The Watering Hole, Monday, February 20th, 2017: ICYMI

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A few articles from the past week:

I noticed something in one of Raw Story’s articles on Stephen Miller, and had to look into it:

“Though he denies it, Miller is believed to have written a significant portion of the travel ban, with some help from Steve Bannon and congressional aides sworn to contractual secrecy.[emphasis mine]

The Daily Mail article linked to in the above excerpt had more:

“Senior House Judiciary Committee staffers helped produce President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban, even as top lawmakers and cabinet heads were left in the dark.

The aides were required to sign nondisclosure agreements as they labored in secret to help draft the ban, Politico reported.

Trump’s transition brought in the Hill aides during the transition, while it was still rushing to staff the administration.”

And the Politico story had even more:

“The work of the committee aides began during the transition period after the election and before Donald Trump was sworn in. The staffers signed nondisclosure agreements, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Trump’s transition operation forced its staff to sign these agreements, but it would be unusual to extend that requirement to congressional employees.”

Now, wait a minute – since when do the president-elect’s staffers and congressional aides sign non-disclosure-agreements?  Aren’t any of them subjected to any vetting process, any background check, in order to work for the president-elect, or for congresspersons and congressional committees?  These are all government public servants, not trump’s TV employees!

I honestly don’t know anything about the legalities of this.  Both the Daily Mail and Politico articles are from the end of January, but I don’t remember hearing about this then. Considering that the articles also state that the congressional aides’ ‘bosses’, such as both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen, were not consulted, I’m a little surprised by that.  Am I just a suspicious cynical alarmist, or is this secretive ‘reacharound’ to bypass normal procedural channels just one more example of trump’s delusional version of presidential power, one that just slipped by amidst the hundreds of other trump delusions?

(sigh)  However…

Maybe there’s hope that there may be a REAL investigation into the trump-Russia cabal. From the Raw Story article:

[T]he Senate Intelligence Committee has ordered more than a dozen individuals and agencies to preserve records related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

According to the Associated Press, a congressional aide confirmed that the committee had sent formal requests that all materials related to Russian meddling be preserved.

The AP notes that the letters were a bi-partisan affair with both the panel’s chairmen, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and vice chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) signing on.

The Friday letters come on the heels of a closed door meeting with FBI Director James Comey who spent nearly three hours answering questions Friday afternoon in a secure room in the Senate basement used for classified briefings.”

Finally, some humor amidst the destruction of our world as we know it: if you didn’t catch John Oliver last night, here’s Raw Story’s thread covering it. Enjoy.

This is our Open Thread – say anything.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 15th, 2017: First Hypocrisy, Now Treachery

It’s been well known for a long time that the GOP is the party of hypocrisy–hence the acronym IOKIYAR. Now, with all of the trump cabal’s innumerable Russian connections, it appears that the GOP is also the party of treachery.

Despite the fact that several U.S. Intelligence agencies have already been investigating key trump personnel, none of the pertinent House and Senate committees want to do a damn thing about it, with the minor exception of Kellyanne Conway’s “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. No, instead, GOP leaders are either silent on the subject, or say that we should just “move on” now that Flynn has resigned. Apparently they do NOT give a damn that trump knew all about Flynn’s conversations with Russian contacts, in particular the call that Flynn made, on the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia for interfering with our elections, to let Russia know that president trump would lift those sanctions.

Would ANY Democrat, even one not running for the Presidency, get away with something like this? FFS, the GOP held, what, seven or eight hearings on Benghazi, and went fucking nuts over Hillary Clinton’s emails, none of which in any way, shape or form, endangered the security of the United States. Yet the fact that trump has surrounded himself with people who have, in many cases, had longtime relationships with Russian officials doesn’t seem to worry our ever-so-patriotic Republican majority “leaders.” “Move along, nothing to see here, looky-loos” and “but what about Hillary and her emails” are the typical responses from the GOP.

Well, FUCK YOU, GOP, fuck you hard with something sharp. You are all useless pieces of shit, and I hope that not only does trump go down in flames, I hope he drags you all to hell with him.

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Now, just for laughs, here’s an article from the Christian Post that I know you’ll find amusing. I mean, just the title alone is hysterical: “God Delivered US from ‘Spirit of Witchcraft Through Trump”. Here’s an excerpt:

Appearing on “The Jim Bakker Show” on Tuesday, Christian thought leader Lance Wallnau spoke about President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington that followed, saying God used Trump to deliver “the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office.”

“What I believe is happening is there was a deliverance of the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office,” said Wallnau, an evangelical business strategist and leader of the Lance Learning Group consulting firm in Dallas.

“The spirit of witchcraft was in the Oval Office, it was about to intensify to a higher level demon principality, and God came along with a wrecking ball, shocked everyone, the church cried out for mercy and bam—God knocked that spirit out, and what you’re looking at is the manifestation of an enraged demon through the populace,” he added.

“This is biblical,” Wallnau, author of God’s Chaos Candidate, added. “Many of the disruptions we are gonna see are going to be the evidence that we are seeing the awakening already began.”

Wallnau, who holds an M.A. from South Western Theological Seminary in Texas, predicted before the election that Trump was the “prophesied president.” He earlier explained that he came to this conclusion after attending a widely-publicized meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders at the Trump Tower last year.

Giving an address at the 3rd Christian Inaugural Gala hosted by Women for a Great America at the Washington Hilton along with prominent Christian speakers and authors last month, Wallnau claimed that when he returned home to Dallas following the meeting with Trump, the Lord put the biblical passage of Isaiah 45 on his heart and told him that “the 45th president is Isaiah 45.”

[He actually had to use Google to confirm that trump would be the 45th president – and these evangelicals are demanding the right to preach politics from the pulpit?]

This is our Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 6th, 2017: Don’t Forget RUSSIA

Two recent articles to remind us that at least Senator Ron Wyden has our back when it comes to investigating Vlad the Imputin’s Russians having hacked our election for trump.

First, an excerpt from David Corn’s article at Mother Jones:

Since Trump has moved into the White House, there has been less public chatter in political and media quarters about the Russian hacking that, according to the US intelligence community, was mounted by Putin’s spies as part of an extensive clandestine operation to undermine the US presidential campaign in order to benefit Trump. The same goes for allegations that Trump or his associates interacted with Russian officials or intermediaries during the campaign. After the election, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said “there were contacts” between Trump’s team and Russian officials, and various news reports have noted that the FBI has examined connections between Trump associates and Putin-allied Russians—without offering much detail about these FBI inquiries. Yet in the first, chaos-filled weeks of the Trump presidency, the story of Russian meddling in the election—after blowing up with the disclosure that President Barack Obama and Trump were briefed about private intelligence memos alleging Russia had run a yearslong secret program to cultivate Trump and gather compromising intelligence on him—has seemed to move off the center stage.

Second, a diary by Mark Sumner at Daily Kos adds commentary to the above Mother Jones story:

“Now that the intelligence committees are supposedly on the case—and with the FBI not discussing whatever inquiries it may be holding on this front—the controversy (or scandal!) has been nudged to the back burner. This often happens in Washington: a secret investigation is launched, the story goes dark.”

“Helping cast those shadows is a press that seems to have instant amnesia about anything Russia related, to the extent that Russian forces attacking towns in Ukraine just one day after Trump and Putin had their contents unknown chat, wasn’t enough to push aside Trump’s latest tweets on television ratings. The connections between Putin and Trump, Manafort, Flynn, Page, and others in the regime seldom merits a mention.”

We HAVE to keep this investigation front and center, and demand that our Congresscritters and Senators not only support the search for the truth, but inform we, the people, of that truth, no matter the cost. This is OUR country, OUR democracy, and OUR freedom at stake. We cannot let this issue fade into the background, despite all of the distracting crap continuously popping up in the foreground. There are many fights to fight in this travesty of a presidency, but said presidency’s legitimacy is the biggest fight that we all face.

This is our Open Thread–say whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 23rd, 2017: Freedom of the Press

We’ve all ripped both network and cable news organizations for their role in aiding and abetting this abomination of a Presidential election. But since the Orange Shitgibbon has won, and he and his spokesgoblins are taking more active steps to label any accurate and unflattering reporting of their words and activities as “fake news” by the “dishonest press”, this should be considered a very serious attack on the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. After having previously, in a fit of pique, revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials during the campaign, now the new Trump administration has shut down access to and from CNN.

According to a MediaMatters article:

President Donald Trump and his team continued their unprecedented attempts to delegitimize and blacklist CNN by refusing to have a representative appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the other major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.
At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.”

 

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect on January 11, Trump refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, calling his network “fake news” and “terrible.” Following the event, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted to threatening to remove Acosta from the press conference and later demanded an apology. Trump ally and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to the incident by asserting that Trump should use the altercation to “shrink and isolate” CNN and eventually “close down the elite press.” Acosta and his colleagues from across the media condemned Trump’s treatment of CNN.

 

The Trump team’s refusal to appear on CNN came one day after it declined to air the live feed of Spicer’s first press conference after the inauguration, where Spicer blatantly lied about the size of inauguration crowds. According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “CNN’s refusal to take the live feed suggests executives there are reluctant to put false statements on air, and, what’s more, do not think the new White House press representative is entirely credible.” From the January 21 report:

 

“CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst,” said Danna Young, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies politics and the media. “Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

 

To be certain, news outlets routinely make decisions about whether to air press events live, usually based on projections about news value. But this press conference, held just a day after the President’s inauguration, would have been a hot prospect for a cable-news outlet, and could have sparked hours of debate and follow-up on CNN’s schedule. In an unusual and aggressive maneuver, CNN aired its regular weekday lineup this Saturday, underscoring heavy interest in breaking news of a series of massive protests by women across the nation in response to Trump’s presidency as well as the new President’s first few days in office.

While I am still outraged by the fact that CNN had hired Corey Lewandowski fresh from the Trump team campaign, and paid the lying POS good money to NOT say anything bad about Trump, maybe, just maybe, CNN can redeem itself by employing real investigative journalism. There’s a lot to dig into in all aspects of Trump’s life/taxes/business practices/Russian connections/conflicts of interest, and a 24-hour news network is what’s needed to get to the bottom of Trump’s “alternate facts” swamp.

What do you say, CNN? Do the right thing, or cave to a tyrant?

This is our Open Thread–comments welcome.

The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 17th, 2016: Men of a Lesser God

With so many evangelical “Christians” having supported Trump in the election, I was curious to find out how they’re reacting to the intelligence community’s reports of Russia’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.

The Christian Post is totally silent on the topic. They’re still more concerned with: abortion; not being allowed to discriminate against gays; abortion; the “War on Christmas” (Bill O’Reilly says it’s over, “we won”, although Franklin Graham seems to disagree); and abortion – not necessarily in that order.

Raw Story had a recent article about Franklin Graham praying for Trump to succeed in ‘bringing back jobs’ (nobody on the right seems to notice that President Obama managed to create a few million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to [what should be] a fairly acceptable rate, despite the Republican blockade.) The article briefly mentions Vladimir Putin. Two quick excerpts, each of which earns its own separate (but brief) rant:

“During an interview on Tuesday, Graham praised Trump for finding a way to “work with the thugs” like Russian President Vladimir Putin “so that we can have peace in this world.”

First, I realize that, at the time of the interview, Graham may not have heard – or paid attention to – the stories that were coming out about exactly HOW Trump had been “finding a way to ‘work with the thugs’ like…Putin”, BUT, did/does Graham actually think that a Trump/Putin cooperative (or whatever you want to call it) could possibly bring about “peace in this world”?

Second, in the last few years, bigoted conservatives have re-defined the term “thug” to mean “black man.” I certainly haven’t seen any attempt by any conservatives trying to ‘find a way to work with’ those “thugs” – well, except by killing or imprisoning them, which I don’t consider to be ‘working with.’

“That’s the problem with the politicians in Washington,” he said. “They sit down there and they do nothing. Now we’ve got a man who’s coming into the White House who wants to get things done. And I hope and I pray — we all as Americans, we need to pray for the president-elect and vice president-elect.”

Mr. Graham (I refuse to use the honorific “Reverend”, he’s no more reverent than I am), we’ve HAD a man in the White House for eight years who has wanted to “get things done”, but the Republican-controlled Congress forced our entire federal government to “sit down there and…do nothing.” So go pray for your own soul, god-boy, if you have one, and leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe if you start repenting now, your god might forgive you for not listening to his son.

Graham was interviewed by Christian Today on November 13th on his reaction to Trump’s election victory. Some excerpts:

In an interview with Christian Today, Graham said there was “no question” that God had a hand in the election of Trump as the next President of the United States, and predicted a “huge impact” from his nominations to the Supreme Court.

He revealed that Trump had told him personally that he will repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment of 1954, which prevents church leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from the pulpit.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump is a “changed man” from when he made his notorious lewd comments about women…

“What you see is what you get. Politicians are pretty good at smiling and being one thing in public and then when the doors are closed, they are different people.”

Donald Trump, by contrast, is the same in private as he appears on television, Graham said.

“He’s not polished, like a lot of politicians. He’s a little rough around the edges. But he means what he says. People need to understand that he’s a very powerful person, very strong, he’s got a very good family, great children. He’s going to put together maybe one of the best teams in Washington that we have seen in years.”

Graham said there was no question that God a hand in the election. “The vast majority of the evangelical community supported Donald Trump because he has said he is going to support Christians, not only at home but around the world.

“So when we see Christianity being attacked worldwide, not just by militant Muslims but by secularism, it’s refreshing to have a leader who is willing to defend the Christian faith.”
~~~~~
One aspect of the election result that was truly a surprise to so many was that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians. Some students at Liberty even set up a petition to distance themselves from Trump and the support he received from Falwell. The petition stated: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

According to Graham, the key to assessing Trump’s character is to look at the people in his team.

“Donald Trump has surrounded himself with strong evangelicals and for me as a Christian, I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Graham did not say whether he considers Trump to be a Christian or not – “Only God really knows a person’s heart” – but, “You can tell a lot about a person by the people that they surround themselves with. Our current president claimed to be a Christian but you don’t see that in the people around him.

“Trump has strong evangelical Christians surrounding him. I’ve known Ben Carson for many years. He is a wonderful man of God. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas – another fine Christian gentleman. Mike Pence. These are the people that he surrounds himself with.”

Graham also knows Mike Pence and has spent time with him: “He is a man of God, he is a very strong evangelical. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some strong Christians which is very encouraging.”

Graham said: “He’s [Trump] told me that he’s going to work to have that repealed. It will be huge. I think that the Johnson Amendment was a stupid thing. It was somewhat racial in the sense that Johnson did not want black pastors at that time to speak out against him.”

He and many other evangelicals welcome the prospect of that change which will have a massive impact on the way churches and other religious groups engage in politics.

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I can’t even continue reading this hypocritical, delusional, un-American, unconstitutional idealization of an American Theocracy. I glanced further down in the article, and knew I would go ballistic if I continued. As it is, I had to take a 1/2 xanax and lie down for a while before I could finish writing this post.

How can anyone say that “Trump is a changed man”, then say that “what you see is what you get”, when what we see is the same loudmouthed, bigoted, ignorant blowhard that we’ve seen for the past, say, 30 years? How can Graham say that “only god really knows a person’s heart” to gloss over Trump’s obviously un-christian views on the one hand, yet label Obama as not being a christian, without such a caveat?  And the “surprise” “that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians”, that doesn’t trouble these die-hard two-issue – abortion and ‘teh gay’ – “men of god”? Theirs is not a god that our country should go anywhere near, let alone follow.

When this particular interview with Christian Today occurred, it was only a few days after the election. Yet nothing in my searches in the time frame SINCE the election indicates that ANY of the right-wing evangelicals have any public opinion about a foreign government intervening in the U.S. Presidential election on behalf of one candidate. Until Graham or any of these bully-pulpit religious fanatics denounce Trump’s tightly-woven bond with Russia, I can only conclude that they are happy to be associated with any monstrous regime.  As long as they can get their way on those two issues, they’ll bow down to any despot. Fuck them and the four horses of the apocalypse that they rode in on.

This is our very late Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 7th, 2012: Monday Mix

Today’s mix is comprised of some recent articles which caught my eye on Foreign Policy Magazine and on Yahoo!News.

When I first clicked on Foreign Policy’s link entitled “A brilliant long rant about Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks, I thought it was going to be Tom Ricks ranting about Iraq. However, it turned out to be Ricks’ brief introduction to an upcoming book called “The Long Walk” by Brian Castner. Ricks’ article includes a dozen or so evocative quotes from the book which, although worlds away from my own personal “Year from Hell”, touched a nerve of recognition in my brain. “The Long Walk” sounds like it will be well worth the read; I also found the comments after the article fascinating, and I strongly suggest reading those as well.

For all of the dog lovers amongst us, one of FP’s “Photo Essays” is “War Dogs of the World.” Not exactly cute puppy pics, but fascinating shots of soldiers and their canine teammates.

Two connecting articles at Yahoo!News drew my attention: in chronological order, a generic-drug manufacturer in India will be copying, and undercutting the price of, a cancer drug for which Bayer hold a patent, obviously pissing off Bayer. I’m rooting for the Indian drug company, Cipla, since their motivation is humanitarian: they’ll be selling the drug for about 1/30th of the cost of Bayer’s version.

Lastly, three Putin stories: Today Vladimir Putin will be sworn in as President of Russia, and apparently not all Russians are happy about this. And on a lighter(?) note, another “Photo Essay” from FP, titled “Putin Forever.”

Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — discuss one of the above topics, or whatever’s on your mind!