Open Thread: Goddess Bless the ACLU

Life comes at you fast. Some are more prepared than others to stand up for truth, justice, and the American way…

(ETA: Click on the tweet above for suggestions.)



Open Thread: Spy Guys, He’s Got ‘Em!

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday denied that there were “Trump or White House folks” in the first rows.

“There were no Trump or White House folks sitting down. They were all CIA (unintelligible). So, not in rows one-through-anything, from what I’m told.” Spicer said at the White House briefing Monday. He did not address whether Pompeo invitees were in the first rows.

A source who is familiar with the planning of the president’s CIA visit saw Spicer’s briefing, however, and firmly denied Spicer’s response was accurate…

The CIA was Mr. Trump’s first official agency visit for a reason, it was to signal a new beginning. At the outset of the speech, the president expressed his support for the CIA, “There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump.”

But it is what he said later in front of the CIA’s revered Memorial Wall (a monument to CIA officers killed in the line of duty) — complaints about the media’s coverage of his relationship with the intelligence community and its assessments of the crowd size at his inauguration — that may be harder to erase from the minds of the intelligence community.

Gonna be a very useful meme: NOT. NORMAL.

(And I cannot tell you how weird it feels, as a lifelong leftist, to be siding with the CIA, speaking of ‘not normal’.)

From a medival proverb, a culture that knew much about both aspiring dictators and vengeance: God punishes all knaves and fools — but the fools first.

The President-Asterisk had a lot of us convinced he was a knave, but now he’s acting the fool.



Jeff Sessions: Not A Good Man, or An Honest Legislator

Nor are his fellow Republicans, no matter how “nice” they may appear to the Media Village Idiots. Per the Washington Post:

Sen. Cory Booker testified Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead the Justice Department, saying the Alabama Republican’s lengthy record in Congress exposed views that are inconsistent with the venerated job he is seeking.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

The remarks marked the first time a sitting senator has testified against a colleague’s nomination for a Cabinet post, and they were among the most notable in Sessions’s two-day confirmation hearing.

In total, legislators heard testimony from 15 supporters and detractors, and Sessions answered questions over more than 101/2 hours. Nothing that was said was likely to stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him, with Democrats failing to land anything close to a fatal blow during the hearing…

Sessions is generally well liked in the Senate, despite views that draw polarized responses. To those in law enforcement and conservative legal circles, he is an honorable man, dedicated to enforcing the law no matter his personal feelings. To civil rights advocates, immigrant advocates and others, his record makes him a troubling selection to lead the Justice Department…

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

As far as a political tactic for attaining a government job that makes sensible people blanch at the very thought of your assuming it, unremitting banality in the face of questioning, harsh or otherwise, has served people very, very well. This was why, on the first day of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee as to his nomination to be Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wielded unremitting banality so masterfully that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and, even if it did, he would be polite and not mention in polite society that he had a mouthful of melted butter, nor spit it into the ashtrays, either. I’m not kidding. If you bought what he was selling, Sessions made Atticus Finch sound like James K. Vardaman.

You know all that really bad stuff he said when he was a senator, and when he was out on the stump pitching for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago? Forget about all of that, because he’s going to be the Attorney General now, so none of that counts, no backsies. When he called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” organizations back during the 1980s, he only meant in the context of their opposition to the various excellent Reagan Administration adventures in Central America, and then only because he thought their opposition to our proxy death squads would damage the “historic” record of achievement enjoyed by both organizations…

The “good” news, FWIW, is that Sessions and his defenders at least feel themselves compelled to lie about his history and his beliefs. Dave Weigel got assigned to look for the pony in the pile:

Noteworthy, too, is the way Sessions and the Trump transition team decided to handle his confirmation hearing. Sessions didn’t mention Trump in his opening statement other than to thank him for the nomination. And even before senators questioned him about the allegations of racism that led the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination to the federal bench in 1986, Sessions preemptively defended himself against “damnably false charges.”

The guest seats were filled by the likes of Al Sharpton, Khizr Khan, members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), now the top Democrat on the panel, noted that “there is so much fear in this country . . . particularly in the African American community.”

Sessions said the “caricature of me in 1986” was wrong. “I did not harbor the kind of animosities and race-based discrimination ideas that I was accused of. I did not.”…

Sessions said it was “very painful” to be identified as a racist. He said he saw “systematic and powerful” racism in the South. “I know we need to do better,” Sessions said. “We can never go back.”

Does he believe that? We’ll see…

Much more below the fold — including a few quotes from Sessions’ defenders, at the very end.

From Politico, “Sessions faces decision on politicizing Justice Department“:

Donald Trump suggested on the campaign trail that he could use the Justice Department to fulfill his political agenda, taunting Hillary Clinton by threatening to throw her in jail over her email scandal.

Now, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will have to decide whether to follow his predecessors by vowing to not let politics drive the DOJ’s decision-making.

The idea that the Justice Department should be free from political interference is not rooted in any statute or explicit constitutional provision. Instead, it evolved through a series of internal policy memos and letters issued by past Justice Department officials from both parties, according to a POLITICO review of historical records.

Sessions, as attorney general, could decide to abandon or overhaul those policies, a concern heightened by Trump’s suggestions during the campaign that he could pursue politically motivated prosecutions.

Notably, Sessions’ nomination is now in the hands of some of the same Republicans who pushed for tougher firewalls between the White House and the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. Those senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have not raised the issue in throwing their support behind Sessions, who faces his first day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday.

“This is the biggest question Jeff Sessions has to answer,” said Matt Miller, a former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, who left office in 2015. “Attorneys general have always established it’s not appropriate for the White House to influence prosecutorial or investigative decisions. But there’s no law or regulation. If they want to change it, they can change it.”…

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Open Thread: The ‘Post-Truth’ Administration

Post-truth, the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year, “an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’”. Nicely timed for the triumph of the Trump, as per the latest news from Ford…



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Trump & Pence, Deliberately Undermining Our Voting Process

… because OF COURSE HE DOES, since he’s a committed proponent of the Republican plan to restrict and obstruct the rights of all Americans who are not reliable conservative Republican voters.

Ari Berman has a book to sell, and it looks like a very worthwhile read. Here’s a review by David Cole, in the NY Review of Books, “How Voting Rights Are Being Rigged”:

The Brennan Center for Justice identifies fifteen states that have new voting restrictions in place for the first time for the 2016 presidential election, and five more that have had restrictions in place since the 2012 election. These include several states considered “battlegrounds” in the upcoming presidential election, or that have competitive elections for Senate seats, including Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, Illinois, and Arizona. In each of these states as well as many others, legislatures have imposed rules, like those in North Carolina, that limit opportunities to register and vote, and that demand forms of identification at the polls that many poor and minority citizens do not have—all in the name of fighting nonexistent “voter fraud.” Meanwhile Donald Trump, also invoking the specter of fraud, has sought to impose voting restrictions of his own, urging his followers to watch polls in November, a practice designed to deter Democrats from voting.
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Horrorshow Open Thread: It Can’t Happen Here — Can It?


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Shut Up, Pence; Babies Are NOT Commodities

Not even the healthy pale-skinned newborns you imagine would be “welcomed” by “so many families”. Nor are women’s bodies civic resources, like coal mines or arable lands, where the state can rule on best use for the community.

Good for Tim Kaine for resisting Pence’s bland, anodyne, evil statement. Per Real Clear Politics:

TIM KAINE: Elaine, this is a fundamental question. Hillary and I are both from religious backgrounds. Her Methodist church experience was very informative for her as a public servant. But we both feel you should live fully and with enthusiasm for your faith. But, let’s talk about abortion and choice. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience and make their own decision about pregnancy. That is something we trust American women to do. And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump [said], for making the decision to have an abortion. Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He says he wants to put it on the trash heap of history. Before Roe v. Wade, states could punish women if they made the choice to abort a pregnancy.

I think you should live your moral values, but the last thing governments should do is to have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. That is the fundamental difference between the Clinton-Kaine ticket and the Trump-Pence ticket.

PENCE: It is really not. Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that would punish women who made the heartbreaking choice.

KAINE: Then, why did he say that?

PENCE: Look, he is not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton…