Those in Glass Houses

I love this:

Rabid animals are, of course, no laughing matter. The rabies virus can infect the central nervous system, resulting in disease and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that happens after a host of increasingly scary symptoms: partial paralysis, agitation, hallucinations, hydrophobia. A British man and two children died in Morocco after they were bitten by a rabid cat.

So it was not surprising that when people in the city of Milton, W.Va., saw raccoons behaving weirdly, they involved the local police.

Officers staked out the area where the suspect animals were hanging out, looking for any signs of the masked perpetrators.

But when they caught two of them, they realized they were dealing with a different kind of issue.

The raccoons weren’t rabid. They were drunk.

The raccoons, apparently, had been feasting on crab apples that had fermented on the tree, causing the small animals to walk around “staggering and disoriented,” police said.

But here is my absolute favorite part of the story:

The apprehended animals were held in custody and allowed to sober up in what can only be deemed a raccoon drunk tank.

Get some, raccoons.

Also, I’m sober, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t a good looking raccoon.

Cloud Compass Canoeing

If not for the bow, it would be impossible to say which was the sky and which the reflection.

Also, Badger naps dangerously:

I don’t voluntarily sleep with my nose in such close proximity to Daisy’s ass. She’s a gassy critter.

This thread doesn’t have to be about dog farts. Use your imagination — open thread!

Monday Morning Open Thread: Off to A Good Start

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month of 1918 World War I Did Not Come to an End

(Satwinder Sehmi’s Calligraphy: In Flander’s Field)

As Veteran’s Day 2018 comes to a close, and with it the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, it is important to remember that World War I did not actually end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. While it is true that the armistice was signed and peace talks would soon begin, World War I did not stop on November 11, 2018. Rather, and more accurately, it transformed into a series of low intensity conflicts that would simmer until reigniting into World War II. At the heart of those conflicts was a war of ideas. One of these ideas was national identity. Specifically, how ethno-national minorities that were left behind the lines, so to speak, when the armistice was signed would relate to the governments they now lived under, their ethno-national majority neighbors, and how those governments and those neighbors would relate to them. Out of these tense, taut, and often violent relationships between ethno-national majorities and minorities in post World War I Europe would grow other even more dangerous ideas such as fascism, in its corporatist, nationalist-syndicalist, and racist forms. Even, to a certain extent, Leninism, was unable to escape the nationalist tensions that resulted from the way World War I never really ended.

The great power competition that had led to World War I was changed by these clash of ideas – nationalism, fascism, communism – and, as a result, World War II and the Cold War were as much wars of ideas and ideology as they were wars of conquest and for territory. These ideas were about how to better organize state and society. And they placed the ideas of liberty and liberal democracy in all of its various types in direct conflict with the totalitarian ideas of fascism on the extreme right and communism on the extreme left. And just as different forms of liberal democracy would develop, so to would different variations of fascism and communism. These clash of ideas, of how states, societies, and even the global system should best be structured, would lead to both World War II, a long Cold War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a number of conflicts fought by the proxies of the two post World War II superpowers. to a certain extent they are also an undercurrent in the US’s seeming forever war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As 2018 moves towards 2019, the world is once again faced with a war of ideas. The ideas of well ordered liberty and its expression in the different types of liberal democracy are once again facing off against totalitarian ideas from both state and non-state actors. Vladimir Putin challenges the US and its EU and NATO allies and partners with his promotion of managed democracy as a façade for the kleptocratic organized crime state he has created in Russia. Xi Xinping, recently declared as President for Life, promotes his fusion of Maoism, state controlled capitalism, and Chinese nationalism through his Belt and Road Initiative. ISIS continues to promote an extreme version of tawheed, the Islamic theological understanding of the unity of the Deity, which includes violently imposing its doctrine on believers and unbelievers alike. 

The War to End all Wars did not do so because it could not do so. Nor did World War II. Now has any other war. So while we recognize and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, we need to be realistic about what we face both within and without the United States. We need to remain vigilant in order to ensure that well ordered liberty prevails in this 21st century war of ideas.

Open thread.

Who Is Sam Clovis?

This is a small point in the larger Russia investigation. But in my science, I have found that small points that don’t seem to make sense can be important. I am not putting forth a theory here. I want to raise questions that I think reporters should be looking at. The overarching question is Who is Sam Clovis and how did he develop his contacts?

When Donald Trump announced his foreign policy advisors in March 2016, a great many of us said “Who?” The five people announced were Joseph E. Schmitz, Gen. Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Walid Phares. Three had policy experience. Two didn’t. None were obvious choices.

Page was off to Russia that June. He had meetings with at least one high-level official, although his answers to congressional committees on that subject are evasive. A few years earlier, two Russian agents attempted to recruit Page as an informant.

Papadopoulos was convicted of lying to the FBI earlier this year. His wife worked for Joseph Mifsud, who had Russian connections and a job that looks like a cover. Mifsud has disappeared.

Who recommended Page and Papadopoulos? Eventually it came out that Sam Clovis, the national co-chair of the Trump campaign, had brought them into the campaign. Read more

The Defenestration of Matthew Whitaker Has Begun

As expected the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have begun to strategically leak negative information about Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

From TPM (because I’m not subscribing to The Wall Street Journal):

The FBI is investigating a Miami-based company with ties to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that was shuttered in May 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Whitaker served on the company’s advisory board, appearing in promotional materials and, at one point, sending an email that appeared to threaten a disgruntled client.

The FTC, a civil regulatory body, called the company a “scam” in a press release, accusing it of persuading inventors to buy expensive marketing, patenting, and distribution packages and then blowing them off when they demanded fulfillment of their orders.

The WSJ reports that the FBI’s Miami field office is overseeing the criminal investigation along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, citing a letter sent by an FBI victim specialist. The report also states that the investigation began as early as June 2017.

Whitaker received $9,375 from the company, according to court documents.

A court-appointed receiver told the Wall Street Journal that while other advisory board members had given back fees that the company paid them, Whitaker had not yet replied to a demand notice.

From Murray Waas at Vox:

Matthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Voxhas learned.

Whitaker was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

Sources say that Whitaker presented himself as a sympathetic ear to both Sessions and Rosenstein — telling them he supported their efforts to prevent the president from politicizing the Justice Department. A person close to Whitaker suggested to me that the then-chief of staff was only attempting to diffuse the tension between the president and his attorney general and deputy attorney general, and facilitate an agreement between the two sides.

But two other people with firsthand information about the matter told me that Whitaker, in his conversations with the president, presented himself as a vigorous supporter of Trump’s position and “committed to extract as much as he could from the Justice Department on the president’s behalf.”

One administration official with knowledge of the matter told me: “Whitaker let it be known [in the White House] that he was on a team, and that was the president’s team.”

During this period, Whitaker frequently spoke by phone with both Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, this same official told me. On many of those phone calls, nobody else was on the phone except for the president and Whitaker, or only Kelly and Whitaker. As one senior law enforcement official told me, “Nobody else knew what was said on those calls except what Whitaker decided to tell others, and if he did, whether he was telling the truth. Who ever heard of a president barely speaking to his attorney general but on the phone constantly with a staff-level person?”

Whitaker also counseled the president in private on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to name a special counsel to investigate not only allegations of FBI wrongdoing but also Hillary Clinton. Trump wanted the Justice Department to investigate the role that Clinton purportedly played, as secretary of state, in approving the Russian nuclear energy agency’s (Rosatom) purchase of a US uranium mining company.

Yet Whitaker suggested to the White House that he personally was sympathetic to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate these matters, according to the two officials with knowledge of the matter. A Justice Department official told me: “You have to have a predicate to open an investigation, or to reopen a closed case. You have an even higher one, an extraordinary threshold, to appoint a special counsel. If you don’t, what you are doing is unethical as a lawyer.”

Much more at the link.

The President is out of the country for the next several days. Despite the fact that he’ll be tweeting, and barring a major diplomatic incident while in France, which, to be honest with the President is always a distinct possibility, he has limited ability to drive the news cycle through the weekend. Whitaker will continue to suffer a death of a thousand cuts until the DOJ and FBI gets what it wants, which is, at least a recusal, if not an outright resignation.

Open thread!

Let’s Check In and See What the Leader of the Free World Was Up to Today

Oh, and the President spent most of the day on Air Force 1 live tweeting Fox News conspiracy mongering about the ongoing counting of ballots in Florida and Arizona! Though the President, like Fox News employees and others can’t seem to get their heads around that they’re still counting ballots cast, not conducting recounts yet.

Semi Break

A number of folks are expressing concern that a second Brooks Brothers Riot could take place again in south Florida. Aside from the fact that Matt Schlapp now has to shop at the Big & Tall store, which takes Brooks Brothers out of play, I don’t expect a bunch of MAGA hatted nuts having much impact this time around. The Democrats learned the lessons of 2000 well. Marc Elias, who is the top elections lawyer in the country, is working for Senator Nelson, as well as Congresswoman Sinema in Arizona, to ensure that every ballot is counted and that any recount necessary is completed properly. Barry Richards, who was the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign’s election attorney in and from Florida during the 2000 recounts and is the in the state of Florida equivalent to Marc Elias, is working for Mayor Gillum’s campaign. This is the A-Team of election attorneys.

Additionally, this isn’t 2000. Almost everyone has a smart phone. We have social media (for good and ill). People that try to shut down the actual counting of ballots, let alone recounts, by force will have their faces broadcast to the world. They’ll be identified. They’ll face actual consequences because unlike in 2000, these folks don’t work for members of Congress, the Republican National Committee, and/or the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign.

(Matt Schlapp is at #6 in the green shirt)

The local supervisors of election aren’t having any of the President’s or anyone else’s crap either:

And the Florida Department of Law Enforcement isn’t having any of Governor Scott’s conspiracy mongering either:

It’s going to be a wild few days. But I wouldn’t bet against either Marc Elias or Barry Richards. They will ensure that every vote that is eligible to be counted is counted and that the recounts are done correctly.

Open thread.