Excellent (Depressing) Read: “The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works”

Today, Dave Weigel published a story in the Washington Post on “The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory”:

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.

Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt…

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations…

Of course, this being the internet (and certain people & networks happy to be ghouls for profit) the morbid feasting on other peoples’ tragedy will never actually end.

Here’s Weigel’s original story, on May 20: Read more



Trump’s Dangerous Anti-Immigrant Hysteria

Predictable as the sunrise, Twitler reacted badly to the narcissistic injury of having a court swat down another of his attempts to give force of law to anti-immigrant bigotry. The sting was amplified by timing since Team Trump is desperately cobbling together participation trophy-fodder to counter the narrative that his presidency is in shambles at the 100-day mark.

Trump went on a fact-challenged rant on Twitter this morning, blaming the wrong court and vowing ultimate victory in the SCOTUS. But the truly deranged response was a statement issued on official White House letterhead last night:

The Twitter rant and official statement are designed to “otherize” a populated swath of the country. They baldly question the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit or a judge in San Francisco to make rulings affecting “real America.” This echoes the incredulity of the diminutive racist occupying Eric Holder’s old office over the jurisdiction of a court on “some island in the Pacific,” i.e., the State of Hawaii.

But as appalling and divisive as that notion is, more ominous, IMO, is the overheated language about undocumented immigrants in this statement — the conflation of the folks who pick America’s tomatoes, design our software, landscape our office parks, excel in our finest universities, etc., with violent criminals who shoot innocent blond women for sport.

It’s based on a lie; undocumented immigrants are generally more law abiding than the native born. But worse, it’s a particularly corrosive and dangerous lie. There are valid questions about immigration law that we can and should debate. But that’s not what Trump’s doing here.

Demonizing an entire class of people amounts to a blood libel, and the murder of legal immigrants like Srinivas Kuchibhotla show how quickly lies about undocumented immigrants can infect the minds of unhinged bigots who would target anyone they see as the “other.”

History is filled with the tragic consequences of such lies. Trump traveled to the Holocaust Museum to commemorate one such consequence yesterday…the same day his press secretary issued the above statement.



Muslim Ban 2.0 — First Time Tragedy; Second Time Tragic Farce

I’ll leave it to the more knowledgeable among us to dissect (looking at you, Adam…). But the greatest hits are about what I’d expected.  Iraq’s off the list as we owe too much to too many there.  The other six countries from the original order remain, though the specific restrictions are a little different than in Fear The Furriner version one.  Here’s The Washington Post‘s take:

President Trump signed a new travel ban Monday that administration officials said they hope will end legal challenges over the matter by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, authorities said.

In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

 

The goal is obviously to deliver some red meat to the Trump base while sliding past inconvenient judicial reality tests. Trumpistas are already suggesting that the administration should not have to justify the order in court, despite evidence that there is no net national security gain from a Muslim ban:

A Department of Homeland Security report assessing the terrorist threat posed by people from the seven countries covered by President Trump’s original travel ban had cast doubt on the necessity of the executive order, concluding that citizenship was an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the affected countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, criticized the report as being incomplete and not vetted with other agencies, and he also asserted the administration should not be pressed by the judiciary to unveil sensitive national security details to justify the ban.

“This is not something that the Department of Justice should have to represent to a federal-district court judge,” the official said.

We shall see.

Over to y’all.

Image: Benjamin West, The Ambassador from Tunis with His Attendants as He Appeared in England in 1781, 1781



This Is How Republicans Are Going To Get People Killed

This happened:

A hearing in El Paso County in Texas went from ordinary to “unprecedented” last week when half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a courthouse where an undocumented woman was seeking a protective order against the boyfriend she accused of abusing her.

The woman, a citizen of Mexico who was living in El Paso had been driven to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living.

She left under arrest.

This is a disgrace, and an incredibly dangerous one.

Most obviously: anyone w/out documents facing a threat from their partner, former or present, has just been told that the legal system, cops, anyone, are no longer available to them. They’re on their own. They’ve got a target on them, as their abusers now know that they can act without fear of official action.

Some of them will die. One third of the murders of women in the US are committed by an intimate partner.

Increasing the pressure to stay in an abusive relationship tees up more victims.  Making it harder — or impossible — to seek official help locks people in danger.

The chilling effect extends beyond the home.  If reporting a crime puts you in contact with officialdom; if agreeing to testify does so…and so on. You get the idea. The risks of trying to engage public safety resources have just shot up for immigrant and minority communities — from an already no-fun base.

ICE, Trump, and the Republican party:  accessories before the fact to harm, murder and misery.

Every day, down every avenue, these folks have got to named, shamed, and fought.

Image: Unknown artist, A Very Bad Man — on the trial of Ephraim K. Avery for the murder of Sarah Maria Cornell. 1833.



Men Like Ravenous Fishes Feed On One Another

Here’s a three-year old video with sadly renewed resonance.

It’s Ian McKellen, delivering a speech from Sir Thomas More, a work from the early 1590s that passed through many hands, including, as author of the passage McKellen performs, William Shakespeare.  It speaks precisely to the predicament we face now, and (as McKellen notes) because it’s Shakespeare’s the demand it makes on us is to discover our humanity.

Would that more of our former friends across the aisle could not just hear him, but listen.

Open thread.



Open Thread: Another Starbucks Backwards-Boycott!

As the Washington Post reports, a Florida real estate remodeler lost his temper when he felt disrespted at Starbucks: “‘I voted for Trump! You lost!’: White Starbucks customer accuses barista of ‘discrimination’”

Give him credit (being as Florida is a Stand-Your-Ground state) — he used his words, even if those words were sometimes NSFW.

This being 2016, of course another customer took some video, which inevitably went viral. Trump supporters nationwide considered themselves deeply, personally OUTRAGED!!! And because Trump supporters are not the sharpest crayons in the box, they announced another round of their notorious NATIONWIDE PROTESTS…


Read more



Donald Trump: Fascist

I can’t think of another way to describe him after this* [Politico link]:

Donald Trump suggested canceling the election Thursday and granting himself the presidency.

“What a difference. You know, what a difference this is,” Trump said during a rally in Toledo, Ohio, after comparing his tax plan with Hillary Clinton’s.

“And just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for?” he asked. “Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.”

Because that’s how he rolls, and how the party that nominated him would, if they could.

I got nuthin’ beyond that.

640px-joseph_mallord_william_turner_-_the_decline_of_the_carthaginian_empire_-_wga23169

Except perhaps this:  the Republican party is a wholly owned Trump subsidiary now. It must be destroyed, its walls pulled down, its proud towers cast down, its fields sown with salt.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est

*Actually, I’ve been using that label for the Cheeto-faced Ferret-heedit Shitgibbon for some time.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Image: J. W. M. Turner, The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire1817.