Security Theater Open Thread: Wolverines! — Not the UM Kind

As ever, the brilliance of the Trump Administration: Getting a roomful of people with every reason to hate Islamic terrorists united in anger against… the Trump administration. Per the Detroit Free Press:

In a meeting today with Arab-Americans and Muslims in Dearborn, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stood up at one point and threatened to leave after a community advocate accused the department of targeting their communities, according to meeting participants.

The tense exchange took place during a hour-long meeting at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, where Kelly met with several Arab-American and Muslim advocates as part of a visit to metro Detroit. At a separate earlier meeting with immigrant, Latino, and Chaldean advocates, some also criticized the department for allegedly targeting minority groups…

At the meeting, Nabih Ayad, an active civil rights leader and attorney who is founder of the Dearborn-based Arab American Civil Rights League, said he pressed Kelly about executive orders from his department that target six Muslim-majority nations.

He also mentioned alleged profiling of Arabs and Muslims at ports of entry. Ayad said he asked Kelly to create a record of who gets stopped for questioning at ports of entry so there can be data to see if there is disproportionate targeting of Arabs and Muslims.

“He stood up and walked away almost,” Ayad said. “He said, I’m leaving unless you decide to stop your questions and have someone else ask a question. … He actually got out his seat.”

Ayad said he then stopped his comments and another Arab-American advocate started to speak. Ayad’s account was confirmed by two other Arab-Americans who attended the meeting. U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, who had invited Kelly to Michigan, were also at the meeting…



Open Thread: Gimme Sanctuary

Cue the Malevolent Leprechaun, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III :


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The New “Improved” Muslim Travel Ban Struck Down

Amazing how much of a prissy little old man Lord Smallgloves looks in this clip — that pursed-lipped, finger-wagging, unnaturally-curved backbone posture is every neutered assistant principal reprimanding the “young toughs” for their unseemly camaraderie. The opposite of #WINNING!

“The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with,” Trump said during a rally in Nashville. “This new order was tailored to the dictates of the 9th Circuit’s — in my opinion — flawed ruling.”

Trump called the court actions blocking his orders “unprecedented judicial overreach.”…

“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,” Trump said.

The President’s comments came during a previously scheduled campaign rally. It took place shortly after US District Court Judge Derrick Watson blocked Trump’s executive order. The new travel ban was set to take effect Thursday.

The new executive order removed Iraq from the original list of seven banned countries, stripped away language about prioritizing religious minorities in the refugee admissions process and did not include an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. But it still banned citizens of six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and temporarily stopped the admission of all refugees…

As the “bad news” drew jeers from the crowd, Trump explained that he needed to be cautious in his criticism, an apparent reference to the flak he took after calling the first federal judge who ruled against his executive order a “so-called judge.”

“I have to be nice otherwise I’ll get criticized for — for speaking poorly about our courts. I’ll be criticized by these people, among the most dishonest people in the world,” Trump said referring to reporters in the room.
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Open Thread: The Voters of Iowa, They’re Not Sending Their Best People

Good for Senator Franken, and shame (as though they could feel any) on the Repubs. Per the Washington Post:

A tense moment erupted Tuesday between Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, leading Grassley to bang his gavel and abruptly end an argument over recent comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Grassley, the chairman of the committee, accused Franken of asking Sessions a “gotcha” question during his confirmation hearing in January. Franken insisted he did no such thing.

“It was not a gotcha question, sir,” Franken said.

“It was, from the standpoint — he didn’t know what you were asking about,” replied Grassley. Then, Grassley banged his gavel and called on Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Franken was not finished presenting his perspective…

The exchange was the most explosive at the closely watched confirmation hearing of Rod J. Rosenstein, President Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general, and Rachel Brand, his pick for associate attorney general. If confirmed, Rosenstein would assume responsibility for any investigations involving the Trump campaign — including any ties between Trump and Russia — after Sessions recused himself from such matters last week…

A few minutes before Tuesday’s fiery exchange, tensions were already building as Franken questioned Rosenstein about Sessions and other matters.

“I think Senator Sessions should come back. I think he owes it to this committee to come back and explain himself,” said Franken, pointing his forefinger for emphasis…

Rosenstein soon interjected to say he did not know anything about investigations the Justice Department was undertaking beyond what he had read in press accounts. “I don’t know anything but what I’ve read in the newspapers at this point,” he said…

Of course, Steve “Pig Muck” King had to — as ever — defend his title as the Worst Person in Congress:

SIOUX CITY | Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King on Monday defended President Trump’s startling assertion that the Obama administration tapped phones in Trump’s New York offices in the runup to the 2016 election, suggesting “rogue intel” officials may have eavesdropped on calls even if President Obama did not personally order the wiretapping…

King said the tweet indicates Trump was not referencing the former president specifically.

“To me, that says the Obama administration,” King said.

King said his assessment is that Trump’s assertion is apt.

“There is a string of evidence that supports it,” he said….

There’s a string of spittle hanging from Mark Levin’s flapping jaws, more like. I hear that as long as Rep. King pays sufficient obeisance to the CAFO agricorporations in his district, he’s got the seat for as long as he wants it — but is there any sense in sending some money to Kim Weaver’s 2018 campaign?



Terrifying Read: “Department of Justification”

In case anybody’s still wondering whether it’s worth the trouble of evicting Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III from his current position, here’s Emily Bazelon in the NYTimes — “Stephen Bannon and Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general, have long shared a vision for remaking America. Now the nation’s top law-enforcement agency can serve as a tool for enacting it“:

One night in September 2014, when he was chief executive of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon hosted cocktails and dinner at the Washington townhouse where he lived, a mansion near the Supreme Court that he liked to call the Breitbart Embassy. Beneath elaborate chandeliers and flanked by gold drapes and stately oil paintings, Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, sat next to the guest of honor: Nigel Farage, the insurgent British politician, who first met Sessions two years earlier when Bannon introduced them. Farage was building support for his right-wing party by complaining in the British press about “uncontrolled mass immigration.” Sessions, like other attendees, was celebrating the recent collapse in Congress of bipartisan immigration reform, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some undocumented people. At the dinner, Sessions told a writer for Vice, Reid Cherlin, that Bannon’s site was instrumental in defeating the measure. Sessions read Breitbart almost every day, he explained, because it was “putting out cutting-edge information.”

Bannon’s role in blocking the reform had gone beyond sympathetic coverage on his site. Over the previous year, he, Sessions and one of Sessions’s top aides, Stephen Miller, spent “an enormous amount of time” meeting in person, “developing plans and messaging and strategy,” as Miller later explained to Rosie Gray in The Atlantic. Breitbart writers also reportedly met with Sessions’s staff for a weekly happy hour at the Union Pub. For most Republicans in Washington, immigration was an issue they wished would go away, a persistent source of conflict between the party’s elites, who saw it as a straightforward economic good, and its middle-class voting base, who mistrusted the effects of immigration on employment. But for Bannon, Sessions and Miller, immigration was a galvanizing issue, lying at the center of their apparent vision for reshaping the United States by tethering it to its European and Christian origins. (None of them would comment for this article.) That September evening, as they celebrated the collapse of the reform effort — and the rise of Farage, whose own anti-immigration party in Britain represented the new brand of nativism — it felt like the beginning of something new. “I was privileged enough to be at it,” Miller said about the gathering last June, while a guest on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show. “It’s going to sound like a motivational speech, but it’s true. To all the voters out there: The only limits to what we can achieve is what we believe we can achieve.”

The answer to what they could achieve, of course, is now obvious: everything. Bannon and Miller are ensconced in the West Wing, as arguably the two most influential policy advisers to Donald J. Trump. And Jeff Sessions is now the attorney general of the United States. The genesis of their working relationship is crucial to understanding the far-reaching domestic goals of the Trump presidency and how the law may be used to attain them over the next four years. Bannon and Sessions have effectively presented the country’s changing demographics — the rising number of minority and foreign-born residents — as America’s chief internal threat. Sessions has long been an outlier in his party on this subject; in 2013, when his Republican colleagues were talking primarily about curbing illegal immigration, he offered a proposal to curb legal immigration. (It failed in committee, 17 to one.)…

At a time when other, more libertarian conservatives had begun to embrace critiques of the criminal-justice system, each man saw crime as yet another way that the fabric of society was deteriorating. Read more



Open Thread: Trumpstuntin’ Status, Moving From SNAFU to FUBAR


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Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy…



Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

I saved a screenshot of this morning’s CNN home page the way my mother once squirreled away newspapers covering events like the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing and the Watergate denouement:

We’re not there yet. But to me, anyway, it feels like something historical is afoot, that I must not only bear witness but maybe save clippings for posterity. (At least my news pack-rattery won’t demand drawer space from my descendants!)

Twitler was on a tear this morning. Maybe he has that “history in the making” feeling too. It might be wishful thinking, but I could swear I detected a faint whiff of flop sweat and desperation emanating from the pixels below:

Tell me that most recent tweet doesn’t sound like something Greenwald would say. And the fuck of it is, I would normally agree: We don’t want the intel community mucking around in our politics.

It was an outrage when Comey stuck his big, fat, morally upright thumb on the scales in the waning days of the election. So why cheer the intel community on now, hoping they dump enough dirt to bury the Trump admin?

Because this isn’t a normal administration. Trump referred to me and the 65 million other Americans who didn’t vote for him as “enemies” in his New Year “message.” He’s done nothing to reach out to anyone other than his rancid fan base. He’s stocked the government with racists, misogynists and bigoted kooks, and his top advisers are openly fomenting a global white nationalist effort to undermine Western democracies.

The Republicans who control Congress are willing to go along with Trump’s anti-American agenda if doing so will allow them to cut taxes for billionaires and take away people’s access to affordable healthcare. They’ve said so outright, so they can’t be trusted to do their job and keep our government from being controlled by a hostile foreign power.

The judicial branch is the last leg on the wobbly-ass stool of American democracy, but Trump is doing his best to saw that off too and has real power to shape it for the future. Anyone think he’ll ensure its independence?

So, spooks it is. No, I don’t trust them completely. No, I don’t think it’s a good idea for the intel community to manipulate domestic politics (and I wish we’d mind our own business abroad too).

But desperate times call for desperate measures. If it takes leaks to force the Republicans in Congress to work with the Democrats and do their goddamned jobs, then bring on the drip, drip, drip.

PS: The media is unanimously reporting that Dense Pence was in the dark about Flynn’s actions. Are y’all aware of any independent corroboration of that? I haven’t seen it.

It looks like they’re taking the administration’s word on that, and this administration lies constantly and shamelessly. On camera. All the fucking time. We shouldn’t take their word for anything.