.

They had already made a political calculation about how this might effect them if they did not disclose Hillary was under investigation and she won.  Only there little decision change the course of election history over nothing but allegation and that is what their own policy is suppose to prevent.  And he wouldn’t change it?  That tells you everything you need to know about the man.

But there is another issue here.  The Justice Department has a policy of not disclosing an investigation because of unintended consequences.  Ever see the movie Absence of Malice with Paul Neuman and Sally Field? Maybe Comey should have watched it. So why did he not follow policy on this one and did follow it on Trump’s Russia investigation?  And here again is total ego.  He decided the nation needed to know because he made the political calculation that she was going to be our President, not Trump, and he did not want to tarnish the FBI by not disclosing (concealing) the investigation so the American people were not mislead.  

Except they were misled by his disclosing it.  There was nothing there, while on the Russian thing, you can be sure there is something there and we elected that moron.  So why not follow policy?  Because, he, James Comey, is going to decide when policy should be trumped (pun intended), and he got it totally wrong and again, he would not change that decision?  He learned nothing from the mistake?  The perfect Republican.

Really, you can see the problem with this man, his ego, and his bad judgement back in July when he concluded the investigation into Hillary and gave that press conference where he excoriated Hillary for her lax protection of security, but found no intenet to release classified information.  The whole thing was covering his ass with Republicans.  He knew they were going to be hopping mad that he did not charge her so he took great pains to disparage her while explaining under the law she did nothing wrong.  It was CYA at its pinnacle. Had he simply said that she had made some mistakes, but no crimes were committed, as he is suppose to, it would not have been a political event, which he turned it into.  That would have taken courage and shown the measure of his integrity.  I want you to note that Hillary did make mistakes with her server, but THERE WAS NO INTENT OR IDENTIFIED DAMAGE.  Putting Cheeto-Head in the White House will damage this country for a long long time.

This is not a case of the head of the FBI inserting his integrity and the integrity of his agency ahead of policy for the good of the country.  There was a policy against doing what he did for the very reason it so backfired and he went against his boss’s direction (the Attorney General).  He made a political calculation about the election and inserted himself into it against policy.  He got it wrong, changed the direction of the election, missed the elephant in the room, Russian collusion and interference, and he tells us he would do the same thing.  Real integrity would have been to follow policy based on years of experience and taken the heat had it come back to haunt him.  There is no integrity here, just ego.

Try Not to Get Comfortable

I think the thing that stays with to me the most from last week is when the White House Press Secretary announced the new job numbers and made a joke out of Cheeto-Head telling us you could not trust the old numbers, but these were real and the press corps laughed.  I did not laugh, I was horrified.  We just normalized lying from the President of the United States.  I remember in elections past where a candidate would go off the truth track and the media pundits would tell us that is just the nature of politics in an election year.  Now we have Cheeto-Head and they seem to now be normalizing a whole new level of continuous lying.

The of course there has been the slaughter at the State Department where the Cheeto-Head Administration fired career diplomats who have been around for years in both Republican and Democratic regimes, seemingly wiping out decades of experience and knowledge.  I cannot make heads or tails out of that one unless you start to make the Russia connection.  Our diplomats is how we project power throughout the world and if you want to reduce that power, withdraw from Europe and leave everyone to fend for themselves, how best to do it but wipe out our diplomatic corps.  Add that to the budget cut of almost 37% and something bad is going on.

Then we have the Attorney General Massacre.  Sure past Presidents have replace the AGs with their own people, but in a structured way so as to not upset or derail ongoing operations.  So what was this about?  I have a theory.  It’s the Jeff Sessions thing at the state level.  Remember the report that Cheeto-Head was furious when he heard that Sessions had been force to recuse himself from the Russian investigation?  Ask yourself this:  If there is nothing there, what’s the problem?  Sessions lied under oath and note his lie was not a forced error.  The question he was asked had nothing to do with meeting Russians and he blurted out a line about being a Cheeto-Head surrogate and never having met with Russians as though that was a plan response and he just had to get it out there.  Draw your own conclusion here.

But now we have a mass firing of the AGs and one has to wonder why?  Is Cheeto-Head afraid of investigations at the state levels that could expose his fraudulent business dealings?  I think it is all about control.  Remember Sally Yates when she told them the immigration ban was unConstitutional?  He got the racist little sycophant Sessions in as Attorney General to control the investigations, and stymie where necessary.  Now he needs control at the state level.  It is all about control.

Cheeto-Head lies and nothing he or his administration say can be taken at face value.  He tells us with a straight face that the new Republican healthcare plan will be better and the facts belie it, yet our media continues their “fair and balanced approach to covering this issue by reporting lies without refuting them.  As Gloria Steinem “the liberal activist and writer, wrote in an email that she had grown tired of “false equivalency or even-handedness” from news organizations, which she blamed for aiding Mr. Trump’s rise.”

And that is where we are and we should not be normalizing this moron or his administration.  He is making lying and misdirection from the White House normal behavior and we should never accept it.  He is trying to delegitimize intelligence from both our intelligence agencies and our FBI so that he can define reality.  He has a head of the EPA empowered to deny science.  It is the logical conclusion of what Republicans have been up to for 50 years, reinventing reality so their nonsense makes sense.  Only now it is being taken to a whole new level and we should not be laughing, but rioting in the streets.  Our media is already a lost cause, but we aren’t.  Don’t normalize this crap, fight back.

Overreacting?

The Republicans are trying to paint the Democrats as over reacting to Trump and the Russians.  These are the guys and gals who had how many hearings on Hilary and found nothing?  But of course if the tables were turned their brains would be exploding.  Now step back a minute from the partisan struggle and ask yourself, are they overreacting?  Do we have a real threat from Russian and should it not be our business to make sure there is no collusion or undo influence on the Cheeto-Head Administration, not to mention, how much fake news and hacking really occurred?  Of course it would and in a sane world that would be an independent commission with subpoena power to find out the facts.  But we don’t live in a sane world and overreacting is what it is going to take to get Republicans to do the responsible thing, because of course, they don’t want to find what they are going to find out.

Having said that, and the fact that Democrats need to be resisting Cheeto-Head and his Cabinet of Incompetents, what should the Democratic strategy be besides opposing Cheeto-Head?  Now note that the Republicans won everything this time by opposing everything Obama, but there is a caveat.  Cheeto-Head was not their candidate, Jeb Bush was and he was resoundingly rejected.  So the message was clear, establishment was rejected (Democratic or Republican), and change was the flavor of the day.  So Democrats not only have to oppose Trumpism, they need to show real change.  So far I am nervous.

First there was the DNC election where they went with Tom Perez, Obama’s candidate.  Once again the establishment is winning (in what may be a loosing campaign).  Now Perez may surprise me as Chuck Schumer is doing, but it was an establishment choice just like returning Nancy Pelosi to House Minority Leader.  While Nancy has fought the fight, that was not the point and the same with Perez.  The Democratic Party needed to demonstrate that they really learned something from losing the House, Senate, and most state houses (one could argue they won the Presidency, but it would have been a crippled Presidency).  So far they have not.

Second there was the Minority Response to the State of the Union given by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear in a diner.  Gov. Beshear knows health care so he could speak to the unrest in the town hall meetings, but is that what we are, reactive?  And the messaging was horrible.  Old guy in a diner with old people talking about protecting what we have, not where we are going.  Who did that relate to, old people in a diner?  Is that what the Democrat Party thinks is who we need to reach?  My perfect rebuttal, would be just that, a spirited rebuttal.  First you pick one of the new young Progressives.  Then you anticipate what the President is going to say and carefully prepare a rebuttal, item by item.  Then you hear his speech and adjust your response to what he actually said and provide a fact based rebuttal to what he proposes with alternatives.

I am not sure the Democrats learned anything yet.  Sure we need to have a fifty state strategy, and yes we need to listen to local middle America concerns.  But we have to develop a Progressive strategic plan to deal with the realities we face and sell it, not pander with the promise of ending trade agreements, increasing pollution, or wiping out regulations that protect workers as an answer to saving jobs.  Bernie was the face of the new Democratic Party.  His focus was a Progressive approach to economic inequality.  Hillary was not believable in that role.  Any back sliding at this point will be disastrous.  We really, really need to get away from establishment thinking.

Where there is Smoke…

No, this is not Benghazi.  In Benghazi, they got all the documents and there was no there there.  In Russia Gate we have no idea what the documents say.  But there is way too much smoke, where before the smoke was created by Darrel Issa and his band of minions.  Now we are hearing the Democrats are playing partisan politics.  Well maybe, but instead having nothing there is a whole list of damaging evidence that something was going on.  Oh, and why not show us his tax returns?  Why are the Republicans so busy not requesting them?

So let’s review:

  1. We have now undeniable evidence (which we can’t see) that the Russians hacked at least the DNC and then feed these leaks to Wikileaks and created fake news to try to at the least surrey Hillary Clinton and make any administration by her hamstrung (It was going to be anyway with a Republican Congress)
  2. We have Cheeto-Head equating Russia with this country’s political murders
  3. We have Cheeto-Head admiring Putin and trying paint him as the wounded party in Eastern Europe
  4. We have Putin not retaliating after Obama’s sanctions for hacking which threw out a bunch of his spies
  5. We have evidence, again leaked, that members of Cheeto-Head’s campaign having contacts with Russian operatives
  6. We have Cheeto-Head telling the Russians to continue hacking Hillary’s account as it is a good thing
  7. We have Cheeto-Head not releasing his taxes after the campaign as promised
  8. We have the Trump Administration interfering in an investigation by requesting FBI, Intelligence Agencies, Justice, and leaders of the GOP to tamp down the belief that the meetings were anything but tit for tat on sanctions, or had anything to do with the hacking
  9. We have the leaked report that the Obama Administration in its last weeks, seeing more and more of the evidence, tried to spread that classified evidence to as many government agencies as possible so that the Cheeto-Head Administration could not sweep it under the rug
  10. And now we have Jeff Sessions caught in a lie or at least a diversion from the fact that as a Cheeto-Head’s surrogate he did have close door meetings with the Russian Ambassador (Sanctions?)

Way too much smoke here that could be easily wiped away with a release of the tax returns and statements from DHS and the FBI about the recording they have.  But instead they say nothing.  That says a lot to me.  First, there is a real problem and it is a political hand grenade or they would have said something by now.  Second, why are the Republicans and the Administration working so hard to make this go away, instead of just getting out the facts and end it?  On, and imagine what would have happened if the tables were turned, and this was Hillary with a Republican Congress.

Now for my suppositions, I think this is all about money and greed, not from Putin who has real aims to divide and conquer in Europe, but from the Cheeto-Heads.  We know there are billions to be made if the sanctions are lifted.  What we don’t know, but I would bet my last glass of wine on, is that Cheeto-Head is tied up with Russian Oligarchs and their money.  He probably laundered the money through his many companies and allowed them to offshore their cash.  I think that for the most part, Cheeto-Head has run a Ponzi scheme, leveraging one deal after another, and Russian cash was critical.  I think the Russian government probably has information on this and while not overtly blackmailing Cheeto-Head, pointing out that the lift of sanctions and other favors would grease both palms.

I don’t know any of this, but there is a ton of circumstantial evidence that points this way.  This is a no-brainer for the country.  The Republicans could lose their hold on Trump and their conservative agenda so they want to fight this.  Here is another question I ask:  Why would then not want him replaced by Pence who is their boy unless there is something that raises the question of the whole legitimacy of the election.  We need an independent panel, and get on with it.  We having dancing now in the Senate and House panels, but they will hit a wall and it will fall apart.  Better to get on with now than drip, drip, drip.

And while we are distracted Cheeto-Head is wiping away regulations that protect people and the environment for jobs.  This is such a sad joke.  It won’t create jobs, just destroy more of America and make fighting global warming and pollution harder.  Remember when Trump admitted that Health Care is complicated?  So are regulations in our country and the unintended consequences getting rid of them could be massive. Just another day when you put the Republicans in charge.

Going Backwards

It is hard to watch the CPAC wild enthusiasm for statements from Trump puppets giving them applause lines full of hate, racism, and failed lessons learned.  Remember that line, we are all Americans.  Not these people.  They clearly do not understand freedom of the press, having your ideas challenged with facts, or learning in general.  And they represent the Trump Bunch.  How do you wake up everyday with so little empathy and kindness toward your fellow human beings?  What I get from this kind of political action is pure meanness. Trump is a disgusting human being and disaster is unfolding before our eyes.  We won, now let’s show them whose boss.  Actually I don’t think they won, and he will never be my President.

So let’s just summarize:

  • Cheeto-Head attacks the free press, bans those trying to report on his Russia dealing from a press event, probably all in an effort to take attention away from the events of the day, and instead of focusing on the Russians, he is out to kill the messenger
  • ICE is becoming our version of Hitlers SS.  Did you know that Muhammad Ali’s son was stopped at an airport and question on how he got the name Muhammad?
  • Economists will no longer be part of the Presidents Cabinet.  Who needs facts?
  • Then we have the bathroom brouhaha.  Who cares?  Have you noticed that many places have unisex bathrooms?  But they care and the most vulnerable are kids who will be hurt
  • Oh, and there is a new study showing the results of most students who us vouchers to attend private or charter schools fail miserably compared to public school kids.  Where they work, is in closely regulated schools, just what the Trump Bunch are against.
  • Scott Pruitt, EPA, chief is being reviled as a puppet for industry and we may find out his role in the botched execution in Oklahoma.  Just another bottom of the barrel pick to lead one of our most important agencies.
  • Speaking of schools, no more free lunch.  Our Secretary of Education has no idea what hunger is and thinks we ought to do away with it.  After she came out against the bathroom change and had to change her tune to keep her job, we know all we need to know about her
  • Then there is the rise and support of private prisons again.  Don’t you just love people getting rich by sending as many people as possible to prison?  It works so well
  • Homeland issued a study, well it was leaked (how else are we going to find anything out in the Trump years?), using open sources, to show what we have all argued, the ban and the countries selected makes no sense.  It doesn’t keep us safe and may make things worse.  And yet we do nothing

When you look at these people from Trump on down, they are disgusting.  They are the worst of America and I am still trying to understand how my country could take the worst we have to offer and put in them in charge.  And even worse, their worst qualities are just being magnified in the light of day and conservatives do not rebel in disgust.  I hope this nightmare ends soon.

Where There is Smoke…

A little idle speculation this morning:

  • Russians help Trump Win the election – Our national security agencies released a joint investigation that says the Russians hacked Democratic sites (especially Hillary’s) and released emails with the press’s help to damage her campaign and with the stated purpose of helping Donald Trump.  Did they hack the Republicans and hold onto the data? Nobody is saying and of course the Republicans deny it
  • Donald Trump Cozies up to Russsians – During the campaign Chetto Head makes all kinds of nice comments about Russia during the campaign making us wonder if they have something on him
  • Donald Trump refuses to release Taxes – Is it because he paid no taxes or that he shows that he is liar about his wealth, or could he be indebted to the Russians?
  • Uncorroborated Dossier Brief – President Trump was briefed on a dossier prepared by a reliable intelligence source that contained two uncorroborated major accusations, one salacious (prostitutes and peeing on the bed) and one about contacts with the Trump campaign during the campaign.  CNN now reports that they have information that corroborates the second part of that dossier
  • Gen Flynn in Discussions with the Russians – Although he denied it, apparently the FBI may have recordings of Gen. Flynn, Trumps National Security Advisor, talking with the Russians about the sanctions President Obama placed on the Russians after the hack became known.  In fact they may have recordings of the Trump campaign working with the Russians before the election
  • Donald Claims U.S. No Better than Russia – As President when challenged about Putin and his autocracy involvement in the death of opponents, once again the Donald was not about to say anything bad about Russia and equated them with the U.S., clearly a Putin line

You connect the dots.  Let’s just say for a moment that my wild speculation, based upon a whole lot of facts is true, that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians and the Russians may own Donald.  Now what? Will the FBI and the NSA release the data? Will the Justice Department under Sessions charge the president? If they did, then what? We could impeach the Donald, and if the evidence were clear, even the Republicans would go along, but then we have Pence and an administration that was elected with the help of the Russians. So let’s say the whole administration and the election is called into question.  Then what?  Do we have a process for an interim president and a do over?  Just speculating.

Riding on Their Backs

This is one of those blogs when others are saying it better than I ever could.  The gist is that the country has lost its mind and we all pretend it is normal.  Let’s start with the North Carolina Republican legislature that as I have maintained for years, hate democracy unless they win.  That would be Republicans in general, not just North Carolina ones. They have no intent to honor the implicit contract of majority rule.  With the election of a Democratic Governor after the Republicans passed the “Bathroom Bill” that made North Carolina the shinning example of stunning stupidity in the South they did the following yesterday:

Senators passed one of the major bills, which removes partisan control of the state and county election boards from the governor. Currently, the boards, which set hours and polling places and adjudicate ballot disputes, have a majority from the governor’s party. Under the new law, the boards will have bipartisan memberships, but a Republican will lead the state board during election years and a Democrat in nonelection years.

The House passed another key bill, enhancing the power of the state superintendent of education, who is a newly elected Republican, and mandating Senate approval of Mr. Cooper’s cabinet appointments, a significant shackling of the governor’s authority.

“This is one of the greatest coups we’ve seen in modern-day America,” said the House Democratic leader, Larry Hall. “This is an effort to nullify the clear vote of the people.”

Mr. Cooper said on Thursday that he might challenge the constitutionality of the measures in court, arguing that sweeping changes to the state’s power structure should not be rammed through without careful consideration and debate. If the Republicans succeed in stripping much of the governor’s authority, they will hamstring his ability to make sensible reforms in many areas, including public education, health care and environmental policy.

 

See, all these powers are fine if the governor is Republican, but not if he is a Democrat.  A sure sign that partisanship is not  both sides do it and one side does not believe in Democracy unless of course they win. Okay let’s move on to the Russian thing and here is Paul Krugman making the critical point about useful idiots (an intelligence term for when the other side uses your gambit and undermines their whole system):

But let’s be honest: Mr. Trump is by no means the only useful idiot in this story. As recent reporting by The Times makes clear, bad guys couldn’t have hacked the U.S. election without a lot of help, both from U.S. politicians and from the news media.

Let me explain what I mean by saying that bad guys hacked the election. I’m not talking about some kind of wild conspiracy theory. I’m talking about the obvious effect of two factors on voting: the steady drumbeat of Russia-contrived leaks about Democrats, and only Democrats, and the dramatic, totally unjustified last-minute intervention by the F.B.I., which appears to have become a highly partisan institution, with distinct alt-right sympathies.

…Did Republican politicians, so big on flag waving and impugning their rivals’ patriotism, reject this foreign aid to their cause? No, they didn’t. In fact, as far as I can tell, no major Republican figure was even willing to criticize Mr. Trump when he directly asked Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It has long been obvious — except, apparently, to the news media — that the modern G.O.P. is a radical institution that is ready to violate democratic norms in the pursuit of power. Why should the norm of not accepting foreign assistance be any different?

…Now what? If we’re going to have any hope of redemption, people will have to stop letting themselves be used the way they were in 2016. And the first step is to admit the awful reality of what just happened.

That means not trying to change the subject to campaign strategy, which is a legitimate topic but has no bearing on the question of electoral subversion. It means not making excuses for news coverage that empowered that subversion.

And it means not acting as if this was a normal election whose result gives the winner any kind of a mandate, or indeed any legitimacy beyond the bare legal requirements. It might be more comfortable to pretend that things are O.K., that American democracy isn’t on the edge. But that would be taking useful idiocy to the next level.

Next up is my friend (well I like him, he doesn’t have a clue if I exist) Timothy Egan who gives us this for our purview:

At the other end, his 17.3 million followers wake up every day eager for a shot of unfiltered Trump. It’s a dangerous codependency. “Saturday Night Live”? “Unwatchable!” Vanity Fair, after a scathing review of a Trump restaurant? “Dead!” The slaughter of civilians in the ancient city of Aleppo? Nothing. The real-world consequences of weaponized hatred are no concern for a man with a shameful incuriosity and a profound lack of empathy.

But look again at the Trump Tower stage — it’s Kanye! Who cares about Aleppo, or a foreign adversary deliberately trying to undermine an American election, when you’ve got a troubled rapper stopping by for his hit of Trump. The Orange One recognizes him — on CNN, now cutting away from Syria.

And so we see the clear design that Trump will use to rule: He will give us showmanship and cheap drama, put-downs and promises — the stagecraft of the world’s most powerful narcissist. And meanwhile, the nation will be governed by oil oligarchs, climate change deniers and Goldman Sachs tycoons brought in to do the real work.

Yet in the last paragraph I quoted above, most seem clueless that we have turned the nation over to ignorance and greed.  Exactly what happened the last time we turned the country over to tycoons?  Oh, this is going to work out so well for the white blue collar worker.

Okay, finally, if you are not cheered up yet, I will leave you with this from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in the NYT, Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy:

The clearest warning sign is the ascent of anti-democratic politicians into mainstream politics. Drawing on a close study of democracy’s demise in 1930s Europe, the eminent political scientist Juan J. Linz designed a “litmus test” to identify anti-democratic politicians. His indicators include a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.

Mr. Trump tests positive. In the campaign, he encouraged violence among supporters; pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton; threatened legal action against unfriendly media; and suggested that he might not accept the election results.

…Democratic institutions must be reinforced by strong informal norms. Like a pickup basketball game without a referee, democracies work best when unwritten rules of the game, known and respected by all players, ensure a minimum of civility and cooperation. Norms serve as the soft guardrails of democracy, preventing political competition from spiraling into a chaotic, no-holds-barred conflict.

Among the unwritten rules that have sustained American democracy are partisan self-restraint and fair play. For much of our history, leaders of both parties resisted the temptation to use their temporary control of institutions to maximum partisan advantage, effectively underutilizing the power conferred by those institutions. There existed a shared understanding, for example, that anti-majoritarian practices like the Senate filibuster would be used sparingly, that the Senate would defer (within reason) to the president in nominating Supreme Court justices, and that votes of extraordinary importance — like impeachment — required a bipartisan consensus. Such practices helped to avoid a descent into the kind of partisan fight to the death that destroyed many European democracies in the 1930s.

Yet norms of partisan restraint have eroded in recent decades. House Republicans’ impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 abandoned the idea of bipartisan consensus on impeachment. The filibuster, once a rarity, has become a routine tool of legislative obstruction. As the political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have shown, the decline of partisan restraint has rendered our democratic institutions increasingly dysfunctional. Republicans’ 2011 refusal to raise the debt ceiling, which put America’s credit rating at risk for partisan gain, and the Senate’s refusal this year to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee — in essence, allowing the Republicans to steal a Supreme Court seat — offer an alarming glimpse at political life in the absence of partisan restraint….Democratic institutions must be reinforced by strong informal norms. Like a pickup basketball game without a referee, democracies work best when unwritten rules of the game, known and respected by all players, ensure a minimum of civility and cooperation. Norms serve as the soft guardrails of democracy, preventing political competition from spiraling into a chaotic, no-holds-barred conflict.

…The risk we face, then, is not merely a president with illiberal proclivities — it is the election of such a president when the guardrails protecting American democracy are no longer as secure.

American democracy is not in imminent danger of collapse. If ordinary circumstances prevail, our institutions will most likely muddle through a Trump presidency. It is less clear, however, how democracy would fare in a crisis. In the event of a war, a major terrorist attack or large-scale riots or protests — all of which are entirely possible — a president with authoritarian tendencies and institutions that have come unmoored could pose a serious threat to American democracy. We must be vigilant. The warning signs are real.

I have been running around with my hair on fire for years trying to point out that Republicans were slowly destroying democracy and most just thought I was a liberal hack or radical.  Well look around you.  The ball is in your court.  I am a fat old white guy and this will probably work out in my economic favor.  Why then is it I feel like crying?

 

A Rigged Election

The intelligence agencies (CIA) have concluded that the Russians hacked both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, but in an attempt to sway the election, only released the Clinton stuff to Wikileaks.  So we have a foreign power, no less the Russians, directly interfering in our election to try to elect Trump:

American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

And here is where it really gets good, the leaders in Congress were told about it before the election, and Mitch and the boys decided that we the people did not need to know.

In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.

So what have we got?  A clear attempt by the Russia to sway the election to Trump or to have information to de-legitimize a possible Clinton Presidency.  The evidence was clear back in October when we have early reports and Trump denied it was the Russians and today cast dispersion on the intelligence which is now clear.  Then we have the leaders of Congress informed and asked to make a bi-partisan appeal to standup against this kind of cyber attack, and the Republicans block that by trying once again to cast doubts on the intelligence.  In other words those flag lapel wearing lily white boys from the Republican Party sold us out to partisan politics.  They helped the Russians undermine our election because it benefited them.

Now consider Trump and his bromance for Vladimir Putin.  Next consider that his new top choice for Secretary of State is the Exxon CEO, Rex W. Tillerson, who negotiated a multi billion dollar deal with the Russians for drilling that was put on hold because of our and the European Union’s sanction after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.  Mr. Tillerson was given the Order of Friendship medal by Putin after the deal.  Led by Trump and the craven Republicans, we are letting profits drive our blind eye to successful manipulation of our politics to favor Russian aggression and interests.

You want to get more alarmed?  From the New York Times:

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team has circulated an unusual 74-point questionnaire at the Department of Energy that requests the names of all employees and contractors who have attended climate change policy conferences, as well as emails and documents associated with the conferences…“These questions don’t just indicate an attack on civil servants here in Washington,” said an Energy Department employee. “They amount to a witch hunt in D.O.E.’s 17 national labs, where scientists have the independence to do their work — yet here are questions that are reminiscent of an inquisition rather than actual curiosity about how the labs work.”

It would appear that Trump and the Republicans are going to decide what science is and those that do not go along with their ideological beliefs, may just be purged.  1984?  Worse.  And yet we idly sit by and pretend Trump is just a change candidate.  Isn’t it great that we have a real businessman to run government now?  Oh, and for you moron rubes who think he is going to help you drain the swamp, he is bringing in enhanced alligators to populate the swamp:

Mr. Trump used Wall Street and “the global elites” as constant foils during the campaign, featuring Goldman’s chief executive and chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, in his dark closing argument.


Since his victory, however, Mr. Trump has tapped Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner, for Treasury secretary; the billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be his commerce secretary; Todd Ricketts, heir to the Ameritrade fortune, to be deputy commerce secretary; and now Gary D. Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs, to direct the National Economic Council.

We are descending into a morass we may never recover from and it is happening so fast it takes your breath away as Americans sit on their hands and do nothing, sold out by corporate greed and ignorance of middle America.  Well he is not my President and I will do everything in my measly power to see that he and Republicans never again have a seat at the table.  The Electoral College has a moment in history to take charge of this country, but the majority there too have been co-opted by greed and party ideology.  It is time for Americans to take to the streets.

Let me put it to you this way:

  1. Hillary may approach a 3 million edge in the popular vote demonstrating that Trump is not the choice of the people and may bode for violent times ahead
  2. Do you still think it was a fluke that FBI Director Comey raised new issues about the emails just before the vote and then said nevermind?
  3. It is now quite clear that the Russians hacked into our campaign to help Donald Trump, the Republicans knew about it, and did nothing and in fact block doing anything about it
  4. Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is unfit for office and totally unqualified.  The fact that he is now reversing himself on almost everything he promised raises real questions about his integrity
  5. And why, if he won by such wide margins as his campaign claims, is he trying to block recounts?

We need a do-over, but we don’t get do-overs.  We must reject him and the Republicans for what they are doing to this country and selling us out to the highest bidder. Who would have thought America was so fragile that Republicans and rubes from middle America could destroy us so easily?  Oh, and women, kiss your reproductive rights goodbye.  In another 10 years I will be surprised if they let you drive.

One last thing.  President Obama could have taken executive action before the election to expose this and he did not for fear of appearing partisan in the election.  It was again, like his earlier failures to see Republicans for what they were in his first term, a failure of leadership that may doom the country.  He was trying to do the moral and right thing by being fair, but this incursion by the Russians may have cost the election and the results as I have documented above require that you take a stand.  He did not.  That has always been his fatal flaw.  Maybe he can gut up and release the torture report before he leaves office before the Republicans try to reinvent that history too.