Floriduh! Man & Woman: Easily Triggered and Not Very Bright Edition

Oy vey…

From NBC News:

A Florida man called police to report a comedian of Middle Eastern descent who he believed had told a joke that showed support for terrorism.

Standup comic Ahmed Ahmed, who is of Egyptian descent, poked fun at negative stereotypes of Muslims during a set at Off The Hook Comedy Club in Naples, Florida, on Saturday night.

“Clap if you’re from the Middle East,” Ahmed said, according to a clip posted on the club’s Facebook page.

After a smattering of cheers, Ahmed slyly responded: “All right. We got a handful of us in in here, nice. But, hey, it only takes one of us … to tell a joke.”

At least one member of the audience didn’t get the punchline.

The man called the Collier County Sheriff’s Department and told a deputy that Ahmed was organizing people of Middle Eastern descent to possibly commit terrorism.

“He said, `That’s great.’ He said, `We can organize our own little terrorist organization,’ and I don’t think that was right. I mean it really bothered me,” the caller said, according to audio of the call released by the sheriff’s department. “And I yelled out, `And the paddy wagon is going to be outside to get all of you.’ “

The man added: “My wife and I looked at each other and we felt very uncomfortable.”

The caller told authorities he was only at the club because he was given free tickets.

Ahmed told NBC News on Wednesday that the “it only takes one of us” line is in his regular act and it’s never sparked any blowback.

“I’ve told that joke about 1,000 times around the world,” Ahmed said. “Whatever he heard and what I said are two different things.”

The comic said he stuck around after Saturday’s show to meet with any fans who wanted to speak with him or snap pictures.

“Terrorists don’t do meet-and-greets,” the comic said. “We don’t say, `Death to America!’ and then, `But wait, let’s do selfies first.’ “

Deputies showed up to the club Sunday before Ahmed’s set that night, briefly interviewed him and left without incident.

“They couldn’t have been nicer,” Ahmed said of the responding deputies. “One of them said, `Don’t change anything, keep doing what you’re doing.’ That was refreshing to hear.”

Club owner Brien Spina said he’s been booking Ahmed to his club for more than a decade, and won’t stop now.

“For me it was a great joke. I stand behind him,” said Spina, who booked Ahmed for another gig, on Wednesday of next week. “His show is great.”

The comic said he has no ill will toward the caller. If anything, he wants to shake his hand.

“I want to say, `Thank you,’ to him,” Ahmed said. “He got more publicity for me in that one phone call than ever. You want to talk about a blessing in disguise.”

Given that this took place in one of the more reactionary portions of the Gunshine State, Ahmed is lucky that this guy just called the cops.

You just gotta laugh. At the morons.

Open thread!

The Only Way Out is Through: Moving Towards a New Normal and the 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates

There are several new polls out showing where the Democratic candidates stand a little over nine months before the first Democratic primary or caucus and eighteen months ahead of the general election in 2020. All of them are showing Vice President Biden with a strong plurality of support, followed by Senator Sanders, whose numbers are flat to sinking in the mid teens to low twenties, and then Senators Warren and Harris and Mayor Buttigieg all either closely clumped together or fighting for third position at this time in the high single/low double digits depending on the poll. In general they look something like this:

While I have my personal preferences at this point, who those candidates are are largely immaterial at this point as I expect that numbers will change as debates start, candidates fade, others move up, etc. That said, I think what we’re seeing with these polling results is a combination of name recognition combined with a strong desire by Democrats and Democratic leaning independents for a return to normalcy. And by normalcy I mean how things were before the President was elected and then sworn in. Specifically, for a return to where we all don’t have to watch what the President is doing and saying every day because none of us can be sure whether something dangerous is being done or announced via twitter or one of his minions is doing something behind the scenes that is abhorrent and dangerous. For a return to where the Senate actually functions within its intended design, instead of how it is functioning. Where the parties and those within them hadn’t sorted themselves so that there is really no ideological overlap at all between them because one party is a broad coalition spanning center to left, the other is a hard right party, and therefore there are no grounds for compromise and horse trading among members of the House and Senate from each party.

The problem with this politics of nostalgia, of course, is that you cannot return to past normalcy. I’ve often raised an important point in my work for the Army and DOD, in briefings, operational planning teams, working groups, etc, which is that once you break a state, a society, and an economy you cannot go back to how things were right before they were broken. You can only go forward. Things can be repaired, but there will always be scar tissue. And, as a result, a new equilibrium has to be established, which leads to a new normal. This may include some of the old normal, but it will also include other things that weren’t as part of the new normal. We saw this post WW II in our work rebuilding the countries of Europe and Asia. We saw this, and did our best to forget the whole thing, in regard to the Korean War. We saw this with Vietnam and quickly tried to ignore it. And we’ve seen this in what we’ve been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And we’re going to see this dynamic play out here in the US. If the President gets reelected, eight years of this insanity will solidify the currently nebulous and tenuous possibility of the new normal being kleptocratic white Christian herrenvolkism. If he loses, then there will be a move to a different new normal depending on who actually wins and whether the Democrats maintain their House majority and are able to flip four or five seats and retake the Senate. Regardless, there is no going back. But most people don’t understand this because they don’t think about it. And because it is painful to recognize, let alone admit and accept. Vice President Biden is a decent person, he’d be, like almost everyone running for the Democratic nomination and like Governor Weld who has announced that he will primary the President, a significant improvement over what we currently have. His hitting the President on his racism and bigotry and anti-Semitism and xenophobia right out of the gate is important, but the US he’s describing in the early days of his campaign no longer exists and it hasn’t existed for quite some time. Democrats are supporting him, though, because what he’s describing and what he’s selling is comforting. It is the false hope that the clock can be reset and we can go back to what we all thought was normal prior to about 10:30 PM EST on election day 2016. I do not know whether what Vice President Biden is selling is sustainable between now and the primaries, between the primaries and the general election. Whether Senator Sanders’ or Senator Harris’s or Senator Warren’s or Mayor Buttigieg’s or any of the other candidates’ alternative visions – of both a new normal and how to get there – will gain traction and become viable and sustainable between now and the primaries, is a question I can’t answer.

The only way out is through.

Open thread!

Attorney General Barr Has Notified Congressman Nadler That He Will Not Be Appearing Tomorrow

Attorney General Barr has notified Congressman Nadler that he will not appear before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow because he doesn’t believe that, as a Senate confirmed cabinet official, he is subject to questioning by committee staff – just by the elected members of the committee. Here’s the reasoning from the DOJ spokesperson:

The simple truth here is that despite doing what he was hired to do today – screen fire for the President, not be the US attorney general – today’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t go well for the Attorney General. Sure, his audience of one will likely be happy. While the Republican members of the committee all got their Fox News rebroadcast worthy performances in for that same audience of one, it still did not go well. And AG Barr isn’t going to risk things going even worse tomorrow when committee staff counsel do the questioning, because it prevents Gym Jordan and Mark Meadows and Gohmert and the disgraced cop from Louisiana and that whackjob dentist from Arizona from protecting both the AG and the President.

The Attorney General has also announced that he will not comply with the subpoena for the redacted material in the Special Counsel’s report.

We are at the point where events are outpacing the people involved with them. The more that the AG or the President or the White House Counsel or the Republican caucuses in the House and the Senate try to exert control, the more things are actually careening out of control. Pressure is now building for Congressman Nadler to hold the Attorney General in contempt and seek to force his compliance. The same for the other Democratic committee chairs in the House who are being rebuffed in regard to AG Barr and several other administration officials. The Democrats have now reached the point of no return. They can either start pursuing penalties and punishments for AG Barr and others stonewalling their committees or they acquiesce to the almost fifty year long pursuit to establish the anti-constitutional unitary executive theory as both de facto and de jure law and reality in the US. A reality that states that a president can always do whatever they want, whenever they want, and that the other branches of government and the citizenry must acquiesce and comply.

I expect that the House Democratic chairs will pursue contempt citations and sanctions against the administration officials who are stonewalling their legitimate oversight requests. I also expect that the AG and the White House Counsel will attempt to fight these. The Democrats must not relent here. If they do, then they become accomplices to placing the President above the law, making him unaccountable, uncontrollable, and uncontainable, and making the Constitution of the United States a dead letter foundational law.

There is some good news, however:

And I expect that the Special Counsel’s Office, or, rather, its former members, will leak for effect as necessary to push back against what the AG is trying to do. Last night’s leak about Special Counsel Mueller’s letter objecting to what AG Barr was doing with and saying about the report he prepared may have been the first leak, but it will not be the last!

Open thread!

The Truth, the Wohl Truth, and Everything But the Truth: The Jacob Wohl Story

Jacob Wohl is the Carter Page of Jim Hofts. Bless his heart!

From The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A pair of right-wing provocateurs are being accused of attempting to recruit young Republican men to level false allegations of sexual assault against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later on a Facebook page appearing to belong to the man.

A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.

The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.

But the source provided The Daily Beast with a surreptitious audio recording of the meeting, which corroborates his account. In it, Wohl appears to refer to Buttigieg as a “terminal threat” to President Donald Trump’s reelection next year.

On Monday, a separate individual using the name of Hunter Kelly published a post on the site Medium in which he alleged that Buttigieg sexually assaulted him in February. That post was tweeted out by David Wohl, Jacob’s father, and quickly re-written by the site Big League Politics, which is known as a landing ground for right wing conspiracy theories.

The Daily Beast reached out to Kelly on a cell phone listed to him in the student directory at his  Michigan college. Told we were reporting on apparent efforts by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to drum up false sexual assault allegations against Buttigieg, Kelly replied, “I was unaware this was happening. But yes it is true.”

Kelly wrote that he did not control the newly-created Medium and Twitter accounts that posted the allegations under his name. When asked if he could verify his identity, he texted the Daily Beast a selfie that matched the photo seen on Medium and on Kelly’s longstanding Facebook accounts.

“Here is a selfie of me, sorry I have been crying,” he wrote. “Today and the promises made didn’t go as planned.”

Kelly declined to provide more details. But two hours later he posted a message to his Facebook timeline headed, “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.”

“It’s important for everyone to know that I was not sexually assaulted and would never falsely accuse anyone,” he wrote. “To keep it brief for now, I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican. When I arrived they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him.”

“I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter @RealHunterKelly and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote. I have since left and am working on a formal statement to give to everyone including the Buttigieg family.”

Much more at the link.

Wohl’s dipshit dad, who is both a lawyer who should know better and was a major 2016 on air surrogate for the President and his campaign on cable news, also got in on the stupidity.

Shonda – the Wohl lot of them!

Wohl is currently under investigation for making false police reports in Minneapolis during his fact finding expose with Laura Loomer and Ali Alexander and the world’s tiniest body guard* to bring the truth about Congresswoman Omar to light. Wohl faked death threats against himself and then provided them to the Minneapolis Police Department. Let me just restate that: Jacob Wohl sent himself fake death threats, reported them to police and provided evidence of the fake death threats, in the hope that the Minneapolis Police Department’s investigation into Jacob Wohl’s attempt to assassinate himself would somehow expose Congresswoman Omar having done something.

Back in March I wrote that the 2020 election cycle was going to be an information war. I’m going to add something to that assessment, which holds up pretty well as every one of the five lines of attack have been hit since the attack on the synagogue on Saturday. Specifically, every single Democratic campaign, the DNC, the DCCC, the DSCC, and the various organizations and groups – from think tanks to unions to advocacy organizations – all need to establish counter-influence operations teams ASAP!!!! A failure to do so should be seen as malpractice.

Open thread

* He’s just a wee thing…

Just a Quick Note Regarding the President, Members of His Administration, and Operational Security Matters

Anne Laurie covered the details that we currently have regarding the recent security breach at Mar a Lago, but I wanted to add a couple of quick points.

I would not be surprised at all if Zhang was sent by the PRC’s intelligence services specifically to be caught and divert attention from their real infiltration work, which involves, among other things, buying memberships to Mar a Lago and the President’s golf clubs. And my guess is she was used at that moment to provide cover for someone actually penetrating a Trump property, most likely Mar a Lago, but possibly somewhere else, at roughly the same time. This technique is not novel. When Ramzi Youssef entered the US so he could build the bombs for the first World Trade Center bombing, he was a number of people behind one of his co-conspirators who just happened to go through the something to declare customs line and when his carry on was opened, they found circuit boards and other suspicious materials. When Youssef came through about 20 minutes or so later, he went through the nothing to declare line and zipped through because everyone was still focused on the guy they were sacrificing to get Youssef into the country. Zhang is most likely a PRC sacrifice. The real questions are who they actually got in by sacrificing her, how many, and what are they actually doing?

I expect that all of the President’s commercial properties are fully compromised at this point between employees, contractors brought on to do day work like A/C repair or other repair/replace projects, and membership. This ties in to the concerns about the President being compromised. As we know was the case with the pursuit of Trump Tower Moscow, the President, his campaign’s, his business’s, his employees’, his political surrogates’ repeated denials that he was pursuing the deal during the election was the only compromising information that Putin needed. And I would expect that the Chinese, the Israelis, the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Estonians, the Latvians, the Germans, the French, and our Five Eyes Allies all new about this attempted deal too from their own intelligence collection. Regardless, because Putin and the Russian government knew something about the President’s and his business that the President, his business, his campaign, and his surrogates were denying, Putin had compromised the President. Or, more accurately, the President had compromised himself for Putin. Repeatedly lying during and after the campaign about pursuing Trump Tower Moscow gave Putin, his government, his intelligence services, his oligarchs, and his other surrogates leverage over the President because they knew something the President had been lying about. Pursuing Trump Tower Moscow wasn’t illegal. Even pursuing the opportunity during the campaign wasn’t illegal. Trying to conceal it also wasn’t illegal. But by doing so the President compromised himself. And one has to ask why it was necessary to lie about pursuing this opportunity and then lie about when that pursuit stopped. Because those lies just further compromised the President.*

There are similar issue regarding the President’s late night phone calls from the residence with Deity knows whom from his unsecured phone. Everyone and their brother is collecting on those calls. And since there’s no readouts, no notes, no note takers, all of this is just more and more compromising information on the President created by the President. Does anyone think that Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs wouldn’t break under even the mildest forms of forceful interrogation? And the same issue exists with whomever Jared is texting with, regardless of whether he’s using WhatsApp, which is insecure. It doesn’t matter whether he’s texting MBS or MBZ or Bibi or Ron Dermer, or his dad – all of that data is being collected by allied, partner, competitor, and hostile foreign state actors. I would also expect that whomever the President is speaking with from his unsecured phone or whomever Jared is texting with are also keeping a record – either recording, transcript, or both – of those phone and text message conversations. I have no doubt that Kislyak and Lavrov’s photographer made a recording of what was actually said when the President was alone with them in the Oval Office, which, of course, produces more compromising material. Just letting them in with their own photographer with his own equipment was a major security breach in and of itself. And I’m sure that a similar situation surely occurred in his one on one meetings with no note takers, interpreters, and/or aides with Putin in Helsinki, with Putin at the G20 meeting, as well as in his two one on one meetings with Kim. I’d put good money on the fact that Putin and Kim surreptitiously made recordings of those meetings, just as I’d be very surprised to find out that Kislyak and Lavrov had not done so.

These are two very, very serious and significant operational security issues. Because the President has refused to divest himself from his commercial interests, those interests – from Mar a Lago to his golf clubs and golf resorts – are all targets for infiltration and collection by foreign intelligence services. And because the President and his senior advisor and son in law Jared Kushner continually compromise themselves because of who they are in communication with and how they communicate with those people, they continually put themselves as representatives of the United States and the United States at risk by giving foreign actors leverage that can be used over them and against the best interests of the US.

Open thread.

* This is similar to one of the really big unanswered questions from the Special Counsel’s investigation: why did LTG (ret) Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Attorney General Sessions, Erik Prince, George Papadopolous, Roger Stone, and many others lie about meetings and contacts with the Russians. Why was Jared Kushner seeking to establish an off the books back channel to the Russians housed in the Russian Embassy in DC? If there was no there there, if nothing illicit, illegal, or even unethical was going on, then why lie about it to Federal investigators, Congress, or both?