Oh, Yay, We’re Gonna Relitigate Watergate Now

Sensible people understand that Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon — and thereby eliminating any chance of airing the true extent of the nitwitted criminality of the entire Nixon Administration and its GOP supporters — was a national tragedy. It allowed all the low-level CREEPsters to scurry away into wingnut-welfare hidey-holes from which they would reemerge, stronger and ever more venal, first during the Reagan Adminstration (aka ‘Iran-Contra’), and later during the Cheney Regency. What the country needed in 1974 was the equivalent of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, where amnesty might be granted, but only after a full examination of the crimes and their impact on civil society.

Of course the criminals in the permanent Republican Party, and their nitwit courtiers among the Media Village Idiots, persist in their self-defensive fantasies that Watergate was a cruel and misguided assault on a great man and his loyal acolytes. Since paranoia, racism, and a lust for cruelty are never out of fashion in the authoritarian fringes of the far right, whole generations of would-be Haldemans and Ehrlichmans have nursed ambitions to avenge Tricky Dick… and it seems that they may be seizing upon the President-Asterisk and his klown klavern as their last best hope.

As a leading indicator, Drum-Major-General and Bothsider-in-Chief David Brooks meeps out a preemptive call for Truth and Honor, once again, to submit to the needs of The Narrative. After hastily dismissing both the Democratic tactic of actual resistance to Trump’s no-longer-hidden attempts to subvert our democracy, and the #NeverTrumpist withdrawal into their think-tank boltholes, Brooks declaims that “we” need… another Gerald Ford:

… The third possibility is that the primary threat in the Trump era is a combination of incompetence and anarchy. It could be that Trump is a chaotic clown incapable of conducting coherent policy. It could be that his staff members are a bunch of inexperienced second-raters…

If the current reign of ineptitude continues, Republicans will eventually peel away. The Civil Service will begin to ignore the sloppy White House edicts. The national security apparatus will decide that to prevent a slide to global disorder, it has to run itself.

In this scenario, the crucial question is how to replace and repair. The model for the resistance is Gerald Ford, a decent, modest, experienced public servant who believed in the institutions of government, who restored faith in government, who had a plan to bind the nation’s wounds and restored normalcy and competence.

Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance…

… and “we” will find them, never doubt, among the comers at the Heritage Institute, the young sprigs of the National Review, and whichever statehouse seatwarmers the Kochs and Mercers decide are ready for a bigger platform.


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Late Night Scumbags Open Thread: If This Is History Repeating, Did It Have to Be Such A Lousy Farce?

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said….

The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December…

Given his short stay at the top, Mr. Flynn’s case might be quickly forgotten as an isolated episode if it did not raise other questions, particularly about what the president knew and when. Even more broadly, it underscores lingering uncertainty about the relationship between the Trump administration and Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, a subject of great interest given American intelligence reports of Moscow’s intervention in last year’s elections in the United States.

As leaders of both parties said on Tuesday that they expected the Senate to investigate and probably even summon Mr. Flynn to testify, more details emerged about a drama that played out largely in secret inside a White House riven by competing power centers. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, revealed that Mr. Trump had known about concerns that Mr. Flynn lied for more than two weeks before demanding his resignation on Monday night. But Vice President Mike Pence was kept in the dark and did not learn that Mr. Flynn had misled him about his Russia contacts until reading news accounts late last week…

(Somewhere in Hell, dead Spiro Agnew weeps at the GOP’s reduction to the likes of ‘Mike Dense’.)

“The mountain has labored, and brought forth a mouse. But did it have to be a wall-eyed mouse in a clown suit?”



Late Night Open Thread: F-Word Trump

At a listening session with county sheriffs from around the country, Trump invited the sheriffs seated in the White House’s Roosevelt Room to make a statement while reporters were present. Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson spoke up first to discuss asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement can seize the cash and property of individuals suspected of committing a crime without a guilty verdict.

Proponents of the practice argue that allows law enforcement to effectively combat terrorism and the drug trade, while opponents, including some conservatives, argue that it allows police to seize assets without due process. Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, sought to rein in an asset sharing program by which local law enforcement were given a share of whatever assets they seized…

The president’s remark elicited laughter from those gathered in the Roosevelt Room, although the president did not join in. Eavenson did not offer the Texas state senator’s name, and the public information officer for the Rockwall County sheriff’s office declined to name the lawmaker in question…

Question: You know who else relied on “You don’t look like the sort of person should be allowed to have nice things” as a way to simultaneously reward his followers and intimidate his perceived enemies?

Answer: Every two-bit thug who’s ever been able to wrap his kleptomania in the rags of ‘government’… but for the last hundred years or so, we’ve called them ‘fascists‘.

…[I]t’s important to step back and appreciate the bigger picture here. Trump — faced with an outpouring of popular opposition to his ban, and a level of institutional pushback to it, that surely caught him and his advisers off guard — is actively experimenting with how far he can go in delegitimizing the institutions that are already signaling they may place serious, meaningful limits on his power…

The travel ban has unleashed a surprisingly robust response from the public and our institutions, making this into a first test case as to whether popular mobilization and those institutions can effectively rein in Trump’s authoritarian and nakedly discriminatory impulses. The question is not just whether this ban can be stopped. It’s also whether Trump can be blocked from extending and expanding this policy and instituting others like it.

But even as that response has arisen, Trump is also testing how far he can go in delegitimizing our institutions — and in telling lies designed to minimize impressions of popular opposition to the scope and nature of his exercise of power — apparently in order to undermine the degree to which those forces will continue to function as a check on that power later. So it’s important to appreciate that this test case flows in two directions.



This Is Where We Are 2-7-17

So I just got off the phone with my mom and she shared some disturbing news. Especially so for me as the son of an immigrant, a Green Card holder until his death.

My former sister-in-law returned in the last couple of days from a family funeral in Peru. She’s an American, with passport, but originally from Peru. When her plane arrived at SFO, there were armed immigration/customs agents on the boarding ramp, right outside the plane’s door.

Every person exiting the plane was asked for their papers and scrutinized. This was a normal international flight, not from the countries of current trumpian concern. The next day, her friends told her that all international flights are being greeted thusly.

I’ve been traveling since I was two weeks old. I’m a dual national, but my US issued birth certificate shows I was born in Africa to an American woman and a Swiss man. This country has ALWAYS been the land of the free and customs and immigration folks are in their booths, lanes, aisles, etc. Not intimidating folks getting off the plane.

It’s beginning my friends. A moat is being created around us, between us and the rest of the world.



Pre-Dawn Startle-Awake-Nightmare Open Thread: “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles”

KellyAnne Conway, Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Steven Miller. It’s the Trumpstunting parade, on its way to a vast garbage smorgasbord of stupidity and failure!

THANKS, REPUBLICANS, FOR BREAKING THE WHITE HOUSE!

During his first two dizzying weeks in office, Mr. Trump, an outsider president working with a surprisingly small crew of no more than a half-dozen empowered aides with virtually no familiarity with the workings of the White House or federal government, sent shock waves at home and overseas with a succession of executive orders designed to fulfill campaign promises and taunt foreign leaders…

The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said…

Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and an old friend of the president’s, said: “I think, in his mind, the success of this is going to be the poll numbers. If they continue to be weak or go lower, then somebody’s going to have to bear some responsibility for that.”

“I personally think that they’re missing the big picture here,” Mr. Ruddy said of Mr. Trump’s staff. “Now he’s so caught up, the administration is so caught up in turmoil, perceived chaos, that the Democrats smell blood, the protesters, the media smell blood.”…

Cloistered in the White House, he now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day — too much in the eyes of some aides — often offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon…

Mr. Bannon has rushed into the vacuum, telling allies that he and Mr. Miller have a brief window in which to push through their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.

Mr. Bannon, whose website, Breitbart, was a magnet for white nationalists and xenophobic speech, has also tried to reassure official Washington. He has been careful to build bridges with the Republican establishment, especially Mr. Ryan — whom he once described as “the enemy” and vowed to force out. He now talks regularly with Mr. Ryan to coordinate strategy or plot their planned overhaul of the tax code…
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Early Morning Open Thread: On Beyond Fustercluck

The new catchphrase for a bad idea poorly executed, more evocative even than goat rodeo, ought to be Trumpstunt. CNN [warning: autoplay] reports:

When President Donald Trump declared at the Pentagon Friday he was enacting strict new measures to prevent domestic terror attacks, there were few within his government who knew exactly what he meant.

Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings.

Saturday night, a federal judge granted an emergency stay for citizens of the affected countries who had already arrived in the US and those who are in transit and hold valid visas, ruling they can legally enter the US

It wasn’t until Friday — the day Trump signed the order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days — that career homeland security staff were allowed to see the final details of the order, a person familiar with the matter said. The result was widespread confusion across the country on Saturday as airports struggled to adjust to the new directives…

The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas, and largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance, according to numerous officials who spoke to CNN on Saturday.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said…

Before the President issued the order, the White House did not seek the legal guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that interprets the law for the executive branch. A source said the executive order did not follow the standard agency review process that’s typically overseen by the National Security Council, though the source couldn’t specifically say if that included the decision to not have the order go through the Office of Legal Counsel.

Separately, a person familiar with the matter said career officials in charge of enforcing the executive order were not fully briefed on the specifics until Friday. The officials were caught off guard by some of the specifics and raised questions about how to handle the new banned passengers on US-bound planes.

Regarding the green card holders and some of the confusion about whether they were impacted, the person familiar with the matter said if career officials had known more about the executive order earlier, some of the confusion could have been avoided and a better plan could be in place…

But that wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun for Bannon and Miller and their would-be-Nazi fanbois. Best thing we can hope to come out of this mess would be Trump (or his favorite kids, Ivanka and Jared) decide it’s time to purge some of the most high-profile Breitbart white supremacists for getting too greedy too fast… before it’s too late for them to win that contest.

And let’s never let it be forgotten: THIS IS ON YOU, REPUBLICANS!



Operations Security Failure! Cyber Security Edition

Operations Security is defined as:

Operations Security, or OPSEC, is the process by which we protect unclassified information that can be used against us.  OPSEC challenges us to look at ourselves through the eyes of an adversary (individuals, groups, countries, organizations). Essentially, anyone who can harm people, resources, or mission is an adversary.

OPSEC should be used to protect information, and thereby deny the adversary the ability to act.  Nearly 90% of the information collected comes from “Open Sources”. Any information that can be obtained freely, without breaking the law, is Open Source.  .  It is social network sites, tweets, text messages, blogs, videos, photos, GPS mapping, newsletters, magazine or newspaper articles, your college thesis, or anything else that is publicly available.

Our OPSEC objective is to ensure a safe and secure environment. OPSEC is best employed daily when making choices about what communications to use, what is written in emails or said on the phone, postings  on social networking sites and blogs.  Any information you put in the public domain is also available to your adversaries.

The bottom line is that we can be are our own worst enemy.  Google yourself or your organization and see how much you can find out.

Someone needs to do their annual training right quick!

Боже мой!