Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: They Come Out At Night

More like Speechwriter for Evil, Speaker for Evil, and Chaotic Evil, to be honest.
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Republican Stupidity Open Thread: David Vitter — The Next Generation

Lovely weather at Kent State, Thursday…

“Free” expression of political ideas…

Charlie Kirk founded Turning Point USA in 2012, when he was 18 years old. Mr. Kirk claims that his dream was to attend the US Military Academy but got rejected, and blamed this on affirmative action. He continued to live in his parents’ home until 2015. Charlie Kirk has compared Turning Point USA to the efforts of MoveOn.org, a progressive 501c4 organization.

Turning Point’s allies include Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and billionaire Foster Friess. Friess also serves on the organization’s advisory council, alongside Ginni Thomas, wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas…

Groups that are aligned with Turning Point include Project Veritas, the Heartland Institute, Freedom Works, and the National Rifle Association.

Charlie Kirk has disavowed any relationship with alt right groups. However, he has written for Breitbart News, and has been associated with Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon for several years. Turning Point has also shown support for former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, including when the organization sponsored him at University of Colorado and Miami University…

Friday night:

Still beats getting an honest job, right, Charlie?

(Yeah, yeah, at least they’re not shooting at their classmates. Yet.)



Open Thread: Richard Spencer, Public Emergency

Richard Spencer is a slimy opportunist who jumped on the “us whites are an imperiled minority” gravy train when Trump’s candidacy demonstrated there was an opening for other grifters. The half-bright cowards and losers who draft into his tailwind can actually be dangerous. Per the Washington Post, “‘Kill them’: Three men charged in shooting after Richard Spencer speech”:

About 90 minutes after Richard Spencer’s speech Thursday at the University of Florida — which generated so much controversy that the governor declared a state of emergency days before the event — a silver Jeep pulled up to six to eight protesters near a bus stop and confronted them, according to Gainesville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Ben Tobias.

The men, whom police identified as white nationalists, threatened the group, making Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler, police said.

One of the people in the group, who were in their 20s and heading home after protesting, hit the Jeep with a baton. It pulled over.

Tyler Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Tex., jumped out with a gun, authorities said. According to the Alachua County sheriff’s arrest report, Colton Fears, 28, and William Fears, 30, of Pasadena, Tex., encouraged Tenbrink to shoot, yelling, “I’m going to f—— kill you,” “Kill them” and “Shoot them.”

Tenbrink fired a single shot that missed the people, police said, and hit a nearby building…

Three guys with guns, versus ‘six to eight’ protestors — truly, the flower of white manhood.

Spencer’s publicity grab seems to have gone off about as expected. Lois Beckett, in the Guardian:

The white supremacist Richard Spencer took the stage at the University of Florida on Thursday after his supporters threatened to sue if he was not allowed to speak.

But minutes after he began to talk, the majority of the crowd of hundreds in the auditorium stood together, raised their fists, and started chanting “Go home, Spencer! Go home, Spencer!”

For the next hour, most of the crowd stayed standing, booing and chanting over Spencer’s remarks as he angrily compared the crowd to a mob and to “immature preschoolers who aren’t ready for ideas that might get a bit challenging”.

“You can’t hide,” the audience chanted back at him, “You support genocide!”

Over the screams and boos, Spencer answered a series of audience questions but spent much of his time berating the crowd, many of them University of Florida students, for heckling him.

“You are trying to shut down a dissident intellectual,” Spencer told the roaring crowd. He reproached them for not appreciating “the most important free speech event of your lifetime”.

At one point, Spencer did a quick little caper onstage, dancing along to the chants against him and waving his arms sardonically…

Spencer is Sideshow Dick — except the Simpsons cartoon character had better writers.
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Disclose & Divest

U.S. journalists sometimes use the phrase “Russian oligarchs” to describe obscenely rich Russians affiliated with Vladimir Putin, who doles out wealth to consolidate power. It’s meant to convey the corrupt, anti-democratic nature of Putin’s regime.

We’ve got our own oligarch problem. While Trump has thus far proved too soft and stupid to replicate a Putinesque regime on American soil, it hasn’t been for lack of trying or scarcity of resources. In addition to the Republican Party, Trump has American oligarchs in his corner, including Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

The Mercers, along with Steve Bannon, are investors in Cambridge Analytica, the shady data company that played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller’s team and the congressional committees are investigating.

The jury is still (technically) out on whether the Mercers colluded with a hostile foreign power to swing the election. But earlier this month, BuzzFeed exposed the Mercers as direct funders of Nazi and white supremacist outreach on behalf of Trump and the Republican Party, via Bannon and his repulsive henchman Milo at the Breitbart hate site.

These Nazi-linked American oligarchs are continuing to amass wealth and influence, largely under the radar — and some of our most well-known institutions are helping them do it via a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies. Jedd Legum and Danielle McLean at ThinkProgress published a terrific piece yesterday about “RenTech” and how foundations, public sector pensions, scientific institutions, etc., are funding white supremacy, whether they know it or not. An excerpt:

Neither Mercer’s involvement in Breitbart, nor his support for Yiannopoulos, nor charges of discrimination, have appeared to negatively impact his business. Renaissance Technologies now manages $45 billion in assets, up from $27 billion at the start 2016, according to Forbes. Outside investors pay a hefty fee for the privilege of accessing a Renaissance fund and a good deal of that money ultimately ends up in Mercer’s pocket.

The identity of Renaissance’s investors has largely remained secret. The company is not obligated to disclose their clients, who are generally required to invest at least $25 million. ThinkProgress, however, has been able to identify numerous investors in Renaissance by identifying institutions that, either voluntarily or by law, disclose how they invest their money. This includes reports from public pension plans, non-profit filings, and university endowment reports.

Here are the 10 RenTech investors ThinkProgress revealed in the piece:

The Public Schools Employee Retirement System of Missouri
Columbia University
Michigan State University
The Employee Retirement System of the City of Providence
Los Angeles Water & Power Employees Retirement Plan
National Academy of Sciences
Baltimore Fire and Police Employees’ Retirement System
The William Penn Foundation
American Physical Society
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

When I was a college student back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, anti-apartheid activists took on universities, pressuring them to divest from US-based multinational companies with South African holdings. Shouldn’t companies run by American oligarchs with Nazi ties get the same treatment?

It’s likely the institutions ThinkProgress revealed as RenTech investors had no idea they’re helping to inject Nazism and other flavors of white nationalism directly into the bloodstream of one of our two major political parties, thus undermining American democracy itself. Well, now they know, and it’s time for them to choose a side.



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: You Can Count on the CIA

… to behave just as it’s always behaved. Tea Party alumni and Saudi Arabian monarchy fan Mike Pompeo showed up at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to thrill the #NeverIran activists with his display of America’s Big Stick(tm). But first, he needed to back up his current master’s Big Lie…

His comment suggested — falsely — that a report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January had ruled out any impact that could be attributed to a covert Russian interference campaign that involved leaks of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the flooding of social media sites with false claims and the purchase of ads on Facebook.

A report compiled by the CIA and other agencies described that Russian operation as unprecedented in its scale and concluded that Moscow’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process and help elect Donald Trump.

But the report reached no conclusions about whether that interference had altered the outcome — an issue that U.S. intelligence officials made clear was considered beyond the scope of their inquiry…

Former U.S. intelligence officials voiced concern over Pompeo’s statement.

“This is another example of Pompeo politicizing intelligence,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. Pompeo “is the most political CIA director since Bill Casey” during the Reagan administration, the former official said. “This significantly undermines the intelligence community’s credibility.”…

Pompeo also threatened “leakers”:

… Pompeo also criticized former U.S. intelligence officials for their television appearances, implying that they violated their oaths and potentially contributed to the leaks of sensitive information.

“There are an awful lot of former CIA talking heads on TV,” Pompeo said, adding that their obligation to remain quiet about their work “far extends beyond the day you turn in your badge.”

His comment seemed to be aimed mainly at former senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration, including James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, who said in a recent interview that Russia’s interference had “cast doubt” on Trump’s win.

“Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory,” Clapper said in an interview on CNN last month. He added that he worried Trump’s perceived focus on the issue “transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here, which is Russian interference in our political process.”…

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rebuked Pompeo for his Russia comments. Wyden said in a posting on Twitter that Pompeo’s views on Moscow had “shifted with those of the president.”
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Open Thread: Social Notes from the Wingnut Wurlitzer Incubator

Can’t be a good sign when your dream candidate would rather play footsie with Steve “Chaotic Evil, Only Less Competent” Bannon. Marc Short’s a tool (and not a sharp one); any locals want to tell us more about Tom Ricketts? From the Chicago Tribune:

The Heritage Foundation has narrowed its search for a new president down to a shortlist of finalists, a group that includes Todd Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, and Marc Short, a senior Trump White House official, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The conservative think tank’s trustees, however, remain torn over their decision. Kay Coles James – a Heritage board member who served as the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under former president George W. Bush and is close to Heritage founder Edwin Feulner – has been mentioned by several associates as someone who could serve in a temporary capacity if the board cannot settle on a candidate…

Heritage’s board includes many wealthy right-wing figures, including Steve Forbes, Rebekah Mercer and Thomas Saunders.

The top job at the influential conservative outpost has been open since May, when Jim DeMint, the Republican firebrand and former South Carolina senator, was pushed out, though Fuelner has been serving as the interim president. The search process is still in flux, and it is not clear if the top candidates under consideration have officially been contacted by the Heritage board – or would even accept the position…

Trump selected Ricketts to serve as deputy commerce secretary, but in April he withdrew his nomination from consideration, citing an inability to untangle his financial holdings to the satisfaction of the Office of Government Ethics.

Ricketts’ father helped finance Future45, a super PAC that spent lavishly for Trump in the final weeks of the campaign, giving the group at least $1 million through the end of September, FEC filings show. Joe Ricketts and his wife, Marlene, also contributed nearly $344,000 to support Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party. The Ricketts’ financial support for Trump was a dramatic reversal from the primaries, when Joe and Marlene Ricketts gave more than $5.5 million to Our Principles PAC, a super PAC that ran a slew of hard-hitting ads against Trump.

Short, the director of legislative affairs at the White House, comes with strong conservative credentials, previously leading Freedom Partners, the political operation for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and before that working for Vice President Mike Pence when was a rising star on the right during his days in the U.S. House.

It is unclear if Short has expressed interest in the job, and he has not met with the Heritage board. But if selected – and if he were to accept – he would represent yet another high-profile departure from Trump’s administration, which has already faced a steady stream of turnover and shake-ups…



So much for General Kelly’s honor…

General Kelly followed the Trump playbook to the letter in a presser this afternoon. Here he is attempting to deflect criticism of his odious boss for the insensitive remarks that upset Sergeant Johnson’s widow to Congresswoman Wilson, the long-time family friend who called Trump out on them:

Kelly’s remarks were carefully considered: He blasts the congresswoman — lord knows the base will lap that up. Not only is Representative Wilson a politician, she’s a black woman: a hate-object trifecta for the Trumpsters. Kelly conveniently neglects to mention the fact that Sergeant Johnson’s wife and mother agreed with Wilson’s assessment.

Kelly pretends to be “stunned” that the congresswoman was “listening in to the sacred call” — as he himself was. Kelly lays the blame for Gold Star families losing their “sacred” status “at the conventions,” either eliding the fact that it was his boss who attacked the Khans or, worse, obliquely attacking the Khans himself. Utterly contemptible.

Everything Trump touches turns to shit. But perhaps General Kelly was shit all along.