John Bolton Is The National Security Advisor

Reactions from the national security community:

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Russiagate Open Thread: Tonight’s Roundup

I for one will be interested in hearing what Cheryl or Adam have to say about these various stories, but here’s some quick hits to start the weekend:

Members of Congress are granted no special power to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Anyone can make one. But a referral by lawmakers would draw public notice and perhaps extra attention in Mueller’s office…

Committee Democrats have no specific timeline for issuing referrals, Schiff notes. Because Republicans did not force many witnesses to turn over banking, phone, and other records that might support or contradict their claims, he says, “we can’t tell who is telling the truth in many cases.”

But new reports that contradict the truthfulness of witnesses testimony could result in referrals down the road. “As additional things come to light, if there are reports of witnesses saying things that are inconsistent with what has been said to the committee, that list could grow,” Schiff says.

Democrats say they remain open to Republicans joining them in referrals to Mueller, though Republicans would likely oppose such efforts. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a senior committee member, dismissed Democrats’ potential efforts to refer witnesses for prosecution: “Those guys just keep trying.”

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And further…

The muddled messaging was the subject of a closed-door meeting of committee Republicans on Wednesday. According to three sources briefed on the discussion, a frustrated Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) raised pointed concerns about why critiquing intelligence agencies was even mentioned at Monday’s rollout. The finding, after all, won’t be included in the committee’s official Russia report — it will be the subject of a second report issued later in the spring. But the decision to link it to the committee’s Russia findings scrambled the release.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s office also felt compelled to intervene as Republicans offered increasingly scattershot responses in interviews, with some more eager to criticize the agencies than others.

Ryan’s aides convened a meeting with members of the Intelligence Committee’s communications staff on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the gathering. The message: Make sure your bosses stick to facts about the intelligence agencies’ findings — and stay focused on the broader point that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and must be stopped from doing it again.

Ryan’s office declined to comment on the meeting…

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Meanwhile…


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And on the “Trump Family Crime Cartel” beat…

Finally, Eric Garland has an intriguing essay-in-short-bursts up on Twitter, but then Eric Garland is reputed to get ahead of his thesis sometimes, so I would definitely want a ruling from Adam or Cheryl or another expert on that one!



Good Dogs. Bad Humans. (Alternate Title: No, Virginia, The US Military Is Not A Flawless Band Of Heroes)

This story, tweeted out by the redoubtable Twitterer Angry Staff Officer (@pptsapper), breaks my heart:

In a report released on Friday, the Inspector General said that canine heroes, which saved the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan while working with brigade combat teams to sniff out roadside bombs, were mistreated by the Army after they returned to the United States…

The report said that some dogs were left in kennels for up to 11 months, beyond a deadline for giving them away for adoption or re-using them in the military or other government agencies. It said they were mistreated through lack of care and attention, and others may have been put down.

To its belated credit, as a spokesman told Reuters, “The Army concurs with the DoDIG (Defense Inspector General) report” and is implementing its recommendations.

But damn.

I mean, damn.

I know this isn’t really surprising, given the wretched history of US abandonment of local colleagues in too many conflicts.  Those people’s lives should have counted for much more than they did, we owed them more, and the costs they’ve born outweigh, to me at least, the mistreatment of animals.

But that our armed forces, acting in our names, may have committed greater sins doesn’t make lesser ones any better.

And in some ways, this story is worse, or grates more than larger tales of betrayal, because doing the right thing would have been easy.  Treating these dogs well would have made their lives better, while making the lives of their human comforters richer as well.

F**k it.

People don’t always suck, but some days, it sure seems like the default condition.

Miserably open thread.

Image: Passarotti, Portrait of a gentleman with two dogsbefore 1592.



Now They Tell Us Open Thread: Trump’s “Pure Madness”

CNN, “The Great Unraveling”:

Not since Richard Nixon started talking to the portraits on the walls of the West Wing has a president seemed so alone against the world.

One source — who is a presidential ally — is worried, really worried. The source says this past week is “different,” that advisers are scared the President is spiraling, lashing out, just out of control. For example: Demanding to hold a public session where he made promises on trade tariffs before his staff was ready, not to mention willing. “This has real economic impact,” says the source, as the Dow dropped 420 points after the President’s news Thursday. “Something is very wrong.”

Even by Trumpian standards, the chaos and the unraveling at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are a stunning — and recurring — problem.

But there’s an up-against-the-wall quality to the past couple of weeks that is striking, and the crescendo is loud, clear, unhealthy, even dangerous…

It’s this magisterial Washington Post report that seems to be getting the most attention:

Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.

These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much farther President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.”

Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust…
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Democrats Should Be Championing This

This is awesome:

On the same day a Philly.com op-ed was published in which Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (and Mayor Kenney) admitted the failure that was the “War on Drugs,” in the 1980s and ’90s, the DA’s office announced that it is suing 10 pharmaceutical companies in connection with the opioid epidemic and is dropping all outstanding marijuana possession charges.

In just a little over a month since taking office, Krasner has already built on the progress that began under former mayor Michael Nutter’s administration by further reforming the city’s drug policy to the point where getting busted with pot now no longer means a court date is in your future. Krasner says citations are issued approximately 90 percent of the time someone is caught with marijuana.

“What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” Krasner said during a press conference Thursday. From now on, the DA will advise his staff not to pursue criminal charges against anyone arrested for marijuana possession in the city. Citations currently range from $25 for possession to $100 for those caught toking up in public.

“I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do,” Krasner said when asked of his motivation. “We could use those resources to solve homicides.”

Additionally, the DA’s office said that it had filed a lawsuit on February 2nd against Big Pharma under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws for their alleged role in creating the city’s opioid epidemic. The defendants are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Allergan Finance, LLC; Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Johnson & Johnson.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia:

West Virginia lawmakers rejected a proposal Thursday that would have required drug companies to report the number of prescription opioids manufactured and shipped to the state during the past decade.

By a 20-11 vote, state senators shot down a proposed amendment to legislation that aims to curb the proliferation of prescription painkillers across West Virginia.

Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, who offered the amendment, said the state has failed to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid epidemic. He called the manufacturers and distributors “one of the primary perpetrators” of the public health crisis that claims 880 lives a year and costs the state an estimated $8 billion.

“These are companies that profited tremendously when they sold us these opioids, and now they continue to profit by selling us medication-assisted-treatment drugs to get us off the opioids we’re addicted to,” Baldwin said. “They profited from our misery.”

Senate Republicans who voted against the amendment said the measure would likely impede federal lawsuits filed by cities and towns across the state against drug distributors and manufacturers. Those cases have been consolidated with lawsuits in other states and are being heard by a federal judge in Cleveland.

Protecting businesses from their actions is our state’s #1 priority.



But Don’t Call Them Terrorists

Not surprising at all:

White supremacist and other far-right extremist groups have killed 51 police officers since 1990, according to a report published by the Anti-Defamation League last week. Left-wing extremist groups, including black nationalists, killed 11 during the same period.

In 2017 alone, black nationalists and other leftists killed no police, while white supremacists and anti-government extremists fatally attacked a police officer and two corrections officers, the report said.

But while the FBI tracks so-called “black identity extremists” as domestic terror threats — as an FBI counterterrorism report completed in August and leaked in October revealed — it doesn’t have an equivalent designation for white extremists.

Experts worry that the broad labeling of black groups, and not white ones, is an indication that federal law enforcement’s targeting of certain groups is based less on evidence than on politics.

That targeting can significantly affect how law enforcement chooses to police protests or events organized by specific groups. Many worry the report on black identity extremists specifically could be used to home in on members of Black Lives Matter – possibly infringing on their right to speak freely and protest peacefully.

The Congressional Black Caucus asked FBI Director Christopher Wray in a private meeting in November, as well as during public testimony in December, to rescind the report. Wray did not commit to doing so, but in his December testimony noted that “we continue to evaluate the data as it rolls in” and anything from a retraction to a reaffirmance to a clarification of the August report was possible. FBI spokesman Andrew Ames said Tuesday there was “no update” since then.

White people just can’t be terrorists. Them’s the rules.








Late Night Idiocracy Open Thread: SPRINGTIME FOR ‘SHERIFF’ ARPAIO

If you thought the ‘Oprah for President 2020, or Not’ fooferaw was silly, pardoned felon Joe Arpaio has a bridge candidacy to sell you!


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