Notes and Comment Blog


The T word

Jul 7th, 2017 3:08 pm | By

NPR’s Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim tweets:



Mobilising

Jul 7th, 2017 12:24 pm | By

A thing you can join if you’re in or near London:

Gender Segregation at School X: Inspire and Southall Black Sisters are intervening at the Court of Appeal, and BMSD is supporting them.

Inspire and SBS are mobilising a cross section of advocacy groups for the Court of Appeal hearing on 11 and 12 July 2017 from 9.30am onwards at Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL.

They urge you to join us by:

· protesting outside the court on both days;

· packing out the public gallery in the court so that the judiciary is under no illusion as to what is at stake.

· publicising our campaign widely and encouraging others to join us.

We ask for your solidarity in what is becoming a key battle between feminists and fundamentalists.

School X’s approach is consistent with Muslim fundamentalist ideologies that strive to create a fundamentalist vision of education in the UK: one that discourages mixed-gender activities as ‘Un-Islamic’ and ultimately legitimises patriarchal power structures. Their aim is to reinforce the different spaces – private and public – that men and women must occupy, and their respective stereotyped roles, which accord them differential and unequal status. This approach constitutes direct discrimination under the UK’s Equality Act 2010. It also violates International human rights laws, standards and principles on equality and non-discrimination such as CEDAW and Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, to which the UK has signed up. Women’s rights must take priority over intolerant beliefs that are used to justify sex discrimination.

Southall Black Sisters and Inspire are intervening in the case because of its great public importance – especially for the rights of minority women and girls. Although, gender segregation and its implications are not specific to School X, but apply equally to a number of other faith schools, the point of our intervention is two-fold:

First, to show how the growing practice of gender segregation in education is not a benign development: Like racial segregation in the USA and South Africa, gender segregation within BME communities in the UK, has a social, and political history that can be traced back to the Rushdie Affair when religious fundamentalists sensed an opportunity to seize education as a battleground and a site on which to expand their influence. Since then, we have seen emboldened fundamentalists in South Asian communities attempting to impose gender segregation in schools and universities. Mr Justice Jay did not look into the wider social and political context in which gender segregation is practiced in minority communities. Had he done so, he would have seen its broad-ranging and devastating long-lasting effect on all areas of women’s lives: that gender segregation is a political choice and that the struggle against it mirrors the struggle against racial segregation.

Second, we want to ensure that gender equality is placed at the heart of Ofsted inspections in all schools, irrespective of their status and composition. We recognise that gender segregation can sometimes be educationally beneficial. But in the hands of ultra-conservatives and fundamentalists, it has an entirely different intent and consequence which is to mount a wholesale assault on women’s rights: socially, culturally and politically.

A violation of human rights

UN human rights experts have noted that ‘fundamentalists everywhere target education in different ways: In some places, they kill teachers or carry out acid attacks on students. Elsewhere they attempt to impose gender segregation in schools or to exclude women and girls altogether. In other places, they seek to change the content of education, removing sex education from the curriculum or censoring scientific theories with which they do not agree.’



Trump went on meeting right through his nap time

Jul 7th, 2017 12:14 pm | By

Tillerson says Putin denies hacking the election.

Ok, that settles it, we can all relax now.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the two-hour-and-fifteen-minute meeting, said it did not focus on the United States moving to punish Russia for the allegations that it hacked and leaked information that would help Trump win the election. Instead, Tillerson said the two leaders discussed “how do we move forward from what may be simply an in­trac­table disagreement at this point” regarding the election-hacking issue.

“The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement,” Tillerson said. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”

Tillerson said the White House was not “dismissing the issue” but wanted to focus on “how do we secure a commitment” that there will not be interference in the future.

Sure sure sure. Take Putin’s word for it and move on. Why not after all?

Tillerson would not say whether Trump flatly told Putin that Russia interfered in the election, saying instead: “He pressed him and then felt like at this point, how do we go forward?”

The meeting lasted much longer than expected. At one point, Trump’s wife entered the room to try to see if it could wrap up soon, but it continued much longer.

“We went another hour [after] she came in to see us, so clearly she failed,” Tillerson said.

What? Why the hell did she do that? Is that normal? What – “Honey, your lunch is getting cold, it’s time to come home now – you can play with Vlad again tomorrow”? Is it normal for spouses of heads of state to try to bring an end to meetings?

That just sounds deranged.

Maybe she was worried that his cognitive issues would be getting worse and more obvious as the time drew out. I expect they probably were.



Our whack job POTUS

Jul 7th, 2017 10:38 am | By

Trump earlier today at the G20:

That’s so typical of his tiny provincial mind. Is it likely that “everyone” at a global meeting is talking about some bit of minutia from US domestic politics / technology? Of course it’s not. Oddly enough people in the rest of the world have their own concerns, not all of which center on Donald Trump of Queens, New York.

John Podesta is more polite than I am:

He can’t. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know what it means. He doesn’t know what his head is, or how to access it, or how to get it in the game. He has no control over any of this. He has only blurts.



Discussing various things

Jul 7th, 2017 10:03 am | By

Meanwhile it was The Meeting of the Dictators today.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin met on Friday, and while their face-to-face encounter was not officially the main event at the G-20, for many, it might as well have been. Scores of journalists shouted questions as the two leaders sat side by side for photographs before the actual meeting.

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well,” Mr. Trump said. “We look forward to a lot of very positive happenings for Russia and for the United States, and for everyone concerned.”

See we don’t actually want “a lot of very positive happenings for Russia” when Russia=Putin. That’s not the goal.

Only six people attended the meeting: Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson; Mr. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; and two interpreters.

So that won’t go well…and furthermore we won’t even know what happens.



All hail the blood of the patriarchs

Jul 7th, 2017 9:52 am | By

Updating to add:

The “patriarchs” thing was an accident – a typo for “patriots.” What he actually said:

The memories of those who perished in the Warsaw Uprising cry out across the decades, and few are clearer than the memories of those who died to build and defend the Jerusalem Avenue crossing. Those heroes remind us that the West was saved with the blood of patriots; that each generation must rise up and play their part in its defense, and that every foot of ground, and every last inch of civilization, is worth defending with your life.

Of course, he didn’t rise up and play his part in its defense. He had “bone spurs.” He didn’t defend jack shit, and he didn’t spill a drop of patriotic blood. He went to business school and learned how to sell real estate to white people only.

/update

Oh god.

The Fox headline: POTUS: WEST SAVED BY BLOOD OF PATRIARCHS

Trump Twitter scream: THE WEST WILL NEVER BE BROKEN. Our values will PREVAIL. Our people will THRIVE and our civilization will TRIUMPH!

Image result for triumph of the will



Get out, ladies

Jul 6th, 2017 5:18 pm | By

Harvard is still Harvard.

Harvard University’s exclusive and historic Fox Club — whose members have included Bill Gates and T.S. Eliot — has reverted to male-only after revoking membership for its nine “provisional” female members, according to The Harvard Crimson, the university’s daily newspaper.

The traditionally all-male social club had given the nine women “provisional” status in the face of looming sanctions by Harvard on single-gender groups, The Crimson reported on Monday. But screenshots obtained by the newspaper of messages allegedly among recent graduates indicate that the club’s graduate board revoked membership for all of its provisional members and invited only the men to reapply for full membership.

Well you know how it is. Harvard is Harvard. It’s the top – it’s Napoleon brandy. How can it go on being the top if it has to let women into its supercool Sekrit clubs? Women are second rate, so they would drag the clubs down, and that would drag Harvard down, and it would no longer be top. Some Politically Correct university in Correctoville, Idaho would be top. We can’t have that.

Fox Club first became co-ed in October 2015, when its undergraduate members admitted a group of junior and senior female students. But the Rev. Douglas W. Sears, who served as graduate board president when the women joined the club, told NBC News that the decision drew protests from some of the graduate board leaders.

The club’s graduate leadership ended up letting the young women remain, but only as “provisional” members. Some male members became provisional members, as well, “in solidarity with the women,” he said.

“A minority of the graduates inclusive of the graduate board are not in favor of women joining the club, so in this case. We have an example of a republic prevailing over a democracy,” he said.

“The young women who came in the club were just such wonderful people in this instance and tremendously accomplished,” he said, adding that he felt the club was on the wrong side of history.

Maybe, but which is more important, being on the right side of history, or being top?



Clearly marked as tile samples

Jul 6th, 2017 1:48 pm | By

Huh. It turns out that Hobby Lobby is a tad lacking in the scruples department.

The packages that made their way from Israel and the United Arab Emirates to retail outlets owned by Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies, were clearly marked as tile samples.

But according to a civil complaint filed on Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, they held something far rarer and more valuable: ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled into the United States from Iraq.

Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In 2010, as a deal for the tablets was being struck, an expert on cultural property law who had been hired by Hobby Lobby warned company executives that the artifacts might have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that failing to determine their heritage could break the law.

But Hobby Lobby bought them anyway. I guess Baby Jesus told them it would be ok.

Hobby Lobby’s purchase of the artifacts in December 2010 was fraught with “red flags,” according to the prosecutors. Not only did the company get conflicting information about the origin of the pieces, its representatives never met or spoke with the dealer who supposedly owned them, according to the complaint.

Instead, on the instructions of a second dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payments to seven separate personal bank accounts, the prosecutors said. The first dealer then shipped the items marked as clay or ceramic tiles to three Hobby Lobby sites in Oklahoma. All of the packages had labels falsely identifying their country of origin as Turkey, prosecutors said.

Yes but they’re Christians, ok? That means whatever they do is Christian, and thus good. It’s like how whatever Trump does is presidential and legal, because he’s the president. That’s how it works.



Public service is a public trust

Jul 6th, 2017 1:22 pm | By

The director of the Office of Government Ethics is resigning.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., the government’s top ethics watchdog who has repeatedly gone head-to-head with the Trump administration over conflicts of interest, said on Thursday that he was calling it quits.

Mr. Shaub’s five-year term as the director of the Office of Government Ethics is not set to expire until January, but with little chance of renewal and an appealing offer in hand from a nonpartisan advocacy group, he said the time was right to leave.

“There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation,” Mr. Shaub said in an interview on Thursday. “O.G.E.’s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened.”

But of course now that Trump will be appointing a new director, it won’t be.

In a short letter informing President Trump of his decision, Mr. Shaub did not offer a specific reason for his departure but extolled “the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws and ethical principles above private gain.” He had not been pressured to resign, he said.

A rather pointed observation, but it won’t make a dent in Trump, because nothing does. Narcissists are like that.

The intensity of feeling over what is usually an obscure job speaks to the central role ethics have come to play in Mr. Trump’s Washington, where the vast holdings of the president and his cabinet, as well as an influx of advisers from businesses and lobbying firms, have raised a rash of accusations of conflicts of interest.

A rash of accusations that reflect a rash of realities.

Mr. Shaub, 46, has faced an uncertain future at the agency since Mr. Trump took office in January. In the weeks between the president’s unexpected election victory and his inauguration, Mr. Shaub had taken an extraordinary gamble: He advocated very publicly on Twitter, and in a rare public speech, that Mr. Trump liquidate his vast business and personal holdings. The arrangement, Mr. Shaub argued, was the only truly ethical option.

Mr. Trump did not heed his advice, and by the middle of January, Mr. Shaub thought he might be fired. To minimize his attachment to the position, he packed up the personal possessions that filled his office.

But he was not fired, even as he continued to spar with Mr. Trump’s aides over a range of ethical concerns, including the ethics office’s authority to exercise oversight of the White House.

In February, he recommended that the White House disciplineKellyanne Conway, a top adviser to the president, after she made an on-air endorsement of the clothing line of Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. The White House Counsel’s Office disagreed and took no disciplinary action.

More recently, Mr. Shaub and the administration fought over a routine request by the ethics office for copies of waivers issued to White House appointees to work in the Trump administration. The Office of Management and Budget initially balked at the request, challenging Mr. Shaub’s legal authority even to ask for the information and asking him to withdraw it. After Mr. Shaub fired back with a stern 10-page letter shooting down the argument, the White House backed down.

The White House eventually released the waivers, showing it had granted at least a dozen exemptions for aides to work on policy matters they had handled as lobbyists or to engage with former colleagues in private-sector jobs. Mr. Shaub objected to the fact that many of the waivers were undated and unsigned, and that some gave approvals for acts retroactively.

In short, Trump presides over an ethical sewer.



He had to cut his nails

Jul 6th, 2017 12:50 pm | By

Does it matter that Trump didn’t go to the Warsaw Ghetto? Yes, it matters.

In a statement released Wednesday, Jewish community leaders expressed regret that the U.S. president would not be visiting the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.

“Ever since the fall of Communism in 1989, all U.S. presidents and vice-presidents visiting Warsaw had made a point of visiting the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto,” the statement read. “They did this in the name of the American people, who had played such a central role in bringing down fascism, and in that of the universal commemoration of the victims of the Shoah, and condemnation of its perpetrators, that people of all nationalities and religions express.”

The statement — signed by Anna Chipczynska, president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw, Lesław Piszewski, president of the Union of the Jewish Communities in Poland, and Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland — noted that Trump was speaking nearby. “We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the Monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition,” it concluded. “We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people.”

Well it does reflect the attitudes and feelings of an unpleasantly large segment of the American people…but not all of us.

Presidential records and news reports show that every president since 1989 had visited the Warsaw Ghetto on their first state visit to Poland. President George H.W. Bush had been the first to visit the site in July 1989, when he attended a wreath-laying ceremony during a two-day trip to Poland just months after communism ended in the country. President Bill Clinton attended ceremonies commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in July 1994. President George W. Bush laid a wreath at the ghetto when he visited in 2001, as did President Barack Obama in 2011.

So why didn’t Trump? Laziness? Indifference? Casual rudeness? Cluelessness? All those?

I don’t know. He’s an empty-headed real estate grifter, and empty-headed real estate grifters can’t be expected to know what the Warsaw Ghetto even was, let alone care enough about it to go visit it when they’re a mile away. Basically that may be all that’s necessary when wondering why Trump does something or neglects something for no clear reason. There’s just nothing much there. He’s an empty suit. He’s the kind of guy you want to get away from if he happens to corner you at a gathering, because he’s so empty. He’s a howling desert wilderness of nothing.



Trump skipped the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial

Jul 6th, 2017 12:16 pm | By

Apparently Polish state tv has said that Trump’s Warsaw speech was influenced by a very right-wing and anti-Semitic historian…but so far I haven’t been able to find any other source for the claim, so I don’t know if it’s true or not.

Hope Not Hate is the only online source, via the Polish state tv claim.

Donald Trump’s visit to Poland on 5-6 July has been marred by controversy over the alleged influence of a well-known far right activist.

Trump is going to speak at a public rally near the 1944 Warsaw Uprising monument. Right-wing groups are organising buses to transport people from all over Poland in order to provide a big crowd for the event. Apparently it is the first US President in many years whose visit to Poland does not include a tribute to the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial that is a short walking distance from the other monument at a time when antisemitism has been reportedly on the rise in both USA and Poland.

Well, that’s Trump – skip the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial because, you know, Jews, so probably lefties too, plus Jews, not the nice kind like Ivanka and Jared but the Jewie Jew kind.

On 3 July, Polish state television reported in its main news broadcast that Trump’s speech at the rally has been drawn up in consultation with Polish-American historian Marek J. Chodakiewicz.

Chodakiewicz himself appeared in the report and commented on the speech’s contents. It has also been reported Chodakiewicz is to be a member of the presidential delegation flying to Warsaw.

The report raised eyebrows because of Chodakiewicz’s long record of far right links. He is mostly known as a denier of Polish responsibility for acts of antisemitism, including the infamous Jedwabne pogrom of 1941.

He has repeatedly claimed Jews themselves were chiefly responsible for the hostility of their Polish neighbours. Accusations of Jewish involvement with Communism have been present in many of Chodakiewicz’s writings.

A frequent contributor to Polish right-wing media, he has recently referred to Bernie Sanders as “a Jewish bolshevik”.

He defended a Breitbart News writer who attacked Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum by calling her a “Polish, Jewish, American elitist” and accusing her of having “global media contacts”.

Chodakiewicz teaches at a Washington DC-based institution, the Institute of World Politics, but he has been active on the Polish far right spectrum. For example, he spoke at a rally organised by the extreme-right Nationalist Movement (Ruch Narodowy, RN) in June 2014. During his speech, he exclaimed: “We want a Catholic Poland, not a bolshevik one, not multicultural or gay!”

In other words, utterly repellent and probably dangerous, so it would be highly newsworthy if he really is part of Trump’s gang in Poland. But it’s not clear that that’s true.

Back in 2009, the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, assisted by the Warsaw-based Never Again Association, exposed Chodakiewicz’s far right views and connections in a widely-commented article.

For example, Jan T. Gross, a Princeton University history professor known for his books on anti-Jewish pogroms was quoted saying about Chodakiewicz: “The guy is an ideologist of the radical right, (…) I don’t have any doubts that he’s anti-Semitic.”

In the wake of the SPLC publication, Chodakiewicz lost his seat on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Council, a position he had received, to the surprise of many, on George W.Bush’s nomination.

We’ve learned lately how wrong the SPLC can be, but that doesn’t mean it’s always wrong.

On 4 July 2017, Polish state television repeated the assertion that Chodakiewicz had an influence in Trump’s planned speech in Warsaw. A right-wing columnist Stanislaw Janecki spoke approvingly about Chodakiewicz’s influence and suggested the emphasis on the Polish uprising of 1944, rather than the Jewish Ghetto uprising of 1943, was attributable to Chodakiewicz’s advice.

Chodakiewicz himself has bragged to media about his allotted seat on board Air Force One. Days after the original report on Polish TV, US officials stopped short of clearly confirming or denying Chodakiewicz’s involvement in the presidential visit.

So who knows. I would like to know. Let us know if you hear anything.



Not sorry

Jul 6th, 2017 11:25 am | By

Jared Yates Sexton on what it’s like to report on threat-mongering fascists in Trump’s Modern Presidential.

It only took a few minutes to figure out that HanAssholeSolo, the person behind President Donald Trump’s most retweeted tweet, had also used racial slurs and posted derogatory comments about Muslims. Then, there was the one that caused all the problems: a thread entitled, “Something Strange About CNN…can’t quite put my finger on it…,” with a graphic of dozens of the network’s talents with tiny blue Stars of David.

This one:

Image result for cnn star of david

Daily News

My reporting on the Stars of David meme quickly went viral. At this moment it’s been shared more than 14,000 times by the likes of CNN’s own Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who’s had his own run-ins with the president as of late. In the past, when a post or story of mine has garnered that much attention, I’ve always dealt with the inevitable criticism and harassment that follows. Sure enough, it wasn’t far behind.

Before the hour was up I was receiving messages from the usual customers: anonymous accounts with Pepe avatars and bios declaring themselves “ethnonationalists” and “white identitarians.” Despite my southern Baptist upbringing, they assumed I was Jewish because I’d uncovered anti-Semitism, and so the threats and memes predictably featured pictures of Adolf Hitler, scenes from the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic garbage. I was peppered with the usual slurs and insults before a user calling his or herself “Pepe’s Imam” told me: “There’s a civil war coming, leftist. Memes are the least of your problems.”

Over the past few weeks I’d heard plenty of talk about a new civil war, this one supposedly the looming violent clash between left and right. Since last year I’ve been threatened regularly, including an incident in which somebody circled my house at four in the morning, and so I’ve kept a close eye on extreme rightwing communities. In their posts and on the subculture’s favorite media outlet InfoWars, I’d heard talk of that conflict, but now the rhetoric seemed universal.

With some of them, it’s “just” talk. But we don’t know what percentage that “some” is, so we don’t know what percentage the others are – the ones for whom it’s not just talk. It’s fatuous to pretend this kind of mutual frotting of rage is entirely inert. Some people act on their rages, and the more rages are stoked and amplified, the more people will be inspired to make them physical. Circling someone’s house at 4 in the morning is not inert.

Other threats appeared on related sites, particularly on 4chan, the wild west of internet forums. Here, in reference to my reporting, they talked openly about “the Journocaust,” a term some used in place of the civil war. The fantasy seemed to be open hostilities in which journalists, academics and liberals could be hung in public, an event some called “The Day of the Rope” after a plot point in William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel about a fictional race war some in the extreme right hold as a holy book of sorts.

One anonymous member counseled on how to intimidate and threaten me without running afoul of social media moderators and the authorities. Another posted excerpts from a short story about killing journalists with lines like, “the media lies, the media dies” and “a traitor in front of a camera is still just a traitor.” Yet another said death was too good for journalists and “they should have their flesh twisted from their bones.”

And then, this:

I mean, he’s not wrong. If I could slit his flabby neck and dump him in a ditch somewhere without getting caught, I absolutely would in a heartbeat.

Same goes for pretty much any shitlib whiny or fake-news propagandist. The only thing stopping me is that it would be inconvenient, and the fact that the law enforcement apparatus is still semi-functional.

Again – could be just hot air – or could be the literal truth. It’s not reassuring.

Things didn’t slow down.

The Daily Stormer, the most popular Neo-Nazi publication in America, set its sights on me and declared my agenda as “Jewish.”

Then, former imperial wizard of the Ku-Klux-Klan and recent U.S. Senate candidate David Duke, one of the leaders in white supremacist thought, weighed in and said people like me had “promoted the mass collective guilt of Whites and laughed about it,” a charge that seemed to open the door for more white supremacists to come after me.

Still not reassuring.



Trump intensifies his attack on the free press

Jul 6th, 2017 10:48 am | By

Trump is in Poland, and he’s done a press conference and then a speech. The speech was ok because of course someone else wrote it and he simply read it. The presser was the usual embarrassment.

Then there is Trump’s willingness to continue his ongoing war with the media while abroad — and not just abroad but in a country where freedom of the press has been considerably curtailed in recent years.

The first question Trump took in Thursday’s press conference was from David Martosko, the US politics editor for DailyMail.com and a man who was once mentioned as a possible press secretary in this White House. And it was focused on CNN’s alleged “fake news” coverage of the president.

Past presidents traveling abroad might have deflected the question, acknowledging that the press didn’t always get it right but pivoting to a broader defense of the absolute necessity of a free and independent media.

Not Trump.

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them,” he said. “As you know, they now have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very dishonest way.”

That right there? Wholly inappropriate. Fifth Column level inappropriate. Quisling level inappropriate. It’s a frank lie that CNN is fake news, and he’s basically flinging shit at his own country and its institutions by saying it is…along with demonstrating just how self-centered and narcissistic he is, in case Poland had missed it until now.

After asking the Polish prime minister whether they had that same problem with the media — Nota bene: Recent crackdowns on the Polish media have led to the country dropping from 18th in 2015 to 54th in 2017 in the World Press Freedom Index — Trump offered up another broadside on the American media:

What we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it is a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing, very bad for our country.

That’s Trump aggressively undermining the free press while in a country that has worked to stifle media dissent in recent years. That’s truly remarkable.

Yes, it is. Remarkable and horrifying and profoundly dismal.



Guest post: As they think God intended

Jul 5th, 2017 5:55 pm | By

Originally a comment by Dave Ricks on Towns that have never recovered from the gold rush.

The Times article shows Mark Baird waving a flag for the State of Jefferson movement in Northern California. The Times reports the SOJ movement is about representation within California on issues of rural versus urban, etc. But the Times totally missed the SOJ relationship to the Federal government that I’ll write here.

If you click my SOJ link above, and you pull down Resources > Videos, you’ll see Mark Baird showing you the same pocket US Constitution that I pointed out in this B&W thread about Ammon Bundy. I’ll repost some things I wrote on that thread for convenient reference here.

That pocket US Constitution is from the Idaho-based National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote a report about the NCCS in 2011. Quoting from the SPLC report about an NCSS seminar in Fairmont, West Virginia:

As the morning progressed, it became clear that the NCCS worldview and program were based on three major pillars: understanding the divine guidance that has allowed the United States to thrive; rejecting the tyrannical, implicitly sinful, nature of the modern federal government; and preparing for a divine reckoning that will bring down America’s government and possibly tear society as we know it asunder, thus allowing those with sound principles — i.e., godly NCCS graduates — to rebuild the republic along “sounder,” more pious lines.

America’s return to extremely limited government, as they think God intended, is destined to happen, NCCS lecturers teach, because God has already shown an interventionist role in American history. According to the NCCS, the founding of the United States was nothing short of a “miracle” in the literal sense of the word. God is watching, in other words, and he is not happy. Teaching out of the seminar’s 131-page illustrated workbook, [the instructor Randall] McNeely argued that the current federal government is guilty of a “usurpation of power.” It is, therefore, illegitimate, though McNeely never actually uttered that word. Governmental powers should be used sparingly, he explained, limited largely to the common defense and the elimination of “debauchery and vice.”

There is a dark, often unspoken, subtext to the NCCS’s crusade to promote the “sound principles” of proper Constitutional government. That subtext is a belief in the imminent collapse of civilization. This collapse is interwoven in the bombastic teachings of NCCS friend and ally Glenn Beck, whose Doomsday-drenched shows are profitably promoted by fear-mongering purveyors of everything from gold bullion to “crisis gardens” and emergency radios. The NCCS has done much to encourage and spread a deeply apocalyptic worldview among far-right Mormons, of whom Beck is only the most famous.

The NCCS views its education crusade as crucial for rebuilding America after a coming cataclysm; thus, [the NCCS seminar] “The Making of America” is best seen as a God-centric civics class for the bomb shelter. Speaking last year in Mesa, Ariz., [the NCCS president Earl] Taylor spoke cryptically of the need for “the Good Lord’s help” to take America “into a much better phase of existence lasting for a thousand years.”

Taylor’s remarks only make sense in the context of a cleansing, holy wrath, after which will emerge pure Constitutional defenders ready to build a new society on the ashes of the old.

“I fear that the United States is going to have to go through the wringer,” said Taylor. “It’s gonna be rough.”

“When the time comes, when the people who are in power for the power and the glory, and there is no more power and glory left, they’ll probably be looking around asking, ‘Can anybody help?’ And you’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got some ideas. Come on over and eat a little something.’ Because there probably won’t be much food anyway, but if you’re wise, you’ll have some.”

At this depressing image of future Constitutional scholars discussing the evils of the income tax and battling “debauchery” amid the scarred ruins of a post-Apocalyptic America, Taylor brightens up.

“We’re gonna win this thing,” he said. “I’ve read the last chapter, like you have, and in the end, we’re gonna win this thing.”

“Isn’t that great?”



Cernovich threatens CNN reporter

Jul 5th, 2017 5:08 pm | By

So now, of course, the CNN reporter (Andrew Kaczynski) is being threatened, and so is his family.

A CNN reporter is facing harassment, death threats, and a potential protest at his house after he wrote a story that did not name a Reddit user who created a GIF posted by Donald Trump but suggested he might publish the user’s identity if their social media behavior changed.

Social media personality and alt-right commentator Mike Cernovich is among those leading the charge against the reporter, Andrew Kaczynski, saying on Twitter, “We are coming for you.”

See? This isn’t a joke. It isn’t fun and games. It isn’t legitimate free speech. It’s a form of terrorism.

https://twitter.com/Cernovich/status/882683121451376640

Earlier in the day, Cernovich said that “sources” had told him they had planned a protest in front of Kaczynski’s house. An address that reportedly belongs to Kaczynski has been widely spread on Twitter, along with Kaczynski’s phone numbers and information about his spouse, siblings, and parents.

Because Kaczynski and CNN did not do that to HanAssholeSolo, but implied they might if he continued doing…the kind of bullying and terrorizing people are now committing against Kaczynski. Heads they win tails we lose.

Tweets about Kaczynski vary wildly, with some castigating him for his perceived offense while others advocate physical violence against him and CNN in general. Kaczynski’s now-infamous piece tracked down the identity of the Reddit user, HanAssholeSolo, who claims to have created Donald Trump’s anti-CNN wrestling GIF.

They get to call for violence against us. We don’t get to point out the people calling for violence against us.

Something amiss here.



Prep work

Jul 5th, 2017 11:52 am | By

They’ve tried. His people have tried to prep him for the meeting with Putin, and to convey to him the things he shouldn’t do. But does that mean he is prepared? Of course not. He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t remember, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t think anyone knows better than he does.

President Trump has been briefed repeatedly. His advisers have alerted him to the web of potential risks, complex issues and diplomatic snags.

But even his top aides do not know precisely what Mr. Trump will decide to say or do when he meets President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia face-to-face this week on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit gathering in Hamburg, Germany. And that is what most worries his advisers and officials across his administration as he embarks Wednesday on his second foreign trip, first to Warsaw and then to Hamburg.

Of course it is. He has no impulse-control and no ability to think ahead. He’s like a clown on a spring.

“There’s a fair amount of nervousness in the White House and at the State Department about this meeting and how they manage it because they see a lot of potential risks,” said Steven Pifer, a former ambassador to Ukraine who has worked for the National Security Council and the State Department.

Mind you, that’s still a small amount of worry overall, because the State Department is so understaffed.

Mr. Trump himself is not troubled by the meeting. He has told aides he is more annoyed by the prospect of being scolded by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other leaders for pulling out of the Paris climate accords and for his hard line on immigration.

What I’m saying. He’s too stupid to understand what he should be troubled about, and too narcissistic to tolerate the knowledge that Angela Merkel thinks he’s an ignorant buffoon.

A day before Mr. Trump was to leave Washington, the White House announced that the meeting with Mr. Putin would be a formal bilateral discussion, rather than a quick pull-aside at the economic summit meeting that some had expected.

The format benefits both. Mr. Putin, a canny one-on-one operator who once brought a Labrador to a meeting with Ms. Merkel because he knew she was afraid of dogs, will be able to take the measure of Mr. Trump.

So Putin will bring an intelligent woman to his meeting with Trump.

Mr. Trump’s aides are seeking structure and predictability. They hope that a formal meeting, with aides present and an agenda, will leave less room for improvisation and relegate Russia’s meddling in the campaign to a secondary topic, behind more pressing policy concerns that the president is eager to address.

“Nobody has found the slightest evidence of collusion, any evidence the vote was tampered with, so now they have turned their obsession to Russian ‘interference,’” said Kellyanne Conway, the president’s senior counselor and former campaign manager. “I don’t think that’s what the American people are interested in.”

And that’s how much Trump’s people care about the integrity of US elections – not at all.

The potential pitfalls are more than theoretical. White House officials recall with dread the images that emerged from Mr. Trump’s May meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak of Russia in the Oval Office, which showed the president grinning, laughing and clasping hands with the Russian officials.

The biggest concern, people who have spoken recently with members of his team said, is that Mr. Trump, in trying to forge a rapport, appears to be unwittingly siding with Mr. Putin. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin has expressed disdain for the news media, and he asserted in a recent interview that secretive elements within the United States government were working against the president’s agenda. Two people close to Mr. Trump said they expected the men to bond over their disdain for “fake news.”

Well that’s Trump. Who exactly is it that they think they’re working for?



They want to bully strangers from behind a mask

Jul 5th, 2017 10:53 am | By

So now the guy who created the Trump Beats Up CNN meme is the new martyr-hero of the noble cause of Free Speech With No Consequences For Internet Harassers And Stalkers And Bullies. Abby Ohlheiser at the Post reports that the new martyr-hero apologized in a Reddit post, and called for peace.

“This is one individual that you will not see posting hurtful or hateful things in jest online. This is my last post from this account and I wanted to do it on a positive note and hopefully it will heal the controversy that this all caused.”

It didn’t.  

#CNNBlackmail was the top trending Twitter topic  Wednesday morning, thanks to the efforts of a furious Trump Internet, who had concluded that the user’s apology was forced by a “threat” from CNN. Their evidence? A story CNN itself published, detailing its attempts to contact and identify the anonymous Reddit user ahead of their apology, whose offensive posting history suddenly became part of a national news story.

Did CNN do anything underhanded to find Martyrhero’s identity? CNN [with ss swapped for ** in HanAssholeSolo]:

The apology came after CNN’s KFile identified the man behind “HanAssholeSolo.” Using identifying information that “HanAssholeSolo” posted on Reddit, KFile was able to determine key biographical details, to find the man’s name using a Facebook search and ultimately corroborate details he had made available on Reddit.

On Monday, KFile attempted to contact the man by email and phone but he did not respond. On Tuesday, “HanAssholeSolo” posted his apology on the subreddit /The_Donald and deleted all of his other posts.

CNN found him via biographical details he’d published himself. Is that underhanded? No. It would be shitty if they’d done it to bully him for no good reason, but they did it after he bullied them for no good reason. See how that changes the moral equation? Apparently this is beyond the Trump Internet.

Back to the Post:

The part of the article that infuriated the Trump Internet — and people on both sides of the political spectrum, who questioned the ethical standards of the network’s decision — had to do with how CNN described its reasoning for not identifying the Redditor by name. Reporter Andrew Kaczynski wrote that CNN had spoken with the person behind the account, and would not identify the user because “he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology,” who had promised not to continue flooding the Internet with offensive memes.

But, he wrote, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”

The TrumpInternet is shouting that that’s blackmail.

Is it?

Here’s the thing. Martyrhero is a private citizen who was using his private citizen status to stir up hatred against individuals and classes of people. Why should his “privacy” be respected when that’s what he’s using it for? Why should anyone else respect the secrecy of his identity when the secrecy is protecting him from social opprobrium for being a bullying harassing shit? Internet harassers are like that – they carry on like ardent believers in their own campaigns of harassment and yet they do it from behind a mask. If they’re such ardent believers, why the mask? We’re not talking resistance to a tyrannical government, here, we’re talking harassment of people who advocate egalitarian political ideas. They don’t rely on privacy for their safety, they rely on privacy for their ability to talk shit at strangers with social impunity. They want to have it both ways. They want to bully strangers online, but they don’t want their friends to know they do that.

The media has often struggled to cover Trump’s online supporters, whose skepticism of mainstream publications has evolved into a total rejection of the idea that places like CNN are even trying to report the truth. At the head of that rejection is the president himself, who regularly tweets that news outlets he doesn’t like are “fake news.” Media ethics experts who look at CNN’s article on all this might discuss it in the context of a long and tricky media discussion about outing anonymous, racist Internet trolls. On the Trump Internet, however, the subtext of the meme is that “blackmailing” sources is a normal part of mainstream journalistic practice. The difference is, they believe, that someone finally got caught.

And so the battle is raging.



#ThanksNorthKorea

Jul 5th, 2017 9:54 am | By

Meanwhile the US Ambassador to the UN was grumpy about the whole North Korea ICBM thing because it trashed her 4th of July, which is an official holiday I’ll have you know.

Damn don’t you hate when that happens? Thanks North Korea! I thought we were friends.

BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold offered Haley a link to an ABC News explainer of her job description — “in the event you are unaware of what it entails.”

We’ll save you the trouble of reading it yourself. The former South Carolina governor, who had no foreign policy experience before President Trump appointed her, is paid to advocate for American goals at the United Nations, to its nearly 200 member nations, especially in times of crisis.

And this is a crisis, according to the experts. They say North Korea had not been expected to deliver a weapon with intercontinental range so soon, and will likely manage to eventually attach a nuclear warhead to one of them. According to a former acting CIA director, any military response to Pyongyang would risk a catastrophic war.

But don’t worry, if they do throw it they’ll just throw it at Seattle, which is just some poky little town up in the far corner that nobody cares about.

Anyway. I feel really sad that Nikki Haley missed out on the beer and hot dogs, and I hope she gets a day off next week to make up for it.



Absence of plan shocker

Jul 5th, 2017 9:13 am | By

The Washington Post states the obvious: Trump has never had a plan for dealing with North Korea. Well no kidding, Trump has never had a plan for anything, because he’s had only stupid blurts.

We forget sometimes that President Trump’s political rhetoric was forged not over years of policymaking or in discussions with experts on foreign policy and domestic issues…

Who’s “we”? I don’t forget that. I never forget that for a second. I never forget that Trump is a random brainless blowhard such as you might sit next to on a plane on a bad day, and that he has never had any kind of exposure to policymaking or discussions with experts on foreign policy and domestic issues of any kind whatsoever. I never forget that he can barely read, and does it as little as possible, and that he knows nothing except marketing. Literally nothing. He has a head stuffed full of blurts, and blurts don’t add up to knowledge, no matter how many of them you collect.

We forget sometimes that President Trump’s political rhetoric was forged not over years of policymaking or in discussions with experts on foreign policy and domestic issues, but in weekly phone interviews with “Fox and Friends.” Before he declared his candidacy, the real estate developer and TV personality would appear on the program every Monday morning, weighing in on the issues of the day as the hosts offering their now-familiar lack of criticism of his musings.

I didn’t forget that last part, because I didn’t know it. What on earth did they do that for? Why did anybody anywhere ask Trump for his opinion on the issues of the day? You’d be better off asking the nearest dog.

Host Steve Doocy broached that subject by noting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might soon test a nuclear weapon “or do something dopey like that” — but that China might actually be starting to put pressure on the rogue nation.

“Well, I think China has total control over the situation,” Trump responded. North Korea “wouldn’t exist for a month without China. And I think China, frankly, as you know — and I’ve been saying it for a long time, and people are starting to see that I’m right — China is not our friend.”

And blah blah blah, and somehow we got stuck with Mr Windbag as president.

How did “Fox and Friends” reply to Trump’s argument? Well, the conversation quickly transitioned to Trump having been inaugurated into the pro wrestling Hall of Fame.

To be fair, Trump wasn’t a politician then, so there was much less of a reason to demand a hard answer. Of course, there was also little reason to ask his opinion. But this is the crucible in which Trump’s policy on North Korea was formed — and over the course of the presidential campaign, it didn’t evolve much.

Right, and this is something I don’t forget, and neither do the people I know. We’d be happier and more tranquil, though no less doomed, if we could forget it, but we can’t.

During the general-election debates, Trump stuck to the same theme. “China should solve that problem for us,” he said in September 2016. “China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.”

When Trump met with Obama during the presidential transition, Obama reportedly warned Trump that North Korea would be the most urgent problem he would face. Trump, during that period, continued to argue that Chinamust address the North Korea threat and that, under his watch, no North Korean weapon could strike the United States.

Once he became president, though, Trump’s tone shifted.

In April of this year, with the 100-day mark of his presidency looming, Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo that getting China to fix the problem was not that simple. Describing a conversation with President Xi Jinping of China, Trump said that North Korea was the first thing he brought up. However, Xi “then explain[ed] thousands of years of history with Korea. Not that easy.”

“In other words,” Trump said, “not as simple as people would think.”

No, in other words, not as simple as Trump alone among humans said it was for years. Trump is the only person on the planet who thought it would be simply a matter of ordering the Chinese to deal with it and being Big and Tough enough that they would believe it. Nobody else thought that. Nobody else is that ignorant and simpleminded but confident.

Since then he’s been contradicting himself on the subject every few days – China must deal, China can’t deal, China must deal, Oops it turns out to be difficult, who knew. Now that’s some effective plan right there.

China can fix this and needs to. Maybe China can fix this. If China doesn’t fix this, we will. China isn’t fixing this, but can.

The reason for this back-and-forth is obvious: Trump promised that he could put pressure on the Chinese to cut off North Korea, forcing that nation to end its nuclear ambitions. But once Trump took office, that policy proved to be much harder than he’d presented. So, lacking an obvious solution (since none exists), he continues to try to blame China’s policy while explaining why they haven’t been moved to action.

Thus demonstrating to the entire world what an incompetent reckless bozo he is.

The president’s current conundrum is twofold. First, there’s no easy solution. Second, Trump promised that there was one.

Had his policy been crafted by a team other than Fox’s early-morning talk show hosts, that second problem might not exist.

What could possibly go wrong?



Ready to suck

Jul 4th, 2017 5:36 pm | By

Robot hotties. Yay. Good for people who don’t get out much, people who don’t like people, people who don’t feel like talking to the bitch for hours first.

But. Perhaps they might tend to objectify women.

Oh surely not.

Surely not.

Sex robots can be bought in the United States and there are plans for a cafe staffed by ‘erotic cyborgs’ in London

H/t Glosswitch