The Taoiseach Lays the Smack Down: Enda Kenney’s 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Address

At yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring the Irish PM, Enda Kenny, the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Taoiseach made his feelings known about the President’s, and by extension, the Republican Party’s current policy preferences on immigration. Kenny’s White House remarks received praise almost everywhere, including in Ireland, where there had been significant concern on whether he should cancel out of this year’s event.

The Taoiseach’s speech on immigration has received global recognition for ‘lecturing’ US President Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick’s day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”.

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants – but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

At the 6:30 mark of the video below you can watch and listen to the Taoiseach’s full remarks following the President’s remarks.

The much excerpted point of Kenney’s remarks are these one minute and fifty-two seconds:



National Embarrassment Embarrasses Nation

Here’s a fascinating exchange between Trump and a reporter, who asks about the British national security organization GCHQ’s sharp rebuke of Trump’s claim that they (GCHQ) had a role in spying on Trump at President Obama’s behest:

Jaffy highlights Trump’s reference to Merkel’s phone being tapped, but what I find most interesting is what occurred next: Trump shifted blame for the false claim about GCHQ to Fox News. As if U.S. presidents bear no responsibility for babbling unverified nonsense in public.

I think I mentioned to y’all a while back that our family, alarmed by our grandma’s transformation from a conservative but kindly old lady into a rage-filled Fox bot, secretly activated the parental controls on her TV and blocked Fox News. In a matter of days, she turned back into a kindly old wingnut and now dotes on Animal Planet.

On the basis of our successful experiment and in the spirit of bipartisanship, I offer the following information to Sean Spicer, who, while undoubtedly a vile sack of shit, is probably weary of being trotted out daily to defend the indefensible:

To set up and use Parental Controls:

1. Press the Menu button on your remote.

The Main Menu is displayed on your TV screen.

2. Highlight System and press OK/Select.

3. Using the arrow buttons on your remote, highlight Settings and press OK/Select

4. Select Parental/Purchase and press OK/Select.

5. Create or enter your 4-digit Parental Controls PIN. You’ll then need to retype your PIN to confirm your selection.

6. Select Parental Controls to turn them on.

7. Select Parental Preferences to block by content rating/channel/day/time or to control adult information.

You can’t fix stupid and hateful, but you can deprive it of fuel. You’re welcome, Spicer.



DDoT Attack

This came up in the morning thread, but I’m sure it’s emblematic of a pattern we’ll see repeated nonstop until the Trump Error is no more; via WaPo:

LONDON — In a highly unusual move, Britain’s main surveillance agency slapped down allegations that the Obama administration used it to spy on Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, saying the claims were “utterly ridiculous.”

The unit, known as the GCHQ, is the British equivalent of the National Security Agency and usually remains tight-lipped on allegations related to intelligence matters. Its normal practice is to neither confirm nor deny claims.

Not this time.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” GCHQ said in a statement.

The agency’s public denial followed a contentious press briefing in Washington on Thursday where White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that Trump stands by his explosive charge that Obama spied on him during the 2016 presidential election. Spicer has, however, attempted to soften Trump’s initial allegation, saying that that Trump’s use of the word “wiretap” was not meant to be taken literally, but to refer to surveillance more generally.

During the briefing, Spicer cited claims made earlier this week on Fox News by Napolitano. The former judge told the broadcaster that sources had informed Fox News that Obama used Britain’s GCHQ so “there’s no American fingerprints on this.”

Trump will never stop spouting absurd, easily disprovable lies, so his minions will continue to craft ridiculous post-hoc rationales for those lies (e.g., the Brits did it!), and the White House will keep trotting Spicer out to disseminate the lies. I hope the media peeps never stop hounding him about it and that our exasperated allies continue to call bullshit when they’re drawn into Trump’s vortex of mendacity.

There are so many scandals and absurdities floating around this defiled, dysfunctional White House at any given moment — issues that in pre-Trump America would have ground a normal administration to a halt until resolved. There are too many for anyone to handle at once, so the media will continue to fixate on One Big Lie at a time. This week, it’s that the marmalade hairball in the Oval Office accused his vastly more popular predecessor of a felony.

I don’t think the Trump people are masterminds who are deliberately distracting us; I believe they are hapless shitlords who are stepping on their own dicks as they lurch from one catastrophic fuckup to another. However, the effect reminds me very much of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack — let’s call it a distributed denial of truth (DDoT) attack.

The DDoT is the effect, but the cause has been clear throughout Trump’s turn in public life: He’s a compulsive liar who cannot admit fault when called on his lies. That was one thing when Trump was merely a loudmouthed crook who bilked rubes and shook down municipalities in the real estate / education scam / name licensing business.

It’s quite another now that he’s got minions entrenched in positions of great power who are willing to squander the international prestige of the United States of America in a lame attempt to clean up after the boss. I try to remain optimistic, but I don’t see how this ends well, to be honest. But hey, at least it’s Friday! Open thread!



Jason Kander sums it up…

Here’s a tweet from Jason Kander, who would make a much better senator than that grinning potato sack Roy Blunt:

Matter #1 alludes to the growing bipartisan consensus that Trump is full of shit about the wiretap. Via WaPo:

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee joined the chorus of lawmakers stating they are not aware of any current evidence supporting President Trump’s claim that his campaign headquarters was wiretapped during the presidential election.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Thursday released a joint statement with the ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), stating that they have not seen data supporting Trump’s claim.

“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” they said.

Burr and Warner are leading the Senate investigation into Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 elections to aid Trump. They are also examining alleged ties between Trump aides and Russian officials. They were joined last week and again on Wednesday by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — leading a similar investigation in the House — who also stated that he has not seen evidence to support the president’s complaint that his offices were wiretapped during the campaign.

Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, declared flatly Wednesday that there was no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped while Trump was a candidate.

Matter #2 refers to a story in The Forward, which was referenced in the thread downstairs by valued commenters Jeffro and Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II, leaders of the organization have told the Forward.

The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was established as a loyalist group by Admiral Miklos Horthy, who ruled Hungary as a staunch nationalist from 1920 to October 1944. A self-confessed anti-Semite, Horthy imposed restrictive Jewish laws prior to World War II and collaborated with Hitler during the conflict. His cooperation with the Nazi regime included the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews into Nazi hands.

But Ivanka! I’m sure Spicer is spinning like a top at this very moment, but I’ve got more interesting things to watch, like the fungal growth on the bottom of the birdbath outside my window. Open thread?



The 360-Degree Pivot

It’s impossible to keep up with the avalanche of insanity tumbling down Mount Trump, but two things jumped out at me while I was catching up on the news this morning after a short hiatus. The first is that Trump undermined Spicer’s attempt to walk back the bogus “wiretap” accusation.

Spicer had the unenviable task of convincing a skeptical public that the words Trump used in his insane tweets had an entirely different meaning than what English speakers recognize as the definitions of the terms. He said when Trump used the word “wiretap” in quotation marks, he meant surveillance broadly and that when he said “Obama,” he meant the entire Obama administration. Presumably, we’re also to conclude that when Trump tweeted “bad (or sick) guy,” he meant “bad (or sick) administration.”

It’s ridiculous, of course, but Spicer was dispatched to make that argument because otherwise, the fact that a sitting president just called his vastly more popular predecessor a felon with no proof at all was just hanging out there. But then Trump had to go and undermine Spicer’s work last night during an interview with smirking fraud Tucker Carlson:

I’m zeroing in on the claim that Trump supposedly has evidence that will validate his wild accusations (bold prediction: he doesn’t), but the whole exchange excerpted by @BraddJaffy on Twitter is worth reading because it’s just so…nuts. According to Trump, it wasn’t his absurd accusation that derailed the positive press he was receiving from his crappy speech to congress; it was the machinations of media outlets that are out to get him. According to Trump, he didn’t get the nutso “wiretap” notion from crackpots on talk radio but from the NYT and WaPo. Crazeballs.

The second thing that jumped out at me was what Trump said yesterday about the Muslim ban. As we know, the courts shot down Muslim ban #1, and now they’ve shot down Muslim ban #2, citing Trump’s own bigoted rhetoric on the campaign trail as evidence that, yep, it’s a Muslim ban. Here’s what Trump said about that in Tennessee yesterday:

After a federal judge in Hawaii put on hold President Donald Trump’s revised executive order barring travel from a list of predominantly Muslim countries, Trump complained at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, that he did not want the “watered-down” version of the order.

“Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled that the lawyers all said, ‘Oh, let’s tailor it.’ This is a watered-down version of the first one,” he told the crowd. “This is a watered down version, and let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”

So, he’s going to keep punching himself in the face on the Muslim ban — and making it harder for the order to pass muster in future court rulings with dumb comments like the above — and he’s going to keep bullshitting about the “wiretap” issue, even though he beclowns himself with every utterance on the topic. Okay then.



Dutch Election Results: The Line Continues To Hold!

Prime Minister Rutte and his center-right VVD Party (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) held off the challenge of Gert Wilders and his PVV (Party for Freedom) in today’s Dutch elections.

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party has won the most seats in parliamentary elections, exit polls say.

    Early results confirmed the exit polls, with his centre-right VVD Party on course for 31 out of 150 seats.

    Three parties are projected to win 19 seats each: Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), the Christian Democrats and D66.

    Mr Wilders’ party had been leading in opinion polls but support for the party appeared to slip in recent days.

    With 10.9% of votes counted early on Thursday, the VVD had polled 17.8%.

    Voter participation in the general election was high; the 81% turnout was the highest for 30 years.

    Analysts say a high turnout may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties.

    “Today was a celebration of democracy,” Mr Rutte said, adding that the Netherlands had said no to the “wrong kind of populism”.

    Although the VVD had lost several seats since the last election, many had expected the party to lose much more ground to the Freedom Party.

As was the case in the recent Austrian reelection, Holland has electorally held the line against the neo-Nationalist populist wave that is threatening many of the EU member states. France is next up in April and May (first and second round elections) followed by Germany in September. The Russians working through their local proxies – the neo-Nationalist parties and movements themselves, as well as through Wikileaks and directly using their entire hybrid war toolkit is seeking to weaken, if not dismantle the EU and NATO. The electoral results so far, in Austria and today in Holland, are promising and show signs that the civil societies in these states is stronger and more robust than many think. And that the vote in favor of Brexit and the election of President Trump may be having a sobering effect on the internal and external drives for neo-Nationalism throughout Europe.



Today’s Fight Against Neo-Nationalism in Europe: Holland – You’re Up! France – You’re On Deck!

Holland’s election are today. It is the first of three national elections in key EU member states in 2017. France is next with an April first round and May second round elections and Germany finishes out the cycle in September.

Voters are going to the polls in the Netherlands in the first of three crucial eurozone elections this year.

The race is dominated by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right party and that of Geert Wilders, running on an anti-immigration platform.

Mr Rutte has said the election is an opportunity for voters to “beat the wrong sort of populism”.

Mr Wilders has pledged to take the Netherlands out of the EU, close all mosques and ban the Koran.

His Freedom Party had been leading in opinion polls but they have since suggested his support may be slipping.

Voter turnout so far has been high, with turnout at 12:45 GMT at 33%, compared to 27% at the last election in 2012, Reuters reports.

France goes to the polls next month to elect a new president while Germany is due to hold a general election in September.

Here is Duetsche Welle’s rundown:

The Dutch will head to the polls on March 15 for a general election that is widely viewed as a  baromoter of populist strength in Europe ahead of votes in France and Germany later this year.

The vote comes after the UK’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, raising concerns for some that the Netherlands could be next domino to fall to an anti-establishment movement.

THE BACKGROUND

Historically an open trading nation, the Netherlands has long been known for liberalism and multiculturalism. But as elsewhere in Europe, a refugee influx since 2015, combined with anti-EU sentiment, has fueled the rise of an anti-immigrant movement: the Party for Freedom (PVV), led by firebrand nationalist Geert Wilders.

After enjoying a healthy lead for two years, the PVV is now polling neck and neck at about 16 percent with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), which is in a governing coalition with the Labor Party (PvdA). But even if the PVV comes out as the top party, none of the mainstream parties will enter a coalition with Wilders.

Wilders has nonetheless framed current and future political debates around his anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and euroskeptic rhetoric. He has drawn support from disgruntled voters concerned about crime, Dutch identity and what is viewed as overreach by bureaucrats in Brussels, especially with regard to immigration policy and austerity.

A full rundown on the candidates at the link.

And here’s the link to Duetsche Welle‘s live updates.

Welcome to our rolling coverage of the Dutch election, with the latest news, views and reactions to the divisive race.

  • Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD party is attempting to fend off populist leader Geert Wilders in parliamentary elections that have garnered international attention.
  • In a diplomatic spat Turkey has accused Netherlands of Nazi practices and of being responsible for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, reportedly playing into the popularity of VVD.
  • Six main parties are predicted to enter parliament: the ruling VVD, Wilder’s Party for Freedom, the centrist D66, Green-Left, the Socialist Party and the social democrat Labor Party (PvdA).

All updates in Central European Time (CET)

16.00 Reseach bureau Ipsos, which is gathering polling data, reports that turnout reached 43 percent by 3:45 pm local time, up from 37 percent in 2012.

Today is an important and crucial test to see if the Dutch can hold off Wilders and his ethnic neo-Nationalist movement. The Dutch have a multi-party system that almost always requires the formation of a coalition government. Reporting indicates that none of the major parties will join any coalition with Wilders. So even if his PVV wins the most seats he can still be locked out of governing.

Elections in the Netherlands are contested by a patchwork of parties, but a few traditional contenders usually top the bill to form a moderate coalition. This year will be different: eight parties are projected to gain 10 or more seats of an available 150, meaning a narrower lead for the largest parties. It is this more uniform distribution of votes, rather than a dramatic increase in support, that could lead to the PVV gaining the most seats on March 15.

Even if it becomes the largest party however, the PVV’s path to power could be blocked. Many parties, including the conservative VVD, have refused to join a coalition involving Mr Wilders.

Populist parties in the Netherlands have won significant numbers of seats in elections since the early 2000s, suggesting the social issues driving Mr Wilders’ success are longstanding. But these charts show that the landscape of Dutch politics is shifting even farther away from traditional parties than before, and that the country could struggle to form a ruling coalition after election day.

Lots more and some excellent charts at FT.

As the FT report indicated, even if the mainstream Dutch parties can lock Wilders out, they are still going to need to address the issues that Wilders inflames and manipulates. If they do not, eventually they will not be able to keep him form attaining real power within the the Dutch government. Doing so protects the Dutch Grey Zone, the civil space, that Wilders seeks to poison in service of his own ambition and that Putin seeks to manipulate in service of his strategic interests of fragmenting the EU and NATO.