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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Optics of Politics

Image from Charlotte Observer

Over the weekend, Tom Perez was elected as the new chairman of the DNC. Mr. Perez's first order of business was to nominate Rep. Keith Ellison as the deputy chair. This means, for the first time in the history of the party, Democrats have a Latino chairman and a Muslim-American deputy chair. Take a moment to bask in the fabulousness. Stop basking, because as usual, some folks just can't be happy about anything.

In the hours following this historic moment, quite a few on the far left joined in chorus with quite a few on the far right, including Donald Trump, stating the DNC election was RIGGED. How Tom Perez is a DC insider, how Keith Ellison lost because he's a Sanders supporter. How once again, the Democrats have proved they don't care about the little guy (you know, like Trump does), and Herbal Teabaggers are going to create their own party because the DNC is awful.

Take my hand. No, the other one. Join me on a short journey back in time to early 2007, when a young man named Barack Obama was running for president. You may recall that, at one or two times during his adult life, Barack Obama was in the same room as Bill Ayers, "noted domestic terrorist." In the same room. They did not hang out, they did not text late into the night about Lenin and Marx and Che, they were in the same room a couple of times. But that was enough for conservatives, and they grabbed that infinitesimal bone with all their fangs, and we were off to the races.

Sarah Palin screeched then-Senator Obama was "palling around with terrorists." He wasn't, but optics were in play. A lot of conservatives were shocked I tell you, shocked, that a black man was not only running for president, he could win. And they were desperate to make sure that didn't happen, so they turned a non-issue into a huge issue because optics. No matter the truth, people will believe what you tell them to believe if you repeat the lie enough. What something looks like is much more important than what it actually is.

That's why the attacks on Rev. Jeremiah Wright worked so well. Rev. Wright didn't do anything wrong but he was a huge threat to the right wing. A black man, and not just a black man but a black pastor, who spoke to his predominantly black congregation about how awful it is being black in America. And yes, Rev. Wright did say "God damn America," who cares, he's a black man in America; he can say whatever he wants.

But the conservative propaganda machine was in full effect, and the optics worked. Barack Obama distanced himself from Rev. Wright because he wanted to be president, and the white right wing was doing whatever they could to keep him out of the Oval Office.

Why are we having a chat about optics? Well, Keith Ellison is why. Rep. Ellison is a good politician, he supports the middle class and working poor, women, the LGBTQ community, he believes in the science of climate change, and by all accounts, is bright and honest. Rep. Ellison also has a past, something that would give conservatives an opportunity to create optics like nothing we've ever seen before.

When Keith Ellison was in college, he wrote and spoke out in defense of Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a raging anti-Semite, who, among other things, believes the Bush administration carried out the attacks on 9/11. Ellison was also, if not a member, involved with the Nation of Islam. In 2006, Ellison publicly renounced his association with the group, after the articles he wrote defending Farrakhan were brought to light by Republican blogs.

If being in the same room with Bill Ayers, and belonging to a church where the black pastor tells hard truths about being black in America, were enough to change the optics for President Obama, imagine what the right wing could do with Keith Ellison. Defending Louis Farrakhan, involved with the Nation of Islam, only coming forward to denounce all of that because Republican blogs found his old writings.

Note the word "only." There's your optics. Suddenly, doubt begins to fester. Did he come forward because those patriotic Republicans forced him to with their truth? What if he's still a secret anti-Semite, as opposed to Trump, who is a public anti-Semite? OH MY GOD, he's a black Muslim who used to admire Louis Farrakhan, and Michelle Bachmann said he was a terrorist, and the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the DNC, heads exploding, Sean Hannity's chin covered in his own spittle, Pam Geller dancing a jig in Time Square, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Rep. Keith Ellison is not an anti-Semite. It doesn't matter, though, just as the truth about President Obama and Rev. Wright, and a birth certificate, and emails, and Benghazi, didn't matter. Politics is about optics, perception is reality, and whoever has the best Ministry of Propaganda wins. Right now, conservatives have an entire company-News Corps-dedicated to spreading misinformation, fake news, and flat-out lies, to tens of millions of registered voters. Conservatives have a second, less-known media outlet, one many of them have never heard of, but they owe RT a big smooch on the lips and a muffin basket. Pootie hates Hillary, and Pootie runs RT, thus, RT hates Hillary Clinton.

The optics of politics is simple: Find something, anything, the person you're against did. It doesn't matter how long ago that something happened, or that they apologized for the something, or distanced themselves from the something. All that matters is using optics to change perception, and change reality. Yes, reality. How many of you believe President Obama and Bill Ayers were once the best of friends? If just one of you does, you fell for an alternate reality created by optics.

Conservatives are better at this than we are, for a very simple reason: they don't mind lying. They really don't. If it gets them to the finish line, if it gets their candidate elected, if it gets them the House, they will lie until their little lips fall right off. Sadly, liberals love shiny things, and we often get distracted by the optics, and the lies, and lose sight of the goal. Which is why the far left and the far right sound so very similar to one another. The far right is manipulating the far left, and the far left is falling for it.

We can have a conversation about privileged progressives (what I call the Susan Sarandon Wing), we can have a chat about Bernie Sanders' love of the defense industry, we can have an argument about pragmatism. None of it matters until everyone understands optics, because progressives are being inundated with propaganda, and thanks to charmers like Lee Camp and Ed Schultz, a lot of those progressives are going to stay home and pout next November. And that means we will never take back Congress.

Optics. Perception. Alternate reality. Alternative facts. Misinformation. Tactics used for decades in politics, but never used quite so effectively in the United States until now.

It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.

― Joseph Goebbels

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The difference between conservatives and liberals

Image from Truth Feed

Conservatives: We're boycotting Nordstrom because they made a business decision and stopped selling Ivanka Trump's stuff!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Starbucks because they won't put White Jesus™ on their cups!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Hallmark because their Valentine's Day ad had a gay couple!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Kellogs because they pulled their ads from Breitbart!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Target because they let transgender people use the right bathroom!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Capital One because Alec Baldwin is their spokesperson!

Conservatives: We're boycotting Disney because they let gay people take over the park!

Conservatives: Climate change is a liberal lie because God controls everything, and science is evil!

Conservatives: We're boycotting any company that doesn't say "Merry Christmas!"

Conservatives: All Lives Matter except for refugees, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, children after they're born, the poor, anyone who isn't white, anyone who isn't a conservative Christian, anyone other than us who exercises their First Amendment rights. Mostly it's Our Lives Matter. Because everyone else is scary.


Liberals: We're boycotting companies that allow guns in their stores.

Liberals: We're boycotting states that have made it next-to-impossible for women to exercise their right to choose.

Liberals: We're boycotting businesses that discriminate.

Liberals: We're organizing daily calls to representatives in order to let them know we refuse to support repealing the ACA, pro-discrimination laws, laws that harm the LGBTQ community, laws that harm people of color, and laws that harm women.

Liberals: We're marching today to stand up for our refugee and immigrant neighbors.

Liberals: Let's go talk to folks who might be scared, or who are being disenfranchised.

Liberals: Black Lives Matter does not mean Only. It means Black Lives Matter.

Liberals: Christmas is primarily made up of Pagan rituals, but you can still say Merry Christmas. Or Happy Holidays. Happy Festivus. Merry Solstice. Whatever.

Liberals: Women are people.

Liberals: We believe in the science of climate change, we believe in evolution, and we believe you an worship whatever you want, as long as you don't bring into our public schools.

Remind me again: Who's the snowflake?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

University of Chicago professor compares Jesus to Milo

Image from Phasmatis's Haunt

The University of Chicago's Divinity School employs a woman named Rachel Fulton Brown. Dr. Brown has a PhD from Columbia, she fences, and she has fallen in love with Milo Yiannopoulos. Her own words:

That week in September, I spent three days back-to-back watching the videos of the talks that Milo had given the previous spring.

And fell in love.

Dr. Brown has a personal page on the University of Chicago's website, which includes a link to her blog, Fencing Bear at Prayer. She is an educated woman, who has been given the privilege of teaching. She is in love with an alt-right, misogynistic, Islamophobic, hateful, self-loathing gay man. And she wrote a little something on her blog, comparing Milo to Jesus.

As you may know, Milo has had a pretty crappy few days. After video surfaced of him seeming to mock child abuse victims, and become the poster child for NAMBLA, CPAC dropped him, his book deal feel through, and he was forced to resign from the fake news site Breitbart. It's nice to finally know conservatives have a line in the sand. Milo held a press conference, where he took very little responsibility for what he said (some, but not much), and instead, promoted his own victimization by...get ready...liberals.

Yes, this entire thing was our fault. The videos were edited, his words taken out of context, he was "joking," "gallows humor," He spoke briefly about his own alleged abuse, at age 13, by a priest. Something he joked about during in the video, using his alleged molestation as an explanation of why he is so proficient at fellatio.

Dr. Brown posted a blog on February 21, entitled "Jesus, Master Troll." According to Dr. Brown, by embracing the very people Milo attacks, demeans, lies about, doxes, and insults, Jesus was just like Milo. So, I went searching for articles, speeches, interviews, anything, where Milo Yiannopoulos said we must care for those less fortunate, we must welcome refugees, we must clothe the naked, feed the hungry, that in order for a rich man to get into Heaven, he must sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, then follow the message of Jesus.

Shockingly, I did not find any of that coming out of Milo's mouth or keyboard. What I did find was hate. A lot of hate. Hate for women, hate for refugees, hate for the transgender community, hate for his fellow gay men. Insults to rape victims and survivors. I've been targeted by Milo's fans, and I can tell you-they are nothing like Jesus. Jesus loved the unlovable, he championed the disenfranchised. He fought against power and wealth and corruption. Jesus was the opposite of Milo Yiannopoulos.

Perhaps Dr. Brown doesn't understand what a troll is. Perhaps, in her mind, a troll is someone who loves the least of us. According to Dr. Jennifer Golbeck, an internet troll is:

...someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response. 

Dr. Golbeck also believes internet trolls are "narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists." You can read more here, including the results of a very interesting study that found links internet trolling with the Dark Tetrad. Jesus was not a narcissist, or a psychopath, and he certainly was not a sadist. Milo Yiannopoulos meets or exceeds at least the criteria for narcissism and sadism.

Which begs the question (and pardon my language): What the everloving fuck is this woman talking about? How can anyone who teaches in a divinity school compare Jesus to a sadistic, self-absorbed internet troll, who attacks the very people Jesus told us to love? Is this just one more example of the glaring hypocrisy embedded in conservative Christianity?

I would have enjoyed asking Dr. Brown these questions, but she's on academic leave for the rest of the year. Maybe she's creating a new religion, based on the teachings of Milo Yiannopoulos. She can call it "Trolling For Christ: How To Justify Hating The People Jesus Told Us To Love."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

First Bowling Green, now Sweden. When will these mythical terror attacks stop?

This past weekend, Donald Trump went to Florida. Again. He held a campaign rally...wait a minute. Didn't he win? Isn't he (this is so hard to type) the president? Why is he holding rallies for himself? You know who held rallies for himself? Hitler, that's who. Dictators throughout history have shown they love a good rally. Shore up that base, get the juices flowing, throw out some red meat (Jews! Muslims!), and lie. You have to lie.

Which brings us back to Trump in Florida. During a speech to his cult members, he spoke about a terror attack in Sweden. That didn't happen. What did happen is Fox News had a segment on Tucker Carlson's show about a documentarian who went over to Sweden to chat with racists about how awful refugees are. How violent they are. About that church. You know, the church being vandalized by homeless drug addicts who are Swedish, not Muslim. The facts are indisputable, but thanks to some asshole in Macedonia, the fright wing believes Muslims are desecrating a church in Sweden.

Trump, who has stated he loves Fox, watches Fox, they're grrreat!, was obviously watching Tucker Carlson's interview with the filmmaker. And since every single time any country other than the U.S. is mentioned on Fox, it means Muslims have shot up a church...nope that was a white dude here...planned to blow up a, that was another white dude here...shot up a Holocaust museum...dammit, that was another white dude, also here. Why aren't we waging war against paranoid, angry, racist, white dudes?

Anyway, Trump took the snippet he saw of Carlson's interview, strutted out on stage, and announced there had been a terror attack in Sweden. This came as a great surprise to everyone in Sweden, who immediately began trolling Trump on Twitter. Including the Swedish prime minister, who wants to know what Trump "is smoking." Who doesn't?

But Trump's cult doesn't care. No seriously, they don't. All they, and Trump heard, was a filmmaker claim, with no data whatsoever to back it up, that the rash of rapes at music festivals was all because of refugees. And Trump was off to the races.

See, this is a problem. It would seem, at least in this instance, the president of the United States is getting his intel not from the intelligence community, but from Fox. The same network that promoted the birther platform, that employs Sean Hannity, quite possibly the most offensive and dishonest person on cable news, and was run by a sexist, misogynistic pig who sexually harassed dozens of women. The same network with a PolitiFact record longer than my arm. Or leg. Or a football field.

Trump believes actual reporting is fake, and fake news is actual reporting. He believes he won by the largest electoral count since Reagan. He believes he can get Mexico to pay for a $21 billion wall. He believes things that aren't true. And he takes those lies, wraps them up in propaganda and nationalism, and tosses them out to his ardent fans. Who believe them. No matter what.

If you try to show a Trump fan there was no terror attack in Sweden over the weekend, they will most likely send you to a fake news site, like Mad World News, which, FYI, was primarily responsible for propagating that lie about the Swedish church. It goes 'round and 'round: Fake news, posted by some 20-year-old Macedonian who makes more in a day than a lot of us make in a month, gets shared on social media because Facebook completely and utterly sucks at combatting fake news, your Aunt Peg, who is a fervent Trumpette, then emails a link to said fake news to her four hundred friends, they share it on social media, and Fox picks it up, at which point, it ends up whirling around inside Trump's head. And he tells thousands of idiots who believe everything he says.

How, exactly, is this making America great again? He should change that. Maybe "Make Newspeak Great Again."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Donald Trump's press conference: The Day After

Image from SFGate

It's 7:14 AM, the day after Donald Trump's incredibly bizarre, unhinged, and truly weird press conference. The house smells of coffee, the sun is slowly making its way into the sky, confused birds are chirping about the unseasonably warm temperatures, and the world is waking up to delayed responses to what can only be called a total breakdown by a United States president on national television. Unless they're Donald Trump himself, or a conservative Trump supporter, furiously typing on the internet, or Rush Limbaugh.

Let's start with Trump. SCROTUS Tweeted "Thank you for all of the nice statements on the Press Conference yesterday. Rush Limbaugh said one of greatest ever. Fake media not happy!" Yes, that pesky fake media: CNN, NPR, Reuter's, AP, BBC, NBC, CBS, ABC. All fake. But hey, as long as the radio host who took a sex-tourism vacation with stolen Viagra, and called a female law student a slut, thinks you did a great job, it's all good.

And Rush did like the press conference. He loved it. Adored it. The headline over at Rush's website is "Trump Triumphs Over Press." Here is Rush's opening statement:

In very measured tones, the president is firing howitzers at the media and the Washington establishment. I’ll characterize this later.

Howitzers. How manly. Rush also called SCROTUS's cabinet the "best cabinet ever," and said "They've unleashed a tiger here is what they've done." Rush mentioned Trump's "humility."

Moving on. Conservative Trump supporters are over the moon about whatever the hell happened yesterday. A great example of this exploded underneath a video Sean Hannity posted to his Facebook page, in which he asked "What did you think of President Donald Trump's press conference earlier today?" Hannity put the video up about nine hours ago, and as of right now, it has ninety-six thousand views, and a staggering five thousand plus comments. The law of averages dictates that not all five thousand of those comments are glowing adulations, but no one in this house has time to paw through that many word salads. Instead, I clicked a few comments, and read through some of the replies. Here we go.

The first comment is from Laureen Ong:

Lureen Ong 🍀 loved it. Truthful honest and funny. Best thing on tv I. A long time. I couldn't stomach the constant lies for 8 years. This was refreshing.

It was refreshing! Like a gentle spring rain, except the drops of water are laced with listeria.

And some replies to Laureen's glowing review:

Adiya Beem It was absolutely the best thing on TV 📺. I adore President Trump

Lynne LeFevre The more liberals hate President Trump, the more I love him!!

Chris Garner The media never asked Obama tough questions except what his favorite ice cream flavor is

Pat Vaughn Sorry but his supporters aren't out breaking stuff burning cop cars and protesting

Juliet Gelyana If President Trump's supporters were crazy they would be rioting in the streets destroying public and private properties, burning American flags, cussing people and putting the private parts in their heads JUST LIKE LIBERALS. GET YIUR FACTS STRAIGHT . .

Can someone tell Pat and Juliet about the Jewish reporter who pointed out the rise in anti-Semitic attacks since Trump's election? About the vandalism to Mosques? The physical attacks on Muslims? THIS GUY?

Laureen's comment has over one thousand two hundred likes. Her closest competition, with a smidge over one thousand, comes from Denise Mcd:

Denise Mcd I loved every second of it!!! This is a new presidency & a new day. Donald Trump is calling out the liars & the haters & it's a breath of fresh air! God Bless President Trump!!!!

Replies to Denise included one poor guy named Jason who pointed out how often Trump lied, only to be greeted with:

Sue Carlson Snow flakes live in fairy land.


Martin J Lawler Snowflake pusses

Not to be deterred, Jason pressed on with proof of Trump's lies:

Jason Husk Joan Walton Renken- how bout when Trump said Rafael Cruz knew Lee Harvey Oswald. Lie. And when he quoted national enquirer about Cruz's many affairs. Lie. And muslims dancing in the street after 9/11. Lie. Obama/birth certificate. Lie. Trump won by largest margins since Reagan. Lies.

He's incapable of telling the truth

To which, Kayma Cross replied:

Kayma R Cross Jason Husk He's 'incapable' of telling the truth you say? Well that's a lie. So your the liar so why would we believe anything coming out of your mouth? You are obviously incapable of telling the truth. THERE, welcome to Trumps world of dealing with fake liberal news! HOWS IT FEEL Jay Jay when your exaggerated opinions make you a liar?

In order to understand Trump, you have to understand his ardent fans. No matter what you say, if it doesn't somehow praise Trump, it's a lie. It's fake news. Something they have learned from him. Jason is absolutely correct when he writes Trump said Rafael Cruz was involved in the assassination of JFK. And the birth certificate. And the electoral votes. But Trump's cult-like following will never see the truth. Because Trump doesn't.

Yesterday was awful. Today, we regroup. And next year, we rally the vote, we organize, and we do everything in our power to take back the House. If we don't, if liberals stay home in droves the way they usually do during a midterm election, we're in deep trouble. Our only hope is to put representatives in office who care about all Americans, and have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump.

Stop trying to reason with the hardcore Trumpsters. You'll never win those arguments. Start looking at your state reps, see how they feel about SCROTUS. What's their NRA rating? How do they look on environmental issues, Trump's Muslim ban, mass deportation, the attacks on the First Amendment? Are your representatives on your side, or Trump's side?

Because no politician can be pro-Trump and pro-United States. The press conference proved that.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Donald Trump just had a total breakdown on national television

Image from Slate

Today, February 16, 2017, will go down in history as the day we, and the world, witnessed a United States president have a total breakdown on national television. Donald Trump held his first solo press conference, and it was, for lack of a better word, insane. Not insane in the way that Trump could get better with therapy and medication; insane in the way Steve-O (of "Jackass" fame) stapled his scrotum to his own thigh. Except in the case of Trump's press conference, we were the ones in pain.

Some of the lowlights include:

*Asking an African American reporter if the Congressional Black Caucus are "friends" of hers.

*Lied about not receiving a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus.

*Saying the leaks are real, but all news covering the leaks is fake.

*Refusing to acknowledge that he lies every time he says his electoral win was the largest in history.

*Reminding us that he "gets good ratings."

*Becoming angry at a Jewish reporter, then accusing his "opponents" of anti-Semitism by vandalizing synagogues in his name.

He was argumentative, snide, dishonest, misleading, and hostile. If you are one of the millions of Americans without a job, or poor, or struggling, if you are a member of the military, you have to be wondering why Trump didn't talk about you. He is, after all, the president of the entire country, and his first press conference would have been a great time to lay out plans to help create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, allay fears about mass deportation, clarify his Muslim ban, speak about the economy, anything, absolutely anything other than what he did speak about: himself.

But Trump did not focus on the needs of the country. Instead, he focused on what he always focuses on-he didn't win bigly enough. All negative news is fake. There is so much hate leveled at him by the media, other than Fox and Friends, who are great. Trump hates CNN, refusing to watch it, but when he watches it, he hates what he sees, because it's all fake news. But he refuses to watch it.

Is your head spinning yet? Jaw clenched? Fingernails pressing into the palm of your hand? Eyebrows wandering past your hairline and perhaps down your back? Welcome to Trump World, an amusement park situated in the fourth level of hell. There is rending of clothing, gnashing of teeth, wailing, screaming, people banging their heads against walls, and that's just today.

This man has access to our nuclear weapons. He speaks to foreign leaders. Trump in less than one day may have completely upended the possibility for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. He responded to North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile towards Japan, a serious situation that requires utmost focus and security, in the middle of the Mar-A-Lago dining room, reading classified intel with the flashlight of a cell phone.

The president of the United States has no idea what he's doing. He's surrounded himself with sycophants, he's gone after the intelligence community, and he lies about everything. Of course, the intelligence community is fighting back. The first salvo is a large dump of documents by the FBI relating to Trump being sued in the 1970's for refusing to rent to black people.

When will Trump start being president? When will he stop treating the Constitution like a piece of rubbish on the side of the road? When will Jason Chaffetz stop investigating Sid the Science Kid, and investigate the Russian hacks, the Flynn mess, and if Trump has stock in Russia's largest oil company, which would greatly influence his decision on sanctions?

What if Trump never starts? What if this is it, this mess of insecurity, grandiosity, a desperate need for accolades, the inability to entertain anyone else's ideas, and the belief that negative news about himself is always fake. What if the next four years are filled with the behavior we witnessed today? No new jobs, no fixed bridges or roads, no care for veterans, no help for students, no ACA and no replacement, no fighting for the marginalized and disenfranchised. Just whining about fake news, complaining that he didn't win the popular vote because people cheated, and $1 million a day to keep Melania Trump in New York.

What if what we see is exactly what we get? A thin-skinned president, so obsessed with his own ego, so unable to deal with the press, that he has a breakdown on national television.

What if this is the real Donald Trump?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fox Contributor Dennis Kucinich sides with Trump, says leaks are the news

Image from Independent Sentinel

Dennis Kucinich, former Democrat, former presidential candidate, and current Fox News contributor, appeared on the cable network Tuesday to decry the leaks coming out of the White House regarding Russia. The first question Maria Bartiromo asked Kucinich was about the fact that the DOJ had told the Trump administration Michael Flynn could be susceptible to blackmail by the Russians. Kucinich's response was very Trump-like: he responded by saying Flynn had admitted to "misleading the vice president," then seamlessly launched into an attack on Flynn's phone calls being "intercepted."

Here's the odd thing about that claim-Flynn is a veteran security officer, who had to know that a phone call between a general and a Russian official would be intercepted. Even if said general was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. The fact that Kucinich does not seem to know that is fine, except that he ran for president, and was a United States congressman. Hell, I know that, and I'm just a normal citizen sitting here in my pajamas. So why didn't Flynn? More to the point, why didn't Flynn care?

Kucinich continued, saying loudly "There's gold in them thar hills!", and accusing members of the intelligence community of trying to restart the Cold War. He used words like "military industrial intel" and called the intel community the "electronic version of Mad Magazine."

In 2013, Dennis Kucinich had a different view of leaks. After a screening of the documentary "Terms and Conditions May Apply," the film's director asked Kucinich what he thought should happen to Jake Clapper, who lied to Congress about NSA surveillance tactics. Kucinich replied:

Clapper should be held responsible, but he won't be, because that's the condition we're in right now...In a just world, Snowden, we'd be having ticker tape parades for him. But that's not what's going to happen. (source)

Kucinich went on to state it was time to "punch the NSA's ticket." Prior to that statement, he humbly bragged about his "lifetime" of experience in government. One would think a person with a lifetime of experience in government would understand that phone calls between an incoming national security advisor and a Russian official would be intercepted. Especially if that incoming national security advisor had a history of believing and sharing fake news stories and, in 2015, said he didn't know if the 2013 saran gas attack in Syria was a "false flag."

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with people who have ties to Russia. Paul Manafort. Roger Stone. Rex Tillerson. Michael Flynn. Trump has denied having any business dealings with Russia, but numerous journalists and reporters have discovered that is simply untrue. Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Slate, Toronto Life, the Washington Post, and many other reputable sources, have all reported on Trump's business dealings with Russia, and the relationships many of his closest advisors, and the new Secretary of State, have with the Russian government and Russian oligarchs.

According to Dennis Kucinich, none of that is important. It's not important that on the same day Michael Flynn resigned, Trump signed an Executive Order to revoke a provision of Dodd Frank. A provision that was added to cut down on corruption within resource companies. Resource companies like Exxon, the company Rex Tillerson ran until he became Secretary of State. During his 10-year-stint as CEO of Exxon, Tillerson visited Russia. In 2014 and 2015, Exxon paid a lobbying group over $193,000 to press "issues related to Russian sanctions impacting the energy sector," along with other matters. And Michael Flynn was chatting with Russian officials about the sanctions against Russia. Rex Tillerson was asked about his opposition to sanctions against Russia during his nomination hearing, and his answer was less than truthful.

Oh, and the same day Tillerson was confirmed, the House voted to kill that Dodd Frank provision.

But the problem is the leaks.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Trump learned about North Korea over iceberg wedges

Image of Mar-A-Lago from the New York Times

When you imagine a president receiving urgent news about North Korea firing a ballistic missile, you don't imagine said president taking that call in the middle of the salad course at a country club. But because we now have Donald Trump as president, who has no understanding whatsoever of his job, that is precisely what happened. And a nice man named Richard has the photos to prove it.

Holy moly! Wow! Center of the action! Cool! Or as CNN puts it:

The iceberg wedge salads, dripping with blue cheese dressing, had just been served on the terrace of Mar-a-Lago Saturday when the call to President Donald Trump came in: North Korea had launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, its first challenge to international rules since Trump was sworn in three weeks ago.

Iceberg wedges? For $200,000, one would expect a nice mixed green salad, with candied walnuts, or dried Montmorency cherries, and a champagne vinaigrette. But iceberg wedges? Dripping with cheese dressing?

Setting aside the questionable salad choice for a state dinner, the idea of a president dealing with a foreign nation launching a missile at our ally in public is terrifying. Seriously, what is this? Has no one dared explain to Trump that this is most certainly not how it's done? State dinners take place at the White House for this specific reason. Not at an overpriced country club, over the salad course, in front of people who have not been vetted, who could work for a foreign entity, one that perhaps does not have our best interests at heart?

Oh I know, Trump thinks his Mar-A-Lago members are the best, tremendous, winning, bigly, yuge. And none of them would ever, ever, post photos of what should have been a secured conversation in the White House. Unless you count Richard, who was so excited to see all of this happening around him, he just could not contain himself.

Perhaps we have set the bar too high for presidents over the past 200 years. Perhaps it's time for a president who doesn't understand how government works, who doesn't respect the three branches, who insults federal judges when those judges defend the Constitution, who wants to spend $21 billion on a wall that won't work, who is committing ethics violations on a daily basis, and who only ran for president because he is incapable of laughing at himself.

Donald Trump is part hubris, part sociopath, part narcissist, and part authoritarian. We should expect nothing less than a public security briefing about North Korea over iceberg wedges from a man who believes he is smarter than everyone else in the world. We should lower our standards, realizing the brave new world to which we are witness. A world where negative polls are "fake news," where the White House is treated like the Home Shopping Network, where the First Lady wants to monetize her new position, where a white nationalist has all the power, and where the president himself conducts top-security briefings over the salad course.