Secrecy Isn’t What It Used To Be

Results of CIA investigations continue to be leaked. Concern was expressed at this norm-breaking. The norms exist for a reason, though. The CIA’s reason for existence is national security.

The President of the United States is acting in conflict with the recommendations of his national security agencies and in conflict with national security. Sending troops to the border for political effect. Sharing another nation’s highly classified intelligence with an adversary. Bragging about a plane that he believes is invisible. Failing to visit the troops in war zones. And more.

This is a conundrum for the national security agencies. The internet and the availability of information are changing their roles too.

Information once of limited availability is now on the internet. Some are free, some for sale. Overhead satellite photos, court documents, historical archives, social media that inadvertently shows significant features. Read more

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Are Having a Very Bad, No Good, Horrible Day: British Parliamentary and International Grand Committee on Disinformation Edition

Carole Cadwalladr’s relentless pursuit of the bad acts committed by a host of bad actors around Brexit and the 2016 US presidential elections has some news for us from the British parliamentary inquiry, also attended by representatives from Canada, Germany, Belgium, and other countries, into Facebook. From the 4:30 PM GMT session:

This is in addition to this morning’s (Greenwich Mean Time) bombshells:

Is Zuckerberg about to have a very, very bad several weeks? Why yes, yes he is!


For those who want to see her entire live tweetstorm of this morning’s hearings, you can start here:

Jason Kint’s starts here:

While the current administration may not care to do anything about this, especially given how much it has benefited the President, and the GOP majorities in the House and the Senate aren’t really interested either, the British, the Canadians, the Germans, the Belgians, the French, and the European Union are. And they will conduct the inquiries, criminal investigations, prosecutions, and ultimately create the regulation that will bring Zuckerberg and Sandberg and a whole host of other bad actors that have leveraged what Zuckerberg and Sandberg created to heel.

Do you know who in the US is paying close attention to the inquiries today in Parliament? Special Counsel Mueller and Congressman Adam Schiff.

Open thread!

Medicaid expansion will be on the ballot again

Bruce Japsen at Forbes makes a very good point. 

Medicaid expansion will be on the ballot again as the referendums to pass Expansion succeeded in three very red states this year: Utah, Idaho and Nebraska.

The Fairness project says at least six states could become targets for Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in 2020 thought the group says it’s not ready to announce any campaigns.

“Right now we think those states include Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Wyoming,” the group said.

The big Expansion hold-outs are Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.  An initiative process to get Medicaid Expansion passed in Florida would be a big deal.  If you are looking for something political to do and want to avoid the pie fighting of primary season, helping out with signature collection and organizing for Expansion may be the thing for you.



Deploraville Dispatch

Did you argue politics with relatives over the holiday weekend? My Trumpster kin had nothing to say about their orange idol. I suspect they’re ashamed of him but too stubborn to admit it.

I’d like to think that’s progress, but I know better; they still believe the same stupid shit that made them vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the first place.

Over the weekend, I read a Washington Monthly piece by Daniel Block about Democrats in deep red areas — kinda the opposite of the Deploraville safari articles about “heartland” Trump voters.

There’s a lot of truth to it, IMO. Here’s an excerpt:

Reporters have descended on conservative bastions like Augusta, as well as counties that recently flipped from blue to red, in a bid to understand how a reality television star became president. They have spoken to longtime, working-class conservatives and ex-Democrats who, through Trump, finally found a vehicle through which to express their political frustrations. In doing so, they’ve routinely painted a picture of Trump-voting America so predictable that it has become a trope. Yet very few journalists have chosen to focus on the Democrats in Trump country who stayed Democrats…

But even in places like Augusta County, thousands of people voted for Hillary Clinton. No depiction of Trump country is complete without them. Most of their neighbors may be standing by the president, but if Augusta is any indication, Democrats in rural red counties are just as fired up and enthused as their counterparts in liberal cities. In Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Augusta, no Democrat has mounted a midterm congressional campaign in twenty years. This year, four people ran…

As more activists come out of the woodwork, the Democratic Party gains more people like Frank Nolen: human faces who can make the party more accessible to residents with hidden liberal inclinations. This is critical for the party’s fortunes. Building a viable electoral infrastructure depends on making it socially acceptable to be a Democrat.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the people who belong to the party that opposes an abusive, corrupt, would-be authoritarian degenerate are the ones who suffer social consequences for that. But it’s a reality that many of us live on the daily. That’s part of the reason you won’t find me boo-hooing over Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comped cheese plate or pitying Tucker Carlson for blowback to his hate-mongering.

Fox News feeds its viewers a steady diet of “oppressed conservatives in Hollywood” stories and plays up incidents where its wealthy hate-mongers are harassed by ordinary citizens. The Fox News audience eats that victimization shit up — all the while engaging in subtle and overt intimidation tactics against neighbors with different political views.

The Post has an article today by doctoral candidate Emily Van Duyn about Democratic women secretly organizing in a deep red part of Texas. Some of the women in the underground group she studied shared why they’re unwilling to “come out” as Democrats:

The existence of this group does more than tell us about 136 women in a small county in Texas. Their experience of fear and intimidation challenges assumptions about democracy in the United States. That is, in a truly liberal democracy, people should be able to voice their views without fear of retaliation.

These women’s choice to engage and persist underground also challenges us to reconsider the privilege of being publicly political and the possibility that the things we see on the surface in our communities, the yard signs, the bumper stickers, are not the whole story.

It’s not the whole story, and we can’t write off the folks in those places. I know it’s tempting to give up on red areas — I live in one, and sometimes I think the best solution is to re-stage Sherman’s march. In a post about radicalized rural kids earlier this week, Mistermix observed:

This is not to say that radicalized rural kids aren’t a problem – but the problem is bigger than that. The Senate and the Electoral College over-represent states that intelligent progressive kids want to leave. Maybe, as Deb and James Fallows have reported, some of these kids will stay and enlarge blue dots in otherwise conservative states. But why bother when you can just move a few hundred miles away and not have to deal with the narrow minds and poverty of spirit that infects rural America?

I don’t have a good answer to that dilemma for individuals. I fled my conservative home turf as a young person too, only to ultimately return. But as a society, if we want to have a functioning democracy (and maybe even avoid a second civil war), those of us who do choose to remain in red areas — people like Cole, some of you, and me — have to do the hard work of building an electoral infrastructure, as outlined in the Washington Monthly piece.

That’s the only way forward. I sure hope we can pull it off.

Secretary of Defense Mattis Gets Out Maneuvered

From The Daily Beast:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month objected to using military force to protect border agents on the southwest border, a knowledgeable current U.S. official and a former Defense Department official told The Daily Beast.

But Mattis didn’t object on principle. When the Department of Homeland Security requested the so-called force protection mission from the Pentagon, Mattis declined because he thought he lacked the authority to do so, the current official said.

Mattis’ objection, as of late October, was the genesis of a highly controversial White House memorandum issued late Tuesday explicitly authorizing the potential use of lethal force against the unarmed civilians of the migrant caravan.

DHS wouldn’t take no for an answer, The Daily Beast has learned. Homeland Security went above Mattis’ head in order to get Donald Trump’s chief of staff to secure for them the potentially lethal military force for which immigration hardliners in the administration had clamored.

In internal discussions with DHS, Mattis pointed to an April 4 memorandum from Trump on hardening the southern border. That memo directed cooperation between Mattis, Nielsen, and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions on combating “illegal drugs, dangerous gang activity, and extensive illegal immigration.” (Border crossings have declined over the past decade, and are at levels historically far from “extensive.”) But the memo did not provide Mattis with explicit authorities to use military force, let alone lethal force, in aiding CBP should agents come in danger.

DHS was unwilling to leave the matter at that. The former Defense official said that Homeland Security circumvented Mattis and the Pentagon and instead went directly to the White House in an effort to secure explicit authority for this move from Trump and the West Wing.

And it appears to have worked. Kelly’s memo directly included authorization for lethal military backup. DHS and National Security Council officials did not reply to The Daily Beast’s inquiries by deadline.

More at the link.

Secretary Mattis seems to have outlasted Mira Ricardel who was running a campaign from her office as the Deputy National Security Advisor to wrong-foot Mattis with the President. Ricardel’s motivation was revenge because Mattis refused to both hire her for an undersecretary of Defense position and any of the people she pushed forward from her perch on the DOD transition team for any positions at all. However, both White House Chief of Staff Kelly and Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen are both trying to save their own jobs, so, because Kelly works in the White House and has access to the President whenever he needs or wants it, he was able to outmaneuver Mattis on this issue. What remains to be seen is what, if anything Mattis does about it.

We also have some clarification from earlier regarding the Cabinet Order that Kelly signed:

Update at 9:30 PM EDT

We now know what Secretary Mattis is doing about it! Task & Purpose has an important update to this story (emphasis mine):

THE PENTAGON — Any U.S. troops who assist civil authorities who come under attack by migrants will not be armed, Defense Secretary James Mattis clarified on Wednesday.

“There has been no call for any lethal force from DHS [Department of Homeland Security],” Mattis told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. “There is no armed element going in. I will determine it, based on what DHS asks for and a mission analysis.”

Mattis spoke the day after retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, signed a “cabinet order” giving active-duty U.S. troops on the southwest border new authorities to assist U.S. Border and Customs Protection personnel.

If border police came under attack, unarmed military police could respond, but they would be equipped with shields and batons, not firearms, Mattis said.

A reporter noted that Kelly’s cabinet order gives troops the authority to use lethal force, if necessary.

“I have the authority,” Mattis replied, noting that pictures of troops on the border show that they do not have weapons. “Relax. Don’t worry about it.”

We are off the looking glass and through the map!

Open thread.