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.

Gather ‘Round, It’s Miller Time! Yuk.

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Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on
the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!
(@realDonaldTrump; 11 February, 2017)

Stephen Miller is a 31 year-old “Trump Senior Advisor,” also (reportedly) a college buddy of alt-right leader, neo-Nazi Trump supporter and white supremacist, Richard Spencer. On Sunday, Feb. 11, 2017, Miller appeared on numerous Sunday TV news shows where, when he spoke, he was clearly reading from cue cards or a teleprompter. He did have an interesting point to make, however, when he pointed out that “. . . our opponents, the media, and THE WHOLE WORLD will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that THE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT to protect our country are very substantial and WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED.” Anything goes, in other words, so long as it “protects our country.” Right. Like just the other day, when ICE caught up with that criminal Mexican ‘illegal’ mom in Phoenix, then immediately deported her to Nogales, Sonora, down on AZ’s southern border. She was a criminal, of course. She had used a phony Social Security number so she could get a job and earn some money to help care for her two (USA-born) children. So she was deported cuz Trump said, and his powers to protect our country get rid of them damn Mexicans WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED.

Sounds like something a white Supremacist might say. Oh. Wait. Speaking of which . . . I almost forgot:

Stephen Miller fought “Islamofascism”: Trump aide founded controversial group in college

A recent review by CNN’s KFile found that Miller helped run Duke’s chapter of the “Terrorism Awareness Project,” an initiative started by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-wing foundation that has ties to anti-Muslim hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

(…)

In high school, Miller focused his attention on his Hispanic classmates, publicly bemoaning the sound of Spanish-speakers in his school’s hallways. When Miller moved across the country for college, he adjusted his sights on the Muslim community.

What makes Trump adviser Stephen Miller so unlikeable?

 [K]eep in mind that Miller spent his teen years harassing Latinos, African Americans and Asians, wrote columns while he was a student at Duke that were so racist his colleagues in Jeff Sessions’ Senate office were stunned, and helped Steve Bannon write the unconstitutional Muslim ban. All of which makes him seem not just deeply unlikable, but ideologically dangerous and a threat to democracy.

Donald Trump’s white nationalist “genius bar”

Donald Trump’s administration is built around a brain trust of white nationalists. To deny that fact is to ignore a crucial element of this national crisis: America’s “greatest generation” defeated Nazism during World War II, and 70 or so years later one of the country’s two leading political parties has injected a more polite version of that poison into its veins and rode to power in Washington on a wave of bigotry and racism. . . .

Miller . . . is a fierce advocate of “ethno-nationalism,” meaning the racist belief that Europe and America must protect their culture and civilization (which are white by default) from outsiders who do not share their “Judeo-Christian values.” Miller echoed those talking points on Sunday talk shows, claiming that “millions” of “illegal aliens” voted against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

When I first saw Miller on the Telly spouting his propaganda as he read from his teleprompter, I kept staring at his face. SO familiar! But why? I’d never seen him before, but still . . .

So I did a little google-digging, came up with this pair of photos:

adolf-eichmann-stephen-miller

Adolf Eichmann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stephen Miller

Ah. Say no more. Now I get it. Resemblance — both in appearance and philosophy — is, to say the least, uncanny. Food for thought, sotospeak. And Trump gushes over Miller in “unpresidented” fashion. What’s up with that, I wonder? Lessee; what’s the word?

Achtung!

Javohl, Hair Furor.

******

“What luck for rulers, that men do not think.”
(Adolf Hitler)

******

Federal “so-called” Judges. Can they be fired for ruling against Trump?

“The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour” (U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1.)

“Good behaviour” is undefined in the Constitution. So the bottom line is: Federal Judges can be impeached. Right now, Republicans control the House. They have the power to ramrod through impeachment of any judge that rules against Trump.

They don’t have enough votes in the Senate to convict and remove from office. But nothing’s to stop them from making political footballs out of federal judges, then blaming the Librul Democrats in the Senate for refusing to get rid of judges who, in their mine, rule against the Constitution – i.e. “bad behavior”. It also sends a message to the judiciary – rule in our favor or we’re going to haul you to Washington and make a public spectacle out of you, putting you in the worst light possible. These are the tactics of an authoritarian government to make the judiciary cow to the Commander in Chief.

And if I could think of this, you can bet your bottom dollar Steve Bannon has given this more than a little thought.

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.