Odds and Odds Without End

I miss the good old days (2008-2016) when a person could unplug for 12 hours and not find evidence of traitorous behavior in the highest levels of government and multiple instances of chief executive buffoonery upon reentering the media stream. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

This seems significant:

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement, according to new documents obtained by the House oversight committee…

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, in a statement. “Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation.

This stinks to high heaven, y’all. This specimen simply must be questioned under oath.

I’ve read a theory that Trump die-hards in the wingnut media are recognizing that this Russia business has the potential to bring the orange fart-sack down, so they’re creating an alternative narrative that, while the Trump campaign was thoroughly infested with Russian operators, he was personally clueless about it during the campaign but has now turned wily spy-hunter. That’s the line taken by tabloid trash purveyor David Pecker, Trump friend and aptly named publisher of the National Enquirer.

In another curious turnabout, Trump favorite and notorious Hillary-hater Judge Napolitano of Fox News published an op-ed questioning FBI Director Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation before the election:

How could Comey justify the public revelation of a criminal investigation and a summary of evidence of guilt about one candidate for president and remain silent about the existence of a criminal investigation of the campaign of another? How could he deny knowledge of surveillance that was well-known in the intelligence community, even among his own agents? Why would the FBI director inject his agents, who have prided themselves on professional political neutrality, into a bitterly contested campaign having been warned it might affect the outcome? Why did he reject the law’s just commands of silence in favor of putting his thumb on political scales?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. But the American public, and Hillary Clinton, is entitled to them.

Truth from an unlikely source. Will the fact that even Fox News bigwigs are questioning his precious integrity and impugning his self-cherished aura of bipartisan competence spur Comey to attempt to unshit the bed he so thoroughly shat in 2016? We’ll see.

It also appears that Trump got pantsed by Canada and Mexico after blustering about NAFTA yesterday. He’s agreed to “renegotiations” rather than following through on threats to unilaterally withdraw. Possibly Peña and Trudeau simply explained how the treaty works, just as President Xi held an impromptu “North Korea for Dummies” seminar at Trump’s private club, clueing Twitler in on the complexities of that situation.

Were I a citizen of Canada or Mexico, I’d be dancing with glee at the prospect of the upcoming negotiations with such an easily provoked, idiotic ass. The upside for us? Maybe we’ll get taco trucks on every corner after all, with a Tim Horton’s across the street!

There are at least half a dozen more news items that would be screaming headlines for weeks in a normal administration, such as Trump’s idea to break up the 9th Circuit Court because he doesn’t like its rulings. I didn’t need to read about that after watching the first three episodes of “A Handmaid’s Tale” yesterday.

Anyhoo, I miss the days when a tan suit could cause a media furor. Open thread!








Empowerful

Via TPM, Axios, the landing pad for Politico rejects, transcribed Ivanka Trump’s latest women’s empowerment scheme:

I’m sure this is fine. It’s not like a fund that leverages political connections at the highest levels to buttonhole the rich and powerful worldwide would be seen as problematic during a political campaign — much less when operated from the White House by the president’s daughter, business partner and official adviser.

Crispy Cajun-fried Jeebus, I sure hope Hillary Clinton has a well-developed capacity for ironic amusement.



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.



Surely the Germans have a word for this…

I’ve long thought we’d be better off if the entire Beltway media contingent were summarily converted to Walmart greeters and their papers’ foreign correspondents recalled to replace them, then instructed to cover domestic politics as if still writing dispatches from a foreign capital.

That view was reinforced this morning by the spectacle of the German media politely covering Ivanka Trump like the presumptuous banana republic princess she is, something American infotainment personalities have repeatedly failed to do. Via Politico:

BERLIN — Ivanka Trump arrived in Berlin Tuesday morning armed with facts and figures to recite at what was expected to be a high-brow international summit to discuss women entrepreneurship, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But on her first international trip as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.

“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel, said. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”

“Certainly not the latter,” Ivanka Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well…It has been a little under 100 days and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”

We’re all unfamiliar with the role because it shouldn’t exist, not outside a tin-horn kleptocracy. But while Trump’s sole non-fluff response about her role was to explicitly deny that she represents her business, the only tangible results she’s achieved in “office” have accrued to her brand. She’s done exactly nothing to “moderate” her lunatic father or advance the vague objectives she supposedly champions, i.e., empowering women and families.

Ivanka Trump, who was deeply involved with her father’s campaign and has been instrumental in his administration in the first three months in office, positioned herself as someone who is still in humbling listening tour mode. “I’m striving to think about how best to empower women in the economy,” she said, at one point calling herself a feminist. “I have no doubt that coming out of this trip I’ll be more informed.”

But she was booed and hissed at by the majority-women audience at the conference when she lauded her father for supporting paid leave policies. “I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” she said, calling him “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The Politico account overdramatizes the reaction (shocking, I know) — it was more of a collective groan at the absurdity of framing the grotesque orange pussy-grabber as an advocate rather than actual booing and hissing (at least on the audio I heard). When asked to respond to the audience reaction, where the elder Trump would have screeched “FAKE NEWS,” Ivanka replied with a more modulated, polysyllabic version of that non-response:

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, that’s been perpetuated,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.

Good for them, because laughter is an appropriate response to that ridiculous deflection. But Ivanka, still determined to pass her gross old fart-sack of a father off as pro-woman, barfed up the following treacle:

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level. I grew up in a house where there were no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do, he provided that for us. There was no difference [between Trump’s treatment of her and her brothers].

Well, Trump didn’t repeatedly imply that he’d like to shag the sons, so that’s at least one difference. But again, the overweening entitlement and self-regard. This isn’t a person who was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple. This is someone who was born in the Diamond Suite in the clubhouse and thinks she won the World Series.

Still, even people who should know better will go on assuming the shitgibbon’s chief enabler is a good influence and deserves credit for curbing the worst of her vile shit-stain of a father’s excesses. Jon Oliver dispatched this myth ably late last week:

The most telling tidbit was a quote from Ivanka’s book, “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life,” which flat-out telegraphs her current role in the Trump shit-show:

Perception is more important that reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.

As Oliver says, the apple didn’t fall very far from the orange. And the word I was looking for up top is “Scheiße,” which I imagine in thought-bubbles over the heads of the accomplished women who had to share a stage with this vapid dilettante. It’s just so embarrassing.



Yom HaShoah 2017

Today is Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day*) 2017. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, this year’s Yom HaShoah focused on six torchlighters. The folks at Yad Vashem define a torchlighter as:

Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Their wartime experiences reflect the central theme chosen by Yad Vashem for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The torches are lit during the central memorial ceremony held at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This year’s six torchlighters have provided video testimonies. You can see them all at the link, but I’ll post a couple below.

The US Holocaust Museum has also stated that the President will be speaking at their Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony at the Capitol tomorrow. The President was able to release a video statement of remembrance of Holocaust victims today that did not forget to mention Jews.

Today is also the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide. As the LA Times reports:

Turkey has long denied that a genocide took place, arguing that the killings can’t be separated from the historical context of global upheaval during World War I, and that many Turks also were killed. But most historians outside Turkey describe a state-organized campaign of ethnic cleansing that meets the definition of genocide.

Schiff and U.S. Rep. Dave Trott (R-Michigan) last month introduced a resolution asking Congress to formally recognize the genocide.

“Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire undertook a brutal campaign of murder, rape, and displacement against the Armenian people that took the lives of 1.5 million men, women, and children in the first genocide of the 20th century,” Schiff said in a statement. “Genocide is not a historic relic — even today hundreds of thousands of religious minorities face existential threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It is therefore all the more pressing that the Congress recognize the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and stand against modern day genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Schiff has, for years, sought official recognition of the genocide from Congress.

The release of the movie The Promise, which focuses on the Armenian genocide is being released to coincide with the anniversary, which should keep this horrible, and often poorly remembered, if not forgotten, historical atrocity in the news. And irk the Turks.

Update at 9:33 PM EDT

Commenter Debbie provided this interesting link to an NPR report regarding the Armenian Genocide.

Recently Discovered Telegram Reveals Evidence For Armenian Genocide

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University, who uncovered an original telegram as evidence for the Armenian genocide.

We now return you to your previously scheduled post.

I’ll leave you all with a video of Professor Norman Goda, The Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies, Department of History, University of Florida. I had the honor and privilege to arrange for Professor Goda to be the keynote speaker for USAWC’s 2014 Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance Month. The video below is based on his book: Hitler’s Shadow: NAZI War Criminals, US Intelligence, and the Cold War.

* I do not know why there is an International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January and Yom HaShoah in April. Though the latter is an official holiday in Israel.



Babbling Idiot Babbles Unintelligibly

Velveeta Voldemort’s AP interview from last Friday is getting a lot of social media attention. (Transcript here via TPM.) I’m not sure why people find it noteworthy.

It’s a random, incoherent stew of hyper-aggressive posturing, bald-faced lies, butthurt braggadocio and demented ravings. In other words, it’s a typical Trump interview.

Folks have seized on the numerous passages marked “unintelligible,” and indeed it is strange that a grown-ass man who successfully masqueraded as an executive for several decades and managed to accrue tens of millions of votes is so profoundly inarticulate. But while remarkable in a historical sense, that’s hardly news now.

The thing I found most interesting (as a real-time psychological decompensation artifact) was the way Trump ended the interview, by lying about a new trick he claims to have learned over the past year:

TRUMP: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.

AP: You just said you did.

TRUMP: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say (inaudible)?

AP: You just said —

TRUMP: Where? Where?

AP: Two minutes ago.

TRUMP: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it. Now I heard yesterday that MSNBC, you know, they tell me what’s going on.

AP: Right.

TRUMP: In fact, they also did. I never thought I had the ability to not watch. Like, people think I watch (MSNBC’s) “Morning Joe.” I don’t watch “Morning Joe.” I never thought I had the ability to, and who used to treat me great by the way, when I played the game. I never thought I had the ability to not watch what is unpleasant, if it’s about me. Or pleasant. But when I see it’s such false reporting and such bad reporting and false reporting that I’ve developed an ability that I never thought I had. I don’t watch things that are unpleasant. I just don’t watch them.

AP: And do you feel like that’s, that’s because of the office that you now occupy —

TRUMP: No.

AP: That you’ve made that change?

TRUMP: I don’t know why it is, but I’ve developed that ability, and it’s happened over the last, over the last year.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: And I don’t watch things that I know are going to be unpleasant. CNN has covered me unfairly and incorrectly and I don’t watch them anymore. A lot of people don’t watch them anymore, they’re now in third place. But I’ve created something where people are watching … but I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC anymore. I don’t watch things, and I never thought I had that ability. I always thought I’d watch.

AP: Sure.

TRUMP: I just don’t. And that’s taken place over the last year. And you know what that is, that’s a great, it’s a great thing because you leave, you leave for work in the morning you know, you’re, you don’t watch this total negativity. I never thought I’d be able to do that and for me, it’s so easy to do now. Just don’t watch.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: Maybe it’s because I’m here. I don’t know.

So that’s how the awesome responsibilities of the office have changed Trump, by his own reckoning: He has developed the ability to refrain from watching media coverage about himself.

We know he’s lying — the AP reporter busted him in real time, and Trump famously live-tweets the shows he claims he doesn’t watch. But I think it’s fascinating that Trump felt this was important enough to put on the record when asked about how his decisions are affected by the 24/7 news cycle. If you wave away the squid-cloud of butthurt and hack through the tangle of self-congratulations, the bottom line is he’s retreated fully into the Fox bubble.

Bear in mind that as a candidate, Trump said he gets his information from “the shows,” and that doesn’t seem to have changed much now that he has access to perhaps the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatuses in human history. Odd pronouncements that seem to be nods to Fox News hysteria-objects continue to appear in official policy documents emanating from the White House, such as the weird Trumpcare fixation on lottery winners on Medicaid.

“The shows” also seemed to have set off the accusations about President Obama “wiretapping” Trump Tower and the subsequent flurry of possibly illegal and certainly unethical actions on the part of Rep. Nunes and White House staff in an attempt to provide cover for Trump’s paranoid Twitter ravings.

So, the key takeaway from this interview (for me, at least) is that, yep, your Fox-addled grandpa is in charge of the nuclear codes. Terrifying? Yes. But there’s nothing new to see here, folks.



French Election Results are Coming In

The polls have closed in France and the election results are starting to come in and it looks like Macron versus Le Pen in the second round. From The Guardian‘s live blog:

14:06

14:01

Initial vote estimate: Macron and Le Pen through to runoff