Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Transition Notes

This evening at 9pmEST, President Obama will deliver his farewell address. Per the Washington Post:

In his weekly Saturday address, the president alluded to the special feeling he has for Chicago. It’s where he came of age personally and politically. He started his public service career there, first as a community organizer before launching the political career that would take him from the Illinois state Senate (after he lost a U.S. House race) to the U.S. Senate and ultimately to the White House as the first black man to occupy the Oval Office. Chicago is also where Obama met and married his wife, Michelle, who is Chicago born and raised. Their daughters Malia and Sasha were born there, too…

Presidents give farewell addresses primarily to reflect on their achievements during their four or eight years, sometimes even including expressions of regret for promises left unfulfilled, said Marc Selverstone, associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, which studies the presidency.

The speeches are also used to raise warning flags about specific policies.

Obama’s address is likely to issue some warnings about the politics of his successor, Donald Trump. The Republican president-elect has pledged to overturn much of what Obama put in place, including the Affordable Care Act, executive orders on immigration and other issues, and environmental regulations, among them.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says Obama wants to give a “forward-looking speech” that will examine U.S. progress during his tenure, but that he also wants to spend time talking about the challenges ahead and what he thinks is necessary to confront them. He also wants to thank the American people for putting their trust in him, Earnest says…

Along with the usual media venues, it will be livestreamed at WhiteHouse.gov.

And in the happy news category, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) is pushing back at a news report that the transition team for president-elect Donald Trump plans to remove the heads of the agency when he takes office.” So I guess Cole’s raised garden beds are safe, for the moment.

Apart from planning your evening watching / commenting, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Click on the blue link at the end of the following tweet, and you will be rewarded:



Open Thread: Any Journalists Up for Some High-Stakes Adventure?


(see * bottom of post)
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Next day:

You know that old folk curse, “May you live in interesting times?”

* schrodingers_cat: The movie has been panned by critics but I love its title track, especially the panchakshara* stotra, the female voice in Sanskrit interspersed with a rapid fire, rap-like (in Hindi) description of Shiva.
Panchakshara == 5 letters (na ma shi va) nam = name shiva



Engulf & Devour, Inc.

As expected, Trump is absorbing the United States government into his family cartel and will install his eldest daughter and her husband in the White House as senior advisors — the latter, at least, on an official basis, according to NBC:

President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will be named senior adviser to the president, a senior transition official confirms to NBC News.

Kushner was an influential behind the scenes confidant to his father-in-law throughout the 2016 campaign. But a number of legal questions complicate his potential role in the incoming administration.

Don’t worry about those legal complications — Trump will brazen it out. His surrogate Newt Gingrich already dismissed such worries by suggesting that Trump could just issue a blanket pardon to family members who flout any applicable anti-nepotism laws.

Like Trump, Kushner is a real estate developer who will be formulating policies that can enhance his vast wealth. I suspect he’ll enter into a flimsy “half-blind trust” arrangement like the one Trump himself has proposed and call it clean.

Whatever it takes, no matter what heat it generates, Trump is going to find a way to have the kiddies involved, and I don’t think it’s just because the grift opportunities will be so epic. I think he requires their presence because he’s not mentally stable enough to function without them.

Anyhoo, this concludes the latest episode of, “Why Are We in This Handbasket, and Where the Hell Are We Going?” Open thread!



Open Thread: Smogging Up the Hall of Mirrors

Increasingly clear that the Repubs don’t mind their country being run by a hostile foreign power, as long as they get to reap some short-term advantages…


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But the new fashions will be fabulous!…



Late Nightmare Open Thread: Intel Epiphany Eve

CNN, at 1:35am Friday (Feast of the Ephipany) morning:

US intelligence has identified the go-betweens the Russians used to provide stolen emails to WikiLeaks, according to US officials familiar with the classified intelligence report that was presented to President Barack Obama on Thursday…

Meanwhile, US intelligence has received new information following the election that gave agencies increased confidence that Russia carried out the hack and did so, in part, to help Trump win.

Included in that new information were intercepted conversations of Russian officials expressing happiness at Trump’s win. Another official described some of the messages as congratulatory.

Officials said this was just one of multiple indicators to give them high confidence of both Russian involvement and Russian intentions. Officials reiterated that there is no single intercepted communication that qualifies as a “smoking gun” on Russia’s intention to benefit Trump’s candidacy or to claim credit for doing so.

Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with PBS NewsHour that an unclassified version of an intel report provided to him will be released “very shortly” and will “lay out in bold print what” the US knows about the hacking…

Officials told CNN there’s been a disconnect between Trump’s remarks about the intelligence community and his behind-the-scenes behavior when he’s present at private intel briefings.

(But who’s bringing the bad news about which ruling power, and who are the innocents to be slaughtered when the ruler’s will is thwarted?)

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Further speculation on Trump’s state of mind, when it comes to “intel”…
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Open Thread: Only If You’re A Republican

Nope, no we don’t.



Late Night Open Thread: The NAACP Does Not Trust Jefferson Beauregard Sessions

Who could blame them?

… “As a matter of conscience and conviction, we can neither be mute nor mumble our opposition to Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions becoming Attorney General of the United States. Senator Sessions has callously ignored the reality of voter suppression but zealously prosecuted innocent civil rights leaders on trumped-up charges of voter fraud,” Brooks said in the statement.

He appeared to be referencing an incident in which Sessions brought 29 charges related to voter fraud and conspiracy against each of three black activists when he was a U.S. attorney in the 1980s. A jury found the activists innocent in a matter of hours.

“As an opponent of the vote, he can’t be trusted to be the chief law enforcement officer for voting rights,” Brooks continued in the statement.

Sessions was rejected from a federal judgeship in 1986 after a former colleague testified during his confirmation hearings that Sessions had made racially insensitive remarks. During those hearings, a Justice Department employee said Sessions had called the ACLU and NAACP “Communist-inspired” and “un-American,” comments for which Sessions said he had “meant no harm.”

And they’re hardly alone, per the Washington Post:

A group of more than 1,100 law school professors from across the country is sending a letter to Congress on Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general.

The letter, signed by professors from 170 law schools in 48 states, is also scheduled to run as a full-page newspaper ad aimed at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be holding confirmation hearings for Sessions on Jan. 10-11…

The professors — from every state except North Dakota and Alaska, which has no law school — highlight the rejection of Sessions’s nomination to a federal judgeship more than 30 years ago. Robin Walker Sterling of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, one of the organizers of the letter, said that 1,000 professors signed on within 72 hours. “Clearly, there are many, many law professors who are very uneasy with the prospect of Attorney General Sessions, and they are willing to take a public stand in opposition to his nomination,” she said…

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

It seems that some folks are finding the concept of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions just a tad too 1957 for their liking. Were you a historically minded type, you might even say the idea is encountering massive resistance. Down in Alabama, at Sessions’ local office, the NAACP is taking rather direct action, as CNN informs us.

The protesters arrived earlier Tuesday and said they would stay until Sessions is no longer the nominee or they were arrested.”We are asking the senator to withdraw his name for consideration as attorney general or for the President-elect, Donald Trump, to withdraw the nomination,” Brooks said Tuesday afternoon from Sessions’ office. “In the midst of rampant voter suppression, this nominee has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud.” Earlier in the day, Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton said he and 15-20 others were there “conducting business as usual” and would remain until “Sessions meets our demands or the arrest — whichever he chooses.”…

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