Let the Stalinist Purges Begin (Zombie Lies Never Die)

This is a charming little tidbit of what a future Trump administration will do to the country:

If he wins the presidency, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would seek to purge the federal government of officials appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama and could ask Congress to pass legislation making it easier to fire public workers, Trump ally, Chris Christie, said on Tuesday.

Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump’s White House transition team, said the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,” Christie told a closed-door meeting with dozens of donors at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters and two participants in the meeting.

At least they are not threatening to publicly execute them. Yet. The reason for this is simple- Republicans don’t like a functioning government, so they will replace all the civil servants who actually do their jobs with apparatchiks. Monica Goodling, “Heckuva job Brownie,” anyone?

Christie, who is allegedly a former prosecutor who is supposed to deal with facts, offers up this justification for this purge of civil service employees:

“It’s called burrowing,” Christie said. “You take them from the political appointee side into the civil service side, in order to try to set up … roadblocks for your successor, kind of like when all the Clinton people took all the Ws off the keyboard when George Bush was coming into the White House.”

Christie was referring to pranks committed during the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush in 2001. During that period, some White House staffers removed the W key on computer keyboards and left derogatory signs and stickers in offices, according to a report by the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

Except that never happened, and our failed media let’s it slide:

The technological problems the vandals wrought were so severe that, according to a report in the New York Daily News, “a telecommunications staffer with more than a quarter-century of service was seen sobbing.”

“Phone lines cut, drawers filled with glue, door locks jimmied so that arriving Bush staff got locked inside their new offices,” a disapproving Andrea Mitchell reported on NBC News. The message seemed clear: The trailer-trash Clintons and their staff had enjoyed one last bacchanal at taxpayer expense.

Now it seems those closely detailed stories were largely bunk. Last week it was revealed that a formal review by the General Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative agency, “had found no damage to the offices of the White House’s East or West Wings or EOB” and that Bush’s own representatives had reported “there is no record of damage that may have been deliberately caused by the employees of the Clinton administration.”

While cautious GSA staffers won’t issue a blanket exoneration of the Clinton team, Bernard Ungar, the agency’s director of physical infrastructure, told Salon the media clearly exaggerated the extent of the damage. According to the terse GSA statement that formed the basis of Ungar’s conclusion, “the condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy.”

Heckuva job, Reuters reporter Emily Flitter!

What Ailes The Republican Party?

To follow up on Betty’s post below…

I’ve been thinking about Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against that omphalos of evil, Roger Ailes, since it dropped.  You all know the essence:

In a suit filed Wednesday in superior court in Bergen County, N.J., Carlson alleges that Ailes “unlawfully retaliated” against her and “sabotaged her career after she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”

“I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” the complaint says Ailes told Carlson last September when she complained to him. He allegedly added, “Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.”

Even in that first story, there was plenty of evidence that Ailes is a serial harasser, a man for whom the women in his employ are objects to be manipulated (in the root sense of that word) at his pleasure:

While an executive at NBC, Ailes was accused of making sexually suggestive comments to various female underlings, according to a 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” A young woman named Randi Harrison said Ailes offered to her increase her salary by $100 a week if she would have sex with him, according to the book. A producer named Shelly Ross said Ailes posed “romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments about her appearance.” Ross said she told him, “This is making me uncomfortable.”

Over the next several days, many more women have come forward to add their accounts:

In recent days, more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey–based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period, dating back to the 1960s, when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. “These are women who have never told these stories until now,” Smith told me. “Some are in a lot of pain.” Taken together, these stories portray Ailes as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities…


Read the whole piece at that link for some heart breaking memories.

If Ailes is really gone, the nail in the coffin may have been hammered by the Fox News megastar,  Megyn Kelly:

According to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe of the Fox News executive, led by New York–based law firm Paul, Weiss, Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has been doing seriously good work on this story, which makes this nugget from his Kelly post so interesting:

According to two sources, Monday afternoon lawyers for 21st Century Fox gave Ailes a deadline of August 1 to resign or face being fired for cause.

So, good.  It looks like a truly monstrous figure is on his way out.

I’m as thrilled as anyone at that likely outcome, for all that Ailes’ well-padded crash ($40,000,000 buys a lot of whisky to cry into) is coming decades late.  But there’s a larger story that isn’t getting enough attention.

That is:  Roger Ailes isn’t just a network boss who has managed to deliver ratings to his owner.  He has been perhaps the single most important figure in the forging of today’s Republican party.  His Fox News has set the agenda, constructed the alternate reality, shattered the norms, and altered much for the worse what it means to be a Republican leader or voter.

He’s the architect and engineer of the hate-based, race-focused, anti-science, know-nothing tendency in American politics.  His triumph, his conquest of so much of American government at every level, has reached its apotheosis in the home-video version of Triumph of the Will we’re all seeing in Cleveland this week.  And he is a person who has, throughout his entire working life it seems, defined women as toys to be played with or broken at his whim.

I do not suggest that the Republican party, even in its current desperately debased state, is filled with people who would do as Ailes is alleged to have done.  But Ailes’ signal success has been in shaping how the party thinks, how its members and leaders think the world works.  And that influence is shot through with a sense of whose views count and whose don’t.  In Ailes life, half the world doesn’t rise to the level of agent, of people whose existence demands respect.

The fish rots at the head.

Image:  Simon Vouet, The Rape of Lucretia, 17th century. (Not my favorite of this subject. Rubens’ is great, and I’m a sucker for Tintoretto’s pearls.  But I wanted to keep the post SFW, so Vouet will do.)

Is Evil Prick Roger Ailes Out at Fox News?

Can it be true? Can the vile body-snatcher who orchestrated the replacement of so many nice nanas and agreeable grampies with angry, sputtering, screechy FoxBots have been shoved out of the Murdoch dirigible with a hefty cash cushion? Maybe! From the Beastly Beast:

Several outlets reported Tuesday that beleagured chairman and CEO Roger Ailes will depart the cable news network following sexual harassment claims by former anchor Gretchen Carlson. According to a document obtained by the Drudge Report, Ailes will receive at least a $40 million buyout from the network. The news comes hours after New York Magazine reporter Gabe Sherman wrote that Fox News star Megyn Kelly told investigators hired by 21st Century Fox that Ailes had sexually harassed her ten years ago.

Fox initially confirmed Drudge’s report to The Daily Beast, and subsequently walked back that confirmation. Additionally, Drudge replaced a headline touting the buyout with a new one on “Fox News Drama,” including a statement from the network: “Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.”

Yeah, women who’ve been sexually harassed never have to make nice with the powerful fucks who demean and humiliate them. Anita Hill can tell you all about that.

Anyhoo, true or not, this is a wonderful time to be alive, comrades, what with the Trump convention imploding like a barrel of rancid haggis and now the possibility of the obliteration of the Fox Death Star. Yub-yub, motherfuckers!

Tell that fucking bullshit to the tourists

I often tell people that national American politics primarily about race, that no one cares about smaller government or individual rights or any of that crap, and that the proof of this is that white southerners voted overwhelmingly for Democrats before the Civil Rights era and now vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. This George Wallace quote tells you all you need to know:

“You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”

There’s other stuff around the edges, people like a good economy and dislike disastrous wars, but when it comes to basic party allegiances in the main, everything boils down to race and attitudes about it. The end.

The southern strategy was the smart move (Nixon was always smarter). But it was a strategy and let’s not pretend it’s a coincidence that the Republican party became dominated by white identity politics.

When I say this out loud in real life, anyone who has even a little bit of totebagger in them looks at me like I was Ward Churchill. I don’t mean just the “David Brooks has a good point” dead-enders, I mean even the moderate totebaggers (the ones we should arm).

So fuck all that “oh no, Donald Trump is such a sad turn for the party of Lincoln”. Atrios says it well:

You know, they haven’t actually been hiding it. Even that nice Mr. Brooks isn’t, you know, nice. Respectable demeanor is not the same thing as nice. They’ve been all about kicking the poors and the blahs and the gays and the whoever they can get the press to see as a “sides disagree” issue (are black people stupid? the two sides disagree) that week as long as I can remember. Trump just isn’t as well-trained and he does not give a fuck. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Trump, but most of those are reasons to dislike most Republicans. With Trump, the people who think they should and do run the country worry they’ll lose control. That’s the main difference.

Open Thread: Not All Is Gold That Glisters

liberace behind the candelabra photo hbo


And Now for the Other Side of Policing: What You Don’t Hear Much About

As valued commenter CMM has reminded us in comments to the previous thread, most law enforcement officers are good people that do a lot of good things that don’t get a lot of press attention. I saw this story earlier this week and had meant to put it up as a late night/early morning feel good open thread, but the events of the past three or four days have overtaken things a bit. So here’s the story:

Police in Barnesville, GA responded to a report of someone sleeping in a tent outside of Barnesville Gordon State College. They found 19 year old Fred Barley who’d come to school early before the start of his sophomore year on his younger brother’s bicycle. From Conyers, GA – a six hour bike ride! He was homeless as the dorms don’t open for another month or so and he was camping out at night while bicycling around looking for a job. While the responding officers couldn’t let him continue to camp out, each of them paid for him to have a night at a local motel. One of the responding officers, Dicky Carreker’s wife posted about Fred on her Facebook post. Donations immediately poured in totaling $70,000 so far, as well as a new, adult sized bike, clothes, shoes, and food. A local restaurant owner created a  job for Fred, which he has accepted, and the motel owner is providing lodging for free until Barnesville Gordon State College can get him into the dorms, which they’ve indicated they will do early.

Maybe you heard or saw this story, maybe you didn’t. But given all the negative things we’ve been exposed to over the past two weeks in the news, its important to remember that despite the “it bleeds, it leads” and “controversy creates cash” models of the news media in their pursuit of profit and the fact that with 24/7 news and social media everything negative is amplified and constantly coming at us, that good things, done by good people still happen. Here’s the link to video of Fred Barley thanking everyone in Barnesville for their support.

Bird Brains (Open Thread)

This morning, I was reading an article about seagulls at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” site. Many people dislike seagulls, and it’s true that they can come off as obnoxious beach pigeons.

But if you can look past their propensity to snatch a Dorito out of your hand and shit all over your car and instead focus on their social behavior, seagulls display some admirable traits, including the ability to learn to ignore the hysterical morons within their colonies:

[Nobel Prize-winning animal behavior researcher Nikolaas] Tinbergen observed that Herring Gulls also learn which individuals are worth paying attention to. He noted that they ignore alarm calls from individuals they know to be skittish, but freak out when trusted neighbors utter a sound.

So even among seagulls, there are Chicken Littles, and the wiser gulls learn to pay them no mind. There’s a lesson here for us flightless creatures, who will be exposed to a constant barrage of “SKREE! SKREE! SKREE!” for the next few months. We all get to choose what kind of gull we want to be.

Open thread!