Thursday, December 8, 2016

Another Fox Guarding The Chicken Coop

Via the New York Times:

President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the E.P.A. itself.

Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Mr. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”

Mr. Pruitt has been in lock step with those views.

“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

No, dissent is not a crime.  But poisoning our air, water, and soil is and there will be generational consequences when the Everglades turn into strip mines, the Great Lakes become a sewer, and the earth literally trembles in Oklahoma — his home state — from fracking.

So far Trump has nominated an attorney general who is against equal rights, a Secretary of Education who is opposed to public schools, a HUD secretary who is against fair housing, and now this.

Well, maybe this is part of his genius plan to fix immigration: make the country so uninhabitable that no one wants to come here.

Fake News and Real Consequences

I can’t think of anything crueler than this.

A Florida woman who believes the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 children was a hoax was indicted for making death threats to a parent of the one of the victims killed in the shooting, the Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday, in another example of fake news potentially leading to real violence.

Lucy Richards, 57, was indicted on four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison.

Richards, of Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday, the DOJ said.

Richards is accused of making a series of death threats to a parent of one of the children killed in the mass shooting on or around Jan. 10 of this year, according to the DOJ statement.

Richards’ arrest came just one week before the fourth anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Authorities allege Richards sent the individual messages saying “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon” and “LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH,” according to the indictment.

The DOJ did not release the name of the parent, but said the individual lives in South Florida.

The father of the child has spoken up.

TAMPA — Lenny Pozner knew how cruel Internet trolls could be. That became clear to him after he lost his 6-year-old son, Noah, to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, only to have strangers spread conspiracy theories claiming no children died.

But the death threats in mid January were personal. They came by voice mail, spilling into his ear while his two young daughters were nearby.

He remembers feeling chills. He had to stop listening.

“It was hard knowing this darkness is out there,” he said.

Pozner’s initials appeared this week in a federal grand jury indictment charging a Tampa woman, 57-year-old Lucy Richards, with making death threats against him through the phone and Internet. Court records don’t identify Pozner, but he told the Tampa Bay Times he received the threats.

This is just the beginning.

Short Takes

Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after losing referendum.

Two juveniles charged with arson in the Tennessee wildfires.

Fossil fuel ally Scott Pruitt to head E.P.A.

Carrier union boss gets death threats after Twitter attack by Trump.

Building inspector hadn’t been in Oakland warehouse firetrap in 30 years.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

“Authoritarian Tendencies”

Evan McMullin ran as a conservative independent in the election and ran up some pretty respectable numbers in places such as Utah.  Unlike Dr. Jill Stein, he was not a threat to Hillary Clinton.  But speaking of threats, he’s not enamored of Trump’s awkward acquaintance with both the Constitution and the rule of law.

On July 7, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, met privately with House Republicans near the Capitol. I was present as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. Mr. Trump’s purpose was to persuade the representatives to unite around him, a pitch he delivered in a subdued version of his stream-of-consciousness style. A congresswoman asked him about his plans to protect Article I of the Constitution, which assigns all federal lawmaking power to Congress.

Mr. Trump interrupted her to declare his commitment to the Constitution — even to parts of it that do not exist, such as “Article XII.” Shock swept through the room as Mr. Trump confirmed one of our chief concerns about him: He lacked a basic knowledge of the Constitution.

There is still deeper cause for concern. Mr. Trump’s erroneous proclamation also suggested that he lacked even an interest in the Constitution. Worse, his campaign rhetoric had demonstrated authoritarian tendencies.

He had questioned judicial independence, threatened the freedom of the press, called for violating Muslims’ equal protection under the law, promised the use of torture and attacked Americans based on their gender, race and religion. He had also undermined critical democratic norms including peaceful debate and transitions of power, commitment to truth, freedom from foreign interference and abstention from the use of executive power for political retribution.

There is little indication that anything has changed since Election Day. Last week, Mr. Trump commented on Twitter that flag-burning should be punished by jailing and revocation of citizenship. As someone who has served this country, I carry no brief for flag-burners, but I defend their free-speech right to protest — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment. Although I suspect that Mr. Trump’s chief purpose was to provoke his opponents, his action was consistent with the authoritarian playbook he uses.

Mr. McMullin is not telling us anything we didn’t already know or suspect.  What is most troublesome is that Trump enables the people whose knowledge or understanding of the Constitution is limited to a bumper-sticker level of the Bill of Rights: invoking the First Amendment when “Duck Dynasty” gets banned for racism and not grasping the fact that cable TV shows aren’t run by Congress and therefore immune to the prohibition against telling bearded wingnuts to shut up, or skipping the First altogether and landing square on the Second Amendment and staying there.

To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, Trump did not create this climate, he merely exploited it, and he’s hiring people who enable it.

Michael Flynn Jr. — the son of Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — has used his social media platform to amplify unfounded conspiracy theories ranging from President Obama’s purported hatred of Christians to Sen. Marco Rubio’s alleged cocaine habit.

He made headlines Sunday for tweeting that PizzaGate — an unfounded conspiracy theory that Clinton aides are operating a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor — “remains a story” until it’s “proven to be false.”

Flynn Jr.’s unabashed conspiracy mongering — something his dad has also engaged in recently — hasn’t prevented him from forging close ties with President-elect Trump. On Monday, CNN reported that Flynn Jr. “has an official government transition email address,” which indicates he has a role on Trump’s transition team.

Foreign Policy reports that Flynn Jr. “has assisted in personnel vetting, managing his father’s schedule, and fielding transition-related emails for the general, according to a person close to the Trump transition team.” The unnamed source told Foreign Policy that Flynn Jr. also “accompanies his dad to a ton of meetings.”

On Twitter, Flynn Jr. has posted images of himself with his dad at Trump Tower and walking with Trump. His bio links to the Trump transition team’s official webpage.

Now what?

They Go Together

Here’s a couple of headlines from this morning’s New York Times:

new-york-times-conspiracy-headlines-12-06-16The guy in the story on the pizzeria shoot-up got his inspiration from the fake news peddled by the incoming National Security Adviser.

This is what we’re in for.

The other day I compared this mindset to a cross between “Dr. Strangelove” and “Duck Soup” but that was too light-hearted.  This is more along the lines of Franz Kafka on bad acid.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Bring It Up?

Trump got on his Twitter machine the other morning and posited that people who burn the American flag — assuming he’s not talking about the Boy Scouts who respectfully burn them ceremoniously when the flags have outlived their usefulness — should either lose their citizenship or go to jail.

As bizarre as those choices are, and as infuriating both the act and Trump’s reaction to it may be, it is settled law via the U.S. Supreme Court that burning the American flag as an act of protest is protected by the First Amendment.

In a 5-4 decision in 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the right of protesters to burn the flag, with the late Justice Antonin Scalia siding with the protesters. He later said he based his ruling on a “textual” reading of the Constitution.

“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,” Scalia said in 2015 in Philadelphia. “But I am not king.”

The larger question is why did Trump bring it up?  As President Jed Bartlet once noted, is there an epidemic of flag burning going on that we’re unaware of?  Anyone?  Bueller?

It’s more likely that Trump is trying to distract our attention from the current mishigos that is going on during his transition including the hiring of neo-Nazi ideologues and appointing unqualified but rich donors to cabinet posts.  This flag-burning tweet is designed, pun intended, to inflame his white GOP base and deflect their attention from his once-vaunted promises to drain the swamp while he brings in fresh alligators.

In short, by bringing up the occasional act of a scruffy-bearded weirdo burning a flag, he hopes we will ignore the metaphorical destruction he’s doing to the Constitution.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Short Takes

South Korean president offers to resign.

Charter plane crashes in Colombia with 81 aboard; there are survivors.

Suspect at Ohio State posted rant before attack.

Trump said to pick Obamacare opponent to run HHS.

North Dakota governor orders pipeline protestors to leave in advance of winter.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Job Qualifications

I’ve taught in middle and high school and college. I have two advanced degrees, including a PhD. I’ve spent the last fourteen years as a mid-level administrator in the grants department of the fourth-largest school district in the country. So how come I’m not the new Secretary of Education? Because I didn’t donate a shitload of money to the GOP, that’s why.

betsy-de-vos-11-28-16Via.

Short Takes

Trump says he would have won the popular vote if millions hadn’t voted “illegally.”

Bernie Sanders tells GOP to can it about the recount objections.

Gun sales to blacks, minorities soar after Trump’s election.

South Korean leader digs in amid calls for impeachment.

R.I.P. Ron Glass, 71, Detective Harris on Barney Miller; Florence Henderson, Mrs. Brady of The Brady Bunch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

That’s Not How It Works

It’s supposed to sound magnanimous and forgiving that Trump has decided not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, but all it does is show that he doesn’t understand how our government works.  Presidents don’t get to decide who the Justice Department goes after, and it was one of the reasons Richard Nixon was in the running for impeachment in 1974 when he took it upon himself to try.

The only saving grace is that now all those folks in the GOP base who got their jollies chanting “Lock her up!” are now left holding the flaming bag of dog turds.  The guy isn’t even president yet and he’s already conned them.

By the way, one of the annoyances — of many — about the election of Mr. Trump is that we’re going to have to put up with the simpering and galling appearance of Kellyanne Conway as his spokesdroid.  Both her personality and her manner of speaking are better suited for selling bladder-control products on late-night television.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Normalizing Nazis

This is how the descent begins.

WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

These are exultant times for the alt-right movement, which was little known until this year, when it embraced Mr. Trump’s campaign and he appeared to embrace it back. He chose as his campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the media executive who ran the alt-right’s most prominent platform, Breitbart News, and then named him as a senior adviser and chief strategist.

Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House.

While many of its racist views are well known — that President Obama is, or may as well be, of foreign birth; that the Black Lives Matter movement is another name for black race rioters; that even the American-born children of undocumented Hispanic immigrants should be deported — the alt-right has been difficult to define. Is it a name for right-wing political provocateurs in the internet era? Or is it a political movement defined by xenophobia and a dislike for political correctness?

Well, first of all, you stop calling them by euphemisms such as “alt-right.”  They are fascists and racists, and the generally accepted term for them is Nazi.  Not because they are currently members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, but because they adhere to everything that movement once used to take over Europe and kill more than 10 million people purely for their racial or ethnic heritage, their sexual orientation, or that they didn’t meet some perverted standard of purity.  (Ironically, based on the photos from this meeting, many of the participants would have been shipped off to camps for their non-Aryan-ness.)

The more we try to put Twitter-length handles on them and make them sound like some kind of offshoot of a normal political or social movement, the more they will be normalized into our society and the more the news outlets like CNN will treat them as legitimate.

They are Nazis, and the press should call them that.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Previews Of Coming Attractions

If you think that this little uproar over “Hamilton” and Mike Pence is either a one-off or an attempt by Mr. Trump to find a shiny object to deflect from the $25 million settlement he arrived at over the Trump University lawsuits last Friday, I don’t think so.  This is just a sample of what we’re in for.

Overreacting to a curtain speech by an actor in a Broadway musical is one thing; how’s he going to react when someone like the leader of a foreign country doesn’t pay him what he considers to be due deference?

Friday, November 18, 2016

It Worked Before

A surrogate for Donald Trump says that internment camps provide precedent for a Muslim registry:

Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and booster of the President-elect, told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that such a registry was necessary until “we can identify the true threat” posed by Islamic extremists.

“We have in the past,” Higbie said. “We have done it based on race, we have done it based on religion, we have done it based on region.”

Kelly said that this created a “slippery slope” in which “some aggressive law enforcement actor might abuse that list.”

“There is always a case for abuse with this kind of thing,” Higbie replied, before continuing to advocate for it.

[…]

“Come on, you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope,” Kelly said.

Higbie said he was not, and Kelly admonished him, saying, “That’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared.”

“I’m just saying there is precedent for it and I’m not saying I agree with it—”

“You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the President-elect is going to do,” Kelly said, incredulously.

Higbie smiled.

“Look, the president needs to protect America first and if that means having people who are not protected under our constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat, and where it’s coming from, I support it,” he replied.

Yeah, and while they’re at it, we could put them to work.  Wouldn’t have to pay them much.  Arbeit macht frei and all that.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Not Normal

Every president and his (alas, still “his”) administration is different from each other.  Personality, political affiliations, policy goals shape them and make them unique; we expect that.  But there’s a limit and the office usually shapes the occupant more than the other way around to fit within historical, traditional, and normal limits.

But Joshua Foust says that’s about to change.

“Normal,” as a concept, matters. The old adage that it is just the setting on a dryer is not just wrong but misleading. When something is abnormal it is important to understand why. If a person is not normal they could be brilliant or they could be sick, and knowing the difference is the distance between life and death. In politics, too, there is normal and there is abnormal. An insurgent candidate swinging a party or the country right or left is normal — Marco Rubio winning the GOP nomination and the general election would have been normal, for example. But Donald Trump is not normal. In fact, the things he represents, the decisions he has made and is continuing to make, and the entourage he has surrounded himself with, are not normal. They are so abnormal that they look like the opening stages of authoritarianism — something those of us steeped in the study of authoritarian countries recognize like a flashing light at a railroad crossing.

The one thing authoritarians want you to do is to accept that their conduct is normal, even when it is not. They do not want you to yearn for a freer, less oppressive and less corrupt time, and they do not want you to think it odd when, say, a government agency is purged or a bunch of protesters are arrested and vanish into the prisons without ever seeing trial. They want you to think it is normal when the President is openly selling your interests out to a foreign power, or when he is using the levers of government to materially enrich and empower his family. The presumption of normality during abnormal times is one of the most powerful weapons the authoritarian has, and that is why it is so important to recognize how profoundly abnormal Donald J. Trump will be as president. So I assembled a list.

  • Using your Presidential transition website to promote your own business properties is not normal.
  • Calling for millions of federal employees to sign nondisclosure agreements apart from standard government forms is not normal.
  • Blasting journalists with product placements for the labels your child, who is on your transition team, is wearing is not normal.
  • Having a wide range of senior figures in your own political party distance themselves from your transition team, citing the profound irregularity of it and worrying about future ugliness, is not normal.
  • Placing your children in charge of your business empire, then placing them on your transition team, then seeking top secret security clearances for them, is not normal. The conflicts of interest that this represents are almost too many to count, but at a basic level: you do not give someone with a financial interest to work against U.S. policy access to sensitive information — at all, ever.
  • Putting one’s children into senior positions of a government is the behavior of a banana republic, not a constitutional democracy with strong institutions. This is not normal.
  • For a president who ran on his business acumen to refuse to disclose his taxes to the public, which in turn denies anyone the ability to see if financial conflicts of interest are driving his policy decisions, is not normal.
  • Asking if he can decline the President’s salary, so as to avoid paying taxes, is not normal.
  • Owing hundreds of millions of dollars in business debt to a foreign bank and refusing to fully divest yourself from those finances is not normal.
  • Ascending to the White House while your eldest son, who is also on your transition team, and for whom you also seek a top-secret clearance, seeks out seven-digit business deals in Russia, is not normal. When Russia then names the President elect an “honorary Cossack,” it is not normal.
  • Asking a hostile foreign intelligence agency to hack into the emails of your opponent in the campaign is not normal. Refusing to comment while they expand those hacks into other institutions is not normal. Watching that same government’s propaganda network dramatically change its tone in order to benefit the incoming president is not normal. That this foreign government is also the subject of numerous investigations into the President elect’s improper business conduct is not normal.
  • Threatening to cut off Europe from NATO if payment is not received, like a gangster demanding protection money, in a way that benefits said foreign government, is not normal.
  • Chanting for the summary imprisonment of your political opponent despite repeated conclusions that she has committed no crime is not normal. Refusing to back down from that call to summarily imprison her is not normal. Essentially suggesting a show trial before you’ve even assumed office is not normal.
  • Hiring an avowed white supremacist and proud antisemite to be the chief of strategy at the White House is not normal. That the new White House chief strategist has bragged, openly, of his desire to destroy the United States is not normal. That the cofounder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center raised money for this is not normal.
  • Staff participating in authoritarian victim-blaming and antisemitic conspiracism is not normal. Collaborating with cable news channels in that antisemitic conspiracy about protests is not normal.
  • When one of the new administration’s most senior proxies and spokesmen calmly discusses committing war crimes in the Middle East, it is not normal. When he is shortlisted for the Department of State — despite lobbying for terrorists who killed Americans, despotic regimes in the Middle East, and the tyrannical government of Venezuela — it is not normal.
  • When that proxy is simply following in the footsteps of the new President-elect, who has called for reinstating torture and summarily executing the families of alleged terrorists, it is not normal.
  • The leading candidate for the department of education (who himself has no background as an educator or in education policy) openly suggesting to censor speech on universities is not normal. Nominating an oil executive as the Secretary of the Interior is not normal. Nominating a climate change denialist funded by the oil industry to run the EPA is not normal. When the leading candidate for Defense Secretary having a long history of openly racist comments toward his own staff it is not normal.
  • The FBI intervening decisively in the last week of the election to alter its outcome for one candidate is not normal. But the FBI refusing to address the president elect’s violation of sanctions against a communist country is also not normal.
  • When a woman accuses a presidential candidate of having raped her as a child, but then refuses to go forward with her allegations because of a barrage of death threats yet still receives almost no media coverage, it is not normal.
  • It is not normal for a president-elect to have 75 pending lawsuits against him, ranging from business fraud to illegal hiring practices. It is not normal for his lawyers to demand those lawsuits be delayed until after his inauguration for not discernable reason other than to retreat behind the immunity of the office.
  • Relentlessly attacking the legitimacy of the media (to be distinguished from criticizing media conduct) is not normal. Threatening to sue the media because you don’t like being criticized is not normal.
  • Being so steeped in the language of fascism that you and and your staff mirror Hitler (“make the trains run on time“), appeasing Hitler (“America First“), or Mussolini (“drain the swamp“) is not normal.

Look, I gave up at this point. I’m sure all of you can find more disturbing, deeply abnormal things he has said and plans to do.  The point is that this is not normal: it is abnormal. It is a series of giant warning sirens about something fundamentally going wrong with our country. It has nothing to do with right or left, with Republican or Democrat — huge numbers of Republican voters are appalled by what Trump represents.

The entire Trump movement, his oeuvre, is to be Not Normal.  This is what the GOP base said they wanted even when they really didn’t know what they wanted, so they allowed their greed, fear, and gullibility to set them up for the first slick con man to blatantly pander to their abstract nightmares of life in a country where women and minorities actually have a say and where the water doesn’t kill us.

They look at Mr. Trump’s abnormalities as features, not warnings; he’ll shake up the Establishment, he’ll drain the swamp, he’ll throw the bums out.  What will he replace them with?  Well, we don’t really know, do we?  All we know is that it will be terrific and wonderful and we’ll be sick of being rich and successful.

That’s what every authoritarian promises: riches and wonders beyond the dreams of Avarice.  But first we have to get rid of the undesirable elements that are infesting our lives; only after they’re gone do we get our dessert.  And that’s when the body counts begin.

HT to Betty Cracker.

A Perfect Fit

Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama is being considered for cabinet posts.  But the New York Times says he has a problem.

WASHINGTON — In 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, “maybe he is.”

In testimony before Congress in 1986, Mr. Hebert and others painted an unflattering portrait of Mr. Sessions, who would go on to become a senator from Alabama and now, according to numerous sources close to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team, is a potential nominee for attorney general or secretary of defense. Mr. Hebert testified that Mr. Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”

One African-American prosecutor testified that Mr. Sessions had called him “boy” and joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

Mr. Sessions denied calling the lawyer “boy” but acknowledged or did not dispute the substance of the other remarks. The bitter testimony sank his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal district court judge and foreshadowed the questions that Mr. Sessions could face at another set of Senate confirmation hearings if Mr. Trump nominates him for a cabinet position.

He sounds like the right kind of fella for the Trump base: racist, Klan-fan, and steeped in good-ole-boy charm.  He and Steve Bannon would work well together and the Senate should whoop him through.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wait For The Miniseries

Things are getting a little rough over at the Trump transition team.

President-elect Donald Trump, who clashed with leading Republicans throughout his campaign, faced growing tumult in his national security transition team on Monday as key members of his own party appeared to question his views and personnel choices.

Former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a respected voice on national security thought to be a leading candidate to run the CIA, was among those pushed out of the team over the past two days, two individuals with direct knowledge said, in a series of moves that have added to the anxiety across the upper ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The changes came as Trump met Tuesday with incoming Vice President Mike Pence to discuss Cabinet and top White House personnel choices. Pence last week replaced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as head of Trump’s overall transition efforts, and Christie’s associates — who had been Trump’s link to the GOP mainstream for months — now find themselves losing influence.

[…]

A former U.S. official with ties to the Trump team described the ousters of Rogers and others as a “bloodletting of anybody that associated in any way on the transition with Christie,” and said that the departures were engineered by two Trump loyalists who have taken control of who will get national security posts in the administration: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Rogers had no prior significant ties to Christie but had been recruited to join the Trump team as an adviser by the New Jersey governor. At least three other Christie associates were also pushed aside, former officials said, apparently in retaliation for Christie’s role as a U.S. prosecutor in sending Kushner’s father to prison.

The difference between the Trumps and the Medicis is that the Medicis had great taste in art.  Oh, and they actually knew how to run a government.

Monday, November 14, 2016

First Hired

From the Huffington Post:

Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News Network executive chairman known for having white nationalist views ― and who has himself been accused of anti-Semitism ― was named chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday.

Bannon, 62, was taking time off from Breitbart to serve as CEO of the Trump campaign before Sunday’s announcement giving him a senior leadership role in the incoming administration.

[…]

Breitbart has propagated conspiracy theories, like Planned Parenthood having Nazi ties or Clinton aide Huma Abedin being a spy for Saudi Arabia. The website traffics in misogynist and racist stories; it frames women who push back against harassment or gender bias as weak and incompetent and portrays people of color and immigrants as inherently criminal.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) spokesman Adam Jentleson said Trump’s choice of Bannon “signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House. “

“It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion,” he added.

David Duke wasn’t available?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Only Weapon They Have

There’s growing talk among Republicans in the Senate that they won’t consider judicial nominees from a President Hillary Clinton ever.

This all started when Antonin Scalia died last February and the GOP immediately announced that they would hold off consideration of a replacement until, to them, they got a real president in office.  But now that the likelihood is that the Democrats will once again win the White House, well, they won’t allow anyone to be considered.  So they’re going to uphold the Constitution by shitting on it.

Why are they being so confrontational?  Does it not occur to them that someday the tables could be turned and the Democrats would do the same thing to a Republican president?

I think there are a couple of reasons why they think they can do this.  First, they know that the Democrats wouldn’t be such assholes, and if they were, the Republicans would be all over them, screaming like banshees about “defying the will of the people” and weeping crocodile tears about how those meanies are stomping on “the rule of law.”  We saw this kind of sanctimony when the merry band of adulterers and whoremongers were impeaching Bill Clinton so we know they’re capable of it.  Nothing gets you on Fox News faster than righteous hypocrisy, and the more blatant the better.

Second, I think upyernoz at Rubber Hose makes a valid point: the Republicans know that it will be a while before there’s another Republican president.

Currently, the Republicans are at a real disadvantage whenever there is a high turnout election like presidential elections are, and the electoral map gives the Democrats an inherent advantage each presidential election (i.e. the Blue Wall) Those disadvantages are bound to get worse for the Republicans as demographic trends are decreasing their core voters’ share of the electorate while increasing the share of minorities who tend to vote Democratic. The Republicans could try to change the map and make a play for those minorities by catering to their concerns (as the Republican’s autopsy report for the 2012 election advised them to do), but this election has pretty clearly demonstrated that the Republican base won’t tolerate that. So what that leaves them with is a losing hand in every presidential election for the foreseeable future.

Once you assume that Republicans probably won’t recapture the White House, the premise behind compromising on Supreme Court and other judicial appointments evaporates. The growing Republican opposition to letting any Democratic nominees on the court is part of the realization of Republican weakness in the Presidential race.

In short, they don’t need the White House to get what they want.  They have called the tune for the last six years through government shut-down, blocking judicial appointments, gerrymandering the House into guaranteed safe districts, and then blaming the Democrats for nothing getting done, knowing their constituents will not only believe it, they’ll keep re-electing the same people while they chant “Throw the bums out!”  It’s always somebody else’s bum they want thrown out, though.

The Republicans all say it would be wonderful to have one of their own in the White House.  But that would mean they would have to actually get things done, like create jobs, repair the infrastructure, reform the tax code, fix the immigration system.  It’s a lot easier to sit in the cheap seats and piss and moan; why ruin a good thing?