Open Thread: Betsy DeVos Celebrates Black History Month

There is no depth to which the Wingnut Wurlitzer will not stoop, because they are devoid of shame — and they assume their fellows have no memory of history. Norman Rockwell was not on your side, idiots!



You’re Fired! and Ready to Go…Errr, P’raps Not

There’s much to be said about the still-unpossible fact that the shitgibbon is now president.  But in this day one of our national experiment in test-to-destruction governance, there’s something…missing.

That would be a government.  Or at least, an administration.

There are roughly 675 Federal positions that require Senate confirmation.*

There are some four thousand more jobs to be filled by direct appointment, and while many of those are minor, many are not.**

So that’s the hole. How far along is Trump to filling it?

Well, according to The Washington Post‘s tracker, Trump has so far sent 30 names to the Senate.***  None have been confirmed.

Update: James Mattis and John F. Kelly have now been confirmed for Defense and Homeland Security respectively.

By comparison in 2009, six Obama cabinet nominees were confirmed as of the inauguration, and four more followed the next week.

And even if/when all those nominated so far do make it through the Senate process, they’ll be doing — or rather not getting done all the work of the senior management of their departments.

Foreign policy? We ain’t got none, for the time being, no matter how often Trump bellows “America First!”  There are no appointees at State below the secretary level. That’s not “none-confirmed.” That’s none, as in not a single deputy, assistant, or under secretary has yet been named.

We’ve got no boots on the ground either.  In a break with prior custom, Trump demanded the resignation of every serving ambassador as of today.  With only three as-yet unvetted, much less confirmed, ambassadorial appointments, and dozens yet to be made, the US is without its head-of-mission everywhere.  While it’s true that politically appointed ambassadors have professional staffs that are still in place, the fact remains that our international representatives aren’t there.

Same goes for the national security apparatus.  The odious and unfit Michael Flynn does not require Senate confirmation, so he’s on the job.  He’s got no help though:

Trump has made one other NSC appointment, tapping retired Gen. Keith Kellogg to be NSC chief of staff. And some reports indicate that Matt Pottinger, a former Wall Street Journal China correspondent who joined the U.S. Marines and grew close to Flynn, may become the NSC’s director for Asia.

It ain’t going to get any better any time soon.  Flynn’s in charge of filling out his org chart, and, as the same Politico article notes, he’s making a mess of it:   Read more



Jeff Sessions: Not A Good Man, or An Honest Legislator

Nor are his fellow Republicans, no matter how “nice” they may appear to the Media Village Idiots. Per the Washington Post:

Sen. Cory Booker testified Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead the Justice Department, saying the Alabama Republican’s lengthy record in Congress exposed views that are inconsistent with the venerated job he is seeking.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

The remarks marked the first time a sitting senator has testified against a colleague’s nomination for a Cabinet post, and they were among the most notable in Sessions’s two-day confirmation hearing.

In total, legislators heard testimony from 15 supporters and detractors, and Sessions answered questions over more than 101/2 hours. Nothing that was said was likely to stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him, with Democrats failing to land anything close to a fatal blow during the hearing…

Sessions is generally well liked in the Senate, despite views that draw polarized responses. To those in law enforcement and conservative legal circles, he is an honorable man, dedicated to enforcing the law no matter his personal feelings. To civil rights advocates, immigrant advocates and others, his record makes him a troubling selection to lead the Justice Department…

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

As far as a political tactic for attaining a government job that makes sensible people blanch at the very thought of your assuming it, unremitting banality in the face of questioning, harsh or otherwise, has served people very, very well. This was why, on the first day of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee as to his nomination to be Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wielded unremitting banality so masterfully that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and, even if it did, he would be polite and not mention in polite society that he had a mouthful of melted butter, nor spit it into the ashtrays, either. I’m not kidding. If you bought what he was selling, Sessions made Atticus Finch sound like James K. Vardaman.

You know all that really bad stuff he said when he was a senator, and when he was out on the stump pitching for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago? Forget about all of that, because he’s going to be the Attorney General now, so none of that counts, no backsies. When he called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” organizations back during the 1980s, he only meant in the context of their opposition to the various excellent Reagan Administration adventures in Central America, and then only because he thought their opposition to our proxy death squads would damage the “historic” record of achievement enjoyed by both organizations…

The “good” news, FWIW, is that Sessions and his defenders at least feel themselves compelled to lie about his history and his beliefs. Dave Weigel got assigned to look for the pony in the pile:

Noteworthy, too, is the way Sessions and the Trump transition team decided to handle his confirmation hearing. Sessions didn’t mention Trump in his opening statement other than to thank him for the nomination. And even before senators questioned him about the allegations of racism that led the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination to the federal bench in 1986, Sessions preemptively defended himself against “damnably false charges.”

The guest seats were filled by the likes of Al Sharpton, Khizr Khan, members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), now the top Democrat on the panel, noted that “there is so much fear in this country . . . particularly in the African American community.”

Sessions said the “caricature of me in 1986” was wrong. “I did not harbor the kind of animosities and race-based discrimination ideas that I was accused of. I did not.”…

Sessions said it was “very painful” to be identified as a racist. He said he saw “systematic and powerful” racism in the South. “I know we need to do better,” Sessions said. “We can never go back.”

Does he believe that? We’ll see…

Much more below the fold — including a few quotes from Sessions’ defenders, at the very end.

From Politico, “Sessions faces decision on politicizing Justice Department“:

Donald Trump suggested on the campaign trail that he could use the Justice Department to fulfill his political agenda, taunting Hillary Clinton by threatening to throw her in jail over her email scandal.

Now, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will have to decide whether to follow his predecessors by vowing to not let politics drive the DOJ’s decision-making.

The idea that the Justice Department should be free from political interference is not rooted in any statute or explicit constitutional provision. Instead, it evolved through a series of internal policy memos and letters issued by past Justice Department officials from both parties, according to a POLITICO review of historical records.

Sessions, as attorney general, could decide to abandon or overhaul those policies, a concern heightened by Trump’s suggestions during the campaign that he could pursue politically motivated prosecutions.

Notably, Sessions’ nomination is now in the hands of some of the same Republicans who pushed for tougher firewalls between the White House and the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. Those senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have not raised the issue in throwing their support behind Sessions, who faces his first day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday.

“This is the biggest question Jeff Sessions has to answer,” said Matt Miller, a former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, who left office in 2015. “Attorneys general have always established it’s not appropriate for the White House to influence prosecutorial or investigative decisions. But there’s no law or regulation. If they want to change it, they can change it.”…

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Early Morning Open Thread: Sundown Voters for A Sundowning Party?

There’s more and more evidence coming to light that the Asterisk-Elect’s electoral college victory relied on the revanchist fantasies of some of America’s least loveable left-behinds. David Roediger, at Counterpunch:

Coming myself from a “sundown town”—that is, one which for most of the twentieth century remained whites-only, in part by disallowing even visits by African Americans after nightfall—I had read the work of the sociologist James Loewen on such places with great care. In the massive volume, Sundown Towns, and on the website accompanying and updating it, Loewen paid special attention to Wisconsin. Partly this was because, proportionately, so many of its towns fit into the sundown category and partly because their histories were so typical. Many had an early Black presence that was removed over time or in a hot moment. Some featured billboards warning of their policies. They included small towns, but also growing industrial ones, whose good, sometimes union, jobs became the property of whites.

Did sundown towns elect Trump in Wisconsin? My research assistant, Kathryn Robinson, and I tried to find out. Since it is much easier to get county-level election returns than municipal ones, we concentrated on “sundown counties,” those having a county seat that could be established as a sundown town or likely sundown town in Loewen’s mapping. An incredible 58 of the state’s 72 counties fit into such a category. Of the 58 sundown counties 31 are 1% or less African American (and only eight more than 2%), suggesting that the proxy of the county seat works in identifying sundown areas at the county level.

The simple answer on Trump and sundown towns in Wisconsin is: “Clearly they elected him.” Sundown counties gave Trump almost 935,000 votes to Clinton’s just over 678,000. His margin in the sundown areas exceeded 256,000 votes. That Clinton won the fifteen non-sundown counties by almost 230,000 votes could not make up for Trump’s 58% to 42% margin in the sundown ones. Just short of two/thirds of all Trump voters in Wisconsin came from sundown counties. Only nine sundown counties chose Clinton with 49 for Trump…

Of course, the NYTimes‘ Media Village Idiots are busily attempting to buff away these angry white fingerprints, because calling someone a racist is far more impolite than being a racist
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Late Night Open Thread: The Revanchists’ (Temporary) Revenge

While the more-Leftist-than-thou “progressives” — including their latest high-profile figurehead — are high-fiving each other in happy anticipation of potential public-outrage gigs over the next four years, at least some people are beginning to push back on the BUT WHITE WORKING CLASS HAS ALL THE SADS!!! meme so beloved of Very Serious Pundits. From the NYTimes, Robert P. Jones on “The Rage of White, Christian America“:

Between Barack Obama’s 2008 election and 2016, America has transformed from being a majority white Christian nation (54 percent) to a minority white Christian nation (43 percent).

But on Election Day, paradoxically, this anxious minority swarmed to the polls to elect as president the candidate who promised to “make America great again” and warned that he was its “last chance” to turn back the tide of cultural and economic change…

The choice before the country was starkly clear. Donald J. Trump’s Republican Party looked back wistfully to a monochromatic vision of 1950s America, while the major party fronting the first female presidential candidate celebrated the pluralistic future of 2050, when the Census Bureau first projected the United States would become a majority nonwhite nation.

My organization’s American Values Survey, released a few weeks before the election, found deep divides in the country on this issue. Americans are nearly evenly divided on whether American culture and way of life have changed for worse (51 percent) or better (48 percent) since the 1950s. Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of Democrats say American culture has generally changed for the better since the 1950s, while roughly two-thirds (68 percent) of Republicans say American society and way of life have changed for the worse…

Message to ‘Tha Heartland’ and all its defenders, honest or (mostly) otherwise: 1963 is over. It is never coming back.

Thoughtful article (which started as a tweetstorm) from Patrick Thornton — “I’m a Coastal Elite From the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America“:

… My home county in Ohio is 97 percent white. It, like a lot of other very unrepresentative counties, went heavily for Donald Trump.

My high school had about 950 students. Two were Asian. One was Hispanic. Zero were Muslim. All the teachers were white. My high school had more convicted sexual predator teachers than minority teachers. That’s a rural American story.

In many of these areas, the only Muslims you see are in movies like “American Sniper.” (I knew zero Muslims before going to college in another state.) You never see gay couples or even interracial ones. Much of rural and exurban American is a time capsule to America’s past.

And on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, they dug it up…
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Open Thread: Revanchist Hero of the Day, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill

… doesn’t want to “cheapen the work of civil rights activists” by permitting automatic voting registration.

No, seriously:

Automatic voter registration has recently emerged a key tool in increasing the United States’ anemic voter turnout. The process is simple: Whenever an eligible citizen interacts with a government agency (typically the DMV), she is registered to vote unless she declines. Although automatic voter registration is a nonpartisan initiative, it tends to be favored by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, who believe they fare better in low-turnout races; two Republican governors have already vetoed Democrat-sponsored automatic voter registration bills in Illinois and New Jersey. Now Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, has joined the opposition. Asked a question about automatic voter registration, Merrill declared that the practice “cheapen[s] the work” of civil rights heroes and that “just because you turned 18 doesn’t give you the right” to vote….

These people fought—some of them were beaten, some of them were killed—because of their desire to ensure that everybody that wanted to had the right to register to vote and participate in the process. I’m not going to cheapen the work that they did. I’m not going to embarrass them by allowing somebody that’s too sorry to get up off of their rear end to go register to vote … because they think they deserve the right because they’ve turned 18.

But they do have that right, Sec. Merrill — as enshrined in the Constitution, and further specified in its 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments. It’s not your “ball game,” not any more, and you don’t get to decree who’s entitled to “win a trophy”



Thursday Night Open Thread: Marching (One Hopes) Into Oblivion

gop-loyalty-program-non-seq

(Non Sequitur via GoComics.com)
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I voted for Hillary Clinton to be the first woman President this afternoon, and therefore refuse to let the antics of the dying Repub party and its worst adherents harsh my considerable mellow.

First blowback from the big Bloomberg article. Rick Hasen, at his highly respected LawBlog:

Breaking: DNC Asks for RNC to Be Held in Contempt, Voter Intimidation Consent Decree Extended 8 More Years
Back in August, I blogged about how Donald Trump could be violating a longstanding consent decree against the RNC engaging in “ballot security” measures which have been found to intimidate minority voters. I explained how the consent decree began in the 1980s, was extended by the courts over RNC’s objection (which went all the way to the Supreme Court in an unsuccessful effort to get them involved), and now expires in 2017 unless extended for up to another 8 years by order of the Court. I explained that there were two issues: first, was Trump engaging in voter intimidation activities (it looked like he had) and second, whether Trump could be seen as an “agent” of the RNC (because the decree applies only to the RNC, its employees, and agents)…

Well now it’s happened. The DNC filed papers saying that the RNC, through Trump’s actions has already violated the consent decree, and asks for another 8-year extension…

For full details and useful links — read the whole thing.
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Apart from that, what’s on the agenda tonight?