The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning. This is the second time in two months that a Navy destroyer based at the 7th Fleet’s home port of Yokosuka, Japan, has been involved in a collision. Seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a tanker south of Japan in June."

New York Times: "Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91."

New York Times: "... a team led by Paul G. Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, announced that it had found unmistakable wreckage of the Indianapolis [-- a U.S. Navy cruiser sunk by the Japanese during World War II --] 18,000 feet deep in the Philippine Sea, rekindling memories of the Navy’s worst disaster at sea."

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/mlb/miami-marlins/article104073926.html#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America."

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody."

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings."

Click on the picture to see larger image.... AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress."

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco."

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers."

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends."

Constant Comments

Thursday
Jul272017

Employment Opportunity

Posted by Akhilleus


JOB LISTING
: Federal Government Posting: Attorney General of the United States. Apply White House.

REQUIREMENTS: Do what you're told. Step on minorities. Degrade women. Excoriate LGBTQ community. Find legal (or not) ways to screw people who won't vote for Republicans. Attack voting rights. Prosecute leakers. Vilify the media. Do what you're told. Cover president's ass at all times. Forget recusals, no matter what. Never investigate president. Ever. Take any and all legal bullets meant for White House. Never utter the word "Russian" except when ordering a drink. Never admit anything to Democrats in congress. Do what you're told.

EXPERIENCE: None required (see Secretary of Energy, State, Education, Housing and Urban Development, EPA, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, etc.)

QUALIFICATIONS: Knowledge of law or the Constitution not needed. Primary qualification is unquestioning obedience and mindless loyalty to the Leader. He will provide any and all legal justifications needed to fulfill job requirements. Trust him. He knows all the best laws.

Additional: Pay no attention to the way the current AG is being treated. It's all fake news. If you qualify, you won't have to worry about being publicly humiliated, thrown under multiple buses, called names, lied about, or have your judgement and mental capacity challenged. That's a promise.

Salary: TBD--based on loyalty (with "small" kickback to president for re-election campaign fund and assorted "philanthropic" organizations, Donald J. Trump Foundation, eg.)

Perks: Dwell in the presence of greatness. Inside tips on hair coloring and the best self-tanning products.

Tuesday
May302017

The Machinations of the "War Room" Disinformation Campaign

This video with Joy Reid is a perfect example of Bannon's Putinesque disinformation campaign that was so hyped upon Trump's return from dancing with autocrats and sowing distrust with our allies. Trump's "War Room" to push back against the Russian probe was widely reported four days ago. Since then, we're seeing signs of its awakening. It offers a perfect, real-time study in the Art of Deception by some of the slyest artisans in the business.

The disinformation pipeline is clear: Dig up dirt in the corners of the internet, spread the filth among the bottom feeders, then use its rising "popularity" as proof it deserves attention by the MSM. Here, it's the Wall Street Journal's columnist and Trump propagandist Kimberely Strassel who tries to smokebomb viewers' thoughts re: Kushner by hyping an obscure Breitbart (Bannon) article claiming alleged false equivalencies from the Obama administration (thanks, Obama!).

Here, Joy Reid and the other guests push back on the disinformation and try to set the conversation back on track. But the Trumpers and GOP loyalists settling in to Fox & Friends are getting 5 Kimberely Strassels all chumming the waters with actual fake news. Since the administration can't be honest and claim the damaging stories are factually false, their master strategy is blatantly lie, obfuscate, and cry "Fake News" until the news cycle (hopefully) moves on....

...Trumpist Twitter Bots Awaken. Travis Gettys of RawStory: "A two-year-old report on 'Obama's secret outreach to Russia' hit the top spot on the conservative Drudge Report after hundreds of bot accounts flooded Twitter with links to the article.... The original Bloomberg report largely disappeared from Twitter after interest died down a few weeks after its publication, but it began recirculating over the weekend. Two posts appeared to have been shared directly from the Bloomberg site early Saturday morning and Sunday evening, but then a deluge of posts using the same phrasing and tags burst forth starting at 12:48 a.m. and continuing every two or three minutes for the next 11 hours. Many of those accounts, at least in the early hours of the social media push, display the distinctive traits of bots -- with highly unbalanced posting-to-followers ratios, inscrutable account names, few public interactions and almost no original content phrasing." --safari (Also linked yesterday)...

...The initial revealings of the War Room's "Alternative Facts" campaign bring to mind the Steve. M. post linked earlier by Marie about Steve Bannon's supposed "messaging savviness": "Bannon might not actually change what most Americans are talking about. What he's skilled at doing is changing what right-wingers are talking about. And maybe that's worth it to Trump, because he seems to believe he can save his presidency as long as 80+ percent of Republicans still support him without question."...

...Trump's administration and the GOP in general have moved so far right (just look at all the legislation they're proposing) that they seem incapable of messaging to the center or 'independents', let alone the scary lefty communists. Democrats don't even merit conversation (again, look at Congress). So the question remains: Can this obfuscation campaign endure for years on end, only messaging to the Loyalists who hold the keys to their reelection? Bannon, et al. are one trick ponies. Seems like we're going to find out. --safari

Thursday
Feb022017

Realty Chex Contributors Issue Reality Chex

In yesterday's Comments thread, two Reality Chex contributors linked to stories that follow up on earlier items. While each of these story threads may be minor when compared to Trump's daily megablunders, each points, in its own way, to larger issues surrounding this president & the government he is supposed to run.

Brain Fog. The first, er, hair-raiser comes from PD Pepe, who links Ann Brenoff's post in the Huffington Post: "In a snicker-worthy disclosure by ... Donald Trump’s longtime personal physician, readers of The New York Times learned Thursday that the leader of the free world takes a small daily dose of the drug finasteride ―  otherwise known as Propecia ― which is used to treat male-pattern baldness.... With the revelation that Trump is taking finasteride, many rushed to warn of possible side effects ― including mental confusion and permanent sexual dysfunction.... 'The FDA-approved pill has been called into question, with emerging research and a slew of lawsuits suggesting that finasteride may be more dangerous than previously believed,' reported Men’s Journal. 'Users report that its side effects — inability to orgasm, painful erections, chronic depression, insomnia, brain fog, and suicidal thoughts — can last long after patients stop taking the pill.' Since 2011, at least 1,245 lawsuits have been filed against Propecia’s manufacturer, Merck, alleging that the company didn’t sufficiently warn users of sexual and cognitive side effects. Patients and physicians reportedly call the effects 'Post-Finasteride Syndrome' because, they say, symptoms often persist after discontinuing the drug. The National Institutes of Health has added PFS to its rare-diseases database."

The drug also may explain Dr. Bornstein's perpetually odd behavior: "Bornstein, 69, said he takes finasteride himself and credited it with helping maintain his own shoulder-length hair.”

Oddly, the New York Times article, written by a medical doctor -- Lawrence Altman -- did not mention the side effects of finasteride, something I wondered about when I read the story. Instead, Altman used his allotted space to discuss Dr. Bornstein's unhappy experiences at the Trump inauguration. (He has a back problem! he was in pain! He couldn't find anywhere to sit!) Altman's report is a little like a doctor giving you a presription but not telling you it could ruin your life forever. Altman did the public a service by revealing the medication Trump takes, but he left it to others to tell the public that the medication may help explain the POTUS's incompetence & bizarre behavior.

The side effects of finasteride may give us a clue as to why Trump has found it necessary to brag about his sexual prowess & physical endowment. His boasts are defense mechanisms he uses to cover for his inability to get it up. Of course, Trump's possible sexual impotence and his efforts to hide it are of much less importance than is the enhancing effect the drug may have on his personality disorders. If Bornstein were not a quack, he would recognize the drug's possible contributions to the deterioration of his client's mental & physical health.

Meanwhile, Aaron Blake of the New York Times makes a strong case that Trump & Bornstein purposely hid Trump's use of finasteride. "In the initial letter, Bornstein only disclosed that Trump takes '81 mg of aspirin daily and a low dose of a statin.' There was no mention of any other medications, though the letter didn't necessarily say these were the only drugs he was taking. But in [Trump's] interview with [Dr,] Oz, Oz seemed to be led to believe that the statin was the 'only' drug Trump was taking, and Trump didn't correct him.... Trump was clearly given two opportunities to disclose these drugs — three, if you include his first medical letter — and he declined in each case."

Why the secrecy? Charitably, one might argue that it was because Trump was sensitive about his hair loss. More likely, though, Trump has known for a long time the effects of the drug (something any person who was experiencing erectile dysfunction or other symptoms would notice), and he didn't want journalists, doctors, pundits & the public discussing his physical & mental disorders. Let's see if there are any real White House journalists who will pepper press secretary Sean Spicer with questions about Trump's usage of finasteride. We all know Trump is nuts. We have a right to know if he's too nuts to govern, what with finasteride apparently having irreversible effects. We have a right to know if the POTUS has a rare disease which limits his ability to govern.


THEN THERE WAS THIS. A few days ago, Haley S. linked to a TPM post that suggested a convoy of military Humvees was driving on a public highway & the lead vehicle was flying a Trump flag. A local activist organization had obtained video that captured the convoy on the road, the huge flag waving in the breeze. A number of local media inquired into the matter because military regulations prohibit the display of political paraphernalia. However, for two days, the Pentagon punted or outright misled reporters:

Andrew Wolfson of the Louisville Courier-Journal, January 30: "A Defense Department spokesman, Maj. Jamie Davis, who examined images of the four-truck procession for the Courier-Journal, said he doesn't think it belonged to any service branch — and that the vehicles may have been military surplus."

Contributor Patrick saw the video & noted "that the convoy vehicles have no license plates, just the stencil-paint numbers at the top of the cab rear." If the Humvees were privately-owned, obviously they would have had to be licensed.

Never mind that. Morgan Eads of the Lexington Herald-Leader (Jan. 31) got the definitive denial from the Pentagon: "A convoy of Humvees seen flying a Trump campaign flag in Louisville on Sunday were not active military vehicles, according to the Department of Defense. The vehicles were probably used by the military at one time, but are no longer being operated by current U.S. military members, Department of Defense spokesman Maj. Jamie Davis said Tuesday.... 'These are not U.S. military vehicles,' Davis said. 'They are Humvees, but there’s no unit designator on there. In the Army, if we go out we have our vehicles identified.'... The 'Trump' flag would also not be flown on an active military vehicle, Davis said. Some military vehicles will have an American flag or a unit flag, but never a flag endorsing an individual."

Okay then.... Well, not okay. Andrew Wolfson (February 1): "The Navy is investigating whether the mysterious convoy of military vehicles seen flying a Donald Trump flag Sunday in Louisville were, in fact, its trucks. Lt. Mary Kate Walsh, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said Tuesday that it would be 'strange for us to have Humvees' but that the Navy Facilities Engineering Command, which controls the motor pool, is investigating."

In yesterday's Comments, Haley flagged an update. Andrew Wolfson, in USA Today (February 2): "The military convoy seen flying a Trump flag in Louisville on Sunday belonged to a Navy Special Warfare unit, and the flag was 'unauthorized,' a Navy spokeswoman said. Lt. Jacqui Maxwell of the Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia Beach, Va., said a command inquiry is underway.... A Department of Defense spokesman said Monday he thought the trucks were military surplus and being driven by private citizens. But experts on military transport said they were equipped with expensive technology, including ballistic glass, that wouldn’t be seen on a decommissioned vehicles, and that they probably belonged to the Navy SEALs or other special operations forces. The trucks also bore numbers that match those used by the Navy. Some motorists said they were alarmed by military units flying the flag of a national leader rather than the country, which they said is reminiscent of a fascist government or banana republic."

To add insult to injury, whatever military personnel mounted the Trump flag on the Navy vehicle, they are part of the SEALs unit: the very unit Trump betrayed by sending them into a raid in Yemen without adequate inteligence and preparation. One auxiliary troop was killed in the raid, as were some Yemini civilians, including a child or children.

Jamie Davis is not a Trump appointee. He's been the Pentagon spokesman since at least last May. Yet if Eads got his quotation right, Davis was perfectly willing to mislead the public: "These are not U.S. military vehicles," he said, according to Eads. That's a denial, not a hedge, a maybe, or an I-don't-know. If Wolfson had taken Davis at his word, that would have been the end of the story. But he pressed on. Wolfson is a reporter among thousands whom Steve Bannon said should "keep [his] mouth shut and just listen for a while.... The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country."

On the surface, this seems to be a minor issue: some Trumpbot jamokes violating military regulation in service of a president who showed careless disregard for the safety of their unit. But the larger picture is one of a system that is willing (1) to lie to the public for its own convenience, and (2) to shut down a free press determined to get at truths large & small.

So thanks to PD & Haley for their part in passing along these truths. If the New York Times won't do it fully, if the Pentagon won't do it, and if the Trump administration certainly won't do it, the rest of us have to keep doing our part, no matter how small it may seem in the short run. In the long run, it is up to us to reweave the tatters of our unraveling democracy.


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article129774089.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article129774089.html#storylink=cpy
Saturday
Jan282017

The Commentariat -- January 29, 2017

Trump Picks Priebus as Humble Pie Eater. Michael Shear of the New York Times: "A top White House official appeared to reverse a key part of President Trump's immigration order on Sunday, saying that people from the affected countries who hold green cards will not be prevented from returning to the United States. But the official, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, also said that border agents had 'discretionary authority' to detain and question suspicious travelers from certain countries. That statement seemed to add to the uncertainty over how the executive order will be interpreted and enforced in the days ahead.... He defended Mr. Trump's order, saying it had been carried out smoothly and was protecting Americans from terrorist threats. On Saturday, a day after the order was issued, airports were marked by scenes of confusion and protest as officials tried to interpret the order, including how to handle green card holders. Around the globe on Saturday, legal residents of the United States who hold valid green cards and approved visas were blocked from boarding planes overseas or detained for hours in American airports." CW: Whatever. P.S. It's all going great. ...

... Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Republicans on Sunday showed signs of growing restiveness over President Trump's refugee policy, in its substance and the confusion over the way it was carried out, including one prominent senator [-- John McCain --] who said it served as propaganda for the Islamic State.... Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, likewise conceded problems with the order's rollout and called for a re-evaluation of the White House's unilateral effort.... A handful of Republicans, including Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, had offered similarly cautious criticism of the measure on Saturday." -- CW ...

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Democrats vowed Sunday to introduce legislation to reverse President Trump's orders implementing a travel ban from certain countries, with at least one senator saying the moves should lead to slower consideration of the president's top Cabinet nominees. 'These orders go against what America has always been about. The orders make us less humanitarian, less safe, less American,' Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during his regularly scheduled news Sunday morning conference in New York as he announced that his colleagues were working on new legislation." -- CW ...

... Blake Hounshell of Politico: "Now, what was meant as a bold assertion of presidential prerogative and a down payment on his promise to 'eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth' has dealt President Trump his first political defeat, and energized his opponents after a week of demoralizing developments." -- CW ...

... Washington Post Editors: "THE EXECUTIVE ORDER that President Trump signed on Friday calling a temporary halt to travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim nations -- and indefinitely blocking refugees from the world's largest humanitarian crisis, in Syria -- is an affront to values upon which the nation was founded and that have made it a beacon of hope around the world. George Washington declared in 1783 that the 'bosom of America is open' not only to the 'opulent and respectable stranger' but also 'the oppressed and persecuted.' Now Mr. Trump has slammed the door on the oppressed and persecuted in a fit of irrational xenophobia." -- CW

Governed by Morons. Madison Kircher of New York: "Last night, Sean Spicerretweeted a video from satirical news publication the Onion. 'You nailed it,' Spicer tweeted, along with the video which listed 'Five Things to Know About Sean Spicer.' Except it seems like maybe Spicer -- who remember, as White House press secretary, is partially in the business of watching videos and reading tweets -- didn't watch the video or read the Onion's tweet as carefully as he could have ... since they declare Spicer's 'role in the Trump administration will be to provide the American public with robust and clearly articulated misinformation.'" --safari

*****

It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. We're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years. -- Donald Trump, to reporters, Saturday

Michael Shear & Alan Feuer of the New York Times: "A federal judge blocked part of President Trump's executive order on immigration on Saturday evening, ordering that refugees and others trapped at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump's actions.... Judge Ann M. Donnelly of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, ruled just before 9 p.m. that implementing Mr. Trump's order by sending the travelers home could cause them 'irreparable harm.'" CW: Trump has been in office barely a week and already the courts are acting against him. That must be a record. ...

... Judge Donnelly's order is here. ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "And only minutes after the judge's ruling in New York City, another came in Virginia when U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order to block the removal of any green card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport for seven days. Brinkema's action also ordered that lawyers have access to those held there because of the president's ban.... As the day progressed, administration officials confirmed that the sweeping order also targeted U.S. legal residents from the named countries -- green-card holders -- who happened to be abroad when it was signed. Also subject to being barred entry into the United States are dual nationals, or people born in one of the seven countries who hold passports even from U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom. The virtually unprecedented measures triggered harsh reactions from not only Democrats and others who typically advocate for immigrants but also key sectors of the U.S. business community. Leading technology companies recalled scores of overseas employees and sharply criticized the president. Legal experts forecast a wave of litigation over the order, calling it unconstitutional. Canada announced it would accept asylum applications from U.S. green-card holders." -- CW ...

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "In San Francisco, the massive crowd at the airport chanted 'let the lawyers in.' At JFK in New York, lawyers hunched on the floor over their laptops, filing emergency habeas motions. In Philadelphia and Chicago and at Washington Dulles, the crowds asked for nothing more than this: Let the lawyers speak to their clients.... [Judge Leonie] Brinkema further ruled that those detained under the Trump ban were to be granted access to lawyers. (As of this writing, those held at Dulles Airport still have not been allowed access to lawyers.) This was the first time the judicial branch has been allowed to opine on the fact that Donald Trump is President of the United States. It may also signal the possibility that if real, grown up lawyers aren’t vetting White House orders, they should probably think about doing that." -- CW ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging world-wide reactions to Trump's travel ban. -- CW ...

To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada. -- Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, in a tweet ...

... Nicholas Kulish & Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "President Trump's executive order closing the nation's borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night. Refugees who were airborne on flights on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports. The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqis held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry." CW: Even if you're meaner than a junkyard dog -- but not as mean as Donald Trump -- your heart has to ache for these people, who already have been through so much. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Marcelo Rochabrun of ProPublica: "Since the order's travel ban applies to all 'aliens' -- a term that encompasses anyone who isn't an American citizen -- it could bar those with current visas or even green cards from returning to the U.S. from trips abroad, said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama. 'It's extraordinarily cruel,' he said." -- CW ...

... Brooke Seipel of the Hill: "Those who hold dual nationality in the seven countries banned from entering the U.S. by President Trump will also be barred from entering the country, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The Journal said it got an advance look at a statement by the State Department that the refugee ban extends beyond just citizens of Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but also to people who may originally come from those countries but have a passport from another nation or dual nationality." -- CW ...

They're just signed tweets. -- Bill Maher, on Trump's executive orders

... Chaos Happens. Evan Perez, et al., of CNN: "Trump's unilateral moves ... encapsulate the pitfalls of an administration largely operated by officials with scant federal experience.... The result was widespread confusion across the country.... The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas, and largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance, according to numerous officials who spoke to CNN on Saturday. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said. Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries ... did not apply to people with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders. The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President's inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon." -- CW ...

...and Bannon is one step closer to fulfilling his dream. Ronald Radosh of the Daily Beast: 'I'm a Leninist, Bannon proudly proclaimed,... Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment." -- LT

... No, No. It's All Good. Do Not Be Distracted by Reality. Jake Tapper of CNN: "Amid the chaos and confusion of President Donald Trump's new executive order on immigration and refugees, sources tell CNN that White House policy director Stephen Miller spoke with officials of the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security and others to tell them that the President is deeply committed to the executive order and the public is firmly behind it -- urging them not to get distracted by what he described as hysterical voices on TV." -- CW ...

... Mark Stern of Slate: "There are serious constitutional problems with Trump's executive order as a whole, including its preference for one particular religion (Christianity) and its denigration of another (Islam). The courts will debate these questions over the coming months. But for [refugee detainees], there is a more immediate concern: a complete and total lack of due process. As a chilling American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed Saturday demonstrates, Trump's executive order has led to the flagrantly unconstitutional detention of perfectly legal immigrants whose lone crime is their national origin and religion. It is not just morally wrong. It is illegal." -- CW ...

... Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "The reaction on Saturday to President Trump's ban on refugees entering the United States ... was swift, certain -- and sharply divided. The order drew sharp and widespread condemnation Saturday from Democrats, religious groups, business leaders, academics and others, who called it inhumane, discriminatory and akin to taking a 'wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty.' Thousands of professors, including several Nobel laureates, signed a statement calling it a 'major step towards implementing the stringent racial and religious profiling promised on the campaign trail.' Protesters gathered at airports to demand the release of people who were being held on arrival while immigration officials tried to determine whether they were barred by the executive order. And around the world, allies and critics alike voiced concern about what the new American policy could mean." -- CW ...

... Brook Seipel: "New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) sent state officials to protect the massive groups of demonstrators gathering outside John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday evening in protest of President Trump's immigration ban. 'I have directed the Port Authority, the Department of State, and my Counsel's Office to jointly explore all legal options to assist anyone detained at New York airports, and ensure that their rights are protected,' Cuomo said in a statement. Massive crowds have gathered at New York's JFK airport in protest of Trump's executive order calling for a temporary immigration ban that led to the detainment of several refugees at the airport":

This is the humanity, this is the soul of America. This is what pushed me to move, leave my country and come here. -- Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi refugee who worked for the U.S. military for 10 years, after his release from Trump detention, speaking of the protesters at JFK ...

... Eli Rosenberg of the New York Times on how the JFK protest grew. -- CW ...

... James West of Mother Jones: "First Lady Melania Trump's own immigration attorney, who has also represented the Trump Organization in numerous immigration cases, condemned President Donald Trump's so-called 'Muslim ban' on Saturday afternoon, during an interview on MSNBC. 'How can we turn our backs on these individuals" New York lawyer Michael Wildes said, adding that he thought the legal disputes over the executive order would eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court.... Wildes has previously represented Trump Models, President Trump's New York modeling agency, and secured visas for models appearing in Trump's Miss Universe pageants." Thanks to Ophelia M. for the link. -- CW ...

... Matt Zeller in a Washington Post op-ed: "With his latest executive order and immigration ban, President Trump has shut the door on thousands of foreign interpreters, our wartime allies, who have served alongside our military since 2001. As a combat veteran who has served in the U.S. Army, this action deeply disappoints and angers me.... Our allied military translators are quite possibly the most vetted individuals aligned with our military.... These men and women have served our country honorably -- in some cases, for more than a decade. A decade of combat service to America, fighting alongside Americans, wearing the same uniforms, bleeding their blood for our country.... This ban leaves thousands of our wartime allies to fend for themselves against the very enemies we asked them to fight.... Friday's order means the enemy wins, and we have turned our backs on our own ideals." -- CW ...

... Dylan Matthews of Vox on cruelty as public policy. "For all his false insistence that he opposed the war in Iraq, [Donald Trump] sees no American duty to help its victims pick up the pieces over a decade later. Gerald Ford -- hardly a great man, but a decent one -- looked at a region America had destroyed and offered mercy. Donald Trump looks upon another region we destroyed and offers nothing. Nothing, that is, but cruelty." -- CW ...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.... First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Congress shall make no law showing respect for religions except the established Christian religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of Christians to impose their beliefs on all citizens of these United States.... -- GOP translation

... Trumps' Muslim Ban Exposes GOP "Leaders." Ryu Spaeth of the New Republic: "The ban is extremely instructive, dispelling a lot of the cant that clouds American politics. We now know, for example, that Vice President Mike Pence does not actually consider such a ban unconstitutional or even offensive, which is how he described it in 2015.... We also know that Speaker Paul Ryan didn't really mean it when he said, 'This is not who we are as a party or a country.' Apparently it is.... That the U.S. will now prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim ones also belies the idea that the United States, and the Republican Party in particular, cares about religious freedom." -- CW ...

Trump Doesn't Know WTF He's Doing. I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world.... I urge the administration to halt enforcement of this order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be reinstated. -- Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)

It's unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry. -- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Az.) ...

... Kelsey Snell, et al., of the Washington Post: "Facing intense criticism and dramatic news coverage of chaos and protests at airports worldwide, several congressional Republicans on Saturday questioned President Trump's order to halt admission to the United States by refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were not among them. Ryan was among the first lawmakers on Friday to back Trump's order, and his office reiterated his support on Saturday.... Ryan's defense and McConnell's silence, some critics said, amounted to a moral failing that made them complicit in a humanitarian crisis." -- CW ...

... Worse Than Cowards. Steve M.: "For the most part, Republicans are saying nothing, even though a number of them -- Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence -- denounced the idea when Trump first raised it in late 2015.... They just don't care about the people affected by the ban. All they care about is what Republicans have focused on for years: power for themselves and tax and regulatory cuts for their donors. Nothing else matters.... That's not cowardice. It's amorality, which is worse." -- CW ...

...and a Party Without Conscience. Joy-Ann Reid at The Daily Beast: "As far as Ryan and Jason Chaffetz, Trump's self-appointed congressional masseuse -- the preening Marco Rubio and the cynical Mitch McConnell are concerned, the country can burn, so long as they get their tax cuts for the super-rich, their oil company friends can rip apart the American heartland unimpeded by environmental concerns, and their insurance company pals get to wriggle out of covering people with pre-existing conditions.... Far from acting as a check or balance on the White House, the Party Men and Women of the Grimacing Old Party are content to fiddle while the amateur administration descends into chaos." -- LT

... CW: C'mon, Barack. You said you'd weigh in on the important stuff. ...

... BUT ISIS Likes It! Mike Giglio & Munzer al-Awad of BuzzFeed: "... many of the fighters living in ISIS territory believe the Trump administration will be good for them, the current and former members said. One reason they cited for this optimism was Trump's divisiveness within America, which they believed would weaken the country.... ISIS also sees Trump as an ideal enemy for propaganda purposes, the former and current members of the group said, believing that his campaign's heated rhetoric about Muslims will help the extremist group with recruitment by reinforcing its central narrative that America and the West are at war with Islam.... ISIS believes it can exploit the controversy surrounding Trump's remarks and proposals on Muslims." -- CW ...

... It's Just a Bigot Thing. Scott Shane of the New York Times: "... the president's directive is unlikely to significantly reduce the terrorist threat in the United States, which has been a minuscule part of the overall toll of violence since 2001.... Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, no one has been killed in the United States in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the seven countries targeted in the order's 120-day visa ban, according to Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina.... Many experts believe the order's unintended consequences will make the threat worse.... There was a random quality to the list of countries: It excluded Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the founders of Al Qaeda and many other jihadist groups have originated. Also excluded are Pakistan and Afghanistan, where persistent extremism and decades of war have produced militants who have occasionally reached the United States. Notably, perhaps, the list avoided Muslim countries where Mr. Trump has major business ventures. Nor did the list include the European countries where disenfranchised Muslim communities have become hotbeds of militancy...." -- CW ...

... Caleb Melby, et al., of Bloomberg: "President Trump['s] ... proposed list doesn't include Muslim-majority countries where his Trump Organization has done business or pursued potential deals. Properties include golf courses in the United Arab Emirates and two luxury towers operating in Turkey." CW: Just a coincidence, people. Nothing to see here. ...

... ** Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "The seven nations targeted for new visitation restrictions by President Trump on Friday all have something in common: They are places he does not appear to have any business interests.... Without divesting from his company, as bipartisan ethics ­experts had advised, Trump is now facing questions about whether he designed the new rules with his own business at least partly in mind.... Earlier in the week, Norm Eisen..., a former ethics adviser to Barack Obama, tweeted: 'WARNING: Mr. Pres. your Muslim ban excludes countries where you have business interests. That is a ­CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION. See u in court.'"; -- CW

David Smith & Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "A day of whirlwind diplomacy for Donald Trump on Saturday, including calls to five world leaders including Russian president Vladimir Putin, was overshadowed by a global backlash against his ban on refugees. The 'congratulatory call' with Putin lasted an hour, the White House said in a short statement, and ranged from discussion of 'mutual cooperation' to defeat the terror group Isis to negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war.... In the Kremlin's more detailed account, Trump and Putin discussed 'partnership' on a wide range of international issues, including wars in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's nuclear program, the Korean peninsula and the simmering war in Ukraine, where Russia has supported separatist rebels since 2014. Cooperation in Ukraine would represent a stark turn in US policy, which has supported Kiev and imposed punitive sanctions against prominent Russians for the Kremlin's role in the crisis." See also Patrick's comment in today's thread on the White House's handling of phone-call readouts. -- CW ...

... Trump Picks Bannon as Shadow President. Philip Rucker & David Filipov of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Saturday ordered the Pentagon to devise a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and restructured the National Security Council to include his controversial top political adviser [Steve Bannon!] as he forged a partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their first official phone call.... The changes affirm the ascent of Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart, a conservative website that is popular with white nationalists, who has emerged as Trump's political consigliere and the keeper of the president's populist flame. Bannon has already been playing a major role in directing Trump's foreign policy, administration officials say, and joined the president in the Oval Office on Saturday for his calls with Putin and several other world leaders." -- CW ...

... What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Keith Pickering of Daily Kos: "In the latest move designed to make sure he only gets advice from his political sycophants, while avoiding all interaction with anyone who might be nonpartisan, Hair Twittler today removed the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. Added as a regular member was the Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist, who is, of course neo-Nazi and avowed Leninist Steve Bannon.... Also added as a regular member: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. The chairmanof course is wild-eyed conspiracy theorist Mike Flynn.... All decisions on national security will now be made by political operatives, while career professionals in the intelligence and military communities have been deliberately excluded from the process. Every single member of the NSC PC is now political; there are no career professionals left." -- CW

"Love and Tolerance Throughout the World." Alan Yujas: "The White House has defended its omission of Jews and antisemitism from a statement remembering the Holocaust by saying that Donald Trump's administration 'took into account all of those who suffered'.... 'Together,' [Trump said in the statement], 'we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world'.... Later on Friday, Trump signed an order suspending the entire US refugee program for 120 days and the Syrian refugee program indefinitely." -- CW ...

... John Podhoretz, a frequent & strident conservative critic of Donald Trump, points out that Trump's omission of the Jews in his statement on the Holocaust was deliberate, and it has a history. Thanks to Haley S. for the link.

Stocking the Swamp. Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "President Donald Trump's much-hyped ban on administration officials becoming lobbyists removed some of President Barack Obama's ethics rules instead of strengthening them. Trump's ethics pledge, issued as an executive order on Saturday, includes a five-year 'lobbying ban' that falls short of its name, preventing officials from lobbying the agency they worked in for five years after they leave, but allowing them to lobby other parts of the government. The order also lets lobbyists join the administration as long as they don't work on anything they specifically lobbied on for two years. Obama's order from 2009, which Trump revoked, blocked people who were registered lobbyists in the preceding year from taking administration jobs.... Trump's transition initially considered a tougher ethics pledge prepared by [presidential ethics lawyers Norm] Eisen and [Richard] Painter but abandoned the proposal after Vice President Mike Pence took over the transition team from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie." ...

     ... CW: So mike pence is even sleazier than Chris Christie. ...

... CW BTW: If you're pining for a Trump impeachment & conviction (as I am), look at the great men (no women, of course) in line to take over:

  • Vice President (Mike Pence)
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives (Paul Ryan)
  • President pro tempore of the Senate (Orrin Hatch)
  • Secretary of State (Rex ExxonMobil Tillerson*)
  • Secretary of the Treasury (Steve Robber-Baron Mnuchin*)
  • Secretary of Defense (James "Mad Dog" Mattis)

       * Not confirmed. ...

@realCrazyOldMan. Rebecca Morin of Politico: "President Donald Trump on Saturday railed against the New York Times and the Washington Post on Twitter, continuing his longstanding assault on media outlets.... 'The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!' Trump tweeted at 8:04 a.m. 'Thr coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost gas been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its.....' he wrote in another tweet containing several spelling errors a few minutes later. '...dwindling subscribers and readers.They got me wrong right from the beginning and still have not changed course, and never will. DISHONEST'"... It is unclear as to what prompted Trump's criticism...." -- CW ...

... CW: Herein lies one of the many problems of having a delusional president: reality doesn't affect him in the slightest. So Facts: innocent people left in airport limbo, press criticism, "massive" protests, the governor of New York basically defying the POTUS, back-to-back court losses. Assessment: That's fake news. "It's all working out very nicely."

** The Trump Show. Derek Thompson of the Atlantic in a New York Times op-ed: "After winning with the instincts of a media impresario, [Donald Trump] will lead using the strategy of a media empire.... Now in the White House, President Trump is poised to enact his agenda through extraordinary means — by broadcasting an alternative reality in which he seeks a monopoly on his own narrative and facts. It is 20th-century strongman meets 21st Century Fox.... The White House wants to establish a political media monopoly, which seeks dominion over its own set of facts, by demonizing critical news sources (even those within the government) and promoting sycophantic alternatives.... If he succeeds, the Trump Show will be worse than reality television. It will not be reality at all." -- CW

Trump's "Voter Fraud Expert" Is Just a Fraud. Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "The conservative activist cited by Donald Trump as an authority on voter fraud owes the US government more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes, was once accused of lying about his qualifications, and has faced several allegations of ethical impropriety. Gregg Phillips's unfounded claim that three million people vote illegally in the US was championed in a tweet by Trump on Friday morning, as the new administration prepares to launch what he says will be a major inquiry into the integrity of American elections." Swain relates some of Phillips' stunts. CW: Trump's collection of con-artist buddies just jeeps growing. ...

... John Nichols of the Nation: "Wisconsin's gerrymandering was so extreme that, two months ago, a federal-court panel struck down Wisconsin legislative maps as unconstitutional. [Gov. Scott] Walker's Republican state attorney general appealed immediately, setting up a fight that will eventually be resolved by a US Supreme Court that legal experts say may finally be prepared to rule on behalf of competitive elections.... On Friday [a three-judge panel of a federal appelate court] ... enjoined Wisconsin officials from using existing maps in 'all future elections.' At the same time, the judges ordered Walker and the state legislature to draw new legislative-district maps by November 1, 2017." --safari

David Barstow of the New York Times: "As a businessman, strong> Donald J. Trump was a serial fabulist whose biggest-best boasts about everything he touched routinely crumbled under the slightest scrutiny. As a candidate, Mr. Trump was a magical realist who made fantastical claims punctuated by his favorite verbal tic: 'Believe me.' Yet even jaded connoisseurs of Oval Office dissembling were astonished over the last week by the torrent of bogus claims that gushed from President Trump during his first days in office. 'We've never seen anything this bizarre in our lifetimes, where up is down and down is up and everything is in question and nothing is real,' said Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity...." -- CW

Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "A Maryland judge ruled Friday that first lady Melania Trump's libel suit against a political blogger can go forward, rejecting the blogger's argument that her action was brought in bad faith as an effort to curb his right to free speech. The ruling paves the way for Trump to pursue defamation claims against Webster Griffin Tarpley in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Tarpley, who publishes Tarpley.net from his townhouse in Gaithersburg, wrote last summer that Trump was 'reportedly obsessed by fear' over possible revelations that she allegedly once worked as a high-end escort, according to court records. Soon afterward, he retracted the story and apologized for any duress the story may have caused." CW: Freedom of the press does not including making mistakes & correcting them. I don't give a damn what Melania Trump did in her youth, but I hope it comes out that the allegations are true. (Also linked yesterday.)

Richard Just, in a Washington Post op-ed, argues that the Trump presidency begs for a revival of Phil Ochs' haunting protest songs:


Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "Roughly 4,000 troops helped clean up [Enewetak Atoll in the mid-Pacific] between 1977 and 1980.... Most did not even wear shirts, let alone respirators. Hundreds say they are now plagued by health problems, including brittle bones, cancer and birth defects in their children. Many are already dead. Others are too sick to work. The military says there is no connection between these illnesses and the cleanup. Radiation exposure during the work fell well below recommended thresholds, it says, and safety precautions were top notch. So the government refuses to pay for the veterans' medical care. Congress long ago recognized that troops were harmed by radiation on Enewetak during the original atomic tests, which occurred in the 1950s, and should be cared for and compensated. Still, it has failed to do the same for the men who cleaned up the toxic debris 20 years later. The disconnect continues a longstanding pattern in which the government has shrugged off responsibility for its nuclear mistakes." -- CW

Richard Perez-Pena: The accuser of Emmett Till, "... Carolyn Bryant Donham, spoke to Timothy B. Tyson, a Duke University professor -- possibly the only interview she has given to a historian or journalist since shortly after the episode -- who has written a book, 'The Blood of Emmett Till,' to be published next week. In it, he wrote that she said of her long-ago allegations that Emmett grabbed her and was menacing and sexually crude toward her, 'that part is not true.' The revelations were first reported on Friday by Vanity Fair." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Wilcox of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate: "Flames engulfed the Victoria Islamic Center, destroying the building in the predawn hours Saturday as congregation members watched from the curb, overcome with emotion." CW: While there's no evidence of arson yet reported, my suspicion is that the fire's proximity in time to Trump's Muslim ban is not coincidental. I'm not suggesting that Trump urged his bigot base to burn down mosques, but a president's Islamophobia has consequences beyond his own cruel actions.