Kids these days

I have incredible respect for those students. If I was 19 and standing there, I would have punched someone. The discipline and the courage to bear witness and hold onto their values without allowing themselves to respond to clear and constant provocations is incredible.

The kids are alright.



First they came for the First Amendment…

Here’s Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III trying to get off the boss’s shit list by tripling the number of leak investigations and “reviewing policies” for issuing subpoenas to reporters:

The excuse, as always, is that the leaks “place lives at risk.” Refresh my memory, y’all: Have any leaks from the Trump White House endangered troops or imperiled U.S. citizens or foreign assets — aside from when Trump opened his big fat yap and bragged to the Russians about intelligence on ISIS, torching an Israeli asset?

Anyhoo, the leak of the transcript of Trump’s conversations with the Australian PM and Mexican president is intolerable to the administration. Not because any valuable intelligence was exposed, but rather because a staggering LACK of intelligence was revealed: The president is a blithering idiot, a liar and a shitty negotiator.

David Frum wrote a piece in The Atlantic about the dangers of these leaks. Frum, a former Bushie who is fiercely anti-Trump, contends the leaks will harm the office long after Trump is toast:

But if no high national-security secret has been betrayed in these transcripts, the workings of the U.S. government have been gravely compromised, and in ways that will be very difficult to repair even after Trump leaves office. Trump’s violation of basic norms of government has driven people who would otherwise uphold those norms unto death to violate them in their turn. Contempt for Trump’s misconduct inspires counter-misconduct.

Nor is that the end. The less Trump can trust the regularly constituted government, the more justified he will feel in working irregularly. His irregular actions then justify more counter-irregularity from the rest of the government.

Donald Trump has launched the executive branch into a cycle of self-destruction for which he bears ultimate blame—but whose ultimate cost will be borne by his successors and the American nation.

Maybe. But writing in the New Republic, Brian Beutler takes the opposite view:

Many have been quick to assume that this leak will have a chilling effect on U.S. relations with other countries, without stopping to ponder the likelihood that some foreign leaders might be relieved to learn that factions within the U.S. government are taking extraordinary steps to weaken this particular president.

If there are norms worth fretting over here, they aren’t the ones that govern whistleblowing, but the ones that should govern what U.S. political leaders do when the president is too incompetent to serve. It is because of their cowardice—their refusal to uphold norms they were elected and appointed to guard—that these transcripts leaked in the first place.

Beutler makes a good point. Outside of the deplorable bubble, the majority of the country and the rest of the world know Trump isn’t up to the job. Personally, I’m unnerved by how comforting I now find the presence of institutions and people I once (and still) regard with healthy suspicion, including the intelligence community and Republican special prosecutors.

Beutler also brings up the three generals who are charged with babysitting Trump: McMaster, Mattis and Kelly. There’s another unnerving specter — unelected generals running the show behind the scenes. Some of y’all have expressed similar misgivings, while others have noted that at least McMaster and Mattis are intelligent, competent men who aren’t given to rash action, unlike their boss.

So, the leaks will likely continue, no matter how hard the KKKeebler Elf stamps his widdle feet and wiggles his oddly angled ears. Trump and his flunkies will continue to fume about it, and even people who don’t support Trump will wring their hands. But I think Beutler is right: We should blame the craven shits in Congress who not only have the power but the duty to protect us from an incompetent executive and are refusing to do their jobs.



This is Not Normal

The fact that the GOP’s Cheeto Jeebus issued a series of tweets about an apparently new transgender policy (but not really, since there is no policy) has been discussed, but a couple quick things:

A.) They are not your fucking generals, you orange shitstain. None of this is yours, you anal drip, it’s OURS.

B.) While you are talking to your fucking generals, how ’bout that plan to defeat ISIS you kept talking about having ready in thirty days, cuz we’re still waiting for that shitshow.

C.) You did no consultation at all, and everyone knows that bible thumping fetus fetishist, rampant homophobe, mother of a modern HIV crisis, all around know-nothing bigot, and Grand Mullah of the American Taliban Mike Pence was doing it behind the scenes, and I guaran-fucking-tee that the first you heard of this was when it was mentioned to you in passing this morning and three minutes later your tiny little dickbeaters were pounding out this nonsense on what I am fucking also sure is an unsecured phone.

D.) They had no intention for you to go live with it so that is why there was a nine minute delay between your first tweet and the subsequent two, at which point they debated for a few minutes and decided “fuck it, it’s too late now, AND WHO THE FUCK TOLD HIM?” and parts two and three came out:

E.) And since you are a fucking clueless douchecanoe who has no idea how to govern and didn’t ACTUALLY consult with OUR generals about this, this fucking happened:

The Department of Defense referred all questions to President Trump’s administration. “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future,” said Naval Capt. Jeff Davis, the director of defense press operations.

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is on vacation this week, and defense officials said Mattis knew that Trump was considering the policy change. It is unclear if he approved it.

Fuck every single person who voted for Trump.



Friday Morning Open Thread: Pressure Upon Their Most Precious, Sensitive Area

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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Namely C.R.E.A.M.! You thought things were tense between the GOP and Trump before? The Washington Post drops a little zinger in a long story about Trump’s beleagured legal team…

The challenge for President Trump’s attorneys has become, at its core, managing the unmanageable — their client.

He won’t follow instructions. After one meeting in which they urged Trump to steer clear of a certain topic, he sent a tweet about that very theme before they arrived back at their office.

He won’t compartmentalize. With aides, advisers and friends breezing in and out of the Oval Office, it is not uncommon for the president to suddenly turn the conversation to Russia — a subject that perpetually gnaws at him — in a meeting about something else entirely.

And he won’t discipline himself. Trump’s legal team, led by Marc E. Kasowitz of New York, is laboring to underscore the potential risk to the president if he engages without a lawyer in discussions with other people under scrutiny in widening Russia inquiries, including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser…

Another question is who will pay the legal fees for the president and administration officials involved in the Russia inquiries. Some in Trump’s orbit are pushing the Republican National Committee to bear the costs, said three people with knowledge of the situation, including one who euphemistically described the debate as a “robust discussion.”

Although the RNC does have a legal defense fund, it well predates the Russia investigations and is intended to be used for legal challenges facing the Republican Party, such as a potential election recount.

The RNC has not made a decision, in part because the committee is still researching whether the money could legally be used to help pay legal costs related to Russia. But many within the organization are resisting the effort, thinking it would be more appropriate to create a separate legal defense fund for the case.

RNC officials declined requests for comment. The White House has not said whether Trump, Kushner and other officials are paying their legal bills themselves or whether they are being covered by an outside entity…

Of course, Donald Trump has never voluntarily paid for anything in his life. But now he’s a loose cannon, and it’s becoming ever more obvious that when Putin decided to ratfvck the 2016 elections, he spread a net wide enough to entrap quite a few of the highest profile Repubs now in office. Do Ryan, McConnell, and Priebus bite the bullet and raid the Party’s bank account to keep Lord Smallglove’s flapping mouth a little further along from Mueller’s ears? And even if they do throw good money after bad, will it be enough to at least give them time to coordinate some more believable alibis?

***********

Apart from waiting for the usual Friday doc dump, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Thursday Evening Open Thread: The Gang That Couldn’t Grift Straight

Forty-odd years of being carefully nursed by right-wing billionairs has really ruined the GOP grifters’ criminal stamina. Sure, Tricky Dick’s CREEPsters and St. Ronnie’s Iran-contra thugs were dumb and impulsive, but they didn’t break down like wet toilet paper at the first sign of exposure!

Apart from always wearing rubber gloves while dealing with Repubs, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
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Open Thread: Now It’s Gotten VSP-Serious

The Dow gained it back, to close “flat”. But who else remembers the Doonesbury cartoon during the Watergate trial, where CEO Slackmeyer announces, “When the Dow drops below [x], it’s time to get the nooses”?

The Washington Post spoke with experts who believe that emails show Trump Jr. having probably “crossed the line on conspiracy to commit election fraud or conspiracy to obtain information from a foreign adversary.”

That last part alone is illegal, Noble explained.

“Anyone soliciting a foreign contribution is violating the law,” he said — and that includes opposition research, such as what was embraced by Trump Jr. One legal bar is whether someone provides “substantial assistance” to obtaining something of value from a foreign national. “Given the emails,” Noble said, “I think that’s substantial assistance.”…

“Had he been running the Trump businesses and not been involved in the campaign. Not been traveling on behalf of the campaign. Not been speaking out for his father,” Noble said, “they might have an argument” that Trump Jr. wasn’t acting on behalf of the campaign. Trump Jr. didn’t need an official campaign title to be part of the campaign — and, besides, Noble said, he had one. Son.

(As for traveling for the campaign: Federal records show that Trump Jr. was reimbursed for nearly $30,000 in travel expenses by the Trump campaign.)

Trump Jr. was part of the campaign. Trump Jr. set up a meeting with other campaign representatives to receive what he thought was material impugning an opponent that, he was told, came directly from the Russian government. (In fact, he was told that it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” something that President Trump has long denied existed. Trump Jr. doesn’t appear to have balked at that description.) In other words, it’s no longer possible to deny that the campaign sought to collude with the Russian government in its meddling efforts…


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Another Russiagate Open Thread: Projection That IMAX Can Only Envy

If there’s anything a smart Russian lawyer would understand, it’s how to manipulate the half-witted offspring of a couple of crooked ‘developers’ working for a paranoid oligarch…


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