Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How truth died in America.

Image result for The american press image

Remember when Hillary's e-mail was a thing?

"Late on Monday we learned that President Trump has stubbornly resisted staff efforts to secure his smartphones, leaving his cameras and microphones vulnerable to bugging, and turning his lengthy evening gab sessions with friends and former aides into broadcasts for the world’s intelligence services.

It has been airbrushed out of popular lore, replaced with gauzy platitudes about populism, but the 2016 election turned to a comical degree on a fabricated consensus among Republicans and the political media that strict adherence to information security protocols was a central qualification for the presidency. Specifically, Republicans pretended to believe Hillary Clinton had committed a disqualifying and imprisonable crime by using a personal email server to do work when she was secretary of state, and reporters pretended to believe that these infosec concerns were offered up in good faith.

The notion that Republicans didn’t actually care about infosec practices, and that reporters knew they didn’t care, isn’t just bitter gloss on bygone reporting decisions. It is a fact reporters themselves have let on in their collective response to serial Trump-era infosec lapses. It is so taken for granted in the halls of power that Republicans don’t actually care about this issue, and never did, that nobody even bothers to ask them to square their hair-on-fire behavior in 2016 with their insouciance today. Two years ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan repeatedly and publicly requested that Clinton be stripped of her security clearance because of her email practices. On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Trump phone-breach story broke, he held a routine Capitol briefing for reporters and fielded zero questions about it.

Trump’s laziness has probably left the country’s secrets more vulnerable to capture by hostile powers than Clinton’s email server, which was more secure than Trump’s phone and contained none of the codeword intelligence Trump has nonchalantly shared with senior Russian officials, the authoritarian president of the Philippines, and others. To the extent that Trump—an inveterate crook and philanderer—keeps blackmail material on his phone, his insistence on using easily hacked equipment creates further risk to the national security.

Nevertheless, it is arguably reasonable of reporters to tuck this scandal under other, larger ones. Trump’s administration teems with corruption. He is at the center of a federal criminal investigation which looks more and more every day like an effort to ascertain whether he and his aides sold out the country’s foreign policy to a consortium of authoritarian foreign governments who offered to help him get elected. The fact that Trump is passively lax with national security when he fires up his smartphone pales in comparison to the fact that he actively trades away national security to autocrats.
But the fact that Republicans played the political press corps—and, worse, that the political press corps consciously allowed itself to be played—is a huge professional failing that should, but by all appearances won’t, be accounted for and corrected going forward.

Trump’s behavior is aberrant enough, and Republican indifference to it so stark, that many reporters now freely acknowledge it calls the sincerity of past conservative fixations (with Clinton’s email, or her health, or Bill Clinton’s tarmac encounter with Loretta Lynch, or Benghazi) into question.
There’s a broad (and correct) media consensus that Republicans feign outrage about alleged infractions, then proceed to do much worse when in power—that right-wing politics is built on a foundation of feigned outrage and bad faith. But there’s also a broad (and incorrect) consensus that this should not factor in to how journalists interpret and report on the parties.

If the standard journalists set for themselves is that anything Republicans claim to be outraged about must be treated as a live controversy, then journalists disclaim a major potential point of failure, and become conduits for propaganda. This insulates media organizations from accountability for their handling of the email server matter, but also guarantees that the patterns of the past years will repeat themselves. One month ago, a handful of conservatives pretended to be upset about a standup comedy routine at the White House correspondents dinner, which they pretended to consider indecorous. Everyone knew they were pretending because they had a wonderful time at the dinner and continued to hobnob with their supposed elite media antagonists at black-tie afterparties when the dinner ended. Everyone knew they were pretending because these self-professed keepers of decorum support Donald Trump. And yet rather than dismiss their complaints as obvious fabrications, the White House press corps publicly disassociated itself with the comedian Michelle Wolf, who was the correspondents association’s invited guest.

The Wolf incident was the talk of the chattering classes for several days, but for all the wrong reasons. It was only really important as a window into the future. It showed that when the balance of political power shifts again, the right will resume pretending to be outraged over nonsense as if the Trump presidency had never happened, and most reporters will proceed as if it’s all sincere. This standard of newsworthiness can be changed in theory, but only if our media institutions decide that bad faith politics should be treated as such, and not rewarded indefinitely at the expense of the truth."
[Source]

Lets be honest, the American press is a joke. And, thanks to them, we have a joke of  a president in the White House. 

*Pic from wearechange.org

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A chaotic power grab.

TWEET MEWatching what is happening to us in America, you can't help but think that we are getting closer to that civil war that every sane person has been dreading, and what people on the extreme end of each political side has been hoping for.

Knowing that he will never get  sixty five percent of the people in this country to support him,  Donald J. trump is hoping for a civil war, or a serous Constitutional crises. Anything to get his rabid and clueless supporters in a we against them Mexican standoff that can possibly keep him in office beyond the four years that he is inevitably going to be given. He wants more, and if he takes the republic down with him, then so be it.

The president has now declared war on his own FBI, and he  is demanding that they launch an investigation into the agency and the man charged with investigating him. It's madness, I know, but this is where we are now.

trump says that the man who occupies a permanent space in his head, Barack Obama, ordered spies on his campaign, and he wants to get to the bottom of it. The entire assertion is laughable, but no one is laughing. The republican partisans in Washington have gone along with him, and they will be given a special briefing and given access to information about the FBI surveillance of trump's joint campaign with the Russians. Incredibly, the democrats in Washington will be shut out of the very same meeting.

Anyway, Mr. trump is getting away with all this because the press that we rely on to put a check on his power grab, have been complicit and lazy. Throw in the fact that he has an entire network and a solid 35% of hardcore trumpbots in his corner, and you can see why I believe that something very ominous is on the horizon.

Speaking of something ominous, if you are Michael Cohen, you have to think that your business partner cutting a deal with the law enforcement authorities ( I see you Mr. Mueller) today is the worst thing possible for you.

Apparently he will be singing like Gladys Night in exchange for probation instead of a possible 20 plus years in the big house.

Expect an angry twitter storm from the White House in 5..4..3.. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Living in the new America.

Image result for police stop kansas facebook  imagesTonight my racism chase takes me to Kansas. (No wonder Dorothy left for Oz.)

Folks, I can't say this enough: Thank you lord for social media.

"A man driving through Winfield, Kan., went live on Facebook during a traffic stop after cops told him he was being pulled over for allegedly failing to signal a turn within 100 feet. But what should have been a citation or warning led to Rudy Samuel [above] being detained because of “vegetation” on his windshield.

The incident occurred last Sunday and when the cop told Samuel that he noticed the flora on the windshield, Samuel couldn’t believe what he was hearing, because it was just tree debris. The unidentified cop told Samuel that he’s going to test the “vegetation” and Samuel informed him that he doesn’t even smoke.

And that’s when things took a left turn.

The officer returns from his car—without testing the “vegetation”—and tells Samuel to get out. Samuel says he wants the officer to run the test first.

“I’ll test it here in a little bit, OK, I ain’t got to test it right now,” the officer replied. When Samuel asked the officer why does he have to get out, the video then shows the officer forcibly removing him.

Although Samuel is no longer holding the phone to capture the video, the cop can be heard saying that the car is going to be searched. Samuel states that he does not give them permission. You can also hear Samuel telling the officer he has a legal firearm in the middle console of his car, and then the video stops. Samuel said it was because the cop turned off the recording.

“Yea straight stereotyped me he grab[bed] my phone I told him he better get a warrant for it so he powered it off,” Samuel wrote on Facebook.

According to CT News, Winfield’s police Chief Brett Stone says that the incident is being investigated. Of course, no drugs were found, and Samuel was sent off with just a warning and his life." [Article with video] 

Some of these cops don't even pretend not to be racist anymore. I guess this is all a part of trying to  "make America great again." 

I mean even black folks trying to do good in the community by picking up trash are subject to being profiled and having the police being called on them.

I think we can all agree that it is time to stop the madness. Sadly, I suspect that we will have to live with this for at least the next three years.   

*Pic from Rudy Samuel's facebook.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

CAPTION SATURDAY.

Image result for giuliani images

I need a caption for this pic.

*Pic from dailykos.com 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Again!

Image result for thoughts and santa fe texas gun imagesIf only "thoughts and prayers" could stop bullets we would all be in a better place. Unfortunately, they can't.

We will be hearing a lot of that from republican politicians over the next few days. Why? Well we just had another mass shooting in one of our schools, and rather than try to find real solutions to the gun problem in this country, they will continue to take the NRA's money and stick their rather empty collective heads in the sand.

President trump read from a teleprompter about the shootings, and he read something that was obviously written for him by one of his aides for the occasion. The fact that this man can't just speak from his heart after such a tragedy says all you need to know about him. I guess in order to speak from your heart you have to have one. In fact, the only time he really goes off script and says what he really means is when he is spewing hate. 

But this too shall pass. After a month or so we will forget all about Santa Fe, Texas. Just like we did about Newtown, Parkland, and Columbine. The NRA, of course, will follow their old tried and true playbook: Keep a low profile, keep giving money to all the right people, and keep feeding the crazies on the right with rhetoric that the government is coming to take their guns away.

“To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High, we’re with you in this tragic hour and we’ll be with you forever,” Trump said. “My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others.”

“Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe,” the president continued. “May God heal the injured and may God comfort the wounded, and may God be with the victims and with the victims’ families.”

“Very sad day..... “Very, very sad.”

Your words ring hollow tonight. Just a couple of weeks ago you were in Dallas, Texas (the very state where this animal slaughtered his classmates today), and you were embracing the NRA and telling them that they will always have a friend with you as their president. You called them all patriots. As if to suggest that the rest of us were not. This was after you lied to the parents of the Parkland massacre about pushing legislation to address gun safety and sensible gun laws in this country.  That task force you put together to look into school shootings has met only twice so far. Twice!

This doesn't make it look like you cared so much about school shootings to me. You did it all for political expediency. Just like you are doing now.   




Thursday, May 17, 2018

Strolling with your baby while black.

Now this is just getting ridiculous.

Did you hear about the black man who had security called on him by a frightened white lady who saw him out with his baby in a stroller? 

Yes, it really happened.

 "Well, it looks like the epidemic of well-meaning white folks (I guess) calling the police or security on black people as they go about their lives is par for the course in 2018 America.

It is becoming increasingly clear that although the whites have always had an irrational fear of black people, as they move in closer proximity to them (i.e., via gentrification), they also bring their biases—along with ironic dive bars and astronomical rents.

If you are even a semiregular reader of The Root, you have seen in the last month or so (since the “Starbucks incident”) that this type of shit happens every day—that these attacks (because be clear: When you call the law on black people in America, it is an attack) happen with frightening regularity to black folks from all walks of life.   

This time, a black father was pushing his son in a Washington, D.C., park, and a white woman saw fit to notify park security about “a suspicious man walking the bike path with a baby.”

It should make no difference that that man, Donald Sherman, is a professional, a lawyer, because to some folks, he will always be a scary black guy.

Sherman explained in a May 10 Facebook post that on the day in question, his son was not feeling well, so he stayed home with him.
After some time, baby Caleb seemed better, so he took the little guy out for some fresh air at Kingman and Heritage Islands Park, man-made islands in the Anacostia River, not too far from his gentrified neighborhood. Sherman wrote:
30 minutes into our stroll I got flagged by a security officer in one of those cars marked “Special Police” on the side. I was a bit confused as to whether she was looking for me to stop but she honked twice and pulled over so I got the picture. She told me that she received a complaint from someone who said there was a “suspicious man” walking on the bike path with a baby. She said that when the complainant was asked to describe my race, she declined.
What is clear to anyone with eyes, however, is that Sherman is dark-skinned while his son is not, perhaps prompting the woman to think that a black man somehow stole a white baby. I guess.
Sherman noted that the only person he saw on their walk was “a white lady on a bike who veered off as Caleb and I were walking in her direction” and that she was the one who “saw fit to report me to security.”

Thankfully, Sherman reported that his interaction with the security officer was “pleasant” and that she just wanted to let him know what happened.

But being a black man in America, we know it could have ended in tragedy.

“If this complaint had been made to a different security officer or an actual cop, things could have gone very differently,” he wrote. “This is exactly why we have to talk about white privilege and why black lives matter. Because at any point doing anything anywhere my safety and my child’s safety could [have] been in jeopardy because [of] some well-intentioned complaint.”

Let’s break out the flowchart one mo’ gin for those who obviously need it:"

A brother can't even take his infant out on a stroll without that "fear of a black planet" ruining his day. *shakes head*   


++Photo from Donald Sherman (Facebook)



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Open thread Wednesday.

MORE DISCLAIMERSIt's open thread Wednesday, and, as is usually the case, I have a few things on my mind.

For instance, do you believe Donald trump, Jr., when he says that he didn't recall telling his father about the Russian meeting in trump tower?

Do you still believe Junior's father when he says that he did not know about the Stormy Daniels payment from his lawyer, Michael Cohen?  

Do you think it's cool for black conservatives to play the race and victim card when it suits their purpose?

How do you feel about this spate of incidents in America where white women call law enforcement on Negroes for doing mundane things?  (Walking your baby while black. Now I have seen it all.)

Do you still think that Donald trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize?

Finally, now that we know that Stephan Bannon wanted to suppress the African America vote, is anyone surprised? 


Monday, May 14, 2018

A get well wish, and the White House digs in.

TWEET MESorry to hear that Melania trump was in the hospital having emergency surgery on her kidney. I hope she gets well soon.

I was not surprised, though, to learn that her husband was not by her side for the surgery, and when she needed him most. Apparently her friends were "blind-sided".  Frankly, I am not sure why. You would think that they would know what type of man their friend married by now.

Fellows, I am not sure about you, but I can't imagine my wife going in for surgery where she will be put to sleep and I am not there. The Mrs. would never forgive me, and I wouldn't blame her if she didn't. 

But hey, this is  Donald trump we are talking about. This man thinks of nothing but himself. I suspect that only his daughter, Ivanka (with whom he has a sick obsession) has a shot of being of any importance to him.  And I am pretty sure that he would take the last life-vest if they were the only two people left on a sinking ship. 

Finally, we are now in day five of trump's White House refusing to apologize to the McCain family for what was said about the man at an internal meeting.

Make no mistake, this is all about the leader of that deplorable crew and his unwillingness to apologize for some of the most reprehensible things that he has said  and done in the past.  His White House is more concerned about the leak itself than what was actually said.

He perpetrated a racist lie for years about the former president and refused to apologize to him or his family, and only grudgingly admitted that he was wrong for political expediency. So if I was a member of the McCain family I would not hold my breath.

        

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The bottom of the swamp.

Image result for michael cohen corruption imagesThe following article is from one of my favorite columnists, Will Bunch, who writes for my hometown paper.

"Novartis is a global pharmaceutical giant that’s headquartered in Switzerland, employs 126,000 people, and pulls in $50 billion a year making newfangled drugs, including the medication that ought to be handed out like candy to the American media in the hyperactive age of Donald Trump: Ritalin. But this icon of Big Pharma prefers to deal with politicians the old-fashioned way.
It buys them.

At least that’s the knock on Novartis in places like Greece — when a decade-long bribery scheme that involved two prime ministers and several cabinet members was described by a government official there as “the biggest scandal since the creation of the Greek state” — or China, where Novartis has been accused of paying doctors to prescribe its drugs, or Turkey, where Novartis is linked to a consulting firm that may have kicked back money to government officials.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because there’s growing evidence that Novartis used the same heavy-handed tactics to gain access and influence with the despotic ruler of a backwater banana republic called the United States of America.

It was revealed last week, in a bizarre fashion, that Novartis had paid President Trump’s lawyer and self-described “consigliere,” Michael Cohen, some $1.2 million over the course of 2017 in order to pick the brains of Cohen — taxi-medallion king, phone-threatener extraordinaire, and graduate of America’s Worst Law School™ — for high-level strategy on complex issues like drug-pricing policy.
Or maybe it was because Cohen is one of a handful of people who can speed dial Trump’s personal cellphone. If so, it was slightly depressing to learn that the White House can be bought so cheaply. AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications firm, paid just $600,000 over roughly the same period of time for Cohen’s deep insights into the button-down mind of our current president, while Korean Aerospace cited the New York attorney’s skill in accounting as why it sent him a $150,000 check last fall, right after the Pentagon delayed a massive Air Force jet-trainer contract the firm is up for. You can draw your own conclusion about the $500,000 linked to a Russian oligarch

Those of us rooted in Philadelphia know that pay-to-pay politics is nothing new in America, and in fact our lawmakers and judges have worked hard to ensure that much of it is legal. Still, there’s something especially crass and unseemly about the way Team Trump does it. Big cash payments to an unskilled and sometimes thuggish  “fixer” so close to the president himself — an autocratic ruler who continues to profit from his own business while he runs the country and puts his daughter and son-in-law in a position of great power — is the kind of thing you used to read about in some laughable central Asian dictatorship, Whereverstan, but not the formerly exceptional  U.S. of A. The only thing we’re missing is a glorious military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue…wait, what?
Still, Cohen — and by extension, Trump — have managed to place a uniquely American stamp on our presidential corruption, by making the whole thing look like the lost episode of The Sopranos.

When the FBI recently raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, Cohen — who has a long history of family and personal ties to suspected Russian organized-crime figures — put on a wild-patterned sports jacket that looked off the rack from Martin Scorsese’s prop room, and met his associates outside on the street while paparazzi snapped photos that looked like government surveillance shots. It was reported that — in addition to the big-name clients he did land — Cohen was rebuffed by at least one, Ford Motor Co., and one can only imagine his pitch to the executives in Detroit. “Hey, that’s a nice Explorer you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Welcome to the Bada Bing‘s new location on K Street.

The comic possibilities of Cohen’s racket shouldn’t obscure the fact that this is potentially a huge story, with Watergate-size implications. “Potentially” because there are still so many questions about the president’s lawyer and his consulting business, not least of which being how confidential business records ended up in the hands of Cohen’s worst enemy — attorney Michael Avenatti, representing purported Trump mistress and adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

But since Avenatti’s surprising scoop has been largely confirmed, there are now two important ways to look at this.

The most immediate concern is, quite simply: What did the president know about Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware corporation, and when did he know it? Because consider some things we do know about the business of this shell company formed just as Trump was getting elected 45th president of the United States. Its cash inflows included more than a couple million dollars from powerful corporations seeking influence with the U.S. government. At other times, the cash outflows included the $130,000 intended to silence (and doing so quite badly) Stormy Daniels about her alleged Trump liaison, as well as a $1.6 million payout to a former Playboy model which everyone involved insists had nothing to do with the president, even as some pundits ask some very interesting questions.

Did Trump know which companies were hiring Cohen to influence him? Were monies from these influence-seekers somehow connected to the funds that seem to have directly benefited Trump, by solving problems in his personal life? If not, where did the money that paid off Stormy Daniels come from? The powers that be have made it almost impossible to prove the crime of political bribery in modern America. The wrong answers to these questions, though, could make the impossible suddenly seem possible, and raise serious doubts about the survival of Trump’s presidency.

But what if the dollars from Novartis, AT&T, et al, didn’t benefit Trump in any illegal way? What if Michael Cohen simply sold these large corporations a bill of goods, winning huge contracts for high-level access and insights that he then didn’t deliver. There’s a valid argument that what Cohen did after Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016 is no different from how other Trump insiders cashed in — what, for example, is the deal with Qatar paying Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski $500,000 a month? — and what close associates of both Democratic and Republican presidents or top Capitol Hill lawmakers have been doing for many decades. Under this scenario, the work of Essential Consultants is about as shocking as gambling in the back room of a Casablanca nightclub.
Politico’s Playbook, not surprisingly, spoke for the corrupt and contented classes the other day when it published this:


— YES, guys like Michael Cohen routinely get paid amounts like $1.2 million to offer insights about their boss or former boss. Yeah, it’s crazy. But many readers of this newsletter would not have their McMansion in McLean, their BMW, their membership at Army Navy, second homes in Delaware, cigar lockers and endless glasses of Pinot Noir at BLT Steak and Tosca if that kind of stuff didn’t happen. Newsflash: $1.2 million is not even a rounding error for massive corporations. (The smart companies route these deals through law firms.)

 First of all, why are wealthy fixers buying houses in Delaware, of all places? Second of all, both the cynicism expressed here, and the fact that few people are shocked by it, are in and of themselves … shocking. If what Michael Cohen did here is business as usual, and it may well have been, then why must Americans accept a level of business as usual that would look familiar to an Uzbek tinhorn dictator? Especially when it leads to outcomes that hurt everyday Americans.

How so? It’s hard not to notice the companies that hired Cohen got outcomes that were good for them and not for the public. Novartis hired Trump’s lawyer with a goal of keeping prices for prescription drugs artificially high, which is just what happened the other day when Trump broke his campaign promise for Medicare to negotiate with Big Phama. The AT&T lobbyist who hired Cohen got a private dinner with Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai just a month later — and not long before Pai announced the commission was scrapping net neutrality, a cherished goal of Big Telecom.

If America wants to become an exceptional nation, let’s pass some exceptional laws that restrict this kind of influence peddling. Let’s pass a bill to make it clear that the “strategic consulting” performed by Cohen and his ilk is really just old-fashioned lobbying, that needs to be disclosed to the public. And when the new Congress takes its seats next January, it needs to launch an all-out war on big money in politics, including the unwinding of the Citizens United case, even if that requires a constitutional amendment. We don’t know yet what this scandal means for Trump, but we can do some things to prevent the Michael Cohens of the future. Bada bing, bada boom!" [Source]

Mr. Mueller, please hurry. The Sopranos was great on television and we loved it. I am just not true that we are quite ready for the real live version, Washington style. 

*Image from slate.com

Saturday, May 12, 2018

CAPTION SATURDAY

Image result for TRUMP KOREANS IMAGE

I need a caption for this pic.

Pic from pn.org

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Open thread.

MORE DISCLAIMERS It's open thread night in the fields, and I need your thoughts on a few things:

Does anyone care that Donald trump, Jr. is now dating FOX host, Kimberly Guilfoyle?   

Do you believe Charles Payne when he says that he did not hear  when a FOX News analyst smeared John McCain, a man who is terminally ill and a war hero to boot? Sadly, mocking McCain has become a thing of late with trumpbots. 

Is the pro-trump group adviser's Nazi remarks a reflection of the types of people that Donald rump surrounds himself with?

Why is the press calling the return of these Americans from North Korea "historic" when this happened under the Obama administration on numerous occasions.   

Has the trump administration's actions pertaining to the Iran nuclear deal brought us to the brink of a major war in the Middle East? 

Should Gina Haspel be confirmed as the next CIA director given her history with torture?   

Do you believe  that Matt Patricia should get the Detroit Lions head coaching job now that past allegations of sexual misconduct has come to light?  The team is sticking by him for now.

Finally, speaking of sexual misconduct. How harsh do you think the Judge will be in sentencing Bill Cosby? Will he get jail time? And if he does, how long?  The over and under here is at 5 years. 

Holla.