Monday, February 20, 2017

I need a new default image for Social&Media

The President Only Likes Leaks from Hookers and Wikis

The President Only Likes Leaks from Hookers and Wikis

Continuing with just the (IMHO) under-reported stories, it has become increasingly disconcerting that the orange ass-hat refuses to follow the most basic security protocol: 
"So the only question remaining is how many foreign intelligence services have “pwned” the US president’s phone.

You may recall how he castigated Hillary Clinton for her private email system. Yet his own chronically insecure practices don’t stop him fulminating against all the “illegal leaks” that his nascent administration has already sprung. And he has ordered an internal investigation to find the traitors in their midst."

So, he’s using the full weight of a putsch/purge Justice Department to find whistleblowers, when he may well be the source of some of these leaks. I can’t emphasize how insecure this phone is, and how even newer, commercial, non-hardened phones would be a bigly less-awful choice (but still not acceptable). Fearing for their jobs should something from their department leak, WH staffers have started using a chat app which, by design, deletes messages as soon as they’re read. The problem?

the law governing the management and custody of presidential records. This says that “documentary materials produced or received by the president, the president’s staff or units or individuals in the executive office of the president the function of which is to advise or assist the president, shall, to the extent practicable, be categorised as presidential records or personal records upon their creation or receipt and be filed separately”.
The only time you are allowed to destroy these federal documents is in these scenaria:

(the president) obtains the agreement of the national archivist to the shredding and that, if the archivist does not agree, “copies of the disposal schedule are submitted to the appropriate congressional committees at least 60 calendar days of continuous session of Congress in advance of the proposed disposal date”.
This review-before-delete process is clearly not happening, and democracy loses a little more sunshine. Break the law or lose your job … that’s your choice if you’re working in this administration. Are we great again yet?

The mainstream media IS doing their job badly, just like DJ Trump done said

If the media had really been on the job, they would have jumped all over this story, which I had not previously seen. The GOP put out a “push poll” of jaw-dropping audacity. For those not familiar, a push poll is a persuasion piece disguised as as poll in an attempt to influence the opinion of those being “polled”; if I tried to make up an absurd example, a “question” might be something like “given that Hillary killed Vince Foster, and activist judges refuse to hear the overwhelming evidence that we’ll tell you about later and totally didn’t make up, don’t you think that Hillary belongs in jail instead of the White House?” However, I believe at least one of this “poll” questions exceeds even the most extremely wise-ass example I could dream up:
    “Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?”
This is from the party that shut down the government and nearly destroyed our credit rating just to oppose Obama. Who passed — by far — the least legislation of any congress in history while and because Obama was in office. Whose stated top priorities were “make sure nothing passes” (Tea Party) or “make sure Obama fails to get reelected” (Republicants). Who wouldn’t even consider doing their job of considering a supreme court nominee (and I would like to point out that even saying “we’ll listen to and then reject this awful candidate” — as the Democrats did with Bork — is at least arguably doing your job). The party of Birthers. The …. aggggg … I think I pulled a synapse.

If you’d like to take the poll and distort the results you can do so here, but given that this isn’t about getting input so much as giving it, you won’t accomplish much:

For me, this is the ballsiest part: even if you don’t provide answers to any of the questions, except those requesting your contact info, you end up here at the end of the “poll”:
So, after asking your opinion for you, they then ask you to give to their needy commandant-in-chief. Who actually believes the big-league billionaire DJT needs their money, particularly now that he’s already been elected, especially after claiming he’d run on his own money in the first place? How do I get my hands on their mailing list … I should be able to sell these rubes anything, if they have any money left after being trickled down upon. Sadly, these Dickensians will soon lack even a trumppence (small enough currency to fit in any hand) to donate, or bail them out of debtor prison when they fail to pay their Trump U bills.

Older News: Somehow I missed this tidbit

Betsy "I'm not as harmless as my name sounds" DeVos is the least qualified of all Trump’s appointments so far. The fact that she’s also the perfect pick to destroy the department she heads is not unusual, but unless someone else is pulling the strings, she may lack the competence to gut American education (outside of super-wealthy voting districts). But I just learned this:
Her husband Dick DeVos was a chief executive of the beauty and nutrition giant Amway and her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security company Blackwater.That’s like the perfect storm of evil and hucksterism. Clearly, a fitting choice for this administration. Swamp? Filled.

Executive Order Round-up

I don’t understand how anyone who thought Clinton would be too cozy with Wall Street is OK with this cabinet. I can’t believe we even need a reg to say that your financial advisor should be working for rather than against you, unless one believes that finance is full of evil self-interested people, at which point deregulation of that group of sociopaths may not be a great idea. But this EO tops this week’s list of most-overlooked potential media talking points:
President Donald Trump will halt an Obama administration regulation, hated by the financial industry, that requires retirement advisers to work in the best interests of their clients, while the new administration reviews the rule.I realize they have their hands full, but this is exactly the kind of simple, easy-to-follow, not-easily-alternatively-interpreted ruling that the press can put in front of someone who thinks Trump has their economic interests at heart, in order to prove that corporations are the ones being looked after here.

And while I don’t really have a dog in this fight, I don’t see how the base’s communal head failed to explode at this EO after all the “takers” rhetoric used to get Trump into office:
Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants.

I welcome your comments, but before you say “well, Obama was also busy with the EOs when he started” I need to preempt you with these questions: were those EOs designed to push the bounds of the constitution, and reshape the power wielded by the executive? Were they this disruptive and debatable, or were they primarily repealing the previous administration’s EOs (the most common use of an EO)? Remember: the plural of anecdote is not data.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump, That Bitch

This is an inevitable topic for this blog … which exists so I wouldn’t rant anywhere people might accidentally see the rant. This topic is so partisan as to no longer be subject to debate, it seems, so by definition is a waste of typing (and reading). If you think our small-handed cheeto-faced overlord is presidential, if you are immune to (verified) facts, data, or anything different than what you want to hear, regardless of its truth or the peril in ignoring it, then any discussion more elevated than primate feces throwing will be wasted on you, and you’ve put us in a lose-lose situation where the only way to change your mind is to resort to the same manipulation (the one true talent I will grant Mr. Drumpf) that I’m so currently appalled by. I realize politics have caused a rift in this country, and we should all hold hands, but I don’t see how the opinion that Trump is a good president is any more reconcilable to me than a discussion of women’s choice would be to someone who considers all abortion (and maybe even all birth control) murder which damns you to an eternal lake of fire (although at least I wouldn’t have to suffer the cognitive dissonance of holding that opinion in one hand, and a picket sign saying “keep government out of our personal lives” in the other).

So the primary obstacle to me finally writing something on this topic would seem to be the pointlessness of preaching to either the choir or the mob holding the pitchforks. But really, the reason it took so long to start this thread is that I didn’t know which stray piece of the regurgitated furrball which is the Republicant(tm) platform (and I include disenfranchisement and reality distortion as planks in that platform) to grab onto first. Do I gleefully point out to the rubes that fell for his rhetoric that they’re going to be the first to get screwed over? [no, because they’re immune to fact and argument and will be happy to blame their reaming on immigrants if they’re told to do so] Do I focus on Trump the manipulator, or document his “tell,” which is the 2nd grade schoolyard tactic of calling someone else out when you know there’s a risk of you getting busted for the same? [no, because the manipulatable will continue to be manipulated by the better manipulator, and as Scott Adams has shown, pointing out manipulation is the ultimate Push-Poll-style way to manipulate, and it’s so much easier (and entertaining) to manufacture bullshit than unpack it] Do I enumerate the most glaring constitutional failures, the indications that the election was stolen in a hanging-offense-ive way, the lies-as-talking-points, the failure of a single Republican to grow a constitutional spine or pretend they represent people-not-business, the flaws of an electorate that considers the 2nd amendment sacrosanct but the document which contains it a fucking chinese menu where you pick one distortion from column A and hold the due process clause from column B, please? His failure to obey the emoluments clause, on a daily basis? The swamp he’s filling, or the “best people” he’s surrounding himself with? The government he’s fixing by lighting it all on fire? The basic lack of English spelling and grammar you’d expect from a graduate of one of the better schools in this country? [no, no, and no … because my mind melts just trying to enumerate everything that’s gone wrong in less than a month]

In spite of my personal despair, some people haven’t given up the fight, and in spite of hollerin’ for years that educated urban high-income liberals don’t have a clue what the rest of “their” country looks/thinks/acts like, so shouldn’t be surprised by the Tea Party or its bastard offspring, I would never say I truly understand how this country works (see also: Trump is now our president), or that all resistance is futile. So I’ve chosen to start with the small awfulnesses that you may have missed. Part of the Trump parade is to throw so much shit at the wall that you can’t possibly point out which parts of the wall are shit-free before more shit arrives. He plans on using fatigue, overload, and false compromise from absurd initial positions to advance his agenda, and part of the plan has been to make it hard to finish unpacking one lie before you have to deal with another. But we all have our own triggers and pet causes. Maybe one of these items will encourage you to do the work to convert the mythical red-state-neck that is subject to nuanced reason. Good luck with that.

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before

Some of this will not be news to the masochistically well-read, but I bet there’s at least one new tid-bit in here for everyone. If you’ve see something (small but irritating, and it’s not one of Trump’s hands grabbing your p*ssy), say something (to me, so we can keep a running total).

The Muslim ban that’s not a ban, and not targeted at Muslims? Giuliani himself said that a Muslim ban is exactly what they want, but they know they can’t have it per se, so Trump asked him how to reframe it so it might hold up in court:
[I think if you want to make any headway with the alt-righteous, you need to quote their heroes when making a point, although Trump seems to get a pass on anything approaching consistency … he’s so anti-establishment that now that he’s the establishment he must regularly contradict himself to stay on point]

The ban (or “ban”) only affects countries with no known terrorist ties to events on US soil in at least 40 years.
    In total, Saudi citizens killed 2,369 Americans between 1975 and 2015, according to CATO. It doesn’t affect any country in which Trump has business interests (including those countries responsible for 9/11, the USS Cole, etc.):

Protip: Somalia is NOT a jihadist foreign power hell-bent on destroying America … it’s a failed barely-nation-state hell-bent on not falling apart from within. Most of the other 6 countries are those we’ve invaded, fought a proxy war with, or destabilized, including at least one where we killed their democratically elected leader (yes, Virginia, the greatest country in the world does that kind of shtuff). As Yemen recently learned, it’s probably more important to focus on keeping Americans out of your country than worry about getting to America.

But this is all irrelevant, because the Muslim ban was revoked, right? Wrong. Parts of the EO were rejected by the courts, but the rest is still official USA policy. Refugees, especially widowed women and orphaned children, who are the least of our worries, are still denied entry. After the ban-which-isn’t-a-ban was “lifted,” dual nationals residing in allied countries were still being denied transit through the US. In at least one case, simply having a stamp in your passport from a not-really-banned nation, and traveling from one allied nation to another on an allied nation’s passport was enough to end your trip [in this case, this is a well-known TV announcer and beloved sports star and who took a day trip to Iran participate in a charity football match]:

Existing visas — promises of admission from our country — were revoked. For some people, this can mean losing their life savings, as the trip to their new country was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For others, this means limbo in the no-nation which is an airport security area. For others, it could mean being sent back to a country they fled for reasons of asylum, and possible death or torture … in those cases, these people are specifically at risk for either aiding the US in the global war on terror or speaking out against governments that Trump is denouncing.

Speaking of terrorists, the official terrorist-action list will soon focus only on Muslims, specifically excluding any domestic, white (supremacy) terror (e.g., Dylan Roof). I feel safer already.

Some white house staffers were removed for failing their FBI background check. But like with Betsy “how do you spell P-U-B-L-I-C S-C-H-O-O-L” DeVos, the loyal fail upward:
One of the dismissed staffers includes Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling, the daughter of President Trump’s Florida campaign manager. She will instead get a job at the Treasury Department.Apparently, Treasury isn’t an important department … which is odd, since Trump seems hell-bent on dismantling and/or defunding all the other ones.

Steve Bannon is Trump’s Dick (Cheney, that is). This respecter of the constitution labeled America’s Free Press “the opposition”. 1st amendment, it was nice being able to write about you.

A recurring theme of the Republicants: Defund, then Dismantle. Once you set something up to fail, you can point out it’s a failure, and then throw it away.

Trump pulled ads for Obamacare that had already been paid for, and in spite of that, enrollments still rose.

The IRS has been instructed by the white house not to enforce a provision of Obamacare (which >1/3 of americans still don’t realize is the same as the ACA) designed to ensure enough participation to make the math work (but still less than the 100% participation that allows single-payer to work in every other industrialized country). Meanwhile, provisions to ensure that poor sick people get filtered are being added.

Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but not little hands, apparently.

After harping on Hillary’s email server, which wasn’t hacked (while the state department’s servers were), the Donald was using an entirely insecure phone, which he insists on keeping: on the available information, the working assumption should be that Trump's phone is compromised by at least one—probably multiple—hostile foreign intelligence services and is actively being exploited. …anyone around the President should presume they are being actively recorded by hostile powers, regardless of location, unless they are positive the phone is out of the room.
During the campaign, Trump went so far as to ask Russia to provide the emails that Hillary claimed were personal (or, in other words, asked a hostile foreign power to subvert critical American intelligence agencies, the exact thing they were saying Clinton was risking by running her own server). Scott Pruitt, Trump’s horrific choice for the EPA (unless you are trying to accelerate the Rapture by making your backyard a cesspool of toxic waste), has refused to turn over his emails with oil and energy companies prior to his nomination, in spite of a valid public records request.
Oklahoma district court judge Aletia Haynes Timmons concluded “there really is no reasonable explanation” for why Pruitt’s office had not complied with the request for his emails. Timmons ordered Pruitt to turn over the records by Tuesday and to comply with other open records requests by the group in 2015 and 2016 within 10 days.
And while I can’t blame Trump for this, this morsel tells you all you need to know about the future of our democracy: 

“Though Pruitt ran unopposed for a second term in 2014, public campaign finance reports show he raised more than $700,000, much of it from people in the energy and utility industries.”

Just as Republicans hoped they could blow enough smoke around the Clintons that someone would conclude there must have been a fire, the firing of Flynn is not the sole piece of evidence that Trump has connections to Russia, and that Russia has something on some Americans, including, quite likely, our draft dodging commander-in-chief. [When asked which foot his deferment-earning bone spurs were in, he replied along the lines of, “I don’t know, it’s in the records, you can look it up.” I have bone spurs — which are in some cases surgically treatable — but I can promise you I’m reminded of the remaining spurs’ location on a daily basis, and have the scars to remember the removed one by.]

We all believe that there’s not nearly enough info to conclude that we know the pissgate story to be true (although it’s clear to anyone paying attention that if this scandal had involved a Clinton, it would be gospel in huge swaths of the country, just as we all know Saddam was responsible for 9/11). It just sounds like something that would come from the other camp (a la Vince Foster was killed by Hillary). However, the person that put together the dossier is not only a respected MI6 agent with years of not-nutty field work under his belt, he was the guy the FBI used to investigate FIFA, and he cracked an organization that had stayed immune from investigation for years, leading to hundreds of arraignments from a dozen countries in several industries, in one of the biggest corruption scandals in history. The dossier is the work of a highly competent and credible individual, with no apparent axe to grind, and was the result of business-as-usual opposition research.

But it’s not like there’s just a trickle of Russian ties and influence … there’s a golden stream of innuendo. Trump has had to turn on his own intelligence agencies in order to discredit in advance what he knows they already know (again, there’s that “tell”: before the agencies release info that damages Trump, Trump downplays their importance, independence and competence, so if/when the story finally comes out Trump can say “proof of what I was saying” rather than having to defend what’s being said. Same story with calling the non-alt-right press “fake news” and “traitorous” in advance of anything negative they might report.)

Flynn was not the first to go, either.

Paul Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign chairman last August amid reports of his attempts to align Trump's policies with Russian interests;

And Manafort clearly trained under Trump (“no one knows how many people were at the inauguration because no stats are kept, but we know that ours was the biggest”), and in the course of a single paragraph said that he knows for sure that he never dealt with Russians, and there’s no way to know who the Russians are:
Manafort called the officials' account "absurd" and said he had never had anything to do with Putin's government. Manafort told the newspaper, "It's not like these people wear badges that say, 'I'm a Russian intelligence officer.'" 

Carter Page removed himself as a foreign policy adviser last September, as reports emerged about a visit to Russia and other potential contacts.
And then there’s State Department head Rex Tillerson. Here, the administration isn’t even pretending that they aren’t cozying up to Russia. Russian hacking initially was about anyone-but-Clinton, in response to Clinton’s moves against Russia’s oil deals (with Tillerson’s Exxon), sanctions over their expansion into the Ukraine and Crimea and their ongoing “disputes” in Georgia and Chechnya, and their Olympic doping scandal, all of which Clinton had a role in while occupying Tillerson’s current seat. It was only later, when Trump became a credible candidate, that Russia cared about helping Trump per se. Tillerson, who is supposed to be addressing world-wide issues, will likely focus a disproportionate amount of his time on Russia, and not in the manner you’d treat a hostile government. Putin famously awarded Tillerson the “Order of Friendship,” which in this rare case is not Russian double-speak. The current sanctions against Russia are effective and deserved, but I’ll bet 20 shares of Exxon that they get revoked this calendar year. If you believe these ass-hats when they say “well, I put my stock in a blind trust and quit my job as CEO, so I have no vested interest in helping my former employer” just look at what happened to Haliburton under the Cheney (uh, sorry, Bush II) administration, or the revolving door between top industry and government positions.
Tillerson, a lifetime Exxon employee, came up through the ranks by managing the company's Russia account. Once he became CEO, Exxon bet billions on Russia's vast but notoriously-elusive oil resources through a bold partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft. [which is largely state-run] Russia ha[d] already indicated it would welcome Tillerson being named America's top diplomat. Exxon said it could have lost up to $1 billion due to the sanctions, according to regulatory filings.

State secrets are about secrecy, not security of the state:

And where are the adults in the room, or the calls for Benghazi- (Starr report-, Whitewater-, choose your poison-) style investigations of Russian influence in US elections and politics, a subject that should get every Reaganite up in literal arms? Following Trump’s directives, the Republicants are putting the blame where it clearly lays … at the feet of those who would risk career and even life to point out serious risks to our country (in all fairness, Obama turned the justice department into a whistle-blower-prosecuting machine):

Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who's on the House Judiciary Committee, has a view that’s pretty common in Congress these days … ignore the message if you have issues with the messenger:
"There are some serious legal implications here," Johnson said, "but it has nothing to do with partisan politics. I mean, the leak of highly classified information by what is apparent here — a number of individuals inside our intelligence community — is the illegal act that I think we need to review."
Just as the Bush administration, at the behest of business, made it illegal to photograph or film the operations of any animal factory, be it for food or entertainment … and just as reddish jurisdictions around the country are making it illegal to film police officers violating citizen’s rights instead of doing anything about police brutality and racism (which does in fact exist, as would be expected in any group as large, disparate and powerful as “all licensed-to-kill individuals in a large and heterogeneous nation”) … we now have this piece of scrumptiousness (i.e. tastes like violence of Baby Harp Seal mixed with precariousness of California Condor):
Two weeks into the Trump Administration, thousands of documents detailing animal welfare violations nationwide have been removed from the website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has been posting them publicly for decades.This pattern will be repeated across all agencies, removing data and science from public view, wherever it negatively impacts the businesses that own our government, or might make reelection in any way difficult. This will make doing (or reporting) the right thing even harder, will enable opinion to Trump fact, will enable the continued externalization of business costs to the tax payer (not to mention out-and-out handouts to business), and will ultimately dismantle what’s left of a functioning system of checks-and-balances. In the hands of the EPA or Energy or Treasury, this policy of policy-free government could even cripple or end health (pollution), life (atomic waste/fallout), or a functioning economy (neither Dodd-Frank nor Glass-Steagal shall stay this courier from swift completion of a subordinate debt swap trade), either in this country or around the globe.

And if you need to drink away the next 4-8 years or more (oh, yes, they’re working on ensuring at least 8 years, so expect plenty of ASCII to be tossed down this here sinkhole), these recipes should help.

Friday, February 10, 2017


Dieu merci, il est pomme frites aujourd'hui

Thank God it's French Fryday

Friday, February 3, 2017

I just realized you can title these posts

Every time I hear the expression "over my dead body" I think of this ...