Notes and Comment Blog


Compromising and salacious personal information

Jan 10th, 2017 5:58 pm | By

More on the news that reports say Russia has compromising information on Trump.

First from Julian Borger at the Guardian:

Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant.

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents’ contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government.

Late on Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” He made no direct reference to the allegations.

Then they gagged him and tied him up and issued three anodyne tweets about small business optimism.

One report, dated June 2016, claims that the Kremlin has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years, with the aim of encouraging “splits and divisions in western alliance”.

It claims that Trump had declined “various sweetener real estate deals offered him in Russia” especially in developments linked to the 2018 World Cup finals but that “he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.”

Most explosively, the report alleges: “FSB has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.” The president-elect has not responded to the allegations.

The reports were initially commissioned as opposition research during the presidential campaign, but its author was sufficiently alarmed by what he discovered to send a copy to the FBI. It is unclear who within the organisation they reached and what action the bureau took. The former Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, has lambasted Comey for publicising investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private server, while allegedly sitting on “explosive” material on Trump’s ties to Russia.

So Comey knew about this, but he sat on it, and shouted about Clinton’s email server 5 minutes before the election. Fucking awesome.

Russian intelligence allegedly gathered compromising material from his stay in Moscow in November 2013, when he was in the city to host the Miss Universe pageant.

Which, as we learned, he used as a pool of grabbable pussies.

Another report, dated 19 July last year said that Carter Page, a businessman named by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, had held a secret meeting that month with Igor Sechin, head of the Rosneft state-owned oil company and a long-serving lieutenant of Vladimir Putin. Page also allegedly met Igor Divyekin, an internal affairs official with a background in intelligence, who is said to have warned Page that Moscow had “kompromat” (compromising material) on Trump.

A month after Trump’s surprise election victory, Page was back in Moscow saying he was meeting with “business leaders and thought leaders”, dismissing the FBI investigation as a “witch-hunt” and suggesting the Russian hacking of the Democratic Party alleged by US intelligence agencies, could be a false flag operation to incriminate Moscow.

Another of the reports compiled by the former western counter-intelligence official in July said that members of Trump’s team, which was led by campaign manager Paul Manafort (a former consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine), had knowledge of the DNC hacking operation, and in return “had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/Nato defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine”.

A few days later, Trump raised the possibility that his administration might recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and openly called on Moscow to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

In August, officials from the Trump campaign intervened in the drafting of the Republican party platform, specifically to remove a call for lethal assistance to Ukraine for its battle against Moscow-backed eastern rebels.

Pretty filthy.

Now the Times:

The chiefs of America’s intelligence agencies last week presented President Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump with a summary of unsubstantiated reports that Russia had collected compromising and salacious personal information about Mr. Trump, two officials with knowledge of the briefing said.

The summary is based on memos generated by political operatives seeking to derail Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Details of the reports began circulating in the fall and were widely known among journalists and politicians in Washington.

But did they share what they widely knew? No, they did not.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel. The videos were supposedly prepared as “kompromat,” or compromising material, with the possible goal of blackmailing Mr. Trump in the future.

The memos also suggest that Russian officials proposed various lucrative deals, essentially as disguised bribes in order to win influence over the real estate magnate.

According to the Guardian he rejected those deals.

The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

None of this has been verified, and that’s apparently why they have been sitting on it.

Democrats on Tuesday night pressed for a thorough investigation of the claims in the memos. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the house intelligence committee, called for law enforcement to find out whether the Russian government had any contact with Mr. Trump or his campaign.

“The president-elect has spoken a number of times, including after being presented with this evidence, in flattering ways about Russia and its dictator,” Mr. Swalwell said. “Considering the evidence of Russia hacking our democracy to his benefit, the president-elect would do a service to his presidency and our country by releasing his personal and business income taxes, as well as information on any global financial holdings.”



Have a carnal hermeneutic

Jan 10th, 2017 5:34 pm | By

From a call for papers on an academic listserv which shall remain nameless:

When considering the flesh as site from which the legibility of citizenship is traced, the body, “by definition, yields to social crafting and force, the body is vulnerable. It is not, however, a mere surface upon which social meanings are inscribed, but that which suffers, enjoys and responds to the exteriority of the world, an exteriority that defines its disposition, its passivity and activity.” With subjectivity that becomes a defiant object of interpretation, queer migrations and global participations in citizenship and refugee statuses evoke destabilization. These subjectivities are *queerly* at times illegible and resulting citizenship(s) precarious as queer identity exceeds, transmutes, or coalesces what we think we know about ourselves or those around us. Here the politics of normative citizenship become compounded by the queer citizenships claimed, or paradoxically *not *claimed. Nonetheless, as a perceived queer subject, one is no less vulnerable to the exposure of criminality and violations of the flesh. Utopically, we, as desiring queer citizens, seek to embrace all our excesses and discover hidden in our archives a mythos and template cautioning that we must live and love well—even in the face of vulnerability and exposure.

This symposium explores the interdisciplinary navigations of queer citizenship, of queer creative spaces, of queer protest and praxis . How is queer citizenship a renegotiation or a normative performance of both time and space? Can we embrace the queer child as the futurity that Kathryn Bond Stockton and Paul Amar suggest? Does this child require the visibility of the queer in the archive? Can the queer child be regarded as the ideal citizen of the world, whose appearance defies the mythos of trickster, nymphet and changeling? How does the contemporary and historical criminalization of the queer and rendering of the *deviant* present a carnal hermeneutic to be recuperated or resisted? What activisms can queer scholarship and subjectivity embrace and require to live well. How can queer bodies be regarded as sites that exceed time and space, as queer cartographies of becoming? How does living well require an erotics of power that requires living from and through, or against, the flesh?

I trust you feel enlightened.



Compromising personal and financial information about Trump

Jan 10th, 2017 3:51 pm | By

Er. This seems explosive. CNN:

Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

Gee…so maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all to elect him even though he never released his tax returns? Maybe all that stuff we don’t know about him because he hid it from us while lying about his reason for hiding it…actually matters? Maybe the fact that he was hiding so much should have been a giant red flag? Just spitballing here.

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.

These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

So that they could help get Trump elected and then control him because of what they know about him. What an awesome arrangement. How clever of us to let it happen.

The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.

What???????????

Sources tell CNN that these same allegations about communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians, mentioned in classified briefings for congressional leaders last year, prompted then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to send a letter to FBI Director Comey in October, in which he wrote, “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States.”

CNN has confirmed that the synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump but cannot confirm if it was discussed in his meeting with the intelligence chiefs.
The Trump transition team declined repeated requests for comment.

They think they don’t have to be accountable to us. They think they can just tell us to fuck off. I hope they’re wrong.

Also…I wonder if Trump will make it to January 20th.



Mum’s the word

Jan 10th, 2017 2:50 pm | By

Another wrinkle in this story of The Glorious Repeal of the Affordable Care Act: the Republicans have told the Congressional Budget Office not to analyze the cost of proposals for repeal. Keep that shit a secret! Make sure the public can’t find out what a massive fuckup this will be!

Under the House rules, which passed on a party-line vote without any Democrats in favor, the budget office is prohibited from analyzing “any bill or joint resolution” that repeals or modifies Obamacare.

This prohibition probably reflects that Republicans have come to grips with the fact that several provisions within the massive health care law have reduced the federal deficit, thanks to tax increases or payment restrictions on Medicare providers.

According to an analysis produced by the budget office in June, repealing Obamacare would increase the federal budget deficit by about $137 billion over the next 10 years. Using another method of calculation, the repeal would add $353 billion.

No price is too high to stick it to those abominable people who insist on making low wages when they could just build towers in Manhattan and be rich enough to buy themselves entire hospitals.



Trump urges speed on uninsuring millions

Jan 10th, 2017 11:53 am | By

Trump is urging Republicans to HURRY UP and repeal the ACA, so that 20 million people can be stripped of their health insurance RIGHT AWAY.

The rich dude who has never had to worry about health insurance for a day in his life is in a big hurry to take it away from people who don’t have much money, because he’s just that kind of guy.

The rich dude who cut off benefits from the family health plan that were paying for the medical care of his nephew’s seriously ill little boy can’t wait to throw 20 million people off health insurance.

The rich scumbag is a rich scumbag, and he’s ten days from being president of the US.

Republicans in Congress are nowhere close to agreement on a major health bill that would replace President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

Of course they’re not, and they never will be, because there’s no way to “replace” it without just doing the same thing all over again. They’re obviously not going to replace it with universal coverage via single payer, so what’s left is mandatory insurance for all plus subsidies, or nothing. Nothing is what we had before, and it’s all the Republicans are ever going to come up with. They are ideologically opposed to the very idea of universal health insurance paid for via progressive taxation. The alternative is no health insurance for the poor. There’s not some big unexplored country in between where people with low incomes get health insurance by MAGIC.

Mr. Trump issued a political warning to Democrats who might stand in his way, saying he would campaign against lawmakers, especially in states that he won in November.

“It may not get approved the first time, and it may not get approved the second time, but the Democrats who will try not to approve it” will be at risk, warning that “they have 10 people coming up” for re-election in 2018. That alluded to Democratic senators in states he won.

“I won some of those states by numbers that nobody has seen. I will be out there campaigning,” he said.

To repeat:

In 2000, during a family dispute about the details of his father’s will, Trump, who was by then fabulously wealthy in his own right, cut off benefits from the family health plan that were paying for the medical care of his nephew’s seriously ill young son.

That’s what he is.



A quiet night in Dortmund

Jan 10th, 2017 7:05 am | By

The Local pointed out some extensive lying by Breitbart a few days ago.

Breitbart wrote an article about New Year’s Eve in Dortmund on Tuesday with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

“At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church,” the alt-right website reported.

But no. There was no mob, the actions were separate as opposed to coordinated, and the church was not set on fire.

There was in fact a total of around 1,000 people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Leeds Square, including “large and small groups” of young, foreign men as well as families with children, according to Ruhr Nachrichten.

The original report by the local news site from that night describes how some individuals did start launching fireworks from within the crowd towards police, who told them to stop but were ignored. Broadcaster WDR reported that officers then issued orders for some people to leave and took some into custody.

Some people (probably men, to be frank) misbehaved with fireworks, a pretty routine incident.

While Breitbart wrote that the “mob” set the roof of Germany’s oldest church on fire, Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out that this was also not accurate.

St. Reinold is not Germany’s oldest church – that would be the Cathedral of Trier – and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework.

And while Breitbart states that the “fireworks were launched at” the church, there was no indication from local news outlets or from the fire services that the fire had been started intentionally.

It was a small fire, it burned for 12 minutes, the fire services put it out. The cops said it was a quiet night.

In a report released on Thursday, Dortmund police stated that the number of times they were called out during New Year’s celebrations this year was down from 421 in 2015-16 to 185 in 2016-17.

Breitbart also said a group of Syrians held up an IS flag, but in fact it was a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.

Good thing Breitbart doesn’t have the ear of the next president.

Oh wait…

Image may contain: text

H/t Stewart



The fun new way to say “you’re fired”

Jan 9th, 2017 3:12 pm | By

The other day House Republicans made it possible for them to get around civil service protections by cutting the pay of individual workers to $1 thus in effect firing them.

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to propose amending an appropriations bill to single out a government employee or cut a specific program.

The use of the rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment. At the same time, opponents and supporters agree that the work of 2.1 million civil servants, designed to be insulated from politics, is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

And, worse than “whims,” the ideological hatred of climate science, women’s rights, consumer protections – you get the idea.

Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove alarming to the federal workforce because it comes in combination with President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring, and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who in some cases seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead.

To put it mildly. Jeff Sessions hates civil rights, Andrew Puzder hates the minimum wage – what could possibly go wrong?

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that voters elected Trump with the hope of fundamentally changing the way government works and that the Holman Rule gives Congress a chance to do just that.

He lost the popular vote, by a lot. That’s not “a mandate” to trash the joint.

In light of recent inquiries by the Trump transition team about a list of Energy Department scientists who have worked on climate change, advocates for federal workers say they worry that bureaucrats could be targeted for political reasons.

Jeffrey Neal, former personnel chief at the Department of Homeland Security and now a senior vice president at ICF International, said the rule “creates a lot of opportunity for mischief.”

No no, it’s draining the swamp.



Choose carefully

Jan 9th, 2017 2:16 pm | By

Via Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans History Month UK on Facebook:

Message from LGBT History Month:

Julie Bindel

Schools OUT UK wishes to make a statement concerning the proposed appearance of Julie Bindel at The Working Class Movement Library in Manchester on the 4th of February, which is promoted on the LGBT History Month Calendar.

It’s not a “proposed” appearance, by the way – it’s a scheduled appearance. It’s on the calendar.

As the creators of LGBT History Month and the owners of the website and associated social media, we wish to make clear that the only events for which we are responsible are OUTing the Past: The National LGBT History Festivals taking place in fifteen venues around the country throughout the month of February. These are run locally and we provide much of the wherewithal, rather than taking responsibility for their overall management. We have no responsibility for the organisation of any other events during the month, whether or not they are promoted on our calendar; including this one.

That said, we recognise that this event is on our calendar and we have the editorial power to remove it. We have chosen not to and we wish to explain why.

Let’s consider Julie Bindel herself. As the blurb in the calendar says, “Julie has been active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children since 1979, and has written extensively on topics such as rape, domestic violence, prostitution and trafficking”. This is hardly stuff that should cause objections. We gather she will be discussing what it was like to be a working class feminist lesbian in the 1970s, about which, as a middle class gay teenager in the 70s, I for one would like to know more. Her views are valuable and need to be heard. She made the comments that questioned the existence of trans women in 2004 and has said she would phrase things differently now. But when the event went up on the calendar we were bombarded with demands that it be removed and threats to ‘withdraw support’ from LGBT History Month. Now a protest is being organised and petitions have been presented on social media to ban her from the event and to attempt to remove funding from the Working Class Museum; as if shutting down the only museum of its kind in the country would be to anyone’s benefit. The struggle for equality is everyone’s struggle and the working classes need more visibility; not less.

Emphasis added. Julie herself is more concerned about that than she is about the attempt to shut her down.

There’s no denying that Julie Bindel will say things people don’t want to hear and that she will upset people. I was disappointed at an article she wrote challenging medical intervention to forestall puberty in trans children; especially as the organ that published it was that enemy of equality and human rights The Daily Mail. She has a right to speak just as we have a right to challenge what she says. That is the nature of debate and it allows us to make change happen in society.

Lots of people will say things we don’t want to hear, every day and everywhere. It’s a good idea to learn to choose one’s battles carefully. It’s a good idea to learn to distinguish between real enemies and phantom ones. It’s a good idea to have a sense of proportion.



Lies 1-3

Jan 9th, 2017 11:24 am | By

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post takes an in-depth look at Trump’s persistent lying. He cites the tweets in which Trump says he never mocked the reporter he did mock.

Here Trump is telling two lies about a third lie. A quick review: Trump’s mockery of a disabled reporter came after he claimed “thousands and thousands” of Muslims living in America celebrated 9/11. Kovaleski had written an article just after 9/11 that claimed law enforcement “detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks.” Under fire for his falsehood about celebratory Muslims, Trump cited that article to push back, even though an “alleged” “number” is hardly proof of “thousands.” In response to that, the reporter put out a statement saying he did not witness Trump’s version of events. But Trump cited that statement as proof that the reporter had dishonestly backtracked on a story that backed Trump’s position (a lie Trump repeated in Monday’s tweets). That’s how Trump’s mockery of the reporter arose: He waved his arms and mock-quoted the reporter saying “I don’t know what I said!” (See Glenn Kessler’s extensive anatomy of the full story.)

A “number of people”≠“thousands and thousands” of people. Not at all. A “number of people”≠a crowd or a mob or a mass of people. That’s not the right phrase to use when you mean to indicate a large though indeterminate number. It’s much closer to “several” then it is to “thousands and thousands.”

To recap: Lie No. 1 is that thousands of U.S.-based Muslims celebrated 9/11. Lie No. 2 is that the disabled reporter’s original story backed Trump and that the reporter backtracked on it. Lie No. 3 is that Trump didn’t mock that disabled reporter (in fact, he flapped his hands around frantically after saying, “you gotta see this guy!”).

The claim about celebrating Muslims was one of Trump’s biggest lies — one that was central to his key campaign narrative about the Muslim Enemy Within. And so, Streep wasn’t merely calling out Trump’s bullying and abusiveness. She was also calling out his uniquely uncontrollable lying, and the extent to which Trump will go to attack reporters in service of it.

That should be the lengths to which Trump will go. You can’t go to an extent the way you can go to lengths. It should be “the extent to which Trump will lie” or “the lengths to which Trump will go.” But the point is clear enough: Trump lies constantly and shamelessly, and he does it to damage and harm people he dislikes. He’s a very bad man.

It’s often argued that we should perhaps give less attention to Trump’s tweets. But Monday’s barrage gets at something important. Yes, all politicians lie. But with only days to go until Trump assumes vast power, Monday’s tweetstorm is a reminder that we may be witnessing something new and different in the nature and degree of the dishonesty at issue. Here again we’re seeing Trump’s willingness to keep piling the lies on top of one another long after the original foundational lies have been widely debunked, and to keep on attacking the press for not playing along with his version of reality, as if the very possibility of shared reality can be stamped out by Trumpian edict, or Trumpian Tweedict.

Seriously. As is no doubt obvious, I don’t at all buy the claim that we should pay less attention to Trump’s tweets; I think they’re a direct line to what a poisonous shit he is. Sure they could function as distractions but we can avoid that by avoiding it, and they are important in themselves. It’s important to know what malevolent, childish, ignorant, stupid thoughts he’s willing to put out there for all of us to see.

Some journalists are arguing that we need to take care in labeling Trump’s falsehoods as “lies,” because that imputes motive and intent. If some feel more comfortable labeling them “false,” that will probably suffice most of the time, with the crucial caveat that it must be done squarely and prominently. But the broader point here is that, in the debate over how to handle Trump’s profound and unprecedented dishonesty, let’s not underplay the possibility that the usual conventions of political journalism may prove woefully insufficient to conveying to readers and viewers what Trump is really up to here.

Yep.



Muscle through

Jan 9th, 2017 10:48 am | By

The Times updated its TodayInTrump piece with the newest bad news: Trump’s horrible son-in-law will be senior adviser to his horrible father-in-law.

It has been expected for weeks. Now, Trump transition officials confirm that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a major real estate developer in New York, will be named senior adviser to the president.

The rumored post has focused attention on Mr. Kushner’s myriad potential conflicts of interest, including a Chinese development deal that’s in the works. Then there’s the issue of whether a son-in-law in the West Wing violates antinepotism laws.

But the Trump team will muscle through — as it usually does.

Scum rises.



A stadium’s worth

Jan 9th, 2017 10:02 am | By

The Times is just pointing and laughing now.

Donald J. Trump, after an intelligence report concluded that Russia tried to help him get elected, is going after … Meryl Streep.

■ The president-elect takes credit for a $1 billion Fiat-Chrysler investment in the U.S.

■ Mr. Trump might want to save some ammunition. He has a big week ahead of him.

They share those tweets, including the one that calls Streep “a Hillary flunky who lost big,” and annotate with:

For the record, Mrs. Clinton did not lose big. She won the popular vote by nearly three million votes and lost the presidency by losing Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by about the number of people who cheered the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Ouch.



It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth

Jan 9th, 2017 9:30 am | By

There was a Hollywood prize-giving event yesterday. Meryl Streep gave a short talk there. This is part of what she said:

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

Here’s TrumpOnTwitter:

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Where to begin. Over-rated? The claim is ludicrous. She’s a genius actor.

But even more absurd is the idea that we need to “know him” before we can criticize or mock or “attack” him. He will be the president in eleven days. The person who holds that office is and must be wide-open to criticism, period, end of story. We don’t need to know him personally to do that. And the sad truth is that he makes himself very knowable, especially by pitching all these ridiculous fits on Twitter. We do know him, and that’s why we despise him.

And then there’s the lie about his mockery of the disabled reporter. He says he didn’t mock him. Really?

So the Times called him up to ask about his reaction to Streep.

President-elect Donald J. Trump dismissed Meryl Streep as “a Hillary lover” early Monday morning after the actress, in a speech at the Golden Globes award ceremony, denounced him as a bully who disrespected and humiliated others.

Mr. Trump, in a brief telephone interview, said he had not seen Ms. Streep’s remarks or other parts of the Globes ceremony, which were broadcast on NBC, but he added that he was “not surprised” that he had come under attack from “liberal movie people.”

Not just liberal, Donnie. Many conservatives hate you too. If I were a conservative I might hate you even more (except I’m not sure that’s possible), because of the disgrace.

Mr. Trump, as he has done many times before, grew heated in the interview as he flatly denied that he had intended to make fun of the Times reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski.

“I was never mocking anyone,” Mr. Trump said. “I was calling into question a reporter who had gotten nervous because he had changed his story,” arguing that the reporter had been trying to back away from an article he wrote in September 2001 about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and elsewhere that month.

“People keep saying I intended to mock the reporter’s disability, as if Meryl Streep and others could read my mind, and I did no such thing,” he said in the interview.

We can read your mind, because it’s so shallow and because you keep blurting it out in public. You’re an open book.

Mr. Trump said that, Ms. Streep and her allies aside, he was confident that celebrities and others would turn out in strong numbers for his inauguration.

“We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Mr. Trump said. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”

Sure. Sure you will.

Image result for obama inauguration

I’m sure it will look just like that.



Very special

Jan 8th, 2017 9:26 am | By

TwitterTrumpToday:

Jane loves Trump. That’s all that matters.

Ohgodohgodohgod

“Britain is very special!” What are you, six??

Also, it’s not “I look very much forward” – that’s not the idiom.

The biggest and most brazen liar ever to be elected president has the gall to call the media dishonest.

Have a nice day.



He worries more about his ego than anything else

Jan 7th, 2017 4:57 pm | By

The Times did a stinging editorial on Trump’s egomaniacal disdain for the intelligence professionals the other day.

What plausible reason could Donald Trump have for trying so hard to discredit America’s intelligence agencies and their finding that Russia interfered in the presidential election? Maybe he just can’t stand anyone thinking he didn’t, or couldn’t, win the presidency on his own.

Regardless of his motives, the nation’s top intelligence officials were having none of his nonsense on Thursday.

But what a grotesque situation this is – a giant baby pitching fits at professional intelligence-gatherers, who have to pay attention because he’s the next president.

With his refusal to accept regular intelligence briefings on threats facing this country and his persistent denigration of the intelligence community, Mr. Trump has shown time and again that he worries more about his ego than anything else. He is effectively working to delegitimize institutions whose jobs involve reporting on risks, threats and facts that a president needs to keep the nation safe.

Because his ego is more important than the welfare of 320 million people.

Mr. Trump and his spokesmen have continued to deny there was any evidence of Russian involvement, and on Wednesday, Mr. Trump proved he could still shock people by embracing Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who has been long reviled by Republicans as an anarchist lawbreaker.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Assange’s insistence that the “Russians did not give him the info” with the leaked emails. This was after Mr. Trump had mocked the intelligence community about a classified briefing he is due to receive on Friday…

If he ever decides to govern responsibly, Mr. Trump has made his job much more difficult. Having worked so hard to convince the American people that the intelligence community cannot be trusted, what will he tell the country when agents inform him of a clear and present danger?

Oh well, there’s no chance he’s ever going to decide to govern responsibly (and he wouldn’t know how if he did so decide), so the problem won’t arise.

Whew?



Cracking down

Jan 7th, 2017 2:23 pm | By

I hear via a grapevine that there’s a crackdown on freethinkers in Pakistan. I don’t have any shareable sources at present, but the grapevine says things are looking dangerous. It appears that Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a known critic of the establishment, was picked up by the agencies two days ago. Two others recently arrested are Salman Haider and Aasim Saeed. Their friends would like attention to be paid.



Ethics review shmethics review

Jan 7th, 2017 11:04 am | By

Sinister news – the federal agency that reviews the backgrounds of Cabinet nominees says it’s overwhelmed by the workload. That’s not surprising: usually the Cabinet nominees are relatively “normal” – in the sense of not being loaded down with conflicts of interest or bad history or both.

In a letter to Democratic senators dated Saturday, the head of the Office of Government Ethics also warned that Republicans are trying to take the unprecedented step of holding hearings for Cabinet picks before they have completed requisite paperwork to ensure there are no ethical, financial or criminal concerns.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., the ethics director, said it is “of great concern to me” that several of Trump’s nominees have not completed an ethics review before hearings are scheduled to begin next week.

Beginning as he means to go on, no doubt – just steamroll all concerns about flagrant conflicts of interest and barge ahead regardless.

Plans for at least seven Trump nominees to sit for hearings on Capitol Hill in the coming days have “created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews,” Shaub wrote. “More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.”

Shaub added: “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”

Drain the swamp much?

The letter by Shaub was sent Saturday in response to queries by Senate Democrats. His concerns could undermine Republican hopes of swiftly holding hearings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — around the same time that Trump is also expected to outline ways he will separate himself from his vast business holdings while serving as president.

The letter adds fuel to Democratic concerns that the incoming administration as well as congressional Republicans are attempting to rush the confirmation of Trump’s top picks.

The ethics office’s concern “makes crystal-clear that the transition team’s collusion with Senate Republicans to jam through these Cabinet nominees before they’ve been thoroughly vetted is unprecedented,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in response to the letter.

Yes but Trump called Schumer a “clown” on Twitter a couple of days ago, so we can just ignore anything he says.

Prepare to see the waters of the swamp close over our heads.



The concepts of democracy and human rights are not in Trump’s lexicon

Jan 7th, 2017 10:49 am | By

David Remnick at the New Yorker on Russia’s excellent adventure. He says the Duma cheered and applauded when Trump won.

In the days to come, there were more declarations of acid satisfaction among the Russian élite. Dmitri Kiselyov, the host of “News of the Week,” a popular current-affairs show on state-controlled television, gloated over Trump’s victory and Barack Obama’s inability to prevent it. Obama, he said, was a “eunuch.” Trump was an “alpha male”—and one who showed mercy to his vanquished rival. “Trump could have put the blonde in prison, as he’d threatened in the televised debates,” Kiselyov said on his show. “On the other hand, it’s nothing new. Trump has left blond women satisfied all his life.” Kiselyov further praised Trump because the concepts of democracy and human rights “are not in his lexicon.” In India, Turkey, Europe, and now the United States, he declared, “the liberal idea is in ruins.”

The authoritarian idea is in the ascendant. Yay yay yay, what a triumph for humanity.

Putin’s gloating was less Trump-like, but it was gloating all the same.

All of this is all the more alarming to recall now, in the light of the latest news: according to U.S. intelligence reports, Putin “ordered an influence campaign” to undermine Clinton and work with “a clear preference” to enhance Trump’s prospects. A classified version of this intelligence has now been delivered to both the President and the President-elect. Briefed in New York on Friday by the heads of the C.I.A., F.B.I., and N.S.A., Trump, who earlier in the day called the focus on Russian hacking “a political witch hunt,” finally allowed, if obliquely, that the Russians—and not the Chinese, not “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs four hundred pounds”—might have hacked the e-mail accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. A declassified report concluded that Putin ordered a campaign of covert operations, from defamatory “fake news” articles about Clinton to the hack itself. Even as Trump seemed to shift his view of the source of the D.N.C. hack, he did not concede that the operation had helped his campaign. The declassified report, however, said that the C.I.A., F.B.I., and N.S.A. had uniformly “high confidence” that Putin ordered the operation in order to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

Saying that Trump “did not concede that the operation had helped his campaign” understates it. He said emphatically that the report said it absolutely had not.

Remnick agrees to the obvious: the Russian dirty ops were not necessarily the only reason Trump won.

And yet how is it possible, if these intelligence reports are true, to count the 2016 Presidential election as unsullied? We are two weeks away from Trump’s Inauguration, and American intelligence agencies, flawed as they are, have declared, publicly and clearly, that they have convincing evidence that Russia, at its President’s direction, interfered in a Presidential election. Congress clearly has a job to do, but it is not alone. No matter how much it may offend Trump’s ego or his sense of self-possession, it will be his responsibility, his duty as President, to order the agencies at his command to dig even deeper, to provide as full a reckoning as possible. Will he resist Congress on this issue? Is he capable of questioning, in a sense, his own election? If he decides to refuse this duty, to just “move on,” as he likes to say, one will have to ask why.

I don’t see much need to put it in the future or conditional tense. We already have to ask why. He’s energetically dismissing the truth about the Russian interference while being the worst human and president-elect he can possibly be. There is zero reason to think he’s suddenly going to grow up on January 20.

Trump’s argument throughout the campaign, the reason for his compliments for Putin, he has said, is related to his stated desire to ease tensions between Russia and the United States and avoid the ultimate disaster, a nuclear confrontation. But what concerns many seasoned American analysts, politicians, and diplomats is that Trump is deluding himself about Putin’s intentions and refuses to see the nature of Russia’s nationalist, autocratic regime clearly. Trump has spoken critically of NATO and in support of European nationalist initiatives like Brexit to such a degree that, according to one Obama Administration official, “our allies are absolutely terrified and completely bewildered.”

Same here.



Donnie wants to work with Russia to fix the WORLD

Jan 7th, 2017 10:01 am | By

Sometimes we have to start with TrumpOnTwitter to make sense of the news. So, ok.

A couple I skipped yesterday:

That’s a trivial but still telling item – telling because it betrays that he wants us to know that editors come to him now, even big name editors like Anna Wintour. He wants us to be impressed. He’s that needy.

Rachel Maddow pointed out last night how absurd that is – the report was all over the news and it’s just routine for leaks like that to happen. NBC is not a special offender. But NBC…well…it’s not Fox, put it that way.

Also Trump looks ridiculous asking Congress to investigate trivial offenses against his Presidential Self. He looks even more ridiculous telling us he’s doing so via Twitter.

Then came his sober assessment of the Russian hacking.

No, that’s another lie. Russia did also hack the RNC, but it didn’t share what it found with Wikileaks, because Putin wanted Trump to win.

Why? Partly to get revenge on Clinton for dissing him, but also to get a stupid easily-manipulated patsy in the office.

No; another lie. It did not state that. It stated that it did not investigate that question, not that “here was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results.”

Study that one for awhile. Let it sink in. Ponder it.

He’s saying that Russian tampering with the US election is no big deal and wouldn’t even be discussed if the Democrats weren’t red-faced about losing.

He thinks Russia respects him.



Guest post: Religion permeates the polity

Jan 7th, 2017 9:20 am | By

Originally a comment by John Wasson on They’re making the law.

Religion permeates the polity: religion and the military; the unnerving “long conversation with a CIA official”; Prime Ministers Harper’s and Tony Blair’s statements about “God’s judgement” and “holy intervention” in political decisions; George W Bush’s declaration that Gog and Magog are at work in the mid-east; references to the Crusades …

Christian fascism is impervious to reason.

Of course this is not just in North America and Europe and not just Christianity: look at Thailand, India, Israel …

Religious belief is belief against (James P Carse, The Religious Case Against Belief).



The ratings machine

Jan 6th, 2017 4:50 pm | By

Today in off-the-charts ridiculous in Trump on Twitter:

Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got “swamped” (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary

Actual president in two weeks.